President Barack Obama, meeting today with his Economic Recovery Advisory Board headed by former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker, discussed the need to reform the financial sector and rein in some of the risky Wall Street practices that nearly tanked the global economy.
** ROAMING MODE. NWN is in roaming mode this weekend. After knocking myself out with items throughout weekend California political conventions, when the fewest folks are reading, my preference this year is to give a full report after the fact, telling you what no one else is and putting it all in perspective, as I did with the California Republican Party convention. This enables me to ditch the laptop and travel light, with only phone and camera. (And no, I no longer post by blackberry. That was not very healthy.) So I’ll be all over the very familiar ground of the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in LA … If Attorney General Brown or Senator Boxer says something I don’t expect, I’ll let you know.
** CALIFORNIA 2010: WHY IS WHITMAN ATTACKING POIZNER? LET’S THINK. Consider some recent moves by the Republican gubernatorial primary campaign of billionaire Meg Whitman.
It announced that it’s bringing in 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the brother and son of former Presidents George Bush I and II, to campaign for her.
Then it put a TV attack ad up against Poizner, attacking Poizner as a supposedly phony Republican.
If she’s looking to position herself for a general election campaign against Jerry Brown, and running with a huge 40-50 point lead over Poizner, as previous polling suggests, why would she do this?
She’s already associated with McCain, whose campaign she co-chaired, and Romney, her business mentor who came up with the idea for her to run, but does she really want to bring in a Bush?
Here’s what I think. Poizner is cutting into that huge Whitman lead. It’s not close, but he is closing. That’s what the polling I’m hearing tells me. How much? Well, that affects the expectation, but maybe half. Suffice it to say that the Whitman campaign is not crazy to be fighting a primary contest.
Poizner, for his part, is running his brand new TV ad positioning him as the big tax cutter in the race (he wants an across-the-board cut, whereas Whitman targets rich investors and corporations). And he is running his ad positioning Whitman as the next coming of Arnold, hitting her for being soft on illegal immigration.
A new U.N. report blames Pakistan’s security establishment for failing to stop the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and reveals that there was no criminal investigation in its aftermath.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then delivered remarks at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors at the Interior Department.
At 8 AM Pacific, Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room.
Here are the participants in the AfPak review today with Obama in the White House Situation Room:
Vice President Joe Biden
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Ambassador Susan Rice, Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations (via videoconference)
Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg
Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin
Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (via videoconference)
Anne Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (via videoconference)
Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General James E. Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
General David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command
General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan (via videoconference)
Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence
CIA Director Leon Panetta
General James Jones, National Security Advisor
Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President
Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden have lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board in the Roosevelt Room.
Late yesterday, Obama signed the just passed $18 billion bill to extend unemployment benefits.
In addition to Afghanistan, Obama is monitoring geopolitical crises in Pakistan, and Iran, and Iraq.
The United Nations today issued a report on the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who had just returned to the country and was expected to be its next leader.
The report finds that Pakistan’s security apparatus was very lax in protecting Bhutto and that thee was no serious investigation into her assassination. Pakistan was then headed by President Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, is now president of Pakistan. But there are ongoing efforts to force him out of office on corruption charges.
In Iraq, where politics has been deadlocked since the March 7th national parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today called for a national coalition government including the more secular Sunni party of former Prime Minister Ayad Allaw, which actually narrowly defeated Maliki’s party in the election, but does not have enough support to govern on its own.
Maliki, a Shiite, had previously sought to cut his own deals to remain in office and exclude the first place party entirely.
Britain held its first ever debate last night between the leaders of its three main parties as they head into the May 6th national election. Nick Clegg, leader of the UK’s third party, the Liberal Democrats, fared best, followed by Conservative Opposition Leader David Cameron and Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The race between the Conservatives and Labour is tight, and Clegg’s party may hold the balance of power in Britain’s parliamentary system.
Britain, America’s closest ally, is digesting last night’s debate between the leaders of its three main parties in the run-up to the May 6th general election. This election was just called on April 6th; the Brits like to have much shorter election campaigns than we do.
Incidentally, the debate was immediately preceded by an ad for the Tony Blair roman a clef film The Ghost, which opens in the UK today. My essay on the film, known in the US as The Ghost Writer, is linked below.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown represented Labour, while principal Opposition Leader David Cameron debated for the Conservatives and Nick Clegg carried the banner of the Liberal Democrats.
What do these parties mean in American terms? Well, Labour is left-liberal to center-left, the Conservatives are corporate conservative to moderate conservative, and the Liberal Democrats are center-left to centrist.
In American terms, Conservative leader David Cameron, who was selected for party leadership in part because of some Blair-like qualities, would be a very moderate Republican with a serious Tea Party problem, while Brown and Clegg would be Democrats.
Cameron and the Conservatives had held a big lead in polls over Gordon Brown’s Labourites heading into the election, which Brown himself called. And now it is a very close race, with both parties in the 30s, and the Conservatives only a few points ahead.
