President Barack Obama toured the Port Fourchon beach in Louisiana Friday, where tar balls from the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have littered the sand. Obama, who will be in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, is not out of the woods on this issue. BP again halted its “top kill” attempt to stop the underwater spill last night. It supposedly restarted the effort this afternoon.
** CALIFORNIA 2010: SAY WHAT?! Billionaire Meg Whitman has expanded that double-digit lead I first reported a week ago that she had over Steve Poizner in their hard-fought battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. But my forecast about her spending in trying to hold on to a primary she and her people said they’d had in the bag for months is looking off.
I said she would spend $85 million. But it turns out that she had already spent well over $80 million as of May 19th. Now, with a heavy burst of TV advertising and mailers being sent all over the state, it looks like she will spend around $90 million in the Republican primary.
Since she had vowed to spend $150 million total for the primary and the general election — assuming she made it to the general election — it is very safe to say that she is way off her plan with $90 million in spending to try to secure a primary victory.
Does all this spending and advertising backfire at a certain point? Absolutely.
Not that she is out of the woods in the primary, mind you. Poizner is going to spend more of his money. And to the extent that he unmuddies the waters on illegal immigration (Whitman has distorted both her position and Poizner’s), making it clear that he supports the Arizona law and she does not, counters the effective advertising casting him as a “closet liberal,” and throws in a surprise here and there, the primary is still in play.
And there is always, let’s say, the Whitman mistake factor. We saw it again today, when she falsely claimed in an interview with Politico that she doesn’t have a border fence in her advertising. She does. In fact, it’s in a TV ad that I am told she demanded and helped write herself. That’s the curious 60-second spot in which she speaks defensively to camera about how tough politics is.
It’s also in her voluminous mailers featuring Prop 187 champion Pete Wilson, the former governor who chairs her campaign.
Whitman made the claim twice in the interview, and had to be corrected by the designated flak catcher of the campaign, press secretary Sarah Pompei.
Whitman also falsely claimed that Poizner hadn’t been to the border till four weeks ago.
Incidentally, Whitman also falsely claimed today that she has always been against offshore oil drilling. I’ve written about this several times before. Whitman actually supported offshore oil drilling until she put out her ballyhooed policy booklet just two months ago.
But this lack of veracity should be no surprise with regard to this former Goldman Sachs board member who had to resign in the wake of her inside trading. Whitman, who has flip-flopped on the issues repeatedly in this campaign, and couldn’t say how often she’d even bothered to vote, lied in her very first TV ad about how long she’s lived in California.
She said she’d lived here for 30 years. (Something which she had also been saying in her stump speeches.) But as I revealed, when she became national co-chair of the Republican presidential campaign in 2008, she said she’d lived in California for less than 20 years.
Exactly how long has Whitman lived in the state whose governorship she is trying to purchase? She won’t say.
** TIME SLIPS AWAY FOR 24 AND LOST IN VERY DIFFERENT FINALES. I don’t like when somebody comes up to me the next day and says, “Hey, man, I saw your play. It touched me; I cried.” I like it when a guy comes up to me a week later and says, “Hey, man, I saw your play … what happened?”
– off-off-off-off Broadway playwright Jeff Slater (played by Bill Murray) in Tootsie
Two of the most important and popular television series of the past decade had their series finales this week. One, Lost, opted for a relentless, rather gooey positive ending, stepping literally in the last into the light. The other, 24, ended in a far darker, essentially shattering place. Spoilers await. …
As Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted, on Thursday night the House of Representatives passed legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the U.S. Armed Forces. The vote was 234 to 194.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Illinois and Louisiana today.
Obama departed Chicago, Illinois on Air Force One en route to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Obama will receive his daily intelligence and economic briefings on Air Force One.
At 8:10 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans.
At 10:10 AM Pacific, Obama attends a briefing by Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen on the Gulf oil crisis at U.S. Coast Guard Station Grand Isle in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama delivers a statement on the Gulf oil crisis to the press at U.S. Coast Guard Station Grand Isle in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
At 11:25 AM Pacific, Obama departs New Orleans on Air Force One en route to Chicago.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Chicago.
He then proceeds to his private home in Chicago, where he will join First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia for the Memorial Day weekend.
This is Obama’s first extended return to Chicago since his inauguration as president.
In other action, Vice President Joe Biden delivers the commencement address at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland at 7 AM Pacific.
Biden will be in the Washington area for the Memorial Day weekend.
Obama’s press conference yesterday on the Gulf oil disaster went all right for the president, but did not dispel the potential political crisis for him. Obama fired the head of the Minerals Management Service and suspended oil drilling in the Arctic, as well as new oil drilling.
But these moves are overlaid by the realization that BP was very wrong in its earlier estimates and that this disaster has already surpassed that of the infamous Exxon Valdez as the biggest oil spill in American history.
Serious damage has been done and will continue to be done, even if the oil spill itself is finally stopped.
And there, too, BP has again given bad information. The “Top Kill” technique of injecting a muddy substance into the ruptured well to stanch the flow of oil was actually suspended many hours before BP announced its suspension on Thursday. This knowledge came after BP announced that it was working. But in reality, it wasn’t working very well.
BP and Coast Guard officials, who are too reliant on BP for this incredibly complex operation, said this morning that the procedure is again underway and again said that it is working.
We’ll see. If it were a surefire procedure, it would not have been so far down on the list of things to try.
Of course, it should be no surprise that this spill is proving to be so hard to stop. In our zeal for oil, we are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, and drilling a mile deeper than that for the oil itself. It is an incredibly complex and risky procedure.
The heaviest hurricane season since 2005, which saw Hurricana Katrina devastate New Orleans, is forecast for this year.
Adding to the many woes of the Gulf Coast region is a new report by weather forecasters that this year’s hurricane season is likely to be one of the biggest and most intense in history.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
The governance situation in Iraq remains unresolved since the March 7th national parliamentary elections.
FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
He has no scheduled public events.
… 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. … 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.
** 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 $74 per barrel.
This is up about $40 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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