People in western Massachusetts are trying to clean up after yesterday’s highly unusual tornado strikes.
** QUICK HITS. After yesterday choosing to put off Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s get-out-of-Libya legislation, House Speaker John Boehner today put together a bill ripping the Obama Administration for not getting congressional authorization for the Libyan intervention. But operationally, unlike Kucinich’s quick withdrawal move, it would give the Obama Administration two weeks to justify the intervention. Meanwhile, Boehner’s fellow Republican, 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, is joining forces with Senator John Kerry for a Senate bill backing the mission. … A former aide to Governor Gray Davis was killed in action over the weekend in Afghanistan. Army Captain Joseph Schultz was a Special Forces officer there. He joined the Army in 2003 during the post-9/11 period, went through Officers Candidate School and Airborne School and ultimately became a Green Beret, serving in the Iraq War as well. Schultz was killed on Saturday by an improvised explosive device in the eastern central part of Afghanistan.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN’S NEW PROBLEM.
** CALIFORNIA 2011: CONTROLLER CHIANG PROMISES NO PAY TO LEGISLATORS ABSENT A BALANCED BUDGET AND JERRY BROWN MENTIONS THE “BLUE PENCIL.” State Controller John Chiang added to the pressure on California’s dysfunctional state Legislature to complete its work on the state budget by declaring this morning that he will permanently withhold salary and per diem payments from legislators beginning on June 16th if they haven’t produced a balanced budget by then.
Some legislators have speculated that the partial budget they adopted in March would suffice to satisfy the terms of last year’s Prop 25, which lowered the vote needed to pass a budget to a simple majority and called a halt to salary and all other forms of payment and reimbursement for legislators for every day past the constitutional deadline of June 15th that a completed budget is not presented to the governor.
Chiang, who issues the payments, put the kibosh on that distressingly widespread school of thought.
“Presenting the Governor with a balanced budget by the Constitutional deadline is the most important, if not most difficult, job of the California Legislature,” Chiang said in his statement. “In passing Proposition 25 last November, voters clearly stated they expect their representatives to make the difficult decisions needed to resolve any budget shortfalls by the mandatory deadline, or be penalized. I will enforce the voters’ demand.”
Here’s the legal analysis supporting his position.
For his part, at the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual host breakfast this morning, Governor Jerry Brown noted that the Assembly passed legislation restoring some of his budget cuts adopted in March. And said that he will have his use “blue pencil,” i.e., exercise the line item veto power, if the move persists.
** NEW POLL: EVEN SPLIT ON MAJOR REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH. A new Gallup Poll shows a virtually even split on the question of confiscatory taxation to redistribute wealth.
47% say they believe the government should “redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.” And 49% say they do not.
Among Democrats, it’s 71-26 in favor. Among Republicans it’s 28-69. And among independents it’s 43-53.
The notion finds disfavor among men, 42-52, but favor among women, 52-44. It’s a losing proposition among whites, 41-56, but a big winner among non-whites, 64-33.
But by a large majority, 57% to 35%, most believe that money and wealth should be more evenly distributed throughout the population.
Americans break into two roughly evenly matched camps on the question of whether the government should enact heavy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth in the U.S. Forty-seven percent believe the government should redistribute wealth in this way, while 49% disagree, similar to views Gallup found four years ago. …
Republicans and Democrats have sharply different reactions to the government’s taking such an active role in equalizing economic outcomes. Seven in 10 Democrats believe the government should levy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth, while an equal proportion of Republicans believe it should not. The slight majority of independents oppose this policy.
The question also provokes different reactions from men compared with women, whites vs. nonwhites, and upper-income vs. lower-income Americans. Consistent with their more Democratic political orientation, women, nonwhites, and lower-income adults are all more supportive than their counterparts of government redistribution of wealth via taxes. …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9:30 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, surprising no one, officially announced his candidacy this morning for the Republican presidential nomination.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Press Secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with the House Democratic Caucus in the East Room.
At 4:20 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the Pritzker Architecture Prize Event in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium.
Obama’s meeting yesterday with virtually the entire House Republican caucus was an attempt to bridge the gap over the current federal budget impasse. Obama wants the federal debt ceiling raised, without which most all experts agree a financial catastrophe could occur. Conservative House Republicans demand big budget cuts, far bigger than the pittance that some of the left screamed about earlier this year. Which turned out to be virtually nothing.
