Appearing today in Minneapolis, Minnesota, President Barack Obama rallied support for his post-Newtown, Connecticut package of gun control proposals, including an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun buyers. The National Rife Association opposes both of those big proposals.
** QUICK HITS. Senator John McCain, who clashed memorably with former Senator Chuck Hagel last Thursday during Hagel’s confirmation hearing as secretary of defense, today said that he opposes any filibuster against Hagel’s nomination. He said he has not yet decided whether to vote for or against his old compadre. … This is a definite boost for Hagel, for it makes it harder for any less substantial Republican to try to block Hagel’s confirmation via the filibuster gambit, which would require 60 votes to break. … If you are wondering what happened to the notion of reforming away the filibuster, which these days is not really a filibuster at all as no one is required to actually filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided not to pursue it. Have you noticed the sounds of silence on that? … Texas Governor Rick Perry, in the midst of trying to revive his public persona after having it shredded during his dreadful presidential race, today unveiled a radio ad he says will lure California businesses to the Lone Star State. (A radio ad, really?) … For his part, Governor Jerry Brown replied to a press question on that exactly as you might suppose, following an event in Los Angeles with international business investors pursuing their dreams in the Golden State. He scoffed at the notion. But what he said for the record was polite, sort of, something about anyone “with half a brain” being interested in poaching California’s innovation. Perry, of course, was noted in his presidential campaign for being less than highly knowledgeable.
** NEW SURVEY: LATINO APPROVAL OF OBAMA UP. A new Gallup Poll survey has good news for President Barack Obama and Democrats eager to lock down the emerging Latino vote for the Democratic Party.
Fully 70% of Latino voters favor the Obama is doing as president; that’s up from 58% before the Democratic National Convention in August.
Obama crushed conservative Republican nominee Mitt Romney among Latino voters, 71% to 27%.
This survey indicates that Obama is holding on to Latino support without the prod of a threatening Republican on the other side of the equation.
One-third of the Gallup surveys were conducted in Spanish.
The timing of the increase in Obama’s approval rating among Hispanics suggests the presidential election campaign may have been a significant factor in Hispanics’ renewed enthusiasm for him, starting with the Democratic National Convention in early September through the election and the initial post-election phase. According to the National Exit Poll, Hispanics voted for Obama over Mitt Romney by 71% to 27%.
Obama’s popularity is also up among all Americans since late summer, rising from 45% in August to 52% in January, though the January estimate is also down slightly from December’s 53%. That seven-point August to January increase among all Americans is only about half as large as the increase for Hispanics over the same months.
Hispanic job approval of Obama is now nearly back to where it was early in his first year in office, when roughly three in four Hispanics approved of Obama. The early part of 2009 — the president’s “honeymoon period” — was also when Obama’s approval rating was highest among all Americans. …
Throughout his presidency, there has been an average 13-point gap between the approval rating of Hispanics (62%) and that of all Americans (49%). Now, the gap stands at 18 points, 70% to 52%, indicating Hispanics are becoming some of the president’s most ardent supporters. Among major subgroups Gallup tracks, only blacks (92%), Democrats (90%), and liberals (82%) had a higher January approval rating for Obama than Hispanics.
Even with a slight decline in his approval rating among Hispanics in January, President Obama now enjoys as strong a position with this group as he has since early in his presidency. A major priority of his second term is immigration reform, an issue of keen interest to Hispanics. Should it pass — and the momentum toward action on immigration reform is gathering, with key Republicans in the House and Senate co-sponsoring bills — Obama’s approval among Hispanics may go even higher. …
Israeli air strikes inside Syria have upped the stakes for that country’s internal conflict.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
An interesting week ahead in presidential politics, perhaps less so in California politics.
President Barack Obama keeps pushing on his appointments of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and John Brennan as CIA director. Hagel had a relatively rough time of it in his confirmation hearing last week. But as I discuss in the piece linked below, he is very much a top priority for the president and didn’t do anything to disqualify himself.
Obama let the ballyhooed White House Jobs Council lapse last week. It hadn’t met for over a year and frankly was something of an embarrassment ever since it came out that General Electric, whose CEO chaired the council, availed itself of all sorts of techniques to avoid paying taxes on its highly lucrative global operations.
But he has to do something to get some action going on the economy. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like it’s coming this week.
Instead, Obama pushes his gun control agenda and meets in private retreats with Senate and House Democrats.
He also has a lot of geopolitical crisis management on his plate.
While France, with some technical assistance from the US, has matters well in hand, at least at the moment, in Mali, the Syrian crisis is reaching another critical stage.
Israel launched air strikes inside Syria last week, apparently to block the movement of advance anti-aircraft weapons Hezbollah in Lebanon and to hit Syrian chemical and biological weapon capability.
In a good sign, Assad regime ally Russia has begun speaking with the Syrian opposition.
