President Barack Obama has picked Recreational Equipment Inc. CEO Sally Jewell to be the next US secretary of the interior.
** QUICK HITS. Look for fireworks tomorrow when Senator Dianne Feinstein convenes the Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on CIA Director-designate John Brennan. The Obama Administration, following the leak of a legal memo seeming to outline a very loose definition as to how a US citizen can end up on a drone kill list, has agreed to provide classified legal documents on the process, which has been masterminded by Brennan in his role as White House counter-terrorism advisor. … The Senate Armed Services Committee considers the Benghazi disaster tomorrow. It had appeared ready to then vote on former Senator Chuck Hagel. The controversial appointee appears to have enough Republican votes for his confirmation/against a filibuster to carry him aloft into the big chair in the Pentagon. But Senate Armed Services chairman Carl Levin said this afternoon that the vote won’t take place this week.
** JERRY-RIGGING: BROWN LEARNS OF A FIGURE BEHIND THE FRONT, DECLARES A POTENTIAL GUBERNATORIAL RETREAT (RESIDENTIAL, THAT IS) AND, OH YES, RONALD REAGAN DAY. Up in rural Colusa this morning for the annual farm show breakfast, Governor Jerry Brown said that he’s planning on building a home on a nearby ranch that has been in his family since the Gold Rush days. He’s told me before that he’s gone shooting up there, and on election day this past November hiked around the land as he contemplated the returns about to unfold.
Brown also got public word, via Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain’s latest, of a key figure behind the many fronts used by the No on 30 and Yes on 32 campaigns last year.
Former California Republican Party chief fundraiser Jeff Miller, a lobbyist who after the election moved to Texas — where he is helping Texas Governor Rick Perry and trying to lure California businesses to the Lone Star State — turns out to be the person who actually solicited the first funds we know for certain were part of the biggest anonymous political contribution in California’s history.
It was Miller who got the American Council of Engineering Companies-California to give $400,000 to a Virginia-based political laundry called Americans for Job Security. These funds became part of the infamous $11 million aggregated at the Virginia drop, which in turn ran it through another laundry called the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, which then ran it through the Arizona-based laundry Americans for Responsible Leadership, which then pushed the money through the California-based laundry called Small Business Action Committee, which then pushed the money into the campaigns to defeat Brown’s Prop 30 revenue initiative and pass the Prop 32 initiative to hamstring public employee unions’ campaign spending.
Small Business Action Committee, a table for one, which raises next to nothing from actual small businesses, is the re-branding operation run by No on 30 campaign co-chairman Joel Fox.
Readers will recall that I wrote last year of learning that Fox was simply fronting the Small Business Action Committee group, that the money was actually put together by someone else.
The actual answers, it turns out, are beginning to unfold.
Brown also issued this proclamation declaring Ronald Reagan Day in California, urging Californians to contribute to the Reagan Institute, which works on Alzheimer’s disease:
From his humble Midwestern origins, through a successful career in Hollywood, and on to the highest offices in his state and country, Ronald Reagan lived the California dream.
On this 102nd anniversary of his birth, we remember not only his most celebrated achievements—his successful diplomacy with Mikhail Gorbachev and the economic recovery that occurred under his presidency. We also remember the turbulent years of his governorship, during which he proved his ability to manage the affairs of the state, and earlier, the talent and the skill he brought to his work in one of our state’s most renowned and beloved industries.
Above all, we remember the man: his irresistible optimism, faith and good humor. As a way to honor his memory, I recommend that Californians give as generously as they can to the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute.
NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim February 6th, 2013 as “Ronald Reagan Day.”
** NEW SURVEY: ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE MATCHES FIVE-YEAR HIGH. Despite word that the economy actually contracted slightly during the fourth quarter, a new Gallup Poll survey indicates that economic confidence in January matched the five-year high of just this past November.
Confidence, of course, still being a relative term in the aftermath of the great global recession. The numbers are still in negative territory.
