Monthly Archives: October 2006

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

Pity the traveling press corps, flying to Georgia andstuck with Dana Peroxide.

Q Did Steve Hadley go to Iraq — what for?

MS. PERINO: Yes, I can confirm that Mr. Hadley did go to Iraq. This is a long-planned trip to the region. With the President out of town this week, it’s a good time for him to go, as part of our ongoing assessments and continued cooperation to get Iraq to be a democratically led country that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and become an ally in the war on terror. I’m not going to provide any other information about his movements, for his security, but we’ll keep you updated as appropriate and as we’re able to provide more information.

Right. The people who believe Hadley’s trip was “long-planned” also believe Dana is a natural blonde.

How’s the puppet working out these days, Dana?

Q Is the White House getting a sense that there’s a need for other person-to-person contact? You have this phone call between the Prime Minister and the President on Saturday; now Hadley is there. There has been a lot of talk of some dissatisfaction within the Iraqi government with the ambassador. And so is it time for others to sort of step in and provide that face-to-face contact?

MS. PERINO: I haven’t heard any discussion of that. I think that any time you can have a face-to-face discussion, despite the difficult logistics that are presented in the current situation because of the security — and also because of the distance — that — certainly, secure video provides you a little bit of that opportunity. It’s certainly not as intimate as a personal meeting. And he really felt — I think that the President enjoyed his time — well, I know that he enjoyed his trip to Baghdad, and then when Mr. Maliki had been in town and participated at the White House, it always is good for relationship building.

But I think those two men, in particular, feel like their relationship is strong and that they have a common goal, and one — it’s a matter of execution. And the statement that we released on Saturday talks about the three goals that they’re working on, in terms of turning over security forces.

I haven’t heard any discussion — I’ve certainly read reports that there might be some people discussing dissatisfaction with one person or another, but it’s not anything that’s widely talked about within the White House. I think everyone is focused, has their eye on the ball and focused on getting the job done.

Yeah, right, whatever. Maliki is playing Chimpy like a drum.

Cartoon of the Day

Actually, thisLuckovich cartoon was published Friday, but it’s a good one.

Monday Morning Must-Read

Check outJuan Cole onJeff Jarvis’ andDoughy Pantload’s abandonment of their Iraq War videogame.

To-Do List

New column’s up:

In a vague order of priority known as “things I’d like to see them do,” here are the tasks which could face a Democratic Congress:

A repeal of the Military Commissions Act, signed by the president last week, which condones torture and cancels out centuries of established law by giving the executive branch the right to determine, on its own and with no oversight, who does and does not deserve a hearing on the charges against him. The law is monstrous, unnecessary, and unworthy of a great nation, and erasing it from the books should be a new congress’s first priority.

The rebuilding of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. The devastation of the Crescent City was not caused by Hurricane Katrina but by the failure of the government-built levees surrounding the metropolis. Those levees have not yet been rebuilt to sustain another Katrina-level storm, and much of the area remains destroyed by water damage. A major effort is needed to make this part of the country a priority for all of America.

Hearings on the Mark Foley scandal. The Republican Congress held hours of hearings on whether former vice president Al Gore used the wrong phone to make fundraising calls, but acts as if it is allergic to the same treatment for a congressman’s sexual harassment of a teenage page.

As many resolutions as it takes to make the president realize it is time for our troops to come home from Iraq. No more false markers for progress, no more rosy predictions, no more “as soon as the Iraqis stand up.” It’s time to stop pretending things will get better and paying for those delusions in American blood.

And last but not least, the question of impeachment. I don’t bring that possibility up lightly. The Republican Party showed America how terrible our politics can be when they wielded impeachment as a political cudgel. But because the GOP used this most severe of penalties for trivial indiscretions does not remove it from use for addressing the grave transgressions of peddling falsehoods to take a nation to war, condoning torture, and increasing terrorism around the world. Impeachment deserves at least to be considered with regards to this president.


Wake Me When They Start Calling Him “Chimpy”

Time magazine calls Bush the “Republican resident”.

This midterm election is also turning out to be all about Bush, but it’s a much lonelier experience for him. He still fills smaller rooms, especially the kind where people are willing to write five-figure checks for the privilege of lunch with a Republican resident.

A Superhero Movie In The Making

Eat your heart out, Justice League:

I give you a mere sampling of America’s mighty progressive champions.

