Monthly Archives: March 2006

Froomkin on Domenech

From Holden:

Dan Froomkin is too smart to say anything controversial about the decision to hire a 25-year-old, home-schooled, college-drop-out, plagiarising racist.

Richmond, Va,: Your thoughts on the role of the progressive blogosphere and its impact on the mainstream media? In recent months, they have actually mobilized their readers to campaign against the mainstream media with some notable successes, mainly with the Washington Post (Domenech and Howell’s misstatements on Abramoff).

Dan Froomkin: I think that a lot of reporters and editors within the traditional media have internalized a nearly-physical aversion to doing anything that they think might somehow make them vulnerable to the accusation that they are liberal. That may have something to do with a concerted campaign by conservatives dating back several decades.

It’s possible that, over time, an assertive progressive blogosphere will prompt an analogous aversion in the other direction, but I’m not sure.

The best case scenario, and I actually see this as more likely, is that reporters and editors will increasingly realize that no matter what they say, someone will attack them, so they might as well just flat-out call it like they see it and take the lumps.

I think Dan owes Jim Brady big time for making Froomkin the most popular journalist/blogger in America.

Boston, Mass.: I know you may be loathe to get yourself involved in the Domenech discussion, but the big elephant in the room that is the pretty obvious inference that he was hired because Brady and others think that you’re a partisan attack dog. To assert that there’s some other reason for his hiring insults the intelligence of the readers.

So my question is: what would be your suggestion for the type of people to hire to represent “a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies”, as Mr. Brady has said is his goal?

Dan Froomkin: Thank you. A lot of questions about this today, not surprisingly. But I am in fact, as you suggest, loathe to weigh in.

As with the last kerfuffle, I’ve been blown away by all the supportive words from readers and bloggers. I thank you. And I think you’ve been more eloquent than I could possibly be.

I can direct you to my response back in December to the ombudsman’s suggestion that my column is “highly opinionated and liberal.” In short, I wrote: “There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny.”

I admire what the Web site has done and continues to try to do with blogs and opinion columns. I think voice thrives on the Internet, and I am all for many voices.

But beyond that, I will not give the Web site any advice. At least not publicly.

Another NOLA obstacle

From Scout:

There are so many obstacles to overcome in rebuilding a city. Here’s another….

As people in the New Orleans area try to get on with their lives by acquiring new homes, they’re discovering that most homeowners insurance companies operating in Louisiana aren’t interested in insuring their homes. The situation is delaying, and sometimes scuttling, real estate closings, and public officials worry that high prices and limited availability of homeowners insurance could deter banks from lending money and derail efforts to rebuild New Orleans.

“It’s very difficult but not impossible” to get homeowners insurance, state Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said. “It’s a very serious problem. Our state cannot recover without the availability of homeowners insurance. Bankers tell me that, builders tell me that, and economists tell me that.”

November elections can not come soon enough for the people of NOLA. We need to take Congress back

When Handholding Goes Wrong

From Holden:

Looks like the Saudis are getting the bomb. From Forbes.

Saudi Arabia is working secretly on a nuclear program, with help from Pakistani experts, the German magazine Cicero reported in its latest edition, citing Western security sources.

Continues, click Read More.

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Blogger Wins Prestigious Journalism Award

From Holden:

Congratulations Juan Cole!

[T]he first Aronson Award for blogging is going to University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole for his Iraq War-related “Informed Comment” blog.

Molly Ivins won an Aronson as well. Congratulations Molly!

The Usual Suspects

From Holden:

Two weeks ago Chimpy gave his little Iraq speech to an audience screened by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose board includes such luminaries as Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Louis Freeh, Joseph Lieberman, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey, Gary Bauer, Donna Brazile, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and Zell Miller.

This week an organization called Freedom House did the screening. And the Freedom House board? Well, it includes Steve Forbes, Kenneth L. Adelman, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Anthony Lake, Mara Liasson, and Diana Negroponte (wife of John Negroponte).

From Scout: At After the

From Scout:

At After the Levees Boyd Blundell writes about the Poor Nolas family living in Bush Gardens to demonstrate the fear that America is abandoning New Orleans. In my previous post I examined how it is that America can be doing this but perhaps had the cart before the horse in that one must first accept the dirty truth that this is now occurring……

It’s been a very bad year for the Nolas; as disastrous a year as anyone can remember. Their house burned to the ground, the entire property is destroyed, and they can’t even think about the expense rebuilding the family house until all sorts of even more expensive repairs are done to the property. Much of the family is bunking with neighbors. Some died in the fire, and a few are unaccounted for. And while the fire department and other emergency services haven’t done such a great job, most of the people in Bush Gardens are great. They seem to feel really good about helping the Nolas. But when it becomes clear that the help needs to be ongoing, the enthusiasm of many starts to wane. Because the causes of the Nola’s sudden “poverty” are very complicated and not easily fixable, many quickly become distracted by other things. Some are actually quite hostile, as though the Nola’s flagrant suffering is an insult to their sense of propriety.

