President Barack Obama addressed the Australian Parliament on Thursday (Australian time) and vowed to expand U.S. influence in the Asia Pacific region even as he reduces defense spending and winds down two wars.
** QUICK HITS. “In the Asia Pacific of the 21st century, the United States of America is all in.” So said President Barack Obama in his address to the Australian Parliament as he unveiled an upgraded security alliance with Australia as part of America’s post-Iraq moves to counter a rising and more aggressive China. “As a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future, by upholding core principles and in close partnership with allies and friends,” he declared. Obama is off to Darwin, Australia, where US forces will initiate joint basing arrangements. More to follow. … A new Fox News poll confirms former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s rise to the top of the heap in the Republican presidential race. It’s Gingrich 23%, Mitt Romney with a familiar 22%, Herman Cain 15%, Ron Paul 8%, Rick Perry 7%, Michelle Bachman 6%, Jon Huntsman 3%, and Rick Santorum 2%. … Their plans to attend the University of California Board of Regents meeting dashed by its cancellation, Occupy demonstrators and UC student protesters today took their activism to San Francisco’s financial district to target institutions linked to UC regents, taking over a Bank of America branch. …
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 3:15 PM Pacific, President Barack Obama addresses the Australian Parliament in Canberra, Australia. This is a cornerstone speech on emerging political and security architectures in the Pacific Basin, a major post-Iraq move.
** 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.
** JERRY-RIGGING: TIMBER! One good reason why Governor Jerry Brown hasn’t been his usual effervescent self I’ve known over the decades is that he has inherited a big chronic budget crisis and a thoroughly dysfunctional political culture, all of it in the midst of an historic global economic crisis.
And it really is global, folks. These aren’t the olden days of sailing ships and pony express riders. What happens in Samarkand, somewhat figuratively speaking, does matter in Sacramento; too many folks just don’t know it.
Today’s assessment of the state’s fiscal situation by the California Legislative Analyst Office isn’t any real surprise, but it is sobering.
Rather than rewrite it in paraphrase form, the usual journalistic maneuver, I’ll show you the official summary statement:
We forecast that General Fund revenues and transfers in 2011-12 will be $3.7 billion below the level assumed in the June budget package. Such a shortfall could result in $2 billion of “trigger cuts” to various programs—including all of the “Tier 1” trigger cuts and three-fourths of the “Tier 2” cuts. (The Director of Finance will determine the actual amount of such cuts next month.) In 2011-12, we project that the state will have a $3 billion deficit, including the effects of these trigger cuts. In 2012-13, the state will face higher costs due to expiration of a number of temporary budget measures, an increase in Proposition 98 school costs under current law, the repayment of its Proposition 1A property tax loan, and other factors. We project a $10 billion operating shortfall (the difference between annual revenues and expenditures) in 2012-13. The $3 billion “carry-in” deficit from 2011-12 and the projected $10 billion operating shortfall mean that the Legislature and the Governor will need to address a $13 billion budget problem between now and the time that the state adopts a 2012-13 budget plan.
What does it mean? That trigger cuts are on the way, as I’ve been saying from the beginning, as the, er, optimistic revenue scenario which allowed prompt passage of the state budget in late June after Brown vetoed its meaningless version the first time are simply not materializing. And that revenues have not recovered at all, in spite of some signs of economic recovery.
Good thing that Brown didn’t follow majority Democrats in the state Assembly who wanted to rescind this year’s early cuts because things were supposedly getting so much better. As I wrote about in “Jerry Brown’s New Problem” on June 3rd. Republicans, as I believe I mentioned once or twice, refused any revenue solutions, including extending existing taxes and closing corporate loopholes.
You can tell this is a big deal because statements were very prompt in the aftermath of the report, which you can view here.
Brown’s office was first with a statement, from press secretary Gil Duran: “California’s budget gap is the result of a decade of poor fiscal choices and a global recession. This year, we cut the problem in half. Next year, we’ll continue to make the tough choices necessary until the problem is solved.”
Then came this statement from Brown’s state budget director, Ana Matosantos: “The LAO report acknowledges the tough work that has been done to cut the state’s deficit in half, but that there is more tough work ahead. The budget the Governor signed recognized that economic uncertainty could force the trigger cuts to take effect. Some level of trigger cuts will likely occur, but the exact amount will be known in December.”
Finally, state Controller John Chiang, who has been properly issuing warnings since well before the budget was passed, weighed in: “Today’s news is no surprise. Our economy’s sluggish growth means a tax windfall is unlikely, and not a penny of the estimated $4 billion has been collected to date. The Governor and lawmakers were smart to backstop their hopeful budget projections with mid-year cuts, but they may not have gone far enough. Today’s report tracks with the troublesome pattern we have seen in the State’s receipts and spending, which could mean a cash-flow problem in California’s near future.”
What’s in the hopper for mid-year cuts? Well, we’ve gone over it before. Another $100 million each for the University of California and California State University systems, along with deep cuts in in-home care and developmental disability programs as well as child care and library programs.
And some very big cuts in K-12 education, quite possibly shortening the school year, and in community colleges.
And you think students are upset now?
