Ten days before President Barack Obama holds a summit meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Prague to sign a major nuclear arms reductions treaty, two female suicide bombers struck the Moscow metro today, killing dozens in a terrorist strike.
** QUICK HITS. Russian authorities are blaming Islamic extremists from the northern Caucasus region, perhaps Chechnya, for the the successful suicide bombing attacks this morning on the Moscow metro subway system. It being Russian politics, there are a few other conspiracy theories at play. Experts say the profile of the attacks matches the modus operandi used by terrorists from the would-be breakaway region. … In the wake of today’s Moscow attacks, security has gone on higher alert around U.S. transit systems. I’m not aware of attacks by Chechen terrorists against U.S. targets here or abroad, but the American and Russian presidents will hold a summit meeting next month in Prague. … The California Fair Political Practices Commission today, as expected, swiftly cleared Jerry Brown of charges leveled by billionaire Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor that Brown was illegally coordinating independent expenditure campaign activity with other Democrats. As someone who delved deeply into reporting on independent expenditure activity in the 2006 elections, it was obvious to me Whitman’s claim was completely spurious and had no hope of success. As it should have been to Whitman’s lawyer, who is regularly involved in these matters. … The FFPC late last week shot down a charge against San Francisco Mayor and candidate for lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom — leveled by the chief strategist in his aborted gubernatorial campaign who now works for another LG candidate, LA City Councilwoman Janice Hahn — that Newsom is violating state law by going back to maxed-out contributors to his late gubernatorial campaign. This, too, was an obvious waste of time. …
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … 24: DOWN FOR THE COUNT.
** TRADE PUBLICATION SAYS BILLIONAIRE MEG WHITMAN IS REJUVENATING CALIFORNIA’S BROADCAST REVENUES. California’s economy, and broadcast advertising revenues, have been hard hit by the global financial near meltdown. But a trade publication, Radio Broadcasting Report/Television Broadcasting Report, says that there is a savior already at work. Not on the economy as a whole, but certainly on California’s broadcast revenues.
That’s billionare Meg Whitman, the public affairs novice who suddenly decided to mount her own Republican campaign for governor of California.
“Whitman,” says the broadcasting trade publication, “is single-handedly rejuvenating California broadcast revenues.” In the process, she has become “an unavoidable presence on both television and radio.”
Former eBay executive and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is spending an average of $4 on advertising, which may not sound like much until you find out the time frame is per second. And her first test, the Republican primary, isn’t until 6/8/10.
The massive, unavoidable exposure purchased by the former McCain/Palin campaign co-chair and protege of Mitt Romney, however, “comes with the risk of over-exposure.”
** NEW POLL: IS THE NATIONAL HEALTH CARE BILL A SECRET WEAPON TO WIN INDEPENDENTS? A new Gallup Poll suggests an intriguing question. Is the national health care reform bill a secret weapon for the Democrats to win back independents?
Their standing amongst independent voters has taken a hit during the dragged-out “debate” over national health care reform. Independent voters are generally skittish about things that become controversial. And are heavily influenced by “trends.”
But when independents start seeing the benefits of the bill, that may change.
Why? Because independents disproportionately go without health insurance.
Uninsured Americans — those who stand to benefit the most from healthcare reform — are less Democratic and more independent than one might assume. Nearly half of the uninsured, compared with roughly a third of Americans with private insurance or Medicare, are politically independent.
Given this finding from Gallup Daily tracking in March, passing healthcare legislation did not merely cater to the Democrats’ base, but could potentially expand it among the uninsured themselves, who may now have more reason to support Democrats. Gallup polling immediately after the healthcare vote found 58% of uninsured Americans, compared with 45% of insured Americans, favoring the bill.
The net effect among all independents won’t necessarily be positive, however, as nearly 80% of that group currently has health insurance, and independents are almost evenly split on whether passage of the healthcare bill was a good thing or a bad thing.
