Gary Johnson for US president?

With a media obsession with Clinton versus Trump it’s easy to forget that there are two other candidates standing for US president – Libertarian leader Gary Johnson and Green leader Jill Stein.

With a virtual mainstream media blackout Johnson is polling at around 7-8% (Stein barely rates).

What the distorted media coverage keeps highlighting is the degree of dismay over Hillary Clinton and the degree of dread of having a President Trump.

This is in part reflected in ‘Direction of Country’ polls, which have been showing that about two thirds of voters think the US is on the wrong track. Recent polls from Real Clear Politics:

usdirectionofcountrypolls29sep16

It doesn’t show much confidence in the prospects of either a Clinton or a Trump presidency.

Shouldn’t the media, and US voters, give a bit more attention to a real alternative, especially Johnson? He offers a real alternative to the Clinton/establishment ticket, and surely he is a safer bet then Trump.

Johnson was the governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, and is the Libertarian Party nominee for president.

New York Times gives him a shot at selling himself:

Gary Johnson: Take a Deep Breath, Voters. There Is a Third Way.

The America I know wasn’t on the television screen on Monday night. My America is about the freedom to make choices, pursue your dreams and use your skills as entrepreneurs. It is about having more choices than just red versus blue.

Americans want to be able to choose a president who is capable of reason, of learning from failures, and of telling them the truth, even when it hurts. Most of all, they want to choose a president who will adhere to the Constitution and will make government live within its means.

I’m offering that choice. I wasn’t part of the presidential debate on Monday, but as Americans listened in dismay to the so-called major parties’ candidates, Google searches for “Gary Johnson” skyrocketed.

I’m the third candidate — the leader of the Libertarian Party. My name will be on every ballot alongside that of my running mate, Bill Weld, who like me was a twice-elected Republican governor of a strongly Democratic state.

Our kids are better educated than ever before. Our technology enables entrepreneurship and transparency. Our military is second to none, as it should be.

But our two-party political system is an entirely different story. Hyper-partisanship may be entertaining, but it’s a terrible way to try to run a country.

The US political system – along with the media that feeds it – does look terrible.

We’re the alternative — and we’re the only ticket that offers Americans a chance to find common ground.

Johnson outlines his and his party’s policies and a positive approach.

Less than six weeks before Election Day, independents and, particularly, young voters are increasingly turning to Bill Weld and me as reasonable, rational and experienced candidates. We are the party that can break the partisan gridlock which for too long has kept real solutions out of reach.

The Democrats and the Republicans are symbols of a broken political system. Clinton is a part of a stale establishment, Trump represents a crazy high risk alternative.

If I was a US voter I’d be seriously looking at an alternative, and I think that the Gary Johnson option deserves serious consideration.

Dirty local body politics?

A story of ‘political skulduggery’ in Marlborough from Stuff: Marlborough councillors brand Whale Oil leak ‘despicable’

Political skulduggery has again rocked the council chamber in Marlborough as lawyers are called in to investigate a secret recording of a committee meeting leaked to a right-wing blog. 

The leak to Whale Oil could see heads roll at the council, as councillors who attended the meeting are made to front up on Monday.

A recording of a tense behind closed doors discussion about the cash-strapped ASB Theatre was published on the blog site on Friday.

Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign. 

The committee meeting took place in April. 

Councillor Peter Jerram said the leak was “absolutely orchestrated” and smacked of “dirty politics” emerging in Marlborough. 

“Party politics are definitely involved. But worse than that, it’s gutter politics.” 

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the post was a clear attack on mayoral frontrunner Leggett, after a “very successful” attack on Sowman himself. 

Whale Oil involved in local body politics in Marlborough might seem a bit odd, they don’t usually do much about the provinces and most will have no idea who the current mayor of Marlborough is and who the candidates are.

But Whale Oil has had a number of posts on Marlborough local body politics over the last few months. Why? The Stuff article has a hint.

