I suppose, in the first example, the <a> tag doesn't require an href to work on most W3C-compliant platforms, but then it won't look like a hyperlink -- that's a usability issue. It really depends why you want this behaviour, or whether you are adding the event handler dynamically in a script, for example.
If you want to be really, really sneaky, you can write this:
<a href="dummy_url.html" onclick="location='real_url.html'; return false;">Click here to go there</a>
return false; makes doubly sure that the link does not go to dummy_url.html. The status bar will show "dummy_url.html" but the browser will end up at real_url.html.
There are a couple of interesting uses for this, one very cool, and one which could, potentially, be horribly misused.
<a href="non_js/newpage.html" onclick="location='js/newpage.html'; return false;" onmouseover="status='http://mydomain.com/js/newpage.html'; return true;" onmouseout="status='';">Click here to go there</a>
(I included onmouseover and onmouseout handlers for reasons of user-friendliness.)
Note: I have actually seen a website with a link labelled "Click here to go there".