President Barack Obama said today that the federal government is taking aggressive steps to deal with the Gulf oil disaster, noting that BP will ultimately have to pay for all containment and clean-up efforts.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama has declared a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling pending a full investigation of the Gulf oil disaster, shaping up as one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, and of present offshore drilling practices. … The oil company-led group seeking to repeal California’s landmark climate program announced that it will on Monday file enough signatures to qualify its initiative for the November ballot. .. In an amusing aside in that nasty California Republican gubernatorial primary, Steve Poizner’s campaign responded to the Meg Whitman threat to reveal “tape” of his moderate stance in 2004 (see item below) by releasing video footage of Whitman at a Democratic Leadership Council event with then President Bill Clinton and then Governor Gray Davis. At the site of their Sunday debate, the Tech Museum in Silicon Valley. The Poizner thesis is that she’s really a closet liberal. My thesis is she has no politics, other than what’s good for wealthy investors and corporations.
** CALIFORNIA 2010: WHITMAN DEMANDS RELEASE OF THE MURPHY, ER, POIZNER TAPES, AND THAT EXCITING RACE FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. With her big edge in the pulls shrinking and Steve Poizner hammering her with a tough new TV ad on her deep ties to Goldman Sachs (see the early morning item below on that), billionaire Meg Whitman’s campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination issued a distinctly un-commanding frontrunner-like challenge late this morning: Release the hounds! Er, make that tapes.
The Whitman juggernaut, prepping for a Sunday debate with Poizner, is demanding that Poizner release “tapes” of his debates when he ran for a San Francisco Bay Area state Assembly seat in 2004. And if he doesn’t, they will. On this very web site, rollstevetape.com, which comes complete with a countdown to Monday. But no 24-like ticking clock sound effect.
What will these tapes reveal? Why, what I told readers months ago, that Poizner was a moderate Republican running in a Democratic district.
Which Whitman chief strategist Mike Murphy, the mastermind behind this latest attempt to blunt Whitman’s big Goldman Sachs problem, knows very well. Because Murphy, then chief political strategist for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the mastermind in selecting Poizner as one of a dozen Republican Assembly candidates for the action superstar to back heavily in 2004, running in Democratic districts that Schwarzenegger nonetheless carried when he won his landslide election in the 2003 recall.
It was, as I said at the time, a bad idea. Schwarzenegger’s candidates predictably all went down to defeat. Why? Because Schwarzenegger wasn’t running. But it was a good way to get Schwarzenegger to raise and spend a ton of money in the process.
And what are these heinous Poizner positions that, mind you, Whitman’s chief strategist Murphy encouraged him to take? Why, being pro-choice on abortion. (Which Whitman says she is, too.) And supporting the environment (another supposed Whitman stance), stem cell research (a Silicon Valley staple), open primaries (he’s against them now, as is Whitman), and redistricting reform. (Does Whitman want the Legislature to go back to drawing the districts? Really?)
Clearly that makes him a dangerous Democrat. Seriously, folks, we’ve been through this. Poizner was a moderate Republican who moved further to the right as he began to run for governor. Whitman was, well, you don’t really know, because she didn’t really participate until she decided — at Mitt Romney’s behest — that it would be just swell to be the governor. So she’s a cipher. But she did support Senator Barbara Boxer, she did give money to environmental groups, and she did attend a big event for Al Gore. Even if she didn’t, you know, vote, or bother to do so much as write an op-ed piece about the many woes of California which she now says she wants so very much to correct.
Meanwhile, in another fun frolic of politics, the race for lieutenant governor is well underway. To the extent that it gets underway during the primaries.
New Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, Schwarzenegger’s handpicked and hard fought-for appointee, was in New York City yesterday to appear on Comedy Central with Stephen Colbert for The Colbert Report. There the ebullient pol pushed his open primary initiative on the June California ballot. Winning in the process the endorsement of the usually rather astringent Colbert, once he was satisfied that it would not cut into advertising for his show, that is.
Maldonado has to get past right-wing state Senator Sam Aanestad in the Republican primary. But assuming he does, he will be a very strong candidate in the general election.
Where he will face … Oh, I’m just guessing here … one Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco. Newsom has to fight off a spirited challenge by LA City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. But Newsom won the endorsement this week of Hahn’s small hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times. And Hahn has enough money, as the saying goes, to pay her high-priced consultants.
I bet Newsom knows what that’s like.
** NEW POLL IS CAUTIONARY TALE FOR IMMIGRATION ADVOCATES. Amidst all the furor over Arizona’s draconian new state law against illegal immigrants, there is something very interesting revealed in a new Gallup Poll. The law seems, at first blush, to be favored by a majority.
This new national poll shows 51% in favor, with 39% opposed.
