President Barack Obama, while at the Department of Energy today to push for tougher efficiency standards, made a pitch for his economic revival program now under adjustment in the Senate.
** PANETTA CRUISES, SOLIS DOESN’T. CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta seemed to cruise through his confirmation hearing this afternoon held by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former White House chif of staff, federal budget director, and California congressman declared waterboarding to be torture, but did not say that he would end all renditions of terrorism suspects to foreign countries and or release or otherwise change the legal status of a small group of prisoners.
I’ll have a column tomorrow on Panetta.
LA Congresswoman Hilda Solis is in more of a state of a limbo, her Senate confirmation to be secretary of labor hearing postponed on news that her husband just paid some old tax liens against his auto repair business. Her hearing had been held up through a Republican hold on her nomination, invoked because she has been very involved with a pro-labor advocacy group.
** JOBLESS CLAIMS HIT 26-YEAR HIGH. US jobless claims have surged to the highest level since October 1982, in a fresh sign of economic weakness. More bad retail news is coming out, as well.
Essentially, only Walmart and Amazon.com are doing well in this retail environment.
** CALIFORNIA’S CHRONIC BUDGET CRISIS: VOTE NEXT WEEK? Word is coming out from state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that progress is being made in secret “Big 5″ negotiations between Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders and that the state’s budget will likely be voted on next week.
Not a moment too soon …
** NEW GALLUP POLL: OBAMA JOB APPROVAL HOLDING AT SKY-HIGH 65%. Today’s Gallup Poll shows President Barack Obama holding steady with a 65% job approval rating. Only 20% disapprove. In contrast, only 16% are satisfied with the current state of the nation, with 81% dissatisfied.
Consumer confidence is at 3%, within the margin of error of the poll, with 78% saying they lack confidence.
Fox News pundit Glenn Beck says that President Barack Obama is implementing a “Communist” regime. His, ah, evidence? Obama signing the SCHIP children’s health insurance bill, vetoed last year by President George W. Bush, and capping executive compensation at newly bailed out Wall Street firms at $500,000 per year.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama works today on the economic revival program as it moves to the Senate following an easy win in the House, as well as plans for increased regulation of the nation’s financial sector, epicenter of the new global economic crisis.
He announced a new White House office for faith-base initiatives early this morning. At noon, he heads to the Department of Energy to call for tougher efficiency standards.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet this afternoon in the Oval Office with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This evening, Obama speaks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. The short flight will be his first trip on Air Force One as president.
President Barack Obama announces a renewed White House office for faith-based initiatives. The Bush White House version closed amidst ideological infighting.
Obama is putting more pressure on for passage of the economic revival program. This morning he authored an op-piece in the Washington Post on the matter.
Next Monday, he will hold a prime time press conference.
Meanwhile, Leon Panetta has his Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing today as CIA Director-designate. Fellow Californian Dianne Feinstein presides.
Also today, LA Congresswoman Hilda Solis gets her Senate confirmation hearing as Obama’s secretary of labor. The very pro-labor Solis, an early Obama backer, was held up by a secret Republican congressional hold on her appointment.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds private talks in and around the Capitol, mostly focused on California’s chronic budget crisis. No public appearances are scheduled.
I’m hearing there may be a budget deal on Friday, which would cover both the shortfall in the current budget occasioned by the global economic crisis, and the next fiscal year as well.
Some Republican legislators, who essentially blockaded the budget for many 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.
Far right blogger Jon Fleischman, a state Republican vice chairman and prominent backer of Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, is pushing a state party convention resolution to campaign against any Republican legislator who votes for any tax increase to ease the state’s $42 billion budget deficit.
And some liberal interest groups are striking out against potential elements of a compromise. All of which may mean that a deal is close. Not that there is any rush, mind you, since the state has merely had to shut down infrastructure projects weeks ago and is now stopping basic payments.
Schwarzenegger said last Wednesday that he expects a budget deal in the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger won a victory Thursday when a superior court judge ruled against public employee unions seeking to overturn Schwarzenegger’s two day a month furlough for state workers. Schwarzenegger’s move saves $1.4 billion per year. He later announced that the furlough plan applies to state elected officials and their employees as well.
** OBAMA IN THE TANK. President Barack Obama went in the tank yesterday. For about two hours.
While most eyes were on the then impending vote in the House on Obama’s economic revival program, the new president ventured out to the Pentagon for his first meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commanders of each of America’s armed services. Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Advisor Jim Jones came along.
They met in “the Tank,” a fabled secret meeting place better than any treehouse, for it’s supposedly impervious to all manner of surveillance. Jones had been there before, of course, as a former member of the Joint Chiefs when he was commandant of the Marine Corps.
But it was the first time for Obama. Let’s pause for a moment of silence for all those mad hatter “Manchurian Candidate” conspiracy theory promoters from the campaign as we think of Barack Hussein Obama in this holy of holies inner sanctum of America’s military establishment. Conducting the meeting at the pinnacle of the pyramid of US military command.
While more than a few gaskets may have popped out there in the far right precincts of the blogosphere and talk radio at the very thought, there might be a few on the left popping as well. … From my January 29th column.
** 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 January 27th column.
** “MAC IS BACK?” HEY, IT NEVER LEFT. MACINTOSH TURNS 25. … From my January 24th column.
** OBAMA AND HIS COMMANDERS. … From my January 23rd 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.
** 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 at $40 to $41 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.
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