A top United Nations nuclear official says his team “could not find a way forward” in attempts to persuade Iran to talk about suspected secret work on nuclear weapons.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … DEBATING THE DISARRAY: THE REPUBLICANS’ SEARCH FOR CLARITY AFTER THEIR BIG DUKEAROO.
** QUICK HITS. More bad news from Afghanistan, where the US has apologized after Afghan employees at the big Bagram Air Base discovered that Korans and other Islamic religious material were being burned. The Afghan Parliament moved today to require that any US personnel involved in the debacle be turned over for trial by sharia law. Failure to comply would lead to the US being denied access to the country after 2014. … Governor Jerry Brown’s political committee today released a poll showing what I’ve been talking and writing about for many weeks. That heiress Molly Munger’s big income tax hike initiative has no chance of passinag, and if all three proposed revenue initiatives are on the November California ballot, all may fall. … On his trip to Washington, Brown will appear at a fundraiser for his revenue initiative hosted by lobbyists Tony Podesta, former Clinton White House chief of staff, and an old colleague of mine from Gary Hart days, Mike Stratton.
** NEW POLL: SANTORUM EXPANDS NATIONAL LEAD OVER ROMNEY AND GINGRICH. In the new Gallup Poll, Rick Santorum has expanded his lead over Mitt Romney among Republicans nationally.
Santorum now leads Romney, 36% to 26%.
Gingrich, the former leader, is a distant third at 13%.
Ron Paul, his much-hyped libertarian uprising having fallen flat even in lightly-attended caucus states, brings up the rear with 11%.
Paul has become a de facto ally of Romney in this race, his extreme laissez-faire economics philosophy giving cover to Romney’s anything-goes financialized capitalism and his millions in funds from zealous supporters employed to attack Romney’s chief rivals.
First Gingrich, now Santorum.
President Barack Obama sings “Sweet Home Chicago” at last night’s Red, White, and Blues event at the White House. That’s B.B. King and Mick Jagger on stage with him.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: ECLIPSING THE EMPIRE STATE. In the latest dramatic sign that California has supplanted New York at the premiere locale for Barack Obama’s fundraising, the Democratic president raised, according to sources, close to $8.5 million here last week on his two-day swing through the state. Even before this, it was clear that California was well ahead of New York in Obama’s fundraising operation.
It’s important to note that some issues exist with respect to Obama in New York that aren’t the case in California.
Some $4 million of last week’s haul came in three events in San Francisco, which included attendees from nearby Silicon Valley, with the rest from events in Los Angeles and Orange County.
Intriguingly, Obama’s extremely formidable California fundraising machine relies hardly at all on the state’s popular Democratic governor or on its dominant Democratic Party organization.
Instead, Obama has forged an operation largely his own, fusing his highly successful 2008 primary campaign organization with that of Hillary Clinton, building on strong potential support bases in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, fusing those with more traditional sources of funds from the professions, real estate, and finance. It’s a more variegated approach than in New York, which is heavily dependent on Wall Street. And it has flourished despite disappointing some, such as Hollywood interests who wanted to crack down on the Internet and its potential for piracy and those who worry that Obama hasn’t gone far enough on the environment, or has gone too far in Afghanistan.
Ironically, in John Burton, the former congressman and leader of the state Senate who gave U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer her start in politics, California has one of the least pro-Obama state party chairs in the country.
Rather than feature the top figures in the Obama Administration at the annual state party conventions, Burton chooses more lefty national figures, such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the Senate’s only avowed socialist and a frequent Obama critic.
But it doesn’t matter all that much. Obama is in no danger of losing California, and Burton’s state party apparatus is appropriately focused much more on key initiatives and legislative and congressional races.
As usual, Governor Jerry Brown was nowhere to be seen during Obama’s latest California tour. Better make that, he was nowhere to be seen in the vicinity of Obama.
In the midst of an historic third term as the not so Golden State’s governor, Brown, himself a two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination, was prepping for two days of his own high-profile events, hosting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in a series of events, joining Vice President Joe Biden on Friday.
Truth be told, Brown is not close to Obama, though he defends him in his public remarks and recently hosted Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in California as the Obama Administration and the Brown Administration work to push forward the embattled high-speed rail project.
Unlike most of the California Democratic establishment, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and then San Francisco Mayor Gaving Newsom, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, while more avowedly left-ward figures such as John Burton went with John Edwards, Brown was neutral. But, according to sources, he did not spark to Obama during their private meeting then.
That meeting began with the somewhat spiky Brown jousting over some past contretemps with top Obama advisor David Axelrod. Which, if you get Brown, can be a prelude to a very interesting and useful exchange. But it seemed to bring out Obama’s cautious side.
Some urged Brown to support Hillary Clinton, despite his bitter battle with the Clintons during the 1992 Democratic presidential race. Others in his family urged Brown to go with Obama.
I suggested to Brown that he back Obama, who was clearly the figure of the future in the Democratic Party. But he stayed neutral, and Clinton went on to win the California primary on 2008′s Super Tuesday.
But only after the Obama forces made a major feint toward a big California move, which caused the Clinton campaign to react with a huge defensive effort, parking former President Bill Clinton in California for the last two days of the campaign while Obama sprinted forward in many smaller states, ending up with a Super Tuesday delegate edge over his future secretary of state which he never relinquished.
