As International Women’s Day was marked around the world, many in Afghanistan worried that they will lose rights acquired since the Taliban were overthrown after the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE REAL GAME CHANGE.
** QUICK HITS. California may still have one of the highest unemployment rates in America, but it also has an astounding one in 12 of the world’s billionaires, 100 in all according to the annual Forbes list, with Oracle software mogul and America’s Cup sailing champ Larry Ellison tops at $36 billion. Ellison is the third richest American, behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and sixth richest person in the world. … Who’s the richest person in the world? That’s Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim, at $69 billion, definitively demonstrating the enormous wealth and widespread prosperity. … Governor Jerry Brown speaks to biomedical industry leaders Friday at 1:15 PM at the CALBIO2012 Conference at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Brown is a long-time backer of high tech in general and stem cell research in particular.
** JERRY-RIGGING: “MILLIONAIRE TAX” BACKERS CLAIM UNASSAILABLE LEAD AS BIG BUSINESS VOWS BIG CAMPAIGN AGAINST IT AND AN HEIRESS’S INITIATIVE RAISING INCOME TAXES ON ALL. Backers of the proposed “Millionaires Tax” initiative for California’s November ballot touted a new internal poll today in a press conference/media conference call, claiming that it has an unassailable lead.
Pollster Amy Levin of the Benenson Strategy Group, which also polls for President Obama said: “The Millionaires Tax provides the clearest path to victory in any scenario. It proves strong and resilient, with support starting at 69 – 70% in any ballot scenario, and even after attacks, support stays at or above 60%.”
The support number there is significantly higher than in other polling.
The advocates addressed Governor Jerry Brown’s concern that having more than one income tax initiative on the ballot would doom all, saying that voters want more than one choice.
Of course, voters usually say they want choice. And usually when faced with choice they reject the substance.
Joshua Pechthalt, the Millionaires Tax proponent who is president of the California Federation of Teachers declared that “The Millionaires Tax is our best chance to win voter approval for new funding for education and essential services.”
The proponents claimed a 69-27 edge for their initiative vs. a 56-38 edge for Brown’s. The number for Brown’s measure is consistent with others I’ve seen.
Heiress Molly Munger’s plan to raise income taxes on virtually all Californians starts already behind, with only 40% support, which is also consistent with other polling.
Millionaire Tax proponents also touted greater intensity for their measure, 39% to 20% for Brown’s.
They also claimed their numbers are “very resilient” to likely attacks, saying that the millionaire tax only goes down five points if attacked on jobs and so on, to 64%.
Brown’s plan tax reportedly drops to 46% from 56%.
And Munger’s? All the way down to 17% from 40%.
The advocates also said that they met this morning with 17 Democratic state senators and received a “positive response.” But when asked about any commitments from the senators at this morning meeting, they gave a noncommittal reply.
The CFT president, who heads by far the smaller of the state’s two teachers unions, the other of which backs Brown’s measure, says they “won’t be pressured off the ballot.”
Asked about Brown’s meeting with the parent American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Pechthalt said she wasn’t trying to pressure the California branch to step away. “CFT is the success story of AFT,” he said.
“We feel more pressure to stand for our members,” he declared. “We know we’re doing the right thing. These numbers confirm the feelings our members feel.”
The group said that it’s only Capitol insiders who are trying to get them to back away, though actually various social service advocates have criticized the measure for not addressing the state’s structural deficit. And they specifically called concerns from the California State Association of Counties “part of the Beltway insider mentality,” despite the fact that the organization represents local governments.
Is the Millionaire Tax invulnerable to attack?
I’d have to study their poll, which I haven’t been able to, and a lot more data besides before concluding that. There’s not much involving money that is invulnerable to attack in politics.
That’s certainly what the California Business Roundtable is figuring. They came out against both this measure and the Munger measure, vowing to do what it takes to defeat either or both should they appear on the ballot.
What about the Brown initiative? They’re neutral.
** NEW SURVEY: JOB CREATION DIPS IN FEBRUARY. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that US job creation dipped slightly in February.
In related news, unemployment applications went up slightly last week.
Hiring is down and firings are up, again, both slightly.
But the situation is still significantly better than a year ago.
And job creation seems to have improved during the first week in March.
In all regions job creation is essentially flat, but hiring situations outnumber firing situations by not quite a 2 to 1 ratio.
Job market conditions in the United States slid back slightly in February, as Gallup’s Job Creation Index fell to +14 from +16 in January. The February score matches those recorded from October through December 2011. However, the reading last month reflects an improvement of two percentage points compared with a year ago (+12 in February 2011).