Illegal immigration is a very tricky issue, despite what many in the mainstream and on the left prefer to think. The fact is that there will never be a national consensus in favor of an open border. Too many people want to come here. Less so when times are tough, but when times are tough, many folks who are here worry even more about those here illegally, who may be taking jobs and costing money in the form of taxpayer services.
This is why I always believed that illegal immigration would be a strong issue for Steve Poizner in his uphill race against billionaire Meg Whitman in the Republican primary for governor of California. She was trying to have it both ways, attempting to appeal to Latinos — despite not hiring Latino executives at eBay — with her support for comprehensive immigration reform, aka the old McCain/Kennedy bill. But also attempting to speak in code to base Republican voters with her anti-welfare radio ad last December. What she neglected to mention was the fact that the welfare caseload has a great many illegal immigrant children, So if she was at all serious about cutting welfare spending, she had to be for a crackdown on illegal immigration. Hence the contradiction which Poizner has been exploiting in his campaign, which has also had the effect of driving her to the right on the issue and blocking her breakthrough with Latino voters, should she make it to the general election against Jerry Brown.
Yet I digress.
Here’s what we learn from the new Gallup Poll.
More than three-quarters of Americans have heard about the state of Arizona’s new immigration law, and of these, 51% say they favor it and 39% oppose it. …
These results are based on a new Gallup poll conducted April 27-28, in the days after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s signing the bill into law. The law makes it a state crime for illegal immigrants to be in the country, and allows Arizona law enforcement officials to detain those suspected of being in the country illegally unless they can prove otherwise. The law has sparked protests in Arizona and other parts of the U.S., and calls for economic boycotts of the state.
Nationally, 62% of Republicans support the law (including 75% of Republicans who have heard about it). Democrats are more likely to oppose (45%) than favor (27%) the law, and a majority of Democrats familiar with the law (56%) oppose it. Independents are somewhat more likely to favor (37%) than oppose (29%) the law, with half of those who have heard about it in favor.
Regardless of their level of self-reported familiarity with the Arizona law, Americans are generally more supportive of than opposed to it. Note that the poll did not attempt to measure actual knowledge about the law or describe the various provisions of the law to respondents. …
Most Americans have heard about Arizona’s tough new immigration law, and they generally support it. The law was passed partly in response to a lack of federal action on the issue. Since the Arizona bill became law, congressional Democrats have considered taking up the issue in the coming weeks, though this initial read on public opinion toward the Arizona law suggests Americans may not necessarily back an attempt to supersede or otherwise undermine it.
This web video attacking billionaire Meg Whitman, current frontrunner for the Republican nomination for governor of California, for her longstanding role with Goldman Sachs is merely the appetizer for a new 30-second TV attack ad broadcast around the state.
** BILLIONAIRE MEG WHITMAN’S GOLDMAN SACHS PROBLEM HAMMERED HOME IN NEW TV AD. NWN has learned that super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is today launching a new TV attack ad against his still frontrunning rival for the California Republican gubernatorial nomination, Meg Whitman, which hammers her for her deep longstanding and still existing ties to the controversial Goldman Sachs investment banking firm. Whitman was a member of the board of Goldman Sachs, but left suddenly under harsh criticism from federal regulators over her role there, including her very lucrative inside stock trades.
Poizner, as reported here first two weeks ago, has closed the gap substantially against Whitman, though he still trails by double digits.
This new TV ad will run in rotation statewide with a TV ad launched only a few days ago featuring the California conservative icon, Congressman Tom McClintock, in which the face of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger morphs into that of Meg Whitman. McClintock validates Poizner as the conservative standardbearer in the gubernatorial primary and rips Whitman for backing Wall Street bailouts and “environmental extremism.”
In the Goldman Sachs ad, male and female announcers say that while most Californians suffered during the financial crisis (with a Grapes of Wrath-like foreclosed homeowner onscreen), it was “easy money” for Whitman (shown in the famous Fortune magazine cover shot in riding togs with rented horse). The ad charges that Whitman invested in “vulture funds” profiting from California foreclosures.
Citing news reports, the ad declares that Whitman’s entire fortune is today intertwined with Goldman Sachs and that she helped manage the bank, receiving stock deals “so unethical they were outlawed.”
Whitman, the ad notes, “campaigned for the Goldman bailout” as Whitman is shown onscreen declaring it “the right thing to do.” Which was “no surprise” as the bank’s executives contributed heavily to Whitman.
The hard-hitting 30-second spot closes with this tag: “Meg Whitman. Bad judgment. Wrong values.”
I got word of the ad late Wednesday and then watched it via a private media service independent of any gubernatorial campaign.
As I’ve said before, the Goldman Sachs issue is never going away for Whitman, try though her handlers might to say that she “missed the signposts” or equate her involvement with the far more tangential links to Poizner and Jerry Brown.
