The CIA delivered bags of cash to President Hamid Karzai’s office in an attempt to buy influence in Afghanistan. Considering the anti-American stuff he’s been saying, and the high level of corruption in the government, that project didn’t go too well.
** QUICK HITS. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy hosts an immigration forum with Senators John McCain and Michael Bennett and former Mexican President Vicente Fox tomorrow morning in Los Angeles. … California’s state capital crowd is largely happy this afternoon after the National Basketball Association blocked a move of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. … The state legislature has sent a requested bill clearing up a logjam around business filings to Governor Jerry Brown on a 60-5 vote in the Assembly. … Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, a sub-orbital private craft designed for space tourism completed a successful high-altitude test flight this morning over the Mojave Desert in Southern California.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … MAD MEN TAKES ON THE ASSASSINATION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING.
** NEW SURVEY: UNSURPRISINGLY, FEAR OF ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK IS UP. A new Gallup Poll survey tells us something which should be no surprise.
In the wake of the shocking Boston Marathon bombings, fear of terrorism is approaching recent highs.
But the level of concern is significantly less than it was in the wake of 9/11. Of course, a thousand times more people were killed by the Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
There has only been a slight dip in faith in the government to protect against terrorist attacks.
Less than two weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings killed three onlookers, wounded nearly two hundred, and closed the streets of Boston and its environs during an intense manhunt for the suspects, half of Americans believe a terrorist attack in the U.S. could be imminent. That is up from 38% in August 2011, and is one of the higher readings Gallup has recorded in recent years. …
More specifically, 12% of Americans Gallup surveyed April 24-25 think it is very likely that a terrorist attack will occur in the next several weeks, and 39% call this somewhat likely. Another 34% consider it not too likely, while 12% say it is not at all likely. …
The only other recent instance when public anticipation of an imminent terrorist act surged was in May 2011. That clearly reflected Americans’ concern about retaliation the day after the U.S. killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his hiding place in Pakistan. …
The same poll shows 70% of Americans feeling confident in the federal government to protect its citizens from future acts of terrorism, including 19% who have a great deal of confidence in it and 51% a fair amount. About three in 10 have low confidence, including 21% who say “not very much,” and 8% who say “none at all.”
While high in absolute terms, the 70% who are generally confident in the U.S. government on terrorism is slightly lower than the 75% found in 2011, although not significantly different from the 73% measured in 2006, when George W. Bush was president. …
With the help of Lincoln director Steven Spielberg, President Barack Obama makes fun of himself and method actor Daniel Day-Lewis at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … MAD MEN TAKES ON THE ASSASSINATION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then delivered remarks at the National Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary at the National Academy of Sciences.
At 11:10 AM Pacific, Obama makes a personnel announcement in the East Room.
He will appoint Mayor Anthony Foxx of Charlotte, North Carolina to be the new secretary of transportation.
This is a slot that has been held by one of the few Republicans in the Obama Cabinet, former Congressman Ray LaHood.
Many had thought that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would become transportation secretary. It didn’t happen.
Foxx impressed some Democrats with his city’s hosting of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Some. Others found the city relatively unprepared.
Obama’s prepping for a big trip to Latin America later in the week.
Meanwhile, the Boston Marathon bombing investigation continues.
Some are saying that the two suspects had training, but if they did, they didn’t have much and there’s no evidence of it so far.
In some decidedly good news, another day has passed without a North Korean missile launch.
The annual US/South Korea military exercises are about to end.
I suggested in an article linked below early this month that the crisis was likely to run its course and wind down as the exercises neared their end.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the North Korean nuclear program, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: 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 time on the Korean Peninsula is sixteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
** CONSIDERING W: I HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE (I KINDA LIKE BUSH). I have a confession to make. I kinda like George W. Bush. (Insert caveats.)
I was reminded of this Thursday as I watched what his fellow former President Bill Clinton amusingly dubbed “the latest, grandest example of the struggle of former presidents to rewrite history,” the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.
I met Bush rather briefly when he was governor of Texas and found him to be intelligent and funny. Though he certainly turned out somewhat differently than I anticipated back in 1999, when I told a friend at The Nation that he was not to be underestimated because “he’s like Bill Clinton with a glint of steel.” (Writer Marc Cooper, who would join me in 2000 in working with Arianna Huffington on the Shadow Conventions, has joshed me on more than a few occasions over that line.)
