Appearing last night on Fox News’s Sean Hannity show, Sarah Palin compared Newt Gingrich to “Smokin’ Joe Frazier” and said that she would vote for Gingrich if she were voting in the South Carolina primary.
8:40 PM PACIFIC UPDATE: GINGRICH TAKES SLIGHT LEAD IN NEW SOUTH CAROLINA POLL, SECOND WIFE TO APPEAR ON ABC NEWS. A brand-new poll by Insider Advantage of the South Carolina Republican primary, taken after Monday night’s debate which was won by Newt Gingrich, shows Gingrich moving into a very slight edge over Mitt Romney, 32% to 29%.
Ron Paul is at 15% and Rick Santorum is at 11%, while Rick Perry brings up the rear with 3%.
An Insider Advantage poll taken over the weekend, prior to the debate, had Romney holding a 10-point lead over the ex-House speaker.
The Romney campaign spent all of Wednesday attacking Gingrich, with even the see no evil/hear no evil candidate himself chiming in to try to drive points home.
And now the Drudge Report has an “exclusive,” read leak, that Gingrich’s second wife will make a highly negative appearance on ABC News to discuss her ex-husband.
** QUICK HITS. Sensing danger in the wake of Newt Gingrich’s Monday night debate win and the controversy over his own financial dealings, Mitt Romney today called in reinforcements to help prop up his campaign in the South Carolina primary. Anti-Gingrich surrogates rolled in and TV ads erupted. The best thing Romney has going for him is a split field. The next debate is tomorrow night. … The Obama Administration today turned down the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, citing an arbitrary 60-day decision deadline imposed by Congressional Republicans as part of the end of year fiscal deal to extend the payroll tax cut. But pipeline promoters can seek a different path for it. … Governor Jerry Brown essentially repeated his State of the State address this afternoon before a packed crowd, and a big bank of TV news cameras, at LA City Hall. Recognizing that, as may have been mentioned here on occasion, events in the state capital don’t resonate much in the rest of the state, Brown is taking his State of the State message on the road in Southern California. Tomorrow he is in Orange County and San Diego.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … STATING THE STATE: JERRY BROWN GETS DISCIPLINED AND LAYS IT OUT.
** NEW POLL: A BOUNCING NEWT. A snap poll by Rasmussen the night after Newt Gingrich’s clear win in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina shows a big bounce back upwards for Newt Gingrich.
On a national level, it’s Mitt Romney 30%, Gingrich 27%, Rick Santorum back down to 15%, Ron Paul 13%, and Rick Perry 4%.
I’m no fan of Rasmussen, as readers know, but the poll is clearly on to something here. The Romney campaign, and even the usually above the fray/don’t know about attacks candidate himself, is spending a lot of energy today attacking Gingrich.
All of which makes Thursday night’s debate in Charleston, South Carolina very important.
As always, the key to beating Romney is for the other conservatives to drop and let Gingrich have a clear shot.
Perry, in particular, was expected by his staff to drop out after Iowa but mysteriously decided to carry on after retreating to Texas and nearly suspending his campaign.
Santorum, who may actually have finished first in Iowa, as I’ve mentioned a few times and which is a whole other story largely unreported by the media, hasn’t been able to get any traction since then.
But the story in the new numbers, taken Tuesday night, is Gingrich’s jump 11 points from 16% two weeks ago. Romney’s support is essentially unchanged from 29% at that time, while Santorum is down six points from 21%. Paul’s and Perry’s support is also unchanged. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman earned four percent (4%) of the vote at the start of the month but dropped out of the race this week. This suggests that many voters are still looking for an alternative to Romney and currently see Gingrich as that candidate.
Among Republican primary voters nationwide, 34% think Romney is the GOP candidate who would do a better job managing the economy, but almost as many (29%) feel Gingrich would do the better job. Paul’s a distant third at 14%. When it comes to national security and defense, Gingrich is the clear leader: 43% think he would do a better job versus 18% who say the same of Romney.
Indicative of how fluid the race remains, just 41% of likely GOP primary voters nationally are certain of how they will vote at this time. Most (51%) say they could still change their minds, and another seven percent (7%) haven’t made an initial choice yet.
