Barack Obama with conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy Friday in Paris. Sarkozy, a favorite of the American right, essentially endorsed Obama.
** DOES INFLAMMATORY POLITICAL COMMENTARY INCITE HORRIFIC ACTS? The shooter who murdered two people and wounded seven others yesterday in a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee turns out to be a fan of right-wing commentators Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Michael Savage.
“All liberals should be killed,” wrote Jim David Adkisson, who was wearing a Tennessee flag shirt, which bears a certain modernistic resemblance to the Confederate flag, when he was arrested by local police.
Adkisson, who of course hated gays and feminists (and almost certainly Barack Obama, for that is part of the psychological profile of such folk), was also, ironically, upset about his failure to find employmennt. Something very hard to blame liberals for in the Republican state of Tennessee.
My view, as I’m sure readers have gathered from how I run NWN, is that wildly inflammatory rhetoric is a major negative in American political life. It leads the weak-minded, as this poor soul obviously is, to do stupid and irrational things. In this case, horrific things. And as longtime readers know, I favor capitol punishment. He’s taken lives, if the evidence in this case bears out, almost certainly of pacifists. So, if he actually committed these terrible acts, his life is now forfeit. So be it.
If the likes of Hannity, Limbaugh, and Savage played any role in pushing this poor soul over the edge into acts which cannot be countenanced, much less forgiven, they had better take a real look at their own provocative acts.
** MCCAIN IN BAKERSFIELD. John McCain was in the Central Valley city of Bakersfield, California earlier today for a fundraiser. And for this press event at an oil well. Where he called for increased offshore oil drilling to solve the current problem of high gasoline prices. The site for the event was, of course, dictated by McCain’s fundraising schedule.
A few points to consider.
While California is already one of the nation’s largest oil-producing states, it is the only one without an oil severance tax. Bakersfield, which is essentially the Tulsa of California, is 90 miles north of Los Angeles, up I-5. It is nowhere near the coast. And the oil wells near Bakersfield, which are mostly to the moonscape west of the city, deliver a harder-to-produce and lower quality heavier oil. To further excavate the oil reserves near Bakersfield requires higher tech/lower margin techniques. None of which have anything to do with McCain’s message of offshore drilling as a putative panacea for today’s gas price crisis.
The only real reason to do such a media event is that there are a lot of oil rigs at hand.
** MYSTERIOSO … One of the uniquely, ah, linear political writers of our time asks why Barack Obama is not blowing out John McCain. I suppose he’s mystified after his paper’s (NY Times) failed smear of John McCain on his private life.
A. The race is not actually close. If you don’t select the right polls, I simply draw your attention to the rather desperate behavior evidenced by John McCain’s campaign. Three straight Mac attack ads. The latter of which, incidentally, is essentially a big fake-out for a credulous national (read: East Coast) media. I’m about to get into this issue. Which will be familiar to longtime readers of NWN who recall the early stages of the Schwarznegger 2006 re-elect.
B. Uh, he’s black. And young. If he were a white guy, this race wouldn’t even be in question. Even amongst the credulous.
** FORMER TOP BUSH OFFICIALS BACK OBAMA. Two former top Bush Administration officials, former US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman William Donaldson have endorsed Barack Obama and participated in his session today with high-level economic advisors. O’Neil is not a big surprise, as he wrote a book about Bush after he resigned, saying that the president was dead set on uneconomic tax cuts for the wealthy and had intended to invade Iraq even before 9/11.
** CALIFORNIA FAR RIGHT BACKS “FREEDOM TO BE UNHEALTHY.” This is not a parody. The intellectual leader of the far right faction presently in narrow control of the state’s Republican Party apparatus — Flash Report publisher and Southern California party vice chairman Jon Fleischman — just penned a column attacking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of a bill banning trans fats in foods. On the basis that it takes away the right to be unhealthy. Why would Schwarzenegger want to discourage people from being unhealthy, moans the decade-long former PR guy for disgraced former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona, indicted by the Bush Administration’s Justice Department on multiple counts of conspiring to use public office to enrich himself from the time he declared for sheriff in 1998?
Perhaps because it adds to the skyrocketing cost of health care. Wide loads equal bigger health care costs. As an ex-jock, I must say there is a lot of snark available in this item. But I will resist temptation.
