Barack and Michelle Obama discussed the big change in their lives last night on 60 Minutes.
** COMING ON FRIDAY … My new column on Obama, Arnold’s global climate summit, and the future of the climate issue in California and the U.S.
** THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE. It’s 8 AM on Thursday morning, I’m back from three days out of the office, a successful set of experiences but even more run down than I was Monday morning, and I am as surprised as anyone else to see NWN still on this server. I am awaiting enlightenment from the technical parties to the transfer equation.
Meanwhile, enjoy my new Huffington Post column from yesterday, linked to just below, on the ins and outs behind the prospective appointment of Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.
In other action, LA Congressman Henry Waxman has defeated Detroit Congressman John Dingell for the central post of chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This may be the most important committee in Congress. Dingell has chaired it for decades, blocking action on fuel efficiency, greenhouse gases, and so on. Waxman, currently chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was an important supporter of President-elect Obama, defending him from charges that he was anti-Israel, and some years ago, as a backer of Gary Hart, was chairman of the California delegation to the Democratic National Convention, for which I was a vice chair. Waxman’s longtime political ally, LA Congressman Howard Berman, is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
** S.O.S. HILLARY CLINTON: MASTERSTROKE, MOUSETRAP, OR BOTH? Potential Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Masterstroke or mousetrap? Or both? And for whom?
The political world has been all aflutter for the better part of a week at the prospect — initially portrayed as a done deal — that Hillary Clinton will be Barack Obama’s secretary of state. On the Republican side of the aisle, Henry Kissinger calls her “highly qualified” and Arnold Schwarzenegger dubs it “a great move.” The Clintons’ opponents in the Democratic Party have been restrained in their response. The media loves it, running with endless references to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s very fine book on the Lincoln Cabinet, an Obama favorite, “Team of Rivals.” … From my new column.
** WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE. Sorry for the delay in the change-over to a new server. There’s always a new wrinkle. The move is now scheduled to be completed late Wednesday. Incidentally, I had planned to have this completed on November 9th. No notice, just happening. But a few wrinkles emerged …
Meanwhile, I’ve been on the road, and under the weather, and am currently at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit at the Beverly Hilton in LA, hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Last night, he and other leading American governors signed anti-greenhouse gas agreements with top Indonesian and Brazilian officials. (As you may know, President-elect Barack Obama addressed the confab via video yesterday, creating quite a stir, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair does so today.) So I haven’t really had much time or energy for blogging in any event. However, I do have a new column coming Wednesday morning, on the prospective appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, which I will link to here.
NOTE: New West Notes is scheduled to move to a new server tonight. Or Tuesday. NWN is NewWestNotes.com.
Remember that the correct web address for NWN is www.newwestnotes.com.
I’m also doing some traveling this week.
** HUGE CHUNK OF LAST MONTH’S FEDERAL BAILOUT PACKAGE TO GO UNUSED UNTIL OBAMA’S INAUGURATION. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has decided to leave $350 billion of the big bailout package authorized last month — supposedly for immediate emergency use — unused for the remainder of the Bush Administration. I hear it may actually be $410 billion.
Paulson and Bush officials have had trouble defining their mission.
** IRAN LIKES THE NEW U.S.-IRAQ STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT. AND WHY NOT? Iran, which wields tremendous influence in Iraq since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, has long opposed all status of forces agreements allowing any continued presence of US troops in Iraq. But a very senior associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — who was erroneously reported by elements of the far right to be dead in January 2007 — says Iran likes the new agreement negotiated by the Bush/Cheney Administration and just approved by senior elements of the Iraqi government.
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, head of the Iranian judiciary, says that the Iraqi government did “very well” in working out a new status of forces agreement with the Bush/Cheney Administration. Current authorization for the the US to remain in Iraq, granted by the United Nations, was set to expire at the end of the year.
Under the new agreement, all US forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by mid-2009, with a withdrawal from Iraq to be completed by the end of 2011. US troops will be subject to trial in Iraqi courts and no US offensive operations are to be undertaken without the approval of the Iraqi government. Iraqi detainees in US custody are to be handed over to Iraqi authorities, and all arrest warrants must be issued by the Iraqi government.
