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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: A Series of Tubes

“You know, every day when I walk down the street people stop me to ask, ‘Skippy, how do you keep up on what is going on in the world? How do you always seem to have your finger on the pulse of the news cycle?’
Ok.. No one ever asks me that. Still, the answer is simple. I read the internets, just like Fearless Leader.”

“Information is moving -- you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it's also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 2, 2007

“MARIA BARTIROMO (CNBC): I'm curious, have you ever Googled anybody? Do you use Google?

DUBYA: Uhh, occasionally. One of the things I've used on The Google is, uhh, to pull up maps.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, October 23, 2006

“If you don’t use it, you should.. I’m not sure that I can really describe the Internets properly. I’ll let Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska do it instead.”

“It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

-Senator Ted Stevens, June 28, 2006

“Such eloquence. Such vivid expression. He makes the Internet come alive to me. You can imagine how shocked I was then to find out that the obviously well educated Senator Stevens may be involved in a crude and unseemly scandal.”

“Agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service raided the Alaska home of Republican Senator Ted Stevens yesterday as part of a broad federal investigation of political corruption in the state that has also swept up his son and one of his closest financial backers, officials said.
Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, is under scrutiny by the Justice Department for his ties to an Alaska energy services company, Veco, whose chief executive pleaded guilty in early May to a bribery scheme involving state lawmakers.
Contractors have told a federal grand jury that in 2000, Veco executives oversaw a lavish remodeling of Stevens's home in Girdwood, an exclusive ski resort area 40 miles from Anchorage, according to statements by the contractors.
Stevens said in a statement that his attorneys were advised of the impending search yesterday morning. He said he would not comment on details of the inquiry to avoid ‘any appearance that I have attempted to influence its outcome.’
Stevens, 83, who joined the Senate in 1968, has been considered one of the most powerful members of Congress for more than a decade, including six years in which he held wide sway over nearly $1 trillion in federal spending as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.”
-Washington Post, July 31, 2007

“But is he guilty?”

“I am guilty of asking the Senate for pork and proud of the Senate for giving it to me.”
-Senator Ted Stevens, 2001

“Well said sir. Now some of you may be picturing Senator Stevens as being part of the $223 million dollar ‘bridge to nowhere’ boondoggle in Alaska that was pushed into one of the last budgets back when the Republicans ruled the Earth. You would be incorrect. That was the only member of the House of Representatives from Alaska, Don Young.”

“A senior House Republican has come under criminal investigation in the Justice Department's widening inquiry into alleged influence-peddling and self-dealing in Congress.
Rep. Don Young of Alaska, the former chairman of the House Transportation Committee, now is the subject of a continuing criminal inquiry involving possible political favors for a company in Alaska, people close to the case said. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the powerful former chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the longest-serving Senate Republican, is also now under criminal investigation, these people said.
Federal investigators are examining whether Rep. Young or Sen. Stevens accepted bribes, illegal gratuities or unreported gifts from VECO Corp., Alaska's largest oil-field engineering firm, people close to the case said.
It isn't known what VECO allegedly may have received in return. The company has been awarded a series of federal contracts since 2000, including contracts to provide logistics support for arctic research, among other projects.”
-Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2007

“You should read the Internets more often. They are full of interesting tidbits like this. Just don’t read too much. We don’t want to clog the tubes.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Gratitude

“PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job? DUBYA: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?
PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.
DUBYA: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, January 12, 2007

“Dang straight. Stupid Iraqis don’t appreciate all the hard work that we’ve done for them!”

“About 8 million Iraqis — nearly a third of the population — need immediate emergency aid because of the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, relief agencies said Monday. Those Iraqis are in urgent need of water, sanitation, food and shelter, said the report by Oxfam and the NGO Coordination Committee network in Iraq.

The report said 15 percent of Iraqis cannot regularly afford to eat, and 70 percent are without adequate water supplies, up from 50 percent in 2003. It also said 28 percent of children are malnourished, compared with 19 percent before the 2003 invasion.
‘Basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people,’ said Jeremy Hobbs, the director of Oxfam International. ‘Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty.’"
-Associated Press, July 30, 2007

“The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, such as power plants and hospitals, that have been completed in Iraq, citing them as signs of progress in a nation otherwise fraught with violence and political stalemate. But closer examination by the inspector general's office, headed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has found that a number of individual projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative only months after the United States declares that they have been successfully completed. The United States always intended to hand over projects to the Iraqi government when they were completed.
In fact, in the first two quarters of 2007, Bowen said, his inspectors found significant problems in all but two of the 12 projects they examined after the United States declared those projects completed.
In one of the most recent cases, a $90 million project to overhaul two giant turbines at the Dora power plant in Baghdad failed after completion because employees at the plant did not know how to operate the turbines properly and the wrong fuel was used. The additional power is critically needed in Baghdad, where residents often have only a few hours of electricity a day.
Barton said that the episode was probably inevitable given that the elected Iraqi government operated mainly within the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and had little capability of managing thousands of new projects around the country.”
-International Herald Tribune, July 27, 2007

“Hey, we’ve treated those Iraqis with the same respect and concern that we’ve shown the rest of the world. I don’t know why anyone is surprised.”

“A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.
The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate.”
-Washington Post, July 29, 2007

“If there is one thing that the Bush Administration has shown us, it is that there are no links between poverty and poor health.”

“Corporate control of health care inevitably puts money, rather than well-being, at the system's bottom line. That's the premise of Michael Moore's Sicko, the film that has recently cast light on the ugly reality that millions of people in the world's wealthiest country are without the medical attention they need.
The statistics are startling. A 2004 report by the S.C. Department of Insurance found that 19.4 percent of our state's citizens are uninsured, and we rank 46th in overall health nationwide. One in nine American children is without insurance, a condition passed on like a disease from uninsured parents. Insurance premiums have risen 58 percent over the last seven years, while incomes have grown only 2 percent”
-Charleston City Paper, July 25, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Big Trouble in Little White House

“Fearless Leader is a man of bold and courageous vision.. A man who dares to do what no sane man would do. A man who sees what no one else can see..”

“Can see things no one else can see. Do things no one else can do.”
-Egg Shen, Big Trouble in Little China

“For instance.. Most people feel that Iraq is a mess…”

“The Pentagon is making contingency plans for a gradual U.S. withdrawal of troops from Iraq, according to U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who called the planning a ‘priority.’
‘You may rest assured that such planning is indeed taking place with my active involvement as well as that of senior military and civilian officials and our commanders in the field,’ Gates said in a letter delivered this week to Senator Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate who had tangled with the Pentagon to learn whether such plans exist.
‘I consider this contingency planning to be a priority for this department,’ Gates said.
His comments came as a highly sophisticated simultaneous truck bombing and rocket attack devastated a Shiite market district in one of Baghdad's safest central neighbourhoods yesterday, killing at least 28 people and wounding 95. Separately, the U.S. military announced the deaths of seven American troops in Iraq.”
-Reuters, July 27, 2007

“…but not Fearless Leader.”

“And he's [Gen Petraeus] making progress. And I believe it's in the interests of this country, for our own security, for the United States Congress to fully support General Petraeus in his mission and to give him time to come back and report to the United States Congress the progress that he's making.
It's really interesting to watch this counterinsurgency strategy work. I mean, when people on the ground begin to have confidence, they, all of a sudden, start making good decisions for a state that will represent their interests. There is such a thing as top-down reconciliation -- that's the passage of law. And the Iraqi parliament has passed quite a few pieces of legislation, and they're working, trying to work through their differences. Sometimes legislative bodies aren't real smooth in getting out a piece of legislation in timely fashion, as some of you might recognize. But nevertheless, they're working hard to -- learning what it means to have a parliament that functions.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 26, 2007

“Ok, you people! Sit tight, hold the fort and keep the home fires burning. And if we're not back by dawn... call the president.”
-Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little China

“Many people think that Alberto Gonzales is a lying SOB who is taking down the entire Justice Department with his politicizing the work they do and his blatant lying to Congress…”

“The head of the FBI contradicted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' sworn testimony and Senate Democrats requested a perjury investigation Thursday in a fresh barrage against President Bush's embattled longtime friend and aide.
In a third blow to the Bush administration, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to compel the testimony of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, in connection with its investigation of the firings of federal prosecutors.
‘It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements,’ four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement calling for a special counsel to investigate.”
-Associated Press, July 26, 2007

“But Fearless Leader can see into Gonzales soul and knows that he is worthy.”

“The White House defiantly stuck by Gonzales on the perjury matter and flatly denied that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Thursday contradicted the attorney general's sworn testimony on internal Bush administration dissent over the president's secretive wiretapping program.”
-Associated Press, July 27, 2007

“Q On Gonzales, this Negroponte memo shows an apparent contradiction in what he told the committee two days ago about that briefing at the White House. But yet Gonzales' spokesman says that what he said on Tuesday was true. How can that be? Can you explain that?
MR. SNOW: Unfortunately we get into areas that you cannot discuss openly. It's a very complex issue. But the Attorney General was speaking consistently. The President supports him. I think at some point this is going to be something where members are going to have to go behind closed doors and have a fuller discussion of the issues. But I can't go any further than that.
Q Everyone else says the meeting was about the TSP. Negroponte says it, people who were there said it, Comey said it. How could that not be right?
MR. SNOW: It's simply more complex than that, and I can't go into any more detail.
Q Is there another program that existed besides the TSP program?
MR. SNOW: I will repeat myself -- it's more complex, and I cannot go any further than that.
Q Does that mean that members of the Congress are being briefed on something they didn't realize they were being briefed on? If they're all describing it in this way --
MR. SNOW: Look, the most important thing to do is, I'll refer you back to DOJ to going through all this. But there were a series of briefings for a small, restricted number of members of Congress who seem to have differing recollections about what went on. As I've told you the last couple of days, I'm not going to try to be the fact witness on this. “
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesperson Tony Snow, July 26, 2007

“And some argue that the economy is hitting some rough spots..:

“Wall Street suffered one of its worst losses of 2007 Thursday, leading a global stock market plunge as investors succumbed to months of worry about the mortgage and corporate lending markets. The Dow Jones industrials closed down more than 310 points after earlier skidding nearly 450.”
-Associated Press, July 26, 2007

“But Fearless Leader knows better than any of the so-called ‘economists’.”

“In other words, this economy is strong. And I would argue with the doubters and the skeptics that one of the reason is because of the tax cuts we passed.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 26, 2007

“And while Fearless Leader my question our enemy’s motives..”

“We were attacked by a group of ruthless killers who have an ideology. In other words, they believe something.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 26, 2007

“He isn’t going to let that get in the way of his own beliefs.”

“I believe in that old Texas adage, if you don't stand for something, you don't believe in anything.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 26, 2007

“God bless you Fearless Leader. I once was afraid, but through you I have seen that all I was scared of was reality. Now I will try to just ignore it like you do.”

“When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, looks you crooked in the eye and asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: ‘Have ya paid your dues, Jack?’ ‘Yessir, the check is in the mail.’"
-Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little China

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Begging Your Pardon

“Hello, everybody. As you probably know, the House Judiciary Committee has just voted along partisan lines to have a criminal contempt of Congress referral against White House legal counsel and the White House Chief of Staff. For our view, this is pathetic.”
-White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 25, 2007

“Um. Harriet isn’t the White House legal counsel anymore. Tony, you work in the White House. I’m kind of surprised that you don’t remember that. Remember? This is all about Congress asking Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten questions. Congress wants them under oath and with a transcript. The White House says that they will let them testify, but only if they can lie and without a transcript to prove it..”

“Q The lack of a transcript seems to be the one area in which you could all agree. It seems to be one thing that is, frankly, just silly. Everybody knows that the lack of a transcript is something that --
MR. SNOW: You know what's silly, Victoria, is after we have made all these offers, Congress doesn't step forward with anything. That's silly.
Q -- that leads to this question --
Q Conyers says he has something.
MR. SNOW: Well, he has something -- would you characterize ‘something’?
Q Conyers says he has uncovered serious evidence of wrongdoing by retaliation for the improper firings. What do you have to say about that -- other than a pregnant pause?
MR. SNOW: Look forward to hearing what he has -- (laughter.)”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 25, 2007

“Of course, putting Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in contempt just means that they should be prosecuted by the Department of Justice…”

"As it considers the contempt resolutions, we think it is important that the Committee appreciate fully the longstanding Department of Justice position, articulated during Administrations of both parties, that ‘the criminal contempt of Congress statute does not apply to the President or presidential subordinates who assert executive privilege.’"
-Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski, July 24, 2007

“…which, strangely enough, is not prone to wanting to enforce the contempt charges. You know, I could swear that I’ve heard something else about the Department of Justice in the news recently.”

“Q What do you mean when you say that nobody has really laid a glove on Gonzales? Isn't the President troubled by senators questioning his truthfulness and by Specter saying that he doesn't think he has any credibility?
MR. SNOW: Well, what's happened on a number of occasions is that people have hauled him up and there have been insinuations and, yet, in the end, what is the specific charge? What is the specific charge of malfeasance?
Q Well, for one thing, his truthfulness has been questioned.
MR. SNOW: But again, the President stands --
Q Isn't the President bothered by that?
MR. SNOW: The President is bothered sometimes by the tone of debate in Washington. He understands it can be bruising and he stands by the Attorney General.”
-White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 25, 2007

“Nobody has touched him, and Congress is full of old meanies. Nothing has shown that Gonzales is a criminal.”