Speaking of which, the California State University board of trustees meeting was disrupted today, with broken glass, four people arrested, one police officer to the hospital, and the board finishing up its work in private. They passed another fee hike on students, a whopping 9%.
Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich in an archived interview with Ali G. Not for the easily offended.
** NEW POLL: NEWT GINGRICH NOW TOPS REPUBLICAN FIELD IN POSITIVE INTENSITY. Well, his many twists and turns, not to mention his prickly persona, may well trip him up, but former House Speaker Newt Gignrich is not only at or near the top of every Republican presidential poll, he’s also at the top of the heap in intensity of support.
A new Gallup Poll survey now has Gingrich tied with Herman Cain, who has been for months head and shoulders above the rest of the field in this measure.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was at 25 in this score — which measures the difference between those who have strongly favorable views and strongly negative views of a candidate — in September, now finds his score at 0.
That is 0 as in “zero.”
Only Jon Huntsman, with -3, has a lower positive intensity score in the Republican field.
Herman Cain’s Positive Intensity Score is 17, down from 29 immediately before news broke in late October about past sexual harassment allegations against him. Newt Gingrich, who has made a dramatic turnaround since the summer, saw his score improve further this week, and he now ties Cain for the highest score among the eight major GOP presidential candidates. …
The current ratings are based on Nov. 1-13 Gallup polling, covering a fairly newsworthy time in the GOP campaign. Cain continued to be dogged by allegations that he sexually harassed women while he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. Also, the eight major candidates met for two debates, the first of which will be remembered for Rick Perry’s memory lapse while he was trying to list the names of federal cabinet departments he would shut down if elected.
Perry’s Positive Intensity Score, which had been in the low single digits in recent weeks, fell further to a new low of 0, meaning as many Republicans familiar with him have a strongly unfavorable opinion of him as a strongly favorable one. That compares with his score of 25 in late August/early September. …
By this point in the campaign, most of the candidates are fairly well-known, with at least 8 in 10 Republicans familiar with each except Santorum and Huntsman. That higher degree of familiarity may explain why most Republican candidates’ Positive Intensity Scores are at their low points for the campaign, with many candidates seeing declines in their scores this year as they became more widely known.
In addition to Perry, Jon Huntsman (-3), Michele Bachmann (1), Rick Santorum (5), and Mitt Romney (10) all tied or set new low scores this week. Ron Paul, currently at 4, is just two points above his low mark, and Cain is just three points above his low score of 14. …
President Barack Obama has announced a new security agreement with Australia that will strengthen military ties, updating a 60-year old security alliance with the country, heralding a permanent US military presence in Australia, with joint basing to be in what’s now the little known city of Darwin.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … DARWINIAN.
** ALI, FRAZIER, JACKSON, STALLONE: OF IMAGE, RACE, POLITICS, AND MYTH. Monday’s Philadelphia funeral for former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier brought some old but still very salient issues back to the fore. Frazier’s sudden death from liver cancer has reminded many of some uncomfortable truths.
One of the great figures of the “Golden Age” of boxing in the ’60s and ’70s, Frazier ended up very much slighted and neglected, unfairly so, chewed up and spit out by a celebrity culture that opts for popular myths. And he was whipsawed by ruthless racial politics, from right and left.
As I wrote last week here on the Huffington Post, I met Joe Frazier years ago in Vegas. He was very lively, a joshing sort who was quick to utter what turned out to be his latter-day catchphrase, “Joe Frazier, sharp as a razor.” Which wasn’t exactly true, but of course was his way of comparing himself to his nemesis, Muhammad Ali, so far removed now from his once dazzling persona.
Ali was the most famous athlete of the 20th century, an icon of social change, in his and Frazier’s heyday the most famous person on the planet. He rejected his “slave name,” embraced Islam, refused induction into the military, opposed the Vietnam War, promoted black power but ultimately reached out to whites.
He also rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, even some who would have otherwise have been admiring, as recounted in last season’s key episode, The Suitcase, of that great meditation on a slice of the ’60s, Mad Men. There’s an archive of my writings on that here.
A rifle bullet reportedly hit the White House last Friday. President Barack Obama had already embarked on his Pacific Basin tour.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Australia.
Australia is a very large country, a continent of its own, with four time zones. The time in Canberra, Australia, the nation’s capital, is 19 hours ahead of Pacific time.
The time in Darwin, Australia, where Obama goes this evening and where the US is about to have a joint military base with the Australians, is 17 hours ahead of Pacific time.
Obama participated in an official arrival ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia.
He then took part in a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at Parliament House in Canberra.
Following that, he attended a dinner with the Australian Parliament at Parliament House in Canberra.
Then he went to sleep.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama holds a joint news conference with Prime Minister Gillard at Parliament House in Canberra.
At 2:05 PM Pacific, Obama participates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at Parliament House.
At 3:15 PM Pacific, Obama addresses the Australian Parliament at Parliament House in Canberra.
This will be Obama’s major address of the trip, marking the first big post-Iraq move on security and political arrangements.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 4:25 PM Pacific, Obama visits a local school with Prime Minister Gillard in Canberra.
At 5 PM Pacific, Obama holds a U.S. Embassy meet and greet at the US Embassy in Canberra.
