Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted today of trying to sell his appointment to fill President Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
** QUICK HITS. The California Legislature is set to vote Tuesday on the compromise state budget measure outlined this afternoon by Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders Darrell Steinberg and John Perez. The two say they have the votes, and if so Brown will sign the budget promptly. … In denouncing the measure as more of the same, the California Republican Party used this supposedly illustrative photo which looks like it’s borrowed or bought from a photo service, as the currency clearly is not American. Anyone care to guess where those coins are actually from? … Redevelopment agencies, championed by Republican legislators, are threatening a lawsuit, by the way.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN AND A CALIFORNIA BUDGET DEAL THAT WILL FLY, FOR NOW.
** CALIFORNIA 2011: A PUFF OF WHITE SMOKE OVER THE CAPITOL DOME HERALDS NOT A POPE BUT A BUDGET, AND CAP & TRADE IS SAVED. The latest iteration of California’s chronic budget crisis is coming to a close, for now, with a better result than previous such. But no final solution yet.
That’s because state Republican legislators preferred to run out the clock rather than offer up a handful of votes for tax extensions as part of Governor Jerry Brown’s long-sought grand budget compromise of big cuts, revenues, and some fiscal and regulatory reforms.
Instead, Brown appeared in his Cabinet Room at mid-afternoon today with Democratic legislative leaders Darrell Steinberg, the state Senate president, and John Perez, the Assembly speaker, to announce another sort of compromise. This one between his historic veto of their state budget cobbled together on the very deadline for continued legislative pay and the reality that few from either party would vote for an all-cuts budget to drive home the point Brown wants to impress upon voters who have only a vague sense of things.
What this means is there will be some additional budget cuts now, fewer gimmicks, and an increased assumption of revenues going forward. If those revenues do not emerge, that will trigger additional mid-course cuts. More details to follow, of course.
Brown has not succeeded in his fiercely clutched goal of wiping out, in one fell swoop, a state budget deficit estimated at $25 to $26 billion when he entered office. But he and the legislators who have worked with him — and let’s be clear that most Republicans wouldn’t even vote for the cuts they claimed they wanted in theory — are on the verge of having succeeded in clearing upwards of 75% of the deficit in only half a year.
All this sets up a big electoral showdown, probably in November 2012, only the outlines of which are clear at the moment but include more revenue for the state. Republicans, having failed to negotiate any new fiscal and regulatory reforms, in large part because they would not vote for tax extensions, may try to push those at the ballot box.
But any conservative electoral move of that nature that would coincide with their efforts to hang on to what they have in the new non-gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts. And it would coincide with the re-election run of President Barack Obama, who will win easily in California.
Meanwhile, a state appellate court has rejected a local San Francisco judge’s move to block the cap and trade portion of California’s landmark climate change program.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger insisted on the inclusion of this market-based approach as part of the mix as California pursues sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Why? To build in some flexibility to the system.
But a number of environmental groups more to the left preferred the command and control regulatory approach on all aspects of the program, not just most aspects. State appellate court justices disagreed, viewing the legislation authored by former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and state Senator Fran Pavley as having the flexibility I always felt it had.
** JERRY BROWN UPDATE: At 3 PM, Governor Jerry Brown holds a press availability in the Governor’s Cabinet Room with state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez. The topic? California’s chronic budget crisis and the state of the state budget in the wake of Brown’s historic veto.
** NEW POLL: VIEW OF NEWS MEDIA NO LONGER AT RECORD LOW! According to a new Gallup Poll survey, Americans no longer have a record low view of their news media. Now it is merely near record low.
What accounts for the improvement? It’s hard to say, since there has been no renaissance in the news media itself.
Frankly, it could be accounted for by the margin of error, which is plus or minus 4 percent.
Ir it could be due to television news viewers becoming more accustomed to sticking with their ideological “news” channels of choice and finding satisfaction in that.