Sir Al Gore – all-powerful guardian of the planet

Sir John Edwards – tireless champion of the poor and disadvantaged

Sir Byron Dorgan – relentless protector of the middle-class

Sir Russ Feingold – diligent defender of the constitution

Sir Henry Waxman – ace eliminator of governmental waste and fraud

Sir John Conyers – eagle-eyed enforcer of all things judiciary

But a few card-carrying members of our illustrious blue team ready, willing and able to right this wavering ship of state.


Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

OK, the White House dispensed with the likes of Dana Peroxide and Tony Fratto and brought back the A-Team (such as it is) in the guise of Pony Blow.

But one can hardly tell the difference astoday’s gaggle was largely occupied with Pony’s inability to convincingly explain away Dick Cheney’s love for waterboarding.

Q Tony, your argument that Vice President Cheney didn’t know that he was being asked about water boarding or wasn’t being asked about water boarding and didn’t intend to give an answer that suggested he was saying the United States uses water boarding, it doesn’t follow when you read the transcript and it doesn’t follow sort of common sense.

MR. SNOW: Well, I’ll tell you what he —

Q How can you really make that argument?

MR. SNOW: I’ll tell you what he said. He was asked the question, “You dunk somebody’s head in the water to save a life, is it a no-brainer?” And also, if you read the rest of the answer, he also — the Vice President, who earlier had also been asked about torture, he said, “We don’t torture.”


Q Then how can you say that he’s not referring to water boarding, when it was very clear, when you look at the whole context, not only that specific question —

MR. SNOW: Does the word —

Q — but the one before?

MR. SNOW: Did the word “water boarding” appear?

Q It came up in the context of talking about interrogation techniques and the entire debate that has been conducted in this country.

MR. SNOW: I understand that. I’ll tell you what the Vice President said. You can push all you want, wasn’t referring to water boarding and would not talk about techniques.

Q Let’s Holden it up here for a second, because what we’re saying is — and I’ve got the transcript — “Would you agree a dunk in water is a ‘no-brainer’ that can save lives?” Vice President: “It’s a ‘no-brainer’ for me.” Tony —

MR. SNOW: Read the rest of the answer.

Q What could “dunk in the water” refer to if not water boarding?

MR. SNOW: I’m just telling you — I’m telling you the Vice President’s position. I will let you draw your own conclusions, because you clearly have. He says he wasn’t talking —

Q I haven’t drawn any conclusions. I’m asking for an explanation about what “dunk in the water” could mean.

MR. SNOW: How about a dunk in the water?

Q So, wait a minute, so “dunk in the water” means what, we have a pool now at Guantanamo, and they go swimming?

MR. SNOW: Are you doing stand up?

Obsession continues…

Continue reading

Editors blown away by Gulf Coast destruction

The Associated Press Managing Editors has been meeting in New Orleans for its yearly conference. Part of the agenda was bus tours through the devastated areas of New Orleans and Mississippi.Editor and Publisher rode along with one tour. Here is reaction from some editors as they saw the devastation…

“I’m not sure people as far away as we are have grasped how little has changed, that this much devastation is still here,” said Judith Ettenhofer, managing editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wis…”It leaves you speechless. We all saw the photos, but to see how you go on with your life I can’t imagine.”

Cartoon of the Day

Ben Sargent.

Maliki is playing Chimpy like a drum.

Co-Starring With Sen. George Allen — Les!

Today at HuffPoBob Cesca notes that George F. Allen, Jr., appeared in the Confederate-friendly bombGods and Generals.

This reminded me that someone near and dear to my heart also appeared in that film: Les Kinsolving! Yes, Your Daily Les portrayed confederate Brigadier General William Barksdale, a role he revisited inG and G after debuting it in the equally-floppy filmGettysburg.

That’s Les in costume on the right.

Your President Speaks!

Chimpy was inDes Moines, Iowa, yesterday campaigning for Republikkkan congressional candidateJeff Lamberti.

Dave’s Not Here, Man

No doubt in my mind, with your help, Dave [sic] Lamberti will be the next United States congressman.

Dave [sic] and I believe a lot of things. We believe that you ought to keep more of your own money. We believe in family values. We believe values are important. And we believe marriage is a fundamental institution of civilization.

Put Just Of Your Money In The Hat

I appreciate you giving — helping fill the hat. But I also want to encourage you to make sure you do more than contribute just of your money. I ask you to contribute of your time and your efforts.

Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three.

