Making quite the spectacle of himself in Las Vegas, developer Donald Trump, the leader for the Republican presidential nomination in most national polls, unleashed a profanity-laden tirade in a speech last night at the Treasure Island casino on the Vegas Strip and, in an interview, said he’d heard that President Barack Obama was a bad student who must have benefited from affirmative action in getting into Columbia University and Harvard Law School (where Obama was head of the law review). Can you say “Meltdown?”
** QUICK HITS. A new wrinkle in the Libyan War, with the Gaddafi regime openly threatening to block humanitarian assistance coming by sea to Misurata after being caught laying anti-ship mines. … A federal appellate court today rejected a lawsuit by the Chamber of Commerce and the national auto dealers association seeking to invalidate California’s law cutting greenhouse gas emissions. … The State of California put out revised population figures today. California at the beginning of the year had a population of 37.5 million, an increase of nearly 300,000 from the previous year, and a slightly lower overall estimate more in line with federal Census data. … Governor Jerry Brown today appointed retired Major General Peter Gravett, a Republican, as California’s secretary of veterans affairs.
** NEW POLL: LEST WE THINK IT’S JUST IGNORANT CALIFORNIANS WHO DON’T GET IT. By now, many readers are all too familiar with the dreadful lack of information underlying the attitudes of Californians toward their state government. And, in particular, the state’s chronic budget crisis.
But I’ve always thought that if Arnold Schwarzenegger had the powers of the treasury that an American president has, he would be the most popular governor in history.
However, a California governor has to actually balance a state budget, and can’t run gigantic deficits on the strength of printing money and borrowing it. Or, at least, produce an arguable semblance of a balanced budget.
Now attention has turned, again, to federal budget deficits. Which became massive under the Bush/Cheney Administration — as it ran two wars, instituted a huge tax cut, and produced a big prescription drugs program, all of it unfunded — and has become more massive under the Obama Administration, which had to bail out the economy after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
And what do the American people know of the realities of federal budgeting? If anything, even less than California voters. Though the latter may finally be wising up.
A new Gallup Poll shows that most Americans say that wasteful spending is the cause of big federal deficits. And that, stop me if you’ve heard this before — way back behind on the California learning curve — that a plurality wants the deficit eliminated by an all or almost all cuts budget. Which simply doesn’t work.
The large majority of Americans say spending too much money on unneeded or wasteful federal programs is to blame for the federal budget deficit, while 22% say the deficit is a consequence of not raising enough in taxes to pay for needed programs. …
These results are based on an April 20-23 USA Today/Gallup poll. Given a forced choice, Republicans almost uniformly place blame for the deficit on too much federal spending, rather than a shortage of tax revenue. Majorities of independents and Democrats agree, albeit by somewhat smaller margins.
Accordingly, Americans generally favor spending cuts rather than tax increases as the way for Congress to reduce the deficit going forward. …
This question asks Americans to choose among five ways of reducing the federal deficit, ranging from a total reliance on spending cuts to a total reliance on tax increases. The responses cluster at the “spending cuts” end of the spectrum. About half (48%) of Americans say reducing the deficit should be done mostly or only with spending cuts. Another 37% say it should be done equally with spending cuts and tax increases. Eleven percent say mostly or only with tax increases.
Thus, overall, 85% of Americans explicitly favor spending cuts as at least part of the solution to reducing the federal deficit, with more than half of these favoring only or mostly using cuts. This compares with 48% who explicitly favor tax increases as at least part of a deficit reduction strategy — a number consisting mostly of those who want an equal emphasis on spending cuts and tax increases.
The major partisan distinctions in response to this question reflect the choice between mostly/only spending cuts versus the equal use of spending cuts and tax increases. Republicans are most likely to favor the former; Democrats, the latter. Independents’ views are between these two extremes. Relatively few Americans of any partisan identification favor mostly or only using tax increases to reduce the deficit.
Given a choice, Americans of all political persuasions are more likely to say that too much wasteful and unneeded government spending is the cause of the federal budget deficit, rather than too little tax revenue. Americans of all political persuasions also say cutting back on federal spending should be a major focus of efforts to reduce the deficit going forward.
Still, some emphasis on tax increases is part of the solution for almost half of Americans. Thus, it appears Americans would most likely tell their elected representatives to attack the federal deficit primarily using spending cuts, but with a secondary reliance on raising tax revenue.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 3:55 PM Pacific, President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address at Miamia Dade College in Miami, Florida. 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 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.
