Quantum of Solace, the immediate sequel to the smash 2006 Bond franchise reboot Casino Royale, has just broken the domestic box office opening weekend record for a spy flick. It was already a big international hit. Here’s a scene from the film.
** NEW BOND FILM PROVES FIRST BLOCKBUSTER OF THE OBAMA ERA. Quantum of Solace is a huge hit, bigger than anticipated. Starring Obama booster Daniel Craig as James Bond, the immediate sequel to the smash 2006 franchise reboot, Casino Royale, set a new record for an opening weekend for a spy film at the domestic box office, taking in over $70 million. Meanwhile, the picture, which opened the weekend before last in Britain and several other nations, has now taken in $251.6 million at the international box office, giving it a stunning $322 million in global box office already.
The previous spy film opening weekend box office record holder, last year’s The Bourne Ultimatum, starred another Obama booster, Matt Damon.
I’ve seen the new film and am not ready yet for a full-on review, but Craig again plays Bond as Sean Connery-meets-Steve McQueen, with bigger acting chops. The film is pared down, not as elegant as Casino Royale, but far more action-packed. Which may make it even more internationally appealing than that big hit.
It also has a big political subtext. Which we’ll be getting to.
** SCHWARZENEGGER ON THIS WEEK. Governor Arnold Schwarznegger appeared Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He said that Hillary Clinton could be “a great move” as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state. He noted that the Republican Party is going in the wrong direction, as great Republican presidents of the past championed issues the far right eschews, with Teddy Roosevelt a champion of universal health care and the environment and Dwight Eisenhower a champion of infrastructure development.
He also said that he agrees with Obama that the US auto industry needs a bailout, but only if it is reformed in the process. And that he expects Prop 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative, to be thrown out by the California Supreme Court.
Schwarzenegger is touring fire hot spots today in Southern California.
** G-20 SUMMIT SETS A ROUTE, BUT DOESN’T PROVIDE THE TRANSPORT. Saturday’s G-20 (Group of 20 industrialized nations – actually 19 countries, some European, plus the European Union) summit in Washington laid out a different course for the global economy than that pushed by outgoing summit host President George W. Bush. But the details, as the BBC notes, are left waiting for the incoming Obama Administration.
The outline for the agreement was largely provided by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will assume the G-20 chairmanship for the next meeting of the group this spring in London.
Agreements made at the G20 global financial summit in Washington provide a “route map” to economic recovery, Gordon Brown has said. The prime minister hailed as “historic” the countries’ vow to act together to reverse the global economic slump. Commitments were made to boost growth and reform global financial markets.
The G-20 also agreed that international finance should come under a new form of international regulation, something the Bush/Cheney Administration staunchly resisted any discussion of until Wall Street’s epic crisis had a domino effect around the world. But the details are left to the advent of President Obama.
President-elect Barack Obama is turning the weekly presidential radio address into a video address as well. Here is the first such in the new weekly series.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama continues to hold private meetings and discussions in Chicago. His emissaries to the G-20 summit on the global financial crisis this weekend in Washington, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former Congressman Jim Leach, are holding private meetings with various foreign heads of government and finance ministers.
On Saturday, Obama presented his weekly radio address as president-elect, which he is making a weekly video address as well, as you see above. He will continue this practice every weekend through his inauguration as president of the United States on January 20th, and beyond.
In this address, he calls for the prompt adoption of a new package to further stimulate the economy and provide extended benefits to the unemployed. Failing that in the lame duck session, he says it will be his immediate priority following his inauguration.
Obama will meet on Monday with his Republican rival, John McCain, in his presidential transition headquarters in Chicago.
On Sunday, Obama resigns his seat in the U.S. Senate. Here is his statement: “It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate. In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who’ve taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children’s future. It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation’s next President.”
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is touring fire damage in Santa Barbara. He has declared states of emergency in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties due to the fire situations there. At 10 AM Saturday, he holds a briefing at Santa Barbara’s Earl Warren Showground.
On Sunday, Schwarzenegger appears on ABC’s This Week.
