We are about two weeks away from the start of 2010, which is shaping up, politically, as the most momentous non-presidential-election year in memory. Never have the stakes been so high. Americans will have a clear choice between a runaway Democratic Party, increasingly contemptuous of public opinion, and a resurgent Republican Party, hardly imaginative in its prescriptions, but responsible enough to try to halt a ten-wheeler that is driving off a cliff.
Now that we’ve understood the administration’s strategy for Afghanistan, what is the Taliban strategy against the United States? Such a question is warranted to be able to project the clash between the two strategies and assess the accuracy of present U.S. policies in the confrontation with the forces it is fighting against in that part of the world. So, how would the Taliban/Al Qaeda war room counter NATO and the Afghan government based on the Obama administration’s battle plan?
My article on Tiger Woods and his accident was meant to be partly in fun before I found out the facts about what happened. When I did, I pulled the article. I was speculating he was involved in a spat with the Mrs. Tiger and it was fun to get the jump on the truth of that. Now however, it is no longer fun. This is not a tabloid story, it is a tragedy.
Every day of the Obama presidency brings a new, rich irony. On the same day that the President received the Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing except being the Un-Bush, former President George W. Bush got a lovely gift: the rising appreciation of the American people.
On its surface, there’s nothing immediately wrong with a moderate Muslim group buying a building in Tribeca for the purpose of worship and community. In a pluralistic society, different religions have the right to own property and to assemble as a congregation provided that this jives with zoning regulations. However, just as you can’t operate sex shops near public schools or put movie theaters on Park Avenue, it seems fair to ask whether it’s appropriate for a Muslim center to border Ground Zero where Muslims killed almost 3,000 innocent Americans and brought havoc to this city, this country and the world. The Imam who leads the services at Park Place, two blocks north of where the Twin Towers once stood, is a Sufi who is heavily invested in interfaith dialogue. But isn’t the presence of large groups of Muslim men bowing to Mecca a legitimate affront to the firemen, policemen and tens of thousands of family members, friends of the deceased and ordinary New Yorkers who were victimized and traumatized on 9/11 all in the name of Allah? Ground Zero has become a shrine to those who lost their lives and who gave their lives in responding to this attack on America. If the Japanese tried to erect a Shinto temple at Pearl Harbor, would Americans not object? Similarly, if we attempted to put an American memorial with our flag next to the memorial at Hiroshima, would this not fly in the face of diplomatic tact?
See my little fantasy on another scandal at UAE (University of East Anglia) - but this time at its famous Creative Writing M.A. Programme, which has - really - produced an extraordinary number of Man-Booker Prize-winning novelists since its founding in 1970 by Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson.
On its surface, there’s nothing immediately wrong with a moderate Muslim group buying a building in Tribeca for the purpose of worship. In a pluralistic society, different religions have the right to own property and to assemble as a congregation provided that this jives with zoning regulations. However, just as you can’t operate sex shops near public schools or put movie theaters on Park Avenue, it seems fair to ask whether it’s appropriate for a Muslim center to border Ground Zero where Muslims killed 2700 innocent Americans and brought havoc to this city, this country and the world.
Everyone has weighed in on all the reasons newspapers are dying, but nobody has quite hit on the root cause. Intrepid reporter that I am, I decided to go to the source to find out why newspapers are dying. The answer, I’m almost ashamed to report, is newspapers.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele called out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his comment yesterday likening opposition to health care reform to opposition to ending slavery. He rightly called it “ignorant.” Reid’s spokesman said Steele’s response was “feigned outrage.”
Most Americans favor cutting salariesfor lawmakers and White House officials as a way of reducing government spending. Adam Kokesh, seeking the GOP nomination in New Mexico’s Third Congressional District, may thus be onto something. He has a bold proposal for his fellow candidates: pledge that you will refuse any salary in excess of average family income. See video here.
I was sorry to read this morning of the death of Otto, Count Lambsdorff, the former German economics minister. I met him briefly last summer at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn, where he turned out, in visible discomfort, to share memories of his heady days in office.
Gallup shows President Obama with a job approval rating at a new low: 47%. Other polls show him even lower, in the flashing-red danger zone of 43%. Just as pain is a sign that something is wrong with your body, a job approval that low in the first year of the first term is a sign something is seriously wrong with a presidency.
Sometimes I love Tom Friedman. Especially when he uses an appearance on national TV to remind us of some essential, if unwanted truths, even if I disagree with his conclusion. There is something we can do. At the very least we can focus world attention and shame as he did on Sunday on MEET THE PRESS, Dec. 6, 2009 (I added the paragraphs):
Barack Obama has never missed an opportunity to slam President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, either directly with condemning words of his own, or through his Alinsky-esque surrogates. Not only is it graceless and tasteless, it’s also grossly inappropriate for a sitting President.
“Those who are prone by character or temperament to seek sharp and clear-cut solutions of difficult and obscure problems, who are ready to fight whenever some challenge comes from a foreign Power, have not always been right. On the other hand, those whose inclination is to bow their heads, to seek patiently and faithfully for peaceful compromise, are not always wrong. On the contrary, in the majority of instances they may be right, not only morally but from a practical standpoint. How many wars have been averted by patience and persisting goodwill! Religion and virtue alike lend their sanctions to meekness and humility, not only between men but between nations. How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands? How many misunderstandings which led to wars could have been removed by temporising! …
If you were the enemy in Afghanistan, what would you be thinking this morning? Certainly, you’d be concerned about the 30,000 new American troops heading into your neighborhood, for they are capable, and led by enlightened commanders like Petraeus and McChrystal.