President Barack Obama’s rumored vacation round of golf with Tiger Woods may not occur after all. It seems the duffer pol had a slight mishap on the second hole in Martha’s Vineyard.
** Late Night Update — NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CAMELOT ENDS, AGAIN: THE PASSING OF SENATOR TED KENNEDY.
** FRAMING/UNFRAMING: OF POLLS AND SPIN … FROM THE NOTEBOOK. A quiet summer day, so something from the notebook, something illustrative. If not actually important with regard to the outcome of a California race. Or “race.”
Yesterday came news of two new polls showing former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown with a huge advantage over his struggling rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Which is no surprise here, since as you know I barely cover this alleged contest.
One, a statewide poll by Moore Methods, a Sacramento-based firm, shows Brown leading Newsom, 49% to 29%. The Moore poll in late June, after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa withdrew, had Brown up, 46-26.
A second poll was even worse for Newsom, possibly a swift campaign-ender. That poll by San Francisco pollster David Binder, has Brown way ahead of Newsom, too. In San Francisco.
In the city where Newsom is the mayor, it’s Brown 51%, Newsom 34%. A similar poll helped trigger Villaraigosa’s withdrawal, when Brown was only five points behind the LA mayor in LA (with Newsom a very distant third).
As the San Francisco Chronicle, which is generally a big Newsom cheerleader, put it: “The numbers in the Binder poll also show Brown ahead of Newsom for every age bracket over 30 and in every San Francisco supervisorial district except the Marina, which Newsom represented on the board before being elected mayor in 2003.”
Interestingly, Chronicle political reporter Carla Marinucci presented something very different on August 13th. That’s when a poll for the Daily Kos showed Brown as the only Democrat leading all the Republican candidates, with Newsom in no better than a tie with any of them. And, quite unlike Brown, having a net negative favorability rating among all California voters.
But the poll had a huge undecided, and showed Brown leading Newsom, 29% to 20%. Needless to say, Newsom strategist Garry South leaped on this as purported evidence of a big surge by Newsom. Despite the fact that the recent news about Newsom was mostly negative, and there’d been no negative news about Brown, who keeps getting favorable publicity for his work as California’s attorney general.
Wrote Marinucci: “San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is gaining ground on State attorney general Jerry Brown in the 2010 California governor’s race, according to a new poll from non-partisan Research 2000 which calls the Democratic contest “anyone’s game.”
“The poll commissioned by the Daily Kos showed that Brown leads Newsom by just 9 points, 29-20 — a gap that has been cut in half since a J. Moore Methods poll in late June showed Brown with a 20 point lead over the San Francisco mayor.”
Unlike Marinucci, who cited Moore’s poll as the basis for her frame that Newsom had gained a lot of ground in the Democratic primary, I contacted Jim Moore.
Moore, who’s been around a long time and talks to all the pollsters, told me that he hadn’t seen or heard of any numbers like the Kos poll. He said that the difference between the Kos poll and his poll was not on account of Newsom gaining ground, but because “sampling error” in the Kos poll.
The poll for Daily Kos was done by Research 2000, which had apparently not previously conducted a California poll. Later, others pointed out that the poll significantly under-sampled older voters.
I’ve known Carla Marinucci so long that I can’t remember when we first met. Garry South I met in 1992 or 1993, not long after he moved to California and worked for LA mayoral candidate Mike Woo as his press secretary. Later, I got to know him quite well when he went to work for then state Controller (and future Governor) Gray Davis, whom I’ve known for around 30 years.
Clearly, Carla made the obvious error of falsely comparing apples and oranges. You don’t take a poll new to California, with unknown methodology, and compare its numbers with another poll and jump to the conclusion that it shows a change in the dynamic. Even if that’s what Garry wants you to do.
Garry has long been a very influential source for Carla. Way back in the distant past, in this case, 2003, I was writing in the LA Weekly that Arnold Schwarzenegger intended to run for governor of California in the recall election and would do so if he could work various things through, which he was in the process of doing. That’s because I knew Schwarzenegger, and because that’s what I was gathering, both from him and from other information. Incidentally, Schwarzenegger’s statements were pretty consistent on this. But everyone else was reporting that he would definitely not run. That’s because their sources, who are political consultants like Garry, told them that.
