Thursday, November 13, 2008

NOT PJ: Mourning Helengrad

I have great pleasure in welcoming Bernard Darnton to the regular NOT PC roster -- and he'll be here every Thursday to give you a regular fix!  He's not PJ O'Rourke, but ...

On Saturday night I ungraciously raised a glass to Helen Clark’s demise, but there is one thing I will mourn. The useful life of that wonderful neologism “Helengrad” has come to an end. The siege of Helengrad is over although, oddly, it was the besiegers who were the ones swallowing the dead rats.

Coined by a caller to Lindsay Perigo’s Politically Incorrect Show many years ago, the word “Helengrad” captured the mood of a decade perfectly. The search is on for a replacement.

Given that John Key’s stated policies are indistinguishable from Labour’s, a similar derivation is in order. Key claimed that he would oppose interest-free student loans with every bone in his body; it’s now National Party policy. Those vertebrae are missing in inaction. He later called Working for Families “communism by stealth”; a week later it was National Party policy. Previously, when I’ve referred to National MPs as spineless communists it was overblown rhetoric. Now I just repeat what’s in their own press releases.

So – out comes the Russian atlas and I begin the quest for my own little corner in the dictionary of Modern English. There isn’t much. Key-katerinberg? Vlad-Key-vostok? Key-ev? Perhaps – and I apologise in advance for this – Ta-John-Key-stan? None of them work. They’re clumsy; they try too hard, or don’t try at all. “Helengrad” feels right in your mouth, even if it sticks in your throat.

Even if there was a perfect verbal fit it still wouldn’t work because John Key is just too smiley. It’s impossible to imagine him as one of those miserable specimens propped up atop the Kremlin wall on May Day watching the SS-18s trundle past.

He looks much more like one of those nice friendly chaps you’d happily give a seven-hundred-billion-dollar bailout to.

Ignoring his policies, which I try to do, John Key’s smiliness does make people feel optimistic. His ascent to the premiership has given hope to a generation of schoolboys – boys who have never thought it possible that a male could make it into the top job in this country. For years now, boys in New Zealand schools have failed to perform well. Surely Key’s aspirational trajectory, on behalf of lads everywhere, will encourage these boys to do better. Years from now they will show off their NCEA certificates proudly emblazoned with “Not Underachieved”.

Rumour has it that behind the smile is a man of steel, which would be a nice technical acquittal on the “every bone in my body” charge. We haven’t seen this steely frame during the campaign. In fact, if someone had paid John Key twenty dollars every time he did a back flip he’d be a wealthy man. But he’s going to need that steel to face the economy.

Key’s supposed financial acumen is going to be vital if we’re to get through the current recession. My biggest fear is that he ignores what he knows is best and instead pursues an economic populism that will just make the problem worse. More deficit spending and the rewarding of the guilty will turn a recession into the meltdown I have no desire to live through -- and this will be painful: John-obyl.

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26 Comments:

Blogger libertyscott said...

"Keynesia" is the one I like, after all it's interventionist in a liberal democracy, not Soviet "state is sovereign" evil - he's not one of those, hopefully.

New Skeyden just sounds weird as another example.

11/13/2008 07:39:00 am  
Blogger Nigel Kearney said...

Why not just keep calling it Helengrad?

After Lenin was dead, Leningrad kept its name as long as his ideological successors remained in power.

11/13/2008 08:05:00 am  
Anonymous Richard McGrath said...

I don't see too much wrong with the 'Key-ev' which you suggested. I do remember seeing a movie years ago starring William Hurt called 'Gore-Key Park'.

11/13/2008 08:16:00 am  
Anonymous Richard McGrath said...

How about Key-zakhstan, Tur-key or Hell-sink-key?

11/13/2008 08:20:00 am  
Anonymous John. F. Minto said...

There is a better one.

Key(ass)hole

11/13/2008 08:55:00 am  
Blogger Johnny-johnny said...

Key-oto?

11/13/2008 09:32:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

'“Helengrad” feels right in your mouth, even if it sticks in your throat.'

Beautiful line. It's the perfect description & I laughed out loud. :)

11/13/2008 10:08:00 am  
Blogger Jeff Perren said...

