Conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made a renewed push to win Ohio today. He still trails there despite a recent surge in the wake of his debate win last week. I suspect that his surge has topped out and he needs another big break.
** QUICK HITS. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is now in Europe. Today he appeared at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, where he drew a big crowd. On Thursday he is in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he will join ranking United Nations and European Union officials in presenting the first Sustainia Awards for sustainable development. On Friday, he is in Madrid, Spain for the second annual Arnold Classic Europe. Schwarzenegger has taken his annual sports festival in Columbus, Ohio and added a European edition. … A robo-poll by Survey USA has Prop 30, the revenue initiative sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown, down to a 45-39 lead. However, while having millions suddenly spent against a complicated financial initiative is never positive, I generally prefer casting runes to SUSA in the divination of things. … Today’s congressional testimony on the 9/11 anniversary security situation in Benghazi is revealing the obvious. As I pointed out at the time, there clearly wasn’t anywhere near enough. And it diminished even while Libya was clearly something of a Wild West territory. The late Ambassador Chris Stevens, as I expected, had requested more security little more than a month before he was murdered by jihadists. I’m sure the Obama team can come up with some retroactive spin on this. But at the moment I’m at a loss. It’s true that congressional Republicans voted to cut security funding. But the cupboard was not bare.
** NEW POLL: HOW IS THE SCHWARZENEGGER BOOK AND TOUR PLAYING? With former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on an extended tour supporting his autobiography, Total Recall, a tour that today took him to the massive Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, there’s been a lot of controversy around his forceful re-emergence in the wake of last year’s personal controversy.
While Schwarzenegger has mostly gone through major media television interviews with a certain sense of aplomb, there have been some uncomfortable moments, moments which have given his media enemies, and they certainly exist, grist for their grinding mills.
So how is it playing?
The Hollywood Reporter commissioned a national poll by the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland.
A narrow majority, 52%, says that Schwarzenegger’s “recent campaign to clear the air and admit his mistakes,” as the poll puts it, “puts the matter behind him.”
But 48% say “it will make matters worse for him.”
So that’s what it looks like with a push. I’d like to see what it looks like with the obvious third option” “Not sure how I feel about him in the wake of all this stuff.”
The poll shows a giant gender gap on Schwarzenegger.
A whopping 63% of men say that what he is doing puts the matter behind.
But 59% of women say that it makes it worse.
What will really count is how people feel after the dust, and the sense that some have of too much information, settles.
** NEW SURVEY: WHAT SET OF VALUES SHOULD PREDOMINATE IN USA? NONE OF THE ABOVE. For the first time in its history, the Gallup Poll survey reveals that no particular set of values is favored in the US.
Gallup, incidentally, also has President Barack Obama’s job approval rating at a healthy 52%, with 43% disapproving, even though it currently has the race dead even. This is good news for Obama, who nonetheless needs a return to his 2008 debate form.
In any event, for the first time a majority of Americans says that the government should not promote any particular set of values. This is coming at a time in which traditional values are being very vociferously promoted by a constellation of political forces, mostly centered on the Republican Party.
For the first time, Gallup finds a majority of Americans, 52%, saying the government should not favor any set of values in society, while 44% believe it should promote traditional values. From 1993 through 2004, the majority of Americans consistently favored the government’s promoting of traditional values, but views have since been more mixed. …
Support for the traditional values position fell to 50% in 2005, and though it has exceeded 50% twice since then — in 2009 and 2010 — the 2005 poll seems to have signaled the beginning of a new era in Americans’ views on the matter. The shift at that time may have been prompted in part by the unpopularity of the Bush administration and Republican Congress, but has continued as Americans have become more permissive in their attitudes on certain social issues such as gay rights and marijuana use. …
As would be expected, Republicans, who generally are more conservative on social issues, widely favor active promotion of traditional values by the government, 65% to 32%. Democrats, on the other hand, believe government should take a more neutral stance, by a slightly larger margin, 67% to 29%. Independents also tend to believe the government should not favor any set of values, 54% to 41%.
The shift away from a preference for government promotion of traditional values is most evident among Republicans, even though Republicans still as a whole favor that course of action. In 2004, 79% of Republicans held that view, compared with 65% today, a change of 14 percentage points.
Democrats have also moved more in the direction of the government’s not favoring any set of values, from 58% in 2004 to 67%. Independents’ views have changed the least since 2004. …
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced this morning that US troops have been dispatched to Jordan in the event that hostilities in Syria cross the border. The veteran California political figure says it’s important to backstop the Jordanian government in this crisis.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
Conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has nearly closed the gap with Obama in most credible polls, is campaigning today in swing state with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a country singer.
Obama still leads in Ohio, which no Republican has lost and gone on to win the presidency.
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.
** GEOPOLITICS: OBAMA FACES BIG CHALLENGES DESPITE DEBATE WINNER ROMNEY’S LATEST POLICY WHIFF. In what was at least Take 4 for Mitt Romney in trying to make a major impression of geopolitical expertise, the conservative Republican presidential candidate didn’t do himself any favors. Even as President Barack Obama struggles to deal with several crises, and to recover from his sleepy Denver debate performance, Romney continues to struggle with having a critique, let alone a coherent policy.
Rommey definitely got the best of it with last week’s crisp debate performance in which he morphed back into moderate Mitt. But his ballyhooed speech Monday at the Virginia Military Institute on his big new geopolitical vision ended like his July Veterans of Foreign Wars speech in Reno, Nevada, his July-August international tour, and his September attack on Obama for supposedly sympathizing with those who stormed US missions in Cairo and Benghazi. Not at all well. Here’s the full text of Romney’s speech.
