A Rally

Today is Sunday October 11th. Kia ora katoa. It is now less than one week to Election Day in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

There are three main topics for today: the current US situation, and two firsts for me.

A lot has happened in the US and the news just keeps coming. There was a Vice-presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, during which Pence behaved in a very Trump-like fashion, not answering questions, telling lies, and repeatedly interrupting Harris. She bore this with a smile.  Infections continue to spread from the White House, including that of Stephen Miller. Most of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are isolating. Mitch McConnell won’t go to the White House, because their infection-control measures are so deficient. But the thing that gets me most upset is that Trump is raving about a drug call Regeneron, which is made from the cells of an aborted foetus. This is the man who supports a ban on legal abortion, and who belongs to a party which banned stem cell research. The hypocrisy here, and the fact he’s not being called out for it, just astounds me. It saddens me. Along with everything else he’s done….and of course a friend of his heads up the firm that produces Regeneron. Goodness knows, I don’t like abortion, but if someone elects to have one, for whatever reason, it should be a medically safe procedure. It is going to happen, anyway. It strikes me that if men were more prepared to assist women in supporting unwanted children, the need for abortion would be greatly reduced. I know there are many wrongs here. Just saying, though.

Then there is the ghastly situation of potential violence in America. 13 men were arrested recently for plotting to kidnap, and possibly kill, Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan. Trump has accused her of not being grateful, never mind that they were the criminals in this case, plotting against an elected official!  Polls for the coming election give Biden an overwhelming lead in double digits in some states, but questions remain as to which votes will be cast, which counted, and then there’s the Electoral College. No one knows what will happen; the tension is enormous. It was such a relief to have  Trump “out of action” for a few days, although he continued to dominate the news.

Yesterday we went to a book launch. A friend of ours had published a book. Included in its contents was a story about a mutual friend, and a relation of JD’s, so we were very interested to see what she would say. The book is called A Love Quilt: Later Faith Patches.  It was nice to be there, and to see several old friends. The format was half an hour of drinks, nibbles and chatting, before we sat down for speeches from a woman Minister, a lay preacher who published the book, and the author, Trish McBride, herself. Then we were welcome to buy copies of the book and get them signed.

The next day I went to the Labour Party Rally in the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. JD printed my ticket, and dropped me off there, but did not come himself. I rationalised going before I went: I’d never been to a party rally before; Labour had governed well, and I hope will continue to do so; and that was my priority for the day.

I’m so pleased I went. On arrival, my handbag was checked, and my ticket scanned. The ground floor of the MFC was about 90% full. The crowd was very well behaved.  I was very impressed by how well-organised the whole event was. There was recorded music playing to the waiting crowd. There were great decorations, befitting the occasion, and creating a sombre yet upbeat mood.

The Māori welcome was spine-tingling. The whole hall was in darkness, and then a Māori woman in a stunning cloak welcomed us from upstairs, with the spotlight on her, and the hall remaining in darkness. I felt ashamed of my minimal knowledge of Te Reo, but I could make out “Haere mai” and “aroha”. She was joined in a karakia by another woman.

After this moving beginning, Oscar Kightly was MC for the rest of the ceremony. He enjoyed saying “Talofa!” (he is Samoan). There was more great live music before the Honourable Grant Murray Robertson came on to speak. He is very witty! He made jokes about the Bledisloe Cup rugby game, to be held at the Cake Tin at 4 pm this afternoon.  He spoke well for a few minutes before introducing Jacinda Ardern.

She received a standing ovation, both before and after her speech. She spoke very well, as she does, although I don’t think I learnt anything new. There was a lot said about climate change, and child poverty. She asked us to project forward to 2030, a wise move.  Afterwards, people filed out, in an orderly manner. This is Wellington, after all! There was Labour Party merch on sale, and you could have your photo taken with a cardboard cut-out of Jacinda. I nearly bought a T-shirt for $25, then realised that the election is only a few days away, and there are few places where I’d feel comfortable wearing the T-shirt. Why is that, I wonder? I’m glad I went.

During the week, I tuned in to an IHC Election Special, which I found really frustrating. On Wednesday, I went to a Meet the Candidates meeting in the Khandallah Town Hall. This I found frustrating too, in fact, I left well before it had finished, in order to catch the 2:50 pm train back to Johnsonville. It was well-attended, and I realised I would not be able to ask my questions. I remembered again that while I have time to go to these things now, they can be as frustrating as ever.

This afternoon, as I mentioned earlier, there’s the first Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and Australia’s Wallabies, under two new coaches: Ian Foster, and Dave Rennie. It’s really hard to find out, but apparently the Australians have had to train in quarantine, implying that they really have quarantined (I saw no mention of their arrival, or where they stayed).  Fans from Australia have been unable to come, as well. The All Blacks’ Tour of Australia has been re-jigged so that they can come back here and quarantine before Christmas Day. That’s really important to some folk, while most said hey, they get really well-paid, the quarantine rules shouldn’t be broken for them.

So, now that we’ve breathed a sigh of relief that yes, we can play international rugby at a local stadium, and people can buy tickets and attend in person, we/they can get back to the really important questions of how much beer can you drink before, during and after the game; what difference will it make with Beauden Barrett’s not playing; and how good/awful/useless is the new coach? Oh, and how good/bad/indifferent is the referee?  Talkback radio will have something other than politics to scream about.  On our way into the Rally, we saw several rugby fans making their way to the Stadium, already looking pretty pre-loaded. They’ll need something to warm them up when they get there! It’s a cold, windy place. How nice to be able to do this again. Where in the world would you rather be? (Outcome: a draw, and the AB’s played badly, from the Stuff commentary).

Tonight I watched SNL (Saturday Night Live) on Youtube, fresh from the US. The President’s use of Regeneron (made from stem cells) was finally  commented on, to the effect that when a someone gets your daughter pregnant, the Regeneron produced from the consequent aborted foetus will cure Republicans who are so against abortion.   Or something along those lines. Anyways, it’s total hypocrisy, again, and disregard for human life.

That’s it for now. Nga mihi.

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