President Barack Obama, doing a shoot-around with the women’s national champion University of Connecticut basketball team on Monday, today celebrates his 100th day in office with high ratings and an expansive agenda.
** QUICK HITS. I’m prepping a column for tomorrow on Obama’s AfPak (Afghanistan/Pakistan) strategy and crisis. Events there have accelerated beyond assumptions underlying the strategy outlined in March. … The World Health Organization has upgraded the swine flu scare to 5 on a scale of 6. That’s one level short of “pandemic” status, but it is triggered when there is demonstrated passage of disease from one country to another, which we already knew. Mexico has sharply downgraded its earlier estimates of deaths from the flu. … Tomorrow morning I’ll report on three new California polls, two public – one of which comes off embargo late tonight – and one private. None is especially good news for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but one is better than the others. … California’s new far right Republican state Senate leader says he will have plans for specific additional major budget cuts if the special election initiatives fall on May 19th. His caucus, as a matter of political strategy, has declined to offer actual alternatives for more than a year.
** EXCERPTS FROM OBAMA’S OPENING REMARKS AT TONIGHT’S PRIME TIME PRESS CONFERENCE.
We are continuing to closely monitor the emerging cases of the H1N1 flu virus throughout the United States. As I said this morning, this is obviously a very serious situation, and every American should know that their entire government is taking the utmost precautions and preparations. …
This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last one hundred days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95% of all working families. We passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut. But even as we clear away the wreckage of this recession, I have also said that we cannot go back to an economy that is built on a pile of sand – on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards; on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allowed the recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of us all.
We must lay a New Foundation for growth – a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do. It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training; new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and new savings that will bring down our deficit. …
So we are off to a good start. But it is just a start. I am proud of what we have achieved, but I am not content. I am pleased with our progress, but I am not satisfied. Millions of Americans are still without jobs and homes, and more will be lost before this recession is over. Credit is still not flowing nearly as freely as it should. Countless families and communities touched by our auto industry still face tough times ahead. Our projected long-term deficits are still too high. Government is still not as efficient as it should be. We still confront threats ranging from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to pandemic flu. And all of this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security – in the second hundred days, and the third hundred days, and all the days after. …
So we have plenty of work left to do. It is work that will take time. It will take effort. But the United States of America will see a better day. We will rebuild a stronger nation. And we will endure as a beacon for all those weary travelers beyond our shores who still dream that this is a place where all is possible.
** GARY HART ON OBAMA’S FIRST 100 DAYS AND THE POLITICS OF TRANSFORMATION. “Last June I urged then-candidate Barack Obama to use his presidency to transform the country for the 21st century world, not simply to repair the damage to our economy, foreign policy, and defenses done by the Bush administration. By that standard, his first three months have been a remarkable success.” … From Senator Hart’s HuffPost column.
** OBAMA SUPPORT HIGH, WITH INTRIGUING GAPS BETWEEN AGE GROUPS AND EXPECTED GROWING GAPS BETWEEN PARTY. In a new Hotline poll, 62% of American voters approve of President Barack Obama’s performance, while 33% disapprove. 55% say he is better than other presidents of the recent past, while 24% say he is not.
What’s interesting about the poll are some of the breakdowns.
Looking closer at Obama’s approval ratings reveals that the group of voters that is largely driving Obama’s high approval ratings are those aged 18 – 34. Obama’s approval rating is 76% among voters which fall within this age group, while it is significantly lower for those aged 35 – 55 (55%) and 55 and over (60%).
The Poll also finds that there has been a mild polarization of opinions with regards to how voters are saying Obama is handling his job as president. Among Democrats, Obama’s approval rating has experienced a 16 percentage point jump from the January Poll (76%) to today’s Poll (92%). Conversely, his approval rating has decreased by 11 percentage points among Republicans from the January poll (42%) to the April Poll (31%).
The Poll also finds that Obama’s approval ratings on most issues are high, with the “War in Afghanistan” (64%), “War in Iraq” (61%) and “energy” (59%) leading the way. Obama’s approval rating on “the economy,” which 69% of voters say is the most important issue facing the country, is also high, at 56%.
