Senator Ted Kennedy will be laid to rest on Saturday afternoon in Arlington National Cemetery, not far from the eternal flame that burns there for the late President John F. Kennedy.
** BETTER NEWS FOR THE U.S. ECONOMY, BUT A PROBLEM FOR CALIFORNIA. The US economy moved closer to recovery today with word that the gross domestic product declined only 1.0% on an annualized basis in the second quarter, less than previously reported. Corporate earnings and profits are up nearly 6%, the biggest increase in four years.
But hiring, usually the lagging indicator of ecoomic recovery, has not yet picked up.
“We’re on a pretty decent recovery path,” said Bruce Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “There was a better mix last quarter with almost every major component of final demand being revised up and inventories being revised down. That puts us in a pretty decent position going into the third quarter.” …
Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, fell at a 1 percent pace, less than anticipated, following a 0.6 percent increase in the prior quarter. Purchases were forecast to drop 1.3 percent, according to the survey median.
Spending is likely to increase this quarter. Industry data showed sales of cars and light trucks rose to an 11.2 million annual unit rate in July, the highest since September.
The “cash-for-clunkers” program, which offered buyers discounts of as much as $4,500 to trade in older cars and trucks for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles, produced almost 700,000 automobile sales before ending on Aug. 24, the Transportation Department said yesterday.
One definite fly in the ointment in California is the likely closing of the state’s last auto plant, the the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont. Hailed as a harbinger of a new auto industry back in the 1980s, NUMMI was a partnership between General Motors and Toyota.
But GM, reeling even before the global recession, and since taken over by the federal government, pulled out of the plant. And now Toyota, which is also suffering, is following suit.
Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, who is leading in a September 1st special election for a Bay Area Congressional seat, said he’s still hopeful the plant can be saved.
“California and Toyota have a special relationship,” said Garamendi. “California is one of Toyota’s biggest global markets and the NUMMI auto plant is one of their most efficient, indirectly employing 25,000 to 35,000 hardworking Californians. I would hate to see that relationship disrupted by the closure of NUMMI and I am optimistic that a resolution can still be reached that works for Toyota, their employees, their vendors and California.”
That sounds pretty optimistic to me. Meanwhile, the plant, the first ever to be shuttered by Toyota, which is struggling itself, is scheduled to close next March, costing 4700 jobs directly, and many in more in affiliated businesses.
Toyota is slashing its global vehicle production by nearly a million units.
** JERRY BROWN AND THE MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL. That made you sit up straight …
Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown holds one of the real action-oriented offices in California government. As you might guess, not being the shy and retiring type, he doesn’t lay back in the job. Most of the things he does I never mention here, in part because the purported race he’s in, for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, isn’t really a race at all. (Not that Brown has actually announced he’s running, mind you.)
Yesterday was one of his more intriguing days, as he went to the city of Imperial and announced a move against Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Cartel. Brown’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement worked since January with Imperial County authorities to determine how the Sinaloa cartel is smuggling drugs into California. Surveillance and undercover operations across Southern California established that Calexico is a key transit point, utilizing vehicles with hidden compartments.
Brown announced the indictment of 16 individuals for drug trafficking, four of them unnamed to avoid compromising ongoing investigations, and the seizure of weapons, millions in cash, and hundreds of pounds of cocaine. He also met with the attorney general of the Mexican state of Baja California to discuss the problem along with the sheriff and district attorney of Imperial County.
Incidentally, I mentioned that Moore Methods poll the other day that has Brown ahead of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, 49% to 20%. I forgot to mention that Brown also leads the super-rich Republican hopefuls by large margins.
It’s Brown 42%, ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman 32%. And Brown 45%, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner 32%. Newsom, in contrast, trails.
The only reason why the scenario of Jerry Brown vs. a super-rich Republican nominee holds any real interest is because of their ability to spend large amounts of money out of their own bank accounts.
President Barack Obama spoke yesterday at Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, Massachusetts on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama, along with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, is in Martha’s Vineyard this week on vacation.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings.
He is preparing to deliver the eulogy for Senator Ted Kennedy on Saturday morning in Boston. Also in attendance will be former President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Jimmy Carter.
After a last motorcade from Hyannis Port to Boston, departing at 11 AM Pacific, the late senator will lie in repose at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston this afternoon and evening.
Back in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden meets today with General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and later with Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Biden will speak Friday night at a public wake for Ted Kennedy at the Kennedy Library, as will 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
The usual quiet life outside the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts is upended by the massive media presence occasioned by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, preparing to go back East for another Kennedy family funeral, gives two speeches today in Southern California.
At 9:15 AM, he appears at the 2010 California Complete Count Committee Regional Convening meeting where he will deliver remarks.
The convening will discuss how to reach “Hard To Count” populations in Los Angeles County for the 2010 Census.
Then Schwarzenegger goes to the San Diego area where he will tour a charter school in Chula Vista.
At 11 AM, he will deliver remarks at Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School on the need for California to qualify for the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top Federal Funding.
** CAMELOT ENDS, AGAIN: THE PASSING OF SENATOR TED KENNEDY. Camelot has ended. Again.
The death late last night in Massachusetts of Ted Kennedy, one of the historic lions of the United States Senate, followed swiftly on the heels of his sister, the Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who passed away on August 11th. With the passing of these two very public personalities, only one of the siblings of JFK and RFK, the much more private former Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith, remains.
Camelot has ended again. Which means that it has ended before. And probably will again. For it is a legend, and legend seldom dies for long, if at all.
Camelot was the nickname for John F. Kennedy’s thousand day administration of the early 1960s, chosen because of the young president’s fondness for the hit Broadway musical about the legendary court of King Arthur.
But it was really about much more than a single presidential administration, or the immediate promise of another under a President Robert F. Kennedy, or the long lingering promise of yet another under a President Edward M. Kennedy, or even the transferred promise of another under a President Barack Obama.
It’s about a spirit, a spirit which to many seemed to have been captured like lightning in a bottle in the early 1960s, an exciting time of promise and peril, which accounts for that era’s powerful hold on the American popular imagination.
Ted Kennedy himself captured the spirit of the thing in his great eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on June 8th, 1968 when he quoted from his second slain brother’s speech to the youth of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation a few years earlier.
“The answer is to rely on youth. Not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” …
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “LOVE AMONG THE RUINS.” … From my August 24th column.
** 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 August 20th 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.
** 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 is trading around $71 per barrel.
This is up about $37 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.