Some more useful information from the Freedom of Information Act: prices at the Strangers Bar in the Palace of Westminster. Sample prices for a pint of beer include:
You can't help but wonder if this generous pricing policy is the cause of the quality of the legislation they send our way.
Here's an amusing little picture. The graph is for the candidates for speaker of the House of Commons and examines the relationship between their expenses - specifically their total Additional Costs allowance for the last five years - and the number of votes they received in the first round. This is the only correlation I can test because it's the only chance people got to vote for the whole field.
Does it look like there's some sort of a relationship there? Looks to me as if money can't buy you love, but unless you are willing to get down and dirty then you're just seen as goody two-shoes.
Richard Black, BBC online's environment bod, has posted an article about the silly Met Office climate model that is apparently going to be used for making policy decisions even though most scientists seem to think it's risibly bad.
In the comments thread someone raised the issue of the non-availability of the CRU's raw weather station data and was met with a deluge of green rant from someone calling themselves "yeah whatever", who provided a link to the gridded (i.e. "corrected") station data. When I pointed out that this was not what was asked for, I was met with the rather bizarre accusation that I was too lazy to look it up myself and a blunt assertion that the data was available. Surprisingly, this was deemed an acceptable response by the moderators.
In the circumstances, I thought my reply was a model of self-control. I pointed Yeah_Whatever to the notorious words of CRU scientist Phil Jones
We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.
I also said that there was a public interest in the release of the data and that Richard Black had a duty to report the refusal of CRU to do so.
And do you know what, twelve hours later it's still in the moderation queue.
I've done some experimentation. It seems I'm not allowed to link to the evidence. The moderators have allowed me to say pretty much everything I said before, but without the link. I then tried to post to the Phil Jones quote where it appears in a submission David Holland made to the UK Treasury on the Stern report. It's gone for moderation again.
So get that - a document at HM Treasury's website is deemed too dubious to appear on the BBC website!
Update: Now it's even stranger. Another commenter has been allowed to link to a posting on Climate Audit telling the same story. What's different about me?
Roger Pielke Jnr has an article out saying that there is not a cat's chance in hell that the Climate Change Act targets will be met. We would have to build 30 nuclear power stations in six years, which I think you will agree is somewhat unlikely.
We knew that, but it's always nice to have your prejudices confirmed. The Climate Change Act is just political mood music.
The Court of Appeal has passed a historic ruling allowing the first ever criminal trial to be heard without a jury.
Three judges in London, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, gave the go-ahead because of a "very significant" danger of jury tampering.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but the approaches to self-defence of every government in the last fifty years have been predicated on the police being there to protect the innocent. And yet here they are saying that they cannot defend a twelve members of a jury for a short period.
Is the loss of the right jury trial a reasonable price to pay for having a disarmed citizenry?
The Badman has put his thinking cap on and decided that the way forward for home education is to treat home educators like criminals. No, worse than criminals. Guilt will be assumed, innocence must be proven. Even the most persistent offender doesn't have to do this.
Badman's recommendations have not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched the review unfold - it was clear from the start that the review could have only one outcome: that homes should be inspected, children `interviewed' by a battalion of newly recruited Badmans and that those who resisted would be carted off and incarcerated, their childen taken into "care".
We have been here before. A couple of hundred years ago, another group of Britons found that the Badmans of the day were willing to take similar, draconian steps to stamp out what they saw as a threat to their monopoly. Today, ancient liberties are being tossed aside in order to allow the Badmans to enforce their monopoly over the propagation of ideas (however they might dress it up as child protection). Then, it was over tax revenues. Having imposed taxes on certain categories of imports, Badmans in London were alarmed to see the revenue streams upon which their comfortable lifestyles depended eroded by the actions of smugglers, who were eluding the customs men and bringing in tax-free goods from overseas.
Badmans are, of course, willing to sacrifice ancient liberties at the drop of a hat, and in this case they used writs of assistance as their chief weapon in their fight to retain their rents. These writs were effectively general search warrants, allowing the little Badmans to search the premises of anyone they liked at any time. No suspicion need be shown, no evidence presented. The warrants never expired, and the Badmans could not be sued for any damage they caused. Badmans were above the law.
