Appearing today in New Hampshire, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who according to a Rasmussen poll is the new Republican presidential frontrunner, described evolution as “a theory that’s out there.”
** QUICK HITS. California’s Supreme Court today imposed limits on medical damages, a decision with major implications for insurers and doctors and, of course, lawyers. … It’s a good thing that California’s state legislature is back from its month-long summer recess, isn’t it? You can tell that recess is over because the Assembly is fighting over disclosing its operating expenses, with the Democratic leadership, having started the foodfight by disciplining an ideologically wayward member by claiming that he was over-spending, resisting revealing what it’s doing. Republicans are trying to demonstrate some relevance from the peanut gallery by revealing some of their own spending. That would be some as in a little. … Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis was today confirmed by the state Senate as a member of the California Commission on the Status of Women, a post to which she was appointed last year by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
** OF “A THEORY THAT’S OUT THERE,” GOP STRAW POLLS, MARTHA’S VINEYARD VACATIONS, AND OTHER FOLLIES. Who says that August is the silly season?
* “A THEORY THAT’S OUT THERE.” I love Rick Perry. I really do. With Michele Bachmann, even though she’s listening to her smart advisors and doing things Sarah Palin can’t, like speak in sentences and even paragraphs, you know you’ve got a fringe character no matter how many supporters she’s attracting. That’s supporters in a party in which half the members believed that the president of the United States is really an illegal alien, and maybe even the Manchurian Candidate.
But Perry is a different kind of deal. He’s the governor of a big state, the second biggest, in fact. He has to be a serious figure. Right? I mean, he’s got that whole Texas Mirage, er, Miracle thing going and all.
Barack Obama thinks he’s the man of balance between extremes. He’s got nothing on the governor of Texas who wants to be president in the worst way. And I do mean the worst.
A schoolboy asked Perry today at one of his appearances in New Hampshire about evolution. Perry told the lad that evolution is “a theory that’s out there” about the world, and went on to explain that in Texas, the schools teach creationism, too.
Cool. Because it’s good for kids to be able to pick and choose between science. And anti-science.
* DISASTER MOVIE! While Perry, who’s taken the lead over Mitt Romney in a national Rasmussen poll, vehemently counts himself as a greenhouse denier, the National Weather Service reports that 2011 has already tied the record for most extreme weather events in a year causing billion dollar disasters. And hurricane season is still to come. But, hey, why worry, I’m sure Perry knows what he’s talking about. …
** NEW POLL: U.S. SATISFACTION HITS LOWEST LEVEL SINCE DECEMBER 2008. How does that song go? “I can’t get no …” what?
A new Gallup Poll survey confirms the mid-summer not of our dreams but of our discontent.
Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States has fallen back to 11%, the lowest level since December 2008 and just four percentage points above the all-time low recorded in October 2008. …
The Aug. 11-14 Gallup poll finds satisfaction down five points from July (16%) and nine points since June (20%). The dip is likely a response to the recent negotiations to raise the federal debt ceiling and continued concern about the national economy amid a volatile stock market. The recent downing of a U.S. military helicopter in Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of 30 U.S. servicemen could also be contributing to Americans’ glum mood.
Gallup began measuring Americans’ satisfaction with national conditions in 1979. Since then, satisfaction has been lower than the current 11% in only a few measurements in the final months of 2008. The all-time low of 7% came in an Oct. 10-12, 2008, poll, conducted shortly after stock values plummeted following Congress’ passage of the TARP legislation in response to the September 2008 financial crisis.
The current figures represent the continuation of a long slump in national satisfaction, which has been below 30% since September 2009, below 40% since August 2005, and below 50% since January 2004. The historical average satisfaction rating since 1979 is 40%. The all-time high is 71% in February 1999.
Democrats are somewhat more likely to say they are satisfied (19%) with conditions in the United States today than are Republicans (9%) and independents (8%). …
The recent debt ceiling negotiations have clearly had an impact on Americans’ perceptions of the top problems facing the country, as the percentages mentioning the deficit and dissatisfaction with government are the highest since a January 1996 Gallup poll. At that time, during the 1995-1996 budget standoff between President Clinton and the Republican-led Congress, 28% of Americans mentioned the deficit as the most important problem and 17% mentioned dissatisfaction with government. …
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning elaborated on the US call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave office.
OBAMA STATEMENT ON SYRIA.
The United States has been inspired by the Syrian peoples’ pursuit of a peaceful transition to democracy. They have braved ferocious brutality at the hands of their government. They have spoken with their peaceful marches, their silent shaming of the Syrian regime, and their courageous persistence in the face of brutality – day after day, week after week. The Syrian government has responded with a sustained onslaught. I strongly condemn this brutality, including the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians in cities like Hama and Deir al Zour, and the arrests of opposition figures who have been denied justice and subjected to torture at the hands of the regime. These violations of the universal rights of the Syrian people have revealed to Syria, the region, and the world the Assad government’s flagrant disrespect for the dignity of the Syrian people.
