Hillary Clinton effectively parried opponents’ suggestions in last night’s Democratic presidential debate that she sounds like a Republican. But she got into a little trouble at the end on a question about drivers licenses for illegal immigrants.
** IRAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER, IN BAGHDAD, CALLS FOR MORE TALKS WITH U.S. In an move intriguing the day after Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, made a sudden trip to Tehran to meet with the top Iranian leadership, Iran’s foreign minister, Manoucher Mottaki, ventured to Baghdad for meetings with Iraq’s top leaders. While there, he called for renewed negotiations with the US.
What does it mean? Well, that’s always a dangerous question in these matters. What it could mean is that Russia, after giving its backing to Iran, is pushing Iran to be more forthcoming with the US on allowing inspections of its nuclear program and in dealing with the security situation in Iraq. The latter is certainly the way Iraqi leaders are playing it.
Or, it could be an attempt to muddy the waters. And it may be that some elements of the US government are so bent on Iran regime change, no matter how murky those scenarios might be, that they aren’t interested in this. In which case they may be dealing with the Russians, as well as terrorists around the world.
** OIL BREAKS $95 BARRIER FOR YET ANOTHER RECORD. Crude oil closed at another record price today, $95.24 per barrel. The latest move upward came on continuing insecurity around events in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan, as well as a decline in US inventories.
** CALIFORNIA CLIMATE CHANGE LAWSUIT DELAYED UNTIL NEXT WEEK. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown have decided to delay the filing of California’s promised lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency until next week. California officials, notably Schwarzenegger, are still mostly focused on the Southern California fires and their aftermath, which includes a substantial federal role.
California is suing the Bush Administration because it has failed to grant the customary waiver under the Clean Air Act to implement the state’s landmark law to cut tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. The bill, authored by then Assemblywoman Fran Pavley of LA and signed into law by then Governor Gray Davis, was enacted in 2002
** CLINTON DOMINATES THE FIRST HOUR AND FIFTY EIGHT MINUTES. Well, it just goes to show that you have to watch the entire movie. With two minutes to go last night, Hillary Clinton was in easy command of the latest Democratic presidential debate. John Edwards and, to a surprisingly lesser extent, Barack Obama, had taken some shots at the frontrunner but barely landed a blow. The most dangerous actors for the former first lady on the stage were the moderators, mainly Tim Russert. He asked her what she thought of New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s move to grant drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. This, of course, is an issue we have great experience with here in California.
Seemingly taken off guard, Clinton seemed to say it seemed a good idea to her. The other candidates were asked if they all agreed. For a moment, it seemed they did. Then Chris Dodd, ironically one of the most liberal of all over the past few decades, piped up. No, he said, “driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.” Some would say it’s a necessity, of course.
Revivified, John Edwards said that he, too, was against the idea. And hit Clinton for seeming to say that she was for the idea and against it.
Actually, there are at least two versions of the Spitzer proposal. Which as NWN has reported, was quite unpopular, at least in the first iteration.
First the once high-flying former New York attorney general proposed full-on drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. This is a loser idea politically, as former Governor Gray Davis can attest. Then he came up with a complex tiered systems of licenses. Which advocates for illegal immigrants, and of course the New York Times, attacked as potential prelude to a crackdown on illegals carrying the lesser licenses.
Be that as it may, that plan flies politically, as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who proposed his own variant of it a few years ago, knows. But Hillary seemed taken aback. Probably not a part of her extensive work-up for the debate.
Which gets into the question of whether or not she is too robo-pol for this. My guess is she is not, because she is not up against topflight competition.
** GANG RAPE CASE SETTLEMENT IN CASE CENTERING ON CARONA FRIEND’S SON. Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona says he is completely innocent of all the corruption charges brought againt him by the Bush Justice Department. But he won’t answer substantive questions, deferring to his lawyer. Meanwhile, he is staying on in his $200,000 a year job.
On Monday, the day before the federal charges against Carona were unsealed, a settlement in the civil suit surrounding the nasty gang rape case centering on the son of Carona’s rich benefactor and former assistant sheriff, Don Haidl, was announced. No details were available. One of the charges in the federal indictment is that Carona agreed to a get-out-of-jail free card for Haidl and his son.
** YET MORE FIELD POLL. The Field Poll of California voters continues to dribble out, with today’s installment for its subscribers — in the conventional journalism model, subscribed to by big daily newspapers and TV stations, this is assured inventory for many days — giving results on the term limits change initiative and the attempt by disgruntled casino tribes and the casino workers union to overturn deals struck by state government with other casino tribies.
The questions underlying this poll were first asked about three weeks ago, making the results more and more attenuated in this fast-paced society.
Support for the term limits change initiative — which would cut the total number of years allowed in the state Legislature from 14 to 12 but allow all those years to be served in one house — is down significantly. In August, at least in this poll, it was at 59%. Now it’s 49% to 31%.
The results are undoubtedly not helped by all the publicity about Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez’s practice of using campaign funds for extensive travel and gifts, including from the Louis Vuitton boutique in Paris. Of course, the people mostly criticizing him, conservative Republicans, haven’t a leg to stand on with their support for indicted Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona. But many California voters have come to the conclusion that the partisans of both persuasions are all jerks.
The casino tribe deals are backed by California voters, 52% to 35%.
The Madrid train bombings, shown here, were a great tragedy.
Today’s verdict was mixed.
** VERY MIXED VERDICTS IN MADRID JIHADIST BOMBINGS. A very mixed verdict today in the Madrid bombing trials. Most defendants were convicted, but mostly on lesser charges. But seven got off, including an accused ringleader.
The subway bombings in March 2004 killed nearly 200 and wounded another 1800. Coming a few days before the Spanish national elections, they led to one of Al Qaeda’s greatest victories: The downfall of the Spanish government that backed the invasion of Iraq. Spain quickly withdrew its troops in the aftermath.
Russia, now playing an intriguing role in the Iran crisis, just
test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.
** WHAT DID THE RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TELL AHMADINEJAD YESTERDAY IN TEHRAN? That’s the question of the day. Russia has cleverly made itself a key pivot of the current face-off between America and Iran. Though many experts find this more theatrical than real, since US military options with regard to Iran are more limited than the enthusiasts think.
** SCHWARZENEGGER WEBCAST THIS MORNING ON SOCAL FIRE CRISIS. Following a meeting in LA at the Southern California Association of Governments with a host of officials — though not his old friend, indicted Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold a live webcast briefing on the current state of the Southern California fire crisis at 10:15 AM.
** KATIE LEVINSON ON JOE BIDEN. Giuliani communications director Katie Levinson — who was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign communications director in 2006 — on line-of-the-Democratic-debate man Joe Biden: “As the pundits work to figure out who won the debate tonight, it’s pretty clear Rudy Giuliani was the real winner. It is increasingly apparent Rudy is the one the Democrats are most worried about running against in the general election.
“Senator Biden’s comments were of particular interest. The good Senator is quite correct that there are many differences between Rudy and him. For starters, Rudy rarely reads prepared speeches and when he does he isn’t prone to ripping off the text from others. And, Senator Biden certainly falls in to the bucket of those on the stage tonight who have never had executive experience and have never run anything. Wait, I take that back, Senator Biden has never run anything but his mouth.
“Such a desperate attack from Senator Biden is to be expected considering I – Katie Levinson – have a better chance of becoming President than he does.”
Perhaps so, Katie. But then, I might just have a better chance than you of becoming president.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia is fast re-emerging as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil prices are back up over $ 93 per barrel, boosted by the ongoing situations in Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran.
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