Following its customary pattern of demonstrating peaceful intent when in the midst of global controversy, Iran has fired off a series of short-range missiles, including a first-ever demonstration of a multiple-missile launcher. Global tensions will ratchet up further with Iranian firings of medium and long-range missiles taking place place shortly.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has no scheduled public events today.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings.
He’s monitoring the situation with Iran, which in the wake of revelations of its previously secret nuclear facility is in the midst of a series of missile launches.
He’s also awaiting the outcome of today’s German federal elections.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to be returned to office, but her moderate conservative party will again have to form a coalition in order to govern. Her choice of coalition partners will have great bearing on Germany’s domestic and foreign policy.
Should her Christian Democrats retain its current coalition with the Social Democrats, the latter will retain the foreign minister post and current social welfare policies will remain in place.
Should Merkel choose to form a coalition with the Free Democrats, a more dovish foreign policy may emerge, along with more free market economic policies. Or it may be one or the other, depending upon which senior cabinet portfolio is allotted.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE – SUNDAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today.
His would-be Republican successors engaged in various political firefights yesterday at the California Republican convention in Indian Wells.
The event was reportedly dominated by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s evident failure to register to vote until she was in his late 40s.
Rival Steve Poizner, the state insurance commissioner, again urged her to drop out of the race, noting that no one has ever been elected governor of an American state with such a record of civic non-involvement.
Poizner came under fire from Whitman for his past moderation. Poizner also came under fire from the press and from a third hopeful, former Congressman Tom Campbell, for urging massive tax cuts which he says will actually raise revenues without being able to back up his claim.
Whitman criticized Schwarzenegger, though not by name, for championing California’s landmark climate change program. She said it needs to be eliminated. She also further upped the ante by saying that environmentalists don’t care about jobs or people.
Whitman said she’d cut the state budget another $15 billion. But won’t say what she’ll cut till after she’s elected. She should get used to saying “if,” and modifying that with “big.” Poizner also won’t say what he’ll cut from the state budget.
All in all, a very good weekend. For the other party.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Obama discussed his week of summit meetings.
** OBAMA TODAY – SATURDAY. President Barack Obama is in the White House today.
Obama has had his daily intelligence and economic briefings.
At 5:10 PM Pacific, he delivers remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Obama is awaiting the results of Sunday’s election in Germany.
Obama has received a request for more troops in Afghanistan from his new commander there, General Stanley McChrystal.
I rather suspect he won’t be getting them. Amongst others, Vice President Joe Biden is opposed to any further mission creep into nation-building via a counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan, preferring a counter-terrorist strategy focused on Al Qaeda.
What’s important to note about the McChrystal report, leaked last Sunday to Bob Woodward, as I mentioned in my new column, is that, while the general says the current strategy will fail without more troops, he doesn’t say it will succeed with more troops.
Obama is also monitoring the international reaction to the revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear facility, which is not yet complete. While this facility, and this is a distinction that is at once significant and insignificant, won’t produce actual nuclear weapons, it will produce the material needed for nuclear weapons.
Negotiations with Iran begin on October 1st in Geneva.
After a lot of defensive posturing yesterday, Iran says today that it will open the facility for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But it won’t say when. And as the facility is not yet in operation, an inspection today is fairly meaningless.
There’s been a large and strong reaction around the world to yesterday’s revelation. Russia, as you can see in the video below, is now taking a much tougher line on Iran, whose bacon it has saved a number of times in recent years.
Indeed, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev warmly praised Obama in a talk to students at the University of Pittsburgh.
China also condemned Iran for its secret facility.
But much of the commentary also centers on underlying feelings about Israel, many of them harshly negative. It’s obvious that there are far more people around the world than we’d like to think who agree with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his “Death to Israel” sentiments.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE – SATURDAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today.
Schwarzenegger put in an appearance last night at the California Republican Party convention in Indian Wells. In contrast to his speech at the same location, and on the same Friday night, two years ago, it was uneventful.
Schwarzenegger’s former state finance director, former Silicon Valley Congressman and Stanford and Berkeley professor Tom Campbell, now a gubernatorial hopeful, also spoke.
Gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, now at each other’s throats — Whitman’s failing being that she never bothered to register to vote until she was in her late 40s and Poizner’s being past family contributions to Democrats and moderation on taxes — speak today to the highly conservative gathering.
