Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, was today named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted the 26-year old Zuckerberg into the California Hall of Fame last night in Sacramento.
** QUICK HITS. The California Supreme Court today denied a request to intervene against the initiative by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other reformers to create an open primary. The initiative, Proposition 14, passed in June on a 54% to 46% vote after losing earlier during Schwarzenegger’s governorship. While the case remains at the appellate court level, this should help clear the way for open primary elections beginning in 2012. Meanwhile, a special election to fill a vacant state senate seat early next year will take place under open primary rules. … Governor-elect Jerry Brown’s sister, former California Treasurer Kathleen Brown, is moving from Los Angeles to Chicago to head up investment banking for Goldman Sachs in the Midwest region. She has been in charge of public finance for the Western states. Clearly continuing in that role, with her brother returning to California’s governorship, would have created the appearance of a conflict of interest with regard to the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Brown’s husband, former CBS News president Van Gordon Sauter, has deep roots in Chicago. … The Sacramento Bee, which is much interested in where Jerry Brown is going to live in Sacramento, with reporters asking me if I know, reported that he was looking at a few apartments in the downtown Sacramento area today. He has previously looked at apartments in, yes, the downtown Sacramento area. My view is that we will know soon enough which apartment he will rent in the downton Sacramento area.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … 2010: A JERRY BROWN ODYSSEY.
** BOXER AND FEINSTEIN JOIN OVERWHELMING SENATE MAJORITY IN PASSAGE OF THE OBAMA COMPROMISE ON TAX CUTS AND ECONOMIC STIMULUS. The U.S. Senate today passed President Barack Obama’s $858 billion tax cuts and economic stimulus compromise with Senate Republican leaders on a vote of 81 to 19.
Both Barbara Boxer, one of the most liberal senators, who was re-elected last month, and her California colleague Dianne Feinstein voted in favor.
Boxer had quite a bit to say about her vote:
“The framework of the bill,” she explained in her statement, “was sent to us by President Obama. There were negotiations with our Republican colleagues and then one very important addition was made to the bill because many of us here in the Senate wanted that, and I’m grateful for that addition.
“It was the 1603 program which is critical to our clean energy businesses and will result in tens of thousands of jobs because it allows companies that are moving forward with solar, wind and geothermal clean energy projects to essentially get a tax credit up front. It’s essential because there are a lot of plans on the drawing boards and if this hadn’t been renewed, we would have lost those plans and we would have lost those jobs.
“I wanted to lay out some of what compelled me to vote ‘yes’ to move that bill forward. The fact is this bill will be a help to the middle class.
“Different parties bring different passions to the table, and those passions are held deeply. I think the passion that the Democrats brought to the table was that first and foremost, the people who have been desperately hurt by this slow economic recovery aren’t left in the lurch for the next year. We brought that passion that we had to make sure that middle-class families who lost their jobs don’t lose everything else — their home, the ability to send their kids to school, and that they have this bridge of unemployment insurance.
“The other passion was to make sure that the middle class didn’t get a tax increase. We were passionate on the point and wanted tax credits for business that resulted in jobs.
“Those were the passions we brought to the table. I think it’s fair to say the passions the Republicans brought to the table were to help make sure that the very wealthiest got taken care of in any deal.
“Why do I say that? It’s a fact in evidence.
“Their non-negotiable terms included extension of the tax cuts to billionaires and millionaires. That was it. Just as we were passionate about helping the middle class, they were passionate on this point.
“This tax bill that I voted to move forward will help our working families. There’s a two percent cut in payroll taxes. There is the extension of the child tax credit from the Recovery Act, the earned-income tax credit, the childcare tax credit, education relief, refundable tax credits for college, the 1603 (renewable energy) provision, job-creating incentives, bonus depreciation and small business capital gains exclusion.
“I think moving ahead with this was very, very important. Most economic forecasters estimate the legislation will increase GDP growth and I think that is critical at this time.”
** NEW POLL: MIXED THOUGH MOSTLY POSITIVE REVIEWS FOR OBAMA ON TAX AND ECONOMY COMPROMISE. President Barack Obama’s compromise deal with some Republican leaders on tax policy and economic stimulus yields mixed if mostly positive reviews in the new Gallup Poll.
The data doesn’t support the notion of a Democratic primary challenge to Obama.
The largest segment of Americans, 38%, believe he struck the right balance, while, by 26% to 21%, slightly more say he did not compromise enough than say he compromised too much. Another 15% are unsure.
These findings are based on a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Dec. 10-12.
Some of the strongest congressional opposition to the tax deal has come from the Democratic caucus, stirring media speculation about whether Obama could face a challenge from the left in 2012. About a third of rank-and-file Democrats believe Obama compromised too much, but the majority (55%) say he either did not compromise enough or was about right.
Along the same lines, most Democrats (78%) say either that their respect for Obama has grown as a result of his work on the tax agreement or that their opinion of him has not changed. Fewer than one in five — 17% — say they respect him less.
The views of Democrats on this issue mirror those of the American public. …
The poll was conducted amid heated political debate in Washington over the merits of the compromise, and prior to any votes being cast. The rancorous tone from Congress during this period may not have sat well with Americans, and this is possibly seen in the sharp drop in Congress’ approval rating in December to a record-low 13%. Obama’s approval rating is largely unchanged. …
Republicans are a bit less pessimistic in their interpretation of the tax negotiations than independents and Democrats. This may reflect the fact that, by 57% to 48%, Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to support congressional passage of the plan, and may therefore be more tolerant of the process that produced it.
