Roll Call executive editor and Fox News host Mort Kondrake included this tidbit in his most recent syndicated column:
In a controversial move within the administration, [Undersecretary of State Karen] Hughes and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seem to have persuaded Bush — temporarily, at least — to drop the label “Islamic fascism” from his speeches; diplomats say that Muslims hear it as an attack on their religion, thereby validating the extremists’ false charge that the United States is at war with Islam.
The move is a blow to conservatives, who celebrated last month when President Bush used the term several times in his speeches on terrorism. The phrase is a favorite of right-wing commentators like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity; the AP called it “the new buzzword” for conservatives “in an election season dominated by an unpopular war in Iraq.”
Critics of the phrase, including numerous Muslim-American groups and Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and former
Marine Army Ranger Jack Reed (D-RI), were lambasted by the right. The Weekly Standard Stephen Schwartz said people who took offense to the term were mere “primitive Muslims.”
Will Rice and Hughes get the same treatment?
this fall “targeted at its 1.3 million employees in an effort to combat growing criticism from Democrats and labor unions.” The program “could be among the biggest in the country.”
1. Al Gore’s terrific speech at New York University on what this country must do now to avert catastrophic global warming. Gore offers the key starting point that has so far eluded our President and the conservative Congress: “We should start by immediately freezing CO2 emissions and then beginning sharp reductions.”
2. A new report, “American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security,” by the Center for American Progress and the Worldwatch Institute. The authors notes, “If the U.S. is to join the world leaders in renewable energy — among them Germany, Spain, and Japan — it will need world-class energy policies based on a sustained and consistent policy framework at the local, state, and national levels.”
3. An analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, “Evaluating the Role of Prices and R&D in Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions,” that concludes “Relying exclusively on R&D funding in the near term… does not appear likely to be consistent with the goal of balancing costs and maximizing benefits or the goal of minimizing the costs of meeting an emissions reduction target.”
What an amazing world we live in that you actually need a CBO report to make the case that the only plausible climate strategy for the country must include both R&D and a carbon price.
President Bush gave a speech this morning to the general assembly of the United Nations. Moments afterward, former Bush speechwriter David Frum said the speech represented “the collapse of the President’s Iran policy.” “When Iran does succeed in going nuclear, this speech will seen as a turning point,” he said.
Frum noted that Bush has “subcontracted the job of negotiating with the Iranians” to the Europeans, and lamented that Bush’s speech said “nothing about the huge next item on the UN agenda, which is whether or not we will enforce the IAEA rulings on Iran.” Watch it:
“Almost from the beginning of Bush’s presidency,” two groups within the administration — realists seeking to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and ideologues more interested in regime change — have been “waging an intense struggle over Iran, while the U.S. government went month after month without an official policy.” The dearth of policy details in Bush’s speech today suggests that problem hasn’t changed.
Meanwhile, Iran is not sitting idly by.
Transcripts: Read more
Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, former New York Senator Al D’Amato (R) and Bill O’Reilly debated Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) insistence that the U.S. follow the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of all detainees. D’Amato said McCain should receive “a pass on this” because he was “so traumatized by the events that took place” during his captivity in the Vietnam War. The trauma, D’Amato argued, put McCain in such a mental state that he was not in “a position to consider the impact of what his restrictions would do.” Watch it:
Despite the right-wing’s attempts to smear him, McCain has maintained a position that is guided by his personal experience and knowledge of torture. Here’s what he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked recently why he was arguing for the Geneva Conventions even though his captors tortured him.
BLITZER: When you were a POW in Vietnam, you weren’t accorded the Geneva Conventions. You were brutally treated and tortured.
MCCAIN: But later on in our captivity the Vietnamese changed our treatment rather dramatically. There was also an American that was captured in Somalia not that long ago where he was being mistreated, and we insisted he be treated according to the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 and he was. And he was later released. We have the moral high ground because we adhere to the Geneva Conventions. And we’re not like these other countries, and we understand that al Qaeda would never observe it. But many of us are afraid there will be additional wars in the history of the United States.
Full transcript: Read more
“Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, a Republican in a tight re-election race, flew on a private plane chartered by Vonage Holdings Corp. just days after he pushed legislation that the company has advocated for more than a year.”
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), ranking member on the Government Reform Committee, has just released a series of emails from the Department of Commerce that suggest that Bush officials “tried to suppress a federal scientist from discussing the link between global warming and hurricanes.”
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Waxman details how CNBC requested an interview with NOAA scientist Tom Knutson in October 2005 — one month after Hurricane Katrina — “to discuss whether global warming is contributing to the number or intensity of hurricanes.”
CNBC’s request was forwarded from NOAA to Chuck Fuqua in your office. Mr. Fuqua is currently a press officer. He used to be the Director of Media Operations for the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Upon receiving the request, Mr. Fuqua emailed back to NOAA, “what is Knutson’s position on global warming vs. decadal cycles? is he consistent with Bell and Landsea?” … [Dr. Gary Bell and meteorologist Chris Landsea have both expressed doubts about connections between global warming and hurricanes.]
NOAA responded to Mr. Fuqua that Dr. Knutson projected a “very small increase in hurricane intensity” due to increased greenhouse gas pollution. Mr. Fuqua responded, “why can’t we have one of the other guys then?”
This apparently ended the matter. NOAA’s Daily Media Tracking Log states that the request for the interview with Dr. Knutson was subsequently denied.
Read a full copy of Waxman’s letter HERE, and read copies of the emails HERE. Also, read about Waxman’s Safe Climate Act — the first bill ever to target global warming pollution.
Fred Kaplan wonders if the “prepare to deploy” order that’s “been sent out to U.S. Navy submarines, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers, and two mine-hunting ships” means we’re going to war with Iran. Sam Gardiner, former US Air Force Colonel, concludes that we are in a new report (availble in PDF) for the Century Foundation. Gardiner says the preparations for war “will not be a major CNN event.” Instead, they “will involve the quiet deployment of Air Force tankers to staging bases” and “additional Navy assets moved to the region.” Gardiner makes the point that while nobody’s talking about a land invasion of Iran, significant elements in the government do have more ambitious goals than simple surgical strikes at Iranian nuclear facilities. Such strikes are very unlikely to actually resolve the perceived Iran issue, and there are administration figures who’ve convinced themselves that a sufficiently wide air target set will prompt regime change in Iran. One should note that the curious thing about air power is that the professionals involved in managing it have a longstanding, cross-national, and incredibly pernicious habit of massively and systematically overstating its efficacy in accomplishing all sorts of implausible things.
At this point, I think I need to bring up what one might call the Craziest Goddamn Thing I’ve Heard In a Long Time. This story came to me last week from an anonymous individual who I would say is in a position to know about such things. According to this person, the DOD has (naturally) been doing some analysis on airstrikes against Iran. The upshot of the analysis was that conventional bombardment would degrade the Iranian nuclear program by about 50 percent. By contrast, if the arsenal included small nuclear weapons, we could get up to about 80 percent destroying. In response to this, persons inside the Office of the Vice President took the view that we could use the nukes — in other words, launch an unprovoked nuclear first strike against Iran — and then simply deny that we’d done so. Detectable radiation in the area of the bombed sites would be attributed to the fact that they were, after all, nuclear facilities we’d just hit.
Now I rather doubt that’s going to happen. Typically, Bush dials down the crazy factor a notch or two relative to what comes out of the OVP. Nevertheless, it’s a sobering reminder that we have genuine lunatics operating in the highest councils of government at the moment. It’s an extremely dangerous situation.