On Monday, President Obama made his first public comments on Standard & Poor’s downgrade of its U.S. stock rating from AAA to AA+ that sent stock indexes into a worldwide tailspin and the Dow Jones industrials into its biggest one-day point drop since December 2008. Despite insisting that the U.S. would always be a “AAA nation” and that investors still consider it a desirable place for their money, Obama expressed hope that the downgrade to AA+ would spur Congress to resolve its political gridlock over tax reforms, entitlement programs, and the national debt. Now, this morning stocks rallied with heavy trading across the board. Does this mean the crisis is over? And lawmakers are in recess, most of them left the capitol last week for their districts. Will they return to attempt to quell the crisis?
Two of the GOP's presidential contenders hail from Minnesota. While one has been impossible to ignore -- especially on the cover of Newsweek right now -- the other is barely punching through single digits in the polls. But Tim Pawlenty says his is “not a shooting star campaign.” Speaking with reporters in Iowa this week, he added “I’m not doing this to get a cable TV show or some sort of gig down the road. I’m doing it because the country’s in trouble, and we need real leadership to solve the real problems and that’s what I offer.” The weight of Pawlenty's experience comes from his two terms as governor of Minnesota. As early as 2005, he was rumored for a Republican presidential candidacy. Instead, he worked closely on Senator John McCain's 2008 run for the Oval. Pawlenty watchers say the man has been methodical in planning his ascendency to a presidential run. But could that planning be his undoing in an unpredictable political climate? If Pawlenty isn't the sizzle, is he the steak? Why did he seek political office in the first place? Where is he coming from and where could he go? AirTalk will profile Tim Pawlenty with two seasoned political journalists from Pawlenty's home state.
This week Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 459, a bill committing California to National Popular Vote, an interstate initiative meant to change states’ system of awarding their electoral votes to better reflect the national popular vote. Instead of awarding all of California’s 55 Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes statewide, AB 459 would award all of the votes to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide. California joins eight other states, including New Jersey, Illinois. Vermont and Massachusetts, to sign on to the compact so far, which brings the total of committed electoral votes up to 132 of the 270 required for the initiative to take effect. Opponents of the movement fear that abolishing the current system would hand the voting advantage to Democrats in California; in fact, no strong Republican state has come out in support of NPV. Former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed previous versions of the bill in 2006 and 2008, and on Friday, the Republican National Committee near-unanimously passed a resolution opposing the initiative.
On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 413 into law. The bill, authored by Yolo County Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada allows an all-mail voting pilot project in Yolo County and sets up a new system to analyze the effects of all-mail ballot voting on local elections and report those findings back to the Legislature. As the administration and cost of traditional poll voting has becomes increasingly burdensome to local districts, more and more voters are choosing to exercise their right-to-vote by choosing permanent Vote by Mail (VBM) status. Under AB 413, the Yolo County Clerk-Recorder will be able to conduct up to three local elections using mail ballots as the primary voting system but these elections would not be held on the same date as general or statewide elections. At least one polling location per city will remain open on Election Day for people who are unable or prefer not to vote by mail and secure ballot drop off locations will be available for the convenience of voters using mail-in ballots. Would you like California to adopt a mail-in voting system for all state elections if it could save the state millions of dollars?
The Kronish House, designed in 1954 by Richard Neutra was set to be demolished by its owners but a recent contentious city council meeting put a stop to those plans. Beverly Hills is one of the few areas in southern California that doesn’t have an historic preservation ordinance on its books. But that could change. Mayor Barry Brucker says the city needs to have some kind of law in place but the issue hasn’t come up before because most residents willingly restore historic homes in the area. In this case though an investment group bought the home out of foreclosure and it’s in pretty bad shape. Real estate experts say in could be salvaged, but the owners think they can get a lot more for the property if the lot is empty. The fact is they own it. Don’t they have the right to do what they want with it? Or does preserving the mid-century masterpieces of southern California trump property rights?
What do you get when you mix politics with sex? Lots of lurid headlines followed by... the inevitable dropping off of the radar. As part of our "The Update" series, AirTalk revisits some of the most salacious scandals of the year from Arnold Schwarzenegger's lovechild and divorce (he was seen celebrating his birthday with Maria last weekend!) to the latest on the sexual assault case of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, plus Oregon Congressman David Wu's recent resignation. And let's not forget Weiner-gate. What does our collective fascination with the ongoing interplay of sex and power in politicians' private lives tell us about our government today? Should public figures be held accountable for their private behavior? What if our founding fathers were held to the same scrutiny that the 24 hour news cycle enables? If Ben Franklin had a Twitter account or Thomas Jefferson had a Facebook page, we would have a lot more insight into their personal relationships, but would it have changed the course of our nation's political development?
After 29-year-old Mark Duggan was fatally shot by police officers, riots started to mount on Saturday in Tottenham, London. Since then, the violence has risen to unexpected levels. Prime Minister David Cameron cut his holiday short and returned to London this morning to deal with the situation. Yesterday evening, British news reported arsons, violence, theft in at least 8 neighborhoods of London and more than 250 people brought in custody. As the violence started to spread to other cities of England, the police force outnumbered by the rioters were unable to contain the incivilities. Today the Prime minister has rallied the forces and has ordered 16000 policemen to patrol the streets. Is this an act of desperation? A reaction to the budget cuts hitting the lower social classes harder? Or is it just hooliganism?