President Barack Obama met with light infantry veterans of the Afghan War today at the 10th Mountain Division’s headquarters in Fort Drum, New York.
** QUICK HITS. Plenty of posturing today in Washington and Sacramento on the U.S. and California budget crises. Hey, it’s a default stance for pols. And it’s become strictly de rigeur with regard to fiscal matters. … In Washington, two Republican leaders, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, left the ongoing Joe Biden-led negotiations on the federal deficit and debt ceiling. Why? Because they say they are against any tax hikes. Which in their minds includes ending supposedly temporary tax breaks for the rich. Sound familiar? But Cantor didn’t know that his leader, House Speaker and noted golfer John Boehner, met privately at the White House last night with President Barack Obama. … In Sacramento, while Governor Jerry Brown insisted in a speech to builders in San Francisco that he is still pushing his grand budget compromise, Democratic and Republican legislators took shots at each other, and at Brown. Since they’re no longer getting paid, they have plenty to be cranky about. … But Brown is still talking with individual Republican legislators, even as Republican Senate leaders claim to be for his special election, just not for tax extensions. Which would mean they are tax hikes, a very different matter, as they know. … Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, mostly sidelined since her much derided alternative budget-on-a-cocktail napkin, cracked in a speech to reporters and PR types that Brown was the last governor to have a veto overridden, claiming she’s talking with the very liberal Speaker John Perez about a veto-proof no-tax budget. … This is why Conway need never worry about Mensa fees. Without tax extensions, she either believes the former public employee union official will deliver the votes for an all-cuts budget, or she has committed her very conservative members to a gimmicks-budget. … Incidentally, Conway seems ignorant of the facts around Brown’s overridden veto. It was of a huge pay increase for state workers, not long after Prop 13. Would she vote to override that veto, too?
** OBAMA’S BIG REPUBLICAN PROBLEM (IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK). Barack Obama has plenty of problems with the Republican Party. But his biggest problem is the least obvious of them: the Republicans are turning anti-war. And as they do so, any popular base of support for the Afghan War disappears.
While the Republicans’ long-entrenched hawk faction favors a less aggressive withdrawal from Afghanistan than Obama outlined in his Wednesday night address, or none at all, growing numbers of Republicans in Congress, many new Tea Party types, want the war to simply end. And because they are backed up by polling numbers showing a sharp decline in support for the war among Republican voters, the party’s presidential candidates have responded with much less resolute rhetoric than in the past. …
It’s one of the great ironies of contemporary politics that this Republican evaporation should be taking place. After all, it’s the Republicans, and especially their then-dominant neoconservative faction, that steered America into Iraq — one of the great non sequitur moves in history — in the wake of 9/11. And it’s the Republicans who made the test of patriotism, and international friendship, whether “you’re for us or against us.”
That’s why it was necessary for national Democrats, i.e., those who intend to actually win elections by appealing to enough voters to do so, to make Afghanistan the good war and Iraq the bad war. But Obama, who correctly identified Iraq as a “stupid war,” thus transcending notions of “good” or “bad,” in 2002, took the whole thing way too far in late 2009 when he fatefully decided to do a big “surge” of his own in Afghanistan. …
** NEW POLLS: VOTERS WANT MORE BORDER CONTROLS, BUT SCHIZOPHRENIC ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. A new Gallup Poll shows a record high level of support for stronger border controls to stop or control illegal immigration.
But another new Gallup Poll also shows that a majority thinks the current levels of illegal immigration are either fine or, get this, not high enough!
I believe it’s time for a constitutional monarchy, don’t you?
More than half of Americans — 53% — say the need for government action this year to halt the flow of illegal immigrants at the borders is “extremely important,” the first time a majority have held this view in the four times Gallup has asked this question since 2006. Another 29% call it “very important” and 12% “moderately important,” while 7% say it is “not that important.” …
In other words, stop them at the borders!
But in the other new poll, while 43% say that immigration should be decreased, 35% say it should be kept at its present level, and 18% say it should be increased.
In other words, illegal immigrants are A-OK!
The 18% of Americans who favor increased immigration in the June 9-12 Gallup poll — while still the minority view by a wide margin — ties the historical high on this trend question first asked in 1965. …
Ah, yes, the joys of politics.
** NEW POLL: CALIFORNIANS INCREASINGLY USING MOBILE PHONES FOR INTERNET ACCESS, BUT THERE IS A HARDCORE NON-NET CONSTITUENCY. Is this how to bridge the digital divide? A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows that more and more Californians are using mobile devices, principally phones, to access the Internet.
More mobile phones have “smart phone” capabilities today and are increasingly affordable. Thus making it much easier to access the Net than before, when only full-fledged desktop and laptop computers were capable of the task.
But there is a large segment of the population which is not only disconnected, but uninterested.
16% of Californians say they don’t use the Internet, which is down from 24% in 2009. However, 79% of the unwired say they have no interest in using the Net. That’s 13% of the state’s population.
If their attitudes persist, they will simply be left behind.
