President Barack Obama met this morning at the White House with top business leaders to discuss his economic revival program.
** OBAMA ECONOMIC REVIVAL PROGRAM PASSES HOUSE IN PARTY-LINE VOTE. President Barack Obama got a major win late today when the House of Representatives passed his $825 billion economic revival program, 244 to 188. No Republican voted for it. Republicans tried earlier today to substitute a tax cuts-only program, which, with only 170 votes, lost a lot of Republicans.
Nevertheless, Obama, who spent two hours today over at the Pentagon in a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff – I’ll have a column on that – is having Democratic and Republican legislative leaders over this evening for drinks.
His economic program goes on to the Senate, where it is expected to receive some Republican support.
** CALIFORNIA’S SOLAR POWER USAGE PICKED UP LAST YEAR. While he’s been consumed of late with the state’s chronic budget crisis, Schwarzenegger got some good news on another front. With his Million Solar Roofs initiative starting to kick in, California’s installation of solar electricity doubled in 2008 from the year earlier, according to the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
** SCHWARZENEGGER GENIALLY DELIVERS A DOUR MESSAGE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made his annual appearance today at the January luncheon of the Sacramento Press Club. Despite repeated questions, he gave no particular details about the ongoing negotiations on California’s chronic budget crisis. He did say that the state’s climate change program, now on the verge of getting the greenlight from the new Obama Administration, will be fully implemented.
As for legal challenges to his proposed furloughs of state workers, he said that if they succeed, which he doubts, he will have to actually lay off state workers.
He also said that the legal motion today by former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown to replace the prison receiver and drop the $8 billion construction program he’s ordered is necessary. But that, in any event, that money will never be spent.
** BROWN AND SCHWARZENEGGER ADMINISTRATION SUE TO END PRISON RECEIVERSHIP AND $8 BILLION CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM. Former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown appeared this morning at a Capitol press conference with state finance director Mike Genest and state corrections chief Matthew Cate to announce the filing of a motion in federal court to replace the current receiver overseeing the state’s long troubled prison system and terminate the receiver’s plan to require the state to spend $8 billion on construction to meet a constitutional standard of health care. The current receiver’s plans are dangerous to the state’s already overburdened finances.
“The court should terminate this unaccountable prison receivership and its $8 billion construction plan, restoring a dose of fiscal reality to the provision of inmate medical care in California,” said Brown. “The federal receivership has turned into its own autonomous government operating outside the normal checks and balances of state and federal law.”
** OBAMA AND THE CALIFORNIA WAY ON CLIMATE. President Barack Obama is choosing the California way of dealing with climate change. What this means is that major action to curtail greenhouse gases can happen faster, and without dealing with a traditional lobby-dominated Congress, with California and other states leading the way and doing the work.
Here’s how. … From my new column.
New US Mideast envoy George Mitchell kicked off his tour of the region yesterday in Egypt.
** OBAMA TODAY. A big day for President Barack Obam. He meets this morning with business leaders in the White House on the economic crisis, then makes some public remarks.
In the afternoon, he and Vice President Joe Biden go out to the Pentagon for their first meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The’ll be going over the drawdown of US combat troops from Iraq and what looks like a min-surge of US troops to Afghanistan.
And tonight, the House of Representatives votes on Obama’s economic revival program. Some Republicans have seized on some pork that has inevitably made its way into the package. How many Republican votes will Obama get in the House? Probably not many. Of course, that’s not a problem on this issue.
The truth is, Obama doesn’t need any House Republican votes. And he only needs a couple of Senate Republican votes if the minority party decides to try a filibuster.
But it serves Obama’s long-term interests to try to be bipartisan. Or at least to appear to try to be bipartisan.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his annual appearance today at the January luncheon of the Sacramento Press Club. He also holds private talks in and around the Capitol, mostly focused on California’s chronic budget crisis.
Schwarzenegger will get lots of questions about the budget crisis at the Press Club luncheon, naturally, but may not have many specifics about the ongoing negotiations.
Some Republican legislators, who have essentially blockaded the budget for months by publicly refusing to consider any tax hikes, seem to be getting closer to going for a budget that includes tax hikes as well as program cuts and a spending cap.
Naturally, much of California’s far right – which is doing a remarkable job of driving the state’s Republican Party deeper into permanent minority status – is going bonkers over this.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is running some ads in a few markets making the argument that it’s all a spending problem, and not a revenue problem, notwithstanding the fact that big cuts have already been agreed to.
** “MAC IS BACK?” HEY, IT NEVER LEFT. MACINTOSH TURNS 25. Whenever John McCain and his backers would start up one of their chants in the campaign that “Mac is back,” I’d say, what the heck are they talking about? It’s never left.
So here we are, 25 years to the day since Apple launched the Macintosh computer. And the Mac, unlike my old friend John McCain, is going as strong as ever, maybe even stronger. It hasn’t taken over the world, as Steve Jobs hoped. But it’s changed the face of computing in many ways, and is doing a lot better than any other computer in this global recession.
I’m a Mac guy since the ’80s. I run what we laughingly call my operation, a one-person operation, that is, as a Mac shop. Two Apple laptops on a wireless network, with a six-year old iBook as an emergency back-up.
But it’s deeper than that. I was there in Silicon Valley 25 years ago when the Macintosh was launched by Steve Jobs.
I was working with Senator Gary Hart then, and had gotten to know his backer, Apple’s marketing and PR guru Regis McKenna (I later worked with him as assistant to the chairman at his firm). Regis, who came up with the Apple logo, told me that I really didn’t want to miss the 1984 Apple shareholders’ meeting. As usual, he was right. …
** OBAMA AND HIS COMMANDERS. … From my Friday column.
** 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 Huffington Post column.
** ANOTHER DAY: 24 AND THE AGE OF OBAMA. … From my January 13th column.
** CIA: THE PANETTA PICK AND THE FEINSTEIN FACTOR. … From my January 12th column.
** CIA: PARSING THE PANETTA PICK. … From my January 6th column.
** OBAMA: VACATION’S END. … From my January 2nd Huffington Post column.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin kicks off the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with a keynote address.
** 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial.
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.
** 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 in the range of $41 to $42 per barrel.
The drop of $106 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 previous 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.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.