U.S. officials are increasingly blaming Pakistan for the gross security lapses being seen in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen blaming the ISI intelligence service and fellow Californian Defense Secretary Leon Panetta taking a slightly less confrontational tack. The ISI has always been a problem, but this blame game attempts to distract from failures in Afghanistan.
** 9/23 TECH PROBLEMS, AGAIN. My Earthlink password was mysteriously changed this morning, without my permission, keeping me of the Internet while I dealt with the usual obscurantism and delaying New West Notes.
** QUICK HITS. Republican presidential candidates face off once again tonight in a debate in, once again, Florida broadcast, once again, on Fox News. Texas Governor Rick Perry has taken the Florida primary lead over former frontrunner Mitt Romney, and the jockeying between the two camps is intense. … The situation surrounding Palestinian recognition at the United Nations remains unsettled on the night before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s big speech to the UN General Assembly. … After signing renewable energy bills at a school outside Fresno today, Governor Jerry Brown holds two job creation bill-signing events tomorrow in San Francisco. … The speed of light, long held to be the theoretical limit, has reportedly been exceeded by neutrinos fired through the CERN particle accelerator outside Geneva. If accurate, this upends what we thought we knew about physical limitations.
** MEG WHITMAN TO RUN CALIFORNIA (ICON)! She’s back. And apparently out of her leading role in her mentor Mitt Romney’s formerly frontrunning campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Months after losing in a landslide to Governor Jerry Brown, billionaire Meg Whitman is back at the helm of a big Silicon Valley company. The former eBay CEO, who waged the biggest-spending non-presidential campaign in American history last year, only to be crushed by Brown, 54% to 41%, joined the board of Silicon Valley icon Hewlett-Packard in January. And today, with the HP board firing its third CEO in six years — a spate which began with Carly Fiorina, who also lost in a landslide last year in her bid against Senator Barbara Boxer — Whitman became the CEO of the Palo Alto-based firm founded by high tech legends David Packard and William Hewlett.
If she’s not simply an interim choice, and nothing emanating from HP is indicating that now, Whitman seems an odd choice.
Her entire background is in consumer products, and non-technical consumer products at that. Yes, she was head of eBay, but eBay uses technology, or more accurately, a technology platform, to sell stuff, it does not sell technology.
HP, in contrast, was arguably the principal seedbed of Silicon Valley. (Yes, there is an argument about it, but for purposes of this little piece, let’s let the point stand that HP is a high tech archetype.)
HP was a very big-time hardware company. It became famed for scientific calculators, for those who needed more than a slide rule. (If you’re asking, “what’s a slide rule?” we’re getting into tangent.) It produced scientific instruments. It produced large computers, then known as mini-computers. It later produced personal computers and laptops, not to mention very fine printers.
I got one of its great LaserJet printers back in the day, for a godawful amount of money. I have an HP ink jet printer in this office. But I don’t use it for much other than photography, and I’m not a big photographer, as I don’t print things out very often. Which begins to get at HP’s problem.
The world of technology has changed away from HP’s core hardware emphasis. So HP, like IBM before it, is trying to transition to becoming a software/business services/enterprise solutions-oriented company.
This is not Meg Whitman’s world any more than it’s my world. Her entire background is in consumer products.
Before she ran for governor of California, the brainstorm of her friend and former boss Mitt Romney, she made a real run at becoming CEO of Disney.
The expertise and skill set of someone who can run Disney and someone who can run Hewlett Packard are very different.
Whitman had appeared to be putting her major commitment of time and effort into Romney’s presidential candidacy. She was a national finance co-chair of his 2008 presidential campaign and was supposedly taking on a larger role this time around.
But with the “inevitable” nominee Romney now running second to Rick Perry — and America not terribly likely to elect a leveraged buyout artist as its president in any event — her focus seems to have changed.
Will that hurt Romney? Perhaps.
And perhaps not. The Perry campaign has delighted in quoting Romney’s national co-chair Whitman back at the former Massachusetts governor.
In her ill-fated run for governor of California, which personally cost her more than $150 million, Whitman repeatedly cited Perry’s Texas record as the model for what governance in California should be.
** NEW POLL: FOR THE FIRST TIME, MAJORITY NOW BLAME OBAMA FOR ECONOMY, BUT MANY MORE BLAME BUSH. A new Gallup Poll reveals that, for the first time, a slight majority of Americans blame President Barack Obama for the nation’s still sputtering economy. But many more blame former President George W. Bush.
And as we learned yesterday, most think the economy has been in recession all along, even when it was in recovery.
The great global recession began in 2007 during the Bush/Cheney Administration, though officials denied it until well into 2008.
The problem for Obama is he isn’t getting credit for improvements, mostly because there’s little perception of improvement for most.
The opportunity for Obama is that his would-be Republican rivals, such as Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, offer more of the same policies employed in the Bush/Cheney years.
Among independents, 60% blame Obama and 67% blame Bush.
A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation’s economic problems. However, Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush more. Nearly 7 in 10 blame Bush a great deal (36%) or a moderate amount (33%). …
Gallup found a substantially wider gap in public perceptions of how much responsibility Bush and Obama each bore for the economy when it first asked the question in July 2009, the sixth month of Obama’s presidency. That narrowed by March 2010, caused mainly by a jump in the percentage blaming Obama a great deal or moderate amount, and has since changed relatively little. However, the results from a new Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll are the first showing a majority of Americans, 53%, assigning significant blame to Obama. Forty-seven percent still say he is “not much” (27%) or “not at all” (20%) to blame. …
President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday in New York, dashing the hopes of Palestinians and their advocates pushing for full recognition of statehood but drawing praise from Israeli leaders.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … 9/11 AT 10+: DID OSAMA BIN LADEN WIN AFTER ALL?