An oil slick that threatens to become America’s worst environmental disaster in decades has started to wash up along the Gulf Coast.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland today.
Obama received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 7:35 AM Pacific, Obama makes a statement on the first quarter 2010 Gross Domestic Product numbers.
The GDP grew by 3.2%, indicating a steady if relatively modest economic recovery is underway.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Beltsville, Maryland.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Beltsville, Maryland and visits the James J. Rowley Training Center for the U.S. Secret Service.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama departs Beltsville, Maryland on Marine One.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
In other action, Vice President Joe Biden is in Colorado today.
He delivers remarks on the Recovery Act at UQM Technologies, a green tech company.
Biden then headlines a fundraiser for Congresswoman Betsy Markey in Denver.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
A new Pentagon report on the situation in Afghanistan says that few strategically significant Afghan districts support the government of President Hamid Karzai. It also casts serious doubt on the administration’s will to fight the nation’s rampant corruption. The government is seen as still unable to provide basic services to the people.
In Iraq, where the withdrawal of American combat troops is only a few months away, the government following national elections over 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.
Yesterday a recount was ordered in Baghdad province. This will take at least another two to three weeks. The move appears designed as yet another attempt to knock out the narrow lead won by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s secular Sunni party in the national vote, which under Iraq’s constitution entitles it to take the lead role in forming a government.
Meanwhile, the elections in Britain, America’s biggest ally, head into the stretch run for the May 6th contest.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s chances may have gone down the tubes after he was recorded Wednesday making a disparaging remark about a voter he’d just spoken with doing his “man of the people” bit, which he actually loathes.
Brown’s Labour Party had been in a tight race with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Last night the leaders of the three parties held their third and final debate on the BBC. And according to snap polls, Gordon Brown finished third best, behind Conservative David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg.
His best hope now appears to be for a hung parliament and a coalition government with Clegg.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on The Tonight Show last night.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
At 10 AM, Schwarzenegger Joins Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to announce that a global renewable energy product company is establishing its North American Headquarters there.
The announcement will take place outside Los Angeles City Hall.
Schwarzenegger appeared on The Tonight Show, the venue on which he declared his “surprise” 2003 gubernatorial candidacy, last night. He decried the new law in Arizona targeting anyone to be forced to prove their citizenship at any time, said that of course he would like to run for president were it allowed under the Constitution, and criticized federal inaction on immigration law and the status of illegal immigrants working in this country. He thinks Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
… 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. You can listen to my video webchat last spring with Schwarzenegger here.
** IS OBAMA FINALLY PIVOTING TO THE ECONOMY? I started hearing it last December. President Barack Obama was at last about to pivot to a principal focus on the issue that people care about the most, the economy. It would be right after the holidays.
But after Christmas morning dawned, it was anything but that.
There was the barely thwarted Christmas Day airline bomber. Terrorism was suddenly back in the forefront of public concern. Just as that settled down, Scott Brown won the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, throwing the national health care bill into total disarray. Which lasted for some time, before it became the total focus again, in part at the insistence of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who got the Senate’s version through the House. When that finally passed, the pivot to the economy was to take place once again, but it never quite happened.
In fact, it’s just one thing after another, with geopolitics playing a big part, as it should. Yet Obama is dealing with a media culture geared to simplistic takes on simple issues, and a public that is understandably most concerned about the ever so slowly recovering economy.
Now Obama has spent most of the week focusing on economic recovery and Wall Street reform, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid breaking the Republican filibuster against the latter and with Obama spending two days appearing in key heartland swing states. But Obama may be distracted again, this time by the massive offshore oil drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which comes only weeks after he reversed his campaign position and championed more offshore drilling. … From my April 29th column.
** PUNDITS, BLOGGERS, ACTIVIST LEADERS THINKING OF RUNNING FOR HIGH OFFICE? THINK AGAIN. I was in a rush on a very busy Saturday morning. I knew there had to be a press room at the LA Convention Center for the California Democratic convention. There had to be. I just hadn’t bothered to find out where it was. Fortunately, I saw a very familiar face.
“Hey, Mickey,” I said. “Where’s the press room?” It was Mickey Kaus, the very prominent Slate blogger and former New Republic columnist. Then I noticed that he was holding not a notebook but a stack of flyers, which he was trying to hand out to mostly uninterested people as they entered the convention.
That’s right, I remembered. Mickey is running for the U.S. Senate. …
** CALIFORNIA STORY: BROWN, BOXER, AND (UN)CONVENTION(AL) POLITICS. … 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.
** 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.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with his usual unsmiling flair, played the eco-warrior in the Arctic on Thursday, tagging an endangered polar bear. Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has been very aggressive in pursuing its claims in the Arctic, a region which climate change is likely to unveil as a major storehouse of fossil fuel energy.
** 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 $85 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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