“Documents show that eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, come as senators consider whether a perjury investigation should be opened into conflicting accounts about the program and a dramatic March 2004 confrontation leading up to its potentially illegal reauthorization.
At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on suspects in the United States without receiving court approval.
Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.
Gonzales, who was then serving as counsel to Bush, testified that the White House Situation Room briefing sought to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of the unidentified program and Justice Department objections to renew it. Those objections were led by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, who questioned the program's legality.
‘The dissent related to other intelligence activities,’ Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. ‘The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program.’"
-Associated Press, July 25, 2007

“Well if Gonzales is found guilty of perjury Fearless Leader has a way of dealing with those people.”

“President Bush on Thursday acknowledged publicly for the first time that someone in his administration likely leaked the name of a CIA operative, although he also said he hopes the controversy over his decision to spare prison for a former White House aide has ‘run its course.’
‘And now we're going to move on,’ Bush said in a White House news conference.
The president had initially said he would fire anyone in his administration found to have publicly disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and a CIA operative. Ten days ago, Bush commuted the 30-month sentence given to I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby by a federal judge in connection with the case.”
-Associated Press, July 12, 2007

“The biggest concern that Fearless Leader has is that his hand will cramp up from all of the commutations and pardons he is going to have to write.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Fearless Leader Explains

“Nearly six years after the 9/11 attacks, America remains a nation at war. The terrorist network that attacked us that day is determined to strike our country again, and we must do everything in our power to stop them. A key lesson of September the 11th is that the best way to protect America is to go on the offense, to fight the terrorists overseas so we don't have to face them here at home. And that is exactly what our men and women in uniform are doing across the world.
The key theater in this global war is Iraq.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“So we went into Iraq in order to fight the terrorists after 9-11?”

“Because Bush has told the public that Iraq is central to the war on terror, the worse things go in Iraq, the more the public thinks the war on terror is going badly. Asked at his press conference what invading Iraq had to do with Sept. 11, Bush seemed so dumbfounded that at first he answered directly. ‘Nothing,’ he said, before sliding into a falsely aggrieved self-defense – ‘except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack.’"
-Salon, August 24, 2006

“But I thought it had to do with Saddam. How is the War on Terror linked to our removing Saddam from power?”

“The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaida, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaida. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, June 18, 2004

“So it had to do with terrorism, but Saddam wasn’t in charge. So al Qaeda was there and Saddam was supporting them?”

“A taped message believed to be from fugitive militant Osama bin Laden on Tuesday warned Arab nations against supporting a war against Iraq as threatened by the United States -- but branded Saddam Hussein an infidel.”
-Reuters, February 11, 2003

“I’m confused.. It certainly sounds like al Qaeda wasn’t an issue in Iraq until after we invaded.”

“Some note that al Qaida in Iraq did not exist until the U.S. invasion -- and argue that it is a problem of our own making. The argument follows the flawed logic that terrorism is caused by American actions. Iraq is not the reason that the terrorists are at war with us. We were not in Iraq when the terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. We were not in Iraq when they attacked our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq when they attacked the USS Cole in 2000. And we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“Ah.. So al Qaeda in Iraq is really just the same group that hit us on 9-11?”

“They know they're al Qaida. The Iraqi people know they are al Qaida. People across the Muslim world know they are al Qaida. And there's a good reason they are called al Qaida in Iraq: They are al Qaida ... in ... Iraq.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“Thank you sir, but you don’t need to be so condescending. I was just trying to figure out how al Qaeda managed to become big in Iraq since it doesn’t seem like they were really all that involved there before.”

“A good place to start is with some basic facts: Al Qaeda in Iraq was founded by a Jordanian terrorist, not an Iraqi. His name was Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Before 9/11, he ran a terrorist camp in Afghanistan. He was not yet a member of al Qaida, but our intelligence community reports that he had longstanding relations with senior al Qaida leaders, that he had met with Osama bin Laden and his chief deputy, Zawahiri.
In 2001, coalition forces destroyed Zarqawi's Afghan training camp, and he fled the country and he went to Iraq, where he set up operations with terrorist associates long before the arrival of coalition forces. In the violence and instability following Saddam's fall, Zarqawi was able to expand dramatically the size, scope, and lethality of his operation.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“Oh. So what you are telling me is that al Qaeda in Iraq was actually founded in Iraq after 9-11, and really didn’t gain any power until the chaos and instability caused by your half-assed invasion. They must have grown pretty quickly. How did that happen?”

“According to our intelligence community, the Zarqawi-bin Laden merger gave al Qaida in Iraq -- quote – ‘prestige among potential recruits and financiers.’ The merger also gave al Qaida's senior leadership -- quote – ‘a foothold in Iraq to extend its geographic presence ... to plot external operations ... and to tout the centrality of the jihad in Iraq to solicit direct monetary support elsewhere.’"
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“Huh… So we actually increased Zarqawi’s reputation by invading, and that helped him to build up to the point of becoming an actual threat to America. Scary. You’re sure that there is no distinction between the guys that are currently rebuilding in Pakistan and the ones that we are fighting in Iraq?”

“You might wonder why some in Washington insist on making this distinction about the enemy in Iraq. It's because they know that if they can convince America we're not fighting bin Laden's al Qaida there, they can paint the battle in Iraq as a distraction from the real war on terror. If we're not fighting bin Laden's al Qaida, they can argue that our nation can pull out of Iraq and not undermine our efforts in the war on terror. The problem they have is with the facts. We are fighting bin Laden's al Qaida in Iraq; Iraq is central to the war on terror; and against this enemy, America can accept nothing less than complete victory.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“Ok.. We have to fight them in Iraq because you think that your incompetence in the invasion set them up to take control if we leave…”

“We've already seen how al Qaida used a failed state thousands of miles from our shores to bring death and destruction to the streets of our cities -- and we must not allow them to do so again.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 24, 2007

“…and because Iraq is currently a failed state. Wonderful. Bravo sir. Can’t imagine why anyone would ever doubt you.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Waiting for a Sign

“These last few months (ok.. years) haven’t been such a good time to be an Iraqi, especially since the military surge seems to have ratcheted up the violence on both sides.”

“A suicide car bomber struck the center of a major Shiite city in southern Iraq this morning, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens as the streets were packed with shoppers and people on their way to work, police said.
The explosion occurred at 9 a.m. in a commercial district in Hilla, according to provincial police. Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, has been the site of some of the deadliest bombings, including a double suicide attack on March 6 that killed 120 people.
The attack came a day after a string of car bomb attacks left at least 17 people dead in Baghdad on Monday, many of them civilians killed by three blasts in one of the city's busiest neighborhoods.
In all, at least 42 Iraqis were killed nationwide on Monday, according to security officials who asked not to be identified because they feared retribution.”
-Washington Post, July 24, 2007

“The surge has lead to a few more injuries for the American troops too.”

