The Romney reaction to a Newt Gingrich ascendancy? He’s a better person, family man, married to the same woman for over 40 years, worked with the same company for decades, etc., as seen in Romney’s brand new ad. Probably to be expected of a former bishop in the Mormon Church.
** QUICK HITS. Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich, one-upping his rivals at today’s gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition, very closely aligned with Israel’s very conservative current government, in Washington, where Mitt Romney and others saber-rattled about war with Iran, said he would ask ex-UN Ambassador and noted neocon hawk John Bolton to be secretary of state. Not as risky as it sounds, as Bolton would never be confirmed by the Senate. … Gingrich also said he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an issue I remember very well from presidential politics going back to the ’80s. Disclosure: I never thought it was a good idea. … Romney is struggling to deal with Gingrich’s ascendancy, with the light dawning that Gingrich won’t fall quickly of his own accord and won’t be taken down by his old colleagues, plenty of whom disliked how he ran things as speaker of the House. You see an emerging response in the new TV ad above, which does not mention Gingrich’s far less orderly life. …
** NEWTMENTUM CONTINUES! GINGRICH DOMINANT IN IOWA, SOUTH CAROLINA, FLORIDA, AND CLOSING ON ROMNEY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
New CNN/Time polls of early contest states show a continuing surge for Newt Gingrich. He’s even threatening Mitt Romney in his supposed redoubt of New Hampshire, where the former Massachusetts governor has a home and has campaigned constantly for the past five years.
Iowa: Gingrich 33-20 over Romney.
New Hampshire: Romney 35-26 over Gingrich.
South Carolina: Gingrich 43-20 over Romney.
Florida: Gingrich 48-25 over Romney.
Nevada, unfortunately, is turning into a non-factor. Bad for the West, but especially bad for Romney, who expects to do well in the Silver State with its large Mormon population.
What’s Romney’s problem? He never really moves outside the one-fifth to one-quarter I’ve been noting for months.
And his other problem is an opponent who knows a lot more than he does, is articulate, has real national and geopolitical experience, no matter how controversial it may be, AND is a pugnacious and practiced partisan fighter.
The only other candidate who cracks double digits is Ron Paul, and he only does that in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“In some states, Gingrich scores better among men, or older voters, or born-again Christians, but in other states those advantages disappear. But in each of the four states surveyed, Gingrich has a commanding lead among tea party supporters – by roughly 40 points in the two southern states and by smaller amounts in Iowa and New Hampshire,” adds Holland. “Among likely GOP primary voters who are neutral toward the tea party or oppose it, Gingrich manages no better than a tie in most of those states and loses that group by 20 points to Romney in New Hampshire.”
Rod Blagojevich, the ousted Illinois governor whose three-year battle against political corruption charges became a national spectacle, was sentenced to 14 years in prison today.
** NEW SURVEY: CONSUMER SPENDING UP SO FAR IN NOVEMBER. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that there is some buoyancy in a mostly flat economy on top of the improved unemployment figures from last week.
Overall consumer spending is up very slightly from a month ago, and significantly from a year ago.
But that’s mainly due to higher spending in the South, from a lower base.
Fears of a double-dip plunge in economic output have receded.
But since we are now in a globalized system, upsets elsewhere, such as in the Eurozone, which will hold yet another summit in Brussels on Friday to try to solve the ongoing crisis, can have a devastating impact.
Overall self-reported daily U.S. consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $71 per day in November, compared with $70 in October. While spending was flat in November compared with October, it remains above the levels seen earlier in 2011 and is up 7.6% from a year ago, when it averaged $66. In turn, this tends to support expectations that Christmas spending will be better this year than last. …
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of recent spending trends, as recorded by Gallup, is that upper-income spending remains at its highest levels of the year and is up 9.1% from a year ago. These are the Americans who have the disposable income to spend if they want to, and the Gallup trends make clear that upper-income spending really drives spending at the national level. While economic confidence remains negative across all income groups, the increase in upper-income spending during the last two months aligns with an improvement in upper-income confidence since August.
In part, this may result from the much better performance of Wall Street since August. Fears of a double-dip recession that permeated the investment sector a few months ago have dissipated as the economy has shown signs of slightly stronger growth in recent months. Fears of an immediate increase in upper-income taxes seem to have moderated as the congressional “supercommittee” stalemated.
