In advance of this Father’s Day weekend, President Barack Obama touted responsible fatherhood, mentioning his own father’s absence from most of his life in saying that government does not have the answers.
** QUICK HITS. In an interview with CBS, President Barack Obama warned Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that “The world is watching” how his state deals with democratic protesters in the wake of the hotly disputed landslide re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad … Triggering status anxiety amongst some pols, on Monday First Lady Michelle Obama is coming to San Francisco, where she’ll be hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver at a big volunteer event where they’ll help construct an elementary school playground and at the national conference on volunteerism. Shriver endorsed President Obama during last year’s Democratic presidential primaries. … Speaking of the first lady’s other half, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today declared a state disaster in Fresno County and requested federal disaster assistance for the drought situation. …
** ENSIGN: WHAT HAPPENED IN VEGAS DIDN’T STAY IN VEGAS. Well, in a sense it did, because it’s all still happening in Vegas, but I couldn’t resist the line. Now it looks like shakedown time. Or at least that is what the embattled Republican’s operation is saying. The Las Vegas Sun, all over the story, reports today that the husband of the staffer to Senator John Ensign – who resigned as chairman of the US Senate Republican Policy Committee this week – who had an affair with the Nevada senator and one-time 2012 GOP presidential hopeful, demanded lots of cash and other financial benefits over the past month from the senator. The husband, of course, was also a staffer to the senator.
The paper reports that Ensign’s Senate office said today that the staffer made “exorbitant demands.”
The Sun also reports that the staffer, one of the most senior aides to Ensign prior to going to work for a smaller airline headed by an Ensign supporter, sent a letter to a Fox News anchor saying that he and his wife, the senator’s former mistress, needed help in exposing Ensign’s “heinous conduct and pursuit” of the staffer’s wife, who was also a staffer of the senator at the time of the affair.
“The actions of Senator Ensign have ruined our lives and careers and left my family in shambles. We have lost significant income, suffered indescribable pain and emotional suffering. We find ourselves today with an overwhelming loss of relationships, career opportunities and hope for recovery. Our pursuit of justice continues to place me and my family in harm’s way as we fear for our well being.”
The global economic crisis hit the annual Paris Air Show this week, with the two big civilian manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, in trouble. Unmanned aerial vehicles are one of the few growth sectors for stressed military budgets around the world.
** HILLARY UNDERGOES SURGERY TO REPAIR HER BROKEN ELBOW, WHICH IS APPARENTLY SUCCESSFUL. Secretary of State and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton underwent surgery to repair her broken elbow this morning, well ahead of the expected next week. Clinton fell and broke her elbow Wednesday afternoon while hurrying to a meeting at the White House. The surgery was lengthy and may have been more complex than expected.
Here’s the statement from Clinton’s office: “Statement of Cheryl D. Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff, State Department
“At 7:30am this morning, Secretary Clinton underwent a two hour surgery to successfully repair her fractured right elbow. Her doctors at The George Washington University Hospital have advised her that they expect her to make a full recovery without lasting damage to her arm. After the surgery she returned to her home in Washington where she will remain with her family through the weekend.
“Decisions about her schedule and travel will be made and announced in the days to come.”
** NAVY PREPARES TO INTERCEPT A NORTH KOREAN SHIP. The US Navy is preparing to intercept a North Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons material sanctioned by the UN Security Council. The Kang Nam left port in North Korea on Wednesday and is currently hugging the China coast en route to Singapore.
The Navy destroyer in question, as fate would have it, is USS John McCain, named for the senator’s four-star admiral father and grandfather. The McCain is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. It’s 505 feet long, with a crew of nearly 300 and a top speed of over 30 knots, which is something in excess of 35 miles per hour, and its own helicopter.
** CALIFORNIA UNEMPLOYMENT EDGES UP TO MODERN “RECORD” HIGH. California’s unemployment rate, a lagging indicator in any recovery scenario, has edged up to 11.5%. Which is not actually a record, given the Great Depression, but is a record among current record-keepers in the past few decades.
As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger noted: “When the world loses one-third of its wealth in 18 months, it is to be expected that historic levels of job losses will follow. Not surprisingly, we and our fellow states have seen unemployment numbers rise sharply during this difficult time.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told the people of Iran today that the time for protest is past.
** OBAMA AND THE AYATOLLAH. Two weeks after his landmark address in Cairo, where he honored traditional Islam and extolled engagement with modern Islam, President Barack Obama finds himself in a conundrum. Determining what to do about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who just told the people of Iran, in an unusual nationally-televised sermon at the end of Friday prayers, to stop acting like they live in a democracy.
It’s a particularly tricky question for Obama, because he has an unusual dual role to play: Inspirational global icon and president of the United States.
As the president of the United States, it’s Obama’s job to figure out the needs of America and go about meeting them. As a global icon, he is expected to inspire. …
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has had his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors, all in the Oval Office.
He has also addressed the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference, promising to move forward on immigration reform, without offering a timetable.