“The ‘surge’ in U.S. troops in Iraq has resulted in an increase in patients passing through this [Rammstein] base.
May and June stand among the busiest months ever for airmen who help transport and care for wounded servicemembers coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Air Force figures.
June saw the highest number of patient movements since April 2004, when U.S. forces conducted a major offensive on the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
In May, the airmen conducted 1,545 ‘patient movements.’ In June, the facility saw 1,564 movements.
Only two other months have been higher than May and June, he said. The facility saw the greatest number of patients in April and May 2003. April 2004, when military forces converged on Fallujah, was the second busiest time, Langevin said. He could not provide statistics for those months.
Since 2003, the facility has received 43,807 patients from Afghanistan and Iraq. Of those, 9,548 had battle injuries. Airmen have conducted nearly 70,000 patient movements.”
-Stars and Stripes, July 23, 2007

“Of course when our troops are injured they are having some trouble getting the care they need..”

“Frustrated by delays in health care, injured Iraq war veterans accused VA Secretary Jim Nicholson in a lawsuit of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment.
The lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco, seeks broad changes in the agency as it struggles to meet growing demands from veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Suing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans, it charges that the VA has failed warriors on numerous fronts. It contends the VA failed to provide prompt disability benefits, failed to add staff to reduce wait times for medical care and failed to boost services for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lawsuit also accuses the VA of deliberately cheating some veterans by allegedly working with the Pentagon to misclassify PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders to avoid paying benefits. The VA and Pentagon have generally denied such charges.”
-Associated Press, July 23, 2007

“So I guess we’ll just have to wait this war out until Fearless Leader hears back from his boss..”

“Pakistani leaders say President Bush said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. That is Palestinian leaders' remarks attributed to Mr. Bush are in a BBC documentary. The White House dismisses it as absurd.”
-CNN Saturday Morning News, October 8, 2005

“Imagine our surprise Wednesday to read in the Israeli paper Haaretz (online), that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, meeting recently with militants to enlist their support for a truce with Israel, said that, when they met in Aqaba, President Bush had told him this: ‘ God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam [ Hussein], which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them.’

So who needs to find WMD or a link with al Qaeda when the orders come from The Highest Authority?
Two calls to the White House for clarification went unreturned, but colleague Glenn Kessler did some digging. The Haaretz reporter, Arnon Regular, read what the paper said were minutes of the Palestinians' meeting to Kessler and another colleague, who is an Arabic speaker.
The Arabic-speaking colleague's translation, was this: ‘God inspired me to hit al Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him. Now I am determined to solve the Middle East problem if you help. Otherwise the elections will come and I will be wrapped up with them.’"
-Washington Post, June 27, 2003

Monday, July 23, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Emboldening

“You may remember this one from Friday…”

“The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.
In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.
A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
‘Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,’ Edelman wrote.”
-Associated Press, July 19, 2007

“Well the Senator from New York has had a chance to respond.”

“Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday accused the Pentagon of impugning her patriotism simply because she raised questions about U.S. planning for the eventual withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
The politically heated back-and-forth began Thursday with a sharply worded missive from Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy, to Clinton warning that such questions boost enemy propaganda.
Clinton pressed Edelman's boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on Friday, asking if he agreed with his aide's charge. The New York senator said in a statement that Edelman had ducked her questions and ‘instead made spurious arguments to avoid addressing contingency planning.’"
-Associated Press, July 20, 2007

“Hillary is so wrong with this one.. So, very wrong. Her works cut deeply at the war effort by adding to enemy propaganda. Much more deeply than insulting the faith of the Iraqi people..”

“And I just -- I cannot speak strongly enough about how we must collectively get after those who kill in the name of -- in the name of some kind of false religion.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, August 1, 2002

“…or blaming them for being grateful enough for being ‘liberated’.”

“PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job? DUBYA: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job? PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion. DUBYA: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, January 12, 2007

“But still, I think that we can all agree that at least the Pentagon is fair and balanced. I remember all of the times that they have spoken up to criticize conservative pundits for calling Arabs ‘towel heads’ or saying that Islam is a religion of hate. Seems like a week doesn’t go by that they aren’t correcting Bill Kristol or other conservative talking heads for saying that we should go kill them all and let God sort them out. I mean, that stuff has the potential to make the enemy really want to fight us (well, that and Abu Ghraib, civilian deaths, etc..).”

"We should invade their [Muslim’s] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."
-Ann Coulter, September 13, 2001

Friday, July 20, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Political Bias

“The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.
In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman responded to questions Clinton raised in May in which she urged the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of American forces.
A copy of Edelman's response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.
‘Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,’ Edelman wrote.”
-Associated Press, July 19, 2007

“Shame on Hillary! She should know better than to criticize the President and his Eternal War on Terra! Criticizing the government is not an option! She needs to be more patriotic.”

"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does NOT mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."

-President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt

“Oh come on.. I’m not talking about the President, I’m talking about the Administration. They are here to serve in an unbiased way. The Pentagon exists to support the military, not to drive a political agenda.”

“[T]he Pentagon’s public affairs division has become a dumping ground for administration cronies…seek[ing] to bypass the traditional media and work directly with talk radio and bloggers, mostly those with a heavily conservative tilt.”
-Harper’s Magazine, July 16, 2007-07-20

“None of the branches of the Administration have been twisted by Fearless Leader’s bold guidance.. Not the Department of Defense..”

“The Defense Department…has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups.”
-MSNBC, September 14, 2005

“The Department of Justice…”

“After the 2004 election, administration officials quietly began drawing up a list of US attorneys to replace. Considerations included their perceived loyalty to Bush and a desire by White House political adviser Karl Rove to increase voter fraud prosecutions, documents and testimony have shown. Most of the proposed firings were for US attorneys in states with closely divided elections. Among those later fired was David Iglesias, from the battleground state of New Mexico, where many of his fellow Republicans had demanded more aggressive voter fraud probes.”
-Boston Globe, May 6, 2007

“Unlike federal judges, immigration judges are civil service employees, to be appointed by the attorney general based on professional qualifications, not their politics. [During Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s aide Monica Goodling’s] tenure, vacancies were apparently not always posted and she selected lawyers to be considered for interviews based in part on their loyalty to the Republican Party and the Bush administration.”
-New York Times, May 25, 2007


“The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming…officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard [Institute for Space Studies] Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.”
-New York Times, January 29, 2006

“The Food and Drug Administration…”

“The top Food and Drug Administration official in charge of women’s health issues…resigned in protest against the agency’s decision to further delay a final ruling on whether the ‘morning-after pill’ should be made more easily accessible. ‘I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled,’ she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues.”
-Washington Post, September 1, 2005

“Health and Human Services…”

“An internal investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that the top Medicare official threatened to fire the program’s chief actuary if he told Congress that drug benefits would probably cost much more than the White House acknowledged.”
-New York Times, July 7, 2004

“The Office of the Surgeon General…”

“The first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research.”
-Reuters, July 10, 2007