(more after cut…click Read More)

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Good News from Iraq!

From Holden:

I found some!

Around 30-40 bodies, many shot in the head and showing signs of torture, are being found on the streets of [Baghdad] every day, morgue officials say.

No, wait, what about this?

Special inspector general for reconstruction Stuart Bowen told Reuters in Washington he saw signs of progress, but remained concerned about corruption and waste.

In one case, an audit showed a $243 million project to build 150 health clinics would produce just 20.

There you go. Twenty health clinics for the price of 150. That’s good news!

Halliburton, Again

From Holden:

Damn, I can’t wait until Rep. Henry Waxman gets subpeona power.

Even as a Halliburton subsidiary was absorbing harsh criticism of its costs on a 2003 no-bid contract for work in Iraq, the government officials overseeing a second contract wrote that the company was running up exorbitant new expenses on similar work, according to a report issued yesterday by the staff for the Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee.

The report, prepared for a frequent critic of Halliburton, Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, was based on previously undisclosed correspondence and performance evaluations from 2004 and 2005.

The documents show that the government’s contracting officers became increasingly frustrated as they tried to penetrate what they considered to be inaccurate or misleading progress reports and expense vouchers filed by the subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root.

Keep reading by clicking Read More…

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A Question of Ugly Americans

From Scout:

I remember a woman in Mississippi who was clearly upset by the lack of attention paid to their plight asking me, “What is the rest of the country saying about us?’ Actually what I remember more clearly was my silence as I debated telling the truth…Not much, Sorry…or coming up with some other less painful answer.

Just why isn’t Katrina getting more attention? It’s a question I’ve asked myself time and again. And I do try to answer it. Is it that Americans are not informed, have a short attention span, it’s complicated, its overwhelming, maybe its racism, they’re too busy, they just don’t care, too selfish? I’ve yet to make sense of it so I’ve not written about it. But I decided it was time to begin tackling it more directly. In the process of doing so I’ve found some ugly questions. I hope you’ll read on and give some thought to mine or yours.

First I went to the Polling Report to see if there were any answers as to what is going on with Americans. Here’s a quick shot of polling results from the few recent polls (Feb ‘06).

–Are Americans satisfied with what is occurring regarding Katrina? NO… Only 31% are pleased or satisfied with rebuilding efforts.

–Approve of Bush’s handling of response? NO….Polls have a range of 57% to 64% disapproval on Katrina response

— As for future handling? 72% believe that Bush has no plan yet.

— Are Americans aware it is bad? Yes… In one poll 87% stated that the Gulf Coast is still badly damaged.

–Is it a priority to Americans? Apparently…respondents placed Katrina recovery over Iraq as a priority by 64-31% in one poll.

So perhaps Americans are aware and disapprove. It gets more telling though when you get down to dollars. In a CBS poll 66% of respondents think federal agencies should be doing more. But in an AP poll 66% believe the feds are spending too much or the right amount. It’s different polls but this points to an incredible disconnect….. The federal government should do more but we don’t want to pay for it? Is this the ‘When Pigs Fly Recovery Plan‘? Or are there other explanations.

(more after the cut…click Read More)

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Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Little Scottie McClellan: Card Shark.

Q Does the President think that this move today will satisfy the concerns of many Republicans who were calling for a White House shakeup?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Terry, I know that there’s a tendency in this town to look at it in those terms and look at it in kind of zero-sum ways. That’s not the way the President approached this. Let me back up, because I think it’s best to kind of lay out some of the facts for you.


But I think Andy recognized that it is time for a change. So he and the President had a good discussion about that over the last few weeks. The President reached out to Josh, to talk to him about the possibility of succeeding Andy. And that’s some of the facts.


Q The question, though, Scott is, did the President feel the change was necessary as he tries to better his political standing in his second term?

There’s more in store for Scottie the Whore — Click Read More!

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My, My, How Things Change

From Holden:

Your President Speaks, June 24, 2005:

The Prime Minister is a great Iraqi patriot, he’s a friend of liberty, he’s a strong partner for peace and freedom.


I appreciate Prime Minister Jaafari’s brave leadership. Prime Minister Jaafari is a bold man. I’ve enjoyed my discussions with the Prime Minister. He is a frank, open fellow who is willing to tell me what’s on his mind. And what is on his mind is peace and security for the people of Iraq, and what is on his mind is a democratic future that is hopeful.

I want to thank you for your courage. I want to thank you for your understanding about the nature of free societies. I want to thank you for helping Iraq become a beacon of freedom.

