President Barack Obama talked up renewable energy today in his Earth Day address in Iowa. He also praised California as the most efficient user of energy in America, a course charted, as Obama noted, three decades ago.
** THE REPUBLICAN CHOICE: REACT OR MODERNIZE. It’s been a strange week for the Republican Party, with noisy events pushing the old-time religion, a speech by a prominent consultant urging a new moderation, and back-to-the-future reactions to President Barack Obama’s friendly gestures to Hugo Chavez and other critics of America.
Who will prevail? The reactors or the modernizers? …
** OBAMA PRAISES CALIFORNIA’S ENERGY PATH ON EARTH DAY. President Barack Obama praised California today in his Earth Day address in Iowa as a model for the nation on energy, citing the approach pioneered by the Jerry Brown Administration.
My administration has already taken unprecedented action towards this goal. It’s work that begins with the simplest, fastest, most effective way we have to make our economy cleaner, and that is to make our economy more energy efficient. California has shown that it can be done. While electricity consumption grew 50% in this country over the last three decades, in California, it remained flat. Think about this – I want everybody to think about this – over the last several decades, the rest of the country, we used 50% more energy. California remained flat – used the same amount – even though they were growing just as fast as the rest of the country, because they were more energy efficient. They put in some good policy early on, that assured that they weren’t wasting energy. Now, if California can do it, then the whole country can do it.
** CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION GETS MORE INTERESTING. The proponents of the six state budget compromise-related initiatives on the May 19th special election ballot this morning went on the air with a TV ad.
It’s a bit on the generic side, with an actor playing a dad sitting on his porch, talking about pols not taking care of business and worrying about the future of his son, with whom he agrees to play catch. You see where this is going.
The pro side on the initiatives raised at least $12 million, far more than the opponents, who got a boost yesterday when SEIU contributed $500,000 to the no campaign. But that doesn’t buy much in a statewide election, as John Garamendi noticed when he ankled the governor’s race today.
Will SEIU pony up the funds for a real run of TV ads? As the representative of half the state government’s workforce, the union is, not surprisingly, against a state spending limit. But if the initiatives fail, the converse is true; their members will be among those hit the hardest.
Meanwhile, over on the right, a new group called Californians Against New Taxes has formed. Former LA Mayor Dick Riordan, who ran a bad campaign for governor – I revealed his spectacular blow-up and tirade against an LA Times reporter on his campaign bus – in 2002 before becoming a disastrous member of the Schwarzenegger Cabinet (as education secretary, he insulted a little girl), joins forces with far right figures such as Congressman Tom McClintock, Ventura County Supervisor Pete Foy (who threatens to run for governor), state Senator George Runner (who is running for lieutenant governor), and others. They had a press conference this morning in LA.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … STATE OF THE REPUBLICANS. (In the wake of several things, including last week’s American Tea Parties and Steve Schmidt speech to Log Cabin Republicans.)
** MY CONVERSATION WITH ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER. My live webchat late yesterday afternoon with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger went pretty well. It’s 40 to 45 minutes long, and, on the safe assumption you don’t want to spend that time watching a little video, you can listen to it in the background here … http://www.dot.ca.gov/govflash/20090421_ask.mp3.
I selected a variety of questions submitted by Californians and tried to weave the questions, Schwarzenegger’s answers, and my own thoughts into a conversational narrative.
Among a variety of things, Schwarzenegger revealed that he’s agreed to appear, in a small role, in the new Terminator Salvation movie coming out on May 21st. Assuming that new digital mapping technology works – he wasn’t on set to film the role – and I’m told that the tech does. The movie is set in the future, but a part of the future before Schwarzenegger’s terminator character is sent to the past. In the new movie, a key character encounters Schwarzenegger’s terminator as a prototype. I’ll have more on this as the movie approaches.
I asked Schwarzenegger what his biggest mistake has been as governor, and he gave a revealing answer about the 2005 special election, his not working together with a wider variety of players, and his backfiring decision to embrace the anti-labor “paycheck protection” initiative.
While Schwarzenegger has nearly two more years as governor, we did talk about what he might do in the future, as he is term limited as governor, can’t run for president as he was born in Austria, and doesn’t want to be a senator. He seems undecided and asked for suggestions from the public. But he also talked about more movies, a book about his experiences as governor and in life, a possible foundation, and ongoing work on climate change, renewable energy, and political reform.
We also discussed, at length, the economic crisis, California’s chronic budget crisis, next month’s special election, the politics of water, the gridlock of California’s political system, and greening the auto industry.
** GARAMENDI DROPPING OUT OF CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE TO RUN FOR CONGRESS. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi is, not surprisingly, dropping out of the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to run for a Bay Area congressional seat. Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher has been appointed undersecretary of state for arms control by President Obama. Assuming her confirmation by the Senate, that opens up her East Bay seat in a special election that will be called at some future date by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Garamendi was the first candidate to formally announce his candidacy for governor, last year, and today will announce that he is instead going to run for Congress.
He was running fourth in the Democratic field, behind potential candidates Jerry Brown, the former governor-turned-attorney general, and Antonio Villaraigosa, the LA mayor, and announced candidate Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco.
All the candidates trail Brown in fundraising by a wide margin. Garamendi did only about as well as Newsom in the first go-round through the end of last year, and reportedly dropped further back during the first quarter of this year.
Garamendi is one of the longtime veterans of California politics, having served in both houses of the Legislature, where he was once state Senate majority leader, served two terms as state insurance commissioner, and was deputy secretary of the interior under President Clinton. He’s run for governor several times before, losing to then LA Mayor Tom Bradley in 1982, pulling out of a race in 1986, losing to then state Treasurer Kathleen Brown (Jerry Brown’s sister) in 1994, and briefly dipping his toe into the 2003 California recall, which was won in landslide fashion by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Garamendi also lost a race for state controller in 1986 to Gray Davis, who was Jerry Brown’s chief of staff.
