Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: incompetent leadership

Sarah Palin laid bare

Hopefully this will be my last Sarah Palin post. I just wanted to make sure to point out today’s New York Times front page article on her record in Alaska. Nobody who’s read it can argue that she’s anything but the typical Alaska politician. She’s a pursuer of vendettas, hirer of cronies, and tinpot autocrat, and there’s a damn good chance she’ll be the next Vice President of the United States.

Oh, and to an address a talking point I’m tired of hearing, running against an incumbent from your own party doesn’t make you anything other than ambitious. How do people think Barack Obama got his start in politics?

Finally, if you have an insatiable appetite for criticism of John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, read Andrew Sullivan.

Red light cameras

Bruce Schneier flags a post about the ineffectiveness of red light cameras. Unfortunately, because cities find the cameras to be a useful source of revenue, I doubt we’ll be seeing them disappear anytime soon. I’ve seriously considered running for city council or county commissioner on the sole issue of getting rid of them.

Not only do I hate the general level of anxiety they cause for drivers at the intersections where they’re posted, but I also hate that they condition people to accept being constantly, passively observed for potential violations of the law.

Big companies and the government both suck, particularly when they work together. The insurance companies are evil:

The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras since insurance companies can profit from red-light cameras by way of higher premiums due to increased crashes and citations.

And so are city governments:

In fact, six U.S. cities have been found guilty of shortening the yellow light cycles below what is allowed by law on intersections equipped with cameras meant to catch red-light runners. Those local governments have completely ignored the safety benefit of increasing the yellow light time and decided to install red-light cameras, shorten the yellow light duration, and collect the profits instead.

More people will die thanks to red light cameras, but surely that’s justified by increasing government revenue without “raising taxes” and more profit for the auto insurance industry.

Here are more details on the six cities that have been caught shortening yellow lights to raise red light camera revenue.

Bad day for good government

A federal judge in California has ordered that WikiLeaks be taken offline at the behest of a Swiss bank whose practices in support of white collar crime were leaked. Because WikiLeaks’ servers are located all of the world, the injunction was imposed on their DNS provider. The site is still up but it is now only reachable via its IP address — It seems to me that there are lots of first amendment issues in play here.

In other news, President Bush has been complaining for weeks about the administration’s inability to protect America if the wiretapping bill currently being held up by House Democrats does not pass. The Director of National Intelligence has come out and admitted that the problem is not that the White House is losing powers it requires (not that I believe it requires those powers in the first place), but rather that private telecommunications firms will not be guaranteed immunity from legal liability if they break the law in assisting the government in spying. Everybody knew that was the case, but it’s nice for the government to admit it.

Update: Michael Froomkin has more on the rulings in the WikiLeaks case.

More Katrina fallout

Turns out the FEMA trailer issued to homeless families after Hurricane Katrina really are toxic.

President Bush on the Olympics

Here’s the leader of the free world on attending the summer Olympics this year in Beijing:

I’m going to the Olympics. I view the Olympics as a sporting event.[…] There’s a lot of issues that I suspect people are gonna, you know, opine, about during the Olympics. I mean, you got the Dali Lama crowd. You’ve got global warming folks. You’ve got, you know, Darfur and… I am not gonna you know, go and use the Olympics as an opportunity to express my opinions to the Chinese people in a public way ’cause I do it all the time with the president.

He’s only got 11 more months left, folks, enjoy it while you can.

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