President Barack Obama challenged school districts around the country to improve teacher quality, encourage innovation, and meet higher standards to win “Race To The Top” grants, which total $5 billion.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … IS OBAMA GETTING OVEREXPOSED?
** QUICK HITS. The California Legislature finally adopted (mostly) a new budget today more than two months after the failure of the May 19th special election initiatives, along with the ongoing global economic crisis, blew a big hole in the latest state budget. But, while the state Senate adopted the plan agreed to in the Big 5 negotiations between Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, the Assembly blew a $1.1 billion hole in the plan, with no provisions to make up the difference. I don’t yet know how it’s going to get resolved. … President Barack Obama, walking back the tone of his Wednesday night criticism of the brief arrest of a black Harvard professor trying to get back into his home after a trip, invited both the arresting officer and the prof for a beer. It will happen, but has not yet been scheduled to my knowledge. Obama was right, but probably shouldn’t have used the word “stupid” in describing the incident. …
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS UPDATE: MID-AFTERNOON. Around 3 PM this afternoon, the state Assembly finally finished going through the latest state budget. The Assembly passed almost everything the state Senate had passed by 6:30 AM, but blew a $1.1 billion hole in the budget by turning down the transfer of local gas tax revenue to the state ($1 billion) and the additional offshore oil drilling ($100 million per year).
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold a press conference at 3:30 PM to discuss next steps.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS UPDATE: NOON. As we move to the noon hour in California, the state Assembly is still struggling to work through the budget passed at 6:30 AM by the state Senate. The safeguards and sanctions demanded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on welfare and in-home social services have passed. But the raid on local government revenues, revenue from expanded oil drilling on an existing offshore lease, and, oh yes, the question of future additional spending on education to make up for present cuts are all still outstanding. That’s all …
** ABOUT THAT “BIRTHER” FANTASY A CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN GOT CAUGHT UP IN THIS WEEK … When Orange County Congressman John Campbell, widely regarded as a credible and not crazy conservative California Republican, ran afoul of reality earlier this week on Hardball for his alliance with the fringe movement claiming President Barack Obama isn’t really an American (see video below), it showed how far out of hand this has gotten.
You’d think that John McCain’s campaign looked into this. Which, of course, they did, as I knew from conversations last year with McCain campaign director and former Arnold Schwarzenegger campaign manager Steve Schmidt.
While they ruled out any chance of the ‘birther’ lawsuits holding up in court, lawyers for the McCain campaign did check into the rumors about Obama’s birth and the assertions made by Berg and others. “To the extent that we could, we looked into the substantive side of these allegations,” said Potter. “We never saw any evidence that then-Senator Obama had been born outside of the United States. We saw rumors, but nothing that could be sourced to evidence. There were no statements and no documents that suggested he was born somewhere else. On the other side, there was proof that he was born in Hawaii. There was a certificate issued by the state’s Department of Health, and the responsible official in the state saying that he had personally seen the original certificate. There was a birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser, which would be very difficult to invent or plant 47 years in advance.”
And yet the mania does not die. From my conservative associates, I know how Obama drives them absolutely nuts. That was true even before he was a strong possibility for the Democratic nomination. There is a certain type of mindset that easily accepts and propagates the “Manchurian candidate” fantasy which I wrote about at length last year.
President Barack Obama’s timetable for passage of universal health care has hit a snag in the Senate.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is back from the road today, but still pushing universal health care.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, he meets with Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus in the Oval Office. With Obama’s first deadline for passage of health care legislation about to be missed, they will discuss a new timetable.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama has lunch with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Private Dining Room.
At 10:15 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on education at the Department of Education. He will unveil a new $5 billion initiative for education reform.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 2:30 PM Pacific, Obama signs a proclamation celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the East Room of the White House.
At 5:45 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Marine Corps Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks.
President Barack Obama’s latest prime time press conference on Wednesday night drew his smallest audience yet.
Biden is back from his trip to reassure US allies in Ukraine and Georgia about America’s burgeoning relationship with Russia and to further assess the situation in those countries. He was noncommittal when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who provided Russia with its hoped-for pretext to invade last summer when he foolishly attacked the breakaway province of South Ossetia, asked for American anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is back from her tour of India and Asia. She will make her first appearance as secretary of state this coming Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today.
He will have private discussions in and around the Capitol on California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
After an all-night session, the state Senate adopted a new budget earlier this morning. The budget is as has been described.
The state Assembly, however, is still working its way through things.
The Big 5 group of Schwarzenegger and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders announced Monday night that they have arrived at agreement on a new budget to deal with the state’s $26.3 billion deficit.
The plan includes $15.5 billion in cuts and $4.7 billion in borrowings from local government, with a variety of financial maneuvers mostly making up the balance. State workers continue to receive three unpaid “furlough” days per month, about a 15% pay cut.
The plan has no new taxes and does include changes Schwarzenegger demanded in welfare and in-home social service programs. Education is promised repayment in the future for cuts in the present (thanks to the Prop 98 proportional spending requirement), but the promise is not written into the constitution.
As such, it’s a budget that could have been arrived at weeks ago, as various bottom lines both political and constitutional have long been evident.
