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Hunter: I Will Try To ‘Cut Off Funds To Columbia University’ Because Of Ahmadinejad Speech

Mon, 2007-09-24 15:02

Earlier today, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said in a statement that if Columbia University President Lee Bollinger “follows through with this hosting of the leader of Iran, I will move in Congress to cut off every single type of Federal Funding to Columbia University.”

Introduced as a “petty and cruel dictator” by Bollinger, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did indeed speak at the Ivy League university, where he outlandishly claimed that there are no gay men or women in Iran.

Appearing on Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto after the speech, Hunter said that he plans to follow through on his threat and will now “initiate legislation, and try to get as many people as can see it my way, to cut off funds to Columbia University.” Watch it:

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Hunter is not the only lawmaker looking to punish Columbia and Bollinger for hosting a speaker whom they dislike. The New York Sun reports today that state and city lawmakers in New York are considering punitively withholding public funds from the school as well.

Glenn Greenwald asked:

Is there anyone who fails to see how dangerous and improper this is — not to mention unconstitutional — that government officials threaten and punish universities for hosting speakers whom the officials dislike?

Even President Bush doesn’t think Columbia should be punished for hosting Ahmadinejad, telling Fox News today that “I guess it’s okay with me” and that America is “confident enough to let a person express his views.” Everyone … except a host of right-wingers who cower when faced with the “views” of people they dislike.

Fox bangs Iran war drums.

Mon, 2007-09-24 14:37

In an interview with Newt Gingrich today on Fox News, The Big Story With John Gibson moved away from the shot of Gingrich and the interviewer to display a screenshot stating, “Is war the only way to stop Mahmoud?”:

Rice’s Waning Influence: Networks Reject Secretary Of State As Sunday Show Guest

Mon, 2007-09-24 13:17

Over the past two years, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on the Sunday talk shows 30 times, making her the most second frequent guest after Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).

But that may be changing. In his Washington Post column, Howard Kurtz reveals that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is no longer a “prize catch” for the Sunday talk shows. She was recently turned down by both CBS and NBC:

The secretary of state has always been considered a prize catch for the Sunday talk shows. But when the White House offered Condoleezza Rice for appearances eight days ago, after a week focused on Iraq, two programs took the unusual step of turning her down.

Executives at CBS and NBC say Rice no longer seems to be a key player on the war and that her cautious style makes her a frustrating guest.

“I expected we’d just get a repetition of the administration’s talking points, which had already been well circulated,” says Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” who questioned two senators instead. “We’d had a whole week of that with General Petraeus and President Bush.”

Television media aren’t the only ones uninterested in Rice. A few months ago, every single major newspaper turned it down an op-ed by Rice on Lebanon. Price Floyd, formerly the State Department’s director of media affairs, recounted that the piece was filled glowing references to President Bush’s wise leadership and “read like a campaign document.”

Recent reports indicate that Rice’s influence within the White House is also waning, giving way to the more extreme policies of Cheney and his allies. A Newsweek article in June found that Cheney’s national-security team had “been actively challenging Rice’s Iran strategy in recent months.” In April, Rice advocated that five members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard be freed from captivity, but she was overruled after Cheney “made the firmest case for keeping them.”

These reports contrast when Rice first became Secretary of State. The media gushingly predicted she would succeed because she and Bush “know each other so well they have conversations based on body language” and speculated that she may even run for president in 2008.

This past Sunday, none of the five network talk shows turned down Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Fox.

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Ahmadinejad denies existence of gays in Iran.

Mon, 2007-09-24 12:51

In his speech at Columbia University today, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was asked about the treatment of gays in Iran. Ahmadinejad responded, “In Iran, we dont have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you we have it.” Watch it:

“Some international gay rights groups believe that more than 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979,” notes

NY lawmakers threaten to punish Columbia over speech.

Mon, 2007-09-24 12:25

State and city lawmakers in New York are threatening to punish Columbia University for hosting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who spoke at the Ivy League university earlier this afternoon, by potentially “withholding public funds from the school“:

“[Columbia President Lee] Bollinger made a big mistake, and there should be consequences for him for making that decision,” the chairman of the New York City Council’s Finance Committee, David Weprin, said in an interview. “We should look at everything involving Columbia, whether it be capital projects, city and state, or other related things that we do in the city for them,” he said. […]

“It’s not going to go away just because this episode ends. Columbia University has to know … that they will be penalized,” an assemblyman of Brooklyn, Dov Hikind, who also attended the rally, said.

