President Barack Obama signed the massive economic recovery act today in Denver, Colorado.
** QUICK HITS. Still no action on the chronic California budget crisis. The compromise package of program cuts, tax hikes, and budget reforms and various inducements remains one Republican vote in the state Senate shy. Abel Maldonado and Dave Cox are in play to be that decisive vote. … California looks set to get $80 billion from the Obama economic recovery package. But with the state budget still stalled, the state issued shutdown orders today on infrastructure projects all around California. … General Motors this afternoon announced that it needs $30 billion more from the federal government or it’s going out of business. … The Obama Administration is sending more troops to Afghanistan. But it won’t complete its strategic review until early spring. …
** OBAMA STATEMENT ON AFGHAN SURGE. There is no more solemn duty as President than the decision to deploy our armed forces into harm’s way. I do it today mindful that the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistani border.
To meet urgent security needs, I approved a request from Secretary Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring and an Army Stryker Brigade and the enabling forces necessary to support them later this summer. This increase has been requested by General McKiernan and supported by Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs and the Commander of Central Command. General McKiernan’s request for these troops is months old, and the fact that we are going to responsibly drawdown our forces in Iraq allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan.
This reinforcement will contribute to the security of the Afghan people and to stability in Afghanistan. I recognize the extraordinary strain that this deployment places on our troops and military families. I honor their service, and will give them the support they need.
This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires. That is why I ordered a review of our policy upon taking office, so we have a comprehensive strategy and the necessary resources to meet clear and achievable objectives in Afghanistan and the region. This troop increase does not pre-determine the outcome of that strategic review. Instead, it will further enable our team to put together a comprehensive strategy that will employ all elements of our national power to fulfill achievable goals in Afghanistan. As we develop our new strategic goals, we will do so in concert with our friends and allies as together we seek the resources necessary to succeed.
** OBAMA OKAYS AFGHAN SURGE. As expected, President Barack Obama has okayed a surge of troops in troubled Afghanistan. From the AP: Defense and congressional officials say President Barack Obama has approved an increase in U.S. forces for the flagging war in Afghanistan. The Obama administration is expected to announce on Tuesday or Wednesday that it will send one additional Army brigade and an unknown number of Marines to Afghanistan this spring. One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the total is about 17,000 troops.
That would be the first installment on a larger influx of U.S. forces that have been widely expected this year. It would get a few thousand troops in place in time for the increase in fighting that usually comes with warmer weather and ahead of national elections this summer.
What that story does not say is that the Afghan surge will coincide with an Iraq drawdown. Many if not most of the troops heading to Afghanistan were orginally ticketed for Iraq.
** WHITMAN: ROMNEY AND MCCAIN PROMPTED ME TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. From GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman’s “vision” speech entitled “A New California,” delivered today at the Tech Museum in San Jose: Now, my interest in running for governor was sparked most by two people – Mitt Romney and John McCain. Mitt was my boss at Bain & Company in the early 1980s. He’s a mentor and a friend and I was thrilled when he asked me to help him run for President.
After Mitt left the race, Senator McCain approached me to help with his campaign. I knew Senator McCain from years of fighting alongside him to stop Internet taxes.
I was deeply moved by my experiences with Mitt and John. Both men love America. And regardless of your politics, you have to admire their sacrifices, patriotism and love of country. Mitt and John inspired me to think beyond my business career. Watching them these past few years, I began to actively consider a new career in public service, and how I might contribute to California and its future.
** RECOVERY.GOV GOES LIVE. The Obama Administration just launched recovery.gov, a new web site which will supposedly delineate where the $787 billion in economic recovery funds is going and give the public input on how specific projects are going.
It starts out with an overall breakdown of the plan by general spending category. It makes a bold promise: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be carried out with full transparency and accountability — and Recovery.gov is the centerpiece of that effort. In a short video, President Obama describes the site and talks about how you’ll be able to track the Recovery Act’s progress every step of the way.
** CALIFORNIA 2010. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman gives what’s billed as a major “vision” address today at the Tech Museum in San Jose. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, a Democratic hopeful, makes a stop on his listening tour at Cal State Northridge in LA. And San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, another Democratic hopeful, has another town hall meeting. This one is tonight in Santa Cruz.
