President Barack Obama presented the Commander-in-Chief trophy today to the Air Force Academy football team in the White House Rose Garden. Obama received an Air Force Falcons team jersey with his name and the number, 23, he wore on his Hawaii state high school basketball championship team.
** QUICK HITS. Concern about rising federal budget deficits, the slow-rolling economic recovery, and the future of social programs has, in a new Marist poll, resulted in sharply higher support for taxes on the rich and very strong opposition to reductions in Medicare and Medicaid. … I’m sure that’s exactly what Republicans had in mind in trotting out Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and his ballyhooed new fiscal program. … Senator John McCain said today he’s concerned about the “stalemate” in Libya and wants more air power to bring dictator Moammar Gaddafi down. … A decidedly quiet day in California politics, as anticipated, but California Democratic Party chairman John Burton put out a statement noting that the super-rich pay far less in taxes than they did 20 years ago.
** CONGRATS TO THE L.A. TIMES FOR ITS PULITZER PRIZE WINS. The Los Angeles Times won two Pulitzer Prizes today in journalism. The big win, for public service for exposing the massive scam in the little city of Bell in which public officials engaged in an incredible scheme of self-enrichment. And another for feature photography.
It’s a nice boost for the Times, which has been on a steep downward slide for more than a decade in terms of quality, yet is still probably the best daily newspaper in California. Once, however, it was a contender for the best newspaper in America.
I had actually not noticed that the Pulitzers were being announced today. I’m a judge of the national AltWeekly Awards, the national awards for weekly newspapers, but I generally look to journalism for news flow.
I have to confess, for example, that I’ve never read the New York Times columnist who won the Pulitzer for commentary, and whose name escapes me at the moment. And I’m not familiar with most of the winners. I was familiar, however, with the Wall Street Journal editorials attacking the Obama health care program, which won the Pulitzer for editorial writing.
In a curious move, considering that 2010 was a year of massive breaking news story, the Pulitzer organization did not select a winner for breaking news. Is that because alternative forms of media beat the conventional organs on those stories? Or was there some internal politics involved? Who can say?
In any event, the Bell story is a very big deal, and the Times deserves a great deal of credit for breaking it, explaining it, and pushing it.
** ANOTHER BIG NEW GRANT FOR A CALIFORNIA SOLAR PROJECT. Following on the heels of two announcements earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steve Chu joined Governor Jerry Brown on a media conference call today to announce the biggest loan guarantee yet from the Department of Energy for a renewable energy project.
The DOE is making a $2.1 billion loan guarantee for a new solar thermal electric power plant outside Blythe in the Southern California desert.
Uwe Schmidt of Solar Millennium joined Brown and Chu on the call to discuss the project, which will start as a 500-megawatt plant and grow into a 1000-megawatt plant. The groundbreaking is expected in late spring or early summer. Over a thousand construction jobs will be generated.
Schmidt noted that this is the first time that a solar plant is being built on the scale of the largest coal-fired plants.
“This is another sign that California is the center of solar,” declared Chu.
For his part, Brown noted that California had led the way in the past on renewable energy and would now clearly lead the way in the future.
The plant will provide power to Southern California Edison, helping it does its part to meet California’s requirement that 33% of the state’s electric power come from renewable resources by the end of 2020.
President Barack Obama takes questions from around the country on Wednesday in a town hall at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. The event will be netcast live on New West Notes.
** ASSESSING THE JERRY BROWN ASSESSMENTS (AND WHY HE WAS IN STEALTH MODE SO LONG). Jerry Brown is now 15 weeks into his new/renewed governorship. How were the assessments at his 100-day mark? And, oh yeah, why was he in stealth mode for so long, eschewing virtually all public appearances for months in favor of behind-the-scenes negotiations? …
Brown gets top marks from most for having eliminated half the state’s bulging $26 billion budget deficit, largely through steep budget cuts. And he gets widespread kudos for bringing a new spirit — hmm, that could be a slogan — of constant engagement with state legislators from both parties.
Brown’s predecessors weren’t exactly keen on hanging with the legislature. Republican legislators famously wore name tags to a meeting with Schwarzenegger a couple of years back. …
The reality is that Jerry Brown is his own chief of staff, his own chief strategist, his own communications director, his own media director, his own chief negotiator, etc. …
Some believe he’s trying to set up a contrast with Schwarzenegger, who traveled in motorcades and had a fairly large staff. And certainly there is an element of calculation to what Brown does. He is, after all, a politician.
