President Barack Obama, at his intended Chicago showcase NATO Summit, acknowledged that there are “hard days ahead” in Afghanistan as the alliance prepares to withdraw troops from the country and tries to define success.
** QUICK HITS. California’s governmental efficiency commission, the so-called Little Hoover Commission (explanation for the odd name too lengthy for this space), voted unanimously today to approve Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to reorganize and streamline state government. Brown’s plan will cut the number of state agencies from 12 to 10, ending many duplicative operations. Unless it is rejected by a majority vote of either house of the state legislature by July 3rd, the plan will go into effect. … Brown has scheduled another national media interview, on the heels of last Friday’s outing on CBS News’s new morning program, to air later this week on National Public Radio’s Marketplace program. … Another national poll shows President Barack Obama on top of conservative Republican Mitt Romney. Obama leads 47-43 in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. … Obama has a 7-point lead in the latest Fox News poll.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD (TAKE 2), and MAD MEN: A GREAT LEAPER FORWARD? JOAN, JAG, DON’S RETURN TO ADVERTISING (AND SOME OTHER STUFF).
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama has no public schedule today.
He’s back from several days of major summitry.
First came the G-8 Summit at Camp David, where world leaders seemed to be moving toward Obama’s overall view that the global economy needs stimulus more than austerity at this critical moment.
Then came the NATO Summit in Chicago, where Obama struggled with relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and, especially, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
And NATO as a whole struggled with its post-Cold War raison d’etre, and how to redefine success in Afghanistan.
The phrase “Afghan good enough” is now very current.
I’ll write a lot more about this when the massive round of geopolitical summitry, now moving on to the Iran crisis, all of it connected, is concluded.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, following a weekend trip to Tehran, says he is close to a deal with Iran to allow inspection of at least one suspected military nuclear site. But he discloses no details.
This followed talks last week in Vienna.
Negotiations between the P5+1 (US,UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) and Iran begin on Wednesday in Baghdad.
Obama is also prepping for a big trip to the West.
On Wednesday, he delivers a major address, the commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, to which I was appointed by then U.S. Senator Alan Cranston, but which I did not attend.
He has a big fundraiser in Denver before moving on to some bigger fundraisers in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I understand that Silicon Valley is in for another $4 million-plus.
I’ll have more on all this.
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.
The second time was the charm. California’s SpaceX, after a literally last-second abort early Saturday morning at Cape Canaveral, successfully launched the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station early Tuesday morning at the Cape. Much more to follow.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He delivered a largely well-received address early this morning at the annual Host Breakfast sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce.
I’ll have more on that, and what it means for the campaign for his November revenue initiative, tomorrow in a “Jerry-Rigging.” The piece will discuss messaging, which Brown is tightening, operations, and opposition, or lack of same.
Brown also declared today to be Harvey Milk Day in California, issuing the following proclamation:
“As one of the first openly gay politicians to hold office in the United States, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is remembered as a hero in the movement for acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. His courage in facing a hostile public and his insistence on being treated the same as anyone else contributed greatly to the advancement of this cause. Milk succeeded because he was not just a gay leader but a champion for his district, a brilliant coalition builder and community organizer who brought the real concerns of ordinary people to city hall. His legacy lives on in the vibrant neighborhoods of San Francisco, which he helped restore to vitality at a time when American cities were in crisis.
“Today, on the 82nd anniversary of his birth, I urge all Californians to remember Harvey Milk for his contributions to the more open, free and honest society that we live in today. We should also remember how he died, at the hands of a fellow supervisor, a killing that Milk himself had anticipated because of the virulent opposition he faced. On this day, let us rededicate ourselves not only to the cause of equal rights for all people, but also to the peaceful and democratic process envisioned by our nation’s founders.”
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. … 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.
** 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 $92 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $58 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 $22 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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