In his morning press conference, President Barack Obama challenged Congress to get to work on the federal debt ceiling issue.
** QUICK HITS. In California’s now markedly less chronic budget crisis, Governor Jerry Brown is going through all the main and trailer budget bills, in the process of signing them as expected. … Five California state legislators, upset about their pay being withheld when they failed to make the new June 15th deadline for passage of a state budget, have asked state Attorney General Kamala Harris for an opinion against state Controller John Chiang having the power to make the determination. And the punch line? They are all Republicans. … Billionaire Meg Whitman, whose biggest spending non-presidential campaign in history lost in a Brown landslide, resurfaced today on Fox to claim her budget plan was better. Actually, it was utterly preposterous, as I discuss in my piece linked below.
** THE DEPARTURE STATEMENT OF DEFENSE SECRETARY BOB GATES. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is retiring. His last day is tomorrow. President Barack Obama hosts a farewell dinner tonight at the White House in his honor.
I don’t always agree with Gates, especially on Afghanistan, but the former CIA director has been a very effective secretary of defense in very trying times.
Here is what he has to say in his farewell statement.
To the Men and Women of the United States Armed Forces: Tomorrow, 30 June 2011, I will retire as Secretary of Defense. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve and to lead you for the past four and a half years. All of that time we have been engaged in two wars and countless other operations.
It has been a difficult time for you and for your families, from long and repeated deployments for those in all four services — and the associated long separations from loved ones — to the anguish of those of you who have lost friends and family in combat or those of you who have suffered visible and invisible wounds of war yourselves. But your dedication, courage and skill have kept America safe even while bringing the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion and, I believe, at last turning the tide in Afghanistan. Your countrymen owe you their freedom and their security. They sleep safely at night and pursue their dreams during the day because you stand the watch and protect them.
For four and a half years, I have signed the orders deploying you, all too often into harm’s way. This has weighed on me every day. I have known about and felt your hardship, your difficulties, your sacrifice more than you can possibly imagine. I have felt personally responsible for each of you, and so I have tried to do all I could to provide whatever was needed so you could complete your missions successfully and come home safely — and, if hurt, get the fastest and best care in the world.
You are the best that America has to offer. My admiration and affection for you is without limit, and I will think about you and your families and pray for you every day for the rest of my life. God bless you.
** NEW POLL: BROAD BACKING FOR OBAMA’S AFGHAN WITHDRAWAL PLAN, BUT ONLY A PLURALITY FOR THE SPECIFICS. A new Gallup Poll finds widespread support for President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
But only a plurality backs his specific near-term plan of withdrawing 10,000 by the end of this year, and another 23,000 by the end of summer 2012.
That’s because 29% want him to withdraw more troops in the near term. And 19% want him to withdraw fewer.
The fact that only a fifth of the country thinks that Obama is being too aggressive in his withdrawal plans accounts for the movement among Republican presidential candidates, who are sounding much more dovish than they would have a year ago.
Americans broadly support President Barack Obama’s plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year, with additional troops scheduled to leave by the end of next summer and the remainder by 2014. Nearly three-quarters, 72%, are in favor, while 23% are opposed. …
The vast majority of Democrats and independents, as well as half of Republicans, favor the outlines of Obama’s plan, according to the June 25-26 Gallup poll.
The same poll finds a more mixed reaction to the near-term goal of having 30,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in 15 months. Forty-three percent of Americans consider this number about right, 29% call it too low, and 19% too high. …
The slight majority of Democrats, 57%, say the 30,000 figure is about right; however — in line with vocal criticism of the plan from Rep. Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats who want a more aggressive drawdown — 30% call it too low.
Independents’ reactions are more closely divided: 40% call it about right, 33% too low, and 18% too high. Republicans are the most fractured of all, with about a third saying the withdrawal figure is about right, a third calling it too high, and 20% too low. …
** JERRY BROWN FINDS A CALIFORNIA BUDGET THAT FLIES, FOR NOW. The latest round of California’s chronic budget crisis is finally coming to an end. It’s a significantly better end than in the past. But it’s not an ending with finality.