According to President George W. Bush's first surgeon general, scientific information he wanted to share with the nation was regularly distorted, ignored or buried by White House officials in service to their political agenda. Similar complaints have come from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
‘Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried,’ Dr. Richard H. Carmona said Tuesday in testimony before a House committee. During his 2002 to 2006 stint as surgeon general, Carmona said he was also ordered to mention Bush at least three times on every page of his speeches.”
-Newsday, July 14, 2007

“The Office of National Drug Control Policy…”

“At the request of Sara Taylor, the former White House Director of Political Affairs, John Walters, the nation’s drug czar, and his deputies traveled to 20 events with vulnerable Republican members of Congress in the months prior to the 2006 elections. The trips were paid for by federal taxpayers and several were combined with the announcement of federal grants or actions that benefited the districts of the Republican members.”
-House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, June 17, 2007-07-20

“The Corporation for Public Broadcasting…”

“Kenneth Tomlinson, the chairman of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has said on several occasions that the Bush administration does not interfere with how the CPB operates.
On several matters over the past year, however, the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has pursued policies and the appointment of executives at the behest of the White House, according to Tomlinson's own e-mails.”
-NPR, June 20, 2005

“The EPA…”

“At issue is next week's huge government report on the state of the environment. Under heavy editing pressure from the White House, a lengthy chapter on climate change has been gutted.

In a draft of the report – obtained by CBS News – strong language that ‘climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment" was stricken by the White House; as was government research that suggests recent climate change is "likely mostly due to human activities.’
An edited version said that climate change ‘may have potentially profound consequences’ but, ‘The complexity of the earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, document its cause and develop useful projections on how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future.’
The revised draft removed a reference to a 1999 study showing global temperatures had risen sharply in the past decade compared to the previous 1,000 years. But it did cite another study, partly paid for by the oil industry, challenging the uniqueness of recent temperature increases.
And it deleted a National Research Council finding that various studies have suggested that recent warming was unusual and likely due to human activities. The 2001 NRC report had been commissioned by the White House and cited in the past by President Bush.”
-CBS/AP, June 19, 2003

“The Interior Department…”

“The Washington Post concluded an amazingly detailed series on Vice President Dick Cheney this week with a disturbing revelation involving Oregon and California.
Cheney, the paper said, played a key role in events leading to the 2002 die-off of more than 70,000 salmon in the Klamath River near the border of the two states. He reportedly did it by getting Interior Department bureaucrats to override government biologists and divert water from the river to irrigate farms, dooming the protected fish. “
-The Oregonian, June 30, 2007

“The Office of Faith-Based Initiatives…”

“More than five years after President Bush created the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, the former second-in-command of that office is going public with an insider’s tell-all account that portrays an office used almost exclusively to win political points with both evangelical Christians and traditionally Democratic minorities.
The office’s primary mission, providing financial support to charities that serve the poor, never got the presidential support it needed to succeed, according to the book.”
-MSNBC, October 13, 2006

“Really.. This Administration is just like Fox news.. Fair and balanced.”

"The Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision,"
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Whack a Mole, Pt 2.

“Yesterday we discussed how we shouldn’t be worrying about al Qaeda regrouping in Pakistan, because we have brought the fight to them in Iraq. It sure is a good thing that we’re winning the war there, because everywhere else it seems to be going to Hades in a handbasket.”

“President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed, as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment that has forced the administration to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan.

The intelligence report, the most formal assessment since the Sept. 11 attacks about the terrorist threat facing the United States, concludes that the United States is losing ground on a number of fronts in the fight against Al Qaeda, and describes the terrorist organization as having significantly strengthened over the past two years.”
-New York Times, July 17, 2007

“We would be fighting al Qaeda in Pakistan, but, as you all know, Pakistan is a sovereign country, and we only attack sovereign countries that have four letters in their names and start with ‘Ir’ (Iran.. you’re next).”

“Q: Tony, is it because the U.S. military is stretched and taxed and every other way you want to describe it, in Iraq, is that a reason why when the report says that there is a safe haven in the Pakistan federally administered tribal area that includes the lieutenants and top leadership of al Qaeda, is that why the U.S. isn't going in there, or is it out of deference to Musharraf?
MR. SNOW: No, again, if you talk -- when you talk about the U.S. going in there, you don't blithely go into another nation and conduct operations. We --
Q: Well, the President went into a sovereign nation in 2003.
MR. SNOW: Well, he went into a sovereign nation that was, in fact -- he also had with him the support of 17 U.N. resolutions, including Resolution 1441.
Q: But he could seek similar world support for such an action --
MR. SNOW: Well, again -- but on the other hand, we are working with a sovereign nation which is an ally with us, in this particular case. And when it comes to Pakistan, the United States has, in fact, been continuously working with President Musharraf and we're going to do what we can to try to strengthen his hand in whatever he needs. We have spent -- we have devoted considerable resources to helping him beef up capabilities and presence within the federally administered tribal areas, which are very tough.
Q: With all the complications and diplomacy and everything else involved in this, but just for the American citizen watching this, if we can identify that the safe haven is there, that lieutenants and top leadership are there --
MR. SNOW: Well, it's not as if they've hung out a shingle and there's a great big compound. These are people who, in fact, do their very best to remain concealed.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“Yes, as Fearless Leader has told us, the terrorists hide in caves!”

“They hide in caves. See, this is a different kind of war. And part of my responsibilities as your President is to remind people about the realities that we face in America. One of the realities is, is that these people hide in caves.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, September 5, 2002

“See? That is why we had to attack Iraq instead. It is a desert, so there are fewer caves for the terrorists to hide in, so we can find them easier there. Personally I am going to check my closet, since it is too small to give them any hiding places at all. Makes perfect sense. I feel safer already.”

“Q: Tony, when the report -- the NIE says that al Qaeda is likely to try to leverage the gains it's made in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, doesn't that undermine the President's case that by fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we're preventing them from coming to U.S. soil and attacking here?
MR. SNOW: No, and you asked the same question to Fran, and she reread to you the language of the NIE, which is probably worth doing, because what it really talks about is the fact that it will -- let me just find the particular item there -- what's happening is al Qaeda basically is looking for ways to generate bragging rights that are going to be useful in recruiting or plotting or trying to leverage contacts. Here's what it says: ‘Of those concerns, we assess that al Qaeda will try to exploit the conflict in Iraq, to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al Qaeda in Iraq, its most visible and capable affiliate, and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack us here.’ It does not say that it has a stronger hand. What it says is that it is going to try to exploit, for political and also for recruiting purposes, anything it possibly can out of the ongoing conflict in Iraq.
Q: Right. The President was warned of that, though, by the CIA before the war in Iraq.
MR. SNOW: Well, the President had a lot of inputs before the war.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“Yes, many, many people told Fearless Leader things before he invaded Iraq, and he didn’t listen to any of them. Now we just need to understand that, despite being stuck in the middle of a civil war while the real enemy regroups in another country, we are safer.
That doesn’t sound right.. Tony, can you explain it better?”

