Israel prepares for a possible ground assault on the Gaza Strip.
** VOTERS SAY “FREE MARKET” … BUT WANT MORE REGULATION. The new Republican Rasmussen poll has discovered something obvious in American life. Most voters say they prefer the free market to socialism, by 70% to 15%.
But most also say they want more regulation of big business, not less, by 52% to 35%.
It’s not really the dichotomy it seems on the surface. America was founded on a suspicion of centralized authority.
But that extends to private authority as well as public authority. And private authority has been having a big run of it in America these past eight years.
The Morning Column: MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
Another short week in presidential and California politics. Probably. Though not in geopolitics.
President-elect Barack Obama continues his family holiday sojourn in the Aloha State, with no public appearances or statements on tap save for his weekly video/radio address.
But geopolitical crises may impinge.
On the geopolitical front, Israel is continuing its assault, begun just after Christmas, on Hamas-related targets in the Gaza Strip, retaliating for repeated rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory. Hundreds have been killed in the attacks, carried out by air. Now there are signs that Israel is preparing a ground offensive.
In the Mumbai crisis, Pakistan is moving tens of thousands of troops from its border with Afghanistan – where they are part of the US fight against a resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda – to its border with India. Indian jets in the past week have probed Pakistani air defenses and several battalions of special operations troops have been dispatched to the Pakistani border, as India remains unsatisfied by Pakistani attempts to crack down on Islamist elements judged to be behind the attacks just before Thanksgiving.
Whether the move is a further slide to war or not, it is likely to have a serious effect on the renewed Afghan War, which hasn’t been going well for the past few years.
In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders continue to talk about a possible solution to the state’s chronic and deepening budget crisis.
We’ll see how that goes.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama continues his holiday vacation in Hawaii with his family. While he’s receiving daily intelligence/national security briefings, he has no public appearances or statements planned.
Obama spent seven hours yesterday attending a party at the home of a high school friend.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is holding private talks about the state’s chronic budget crisis. He’d like to see a solution come together this week. He’d have preferred to have seen one before Christmas.
Over the weekend, Schwarzenegger’s friend Robert Graham, the famed sculptor, passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 70. A native of Mexico City, Graham was married to Academy Award-winning actress Anjelica Huston.
Graham was known both for his monumental public sculptures, which grace the Olympic Games and the FDR Memorial, and for his female nudes. I have one of his bronzes, a gift from a good friend.
Schwarzenegger said this on Graham’s passing: “Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Robert Graham. Robert was an amazing sculptor who forever shaped the presence of sculpture art throughout California and the world. His work was truly influential and he will forever remain an icon in this state. Our thoughts and prayers are with Robert’s wife Anjelica and his entire family during this difficult time.”
Not long before his death at the UCLA Medical Center, Graham was inducted into the California Museum’s California Hall of Fame on December 15th. Graham actually designed the “Spirit of California” medal for the California Hall of Fame.
The San Jose State grad’s work has been the subject of over eighty solo exhibitions and three retrospective exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Japan and Mexico, and is included in many national and international museum collections. He designed the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Gates and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C., as well as the Joe Louis Memorial in Detroit, and monumental sculptures depicting jazz giants Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker in New York and Kansas City.
The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
** OBAMA FLOATS THROUGH TEAPOT TEMPESTS. With the fastest Cabinet appointments in 40 years completed, Barack Obama is off to a working vacation in his native Hawaii. It increasingly looks like he’s rolled through two teapot tempests. One in which the far right flipped out, and another in which some on the left, frustrated at an avoidable defeat on same-sex marriage, forgot about the center part of center/left.
The far right flipping out about Obama is nothing new. Nor, I suppose, is a lot of the media going along for the ride. The media loves controversy, deep or otherwise. It’s easier than contemplating pressing issues. … From my December 22nd column.
** CALIFORNIA CRACKING. From my December 10th 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 $38 and $39 per barrel.
The drop of $109 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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