President Barack Obama, an unabashed Chicago White Sox fan, welcomed the New York Yankees to the White House to celebrate their World Series title.
** QUICK HITS. The Chris Dodd-sponsored Wall Street regulation bill failed in its cloture vote on a 57-41 vote in favor late today. The bill needs 60 votes to block a Republican filibuster. Senator Harry Reid voted against it so he can bring it back when he pleases. Democrats are actually pleased to have Republicans lining up against this bill, as it serves their partisan needs very nicely. … An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that the bill is backed heavily, 65% to 31%. Voters trust Obama over Republicans on this issue, 52% to 35%, with a big edge for the president with independent voters. … California labor today officially launched the anti-billionaire Meg Whitman campaign I wrote about last Wednesday in my Huffington Post piece, linked below.
** MALDONADO CONFIRMED AS CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. A big win for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this afternoon as his appointee, moderate GOP state Senator Abel Maldonado (first revealed as Schwarzenegger’s appointee on NWN), was confirmed at last. Following last week’s victory in the state Assembly, the vote came today in the friendlier confines of the state Senate.
The vote was 25 to 7.
Maldonado will replace Democrat John Garamendi, who was elected to Congress in November. He is also running in the GOP primary for a full term at the office.
Maldonado will be sworn in tomorrow by Schwarzenegger in the state Capitol.
The special election for his state Senate seat will likely take place in August, with the run-off at the same time as the general election.
** NEW POLL: YOUNGER VOTERS LESS ENTHUSIASTIC, MORE DEMOCRATIC. There is good news and bad news, for both parties, in a new Gallup Poll.
Younger voters remain less enthusiastic about voting in this year’s midterm elections than those who are older, underscoring the challenge facing the Democratic Party in its efforts to re-energize these voters, who helped President Obama win the presidency in 2008. …
The fact that voters under age 50 — and particularly those under 30 — are less enthusiastic about voting this year is not a new phenomenon; voter turnout typically skews older. The current data, based on Gallup Daily tracking conducted April 1-25, confirm that so far, 2010 provides no exception to this traditional pattern.
It thus is not surprising that President Obama and Democratic Party leaders on Monday launched an effort to stoke enthusiasm among young people and other voting groups that helped support Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Obama issued a new online video that includes this exhortation to his supporters: “It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.”
Gallup Daily tracking data reinforce the value of younger voters for the Democrats, showing that 18- to 29-year-olds favor the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate in their local districts by a 12-point margin. In contrast, the Republican candidate is on top among all groups of voters aged 30 and older.
Younger voters have presented a good news-bad news scenario for Democratic candidates and campaign managers in recent elections. The good news is that younger voters disproportionately lean to Democratic candidates. The bad news is that younger voters have a historically bad track record in terms of turning out in big numbers on Election Day.
The current data confirm that at this juncture, both of these patterns continue to play out in this year’s midterm elections. Democratic leaders have apparently recognized these realities, and are attempting to re-create the enthusiasm for Democrats among younger voters that was apparent in 2008. Gallup’s continuous monitoring of voting enthusiasm across the age spectrum in the months ahead will help document whether these efforts are successful.
Note that these are national numbers. Democrats are stronger in California across the board. Nevertheless, the trend line is significant.
At a memorial service yesterday in Beckley, West Virginia, President Barack Obama offered words of praise and condolence for the 29 victims of the recent mine disaster. The April 5th explosion was the worst mining disaster in a generation.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A very big week in presidential politics gets off to a fast start today with President Barack Obama and his allies bringing up the Wall Street reform bill for a procedural vote in the Senate this afternoon. California politics will, as usual, be a bit slower, though super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is closing the gap in the GOP primary for governor, has a new ad in his TV rotation attacking billionaire Meg Whitman. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is likely to get his lieutenant governor, at last.
As fate would have it, Poizner’s attack ad on Whitman takes after his ex-ally, Schwarzenegger.
First to presidential politics.
In contrast to health care, which rolled out with the speed of dripping molasses, as is the legislative way, Wall Street reform is a fast break process.
In the Obama view, Republicans can embrace it, or reap the consequences. Indeed, in the past week we’ve seen a big change in the Republican stance, from opposing the Wall Street reform bill on the spurious basis that it is about bailing out big banks to getting into the weeds of the bill’s specifics.
While the president may at last be making his long promised pivot to the economy — something which should have occurred last year — he has other big things on his plate. And none is bigger than the governance of Iraq.