Political strategist Simon Lusk, who has links to Whale Oil, spoke at a local government seminar in Marlborough earlier this year attended by several council candidates. 

Lusk said at the time fighting for transparency was meaningless unless candidates opposed bad news being hidden in publicly excluded council meetings.

Lusk did not confirm or deny whether he was involved when contacted on Saturday. 

He was told information had come through on the blog’s tip line, he said. 

Why Lusk or Whale Oil might have such an interest in Marlborough local body politics is anyone’s guess.

There’s an unusual number of posts on Marlborough issues at Whale Oil going back to about June. No other regions have had this much attention so they stood out.

I never took much notice of the Marlborough posts apart from noticing they were there, they seemed local and not very interesting.

But what we have now is a story of wider interest:

  • a secret recording of a closed Marlborough District Council meeting in April
  • details of the recording published on Whale Oil in September, on the day that local body election voting papers are sent out
  • council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign

Being asked to resign three weeks before the election closes might be horse bolted timing.

What if the leaker is a candidate for the election? Their name is already printed on the ballot and posted to voters, but it could affect votes.

The Marlborough Express (Stuff) has followed up with Marlborough council announces investigation into Whale Oil leak ahead of final meeting

A secret recording of a private council meeting has triggered an investigation into all councillors and staff who were at the meeting. 

The investigation will require everyone at the behind closed doors discussion in Marlborough to sign a statutory declaration saying they were not behind the recording or it being leaked to a right-wing blog. 

It is a criminal offence to knowingly make a false declaration.

They are taking it very seriously.

Meanwhile Whale Oil had a string of posts on it yesterday too.

As predicted yesterday the Marlborough Express has written an attack piece on me. They didn’t even call for comment.

After we busted John Leggett and the Marlborough Express tried to ignore the story there still remain a number of unanswered questions that I am sure the ratepayers of Marlborough wants answers to.

The Marlbourgh Express doesn’t seem to know the first rule of politics. Explaining is losing.

That’s funny considering the number of posts explaining everything.

Locals don’t dare speak out because their lives will be made hell.  Local news doesn’t dare speak up because their commercial viability is under threat if they speak up against their biggest advertisers.

More explaining. They could be important issues for people in Marlborough, but that’s local stuff that most people are unlikely to be interested in.

So they act like they are violated, scream “Whaleoil” and hope that voters will forget what it is really all about.

What an utter waste of rate payers’ money to try and figure out who helped the truth get to the public.

Stop screaming my name, and start taking responsibility for your own words and actions.

That’s more interesting, to me anyway.

A secret recording was taken of a closed door council meeting and supplied to a media outlet and published during an election campaign.

The recording is a serious matter. If it was a councillor they could be asked to resign. If it was a staff member  I expect it would potentially be a sackable offence.

But Cameron Slater and Whale Oil don’t think that how the information was obtained matters, or is excusable as the story they want to tell is what is important.

Nicky Hager thought something similar when he published Dirty Politics.

Another thing that puzzles me about this – how much influence would Whale Oil have on the Marlborough election?

Most people are barely or not interested in local body elections. Most Marlborough voters are unlikely to read Whale Oil.

I’m baffled as to why Whale Oil is giving so much coverage over several months for a relatively low interest issue that can hardly be attracting many clicks or much advertising to the blog.

It will be interesting to see whether Whale Oil sees their whistle blowing coverage of sufficient importance and interest to continue their coverage after the election.

Local body election – voting papers

My voting papers arrived for the local body elections today. I suppose I had better spend some time shifting through eleven mayoral candidates and over forty council candidates.

The standout for me is the lack of strong choices who stand a chance, especially for mayor. I think the encumbent is likely to win by default but I expect with less votes than last time.

The Auckland and Wellington mayoralties are the only ones getting much media attention nationally, and Auckland seems pretty much a done deal for Phil Goff anyway, with no challengers looking like getting close. That’s a shame but if you don’t have stand out candidates to vote for then the only well known name is likely to win.

