Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from the January assassination attempt, left her hospital today and flew to Florida for her husband’s space shuttle launch on Friday.
** QUICK HITS. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval today appointed Congressman Dean Heller to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican John Ensign, who chose not to run in 2012, today in Carson City. No appointed senator from Nevada has ever been elected to a full six-year term. Heller’s appointment sets up a bellwether special election for his congressional seat, which is all of Nevada outside Clark County (home of Las Vegas). … Governor Jerry Brown will speak to the state California PTA convention tomorrow in Los Angeles, then address the annual awards dinner of the Pat Brown Institute tomorrow evening, also in LA. … Another new public poll is coming off embargo tonight. Will it have good news or bad for Brown?
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS STILL LIE ABROAD.
** NEVADA STORY: A NARROW LEAD FOR DEAN HELLER IN NEXT YEAR’S U.S. SENATE RACE. Congressman Dean Heller, who represents all of Nevada outside of Clark County, holds a narrow lead over Las Vegas Congresswoman Shellee Berkley, 47% to 43%, in a new Public Policy Polling survey of the race to replace resigned Senator John Ensign.
Heller is likely to be appointed to the seat by new Republican Governor Brian Sandoval.
But Heller’s narrow lead over Berkley actually a big swing in her direction since a poll in January showing him leading her, 51% to 38%.
The main thing fueling Berkley’s gain is that Democratic voters have soured on Heller since he launched his Senate campaign, significantly cutting into his crossover support. In January Heller posted a pretty decent 22/31 favorability spread with Democrats, allowing him a 46/23 breakdown overall. Now just 16% of Democrats express a positive view of him and 48% have a negative one. That’s caused his net favorability to drop 9 points from +23 to now +14 at 43/29.
Given that Democratic voters don’t like him as much anymore it’s no surprise that they’re also not as inclined to vote for Heller as they were earlier this year. In January Berkley had only a 44 point lead over Heller with Democratic voters at 64-20. Now it’s a 63 point lead at 76-13 and that 19 point shift in her direction within her own party is the main reason she now has the race within the margin of error.
One thing that may end up actually hurting Heller in the long run is being appointed to the Senate vacancy created by the early resignation of John Ensign. 53% of voters think that Ensign’s seat should be filled by a special election, compared to only 44% who think Brian Sandoval should appoint Ensign’s replacement. Democrats will certainly try to make a Heller appointment smell bad and these numbers suggest that they have the public behind them in their opposition to Sandoval giving Heller a head start.
Heller-Berkley looks like a toss-up.
What does not look like a toss-up is a match-up between Heller and Bryon Georgiou, a wealthy entrepreneur who moved to Nevada several years ago. Georgeiou was Governor Jerry Brown’s legal affairs secretary the first time Jerry was governor. He’s announced in the Democratic primary against Berkley. But he trails Heller by a wide margin, 52% to 28%.
Then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a brief digital cameo in Terminator Salvation, seen here in this trailer, as first revealed in a 2009 interview with me.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE: HE SAID HE’D BE BACK. In something that is not much of a surprise, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s agents at Creative Artists Agency have packaged him to star in a fifth Terminator movie and are shopping the rights to the movie, purchased for $30 million last year by a hedge fund, with hot new director Justin Lin, whose latest Fast and Furious film, Fast Five, has opened as a hit in European markets last weekend prior to debuting this coming weekend in North America.
As Deadline reports: While many felt at the time that Pacificor overpaid and that Lionsgate and Sony would have been better matches for the material, CAA has chosen an optimum time to seek a new deal. I wrote back in February that Universal quietly was trying to arrange for Lin to be helmer of the project. At the time, some turned up their noses. Given the strong international grosses being racked up by Fast Five and the expectations for a strong domestic opening this Friday, Lin has a lot of heat. And Schwarzenegger is looking to recapture past marquee glory ending his run as California State Governor. Schwarzenegger has circled several projects including Last Stand for Lionsgate, but here, he’s the star, returning to the signature role that once established him as the world’s biggest movie star.
Much like the Superman property, The Terminator has a ticking clock on the rights. There is a stipulation in copyright law that if you assign your rights, you get them back in 35 years. In this case, Cameron assigned his rights to Hemdale, and the North American rights will revert back to him in 2018. Now, Cameron has more or less washed his hands of the Terminator franchise, but I’m told a new deal would have to be made with him if the plan was to keep making Terminator installments beyond that period. There is plenty of time to make at least two Terminator films before that happens, and that might be sufficient to end the saga that so far has spanned four films. Any financier that makes those films owns them free and clear. Rumor is the project price tag is at least $25 million upfront, against a purchase price near $36 million, not including paydays for Schwarzenegger or Lin. It would stand to reason because of the amount Pacificor paid in 2010 and the interest it has carried since. I’m told there is no set price, but this will likely be a whopping sale by the time the dust has settled and the bidding is complete.
