President Barack Obama called the ethnically profiling Arizona immigration law “misguided” and said it may violate people’s civil rights. Senator John McCain, who once opposed laws like this, now favors it.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … PUNDITS, BLOGGERS, ACTIVIST LEADERS THINKING OF RUNNING FOR HIGH OFFICE? THINK AGAIN.
** CALIFORNIA 2010: GETTING IT WRONG ON BROWN, POIZNER’S NEW ANTI-ARNOLD AD, AND A BIGGER DEMOCRATIC AND INDEPENDENT EDGE IN REGISTRATION. Experience doesn’t always equal knowledge. That’s the takeaway from today’s brief daily effort by veteran Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.
Walters, a moderate conservative who had championed Pete Wilson’s governorship as the harbinger of a lasting Republican era in California and last week pooh-poohed that illegal, and highly inaccurate, TV ad by the California Chamber of Commerce, attacking Jerry Brown under the flimsiest of guises as an educational effort by the non-profit corporation — an ad which had to be disappeared, along with the web site established for the purpose — has covered Brown for nearly 40 years, generally negatively.
Today he had a short column in which he equated controversy about billionaire Meg Whitman’s finances with “questions” about Brown’s finances. In the course of it, in which he tried to liken Whitman’s offshore tax shelters and very controversial recent tenure on the board of Goldman Sachs to an oil importing business that Brown’s father, former Governor Pat Brown, established over 40 years ago, he wrote that Brown had “no visible means of support” after leaving the governorship.
As I reminded Walters this morning, the reality is very different. Brown, a Yale Law grad, worked for a big LA law firm.
Brown, incidentally, is the only candidate to agree to the request of the Bay Area Newspaper Group (which includes the San Jose Mercury News) to release 10 years of tax returns.
Meanwhile, ex-Schwarzenegger ally Steve Poizner has a brand-new anti-Arnold TV ad to spur on his closing campaign against Whitman. Poizner had trailed by 50 points; now he’s within 20 points of the billionaire, who’s already shattered all California records for spending. (NWN was first to report a week ago that the race was closing.)
Here’s the text:
MALE NARRATOR: You like Arnold?
FEMALE NARRATOR: You’ll love Meg Whitman.
MALE NARRATOR: She supports taxpayer funding for abortion.
FEMALE NARRATOR: Do you?
MALE NARRATOR: Whitman campaigned and contributed to Barbara Boxer.
FEMALE NARRATOR: Did you?
MALE NARRATOR: Whitman campaigned for the disastrous bailout that saved Goldman Sachs.
FEMALE NARRATOR: Did you?
MALE NARRATOR: Whitman supports the Obama amnesty plan for illegal immigrants.
FEMALE NARRATOR: Do you?
MEG WHITMAN: What I need to do is let Californians know what I stand for.
FEMALE NARRATOR: Oh, we know.
MALE NARRATOR: There’s a better choice, conservative businessman Steve Poizner. That’s real change.
The TV ad can be seen here. This is also the first TV ad that hits Whitman on Goldman Sachs. She had to leave the board after benefiting from inside information.
And the Secretary of State’s office today released the latest voter registration figures for California. Since the last race for governor in 2006, Democrats and independents have gained sharply, while Republicans have dropped.
In 2006, the state was 43% Democratic, 35% Republican, and 18% independent (decline to state). Today it’s 45% Democratic, 31% Republican, and 20% independent. Republicans are the only category, other than the Green Party, that has gone down in absolute numbers as the electorate as a whole grew.
Victory lies in winning the independents and turning out the base.
** PARTIES NEARLY EVEN IN NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION, AT LEAST AS OF A FEW WEEKS AGO, THANKS TO SLIDING INDEPENDENTS. While President Barack Obama has a 50% approval rating today, with 42% disapproving, his party fared less well during the first three months of the year.
A round-up of Gallup surveys during the first quarter of 2010 is sobering for Democrats, who can only hope their standing has gotten better over the last few weeks.
The advantage in public support the Democratic Party built up during the latter part of the Bush administration and the early part of the Obama administration has all but disappeared. During the first quarter of 2010, 46% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, while 45% identified as or leaned Republican.
The latest results, based on aggregated data from Gallup polls conducted from January to March of this year, show the closest party division since the first quarter of 2005, when the parties were tied at 46%. Democrats enjoyed double-digit advantages in party support in 11 of 12 quarters from the second quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2009.
By the end of last year, the Democratic advantage had shrunk to five points (47% to 42%), and it narrowed further in the most recent quarter.
The six-point rise in Republican support since the first quarter of 2009 is due entirely to a growing proportion of independents who lean to the Republican Party, rather than an increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans outright. (Gallup measures party identification by first asking Americans whether they identify as Republicans, Democrats, or independents. Those who are independent or express no party preference are then asked whether they lean more toward the Democratic or the Republican Party.)
In fact, the 28% of Americans who initially identify as Republicans today is identical to the figure Gallup measured in early 2009, when the Democrats still had a double-digit advantage in support. Since then, there has been a three-point reduction in the proportion of Democratic identifiers, and a three-point decline in the percentage of Democratic-leaning independents.
