Author Archives: holdencaulfieldfd

Sunday Post

Favorite drink.

Lately I’ve been on a peppermint liqueur kick, but really mine’s a butterball. Two parts butterscotch schnapps, one part scotch. Tastes like candy and gets you hammered faster than anything else on earth. GREAT for a cold night on which you’ve just been dumped or stood up or fired.

(Yes, I know it’s a shameful thing to do to scotch, and ordinarily I do not support the raping of the quality liquor in such a fashion, so if you make it, don’t use the Glenlivet. Use the cheap shit. It’s still yummy.)

A.

Screened

A complete listing of the questions asked during Chimpy’s little chat with the Associated General Contractors of America today.

Q Thank you. In May of 2006, my second cousin was on his second tour in Iraq. Corporal Cory Palmer, he’s in the Marines, he was on patrol in a Humvee, and they ran over a roadside bomb. He and many others in that Humvee perished. What do I need to do, what does the media need to do to help you, so that my second cousin, and others like him, have not died or been injured in vain?

Q I’d like to know, like a lot of other people in this room, we have family members — we have family members who are actively involved in the security of this country in various ways. From them, we’ve received positive information that we consider credible, who say about the success and the good things that are happening as a result of us being in Iraq. I would like to know why and what can be done about we, the American people, receiving some of that information more from the media, or (inaudible.) (Applause.)

Q We’re General Contractors of America, and what are we doing — I don’t hear anything about the reconstruction of Iraq. Could you fill us in on that? Are we doing enough, as general contractors? And we are at your disposal. And second is a personal question. What do you pray about, and how we can we pray for you?

Q You talked about the terror of 9/11, and what I wanted to share with you, my wife and I had our first child two months after 9/11. We named her Grace, because we felt that the world needed some grace at the time. And what I wanted to (inaudible) is the fact that our appreciation and keeping my family and also the families of America safe for the past five years is (inaudible).

Failure To Honor A Flag Of Truce

Christ on a Cracker, I’m not sure what is worse –the stunning dishonesty or the jaw-dropping incompetence.

Iraq’s national security adviser has accused the US military of plotting to assassinate Shia militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

A senior member of Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition-backed government in Baghdad, Mowaffaq Rubaie, believes Mr al-Sadr was attacked while attending peace negotiations in August 2004.

According to the Independent newspaper Dr Rubaie acted as a mediator between US forces and Mr al-Sadr by arranging the meeting in the town of Najaf, south of Baghdad.

He claims the Mehdi Army militia leader wanted to arrange an agreement protecting the religious shrine in Najaf and was prepared to sign a document in his father’s house in the town. As Mr al-Sadr approached the house it was attacked by intense gunfire.

Dr Rubaie, describing Mr al-Sadr’s response to the attack, said: “I know him very well and I think his suspicion and distrust of the coalition and any foreigner is really deep-rooted.”

His claims suggest one reason for the Shia leader’s ongoing hostility to coalition forces’ ‘occupation’ of Iraq. Mr al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army is the largest homegrown military organisation in the unstable Middle Eastern country and is a major player shaping the fledgling state’s future.

[snip]

Dr Rubaie said he “went berserk” with senior US officials after the alleged assassination attempt but received only denials of the plot.

“When I came back to Baghdad I was really, really infuriated, I can tell you,” he added.

How many Americans have lost their lives in Iraq because of our military leaders’ obsession with one man?

Army Wrong

The wrong career choice for many Americans, that is.

The Army fell short of its recruiting goal for May, its first significant slip in two years.

[snip]

With an array of special incentives for attracting recruits, the Army managed to recover from a 2005 recruiting slump, but the impact of the Iraq war and the strong domestic economy have made it difficult to attract enlistees.

The Army and Marine Corps have suffered the bulk of casualties in Iraq.

The pace of recruiting is even more important now that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has set a goal of increasing the size of the active-duty Army by 65,000 to a total of 547,000 within five years. The increase is intended to ease some of the strain on the Army from its heavy commitments in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

[snip]

Statistics released Monday showed that in May the Army signed up 5,101 new recruits, short of its goal of 5,500, although it remains on track to meet its goal of 80,000 for the full year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2006 to Sept. 30, 2007.

[snip]

The Army National Guard met only 88 percent of its goal and the Air National Guard met 77 percent of its goal.

