Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, ostensibly a top tier Republican presidential candidate, was hit this morning at a San Francisco book-signing with pink confetti by a gay and lesbian rights protester.
** CALIFORNIA 2011: MEANWHILE, OUT IN THE DESERT … While the dust continues to settle, no, wait, it’s not settling. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, whose motto seems to be we shall sell no whine before its time, announced a hold on Governor Jerry Brown’s appointees in apparent retaliation for Brown’s prompt veto of the gimmick-ridden state budget produced by the Democrats in the state Legislature.
Apparently Steinberg has missed the editorials all around the state praising Brown for his move, including the senator’s hometown Sacramento Bee, which is urging state Controller John Chiang not to pay legislators until they produce a better budget. Steinberg and other Democratic legislative leaders may be being advised that their move to pass a budget on the same day on which their pay would otherwise run out under the new Prop 25 provisions would be popular. While that’s undoubtedly what they would like to hear, it’s also undoubtedly wrong.
Incidentally, here’s something my old friend Jerry Brown may not want to hear. You effectively have until the end of the month to get a deal with the supposedly deal-ready Republicans. That is the point at which tax extensions become tax hikes, which is a whole different kettle of fish. Especially for a special election which is not at all properly framed up.
While this was going down, Brown himself was in Southern California, mostly running around the desert near the Arizona border touring new solar power facilities and attending the opening of the biggest such facility in the world on public lands, a one-megawatt solar electric plant outside Blythe, the Blythe Solar Power Project, where he was joined by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Brown also toured First Solar’s Desert Sunlight, Solar Millenium’s Palen Solar Power Project, NextEra’s Genesis facility, Solar Reserve’s Rice Airfield Project, Abengoa’s Mojave Solar Project, and Terragen’s Alta-Oak Creek wind power project (which is also the world’s largest wind project). All together, these projects will provide 6% of California’s peak electric power demand.
Brown received some mixed economic news today. On the one hand, California’s unemployment rate dipped again, to 11.7%. That’s down 0.7% over the past year. But non-farm payroll employment dropped by nearly 30,000.
On the other hand, state revenues for May were again exceeded forecasts.
It’s getting to be time to pivot to the economy, a theme that will be familiar to longtime readers from my Obama pieces last year.
** JERRY BROWN’S BIG BUDGET VETO, AND WHERE IT GOES FROM HERE. The dust is still settling in the wake of Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of the California state budget. That budget, designed by Democratic legislative leaders and their backers, had good things in it, and also some highly questionable elements, i.e., gimmicks, some of which may be replaceable in another iteration.
Can Brown get his better budget, the sensible compromise mostly blocked by Republican intransigence? That question probably becomes moot on June 30th. Why? It’s simple enough. That’s the point at which his proposed tax extensions become tax increases.
Meanwhile, for the first time in California’s recorded history, a governor has vetoed a state budget. …
After months of negotiations, Brown has come up against the same intractable dynamics that bedeviled Arnold Schwarzenegger in his last years as governor. An ultra-government faction that wants to keep expanding government vs. an anti-government faction that wants to contract government. Add in term limits, gerrymandered safe districts for hyper-partisans, ballot box budgeting, and an odd constitution that cuts a tax on a majority vote but takes a two-thirds vote to raise one, and there you go.
The state’s fiscal problems date back to the late ’90s and early noughties, with each faction pushing program expansions and tax cuts based on a dot-com bubble that went bust. …
** NEW POLL: APPROVAL OF NEW CONGRESS NEAR HISTORIC LOWS. The still spanking new Republican Congress is no more popular than the old Democratic one, which means it may be in for a spanking of its own one day.
In fact, it’s just about as unpopular as the California Legislature, and that’s a feat.
A new Gallup Poll indicates that only 17% approve of the job that Congress is doing. That’s down sharply from its 25% approval last month, when there was a burst of euphoria about the effectiveness of government in the immediate wake of the Navy SEAL take-down of Osama bin Laden.
Wait, what did Congress, which had no idea of the mission, have to do with that? Aside from appropriating the money, not much. (And since the budget for the Joint Special Operations Command of which SEAL Team Six is a part is black, i.e., top secret, arguably nothing at all.)
Seventeen percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, down seven percentage points from May’s 24% approval rating, but similar to where it was in March and April. Congress’ approval rating has been below 25% since January 2010. …
The June 9-12 update on Congress was conducted in the midst of the scandal involving U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner. However, the drop since May more likely reflects the end of the rally in support for the government after the death of Osama bin Laden rather than a reaction to the Weiner scandal. The bin Laden news preceded increases in approval ratings for President Obama and Congress as well as an uptick in Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States, but all three measures are back down in June.
