Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined a plan today for absorbing $487 billion in defense cuts over the coming decade. It can be done, said the veteran California political figure, by shrinking U.S. ground forces (principally the Army and less so, the Marines), slowing the purchase of a next generation stealth fighter, and retiring older planes and ships.
** QUICK HITS. The big Republican presidential debate is at 5 PM Pacific in Jacksonville, Florida on CNN. Here is the live link. … Tonight at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce dinner, Governor Jerry Brown lays out what he’s dubbed a “Call To Action” to LA business leaders to stand with him on his public pension reform plan and his balanced budget plan, which includes his temporary tax hike initiative. … Alarmed by Brown’s work with the business community, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association joined forces with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a fixture in far right circles, to urge business leaders not to succumb to Brown’s blandishments. … Brown also appears tonight on the NBC Nightly News in an exclusive interview with former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw on his new/renewed governorship and national political dynamics.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: WILL GINGRICH BLOW IT (AGAIN)? Most in the media and political worlds are now adjusting to the reality that Mitt Romney is not “inevitable.” But that doesn’t mean that Newt Gingrich can’t blow it. Again.
After all, as I pointed out last week here on the Huffington Post, before Gingrich’s landslide win in South Carolina, the supposedly politically dead ex-House speaker has blown golden opportunities to put Romney away before.
Romney is a hollow man, whose only consistent ideology is radical capitalism, as he showed when he denounced any criticism of his financialized capitalism as tantamount to socialism, and notions of his own success. He’s been an accident waiting to happen for a long time, notwithstanding endless hype to the contrary.
But Gingrich is a political Bibendum, a Michelin Man, someone who, too frequently, becomes puffed up like an alarmingly over-inflated tire at high speeds.
Now he’s racing with Romney in Florida, having suddenly overcome the ex-leveraged buyout artist’s huge lead there despite weeks of massive advertising on Romney’s behalf.
Gingrich doesn’t have to win Florida, since this contest comes with an asterisk. There’s been a lot of early voting there by people who were hearing only the Romney message. And there is the massive spending for Romney, some $15.4 million, to $6 million or so on Gingrich’s behalf.
But winning Florida, which Gingrich can do, would certainly be best, and could end up putting Romney’s candidacy down for good.
What should he do? …
From my new essay.
** NEW SURVEY: OBAMA’S STATE OF THE UNION ALMOST ENTIRELY IN LINE WITH VOTERS’ VIEWS. A new breakdown of polling data by the Gallup Poll reveals a very good reason why President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night found very widespread favor with voters.
It was essentially structured along lines that they have already approved.
I wonder if they look at polls in the White House. Hmm …
Here are the issue areas in which Obama was largely or even entirely in line with popular opinion:
Getting out of Iraq. People were tired of this war, one of the biggest geopolitical mistakes in American history, a long time ago.
Killing Osama bin Laden and prosecuting the war on terrorism. This is a big winner for Obama.
Pride in the US Armed Forces. It’s the most admired institution in the US.
Changing the corporate tax code to reward job creation at home. Voters are getting hip to the off-shore/out-source issue in a big way.
Trade policy with China. More favor playing tougher with a rising China economic power.
Job training. Big majorities for increased job training programs. When is there not?
Illegal immigration. While most want stronger border security, a big majority favors steps to allow illegal immigrants already here to remain, and a smaller majority wants the children of illegals to gain legal status automatically by attending college of joining the armed forces.
Oil and gas exploration. Most want more oil and natural gas development in the US.
Alternative energy development. Big majorities favor more government intervention to help the renewable energy industry, and agree with Obama that it should be preferred over the traditional oil industry which has reaped a century of big government subsidies.
Infrastructure. Big majorities agree with Obama that more infrastructure spending is needed, and that it is a good source of good jobs in the process.
Tax fairness. Most agree with Obama that the tax system is unfair, and that the wealthy need to pay more.
Government gridlock. Most everyone agrees that Washington is dysfunctional. Trick question to see who’s napping.
Governmental efficiency. Negative views of the federal government, its size, power, and efficiency, have grown to near record levels. Most agree with Obama that it needs to become more efficient, even as many continue to fear it.
Defense. Obama is pushing a plan for an improved yet leaner military. That tracks with popular attitudes. Most are pleased with the armed forces in terms of strength and preparedness, while mindful of possible future threats such as cyberwar. But voters are torn on the question of military spending, with a 39% plurality saying we spend too much, 35% saying the right amount, and 22% too little. The latter group is the one being addressed by the Republican presidential candidates, who claim that Obama is eviscerating our military strength.
The only areas not so much?
Economic fairness. Gallup has polling indicating a split over whether or not the US economy is unfair in general, even as it has other polling showing a strong desire to tax the rich more heavily, with strong distrust of the financial sector.