We believe — the congressman-to-be and I believe — the Senator, congressman-to-be and two Congressmen and I believe that we think you can spend your money far better than the federal government can spend your money.

The Befuddled War President

You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one.

Delirium Tremens

The best way to secure the peace for the United States, the best way to do — the most important job of the federal government is to support the troops, to support the young democracy, and defeat the enemy in Iraq — and what we’ll do.

It’s Got A Lesson

One of my favorite stories to share is the story that happened here a couple of weeks ago — or weeks ago — when I went to Elvis’s place in Memphis with then-sitting Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. The reason I like to share that story is because it’s got a good lesson for our citizens, particularly younger citizens who may not have really studied that period of history too much, the history of Japan-U.S. relations.

Fighting the Moderates

We talked about the fact that Japan had a thousand troops in Iraq to help that young democracy fight off the extremists and moderates — to help the moderates fight off the extremists.

Talk the Peace

Isn’t it interesting that the son of a man who fought the Japanese is able to talk the peace with the Prime Minister of a former enemy.


Good discussion of the Clenis going on recently. But there’s one thing Clinton demonstrated quite clearly in his 1992 election, and it’s not what’s being highlighted here.

It’s the need to have a credible third party candidate to split the GOP and cause massive infighting amongst the Republicans.

Roy Moore 2008! Who’s with me?

I’m not being facetious about this. Were it not for Nader, Gore would have won clearly in 2000. Had somebody been able to peel off even a tiny fraction of Bush’s support, I’m not talking Ross Perot-sized pie slices, I’m talking 2-3 percent, Kerry would be nearing his sixth month as our president.

When are Democrats going to wake up and smell the hazelnut-flavored cream substitute here? We don’t need Clinton redux, we don’t need a candidate who can appeal to his or that faction better, we don’t even need better packaging so much as we need somebody to peel off the fundie or the fiscal base and make them believe that the mainstream GOP candidate just doesn’t get it. It’s not about finding our perfect candidate. It’s doing everything we can to make sure it looks like their candidate sucks.

It’s why I’m giving up my flirtation with agnosticism, so I can pray to God it’s Giuliani in ’08. A divorced, philandering, pro-choice Republican would open the door to exactly the kind of interfraternity squabble that would convince somebody like Moore to jump in. And then we can sit back, pop the popcorn, and watch whatever moderate sunshiny boy or girl we choose waltz into the Oval no matter what the Wurlitzer cranks out.


When Will Senator Allen Denounce Susan Combs?

Republikkkans write steamy books, too.

Instead of tax policy, it’s falling pajama bottoms. Instead of internal audits, it’s heavy breathing.

Welcome to the Texas comptroller’s race — normally a staid affair, but this year steamed up by the contents of a novel written 26 years ago by one of the candidates, Republican Susan Combs.

Although the book includes its share of overheated moments, a spokesman for the Combs campaign denies that it’s pornography, as Combs’ Democratic opponent has claimed.


But Democrat Fred Head, 67, says he knows pornography when he sees it — and Combs book, he says, is definitely pornography.

“Susan Combs claims to be a person of high moral standards [but] her record of writing, having published and selling a pornographic book, clearly shows that Susan Combs is a two-faced hypocrite who was obviously more concerned with her literary career and seeing her name in print than the morals of the young people of Texas,” the Head campaign says on itsWeb site.

Safavian Gets 18 Months

David Safavian gets about half the sentence prosecutors were recommending. Still, it’s hard to spin this asgood news for the Bush Assministration.

Former White House official David Safavian was sentenced to 18 months in prison for lying and obstructing justice in the investigation of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


“This was an abuse of the public’s trust,” U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said in imposing sentence today in Washington.

Bill Nelson Does It Right

With a 35 point lead in the polls on the hapless Katherine Harris and a campaign war chest seven times that of his opponent, Senator Bill Nelson is spreading the wealth.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — ahead in the polls and in fundraising — transferred another $250,000 to the Florida Democratic Party on Thursday, a sign that his campaign is confident of a win and in his ability to help his party.

Nelson already had given $250,000 to the state party in September and raised another $600,000 for the party and tight races for governor, attorney general and chief financial officer.

The Orlando Democrat also raised or donated $1.2 million to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, bringing his total contribution to the party in the 2006 elections to $2.3 million.

An e-mail Nelson sent to his backers, in which he asked specifically for cash for three Florida congressional candidates in tight races, netted another $30,000.

In the last campaign-finance report, Nelson had $6.8 million on hand, compared with $964,000 for GOP opponent Katherine Harris.

