19 August 2010

The same box

Those with the best reputations seemed to me nearly the most deficient…while others with more paltry reputations seemed to be men more fit in regard to being prudent.
-Socrates, Apology of Socrates

When the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.

Obama hits new polling low
President Barack Obama's approval rating has dipped to a new low. Obama's 44 percent average approval in Gallup's daily tracking polls last week marks the weakest level of support he has registered since taking office.

Obama, the one-term president
Honest to goodness, the man just does not get it. He might be forced to pull a Palin and resign before his first term is over.

I am not saying Obama is not smart; he is as smart as a whip. I am just saying he does not understand what savvy first-term presidents need to understand:

You have to stay on message, follow the polls, listen to your advisers (who are writing the message and taking the polls) and realize that when it comes to doing what is right versus doing what is expedient, you do what is expedient so that you can get reelected and do what is right in the second term. If at all possible. And it will help your legacy. And not endanger the election of others in your party. And not hurt the brand. Or upset people too much.

It is far better for a president to do nothing than to choose a side. Even if the side he chooses is the right one from an ethical or moral perspective, it is a “blunder” politically because inevitably it will upset some people.

The problem for Obama is that he appears to have taken seriously all the “change” stuff he promised during his campaign. And he has been unable to make the transition from candidate to president.

You can go back to the mid-1800s and find a lot of legislators saying that Abraham Lincoln should stop lecturing people about ending slavery and listen to them about keeping it.

And there were plenty of lawmakers who said President Dwight D. Eisenhower was “disconnected from the mainstream of America” when he ordered the 101st Airborne Division to go down to Little Rock, Ark., to make sure some black kids could go to school with white kids.

Both decisions may have been “off-message,” which is about the worst sin you can commit in Washington. But what’s so wrong about being off-message if you are right about the issue?

And what’s the point of doing the right thing if your party is going to lose seats because of it?

Maybe Obama is disconnected. After all, as a former professor of constitutional law, he actually knows what the Constitution says.

31% of Republicans believe Barack Obama is Muslim
Nearly a third of all Republicans believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, according to an astonishing new poll released overnight.

During the presidential campaign, Obama — whose father was raised as a Muslim — repeatedly found his faith questioned, most often in smear e-mails that suggested he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, and harbored a secret Islamist agenda.

Obama confronted the rumors head-on during a debate in January 2008. "Let's make clear what the facts are: I am a Christian,” he said then. “I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance and lead the Pledge of Allegiance sometimes in the United States Senate when I'm presiding."

Still, more than a year into Obama’s presidency, his faith remains a mystery for many. Only 34 percent of Pew’s respondents identified Obama as Christian — down 14 percentage points since last year. And 43 percent said they don’t know what Obama’s religion is.

Either way, only a relatively small minority of Americans believe Obama is relying too much on his religious views as he does his job. Eleven percent of Pew’s respondents said Obama relies too much on his religious beliefs, while 48 percent said he relies on them the right amount and 21 percent said he relies on them too little.

Last US combat brigade leaves Iraq
The last US combat brigade has withdrawn from Iraq, more than seven years after the US-led coalition invaded the country in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 4,000 US troops.

The brigade left the country in the early hours of Thursday morning, two weeks before an August 31 deadline for the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom pledged by President Barack Obama upon taking office.

Many Iraqis have mixed feelings about the troop pullout fearing more violence.

About 50,000 US troops will remain in the country in an advisory capacity, helping to train Iraqi forces in a new mission codenamed Operation New Dawn, which will run until the end of 2011. "They will, however, have the right to defend themselves against attacks if they are targeted," our correspondent said. "But they will not be stepping in, they will not be conducting any military operations per say, unless they are specifically called on to do so by the Iraqi government."

The war, which began when a US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003 and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein, has proven costly to America both in terms of dollars and human life. Operation Iraqi Freedom has cost more than $900 billion and seen 4,415 US troops die.

Concerns have been raised that the US is pulling out of the country too soon, most notably by Lt Gen Babaker Zebari, Iraq's most-senior army officer, who warned last week that his forces would not be ready to take control of security until 2020.

Afghan ban on contractors could spark 'chaos'
The behaviour of some of these trigger-happy soldiers for hire has gone so much out of control that Hamid Karzai, the president, recently accused them of "being thieves during the day and terrorists at night".

A presidential decree is calling for these companies to be shut down within four months. The Afghan government says that they constitute a parallel force and are a cause of instability.

Boxer and Burr launch Military Family Caucus
Sens. Barbara Boxer and Richard Burr announced the creation of the Senate Military Family Caucus Wednesday to improve conditions for families of those in the armed services.

Mosque a long shot to be built
When President Barack Obama turned the battle over a planned New York Islamic center into a national debate over religious freedom, he unwittingly allied himself and his party with an ill-planned, long-shot development project described by one of its most prominent allies as “amateur hour.”

The efforts to launch the $100 million Cordoba House (now dubbed Park51) two blocks north of the World Trade Center site have been an uphill battle from the start, and not just because of controversy. And even as the “Ground Zero Mosque” emerges as a hotly debated national symbol, New York government officials and real estate insiders are privately questioning whether the project has much chance of coming to fruition.

The Cordoba Initiative hasn’t begun fundraising yet for its $100 million goal. The group’s latest fundraising report with the State Attorney General’s office, from 2008, shows exactly $18,255 – not enough even for a down payment on the half of the site the group has yet to purchase.

The group also lacks even the most basic real estate essentials: no blueprint, architect, lobbyist or engineer — and now operates amid crushing negative publicity. The developers didn't line up advance support for the project from other religious leaders in the city, who could have risen to their defense with the press.

For all its problems, the project does have a solid chance of accomplishing one thing: further embarrassing the president.

Heh! Bush ‘Miss Me Yet’ T Shirts More Popular on Martha’s Vineyard than Obama Shirts
Rumor has it that George W. Bush is now more popular than Obama. I guess people stopped listening to his speeches, when he never fails to mention the mess he inherited. Even his trip to Martha’s Vineyard hasn’t generated enough buzz for vendors to sell to many Obama T-shirts. But George Bush T-shirt sales are quite brisk.

Wear wristwatch? Use e-mail? Not for Class of '14
For students entering college this fall, e-mail is too slow, phones have never had cords and the computers they played with as kids are now in museums.

The Class of 2014 thinks of Clint Eastwood more as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry urging punks to "go ahead, make my day." Few incoming freshmen know how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.

Remember when Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Dan Quayle or Rodney King were in the news? These kids don't.

Ever worry about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.? During these students' lives, Russians and Americans have always been living together in outer space.

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