Three Russian warships are being dispatched to Syria, probably to the Russian Navy base at Tartus.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE “FAIR SHOT” VS. THE “TO DO LIST:” THE BIG REVEALING BLAH OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN RHETORIC.
** QUICK HITS. The role of Mitt Romney in President Barack Obama’s debate practice sessions will be played by 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. How perfect a bit of casting is that? … Kerry is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a not unlikely pick to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Kerry also picked Obama to deliver the 2004 convention keynote address, which skyrocketed the then little-known legislator into the stratosphere of American politics. The G-20 Summit backed fundamental overhauls of the troubled Eurozone today, including increased integration of the banking sector. Obama emphasized how each region of the world is very dependent on exporting to and investment from the European Union. … There are reports that former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak has died. But that may not be accurate. … Governor Jerry Brown attended a fundraiser with Vice President Joe Biden today in Sacramento and left with state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, but there is no California budget deal yet.
** NEW POLL: THE EVER EXCITING VEEPSTAKES. While Mitt Romney works on developing his message and persona, he also considers who will be his running mate.
A new Gallup Poll shows that two conventional wisdom favorites, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Senator Rob Portman, are not especially well known, despite their national prominence — Rubio is one of the country’s most prominent Hispanic figures and Portman held not one but two Cabinet posts in the Bush/Cheney Administration — and may be of limited utility on the ticket.
Rubio is famed as a representative of the Cuban-American community and one of only a few top GOP officials of Hispanic background.
Portman served as federal budget director and as US trade representative.
Less than half of Americans know enough about Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman — two possible candidates for the Republican vice presidential nomination — to have an opinion about them. Among those who do have an opinion, Rubio is viewed more favorably than unfavorably, while Portman’s image is mixed. …
At this point, Rubio is twice as well-known as Portman, with 44% of Americans in the May 7-10 USA Today/Gallup poll able to give an opinion of him — compared with only 22% of Americans who have an opinion about Portman.
Both Rubio and Portman have already developed partisan images among Americans who know them. Republicans’ and independents’ opinions of Rubio break positive by 42% to 11% and 27% to 14%, respectively, while Democrats are more negative than positive about him, with 8% favorable and 28% unfavorable. Portman’s image follows the same pattern, although fewer Americans of any partisan affiliation have an opinion of him. …
At the G-20 summit at Los Cabos in Mexico, European leaders are coming under increasing pressure from the rest of the world to come up with a lasting strategy to secure the euro.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Mexico and en route Washington, DC.
Obama is wrapping up his participation in the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Obama attends two working sessions in the morning at the Convention Center in Los Cabos.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama attends a working lunch at the Convention Center.
At 2:20 PM Pacific, Obama attends the closing ceremony of the G-20 Summit at the Convention Center.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Hu Jintao of China at the Convention Center. President Hu is not a doctor.
At 4:30 PM Pacific, Obama holds a press conference at the Convention Center.
At 5:40 PM Pacific, Obama departs Los Cabos, Mexico on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
While Obama has been busy with the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, the next phase of the Iranian nuclear negotiations has been going down in Moscow.
The US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany have been negotiating Monday and Tuesday with top Iranian officials over the Iranian nuclear program.
Nothing much, to my distinct non-surprise, has been accomplished.
Sanctions spurred by the Obama Administration seem to be having a big impact on Iran, and that impact was furthered by the OPEC meeting in Vienna at which Gulf Arab states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE made clear their intention to keep their production up to take up the slack of lost Iranian exports and to keep oil prices significantly lower than Iran needs now.
But Iran is not backing off. Which is not shocking, after all. They’ve come this far. All supposedly for a civilian nuclear power program in this post-Fukushima in which nuclear power is increasingly falling away as an option.
The UN has halted its peacekeeping mission in Syria. Things have gotten far too violent during the ceasefire.
Meanwhile, two Russian warships carrying a contingent of Russian Marines are en route to the Russian naval base there.
In Egypt, Dr. Mohamed Morsi, an alumnus of the University of Southern California and candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, has claimed victory in the weekend’s presidential run-off election over retired Air Force General Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister.
The official vote count is due on Thursday.
Pakistan has been thrown into a new political crisis after the country’s supreme court pushed the prime minister, who has clashed sharply with the military, out of his job. Three judges have disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani, who was jailed for corruption during the Mubarak regime, from holding office and ordered the president to choose a new prime minister. The court ruled Gilani could not continue, after he was found guilty of contempt in April.
Just in case Morsi has won, as appears, the ruling military council, buttressed by decision of a supreme court made up of Mubarak regime justices, has dissolved the recently elected national parliament and moved to take all major fiscal, military, and constitution-building decisions out of the hands of the country’s newly elected leadership.
How’s that for a revolution?
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and North Korea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf 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 Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown is continuing state budget negotiations even though the June 15th deadline has passed. And even though a budget bill has been adopted and sent to the governor.
Most of Brown’s big budget cuts seem to be accepted, leaving major contention in a few areas amounting to less than a billion dollars, including a potential trade-off between workfare overhaul and the provision of child care services, and in-home health care services.
But there isn’t really a new state budget yet. Despite legislative claims to the contrary, which leaders say justify their being paid despite not meeting the obvious spirit of the Prop 25 budget reform.
Because most of the so-called “trailer bills” necessary to actually implement the budget have not been passed. Much less signed by Brown.
Brown vetoed a budget last year, first time in California’s history that has happened, and is prepared to veto again.
Democratic legislative leaders appear to be offering some version of public pension reform in exchange for avoiding permanent cuts to welfare.
