The Guardian has apparently just discovered a parliamentary procedure in use for the past, oh, 300 years, and...well, that's about it. In the UK, the House of Commons routinely shares proposed legislation with the Queen or the Prince of Wales when the matter under consideration directly affects the Royal Family. The Queen has no power to change the legislation, and indeed has never withheld her consent as doing so would cause a Constitutional crisis.
Still, it seems, as we say in the US, a bit hinky. And it seems that the Royals occasionally had something to say about the proposals. Naturally, the committed republicans of The Guardian are clutching their pearls indeed:
The Guardian has compiled a database of at least 1,062 parliamentary bills that have been subjected to Queen’s consent, stretching from the beginning of Elizabeth II’s reign through to the present day.
The database illustrates that the opaque procedure of Queen’s consent has been exercised far more extensively than was previously believed.
The investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that she used the procedure to persuade government ministers to change a 1970s transparency law in order to conceal her private wealth from the public.
The documents also show that on other occasions the monarch’s advisers demanded carve-outs on proposed laws relating to road safety and land policy that appeared to affect her estates, and pressed for government policy on historic sites to be altered.
A spokesperson for the Queen said: “Whether Queen’s consent is required is decided by parliament, independently from the royal household, in matters that would affect crown interests, including personal property and personal interests of the monarch.
“If consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record.”
She added: “Queen’s consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal. Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government. Any assertion that the sovereign has blocked legislation is simply incorrect.”
I would also consider myself to be a republican in the UK sense, happy to have the Windsors out of the process of governing the UK and taxable just like anyone else. But the UK Constitution, at the moment, has Elizabeth II Regina as Head of State, whose consent is required for all laws passed by her Government.
I imagine this article will elicit an enormous shrug from the British people.
I'm once again not going to get to 10,000 steps today, and that bothers me irrationally. I just need to accept that when it's -10°C and snowing, and I've got a full day of work and chorus business to do that will take me until 10pm, it's OK not to take an hour-long walk to get the steps I need. I'll still manage over 5,000, and I'm certain I'll hit 280,000 for the month. (The worst month I have on record was January 2015, when I got 310,514 steps—just barely 10,000 a day.)
OK, I'm now going to bundle up, put on boots and a mask, and go for what will certainly be a brisk walk. And then I'm not going outside again until tomorrow.
One year ago today, I started the Brews and Choos project at Macushla Brewing in Glenview, Ill. I chose that brewery because it was easy to get to from my downtown Chicago office; it was farther from the Glenview Metra station than the other brewery in town (Ten Ninety); and I could swing by a third brewery (Old Irving) on my way home.
I visited 25 places by March 7th, which gave me enough runway to keep posting reviews until March 26th. Then the project entirely derailed as the country slammed on the brakes when Covid-19 hit. I got to 11 more places over the summer when the rules relaxed a bit and the weather permitted outdoor beer gardens to open. I made stop #36 (Alter Brewing in Downers Grove) on September 19th.
Things have started to look up, though. Statewide positivity rates and hospitalizations dropped consistently below certain levels, enabling Chicago and the surrounding area to enter "Phase 4" remediation. Restaurants can open within strict guidelines; people can eat and drink inside again. With vaccination rates also going up, infection rates should continue to go down, and breweries will feel more confident about resuming normal operations.
So this evening I spent about 90 minutes reviewing my entire database of Brews and Choos candidates. Most are back but with reduced capacity; 22 have gone to takeout-only models; and a handful (including powerhouses Lagunitas and Revolution) have closed their taprooms for the duration. I've therefore completely updated the map with this new information, including links to each producer's website where I could find them:
The pattern of closures and reductions in service hours, combined with Metra's reduced schedules, mean I still won't be able to fully resume the project quite yet. But I will start adding reviews next Sunday, possibly either by visiting the four spots off the Ashland Green/Pink station in the Fulton Industrial Corridor, or the ones nearest to me that I haven't reviewed yet (Corridor, Green Star, and DryHop, for instance). I've also found out I can return to my downtown office two days a week starting March 1st, which opens up a lot more possibilities for after-work field trips.
We're getting close to the end of Covid-19 dominating our lives. With luck, vaccines, and sensible virus-avoidance discipline, I hope to finish visiting all 68 remaining producers by this time next year.
Yesterday I predicted that I would not get 10,000 steps for the first time in 2021. I was right: I got 7,092. Respectable, but not a goal.
Right now I'm at 4,753, so I could get to 10,000 just by going for a 30-minute walk and then doing normal things the rest of the day. Of course, it's -15°C outside, an improvement over this morning's -22°C but still so cold that only obscenities suffice to describe how cold.
OK, I can do this...I just don't want to.
At least, I don't think so. I'm about to go to a very small wedding where somehow we'll all stay two meters apart, meaning I'll be in my car or indoors all day. Outdoors, meanwhile, it's -13°C. It got down to -16°C overnight, so this qualifies as an improvement.
I was hoping to make 10k steps every day this year, but living in Chicago and having some ability to balance "would like to" against "have to" goals, I say no to today.
I will get 5,000 though. I haven't missed that number in six years.
These are just some of the things I read at lunch today:
- Ezra Klein looks at how a $1.9 trillion proposal got through the US Senate and concludes the body has become "a Dadaist nightmare."
