Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who headlined the California Republican Party convention last month, surprised many by pulling out of the Republican presidential race today.
** QUICK HITS. House Speaker John Boehner says he’ll look at the massive federal subsidies to oil companies as part of a federal budget solution. But he insisted that President Barack Obama is to blame for increased gasoline prices. Obviously he is not one of my readers, or someone who pays any attention to geopolitics, or, apparently, the news in general. … Standard & Poor’s rating service maintained its negative outlook on California state government. While citing many favorable factors, it focused on one big negative: The state’s dysfunctional Capitol scene. …
** CALIFORNIA 2011: MORE ON THE USC DORNSIFE/L.A. TIMES POLL. A very interesting media conference call late morning today on the new poll sponsored by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times.
This, just to get things out of the way, is the latest version of what used to the LA Times Poll. Except it’s principally a USC poll in partnership with the LA Times, which dropped its poll a few years ago as the newspaper downsized. Dornsife refers to the contributors whose recent gift to USC surpassed that of George Lucas, David and Dana Dornsife, who contributed $200 million to the university.
So, a conference call with the USC poll director, Dan Schnur, who is also the director of the USC Unruh Institute of Politics and former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, and reps from the bipartisan polling team, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint.
They ran through some of the highlights, that Governor Jerry Brown’s compromise budget plan, including tax extensions is favored, 52% to 38%. And that support for tax extensions is even greater, 63%, when it’s clear that it’s needed to protect K-12 education funding.
“Californians are clearly buying what Jerry Brown is selling,” Schnur said. “Not only do they support a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to balance the budget, but they are adamant about having the opportunity to vote on it themselves. Their continued support for a special election is a strong signal that the governor is correct to keep his promise to let the voters make the final decision.”
While some Brown allies want to simply enact the tax extensions and never have a vote to approve or ratify the decision, 53% of voters look very much askance on that notion.
Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg noted how dour the state’s mood remains, with just 19% believing California is moving in the right direction.
Brown himself has a 44% job approval rating, with 33% disapproving. He has a high “don’t know” factor because, as I’ve been pointing out right along, he’s been more low profile than his predecessors.
Greenberg, who was Bill Clinton’s pollster when he was first elected president, also emphasized how much support for reining in the public pension system has grown. 70% want a cap on pensions for future and current employees. 68% want employees to contribute more money to the system. And 52% want the retirement age raised.
During the conference call, the California Republican Party sent out a release attacking the poll, calling it “a trial lawyer’s dream” supposedly systematically leading respondents to the conclusion that tax extensions “are the only ‘reasonable’ solution to California’s budget crisis.”
Bear in mind, of course, that Republicans have presented no alternatives. And that the Republican Party and the Meg Whitman campaign launched a very similar attack against the USC/LA Times poll during the fall campaign when it found a significant lead for Brown over Whitman. Brown won in a landslide.
Also during the call, a conservative blogger, Joel Fox, who fronted for a massive independent expenditure attack against Brown last year in which he refused to divulge contributors, and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters both raised similar questions undermining the poll’s apparent finding of support for tax extensions.
Schnur pointed that support for the alternative to tax extensions, an all-cuts budget, has plummeted since the last poll taken in mid-November. In the mid-November version of the poll, 44% of voters favored an all-cuts solution to the state budget crisis. In this poll, support for that approach has plummeted to 33%. And it spirals further downward to 25% when voters learn that an all-cuts budget means cuts to K-12 education.
** HALEY BARBOUR SAYS NO TO PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the former Republican national chairman and toast of many a GOP insider who had expected him to run, announced today that he will not run for president in 2012.
Barbour was the keynote speaker at last month’s California Republican Party convention. He languished in national polls at 2% or so, but had been expected to be a powerful fundraiser.
He’d gotten a lot of credit for Republican gains last year in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which in a number of respects picked up the slack left by a bad Republican National Committee operation. But he has an extensive background as a super-lobbyist, as I’ve pointed out, and that would have been a big negative had he ever gotten to the general election.
Plus, I didn’t see the very white governor of a Deep South Confederate state running well against the first black POTUS.
“I will not be a candidate for president next year,” Barbour, a Republican, said in a statement. “This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.”
Barbour said he would continue serving as governor and as chairman of the Republican Governors Association working to “elect a new Republican president in 2012.”
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9:30 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. The event 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 netcasts 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.
April 26th is the 25th anniversary of the great Soviet nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Many questions remain about the current crisis of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A big week in presidential politics, with a host of crises and the Republican presidential race slowly ramping up toward its first debate next week in South Carolina. And possibly a big week in California politics, with the Legislature back from a 10-day spring break and Governor Jerry Brown continuing his push to solve the other half of the state’s big budget deficit.
First a look at President Barack Obama’s block schedule for the week.
On Monday, the Obamas host the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, featuring live music, sports courts, cooking stations, storytelling and, of course, Easter egg rolling. Obama will also meet with his national security team for his monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Obama will welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates to the White House. The UAE is playing an increasing role in global affairs, participating in the Libyan War, working on the negotiated departure of Yemen’s embattled president, and hosting the first international agency to be headquartered in the Arab world, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
On Wednesday, the Obamas will travel to Chicago to tape an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Obama will then travel to New York City to deliver remarks at two DNC fundraisers.
On Thursday, Obama will welcome Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli to the White House. And on Friday, Obama will welcome Auburn University’s football team to the White House to honor the team’s 2010 BCS National Championship. Then the Obamas will travel to Cape Canaveral, Florida to view the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, badly wounded in an assassination attempt, will be on hand Friday to watch her husband, Navy Captain Mark Kelly, pilot the Endeavour into space for its final mission. Following its retirement, Endeavour will be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. (I understand there’s also some royal wedding earlier that day.)
