Author Archives: holdencaulfieldfd

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Well, looks like we’re stuck with Tony Farto again today (hat-tip to montag for the nick), I guess no one else wanted to go to Crawford.

Tony Farto Lectures A Former President

Q President Carter amended his comments over the weekend, this morning, saying essentially he didn’t mean to say that the Bush administration’s foreign policy was the worst in history, he was talking about it more in comparison with Nixon’s foreign policy. Do you have any response to that?

MR. FRATTO: I don’t think I have response — a specific response to that. I think it just highlights the importance of being careful in choosing your words. I’ll just leave it at that.

“The Importance of being careful in choosing your words.” This From The Guy Who Called Our 39th President“Increasingly Irrelevant”

The Iraqi Government Moves About As Fast As Cheney’s Bowels

Q Tony, you mentioned that when the President spoke to the Prime Minister this morning he got some updates on some of these key measures — the hydrocarbon law and constitutional review. Are we getting — is the President getting any commitments about when those things will happen?

MR. FRATTO: It’s very hard to put a sense of timing on some of these things. Obviously, we want the Iraqis and the Iraqi parliament to move as quickly as possible. Progress on advancing these initiatives is not moving as quickly as anyone wants, and I think that includes Prime Minister Maliki and many members of parliament.

So we don’t have a specific time frame on that. We want to see them move quickly. Obviously, those are elements of benchmarks that we’ve talked about and that Prime Minister Maliki has talked about. We think they’re essential for bringing peace and security and an equity feeling in a national Iraq that is, to a large part, based on those kinds of reforms. So we want to see progress on those issues.

What Did The President Know And When Did He Know It?

It’s past time for Senator Carl Levin to call General Anthony Teguba and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify about Abu Ghraib.

The White House on Sunday insisted that President George W. Bush first learned about abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison from media reports, contrary to assertions by a former top general that Bush likely knew about the scandal before it broke.

“The President said over three years ago that he first saw the pictures of the abuse on television,” said White House spokesperson Scott Stanzel in Crawford, Texas, where Bush is spending the weekend at his ranch.

Stanzel was responding to questions about a New Yorker magazine report quoting the top military investigator of the Abu Ghraib scandal, retired Army Major General Antonio Taguba, as saying “the president had to be aware” of the abuse of prisoners by US military guards at the facility.


“The question you have to ask about the president is this: No matter when he learned — and certainly he learned before it became public, and no matter how detailed it was — is there any evidence that the president of the United States said to Rumsfeld, what’s going on there, Don? Let’s get an investigation going,” [investigative reporter Seymour] Hersh told CNN.

Looking For The Bottom

The housing market can’t seem to find it.

Sentiment among U.S. home builders slid in June to the lowest level in more than 16 years as tighter lender practices and rising mortgage rates crimped sales, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index fell two points to 28 in June, the lowest since it hit 27 in February of 1991, the group said.

Economists had predicted the index would be unchanged from May’s 30 reading, based on a Reuters survey. Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor rather than favorable.

Nobody Likes The Chimp

Chimpy is stuck at his all-time low job approval rating of 35% in the latest Diageo/Hotline Poll.

Bush Job Approval
Approve: 35%
Disapprove: 62%

This marks the second consecutive month he’s been judged at 35% job approval and the third month out of the last four.

But wait, it gets worse for The Chimpster. A majority of those polled, 51%, strongly disapprove of the job he is doing.

Bush Job Approval
Strongly approve: 14%
Somewhat approve: 21%
Somewhat disapprove: 11%
Strongly disapprove: 51%

Yet a plurarlity of those polled approve of the job Nancy Pelosi is doing as Speaker of the House.

Pelosi Job Approval
Approve: 44% (strongly approve: 18%, somewhat approve: 26%)
Disapprove: 32% (somewhat disapprove: 10%. strongly disapprove: 22%)

People no longer like Bush personally, either.