While 58% of voters say that Obama has focused “the right amount” on “the economy” thus far, 42% also say that “the economy” is the one issue they would like to see President Obama spend more time focusing on for the rest of 2009. The top issue that voters feel Obama is paying too little attention to is “immigration,” at 52%, followed by “terror” (44%).
** HOUSE PASSES OBAMA BUDGET OUTLINE, SENATE APPROVAL EXPECTED LATER TODAY. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told me over the weekend would happen, the House of Representatives this morning passed President Barack Obama’s budget outline, setting up a record $3.4 trillion in federal spending and setting the stage for enactment of a new health care reform plan.
The bill passed on a party-line vote. Passage by the Senate is expected later today. The bill forms the basis for negotiations on tax and spending bills among lawmakers, the Obama Administration and interest groups.
The move comes on the 100th day of Obama’s young presidency. That’s an artificial media milestone, a cliche long honored since it actually meant something following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration during the Great Depression in 1933. FDR vowed dramatic action in the first 100 days of his administration, and delivered with the New Deal. Though much of the most important stuff happened later, and Roosevelt was not dealing with two ongoing wars at the same time.
Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state in the Bush/Cheney Administration and longtime advisor to Colin Powell, tells Al Jazeera that the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan could spiral out of control.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA’S AFPAK CRISIS. For the 101st day of the Obama Presidency. See my report in the Obama Today segment below that the president will be focusing on the slow-rolling jihad in Pakistan during his Air Force One flight today, and that the administration has had constant meetings on the crisis over the past two days, including one unpublicized full-fledged National Security Council meeting.
You’re noticing I’m not doing a special column or feature on President Barack Obama’s first 100 days. For a couple of reasons. It’s an artificial milestone, dating back to FDR’s promise to hit the ground running during the Great Depression in 1933. It’s being done by everyone, and I feel no need to be part of a cacophony. It’s actually easy to sum up, as Obama has been heavily covered here every day. And I’m doing something else, the column mentioned above, for tomorrow, on what could be a tremendous disaster for America. As we are serially distracted by swine flu, Somali pirates, and the various other ADD obsessions of our media culture.
** CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ELECTION INITIATIVES IN BIG TROUBLE. A new Field Poll shows the six state budget compromise-related initiatives on the May 19th special election ballot in serious trouble. Only the least significant and most symbolic, Prop 1F, which would prohibit legislative pay increases in budget deficit years, is passing.
One oddity of the poll is that it seems to posit a 47% turnout, which seems far too high. But would a low turnout benefit the initiatives?
Most initiatives are actually passing when Democrats and independents are counted. But the key ones are overwhelmingly opposed by Republicans.
A plurality of voters, likely or not, say they understand that choosing to defeat the initiatives will make the the state’s chronic budget crisis – which spiraled out of control with the global economic downturn – worse. But even more are simply tired that state government isn’t solving problems and is turning things over to the voters. Whether the system – governmental and political – is designed to fail in time of extraordinary crisis is another matter.
President Barack Obama welcomed the latest and final member of his Cabinet, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, confirmed yesterday by the Senate. Just in time for the swine flu scare. The former Kansas governor, a key Obama backer in the primaries, saw her appointment held up by anti-abortion forces.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He and Vice President Joe Biden conferred with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter and made a joint statement with him in the White House Diplomatic Room.
On this 100th day of the Obama Administration, Specter is the newest Democrat in the U.S. Senate, having just switched from his longtime membership in the Republican Party. With the expected seating of comedian Al Franken, once the legal machinations around the Minnesota recount are exhausted, Democrats will have 60 seats in the 100-seat Senate, enabling them to shut down threatened filibusters on most key issues.
Obama is making it clear that he supports Specter and will fundraise and campaign for him. Some on the netroots left have been calling for a Democratic primary challenge to the former Republican. This is a tremendous boost for Obama psychologically. (Specter was a frequent ally as a moderate Republican.) Because it casts the refusal of Republicans to work with Obama not as sign that Obama is insufficiently bipartisan/post-partisan but that Republicans are so extreme that one of their top members has now become a Democrat.