U.S. Economic Confidence improved to -13 in January, matching the five-year monthly high set in November 2012. Economic confidence improved steadily from September to November before falling back to -17 after the presidential election, but has now returned to its pre-election peak. …
Democrats remain most optimistic among consumers by political party; their January Economic Confidence Index score is +20, compared with much more negative confidence scores among independents (-21) and Republicans (-56). These partisan differences are not a new phenomenon; Americans who identify with the party in the White House are usually significantly more positive than those who do not. The gap between partisan groups expanded in the fall of last year and remains larger than it was in the first half of 2012. …
Upper-income Americans continue to be more confident in the U.S. economy, at -7, than their middle- and lower-income counterparts, at -14. Confidence peaked among both groups in November, before turning downward in December and then recovering to essentially peak levels in January. …
While monthly averages show economic confidence in January matching the five-year peak it first reached in November, weekly averages show even more positive momentum. This increase in consumer confidence seems consistent with the surging equity markets, now at five-year highs, perceptions of an improving housing market, and the deferral of political confrontation over the federal debt ceiling. Evidently, these factors are — at least temporarily — outweighing consumer concerns over the payroll tax increase and increasing gas prices.
This unclassified Justice Department memo revealing that the government does not need evidence that a specific attack is imminent when launching a drone attack to kill U.S. citizens associated abroad with terrorists will undoubtedly play a big part in Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing, run by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, on President Barack Obama’s pick to be the new CIA director.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then left on Marine One for the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
After landing at the Naval Academy, Obama made his way to the Senate Democratic Issues Conference at the Westin Annapolis Hotel.
At 9:25 AM Pacific, Obama departs the U.S. Naval Academy on Marine One en route White House.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama makes a personnel announcement in the State Dining Room.
He is appointing Sally Jewell, president and CEO of the outdoor and recreational retailer REI, to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Obama is heading to the ME, probably late next month. He will be in the Middle East for visits to Israel — first of his presidency, a second term visit as promised — Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. This will be quite fascinating.
As will Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for his pick to be the new CIA director, White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan.
Very much at issue will be White House policy on the assassination of American citizens deemed enemies of the state — the policy looks distressingly expansive, at least as outlined in a leaked memo — and the drone strike program.
A Senate Armed Services Committee vote on Chuck Hagel for defense secretary seems in the offing as well.
John McCain announced on Monday that he will oppose any attempt to filibuster against Hagel’s confirmation, though he is not backing Hagel at this point.
Meanwhile, support for gay marriage has burgeoned in the original mother country. The British parliament voted for same sex marriage with a whopping 400 to 175 vote in the House of Commons. David Cameron’s Conservatives split, 132 in favor, 139 opposed.
It’s hard to imagine that sort of support for gay marriage among Republicans in the U.S. Congress.
There was of course overwhelming support from Labour and the centrist Liberal Democrats. Now the House of Lords has to go along.
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.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger heartily endorsed the new UK Energy Efficiency Mission in this video for the Department of Energy and Climate Change which ran yesterday in London before British Prime Minister David Cameron’s appearance. Britain’s new program is modeled in part on California’s.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
“I don’t know where you come from.”
“A little fart of a town called Lonesome Dove. It’s in south Texas, on the Rio Grande.”
Brown appeared in the Central Valley early this morning, speaking at the Colusa Farm Show Breakfast at 8 AM.
I believe I have just seen a photo of him on a tractor, along with the famous Sutter Brown, who looks like he needs a new exercise regimen as I may just have mentioned.
Appearing at the roll-out of the big UPS electric vehicle fleet yesterday, Brown, in answer to a press question, described Texas Governor Rick Perry’s rather paltry little radio ad — a $24,000 statewide buy — soliciting California businesses to move to Texas as “not a burp. It’s barely a fart.”
Perry, who is in big political trouble in Texas, makes a very good foil for Brown. Texas trails the nation in high school graduates and health care, and Perry is, let’s say, not an adept debater.
In fact, Perry thoroughly embarrassed Texans with his inept presidential campaign.
Only 14% of Texans think Perry should run again for president, while 79% are opposed. Even among his fellow Republicans only 22% think Perry should run for President again with 66% against.
Just 31% of voters think Perry should seek reelection next year, while 62% think it’s time for him to step aside. Probably in favor of the state attorney general, who is a Republican. The AG easily holds the seat in trial match-ups with top Texas Democrats. Perry has a real fight if he manages to win re-nomination.
** COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER: IN THE SHADE OF IRAQ. … From my February 1st essay.
** THE STATE OF JERRY BROWN’S STATUS: AFTER THE STATE OF THE STATE. … From my January 30th essay.
** 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 $96 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $62 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 $18 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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