Bush Favorability
Favorable: 36% (strongly favorable: 17%, somewhat favorable: 19%)
Unfavorable: 60% (somewhat unfavorable: 11%, strongly unfavorable: 49%)

Nancy Pelosi’s favorability rating matches the Chimp’s, but her unfavorability rating doesn’t come close to his.

Pelosi Favorability
Favorable: 36% (strongly favorable: 15%, somewhat favorable: 21%)
Unfavorable: 32% (somewhat unfavorable: 10%, strongly unfavorable: 22%)

Meanwhile, America loves Hillary Clinton…

Hillary Clinton Favorability
Favorable: 53% (strongly favorable: 27%, somewhat favorable: 25%)
Unfavorable: 41% (somewhat unfavorable: 12%, strongly unfavorable: 29%)

And John Edwards.

John Edwards Favorability
Favorable: 49% (strongly favorable: 17%, somewhat favorable: 32%)
Unfavorable: 29% (somewhat unfavorable: 14%, strongly unfavorable: 15%)


No self-respecting Republikkkan wants to be caught dead with Chimpy.

President Bush plans to visit New Jersey today to help raise money for the state’s cash-strapped and victory-starved Republican Party.

If southern New Jersey Republicans are any indication, though, the welcoming party will be rather small.

State Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlan-tic, will be busy attending events in his district.

So will U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd.

Cape May County Republican Party Chairman Donald Von Savage will not be there, either.

State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough, R-Atlantic, said he would like to go see the president in Edison Township but he must attend a meeting of the Egg Harbor Township Committee, which is voting on the municipal budget.
McCullough serves as the township mayor and said his constituents would not appreciate it if he were a no-show.

“If it was closer to home, I would go,” McCullough said. “I wouldn’t insult the president.”

The timing of the meeting could be a blessing in disguise for McCullough.

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Pony Blow Sets Helen Straight

MR. SNOW: Helen, to answer your question from this morning, the President met this morning by secure video teleconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and two members of the Presidency Council, Vice President Tariq Hashimi and Vice President Adel Mahdi. It’s the first time the President has met this group, the Prime Minister plus the Presidency Council, via secure teleconference.


Q Length —

MR. SNOW: It was about 40 minutes.

Q Did they discuss an exit strategy?

MR. SNOW: No. There was gratitude for America’s continued support.

Q Did they talk about the five British citizens who were —


Q And do you have anything more on that?


The Fifty Year War

Q Tony, on Iraq, for the gaggle you were asked about U.S. troops and just how long the presence would be there, the vision. And you compared it to the Korean model. Can you explain that?

MR. SNOW: Yes. It was actually a question that Helen raised and Helen used to create an analogy, but the President has used it before.

MS. THOMAS: Thank you. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: That is Helen Thomas, front row veteran. (Laughter.)

Q Spell it right. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Here is — what the President means by that is that at some point you want to get to a situation in which the Iraqis have the capability to go ahead and handle the fundamental matters of security. You have the United States there in what has been described as an over-the-horizon support role so that if you need the ability to react quickly to major challenges or crises, you can be there, but the Iraqis are conducting the lion’s share of the business — as we have in South Korea, where for many years there have been American forces stationed there as a way of maintaining stability and assurance on the part of the South Korean people against a North Korean neighbor that is a menace.


Q For 50 years?

Q Now, the Korean model, you’ve got thousands of U.S. troops there for some 50 years. I mean, how is that comparison and vision in that —

MR. SNOW: Wendell just asked the same question. I don’t think — again, that’s not strictly comparable because what you have is a North Korea that continues to be a threat, I mean as we’ve seen with the development of nuclear weapons. We’re hoping that the Iraqis, in fact, are going to have the kind of security and stability they need so that what you’re really dealing with is the internal security of Iraq, rather than trying to provide reassurance against an external foe.

Q So you’re not suggesting that U.S. troops would be there for over 50 years in a —

MR. SNOW: No, no, I’m not. I don’t know. It is an unanswerable question, but I’m not making that suggestion.

