In a hastily scheduled press conference this morning, President Barack Obama said that details on his new gun control proposals will be forthcoming in a matter of days.
** QUICK HITS. Former President George H.W. Bush, 88, hospitalized in Houston in late November with a bronchitis-like condition, was released today. … To make a long and complex story short, the California Legislative Analyst Office, a sometime critic of the Brown Administration, today concurred in Governor Jerry Brown’s assessment that he has produced a balanced state budget. “The state has reached a point where its underlying expenditures and revenues are roughly in balance.” … Brown, turning his attention to education policy, with a particular focus on higher education, will speak tomorrow morning at San Jose State University at an event about making higher ed more accessible through online courses. … Former California Senate and Assembly Republican Leader Jim Brulte is confirming he will go for the chairmanship of the troubled state GOP at its convention the first weekend in March in Sacramento. In the early Bush years, Brulte held a sort of co-regency position over the state’s fractious Republicans by White House designation with financier Gerry Parsky, who was California chair of the Bush/Cheney campaign.
** POWELL POSITIONS THE DEBATE OVER CHUCK HAGEL. There’s always more than one reason to make a major appointment. And one of the most important reasons for President Barack Obama to name former Senator Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense is to point up the problems of the current version of the Republican Party.
General Colin Powell appeared Sunday on Meet the Press to talk up former Senator Chuck Hagel’s appointment to be the next secretary of defense. Powell delivered a powerful performance on Hagel’s behalf, in the process delivering a pointed indictment of a Republican Party seized by Tea Party radicalism on the domestic front and neoconservative radicalism on the geopolitical front.
Last week, discussing why Obama chose the Hagel battle rather than the Susan Rice battle, I suggested that picking a fight over Hagel allows Obama to emphasize how radically conservative the Republican Party has become. For in the process the battle demonstrates how much support Hagel, and Obama himself, is garnering from moderate Republicans who increasingly find themselves forced out of their erstwhile party. Obama loves to position himself as a post-partisan, and few things make that easier than ramping up the contrast with radically conservative Republicans.
Neither Hagel nor Obama could have asked for a better witness on their behalf than Powell. Not unless Dwight Eisenhower himself got hold of a time machine.
Powell, who ran the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War victory of the Bush I administration and was secretary of state during the Bush II administration, had some choice comments to make about Hagel, Israel, reflexive interventionism, and the Republican Party, of which he still considers himself a member. …
** NEW SURVEY: SUPPORT FOR GUN CONTROL SHOOTS UPWARD, BUT STILL IS NOT AT A HIGH LEVEL. A new Gallup Poll survey in the month after the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut indicates that dissatisfaction with existing gun laws has increased markedly. But it still trails the support level for those who believe existing gun laws are adequate.
In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, and as Vice President Joe Biden leads a federal task force that will recommend ways to curb gun violence in the U.S., 38% of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws and want them strengthened. This is up from 25% who held this set of views a year ago, and is the highest since 2001. Still, more Americans are either satisfied with current gun laws, 43%, or think they should be loosened, 5%. …
After a decade of little change in Americans’ overall level of satisfaction with the nation’s gun laws, significantly more now express dissatisfaction and want laws to be stricter. It’s yet another sign that the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December have given Americans pause on the issue, at least in the short term.
Other recent Gallup polling shows Americans are not prepared to relinquish their Second Amendment rights, as majorities reject banning the possession of handguns by civilians, or even outlawing the manufacture or possession of certain “semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles”; but they are clearly more open to further restricting the sale of guns, including with more background checks and bans on high-capacity magazines. Thus, Biden’s task force enjoys a window of opportunity, albeit with apparent limits, to address Americans’ concerns about gun violence. …
French forces, receiving limited support from the US and more active support from the UK, are carrying out raids against jihadist forces whose offensive in Mali swiftly metastasized beyond what the United Nations envisioned.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … POWELL POSITIONS THE DEBATE OVER CHUCK HAGEL and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA AT 50: A TIMELESS EPIC RESTORED WITH TIMELESS LESSONS IN STORE.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then held an unscheduled press conference in the East Room to discuss the debt ceiling issue.
Obama is insisting that he will not allow budget cuts to be tied to financing expenditures that have already been made.
Biden met with Members of the House of Representatives in the Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg. as part of the Administration’s effort to develop policy proposals in response to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama participates in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office.
Obama’s schedule for the week ahead is remarkably vague and opaque, even for him.
On Monday, he will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony at the White House. The rest of the week, he will be in Washington holding meetings at the White House.
The fighting in Mali is continuing and apparently intensifying. Jihadist forces have continued advancing toward the capital, though they are still about 200 miles away.
France scrambled on Friday to mount a military response when the tattered government in Bamako reported that it was unable to stave off a suddenly mounted military offensive by fundamentalist Islamists, many of them reportedly closely aligned with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, thus raising the specter of Mali becoming the failed state base for transnational jihadist activities.
The United Nations Security Council, which late last year approved a joint West African intervention in Mali, will meet this week to address the accelerated situation there. West African leaders are gathering in Mali’s capital on Tuesday to work out the intervention of their troops, but the help won’t be arriving for a week or so.
The new war in Mali is swiftly unfolding. West African leaders are meeting in the capital city of Bamako on Tuesday to discuss deployment of their troops to defeat jihadist forces which are reportedly still advancing despite intense raids by the French.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: West Africa is eight hours ahead of Pacific time, 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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
** JERRY BROWN’S NEW BUDGET FOR POST-CRISIS CALIFORNIA: DISCIPLINE BEGETS OPPORTUNITY. … From my January 11th essay.
** WHY THE HAGEL BATTLE MADE MORE SENSE FOR OBAMA THAN THE RICE BATTLE. …
From my January 9th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S FUTURIST AGENDA: A TALE OF THREE GOVERNORS. … From my January 4th essay.
** THE CLIFFS WE AREN’T FALLING FROM (AND ONE FROM WHICH WE ARE). … From my December 15th column.
** EXIT SUSAN RICE. … From my December 13th column.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, appearing with action movie superstar rival-turned-pal Sylvester Stallone, presented the award for Best Foreign Film at Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Schwarzenegger’s new movie The Last Stand opens on Friday.
** 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 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $59 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 $21 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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