Two years ago, it was a much bigger deal. (Which why I was there, after previewing Schwarzenegger’s coming speech in a column.) Schwarzenegger chided the party in a major address for turning too far to the right. He got a tepid response, especially in contrast to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who followed him immediately afterwards and delivered the hard right stuff. Perry, you may recall, said earlier this year that Texas should considering seceding from the United States. More recently. he denied that Texas has been in a recession, which will not help him in his re-election campaign.
Schwarzenegger is also contemplating when to call the California Legislature back in special session to deal with outstanding issues on water and educational reform, as well as a possible special session on a several times delayed set of recommendations from a special state tax revision commission.
The latter, as I’ve been mentioning for months, looks like a political non-starter.
And he is preparing for his second governors’ global climate summit at the end of next week at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, in a seeming about-face for Moscow, says that Iran’s construction of a secret nuclear facility is clearly contrary to United Nations Security Council resolutions.
** OBAMA’S SUMMITEERING: HIGH ALTITUDE HEADACHES AND RUMORS OF WAR. As any hiker knows, high altitudes often lead to headaches, and President Barack Obama has had a few at his New York summits. They center around AfPak, the perennial question of Israel and Palestine, and Iran. And today the latter went front and center, with war a real possibility in the wake of this morning’s revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear facility.
Even as he unleashed another masterful speech on the global stage, Obama struggled with a few emerging realities.
First, that his latest apparent strategy of nation-building in Afghanistan is bound to fail without about 200,000 troops, which the nation simply wouldn’t allow, to back it up.
Next, the eternal quandary of Israel and Palestine, with the new right-wing Israeli government refusing, in various forms of gobbledygook, to stop settlements by religious fundamentalists on the disputed West Bank and various Arab actors refusing to fully recognize Israel.
And finally, the apparent intransigence of Iran, which says it doesn’t want nuclear weapons even as it apparently insists on its right to them, notwithstanding its signature on the Nonproliferation Treaty. …
** MAD MEN‘S EMMY TRIUMPH COMES AS “GUY WALKS INTO AN ADVERTISING AGENCY.” Last night’s repeat win at the Emmy Awards further enshrined Mad Men as television’s best series on a night when it aired a consequential new episode.
Before getting to the review of “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency” — a very ironic title, as it happens — replete with the usual spoilers, a few thoughts about Mad Men as the new Sopranos.
While it will never have the populist appeal of a well-written show about angst-ridden mobsters, Mad Men is something I find even more interesting. It’s a highly cinematic time tunnel from a fascinating period, the early 1960s, to the present. It’s a show about the American Dream, about aspiration and identity and value, revolving around some very intriguing characters in perhaps the most quintessential of American businesses. Advertising defines the American Dream and reflects it, all in an endless loop of desire and dissatisfaction, ever adjusting to change and co-opting it. For one purpose: To convince you that you need what it’s selling. …
** OBAMA AND AL QAEDA: NEW MOVES SHOW SUCCESS MAY NOT DEPEND ON AFGHANISTAN. While things are going quite ruggedly for America in Afghanistan, they may be going worse for Al Qaeda everywhere. Osama bin Laden’s taunting 9/11 anniversary message was days late and very lame. And President Barack Obama’s lethal approach to dealing with the organization that attacked America on 9/11 took a startling, and still more lethal, turn this week in Somalia.
Which raises a central question: Are we not in fact much closer to achieving our central goal in Afghanistan than most imagine? … From my September 17th column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: THE FOG.” … From my September 14th review.
** 9/11 + 8: WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE WE’RE GOING. Eight years since 9/11. It feels like 18 years, if not 80.
So much has changed since then, yet so much is still the same.
We all remember how America seemed unified in 9/11’s aftermath, especially in contrast to the disunity engendered by the Florida election debacle. And much of the world embraced America. Then there was the fear, the feeling that another jihadist strike inside America was surely coming.
All that remains of any of that is the permanent wartime footing at the airports.
Well, that and Osama bin Laden, along with an ongoing problem for America in the Islamic world. And a confused Afghanistan strategy. … From my September 11th column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “THE ARRANGEMENTS.” … From my September 7th review.
** WHY THE KENNEDY EULOGIES STRUCK THE RIGHT TONE. … From my September 2nd column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “MY OLD KENTUCKY HOME.” … From my August 31st review.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “LOVE AMONG THE RUINS.” … From my August 24th column.
** OBAMA AND THE AFGHAN ELECTION: WHAT IT MEANS, WHAT IT DOESN’T. … From my August 20th 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, 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. You can listen to my recent video webchat with Schwarzenegger here.
** 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 $66.02 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
This is up about $32 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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