Speaking today in San Salvador, capital of El Salvador, President Barack Obama said that the U.S. will soon hand off leadership of the alliance effort in Libya to a new group.
** QUICK HITS. While touring Latin America today, President Barack Obama has been in the midst of complex negotiations with international leaders about the shape of the leadership in the new Libyan War. He doesn’t want the US in the lead, and several leaders do not want NATO in the lead. The emerging solution? A steering committee of Western and Arab foreign ministers guiding a NATO operational infrastructure. … Just as the shape of the things to come in the Libyan War has been in play today, so too has been the shape of things to come in California’s chronic budget crisis. One way or the other, Governor Jerry Brown is determined that there will be a public vote this year on revenues to balance the big budget cuts he’s already pushed through the Legislature. Brown is pushing hard, playing with a number of scenarios and interrelated factors. It’s premature to say right now which will emerge. But something will.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA’S PARTY OF NO TAKES CENTER STAGE, OR DOES IT?
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 1:55 PM Pacific, President Barack Obama appears in a joint news conference with Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes at the National Palace in San Salvador, El Salvador. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
** 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.
Japanese officials late Tuesday finally got power lines attached to all six reactors at a badly damaged nuclear power plant. Now they have to get them to work in order to stave off more damage.
** NEW POLL: NATIONAL HEALTH CARE REFORM AT 1 — IT’S A WASH. Was it worth all that time and effort to pass the national health care reform law? I’m no expert on the policy, but from a political standpoint, it doesn’t look like it. At least, not yet. Still.
A new Gallup Poll on the first anniversary of the big program’s enactment yields a muddle.
The good news for President Barack Obama is … it’s not a real negative.
Gee, that’s great.
One year after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, Americans are divided on its passage, with 46% saying it was a good thing and 44% saying it was a bad thing. Most Americans are skeptical that the law will improve medical care in the U.S. or their own personal medical care. …
The current level of support for the bill, based on a Gallup poll conducted March 18-19, generally mirrors what Gallup found in polling conducted a year ago, just before President Obama signed the bill into law. At that point, in response to a slightly different question, 49% said the law was a good thing, while 40% said it was a bad thing. Other updates asked over the last year show a similar divide.
More Americans See the Law Making Things “Worse” Rather Than “Better”
Well less than half of Americans believe the law will make medical care better either for the United States as a whole, or for them personally. In both regards, more believe the law will make things worse rather than better.
Opinions on the impact of the healthcare law on medical care in the U.S. are divided in similar fashion to Americans’ overall reactions to the bill: 39% say it will improve medical care in the United States, while 44% say it will make it worse. Small percentages say the law won’t change anything or offer no opinion. These responses are roughly similar to attitudes seen in July 2009, as the outlines of the law were just coming into place. …
Politics Shapes Views of Healthcare Law
Democrats and Republicans have totally different views of the healthcare law, as has consistently been the case since Gallup began measuring attitudes toward it. The law was proposed by a Democratic president, and passed by a Democratic-controlled House and Senate over the vehement objections of most Republicans in Congress. Republicans have also continued to criticize the bill since its passage, and Republican leaders in Congress are now pursuing efforts to prevent many of the bill’s provisions from taking effect.
Almost 8 in 10 Democrats say the law’s passage was a good thing, while more than 7 in 10 Republicans say its passage was a bad thing. Independents tilt toward saying passage was a bad thing. Reactions to the impact of the law on medical care in the U.S. are similarly divided. …
** NEW CALIFORNIA POLL: JERRY BROWN APPROVED BY MORE THAN 2 TO 1. Governor Jerry Brown has a good poll today in the form of the venerable Field Poll.
Brown’s job approval is at 48%, with disapproval only 21%. Leaving a whopping 31% unsure.
These numbers are better than earlier numbers from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
Betters news comes for Brown in the fact that his ratings are signficantly higher among voters 50 and up, the most likely voters in any election, and especially in a special election.
Voters hold a very favorable view of how Jerry Brown is performing as governor. A Field Poll
survey completed last week shows by a greater than two to one margin (48% to 21%) voters
approve of Brown’s performance as governor. Another 31% have no opinion.
By contrast, just 16% of voters approve of the job that the state legislature is doing, while 70%
Brown, who was been in office just two months but is beginning what is now his third term, has
struck an initially positive chord with voters.
About half of the statewide electorate (48%) approve of the job that Brown is doing since he took
office in early January. Fewer than half this proportion (21%) disapprove, while about one in three
(31%) have not yet formed an opinion.
Democratic voters hold Brown in very high regard, approving of his performance by a 67% to 10%
margin. Republicans are more negative than positive (25% approve and 35% disapprove) in their
evaluations of Brown. A relatively large proportion (40%) do not offer an opinion at this time.
Non-partisans divide two to one on the favorable side (45% to 23%), with 32% having no opinion.
While Brown is positively regarded across all age groups, voters age 50 or older, many of whom
were of voting age during Brown a favorable assessment. …
The fighting continues in Libya.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Chile and El Salvador.
At 5 AM Pacific, the Obama family departed Santiago, Chile on Air Force One en route to San Salvador, El Salvador.
The time in El Salvador is one hour ahead of Pacific time.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, the Obamas arrive in San Salvador, El Salvador.
El Salvador is an important symbolic stop on the Obamas’ trip to Latin America. This small country in Central America was the site of a major flash point of the Cold War, with the US backing a right-wing regime in a nasty guerilla war against Marxist rebels. It’s a lovely little country. I recommend the Camino Real in San Salvador.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an arrival ceremony at the National Palace in San Salvador.
