Friday, October 31, 2008

Banning driver distractions - Part II

In my previous post I favoured the banning cell phones and other driver distractions. Yesterday a National Post editorial came out against the new Ontario law. The Post thinks we should just be trusted to be responsible citizens. It would be nice if that were a realistic expectation - we could apply it to drinking and driving as well.

Today, Kelly McParland’s column in the Post, "Silencing the tools of stupidity" , is much more to my liking. The only quibble I might have with Mr. McParland's argument is that he doesn’t go quite far enough. He seems to suggest that "drinking coffee and eating jelly donuts or putting on lipstick while driving" shouldn’t or can’t also be banned. I don’t see why not. They all constitute "driving without due care and attention", they’re just as great a distraction and it’s no more difficult to enforce a ban than for cell phones.

If the Post editorial board wants to come out against laws that fly in the face of individual freedom and personal responsibility they ought to write an editorial that calls for the repeal of seatbelt and cycle helmet laws. These paternalistic laws only 'protect' people from themselves and they distract police from real safety issues. For example, in Victoria I regularly see cops harassing citizens by handing out seatbelt tickets. But I’ve NEVER, not once, seen them enforcing the law requiring drivers to stop at pedestrian crosswalks. Violations at crosswalks are frequent and result in many deaths and injuries each year. If that isn’t clear evidence of skewed priorities I don’t know what is.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ban distractions in the driver’s seat

Ontario is set to ban cell phone use (and other distractions) by drivers. Normally I’m against government interference with private activities like, for example, wearing seatbelts and cycle helmets. It’s none of their damn business and such bans grease the slope.

But I make exceptions where other people’s activities may endanger my life and property. So I support banning the use of cell phones and other portable distractions (including wolfing down Big Macs and juggling hot coffee) by drivers whilst driving. Since so many people do these things banning them often meets with resistance. For example, a popular local radio host once opined (quoting from memory): "anyone who can’t handle a car while using a cell phone shouldn’t be on the road." Now there’s a certain logic to that and I tend to agree - any licensed driver should be capable of driving and phoning under most normal circumstances.

But there’s the problem. Under most normal, benign circumstances people get away with all sorts of behaviour. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine percent of the time careless driving habits don’t result in a crash. It’s that .001% that gets you. In a quickly evolving, hazardous situation a tiny difference in a driver’s attention and reaction time can make a huge difference. Within the last two months I experienced two such incidents. It was obviously a bad couple of months:

(1) driving home on a city street, nearing my turnoff I started signaling a left turn about a block ahead of the turn and a short time later started braking. There was an oncoming car so I had to wait - foot on the brake. Then I heard a horrible screeching of tires behind me and in my rear-view mirror was this big black pickup truck sliding towards me with his trailer whip-sawing side-to-side behind him. I thought that was it. All I could do was floor the gas pedal and try to avoid being rear-ended. Luckily, I did, but not by much. Now, that idiot truck driver had to have been distracted. My tail-lights and brake-lights were functioning (I checked later) and he had lots of time to see them so he’d have had no excuse. Perhaps he was on his cell-phone, I don’t know, but that kind of distraction would easily have been enough to explain his last-second panic braking and locked-wheel slide.

(2) on a city street again, the traffic light turned yellow and, as I often do, I proceeded through the intersection. A car in the intersection, in the on-coming turn lane, was signaling a left turn. I wasn’t quite half way through the intersection when the oncoming driver decided she had to beat the yellow light and, like a squirrel, turned right across my path. Only because I was fast enough to hit my brakes, tires screeching, did I avoid hitting her. All I can say is that if I’d been the slightest bit distracted, by anything, there’d have been a crash.

So go ahead, Ontario, ban the use of all those electronic do-dads in the driver’s seat. And I hope BC soon follows suit.

Update: Blue Like You has lots of commentary on this subject.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In a judicial 'recount' what do they 'count'?

In my riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca the Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza lost the election to Liberal Keith Martin by 68 votes. DeSouza requested a judicial recount which is to be held tomorrow and Tuesday.

I've always assumed that every ballot was checked and re-tallied. Not so, apparently.

Joanne at True Blue was aghast to discover that in the "recount" done in Vancouver South (Dosanjh vs Wei Young) the presiding judge decided not to open all the poll boxes:

... Tory candidate Wai Young said she was disappointed because Associate Chief Justice Partrick [sic] Dohm, who was in charge of the recount, elected not to open all the ballot boxes .