The Morning Column: MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Less than two weeks until the start of the Olympics, as the campaigns of both John McCain and Barack Obama are well aware. McCain is trying to prevent Obama from locking down a clear lead going into the quadrennial global festival of sport which, coming at the height of summer, tends to distract greatly from campaigning. Obama is trying to consolidate his gains from his excellent week of campaigning, er, touring in the Middle East and Europe.
Meanwhile in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders continue to struggle with the state’s chronic budget crisis. With the Republicans dominated by their anti-government faction, the Democrats dominated by their ultra-government faction, and the state one of only three requiring a two-thirds vote to pass a budget, the situation is fairly intractable.
Schwarzenegger is trying to force the situation with a series of moves, the first of which, as regards the Democrats, is to cut state worker salaries to minimum wage and lay off contingent employees. Legislative Democrats, dominated by public employee unions, are balking, despite a 2003 California Supreme Court ruling granting the governor such authority.
Barack Obama at 10 Downing Street in London, following his Saturday meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
In the presidential race following Obama’s extraordinary tour last week of Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France, and Britain — McCain is trying to tear down Obama while Obama is pivoting swiftly from the Reaganesque and Kennedyesque elegance of the global stage into nitty-gritty domestic economic concerns.
Barack Obama yesterday appeared on Meet The Press, taped previously in London, and John McCain appeared on ABC’s This Week. Obam acquitted himself well. He was not asked about the end of the week controversy over his cancelling out of going to the Landstuhl military hospital. He was asked about his opposition to the surge, which the media has decided is a success. (I think it’s a success, too, as expected, but not the only factor in the current improvement in Iraq.) Obama pointed out that there are multiple factors in Iraq’s improvement, and the key questions are whether or not the invasion was warranted and whether we should be moving to withdraw.
John McCain’s third straight TV attack ad against Obama, this one for supposedly not honoring US troops.
For his part, McCain attacked Obama for not appearing at the military hospital. (It’s not a clearcut situation either way. I think Obama should have gone to prevent precisely this sort of attack, even though the Pentagon pulled a change-up telling him he couldn’t travel with any of his campaign staff, not even retired Air Force General Scott Gration, who was perturbed with the DoD.) He denied questioning Obama’s patriotism when he said that Obama “would rather lose a war than lose a campaign.” He insisted that the decision to invade Iraq was correct and that Saddam was preparing weapons of mass destruction. He walked back from his seeming embrace of a 16-month timetable for Iraq withdrawal late on Friday. He repeated his call for Russia to be expelled from the Group of 8, supported by no other nation. And he said that payroll tax increases may be necessary to preserve Social Security. Which may make it harder to attack Obama.
McCain’s campaign rolled out its third straight TV attack ad late Saturday. It goes after Barack Obama for supposedly not supporting the troops. I’ll get into a full analysis of it later, here and elsewhere. Campaigns, as you know, get into steady attack mode when they have some problems, and after last week, McCain has some more problems.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia. Obama meets with high-level economic advisors in Washington and has a fundraiser in Arlington.
John McCain is in Bakersfield and San Francisco, California. This is a fundraising trip, as Obama leads McCain in California’s latest Field Poll, 54-30. McCain will visit an oil well outside Bakersfield to push his drill now message. I know a lot about the oil business in Kern County.
McCain has fundraisers in both the Central Valley oil city and the City by the Bay. His San Francisco fundraiser will be a glittering evening affair at the Fairmont Hotel, high atop Nob Hill, where my parents took me as a child to learn how to eat and behave in public.
** SIX REASONS MCCAIN’S LUCKY HE DIDN’T MAKE IT ON THAT OIL RIG. From my other blog.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in private meetings today, in and around the Capitol, as California’s state government struggles once again to resolve its chronic budget deficit.
** MCCAIN TRIES TO COUNTER-PROGRAM A WAVE. You know, Obama’s new flood of foreign policy cred. Resulting in a somewhat confusing, rather sulky, kitchen sink approach. With full analysis of the two new anti-Obama attack ads, first of the general election. One is arguable. The other is preposterous. From my other blog.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading in the $124 to $125 per barrel range. The drop of over $20 per barrel came amidst multiple signs that the weak US economy will cut future demand and fresh signs of a detente between the US and Iran.
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