A convoy carrying U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was attacked today by a pro-Assad regime crowd in the capital city Damascus. Ford, who was on his way to visit an opposition leader, was unharmed.
** QUICK HITS. Terrific read in the new Vanity Fair from best-selling author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball) on the crisis in public finance, California’s ungovernability, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the lizard brains shared by all Americans. The former governor, who was not accompanied by his blue oxen Babe, after a scarifying bike ride through the streets of Santa Monica and an encounter with a pedestrian who thought he was Bill Clinton (“another sex scandal guy”), offered up a humorous rendition of events before getting down to cases on the state’s chronic budget crisis and his own time as governor which he actually did enjoy. (Mostly.) I may run through this piece, which may be both too entertaining and too wonky, in another piece. … In the ever exciting Republican presidential race, former frontrunner Mitt Romney is coming up over $5 million short of the last quarter’s fundraising mark, which in turn was down from the same period four years ago. … And Jon Huntsman is closing up shop in Florida, where he had headquartered his presidential campaign, throwing all his chips into the New Hampshire pot. Where he has actually cracked double digits in recent polling.
** NEW POLL: DISPIRITED DEMOCRATS. A new Gallup Poll indicates that Republican voters are much more fired up about the 2012 elections than are Democrats.
I think those numbers will change as politics shifts more clearly into campaign mode, and as the Republican presidential nominee becomes more clearcut.
President Barack Obama has not done a good job of the admittedly very challenging task of seeking compromise solutions to keep the country on the rails while effectively identifying his antagonists.
Now that it’s utterly clear that there is little if any compromise to be had, Obama is at last defining the differences.
Also keep in mind that there are fewer Republicans than there are Democrats, and that the not so GOP is much more lockstep now in its rightward marching ideology.
And that prominent left-leaning figures and media outlets have been talking down Obama for the past few years.
In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting. …
Democrats’ muted response to voting in 2012 also contrasts with Republicans’ eagerness. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans, 58%, describe themselves as more enthusiastic about voting. That is nearly identical to Republicans’ average level of enthusiasm in 2004 (59%) and higher than it was at most points in 2008. …
Democrats’ net enthusiasm (+1) now trails Republicans’ net enthusiasm (+28) by 27 percentage points. By contrast, Democrats held the advantage on net enthusiasm throughout 2008 — on several occasions, by better than 40-point margins. Democrats occasionally trailed Republicans in net enthusiasm in 2004, but never by as much as is seen today. The current balance of enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats is similar to what Gallup found in the first few months of 2000.
** NEW CALIFORNIA POLL: NO SURPRISE THAT DEATH PENALTY RETAINS BIG BACKING. A new Field Poll tells us what we should already understand; namely, that capital punishment retains supermajority support in California.
So much for a proposed initiative next year to do away with the death penalty for convicted murderers.
A whopping 68% favors the death penalty. Only 27% oppose it.
But a plurality say they favor life imprisonment without parole, 48% to 40%.
Why the seeming discrepancy?
Field, naturally, doesn’t address the question. I love polling in California. (Incidentally, Field is a highly credible pollster for what it does. There are plenty of non-credible pollsters, such as Probolsky and M4, both of which have silly push-polls out on conservative web sites.)
I think it has to do with two things.
First, people respond differently to different questions, and many like to sound more moderate and seemingly kindly. Not that this question is how a campaign would be framed, in the least, mind you.
Second, people are noticing that there aren’t any executions in California. Some even notice that it costs a lot of money to execute a convicted murderer, more than it costs to house that murderer.
Why is that? Because of endless legal delays. The latest being an odd shortage of the proper chemicals needed to conduct an execution, a matter beyond the scope of this little item.
But the important point in the Field Poll is that basic attitudes toward the death penalty — yes or no — are essentially unchanged.
Over the course of more than five decades The Field Poll has consistently found substantial public support in California for keeping the death penalty as a form of punishment for certain capital crimes.
At present, 68% of voters favor retaining the death penalty for serious crimes, 27% favor doing
away with it, while 5% have no opinion. There has been no appreciable change in this division of sentiment over the past fifteen years.
