The Gulf oil disaster: From bad to worse? The oil still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the April 20th offshore oil drilling disaster is getting darker in color. Engineering experts say that it is a heavier, more polluting oil. President Obama will visit the Gulf again on Friday.
** NEW ESSAY COMING UP … LOST AND 24: TIME SLIPS AWAY FOR TWO MILESTONE SHOWS.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama is sending 1200 National Guard troops to the border with Mexico, as well as requesting another $500 million for border security. His defeated 2008 opponent, John McCain, who was far more liberal on the issue before acquiring a far right primary challenger, says it’s not enough. … A day after state Senate Democrats, California Assembly Speaker John Perez rolled out his response to the state’s chronic budget crisis: An avoidance of further budget cut, an oil severance tax, rollback of new corporate tax breaks, and a complex scheme to further balance the budget and fund a multi-billion dollar jobs program by borrowing against consumer recycling deposits, and a majority vote tax scheme. … Former MoveOn.org executive director Peter Schurman, challenging Jerry Brown from the left in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, dropped out today with fulsome praise for the attorney general. … For his part, Brown today rejected San Francisco’s bid to drop out of a federal law enforcement program concerning illegal immigrants. Brown’s Department of Justice automatically sends the fingerprints of suspects arrested by local law enforcement agencies to federal immigration authorities. There is a lot more to this story, which I’ll get into another time. Suffice to say that I’ve been following the illegal immigration issue closely for some time now. Since around 1994.
** CALIFORNIA 2010: NEWT TO THE RESCUE! Trying to consolidate a regained lead in her Republican primary battle with Steve Poizner, billionaire Meg Whitman has rolled out another big-name national conservative endorser for her gubernatorial. Today it is ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a possible though not likely presidential contender best known for trying to shut down the federal government in a stand-off with then President Bill Clinton.
Gingrich wrote in today’s San Jose Mercury-News that Whitman is a true conservative, declaring: “Whitman has the conservative values, courage and vision to clean up the spending mess in Sacramento and rebuild the state’s economy.”
Gingrich likens Whitman’s campaign platform to his conservative Contract With America, which helped lead to a brief Republican takeover of the House of Representatives but ultimately led to disaster for the Republican Party.
“Sixteen years ago, I stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with hundreds of Republican candidates for Congress and signed the Contract with America.
“It took courage for our candidates to outline our agenda in black and white so voters could size up what we would actually do if they gave us their trust.
“It is always easier in politics to let the television ads do the talking, but Whitman has put forward the most detailed set of policies of any of the candidates running for governor in California. Her ideas are bold. They are conservative, and they will succeed in bringing California back.”
Gingrich has now joined ex-Vice President Dick Cheney and the intellectual author of Whitman’s candidacy, her business mentor Mitt Romney in the national right-wing rescue squad for Whitman’s primary campaign.
Was this really part of the plan? In California? True, Whitman chief strategist Mike Murphy once called the strategy shots for Oliver North and Jeb Bush, but he worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger, too. Of course, he masterminded the 2005 special election debacle.
Or was Whitman, who will end up spending an astounding $85 million, at least, trying to hold on to a primary that she thought she had in the bag months ago, really planning to spend only $50 million and avoid the taint of these ideological associations?
A rhetorical question, certainly, and one that answers itself.
** NEW POLL: ACCEPTANCE FOR GAY AND LESBIAN RELATIONSHIPS CROSSES THE 50% THRESHOLD NATIONALLY. While opposition to same sex marriage remains above 50% in the latest Gallup survey, another new Gallup Poll shows that national acceptance for gay and lesbian relationships has crossed the milestone majority level.
This has occurred as the Obama Administration moves forward with legislation to change the military’s “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the military.
It also happens as the California governor’s race accelerates.
Democrat Jerry Brown, who readers know I have rated as the favorite for the past few years, supports same sex marriage. The two Republican battling to succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also now supports same sex marriage — billionaire Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner — oppose same sex marriage.
The California Supreme Court established the right to same sex marriage in 2008. But that right was removed with the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008. The ballot language established by Attorney General Brown properly framed the choice. However, a series of mistakes by gay marriage proponents, a few of them quite mind-boggling, opened the door for an electoral victory by gay marriage opponents.
