Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, speaking today in Denmark, lashed out at NATO asking who gave it the right to try to eliminate Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
** QUICK HITS. Any prospects for another UN Security Council resolution authorizing any ground troops in Libya disappeared today with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s attack on NATO for seemingly targeting Moammar Gaddafi. … Yesterday Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour surprised many by ending his Republican presidential candidacy just a week before it looked set to formally kick off. Today Congressman Ron Paul surprised few by formally announcing an exploratory committee to again pursue the Republican presidential nomination. The libertarian fave does very well in straw polls, not so well in elections. … As attempts continued to halt the seeming impasse in California’s chronic budget crisis, Governor Jerry Brown ordered a halt to all but essential travel by state employees, requiring all out-of-state travel to be approved by the Governor’s Office.
** HAS CALIFORNIA’S REFORM MOMENT ARRIVED? Has California’s big reform moment arrived? It sure seems as though it should have.
Governor Jerry Brown came into office having won in a landslide over the biggest-spending non-presidential campaign in American history, that of billionaire Meg Whitman. He set about forging a compromise solution to the state’s chronic budget crisis, pairing big budget cuts with extensions of temporary taxes that many voters don’t even know they pay. He spent months getting to know the legislators of both parties and negotiating with them, with a special emphasis on Republicans who complained that they had been ignored by Brown’s predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But he still only has half a budget deal. Even though the chronic crisis is still more glaring than before.
California state government is mired in dysfunctionality, and has been for years. The great global recession simply exacerbated the situation. It functions moderately well when times are good, though long-range planning has been most notable by its absence even then. When times are not good, well, here we are. …
** GROWING OPPOSITION TO AFGHAN WAR. Readers know that the Afghan War really hasn’t been going well for quite awhile, and that I haven’t thought much of his approach for longer than that. And that popular support for the war has been sliding. Now recent incidents there which made it into the media have dropped support for President Barack Obama’s management below opposition in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
49% are opposed to what Obama is doing, while 44% are still in favor. And far more than that think the war is no longer worth fighting.
More Americans disapprove of President Obama’s management of the war in Afghanistan than support it, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a finding that reflects the public’s broader concern over the course of the nearly decade-old conflict.
Americans have given Obama wide leeway in escalating the conflict in Afghanistan, which as a presidential candidate he called “the war we have to win.” That latitude is changing — and fairly quickly — as the longer-running of the two wars he inherited approaches the 10-year mark. …
And, ominously, the shift in the poll comes before the news may get worse.
The change in public opinion comes at the start of the annual fighting season in Afghanistan, a period that U.S. military commanders have warned will probably be more intense than previous ones as the Taliban seeks to retake ground lost to U.S. forces over the past year. …
Last month, the survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of Americans think the war is no longer worth fighting, the highest number recorded in response to that question.
The steadily waning support for the war — and Obama’s stewardship of it — might have political implications as the president fights for reelection.
The poll released Monday showed that a majority of self-identified independents — 53 percent — disapprove of Obama’s handling of the war.
Independents were an essential part of the coalition that elected him in 2008, and the White House has been seeking to win back those voters as 2012 nears.
The last time the Post-ABC News poll recorded such high dissatisfaction among independents over Obama’s management of the Afghanistan war was in November 2009, the month before he announced his new surge strategy. It is only the second time that a majority of independents have said they disapprove of his approach.
** NEW POLL: ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE AND THE IMPACT OF OIL AND GEOPOLITICS. There’s a reason why there’s a live link here every day to the oil market. The price of oil is a geopolitical barometer and and economic barometer. And now it’s a presidential politics barometer.
Despite significant improvements in employment, investment, and economic output, the new Gallup Poll survey on economic confidence finds it slumping. What’s the fly in the ointment? Rising gasoline prices are now putting a crimp in consumer lifestyles. And gasoline is refined from, yes, oil.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index dropped to -39 in the week ending April 24 — a new weekly low for 2011. This continues a downward trend that began in mid-February. The current deterioration of confidence contrasts sharply with the improving trend found at this time a year ago. …
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index consists of two measures: one evaluating Americans’ expectations about the future direction of the economy — whether it is “getting better” or “getting worse” — and the other rating Americans’ perceptions of current economic conditions.
