William Shatner does Sarah Palin’s resignation speech as beat poetry on The Tonight Show.
** QUICK HITS. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, dealing with California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis, presented with an underwater budget package by the state Assembly, cut over half a billion more using his line item veto. This hit hard at welfare and AIDS programs. The state now has a minuscule $500 million reserve. Some Democratic legislators, who offered no alternatives aside from ideas that won’t pass, talked of challenging the vetoes but the Legislature went into recess last Friday. … San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is trying to run against frontrunner Jerry Brown for the Democratic nomination for governor and yesterday lost his longtime campaign manager, also yesterday lost his campaign finance director, who is returning to the city payroll. Today he lost his city budget director — speaking of which, Newsom has serious budget problems in San Francisco — and his chief environmental advisor, also on the city payroll, whose job was to come up with splashy green ideas. … The high-level US/China Strategic & Economic Dialogue wrapped up in Washington with no new decisions. I’ll have more tomorrow on this first of a new series of twice annual meetings. … The US and UK are moving to engage elements of the Taliban in negotiations on Afghanistan. This move comes on the heels of a truce in one Afghan province announced yesterday.
** OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE, AFFIRMED AGAIN. Here’s a story from today’s Honolulu Advertiser, in which the state’s health department again affirms the existence of a valid birth certificate for Barack Obama. Hawaii’s Republican governor, Linda Lingle, has also previously affirmed the existence of Obama’s valid birth certificate.
“Birther” conspiracy theorists, who’ve unaccountably been getting a lot of attention on cable TV news, like to claim that it’s all fabrication after the fact. But the notice of birth ran in the Honolulu Advertiser and another paper nine days after. Which leads to a fallback far right position, that Obama’s relatives falsely phoned in the birth. Actually, as the article points out, the hospital issued birth notices to Hawaiian newspapers. Which leaves the birther crowd with a massive conspiracy involving a hospital, major newspapers, and the State of Hawaii, all launched in 1961 to propel Obama to the presidency.
** IS OBAMA GETTING OVEREXPOSED? Is President Barack Obama getting overexposed? As talented a communicator as he is, it seems he’s in danger of just that.
In part because he is such a talented speaker. He’s the big gun that Team Obama keeps firing when it’s in harm’s way. Which it almost always is, having inherited the biggest economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, a growing environmental crisis, and geopolitical crises around the globe. Not to mention a hyper-partisan political environment and a semi-functional media culture.
The question takes on some urgency for Obama with his “hurry up offense” coming up short on universal health care.
With Obama having dipped in the polls, though still very healthy in the mid-50s in job approval despite multiple crises, it’s a good moment to rethink one’s drink, so to speak.
There’s no question that, in this fragmented media culture marked by an acute attention deficit disorder, Obama is the prime driver of news. But that doesn’t mean he has to do it himself. …
President Barack Obama talked up universal health care in an AARP virtual town hall today.
** SOTOMAYOR WINS SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVAL. As expected, US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was easily approved today by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The vote was 13 to 6, with South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham, John McCain’s pal, joining 12 Democrats in voting to confirm the federal judge for a seat on the nation’s high court. The other six Republicans voted no.
The full Senate is expected to confirm Sotomayor as President Barack Obama’s first appointee to the Supreme Court next week.
Sotomayor will be the nation’s first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … IS OBAMA GETTING OVEREXPOSED?
President Barack Obama opened the first US/China Strategic and Economic Dialogue yesterday in Washington. The conference continues today.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on the confirmation of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
At 7:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 10:30 AM, Obama participates in an AARP “tele-town hall” on health care reform at AARP Headquarters in Washington. Obama will do two more town halls this week on health care, in North Carolina and Virginia. But the “public option” may be slipping away in the Senate Finance Committee.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with the chairs of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in the Oval Office.
At 1:15 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden greet the expanded delegations of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Obama kicked off the first of what are to be twice yearly US-China strategic dialogues early yesterday morning with opening remarks at the Ronald Building and International Trade Center in Washington.
This is a two-day conference between high-level US and Chinese officials led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner on the American side and Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councillor Dai Bingguo on the Chinese side.
The US and China are by far the two leading economies in the world and share a symbiotic relationship. America is China’s biggest market and China is America’s biggest creditor.
This first of the US-China Dialogues has turned into a table-setting and air-clearing exercise.
No major agreements appear to be forthcoming.
China has expressed concern about America’s big budget deficits while America has expressed concern about China’s reliance on export of cheap goods into the US market. Not that the goods are so cheap. The Apple computer I’m writing this on was designed in California and assembled in China.
Confronted again by California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis and continued legislative inaction, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency at the beginning of July. He signs a new version of the state budget this morning.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold private meetings in and around the Capitol, focusing on California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis.
At 11 AM, he will sign the new version of the state budget, with brief remarks in the Cabinet Room of the Governor’s Office.
The state Assembly sent him an underwater budget, so Schwarzenegger will make a lot of line item vetoes.
Needless to say, California’s chronic-turned-chaotic budget crisis isn’t really over. But the state will be able to stop issuing IOUs.
Though not yet. The state Treasurer’s office needs to assess the budget and financial markets to determine when and how the state can gain the customary bridge financing of summer months.
** 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 July 21st 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: 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 around $67 per barrel.
This is up $33 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.