Vlad and Boris present “Song for Sarah (For Mrs. Palin).” (h/t William Gibson)
** GLOBAL OBAMA: BIG OPPORTUNITIES, BIGGER CHALLENGES. From my new column.
** HERE’S HOW TO BEAT OBAMA. HE’S NOT AN AMERICAN CITIZEN! The far right, in the form of the National Review Online and even more fringey sources, again raises the nonsensical point that Barack Obama is not really an American. Or, maybe he is, but maybe he was a citizen of one or two other countries, too. And, er, maybe that would mean he is disqualified from becoming president on January 20, 2009.
I think I’ve heard this before.
Jerry Brown isn’t really a lawyer, so he can’t be the attorney general of California. Even though he graduated from Yale Law School, was a Supreme Court clerk, and the governor of California. Okay, well, he is a lawyer, but he didn’t pay his bar association fees for a few years while he was mayor of Oakland and not practicing law.
That worked out really well, didn’t it?
** CONSERVATIVE LONDON MAYOR BACKS OBAMA. The new star of Britain’s Conservative Party, new London Mayor Boris Johnson, endorsed Barack Obama today in a column in the Telegraph.
Writes Johnson: There are all sorts of reasons for hoping that Barack Hussein Obama will be the next president of the United States. He seems highly intelligent. He has an air of courtesy and sincerity. Unlike the current occupant of the White House, he has no difficulty in orally extemporising a series of grammatical English sentences, each containing a main verb.
Unlike his opponent, he visibly incarnates change and hope, at a time when America desperately needs both. An Obama win could signify the end of race-based politics The legacy of George Bush may take years, if not decades, to determine.
But at present he seems to have pulled off an astonishing double whammy.
However well-intentioned it was, the catastrophic and unpopular intervention in Iraq has served in some parts of the world to discredit the very idea of western democracy.
The recent collapse of the banking system, and the humiliating resort to semi-socialist solutions, has done a great deal to discredit – in some people’s eyes – the idea of free-market capitalism.
Democracy and capitalism are the two great pillars of the American idea.
To have rocked one of those pillars may be regarded as a misfortune.
To have damaged the reputation of both, at home and abroad, is a pretty stunning achievement for an American president.
** GEORGIA POLL: MCCAIN BY 5. In the new Rasmussen poll of Georgia, which no one had seen as a battleground state, John McCain leads Barack Obama, 51% to 46%. Last month, McCain led by 11 points in the Peach State, which was one of the original seven Confederate states.
** MINNESOTA POLL: OBAMA BY 15. Barack Obama leads John McCain in the new Rasmussen poll of battleground Minnesota, 56% to 41%. Obama leads amongst independents, 54-42. Sarah Palin is a net negative in this state in which she was expected to help McCain win.
The Republican national convention was held in St. Paul, Minnesota as part of a national strategy to win this Upper Midwest state.
** OBAMA BLITZING MCCAIN IN SWING STATE ADVERTISING. The Nielsen organization reveals that Barack Obama far out-stripped John McCain in TV advertising in seven swing states in the past two weeks.
In seven key swing states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – Obama placed 150% more ad units (53,049 v. 21,106) than McCain between October 6 and October 22, 2008.
Obama’s advertising has been most prolific in Florida, where he ran 15,887 ads between October 6 and October 22, 2008, outpacing McCain’s 4,662 ads by 240%.
The Morning Column: GREENSPAN ACKNOWLEDGES THE OBVIOUS. At yesterday’s hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Los Angeles Congressman Henry Waxman, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted the obvious.
Which is that the epic financial crisis of Wall Street – which has now spread round the world – was not merely caused by too many risky mortgages. That was a serious problem in itself. But the deeper problem came when various Wall Street institutions, most of them now no longer independent, created speculative investment vehicles atop those mortgages.
“I made a mistake in presuming that the self interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and the equity in the firms,” Greenspan told his interlocutor Waxman and other members of one of Congress’s most powerful committees.
Greenspan, a staunch deregulationist, ran what has been until now the world’s most powerful central bank from 1987 until 2006. He served, ostensibly, under four presidents. Three of them were Republicans – Ronald Reagan, who appointed Greenspan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and George W. Bush. And one Democrat, Bill Clinton. Greenspan now ackowledges that his staunchly deregulationist ideology has led to results that are from what he anticipated.
“The problem here is that something that looked to be a very solid edifice and indeed a critical pillar to market competition and free markets did break down. And that, as I said, shocked me and I don’t fully understand why it happened,” Greenspan said. “And to the extent I figure out where it happened and why, I will change my views. And if the facts change, I will change.”
As a point of disclosure, I’m acquainted with Waxman. He was the chairman of the California delegation to the 1984 Democratic National Convention, and I was a vice chairman of the California delegation. Waxman is one of the very foremost of Jewish-American politicians, as should be obvious, and a very smart guy, as should also be obvious.
Waxman, who has represented Los Angeles in Congress since he was first elected in 1974, is a center-left Democrat. He’s a pragmatist, not an ideologue, as reflected by his role as co-leader – with fellow LA Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – of one of the nation’s most powerful political machines. Until they both got tired of it.
Hey, it’s a California thing.
Barack Obama’s new ad urges voters to check out how they would do under his tax plan.
** GEORGIA POLL: AN OBAMA-MCCAIN TOSS-UP. The brand-new Insider Advantage poll of Georgia – which no one anticipated would be a battleground state – shows Barack Obama with a slight edge over John McCain in this ultimate state of the old Confederacy, 48% to 47%. Obama appears to have somewhat more room for movement amongst the undecideds than does McCain.
