Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the overwhelming favorite to win the Chicago mayor’s race, has a real problem. A state appellate court has removed him from the ballot for not having been a Chicago resident for the year prior to running. He’s appealing to the Illinois Supreme Court. Meanwhile, ballots are being printed, without his name.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN 2.0 THREE WEEKS ON: HOW’S IT GOING?
** QUICK HITS. Governor Jerry Brown’s State of the State address now reportedly set for next Monday night, though there has been no announcement. The address is customarily delivered in January, and that’s the last day of the month. … California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who created a bit of confusion with remarks over the weekend that state IOUs might be necessary in a few months if there is no budget action, pushed back hard today against the notion that the state government might have to declare bankruptcy as being Newt Gingrich-inspired. … State Controller John Chiang announced that his auditors will investigate 18 redevelopment agencies around the state. There’s a lot of push-back from local government against Brown’s plan to redirect revenues now used for redevelopment to core services instead.
** NEW POLL: OBAMA JOB APPROVAL UP TO 55% ON EVE OF STATE OF THE UNION. The new CNN/Opinion Research poll has President Barack Obama’s job approval rating up to 55% in polling completed over the weekend.
That is a whopping seven-point jump from last month.
And it’s the highest rating he’s had since November 2009.
His job approval with independents, which had waned during the harsh health care debate and the midterm elections campaign, is a very healthy 54%.
But the news is not all good.
While Obama gets strong ratings for handling terrorism and foreign affairs, his economic policy approval is still under 50%.
Two car bombs struck Shiite pilgrims in the holy city of Karbala Monday, killing at least 18 people as crowds massed for religious rituals in Iraq. Deadly blasts shook the capital Baghdad as well.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A very big week on tap in presidential politics, and a big week in California politics.
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Obama, who is clearly resurgent since the midterm elections, will position his presidency for this year’s run-up to next year’s presidential election.
In California politics, Governor Jerry Brown, operating in stealth mode almost entirely behind the scenes, continues moving toward his austerity-with-revenues budget and special election solution. He also continues to fill out his nascent administration. This week and next, the state Legislature holds a series of budget hearings at the committee and subcommittee level, which will keep Brown Administration finance officials busy.
Obama’s State of the Union will be somewhat more centrist than his first two such addresses in that they won’t focus on big ticket spending programs and will emphasize some attempts to rein in the burgeoning federal deficit. That means he’ll talk about the future and focus on technological innovation, competitiveness, and trade promotion.
Obama is clearly resurgent in the wake of the November midterm elections, having improved markedly with independents as well as with Democrats, and having taken big leads over his potential Republican challengers as I’ve been discussing in recent weeks.
The economy, which nearly collapsed two years ago, continues to recover, albeit slowly.
But trouble continues to bubble on the geopolitical front, in Afghanistan of course as well as in the Arab world with much uncertainty in the wake of the Tunisian uprising. And what has been a major Obama success, the phase-out of US troops in Iraq, is under no question today as yet another terrorist bombing in Iraq capped a week of such bombings giving rise to growing questions about the Iraqi government’s ability to provide its own security.
In California politics, Jerry Brown’s real world budgeting strategy continues moving forward. He’s getting a lot of push-back from most quarters, each of which insists that sacrifice is needed, just sacrifice somewhere else.
And a far right-dominated Republican legislative contingent continues to insist that it’s against any new revenues and wants a cuts-only budget, though as usual it refuses to spell out any such budget.
What needs to be done in California state government is not mysterious. It’s much like giving a real answer to the question of how best to lose weight and get into shape. You eat less, and you exercise more.
Getting a sclerotic Capitol and state political system to acknowledge the obvious and move forward is the trick.
Meanwhile, Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, very caught up in recent days with the death and funeral of his father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, heads to Canada this week for a series of speeches.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the action movie superstar will speak in Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.
The fact that Democrats are now seriously contemplating many budget cuts similar to those which he proposed and they rejected just last year can’t possibly be ironic to Schwarzenegger.
In the latest sign of how conventional institutions trail the flow of events these days, UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies held its quadrennial review of the race to succeed Schwarzenegger this past Friday and Saturday. I’ve been to every one of these things since they began in 1990, and registered for this one as well, but after realizing I couldn’t remember anything about the one four years earlier (and remembered only luncheon speaker state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s self-immolation as a gubernatorial candidate from the previous confab), decided to skip it. Having covered the campaign every day on NWN, and having written some 40 columns, features, and essays — each at least 2000 words in length — in other words, the equivalent of a book already on the topic, there seemed little to be learned at this late date. Certainly not from campaigns I dealt with constantly.