Americans’ confidence in newspapers and television news rebounded slightly in the past year, having been stuck at record lows since 2007. The 28% of Americans who express a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers and the 27% who say the same about television news still lag significantly behind the levels of trust seen through much of the 1990s and into 2003. …
Confidence in newspapers and television news increased across most key subgroups, with the biggest across-the-board improvements among 30- to 49-year-olds and men. The views of Americans aged 18 to 29 exhibited the most mixed year-to-year change, with this group showing a 10-point increase in confidence in television news but a 10-point decrease in confidence in newspapers. While members of this group remain among the most confident in each, their views are now on par with those of Democrats and liberals. Republicans also showed inconsistent movement in their opinions, registering a nine-point increase in their confidence in television news and essentially no change in their views of newspapers. Interestingly, considering the highly polarized nature of cable news, all ideological groups increased their trust in television news to about the same degree.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, suddenly tied for first in the first-in-the-nation Iowa presidential caucuses, formally declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination this morning in the city of her birth, Waterloo, Iowa.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK. A big week on tap in presidential politics, with President Barack Obama facing a still emerging field of potential Republican opponents, getting more directly involved in federal deficit/debt talks, and handling a host of geopolitical crises.
And a big week in California politics, with Governor Jerry Brown coming up on the deadline for his long-sought tax extensions and very seriously weighing various alternatives in the event that they can not happen.
Good news for Obama, and Michele Bachmann. The far right Minnesota congresswoman is tied for first in Sunday’s Des Moines Register poll for the first-in-the-nation Iowa presidential caucuses.
Putative frontrunner Mitt Romney is at 23% and Bachmann at 22%. Former pizza mogul Herman Cain is a distant third with 10%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is tied for fourth with Texas Congressman Ron Paul, with each at 7%.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who’s spent the most time campaigning in Iowa, has only 6% to show for it. Far right former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is back at 4% with former Utah Governor/Obama Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who won’t contest Iowa, at 2%.
That leaves a good 19% undecided, with plenty of room for Bachmann to expand on her first place tie among the state’s conservative and evangelical Republican voters, since she is far more popular than Romney or the other candidates.
Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, Iowa, formally kicked off her campaign Monday morning with a rally there to be followed by a tour of early contest states. She already announced, of course, during her well-received performance a few weeks ago at the New Hampshire debate. But everybody has several forms of announcement these days.
Bachmann does well on the Sunday chats shows, following smoothing off the edges advice from new counselor Ed Rollins, the canny former Reagan advisor. If she shows well in South Carolina and New Hampshire and Nevada this week, the GOP snore-fest could become quite a ball game.
Even without Texas Governor Rick Perry, another far right darling who looks increasingly likely to get into the race. The Texas Miracle has been exposed as a big Texas Myth, with the state kicking the can down the road on the nation’s biggest state budget crisis. But try telling that inconvenient truth to eager conservatives, who still eat that stuff with a spoon.
With Republican congressional leaders ending fiscal talks with Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic congressional leaders over their unyielding opposition to any sort of tax hikes, the talks now shift to the presidential level as the government seeks to raise the federal debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default which could wreck the global economic recovery. My bet is that the debt ceiling gets raised, but little gets done on the deficit, as I don’t think either of the parties is all that serious about it, much rhetoric to the contrary.
Obama is getting something of a break with oil prices down to almost $90 per barrel, 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. Obama spurred a big release of strategic oil reserves into the market to make up for strapped supply with Libya largely offline for the foreseeable future.
In the Afghan War, a Taliban suicide bombers continue their frightening attacks on targets thought to be secure.
In the Libyan War, the International Criminal Court today finally issued official arrest warrants for longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, his British-educated son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was thought until the uprising to be a reformer, and the regime’s intelligence chief. The charges? Crimes against humanity, stemming from attacks on peaceful protesters early this year to attacks on civilians after the uprising began.
Meanwhile, new NATO air strikes targeted the strategic oil port of Brega. Recent Libyan rebel advances have succeeded in further cutting supplies to Gaddafi forces and to Tripoli, which will have a significant effect.
Last week’s highly political moves against Obama in the House of Representatives on Libya resulted in a wash. The House did not provide its imprimatur for the US mission in Libya. With left-liberal Democrats upset and right-wing Republicans looking for a way to slap the president, legislation to authorize the mission for the next year was overwhelmingly defeated.