** BACHMANN LOSES LEAD IN MINNESOTA CONGRESSIONAL RACE. Far right Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has lost her lead in the new Survey USA poll of her race with little-known Democratic challenger Elwyn Tinklenberg. Tinklenberg now leads Bachmann, 47% to 44%.
Bachmann appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Christ Matthews last week. During the course of her interview, she declared that presidential frontrunner Barack Obama is “anti-American” and went on to call for a thorough investigation of Congress to root out other “anti-Americans.”
In the wake of her interview, the aforementioned Mr. Tinklenberg raised $1 million from upset citizens around the country.
Bachmann represents what is supposed to be a safe, rock-ribbed Republican district. Which is why she felt safe in presenting such preposterous comments on a national television show.
Subsequent to her debacle on MSNBC, she claimed that she was manipulated into calling Obama and other Democratic elected officials “anti-American.” Well, no. I have watched the interview. Bachmann said exactly what she wanted to say. Matthews merely drew her out.
John McCain’s latest attack ad seizes on a Joe Biden comment at a private fundraiser in Seattle about foreign powers testing a new president.
** TV AD WARS: MCCAIN’S JOE THE PLUMBER CAMPAIGN (SERIOUSLY). With two weeks to go, it looks like John McCain is going with Joe the Plumber as the advertising centerpiece of his campaign. Still. That seemed in question to me yesterday, as the fellow’s vogue of last week is already fading. But it may be, that absent some fantastic new character attack against Barack Obama, it’s the campaign’s best shot left at attempting to drive an economic message. Talk about your “mad men.”
So McCain has flickery ads with grained-up up the footage, with a message making it sound like Obama will raise everybody’s taxes. I guess that’s what they think they have to do to punch through when Obama is out-gunning them 4 to 1 on the air. You can see one version of a Joe the Plumber ad above, and one below.
McCain has lately been playing that Joe the Plumber card hard, invoking him more than running mate Sarah Palin, who polls show has become a liability outside the conservative Republican base. That means scaring voters about Obama and his “socialist” policies, as McCain put it the other day, as a big tax-and-spender. But in this environment, most voters probably want government to spend in order to stimulate the economy and provide more of a safety net. So the success of this tack depends on the McCain campaign’s ability to convince people that Obama would raise their taxes, and not the taxes of rich people and corporations. … From Tuesday’s column.
** WHERE THEY ARE TODAY.
Barack Obama is in Honolulu, Hawaii, visiting his 85-year old grandmother for what may be the last time.
Joe Biden is in Charleston and Martinsville, West Virginia. Obama, amazingly, in striking distance in the Mountaineer State.
John McCain is in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Durango, Colorado. Longtime red state Colorado is sliding away from the Republicans and McCain is trying to stop it. If Colorado goes, it is virtually impossible for McCain to win.
Sarah Palin is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri. The Republican ticket continues its last ditch effort to snatch Pennsylvania away from the Democrats. And Palin is also trying to help the ticket hold onto red state Missouri. Where she is actually, as it happens, unpopular.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers a keynote address tonight at the annual NAACP convention in Burlingame, just south of San Francisco Internation Airport.
His Proposition 11 redistricting reform initiation appears to have a halfway decent chance of becoming the first such major initiative to prevail at the ballot box.
** INSIDE THE “BRADLEY EFFECT.” Barack Obama has won all three presidential debates over John McCain. He has a solid lead in the polls. What could go wrong for him? Well, many say the polls could be wrong, skewed by a hidden racist vote.
The “Bradley effect” — the notion that white voters lie to pollsters when a black candidate is in the race — has become widely known. But what you think you know from the campaign that gave rise to the phrase, then Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s ultimately near-miss race for governor of California in 1982, isn’t so.
I was in the middle of that, doing opposition research for Bradley’s campaign. I vividly recall election day that November, as reports from the exit polling done by California’s leading polling organization, the Field Poll, circulated. It seemed that Bradley, the first black mayor of Los Angeles, was headed for a big win as California’s first black governor. … From my Friday Huffington Post column.
** THE “MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE” FANTASY: PARANOIA AND IRONY ABOUND. “He’s … an Arab.” It’s perhaps fitting that last week ended that way for John McCain — face to face, embarrassingly, with an angry supporter sputtering about Barack Obama — given that he began it with a speech playing to the deep swamp of fevered innuendo about Obama as a “Manchurian candidate” out to seize the presidency and take down America. …
The Manchurian candidate ugliness began reaching critical mass over two years ago. That’s when it became apparent that Obama could be the figure of the future in American politics. …
Produced in 1962, The Manchurian Candidate is a darkly satirical view of far right politics in America. It was made with the encouragement of President John F. Kennedy, who was all too aware of the dangers of the paranoid style in American politics, starring his good friend Frank Sinatra, as Sinatra himself recounted in a 1988 documentary on the making of the film. … From a recent 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.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL 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 $64 to $65 per barrel range. OPEC, meeting in Vienna, has just announced a 1.5 million barrel per day production cut. But, with stock markets slumping further in Asia and Europe, this move has failed to arrest the oil slide.
Deutsche Bank issued a forecast over the weekend that crude oil will trade at $60 per barrel in 2009 amidst a possible “major global recession.”
The drop of $83 per barrel since the record high three months ago comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And 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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