Declaring “now is the time” to fix broken immigration laws, President Barack Obama, appearing today in Las Vegas, heralded a rare show of bipartisanship between the White House and Senate lawmakers on principles for making millions of illegal immigrants citizens.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER.
** QUICK HITS. Now that the lovefest for Secretary of State-to-be John Kerry has taken place, it’s time for some more divisive moments. Former Senator Chuck Hagel has his Senate confirmation hearing on his appointment to be secretary of defense coming up Thursday. (Despite the caterwauling, he’s looking good.) CIA pick John Brennan is up after Hagel. Much more to follow, of course. … The only senators to vote against Kerry were the two Republicans from Texas and noted greenhouse denier James Inhofe of Oklahoma. … Kerry, whose confirmation was approvingly tweeted by his old friend, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, promises to make climate change a top priority. …
** THE STATE OF JERRY BROWN’S STATUS: AFTER THE STATE OF THE STATE. There is no shortage of kudos now for Governor Jerry Brown, who with his State of the State address last Thursday tied the late Governor-turned-Chief Justice Earl Warren for the most such addresses in California’s history. Does he have things sewn up politically in the battered but brightening Golden State?
The answer is, thanks to his smashing victory on the Proposition 30 revenue initiative, yes. For now and, barring serious mistakes, the rest of his current term. But mistakes can always happen, and there are still long-term issues regarding difficult public pension commitments, a battered social safety net, and a less than roaring economic recovery.
“Jerry stands like a Colossus bestride … whatever it is you bestride in that quote,” declared a former high-ranking California official, humorously spoofing his inability to channel the classics-spouting Brown, after having scanned various headlines and newscasts, reactions from politicians and interest groups, and the general flow of things.
Ironically, given how they have fought and vilified him over the years, Republicans are helping Brown now, wittingly and, well, mostly not. Much more about that at the close of this piece. …
Someone will run, of course, because someone always does. Not that Brown has said publicly that he’s running, mind you. But he’s hardly pulling a Hitchcock here when it comes to suspense. I’ve written from the beginning that he’ll run again and have seen nothing to indicate anything else.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who tried to run against Brown last time and carelessly positioned himself as an occasional irritant, has acceded to the obvious, delivering a praise-filled Brown introduction.
Which seemed to bring a smile to his great fan, First Lady/Special Advisor Anne Gust Brown.
Brown’s speech was in his inimitable fashion, brimming with often classically-based philosophical and historical references, bristling with challenge for the future and family heritage-infused pride in California’s history and prospects. In an unusual move, this master of jazz improv speechifying had prepared text available in advance of his address, though of course he was furiously writing on the speech the day and night before his 9 AM appearance, and considering ad libs as he delivered each section.
“The message this year,” he averred, “is clear: California has once again confounded our critics. We have wrought in just two years a solid and enduring budget. And, by God, we will persevere and keep it that way for years to come. Against those who take pleasure, singing of our demise, California did the impossible.”
Well, nothing that was impossible with a combination of budget cuts and new revenues. The trick, of course, was finding the way to make it work and then executing the plan.
The front end of that, as readers know, consisted of big budget cuts in 2011; the back end, of the landslide passage of Brown’s Proposition 30 temporary tax hike initiative. While the former came as something of a surprise to many observers, the latter came as a big surprise. But the victory was there to be won (the undecided voters were more persuadable for Brown than the No on 30 crowd, as even the USC public poll showed weeks in advance), it was a matter of doing, and in the end, Brown did, as I explained here two days after the election.
The passage of Prop 30, as Brown says, has brought a new day in California. If it’s not a rollback of the Prop 13 era, it is certainly a massive rebuke to the reflexive no-tax doctrine. And it does solve the chronic crisis which has afflicted the state’s general fund, though other fiscal challenges, notably in public pensions, still await down the line. …
Then he pivoted to California’s promise and prospects, its customary role at the edge of history.
“In the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt said: “There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation has a rendezvous with destiny.”
“We — right here in California — have such a rendezvous with destiny. All around us we see doubt and skepticism about our future and that of America’s. But what we have accomplished together these last two years, indeed, the whole history of California, belies such pessimism.”
After running through a very neatly-rendered 300-word version of the history of the Golden State, Brown spoke of California’s leadership role: “This special destiny never ends. It slows. It falters. It goes off track in ignorance and prejudice but soon resumes again — more vibrant and more stunning in its boldness.
“The rest of the country looks to California. Not for what is conventional, but for what is necessary — necessary to keep faith with our courageous forebears.”
And that, as I’ve written many times before, leads into Brown’s big futurist agenda. It’s an agenda — renewable energy and energy efficiency, climate change, high-speed rail, bioscience, cutting edge research, water conveyance and conservation, regulatory reform, reform of education financing — which he intends to keep California in its familiar position at the edge of history.
Brown didn’t say this in his State of the State address, but his ability to pursue much of that agenda is dependent in large measure on actions taken by his predecessors, Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis. I discussed this at the beginning of January in “California’s Futurist Agenda: A Tale of Three Governors.”
Fortunately, there has been a sense of future-oriented continuity amidst all the fiscal distress and hyper-partisan tumult which marked the last decade here. …
Meanwhile, as Brown presents himself as the renewed philosopher prince of politics — while he’s always interested in ideas, he really is the author of his own stuff — the Republican Party continues in its deep crisis.
