The NATO Summit is upon President Barack Obama’s hometown Chicago, and so are thousands of demonstrators.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD (TAKE 2), and MAD MEN: “CHRISTMAS WALTZ.”
** FLAILING NATO? BIG QUESTIONS SURROUND OBAMA’S SHOWCASE CHICAGO SUMMIT. There’s a lot of confusion about the ballyhooed NATO Summit in Chicago, intended as a big boost to Obama’s geopolitical leadership, showcased in his hometown.
Questions about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, founded 62 years ago in the early days of the Cold War with the late Soviet Union and its aligned bloc, have abounded for decades. Especially since the fall of the Soviet Union, which removed NATO’s founding rationale for existing.
But they are getting very loud again. Both in the wake of NATO’s success in Libya — which pointed up how far behind the rest of NATO with respect to US capability its European members have fallen — and in the face of the looming debacle in Afghanistan.
Here are some big outstanding questions about NATO’s future. We’ll see how many get answers in Chicago.
* How will Pakistan play in the big discussion on AfPak strategy? …
* Are countries beginning a rush to the exits in Afghanistan? …
* How will NATO members advance technologically when their budgets are being tightened? …
* How will NATO handle relations with groups that wish to ally, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council, and with groups that may be rivals, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its members such as Russia and China? …
* Speaking of which, does NATO have a unified position on Iran? …
* Does NATO have a unified position on missile defense? …
* Does NATO have a unified position on its own expansion? …
As I noted three years ago here on the Huffington Post, when Obama visited Moscow, Putin had Obama come to his sumptuous dacha in a forest outside Moscow. They discussed ballistic missile defense, and Russian dislike of America establishing bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, NATO expansion, and the question of containing Iran, Russia’s decades-long friend of a sort (and centuries-long rival).
The two hour-plus meeting went long — in part because much of it was taken up by a Putin monologue — and Obama ended up late for his major address of the week at the New Economic School back in Moscow.
Having lectured Obama and made him late for the first time ever for one of his major addresses, Putin went over to visit a famous motorcycle club. Which was pointedly headed to a big motorcycle rally in Ukraine, a country which Putin was intent on keeping out of NATO, where pro-US politicians lost the subsequent election. …
There really is no shortage of fundamental questions surrounding NATO. It will be interesting to see how Obama spins up the impression of a success. …
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama says that Congress needs to move forward, not, er, backward, on Wall Street reform in the wake of JP Morgan Chase’s recently revealed $3 billion trading losses.
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND. President Barack Obama is in Maryland and Illinois.
Obama hosts the G8 Summit at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland and the NATO Summit in Chicago.
First the Saturday schedule for the G8 Summit, then the Sunday schedule for the NATO Summit.
On Saturday, at 6 AM Pacific, Obama attended the first working session with G8 Leaders at Camp David.
He then took part in a family photo with G8 Leaders.
Following that, he attended the second working session with G8 Leaders.
Obama then attended a working lunch on food security.
At 11:25 AM Pacific, Obama attends the third working session with G8 Leaders.
At 12:45 PM Pacific, Obama attends the fourth working session with G8 Leaders.
At 1:40 PM Pacific, Obama attends the fifth working session with G8 Leaders.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama delivers a statement.
At 4:10 PM Pacific, Obama departs Camp David on Marine One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 4:55 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama depart Joint Base Andrews on Air Force One en route Chicago, Illinois.
At 6:45 PM Pacific, the Obamas land in Chicago.
On Sunday, at 8:45 AM Pacific, Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at McCormick Place in Chicago.
At 10:35 AM Pacific, Obama meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at McCormick Place
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama takes part in the official greeting of the North Atlantic Council Leaders at McCormick Place.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama participates in the opening session of the North Atlantic Council at McCormick Place.
At 5:40 PM Pacific, Obama takes part in a NATO family photo at Soldier Field
At 6 PM Pacific, Obama attends a NATO working dinner at Soldier Field.
Meanwhile, Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng is coming to America to be a fellow at New York University, putting a capper on a recent crisis with the PRC.
