President-elect Barack Obama announced his picks for Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Interior at a press conference yesterday in Chicago.
** SWIFT HITS. LA Rep. Hilda Solis is the pick to be the new secretary of labor. Yesterday, Berkeley professor Harley Shaiken, a labor favorite, looked like the pick. With LA Rep. Zavier Becerra declining to be the international trade representative, that helped change things. … Retired Admiral Dennis Blair is the pick to be director of national intelligence. I think I predicted that a few weeks ago. … Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he won’t sign the budget plan cobbled together by Democratic legislative leaders as it doesn’t stimulate the economy enough by fast-tracking public works programs, using more contractors and allowing him to furlough state workers. There’s also a real legal concern about the sleight of hand displacement of gas taxes by a bigger gasoline “fee,” without calling it a tax, though Schwarzenegger didn’t emphasize that. (See below for more discussion.) …
** CLINTON REVEALS DONORS. Former President Bill Clinton reveals the donors to his foundation. Have fun.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama has private meetings in Chicago, as the Blago scandal keeps going. It had been an advantage to be in Chicago, but not with this circus.
He also has a 7:45 AM Pacific press conference, at which he is set to name Mary Schapiro, CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as SEC chair, Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Daniel Tarullo, one of his economic policy advisors, to the Federal Reserve Board.
These picks are key with the Wall Street scandals.
After private consideration, Obama is looking at an $850 billion economic stimlus plan.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday celebrated the historic first win of a redistricting reform initiative, with allies seen in this NWN video of a year ago at the campaign kick-off.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has private talks in the Capitol. At 2:30, he celebrates the season by lighting the Menorah on the West Steps of the Capitol.
Not surprisingly, the latest try to solve the budget crisis failed last night in the state Assembly and Senate, which did not meet.
Schwarzenegger’s big infrastrcture plan ground to a halt yesday as a state board decided the state no longer has the cash to proceed. And with the state’s chronic fiscal crisis going ever onward — thanks largely to GOP intransigence on any taxes at all — California’s Democratic legislative leaders will tried yesterday and last night to pass a partial budget solution that essentially flips existing gas taxes for other new taxes, in a play to make it revenue neutral, thereby side-stepping the two-thirds vote. How so? The gas taxes have to go to transportation programs. The dollars from other sources — an increased sales tax, and a new oil severance tax and income tax surcharge — can go to the general fund. However, there’s a trick. The slashing of the gas tax would be more than made up by a new 39 cent a gallon “fee.” Is it all legal? Perhaps. Will Schwarzenegger go for the plan? Not yet.
What’s missing? Legal certainty that the gas tax/fee flip which amounts to an increase for voters, works. And economic stimlus. They’ll try again today.
** CALIFORNIA CRACKING. From my latest column.
** 12 KEY THINGS ABOUT THE MUMBAI CRISIS. From my December 5th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW POWER TROIKA FACES CRISES OLD AND NEW. From my December 3rd column.
** HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MR. PRESIDENT-ELECT! While Barack Obama promised “a new and brighter day yet to come” in his Thanksgiving address, an old and darker day yet to leave reminds that events — and perhaps political fate itself — can turn on a dime in presidential politics. …
For a political operation that prefers to focus on its preferences, it’s a sharp reminder to Team Obama that the presidency can be every bit as reactive as it is proactive. … From my November 28th Huffington Post column.
** 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, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading at $38 per barrel. This is below the four-year low of $39.80 per barrel reached yesterday. OPEC’s try to bolster the price with a big production cut isn’t working so far.
The drop of over $109 per barrel since the record high over the summer comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And the Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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