In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass the “Buffett Rule,” a principle advanced by the famed investor Warren Buffett that ensures that millionaires and billionaires do not pay less in taxes as a share of their income than middle class families pay — as a matter of fairness.
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He has no scheduled public events this weekend.
As the Republican presidential race rambles on, Mitt Romney looks like he has a decided edge over Rick Santorum in the upcoming primaries in Wisconsin and Maryland on Tuesday. Newt Gingrich, who seemed to indicate that he is sidelining his primary campaigning in favor of talk and lobbying while retaining his delegates, showed up in both states to keep campaigning after his announcement.
Meanwhile, more momentous events are occupying Obama’s attention.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Arabian Gulf foreign ministers in Riyadh on Saturday. She confirmed that negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program will start up again on April 13th. And that they will take place in Istanbul, meaning the US accepted the proposal made at the end of the week in Tehran by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.
Clinton warned Iran that it must show it is serious in the upcoming talks and not simply stalling as she says they have done before.
She and leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council discussed regional missile defense and how to keep shipping lanes open in the event of threatened Iranian attempts to disrupt them.
In Syria, the Assad regime keeps saying that it has accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. Now that it has broken the back of its opposition, as it claims.
But it is refusing to withdraw its forces from centers of opposition, which seems to fly in the face of the ceasefire agreement.
In AfPak matters, seeming revelations about Osama bin Laden’s ramblings across Pakistan while the most wanted man in the world — discussed here yesterday — continue to reverberate.
And the Afghan government is insisting that the Obama Administration spell out precisely what sort of military presence it has in mind after the widespread withdrawal still slated for late 2014, and precisely what bases it wants to to be allowed.
Obama has a full week ahead in terms of a public schedule, which of course does not reflect the big geopolitical crises he is attempting to manage.
On Monday, Obama will host Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) in Washington.
This meeting will focus on economic growth, energy, climate change, and regional and global security. The leaders will also discuss North America’s role in the Americas preparing for the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia later in April.
On Tuesday, Obama will deliver remarks at the AP Luncheon during the American Society of Newspaper Editors Convention in Washington.
On Wednesday, Obama will host an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. Christian leaders from around the country will join the President at the breakfast. Also on Wednesday, Obama will sign the STOCK Act, making clear that Members of Congress are subject to the same insider trading laws that apply to everyone else.
On Thursday, Obama will sign the JOBS Act, which includes several initiatives Obama proposed last fall to help small businesses and start-ups grow and create jobs.
On Friday, Obama will deliver remarks at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy. In the evening, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder at the White House with friends and staff.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and North Korea.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events this weekend.
Brown declared Saturday to be Cesar Chavez Day, issuing this proclamation:
“Eighty-five years ago today, César Chávez was born near his family farm in Yuma, Arizona. While he was still young, his family lost their farm in the Great Depression and became migrants following agricultural work around the Southwest. During his formative years, Chávez was exposed to the dismal working conditions that migrant workers were forced to endure.
“In 1962, after working for many years as a community organizer, he founded the organization which later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). As leader of the UFW, Chávez organized agricultural laborers to protest and demand improvements in their working and living conditions. The UFW motto of “Sí se puede” or “Yes, we can,” continues to resound as a timeless rallying cry to workers for social justice.
“César Chávez and the UFW played an instrumental role in the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which I signed into law in 1975. This landmark bill made our state first in the nation to give farm workers the right to seek union representation and bargain collectively within an established legal framework.
“Californians of every generation and background continue to be inspired by the leadership of César Chávez. On this anniversary of his birth, I ask all Californians to join me in continuing to build on his dream of a world where all workers are treated with dignity and respect.”
Brown helped carry Chavez’s casket during the long funeral procession in 1993 near the union’s headquarters in Kern County. I walked with Brown during much of it, talking along the way.
Late on Friday afternoon, Brown sent a government reorganization plan, previously discussed, to the Little Hoover Commission which would cut the number of state agencies from 12 to 10 and eliminate various other offices and commissions. Here’s a summary of the plan.
The legislature has 90 days to block the reorg, if they try to do so.