The improving state of the Union. You’ve seen the numbers here on that. Widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, even as economic confidence rises.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 2:30 PM Pacific, President Barack Obama delivers remarks on energy security at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado. At 10 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the new energy economy in Las Vegas, Nevada. The events are netcast live here on New West Notes. If you want to mute the audio, click 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.
President Barack Obama visited Conveyor Engineering and Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa yesterday on his “An America That’s Built To Last” post-State of the Union tour, reminiscing some about the state that gave him his breakthrough victory in 2008.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Nevada, Colorado, and Michigan.
At 10 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at UPS Las Vegas South about the new energy economy.
This event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 12:05 PM Pacific, Obama departs Las Vegas on Air Force en route Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado.
At 2:30 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Buckley Air Force Base on American energy and the steps his administration is taking to promote energy security.
This event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 3:15 PM Pacific, Obama departs Aurora, Colorado on Air Force One en route Detroit, Michigan.
At 5:30 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Detroit.
Obama is on Day 2 of his post-State of the Union An America That’s Built To Last Tour.
Polls show that his address was very well-received by most voters.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are raging.
In Congress, they are trying to take away Obama’s power to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, hoping instead to vest it in an industry-friendly regulatory body.
This is a desperation move, since they’ve been acknowledging Obama and the State Department’s authority all along.
And battles are raging in the Republican presidential race. The Republican presidential field debates tonight in Jacksonville on CNN.
The Drudge Report and other right-wing media fixtures are launching a coordinated assault on Newt Gingrich. Their problem, aside from the merits or demerits of their case, is that if he wins they become far less relevant as a lobbying force in the Republican Party.
Angry Congressional Republicans are trying to strip President Barack Obama of his authority over the controversial proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. The attempt is probably unconstitutional.
The race is quite volatile now, with signs that Mitt Romney has recovered some of his past position in the Florida primary.
Gingrich vowed yesterday in Florida, historic home of the manned space program, that he will establish a Moon base by 2020. The crowd was favorably disposed. Rival Mitt Romney likes to make fun of the space program.
Romney and his forces have accelerated their spending in Florida, with more than $15 million accounted for, just a few days after the total looked like $13 million.
Gingrich and his backers are spending less than half that.
Obama is monitoring a variety of geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, Iraq, Iran and Israel.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Southern California.
At 12:30 PM, he celebrates the 50th anniversary of San Juan Capistrano at an event at El Adobe De Capistrano Restaurant.
At 7 PM, he attends and addresses the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Inaugural Dinner at the JW Marriott at LA Live.
Some higher ed leaders are starting to get it in California. The California State University board of trustees voted yesterday to set some limits on new campus president salaries. Top staff pay and perks have been going up in the CSU and UC systems while big cutbacks hit elsewhere.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: UNDERLYING THE DECIDEDLY UNDEAD. Back from the dead. Again. Newt Gingrich. Amazing, isn’t it?
What’s actually amazing is that Gingrich was “dead” in the first place.
The fact is that the ex-House speaker had the Republican race in his hands last month and then proceeded to blow it.
And Mitt Romney is one of the most hollow, and hyped, political figures to come down the track in some time. He’s a consultant culture dream candidate: Big money and heavily into “messaging.” However, messaging, i.e., constantly repeating crafted talking points, is often not the same as having a message, which is why what he says is so malleable and chameleon-like. It’s obvious that there is very little that interests Romney besides success.
It’s a combination of unforced Gingrich errors, erroneous media coverage, and Romney’s nature peeking out all too often from behind the slick facade that has led to these seemingly shocking twists and turns. … From my January 20th column.
** STATING THE STATE: JERRY BROWN GETS DISCIPLINED AND LAYS IT OUT. Straighten out the chronic crisis of the present and move the state forward into the future. That’s Jerry Brown’s mission as governor of California this time around, which he laid out rather clearly in his new State of the State address.
He’s also making progress early on in clearing the field for his revenue initiative in November.
Brown has articulated everything he said in this speech before. But he hadn’t framed it up and put it all together in a coherent way, preferring too often to rely on his improvisational rhetorical skills. And he certainly hadn’t ventured out from the capital in the North in any sustained manner to push his program around the state, yet he followed this State of the State address by, in essence, bringing the State of the State to several communities across Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday. … From my January 19th feature.
** EXTREMISM IN DEFENSE OF IRONY: BY ROMNEY’S RADICAL DEFINITION HIS OWN CHIEF STRATEGIST IS “ANTI-FREE ENTERPRISE.” … From my January 15th essay.
** BOMBING BAIN: HOW DOES THE POLITICS OF WALL STREET GREED PLAY IN THE G.O.P.? … 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 $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 about $14 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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