Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 arrived aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise earlier this month as Enterprise was already underway on the ship’s final deployment of its storied half-century history. Enterprise, which took part in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, is part of a three carrier US naval force in the Arabian Gulf region as the Iran crisis continues to percolate.
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND. President Barack Obama is on the road for a major trip around the global Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
On Saturday travels to South Korea on Air Force One.
On Sunday, Obama attends early events pertaining to the global Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea.
After his open press arrival at Osan Air Base outside of Seoul, Obama ventures up to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South Korea and North Korea where he visits with US troops serving on the Korean Peninsula.
The DMZ features the world’s biggest mine field. The US has 28,000 troops in South Korea, a larger force than the Canadian Army.
On Sunday afternoon, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey at the Grand Hyatt Hotel
Later in the afternoon, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea at the Blue House, the official residence of the South Korean presidency.
Following that bilateral meeting, Obama and President Lee will hold a joint news conference at the Blue House.
On Sunday evening, Obama will attend a dinner with President Lee at the Blue House.
Here’s what Obama’s week ahead looks like, on the public side of things.
On Monday morning, Obama will deliver remarks at Hankuk University in Seoul on his ongoing efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Later in the day Obama will hold bilateral meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, President Hu Jintao of China and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. In the evening, Obama will attend a Nuclear Security Summit working dinner with other international leaders.
On Tuesday, Obama will attend the Nuclear Security Summit. Later in the day, Obma will depart Seoul en route to Washington, where he arrives on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Friday, Obama will attend campaign events and fundraisers in Burlington, Vermont, and Portland, Maine, returning to Washington in the evening.
As usual, Obama’s schedule has plenty of flexibility built in for dealing with crises.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum is poised for a big win over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in the Louisiana primary on Saturday as the Republican presidential race rolls on.
Ron Paul? Yep, still running. His only noteworthy move of late was to run a TV ad which seems to decry the media focus on Romney’s “Etch-a-sketch” campaign gaffe. Backstopping Romney yet again, in what is probably his biggest impact in a race which has seen him launch vicious, heavily funded ad attacks on Romney’s chief rivals but never on Romney himself.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, and AfPak.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama urged the House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan transportation bill to repair roads and bridges and provide construction jobs around the country.
** THE REAL GAME CHANGE: PALINISM’S RISE AND MODERATE REPUBLICANISM’S ECLIPSE. The term “game change,” like so many sports-oriented terms in politics, is decidedly over-used. But the events depicted in the Game Change film really do constitute just that, though not in the way that my friend Steve Schmidt, the top John McCain advisor who utters the phrase in the film and with whom I communicated throughout the period of the film, intended it.
The pick of Sarah Palin was intended to be a dynamic game changer in McCain’s 2008 race against Barack Obama. But it proved to be a different sort of game change. It was the harbinger of a virulent rightward move in Republican politics as we see in today’s presidential primaries, and the further devolution of the media culture into hysteria and hyper-partisanship. And it showed just what going for the win, the sine qua non of consultant culture, can end up meaning.
Now that Game Change has emerged as one of HBO’s biggest movies ever, in a steady rotation on the cable network, and the film itself has yielded widespread acclaim outside of the Palinista camp, it’s useful to pull back and look at the bigger import of the events the film depicts and the background against which they played out.
The move is terrific, cunningly cast, which is key in this sort of picture. Julianne Moore is dimensional and outstanding as Sarah Palin; Ed Harris makes for a mostly noble John McCain (as he did for another iconic American aviator, John Glenn in The Right Stuff); and Woody Harrelson is excellent as Steve Schmidt, who is actually the key character in the film.
I came to know Schmidt well in 2006 when he ran Arnold Schwarzenegger’s landslide re-election campaign as governor of California and communicated regularly with him throughout his time in John McCain’s campaign, not least around the Sarah Palin pick, which of course he championed. To his present chagrin, as he’s made abundantly clear.
In fact, the very first story on my New West Notes blog in January 2006 broke the news that Schmidt was coming aboard as Schwarzenegger’s campaign manager.