The jump in Gingrich’s support nationally comes after a Monday night debate in which most analysts said the former speaker did very well. …
** “CALIFORNIA ON THE MEND.” GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN’S 2012 STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS (as prepared):
As required by the state constitution, I am reporting to you this morning on the condition of our state.
Putting it as simply as I can, California is on the mend. Last year, we were looking at a structural deficit of over $20 billion. It was a real mess. But you rose to the occasion and together we shrunk state government, reduced our borrowing costs and transferred key functions to local government, closer to the people. The result is a problem one fourth as large as the one we confronted last year.
My goal then was to balance budget cuts with a temporary extension of existing taxes—if the voters approved. You made the reductions and some very difficult decisions but the four Republican votes needed to put the tax measure on the ballot were not there. So we are left with unfinished business: closing the remaining gap.
Again, I propose cuts and temporary taxes. Neither is popular but both must be done. In a world still reeling from the near collapse of the financial system, it makes no sense to spend more than we have. The financial downgrading of the United States, as well as of several governments in Europe, should be warning enough. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and digging ourselves into a deep financial hole—to do good—is a bad idea. In this time of uncertainty, prudence and paying down debt is the best policy.
For my part, I am determined to press ahead both with substantial budget cuts and my tax initiative. The cuts are not ones I like but the situation demands them. As for the initiative, it is fair. It is temporary. It is half of what people were paying in 2010. And it will protect our schools and guarantee—in the constitution—funding for the public safety programs we transferred to local government. With enough time, we can and should devise more permanent tax reform but for now we should finish the job of bringing spending into balance with revenues.
Putting our fiscal house in order is good stewardship and helps us regain the trust of the people. It also builds confidence in California as a place to invest and realize one’s dreams. Contrary to those critics who fantasize that California is a failed state, I see unspent potential and incredible opportunity. Every decade since the 60’s, dystopian journalists write stories on the impending decline of our economy, our culture and our politics. Yes, it is fair to say that California is turbulent, less predictable and, well, different. Yet, look at the facts.
After the mortgage bubble burst in 2007, California lost a million jobs, much of it driven by the overleveraged construction industry and its financial partners in the under-regulated mortgage industry. The result is a recovery far slower than after the previous six national recessions. But now we are coming back. In 2011, California personal income grew by almost $100 billion and 230,000 jobs were created—a rate much higher than the nation as a whole.
Contrary to those declinists, who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams—as well as the Dream Act. It’s the place where Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, QUALCOMM, Twitter, Facebook and countless other creative companies all began. It’s home to more Nobel Laureates and venture capital investment than any other state. In 2010, California received 48% of U.S. venture capital investments. In the first three months of last year it rose even higher—to 52%. That is more than four times greater that the next recipient, Massachusetts. As for new patents, California inventors were awarded almost four times as many as inventors from the next state, New York.
California has problems but rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated.
The year 2012 presents plenty of opportunity and, if we work together, we can:
Build renewable energy
Reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses
Launch the nation’s only high-speed rail system
Reach agreement on a plan to fix the Delta
Improve our schools
Reform our pensions, and,
Make sure that prison realignment is working—to protect public safety and reduce recidivism.
Last year, I appointed a top advisor with an impressive background in the private sector and charged him with finding out what doesn’t work for business in this state and how to fix it. What he heard consistently was that business needed an effective champion to navigate the state’s plethora of complex laws and regulations which can discourage investment and job creation. You enacted a law to restructure our office of business development and place it in the governor’s office. Under the name GO-BIZ, we now have a point of contact at the highest level for businesses large and small. More than that, the GO-BIZ office is staffed with people who understand what it’s like to be in business and stand ready to intervene and give real help to get businesses open and projects off the ground.
Already California is leading the nation in creating jobs in renewable energy and the design and construction of more efficient buildings and new technologies. Our state keeps demanding more efficient structures, cars, machines and electric devices. We do that because we understand that fossil fuels, particularly foreign oil, create ever rising costs to our economy and to our health. It is true that the renewable energy sector is small relative to the overall economy but it pays good wages and will only grow bigger as oil prices increase and the effects of climate change become more obvious and expensive.
