The US is planning to extend its military presence in Kuwait. The latest report from Congress said 15,000 US troops are already stationed in the tiny Gulf country and that more troops are need to respond to sudden conflicts in the region. Iran, Iraq and the ability to keep oil flowing from Saudi Arabia are major concerns for the world’s biggest economy.
** QUICK HITS. Another very prominent California Republican, the highest ranking yet, has left the party to become an independent. That’s former California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, appointed to the office by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. McPherson was longtime state legislator prior to the Arnold nod. He is running for Santa Cruz County Supervisor, in a race in which he is the frontrunner. More to follow as part of an upcoming piece. … No agreement yet, but word is that Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders are getting closer on the “trailer bills” needed to implement the California state budget bill rather blithely passed last Friday. Brown is moving to tighten down on long-term welfare spending. …
** THE “FAIR SHOT” VS. THE “TO DO LIST” — A BIG REVEALING BLAH IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE. In the clash of presidential agendas, it’s the challenger’s “Fair Shot” vs. the incumbent’s “To Do List.”
Be still, my heart.
Congress, President Barack Obama has repeatedly intoned, must pass his To Do List of generally popular items for economic revival. Which of course they will not, making it a perfect campaigning situation for him.
If only he didn’t call it a “To Do List,” something with all the pizzazz and compelling descriptive power of the title of a hastily scribbled grocery list.
Obama also has an energy plan, which he cleverly calls the All of the Above Plan. As in renewables and energy efficiency, oh, and oil and gas and coal and nuclear, too.
Now, let’s see. Would that be “D” or “E” on the multiple choice quiz?
To be fair, Obama has an overall theme, which I believe is currently “Forward.” Since who is not for moving forward, but for those inextricably, and inexplicably, drawn to going backward?
Before that, it was something even more forgettable, which I recall being suspiciously like Newt Gingrich’s slogan. Which I now recall was “Winning the Future,” also the title of Gingrich’s 2005 book, laying out his political platform.
Recollecting the ex-House speaker-turned-lobbyist, er, enormously paid historian, whose Newtonian motion probably became destined for its current resting state right around the time he portentously declared, “I am the nominee” last December, brings us back to the pallid corporate takeover artist whose unregulated super PAC money and complacent media allies ended the far more flavorful Georgian’s hopes.
Romney, at least, for all his verbal bumblings, has come up with a catch-all phrase for his program more descriptive from the fill-in-the-blank later phrase so unfortunately attached to Obama’s.
Harry Truman had the Fair Deal. Romney offers the Fair Shot. I guess Romney only wants to make deals with his equals. …
** NEW SURVEY: A DOOM AND GLOOM FACTOR ON THE ECONOMY. A recent Gallup Poll survey has some very interesting data.
While the view of the economy on a national, and global basis, is downbeat, half of Americans rate the economy in their neck of the woods as “excellent” or “good.”
That drops to only a quarter of Americans when assessing the national economy.
And only an eighth of Americans when assessing the global economy.
Even more intriguingly, the most negative region of the country in assessing the more local economic environment is the West. Which in terms of absolute numbers if somewhat dominated by California, where the assessment is still bleak.
But California is as safe a bet for Barack Obama as anywhere. In fact, it’s in the bag.
These data, based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted June 11-12, reinforce the general conclusion that Americans are more positive about things at their personal, local level than they are about things “out there” in a broader context.
Significantly more Americans rate economic conditions in their local area as excellent or good than rate them as poor, by a 34-percentage-point margin. Americans remain in positive territory when rating the economy in their state (+15), but shift to a net negative position on the U.S. overall, with poor ratings surpassing excellent/good ratings by five points. Americans’ ratings of the national economy are more positive than what Gallup finds when Americans are asked about the U.S. economy in isolation, suggesting that asking first about local and state conditions prompts a more positive view of the national economy. …
This local positivity bias is not uncommon in surveys, but in this context suggests that the average American is not in as dire straits economically as would be thought based on national economic confidence ratings alone. These data are in line with previous research showing that Americans rate their personal financial situations more positively than they rate the national economic situation.
The fact that Americans believe the U.S. is in better shape than Europe or the rest of the world may provide some comfort to those worried about the impact of a struggling U.S. economy on consumer confidence. Of course, in today’s global economy, no single nation’s economy performs in isolation, but Americans’ more positive views of the U.S. economy may help explain why Americans are not as concerned about the dire economic situation in Europe as some might expect.
A new AP-Gfk poll finds that three-quarters of Americans want Congress and the president to get to work on a new health care law if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama’s 2010 law as unconstitutional, as many expect.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE “FAIR SHOT” VS. THE “TO DO LIST:” THE BIG REVEALING BLAH OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN RHETORIC.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
He has no scheduled public events.
The G-20 Summit, which ended yesterday in the Mexican resort of Los Cabos, backed fundamental overhauls of the troubled Eurozone, including increased integration of the banking sector.
In his own remarks, Obama emphasized how each region of the world is very dependent on exports to and investments from the European Union.
The Eurozone crisis is again momentarily stable following the Greek elections over the weekend and the Spanish bank bailout last week. But the crisis is not solved.
There were reports late yesterday that former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak had died. But that turned out not to be accurate.
His heart apparently stopped, but was revived. He remains in grave condition.
As does the state of Egypt’s nascent democracy.
