Confirming the video report below, earlier in the day from Moscow, President Barack Obama said this morning that a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia marks a reset of relations with Moscow and sends signals that the world’s nuclear powers intend to lead global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons.
** QUICK HITS. The likely big power winners in the 2010 Census are: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona. Only the Lone Star State gained more population than the Golden State — both well over 3 million — in the past decade. … After the South Korean Cabinet went into emergency session over the sinking of a Navy ship, a spokesman said that, contrary, to earlier speculation from government circles, North Korea was not responsible for the incident. And that the target the distressed vessel fired upon before it sank was actually a flock of birds. Officially, it is unknown what caused the sinking, which cost the lives of dozens of sailors. … Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, hard at work behind the scenes on fundraising today, also contributed $500,000 from his campaign committee today to the open primary initiative on the June ballot. The measure, Proposition 14, has a good lead in the polls and is opposed by both of the Republicans trying to succeed him, billionaire Meg Whitman and super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. … At a big rally today in the Tuscon area, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin made an impassioned pitch for her former ticket mate, Arizona Senator John McCain, to be re-nominated by their party, calling him “the leader of a party of ideas.” McCain has a Senate primary tussle on his hands with far right ex-Congressman J.D. Hayworth.
** ONE OF THE TOP LOBBYISTS BACKING BILLIONAIRE MEG WHITMAN SAYS SHE WILL GO BIG FOR ANTI-AB 32 INITIATIVE. A lobbyist featured in radio ads for her campaign says that billionaire Meg Whitman, who’s spending like no one in history trying to go from non-voter to California’s next governor, will go heavy in the fall to repeal Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s trademark anti-climate change program.
Here’s what he told far right San Diego editorialist Chris Reed:
It’s full speed ahead for the effort to suspend the job-killing law until unemployment plunges, says the head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
I had Jon Coupal on my KOGO 600 AM show last night and asked him about the gov’s declaration yesterday that AB 32 needs to be phased in carefully with consideration of economic competitiveness issues and in synch with national efforts to fight climate change.
“Too little, too late,” said Jon.
He also predicted that after the Logue/McClintock measure putting AB 32 on hold qualifies for the ballot that Meg Whitman will get aboard.
I hope so. As I wrote earlier this week, her present stand of supporting a one-year suspension is incoherent. She knows it’s bad policy and that it makes far more sense to have a uniform national or international approach on climate change. So why a temporary suspension?
Whitman had called for a one-year suspension. But in a Santa Barbara stop, under more aggressive press questioning than she got at the state Republican convention, she said the plan should be ended, like her primary rival Steve Poizner. Which Reed didn’t know till he read this.
The ballot drive is largely funded by Texas oil companies, with some additional money filtered through Coupal’s anti-tax lobbying group.
Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Reed.
** NEW POLL: OPPOSITION TO AFGHAN WAR DROPS SHARPLY WHILE SUPPORT FOR OBAMA’S MOVES INCREASES. A new CNN poll shows a big drop in opposition to the war effort in Afghanistan.
Which I expected while working on my column, “Is Obama’s AfPak Strategy Actually Working?,” published on March 5th and linked below.
Americans are growing more optimistic about the war in Afghanistan and opposition to the war has dropped below the 50 percent mark for the first time in nearly a year, according to a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday indicates that 44 percent of the public says things are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan, with 43 percent saying things are going badly.
“That’s a huge 23-point jump since last November, when two-thirds thought that things were going poorly in the war,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. …
Forty-eight percent of people questioned now support the war, with 49 percent opposed. This is the first time since May of 2009 in CNN polling that opposition has dropped below 50 percent.
“Opposition to the war is down a bit since January and down significantly since the fall,” adds Holland. “The intensity of opposition to the war is also down. Last fall 39 percent said that they opposed the war and their minds were made up. Today that number has dropped to one in three. Optimism has also helped Barack Obama.”
The poll indicates that 55 percent of Americans approve of how the president’s handling Afghanistan, up from 42 percent last fall.
Support for the war is highest among rural Americans.
“A 55-percent majority of people who live in rural areas now support the war, up 14 points since the fall. That’s the biggest increase in support for the war among major demographic categories. Some 58 percent of city residents and 52 percent of suburbanites oppose the war,” says Holland.