Get Out

Building on Atrios, the Iraqi People have been very clear for years: they want us out of their country.

USA Today/Gallup Poll, April 2004

Only a third of the Iraqi people now believe that the American-led occupation of their country is doing more good than harm, and a solid majority support an immediate military pullout even though they fear that could put them in greater danger, according to a new poll.

ABC News/Time/BBC/NHK/Der Spiegel Poll, December 2005

Two-thirds now oppose the presence of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, 14 points higher than in February 2004. Nearly six in 10 disapprove of how the United States has operated in Iraq since the war, and most of them disapprove strongly. And nearly half of Iraqis would like to see U.S. forces leave soon.

Specifically, 26 percent of Iraqis say U.S. and other coalition forces should “leave now” and another 19 percent say they should go after the government chosen in this week’s election takes office; that adds to 45 percent. Roughly the other half says coalition forces should remain until security is restored (31 percent), until Iraqi security forces can operate independently (16 percent), or longer (5 percent).

University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes Poll, September 2006

A large majority of Iraqis–71%–say they would like the Iraqi government to ask for US-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less. Given four options, 37 percent take the position that they would like US-led forces withdrawn “within six months,” while another 34 percent opt for “gradually withdraw[ing] US-led forces according to a one-year timeline.”

Perjury?

By now we all know of Murray Waas’ block-buster secret memo story.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides — who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys — extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department.

[snip]

In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison “the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration” of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department’s political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation.

I was thinking about this last night, and I recall that both Kyle Sampson and Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that it was Gonzales who made the final decision on the firing of the eight US Attorneys.

Sampson:

“The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president.”

Gonzales:

“I recall making the decision, I don’t recall when the decision was made.”

If Gonzales signed a secret directive authorizing Sampson to fire political appointees how is it that both Sampson and Gonzales testified that it was Gonzales who pulled the trigger?

Did both men believe that the secret memo transferring Gonzales’ firing authority to Sampson would never be revealed?

Did Gonzales and Sampson perjure themselves when they testified that Gonzales was the one who made the final decision?

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

In today’s gaggle…

Pony Blow Says Surge Opponents Are “Gambling on Failure” — Meaning That They Want The US To Fail In Iraq

Q Well, let me ask you, the President seems resigned to the fact that the House is going to pass this today. What is his position on the conditions on funding that the Democrats — House Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha — are beginning to outline?

MR. SNOW: Well, first, I would not characterize the President’s mood in anything as “resignation.” That’s not the way he approaches things. But he understands that members of the House are moving forward. And right now everybody is playing with numbers about how big the margin is going to be — we’ve heard everything from 12 to 60; we’ll find out.

[snip]

Q You mentioned the margin of the vote, 12-6. In the end, does it matter what the margin is, Tony?

MR. SNOW: The question is what the margin is; does it matter. I don’t know. Again, members — it’s going to be interesting, because members of Congress have taken their own gamble here. They’re gambling on failure — some members, at least. The President has a plan for success. It’s all aimed at success. And there’s going to be a vote before long where they’re going to have to vote about whether they are going to supply the funds and the flexibility necessary for success. And, remember, in the case of the Senate, the success as defined by the guy that they’ve just appointed as a top general and the CENTCOM commander, who was also approved, and the man who is now the Chairman — the Army Chief of Staff, who also approves of the plan, there are a whole series of folks who they, in fact, approve for their new offices who believe that this is vital.

And so, ultimately, members — this is “a non-binding resolution.” But what we’re afraid of is that this is, in fact, going to serve as a precursor for cutting off our troops.

Q What do you mean, “gambling on failure”?

MR. SNOW: I mean because all of a sudden, it’s — suppose suddenly that you start to see signs of success. Then are these members going to come out and say, you know what, we were wrong — they’re going to have another resolution?

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Extraordinary Rendition On Trial

Chimpy may be a bit uncomfortable in Italy tomorrow.

The first trial involving the CIA’s extraordinary renditions program opens Friday in the absence of all 26 American defendants accused of kidnapping an Egyptian terrorist suspect.

The trial, which has been an irritant in the historically robust U.S.-Italy relationship and coincides with the arrival in Rome of President Bush, was expected to ground to a halt before taking off.

