Speaking at today’s White House press conference on the Gulf oil disaster, President Barack Obama declared that “BP is responsible for this horrific disaster” and that his administration is in charge of the response.
** QUICK HITS. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to repeal the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident of House passage, perhaps tonight. … A new survey by Public Policy Polling has Jerry Brown with a big lead over Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner in the California governor’s race, 48-36 over Whitman and 48-32 over Poizner. Both Whitman and Poizner have massive deficits in favorable vs. unfavorable ratings. … President Barack Obama is getting mixed reviews for his press conference today on the Gulf oil disaster. Tomorrow’s appearance in the Gulf Coast region will tell more of the tale for Obama, who also needs BP’s “Top Kill” injection of muddy material into the blown-out well a mile beneath the ocean’s surface to work. After positive signs early today, the procedure has been suspended for assessment, with likely restart late tonight.
** JERRY-RIGGING. Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic candidate for governor of California who effectively won the June primary by clearing the Democratic field last fall, has nearly $21 million in his campaign warchest.
Brown raised close to $7 million in the last two months.
He spent about a quarter of a million during that period while the two Republicans vying for the opportunity, as it were, to run against him spent tens of millions of dollars attacking each other and establishing their right-wing bona fides.
** NEW NATIONAL POLL: GULF OIL DISASTER DRIVES SHARP CHANGE IN ATTITUDES ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION VS. ENERGY PRODUCTION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. As you might suppose, the Gulf oil disaster — now the biggest oil spill in American history, eclipsing even the infamous Exxon Valdez — has more than reversed a previously growing trend of acceptance of energy production and economic development at all costs.
The new Gallup Poll shows a big reversal in national attitudes since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform on April 20th.
Between March and today, with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill intervening, Americans’ preferences for prioritizing between environmental protection and energy production have shifted from a somewhat pro-energy stance to an even stronger pro-environment stance.
The new results are based on a May 24-25 USA Today/Gallup poll. In March, by 50% to 43%, Americans said it was more important to develop U.S. energy supplies than to protect the environment, continuing a trend in the direction of energy production seen since 2007. Now, the majority favor environmental protection, by 55% to 39% — the second-largest percentage (behind the 58% in 2007) favoring the environment in the 10-year history of the question.
Democrats had already put more emphasis on environmental protection than on energy production in March, but that position has gained strength among Democrats today. Independents’ views have flipped from a majority pro-energy stance in March to a majority pro-environment one today. In contrast, Republicans’ opinions have not changed since the oil spill occurred; they continue to prioritize energy production over environmental protection by a 2-to-1 margin.
Note that the shift is entirely amongst independents and Democrats. The Republican Party continues to hug the far right rail on the “Drill, baby, drill” issue.
What does this mean, incidentally, in the California governor’s race?
Well, Democrat Jerry Brown has been a consistent, decades-long opponent of new offshore oil drilling. He fought to create the California Coastal Commission, a unique governmental body that balances legitimate economic development needs with the imperative to protect the globally unique resource that is California’s coast.
In contrast, both Republicans vying for the party nomination to attempt to succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — billionaire Meg Whitman and super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner — have backed new offshore oil drilling moves.
Whitman was a staunch backer of new offshore oil drilling as national co-chair of the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008, her only major role in public affairs prior to starting her run for the governorship. She fully supported Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s famed chant: “Drill, baby, drill!”
Whitman also backed offshore oil drilling in her gubernatorial campaign, citing the wonders of new drilling technology. More recently, though, she says she is against it.
Whitman and Poizner both want to do away with California’s landmark climate change program, a signature achievement of the Schwarzenegger years. (Whitman had said that she wanted a one-year suspension; more recently, she’s said she wants to do away with it altogether.) In contrast, Brown has aggressively defended the program in court as attorney general.
Americans’ shift toward a more pro-environment point of view is also evident in a separate trade-off question, which pits environmental protection against economic growth. After the oil spill, the balance of opinion tips toward the environment by seven points, 50% to 43%. Just over two months ago, Americans favored economic growth by a 15-point margin, 53% to 38%.
The recent oil spill has spurred a significant shift in Americans’ environmental attitudes. For the last few years, Americans’ environmental concerns declined as the public placed a higher priority on pocketbook concerns like the economy and energy, likely due to the poor U.S. economy. However, in just two months’ time, that trend has reversed, and the pro-environment position has regained the strength it showed for most of the last decade.
President Barack Obama spoke yesterday about how clean energy investments can diminish the environmental risks of continued use of fossil fuels and provide new jobs and opportunities after touring the Solyndra solar panel plant in Fremont, California.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Chicago today.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then welcomed the NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion Duke Blue Devils to the White House to honor their 2009-2010 season with a ceremony in the Rose Garden.
Following that, Obama and Biden tok a photo with former President Bill Clinton and the U.S. World Cup Soccer Team on the North Portico. The World Cup takes place next month in South Africa.
At 8:25 AM Pacific, Obama has lunch with President Clinton in the Private Dining Room.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Biden meets with Clinton in the Roosevelt Room.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden deliver remarks, principally on the Gulf oil disaster, and Obama takes questions from the press in the East Room.
After flying to with his family tonight to Chicago, where he will spend the bulk of Memorial Day weekend, Obama will travel to the Gulf Coast tomorrow to deal with the Gulf oil disaster.