Christchurch must be a done deal for Leanne Dalziel because that is getting no attention.

Wellington looks to be a real contest though, especially between Coughlan, Lester and Leggett. Unfortunately party politics has become a major factor there, but i don’t care who wins.

I’ll do my best to make an informed choice in the Dunedin election but enthusiasm (mine) is as lacking as the quality of choices.

It’s sort of weird. I was right in the middle of the campaign last time and now struggle to give a stuff.

But hey – we should all do our bit for democracy and vote.

No early election – but what about two?

Very unsurprisingly John Key has said he has no intention of precipitating an early election. There is currently no good reason for one, and the Government would be nuts go there.

Newstalk ZB: Key shoots down prospect of early election

Prime Minister John Key has shot down Winston Peters’ prediction that there will be an early election next year.

The NZ First leader said on Monday the government wouldn’t last a full term and would have to call an early election because it was having a bad run and had made too many mistakes.

Mr Key doesn’t think so.

“There’s nothing I can see that would indicate an early election, and on the basis of that it will be in the back half of next year.”

Mr Key says he’s likely to announce the date early next year.

That’s standard practice for Key, as it should be, with plenty of prior notice of the next election expected.

There’s been speculation and posturing about the possibility of an early election, but I think two elections are more likely, one near or at the end of the term as it should be, and another soon after if Peters holds the balance of power and proves too difficult to deal with (and Greens unwilling to support a national government).

If negotiations after next year’s election reach a stalemate due to National and Labour+Greens refusing to accept Winston’s terms for a governing arrangement then we may have to go to the polls again.

That could backfire on NZ First if they are seen as the cause of inflicting another election campaign on the public so soon after an extended barrage of bull.

It would also be very difficult for Labour in particular to finance another campaign.

I hope we don’t get a double barrelled barrage through two elections, but I think there’s more chance of that than an early election.

Voters (enough to make a difference) may choose to avert this, as they have done for the last few elections.

‘Reduce rates’ promises

Political promises are Clayton’s promises – they are promises that are not really promises. They are statements of ‘I’d like you to think I would do this if elected but it depends…’

In local body election campaigns ever escalating rates inevitably attract promises but the promises never seem to be delivered.

NZ Herald: Auckland’s would-be mayors offering same old hoary chestnuts

The triennial “silly season” is upon us. Most of the mayoral candidates and many of the council aspirants are trotting out the hoary old chestnuts, reduction of rates, for example, or capping rates. Remember those promises any other times? Remember any rates reductions, or “caps” staying in place?

Does anyone remember anyone actually drinking Claytons, ‘the drink you have when you’re not having a drink’?

…please look at the website showing press statements of Phil Goff…

From Goff’s policies:

  • Rate rises will be kept low and affordable at an average of 2.5 percent per annum or less, if current Council fiscal projections are correct and the CPI stays low.

Rates are high now so can’t be ‘kept low’ by allowing them to continue to rise faster than inflation. And Goff has two out clauses so this is not a promise, it is political snake oil.

Vic Crone delivers fairly similar, glib statements, including “keeping residential rates low”. She will also “cap rates”.

So Aucklanders can expect that their rates will remain high and will be capped at whatever the mayor and councillors think they can get away with without being run out of office.

Crone, like Goff, also proposes to make savings (“at least $500million”) and increase efficiency by reducing “back office waste” and by “efficient procurement”.

Meaningless mumbo jumbo.

Mark Thomas…

…has a more varied menu of options, such as: “freezing rates for a year with targeted options” or, “two further options of targeted growth involving an average rates increase of ‘around’ 2-4 per cent including a version of targeted rates”.

No sign of anything different there.

John Palino proposes to…

“…reduce rates by 10 per cent across the first term” by reducing spending on “non-core” and “wasteful spending”, “discretionary activities”, “payroll costs”, bringing these down “to a more normal level”.

At least Palino doesn’t pretend that rates are currently low, but I don’t know how anyone can believe he can get the support of councillors to reduce rates by 10%.

