Billionaire Foster Friess, who is floating Rick Santorum’s campaign with his “independent” super PAC contributions, introduced Santorum today at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. But first he told this joke, about a conservative, a moderate, and a liberal who walk into a bar, badump, to be greeted by the bartender with “Hi, Mitt!”
** QUICK HITS. Mitt Romney ran into some concerted fire at today’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, despite calling himself “severely conservative.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term before. … Ron Paul, who won last year’s CPAC straw poll, isn’t there this year. He’s trying to win his first state of the year, up in Maine, where they began caucusing at the beginning of the week and wrap things up on Saturday. … Maine is a state that is inherently open to challengers. On the Democratic side, Gary Hart swept it in 1984 and Jerry Brown won Maine in 1992. … Speaking of California politics, state Controller John Chiang announced today that the state’s revenues lagged in January over 5% below what Brown projected in his new budget. So much for Democratic legislative complaints that Brown’s forecasts were too pessimistic, the better for them to avoid his budget cuts. But why is it happening as the economy improves? … Californian had its all-time best export trade year in 2011, even surpassing the high of 2000 when the economy was still booming. … A federal judge today issued what looks to be the coda to conservative Republican efforts to block the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s new maps, this time the congressional ones, dismissing their lawsuit. …
** NEW SURVEY: AMERICAN NON-EXCEPTIONALISM — THE WORLD’S LEADING ECONOMIC POWER IS … CHINA. A new Gallup Poll survey, taken with the US economy showing more promising signs of partial recovery from the deep pit it occupied in the great global recession has some sobering news.
Despite these signs of recovery, most Americans, by a wide margin in the latest Gallup Poll survey, think that China is now the world’s leading economic power.
And they think that will be the case moving into the future, as well.
In fact, the margin by which Americans believe this has gone up, in the face of recovering US economic confidence.
A decade ago, there was no question that Americans viewed America as the leading global economic power, both then and heading into the future.
Intriguingly, younger Americans are by far the most likely to view China as the preeminent economic power.
Over 60% of those under 50 think that way. But of those 65 and up, 50% still think that the US is the leading economic power.
Of course, there is more to global power than GDP, which is another matter entirely, as China’s leaders are clearly very well aware.
Incidentally, in reality, the US IS the world’s leading economic power. Still.
The popular perception is wrong.
Americans believe China is the leading economic power in the world today, by a significant margin over the United States. This is the second consecutive year the majority of Americans have viewed China as economically dominant; previously, China held a smaller lead. By contrast, in 2000, Americans overwhelmingly believed the U.S. was the leading economic power. …
The U.S. economic downturn and the continued expansion of the Chinese economy are the likely factors behind Americans’ belief that China is the world’s top economic power.
Still, the vast majority of Americans name either the U.S. or China as the world’s leading economic power. Relatively few Americans regard Japan (7%), the European Union (3%), India (2%), or Russia (less than 1%) in those terms. Japan has ranked third in recent years, but finished ahead of China in 2000. …
Looking ahead, Americans still expect China to be the leading economic power in 20 years, but by a slightly smaller margin over the United States, 46% to 38%. These opinions, though similar to last year’s, have shifted in the past. In 2000, when the U.S. economy was strong, and in 2009, shortly after Barack Obama took office, more Americans believed the U.S. rather than China would be the top economic power in the future. In 2008, just as the recession was beginning, and in the last two years as the economy has continued to stagnate, a plurality of Americans have thought China would be the top power in the future.
Surging Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum took on President Obama and his policies toward health care and contraception today at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
** NEW POLL: SANTORUM SURGE! Can you feel the mo?
It’s the Rick Santorum surge.
Coming off his Tuesday trifecta, in which he ripped putative Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is now matching Romney nationwide in polling for Fox News completed after Tuesday’s vote.
In the Wednesday and Thursday night results, it’s Santorum 30% and Romney 30%. Newt Gingrich is at 16% for those two nights, with Ron Paul at 16%.
In the two nights prior to news of Santorum’s victories, Santorum ran well back nationally, with 17% to Romney’s 35% and Gingrich’s 26%, as Paul trails again at 14%.
In other words, Santorum’s support nationally essentially doubled overnight.
Looking at the results from all four nights of this week’s interviewing, Romney is first with 33%, with Santorum 23%, Gingrich 22%, and Paul 15% following along.
But clearly those numbers are now obsolete.
President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign released this video to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his formal announcement of candidacy in Springfield, Illinois.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Obama then signed H.R. 3801 with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former space shuttle commander and Navy Captain Mark Kelly, and Biden in attendance in the Oval Office.
This bill, which cracks down on the use of ultra-light aircraft in smuggling, was the last to be introduced and voted upon by Giffords prior to her resignation from the House in January. Giffords is recovering from the severe brain injury caused by the shocking assassination attempt on her last year, but has a long road ahead.
At 9:15 AM Pacific, Obama delivers a statement in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. This is an announcement of compromise in the dispute over whether to require health insurance coverage of contraception for female employees of religious institutions.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama attends a fundraiser at The Jefferson Hotel.
Today is the fifth anniversary of Obama’s announcement of his candidacy for president, which he made at the Illinois state capitol in Springfield.
The Obama Administration is setting out a compromise in the dispute over whether to require full contraception insurance coverage for female employees at religiously affiliated institutions. Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees.
Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to any women who work at such institutions.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday approved the first new nuclear plant in a generation, since 1978 actually, near Augusta, Georgia. In 1979, Three Mile Island, The China Syndrome, and very high costs put an end to new nuclear development in the US. But Obama has always been pro-nuclear, as well as pro-renewables, notwithstanding all the criticism he takes from the right. Some other countries, like Germany, which is phasing out its heavy reliance on nuclear power in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster, are going in the opposite direction.