The government has asked Italy’s highest court to throw out indictments against 26 Americans — all but one of them believed to be CIA agents — accused of abducting Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

[snip]

Italian prosecutors say Nasr — suspected of recruiting fighters for radical Islamic causes but who had not been charged with any crime at the time of his disappearance — was taken to U.S. bases in Italy and Germany before being transferred to Egypt, where he was imprisoned for four years. Nasr, who was released Feb. 11, said he was tortured.

[snip]

The trial’s opening comes as Bush arrives for meetings Saturday with the pope and Italy’s premier and president.

Relations between Rome and Washington also have been strained by the trial of a U.S. soldier accused of killing an Italian intelligence officer in Baghdad in 2005 as well as Italy’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq and reluctance to send additional soldiers to Afghanistan.

Huh-Oh

Trouble with the “Holy Father”.

Pope Benedict XVI and US President George W. Bush will discuss the Iraq war when they meet next weekend, the Vatican’s secretary of state said Sunday.

Tarcisio Bertone told Avvenire, a newspaper for Italian bishops, that the United States was “a great country” and praised Bush for his anti-abortion stance, but said problems remained.

“Such as the war in Iraq and also the dramatic situation for Iraqi Christians, which continues to get worse,” he said.

Make Sure You Pick Up All The Trash

Chimpy, yesterday at the Congressional Picnic.

THE PRESIDENT: I thank Tony Snow and his bunch of, well, mediocre musicians — (laughter) — no, great musicians. Beats Workin, thanks for coming. (Applause.) Kermit, come up here. Kermit, we’re proud to have you.

MR. RUFFINS: Well, thanks for having us.

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We’re glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you’re here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it’s over.

Here’s a photo from the picnic, with Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers behind Your President.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Cheney Agrees That The Senate Judiciary Committee Is “Stalinist”

Dick Cheney calls into the Rush Limpbaugh program whenever the Assministration is really desperate. For instance, he called Rush back in October of 2005 in a vain attempt to rescue Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination.

They must be very worried about their Iraq War funding because Cheney called Limpy again today.

Right off the bat Cheney agrees with Rush when he says that Deomcrats “devoted… to the concept of US defeat.”

LIMPBAUGH: Now, you and the President both have derided the theatrics of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and a number of the Democrats, and I don’t know if you’re being politic with the statement — I, frankly, need to ask you if you really think it’s theatrics, or is this who they really are? Is this what they really intend, to lose this war, to make sure we come home defeated?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that the policies that they are recommending would, in fact, produce that result.

[snip]

LIMPBAUGH: Can you share with us whether or not you understand their devotion, or their seeming allegiance to the concept of U.S. defeat?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can’t.

But Cheney crossed the line when the discussion turned to Bush’s cowardly recess-appointment of Sam Fox to be our Ambassador to Belgium.

LIMPBAUGH: One more, and that’s the recess appointment of Sam Fox. Sam Fox is from my home state, and I know Sam Fox — he’s an immigrant, a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant, whose parents would have nothing — when they died they had nothing. He is a totally self-created man, a great American. And he was treated horribly by Senator Kerry and others on that committee, simply because he had made a political donation. They essentially told him he did not have freedom of speech in this country, until he would apologize, until he would go up to Kerry and apologize for supporting the Swift Boats. Now the President has recess-appointed him. And of course, the Democrats have said they’re going to investigate this and going to look into this.

This is the kind of move that garners a lot of support from the people in the country. This shows the administration willing to engage these people and not allow them to get away with this kind of — well, my term — you don’t have to accept it — Stalinist behavior from these people on that committee.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re dead on, Rush.

Illegally subverting the will of Congress is one big joke to the Vice President.

LIMPBAUGH: You go on vacation, this is what happens to you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: If you’re a Democrat. (Laughter.)

Your President Speaks! Again!

Yesterday, in Mobile, Alabama, at a fundraiser for Sentaor Jaif Sayshuns.

It’s Like They Don’t Understand English

These people are dangerous, they’re lethal, you can’t make any — can’t talk common sense to them.

Why He Calls It What He Calls It

We face threats from around the world. That’s why I call it a global war on terror.

What This Kind Of Battle Has Got

And in Iraq, this is a tough fight in Iraq. It really is. It’s the kind of battle that has got the capability of shaking the will of the American people.