At 10 AM Pacific, Obama visits the nonprofit organization Year Up in Arlington, Virginia.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama holds a town hall to discuss fatherhood and mentoring in the East Room of the White House.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama hosts a mentoring session with young men from local schools on the South Lawn of the White House.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets again with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 5 PM Pacific, Obama attends the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The Obama Administration says it’s ready if North Korea follows through on its threat to conduct a long-range missile test in the direction of the president’s home state of Hawaii on the 4th of July.
Obama is also closely monitoring several crises: In North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
North Korea may launch a long-range missile toward Hawaii next month, and continues saber-rattling rhetoric and acts, running a patrol boat up to the edge of the Northern Limit Line the night before last.
Iran, of course, is the big ponderable, if not imponderable. See my column linked above.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds more private discussion today about California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
But today is mostly, again, about water policy. Yesterday he met privately following his budget crisis address in Fresno with mayors and local elected officials from across the San Joaquin Valley.
Today he is touring fields lying fallow in Mendota.
Then Schwarzenegger meets with local elected officials at Mendota City Hall to discuss the statewide drought and its effects on the region.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: NORTH KOREA, AGAIN. President Barack Obama changed the old kabuki in dealing with his second North Korean crisis. The first time around, back in April, dealing with a long-range missile test that failed to place a satellite in orbit, Obama treated the effort as more of the same rather baffling attention-seeking by the Hermit Kingdom. This time, after a string of provocations including an underwhelming underground nuclear detonation, a series of missile launches, and the imprisonment of two California-based journalists, Obama went in another, tougher, direction that may lead to a naval confrontation. … From my June 12th column.
** REMEMBERING AMERICA: OBAMA’S D-DAY SPEECH AND TWO DAYS IN JUNE. There’s no question that timing is, as it were, of the essence in politics. Consider the timing of President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, coming as it did just two days before the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Most focus simply on the Cairo speech. But that speech exists in a larger context, alongside the speech over the weekend in Normandy which bookended it on Obama’s second big international tour.
On Thursday in Cairo, Obama gave his rhetorical best to reposition a mostly peaceful America in the future of the Muslim world. On Saturday in Normandy, he reminded of America’s glittering, and far more martial, past. … From my June 8th column.
** REPOSITIONING AMERICA: OBAMA’S CAIRO SPEECH AS THE ULTIMATE IN EVENT MARKETING. In the biggest example of event marketing that comes to mind, President Barack Obama used his ballyhooed speech today at Cairo University to reposition America in the Muslim and Arab worlds.
“I have come here,” he said, “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
The fact is that Obama didn’t really say anything new. The positions he laid out are positions he had in his campaign. But he did say it all at once, and quite well. He did say it in a 50-minute address aimed directly at the Muslim and Arab worlds. He did say it in Cairo, largest city in the Arab world and a critical city in the history of Islam. And he did say it at the leading modern university in Egypt in an event co-sponsored by the world’s chief center of Arabic literature, the ancient Al-Azhar University.
In that sense, to borrow a phrase from Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message. The context is the key to the effort.
In an even larger sense, the message is himself. Both who he is, and who he is not. … From my June 4th column.
** TERMINATING THE DARKNESS: HOPE FLOATS, BUT ANXIETY ABIDES. Is the era of the dark comic book movie fable coming to an end? Or is it more a matter of a spate of seemingly underperforming dark would-be blockbusters? … From my May 31st column.
** THE AVOIDABLE TRAGEDY OF CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8. The California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, last November’s successful initiative against same-sex marriage is all the more tragic in that the initiative never should have passed in the first place. …
The right to same-sex marriage will, in the end, win out. It’s the getting there that is messy. And it need not have been as messy as the passage of Prop 8, and its expected upholding by the California Supreme Court, has made it. …
Gay marriage opponents got a huge gift immediately from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s comments. Newsom had enraged top national Democrats, including Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, by unilaterally declaring same-sex marriage lawful in San Francisco in the midst of the 2004 presidential race. Though it was a move that was predictably easily overturned, national Republican strategists credited the furor it caused with playing a propulsive role in turning out huge numbers of fundamentalist voters in Ohio, the lynchpin of George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election. … From my May 26th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW CALIFORNIA-BASED CLIMATE POLICY: SIX KEY THINGS TO KNOW. … From my May 20th column.
** 24 AND THE TORTUOUS POLITICS OF TORTURE. … From my May 18th column.
** ANGELS AND DEMONS AND RELIGIOUS POLITICS. … From my May 15th column.
** WHAT DOES OBAMA’S AFGHAN COMMAND CHANGE MEAN? … From my May 13th column.
** THE HYPE FLU’S BIG FADE. … From my May 11th column.
** STAR TREK‘S NEW COMING-OF-AGE SAGA FOR GENERATION O. … From my May 8th column.
** 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.) … From my January 19th 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ 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 last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, 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. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record last July 11th, crude oil is trading around $72 per barrel.
This is up about $38 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, due in part to some positive economic signs and in part to geopolitical jitters over North Korea and Iran.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.