Shakedown Highways - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Shakedown Highways

Re: Eric Peters’s Highway Robbery:

I usually agree with Mr. Peters, but as a Virginia resident, I can’t back him on this one.

In the last ten years, our streets and highways have become increasingly dangerous. Day after day, I see idiotic maneuvers on a routine basis, maneuvers that I never saw just a decade ago.

The state has a long list of failures. Almost no requirement to demonstrate driver competence before one can obtain a license.

But (like our borders), the state has (for the most part) refused to enforce existing laws, at least to the point where people obey them.

So if they are actually enforced (doubtful) I support $1,000 fines on people who are caught going 20 miles + over the posted speed limit. Odds are, this is not the only offense these drivers are guilty of. They’re likely the same people who tailgate an inch or two behind people who are driving over the speed limit and in the center or right lane of the highway, who weave in an out of traffic without using their turn signals and who do the recent “drive up to within 2″ of the rear bumper of the car in front then slash away, like you’re the drafting car at a NASCAR event,” maneuver.

Fine them all. And if they can’t pay it, revoke their license and get them off of the road.

Usually I am all for the government staying out of my business, but in the case of your article I find I stand with the cops. I drove many back roads in my job here in N. Georgia and the people who came to these mountains every weekend brought their Atlanta bad manners with them. The same people who tailgate, pass on solid yellow lines, and speed are the same ones who run people off the roads and cause wrecks.

The only time I ever had road rage was because I saw a middle-aged man, with his wife in the car, tailgating a van that had small children in it. The van’s driver couldn’t go any faster because of traffic but that didn’t seem to compute with the idiot driving behind. Once we all cleared the blockage the driver took off at about 70 in an area where the local people routinely pulled out with only a cursory glance around. I finally caught up with him and pulled in front and made him slow down to the speed limit. I wouldn’t let him pass me either. I was an idiot, but so was he. I called the highway patrol after another near miss and was told Georgia was woefully short of patrolmen and didn’t ticket for tailgating unless it caused an accident. I hope Virginia slows its drivers down to reasonable speeds. Good luck to them.
A Grateful Reader

Memo to Eric Peters: Congratulations to Virginia. It’s about time somebody takes on the morons who think traffic laws don’t apply to them. I hope the rest of the states take notice. With traffic increasing every day and road improvements not keeping up, people have to pay attention every second to their driving. Cars and trucks are so comfortable and quiet today it is easy to allow that speedometer to climb to unsafe levels. I remember an old Chrysler that had a needle you could set on the speedometer that would activate a buzzer if you exceeded the setting. Of course cruise control took that gadgets place but most people set them too high.
Richard Hall
Galion, Ohio

Fear not ye federal government employed suburban Virginians!

I’m sure these fines will not apply to the uninsured illegal aliens who work at the low wage jobs American’s won’t do. Like trimming your shrubbery and cleaning your homes.

The state has to get the money from some place to keep that beltway open and running. We people out here in flyover country count on you bureaucrats and pundits getting to work on time, dont’cha know?

By the way, isn’t Fairfax a sanctuary city?

Keep your eyes on that odometer!
Bob Keiser
Wilkes Barre (not far from Hazelton), Pennsylvania

“In essence, the state grows ever more hard-hearted toward relatively trivial offenses that almost never involve either violence against individuals or even against property — while at the same time it becomes ever more blithe toward real crime and real criminals.”

This sentence from Peters’ excellent essay nicely encapsulates exactly what has happened in Little Britain over the past 10 or 20 years. It is the inevitable future of any society in which political and ideological elites become well insulated against ordinary citizens. What is especially shocking to a non-Virginian is how extreme, militant, and pervasive this aggressive, radical elitism is among Virginia Republican elites. Then again, look at the Republican U.S. Senate leadership. And then again, look at the Democrat political classes anytime.

