Barack Obama hits John McCain for his top economic advisors Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina, and for his support for President Bush’s economic program.
** END OF DAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he has an improved California budget deal with legislative leaders, after promising to veto the budget they passed late Monday night. Both houses of the California Legislature are meeting late this afternoon and are expected to pass the revised budget, which includes three budget reforms demanded by Schwarzenegger and replaces the scheme to forcibly borrow money from taxpayers through accelerated income tax withholding with larger penalties on corporations underpaying their taxes. When asked about a budget-signing ceremony, Schwarzenegger said he would sign the budget sometime early next week, but said he would definitely not call it a “ceremony,” as there is “nothing to celebrate.” … Barack Obama’s opened up a big lead in battleground Iowa in the new Survey USA poll, 54% to 43%. … A variety of polls, public and private, show McCain in a slow slide in Rust Belt battleground states, with Sarah Palin not helping.
** ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S LEGACY AND FUTURE. Here is the last of my five daily columns this week for the LA Times on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California. This is the paper’s point-counterpoint feature, with me opposite Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times political reporter and editor Bill Boyarsky, author of biographies of Ronald Reagan and Jesse Unruh.
This, I’m sure, is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California for nearly 28 more months.
No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in the preparation of this column.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE WEBCAST THIS AFTERNOON ON THE CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds a Capitol press conference at 3 PM this afternoon to discuss the chronic state budget crisis. After promising a veto of the budget produced by the Legislature, whose leaders mistakenly thought they could swiftly override, he won a few concessions and there now seems to be a deal going forward, with votes set for late afternoon in both the Assembly and Senate. The event will be webcast live at www.gov.ca.gov.
** CURIOUS DEBATE AROUND THE FINANCIAL MELTDOWN. Well, at least California’s chronically messed-up budget is stabilized again, even somewhat better than it was set to be just a few days ago. But for all the murk and inertia around that mess, it’s a beacon of clarity compared to the debate around the meltdown of much the national and global financial sector.
With the crisis full-blown, the laissez faire Bush/Cheney administration is reacting like a social democratic regime. Big bailouts, still hazy in their particulars but not in their scope, are the order of the day. Hundreds of billions of dollars of government money is being used to float financial markets and bail out at least one firm, the world’s biggest insurance firm, and perhaps more.
In the midst of all this, the presidential campaign debate has become quite murky. It’s an environment once again advantaging Barack Obama and the Democrats, as Obama moves quickly this week to leads in most polls.
But it’s not clear precisely what Obama wants done. He met with key economic advisors today in Florida — including much of the top Bill Clinton team from his Cabinet and White House — and came forth with a similar speech to what he said earlier in the week. Action is needed. Regulators and overseers have failed. He’s not against what the Bush administration is doing. But he’s not specifically endorsing it and is continuing to evaluate the situation. Oh, and this shows the problems of financialist greed and the failure of John McCain’s deregulationist approach.
For his part, McCain has lurched around this week. On Monday, he called the American economy strong and called for a 9/11-style commission to investigate. He later adjusted his remarks on the state of the economy. And lurched into an angry sort of populist rhetoric against greed. Hit with reminders of his deregulationist record and the numbers of Wall Street lobbyists deeply involved with running his campaign, he attacked Obama as a tax-and-spend Democrat and tried to link him to the disgraced former head of the failed Fannie Mae home finance corporation. He said he would fire Securities & Exchange Commission head Chris Cox, which he couldn’t do. Today he declared he is against more bailouts — even as the Bush team is pressing forward — and unveiled a plan to help some homeowners. And attacked Obama, implying he bore responsibility for the meltdown.
If McCain is hyperactive, Obama is phlegmatic. While the overall environment should favor Obama, it’s quite dangerous for him. I’ll get into why in a forthcoming column.
** PALIN PALING. Two weeks ago, I wrote that Sarah Palin would prove to be a base play for the Republicans, someone too controversial to be more than a colorful sideshow, who Democrats should not concentrate on unless they wanted to allow Team McCain to win sympathy for her. That she was a target-rich environment for the media. That’s showing up in the polls already.
“Over the course of a single weekend, in other words, Palin went from being the most popular White House hopeful to the least.” In another poll I’ve heard of, she’s heading to net negative in favorable/unfavorable.
** CALIFORNIA UNEMPLOYMENT RATE NOW NATION’S THIRD HIGHEST. California’s unemployment rate hit 7.7% last month, tying Mississippi for third highest in the nation. It trails only Michigan’s 8.9% and Rhode Island’s 8.5%. Mississippi’s is probably higher now, though, due to hurricane disruption. California is especially hard hit by the housing and subprime mortgage crises.
** NATIONAL POW/MIA DAY AND THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.S. AIR FORCE. Today is National POW/MIA Day, honoring those who served as prisoners of war and those still missing in action. And it is the 60th anniversary of the US Air Force.
The Air Force began decades earlier as part of the US Army, the Army Air Corps. But after World War II, when air power became a decisive element for the first time in the history of warfare, and with the global struggle with the Soviet Union known as the Cold War in full bloom, the Air Force became its own officially separate service with its own dimensional doctrinees.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Coral Gables, Florida. Obama confers with economic advisors and delivers a speech on the financial crisis, in part reacting to fresh news of a massive federal bailout in the works.
Joe Biden is in Sterling, Virginia.
John McCain is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Blaine, Minnesota, and Washington, DC. He delivers remarks on the financial crisis, also reacting to the sudden massive federal bailout
Sarah Palin is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Blaine, Minnesota, and Orlando, Florida.
In this brand new TV ad, John McCain attacks Barack Obama for having nothing to say about the financial crisis.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will have private meetings and conversations in and around the Capitol today. His principal topic, of course, is the chronic California budget crisis. Having won his budget stare-down with legislative leaders, who were curiously unaware of the political reality that they didn’t have the votes to override his veto of their budget package, both houses of the Legislature will meet late this afternoon to vote on a revised budget.
