Katie Connolly

Stories by Katie Connolly

  • Another Separation For Mark Sanford

    Another one of Mark Sanford's relationships is on the rocks today. This time it's his publisher. Sanford had a contract with Sentinel, a conservative publisher owned by the Pengiun Group, for a book titled "Within Our Means". Today a spokesperson announced that Sentinel and Sanford had made a "mutual decision" to go their separate ways. Sanford, who made headlines earlier in the year for wanting to refuse stimulus money for his his state, had planned to write about fiscal conservatism. It's unclear if Sanford will seek another publisher, or how far he'd gotten in writing the novel. We're just glad he wasn't planning to writing about family values.
  • Obama on MJ: 'I still have all his stuff on my iPod'

    Obama gave a wide ranging interview to the Associated Press today, where he finally spoke about Michael Jackson's death."I'm glad to see that he is being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts as an entertainer," Obama said, adding that his briallinace "was paired with a tragic and in many ways, sad personal life." He brushed off the notion that African Americans were disappointed that he hadn't issued a formal statement after the entertainer's death last week. "I know a lot of people in the black community and I haven't heard that," Obama told the AP. He also mentioned that has a lot of Jackson tunes on his iPod.  
  • 'Stand With Jenny' Petition

    Amid the heartbreaking turmoil of her personal life, South Carolinians appear more enamored than ever of their first lady, Jenny Sanford. As Newsweek's Kathy Deveny noted, Mrs. Sanford's response to her husband's teary press conference and public confession of infidelity seemed pitch perfect to most women. She played neither the humilated victim nor the scorned wife. Rather, Jenny projects an image of loving mother, prepared to forgive but not to compromise her principles. The reaction of South Carolina's women to Jenny's statement and interview has prompted the Palmetto Family Council, conservative Christian organization, to launch "Stand With Jenny", a petition showing support for the First Lady. They'd received so many emails and phonecalls from constituents who were angry with Sanford but proud of his wife that they wanted to provide a space for the community to both vent frustration and offer consolation. The petition calls Sanford "...
  • Franken Won, Says Minnesota Supreme Court

    The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled Al Franken the winner of the hotly contested Minnesota Senate race this afternoon. Incumbent Norm Coleman had appealed a lower court's decision, primarily arguing that absentee ballots had been improperly handled by electoral officials. Coleman now has the option of appealing to federal courts. He has yet to indicate whether he plans to rest his campaign for the seat. ***UPDATE Coleman has conceded the race to Franken. He won't be lodging a federal appeal.*** On Sunday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told CNN he was prepared to certify Franken as soon as the ruling was handed down, but he added he would of course follow the direction of the Supreme Court should Coleman take his appeal further. ...
  • Obama Says He'll Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell...Someday...

    As I noted earlier, the first couple hosted a celebration honoring LGBT Pride Month in the East Room this afternoon. The event comes amid rising tensions between the Obama administration and the gay community, who are disappointed at the lack of attention given to their issues so far this year. For the most part, Obama didn't mince words. He described the gay rights "struggle" as "difficult," "painful," and "heartbreaking." He likened the movement to prior civil-rights battles, drawing parallels with "all those in our history who've been denied the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, who've been told that the full blessings and opportunities of this country were closed to them." He told the by-invitation-only group that he understood their frustrations, and it wasn't for him to advise patience, "any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal...
  • Administration Inches Forward on Gay Rights

    Over the past couple of weeks, we at the Gaggle have been discussing Obama's fraught relationship with the gay community, a group that provided his campaign with both staunch support and cash. (Read Holly's summary post here.) Today there are two symbolically important developments in this relationship. First, the president is hosting a reception in the East Room this afternoon to honor LGBT Pride Month and commemorate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. Second, Politico's J-Mart (filling in for Ben Smith) reports that the administration is planning to repeal a ban that restricts HIV-positive travelers from entering the country. It has filed notice with the Federal Register, so there will be a 45-day window for public discussion before the Department of Health and Human Services enacts the change. While the HIV-travelers ban is not strictly a gay issue, it's certainly one that advocacy groups like the Human Rights Campaign feel strongly about.Will these two moves...
  • Rudy for Governor?

    Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN's American Morning today and admitted, in a roundabout fashion, that he's considering running for governor of New York in 2010. Giuliani said, "I don’t know if I am or if I’m not" entering the gubernatorial race, but disclosed that he's been thinking about it. Incumbent Gov. David Paterson has been polling poorly for some time and would likely lose to Giuliani in a general election. But if Paterson doesn't run, other Democratic contenders, such as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose political heritage would serve him well, would be tougher competitors. Your Gaggler would be interested to see what impact Rudy's spectacularly bad campaign for president would have in a New York state race, if any. I happen to think his aborted stab at the GOP nomination is one of the most underreported stories of the 2008 campaign, overshadowed by all things Obama. Back in 2006, Giuliani was widely considered a...
  • A Lawsuit Over Wartime 'Burn Pits'

    Josh Eller, a military contractor stationed in Iraq in 2006, was driving through Balad Air Base when he spotted the wild dog. He wasn't sure what was in its mouth—but when Eller saw two bones, he knew he was looking at a human arm. The dog had pulled the limb from an open-air "burn pit" on the base used to incinerate waste. Eller says it's "one of the worst things I have seen."Since hearing Eller's story, lawyer Elizabeth Burke has signed on 190 additional clients with complaints about burn pits at 18 military sites in Iraq and Afghanistan. By now, she says, all pits should have been replaced by pollution-controlled incinerators. She's filed suits in 17 states against KBR, the company contracted to provide waste-disposal services at these bases, accusing it of negligence and harm. Burke was shocked to learn what her clients saw incinerated: Humvees, batteries, unexploded ordnance, gas cans, mattresses, rocket pods, and plastic and medical waste (including body parts, which may...
  • Obama on Michael Jackson (via Gibbs)

    Since the tragic news about the passing of pop icon Michael Jackson broke, your Gaggler has been wondering if and when the president would make a statement. It's not unusual for the White House to release such statements after the death of major cultural figures, and Jackson was arguably the biggest pop superstar of the past 30 years or more. And he was black, so it seemed reasonable to expect the first black president to have a few heartfelt words. But of course, dealing with Michael Jackson and his often baffling (and sometimes dark) private life is not that simple. So rather than issuing a formal statement, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a few remarks at today's briefing. Here's Gibbs:“I talked to [Obama] about it this morning. Look, he said to me that...
  • Sex Scandals Through the Years: Both Parties Even

    Mark Sanford's unexpected and emotional revelation of an affair yesterday has caused much hand-wringing about the future of a seemingly scandal-plagued GOP. Critics are quick to point out that the party espousing "family" values seems to be having some difficulty getting its representatives to live accordingly. But here at the Gaggle, our memories are a little longer. We recall the days, not so long ago, when it seemed as though Democrats were the ones having trouble keeping their pants on. So we tasked our wonderful intern Aku Ammah-Tagoe to tally up who's been doing what to whom since the Wayne Hays scandal of 1976. My penchant for PowerPoint graphs once again proved irresistible, so I turned the results into graphic form. (Please note, this is not an entirely scientific analysis. Politicians are grouped by year, according to when the affair/scandal was exposed.)  It's impossible to say whether affairs are more common now, or the media has gotten better at...
  • Poll Finds Americans Revile Infidelity

    Gallup is out today with timely poll today finding that 92% of Americans find extramarital affairs to be morally unacceptable. Pollsters asked respondents how they felt about a range of topics, like the death penalty, cloning and gambling. The results indicate that of all these moral quandaries, infidelity is the most abhorred, edging out polygamy by just one point. Divorce and the death penalty were considered the most morally accpetable, but cloning, suicide and abortion are frowned upon. Check out the full results here.
  • Jenny Sanford Speaks

    Mark Sanford's wife Jenny has just released a statement announcing that she asked her husband to leave for a trial separation two weeks ago. (Your Gaggler, was actually quite pleased to not see her at the press conference today. It's always distressing to watch a humiliated wife cower by her husband's side while he announces infidelity and grasps his remaining strands of dignity.) Mrs. Sanford says her biggest worry about the affair is the "potential damage" it will do to her children. In a classy statement, she writes that she "reached a point...
  • The GOP 2012 Nomination: A Case of Last Man Standing?

    It's official: If DC pundits consider you a contender for the GOP nomination in 2012, then it's just a matter of time before you are publicly humiliated (or sent to China.) Seriously. In light of Sanford's stunning admission of an affair today, let's take stock:Governor Kenneth the Page, um I mean Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana Governor was a bright spot in a gloomy Republican landscape early this year. But it didn't last. Jindal delivered the Republican response to Obama's speech to a Joint Session of Congress in February, and it was, well, a bit weird. Your Gaggler has seen Jindal speak several times. He's usually engaging, serious and forceful. But that night, he was just plain goofy - all smiles and vocal inflections. The response, which prompted comparisons to (and a very funny video by) 30 Rock's Kenneth the Page was pilloried by comics and critics alike. We haven't seen much from him since.Governor Sarah Palin: Palin made her national...
  • Is Obama Falling Off the Smoking Wagon?