“Is there anyone who fails to see how dangerous and improper this is — not to mention unconstitutional — that government officials threaten and punish universities for hosting speakers whom the officials dislike?,” comments Glenn Greenwald.

Alaska + Texas:

Mon, 2007-09-24 11:58

The area — half a million square miles — of ice melted in the Arctic “compared to its last record low just two years ago.” The current rate puts the region “on track for an ice free Arctic by 2030, decades ahead of the climate models.”

Bush: We Can’t Spend $22 Billion On America Because We Need $200 Billion For Iraq War

Mon, 2007-09-24 11:04

The Democratic leadership in Congress is set to pass a host of domestic funding bills that would exceed Bush’s request by $22 billion. The extra funding would help go towards veterans health care, infrastructure improvements, education, and other domestic priorities.

Speaking to business leaders at a White House event this morning, Bush railed against the relatively modest increase in spending, arguing that $22 billion is “a lot of money”:

Some in Congress will tell you that $22 billion is not a lot of money. As business leaders, you know better. As a matter of fact, $22 billion is larger than the annual revenues of most Fortune 500 companies. The $22 billion is only for the first year. With every passing year the number gets bigger and bigger, and so over the next five years the increase in federal spending would add up to $205 billion.

Watch it:

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Bush warned that spending increases, which could add up to over $200 billion over five years, would be “taking money out of the pocket” of Americans who need to “pay their mortgages or pay for their children going to college.” Unfortunately, Bush failed to appreciate the irony in his remarks.

While complaining of modest spending increases on much-needed domestic funding priorities, Bush is far less concerned about the impact of spending $200 billion in the next year alone on a disastrous war in Iraq:

President Bush plans to ask lawmakers next week to approve another massive spending measure — totaling nearly $200 billion — to fund the war through next year, Pentagon officials said.

It shouldn’t take a “CEO President” to figure out that $200 billion is greater than $22 billion.

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Transcript: (more…)

Top 100 effects of global warming.

Mon, 2007-09-24 10:49

Mic Check, the radio prep service of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, released a report today highlighting the “Top 100 Effects of Global Warming.” Some examples:

– Say Goodbye to Pinot Noir: The reason you adore pinot noir is that it comes from a notoriously temperamental thin-skinned grape that thrives in cool climates. Warmer temperatures are already damaging the pinots from Oregon, “baking away” the grape’s berry flavors. [Bloomberg]

– Mediterranean Sea? Try the Dead Sea.: Italian experts say thanks to faster evaporation and rising temperatures, the Mediterranean Sea is quickly turning into “a salty and stagnant sea.” The hot, salty water “could doom many of the sea’s plant and animal species and ravage the fishing industry.” [AP]

– Farewell to the Arctic Fox: The White Arctic Fox used to rule the colder climes, but as temperatures warm up, its more aggressive cousin, the Red Fox, is moving North and taking over. [Wired]

– War in Somalia: In April, a group of 11 former U.S. military leaders released a report charging that the war in Somalia during the 1990s stemmed in part from national resource shortages caused by global warming. [Washington Post]

Podhoretz Granted Secret Access To Lobby Bush On ‘The Case For Bombing Iran’

Mon, 2007-09-24 09:52

Norman Podhoretz, the “patriarch of neoconservatism,” recently published a book entitled “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism,” staunchly supporting the Iraq war and pushing for war with Iran. In June, Podhoretz published a controversial piece in Commentary magazine titled “The Case for Bombing Iran.

The Politico reports today that President Bush has been listening to Podhoretz’s radical agenda, recently enlisting Podhoretz to discuss his views on Iran. In a meeting that “was not on the president’s public schedule,” Bush and Karl Rove “sat listening to Norman Podhoretz for roughly 45 minutes at the White House”:

Rove was silent throughout, though he took notes. The president listened diligently, Podhoretz said as he recounted the conversation months later, but he “didn’t tip his hand.”