Despite Clinton’s win in the California primary, Obama was a natural for California, as subsequent events showed. …
Two Iranian warships sailed back through the Suez Canal after sailing into the Mediterranean and visiting Syria last week. The new Egyptian government is allowing the Iranian Navy access to Suez for the first time in decades.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
He then delivered remarks at the construction site of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and event also attended by First Lady Michelle Obama.
At 1:10 PM Pacific, Obama and the first lady host a reception in honor of the groundbreaking of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in the East Room.
Tonight is the big Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Arizona, which will air from 5 to 7 PM Pacific on CNN.
A new CNN poll confirms what Public Policy Polling found on Monday, that Mitt Romney’s big lead over Rick Santorum in next Tuesday’s Arizona primary is down to the margin of error. Considering that Santorum leads Romney in his home state of Michigan.
Newt Gingrich still has a big vote in Arizona, where he’s not campaigning. If a chunk of those voters go to their second choice, who is generally Santorum .
Incidentally, Santorum leads Romney in Washington, which holds caucuses between Michigan/Arizona and Super Tuesday on March 3rd.
As the seriously disarrayed Republican field plays out its dynamics, major geopolitical crises are unfolding.
The UN nuclear watchdog’s visit to Iran ended ahead of schedule yesterday when Tehran refused to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors any access to key nuclear facilities.
Thus further ratcheting up the crisis, and making it ever more difficult for Iran’s apologists to claim that it is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Which is not the same as justifying a war, mind you.
The Syrian crisis, which is linked, as you see from the footage of Iranian naval vessels returning from a trip to its ally Syria through the Suez Canal — which the previous Egyptian government denied Tehran access to — also ratchets up with continued Assad regime assaults on protesters.
The Friends of Syria, aka the International Contact Group on Syria, will convene this Friday in Tunisia, where the Arab Awakening began.
Russia has refused to participate, and China has not yet replied.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, Iraq, Iran and Israel.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California and en route to Washingon.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
As first reported yesterday in Governors Journal, Brown is attending this year’s National Governors Association meeting in Washington, an event he skipped last year while he was heavily focused on bipartisan negotiations over California’s chronic budget crisis.
During his five-day trip, Brown will meet with President Barack Obama, top Obama Administration officials, and the California Congressional delegation.
I’ll have a lot more on this, of course.
Proponents of California’s Prop 8 same sex marriage ban, having lost in federal district court and now before a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, have decided to appeal to the full 9th Circuit rather than go straight to the US Supreme Court. It’s an interesting move, which means that the Supreme Court is most unlikely to get the case before the November elections.
It will not be easy for the proponents of Prop 8 — who must defend the case themselves, due to the refusals to do so by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor Jerry Brown, and Attorney General Kamala Harris — to win on appeal.
The full 9th Circuit is unlikely to overturn the decision by its panel.
And the narrowness of the basis on which the panel decided the case, making its decision California-specific, may make it more difficult to have the Supreme Court take on the case.
** DRIFTING TO WAR WITH IRAN: BEWARE THE HYSTERIA. With the Republican presidential race in disarray and something of a lull in the post-”inevitable Romney” phase, there is one ongoing constant: All the conceivable nominees, at least in the current set of prospects, are pushing for war with Iran. …
Not that these warhawks have anything like a plan as to how an Iran war would, you know, work.
It might be nice to imagine that an attack could work. If one believes that Iran is developing nuclear weapons — as most experts who’ve looked at this, including the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, do — then this is serious business. Notwithstanding the futile protest of iPod-wielding students a few years back, whose fate may be shared by the initial revolutionaries of Egypt (when will we stop imagining that the people most like us represent the mainstream of another society?), Iran is a worrisome, hostile, radical fundamentalist power. One which was held neatly in check by Saddam Hussein. Who of course was removed from power at the insistence of the very people now flipping out over Iran and pushing war there.
The reality is that the US invasion of Iraq ended up empowering Iran, leading to government in Baghdad which is dominated by politicians friendly with Iran. … From my February 16th essay.
** RICKROLLED: ROMNEY WILL BE “INEVITABLE” AGAIN WHEN … So, when will Mitt Romney be “inevitable,” again? And why are his weaknesses and failures a constant source of surprise?
Romney will be the inevitable challenger to Barack Obama when and if he walks on stage in Tampa to deliver his acceptance speech. A good start would be winning somewhere with a positive message, rather than the avalanche of negativity he’s relied on so far in taking only three of the first eight states, losing three in embarrassing landslides.
As to why the ever “inevitable” Romney’s repeated belly flops come as surprise, well, chalk it up to a sort of hive media phenomenon. … From my February 9th essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION, THE BIG NEVADA BUST, THE ROAD AHEAD (AND THE RISE OF RICK?). … From my February 7th essay.
** ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT SILVER: HOW NEVADA AND THE WEST GOT SHORT-CHANGED. … From my February 3rd column.
** WHAT LIGHT FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE? What light has been shed by the Florida Republican presidential primary? It’s not easy to see how Newt Gingrich wins. And it’s not hard to see how Mitt Romney falls. … From my February 2nd column.
** REPUBLICANS LOSE BIG ON REDISTRICTING GAMBLE, BROWN MOVES FORWARD. … From my January 30th essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: WILL GINGRICH BLOW IT (AGAIN)? … From my January 26th essay.
** 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in several major military operations in the region, and the Arab awakening 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.
** 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.
** 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 $106 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $72 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $8 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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