The United States opposes the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Syria, and we support the universal rights of the Syrian people. We have imposed sanctions on President Assad and his government. The European Union has imposed sanctions as well. We helped lead an effort at the UN Security Council to condemn Syria’s actions. We have coordinated closely with allies and partners from the region and around the world. The Assad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the globe, and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown.
The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.
As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people. I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria. This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria’s petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today’s actions to be amplified by others.
We recognize that it will take time for the Syrian people to achieve the justice they deserve. There will be more struggle and sacrifice. It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong. As we have learned these last several months, sometimes the way things have been is not the way that they will be. It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OF GOP STRAW POLLS, MARTHA’S VINEYARD VACATIONS, AND OTHER FOLLIES.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Massachusetts.
He has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then issued a statement urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave office and announce major sanctions against the Assad regime for its ongoing attacks against pro-democracy protesters.
At 8:50 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior members of his National Security Team in the Situation Room.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route Andrews Air Force Base.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route Martha’s Vineyard.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he boards another version of Marine One.
At 2:15 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
He will vacation for the rest of month there with his family.
Yesterday Obama wrapped up a three-day bus tour of the Midwest, which began Monday in Minnesota before continuing on through Iowa and Illinois.
He outlined some new economic policies, focusing on job creation and unemployment insurance as well as deficit reduction, but will unveil it all in a major speech shortly after Labor Day.
In other action, the Libyan rebels, continued to slowly advance today against the Gaddafi regime, growing closer to the longtime dictator’s Tripoli stronghold.
They are close to shutting down the major oil refinery left to the Gaddafi regime, which would cripple the longtime dictator’s ability to pacify his remaining public and keep his forces moving in the field.
There’s heavy fighting to the east and west of Tripoli, as Libyan rebels seek to close the noose around the Gaddafi regime.
In fact, Libyan rebels claim to have just seized that refinery, and to have cut off a major road supplying needed goods to the capital.
The administration finally, as first anticipated more than a week ago, called for the end of the Assad regime in Syria. Why the delay?
Team Obama says it was working to gain more international support for the position.
The European Union today also called for the departure of Assad, for the first time, and threatened a ban on imports of Syrian crude oil and a ban on exports of refined oil products to Syria.
Britain, Germany, and France reiterated the EU call in separate statements from Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Not surprisingly, Brown, during a lengthy visit yesterday to Fresno, told the Fresno Bee editorial board that he backs the expansive high-speed rail project championed by his predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Brown touted high-speed rail in his landslide-winning campaign last year, a major point of contrast with billionaire Meg Whitman.
Which was hardly surprising, since Brown originally championed high-speed rail the first time he was governor of California, over 30 years ago. But his Republican successors killed the move.
America, he said, is in a “period of massive retrenchment. I would like to be part of the group that gets America to think big again.”
Brown described his new senior jobs advisor, former BankAmerica vice chairman Michael Rossi, as I did in yesterday’s piece on the appointment, as his way of reaching out to the business community.
** HARRY POTTER: A CONFESSION, AND AN APPRECIATION. I’m a bit behind the curve on Harry Potter. The last movie in the series has, astonishingly, grossed over $1 billion in worldwide box office after only its third weekend in release. In fact, having just passed the final Lord of the Rings picture, it’s the highest grossing movie around the world not directed by that James Cameron guy. But I haven’t seen it yet.
In fact, I haven’t seen the two movies prior to it. Okay, so that’s more than a bit behind.
So I did something terribly old-fashioned. I read the book. …
I lost the thread of the movie series two movies back. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the absence of John Williams’ wonderful scoring, which enabled me to sit through Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Perhaps the renewed Doctor Who had taken up the British fantasy series space in my head. Who knows? … From my August 11th essay.
** LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: THE BIG BUDGET DEAL AND OBAMA’S REAL PROBLEM. As the dust settles and the adrenaline abates from the big budget fight, what really happened? Far less than met the eye.
The result, despite all the sturm und drang, doesn’t amount to much. Certainly markets here and around the world aren’t impressed by the big deficit/debt deal. Nor are they, nor anyone else, impressed by the state of the economy.
Obama is whipsawed between the widespread desire for deficit reduction and the widespread desire for economic stimulus, points of view not infrequently held by the same voters, bless their pointy little heads. … From my August 8th essay.
** JERRY BROWN MAKES SOME MOVES. … From my August 1st essay.
** OVER AND OUT, ABOVE AND BEYOND: IS THE SPACE AGE OVER OR JUST BEGINNING? … From my July 28th essay.
** OBAMA KABUKI: THE BUDGET AND THE POLITICS OF POSITIONING. … From my July 13th column.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
The MAKS 2011 air show in Moscow continues, with yesterday highlighted by the public debut of Russia’s new stealth fighter, Sukhoi’s T-50, which is said to be faster, more maneuverable, and much more affordable than American stealth fighters.
** UNIVERSIADE LIVE. You can watch a live feed of events of the biennial Universiade, also known as the World University Games, taking place in Shenzhen, China, a major new city outside Hong Kong, where the time is 15 hours ahead of Pacific time, through August 23rd. The Universiade is bringing together student athletes from more than 150 nations competing in 24 sports.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 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 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, 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 NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $83 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $49 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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