Obama is now en route on Air Force One to St. Louis, Missouri.
Obama will be discussing the worsening situation in Pakistan during his flight on Air Force One. His administration has held nearly non-stop strategy sessions on the slow-rolling jihad in Pakistan for the past two days, including one full-fledged – and unpublicized – meeting of the National Security Council.
At 8:20 AM Pacific, he holds a town hall meeting at Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama is wheels up on Air Force One making the return flight from St. Louis to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama lands at Andrews Air Force Base and travels on Marine One to the White House for scheduled arrival 15 minutes later.
At 5 PM Pacific, Obama holds a prime time press conference in the East Room of the White House.
This will be the third prime time press conference of his presidency, coming on the 100th day of his presidency. Presidents Bush and Clinton held a total of eight prime time press conferences during the 16 years they collectively served in the White House.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no planned public events today. He holds private meetings and discussions in Orange County.
Schwarzenegger showed off a new Honda hydrogen-fueled vehicle yesterday afternoon in Capitol Park. He’s pushing alternative vehicle fuels, of course, and hydrogen is one of his pet projects.
He’s trading in his electric-powered Tesla roadster, a very high-end two-seater sports car, for Tesla’s new sedan model. Why? Too small. Too small, as he puts it, for First Lady Maria Shriver to cart any of the family around in. And, though he didn’t say it, probably too small for him. I’ve been inside one myself, Schwarzenegger is rather larger than me, and it’s like being in a Ferrari, that strapped-in fighter jet feel.
Schwarzenegger, incidentally, who told me in my live video webchat with him last week that he planned to appear in the forthcoming Terminator Salvation movie if it worked out technologically – he didn’t act on set – will be appearing in the film in a cameo role via the wonders of digital mapping technology. More to follow on that. You can listen to the conversation here.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA: ANGST AND IRONY FOR WINNING DEMOCRATS. It’s a great time in many ways for California Democrats, who just had their annual convention in Sacramento. Barack Obama carried the state with 61% of the vote and the party has a big registration edge over Republicans, as well as a much better handle on the large and growing number of independent voters.
No wonder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime acquaintance, was so ebullient when I spoke with her over the weekend. But it’s also a time of angst and irony.
I talked with former Governor Gray Davis, the only Democratic governor since World War II not named Brown, who told me: “California may be at a tipping point.” And Democratic delegates were in disarray on what to do about it, even as they enjoyed speeches from their two most likely gubernatorial contenders. … From my April 28th column.
** OBAMA’S EARTH DAY ENERGY DECLARATION: CALIFORNIA MAY BE THE NATIONAL MODEL HE SAYS, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH. President Barack Obama made a big show for Earth Day of his commitment to a much greener energy future, and in the process paid a huge compliment to California for dramatically altering its energy path three decades ago. But even though California, as Obama puts it, shows the rest of America what can be done, it’s not enough.
Obama spoke after touring a wind energy equipment factory, once a Maytag washing machine factory, in Newton, Iowa. While he talked up innovation in new technologies, he noted that, in our history, increases in innovation are generally coupled with big increases in consumption. And that that can lead to disaster.
Obama framed the the development of green energy technology — which includes energy efficiency tech as well as renewable sources such as wind, solar, waves, geothermal, and biomass — as the way out of the usual false choice on the environment. … From my April 23rd column.
** THE REPUBLICAN CHOICE: REACT OR MODERNIZE. … From my April 22nd column.
** THE STATE OF PLAY OF STATE OF PLAY. … From my April 18th column.
** OBAMA AND MEXICO: MANAGING INCIPIENT CHAOS. … From my April 17th column.
** EARL GREY, ANYONE? A CALIFORNIA CAPITOL TEA PARTY. …… From my April 15th column.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: OF PIRATES AND MISSILES. … From my April 13th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW GEOPOLITICS: 10 KEY TAKEAWAYS. … 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 $51 per barrel.
This is up about $17 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, due in part to some positive economic signs and in part to fresh geopolitical jitters over Pakistan.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.