Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Another rubbish idea

Monday, August 28th, 2006

This (and also here). Has anyone actually weighed up (sorry) whether all this recycling makes any kind of economic or environmental sense? Or is it just largely meaningless ritual activity? Meanwhile:

Mr Bettison, chairman of the LGA’s environment board, said charging to collect non-recyclable rubbish would give people ” a real carrot to recycle”.

Sigh. That’s a stick, not a carrot, you illiterate. I guess abuse of language must be built into some people’s job descriptions.

A people may prefer a free government, but if by momentary discouragement or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or trust him with powers to subvert their institutions, in all these cases they are unfit for liberty.
John Stuart Mill

Plus ca change

Monday, August 28th, 2006

well, I’m back. I’ve been in New Zealand for a month, and had fun rebuilding my computer after getting home (it’s rather like my grandad’s hammer now, as all that remains of the original is the box and the power supply – still cheaper than buying a new one to the extent I’ve treated myself to a 19-inch TFT screen, and I can now read text without squinting). In the interim nothing much seems to have changed, just more of the same old rubbish. The people who want to control every aspect of our lives (for our own good of course) are extending their tendrils of surveillance and instruction; and those who should be standing up to them are still shuffling their feet, looking at the ground and waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

I must have missed the announcement that the terorists have won, though. Did it happen while I was away? Anyway, we’re now officially told to be terrified all the time. And apparently the threat to our culture and way of life is so severe that the government have decided to lock out freedoms away and change our way of life to keep it safe. For as long as it takes.

Now that all looks to me as John Reid, Princess Toni et al. just don’t get it. But then, it’s pretty clear that they never did.

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
Thomas Jefferson

Passive smirking

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

The EU today announced its intention to tackle what it described as the growing problem of the indirect effects of excessive humour across Europe.

“While laughter has been long recognised as the best medicine, like all medical treatments it can be harmful if taken to excess. It is these extremes of comedy that we are concerned with, and in particular with the indirect effects, which we call ‘passive smirking’.

“We are not talking merely about the damage to self-esteem, and indeed the long-term psychological harm that can be caused by the humiliation of being the only one not to ‘get’ a joke. Of greater concern is the potential physical harm caused by laughing too much – we are all familiar with the saying ‘it only hurts when I laugh’. It’s no longer just a question of individual choice – telling a joke may have an effect on a whole theatre full of people, causing uncontrollable laughter. Studies show that more than one million work days were lost in 2004 as a result of muscle strain brought on by excessive laughter, and humour has been implicated in a number of choking accidents.

“But we must also not forget the unpleasantness of having beer sprayed over one by a person overcome by the effects of too much humour; to say nothing of the economic costs in dry-cleaning.”

They also plan to look at the problems caused by humour on the internet.

“People are worried about internet pornography. Yet the economic effects of too much humour are not insignificant. We estimate that across Europe one keyboard per second is being disabled by coffee or other beverages, solely as a consequence of internet-based humour. There is a clear case for action across the EU to harmonise the amount of humour available, and to place clear safety limits on the number and type of jokes to which EU citizens can be exposed.”

A spokesman for the Confederation of Comics, Stand-up Comedians and Radio Scriptwriters (COCSUCARS) condemned the plans. “When puns are outlawed, only outlaws will have puns,” he said.

“We may indeed in counsel point to the higher road, but we cannot compel any free creature to walk upon it. That leadeth to tyranny, which disfigureth good and maketh it seem hateful.”
JRR Tolkien, Morgoth’s Ring

120 reasons not to vote labour

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Wow. Just that. Read it and weep.

“When the republican virtue fails, slavery ensues.”
Tom Paine, Common Sense

The spin cycle

Monday, May 1st, 2006

I don’t know about you, but when I heard that Bungle allegedly didn’t offer to resign, my first thought was that this was the first sign of Tony’s spin machine briefing against his colleagues again. He really can’t seem to make his mind up. First Bungle has his full support. then he leaves the Commons chamber as Bungle gets up to deliver his grovelling not-quite-apology. Then over the weekend he had to wait and see.

This is on top of the interesting re-defintion of ‘Ministerial responsibility’ – the more you screw things up, the greater your responsibility to stay on and clear up the mess.

Still, now the spin cycle has begun, I think we can safely assume that Bungle will soon be hung out to dry.

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.
Edward R. Murrow

Harry, hassle, hound him…

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Many other have already commented on this, but once more the Dear Leader speaks out on crime and civil liberties:

“I would impose restrictions on those suspected of being involved in organised crime. In fact, I would generally harry, hassle and hound them until they give up or leave the country.”