It is also encouraging that year-over-year spending increased in every region of the country last month. In this regard, the South and the Midwest have had the best job markets during recent months, while the West has shown the most year-over-year improvement.
Despite political and economic chaos in Europe, a fragile U.S. economy, and general lack of economic confidence, it appears Americans are in more of a spending mood this year than in recent holiday seasons. To the extent consumers actually spend more this Christmas, it would be good news for the nation’s retailers and the U.S. economy as a whole.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 12 noon Pacific, President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speak to the press. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can click on the pause button to mute the audio.
** 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.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which ushered America into World War II and ended with the US as one of the world’s preeminent powers. The attack occurred at 7:55 AM Hawaiian time, 9:55 AM Pacific time.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He and Vice President Joe Biden then met with Senate Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office.
At 11:15 AM Pacific, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama and Prime Minister Harper of Canada deliver statements in the South Court Auditorium.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama attends a fundraiser at the Jefferson Hotel.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and oddly Obama is not personally commemorating the occasion, though he issued a proclamation.
That’s been left to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and top military leaders, who have issued various statements and are making appearances.
The event, of course, utterly transformed America. When the Japanese attack came in the early morning of Hawaii, the US was a struggling young giant, still beset by the aftereffects of the Great Depression and possessed of an inherent isolationism even as its interests became more internationalist.
By the end of World War II, the US was the world’s leading superpower.
California in particular was transformed by the events set in motion at Pearl Harbor. For a great many service members, the last sight they saw of home as they embarked on a brutal war in the Pacific was that of the Golden Gate Bridge disappearing behind them over the horizon.
Vast training centers, bases, and industrial organizations were developed in California to sustain the war effort, and California grew as a result.
Obama’s speech yesterday in Ottawatomie, Kansas, site of Teddy Roosevelt’s famed “New Nationalism” speech a century ago, in which TR sounded similar themes about a square deal and the need to rein in private wealth interests, is getting strong reviews from the left and center for its strength. Naturally, the Drudge Report and others are trying to turn Obama’s obvious joke about being back in Texas into a “gaffe” to distract from the substance. No wonder politics is so inane in this country.
Former Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney appeared today before the Republican Jewish Coalition to label Obama “an appeaser” for failing to back the conservative Israeli government in all aspects. And for supporting what he calls an “entitlement economy” as distinguished from the “merit economy” Romney says he’s for.
What Romney means by that is Obama is criticizing Wall Street.
There’s speculation that Romney has dispatched New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to Iowa today to attack surging frontrunner Newt Gingrich. I don’t know that Christie has the standing to do that.
Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh has taken to defending Gingrich.
Straight-shooting Jon Huntsman, trailing by a huge margin and perhaps overestimating a recent George Will column praising him as the great new conservative hope — which was actually an excuse for Will to attack his longtime bete noire Newt Gingrich — yesterday backtracked on his previous position on climate change, saying he’s not sure what caused it and so we shouldn’t do anything about it.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today voiced major pessimism about the prospects of a comprehensive deal on greenhouse gas emissions at the U.N. Conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa.
Huntsman blasted the party over the summer for becoming “the anti-science party,” citing its dominant greenhouse denialism. As governor of Utah, he joined with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Western Climate Initiative to battle greenhouse gases.
Today he raised the prospect of a US attack on Iran if the errant Islamic republic doesn’t back off its nuclear program.
Romney did that again as well with the pro-Israel group. Fine. I don’t like Iran. Let’s attack it. But first, let’s explain how that can work without being the ultimate backfire.
Naturally, Romney, who doesn’t know much about these matters, never says.
While Romney and Huntsman and the others struggle to find fresh traction, some more polls have come out showing Newt Gingrich in a strong position with regard to Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP field, with big leads in Colorado and North Carolina.
The big UN climate change summit in South Africa continues to be stalled, as I wrote in the Monday Morning Quarterback.
China insists on being treated in the same category as a poor African nation, and the US — which is singular in the advanced industrial world in having widespread skepticism about the existence of climate change and its human agency — is in no position to commit to firm cuts.
The Muslim Brotherhood claims further major gains today in Egypt’s complex and unfolding parliamentary elections.
After winning some 40% of the seats allocated to parties in last week’s vote, the group’s political arm today announced that it has won another two-thirds of seats allocated to individual candidates.
