President Barack Obama is campaigning across the Midwest today, reminding big crowds of supporters that conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made the same charges about Bill Clinton’s economic program that he makes about the Obama program.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama, holding small but steady leads in most all polls of most swing states is also edging ahead in national tracking polls. … Scrambling to try to crack Obama, Mitt Romney has just added election day events in Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Obama leads in both states. The Pittsburgh play may actually be a play to the Ohio coal country. … Governor Jerry Brown, who hit five cities today promoting the Prop 30 revenue initiative, will “address the media” about the election after voting tomorrow morning at 7:15 AM near his home in Oakland. … At his events during the day, Brown said of the hide-the-funders No on 30 campaign, “There more than a handful of willful men” funding the drive to kill the budget-balancing initiative which would raise their taxes. Brown said of the secret $11 million contribution that “the money is so dirty that it was laundered five times and they still can’t clean it.” … Spinners for the No on 30 and Yes on 32 campaigns have adopted notably low profiles in the wake of the scandal. … Prop 32, the initiative to hamstring public employee union campaign spending, is going down big-time, as is Prop 38, heiress Molly Munger’s rival revenue initiative, despite no one advertising against her.
** LOOKING FORWARD: BENGHAZI BLUES, CLIMATE WAKE-UP CALLS, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MAPS. There’s so much to dislike about the campaign season thankfully almost past. Shallow, vicious, ADD, these are only a few words that come to mind.
But it may just be that things have gotten so bad that we can learn a few things to slice through frenzied hyper-partisanship, neglectful media culture, and overall studied insularity.
* Benghazi Blues
The murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 wasn’t just a tragedy, it was a disaster.
But truly wild conspiracy theories on the right about the Benghazi disaster are reaching an amazing level.
Major mistakes were made there, as I’ve pointed out from the beginning. But those errors are really about preparation and characterization rather than the wild charges now flying about.
John McCain, his measured maverick days seemingly in the rear view mirror, calls it a bigger scandal than Watergate.
Rudy Giuliani says that President Barack Obama has to resign over Benghazi.
As someone who supported McCain when he ran for president in 2000, I find his attitude stunning. And having had a few perfectly rational talks with Giuliani five or so years ago, I can only shake my head at what he is saying now.
The charges have become so wild and, frankly, desperate, that CIA operators in Benghazi were, per Fox News, supposedly told to “stand down” by their CIA superiors rather than try to help Stevens and his colleagues.
Now, if you like, click through and take a look at that Fox News story. Then use your common sense. Whose name is missing there?
Why, that would be the director of the CIA, one David Howell Petraeus.
I’ve noted before how seldom the name of America’s most famed general in many years, intellectual author and executor of the surge strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan, has popped up through all the bruiting about of Benghazi. He’s a sacred cow across the right wing and in much of the media. But it’s impossible to have any serious discussion about Benghazi while excluding Petraeus from consideration.
I know why Petraeus is keeping a low profile on this. Two reasons. First, it’s a disaster. Second, and probably more importantly, CIA has a large covert presence in Benghazi which he is understandably not eager to discuss.
Of course, if the Agency missed word of the coming assault on the US diplomatic mission, that’s an issue in itself.
But that is another matter from the frankly crazy charges flying around.
To imagine that there was a deliberate decision not to rescue Stevens and company is to imagine that General Petraeus would allow that to happen. Which would cause a rational person to think before blathering on.
One would imagine also that a rational person would think before blathering on about the nature of Obama himself, who, after all, ordered one of the ballsiest raids in the history of US arms to take down Osama bin Laden.
In the real world, Obama is hardly the jihadist-apologist peacenik that extremist rhetoric makes him out to be. Quite the opposite. For in the real world, Obama has accelerated a program of special operations raids and drone strikes (which I’m all for, to a point) that is so aggressive it might be stimulating its own jihadist-creating backlash.
Obama was hardly into sacrificing the most popular American ambassador in the Islamic world. That’s birther type think.
What happened in Benghazi is very serious stuff, requiring serious questions from serious people.
As I wrote right away in “How Romney Should Have Attacked Obama: Anatomy of a Geopolitical Crisis,” the failure to anticipate and be prepared for a potential attack is what needs to be examined.
Mitt Romney, of course, started with a totally ludicrous attack, claiming that the Obama Administration actually sympathized with the folks who attacked the US embassy in Cairo and the mission in Benghazi. He never really did get his line of attack straight, including when he was face to face with Obama in the foreign policy debate.