I went to one of Newsom’s town halls last week, incidentally, and filmed the event. I’ll have more to say about it later.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama does an interview with Canadian television – his first foreign trip as president will be to Canada on Thursday – and heads to Denver, Colorado to sign the big economic recovery bill.
At 11:15 AM Pacific he tours the solar panel installation at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Then at 11:40 AM Pacific he signs the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and makes remarks. The event will be roadblocked on all cable news nets.
The $787 billion bill made its way swiftly through the House and Senate, making Obama’s deadline of having it on his desk by Presidents Day. While it’s arguably the largest such bill ever passed, some economists worry that it may actually be too small.
Obama goes to Phoenix, Arizona tomorrow to unveil his fix for the housing crisis.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned North Korea against a planned long-range missile test.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Tokyo on her Asian tour of China, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia. She urged North Korea not to pursue any more long-range missile tests.
North Korea, which has throttled back on its nuclear weapons program, has issued a series of bizarre threats to South Korea over the last month and is continuing its missile testing program, with a big launch supposedly coming up. The North Koreans are major purveyors of missile technology around the world. It’s practically the Hermit State’s only major export item.
Dan Aykroyd returned to Saturday Night Live to play House Minority Leader John Boehner in an anti-Obama strategy session.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds private talks in and around the Capitol on California’s chronic budget crisis. He is trying, along with legislative leaders, to lock down a budget deal. If the Legislature doesn’t act today, Schwarzenegger is going to start laying off state workers and shut down $3.8 billion in infrastructure projects.
They are one Republican vote shy in the Senate. Two are on board but a third is needed as the Democrats are one down after the election of Mark Ridley Thomas last November to the LA County Board of Supervisors. It’s a staunchly Democratic seat, but the special election is still a ways off. Central Coast Senator Abel Maldonado is dealing to become that needed third Republican vote.
What does he want? All kinds of reform-sounding stuff. What will he settle for? That’s the question.
He’s been a Schwarzenegger ally in the past, reaching a parting of the ways when the governor didn’t campaign for him in a losing 2006 Republican primary campaign for state controller.
Schwarzenegger emerges again from his cone of silence this morning when he and First Lady Maria Shriver honor airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger, whose quick thinking and steady nerve enabled him to pilot US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York City’s Hudson River on January 15, 2009. Sullenberger is a San Francisco Bay Area resident.
** AFGHANISTAN: RUSSIA TO THE RESCUE. In a very positive sign for the US effort in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that transit of US and NATO non-military supplies through Russia to troops in Afghanistan will begin within days.
Ironically, this comes on the 20th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Kabul. And the man who commanded those Soviet forces, retired Lieutenant General Boris Gromov, warned the US today that a military surge in Afghanistan will not solve its problems there.
With our putative ally Pakistan increasingly unstable and jihadists carrying out many successful attacks on supply lines and convoys there — they seem to blow up the route over the legendary Khyber Pass every other week — alternative means of supply are increasingly necessary to sustain the US and NATO effort in Afghanistan.
That means, one way or another, Moscow, which can provide transit through its own territory and guarantee transit through Central Asian nations formerly part of the Soviet Union. There’s been a major dance underway for weeks on this, unreported by the conventional media, naturally. …
** “POST-PARTISANSHIP”: HOW IT WORKS, HOW IT DOESN’T. Back in 2007, when he was still an underdog candidate for president jousting with John Edwards (remember him?), Barack Obama said that he liked the “post-partisan” posturings of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the idea that people should set aside their partisan differences to solve big issues. Now, as president, he’s adopted much the same tack, to the dismay of hyper-partisans of all stripes.
They ought to be dismayed, because it works. To a point.
But not in a linear sense.
Let’s take a look at how it went in California, and how it may go in Washington. … From my February 12th column.
** OH, ABOUT THAT “END” OF THE OBAMA HONEYMOON … From my February 9th column.
** SMOOTH SAILING FOR PANETTA. … From my February 6th Huffington Post column.
** OBAMA IN THE TANK. … From my January 29th column.
** OBAMA AND THE CALIFORNIA WAY ON CLIMATE. … 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 in the $35 to $36 per barrel range.
The drop of $112 per barrel since the record high over the summer comes on acknowledgment that the weak US and global economy will cut future demand and on the easing of previous geopolitical tensions in the Middle East surrounding a supposed attack on Iran.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum.