Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke this morning at the National Rifle Association convention today where he warned that President Barack Obama wants to reshape the U.S. Supreme Court to weaken gun owners’ rights.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … A RAGGED START, BIGGER PROBLEMS.
Interesting times on this Friday the 13th.
While the conventional US media was happy to spend a day focusing on a ping pong go-round over the cable chat comments of a Democratic lobbyist and lesbian rights advocate who isn’t part of the Obama campaign, President Barack Obama has some real problems to deal with as he heads to Colombia for this weekend’s Summit of the Americas. And they have little to do with the summit, though Venezuela plays into it with its backing for Iran.
Whether somebody on a talk show pops off about Ann Romney’s insufficient feminism or not doesn’t have much to do with Mitt Romney’s real problems with women voters, which are vast and substantial. But it does interrupt the flow of the week for Obama, thanks to the media culture, a week which was going very well for him otherwise.
But for geopolitical crises that may yet derail his presidency.
North Korea’s long-range missile test, cast in the guise of a weather satellite launch, failed. Which is good for Obama in that it was an implicit rebuke of his food deal with the Hermit King. But it may be bad in that North Korea’s young new leader probably feels compelled to go ahead with a nuclear test blast.
North Korea is already a nuclear power, and it’s simply a matter of containing their somewhat crude capabilities. Which is why the US has more troops on South Korea than there are in the entire Canadian Army.
While North Korea is a longstanding major irritant, but nothing more, it can be an embarrassment to Obama, perhaps a big one.
The crisis with Iran and Israel promises to be much more consequential.
While American media feverishly pick through the tweets of Hilary Rosen and Ann Romney, representatives of the permanent UN Security Council members — the US, UK, Russia, China, and France — and Germany have been gathering today in Istanbul for a Saturday session with Iran’s representatives. Israel promises that, if diplomacy and sanctions fail to halt Iran’s drive toward the ability to make a nuclear weapon, its military strikes are only months away.
Then there’s the ongoing crisis in Syria, where Assad regime forces are sort of honoring a ceasefire, but not really.
And Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to win not only the parliament, which has already happened, but also the presidency, which the group previously had agreed not to contest.
This is the real stuff that is problematic for Obama, not the usual hyper-partisan chatter, which this time around has seized on a foolhardy Democratic lobbyist popping off about Ann Romney on cable chat shows.
Meanwhile, California politics is bubbling.
The California High Speed Rail Authority board yesterday approved the revamped business plan for Phase One of the project in a unanimous vote. Legislative hearings are on tap in advance of a likely vote to approve the start of the project later this year, as planned by Governor Jerry Brown.
That meeting was in San Francisco. Much farther to the south, in San Diego, state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, the rising Republican star who left the party to become an independent, as discussed at length in the piece linked below, is now in a dead heat for first place in the race for San Diego Mayor with hard right conservative Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio.
Fletcher had been tied for a distant third with San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis at 10% each.
Now it’s DeMaio 28%, Fletcher 26%, Democratic Congressman Bob Filner 20% (where he was before), and Dumanis 13%.
Fletcher’s move has worked. If he can make it to the run-off after the election in June, as the new poll suggests, his moderation may enable him to pick up Filner’s votes and become the next mayor.
North Korea admitted its failed missile and satellite launch, which received global condemnation. The Hermit Kingdom’s move may leave the Obama Administration’s strategy toward it in tatters.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, Florida, and en route to Cartagena, Colombia.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then went to Joint Base Andrews where he boarded Air Force One and flew to Tampa, Florida.
At 9:40 AM Pacific, Obama toured the Port of Tampa.
He then delivered remarks highlighting the benefits of trade with Latin America for the Tampa Bay region and many other communities in the US before heading to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Cartagena, Colombia.
There he will participate in this weekend’s Summit of the Americas bringing together national leaders from North and South America to discuss issues of mutual concern and some disagreement.
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.
Brown appeared for 45 minutes this morning on the Ronn Owens radio talk show on KGO San Francisco.
He was candid, saying it is time for Democratic legislators to “man up” and move forward on another round of state budget cuts.
He said that the state’s budget deficit is higher than the $9 billion he estimated in January, due to lower than anticipated revenues and legislative inaction on budget cuts, and that wishing for more revenue will not make it happen.
Brown also today appointed Mark Cowin to continue as the director of the critical Department of Water Resources, a post to which he was first appointed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Corwin has worked in various posts at the state water agency for just over 30 years.
In other notable personnel stuff, Democratic consultant Roger Salazar — who did a good job with the main independent expenditure committee supporting Brown’s election in 2010 — has moved from the Acosta/Salazar firm he co-founded to become a managing director of Mercury Public Affairs.
The former Gray Davis campaign press secretary, a veteran of the Al Gore and John Edwards presidential campaigns, joins the firm’s California partners, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who is spearheading an emerging Latino public affairs specialty, and Adam Mendelsohn, a longtime advisor to former Governor Schwarzenegger.
** MAD MEN‘s MASTER CLASS IN AMERICAN STUDIES ROLLS ON TO SOME MYSTERY DATES. Well, that was one of the spookier Mad Men episodes, complete with not one but two dream sequences. As always, there be some spoilers ahead discussing this episode, the aptly titled “Mystery Date.”
The horizon of the future, i.e., the later ’60s, is getting much darker, and a lot closer. New York City has slid past its peak, at which it glittered as the series began. Things increasingly don’t work, we’re seeing some people who look rather unkempt. And they’re not the hippies, because those folks have yet to arrive. … From my April 10th essay.
** JERRY BROWN HITS 74. California’s youngest governor since it was barely a state back in the 19th century turned 74 on Saturday. Jerry Brown, back for a third term after his fascinating two terms as governor in the 1970s and ’80s is now California’s oldest governor, with little sign of slowing down. … From my April 7th essay.
** IS ROMNEY “INEVITABLE,” AGAIN? … From my April 5th column.
** MAD MEN: WHOSE SIDE IS TIME ON, ANYWAY? … From my April 3rd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS IN CRISIS: ANOTHER BIG SHOE DROPS. … From my March 29th essay.
** MAD MEN (FINALLY) RETURNS: WORTH THE WAIT? … 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.
** 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 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 is trading around $103 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 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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