Chinese travel agencies have suspended trips to the Philippines because of rising tension between the two nations over a disputed island in the South China Sea.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … NUCLEAR’S BRIGHT AND SHINY FUTURE BLINKS OUT.
** QUICK HITS. New unemployment claims dropped last week, following a sharp drop the week before. It comes at a good time for President Barack Obama. … U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in Sacramento to meet today with Governor Jerry Brown and other California leaders, told legislative leaders that it is getting to be time to move forward on high-speed rail. LaHood urged the legislature to approve funds in June to start building the project this year or early next year, rather than put off a vote till September. … Legislators hoping for Facebook’s IPO to stave off, at least on a one-time basis, cuts Brown has been pushing since January are about to get some bad news. Institutional investors are less impressed than many expected by Facebook’s prospects for future growth.
** SCHWARZENEGGER OP-ED PRECEDED LATEST EXAMPLE OF THE REPUBLICANS’ BIG EXTREMISM PROBLEM. As if on cue, Indiana Republican primary voters provided just the latest dramatic example of extremism in the once Grand Old Party. The landslide vote rejecting Senator Richard Lugar, for decades one of the most important figures in geopolitics, in favor of a rather random Tea Party type, followed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Sunday LA Times piece, “GOP: Take Down That Small Tent,” by only two days.
Lugar had some sharp things to say about the corrosive effects of hyper-partisanship, especially in the Republican Party, in his Tuesday night speech.
“I don’t remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its ability to even explore alternatives. If fealty to these pledges continues to expand, legislators may pledge their way into irrelevance. Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a leader.”
Schwarzenegger, who is off to New Orleans to shoot the third of his post-gubernatorial movies, left office 16 months ago. He won two landslide elections as governor, each by 17 point margins. His job approval, which had sunk to the low 20s in the summer of 2010, in the midst of all sorts of crisis, improved to the low 30s by the time the final Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll came out in December 2010.
Since taking over in January 2011, successor Jerry Brown has run afoul of the same intractable forces Schwarzenegger grappled with.
Schwarzenegger’s Sunday article — in which he expressed dismay about the loss of two promising young Republicans to the ranks of independents, state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, running for mayor of San Diego, and former Assemblyman Anthony Adams, running for Congress — actually prefigured what was about to happen to Lugar.
I’ve been writing my memoirs recently, and looking back at how I came to my political identity has reminded me that this election cycle marks my 44th year as a Republican. I can’t imagine being anything else.
That’s why I am so bothered by the party’s recent loss of two up-and-coming Republicans: San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, currently a state assemblyman, and former assemblyman and current Congressional candidate Anthony Adams, both of whom left the party to become independents. On the one hand, I respect their standing up for principle. On the other, I hate to see them go.
I’m sure they would have preferred to remain Republicans, but in the current climate, the extreme right wing of the party is targeting anyone who doesn’t meet its strict criteria. Its new and narrow litmus test for party membership doesn’t allow compromise. …
To succeed, Republicans need to embrace true Reaganism, and that means embracing the true Reagan, a brave and independent leader who believed in solutions and compromise.
As governor, Reagan was never afraid to buck his party. He raised taxes when he saw no other way to get California out of the red, and he created the California Environmental Protection Agency because, as strongly as he believed in eliminating unnecessary government regulation, he also saw wisdom in protecting our natural resources.
As president, Reagan worked very well with Democrats to do big things. It is true that he worked to reduce the size of government and cut federal taxes and he eliminated many regulations, but he also raised taxes when necessary. In 1983, he doubled the gas tax to pay for highway infrastructure improvements.
Today, that would be enough for some of the ideological enforcers to start looking for a “real” conservative to challenge him in a primary.
Some Republicans today aren’t even willing to have conversations about protecting the environment, investing in the infrastructure America needs or improving healthcare. By holding their fingers in their ears when those topics arise, these Republicans aren’t just denying themselves a seat at the table; in a state such as California, they also deny a seat to every other Republican.
