Looks Good on Paper

The casual outside observer of British politics may think that we have a two- or three-party system. We are actually a multi-party country, with some parties have more viability than others. If you are outside the UK, you may be unfamiliar with the UK Independence Party, known as Ukip. Ukip’s principle aim is the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Though ironically they have 10 members of the European Parliament, Ukip does not have any MPs at Westminster. They field candidates in most constituencies, some of which they have a chance of getting enough votes not to lose their deposit.

They are trying to make in-roads in local elections, where they have an actual chance of winning. One of those potential candidates is a former member of the special forces and holder of the British Empire Medal. Sounds like a winner.

But Ukip don’t want Jack Biggs in a winnable seat. He’s registered disabled. He’s had a double knee replacement. Of course local councillors spend most of their political time sitting on their bum cheeks and there has been no question that Mr Biggs has these in working order. But since he can’t campaign by handing out leaflets and canvassing voters, the don’t want him. Or more specifically, they only want him as a “paper candidate”.

There’s no reason why Mr Biggs can’t use other campaign methods, especially if he has the help of volunteers. That might require Ukip to think outside the box when it comes to campaign methodology. (It wouldn’t be out of the box in terms of US elective politics, but having worked in both systems, the British campaigns are remarkably uninventive.) Sometimes cripples are just good for making up the numbers.

Out of Space

“I personally find the word ‘alien’ offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children,” said Florida State Senator Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. “An alien to me is someone from out of space.”

“Out of space”?

Senator Wilson wants to ban the term “illegal alien” from official state documents.  She prefers “undocumented” to “illegal” and “immigrant” to “alien”.  These are the terms of choice in Miami-Dade. Things are different upstate in Tallahassee. She said she encountered the offensive term when trying to pass a bill allowing children of foreigners to get in-state tuition at colleges and universities.

That’s right, people from Georgia or Alabama would have to pay out-of-state tuition. Americans living in Florida for less than a year would have to pay. I haven’t seen the bill, but I bet legal (or “documented”) immigrants would have to pay out-of-state tuition. Wilson’s philosophy:  break the law and get a break.

I just wish she would be clear. Does she support in-state tuition for immigrants from “out of space”?

H/T Anything & Everything

A Cost of Benefits Analysis

I found out tonight that the Government paid out £57 million in benefits to dead people last year. Actually that’s the good news, because it represents a miniscule percentage of the total benefit expenditure, and because dead people can’t cheat.

Digging a little deeper, I found out that overall there was £2.6 billion paid out due to a combination of fraud and error last year. But I suppose that’s still good news.

The bad news is that £2.6 billion represents only 2.2% of all benefits paid out. That means that overall the taxpayer foots an annual benefits bill of £119 billion. That’s a cost of nearly £2000 for every man, woman, and child in this country. But we know that every man, woman, and child in this country does not pay taxes. Cut out all the children, pensioners, and council estates, and the burden increases heavily on the remainder.

Welcome to the Welfare State.

Taking out the Trash

Maybe a lot of other people haven’t, but the spammers have found me. Thanks to WordPress’ Akismet filter, only one rogue comment has made it through. At this point, 120 have been blocked.

I didn’t even notice until I needed to edit one of my own comments to fix a typo.

This has been one of the little advantages of the underhanded upending of my old web hosting account. After my old hosts screwed up my spam blocking software with Moveable Type, I had clean out spam on a daily basis – massive amounts of it sometimes. When I moved to Blogger, the multi-step process of commenting stopped that. Now I know that WordPress is as effective, without requiring all the hoop-jumping. And with comments fully editable, it is as close to a perfect world as could be expected.

Genteel Blogging

After my excursion over to the dark side, and the way I was attacked and called all sorts of names, I was left wondering if there are blogs on the Right where the there is such a lack of culture and decorum.

I’m not suggesting there aren’t right-wing blogs which demonstrate a marked lack of brain activity. Stupidity is remarkably apolitical. But are there places that left-wingers dare not tread, lest they be sworn at or be called all sorts of names as other others fire in half-baked comments as fast as they can type and hit the submit button? There may be – I just don’t know.

It’s good to be back here in the light, where if you want to disagree with me, I shall ponder your words over a cup of tea before I vigorously, but cordially, answer.

Like Pearls

While tag surfing, I came across a piece about the Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond story I blogged about last night. It was in what has to be one of the most vitrolic anti-anything-but-radical-liberalism blogs I’ve ever seen.

I probably made a mistake by leaving a lengthy comment.  I didn’t get a particularly sensible response from the blog author, and it was unkind toward my family, though it was a bit more coherent than an earlier comment she made, “The Pigs in the GOP go oink oink oink, oink oink oink, oink oink oink…the Pigs in the GOP go oink oink oink…..all daaaaaaaaaay long!” which I believe was related to “Oh Larry, Lex has nothing to defend the GOP and their stinking Pig ways, so he comes here to make us out to be just like them. Ignore him. As a Pig, he’ll find something else to eat and spew.”

Just when I despair because of the silliness of Conservapedia, I realise that for every goofy idiot on our side, they have a raving lunatic on theirs.

Badge Envy

Heather Mills has more than just Paul McCartney angry. She’s gotten on the wrong side of the Federation of Disabled People.

They are all in a huff because Heather is appearing in the ABC TV series Dancing with the Stars. The UK-based group say that she should give up her blue (handicap parking) badge because she is able to get around. “Clearly she has mobility so she should refrain from using the badge. It’s not fair on other disable people.”

Now I’m no particular fan of the strange estranged Mrs McCartney, but as a advocate for the handicapped, and most certainly my fellow amputees, the only thing I can say to the Federation of Disabled People is “on your bike”. I’m glad that on a good day and with the quality of prosthetics Heather can clearly afford, she can dance. I wish I could. It still takes her 35% more energy to do it. That means she gets worn out that much faster. And she’s taking half the weight on a stump in a socket. If she dances for a hour or two (and why shouldn’t she), she may not have much energy or tolerance left to do much more.

The advantage of handicap parking is not just the proximity to a destination. It is the width available to open the door. Someone wearing a prosthesis needs more room to open the door, because even if they can run into the store, they can’t fully flex their knee.

What is mobility? That she isn’t in a wheelchair? There are a lot of people who are not in wheelchairs with blue badges. And how is it not fair on other people? She’s a leg amputee. She has mobility issues and they aren’t going to go away. Why can’t the FDP instead focus on the fact that a disabled person is being showcased in a talent that is mobility-oriented.

The Federation of Disabled People does not appear to be a national organisation. The only thing that comes up when I Google the name is the Brighton and Hove Federation of Disabled People. I also noticed that in every news article it is mentioned that her car is a Mercedes. I don’t know if the original story writer knew this or if it was pointed out by the FDP. Perhaps they don’t like rich relatively mobile amputees.