In Egypt, Dr. Mohamed Morsi, an alumnus of the University of Southern California and candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, has claimed victory in the weekend’s presidential run-off election over retired Air Force General Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister.
The official vote count is due on Thursday.
But between the country’s Supreme Court, dominated by Mubarak appointees, and the ruling “interim” military council, the first democratically elected national parliament in decades has been dismissed and most all major decision-making power pertaining to fiscal matters, defense, and the development of a new constitution has been moved away from the presidency to the military council.
The predictable failure of the latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and great powers of the West and East, this time in Moscow, is accompanied by recriminations. And promises of more talks next month.
Sanctions spurred by the Obama Administration seem to be having a big impact on Iran, and that impact was furthered by the OPEC meeting in Vienna last week, at which Gulf Arab states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE made clear their intention to keep their production up to take up the slack of lost Iranian exports and to keep oil prices significantly lower than Iran needs now.
With the UN peacekeeping mission in Syria over, the ceasefire in shambles, three Russian warships carrying a contingent of Russian Marines are en route to the Russian naval base there.
Pakistan has been thrown into a new political crisis after the country’s supreme court pushed the prime minister, who has clashed sharply with the military, out of his job. Three judges have disqualified Yusuf Raza Gilani, who was jailed for corruption during the Mubarak regime, from holding office and ordered the president to choose a new prime minister. The court ruled Gilani could not continue, after he was found guilty of contempt in April.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has found sanctuary in Ecuador’s embassy beyond British extradition to Sweden on somewhat curious sex charges.
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.
Brown is continuing state budget negotiations even though the June 15th deadline has passed. And even though a budget bill has been adopted and sent to the governor.
There are no new public developments.
Brown attended a fundraiser with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday afternoon in Sacramento and left with state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, reportedly looking chummy enough. But that doesn’t mean too much.
Here’s the pool report from a Sacramento Bee reporter on the Obama/Biden fundraiser, which was at the venerable 123-year old Sutter Club a few blocks from the Capitol. (The reporter mistook “populous” for “populist,” as you’ll see.)
Biden called Brown “the smartest guy in American politics.”
Vice President Joe Biden arrived before 3 p.m. – a bit earlier than expected – at a fundraiser at the Sutter Club, near the state Capitol in downtown Sacramento.
Pool was ushered into the hall about 3:17 p.m., just in time to hear Gov. Jerry Brown at the podium ahead of Biden. Biden started speaking about three minutes later to a crowd of about 130 people.
“Nothing has changed,” Biden said of Brown, who was governor before from 1975 to 1983. Biden said he met Brown in San Francisco in the 1970s. He said, “He was the smartest guy in American politics then. He’s still the smartest guy in American politics.”
“He speaks his mind,” Biden said, and the crowd laughed when he said, “I like guys like that.”
Biden said the fundamental question of the campaign is, “Are we going to restore the American middle class?”
“It’s a simple proposition: When the middle class does well, the poor have a shot, and the wealthy do very well. When the middle class is not doing well, and atrophies, the poor, they’re in trouble, and only a certain part of the super-wealthy do very well.”
Biden said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m all for people being wealthy. It’s a good thing; it’s not a bad thing. I come from the state of Delaware, one of the wealthiest states in America, and I have never played this populous card because I don’t believe it. Wealthy people are just as patriotic as poor people. But the truth is it doesn’t trickle down.”
Biden said on environmental policies that Mitt Romney is “an anathema to things that the Republican Party used to stand for.”
Talking about the slumping economy, he said, “We believe that the way to deal with this God awful recession we’ve inherited is that everyone is in on the deal.”
Biden predicted $800 million in super PAC spending against Obama.
“Rooms like this all over America, you are enabling us to do the only thing that will allow us to counter $800 million spent on carpet-bombing of the president of the United States, my friend, scurrilously attacking him with these super PACs, because that’s what they’re going to spend. Remember I said it. They’re going to spend about $800 million unaccountable dollars attacking my friend. There’s only one way to counter that. That’s to put together the single most consequential ground game in the history of American politics. We did it last time. It’s got to be better this time.”
Biden said Democrats are at an advantage in part because, for the first time he could recall, “Republicans aren’t hiding the ball,” but are “saying exactly what they believe.”
He said, “They’re just saying flat-out what they believe.”
Biden finished after about 18 minutes. He wore a dark suit and tie and spoke at a podium before a black backdrop. Two large tapestries hung on one side of the hall. Guests ate meats and cheeses and stood around white tablecloth-covered bar tables. There were shouts of “Four more years!” as Biden ended.
Before Biden spoke, Brown, who walked into the Sutter Club with senior adviser Nancy McFadden, encouraged attendees to raise “a lot of money” for Obama in what Brown called a “watershed election.”
He said, “We’re either looking forward, we’re looking at investment, inclusion for all of us, or we pull back to a rather narrow perspective of what America could be.”
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson were also in the audience.
Biden said Johnson has a bright political future. Not only can he play basketball, Biden said, “He knows how to play politics, too.”
** THE ENLIGHTENMENT DIVIDES AMERICAN POLITICS. … From my June 16th essay.
** 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 May 30th essay.
** THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES BIG STEPS FORWARD. … From my May 30th 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.
The five rings of the 2012 London Olympics were unveiled today at Heathrow Airport. The Games of the XXX Olympiad begin on July 27th and conclude on August 12th.
** 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 $82 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $48 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 $32 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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