After his high-profile New York speech on Wall Street reform, President Barack Obama returned to the White House and late yesterday celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and North Carolina.
Obama received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then delivered remarks at a naturalization citizenship ceremony for members of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Rose Garden.
Obama spoke against an ethnic profiling law pending in Arizona and called for comprehensive immigration reform.
At 8:45 AM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama board Marine One and fly to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 9 AM Pacific, the Obamas depart Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Asheville, North Carolina.
At 10:20 AM Pacific, the Obamas arrive in Asheville, North Carolina.
They will spend the weekend in North Carolina.
Prospects are looking up for Obama’s Wall Street reform legislation following his address yesterday at the Cooper Union in New York City. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a procedural vote for late Monday.
In other action …
Vice President Joe Biden has traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This morning, Biden attends an event for Congressional candidate Mark Critz.
In the afternoon, Biden attends a rally for Senator Arlen Specter at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport. Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat, is running in a primary against Congressman Joe Sestak, a retired Navy admiral.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Finland for talks with top officials from NATO nations on the future of the alliance.
Clinton is resisting calls by some for removal of the U.S. nuclear arsenal on European soil, reportedly some 200 weapons. She is also looking to get more trainers from other NATO members for the Afghan Army and police forces.
In Iraq, the government following national elections over six weeks ago is still not settled. The secular Sunni party headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi surprisingly finished first ahead of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Shiite-based party. But no one has been able to form a government and the shape of a national coalition government remains elusive.
56 people were killed in bombings today in Baghdad, apparently carried out by Sunnis fearful of their interests being shut out of the new government.
In Iran, after a show of force over the weekend, the Tehran regime again said it has a new compromise on the nuclear enrichment issue, likely yet another bid to forestall new sanctions.
Yesterday Iran began another show of force, this time in the the very strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil supply passes.
Today’s exercise included simulated attacks on ships by underwater divers and small fast boats.
All this is designed to dissuade Western nations and Israel from strong sanctions or military action.
It’s also a reminder that at least a modicum of good will from Iran is necessary for the U.S. to stay on schedule in its withdrawal from Iraq, where Iran has had a great deal of influence following the removal of Saddam Hussein.
This Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral late yesterday on a mission shrouded in secrecy. The U.S. Air Force will say only that the unmanned rocket is carrying a test vehicle — the X-37B — that will conduct various experiments over the next several months.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
He has no scheduled public events.
Schwarzenegger will hold private talks.
Schwarzenegger had a big day yesterday.
He celebrated Earth Day in the Bay Area city of Milpitas, where he announced a new solar manufacturing facility.
He then joined Attorney General Jerry Brown in Salinas, where Brown announced that, after an eight-month investigation, his Department of Justice strike force has arrested major gang leaders who have been preying upon residents of the Salinas Valley.
Schwarzengger also saw his appointee as lieutenant governor, moderate Republican state Senator Abel Maldonado, win easy confirmation by the state Assembly, which a few months ago declined to confirm him. The state Senate, which confirmed Maldonado, first revealed as Schwarzenegger’s appointee on NWN, the first time around on an overwhelming vote, will shortly follow suit.
Schwarzenegger also saw editorial approval for a new bill he is sponsoring with state Senator Dennis Hollingsworth to begin reining in public pension costs. This is a compromise from his position five years ago, in that it does not challenge existing pensions but moves toward a 401K system for new hires.
** CALIFORNIA STORY: BROWN, BOXER, AND (UN)CONVENTION(AL) POLITICS. Big developments in the past few days make it clear why California has the biggest races in the country this year, with President Barack Obama helping Barbara Boxer defend her Senate seat and Jerry Brown, trying for a record third term as governor, taking on the biggest spending statewide campaign in American history.
At its weekend convention in Los Angeles, the California Democratic Party endorsed Attorney General Jerry Brown as its candidate for an unprecedented third term as governor, in the process embracing him as the party’s “patriarch,” as one newspaper put it, albeit of the decidedly maverick variety. Brown, the two-time Democratic presidential runner-up who I shadowed on and off, reset the governor’s race against billionaire Meg Whitman or super-rich State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner with a debate challenge and a focus on the excesses of Wall Street.
Senator Barbara Boxer, whose situation is both more straightforward and more problematic than Brown’s, rallied the party at the LA Convention Center, then appeared with President Barack Obama on Monday night for three fundraisers. He’ll be back next month to help Boxer with fundraisers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Boxer and Brown are alike in that both are strong fighters who have won many statewide races. But they are not alike in other respects. …
** JERRY BROWN’S LONG AND WINDING ROAD. … From my April 15th column.
** OBAMA’S NUCLEAR STRATEGY AND THE RUSSIAN RESURGENCE. … From my April 12th column.
** OBAMA’S BIG NEW AFPAK PROBLEMS. … 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.
** 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 $83 per barrel.
This is up about $49 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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