Now down to 29% registration after ignoring Arnold Schwarzenegger’s prescient 2007 warnings to return toward the center, with no one in statewide office and its “super-minority” blocking status gone with the advent of two-thirds Democratic majorities in both legislative houses, the GOP is belatedly trying to address its encroaching irrelevance.
But not especially cleverly. …
For all his acclaim now as the master of Californian politics, Brown himself knows that things can go wrong. As he points out from time to time, he’s lost plenty of elections. Most of those happen to have been presidential primaries, of which he’s also won quite a few, but he knows that triumph is not a given in life.
In fact, Jerry Brown has been an outsider for much of the time I’ve known him, with many of the same sorts of people saying how great he is now all too quick to dismiss him and, more importantly, his ideas.
He also knows that over-reach can turn the prospect of victory into defeat. Having rolled into the decisive 1992 New York presidential primary with a sudden lead, and Bill Clinton on the ropes, rather than keep on doing what was working, he over-thought the situation. And over-reached. Declaring that Jesse Jackson would be his running mate. Brown’s New York lead turned into a third place finish, and the guaranteed nomination of future President Clinton.
Sorry to introduce something as a telling aside which should be a piece in itself.
Which is not to say that Brown is not a brilliant long-range planner.
In that regard, one wonders about California’s chronic budget crisis: Was Brown playing a “long game” all along? …
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a notable lovefest, today swiftly and unanimously approved Senator John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. The full Senate then confirmed Kerry on a 94 to 3 vote, with the secretary-to-be voting present. He will be sworn in shortly.
** NEW SURVEY: MILITARY UP, ECONOMY DOWN. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates continuing major dissatisfaction with the state of the US economy.
But there is great satisfaction with the state of military preparedness and sense of safety from terrorist attack.
President Barack Obama hasn’t managed to get the economy perking for most, but he has eliminated what had been the traditional Republican advantage on national security issues.
- As President Barack Obama’s second term in office gets underway, Americans are most satisfied with the nation’s military strength and preparedness, security from terrorism, and the quality of the environment, and least satisfied with the state of the economy and the way the country deals with poverty and homelessness. Americans’ satisfaction with several aspects of the U.S. is significantly changed from 2005, when George W. Bush was starting his second term. …
Clearly, Americans view the performance of the nation’s military quite positively, an attitude that is also reflected in the military’s top position on Gallup’s annual measure of confidence in institutions. Americans are almost equally as satisfied with the nation’s efforts to fight terrorism. And, even though Obama made the need to address climate change a focus of his inaugural address, a majority of Americans say they are satisfied with the nation’s environmental quality.
The public’s satisfaction with the military and anti-terrorism efforts is higher today than in January 2005, when George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as president — despite the Bush administration’s focus on building up the U.S. military and on greatly enlarging the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
At the same time, Americans’ satisfaction with the state of the economy — the lowest-rated area tested — has dropped by 27 percentage points since 2005. This reflects the impact of the 2008 housing crisis and financial recession, and is a stark reminder that economy-related issues remain at the top of the public’s views of the most important problem facing the nation today. …
Senator John McCain, whose Bush-backed bid for immigration reform fell apart in spectacular fashion in 2007, is back again with some Republican support in 2013.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE STATE OF JERRY BROWN’S STATUS: AFTER THE STATE OF THE STATE.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Nevada.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then departed the White House to fly on Air Force One to Las Vegas, Nevada.
At 11:25 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At 11:55 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks on the need to fix the broken immigration system at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama departs Las Vegas on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 6 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 6:20 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving Mali and Algeria, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: Mali is eight hours ahead of Pacific time, the Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a champion of California’s high-speed rail program, is leaving the Obama Administration. Which will not affect the administration’s commitment to the program. LaHood is the only Republican left in the Obama Cabinet, though this is likely to change with Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel. LaHood’s departure may be an opportunity for outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a transit advocate who has hoped to run for governor but recognizes the obvious, despite Governor Jerry Brown’s lack of an official announcement.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
One of three remaining lawsuits attempting to block California’s high-speed rail project in the Central Valley has been settled.
The project is to begin construction this year. More to follow.
A group of legislative liberals proposed a package of bills designed to expand California’s gun controls, already among the nation’s most expansive. The package would include adding new restrictions on buying ammunition similar to those on buying guns, ending permits allowing corporations and other organizations to equip personnel with assault weapons, add a new tax on ammunition, and force the state’s public pension funds to divest from any manufacturers of firearms.
Meanwhile, Steve Glazer, Brown’s day-to-day campaign manager in 2010 — it’s very difficult to describe anyone other than Brown himself as Brown’s campaign manager, but First Lady/Special Advisor Anne Gust Brown comes closest — is running for a Bay Area seat in the state Assembly. He is currently on the Orinda City Council in the East Bay.
** OBAMA’S CLEAR YET MUTED TRUMPET: HOPE’S AUDACITY MEETS LOWERED EXPECTATIONS. … From my January 23rd essay.
** HOW NOT TO STAGE MANAGE THE WORLD. … From my January 18th column.
** POWELL POSITIONS THE DEBATE OVER CHUCK HAGEL. … From my January 14th essay.
** JERRY BROWN’S NEW BUDGET FOR POST-CRISIS CALIFORNIA: DISCIPLINE BEGETS OPPORTUNITY. … From my January 11th essay.
** WHY THE HAGEL BATTLE MADE MORE SENSE FOR OBAMA THAN THE RICE BATTLE. … From my January 9th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S FUTURIST AGENDA: A TALE OF THREE GOVERNORS. … From my January 4th 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 $97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $63 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 $17 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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