Egypt’s first presidential election since last year’s revolution toppled veteran dictator Hosni Mubarak wrapped up today without major incident. Some polling indicates that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, a USC alum, is leading. Official results are due on May 29th.
** QUICK HITS. Having passed an intricate series of tests early this morning after matching orbits and rendezvousing with the International Space Station, the Dragon spacecraft from California’s SpaceX Corp. is scheduled to dock with the space station tomorrow morning. The protocol for the first private spacecraft to journey to the ISS begins at 2 AM Pacific. If each step goes well, it should be accomplished by 6 AM Pacific. … While it is working with NASA, which can override as the spacecraft gets close to the ISS, SpaceX is running the operation out of its mission control center in Hawthorne, which is a few miles from Los Angeles International Airport. … Governor Jerry Brown will speak on Friday morning at the 75th anniversary ceremony for the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is a little older. He’ll be at Bridge Plaza around 10 AM. … The Egyptian presidential candidate who has taken a lead in some exit polls after the two-day round of voting on Wednesday and Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, has a PhD in engineering from the the University of Southern California. He went on to teach for several years in the ’80s at Cal State Northridge, also in Los Angeles. The USC alum’s two kids were born in California and are US citizens.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD (TAKE 2) and OBAMA AFTER THE IRAN NEGOTIATIONS AND THE NATO SUMMIT.
** NEW SURVEY: THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE, BROKEN DOWN BY WORK CATEGORY. A new Gallup Poll survey has some pretty interesting information on how President Barack Obama and conservative challenger Mitt Romney have strong appeal to intriguingly different groups by work classification.
Obama is the champion of professionals, and of service workers. Those are the two biggest slices of voters by work category.
Romney is the champion of business owners, executives — no surprise with either — and sales workers.
That’s very intriguing. I need to think about that one, rather than offer instant analysis.
The two are tied among office workers, and Romney leads among a swath of much smaller worker groups, such as construction and mining employees, and other small categories of blue collar workers.
Why would blue collar voters back Romney? Let’s think about that. Meanwhile …
Barack Obama has a significant lead over Mitt Romney among the 24% of American working voters who are classified as professionals, and among the 13% who are service workers. The two are tied among clerical and office workers. Romney leads among all other job categories, including in particular the small segments of voters who work in farming and fishing, construction, and who own a business. He also has an edge among executives and managers. …
Different types of American working voters have differing demographic characteristics, and given that these characteristics are related to political preferences, it is not surprising to find that workers’ vote choice is related to the type of work they do.
Support for the two major-party candidates by job category doesn’t follow strict socioeconomic class lines. Professional workers, who tend to be more highly educated than the average worker in America today, are more liberal and Democratic than average, and accordingly tilt toward support of Obama. On the other hand, traditionally blue-collar, less well-educated groups of construction, manufacturing, and installation or repair workers tilt strongly toward Romney. Business owners and managers or executives strongly support Romney, an MBA and former business executive, over Obama. …
The euro has fallen to its lowest level against the dollar in almost two years, following Wednesday’s late night meeting in Brussels. The talks in Belgium were meant to come up with an agreement on how to tackle the eurozone crisis. But no deal has been reached.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD (TAKE 2) and OBAMA AFTER THE IRAN NEGOTIATIONS AND THE NATO SUMMIT.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in California and Iowa.
Obama attended a fundraiser early this morning at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California.
At 10 AM Pacific, he departs San Jose on Air Force One en route Newton, Iowa.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Des Moines.
At 1:55 PM Pacific, Obama tours TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer, in Newton, Iowa.
At 2:15 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks urging Congress to act on his “To Do List” in Newton.
At 4:55 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center in Des Moines.
At 6:20 PM Pacific, Obama departs Des Moines on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 8:30 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 8:45 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
I’m told that all Obama fundraisers in the San Francisco Bay Area last night and this were sold out. Another very big Golden State take for the prez is in the offing.
David Crosby and Graham Nash sang at an event last night in Atherton, and Oscar nominee Don Cheadle appeared and spoke on Obama’s behalf.
Obama joked that he wouldn’t tell people about his basketball game with Cheadle, a pledge which Cheadle reportedly appreciated. I don’t think Obama has played basketball with Crosby and Nash.
More to follow on these Silicon Valley-oriented events, which I believe raised upward of $4 million.
The latest round of negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program continued today in Baghdad between Iran and the permanent five UN Security Council members (US,UK, France, Russia, China) and Germany.
The international powers are pushing for Iran to limit its nuclear enrichment program, especially pulling back from the 20% level from which further enrichment to weapons grade is far easier. Iran claims it needs all that enrichment for a medical reactor.
Iran countered with an entirely new proposal, which among other things demands a pullback from the sanctions which are having a significant impact.
No meeting of the minds has taken place. With Baghdad’s airport closed due to a major sand storm, some informal talks continued.
Iran and the six major powers will reconvene for another round of meeting in three-and-a-half weeks.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s presidential election continued today.
