President Barack Obama was pleased to get a modicum of good economic news today. The U.S. unemployment rate fell last month to its lowest level in more than 21/2 years. More people out of work either found jobs or gave up looking and were no longer counted as unemployed.
** QUICK HITS. Twice delayed official Egyptian election results, first due on Wednesday, began emerging very late on Friday. In very user unfriendly formats, with a live TV announcement suddenly ceased when the official said he was getting too tired to carry on. The upshot so far? The Muslim Brotherhood running way out in front in a multi-party contest with a little over 40%, a radical Salafist party the surprise second with 20%, and a secular center-left party with 15%. Not good for the liberal youth who sparked the revolution in February. More to follow. … Former Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain, slated to formally open his Atlanta national campaign headquarters on Saturday morning, will now make an announcement there about the future of his embattled and plummeting candidacy. He’s just met today for the first time with his wife about this week’s alleged revelation of a long-term affair with another woman. … The reality show aspect of all this was accentuated today by the announcement that Donald Trump will moderate a debate for the far right Internet media Newsmax in Iowa on December 27th. … Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has jumped to big leads in the South Carolina and Florida primaries, and there are signs that Mitt Romney is not only not gaining but is beginning to lose some of his support. The plethora of Republican debates has had several unintended consequences, on the one hand making the field out to be a reality TV show, on the other to allow Gingrich to break through in comparison to the others without spending a dime. … Gingrich will engage in a Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Jon Huntsman later in December in New Hampshire. Romney declined to participate. … Speaking of major announcements, Governor Jerry Brown, who indicated that he would roll out his 2012 initiative plans, in some format or another, looks now to defer the move to Monday.
** NEW CALIFORNIA POLLS: VOTERS HATE CONGRESS, KINDA LIKE OBAMA. In further sign of the immense popular frustration with politics and political institutions, new Field Polls of California voters show approval of Congress at historically low levels.
This mirrors results at the national level.
And President Barack Obama, once wildly popular in the Golden State, is no longer. But he looks just fine next to the Republicans vying for the right to challenge him next fall.
84% disapprove of Congress, while only 10% approve.
Who are those 10% who approve, anyway?
Disapproval of Congress comes from across the board.
The long predicted here failure of the Congressional “super-committee” on the budget has only exacerbated the situation.
Republicans get more blame than Democrats, but half the voters think both parties are responsible for the failure.
More than nine in ten California voters (92%) see the super committee’s failure as a serious matter – 75% very serious and 17% somewhat serious. There is little difference in views about the seriousness of the situation across party lines, with more than nine in ten voters of all political stripes describing the inability of the lawmakers to come up with a deficit reduction plan as a serious matter.
As for Obama, less than half are inclined to re-elect him. And his job approval rating, once sky high, is down to 48% approval and 44% disapproval.
This in a state he carried over John McCain just three years ago, 61% to 38%.
Things look much better for Obama when he’s matched against any Republican. He has a 10-point lead over Mitt Romney and a 20-point lead over Newt Gingrich. Romney stands better in his suddenly desperate fight against Gingrich here than he does in much of the rest of the country.
Obama will carry California next November. The real impact here is that his name, or brand, if you will, is not nearly so sizzling as it once was. So he may not motivate voters the way he used to, which could be a major factor in down ballot contests such as initiatives.
With Senator Dianne Feinstein’s numbers down — which doesn’t mean she won’t coast to victory next year against a sacrificial Republican, as that party continues to melt down here — Governor Jerry Brown is the state’s most popular politician.
Though Brown’s unfavorable rating has inched upward toward the number of people who voted for billionaire Meg Whitman last year, he is avoiding the problems that most chief executives have of catching the blame for tough times.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 10 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
** 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.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared last night on ABC that he will be the Republican presidential nominee.
** ALTERNEWT: GINGRICH “ALTERNATE HISTORY” NOVELS REVEAL MUCH ON PRESENT POLITICS. Never let it be said that Newt Gingrich is not a man of the future. Several of them, in fact. But in his case, those futures lie in the past.
I’m referring, of course, not to his campaign — in which, with his polls rising, Herman Cain fading away, he may well be the man of the future, at least its Republican variant — but to his literary avocation. Which is revealing of his political predilections as he tries to take on Barack Obama.
The former House speaker and current Republican presidential frontrunner likes to describe himself as a “historian” rather than, say, a lobbyist, in explaining his massive contract with mortgage giant Freddie Mac. (He has a PhD in history from Tulane.) But he’s really more in the line of alternate history.