At 5:15 PM Pacific, Obama participates in a tree dedication ceremony at the US Embassy in Canberra.
At 5:55 PM Pacific, Obama departs Canberra on Air Force One en route Darwin, Australia.
Obama is rolling out the major beginnings of a post-Iraq geopolitical posture for the US and a revamped political and security architecture in the Pacific Basin, in part to counter the rise of China, which has been making new aggressive moves over the past year in the South China Sea and some threatening moves, as always, towards Taiwan.
Obama at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii pushed a Trans Pacific Partnership on economic issues which China is encouraged to join. If it stops depressing the yuan, much more stringently protects intellectual property rights, and sharply cuts state subsidies to its corporations. Which of course would disrupt China’s strategy.
Darwin, Australia, as I’ve written a couple of times this week, will be a new hub for the US in the Pacific. A contingent of US Marines, starting out at first in company size but soon growing to brigade size, will share an Australian military base in what was a key strongpoint for both countries in the Pacific War of the 1940s.
I’ll have much more on this.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said today at his loya jirga meeting with 2000 elders supporting his regime that the US can have an ongoing military deployment in the future only if it stops all night raids.
The raids, which have not infrequently backfired in attempts to root out the Taliban, have become very unpopular with Afghans.
Closer to home, Occupy Wall Street is scrambling for a new base of operations after being evicted from Zuccotti Park. Movement organizers failed in their legal move to continue the encampment.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has just warned Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that he is in danger of fading to fifth or sixth in Iowa, where he currently runs in a four-way tie for first, because he and his campaign are not paying enough attention to the state.
Romney is about to make his fourth visit of the year to the first-in-the-nation contest state.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Iraq is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
Tuesday saw a general strike and “teach-out” at UC Berkeley.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
The California Legislative Analyst Office will issue an assessment of the state’s fiscal situation today.
It won’t be good.
The state Department of Finance will issues its own assessment next month.
A few campus protests took place yesterday, with more on tap for today, which coincides with the California State University board of trustees meeting which will take up a proposal for an additional 9% fee hike to nearly $6,000 per term.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom announced late yesterday that he will vote no. He did not say how he would make up the difference.
The University of California Board of Regents, as previously reported, took the very unusual step of canceling its meeting, citing threats of very disruptive protests. It hasn’t been at all specific about those threats.
UC Berkeley yesterday saw a general strike which shut down many, though not all, classes. Estimates are that 5000 to 10,000 students rallied in Sproul Plaza in support of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland and against sharp cutbacks to and fee hikes in the university system.
** VETERANS DAY IN A FRACTURED AMERICA. Credit Barack Obama with some brilliant Veterans Day moves. In addition to the customary Arlington solemnities, he presided over the opening of the college basketball season on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier which conducted the funeral of Osama bin Laden.
Obama ESPN hoopster, check. Obama bagging Osama, check. Obama buds with the troops, check.
It’s all a very nice kick-off to Obama’s nine days of Asia Pacific summitry, a neat contrast to the reality show clownfest that is the Republican presidential race.
But the stagecraft obscures basic realities that plague the country, which this Veterans Day found ever more fractured.
After two big wars in 10 years, the country is fractured and fatigued, the economy sputtering after a near depression, with few Americans having any real experience or familiarity with the military.
And the veterans we celebrate, more dutifully it seems to me than not, all too often come back fractured in mind and body, as my father did. … From my November 12th essay.
** RECALLING JOE FRAZIER: AN APPRECIATION, AND A NOTE OF HORROR. The surprise death of former world heavyweight champ Joe Frazier reminds of the man’s elemental greatness, and of the deep pitfalls of high-contact sport.
Frazier, who died unexpectedly of liver cancer on Monday, just two days after his illness was publicly revealed, was an ill-remembered legend. One of the most famous men on the planet in the ’60s and ’70s, he was one of the great figures of the so-called Golden Age of boxing, fighting epic battles with Muhammad Ali while faring much less well against George Foreman.
Today, boxing is a sport in decline, in no small measure because many of us can no longer enjoy it. But in Frazier’s heyday, which coincided with that of the iconic Ali, it captivated people around the globe. … From my November 10th essay.
** OCUPADO. … From my November 4th essay.
** HIGH-SPEED RAIL: JERRY BROWN’S BIG MOVE TO THE FUTURE. … From my November 2nd essay.
** “OUT OF CONTEXT”: HILLARY’S P.R. OFFENSIVE. … From my October 29th column.
** STEVE JOBS: HARDLY A PERFECT PERSON, PERHAPS A PERFECT ICON. … From my October 26th essay.
** SIGNS: JERRY BROWN AFTER A DISAPPOINTING LEGISLATIVE YEAR. … From my October 20th essay.
** AFGHAN WAR AT 10, 9/11 AT 10+: DID OSAMA BIN LADEN WIN AFTER ALL? … From my October 7th 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.
A Soyuz spacecraft carrying two Russians and an American docked today at the International Space Station. It is the first Russian manned mission in five months following an unmanned rocket failure a few months ago.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening 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.
** 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.
** 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 $101 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $67 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down $13 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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