I expect Brown to pick up most of his support in the governor’s race.
As for the congressional race, Garamendi has a lot of experience and is quite knowledgeable about public policy. The race will not be a slam dunk for him, however. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier is already off and running and has the support of the local central labor council, a complicating factor for longtime labor friend Garamendi.
President Barack Obama and Senator Ted Kennedy discussed the Kennedy Serve America Act, a national service program signed into law yesterday by Obama.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama celebrates Earth Day today by linking in his program for new energy sources with a transformed US economy.
Obama travels today to Des Moines, Iowa, where his campaign took off last year following his big win in the Iowa caucuses over Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
At 7 AM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One. He lands in Des Moines at 9:15 AM Pacific.
At 10:20 AM Pacific, Obama tours the Trinity Structural Towers Manufacturing Plant in Newton, Iowa. Once a Maytag washing machines plant, it is now a wind energy manufacturing plant.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Trinity Structural Towers on renewable energy, green jobs, and his economic recovery program.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama flies out of Des Moines. He’s scheduled to be back at the White House at 2:30 PM Pacific.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom formally announced his candidacy for governor of California yesterday, appearing at the headquarters of the trendy social networking site Facebook. Newsom is a longshot candidate in the Democratic primary to replace Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s won two landslide victories but can’t run again due to term limits.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates Earth Day today with three events.
At 9:30 AM, he joins Walmart officials to tour a solar installation on the roof of a Sam’s Club facility in Glendora (suburban LA) and to make an annoucement about a new solar energy program.
At 11 AM, Schwarzenegger is in downtown LA at the rose garden in Exposition Park to speak at the opening of the Cool Globes exhibit, a public art project consisting of 60 giant globes that showing steps that people can take against the greenhouse effect.
At 1:45 PM, he is in Pleasanton, a suburban San Francisco Bay Area city, at the Shaklee Corp. for the ceremonial planting of the one millionth tree in the company’s tree-planting program.
** THE STATE OF PLAY OF STATE OF PLAY. State of Play is a political thriller wrapped inside a journalistic thriller that works better as the latter.
It’s a good film with a strong cast that is based on a better BBC miniseries which is better cast than this American remake. Which is not the same as having a better cast.
The big bad here is a Blackwater-like security outfit called Pointcorp. In a sign of how the mighty have fallen, Blackwater already had to change its name to the faintly prepostereous Xe, so bad has its reputation become in the wake of being banned from Iraq. In a further sign, In a further sign, a Blackwater equivalent is the big bad — so far, at least — on this season of the longtime hit thriller series 24.
Which starts to get at a problem with the movie. There’s something very familiar about it, which may be inevitable as the story gets condensed into the customary thriller elements.
In the 2003 British miniseries, the big bad was an energy corporation. Which may actually be more timely than poor old Blackwater at this point, though it probably seemed very timely a few years ago when the American remake was being conceived. … From my April 18th column.
** OBAMA AND MEXICO: MANAGING INCIPIENT CHAOS. Another country, another crisis. President Barack Obama summited yesterday in Mexico City with President Felipe Calderon, pledging to help Mexico’s elected government beat back the challenge of powerful drug cartels that increasingly out-gun Mexican security forces. But Obama’s measures will only manage the incipient chaos, not end it.
Which has actually long been typical of America’s policies with regard to Mexico.
In his 1981 book “The Nine Nations of North America,” author Joel Garreau referred to the Border Patrol as “a regulatory agency.” In the sense that it was not set up to halt illegal immigration from Mexico but to manage it. To make it difficult enough to prevent an open border scenario, but not so difficult as to prevent American businesses from benefiting from the efficiencies of an influx of cheap labor, even as American social institutions struggled to provide services. … From my April 17th column.
** EARL GREY, ANYONE? A CALIFORNIA CAPITOL TEA PARTY. Before a crowd that organizers claimed was 15,000 to 20,000, but these experienced ex-advance man’s eyes saw as about 3,000, a parade of right-wing personalities used tax day to decry taxation, government, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and President Barack Obama with a rally outside California’s state Capitol in Sacramento.
The event, like other so-called tea parties around the country, was heavily promoted by the Fox News channel, right-wing talk radio hosts, and the right-wing blogosphere. …
If you are wondering what Fox News is doing organizing anti-administration rallies around the country, its obvious strategy is to aggregate all the already existing opponents of Obama into one audience. … From my April 15th column.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: OF PIRATES AND MISSILES. Barack Obama’s management of two flashpoint crises — both relatively minor but caught up in the now typical hysteria of our media culture — gives us some good clues about his crisis management style.
The just concluded hostage crisis off the coast of Somalia and the launch early this month of a new North Korean missile showed Obama in “no drama” mode, determined to avoid distraction and continue with his core messaging strategy.
Obama actually took a lower profile public role with the more consequential of the two crises, the Somali pirate hostage crisis, than he did with the North Korean missile launch. But he seems to have spent more time behind the scenes on the crisis on which he spent the least amount of time before the cameras. … From my April 13th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW GEOPOLITICS: 10 KEY TAKEAWAYS. President Barack Obama’s just concluded big international tour is part of a major reshuffling in geopolitics. Here are 10 key takeaways from happenings in and around his trip. … From my April 9th column.
** TURKEY: NOT THE USUAL GEOPOLITICAL SANDWICH. … From my April 6th column.
** RE-SETTING THE GEOPOLITICAL TABLE: HOW OBAMA’S BIG TRIP IS GOING. … From my April 3rd column.
** AFGHANISTAN: THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM? … From my March 30th 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.
** 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. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading around $48 per barrel.
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