The GOP’s history is filled with leaders who rejected ideology in favor of seeking solutions.
Teddy Roosevelt is still a hero among environmentalists for his conservationist policies. Dwight Eisenhower believed in the value of investing in infrastructure, and we can thank him for our highway system. Nixon, who originally attracted me to the party, nearly passed universal healthcare. He also created the national Environmental Protection Agency, which some modern Republicans want to close down.
Being a Republican used to mean finding solutions for the American people that worked for everyone. It used to mean having big ideas that moved the country forward.
It can mean that again, but big ideas don’t often come from small tents.
In my late March piece, “California Republicans Have Only Themselves To Blame,” I recounted my experience with Schwarzenegger’s prescient September 2007 speech to the California Republican Party convention outside Palm Springs, in which he decried the party’s sharp rightward move and warned of what was to follow in California politics if it continued. The slide rightward continued and so did the slide of the party, in registration and results.
Of course, political reforms pushed successfully by Schwarzenegger, namely the open primary and redistricting reform initiatives, are likely to have major impacts.
They will either force the Republicans to jettison much of their current leadership and approach. Or they will hasten the move of remaining moderate Republicans into the independent ranks.
I’ll have a lot more to say about this.
** NEW SURVEY: WIDESPREAD BELIEF IN BUSINESS CORRUPTION. Well, it’s not an era of trust.
A new Gallup Poll survey of opinion around the world shows widespread support for the belief that corrupt business practices are widespread.
In the US and Canada, 60% believe that corporate corruption is widespread, something which could be a major factor in the presidential elections. And that 60% figure is the low around the world for a region.
About two in three adults worldwide believe corruption is widespread in the businesses in their countries. This belief is relatively commonplace everywhere in the world — ranging from 60% in North America to a high of 76% in sub-Saharan Africa — but it tends to be higher in lower income regions. …
According to the World Bank, corruption is “one of the single largest obstacles to economic and social development.” Corruption in business is an important global concern that involves developing and developed countries. It can be difficult to accurately monitor corruption in business, particularly in countries with little or nonexistent transparency, making tracking their residents’ perceptions even more relevant.
Strong leadership, policies, laws, and greater transparency are necessary to fight corruption, which in turn may actually promote job creation and economic development. Business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs rely on a stable environment, but widespread corruption makes it difficult to estimate the risks involved in starting new enterprises.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who began her own political career as Maryland political director of Governor Jerry Brown’s 1976 presidential campaign, calls President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage an “historic” event and says he did the right thing even if it costs him votes in the upcoming election.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, DC, Washington State, and California.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to Seattle, Washington.
At 11:55 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Seattle, Washington.
At 12:50 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser at a private residence.
At 3:15 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.
At 4:15 PM Pacific, Obama departs Seattle, Washington on Air Force One en route Los Angeles, California.
At 6:25 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Los Angeles.
At 7:20 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser at the home of Oscar-winning actor George Clooney.
Obama will RON in Los Angeles.
Tonight is the very big Obama fundraiser in LA at George Clooney’s home. The event, which was already big, is getting somewhat bigger in the wake of Obama’s dramatic endorsement yesterday of same-sex marriage.
These estimates float around, of course, but it looks like this event will raise about $15 million.
Which would make it the biggest fundraiser in presidential campaign history.
The money will be split between the Obama campaign per se and the Democratic National Committee fund devoted to promoting Obama’s re-election.
It breaks down to, roughly, $6 million from the people on hand at Clooney’s house, and another $9 million mostly raised online as promotion for a raffle to see which grassroots contributors get to hang out with Obama at George Clooney’s house, as the come-on actually puts it.
The country is split on the issue, but Hollywood certainly is not, nor are most elites, who believe that “it’s time to get into the 21st century,” as even Fox News host Shepherd Smith put it yesterday.
Mitt Romney is diametrically opposed, having come out not only against same-sex marriage but in favor of a U.S. constitutional amendment banning it, which would take away the rights of states to allow it.
