A United Nations planning document for post-Gaddafi Libya has surfaced, including military observers and UN police and elections within nine months.
** QUICK HITS. Deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi still hasn’t been caught. But his wife and three of his grown children fled to Algeria today, according to the Algerian Foreign Ministry. … Meanwhile, Libyan rebel forces have surrounded Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, and are trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution. … Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Republican presidential frontrunner, today picked up the endorsement of the leading greenhouse denier in American politics, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe. … Meanwhile, a group of English adventurers are rowing to the North Pole through the no longer ice-locked Arctic Sea. … Another leading Republican presidential candidate, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, says now that she was joking when she said over the weekend that Hurricane Irene and the Virginia earthquake were God’s warning to cut federal spending. … Governor Jerry Brown joins Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire for a panel presentation tomorrow afternoon at the National Clean Energy Summit at Aria Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. … California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission says that conservative Republican opponents to its new state Senate districts — adopted by commission super-majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents — have presented a misleading argument in their petition drive for a referendum to suspend the new plan and want signature gathering to be held in abeyance.
** NEW POLL: RATING INSTITUTIONS — COMPUTER INDUSTRY AT THE TOP, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AT THE BOTTOM. A new Gallup Poll indicates that the record low ratings for the new Congress have probably caused the federal government to be rated the lowest of a few dozen institutions tested.
Even lower than the oil industry, the health care industry, and the banks. This is the first time that the oil industry has not been at the bottom of the list.
At the top?
The computer industry.
We like our laptops, tablets, and smart phones far better than we like our politicians, it seems.
And we like food better than politics, too.
Americans view the computer industry the most positively and the federal government the least positively when asked to rate 25 business and industry sectors. All five of the top-rated sectors this year are related to either computers or food. …
Gallup has asked Americans each August since 2001 to indicate whether they have positive or negative views of a list of business and industry sectors. The 2011 update is from Gallup’s Aug. 11-14 survey.
The results range from a +62 net positive rating for the computer industry to a -46 net positive rating for the federal government.
The sectors Americans view most negatively have all had well-publicized problems in recent years. The federal government has been near the bottom of the list in previous years, but is at the absolute bottom this year for the first time, displacing the oil and gas industry. Seventeen percent of Americans have a positive view of the federal government — the lowest of any sector tested this year — while 63% have a negative image. Only one sector, oil and gas, has a higher negative percentage, 64%. Other poorly ranked sectors include real estate, healthcare, banking, and the legal field.
The positive and the negative ratings for the federal government this year are the worst since Gallup began measuring its image in 2003.
The deterioration in Americans’ views of the federal government began in 2004 — correlated with a downturn in President George W. Bush’s job approval rating and rising concerns about the Iraq war and the economy. Views turned slightly more positive in 2009 during Barack Obama’s first year as president, but dropped back down last year and again this year, likely reflecting rising concerns over the economy as well as the increase in government spending and power.
Other Gallup data from August of this year show that Congress has the lowest approval rating in Gallup history, and that satisfaction with the way things are going in this country is near its all-time low. …
The continuing high ratings for the computer and Internet industries likely reflect the global success of such American companies as Google, Apple, and Facebook, the technology industry’s apparent success even in this time of economic uncertainty, and the increasingly major role that technology plays in Americans’ lives. It is less clear why food-related sectors such as the restaurant industry, farming and agriculture, and the grocery industry do so well in the eyes of Americans, but it could reflect the United States’ relatively noncontroversial and efficient food supply system.
At the other end of the spectrum, poorly rated sectors have been associated with various well-publicized political or economic problems in recent years. Americans’ frustration with politicians and Washington — exacerbated by the contentious debt ceiling negotiations — comes through in the federal government’s all-time low image rating. The oil and gas industry has never done well in these image assessments, which is likely tied to swings in gas prices and the overall high price of gas.
The bad image of the real estate industry most likely reflects the housing crisis that has beset the country in recent years, and the poor image of the healthcare industry may reflect the rising cost of healthcare and uncertainly about access issues. Americans continue to view banks poorly, which clearly reflects lingering concerns from the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent failure of many banks around the country. Lawyers and the legal field have never had positive images.
