9:45 AM 5/25/11 UPDATE: New West Notes was down for hours this morning due to significant server problems.
The new edition will be up later this morning.
The Obamas visited Westminster Abbey today, where the president presented a large wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
** QUICK HITS. We’ll know later tonight how the New York 26th turned out. That’s today’s special election for a seat long held by Republican, most notably Jack Kemp, that saw a Democrat holding a slight edge going in, thanks to the presence of a Tea Party third candidate and the Republican’s backing for the so-called Ryan Plan on fiscal matters, including a big revamp for Medicare. … NATO air strikes are once again rocking Tripoli Tuesday night (Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time), with top officials saying the attacks are helping make Moammar Gaddafi’s departure inevitable. … But it certainly hasn’t happened yet. … In another attack supposedly carried out to avenge Osama bin Laden, a police station in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, once a staging ground for the resistance against the Soviet invasion of nearby Afghanistan, was flattened today, wounding many.
** CALIFORNIA 2011: TRYING TO HOLD THE LINE. Governor Jerry Brown is, as he said while he was recovering from a routine skin cancer procedure, optimistic about at last getting his compromise solution to California’s chronic budget crisis enacted. Perhaps this is why professional anti-government advocates Grover Norquist, the longtime Beltway lobbyist, and Jon Fleischman, who launched his far right Flash Report while a public employee, are in Sacramento to urge Republican legislators not to allow tax extensions.
They’re certainly not there to promote the alternative “plan” put out recently — exclusively (!) — on the Flash Report (though I reprinted it here on NWN, easy enough to do since it looks like it was dashed off on a few cocktail napkins).
It’s thoroughly non-serious.
But that, I’m afraid, is about it for the excitement factor.
Brown did a brief press availability in his office at lunchtime, unavailable by webcast, at the same time as NWN was netcasting the Queen of England’s dinner for President Obama in Buckingham Palace. So I wouldn’t have been watching Jerry report on his meeting with state university presidents and take a potshot or two at Norquist anyway.
There are some dueling ads out there, with public employee unions pushing support for the Brown compromise of big cuts and some tax extensions, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association running some radio ads against taxes.
We’ve seen all this before. As long as Brown stays hunkered down in stealth mode as he, once again, doggedly pursues a handful of Republican votes in private conversations, I should probably design a function key to type all of that.
** NEW POLL: GASOLINE PRICES AND NEW VEHICLES. A new Gallup Poll indicates that a third of Americans say they would replace their current vehicles with more fuel-efficient ones if gasoline rises above $5 per gallon.
One-fifth say they would respond by using public transit as their main source of transportation.
One-eighth say they would get an electric car.
But most plan no fundamental changes, unless the price signal flashes far more loudly than it, as it does in many other countries.
Americans are most likely to say they would seek vehicles that get better gas mileage if gas prices keep rising but don’t go above the $5-per-gallon range. Americans are second most likely to say they would use mass transit. Seven in 10 Americans would not move and about the same number of workers would not change jobs or quit working, no matter how high prices rise. …
However, 44% of those who say recent increases in gas prices are causing them “severe” financial hardship would replace their vehicle at prices up to the $5 range, while 25% of those experiencing no financial hardship would do so.
Similarly, 37% of those who say they drive more than average or drive an average amount would get a more fuel-efficient vehicle, while 28% of those who say they drive less than average would replace their current vehicle at prices up to the $5-per-gallon range. …
Electric Cars Not an Attractive Option to Many Americans
Americans are less likely to say they would buy an electric car than they are to say they would buy a more fuel-efficient one if gas prices rise to the $5-per-gallon range. Just 12% say at that price, they would be willing to buy such a car that they could drive only a limited number of miles at one time. Another 10% would make such a purchase if gas prices are in the $6- to $7.99-per-gallon range and another 9% if gas prices reach $8 to $10 per gallon. Still, 57% say they would not buy such an electric car no matter the price of gas.
High-income Americans are about twice as likely as those with low incomes to say they would purchase an electric car if gas prices rose to the $5 range. Otherwise, no matter whether respondents view higher prices as temporary or permanent, or the degree of financial hardship high gas prices are causing them, electric cars are equally unpopular as a response to high gas prices. …
One of the problems with volatile gas prices — as reflected by the drop in prices over the past week — is that most Americans cannot respond immediately to them by significantly adjusting their lifestyles. However, they can do so over time. By asking Americans at what price point they might react in a potentially significant way, Gallup sought to gain insight into consumer price sensitivity (price elasticity) and the resulting future consumer behaviors.
The intention of one in three Americans to purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle and one in five to use mass transit if gas prices go no higher than the $5 range illustrates some of the ways high gas prices can significantly alter consumer behavior. These findings might be good news for the makers of more fuel-efficient vehicles and bad news for those producing trucks and SUVs, particularly if the current situation persists. Even electric cars could benefit if prices get high enough for long enough. High gas prices might also be good for both mass transit and the environment over time.
