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Archive for July, 2010

Arizona turns off its photo ticket contract.

The cameras, which included 76 units either mounted near the shoulder or operated from vans, were adept at snapping speeders as they whizzed past sensors, but getting offenders to pay after the tickets were mailed to them was another matter. Less than a third of the 1.2 million tickets issued were paid, and the state collected $78 million, far below the projected $120 million annual revenue. Some of those tickets, typically $181 apiece, no doubt were lost in the mail…

no doubt.

… others no doubt were not paid as violators tested a legal theory that they needed to be served in person.  Process servers who were supposed to follow up could hardly keep up with the load.

Oh.  That’s much more likely.  Wonder what it costs to hire a cut-rate process server in Arizona?  $80 per attempt?  $50?  What with the vendor’s rake-off for running the system, I bet nobody did the math to figure out whether they’d ever break even.
But WTF is this about?

Lawmakers at the hearing were concerned with more than just accident statistics. State Representative Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) was also upset to learn that the Redflex freeway cameras have been recording video twenty-four hours a day to track the movements of drivers not accused of any crime. Last September, TheNewspaper first reported the plan to link all continuously recording photo enforcement cameras into a nationwide surveillance network.

Jesus on fishhooks.  Sometimes when I read stuff like this I wish I was actually MORE paranoid than I am.

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The NRA has announced its opposition to the Elena Kagan nomination. By picking such a weak nominee, Obama was really  just asking for it:

We have carefully examined the career, written documents and public statements of nominee Elena Kagan and have found nothing to indicate any support for the Second Amendment. On the contrary, the facts reveal a nominee who opposes Second Amendment rights and is clearly out of step with mainstream Americans.

Therefore, the NRA is strongly opposed to Kagan’s confirmation to the Court.

See, here’s the thing.  She’s got no record to speak of.  No proven philosophy.  No demonstrated commitment to progressive causes, or women’s causes, or, hell, any causes at all for that matter.  The only thing that Democrats could use to justify supporting her nomination is that Barry Picked Her.

And that might have worked!  As long as nobody serious and organized bothered to point out any of the reasons to object to the nomination. Since the NRA is both serious and organized, they seized on the flaws in Kagan’s background and are using them to whip Republicans into opposition.

If Obama had picked someone that liberals could rally behind, there would be a groundswell of support for the nominee to stand against the NRA’s objections. As it is, the NRA is making essentially the same complaints that many on the left have been making ever since Kagan was named as the nominee: (a) we don’t know anything about her philosophy, (b) she has no relevant experience, and (c) there are reasons to suspect she might actually do more harm than good. See, for example, Glenn’s excellent coverage here.

If the Administration had listened to Greenwald’s substantive objections before the nomination, and picked someone that liberals could support without holding their noses, they could lean on that support now. Instead, liberals have no reason to rally behind this nominee, and so there are no voices to oppose the NRA. And if her nomination fails now because she is a blank slate, well, Obama only has himself to blame.

[this post was edited later that night for clarity]

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Zero hedge points out the logical disconnect between GOP rhetoric and fiscal reality:

[W]hile the noise out of Washington is trying to convince us that these deficits are ruinous, the ten year Treasury bond yields we saw yesterday at a stunning 2.97% are telling us that, in fact, they are no problem at all, and that the government can now borrow nearly infinite amounts of money at the lowest interest rates in history.

And what does all that deficit spending get us?

Out of a current projected budget deficit of $1.3 trillion, $700 billion, or 54% comes from the Bush era tax cuts, $320 billion (25%) from a tax revenue fall off caused by the Great Recession, $200 billion from the wars in Iran and Iraq (15%), and $50 billion (4%) is generated by Obama’s recovery measures. The TARP and the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so small, they don’t even register on the chart. All of the angst, complaining, moaning, blustering, and carping is about the 4%.

So all the sound and fury about austerity and fiscal discipline is just so much bullshit, to distract the focus of public attention from where it would otherwise be directed.  If anyone was really serious about cutting federal deficits, there are three big fat juicy targets: repeal the Bush tax cuts, end the pointless occupations, and put Americans back to work by having the government hire them directly.

It’s not rocket science.

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More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent. emphasis added

from The Big Picture.  I’m sure that somehow this can be blamed on lazy brown people.  I’m a bit less optimistic that we’ll see any retractions of all the “subprime” stories that started running in summer 2007.

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