President Barack Obama, joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, paid tribute today to Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, including two former Navy SEALs, killed in the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, calling them patriots who served America’s ideals.
** QUICK HITS. A very quiet day in California politics as Republicans struggle to compete. … And a rather irrelevant day in presidential campaign politics, at least with respect to what the campaigns, especially that of Mitt Romney, are doing and saying. Chatter, chatter. … The real question of the day is how/if the Muslim rage sparked by the viciously witless hate-Islam “movie” Innocence of Muslims burns itself out. Protests were sharp and frequently violent, and increasingly global in nature today. But the crowds were not nearly as big as they might have been, and in my view were relatively small. … But there is long festering anger against America in the Islamic world, over invasions and Israel and cultural encroachment and modernity itself. There’s also a tendency to use America, and Israel, as excuses. I’ll have a lot to say about all this coming up.
** NEW SURVEY: CONGRESS POISED TO ACHIEVE LOWEST EVER APPROVAL DURING AN ELECTION YEAR. Last Friday, there was a new world record in the 110 meter high hurdles as the international track season drew to a close in Brussels. And today, a new record approaches.
One that falls more on the dubious achievement side of the ledger, however.
A new Gallup Poll survey reveals that only 13% approve of the job that Congress is doing. That’s up three points since last month, which may be a matter of statistical noise, but is the lowest ever this close to the election.
The stall for Congress continues even though President Barack Obama’s job approval has gone up and so has general satisfaction with how things are going in America.
This could be a precursor for substantial turnover, with the new conservative Republican majority in the House in serious question.
Thirteen percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, the lowest Gallup has measured this late in an election year. The prior lows were 18% in 1992, 2008, and 2010. …
In election years in which congressional approval has been low in the months leading up to Election Day, there has generally been higher turnover of seats in Congress. Another factor that may promote higher turnover in this year’s congressional elections is the redistricting of all 435 seats after the 2010 census. In 1992, a year in which Congress was unpopular and incumbents seeking re-election were running in newly redrawn districts, more than 100 new members of Congress were elected. That compares with 53 new members after the 2002 elections, the last elections that followed redistricting, but a time when Congress was much more popular.
Congress has never had very high approval ratings at this point in an election year; only twice since 1974 were they over 50% — in 1998, during the economic boom, and in 2002, during the rally in support for public officials after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The historical average approval rating for Congress is 33%.
Given the recent trend, it is unlikely that Congress’ approval rating will get much higher in Gallup’s October reading, the final one before the elections. Though Congress’ approval rating today is slightly better than in August, Gallup has measured larger increases since then in President Obama’s approval rating and Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going.
Less than 20% of Americans have approved of Congress each month since June 2011, including record-low 10% readings in February and August.
Violent protests over the now infamous anti-Islamic video took place today in Tunisia, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia as crowds targeted US, UK and German embassies. However, the crowds were generally on the small side. In Cairo, for example, only a few hundred protesters showed up and were easily held back from the US embassy. Several protesters were killed by various local police and security forces.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE X FACTOR AND THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE and CONSIDERING THE SEMI-BONDIAN DARK KNIGHT RISES (RISEN TO $1 BILLION AND RISING).
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama then welcomed the 2012 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams to the White House in an event on the South Lawn.
Following that, Obama and Biden then met for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 10:25 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 11:25 AM Pacific, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya. Obama will then return to the White House.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the the White House.
At 4 PM Pacific, Obama attends a fundraiser at a private residence in Washington.
New swing state polls show Obama with a significant edge in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.
Conservative Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is campaigning today in Ohio.
Romney, campaigning yesterday in Virginia, backed away from his doubled-down criticism of President Barack Obama for supposedly “apologizing” to the people who attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, the US embassy in Cairo, and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Which only makes sense, as his charge was preposterous and dishonest.
The only question is why he doubled-down in a press conference when it was clear that he was wildly off-base.
Yet right-wing Republicans yesterday tried to make Obama out to be the second coming of Jimmy Carter — who merely launched a covert war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and launched a daring but unsuccessful special ops raid inside Tehran — for allowing days of protest against the ludicrous yet wildly offensive anti-Muslim video that lit the fuse on this crisis. Allowing protest in other countries? Yes, I’m afraid he do have to allow protests in other countries. The Iraq experiment did not lead to another.
Speaking of those protests, they spread across the Middle East and North Africa today, even to India, where 5000 Muslims protested in Kashmir.
Fortunately, that protest in a disputed region of India seems to have been the largest of the protests, which were evidently relatively small but quite vociferous. This is a hard core Islamist contingent protesting now, not a massification of protest.
Local security forces, more prepared this time, mostly contained the events, though thousands of Sudanese did some significant damage to German and British embassies in Khartoum. I am not sure what the Germans and Brits have to do with fringe radical Christians masquerading as Israelis in Southern California, but there it is.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who has a doctorate from USC and was an engineering professor in LA before becoming a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, took to Egyptian state TV today to urge both his movement and the country as a whole to refrain from any attacks on or harassment of embassies or diplomatic personnel. The Muslim Brotherhood also called off earlier planned demonstrations against the hate Islam video.
Morsi, of course, as a former LA guy, could be very direct with his fellow religionists about how ludicrous this video really is. He certainly learned what a Hollywood production looks like while getting his doctorate at SC.
But I’m not sure how many of his constituents know all that much about his background. It might be a tad impolitic for him to reveal how Westernized he is.
As I suspected Tuesday, the lethal attack on our diplomats in Benghazi is looking more and more like a plot, using the protest as a cover. (See yesterday’s edition.)
President Barack Obama told U.S. Olympians and Paralympians that they are the “portrait of what this country is all about” as he saluted their achievements at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London during a White House gathering Friday morning.
And the “movie” that lit this terrible fuse?
Right now, it looks like the work of fundamentalist Christian zealots who, falsely self-identified as Jews and Israelis and thoroughly baked in the Southern California desert sun, wanted to stir up extremely bad trouble.
The board of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, voted yesterday in Vienna, Austria to censure Iran for accelerating its nuclear enrichment program and evading scrutiny from inspectors. Russia and China joined in today’s vote. Only Cuba voted against the motion, with Egypt and two other nations of the 35 represented abstaining.
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 Persian/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 is continuing to go through bills from the recently concluded legislative session.
And he is working on his Prop 30 revenue initiative.
** WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SINCE 9/11? … From my September 11th essay.
** PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE ELEPHANT: THE CONVENTIONS AND THE CLIMATE. … From my September 8th essay.
** WHILE ONE CLINTON WOWS AT THE OBAMARAMA, ANOTHER PIVOTS TO THE LONG GAME. … From my September 6th essay.
** SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED WITH CLINT EASTWOOD? (AND THE PERILS OF ARGUING WITH IMAGINARY OBAMAS). … From my September 4th essay.
** AFTER THE ROMNEYRAMA, AND MORE SERIOUS MATTERS. … From my August 30th essay.
** SPACE, JERRY BROWN’S PLACE, AND A RACE. … From my August 27th essay.
** AN INSULAR ROMNEY STRUGGLES WITH HIS SURPRISINGLY HEARTFELT VEEP PICK AFTER STRIKING OUT INTERNATIONALLY. … From my August 23rd essay.
** 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.
** 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 $99 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $65 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 $15 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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