Frankly, it was a lot of rhetoric of the America is Number One variety, a lot of vagueness, and a lot of similarity with, well, Obama, except in a few notable areas in which the differences are not well conceived.
On Iran, Romney’s tough talk of war has disappeared with his old business colleague and friend Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s seeming to back away from strikes, at least this year, in his UN speech last month in New York.
So what does he want to do differently from the “disastrous” Obama? Er, tighten sanctions. Which Obama has done and likely will keep doing.
Oh, and ensure “the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region.” But they only have to be there if things are going wrong. Does he expect his policy to fail? Perhaps it’s just a subtler form of saber rattling, after all.
On Afghanistan, Romney’s language seemed vague and conditional, but critical of Obama’s plan to withdraw by the end of 2014. So much for the thought he might want to get out of a bad situation. Romney seemed to sidestep how things are actually going there. Things are going very badly, with the “real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014″ he speaks of looking illusory.
On Iraq, Romney actually criticized the US withdrawal.
“America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence,” he intoned.
Actually, it was the Iraqi government that wanted US troops out of its country. As did the American people.
On Libya, Romney had little of substance, after disastrously claiming last month that the Obama Administration sympathized with the people who attacked the US mission in Benghazi and embassy in Cairo. He didn’t even get into criticizing the obvious lack of security around the US mission in Benghazi that led to the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
California Congressman Darrell Issa, who began hearings of his House Oversight Committee today on the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, said that the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans revealed significant security problems.
One wonders why. And notes that the name no one mentions, that of General-turned-CIA Director David Petraeus, would otherwise loom large in this matter, given how big an operation the Agency had going in Benghazi. Of course, Petraeus is a particular sacred cow in the Republican Party, where power brokers entertained a major political role for him, at least until Obama moved him off the game board — as he did a few years back with Jon Huntsman and the China ambassadorship — by making him director of central intelligence.
On the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, Romney attacked Obama for lack of progress.
Which was an especially cheeky thing to do since, in reality, Romney told supporters at a Florida fundraiser that he doesn’t believe in a peace process, because “the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.”
On the multi-dimensional crisis in Syria, Romney declared: “The President has failed to lead in Syria.” But he neglected to say what he would do.
On the crisis in the South China Sea and the issue of the rise of China in general — you can see the archive of my articles dealing with the geopolitical pivot to Asia and the Pacific here — Romney simply had nothing to say.
He did claim that Obama is making dangerous cuts from the US Armed Forces. Our spending is greater than that of the next 14 nations in the world combined.
But he did get specific about the Navy. “The size of our Navy,” Romney declared, “is at levels not seen since 1916.”
Unfortunately for Romney, this is nonsense. You don’t even have to have been in the Navy, or any other branch of service — Romney was a Mormon missionary in France during the Vietnam War — to know this.
Actually, there are far more ships in the US Navy of today than in the US Navy of 1916. And even more important, the ships we have today are far more capable and powerful. For one thing, there were no aircraft carriers in 1916, which Romney should know. For another, he equates little gunboats and patrol boats with modern warships like Aegis cruisers and nuclear submarines.
And yet, Obama lost a debate to this man.
There’s no excuse for Obama’s poor debate performance, but he undoubtedly had other things on his mind.
Like major developments in Iran, where the economy is in danger of collapse after months of tough international sanctions against the Tehran regime’s nuclear program.
Like the specter of war between Turkey and Syria after repeated border incidents spurred by the deaths of five Turkish civilians, killed by a Syrian mortar shell.
Like his dispatch of major US naval forces to flash points the far western Pacific in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. …
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown is working on the Prop 30 revenue initiative, now under multi-million dollar assault by a few super-rich individuals.
Individuals mainly named Munger.
Meanwhile, the second SpaceX mission to the International Space Station is a success, with the Dragon capsule, carrying needed supplies, successfully launched and now successfully attached to the ISS.
A secondary mission, placing a satellite in orbit, was somewhat problematic. The orbit was achieved, but at a lower altitude than intended.
** JERRY BROWN GETS AN OCTOBER SURPRISE. … From my October 8th feature.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: SCHWARZENEGGER’S COMEBACK PROCEEDS WITH A BIG (NATURALLY) BOOK. … From my October 5th essay.
** BOND AT 50: DR. NO IS A TIME CAPSULE FROM THE EARLY MAD MEN ERA. … From my October 4th essay.
** OBAMA PASSES THROUGH THE MINEFIELD OF U.N. WEEK (BUT SETS UP A POTENTIAL EXPLOSION NEXT YEAR). … From my September 28th essay.
** IS POST-PARTISANSHIP PASSE? SCHWARZENEGGER AND COMPANY (AND BILL CLINTON) SAY NO. … From my September 26th column.
** DETHRONED: MAD MEN‘S DOWN SEASON OPENED THE DOOR FOR A SUPERLATIVE HOMELAND. … From my September 24th column.
** JERRY BROWN: GEARING UP A CAMPAIGN AT LAST? … From my September 22nd feature.
** HOW ROMNEY SHOULD HAVE ATTACKED OBAMA: ANATOMY OF A GEOPOLITICAL CRISIS. … From my September 19th essay.
** CONSIDERING THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY. … From my September 15th essay.
** WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SINCE 9/11? … From my September 11th 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 $92 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $58 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 $22 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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