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Chuck Norris’s ‘facts’ on Iraq: ‘Morale is up — way up!’

Mon, 2007-09-17 07:50

Chuck Norris, “six-time world professional karate champion, movie and TV star,” is visiting troops in Iraq. WorldNetDaily reports:

Norris’ pastor, Todd DuBord, who is part of the traveling team that arrived last week, says Norris so far has seen more than 10,000 soldiers, “shaking hands with nearly every one!”

Norris said in an e-mail from Iraq two things have become very apparent as he has traveled from base to base: The “surge is working” and “morale is up — way up!” […]

“It is so much safer and more relaxed, particularly in the Al Anbar province,” Norris said. “It is so much better than often conveyed by the liberal media.”

In a previous WorldNetDaily column, Chuck Norris wrote that evolution is “not real.”

Colbert: Fighting global warming means ‘the earth wins.’

Mon, 2007-09-17 07:11

At last night’s Emmy Awards, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert debated whether or not celebrity awards shows should be cancelled in order to help combat climate change:

STEWART: Perhaps even the very act of gathering tonight for an awards show, no matter how green, is wasteful. Maybe we shouldn’t even have award shows.

COLBERT: WHAT? Jon. If entertainers stop publicly congratulating each other, then the earth wins.

STEWART: You’re right, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. We can’t give in to that bastard. But what if winners were notified by e-mail or phone? And we didn’t have to —

COLBERT: Like common MacArthur Genius Grant winners, or Nobel Prize winners? No, no, not on my watch, Jon.

Field’s censored comments not technically ‘profane.’

Mon, 2007-09-17 06:41

Last night, Sally Field began an anti-war acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards, stating, “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no –” But Fox then cut off her sound and pointed the camera away from the stage, silencing the rest of her sentence: “god-damned wars in the first place.” Tom O’Neil of the LA Times writes that technically, there was nothing profane about her comments:

Technically, Field’s censored words are not profane. A 2004 FCC ruling specifically stated no objection to the use of “god damn” on TV when making a judgment on the uproar over Bono swearing at the Golden Globes in 2003 where he used more colorful language.

See the FCC ruling HERE.

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Tom Shales notes, “If Fox censored Field for political reason, it would be an ugly first in the history of the Emmys.”

ThinkFast: September 17, 2007

Mon, 2007-09-17 06:03

The Iraqi Interior Ministry is pulling the license of Blackwater USA, an American security firm, after the company was “allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade.” “We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell “heads to Capitol Hill this week” seeking to extend the government’s surveillance authority. “McConnell is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.”

While Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) predicts that a federal ban on job discrimination against GLBT workers “will win House approval in coming weeks,” he and other gay rights supporters are “less optimistic” about the Senate, “where they would need 60 votes” to overcome stall tactics from conservatives, such as a filibuster.

In a “bluntly worded” cable, Ambassador Ryan Crocker “said the admission of Iraqi refugees to the United States remains bogged down by ‘major bottlenecks’ resulting from security reviews.” “About 2 million Iraqis are displaced inside Iraq, and an estimated 2.2 million more have fled” to neighboring nations.

Joel A. Scanlon has been named director of strategic initiatives, taking over the ‘think tank’ within the White House long led by the departed Peter H. Wehner.” Scanlon “is a former research assistant to syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.” (more…)

Fox censors Sally Field’s anti-war speech at Emmy’s.

Sun, 2007-09-16 20:30

At tonight’s Emmy Awards show, the audience cheered Sally Field’s acceptance speech, which recognized the mothers of U.S. troops. “Surely this [award] belongs to all the mothers of the world,” she stated. “May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised. Especially to the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait. Wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm’s way, and from war. I am proud to be one of those women.”

Field then continued, “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no –” But the Fox Emmycast cut off her sound and pointed the camera away from the stage, silencing the rest of her sentence: “god-damned wars in the first place.” Watch it:

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Al Gore wins Emmy for Current TV.

