I’m afraid I’ve come up short on the Easter movie front.
** 4000 OFFICIAL U.S. COMBAT DEATHS IN IRAQ. Happy Easter. A bombing attack which killed at least four US service members in Baghad on Easter Sunday left the US combat death toll in Iraq at at least 4000. That does not include the many US contract personnel who have also given their lives in the service of the various US policies in Iraq after the invasion just over four years ago. Nevertheless, the situation in Iraq has improved. Yet, we are not out of the woods. A challenge to both sides in the conventional debate.
** INCIDENTALLY … There was a bunch of other junk-type political news thingies going on since Saturday morning — most of them, though not all — from the former first lady’s campaign. Out of respect for Easter weekend, I won’t even mention them. But I will say this. Folks in each of the Democratic presidential campaigns should retreat to kindergarten corners for times out. And most of them, though not all, work for the former president and first lady. And if they don’t like my assessment of their realities — which, given their hostile and toxic natures at this point, is quite likely — that is, as the saying goes, unfortunate. Which means, as I’m sure you can gather, it doesn’t matter to me.
** NEW PODCAST. My thoughts on The Speech, the race, and the road ahead.
** BILL CLINTON HEADLINES CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONVENTION NEXT WEEKEND. NWN has learned that former President Bill Clinton will address the California Democratic Party convention next Sunday, March 30th, in San Jose. A gaggle of uncommitted superdelegates will be participating in the convention. Wife Hillary, now a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is not expected at the convention, though she will be in California for fundraisers a few days later. I don’t know if Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama will be on hand for the annual state convention.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama has a rally today in Medford, Oregon. He may be heading to the Virgin Islands for an Easter holiday. He’s expected back on the trail Wednesday in North Carolina.
Hillary Clinton, down for the day on Friday in Chappaqua, New York, is down again for the weekend. It’s said that she will be in Chappaqua, although her campaign famously does not keep the press apprised of all her movements.
John McCain, returned from his tour of the Middle East and Europe, is down for the weekend, probably in Sedona, Arizona.
** CARVILLE TRASHES BILL RICHARDSON. The tightly-wrapped James Carville, showing the strain of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s situation — now that he’s no longer pretending to be a CNN political analyst discussing Clinton’s “masterful” debate performances — trashed Bill Richardson in today’s New York Times. It was an appropriately hyperbolic Easter theme.
“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic.”
The article describes the two months of entreaties from the Clintons to gain Richardson’s endorsement after the New Mexico governor dropped out of the presidential race. Of course, Richardson — who served as UN ambassador and energy secretary in the Clinton Administration — endorsed Barack Obama yesterday.
My understanding is that Richardson, the first major Latino presidential candidate, did it, not “for 30 pieces of silver,” as the overwrought Carville would have it, but because he’s come to the conclusion that Obama is the superior political figure.
Since Super Tuesday, Obama has been endorsed by 62 superdelegates. (Or “automatic delegates,” as Clinton agent Harold Ickes preferred to call them in arguing that they would deliver the nomination to Hillary.) Clinton has been endorsed by four. She lost one in the form of former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer.
** F1 TONIGHT! At 11:30 PM Saturday night, live from Kuala Lumpur, it’s the Malaysian Grand Prix. After last week’s season opener in Australia, 23-year old Brit Lewis Hamilton, the first black driver in Formula One racing, leads the way following another victory. But the Ferrari team, including the man who beat Hamilton by a single point for last season’s F1 world championship, Kimi Raikonnen, qualified for the front row on the starting grid. You can watch it in the US on Speed TV.
** SCHWARZENEGGER PUSHES HIS BUDGET REFORM PLAN. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continued his push this week for his version of state budget reform in Saturday’s weekly radio address. Opposition has yet to coalesce. The Democrats are in some disarray on the issue; some may recognize that the governorship is highly problematic otherwise, as former Governor Gray Davis learned.
Hi, this is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with another California Report.
There’s an old saying, that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Maybe we should engrave these words on the front steps of the Capitol, because when it comes to our budget, we have been listening to the same broken record year after year after year.
In the good times, when the economy booms and revenues pour in, the state cannot shove money out the door fast enough. Then, when the economy slows and the big budget deficits develop, everyone looks around, wondering where all that money went. We spend nearly every dime in the good years and are forced to make painful cuts in the down years.
Governors as far back as Earl Warren have proposed reforming California’s feast-or-famine budget system. But nothing has changed. We haven’t learned from history.
Imagine a dangerous road winding through the mountains. Year after year, cars careen off the edge, yet nothing is done. No guardrails are installed. No warning signals or speed limits are posted. It would be madness not to correct that. The same is true with our budget.
When I came into office in 2003, I recognized the problem. I tried to reform our budget system, but the legislature was not ready to go along. I tried again in 2005, but that was defeated. So here we are again in 2008, another down year…a famine year.
All state programs are facing deep cuts. But while we can’t avoid the tough choices this year, there is something we can do about the future. We can make sure that we never put Californians on this rollercoaster ride again by finally reforming our broken budget system.
It is unfair to pump up programs so quickly one year, only to deflate them the next. Take education for instance. Over the last several years, during the good economic times we funded schools to historic highs, billions of dollars above Proposition 98. Now, we don’t have enough money for our schools. Thousands of teachers across the state are being handed pink slips. Think how crazy that is.
We need stability. We need a guardrail to protect our budget from flying off that cliff. Under my plan, we will create that guardrail, which is called a rainy-day fund. The legislature would be required to save money in the good years to cover shortfalls in the bad years.
We also need more warning signals, speed limit signs, something to tell us that there’s danger ahead, so we can slow the car down and stay on the road. So my plan will require the legislature to make immediate adjustments if a deficit begins developing in the middle of the year.
I am going up and down the state talking about budget reform, because nothing is more important to move California forward. So let’s fix the system, restore the public’s confidence in government and give California a stable budget and a bright future. Thank you for listening.
** 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 closed at $101.84 per barrel on Friday. The oil price has dropped dramatically in the past few days on expectations of a global economic slowdown and possible recession. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
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