** U.S. PUSH FOR RE-BAATHIFICATION. After executing what turned out to be a disastrous de-Baathification — then the stripping of Iraqi governmental posts from members of Saadam Hussein’s ruling Baath Party and firing of members of the Iraqi Army on the same lines, which merely created a vast pool of potential insurgents — the US is now finally successfully pushing a re-Baathification of the Iraqi govenment.
** ANOTHER BAD SIGN FOR ALBERTO GONZALES. In another bad sign for embattled US Attorney General Albert Gonzales, his legal counsel and White House liaison will invoke the 5th amendment to avoid testifying in the controversy around the firings of eight US attorneys around the country, two of them in California. Senator Dianne Feinstein has called for the ouster of Gonzales, who previously claimed he had no particular knowledge of the firings but it has since been revealed participated in a meeting planning the firings.
** ANGELIDES ASKED GARRY SOUTH FOR MONEY. Democratic strategist Garry South reveals that he, too, received the e-mails last week from unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides asking for money to advertise against 19 California Republican members of Congress urging them to vote for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s anti-Iraq War legislation. The advertising was to run well after the vote itself. South is Angelides’ most public critic in the Democratic Party. “Who knows what he was thinking?,” asks South. “it’s like his campaign last fall against Arnold Schwarzenegger. Inexplicable.”
** WHAT IS PHIL ANGELIDES DOING? So the landslide Democratic loser of last year’s California governor’s race has set up a group called Stand Up For California. And has been e-mailing people on his list asking for money to fight the Iraq War. Probably not why people were supporting him for governor, and a notably unsuccessful issue for him, as viewers of the NWN video of his big anti-war rally last fall have noted. But perhaps a rallying point for someone trying to keep his political career alive.
Yet here is where it gets quite peculiar. Last week, Angelides was e-mailing his list asking for $10,000 to fund unspecified advertisements against “19 members of Congress” from California standing in the way of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill to withdraw troops from Iraq by the fall of 2008. Who were the 19? All Republicans, as it happens. Which was odd in itself, since passage of the bill was actually dependent on the votes of Democrats, more than a few from California, who were refusing to vote for the Pelosi bill because it wasn’t radical enough. The Republicans were all opposed to the bill anyway, and Phil Angelides is one of the last people on the planet to convince them otherwise.
Then it got even more peculiar. Late last week, Angelides e-mailed his list again, saying he was still $8,500 short — meaning he had only raised $1,500 for this peculiar venture — and needed it by April 1st to do the advertising needed to pass the Pelosi bill by moving those 19 Republicans. Actually, as NWN readers know, the vote was last Friday. April 1st is next weekend. Unless this was a big April Fool’s joke by the always amusing Angelides, these moves make no sense at all. Not unlike his general election campaign last year.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCASTS TODAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will speak at the Friant Dam outside Fresno at 10:45 AM today and will address the Rotary Club of Fresno at 12:30 PM. As I mentioned early this morning, it’s water week for the governor.
** VILSACK ENDORSES HILLARY. Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race after appearing at last month’s Nevada Presidential forum in Carson City, today endorses Hillary Clinton for president. This will be a major boost for her in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, where she has been trailing John Edwards. Here is what Vilsack says in in his endorsement statement:
When I first ran for governor of Iowa in 1998, many people didn’t give me much of a chance. But not Hillary. She told me she’d do everything she could do to help, and she followed through. She stood by my side, and Iowa is better for it. She helped ignite the spark that changed Iowa from a red state to a blue state.
By standing with Hillary now we’ll help show that we are strong enough to win back the White House — and America will be stronger and better for it.
** BRITAIN-IRAN CRISIS CONTINUES. In a surprise for global oil traders and some others who back their bets on the future with dollars, the UK-Iran crisis over the seizure of 15 British sailors and marines on the Shatt Al Arab continues. Iran has still not turned over the British personnel, who had just inspected a merchant ship suspected of smuggling into Iraqi waters, and is making loud noises about trying them for illegally crossing into Iranian territory, if not for espionage itself. Meanwhile, Britain, as one might suppose from its history, is giving away nothing. Time for Iran to find a face-saving move.
** IT’S WATER WEEK FOR ARNOLD. As distinguished from Waterworld. That was not a Schwarzenegger picture, it was a Kevin Costner picture. Not that bad, actually, and much more popular than supposed. Actually … Governor Schwarzenegger will be focusing on California water issues this week. Water storage, and water transfer. Today he will be in the Fresno area, where he will tour a dam and give a speech. Quite a few of his Republican colleagues want a dam in the Fresno area, and thought they were going to get one last year in the Big Bang Bonds infrastructure package, before being shot down by state Senate Democrats.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are in the $62 to $64 per barrel range, the highest prices of the year, with the latest Iranian crisis.