In an interview today with ABC News, President Barack Obama said he now supports same-sex marriage, ending a long period of equivocation.
** QUICK HITS. New/renewed Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend will not attend the Obama-hosted G8 meeting on May 18-19 at Camp David. Instead, he will send Obama’s friend former President-turned-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Obama and Putin did not hit it off when Obama first visited Moscow, with the Russian powerhouse making Obama late for his big Moscow speech by forcing him to come to Putin’s dacha for a private meeting and then making the meeting run late. And Putin does not like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s criticism of his tough response to protesters. … Putin will, however, attend the big UN Summit on Sustainable Development next month in Rio. This meeting comes 20 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio. … As will newly elected French President Francois Hollande. … Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister. … But like former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. … Schwarzenegger’s successor, Governor Jerry Brown, who was at that first Earth Summit in Rio 20 years ago, after his presidential campaign, is unlikely to attend this time. He has the state’s chronic budget crisis to deal with. And, after the customary legislative foot-dragging on state budget cuts, Brown today warned state employee groups to expect more cost cutting.
** OBAMA’S UNSURPRISING “SURPRISE” ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. Surprised that President Barack Obama has just come out in favor of same-sex marriage?
Well, he hits California tomorrow for some fundraising, notably a potential record-setting event at George Clooney’s crib.
Think the issue might have come up?
Vice President Joe Biden kicked things off the other day when he allowed as how he is now very comfortable with gay marriage.
Think of it as a trial balloon from the famously loose-lipped pol.
Then Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama’s friend from Chicago, said that he is for gay marriage.
Duncan can be fairly plain-spoken. But he’s not that out-spoken.
And another big balloon floated free.
The truth is that the country is pretty evenly split on same-sex marriage now, a major improvement for its advocates.
There is probably a slight edge in its favor.
And it has been shaping up for several years now as the prime civil rights issue of the era. It’s certainly time for straights to get over their squeamishness on the issue.
How could Obama not end up for it? And did you ever imagine that he did not privately back it?
His administration did a very effective job of reversing the Clinton era Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military. And former President Bill Clinton himself had already come out for gay marriage.
Obama himself opposed California’s Prop 8 anti-same sex marriage initiative in 2008 even as he was running for president the first time around.
What Obama has done is simply get his official position in line with what it had to be, all along.
Which is not to say that it is not risky.
Obama’s announcement comes just the day after North Carolina voters approved an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment with a whopping 61% of the vote. North Carolina is a swing state that Obama carried in 2008, in something of a surprise.
It’s not a state that Democrats have written off, either, as it will host this summer’s Democratic National Convention.
Virginia is another swing state in which his prospects could be negatively impacted by Obama’s announcement. But I expect that coverage from the Washington media market will impact that over time.
The reality is that same-sex marriage is inevitable. It’s a matter of when people become acclimated enough to accept it.
Mitt Romney, incidentally, is not only against gay marriage — though he seemed more pro-gay rights than Ted Kennedy when running against him for the U.S. Senate in 1994 — he is for an amendment to the Constitution banning it.
That’s change you can count on.
** NEW SURVEY: UNDEREMPLOYMENT RAMPANT AMONG YOUNG ADULTS. A new Gallup Poll survey reveals a big fissure in the employment market. Young adults, aged 18 to 29, are much more likely to be under-employed than their older counterparts.
While underemployment has worsened for young adults over the past year, it has improved for others.
Is this a problem for President Barack Obama in his re-election campaign?
Or is it an opportunity.
I think it’s both.
The lagging progress there can depress Obama’s turnout among young voters, who tend to favor him overwhelmingly.
But it also provides Obama the opportunity to portray Romney as a threat to any improvement.
Thirty-two percent of 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. workforce were underemployed in April, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment. This is up from 30.1% in March and is slightly higher than the 30.7% of a year ago. …
Gallup’s U.S. underemployment measure combines the unemployed with those working part time but looking for full-time work. Underemployment among 18- to 29-year-olds has hovered around 30% for most of the past year, showing no real improvement. Underemployment among all Americans has declined over the past year to 18.2% in April from 19.3% in April 2011. …
FBI Director Robert Mueller this morning urged Congress to renew wide-ranging surveillance authority to thwart terrorism plots like the latest reported one in which an Al Qaeda-engineered explosive device was to have been detonated on a U.S.-bound airline flight.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 11:10 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen in the Oval Office.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 4:15 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a concert in the East Room honoring songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David as part of “In Performance at the White House” series.
