President Barack Obama presided Monday over the first meeting of his new-look Cabinet in a sobering climate of forced fiscal belt-tightening, urging humane management of spending cuts for communities and families that are “going to be hurting.”
** QUICK HITS. Potential 2016er Jeb Bush is putting out a new book that tries to split the difference on illegal immigrants. On the one hand, he would have a path to citizenship for those who arrived in the US as minors. But on the other, no pathway for those who arrived as adults. The latter of which sounds a fair amount like the “self deportation” business he criticized Mitt Romney for. … Ah, the contortionisms of party politics. My guess regarding the former Florida governor is it’s too soon for anyone named Bush to be running again for president. … The SpaceX resupply mission for the International Space Station, which had some early difficulties with maneuvering thrusters once in orbit, successfully docked with the ISS and delivered its supplies on Sunday after what turned out to be a very minimal delay.
** WILL JERRY BROWN BE UNOPPOSED FOR RE-ELECTION? Do you remember Elizabeth Emken? No? Let me refresh your memory. She was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in California. Last year, actually. Against Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She did not prevail.
Actually, though Feinstein’s job approval rating had notably slumped, she got 62.5 percent of the vote to Emken’s 37.5 percent. DiFi barely did any campaign events and ran no ads.
Brown’s numbers are up. He is in a triumphant situation after winning the landslide passage of Proposition 30 and presenting a balanced budget ending the state’s chronic budget crisis, a budget which finally eliminated the $26 billion budget deficit he had to contend with on taking office just over two years ago. He did this by following through on his promised combination of budget cuts and revenue increases approved by the voters.
Who do the Republicans have to go up against him?
The California Republican Party held its state convention this past weekend in Sacramento. Did any sane and serious candidate emerge to run against Brown?
Though Republican sources insist that a “legitimate” opponent will be found and offered. Which is not to be confused with a candidate with an actual chance of defeating Brown.
Some new names were chatted up, including former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado — who had an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee and told the San Francisco Chronicle he’s seriously considering a gubernatorial run — and Congressman Darrell Issa.
I can see the former, as a sort of repositioning statement, though little more. I can’t see the latter at all.
Maldonado was appointed to the lieutenant governorship by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but lost to Gavin Newsom in the 2010 Democratic landslide led by Brown. The former state senator then lost a congressional race last November by 10 points.
Issa, the very pugnacious super-rich chairman of the House Oversight Committee funded the signature gathering to qualify the 2003 recall, but pulled out of the race himself after being effectively roughed up by Democratic opposition researchers, with Schwarzenegger waiting in the wings.
Maldonado is a nice, intelligent guy. I’ve had lunch with him. But I wonder what he would find to run on against Brown.
They basically agree on most of the big issues. Maldonado helped devise the 2009 budget compromise, which included a big temporary tax hike. Brown tried for six months to extend that deal and couldn’t find the Republican legislative votes he needed to even get the extension on the ballot. After that, he turned to his own initiative, which ended up with a significant temporary tax surcharge on the rich. Maldonado and his friends are probably against that, but anyone who tries to run on cutting taxes for the rich is, ah, how to put this diplomatically?
As Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appointed lieutenant governor, Maldonado also championed the controversial high-speed rail program, as well as the state’s landmark climate change and renewable energy programs so hated by the right-wing. He wouldn’t run to the right of Brown on social issues or immigration, as that would defeat the whole modernizing impulse for Republicans.
He might try to run on reforming the public pension system, but Brown occupies that space, too, having backed the reforms that Schwarzenegger and Maldonado pushed, and having gotten more expansive if still modest reforms of his own. But even if Brown wasn’t already there politically, the polling I’ve seen indicates that the public isn’t terribly concerned about the issue.
Republicans have until next year to come up with a candidate. But at every state convention at this stage of the process in the past, there was a major candidate or two on hand to do the developmental work that anyone must do to mount a serious campaign.
Nevertheless, the Republicans will have a candidate against Brown, who of course has not announced his intentions but gives every sign of going for an historic fourth term. Failure to do so would lead to an even greater collapse for Republicans down-ticket than they had in 2012, when Emken ran against Feinstein and Mitt Romney was crushed in the race for the Golden State’s electoral votes by President Barack Obama.
While Feinstein was not technically unopposed for reelection, she was effectively unopposed.
If the GOP’s capable new party chairman, former state Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte, has any hope of instituting his “nuts and bolts” agenda of rebuilding the party, he has to find a standard-bearer to put up against Brown.
Top Republicans tell me the goal is to find a “legitimate” candidate to run against Brown to keep the bottom from falling out for the rest of the ticket. When I likened that hoped-for candidate to the Washington Generals — that’s the team that always played and lost to the Harlem Globetrotters — they didn’t protest.
