General David Petraeus, who commanded US forces in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, retired this morning from the Army. He takes over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency next week, replacing veteran California political figure Leon Panetta, who is now secretary of defense.
** QUICK HITS. Governor Jerry Brown’s appointee to the California Supreme Court, UC Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu, was confirmed today by the judicial appointments commission on a 3-0 vote. Brown will swear Liu into office at noon tomorrow in the Capitol Rotunda. … Amazon.com, which has poured over $5 million already into a signature drive to force a referendum on California’s new online sales tax, is reportedly interested in making a deal to avoid the tax and a statewide vote on it. This comes as Democrats, backed by in-state businesses, work to circumvent a referendum by passing a new version of the law with a few Republican votes. Under the deal, Amazon would create new distribution centers in California bringing 7,000 new jobs. That would be in lieu of the $200 million per year for state coffers. I’m sure that Democrats would prefer to have the revenue. But they could lose on everything.
** TEAM O: TOO CLEVER BY HALF. During his briefing today, White House press secretary Jay Carney didn’t really offer a reason why President Barack Obama would be delivering his much anticipated economic address on Wednesday, September 7th before a joint session of Congress at the same time that the Republican presidential debate would be taking place at the Reagan Library in California.
Just a coincidence, of course.
But the White House seems to have forgotten that it does not control Congress, and that the president must be invited to address a joint session of Congress. (It may be unprecedented not to go along with the president, but it’s not out of line with the rules. I don’t know if it’s unprecedented for a president to schedule a speech to scuttle a debate, but I suspect it is.) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s willing to go along with the gag, naturally. But House Speaker John Boehner is not.
He’s told the White House that because of blah blah blah reason, it won’t be possible for the president to speak to Congress on the same night as the Republican debate. But they sure would be interested in hearing from Obama the next night.
Which happens to be the night of the National Football League’s regular season opener. The reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers host the former Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
Well, that doesn’t work too well, does it?
There are two nights left next week. Tuesday night, which is the first night after Labor Day. I wonder if many members of Congress might be straggling then. And Friday night, which is not optimal.
Obama seems to have cut this one too close. There’s a reason why the Republican debate is next Wednesday night. And a reason why Boehner doesn’t seem inclined to play into Team O’s reindeer games.
Obama is supposed to be positioning himself as the grown-up in the equation. His opposition is virtually ceding that spot to him, because of their own demons. Why look like a kid in the schoolyard now?
And how smart is it in the first place to clutter the message of a major speech with gamesmanship around a Republican debate? If the Republicans rolled over, that would be a big part of the story. If they went ahead with the debate and Obama gave his speech — which he can certainly do from the White House, or most anywhere else, for that matter — why share the spotlight?
** NEW POLL: PERRY CLEAR PICK IN REPUBLICAN FIELD ON “POSITIVE INTENSITY” AS ROMNEY, BACHMANN FADE. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that Texas Governor Rick Perry, the new Republican presidential frontrunner, has a big edge over his leading rivals when it comes to positive intensity.
Perry has also gained dramatically in name ID over the past three weeks, moving from 54% to 75%. He is still significantly less well known among Republican voters than former frontrunner Mitt Romney.
These developments come as President Barack Obama has decided to make his much anticipated major address on the economy to a joint session of Congress on the evening of September 7th.
Which just happens to be the same night as the Reagan Library debate, the first Republican debate to include Perry.
White House press secretary Jay Carney made unconvincing sounds about why this move is not designed to knock the Republicans off-stride, which no one in the briefing room seemed to buy.
Among the trailing Republicans, Jon Huntsman hit a new low in his positive intensity score. But Newt Gingrich had a bit of a resurgence.