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Ohio.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama then met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One for Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Air Force One.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama departs Joint Base Andrews on Air Force One en route Cincinnati, Ohio.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Hilltop Basic Resources.
Obama will be outside Cincinnati at the Brent Spence Bridge in House Speaker John Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political backyards. The aging bridge in need of repair connects Ohio and Kentucky.
At 12:50 PM Pacific, Obama departs Cincinnati on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 2:10 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 2:25 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
There is still no resolution of the Palestinian question this morning at the UN following a multiplicity of meetings, including separate one-on-one sessions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This may be heading, as I’ve been suggesting for some time, toward a compromise with Palestine recognized as a non-member state, a move with real geopolitical complications.
The Palestinians say that tremendous pressure is being applied against them, with the US actively working with Israel to lobby against their drive for recognition.
Intriguingly, France is emerging as a leader searching for a compromise solution that still advances Palestinian interests, pushing the non-member state option I’ve been discussing here for weeks.
This would actually be a huge advance for the Palestinians in that it would elevate the Palestinians to signatories of various international treaties which can be extremely complicating for ongoing Israeli sway over the territories.
All this has obscured the victory lap on Libya for Obama at the UN, as well as the latest disaster in Afghanistan.
The assassination of former Afghan President Rabbani leaves the peace process in that country, which was not going well, in obvious tatters.
China has strongly condemned US plans for a $5.3 billion upgrade to Taiwan’s US-built F-16s, calling it a “grave interference” in its internal affairs. The Taiwanese wanted new fighter jets. This was the Obama Administration’s compromise.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the other side of the world, aspiring superpower China is angered by the Obama Administration’s compromise move to bolster Taiwan’s air defense.
Taiwan wanted new planes, but they’re getting refurbished and upgraded planes. Which offends the PRC’s very expansive sense of “internal affairs.”
It also offends Obama’s critics on the right, who wanted new planes for Taiwan and seem to insist that he pursue as provocative a path in every area as possible.
Speaking of Obama’s critics, the Republican presidential candidates debate again tonight in Orlando, Florida on Fox News.
Despite two rather shaky performances, Texas Governor Rick Perry remains solidly atop the polls as the frontrunner. But he needs to do better. He’s seemed to fade toward the end of debates, perhaps because he had back surgery earlier this year.
In addition to leading in all national polls, Perry leads former frontrunner Mitt Romney in all the early contest states except New Hampshire, where Romney has a home.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California
Brown is working his way through some 600 bills which he must decide upon by October 9th.
At 11 AM, he appears at Marshall Elementary School in the Fresno County community of Fowler to discuss renewable energy.
Brown has been doing more public events of late, after playing a virtually exclusively inside game for most of the early period of his new/renewed governorship.
While Brown’s job approval was up slightly in the latest Field Poll, to 49%, it is at 45% (with 35% disapproving) in the new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll.
Nearly all Californians in this poll believe the state is still in a recession.
** T2 AND ALIENS ANNIVERSARIES POINT UP THE PROBLEMS WITH TODAY’S ACTION MOVIES. After a summer of action films, many of them rather indifferent, it’s useful to consider two classic movies having their 20th and 25th anniversaries.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day came out in 1991; Aliens in 1986. Both directed by a guy best known in some circles for a movie about an old boat that sank and some other picture about a planet filled with nine-foot tall blue people, T2 and Aliens stand in very sharp contrast to latter-day action flicks.
T2 has a polish and, yes, a beauty that makes it appear timeless. Aliens, now 25 years old, looks rougher than that. But the movie is a flavorful mix of the creepshow suspense of the original Alien and the martial virtues of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, with an anti-corporatist twist and tremendous narrative drive.
What do each these movies have that the action movies of today generally don’t? … From my September 18th essay.
** OBAMA AND THE REPUBLICANS: TWO CONTRASTING NIGHTS. “You should pass it. I intend to take that message to every corner of the country.”
In his big economic speech to Congress, President Barack Obama made plain his intention to take a page from Harry Truman’s playbook and run against what he clearly sees as a reactionary, do-nothing Congress. Too bad for Obama he’s been so late in identifying that particular problem.
The night before, Obama got a bit more of a boost as Texas Governor Rick Perry held up pretty well in his first debate.
Fortunately for Obama’s cause, the Republicans have largely played their assigned parts, ignoring the evident post-partisanship of Obama’s proposals, reacting with the hyper-partisan rejectionism that has generally marked their behavior since his inauguration. … From my September 9th column.
** THE FARM WORKERS AND JERRY BROWN MAKE UP, FOR NOW. … From my September 7th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS POST-BUDGET FOCUS. … From my September 1st feature.
** WHY OBAMA WAS RIGHT ON LIBYA AND BIN LADEN AND WRONG ON AFGHANISTAN. … From my August 31st essay.
** OBAMA’S BIG DISCONNECT. … From my August 22nd column.
** OF “A THEORY THAT’S OUT THERE,” GOP STRAW POLLS, MARTHA’S VINEYARD VACATIONS, AND OTHER FOLLIES. … From my August 18th essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** 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 AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, 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.
** 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.
** 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 $81 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $47 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.