    At one of the lighter moments of today's Presidential Press Conference, McClatchy Reporter Margaret Talev asked Obama something we've all been wondering: Is he still smoking? Obama seemed a little testy at first, replying that the tobacco bill he signed into law yesterday wasn't about his own episodic addiction. But he soon simmered down. Here's his response, via the White House transcript:"As a former smoker, I constantly struggle with it.  Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes?  Yes.  Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker?  No.  I don't do it in front of my kids, I don't do it in front of my family, and I would say that I am 95 percent cured, but there are times where -- (laughter) -- there are times where I mess up.  And, I mean, I've said this before.  I get this question about once every month or so, and I don't know what to tell you, other than the fact that, like folks who go to AA, once you've gone down this path, then it...
  • Obama's Job Approval Slips in Gallup Poll

    Gallup just announced that the President's job approval has slipped to 58%, an all time low for him in Gallup's daily tracking poll. Obama's approval rating has averaged at 63% since he took office, peaking at 69% early in his presidency. He's only dipped below 60% on three other occasions this year. The drop seems to be attributable to respondents identifying as Republican or Independent. Around 92% of Democrats approve of how Obama is doing the job.  Although this latest number is slightly lower than Obama's average, it is still high by historical standards.
  • Official Portrait of First Dog Bo Released

    The White House today released an official portrait of First dog Bo Obama. It's a cute picture of Bo, who is quite a fine specimen. But it strikes your Gagglers as a little odd because, as Holly pointed out to me, the girls don't have official portraits yet, nor is there an official first family portrait.The White House has also released an official Bo baseball card to answer all the burning questions about the world's most famous pup. We now have confirmation that Bo's favorite food is tomatoes (weird huh? Maybe he's vegetarian....) and that his goal as first dog is to "meet with foreign dognitaries."  We're impressed that he sat still for long enough to be snapped. But perhaps that just confirms Holly's sneaking suspicion that Bo is actually an anamatronic dog. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if we found out he's a muppet.
  • Twittering the Revolution?

    The revolution won't be televised - it will be twittered, apparently. NBC's Libby Leist is reporting that the State Department has asked Twitter not to shut down for regular maintenance because tweets have proved useful in monitoring the situation in Iran. From Leist:...
  • James S. Brady Visits the WH Briefing Room Named in His Honor

    I just read a White House pool report that I found quite poignant, so I wanted to share it with you, dear Gaggle Readers. The report is from Mike Riley who covers the Washington for Denver Post. Here it is in full:With most of the president’s afternoon schedule closed to the press, it was former Reagan press secretary and gunshot victim James Brady who stole the show when, along with his wife Sarah, he dropped by the revamped James S. Brady press briefing room. Dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit, Brady was in a wheelchair, holding a cane in his left hand, his injuries the result of a gunshot wound to the head inflicted by John Hinckley Jr. during a botched assassination attempt against Brady’s boss in 1981. Brady was at the White House to pay his respects to Robert Gibbs, the man who now holds his former job. Brady’s speech is sometimes slurred, but he took a few minutes for an exchange of quips with the reporters who now work in briefing room dedicated to Brady in February, 2000...
  • Is the Palin-Letterman Feud Over?

    After a week of outraged chatter on both sides on the debate, David Letterman has issued a full apology to Governor Palin for his unsavory joke about her daughter last week. Although he maintains that his intent was not to make inappropriate comments about a 14 year old girl, he took responsibility for the misconceptions about his motives. “I told a bad joke I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke," Letterman told viewers last night. "So I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future.”  The Associated Press is reporting that Palin has accepted the apology. 
  • White House Backs Off Push to Settle Detainees in U.S.

    The Washington Post has a story out today about the Administration's decision to stop pushing Congress to allow freed Guantanamo detainees to settle in the United States. Although they've found homes in Bermuda and Palau for the Chinese Uighurs who were released without charge, abandoning efforts to settle detainees here complicates the Administration's requests for countries like Germany, France and Australia to accept prisoners. Like U.S. representatives, foreign politicians will have a tough time explaining to their constituents that detainees that the U.S. Congress refused to release on American soil should be settled in their communities. The Administration's best hope now is to find other small nations, like Palau, who are willing to take detainees in the hope of receiving increased aid.It's unlikely though that this move signals that Obama will put the brakes on his plans to close Guantanamo by the end of his first year in office. Administration aides...
  • Three More Fundraisers Appointed as Ambassadors

    The White House just sent around another list of Ambassadorial posts. Amongst the names of career diplomats with long histories of service, three appointees stood out, and they just happened to coincide with the three most alluring posts on the list: Belize, Switzerland and Belgium. And yep, these three men all raised decent sums for the President during his campaign. Lawyer Howard Gutman, a partner at Williams and Connolly, Don Beyer, Former Lt. Governor of Virginia and Vinai Thummalapally, president of a company that manufactures recordable optical discs are all set to join the ranks of the the foreign service. I've blogged before about the longstanding Washington trend of giving ambassadorial posts to political friends, so no need to rehash. Just thought it was worth noting. 
  • Letterman vs Palin, Round Two

