President-elect Barack Obama announced key members of his energy and environmental leadership team yesterday in Chicago. Two Californians are on board.
** LOOKS LIKE ANOTHER SENATOR KENNEDY. Nevadan Harry Reid, the Senate’s leader, is lobbying New York Governor David Paterson to appoint Caroline Kennedy to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. With the exception of two years following her father’s election to the presidency — while his college roommate held the seat for too young brother Teddy — a Kennedy has been in the Senate for 56 years. With Ted having terminal brain cancer, that period will be extended nonetheless. Caroline Kennedy, whose endorsement was key for the president-elect, will, in time, be the first woman to head the family’s political operations.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS: AND AGAIN. The state Assembly goes into session this afternoon to try, again, to shake loose some Repblican votes for a package of cuts and new revenues. I don’t know all that’s in the package, but the revenues inclde a three-year increase in the sales tax, a new oil severance tax of 9.9%, and a nickel-a-drink tax on alcohol. There might be a lockdown, something which should have been tried earlier. Absent action, the state’s new public works projects grind to a halt.
** POIZNER ON FACEBOOK. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, the apparent Republican frontrunner for governor in 2010, announced the start of his gubernatorial exploratory committee’s online social networking presence. He’s on Facebook, where he hopes to use its powerful social networking tools. Poizner, who made a fortune in Silicon Valley by inventing the device that enable cell phone tracking, has the endorseents of most GOP legislators.
** IN TIME FOR THE COLD SEASON … California Attorney General Jerry Brown today joined with 32 other state attorneys general in announcing a $7 million settlement with Airborne, Inc. that forces the company to stop advertisements that “dramatically misrepresented” its dietary supplements as cold remedies.
“Airborne dramatically misrepresented its products as cold remedies without any scientific evidence to back up its claims,” the former governor said. “Under this agreement, the company will stop advertisements that suggest that its products are a cure for the common cold.”
So I guess it’s not the magical elixir after all.
** DIFI IS THE NEW CHAIR OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE PANEL. BROWN IS THE LEADER FOR 2010. Senator Dianne Feinstein will be the new chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as I expected. The current chair, West Virginia’s Jay Rockefeller, shifted to head the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, overseeing key industries such as telecommunications, tobacco and fisheries. Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, shifted from heading that panel to chairing the Senate Appropriations Committee, which had been chaired by West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, who is 91.
And John Kerry is the new head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, replacing Vice President-elect Biden. Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, is now touring world hot spots.
I worked with a key member of Senate Intelligence. One doesn’t take on the leadership of this panel on a short-term basis. What DiFi’s leadership of Senate Intelligence means is that former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown is the frontrunner for governor of California in 2010, as anticipated here.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama has private meetings in Chicago.
He has an 8:45 AM Pacific press conference, at which he is expected to appoint Arne Duncan as secretary of education. He’s the head of the Chicago schools.
Mr. Duncan, a 44-year-old Harvard graduate, has raised achievement in the nation’s third-largest school district and often faced the ticklish challenge of shuttering failing schools and replacing ineffective teachers, usually with improved results. He represents a compromise choice in the debate that has divided Democrats in recent months over the proper course for public-school policy after the Bush years.
In June, rival nationwide groups of educators circulated competing educational manifestos, with one group espousing a get-tough policy based on pushing teachers and administrators harder to raise achievement, and another arguing that schools alone could not close the racial achievement gap and urging new investments in school-based health clinics and other social programs to help poor students learn.
Mr. Duncan was the only big-city superintendent to sign both manifestos. He argued that the nation’s schools needed to be held accountable for student progress, but also needed major new investments, new talent and new teacher-training efforts. In straddling the two camps, Mr. Duncan seemed to reflect Mr. Obama’s own impatience with what he has called “tired educational debates.”
Incidentally, it’s looking like LA Congressman Xavier Becerra, the top pick for trade rep, is opting to stay in Congress.
Obama also meets with key members of his economic team. Attendees will include: Vice President-elect Biden, Secretary of Treasury designee Timothy Geithner, National Economic Council Director designee Lawrence Summers, Office of Management and Budget designee Peter Orszag, Council of Economic Advisors Chair designee Christina Romer, Domestic Policy Council Director designee Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner, Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice-President designee Jared Bernstein, President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chair Paul Volcker, Member designee of the Council of Economic Advisers and Staff Director designee of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Austan Goolsbee, and White House Chief of Staff designee Rahm Emanuel.
A Russian naval squadron is on its way to Cuba for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds private talks in the Capitol.
The long-awaited — as in two years — GOP “plan” (see below) on the state’s chronic and deepening fiscal crisis doesn’t do a lot, if anything, to solve things. Shocking, I know.
** CALIFORNIA CRACKING. From my new column.
** 12 KEY THINGS ABOUT THE MUMBAI CRISIS. From my December 5th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW POWER TROIKA FACES CRISES OLD AND NEW. From my December 3rd column.
** HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MR. PRESIDENT-ELECT! While Barack Obama promised “a new and brighter day yet to come” in his Thanksgiving address, an old and darker day yet to leave reminds that events — and perhaps political fate itself — can turn on a dime in presidential politics. …
For a political operation that prefers to focus on its preferences, it’s a sharp reminder to Team Obama that the presidency can be every bit as reactive as it is proactive. … From my November 28th 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 is trading between $45 and $46 per barrel. This is above the four-year low of $40.89 per barrel reached on December 5th .
The drop of $102 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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