Barnstorming for Jobs and Growth

Jun 3, 2013  By FRED BARNES

AP / Carolyn KasterWhen President Obama arrived in Austin three years ago, Texas governor Rick Perry greeted him with a four-page letter asking for help in securing the border with Mexico. “He was not particularly enthralled with my theatrics,” Perry says. The president didn’t bother to respond. Perry heard later from a White House aide.
Rick Perry Greets The President, 2010

AP / Carolyn Kaster
Obama returned to Austin in early May on the first leg of his new “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity” tour. This time Perry met him at the airport without delivering a message. Instead he put an ad in the Austin American-Statesman: “Mr. President—Take a look at our successful ‘Texas Model.’ ”

Obama may ignore that advice, but Perry says Obama must be aware of the state’s booming economy. “He wouldn’t have come here if he weren’t aware of the success,” Perry told me. “Where do you start your jobs tour in America? You go to the most successful place in the country. That’s Texas.”

Perry has no illusions about converting Obama to the free market, small government model that’s worked in Texas. “The president is not the most open individual in the world when it comes to looking at another point of view,” he says. Obama “is a true believer in socialist policies, and to take a step away from those would be devastating to his psyche.”

So forget Obama. Perry, in his 13th year as governor, has begun a bigger crusade to persuade the country that what has worked in Texas and other Republican-led states will work everywhere. “I want to engage America in this blue state / red state discussion,” he says. This may sound grandiose, but he’s not kidding.

Syria: Assad vague on delivery of Russian missiles

Mideast SyriaBEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a TV interview broadcast Thursday that Russia has fulfilled some of its weapons contracts recently, but was vague on whether this included advanced S-300 air defense systems.

Assad's actual comments differed from excerpts the TV station conducting the interview had sent to reporters in a text message on Thursday morning.

In that message, the Al-Manar station owned by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah quoted Assad as saying Syria had already received a first shipment of such missiles. The Associated Press called Al-Manar after receiving the text message, and an official at the station said the message had been sent based on Assad's comments.

In the interview, Assad was asked about the S-300s, but his answer was general.

He said that Russia's weapons shipments are not linked to the Syria conflict. "We have been negotiating with them about different types of weapons for years and Russia is committed to Syria to implement these contracts," he said.

"All we have agreed on with Russia will be implemented and some of it has been implemented recently, and we and the Russians continue to implement these contracts," he said.

Assad also said that his forces will respond to any future Israeli strike on his country.

Israel struck near the Syrian capital of Damascus earlier this month. Israeli officials said at the time they were targeting suspected shipments of advanced missiles purportedly intended for Hezbollah, a Syria ally.

Asked whether Syria would respond to such strikes, Assad said: "We have told countries that we will respond to any strike with a similar strike." He says that the manner of the response "depends on the circumstance and timing" of the attack.

Obama's Austin Visit to Start With Perry Meeting

For President Obama and Gov. Rick Perry, Thursday morning should feel familiar.

In August 2010, Perry greeted Obama as his plane landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and gave him a letter urging the president to send more troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

Just after noon on Thursday, as Obama steps off Air Force One in Austin, Perry plans to be again waiting on the tarmac. This time, with a message about the economy.
“Gov. Perry simply plans to welcome the president to Texas and perhaps encourage him to implement Texas’ successful economic policies nationwide,” Perry spokesman Josh Havens said.

After his encounter with Perry, Obama has a busy afternoon scheduled. While that visit in 2010 centered on a speech on higher education at the University of Texas, this trip is about promoting Obama's efforts to spur economic growth.

His decision to come to Texas is notable, as Perry has worked to frame the state's strong economic performance in recent years as a result of Republican policies that keep taxes low and regulation light. And while Obama has struggled to pursue his economic agenda — hampered by a divided Congress and a large federal debt — Perry and the Republican-led 
Texas Legislature are debating what to do with a large budget surplus.

The president will first stop at Manor New Tech High School, where positive results with a collaborative teaching style have gained national attention. The school and student body spent the week preparing for the visit, including postponing some end-of-course exams.

Afterward, Obama will meet with technology workers at the Austin facility of Applied Materials, the world's largest maker of chip manufacturing equipment. Austin's city council plans to recess a scheduled meeting early so that the council and Mayor Lee Leffingwell can attend the meeting, said Amy Everhart, a spokeswoman for the mayor.  

The White House had not revealed additional details of Obama’s Texas trip as of Wednesday evening, but rumors swirled that the president may stop by elsewhere in the city. The Austin-American Statesman reported that the city plans to close unspecified streets downtown Thursday and detour some buses, suggesting Obama could make an unannounced appearance there.

What inspires Bill Gates?

