Remember the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate last week, “revealing”
that Al Qaeda has revived in Pakistan? ABC News had already reported
on the deal that allowed it to happen. Last October.
** SCHWARZENEGGER CLOSETED FOR MEETINGS TOMORROW IN THE CAPITOL. With California’s state budget three-and-a-half weeks overdue, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold private meetings in and around the state Capitol tomorrow.
Most state Senate Republicans are far to the right of the centrist Schwarzenegger, whose much greater popularity will be confirmed once again in a new public poll for publication tomorrow. But while they have the power of no, he has the power of yes, as well as the power of popularity. Given the extraordinary state of disarray that the California Republican Party finds itself in just five months after its leadership shifted further to the right — and there is more to report on that score beyond this morning’s column — that is not an inconsequential matter.
** BROWN HITS BACK. California Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown, in this statement, hit back today against the attempt by state Senate Republicans to tie passage of the state budget to a change in the state’s environmental law: “It is an outrage that a small group of Republican senators would gut California’s Environmental Quality Act as the price of their voting—a month late—on this year’s budget. Their proposal would profoundly undercut the positive efforts of cities and counties to reduce greenhouse gases and fight global warming.
“It is the constitutional responsibility of the Attorney General to enforce all the laws of California, including our ground breaking environmental laws. California has a proud history as being the unquestioned leader in the fight to control global warming. We should not let a few Republican state senators—all of whom opposed the Global Warming Solutions Act–turn back the clock with this misguided and retrograde maneuver. It represents global warming denial at its worst.”
Brown won the biggest landslide victory of any contested statewide race last year, defeating Republican Chuck Poochigian, a former state senator and avowed opponent of efforts to combat the greenhouse effect, 57% to 38%. As attorney general, he is pushing local governments to address greenhouse gas emissions in their planning processes.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE: DEMOCRATS RESPOND TO MINORITY SENATE REPUBLICANS. Complaining about the lateness of their budget proposals, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has informed the Senate Republican leader, Orange County’s Dick Ackerman, that unless he can produce a unanimous 15 votes from his party caucus for the Republican counter-proposal, he won’t take up the bill tomorrow when the state Senate reconvenes.
Since the Republicans have been haggling amongst themselves over what they want — coming up with over $140 million more in cuts today than Ackerman said they would have yesterday — and since some of the senators vote no on all budgets, that will be quite a trick. State Senator Tom McClintock, the icon of the far right who has lost all four of his statewide races, for example, has not voted for a state budget since George Deukmejian was governor in the 1980s. There were times in the 1990s when then Republican Governor Pete Wilson appeared ready to throttle him.
** IRAN AND U.S. WORKING ON IRAQ SECURITY PLANNING, WHILE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM SLOGS FORWARD. After an acrimonious start to their meeting in Baghdad at the week’s beginning, US and Iranian officials have agreed to continue discussing a plan for Iraqi security. Meanwhile, the controversial Iranian nuclear program continues, with Iran making claims that the Russian-developed Bushehr nuclear plant can go operational this year. But Russian corporate and government officials scoff at that, saying there is no way it will be operational until the summer or fall of 2008. Russia has delayed the project, claiming lack of payment. Which Iran disputes.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE: THE LONG-PROMISED REPUBLICAN CUTS. Here is the long-awaited list of further budget cuts from state Senate Republicans. As you can see, they’ve adjusted the overall amount once again, this time to some $840 million. Approximately $450 million is accounted for by cuts to various welfare programs. Another $120 million would come out of the voter-approved Proposition 36 drug treatment program, thus certain to be subject to a lawsuit. Another $100 million would be cut from public transit funds, which already have taken a huge hit in the bipartisan Assembly budget. $50 million would come from eliminating 6000 currently vacant jobs throughout the government.
The rest is a miscellaneous assemblage, some of which is quite political in nature. For example, the UC Labor Institute, arguably a partisan entity, would be defunded. The Agricultural Labor Relations Board would take a big cut for the express purpose of hurting union organizing efforts. $1.2 million would be cut from preparing future environmentally efficient state buildings. And Attorney General Jerry Brown’s budget would be cut by $1 million to prevent climate change litigation.
The proposal will be taken up tomorrow when the Senate reconvenes. It has a short life expectancy.
** THE “MCCLINTOCK BLOGSTORM.” The Sacramento Bee has a dramatic story today about how state Senator Tom McClintock’s blogging rallied a wave of opposition that stopped the California state budget in its tracks as it emerged from the Assembly. Really? One Republican who was in some Senate offices last Friday night as conservatives resisted the Democratic lockdown of the house says he didn’t notice a lot of phone calls coming to stiffen Republican spines. But that’s just one person’s report.
