One big problem for opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who holds a doctorate in engineering from USC, is a sense of division among a set of diverse constituencies that have already resigned themselves to losing the December 15th referendum on the proposed constitution.
** QUICK HITS. In advance of Wednesday’s big international conference in Morocco on the Syrian crisis, the Obama Administration announced today that it is recognizing the newly formed Syrian Opposition Council as the legitimate representative of the country. Other European and Arab nations have already done this. The US has also designated one Syrian opposition group as a jihadist terrorist outfit. … Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this morning said that the Assad regime seems to have backed away from further deployment of chemical weapons. More embattled than ever in Damascus, the regime came under heavy pressure from many sides, including its longtime Russian ally. … The Michigan state legislature today swiftly approved right-to-work legislation. That means that even if a workplace is unionized, workers there do not have to pay union dues. Which will make it easier to get rid of a union. The state’s Republican legislative majority is trying to make the legislation referendum-proof, but the gambit may fail. … First-term Governor Rick Snyder had opposed earlier talk of right-to-work, but quickly signed the bill today. Doing right-to-work in Michigan, ancestral home of industrial unionism, became a cause celebre on the right in the wake of last month’s election defeats. … It was a conservative move to try to enact right-to-work in California that helped bring Governor Jerry Brown’s father, the legendary Pat Brown, to the governorship in 1958.
** NEW SURVEY: ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE DIPS. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that this post-election period is not a time of national effervescence, unlike some in the past. For economic confidence is fading, though still higher than it’s been through most of this year.
After an improved jobs report, this may have a lot to do with continued Washington gridlock, expressed in its latest form by such public uncertainty around the ballyhooed fiscal cliff issue.
Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is at -16 for the week ending Dec. 9, down from -12 the previous week. Confidence is now the lowest it has been since the presidential election, but still high compared with most of 2012. …
The decline in confidence comes even though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a better-than-expected jobs report on Friday, showing a 0.2-percentage-point improvement in the seasonally adjusted employment rate. Still, confidence was -16 from Friday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 9 — similar to the weekly average. …
Although Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index declined last week, its -16 level remains one of the better readings of the year, and is considerably higher than it was in July and August. Since that time, Americans have become more positive about current economic conditions and the economy’s outlook. Still, in recent weeks, perceptions of the economic outlook have become slightly more negative, while current evaluations have remained relatively flat. …
While en route to Kuwait earlier today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, discussing the Syrian crisis, said that the Assad regime may be backing away from deployment of chemical weapons.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden have lunch in the Private Dining Room.
Behind the scenes, Obama and the congressional Republicans may be getting closer to a fiscal cliff deal as more Republicans acknowledge the need for revenues.
Russia is reportedly playing a role in keeping the Assad regime in Syria from crossing any more red lines on deployment of chemical weapons.
The level of protest against President Mohamed Morsi in advance of the December 15th national referendum on the proposed constitution is proving to be, as anticipated, quite survivable.
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.
** WHERE THE DEMOCRATS GO NEXT, OR, PIVOTING WITH HILLARY. Because it’s never too early to talk about the election cycle after the next one. Especially in this era of the permanent campaign.
Yet I suspect that something is going to short-circuit much of the chatter. At least with regard to the Democratic side, until Hillary Clinton is ready to make an announcement about her plans, or lack of same.
Ironically, given the increasingly “sports-talk” character of political coverage, the outcome — or, more properly, the perceived outcome — of a complex set of issues will likely be the key to her presidential prospects.
The Asia-Pacific Pivot is the pivot on which the next presidential election may well turn. That’s our would-be way out of being entangled in every toxic conflict in a highly conflicted region. You can see an archive of my articles related to the geopolitical pivot from over-engagement with the Islamic world of the Middle East and Central to increased engagement with rising Asia and the Pacific by clicking here.
The Obama administration has other reasons for making the move, of course, namely the importance of the rising Asia-Pacific region and the perceived need to counter would-be superpower China, though of course that last is not how administration officials put it.
The usually interesting Public Policy Polling outfit has a national poll out on 2016.
The outgoing secretary of state has a big lead on the Democratic side. Let’s return to that in a moment. …
Until she decides yea or nay, and I expect yea, the Democratic contest is frozen. And if she goes, it may be over before it begins.
Except for the issue factor.
It took an extraordinary candidate to beat Hillary Clinton in 2008. The future arrived early for Democrats in the form of Barack Obama.
In the natural order of things, he’d have been more likely to emerge as a top presidential prospect in the 2016 election cycle, or even later. That Obama emerged when he did was a function of his extraordinary 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address — has anyone ever enjoyed a better introduction to the national stage? — and of his opposition to the Iraq War.
Yes, an actual issue proved to be critical in Obama’s defeat of Clinton. He was against the invasion of Iraq; she voted to authorize it.
Typically for this era, there’s virtually no discussion of issues in looking at potential presidential Democratic presidential candidates. That’s not the inside baseball way of looking at the world, or at least its very reduced universe simulacrum.
But in contrast to 2008, when she was best known, as New York’s junior senator and the former first lady, for the misfiring health care reform effort of the ’90s and her support of the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton now has a vast and complex body of decisions and opinions on which to be judged. And most of it is still in play, the outcomes uncertain.
While we’re out of Iraq, and drawing down after un-cleverly escalating in Afghanistan, there are three, four, five, six, or more potential wars in the Middle East and Central Asia that could take place in the next few years, if not months.
And that’s before we get to the other end of the geopolitical pivot, with China claiming virtually the entire South China Sea in contradiction of its neighbors and jousting with Japan over islands in the East China Sea. Not to mention the latest threatening antics from North Korea.
If things go sour, and there are many things that can go wrong, a clever candidate could rub a few words together and light a fire in the Democratic primaries against Clinton. …
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
** FROM THE NOTEBOOK: OBSERVATIONS ON JERRY BROWN’S PROP 30 VICTORY. … From my December 5th essay.
** OBAMA PRACTICES KABUKI WAR AT HOME WHILE MANAGING POTENTIAL WAR ABROAD. … From my December 3rd essay.
** WAR OF THE WORDS: A NEARLY FOUR DECADE VENDETTA AGAINST JERRY BROWN. … From my November 29th feature.
** “JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT…”: OBAMA PUSHES THE GEOPOLITICAL PIVOT AMIDST ANCIENT ENMITIES. … From my November 27th essay.
** JERRY BROWN RIDES A WAVE WITH NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS. … From my November 20th essay.
Skyfall, which, unusually, returned to the top of the domestic box office list in its fifth week of release, is now Sony’s biggest worldwide box office hit ever. The 50th anniversary Bond film doesn’t open in China — where key scenes were set in Shanghai and Macau — until January. That should put it over the top as the first billion dollar Bond film.
** SKYFALL IN PERSPECTIVE. … From my November 15th 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 $86 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $52 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 $28 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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