President Barack Obama exhibited a take charge attitude today in day one of his fourth visit to the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform exploded on April 20th.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ARNOLD FACTOR.
** QUICK HITS. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, special envoy of the Mideast Quartet powers, has convinced Israel to ease its Gaza blockade. Israel, he says, will allow in commercial goods and construction materials under European Union oversight, … A few months before she left eBay, billionaire Meg Whitman paid $200,000 to settle a claim that she physically shoved an employee, according to the New York Times. The physically imposing ex-CEO reportedly became angry with PR woman Young Mi Kim while attempting to prepare for a press interview, which, as we’ve seen, is not exactly Whitman’s thing. The matter was resolved through supervised mediation.
** PRO-JERRY BROWN GROUP BEGINS STATEWIDE RADIO CAMPAIGN. Working Californians, an independent expenditure committee of several years standing working in alliance with the new California Working Families IE — which as discussed today launched a TV ad campaign against billionaire Republican Meg Whitman — announced this afternoon that it is today launching a statewide radio advertising campaign on behalf of Jerry Brown.
The group says this is a 60-second positive ad which will run in markets around the state for the next four weeks.
“Our research show us that voters are eager to hear more about Jerry Brown and why he is the best choice for governor of our state, “ said Marvin Kropke, Business Manager of IBEW Local 11 and co-chair of Working Californians. “We believe that these radio ads make the case that Jerry Brown is the only candidate with the experience and the values to succeed in this critical time.” …
“From our perspective,” said Brian D’Arcy, IBEW Local 18 Business Manager and Working Californians co-chair, “Jerry Brown is the best candidate for Governor. He has a 40-year record of fighting for the average Californian on crime, on consumer protection issues, the environment, and worker’s rights.”
Jerry Brown’s experience is also a key factor in the Governor’s race according to Courtni Pugh, Service Employees International Union. “Jerry Brown has devoted his life to public service and has a proven record of leading successful turnarounds in the face of great challenges,“ said Pugh. “He knows what it takes to get a budget through the legislature and he has a commitment to straight talk and common sense.”
Working Californians played a significant role in helping elect California state John Chiang in 2006 when he ran against a better-financed Republican opponent.
** NEW NATIONAL POLL: NEARLY HALF SAY DEMOCRATS ARE “TOO LIBERAL.” Amidst a plethora of data indicating a slowly improving political situation for Democrats — following a sharp slump during the fractious and frequently wildly inaccurate debate on the national health care bill — comes a new Gallup Poll which has a near record number saying that the Democratic Party is “too liberal.”
This number is at the highest level since 1994, which was a very good Republican year.
In the past two years, Americans have become increasingly likely to describe the Democratic Party’s views as “too liberal” (49%), and less likely to say its views are “about right” (38%). Americans’ views of the Republican Party, on the other hand, have moderated slightly, with a dip in the percentage saying the GOP is too conservative from 43% last year to 40% today, and an increase in the percentage saying it is about right, from 34% to 41%.
The recent increase in perceptions of the Democratic Party as too liberal could be a response to the expansion in government spending since President Barack Obama took office, most notably regarding the economic stimulus and healthcare legislation.
The 49% of Americans who now believe the Democratic Party’s views are too liberal is one percentage point below the 50% Gallup measured after the 1994 elections, the all-time high in the trend question first asked in 1992.
Since February 2008, the percentage calling the Democratic Party “too liberal” has increased by 12 points among independents and 8 points among Republicans, with little change among Democrats.
While significantly more Americans now view the Democratic Party as “too liberal” than “about right,” the net result of the changes in Americans’ perceptions of the Republican Party is that now about as many Americans say the GOP is “about right” as say it is “too conservative.” Even so, the percentage saying the Republican Party is too conservative remains near the upper range of what Gallup has measured since 1992.
With this becoming BP Gulf oil disaster week for President Barack Obama, it emerges that the embattled corporation has burned off four million gallons of oil floating in the water, preventing it from reaching shore. On the other hand, it is reaching the air.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A very big week for President Barack Obama, as he reaches what may be an inflection point in the BP Gulf oil disaster. And an interesting week in California politics, with the general election campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate engaged.
