Speaking today in swing state Ohio, at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, President Barack Obama said the U.S. economy isn’t where it needs to be, but added that his administration has been digging out of hole created by millions of lost jobs before he took office.
** QUICK HITS. The US State Department is backtracking on claims by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early in the week that Russia is sending new attack helicopters to its Syrian ally, the Assad regime. The helos were already owned by Syria, and had been repaired by Russian technicians. … In addition to denying Clinton’s charge, Moscow accused the US of hypocrisy for selling military equipment to Bahrain as its government put down protesters there. … What critics are calling a “legal coup” is happening in Egypt in advance of this weekend’s presidential run-off election. The new parliament, the country’s first democratically-elected parliament, is dissolved. And martial law is in effect. … While budget negotiations between Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders continue, the legislature is preparing for votes on Friday, the legal deadline for budget passage. But the situation remains somewhat fluid.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ENLIGHTENMENT DIVIDE IN AMERICAN POLITICS.
** NEW POLL: MORE BLAME BUSH THAN OBAMA FOR ECONOMIC TROUBLES. President Barack Obama has been in office for more than three years now, but his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, still gets the lion’s share of the blame for America’s sluggish economy, according to a new Gallup Poll.
Since conservative Republican challenger Mitt Romney is running on much the same platform as that of the Bush/Cheney Administration, that is a big problem for him.
And Obama isn’t getting any more blame now than he did last September, endless cable noise chatter to the contrary.
Americans continue to place more blame for the nation’s economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago. The relative economic blame given to Bush versus Obama today is virtually the same as it was last September. …
Gallup first asked this “blame assessment” question in July 2009, six months after Obama became president. At that point, 80% of Americans gave Bush a great deal or a moderate amount of blame, compared with 32% who ascribed the same level of blame for the bad economy to Obama. The percentage blaming Bush dropped to about 70% in August 2010, and has stayed roughly in that range since. Meanwhile, about half of Americans have blamed Obama since March 2010, with little substantive change from then to the present.
Americans continue to name the economy as the most important problem facing the country, and in an election that likely will be defined by a struggling economy, the question of who is responsible for it will weigh heavily in voters’ minds. Both Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney as a result have focused heavily on the economy in their campaigns, the most recent example of which is the major economic speech Obama will deliver Thursday in the key swing state of Ohio. Romney has attempted to place blame for the country’s continuing economic struggles squarely on Obama’s shoulders. At the same time, the Obama campaign is trying to deflect blame away from the president, in part by assigning blame to his predecessor. …
68% of Americans say former President Bush should be given a great deal or a moderate amount of blame for the nation’s economic woes — substantially more than say the same about Obama. This suggests that Obama’s argument that he is on the right track and needs more time to turn the economy around could fall on receptive ears, particularly those of independents.
** JERRY-RIGGING: AN INTRIGUING INTERVIEW. With negotiations on the California state budget coming down to the short strokes, there is an intriguing new interview with Governor Jerry Brown, conducted by veteran writer and USC Annenberg Professor Marc Cooper, out in the new publication Pacific Standard.
It’s excerpted from a longer forthcoming piece. Here’s some of the flavor of it.
Marc Cooper: Your tax initiative has been melded with the so-called “millionaire’s tax” and will hit the top percent of income earners the hardest. Some of your critics say, “Here we go again. Jerry is staking the state’s future on the cyclical income of the business cycle, it’s too volatile.”
Jerry Brown: The top 1 percent in the state increased its share of the income from 10 to 22 percent. The bottom 80 percent of the state is declining. That’s just a fairness fact. The surveys indicate very clearly that no other tax [other than the one I propose] is going to pass. The alternative is not some broader-based tax, it’s doubling up on the cuts. People don’t want that either. The voters say they do want this tax, by a majority so why not give them a chance to vote on it? Yeah, I’d rather have a broader tax, there should be ways to have a more rational tax, but that is not viable. It’s not going to pass the Legislature, it’s not going to pass by initiative. It’s a non-starter. So the only choice is even more cuts or the tax I’m proposing, or one very close to it.
MC: Californians have spent 20 years giving the thumbs down to higher taxes. What makes you think all of a sudden things have changed?
JB: First of all, we don’t know how open they are to it until we get to the election.
MC: But you think they are, or you wouldn’t propose it.
JB: There’s no choice—I’m doing the best I can. We’ve got our backs to the wall here. It may prove to be illusory, but we have an opening and we’re gonna take it. I think there’s a sense that those who’ve been blessed with so much good fortune should help the state in its dire need. I think that’s a belief. Secondly, the constant reductions—the university, public schools, police, other public services, library hours, all that. Enough already.”
MC: Some people say the state will never get fixed until Prop 13, which you signed in 1979, is radically reformed. We need a split roll, they say, that would raise taxes on commercial property while keeping them low on homeowners. Only then would we see a sort of tax equity that would produce the revenue we really need to float a state as grand as California. Are we going to see any proposals like that in a second term?
JB: None that I am ready to recommend.
MC: Why not?
JB: I just don’t want to go there. I’m just not ready to recommend a split roll on Prop 13. If you want a split roll, go organize your friends and put it on the ballot. I don’t see it happening. There’d be a hell of a lot of opposition. I don’t reject any idea out of hand—everything is possible. But lots of businesses are hurting—you increase their property taxes, that’ll be a problem.
MC: There are other more mild reform proposals out there from groups like Think Long and California Forward who argue that the state mostly needs structural reform, something you don’t talk about much.
