The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

While you were at war

Richard Clarke reminds the Administration (751 days, 2 hours) that Iraq isn't the only problem we face, even though it's consuming all of the Administration's bandwidth via Talking Points Memo):

National Security Council veteran Rand Beers has called this the "7-year-old's soccer syndrome"—just like little kids playing soccer, everyone forgets their particular positions and responsibilities and runs like a herd after the ball.
Without the distraction of the Iraq war, the administration would have spent this past year—indeed, every year since Sept. 11, 2001—focused on al-Qaeda. But beyond al-Qaeda and the broader struggle for peaceful coexistence with (and within) Islam, seven key "fires in the in-box" national security issues remain unattended, deteriorating and threatening, all while Washington's grown-up 7-year-olds play herd ball with Iraq.

Clarke's list of crises that merit attention, but haven't gotten any from the White House, will surprise exactly no one who has paid attention for the last five years.

Internship for the donor's kid

I haven't really formed an opinion on Sen. Obama's office giving an internship to the son of a guy who gave $10,000 to the 2004 campaign. I'm not really surprised, nor do I really think it's a big deal. I've got a sort-of meta-concern about it, because I think it presages the kinds of stories we'll have to read every week after Obama announces he's running for President.

Perhaps I've just got a typical native Chicagoan's indifference to petty nepotism. I'm wondering if this hints at a deeper connection with Rezko that will come out closer to the primaries next Winter. Or if, as it appears from the pro-Obama camp, this looks more like Rezko trying to get in with Obama, who in turn sensed the danger and kept Rezko at arm's length.

I'm sure we'll hear more about it over the summer.

Oh, the pain

I'm listening to the Bush (762 days, 1 hour) press conference on NPR. He's an embarrassment to the country.

Update, 9:08 CT (15:08 UTC): Did he just tell us to shop more?

Update, 9:19 CT (15:19 UTC): We will succeed in Iraq, apparently. We just haven't defined what that means yet.

Update, 9:21 CT (15:21 UTC): "Victory in Iraq is achievable. It just ha'n't happened as quickly as I'd-a liked."

Update, 9:28 CT (15:28 UTC): He's talking about switch grass again. And, of course, nucular power, which "does not emit one greenhouse gas."

Update, 9:40 CT (15:40 UTC): The sectarian violence hasn't gone right. In other words, he had no idea that there would be Sunni-on-Shia violence. So it must be Syria's and Iran's doing.

Update, 9:51 CT (15:51 UTC): "We're in the beginning of an ideological struggle...it's gonna last a while." I guess he didn't hear about Muhammad starting a new religion about 1400 years ago.

Security Theater

The New York Times (reg.req.) has finally picked up a year-old article by security expert Bruce Schneier, taking the TSA to task for concentrating more on theater than actual security:

FOR theater on a grand scale, you can’t do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration.
As passengers, we tender our boarding passes and IDs when asked. We stand in lines. We empty pockets. We take off shoes. We do whatever is asked of us in these mass rites of purification. We play our assigned parts, comforted in the belief that only those whose motives are good and true will be permitted to pass through.
Of course, we never see the actual heart of the security system: the government’s computerized no-fly list, to which our names are compared when we check in for departure. The T.S.A. is much more talented, however, in the theater arts than in the design of secure systems. This becomes all too clear when we see that the agency’s security procedures are unable to withstand the playful testing of a bored computer-science student.

Four billion dollars to airport security that doesn't work. Could we expect anything more from this Administration (762 days, 2 hours left)?

Oh, God (or, ID-10-T alert!)

I just have to sigh heavily when I read crap like this. New Scientist is reporting today on a "lab" in Redmond, Wash., where the "scientists" are trying to find evidence against Darwin:

The message is clear. If ID supporters can bolster their case by citing more experimental research, another judge at some future date might conclude that ID does qualify as science, and is therefore a legitimate topic for discussion in American science classrooms. This is precisely the kind of scientific respectability that research at the Biologic Institute is attempting to provide. "We need all the input we can get in the sciences," [former Biologic, Inc., director] Weber told [New Scientist]. "What we are doing is necessary to move ID along."

Riiiight.

Even an atheist like me can see the divine in the beauty and elegance of natural selection theory. Why do these people need the hand of god to create every piece of their world? Are they so wrapped up in the specific theology that they miss the deeper meaning of it?

Psychology of Iraq

The Washington Post has a fascinating article on Iraq and the psychology of entrapment (via Talking Points Memo):

When you invest yourself in something, it is exceedingly difficult to discard your investment. What is devilish about entrapment is not just that it can result in ever greater losses, but that those losses get you ever more entrapped, because now you have even more invested.
[Wesleyan University psychologist Scott] Plous, a social psychologist and author of "The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making," said experiments show that psychological entrapment comes in at least four guises: the investment trap, in which we try to recover sunk costs by throwing good money after bad; the time delay trap, in which a short-term benefit carries the seed of long-term problems; the deterioration trap, in which things that started out well slowly get worse; and the ignorance trap, in which hidden risks surface suddenly.

Talking to walls

Frank Rich (sub.req.) today examines the depths, so to speak, of the President's (779 days, 4 hours) absention from reality:

The bottom line: America has a commander in chief who can't even identify some 97 percent to 98 percent of the combatants in a war that has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.

Very sad, very true.

Krugman predicts recession

Paul Krugman's column (sub.req.) today offers a bleak assessment of 2007:

Right now, statistical models based on the historical correlation between interest rates and recessions give roughly even odds that we're about to experience a formal recession. And since even a slowdown that doesn’t formally qualify as a recession can lead to a sharp rise in unemployment, the odds are very good—maybe 2 to 1—that 2007 will be a very tough year.
Luckily, we’ve got good leadership for the coming economic storm: the White House is occupied by a man who’s ideologically flexible, listens to a wide variety of views, and understands that policy has to be based on careful analysis, not gut instincts. Oh, wait.

I feel better; how about you?

But...but...

The latest from the best president we have:

"There is one thing I'm not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete," Bush said in a keynote speech at the University of Latvia just before a summit of the NATO defence alliance.

(Emphasis mine.) What about this, though? It's all so confusing.

(Via Talking Points Memo.)