Obama is returning to the Gulf Coast for a two-day visit. This is his fourth visit to the region since the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform exploded on April 20th, killing 11 men. He is going to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
With Coast Admiral Thad Allen saying that BP is not providing accurate figures on the oil spill and damage mounting, the federal government is growing more insistent that BP pay for all damages in a timely manner. And it has given BP until today to come up with a plan to accelerate its capture of leaking oil.
When he returns from the Gulf, Obama will deliver a prime time address to the nation Tuesday night from the White House on the crisis. He is expected to announce that BP will be required to pay into a federally-administered escrow account to repair damages caused by its oil leak.
Obama is summoning BP corporate leadership to the White House on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he will meet at the White House with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Iranian leaders are howling about its longtime Russian patrons turning against them on their rogue nuclear program.
Obama is also monitoring the situation in Afghanistan, where on Thursday General Stanley McChrystal acknowledged that the planned offensive in the historic Taliban stronghold of Kandahar Province is behind schedule.
With the offensive telegraphed for months in advance, the Taliban have been busily assassinating civilian leaders expected to align with the central government in Kabul. These are people whose assistance is essential if any military successes in the area are to be lasting. And it’s turning out that civilian population there is not all that disgruntled with the Taliban.
McChrystal says that he’ll still show major progress by the end of the year. Of course, he seems to operate under the mistaken impression that he has a lot of time.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and General Stanley McChrystal were in Kandahar Sunday to discuss the coming offensive there. Which was supposed to have already started.
Karzai, who is expressing doubt that the Taliban can be defeated, said the offensive will be carried out by US, NATO, and Afghan ground forces, without the involvement of air power. He also, once again, called for Taliban members to join a peace process.
Remarkable reports are emerging of vast mineral deposits in Afghanistan. The landlocked mountainous pseudo-nation, which has no serious tradition of mining, may be one of the world’s leading repositories of not only iron and copper but also minerals critical in high tech manufacturing such as lithium, used extensively in laptop and mobile phone batteries.
Let the conspiracy theories begin.
In the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, the Arab world’s highest-ranking diplomat, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa on Sunday crossed the Egyptian border into Gaza, where he met with the leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian leaders, as well as families of those killed during Israel’s military incursion into Gaza during the final days of the Bush/Cheney Administration. The Arab League is insisting that Israel’s blockade of Gaza must end.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Korea, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. The governance situation in Iraq remains unresolved since the March 7th national parliamentary elections.
In California politics, general election contest are underway, but are likely to cool off some after last week’s exchange of post-primary attacks in the races for governor and U.S. Senate.
Billionaire Meg Whitman went up with yet another new TV ad over the weekend, which I discuss in the feature linked below. It’s a positive spot in which she tries to recast her corporate conservative agenda as one motivated by concern for the unemployed, whose plight she somehow witnesses every day.
Democrat Jerry Brown, the longtime favorite, has well over $20 million in the bank, but can’t match Whitman’s already record-shattering spending. So the California Working Families independent expenditure committee is beginning to air a TV ad today showing Whitman’s halting attempts to explain her virtually non-existent record of voting.
A curious episode surrounding Brown’s purported likening of Whitman to Nazis, which emerged on a seldom updated blog blasted out by the Whitman campaign to the Drudge Report and the press, has died down as quickly as it flared up.
In the Senate race, incumbent Barbara Boxer joined First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, leading ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s campaign to charge that the Obama White House is still trying to save the veteran Democratic senator. Guilty as charged, no doubt.
Neither side is likely to be on the air soon.
Then there is the chronic California budget crisis. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he won’t sign a budget without new fiscal and pension reforms. But the pace is glacial, as always, with a legislative budget commitee still reviewing Schwarzenegger’s May revise and other budget idea.
The constitutional deadline for passage of the new budget, incidentally, is tomorrow. Which obviously will not happen.
Obama is calling for $50 billion in new stimulus spending to support state and local government budgets. While in Washington last week, Schwarzenegger lobbied against a move in Congress to cut $2 billion that the state had already counted on.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, DC, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida today.
He received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then traveled on Air Force One to Biloxi, Mississippi.
At 8 AM Pacific, Obama receives a briefing with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and local officials on efforts to fight the BP oil spill at Coast Guard Station Gulfport.