Penny Bright still doesn’t pay her own rates.

Voters are likely to remember things like this: Len Brown breaks election rates promise

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

Nearly one in four households face rates increases of more than 10 per cent, largely due to big rises in property valuations.

 

Wellington mayoralty

What’s up with Celia Wade-Brown pulling out of the Wellington mayoralty? Was she ever in it this year?

One the Celia for Mayor website:

Celia moving on after twenty years in local government
POSTED BY ON AUGUST 05, 2016

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has announced today that she will not be standing for election in the upcoming local body elections.

 “After 20 years of successful local government service, 6 years as Mayor and 14 years as a councillor prior to that, I am ready to move on and contribute to the community in a different capacity,” said Ms Wade-Brown.

She then goes on to praise herself and Wellington City.

After which there are a number of praising endorsements from a variety people that are more the sort of thing you would expect from someone campaigning for office.

This seems late for the incumbent mayor of a major city to decide not to stand for re-election.

Now the conventions are over…

Now the US main party conventions are over there is still another three months of campaigning, so a lot could happen to change the presidential race.

Donald Trump got a poll bounce after the republican convention but it’s too soon to tell whether Hillary Clinton gets a balancing or beneficial bounce from the just completed Democrat convention.

The latest FiveThirtyEight election forecasts:

  • Polls-only: Clinton 53.3%, Trump 46.7%
  • Polls-plus: Clinton 61.7%, Trump 38.3%

Note that the US president isn’t elected by popular vote, it is decided by electoral college votes decided state by state.

ABC Australia explains: What happens between now and November 8?

Now begins just over three more months of stump speeches, town hall meetings and non-stop campaigning.

To win the presidential election on November 8, the Republican Mr Trump or the Democrat Mrs Clinton needs to win at least 270 electoral college votes.

Each state and the District of Columbia award electoral votes. If a candidate wins the majority in a state they take all of the electoral votes.

Small states like Vermont and Delaware get three votes, larger states like New York and Florida get 29, Texas has 38 and the biggest prize, California, is worth 55 electoral votes.

The winner needs 270 votes to claim the White House. Here’s where each candidate stands based on current polling:

  • Hillary Clinton leads in states with 202 electoral votes
  • Trump got a bounce from his convention last week. His total is now 164

We don’t know yet whether Clinton will bounce back on the back of the Democrat convention.

Some states have more importance than others.

Florida is a major prize and it has been decisive in two of the last four elections. It is a growing population which may favour Clinton, but it is tight.

Mr Trump has his eyes on the old rust belt of the industrial mid-west, from Pennsylvania to Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

That is why you will hear him talking a lot about bringing jobs back from overseas, beating China at trade, making things in America and “making America great again”.

Clinton is a conventional establishment candidate, except that she is also playing the ‘first woman candidate’ card hard. That may or may not help her.

Trump is still an unknown quantity apart from surprising many about how well he has done so far. He is an anti-establishment candidate which has won him a lot of support but also strengthen opposition.

The election will in part be decided by how the two candidates perform over the next three months.

Voters may start to take a more serious look at what a win by either candidate would mean for them personally and for the US – a lot of Americans tend to not think much or care much about the rest of the world. But world events may play a part, especially terrorism and potential threats posed by other major powers.

So far the contest has been very unpredictable, thanks to Trump. Expect him to continue to try and cause upheaval.

But the result may come down to nuts and bolts campaigning. Clinton has a much better organised campaign across the country. Trump’s relatively disorganised and unconventional campaign has to try and catch up in that respect, or they may simply fail to get enough potential supporters to vote, especially in key states.

About the only certainty is that the attention seeking and attention getting will continue.

Democracy in the US may not look pretty – and often looks quite ugly – but that’s something the media thrives on.

Have Green transport promises been costed?

The Greens have announced transport policies for the Wellington local body elections.

Newshub: Greens promise half-price buses for Wellington students

The party is promising a 25 percent discount on off-peak bus fares and a 50 percent discount for students.