What inspires Bill Gates?
What inspires a billionaire? In the case of Bill Gates, it's a 500-year-old manuscript penned by Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci. And at $30.8 million, it was probably a bargain to the Microsoft founder, who considers it a priceless symbol of knowledge. Charlie Rose talks to Gates about the historic document -- the world's most valuable -- for a 60 Minutes story to be broadcast Sunday, May 12 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Gates won't entertain comparisons of his life to that of da Vinci, who conceived of airplanes and helicopters hundreds of years before they were built, but says the great thinker was way ahead of his time. "He had an understanding of science that was more advanced than anybody else at the time," says Gates, referring to da Vinci's writings about water displayed in his private office in Seattle. "He's looking at how it flows when it hits barriers and it goes around and comes back together. He's actually trying to understand turbulence. How you build a dam, does it erode away?"

What makes the ancient text so priceless to Gates is what it stands for: a quest for knowledge he embraces completely and that continues to inspire him. "It's an inspiration, that one person off on their own with no positive feedback...that he kept pushing himself...found knowledge in itself to be a beautiful thing," Gates tells Rose.

Da Vinci's ideas were futuristic. Gates' may be realized much sooner. He shows Rose prototypes of inventions now being worked on that will help change the world for many, especially the world's poorest people.

Gates has invested in a nuclear reactor that would burn depleted uranium. He predicts the reactor, which is cheaper, cleaner and safer than those of today, could be built in a decade or less. But another invention, a thermos system that can keep vaccines cold and potent for 50 days, will soon be deployed to help eradicate preventable diseases.
© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

139th Kentucky Derby: A Billionaire's Bonanza

By: Brian A. Shactman
CNBC Reporter

The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby will surely make history, and a lot of money, too.
Start with the horses and owners. Right now, the favorite is named Orb. Owners Stuart Janney and Dinny Phipps, first cousins whose families both have a long and distinguished history in horse racing, bought him for just $50,000. Orb has already won close to a million dollars. A Derby win would more than double that, and most likely, bring an annuity of riches in terms of breeding. Repole's horse is Overanalyze and at 15-1, he has a chance to do just that.
Derby's $1,000 Mint Julep
Thursday, 2 May 2013 | 2:00 PM ET
CNBC's Brian Shactman is at the home of Saturday's Kentucky Derby, where Brown-Forman has cooked up a mint julep with a $1,000 price tag. Tim Laird, Brown-Forman's "Chief Entertaining Officer" makes one for Brian and explains what makes it so expensive.
Most people don't know the name Mike Repole. But he's a billionaire. Repole co-founded Glaceau—most known for Vitamin Water—and he sold it to Coke for $4.1 billion in 2007. Now, he's out to dominate horse racing like he did the beverage industry.

Repole's horse is Overanalyze and at 15-1, he has a chance to do just that.
There's also a great deal of buzz surrounding the horse Goldencents. It was originally purchased for $62,000 and has won even more than Orb. However, there are two elements of Goldencents' story that make the horse one to watch.

First, it's part owned by Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. He just won the national championship, and a hoops/Derby double would absolutely be unprecedented. Then, there's the jockey. Kevin Krigger is an African American from the U.S. Virgin Islands. No African American jockey has won the Derby since 1902.

While on the subject of jockeys and history, Rosie Napravnik is mounted on Mylute, and she could become the first female to ever win the Kentucky Derby.

Those are the headline history-making possibilities, and if any of them win, huge money would follow.

The truth is that huge money is everywhere at the Derby: from the $8,000 per ticket new luxury area called the "Mansion," to the $500 hats and $1,000 mint julep.
Not everyone will pony up $1,000 for a gold-leafed mint julep, but plenty will buy the cheaper versions. Approximately 120,000 will be served, and that translates into more than a ton of mint and 7,800 litres of bourbon.

You might need a few to swallow the cost of staying in Louisville on Derby weekend. Put it this way, a Hampton Inn 10 miles away in Indiana is charging $550 a night...and they're full. Normally, that room-rate is $90.

If you come through on a nice 50-1 long shot, it might all be worthwhile. To see the spectacle, it might still be worth it even if you lose.

The 139th Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs.
—By CNBC's Brian Shactman. Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman

Stars Share Memories of George Jones at Memorial Service

Alan JacksonPhoto Credit: Ray Tharaldson & Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Kenny Chesney, Charlie Daniels, Brad Paisley and Many Others Eulogize the Late Singer
Alan Jackson
George Jones' funeral at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville was a somber yet uplifting ceremony of music and remembrances of the Country Music Hall of Fame member who is widely considered the greatest country singer of all time.

Jones passed away Friday (April 26) at age of 81.

Numerous country stars, politicians and other celebrities were in attendance Thursday (May 2) to pay their respects to Jones and his wife Nancy. Some provided musical tributes while others offered eulogies and fond memories about the late singer's talent and friendships.