Home, Home On The Range

The President makes decisions. And I made the decision to send more troops into Baghdad and Iraq as opposed to pulling out, and I want to share with you why. I saw the sectarian violence that was beginning to range.

He Speaks The Stupid

The enemy sees the progress, they bombed the mosques, it caused the sectarian violence to begin to spill out.

Vacuum Up Them Strategies

And remember, al Qaeda and the extremists love chaos. They’re looking for power vacuums into which they can move their ideology as well as their strategies.

Show Those Moms

I talked to Prime Minister Maliki last week and made it very clear to him that people all around the United States hope they succeed, but we understand that they are going to have to do some hard work, that they’ve got to do the political work necessary, that they’ve got to show those moms that a peaceful world will come, and they’ll do the political work necessary to get it done.

Technical School or al Qaeda? Hmmmmm…

Al Qaeda would be emboldened. It would make it easier to recruit. It would cause people who might be trying to choose what kind of life they would want to slip into the company of these radicals and killers.

The Threats That Would Evolve By Enabling Radicals To Be Able To Emerge

People would look back 50 years from now, I’m confident, and say, what happened to them in the year 2007? How come they couldn’t see the impending danger? How come they couldn’t see the threats that would evolve by enabling radicals to be able to emerge — how come they didn’t deal with Iran as a perpetuator of radical Shiism that would be in competition with radical Sunniism, all of which would endanger the United States of America.

Those Damn Kids

And I believe it’s in the interests of the United States of America to promote freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to the ideology that inspired 19 kids to come and kill nearly 3,000 of our citizens.

Talkin’ About The Peace

My dad was a Navy fighter pilot who fought the Japanese. They were the sworn enemy of our country. Thousands of people died. And yet, some 60 years later, his son sits at the table talking about the peace with the former enemy, Koizumi and now Prime Minister Abe.

What Liberty Has Got

Liberty has got the ability to lift people’s hopes, to bring light into society. Liberty has got the capacity to lay that foundation of peace for generations to come.

Why They Got The President The Veto

And now the task is to make sure that we keep your spending down to a reasonable level. And that’s why they got the President the veto.

The Boss Went Too Far

Even the Assministration’s most loyal staffers felt uncomfortable with Chimpy’s wanton declassifacation of the Iraq NIE for political purposes.

President George W. Bush’s 2003 decision to declassify an intelligence report to rebut an Iraq war critic stirred unease even in the White House, an administration official said on Thursday in the perjury trial of a vice presidential aide.

White House communications official Cathie Martin said she was “not comfortable” in July of that year when her boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, told her to use the information to counter charges that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for invading Iraq.

“I wasn’t sure if I could use that point because it was related to the NIE,” Martin said, referring to a classified National Intelligence Estimate report that said     Saddam Hussein had sought to buy uranium from Niger.

Martin was not aware that Bush had already declassified the report by that time.

Bush drew criticism last spring when he admitted he declassified the report and authorized White House officials to leak it to reporters to counter criticism from former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who said the administration ignored his findings that no uranium sale had taken place.

Martin said she was “still not comfortable about the NIE” even as Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, began sharing the information with reporters.

Mis-Spellings

On Wednesday Iexpressed my hope that homophobic bigot would become embroiled in the burgeoning federal student loan scandal. 

Today I awake to find that I’m close to getting my wish.

With scandal rattling the $85 billion student loan industry, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings argued at a House hearing on Thursday that she lacked legal authority to clamp down on many abuses.

Ms. Spellings faced pointed questioning at the hearing from Congressional Democrats, who accused her department of mismanagement and complacency.

[snip]

Several Democrats, led by Representative George Miller, questioned her aggressively, asserting that she had regulatory power and moral influence that she had neglected to wield to stop loan companies from paying universities or giving gifts, trips, stock and consulting payments to the university financial aid officers who guide students toward loans.

Mr. Miller, the California Democrat who heads the education committee, also took up a separate issue of questionable federal subsidy payments to lenders.He particularly criticized Ms. Spellings’s decision to ignore a recommendation of the department’s inspector general that she recover $278 million in federal subsidy payments improperly obtained by Nelnet, a lender based in Nebraska. He also said the Justice Department was now reviewing the inspector general’s September audit that found Nelnet ineligible for those payments.

