President Barack Obama ripped Wall Street bankers for their billions in bonuses after being bailed out by the government.
** JERRY BROWN EASILY LEADS 2010 DEMOCRATIC FUNDRAISING RACE. As mentioned here a few weeks ago, former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown easily leads the rest of the Democrats in fundraising for the 2010 California gubernatorial race.
Brown today reported raising $3.4 million last year, something he began in earnest only in the second half of the year. Potential rivals San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who also begin in the second half, and Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, each raise about a third of that.
With funds left over from his 2006 landslide victory for California attorney general, Brown has some $4.1 million cash on hand. In contrast, Garamendi has $750,000 and Newsom less than that.
Brown has not yet filed a gubernatorial campaign committee, unlike Garamendi and Newsom, and has his funds going into his AG campaign committee. This means that his biggest allowable contributions under state law are much lower than theirs.
As you can see, Brown has a much lower “burn rate” than his potential rivals.
Senator Dianne Feinstein continues to be talked of by some as a potential gubernatorial candidate. But as readers have noted from my coverage of the national intelligence situation, she more than has her hands full with what is traditionally a long-term commitment to serving as chair of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, a post she just assumed this months after years of maneuvering to gain it.
Former state Controller Steve Westly, the eBay honcho-turned-greentech venture capitalist who was one of President Barack Obama’s earliest and biggest backers, is considering the race, as is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Superintendent of Public Instruction. Villaraigosa, who’s had a controversial first term in LA, is running for re-election this year as mayor. None of them has set up a state campaign committee.
Aside from Westly and Brown – who ran against Bill Clinton for president in 1992 (finishing as distant runner-up for the nomination) and remained neutral in the 2008 primary though members of his family backed Obama – all the other potential candidates were with Hillary Clinton. Newsom was a national co-chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign and Villaraigosa was a national chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
** IT’S A MAN OF STEELE! REPUBLICANS ELECT FIRST BLACK NATIONAL PARTY CHAIRMAN, ON 6TH BALLOT. On the sixth ballot today at the Republican National Committee meeting in Washington, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele became the first African American national chairman of the Republican Party. Steele, a longtime favorite of neoconservatives and some moderate Republicans, finally pulled away from South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson with the rest of the field having dropped out.
Steele served one term as Maryland’s lieutenant governor before losing a 2006 race for the US Senate to then Congressman Ben Cardin, 55% to 44%.
Incumbent party chairman Mike Duncan, appointed by former President Bush, led in the first couple rounds of voting, but suffered from an anti-Bush backlash amongst most RNC members and dropped out. Dawson was hampered by his background of having been a member of a whites-only private club.
** NO PUFF OF SMOKE YET IN REPUBLICAN NATIONAL LEADERSHIP BATTLE. They’ve had four rounds of voting so far in that multi-candidate race for Republican national chairman. The current party chairman, Mike Duncan, had been appointed by President George W. Bush. He entered the race as the frontrunner, but after leading in the first two rounds of voting, has dropped out of the race.
Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, who is black, then took the lead. But in the fourth round of voting, South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson took a narrow lead over Steele.
Steele, as one of the few black Republicans, has been touted for a long time by a number of conservative pundits. But he may not be conservative enough for many activist members, as he was once a member of the more moderate Republican Leadership Council.
Dawson has a problem in that he was once a member of a white-only private club.
Chip Saltzman, who managed Mike Huckabee’s campaign, dropped out of the race before the voting began. He had little apparent support, and was singed by having sent out a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” as part of a Christmas gift CD.
** GARAMENDI SHOWS SOME STRENGTH IN CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, making another bid for the governorship, provided the necessary vote on the State Lands Commission late yesterday to block some new oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara. A popular stance in a Democratic primary.
Garamendi also announced that he raised $1.1 million last year, and he’s picked up the help of former Steve Westly for Governor campaign manager and Howard Dean for President state campaign director Jude Barry.
Garamendi, who has about $750,000 in the bank, raised more than some insiders expected. Barry will work as senior advisor to Garamendi, and at least for now will also work with a few other clients, including the San Francisco 49ers.
** OBAMA ACTIVATES HIS ORGANIZATION. President Barack Obama’s follow-on political organization to his presidential campaign, Organizing for America, just sent out its first call to action to mobilize support for the Obama agenda.
The organization, which is now housed within the Democratic National Committee, emailed everyone who has hosted a house party for the president, encouraging them to do the same in support of the White House-backed economic recovery package.
