Good morning! It’s Good Friday. Here’s what you need to know:1. Americans are in a gloomy mood. A New York Times/CBS News poll found that “Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction” than they have been at any time since the first quarter of 2009, in the teeth of the recession.
2. President Obama’s second deficit commission — the so-called Biden Commission — is off to a bad start. Even some of its members think it is pointless political theatre.
3. The United States stepped up its involvement in the Libyan civil war. President Obama authorised the use of drones for attacks on forces loyal to the regime of Col. Qaddafi. David Ignatius, among others, argues that this is a mistake. Mr. Ignatius, among others, believes that the drones will be deployed to assassinate Col. Qaddafi.
4. organisers of the Syrian opposition say that today will be a “decisive showdown” between the uprising and the Assad regime. Mass demonstrations are planned. US policy-makers, as ever, are torn.
5. The relationship between the Pakistani military and the American military has deteriorated to the point that both sides are now openly criticising each other.
6. Welcome to the Mexican drug wars. Los Zetas, the gruesomely violent drug gang that has terrorized parts of Mexico, has “expanded its deadly operations across the southwestern border, establishing footholds and alliances in states from New York to California.“
7. Welcome to the Mexican drug wars, part two. “Highway 101 through the border state of Tamaulipas is empty now — a spooky, forlorn, potentially perilous journey, where travellers join in self-defensive convoys and race down the four-lane road at 90 miles per hour, stopping for nothing, and nobody ever drives at night.”
8. The rise of the True FInns has sent shivers across the Euro Zone. Finland has always been staunchly in favour of all things European Union. No longer.
9. It seems fair to say, based on anecdotal evidence, that Republicans are not wildly enthusiastic about their field of 2012 presidential candidates. The new New York Times/CBS News poll supports this view.
10. Libertarian former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has announced his candidacy for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. A fierce opponent of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and a proponent of legalized marijuana), Mr. Johnson is expected to compete with Rep. Ron Paul for libertarian voters.
11. The so-called “birther” issue (which questions whether President Obama was actually born in Hawaii) has taken on a life of its own. A new poll shows that one-third of Republicans believe Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii. Nearly half of Republicans believe he was born somewhere else.
12. Peter Singleton is the Sarah Palin for president campaign in Iowa. He says he is working for Palin on his own dime and is not connected to Palin’s “official” operation. No one in Iowa really believes that.