With the presidential race up for grabs in both parties, global crises,
and three California statewide elections ahead, it’s best to “Take It Easy.”
NEW YEAR’S DAY UPDATE
** LIES, DAMN LIES, AND, ER, POLLS. You know my problem with the Iowa polls. They’re all taken over the holidays, which have never before this current insane situation been a determinative period, AND most of the periods involved are long weekends. Aside, from that, they are entirely valid … Other polls, aside from the widely acknowledged gold standard Des Moines Register Poll — numbers below — have some different results, though Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee also lead in some among Democrats and Republicans.
The Register poll, as you see from the link below, has a new model anticipating higher numbers of independents participating in the Democratic presidential caucuses than have participated in the past. That accounts for Obama’s rather large lead over Hillary Clinton, and for John Edwards, who is appealing to core Democrats rather than independents. Is the Register correct in assuming that Iowa this time out will behave more like a primary — and be much more reflective of the changing electorate around the country — than a low turnout caucus? We’ll know soon enough. The importance of independents in the New Hampshire primary is why Obama has eliminated Clinton’s lead there in most polls.
** QUICK HITS. Did Mike Huckabee screw up on New Year’s Eve when he unveiled a hard-hitting counterattack ad on Mitt Romney at a press conference only to announce that he wouldn’t use it because he’s against negative campaigning? The conventional national media certainly thinks so. But the Iowa press seems to have mostly presented the story in very straightforward fashion. And somehow I doubt most Iowans over yet another holiday are paying much attention to what Joe Klein et al have to say. … Pakistan is, not surprisingly, postponing the scheduled January 8th national election in the wake of the highly suspicious assassination of Benazir Bhutto. That’s not a popular choice, either, also not surprisingly. When will they be? Probably not any time soon. … San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who according to many torched his career early in 2007 with a sex scandal, only to go on to romp to an easy re-election win, got engaged over the weekend in Hawaii to actress and Stanford alum Jennifer Siebel. Congratulations, Mr. Mayor!
NEW YEAR’S EVE UPDATE
** DES MOINES REGISTER POLL: OBAMA LEADS CLINTON, HUCKABEE LEADS ROMNEY. The most respected poll of the Iowa presidential caucuses, the pre-caucus Des Moines Register poll, has just been released at 7PM Pacific time. Here are the numbers.
Democrats: Barack Obama 32%, Hillary Clinton 25%, John Edwards 24%.
Republicans: Mike Huckabee 32%, Mitt Romney 26%, John McCain 13%.
I’m off now, but I’ll delve into it in more detail on New Year’s Day.
** HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s going to be a spectacular and complex New Year. When it’s not boring and derivative, of course. Let’s all do our best to relax for a moment or four, in spite of the best efforts of the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire to make the permanent campaign even more permanent than it needs to be.
** IOWA TRACKING POLL. The latest Zogby track from Iowa shows very tight races in both parties.
Democrats: Hillary Clinton 30%, Barack Obama 26%, John Edwards 26%.
Republicans: Mike Huckabee 29%, Mitt Romney 27%, John McCain 13%.
Again, I don’t really buy any of these polls, taken over weekends and holidays.
This poll was conducted entirely over the weekend before New Year’s — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The best in the West USC Trojans go for yet another Rose Bowl
crown on New Year’s Day.
** BOWLING. A lot of college bowl games New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Watching the always entertaining Hawaii offense take on Georgia in the Sugar Bowl should be interesting. And then there is the Rose Bowl, featuring the best team in the West, perhaps the country, USC.
Stanford didn’t do much this season, but they’re the team that kept perennial powerhouse USC out of the national championship game. With John David Booty throwing an amazing four interceptions — turns out he’d broken his finger during the game — Stanford beat USC 24-23. Stanford didn’t do much afterward, aside from confounding slumping and once #2 in the country Cal, but USC has rebounded, losing narrowly to Oregon when it was on a roll and crushing powerhouse Arizona State on Thanksgiving Day. After dominating cross-town rivals UCLA, they’re on to the Rose Bowl and another high national ranking. Illinois will be the Trojans’ last victim of the season.
The lovely, if deeply ironic, Russian holiday fable of Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, provides a nice counterpoint to the harsher view of Charlie Wilson’s War.
** CHARLIE WILSON VS. SNEGUROCHKA. With the critical and popular success of Charlie Wilson’s War, a rollicking true tale of the most successful covert war in history (with a distressing and witlessly handled denouement) — taking down the Soviet Union in Afghanistan — Soviet-era Russia has taken a pounding of late. Cinematic pep talks about “Let’s kill Russians” may feel a bit unseemly given Russia’s renewed role in the world and traditional greatness as a country, culture, and people.
But that is reflective of the time, and the training, I can assure you. The Soviet Union was one of the most menacing presences in world history. The atrocities perpetrated by Soviet forces in Afghanistan were breathtaking in their brutality.
So it’s a pleasure to draw your attention to the charming Russian holiday fable of Snegurichka, the Snow Maiden. Who is associated with both Christmas — December 25th in the modern calendar, January 7th traditionally, due to the old calendar — and New Year’s. The Soviet system suppressed Christmas, so traditions like the Snow Maiden and the grandfather she accompanied, the Santa equivalent, Father Frost (Ded Moroz), officially switched to New Year’s.
** 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 trading around $96 per barrel.
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