At 9:25 AM Pacific, Obama hosts a roundtable and meets with local residents in Gulfport, Mississippi
At 10:50 AM Pacific, Obama departs Biloxi, Mississippi on Air Force One en route to Theodore, Alabama.
At 11:50 AM Pacific, Obama arrives at Theodore, Alabama.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama tours the Theodore Staging Facility.
At 1:40 PM Pacific, Obama delivers a statement to the press at the Theodore Staging Facility.
At 2:25 PM Pacific, Obama travels from Dauphin Island, Alabama to Fort Morgan, Alabama.
At 3 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Fort Morgan, Alabama
At 5:25 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Pensacola, Florida.
FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
At 10 AM, he participates in the grand opening of California Veterans Home, West Los Angeles.
… 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.
** WHITMAN AND FIORINA’S BIG PRIMARY WINS CARRY SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION (SELF-DESTRUCTION) The big wins by billionaire Meg Whitman and ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in the California Republican primaries for governor and U.S. senator carry the seeds of destruction. Not the least of it being self-destruction. Both candidates have exhibited a great deal of hubris. Which is hardly warranted after a campaign that resulted in the lowest primary election turnout in California history.
Amidst all the errant talk about them being “outsiders” — sorry, folks, super-rich big-time corporate CEOs are obviously not outsiders — running against “insider” Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, two little words have been forgotten. Scott Brown.
The shock winner of Massachusetts’ Senate special election in January is the model for a Republican who can win in a mostly blue state. An accessible, seemingly regular person. Whitman and Fiorina couldn’t be less like Scott Brown if they tried, though Fiorina at least is accessible.
Not that she didn’t show her own brand of hubris right after smoking longtime frontrunner and press favorite Tom Campbell by a startling 35 points in a three-person primary race. She notoriously talked smack about Senator Barbara Boxer’s hair and dissed Whitman for choosing to go on far right icon Sean Hannity’s Fox gabfest as one of her first general election appearances.
But the latter move was only part of Whitman’s hubris. After her campaign had no initial response, she also rejected Brown’s call for 10 freewheeling town hall debates, on the spurious and illogical grounds that she has a plan and he does not.
She is also going to put a TV ad on the air in which she tries to soft soap her hard-edged corporate conservative agenda by expressing her concern for the plight of the unemployed. The “human cost,” she says, “I see every day.” … From my June 11th feature.
** OBAMA’S WHITE HOUSE FESTIVITIES: GOOD, BAD, OR OBVIOUS? In this wacky media environment in which everything is criticized somewhere, President Barack Obama gets no little amount of flak about the few White House entertainments he’s hosted, with a very tony state dinner last month and an evening with Paul McCartney last week. Now, it’s not as though Obama’s turned the place into a party palace. And the events hold important clues to what Obama considers a style of accessibility and elegance.
Nor is there not a clear historical precedent for continuing to hold such events. During the Great Depression and World War II — both of which put the contemporary great recession and far more limited wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in context if not entirely in the shade — President Franklin D. Roosevelt held state dinners. But there have been different expectations with this president, in part because of who he is and in part because of the unique popular mobilization which helped him win the White House. … From my June 8th column.
** ONE DISTRACTION OBAMA DOESN’T NEED: DARRELL ISSA’S HYPOCRISY. … From my June 3rd column.
** CALIFORNIA SENATE: HOW CARLY FIORINA PULLED OFF HER BIG “UPSET” IN THE GOP PRIMARY. … From my June 2nd column.
** MEG WHITMAN’S WHOPPERS. … From my May 29th column.
** TIME SLIPS AWAY FOR 24 AND LOST IN VERY DIFFERENT FINALES. … From my May 27th essay.
** THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: BILLIONAIRE MEG WHITMAN BATTLES BACK IN THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S RACE. … From my May 22nd column.
** AFTER THE AFGHAN SUMMIT: FIVE KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OBAMA’S PROBLEMATIC PLANS. … 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.
** 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.
Jimmy Dean, who played the Howard Hughes-like “Willard Whyte” in 1971′s Las Vegas-centric Diamonds Are Forever, died last night in Richmond, Virginia. The country singer, perhaps best known for his sausage company, provided a sharp comedic presence in the last of the official Sean Connery Bond films. This house is actually in Palm Springs.
** 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 $75 per barrel.
This is up about $41 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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