Former Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s pick as the next secretary of defense, faces a grilling tomorrow morning in his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Despite the strong backing of a host of Republican former secretaries of state and defense, national security advisors, and senators, current Senate Republicans are laying off their former colleague. The festivities begin Thursday at 6:30 AM Pacific.
** QUICK HITS. Dramatic testimony today on gun control with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords returning to Capitol Hill. The emotional edge, and to a certain degree the popular edge, is with President Obama and pro-gun control forces. But only to the point at which it runs against deep-seated culture in key states, and with a very slender advantage on the core proposals to eliminate assault rifles and high-volume ammunition magazines. … Look for fireworks during Thursday morning Senate confirmation hearing on Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel. Meanwhile, the first current Republican senator to endorse Hagel has just done so. He is Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran. Hagel will be introduced/sponsored at the hearing by former Senate Armed Services Chairmen Sam Nunn (D-Georgia) and John Warner (R-Virginia). … As I wrote this morning, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appears with various international leaders in a live webcast from his R20 climate and energy conference in Vienna tomorrow morning from 8 AM to 9 AM. http://www.usc.edu/schools/price/video/climate.html
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER.
** NEW SURVEY: BLUE OR GOLD? ER, THAT IS, BLUE OR RED? A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that there are more blue states than red states in the US. That is to say, more Democratic states than Republican states.
Amusingly, or intriguingly — or tellingly — depending upon your perspective, Gallup doesn’t rate California as one of the bluest states in the US.
There were more solidly blue states than solidly red states in the U.S. in 2012, by a margin of 20 to 12. After the District of Columbia, the most Democratic-leaning states in 2012 were Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts — where Democrats held at least 20-percentage-point advantages in party identification. Republicans enjoyed this lopsided an advantage in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. …
Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, and Delaware round out the top 10 most Democratic states. Thus, eight of the top 10 are located in the East.
The top 10 Republican states have a very different geographic profile, with three of the states located in the Midwest (North Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas), two in the South (Alabama and Oklahoma), and five in the West. …
Fourteen states met the threshold for “solid Democratic” states in 2012, adding Michigan and Minnesota to the 12 that met that threshold in 2011. The Democrats had a net loss of one Democratic-leaning state, losing West Virginia and Kentucky (in addition to Michigan and Minnesota), but picking up Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oregon. Thus, overall, 20 states were in the Democratic column in 2012, up from 19 in 2011, but still significantly fewer than Gallup found in 2008 and 2009.
In 2012, Republicans lost a total of five GOP-advantage states, including four Republican-leaning states (Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas) and one solid Republican state (South Dakota). While down from a total of 17 states in 2011, the Republicans’ current 12 remains higher than in 2008 through 2010.
As a result of these various shifts, there were four more “competitive” states in 2012 than in 2011, for a total of 19 — nearly double the number seen in Gallup’s baseline year of 2008. …
Of particular importance politically, six of the Democratic states are among the 10 most populous in the country: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. By contrast, the most populous Republican state is Alabama, ranking 23rd in population. Although Texas has voted Republican in each of the past nine presidential elections, Gallup classifies it as competitive, given that slightly more of its residents identify as or lean Republican than Democratic.
Underscoring the regional separation of red and blue states, only six states share a border with a state oriented to the opposing party: Oregon and Washington, with Idaho; North Dakota with Minnesota; and New Mexico with Oklahoma — with the last two barely qualifying. …
The National Rifle Association pushed back against new gun control proposals this morning on Capitol Hill.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 12:55 PM Pacific, Obama is interviewed by Jose Diaz Balart of Telemundo in the Library.
At 1:15 PM Pacific, Obama is interviewed by Maria Elena Salinas of Univision in the Library.
Obama is following up today on the unveiling yesterday in Las Vegas of his immigration reform initiative, which is fairly familiar.
There is hope among advocates that action will take place. Republicans have noticed that they are getting absolutely killed with Latino voters. And John McCain is back for another swing at the target that so spectacularly eluded him, nearly taking down his presidential campaign in the process, in 2007.
But this issue is only one aspect of that. And the far right contingent in the House is very widespread. For them, opposition on immigration is an article of faith in their view of America. It wasn’t that hard to spin up a very counter-productive, for Republicans, debate over illegal immigration in the 2010 California Republican gubernatorial primary, for example.
So the news there for Obama is still mixed.
Obama also has mixed tidings on gun control. The National Rifle Association is pushing back hard, and the Democrats will have trouble holding all their senators on this issue.
Obama got very mixed news on the economy as well.
For one, the gross domestic product actually contracted in the last quarter, although only by 0.1%. Few are talking double dip recession, but it is bad news.
On the other hand, the economy added 192,000 jobs in January, according to a report from a reputable payroll processor.
Now that the lovefest for Secretary of State-to-be John Kerry has taken place, it’s time for some more divisive moments. Former Senator Chuck Hagel has his Senate confirmation hearing on his appointment to be secretary of defense coming up Thursday morning.
CIA pick John Brennan is up after Hagel. Much more to follow, of course.
The only senators to vote against Kerry were the two Republicans from Texas and noted greenhouse denier James Inhofe of Oklahoma. Kerry, whose confirmation was approvingly tweeted by his old friend, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, promises to make climate change a top priority.
While France and Malian government forces are rolling up the territory previously seized by jihadists, it’s not as a result of winning pitched battles and inflicting heavy casualties on the opponents. The situation has notably improved, but it’s hardly over.
The US is getting a new military base in Africa. Niger has given permission for US surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara.
The jihadist issue in the region is why the US has just acquired a new drone base in Niger. It’s publicly for surveillance purposes, but it’s not hard to re-purpose those aircraft for strike missions.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving Mali and Algeria, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: Mali 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 Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILES. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosts a major conference on Thursday and Friday in Vienna, Austria. Included is a live webcast Thursday morning.
This is an international conference organized by Schwarzenegger’s R20 organization of sub-national leaders around the globe on “Implementing the Sustainable Energy Future.”
The event is co-hosted by several arms of the United Nations, along with the Assembly of European Regions and the Nobel Sustainability Trust. The agenda can be viewed here.
Among those speaking at the conference in addition to Schwarzenegger are President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization Kandeh Yumkella, and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.
Yumkellah and Faymann are both also on the board of the new USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, which will hold a webcast live from Vienna from 8 AM to 9 AM Pacific on Thursday morning.
** THE STATE OF JERRY BROWN’S STATUS: AFTER THE STATE OF THE STATE. … From my January 30th essay.
** OBAMA’S CLEAR YET MUTED TRUMPET: HOPE’S AUDACITY MEETS LOWERED EXPECTATIONS. … From my January 23rd essay.
** HOW NOT TO STAGE MANAGE THE WORLD. … From my January 18th column.
** POWELL POSITIONS THE DEBATE OVER CHUCK HAGEL. … From my January 14th essay.
** 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.
San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh says the team has “enthusiasm unknown to mankind” in preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl. No hype there. New quarterback Colin Kaepernick says extra time to prepare gives him an advantage over the Baltimore Ravens.
** 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 $97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $63 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 $17 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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