When will we see another Terminator movie with the most famous former governor in history in it?
I don’t know. I’m not aware of there being a screenplay yet.
There are any number of ways in which it could work. The time travel element has been established from Terminator‘s inception, and as we see with Doctor Who affords any number of avenues for story-telling.
This year is the 20th anniversary of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which took Terminator into the stratosphere after the big cult success of the first relatively low-budget film. I’ll write about it when the anniversary gets closer. A lot has happened with the franchise and the culture since then, including a third and fourth films — the former of which, T3, became a big international hit as Schwarzenegger ran successfully for governor in the spectacular 2003 California recall election — and an interesting if not especially popular TV series, as well as spin-off novels.
In my opinion, continuing the series is right up Schwarzenegger’s alley in furthering, as it were, his brand. But it has to be done carefully. While digital magic can recreate the young Schwarzenegger, as you see in the clip above, he needs mainly to be himself. Fortunately for Schwarzenegger, in science fiction, there are any number of ways to explain the “real” Arnold in the movie and position him in the forefront of events, if not of all the action.
President Barack Obama discussed this morning’s release of his long form birth certificate, having long ago released his standard birth certificate, and says that “We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this.”
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, Chicago, and New York.
He has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then delivered a statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room on the release of his long-form birth certificate.
Then he went to Andrews Air Force Base to fly on Air Force One to Chicago.
At 9:10 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Chicago.
At 10:15 AM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tape an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show at Harpo Studios in Chicago.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama departs Chicago on Air Force One en route to New York City.
At 2:10 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in New York.
At 3 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at the home of former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in New York.
At 6:25 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
At 7:15 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at the The Town Hall.
At 8:30 PM Pacific, Obama departs New York on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 9:30 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, where he boards Marine One.
At 9:45 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
With Defense Secretary Bob Gates retiring this year, Obama is reshuffling the top deck of his national security team.
In what has been a remarkably ill-kept secret, Obama will name CIA Director Leon Panetta as the new secretary of defense.
In what is an eyebrow-raising move, Obama will replace Panetta as CIA director with … General David Petraeus.
Marine Lieutenant General Mike Allen, currently the deputy commander of Central Command, will replace Petraeus in the Afghanistan command.
Veteran Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who worked in tandem with Petraeus in Iraq, will replace Ambassador and retired General Karl Eikenberry in Afghanistan.
The Californian Panetta is a very familiar figure. He was a longtime congressman from the Monterey area on the Northern California coast who chaired the House Budget Committee and became Bill Clinton’s federal budget director. Then he was Clinton’s White House chief of staff.
Long touted as a candidate for governor of California, Panetta never made the race, which he would have lost as I always wrote. But as an amiable master administrator and canny Washington operator, Panetta is hard to match.
After heading his own policy center at Cal State Monterey and allying with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on political reform issues, Panetta became Obama’s CIA director, over the objection of fellow Californian Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I wrote about that here two weeks before Obama’s inaugural, taking Feinstein to task and backing Panetta for the CIA directorship.
Clearly a big part of his charge will be finding ways to expand on Gates’s beginning efforts to rein in Pentagon spending.
The appointment of Petraeus — denounced in a notorious MoveOn.org ad in 2007 as “General Betray Us” (a long-ago colleague of mine did the ad) — as Obama’s new CIA director is very intriguing. (And it certainly will do little to tamp down the meme on the ultra-left that Obama is really Bush in, ah, disguise.)
It certainly removes Petraeus from the game board as a potential Republican-oriented critic of Obama on Afghanistan, Iraq, or security in general. (Just as appointing the attractive Western governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China made his path forward much more complicated.) Petraeus will essentially be a member of the Obama Cabinet.
For all his touting by some on the right as a godsend GOP presidential candidate (which he is not) and hammering by some on the far left as an evil neocon conspirator, Petraeus is viewed by most as an extremely talented and realistic officer. One of his biggest boosters is one of Obama’s most liberal advisors, former journalist Samantha Power, senior director of multilateral affairs on the National Security Council.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, puffed up like a pouter pigeon, claimed vindication today after President Barack Obama caused the release of his long-form birth certificate. What’s wrong with that picture?