Today’s reports are that BP was wrong in its earlier estimates and that this disaster has already surpassed that of the infamous Exxon Valdez as the biggest oil spill in American history.
Obama today fired Minerals Management Service director Ellen Birnbaum, whose agency was responsible for regulating the exploded Deepwater Horizon and other offshore oil drilling platforms.
The latest attempt by BP to stanch the undersea flow of oil, which consists of injecting heavy mud into the ruptured well and which began yesterday, appears to have temporarily stopped most if not all of the oil flow. But that’s only a very preliminary assessment.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama receives a briefing in the White House Situation Room on the 2010 hurricane season forecast and an overview of the Federal government’s national hurricane preparedness.
Experts are saying that, after a spell of relatively mild hurricanes, upcoming hurricane seasons will be much more violent.
At 12:10 PM Pacific, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia in the Oval Office.
At 1:10 PM Pacific, Obama, Biden, and First Lady Michelle Obama host a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month in the East Room.
At 3:15 PM Pacific, the Obama family departs the White House on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 4 PM Pacific, the Obamas depart Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Chicago.
At 5:15 PM Pacific, the Obamas arrive in Chicago.
This will be the first extended trip that Obama has made to Chicago since becoming president. And it will be interrupted tomorrow when he goes to the Gulf Coast to oversee efforts to stop the ongoing offshore oil disaster there.
BP is still trying the “top kill” method it began yesterday to try to stop the Gulf oil spill by plugging it with heavy mud. Meanwhile, the head of the federal agency overseeing offshore oil drilling was fired today. This is now the worst oil spill in American history.
On behalf of the Obama Administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will today, in an address at the Brookings Institution, unveil a new national security strategy that focuses on homegrown extremists and steps away from the Bush/Cheney Administration’s era’s “war on terror” formulation.
National Security Advisor James Jones, the retired Marine general who commanded NATO, will also weigh in on the strategy which he and his office played the lead role in devising.
As Obama himself did in his West Point commencement speech last weekend, the new strategic document will emphasize the pairing of military superiority with very active diplomacy, development assistance, and sophisticated intelligence.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
The governance situation in Iraq remains unresolved since the March 7th national parliamentary elections.
FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
At 11 AM, Schwarzenegger will join director Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer in Universal City to deliver remarks at the opening of New York Street, 13 city blocks of newly created filming locations on four acres of historic studio lot, a part of the largest construction project in Universal’s history.
… THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. … From my March 2nd column.
Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate in fall 2008, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. You can listen to my video webchat last spring with Schwarzenegger here.
** THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: BILLIONAIRE MEG WHITMAN BATTLES BACK IN THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. After finally losing nearly all her lead last week in the Republican primary to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California, billionaire Meg Whitman is battling back against super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, whom she led a few months ago by a whopping 50 points. She has a lead again, but it’s only about a fifth what it was, and less than her campaign claims. With little more than two weeks to go till the primary, with over a third of the voters still undecided, she’s in a precarious position.
Before delving again into the particulars of this race, let’s pause a moment in wonderment at this spectacle before us. (And yes, this weekend is the 30th anniversary of the launch of a little movie called The Empire Strikes Back.)
Whitman is really showing us the possible future of oligarchic politics if she survives this far more difficult than expected primary and then manages to pull out a victory against Jerry Brown, who’s barely spent a dime so far, in the fall. It’s a possible future of unlimited spending and unlimited spin. Which is also, paradoxically, the problem with her candidacy. … From my May 22nd column.
** AFTER THE AFGHAN SUMMIT: FIVE KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OBAMA’S PROBLEMATIC PLANS. Now that the pomp and circumstance of last week’s Washington summit between the Obama Administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has faded, what is the state of things?
Not very good. Really, not very good at all.
With the much telegraphed U.S., NATO, and Afghan offensive in Kandahar Province — heartland of the Taliban since the movement’s mid-1990s inception in the midst of Afghanistan’s lengthy post-Soviet chaos — on tap for June, the Taliban aren’t exactly cowering in their caves waiting to lose. In fact, they say they’re launching their own offensive.
A sad milestone was reached on Tuesday. With a morning suicide attack against a U.S. military convoy in Kabul, the 1000th American has been killed in action in Afghanistan. … From my May 19th column.
** MEG WHITMAN’S WILD WEEK THAT WAS. … From my May 15th column.
** IRON MAN‘S POST-MODERN HOWARD HUGHES IS BACK AND CONFUSED. … From my May 13th essay.
** MEG WHITMAN’S TITANIC CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my May 7th column.
** “GOLDMEG SACHS WHITMAN” ROILS THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. … From my May 3rd column.
** IS OBAMA FINALLY PIVOTING TO THE ECONOMY? … From my April 29th column.
** PUNDITS, BLOGGERS, ACTIVIST LEADERS THINKING OF RUNNING FOR HIGH OFFICE? THINK AGAIN. … From my April 27th column.
** CALIFORNIA STORY: BROWN, BOXER, AND (UN)CONVENTION(AL) POLITICS. … From my April 21st essay.
** JERRY BROWN’S LONG AND WINDING ROAD. … From my April 15th column.
** HOW JERRY BROWN CLEARED THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my December 9th, 2009 column.
** 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 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, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT 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 AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. 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.
** 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 $74 per barrel.
This is up about $40 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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