I'm sure you see the parallels unfolding. Will the battalions of modern-day Badmans break down doors? Will they be liable when they traumatise children and disrupt lives? When educational prospects are destroyed, will any Badman hold his hands up and say "We were wrong!". Will they lose their jobs or their golden pensions?
We know they will not, don't we? Badmans are never liable, never accountable. It's always "within the rules". Nobody ever foresaw what might happen. Badmans were only trying to help. It was for the children.
To return to the story of the writs of assistance, in the face of the hated searches, a group of merchants decided to challenge the writs in court. In a fiery speech, their lawyer, James Otis denounced the writs as "instruments of slavery" and argued that such a general warrant was illegal in English law:
A man’s home is his castle, and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it is declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom house office may enter our houses when they please and we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court, can inquire. Bare suspicion without oath is sufficient. This wanton exercise of this power is not a chimerical suggestion of a heated brain. What a scene does this open! Every man, prompted by revenge, ill humor, or wantonness to inspect the inside of his neighbor’s house, may get a writ of assistance. Other’s will ask it from self-defense; one arbitrary action will promote another, until society be involved in tumult and blood.
Otis's oration had its intended effect and the crowd of ordinary people watching seemed suddenly to loom threateningly over proceedings. Might violence ensue if the court upheld the writs? The judges, seeing what was happening, delayed a decision, hoping to win themselves some breathing space. Weeks passed, and then months. It was nearly six months later that the judges dared to bring the case out of mothballs, arranging to have the whole case heard again. This time they got their way and the legality of the writs were upheld.
However this wasn't the end of the story. Unbeknown to the Badmans, Otis and his colleagues had still to play their trump card. It was a trump card from which there was no turning back and from which there would be no negociated settlement. In their worst nightmares the Badmans never dreamed that the people they had abused for so long would ever take a step so drastic or so final.
Proclaiming the rights of Englishmen, the "true, ancient and indubitable rights and liberties" of the Bill of Rights and Magna Carta, Otis and his colleagues - men like Washington and Adams and Jefferson - took up arms against the Badmans, and in the face of apparently insurmountable odds, they won.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
A slightly off the wall, but rather interesting, idea from Ralph Lucas (Lord Lucas to you):
Why not move the seat of government entirely to the Lords?
We'd elect MPs, as now. They'd choose the PM, as now. But the PM would then receive an immediate earldom and move up to the Lords, forming his ministerial team there.
This would achieve the separation of the legislature and the executive that so many are talking about, leaving the Commons as a true legislature, holding the government to account and controlling the finances - and with no legislation at all required to achieve it (though doubtless Lords reform would follow swiftly).
Peter Hitchens discusses Home Ed today, and notes Ed Balls' decision to demand registration of home educators, with compulsory school for those who refuse to comply. Hitchens also notes another interesting decision by Balls. Children who have not received the MMR vaccination will be banned from schools.For these children, home education will be compulsory.
He hasn't thought this through, has he? A bit of a Balls-up, I would say.
In the US Congress, it looks as though they look across the Atlantic to our own Galumphin' Gordon Brown for inspiration. This might look a bit like getting your chat-up lines from Benny Hill, but it seems that even the salary and perks of a congressman aren't enough to attract candidates who can come up with ideas of their own.
When we first heard the phrase "cash for clunkers," we thought the reference was to a Congressional pay raise. Alas, no, it is the bright idea out of Congress to pay Americans to turn in their old cars so they'll go out and buy a new one. As columnist George Will recently observed, this isn't as insane as the New Deal policy of slaughtering pigs to raise pork prices, but it's close enough for government work.
Full story here.
Canada to remove "truth" as a defence to hate speech laws? The Canadian Human Rights Commission is demanding just that, according to this interview with journalist Ezra Levant. It's that whole Human Rights Kill Civil Liberties meme again.