The plan survived a burst of opposition on plans to cut corrections funding by reducing the number of inmates from 25,000 to 27,000.
Which was still more non-seriousness in a very non-serious process.
It was opposed by some police groups who fear early releases from prisons (largely of folks who will be released anyway), and by Republicans who pretended they had no idea that the inmate population would be reduced through changes in the parole and rehabilitation systems and greatly expanded use of home detention. Since the Republicans offered no serious ideas of their own to arrive at the budget cuts, their protest was quite disingenuous.
Their concerns will be assuaged by counting prison budget cuts against an undetermined policy which will be voted on separately next month. The policy is what’s been bandied about for days, here and elsewhere.
Already financially-strapped local governments are protesting the plan to seize billions in their revenues, and some public employee unions continue to oppose the budget deal, calling still for tax increases which have literally never been in the cards for any serious political observer and have already been repeatedly defeated. Environmentalists dislike the plan to drill more in federally-leased lands off the Santa Barbara coast, bringing in $100 million in revenue for decades.
** ANOTHER ‘60S ANNIVERSARY: THE UR-ACTION BLOCKBUSTER GOLDFINGER. We have two iconic ’60s anniversaries this week. Ironically, it’s the least known by far of the two that continues to resonate most in the culture. On July 20th, 1969, a human being first walked on the Moon. On July 21st, 1964, Goldfinger wrapped principal photography.
We haven’t gone to the Moon for 37 years, nor can we go to Mars, as the Apollo 11 astronauts are urging, anytime soon, but we sure go to blockbuster action movies. And Goldfinger is the ur-action blockbuster. … From my new essay.
** WHY THE BIG FADE FOR BRUNO? Bruno, the follow-up to ace comedy star Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 smash hit Borat, is one of the most hyped movies of the year. It’s gotten so much publicity it feels like it’s about to come out on DVD. But after a fast start on Friday, July 10th, the mockumentary about a gay Austrian fashionista has been fading badly ever since. This past weekend, it’s down 73% from the opening weekend.
Why the big fade? It’s actually not much of a mystery.
Once you see the movie, the only mystery is why it wasn’t predicted in the first place. … From my July 19th column.
** HILLARY’S BACK! (OR NOT). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ballyhooed address Wednesday to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington fell decidedly flat. For a few fairly obvious reasons.
First, President Barack Obama, like a number of other presidents before him, starting with Thomas Jefferson, is his own secretary of state. Second, Obama has already laid out America’s new geopolitics, in a series of major addresses in Prague, Cairo, Moscow, and Accra, Ghana, as well as in announcements here in the US on new policies with regard to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Thus making Clinton’s speech an exercise in echo. Third, Obama has other very powerful geopolitical counselors, including Vice President Joe Biden (whom a mutual friend told me when he was tapped for the ticket really wanted to be secretary of state), a coterie of special envoys reporting to the White House, and National Security Advisor Jim Jones, the former NATO commander and Marine Corps commandant.
And fourth, Clinton has been neatly mouse-trapped by Obama. She and her husband have been moved off the political gameboard by Team Obama. As I expected when I wrote about her appointment here on the Huffington Post when it was rumored last November. … From my July 15th column.
** DIMINISHING RETURNS FOR OBAMA’S SUMMITEERING? President Barack Obama returned early Sunday morning from a near week-long international tour that took him to a key summit in Moscow, a G-8 summit, and his first appearance in Africa as president. But some suggested, with his poll numbers down a bit and media attention mostly elsewhere, that his summiteering is having diminishing returns.
Perhaps. But I think it has at least as much to do with the media culture.
American media, especially cable TV news, is moving more into infotainment mode, stuck on a few areas. Geopolitics has never been its strong suit, and political coverage is mostly focused on food fights. Which was unfortunate, as following on to his addresses in Prague and Cairo, Obama gave the final two of his advertised four major speeches on his new geopolitics last week, in Moscow and in Accra, Ghana. … From my July 12th column.
** OBAMA DOES MOSCOW, AND VICE VERSA. … From my July 8th column.
** OBAMA’S CONSEQUENTIAL FIRST 4TH: NOKO, AFPAK, IRAQ, RUSSIA, PALIN (PALIN?!) … From my July 4th column.
** THE GOP’S PALIN FOOD FIGHT: WHY NOW? … From my July 2nd column.
** TRANSFORMATIVE: LE CINEMA DE MICHAEL BAY. … From my June 29th essay.
** STAR TREK FIRSTS … 43 YEARS ON. … From my June 23rd essay.
** OBAMA AND THE AYATOLLAH. . … From my June 19th column.
** OBAMA’S CRISIS MANAGEMENT: NORTH KOREA, AGAIN. … From my June 12th column.
** REMEMBERING AMERICA: OBAMA’S D-DAY SPEECH AND TWO DAYS IN JUNE. … From my June 8th column.
** REPOSITIONING AMERICA: OBAMA’S CAIRO SPEECH AS THE ULTIMATE IN EVENT MARKETING. … From my June 4th 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 on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading in the $67 to $68 per barrel range.
This is up over $33 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.