** THIS WEEK — ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA: FIVE COLUMNS FOR THE LATIMES.COM. This week I am doing daily columns for the Los Angeles Times’ point/counterpoint feature, opposite Pulitzer Prize-winning former LA Times reporter and editor Bill Boyarsky. The topic? Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I kicked things off Monday by addressing this question. Is California better off now under Schwarzenegger than it was before the dramatic 2003 recall?
On Tuesday, the topic was Schwarzenegger on taxes. Wednesday, should he have decided to veto the state budget? Yesterday, what about post-partisanship? Today, what is Schwarzenegger’s legacy and future?
** SCHWARZENEGGER: POST-PARTISANSHIP VS. HYPER-PARTISANSHIP. (from yesterday’s LA Times column)
What to make of Schwarzenegger’s post-partisan mode of politics? And how effective is it? First, you have to define what it is and why it exists.
I agree with Bill Boyarsky that a constructive partisanship is part and parcel of the American system of politics and governance. But partisanship has jumped the curb, morphing (to use a word made popular by Terminator II) into hyper-partisanship.
Hyper-partisanship infects state and national politics today. It’s a corrosive political style that plays to the extremes of both parties. It’s about “mobilizing the base,” which is how Karl Rove’s approach to re-electing President Bush can be summed up. It’s about demonizing your opponents, a tactic that characterizes both the left and the right ends of the blogosphere, not to mention talk radio.
It’s not really about finding solutions — and it’s really not very popular.
Post-partisanship is the effort to move beyond hyper-partisanship, to engage with voters and deal with issues beyond the crouched ideological confines of gerrymandered districts, base mobilization strategies, and the politics of personal destruction.
Here in California, the rise of hyper-partisanship has actually undermined the parties themselves. Independent voters, officially called “decline to state,” are the fastest-growing bloc, while the Republicans and Democrats are seeing their shares of the electorate fall. When you include the American Independent Party (most of whose registrants — which included Jennifer Siebel, new wife of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom — unwittingly signed up not realizing it’s actually a tiny right-wing party), independent voters are about 22% of the California electorate.
Schwarzenegger’s smashingly successful re-election campaign — in which he crushed a hyper-partisan Democrat by 17 points in a great year for Democrats across the country — was largely geared toward independent voters. With most Republicans backing Schwarzenegger, notwithstanding the yapping about him from hyper-partisans of the far right, the post-partisan approach was the clear path to victory in the statewide election. It assured that Schwarzenegger would win most of the independents and a good slice of the Democrats.
It’s no coincidence that 2006, a year in which Californians paid a lot of attention to state politics on account of the gubernatorial election, was also a year for notable post-partisan accomplishments: The biggest infrastructure investment program in California’s history; the biggest solar energy program in the country; an increase in the minimum wage; Schwarzenegger’s rescue of what is now the biggest stem cell research program in the world; and a landmark program to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
These accomplishments came about, in many respects, through Schwarzenegger’s ability to work with Democratic legislative leaders Fabian Nuñez and Don Perata. Nuñez in particular was a fascinating player in this. Coming from the ranks of organized labor, you can’t say he’s not a real Democrat. While former Treasurer Phil Angelides, the Democrat Schwarzenegger defeated in 2006, had styled himself as “the anti-Arnold,” reflexively opposing anything the former action superstar did or said, it was really then-Assembly Speaker Nuñez who deserved the moniker. He created far more trouble for Schwarzenegger than Angelides or anyone else.
But Nuñez kept trying to figure Schwarzenegger out, wondering if there might be a way to work together. The two finally met at length, secretly, in late summer 2005, looking for ways to avert the special election Schwarzenegger had called for his initiative reform package. Naturally, the hard partisans in both men’s camps worked to keep the battle on. Although they couldn’t quite find the deal to stop the 2005 special election, they had found a way to work together. And in 2007, their post-partisan approach came tantalizingly close to achieving a universal healthcare program for California.
The health care experience last year points to the shortcomings of post-partisanship, or perhaps of politics itself. Unlike infrastructure, which even some conservative Republicans could be convinced to support, health care is an extraordinarily complex issue with many moving parts that are hard to articulate. And on the state budget, with legislative Republicans dominated by their anti-government faction and legislative Democrats dominated by their ultra-government faction, it’s even more difficult — especially in a non-election year for California’s governorship, with the public not paying attention and the news media in a state of devolution.
** FAR RIGHT’S HYPOCRISY SPOTLIGHTED IN CALIFORNIA BUDGET FIASCO. From my latest Huffington Post column.
** FANTASY & REALITY: MCCAIN/PALIN ON RUSSIA AFTER THE GEORGIA WAR. There’s a big gap between the political fantasy being expressed and the political and military reality. … From my column last Friday.
** DECONSTRUCTING THE BIG MAC ATTACK: 12 KEY THINGS TO UNDERSTAND. It’s important to step back from the hourly yip-yap of the campaign to understand what’s really happening. Especially with more than a few Dems coming down with “a case of the drizzles,” to borrow a phrase from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. At least until the polls started turning again in Obama’s direction, that is. … Better still to understand what Team McCain is doing that is allowing it more success than seemed likely in a year like this. … From my September 10th column.
** 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. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading in the $99 to $100 per barrel range.
After plummeting the last few days over the global financial turmoil emanating from Wall Street, the price has gone back up a bit upon news of the massive US governmental bailout of the world’s largest insurance firm, American International Group, and upon news that the federal government is prepared to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system.
The drop of over $48 per barrel since the record high two months ago comes on acknowledgement that the weak US economy will cut future demand and the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. The Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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