President Barack Obama, appearing today in Iowa, mocked Republicans’ campaign to repeal his new health care law, saying they should “Go for it,” and see how well they fare with voters.
** QUICK HITS. An increasingly confident President Barack Obama, speaking today in Iowa City where he first outlined his health care reform plans in 2007, dared Republicans to try to overturn the national health care bill. Meanwhile, legal experts mostly dismissed the prospects for a lawsuit against the new law. … In the California governor’s race, the frontrunner in the Republican primary, billionaire Meg Whitman, is about to be hit with a TV ad from her super-rich state insurance commissioner rival, Steve Poizner, demonstrating that Whitman had the same position on illegal immigration as Obama. Under pressure, she recently changed her position. … No sign yet of TV advertising starting up in California’s Republican Senate race, in which ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has pulled even with ex-Congressman Tom Campbell without paid advertising. … As long expected, an initiative to legalize marijuana in California qualified late yesterday for the November ballot. It had a lead in public polling last year. But the night is young. None of the major candidates for governor support it.
** PPIC POLL: A FEW KEY FACTS. The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll is out now, off embargo as of late last night. I get the PPIC polls well in advance of their publication, and so was able to clarify a few things early yesterday that struck my curiosity, then wait to see if anyone else was curious. More about that in a moment.
The PPIC poll mostly mirrors the Field Poll in its findings. Which is not surprising, because the two remaining major public polls in California were, ironically, conducted at the very same time, March 9th through 16th.
Which hasn’t prevented a number of reports in the press presenting the PPIC poll as a poll that is newer than the Field Poll. The only thing that is newer about it is that it was released a week later. Much of the data in both these polls is now two weeks old.
The period in which the poll was conducted is actually mentioned in the poll. But I didn’t see its sampling approach, so I called PPIC to find out.
It turns out that PPIC is using a sample with significant difference in partisan registration.
Actual voter registration in California is 45% Democrat, 31% Republican, and the remainder decline-to-state (or independent, as I call them) and minor party. That’s a 14-point Democratic edge over Republicans.
The Field model is 45% Democrat, 35% Republican, and 20% independent and other. That’s a 10-point Democratic edge over Republicans.
The PPIC model, after the person I called checked with the pollster, is 43% Democrat, 36% Republican, 19% independent, and 2% other. That’s a 7-point Democratic edge over Republican, half that of the actual registration in the state and 3 points less than in the Field model.
That undoubtedly accounts for the slight difference in the governor’s race numbers between Field and PPIC, polls which, as you know now, were actually conducted at the same time, concluding over a week ago. The Field Poll, released last week, had Jerry Brown slightly trailing billionaire Meg Whitman, whose ads had barraged the state for months unanswered, 46% to 43%. PPIC, taken at the same time with a sample more advantageous to Republicans, had it Whitman 44%, Brown 39%. (Brown leads super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, at last beginning to make a TV advertising move, by similarly wide margins in both polls, though two points less in PPIC, the same difference as applies to the Brown/Whitman numbers.)
Naturally, a few reporters, unaware that the polls were taken at the same time and use different partisan samples, presented this as Whitman increasing her lead.
One other significant difference between the polls, found within the data, concerns Latino voters.
In the Field Poll, Brown leads Whitman, 54% to 29%. But in the PPIC poll, when I first saw it, Brown’s lead over Whitman among Latinos was only 44% to 35%. Later in the day, this was corrected to Brown 45%, Whitman 35%, still a big difference from the Field numbers.
As it happens, there is a big difference between the two polls that may not have anything to do with differences/anomalies in sampling. And that’s the number in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
In the Field Poll, ex-Congressman Tom Campbell, who I expect to lose, still led ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, 28% to 22%, with far right Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore mired in single digits. But in the PPIC poll, it’s Fiorina 24%, Campbell 23%.
I’ve already explained why Campbell is in deep trouble, having had to repeatedly change his story about his friendship with and support from a convicted jihadist terrorist.
Other interesting findings in the PPIC poll:
– For the first time, a slight edge for supporters of same-sex marriage, which Whitman and Poizner oppose.
– A big majority for comprehensive immigration reform, which Poizner and now Whitman, under pressure from Poizner, both oppose.
– General optimism about the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan.
– Big concern that not enough is being done to stimulate employment.
– Continued support for President Barack Obama.
– A big edge for the Schwarzenegger-backed open primary initiative, Proposition 14 on the June primary ballot, which Whitman and Poizner oppose.
– Strong support for stricter regulation of banks and other financial institutions, which Whitman opposes.
Interestingly, the Whitman camp hasn’t jumped on this poll to trumpet a “growing” lead.
That may be because they are aware of private polling showing the race with Brown to be tied. And because they are aware that Poizner is still a threat.
Defense Secretary Bob Gates today approved new rules that will make it harder to discharge gays and lesbians from the military, calling the changes a matter of “common sense and common decency.”
** NANCY PELOSI’S TRIUMPH: A LONG TIME COMING. It’s been a very heady few days for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called her “a Speaker for the ages” after she ramrodded the national health care reform bill through the House of Representatives. “The most powerful woman in American history,” declared The Economist.
Which had not been my immediate expectation when I met Pelosi, whose 70th birthday is tomorrow, three decades ago at a party at her San Francisco home.
While recollections from the age of four (that’s a little joke) can, as we all know, be decidedly hazy, I remember some clear impressions. Though the daughter and sister of Baltimore mayors, Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi was relatively new to being in politics on her own hook. …
In testimony today before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank might reverse course and start tightening credit when the “expansion matures.”
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Iowa today.
Obama has received his intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
He is now on Air Force One en route to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
At 10:05 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on health care reform in Iowa City. It was there, as a presidential candidate trailing Hillary Clinton three years ago, that he talked about his national health care plan.
At 12:35 PM Pacific, Obama departs Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 2:25 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, where he boards Marine One.
At 2:40 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama is working on ensuring passage of several needed adjustments to the health care bill in the Senate through the majority vote budget reconciliation process.
Simon Lazarus, a constitutional scholar with the American Constitution Society, says nearly every aspect of the lawsuits brought against the national health care reform bill is frivolous.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Preliminary results of the March 7th Iraqi national parliamentary elections have been delayed several times; they are now due on Friday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appears to be trailing in the national popular vote. Maliki has called again for a manual recount of the national vote. But the elections commission has again turned him down.
So now he is threatening legal action.
Maliki’s slate is apparently leading former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s more secular slate in more provinces. So there is a way in which Maliki might be able to cobble together more seats in parliament, while losing the overall national popular vote.
Which is hardly where a national leader wants to be.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Fresno today.
At 11 AM, Schwarzenegger will deliver remarks at the first annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day Event at the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park. Last year Schwarzenegger signed legislation which established the annual “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 30.
At 2:30 PM, Schwarzenegger will hold a press conference at a development in Fresno where he will sign AB 183 by Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) to provide a tax credit of up to $10,000 to Californians who are buying their first home or purchasing a brand new home. This legislation is part of his California Jobs Initiative.
Schwarzenegger signed another of his big legislative priorities, promoting green tech jobs, into law yesterday.
** THE GHOST(S): OF TONY BLAIR, ROMAN POLANSKI, AND A WAR ON TERROR. Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer is one of the best films I’ve seen in recent years. It has masterful suspense, wit, humor, excellent casting and acting, fascinating design and music, and a highly relevant story which does not hit one over the head with a message. Yet it seems unlikely, at least in America, to break out beyond the art house hit status of The Hurt Locker and other much-admired and not widely-seen films.
Why? I think the first two words in the lead sentence provide the explanation. It’s a Roman Polanski film. And the distributor either doesn’t know how to market a film made by so notorious a figure that he is practically a pariah, at least now in America, or has found it to be impossible. It’s certainly an intriguing challenge, one that would tax the talents of a Don Draper.
In a real sense, as a filmmaker, Polanski is already a ghostly presence in America. One could note that he hasn’t had a big hit here since 1974’s Chinatown, which not coincidentally was made before his utterly unacceptable encounter with an underage girl. But one could also note that The Ghost Writer is a more commercial film than the films he’s been doing since his exile from the world’s movie-making capital of Los Angeles.
The Ghost Writer is a very well-reviewed, and widely reviewed, film, a roman a clef about former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Which indicates that it has vibrancy beyond whatever it winds up doing at the domestic box office. It’s that good.
It’s based on the best-selling novel “The Ghost” by Robert Harris, which was bad enough for Tony Blair. But a book is one thing; a film is quite another. The novel by Harris — he was a friend of Blair who broke with him over the Iraq War — is very good. As is the basic story, good enough for me to know the novel well and still enjoy the twists and turns of the film. … From my March 22nd essay.
** THE MITT & MEG SHOW: “TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS” Billionaire Meg Whitman, the seeming political cipher who would be governor of California, is purchasing endless amounts of unanswered advertising. It’s propelled her into a slight lead over Democrat Jerry Brown in the new Field Poll, something which Brown (who’s held, lost, and held again leads in many campaigns) told me weeks ago that he expected.
Yet she has serious problems. At this past weekend’s state Republican convention, she tried to deal with two of them: Her avoidance of the press and her mysterious motivation as a newfound politician.
As a character, Meg Whitman lacks evident psychological credibility. Why is someone with no engagement in public affairs before her sudden leadership role in the 2008 Republican presidential campaigns — someone who couldn’t even be bothered to vote, and can’t say how long she’s lived in California — suddenly running for governor of the state?
Conservative Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Whitman’s business mentor, provides the answer. It was his idea that Whitman run for governor, and he convinced her to do it. … From my March 17th column.
** MEG WHITMAN’S NEW! IMPROVED! POST-JOURNALISM! POLITICS. … From my March 12th column.
** IS MEG WHITMAN LIKE ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER? YES (IN THE WRONG WAYS) … From my March 9th column.
** IS OBAMA’S AFPAK STRATEGY ACTUALLY WORKING? … From my March 5th column.
** THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. With Democrat Jerry Brown finally declaring his candidacy for California governor today and billionaire Meg Whitman’s super-rich Republican rival Steve Poizner starting his own TV ad campaign against her, this seems a good time to talk about a big new negative theme about the rather tarnished Golden State. Is California America’s first “failed state?” That’s what a lot of people are saying. So I talked about that with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; the governor he replaced, Gray Davis; and a famous former governor favored to be the next governor, Jerry Brown. … From my March 2nd column.
** THE BAND OF THE DECADE: THE BEATLES?! … From my January 1st, 2010 essay.
** HOW JERRY BROWN CLEARED THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my December 9th, 2009 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, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** HELP FOR HAITI.
** 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.
** 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 $81 per barrel.
This is up about $47 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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