Joanne notes that it seems "sampling is allowed." Quoting a Canadian Press report:

…The Canada Elections Act gives the judge presiding over a recount the option of recounting votes from some or all of the ballot boxes, along with spoiled and rejected ballots - 259 of them in the case of Vancouver South. The results of the recount are considered final …

If true, this sucks, big-time! It's not a 'recount', but a somewhat arbitrary 'estimate' that's possibly less accurate than the original count. With contests this close (22 votes) unless they check and recount all the ballots there's no way to know with a certainty that satisfies the losing candidate. Not much wonder Wai Young says she is "disappointed".

There have already been suggestions of Elections Canada bias. This non-counting 'recount' can only further diminish voters' confidence in the process. Inevitably questions arise as to a judge's integrity, party affiliation, etc.

I'll be watching to see how the 'recount' goes in my riding tomorrow.

More at Climbing Out of the Dark, Crux of the Matter, Unambiguous and elsewhere.

Update (Oct 27): Blue Like You, sda, DAWG, Jack's Newswatch, Maclean's. Sda commenter Oz provides a relevant quote from a great champion of freedom:

"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything." ~Joseph Stalin
Upperdate(27 Oct) EJDF Recount confirms Martin win:

... Conservative challenger Troy DeSouza called off the recount after it became
apparent that the number of disputed ballots would not bridge the gap between
him and Martin.

... The Times Colonist won a precedent-setting decision to attend and report on the judicial recount. It's believed to be the first time a media organization has been allowed to witness the Elections Canada proceedings, which have previously been held in secret.

And there's a little more here.

UpperUpperdate (Oct 28): The Times Colonist provides the anatomy of the EJDF Martin/DeSouza recount. I still don't understand why DeSouza terminated the recount. According to the story: "Around 5:20 PM, with all the votes counted...". So why not let the the hard work of the 100 or so volunteers "count" as the final result?
More at Blue Like You.

Tory “attack” ads “poisoned” the election!

"Research" by Angus Reid pollsters Andrew Grenville and Mario Canseco proves that Conservative TV ads "poisoned" the election. (Canseco also appeared on CBC’s Politics (Friday, Oct 24 - about 17 minutes in) where he held Don Newman’s rapt attention.) This has to be some of the lamest, most idiotic drivel I’ve ever seen. According to their "research" the "attack" ads:

... persuaded 11 per cent of Canadian respondents not to vote for any candidate at all.

... were key to producing the lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history...

... were part of a disturbing trend that is "poisoning the well" of Canadian politics.

It’s hard to imagine people being this stupid. If I was otherwise neutral but extremely offended by one party’s ‘vicious’ "attack" ads I’d make damn sure I voted for someone else. One can’t help wondering whether the Angus Reid "researchers" controlled for the possibility that their poll questions might have suggested yet another lame excuse for respondents’ not bothering to vote - which they wouldn’t have anyway.

And oh, those ultra-sensitive lefty souls:

... Many supporters of Canada's centre-left parties tend to be more idealistic than Conservatives, said Grenville. Idealists, people who dream of a better world, are prone to drop out of the electoral process if they believe it has become corrupt or unethical, Grenville said.
What a load of unmitigated hooey! "Idealists" who "dream of a better world" and "drop out". Are they serious?! Also, these "idealistic" lefties are well known for their tendency to be violent should they happen to ‘disagree’ with their political opponents. For example, (and) they firebombed BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s wife’s school office, firebombed his constituency office and harassed him during a commercial flight ("So! He’s in a democracy.") The Angus Reid "researchers" are based in Vancouver so they have no excuse for not being aware of these events.

"More idealist than conservatives"? Methinks that’s the "researchers" nuanced way of keeping the "Conservatives are meanies" meme alive and well. Then, for good measure, they add the blatant insinuations - "corrupt or unethical".

And didn’t Grenville and Canseco watch the leaders’ debates? Never mind a few seconds of TV commercials, Stephen Harper was subjected to two full hours of sustained attacks from four of his "idealistic" rivals. They called him a "fraud" (May), uncaring and incompetent (Layton), a liar (Dion), a Bush stooge (many times, all of them). And these debates were replayed several times in full and segments were repeated in TV news stories.

This is all reminiscent of the loopy sympathy many media pundits developed for poor, sad Stephane Dion. Dion’s thrice restarted interview exposed his obvious ineptitude. Instead of keying on the obvious they turned it into an attack on that meany, Harper. And let’s not forget that moronic Andrew Coyne’s weeping over the "disgraceful" treatment of Dion - that "kind and decent man". What is this, election politics or the Oprah f***ing Winfry Show?

The ridiculous whining from a severely biased MSM peanut gallery has gotten way beyond tiresome.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jennifer Lynch - how'd she get her CHRC appointment?

