The U.S. Navy is hosting forces from more than 20 nations in the largest naval exercise ever held in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The 12-day event is focused on contingency plans to deal with the prospect of Iran attempting to block the Strait of Hormuz.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … IS POST-PARTISANSHIP PASSE?
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Wisconsin.
On Saturday …
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
At 11:15 AM Pacific, Obama attends a campaign event at the Milwaukee Theater in Milwaukee.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Milwaukee Theater.
Incidentally, the Milwaukee Theater, in which Obama is holding that pair of fundraisers, was the place in which Theodore Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt during his 1912 Progressive “Bull Moose” run for the presidency.
After interrogating his would-be assassin, who had shot him in the chest, the former president went on to speak for more than an hour. TR never did have the bullet — the force of which was blunted somewhat by papers and his glasses case — removed from his body.
At 2:40 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee.
At 4:40 PM Pacific, Obama departs Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 7:20 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 7:35 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama has a significant lead in Wisconsin, despite the presence of homeboy Congressman Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate.
On Sunday …
Obama has no scheduled public events.
Here is what his week ahead looks like. You’ll note that it is especially flexible and rather truncated, to account for crisis management and emerging political moves.
The central events of the week are around the annual week of heads of government descending upon New York, a week that has special resonance with all the geopolitical turbulence and uncertainty in the world.
Obama will speak about the turmoil in the Islamic world during his address to the United Nations on Tuesday. This may be as important a speech as his Cairo address in 2009.
On Monday, Obama will travel to New York City to participate in the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. While in New York City, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will also tape an appearance on The View.
On Tuesday, Obama will deliver remarks to the UN General Assembly; the First Lady will attend the event. The President will then speak at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The President will return to the White House in the evening.
On Wednesday, Obama will travel to Bowling Green and Kent, Ohio for campaign events.
No scheduling information beyond Wednesday for Obama has been released.
Libyan protesters forced an armed jihadist group out of its base in Benghazi.
Conservative Republican rival Mitt Romney has no public events Saturday. He campaigned yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada, a key swing state where Obama continues to lead.
Congressman Dean Heller, running in a tight race for the U.S. Senate against Las Vegas Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, tellingly stayed away from his party’s standard-bearer in the Silver State. Heller, who represents most of rural Nevada, had no desire to get caught up in Romney’s comments about 47% of the country being deadbeats.
Meanwhile, Obama has plenty of crises to monitor and attempt to manage.
There were big violent demonstrations yesterday in Pakistan, where the government of our putative ally, key to the entire troubled AfPak strategy, called for a day of protest against the Innocence of Muslims movie. Presumably, at least in part, to channel and control sentiment.
If that was the intent, it doesn’t seem to have worked. There were big, violent demonstrations in Islamabad, Karachi, and elsewhere. As many as 20 protesters were killed in confrontations with police and security forces. That can’t have been part of the plan.
Anger was also further stirred up by the reckless French weekly which published highly derogatory satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad.
There were also big anti-American/anti-Western demonstrations Saturday in oil-rich Nigeria, which already boasted a jihadist insurgency.
But in Libya, there were major pro-American demonstrations, protests sparked by the assassination of popular Ambassador Chris Stevens. These demonstrations were much bigger than any of the anti-American protests so far.
In fact, the protesters chased an apparent Al Qaeda affiliated militia, the Ansar al-Sharia, out of its Benghazi headquarters.
A major US Navy exercise in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, aimed at practicing keeping the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic waters clear of mines, got underway Thursday. 24 other nations have joined the US in participating. It’s a 12-day long exercise.
Iran is not attempting to counter so far, at least on the water.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** JERRY BROWN: GEARING UP A CAMPAIGN AT LAST? It’s been a fairly quiet campaign season so far in California with the exception of Proposition 32, the effort to rein in campaign spending by public employee unions by taking away their ability to have automatic paycheck deductions from union members. That effort, of course, is not led by workers upset about the deductions, but by union critics upset about union clout.
It’s a big spending campaign, mostly on the No side, and will likely result in another defeat for the initiative proponents, with a new Field Poll showing it losing as I’ve been suggesting on my New West Notes site.