Stream videos at Ustream
Space Shuttle Endeavour awaits its Friday afternoon launch at 12:47 PM Pacific from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. You can click on the button to watch the live shot of the spacecraft and various preparations prior to the lift-off sequence.
UPDATE: ENDEAVOUR LAUNCH SCRUBBED UNTIL MONDAY AT THE EARLIEST. Well, this is disappointing. NASA has scrubbed the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour until Monday at the earliest after discovering at mid-day that a heater circuit on one of the spacecraft’s auxiliary power units had failed.
The earliest that Endeavour will now take off is 11:33 AM Pacific on Monday.
NASA will hold a press conference about the delay at 1 PM Pacific.
** LIVE FROM CAPE CANAVERAL.
The final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour will be netcast live on Friday here on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
This is the penultimate voyage of the space shuttle program, and of course the last flight of Endeavour, which will, following this mission to the International Space Station, find its final home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, badly wounded in a January assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona, will be on hand Friday to watch her husband, Navy Captain Mark Kelly, skipper Endeavour as it flies into space on its final mission.
Also on hand will be President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha.
The final voyage of the Space Shuttle Endeavour begins today. Following its retirement, the spacecraft will be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS STILL LIE ABROAD.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, Alabama, and Florida.
Obama has a jampacked day.
At 5 AM Pacific, he met with participants in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike in the Diplomatic Room.
These black sanitation workers went on strike after years of discrimination, bad conditions and poor pay. It was in their support that Rev. Martin Luther King came to Memphis, where he was assassinated on April 4th, 1968.
Obama and the rest of the First Family then departed for Andrews Air Force Base, where they flew on Air Force One to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Shortly after arrival, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama viewed the tornado damage and met with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, state and local officials, and families affected by the storms
At 8:45 AM Pacific, the Obamas depart Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Air Force One en route to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
At 10:10 AM Pacific, the Obamas arrive in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, the Obamas tour the orbiter processing facility at Cape Canaveral.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas view the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour from Launch Control Center at the Kennedy Space Center.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Miami, Florida
At 3:55 PM Pacific, Obama delivers the Miami Dade College commencement address in Miami.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 6:05 PM Pacific, Obama departs Miami on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 8:15 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, where he boards Marine One.
At 8:30 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Storm chasers captured footage of the tornado that leveled Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Obama officially reshuffled his top national security team yesterday. The appointments, which I’ve discussed at some length this week, have been generally well-received on both sides of the aisle.
In Libya, 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. NATO air strikes have intensified in recent days.
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 still not emerged.
What has emerged is a renewed attempt to move Gaddafi troops back into the city, which the rebels are working to repulse with some aid from air strikes.
Various parties to the departure deal for longtime Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh brokered by Gulf Arab states are to sign this weekend. But protests continue, calling for his immediate departure and no immunity from prosecution.
Analysis and reaction are still underway with regard to the surprise alliance between Fatah and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. Israel is of course very opposed, saying it undermines the peace process.
But there has been no meaningful peace process for years.
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. But the UN Security Council late Wednesday declined to condemn the Syrian regime.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab uprising, AfPak, Iraq, and Japan.
President Barack Obama yesterday unveiled his new appointees for top national security posts.
Incidentally, Americans for Prosperity hosts the first Republican presidential forum tonight in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Those prospective candidates onhand include former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, talk radio host Herman Cain, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former Pennslyvania Senator Rick Santorum.
I recall Santorum giving a recent speech in which he attacked Obama for not continuing the historic American mission of confronting “godless socialism” around the world.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Ron Paul are in early presidential caucus state Nevada.
Paul spoke in Reno last night, giving his standard libertarian spiel.
And Trump spoke in Las Vegas, at the Treasure Island casino. He reportedly peppered his speech with “Fu–ing” this and that, with even more bluster than usual. I wonder if he had mistaken the cocktail hour.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown will address the California Democratic Party convention on Sunday in Sacramento.
Yesterday he repeated familiar messages about his compromise plan to solve the state’s chronic budget crisis in speeches to the annual state PTA convention in Long Beach and at the annual awards dinner of the Pat Brown Institute in downtown LA.
** 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. … From my April 26th column.
** 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). … 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.
** 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.
Britain’s ITN News sets the mythic arc of the latest royal wedding to the music of San Francisco’s Journey. The lyric about “Just a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit” is more than a bit incongruous attached to the prince.
** 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 $113 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $79 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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