After the hearing, a Justice Department spokesman, Charles Miller, did not contradict Representative Miller’s assertions, but said, “We have no comment at this time.”[emphasis added]

Mr. Miller openly dismissed Ms. Spellings’s portrayal of her department’s monitoring of student lending as robust. He also criticized the department for its oversight of Reading First, a program designed to teach poor children to read that has been besieged by reports of conflicts of interest among Education Department consultants.

“When I look at the whole body of evidence that has been amassed about both the student loan and Reading First programs, it is clear that — at a minimum — the Education Department’s oversight failures have been monumental,” he said.

“We monitor these programs vigorously,” Ms. Spellings replied.

“Who is monitoring?” Mr. Miller shot back. “Do they have blinders on?”

[snip]

The department has also come under scrutiny from Congress for its failure to halt millions of dollars in subsidy payments to lenders that exploited loopholes to inflate their eligibility for subsidies on the student loans, including those paid to Nelnet.

Mr. Miller and other lawmakers pressed Ms. Spellings, the lone witness, to explain her decision in January to allow Nelnet, a major contributor to Republican campaigns, to keep the $278 million. In exchange, Nelnet agreed not to bill for nearly $900 million in subsidies it believed it was eligible for.

Ms. Spellings said that she thought the fact that the department had been paying the subsidies without question could have put it in legal jeopardy and that Nelnet might have prevailed in a lawsuit.

[snip]

Representative John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts, said, “It boggles my mind — we allowed somebody to get away essentially with theft.” [emphasis added]

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Dana Peroxidce Peroxide (Damn!) held a gaggle this monring morning (Double-Damn!) primarily dealing with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s pending visit with Chimpy at Camp David. The most interesting tidbit I gleaned from that discussion was that neo-imperialist Abe’s grandfather once played golf with Chimpy’s Nazi-loving grandfather.

The discussion of Abe’s trip was followed by a conventional gaggle.

Name-Calling

Q I’d like to ask you about the level of political discourse about Iraq. The Vice President and President are accusing the Democrats of being defeatist, they’re talking about surrender dates. Senator Reid comes back and calls the Vice President an attack dog. What happened to the thought that there was going to be an elevated debate; they were going to be more high minded, not as mean spirited?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that what happens in Washington at times of high drama and passion on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, that there are times when you’re trying to make your substantive point, that the rhetoric can sometimes lead you to say things that you might not otherwise say in a one-on-one conversation.

I do think that when talking about a surrender date, it is very descriptive of what we believe is in the legislation. It says, you must leave on this day, and we think that that tells the enemy that they’ve won and that we’ve surrendered. And I think that’s a good way to explain it to the American people.

Q Well, and you say that you’re not questioning their patriotism, but by calling them defeatist and talking about surrender, you don’t think that that gets close to that line of not —

MS. PERINO: I think that what we have done is argued on the merits and on the substance of our arguments. And I don’t know if that’s always been the case on the other side. I grant you that I think that tension is high, because the stakes are high. And we feel very strongly that leaving before the job is done is turning over the victory to the enemy. And this is an enemy that, as the President has said many times, people need to understand is not only vying for control of Iraq, is a sworn enemy of the United States being helped by other sworn enemies of the United States, and that we ought to take this very seriously.

Q But don’t you think that words matter? I mean, doesn’t that suggest —

MS. PERINO: I certainly think —

Q — “helping the enemy” — doesn’t “helping the enemy” suggest some kind of lack of patriotism?

MS. PERINO: I think if you look at what the President has said, is that we are kidding ourselves if we think that the Qaeda is not trying to create a safe haven as they had in Afghanistan. And by us leaving too soon, before the Iraqis are able to take care of their country themselves, that that is what the President is trying to argue. And I would say that someone who calls the President a liar and a loser does not have very strong ground to stand on in talking about name-calling.

It’s Gonna Be The Bestest Veto Ceremony Evah!

Q When the President vetoes the war supplemental, as we think he’ll get it, what does he do then? Will he reach out to Congress and say, okay, here’s where we can move from here?

[snip]

Q And when do you think — how quickly would he veto it after the Senate votes?

MS. PERINO: Let us try to — we don’t even know when we’re going to get the actual vote. We have some general idea, but not specifically. I think it’s safe to say soon after.

Q Well, “soon after” meaning — I mean, if the President is at Camp David for the day, would he do it without any ceremony?

MS. PERINO: Let me just say soon after. I don’t believe that we’re going to be getting it on Friday.