Ezra Levant finds it "hard to believe" that Jennifer Lynch, Chief of the scandal plagued Canadian "Human Rights" Commission, is a Conservative appointee. Delving deeper into her background Ezra notes that she's had a long association with the Progressive Conservatives; for example she was once Joe Clark's chief of staff. That's bad enough but Ezra has lot's more to say, reasonably concluding with: "Fire. Them. All. Starting with Lynch."

So, it's not really surprising that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson appointed her in 2007 and that he'd be reluctant to get rid of her.

Now let's hope that when PM Harper forms his new cabinet: (1) Nicholson will no longer be Justice Minister, and (2) the new Minister is a lot more inclined to clean house at the CHRC.

It's rumoured that Nicholson is being considered for the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Denny Crane on gun control

Thank God for guns!

[H/t: Vinney]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What global warming?

Lawrence Solomon believes environmentalism is on the wane:
Stock market indexes have plummeted from their inflated peaks. Oil and other commodities have likewise plummeted. The next commodity to tumble from unsustainable peak levels: environmentalism.
Three reasons:

... For the same reason that clothes go out of fashion after the masses embrace them, mass-marketed environmentalism will come to be disdained. That won’t sell for long.

... Much of [environmentalism] is misguided, based on misunderstanding and vacuity. Global warming is by far the biggest such example.

... A third reason for my prediction that environmentalism has peaked is the instinct for self-preservation among the political leadership.

And Lorne Gunter’s column amplifies the global warming case:
"It may be that more global warming doubters are surfacing because there
just isn't any global warming
." Eg:

... Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, says, "It's practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling," as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an "almost exact correlation" between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2."

... An analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing, Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C., declared, "Man-made global warming
is junk science,"
explaining that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year "equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration ? This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number."

... Professor Christy has been in charge of NASA's eight weather satellites that take more than 300,000 temperature readings daily around the globe. In a paper co-written with Dr. Douglass, he concludes that while manmade emissions may be having a slight impact, "variations in global temperatures since 1978 ? cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide."

Bongo the lion

I really loved this shot of Bongo, star of George of the Jungle, and his trainer at the Bowmanville Zoo.
According to the Post it was taken in 1998 which was about 3 years before Bongo died of lung cancer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stephane Dion is no quitter

Stubbornly clinging to his beloved Green Shift™ plan and blaming his defeat on the "low" Conservative propaganda campaign that "cemented a distorted image" of him in Canadians’ minds, Stephane Dion has vowed to stay on as leader of the Liberal Party until a new leader is selected next spring.

It remains to be seen whether the LPC will accept his decision. But let's hope he stays - his yapping in the House is easier to take than Ralph Goodale's or Ken Dryden's.

MSM reaction: Star, Post, Globe.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama not a natural born citizen of the U.S.A.?

Obama’s eligibility to serve as POTUS is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by Democrat Philip J. Berg (former Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania.)

Berg summarizes his case in "October Surprise":

[H/t: Vinney]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election - Bah!

Well, it's a better situation than before the election, but only slightly. So we're in for more of the same-old-same-old.

As it now stands, before the recounts, the Conservative minority is 143 seats or 46% of the total. A few more numbers:

- subtracting the two separatist provinces (Nfld and Quebec) the Tories hold about 59% of the remaining seats;

- west of Quebec they hold 62% of seats, and;

- west of Ontario 75%.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am a free Canadian

"I am a Canadian,
a free Canadian,
free to speak without fear,
free to worship God in my own way,
free to stand for what I think right,
free to oppose what I believe wrong,
free to choose those who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold
for myself and for all mankind."
House of Common Debates, July 1, 1960*
Vote Conservative
Stop the HRC

Monday, October 13, 2008

Barack's ad

Meanwhile, in Presidential politics:

Barack Obama has put out an ad that simple minded John McCain cannot use a computer.

Well, guess what? Barack Obama can't land a jet plane on an aircraft carrier at night.

[h/t: Vinney Di]

Election: "The Red-Green Show"

The Dion/May collusion story is heating up. Here's Joanne at Blue Like You:

The question has now become: What exactly was the deal between Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May? Was it merely a simple pact agreeing not to run an opposing candidate from each of their parties in their respective ridings?

... The interesting thing here is that Stephane Dion has never come right out and denied this rumour. He’s talked around them, but never directly said that it didn’t happen. Just yesterday, Jane Taber challenged him on CTV’s QP. He evaded the question.

... My question is, why isn’t this situation being investigated by Elections Canada?

Good question, Joanne!

