Speaking at a General Electric plant in upstate New York, President Barack Obama said that “putting the economy into overdrive” is his top priority and named GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as head of the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA AND THE JFK INAUGURAL 50 YEARS ON.
** QUICK HITS. As cities unsurprisingly threaten to sue as he moves forward with his plan to redirect redevelopment funds to core services, Governor Jerry Brown’s plans continued to unfold today. State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg told the Sacramento Bee Capitol bureau that he will pursue legislation during the latest emergency budget session of the Legislature to streamline regulations. That may attract a few Republican votes, as well as help gain business support for a special election grand alliance to continue temporary tax hikes. … Meanwhile, Brown’s governmental team continues to develop at what can only be described as a glacial pace. It may not matter. Yet. …
** LIVE COVERAGE OF SARGENT SHRIVER’S FUNERAL WAKE begins at 3:30 PM Pacific on CNN.com from Holy Trinity Church in Washington.
** NEW SURVEY: OBAMA’S AVERAGE JOB APPROVAL LAST YEAR 10.5% LOWER THAN FIRST YEAR. A new Gallup Poll survey reveals that President Barack Obama’s job approval in the second year of his presidency averaged over 10 points lower than in his first year.
But Obama has had a significant upswing since the November mid-term elections in which Democrats lost the House of Representatives and suffered major setbacks most everywhere in the country outside California.
At around 47%, Obama’s average job approval in his second year was far below the record for a modern presidency, which was 72% for John F. Kennedy.
But it’s above the 45% and 43% registered by, respectively, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
Obama’s low second-year ratings are due in large part to the struggles of the U.S. economy. The other presidents with low second-year averages also took office during difficult economic times. With a Democratic congressional majority, Obama was able to achieve much legislatively, most notably the landmark, though not altogether popular, healthcare legislation passed in March 2010.
From his first to his second year in office, Obama’s average approval rating fell 10.5 percentage points, one of the largest first- to second-year drops Gallup has measured. Only Carter and Reagan had larger drops among elected presidents. …
Among all post-World War II presidents, Harry Truman had the largest drop, 37.8 points, from his first to second year in office. His 79.3% first-year average in 1945 was boosted by the rally in public support after Franklin Roosevelt’s death and the United States’ defeat of the Germans and Japanese in World War II.
George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are the only presidents whose average approval ratings did not decline from their first to second years in office; they benefited from rallies in public support due to international crises (Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001). …
However, the eighth quarter did bring some encouraging signs for Obama. Though his 46.0% quarterly average is still low in an absolute sense, this marks the first time his approval rating has improved from one quarter to the next, although by a modest 1.3 points. …
Obama’s more recent numbers have been even more positive, hovering around 50%. In fact, Obama ends his second year and eighth quarter in office with a 51% job approval rating in the latest Gallup Daily three-day rolling average, his best since May. …
Although President Obama accomplished a lot during his second year in office, it was a challenging year for him politically. His approval ratings generally held below the majority level, and were arguably a major reason his party suffered heavy losses during the midterm elections in November. He begins his third year in office on a bit of an upswing, hoping for continued improvement in his public support.
There is no clear pattern of change in presidents’ approval ratings between their second and third year; about as many improved (Truman, Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Reagan, the elder Bush, and Clinton) as got worse (John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Carter, the younger Bush).
President Barack Obama celebrated the 50th anniversary of the JFK Inaugural last night at Kennedy Center, in the process also honoring the late Sargent Shriver.
** Remarks by President Barack Obama at the 50th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration — The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C., 1/20/11
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. To Caroline and the Kennedy family, to all the members of Congress and distinguished guests here tonight, it is an extraordinary pleasure to join you to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. (Applause.) And I can’t think of a better place to do it than here, in a living memorial that reflects not only his love of the arts, but also his recognition of how the arts can help sustain our national strength. (Applause.)
Now, we mark this anniversary with a measure of sadness, as we remember the extraordinary life of Sargent Shriver –(applause) — a man who embodied the spirit of the New Frontier as well as anybody. When a person passes away, there’s often an urge to define their legacy, and find a way in which it will endure. In the case of Sarge, that is not hard to do. His legacy is written in the villages around the world that have clean water or a new school through the Peace Corps. It’s written into the lives of all the children in our own country whose fortunes have been lifted through Head Start. And it will endure in the work of his children who are living out his legacy of service, and our thoughts and prayers are with them tonight.
One of the remarkable aspects in commemorating the JFK inauguration, in remembering those who were part of his team, like Sargent Shriver, who would help bring Kennedy’s soaring vision to life, is that none of it feels dated. Even now, one half century later, there is something about that day -– January 20, 1961 -– that feels immediate, feels new and urgent and exciting, despite the graininess of the 16-millimeter news reels that recorded it for posterity.
