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This is where the rebound begins | ticker VIEWS

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THE GOVERNOR, THE PRESIDENT AND THE CALIFORNIA REBOUND

President Joe Biden will be in California on Monday, campaigning to ensure that Gavin Newsom, the state’s governor, will not be ousted from office by the voters in an orgy of political nihilism

Guess what:  Newsom is going to win – and Biden will get a jolt to bring his political fights in Washington on his domestic agenda to a successful conclusion.

US President Joe Biden on jobs
US President Joe Biden on jobs

A century ago, California’s progressive reformers, seized with the urgency of taking on corporate barons who were exploiting their dominance over commerce and development, enacted a major legislative reform for its frontier democracy

California’s voters could recall their elected officials before an election was due.  This would hold them ever-accountable to their responsibilities of office.

However, after a wave of initial progressive power, with several officials ousted, its use lapsed.  It took until 2003 for Democratic Gov Gray Davis to be replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tumultuous recall fight.

Newsom was mayor of San Francisco and lieutenant governor for 15 years. Popular and able, he easily won the governorship in 2018 — a very strong Democratic year, with California, now a majority-minority state in racial composition, one of the bluest states in the union. And one of the most consequential, with the fifth largest economy in the world – much larger than Australia’s.

But Newsom has been tested by Covid, which has ravaged the state, kept schools and offices closed, and driven forces that further separated the wealthiest from the rest

The wildfires are also now relentless and still out of control, driving thousands from their homes and blackening the environment.   With poor health and an uneven economy, California has lost population for the first time ever.  

In a testy time, with leaders not able to hold a commanding political position, the grassroots can explode like the forests, seeking to punish those in office and find new leaders

Newsom is blessed with a field of over 40 Republicans who are essentially unknown mediocrities (radio host Larry Elder has some prominence) or, in the case of the inevitable celebrity like Caitlin Jenner, not credible.

While it really does take someone to beat someone, Newsom will win because in the face of the Biblical afflictions across California, he has been steady on the science and the public health measures necessary to bring the pandemic under control – vaccine mandates, and sensible rules on masks and commerce – and because he is leading the fight on the fires and tying their prevalence to the climate crisis.  

Newsom is capitalizing politically on the climate syllogism we felt here in the bushfire conflagration of 2019

“Climate change equals drought, equals bushfires, equals destruction, equals smoke:  Act!”  The Republicans are out of step on climate with voters in California no less than conservatives here in Australia.

There is a parallel mood on the pandemic:  enough already with the unvaccinated; we want to return to normal life.  Or as President Biden put it last week, “We have been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us. The unvaccinated minority can cause a lot of damage and they are.”

Newsome also stands – together with California’s own Kamala Harris, now Vice President, who campaigned with him last week – as a proud Democrat faithful to all the party’s ideals.

Newsom has therefore put together the triple play to win the game:  climate, pandemic, and an uprising of the middle to defeat the extremist populism embodied by Trump – a corrosive populism that suppresses voting rights and women’s rights, especially for abortion.

Biden is campaigning in California to capitalise on Newsom’s impending victory. 

Everywhere Biden has travelled over the past two weeks, from Louisiana to New Jersey and New York, he has tied the catastrophic floods to climate change.  He will do the same with the fires in California.  And he ties this new climate reality to the urgent need for his massive infrastructure rebuild for America to pass Congress.  

Biden will use Newsom’s leadership on the pandemic to buttress his own aggressive measures last week to get the rest of the country vaccinated and bring the virus under control

Biden will champion women’s rights in California so that the state will never experience what is occurring to women in Texas, which has outlawed abortion after the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

And Biden will use California to marshal all these forces to keep Democrats united and together on the offensive to pass his legislative program in the coming weeks.

With victory in California, Biden expects two other Democrats to use this same playbook to win their races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey in November.

Biden is hurting after Afghanistan, and with the pandemic not yet under control as he promised – and that is taking the edge off the economic recovery, adding to his loss of some political capital as is evident in the polls.

This is why Biden is in California, because this is where his rebound begins.

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World

Russia suffers its deadliest day on the battlefield

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Russia has also claimed to have killed large numbers of Ukrainian troops in recent weeks

 
The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday the previous 24 hours had been the deadliest of the war so far for Russian troops since Moscow launched its invasion almost a year ago.

Ukraine increased its running tally of Russian military dead by 1,030 overnight.

Reuters has been unable to verify that report, and Russia has also claimed to have killed large numbers of Ukrainian troops in recent weeks.

Tallies of enemy casualties from either side are often seen as unreliable.

But Kyiv’s assertion that the fighting was the deadliest so far fits descriptions from both sides of an escalating campaign of intense warfare.

Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk region are operating this Soviet-era Grad rocket system.

The battle in the east comes amid reports of disorganization in Kyiv.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in recent weeks dismissed several senior officials in moves seen as an effort to show Western allies he would take on corruption, and prove himself a reliable steward for billions of dollars in desperately needed military aid.

On Sunday, a politician in Zelenskiy’s party said Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced.