Q You’re not suggesting that there’s a parallel between the Korean model today and the Iraqi model today in terms of U.S. force posture?

MR. SNOW: No, what I’m saying is you get to a point in the future where you want it to be a purely support role. But, no, of course, we’re in active combat.

Q Tony, while there’s no way of telling whether we’ll be there 50 years, or not, but isn’t there planning going on for a significant number of troops to be there for a long time? I mean, do you still consider this a long war?

MR. SNOW: Well, the war on terror is a long war.

Continue reading

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Pony Blow openstoday’s gaggle by cracking on John Bolton.

Q John Bolton is up on the Hill, and he just said that the agreement — firstly, that he’s not a fan of the agreement, and that the North will be re-writing it every day it’s in existence, it’s a fantasy, it’s rewarding the North and sending a horrible message to the world about the U.S.’ stand on weapons of mass destruction.

MR. SNOW: Well, we stood by John Bolton in his time at the United Nations, including when he advocated the six-party agreement — the September 2005 agreement that, in fact, has been enacted today. One of the things that John Bolton did note is that there are carrots and sticks in the agreement, and as he said in October of ’06, which was just a few months ago, the carrots have been there, in a sense, for North Korea of the possibility of ending its isolation, ending the terrible impoverishment of its people. It’s the leadership that can’t seem to find the carrots that are out there. We think that the leadership has begun to find the carrots. We’re going to discover in due course whether they, in fact, are going to fulfill their part of the agreement. However, as we’ve already said up here, it is a trust-but-verify situation. This is not something where we are simply going to give things to the North Koreans on a timeline. This is all conditioned on their behavior.

Q In what way is this not rewarding the North for bad behavior?

MR. SNOW: Mainly because what we have said all along is, you guys have got to come back to the table without preconditions and, furthermore, you’ll have to agree to get rid of the nuclear program.

Obsession continues…

Continue reading


Smell it.

“The evidence does not suggest that the surge is actually working,” said Alastair Campbell, the outgoing defense attache at the British Embassy in Baghdad May 20. According to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, Campbell also disclosed that U.S. commanders had decided that the criteria for “success” would be only a reduction in violence to the level prior to last year’s bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra. That means 800 dead Iraqis a month – a figure that the Telegraph admits “few would regard as anything remotely approaching peace.”

OK, I Feel Better Now

Abu Gexplains:

“There obviously remains some confusion about my involvement in this,” Gonzales said Friday. “At the end of the day, I know what I did. And I know that the motivations for the decisions I made were not based on improper reasons.”

Let’s Hear It For Habeus!

We need more pushback like this. An American citizen in US custody doesn’t have the right to contest his detention or the decision to transfer him to foreign custody? What is wrong with these people?

A federal appeals court blocked the Pentagon on Friday from transferring an American citizen to an Iraqi court to face charges he supported terrorists and insurgents.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously ruled that Shawqi Omar, a citizen of both Jordan and the United States who once served in the Minnesota National Guard, has a right to argue for his release before a U.S. court.

By a 2-1 vote, the panel also upheld an injunction issued last year by U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina here that barred the U.S. military from turning Omar over for trial in an Iraqi court.

“This is a case about whether a U.S. citizen can be cast into a legal black hole, with no means to challenge the basis for his detention,” said Aziz Huq, Omar’s attorney. “The court today reaffirmed the Supreme Court’s view that war is not a blank check as far as a citizen’s liberty is concerned.”


Omar was captured in Iraq in 2004 by U.S. forces during a raid on associates of Iraq al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. air strike in 2006. Omar is imprisoned at Camp Bucca, in southern Iraq. He was been held in several camps for over two years without formal charges and, his family says, without access to counsel.


The U.S. military says Omar was harboring insurgents and had bomb-making materials at the time of his arrest. The military decided in 2005 to transfer him to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq for trial but has been blocked by the U.S. court injunction.

That order was issued in response to a lawsuit filed here by Omar’s wife, Sandra, and son, Ahmed, on his behalf in 2005.