Herman Cain and Rick Perry continue to generate strongly favorable impressions among Republicans familiar with them. Meanwhile, those familiar with Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul express less intensely positive opinions of those candidates now than at any point this year. The result is a clear separation of 12 percentage points between the top and middle tiers of Republican presidential candidates in Gallup’s Positive Intensity Score from Aug. 15-28 Gallup Daily tracking. The average Positive Intensity Scores show much smaller gaps between the current top- and middle-tier candidates. …
Of all the candidates Gallup tracks, Jon Huntsman has the lowest score, 1. That is also his personal low, and he is one of four candidates, along with Romney, Bachmann, and Paul, to have a personal low in the current data. Newt Gingrich, still mired in the lower tier of candidates with Huntsman and Paul, has shown some improvement in his score in recent weeks, now 7 after descending to 1 at the end of July.
Perry, Romney, Paul, and Bachmann rank as the top four candidates in Gallup’s latest GOP nomination preference poll, conducted Aug. 17-21. However, these four candidates’ positive intensity trends have diverged in recent weeks, with Perry holding steady or improving but Romney, Bachmann, and Paul generally declining. This is the case even after Bachmann and Paul had the strongest performances in the recent Iowa Straw Poll, though the event was perhaps overshadowed by Perry’s long-rumored official entry into the race that same weekend.
Perry has maintained a strongly positive image as he has become much better known among Republicans nationwide. Three weeks ago, 54% of Republicans recognized his name; now, 75% do. That has raised his recognition to an above-average level for the first time. …
Perry’s image remains positive among Republicans familiar with him, even as that group has rapidly expanded in recent weeks from slightly over half to three-quarters of all Republicans. Many other GOP presidential candidates who have shown gains in recognition this year, including Bachmann, Huntsman, and former candidate Tim Pawlenty, saw their Positive Intensity Scores decline as they became better known.
Now, Perry enjoys some separation between himself and his most likely challengers in both positive intensity and support for the nomination (given his 12-point lead over Romney in the latest update), marking him as the clear front-runner at this point in the campaign.
>>>>>>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.
President Barack Obama yesterday addressed the annual national conference of the American Legion in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he praised “an extraordinary decade of military service by the 9/11 Generation.”
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Minnesota.
He has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Following that, Obama held an event in the Rose Garden to call on Congress to move forward in a bipartisan way to pass a clean extension of the Surface Transportation Bill.
At 9 AM Pacific, 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.
Obama flew yesterday to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he addressed the annual conference of the American Legion, the veterans organization for those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during time of war, of which I am a member.
He began laying out what will be the geopolitical/national security/foreign policy framework of his 2012 re-election message.
In the process, Obama thanked what he has dubbed “the 9/11 generation” for its service with America under attack, not so subtly likening it to “the greatest generation” that fought World War II. Which is an imperfect analogy, given the much more limited, though nonetheless quite real, threat posed by jihadists compared to that posed by expansive global fascism.
In not unrelated news, General David Petraeus retires today from the U.S. Army. Next week, the former head of Central Command and U.S. commander in the Iraq War and the Afghan War becomes director of the CIA.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Wartime Contracting, created by Congress to examine the massive expansion of contracting surrounding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will report today that as much as $60 billion has been lost to fraud and waste.
Obama and his team are still working on his big economic speech for shortly after Labor Day. Its shape and scope remain somewhat unclear.
One thing that is clear is Obama calling for extension of the federal gas tax to maintain highway programs and related jobs.
The Obama Administration is also moving to block AT&T’s takeover of T-Mobile, on anti-trust grounds. Anti-trust, what’s that? It’s hard to recall a time when that was a major factor, so far has the pendulum swung to deregulation and massive corporate structures.
Dark horse Republican candidate Jon Huntsman will unveil his economic agenda today in New Hampshire. Huntsman, the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China, will emphasize a renewal of American manufacturing. To promote that, he will call for a major restructuring of the U.S. tax code, phasing out the capital gains tax among other things in what he says would be a revenue neutral fashion.
With more polling showing Texas Governor Rick Perry opening up a sizable lead over former frontrunner Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race, Romney — who has been running a Rose Garden-style campaign — is beginning his attacks on Perry.
Addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention yesterday in San Antonio, Texas, Romney attacked “career politicians” — Perry quickly became a Texas state legislator not terribly long after his Texas A&M days — and called himself a lifelong jobs generator.
Of course, Perry’s stint between college and politics was serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force — in which he flew cargo planes in various spots around the world — and Romney (who never wore the uniform) was in the leveraged buyouts business.
Romney also painted a dark picture of foreign policy and security failures, in contrast to Obama’s tale of hard-won successes balanced by ongoing challenges.
Meanwhile, in Libya, an example of Obama policy success about which Romney has little to say, the Libyan rebels are closing their perimeter around deposed dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, readying an assault and negotiating with officials inside the city. If they don’t surrender, the rebels promise an attack this weekend, right after the end of Ramadan.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
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.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN MOVES BEHIND THE SCENES, BREAKS COVER ON THE ECONOMY, BUT NEEDS TO BREAK BIGGER.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown spoke yesterday, as reported here, at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, his first out-of-state trip since his new/renewed governorship began in January.
In addition to his presentation and panel discussion, Brown met privately with Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and other notables.
But he did not dally amidst the very bright lights of Las Vegas, one of predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s more favored cities in North America.
Brown was back in California in the early evening.
Meanwhile, his 99-year old Aunt Connie passed away over the weekend in San Francisco.
Constance Brown Carlson, a lifelong San Franciscan, was the sister of Governor Pat Brown. She was a very sprightly attendee of her nephew Jerry’s third inauguration as governor this past California. Like Brown himself, she was an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley. She worked for many years as a teacher and lived alone until a recent fall caused a decline in her health.
Her 73-years young nephew introduced her as a living representation of the early Californians who braved many difficulties in building the Golden State. Her grandfather, August Schuckman, emigrated from Germany to San Francisco with the advent of the great California Gold Rush in the middle of the 19th century.
Brown took no little glee in pointing out his aunt’s age as a humorous discouragement of those Democrats who would seek to replace him.
** OBAMA’S BIG DISCONNECT. There’s no question that President Barack Obama is an outstanding orator, able to articulate important messages. But he has a big disconnect going on the biggest issue for most Americans. Even on some things that he has actually focused on of great importance, like energy prices.
Through all of 2010, as I wrote in my November 2010 election “pre-mortem”, “Obama’s Big Mistake,” here on the Huffington Post, Obama was just about to “pivot” to the economy. But it never quite happened. … From my August 22nd column.
** OF “A THEORY THAT’S OUT THERE,” GOP STRAW POLLS, MARTHA’S VINEYARD VACATIONS, AND OTHER FOLLIES. Who says that August is the silly season?
* “A THEORY THAT’S OUT THERE.” I love Rick Perry. I really do. With Michele Bachmann, even though she’s listening to her smart advisors and doing things Sarah Palin can’t, like speak in sentences and even paragraphs, you know you’ve got a fringe character no matter how many supporters she’s attracting. That’s supporters in a party in which half the members believed that the president of the United States is really an illegal alien, and maybe even the Manchurian Candidate.
But Perry is a different kind of deal. He’s the governor of a big state, the second biggest, in fact. He has to be a serious figure. Right? I mean, he’s got that whole Texas Mirage, er, Miracle thing going and all. … From my August 18th essay.
** HARRY POTTER: A CONFESSION, AND AN APPRECIATION. … From my August 11th essay.
** LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE: THE BIG BUDGET DEAL AND OBAMA’S REAL PROBLEM. … From my August 8th essay.
** JERRY BROWN MAKES SOME MOVES. … From my August 1st essay.
** OVER AND OUT, ABOVE AND BEYOND: IS THE SPACE AGE OVER OR JUST BEGINNING? … From my July 28th 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.
China’s second lunar orbiter, having completed its Moon mission, is now embarking on a mission into deeper space.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening 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.
** 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.
** 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 $89 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $55 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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