Jefferson, as ever, was right about the need to overthrow political ruling classes from time to time. America is badly in for it if we end up with two permanently elitist, ruling-class, and self-perpetuating political party machines.
Eric Free
Denver, Colorado

We are living in an age when our highways can be seen simultaneously as a sacred cow and cash cow. The Congress and legislatures in every state are pushed by the Chambers of Commerce for more roads for economic development instead of mobility. Albuquerque is an exception. In spite of copious counter examples, the idea that cornucopias are made of asphalt seems to be indestructible. Inexplicably, Libertarians and those who hate capitalism and love to cripple businesses with regulation and taxes tolerate taxation of mobility rather well. The concept of excess profit seems to have no applicability when the government collects it.

For the sake of brevity, Mr. Peters probably left out the idea that increased fines would increase safety. The safety argument is at the root of other cash cow schemes like red light cameras and other robo ticketing schemes. The cash rolls in but the safety is often lacking after the statistics are compiled. There is also a surge in the use of the courts to fight excessive fines.

I am glad they are doing this in Virginia since I don’t live there. Some things are good if only to act as a bad example. Although this does not rise to the level of chopping off the hand to suppress theft or automatic imprisonment for drunk driving, this “reform” is taking place within the context of a massive financial mismanagement of our highway infrastructure.

In Tennessee, the inflation adjusted gas tax is below the level experienced in the Great Depression. Our legislators have no stomach for increasing gas taxes. Even if they did, congestion relief is still a low priority. The Eco-Freaks, bless their hearts, think we are paving the world and have to be dragged like recalcitrant children.

Temptation to exceed the speed limit can be traced to excessive urban congestion. Lane miles must grow with population and putting the lanes in the wrong place and for the wrong reasons will not fix congestion. Punctuality is a very admirable character trait but it is becoming more complex to calculate the safe margin of time to allow for travel.
Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

My response to Eric Peters’s “Highway Robbery” is: If you don’t like “grossly disproportionate punishment” then don’t break the law by speeding. Any questions?
Scott Christie
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

“Civil remedial fines” will end when De. David B. Albo (R) starts accumulating fines and points. What’s good for the peasants is good for the elite.
Clasina Segura
New Iberia, Louisiana

Re: Philip Klein’s General Rudy:

Somebody, maybe Philip Klein, maybe a TAS editor, entitled Klein’s article “General Rudy.” Fact is, the real title should have been “Emperor Rudy,” but I do not mean that in as pejorative a sense as it might be taken. The Mayor of the City of New York, where the pre-9/11 Giuliani compiled his most substantive accomplishments, though as documented by Klein not to the satisfaction then or now of the very people who most benefited from those accomplishments, has the most extensive executive authority of any public official in America, more than any other mayor, governor or even President.

That is why Giuliani was able to accomplish what he did. Giuliani could ignore the City Council. The President of the United States cannot ignore the Congress. If he does, or if the Congress ignores him, there will be no accomplishments; there will be deadlock. That is why it is absolutely essential that a genuine Conservative Republican Party, not the current disappointments who include 24 members of the Senate who voted yesterday to betray their country, keep the White House and recover both houses of the Congress.

Giuliani may very well secure the Republican nomination and then the Presidency, but he will not offer nor have any coattails. That will not be for lack of trying. Giuliani worked very hard for Republican candidates in the 2004 and 2006 elections. The problem is public perception. Anyone willing to vote for Giuliani will be casting a vote for an Emperor who will set many things right for America, but that same person will vote his “other” concerns for Congress.

America needs a candidate who will convince Americans not only what needs to be done by the President, but also how it will need to be done with the enthusiastic support of a Conservative Republican Congress. That isn’t Giuliani. It is instead a guy who will be announcing right about Independence Day.

Get your checkbooks ready.
Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Tough Rudy eh…? How would this play out in the real world? I doubt cutting the government employment rolls will decline anytime soon, and should our “legal citizen” population suddenly increase by ten to twenty million plus, overnight, so to speak. Just keeping the new citizens in benefit application forms will require tens of thousands of low pay level employees to mail them out, process and do follow up.

Acting tough in front of a liberal Jewish group will be a bit different from acting tough for the benefit of a rag tag army of young men who would literally die for the chance to kill Americans.

