In his 2nd Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama promised to “respond to the threat of climate change.” Failing to do so, he argued, would betray future generations.
** QUICK HITS. The Obama Inaugural Committee is claiming 1 million people attended inauguration festivities in Washington, up substantially from earlier estimates, but still just over half the crowd drawn to the first Obama inauguration four years ago. That seems rather high. There may be some numbers from Washington police authorities tomorrow. … A body count of a very different sort also remains unclear today, though the numbers are slowly emerging. That’s the number of non-Algerians killed in the recently concluded jihadist hostage crisis at the BP natural gas facility in the Sahara. The Algerian government is saying “at least 37 foreign hostages” were killed, along with most of the terrorist captors, and that five more hostages are still missing. … Seven of the dead Western hostages still haven’t been identified, which seems a bit odd. … Of the known dead, three are Americans. … Little news today in California politics, for which this is a long holiday weekend. A number of folks are in DC for the Obama Inaugural.
** NEW SURVEY: A DOWNBEAT VIEW OF THE AMERICAN PROSPECT. A new Gallup Poll survey released on the day of President Barack Obama’s second ceremonial inauguration finds the country in a relatively downbeat mood.
As is usual with such surveys, Republicans depress the view of where the country is and where it is going. America’s best days, say most Republicans, are behind it.
It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who contrasted “the party of memory” with “the party of hope.” That was a few years back.
Independents are somewhat more negative than positive.
U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term at a time when Americans are as negative about the state of the country and its prospects going forward as they have been in more than three decades. Fewer than four in 10 Americans (39%) rate the current status of the U.S. at the positive end of a zero to 10 scale. This is about the same as in 2010, but it is fewer than have said so at any point since 1979. As they usually are, Americans are more upbeat in their predictions of where the U.S. will be in five years (48% positive), but this is also lower than at any time since 1979. Fifty-five percent of Americans say the state of the nation five years ago was positive. …
The 39% of Americans who give a six to 10 rating when asked to evaluate the nation’s current status is similar to the 37% who said the same three years ago. Prior to that, however, assessments were generally more positive, including a 73% six to 10 rating in January 2001 — the highest on record. The three previous points in time when ratings were as low as or lower than the 2013 rating were in August 1979 (34%), April 1974 (33%), and January 1971 (39%). The 1979 measure came at a time when the economy was in bad shape and inflation was rampant, while the 1974 measure came in the midst of the Watergate scandal. When Gallup first asked the question in August 1959, 68% of Americans rated the state of the nation in the six to 10 range. …
The 48% who give a six to 10 ranking when asked to project the status of the U.S. five years from now is tied with the 1979 measure as the lowest in Gallup’s history of asking the question. Additionally, the 40% who give a negative rating (zero to four) when asked to look ahead is lower than at any point in history. These negative ratings include 10% who say the situation of the country in five years will be zero, the worst they can imagine. …
Americans’ attitudes about the status of the U.S. are closely connected with their political views, as are many attitudinal assessments in today’s highly polarized political environment. Republicans look back five years ago (when George W. Bush was still president) and view the state of the nation then as much more positive than do Democrats. On the other hand, Democrats look ahead and project a much more positive state of the nation in five years than do Republicans. In short, Republicans overwhelmingly say that the best times are behind the country, while Democrats look ahead and say the best times are ahead. The two political groups also differ in their assessment of the current state of the nation, with Democrats much more positive about the current state of the nation. …
** OBAMA’S SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS (FULL TEXT).
“Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
For more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.
For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.
You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.
You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.”
The Afghan Taliban celebrated Obama’s second inaugural today with an attack on police headquarters in Kabul.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A big week in presidential politics and California politics, underway on this Martin Luther King Day.
President Barack Obama, our young president gone gray, begins his second term as America’s first black president, marking the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, taking the ceremonial oath using the King and Lincoln bibles.
And Governor Jerry Brown, now beyond gray, delivers his State of the State address on Thursday, moving forward in the third year of his historic third term as governor having ended the Golden State’s chronic budget crisis, moving last week and this to bring new populist technology-based reforms to the state’s acclaimed yet troubled public university system.
Obama of course won re-election in November in rather handy fashion, beating his chameleon conservative Republican opponent Mitt Romney 51% to 47% in the popular vote, and by a wide margin in the electoral vote. The seeming drama of the campaign turned out to be more a function of cultural neurosis than actual reality. But the campaign did not uplift, and there was little beyond a coming together around Superstorm Sandy to suggest a bright path forward, ironic considering how little has been done on climate change.
The grinding hyper-partisanship of the election season has continued beyond, and the president’s campaign sounded an uncertain trumpet with regard to any sense of mission.
This makes Obama’s second inaugural address intriguing, because, unlike the first, he hasn’t really established a predicate for it.
Obama has multiple geopolitical crises to deal with, as I’ve been writing right along, and a fractious Congress to contend with.
