Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, arguably the key mover and shaker on the American right in the 1990s, has jumped into the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
** QUICK HITS. Members of the Senate and House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees were invited today to view post mortem photos of Osama bin Laden at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Some have already gone; others, such as former California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, now a member of the House Armed Services Committee, say they don’t need to see the gruesome photos. … Word is that bin Laden’s personal diary, which the Navy SEAL team recovered, and massive amounts of computer files that are still being gone through, show that bin Laden urged serious consideration of attacks on Los Angeles, in particular, and other cities beyond New York and Washington. … A coalition of California business organizations called the Coalition for A California Financial Workout Plan today urged that the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown re-start stalled negotiations on the state’s chronic budget crisis. Most if not all of the groups have endorsed Brown’s plan, with fiscal and pension reforms. … San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Doumanis today filed a suit to try to overturn then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s partial commutation of the lengthy manslaughter sentence against Esteban Nunez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who was involved in a fatal brawl but did not strike the victim. Since the governor’s powers in this area are enshrined in the constitution it’s hard to see what the point is beyond the political. The theory is that a new initiative required that victims be allowed to participate in any process around pardons or sentence reductions before parole boards and so on. But there is no such process in this case.
** IN THE SHADOW OF BIN LADEN: THE CALIFORNIA CONNECTION. The first official to announce the death of Osama bin Laden was not President Barack Obama, it was Senator Dianne Feinstein. The Senate Intelligence Committee chair was speaking at a memorial service in Santa Monica for her longtime campaign manager, Kam Kuwata.
Feinstein says she thought that Obama was about to give his nationally televised address. Which he actually gave about an hour later. And that the memorial, filled with pols and media types, was off the record. Which of course is why her remarks were reported in the media.
But Feinstein’s premature announcement of one of the biggest stories in recent memory is only one of the California connections to the demise of the legendary founder and leader of al Qaeda, who claimed credit for ordering the 9/11 attacks on America and eluded American forces for nearly a decade.
Obama credits another fixture in California politics, longtime Congressman-turned-federal budget director-turned-Clinton White House chief of staff-turned CIA Director Leon Panetta with having held overall command of the mission to find and take down bin Laden.
Not long after Obama became president and made Panetta his surprise pick to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency — over Feinstein’s objections, as I wrote about at the time on the Huffington Post — he charged him with a special mission. Revive the long lagging hunt for bin Laden, find him, and capture or kill him.
Some of that story has been reported on. More will come out in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
When Feinstein realized that Obama was very serious about Panetta as his CIA director, she went along with the program. Before that happened, she got some well-deserved flak. …
** NEW POLL: AFTER BIN LADEN, AMERICANS SAY “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” IN AFGHANISTAN. In another sign that polls are snap shots of a moving target, in their case the evolution of opinion, a new Gallup Poll shows that the country is more favorably disposed to the mission in Afghanistan. And that a big majority believes that mission has now been accomplished and US troops should be withdrawn.
Last week, in the immediate aftermath of the Navy SEAL raid that took down Osama bin Laden in his compound near Pakistan’s leading military academy, most felt that there was still unfinished business for the US in Afghanistan. Now that view has evolved into something else.
After the death of Osama bin Laden, a slim majority of Americans now say things are going well for the United States in Afghanistan, a four-percentage-point increase from late March. This marks the first time in nearly two years that the majority has held this view, and only the second time since Gallup began tracking these opinions on the war in 2006. …
Republicans and Democrats view U.S. progress similarly, with 55% of each group saying things are going well for the United States in Afghanistan in the May 5-8 USA Today/Gallup poll. That marks a shift from March, when Republicans were much more positive. Both groups are more positive than independents, 45% of whom think things are going well for the U.S.
In addition to their somewhat more positive overall assessment of U.S. progress in the war, Americans also are a bit more supportive of the war effort in general than they were before bin Laden’s death. Now, 58% say the United States did not make a mistake in sending troops to Afghanistan, up from 53% in late March. …
Republicans are more supportive of the war effort in general. Currently, 69% of Republicans, 54% of independents, and 52% of Democrats say the United States did not make a mistake in sending troops to Afghanistan.
Although a majority says the war was not a mistake, the public seems more inclined to end it rather than keep it going. Gallup finds 59% of Americans saying the U.S. “has accomplished its mission” and “should bring its troops home,” while 36% say the U.S. “still has important work to do in Afghanistan and should maintain its troops there.”
Republicans are divided in their views of whether the U.S. has fulfilled its mission in Afghanistan or still has work to do. Independents and Democrats, by 2-to-1 margins, believe the U.S. has finished its work in Afghanistan and should bring its troops home.
The poll also finds that the killing of bin Laden is one of the most closely followed news stories of the past 20 years.
With details of the U.S. military operation that resulted in bin Laden’s death still coming out, Gallup asked Americans how closely they are following the news about the event. Forty-two percent say they are following it very closely and another 41% somewhat closely.
The combined 83% who are following the story at least somewhat closely ranks in the top 15 out of 206 news stories for which Gallup has used this measure since 1991.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. 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.
A new national poll for the Associated Press shows a big post-bin Laden surge in support for President Barack Obama.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 9 AM Pacific, press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be webcast live on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama participates in a CBS News Townhall Meeting on the Economy at the Newseum.
