In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama urges Congress to pass the Buffett Rule — named for famed investor Warren Buffett, which asks those who make more than $1 million a year to pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle class families — as a principle of fairness.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … MAD MEN: “STUDIO 30.”
** FIRST WEEK: A RAGGED START, OBAMA’S BIGGER PROBLEMS. It was an interesting first week in the general election campaign. After Rick Santorum’s sudden withdrawal essentially handed the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney, on the 100th anniversary of Titanic setting sail on its fateful voyage, President Barack Obama had a mostly good week. But the big flap over foolhardy comments by a Democratic lobbyist on a cable chat show demonstrated alarmingly, again, how debate can be derailed by trivial pursuits even in the face of far more consequential issues. And though the domestic dynamics of the campaign — economic fairness and women’s rights — mostly favored Obama, geopolitical crises that could seriously damage Obama’s presidency loomed very large.
While the conventional US media was happy to spend a day focusing on a ping pong go-round over cable chat comments disparaging Ann Romney by a longtime record industry lobbyist and LGBT advocate who isn’t part of the Obama campaign, Obama has some real strengths to play with and real problems to deal with.
First the good news for Obama.
Romney, trying to flip Democratic rhetoric about a conservative “war on women” based on his primary stances, claimed in an interview with friendly Fox News that 92% of jobs lost during the Obama Adminstration were held by women and that Obama was responsible. That’s a big distortion.
Then, on a conference call, Romney aides couldn’t say if Romney backs a fair pay law for women. Considering that women are a huge problem for Romney, who claimed to be the inevitable nominee from the start, you’d think they would have this stuff down. The campaign later announced that Romney does back the law.
Polling showed also that Romney still has to win over young right-wingers, especially in the Midwest, where he already has a big problem with independents. Which points up the pretzel logic challenges facing Mitt Romney. He must move right and left at the same time.
Meanwhile, Gallup showed Romney near a record low of party support for a presumptive nominee. Only Democrat George McGovern had a lower level of support in his own party, back in 1972 as he moved toward his historic shellacking at the hands of Richard Nixon.
Finally, two big pluses for Obama on economic fairness and the economy in general. There is a huge 63-37 edge in the new Gallup Poll for the Buffett Rule, which Romney, no traitor to his class he, absolutely hates. And a new Gallup Poll survey of several measures of economic activity shows upward indicators.
These are good signs for Obama, who played to them throughout the week in his messaging, and fundamental problems for Romney, who has pitched his background as a, er, leveraged buyout specialist as the key to reviving the economy.
Now the bad news, and it’s not about a media culture which focuses on culture war ping pong, though that’s an ongoing problem for Obama. …
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND AND THE WEEK AHEAD. President Barack Obama is in Cartagena, Colombia and Washington, DC.
Obama’s weekend is taken up with the Summit of the Americas, where there is much talk of the efficacy, or lack of same, of the anti-drug war.
There is also talk about a big Secret Service scandal, involving 12 agents who’ve been recalled to Washington amidst rumored charges of heavy drinking and prostitution. This may be the biggest scandal in the history of the Service, which of course engages in major advance planning and protection activities for the president and other top officials.
I’ve worked a lot with the Secret Service. They generally do a great job. Though they are hardly perfect, this story surprises me.
On Saturday, Obama participates in the CEO Summit of the Americas at the Hilton Hotel in Cartagena, Colombia. In the afternoon, he attend an arrival ceremony at the Julio César Turbay Ayala Convention Center.
Later in the afternoon, Obama will attend the Plenary Session of the Summit of the Americas at the Julio César Turbay Ayala Convention Center.
In the evening, Obama will attend a leaders’ dinner at Casa de Huéspedes.
On Sunday morning, Obma will participate in an official leaders’ photo at the Julio César Turbay Ayala Convention Center.
Later on Sunday morning, Obama will participate in a leaders’ retreat at the Julio César Turbay Ayala Convention Center.
In the afternoon, Obama will hold a multi-lateral meeting with Caribbean leaders at the Julio César Turbay Ayala Convention Center.
Later in the afternoon, Obama will attend a bilateral meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at Casa de Huéspedes. Not to be confused with President Matt Santos of West Wing fame, naturally.
Following that, he will attend a working lunch with President Santos at Casa de Huéspedes.
Afterwards, Obama will hold a joint press conference with President Santos at the Casa de Huéspedes.
In the evening, Obama will tour San Pedro Claver Church.
Following the tour, Obama will participate in a cultural event with President Santos at the Plaza de San Pedro.
Obama will then depart Colombia on Air Force One en route Washington, DC.
At 8:35 PM Pacific on Sunday, Obama lands at Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 8:50 PM Pacific on Sunday, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Expectations for the weekend negotiations in Istanbul over Iran’s nuclear program were low. Those expectations appear to have been met.
Obama, after some rest on Monday, has a pretty full week of appealing to voters who like sports and to voters concerned about the economy, especially in Midwestern battleground states.
Naturally, Obama’s public schedule does not reflect his crisis management activities behind the scenes.
On Monday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Tuesday, Obama will welcome Tony Stewart and the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers to the White House to honor Stewart’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Obama will aso recognize efforts by Stewart and NASCAR to give back to the community.
On Wednesday, Obama will travel to the Cleveland, Ohio, area to deliver remarks at an event on the economy. Later, he will travel to Michigan to attend campaign events. He returns to the White House in the evening.
On Thursday, Obama will welcome the national college football champion Alabama Crimson Tide to the White House. This is Alabama’s 14th national championship.
I think that Obama will be congratulating the University of Southern California Trojans next year.
On Friday, Obama will welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House. This is becoming an annual event.
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.
** 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 closed on Friday at $102.83 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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