Probably it's too obvious, but there's always Keystone Cops. For those not familiar with silent films, these were clowns who dashed around wildly with no clue what they were doing or where they were going, usually on the way to put out a fire they had started.

11/13/2008 10:10:00 am  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

PJ: His ascent to the premiership has given hope to a generation of schoolboys – boys who have never thought it possible that a male could make it into the top job in this country.

Heh, brilliant!

11/13/2008 10:33:00 am  
Anonymous Ann said...

John Key’s smiliness does make people feel optimistic

Yet at the same time making him look so annoyingly feeble-minded it just makes me want to hit him. Here's a quandry for libertarians... does a shit-eating grin count as initiating force?

11/13/2008 11:08:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

"Here's a quandry for libertarians... does a shit-eating grin count as initiating force?"

I've always thought so. ;^)

11/13/2008 11:30:00 am  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

Brainstorming we have the following:

Ho Key Minh City (Ho Chi Minh City)

Clarke Quay (the name of a Wharf in Singapore), Helengrad's Quay/Clarke-key-stan.

Uzbekeystan (Uzbekistan)

Keyzakhstan

Keyrelia (Karelia)

Keyongyang (Pyongyang)

----

Other Key-words:

Irakey (Iraqi)

Viet Key-ong (V.C.)

Irakeyfication (Iraqification)

Key-mantics (Semantics)

Key-ting (for Ayn Rand fans)

Johnkeyta Khrushchev (Nikita Khrushchev)

Skeleton Key (no meat on his policies)

Key Jong Il. (Kim Jong Il)

11/13/2008 11:42:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

Would you mind if I just stuck with 'John Boy'?

11/13/2008 12:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Re pet names for JK himself, I've always been partial to 'Guy Smiley'. Guy was my favourite Sesame Street character, the archetypal game show host. He was magic.

JK has a wide, muppet-like no teeth smile.

11/13/2008 02:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

JK has a wide, muppet-like no teeth smile

Which begs the question "Who's pulling his strings?"

11/13/2008 03:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PC, how can you be so cocksure when the Libz got trounced 10:1 by a joke party? - 10 times as many people made the effort to go to the polls and vote for a joke party than they did the Libz??!!

Advice for NZ Libz:

1 - Dispense with the infantile, Christian hating bigotry. (individuals should be free to believe what they want, right?)

2 - The well of NZ has be jaundiced by socialism; to such an extend it will take decades of concerted effort to recover from. (if it does at all, and the Libz, who present themselves as an esoteric gang of self-indulgent navel gazers ain't helping)Get used to it.

3 - There is more to being a libertarian than, spewing invective towards Christians, banging on about legalized party pills, and kissing the arses of homosexual political activists.

Now, get it sorted.

Narcissistic fools.

Signed: 2092-DA4

11/13/2008 10:50:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Anon, don't expect soul searching from the libz. The soul doesn't exist. And if you persist long enough, in the end you'll find a jury that will acquit you.

11/13/2008 10:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

With regards to Anon's comments (nice name by the way), I'd have to add that the thing about the Libz that put most of the people I know off them was the anti-communism rants, especially those against Barrack Obama. It's impossible to gain support while demonising someone that a massive majority of Kiwis supported. Don't take this as a pro-socialsim/communism stance, I'm obviously anything but that.

One thing to consider when you bang on about communism is that not a hell of a lot of NZers under the age of 30 even remember the Soviet Union or East Germany, let alone the cold war, let alone some of the worst aspects of communist Russia.

Obviously we still have China, Cuba and North Korea, but they're not seen as the big evil spectre that the USSR was. Cuba's a non-entity, North Korea is conotrolled by a mad midget, and China is so damn big that it would barely matter what kind of regime was in charge, it's always going to be a law unto itself, and at the moment provides more potential for NZ capitalists to make money than nearly any other market.

For the average NZer, the 'face of the war against communism' is the Vietnam War. Most of that knowledge comes from movies in which the American govt is usually portrayed as the bad guys due to their rampant idealism, and the communists are a bunch of primitive savages running around in black pyjamas.