Sun, 2007-09-16 19:47

Tonight, Al Gore won an Emmy for Current TV, his global television network that allows viewers to “create and influence what airs on TV.” The audience gave Gore a long standing ovation as he and his Current TV partner, Joel Hyatt, walked onstage to receive the award for “interactive television services.” From Gore’s thank you speech:

[W]e are trying to open up the television medium so that viewers can help to make television and join the conversation of democracy and reclaim American democracy by talking about the choices we have to make

Watch it:

In February, Gore’s film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Oscar for Best Documentary.

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Lantos agrees with Greenspan: Iraq war was largely about oil.

Sun, 2007-09-16 12:00

In his new book, The Age of Turbulence, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan asserts, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows. The Iraq war is largely about oil.” Today on CNN’s Late Edition, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) said he agreed with Greenspan “to a large extent,” adding, “I think it is very remarkable that it took Alan Greenspan all these many years and being out of office for stating the obvious.” Watch it:

UPDATE: Defense Secretary Robert Gates rejected Greenspan’s claim. “I wasn’t here for the decision-making process that initiated it, that started the war,” Gates said. But he added, “I know the same allegation was made about the Gulf War in 1991, and I just don’t believe it’s true.”

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Bush meets with ‘friendly circle’ of military bloggers.

Sun, 2007-09-16 11:07

On Friday, President Bush “sat down for a round-table interview” with military bloggers and talked about the war in Iraq. As the Washington Post notes, the blogs at the meeting were “generally pro-Bush and pro-military, and the ensuing reports were highly sympathetic to the president”:

Matthew Burden, a former Army officer who blogs under the name Blackfive, raved about how Bush slapped his hand and called him “brutha.”

“The President was very intelligent, razor sharp, warm, focused, emotional (especially about his dad), and genuine,” Blackfive wrote. “Even more so than this cynical Chicago Boy expected. I was overwhelmed by the sincerity — it wasn’t staged.” […]

When it was all over, the bloggers seemed wowed. “All in all, it was an amazing day for and one I’ll never forget,” Carroll wrote. “In fact, I’d rank the event a close second to the time I sat in with Cheap Trick. It was that good.”

Gates Raises Possibility Of Deploying More National Guard And Reserve Forces To Iraq

Sun, 2007-09-16 09:18

Today on ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos challenged President Bush’s assertion that the troop drawdown is because of “success” in Iraq. He asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “Wasn’t the drawdown a matter of military necessity?”

Gates insisted that the military was not broken, noting the large size of the armed forces: “After all, we’ve got 2.1 million men and women in the United States armed forces. If the circumstances required it, other choices could have been made.”

Stephanopoulos continued to push Gates, asking, “So if General Petraeus comes back in March and says we’re making some progress, but we can’t continue to draw down right now, where would the troops come from?” Gates tried to back away from answering a “hypothetical,” but eventually conceded that they would potentially have to deploy more National Guard and Reserve forces. Watch it:

The United States may have “2.1 million men and women” in the armed forces, but 1.6 million of them have already served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Approximately 525,000 troops have served more than once. Additionally, all “38 of the Army’s available combat units are deployed, have or are just returning or are already scheduled to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere - leaving the U.S. without any available combat-ready units.”

Despite Gates’s claims, several current and former Bush administration officials have publicly warned for several months that current troop levels could not be sustained past the summer:

Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace: Pace “is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half” and “is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military.” [8/24/07]

Army Chief of Staff George Casey: “Right now we have in place deployment and mobilization policies that allow us to meet the current demands. If the demands don’t go down over time, it will become increasingly difficult for us to provide the trained and ready forces.” [8/20/07]

Commanding General Odierno: “We know that the surge of forces will come at least through April at the latest, April of ‘08, and then we’ll have to start to reduce…we know that they will start to reduce in April of ‘08 at the latest.” [8/26/07]