Petraeus is probably leaving Afghanistan at a good time for his reputation.
Nine Americans were reportedly killed today by a disgruntled Afghan Air Force colonel at the airfield in the capital city of Kabul. The Taliban claimed him as yet another in a string of jihadist sleeper agents to kill groups of NATO and Afghan soldiers.
In Libya, longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi has not surfaced since the air strike on his compound in Tripoli, though spokesmen say he is alive and well. NATO air strikes seem to have intensified in recent days.
Most of long besieged Misurata seems to have been cleared of Gaddafi troops, though rocket attacks and artillery shelling continue. The tribes that Gaddafi regime spokesmen said would intervene militarily against the rebels have not emerged.
In Yemen, opposition parties have agreed to the terms negotiated by the Gulf Cooperation Council for President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s departure. He is to leave office in 30 days following signing, turning over his office to his deputy for another 30 days until elections. We’ll see how all the demonstrators feel about this.
The US is desperate to help maintain some semblance of a stable government in Yemen, which has become a haven for Al Qaeda.
In Syria, demonstrations continue as does the bloody crackdown by President Hafez Assad’s regime. The US is now considering sanctions against the Syrian government.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab uprising, AfPak, Iraq, and Japan.
War Zone Times: The time in Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time; the time in Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time; and the time in Afghanistan is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown continues working on the California state government’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
Tuesday was a quiet day in California politics.
** HAS CALIFORNIA’S REFORM MOMENT ARRIVED? Has California’s big reform moment arrived? It sure seems as though it should have.
Governor Jerry Brown came into office having won in a landslide over the biggest-spending non-presidential campaign in American history, that of billionaire Meg Whitman. He set about forging a compromise solution to the state’s chronic budget crisis, pairing big budget cuts with extensions of temporary taxes that many voters don’t even know they pay. He spent months getting to know the legislators of both parties and negotiating with them, with a special emphasis on Republicans who complained that they had been ignored by Brown’s predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But he still only has half a budget deal. Even though the chronic crisis is still more glaring than before.
California state government is mired in dysfunctionality, and has been for years. The great global recession simply exacerbated the situation. It functions moderately well when times are good, though long-range planning has been most notable by its absence even then. When times are not good, well, here we are. … From my April 26th column.
** THE NON-IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY: OBAMA AND LIBYA. Newscaster: The failure of today’s pre-dawn Special Forces raid in Tripoli to catch or dispatch Moammar Gaddafi leaves the Obama Administration with a dwindling set of options on Day 32 of the Libyan War. The wily colonel had already moved from his Bab al-Azizia compound to an alternate headquarters, leaving the assault force of Navy Seals and Army Rangers little choice but to fight their way out of a trap. The Pentagon has not released casualty figures. The CIA is not commenting on the misfiring mission.
More than a month of round-the-clock air strikes and Tomahawk missile attacks have forced Gaddafi forces back from the rebel-held eastern part of Libya but have failed either to relieve the dictator’s siege of Misurata in the west or to loosen his grip on the capital. Widespread civilian casualties from the increased allied aerial bombardment have stiffened the resolve of the colonel’s supporters and spurred anti-American sentiment.
Now America’s hopes for victory turn on the amphibious units on the ships offshore, where heroic young U.S. Marines await the chance to perform their generation’s version of the second line of their famous anthem, ‘From the halls of Montezuma, To the shores of Tripoli …’
Nothing at all like this has happened, of course, though many imagined that something much like it would. … From my April 21st essay.
** ASSESSING THE JERRY BROWN ASSESSMENTS (AND WHY HE WAS IN STEALTH MODE SO LONG). … From my April 18th feature.
** MAD ABOUT MAD MEN: WILL IT MATCH WEST WING‘S MARK? … From my April 14th essay.
** THE RETURN OF JERRY BROWN. … From my April 11th column.
** LIBYAN WAR: NEW INTERNATIONAL “CONTACT GROUP” OFF TO A RUGGED START. … From my March 30th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S PARTY OF NO TAKES CENTER STAGE, OR DOES IT? … From my March 26th feature.
** OBAMA’S DIFFIDENT WAY OF WAR. … From my March 21st feature.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 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.
The crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour is taking the stage, readying for Friday’s last flight. Navy Captain Mark Kelly will command the mission, and the launch will be attended by his wife, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is recuperating from the January assassination attempt which claimed the lives of six others.
** 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 three wars in the region, and the Arab uprising underway, 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 $112 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $78 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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