** DRAFT OBAMA TV AD STARTS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. The Draft Obama for President committee starts running a TV ad next week in New Hampshire produced by Bud Jackson and John Hlinko, who did a Draft Wesley Clark ad last time around. The 60-second ad seems a little flat, not catching all the fizz around the proto-candidacy of the freshman Illinois senator. It posits a coming choice between, in the intonations of the best-selling author himself, “a politics of cynicism and a politics of hope.” Well, by all means, Senator, a politics of cynicism, of course.
Message: Bush equals Fear, Obama equals Hope.
** PELOSI’S NEW INTEL PANEL. Perhaps dealing with the now somewhat problematic House Intelligence Committee under the chairmanship of Texas Congressman Silvestre “Wait, don’t tell me, I know those Al Qaeda guys” Reyes, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to establish a new select intelligence committee overseeing the budgets of the various intelligence agencies. Members of the Intelligence and Appropriations Committees will go onto the new committee. No word on the chair yet. Here’s a thought. Try LA Congresswoman Jane Harman.
** MUCH HIGHER CALIFORNIA TURNOUT THAN SUPPOSED. Turnout in last month’s California elections — at first widely bemoaned as a record low — was actually much higher than many said. It now stands at 56.2%, well above the record low of the 2002 gubernatorial race between Gray Davis and Republican Bill Simon, in which only 50.1% of registered voters bothered to turn out. Or turn in, actually, as many now vote by mail. This is why the tallying around election day this year was so far off, because some 45% of the voters in last month’s election voted by mail and the tallying and classification of ballots was not all done.
Intriguingly, two of the lowest turnouts, not much than 50%, were in major partisan strongholds, Democratic Los Angeles County and Republican Orange County. You may recall a lot of caterwauling a month ago that Orange County turnout was under 40%.
** EDWARDS LEADS DATED IOWA POLL. John Edwards has a big lead in the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses, or at least had one, according to a poll conducted for Environmental Defense nearly two months ago but only released last night. Edwards had 36% to Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s 16%, Barack Obama‘s 13%, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s 9%, and John Kerry‘s 6%. Al Gore wasn’t included in the poll.
UPDATE: INCOMING SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID JUST HELD A PRESS AVAILABILITY AND SAID THAT HE HAS VISITED WITH TIM JOHNSON, HE IS DOING WELL, AND ALL SYSTEMS REMAIN GO FOR THE SENATE HANDOVER FROM REPUBLICANS TO DEMOCRATS.
** SENATOR’S CONDITION CONGENITAL. South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, whose permanent absence from the U.S. Senate would likely lead to Republican retention of the body, is said now to suffer from a congenital arteriovenous malformation, rather than a stroke. Johnson underwent brain surgery last night and is in critical but stable condition in its aftermath. His recovery is likely to be lengthy. Assuming that he does survive, there is ample precedent for him to retain his seat even while he is unable to participate in the Senate.
** L.A. TIMES AND ANGELIDES. The LA Times has a story today on the infamous tapes scandal from the campaign, in which opposition researchers for defeated gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides surrreptitiously obtained audio files of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s private conversations with staff from his computer server and slipped a heavily edited version of one to the Times in hopes of jump-starting their campaign. The whole affair backfired badly on its various participants, after top Democrats defended Schwarzenegger for his mildly politically incorrect musings.
The Times article doesn’t mention the paper’s own role in the controversy. What it does go into is the fact that the state attorney general’s office doesn’t think there is a case to be made against the oppos, due to lax computer security, yet the California Highway Patrol investigation has not been closed out. The article also goes on to dribble out a bit more information on what is on those tapes, some 100 hours of which former Angelides staffers say they have in their possession. They’ve refused to actually release any tapes due to legal concerns. In this case, the dribbled information is that Schwarzenegger said some critical things about Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, insinuating this could be a problem for Schwarzenegger because the two men must work together. But Perata already knows what was said, as does Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. The actual impact of the tapes, and their big play on the front page of the Times after the Angelides campaign slipped one to the paper, was to cause the ouster of Assembly Republican Leader George Plescia, described on the tape by tart-tongued Schwarzenegger chief of staff Susan Kennedy as a dear in the headlights, or something like that.
** Monitor computer memory prices on a daily basis. Prices are stable.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are up to $62 per barrel on word of a coming OPEC production cut. OPEC is said to have another 500,000 barrel a day production cut coming, starting in February. The group previously adopted a 1.2 million barrel a day production cut, which has apparently been lower in practice.