With President Barack Obama holding no public events on Yom Kippur, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today that Iran must demonstrate full and immediate transparency on its just revealed nuclear facility.
** QUICK HITS. The Meg Whitman pushback today against the emerging line that she couldn’t be bothered to vote until she started thinking about running for governor of California a few years ago is that Sonny Bono didn’t vote, either. Frankly, if I were Republican wannabe governor Whitman and this was the best my very extensive and expensive PR staff could come up with, I’d fire the lot of them. I’ll have more to say about sophisticated public relations down the line. This ain’t it. Of course, their fault, as my old mentor Regis McKenna would point out, lies in failing to perform an adequate external audit on their client. … A Rasmussen poll shows Jerry Brown with double digit leads over all Republicans and Gavin Newsom trailing all Republicans. But Bill Clinton adding Newsom to his 20-plus list of Hillary Clinton campaign reward fundraisers will change all this, of course. (That’s a little joke. And how much are Newsom’s spinners getting paid for their nonsense?) … German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not yet formed her coalition government with the preferred conservative partner, the Free Democrats. I’ll explain tomorrow why it’s not all that easy. Incidentally, that coalition would lead to a more dovish German foreign policy from the American perspective. …
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “SEVEN TWENTY THREE.” In history, the solar eclipse is an omen of things to come, frequently upsetting. And so it is with “Seven Twenty Three,” an episode which caused some confusion in advance. And some after as well, with a major newspaper blog still failing to grasp what the title is about, mistakenly saying it’s a time in the morning.
As always with these reviews, there be spoilers ahead, so if you’ve not yet seen this key episode, you’ve been warned.
Since the previews on Mad Men, unlike most movie trailers, are structured in such a way that they really don’t tell you anything about what’s coming, and even actively mislead you, I noticed a lot of fan blogging speculation about the cryptic title of this episode. A prevalent theory had it that the title is related to David Ogilvy, the British advertising guru who published the classic “Confessions of An Ad Man” in 1963. But what did the number mean? One favored explanation was that Ogilvy’s funeral was on July 23, 1963. Since he actually died in 1989, that was incorrect.
What “Seven Twenty Three” is is Don Draper’s Waterloo. Or I should say, Dick Whitman’s Waterloo. That’s the day in 1963 on which Don Draper/Dick Whitman gets lassoed. Fitting, as it’s his Westerner hotel magnate friend Connie Hilton who sets it in motion.
But before we get to that, let’s go back to the beginning of the episode. Which was actually near the middle, per the Lost-style flash forward/flashback mode now in vogue. … From my new review.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who control the secret nuclear facility just revealed on Friday, have just test fired medium-range and long-range missiles, the latter of which can reach Israel. Today is, not by coincidence, the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Another big week on tap in president politics, and another not so big week in California politics. Of course, you never know what might happen. Case in point being last week’s revelation of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman’s astonishing record of never voting for nearly the first half century of her life. Well, not exactly astonishing, perhaps striking is a better term.
While Obama is working to reconcile various versions of a national health care reform bill, the week will be largely dominated by the controversy swirling around Iran and its nuclear program. Representatives of the US, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany will meet with Iranian representatives in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday. I’ll obviously be writing more about this, but for now see the Friday column linked below.
The Iranian regime, in its inimitable fashion, has just held a series of provocative missile launches, including a test firing of long-range missiles capable of hitting Israel. Today is the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Friday prayers in Tehran regularly include the charming chant “Death to Israel.”
While the heretofore secret Iranian nuclear 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.
After a lot of defensive posturing, Iran says now 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 now is fairly meaningless.
There’s been a large and strong reaction around the world to Friday’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 may not be on board for sanctions. China has recently begun shipping gasoline, a critical area of vulnerability in the Iranian economy, which lacks refining capability, to the Islamic republic.
Obama will make an in-person pitch on Friday in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Chicago. He’s the first president to travel abroad for this purpose. Incidentally, it’s not that far from Geneva to Copenhagen.
Obama is also contemplating a Germany which has just moved further to the right. On Sunday, he congratulated newly re-elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel’s Christian Democrats will form a new parliamentary coalition with the conservative Free Democrats. As a result, a more dovish foreign policy may emerge, along with more free market economic policies. The Social Democrats, which have been part of Merkel’s grand coalition, had their worst electoral showing since World War II.
Obama is reviewing 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 a week ago 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.
In California politics, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is 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 this week at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
California Republicans, who hold two state conventions per year while the Democrats have a more normal annual convention, just had their second convention of the year in Indian Wells, outside Palm Springs. All in all, it was a very good convention.
For Jerry Brown.
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 past moderation on taxes — spoke to the highly conservative gathering.
The event was reportedly dominated by former eBay CEO Whitman’s evident failure to register to vote until she was in her 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 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.
Two years ago, this convention, which was apparently not well attended, was a much bigger deal, at the same resort location in Indian Wells. (Which is why I was there, after previewing Schwarzenegger’s convention 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 consider 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.
Maybe he should run for the California GOP nod.
Chancellor Angela Merkel won re-election Sunday in Germany and will form a center-right government. The left-of-center Social Democrats had their worst electoral showing since World War II.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today.
He has no scheduled public events on this day, the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.
Obama has had his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with Vice President Joe Biden and senior advisors in the Oval Office.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no scheduled public events today, the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.
He is holding private discussions in Los Angeles.
** 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. … From my new column.
** 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. … From my September 21st review.
** 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. … 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.
** 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 is trading around $67 per barrel.
This is up about $33 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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