Seven weeks after the national elections in Iraq, its new government remains distinctly unsettled, the result of endless wrangling between Sunni and Shiite factions. This is on the verge of interfering with the American timeline for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq.
In California politics, Schwarzenegger is on the verge of getting his pick for lieutenant governor, moderate GOP state Senator Abel Maldonado (first revealed on NWN), confirmed at last. Following last week’s victory in the state Assembly, the vote could come today in the friendlier confines of the state Senate.
In the race to succeed Schwarzenegger, Democrat Jerry Brown had an excellent week without spending a dime, scoring big on a challenge to both Republicans for pre-primary debates, as well as action against a Wall Street rating service which certified toxic assets and a big round-up of gang leaders in the Salinas Valley. The latter event drew Schwarzenegger to applaud the actions of Brown’s strike force.
As all this took place, the GOP frontrunner, Meg Whitman, trying to hold on to her lead against a closing Steve Poizner, had events around the state featuring conservative luminaries such as Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, her business entor, 2008 Repblican presidential nominee John McCain, and ex-Secretary of State George Shultz (who swiftly became ex-Congressman Tom Campbell’s campaign chairman when Campbell acceded to Whitman’s urging to leave the governor’s race in favor of a third try for the Senate).
In the process, the billionaire acquired what fatally dogged Schwarzenegger in his disastrous 2005 special election — horribly managed by Whitman chief strategist Mike Murphy — a mocking entourage from labor, notably the California Nurses Association.
As I revealed in my Huffington Post piece last Wednesday, labor decided to go after Whitman’s events. What I did not mention was that the leading edge wold be the nurses union staging protests against “Queen Meg,” replete with someone playing the billionaire, in costume, accompanied by “Lord Romney,” “Archbishop McCain,” and other ropey hangers-on in the Whitman court, all arriving in a Rolls Royce.
In case one wondered who still drives a Rolls.
Poizner, for his part, has a tough new ad linking the billionaire wannabee to Schwarzenegger, airing in rotation with his ongoing ad championing him as the across-the-board tax cutter in the race, as distinguished from Whitman’s plan for big tax cuts only for wealthy investors — her elimination of the capital gains tax would tear a massive hole in the state’s already reeling budget — and corporations.
This race, as I first revealed a week-and-a-half ago, is closing.
This week will likely also see big action in the California Senate race, where it is time for ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to start gunning down erstwhile GOP primary frontrunner Campbell with all the negative information she has on him.
We will also see what initiatives are qualifying for the November ballot. Will there be an anti-labor paycheck protection initiative? We already know the answer is no.
Will there be an initiative to repeal 2008′s redistricting reform initiative, which took redistricting away from the Legislature? Probably, but only as part of an effort to block a similar move on congressional redistricting. (Its prospects don’t look good.)
Will there be an oil industry-backed initiative to repeal the landmark AB 32 climate change program backed by Schwarzenegger and Brown? Probably. That move doesn’t poll well, and looks like a backfire for Whitman and Poizner, who both back repeal of the bill.
** 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 met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama welcomes World Series Champion New York Yankees to the White House.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates in the Oval Office.
At 3 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship at the Ronald Reagan Building.
Prospects are looking up for Obama’s Wall Street reform legislation following his address on Thursday at the Cooper Union in New York City. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a procedural vote for late today.
In other action …
In Iraq, the government following national elections seven 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’s Shiite-based party. But no one has been able to form a government and the shape of a national coalition government remains elusive.
In Iran, after a show of force the weekend before last, and after saying it has a new compromise on the nuclear enrichment issue, Iran staged another show of force, this time in the the very strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil supply passes.
The exercise at the end of last week 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.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses the need for education reform in California.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
At 9 AM, Schwarzenegger will join The Trust For Public Land to make an announcement regarding the Cahuenga Peak campaign.
At 4 PM, Schwarzenegger will participate in the 2010 Milken Institute Global Conference Panel Discussion entitled State of the States: U.S. Governors on Navigating the New Budget Realities with Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. The panel discussion will be moderated by Milken Institute Chair Michael Milken.
… THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. … From my March 2nd column.
Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate in fall 2008, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation. You can listen to my video webchat last spring with Schwarzenegger here.
** 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. … From my April 21st essay.
** 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.
** 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 per barrel.
This is up about $51 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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