Garry, who believed that he had frightened Schwarzenegger off, told me on the record when I caught up with him on the phone in a noisy restaurant that Schwarzenegger would definitely not run. Which I quoted. He told Carla and everyone else that, too.
I finally told three reporters that they really should get off the very shaky limb of reporting that Schwarzenegger wouldn’t run. Carla was one of those reporters. (The others were at the Sacramento Bee and San Jose Mercury-News.) But she wouldn’t alter her coverage that Schwarzenegger wasn’t running, because that’s what she was getting from her sourcing. So it was an amusing moment at Schwarzenegger’s Tonight Show taping at the Burbank Studio on August 6th, 2003, when, sitting next to Carla, I turned to her just before the segment began and reminded her that I’d advised her against reporting that Schwarzenegger wouldn’t run for governor.
President Barack Obama took a break from his vacation this morning to reappoint Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke.
** FEDERAL RESERVE LOSES ITS BID TO BLOCK DISCLOSURE OF EMERGENCY LOAN RECIPIENTS. Just as President Barack Obama has reappointed Ben Bernanke (first appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006) as head of the Federal Reserve, comes word that a federal judge in New York has ordered the Fed to disclose the recipients of massive emergency loans used to reinflate the US financial system. Bernanke has presided over the greatest expansion of Fed power in its history.
Not only have the recipient firms not been disclosed, the full scale of Fed lending has not been disclosed, either.
Bloomberg News brought a Freedom of Information Act suit last November 7th after Bernanke refused to disclose the information.
The Fed also refuses to submit to audits by the Government Accounting Office, and a House bill may be brought up next month to compel it to do so.
Manhattan Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled against the central bank yesterday, rejecting the argument that loan records aren’t covered by the law because their disclosure would harm borrowers’ competitive positions.
The Fed has refused to name the financial firms it lent to or disclose the amounts or the assets put up as collateral under 11 programs, most put in place during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression, saying that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders. Bloomberg LP, the New York-based company majority-owned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sued on Nov. 7 on behalf of its Bloomberg News unit.
“The Federal Reserve has to be accountable for the decisions that it makes,” said U.S. Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, after Preska’s ruling. “It’s one thing to say that the Federal Reserve is an independent institution. It’s another thing to say that it can keep us all in the dark.”
The judge said the central bank “improperly withheld agency records” by “conducting an inadequate search” after Bloomberg News reporters filed a request under the information act. She gave the Fed five days to turn over documents it told the reporters it located, including 231 pages of reports, and said it must look for more at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which runs most of the loan programs.
The central bank “essentially speculates on how a borrower might enter a downward spiral of financial instability if its participation in the Federal Reserve lending programs were to be disclosed,” Preska wrote. “Conjecture, without evidence of imminent harm, simply fails to meet the Board’s burden” of proof.
David Skidmore, a Fed spokesman who said the board’s staff was reviewing the 47-page ruling, declined to comment on whether the central bank would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, is in Martha’s Vineyard this week on vacation.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings.
He also took a break from his vacation, early this morning, to re-appoint Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Obama praised Bernanke for “calm and wisdom” in helping avert a near-meltdown of the financial system.
Preliminary results in the Afghanistan presidential election are expected later today.
With 10% of the vote counted, President Hamid Karzai holds a slight lead over former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, 41% to 39%. A 50%-plus one vote is needed to avert a run-off in October.
Back in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden hosts a conference call with Tribal leaders on the economic recovery act.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tours a school in Fresno this morning and discusses his move to brin California into compliance with federal guidelines to compete for the Obama Administration’s Race To the Top education grants.
He and First Lady Maria Shriver also announced the 2009 inductees to the California Hall of Fame in an early morning statement.
Schwarzenegger tours Jefferson Elementary School and delivers remarks in the school library at 10 AM.
On July 24th, President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined federal requirements for states to compete for the largest pool of discretionary funding for education reform in U.S. history, $4.35 billon. California is ineligible to compete in the program due to state law de-linking teacher evaluation from student performance.