However, such shifts in consumer behavior are likely to take years. But, high gas prices are already causing severe financial hardship for many Americans — 67% say they are experiencing financial hardship right now. In turn, continued high and increasing gas prices would create similar stress for the U.S. economy as a whole. At the same time, however, it seems as though even very high gas prices are unlikely to compel many Americans to change such basic aspects of their lives as where they live, where they work, or whether they work.
Americans are now predicting that pump prices will reach $4.52 a gallon this year. Even with such price expectations, most Americans seem unwilling and/or unable to significantly change their overall lifestyles — making relatively minor behavioral changes instead. More importantly, most Americans suggest this will continue to be the case even if gas prices stay high and go higher, seemingly validating the carbon-based nature of the U.S. economy. Instead, it seems Americans will cut back in other areas by spending less — not good news for the nation’s retailers, small businesses, or the future course of the U.S. economy.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 12:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas will attend a dinner in America’s honor at Buckingham Palace. White House press secretary Jay Carney will deliver a briefing around 9:30 AM Pacific from London. The 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 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.
The Obamas arrived at Buckingham Palace in London earlier today.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Britain.
Obama received his daily intelligence briefing this morning at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Regents Park in London.
British time is eight hours ahead of Pacific time.
Obama is only the second U.S. president in history to be afforded a full state visit by the United Kingdom. The first was President George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11.
At 4:20 AM Pacific Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participated in the arrival ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.
At 4:25 AM Pacific, the Obamas had lunch with Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
At 6 AM Pacific, the Obamas toured the the Portrait Gallery in Buckingham Palace.
At 7 AM Pacific, the Obamas toured Westminster Abbey, where the president participated in a wreath laying ceremony.
At 7:45 AM Pacific, the Obamas arrived at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the prime minister of the UK, where they met with Prime Minister David Cameron.
Obama and Cameron will meet at much greater length tomorrow.
Of particular concern to Obama is Britain’s unilateral withdrawal from Iraq, which has just been completed, and announced withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Of particular concern to Cameron is Obama’s insistence on taking a background role in the Libyan War.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Opposition Leader Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, at Buckingham Palace.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas attend dinner hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
This event will be netcast live on New West Notes.
Obama is also accompanied in most of these events by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden, back in Washington, attends Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Biden also holds the next meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress to continue work on a legislative framework for comprehensive deficit reduction.
Last night saw the biggest NATO air strikes against Gaddafi regime targets in Tripoli of the Libyan War.
Last night, NATO struck Tripoli with the heaviest air strikes of the Libyan War.
With at times days-long lines for gasoline and some food shortages, the Gaddafi regime is believed by some to be tottering.
This was further evidenced by last week’s defection of Libya’s oil minister. The Gaddafi regime is having tremendous difficulty processing and marketing its oil.
Gaddafi himself is in hiding. Increased strikes against his command and control infrastructure, much of it repaired and cobbled together after earlier strikes, makes it harder for him to maintain his modicum of control.
Meanwhile, fighting is intensifying in Yemen, where longtime American ally President Abdullah Ali Saleh reneged once again over the weekend on his agreement to step down from power.
Today’s reports indicate that the capital city is riven by civil war, with defected army units and heavily armed tribesmen having won control of at least part of it, including territory within blocks of Saleh’s presidential palace.
Saleh is granted immunity from prosecution under the Gulf Cooperation Council deal by which he would step aside. But he may not believe it.
In Egypt today, the ruling military council announced that deposed President Hosni Mubarak, now 83, will face charges for the death of protesters earlier this year, as well as for corruption. So too will his two sons and a close associate.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
California must more rapidly reduce its long overcrowded prison population after Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN RETURNS. AGAIN!
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
At 12:30 PM, he meets with the presidents of the California State University system’s various campuses in the Cabinet Room.
Following that, he holds a press availability in the Governor’s Council Room.
Brown is working on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
And, following yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision directing California to accelerate its reduction of chronic prison system overcrowding, he is working on a plan to do just that.
Brown has already proposed a plan to reduce the state prison inmate population by some 40,000 inmates, more than required by the Supreme Court. But the Legislature has not yet funded the plan, which requires tax extensions and realignment of public safety services to the local level, where most of the inmates would be housed.
** NCIS: AMERICA’S FAVORITE SHOW AND WHAT IT TELLS US. Tuesday night saw the season finale of NCIS, the most watched scripted television series in America. Indeed, if a national poll is to be believed, the veteran CBS procedural about Navy cops (NCIS standing for Naval Criminal Investigative Service), finishing its eighth season, is not only the most popular current scripted show in the country, it’s the favorite show of all time.
How was the season finale? On the anti-climactic side, actually, and not nearly as good as the penultimate episode, one of the show’s best. But it did set up an intriguing beginning to the show’s ninth season in the fall, one which says nefarious things about our national security apparat. More about that in a moment. There be some spoilers ahead.
So, NCIS, the most popular show of all-time? Really? … From my May 18th essay.
** 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. … From my May 11th feature.
** IN THE SHADOW OF BIN LADEN: REPUBLICANS AND THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. … From my May 7th essay.
** CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS: AN UNCERTAIN TRUMPET. … 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.
** 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 $98 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $64 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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