Iran’s petrochemical exports have plunged nearly 90 percent in the last two weeks, according to traders and shipping data, with Iranian failure to get insurance to transport cargoes due to EU sanctions. The sanctions banning European insurers and reinsurers from covering tankers carrying Iranian petrochemicals came into effect at the start of May. Similar EU measures aimed at crude and oil products will start in July.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE NEW SPACE ERA, AND CALIFORNIA, TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD and FLAILING WITH NATO.
** QUICK HITS. What will be a bigger influencer in global financial markets? Friday’s big Facebook IPO, or the woes of Greece, headed for another election on June 17th with anti-austerity sentiment strong and rising? … Governor Jerry Brown appears Friday morning around 7 AM on CBS This Morning for an interview with Charlie Rose on California’s fiscal situation. … In the latest kerfuffle that takes up so much attention in politics, a conservative super PAC planned then abandoned TV advertising hitting President Barack Obama for his former pastor’s incendiary comments back in the day, with Mitt Romney forced to disavow and various charges and counter-charges zzzz …
** AMERICANS ELECT FLAMES OUT, OR, HOW NOT TO DEVELOP A THIRD PARTY. Well, something I’ve given short shrift to turns out to deserve even less.
That would be Americans Elect, a group run by rich people in New York, funded to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, to develop a third party line for the 2012 presidential elections.
With that kind of money, they of course have been able to buy ballot access in a lot of states. But aside from boiler plate bipartisanship, they haven’t had much of a message other than to say what we already know about the problems of American politics.
And now they have acknowledged the obvious. The effort isn’t going anywhere.
What’s the problem, besides lack of a message and grassroots appeal?
Lack of a candidate.
Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer led the way, as it were, in its online polling, with Ron Paul as the leading “draft” candidate.
But the group decided that neither of these worthies had enough support to take the ballot line.
Which is a wise choice, since neither would mean much in the race, although Paul could effectively end Mitt Romney’s candidacy.
But that would never happen, since Paul made it plain in the course of the Republican presidential race that he is a de facto ally of Romney, whom he never attacked during the campaign.
Here’s the Americans Elect statement, which claims success though it ended up failing:
There is a desire among Delegates and millions of Americans who have supported Americans Elect to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.
However, the rules, as developed in consultation with the Americans Elect Delegates, are clear. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June. The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end.
Americans Elect, from the outset, has been a rules-based process, with the rules publicly available and open to debate by the Delegates. Our key priorities have been to: 1) honor the trust Americans Elect has built with the Delegates and American public; 2) require candidates to earn the nomination by building support among the Americans Elect Delegate community and American voters; and 3) create a basis for a solid future for the Americans Elect movement.
This decision honors these priorities.
Through the efforts of thousands of staffers, volunteers and leadership, Americans Elect has achieved its operational goals, including:
· Creating a pathway for nationwide ballot access for a balanced presidential ticket
unaffiliated with the nominating process of either major party to compete in the
· Building the technological platform for the first nonpartisan secure national online
primary at AmericansElect.org;
· Attracting a significant base of more than 4 million supporters, including Delegates,
petition signers and volunteers;
· Educating the national and local media on the Americans Elect mission; and
· Finishing an extensive candidate briefing program involving more than 100
As always, we thank everyone who has helped build this organization and are grateful for the work, efforts, and trust so many people have placed in Americans Elect. We are continuing the Americans Elect mission of creating more choice in our political system, giving candidates unaffiliated with the nominating process of either major party an authentic way to run for office and giving the American people a greater voice in our political process.
President Barack Obama yesterday posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor above and beyond the call of duty to Army Specialist Leslie H. Sabo, Jr., a paratrooper in the Vietnam War.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He has no scheduled public events.
Obama is prepping for two major summits coming up, both of which he is hosting.
On Friday, Obama travels to Camp David in Maryland for the G-8 Summit.
Late on Saturday, Obama travels to Chicago, where he will welcome NATO allies and partners for the NATO Summit on May 20-21.
The new Fox News poll shows President Barack Obama opening a significant lead over Mitt Romney, 46-39, with increased optimism on the economy.
I mention it only because it is Fox News.
When a conservative Republican is seven points down in the Fox News poll, that is a problem for the GOP.
However, the Romney/RNC team upped its fundraising in April to $40 million, nearly matching Obama’s $44 million haul.
