The Obama Administration is planning new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, focusing on energy, finance, and telecommunications. Negotiations take place on Thursday in Geneva.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … IRAN CRISIS: RUN-UP TO NEGOTIATION.
** QUICK HITS. What is it with Californians wandering over the borders of hostile nations? First it was the two California-based journalists for Current TV wandering over the North Korean border and being seized by border guards. Next it was three graduates of UC Berkeley wandering into Iran. In a conciliatory move, Iran announced today that Swiss diplomats, who represent American interests in Tehran, were allowed to visit wayward hikers Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd. Next time, boys and girls, pay more attention to your surroundings. … Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, having finally received oft-delayed recommendations from a state tax revision commission, today called a special legislative session to examine the proposals. Schwarzenegger also released statements of praise for the commission’s work from Senator Dianne Feinstein, former Governor Gray Davis, former state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, and former state Senator President Pro Tem Don Perata. But the statements tended to be rather carefully couched. The package was denounced by a number of labor and business organizations. … GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman has another explanation for why she didn’t register to vote until she was in her late 40s. Giving the latest in a string of speeches to local Republican volunteer groups, she said today that she didn’t realize how bad politics was for business until she became CEO of eBay, which inspired her to become a voter. Ahhh … (She’d been CEO of eBay for four years before registering.) …
** SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE REJECTS PUBLIC OPTION ON NATIONAL HEALTH CARE. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted down the so-called public option, which would create a competing health service, as part of national health care reform. The vote wasn’t close. Five Democratic senators joined with all the Republicans on the committee in voting no.
The panel voted 16-8 against a government-run insurance plan in the first of what is expected to be several battles in Congress over the public option, one of the most contentious issues in the raging U.S. debate over healthcare reform.
Obama has made reforming the hugely expensive U.S. healthcare system his top domestic priority.
Five Democrats joined all the panel Republicans in opposing inclusion of the government-run option in the bill. The issue is expected to be raised again in the full Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Senate Finance plan by Democratic Chairman Max Baucus is the only healthcare bill pending in Congress that does not have a public insurance plan, which Obama and other backers say would boost competition for insurers.
Republican critics said the public option would devastate the private insurance industry and ultimately lead to a government takeover of the sector.
Democratic Senator John Rockefeller, who offered an amendment to insert a public option, said the approach would give the public more choices and force the insurance industry to compete.
** SANTORUM HEADS TO IOWA. Former Senator Rick Santorum, a darling of neoconservatives and social conservatives, heads to Iowa for a lecture on Thursday. He’s testing the waters for a presidential race. Santorum was blown out for re-election in Pennsylvania in 2006, but he has a real appeal to the hard right. If Sarah Palin doesn’t run, or if she implodes (further), there an awful lot of votes out there for him.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the Oval Office.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in the Oval Office.
Tonight the Bidens host a reception in honor of the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act at the Naval Observatory.
Obama is monitoring several situations.
The Senate Finance Committee is haggling over the public option for national health care reform.
In Afghanistan, a recount is underway in the hotly disputed August 20th presidential election.
And the US, Britain, France, China, Germany, and Russia are preparing for negotiations with Iran on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland.
Even as the US and Russia show a new rapport, with Moscow key to the Iranian crisis, Russia and Belarus staged war games on the border of NATO countries.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has private discussions today in and around the Capitol.
At 11:30 AM, Schwarzenegger will formally receive a report from a special tax revision commission and hold a press conference.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “SEVEN TWENTY THREE.” … From my new review.
** 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.
** 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.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.