More generally, 49% of Americans think Congress should pass the compromise plan, 32% think Congress should not pass it, and 18% are unsure.
Americans have told Gallup they value compromise over principled conflict. Now that President Obama and Republican leaders have, indeed, compromised over the extension of the Bush tax cuts, Americans seem to be saying “the compromise is fine, but next time, do it more gracefully.”
With the Senate about to act, President Barack Obama this morning called for prompt passage of the compromise tax and economic stimulus deal.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington today.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama delivered a statement to the press at the Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg.
Then at 6:30 AM Pacific, he began a working meeting with business leaders at Blair House.
At 1:05 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden chairs a United Nations Security Council High-Level Meeting on Iraq at the United Nations.
Obama is spending most of his effort pushing for his big compromise deal on extension of the Bush/Cheney era tax cuts, extension of unemployment benefits, new benefits for the middle class, incentives for renewable energy, and ratification of the lynchpin U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty.
The tax and economic portions sailed through an anti-filibuster vote Monday in the Senate, on a vote of 85 to 11.
Republican presidential co-frontrunner Mitt Romney, as expected, came out against the deal yesterday.
The Senate is likely to pass the tax and economic stimulus bill today.
The Senate will then take up the nuclear arms treaty with Russia on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada says the votes are now there for ratification.
But Senate Minority Leader Jon Kyl of Arizona, who alternates between extreme opposition and claiming he has an open mind, says he will block the bill because there is not enough time to consider it between now and the end of the year.
Obama is putting the finishing touches on the year-end review of AfPak strategy and will present it on Thursday.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange remains in jail in London.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Korean peninsula, as well as the Wikileaks crisis.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor-elect Jerry Brown is in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento today.
Yesterday he held his second “civic dialogue” event on California’s chronic budget crisis, this one focusing on education, in the Grand Ballroom of Ackerman Union at UCLA.
Brown made it clear that his first budget, which is due at the printer today prior to its unveiling on January 10th, will be very austere, with shocking cuts.
Then it wlll be up to the people, who polls show have some wildly uninformed views about the budget, to contemplate the situation.
Last night in Sacramento, Brown accepted the award of his late father’s induction into the California Hall of Fame from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who referred to Governor Pat as the “builder of modern California.”
For his part, the once and future governor said that the term that most brought to mind his father is “go-getter,” which Brown implicitly applied to Schwarzenegger, a quintessential go-getter, as well as the other Hall of Fame inductees.
Brown then told an amusing anecdote about the time he took his father to a monastery, where the former governor was thoroughly bored by the silence and meditation.
Having gone on vacation with Pat Brown, I can only imagine.
Jerry Brown, incidentally, will continue the California Hall of Fame program during his next governorship.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles and the Inland Empire today.
At 10 AM, Schwarzenegger will join the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and local San Bernardino County officials to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Adelanto Detention Center Expansion Project, the first jail construction project as a result of AB 900, a prison reform program enacted in 2007.
… THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. … From my March 2nd column.
Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate in fall 2008, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. You can listen to my video webchat last year with Schwarzenegger here. It covers most of the major issues and also reveals his cameo in the latest Terminator movie.
** JERRY BROWN ON CRISES PAST AND PRESENT. As Jerry Brown prepares to become California’s oldest governor more than three decades after he became its youngest in the modern era, keeping his own counsel, many search for clues to his thinking. As usual, the past is prologue, especially when it comes to thoughts of the future for this determinedly futurist politician.
Brown, as you know, won a landslide 54% to 41% victory in securing his third term as governor of America’s largest state, which is in turn the world’s eighth largest economy, equal to New York and Texas combined. In crushing billionaire Meg Whitman’s much vaunted machine, the biggest-spending non-presidential campaign in American history, by 1.3 million votes, Brown won more votes than any gubernatorial candidate in history. But his history in presidential politics has been decidedly more mixed.
Ironically, it may be the least successful of his three runs for the White House that turned out to be the most interesting. And the most relevant for what is to come in his historic third term as California’s governor, especially given his Wednesday summit in Sacramento laying out the stark reality of the state’s chronic budget crisis. Brown didn’t paper over deep problems in his most famous speech as a presidential candidate, a Francis Ford Coppola-produced address in 1980 that is eerily relevant today. And he’s not papering them over now. … From my December 10th essay.
** THE BEATLES’ RUBBER SOUL: 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS. Music changed, thanks to an album released 45 years ago. Now it may be changed back. … From my December 4th essay.
** OBAMA, ARNOLD, JERRY, AND THE BIG GREEN DREAM. … From my November 30th feature.
** IF IT’S NOT ONE THING, IT’S ANOTHER: OBAMA’S BURGEONING GEOPOLITICAL CRISES. … From my November 26th column.
** JERRY BROWN AND THE CALIFORNIA EXCEPTION. … From my November 22nd feature.
** OBAMA’S BIG MISTAKE. .… From my November 2nd 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, 2009 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 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, 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.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $88 per barrel.
This is up about $54 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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