Pakistan has reportedly banned US personnel from a remote air base said to be used for drone air strikes on jihadist cadre.
** QUICK HITS. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed General David Petraeus as the next director of the CIA this afternoon in a 94 to 0 vote. He will replace outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta, who tomorrow replaces retiring Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. But not until September. In the meantime, he remains in command in Afghanistan. … The U.S. Department of Justice has essentially dropped all but two cases of alleged interrogation abuse of accused terrorist detainees, both of which ended in death. … Russia and China are criticizing France in the wake of its revelation that it has supplied arms to seemingly arms-embargoed Libya via air drops in mountainous rebel-held areas, helping further a rebel advance toward Tripoli. … California got something of a break today when federal court allowed the state another month, till late July, to begin its prison population reduction.
** JERRY BROWN SIGNS THE BUDGET, ON TIME, WITH A FEW CHANGES. Governor Jerry Brown, who has been working his way through the big California state budget package since its passage late Tuesday, signed the main budget bill today in about as minimalist a ceremony as can be imagined without being entirely private.
Attended only by Democratic legislative leaders Darrell Steinberg and John Perez, with a tiny press pool of a print photographer, a TV reporter, and a radio reporter on hand, Brown signed what he called in his statement “an honest, balanced, on time budget.”
Well, it’s balanced for now, and if projected new revenues don’t materialize, automatic cuts will be triggered.
“This is an honest but painful budget that returns California’s General Fund spending to levels unseen since the 1970s,” Brown declared, referring to the budget in proportion to the economy. “We’ve cut our deficit by $15 billion dollars and achieved financial balance this year. This is a huge step forward. But California’s long-term stability depends on our willingness to continue to pay down debt and live within our means.”
Brown said he was especially proud that the budget maintained support for K-12 education and provided for his historic realignment of many services from the state to the local level, an approach backed by law enforcement around the state.
You can take a look at the new California state budget here.
Brown had some $270 million in line-item vetoes, using his sole authority as governor, including eliminating the post-secondary education commission, a controversial teacher tracking program, additional court cuts, and transit funding for the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles.
Republican legislators, as readers know, played virtually no serious role in this budget process other than blocking tax extensions or even a public vote on tax extensions. Few even provided any votes for the major program cuts enacted, apparently wishing to escape any responsibility for the big cuts by matching their scorched earth rhetoric with any action.
Instead, in an event at a Sacramento auto dealership, they claimed “credit” for 2009′s temporary tax hikes expiring at midnight tonight.
I doubt that many outside the choir they preach to will be fooled.
** NEW POLL: TERRORISM FEARS SUBSIDE AS AFGHAN PULLOUT BEGINS. A new Gallup Poll indicates that a large majority of Americans is not worried about the risk of jihadist terrorist attacks becoming more likely with the advent of the Afghan draw-down.
To me, the only thing that is surprising about this is that the number is not far bigger.
Before President Barack Obama announced his Afghan surge in late 2009, only a plurality was not worried about America being more vulnerable.
A majority of Americans, 55%, now say they are not worried that withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan will make the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. This is a shift from the 43% who were not worried in December 2009, when President Barack Obama announced a surge of U.S. troops in that country with a timetable for withdrawal starting in 2011. …
The results are based on a June 25-26 Gallup poll, conducted in the days following the president’s prime-time speech in which he laid out his strategy for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Americans gave a favorable review to his new policy in general. Last week’s speech was arguably the most significant policy announcement on the Afghanistan War since Obama’s December 2009 address.
The drop in public concern since 2009 about possible terror attacks after the U.S. exits Afghanistan could be due to a number of causes. First, the U.S. finally succeeded in finding and killing al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, perhaps the most concrete goal of the military action. Indeed, a majority of Americans told Gallup the U.S. had accomplished its mission in Afghanistan after that event. Second, the new policy calls for a reduction, rather than an increase, in the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, which may give anti-U.S. elements in that country and elsewhere less justification for attacking the U.S. Third, Americans may be growing weary of the commitment in general and may be less concerned about possible consequences of continuing the effort. …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 9:15 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.
President Barack Obama honored retiring Secretary of Defense Bob Gates this morning with the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. Veteran California politician and CIA Director Leon Panetta takes over as defense secretary on Friday.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Pennsylvania.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama then delivered remarks at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Defense Secretary Bob Gates at the Pentagon.
Following that, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 9:15 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 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama departs on Marine One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama departs Joint Base Andrews on Air Force One en route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At 1:15 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Philadelphia.
At 2:35 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at The Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia.
At 5:30 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DNC event at a private residence.
At 6:50 PM Pacific, Obama departs Philadelphia on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 7:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 7:50 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
In his news conference yesterday, Obama addressed lagging negotiations on the federal deficit and debt ceiling, the latter of which must be raised or else risk global financial catastrophe. I think w should look for action on the latter, and continued rhetoric on the former from all parties.
Obama was certainly willing to oblige on the rhetorical front, attacking the Republican Congress and making it clear he’s against ongoing tax breaks for the rich and oil companies.
Obama is also monitoring the situation in Afghanistan, where the latest spectacular Taliban raid in Kabul made claims of security gains look very hollow. But the White House seems steady as she goes when it comes to Obama’s emerging withdrawal plans.
Which is certainly consonant with public opinion, if not actually trailing it.
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 Sacramento.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is weighing reactions to the new compromise budget. This includes promised legal action against his successful move to dismantle local redevelopment agencies and redirect revenue to basic services, which barely passed in the state Senate with all Republicans — who supposedly are against government intervention in the private economy — and a few Democrats balking.
And Amazon is balking at sales taxes on online purchases, saying it will shut down its marketing associates program in the state in order to eliminate any geographic anchor. But even if they make good on that threat, there are other activities harder to eliminate, such the Kindle e-reader, which tie the online behemoth to the sales tax.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry is again touring the Golden State in pursuit of his prospective candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. Brown turned down the Lone Star guv’s showy invitation to all state governors to participate in a prayer session for America and is unlikely to see him even though he will be only a few miles away this afternoon, meeting with 30 to 40 Republican state legislators. Many of them are eager to back Perry for President.
I think Obama likes that idea, too.
** 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. …
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. …
But California Republicans proved most obliging in blocking the public from having an opportunity to vote. …
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. … From my June 29th feature.
** 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. …
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. … 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.
** 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.
In the wake of New York’s enactment of same sex marriage, President Barack Obama hosted an already scheduled White House reception honoring LGBT Pride Month.
** 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 $95 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $61 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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