They demanded that Omar be brought before a U.S. court, where prosecutors would have to show probable cause for detaining him and he could consult an attorney.

Scary Shit


[B]y all reports, President Bush is more convinced than ever of his righteousness.

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated “I am the president!” He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of “our country’s destiny.”

Hat-tip to Sinphonyman.

Bark! Bark!

Arlen wants a cookie.

“I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider,” Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said during a hearing on Congress’ war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. “The decider is a shared and joint responsibility,” Specter said.

Good boy, Arlen! Now: roll over.


Eighty-five US service members have died so far this month in Iraq, the highest body count in Chimpy’s Vanity War since August of 2005.


You people call yourself scientists?

The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum.

Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year’s exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans, said Robert Sullivan, who was associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Also, officials omitted scientists’ interpretation of some research and let visitors draw their own conclusions from the data, he said. In addition, graphs were altered “to show that global warming could go either way,” Sullivan said.

“It just became tooth-pulling to get solid science out without toning it down,” said Sullivan, who resigned last fall after 16 years at the museum. He said he left after higher-ups tried to reassign him.


Sullivan said the changes in the climate-change exhibit were requested by executives who included then-museum Director Cristian Samper and his boss, former Undersecretary for Science David Evans. He said several scientists whose work was used in the exhibit objected to the changes.

Brand America In Decline

The new Pew Global Attitudes Poll tells the story.

A 47-nation survey finds global public opinion increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations and disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years.


Global distrust of American leadership is reflected in increasing disapproval of the cornerstones of U.S. foreign policy. Not only is there worldwide support for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but there also is considerable opposition to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. Western European publics are at best divided about keeping troops there. In nearly every predominantly Muslim country, overwhelming majorities want U.S. and NATO troops withdrawn from Afghanistan as soon as possible. In addition, global support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism ebbs ever lower. And the United States is the nation blamed most often for hurting the world’s environment, at a time of rising global concern about environmental issues.


The Pew survey finds a general increase in the percentage of people citing pollution and environmental problems as a top global threat. Worries have risen sharply in Latin America and Europe, as well as in Japan and India. Many people blame the United States – and to a lesser extent China – for these problems and look to Washington to do something about them.


In the current poll, majorities in 25 of the 47 countries surveyed express positive views of the U.S. Since 2002, however, the image of the United States has declined in most parts of the world. Favorable ratings of America are lower in 26 of 33 countries for which trends are available.

The U.S. image remains abysmal in most Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia, and continues to decline among the publics of many of America’s oldest allies. Favorable views of the U.S. are in single digits in Turkey (9%) and have declined to 15% in Pakistan. Currently, just 30% of Germans have a positive view of the U.S. – down from 42% as recently as two years ago – and favorable ratings inch ever lower in Great Britain and Canada.


[O]pinions of the American people have declined over the past five years in 23 of 33 countries where trends are available. In Indonesia and Turkey, where favorable views of the U.S. have declined markedly over the past five years, opinions of Americans have fallen sharply as well. In Indonesia, positive opinions of Americans have fallen from 65% in 2002 to 42%; in Turkey, favorable opinions have declined 19 points.


Among key U.S. allies in Western Europe, the view that the U.S. acts unilaterally is an opinion that has tracked closely with America’s overall image over the past five years. Ironically, the belief that the United States does not take into account the interests of other countries in formulating its foreign policy is extensive among the publics of several close U.S. allies. No fewer than 89% of the French, 83% of Canadians and 74% of the British express this opinion.

U.S. policies also are widely viewed as increasing the gap between rich nations and poor nations. This is even the case in several countries where the U.S. is generally well regarded. In addition, this is one of the few criticisms of the U.S. that is widely shared around the world and with which a plurality of Americans (38%) agree.