As Sacramento Bee writer David Siders pointed out, nothing was said there that had not already been reported.
Billionaire Meg Whitman’s campaign boycotted the event, removing any new reason to attend. Not that I hadn’t had excellent sources in that camp, as well. And the run-up to the event was marked by a bizarre controversy, stirred up by CalBuzz blog and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci criticizing forum organizer Ethan Rarick for not inviting consultant Garry South to represent Gavin Newsom’s abortive Democratic primary campaign for governor.
Rarick is Governor Pat Brown’s biographer and made the right call about not having South represent Newsom. (Rarick’s California Rising: The Life and Times of Pat Brown is a terrific book.) As Newsom’s chief strategist, South provided political counsel that made sense only as a way to hurt Jerry Brown in the general election.
In fact, South’s political calls in the entire two-year election cycle were demonstrably wrong, from beginning to end, and his information led to his old reporter friends’ frequently erroneous coverage and analysis.
On top of that, South, who insisted the day before Newsom dropped out of the governor’s race (which was first reported on NWN) that he would never drop out, lashed out at Newsom immediately, using, among things, the CalBuzz blog to “anonymously” push attacks on Newsom. In a continuing bizarre performance, South publicly threatened to use confidential information he gained from working for Newsom against him in the primary race for lieutenant governor.
His appearance at the Berkeley conference would have been a bizarre spectacle. Though it would have been entertaining to ask him about his many ridiculous statements of 2009 and 2010. Nearly as good sport as having Whitman chief strategist Mike Murphy there. But Murphy has had the good sense to make himself very scarce in California.
Over 30 people were killed today in a terrorist bombing in the international terminal of Moscow’s busiest airport.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He and First Lady MIchelle Obama then delivered remarks at an event highlighting the federal government’s support for military families in the East Room.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates in the Oval Office.
At 4:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas host a reception for new Members of Congress on the State Floor. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden also attend.
For his part today, rather oddly, Biden has reported for jury duty in Delaware. He did so, he says, because he wants to highlight it as a civic duty.
Obama is spending much of his day prepping for his State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
The White House will have a host of online venues for viewing and participation around the State of the Union. I’ll run through those prior to the event.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Korean peninsula, as well as the Wikileaks crisis.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is working on California’s chronic budget crisis and on developing his nascent administration.
** OBAMA AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JFK INAUGURAL 50 YEARS ON. Why, 50 years after the fact, did official Washington celebrate the inauguration of a most imperfect man who served less than one term as president, and had far fewer accomplishments than many other presidents?
The answer undoubtedly lies in why John F. Kennedy continues to be rated higher in polling than all other modern presidents, and why Barack Obama became a major political figure in the first place and is resurgent today. Ideology, policy, even accomplishment has remarkably little to do with it.
Obama flashed on to the national scene in 2004 on the strength of nothing more than one great speech, his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. He was only a state senator in Illinois, about to become a freshman U.S. senator. But after that one speech, he was a major presidential prospect.
So, too, with Kennedy, finding his place on the stage of history with his great inaugural address.
When Senator John Kerry selected Obama to deliver the 2004 convention keynote, like most in politics I’d barely heard of him. But his obscurity and newness on the scene — in 2000, Obama had struggled to even get into the Democratic national convention in Los Angeles, as he endearingly recounted in The Audacity of Hope — didn’t stop him from delivering one of the great convention stemwinders of all time, an exercise in uplift, ennoblement, and possibility that launched him on a steep trajectory taking him to the presidency four years later. …
From my January 22nd essay.
** THE JERRY BROWN ERA UNFOLDS (AGAIN). And he is off and running as governor of California. Again. The first week of Jerry Brown’s governorship told us a lot, and set the stage for the second week, in which a hellacious state budget proposal is dominating.
First, let’s look at that, and then at the first week of the Brown governorship as he took over from Arnold Schwarzenegger. A week that was telling and even, in its way, festive. At least at first. … From my January 11th feature.
** 2010: A JERRY BROWN ODYSSEY. … From my December 20th 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 oil is trading around $88 per barrel.
This is up about $54 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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