Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says Iran is showing a growing influence in Syria that must be stopped. The veteran California political figure, speaking today at the Pentagon, said that there are no plans for a no-fly zone over Syria.
** QUICK HITS. Governor Jerry Brown will kick off the pre-Labor Day portion of his public campaign for the Proposition 30 revenue initiative Wednesday with an appearance at a public school. … A day after voting to close a billion dollar corporate tax break artifact of the 2009 state budget deal, in order to fund college aid, California Assembly Republican Caucus Chairman Brian Nestande stepped down from his party post. The surprise is he had it in the first place. … Central Valley Congressman Dennis Cardoza, a lame duck who chose not to run for re-election, suddenly resigned from Congress yesterday citing rather vague family concerns. Today he became a lobbyist with the Manatt firm. I hadn’t realized their theme song was “We Are Family.” …
** NEW POLL: DESPITE BIG ROLL-OUT ATMOSPHERICS, PLURALITY SAYS RYAN RUNNING MATE PICK IS POOR. A new Gallup Poll survey has some bad news for Mitt Romney, news which comes as no surprise here on NWN.
The conservative Republican presidential candidate announced Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his very economically conservative running mate on Saturday. But the Ayn Rand aficionado isn’t playing very well with voters.
In fact, only the pick of the hapless Dan Quayle as George H.W. Bush’s running mate in 1988 played worse.
Yes, Sarah Palin played better four years ago.
But I wrote in real time that she was not a good pick. And of course she proved to be disastrous.
Ryan’s problem isn’t exactly that of Palin, who simply didn’t know much of anything. His problem is that what he knows is substantially unpopular. And that some of what he thinks he knows simply isn’t so, or does not make sense.
Which is why I find it rather baffling that substantial elements of the press seem to consider Ryan to be an intellectual.
Four in 10 Americans rate Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate as either “excellent” or “pretty good,” while 42% call the choice “only fair” or “poor.” This even division is among the least positive reactions to a vice presidential choice Gallup has recorded in recent elections. Only George H.W. Bush’s selection of Dan Quayle in 1988 generated a higher negative response, although it also generated higher positives. …
Despite Americans’ muted reaction to Ryan in general, the Wisconsin representative and Republican House Budget Committee chairman may be relatively effective at firing up the GOP base this fall, as 39% of Republicans at this point consider him an “excellent” choice. That compares with 34% of Republicans calling Sarah Palin an excellent choice in August 2008 and 18% rating Dick Cheney excellent in July 2000. …
Touring rural Iowa, President Barack Obama talked up his plans for wind energy. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives, friend to many tax cuts, not to mention the fossil fuel industry, is balking at extending wind energy tax credits.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Iowa.
He is on the second day of a three-day bus tour of this swing state which afforded him his big breakthrough in the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses.
The Obama campaign has this little gem of context for Obama’s travels in the wake of conservative Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pick of even more conservative Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate: “Go ahead, make my day.”
Wait, that’s not it.
Here it is: “The centerpiece of the Romney-Ryan economic proposals is a $5 trillion tax plan that independent economists have confirmed would raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of more than $2,000 in order to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.”
Obama spoke this morning at Nelson Pioneer Farm & Museum in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at B.R. Miller Middle School in Marshalltown, Iowa.
At 5:55 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, Iowa.
Obama was mostly in Chicago this past weekend, for a somewhat belated celebration of his 51st birthday, which actually occurred on August 4th.
He had several re-election fundraisers while in the Windy City, including one at his home on Sunday.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Obama is coming under increasing pressure from various points across the ideological spectrum to establish a no-fly zone over Syria.
This was true late last week and is even truer today, with Syria’s former prime minister, a recent defector, saying the Assad regime is close to being on its last legs and will rely heavily on air power to try to smash the rebels.
But a no-fly zone could well draw Iran and Russia into the fray, depending on how they assess things.