There he is, the handsome Bostonian, summoning a generation to service and a nation to greatness, in a speech that would become part of the American canon. And there’s the crowd, bundled up for the cold, making their way through streets white with snow, full of expectation. A nation, feeling young again, its mood brightened by the promise of a new decade.
Now, I confess, I don’t have my own memories of that day. (Laughter.) I wasn’t born until later that year. (Laughter.) What I know of that day and the 1,000 days that followed -– what I know of President Kennedy –- came from a mother and grandparents who adored him; from books I read and classes I took; from growing up in a country still mourning its beloved leader, whose name was spoken with reverence. And I know him through the legacy of his children and his brother Teddy who became extraordinarily dear friends of mine.
But I know him, John F. Kennedy, less as a man than as an icon, as a larger-than-life figure who graced this Earth for one brief and shining moment. But part of the function of this event, on this day, we must remember him as he was — as a father who loved his children, as a friend who lived life fully, as a noble public servant who wanted to make a difference.
A quick wit with a light touch, he was dealt, in many ways, a fortunate hand at birth. Attending one event, early in his career, where every speaker before him pompously claimed humble roots — things haven’t changed that much — (laughter) — John Kennedy confessed, when he took the podium, that he was –- and I quote -– “the only fellow here who didn’t come up the hard way.” (Laughter.)
And yet, it cannot be said that John F. Kennedy lived an easy life. He lost an older brother in the war; a sister shortly thereafter. He nearly lost his own life, too, when a Japanese gunship cut his PT boat in half, casting him into the water, from which he swam a crewmate to safety. Another sister struggled with a severe mental handicap. His own health was so poor that priests pronounced his last rites on several different occasions. And he endured the personal prejudice and political poison of anti-Catholic fervor.
And there is surely a possibility, under such circumstances, that a person will retreat from the world; that a person, particularly one born to wealth, will seek a life of luxury and ease; that a person, confronted by the coldness of chance, will become bitter or cynical or small. It has happened to others.
But that is not the life that John F. Kennedy chose. As he famously said at a press conference, “life is unfair.” We can’t choose the lots we are given in life, but we can choose how to live that life. John F. Kennedy chose a life in the arena, full of confidence that our country could surmount any obstacle, as he’d seen it do himself. He chose a life of leadership, fired not by naïve optimism, but committed realism; “idealism,” as his wife Jackie put it, “without illusions.” That is the idealism -– soaring but sober –- that inspired the country and the world one half century ago.
I can only imagine how he must have felt, entering the Oval Office in turbulent times. (Laughter and applause.) The Soviet Premier, Khrushchev, had threatened to “bury” America just a few years before. Wars of Liberation, as they were called, were being waged around the globe -– from Laos and Vietnam to Congo and Cuba, just 90 miles from our shore. At home, a young preacher’s cause was gaining traction across a segregated land.
In this volatile America, this tinderbox of a world, President Kennedy led with a steadying hand, defusing the most perilous crisis of the Cold War without firing a single shot. Enforcing the rights of young black men and women to attend the university of their choice. Launching a corps of volunteers as ambassadors for peace in distant centers of the globe. Setting America’s sights on the moon, unwilling to lose the Space Race in the wake of Sputnik.
We know the moon-shot story. It’s a familiar one, often invoked to make the case for an ambitious idea. But it’s easy to lose sight of just how improbable it seemed in May of 1961. When President Kennedy proposed going to the moon, America had just 15 minutes of manned flight experience in space. NASA had neither a plan nor a shuttle for making a lunar voyage. (Laughter.) Its own engineers had taken out the slide rules, and they were deeply skeptical of the mission. (Laughter.)
The science just wasn’t there. President Kennedy understood that. But he also knew something else. He knew that we, as a people, can do big things. We can reach great heights. We can rise to any challenge, so long as we’re willing to ask what we can do for our country; so long as we’re willing to take America’s destiny into our own hands. What President Kennedy understood was the character of the people he led: our resilience, our fearlessness, our distinctly American ability, revealed time and again throughout history, to defy the odds, to fashion our future, to make the world anew.
The world is very different now than it was in 1961. We face new trials and new uncertainties, from our economy to our security. We have a politics that can often seem too small for the hardships at hand. So meeting these tests won’t be easy. But we cannot forget, we are the heirs of this President, who showed us what is possible. Because of his vision, more people prospered; more people served; our union was made more perfect. Because of that vision, I can stand here tonight as President of the United States. (Applause.)
So John F. Kennedy captured that American spirit that not only put a man on the moon, but saved a continent from tyranny and overcame a Great Depression; that forged, from 13 colonies, the last best hope on Earth. And if we can hold onto that spirit today, I know that our generation will answer its call as ably as earlier ones did before us.