Q Do you envision, though, a formal — I don’t want to call it a ceremony, but for lack of a better word — event, at this point?

MS. PERINO: We’re talking about it, and what we would do, but we don’t have any plans yet to announce. We’re thinking about it.

[snip]

Q But this would be only his second veto, and I recall that during the stem cell veto, there was an elaborate event in which he brought families. I’m wondering if you’re planning to bring military —

MS. PERINO: A little bit too early for us to preview, since we don’t even have the bill yet and we don’t know what day that it’s coming. It’s important.

Q Yes, but you can get it together.

MS. PERINO: We’re pretty good. (Laughter.)

Q Just call it a “no surrender” party. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: We’ll take that under consideration.

Q A great Bruce Springsteen, “No Retreat, No Surrender.”

MS. PERINO: I don’t think he’d come. (Laughter.)

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Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Earlier today I obsessed over the morning gaggle, an event for which the White House does not routinely post a transcript.

Now the afternoon gaggletranscript is up.

Let’s Start With The “No Comments” Portion of Today’s Gaggle

Q The House Judiciary Committee took another step today in its investigation of the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. They voted to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, the former aide to Attorney General Gonzales. Does the White House think that’s a good strategy?

MS. PERINO: That’s up to the committee; it’s not something we’re going to comment on.

Unka Karl’s In Trouble

Q A couple of points. Has the White House been notified in any way from the agency known as the Office of Special Counsel about its inquiries into the work of Karl Rove or the political operation here?

MS. PERINO: No. No, we have not. As I said yesterday, we have had cooperation with them in the past, and we’ve responded appropriately. But we have not heard from them on this issue.

Helen Upsets Dana To The Point Where Peroxide Starts To Speak Like Chimpy

Q Is the President still going to veto anything from the Hill that sets a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, despite the belief of the public that we should pull out?

MS. PERINO: I think that — let me try to unpack that. The President has said that if the Democrats decide to insist on sending him a bill that includes a deadline for withdrawal, that he will veto the bill. And I understand that there are many people who are in this country that are frustrated with the war. I do think that you have to be a little bit careful in blanketing everybody that they want to pull out quickly from Iraq and with an arbitrary deadline or a rash decision, and leave that vacuum that we believe is going to be left there, if we leave that quickly.

Q Well, if the majority of people really wanted to pull out, would the President pull out? And what kind of a statistic do you have that they don’t want to?

MS. PERINO: As the President has said many times before, he does not make decisions based on polls. He understands as Commander —

Q Did he make decisions based on what the American people want?

MS. PERINO: He makes decisions based as the elected President of the United States and the Commander-in-Chief and his main priority is the protection of the American people, and that’s what he —

Q How do you protect the soldiers who are over there dying every day?

MS. PERINO: That is the President’s gravest concern, and he talks to the commanders on the ground to make sure that they are protected and that they are doing their jobs. He understands that he has asked them to do a very, very difficult mission. It’s very dangerous in Baghdad. We do have a new Baghdad security plan that’s underway, being led by General David Petraeus, who is up on the Hill today providing an update to the Congress on the status of that Baghdad security plan.

Q But a hundred people are dying in Iraq every day.

MS. PERINO: It’s a very tragic situation. I don’t know if that number is accurate, but obviously it’s not only our troops that are dying, but very many — too great of numbers of innocent men, women, and children in Iraq, as well.

[snip]

Q Who is the enemy you speak of? Are these Iraqis?

MS. PERINO: We have different folks that we’re considering the enemy. Obviously, al Qaeda is in Iraq, and they say that this is the battle. And then there are insurgents —

Q Are there Iraqis that you speak of, when you speak of the enemy?

MS. PERINO: I think they are definitely — obviously, there are Iraqis who are engaging in criminal activity and in sectarian violence.

Q Criminal? To defend their own country?

MS. PERINO: I think when anyone is killing innocent men, women and children that they —

Q Against an invader and occupier?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and we are there under the U.N. Security Council resolution. Mark, did I finish your question?

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Your President Speaks!

Yesterday, in Washington, after a feeble arm-twisting session with zenophobic xenophobic [dammit] Republikkkans on the topic of immigration.

Git ‘Er Done!

I would hope that the Senate Majority Leader has that same sense of desire to move the product that I do, or the bill that I do and these senators do, because now is the time to get it done.