But anti-war forces failed to pass a bill to cut funding for the Libyan mission. That’s the real question. Of course, even if they had, they would have to get the Senate to go along with them, and that would not happen.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who backs the Libyan mission, says he has the votes to pass a bill by Senators John Kerry and John McCain authorizing US involvement in Libya for another year.
In Pakistan, the situation continues to yield at best mixed signals. Dozens of visas have at last been issued for CIA agents to enter the country and work on anti-jihadist projects. But a team of British special operations advisors has been expelled.
Here’s what Obama’s week ahead looks like: On Monday, Obama and Biden will hold meetings at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the status of the negotiations to find common ground on a balanced approach to deficit reduction. Also on Monday, Obama will welcome Major League Soccer champions, the Colorado Rapids, to the White House to honor their 2010 season and their MLS Cup victory. The Colorado Rapids will hold a soccer clinic for children of military families on the South Lawn.
The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi and two of his closest associates for crimes against humanity.
On Tuesday, Obama will visit Alcoa Davenport Works Factory in Bettendorf, Iowa to tour the facility and discuss the critical role of manufacturing
On Wednesday, Obama will welcome the WNBA Champion Seattle Storm to the White House to honor the team’s 2010 championship season. Members of the team will hold a basketball clinic with local area youth during their visit. Later, the Obamas will hold a reception to observe LGBT Pride month. In the evening, the Obamas will host a farewell dinner for Secretary of Defense Bob Gates at the White House.
On Thursday, Obama will deliver remarks at a farewell ceremony for Secretary of Defense Gates at the Pentagon. Later, he will travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for two DNC fundraisers. On Friday, he holds meetings at the White House.
In California politics, it’s a big decision week for Governor Jerry Brown, who issued the first budget veto in California’s history earlier this month. The fiscal year ends on June 30th. After that, the tax extensions he’s been doggedly pushing become tax hikes, a very different matter in any ratifying public election. He has still been looking for four Republican votes.
The reality is that Brown has run up against the same intractable and dysfunctional state Capitol dynamics that bedeviled former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger during his last few years in office. Things worked well enough in California’s budgeting, cobbled together as it was after Prop 13, until the late ’90s and early noughties, with program expansions and tax cuts based on a dot-com bubble that went bust.
Schwarzenegger, incidentally, had a successful trip to Europe last week, delivering the keynote address at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s conference kicking off a year of global action on new energy alternatives. The UN organization, like many international agencies, is headquartered in the historic imperial capital city Vienna. The event drew heads of government and ministers from around the world. Schwarzenegger later met with the staff of his UN-affiliated R20 climate change/renewable energy organization at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization launched last November at Schwarzenegger’s final Governors’ Global Climate Summit at UC Davis.
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 key distinction, as they know.
Brown has also met privately with Democratic legislative leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, to discuss a potential majority vote budget that he can sign.
How are things looking going into the week? Well, consider this. Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, mostly sidelined since her much derided alternative budget-on-a-cocktail napkin, cracked in a speech last week 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. 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?
In other words, things are not looking promising for Brown’s grand compromise.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received his daily intelligence briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden then met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Oval Office.
At 10:35 AM Pacific, Obama welcomes the MLS champion Colorado Rapids to the White House Rose Garden.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Oval Office.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of 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.
While high-speed rail in California limps along amidst endless political infighting, China’s high-speed rail system is about to link Beijing and Shanghai.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is continuing work on California’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration in the wake of his historic veto of the state budget.
** 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. … From my June 23rd column.
** 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. …
After months of negotiations, Brown has come up against the same intractable dynamics that bedeviled Arnold Schwarzenegger in his last years as governor. … From my June 17th column.
** WEINERGATE’S LASTING IMPACT: THE FIRST BIG SOCIAL MEDIA POLITICAL SEX SCANDAL. … 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.
** 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.
** 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 $90 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $56 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 over 20% since the death of Osama bin Laden. But gasoline is only down 7.5%.
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