In December 1962, President Kennedy was asked by the Saturday Evening Post to submit his favorite quotation. A student not only of history, but also of literature, he chose a passage written by the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., father of the Supreme Court justice. Mr. Holmes wrote:
“I find the great things in this world — is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: to reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -– but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
That, I think, captures well the daring, graceful spirit of the unfinished life we celebrate today; a life that inspires us and lights our way, as we sail on to the new frontiers of our own time. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless this country that we love. Thank you. (Applause.)
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, New York, and Maryland.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then hosted a reception for members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who are holding a convention elsewhere in Washington, in
At 7:50 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 8:05 AM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Albany, New York.
At 9:10 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Albany, New York.
At 10:05 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the economy at the General Electric Plant in Schenectady, New York.
This event was to have taken place just a few days after the tragedy in Tucscon, when it coincided with a GE anniversary, but was of course re-scheduled.
Obama is naming GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as chairman of his revamped economic advisory panel.
At 11:10 AM Pacific, Obama departs Albany, New York on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 12:05 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, where he boards Marine One.
At 12:20 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
At 3:30 PM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Cambridge, Maryland.
At 4:30 PM Pacific, Obama attends the Democratic Issues Conference at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay.
This is the annual retreat for Democratic members of the House of Representatives. The times I attended it, it was held at the famed Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. This is a less costly alternative.
Obama then returns to the White House, landing on the South Lawn at 6:45 PM Pacific.
For his part, at 10:45 AM Pacific, Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland.
Obama’s appointment of the CEO of General Electric to head his economic advisory panel is a sign that the president is responding, perhaps over-responding, to criticism that his administration is anti-corporate.
Obama is revamping his economic recovery advisory board, headed till now by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, recasting it as a commission on jobs and competitiveness and naming General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt as its chairman.
Meanwhile, many on the left already felt that Obama was too pro-corporate.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Tunisia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Korean peninsula, as well as the Wikileaks crisis.
One week after the ouster of President Ben Ali, protests continue in Tunisia.
The problem for Tunisia is that, with the exception of the ouster of the longtime autocratic president, the new government looks much like the old government.
In an Arab League summit in Egypt largely overlooked on account of the Tunisia story, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa warned that the Middle East is being “broken” by declining economic conditions for the vast majority of the populace which is low and no income.
Tunisia, he said, is an indicator of growing discontent in the Middle East.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is working on California’s chronic budget crisis and on developing his nascent administration.
He’s getting a lot of pushback from most quarters, each of which insists that sacrifice is needed, just sacrifice somewhere else.
In a move that may not improve his relationship with the governor, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, now a member of the University of California Board of Regents, has been speaking out against Brown’s proposed $500 million cut in the UC budget.
Newsom has gone from getting a lot of press attention, at least in San Francisco, as mayor of San Francisco, to getting virtually none as lieutenant governor of California.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Maryland and Washington, D.C. today.
Today a public wake will be held in honor of his late father-in-law, Sargent Shriver, from 4 to 8 PM EST at Holy Trinity Church in the Georgetown area of Washington.
This is the church where John F. Kennedy took Mass on the morning of his inauguration as president 50 years ago yesterday.
On Saturday, a funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Trinity Church in Potomac, Maryland. The former leading figure of Camelot was a native of Maryland.
Shriver will then be buried next to his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
** THE JERRY BROWN ERA UNFOLDS (AGAIN). And he is off and running as governor of California. Again. The first week of Jerry Brown’s governorship told us a lot, and set the stage for the second week, in which a hellacious state budget proposal is dominating.
First, let’s look at that, and then at the first week of the Brown governorship as he took over from Arnold Schwarzenegger. A week that was telling and even, in its way, festive. At least at first. …
From my January 11th feature.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. It’s the fate of Jerry Brown, the 34th and 39th governor of California, to succeed Republican movie stars as governor. Of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a much bigger movie star than Ronald Reagan ever dreamed of being. (And Reagan is a much bigger Republican than Schwarzenegger ever intended to be, as angry right-wingers have been pointing out for years.)
Schwarzenegger wasn’t simply the biggest action movie star in the world prior to winning his first landslide election as governor of California in 2003, he was, more specifically, the biggest science fiction movie star in the world.
Indeed, there is something decidedly sci-fi about him becoming governor of California. (Cue raucous comments.) And there’s always been something more than a little sci-fi about Jerry Brown. … From my January 3rd feature.
** MAD MEN FOR CHRISTMAS. … From my December 23rd column.
** 2010: A JERRY BROWN ODYSSEY. … From my December 20th feature.
** JERRY BROWN ON CRISES PAST AND PRESENT. … From my December 10th 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, 2009 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.
** 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 $89 per barrel.
This is up about $55 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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