** THE ENLIGHTENMENT DIVIDES AMERICAN POLITICS. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
from the Declaration of Independence
There is no shortage of political divides in this era of angry politics. But one of the most fundamental of all is between those who favor the Enlightenment and those who oppose it. Considering that the ideals and values of the Enlightenment ushered in the transition from the medieval to the modern and drove the American Revolution, it’s a quite stunning and ironic state of affairs to find ourselves in during the early part of the 21st century.
The Enlightenment was a sustained starburst in political thought, a powerful philosophical movement in Europe and North America from the late 17th century through the whole of the 18th century and into the early 19th century. Drawing on Renaissance humanism and the emerging scientific revolution, Enlightenment thinkers rejected feudalism, royalism, superstition, and religious prophecy, applying the reason of science to society.
Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were the key leaders of the American Enlightenment, with George Washington and John Adams in substantial agreement.
With the guidance of these Founding Fathers, egalitarianism, expanding human rights, and the central role for science and rational inquiry in a society marked by a separation of church and state were central characteristics of early American thought.
The most ironic thing about the Tea Party-ized Republican Party, which, despite its appropriation of the Boston Tea Party moniker, is in reality little more than a re-branding of the far right, is that it rejects the ideas which animated the American Revolution, as demonstrated in the Declaration of Independence, and which spurred the remaking of America during the Civil War, as proclaimed in the Gettysburg Address.
A Gallup Poll earlier this month brought home just how far away from Enlightenment thinking much of the country, largely the part represented by the Republican Party, has become. It’s actually rather shocking.
An amazing 46% of Americans believe in creationism, the doctrine that denies the science of evolution and holds that human beings in our present form were created by God within the past 10,000 years. Which has people and dinosaurs existing together in some sort of ludicrous cartoon view of reality.
While big majorities of Democrats and independents reject this stuff, the great majority, some 60%, of Republicans embrace it. And when you remove those Americans with postgraduate educations from the mix, most of the remaining Americans believe in creationism.
So much for the power of the news media, the Internet, and other forms of media to inform the people.
Amazingly, the overall numbers are essentially the same as they were 30 years ago. Despite the fact that there have been numerous well-publicized scientific discoveries during the past three decades buttressing evolution science and debunking creationism. In fact, the number of Americans with this woeful sense of the world has actually gone UP a few points, from 44%. …
Unfortunately, this is only the latest example of how what is frankly medieval anti-Enlightenment thinking has coalesced in America.
The anti-Enlightenment forces in America are all of a piece — birthers who scream that the first black president is really not an American at all but an African, evolution deniers, greenhouse deniers, anti-solar types, the drill-baby-drill crowd who don’t get that oil is a global market so even more drilling here won’t drop the price of gasoline, anti-gays, anti-choicers, and so on.
Jefferson and Franklin would roll over in their graves listening to this gabble.
And the supposed “moderate” Mitt Romney is squarely behind all of it.
His own son made birther cracks about Barack Obama, the first black president, several months ago. Romney himself chose to celebrate his clinching win in the Republican primaries with a big fundraiser at the Vegas Strip casino of the most famous birther in the country, Donald Trump, who that very day gave interviews pushing his vicious nonsense.
Romney ran as a moderate in rather liberal Massachusetts. So the question is, when was Romney lying? When he ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy on gay rights when he tried to get elected to the U.S. Senate in the ’90s and pushed what’s now known as “Obamacare” as governor of Massachsetts in the past decade? Or now, when he runs for president as head of a political party that has pitched itself as anti-Enlightenment.
For Romney is also a former bishop in one of the most conservative religions in America, the Mormon Church. His conservative faith meant enough to him that he worked as a Mormon missionary in France while others his age were going to fight in the Vietnam War, which Romney, a superhawk, vociferously supported. But he doesn’t talk about it in public, and the media never presses him.
It’s all a far cry from the now vanished Republican Party we had in this country from the Civil War of the 1860s through the Mad Men days of the 1960s, when Republicans embraced civil rights, conservation, and the preservation of the Union against the rebellion of states which today make up the geographic core of the anti-Enlightenment forces in America.
Following the very hard-won victory of Union forces over Confederate at Gettysburg, one of the most critically important battles in American history, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln made a little speech, just 272 words. In this speech, the Gettysburg Address, the man credited as the father of the Republican Party celebrated the turning point in the Civil War and proclaimed the rebirth of the United States along the Enlightenment lines of the Declaration of Independence. …
** LOOKING FORWARD FROM MAD MEN‘S MEANDERING SEASON 5: YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (ONE CAN ONLY HOPE) … From my June 13th essay.
** MIDWAY: 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST PIVOTAL BATTLES CAME IN MIDST OF OBAMA’S BIG STRATEGIC PIVOT TO THE PACIFIC. … From my June 9th essay.
** MAD MEN: THE ANVIL HAS LANDED. … From my June 6th review.
** JERRY BROWN FOR PRESIDENT + 20. … From my June 6th essay.
** FIAT LUX, WILLARD! … From my June 1st column.
** MAD MEN: CONTROVERSY AS JOAN LOWERS HERSELF TO RISE, PEGGY EXITS ANTICLIMACTICALLY (AND SCDP GETS ITS HALO CLIENT). … From my latest essay.
** THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES BIG STEPS FORWARD. … From my May 30th 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.
In another first for China, a Chinese spacecraft carrying the country’s first female taikonaut has docked with the Tiangong 1 space module, 213 miles above Earth. This is all preparatory for a Chinese space station.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 $84 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $50 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 about $30 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.