The meetings between new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
and President George W. Bush find the “special relationship”
between America and its chief ally still quite special.
** OBAMA CATCHES HILLARY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL. I still need to write up an after-action analysis of last week’s dust-up between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over the circumstances in which one meets with leaders of rogue nations — I had a lengthy item last week after I questioned former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, naturally a Clinton backer, and yesterday’s Bill Clinton item — but here is an interesting item. For the first time, in the aftermath of last week’s CNN YouTube debate and foreign policy dust-up, Barack Obama has caught Hillary Clinton in a New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary poll.
It comes in a poll by American Research Group, which in my experience generally shows Hillary running better than other polls. Here are the numbers: Obama 31%, Clinton 31%, John Edwards 14%, Bill Richardson 7%. Rudy Giuliani has a very slight lead on the Republican side over Mitt Romney.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE: STATE HAS STIFFED PROGRAMS AND VENDORS OVER A BILLION BUCKS SO FAR. THAT WILL TRIPLE IN AUGUST. California state Controller John Chiang said today that the absence of the budget made it impossible for him to legally pay some $1.1 billion in July to nursing homes, special education programs, community colleges, cancer detection programs and the businesses that provide various services to state government. He projects that he will have to withhold another $2.1 billion in August should the budget stall continue.
** MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI. Italian director Michelangelo Antonio has passed away in Rome at age 94. Antonioni was a pioneer of modernist film, specializing in long takes and cinematic meditations on existential themes of perception and alienation in films such as Blowup, The Passenger, and Red Desert. In my favorite, Blowup, a photographer in swinging ’60s London thinks he may have inadvertently found evidence of a murder. So he keeps blowing up his images to see how clearly he can discern the reality of it. Not well at all. In The Passenger, Jack Nicholson is a TV journalist in Africa, trying to run down a story he doesn’t understand about a war he doesn’t understand, an observer in his own life. Frustrated, he switches identities with a dead man. These are not films for the jumpcut generation.
** CRUDE OIL: RECORD HIGH CLOSING PRICE. Trading in crude oil just closed for the day on a record high of $78.21 per barrel, more than a dollar higher than the previous record close of $77.03 per barrel, set last July 14th during the Israel-Hezbollah War. The intraday trading record of $78.40 was challenged before the close.
Why is oil so high? That’s a good question. I’ve heard a variety of explanations, not at all consistent, and they don’t quite add up. This is not something that lends itself to instant analysis.
** CRUDE OIL 17 CENTS BELOW RECORD HIGH. Crude oil is trading up to $78.23 per barrel, just 17 cents below the record high hit last July during the Israel-Hezbollah War.
** PARTY LEADER REBUKES ARNOLD-CARPING RIGHT-WING BLOG. A fellow member of the California Republican Party’s executive board has sent a letter rebuking Flash Report proprietor and Southern California party vice chairman Jon Fleischman for several of his statements about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
You are quoted in the July 30, 2007 Contra Costa Times:” With the party base, I think there’s a bit of chagrin that we elected a fiscal conservative who got into office and completely changed”. But former Senate Republican leader Jim Bruilte, in a July 26, 2007 article in the Riverside Press-Enterprise entitled “Arnold a big spender? Hardly?” came to the opposite conclusion. He reported that the annual rate of state spending increases under Governor Schwarzenegger is “almost identical to former Gov, Pete Wilson’s frugal track record and much better than Govs. Davis, Deukmejian and Brown-or even Reagan-were able to achieve!”
And as far as “chagrin” in the party base, the article that quoted you stated quite the contrary. “He… (The Governor)…remains hugely popular among registered Republicans-a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California pegged his approval rating within the party at 75 percent…” In crafting the headline, the editor must have read only your quote rather the rest of the article when he made its head the totally inaccurate and misleading: “Governor’s GOP popularity in free fall.”
The “chagrin” may be yours, but the overwhelming majority of California Republicans must agree with conservative columnist Robert Novak that the Governor is the California Republican Party’s “greatest asset.”
We need to hear more cheering than sniping from our own benches.
CRP Executive Board Member
** THE BROWN/BUSH DUO. So much for the big pull-away of the UK from the US. If it’s to happen, it’s certainly not happening now, with new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown quoting Churchill to Churchill-loving President George W. Bush and talking about “the shared destiny” of America and Britain.
Contrary to some expectations, British troops will not be withdrawn from Iraq until Iraqi authorities are deemed capable of handling their own security. But a British pull-back from combat patrols, started by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, will continue. This may become the position of a critical mass of Republicans, as well, this fall.
It was probably a stretch for some to assume that a politician who vacations at Cape Cod and is a friend of Alan Greenspan — that would be Brown — would share the anti-Americanism of so many of Blair’s critics.
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown is pushing hard for action on Darfur from the US and the UN, and he may get it.
** ARNOLD’S EVEN BIGGER HIT! The Simpsons Movie, featuring a character named “President Arnold Schwarzenegger,” is an even bigger hit than I thought. It didn’t gross the estimated $71.9 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office. It grossed $74 million. Fantastic.
In its sixth weekend of release, the vaunted Michael Moore film on US health care woes, Sicko, grossed $1.2 million. Its total domestic box office to date is $21.5 million.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE: MOVING GOALPOSTS. I’m told that state Senate Republicans — who have held up California’s budget following its bipartisan passage in the Assembly — have provided yet another new wrinkle after a day of negotiations with Democrats and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. They now want tax cuts. Again. The objections have been vague — secret cuts was the line for quite awhile — and changeable for weeks.
This is all very exciting.
** WESTLY ON PORT POLLUTION. Decrying the increased risk of asthma and cancer and growing traffic gridlock around California’s ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and the San Francisco Bay Area, former state Controller and eBay honcho-turned-cleantech venture capitalist Steve Westly argues in a Sacramento Bee column for a bill by state Senator Alan Lowenthal. The bill would create a $30 per cargo container fee to mitigate pollution and promote transit around the ports. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been cool to the idea in the past.
** AN ESSENTIALLY UNOPPOSED GAVIN NEWSOM. As reported yesterday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom now looks to end up running this year for re-election essentially unopposed. This, despite a much ballyhooed personal scandal earlier this year and the great enmity of many on the left. (Yes, I know Newsom is on the left. We’re talking more left; it’s San Francisco.) Despite his woes, Newsom maintained a 70%-plus job approval rating, which led former Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, who ran a close race against Newsom in November 2005, to conclude that the charismatic young mayor is unbeatable.
** AL QAEDA’S AMERICAN PRISONERS STILL NOT LOCATED. American troops are now in the midst of a 79th day of searching for the remaining two US soldiers captured by Al Qaeda in an ambush south of Baghdad. They have had no luck so far. A video put out by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq claims that all three men were executed after being captured. But, with the exception of the Californian found floating in the Euphrates River, that claim can’t be confirmed. The US high command in Baghdad has revealed that ID cards for the other two American prisoners were found in an Al Qaeda safehouse on June 9th.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices have hit a one-year high at $77.50 per barrel.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.