I have set a goal of 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. You have laid the foundation by adopting the requirement that one third of our electricity come from renewable sources by that date. This morning I can tell you we are on track to meet that goal and substantially exceed it. In the last two years alone, California has permitted over 16,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal energy projects.
In the beginning of the computer industry, jobs were numbered in the thousands. Now they are in the millions. The same thing will happen with green jobs. And California is positioned perfectly to reap the economic benefits that will inevitably flow.
California also leads the nation in cleaning up the air, encouraging electric vehicles and reducing pollution and greenhouse gases. Our vehicle emissions standards—which have always set the pace—now have been adopted by the federal government for the rest of the country.
Under AB 32, California has stepped out and crafted a bold plan to deal with climate change and foreign oil dependency. The plan will require less carbon in our fuels, more efficient technologies across a broad swath of businesses and a carefully designed cap and trade system that uses market incentives instead of prescriptive mandates.
As a result, California is attracting billions of dollars in clean tech venture capital investments. In 2011, almost 40% of such investments were made in California, making our state not only the leader in the nation but in the world.
My commitment is to continue these innovative programs and build on them in the coming year in every way that I can.
Just as bold is our plan to build a high-speed rail system, connecting the Northern and Southern parts of our state. This is not a new idea. As governor the last time, I signed legislation to study the concept. Now thirty years later, we are within weeks of a revised business plan that will enable us to begin initial construction before the year is out.
President Obama strongly supports the project and has provided the majority of funds for this first phase. It is now your decision to evaluate the plan and decide what action to take. Without any hesitation, I urge your approval.
If you believe that California will continue to grow, as I do, and that millions more people will be living in our state, this is a wise investment. Building new runways and expanding our airports and highways is the only alternative. That is not cheaper and will face even more political opposition.
Those who believe that California is in decline will naturally shrink back from such a strenuous undertaking. I understand that feeling but I don’t share it, because I know this state and the spirit of the people who choose to live here. California is still the Gold Mountain that Chinese immigrants in 1848 came across the Pacific to find. The wealth is different, derived as it is, not from mining the Sierras but from the creative imagination of those who invent and build and generate the ideas that drive our economy forward.
Critics of the high-speed rail project abound as they often do when something of this magnitude is proposed. During the 1930’s, The Central Valley Water Project was called a “fantastic dream” that “will not work.” The Master Plan for the Interstate Highway System in 1939 was derided as “new Deal jitterbug economics.” In 1966, then Mayor Johnson of Berkeley called BART a “billion dollar potential fiasco.” Similarly, the Panama Canal was for years thought to be impractical and Benjamin Disraeli himself said of the Suez Canal: “totally impossible to be carried out.” The critics were wrong then and they’re wrong now.
Another huge issue we must tackle is water. Last week, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar – met here in Sacramento with those in my administration who are working to complete the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Together we agreed that by this summer we should have the basic elements of the project we need to build. This is something my father worked on and then I worked on—decades ago. We know more now and are committed to the dual goals of restoring the Delta ecosystem and ensuring a reliable water supply.
This is an enormous project. It will ensure water for 25 million Californians and for millions of acres of farmland as well a hundred thousand acres of new habitat for spawning fish and other wildlife. To get it done will require time, political will and countless permits from state and federal agencies. I invite your collaboration and constructive engagement.
Next, I want to say something about our schools. They consume more tax dollars than any other government activity and rightly so as they have a profound effect on our future. Since everyone goes to school, everyone thinks they know something about education and in a sense they do. But that doesn’t stop experts and academics and foundation consultants from offering their ideas — usually labeled reform and regularly changing at ten year intervals—on how to get kids learning more and better. It is salutary and even edifying that so much interest is shown in the next generation. Nevertheless, in a state with six million students, 300,000 teachers, deep economic divisions and a hundred different languages, some humility is called for.
In that spirit, I offer these thoughts. First, responsibility must be clearly delineated between the various levels of power that have a stake in our educational system. What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision-making at the federal or state level. For better or worse, we depend on elected school boards and the principals and the teachers they hire. To me that means, we should set broad goals and have a good accountability system, leaving the real work to those closest to the students. Yes, we should demand continuous improvement in meeting our state standards but we should not impose excessive or detailed mandates.
