While the Pakistan crisis continues to play out, nearby Bangladesh
sorts itself out following a devastating heavy weather event.
** OPRAH TO CAMPAIGN FOR OBAMA, HILLARY HITS OBAMA. Billionaire mega-talk show host Oprah Winfrey, perhaps the most powerful black woman in the world, will hit the campaign trail for Barack Obama. She’s going to Iowa, where Obama has eked out a narrow lead over Hillary Clinton, first.
Polling shows that she is easily the best celebrity endorsement to have, followed by Tom Hanks and George Clooney. Clooney, star of the summer hit Ocean’s Thirteen, which featured an amusing scene centering on his character’s and the character played by Brad Pitt’s secret affection for Oprah’s daytime talk show, is also an Obama backer.
Meanwhile, Clinton hit Obama today in Iowa, saying he’s too inexperienced to be president.
** BETTER POLL RESULTS FOR CALIFORNIA TERM LIMITS CHANGE INITIATIVE, ACCORDING TO THE CAMPAIGN’S INTERNAL POLL. Pollster Jan van Lohuizen, who has worked for many Republican campaigns, including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, as well as the teachers union, has conducted a poll for the proponents of Proposition 93 on the February presidential primary ballot. The initiative would, as we’ve discussed, cut the total number of years that can be served in the Legislature from 14 to 12, but allow all those years to be served in one house, and allow some current legislators to be grandfathered in. Using the language that will appear on the ballot, van Lohuizen’s poll shows the initiative currently leading, 55% to 30%.
Among Democrats, it’s ahead, 52% to 35%. Among independents, it leads, 51% to 33%. And among Republicans, it has an even bigger margin, 62% to 25%.
The Republican Party, of course, is opposed to the initiative, and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Republican who backed Al Gore for president and invented cell phone tracking technology, has put in $1.5 million against it, as has the somewhat mysterious DC-based US Term Limits group, which does not disclose its contributors.
According to van Lohuizen’s poll, a plurality of California voters don’t think the current version of term limits is working very well. 64% say it’s “problematic that the time required to pass a budget has doubled since term limits passed.”
Despite all the back and forth in the political press and among insiders, only 25% of California voters are aware that this initiative will be on the ballot.
Which indicates that there is an opportunity to pass the measure. Of course, in my view, it would have a better chance were it paired with some other political reforms, such as the long promised redistricting reform, to further dispel the obvious attack against it that it is designed to benefit the political class, despite the poll’s finding that only 16% find the argument that Prop 93 is “a scam written by the legislators themselves” to be “very convincing.”
** NEW RECORD OIL PRICE. Crude oil hit a new record today, closing for the first time at over $98 per barrel.
** STILL NO NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY DATE. Somewhat amazingly, New Hampshire still has not set its primary date. The Granite State prides itself on being the first primary, following Iowa (January 3rd) as the first caucus. After some frankly suicidal talk about going in December — which would kill New Hampshire in the future — it’s now purportedly waiting on Michigan. Which wants to go on January 15th, but has to survive a case in its Supreme Court. And the pledge of all Democratic candidates not to campaign there. (All but Hillary Clinton have removed their names from the ballot.)
** NO NUKE INITIATIVE. The Sierra Club reports that a California initiative to promote a new generation of nuclear power has been withdrawn. The initiative, promoted by right-wing state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, has fallen flat due to lack of funding and inadequate signature gathering.
This is what I was hearing early on, from sources around the state attorney general. And that the nuclear power industry did not want to be fronted by DeVore, who is one of the most ideological members of a very hyperpartisan state Legislature.
The initiative would have repealed the California Nuclear Safeguards Act of 1976, which essentially blocks new nuclear power plants in California until the waste issue has a permanent solution.
** CALIFORNIA WATER PROGRESS? I’m hearing again, and the Capitol Weekly is reporting at length, that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders are close to a deal on a $10 billion water bond for next February’s presidential primary ballot. It would be about $10 billion, and would include money for both surface and groundwater storage.
Of course, I’ve heard this many times before. And late last week, a top aide to Senate leader Don Perata, the Democrats’ point man on water policy, tossed cold, er, water on the notion that a deal was close.
Since California is into semi-permanent drought status, it would be good to have a deal on something so basic. But, as usual, we’ll see.
** NWN THROTTLING BACK. Noticing that people are increasingly not around/not paying attention to politics in this Thanksgiving week — and, frankly, increasingly not around myself — New West Notes is throttling back for the holiday. I decided to postpone a piece on Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, the recall, California’s chronic economic/budget woes, and Jerry Brown, with accompanying NWN videos, till next week.
There’s also an announcement coming, of a new joint project with the Huffington Post, but that’s best left in its entirety till next week as well.
There’s really not much going on in California politics, which has been true for some time, although it’s possible to generate product if one is so inclined, and presidential politics is also quieting down some as well.
Which is not to say that there won’t be NWN reports.
And you will love the Thanksgiving videos.
** PAKISTAN FREES THOUSANDS OF POLITICAL PRISONERS. BUT STILL NO SIGN OF COALITION GOVERNMENT. The martial law regime of President and Army Chief of Staff Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, the only Islamic nuclear power, has just freed 3000 political prisoners. Thousands more remain, of course, but this is a positive sign. Still, Pentagon sources tell NWN that there is as yet no clear sign that Musharraf will accept a coalition government in this latest mutation of America’s ongoing crisis in the Islamic world. Musharraf still enjoys the backing of the military, the principal modernizing influence in the nation cobbled together after Britain freed India and partitioned the mega-state in the 1940s, but his legitimacy as Pakistan’s head of state is now quite limited.
Meanwhile, Musharraf “balanced” the release of political prisoners by arresting scores of journalists, according to other reports I’ve received. You see where this is going.
** DEM INSIDERS’ WEB SITE HANDICAPS 2010 CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. The California Majority Report, published by ranking Democratic strategists/consultants Steve Maviglio, Jason Kinney, and Roger Salazar, has issued a roster of favorites for the governorship of California in 2010. They focus on the Democrats, as befits a mostly blue state for a year in which the Republicans are highly unlikely to have anyone nearly as potent as Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s the list, in rank order:
1. Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown
2. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
3. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi
4. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
5. Former state Controller and eBay honcho Steve Westly
6. Treasurer Bill Lockyer
7. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell
8. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez
9. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
10. Former Treasurer and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides
There are definitely some folks on that list that I do not believe will run. But, in the words of former Governor Gray Davis, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
** 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, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil prices have risen back to the $96 to $97 per barrel range with the dollar faling to a record low against the euro.
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