Obama will then travel to Miami to deliver the commencement address at Miami Dade College.
On Saturday, the Obamas will attend the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Obama must deal with the latest Wikileaks info-dump, this on Guantanamo Bay. It looks like Gitmo has been, not surprisingly, poorly run from the outset, with many, though not most, held there having little if any real connection with jihadism.
In the Libyan War, rebel forces claim again to have taken the long embattled city of Misurata, Libya’s third largest and their only toehold in the western part of the country. NATO air strikes, and the introduction of US Predator drones to the conflict, have helped the rebels to drive Libyan Army forces away from the city center.
The Gaddafi regime is saying that army units will withdraw, but tribal forces still allied with Gaddafi are likely to enter the fray. If so, they will be more difficult to distinguish from the civilian population. However, despite major gains, Al Jazeera is reporting that the rebels have not yet taken the city.
Meanwhile, a NATO air strike hit Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli early today. Gaddafi has not yet surfaced publicly in the strike’s aftermath.
In Ajdabiya, which changed hands seven times before finally being secured by rebel forces with the help of increased NATO air strikes, the opposition on Saturday named the main city square after Tim Hetherington, the Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker and photojournalist who was killed on Wednesday in Misurata. Hetherington had chronicled much of the fighting in and around Ajdabiya. His death may not have been in vain, as it may have spurred NATO to greater efforts in Misurata.
Senator John McCain spent Friday in Benghazi, the highest ranking American official to visit war-torn Libya, and after a day of meetings called for recognition of the rebel council as Libya’s legitimate government, along with increased military support for the rebel forces, but eschewed the use of US or other Western ground troops.
In Syria, massive demonstrations in the past few days have resulted in more than a hundred deaths at the hands of Syrian security forces. But the protesters are not backing down.
Big demonstrations continue also in Yemen, where longtime American ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh, having run through a variety of scenarios, is under relentless pressure to step down both within and without from Gulf Arab states. In fact, he agreed over the weekend to hand power to his deputy in 30 days, once an agreement was signed, and have elections 30 days after that, so long as he and his family are free from any prosecution.
But, while opposition parties accepted the terms brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, other protesters in the streets are not. They want Saleh gone now.
In Afghanistan, there was a mass prison break in Kandahar early this morning engineered by the Taliban. Nearly 500 prisoners escaped, many of them Taliban small unit commanders and cadre. Somehow, major tunneling activity went unnoticed for weeks.
While these dramatic developments play out, another very significant development has occurred off-stage, largely unnoticed.
The Arab League was to hold its annual summit next month in Baghdad. But the Gulf Cooperation Council (the six mostly wealthy Gulf Arab states) declared their opposition to the event taking place in Iraq due to the Iraqi government’s protest of the ongoing crackdown against the majority Sunni population in GCC member state Bahrain.
Saudi troops are in Bahrain, as you know, and the regime has cracked down brutally against protesters there, ending what had been truly massive demonstrations. Now they are quietly rounding up opposition leaders.
Will this week see a breakthrough in California’s perennial budget impasse?
Jerry Brown was a hit on Friday at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s 8th Annual CEO Business Climate Summit in San Jose, garnering praise for his performance and continued support on California’s chronic budget crisis. The day before, he appeared in a Republican assembly district at a high school with the local state assemblyman where they heard that if there are no tax extensions the high school the legislator attended will be decimated.
With half of the state’s budget deficit eliminated, but the other half stuck in impasse, the state Legislature is back its 10-day spring break.
Brown’s cause is buoyed by a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll showing strong support for his plan, including the tax extensions, very strong support for protecting K-12 education from any future cuts, a steady job approval of 44%, and big support for capping and limiting public pensions as well as state spending limits.
At the end of the week, Brown and other Democratic leaders will be at the annual California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento.
Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli was hit hard this morning by a NATO air strike. There is no word that he was killed, but he has not surfaced to make a statement since.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
The Obama family then attended the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn, where Obama delivered remarks.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 11:35 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Attorney General Eric Holder in the Oval Office.
Obama is monitoring several 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 … HAS CALIFORNIA’S REFORM MOMENT ARRIVED?
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown continues working on the California state government’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
** THE NON-IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY: OBAMA AND LIBYA. Newscaster: The failure of today’s pre-dawn Special Forces raid in Tripoli to catch or dispatch Moammar Gaddafi leaves the Obama Administration with a dwindling set of options on Day 32 of the Libyan War. The wily colonel had already moved from his Bab al-Azizia compound to an alternate headquarters, leaving the assault force of Navy Seals and Army Rangers little choice but to fight their way out of a trap. The Pentagon has not released casualty figures. The CIA is not commenting on the misfiring mission.
More than a month of round-the-clock air strikes and Tomahawk missile attacks have forced Gaddafi forces back from the rebel-held eastern part of Libya but have failed either to relieve the dictator’s siege of Misurata in the west or to loosen his grip on the capital. Widespread civilian casualties from the increased allied aerial bombardment have stiffened the resolve of the colonel’s supporters and spurred anti-American sentiment.
Now America’s hopes for victory turn on the amphibious units on the ships offshore, where heroic young U.S. Marines await the chance to perform their generation’s version of the second line of their famous anthem, ‘From the halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli …’
Nothing at all like this has happened, of course, though many imagined that something much like it would. … From my April 21st essay.
** 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? …
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. … … From my April 18th feature.
** MAD ABOUT MAD MEN: WILL IT MATCH WEST WING‘S MARK? … From my April 14th essay.
** THE RETURN OF JERRY BROWN. … 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.
** 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 $111 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $77 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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