The Republican presidential candidates — intriguingly sans Ron Paul — are appearing today at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Meanwhile, Obama is dealing with major geopolitical crises.
Right-wing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who made an under the radar trip to Washington this week, met with 15 UN ambassadors yesterday in New York, again rattling the Israeli saber in the event that diplomacy and sanctions fail with Iran’s nuclear program.
The Assad regime continues its assault on protesters, despite Tuesday’s visit from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Major blasts hit Syria’s second largest city of Aleppo today, which the Assad regime blamed on its opponents. The regime’s bloody crackdown against protesters continues, despite an international outcry, sanctions, and diplomatic efforts.
Turkey is joining the call for the formation of an International Contact Group on Syria, not unlike the International Contact Group on Libya.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has again decried last weekend’s veto by Russia and China of a UN Security Council resolution against the Assad regime.
Now John McCain and others are calling for the US to seriously explore arming the Syrian rebels.
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 and Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown speaks tomorrow at the California Democratic Party convention in San Diego, which I’ll be attending as usual, though little of any real consequence is likely to take place there.
The highlight, as it were, of the weekend, aside from speeches by Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and other California notables, will a speech by Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
The major piece of business will be the doling out of party endorsements. Some of the local fights are quite heated this year, with redistricting reform and the new open primary scrambling the accustomed dynamics. In particular, there is a big fight between LA Congressman Howard Berman, an old associate in the Hart for President campaign, and LA Congressman Brad Sherman, forced to fight it out in the same district.
Brown is a big backer of Berman, who authored the Agricultural Labor Relations Act while majority leader of the state Assembly.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters yesterday that, despite the end of a public pension reform initiative campaign, he intends to pass a version of pension reform before the state budget is adopted.
This is a major Brown priority, one which he feels is essential in helping pass his revenue initiative in November.
Brown spoke last night at the unveiling in LA of Tesla Motors’ new SUV, the Model X.
The X, slated to go into production late next year, will be built in Tesla’s factory in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fremont.
It’s an SUV, by the way, which will do 0 to 60 in a stunning 4.4 seconds, which is Porsche 911 territory.
Brown hailed Tesla as an exemplar of the “tremendous creativity” that will lead California out of its present straits into the future.
Embracing his old nickname, Brown said: “As Governor Mooonbeam, you know I like rocket ships, and I also like electric cars.”
Tesla Motors, probably the world’s most famous electric car company and a particular favorite of Brown’s predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is best known for its halo car, the Tesla Roadster.
** RICKROLLED: ROMNEY WILL BE “INEVITABLE” AGAIN WHEN … So, when will Mitt Romney be “inevitable,” again? And why are his weaknesses and failures a constant source of surprise?
Romney will be the inevitable challenger to Barack Obama when and if he walks on stage in Tampa to deliver his acceptance speech. A good start would be winning somewhere with a positive message, rather than the avalanche of negativity he’s relied on so far in taking only three of the first eight states, losing three in embarrassing landslides.
As to why the ever “inevitable” Romney’s repeated belly flops come as surprise, well, chalk it up to a sort of hive media phenomenon.
Romney, naturally, is doing what he always does.
His new move, having lost three states in Tuesday night’s big blow-out, is to attack Rick Santorum. As “an insider.” (Actually, he is a far right neocon fundamentalist.) Like Romney is an “outsider?”
The “outsider” Romney is in Washington Thursday raising money from lobbyists. He’s even designating “Industry Finance Chairs” for the oil and energy, finance, and defense sectors. So much for being an “outsider.” … From my February 9th essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION, THE BIG NEVADA BUST, THE ROAD AHEAD (AND THE RISE OF RICK?). The bust that was the Nevada Republican presidential caucuses revealed much about brewing Republican swing state problems and the decided limitations of both Mitt Romney’s candidacy and that of his most persistent pursuer, Newt Gingrich. Which in the latest twist may redound to the benefit of the unsung winner of Iowa, Rick Santorum. … From my February 7th essay.
** ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT SILVER: HOW NEVADA AND THE WEST GOT SHORT-CHANGED. One of the major untold stories in this wacky election season is how far off plan the Republican presidential primaries have gotten.
The Republican Party planned to copy what the Democrats did in their 2008 election cycle. Stage four early contests, spaced out over time, with one state from each of the major regions, with each of the selected states small enough that prior fame and big money on the part of some competitors would not overwhelm a candidate’s ability to break through.
In the process, the candidates would be forced to learn about regional issues that were not part of the usual Beltway/East Coast “national” media lexicon, and develop a way to appeal to voters in key regions. … From my February 3rd column.
** WHAT LIGHT FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE? What light has been shed by the Florida Republican presidential primary? It’s not easy to see how Newt Gingrich wins. And it’s not hard to see how Mitt Romney falls. … From my February 2nd column.
** REPUBLICANS LOSE BIG ON REDISTRICTING GAMBLE, BROWN MOVES FORWARD. … From my January 30th essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: WILL GINGRICH BLOW IT (AGAIN)? … From my January 26th essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: UNDERLYING THE DECIDEDLY UNDEAD. … From my January 20th column.
** STATING THE STATE: JERRY BROWN GETS DISCIPLINED AND LAYS IT OUT. … 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.
** 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.
NASA has released a stunning time-lapse video made up of over 500 still images of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. The shots were taken from the International Space Station.
** 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 $99 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $65 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 $15 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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