- Several groups of ice fishermen, 66 in total, found themselves drifting into Green Bay (the bay, not the city) yesterday, when the ice floe they were fishing on broke away from the shore ice. Given that Lake Michigan has one of the smallest ice covers in years right now, this seems predictable and tragic.
- Writing in the Washington Post, Bruce Schneier laments that government security agencies have to customize President Biden's Peloton stationary bicycle to make it safe to use in the White House—not because of the effort involved to keep the president safe, but because very few people will have a Peloton with that level of security.
- The resident Orca population in the Salish Sea between British Columbia and Washington has immigration issues and declining standards of living. (So far, none of them has joined the Proud Whales.)
Finally, McSweeney's translates US Representative Marjorie Green's (R-GA) non-apology for being a racist whacko into simpler terms.
Chicago's temperature hung out right around freezing from 11am Wednesday until 8pm last night. Then the cold front passed. This morning we woke up to -12°C with "warming" predicted to take that up to -9°C this afternoon. Then...it gets serious:
Below zero [Fahrenheit] wind chills Friday through Sunday drop to -20s Sunday morning.
We're looking at 10 days of overnight lows below -18°C and daily highs around -10°C. But then, this being Chicago, it will warm up like magic the week of the 22nd, and we'll forget once again how we get slammed like this every other February.
Writing for Just Security, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley decodes the structural and content similarities between the propaganda film that introduced the XPOTUS on the Ellipse on January 6th and the propaganda films a certain central-European country produced in the first half of the previous century:
Fascism is a patriarchal cult of the leader, who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by a treacherous and power-hungry global elite, who have encouraged minorities to destabilize the social order as part of their plan to dominate the “true nation,” and fold them into a global world government. The fascist leader is the father of his nation, in a very real sense like the father in a traditional patriarchal family. He mobilizes the masses by reminding them of what they supposedly have lost, and who it is that is responsible for that loss – the figures who control democracy itself, the elite; Nazi ideology is a species of fascism in which this global elite are Jews.
The future promised by the fascist leader is one in which there are plentiful blue collar jobs, reflecting the manly ideals of hard work and strength.
Fascism uses propaganda as a way of mobilizing a population behind the leader. Fascist propaganda creates an awesome sense of loss, and a desire for revenge against those who are responsible. The goal of fascist propaganda is to mobilize a population to violently overthrew multi-party democracy and replace it with the leader.
This history, both European and American, illuminates the dangers we face today, laid bare in the video. In it, Trump is repeatedly represented as the nation’s father figure. It is laced through with images of masculinity, and mournful loss at the hands of traitors, clearly justifying a violent restoration of recent glory.
The message of the video is clear. America’s glory has been betrayed by treachery and division sown by politicians seeking to undermine and destroy the nation. To save the nation, one must restore Trump’s rule.
We didn't dodge a bullet on January 6th; the shooter just missed, and not by much.
It's exactly 0°C in Chicago this afternoon, which is a bog-standard temperature for February 3rd. And it's sunny, which isn't typical. So, with the forecast for a week of bitter cold starting Friday evening, I'm about to take a 30-minute walk to take advantage of today's weather. First, though:
Early February is also the time of year when we start imagining spring. Tomorrow's sunrise is at 7am for the first time since December 1st, and we had 10 hours of daylight last week for the first time since mid-November. Yes, Chicago typically has an Arctic blast sometime during February. But Spring begins in 25 days. We can make it.
Senate Democrats gave the opposition three whole days to stop dicking around with the latest Covid-19 relief package. Then today, with no more than a shrug, they told the Republicans they're tired of the crap:
Senate Democrats took the first step Tuesday toward passing a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill without Republican support, advancing their efforts to avoid a GOP filibuster.
The vote to kickstart the budget reconciliation process, which passed 50-49, is a sign that leadership expects to have the full Democratic caucus on board for the final package.
The vote comes a day after President Joe Biden met with a group of Senate Republicans, who are offering a $618 billion counterproposal. Although Biden told Senate Democrats Tuesday on a private caucus call that the meeting went well, he also said the Republican proposal is not sufficient, according to sources on the call.
Economist Paul Krugman has already explained the ways the GOP's $618 billion "offer" wasn't serious:
It’s not just that the G.O.P. proposal is grotesquely inadequate for a nation still ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Beyond that, by their behavior — not just over the past few months but going back a dozen years — Republicans have forfeited any right to play the bipartisanship card, or even to be afforded any presumption of good faith.
But what about bipartisanship? As Biden might say, “C’mon, man.”
First of all, a party doesn’t get to demand bipartisanship when many of its representatives still won’t acknowledge that Biden won legitimately, and even those who eventually acknowledged the Biden victory spent weeks humoring baseless claims of a stolen election.
Complaints that it would be “divisive” for Democrats to pass a relief bill on a party-line vote, using reconciliation to bypass the filibuster, are also pretty rich coming from a party that did exactly that in 2017, when it enacted a large tax cut — legislation that, unlike pandemic relief, wasn’t a response to any obvious crisis, but was simply part of a conservative wish list.
Yes. It only took, what, 12 years? But our party's leadership have finally figured out not to play this game. We're not giving Lucy the football on this one.