The February Job Creation Index of +14 is based on 32% of workers nationwide saying their employers are hiring workers and expanding the size of their workforce, and 18% saying their employers are letting workers go and reducing the size of their workforce. The percentage hiring is down from 33% in January, while the percentage letting go is up from 17%. Both February percentages now match the readings recorded each month in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference has wrapped up in Washington. The Iran crisis was the main center of attention, drawing remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, President Barack Obama, and the three leading Republican presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.
** 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.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama hosts President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana for a meeting in the Oval Office.
At 2:35 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have dinner at a local restaurant with winners of a campaign contest.
The Republican presidential race has moved on to Saturday caucuses in Kansas and several US protectorates in the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands.
Newt Gingrich, who was to have campaigned this week in Kansas, has canceled his schedule there, hoping to make a stand in the big contests next week, the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi.
His spokesman, R.C. Hammond, has said that Gingrich is best served by wins there. So Rick Santorum is going for wins in those key Southern primaries in a bid to knock Gingrich out of the race and get a one-on-one shot against Romney.
Had Gingrich not been in Michigan, Santorum would have turned his eyelash loss to a comfortable win.
Next Tuesday also brings the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa.
I, for one, would choose to focus on the Hawaii caucuses were I running. NWN was the first to call the Hawaii caucuses on the Democratic side for Barack Obama in 2008. Which was not exactly a stretch, naturally.
As international powers set the stage for some renewed talks with Iran, concern is emerging that satellite intel revealing earth-moving vehicles and trucks may show Iran attempting to “sanitize” a potential nuclear site to which it denied access for UN inspectors last week. Iran offered on Tuesday to allow some access to the site, under still to be negotiated conditions.
New negotiations with Iran are on tap with the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany. But no time, place, or agenda have been decided upon.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, and AfPak.
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.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
He will speak tomorrow in San Francisco at a major biotech conference.
Brown, sighted by town residents in the semi-rural Marin County community of Fairfax yesterday before he attended the funeral of his cousin, former Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown, issued a proclamation yesterday for Arbor Day. Most of the proclamation was taken up with a poem by his friend Gary Snyder, the famed beat poet, Pulitzer Prize winner, Zen adept, and deep ecology advocate Brown appointed to the California Arts Council during his first governorship. The poem, entitled “Gold, Green,” is linked here on Brown’s web site.
His job approval remains relatively high, where it has been for some time, in the high 40s, with job disapproval in the high 30s, reflecting the state’s partisan divide.
But support for his revenue initiative is down to 52%, with 40% opposed. A PPIC poll in January showed support nearly 20 points higher.
The number is a bit puzzling, though not as puzzling as the January number, as the recent Field Poll puts the initiative at 58%. Brown’s own polling has been in between those two numbers.
Unfortunately, the PPIC poll, like the Field Poll, doesn’t do in-depth questions to determine why people hold their attitudes.
The USC/LA Times poll does, but it hasn’t been out for awhile.
The PPIC poll also shows that voters remain largely ignorant of state budget matters, despite many years of chronic crisis.
Reporting from what remains of the conventional state press corps isn’t penetrating.
In addition, the poll shows 51% support for the big state water bond enacted under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that may be a bridge too far at this time, with revenue measures on the November ballot and no drought emergency, even though this has been a very dry winter.
It also shows support for high-speed rail down to 43%. But that’s not on the ballot.
** MAKING SENSE OF KALEIDOSCOPIC PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS. Presidential politics has gone kaleidoscopic. Between Mitt Romney’s split decision on a not so Super Tuesday for him and the big geopolitically-driven crises President Barack Obama has to manage, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Here’s a view of the forest.
The Republicans who would be president are the least of Obama’s problems, and what they’ve been doing over the past few months only makes that more so. Obama is most threatened now by a looming war involving Iran and Israel and a collapsing war in Afghanistan. There are a variety of crosscuts with those real and potential wars. … From my March 7th essay.
** IMPOSSIBLE MISSIONS AND 50 YEARS OF BOND. … From my March 6th essay.
** JERRY BROWN MAKES SOME SPLASHY MOVES. … From my March 1st essay.
** THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE: IRAN, ISRAEL, AFGHANISTAN. … From my February 29th essay.
** DEBATING IN DISARRAY: SEARCHING FOR SOME CLARITY IN THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL MESS. … From my February 24th essay.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: ECLIPSING THE EMPIRE STATE. … From my February 21st essay.
** DRIFTING TO WAR WITH IRAN: BEWARE THE HYSTERIA. … From my February 16th essay.
** RICKROLLED: ROMNEY WILL BE “INEVITABLE” AGAIN WHEN … … From my February 9th 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.
Airlines and energy suppliers were put on alert after an explosion on the surface of the Sun led to an enormous solar magnetic storm.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 $107 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $73 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 $7 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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