Critiques of the U.S. are not confined to its policies, however. In much of the world there is broad and deepening dislike of American values and a global backlash against the spread of American ideas and customs. Majorities or pluralities in most countries surveyed say they dislike American ideas about democracy – and this sentiment has increased in most regions since 2002.


Public rejection of American democracy in most countries may in part reflect opinions about the way in which the United States has implemented its pro-democracy agenda, as well as America’s democratic values. Majorities in 43 of 47 countries surveyed – including 63% in the United States – say that the U.S. promotes democracy mostly where it serves its interests, rather than promoting it wherever it can.

The poll also finds negative attitudes toward American ways of doing business. Dislike of the U.S. approach has deepened. However, Muslim countries in the Middle East are a notable exception, despite their generally poor opinion of the U.S. As many as 71% of Kuwaitis, 63% of Lebanese, and even 40% of Palestinians say they like the American way of doing business. But the greatest admirers of the American approach to business continue to be in Africa, where huge majorities in countries such as Kenya and Nigeria endorse it.


Despite near universal admiration for U.S. technology and a strong appetite for its cultural exports in most parts of the world, large proportions in most countries think it is bad that American ideas and customs are spreading to their countries. The percentage expressing disapproval has increased in many countries since 2002 – including Great Britain (by 17 percentage points), Germany (14 points) and Canada (13 points). Israel, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are the only countries (aside from the U.S.) in which majorities say they like the spread of American customs.

Love Ya’ Molly!

GAWD I’m going to miss Molly Ivins. 

Has anyone this side of Mark Twain written about politics with such humor and intelligence? An actual progressive who warned us that Bill Clinton was “weaker than bus stop chili”, Molly was also a Christian in the truest sense of the word (although I have no idea about her church-going habits). I challenge anyone to find one hateful word issued from her pen regarding any political figure. Ivins was able to find something likable about the worst of the opposition while skewering their policies with a flick of the wrist.

I had the pleasure of working on a couple of public policy forums featuring Molly back in the early ’90s, and became involved in efforts to organize and maintain her writings and research later in that decade. I never saw her treat anyone as if they were not an old and dear friend. 

Thanks Molly.

Miracle Cure!

It seems that Rev. Ted Haggard is a hetero after all. All that cock sucking and meth snorting was just “acting-out”. No, really.

One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is “completely heterosexual.”

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday’s edition.

“He is completely heterosexual,” Ralph said. “That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn’t a constant thing.”

Straight or not, Haggard still has to get the hell out of Dodge Colorado Springs.

Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master’s degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn’t decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa.

Another oversight board member, the Rev. Mike Ware of Westminster, said the group recommended the move out of town and the Haggards agreed.

“This is a good place for Ted,” Ware said. “It’s hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now. It’s like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed.”

It was also the oversight board that strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work.


The government of Nouri al Maliki refuses to share martality statistics with the UN.

The United Nations is unable to determine how many Iraqi civilians have been killed so far this year because the Iraqi government won’t share the information, a U.N. agency said in a Wednesday report.

An Iraqi government official denied that the information was withheld to cover up the number of civilian deaths, and the prime minister’s office said the U.N. report “lacks accuracy.”

Even without the numbers, the report delivers a grim message: Iraq is facing “immense security challenges in the face of growing violence and armed opposition to its authority and the rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis.”

The report also contains a laundry list of human rights concerns.


The quarterly human rights report written by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq is considered the most reliable tally of civilians killed in Iraq, but Wednesday’s report did not include the numbers for January, February and March.


In its Wednesday report, the U.N. says the Iraqi government provided no “substantive explanation or justification” for its decision to withhold information from the Ministry of Health and the Medico-Legal Institute, the capital’s main morgue.


JPod puts a move on Sully.

Andrew Sullivan Is Right [John Podhoretz]

Honestly, with all the pain in the world, how dare anyone laugh at anything? I agree, Andrew. You’ve sold me. I will never again make fun of anything. That is, except for your obsession with hairy backs. I reserve the right to laugh at that.

02/09 02:20 PM

Aerial view of JPod.