Next week Brown’s allies now running the California High Speed Rail Authority are expected to unveil a revamped business plan that will streamline the process and cut the overall cost of the system by more than $30 billion, bringing it back down to $68 billion. Brown has been talking about this for some time, as previously discussed here.
The spine of the system, which Brown and the Obama Administration want to begin work on soon, would run from Merced in the northern San Joaquin Valley to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.
Included in the plan would be near term upgrades of rail systems in the San Francisco Bay Area and LA areas to make them compatible with fast rail, and to provide more immediate sweeteners to major population centers from an historic project that will still take decades to complete.
Expect this to happen.
Brown also issued a statement on the death of Rex Babin, the outstanding Sacramento Bee political cartoonist, saying “he had a keen eye and a sharp pen. We’ll miss his humor and his insight.”
As did former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was not infrequently skewered by Babin, but developed an appreciation for his art and wit.
“My thoughts are with the family of great Sac Bee cartoonist Rex Babin. Take a moment and go discover some of his work for yourself today.
“We’ll miss Rex. I always loved to see what he would draw next. Here is one of my favorites that I have in my office. ”
I’ll have more to say about Babin during the week. He died Friday from stomach cancer, and was only 49.
I loved Babin’s work. Though I didn’t always like it. He was very smart, funny, and a little off-kilter, with a very good eye.
The fact that he never won a Pulitzer Prize is much more a commentary on that award than on the quality of his work. Of course, I couldn’t tell you who won a Pulitzer last year, but I can tell you about Babin’s last editorial cartoon series, “ApoCALypse Now.”
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS IN CRISIS: ANOTHER BIG SHOE DROPS. Another big shoe dropped Wednesday in the ongoing crisis of the California Republican Party. One of its young rising stars, state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a decorated Marine veteran of the Iraq War, dropped his party registration to become an independent. Which might be a path forward for Republicans who don’t reject modernity and governance.
Ranking Republicans privately bemoaned the fact that their party has a very thin bench when it comes to people who might win a future statewide election. Fletcher was part of a very short list.
Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown continued to get good news moving forward toward his November revenue initiative, a measure that would have been unnecessary had Republicans last year not rejected him and his more moderate course at that time on taxation. …
Fletcher’s move sets up a very intriguing test case for Republicans who haven’t turned their backs on modernity and governance. … From my March 29th essay.
April 1st marks the centenary of the day the Titanic set sail from Belfast in Northern Ireland, on what was to be its first and last voyage. The city is now bringing the ship’s history to life with the opening of the “Titanic Centre”, part of a series of events to mark the anniversary of the tragic voyage of a ship meant to evoke the grandeur of a new technological age.
** MAD MEN (FINALLY) RETURNS: WORTH THE WAIT? Mad Men is back, finally, after the biggest series hiatus since The Sopranos. Was it worth the wait? …
Part of the brilliance of Matthew Weiner’s conception of the show is that it has shown us a world we haven’t really seen otherwise. Yes, it’s set in the ’60s, but the bulk of it has been about the early ’60s. Which for most is terra incognita, aside from hazy images of JFK, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the civil rights movement, Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and the early days of the Beatles.
The massively over-exposed part of the ’60s, which gave rise to culture wars which still exist in this country, not to mention a baby boomer cultural dominance which has become more than a little dull even as it has persisted for decades, is still yet to come. …
But the rumblings of change — in this case racial change and generational change — are getting much louder. And the drumbeat of dissatisfaction despite success, a constant in the show, is louder than ever. … From my March 27th essay.
** THE REAL GAME CHANGE: PALINISM’S RISE AND MODERATE REPUBLICANISM’S ECLIPSE. … From my March 23rd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS HAVE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME. … From my March 22nd essay.
** JERRY BROWN DEALS AWAY TROUBLE ON THE LEFT. … 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.
** 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.
Star Kate Winslet joined director James Cameron, who earlier in the week became the first individual to explore the deepest spot in the world’s oceans, a trench in the Pacific nearly seven miles beneath the surface, in London at the world premiere re-launch of the movie Titanic. The record-breaking film, still the domestic box office champion, is being re-released in 3D to mark the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s doomed voyage.
** 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 $103.02 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $69 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 $11 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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