Last night’s landslide defeat of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar removes a sometime Obama ally on geopolitical matters but puts a Senate seat in play for Democrats.
Lugar and Obama worked together when Obama was a freshman senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, and the veteran Indiana senator, first elected in 1976, continued their relationship during Obama’s presidency.
But Lugar, who helped settle the big Philippine crisis in the ’80s, while a conservative, wasn’t nearly conservative enough for a radicalized primary electorate. It’s the Republicans’ loss, really, and the country’s.
Senator Richard Lugar, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its ranking Republican member, lost in a landslide last night in Indiana’s Republican primary to a Tea Party candidate. Lugar’s defeat ends the Senate career of someone who helped forge bipartisan geopolitical solutions and puts Indiana’s Senate seat in play.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
At 11:30 AM, Brown honors fallen highway workers at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) 22nd Annual Workers Memorial Ceremony.
Brown this morning appointed Malcolm Dougherty to be director of the California Department of Transportation.
Daugherty, appointed chief deputy director by Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been acting director of the sprawling agency since last year.
Brown is working on the “May revise” to his state budget proposal. As he did so, word came from state Controller John Chiang that revenues have ended up over $2.4 billion below expectations. As Brown has been warning all along, this 20% shortfall is something that needs to be made up.
I’m not sure how honored state employees will feel after seeing the revised state budget. There is a price to be paid for putting off cuts.
** MAD MEN: REJECTING ADVERTISING, OR, DON DRAPER MEETS ACID ROCK, POP BUDDHISM, AND AN INDEPENDENT WIFE.
“Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. It is not dying, it is not dying.
Lay down all thought, surrender to the void. It is shining, it is shining.
That you may see the meaning of within. It is being, it is being.”
John Lennon and Paul McCartney
from Tomorrow Never Knows, on the album Revolver
Don’t look now, but something important just happened on Mad Men. A major character, someone with real talent in the field, just rejected advertising. Someone who happens to be ad guru Don Draper’s bright and shiny new wife.
Megan Calvet Draper’s Marxist academic father, who so disapproves of her work in advertising, and of her life of easing into wealth by marrying a rich older man, evidently got through to his daughter in the episode before this. She’s now pursuing her dream, which was unclear then but turns out to be acting. And she is resonating to big cultural influences posing fundamental questions about the big money machine she’s a cog in on Madison Avenue. …
Megan is certainly familiar with the concept of false consciousness from her Marxist academic father. The Beatles song that she tells Don to listen to gets at false consciousness, not from a materialist standpoint, as her father would have it, but from a spiritual standpoint.
This is the first time I can recall an actual Beatles song being licensed for use on a TV series. It’s extremely expensive to do, and it’s hard to get approval even with payment, so I would bet that Matthew Weiner has a reason for doing it. At the reported $250,000 (!), he had better.
Megan’s not the only one questioning advertising. Irritating Stan, who arrived at the agency as something of a star after doing some work on President Lyndon Johnson’s re-election campaign, reacts to Megan’s departure by noting that you work hard for a long time on an account, and for what? “Heinz. Baked. Beans.”
Really now, Stan, what do you think this is, anyway? The ’60s?
Before we get back to that, let’s deal with the soapy side of the show. …
** THE CURIOUS CHEN CRISIS SPOTLIGHTS OUR BIG CHINA CONUNDRUM. … From my May 4th essay.
** MAD MEN: TO THE MOON! (AND CRASHING BACK AGAIN). … From my May 1st essay.
** SEALED UP, BUT NOT SEALED OVER: THE OSAMA BIN LADEN RAID AT 1. … From my May 1st essay.
** BACK ON THE NATIONAL STAGE? JERRY BROWN BRINGS AN INCOMPLETE STORY. … From my April 28th essay.
** MAD MEN: WIBBLY-WOBBLY, TIMEY-WIMEY, TRIPPY-WIPPY (AND PEGGY OLSON IS NO DANA SCULLY). … From my April 24th essay.
** HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT? ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GAUNTLET. … From my April 24th essay.
** THE PERSISTENCE OF TUNNEL VISION: ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR JERRY BROWN. … From my April 19th essay.
** MAD MEN: ROUNDING SOME HAIRPIN PLOT CURVES. … 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.
** 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 $97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $63 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 $17 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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