The period between 1960 and 1971 was the high water mark for opposition to the death penalty in
the state, when between 34% and 39% favored its elimination.
By contrast, the period 1981 – 1992 saw the highest levels of public support for the death penalty (75% to 82%), and opposition was at its lowest point (14% to 17%).
Since then support has generally remained in the high 60% range, while opposition has been in the mid-20% range.
>>>>>> LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 10 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
Senator John McCain led a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators to Libya today, where he spoke in Tripoli.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … 9/11 AT 10+: DID OSAMA BIN LADEN WIN AFTER ALL?
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
He then met with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
Following that, Obama did regional media interviews on the American Jobs Act in the Diplomatic Room.
At 10 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
Obama has some good economic news this morning. Not only have global markets stabilized, at least for now, jobless claims are down to the lowest level since April.
But he is dealing with yet another apparent instance of homegrown jihadism, in this case a recent physics graduate of Northeastern University who evidently planned to fly large remote-controlled model aircraft filled with explosives into various Washington targets.
And Obama is struggling with Israel, which, after Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu insisted in a UN address last Friday that he is ready to compromise and begin negotiations immediately on a Palestinian state, has gone in the exact opposite direction this week.
After Israel announced that it would build another 1100 housing units in East Jerusalem, its cabinet rejected the proposal of the Middle East Quartet that Netanyahu seemingly embraced last week. So the Palestinians feel vindicated in their course at the UN, which they are pursuing, their full membership having been referred yesterday to the committee on memberships.
Apparent homegrown jihadist Rezwan Ferdaus has been arrested on suspicion of trying to fly explosives-packed model jets into U.S. landmarks.
Meanwhile, China today launched what is intended to be the first module in its space station program, which it plans to be fully functioning by the end of the decade.
Obama is monitoring a variety of 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.
At 11 AM, Brown will join public safety, local government, and health and social services leaders from around the state for a Capitol press conference to discuss realignment in advance of the program’s October 1st roll-out.
Brown is working his way through some 600 bills which he must decide upon by October 9th.
** MAD MEN‘S FEAT. Out of sight, out of mind?
It’s been little more than a week since Mad Men won a record-tying fourth straight Emmy Award for best drama, and it’s all looking and feeling rather anti-climactic. Ironic, since Mad Men joins only The West Wing (2000-2003) and Hill Street Blues (1981-84) in accomplishing the feat. LA Law also won four best drama awards in the late ’80s and early ’90s, though not consecutively.
It’s a great feat for a great show, a show which, as is obvious from all the writing I’ve done on it, is my favorite, though hardly perfect. This is a landmark series about important things, not the least of them being America at the apex, on the cusp of change in the 1960s, imperial New York at its peak, the rise of consumerism and the persuasion industry, men, women, and some very cool fashion and design. To name a few. …
History, deep and multi-faceted, swirls around us, but our culture increasingly focuses on the momentary. … From my September 28th essay.
** MEG WHITMAN TO RUN CALIFORNIA (ICON)! The 2010 Republican nominee for governor of California is back. And apparently out of her leading role in her mentor Mitt Romney’s formerly frontrunning campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. She won’t be running California, but she will be running a California icon. … From my September 22nd column.
** T2 AND ALIENS ANNIVERSARIES POINT UP THE PROBLEMS WITH TODAY’S ACTION MOVIES. … From my September 18th essay.
** OBAMA AND THE REPUBLICANS: TWO CONTRASTING NIGHTS. … From my September 9th column.
** THE FARM WORKERS AND JERRY BROWN MAKE UP, FOR NOW. … From my September 7th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS POST-BUDGET FOCUS. … From my September 1st feature.
** WHY OBAMA WAS RIGHT ON LIBYA AND BIN LADEN AND WRONG ON AFGHANISTAN. … From my August 31st essay.
** 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.
China today launched its space module lab called “Heavenly Palace” or Tiangong 1 which will remain in orbit for docking missions. It is a precursor to a Chinese space station, set for 2020.
** 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, and down $31 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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