Obama is attempting his big geopolitical pivot to the Asia-Pacific, but is caught up in the regions he is pivoting from.
The latest, of course, is the crisis in North Africa.
The Algerian hostage crisis appears to have finally ended. It went on and on, despite last week’s raid by the Algerian military, with an unknown number of hostages still in the hands of an unknown number of jihadists, some of whom in the sprawling BP natural gas complex attacked under still murky circumstances by Algerian special forces, and some having perhaps made their way elsewhere.
In the end on Saturday, Algerian special forces killed 11 terrorists, who in turn apparently killed the remaining seven Western hostages. No word yet on nationalities.
Nor is there final word of all the hostages being accounted for.
The jihadists demanded the release of two terrorists imprisoned in the US, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, a mastermind of the 1993 Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center, and US-educated neuro-scientist Aafia Siddiqui, convicted of attempting to murder American officials in 2008 after she was detained in Afghanistan. US officials noted again that the US does not negotiate with terrorists.
House Republicans, caught between a rock and a hard place (both set up by the president), are caving in to Obama on the debt ceiling issue, agreeing to extend it for three months without anything in return. Of course, they will find themselves in the same place three months down the line, unless they believe in the power of PR miracles.
After early problems following their sudden intervention in Mali on January 11th, French forces, working with Malian government forces, are pushing back jihadists who had been surging toward the capital city Bamako. Two key towns have been re-taken, including the one that triggered the French intervention in the first place.
As for Brown, his State of the State on Thursday, now in development, will be interesting and will be written about in full later in the week.
Meanwhile, Brown will be at the California State University Board of Trustees meeting this week, carrying on his drive for online education which he successfully pushed at last week’s University of California Board of Regents meeting.
UC President Mark Yudoff announced his retirement Friday, effective August 31st. A controversial figure, Yudof, who was not much of a public spokesman for UC, will have been president for five years, and gets a snazzy retirement package in addition to a teaching gig at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school.
Brown spent a second day last Thursday at the University of California Board of Regents meeting, getting to know university leadership and seeking to win them over to his general point of view after winning support on Wednesday for his plan to to introduce online courses to the curriculum mix.
Brown of course will have some ideas about the next president of his alma mater.
Here’s what Obama’s week ahead looks like. It is fairly vague, as has been the case for the most part since the president’s re-election.
On Tuesday, the Obamas and Bidens will attend the National Prayer Service at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Later on Tuesday, the Obamas and Bidens will attend the Staff Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.
Obama will spend the rest of the week in Washington and attend meetings at the White House.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families arrived for inaugural services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Park from the White House.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He and the rest of the First Family, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, then attended a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Following a return to the White House, the Obamas then went up to Capitol Hill for the inaugural ceremonies.
At 8:20 AM Pacific, Obama participates in his inaugural ceremonies at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building.
At 8:50 AM Pacific, Obama delivers his 2nd Inaugural Address.
At 10:05 AM Pacific, the Obamas and the Bidens attend the inaugural luncheon in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building.
At 11:40 AM Pacific, the Obamas and the Bidens participate in the inaugural parade.
At 12:45 AM Pacific, the Obamas and the Bidens watch the inaugural parade from the Presidential Reviewing Stand.
At 5:45 PM Pacific, the Obamas and the Bidens attend the Commander-in-Chief’s Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
At 6:15 PM Pacific, the Obamas and the Bidens attend the Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Obama was officially sworn in Sunday morning at 8:55 AM Pacific at a private ceremony in the White House. That is because his new term legally began on January 20th. But inaugurals are not held on Sundays.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving Mali, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: West Africa is eight hours ahead of Pacific time, the Persian/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 San Francisco 49ers came from 17 points down on the road to beat the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in the National Football Conference Championship Game, 28-24. The biggest comeback in NFC title game history puts the 49ers, coached by ex-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, in the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s brother John. This will be the first Super Bowl in history with brothers as opposing head coaches.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
Brown congratulated the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers with a celebratory tweet on Sunday.
At 11 AM, Brown will attend the funeral service for Officer Kevin Tonn on Monday in Roseville, a suburban Sacramento community in the beginning of the Sierra foothills.
Brown is not attending the Second Obama Inaugural. The pomp and circumstance of his high office is not something he has proved to be into.
He is also prepping for his State of the State address on January 24th.
** HOW NOT TO STAGE MANAGE THE WORLD. … From my January 18th column.
** POWELL POSITIONS THE DEBATE OVER CHUCK HAGEL. … From my January 14th essay.
** JERRY BROWN’S NEW BUDGET FOR POST-CRISIS CALIFORNIA: DISCIPLINE BEGETS OPPORTUNITY. … From my January 11th essay.
** WHY THE HAGEL BATTLE MADE MORE SENSE FOR OBAMA THAN THE RICE BATTLE. … From my January 9th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S FUTURIST AGENDA: A TALE OF THREE GOVERNORS. … From my January 4th 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 $95 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $61 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 $19 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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