The agreement has been approved by the Iraqi cabinet and is now in the hands of the Iraqi parliament.
Ayatollah Sharoudi, as it happens, is actually from Iraq. He previously led Iraq’s largest Shiite political party, and the one most closely aligned with Iran — the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (now known as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq — when the party was still based in Tehran in the 1980s. Shahroudi also is a mentor to Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, a notorious opponent of the US in Iraq, in the latter’s quest to reach ayatollah status.
** BROWN MOVES FOR IMMEDIATE SUPREME COURT RULING ON PROPOSITION 8. Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown this morning moved for a quick ruling by the California Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative passed by four points earlier this month. Brown wants the state’s high court to take up the lawsuit seeking to invalidate the measure, which would place opposition to same-sex marriage as an amedment in California’s constitution. Frequently, court challenges must work their way through lower courts.
In addition, Brown says that all same-sex marriages conducted from the time the Republican majority California Supreme Court invalidated an earlier anti-gay marriage initiative and declared same-sex marriage legal in California and the passage of Prop 8 are legally valid. Brown has vowed to defend each of these marriages in court even if Prop 8 is upheld.
President-elect Barack Obama appeared last night on 60 Minutes.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
Quite a week on tap. Barack Obama continues his transition to the presidency, meeting today with John McCain, with much speculation centering on the possible appointment of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. (Look for my upcoming column.) Iraq and the US seem to have an agreeement for an American withdrawal from that troubled country. Lots of bad economic news is slated to be released this week. And Arnold Schwarzenegger, first inaugurated as governor five years ago today, oversees the management of the latest Southern California firestorm and hosts a state summit on small business and a global summit on climate change.
Will John McCain revert to the old maverick, rather than the new partisan we saw in the general election? Probably. Will Hillary Clinton be the new secretary of state? Possibly.
This past weekend’s G-20 summit in Washington produced a vague outline of an action plan to stabilize the global economy and fix the underlying financial crisis.
On the economic front, we’re going to get a lot of bad news this week. Because this is the week in which various economic statistics are reported.
Did the G-20 group of 19 industrial nations and the European Union come up with a plan? Not really. More of a notion, perhaps an outline of a plan for global economic stimulus and global regulation of high finance. It all awaits President Obama. And another summit in a few months, probably in London hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was one of the world’s most successful finance ministers working with Tony Blair.
Will there be a federal bailout of the US auto industry? Almost certainly, because Obama wants it. The Bush/Cheney Administration was at first opposed, but now appears more amenable. But that doesn’t mean it will happen in the lameduck Congress.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was first inaugurated as governor of California five years ago today following his landslide win in the 2003 recall election. Here are scenes from his second inaugural in 2007 in this NWN video.
As we mark the fifth anniversary of Schwarzenegger’s first inauguration as governor, we’re not seeing much progress on the deepening and chronic state budget crisis with the lameduck Legislature. Schwarzenegger is off managing the latest Southern California firestorms. This week he hosts a state summit on small business and a global summit on climate change. I’ll have a lot more on the latter.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama continues to hold private meetings and discussions in Chicago. He meets with Senator John McCain today to discuss working together on various issues such as the environment, the financial crisis, and health care. He’s already called Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to express support on the Calfornia fire situation. Schwarzenegger said yesterday on ABC’s This Week that’s ready to what he can to help Obama’s presidency be a success, bearing in mind that he has over two more years to serve as California’s governor.
The drama over the potential role of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state is playing out today, with former President Bill Clinton’s various international endeavors and fundraising emerging as an obvious area of concern.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger goes to Opti-Solar in North Highlands outside Sacramento to sign an executive order that will streamline California’s renewable energy project approval process.
The order builds on the 2006 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that mandates more energy from renewable energy sources in order to achieve 33 percent renewable power by 2020 and will advance the development of RPS-eligible renewable energy resources.
The event takes place at 2:15 PM and will be webcast live on www.gov.ca.gov.
** 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.
** 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 is trading in the $57 to $58 per barrel range.
OPEC forecasts a 0.6% decline in global oil consumption in 2009. But sees a 2.5% growth in oil consumption in developing nations.
The drop of $90 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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