Friday, September 19, 2008

The British Nanny State marches on

Stuck at a train crossing? Turn off the engine or pay fine

Motorists who leave their engines idling unnecessarily face an on-the-spot fine under plans being considered by councillors. West Sussex County Council is seeking to reduce exhaust emissions by penalising drivers who refuse to turn off their engines while parked or waiting at railway crossings. A pilot scheme expected to be introduced in January will allow traffic wardens to fine motorists who break the new rule. A council spokesman said: "We want to get people out of the habit of leaving their cars ticking over out of convenience." Signs are already in place at level crossings ordering people to switch their engines off.

"We would stress that this is just an investigation at this stage," the spokesman said. "If it was ever introduced the fixed penalty would probably be œ20. But we would hope that the vast majority of motorists would be willing to cooperate."

An Air Quality Management Area has already been set up in Shoreham, where the trial will take place. It will be expanded across the county if it proves successful. Traffic wardens will be instructed to issue a warning to drivers who are caught with their engines idling. There will, however, be exemptions for lorries with freezer units and other vehicles that need to keep their engines ticking over.

Roger Turner, 30, a taxi driver from West Sussex, said: "Who gave them the right to tell us to switch off our engines? It's not like we try to waste fuel.It's just another example of the nanny state, telling us what we can and can't do."

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "I think the council has to be careful. They need to run a high-profile campaign if they are going to do this because to prosecute people without telling them about it first would be very harsh."


Laura Ingraham vs. David Brooks on Palin and elitism

In today's New York Times, David Brooks launches a critique of Sarah Palin, essentially concluding that her populist appeal is dangerous and ill-conceived. He yearns for the day when "conservatism was once a frankly elitist movment," one that stressed "classical education, hard-earned knowledged, experience, and prudence." Brooks, like a handful of other conservative intellectuals, believes Palin "compensates for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness."

Well, at the risk of appearing brash, let me say that I am glad to see my old friend finally pushed to the point where he has to make an overt defense of elitism, after years of demonstrating covert support for elitism. We conservatives who believe Governor Palin represents a solid vice-presidential pick should be extremely comfortable engaging this issue.

Brooks's main argument against Palin is that she lacks the type of experience and historical understanding that led President Bush to a 26 percent approval rating in his final months in office. Yet the notion that the Bush Administration got into trouble because it didn't have enough "experience" is absurd. George W. Bush was governor of Texas for six years. His father was president. His primary advisors on matters of foreign policy were Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell. In 2000, it could hardly have been possible to find a more experienced team to head up a GOP administration. Brooks's notion that the Bush Administration was "the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice" is simply ludicrous. Does anyone believe that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld count as "anti-establishment"?

Of course, we could also consider the Nixon Administration. Who had more experience than Richard Nixon? How'd that work out? What about George H.W. Bush? How did his administration do? What about Herbert Hoover - who had vast experience both in terms of dealing with foreign countries during World War I and in terms of dealing with the U.S. economy as secretary of Commerce? How did he do? The truth is that Brooks's basic claim - that experienced leaders are necessarily better than inexperienced leaders - simply doesn't hold water.

Now let's look at the broader issue of elitism versus populism. For Brooks to be right, his elites have to make better policy judgments than average Americans. But he overlooks the fact that in America we have a particularly bad elite, an elite that holds most Americans in contempt and has no sympathy for the history and traditions that make us great. And that elite has been wrong on issue after issue for most of the last 40 years.

Who was more right about the Soviet Union, the elites or the people? Who was more right about the need to cut taxes in the 1970s, the elites or the people? Who was more right about the need to get tough on crime, the elites in black robes with life tenure, or the folks cheering for Dirty Harry? Who would Brooks trust to decide critical issues regarding the War on Terror today, the voters or the inside-the-Beltway types who lose sleep over tough interrogation tactics?

Elites - particularly our American elite - are much more likely to go for the latest fad, for seek to apply whatever notion is currently trendy in the salons of Europe. To find true Burkean conservatism in this country - to find citizens who are both respectful of our country's traditions and anxious to see our country remain a world leader - you have to turn to the voters.

The truth is that it is no longer possible to govern this country through a conservative elite. We have a radical elite, an elite that believes in climate change, gay marriage, unrestricted abortions, and the United Nations. We have an elite that intends to make massive, liberal changes to every aspect of American life. This elite ruins almost everything it touches - from the schools, to the media, to the universities. Giving more power to the elites means watching the United States become more and more like Europe.