Obama will shortly be raising more big bucks in California. More to follow on that.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and North Korea.
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.
** A BUCKET OF WOE: JERRY BROWN’S UNSURPRISINGLY UNHAPPY BUDGET. In one of the least surprising announcements of late, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday unveiled the annual spring revision of the California state budget, proposing steps to deal with what he says has become a $15.7 billion budget deficit, up from $9.2 billion in January. Absent more tough cuts, and passage of his November revenue initiative, things get much worse very fast, especially for the schools.
Meanwhile, things are apt to get significantly worse for social welfare programs and state workers.
The deficit number was a surprise to some, probably feigned in some cases, especially by Brown’s longtime conservative critics.
Fox News, to mention the most obvious of these folks, spinning furiously, claimed that Brown is actually worse than JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Why? Because Dimon only hid a $2 billion loss while Brown “hid” a “$16 billion deficit blunder.”
I mention this, not because I take the Fox report seriously, but because it is the preposterous hyper-partisan extreme that illustrates a common problem.
Which is that there is nothing surprising about the budget deficit number, not for anyone who has been paying attention to, and remembering, regular statements from Brown and state Controller John Chiang about revenues, and from Brown about budget cuts being blocked, by the courts and federal government, and balked at, by the legislature.
It was a simple exercise in arithmetic. Add up the revenue shortfalls reported for months, and repeatedly throughout April, with the blocked budget cuts, and you won’t be surprised. (An added factor, as Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain points out, is that revenue from corporate taxes is 6 percent lower than expected, and is actually down in absolute terms, even though corporate profits are booming. And corporate taxes make up a shrinking share of the state budget, due to tax breaks.)
Of course, the overall doesn’t get done much in an era of news nibbles via Twitter. And many like to hype the surprise when the overall becomes impossible to miss.
Which brings us to an interesting question. Does the air of shock around the latest in California’s chronic budget crisis count as a failure of Brown’s communications strategy? Or as a success? After all, a bad shock may be what the electoral doctor ordered for Brown’s November revenue initiative. I assume he noticed that the numbers weren’t being added up in the press. …
Which leads us to the coming campaign.
Last week, Brown and his allies turned in 1.5 million signatures for his initiative, about twice as many signatures as needed to qualify his November revenue initiative, and about twice as many as turned in by heiress Molly Munger’s minions for her income tax hike-for nearly all boost for schools, a zombie presence on the ballot which trails badly in all polling. But many of those signatures will be invalid, as they always are, which accounts for the overage.
While a number of consultants, strategists, and advisers 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 was unfortunate for them both, because my observation was that Smith did a very good job teaming up with Brown and Anne Gust Brown, who always plays a senior management role.
That view may have been part of his vision of how things would play out in presidential politics. Smith picked Hillary Clinton as the future, serving as her state director in California, where she managed to beat Barack Obama, and in Texas, where Clinton and Obama split the dual primary/caucus contest. Villaraigosa was a national co-chair for Hillary, and as one of the country’s highest-profile Latinos would have loomed very large as a Clinton administration ally.
Brown, in contrast, ran against Bill Clinton in 1992, ending up the distant runner-up for the nomination, and was neutral in the race between Hillary and Obama.
But Hillary did not become president, and no one has ever beaten a Brown for a statewide Democratic nomination in California. This is a streak that goes back to 1946.
Villaraigosa dropped out of the Democratic primary race against Brown, as did everyone else.
But the relationship was not easy to patch up. Smith did aid Brown’s 2010 campaign with some independent expenditure efforts early on, which Brown appreciated. His committee, however, did not become the principal independent expenditure effort. …
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says it’s up to Oakland owner Lew Wolff to decide whether to consider additional sites for a new ballpark for the Athletics, raising the possibility of a move from the Bay Area.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but state Democratic legislative leaders are still talking about alternatives to some of the actual cuts in Governor Jerry Brown’s latest budget.
** MAD MEN: DANGER! SLIPPERY WHEN SOAPY (ESPECIALLY IN DARK SHADOWS). … From my May 15th review.
** NUCLEAR’S ONCE BRIGHT AND SHINY FUTURE BLINKS OUT. …From my May 12th essay.
** 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.
** 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 $92 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $58 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 $22 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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