** ACTIVITY ON THE LEADING CALIFORNIA OPPOSITION BLOGS. California’s daily newspapers have identified two prominent right-wing blogs as the centers of opposition to the bipartisan Assembly budget backed by Governor Arnold Schwarznegger. They are the Flash Report, owned by Southern California GOP vice chairman Jon Fleischman. And California Republic, owned by state Senator and former candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, and state controller, Tom McClintock.
As of 9:15 PM Pacific time, as the budget battle “rages,” here is the total number of comments on each of these sites for today. Flash Report: 4. California Republic: 1.
** U.K. LEADERS, U.S., U.N., AND CALIFORNIA. New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets for the first time as the UK’s premier this weekend at the presidential retreat of Camp David with President George W. Bush. Brown, who has had to cope with Islamic jihadist terrorist attacks on London and Glasgow as well as unprecedented heavy weather and flooding throughout Britain since taking over from Tony Blair on June 27th, will explore and reaffirm the “special relationship” between the US and UK, and will deliver a keynote address to the United Nations in New York.
Meanwhile, new British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff yesterday in Islamabad, signaled that the special relationship does not entail doing whatever the US might want. Miliband indicated that British forces would fight to prevent Al Qaeda’s resurgence along the Afghan-Pakistan border, but would not be part of any potential US strike/reconnaissance in force into the Waziristan sector of Pakistan to hunt down and eradicate Al Qaeda leadership.
Miliband, incidentally, was the environment minister under Blair who approved the naming by the UK of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the great environmental heroes of the planet. Schwarzenegger will meet tomorrow in Silicon Valley with new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The two leaders will tour a high tech firm making sensors that enable more efficient use of energy.
For his part, Tony Blair — the man at the center of all those relationships — has had a busy week touring the Middle East as the new peace envoy. He appears to be having some success getting the militant Hamas faction of the Palestinians brought into the negotiating mix with regard to the perpetual Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
** CALIFORNIA BUDGET UPDATE: NO PUFF OF WHITE SMOKE. Not much happened today. No vote on the state Senate Republicans’ cobbled together cuts. No emergence of two Republican votes in the Senate for the bipartisan Assembly version of the budget. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a number of private meetings, then came forth to call for the passage of the budget and for all to move on, with deeper structural fiscal matters to be dealt with in a more contemplative manner. And that was that.
** SECDEF GATES SAYS IRAQ WITHDRAWAL PLANNING UNDERWAY. Responding to Hillary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee who inquired about Pentagon planning for withdrawal from Iraq, Defense Secretary Bob Gates said such planning is well underway. While he did not explicitly apologize for an undersecretary’s characterization last week of her request giving aid and comfort to the enemy, Gates did describe him as a “valued member” of his staff who is “a Vietnam veteran.” In politics, that’s not a good sign for Mr. Eric Edelman.
** RUSSIAN MOVES AROUND IRAN CONTINUE. Now, contradicting what was said only yesterday (see below), Russia’s deputy foreign minister says that the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran will be completed in early 2008. This would potentially advance Iran’s nuclear program by as much as six to nine months from what was previously calculated.
Russia is very unhappy with various Bush Administration policies, such as the missile shield based in Eastern Europe and the NATO envelopment of the Russian Federation.
** WHAT’S CALIFORNIA’S REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRMAN UP TO? Ron Nehring, whose party is reeling with a roughly million dollar operating deficit since he took over at the state convention in Sacramento this past February, is in Israel now, in the midst of a 10-day tour, as reported in yesterday morning’s column.
What’s he up to? You won’t find that out from California Republicans. You will, however, from Florida Republicans. Here, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Jim Greer discusses the centerpiece event of their 10 days in Israel. A forum featuring Greer and Nehring yesterday on, naturally, politics in the US and Israel. In this forum, the Florida party chairman described his experiences as chairman of his state party, along with outreach efforts to various minority groups.
“I look forward to using the experiences from this trip,” says Greer, “to enhance our understanding of the issues that are important to the Jewish community in Florida and across the nation and to further the Republican Party of Florida’s outreach to this community.”
“This is a classic junket,” explains a top Republican strategist. “Ron Nehring is a professional junketeer.”
** MCCAIN LOSES HIS MEDIA TEAM. Senator John McCain’s media consultants, Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, have left his sagging campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. This is the latest in a series of departures that have rocked his once frontrunning candidacy, not only for the nomination, but for the presidency. Stevens was a colleague of mine on the late NBC-TV series, Mister Sterling. He also wrote for Northern Exposure , Commander in Chief (intriguingly about a Hillary-like president) and other shows, in addition to his extensive political work.
** FRED THOMPSON CAMPAIGN IN DISARRAY ALREADY? The slow-starting Fred Thompson for President campaign, having lost its campaign manager early in the week, was just the subject of a Fox News report by correspondent Carl Cameron. He reported what was alluded to here earlier. That Thompson’s wife, Jeri Kuhn Thompson, is running the show. And that that, according to Fox, is proving to be an impediment to the campaign getting going down the runway towards take-off.
** BLAIR LEAVES BEHIND ARNOLD’S iPOD. They’re great allies, but former Prime Minister Tony Blair was less than impressed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gift of an iPod. He left it behind when he left office last month, donating it to the United Kingdom government. Somehow, I don’t quite see Gordon Brown as an iPod kind of guy.
** NEVADA SHOWS DRAMATIC CLIMATE CHANGE. Setting the table for the second-in-the-nation presidential nomination contest next January 19th, a new study shows that Nevada is one of the states that has already felt the greatest amount of climate change. Average temperatures are up dramatically in the Silver State, as are minimum temperatures.
The average temperature in Reno from June through August last year was 75.6 degrees, almost 7 degrees above the 30-year average. The gap was the biggest measured nationally. Las Vegas’ average temperature last summer was 3.6 degrees above the 30-year average from 1971-2000.
RUSSIAN YOUTH POLL: STALIN GOOD, IMMIGRANTS BAD. A new poll of Russians aged 18 to 29 shows that a strong majority greatly admires the late dictator Joseph Stalin. And a strong majority feels that immigrants should really just go away. Is this the Putin generation?
** 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 have shot up to $77 per barrel.
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