A day later that same politician said no changes would be made this week.

Zelenskiy did not comment, but on Tuesday called for an end to “rumors or any other pseudo-information” which he said could undermine unity in war.

Whatever Reznikov’s fate, he was seen welcoming his German counterpart in Kyiv on Tuesday

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius made the surprise trip a day after his government’s security council approved the delivery of 178 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine. That decision comes atop Germany’s choice last month to deliver the more-modern Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv.

Reznikov tweeted a picture of him and Pistorius posing with a scale model Leopard tank, writing “the ‘first’ Leopard 2 has arrived in Kyiv.”

Pistorius also met with Zelenskiy.

The Ukrainian leader said recent promises of heavy weapons from Europe and the United States could give Kyiv “parity” – but not an advantage – on the battlefield. #trending #featured

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World

“The state of the union is strong”

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U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his second State of the Union address to a joint session of congress

U.S. President Joe Biden has delivered his second State of the Union address, sparring with Republicans and appealing for bipartisanship.

With the sitting president eying off the possibility of running for a second term in office, he needs to deliver real change and get the public back on side.

In a show of unity, Biden began his address by congratulating the incumbent House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

This is the first time Biden has addressed a GOP-controlled House.

The theme of today’s speech was certainly optimism for the future.

Biden trying very hard to convince the American people his administration is equipped to lead the nation through these turbulent economic times.

Economic uncertainty

The country’s economy was front and centre, with Biden noting it has recovered more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic than many other major markets.

Inflation’s at a record high, and while it’s beginning to cool after hitting 9.1 per cent, Americans aren’t feeling the impact just yet.

In fact, only only 21 per cent of residents rate the current economic conditions as positive.

Biden’s legislative achievements were front and centre

Biden’s legislative achievements include a sweeping health and climate package, an infrastructure law and investments in the semiconductor industry.

All federal infrastructure projects will need to have materials which have been made in America.

Biden says his economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten.

The president believes too many people have been left behind.

Biden took aim at big business

As America suffers through an energy crisis, the president says oil companies have pocketed $200 billion in profits.

He says corporations should do the right thing.

Climate change was also addressed

Biden has promised to build new storm resistant power grids, roads, electric vehicle infrastructure, while providing tax credits for residents who want to purchase their own EV.

When it comes to global warming – Biden wants to “finish the job”.

Taxing the rich

Biden reiterated his promise not to tax anyone who earns under 400,000 a year.

“No billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter,” he said.

When it comes to the debt ceiling, Biden warned Republicans not to attempt to cut social security or medicare benefits.

The U.S. hit the debt ceiling set by Congress in January, forcing Treasury to start taking extraordinary measures to keep the government paying its bills.

House Republicans say they will only lift the borrowing if the government introduces spending cuts.

“Folks – as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be touched,” Biden said. “We’ve got unanimity!”

“Let’s all agree, and apparently we are, let’s stand up for seniors,” he said. “Stand up and show them! We will not cut Social Security; we will not cut Medicare.”

He added: “If anyone tries to cut Social Security – which apparently no one is going to do – I’ll stop them. I’ll veto it.”

Police brutality

Perhaps unsurprisingly, safety and police brutality were featured in the address.

Biden made a point of acknowledging the parents of late Tyre Nichols.

29-year-old Nichols was beaten to death by police officer in Memphis.

His death has renewed calls for police reform and reignited a national conversation on justice in policing.

Biden’s message: “They must be held accountable”.

Gun reform and abortion rights

Biden reignited calls for gun reform – calling for a ban on assault weapons.

It follows the recent mass shooting in Monetary Park, California.

Abortion rights are a hot topic in the United states.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in late June 2022, repealing a nationwide protections for the procedure which were put in place 50 years ago.

If Congress attempts to pass a national ban on abortion, Biden says he will veto it.

The infamous Chinese balloon was also mentioned.

Biden says it’s never a good move to bet against America.

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World

U.S. President Joe Biden calls for bipartisanship

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Biden faces his classified documents scandal and investigations led by House Republicans into the border crisis and alleged corruption by the Biden family

All eyes will be on U.S. President Joe Biden as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening.

The speech will be before a new Congress and a new House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who will be sitting behind Biden.

This address comes as Biden is facing his classified documents scandal and investigations led by House Republicans into the crisis at the border and alleged corruption by the Biden family.

The Biden administration continues to face sky-high inflation and gas prices, an ever-growing border crisis, a national deficit and according to new polling a majority of American say they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Another headline that has captured the spotlight is Biden’s handling of the infamous Chinese spy balloon with criticism levelled against the President for allowing the spy craft to enter U.S. airspace and travel across the country for a solid week.

Currently, the U.S. Navy is using sonar equipment to collect debris from the Atlantic Ocean from the spy craft and transporting it to an FBI lab for analysis.

It remains to be seen if the President will speak about this international incident or express a harder line against China.

Following President Biden’s SOTU, newly-elected Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been tapped to deliver the Republican response.

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