“I did say to [the president], that people ask: Why are you spending all this time negotiating sanctions? Time is passing. I said, my friend [Robert] Kagan wrote a column which he said you were giving ‘futility its chance.’ And both he and Karl Rove burst out laughing.

“It struck me,” Podhoretz added, “that if they really believed that there was a chance for these negotiations and sanctions to work, they would not have laughed. They would have got their backs up and said, ‘No, no, it’s not futile, there’s a very good chance.’”

President Bush has loyally supported Podhoretz’s agenda in the past. In 2004, he bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — on Podhoretz, calling him a “fierce intellectual man” with “fine writing and a “great love for our country.”

Today, Podhoretz’s calls for bombing Iran are being echoed in the administration. According to Newsweek, Vice President Cheney considered a plan to allow Israel to conduct missile strikes against Iran “in an effort to draw a military response from Iran, which could in turn spark a U.S. offensive against targets in the Islamic Republic.”

Podhoretz has argued that “if we were to bomb the Iranians as I hope and pray we will…we’ll unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world that will make the anti-Americanism we’ve experienced so far look like a lovefest.” By enlisting Podhoretz’s advice, President Bush is demonstrating that there isn’t any idea too radical for him to consider.

More than 20 retired generals speak out against Iraq war.

Mon, 2007-09-24 09:39

“In op-ed pieces, interviews and TV ads, more than 20 retired U.S. generals have broken ranks with the culture of salute and keep it in the family. Instead, they are criticizing the commander in chief and other top civilian leaders who led the nation into what the generals believe is a misbegotten and tragic war.” Most “were political conservatives who had voted for George W. Bush,” but “they felt betrayed by Bush and his advisers.”

Greenspan: Because Of Oil, Saddam Was ‘Far More Important To Get Out Than Bin Laden’

Mon, 2007-09-24 08:35

In his new memoir, The Age of Turbulence, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan writes that he is “saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Greenspan later clarified his remark in an interview with the Washington Post, saying that while oil was not “the administration’s motive,” it was “essential” to remove Saddam Hussein because of it.

In an interview with Charlie Rose last week, Greenspan went even further in his defense of the Iraq war, saying it was “far more important to get” Saddam Hussein “out than bin Laden”:

ALAN GREENSPAN: People do not realize in this country, for example, how tenuous our ties to international energy are. That is, we on a daily basis require continuous flow. If that flow is shut off, it causes catastrophic effects in the industrial world. And it’s that which made him far more important to get out than bin Laden.

Watch it:

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Greenspan’s continued belief that invading Iraq was the right decision flies in the face of the evidence.

In March 2003, when the U.S. first invaded Iraq, the price of oil was roughly US$35 a barrel. Just two weeks ago, however, oil prices reached “above US$80 a barrel for the first time ever.”

Additionally, the rate of international terrorism has increased significantly since the invasion of Iraq. In 2003, there were a total of 193 acts of international terrorism. In 2006, however, 14,000 terrorist attacks occurred, almost half of which occurred in Iraq.

By any metric, the decision to invade Iraq and take the focus off bin Laden has been a disastrous strategic choice.

(HT: Jonathan Schwarz)

Cheney: I’m the ‘flavor of the month.’

Mon, 2007-09-24 07:59

In the new book The Evangelical President, the Washington Examiner’s Bill Sammon writes that Vice President Cheney isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be remembered throughout history. “It may be because nobody can remember the earlier vice presidents. I’ll let the historians worry about that.” He joked that he is more likely the “flavor of the month.”

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Mukasey signals support for torture.

Mon, 2007-09-24 06:50

Newsweek reports that in recent private meetings with “hard-liners,” Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey reassured conservatives that he was committed to the Bush administration’s right-wing ideology:

According to three sources, who asked not to be named discussing the private meetings, Mukasey said that he saw “significant problems” with shutting down Guantánamo Bay and that he understood the need for the CIA to use some “enhanced” interrogation techniques against Qaeda suspects. Mukasey also signaled reluctance with naming a special prosecutor to investigate Bush-administration misconduct, according to one participant.

