You Messed Up. Now Here's Your Promotion.

Ranging far afield to perform their legislative duties, members of a congressional delegation are taking a river cruise in Brazil.
Ranging far afield to perform their legislative duties, members of a congressional delegation are taking a river cruise in Brazil. (By Andre Penner -- Associated Press)
By Al Kamen
Friday, November 30, 2007

On Oct. 23, the day of FEMA's now infamous phony news conference, the agency's former external affairs chief, Pat Philbin, announced plans to promote a number of people in the shop as part of an effort to build a "new FEMA."

Cindy Taylor, deputy director of public affairs, was to become head of a new Private Sector Office, Philbin said in his e-mail to staff members. And Mike Widomski would move up to replace Taylor as deputy director of public affairs.

Loop Fans might recall that both of them, posing as reporters, asked questions of acting Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson. After our item, and an investigation of what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called "one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," we're happy to announce that Taylor and Widomski appear to have been disciplined, FEMA-style.

They've received the promotions they were in line to get.

So, according to the External Affairs Weekly report for this week, Taylor is director of the Private Sector Division, and Widomski is deputy director of public affairs.

Heck of a job.

They Must Have Had to Wash Their Hair

So let's see, a "senior administration official" told reporters Tuesday he was most pleased that there was a great turnout at the confab in Annapolis. "As I look at the membership of the Arab League," he said, "there are only six members out of the 22 who are not here -- Comoros, Djibouti, Somalia -- each of them probably have better things to do -- Iraq, Kuwait and Libya."

Okay, the first three don't count, because no one cares whether they showed. But the last three? Better things to do? Didn't we liberate Iraq and Kuwait? Aren't we making nice with Libya?

Fortunately, the genocidal regime in Sudan -- against which, by the way, we have sanctions and which President Bush himself denounced -- did show up.

Ashcroft and Water Sports

Former attorney general John D. Ashcroft stands ready to subject himself to waterboarding if he has to.

Ashcroft, speaking at the University of Colorado on Tuesday night, was asked if he'd undergo the practice, which has been prosecuted as torture in U.S. military courts since the Spanish-American War.

"The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do," he said, according to an account in the Rocky Mountain News. Sounds as though he would want a guarantee that he wouldn't drown, which might marginally mitigate the terror of being held strapped to a board and held upside down as water is poured into your mouth and nose, creating the sensation of drowning.

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