Army Secretary Peter Geren:“[T]he service’s top official, recently said he sees ‘no possibility’ of extending the duty tours of US troops beyond 15 months.” [8/30/07]

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell: “[T]hey probably can’t keep this up at this level past the middle of next year, I would guess. This is a tremendous burden on our troops.” [7/18/07]

Gates’s suggestion that the National Guard and Reserve could be further called upon is also unrealistic. The nation’s governors have confirmed that the Iraq war is straining their states’ abilities to respond to national emergencies. According to a recent report by a congressional commission, nearly “90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated ‘not ready,” largely “as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars’ worth of equipment.”

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Gates: I Would Recommend That The President Veto Giving Troops More Time At Home

Sun, 2007-09-16 08:14

The Washington Post reported this morning that one of the “best opportunities” for war critics “to change policy” in Iraq is an amendment by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), which would “mandate that home leaves for troops last as long as their deployments.” The measure failed in July to break a Republican filibuster, “but it appears to be gaining momentum in the Senate.”

On Fox News Sunday this morning, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he would recommend that the President veto the bill should it pass. “Yes, I would,” said Gates when asked by host Chris Wallace, calling it a “well-intentioned idea” that would “pose greater risk to our troops”:

GATES: I think that it’s a well-intentioned idea. I think it’s really, pretty much, a back door effort to get the President to accelerate the drawdown, so that it’s an automatic kind of thing rather than based on the conditions in Iraq, with all the consequences that I talked about earlier. I think, if as I believe, the President would never approve such a bill. It would mean, if it were enacted, we would have force management problems that would be extremely difficult and in fact create, I think affect combat effectiveness, and perhaps pose greater risk to our troops.

Watch it:

Later in the show, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), whose son is set to deploy to Iraq in 2008, responded to Gates, arguing that the Webb measure is necessary because the “long-term consequence” of “these kind of deployments is absolutely disastrous for the United States of America and for the United States military.”

“If you don’t figure out how to get these folks some time home, you are gonna break, break this military,” said Biden. He also said that Gates’ concerns were overblown because “we can do what we need to do in Iraq with significantly fewer troops”:

BIDEN: What are the consequences of continuing to do what we’re doing with essentially the way in which we’re deploying these troops? As the military said we’re breaking, we’re breaking the United States military. Flat breaking it. And what we’re doing is we’re going to end up in a situation where you don’t have people signing up. you’re gonna end up having to go to draft. This long-term consequence, keeping these kind of deployments is absolutely disastrous for the United States of America and for the United States military. It’s not a good thing the other way either. You choose two very bad alternatives. One very bad and one okay. If you don’t figure out how to get these folks some time home, you are gonna break, break this military. That’s what this is about. and we can do what we need to do in Iraq with significantly fewer troops. That is my contention and the contention of a whole lot of other people outside this administration.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army Chief of Staff, and other leading generals agree with Biden that the military has been stretched to a breaking point. The Webb amendment is a crucial first step towards guaranteeing it doesn’t actually break.

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Arctic ice drops to record low levels.

Sat, 2007-09-15 16:28

AP reports:

Arctic ice has shrunk to the lowest level on record, new satellite images show, raising the possibility that the Northwest Passage that eluded famous explorers will become an open shipping lane.

The European Space Agency said nearly 200 satellite photos this month taken together showed an ice-free passage along northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, and ice retreating to its lowest level since such images were first taken in 1978. […]

A U.N. panel on climate change has predicted that polar regions could be virtually free of ice by the summer of 2070 because of rising temperatures and sea ice decline, ESA noted.

(HT: Garance)

Albright: Bush ‘must think we’re all idiots.’

Sat, 2007-09-15 15:44

Yesterday in Iowa, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that Iraq will “go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign policy. That means that I am acknowledging it is worse than Vietnam.” She added, “I don’t think I have ever seen the world in such a mess.”

Former judge Michael Mukasey top AG pick.

