President Barack Obama focused on Iran and health care in today’s White House press conference.
** QUICK HITS. Another relatively quiet day in Iran, where protests have largely evaporated since last Friday’s speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a violent crackdown Saturday by security forces against the much smaller number of protesters who showed on Saturday. … The meeting between US special envoy George Mitchell and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to jump-start the Mideast peace process has been postponed. … Defense Secretary Bob Gates established a new joint command to deal with cyberspace threats. Cyberspace Command gets up and running in October. …
** TESLA SCORES BIG SUPPORT. California-based Tesla Motors scored big today with the US Department of Energy. Energy Secretary Steve Chu, a Californian, announced that Tesla is getting $465 million in federal loans as part of a program to stimulate new vehicle development.
Tesla, which is headquartered in San Carlos, will use $365 million for the engineering and assembly of the Model S, a sedan scheduled to go on sale in 2011. The car, which is a follow-on to the high-end and highly-regarded sports car the Tesla Roadster, will go 300 miles on an electric charge.
The other $100 million of Tesla’s federal funding will go to a plant manufacturing powertrains.
Former state Controller Steve Westly, now a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and a member of the Tesla board of directors, was naturally delighted, saying: “At precisely the time the American auto industry is retrenching (some would say crumbling) Tesla is about to add 1,000 new auto manufacturing jobs in California.
“I think this is a testament to California’s being the nation’s innovation leader. It’s also a reminder that California still has a lot to offer.”
The Obama Administration is also loaning $5.9 billion to Ford and $1.6 billion to Nissan, all for the purpose of developing new vehicles to help carmakers meet much more stringent fuel efficiency standards.
Finally some good news for California.
** JERRY BROWN’S BIG EDGE. A poll by Sacramento pollster Jim Moore shows former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown with a big lead over San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the Democratic primary for governor of California.
It’s Brown 43%, Newsom 26%.
This is before active campaigning by Brown, who has not declared his candidacy. Newsom declared months ago and has been campaigning for months.
Brown has no campaign staff, although he does have a network of old friends, along with his wife and 2006 campaign manager Anne Gust Brown, who is the unpaid special counsel to the attorney general. Newsom rolls with a large entourage of guys, as I’ve mentioned in passing, and has a number of very high-priced consultants on payroll.
In addition to a big lead, Brown has a big edge financially. Newsom, unlike former state Controller Steve Westly, who is not running, in 2006, is not in a position to self-fund his candidacy to a substantial degree, though he was wealthy prior to the big recession. His restaurant and wine holdings have apparently taken a major downturn, according to former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who created Newsom’s career by appointing him to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Newsom has been fashioning himself as an Obama for California. But there are a few problems. For one thing, Newsom was a national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and attacked Obama last year. Everyone on his staff backed Clinton over Obama. One of his key advisors ran an anti-Obama 527 “independent expenditure” committee during the primaries, which I revealed at the time. For another, it’s very hard to claim that the famously iconoclastic Brown is an establishment politician.
Newsom chief strategist Garry South, who kept trying to position his then client Gray Davis as far more “safe” and routine than Davis’s former boss Brown, is well aware of this, though he postures otherwise now to serve his new client.
When First Lady Michelle Obama visited San Francisco yesterday, California First Lady Maria Shriver, who did support Obama in the primaries – and whose husband, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a key Obama ally – was her host. Newsom was not much in evidence.
I am not convinced that Newsom will end up running in next year’s primary.
** OBAMA STAYS OUT OF IRANIAN ELECTION RESULTS AND CRITICIZES REGIME CRACKDOWN. In his press conference, just now, President Barack Obama said it’s up to Iran to determine its government. He also said that Iran’s government has acted in defiance of “international norms” in its harsh and violent treatment of protesters. Following his statement, Obama called on a Huffington Post correspondent to take a question that came from an Iranian via HuffPost. Obama said, in answer to a question about under what conditions he will accept the legitimacy of Iran’s renewed government: “It is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that there is a peaceful path that will lead to prosperity and stability. We hope they will take it.”
The fiance of Neda, the young Iranian woman apparently shot by Iranian security forces on Saturday, tells the story. Demonstrations against the regime have petered out.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has had the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors, all in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama holds a news conference in the Rose Garden. Major topics will include Iran, health care, North Korea, and the economy.
At 11:15 AM Pacific, Obama meets one-on-one with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile in the Oval Office.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama holds an expanded meeting with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile in the Oval Office.
At 1:15 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Oval Office.
Obama is of course monitoring the situation in Iran, where protests Saturday fizzled in the face of a massive security presence and violence ordered by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Sunday and Monday and now Tuesday in Iran have mostly passed quietly, with only a scattering of street protests.
The time in Tehran is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of California.
Obama is also closely monitoring several other crises: In North Korea, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
North Korea may launch a long-range missile toward Obama’s home state of Hawaii on the 4th of July, and continues saber-rattling rhetoric and acts. The US Navy is following the passage of a suspect North Korean ship, which is hugging the China coast, first believed headed to Singapore and now believed headed (with a cargo of missiles) to Burma.
The Pakistani Army offensive against the Taliban is widening. There have been no major terrorist bombings in reprisal for most of the last week.
And Obama’s new Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal, has been in country with his new leadership team for a week.
Iran, of course, is the big ponderable, if not imponderable. See my column linked below.
Ed McMahon, longtime sidekick to Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, died this morning at UCLA Medical Center. He was 86.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger engages in private meetings and discussion around California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
Schwarzenegger will join First Lady Maria Shriver tonight at the California Museum in Sacramento to deliver remarks at the opening of the Library of Congress’ “With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition.”
In this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Lincoln, this exhibition of Lincoln objects is the nation’s most comprehensive collection of 200 artifacts dedicated to the 16th president. The California Museum is the first of five stops on the national tour and the only stop on the West Coast.
** 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’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. … From my May 31st column.
** THE AVOIDABLE TRAGEDY OF CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8. … 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 in the $67 to $68 per barrel range.
This is up about $33 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. The price is down a few dollars over the past few days, reflecting an easing of some tensions in Iran.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.