Why has the campaign season been so quiet? Well, Governor Jerry Brown’s m.o. — a lot of what I’ve called “stealth mode,” not always to the governor’s great pleasure — has a lot to do with that. He is still going through the raft of legislation produced this year. And there are some deeper reasons, which I’ll get to in a few moments. …
Brown has rolled out the Proposition 30 revenue initiative, which raise income taxes on high-income folks and sales taxes (to the tune of a quarter cent) on all on a temporary basis, on several occasions now. Yet the campaign has never been especially sustained, either on the yes or no side.
Now, with just over six weeks to go, the rubber must meet the road at last.
There’s a new Field Poll showing Prop 30 holding a 15-point lead, 51-36. That’s down a few points, which is within the margin of error of the poll, which was taken over an inordinately long period of time, nearly two weeks. Which means the undecided has gone up slightly.
The result comes after a spate of bad publicity for the initiative highlighting the state parks controversy and the controversial high-speed rail program. Which, as readers know, has its sources of funding separate from the state budget, not that that gets properly reported or anything.
Despite the controversy, Brown’s job approval rating has actually improved slightly, back up to the high 40s, with a 47-38 edge over those disapproving.
Intriguingly, the initiative, which is backed by more independents than oppose it is more favored, is more favored by relatively well-off voters than by lower income voters. That’s because it has an Achilles heel, in the form of the slight rise in the sales tax.
Absent the sales tax hike, Prop 30 would sail through.
So Brown is going to have to convince people that a little bit of shared sacrifice is necessary to avert a bad result for all.
Will he get out of stealth mode to do that?
Despite a subterranean $4 million from the Koch brothers interests, the Prop 32 initiative to remove public employee union ability to deduct political campaign funds from their members’ paychecks is trending rapidly down to defeat. This despite a cleverly constructed hook making the measure appear to be evenhanded in clamping down on corporate and labor spending, causing many observers to believe that the initiative would finally pass after two earlier failures. That means labor and the rest of the Democratic Party coalition can focus in on Brown’s temporary tax hike measure, Prop 30, which has been ahead all along.
But there is an intriguing wild card factor.
You already know about heiress Molly Munger’s role, spending mega-millions to promote her essentially stillborn Prop 38 initiative to impose an income tax hike on nearly all Californians to direct more funding to schools.
Now her brother, who is a physicist at Stanford — she’s a lawyer in LA — is in the game with a $4.1 million contribution at the beginning of the week to a shadowy outfit called the Small Business Action Committee (SBAC). Both Molly and Charlie, as he is known, are the children of billionaire investor Charles Munger, Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner.
True Cali political junkies know what the SBAC outfit is, but here it is for the rest. It’s a political action committee run by career anti-tax/small government activist Joel Fox, former director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. He runs a blog called Fox and Hounds, almost entirely written by conservatives to very conservative activists and lobbyists, and gets involved, usually on the far right side of things, in California campaigns.
In 2010, he used his Small Business Action Committee — of which I see no real evidence of small business involvement, aside from the committee itself — as a vehicle for nearly $2 million in attack ads against Brown. They were supposedly issue advocacy ads, so Fox refused to divulge the actual contributors.
But you can bet they weren’t small businesses. No one other than Fox himself is cited as a current member of the Small Business Action Committee on the entity’s web site.
No board of directors is cited, no board of advisors, well, you get the picture. I believe that James Lacey, a well-known hard right political lawyer, is the SBAC legal counsel. So that would make two members I know of.
In the first half of 2012, the Small Business Action Committee PAC raised about $60,000. Since then, it has raised about $4.75 million from three sources: Munger’s $4,091,499.84, (Interesting number, no?) $300,000 from Otter Capital, which is a private equity firm, and $350,000 from the New Majority PAC, a high-roller Republican fundraising group.
And not a small business among them.
Before his sister emerged from relative obscurity — I’d never heard of her before she surfaced as a big initiative proponent — Charlie Munger, as he is known, was the younger Munger of note in California political circles. I’ve met him a few times. He seems a nice guy.
