President Barack Obama, reacting very cautiously to the revolt and emerging civil war in Libya, is dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva, Switzerland for an international conference next week.
** QUICK HITS. In an appearance by President Barack Obama and a White House press briefing, the administration today managed to say remarkably little about the Libyan crisis. From a story standpoint, it’s bad, but it makes sense in that there a lot of Americans still in Libya and the country’s teetering dictator is quite capable of disrupting/destroying one of the world’s major oil supplies. … Obama is sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva next Monday to confer with other foreign ministers. Next Monday? Clearly, the US and other governments hope the situation resolves in the intervening five days. … In a deeply silly move, California Republican legislators are forming a caucus to oppose any tax extensions to resolve the state’s budget crisis, unless a tax cut measure is placed on the ballot, too. Since that would make the budget crisis worse rather than better, that’s, oh, I’m trying to think of something diplomatic here. … I know, let’s put a measure on the ballot to increase spending on popular programs. That makes exactly the same amount of sense. Which is to say, none at all. … Brown, incidentally, is not going to the Democratic Governors Association meeting in Washington this weekend, and will not be at the governors’ gala at the White House. He’s a little busy for that.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO FEED
In a rather hastily scheduled move, President Barack Obama will address the crisis in Libya at 2:15 PM Pacific. You can watch it live here on New West Notes. If you wish to mute the audio, click on the pause button. UPDATE: Obama will now speak at 2 PM Pacific.
** OBAMA’S DECIDEDLY MEASURED REMARKS ON LIBYA. Good afternoon, everybody. Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya. Over the last few days, my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.
First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. That is my highest priority. In Libya, we’ve urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support. Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that’s being done by our foreign service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world. They represent the very best of our country and its values.
Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach. These principles apply to the situation in Libya. As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.
The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.
The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.
In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus. Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.
This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations. North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.
I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.
Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.
This is not simply a concern of the United States. The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community. To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.
I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council. There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.
And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.
So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.
As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.” We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.
Thank you very much.
The Obama Administration has decided to drop legal defense of the anti-gay marriage Defense of Marriage Act.
** NEW POLL: AMERICA IS CALIFORNIA. The pattern all too familiar to those of us in California with regard to state budget woes is now apparent on a national basis.
That’s what a new Gallup Poll shows.
People don’t really want to choose any of the bad options before them.
But they want the problem solved, somehow.
Notably, Americans are very opposed to taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees, as is the hotly controversial proposal on the table in Wisconsin and is sometimes talked about in California.
As Wisconsin and numerous other states struggle to reduce untenable budget deficits, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that not one of three major fiscal strategies available to state lawmakers is very popular. The least objectionable to Americans is “reducing or eliminating certain state programs,” with about equal numbers in favor as opposed. A slight majority, 53%, opposes reducing pay and benefits for state workers, and a larger majority, 71%, opposes raising state taxes. …
Americans’ general opposition to these options comes despite the widespread belief that states are in fiscal trouble. About two-thirds of Americans (64%) perceive their own state is facing a budget crisis based on what they have read or heard, though 31% are unsure. Five percent say their state is not in crisis.
Additionally, the new poll finds Americans opposed to their own state adopting a deficit-reduction proposal, like the one that has triggered a legislative standoff in Wisconsin, that eliminates some of the collective bargaining rights of most public unions, including the teachers’ union. One-third of Americans say they would favor such a bill in their own state, while 61% would oppose it. …
As state budgets are hammered out across the country, leaders may find it more difficult to find solutions that are acceptable to rank-and-file Democrats than to Republicans. That’s because majorities of Democrats (approximately 6 in 10) oppose each of the three main strategies tested for reducing deficits. By contrast, more than three-fourths of Republicans (78%) oppose raising taxes, but majorities favor eliminating or reducing certain state programs (65%) and reducing worker pay and benefits (51%).
Independents show solid opposition to tax increases, but are about evenly divided in their reactions to reductions in state programs and worker pay. …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO FEED
White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing at 9:30 AM Pacific, live here on New West Notes. You can mute the sound by clicking on the pause button.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events.
Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live webcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
Crude oil prices are skyrocketing amidst the emerging civil war in Libya and reports that longtime dictator Colonel Gaddafi may sabotage the nation’s oil fields and pipelines.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney delivers a media briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
This event will be streamed live here on New West Notes.
You can mute the sound by clicking on the pause button.
At 10:15 AM Pacific, Obama visits the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesday, Maryland.
Obama will visit privately with troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden attends a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City and a fundraiser for New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
In other action, former White House of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel won a landslide election last night as mayor of Chicago. Emanuel won 55% of the vote in a multi-candidate field in which the runner-up garnered 20% of the vote.
A key question: Will the hilarious and sometimes obscene fake Rahm Emanuel Twitter feed continue? http://twitter.com/mayoremanuel
The legendarily profane operative-turned-mayor has offered a $5000 reward for the identity of the tweeter, who evidently knows a fair amount about him and his movements.