Then there is the longstanding crisis with Iran. Israel’s election results last month, in which center/left forces did much better than expected, strengthened the hand of skeptics about war with Iran. Over the weekend at the annual Munich Security Conference gathering of national security leaders, Vice President Joe Biden — now on a tour of European capitals — announced that the US is open to direct talks with Iran.
While there won’t be any roll-out of a big Obama economic plan this week, the Federal Communications Commission is coming out with a stunning plan to knit the country together online.
Through a vast network of free public WiFi.
This was discussed as a project in San Francisco in the middle of the past decade, in a nascent alliance between Google, Earthlink, and the Gavin Newsom Administration, but nothing came of it. Perhaps because Earthlink is an Internet service provider and could see a big part of its business disappearing.
Google backs the national plan, along with Microsoft and other non ISPs, according to reports in the Washington Post.
“The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month. The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea.”
Google and Microsoft are not in the business of selling access, they’re in the business of selling devices to use that access.
As I noted a few weeks back, despite what we think of our technological leadership, America actually trails many nations in the proportion of its population which has home access to the Internet.
Here’s what Obama’s week looks like.
On Monday, Obama will travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota to push his gun control agenda. Minneapolis is a city that has taken a number of steps to reduce gun violence. Obama returns to Washington in the evening.
On Tuesday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Wednesday, Obama will attend the Democratic Senate Caucus Retreat in Annapolis, Maryland.
On Thursday, Obama will deliver remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. In the afternoon, he will travel to Leesburg, Virginia to deliver remarks at the House Democratic Issues Conference.
On Friday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
For his part, Governor Jerry Brown, now back in stealth mode, is working on getting to know the new legislature and pushing his popular budget and his Think Big agenda, which I discuss in the essay linked below.
He’s also getting ready to pay up on his Super Bowl bet with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
Brown bet what I think is a first edition copy of Carey McWilliams’s classic 1949 book, California: The Great Exception against O’Malley’s case of National Bohemian beer. Which is brewed in Baltimore, where O’Malley was mayor after being an advance man in Gary Hart’s presidential campaign.
Brown describes the classic book as being “about California’s exceptionalism, on the field and off.”
I’m sure Marty O’Malley will cherish this cheeky “winning” nearly as much as the Ravens’ 34-31 victory over the 49ers.
Brown, not exactly a massive sports fan though he has developed since I explained to the then new mayor-elect of Oakland (since he won in the 1998 primary election he had a very long transition) who Tim Brown is, himself described the game last night in an appearance on San Francisco TV news.
The 49ers, he said, “screwed up.” But they showed a lot of “guts and imagination,” as “they came back” to nearly win.
The 49ers, of course, fell behind 28-6, then nearly tied it up in a furious second half rally before they drove down the field near the end of the game for what would have been the winning touchdown. Only to fall short on three straight plays from the Baltimore 5-yard line, the last an obvious case of uncalled holding and pass interference in the end zone.
It was a strange and exciting game, complete with a 35-minute power outage not long after the latest huge and frantic halftime show, this one by Beyonce, who, departing from her Inauguration practice, did not appear to be lip-synching.
Brown, incidentally, was making an appearance last night at the new/renewed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, not included on his public schedule. He pushed a button starting a clock on the countdown to the bridge’s opening in September.
The bridge, the new design of which Brown had substantial input on as mayor of Oakland, had to be re-engineered after the great earthquake of 1989. Yes, 1989.
New Secretary of State John Kerry was welcomed to the State Department this morning. “I have big heels to fill,” he quipped, referring to just-departed Hillary Clinton.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Minnesota.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
At 10 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Minneapolis, Minnesota.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama participates in a discussion with local leaders and law enforcement officials, on gun control, at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on on gun control at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center.
At 12:35 PM Pacific, Obama departs Minneapolis, Minnesota on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 3 PM Pacific, Obama lands on South Lawn of the White House.
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 and Los Angeles.
During the noon hour, Brown will speak at the Founders Forum 2013 innovation forum in Los Angeles.
The event brings media, technology, venture capital, and creative industry leaders together with UK-based entrepreneurs to establish and strengthen international business partnerships. The event is hosted by Universal Music Group’s Lucian Grainge, William Morris Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel, Sony Entertainment’s Michael Lynton and performing artist will.i.am in partnership with UK Trade & Investment.
It takes place at Siren Studios on Sunset in Hollywood.
** COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER: IN THE SHADE OF IRAQ. … From my February 1st essay.
** 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.
John Harbaugh narrowly prevailed over Jim Harbaugh in the first Super Bowl battle of the bros. After jumping out to a 22-point lead, his Baltimore Ravens controversially held off the San Francisco 49ers’ biggest comeback in Super Bowl history to prevail at the end, 34-31.
** 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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