Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had a limited hand
to play today at Annapolis during the Middle East peace talks.
** ANNAPOLIS AFTERMATH: MORE TALK. After laboring mightily to bring top officials from 44 nations — including Saudi Arabia and Syria (now subject to protests from increasingly isolated Iranian radicals for its participation) — to the highly picturesque capital of Maryland and home of the U.S. Naval Academy, the Bush Administration has it product. A restart to stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Just one slight problem. A huge faction of Palestianians, who control much of the area granted the Palestinian Authority, i.e., Hamas, are not part of the equation. But there are saving graces. Annapolis, at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, perhaps the best bay in America for sailing as it’s far larger than San Francisco Bay, has the best crab in the world, wonderful cobblestone streets, and the history-drenched U.S. Naval Academy campus (“the Yard,” as it’s actually known), where the conference was hosted. This brought delight to the delegates. If nothing else.
** A COMMENT. I’m looking at all the press releases, columnizing, blogs, articles, etc. collecting — or is it congealing? — in my system. And I must say that it is largely a collection of blithering, divisive, pre-programmed junk.
** AN UNWELCOME SURPRISE FOR STEVE POIZNER. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who has seized on the not especially dramatic campaign against the term limits revision initiative on the February ballot as a way to become more popular with right-wing Republicans who would otherwise eschew the candidacy of an Al Gore for President backer for their party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2010, is about to be challenged on a fundamental question of openness. One of his newfound allies, the rather shadowy DC-based US Term Limits group, which has been the principal funder thusfar of the campaign against the term limits revision measure, refuses to divulge its contributors. Poizner, who has declared himself the new head of the campaign, will be challenged to divulge the money men behind the US Term Limits contributions.
** JESSE JACKSON INTERJECTS. Rev. Jesse Jackson has an op-ed piece in today’s Chicago Sun-Times that could be trouble for Barack Obama. The two-time presidential candidate of the 1980s has endorsed Obama, but his public statements have mostly caused the Illinois senator trouble.
Jackson has criticized Obama for not focusing enough on African American issues, at one point seeming to say that Obama isn’t black enough. Which may be literally true, since Obama is actually mixed race. Now Jackson is saying that only John Edwards has adequately addressed black issues.
When Jackson ran for president, he ran as the candidate of the left and as the candidate of identity politics. That’s a way to get a chunk of votes. But it’s not a way to win, and Jackson never had a serious chance of becoming president. Obama is running for president.
Jackson is perhaps the most prominent member of an older generation of black leaders, now being passed over by Obama, which is probably more comfortable with Bill Clinton, “the first black president.” Jackson’s always been tied into the mainline of the national Democratic Party. For as long as I can remember, he’s gotten a jet and an expense account for the general election.
As Jackson well knows, there aren’t many black voters in Iowa, where Obama is making his move, and where Jackson himself was a non-player in his two presidential runs.
This looks like a way to presssure Obama to do something that won’t help him win Iowa when that has to be his principal focus. As well as a way for Jackson to create a pretext to criticize a candidate he supposedly supports.
** SCHWARZENEGGER ON NON-DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off the USC Annenberg School’s conference on the emerging digital infrastructure with a talk that barely mentioned the subject of the conference. Instead, Schwarzenegger spoke at length about the recent history of physical infrastructure politics, laying out a large need — only some of which was addressed last year with the Big Bang Bonds — talking up public-private partnerships and calling for passage of the water bonds package he is still trying to negotiate with state Senate leader Don Perata. He said, predictably, that they “are very close” to an agreement. Use an air horn when you’ve got that agreement, gang.
** WITH ANNAPOLIS TALKS UNDERWAY, BUSH CALLS FOR PALESTINIAN STATE. The one-day Israeli/Palestinian peace conference hosted by the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland is underway, with President George W. Bush calling for a Palestinian state. “There is a battle for the Middle East underway,” he says, and the extremists must not be allowed to win. Actually, of course, they’re doing better than before.
Most experts expect little from this conference. Perhaps most noteworthy is that Saudi Arabia and Syria are participating. But the Saudi foreign minister won’t shake Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s hand. This is the nature of progress in the mostly intractable Middle East.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCAST THIS MORNING ON DIGITAL FUTURE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers the opening remarks this morning at a conference on the emerging digital infrastructure sponsored by the USC Annenberg School for Communication’s Center for the Digital Future. The event is webcast live at 9 AM.
Bill Clinton is back in Iowa to try to help his wife eke out a win there.
** BILL CLINTON TO THE RESCUE TODAY IN IOWA. As I mentioned in the Monday Morning Quarterback, with rival Barack Obama getting up what looks like a head of steam in first-in-the-nation Iowa, national frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign has once again imported former President Bill Clinton.
The ex-prez never actually ran there in the presidential caucuses. In 1992, he avoided them, believing that Iowa Senator Tom Harkin had a lock. In 1996, he was the incumbent president, and didn’t have a race. But he is very popular in Iowa, and has three times before campaigned there for extended stretches of time to bolster the former first lady’s slipping hold on the Hawkeye State.
Clinton is an enormous asset for his wife’s campaign. Recent polling indicates that he is the most popular politician in the country, and he would likely be elected president again were it constitutionally permissible. But he is also a doubled-edged sword, in that his presence reminds of various scandals, personal and political, that surrounded the couple in the presidential years. And he is such a strong presence that he raises questions among many about who would actually be in charge in a Hillary Clinton Administration. I think she would be, but I’m not a representative focus group of Americans.
** 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 is trading in a range of $94 to $95 per barrel. This is the second day of declines in the oil market. Saudi Arabia has increased its production to the highest level this year.
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