So how about making a start with those who are suspected (on quite strong grounds, I might add) of having engaged in the organised selling of Honours (a criminal offence). Yeah, go on Tony – do us all a favour. Harry, hassle and hound yourself till you give up or leave the country. And while you’re at it could you arrange for the police to seize all the assets of the Labour Party until they can prove that they came by them honestly. Or is this just another set of proposals that apply to everyone except you?

This guy is supposed to be a trained lawyer – do you think Cherie did all his exams for him? He certainly seems to have only the vaguest grasp of the fundamental principles of British Law. And he still doesn’t know what civil liberties are.

Meanwhile the deeply unpleasant Charles Clarke continues to find new ways to appal. I was especially intrigued that in all the discussion (and this included the journalists) everyone involved managed to avoid the word ‘innocent’ – as if the mere fact of having been put on trial were somehow evidence of some form of guilt (‘no smoke without fire’, etc.). Can someone explain to me why ’21st century crime’ (whatever that means) has to be fought with 16th century methods? And where did ‘Not proven’ spring from? I’m sure he just makes stuff up on the hoof.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that one of the prize possesions in the National Archives in the next century will be the collection of envelopes on the back of which New Labour policy was developed.

“Having escaped restraint, they were, like some people we know of, afraid of their freedom, did not know what to do with it and seemed glad to get back into the old familiar bondage.”
John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Letter from America

Friday, March 31st, 2006

25th March 2005
I won’t pretend that I don’t want to seem melodramatic. But I want to echo Thomas Paine and say these are the times that try men’s souls. I am here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a state which is itself one of the fruits of early American imperialism. Yet when I consider developments in the UK and in the USA, it is surprising how often I am brought back to the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the writers who inspired them.

It is all too tempting to see the American rebels as just that – American. Yet they based the justification of their revolt on the liberties and rights they felt they possessed as Britons. And in the face of those liberties and rights being ignored or overridden, they reacted as Britons would – they rebelled against the King’s Government.

So now we find ourselves in the USA faced with laws, in the form of the Patriot Act (and what a despicable give-away name that is), that are prima facie unconstitutional, yet somehow unchallenged as the pygmies who comprise the political elite fear to appear ‘weak’; and in the UK with laws that effectively strip away all the protections of the citizen against the might of the state apparatus, and laws that aim to enhance the power of the executive to a level unknown in the whole of British history.

In a sense it is impossible to be melodramatic about this – the reality outstrips any hyperbole I might attempt. But in defence of our liberty, for ourselves and for our children, we need to affirm, in Jefferson’s (still striking) words, that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”; that no government can have any legitimacy which seeks to undermine, limit or curtail these rights; and that whether these acts are motivated by ignorance or malice, we will be swift to condemn and slow to forgive.

We are a free people. The state should be our servant not our master. Britons, strike home!*

*Tim sums the reasons up as ever more thoroughly and intelligently than I ever can.

Update: I am now in California and Internet-connected again. In the meantime, the House of Lords appear to have fallen for a trick that a school-child would have seen through. It’s the database, you fools. Sigh.

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

(T)Ruth will out

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Just exactly how greedy are New Labour ministers? And why do so many of them (and their partners / spouses / significant others / hangers-on) seem to see political office as nothing more than a means of personal enrichment?

Thanks to A Logical Voice for the link.

[Edit] Forgot to add a quote :

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.
Woodrow Wilson

Cash for coronets

Friday, March 17th, 2006

It seems that not telling colleagues and partners about whacking great sums of money you’ve received (whether by gift, loan or bribe) is quite the pattern in the modern (how they love that word) Labour Party*. But peerages aren’t for sale, oh dear me, no. Of course not. And I am just back from a trip to Alpha Centauri.

Oh and by the way, isn’t there a bit of a contradiction between “Mr Blair also said that he wanted to renounce the right personally to nominate people for honours” and “Mr Blair would also retain the right to nominate a small number of peers“. Errrm, call me an old-fashioned logician, but I don’t see how you square that circle. Has he really reached the stage when he can’t even tell when he’s lying in public?

*It does make one wonder about Jack Dromey’s qualifications as party treasurer if he didn’t notice an extra £14 million in the accounts.

The king has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent Swarms of Officers to harass our People and eat out their substance.
U.S. Declaration of Independence

Disparate Housewives

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Some people apparently find nothing unusual in a £344,000 gift.

Others meanwhile – well, I don’t need to spell it out.

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.
Abraham Lincoln

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