Even rants about the evils of socialism do more harm than good in my opinion. I can't stand socialism because of the drain it's caused on society. It would be far better for the Libz to target 'the drain on the taxpayer dollars' than 'socialism', purely because the former is something relatively tangible and more easily understood.

It's something that the average kiwi can identify with, whereas the latter is merely another theoretical 'ism' which most people don't understand (or even want to).

What's worse, it's more easily open to counter-arguments from the left, who can always try to claim some kind of bullshit moral high ground by claiming they're trying to help the less fortunate members of society.

11/14/2008 08:24:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Ann

Sadly the average New Zealander lives in a state of willful ignorance. Far from approaching the attributes of the legendary Kiwi good bloke who innovates solutions to difficult problems with a bent piece of number eight fencing wire and a few hand tools, the average New Zealander is a weak simpering wet- a beggar who promotes an entitlement to the property and productive labour of others. Such are consumed with two abiding passions- the active dislike of anyone who has more or who has achieved more than he, and an expectation of being supported by the nanny state no matter what the cost.

Understanding the nature of socialism and Communism (or any form of collectivism) requires the expenditure of effort. It requires the winning of real knowledge through serious research, reading, conversation, listening, interviewing, asking questions,analysis, cross checking, careful thought, integration, logical application of the faculty of reason, etc. etc. etc. Many avoid doing any of that. Is it any wonder they are put-off when someone raises a topic they are unfamiliar with (haven't bothered to learn about and are not going to be arsed about now)?

Is this the result of state run educational institutes? Is it a result of a terrible culture? Whatever the case, the result is a chasm of ignorance which dooms these semi-literates to a life of dependenace and impotence- helpless, dependent, social ballast, Stalin's "useful idiots."

It is an abiding tragedy that so many people exist in such a state. No wonder they cling to various religions, mythologies and perverted philosophies without having a clue about that which they bleat, let alone that which confronts them.

You've pointed out that the average Kiwi identifies with the idea that the taxpayer funds are "drained" to pay for government and its activities and schemes. OK. Fine. So, can the average Kiwi explain why it is OK or not OK for such funds to be expropriated from individuals in the first instance? After all, shouldn't the less fortunate members of society be helped?

Interested to read your comments.

LGM

11/14/2008 12:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

LGM... I agree with nearly everything you say, but I look at things from a different point of view. My way of thinking is that the Libertarianz need to appeal to the things that matter to the average kiwi, or they're doomed to failure.

They accept taxation, but would like less of it; when Libertarians go on about taxation being an immoral concept, most NZers think "Yes, well, that's all very nice, but it's never going to happen".

If a party promoted the idea of a heavy reduction in social welfare spending and gave the corresponding savings in government expenditure directly back to the average working kiwi via tax cuts, it would be more successful than thumping a table and decrying socialism as encroaching communism. It's seen as fanatical 'reds under the beds' crackpot stuff, and does nothing but harm the Libertarianz standing in the public eye.

Where I disagree, is the dismissing of average NZer as semi-literates clinging to various religions etc. It's nothing but unwarranted snobbery. The average kiwi is neither semi-literate nor religious. He/she is simply busy with life and sees looking after the family as more important than spending time understanding the different arguments and beliefs that surround them.

Why would they want to dedicate themselves to the winning of real knowledge through serious research, reading, conversation, listening, interviewing, asking questions,analysis, cross checking, careful thought, integration, logical application of the faculty of reason, etc. etc. etc, when spending time with the kids is of far more importance to them?

When you fail to appeal to people on their level, about topics that really matter to them, then denounce them as uneducated idiots, you unjustifiably insult them and lose their respect (and vote). It's no different to trying to explain something in Latin, then calling the other person an idiot for
1) Not understanding what you're saying, and
2)Not going off to learn Latin so they can understand what you're saying.

On top of that, for every anti-socialist argument you put forward, there's a counter argument by someone every bit as assured about the validity of their argument as you are... Joe Public will just walk away and let you fight, because the arguments aren't important to them.

11/14/2008 03:34:00 pm  
Blogger Andrew said...