Dr. Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s USC-educated president, the recently elected candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, has granted himself sweeping new powers in his latest challenge to the military. Morsi cancelled the military council’s constitutional declaration which curbed presidential power. He has also dismissed top army, navy and air force commanders, including the longtime head of the Armed Forces, Field Marshall Mohammad Tantawi.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown joined Senator Dianne Feinstein and their Nevada counterparts on Monday in the High Sierras for the annual Lake Tahoe Summit.
There he announced a new web site to counter greenhouse deniers who claim that climate change is not real.
Launching “Climate Change: Just the Facts,” Brown declared: “Global warming’s impact on Lake Tahoe is well documented. It is just one example of how, after decades of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humanity is getting dangerously close to the point of no return. Those who still deny global warming’s existence should wake up and honestly face the facts.”
In an intriguing move, two recent Republican assemblymen voted for a big tax hike yesterday when the state Assembly passed Speaker John Perez’s bill to close a big corporate tax break that was part of the 2009 state budget compromise that resulted in increased taxes and use the roughly $1 billion in revenue to provide financial assistance for state college students imperiled by tuition and fee hikes.
They are Assemblyman Brian Nestande of Riverside County and newly independent Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher of San Diego.
The two non-Democratic votes were needed to reach the required two-thirds for a tax increase. Tax cuts only require a majority.
Fletcher, as readers recall, was one of the few rising Republican stars in the state until he switched his resignation to independent while running for mayor of San Diego. He moved from a distant fourth to a close third in that race, falling short of the run-off.
On the final weekend of the London Olympics, London Mayor Boris Johnson and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talk James Bond, history, Boris bikes and water-skiing on a tour of London’s new cable car after attending the Olympic Basketball Championship Game.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … RECALLING TOTAL RECALL.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILES. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, continuing his trip through Europe in advance of Friday’s launch of The Expendables 2, was in Britain over the weekend.
There he joined Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and much of the rest of the gang for the London premiere of the film.
And Schwarzenegger was on hand for the close of the London Olympics, touring with London Mayor Boris Johnson, with whom he attended the Olympic Gold Medal Basketball Game between Team USA and Spain.
In the video above, Schwarzenegger and the London mayor discuss a new method of conveyance across London, which they are riding, among other topics.
** LONDON’S GRAND OLYMPICS, ON AND OFF THE TRACK. What a fantastic Olympics we’ve just had. I miss the Games already.
The spectacle was grand, but what I hope really last are the spirits of internationalism and participation in sport. Both in pursuit of excellence and in pursuit of overall, lifelong fitness, something which is now sorely lacking in the U.S.
London put on a grand show, Mitt Romney’s stunningly boorish and buffoonish comments on Olympics eve notwithstanding, which made this Englishman a few centuries removed quite happy. This was the third Olympics that London has hosted, more than any other city — Los Angeles, with two Olympics under its belt, has hosted the most for an American city — and it showed again why it is such an enduringly international and cosmopolitan city.
The opening ceremony was wonderful. Conceived and coordinated by Britain’s Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) I watched much of it in real time and loved it. Entitled “The Isles of Wonder,” the ceremony was quintessentially British, humorous, quirky, provocative, and magnificent by turns — a skydiving Queen and James Bond?! — a fabulous reminder to the world of just how much of global culture has come from the sceptred isle.
Reviews were generally outstanding, and the show won a record audience in the U.S., eclipsing that of the somewhat overbearing but nonetheless spectacular show from Beijing — geared to announcing the emergence of a rather regimented superpower — four years ago.
Only Olympics staged in America have ever won a bigger audience for an Olympics opening ceremony, and those not by much. And not at all in absolute terms, as the audience is larger now.
London’s closing ceremony was a celebration of British music, a reminder of how essential its presence has been in the global soundtrack for many decades now.
