The famed “1984″ ad, introducing the Macintosh computer, aired during the Super Bowl 25 years ago today.
** FRANKEN WANTS THE SENATE TO DECIDE. Comedian Al Franken is out to short-circuit a lawsuit filed by Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in that tight Minnesota Senate race. Franken leads by an eyelash, and would be the 59th Democratic senator if he ultimately prevails.
Democratic candidate Al Franken made a bid Wednesday to short-circuit the court case that’s intended to give Minnesota a winner in its closely contested Senate race. Attorneys for Franken argued that a state court should dismiss the lawsuit filed by Republican Norm Coleman because the three-judge panel designated to hear the case lacks jurisdiction for Coleman’s type of complaint.
The proper venue, Franken’s attorneys argued, is the U.S. Senate, which has the power to judge the election of its members.
Franken declared victory over Coleman Jan. 5 after state officials certified recount results that gave him a 225-vote lead out of 2.9 million votes cast in the Nov. 4 election.
Coleman promptly challenged the results, arguing that some ballots were counted twice, absentee ballots that should have been counted were rejected, and procedures for accounting for missing ballots were not dealt with consistently over the course of the recount.
** CALIFORNIA ON THE POTOMAC. Senator Dianne Feinstein certainly had a high profile at the Obama Inaugural; she oversaw it as chair of the Congressional committee for the Inauguration and essentially acted as master of ceremonies at the Inauguration ceremony itself. Then she did the honors at the Congressional luncheon in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall honoring the president and vice president immediately after they were sworn into office.
But there were some big glitches, with many ticketed people not getting into the festivities, so Feinstein – who some still talk about as a possible gubernatorial contender notwithstanding her having just taken on a huge national and global role as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee – may come in for some criticism.
Still, she hosted the key party for California politicos, with such potential gubernatorial candidates as former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and former state Controller Steve Westly, one of Obama’s earliest and biggest backers, all on hand shaking hands. Newsom, a national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was initially thrilled that he was profiled in the new Newsweek, but it proved to be a bad story saying he’s viewed as a “joke” by “Democratic insiders.”
Brown, a two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination, was making the rounds throughout, and held a big finance event hosted by longtime backer Melissa Moss. Greentech venture capitalist Westly, who was in the mix to be Obama’s secretary of energy, was very active as well, attending Vernon Jordan’s party and getting a good perch indoors for the freezing inaugural parade at a Pennsylvania Avenue law firm.
Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, who has already declared his candidacy for governor, was also in evidence, and met with officials of five big unions.
Former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was, reportedly, everywhere, to no one’s surprise.
Also spotted by my sources – veteran Silicon Valley executive John Thompson, the former CEO of Symantec – who is a strong finalist to be Obama’s secretary of commerce.
Orange County evangelical pastor Rick Warren gave a highly controversial benediction – controversial amongst some on the left because he backed the same-sex marriage ban – which in the end could hardly have been less objectionable.
But aside from Warren, the only Californian who rivaled Feinstein in terms of a high profile was Arianna Huffington.
The longtime commentator of the right turned left – now head of the biggest liberal news and commentary site in the world, the Huffington Post – was much in evidence at the most exclusive events. Everyone says the most star-studded party of all was her Huffington Post Inaugural Ball.
** HUGE AUDIENCE AND HIGH RATINGS FOR OBAMA’S INAUGURAL. The new Gallup Poll shows that, as expected, there was a huge television audience for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, in addition to the two million or so folks who braved the bone-chilling weather to be there in person. And that Obama’s speech was extremely well-received.
Six in 10 Americans tuned in live to the presidential inauguration ceremonies on Tuesday. Another 20% heard or read news reports of the event while 20% caught none of it.
The live audience included 70% of nonworking Americans, but also 53% of those currently employed — suggesting that many workers either took the day off or had the opportunity to watch or hear the ceremonies at work.