Sat, 2007-09-15 14:50

AMERICAblog notes that CNN is reporting that Michael Mukasey appears to be the administration’s top pick to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. Mukasey is a former federal judge who “presided over many high-profile trials, including that of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 co-defendants, who were charged with plotting to destroy New York City landmarks.”

UPDATE: Mukasey also issued the first ruling in the Jose Padilla case after 9/11. While he ruled that “President Bush did have the authority to hold Mr. Padilla as an enemy combatant without charging him for a crime,” he also “ruled that the government must allow Mr. Padilla to see his attorneys.”

UPDATE II: Mukasey is an adviser to Rudy Guiliani’s presidential campaign.

UPDATE III: AP reports that some conservatives are already “drafting a strategy to oppose him.”

Montana conservative attacks fallen soldier over op-ed.

Sat, 2007-09-15 14:09

Earlier this week, Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance Gray, who recently co-wrote a New York Times op-ed critical of the Iraq debate, were killed in a vehicle accident in Western Baghdad. The two fallen soldiers have since been hailed for serving their country and speaking out on Iraq. But one former conservative state Senator in Sgt. Gray’s home state of Montana, Dave Rye, has chosen to attack him for the op-ed, claiming he and his fellow soldiers weren’t intelligent enough to write it on their own:

Pardon my skepticism, and certainly no disrespect for the dead Montana soldier, but in my time in the Army I never heard such a word as “recalcitrant” escape the lips of any Staff Sergeant. I doubt if it’s spoken all that much in Ismay, either. The soldiers had the help and probably the encouragement of a writer with an agenda, from a newspaper which has always had one. Its continually declining circulation now mainly consists of those who want desperately to consider themselves sophisticated as well as compassionate, even if that means always branding the U.S. as the chief villain on the world stage—in fact, especially if it does.

Greenspan: Bush ‘abandoned’ fiscal constraint.

Sat, 2007-09-15 10:00

In his new memoir to be released Monday, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan “levels unusually harsh criticism at President Bush…in his new book, arguing that Bush abandoned the central conservative principle of fiscal restraint.” President Clinton, on the other hand, he calls a “risk taker” who had shown a “preference for dealing in facts.”

UPDATE: Greenspan also writes, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”

Rumsfeld: ‘I Have Not Even Attempted’ To Follow What’s Going On In Iraq, Too Busy ‘Arranging My Papers’

Sat, 2007-09-15 08:45

In an interview with Fox News last night, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — one of the key architects of the Iraq disaster — was asked whether he currently “pays attention to specifics about what’s going on day to day in Iraq.”

Rumsfeld responded by claiming it’s impossible to follow events when you’re “on the outside.” He then added that he doesn’t have time to follow what’s going on in Iraq because he’s too busy with administrative tasks:

I’ve been very busy doing a series of things: setting up an office and hiring staff, arranging my papers to give to the Library of Congress, setting up a new foundation…

Rumsfeld re-emphasized the point, concluding his answer by stating: “So I’ve been busy doing those kinds of things and I have not even attempted stay as current as one would if you were in the government, constantly seeing all the intelligence and information.” Watch it:

The Hoover Institution recently announced that Rumsfeld would join the think tank as an “ideology and terror expert.” Rumsfeld has previously announced he is working on setting up a new foundation for the next generation of Donald Rumsfelds to study and grow. He is also in the process of authoring a book and was reportedly shopping it around in the hopes of receiving a “large cash advance.”

Book publishers had expressed “tepid interest” in a Rumsfeld memoir that talked about his six years under Bush. The New York Post reported Rumsfeld was re-tooling the book, and “he now plans to make it a full-blown autobiography rather than simply a treatment of his six years in the cabinet.” Asked if he was writing a book, Rumsfeld told Fox News:

I might. I’m thinking about it. A lot of people are urging me to do it. I’ve not made a decision. If I did, it would not be a quick-and-dirty thing, and the money from it, I would put into the foundation that I’ve just established — in the process of establishing.