His involvement in California politics has been decidedly on the mod Republican side till now. He only began in politics eight years ago as a volunteer in future former state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner’s 2004 Assembly race in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is before Poizner went hard right in his run for the 2010 gubernatorial nomination.
Munger then became a big backer of political reform measures, notably redistricting reform.
So what he is up to now?
Munger may have been motivated to try to clip the wings of public employee unions with Prop 32, which the SBAC, which is to say Joel Fox, is a longtime supporter of. But that is going to lose.
Fox, an amiable fellow I’ve known a long time, is one of the three co-chairs of the No on 30 campaign, along with the guy who replaced him as director of the Howard Jarvis group and another right-winger who has also made a career of opposing taxes. And that campaign has languished. The California Chamber of Commerce is formally neutral and Prop 30 has some major business support, as well as the staunch backing of labor and the Democratic Party.
Does Munger want his money to go to try to tip the balance on Prop 30? Does he want to change his image from amiable reformer to something else?
With Prop 32 now losing, the California Teachers Association has just given $3.5 million to Prop 30. That means its warchest is closing in on $20 million.
How would it look for a few really rich people to try to fund the case that voters should vote down a quarter cent sales tax hike when the great bulk of the tax hike is on rich people like themselves?
Some questions answer themselves.
Meanwhile, Brown has worked to demonstrate reform and increased governmental efficiency as he asks Californians to approve temporary tax hikes. …
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is continuing to go through bills from the recently concluded legislative session.
And he is working on his Prop 30 revenue initiative.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILES. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosts a one-day introductory conference for his new USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy on Monday at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
In the morning, following opening remarks by USC President President C. L. Max Nikias, Institute Global Director Bonnie Reiss, and Institute Academic Director Nancy Staudt, Schwarzenegger will lead a panel discussion of prominent U.S. senators and governors in a discussion of post-partisanship.
ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts will moderate the discussion between Schwarzenegger, U.S. Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, former New Mexico Governor and U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, and former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
The luncheon will feature Nobel Prize-winning Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr. Ravendra Pachauri in a discussion facilitated by LA broadcast journalist Conan Nolan with Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster on localizing approaches to global problems on climate, energy, and the environment.
In the afternoon, Schwarzenegger will lead another panel discussion, this one on the power of innovation from the standpoint of leaders in media and Hollywood. Moderated by BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith, the discussion with Schwarzenegger will be joined by director James Cameron, Universal Studios president Ron Meyer, Lionsgate co-chairman Rob Friedman, Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine, and Imagine Entertainment chairman Brian Grazer.
** HOW ROMNEY SHOULD HAVE ATTACKED OBAMA: ANATOMY OF A GEOPOLITICAL CRISIS. … From my September 19th essay.
** CONSIDERING THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY. … From my September 15th essay.
** WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SINCE 9/11? … From my September 11th essay.
** PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE ELEPHANT: THE CONVENTIONS AND THE CLIMATE. … From my September 8th essay.
** WHILE ONE CLINTON WOWS AT THE OBAMARAMA, ANOTHER PIVOTS TO THE LONG GAME. … From my September 6th essay.
** SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED WITH CLINT EASTWOOD? (AND THE PERILS OF ARGUING WITH IMAGINARY OBAMAS). … From my September 4th essay.
** AFTER THE ROMNEYRAMA, AND MORE SERIOUS MATTERS. … From my August 30th essay.
** SPACE, JERRY BROWN’S PLACE, AND A RACE. … From my August 27th essay.
** AN INSULAR ROMNEY STRUGGLES WITH HIS SURPRISINGLY HEARTFELT VEEP PICK AFTER STRIKING OUT INTERNATIONALLY. … From my August 23rd essay.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: INTRIGUE, ULTRA-VIOLENCE, HUMOR AND WHAT ELSE THAT IS MISSING FROM THE SCHWARZENEGGER REMAKES. … From my August 17th 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.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama criticizes the House of Representatives for leaving town without finishing important work on the economy. The House did have time to take a few dozen pointless votes to rescind the national health care law, however.
** 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 closed on Friday at $92.89 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $59 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 $21 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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