And now:

The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the head of the main Shiite political bloc at a meeting last Saturday to pass a “personal message from President Bush” on to the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who the Shiites insist should stay in his post for four more years, said Redha Jowad Taki, a Shiite politician and member of Parliament who was at the meeting.

Ambassador Khalilzad said that President Bush “doesn’t want, doesn’t support, doesn’t accept” Mr. Jaafari to be the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first “clear and direct message” from the Americans on the issue of the candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.

Your Liberal Media


More than 260 friends, relatives and beneficiaries of Abramoff’s largesse have written letters to a federal judge who is sentencing him Wednesday, asking that he be shown mercy and viewed in a different light.


Abramoff is “a man of exceptional generosity and kindness, often to those he doesn’t even know,” former ABC News reporter Tim O’Brien wrote.

Via Romenesko.


FEMA to miss deadline for flood maps

From Scout:

FEMA had promised the flood maps which will guide how or whether people in NOLA will rebuild would be out at the end of the month. Now they say they will not make the deadline (again) and would not say when the maps will be done..

“I’m not happy with the progress we’ve made on the base flood elevation maps. We’re going to push to get them out as quickly as possible. They need to come out quickly,” said R. David Paulison, acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “But we want them to be right. They have to be right because of such a large percentage of the population living behind levees.”

In a meeting at The Times-Picayune, Paulison and other officials declined to say when that might be, although he acknowledged that the lack of new base flood elevations — they were last done in 1984 — is delaying many homeowners as they make plans to repair or rebuild their homes.

“We want them out as badly as you do,” Paulison said.

I assume Mr. Paulison lives in a house-like-structure, not a “two-door mid-sized sedan,” so I doubt he “wants them out as as badly” as the people in NOLA. It’s interesting that he didn’t say that people should just go ahead and rebuild anyway as a FEMA official had said last week.

UPDATE: Here is Gov. Blanco’s reaction

“I say, if FEMA has to keep people working around the clock to produce the flood maps, by all means do it. Enough is enough,” Gov. Blanco said.

When Sovereignty Bites You In The Ass

From Holden:

Juan Cole:

The Badr Organization, a political party that represents the paramilitary Badr Corps, the Shiite militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, demanded Monday that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, be expelled from that country.

George Bush: Unpopular President

From Holden:

My fellow South Austinite John Kelso conducted an informal survey earlier this month.

A couple weeks ago, I asked y’all to vote on who you thought should have the lowest approval rating: George W., Saddam Hussein, Kenneth Lay, O.J. Simpson, Barry Bonds, Jeffrey “Let’s Do Lunch” Dahmer and Sarah, the nasty old former bartender out at the Dry Creek Cafe on Mount Bonnell Road.

One guy e-mailed me all honked off for including Osama bin Laden in the same poll with George W. I never mentioned bin Laden in my poll, and I told the guy so. Seems he had gotten bin Laden and Saddam mixed up.

Isn’t that how we got into this Iraq mess in the first place?

Bush was a shoo-in for lowest approval rating with 534 votes, or 62.17 percent of the vote. Sarah came in a distant second with 89 votes, or 10.36 percent. What this proves is that there are more people chapped about the war in Iraq than there are folks who have been thrown out of the Dry Creek Cafe.

The rest of the field came in like this: Hussein, 83 votes (9.66 percent); Dahmer, 47 votes (5.47 percent); Simpson, 45 votes (5.24 percent); Bonds, 32 votes (3.73 percent) and Lay, 29 votes (3.38 percent).

There’s more of to read, so click Read More!

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And Card’s Place In American History

From Holden:

On September 11, 2001, Andy Card made the President of the United States of America shit his pants in front of a classroom full of Florida schoolchildren.

REUTERS/Win McNamee/Files

Thank you, Andy.

How To Tell You’ve Journalistically Fucked Up

When Howard Kurtz tells you your face is too far up Bush’s ass:

Wheeling, W.Va.: Last week President Bush visited my hometown of Wheeling, West Virgina for a town hall meeting. The local publisher, Ogden Newspapers, proudly listed itself as a ‘sponsor’ of the visit, along with the local Chamber of Commerce and some other businesses. The papers (yes, we still have morning and afternoon papers, both owned by Ogden) had numerous articles over the course of about a week before and after the visit, as well as several editorials. I would characterize the coverage as supportive of the President to the point of giddiness. I have to say that I was surprised by this – not so much by the editorializing, as the editorial pages of the Ogden papers have always been quite conservative – but by the papers’ sponsorship of the visit and the cheerleading news articles. What do you think of the publishing company’s sponsorship?

Howard Kurtz: I had not heard that the papers co-sponsored the Bush visit. What a journalistic blunder. Why compromise yourself in that fashion when it’s a big local story that your reporters will have to cover?