Obama will shortly be raising more big bucks in Northern California. I expect him to raise another $4 million out of Silicon Valley.
Here’s what Obama’s week ahead looks like.
On Monday, Obama will attend meetings at the NATO Summit in Chicago. Later in the day, the President will travel to Joplin, Missouri, where he will deliver the commencement address at Joplin High School. Obama will return to Washington, DC, in the evening.
On Tuesday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Wednesday, Obama will travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to deliver the commencement address at the Air Force Academy.
Obama will then travel to Denver, Colorado for a fundraiser. In the evening, Obama will travel to California for campaign events in Atherton and Redwood City. He will spend the night in San Jose, California.
On Thursday, Obama will attend a campaign event in Palo Alto.
He will then travel to the Newton, Iowa, area to deliver remarks on the economy at an official event, where he will continue to push Congress to act on his so-called “To Do List,” largely around his economic themes.
Later, Obama will attend a campaign event in Des Moines before returning to Washington, DC, in the evening.
On Friday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
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 ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
Governor Jerry Brown appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss California’s problems and opportunities.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
** A BUCKET OF WOE: JERRY BROWN’S UNSURPRISINGLY UNHAPPY BUDGET. In one of the least surprising announcements of late, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday unveiled the annual spring revision of the California state budget, proposing steps to deal with what he says has become a $15.7 billion budget deficit, up from $9.2 billion in January. Absent more tough cuts, and passage of his November revenue initiative, things get much worse very fast, especially for the schools.
Meanwhile, things are apt to get significantly worse for social welfare programs and state workers.
The deficit number was a surprise to some, probably feigned in some cases, especially by Brown’s longtime conservative critics.
Fox News, to mention the most obvious of these folks, spinning furiously, claimed that Brown is actually worse than JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Why? Because Dimon only hid a $2 billion loss while Brown “hid” a “$16 billion deficit blunder.”
I mention this, not because I take the Fox report seriously, but because it is the preposterous hyper-partisan extreme that illustrates a common problem.
Which is that there is nothing surprising about the budget deficit number, not for anyone who has been paying attention to, and remembering, regular statements from Brown and state Controller John Chiang about revenues, and from Brown about budget cuts being blocked, by the courts and federal government, and balked at, by the legislature.
It was a simple exercise in arithmetic. Add up the revenue shortfalls reported for months, and repeatedly throughout April, with the blocked budget cuts, and you won’t be surprised. (An added factor, as Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain points out, is that revenue from corporate taxes is 6 percent lower than expected, and is actually down in absolute terms, even though corporate profits are booming. And corporate taxes make up a shrinking share of the state budget, due to tax breaks.)
Of course, the overall doesn’t get done much in an era of news nibbles via Twitter. And many like to hype the surprise when the overall becomes impossible to miss.
Which brings us to an interesting question. Does the air of shock around the latest in California’s chronic budget crisis count as a failure of Brown’s communications strategy? Or as a success? After all, a bad shock may be what the electoral doctor ordered for Brown’s November revenue initiative. I assume he noticed that the numbers weren’t being added up in the press. …
Which leads us to the coming campaign. … … From my May 16th essay.
** MAD MEN: DANGER! SLIPPERY WHEN SOAPY (ESPECIALLY IN DARK SHADOWS). … From my May 15th review.
** NUCLEAR’S ONCE BRIGHT AND SHINY FUTURE BLINKS OUT. …From my May 12th essay.
** MAD MEN: REJECTING ADVERTISING, OR, DON DRAPER MEETS ACID ROCK, POP BUDDHISM, AND AN INDEPENDENT WIFE. … From my May 8th essay.
** 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.
** 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.
A rocket from California’s SpaceX, set to be the first private spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station, roared to life for a history-making liftoff Saturday, but remained stuck on the ground following a last-second abort at Cape Canaveral. The onboard computer system shutdown the rocket after one of nine engines showed higher than desired internal pressure. This has happened with other test flights, which went off later the same day. But this mission had only a one-second launch window, so the next opportunity comes early Tuesday morning.
** 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 $91.48 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $57 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 $23 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.