President-elect Barack Obama with French President Nicolas Sarkozy this past July in Paris.
** MIAMI BLUES: PALIN AND NATIONAL REPUBLICANS LOOK LIKE THE SAD CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY. … From my new column.
** OBAMA CAMPAIGN BONUSES. With the advantage of record-shattering fundraising, President-elect Barack Obama is offering every campaign staffer a set of unprecedented perks. Everyone gets a bonus equal to a month’s pay. (Some, of course, get more. It’s “Animal House.” The novel, not the movie …)
Plus they get to keep their campaign-issued laptop computers and smart phones.
I am told there are no such perks in the John McCain campaign. Though staffers are welcome to watch the spectacle around which articles of clothing VP nominee Sarah Palin and her family hang on to.
** BIBI COPIES BARACK. The once and perhaps future prime minister of Israel, conservative Likud candidate Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, has altered his web site. It now looks entirely like that of that Manchurian Candidate out to destroy Israel and elevate Iran, Barack Obama. You know, the president-elect of the United States.
Despite endless fear-mongering amongst the far right in Jewish-American politics, Obama won 78% of the Jewish-American vote.
** MAKING IT OFFICIAL: CALIFORNIAN DAN LUNGREN GOES FOR THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER POST. Former California Attorney General Dan Lungren, now Sacramento area Congressman Dan Lungren, made his campaign for the House minority leadership, which I mentioned a few days ago, official today. He is challenging Ohio Congressman John Boehner. I ran into Boehner on the campaign trail. While he is assailed by right-wingers as insufficiently conservative, I can assure you that by any objective measure, he is quite conservative.
Lungren, even in his currently gerrymandered district, had some trouble getting re-elected, defeating Dr. Bill Durston, a Vietnam War vet, by a 50-44 margin.
Lungren is an amiable fellow, son of Richard Nixon’s personal physician, who ran for governor of California in 1998 and was blown away by Gray Davis. The election was one of the biggest landslides in California history, with Davis crushing Lungren, 58-38.
I knew Lungren had a big problem when I recorded him saying: “Californians are even more conservative than they know.”
** CLINTON IN PLAY FOR SECRETARY OF STATE. Yes, it is true. Hillary Clinton has suddenly become a top contender to be Barack Obama’s secretary of state. The New York senator, former first lady, and tenacious former frontrunner for the presidency, made an unscheduled trip yesterday to Chicago to meet with President-elect Obama regarding a top role in the new Obama Administration. The principal focus of that role is that of US secretary of state.
Team Obama has been somewhat slow – though this is all happening fast in historical terms – to pick between 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and Vietnam War hero Senator John Kerry, who launched Obama’s presidential career by picking him to keynote the 2004 Democratic national convention, and Governor Bill Richardson, who delivered his state of New Mexico to the Obama candidacy and has ample experience as an international troubleshooting House Intelligence Committee member, US ambassador to the UN, and US secretary of energy.
I’m told by both Obama and Clinton sources that the interest in Hillary Clinton as Obama’s secretary of state is deep and genuine.
Obama’s favorite book is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” about Abraham Lincoln and his emergency cabinet of former opponents and contentious political rivals.
** SARKOZY AND RUSSIA LOOK TO “REGULATED CAPITALISM.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose election was touted by the American right-wing as a sign of a major shift in global politics to their end of the spectrum, met yesterday with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in advance of this weekend’s summit meeting of G-20 nations in Washington. France and Russia are in agreement on Sarkozy’s plan to promote “regulated capitalism” on a global basis in the wake of the epic financial meltdown on Wall Street.
The reason this meeting is taking place is that the European Union, under Sarkozy’s leadership, proposed to firmly regulate the world’s 30 top banks in order to avert any further manifestations of what we’re going through.
Needless to say, this is not what the far right in America anticipated when it hailed Sarkozy’s election as president of France over Socialist candidate Segolene Royal. Sarkozy took a hard line against Islamic jihadism in his country. Which the right mistook for a fundamental conservatism, ignoring his stance against the greenhouse effect, which they don’t believe in. Oops.
Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had an embarrassing conversation just before the election with “French President Nicolas Sarkozy,” actually an over-the-top-radio comedian from Montreal.
** PALLING WITH PALIN. Watch for the link to my upcoming column on the state of the Republicans. For those who know the state of the California Republican Party, my view of the state of the national Republican Party will not be unfamiliar.
** OBAMA’S AMERICA: OBSERVING THE OBSERVANCE OF VETERANS DAY. It’s just a week since the election of Barack Obama, and we’ve already seen a telling new approach to one of America’s most venerable holidays, Veterans Day.
President Bush downplayed the cost of war. He appeared frequently with able-bodied heroes he was decorating for bravery, but to my knowledge never attended even one of the thousands of funerals for those Americans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In stark contrast to this sweep-it-under-the-rug approach favored by the outgoing administration, the president-elect yesterday laid a simple wreath at Chicago’s Soldier Field to honor our nation’s military veterans. He was accompanied by Illinois veterans affairs director Tammy Duckworth, a decorated Iraq War veteran and Army major who lost both her legs when the helicopter she piloted was shot down by Iraqi insurgents.
