Two hundred Mexican Navy marines stormed an upscale apartment complex and killed one of the biggest reputed drug cartel chiefs in a two-hour gun battle.
** QUICK HITS. The national health care debate keeps rolling on. It’s centered now on keeping a few liberal senators on board while reining in Nebraska’s conservative Democrat Ben Nelson. … Admiral Mike Mullen toured the Helmand River Valley today in southern Afghanistan, vowing that much of the area will be secured from the Taliban in the next few months. … Negotiators are still struggling in Copenhagen to come up with an interim accord even as President Barack Obama wings his way there through the night on Air Force One.
** CALIFORNIA 2010: BROWN LEADS ALL IN GOVERNOR’S RACE, MORE REPUBLICANS UNDECIDED, POIZNER’S MONEY SET TO RATTLE GOP RACE, CAMPBELL MAY EXIT RACE, OBAMA VERY POPULAR. A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown leading all Republicans. Ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who has been advertising for months without challenge, leads in the GOP primary by a big margin. Yet most Republicans are still undecided.
PPIC has Brown ahead of all Republicans: 43-37 over Whitman, 46-34 over Tom Campbell (who some think is the biggest threat to Brown, were he a fundraiser), and 47-31 over Steve Poizner.
I think those numbers are a bit low for Brown. A very reliable private poll has Brown 10 points ahead of the ex-eBay chief. This poll appears to undersample older voters.
Whitman leads in the GOP gubernatorial primary with 32%, to former Congressman Campbell’s 12% and state Insurance Commissioner Poizner’s 8%.
But the dynamics of the race are already changing.
Brown has cleared the Democratic field the year before the primary. He hasn’t declared his candidacy yet, and has spent less money than his last Democratic challenger, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, paid his chief strategist.
Now the Republicans are about to do battle, with Poizner — who made hundreds of millions of dollars when he sold his company, which pioneered cell phone tracking tech — putting $15 million from his personal fortune into the race to match Whitman’s record-breaking spending.
The ex-eBay chief, whose only experience in public affairs is as a co-chair of conservative GOP presidential campaigns, has already spent over $20 million.
I believe that Poizner will spend even more than the $15 million he’s donating to his bid this month.
Which is not to say that you can’t do a lot with $15 million.
And there is an additional factor. I am told that Campbell is seriously considering switching to the Senate race, in a bid to take on Barbara Boxer.
He could make a big impact in that race, which is essentially deadlocked between ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and far right Orange Conty Asseblyman Chck DeVore. Most GOP voters are undecided. As Campbell served in Congress and has twice run for the Senate, he would have a decent shot against two flawed candidates.
Meanwhile, in this state which President Barack Obama carried over Whitman’s presidential candidate, 61% to 37%, the president remains very popular.
His dip in national polls is not mirrored by his standing in California.
Obama has a whopping 61% approval rating in the Golden State.
** “TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS.” STATEMENT FROM BILL CLINTON ON HEALTH CARE. The former president had this to say today in reply to critics on the left:
“America stands at a historic crossroads. At last, we are close to making real health insurance reform a reality. We face one critical, final choice, between action and inaction. We know where the path of inaction leads to: more uninsured Americans, more families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing premiums, higher federal budget deficits, and health costs so much higher than any other country’s they will cripple us economically.
“Our only responsible choice is the path of action. Does this bill read exactly how I would write it? No. Does it contain everything everyone wants? Of course not. But America can’t afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
“And this is a good bill: it increases the security of those who already have insurance and gives every American access to affordable coverage; and contains comprehensive efforts to control costs and improve quality, with more information on best practices, and comparative costs and results. The bill will shift the power away from the insurance companies and into the hands of consumers.
“Take it from someone who knows: these chances don’t come around every day. Allowing this effort to fall short now would be a colossal blunder — both politically for our party and, far more important, for the physical, fiscal, and economic health of our country.”
With negotiations in disarray, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the climate summit in Copenhagen, saying all nations must come together and deliver a climate treaty.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and en route to Copenhagen today.
Obama has received the daily intelligence briefing and met with members of the National Economic Council in the Oval Office.
At 8 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 3:50 PM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 4:05 PM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Obama is prepping for the deeply troubled UN climate summit in Copenhagen. He’s there on Friday. See my new piece linked below on what’s happening, what’s not happening, and why, and where it can go from here.
Obama’s also dealing with something of a revolt on national health care reform, this time from elements of the left, which are upset about Joe Lieberman winning on the public option, which is now out of the Senate version of the bill.
This was fairly predictable.
The revolt is being led by Howard Dean, who has always been on the outs with the Obama crew.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi got the House to narrowly pass a $154 billion jobs bill. The vote was 217 to 212.