    Last night David Letterman tried to clear up his tasteless joke about Sarah Palin's daughter being impregnated by Alex Rodriguez. In a bizarre defense of his comments, Letterman suggests that his jokes were above board because they were in reference to Palin's 18 year old daughter Bristol (who recently had a baby) rather than her 14 year old daughter Willow, the one who actually attended the Yankees game with her mother. "These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any...
  • Obamas Statement on the Holocaust Museum Shooting

    The White House just released an official statement from the President regarding today's shooting at DC's Holocaust Museum, which left one security guard dead.  “I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world. “Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time.”The shooter has been identified as James Wenneker von Brunn, an octogenarian from Maryland whose antisemitism has been widely reported today. He is in a critical condition in a nearby hospital.     
  • What Do You Get The Bush Matriarch Who Has Everything?

    It was former First Lady Barbara Bush's 84th birthday on June 8, and no doubt George Bush Sr. spent some time pondering what surprising and thoughtful gift to give his spouse of 64 years. Now, thanks to photos from TMZ, purveyor of entertainment news, we know that the secret to Barbara's happiness is a pool party with the cast of A Chorus Line at the Bush's Maine residence. The pics are, well, interesting. Ahem (clears throat awkwardly). But it sure looks like they're having fun.     
  • Palin Hits Back at Letterman

    Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has responded to an off-color joke about her 14 year old daughter Willow made by Late Show host David Letterman Monday night. During his regular monologue, Letterman joked about Palin's daughter getting knocked up by Alex Rodriguez after the Governor's recent visit to Yankee Stadium. MSNBC has Palin's response: "Concerning Letterman's comments about my young daughter (and I doubt...
  • Virginia's Democrats Shun the Establishment

    For months, Creigh Deeds trailed his two better funded, media magnet opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia. Last night he trounced both of them, winning with 50 percent of the vote. Former DNC Chairman and Chair of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign Terry McAuliffe and Virginia House of Delegates member Brian Moran trailed badly, with 26 and 24 percent of the vote respectively. Polls had shown Deeds closing the gap in the final days of the campaign, but few pundits expected such large, wide-ranging success for the moderate state delegate who until recently struggled for name recognition in a field including Moran and press drawcard McAuliffe. McAuliffe's campaign told reporters they thought it would come down to the wire. Instead, Deeds won a stunning statewide victory, winning 10 out of 11 congressional disctricts and even capturing one held by Moran's brother Jim.Political reporters like to search for broader national meaning in these...
  • Socialized Medicine vs Single Payer vs What We Have Now

    Domestic policy blogger Ezra Klein over at the Washington Post is kind of the blissfully nerdy girl's dream wonk. I've never met the lad, but he seems to adore policy and writes about it in clear, sharp and occasionally self effacing ways. Today, he wrote yet another post I wish I'd written first, where he clarifies the difference between various healthcare terms that get bandied around DC. You can read the full post complete with fun graphs here, but here's the bit that clears up a lot of nonsense about healthcare models:I've been meaning to write this post for some time. The words...
  • Sotomayor: Woman of Steel?

    Just how tough is Sonia Sotomayor? Holly recently noted an episode from her time as a private attorney when she gave chase to some crooks on a motorcycle through the streets of NYC. Yesterday, we learned that she fractured her ankle at La Guardia Airport before boarding her flight. She was traveling to DC for meetings with Senators and White House officials, and wasn't about to let a little thing like a broken ankle get in her way. Sotomayor boarded the plane regardless, went directly to the Old Executive Building (the office building adjacent to the White House where many senior officials work) upon landing and attended meetings. It was only THEN that she decided that her pained ankle needed some treatment. A White House physician soon sent her to a nearby hospital for x-rays which determined that yes, that throbbing pain in her ankle was actually a fracture. Now, in a substantial cast which has reportedly been signed by a couple of Senators, she's still holding meetings....
  • Fun Stats on the Cairo Speech

    The White House last night released some interesting stats from the Cairo speech, gathered from their Embassies around the world. Here's a few things they found:200 million Indians watched the speech in IndiaIn Sierra Leone, the Embassy organized for 11 cinema centers to screen the speech, allowing around 1000 residents to view the speech who otherwise would not have been able toAround 20,000 people signed up for the text message serviceThe Consul-General in Sydney Australia organized for 40 Muslim leaders from various communities, including Indonesia, Lebanese and and Turkish, to watch the speech at her official residence, along with a Jewish leader. Sydney's ethnic populations are rife with divisions, so their collective presence at this event is encouraging