“Q: What do you want the public to take away from a day that has seen the administration talk again about a heightened terror environment, while at the same time again saying there are no credible, specific threats?
MR. SNOW: I think what they ought to take away from it is that we have a vigorous and, so far, successful effort to go against al Qaeda. And, in fact, there ought to be reassurance and, at the same time, vigilance.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“See? You should just relax and be frightened at the same time. It isn’t like the war in Iraq distracted us from winning against al Qaeda, because there was no way to win in the fight against al Qaeda anyway. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Administration.”

“Q: Tony, doesn't all this discussion of the threat posed by al Qaeda on multiple fronts, on which you, yourself, say the government is going after them, suggest that the group should have been crushed entirely before the U.S. took up something like going into Iraq?
Q: Why not?
MR. SNOW: The fact is that this is a group that was --
Q: Why give them the battlefield?
MR. SNOW: Excuse me -- they were already spread out over 60 countries, Wendell, before the war began. Al Qaeda started war against the United States in 1993 with the bombing of the World Trade Center, that continued with actions at Khobar Towers, the bombing of the USS Cole, the bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Al Qaeda was already in the battlefield before that war began. Furthermore, al Qaeda had dispersed itself around the globe.
So, in point of fact, what you are asking is a question, why didn't we crush al Qaeda globally before we went into Iraq?
Q: Precisely, yes, that's what I'm asking.
MR. SNOW: The answer is that, as part of a larger war on terror, you're assuming that al Qaeda is a small, contained entity that can be beaten by conventional war methods. And the fact is, when you take a look at asymmetrical warfare, it is something where you constantly have to go after a shifting enemy.
Q: Are you telling me it was impossible to smash them globally before we went into Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q: Thank you.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“As Mr. Snow explained.. Crushing al Qaeda was impossible before we attacked Iraq, and now we aren’t even trying to fight them in their strongholds, so the War on Terra will continue forever. I guess the big problem is that they have so many high-level management people ready to take over..”

“Q: Could you talk about the hierarchy here and how you decide who is high-ranking, who isn't high-ranking? You put 26 guys high-ranking. Do you have any sense of how big this operation is, what the command and control is like there?
MR. SNOW: Well, you do know -- again, you don't want to go too far into disclosing sources and methods, but on the other hand, what you do have is a pretty clear structure. You do have al-Masri and his lieutenants, who are sort of at the top of the pyramid. And actually, Kevin did provide kind of an operational flowchart. I'll make that available to you. I did not put that together as a slide --
Q: But just the scope of the organization. I mean, you, over the years, have said that, I think, two-thirds of al Qaeda, the international leaders --
MR. SNOW: Yes, senior leadership.
Q: -- senior leadership was knocked out, and yet you said they're regenerating. It appears, from tracking this for the past few years, that al Qaeda in Iraq also regenerates --
MR. SNOW: Of course.
Q: Zarqawi was killed. So you'd say, these senior leaders, they just keep regenerating?
MR. SNOW: Well, look, people fill the vacancies. But on the other hand, what you also have when you fill those vacancies, quite often are people with less experience and less capability than the people they have replaced. “
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, July 17, 2007

“That’s just the way it is in management. There is always someone ready to step up to the plate and take over.”

“The Bush administration has failed to fill roughly a quarter of the top leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security, creating a ‘gaping hole’ in the nation's preparedness for a terrorist attack or other threat, according to a congressional report to be released today.
As of May 1, Homeland Security had 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions, with the greatest voids reported in its policy, legal and intelligence sections, as well as immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard. The vacant slots include presidential, senior executive and other high-level appointments, according to the report by the House Homeland Security Committee.”
-Washington Post, July 9, 2007

“I guess that what we don’t have in quantity we will have to make up in quality..”

“I don't know what I'll do long-term. I'm a terrible long-term planner.”
-Condoleeza Rice, interview in the issue July 23 issue of Business Week

“We are royally screwed.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Whack a Mole

“A new National Intelligence Estimate presents a sobering analysis of terrorism threats to the United States, concluding that Al Qaeda has reconstituted its core structure along the Pakistani border and may now be a stronger and more resilient organization today than it appeared a year ago, according to three U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the draft document.
-Newsweek, July 11, 2007

“I put this one up a few days ago.. Al Qaeda seems to be back, and as big as ever, in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.”

“Q: I wonder if you could explain what possible reason there could be for al Qaeda's ability to reconstitute itself, aside from U.S. strength is being diverted in Iraq -- special ops forces and various other military means -- and the U.S. diplomatic abilities, if you will, are compromised in countries that oppose our operation in Iraq? What else could account for al Qaeda's ability to regenerate?
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question -- I think there's a tendency to try and suggest that al Qaeda core and al Qaeda in Iraq are two separate things. Let's step back for a minute, because I think that is not accurate.
Clearly, what we know is the al Qaeda that attacked us on September 11th was an al Qaeda that is led by Osama bin Laden and caused the killing of 3,000 Americans -- that same al Qaeda, headed by bin Laden, is the same al Qaeda that Zarqawi, when he becomes the emir of al Qaeda in Iraq, swears biot, or loyalty, to. So it's the same organization. This isn't a question of diverting.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesperson Fran Townsend, July 17, 2007

“So the enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda, and the al Qaeda there is just the same as the al Qaeda elsewhere.. so all of the problems (bombings, murders, etc.) in Iraq are just proof that we are directly engaging the terrorists in combat. We will defeat al Qaeda by attacking them in Iraq so we don’t have to attack them in Afghanistan and Pakistan where they, um, are. Good for us!”

“Q: Let me try another approach on the Iraq issue. To what extent has the war turned Iraq into an unprecedented training ground, breeding ground, for terrorists? You didn't have the sophistication with the IEDs and the other things that this war has developed.
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question that we've watched developing tactics, but they're also being fed -- lest we suggest, that al Qaeda in Iraq is the only enemy inside Iraq. It's not. We know very well, and you've heard briefings from DOD about the transfer of advanced technology into Iraq to advance some of this by Iran. So this is not -- al Qaeda in Iraq is not the only enemy in Iraq. And interestingly enough, recently we've seen Sunni tribal groups walk away from al Qaeda in Iraq.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesperson Fran Townsend, July 17, 2007

“Um.. But not all of our problems in Iraq are al Qaeda apparently. The people developing IEDs are apparently a different group: Iran (and luckily, based on Ms. Townsend’s response, the must not be teaching al Qaeda anything). So apparently Iraq is the central front in our war on al Qaeda AND against Iran. Tough neighborhood. I wonder why we decided to go after al Qaeda there instead of in Afghanistan? I mean, wouldn’t it have been easier to go after just one group? Iran wasn’t supporting terrorist groups against us in Afghanistan.”