Your President Speaksapalooza: If It’s Saturday, It Must Be Italy

Saturday, at the US Embassy in Rome, Italy, with members of the Community of Sant’Egidio [Chimpy had to cancel his plans to actually visit the Community of Sant’Egidio at the Piazza S.Egidio in Rome because thousands of protestors wouldn’t let him get near the place.].

These International Army

I want to thank you for being a part of these international army of compassion.

Saturday, in Rome, during a presser with Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

What’s Italian For “Darn”?

As Romano said, the bilateral relations are pretty darn solid, and I appreciate that. There’s a lot of Italian Americans who have got great pride for their homeland.

Affecting The Poor

And I talked to him about our attempts to feed the hungry, and I also reminded him that we’ve got poor people in our own neighborhood that need to be affected

Does Not Know The Meaning Of The Word “Worrisome”

Q — Pope has said —

PRESIDENT BUSH: What?

Q The Pope has said Iraq was worrisome.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, he’s worrisome [sic] about the Christians inside Iraq being mistreated by the Muslim majority.

No Shit

Q Thank you. You’ve just told us that you and President Bush have just returned from your G8 summit. Now, the outcomes that have been stated on the many issues that you discussed — climate, development, and the missile shield — now, are those real — is that real progress, or not? And the deadline for the Kosovo independence —

PRESIDENT BUSH: What? Say that again?

Q Deadline for the Kosovo independence?

PRESIDENT BUSH: A decline?

Q Deadline, deadline.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Deadline. Beg your pardon. My English isn’t very good.

Where They Get Their Heritage

There are millions of people in our country who love Italy, because that’s where their heritage is from.

The Italian Heritage

I’m sure you know this, but the heritage — the Italian heritage is a powerful part of our country and its culture.

Peter Pace Won’t Stop Talking About His Dick

And the interesting thing about Pete Pace — even though he had four stars on his shoulder, always talked about the private.

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

Ah, we get Pony Blow again today.

The Gaggleres Want To Know If Alberto Gonzales Is Going To The Hill To Help Lobby For Immigration Reform

Q Is Al Gonzales coming up today?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know. The way these lunches work is that obviously there will be some conversation about immigration. We’ve got an energy bill that’s coming up, a defense authorization bill that’s going to be debated before long. There’s a whole series of items that I’m sure members are going to want to talk about. I don’t — my guess is, will the Attorney General — probably not. I mean, we had — we had the symbolic vote yesterday. It didn’t have enough votes to get to the floor for a final vote, and I think that’s that. I think that’s over.

Oh, Right — Alberto’s Troubles Are Over [rolls eyes]

The President Is A Looser, Isn’t He?

Q What about the hard-nosed politics here? Isn’t the reality that, given Iraq and a litany of other issues that the President is unpopular with his own party on, that for Republicans who are already skeptical, at the very least, about this, it makes more sense for them to vote against the President then to vote with him?

MR. SNOW: I’m not sure. Are you telling — I don’t think so, because here you have a bill where the law enforcement provisions are significantly — border security is significantly tougher than the status quo. When it comes to tracking down who is here illegally, significantly tougher and more credible than the status quo. When it comes to punishing employers who knowingly hire illegals, by many orders of magnitude, tougher than the status quo.

So conservatives — I think again, for a lot of Republicans, the first thing is, what are you going to do on border security? And our view is, don’t trust us, verify. The way the bill is written says that you have to deploy on the border 370 miles of fence, more than 200 miles of vehicle barriers. The fact is, these numbers are changing in the course of debate, and I think they’ve been strengthened during the course of debate. So what you’re going to have is a certain demonstrated commitment on border security that is — that will be credible.

Furthermore, there’s a proposal by Senators Kyl and Graham that would take all the fees and collections made in the course of this legislation, set it aside basically into a fund that could be used only for border enforcement. There you have a mandatory spending program, where the money flows directly into enforcement, and you have a continuous commitment in terms of funding to keeping your vigilance on the border. So I think those are the kinds of things that members are going to want to hear.

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Your President Speaks!

Sunday, in Kennebunkport, Maine.

What We Got Tomorrow

We got a press conference tomorrow, Mark.

The Global War On Subjects Continues

And appreciate the very strong response that the Gordon Brown government has given to the attempts by these people.