Election carrots for students isn’t surprising as that’s a target demographic for the Green

They want more central city and suburban green spaces, free Wi-Fi in all transport hubs, modern electric buses within 10 years and light rail development.

Some of that sounds expensive. And how will they get more central city green spaces?

It’s part of the party’s local election campaign, launching tonight.

I wonder if they will provide details in their launch. Like, how much these policies will cost rate payers. Most students don’t pay rates directly so won’t be worried about local body rates.

 

Australian election

Australian national politics continues to swing all over the place with ongoing uncertainty. Yesterday’s election showed a big swing against the Government but Malcolm Turnbull claims he can still form a majority coalition government.

It appears that things will remain in limbo until the final count is known on Tuesday.

Number crunching the hung parliament prospect

Mathematically, the coalition and Labor are tied at 67 seats each. 76 seats are required to form a majority government.

There are 11 seats in doubt.  Labor is ahead in six of those and Liberals are ahead in 5. 

Which means there are five lower house crossbenchers who could decide the next government.

So where are we at?  Well we have the very real prospect of another hung parliament.   As The Age’s political editor Michael Gordon writes, “Malcolm Turnbull is facing the worse kind of win”

SMH: Australian federal election 2016: Voters walk away from Malcolm Turnbull, results on knife’s edge

Australian voters used the July 2 poll to deliver the rookie Prime Minister a stinging rebuke, with Liberal seats falling across the country and slashing government’s 90 seats in the 150 member lower house.

Malcolm Turnbull’s audacious double dissolution gamble looked to have backfired spectacularly on Saturday night as voters walked away from the first-term Coalition government in droves, raising the chances of another hung parliament and turmoil in Coalition ranks.

Mr Turnbull’s failure to secure a strong majority from voters represents a significant boost for Labor leader Bill Shorten, who campaigned strongly on the party’s traditional strengths of health and education, ran a fierce scare campaign about privatising Medicare and advanced an ambitious plan to cut negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.

At the end of a dramatic night as the government’s fortunes appeared to slide sideways, Mr Turnbull waited until after midnight to appear declaring the Coalition was set to form majority government in the next parliament, while cautioning that voters would not know the final result until postal votes were counted on Tuesday.

The apparent loser claims victory: Shorten triumphant but Turnbull confident of a majority

Labor Leader Bill Shorten declared the Coalition had “lost their mandate” and “Labor was back.”

While Malcolm Turnbull took hours to appear.  When he eventually emerged from his Point Piper mansion he looked disoriented and stressed.

Looks like another ‘stuff the lot of you’ election where no clear mandate has been given by the voters.

Obsession with poll ‘predictions’

There seems to be an increasing obsession for media and pundits to view and use polls as predictors of the future.

When pollsters also become to focussed on the future then I have serious concerns about the purpose and usefulness of polls.

Ina guest post at Kiwiblog – Five Key Takeaways from Brexit   – KIA says:

5 – The polls were wrong … again
6 out of the 8 major polls picked a Remain result on the eve of the vote and the 2 that picked Leave had Leave only just winning versus the 4% eventual lead.

The polls weren’t wrong. They attempted to measure public opinion at the time they were taken. There is no way of measuring whether they were right or wrong.

I thought that polls were not designed to be predictors of the future sample measurements from the past.

If pollsters manipulate their polling and polls to try and match a future election or referendum then their margins of error should reflect this. The 95% probability is supposed to be based on their polling, not voting at a different time by a much bigger sample.

I can understand pundits and journalists trying to misrepresent what polls are, but if pollsters become obsessed with or feel pressured about who is supposedly the most accurate at predicting something in the future then I have serious concerns.

Polls aren’t wrong. They may be inaccurate at the time they were taken (and statistics and margins for error and being based on 95% probability account for this), but they don’t count votes on election day.

Pundits are wrong when they try to use polls to ‘win’ on future predictions.