JB: Think Long had a big thing on taxing services and they couldn’t get it anywhere. They wanted a value added tax. Well, hallelujah. Probably would make sense, but very hard to pull off. It would take all the Republicans and all the Democrats saying we need it, and that just isn’t going to happen.
MC: What about other reforms, like doing away with the two-thirds majority needed to raise taxes?
JB: You can’t get [the legislature] to lower the two-thirds on taxes, you’ve got to put it before the people. It’s all up to the voters. I took the path I felt had the highest probability of success, and it is by no means guaranteed. So we’re moving forward carefully. Reform is always on the table, but people who say they’re going to transform whole systems have to be careful.
JB: Because things are rarely transformed. …
Iran and Saudi Arabia are jockeying for position at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Vienna, Austria. Iran, struggling with a loss of markets due to sanctions against its nuclear program, wants higher prices, but Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are keeping their production up. Each power is pushing to control the OPEC leadership post.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE ENLIGHTENMENT DIVIDES AMERICAN POLITICS.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, Ohio, and New York.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to Cleveland, Ohio.
At 10:05 AM Pacific, Obama lands in Cleveland.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the economy at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.
This is Obama’s major framing speech on the economy.
At 12:25 PM Pacific, Obama departs Cleveland on Air Force One en route New York City.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
At 2:15 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will visit the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s World Trade Center site, and receive a briefing on construction progress.
This, of course, is the rebuilding of the site attacked and destroyed by Al Qaeda on 9/11.
At 3:45 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser at a private residence in Manhattan.
At 6:55 PM Pacific, the Obamas deliver remarks at a fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.
At 8:35 PM Pacific, the Obamas depart New York City on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 9:30 PM Pacific, the Obamas arrive at Joint Base Andrews, where they board Marine One.
At 9:45 PM Pacific, the Obamas land on the South Lawn of the White House.
President Barack Obama presented Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Medal of Freedom last night at the White House., calling him the essence of Israel itself. Peres is Israel’s ninth president and is a former prime minister of the Jewish state. Obama is working to keep relations with Israel on an even keel as a much-threatened war with Iran looms.
Egypt’s Supreme Court today threw the country’s politics into disarray by invalidating the laboriously elected national parliament.
The Egyptian presidential run-off is this coming weekend, between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, who has a doctorate from USC, and retired Air Force General Ahmed Shafik, candidate of the old Mubarak crowd which also dominates the Supreme Court.
In Syria, the Assad regime’s crackdown against reform forces continues. Russia denies Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s charge that it is sending attack helicopters to Assad, saying that it is merely repairing already provided equipment.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and North Korea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf is 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 continuing state budget negotiations in advance of the June 15th deadline.
Negotiations between Brown and Democratic legislative leaders and interest groups are getting down to the short strokes in advance of the June 15th deadline.
Most of Brown’s big budget cuts seem to be accepted, leaving major contention in a few areas amounting to less than a billion dollars, including a potential trade-off between workfare overhaul and the provision of child care services, and in-home health care services.
Nearly 50 people were arrested yesterday in California’s Capitol demonstrating against impending social service cuts in the new state budget.
Brown vetoed a budget last year, first time in California’s history that has happened, and is prepared to veto again.
In less contentious news, delivering another history lesson, Brown proclaimed today to be Flag Day:
On June 14th, 1777, in the midst of our struggle to free ourselves from the colonial rule of Great Britain, the Second Continental Congress adopted the “Stars and Stripes” as the flag of the nascent United States of America.
Since that day, our flag has served not only as a cherished national emblem, but also as a beacon of liberty and self-determination for peoples around the world. Our brave armed forces, marching and sailing under the Stars and Stripes, have vanquished far-flung and powerful adversaries for over two hundred years. The buildings where we make, interpret, and execute our laws all proudly fly the flag, as do the schools where our children acquire the skills they need to become citizens in a free society. The number of stars on the flag, symbolizing each of our states, has grown from thirteen to fifty, but the underlying principles of justice and equality remain the same.
Each year, we celebrate the birthday of the Stars and Stripes on the anniversary of its adoption. I call on all Californians to join in this nationwide observance by displaying the flag at their homes and businesses, and by taking the time to remember all that it represents.
The final three minutes of Mad Men‘s Season 5 finale, which I think may redeem the entire uneven season just past.
** LOOKING FORWARD FROM MAD MEN‘S MEANDERING SEASON 5: YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (ONE CAN ONLY HOPE) … From my June 13th essay.
** MIDWAY: 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST PIVOTAL BATTLES CAME IN MIDST OF OBAMA’S BIG STRATEGIC PIVOT TO THE PACIFIC. … From my June 9th essay.
** MAD MEN: THE ANVIL HAS LANDED. … From my June 6th review.
** JERRY BROWN FOR PRESIDENT + 20. … From my June 6th essay.
** FIAT LUX, WILLARD! … From my June 1st column.
** MAD MEN: CONTROVERSY AS JOAN LOWERS HERSELF TO RISE, PEGGY EXITS ANTICLIMACTICALLY (AND SCDP GETS ITS HALO CLIENT). … From my latest essay.
** THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES BIG STEPS FORWARD. … From my May 30th essay.
** MAD MEN: A GREAT LEAPER FORWARD? JOAN, JAG, DON’S RETURN TO ADVERTISING (AND OTHER, ER, TREKS). … From my May 23rd review.
** A BUCKET OF WOE: JERRY BROWN’S UNSURPRISINGLY UNHAPPY BUDGET. … From my May 16th 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations 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. 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 $83 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $49 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 about $31 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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