The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Krugman on the Dilbert Strategy

Krugman's column today explains how Treasury's banking "reform" over the last week isn't, actually. And he concludes with a fear I've had for some time now:

If we don’t reform the system this time, the next crisis could well be even bigger. And I, for one, really don’t want to live through a replay of the 1930s.

It's a must-read.

Why are there red-light cameras again?

Via Bruce Schneier, confirmation of your suspicions about automatic traffic cameras:

Faced with data showing that drivers pay attention to cameras at intersections — resulting in fewer ticketable violations and ever-shrinking revenue from fines — municipalities across the country are reconsidering red light cameras, which often work too well.

...

Citywide statistics obtained by NBC [Dallas] affiliate KXAS-TV found that red light cameras do reduce accidents. That is a good thing.

But they do it by reducing red light violations, by as much as 29 percent from month to month at particularly busy Dallas intersections. On the face of it, that, too, is a good thing — but not, necessarily, if you rely on traffic fines to make up a healthy chunk of your budget.

I don't even know where to begin. It's just sad, isn't it, that saving lives isn't the reason we enforce traffic regulations.

Forehead-slapping proposal

Via Calculated Risk, Georgia's junior (Republican) senator has one of the dumbest proposals in history:

Isakson is pitching an idea to his colleagues in Congress: a $15,000 tax rebate check to anyone who agrees to buy a home. Congressional budget analysts project the program would cost $14 billion over the next few years. But Isakson said the rebate checks are well worth the hefty price tag. "If we can convince buyers to come back to the marketplace and buy these houses, then the houses aren't vacant. It's replaced by an owner-occupant, who is there making payments on a loan and helping all of the other houses around."

Where does one begin to explain to this guy what's wrong with the proposal?

I hope longtime blog reader AR, a resident of Georgia, will chime in and explain how this guy got elected.

The enemy of my enemy...

Via Talking Points Memo, Reuters reports the reception Iran's president got in Baghdad this week:

Pomp and ceremony greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his arrival in Iraq on Sunday, the fanfare a stark contrast to the rushed and secretive visits of his bitter rival U.S. President George W. Bush.

Ahmadinejad held hands with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani as they walked down a red carpet to the tune of their countries' national anthems, his visit the first by an Iranian president since the two neighbours fought a ruinous war in the 1980s.

His warm reception, in which he was hugged and kissed by Iraqi officials and presented with flowers by children, was Iraq's first full state welcome for any leader since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Weren't our troops supposed to be greeted this way? Funny how that didn't happen.

William F. Buckley, Jr.

...died last night, aged 82:

William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died Wednesday. He was 82.

Countrywide may want to improve its process

Via Calculated Risk, in Sunday's Chicago Tribune:

The new buyers of a rundown graystone on the South Side showed up Jan. 9 to look at the house they won at a foreclosure auction. They took the plywood off the front door and went inside to make sure the utilities had been shut off. Then they called the police.

Sitting upright in the corner of a bedroom off the kitchen was a human skeleton in a red tracksuit. Next to him lay a dead dog. Neighbors told police the corpse was almost certainly Randy Johnson, a middle-age man who lived alone in the North Kenwood house.

...

Left holding the bag is Countrywide Home Loans, the nation's largest mortgage lender and a company whose practices are being scrutinized by the Illinois attorney general's office. Countrywide made mortgages of $450,000 on the property. Now it is likely to lose it all because it financed the sale of a home whose rightful owner was in no condition to sell.

Lovely.

Administration drops all pretense of separation of powers

I think Talking Points Memo is sounding just about the right note of alarm:

Attorney General Michael Mukasey...so far [has] dropped two big bombshells. DOJ will not be investigating:

(1) whether the waterboarding, now admitted to by the White House, was a crime; or

(2) whether the Administration's warrantless wiretapping was illegal.

His rationale? Both programs had been signed off on in advance as legal by the Justice Department.

We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not. ... It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical.

Can we make it 347 more days without Congress selling the farm?

Once is accident. Twice is coincidence.

Via Bruce Schneier, a fourth undersea cable providing Internet connectivity to much of the Middle East has been cut in as many weeks:

The first three have been blamed on ships' anchors, but there is some dispute about that. And that's two in the Mediterranean and two in the Persian Gulf. There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it's an awfully big coincidence. The fact that Iran has lost Internet connectivity only makes this weirder.

This may not be more important than tonight's primary elections, but it may be important.

I have to thank Mike Huckabee for comic relief just now, too.