Barack Obama discusses his trip to Iraq and Afghanistan yesterday in Amman, Jordan.
** VIRGINIA POLL: VERY SLIGHT OBAMA EDGE. The new Public Policy Polling survey of new battleground state Virginia shows Barack Obama with a tiny edge over John McCain, 46% to 44%. Virginia, until now, has been a consistent Republican state in presidential elections. But Virginia was one of Obama’s biggest victories in the Democratic nomination fight with Hillary Clinton. And former Governor Mark Warner is easily leading his U.S. Senate race, 57-32.
** MCCAIN CANCELS OIL RIG COUNTER-PROGRAMMING OF OBAMA BERLIN SPEECH. Due to bad weather. Caused by Hurricane Dolly. See the item below reporting this morning about the plan to counter-program Barack Obama’s big Thursday speech in Berlin. John McCain was going to chopper out to an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. To dramatize his plan to lower gasoline prices — not very soon, as it happens, as I may have mentioned — by expanding offshore oil drilling. But Hurricane Dolly made that problematic. Which may contain a hint about this energy strategy. And the McCain campaign cancelled the event. Now more talk about an early veep pick has re-emerged. It won’t happen.
** SCHWARZENEGGER MAKES A BIG BUDGET MOVE. Prior to appearing at the rally discussed in the item below, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. The chronically deficit-ridden and now very late state budget was a major topic. This afternoon it emerged that Schwarzenegger is preparing an executive order which will reduce some 200,000 state employees to minimum wage — federal minimum wage, that is, which is less than state minimum wage, which does not apply to state employees — as the state looks toward an impending cash crunch. Some layoffs may also be on tap. This will start putting real presssure on legislators to get off the dime, with some moves to follow.
** SCHWARZENEGGER PUSHES WATER PLAN AT LATINO RALLY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, and several Democratic legislators at a spirited Capitol rally of some 1000 Latinos, mostly farmworkers, on behalf of Schwarzenegger and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s $9.3 billion water bond.
“Look,” declared Schwarzenegger to the spirited crowd, many waving signs in Spanish saying “Water Is Life,” “what has happened just because we have a lack of infrastructure. For the second year in a row now we have a drought. And, at the same time, we see that the federal judge is reducing our water consumption and pumping Delta water by 30 percent. Our reservoirs are now low, 50 percent to 75 percent lower than they should be right now. And our farmers, already all of you are cutting back and letting fields sit empty because they can’t guarantee adequate water, which means a loss of billions and billions of dollars in revenues. Developments can’t move forward, prices are going up on water and we are now water rationing in various different areas all over the state of California.
When will they finally get it upstairs that we should do water infrastructure and build and continue on with what we started in 2006, which was a comprehensive reform, comprehensive infrastructure, the Strategic Growth Plan?”
** COLORADO: OBAMA LEADS. The new Rasmussen poll has Barack Obama leading John McCain in this Western battleground state, 49% to 42%. In the past 40 years, Colorado has voted for only one Democratic presidential nominee, Bill Clinton. But it’s the site of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and a key part of the Democrats’ new Western strategy, outlined in NWN in January 2007.
** MAC’S COUNTER-PROGRAMMING FOR THE BIG OBAMA SPEECH IN BERLIN: AN APPEARANCE ON A GULF OIL RIG. John McCain’s intends to counter-program Barack Obama’s big speech Thursday in Berlin with an appearance on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana to further promote his theme that offshore drilling can bring down high gasoline prices. One potential hitch, however. Hurricane Dolly.
The Morning Column: OBAMA’S TRICKIEST DAY
Wednesday is the trickiest day of Barack Obama’s week-long foreign tour. Because this is the day he’s in Israel. As it’s the Middle East, and I’m in California, the day is mostly over.
It’s gone well for Obama.
He had a buddy-buddy style meeting with General Ehud Barak, the current Israeli defense minister who previously served as prime minister and as head of the Israeli armed forces. Significant joking about their similar names.
Obama was hailed by Israeli President Shimon Peres, who declared that he is looking forward to having “a great American president again.” Peres, also a former prime minister, is of course a long-time Labourite.
Obama also met with former Prime Minister Benjahmin Netanyahu, a man of the more moderate right, in Israeli terms, and with Foreign Minister Tzivi Lipni. I don’t think he met with any of the far right figures who have had increasing sway in Israeli politics. Dinner tonight with embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, caught up in a lengthy corruption scandal, and unpopular from the unsuccessful 2006 war with Hezbollah.
Obama also visited the Sderot settlement, a frequent target of Hamas rocket attacks, and declared his solidarity with the inhabitants, saying he could imagine his anger at living in a place in which his two daughters came under rocket fire. And he went to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
There’s a world of landmines in all of this, of course, but Obama appears not have stepped on any.
Team McCain has tried to make hay out of Obama’s obvious “no genocide” statement by distributing something he said last year about how if genocide were the standard for US intervention we would be all over Africa.
McCain himself today said that offshore oil drilling is key to bringing down gasoline prices, and that President Bush’s move last month to drop the federal prohibition caused the price of oil to drop by $10 per barrel. I have no reason to believe that’s true. McCain cancelled his usual press avail afterwards.
Of the countries Obama is visiting where polling occurs, Israel is the only one in which the population favors McCain over Obama. McCain has been a longstanding friend of Israel. And Israel has a very hawkish constituency, with a populace deeply unsettled by the very unfortunate failure of the 2006 war with Hezbollah (which was covered in detail on NWN), which signaled that the IDF is not as formidable a force as it once was, and by a threatening Iran.
Among American Jewish voters, however, and despite many dire warnings to the contrary, Obama has a 2 to 1 lead over McCain. McCain only runs about 5 or 6 points better than did George W. Bush against John Kerry.
Tomorrow is Obama’s big speech in Berlin. He tends to rise to these occasions, though this may be the biggest crowd he has ever addressed, even bigger than the 75,000 who turned out for him in Portland during the Oregon primary which notched his victory in the earned delegates race with Hillary Clinton. Unless Obama comes off like he is already the president — which, as it happens, he is not — Berlin looks to be a triumph for him.
Barack Obama visiting Afghanistan over the weekend.
** 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.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCAST ON WATER AT NOONTIME. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a rally outside the State Capitol with the California Latino Water Coalition today supporting his and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s proposed $9.3 billion water bond.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Israel.
John McCain is in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for a town hall meeting in which he calls for offshore oil drilling to bring down gasoline prices.
** 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 $126 to $128 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 over $20 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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