Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich, campaigning today at the University of New Hampshire, said he would not compromise on taxes if he were a member of the Congressional super-committee on the budget, arguing that taxes spoil job creation. He described the super-committee as “hopeless” from the beginning.
** QUICK HITS. The US, UK, and Canada moved today to impose various sanctions against Iran’s petrochemical industry, oil and gas business, and banks. But Iran has reportedly rolled up a network of CIA intelligence assets within the ranks of its Hezbollah ally in Lebanon and at home. … As conflict between demonstrators and Egypt’s ruling military council intensifies, the Egyptian cabinet, which reports to the military council, resigned today. Protests continue for another night in Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square. … Embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is getting a new chief of staff. A former chief of staff to then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown. Anne Campbell Washington was Brown’s chief of staff in 2003 and 2004. She’s also directed foundations in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Quan’s operation is reeling under the impact of the Occupy Oakland demonstrations and high-level departures.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … SOUND AND FURY: THE UTTERLY UNSURPRISING SUPER-COMMITTEE FLOP.
** NEW POLL: GINGRICH AND ROMNEY TOP THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL PACK. Yet another poll confirms Newt Gingrich’s national ascendance in the Republican presidential race.
A new Gallup Poll shows Gingrich at 22% and Mitt Romney at 21%.
Herman Cain is close behind at 16%.
Ron Paul and Rick Perry trail at 9% and 8%, respectively.
Michele Bachmann is further back at 4%, with Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum bringing up the rear at 1% apiece.
Gingrich has been resurrected from the political dead, having melted down to 3% months ago.
While Romney should have every advantage given the craziness of this race, he remains mired with the same fifth to a quarter of the vote he’s had all along.
If he is a frontrunner, he’s the weakest one I’ve seen in a long time.
Most of the candidates, including Romney, receive roughly equal support from conservative and moderate or liberal Republicans. Cain and, in particular, Gingrich, have greater appeal to conservative Republicans.
Overall, Gingrich has a slight edge over Romney and Cain among conservatives, while Romney has a wider margin over the others among moderates and liberals. …
Conservatives outnumber moderates and liberals by better than 2-to-1 in the Republican rank-and-file.
Gingrich and Cain appear to have benefited most from the decline in Perry’s support. In Gallup’s August update, when Perry was the overall leader, 33% of conservative Republicans favored him, making him the clear leader in that subgroup. At that time, 16% of conservative Republicans supported Romney, 5% Cain, and 4% Gingrich.
Republican presidential nominee preferences vary significantly by age. If the nomination were contested solely among senior citizens, it would be a two-man race between Gingrich (34%) and Romney (28%), with 6 in 10 Republicans aged 65 or older supporting one of those two candidates, and no other candidate above 8% in that age group.
In fact, Gingrich’s support is heavily concentrated among Republicans who are at least 50, while his support is 4% among Republicans younger than 30. This pattern may reflect the fact that he has been out of public office for more than a decade, and thus a less familiar figure to younger Republicans.
Cain and Ron Paul do much better among younger than among older Republicans, a consistent finding for Paul throughout the campaign. And while Romney is competitive with the leaders in every age group, his support tends to be greater among older Republicans. …
With the first official nominating contest, the Iowa caucuses, now just six weeks away, there is no clear national front-runner for the Republican nomination. Romney remains at the top of the list, along with Gingrich, whose campaign has mounted a comeback in recent weeks, and Cain. Gingrich’s rise coincides with the recent declines of Perry and, to a lesser extent, Cain,
Typically, well before the Iowa caucuses, Republicans have anointed a dominant front-runner who wound up being the nominee. The major exception was in the last campaign, when Rudy Giuliani led national polls by a healthy margin for much of 2007 but was largely uncompetitive in the 2008 primaries and caucuses.
Thus, the current contest stands to be the most competitive and perhaps most unpredictable for the Republican nomination since 1972, when the parties shifted the power to choose their presidential nominees away from party leaders at the national convention to the rank-and-file voters in state primaries and caucuses.
** DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST. Things are getting very Darwinian in presidential politics. It’s a matter of competition, a matter of evolution — as in who gets the future and who does not — and a matter of the little city of Darwin, Australia. Ironic, in that most of the Republican presidential field rejects Darwin’s evolution science.
“In the Asia Pacific of the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.” So said President Barack Obama in his address to the Australian Parliament as he unveiled an upgraded security alliance with Australia, an historic ally from World War II days.
Obama is rolling out the major beginnings of a post-Iraq geopolitical posture for the US and a revamped political, economic, and security architecture in the Pacific Basin, in large part to counter the rise of China. Which has been undercutting US industries and making new aggressive moves over the past year in the South China Sea — most of which it claims, to the consternation of its neighboring countries — and some threatening moves, as always, towards Taiwan.
Tensions over China’s yuan currency and very expansive claims of sovereignty over its neighbors in the South China Sea dominated the East Asia Summit in Indonesia, where President Barack Obama lived as a boy.