** MIAMI BLUES: PALIN AND NATIONAL REPUBLICANS LOOK LIKE THE SAD CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY. … From my new column.
** OBAMA’S AMERICA: OBSERVING THE OBSERVANCE OF VETERANS DAY. It’s just a week since the election of Barack Obama, and we’ve already seen a telling new approach to one of America’s most venerable holidays, Veterans Day.
President Bush downplayed the cost of war. He appeared frequently with able-bodied heroes he was decorating for bravery, but to my knowledge never attended even one of the thousands of funerals for those Americans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In stark contrast to this sweep-it-under-the-rug approach favored by the outgoing administration, the president-elect yesterday laid a simple wreath at Chicago’s Soldier Field to honor our nation’s military veterans. He was accompanied by Illinois veterans affairs director Tammy Duckworth, a decorated Iraq War veteran and Army major who lost both her legs when the helicopter she piloted was shot down by Iraqi insurgents.
Without making a big deal of it, Obama thus acknowledged the cost of war in a way that the current administration — which cut taxes and borrowed endlessly to finance its largely misbegotten strategies — has never dared. …
What is the meaning of Veterans Day in the Age of Obama? More to the point, what is the meaning of Veterans Day in the an age in which America is embroiled in two wars — one a war of retribution, the other a war of faulty strategy — in a world beset by Islamic jihadism and marked by an emerging multi-polarity?
Let’s start with a great irony. Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, established to mark the end of World War I. Which, as you know, was “the war to end all wars.” It didn’t work out that way.
Humanity is, in many respects, defined by the differences between us. That won’t be changing anytime soon. We do not live in a world in which pacifism is a winning approach.
We do live in a world in which military service is a necessity, and in which military force — or at least its highly credible threat, explicit or implicit — is necessary to pursue America’s strategic ends.
Which makes the determination of those strategic ends literally a matter of life and death. … From Wednesday’s column.
ATTENTION NEW WEST NOTES READERS: Now that the crush of the election season is out of the way, New West Notes is moving to its own server. I had planned to have the move, which these days can happen quite quickly and in a pretty straightforward way, completed over the weekend.
However, because of several underlying tech-related issues with Pajamas Media, there has been a delay. As it has always been, New West Notes will be available through NewWestNotes.com. So if you have bookmarked the Pajamas Media version, remember this instead … New West Notes is www.newwestnotes.com.
** THE AMERICA THAT CAN BE/THE AMERICA THAT HAS BEEN. It was the America That Can Be vs. the America That Has Been. The future won. Yet there is much in the past that is of enduring value.
I must say that this campaign, for all its excitement, its twists and turns, and its thrilling outcome, was something of a disappointment. In Barack Obama and John McCain, we had the two most compelling figures in the two parties, representatives of an emerging set of values and an enduring tradition. … From my Friday Huffington Post column.
** DEMOCRATS: THE NEW WESTERN STRATEGY IS PAYING OFF. The election hasn’t happened yet, so it’s too soon to start counting electoral votes from the Democrats’ new Western strategy. But the dramatic re-shaping of the electoral battlefield is already clear enough. While the current party leadership deserves credit for a new path to presidential power, much of the new Western strategy has long been championed by former Senator Gary Hart.
The new strategy came into clear focus, fittingly for a party that knew it had to gamble on a new route to the White House, in Las Vegas, in January 2007 over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. The snow on the famed Las Vegas Strip the day before seemed only a little less unlikely to many in the national media and political establishments than the new moves that were unfolding. … From my October 31st column.
** GLOBAL OBAMA: BIG OPPORTUNITIES, BIGGER CHALLENGES. If he wins, Obama will have the global popularity that no American president has had in a great many years. But what sort of challenges will counter the global opportunity that an Obama presidency might afford America? … From my October 24th Huffington Post column.
** 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, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil, on word of a new internation energy assessment forecasting declining energy demand with the slumping global economy, closed yesterday at $57.04 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) cut its 2008 and 2009 oil demand forecasts today, citing the global financial crisis’ impact on the lower demand for gasoline, the Financial Times reported.
The drop of over $92 per barrel since the record high over the summer comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And the Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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