As of this week, Nelson had booked TV time statewide through Election Day, spokesman Bryan Gulley said. Those spots chew up about $2 million a week, though Gulley said there was still cash on hand.

Throw The Book At The Crybaby


Former Bush administration official David Safavian wept as he asked for leniency in his obstruction of justice case Friday, telling a judge that his lobbyist friend Jack Abramoff manipulated him and drew him into the scandal.


“Yes, Jack Abramoff was a friend but he wasn’t my coconspirator and I wasn’t his,” Safavian said. “There was no conspiracy to defraud anyone, least of all the taxpayers.”

Safavian didn’t say, however, what U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman wanted to hear. Early in the hearing, Friedman told defense attorneys he was leaning toward a sentence of 15-21 months in prison and was not convinced Safavian had accepted responsibility for his crimes.

“Get up here and tell me, ‘I agree I concealed. I agree I obstructed justice,'” Friedman said earlier in the day. “I don’t believe he’s done that.”

Friedman said he would issue a sentence after court returned from lunch at 1:45 p.m.

The Other Graveyard

US military fighting vehicles damaged in Iraqare repaired in Texas.

As bullet-riddled, bomb-scarred fighting vehicles are slowly towed into the production lines of the Red River Army Depot in northeast Texas, 57-year-old Elnora Harris often wonders about the young soldiers who have been in them, traveling in harm’s way through the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.


In a business made brisk by world conflict, Red River officials say they do not have enough money or manpower to keep up with the incoming shipments of crippled combat vehicles. Row after row of disabled Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, cargo trucks and ambulances line the back lots of the depot — a graveyard of metal.

Between 6,200 and 7,000 battle-worn vehicles are parked on those lots, and officials say it would cost as much as $65,000 to fix each of the Humvees and $500,000 to $1 million to repair each Bradley. A new battle-worthy Humvee, decked out with high-tech communication gear and state-of the-art armor, costs the government about $190,000. A big Bradley costs $2.2 million, Army officials said.


Concern for the welfare of young soldiers strikes hardest for Harris whenever she climbs inside a big Bradley, preparing it for an overhaul, and finds pictures of loved ones and discarded notes, written with a shaky hand.

“They’re mostly letters to their sweethearts. How they miss them. And want to come home,” she said.

“It’s sad,” Harris added, always wondering whether the soldiers made it out.

Despite the current production pace, disabled fighting vehicles fill the back lots of the 18,000-acre Red River Army Depot, some simply worn out by the grit of war, others showing signs of a devastating attack, crumpled by improvised explosive devices, known more commonly as IEDs.

The shattered lines on thick bulletproof windshields tell the story of heavy gunfire absorbed by American troops. Jagged holes, pointed inward in floorboards, convey the horrifying picture of an explosive going off directly under the seats of traveling soldiers. Melted tires and charred metal are clear reminders of the heat of danger in a distant war.

Let’s Talk About The Economy

The US economy sputtered to an anemic1.6% increase in GDP during the third quarter of 2006, the worst showing in three-and-a-half years.

Economic growth slowed to a crawl in the third quarter, advancing at a pace of just 1.6 percent, the worst in more than three years.

The latest snapshot of the economy, released by the Commerce Department on Friday, showed that the slumping housing market figured prominently in the economy’s dramatic loss of momentum. Investment in homebuilding was cut by the biggest amount since early 1991.

The reading on gross domestic product was weaker than the 2.1 percent pace many economists were forecasting.


The third quarter’s 1.6 percent growth rate was the weakest since the first quarter of 2003, when the economy grew at a 1.2 percent annual rate.

The latest performance underscores just how much speed the economy has lost this year.

In the opening quarter, the economy grew at a brisk 5.6 percent pace, the strongest growth spurt in 2 1/2 years. But growth slowed to a 2.6 percent pace in the second quarter as consumers and businesses tightened the belt in response to the toll of rising energy prices and the impact of two-plus years of rising borrowing costs.

Karl E. Rove: SUPER genius.

Someone’s Lyin’

Either Chimpy, Cheney, or (more likely)both.

Q Sir, do you agree with the Vice President that a dunk in the water is a “no brainer” when it comes to interrogating a terror suspect?

PRESIDENT BUSH: This country doesn’t torture, we’re not going to torture. We will interrogate people we pick up off the battlefield to determine whether or not they’ve got information that will be helpful to protect the country.