By the time we did those conventions, presenting unrepresented issues in mirroring the 2000 Republican national convention in Philadelphia, where our Shadow keynoter was Senator John McCain — whom I had supported in the primaries, and who promptly earned hoots from the crowd by endorsing Bush at the beginning of his speech — and the Democratic gathering in Los Angeles, where our keynoter was my old friend and boss, former Senator Gary Hart, it was clear that Bush was no one to underestimate. Not that many did not continue to underestimate him.
When I met with Ralph Nader, also one of our Shadow Convention speakers, to discuss working on his third party campaign, he said he believed that Al Gore would win handily and that there was thus no danger of his Green candidacy playing a spoiling role in the election. I didn’t agree.
Bush ran and was elected — let’s put aside for present purposes the egregious Florida recount — on a platform of “compassionate conservatism” leavened with concern for the environment and climate change. His campaign also disdained Clintonian notions of nation-building and what many on the right derided as reflexive interventionism (Clinton engaged in a successful limited intervention in the Balkans). Which of course is mordantly amusing considering what was to come.
Every presidency has its problems and, well, the Bush presidency was to have more than most, bequeathing his successor the worst economy since the Great Depression, a climate on fast-cook, and, oh yes, not one but two foreign war debacles.
I’m going to zero in on one issue, mindful that there can be debate over multiple causes of the financial and economic meltdown, and that the climate cooked during the Clinton years, too.
Any real-world American president would have retaliated for the 9/11 attacks. (Yes, I know that there is a small but persistent group of folks who believe that America deserves to be attacked, just as there is a larger but still decidedly minority element who believes that Islam is an evil religion that must be defeated.)
The question was what form America’s retaliation for 9/11 would take.
Bush started off well, using air and special ops elements, working closely with nationalist forces within Afghanistan to take down the al-Qaeda bases there and displace the Taliban regime which had granted bin Laden safe harbor. (Whether the US could have done a deal before 9/11 to supercede bin Laden’s with the Afghan Taliban, which showed no interest of their own in expansive jihadism, is an interesting question.)
But Bush and company let bin Laden slip away at Tora Bora, then embarked on a half-baked nation-building scheme in Afghanistan, which President Barack Obama subsequently escalated to what I’m sure is his private dismay.
Far worse, the neoconservative ideologues around Bush convinced him to go off on a massive tangent, one of the biggest in history, in invading Iraq. Not only had Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, nor did he have the vaunted weapons of mass destruction, ending his regime removed the region’s effective counter-weight to Iran.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, the decidedly non-surgical approach Bush took in responding to 9/11 made it look like America was trying to occupy big swathes of the Islamic world.
And the melodramatic “Long War” rhetoric that accompanied it all made it sound like such an occupation would exist in perpetuity.
What better way to erect a massive signpost of recruitment for future jihadists and America-haters? Aside from blowing up Mecca, of course.
In an interview with CNN the night before the dedication of his presidential library, Bush allowed as how “tactical errors” had been made in Iraq but insisted that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Nothing like a little stubbornness, is there?
While Bush isn’t the rich kid dummy that so many on the left imagine him to be — just as Obama is not the affirmative action-empowered idiot their doppelgangers on the right delude themselves about — he didn’t prove to be very intellectually curious or reflective. Certainly not in his first term, when events that will take decades to sort out were set in motion. …
Russian counter-intelligence agents secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which one of the Boston bombing suspects vaguely discussed jihad with his mother.
** A NEW THREAT OF IDIOCRATIC TERRORISM? … From my April 24th essay.
** MAD MEN: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? … From my April 23rd essay.
** UNNERVED BY THE UNCERTAINTY OF COMPLEXITY: THE BOSTON BOMBINGS. … From my April 19th column.
** JERRY BROWN LEAVES THE PARTY BEHIND IN CHINA. … From my April 17th feature.
** GALE FORCE WINDS OF HISTORY HIT MAD MEN, WHICH STILL FINDS THE TIME FOR SOME OBVIOUS PRACTICAL LESSONS. … From my April 15th essay.
** THE KOREA CRISIS: WILL EVENTS SIMPLY RUN THEIR COURSE TILL THE END OF “FOAL EAGLE?” … From my April 11th column.
** 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 small film called Iron Man 3 opens across North America at the end of the week. In the latest example of a distressing new trend, it’s already a big hit in international markets. Which is another way of saying we are among the last to get what for many will be a thoroughly “spoiled” film, which has a big political twist in its plot pertaining to terrorism.
** 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.
** 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 $94 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $60 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 $20 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.