Tens of thousands of Egyptians have gathered in central Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square for one of the largest demonstrations since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak. They are protesting against the ruling military council throwing several front-running presidential candidates off the ballot and seeking control over elements of the emerging constitution.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT?
While Obama and Mitt Romney are in early stages of hitting swing states with appearances and messaging and feeling out each other’s vulnerabilities, polls are bouncing around.
Obama is either ahead, sometimes significantly, or tied in the various polls.
As readers know, I give Obama the decided strategic edge, though missteps and crises could upend him, and the super PAC phenomenon is a problem for him with the various economic interests upset with the president, notably the old energy economy, able to cut massive checks, sometimes secretly.
Romney’s campaign reminds me quite a lot of Meg Whitman’s 2010 campaign for governor of California. Which is not exactly surprising, since her candidacy was Romney’s idea in the first place, as I’ve discussed over the past two years.
I’ll get into that more as we go forward.
Meanwhile, protests are erupting again in Egypt, this time over the ruling military council’s move last weekend to remove leading presidential candidates from the ballot and amend the emerging constitution to preserve some of its power going forward.
The Egyptian revolution hasn’t turned out the way the secular reformers who sparked it hoped it would, nor the way many hopeful Westerners imagined it had.
The ceasefire in Syria is proving to be pretty one-sided, with Assad regime forces again attacking demonstrators. The UN is struggling to establish a working protocol for monitoring matters there, even as the US and other powers consider how best to secure humanitarian relief missions into the deeply troubled country.
The Iran crisis has lowered its temperature, at least publicly, in the wake of last weekend’s essentially substance-free negotiations in Istanbul.
They’ll talk again in more than a month, in now friendly-to-Iran Baghdad. Which is nice, but may be meaningless, other than blunting the swift drift to war.
At least in public.
But a new element in the Iran crisis has emerged over the past week which is highly problematic. Iran is laying fresh claim to three disputed islands on the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most critical naval choke points.
This is a 40-year dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, which may provide a rationale for Iran to again place its naval forces in position to do what it began threatening last year; i.e., shut down the Strait to oil tanker traffic.
Meanwhile, back in California politics, Governor Jerry Brown’s revenue initiative continues steaming on its fast track for qualification for the November ballot.
Brown has unified the Democratic Party behind his measure, a compromise with a left/labor coalition that retains most of his original elements. And my soundings indicate that he is avoiding generating major institutional opposition to the initiative.
But heiress Molly Munger gave another $1.1 million to her zombie initiative to raise income taxes on virtually everyone in the state to provide more money to schools. She’s running ads in the LA and Bay Area media markets, ads I don’t think much of. And her well-paid consultants — who of course are not eager to point out to their patroness that financial initiatives don’t start out losing 32-64 and go on to victory — have rolled out some Internet gimmicks that I’m sure sounded impressive in the pitch meetings.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 12:35 PM Pacific, Obama signs a proclamation designating California’s Fort Ord a national monument. The event is in the Oval Office.
Fort Ord, located on Monterey Bay, was one of the Army’s most beautiful bases.
For World War II, the Korean War, and most of the Vietnam War, Fort Ord was the principal basic training facility for Army enlisted personnel.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who represented the area in Congress, was once stationed there, as were two other famed Northern Californians, Clint Eastwood and Jerry Garcia.
California State University Monterey Bay, home to the Leon Panetta Institute, occupies part of the grounds of Fort Ord.
At 1:45 PM Pacific, Obama welcomes the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House
This has turned into a sad but rather uplifting annual event, as very badly wounded veterans of the Iraq War and the Afghan War adjust to their changed physical circumstances but retain their competitive edge.
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.
The San Franciso 49ers broke ground Thursday afternoon on their new stadium, which is being built about 40 miles to the south in Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara. The new $1.2 billion stadium, slated to be ready for the 2014 NFL season, is expected to have 68,500 seats and is planned as a showcase of green technology and new communications technology.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California and Central California.
He attends the funeral service in Modesto for Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris, who was killed in the line of duty.
** THE PERSISTENCE OF TUNNEL VISION: ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR JERRY BROWN. Jerry Brown has a number of problems to deal with in his new/renewed governorship. One of the biggest of all is a persistent tunnel vision in California’s frequently dysfunctional political culture.
Unfortunately, it’s a problem that afflicts both political parties and most interests, as well as their adherents, acknowledged and otherwise, in the media. …
This is a struggle that has taken place, on and off, for decades, as the rest of the advanced industrial world moved ahead with rail. The same sorts of folks hitting Brown now on high-speed rail hit him during his first governorship for being a “Moonbeam” by pushing renewable energy. …
But it’s not just people pushing perspectives which benefit the entrenched interests of oil, car, and airline companies who suffer from tunnel vision. … From my April 19th essay.
** MAD MEN: ROUNDING SOME HAIRPIN PLOT CURVES. This week’s Mad Men offered up a much more insular episode, though the sense of decay and decline in New York which I wrote about earlier in the season is evident. The American studies social themes, aside from the trademark dissatisfaction with success and a sense of impending change, are absent. … From my April 17th essay.
** FIRST WEEK: A RAGGED START, OBAMA’S BIGGER PROBLEMS. … From my April 14th essay.
** MAD MEN‘s MASTER CLASS IN AMERICAN STUDIES ROLLS ON TO SOME MYSTERY DATES. … From my April 10th essay.
** JERRY BROWN HITS 74. … 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.
** 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 $104 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $70 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 $10 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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