Hurricane Irene, the latest in a record string of extreme weather events, though less devastating than feared, killed over 20 people and caused billions in damages.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A short but consequential week in presidential politics and California politics, as Labor Day weekend approaches.
President Barack Obama is back a little early from his summer vacation, during which dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s fearsome stronghold of Tripoli fell swiftly to the Libyan rebels and the East Coast was hit by an earthquake which shut down the Washington Monument and a hurricane which caused the evacuation of Wall Street and lower Manhattan. Want to know when big, surprising things will happen? Just see when Obama goes on vacation.
Meanwhile, in California politics, Governor Jerry Brown heads to Las Vegas for the National Clean Energy Summit. And the state legislature is down to the last two weeks of its yearly session, with very little to show for it other than big budget cuts early in the year. We’ll see if it gets anything at all done on revitalizing the economy, even as its attention seems elsewhere, focused on the new redistricting (which naturally affects their careers), a proposed football stadium in LA, the fate of a tiny unknown LA area city called, amusingly, Vernon, shark fin soup, and so on.
Hurricane Irene fortunately weakened as it hit some of the nation’s most populous areas, most notably New York City. This after massive warnings from Obama on down. But as the saying goes, better safe than sorry. And there is more than enough sorrow to go around as it is, with billions in damages and more than 20 killed.
Unlike the situation with Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FECMA) is winning widespread praise for its assistance to state and local government. But, quite bizarrely, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, the libertarian hero and a leading Republican presidential candidate, said over the weekend that FEMA isn’t necessary.
Obama is putting the finishing touches on his big speech on the economy, set for shortly after Labor Day. And he has a new chief economic advisor, Princeton Professor Alan Krueger, a notable labor economist.
But while he works on that, Obama will make a stop in potential swing state Minnesota for the annual American Legion convention, at which you can bet he will talk about some recent geopolitical and security successes.
In other action, Tripoli is quiet now, with mopping up actions having succeeded as anticipated. Gaddafi forces have been either suppressed or have fled from their remaining pockets of resistance.
Libyan rebels are driving toward Gaddafi’s remaining stronghold, his home town of Sirte. Erstwhile Gaddafi regime Information Minister Moussa Ibrahim, who — after the fashion of the hapless Iraqi information minister of 2003 — insisted that the rebels were about to be crushed in a trap as they moved into Tripoli just last weekend, now says that Gaddafi wants to work a deal for a transition from power.
The rebels, naturally, are not interested in that.
While UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon urged a smooth transition to the new Libyan government over the weekend in a New York speech, and rebel fighters have largely suppressed organized resistance in Tripoli, the African Union followed South Africa’s lead in refusing to recognize the Libyan rebels. South African President Jacob Zuma, a longtime Gaddafi ally, argued that the outcome in Libya is still in doubt. Which it is not.
This move, which is holding up release of substantial frozen Libyan assets to the rebels, could be a gambit to give Gaddafi some deal-making leverage as his forces continue from his remaining stronghold, home town Sirte. Though the 54-member African Union, co-founded and financed by Gaddafi, did not recognize the Libyan rebels, 20 of its member states have.
Statements subsequent to the African Union’s demurral by remaining Gaddafi regime figures calling for a “transitional government” bears this out.
Incidentally, though Libya has major nation-building needs, one very good thing is that the fighting has not significantly damaged the oil infrastructure, and the rebels will honor all pre-war contracts. This is not Iraq.
Meanwhile, the National Transitional Council has moved from Benghazi to Tripoli, setting up its new seat of government. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ventures to Paris for a critical Thursday meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya, following on last week’s Libya Contact Group meeting in Istanbul.
The Arab League also called on Syria to cease its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. And it called for prompt democratic elections in Syria.
Both calls were rejected on Sunday by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Another big win for Obama’s anti-jihadist operations in the fight against Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s new second-in-command has reportedly been killed in Pakistan’s Waziristan province. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was a confidant of Osama bin Laden who moved up in the ranks after the Navy SEAL raid which took down the Al Qaeda founder in May. He was killed by a U.S. drone strike on August 22nd.