Americans were clearly more interested in the inauguration of Barack Obama than they were in George W. Bush’s second inauguration four years ago. In 2005, only 40% of Americans said they watched or heard the inaugural ceremonies live.
The greater attention paid to Obama’s inaugural likely stems from the combination of his taking office for the first time, his being the first Democrat in eight years to assume the presidency, and the historic significance of the nation’s installing its first African-American president.
There was considerable pressure on President Obama, known for his oratory skills, to deliver an impressive inauguration speech, and from Americans’ perspective, he succeeded. Among those who saw or otherwise followed the inauguration on Tuesday, close to half — 46% — say Obama’s speech was “excellent.” That compares with a 25% excellent rating for Bush’s 2005 inauguration speech. Another 35% say Obama’s speech was good, while only 15% consider it “just okay” or worse.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has a rather busy day. He meets with top economic advisors in the morning at the White House to go over his economic revival program, then meets with his White House senior staff and with retired military officers.
In the afternoon, Obama goes over to the State Department in Foggy Bottom with Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor Jim Jones. Obama, Biden, and Jones will meet there with top officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Then Obama and Biden speak to the State Department staff.
Obama is expected to sign executive orders today to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo and other “black site” prisons in foreign countries, notably Eastern Europe, and to end torture in interrogations.
Meanwhile, Obama is catching a break on some geopolitical crises. Not that they are necessarily “breaks,” as Obama and his emissaries have been in touch with global players for months.
Israel has all its troops out of the Gaza Strip. And Russia is restarting natural gas flows to Europe through Ukraine. At a cost down the line to the notion of Ukraine joining NATO.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has private talks in and around the Capitol today. His focus is on the chronic California budget crisis. Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today.
Republican legislators, who have essentially blockaded the budget for months by publicly refusing to consider any tax hikes, seem to be getting closer to going for a budget that includes tax hikes as well as program cuts and a spending cap.
This viral mashup ad for Barack Obama in 2007 took off successfully on the “1984″ ad.
** 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.)
As the hours count down to his inauguration, Barack Obama must be hearing the hoofbeats of history. He certainly invokes it. Indeed, he seeks to be one of its great riders.
For all the president-elect’s evocation of Abraham Lincoln — and his own description of Lincoln in “The Audacity of Hope” as both deep-seated idealist and ultra-pragmatist was more revealing of Obama’s political character than anything produced by any media outlet — fate and his own design cast what Obama says as our brand-new president alongside somewhat more contemporary figures.
Obama takes office as the 44th president of the United States at a moment of multi-faceted crisis. But it is not a moment like that of Lincoln’s inauguration. President Bush and his essentially feckless administration leave behind the worst economy since the Great Depression, an environment increasingly out of whack, two troubled, troubling, and mismanaged wars, a black eye around the globe, and a sense of fatigue from years of overwrought hysteria. Lincoln’s challenge was of a very different nature.
So the figures of comparison for Obama, his fellow riders of history if you will, are, notwithstanding his hero Lincoln, different. …
Russian natural gas is flowing again to Europe, ending a weeks-long crisis.
** ANOTHER DAY: 24 AND THE AGE OF OBAMA. One of the signature TV series of the Bush/Cheney years is back. What relevance, if any, does it have in the new age of Obama? … From my January 13th column.
** CIA: THE PANETTA PICK AND THE FEINSTEIN FACTOR. President-elect Barack Obama named his top intelligence leadership team on Friday. And, as I expected, new Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein rather quickly backed down from her opposition to Leon Panetta and championing of a CIA insider for the post, of only a few days ago. The whole exercise was very instructive in old and new political dynamics. … From my January 12th column.
** CIA: PARSING THE PANETTA PICK. … From my January 6th column.
** OBAMA: VACATION’S END. … From my January 2nd 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 $42 to $43 per barrel range. This is a significant advance since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, relecting the oil market’s view that the US economy will experience a recovery under the new American administration
The drop of $105 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 previous 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.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.