Conservative Republican challenger Mitt Romney keeps saying that President Barack Obama said he doesn’t think entrepreneurs built their businesses. That’s not at all what Obama said. But the facts aren’t stopping the Romney campaign. (Just as they didn’t stop the campaign of Romney protege Meg Whitman in her run against Governor Jerry Brown.)
** QUICK HITS. Three presidential debates are now set for the fall, along with one vice presidential debate. … October 3rd at the University of Denver in Colorado, focusing on domestic policy, with a standard moderator Q&A format. October 16th at Hofstra University, which is on Long Island in New York, on domestic and geopolitical issues, in town hall format. And October 22nd at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, focusing on geopolitical issues, with standard moderator format. … The vice presidential debate will be October 11th at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, on domestic and geopolitical issues, with standard moderator format. … The U.S. Senate today passed Obama’s plan to extend current tax cuts for all income up to $250,000, on a vote of 51 to 48. The House, holding out for extending tax cuts for all levels of income, will not do so. But that should stop a lot of talk that Democratic senators wouldn’t pass the bill. … Global media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s empire was rocked again today with no fewer than eight of his current and former editors and reporters formally charged today in the UK hacking scandal. They include Andy Coulson, former communications chief for British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Conservative Party, and Rebekkah Brooks, former head of News International, the Murdoch newspaper empire in the UK, dubbed Murdoch’s de facto daughter and a close friend of Cameron.
** NEW SURVEY: WARNING SIGN FOR OBAMA. A new Gallup Poll survey has some sobering news for President Barack Obama.
While he is either ahead of or even with conservative Republican opponent Mitt Romney in all credible polls, and is doing well in most of the swing states, he has what could be a serious problem.
Democratic enthusiasm for voting is considerably less than that of Republican enthusiasm.
This number has bounced around at times, and Republican enthusiasm may turn out to be a problem for them, too, founded as I suspect it is on enthusiasm for Romney’s hard right policies, but it presently shows a big enthusiasm gap between the two parties.
Maybe there is something to running a campaign with some vision and narrative to it, unlike the Obama campaign’s current approach of mostly tactical positioning and attacks. You never know, right?
Democrats are significantly less likely now (39%) than they were in the summers of 2004 and 2008 to say they are “more enthusiastic about voting than usual” in the coming presidential election. Republicans are more enthusiastic now than in 2008, and the same as in 2004. …
These results are based on a July 19-22 USA Today/Gallup poll. They suggest a shift in Republicans’ and Democrats’ orientation to voting in the coming presidential election compared with the last two, with Republicans expressing more voting enthusiasm. The current 51% to 39% Republican advantage in voter enthusiasm is slightly larger than the 53% to 45% GOP advantage Gallup measured in February of this year. …
Don’t look now, but while all these other crises are taking place, new satellite images have revealed that almost all of Greenland’s surface ice has suddenly started melting. There is an awful lot of ice up there. It’s unclear how deep the melt will go.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE DARK KNIGHT FALTERS AGAINST A GRITTY BOND VILLAIN (OR TWO), HIMSELF, AND US.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in the State of Washington, Louisiana, and Washington, DC.
Wrapping up his Western campaign swing, Obama flew this morning on Air Force One from Seattle to New Orleans, Louisiana.
At 1:25 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in New Orleans.
At 1:50 PM Pacific, Obama attends a campaign event at a private residence in New Orleans.
At 3:45 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the House of Blues in New Orleans.
At 5 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks the National Urban League convention in New Orleans.
At 6:25 PM Pacific, Obama departs New Orleans on Air Force One en route to Joint Base Andrews.
At 8:40 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 8:55 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
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. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** CHINA MOVES SWIFTLY ON NEW “CITY” ENCOMPASSING SOUTH CHINA SEA, GULF CRISIS SIMMERS. While the Gulf crisis simmers with the defection of the centrist Kadima party from the short-lived Israeli unity government and Israeli leaders saying last week’s murder of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria is just the latest example of global Iranian terrorism, events accelerated in the South China Sea crisis.
The People’s Republic of China, which claims almost the entire sea as it territorial waters, is accelerating its attempt to create a fait accompli. Last month it declared hundreds of islands all around the sea to be a city called Sansha.
Over the past few days, the PRC announced winners of an election to the brand-new Sansha People’s Municipal Congress — its 45 members represent 1100 people spread across hundreds of islands — and announced that a military garrison will be dispatched to the islands to protect the new government.
Of course, by claiming the tiny islands, which have little if any indigenous population, as part of China, the PRC also claims the nearly 800,000 square miles of the strategic South China Sea — through which much of the world’s shipping passes and which holds large oil, natural gas, and mineral reserves and vast quantities of sealife — that it uneasily shares with several other nations.
Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei have some claims on parts of the South China Sea, which runs practically from Taiwan and Hong Kong down to Singapore and Indonesia, which stake no particular claims but rely on unfettered access, as do most major nations including India, which seeks energy projects there. But it is Vietnam and the Philippines which are most immediately outraged by China’s increasingly aggressive moves.
Each claims islands close to it, which the PRC insists belong to it. And each has engaged in tense naval and military stand-offs with China.
Vietnam, of course, fought a short-lived land war with the PRC in the wake of Hanoi’s defeat of the US in the Vietnam War. And Vietnam and China have engaged in some fierce fighting in the South China Sea, with nearly a hundred Vietnamese killed.
The Philippines, which fought valiantly against Imperial Japan in World War II before being conquered and during the occupation, have less of a martial tradition than the Vietnamese but aren’t backing down, either. Indeed, in his state of the nation address Monday in Manila, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III — whose reformer father was assassinated by backers of longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos just after returning from exile in 1983 — refused to budge in opposition to PRC claims to islands off the Philippine coast and announced plans to upgrade the Philippine military, which is a small fraction the size of China’s, including a navy with a collection of Coast Guard cutter type vessels and no submarines, and a tiny air force of sub-sonic aircraft easily splashable by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (the world’s third largest, after those of the US and Russia).
The US is pushing multilateral negotiation to settle the welter of conflicting and frequently obscure claims that China and its neighbors have in the South China Sea. The PRC, which is much larger than any of its neighbors, prefers to deal with each one at a time, a process in which the correlation of forces will always advantage the PRC, which has accelerated its military spending over the past decade.
As I discussed here on the Huffington Post in “Crises Chaotic and Bubbling: The Gulf and the South China Sea,” China’s longtime ally Cambodia, which held the host chair, effectively blocked the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN) from issuing a summit communique for the first time in 45 years because it would have contained references to the conflicting claims in the South China Sea.
The South China Sea and the Gulf are two ends of the big geopolitical pivot which the US is undertaking — going from over-engagement with the Islamic world of the Middle East and Central Asia to increased engagement with the very broadly define Asia Pacific region — but not the only two.
The geopolitical pivot is a great big ongoing story that will help define the future of America and the future of the world. And it’s really not being done properly, since it’s largely ignored, or seen only in a momentary and compartmentalized view. …
The mayor of Anaheim, California says federal officials have agreed to review two deadly police shootings after a fourth day of violent protests in the home of Disneyland, the happiest place in the world. Governor Jerry Brown hasn’t commented on the controversy.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
Brown joined U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Assistant NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency) Administrator Eric Schwab this morning at the Natural Resources Agency Building in Sacramento to unveil the proposed path forward for the Sacramento River Delta protection and and state water transfers.
Brown proposed a peripheral canal in 1982, which was passed by the legislature and turned down by voters in a referendum campaign two months before he left office.
This plan is similar, yet quite different. Two large pipes would be used to move water from the Sacramento River, California’s largest, to the agricultural fields in the Central Valley, emerging Central Valley population centers, and of course to the mass populations in Southern California.
Some environmental critics worry that the North will be sucked draw through these “straws.” Brown promises that won’t happen, and says also that much will be done to protect the Sacramento Delta, which I’ve boated through in my Navy days and beyond.
This time, water users will pay for the conveyance system.
** THE DARK KNIGHT SHOOTINGS: “ALL IT TAKES IS A LITTLE PUSH.” … From my July 21st column.
** MITT WHITMAN = MEG ROMNEY. … From my July 19th column.
** CRISES CHAOTIC AND BUBBLING: THE GULF AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. … From my July 17th essay.
** WHY THE CLINTONS NEED OBAMA TO WIN: UNCERTAINTY AS HILLARY PUSHES THE BIG GEOPOLITICAL PIVOT. … From my July 13th essay.
** A TICKET TO RIDE: HIGH-SPEED RAIL MOVES FORWARD ON A HISTORIC (AND BUMPY) TRACK IN CALIFORNIA. … From my July 11th feature.
** DARK KNIGHTS, AVENGERS, BONDING RETRO ACTION HEROES: HOW LONG WILL THE SUPERHERO PHENOMENON LAST? … From my July 7th essay.
** FOUNDED IN ENLIGHTENMENT, AMERICA FACES IGNORANCE AND CONFUSION AS THE CHALLENGES GROW EVER MORE COMPLEX. … From my July 2nd essay.
** THE “MOMENTARY MEDIA” STRIKES: EPIC FAILS BY CNN AND FOX NEWS HIGHLIGHT DYSFUNCTIONALITY. … From my June 28th column.
** THE “SLOW BORING OF HARD BOARDS” IN AN ERA OF LIMITS. … From my June 27th 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.
** 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 $89 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $55 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 $25 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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