Al-Rahman was Al Qaeda’s emissary to Iran. Evidence of his role as Al Qaeda’s operations officer was found in bin Laden’s Pakistan compound.
Afghan Taliban fighters killed over two dozen Pakistani soldiers and police along border checkpoints on Sunday.
The other shoe finally dropped in Japan, with discredited Prime Minister Naoto Kan resigning in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear power disaster. Japan has a new prime minister, now former Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda. He is the fifth prime minister in six years.
Japanese politics, once largely a matter of consensus under the long ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is now trending toward the historic disarray of Italian politics, which long had a revolving door of leaders. This is a bad sign for the world’s third largest economy.
Speaking of dysfunctional politics …
In California politics, the state legislature is doing some important things, but nothing exactly central. It all keeps the lobbyists richly rewarded, with lots of bustling activity and even some breathless coverage. But it doesn’t mean much for the overall picture, or to most Californians.
Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal last week to change the corporate tax structure, in a complex tax swap that would, in a revenue neutral sort of way, redirect tax advantages from larger corporations that may not be investing much in California to other companies that are growing jobs here, is clever but probably a political non-starter, given heavy lobbying forces and the reluctance of latter-day Republicans to do anything with taxes besides cut them.
It sets up the politics of 2012 pretty nicely for Brown and Democrats, though. But if Brown wants to do something more immediate to help the economy, he can move on bonding authority won by predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 infrastructure initiatives and get some shovel-ready projects rolling.
He can also move on his promised pruning of regulation. To streamline, not eliminate.
California Republicans are starting a referendum drive to block the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s revamp of state Senate districts. But, despite ex-Governor Pete Wilson jumping in to try to help spearhead the drive, fundraising is sparse so far, with four GOP senators contributing less than $100,000, and backers have barely ten weeks to gather the needed signatures. And signature gatherers will, per Attorney General Kamala Harris, have to carry a fairly lengthy packet describing the measure they seek to overturn.
Death penalty opponents, having seen their legislation to eliminate capital punishment shelved in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, are moving ahead with a promised anti-death penalty initiative. Prospects can best be described as very iffy.
And labor and liberal opponents of a conservative Republican gambit to place various initiatives and referenda on the June 2012 statewide primary election ballot — on which there may or may not be a contested GOP presidential race but, in any event, will have little to draw Democratic voters — may pursue legislation to declare that a statewide primary election is not a general election. By which they mean that it does not qualify as the next repository of qualifying statewide initiatives.
Would such a move fly legally? I suspect that the weight of law, as demonstrated by the very common practice of the state in election after election, would be against it. In any event, it’s merely a rumor at this point. But since so little of major import is happening in California’s legislature, I mention it in passing.
President Barack Obama this morning appointed labor economist Alan Krueger to chair the President’s Council on Economic Advisors. Krueger, a Princeton professor, was previously chief economist at the Treasury Department and chief economist at the Labor Department.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then appointed Princeton Professor Alan Krueger to be the new chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors in a Rose Garden announcement.
Obama then met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
Obama is 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.
** JERRY BROWN MOVES BEHIND THE SCENES, BREAKS COVER ON THE ECONOMY, BUT NEEDS TO BREAK BIGGER.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
** OBAMA’S BIG DISCONNECT. There’s no question that President Barack Obama is an outstanding orator, able to articulate important messages. But he has a big disconnect going on the biggest issue for most Americans. Even on some things that he has actually focused on of great importance, like energy prices.
Through all of 2010, as I wrote in my November 2010 election “pre-mortem”, “Obama’s Big Mistake,” here on the Huffington Post, Obama was just about to “pivot” to the economy. But it never quite happened. … From my August 22nd column.
** 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. … From my August 18th essay.
** HARRY POTTER: A CONFESSION, AND AN APPRECIATION. … From my August 11th essay.
** LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: THE BIG BUDGET DEAL AND OBAMA’S REAL PROBLEM. … 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.
Defending World and Olympic 100 meter dash champion Usain Bolt, whose times are years ahead of world record projections, ran afoul of the new no false starts rule as he sought to defend his title in the World Championship final Saturday night in Daegu, South Korea.
** 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 $87 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $53 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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