House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) lit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree this afternoon. The 65-foot Engelmann Spruce is from Colorado and decorated with 10,000 lights and thousands of ornaments made by the people of that Mountain West state.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … FROM THE NOTEBOOK: OBSERVATIONS ON JERRY BROWN’S PROP 30 WIN.
** QUICK HITS. Not an easy day of it for House Speaker John Boehner, working on a deal with President Barack Obama on the “fiscal cliff” issue. He and other Republicans countered with an offer which Obama says is totally insufficient, and many conservatives say is an unconscionable cave-in. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. … Some rougher times today in Cairo, where protesters against the December 15th referendum on a new constitution, which I believe Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will win, broke through police lines and had at the presidential palace, as well as the the Muslim Brother’s Freedom and Justice Party headquarters in Menia, just south of Cairo. … Meanwhile, following the failure of yesterday’s meeting on the Syrian crisis between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO today agreed to deploy American-made anti-air and anti-missile defenses to its member’s border with Syria. … NATO also echoed Obama’s warning to Syria’s Assad regime not to use chemical weapons against rebel forces which are making advances against regime forces. … As the laborious vote count nears its end in California, Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 revenue initiative is now nearly 11 points ahead, 55.3% to 44.7%. The victory margin is now over 1.3 million votes.
** NEW SURVEY: MOST STILL SAY THEY ARE AT LEAST SOMEWHAT RELIGIOUS. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that America is still a religious country. To a point.
Fully 69% say they are moderately or very religious, as they self-report on attending religious services and on the importance of religion in their lives.
But only 40% call themselves very religious, which equates to regular attendance at religious services and saying they view religion as an important factor in their lives.
The very religious are concentrated disproportionately in the Southern states and in the Republican Party.
The only major exclusion from that from a partisan standpoint is the African American community, which is the most religious of any ethnic or racial group in the country and is, of course, almost entirely Democratic.
The least religious regions of America are New England and the Pacific Northwest, which has a lot in common with New England both geographically and otherwise. Gallup doesn’t do it but I think it’s safe to include Northern California, dominated by my native San Francisco Bay Area, in the Pacific Northwest. The coastline from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border is much more Northwestern in character than Southern California.
America remains heavily Christian, with Protestantism dominant. But it is shrinking overall, and unaffiliated brands of religion are on the rise. The Catholic share of the population remains the same, but only due to growth in the Latino community.
Gallup argues that religion is going to become more important in American life, even as the existing religions remain essentially static. But that claim is based on extrapolation of past history, in which people more religious as they age. I’m not at all sure that will be the case.
* Religiousness increases with age, albeit not in a smooth path but rather in stages. Americans are least religious at age 23 and most religious at age 80.
* Women are significantly more religious than men, at all ages and within all race and ethnic groups. This is not an American anomaly; women are more religious than men in all but a small number of the more than 100 countries around the world in which Gallup has measured religion.
*Blacks are more religious than any other race or ethnic group in America.
*Mormons are the most religious of any specific religious group in America; Jews are the least.
Religiousness is highest in Southern states, including Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
*Religiousness is lowest in states located in the two northern corners of the country, including Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
*Upscale Americans are less religious than those with lower levels of education and income, but better-off Americans attend religious services just as often.
*There are substantial political differences in religiousness. Republicans are significantly more likely to say that religion is important in their daily lives and more likely to attend religious services regularly than either independents or Democrats.
* Blacks are a major exception to the significant correlation between religiousness and Republicanism. They are at the same time the most religious and the most Democratic race and ethnic group in America. …
President Barack Obama has warned Syria’s President Bashar al Assad against using chemical weapons on his own people as rebel forces make gains.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … FROM THE NOTEBOOK: OBSERVATIONS ON JERRY BROWN’S PROP 30 WIN.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
He and Vice President Joe Biden then met in the Roosevelt Room with some state governors to discuss economic revitalization and the federal budget deficit.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in the Oval Office.
Kabuki watch: After reacting in studied horror to Obama’s opening offer on the “fiscal cliff,” which naturally was heavily skewed to revenues, Republicans countered with an offer that was lighter on revenues. But nonetheless offered new revenues.
The negotiation is thus joined.
If you want to follow the breathless play by play on this kabuki play, consult your cable noise channel.
A new poll from Third Way indicates that Obama’s support base is center/left, not the sharp liberal base the many of his critics insist.
“Our data reveals that the Obama Coalition is far more moderate than people may suspect,” reports the poll from the Third Way organization.
“From the role of government, the size of deficits, and the level of taxes to social issues and the notion of compromise, the Obama Coalition holds center-left positions on a range of issues,” it added.
“Democrats were victorious this year not because they played to the wings, but because President Obama effectively built a center-out coalition.”
Third Way says its data shows that Obama voters “place themselves in the center ideologically:
“The Obama Coalition is composed primarily of moderates and liberals, with slightly more, 42%, identifying as a moderate and 40% as a liberal. Another 14% call themselves conservatives.
“According to our poll, nearly three-fifths of the President’s support came from self-described moderates and conservatives.
This breakdown tracks closely with exit poll data, which shows that 42.7% of Obama voters were liberal, 45.6% were moderate, and 11.8% were conservative.”
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
Less than four months ago, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars. Since then, scientists at the deep space command center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California have been testing the rover’s instruments and taking samples of Martian soil, in order to analyze the compounds and send its data back here to Earth. They have just given their first full update on what they have discovered.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Los Angeles.
He attends the Democratic Governors Association Winter Meeting today at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Tomorrow night, Brown and First Lady/Special Advisor Anne Gust Brown will preside over the annual lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree.
His predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is joined by his old friend director James Cameron and several others in producing Years of Living Dangerously, a limited run series on climate change to appear in late 2013 on Showtime. The series will have six to eight hour-long episodes, and will be narrated by Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Alec Baldwin.
I’ll have much more on this, of course.
California’s new state legislature convened yesterday, with the Assembly featuring the largest freshman class since 1966, fully one-third of the house. Both parties affirmed their existing leaders going forward, notwithstanding the big losses suffered by Republicans, with the Dems going with Assembly Speaker John Perez and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and the Republicans retaining Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway. Democrats had been expected to win a super-majority in the Senate, but the Republicans’ drop below their super-minority blocking status in the Assembly was a surprise.
President Obama has asked Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to stay on as chair of the Democratic National Committee. This forecloses an option that outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had been very actively exploring. Villaraigosa has long been interested in running for governor, but dropped out of the race in 2009 in favor of Brown, who I am certain is running again in 2014.
Villaraigosa is also looking at a potential Cabinet spot, which could be the transportation secretary slot.
** OBAMA PRACTICES KABUKI WAR AT HOME WHILE MANAGING POTENTIAL WAR ABROAD. … From my December 3rd essay.
** WAR OF THE WORDS: A NEARLY FOUR DECADE VENDETTA AGAINST JERRY BROWN. … From my November 29th feature.
** “JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT…”: OBAMA PUSHES THE GEOPOLITICAL PIVOT AMIDST ANCIENT ENMITIES. … From my November 27th essay.
** JERRY BROWN RIDES A WAVE WITH NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS. … From my November 20th essay.
** SKYFALL IN PERSPECTIVE. … From my November 15th essay.
** SUSAN RICE, MCCAIN, OBAMA AND THE NEXT SECRETARY OF STATE. … From my November 14th column.
** VETERANS DAY IN A STILL DEEPLY FRACTURED AMERICA.…From my November 12th column.
** HOW JERRY BROWN PULLED OFF THE BIG PROP 30 WIN. … From my November 8th 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 major military operations 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 $88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $54 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 $26 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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