The 17% now approving of Congress is just four points higher than the all-time low of 13% Gallup measured in December. Since Gallup began assessing congressional job approval in 1974, there have been only three ratings lower than 17%. All of these — plus two other 17% ratings — have been recorded in the past three years, underscoring the recent negative turn in Americans’ views of Congress. …
Congress’ approval ratings remain historically low, and in recent years, Americans’ dim view of Congress has contributed to the significant turnover in its membership after the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections. Unless conditions in the United States improve and Americans become more charitable in their ratings of Congress, the 2012 elections may result in another shake-up in Congress’ membership, although with divided control of the legislative branch, it is not clear which party would be hurt more. The irony is that even as Congress’ membership has turned over a lot in recent years, its standing as an institution in the eyes of the public has not improved.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9:45 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.
In order to facilitate peace talks, the United Nations is likely to cease joint sanctions against the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 9:45 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.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 10:30 AM Pacific, Obama visits the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
He will visit with US Armed Forces personnel wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, and will award Purple Hearts to those who have not yet received the decoration. The press will not be in attendance.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 1:45 PM Pacific, Obama greets young elected leaders at the White House in the Grand Foyer.
New York Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned yesterday. Gosh, I have nothing left to write about.
In the Libyan War, NATO struck Gaddafi regime targets in Tripoli hard again last night. Libyan rebels are moving forward now on three fronts.
From the mountains into the town of Zawiyah, which is close to Tripoli. From once besieged and nearly lost Misurata on the coast to Zlitan. And from the once seesawing city of Ajdabiyah to the strategic oil port of Brega, which has also changed hands several times.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration response to congressional complaints about the War Powers Act, in which it claims that the US is not engaged in a level of hostilities consonant with actual war, is coming under some predictable fire. But it’s not clear what, if anything, war critics can do about it, though they could try to cut off funding.
But the US is participating as part of NATO, under treaty obligations and with the sanction of the United Nations Security Council.
For all the talk about this being Obama’s war, it’s actually the Brits and French who insisted on it, and the US took a back seat role months ago, which is one reason why Moammar Gaddafi is still in power.
There are no new developments on the arrests of several Pakistanis who aided the CIA in tracking and taking down Osama bin Laden. Pakistani authorities say there were no arrests. Instead, they call them detentions. This is why I so enjoy politics.
Meanwhile, Pakistani officials deny that jihadists operating two IED bomb making factories were tipped off after the CIA shared satellite intel with intelligence and military officials. They chalk up the jihadists’ prompt disappearing act to coincidence.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq and Yemen are ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
Democratic legislative leaders are displeased with Governor Jerry Brown’s historic veto of the California state budget. Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg held a press conference yesterday to vent.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Southern California.
At 11 AM, Brown joins local, state, federal and industry officials in Blythe at the groundbreaking for the Solar Trust of America Renewable (STAR) Energy Station Blythe Project. This is the world’s largest solar power facility to be built on public lands.
Blythe is in the Southern California desert near the Arizona border, part of the vast Sonoran Desert which encompasses parts of Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Joining Brown, who is continuing predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s big commitment to renewable energy, a path which Brown himself pioneered in his first go-round as governor, are U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey, California Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird, Blythe Mayor Joseph DeConinck, Solar Trust CEO Uwe T. Schmidt, and Solar Millennium AG CEO Dr. Christoph Wolff.
Unfortunately, there is no webcast for this event, but there is a media teleconference.
Brown also continues working on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
He will speak with potential judges and other appointees today.
** WEINERGATE’S LASTING IMPACT: THE FIRST BIG SOCIAL MEDIA POLITICAL SEX SCANDAL. New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has his definitive claim to fame. He’s center stage in the first big social media political sex scandal. It seems fitting that his surrealistic meltdown of a press conference came on the same day that Steve Jobs unveiled another path to making our lives more virtual, more convenient, and more risky. … From my June 7th column.
** JERRY BROWN’S NEW PROBLEM. While California’s chronic budget crisis continues, Governor Jerry Brown, once again, feels he is closing in on a solution. But he has a new problem to deal with.
Brown is dealing with an emerging problem with the largely dysfunctional state Legislature that goes beyond the constantly remarked upon difficulty with a do-nothing Republican legislative crew. … From my June 3rd column.
** HARSH REALITIES IMPINGE ON OBAMA’S EMERGING DOCTRINE. … From my June 1st essay.
** JERRY BROWN RETURNS (AGAIN!) ONLY TO DROP BACK INTO STEALTH MODE. … 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.
** 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.
This incredible mirage appeared yesterday evening over a city in eastern China.
** 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.
NASA’s Messenger probe of Mercury reveals new facts about the solar system’s innermost planet.
** 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 $94 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $60 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.