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Holiday, Not Holy Day?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Ignoring Iraq Advice?

Senator John Kerry has repeatedly said that the president is ignoring the advice of his own commanders by not withdrawing troops from Iraq most recently telling CBS’ “Face the Nation,” "General Casey, the commander of our forces...has said the large presence of American forces in Iraq feeds the notion of occupation." In fact, Casey told the Senate Armed Services committee in September that he had a sufficient number of troops, saying, "increased coalition presence feeds the notion of occupation."

What's more, Casey said eventual troop withdrawal is a vital part of the administration's plan, saying, "Reducing the visibility and, ultimately, the presence of coalition forces as we transition to Iraqi security self-reliance remains a key element of our overall counterinsurgency strategy." Kerry is now calling for exactly that.

Blanco's Misunderstanding

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco apparently refused to allow the state National Guard to be placed under federal control in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina because she and her staff didn't understand the state's role in commanding the troops. More than 100,000 pages of documents released by the Democratic governor show that her team was not familiar with National Guard procedures and one aide tells The Washington Post that staffers didn't even know what the term 'unified command' meant.

Though the President refused to criticize Blanco at the time, the documents show that Blanco's team believed the administration was trying to scapegoat them. The papers also show that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid got involved, telling Blanco's staff that Democrats were "mobilizing big-time to push back on criticism of the state."

Denouncing DNC Attack

The Democratic National Committee's plan to "shame" Republicans who attack Democrats for speaking out against the war in Iraq has stalled after an advertising company refused to run their "negative" ads. The Washington Times reports the DNC had planned to erect "Shame on you" billboards in the Republicans' home districts, starting with Ohio Representative Jean Schmidt, who was accused of calling Pennsylvania Democrat and former Marine John Murtha a coward. But after signing a contract with the DNC, the billboard company rejected the ad, calling it "too negative." DNC lawyers are demanding that the company honor its contract to put up the ads.

Closed for Christmas

It seems even places of worship aren't immune to secularizing Christmas. Some of the country's largest churches are shutting their doors on Christmas Day so that staff and volunteers can spend time with their families. So-called megachurches near Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Detroit, where thousands of people worship each week, are closing for Christmas, despite the fact that the holiday falls on a Sunday.

What's more, pastors at the churches report that the decision hasn't generated much controversy. One Kentucky pastor says Christmas is no longer sacred to many Americans, adding, "It's viewed more as a holiday than a holy day."

— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume