President Barack Obama drew laughs during a celebrity-led fundraiser in Los Angeles when he poked fun at his debate performance against conservative Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … GEOPOLITICS: OBAMA FACES BIG CHALLENGES DESPITE DEBATE WINNER ROMNEY’S LATEST POLICY WHIFF.
** QUICK HITS. Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning today at the University of California at Davis for four Democratic congressional candidates, came out strong for the Prop 30 revenue initiative and against the Prop 32 anti-public employee union campaign funding initiative. Speaking of the now rampant unregulated spending, Clinton said: “The Citizens United decision hung a for sale sign on the seal of the United States. It is a disgrace.” … With war talk from Israel quieting down, for now, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu tonight announced that he is disbanding his government and calling early elections. His mostly right-wing coalition has been unable to agree on budget cuts, so next year’s parliamentary elections are being moved up from October 2013 to February.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in California, Ohio, and Washington DC.
Obama left San Francisco at 9:25 AM Pacific on Air Force One, en route to Columbus, Ohio.
At 1:20 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Columbus, Ohio.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a rally at Ohio State University in Columbus.
At 4:15 PM Pacific, Obama departs Columbus on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 5:25 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 5:40 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama’s just wrapped up what may be his last visit to California before the election.
It was a trip heavy on fundraising, raising nearly $10 million in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Areas, and on icononography.
Obama fundraiser John Emerson, a former top Bill Clinton aide, noted that Katy Perry, Jennifer Hudson, and Steve Wonder all shone at the campaign concert at the Nokia Theater in downtown LA, where George Clooney and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivered pitches for the president. In a private fundraiser for Obama, former President Bill Clinton delivered an upbeat message about the course of the Obama campaign in the swing states, where he will spend a great deal of time down the stretch.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, former state Controller Steve Westly reported, Obama’s Northern California contingent more than held their own with the Southland crew, though their concert didn’t have quite the star power of LA. John Legend was the featured musical artist. San Francisco 49er stars such as quarterback Alex Smith, suddenly leading the NFL in passer rating, and big play tight end Vernon Davis turned out again to stump with the president.
Obama dedicated a new national memorial to legendary farm workers union leader and Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez at his old home in the mountains outside Bakersfield. Obama’s dedication of the memorial will resonate across Latino and Hispanic communities throughout the US.
Mitt Romney, who has closed most of the gap with Obama in polling since last Wedneday’s debate, is campaigning in swing state Iowa today.
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 GETS AN OCTOBER SURPRISE. Gov. Jerry Brown is preparing his next moves in a campaign for the Proposition 30 revenue initiative, which just got much more been complicated at the end of last week by the intervention of a few billionaires operating behind the shield of an outfit called the Small Business Action Committee. Funneling the money through the group means that the true source of funding goes unrevealed on TV ads, which is required by state campaign reform law.
Brown’s plans to match his big budget cuts with new revenues were already somewhat complicated by heiress Molly Munger’s rival income-tax-hike-for-the-schools initiative. But a much bigger threat emerged in dramatic fashion late last week. Not that it doesn’t center on the Munger family, however.
Molly Munger’s Prop 38 was underwater from the start, and has stayed there, despite her spending nearly $30 million of her money, inherited from her father Charles Munger, the multi-billionaire partner of Warren Buffett.
Prop 30, in contrast, has been in the 50s all along, despite the presence of Munger’s initiative and in defiance of the prevalent theory that the presence of it and another tax-related measure, that of equity fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer would also create too much confusion for voters, dooming all three.
Steyer’s initiative would — or I should say, will, because it is going to pass — close a convoluted corporate tax loophole created as part of then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s urgent deal to enact an overall tax increase in 2009. Steyer’s measure will redirect the $1 billion a year reaped by out-of-state corporations to renewable energy development and to state budget balancing efforts.
While Molly Munger, an attorney in LA, said Sunday on an LA interview show that she is likely to start criticizing Brown’s initiative in ads, it’s Charlie Munger who is the bigger problem. Charlie Munger, Jr., that is, the Bay Area physicist who is another mega-rich child of Buffett’s business partner.
I wrote about the prospect of this happening in “Jerry Brown: Gearing Up a Campaign at Last?” here a few weeks ago. Now it is quite real.
Munger, who has been known as a major political reform advocate for his role in helping pass redistricting reform in California, is avoiding the state’s reform legislation requiring full disclosure of the major funders of campaigns by pushing massive amounts through the Small Business Action Committee.
By pushing the money through the SBAC, it is the SBAC — which is a small business-representing committee in the way that I would be a middle class-representing committee if I set up a bank account and website called the Middle Class Action Committee — that shows up on the TV ad identifiers and not the real source of the money. And, while Munger is still trying to help pass the Prop 32 initiative to eliminate payroll deductions for public employee union political campaigns, much of that money is going to the “No on 30″ campaign, which has booked millions in TV and radio air time.
After raising very little all year, in the last several weeks the SBAC has suddenly raised about $20 million, mostly from Munger, Jr., with all but a few dollars coming from extremely rich people, including a few other billionaires, a few corporations, and an elite Republican fundraising group.
Joel Fox, the career anti-tax/pro-shrink government advocate who appears to be the only ongoing member of the SBAC, ought to drop the “S” and call it the Billionaire Action Committee.
In addition to the irony of Munger, someone known as a political reformer, sliding around the state’s campaign advertising disclosure law by using the SBAC to veil his massive spending, there is the irony that one of the major complaints about Prop 30 is that not enough in the way of public pension reform has been achieved to justify it.
With the sort of money the Mungers and the other mega-rich folks spending through the Small Business Action Committee are throwing around, a public pension reform initiative could definitely take flight in this state.
But the campaign to do such an initiative died aborning, removing a key element that Brown needed to push for more through legislation.
It would seem that, protestations to the contrary, trying to defeat tax increases for the rich is a much bigger real priority than trying to enact more in the way of public pension reform.
Schwarzenegger got what his spokespeople, including the current spokesman for “No on 30,” described as “historic across-the-board pension reform” enacted two years ago. Brown expanded on that this year, while acknowledging there is more to be done. But with a pension reform initiative going nowhere, he had no additional leverage.
The Small Business Action Committee provides an intriguing veil for the funding of the “No on 30″ campaign. It’s a political action committee run by career anti-tax/small government activist Joel Fox, an amiable fellow who was the director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. He runs a blog called Fox and Hounds, almost entirely written by conservative to very conservative activists and lobbyists, and gets involved, usually on the very conservative side 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 website.
No board of directors is cited, no board of advisers — well, you get the picture. I believe that James Lacy, 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. In the last few weeks it has received around $20 million from just a few sources, mostly Charles Munger, Jr.
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.
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, who ran for the legislature in 2004 and was elected state insurance commissioner in 2006 as a moderate Republican, went hard right in his run for the 2010 gubernatorial nomination.
Munger then became a big backer of political reform.
Which makes his biggest financial venture to date in politics all the more ironic.
Heiress Molly Munger today joined her brother, Charlie Jr., in a stereo attack on Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 revenue initiative.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown is preparing his next moves in a campaign for the Proposition 30 revenue initiative which has been complicated by the intervention of a few billionaires operating behind the shield of the Small Business Action Committee.
That’s principally Charlie Munger, Jr., son of mega-billionaire Charles Munger, Sr., Warren Buffett’s investment partner.
Today his sister, heiress Molly Munger, who has spent some $30 million on her underwater-from-the-start income tax hike-for-nearly-all school funding scheme, Prop 38, launched TV ads attacking Prop 30.
It’s the super-rich Mungers in stereo now, attacking Prop 30.
On Monday, Brown moved to stanch suddenly rising gasoline prices by successfully urging the Air Resources Board to allow winter blend gasoline refining in advance of the usual change-over.
Meanwhile, Brown’s predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, appeared last night on The Tonight Show.
He again expressed great regret for the scandal which disrupted his family and marriage to Maria Shriver. He then went on to comment humorously on various photos in his autobiography, Total Recall, bantering with host Jay Leno about secretly advising Obama on debate strategy.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: SCHWARZENEGGER’S COMEBACK PROCEEDS WITH A BIG (NATURALLY) BOOK. … From my October 5th essay.
** BOND AT 50: DR. NO IS A TIME CAPSULE FROM THE EARLY MAD MEN ERA. … From my October 4th essay.
** OBAMA PASSES THROUGH THE MINEFIELD OF U.N. WEEK (BUT SETS UP A POTENTIAL EXPLOSION NEXT YEAR). … From my September 28th essay.
** IS POST-PARTISANSHIP PASSE? SCHWARZENEGGER AND COMPANY (AND BILL CLINTON) SAY NO. … From my September 26th column.
** DETHRONED: MAD MEN‘S DOWN SEASON OPENED THE DOOR FOR A SUPERLATIVE HOMELAND. … From my September 24th column.
** JERRY BROWN: GEARING UP A CAMPAIGN AT LAST? … From my September 22nd feature.
** 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.
** 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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