Obama’s position is that the states should decide. Which happens to be the law as it stands today.
So Romney is actually more radical in his legal and policy stance than Obama.
Meanwhile, Romney’s campaign is forced to react to a Washington Post story on his bully boy prep school days, including at least one ugly incident with a student presumed to be gay.
Romney led a group of boys who pinned down the student and cut his hair, which Romney dubbed both too long and too blonde.
The Romney campaign, far from acting as though it has the upper hand on the gay marriage issue — which it might, with some swing voters in some swing states — is almost frantically trying to change the subject back to the economy.
But there, too, Obama has some new good news, in the form of gasoline prices that are going down. And oil prices have stabilized below $100 per barrel, even though the status of the Iran crisis is unclear with the Kadima party moving from opposition in Israel into a national unity government, taking away the September elections that loomed not long ago there.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
Governor Jerry Brown, accompanied by First Lady/Special Counsel Anne Gust Brown and a dog called, I believe, Sutter Brown, turned in the petitions to qualify his November revenue initiative this morning at the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters. Incidentally, I think the dog looks exactly like the Queen’s.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
This morning, he filed the signatures to qualify his November revenue initiative at the Sacramento County Registrar of Voters. Brown and his allies gathered over 1.5 million signatures.
While a number of consultants, strategists, and advisors will be involved in the campaign, the lead consultants will be San Francisco-based SCN Campaigns, whose senior partner is longtime Democratic consultant Ace Smith.
Smith was Brown’s campaign director in his landslide victory for California attorney general in 2006.
Then the two men had a bit of a falling out, as Smith, who managed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s re-election campaign, seemed to feel that Villaraigosa was the likely next governor.
That, of course, proved not to be the case. And it was unfortunate, because I felt that Smith did a very good job teaming up with Brown and Anne Gust Brown.
But the relationship was not easy to patch up. Smith did aid Brown’s 2010 campaign with some independent expenditure efforts early on. More to follow as we go.
Late yesterday, Brown issued the following statement on Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, which Brown has championed for years:
“Equality before the law is a pillar of American democracy. I applaud President Obama’s support for the right of same-sex couples to marry.”
Brown is working on the “May revise” to his state budget proposal. As he does so, word came on Tuesday from state Controller John Chiang that revenues have ended up over $2.4 billion below expectations. As Brown has been warning all along, this 20% shortfall is something that needs to be made up.
And, after the customary legislative foot-dragging on state budget cuts, Brown yesterday warned state employee groups to expect more cost cutting, as predicted here.
** MAD MEN: REJECTING ADVERTISING, OR, DON DRAPER MEETS ACID ROCK, POP BUDDHISM, AND AN INDEPENDENT WIFE. … From my May 8th essay.
** THE CURIOUS CHEN CRISIS SPOTLIGHTS OUR BIG CHINA CONUNDRUM. … From my May 4th essay.
** MAD MEN: TO THE MOON! (AND CRASHING BACK AGAIN). … From my May 1st essay.
** SEALED UP, BUT NOT SEALED OVER: THE OSAMA BIN LADEN RAID AT 1. … From my May 1st essay.
** BACK ON THE NATIONAL STAGE? JERRY BROWN BRINGS AN INCOMPLETE STORY. … From my April 28th essay.
** MAD MEN: WIBBLY-WOBBLY, TIMEY-WIMEY, TRIPPY-WIPPY (AND PEGGY OLSON IS NO DANA SCULLY). … From my April 24th essay.
** HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT? ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GAUNTLET. … From my April 24th essay.
** THE PERSISTENCE OF TUNNEL VISION: ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR JERRY BROWN. … From my April 19th essay.
** MAD MEN: ROUNDING SOME HAIRPIN PLOT CURVES. … From my April 17th essay.
** FIRST WEEK: A RAGGED START, OBAMA’S BIGGER PROBLEMS. … From my April 14th 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 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 $97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $63 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 $17 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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