President Barack Obama announced that former Senators Chuck Hagel, a Republican, and David Boren, a Democrat, have agreed to serve as co-chairmen of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. The previous members, who included former California Governor Pete Wilson, all appointed by former President George W. Bush, agreed to resign en masse when Obama took office.
** FLASH — IT IS THE DAY FOR GAVIN. HE’S GONE, AS REPORTED FIRST ON NWN. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom dropped his longshot bid for governor of California at 3 PM today.
Frankly, despite all the hype from a credulous local press, he never had a chance.
This leaves Jerry Brown, already the favorite for the governorship in 2010, as the de facto Democratic nominee.
The field has been cleared.
As long anticipated on NWN.
There’s a lot more to say. But I’ve already said it.
** IS THIS THE DAY FOR GAVIN? Rumors are flying that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will drop his longshot bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
I don’t know for sure if he’ll do it today. However, the end of his candidacy is only a matter of time. One way or the other.
** SCHWARZENEGGER AND BIDEN TALK ECONOMY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vice President Joe Biden appeared together today in Washington to talk up the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus efforts.
Also on hand was Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, an old colleague of mine from the Gary Hart for President days. A great guy. Marty was an advance man, which I think is one of the best ways to get politics.
Hey, how come I’m not governor of a mid-Atlantic state?
Anyway, I digress.
The Obama administration on Friday touted reports of 640,000 stimulus jobs, the latest economic numbers and the backing of a Republican governor to try to undercut GOP attacks on the effect of its massive $787 billion package.
Reports to be released Friday afternoon will show that stimulus projects, such as highway and other infrastructure work, have directly saved or created 640,239 jobs, Vice President Joe Biden said. White House officials said a total of about 1 million jobs have been created or saved by the stimulus when taking into account the roughly 400,000 jobs that come from the economic effect of tax cuts, increased Pell Grants and other direct payments not measured in Friday’s reports.
“I can say, without fear of being contradicted by a responsible source, that so far we have created over a million jobs,” Biden said.
Biden also noted that the GDP grew by a 3.5 percent annualized rate in the third quarter of 2009, marking the first time the economy expanded since last year’s second quarter. Economists “left, right and center have attributed it to the Recovery Act,” he added. …
Republicans at every turn have cast skepticism on the stimulus’s positive effect. They’ve noted that the unemployment rate, less than 8 percent when President Barack Obama took office, is now at nearly 10 percent. …
Biden appeared Friday with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of a handful of Republicans outside Washington who publicly pushed for the White House’s stimulus package.
“This is not something that is a Democrat issue here or a Republican issue; this is a people’s issue,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s a jobs issue. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Schwarzenegger also took on GOP suggestions that the stimulus reports have shown that the package hasn’t had much effect. He said the data to be posted Friday afternoon will show that California, struggling to close a $60 billion deficit, has seen more than 100,000 jobs as a direct result of the package, the most of any state.
“This is also what our numbers show,” Schwarzenegger added.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today.
It’s a big AfPak day today.
Obama has received his intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Obama has also signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room.
In addition to the president, here are the participants:
Vice President Joe Biden
Secretary of Defense Bob Gates
General James Jones, National Security Advisor
Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General James Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army
General James Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Notice the heavy contingent from the Department of the Navy, nearly half the group.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Pakistan, conferring with that nation’s leaders.
Obama is monitoring geopolitical crises in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
Iran, which seemed, after a typical stalling tactic, to accept the nuclear deal it negotiated last week in Vienna, albeit with big caveats, has now said no to it.
Strange doings in the Islamic republic.
Obama is also monitoring the meeting of the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels. The group is discussing the powers of the first president of the European Union, who may be elected in the next few months by representatives of EU nations.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the leading candidate for president of the European Union. Blair, of course, is at once loved and hated, highly controversial for his role in backing America in the invasion of Iraq and the war on terror.
Blair’s candidacy, which he has not officially declared, is running into opposition from the left, for his former alliance with George W. Bush, and the right, because he is a social democrat.