But the deeper reality is that this is how he operates. At least since the first time he was governor.
After his father died in 1996, the California Democratic Party held a lengthy commemorative ceremony honoring the great Democrat at its April convention in Los Angeles. …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9:30 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. At 10:45 AM Pacific, President Barack Obama presents the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team. Both events will be netcast live 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.
Robots sent in to check buildings at Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant reported high levels of radiation, far too high for humans to enter, despite prior claims of progress. At the same time, criticism is growing in the Diet, the Japanese parliament, over the slow pace of the response to the crisis.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Another big week in president politics. Not so much in California politics.
The Republican presidential race is well underway, though it’s hard to credit much of it, with New York real estate mogul/”reality” TV star Donald Trump now leading in national polls and generally making an ass of himself with patently preposterous comments. The other candidates, only some of whom are more serious public figures than Trump, are presently struggling to emerge from his shadow.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, busy framing the choice between himself and the Republican right as one of reforming the social safety net and reviving the economy versus the pursuit of radical fiscal nostrums and more tax cuts for the rich, is moving around the country this week with a series of town halls in Virginia, Nevada, and and at Facebook headquarters in California. He’s also raising a great deal of money.
Speaking of California politics, it’s a slow week. Governor Jerry Brown seemed to make some progress last week in solving the other half of the state’s chronic budget deficit, though he hasn’t gotten his Republican legislative votes yet. As for the state legislature, it’s on its usual 10-day spring break.
Obama has his now customary big plate of geopolitical crises to manage this week, as well as all the domestic politics he’s doing. But first, a look at his block schedule for the week ahead.
On Monday, Obama will present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team at the White House. That goes to the winner amongst the service academies.
On Tuesday, Obama will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House, where he will be joined by Christian leaders from around the country. Later, Obama will hold a town hall in Northern Virginia to discuss his fiscal reform and economic competitiveness plans.
On Wednesday, Obama will travel to California to hold a town hall at Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto. In the evening, Obama will attend a DNC event and spend the night in San Francisco.
On Thursday, Obama will travel to Reno, Nevada to hold a town hall. Then he will travel to Los Angeles for more DNC events, spending the night in LA. On Friday, Obama will return to Washington.
Meanwhile, the Libyan War continues in its yo-yo fashion, pointing up the rebels’ complete dependence on NATO and NATO’s problematic efforts in the absence of the US taking the leading role.
Following events on Al Jazeera, Libyan rebels again advanced along the coastal highway as the weekend began, with Ajdabiya secured and, with the help of major air strikes from NATO, the rebels again threatened the strategic oil port of Brega, which has changed hands half a dozen times in the past six weeks. The rebels have new communications gear and body armor, reportedly supplied by the UK.
But bad weather and big sandstorms blocked the NATO air effort, allowing Gaddafi forces to counter-attack, driving the rebels all the way back to Brega and placing that seemingly secure city under siege. Only a change in the weather allowed NATO air strikes to foil Gaddafi’s re-taking of the city.
Without the US in the lead role, NATO is struggling to bring enough air power, delivered with precision, to bear against Gaddafi’s forces, who are making their units look like rebel units from high in the air. And some nations, such as Italy, participating in the no-fly zone won’t fire at targets on the ground. So Gaddafi’s siege of Misurata, the last major rebel-held city in the west of the country, where Human Rights Watch and others say that his forces are using banned cluster bomb munitions, continues, though Gaddafi and the United Nations today reached an agreement to allow safe passage for food, medicine, and civilians.
In Afghanistan, Taliban infiltrators struck over the weekend and today in the midst of NATO and Afghan security forces, killing more than a dozen soldiers. In the latest attack, a suicide bomber penetrated the Afghan Ministry of Defense in Kabul. The Taliban spring offensive is underway, and its message is that security gains are illusory.
Japan, of course, is still struggling to control its wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant. Despite the announcement of a new plan over the weekend, the situation remains very grave. In fact, the situation inside the reactors seems to have worsened. Now, according to robot probes, it is far too radioactive for any people to work around the reactors.