Without making a big deal of it, Obama thus acknowledged the cost of war in a way that the current administration — which cut taxes and borrowed endlessly to finance its largely misbegotten strategies — has never dared. …
What is the meaning of Veterans Day in the Age of Obama? More to the point, what is the meaning of Veterans Day in the an age in which America is embroiled in two wars — one a war of retribution, the other a war of faulty strategy — in a world beset by Islamic jihadism and marked by an emerging multi-polarity?
Let’s start with a great irony. Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, established to mark the end of World War I. Which, as you know, was “the war to end all wars.” It didn’t work out that way.
Humanity is, in many respects, defined by the differences between us. That won’t be changing anytime soon. We do not live in a world in which pacifism is a winning approach.
We do live in a world in which military service is a necessity, and in which military force — or at least its highly credible threat, explicit or implicit — is necessary to pursue America’s strategic ends.
Which makes the determination of those strategic ends literally a matter of life and death. … From Wednesday’s column.
ATTENTION NEW WEST NOTES READERS: Now that the crush of the election season is out of the way, New West Notes is moving to its own server. I had planned to have the move, which these days can happen quite quickly and in a pretty straightforward way, completed over the weekend.
However, because of several underlying tech-related issues with Pajamas Media, there has been a delay. As it has always been, New West Notes will be available through NewWestNotes.com. So if you have bookmarked the Pajamas Media version, remember this instead … New West Notes is www.newwestnotes.com.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama continues to hold private meetings and discussions in Chicago. His emissaries to the G-20 summit on the global financial crisis this weekend in Washington, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former Congressman Jim Leach, are holding private meetings with various foreign heads of government and finance ministers.
Obama will meet on Monday with his Republican rival, John McCain, in his presidential transition headquarters in Chicago.
According to Obama spokesperson Stephanie Cutter: “On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will meet in Chicago at transition headquarters. It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality. They will be joined in the meeting by Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Rahm Emanuel.”
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today for private meetings and conversations, some of them around the very slow-starting special legislative session on the deepening nature of California’s chronic budget crisis – featuring the lame-duck Legislature — and two public events.
At 11:15 AM, Schwarzenegger will be in San Francisco to participate in a press conference welcoming United Airlines’ groundbreaking green flight from Australia. The first of its kind to touch down in California, the flight is part of the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) partnership to increase flight efficiency by reducing fuel consumption and aviation greenhouse gas emissions.
Schwarzenegger’s global governors’ climate change summit is next week in LA at the Beverly Hilton. NWN will cover this event and provide exclusive material. California and other US states will be signing cap-and-trade agreements on greenhouse gases with Indonesia and Brazil. And Schwarzenegger is of course looking forward to President-elect Obama’s commitment to greenlight the California climate change program.
At 1:30 PM, Schwarzenegger will join U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and California Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman in a press conference to highlight an agreement that will lay the groundwork for the largest dam removal project in history. California, Oregon and various federal and private partners are undertaking to improve water quality, water supply and fish populations in the Klamath River region, which is in the farthest reaches of Northern California.
** THE AMERICA THAT CAN BE/THE AMERICA THAT HAS BEEN. It was the America That Can Be vs. the America That Has Been. The future won. Yet there is much in the past that is of enduring value.
I must say that this campaign, for all its excitement, its twists and turns, and its thrilling outcome, was something of a disappointment. In Barack Obama and John McCain, we had the two most compelling figures in the two parties, representatives of an emerging set of values and an enduring tradition. … From my Friday Huffington Post column.
** DEMOCRATS: THE NEW WESTERN STRATEGY IS PAYING OFF. The election hasn’t happened yet, so it’s too soon to start counting electoral votes from the Democrats’ new Western strategy. But the dramatic re-shaping of the electoral battlefield is already clear enough. While the current party leadership deserves credit for a new path to presidential power, much of the new Western strategy has long been championed by former Senator Gary Hart.
The new strategy came into clear focus, fittingly for a party that knew it had to gamble on a new route to the White House, in Las Vegas, in January 2007 over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. The snow on the famed Las Vegas Strip the day before seemed only a little less unlikely to many in the national media and political establishments than the new moves that were unfolding. … From my October 31st column.
** GLOBAL OBAMA: BIG OPPORTUNITIES, BIGGER CHALLENGES. If he wins, Obama will have the global popularity that no American president has had in a great many years. But what sort of challenges will counter the global opportunity that an Obama presidency might afford America? … From my October 24th Huffington Post 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, on word of a new internation energy assessment forecasting declining energy demand with the slumping global economy, is now trading in the $55 to $56 per barrel range.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) cut its 2008 and 2009 oil demand forecasts today, citing the global financial crisis’ impact on the lower demand for gasoline, the Financial Times reported.
The drop of $92 per barrel since the record high over the summer 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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