Schwarzenegger was in deep trouble after his 2005 special election agenda of more conservative reform initiatives came up decidedly short. Many Democrats figured he would be easy pickings if he even bothered to run for re-election.
But Schwarzenegger, with whom I was friendly well before he ran for governor in the dramatic 2003 California recall but with whom my communication became frayed during his 2005 special election adventure, determined to pull back from the abyss to which most of his team had helped lead him and re-tool his operation. As I also reported not long before Schmidt’s arrival, he brought a well-known Democratic operative, Susan Kennedy, on board as his new chief of staff.
I wrote that Schmidt was being brought on board as “a right-wing hatchet man” to balance Susan Kennedy, a pro-choice leader and lesbian married on Maui whose appointment enraged California’s far right.
Schwarzenegger’s then new communications director, Adam Mendelsohn, now Schwarzenegger’s longtime political advisor (whom I’d gotten to know several years earlier when he was a congressional district director and friend of a girlfriend), called and told me I had it wrong, that Schmidt was a reasonable and moderate pragmatist, as well as one of his best friends.
Early in our first meeting, I wasn’t so sure about that. …
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
On Saturday morning, Brown speaks at a memorial service for former Marin County Supervisor Hal Brown at the Marin Civic Center Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael.
Hal Brown, who passed away recently from cancer, was the governor’s cousin. He served some 29 years on the Marin County Board of Supervisors after first being appointed by Brown to replace Barbara Boxer after her election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Hal Brown went on to become his county’s most popular county supervisor, winning many elections and re-elections to his office.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS HAVE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME. There’s a lot of hissing and moaning on the right in California, and among some avowedly middle-of-the-road pundits, about Governor Jerry Brown’s compromise with a left-labor coalition on his November revenue initiative. What’s the complaint? More taxes on the rich. Part of the complaint is about the fiscal volatility of relying more on people whose incomes can fluctuate. Part of it is about protecting the rich, a bottom-line GOP issue these days.
The fact is that if the Republican Party hadn’t determinedly taken itself even further to the right over the past several years, they wouldn’t be facing what shapes up in polling as popular soak-the-rich solutions. Republicans took themselves out of the governance play in California several years ago, ignoring what turned out to be a fateful warning speech about their steep decline from then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, turning into a reflexive Party of No. … From my March 22nd essay.
** JERRY BROWN DEALS AWAY TROUBLE ON THE LEFT. Governor Jerry Brown has dealt away some potential problems on the left to strengthen his chances of passing a revenue initiative in November.
Brown dealt with California’s chronic state budget crisis by making big cuts in 2011. But he couldn’t get Republicans to go along even with a public vote on extending 2009′s temporary tax hikes, and so has had to go to the ballot this year. After Brown and his allies succeeded in convincing a group of billionaires and former officeholders (the Think Long Committee) to back away from their own tax initiative plans, which would have lowered tax rates on the rich and corporations, likely muddying the electoral waters with a big money campaign even though they had little chance of success, he then had two other initiatives to deal with.
This week he dealt with the most problematic for him. I wrote early in the week on New West Notes that “Brown’s problem with the two other tax initiatives may be smaller than it appears. I’ll have more on that.” Here’s the “more on that” part. … From my March 16th column.
** MAKING SENSE OF KALEIDOSCOPIC PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS. … From my March 7th essay.
** IMPOSSIBLE MISSIONS AND 50 YEARS OF BOND. … From my March 6th essay.
** JERRY BROWN MAKES SOME SPLASHY MOVES. … From my March 1st essay.
** THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE: IRAN, ISRAEL, AFGHANISTAN. … From my February 29th essay.
** DEBATING IN DISARRAY: SEARCHING FOR SOME CLARITY IN THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL MESS. … From my February 24th essay.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: ECLIPSING THE EMPIRE STATE. … From my February 21st 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.
The Hunger Games, based on the best-selling series of dystopic scifi novels, is en route to one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 closed on Friday at $106.87 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $73 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $7 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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