Today he meets with House Democrats, who naturally want very small budget cuts, if any.
So they have that to talk about.
Obama also has the growing anti-war mood in Congress to discuss.
With the unlikely figure of Congressman Dennis Kucinich seemingly close to a symbolic victory over his very distant 2008 rival now residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, House Republican leaders yesterday postponed a vote on his bill to pull US forces out of the Libyan War. Anti-war sentiment in Congress is rising, as we saw with last week’s near miss on an Afghan War timetable.
Of course, it’s not clear that the present backseat US role in Libya comes under the War Powers Act. In an analogous situation in the Balkans, the Clinton Administration sure didn’t think so.
Meanwhile, the unusual spate of tornadoes came to the East Coast yesterday with a tornado watch issued for New York, Philadelphia and Boston after one of Massachusetts’s largest cities was hit with plenty of damage and at least four fatalities.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the climate is changing.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
The streak of extreme weather events consistent with climate change continues. Massachusetts, yes, Massachusetts, was hit hard late yesterday by tornadoes. At least four people were killed and many injured, with much property damage.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
At 8:30 AM, Brown addresses the 86th Annual Sacramento Host Breakfast at the Sacramento Convention Center. This event is sponsored every year by the chamber of commerce.
At 10 AM, Brown takes part in a California National Guard Brevetting Ceremony at Mather Air Field with his new National Guard commander, Brigadier General David Baldwin.
Baldwin, until a few months ago a colonel serving in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division, will be given a brevet promotion by Brown to major general.
Brown is working on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
He got some fairly good news in the form of the latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll, which came off embargo last night.
The governor has a 46% job approval rating with likely voters (42% with all Californians), with 28% disapproving, and a whopping 26% unsure. The decidedly underexposed Brown won his landslide election last November over billionaire Meg Whitman with 54% of the vote.
By way of comparison, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last job approval rating in the December PPIC poll release was 32%, a decided improvement over where he was last summer.
The new PPIC poll shows what others polls have shown. Voters back Brown’s overall approach of budget cuts and tax extensions, as well as his call for a vote on the matter. Which Republicans have blocked for months.
But they don’t especially like the individual taxes in question, when the question is posed that way.
And while they say they want big budget cuts, much of which they’ve already gotten from Brown, they don’t want to cut where the money mostly goes.
Big majorities oppose cuts to K-12 education, higher education, and health and human services. And a big majority favors cuts to corrections and prisons.
** HARSH REALITIES IMPINGE ON OBAMA’S EMERGING DOCTRINE. In the wake of the take-down of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama used last week’s glittering European tour to further lay out and demonstrate his emerging multilateral geopolitical doctrine. It’s an approach with promise, even as threatening crises continue to press in on his presidency. But as soon as he returned to the U.S., Obama was caught up short by events.
Obama is encountering major new setbacks in Afghanistan, America’s biggest unilateral operation despite its NATO trappings. He’s had to turn away from the general who was reportedly his choice to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a skeptic on the Afghan War, and appoint instead a general he just named to another post. And even though oil prices have dropped sharply since bin Laden’s death, gasoline prices have made only a slight downward move, continuing the threat to the economy, and his re-election. …
From my May 31st essay.
** JERRY BROWN RETURNS (AGAIN!) ONLY TO DROP BACK INTO STEALTH MODE. Governor Jerry Brown is back. Again. For the third time. And not a moment too soon, as California needs to solve its chronic budget crisis and, after a Supreme Court ruling, deal with its chronic prison crisis. But will Brown try, once again, to do it all behind the scenes? … From my May 25th feature.
** NCIS: AMERICA’S FAVORITE SHOW AND WHAT IT TELLS US. … From my May 18th essay.
** IN THE SHADOW OF BIN LADEN: THE CALIFORNIA CONNECTION. … From my May 11th feature.
** IN THE SHADOW OF BIN LADEN: REPUBLICANS AND THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE. … From my May 7th essay.
** CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS: AN UNCERTAIN TRUMPET. … From my May 2nd feature.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** 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.
X-Men: First Class, which opened in the UK and other countries yesterday, opens around North America on Friday.
** 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 three wars in the region, and the Arab uprising underway, 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 $100 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $66 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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