So far, at least, Afghanistan is turning from a potential disaster for Obama into a positive piece of his presidential portfolio.
But the jury is still out, and much can go wrong with such a massive military presence in-country.
** IRAQI ELECTIONS: PRIME MINISTER’S SLATE FINISHES SECOND. Now we know for sure, as if we did not before, why Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his allies kept calling for a recount of the oft-delayed results from the March 7th national parliamentary elections.
Not only has Maliki’s party lost the national popular vote to the more secular and Sunni slate headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, it has also finished behind the Allawai slate in terms of seats won in the parliament.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s bloc has won the most seats in Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His coalition had two seats more than that of incumbent PM Nouri Maliki, officials said, in what was seen as a surprise result in the 7 March poll.
Earlier, the UN’s envoy to Iraq described the election as “credible” and urged Iraqis to accept the results.
Mr Allawi will need to form a coalition government as he lacks a majority, amid fears the results may spark violence. Just hours before the results were announced, twin bomb blasts in the town of Khalis, in Diyala province, killed at least 40 and left more than 60 injured.
In his first public response to the figures released by the electoral commission, Mr Maliki challenged the result, saying that it was far from being final. He repeated his call for the electoral commission to recount the vote and added that his bloc would press ahead with plans to form the new government.
The BBC’s Andrew North in Baghdad says this looks like a spectacular victory for Mr Allawi and a big upset for Mr Maliki – but at 91 seats to 89 it was a very tight race.
And with Mr Maliki’s party making allegations of irregularities, there are still concerns over whether the result will be accepted, our correspondent says.
Maliki will be under heavy pressure from the Obama Administration to accept the electoral results. Then the horsetrading will begin in earnest to see if Allawi and his allies can put together a government in Iraq’s multi-party system.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev held a phone conversation this morning that ironed out last-minute difficulties on a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The new deal will be signed on April 8th in the Czech capital of Prague.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Camp David today.
Obama met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and received his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
He then phoned Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow.
The two presidents struck a final agreement on a new treaty to greatly reduce both countries’ nuclear weapons arsenals.
Obama, joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Bob Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen then announced the agreement in the White House Briefing Room.
Obama and Medvedev will hold a U.S/Russia summit meeting in Prague on April 8th, where they will sign the nuclear arms reduction treaty. The signing will come nearly a year to the day from the Prague address in which Obama laid out many of his geopolitical goals, including the reduction of nuclear weapons.
At 1:45 PM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to the presidential retreat at Camp David. He will sign the reconciliation follow-up legislation to the national health care reform bill before he goes.
As Obama prepares to leave, there appears to be a new geopolitical crisis emerging.
A South Korean Navy ship, apparently a guided missile frigate, has sunk in waters near North Korea. It may have been torpedoed.
Congress is off for spring recess. Last night, the House passed the reconciliation addenda to the national health care reform bill, following Senate passage. The vote in the Senate was 56 to 43. The vote in the House was 220 to 211.
A few more days of Republican obstructionism on the health care issue came to naught.
In other action, Vice President Joe Biden is in Texas today, appearing at fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The Tea Party crowd shows up in Searchlight, Nevada, home town of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, rally to try to defeat him this November.
Reid will not be around. He is in Las Vegas today, at the opening of a new shooting center, the development of which he spearheaded. Reid will be joined there by the head of the National Rifle Association.
John McCain and Sarah Palin are back together again. This time the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee is coming to the rescue of the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.
McCain has a tough primary fight against far right former Congressman J.D. Hayworth. So Palin, the toast of the far right, is campaigning with McCain today and tomorrow. The two will appear together at a fundraiser tonight at the same Phoenix hotel from which McCain conceded the 2008 presidential race to Barack Obama.
Like any typical person, President Barack Obama visited a bookstore (yes, they still exist) yesterday in Iowa City.
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 today.
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 today.
He has no scheduled public events.
Schwarzenegger will holds private talks.
The state Legislature is off on spring break, which continues next week.
** 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. …
** 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 $80 per barrel.
This is up about $46 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.