Although the uninsured are clearly younger, on average, than the insured, age alone does not account for the tendency of the uninsured to be politically independent. At every age level, those without health insurance are more likely to be independent and less likely to be Republican than their insured counterparts.
President Barack Obama, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday, spoke to the troops at Bagram Air Base, which was established by the Soviets in the 1980s.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Another big week in presidential politics, and perhaps a relatively quiet one in California politics.
Following his very big win last week on the national health care bill, and striking of a nuclear arms reduction deal with Russia, President Barack Obama traveled to Afghanistan over the weekend. There he met with President Hamid Karzai, delivering a strong personal message on the need to crack down on corruption, and spoke to the troops.
This week we will see more talk about health care, as the president sells what he’s won to the voters. And there will be a fresh emphasis on creating jobs.
Obama will speak about the economy on Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina. By an odd coincidence, that is the same day on which the Labor Department releases unemployment numbers. The current jobless rate is 9.7%.
On Thursday, Obama goes to Portland, Maine, to do a health care event.
This will come on the heels of another health care event. On Tuesday, Obama signs the revisions to the national health care bill at Northern Virgina Community College.
New national polling by the Washington Post shows Democrats are now as enthused about the November elections as Republicans. There had been a big gap.
The president also has a big geopolitical agenda this week.
On Tuesday, he welcomes French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel/pop singer wife, Carla Bruni, to the White House.
Obama will also be prepping for his big summit meeting next week with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.
He and Medvedev struck a final agreement by phone last week on a new treaty to greatly reduce both countries’ nuclear weapons arsenals.
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. They will also deal with other pressing isses, such as NATO and Iran.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Preliminary results of the March 7th Iraqi national parliamentary elections were delayed several times; they are out now.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki lost 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.
Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s more secular slate finished first in the vote and in parliamentary seats. Allawi is now proposing to form a government with coalition partners.
In other national action …
The Tea Party crowd showed up in Searchlight, Nevada, home town of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, over the weekend to try to defeat him this November and kick off a national drive. However, the event, headlined by Sarah Palin, drew a crowd of less than 10,000, a far cry from the advertised right-wing Woodstock.
The apparent Republican presidential frontrunner, Mitt Romney — who came up with the idea for his business protege, billionaire Meg Whitman, to run for governor of California — is still touring in support of his book, “No Apology.” He happens to be in Iowa today.
And Congress is off for spring recess.
So is the California Legislature, with little progress on the state’s chronic budget crisis.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s off now, had a rather good week last week, getting bills passed on his priorities of stimulating home buying and green tech manufacturing.
Schwarzenegger is also working to dampen the fundraising potential for a proposed initiative to do away with California’s landmark AB 32 climate change program.
The initiative, which is backed mainly by Texas oil interests, starts out behind in private polling which I reviewed a few weeks ago and noted a while back.
Billionaire Meg Whitman, the leading GOP candidate for governor, continues blanketing the state with a new TV ad talking about how California should be run like a business. Her rival, super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, is drawing some blood with a new TV ad attacking her for having had the same position on illegal immigration as the president, a position she recently changed.
Whitman has flip-flopped as much in the past few weeks as Democrat Jerry Brown has in 40 years.
What’s Brown doing? His work as California’s attorney general, with a lot of action there, and raising money. Presumably to be spent by his new advertising advisor, Don Draper …
President Barack Obama arrived at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday morning, after his surprise trip to Afghanistan where he met with President Hamid Karzai and spoke to troops.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today, back from Afghanistan.
He received his daily intelligence briefing on Air Force One.
Obama arrived at Andrews Air Force Base earlier today, then helicoptered to the White House
At 1PM Pacific, Obama participates in a credentialing ceremony for foreign ambassadors.
At 3:30 PM Pacific, Obama marks the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of state.
He has no scheduled public events.
The state Legislature is off on spring break this 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. … From my March 25th column.
** 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. … From my March 22nd essay.
** THE MITT & MEG SHOW: “TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS” … 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 $82 per barrel.
This is up about $48 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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