There have been no major disturbances thusfar.
I’ll write a lot more about this, along with the just concluded NATO summit in Chicago, when the massive round of geopolitical summitry, all of it connected, is concluded.
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.
Very early this morning, the Dragon spacecraft from California’s SpaceX successfully rendezvoused with the International Space Station, matching orbits with the ISS at over 17,000 miles per hour as it successfully performed an intricate series of test maneuvers in advance of Friday’s planned docking, as seen in this NASA video shot by ISS astronauts.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown signed legislation yesterday to expedite a big solar project in Southern California.
Meanwhile, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows that support for the latest tobacco tax initiative has dropped sharply. No doubt due to the avalanche of tobacco industry advertising against it. But a term limits reform measure, which would cut the overall number of years a state legislator could serve from 14 to 12 while allowing all those years to be served in one house, is holding strong over 60%.
The poll also has Brown’s job approval dipping, with approval of his performance now matched by disapproval, with both in the low 40s.
This amounts to a drop of a few points from his usual mid to high 40s range in all polls, and a rise of disapproval, possibly from undecided ranks. (These numbers are among “likely voters.” Among all California adults, Brown is still in plus territory, though not by much.)
The poll was taken during the height of media coverage of the “surprise,” as many portrayed it, that the state’s budget deficit is significantly higher than projected in Brown’s January budget proposal, which the legislature has not acted on.
The poll also found that support for Brown’s November revenue initiative went up slightly. It has a lead of nearly 20 points.
Among other findings on a variety of topics — this poll doesn’t go in depth — is the latest confirmation that most voters reject the budget cuts that would be necessary if Brown’s initiative does not pass.
The rise in the budget deficit between the January introduction and the annual “May revise” is only a surprise to those who didn’t bother to add up the numbers contained in the reports issued regularly by Brown and other state officials.
Any journalist who affected surprise, and there are some, either didn’t bother to pay attention, can’t do arithmetic, or is being dishonest.
The fact that Brown didn’t add it all up for everyone and present it with a bow before his revised budget may well have helped his initiative, creating a sense of surprise since journalists hadn’t bothered to write up the emerging overall before it was presented to them.
That includes me, of course, but I had noticed the rising numbers and mentioned them dozens of times here and elsewhere.
But, if the poll, taken during the height of coverage of the budget “surprise,” is accurate, it’s hurt his numbers.
However, I have a feeling that his job approval may be going back up in the not terribly distant future.
** MAD MEN: A GREAT LEAPER FORWARD? JOAN, JAG, DON’S RETURN TO ADVERTISING (AND OTHER, ER, TREKS).
“Prepare for a great leap forward!”
– Chairman Mao Zedong, er, Don Draper
“Christmas Waltz” is an improved episode of Mad Men in this uneven fifth season of a longtime great TV series, an episode with a very welcome return to advertising. Too much of this season has been taken up with some fairly arbitrary soap opera doings.
The show is at its best, and most important, when the drama revolves around the advertising business. It’s the reason it’s called Mad Men, after all, and not, say, Unhappy People.
This season, not incidentally, after reaching new highs early on, ratings have slumped to the lowest level since Season 3. This latest episode, in fact, is the lowest-rated episode in this decade, with viewership little more than half that of the highly anticipated Season 5 premiere.
It’s not a surprise here, after the hairpin plotting that marked the first half of this season. Megan’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” birthday burlesque and Roger’s LSD trip were clever Twitter material, but didn’t really go anywhere. The agency losing the nearly-won Jaguar account when the almost-client’s wife discovered chewing gum in his pubic hair after the guys take him to a high-end bordello was a twist, all right, but it didn’t make much sense. Pete Campbell’s sudden, rather inexplicable, plunge into what many fans viewed as a pre-suicidal tailspin whetted an appetite for anticipatory destruction among many, but also didn’t go anywhere.
Actually, it’s Pete Campbell who is getting Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce back on an upward trajectory. With Jaguar.
The Jaguar exec from the bordello adventure has, conveniently, gotten himself fired, so his wife’s injunction against those bad-boy influencers at SCDP has no meaning. And Pete has been working Jaguar hard, recognizing how the car company from Coventry, England, can be the signature client that the agency needs to break through into the top ranks. Pete has made SCDP a finalist for the Jaguar account.
Jaguar Cars, Ltd. does not make baked beans. It makes what will be seen as the most iconic sports car of the 1960s, the Jaguar E-Type. (Known in the Austin Powers movies as the “Shaguar.”) Which, in the U.S. market, with some federal regulatory changes in place, is called the Jaguar XKE.
It makes the sort of product through the advertising of which Mad Men can again become a prism on the era. …
From my May 23rd review.
** A BUCKET OF WOE: JERRY BROWN’S UNSURPRISINGLY UNHAPPY BUDGET. … From my May 16th essay.
** 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 $91 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $57 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 $23 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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