Remember Iraq? Some 60 people were killed today in attacks across the country, mostly Shia pilgrims. There’s tremendous sectarian strife between Shia and Sunni in the country, whose government is increasingly aligned with Iran as will be clear in the OPEC meeting in Vienna, starting on Thursday.
** QUICK HITS. The US Justice Department today dismissed the remaining five charges against former US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for supposedly engaging in corrupt violation of campaign finance laws. He was acquitted of the sixth charge last month, with the jury deadlocked on the five charges dismissed today. This was a silly case to begin with. … Nearly 50 people were arrested today in California’s Capitol demonstrating against impending social service cuts in the new state budget. … Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders are still negotiating on the shape of the budget, with differences whittled down to the hundreds of millions. … June 15th is the deadline for passage of a budget. Brown vetoed a budget last year, first time in California’s history that has happened, and is prepared to veto again.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ENLIGHTENMENT DIVIDES AMERICAN POLITICS.
** LOOKING FORWARD FROM MAD MEN‘S MEANDERING SEASON 5: YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (ONE CAN ONLY HOPE)
Ida Sessions: “Are you alone?”
Jake Gittes: “Isn’t everyone?”
And all the disparate threads of Mad Men’s Season 5 came together to send us into a long off-season … Well, no. A season full of rather disconnected showpieces, or stunts, depending on how cheery one wants to be about the show’s abandonment of its very coherent narrative structure, ended with several largely disconnected happenings, culminating in a closing scene that came within the perilous vicinity of The Sopranos’ notorious ending. More about that later.
Actually, what did jell in the uneven finale to this most uneven of Mad Men seasons is the pervasively dour attitude that permeates the show even as it moves into one of the most colorful and dynamic periods in American history. But that had already jelled this season. Or, put another way, congealed.
Of course, I see another possibility, suggested by the choice of the great Bond theme song “You Only Live Twice” as the extro music for the season. That we have just been through two seasons of taking down Don Draper, in Season 4, then giving him what he thinks is “happiness,” in Season 5, only to have the essential man that so intrigued from the beginning return for the rest of the series. In which case, Don’s silent look at the end of the episode is the equivalent of Schwarzenegger saying: “I’ll be back.”
Is it possible that the last three minutes of the episode redeemed the entire season? I’ll return to that rather happy thought after slogging through this season finale.
As always, there be some spoilers ahead. Incidentally, you can see all my Mad Men pieces, going back to 2009, here in The Mad Men File.
It’s April 1967, some time after Lane Pryce’s suicide of the previous episode. Sterling Cooper Draper sans Pryce is booming, so much so that it’s expanding its office space to the fabled upstairs. But does that make these folks happy happy happy? Need you ask?
Don Draper is doing just fine, especially in his work, which is flourishing. Well, he’s doing fine except for the overly portentous imagery surrounding him … Spectral visitations from the brother he inadvertently forced into suicide in Season 1 (much guilt over Lane, perhaps?) and a bad tooth he tries to ignore but which, but of course, signifies a deeper rot. Having noted those anvils, I think I’ll ignore them.
But Megan, who rejected advertising, at which she is a natural, in favor of acting, one of the ultimate crap shoot fields, is struggling. She’s going out on auditions, but she’s not getting cast. She feels like a failure. So, in something of a state, she pushes Don to have her cast in a national TV ad. Which he finally does, though he has mixed feelings about it. That gets us to our season-ending scene, which I’ll return to in several moments. …
** NEW SURVEY: ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE DIPS. A new Gallup Poll survey has some bad news and some better news for President Barack Obama.
Economic confidence dipped last week from a four-year high, as it were.
But the dip comes from Democrats.
Are they going to vote for Mitt Romney?
Not bloody likely.
But they might stay home if Obama is not careful. Or, more accurately, too careful.
Americans’ confidence in the economy declined slightly last week, on the heels of a disappointing jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index was -20 for the week ending June 10, down from -18 the prior week and a four-year best -16 the week before that. Still, economic confidence remains significantly better than in late 2011. Confidence at that time was rising as unemployment began steadily falling. …
Economic confidence held steady at -17 June 1-3 after the June 1 jobs report and the year’s worst day of trading, but slipped last week. However, concerns last week about the economic situation in Spain combined with perceptions of a sputtering U.S. jobs climate may have led to the slight pullback in confidence. …
The decline in economic confidence last week was driven by Democrats, whose index score dropped eight points compared with the previous week, from 16 to 8. Republicans’ confidence improved slightly to -45 and independents’ was flat at -23. Still, Democrats continue to be significantly more confident in the economy than Republicans, and the decline last week in Democratic confidence did little to close the gap. …
Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, addressing the Business Roundtable in Washington this morning, said that when it comes to the economy the federal government’s chief responsibility is to help business.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ENLIGHTENMENT DIVIDES AMERICAN POLITICS.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 10:40 AM Pacific, Obama signs S. 3261, contract awards for large air tankers for the Forest Service, in the Oval Office.
At 12:20 PM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden hold a bilateral meeting with President Shimon Peres of Israel in the Oval Office.
At 1:40 PM Pacific, Obama attends a fundraiser at The W Hotel.
At 4:10 PM Pacific, Obama awards Israeli President Shimon Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian decoration, at a dinner in the East Room. Obama and President Peres deliver toasts.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is continuing state budget negotiations in advance of the June 15th deadline.
Negotiations between Brown and Democratic legislative leaders and interest groups are getting down to the short strokes in advance of the June 15th deadline.
Most of Brown’s big budget cuts seem to be accepted, leaving major contention in a few areas amounting to less than a billion dollars, including a potential trade-off between workfare overhaul and the provision of child care services, and in-home health care services.
Some legislative leaders are looking at using alternative fuels and greenhouse gas cap and trade funds to fill general budget holes. That seems quite problematic.
Protests which may be big are shaping up for today in and around the Capitol. 10 protesters were arrested yesterday.
Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, co-chair with then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Secretary of State George Shultz of the successful campaign to defeat the anti-climate change program initiative of 2010, yesterday put $20 million into his initiative campaign to end a major corporate tax break and redirect the funds to renewable energy development and budget balancing.
** MIDWAY: 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST PIVOTAL BATTLES CAME IN MIDST OF OBAMA’S BIG STRATEGIC PIVOT TO THE PACIFIC. … From my June 9th essay.
** MAD MEN: THE ANVIL HAS LANDED. … From my June 6th review.
** JERRY BROWN FOR PRESIDENT + 20. … From my June 6th essay.
** FIAT LUX, WILLARD! … From my June 1st column.
** MAD MEN: CONTROVERSY AS JOAN LOWERS HERSELF TO RISE, PEGGY EXITS ANTICLIMACTICALLY (AND SCDP GETS ITS HALO CLIENT). … From my latest essay.
** THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES BIG STEPS FORWARD. … From my May 30th essay.
** MAD MEN: A GREAT LEAPER FORWARD? JOAN, JAG, DON’S RETURN TO ADVERTISING (AND OTHER, ER, TREKS). … From my May 23rd review.
** A BUCKET OF WOE: JERRY BROWN’S UNSURPRISINGLY UNHAPPY BUDGET. … From my May 16th 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.
There is worry across the Eurozone that the successful bail-out of Spain’s banks may not be enough. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti continues to insist that Rome is not in need of a bailout. But many worry that austerity measures will not save the Italian economy. In Greece, this weekend’s election will determine whether Athens accepts the Eurozone’s bailout and austerity scheme or if it could be the first nation to drop out of the economic bloc.
** 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 $83 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $49 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 $31 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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