John McCain’s campaign has released its second TV attack ad on Barack Obama in the past few days, blaming Obama for high gas prices.
** MCCAIN TRIES TO COUNTER-PROGRAM A WAVE. You know, Obama’s new flood of foreign policy cred. Resulting in a somewhat confusing, rather sulky, kitchen sink approach. With full analysis of the two new anti-Obama attack ads, first of the general election. One is arguable. The other is preposterous. From my other blog.
** IS THE INFAMOUS AHMED CHALABI BEHIND MALIKI’S PRO-OBAMA MOVE? Here is what we call reported speculation that notorious Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, a favorite of the neoconservative faction and a chief prodder behind the US invasion of Iraq, and the faulty intelligence underlying it, is one of the people who pushed Iraq’s prime minister into lining up behind Barack Obama’s timeline for US withdrawal. This guy is such a character — once the warhawks’ choice to be prime minister of Iraq, till it turned out he wasn’t very popular with Iraqis, and may be tied to Iran — that I can’t begin to do this justice in an item. Why might he make such a move? He’s now out of favor with the Bush/Cheney White House and the Pentagon, once his key power bases. And he may see Obama as the most likely winner.
** CALIFORNIA FORECLOSURES HIT 20-YEAR HIGH. Or, as Phil Gramm would say, the economy has never been stronger. The only good news? The rate of increase has slowed.
** CALIFORNIA INITIATIVES. The Field Poll reported last week that the constitutional amendment to ban same sex initiative is trailing, 42% to 51%. Today Field had some more numbers on other initiatives on California’s November statewide ballot.
The high-speed rail bonds initiative is up, 56-30. Parental notification on abortion, a perennial, is up 48-39. Increased renewable energy requirements for the utilities is up, 63-24. And redistricting reform is up, 42-30.
Redistricting reform and high-speed rail will be priorities for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The renewable energy one is complicated, as quite a few enviros are against it for some rather technical reasons, and Schwarzenegger has already established high mandates through the Public Utilities Commission.
General voter awareness of the November ballot initiatives is low, as one might suspect in the middle of July.
** NORTH CAROLINA POLL: MCCAIN BY 3. John McCain has a surprisingly small lead in this historically Republican Southern state. In the new Rasmussen poll, it’s McCain 45%, Obama 42%. Obama is putting on a big voter registration drive in North Carolina, where he essentially won the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton, so this should stay close all the way to the wire.
** ALASKA POLL: MCCAIN BY 5. Alaska is a state that in the past has been easily placed in the Republican presidential column with big margins. The latest Rasmussen poll has John McCain leading Barack Obama, 45% to 40%. The Republicans have a deep problem in Alaska. Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Stevens trails Democratic challenger Mark Begich by 9 points.
John McCain may have to take the trek up near the Arctic Circle to hold these three electoral votes, for the Obama campaign has organizers on the ground and is advertising there steadily.
The Morning Column: MAC’S PROBLEM: COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. Barack Obama just held a 45-minute press conference carried live on all cable news nets from Amman, Jordan, in which he discussed his trip so far to Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Iraq. It was a smooth performance. He looked and sounded the part.
He noted the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan (which NWN has been noting for about two years) and the need to send several more US combat brigades there. He mentioned that he had “inspected the porous border” between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recall that he advocated US military strikes against Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens inside Pakistan, if the Pakistani government does nothing, as it generally has.
With regard to Iraq, Obama held fast to his timeline for withdrawing US combat forces, leaving a residual presence — noting that his views and those of the Iraqi government are now in concert — while retaining flexibility if the security situation were to deteriorate.
He’s touring Jordan, a not so silent lynchpin of the ME, dinner with the king and queen, then off to Israel tonight.
With all this going on, and with Obama delivering a strong performance to date, John McCain has a couple of problems. Putting aside the point that Iraq’s government has essentially endorsed Obama’s policy toward Iraq, which of course underlies a tectonic shift now underway, there is the question of what to do while all this is going on.
The answer has been something of a kitchen sink approach. McCain vehemently denounced Obama yesterday as, essentially, a know-nothing who was never in the military even as he worked to draw attention to his concern with economic and energy concerns, now intertwined. His surrogates attack Obama on national security matters. He has another town hall today in the now battleground state of New Hampshire, largely on economic matters. But inevitably the media focus will be on his reactions to Obama’s trip.
McCain also has two TV attack ads up on Obama, the first of the general election campaign.
One, discussed yesterday, and playing below, criticizes Obama for not holding a hearing of his Senate subcommittee on Europe on the topic of Afghanistan, for not going to Iraq since 2006 (he was just there, of course), and for not supporting funding for the Iraq surge.
The other, brand new, playing above, blames high gasoline prices on Obama. This tends to leave out the role of President Bush.
Incidentally, my gas price has gone down further in the past few days than it would have had the gas tax holiday (which also would have cut federal highway funding) advocated by McCain been enacted. This 20 cent a gallon drop coincided with the US publicly negotiating with Iran.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Jordan and Israel.
John McCain is in New Hampshire and Maryland. He has a town hall meeting in Rochester, New Hampshire, meets with the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican National Convention, and has a fundraiser in Baltimore.
** TV AD WARS: GLOBAL O v. LATIN MAC. From my other blog.
** 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, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. 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 now in the $127 to $130 per barrel range. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil closed down on Friday at $128.88 per barrel. The drop of nearly $120 per barrel came amidst multiple signs that the weak US economy will cut future demand and fresh signs of a rapprochement between the US and Iran.
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