I believe that the stage will be set for the restoration of same sex marriage rights in California in 2012.
Here’s what Gallup found on the national level.
Americans’ support for the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations crossed the symbolic 50% threshold in 2010. At the same time, the percentage calling these relations “morally wrong” dropped to 43%, the lowest in Gallup’s decade-long trend.
Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, conducted each May, documents a gradual increase in public acceptance of gay relations since about 2006. However, the change is seen almost exclusively among men, and particularly men younger than 50.
Additionally, Gallup finds greater movement toward acceptance among independents and Democrats than among Republicans, and a big jump in acceptance among moderates. Liberals were already widely accepting of gay relations in 2006, and have remained that way, while conservatives’ acceptance continues to run low.
Notably, there has been a 16-point jump in acceptance among Catholics, nearly three times the increase seen among Protestants. Acceptance among Americans with no religious identity has expanded as well. …
Americans remain closely divided over the factors contributing to being gay. Currently, 37% say being gay is due to upbringing and environment while 36% say it is a trait one is born with.
The division on this question has been the norm for most of the past decade, although the plurality response has fluctuated. Longer term, however, there has been a major change in Americans’ views on this question, with far fewer today than in the 1970s and 1980s believing that being gay or lesbian is the result of upbringing and other life experiences.
There is a gradual cultural shift under way in Americans’ views toward gay individuals and gay rights. While public attitudes haven’t moved consistently in gays’ and lesbians’ favor every year, the general trend is clearly in that direction. This year, the shift is apparent in a record-high level of the public seeing gay and lesbian relations as morally acceptable. Meanwhile, support for legalizing gay marriage, and for the legality of gay and lesbian relations more generally, is near record highs.
South Korea has launched psychological warfare over the sinking of its Navy ship, while North Korea has said its troops are braced for war. The rising tension on the peninsula is worrying many.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and San Francisco today.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 8:15 AM Pacific, Obama hosts award-winning small business owners from around the country and delivers remarks on small business jobs proposals in the Rose Garden.
At 9:05 AM Pacific, Obama addresses the Senate Republican Caucus at the U.S. Capitol.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama meets with President Giorgio Napolitano of Italy in the Oval Office.
At 11:55 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to San Francisco.
At 5:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in San Francisco.
At 6 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the Fairmont Hotel.
At 6:30 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a high-dollar fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the Fairmont Hotel.
At 7:50 PM Pacific, Obama attends a reception for Senator Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the home of Gordon and Ann Getty.
Meanwhile, the three Republicans vying for the nomination to take on Boxer this fall — ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, ex-Congressman Tom Campbell, and far right Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore — debate this afternoon on LA’s far right “The Jon & Ken Show.”
In other action, Vice President Joe Biden is in Washington all day.
He meets with Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, holds a conference call with mayors from around the country to discuss implementation of the economic recovery act, meets with the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, then hosts Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.
Later Biden meets with Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman on several matters, including the proposed repeal of the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military, which the Obama Administration is pushing forward.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, joined by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for the last part, is wrapping her Asian trip in China. While her tour has been overshadowed by the revelation that it was in fact a North Korean torpedo that sank the South Korean Navy ship Cheonan on March 26th, she and Geithner have been able to focus in on economic concerns in high-level talks with Chinese leaders.
China will not adjust its currency to aid the U.S. in the big trade imbalance between the two nations. Which is hardly a surprise, as the Chinese economy has its own level of precariousness and the U.S. and China have a symbiotic relationship: They export to our market, we borrow their money.
Clinton and Geithner apparently made some progress on opening up the Chinese market to advanced technology products. And Geithner outlined the Obama Administration’s basic economic strategy to reassure that China will not have to fund massive deficits in perpetuity. The Obama plan is to keep stimulating the economy out of the deflationary spiral through recovery, then pursue more fiscally conservative policies.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles and Sacramento today.
He holds private talks in and around the Capitol.
