In Afghanistan, the top challenger to President Hamid Karzai, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister, says that Thursday’s vote and its aftermath have been marked by many irregularities.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President Barack Obama goes to Martha’s Vineyard today for a week-long vacation.
He has no scheduled public events.
Obama receives his daily intelligence briefing early in the morning at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland countryside.
At 10 AM Pacific, Obama, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia, departs Camp David on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 10:40 AM Pacific, the Obamas arrive at Andrews Air Force Base.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, now aboard Air Force One, they depart Andrews Air Force Base en route to Martha’s Vineyard.
At 11:55 AM Pacific, the Obamas arrive at Martha’s Vineyard.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama dissects “myths” about health care reform and discusses the “moral imperative” for action.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama has no scheduled public events today.
Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha are at the presidential retreat at Camp David today. The Obamas then go to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Sunday.
Obama will receive his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the morning.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events this weekend.
Schwarzenegger’s plan to reduce crowding conditions, and the state budget by more than a billion dollars per year, by reducing the prison inmate population by 27,000 was brought up Thursday in the Legislature.
It had to pass on a Democrats-only vote, as conservative Republicans do not want to be on record supporting such cuts.
The bill passed the state Senate, 21 to 19, but stalled in the state Assembly. Even though Democrats have an overwhelming majority and mostly safe seats, not enough votes were mustered.
The Assembly will take up the bill again on Monday, without which the state’s rickety budget is again very out of balance. These sorts of reforms have been called for by legislative Democrats for years. But quite a few are balking when it can actually happen, including three Democratic Assembly members who are running for state attorney general and don’t want to be attacked as “soft on crime.”
They shouldn’t worry about that, because it’s unlikely they can beat the only major woman running, San Francisco District Attorney and major Obama backer Kamala Harris.
Both Afghan President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah are claiming victory in Thursday’s presidential election in war-torn Afghanistan. Preliminary results aren’t expected now till Tuesday.
** OBAMA AND THE AFGHAN ELECTION: WHAT IT MEANS, WHAT IT DOESN’T. The Obama Administration should be sighing with a sense of relief after the presidential election in Afghanistan. However, for those with nascent/encroaching nation-building fantasies, what happened with the Afghan election should be thoroughly disabusing.
The Taliban failed in their threat to halt the election, and were unable to pull off any of the promised spectacular attacks demonstrating a strong military capability. But that’s to be expected, as some 300,000 US, NATO, and Afghan troops were fanned out across the county to prevent just that. Better to keep our eyes on the real world goals in Afghanistan: Denying it as a base to Al Qaeda, and moving on in the mission of dampening Islamic opposition to America.
While we slid by in this election, it would be a huge mistake to imagine that we are any closer to realizing persistent nation-building fantasies in Afghanistan. It’s nowhere near a 20th century democracy, much less a 21st century democracy. Perhaps a 19th century democracy. But for the powerful forces ever insistent on dragging it back into the Dark Ages. … From my new column.
** MAD MEN: “OUT OF TOWN” … SEASON 3 OPENER SATISFYING NOT SCINTILLATING. … From my August 18th column.
** MAD MEN RETURNS: THE ‘60S ADVERTISING DRAMA IS A TIME TUNNEL TO THE PRESENT. The much acclaimed, if not so much watched, Mad Men makes a welcome return for its third season Sunday night. I’ve found the series, now the flagship show on AMC, a channel once best known as a reliable source for late night viewings of Commando, to be very compelling from the beginning, if not exactly action-packed.
There are a number of ways to view Mad Men. For my own part, I can take it as a period piece, a sort of time capsule of the early ’60s, at once relatively close yet far enough away to be intriguing for its unfamiliarity. Or as an evocation of style, with the sort of glamour and cool associated with JFK and the early Bond films, in this case a New York variant including chain smoking, constant drinking, and sexual play continually tinged with sexual harassment.
It’s a character study, as well, for the surface glitter of the persuader class and those who attend them masks confusion and lack of identity. That could also make it a cautionary tale, albeit one set during the height of the post-war expansion of American affluence.
Which makes it, in turn, a meditation on the American Dream. Not entirely unlike The Sopranos, on which Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner served as an Emmy-winning writer and producer. Well, except for the fact that Mad Men protagonist/anti-hero Don Draper is a charismatic and enigmatic New York ad man, not a perpetually depressed, poetically crude New Jersey mob boss. … From my August 14th essay.
** SOTOMAYOR, OBAMA, AND THE LOOMING REPUBLICAN RACE PROBLEM. … From my August 13th column.
** WHEN SHOULD GAY MARRIAGE ADVOCATES TRY TO REVERSE CALIFORNIA’S PROP 8? … From my August 11th column.
** OBAMA’S CAIRO ADDRESS: TWO MONTHS ON. … From my August 5th column.
** IS OBAMA GETTING OVEREXPOSED? … From my July 28th column.
** ANOTHER ‘60S ANNIVERSARY: THE UR-ACTION BLOCKBUSTER GOLDFINGER. … From my July 21st essay.
** WHY THE BIG FADE FOR BRUNO? … From my July 19th column.
** HILLARY’S BACK! (OR NOT). … From my July 15th column.
** DIMINISHING RETURNS FOR OBAMA’S SUMMITEERING? … From my July 12th column.
** OBAMA DOES MOSCOW, AND VICE VERSA. … From my July 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 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 closed on Friday at $73.89 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
This is up about $40 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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