Early assessments were correct. This past Thanksgiving shopping was the best such retail result in four years.
** QUICK HITS. Governor-elect Jerry Brown, who’s promised a “civic dialogue” on California’s chronic budget crisis, holds a big briefing next Wednesday morning at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium. He’s invited the entire state Legislature, and will also have the state legislative analyst and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget director on hand. As I’ve written many times, and as new polling shows, there is a serious disconnect between what the public wants and how it thinks it can get it. Brown will hold more such events, focusing on the scope of the issue absent smoke and mirrors. … U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein of California today called for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be charged with espionage for the latest info-dump of classified U.S. diplomatic cables now roiling international relations around the world. At least she’s not calling for his death, as Republican presidential co-frontrunners Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee seem to be doing. I’m not a legal expert here but I am familiar with the Pentagon Papers. Assange didn’t take the documents himself, unlike Ellsberg, he simply released them.
** NEW SURVEY: U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT FALLING. In good news for President Barack Obama, a new Gallup Poll survey indicates that U.S. unemployment has slipped below 9%.
It’s at 8.8%, a new low for 2010.
Underemployment also hit a new low for the year.
The Democrats certainly could have used some more news like this earlier in the fall.
Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, declined to 8.8% at the end of November — down from 9.2% in mid-November and 9.4% at the end of October, and a new low for the year. While the government’s unemployment report on Friday will include seasonal adjustments and is less timely than Gallup’s Daily monitoring, Gallup modeling suggests that it will also show a decline. …
The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work declined slightly to 8.4% of the workforce in November — also a new 2010 low. The smaller decline for this measure compared with the unemployment measure suggests that the jobs situation is improving primarily among the unemployed right now. …
The decline in the unemployment rate and the slight decline in the percentage of part-time workers wanting full-time work combine to bring underemployment down to 17.2%. This is a third consecutive new 2010 low, down from 17.7% in mid-November and 18% at the end of October. …
Gallup’s unemployment measure reflects what is actually taking place in the U.S. job market as more people are getting hired and fewer are being let go. However, it is not adjusted for seasonal trends, and companies hire more employees during the holiday season. For example, the new pop-up store phenomenon creates added employment for holidays like Halloween and Christmas. As a result, the decline in Gallup’s estimate of the unemployment rate is likely more pronounced than what the government will report on Friday. Further, Gallup’s Daily tracking is more up-to-date than the government’s measure, which is based on mid-month job market conditions.
As a result, and as noted previously, Gallup estimates that the government’s unemployment rate for November is likely to show a decline, into the 9.3% to 9.5% range. This is below the 9.6% current government unemployment rate as well as the consensus forecast of 9.7% for November. On the other hand, it appears to be consistent with Wednesday’s ADP report showing increased private-sector job growth in November.
If the decline in Gallup’s U.S. unemployment measure persists, it suggests that the government’s unemployment rate for December could show a further decline when reported in early January. In turn, prospects for an improving jobs situation suggest good things for the nation’s retailers — particularly late in the holiday sales season — and for the U.S. economy overall going forward.
** NEW CALIFORNIA POLL SHOWS DYNAMICS BEHIND THE JERRY BROWN LANDSLIDE AND IMPROVEMENT FOR SCHWARZENEGGER. The latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll, this time of voters in the California general election, shows that Governor-elect Jerry Brown won his landslide victory over billionaire Meg Whitman with very big support from independents, women, and Latino voters. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s job approval, while still low, has risen from the depths, back up into the 30s.
In defeating the biggest spending non-presidential campaign in American history by a whopping 54% to 41%, former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown won 56% of independents, 59% of women, and 75% of Latinos.
Voters aged 18-34 strongly backed Brown, with the two-time Democratic presidential runner-up garnering 65% of their votes. 52% of voters 35 and older backed Brown.
Men favored Brown over Whitman, 50% to 46%. White voters split, with 47% for Brown and 49% for Whitman.
The numbers in the U.S. Senate race were similar, with Senator Barbara Boxer easily beating ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, 52% to 42%. The big difference is that Boxer won “only” 62% of the Latino vote. And “only” 53% of the independent vote.
Both Brown and Boxer were heading to significant victories all along. The slight difference in the outcomes of the two races turned on the emergence of Whitman’s illegal immigrant housekeeper, Nicky Diaz, and the gross hypocrisy of Whitman’s flip-flopping stances on illegal immigration. This was set up by Whitman’s predictable responses to GOP primary rival Steve Poizner’s fierce emphasis on illegal immigration.
In the real time of the general election, as I reported at the time, Brown had a slight lead over Whitman going into the first debate at the end of September. Which happened to be the night before the revelation, at last, of Nicky Diaz. That turned into a sizable Brown lead shortly after, with Democrats and independents finding a predictable comfort level with Brown and rejecting Whitman.
Brown immediately moved to an 8-10 point lead in credible private polling, which he held from then on, despite a lot of hoorah.
In the final week of the campaign, Brown had a 10-point lead, which extended to 13 points in the final analysis as Whitman’s campaign flailed with a series of negative attacks.
The credibility of Whitman’s attacks was shattered, as I predicted at the time, by the ad featuring former President Bill Clinton in his 1992 campaign against Brown, repeating what turned out to be false charges.
A great many “experts” called this a brilliant ad. But it was actually a very stupid ad, for two reasons. One, Clinton was always going to endorse Brown. Two, it was a complete lie.
The PPIC poll also shows Schwarzenegger moving up to 32% in job approval. In July, he was down to 24% job approval.
This 32% approval rating is still low, but it’s back to what it was for Schwarzenegger in January. And it’s a lot better than Schwarzenegger’s partner in state government.