Obama recognizes that the distinction between local and global politics is becoming evanescent. At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii, he pushed a Trans Pacific Partnership on economic issues which China is encouraged to join. If, that is, it stops depressing the yuan, much more stringently protects intellectual property rights, and sharply cuts state subsidies to its corporations. Which of course would disrupt China’s strategy.
As for the rest of Obama’s strategy in what he calls the Asia Pacific, much of it hinges on Darwin, Australia.
This lovely tropical city of 125,000 at the northern edge of Oz, which I’ve visited, is about to loom very large on America’s geopolitical map. Though the numbers are small — only a company of Marines at first, ultimately a brigade — Obama has decided to flow US military forces in such a way that the Australian base there will become a de facto joint base with the United States. …
The Congressional “super-committee” on the budget has failed.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A short week on tap in presidential politics and California politics.
President Barack Obama is back from his very significant nine-day marathon tour of the Asia Pacific region to get the unsurprising word that the Congressional “super-committee” on the budget has gone nowhere before spending a day on the campaign trail, then pardoning some turkeys. (Thanksgiving turkeys, not politicians.)
Governor Jerry Brown is already off on a little vacation, to the proverbial undisclosed out of state locale, letting some word out about his tax initiative plans for next year even as the Think Long Committee releases its own, very different, plan.
The Congressional “super-committee” on the budget is nowhere near an agreement with its deadline looming on Wednesday. (With any agreement supposed to be in print sometime on Monday.) As readers know, I have always had extremely low expectations about anything happening with this group.
And what happens if nothing happens?
Nothing much. (Unless there’s another downgrade, which there should not be, given how predictable this is.)
That’s right. As I pointed out at the time, in a piece about Obama and budget kabuki, the automatic cuts don’t kick in till 2013. Which means the real deadline for action is sometime not long before then. As in a year from now.
Because the Bush tax cuts end at the end of next year, unless they are extended. Which, not incidentally, solves a huge chunk of several problems, to the tune of some $4 billion in revenue.
I think Obama knows this, and while he may gnash his teeth and get some laughs out of the endless sturm und drang about what he is supposedly doing or not doing, recognizes that it is mostly just the sound and fury that passes for political debate these days.
The two parties are simply too far apart, the appointees themselves too entrenched, with party discipline built in to prevent agreement.
Of course, Congress may use this as an excuse to avoid acting on extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits. But that would simply be par for the course for this Congress, well on its way to being the most unpopular in history.
Meanwhile, a new poll in New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney has long held a massive lead, finds Newt Gingrich moving into a dead heat with the former Massachusetts Governor.
But Gingrich is now coming under heavy scrutiny for the many millions of dollars that big interests have doled out to his think tanks and for his highly lucrative Washington consulting arrangements.
Egypt’s very incomplete revolution may be back on. Egyptian soldiers and police set fire to tents in the middle of Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and fired tear gas and rubber bullets in major assaults on Sunday and Monday to drive out thousands of protesters after three days of clashes over the ruling military council’s preferred new constitution, which leaves them in charge till 2013, and perhaps beyond.
Here’s what Obama’s week looks like.
On Monday, the Obamas welcome country music legends and contemporary major artists to the White House for a celebration of country music as part of their “In Performance at the White House” series. On Tuesday, Obama will travel to Manchester, New Hampshire where he will discuss the American Jobs Act.
Then on Wednesday, Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony in the Rose Garden. This is the 64th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. On Thursday, the Obamas will celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House. There are no public events scheduled. And on Friday, Obama has no public events scheduled.
Remember the Think Long Committee, that group of super-rich business types and high-profile former officeholders working on a reform agenda for California, all on nomadic billionaire Nicolas Berggruen’s ample dime?
As I wrote last spring, they were slated to come up with a multi-faceted plan in September. But the month came and went.
Here’s what the group had on tap last spring:
Among the group’s priority items, which Berggruen and Gardels announced in an op-ed piece right before Brown’s inauguration in January: Realigning many core services from the state to the local level, already a Brown priority on which he’s made major progress. Initiative reform that will curb budgeting by the ballot box. Modification of term limits to enhance the accountability, decisiveness and quality of the Legislature, as well as a look at a non-partisan unicameral legislature as a logical step after open primaries and redistricting. Modernizing the revenue system by making it less reliant on the volatility of high incomes and various fiscal reforms including a rainy day fund, which Schwarzenegger and the Legislature passed last year for a future ballot.
Now, aided by their Sacramento consultants, they are rolling out a plan in a conventional way through a few newspapers that is focused on reforming the state’s tax structure. And not on the broader systemic reforms discussed earlier in the year, though the plan does call for realignment to return control and responsibility for some services, such as public safety, to the local level. And it would create a “Citizens Council for Government Accountability,” a sort of watchdog super-committee to act as a check on the elected government, with the power to place initiatives directly on to the ballot.
Brown, as I’ve mentioned on occasion, is already doing realignment. And there are certain issues that one can imagine with regard to having an unelected counter to an elected government.
How would the plan, which is supposed to take initiative form for next November, impact people at various income levels? That’s not yet revealed.