As the slow-moving Capitol dance of the budget unfolded earlier this month, Schwarzenegger unveiled a draconian “May Revise” of his proposed budget, focusing on big cuts to welfare and health programs and fiscal maneuvers.
State Senate Democrats under Senate leader Darrell Steinberg offered their counter-move yesterday in the form of a $5 billion tax hike program.
That includes rollback of $2 billion in new corporate tax breaks, which Schwarzenegger noted in January may have to be done, as well a billion dollar extension of income tax surcharges and $1.2 billion in increased vehicle license fees. The latest PPIC poll noted that only 28% favor an increase in the car tax.
Negotiating positions are becoming clearer.
… 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.
** THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: BILLIONAIRE MEG WHITMAN BATTLES BACK IN THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. After finally losing nearly all her lead last week in the Republican primary to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California, billionaire Meg Whitman is battling back against super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, whom she led a few months ago by a whopping 50 points. She has a lead again, but it’s only about a fifth what it was, and less than her campaign claims. With little more than two weeks to go till the primary, with over a third of the voters still undecided, she’s in a precarious position.
Before delving again into the particulars of this race, let’s pause a moment in wonderment at this spectacle before us. (And yes, this weekend is the 30th anniversary of the launch of a little movie called The Empire Strikes Back.)
Whitman is really showing us the possible future of oligarchic politics if she survives this far more difficult than expected primary and then manages to pull out a victory against Jerry Brown, who’s barely spent a dime so far, in the fall. It’s a possible future of unlimited spending and unlimited spin. Which is also, paradoxically, the problem with her candidacy. … From my May 22nd column.
** AFTER THE AFGHAN SUMMIT: FIVE KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OBAMA’S PROBLEMATIC PLANS. Now that the pomp and circumstance of last week’s Washington summit between the Obama Administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has faded, what is the state of things?
Not very good. Really, not very good at all.
With the much telegraphed U.S., NATO, and Afghan offensive in Kandahar Province — heartland of the Taliban since the movement’s mid-1990s inception in the midst of Afghanistan’s lengthy post-Soviet chaos — on tap for June, the Taliban aren’t exactly cowering in their caves waiting to lose. In fact, they say they’re launching their own offensive.
A sad milestone was reached on Tuesday. With a morning suicide attack against a U.S. military convoy in Kabul, the 1000th American has been killed in action in Afghanistan. … From my May 19th column.
** MEG WHITMAN’S WILD WEEK THAT WAS. Is billionaire Meg Whitman having fun yet? She’s certainly had a careening week in her once seeming juggernaut of a bid to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California.
In any car race, the worst moment is not when the trailing car pulls up in the rear view mirror, it’s when you can no longer see it in the rear view mirror. That’s because it’s alongside.
I’ve been reporting for weeks on her steep slide in private polling on her Republican primary race against super-rich state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who was once dismissed by nearly all as a hapless speed bump in the race. That culminated here on the Huffington Post in “Meg Whitman’s Titanic Campaign for Governor of California.”
After a lot of denial of the truth by her chief strategist Mike Murphy and others in the well-paid Whitman camp, this week they had to face facts. This week began with a stark bit of reality. … From my May 15th column.
** IRON MAN‘S POST-MODERN HOWARD HUGHES IS BACK AND CONFUSED. … From my May 13th essay.
** MEG WHITMAN’S TITANIC CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my May 7th column.
** “GOLDMEG SACHS WHITMAN” ROILS THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. … From my May 3rd column.
** IS OBAMA FINALLY PIVOTING TO THE ECONOMY? … From my April 29th column.
** PUNDITS, BLOGGERS, ACTIVIST LEADERS THINKING OF RUNNING FOR HIGH OFFICE? THINK AGAIN. … From my April 27th column.
** 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.
** 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.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center honored Michael Douglas with the Chaplin Award on Monday night in New York. Douglas, a co-founder of the LA Weekly, stars in the forthcoming Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
** 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 $68 per barrel.
This is up about $34 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
However, it is down one-fifth from just three weeks ago.
World stock markets dropped Tuesday as the euro continues to slide.
European economic activity is slowing again, there are still major worries about the Greek bail-out, and American inventory is increasing.
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