Obama is monitoring a variety of 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.
Police in San Francisco cleared the Occupy SF protest site at a downtown plaza early Wednesday, taking down more than 100 tents and making dozens of arrests as they dismantled the nearly two-month-old site.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
At 4:30 PM, Governor Jerry Brown and First Lady/Special Counsel Anne Gust Brown will join Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to host the 80th Annual Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the West Steps of the State Capitol.
The tree will be decorated with 900 hand-crafted ornaments created by children and adults with developmental disabilities who receive services and support from the state’s development centers and 21 nonprofit regional centers. It will be illuminated by 10,000 ultra-low wattage LED lights.
Brown will be joined by 6-year old Mikayla Jones of Visalia to assist him in lighting the Capitol Christmas Tree.
There will also be various musical performances.
Brown got some interesting news from the latest Field Poll, which indicates strong support for his public pension reform proposal.
Intriguingly, however, only 41% of California voters said they think that public pensions are too generous, with a majority saying they’re fine or should be increased.
Brown this morning issued a statement proclaiming today Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day in California:
Seventy years ago today, the Imperial Japanese Navy mounted a surprise attack on our nation’s fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. This assault opened the struggle for control of the Pacific that would claim the lives of over 100,000 Americans. In a speech to Congress the following day, President Roosevelt gave the seventh of December, 1941, its immortal name: “a date which will live in infamy.”
Today, while still deploring the treachery of one country attacking another without provocation, we remember with awe the valor of those who defended Pearl Harbor, and the many more who answered their country’s call in the ensuing mobilization. The 2,402 members of the armed forces who gave their lives that day will always live in our hearts as true American heroes.
NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2011, as “Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.”
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: IN IOWA, A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN FOUR WEEKS. Newt Gingrich. Iowa caucuses. To say it seemed an unlikely prospect that the candidate whose staff famously quit because of disorganization would have what looks like a commanding lead in a state that supposedly requires a premium in organization would be gross understatement.
Yet here it is, a sign of a potentially major shift in modes of campaigning, or maybe just evidence that establishment political culture generates a lot of unnecessary and expensive activity, and evidence of how rapidly things can change in presidential politics, as I know from personal experience.
In four weeks in first-in-the-nation contest state Iowa in 1984, we in the Gary Hart campaign went from fifth to second, as the Colorado senator rocketed into the center of the national scene and set the stage for his big win in the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
And now there are only four weeks left until the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, and Gingrich has moved out to a big lead in the new Gallup national poll and in the major Iowa polls. …
In 1984, the first-in-the-nation Iowa contest came on February 20th. This time around it’s on January 3rd, a sign of how crazily compressed the front end of the presidential nomination contest has become.
So what that means is that Romney has the task of trying to take down Gingrich not in January or February, when people are in the midst of post-holiday winter drear, and more open to nasty negativity, but in the height of the season of holiday cheer.
That’s a big problem for Romney. And it’s a further big opportunity for Gingrich, who has taken to posing in front of Christmas trees and playing jovial Uncle Newt as the star of gauzy TV advertising invoking the Norman Rockwell greatness of America’s yesteryear. … From my December 6th column.
** JERRY BROWN AND THE 2012 INITIATIVE WARS. Governor Jerry Brown is in the midst of some major moves this month with regard to California’s chronically troubled finances, all playing out against the backdrop of next year’s likely major ballot initiative wars.
Working with the rest of the Democratic coalition, he is on the verge of rolling out a proposed initiative for the November 2012 ballot to raise an estimated $7 billion a year in new revenue. …
With regard to the fateful 1999 expansion of public pension benefits, premised on an ever-rising stock market rather than actual contributions, said Brown: “I was incredulous at the time, and I’m still incredulous.” … From my December 3rd feature.
** ALTERNEWT: GINGRICH “ALTERNATE HISTORY” NOVELS REVEAL MUCH ON PRESENT POLITICS. … From my December 1st essay.
** A SUBLIME AND RIDICULOUS DAY: MARS MISSION AND AFPAK DEBACLE. … From my November 28th essay.
** SOUND AND FURY: THE UTTERLY UNSURPRISING “SUPER-COMMITTEE” FLOP. … From my November 22nd essay.
** 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.
** 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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