Which happens to be the sort of novels Gingrich mostly writes, though he also has a set of conventional historical novels on the American Revolution.
Alternate history is a branch of science fiction in which the course of history splits from the world as we know it, frequently at one crucial point, which aficionados call a point of divergence, and moves forward into speculative historical fiction.
Gingrich has three major alternate history universes, filled with colorful mavericks, technophilia, loathing for bureaucratic norms, and an evident zest for conflict. …
President Barack Obama presided over the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree yesterday on the Ellipse in Washington.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN AND THE 2012 INITIATIVE WARS.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then toured the 815 Connecticut, NW Building and delivered remarks.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 10 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
This event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 11:20 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Obama got good news this morning.
The US unemployment rate dropped from 9.0% to 8.6%, with 120,000 new jobs created last month.
But as reported here in yesterday’s edition, the underemployment rate measured by Gallup went up, as many jobs are part-time rather than full-time.
And Republicans last night, despite rhetoric earlier in the week, blocked Obama’s bid to extend the payroll tax cut in a 51 to 49 Senate vote.
Meanwhile, with signs that Herman Cain may drop out of the Republican presidential race on Monday, and Newt Gingrich surging in the polls, Mitt Romney went on Fox and Friends this morning to denounce Gingrich as “a Washington insider.” Romney didn’t get any tough questions about his record and views from the chirpy morning crew.
In an interview last night on ABC News, Gingrich confidently predicted he will be the GOP nominee.
As John Travolta said in Pulp Fiction, that’s a bold statement.
Gingrich urged Romney to do what his consultants advise and attack, noting that attack politics hasn’t been working so well so far in the primary race.
Camp Victory has held a special place in the American military experience in Iraq. On Friday, the base, built from the former palaces of Saddam Hussein, was handed over to the Iraqi government as part of American efforts to move all U.S. troops out of the country by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the US pull-out from Iraq continues, with the iconic Camp Victory being turned over today to Iraqi forces.
The US is on schedule to have all major units out of Iraq by New Year’s Eve.
Another delay in the vote count today in Egypt, where official preliminary results were due on Wednesday.
Between the leading party in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a radical Islamist Salafist party, which seems to have finished a surprise second, Islamist parties are shaping up to have upwards of 60% of the vote in the first round of a complex set of parliamentary votes.
The liberals who prompted the protests in Tahrir Square don’t appear to figure much in the mix. Thus showing, once again, that those who start revolutions are not necessarily the winners of those revolutions.
The ruling military council announced today that Egypt’s foreign reserves have plunged from $22 billion to $15 billion.
In Pakistan, angry protests continue over the US/NATO air strikes that killed some 25 Pakistani troops last Saturday in outposts along the Afghan border.
The US is still investigating the matter, but unofficial stories, hotly disputed by the Pakistanis, are emerging that US and Afghan troops came under fire and that they received an okay for air strikes from the Pakistani side.
This isn’t shaping up well.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is expected to unveil November 2012 initiative plans to raise revenues via a five-year tax hike plan.
This plan will raise taxes on high-income taxpayers in various tiers, and include a half-cent sales tax hike, as previously discussed here.
** A SUBLIME AND RIDICULOUS DAY: MARS MISSION AND AFPAK DEBACLE. This Thanksgiving weekend saw the greatness of America and the failings of America both on dramatic display. On Saturday we simultaneously reached for the heavens and got further stuck in the mud.
First, very early in the day in the nebulous Afghan-Pakistan border region, NATO air strikes hit two Pakistani Army outposts, creating a severe crisis in the ill-fated Afghan War. Later on, halfway round the world on a bright Florida morning, the most ambitious mission yet to explore another planet lifted off on a nine-month flight to Mars. …
Two major events, both quite possibly historic, on the same day. Which direction will be the more powerful? … From my November 28th essay.
** SOUND AND FURY: THE UTTERLY UNSURPRISING “SUPER-COMMITTEE” FLOP.
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Macbeth – Act V, Scene V
** DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST. … From my November 21st essay.
** ALI, FRAZIER, JACKSON, STALLONE: OF IMAGE, RACE, POLITICS, AND MYTH. … From my November 16th essay.
** VETERANS DAY IN A FRACTURED AMERICA. … 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.
** 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 $100 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $66 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 $14 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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