Embattled Congressman Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri who witlessly claimed that only “legitimate rape” can result in pregnancy, reaffirmed his commitment to his campaign Friday, buttressed by thousands of new contributions from the party’s conservative base and the staunch support of 2008 Republican presidential runner-up Mike Huckabee. Not exactly what the GOP expected for the run-up to a more moderate-friendly national party convention.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … SPACE, THE RACE, AND JERRY BROWN’S PLACE.
** QUICK HITS. No public word yet on a public pension reform bill emerging from the California state legislature, looking at leaving for the year with the upcoming holiday weekend. It’s merely needed to make sure that the Proposition 30 revenue initiative passes. Tick tock, sports fans. … What sort of hat would you imagine that Governor Jerry Brown would wear? … Yes, I know about Lance Armstrong. It’s a disappointing situation surrounding a global icon of sport, and one that is hard to be glib about. … Apple today won a swift and massive court victory over Samsung, successfully arguing that the South Korean electronics giant ripped off its smart phone and tablet designs, winning over a billion in damages in a San Francisco Bay Area court and setting the stage for affected Samsung products to be taken off the market.
** NEW POLL: OBAMA LEADS ROMNEY ON MOST MEASURES (IN POLL WHICH HAS SOME BUILT-IN ROMNEY ADVANTAGES). A new Gallup Poll survey shows President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney on nearly all measures of support.
Except on the economy, that is.
Which I don’t believe is due to backing for Romney’s ideas nearly so much as it is ongoing economic distress being laid at Obama’s doorstep.
Not that Obama is blamed for the economy per se. That’s George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as we know from other polls. But don’t expect polls to make perfect logical sense.
Anyway, I digress. But only a bit.
As the two-week period of back-to-back presidential nominating conventions gets underway next Monday, an Aug. 20-22 USA Today/Gallup poll underscores the strengths and weaknesses of each of the two candidates at this point in the campaign. Barack Obama retains a significant edge over Mitt Romney on personal dimensions, particularly in terms of his “likability,” while Americans still believe Romney is better able to handle the economy. …
Obama has double-digit leads on four of the dimensions, including likability, cares about the needs of people like you, honesty, and “would stand up to special interests.” Obama’s lead is smaller in terms of being perceived as a strong and decisive leader, working well with both parties, and the aforementioned dimension of being able to manage the government effectively. …
Conservative Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney today raised the discredited rumor that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is thus ineligible to be president. “Nobody ever asked to see my birth certificate!” Romney was joined by running mate Paul Ryan in this Michigan appearance. Yesterday Romney opined that big business is doing very well in America, in part because of its access to offshore tax havens.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … SPACE, THE RACE, AND JERRY BROWN’S PLACE.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, DC and Maryland.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 3 PM Pacific, he departs the White House for the Camp David presidential retreat in the Maryland countryside.
“The show must go on,” say organizers of the next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, where an incipient hurricane is bearing down on the already windy confab. Hmm, this is becoming almost interesting enough to tune in for. Having been to many conventions, I have never had the slightest interest in attending this one.
But now the hurricane seems to be veering away from Tampa, though it will likely deliver wild storm conditions for the convention’s Monday opening.
Remember the “Ron Paul Revolution?” The, er, revolution will not be televised. Paul will neither speak nor be nominated at the convention he and his zealous compatriots and backers insisted he would have a major role at.
Meanwhile, Romney is putting his foot in it again.
Above you can see his latest venture into Obama birtherism. In addition to his comments today, his son in December made similar remarks.
And of course Romney’s victory event when he numerically clinched the Republican nomination was a big Las Vegas fundraiser at the Vegas Strip casino of the most famous birther of all, Donald Trump.
Trump vehemently defended his birtherism in media interviews earlier that day, but Romney never made a peep of protest about his patron’s bizarre and dishonest actions.
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.
** AN INSULAR ROMNEY STRUGGLES WITH HIS SURPRISINGLY HEARTFELT VEEP PICK AFTER STRIKING OUT INTERNATIONALLY. Mitt Romney has very big problems as he contemplates rolling into Florida’s hurricane country for an even windier than usual GOP confab. Frankly, he’s fortunate that he’s not already set to lose by a landslide.
For all Romney’s complaints about the tone of the campaign, he really has done nothing to elevate. In fact, quite the opposite. That’s the only reason he won the nomination, even against that entertaining yet bizarre crew we saw in the primaries.
His international tour was a joke and a bust, an exercise in ugly Americanism in London (where he doubted his hosts’ ability to put on the smashing Olympics that were about to result) and pandering to the right-wing of the Likud in Israel (where he pledged to adopt the current Israeli government’s highest national security priority as America’s), as well as the hoariest anti-Russian cliches of the Cold War in Poland.