It would probably be a memoir that would run the full span, back through the Depression and World War II and my life as opposed to the last 15 minutes.

Rumsfeld has too many things on his plate to worry about the catastrophe he helped create in Iraq.

Video Compilation: ‘Loyal Bushies’ Throw Lavish Farewell Ceremony For Alberto Gonzales

Fri, 2007-09-14 16:58

Today marked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ final day in office. Several top Justice Department and Bush administration officials gathered this afternoon at the Great Hall in the Department of Justice to bid the Attorney General a fond farewell. Senior Justice officials heaped unabashed praise on Gonzales.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury:

“[H]undreds of innocent human beings have been freed from an unimagineable hell on Earth.”

Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth Wainstein:

“He gave us the authority to conduct comprehensive oversight on all aspects of national security investigation.”

United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas Johnny Sutton:

“When he got to the part about protecting children, his eyes would light up.”

When it came for Gonzales’ time to speak, his voiced “crack[ed] with emotion” as he proclaimed his “highest regard and admiration for the employees of the department.” Watch highlights from the ceremony:

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Gonzales leaves his post with an approval rating of 28 percent. The Washington Post reported today, “It will be the first time in more than a decade that Gonzales will not be serving his friend and longtime patron, President Bush.”

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$13,000 for brownies and cookies at the Justice Dept.

Fri, 2007-09-14 15:24

Today, an internal Justice Department audit exposed excessive spending on lavish DoJ parties and events. Some highlights:

An internal Justice audit, released Friday, showed the department spent nearly $7 million to plan, host or send employees to 10 conferences over the last two years. This included paying $4 per meatball at one lavish dinner and spreading an average of $25 worth of snacks around to each participant at a movie-themed party.

There was plenty, too, for those needing to satisfy a sweet tooth.

More than $13,000 was spent on cookies and brownies for 1,542 people who attended a four-day “Weed and Seed” conference in August 2005, according to the audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. And a “networking” session replete with butterfly shrimp, coconut lobster skewers and Swedish meatballs at a Community Oriented Policing Services conference in July 2006 cost more than $60,000.

Cornyn Embraces Bush’s Plan For Iraq, Earlier Criticized Warner’s Same Proposal As ‘Curious’

Fri, 2007-09-14 14:32

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has released a statement praising President Bush’s speech on Iraq last night, saying he is “pleased” that “troops will come home before the year’s end”:

Our commanding officer in Iraq, General Petraeus, came before the Congress this week and made clear that the surge is working; military progress is being made to the extent that some troop withdrawals can begin in the months ahead. I’m pleased that President Bush is listening to his commanders on the ground and with his announcement this evening that some troops will come home before the year’s end.

Yet last month, Cornyn was adamantly opposed to this drawdown. On Aug. 23, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) called on Bush to announce on Sept. 15 that approximately 5,000 troops “could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year.” Cornyn immediately put out a statement blasting Warner’s proposal:

It’s a little curious to me that people are proposing a change in strategy when in fact the current strategy appears now to be working.

Bush’s announcement last night mirrors Warner’s proposal. Yet all of a sudden — just a couple of weeks later — Cornyn thinks it’s a great idea to “change” strategy even while he still believes the current strategy is working.

Cornyn’s hypocrisy resembles that of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who called Bush’s Iraq announcement “wise,” after criticizing Warner’s plan as “irresponsible.”

Thousands of ’surge’ troops may remain past July ‘08.

Fri, 2007-09-14 14:31

Last night, President Bush announced that because the “troop surge is working,” he would be pulling out roughly 23,700 troops by mid-July 2008 and returning the U.S. force in Iraq to pre-surge levels. Yet as the AP notes today, the United States may actually “wind up with thousands more troops in Iraq next summer than before the buildup of forces he ordered in January.” Salon’s Tim Grieve has more.