Before the convention, a couple of others had surfaced. …
** NEW SURVEY: ASIAN-AMERICANS ARE 2 TO 1 DEMOCRATS OVER REPUBLICANS. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates the ever looming crisis of the future for the Republican Party.
Asian-Americans identify as Democrats by a 2 to 1 ration, 57% to 28%. It’s slightly higher among younger Asians, with 61% identifying/leaning Democratic.
Let’s see. First blacks, then Latinos, now Asians …
At some point, which I believe we are beginning to see in the rear view mirror, basing a political party on older conservative white religionists in the South is a highly problematic concept.
But before hard-core Dems break out the bunting, the data does show show how things can go, er, south for them. By taking too much for granted.
Asian-Americans have a very high independent component, which leans Democratic but eschews the party per se. Take that away and the Democratic edge is greatly reduced.
Asian-Americans — who were a key part, if sometimes overlooked, of President Barack Obama’s 2012 electoral coalition — solidly back the Democratic Party, with 57% identifying as or leaning Democratic, compared with 28% identifying as or leaning Republican. Thirteen percent are “pure” independents. However, the data suggest that a substantial portion of Asian-Americans are not entirely wedded to either of the major political parties: 46% first describe themselves as independent or other, and only when asked if they “lean” Republican or Democratic does the Democratic Party garner its majority support within this group. …
Republicans did not perform well among Asian-Americans in the 2012 election, losing this group by an estimated 72% to 26% margin. Asian-Americans make up a small but growing portion of the total electorate, probably 3% in 2012. While both parties and the media have focused highly after the election on the similarly Democratically skewed Hispanic vote, these data are a reminder that the Republican Party suffers from a competitive problem with this minority bloc as well. …
Secretary of State John Kerry met Sunday in Cairo with USC-educated Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, bearing $250 million in aid and the message that Egyptian stability is key. Egypt easily weathered what some styled a new uprising early this year, but needs to play a lynchpin role helping keep peace between Israel — which still doesn’t have a new coalition government six weeks after its fractious national election — and the Arab world.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … WILL JERRY BROWN BE UNOPPOSED FOR RE-ELECTION?
** OBAMA TODAY AND THE WEEK AHEAD. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then made a personnel announcement in the East Room.
There he appointed three Cabinet members: MIT professor Ernest Moniz to be the next secretary of energy. Deputy EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency. And Walmart Foundation president Sylvia Mathews Burwell to direct the Office of Management and Budget.
Moniz heads a major energy project at MIT criticized by environmentalists for its heavy funding from fossil fuel energy companies. This will help further Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy, but doesn’t provide an answer pleasing to enviros concerned about the Keystone XL pipeline project.
McCarthy has decades in the public sector at the state and federal levels as an advisor and regulator and is said to be quite serious about climate change. As environmental commissioner in Connecticut, she helped run a Northeastern carbon trading market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Burwell went into the big corporate foundation world after serving as deputy director of OMB in the Clinton Administration, serving first as a top hand at the Gates Foundation before landing the Walmart spot.
At 10 AM Pacific, Obama holds a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room.
A light week in the public schedule now that the sequester has landed with a rather dull and soft thud after all the sturm und drang.
On Monday, Obama will hold a Cabinet Meeting at the White House. On Tuesday, he will attend meetings at the White House.
On Wednesday, Obama will welcome the national college football champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide to the White House to honor their 15th national title.
On Thursday and Friday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
And on Saturday, Obama will deliver remarks at that Beltway insider institution, the Gridiron Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. His remarks will be at least arguably humorous, as is the standard for the occasion.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: 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.
The world’s largest light sculpture will live for two years on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge starting on March 5. Almost two miles miles wide and 500 feet high, it uses 25,000 white individually programmed LED lights to create a dazzling display. The bay-spanning Bridge will open its rebuilt section this fall.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Also … No serious opponent for his re-election after the California Republican Party convention over the weekend.
Though there are some scenarios I’ll run through.
** SECRETARY HAGEL AND THE SENATE’S MASSIVE WASTE OF TIME. … From my February 27th essay.
** OSCARMANIA! (OR NOT): A POLITICAL STEW ON LIGHT SIMMER. … From my February 25th essay.
** THE HAILSTORM AROUND HAGEL POINTS UP THE SYSTEM’S DYSFUNCTIONALITY. … From my February 21st essay.
** THE ANTI-HAGEL GAMBITS: CLEVER, BUT NOT REALLY THAT CLEVER. … From my February 15th essay.
** WITH LITTLE POLITICAL OR POLICY IMPACT AND DUMBED DOWN LANGUAGE, DOES THE STATE OF THE UNION EVEN MATTER? … From my February 12th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS FUN (IN NEW FOIL RICK PERRY) AND MORE THAN A BIT OF ILLUMINATION. … From my February 7th column.
** 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 $90 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $57 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 $23 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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