The Senate won’t deal with the bill till next year. The bill is intended to produce funding for worker training in high-growth and emerging industries, provide money for municipalities to hire more police and firefighters, and develop infrastructure.
Obama is also monitoring several geopolitical crises.
In Afghanistan, the first Marines in Obama’s new surge have begun arriving.
In Pakistan, there has been a slowdown in processing visas and other forms of cooperation with Americans. The government hasn’t articulated this all that clearly, but I think they don’t like the new Afghanistan strategy, which they fear will place greater pressure on their border provinces.
The Iranian nuclear crisis continues percolating. The House on Wednesday passed a bill by Los Angeles Congressman Howard Berman to impose new sanctions on Iran and on companies which aid the regime with refined petroleum products. Iran lacks the refining capacity to provide gasoline to at least a third of its people. The vote was 412 to 12.
Iranian officials said today it would make no difference in their plans.
A little film called Avatar had its Los Angeles premiere.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the Capitol today for private talks.
He’s pushing for action today in the Legislature on long delayed legislation to qualify California for Obama Administration education challenge grants.
He returned yesterday from Copenhagen where he took part in the UN climate summit.
Schwarzenegger’s speech can be viewed here on NWN in Tuesday’s edition below.
Schwarzenegger is pushing for a UN subnational summit in California next year. It would take place prior to the likely follow-on to Copenhagen — the talks this week aren’t likely to result in a new Copenhagen Protocol to follow the Kyoto Protocol — which will probably be in Mexico City.
** COPENHAGEN BLUES: OBAMA’S WEAK HAND ON CLIMATE, AND THE CALIFORNIA OPTION. As he prepares to go to Copenhagen for the deeply troubled UN climate change summit, President Barack Obama does so with a weak hand. He has no enacted legislation to brandish, no binding agreements on big greenhouse gas cuts with some of the biggest polluters, and no big financing to aid the developing world of poorer nations.
Aside from that, it’s really great.
Obama has cobbled together some impressive looking cards. But starting from the zero point that was bequeathed him by the Bush/Cheney Administration, and with far less congressional support than many imagine, he’s nowhere near ready to sign a new Copenhagen Protocol, were one to emerge, which it will not. …
** OBAMA’S LINCOLNESQUE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. Who expected, two months ago when the surprise award was announced, that President Barack Obama, in accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, would deliver a speech that in many respects is about the ethics of war? …
But Obama’s emergence as more the liberal warrior than the reflexive dove surprises me not in the least, for I was paying close attention to what the president said and wrote before and during his campaign. … From my December 11th column.
** HOW JERRY BROWN CLEARED THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. How did former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown clear the Democratic field for governor of California over half a year before next year’s primary election? Without even announcing his candidacy for governor? Let’s count the ways as we set the stage for one of the biggest races in America next year.
Most California political experts did not expect this result. The state’s much diminished press corps anticipated a big primary fight. Nor was Jerry Brown expected to be the easy winner. In fact, a site run by well-known state Democratic consultants put up an online poll in early 2007 to gauge early insider support for possible candidates. And, amusingly, neglected to include Brown. Despite the fact that the two-term former governor, two-time Democratic presidential runner-up, and two-time mayor of rugged Oakland had just won the biggest victory of any contested statewide race. Bigger even than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s landslide 17-point romp over his Democratic challenger.
Even after the main rivals to Brown dropped out, some kept pushing ever more unlikely prospects forward. Only to see them vanish like a desert mirage. Nevertheless, some amongst the thinned ranks of California reporters and bloggers still imagine that Brown and his capable and witty wife Anne Gust Brown are simply winging it. This view is, let’s say, not entirely accurate. … From my December 9th column.
** BARACK OBAMA’S WAR: 10 KEY THINGS TO KNOW. … From my December 4th column.
** NORTH BY NORTHWEST‘S 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION: ENDURING APPEAL AND THE MAD MEN FACTOR. … From my December 2nd essay.
** HEADS SHOULD ROLL OVER OBAMA STATE DINNER SECURITY BREACH. … From my November 27th column.
** TONY BLAIR’S CAUTIONARY TALE FOR OBAMA. … From my November 24th column.
** MAD MEN: THREE SEASONS ON AND LOOKING FORWARD. … From my November 21st essay.
** THE INEVITABLE FLUKE THAT IS SARAH PALIN. … From my November 17th column.
** OBAMA IN FLUX. … From my November 13th 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 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, 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. You can listen to my recent video webchat with Schwarzenegger here.
** 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 $72 per barrel.
This is near a two-month low, occasioned by high inventories and a strengthening dollar.
This is up about $38 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. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.