More at A Dog Named Kyoto who points to Bourque Newswatch (Oct 12th):

Meanwhile, Grit insider Ray Heard, perhaps the first Liberal to demand publicly many months ago that Dion should resign for sheer incompetence, is telling friends tonight that this news on Bourque of the May-orchestrated Green Shift to the Liberals comes as no surprise. "Its all part of a secret deal between Dion and May. But what maddens me is that, when I publicly endorsed my friend, Peter Kent, the Conservative in Thornhill because he deserves a seat in Ottawa, I was denounced as a traitor and worse by fellow-Liberals. Surely, if Dion can endorse May and persuade her to get her voters to defect to the Liberals at the eleventh hour, I have the same right to ask Grits to vote for Kent....This, friends, is another Liberal farce that will end in tragedy. I shall be the first (admittedly sorely jaundiced) Liberal to call for Dion's head when the votes are in late Tuesday."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The deep roots of the meltdown

It goes all the way back to 1977! Back to Jimmy Carter's affirmative action policies. And check out "community organizer" Barack Obama's role as radical left political action organization (ACORN) advocate and lawyer.

Whenever things go to hell look for socialists and socialism as inevitable root causes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Media spin - Mr. Mean versus Mr. Bean

Stephen Harper has endured more nasty insults than all of the other leaders combined during this election. The leaders' debates were a prime example of the nasty attacks - to which Mr. Harper responded calmly, reasonably and without complaint.

But the minute Mr. Harper dares take advantage of Stephane Dion's bumbling ineptitude out comes the idiotic charge, not that Dion's a bumbler, but that Harper is unfairly picking on the poor handicapped Dion. And during an election! My God, the nerve! What a meany! Of course Harper's "mean-spiritedness" is a stereotypical image that the liberal media has long cultivated and perpetuates at the tiniest of opportunities. It's now taken as a given in the MSM.

Joanne, at Blue Like You says it all: "MSM pundits seem to be framing this election as a choice between ...
________ Mr. Mean_______________and Mr. Bean."________

Friday, October 10, 2008

Globe endorsement - a curse or a blessing?

The Globe and Mail endorses Harper and the Tories. The front end of the editorial is packed full of Mr. Harper’s many perceived ideological and personality faults - ie. he’s insufficiently Liberal. However, having considered the alternatives the Globe has concluded:

... On balance, Mr. Harper remains the best man for the job in the tough times now upon us. He deserves if not four more years, at least two more years. By all logic, he should be cruising to an easy majority.

... If you want to meet the most inflexible head of a major political party, Mr. Dion takes it in a cakewalk....He's had a relatively strong week to be sure, but has never been much inclined to make the kind of mid-course corrections required in uncharted waters. He is a priest not a proselytizer, better at righteousness than salesmanship.

... Meanwhile, the supposedly obstinate Mr. Harper has been nothing if not open to adjusting as circumstances change. He was masterful in building a "big tent" centre-right alternative to the "natural governing" Liberals. His vision, determination and adroitness restored political competition to Canada, not an insignificant accomplishment.

... Indeed, the most important characteristic Mr. Harper has shown over 33 months in office is a capacity to grow.

The Globe then goes on to advise Mr. Harper on how he needs to "grow" and change and govern once/if re-elected:

... Instead of carping about a dysfunctional Parliament, for which he holds much responsibility, Mr. Harper should throw out his previous playbook and try making the institution work.

... use his political skills to wring real meaning out of last spring's apology to aboriginals.

... revisit his wholly inadequate climate-change plan.

... His attitude toward China, which thankfully looks to be in transition, has been rooted in old-fashioned, missionary-driven zeal.

... His instincts to play as small a role as possible, other than for electoral gain, are perhaps not as wrong-headed as those who would have the state play too big a role, given the excesses of past interventions.

Some of that is OK and some is typical Liberal hooey. I like the last one best - "as small a role as possible" for the state. If taken seriously that would require Harper to dump large chunks of his own "modest" platform. Of course what is actually possible depends on the size of his minority/majority.

Overall, at this point in the election, I’ll take the Globe’s position as more a blessing than a curse.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A majority for Mr. Cool?

Yesterday my wife and I participated in a rally at the Victoria airport to boost Stephen Harper who was on his way from Victoria to Richmond. It was a big, enthusiastic crowd and there were rousing warm-up speeches from all the local candidates.

We shook hands and exchanged a few words with the PM as he worked the crowd and made his way to the microphone. He was in excellent spirits and in his usually fine speaking form. That guy is one cool customer.