Anonymous,

You're not a Christian homophobe are you?
"Advice for NZ Libz:

1 - Dispense with the infantile, Christian hating bigotry.
[snip]
3 - There is more to being a libertarian than, spewing invective towards Christians, [snip] and kissing the arses of homosexual political activists."

No, clearly not.

Gutsy name by the way. I know poofs with more courage.

Ann, you write:
"With regards to Anon's comments (nice name by the way), I'd have to add that the thing about the Libz that put most of the people I know off them was the anti-communism rants, especially those against Barrack Obama. It's impossible to gain support while demonising someone that a massive majority of Kiwis supported."

You're absolutely right - Winston Churchill never won any support criticising Hitler; Chamberlain was far more popular when he brought home "peace in our time."

Uuggh - reading your post again, you don't know how much of a weasel you come across as. "Don't attack a foreigner you view as terrible because it might make you unpopular with the majority here who like him."

11/15/2008 07:43:00 am  
Blogger Clunking Fist said...

Ann, Ann, Ann.

You tried, but Like other "normal" folk, you won't succeed. And I think you've hit a nail on the head: they are snobs.

As much as I can agree with a lot that libz say, they have to live in a real world with folk who don't agree. So until the majority agree that taxation is force, then they must live with taxation. Unfortunately, too many of them try to convince folk of the correctness their ideas by shouting. Unfortunately for us all, there are some on the left who are clever and subtle.

11/15/2008 04:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

Andrew, don't interrupt the adults when they're talking, it's rude.

However I must thank you for providing a perfect example of what is wrong with the Libertarianz. Wading into an intelligent exchange of ideas with such a stupid comment underlines every point I've made about where the Libz are going wrong. Comparing support for Obama to the shameful ignoring of Hitler's intentions is laughable in the extreme.

If my pointing out why the average Kiwi isn't supporting the Libz is enough for you to call me a weasel, you truly are a pathetic, dickless little man.

Clunking Fist... I'm not going to give up hope on the Libz. Not yet, anyway. Most of them seem to be intelligent people, and it's only a matter of time before they realise where they're going wrong. It's not merely a case of snobbery; the most damaging thing to them is this pathetic outrage they're bound up in.

11/16/2008 04:25:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Ann

You wrote: "On top of that, for every anti-socialist argument you put forward, there's a counter argument by someone every bit as assured about the validity of their argument as you are... Joe Public will just walk away and let you fight, because the arguments aren't important to them."

It's the disposal of Joe Public's liberty, values, property, earnings etc. that are the subject of the argument, so it's worse than careless, reckless even, to ignore the issue, give up thinking and walk away. Still, you are correct- that's what most do.

Your comment implies that you would answer the question (can the average Kiwi explain why it is OK or not OK for such funds to be expropriated from individuals in the first instance?) in the negative. That is, the average Kiwi Joe can't provide an explanation and worse, isn't interested in making the attempt. He has no idea why or why not. Thus promoting tax reduction is an exercise in futility. After all, for ever argument to the positive, there is one to the negative and it would appear to be the habit of Joe to "walk away"...

Now at this point, prior to proceeding any further, it is opportune that we put aside Joe Public for a moment and settle the validity of the ideas ourselves.

Can you explain why it is OK or not OK for funds to be expropriated from individuals in the first instance? I'd be most interested in your response to this issue.

LGM

11/17/2008 01:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Ann said...

LGM, I see taxation as theft, pure and simple. I resent every single cent of my hard earned money being taken against my will before I even get my hands on it, and I resent it with a passion. Duties, levies etc seem to do little except make things harder for business.

At least with my rates, I have a choice as to whether I pay it or not, with PAYE I obviously don't have that option.

I didn't intend to imply that the promotion of tax reduction was futile. In fact it's exactly the opposite, especially when the reductions are substantial.

11/17/2008 02:53:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Ann

You wrote: "I see taxation as theft, pure and simple. I resent every single cent of my hard earned money being taken against my will before I even get my hands on it, and I resent it with a passion. Duties, levies etc seem to do little except make things harder for business."

Please explain why this is correct and why it is not OK for funds to be expropriated from individuals.

I figure you can do it, but bear with me and have at it..


LGM

11/20/2008 07:03:00 am  

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