In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama dispenses with the usual politics and policy and discusses the start of the Olympic Games in London, First Lady Michelle Obama’s lengthy visit there, and the already outstanding performance of American athletes.
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then departed for the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
August 4th, incidentally, is Obama’s 51st birthday.
Obama will return to the White House later on Sunday.
He has no scheduled public events on the weekend.
Here’s what Obama’s week ahead looks like.
As usual, it does not reflect his crisis management activities and has plenty of time built in to allow to adjust for emerging events.
On Monday, Obama will sign the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act at a signing ceremony in the Oval Office. Later on Monday, he will travel to Stamford and Westport, Connecticut for campaign events.
On Tuesday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Wednesday, Obama will travel to Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado for campaign events, overnighting in Denver.
On Thursday, Obama will travel to Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colorado for campaign events.
On Friday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
Obama must still be sighing a slight sigh of relief about Friday’s improved job growth numbers. Conservative Republican rival Mitt Romney, still trying to recover from his international tour, had hoped for a much better opportunity to criticize.
Instead, we have higher than expected job growth, though hardly anything to write home about. The US economy under Obama is muddling through, after nearly cratering during the previous administration, whose policies Romney wants to double down on.
Corporate America is still sitting on vast hoards of cash amidst an uncertain global financial picture in which much is simply out of the hands of America.
Obama is certainly not sighing in relief about Saturday’s Chinese response to his administration’s criticisms later on Friday of the People’s Republic’s increasingly aggressive moves to try to lock down sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea.
A PRC foreign ministry spokesman criticized the US for its still soft intervention. Which is quite soft, in the sense that it is still rhetorical, and focuses on widely accepted international conventions about the maritime economic zones of nations, which China’s claims violate, and advocacy of a multilateral solution to the welter of conflicting claims made by the various nations on the South China Sea, of which the PRC is only one.
I find it interesting that China chose to use a foreign ministry spokesman rather than a more senior figure to push back on the US stance. That does indicate a certain lack of confidence in the PRC position, despite the fact that the US is clearly distracted by the ongoing Gulf crisis and the recent drumbeat for war against Iran in the Israeli press. A drumbeat that was further stirred up by Romney’s breathtaking assertion that Israel’s highest national security priority — the prevention of an Iranian bomb — must be America’s highest national security as well.
In brighter news, Obama also has a Mars landing to look forward to very late on Sunday night, as the Mars rover Curiosity is scheduled to touch down on the Martian surface in a complex maneuver that will be “seven minutes of terror” as the rover’s controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena put it.
Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars at 10:31 PM Pacific time.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
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 time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
The Mars Rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on the surface of the Red Planet at 10:31 PM Pacific time Sunday night. It must first execute a complex set of maneuvers, all of which are run out of NASA’s deep space exploration command center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft, more than 150 million miles from California, will hit the atmosphere of Mars traveling at 13,000 miles per hour.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events.
Brown must be pleased that his administration’s crash dive audit of the state’s 560 special funds turned up no further examples of deliberate hoarding beyond the already discussed state Parks & Recreation Department situation. I have a document which indicates that the practice went back at least to the governorship of Republican Governor Pete Wilson, not that he nor any of his top aides had any idea of it, either.
The audit did uncover about $200 million in additional funds, the non-parks & rec portions due to accounting mistakes and differing practices.
Given the magnitude of the California budget, and its chronic crisis, this is scarcely more than “budget dust.”
So much for the widely touted press report earlier suggesting that there was $2.3 billion in such funds.
SpaceX, the California-based commercial space exploration firm based in California and headed by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, announced on Friday that it has won a contract from NASA to make the orbital manned spacecraft which will take the place of the space shuttle.
SpaceX, as you know, made history a few months ago by staging the first private resupply mission to the International Space Station.
And in an even bigger first coming up, the Mars Rover mission Curiosity, which is run, like all unmanned deep space exploration projects, out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California — across LA from SpaceX — is scheduled to land on Mars late Sunday night.
More, as the saying goes, to follow on both these happenings.
** GORE VIDAL: REMEMBERING A BRILLIANT, CONTROVERSIAL LEGEND OF THE SORT WE DON’T FOSTER ANY MORE. The current scene isn’t producing writers like Gore Vidal, one of the towering writers and cultural figures of the post-World War II era. So his passing Tuesday in Los Angeles, where he lived most of the past decade, marks a sad cultural milestone.
I hardly knew him well — he was a cool, aristocratic, witty, mandarin sort of cat who spoke through his work (beneath the icy exterior, he told me, as he apparently liked to say, lies cold water) — but encountered him many times over the years, including when he ran for the U.S. Senate against my old friend Jerry Brown in 1982, and when we featured him at the Shadow Conventions in 2000, the alternative political conventions mirroring those of the major parties spearheaded by Arianna Huffington, for which I served as senior advisor. Ironically, I had just been re-reading one of Vidal’s books when he passed away, after reading several over the past year.
Novelist, essayist, politico, playwright, screenwriter, conversationalist, provocateur, Vidal was the complete package as what used to be called a man of letters back when there was such a thing. He did not, to my knowledge, tweet, nor Facebook. He simply wrote, at proper length, which is what most writing, aside from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, concerning which Vidal had very useful things to say, is about.
Doing my usual Net sweep, I see that there have been a massive number of pieces from people who apparently never met him, as well as a few from those who were very much fans and some more from those brave souls who have waited to rip him until after he was safely dead. In my view, he was a flawed genius, sometimes prone, especially late in the day, to some errant conspiracy-mongering. In the aftermath, I prefer to focus on the genius part of it, especially since brilliance is an endangered species in this era in which a majority of at least one major political party seeks to kill the Enlightenment ideas on which this nation was founded.
Born in New York, Vidal ended, after a lengthy sojourn in Italy, in California. Which in a sense is fitting, since this is where he flourished as a screenwriter and mounted his biggest political effort, his run for the U.S. Senate in 1982 against then and future Governor Jerry Brown. … From my August 3rd essay.
** ROMNEY’S DANGEROUS BUFFOONERY. … From my August 1st essay.
** SUNRISE IN CALIFORNIA? … From my July 26th feature.
** CHINA MOVES SWIFTLY ON NEW “CITY” ENCOMPASSING SOUTH CHINA SEA, GULF CRISIS SIMMERS. … From my July 24th feature.
** THE DARK KNIGHT SHOOTINGS: “ALL IT TAKES IS A LITTLE PUSH.” … From my July 21st column.
** MITT WHITMAN = MEG ROMNEY. … From my July 19th column.
** CRISES CHAOTIC AND BUBBLING: THE GULF AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. … From my July 17th essay.
** WHY THE CLINTONS NEED OBAMA TO WIN: UNCERTAINTY AS HILLARY PUSHES THE BIG GEOPOLITICAL PIVOT. … From my July 13th essay.
** A TICKET TO RIDE: HIGH-SPEED RAIL MOVES FORWARD ON A HISTORIC (AND BUMPY) TRACK IN CALIFORNIA. … From my July 11th feature.
** DARK KNIGHTS, AVENGERS, BONDING RETRO ACTION HEROES: HOW LONG WILL THE SUPERHERO PHENOMENON LAST? … From my July 7th essay.
With Team USA trailing late in the game, headed for a shock loss to Lithuania after a record-shattering 83-point margin of victory the other day, controversial NBA superstar LeBron James took over the game and led the team to a narrow victory.
** 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 closed on Friday at $91.40 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.
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