“Pakistan's government is battling to save a peace accord with pro-Taliban tribal chiefs in a mountain region bordering Afghanistan, as it seeks their help to drive out al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.
Clan leaders in North Waziristan said at the weekend they were pulling out of an accord to expel non-Pakistani gunmen and would stop cooperating with authorities.
‘It was not the government that scuttled the deal,’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said yesterday in the capital, Islamabad, the official Associated Press of Pakistan reported. ‘The negotiations are still continuing.’
President Pervez Musharraf says the accords signed since 2004 have helped control militants, who fled across the border from Afghanistan after the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001. The Bush administration has criticized the strategy and says that giving tribesmen more autonomy has allowed al-Qaeda to regroup in the region and plan further attacks against the West.”
-Bloomberg News Service, July 17, 2007

“Ah.. I guess we had to shift to focus to Iraq after Pakistan started giving safe haven to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the mountain regions. Without the support of Pakistan we were forced to take the war to al Qaeda in Iraq instead…”

“In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.” -Bob Graham, November 20, 2005

“…except that we had already moved the majority of our troops from the region well before that. The Taliban was deposed. Why would we stay?”

“Q: Fran, I think a lot of Americans watching this will have two very simple questions: Where is Osama bin Laden? And why, nearly six years after the President said we would get him, dead or alive, do we not have him? How has he possibly eluded our grasp?
MS. TOWNSEND: Well, there is no question that we have put extraordinary resources against finding him. If I could answer directly, with a pinpoint on a map where he was, he wouldn't be there. So the question is, does he -- it presumes, frankly, that he sits in a single place with an address, a street address and a phone number, so it should be easy for us to go and get him. I wish, Sheryl, that it were that easy. It's not.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesperson Fran Townsend, July 17, 2007

“It has nothing to do with him being in the area in Pakistan where he is sheltered by the Pakistani peace accord. Nothing to do with the majority of our forces being moved to Iraq. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“I truly am not that concerned about him [Bin Laden].”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 12, 2002

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: General Confusion

“At his press conference yesterday, President Bush urged Congress and the American people to let the military leadership determine the ‘conditions on the ground’ in Iraq and the possibilities for success. He urged support and respect for the ‘command structure.’
I noticed, however, that none of the president's statutory military advisers was mentioned by name or position. Some Bush critics and war opponents may conclude that the president is avoiding widespread dissent in the Pentagon by creating his own command structure and stacking it with yes men and weak leaders. I read it exactly the opposite: The brass is avoiding the president and the war in Iraq -- and doing so in the passive-aggressive way that has come to characterize our current civilian-military relations.”
-William M Arkin, Washington Post, July 15, 2007

“So it looks like the military is starting to push back a little, eh? I guess that if you read about the military claiming that Fearless Leader wants something, well, then you can pretty much guarantee that the military doesn’t want it. Let’s take a look..”

“The U.S. military's top general said Monday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff is weighing a range of possible new directions in Iraq, including, if President Bush deems it necessary, an even bigger troop buildup.”
-Associated Press, July 16, 2007

“That certainly sounds like something that the military doesn’t want to do. Why would the Joint Chiefs of Staff want to bypass their direct advisory roll on this though?”

“Here's the lineup of military commanders and ‘military thinkers and planners’ that the president is listening to: Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq. Yesterday in his press conference, Bush mentioned him more than 10 times.
Yes, Bush mentioned the Joint Chiefs a few times in some vague way as people he consults with. But Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president's principle military adviser by law? No mention, even by position. Adm. William Fallon, the commander of U.S. Central Command, the president's combatant commander for the region by law and the next in the chain of command above Petraeus? No mention.”
-William M Arkin, Washington Post, July 15, 2007

“Once again.. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are apparently not generals ‘on the ground’. Bush is quite adamant about only listening to the generals ‘on the ground’.”

“We have an objective in Iraq, and as we meet those objectives, our commanders on the ground will determine the size of the troop levels.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, December 19, 2005

“Our strategy in Iraq is, as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down. Troop levels on the ground will be decided by commanders on the ground -- not by politicians in Washington, D.C..”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, February 24, 2006

“I guess he’s started listening to them because of the lack of success with the early part of the war. Fearless Leader went to the generals and asked questions…”

“I remember going down to the basement of the White House the day we committed our troops as last resort, looking at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them, ‘Do we have the right plan with the right troop level?’
And they looked me in the eye and said, ‘Yes, sir, Mr. President.’ Of course, I listen to our generals. That's what a president does. A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to execute that strategy.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, Second Bush-Kerry Presidential Debate, October 8, 2004

“…and we all know how that went. Now it is years later and we are trapped in the middle of a civil war with no end in sight. You know who I blame? Tommy Franks. I would blame Fearless Leader, but the other day he clearly showed that it was the general’s fault.”

“On Thursday, the White House gave Congress a progress report that showed the Iraqi government was making unsatisfactory progress on many political and military milestones. At a news conference, President Bush defended the buildup of U.S. troops as well as his decisions on troop numbers earlier in the conflict.
Bush said that when he asked Gen. Tommy Franks, the Central Command chief during the initial invasion in March 2003, whether he had enough troops, he told him he did. Bush said he recalled sitting in a meeting downstairs at the White House asking each commander responsible for different aspects of the operations that led to toppling Saddam Hussein.
‘I said to each one of them ‘Do you have what it takes?' Are you satisfied with the strategy?' And the answer was ‘Yes,' ‘ Bush said.”
-Associated Press, July 13, 2007

“And we all know what the punishment for incompetence is at the White House.”

“President Bush will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to L. Paul Bremer III, Tommy R. Franks, and George J. Tenet in a ceremony at the White House on December 14, 2004.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation's highest civil award. It was established by President Truman and later re-established by President Kennedy. It is awarded by the President of the United States to persons who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
-White House Press Secretary, December 2, 2004

“Still, Fearless Leader is listening to top people and learning his lessons. He’s already learned a lot…”

“I learned some good lessons from Vietnam. First, there has to be a clear mission. And second, politics has to stay out of fighting the war. ... I’ve got great confidence in Gen. Tommy Franks.”

-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 13, 2002

“… and he is learning how to better articulate his desires for peace and security…”

“And there's no better symbol of our desire to work for peace and security than working on a missile defense system -- a missile defense system that would provide security for Europe from single or dual-launched regimes that may emanate from parts of the world where leaders don't particularly care for our way of life, and/or in the process of trying to develop serious weapons of mass destruction.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 16, 2007

“…so by the time we attack Iran we should be ready to do it right.”

“The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favor of military action before US President George W. Bush leaves office in 18 months. The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department over the past month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran.”
-The Guardian (UK), July 17, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: What Enemy?

“We’re not in a civil war. This is just not true.”
-William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, July 15, 2007

“Sure, WE aren’t, but the Iraqi people sure as heck seem to be involved in one.”

“A car bomb packed with explosives detonated Sunday in a central Baghdad square, killing 10 people and wounding 25, the deadliest attack on a violent day that claimed the lives of at least 18 others.

Still, a U.S. military spokesman on Sunday that the month-old American offensives in and around the capital were starting to have an effect, reducing violence and civilian deaths. He did not cite figures.”
-Associated Press, July 16, 2007

“Hmm.. It sounds like a civil war. Mr. Kristol, are you sure that there can’t be a civil war going on?”