Here is what I find intriguing. This budget battle has been raging — okay, maybe not in the big-time political sense — for days now. But a check of McClintock’s blog over the past week reveals a grand total of only seven comments during that week.
Well, my experience, and NWN readers know this very well, is that when people are reading what you’re writing and are at all fired up — or even mildly interested — you’re getting comments on your blog. Far more than seven in a week. More like seven in an hour. And more at times.
** MICHELLE OBAMA IN CALIFORNIA. Michelle Obama is in California today raising money for husband Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
** FEINSTEIN ENDORSES HILLARY. As expected, popular U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein this morning endorsed Hillary Clinton for President in a conference call. The conference with the two senators was brief and pretty uneventful. The senior senator from California and the junior senator from New York took only a few questions, after DiFi read a rather lengthy statement — which is a bit odd on a telephone conference call, rather than a press conference — endorsing Hillary because she will be a great president.
The most noteworthy question came when an LA radio reporter asked Clinton to comment on the woes of LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, now suffering in the midst of the break-up of his marriage and revelation of his affair with Telemundo broadcaster who had been covering him as mayor. Feinstein, as is her wont, interjected, telling the reporter he really didn’t want to be asking about that. Clinton, for her part, gave a boilerplate answer that went in one ear and out the other. Another reporter asked Clinton about two border patrol officers who’d gotten in a scrape. Oddly, she will be studying the issue. Feinstein was asked how much her endorsement meant, given that she’s endorsed a number of losing candidates. And so it went.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET REPORT: ANTI-CLIMAX WEDNESDAY. After weeks, if not months, of requests, state Senate Republicans, currently blocking a budget passed on a bipartisan vote in the Assembly and endorsed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, seem to have put together a list of cuts and other demands along the lines I mentioned earlier this morning. Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has recessed the Senate until tomorrow to study precisely what it is that his Republican colleagues want.
** BLAIR SEES “MOMENT OF OPPORTUNITY” IN MIDEAST. After spending the first part of this week in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territory, new Mideast envoy Tony Blair has moved on today to the Persian Gulf nations for more meetings. The former British prime minister was enthusiastically welcomed in Palestine by leaders of the Fatah faction and current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He also had a good working dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Blair is under strictures from the Quartet powers of the US, Russia, UN, and EU — prompted by the US — not to speak with the Hamas faction, which actually won the recent Palestinian election. But sources indicate that Hamas is aware of the complications of Blair’s mission and is not hostile to it.
Blair’s charge is to present a plan for full-fledged Palestinian state in the fall. While working to develop Palestine in the interim, he will continue discussing Palestinian/Israeli security arrangements with the Israelis.
** ISLAMIC SUPPORT FOR TERROR DECLINING. This new poll by Pew Research of the developing world and a number of Islamic countries indicates that support for suicide bombings is down sharply in most of those countries. In Lebanon, 74% supported suicide bombings against civilians in furtherance of Islam. Today it’s only 34%. But support for suicide bombings remains high amongst Palestinians. More than 70% back the terror tactic. Good luck, Mr. Blair.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE. Today is the day for state Senate Republicans, currently blockading a budget already adopted on a bipartisan basis in the Assembly, to at last reveal the budget cuts they want. I’m told that consensus has been elusive, and that the list was changing at the 11th hour. But look for more proposed cuts in welfare, public transit, and the elimination of thousands of vacant state jobs, as well as a host of miscellaneous cuts. Then there is the attempt backed by oil companies and developers to change the California Environmental Quality Act to prevent Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown from having local governments account for greenhouse gas emissions in their planning processes.
** ANOTHER HILLARY ENDORSEMENT: DIFI. At 9:30 AM, Hillary Clinton will hold a conference call to reveal her latest endorsement from a California politician. Word is that it is U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
** AL QAEDA’S AMERICAN PRISONERS STILL NOT LOCATED. American troops are now in the midst of a 74th day of searching for the remaining two US soldiers captured by Al Qaeda in an ambush south of Baghdad. They have had no luck so far. A video put out by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq claims that all three men were executed after being captured. But, with the exception of the Californian found floating in the Euphrates River, that claim can’t be confirmed. The US high command in Baghdad has revealed that ID cards for the other two American prisoners were found in an Al Qaeda safehouse on June 9th.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Most crude oil prices are around $74 per barrel.
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