Governor Jerry Brown finally acceded to the probable on Monday, dropping his months-long quest to get four Republican legislators to vote to place tax extensions on the ballot to match the big budget cuts already enacted this year and solve the budget crisis. Instead, he and Democratic legislative leaders announced a deal on a better version of the budget he vetoed on June 16th.
That’s because Republican legislators preferred to run out the clock rather than take part in Brown’s long-sought grand budget compromise of big cuts, revenues, and some fiscal and regulatory reforms.
Instead, Brown appeared in his faculty lounge-like Cabinet Room 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 points Brown wants to impress upon voters who have only the vaguest and most contradictory sense of the state’s budget. …
The reality is that Brown may be quite fortunate that he did not get his hoped-for special election this year. Because very little groundwork had been laid to properly frame the election from a conceptual standpoint, or to build a multifaceted organization to promote it. …
As a result of Brown’s uncharacteristic reticence — most every morning on New West Notes, I write that Brown has “no scheduled public events as of this morning” — the storyline slid to a question of taxes or no taxes, with most voters seemingly quite unaware of the big budget cuts already enacted, or that Brown was attempting to negotiate more systemic reforms. That’s not a position you want to start out in at the beginning of a short campaign in an off-year special election.
But California Republicans proved most obliging in blocking the public from having an opportunity to vote. …
Unfortunately, what this budget does is rely on windfall revenue, repeating the pattern of the unsustainable budgets of the late ’90s and early noughties that got the state government in trouble in the first place.
One of the reasons why the legislature was able to move so swiftly on big budget cuts earlier this year is it had spent all of last year contemplating such cuts. But legislators refused to enact the big budget cuts proposed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 8:30 AM Pacific, President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the White House. 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.
The Taliban staged a spectacular raid on the landmark Inter-Continental Hotel in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, killing at least 10 people and forcing NATO to engage the hotel with attack helicopters to defeat the attackers.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, Obama holds a news conference in the East Room.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 10:50 AM Pacific, Obama welcomes the WNBA Champion Seattle Storm to the White House Rose Garden.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Senate Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at an event observing LGBT Pride month in the East Room.
At 4 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a farewell dinner for Secretary of Defense Bob Gates at the White House. Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will also attend.
For his part, Biden attends an afternoon event for the Democratic National Committee at the St. Regis Hotel.
In his news conference, Obama addresses lagging negotiations on the federal deficit and debt ceiling, the latter of which must be raised or else risk global financial catastrophe.
Look for action on the latter, and continued rhetoric on the former from all parties.
Also likely to come up, the spectacular Taliban raid yesterday and last night in downtown Kabul, illustrating the myth of Afghan security.
And the Libyan War.
The Senate took up the Libyan War in hearings yesterday. Senators John Kerry and John McCain moved legislation supporting the intervention, which cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a 14 to 5 vote.
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.
Not that Governor Jerry Brown has anything else to do, but the Los Angeles Dodgers have filed for federal bankruptcy protection.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown issued this brief statement last night in response to the Legislature passing the compromise budget he worked out with Democratic legislative leaders:
“Democrats in the California State Legislature made tough choices and delivered an honest, balanced and on-time budget that contains painful cuts and brings government closer to the people through an historic realignment.
Putting our state on a sound and sustainable fiscal footing still requires much work, but we have now taken a huge step forward.”
Late last night, Brown vetoed card check legislation sought by his old allies, the United Farm Workers.
This would have allowed certification of the union as the the bargaining agent for workers at a given location or set of locations once a majority of workers there signed cards authorizing the union to represent them. The UFW says this is necessary because growers have too many opportunities to intimidate farm workers into voting against unionization.
Brown, in a veto message which you can view here, noted his role in the creation of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act and said that he is “not yet convinced” that the “far-reaching proposals” of card check are justified. He called for a wide-ranging examination of the issue, which he pledged to participate in extensively.
** 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 $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.
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