"There's been a certain amount of pop sociology in America ... that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."
-William Kristol, Fresh Air, April 1, 2003

“Ah.. Well, I guess that proves it then. All of those bombings must be coming from somewhere though.. I wonder where?”

“Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.
Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.”
-LA Times, July 15, 2007

“Wait.. That can’t be right either. Saudi Arabia is our ally. I’ve seen the pictures of Fearless Leader walking hand in hand with the Prince. Can’t we blame this on Syria or Iran or somebody else?”

“A previously undisclosed Army investigation into an audacious January attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers concludes that Iraqi police working alongside American troops colluded with insurgents.
The assault on the night of Jan. 20 stunned U.S. officials with its planning and sophistication. A column of SUVs filled with gunmen who posed as an American security team passed through Iraqi police checkpoints at a provincial headquarters in the Shiite holy city.
Within a few minutes, the attackers killed one American, wounded three and abducted four. The captives were later found shot to death; the gunmen escaped.
‘(The American) defense hinged on a level of trust that … early warning and defense would be provided by the Karbala Iraqi police. This trust was violated,’ the report dated Feb. 27 says.”
-USA Today, July 11, 2007

“No, no, no.. Dang it, Iraq is not in a civil war and all of our problems there are coming from non-Saudi terrorists, not a native insurgency! Can’t you get that through your head? We need to root out these foreign terrorists and then we can finally declare victory and leave Iraq.”

“Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave ‘any time they want,’ though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.

The embattled prime minister sought to show confidence at a time when congressional pressure is growing for a withdrawal and the Bush administration reported little progress had been made on the most vital of a series of political benchmarks it wants al-Maliki to carry out.
Al-Maliki said difficulty in enacting the measures was ‘natural’ given Iraq's turmoil.
But one of his top aides, Hassan al-Suneid, rankled at the assessment, saying the U.S. was treating Iraq like ‘an experiment in an American laboratory.’ He sharply criticised the U.S. military, saying it was committing human rights violations, embarassing the Iraqi government with its tactics and cooperating with ‘gangs of killers’ in its campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq."
-Associated Press, July 15, 2007

“Don’t listen to the government of Iraq. We ain’t leaving ‘til every last non-Saudi foreign terrorist is dead.”

Friday, July 13, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Fearless Leader Speaks

“President Bush on Thursday acknowledged publicly for the first time that someone in his administration likely leaked the name of a CIA operative, although he also said he hopes the controversy over his decision to spare prison for a former White House aide has ‘run its course.’
‘And now we're going to move on,’ Bush said in a White House news conference.
The president had initially said he would fire anyone in his administration found to have publicly disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and a CIA operative. Ten days ago, Bush commuted the 30-month sentence given to I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby by a federal judge in connection with the case.”
-Associated Press, July 12, 2007

“Ah.. so Fearless Leader, the man who blocked all investigation of this case for several years and then commuted the sentence of a criminal who was found covering up evidence via perjury, has finally accepted that he has a criminal working for him (after swearing that he would ‘take care of’ whoever leaked the information)… and he is cool with that. That is some rather severe cognitive dissonance there. Usually only Fox News can provide that level of reasoning.”

"The Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision,"
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

“Ah.. There you go. Fearless Leader also spoke yesterday on the good news in Iraq.”

“The Iraqi government has made only mixed progress toward fulfilling goals for political, military and economic reform, the Bush administration said Thursday in a report certain to inflame debate in Congress future U.S. war strategy.
At a news conference that coincided with the report's release, President Bush said he saw ‘cause for optimism’ in its efforts.”
-MSNBC, July 12, 2007

“See, they have only made any real progress towards eight of 18 goals, but that is still a cause for optimism. Of course meeting ANY of the goals would have been the best news, but when life gives you lemons, make an unendurable hellhole for our troops to be stuck in I always say. It isn’t the insurgency that is the problem though.. No, civil war has nothing to do with our problems in Iraq. Those problems are all caused by outsiders getting involved in Iraq (like we are I guess). Foreign terrorists are our enemies!”

“The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that's why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

“Really? The same folks? Aren’t the people who hijacked those airplanes, you know… dead?”

“And the guys who had perpetuated the attacks on America -- obviously, the guys on the airplane are dead, and the commanders, many of those are either dead or in captivity, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

“’There is a perception in the coverage that Al Qaeda may be as strong today as they were prior to September the 11th,’ Bush said. ‘That's just simply not the case. I think the report will say, since 2001, not prior to September the 11th, 2001, because of the actions we have taken, Al Qaeda is weaker today than they would have been.’”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

“So we’re winning in our War on Terra? Good, because it sounds like things are pretty bad..”

“A new National Intelligence Estimate presents a sobering analysis of terrorism threats to the United States, concluding that Al Qaeda has reconstituted its core structure along the Pakistani border and may now be a stronger and more resilient organization today than it appeared a year ago, according to three U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the draft document.
-Newsweek, July 11, 2007

“Leaks of a US intelligence report show Al Qaeda's operating capabilities are at their strongest since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The report suggests the network has rebuilt itself despite a six-year campaign to dismantle it.”
-ABC News, July 13, 2007

“So what you are saying is that the ‘perception in the coverage’ is incorrect, though that coverage is based upon your own intelligence reports? I guess that you really can’t believe everything that you read.”

“Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US”
-Presidential Daily Briefing, August 6, 2001

“At least I hope that you aren’t just skipping through the reports just looking for the pictures. No, we are winning the War on Terra, and we are winning the War in Iraq. Our successes are entirely due to Fearless Leader, while our failures.. well, someone else made those problems.”

“I mean, one of the questions is, should we have sent more in the beginning? Well, I asked that question, do you need more, to General Tommy Franks. In the first phase of this operation, General Franks was obviously in charge, and during our discussions in the run up to the decision to remove Saddam Hussein after he ignored the Security Council resolutions. My primary question to General Franks was, do you have what it takes to succeed? And do you have what it takes to succeed after you succeed in removing Saddam Hussein? And his answer was, yes. Now, history is going to look back to determine whether or not there might have been a different decision made. But at the time, the only thing I can tell you, Wendell, is that I relied upon our military commander to make the proper decision about troop strength.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

“But, despite the apparent difficulties with our success in Iraq, we need to stay longer, because Fearless Leader cannot afford to listen to the majority of the American people.”

“In other words, if our troops said, well, here we are in combat, and we've got a Commander-in-Chief who is running a focus group -- in other words, politics is more important to him than our safety and/or our strategy -- that would dispirit our troops.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 12, 2007

“Yes, removing the troops from a 360 degree combat zone in Iraq would be bad because it might hurt their feelings. Unlike, you know, IEDs and rifles, which only hurt their bodies and may kill or cripple them for life. Well said Fearless Leader.. Well said.”

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