My budget proposes to replace categorical programs with a new weighted student formula that provides a basic level of funding with additional money for disadvantaged students and those struggling to learn English. This will give more authority to local school districts to fashion the kind of programs they see their students need. It will also create transparency, reduce bureaucracy and simplify complex funding streams.
Given the cutbacks to education in recent years, it is imperative that California devote more tax dollars to this most basic of public services. If we are successful in passing the temporary taxes I have proposed and the economy continues to expand, schools will be in a much stronger position.
No system, however, works without accountability. In California we have detailed state standards and lots of tests. Unfortunately, the resulting data is not provided until after the school year is over. Even today, the ranking of schools based on tests taken in April and May of 2011 is not available. I believe it is time to reduce the number of tests and get the results to teachers, principals and superintendents in weeks, not months. With timely data, principals and superintendents can better mentor and guide teachers as well as make sound evaluations of their performance. I also believe we need a qualitative system of assessments, such as a site visitation program where each classroom is visited, observed and evaluated. I will work with the State Board of Education to develop this proposal.
The house of education is divided by powerful forces and strong emotions. My role as governor is not to choose sides but to listen, to engage and to lead. I will do that. I embrace both reform and tradition—not complacency. My hunch is that principals and teachers know the most, but I’ll take good ideas from wherever they come.
As for pensions, I have put forth my 12 point proposal. Examine it. Improve it. But please take up the issue and do something real. I am committed to pension reform because I believe there is a real problem. Three times as many people are retiring as are entering the workforce. That arithmetic doesn’t add up. In addition, benefits, contributions and the age of retirement all have to balance. I don’t believe they do today. So we have to take action. And we should do it this year.
As for prison realignment, we are just at the beginning. The cooperation of sheriffs, police chiefs, probation officers, district attorneys and local officials has been remarkable. But we have much to do—to protect public safety and reduce recidivism—and together, we’ll get it done.
It is one thing to pass a law and quite another to implement it and make it work.
As I see it, that’s my job as governor and chief executive: make the operations of government work—efficiently, honestly and in the peoples’ interest. With your help, that’s what we’ll do in 2012 and prove the declinists wrong once again.
Israel and the US have postponed Operation Austere Challenge, set for the next few weeks, the largest joint exercise ever scheduled by the two countries, ostensibly because Israel is short on manpower.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, he participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 2:25 PM Pacific, Obama hosts a reception with U.S. Mayors in the East Room.
Iran yesterday warned Saudi Arabia not to increase its oil production as the US and its allies push for an embargo against Iranian oil as part of the drive to stop Iran from producing a nuclear weapon. The Saudis have said they will up their production by 2.7 million barrels per day to make up for a potential loss of Iranian oil on global markets. The US recently sold 84 advanced fighter jets to the kingdom across the Gulf from Tehran.
The European Union is discussing its plan to start its ban on Iranian oil on July 1st.
India formally announced yesterday what has previously been reported, that it will ignore the US request that it drop Iranian oil. Iran is India’s second largest source of oil, after Saudi.
Iran announced that it has made arrests in the case of last week’s assassination of a top nuclear scientist, which Iranian leaders say was carried out by Israel’s Mossad with the assistance of US and British intelligence.
Meanwhile, the war talk in the Israeli press seemed to abate to a large degree yesterday.
And late in the day, Israel announced a delay until next summer for a massive joint exercise with US forces which have already been moving in the region planned for late this month.
The ostensible reason is a lack of Israeli resources for the exercise, but most believe it’s an attempt to ratchet down the tensions in the region.
The exercise was designed in large part to practice counter-moves to an Iranian missile attack.
The US has a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East as the crisis with Iran grows and the Islamic republic’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz continues, as well as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey to meet with Israeli officials.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the veteran California political figure, has expressed grave concern about the prospect of Israeli air strikes on Iran’s nuclear program.
Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich takes a shot at opponent Mitt Romney, saying he is re-naming his flat tax the “Mitt Romney 15 percent flat tax.” This comes after it was revealed that the super-rich Romney pays about a 15% tax rate.
While these major events play out, the Republican presidential race continues.
Mitt Romney is trying to consolidate a frontrunner position after losing Monday night’s debate to Newt Gingrich.
Romney is on the defensive for his Bain Capital adventures and for his personal finances. He has balked repeatedly at releasing any tax records — a practice in presidential politics that his own father, then Michigan Governor George Romney, pioneered over 40 years ago — and seems to have begun paving the way for spinning their eventual release by letting it be known that he is only paying somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% on his own vast income.
So he is catching some significant fire for this.
And Sarah Palin made a de facto endorsement of Gingrich last night on Sean Hannity’s Fox News chatfest.
Palin said she isn’t “formally” endorsing the ex-House speaker, but ripped Romney and said she would vote for Gingrich if she were voting in the South Carolina primary.
Former “First Dude” Todd Palin has already endorsed Gingrich.
Palin described Gingrich as a “Smokin’ Joe Frazier” for his winning debate performance on Monday night.
Romney still has two great advantages.
A divided and fairly inept set of opponents, though Gingrich is again finding his footing.
And a largely (any mysteriously) supportive news media.
Neither will be in play if he gets the nomination. Even if large elements of the media want to support Romney in the general election, they will get a major pushback from Obama and the Democrats.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … STATING THE STATE.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento and the Los Angeles area.
At 10 AM, Brown delivers the State of the State address in the Capitol.
He then travels to Los Angeles on the first day of a two-day tour of Southern California which on Thursday takes him to Orange County and San Diego.
At 2 PM, Brown delivers remarks at Los Angeles City Hall in the Board of Public Works Room.
At 4 PM, Brown meets with local teachers at Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank.
** EXTREMISM IN DEFENSE OF IRONY: BY ROMNEY’S RADICAL DEFINITION HIS OWN CHIEF STRATEGIST IS “ANTI-FREE ENTERPRISE.”
Q. “Do you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious, is it about jealousy, or is it about fairness?”
A. “You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare.”
Mitt Romney on The Today Show after his New Hampshire primary victory, reacting to criticism of his record as head of the unfortunately named Bain Capitol.
So much for the idea of Mitt Romney as a moderate. A chameleon or flip-flopper on social and environmental issues, sure, which in some circles counts as “moderate.” But on economic issues, a radical capitalist employing extreme rhetoric.
Shocked by being under fire from fellow Republicans for his work as a corporate takeover specialist, Romney and his allies have reacted with a semi-controlled hysteria, deeming any criticism of the era’s anything-goes financialized capitalism the functional equivalent of socialism. … From my January 15th essay.
** BOMBING BAIN: HOW DOES THE POLITICS OF WALL STREET GREED PLAY IN THE G.O.P.? There’s no little irony in the attacks being leveled on Mitt Romney’s adventures in capitalism by fellow Republicans. The Romney crew, and many doctrinaire Republicans in love with market ideology, are reacting with fury to any criticism of capitalism as being strictly out of bounds. A chief irony not yet remarked on is that Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist and media consultant, attacked Romney protege Meg Whitman for her own adventures in capitalism during the 2010 California’s governor’s race.
For the six years or so in which he has been running for president of the United States, Mitt Romney has been largely allowed by the media and his opponents to position himself as a “venture capitalist.” Which sounds very benign, conjuring up as it does visions of what venture capitalists do; i.e., provide seed capital and early capital and guidance for entrepreneurs with promising new products and services.
But, while Romney’s Bain Capital did some of that, the reality is that he was more of a leveraged buyout artist … From my January 10th column.
** JERRY BROWN 2.0 AT 1. … From my January 7th essay.
** IOWA THEN AND NOW. … From my December 30th essay.
** IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD CAST IN THE GOP’S RACE TO CASA BLANCA. … From my December 24th essay.
** KEYSTONE PIPELINE: SMALL PART OF A VERY BIG PICTURE. … From my December 21st essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: THE BIG TALK CAMPAIGN. … From my December 17th column.
** 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 $101 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $67 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 about $13 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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