Last week, Schwarzenegger called a special session of the Legislature and announced a legislative package to ensure that California meets the Obama Administration’s eligibility requirements.
Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver this morning announced the 2009 inductees to the California Hall of Fame. They are: entertainer Carol Burnett, former Intel CEO Andrew Grove, Governor and U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson, decathlete and philanthropist Rafer Johnson, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, philanthropist and peace activist Joan Kroc, film-maker George Lucas, football commentator John Madden, gay rights advocate and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, artist Fritz Scholder, author Danielle Steel, fitness and bodybuilding pioneer Joe Weider, and Air Force test pilot General Chuck Yeager.
The inductees will be honored at a ceremony at the California Museum in Sacramento on December 1st.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “LOVE AMONG THE RUINS.” … From my new column.
** OBAMA AND THE AFGHAN ELECTION: WHAT IT MEANS, WHAT IT DOESN’T. The Obama Administration should be sighing with a sense of relief after the presidential election in Afghanistan. However, for those with nascent/encroaching nation-building fantasies, what happened with the Afghan election should be thoroughly disabusing.
The Taliban failed in their threat to halt the election, and were unable to pull off any of the promised spectacular attacks demonstrating a strong military capability. But that’s to be expected, as some 300,000 US, NATO, and Afghan troops were fanned out across the county to prevent just that. Better to keep our eyes on the real world goals in Afghanistan: Denying it as a base to Al Qaeda, and moving on in the mission of dampening Islamic opposition to America.
While we slid by in this election, it would be a huge mistake to imagine that we are any closer to realizing persistent nation-building fantasies in Afghanistan. It’s nowhere near a 20th century democracy, much less a 21st century democracy. Perhaps a 19th century democracy. But for the powerful forces ever insistent on dragging it back into the Dark Ages. … From my August 20th column.
** MAD MEN: “OUT OF TOWN” … SEASON 3 OPENER SATISFYING NOT SCINTILLATING. … From my August 18th column.
** MAD MEN RETURNS: THE ‘60S ADVERTISING DRAMA IS A TIME TUNNEL TO THE PRESENT. The much acclaimed, if not so much watched, Mad Men makes a welcome return for its third season Sunday night. I’ve found the series, now the flagship show on AMC, a channel once best known as a reliable source for late night viewings of Commando, to be very compelling from the beginning, if not exactly action-packed.
There are a number of ways to view Mad Men. For my own part, I can take it as a period piece, a sort of time capsule of the early ’60s, at once relatively close yet far enough away to be intriguing for its unfamiliarity. Or as an evocation of style, with the sort of glamour and cool associated with JFK and the early Bond films, in this case a New York variant including chain smoking, constant drinking, and sexual play continually tinged with sexual harassment.
It’s a character study, as well, for the surface glitter of the persuader class and those who attend them masks confusion and lack of identity. That could also make it a cautionary tale, albeit one set during the height of the post-war expansion of American affluence.
Which makes it, in turn, a meditation on the American Dream. Not entirely unlike The Sopranos, on which Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner served as an Emmy-winning writer and producer. Well, except for the fact that Mad Men protagonist/anti-hero Don Draper is a charismatic and enigmatic New York ad man, not a perpetually depressed, poetically crude New Jersey mob boss. … From my August 14th essay.
** SOTOMAYOR, OBAMA, AND THE LOOMING REPUBLICAN RACE PROBLEM. … From my August 13th column.
** WHEN SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE ADVOCATES TRY TO REVERSE CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8? … From my August 11th column.
** OBAMA’S CAIRO ADDRESS: TWO MONTHS ON. … From my August 5th column.
** IS OBAMA GETTING OVEREXPOSED? … From my July 28th column.
** ANOTHER ‘60S ANNIVERSARY: THE UR-ACTION BLOCKBUSTER GOLDFINGER. … From my July 21st essay.
** 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.
Quentin Tarantino had his biggest domestic box office opening ever this past weekend with Inglourious Basterds, his re-write of World War II. Now we’ll see if it has legs.
** 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 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 last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, 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, 2008, crude oil is trading around $74 per barrel.
This is up about $40 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.