Populism rests on two great insights. First, it understands that the people (taken as a whole) are often wiser and more prudent than the elites. Average people are almost always respectful of tradition, while elites tend to act like an angry mob trying to tear down the old idols. Second, populism understands that it's not enough to actually have the right policy ideas, you have to have the will to take on the elites who will try to prevent those ideas from going into place. In order to get anything accomplished, the GOP is going to have to use public opinion to override the objections of liberals, including liberals in the media.

Does Sarah Palin have the political skills to successfully govern this country from a populist perspective? It's far too early to say. She is certainly the most promising such figure to come along since the elites were denouncing Ronald Reagan. And therefore we should all wish her well. It is silly to criticize her at this early stage until we know a lot more about her abilities as a leader. I am glad to say that her instincts appear to be sound.


Another Muslim rapist in Australia

There have been some notorious cases of Muslim rapists in Australis -- Bilal Skaf, Hakeem Hakeem etc.

He was the person she trusted to get her home safely. Instead, teenager Jess Loiterton's taxi driver dragged her into the back of his cab and raped her. But as cab driver Md Kowsar Ali, 22, was convicted of the appalling sex attack yesterday, Ms Loiterton said: "He thought he could get away with it. He definitely picked the wrong girl."

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph after waiving her right to anonymity, the 19-year-old said she spoke for every sexual assault victim who could not speak up for themselves. "Don't keep it to yourself, it eats you inside. You know you haven't done anything wrong. I didn't do anything wrong. If it happened to me, it could happen to anybody."

During Ali's trial, the jury was not told that Ms Loiterton is gay, and she was a virgin. "But it doesn't matter whether I am gay or not - what happened wasn't right," she said. She believes Ali took advantage of her because: "I was drunk and I was an easy target".

Ms Loiterton went drinking with friends in Darlinghurst last November, but when she became drunk she decided to go home. A friend put her into Ali's cab. The District Court was told that Ali twice indecently assaulted her as she drifted in and out of sleep. Then Ms Loiterton woke to find the cab stopped in a side street.

Ali forced her into the back of the taxi and raped her as she screamed at him to stop. Sobbing hysterically, she called triple-0 as she escaped. Played in court, the recording moved several people - including jurors - to tears. It took the jury less than two hours to convict Ali of having sexual intercourse without Ms Loiterton's consent, rejecting his claim that she invited it.

Arrested within an hour of the attack, the accounting student from Bangladesh told police he made a mistake but his passenger did too - by making him interested in her....

The law automatically protects the identities of sexual assault victims but Ms Loiterton made the brave decision to be named, saying: "There shouldn't be any reason I have to hide." Judge Peter Berman, who will sentence Ali in November, agreed when lifting a suppression order. "Why should a person in Ms Loiterton's position, entirely blameless, who has been preyed upon by a taxi driver, feel embarrassed about what happened to her?" he said. "She is entitled to hold her head up high and identify herself as a blameless victim."


Big brother is watching you in Australia too

(British municipalities are notorious for spying on local residents)

TIM RAHR was sitting in his backyard in Paddington "re-reading my tattered copy of Franz Kafka" when the phone rang. It was an officer from the City of Sydney council calling about his application for a resident parking permit. "She wanted to know why was I applying for a parking permit when she could clearly see on her computer satellite image of my backyard that I had off-street parking," Mr Rahr recalled.

It turned out the "apparatchik from central office" was looking at the wrong backyard but Mr Rahr was outraged that his council could monitor anyone's home: "It gave me a nasty feeling. It was just like Big Brother, like something out of 1984."

The council does not use Google Street View or Google Maps, but rather its own in-house aerial mapping program, E-view. Mr Rahr said "that makes me feel even more creepy. It's a bit weird they have their own program just to look at us."

In fact, it is common practice for councils to use aerial mapping programs to keep track of information they gather. Every time a dog attack is reported, a complaint made, a development application submitted or a bike rack installed, the information goes into the mapping system. "If councils didn't have this kind of information, it would be a concern. We wouldn't be able to do our job," said a City of Sydney spokesman, Josh Mackenzie.

More than half the council's staff can log into E-View, which allows them to search on a person's name or address or zoom in on the detailed aerial photos. The City of Sydney's spatial information co-ordinator, Matthew Dobson, said that the aerial shots were soon to be updated. "A number of councils have E-View or similar programs. You just couldn't get by without them," he said.

However, the secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said statutory authorities should not be gathering personal information without consent. "For example, on Google Street View you can email Google and have the photograph of your property removed. Where's the equivalent facility on this?" he asked.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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