With the election over, we need to determine what potential failures of intelligence, planning, resources, communication, and rapid response capability contributed to the Benghazi disaster. Hopefully, the rest of this vicious noise will subside to the fringes where it belongs.
* Climate Wake-Up Calls
In our increasingly goofy political and media culture, climate change was the big issue no one was talking about any more, even as it continued to grow in the real world. Then came the superstorm.
What Superstorm Sandy demonstrated is the critical role of government, and particularly strong federal government as represented by the Federal Emergency Management Administration. And it demonstrated, once again, the reality of climate change, denied by far too many fronting for the old energy economy. For the increased extreme weather events, though individually unpredictable, that we are experiencing are all part of the greenhouse scenario.
It’s ironic that extreme weather events such as this are part of the scenario for climate change, since the issue has been barely mentioned during this shallow campaign season. Right after the conventions, in “Pay No Attention to the Elephant: The Conventions and the Climate,” I noted that the historic Arctic Sea ice melt coincided with a near blackout of any discussion of climate change by pols and media, caught up in the usual ping pong. …
President Barack Obama’s swing state edge over conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney may be relatively slight, but looks stable.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … LOOKING FORWARD: BENGHAZI BLUES, CLIMATE WAKE-UP CALLS, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MAPS.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Here it is, at last, the day before the election. Won’t you be sad to see this largely benighted campaign season come to its justly deserved end?
Shall I say the obvious, that it’s a big week on tap in presidential politics and in California politics, in which the biggest political money laundering operation in state history is slowly being revealed?
President Barack Obama appears headed to re-election, though national vote totals are very close — Obama may wind up at historic lows for an incumbent president in a number of Southern states (Obama, of course, gets big votes in California and New York) — and swing state contests have not turned into runaways.
Conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has proved to be a tenacious challenger, and his strong first debate performance, coupled with Obama’s odd somnolence there, made a very serious race out of what was shaping up to be a comfortable re-election.
But Obama battled back to win the next two debates, halting Romney momentum. Superstorm Sandy, and Obama’s strong leadership stance around that, may prove to have provided a key finishing touch on the election.
Democrats will hold on to the U.S. Senate, which I believe will become more liberal after this election.
Republicans will hold on to the U.S. House of Representatives, Obama’s Denver debacle having played a major role in halting Democratic momentum at the congressional level.
In California, see my Friday column linked below on the real possibility that Governor Jerry Brown and company pull out a win for the Proposition 30 revenue initiative. Were this to happen, that would be one of my forecasts proved wrong. Another might come with a potential victory for the anti-death penalty initiative.
All other forecasts, also linked below, look solid. That includes the latest defeat of an initiative to hamstring public employee union campaign spending. But one thing that initiative succeeded in doing was diverting massive funding that could have been better spent elsewhere. That’s what happens when a small group of mega-rich donors bands together.
The alternatives to a Prop 30 victory are grim for California, if not for Brown himself, who has a lot of experience carrying out the popular will when it comes to budget cuts.
Speaking of the No on 30 campaign, it turns out to be the political equivalent of a matryoshka doll. That’s one of my favorite Russian gifts, consisting of nested dolls, one within another, in a lengthy chain of hidden identity.
Sunday afternoon saw some dramatic action in the quest to find out who is behind the largest anonymous political contribution in California history.
In an extraordinarily fast decision, the California Supreme Court ordered the shadowy Arizona super PAC which gave $11 million to the No on Prop 30 and Yes on 32 campaigns via the “Small Business” Action Committee re-branding operation to immediately turn over all records to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
The decision came while I was out walking and running sprints.
The vote was unanimous, 7 to 0, on a Court with a Republican majority, with Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye presiding.
The small business committee of one and the No on 30 and Yes on 32 campaigns have insisted they have no idea where the $11 million came from. Which, admittedly, is rather amusing.
And the super PAC, in good banana republic fashion, insisted that it had no good reason to reveal its actual funders and, in any event, would never do so before the election.
Lawyers for the shadowy super PAC continued their obfuscation even after the California Supreme Court order, claiming that revealing the true source of the largest anonymous political contribution in California would violate freedom of speech. They asked for a stay of the California Supreme Court order until Monday morning, a request immediately denied. Then they simply refused to comply.
But facing likely contempt of court charges, they slowly began to cooperate with state elections watchdogs.
Now we know that the $11 million came from another shadowy group, Americans for Job Security (a conservative Republican outfit in Virginia), funneled through yet another shadowy group called The Center to Protect Patient Rights.