Californians are twice as likely to use their cell phones to access the Internet than they were just three years ago, according to a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). …
While state residents are more likely to go online from their desktop (56%) or laptop computer (55%), 40 percent connect to the Internet from their cell phones—up from 19 percent in 2008 and 26 percent in 2009. Internet users who go online via cell phone are also doing so more often, with 59 percent saying they do several times a day (30% in 2009). Just 9 percent say they access the Internet by cell phone every few weeks, less often, or never; 35 percent gave this response in 2009.
The use of cell phones to go online has increased across racial and ethnic groups. Today, 57 percent of blacks (31% in 2008), 43 percent of whites (18% in 2008), 41 percent of Asians (24% in 2008), and 32 percent of Latinos (16% in 2008) say they have accessed the Internet this way. Although Latinos are the group least likely to have a computer or Internet access at home, Latinos who use their cell phones to go online are twice as likely as whites (40% to 21%) to say that they mostly access the Internet this way.
“Californians are increasingly using their cell phones and a variety of other mobile devices to gather useful information throughout the course of their daily lives,” says Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “The growing use of cell phones for accessing the Internet is changing the way that Californians relate to work, and this trend also has promise for reducing the digital divide.”
Nearly all Californians (93%) have cell phones, and 39 percent of these say they have a smartphone. Similarly, 41 percent say they pay for a data plan for their cell phones. Most use their phones to send or receive text messages (74%, up 16 points since 2008). Far fewer use them to send or receive email (42%, up 16 points since 2008), download a software app (33%), or make a charitable donation (10%). …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 11:30 AM Pacific, President Barack Obama addresses members of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. 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.
President Barack Obama outlined his plan for a partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in last night’s address from the White House.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and New York.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
He and Vice President Joe Biden then met with House Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 10 AM Pacific, Obma departs Joint Base Andrews (also known as Andrews Air Force Base) on Air Force One en route Fort Drum, New York.
At 11:15 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Fort Drum, New York, home of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama meets with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division in the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade Dining Facility at Fort Drum. The unit is one of the most frequently deployed, in varying formations, to Afghanistan.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 12:10 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Gold Star Families in the Rapid Deployment Facility at Fort Drum.
At 1:15 PM Pacific, Obama departs Fort Drum on Air Force One en route New York City.
At 2:10 PM Pacific, Obama arrives New York City.
At 4:05 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.
At 5 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at Daniel, a Manhattan restaurant.
At 6:50 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at the Broadway Theatre.
At 8:05 PM Pacific, Obama departs New York City on Air Force One en route Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden presides over a swearing-in ceremony for members of the Council of Economic Advisors, Carl Shapiro and Katharine Abraham, and U.S. Comptroller General Eugene Dodaro at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
He then will hold the next meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress working on a legislative framework for comprehensive deficit reduction at the U.S. Capitol.
Obama delivered his big address last night outlining the path forward in Afghanistan.
He announced the beginning of next month’s drawdown of US forces. Obama will withdraw 5000 troops this summer, and another 5000 by the end of the year.
He will withdraw the other 23,000 surge troops that he introduced into the country last year by the end of summer 2012.
But that will still leave 70,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
His speech received a mixed reaction, attacked from right and left and finding not much in the way of enthusiastic support. His moves are reportedly the most that the Pentagon would support, albeit rather grudgingly.
Obama is clearly falling behind the curve on US public opinion on the Afghan War, which has at last — as long warned here and elsewhere — turned decidedly negative.
Obama has mixed economic news today.
Unemployment applications again ticked upward, showing the slowing economic recovery, with the Federal Reserve revising its forecast gross domestic product growth this year downward from 3.2% to 2.7%.
Oil prices are down again, which is good for the economy, to the extent that they translate into lower retail energy prices, which for the most part they have not since the death of Osama bin Laden.
Crude oil has dropped 20% since bin Laden’s death. But gasoline prices are down only 7.5%, with most of that only recently.
Acknowledging that Libya’s oil supply is largely off the market for the rest of the year, the International Energy Agency released 60 million barrels into the market, half from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, creating a glut of product in the short term. But if demand continues, that glut will be gone in a few months.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
At 11:30 AM, he will address the Pacific Coast Builders Conference’s Multifamily Trends Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Brown is continuing work on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
There’s no progress to report this morning. Brown will undoubtedly address the crisis in his speech to the builders and be asked about it after.
The state Legislature, which won’t be paid until there is a budget, meets today. But if they have a plan for the crisis, I’m not aware of it.
Jonathan Thomas, backed by Brown and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, has been selected by its board as the chairman of the state’s stem cell research program, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
Thomas is a Yale and Oxford-educated Ph.D in history and lawyer who majored in biology and history. The investment banker and private equity manager has extensive experience in biotech.
CIRM, created by a statewide initiative in November 2004, is the largest stem cell research program in the world.
** 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. … From my June 17th column.
** 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. … 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.
** 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.
The crew of the last ever space shuttle flight, that of Atlantis, is preparing now in Cape Canaveral for its July 8th launch.
** 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 $91 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $57 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
Crude oil is down 20% since the death of Osama bin Laden. But gasoline is only down 7.5%.
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