He may also be too big a figure for the liking both of aspiring leaders on the world stage — who don’t like being overshadowed — and smaller countries, who fear that he will ignore them.
In any event, the European Union must decide whether it wants a real president or a sort of convener, as the duties of the office are not spelled out in the founding document.
The European Union is also running into trouble with regard to climate change. This is a bad sign for the Copenhagen conference in December.
The European Union is to provide finance for developing nations to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions. But Eastern European countries, never rich to begin with, are mired in deep recessions and don’t want to ante up.
Highly-regarded Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, the ex-New York police commissioner, is stepping down for a high-paying private sector job, raising fears that the department will suffer in his absence.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Washington today.
No legislative action yet on the big proposed California water deal.
Schwarzenegger holds a press conference with Vice President Joe Biden at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to discuss actions to stimulate the economic recovery.
He holds another press availability at another site nearby a little later to address specifically California-oriented questions on the economy.
** AFGHANISTAN, AGAIN: THE THICKET OBAMA’S NOT GETTING OUT OF. President Barack Obama is fixing to reveal his latest strategy for Afghanistan, perhaps after the election a week from Friday. He appears to be preparing to split the difference. Perhaps he should be preparing to split the territory.
Afghanistan has a government, of a sort, but it doesn’t really have a nation. It won’t have a nation unless we build it. And there is no guarantee that, as the saying goes, if we build it, they will come. …
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “THE GYPSY AND THE HOBO.” … From my October 26th review.
** CHINATOWN’S 35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION AND THE POLANSKI SCANDAL. In one of the great ironies, the 35th anniversary edition of Chinatown came out this month, nearly at the same time that its director, Roman Polanski, was arrested in Switzerland after fleeing Los Angeles over 30 years ago following a guilty plea and brief imprisonment for unlawful sex with a minor.
Chinatown, the tale of a smart, tough detective investigating what he thinks, at first, is a simple case of infidelity in late 1930s Los Angeles, is my favorite film. On the surface, it’s a period detective picture, a big Hollywood movie with the trappings of film noir. Beneath, it’s much more. Armed with an alarmingly intelligent screenplay by Robert Towne, brilliantly cast from stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway down through the extras, the film creates its own mesmerizing world through evocative music, costuming, and production design.
“You may think you know what you’re dealing with, Mr. Gits. But believe me, you don’t.” (Words to always keep in in mind, which I sometimes have not.) From my October 23rd essay.
** OBAMA IN THE THICKET OF “AFGHANIRANISTAN.” Considering that he is the most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama is in a seemingly curious set of positions. He’s spurred major military offensives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has been deeply enmeshed in a tense stand-off with Iran.
There are many complex things to be said about each of these situations, which are all interrelated with not only one another, but also US relations with such challenging countries as Israel and Russia. But let’s start with the basic versions. …
Obama is in the thicket of “Afghaniranistan,” a multi-faceted complex of geopolitical crises. He is actively using military force in two of the countries, and has threatened, at the least, tough sanctions in the third. (The Obama Administration also recently accelerated the development of advanced bunker-buster bombs, suitable for use against, say, underground nuclear facilities.)
Which is a seemingly odd place for the most recent Nobel Peace Prize winner to be. … From my October 21st column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “THE COLOR BLUE.” … From my October 19th review.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “WEE SMALL HOURS.” … From my October 12th review.
** WHY OBAMA DOESN’T DESERVE THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, OR THE OLYMPICS RAP. … From my October 9th column.
** ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JERRY BROWN, BILL CLINTON AND THAT CRAZY CALIFORNIA GOVERNORSHIP. … From my October 8th essay.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “SOUVENIR.” … From my October 5th review.
** IRANIAN CRISIS: PROGRESS, PROBLEMS. … From my October 2nd column.
** IRANIAN CRISIS: RUN-UP TO NEGOTIATION. … From my September 30th 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 $78 per barrel.
This is up about $44 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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