Terrorist bombings are on the rise in the final days before the scheduled June 30th withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraqi cities.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA: WHAT’S NEXT ON IRAN AND THE MIDDLE EAST?
** QUICK HITS. The California Legislature made no progress today on the state’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis. But, before adjourning late this morning, it did honor the memories of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Meanwhile, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will institute a third furlough day absent legislative action, thus acting against a bulwark of Democratic legislators. … Another quiet day in Iran, with little if any in the way of protest, the security apparat having successfully squelched a movement that has not expanded beyond its initial base. … The US House of Representatives passed a big bill on climate change and renewable energy setting up a cap and trade system similar to that outlined in California’s plan after Republicans trotted out various stalling tactics. If Congress does not follow California’s lead, states comprising most of the national population will. …
** SANFORD WATCH. In a new Survey USA poll, 60% of South Carolina voters want Governor Mark Sanford to resign. That includes 64% of women.
Sanford, who has already resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, disappeared for nearly a week. His staff said he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” a phrase that seems destined for the Hall of Euphemism, but he was actually missing Father’s Day weekend with his wife and four sons to carry on an affair in Buenos Aires.
** A BIG LEAD FOR JERRY BROWN. CalBuzz has the first real poll on the likely two-man race for the Democratic nomination for governor of California between former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Assuming Newsom doesn’t step away from the campaign.
The survey, by respected Sacramento pollster Jim Moore, has Brown way ahead of Newsom, 46% to 26%. Brown is even further ahead amongst older voters, the likeliest to vote. On the key measurement of whether or not the candidate (Brown has not announced, but Newsom is more than fully staffed and has been campaigning avidly for months) has “sufficient skills to be governor,” Brown gets 69% and Newsom gets 41%. And this is before the San Francisco Chronicle finally does its take-out on Newsom’s tenure as mayor of my home town, from which he’s been absent for an extraordinary amount of time while mayor.
There’s a lot more to the poll, but readers know my take.
I said more than a year ago that Senator Dianne Feinstein would never run for governor. She’s not running. I also said that I had serious doubts that Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would stick with the race. They are both out.
Will Newsom stick? I defended him strongly against his netroots critics, who are now thrilled to be in the room with him, in the wake of his very messy affair scandal in 2007. On the basis that he would settle down and focus on being mayor. But instead, he’s been off and running, here, there, and everywhere. It’s actually striking that he is running for governor at all. For a couple of reasons.
First, his political career would not exist absent his, his father’s, and his grandfather’s close and longstanding ties to the Brown family. Something about which the daily newspaper reporters are somehow unaware.
Second, Newsom’s relative strength among young voters is due to his championing of gay marriage. But the reality is that California would have same-sex marriage right now if not for his dunderheaded moves last year. Which may become apparent to more of his supporters at some point. Not that it actually matters for the overall, that is.
Third, Newsom doesn’t have the resources to beat Brown. He has to spend a lot of money just to get better known, and he’s not setting the world on fire with fundraising, though he is able to pay his high-priced consultants, who keep spinning away. He’s not Steve Westly, by a long shot, and Westly fell short against the far less appealing and adept than Brown Phil Angelides.
The United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco 64 years ago today.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Today he is summiting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. There are a few key areas of contention for the US and Germany. Namely, Afghanistan and Russia. Though Merkel is a conservative, she is resistant to providing further assistance to the fight in Afghanistan. And her government, like the social democratic government before her, is closely aligned with Russia, where Obama goes on July 6th. Why? Energy. But Obama, while a friendly face for Moscow, has an agenda there.
Obama has met one-on-one with Merkel in the Oval Office and has held an expanded meeting with her as well.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, he holds a press conference with Merkel in the White House Rose Garden.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama has a working lunch with Merkel in the Old Family Dining Room.
At 11:40 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 3:15 PM Pacific, Obama and Michelle Obama host a picnic for White House staff on the South Lawn.
This follows last night’s Hawaiian-style luau for staff and members of Congress.
What’s with the parties?
These folks are working very hard, as you may have gathered from the attempts here to follow it all.
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 Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and now Friday in Iran mostly passed quietly, with only a scattering of street protests.
The time in Tehran is eleven-and-a-half hours ahead of California.
The Iranian regime, having largely shut down the protest movement, is moving now to brand it as largely an invention of foreign manipulators.
The real action in Iran may be the infighting amongst the ruling elite.
There are various rumors about the whereabouts and activities of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, the former prime minister under Ayatollah Khomeini. He does seem to have urged his supporters to be more circumspect in their opposition with various symbolic acts that don’t directly challenge the Islamic state, which he says he continues to support. Communicating almost entirely through his web site, Mousavi nonetheless vows to fight on, though to what effect is another matter.
Obama is also closely monitoring several other crises: In North Korea, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
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, in the form of the destroyer USS John McCain, is following the passage of a suspect North Korean ship, which is hugging the China coast, first believed headed to Singapore and then believed headed (with a cargo of missiles) to Burma. But Burmese authorities now say the ship won’t be coming there.
Does North Korea have its own Flying Dutchman?
And Obama’s new Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal, has been in country with his new leadership team for a week. He is urging his new subordinates to be very conscious of Afghan civilian sentiments even as he preps aggressive special ops programs against the Taliban.
The Pakistani Army offensive against the Taliban is widening, with troops going into the longtime jihadist stronghold of Waziristan. There have been no major terrorist bombings in reprisal for going on two weeks. But the country’s refugee problem continues.
And the US may have made a major blunder by launching a drone attack against a funeral procession in a bid to decapitate the Taliban. Many civilians were killed, and the Taliban leader escaped.
Some three million Pakistanis left their homes to avoid the offensive against the Taliban. Many refuse to return to their homes, worried that electric power and water won’t be available and not convinced that fighting between the Pakistani Army and Taliban won’t flare up again.
The late Michael Jackson performing “Thriller” live in Germany in 1987.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger engages in private meetings and discussions in and around the Capitol, mostly focusing on California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
He has no scheduled public events.
The Legislature, as anticipated here for months, having failed to pass the Democratic budget alternative the day before, failed to pass a stopgap measure yesterday.
The bill did pass in a bipartisan vote in the state Assembly. But that was illusory. Not only did the bill fail to garner any Republican support in the Senate, it actually lost a few Democrats.
The measure would only have dealt with about one-fifth of the actual budget problem.
Why the move? Trying to stave off the total package of budget cuts and drag out the process for a few more weeks. But … Is it likely that anything will change in the next few weeks that did not change in the last few months?
According to state Controller John Chiang, the state will have to begin issuing IOUs on July 2nd if a budget is not promptly enacted.
** STAR TREK FIRSTS … 43 YEARS ON. Some 43 years after it began, and seven years after the movie franchise seemed completely played out, Star Trek is making firsts again. And so far, it’s the most popular movie of the year in America. …
** 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. … From my June 19th column.
** 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. … 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.
** 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 $70 per barrel.
This is up about $36 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.