One “well-connected” conservative who attended the meeting later observed, “Gosh, I’m a little worried that the Democrats might have problems with him.”

ThinkFast: September 24, 2007

Mon, 2007-09-24 06:08

Pope Benedict will use his first address to the United Nations to “deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a ‘moral’ cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.”

President Bush will “skip U.N. talks on global warming,” opting instead to organize his own meeting in Washington later this week. It raises the prospect that Bush could once again put the U.S. “in the position of objecting to any binding international agreement intended to slow or reverse the emissions linked to rising temperatures.”

A classified Pentagon program has attempted to “bait” Iraqi insurgents by planting items such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick them up. Experts worry that such a baiting program “raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items.”

The closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility looks “increasingly unlikely.” President Bush, “who last year told German television that he ‘would like to end Guantanamo,’ is now threatening to veto any move to ‘micromanage the detention of enemy combatants.’”

In the days after 9/11, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey dismissed concerns by a 21-year old Jordanian immigrant that he had been beaten while in U.S. custody, leaving bruises that were hidden beneath his orange prison jumpsuit. “As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me,” said Judge Mukasey. (more…)

Bush invites Freepers to White House.

Sun, 2007-09-23 18:10

Last week, President Bush invited members of DC chapter of the right-wing website, along with other conservative groups, to the White House for a picnic. According to a posting about the event on Free Republic, “President spent what seemed like two hours meeting with everyone who wanted to speak with him.” More pictures HERE.

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly said in July that the comments on the site are “vile, hateful stuff.”


U.S. officials ignored Iraqi complaints on Blackwater.

Sun, 2007-09-23 12:09

Senior Iraqi officials “repeatedly complained to U.S. officials about Blackwater USA’s alleged involvement in the deaths of numerous Iraqis, but the Americans took little action to regulate the private security firm until 11 Iraqis were shot dead last Sunday.” Iraqi officials note that the complaints go beyond security, to Iraqis’ dignity:

[Deputy Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Hussein] Kamal said addressing Blackwater’s alleged actions was also a matter of preserving Iraq’s dignity and honor. Seated in his spacious office, he recalled an incident two months ago when Blackwater guards threw a water bottle at a traffic policeman. The officer was so furious that he submitted his resignation, but his superiors turned it down, Kamal said.

“This is a flagrant violation of the law,” Kamal said. “This guy is an officer with a rank of a brigadier general. He was standing in the street doing his job, regulating traffic. He represents the state and the law, and yet this happened.”

Paulose receives exceptionally poor job review.

Sun, 2007-09-23 11:10

The U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Rachel Paulose, is under federal investigation for using racist epithets against an employee, mishandling classified information, and retaliating against staffers. Today, the Washington Post reports that “an internal Justice Department audit completed last month said her employees gave her very low marks. … Her performance review was so poor that Kenneth E. Melson, head of the department’s Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, took the unusual step of meeting with her in Minnesota several weeks ago.”

Fallon: ‘Constant drumbeat’ of Iran war talk ‘not helpful.’

Sun, 2007-09-23 10:12

In an interview with al Jazeera television, CentCom Commander Admiral William Fallon warned that constant talk of bombing Iran is not hepful. “This constant drumbeat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful,” he said. “I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for,” said Fallon. “It is not a good idea to be in a state of war. We ought to try and to do our utmost to create different conditions.”

Doolittle attacks ‘vile’ CREW for ‘Most Corrupt’ list.

Sun, 2007-09-23 09:40

Earlier this week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released it’s annual list of the “most corrupt members of Congress.” Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), who is currently under federal investigation, received prominent placement on the list. Doolittle is now calling the group “underhanded and vile.” “There’s nothing responsible or ethical” about CREW, said Doolittle, who is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for ethical improprieties.

Grisham: Bushies are ‘bad people with evil intent.’

Sun, 2007-09-23 08:35

On Thursday, best-selling author John Grisham said in an interview with the Des Moines Register that the Bush administration is built around “bad people with evil intent.” “The war is an immoral abomination that we’ll pay for for decades to come,” added Grisham. “We’re paying for it now at the rate of 100 kids a month while Bush plays politics with it.”