“Last year, America lost 2.6 million jobs. This week, some of our biggest companies announced plans to cut tens of thousands more. The economic crisis is deepening, but President Obama and members of Congress have proposed a recovery plan that will put more than 3 million Americans back to work. You can learn more about how the plan will help your community by organizing an Economic Recovery House Meeting.”
Organizing for American has roughly 13 million e-mail addresses and two million active volunteers, though its strength in helping to advance specific legislative items has yet to be tested.
** HILLARY’S CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY FINDS A NEW HOME IN CALIFORNIA. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign press secretary Jay Carson is now representing a California-based green development company called Shangri-La Industries in Sacramento and elsewhere. Hollywood producer and major Democratic financier Steve Bing is the company’s founder.
Carson was press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and communications director of the Clinton Foundation. He’s now executive vice president for policy & business development of the Bing-backed firm, which focuses on “sustainable construction” in more environmentally sound new building and retrofit.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama focuses on middle-class and worker issues today. He does so as word comes that the US economy contracted by 3.8% during the fourth quarter of 2008.
Obama names Vice President Joe Biden as chairman of the Middle Class Working Families Task Force. Biden has an op-ed piece on this in USA Today.
And labor comes back to the White House today, with Obama issuing several executive orders repealing Bush/Cheney policies on unions.
Obama also meets with the senior NCO (non-commissioned officer) leadership of the US Armed Forces in the White House.
Meanwhile, new US Mideast envoy George Mitchell meets with the Israeli opposition leader, former Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. The Likud leader currently leads in polls for the upcoming Israeli election.
Intel Corp. chairman Craig Barrett says there is a great deal of “denial” amongst the financial sector delegates at Davos, site of the annual World Economic Forum.
** OBAMA IN THE TANK. President Barack Obama went in the tank yesterday. For about two hours.
While most eyes were on the then impending vote in the House on Obama’s economic revival program, the new president ventured out to the Pentagon for his first meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commanders of each of America’s armed services. Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor Jim Jones came along.
They met in “the Tank,” a fabled secret meeting place better than any treehouse, for it’s supposedly impervious to all manner of surveillance. Jones had been there before, of course, as a former member of the Joint Chiefs when he was commandant of the Marine Corps.
But it was the first time for Obama. Let’s pause for a moment of silence for all those mad hatter “Manchurian Candidate” conspiracy theory promoters from the campaign as we think of Barack Hussein Obama in this holy of holies inner sanctum of America’s military establishment. Conducting the meeting at the pinnacle of the pyramid of US military command.
While more than a few gaskets may have popped out there in the far right precincts of the blogosphere and talk radio at the very thought, there might be a few on the left popping as well. … From my new column.
** OBAMA AND THE CALIFORNIA WAY ON CLIMATE. President Barack Obama is choosing the California way of dealing with climate change. What this means is that major action to curtail greenhouse gases can happen faster, and without dealing with a traditional lobby-dominated Congress, with California and other states leading the way and doing the work.
Here’s how. … From my Tuesday column.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds private talks in and around the Capitol, mostly focused on California’s chronic budget crisis.
Some Republican legislators, who have essentially blockaded the budget for months by publicly refusing to consider any tax hikes, seem to be getting closer to going for a budget that includes tax hikes as well as program cuts and a spending cap.
Naturally, much of California’s far right – which is doing a remarkable job of driving the state’s Republican Party deeper into permanent minority status – is going bonkers over this.
Schwarzenegger said on Wednesday that he expects a budget deal in the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger won a victory yesterday when a superior court judge ruled against public employee unions seeking to overturn Schwarzenegger’s two day a month furlough for state workers. Schwarzenegger’s move saves $1.4 billion per year.
** “MAC IS BACK?” HEY, IT NEVER LEFT. MACINTOSH TURNS 25. … From my Saturday column.
** OBAMA AND HIS COMMANDERS. … From my Friday column.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th Huffington Post column.
** ANOTHER DAY: 24 AND THE AGE OF OBAMA. … From my January 13th column.
** CIA: THE PANETTA PICK AND THE FEINSTEIN FACTOR. … From my January 12th column.
** CIA: PARSING THE PANETTA PICK. … From my January 6th column.
** OBAMA: VACATION’S END. … From my January 2nd Huffington Post column.
Russian media calls out individuals said to be responsible for the global economic crisis, all of whom are at Davos. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin kicked off the annual World Economic Forum with a keynote address criticizing the US as epicenter of the financial crisis.
** 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial.
Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ 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 range of $41 to $42 per barrel.
The drop of $106 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 previous 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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