Now, back to far less amusing matters.
After taking his “Win the Future” theme of developing the innovation economy to the heartland yesterday in Ohio, Obama is keeping things under wraps today in and around the White House.
Former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, known as Rahmbo in Democratic political circles, last night won a landslide election as mayor of Chicago.
He’s clearly occupied by major geopolitical crises, notably the wave of revolt sweeping the Arab world.
The protests against a very defiant and bloodily retaliatory Libyan ruler Colonel Moammar Gaddafi have turned into a civil war. Hundreds are reportedly dead and it’s hard to follow the dynamics there.
Gaddafi is inveighing against the West and contradictorily claiming that Al Jazeera is behind all the unrest, which he alternates between saying it is largely illusory and fomented by Islamic fundamentalists.
Libya is the first major oil producer to be affected by the Arab revolt against long-time autocracies, and world oil prices have shot upwards to a two-year high.
Obama’s response to the Libyan crisis has been very muted. There are hundreds of Americans still in the country and they are having trouble getting out.
And of course there is the oil factor. Disruption of the Libyan oil supply would have an even bigger impact on oil prices than the unrest has already had. Destruction of oil facilities and supply, as Gaddafi has reportedly threatened, could drive oil prices through the roof, severely threatening the fragile economic recovery taking place around the world.
Libya supplies 10% of Europe’s oil, and a much smaller fraction of America’s But oil is a global market, and prices are not regionally based.
Saudi Arabia says it can pick up the slack even if Libya’s production is taken entirely off the market. But at what price?
Speaking of price, Saudi Arabia is the jackpot state in the wave of Arab revolt. It is completely undemocratic. Except a little at the very top, as an old joke goes.
Its eastern oil region, which is heavily Shiite, sits 15 miles away from protest-wracked Bahrain across the King Fahd Causeway.
Bahrain’s King Hamad, who backed off his crackdown after the personal intervention of Obama, has just released two dozen political prisoners in another gesture of good faith to protesters.
He’s in Riyadh today to, among other things, meet with Saudi King Abdullah, who has just returned from three months abroad tending to his bad back and other ailments.
Abdullah arrived in New York City on November 22nd for two complex back surgeries. The 85-year old monarch then recuperated into the new year at his Manhattan residence, then decamped for Morocco.
This is his first time back in the Kingdom since the Arab revolt began.
He decided to issue a decree increasing support for students, the unemployed, and others, to the tune of some $11 billion. Since Saudi Arabia is sitting on about a half trillion petrodollars, it can afford it. But he did not accede to demands for municipal elections.
Will this reform be enough to stave off real protest in Saudi Arabia?
If Saudi Arabia were to fall, the world as we know it would change very dramatically.
In addition, Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, as well as the still unfolding Wikileaks crisis.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
He’s working on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
His plan received a boost last Friday when budget committees in both the state Senate and Assembly approved his budget proposal, with a few changes.
Now the Legislature’s budget conference committee is beginning work today on working out differences between the budget proposals.
I believe this is the earliest date in California history that the conference committee has begun to function.
Of course, it has to be, as Brown has set an only slightly flexible deadline of March 10th for legislative action to close on a budget deal and place tax extensions on a June special election ballot.
** IS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION STILL WAY BEHIND THE CURVE ON EGYPT? President Barack Obama’s comeback since the November elections has been very impressive professionally, if not always politically. What has not been at all impressive is how far behind the curve his administration has been on Egypt, a distressing development over the past few weeks that reached a nadir of sorts on Thursday with an epic level of confusion.
There are clear limits to American power. The failure of neoconservative adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan make that obvious. But there should not be many limits to American knowledge. Especially given the limits to American power. …
The real power games have only just begun. And, this administration — stunningly, given Obama’s choice of Cairo for his great address to the Muslim world in 2009 — has been behind the curve repeatedly throughout the crisis thus far. … From my February 11th essay.
** JERRY BROWN 2.0: HOW’S IT GOING? So how’s Jerry Brown 2.0 going? The new/renewed governor of California won a landslide victory over billionaire Meg Whitman 90 days ago, took over from Arnold Schwarzenegger four weeks ago, and has worked on laying out an austerity-with-revenues budget plan and slowly building his administration ever since.
It’s going, well, well enough. Well enough to begin to straighten out the state’s chronic budget crisis in the first half of this year? We’ll see. … From my January 31st feature.
** OBAMA AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JFK INAUGURAL 50 YEARS ON. … From my January 22nd essay.
** THE JERRY BROWN ERA UNFOLDS (AGAIN). … From my January 11th feature.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd 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.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned yesterday that “the Middle East may shatter into pieces” with terrorist groups grabbing the reins of power.
** 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 $98 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $64 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.