The young son of America’s newest Medal of Honor winner, Sergeant Clinton Romesha, stole the show today in an unusually lighthearted moment for such a solemn occasion. Romesha, a native Californian who earned the medal for conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in a 2009 battle in Afghanistan, is just the fourth living American to win the Medal of Honor for bravery in the Iraq and Afghan Wars. The other seven recipients of the Medal of Honor in post-9/11 conflicts received the award posthumously.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ALLURE OF ARABIA.
** QUICK HITS. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on the confirmation of former Senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense when it meets Tuesday. Current ranking Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, commenting to the far right National Review Online, said today he will “postpone” Hagel’s confirmation. He won’t walk out of the committee vote, however, which was rumored over the weekend. … Inhofe is basing his opposition all around what he calls Hagel’s lack of support for Israel. He’s dropped the latest financial disclosure gambit raised just last week. He can’t stop Hagel from winning the committee vote. He can try to delay the confirmation vote of the full Senate. But not, I believe, for nearly as long as he imagines. The Senate has become a much funkier place than it was. But not that funky. More to follow. … Despite all the trouble that some Senate Republicans are making for their former colleague, he is actually backed by a host of eminent Republicans who are far more expert in geopolitical and national security matters, including General Colin Powell and California’s own former Secretary of State George Shultz. … The hoped for face-off between Texas Governor Rick Perry, now in Californian on his ballyhooed business raiding mission, and Governor Jerry Brown, is a bust so far. Perry’s events are all private, as is the identity of whomever he may be talking with on his latest trip to the state he actually enjoys vacationing in, and he won’t interact with the press. He did do an interview with a state reporter who is an opponent of the high-speed rail project, though, and got to say his familiar lines — “California is looking at our backside” (I won’t take advantage of this line …) — without apparent push-back. More to follow.
** NEW SURVEY: COMPARING DEMS, INDIES, AND REPUBLICANS IN TERMS OF ETHNICITY. A new Gallup Poll survey reveals that, while whites are still majorities in all three groupings of political identifiers, that is far more true among Republicans.
Democrats and independents, in contrast to Republicans, have grown more diverse since 2008, when President Barack Obama rode to victory over Senator John McCain on their votes.
It reminds me of a photo that a prominent Republican I know tweeted out on the verge of the November election, depicting a long line of “white vans” in Nevada. (It was some sort of Mitt Romney campaign mobilization using, natch, white vans.)
I e-mailed him and told him that the thing to note about the photo is that it showed a long line of white people, and that he ought to remember with the election nearly upon us that I’d written weeks earlier that Obama would beat Romney in the Silver State, which most had had as a toss-up swing state.
Obama ended up carrying Nevada handily, 52.4% to 45.7%, a margin of nearly seven points.
Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 89% of Republican self-identifiers nationwide in 2012, while accounting for 70% of independents and 60% of Democrats. Over one-fifth of Democrats (22%) were black, while 16% of independents were Hispanic. …
* Republicans are overwhelmingly non-Hispanic white, at a level that is significantly higher than the self-identified white percentage of the national adult population. Just 2% of Republicans are black, and 6% are Hispanic.
* Seventy percent of Americans who identify as independents are white, but independents have the highest representation of Hispanics (16%) of the three groups. Eight percent of independents are blacks.
* Democrats remain a majority white party, but four in 10 Democrats are something other than non-Hispanic white. More than one in five Democrats are black, roughly twice the black representation in the adult population. …
The racial and ethnic composition of the Republican Party today is similar to what it was in 2008, the year when Gallup began its daily tracking. There have been essentially no changes in the percentage of GOP identifiers who are white, black, and Hispanic.
Independents have become more Hispanic since 2008 (and slightly more black), while Democrats have become more black and more Hispanic. Phrased differently, the independent and Democratic segments of the U.S. population are now less white than they were in 2008, reflecting the uptick in the U.S. nonwhite population over these five years. …
Pope Benedict XVI shocked most observers early today when he announced that he will be the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, effective February 28th. The conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich when he was elected just eight years ago, cited declining health as his reason for stepping down. The pope has struggled with church scandals during his tenure.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ALLURE OF ARABIA.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha in a ceremony in the East Room.
Obama is preparing for Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
That speech, not surprisingly, will focus on economic revitalization, with a lot of other stuff in there as well.
Including climate change.
On Sunday I noted the latest in a series of attempts to derail Chuck Hagel’s appointment as secretary of defense and strongly suggested that it wouldn’t hold for long.
Hold being a term of art.
Senator Lindsey Graham, on a Sunday chat show, said he would not filibuster but threatened to place a hold on the appointments of John Brennan and Chuck Hagel to be CIA director and defense secretary until still more information is released about the Benghazi disaster. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey both just testified on Benghazi. And then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did so very recently.
Graham is implying that Obama was detached and out of the loop in real time during the Benghazi disaster.
I also noted that the latest gambit to block Hagel before this one — insisting that a new standard of disclosure be established in which all entities he’s affiliated with open up their corporate books — is falling flat.
Now the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold its confirmation vote on Tuesday. Senate Republicans, at least according to anonymous Senate Republican staff sources, threaten to walk out.
As I’ve discussed several times, Hagel is backed by a host of far more distinguished, albeit more moderate Republicans who have served as secretaries of defense, state, and homeland security, and as national security advisors.
The full Senate will take up Hagel’s confirmation later this week.
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.
Brown joins Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and others in Oakland on Tuesday for a summit meeting on the future of California housing sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Oh, yes, there’s a fellow named Rick Perry in California now. But the governor of Texas, once the Republican frontrunner for president of the United States, doesn’t seem to be available to the press, aside from one friendly interview.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS FUN (IN NEW FOIL RICK PERRY) AND MORE THAN A BIT OF ILLUMINATION. … From my February 7th column.
** 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.
Argo continued its best picture win streak last night in London at the British Academy Film Awards. Prior to last night’s Bafta triumph, the (mostly) real life ’70s Iran hostage spy thriller has won the top prize now at the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, and the Screen Actors Guild awards presentations. Star Ben Affleck won his latest best director prize, despite his oddly not getting an Oscar nomination. Affleck produced the film with George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
** 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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