Which brings me to my point. I’ve previously noted my own lack of enthusiasm for this campaign and my disappointment with the debates. I often found myself wishing Mr. Harper would take the gloves off and go after his opponents with a little, no - a lot, more fire. But that seems to be the strategy. Stay cool and leave the fire to others - like Dianne Ablonczy and Jeff Norquay yesterday on Mike Duffy Live. Both of them did an admirable job of aggressively hammering their Lib and Dipper counterparts for their irresponsible, over-the-top, economic fear-mongering.

George Jonas has an optimistic take on the Harper ‘stay cool’ approach:
... Yes, I still think we'll have a majority Conservative government. The latest polls suggest otherwise, but I'll go out on a limb.

... Exhibiting generalship Prince Mikhail Kutuzov would have envied, Harper lured his hubris-ridden opponents to their doom ...

... In fact -- never mind Kutuzov -- Harper showed himself to be the political equivalent of the legendary George Chuvalo. It's not that opponents couldn't lay a glove on the Canadian heavyweight; it's just that it made no difference.

... Why did Canada's opposition leaders do this to themselves? You'll have to ask them ... because I don't know. Possibly it's central to their belief system that Canadians regard any lapse from a state-centred, quasi-socialist credo a sin if not a felony.

... Anyway, did his imitation of frozen-fish-unjustly-maligned-of-being-alive get Harper a majority? I think so. By this week, even emerging with an ever-so-cautious platform seemed safe enough for the Conservatives.

Thanks George - that large dose of optimism is welcome when the chips seem so down. And today, on the TSE, they’re down another big notch.

More optimism here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Taliban Jack is back!

In response to news of a British commander’s assessment that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won, Jack Layton expresses his happiness:

"I'm heartened by the words of this senior military commander ..."
Good news for the Taliban is good news for Jack. That really ought to boost troop morale.

Detailed analysis at The Torch where the bottom line is:
The one thing Brigadier Carleton-Smith did not say was that the Taliban would win. But that is certainly not the impression most readers would get from those headlines, which seem to say the glass is plain empty--if not entirely broken. Most people think if you don't win, you lose. I really do think the Western media are increasingly taking sides: the wrong one. Fie on them.

The great debates - Part II

Stephen Taylor put together this excellent video from the English debate showing Harper's opponents "shadowboxing" George Bush:

Predictable -- and sad.

[via Blue Like You]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The great debates

I watched the French language leaders debate last night. It sucked! The format was awful - three opposition leaders and the Green leader beating up on Stephen Harper. And Harper, when he could get a word in (in the voice of a high pitched, lithping interpretor), came off flat.

So, tonight, having had enough Canuck-style aggravation for one week, I skipped the English language debate and watched the U.S. VP debate. It was excellent. Sarah Palin did very well - she held her own against the much more experienced Joe Biden who also did very well. Maybe the McCain ticket has been revived - once again.

Update (Oct 3): Couldn't help myself. I've now seen the playback of last night's English language debate. Luckily I could fast forward through large chunks of it. Compared to the Palin/Biden debate it came across as uncivil and juvenile - someone said it was a little like a two hour episode of Question Period only with the opposition all shouting simultaneously. I don't know how Harper mangaged to keep his cool through it all. That Jack Layton is sure an aggressive, nasty, insulting piece of work. If Harper had said some of those things there'd be no end of the MSM's piling on about what an angry, mean-spirited right-winger he was.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Enough is enough. “I’m outta here!”

Victoria has become a city (like many I’m sure) run by scolds and control freaks. Regional "Authorities" (they do seem to love ‘authority’ around here) police everything from the cleanliness of recycled cans to water restrictions (needed or not) and draconian anti-smoking bylaws.

Recently, a privately owned and operated sports and entertainment centre, encouraged by the health Nazis' attitude, decided to take things a step further and conduct searches and seizures of patrons’ tobacco products ...

Which prompted this excellent letter:

Re: Save-On centre butting out, News, Sept. 17, 2008.

Has the Capital Regional District and Save-On-Foods centre gone completely insane?

You will not be confiscating any of my tobacco products or infringing on my rights, as I never plan to return to the land of the over-regulated and bylaw-saturated non-personally responsible hell that is being created in Victoria region and Canada as a whole by silly self-serving bureaucrats trying to justify their existence by telling me how to live.

Anarchy works for me. That is why I moved to Mexico. I write you as I enjoy a beer and a smoke in a public shopping mall, just ahead of commute back home in my vehicle, while not wearing a seat belt, watching smiling families riding in the back of pick-up trucks whiz by me at 110 kilometres per hour.

Guess what will happen if I crash? They will say it was my own fault. No one to blame but myself. How liberating. Adios!

Sean Randall
Formerly of Langford

Great letter, Sean! I know exactly where you’re coming from.