Appearing today in Decatur, Georgia, President Barack Obama called on Congress to invest in high-quality early childhood education programs. It was his latest follow-up campaigning on the State of the Union address.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE HAGEL AFFAIR: CLEVER, BUT NOT THAT CLEVER and THE ALLURE OF ARABIA.
** SNAP SENATE VOTE LEAVES HAGEL JUST SHY OF CONFIRMATION (FOR NOW). An angry U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, perhaps ruing his decision not to do away with the filibuster, called a snap procedural vote this afternoon to move former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary forward past the thicket of procedural objections.
Reid’s move fell one vote short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture and move directly to a vote on the nominee, who needs only a majority vote to become the next secretary of defense.
The vote was 58 to 40, with one Republican senator, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, voting present.
The vote was actually 59 to 40, but Reid switched his vote to “no” so as to enable him to bring up the vote again whenever he chooses.
There are several Republican senators beyond the handful who voted today to end the filibuster, including Hatch, who say they will end the filibuster after some more questions are answered. Which, unless it happens tomorrow, will come after the week-long Presidents Day weekend break coming up.
Some of the questions the Republicans are posing are legitimate, some are bogus.
More to follow.
** NEW SURVEY: OBAMA AND MOST AMERICANS PLACE ECONOMY AT THE TOP, WHILE DEFICIT DIMINISHES (AS POLITICAL ISSUE, NOT IN REALITY). A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that President Barack Obama largely mirrored popular concerns in his State of the Union address, especially with regard to the economy.
But it’s not a perfect mirror. Obama naturally seeks to lead and not simply regurgitate what polls say.
Ahead of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, Americans’ concerns about the “most important problem” in the country remained largely entrenched compared with the previous month, with one in four mentioning the economy, followed by unemployment or jobs (19%), and then various issues related to poor government or leadership. At 13%, mentions of the federal budget deficit are back to where they were in December following a spike to 20% in January shortly after the conclusion of the New Year’s “fiscal cliff” budget drama. …
The rank order of Americans’ top national issue concerns is similar in some ways, but different in others, from the emphasis Obama placed on various issues in his State of the Union address. Gallup determined the latter by counting the number of words devoted to specific subjects in the president’s well-categorized speech.
By Gallup’s count, 27 issues were the focus of at least one specific paragraph in Obama’s remarks. While the percentage of the speech that was devoted to each section is not directly comparable to the percentage of Americans naming each issue as the country’s top problem, the rank orders provide a sense of the priority the president — and the American public — gives to each topic. It should be noted that the Most Important Problem results reflect more than one mention by respondents, possibly magnifying the percentages for top importance issues.
Obama tackled the subject of the nation’s economy immediately after his introductory remarks, and ultimately devoted roughly one-quarter of the speech to core economic concerns spanning employment, the housing market, wages, and foreign trade, among other issues. This far outweighed his attention to any other specific issue in the 59-minute address, similar to Americans’ emphasis on economic concerns as the nation’s top problem. Americans may be more inclined than Obama to use the words “the economy” when referring to the economic challenges facing the country, but it is likely that Obama’s multipronged treatment of the economy conveyed that he shares the same concern.
In reflecting on the nation’s challenges, Obama put more emphasis in his speech than Americans do in response to the Most Important Problem question on education, energy, terrorism, and world affairs — with the emphasis on the last particularly true when one considers Obama’s discussion of relations with specific countries. He put less emphasis than Americans do on the budget deficit, problems with government leadership, and healthcare. …
Conservative Republican senators are trying to delay the confirmation vote on Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel in order to get more information on the Benghazi disaster and embarrass President Barack Obama.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE HAGEL AFFAIR: CLEVER, BUT NOT THAT CLEVER and THE ALLURE OF ARABIA.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Georgia.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then departed for Joint Base Andrews, where he boarded Air Force One en route Decatur, Georgia.
After arriving in Decatur, Georgia, Obama made his way to a pre-school classroom for a post-State of the Union event.
At 9:15 AM Pacific, Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia.
At 10:20 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Decatur Community Recreation Center in Decatur, Georgia.
At 11:40 AM Pacific, Obama departs Decatur, Georgia on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 1:10 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 1:25 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
At 1:50 PM Pacific, Obama participates in a “Fireside Hangout” with Google+ to discuss his State of the Union Address from the Roosevelt Room.
Senator John McCain is backtracking on his opposition to a filibuster against former Senator Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as secretary of defense. He said Wednesday afternoon he’s not sure he’ll vote for cloture, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked to cut off the holds that a couple of senators tried to place on the nomination. That will require opponents to invoke filibuster.
McCain is suddenly echoing his friend Senator Lindsey Graham’s linkage of Hagel’s up-or-down confirmation vote to more information about the Benghazi disaster, which Hagel has nothing to do with and which was not a subject at his confirmation hearing. But even with a suddenly waffling McCain, there are enough declared votes to invoke cloture. Assuming they don’t waffle, too, that is.
Proponents of the delay say it’s only a delay, not a real filibuster, and may be selling it as such to get some senators to oppose cloture now while more information is pursued. But at what point does the moving goalposts of more information on unrelated matters become permanent obstructionism?
Obama’s State of the Union address had sharply lower numbers last night than he enjoyed last year. Obama’s numbers were 33 million-plus, down more than 11% from last year. It’s a new viewership low for an Obama State of the Union, which has seen declining numbers ever since his first one. Obama’s high water mark then was a whopping 48 million, just three years ago.
In fact, it’s the lowest viewership for a State of the Union since the final Bill Clinton address.
Of course, people had just watched Obama’s 2nd Inaugural Address three weeks earlier.
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.
** WITH LITTLE POLITICAL OR POLICY IMPACT AND DUMBED DOWN LANGUAGE, DOES THE STATE OF THE UNION EVEN MATTER? … From my February 12th column.
** 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.
Paralympic and Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius of South Africa — known as “the Blade Runner” for the carbon fiber blades he runs on in lieu of legs — was arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of his model girlfriend early on the morning of Valentine’s Day.
** 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.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.