As I watched TV clips of an “Pro Immigration” march in Hollywood this past weekend, I wondered how Rudy would appeal to this amalgam of illegal aliens, supporters, I Hate Bush and America subscribers. In the small protest were the usual suspects waving the Mexican flag and wearing Ernesto Che Guevara T-shirts. The amazing thing about the march was these people were demanding to be citizens of a country they apparently hate and idolize Marxist leaders that would cheer at the event of September 11, 2001.

Considering how Rudy feels about guns, I think speaking to liberal Jewish groups in remote locations is just about the speed Rudy finds his comfort level.
Len LaBounty
Santa Monica, California

Re: Patrick O’Hannigan’s Ahoy the Entourage!:

Like most, I suppose, I regarded the term “trainers and handlers” as a mildly derisive description of any gaggle of assistants attached to anyone in need of assistance. Then I read Mr. O’Hannigan’s article and the WaPo piece that prompted it, and the term took on a whole new meaning.

Had it been Madame Hillary reading to those kids on 9/11, she’d still be conferencing, triangulating, polling and nuancing with staff in the school cafeteria.
Richard Meade
Bayside, New York

Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s The Duke of America:

Lisa Fabrizio’s piece about John Wayne got me thinking about the degenerate state of this country. John Wayne was, and is, lambasted and vilified by so many precisely because of the uniquely American virtues that he once embodied. As a man of his time, John Wayne was shaped by, and helped shape, the American character at is zenith. But the America of John Wayne was dying even while he lived. Now that he is gone, so too is the America that brought forth such a son. It is sad to realize that we will never see his like again.
Harry Hill

John Wayne’s character in any movie didn’t wax platitudes, or proffer erudite philosophical positions. He swung a fist through the BS that villains and wonks were trying to put in his way and made the message simple: “Don’t F*&k With ME!”

Since Wayne’s death, movies have gone deeper into “root causes” and “social justice.” The formerly resolute and lonely American hero has been put on the couch by Hollywood and the prognosis is that it is not only WRONG to be an American hero, but perhaps a chronic condition that only more couch time will cure.

We’ve lost Hollywood. That we can survive. Let’s not lose America.
P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods Michigan

Re: Ben Stein’s Our Founding Father:

A wonderful, and entirely appropriate, tribute to the intellectual godfather of modern conservatism. Rapier wit, steel-trap mind, and a mirthful spirit — William F. Buckley has led conservatism on a joyous multi-decade dance. One of a kind. Great piece of work.
John K. Brubaker
West Hartford, Connecticut

Re: Larry Thornberry’s Don’t Save Me the Aisle Seat:

Enjoyed the article for the most part regarding the supposed top 100 films, by Mr. Thornberry.

As a film historian, I can say that having Ben Hur at #100 is absolute nonsense. It is certainly in the top 10 films of all time by anyone’s measure. But I believe that most of those voting were of a secular progressive mindset and all things religious are taboo.

All the best,
Bruce Crawford

Re: John Tabin’s Speaking Softly:

Justice Thomas’s position is an interesting one. Even though teachers act as in loco parentis, they, like parents, do not have absolute control over their children. A part of parents’ fundamental duties is to teach their children to be civically responsible human beings. Teaching students, elementary or secondary, that they are without voices or rights is counterproductive. As they grow, they may assume (though not presume) more rights; along with these rights, they must embrace the corresponding responsibilities; among these rights are the right to self-expression, political or otherwise. Justice Roberts and the majority understand this, but they acted with trepidation and not moral certainty. Students are to have reasonable rights of expression; statements that encourage immorality, as defined by the schools’ supporting communities, need to be suppressed until students are sufficiently competent (i.e., adult) to accept the consequences of expressing themselves.