What we do know is that it would lower income and sales tax rates, eliminate various deductions and credits, expand the sales tax to include various services, and cut the corporate tax rate.
These are not unfamiliar ideas, actually.
The California Republican Party has already denounced it as “a $10 billion tax increase.” I have a feeling that organized labor, which has its own ideas on taxes, won’t be too supportive, either.
Brown, as you might suspect, is developing his own plan, and elements of it are beginning to be revealed.
Unlike the Think Long plan, which cuts taxes for the wealthy and for corporations, Brown’s emerging plan would raise taxes on the wealthy, and sales taxes for all, for perhaps as much as five years.
Meanwhile, Brown’s predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Norway.
Today he keynoted the ZERO (Zero Emission Resource Organization) Emission Conference in Oslo, the major annual event aimed at zero greenhouse gas emissions for Scandinavia. Schwarzenegger was joined there by several other leaders, including European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard.
Though he suffered a mishap last week while performing a stunt on the set of his new movie, The Last Stand, in New Mexico, Schwarzenegger’s break in filming for the Oslo address, and Thanksgiving, has been planned for months.
More than 30 people have been killed after a third of day of protest in Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square, overshadowing parliamentary elections set for a week from today. Demonstrators are unhappy about the “temporary” ruling military council’s plan to remain in power until 2013.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama then delivered remarks and signed legislation into law that will provide tax credits to help put veterans back to work, in the South Court Auditorium.
At 1:25 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are expected to announce today new financial sanctions on Iran for continuing to pursue a nuclear weapons development program.
At 4:15 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome music legends and contemporary major artists to the White House for a celebration of country music as part of their “In Performance at the White House” series in the East Room.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was very cagey over the weekend about a possible Israeli military strike against Iran, which the UN watchdog agency says is moving forward on nuclear weapons development.
The interim Egyptian military government is in the midst of a bloody crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square.
It’s the sort of crackdown that did not happen in February’s revolution against Hosni Mubarak.
That may be because the “revolution” merely transferred power from Mubarak to a ruling military council.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Iraq is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
The police pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters at the mellow University of California at Davis on Friday has reverberated around the globe, as seen in this report on British television.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is out of state.
Brown is on vacation in an undisclosed location.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Events late Friday at the University of California at Davis, where peacefully protesting Occupy demonstrators were pepper-sprayed by campus police, caused a big reaction over the weekend. This is not only a national story, but an international story.
Having seen the footage, the pepper-spraying of the students, who were peacefully sitting in a quad, is simply bizarre.
Especially coming as it does on the heels of the inappropriately violent use of police batons during a peaceful rally at UC Berkeley.
After stumbling at first in response, University of California leaders have moved to crack down. On the police over-reaction.
UC President Mark Yudoff is rather belatedly convening a conference, largely by phone, with chancellors of all the university campuses, to affirm the tradition of peaceful protest and make sure that these incidents don’t happen again.
And UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has caused two officers involved in Friday’s shocking incident to be placed on leave, and has placed the campus police chief — who ludicrously claimed that officers were under threat of physical harm — on suspension.
** ALI, FRAZIER, JACKSON, STALLONE: OF IMAGE, RACE, POLITICS, AND MYTH. Monday’s Philadelphia funeral for former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier brought some old but still very salient issues back to the fore. Frazier’s sudden death from liver cancer has reminded many of some uncomfortable truths.
One of the great figures of the “Golden Age” of boxing in the ’60s and ’70s, Frazier ended up very much slighted and neglected, unfairly so, chewed up and spit out by a celebrity culture that opts for popular myths. And he was whipsawed by ruthless racial politics, from right and left. … From my November 16th essay.
** VETERANS DAY IN A FRACTURED AMERICA. Credit Barack Obama with some brilliant Veterans Day moves. In addition to the customary Arlington solemnities, he presided over the opening of the college basketball season on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier which conducted the funeral of Osama bin Laden.
Obama ESPN hoopster, check. Obama bagging Osama, check. Obama buds with the troops, check.
It’s all a very nice kick-off to Obama’s nine days of Asia Pacific summitry, a neat contrast to the reality show clownfest that is the Republican presidential race.
But the stagecraft obscures basic realities that plague the country, which this Veterans Day found ever more fractured. … From my November 12th essay.
** RECALLING JOE FRAZIER: AN APPRECIATION, AND A NOTE OF HORROR. … From my November 10th essay.
** OCUPADO. … From my November 4th essay.
** HIGH-SPEED RAIL: JERRY BROWN’S BIG MOVE TO THE FUTURE. … From my November 2nd essay.
** “OUT OF CONTEXT”: HILLARY’S P.R. OFFENSIVE. … From my October 29th column.
** STEVE JOBS: HARDLY A PERFECT PERSON, PERHAPS A PERFECT ICON. … From my October 26th essay.
** SIGNS: JERRY BROWN AFTER A DISAPPOINTING LEGISLATIVE YEAR. … From my October 20th 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 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 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, and down $16 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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