He has nothing of any seriousness to say about either end of America’s big geopolitical pivot — the US is shifting from over-engagement with the Islamic world of the Middle East and Central Asia to increased engagement with Asia and the Pacific — from the Gulf crisis, which he exacerbates with his urgings for war with Iran even as opposition solidifies among national security leaders and professionals in Israel, to the South China Sea and now East China Sea crises. Where he wants the US to, you know, “get tough.” (And? And crickets.)
As for Paul Ryan, his would-be partner a heartbeat from the Oval Office? He’s an Ayn Rand character in search of a novel, his John Galt-oriented fiscal plans as fictitious as his heroine’s.
Romney tries so hard to hide who he is behind his trademark chameleon nature that he reveals himself all the more dramatically when his true nature does poke through the bland facade … the Iowa Fair comments about corporations as people, the blithe $10K bet (in the midst of a presidential debate!) with ex-poor kid Rick Perry, the heated declarations that criticism of Bain Capital or any of Wall Street’s practices in any way equals socialism.
This guy should be at least 10 points behind and falling. Yet, though there have been polls in which he is close to that, and he may yet lose big, he still hangs in.
There are several problems for Obama, all of which he should be able to surmount, absent a massive geopolitical X factor.
Because, looked at from another angle, he should have been trailing Romney all along. Only Romney’s obvious inauthenticity and radical capitalist agenda have prevented that, and as a result, he’s never had anything like a real lead.
America is still decidedly not well. Obama himself has been decidedly imperfect. The country is increasingly divided on hyper-partisan lines, with a big built-in vote for anyone against Obama. And huge amounts of money are mobilizing against Obama.
In a way, it’s like 1896 all over again, when the super-rich of the Gilded Age, organized by Mark Hanna, flocked to the banner of William McKinley.
Something like that is happening now with the unlimited super PAC phenomenon and big gains for Romney fundraising, with some of the forces of hyper-capital mobilizing against Barack Obama as if he were William Jennings Bryan reborn, crossed with Che Guevara. Which, of course, he is anything but.
So Romney still looks competitive. But the chimes of impending disaster are sounding if one cares to hear.
The new Romney/Ryan ticket is scrambling to get the campaign back on track after a well-orchestrated if not well-conceived announcement and roll-out of the young congressman as would-be vice president.
A campaign which was supposed to be about the shortcomings of Obama, and the rocky and very uneven economic recovery, is instead mostly about Ryan’s very controversial budget plan and his Ayn Rand-inspired views of the role for government, as well as about Romney’s still very murky wealth. And of course Romney keeps getting tripped up as leader of a party which has become profoundly anti-Enlightenment.
The new Romney-Ryan Republican ticket, seeing the running mate pick turning the election into a matter of ideology rather than efficacy, is busy complaining that Obama and Joe Biden are conducting a negative campaign.
Lots of luck with that, boys.
Of course, it’s only annoying if you have no taste for irony. Romney won his nomination with a relentlessly negative campaign, one that was frequently fact-free. …
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Governor Jerry Brown spoke to Jet Propulsion Lab Mission Control directors and staffers on Wednesday in LA. JPL runs the Mars exploration missions, including the new Curiosity rover mission, as indeed it does all deep space exploration missions for the US.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
A very late blooming bid to seriously alter the California Environmental Quality Act came to an end yesterday, with action deferred until next year when it can be considered with a bit more sunlight on the matter.
CEQA, as it’s known, is not infrequently abused by various interests as a means to delay and block projects without regard to overall environmental benefit.
But much of the environmental community reacted with great alarm to a bid to change it all at the last minute.
The pro-development interests which most want to alter CEQA are going to have to come to grips with the fact that the basic themes underlying CEQA are very strong.
And the environmentalists who back CEQA as a paramount achievement are going to have to come to grips with the NIMBY-ism and sheer oppositionism which, too often, animate its actual use.
In any event, Brown has bigger fish to fry at the moment.
Namely, the legislature still hasn’t come up with public pension reform legislation, and the end of the legislative session is looming. There needs to be significant progress on that front to buttress the passage of the Proposition 30 revenue initiative.
Naturally, the public employee unions who fund much of the Democratic legislative majority are not anxious to give in to changes in the positioning of their rice bowls, either, no matter how much sense it makes in the big picture.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: INTRIGUE, ULTRA-VIOLENCE, HUMOR AND WHAT ELSE THAT IS MISSING FROM THE SCHWARZENEGGER REMAKES. … From my August 17th essay.
** LONDON’S GRAND OLYMPICS, ON AND OFF THE TRACK. … From my August 13th essay.
** 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.
** 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 $96 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $62 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 $18 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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