“Poor” Ratings of Economy Reach 2011 High
Nearly half of Americans rated current economic conditions “poor” during the week ending April 24 — the highest level of negativity on this measure so far this year. This is also somewhat worse than the 42% “poor” rating found in the same week a year ago. …
Optimism About Economic Outlook Drops to 2011 Low
Slightly more than one in four Americans said the economy is “getting better” last week. This measure has been declining since mid-February, and is now at its 2011 low. Far fewer Americans currently feel the economy is improving than held that expectation a year ago, when 41% said things were getting better. …
Americans may have good reason to be less confident now than they were earlier this year. Gas prices are surging and are approaching the 2008 record high of $4.11 a gallon. It seems as though Americans’ forecast of a peak price of $4.36 for 2011 is well within striking distance. While upper-income Americans can tolerate these prices better than their lower- and middle-income counterparts, talk of $4 and $5 pump prices is likely to depress all Americans’ future expectations for the U.S. economy.
Food prices are also surging, and jobs remain a major economic problem. Gallup Daily tracking shows that while there has been a modest improvement in the jobs situation, essentially the same percentage of Americans are unemployed today (9.6%) as was the case in mid-January. Although some economic observers may downplay the impact of plummeting confidence and surging prices on the U.S. economy, many economists are lowering their economic forecasts for the first quarter of 2011 — from the 3% to 4% range they originally estimated to the 1 ½% to 2% range.
The beginning of the 2012 presidential campaign may also be creating added uncertainty and depressing economic confidence. Generally, the political confrontations taking shape over federal budget cuts, increased taxes, and raising the federal debt limit may be a source of concern for Americans.
Just 12 months ago, economic confidence was improving and there was talk of “frugality fatigue.” The U.S. saw a sharp spike in spending — particularly among those with higher incomes — during May 2010. Things were looking up for the nation’s retailers and the economy as a whole until the debt crisis in Europe surfaced.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 10 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.
British, French, and Italian military instructors are now aiding the Libyan rebels.
** 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.
Obama was then interviewed by WSB Atlanta, WKYC Cleveland, WTKR Hampton Roads, Virginia, and WXYZ Detroit in the Map Room. The topics? The budget deficit, community, and economic competitiveness.
At 10 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 10:40 AM Pacific, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates in the Oval Office.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama holds an expanded bilateral meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates in the Oval Office.
The UAE is playing an increasing role on the world stage, taking part in the military mission in Libya, helping forge the exit strategy for the president of Yemen as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and hosting the new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates in the Oval Office.
They will discuss the Libyan War, the Afghan War, and the uncertain situation in Iraq.
Longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi has not surfaced since the air strike on his compound in Tripoli, though spokesmen say he is alive and well.
Most of long besieged Misurata seems to have been cleared of Gaddafi troops, though rocket attacks and artillery shelling continue. The tribes that Gaddafi regime spokesmen said would intervene militarily against the rebels have not emerged.
In Yemen, opposition parties have agreed to the terms negotiated by the Gulf Cooperation Council for President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure. He is to leave office in 30 days following signing, turning over his office to his deputy for another 30 days until elections.
We’ll see how all the demonstrators feel about this.
The US is desperate to help maintain some semblance of a stable government in Yemen, which has become a haven for Al Qaeda.
In Syria, demonstrations continue as does the bloody crackdown by President Hafez Assad’s regime. The US is now considering sanctions against the Syrian government.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab uprising, AfPak, Iraq, and Japan.
Today is the 25th anniversary of the Soviet nuclear power disaster at Chernobyl in Ukraine.
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.
Monday was a quiet day in California politics.
** 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.
On the 25th anniversary of the Soviet nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, Japan is struggling with the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
** 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 $112 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $78 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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