At least two people were killed and three others injured in a suicide attack inside the Afghan Ministry of Defense in the capital city of Kabul. Monday’s attack was the third major strike inside an Afghan security force compound in four days. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for all attacks.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Press Secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live on New West Notes.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, Obama presents the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team in the Rose Garden.
This award goes to the best service academy team. Navy won it during the first two years of Obama’s presidency.
The event will be netcast live on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 12:05 PM Pacific, Obama is interviewed in the Map Room by KCNC Denver, WRAL Raleigh, WFAA Dallas and WTHR Indianapolis.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
Clinton is back from major trips to Berlin, where she met for two days with NATO foreign ministers on the Libyan War, and Tokyo, where she supported the Japanese government in its attempts to recover from its earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power crises.
For his part, Biden meets with Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jacob Lew, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and senior advisors to discuss fiscal policy.
Then he meets with the leadership of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan. The new nation of Southern Sudan is about to form in the long deeply troubled area.
Obama is also monitoring other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab uprising, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: The time in Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time; the time in Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time; and the time in Afghanistan is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … ASSESSING THE JERRY BROWN ASSESSMENTS (AND WHY HE WAS IN STEALTH MODE SO LONG).
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
At 11 AM, he and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steve Chu hold a media conference call to discuss a major new renewable energy project in Southern California.
Brown continues working on the California state government’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
With half of the state’s budget deficit eliminated, but the other half stuck in impasse, the state Legislature is off on its 10-day spring break.
** MAD ABOUT MAD MEN: WILL IT MATCH WEST WING‘S MARK? Is it possible to be happy and angry at the same time? It must be, because I am. Happy that Mad Men is renewed for not one, but two more seasons, with another likely on tap. And angry that it won’t be back for nearly a year. March 2012 is a long time off. And unfortunately the terrific cast has been left in the lurch, not to mention all the other talented people who create Mad Men’s very distinctive world. …
So what was going on with Mad Men?
And how is it stacking up, at least at the moment, in its quest to match The West Wing by winning a record-tying fourth straight Emmy Award as best drama? …
A very big audience embraced The West Wing in its heyday because it presented a better version of what they hoped they would get with President Bill Clinton. Not that the results weren’t mostly good with Clinton, though the whole deregulationist thing has continued to reverberate. But the millennial audience mostly didn’t know that yet. It was more the atmospherics that were disappointing.
No, Mad Men matches these times much better than does West Wing, 2008′s Bartlet-like politics of hope notwithstanding. It’s just too bad that the mass audience eludes it. … From my April 14th essay.
** THE RETURN OF JERRY BROWN. His first three months of his third term as governor of California have been uncharacteristic for Jerry Brown. He’s been almost entirely behind the scenes. But now that his months of behind-the-scenes talks on solving the state’s chronic budget crisis have come up short, the Jerry Brown we’ve known is mostly back. He’s speaking out again.
Over the weekend, he told CBS in Los Angeles:
We are at a point of civil discord, and I would not minimize the risk to our country and to our state. It is not trivial. I’ve been around a long time, I’m a student of history, I’m a student of contemporary politics. We are facing what I would call a ‘regime crisis.’ The legitimacy of our very democratic institutions are in question.
What prompted that? Brown has solved half of the state’s $26 billion budget deficit, the half that has to do with cuts. But he hasn’t gotten Republican legislators to go along with extending some temporary taxes enacted in 2009 needed to avert even more draconian cuts in schools, higher education, and public safety, among other things. Bullied by ideologues, they are still stuck as the Party of No, something that Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, became all too well aware of. … From my April 11th column.
** LIBYAN WAR: NEW INTERNATIONAL “CONTACT GROUP” OFF TO A RUGGED START. … From my March 30th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S PARTY OF NO TAKES CENTER STAGE, OR DOES IT? > … From my March 26th feature.
** OBAMA’S DIFFIDENT WAY OF WAR. … From my March 21st feature.
** IS LIBYA A TURNING POINT ON HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTIONISM? … From my March 18th essay.
** ONE WORD: OBAMA’S NIGHTMARE SCENARIO, AND WHY IT HASN’T HAPPENED (YET). … From my March 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 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 three wars in the region, and the Arab uprising underway, 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 $107 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $73 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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