David French’s argument that high schools speech standards are, “the university’s first defense” is suspect. Students in elementary and secondary are still children. Universities are domains of academia for adults run by adults. Children’s rights are restricted for their protection. It is not a logical sequence to state that because (many) secondary schools have metal detectors and entrance inspections, colleges will soon follow suit. Colleges are open learning environments. The very foundation of the university is built upon the solid rock of expressing and exploring ideas. (Though this a priori assumption is often tested by today’s PC speech codes.) College students, because they are adults, do not need in loco parentis; the students supervise themselves. If some high schools need to restrict speech and dress codes, it does not follow that colleges will find an imperative to act likewise. When they were children, they spoke and acted like children. Now that they are adults, let them speak and act as adults.
Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

Re: Shawn Macomber’s Return to the Blackboard Jungle:

I must take issue with Shawn Macomber’s article. At the beginning, he alludes to the “unintended destructive consequences of well-intentioned progressive administrators in the American public school system.” With all due respect, there may be some well-intentioned administrators, but they are almost surely a clueless minority.

The public school system was initially created to create a ready supply of trained, obedient underlings that willingly do repetitive work and be unlikely to know enough to rock the boat. It has continued down that road to complete the job of creating an electorate that is dependent upon a ruling elite to tell them what to think, for whom to vote, what to accept as truth. So far as I’m concerned, sending a child to a public school is the moral equivalent of child abuse.

Refusal to employ the method of phonics to teach children how to read is abusive. It was known to be quite effective for hundreds of years before “progressives” appeared on the scene. Propaganda forced down the throats of captive students, masquerading as instruction in “social justice mathematics,” is abusive. Teaching that everyone is a “victim” is abusive. Creating an ethos of pathetic dependency, impotence, and entitlement is abusive. Isolating U.S citizens from their historical birthright by strategic omission of crucial historical information about the founding of this Republic is abusive.

Before we ever had a public school system, literacy rates in the U.S. were higher than they are now. Advocates of the educational bureaucracy cannot provide an innocent explanation of how their attention can render our population less independent, less competent, and more easily manipulated than when we were supposedly a bunch of backwoods oafs.

Read the diaries and letters of simple citizens of the 19th century; compare this with the current equivalents. Judge for yourself. Try reading John Taylor Gatto’s works: Dumbing Us Down and An Underground History of American Education. He confirmed what I had suspected for years.
Bud Hammons

Re: David Hogberg’s Placebo Propaganda:

Michael Moore is the liberals’ Leni Riefenstahl. Where she employed spectacle, he employs humor — otherwise, in every respect, Moore is Riefenstahl’s spiritual successor. Their movies, riding in upon the predispositions of their audience, served to add some cinematic glamour to those predispositions, and thus rally the faithful for a short time. Ultimately, both have attempted to elevate inhumane political systems that crush individual liberty in the name of the state: in the case of Riefenstahl, National Socialism under the banner of national and racial glory; and in the case of Moore, “democratic socialism” under the banner of compassion and equality. Sieg Heil Mike!
Thomas C. Wigand, Esq.

I suffered through two of Mr. Moore’s previous films so that I could intelligently discuss them with my liberal socialist acquaintances. After having done so, I felt compelled to write SAG and urge them to award the “Josef Goebbels Golden Concentration Camp” award to the make of the year’s best propaganda film. Mr. Moore will win it every time. He is a more skilled prevaricator than is Mr. Gore or even Mr. and Mrs. Clinton (who tend to sweat profusely when lying).

But I will not watch this one. From the title, which is an accurate description of the present day Mr. Moore, I assume it is autobiographical and I have no interest in how Mr. Moore transformed from an almost certainly cute baby to the left wing, ranting, slob he is today.
Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

Re: Daniel Hazard’s letter in Reader Mail’s Christian to Christian and Jeffrey Lord’s Obama Webcast Shut Down — Why?:

While Daniel Hazard’s explanation of why Obama’s speech to the UCC was not video streamed is plausible and I believe honest, it does not absolve the UCC of violating current IRS regulations. This is the problem with our cumbersome IRS regulations and trying to regulate freedom of speech and religion. Might it not be reasonable to abolish the IRS regulations that curtail First Amendment rights? Going even further might it not be wise to abolish the IRS?
Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

I have been reading the UCC/Obama articles by Jeffrey Lord and today I read the letter from Mr. Hazard and Mr. Lord’s response. The phrase “moneychangers in the temple” came to mind.
Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

Re: Jay D. Homnick’s Naming Children in the Digital Age:

Lots better than Britney, in my book
Doug Welty
Arlington, Virginia

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