Tanya Tucker, Randy Travis, the the Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt, Barbara Mandrell, Kid Rock, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Brad Paisley, Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Chesney, Wynonna and Alan Jackson all spoke or performed a song in Jones' memory.

Also speaking were Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer, former first lady Laura Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The Rev. Mike Wilson, Jones' pastor, offered opening prayers and the ceremony's closing benediction.

Stars who did not take the stage but were in the audience for the event included Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, Trace Adkins, Jamey Johnson, Rodney Crowell, Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry, Bill Anderson, Marty Stuart, Little Jimmy Dickens, Joe Diffie, Bobby Bare, producer Buddy Cannon and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

Thousands of Jones' fans lined up hoping to secure a seat in the Opry House, filling the theater's upper deck and outer flanks after friends and family were allowed to take their seats closer to the stage.

Tucker opened the proceedings with a poem before giving the stage over to Gov. Haslam, who remarked about a trip he took to Tokyo, Japan, in which he found himself in the city's only "country bar" listening to the house band play George Jones covers. Jones was truly a worldwide star, he said.

Travis spoke in a shaky voice about playing a concert with Jones in which the elder demanded to take the stage first -- a common occurrence in Jones' later years of performing -- saying he "would have [paid] all those people to leave" rather than follow the star.

The Oak Ridge Boys spoke of trusting in God's word as they performed "Farther Along," then made way for Schieffer to take the podium. The Texas-born newsman has been a lifelong country music and George Jones fan.

  Photo by Ray Tharaldson all rights reserved 2013
"Nobody could sing like George Jones," Schieffer said, "You couldn't because you hadn't been through what he had been through."

Then Schieffer explained what it was that made Jones such a hero to his fans.

"I think it was the honesty in George's voice that gave it such universal appeal," Schieffer said. "He was as honest and open in his music as he was about himself. He knew what it was like to make a hard living -- the kind of job that some parts of your body are going to hurt when you go home that night. He knew about heartbreak, he knew about disappointment, he knew about betrayal. He was more than a country singer. He was a country song. And it was never an easy song. ... God made just one like him, but aren't we glad He did."

Daniels received a rousing applause after remarking that Jones refused to follow trends and fads in country music, staying true to himself and old-school country instead.

Throughout the event, speakers and performers did not shy away or lessen the truth of Jones' troubles during the '60s and '70s -- from his tendency to miss shows to his well-known love of drink.

Opry announcer Keith Bilbrey commented on such trials but reminded the crowd that Jones was an honest man and that "if he did it, he admitted it and he made it right."

Tritt offered the repeated refrain that all of Jones' friends, family and fans owed Jones' wife Nancy a debt of gratitude, crediting her with pulling him out of alcoholism and various other personal issues that most thought would eventually kill him.

Fighting back tears, Barbra Mandrell spoke of Jones as a kind and caring man who helped out younger artists whenever possible.

Kid Rock, who became close with Jones toward the end of his life and visited the singer in the hospital before he died, delivered a poignant speech, much of it directly to Nancy.

"Quite frankly, I know how difficult it can be to be with one of us," he said. "We give so much of our self to the people, to the fans, to the crowds and to the business that sometimes when you come home, it can be a little empty there because you don't have so much left to give. ... But no matter what we got of George Jones, [Nancy] got the best of him."

He then performed an original tune titled "Best of Me" that echoed the sentiment.

Vince Gill and Patty Loveless brought the Opry house to tears, partially for their soaring rendition of Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain" but mostly because Gill could not sing much of the song through his own crying. Loveless consoled the singer as he omitted one verse in favor of a guitar solo for lack of a voice.

"It is my belief that they don't make those shoes anymore," he said before the performance, referring to Jones' song about the changing times of country music, "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes."

Former first lady Laura Bush remarked that Jones' voice had made an impression on countless Americans, herself included.

"Pain and Love," she said. "George Jones spoke of them both whenever he sang a note."

Paisley used his time onstage to encourage young people watching on TV to discover Jones if they hadn't already. He also spoke of the redemption Jones achieved in his life and what an inspiration it was for others.

Huckabee said that when he was younger, men were not supposed to cry. It was Jones' songs, he said, that did the crying on their behalf.

Kenny Chesney, who was clearly shaken, said he looked up to Jones like a father, while Wynonna contended that America had lost a national treasure.

But perhaps the most powerful speech of the night was not a speech at all. To close the ceremony, Jackson strode the microphone and seemed to will himself to get through Jones' signature song, "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Forceful with the song's heartbreaking lyrics but with quivering lips, Jackson removed his cowboy hat as the Opry house joined him for the song's final line.

"We love you, George," was all that was left to say.