At 12:50 PM Pacific, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes in the National Palace.
At 1:20 PM Pacific, Obama holds an expanded bilateral meeting with President Funes in the National Palace.
At 1:55 PM Pacific, Obama and President Funes hold a joint press conference in the National Palace.
This event will be netcast live on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 7:10 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend an official dinner hosted by President Funes at the National Palace.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden is holding down the fort in Washington, where he held a breakfast meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Naval Observatory.
Obama’s big trip to Latin America is playing as a rather curious sideshow with the advent of the Libyan War.
His major definitional speech yesterday in Santiago, Chile on relations with Latin America, was all but ignored. In fact, I couldn’t find video footage of it on the White House site to present to you, so it’s not clear how seriously it’s taken by the White House itself.
Meanwhile, the fighting in Libya, which is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, continues. There was a third night of targeted cruise missile strikes and aircraft sorties by alliance forces.
A U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter went down over Libya, reportedly due to mechanical failure. Both aviators ejected and were rescued, one by Libyan rebels, the other by the U.S. Navy.
On the ground there appears to be a stalemate between Gaddafi forces and the rebels. Gaddafi forces are shelling several rebel positions.
Will alliance air power take out the artillery? That seems unclear.
Also unclear is the ongoing structure of alliance forces. The Obama Administration is anxious to hand off leadership of the mission to others. The early phases were necessarily reliant on US expertise in disrupting and destroying the Libyan government’s fairly sophisticated command and control and anti-air systems.
Now that task is essentially accomplished. But the leadership structure going forward is unsettled.
Turkey is blocking the consensus needed to make this a NATO mission, and the Arab states aren’t all that thrilled to be participating under the NATO flag.
But key European countries like Italy balk at the other obvious alternative, moving forward under some sort of joint French and British command.
Four New York Times journalists held captive for six days in Libya by Gaddafi forces have been released after the intercession of Turkey.
It may be that most of the countries in the alliance would prefer American leadership to the alternatives.
Meanwhile, the government of longtime US ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen continues to teeter with more key defections from his longstanding rule. He promised today to step down at the end ofe year. But that is unlikely to satisfy the opposition.
In Japan, officials have finally managed to get new power lines hooked up to six heavily damaged and some cases partially melted down nuclear reactors. Now if only they can the power lines to work.
Obama is also monitoring a host of other geopolitical crises, almost all of them related to the Arab revolt or AfPak and Iraq.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown, of course, is working on the state’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
Last night, he addressed the dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel of the annual labor legislative conference of the California Labor Federation and the State Building Trades Council. Before he spoke, state Labor Fed chief Art Pulaski and others handed out awards to the most effective local labor councils in last year’s elections.
Following Pulaski’s introduction of him as “the most honest and straightforward politician” he’s known, Brown was in strong form.
He promised not to attack legislative Republicans, with whom he’s still negotiating, but got a few zingers in nonetheless, getting the crowd of 800 roaring in the process.
“If you’re not going to vote to extend taxes, you’re not going to vote to cut, you’re not going to vote to do anything to redevelopment, so, what the hell are you going to do?” he said. “By the way, if you’re not going to do anything, why do you take a pay check?”
I told Brown last year that he was likely to find Republican legislators just as recalcitrant as Arnold Schwarzenegger did, and that the only advantage he had — in addition to his sparkling personality, of course — is that the situation is even more glaringly obvious now than it was in the past.
I’ll have a lot more on all this in the upcoming feature.
** OBAMA’S DIFFIDENT WAY OF WAR. Barack Obama has suddenly sidled his way into a third war in the Muslim world, his first on his own. How has he gone about it? Why Libya and not somewhere else? And how does it end?
How has Obama gone about it? In a remarkably diffident manner. Never before has an American president embarked on a war with such reserve. And I can’t recall one who went to war while on tour in an entirely different part of the world. …
Is oil a fundamental factor here? Of course. Though much more for Europe, which is pretty reliant on Libyan oil, than for America, which is not.
But oil is a global market, and the chaos in Libya affects the price, which in turn affects the economic recovery, especially if the geopolitical risk premium continues.
Of course, there would also not be an intervention if Gaddafi weren’t gunning down his people in very large numbers.
They’ve risen up against him, just as they’ve risen up against other despots across the Arab world.
The Arab revolt is in the post-romance phase, and had been heading into the bummer phase. That is to say, after the early phase in which we believe that revolutions are effected simply by virtue of people rising up through the magic of social media. … From my March 21st feature.
** IS LIBYA A TURNING POINT ON HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTIONISM? Longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s bloodcurdling speech yesterday promising an imminent massacre of his opponents in rebel-held Benghazi may prove to be one of the classic political backfires. After he made it, the UN Security Council narrowly approved an unprecedented multilateral military intervention in Libya, what may turn out to be a landmark decision. … From my March 18th essay.
** ONE WORD: OBAMA’S NIGHTMARE SCENARIO, AND WHY IT HASN’T HAPPENED (YET). … From my March 15th essay.
** WILL JERRY BROWN PULL IT OFF? … From my March 7th essay.
** A WELCOME BLAST FROM THE NEW DOCTOR WHO. … From my February 28th essay..
** IF OBAMA LOSES, IT WON’T BE BECAUSE “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.” From my February 24th feature.
** 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 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 $104 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $70 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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