There are so many great stories in sport. For me, they stand out especially at a time in which politics is marked by endless repetitiveness, frequently of misinformation/disinformation, usually stuck in the shallows, set to a soundtrack of hyena shrieks.
In the Olympics we have internationalism with political posturing on a much lower setting, the promise of a cosmopolitan present and future without the divisiveness of the United Nations but with the excitement of diversity and competition.
There are the many great sports, especially soccer (football to the rest of the world), basketball, swimming, gymnastics, and, of course, my favorite, track and field (known as athletics in most of the world, a tell as to its centrality).
If there are some sports that perhaps don’t belong in the Olympics, well… Really, badminton is an Olympic sport?! I hadn’t realized till the cheating scandal, which I never focused on.
And some questionable calls, including in the martial arts. Judo, yes, an obvious choice. But taekwondo instead of karate? It’s a great success of South Korean national marketing, and of what has become an elaborate sort of day care for many Americans, replete with 8-year old “black belts” learning showy Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style kicks that would almost certainly lead to disaster in a real fight.
And there is cheating and some drug-taking and various other messy facts of human life, including some misplaced ultra-nationalism. Yes, I’m happy that Team USA did very well, winning the medals competition against China, which has really amped up its sports efforts in its bid for global superpower status. And I’m nearly as happy that host Britain did so well, edging Russia for third place in the medal standings, not that I was unhappy for the Russians, either. The truth is that I’m happy to root for Americans, Brits, Jamaicans, and pretty much any athlete who shows spirit and excellence.
It was all a grand festival of international sport, but my focus was on track. Which has slipped in the U.S., even though this team did extremely well. Like soccer, it’s big around the world, but not so big here, though it was once very big, which soccer never has been. (Yet.) The 2013 World Championships in track are in Moscow, followed by Beijing, then back to London’s just cleared Olympic Stadium in 2017. These are not small venues on the global stage. But in America, at least outside Eugene, Oregon, track is not so hot.
Swimming has become bigger, at least in the eyes of NBC, which won no particular plaudits for its rather plodding coverage. There was Michael Phelps to anoint anew, though some of the media started off calling him a loser when he lost his first race — gotta love our instant analysis and get it wrong media culture! — only to recoup in grand fashion with a record career total of 22 Olympic medals. And of course, there is basketball.
I think track (or athletics, as most of the world calls it) is a better sport all around, for many reasons.
Let’s face it, you won’t be an NBA superstar, and most are automatically far too short to even try, whereas in track, excellence comes in many physical packages. Of course, you also won’t be the astounding Usain Bolt, now the Muhammad Ali of world athletics, or British long distance star Mo Farah or smooth Californian sprinter Allyson Felix Oregon decathlon ace Ashton Eaton, or Britain’s all-rounder Jessica Ennis, or likely even a member of an Olympic team.
Which is not to say that there are not many rewards. But there is a big difference between, say, an honorable mention All-American and an Olympian.
The real rewards come in the zest of sprinting, running, hurdling, jumping, and throwing. All of which can lead to lifelong fitness as well as more immediate rewards, and little of which is likely to cause health problems down the road.
There are no fads, or apps, required on this sort of fitness, which is of the eat less, exercise more school of reality. And the core skills — speed, stamina, strength, agility — can be applied in other sports.
It’s an excellent basic sport which has very low barriers to entry, especially in terms of cost. …
** GORE VIDAL: REMEMBERING A BRILLIANT, CONTROVERSIAL LEGEND OF THE SORT WE DON’T FOSTER ANY MORE. … From my August 3rd essay.
** ROMNEY’S DANGEROUS BUFFOONERY. … From my August 1st essay.
** SUNRISE IN CALIFORNIA? … From my July 26th feature.
** CHINA MOVES SWIFTLY ON NEW “CITY” ENCOMPASSING SOUTH CHINA SEA, GULF CRISIS SIMMERS. … From my July 24th feature.
** 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.
** 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 $93 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $59 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 $21 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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