The state Legislature has a 12% approval rating. That hasn’t changed in recent months, at all.
In the wake of the latest info-dump of classified U.S. documents, now roiling international relations, the official backlash against Wikileaks continues to grow. Wikileaks says it has revelations on U.S. banking and big business on tap.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
They then met with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, whose support was very helpful in their 2008 election. Strickland was narrowly defeated for re-election last month by former Congressman John Kasich.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden have a lunch meeting in the Private Dining Room.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with newly elected governors at Blair House.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 3:35 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Hanukkah reception in the East Room.
Here are the expected attendees at the reception with the new governors:
Governor-elect Robert Bentley, AL
Governor-elect Dan Malloy, CT
Governor-elect Nathan Deal, GA
Governor-elect Rick Scott, FL
Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie, HI
Governor-elect Terry Branstad, IA
Governor-elect Sam Brownback, KS
Governor-elect Paul LePage, ME
Governor-elect Rick Snyder, MI
Governor-designate Jack Dalrymple, ND
Governor-elect Susana Martinez, NM
Governor-elect Brian Sandoval, NV
Governor-elect John Kasich, OH
Governor-elect Mary Fallin, OK
Governor-elect Tom Corbett, PA
Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee, RI
Governor-elect Nikki Haley, SC
Governor-elect Dennis Daugaard, SD
Governor-elect Bill Haslam, TN
Governor-elect Peter Shumlin, VT
Governor-elect Scott Walker, WI
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, WV
Governor-elect Matt Mead, WY
California Governor-elect Jerry Brown skipped the affair, focusing on transition and state budget activities.
New York Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo also declined to join the crowd.
First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families and the press to the White House yesterday to kick off the holiday season with a preview of the festive decorations, including 19 Christmas trees. (The official tree is in the Blue Room.) More than a hundred thousand people are expected to walk through the White House in the next few weeks.
Obama is monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Korean peninsula.
A fourth day of naval exercises in the Yellow Sea, featuring the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, passed yesterday without incident.
On Friday, the George Washington strike group joins major elements of the Japanese Navy for a week of exercises in the Sea of Japan. For the first time, South Korean officers will be aboard as observers.
Some 60 ships and 400 aircraft will participate in the drills, which are not only a signal to North Korea but also to China, whose vessels have engaged in some ugly incidents with Japanese vessels.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
Schwarzenegger is holding private talks on his special legislative session on the chronic California budget crisis, called for December 6th, and other administration matters.
At 1 PM, Schwarzenegger will receive an award from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld at Union Station in Los Angeles. The award ceremony coincides with the celebration of U.S. EPA’s 40th anniversary.
… 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 year with Schwarzenegger here. It covers most of the major issues and also reveals his cameo in the latest Terminator movie.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor-elect Jerry Brown is in the San Francisco Bay Area today.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown is holding private talks on his gubernatorial transition and the chronic California budget crisis.
Brown, who has beaten billionaire Meg Whitman in a 54% to 41% landslide, leads the biggest spending non-presidential campaign in American history by 1.298 million votes in the Tuesday afternoon vote count.
With over 5.4 million votes, he has broken the record for most votes won by a gubernatorial candidate in American history.
Brown led a Democratic sweep of all statewide offices in the November 2nd election.
** OBAMA, ARNOLD, JERRY, AND THE BIG GREEN DREAM. The latest UN global climate summit has just gotten underway in Cancun, Mexico with little progress in store, despite 2010 turning out to be perhaps the hottest year on record. That makes the moves underway in California even more significant. Especially since, to President Barack Obama’s evident dismay, action in Congress was already dead even before Republicans took over the lower house of Congress.
We’ll see if there’s any action in Cancun, following last year’s debacle in Copenhagen, covered here on the Huffington Post. There was some action two weeks ago in California, where the UN again co-sponsored Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s third annual Governors’ Global Climate Summit, with the launch of a new global organization of subnational governments and agreements to preserve tropical forests.
Schwarzenegger, who is succeeded in office by Jerry Brown, the landslide winner over billionaire Meg Whitman, on January 3rd, began these gatherings in 2008. They bring together “subnational” leaders, i.e., governors of states and provinces around the world, along with leaders of cities and regions, a wide array of national and UN officials, scientists, policy experts, business people and activists.
The first, which I wrote about here on the Huffington Post, was at the Beverly Hilton in LA and featured a video address from a then senator named Barack Obama, who’d been elected president just a few weeks earlier (and just a few days after Schwarzenegger had amusingly excoriated him in his sole campaign appearance with John McCain, the weekend before the election in Columbus, Ohio). … From my November 30th feature.
** IF IT’S NOT ONE THING, IT’S ANOTHER: OBAMA’S BURGEONING GEOPOLITICAL CRISES. And Barack Obama thought he had problems with domestic politics. Just in time for, well, the run-up to the presidential race, President Obama finds that he has multiplying headaches on the international front.
Only a few weeks after definitively learning that, yes, it really was “the economy stupid” at least as far as the mid-term elections were concerned, Obama has several big new headaches. In regard to Korea, Afghanistan, the unending Israeli-Palestinian question, and Russia.
This week, North Korea attacked South Korea again. This week, our Afghan War surpasses the Soviets’ Afghan War in length. This week, Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations hang by a thread. And this week, Obama is struggling to gain Senate ratification of the big nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. … From my November 26th column.
** JERRY BROWN AND THE CALIFORNIA EXCEPTION. … From my November 22nd feature.
** OBAMA’S BIG MISTAKE. .… From my November 2nd column.
** CALIFORNIA STORY: BROWN AND BOXER KICK FOR THE FINISH LINE. … From my October 30th feature.
** 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 is trading around $87 per barrel.
This is up about $53 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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