At 1:20 PM Pacific, Obama meets with the Senate Democratic Caucus in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
At 4:10 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a celebration of American poetry and prose in the East Room.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is off to Greenland for the Arctic Council meeting there on Wednesday and Thursday.
A new Associated Press poll carries very good news for Obama, with his job approval rating jumping to 60%.
That’s his highest point in two years.
Obama rates high in most categories, including the economy, with massive majorities rating him as a strong leader who will keep America safe.
But he gets low marks on gasoline prices and on the budget deficit.
In the face of that, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announces his candidacy today for the Republican presidential nomination.
After rhetorically attacking the US in the wake of the spectacular commando take-down of Osama bin Laden next door to its military academy, Pakistan is now making nice by saying it will allow CIA access to three bin Laden wives left behind at the scene.
In the Libyan War, NATO launched a major strike at Gaddafi command centers in Tripoli Monday night. The longtime dictator has still not resurfaced.
Libyan rebels are moving forward on a couple of fronts.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab uprising, AfPak, Iraq, and Japan.
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.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown continues working on the state’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
He will be back in the public spotlight very soon.
Brown is putting the finishing touches on the “May Revise,” the annual revision of a governor’s budget proposal, which he will unveil on May 16th.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, accepting an award last night in Los Angeles on the occasion of Israeli Independence Day, thanked people for an outpouring of concern for him and former First Lady Maria Shriver in the wake of the announcement of their separation, saying they both still love each other and he’s taking things day by day.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILES. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles.
On Monday evening, in response to an emerging story in the LA Times, he released a statement announcing that he and former First Lady Maria Shriver have separated.
The predictable media firestorm ensued, largely based on no information and speculation.
Schwarzenegger appeared at an Israeli Independence Day event last evening at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
In the course of it, he made the statement you can see in the video above.
What is interesting to note about this is that the announcement was not planned by Schwarzenegger or Shriver. It came about in response to an emerging story in the LA Times that Shriver had moved out of the couple’s Brentwood home a few weeks ago.
Today the paper’s media columnist, noting the Times’s controversial last minute blast at Schwarzenegger during the 2003 recall campaign — which backfired, as I predicted at the time — did an odd sort of victory dance, claiming that the separation is a kind of vindication of the paper’s anti-Schwarzenegger stance of 2003.
Writes columnist James Rainey: “The truth was, the story and its central figure may have presented a glossy and attractive narrative. But the final cut fit right into a drearily familiar mold.”
I’m sure I know more about what is going on here than this fellow, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. But certain Times folks do have reason to be bitter about 2003 and its aftermath, which marked the further decline of a once near great newspaper.
The Times coverage backfired badly, and Schwarzenegger won in a landslide.
The column also makes this false claim: “… the Los Angeles Times broke the story about Schwarzenegger’s history of touching and groping women when he was Hollywood’s star of stars.”
Actually, as I mentioned yesterday, and more than mentioned at the time, the Times didn’t break any story. It recycled a Premiere Magazine story from 2001.
This was all the Times and its special Schwarzenegger unit, established and directed by then Times editor John Carroll, was able to come up with after months of chasing the great white whale Arnold.
** IN THE SHADOW OF BIN LADEN: REPUBLICANS AND THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. If there was a worse week in which to hold the first Republican presidential debate, it’s hard to think of when that might be.
It’s probably poetic justice that the first Republican presidential debate took place Thursday night in the shadow of Osama bin Laden, for his very existence spurred the accomplishment of some of the right’s biggest objectives in the past decade:
* The Bush/Cheney crew had made their desire to invade Iraq clear from the beginning. The post-9/11 atmosphere of fear, and bin Laden’s ability to slip through our grasp at Tora Bora, created a very supportive atmosphere for the invasion of Iraq, which was supposedly aligned with bin Laden and supposedly possessed of WMD.
* Then, with Al Qaeda recruitment up in response to America blundering into the Muslim world, that provided more of a rationale to stay in Iraq. In order to defeat Al Qaeda, whose ranks were swelled by the invasion.
* And bin Laden’s dramatic 2004 election eve tape threatening America helped George W. Bush eke out his re-election win over John Kerry.
So the halting start of the competition for the Republican presidential nomination in the shadow of bin Laden’s death holds no little irony. … From my May 7th essay.
** CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS: AN UNCERTAIN TRUMPET. California Democrats gathered this past weekend in Sacramento for their annual party convention were in a rather curious mood. They’ve gotten what they wanted. But they have mixed feelings about what they’ve ended up with.
Like their Republican counterparts who gathered in convention less than a month-and-a-half earlier in the same place, the Democratic activists and various party and interest group leaders, lobbyists, consultants, and politicians are more from the true believing side of things than most voters, even of their own respective parties. But the Democrats didn’t have the bursts of strangeness that the Republicans had. Sweeping last November’s elections, even as the rest of the country bled red, was very gratifying. But given the state’s budget woes, there’s little for activists to celebrate in terms of programmatic accomplishment. … From my May 2nd feature.
** OBAMA’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS STILL LIE ABROAD. … From my April 29th essay.
** HAS CALIFORNIA’S REFORM MOMENT ARRIVED? … From my April 26th column.
** THE NON-IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY: OBAMA AND LIBYA. … 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.
** 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 $102 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $68 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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