Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: “The administration may also merge the Department of Commerce, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and some economic divisions at the State Department into a new agency, administration officials said. Possible names include the Department of Jobs or the Department of Competitiveness.”

President Obama’s approval ratings are under water — by a lot in Gallup. His approval rating Sunday hit 39 percent, his disapproval was at 54 percent.

Gunboats are used to slaughter civilians. “A fresh Syrian military campaign in the port city of Latakia killed at least 21 people on Sunday with gunboats deployed to shoot at a residential neighborhood from the sea, according to a Syrian rights group. The events came a day after the U.S. reached out for international support to help bring an end to Syria’s violent crackdown on protesters.”

Trying to submarine the prospect of huge defense cuts. “Three House Republican committee chairmen are pushing the Obama administration to explain how it anticipates up to $1 trillion in defense cuts would affect U.S. national security. The $350 billion in national security budget shrinkage mandated in a debt-ceiling deal signed into law by President Obama on Aug. 2 ‘would be an unprecedented drawdown in defense while U.S. forces are committed to contingency operations,’ the three GOP chairmen wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and White House budget chief Jack Lew in an Aug. 10 letter.” It might have been better to ask first.

You do get the sense she is just fishing around for attention. “Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, her husband, Todd, and other members of her family were in Springfield Sunday morning to tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.”

He sunk his own campaign, perhaps. “Pawlenty made some serious strategic errors — going after Romneycare when he did, in the way he did, and then backing off; not controlling his feelings toward Bachmann; overcompensating for the ‘boring’ charge by pretending to be someone he isn’t.” But then maybe there wasn’t room for an in-between populist/mainstream conservative.

Will the individual mandate go down the drain before the election? “Until . . . [Friday], there was at least a chance that the Supreme Court would pass on the case until after its forthcoming term, but now, with a split between the 11th Circuit and 6th Circuit, the high court will have little choice but to take the case and resolve the fate of the forced-purchase mandate. After over a year of delaying tactics, the Obama administration has no more options to slow-walk the constitutional endgame for the mandate. Our best estimate is that the case will be argued either in late March or in April 2012. The Court will issue its decision near the end of its term in June, during the presidential candidate nominating season.”

For those looking to torpedo Gov. Rick Perry, the Austin Statesman has a handy guide to controversies. A sample: “Perry often gives the state’s most prestigious appointments to major campaign donors. Of the 3,995 people Perry appointed from 2001 to June 2010, 921 of them or their spouses gave his campaigns more than $17 million, and Perry has collected more than $6 million from the people he appointed to university boards of regents.”