So here was the play, one money laundering group to another all the way into the No on 30 and Yes on 32 campaign efforts: Americans for Job Security to The Center to Protect Patient Rights to Americans for Responsible Leadership to Small Business Action Committee and then into the campaign efforts over the California airwaves.
And who provided the money to “Americans for Job Security?” That is still unknown.
But of course.
Obviously this is the sort of thing that taints everyone involved in it. Except, so far at least, the true sources of the money which was so strenuously laundered into the California body politic.
Back to presidential politics.
Here is what Obama’s schedule for the week looks like, following Monday’s big rallies in Madison, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; and Des Moines, Iowa.
You’ll note that his public schedule runs only through Wednesday, i.e., the immediate aftermath of the election.
Some Afghan officials worry that US and NATO troops will pull out too soon, for their claims of preparation are proving to be hollow.
I suspect he will have plenty of crisis management to attend to after the election, both geopolitical and the looming “fiscal cliff.”
On Monday evening, the Obamas will travel to Chicago, Illinois where they will remain overnight.
On Tuesday, the Obama family will spend Election day in Chicago, Illinois.
On Wednesday, the Obamas will return to the White House.
Meanwhile, Iran has just opened a new naval base on the critical oil choke point, the Strait of Hormuz.
Syrian opposition groups are gathering in Doha, capital of Qatar, to figure out how to better oppose the Assad regime, which is still holding on to its bloody grip on power.
And conspiracy theories on the right about the Benghazi disaster are reaching an amazing level.
Major mistakes were made there, as I’ve pointed out from the beginning. But those errors are really about preparation and characterization rather than the wild charges now flying about. More to follow.
And there is the Afghan War situation, which continues to deteriorate.
Still more rugged times await.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois.
At 8:45 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event on MLK Boulevard in Madison, Wisconsin.
Obama is accompanied at this event by Bruce Springsteen.
At 9:55 AM Pacific, Obama departs Madison, Wisconsin on Air Force One en route Columbus, Ohio.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Columbus, Ohio.
At 1:10 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Obama is accompanied by Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z, and joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.
At 5:25 PM Pacific, Obama departs Columbus, Ohio on Air Force One en route Des Moines, Iowa.
At 7 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Des Moines, Iowa.
At 7:50 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama deliver remarks at a campaign event at the intersection of East 4th Street and East Locust Street in Des Moines.
Bruce Springsteen appears with the Obamas.
At 9 PM Pacific, the Obamas depart Des Moines, Iowa on Air Force One en route Chicago, Illinois.
At 10:05 PM Pacific, the Obamas arrive in Chicago.
Vice President Joe Biden campaigns today in Virginia.
Former President Bill Clinton campaigns today in Pennsylvania.
Conservative Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigns today in Virginia.
Congressman Paul Ryan campaigns today in Nevada and Colorado.
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 traveling the length of the state.
Brown barnstorms the length of California today on behalf of the Prop 30 revenue initiative, appearing in five cities:
1. San Diego
6:45 AM at Herbert Hoover High School.
2. Los Angeles
9:45 AM at Plaza de Valle Shopping Center.
11:45 AM at United Association Local Union 246.
1:45 PM at the Sacramento City Teachers Association.
5. San Francisco
4:45 PM at Delancey Street.
Over the weekend, Brown campaigned across the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
** DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT … CAN JERRY BROWN ACTUALLY PULL OFF A PROP 30 WIN? … From my November 2nd column.
** TERM 2: OBAMA ON THE VERGE. … From my new essay.
** CALIFORNIA STORY: THE INITIATIVES SHAKE DOWN WHILE BANANA REPUBLIC POLITICS REVS UP. … From my October 26th column.
** BOND AT 50: SKYFALL‘S NOTABLE PREMIERE HARKENS BACK TO BOND’S LATE IMPERIAL BEGINNINGS. … From my October 24th essay.
** OBAMA WINS THE FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE ON … OHIO? … From my October 23rd essay.
** RECALLING GEORGE MCGOVERN’S LAST CAMPAIGN. … From my October 22nd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC: PASS THE BANANAS. … From my October 19th essay.
** OBAMA TAKES DEBATE 2: SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? … From my October 17th essay.
** GEOPOLITICS: OBAMA FACES BIG CHALLENGES DESPITE DEBATE WINNER ROMNEY’S LATEST POLICY WHIFF. … From my October 9th essay.
** 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.
** 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 $85 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $51 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 $29 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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