Clegg appeared to win the debate, with Cameron faring somewhat better than the rather stolid Gordon Brown. (I’d better call him Gordon Brown so no casual reader thinks I just referred to Jerry Brown as “stolid.”)
What’s the impact on the election? Probably a strengthening of the third place Liberal Democrats, which may give them the whip hand in post-election maneuvering to choose the prime minister.
Why was this the first ever such debate? Perhaps because British politics is a parliamentary system. Every candidate for prime minister is a member of Parliament, and engages in debates on a constant basis. This is one reason why British politicians are generally more articulate and impressive than their American counterparts.
Someone like Meg Whitman could not be a candidate to lead Britain.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
He has no planned public events.
Schwarzenegger will hold private talks.
** JERRY BROWN’S LONG AND WINDING ROAD. After clearing the Democratic field last year, Jerry Brown makes his first speech to the California Democratic Party convention as its de facto nominee for governor on Saturday. The LA event comes at a key moment of definition in what is arguably the biggest race in the country this year.
Billionaire Meg Whitman, the handpicked choice of Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, has been burning up the airwaves for months with the biggest spending statewide campaign ever seen in America. The former national co-chair of the McCain/Palin campaign is way ahead of super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is trying to put on a closing burst of advertising himself, slamming her between now and the June Republican primary. And she’s pulled even with or slightly ahead of Brown, who has spent virtually nothing.
He’s also conducted a fairly stealthy campaign. To the extent that someone who is California’s chief law enforcement officer and is constantly engaging publicly with a raft of high-profile issues can be described as stealthy.
But while Whitman, who’s barely bothered to vote and lied in her first TV ad about how long she’s lived in California, flip-flops her positions with dizzying rapidity and tries to “brand” herself with relentless advertising, Brown has genuine definition. The question is: Whose definition will prevail?
If ever there was a political figure who brought to mind the title of the Beatles’ classic, “The Long and Winding Road,” it’s Jerry Brown. He was California’s youngest elected governor, at age 36, when he was sworn in the first time in 1975. If he wins in November, he’ll be our oldest governor. An intellectual provocateur by nature, Jerry Brown, one of the most intriguing political figures this country has produced, has played a myriad of roles and offered a myriad of positions.
Ever fascinated by the new computing and biological technologies he helped foster in his first go-round as governor (when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Intel co-founder Bob Noyce, and Silicon Valley marketing guru Regis McKenna served in his administration) — in which shifting computing paradigms and recombinant DNA played the leading edge of the change — Brown has always been fascinated by what I call recombinant ideologies. … From my April 15th column.
** OBAMA’S NUCLEAR STRATEGY AND THE RUSSIAN RESURGENCE. President Barack Obama is in the midst of a spate of moves to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons, his moves coinciding with the ongoing resurgence of Russia.
That there is a strong connection here is only to be expected. America and Russia are the two nuclear superpowers on the planet. Obama can’t get what he wants without Russia. And Russia has much that it wants in order to continue erasing the memory of its ’90s near collapse after the fall of the Soviet Union.
With his Washington summit this week with the leaders of 47 nations — the largest summit hosted by an American president since the 1945 founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco — Obama’s focus is on securing materials that could lead to the possession of nuclear weapons by additional states or transnational terrorists. Clearly he needs Russia’s help on that, along with final agreement on securing the country’s Cold War materials. Last week, Obama announced a new U.S. nuclear strategy, then journeyed to Prague, site of his speech a year ago laying out his goal to end the threat of nuclear weapons. On Thursday, he and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed a treaty to reduce each country’s nuclear arsenal to 1550 weapons apiece. … From my April 12th column.
** OBAMA’S BIG NEW AFPAK PROBLEMS. As President Barack Obama turns his attention to nuclear weapons, his AfPak strategy appears to be going south, even as polling shows his approach to be popular at home. That would be so even if Kyrgyzstan, home to the last remaining U.S. base in Central Asia, had not just experienced a sudden revolution in which the new powers appear to be opponents of the U.S. military presence in their country.
Obama has a big new nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia, signed Thursday in Prague. He’s announced a new nuclear strategy for the U.S., which narrows the conditions under which nuclear weapons would be used. Next week, he hosts the heads of state of nearly 50 countries in Washington to discuss stronger international controls on nuclear weapons technology. All to the good.
Meanwhile, however, his surprise visit to Afghanistan on March 28th, heavy on drama, seems to be coming up very short on substance. … From my April 7th column.
** 10 KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE HIGH-STAKES CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE: WHAT IT MEANS FOR BROWN, WHITMAN, POIZNER, ROMNEY, AND OBAMA. … From my April 1st column.
** 24: DOWN FOR THE COUNT? … From my March 30th column.
** NANCY PELOSI’S TRIUMPH: A LONG TIME COMING. … From my March 25th column.
** THE GHOST(S): OF TONY BLAIR, ROMAN POLANSKI, AND A WAR ON TERROR. … 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.
** THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. … From my March 2nd column.
** 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.
** 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 $84 per barrel.
This is up about $50 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.