Wonkette gets a Peek at Next Week’s Big Story

New York Magazine is running a story on the much-ballyhooed Internet rumor from early February concerning an affair between Senator John Kerry and Alex Pollier. Of course, Wonkette’s new angle is to “out” Pollier’s close friend who somehow remained anonymous while spreading the rumor. I’m pretty sure Wonkette already knows this one, it’s not that hard.

It looks like Wonkette has a very rough edit of the story (or just a part of it) based on the attrocious grammatical and punctuation errors from Pollier’s interview:

…of course, i still remained unsure how it was that I got dragged into this thing. My relationship with Peter [Maroney, Kerry’s Finance Director] had put me close to the senator,

My guess would be that the interview was conducted via email; And Pollier was supposed to have a journalism degree? Pffft.

Cookie to anyone who can put two and two together on my “Related Entry” below.

Kerry’s Non-Ex-Lover Speaks! [Wonkette]

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Homeland Security to Justice Dept: “Terror Whuh?”

Ridge Homeland SecurityIt’s finally making the rounds that the Department of Homeland Security was mostly clued-out as to the recent warning that Al-Qaida was ready to strike. DHS is supposed to be responsible for issuing warnings and acts as a clearinghouse and conduit between intelligence agencies, however something seems to be misfiring in the communication between agencies. Newsday has the full story in “Terror warning surprises Homeland Security Dept.”:

Officials said the Homeland Security Department knew in advance about the news conference but expected it to focus on seven suspects with ties to al-Qaida who were wanted for arrest or questioning. Department officials were caught off guard when Ashcroft went further and warned that al-Qaida “is ready to attack the United States.”

[…]

Earlier on Wednesday, Ridge spoke on morning television shows and appeared to downplay the threat that Ashcroft would later trumpet, officials said. He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the threats are “not the most disturbing that I have personally seen during the past couple of years.”

So what happened? Did Ashcroft get a little overzealous in his press conference? Are these mixed signals part of an ingenious plot to make terrorists think our intelligence agencies are little more than Keystone cops tripping over each other? What gives?

Terror warning surprises Homeland Security Dept. [Newsday]

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Calls for War Crimes Tribunal Growing

The Independent Institute has an excellent analysis of the current prisoner interrogation and handling fiasco that is besetting the White House and Pentagon. From their article “Has the U.S. Government Committed War Crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq?”:

If today the U.S. government were to put itself on trial, on the same basis it employed to try the Nazis at Nuremberg, for actions taken in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, it might have to convict itself–if only for the sake of consistency. Justice is no respecter of person. Can anyone sincerely maintain that what was a crime for Hermann Goering and Alfred Jodl is not equally a crime for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney?

Evidently, leaders of the Bush administration have given serious consideration to the possibility that their actions might lead to an indictment for war crimes, and they have taken legal measures to minimize their exposure to such prosecution. In a January 25, 2002, memorandum obtained and publicized recently by Newsweek, Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to the president, outlined the pros and cons of the government?Äôs decisions about the treatment of prisoners in the so-called war on terrorism.

The argument isn’t your typical liberal rant on prosecuting administration officials for war crimes, in fact the institute is highly regarded as a bastion of reason. This one is actually very well thought out and argues mostly for the case of consistency and judicial equality on the part of the United States. We’ll see if this has any legs, but the story may already be dying down as other news developments take it’s place.

Has the U.S. Government Committed War Crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq? [The Independent Institute]

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Kerry: 40,000 More Troops, Pulled from his Ass

Kerry campaignJohn Kerry is floating a plan to um… get out of Iraq, by adding 40,000 more troops to the fray. The plan calls for half to be those specializing as military police and for civil affairs, and the other 20,000 would be combat troops. Bloomberg has the full story in “Kerry Calls for More Troops to Bolster U.S. Military”:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry called for increasing the U.S. military by 40,000 troops, probably for a decade, in order “to match its new missions” in the war on terror and homeland security.

“Kerry has to be careful in the campaign not to be perceived as too eager to change the course of U.S. policy toward Iraq,” said Mark Rozell, head of Catholic University’s politics department in Washington. “His policy options are limited by what Bush decides and he cannot say too much in a critical way or else he risks being perceived as undermining the U.S. war effort. It is a delicate balancing act for him.”

You have admit though, it doesn’t sound too different from the Bush doctrine. But funny enough, in the run-up to the June 30th handover, the Pentagon has been pulling more troops out of Iraqi cities and handing the security over to local militias — such as Al Sadr loyalists in Najjaf.

What strikes me as funny is that the Bush administration has had high attrition since the Iraq war began, and has been actively calling up dormant reservists. Which could make anyone ask: Where the heck does Kerry think these 40,000 troops are going to come from?

Kerry Calls for More Troops to Bolster U.S. Military [Bloomberg]

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Terror Warnings: A Case of Crying Wolf?

Terror WarningTODAYonline is running an article that speculates on the timing of the most recent terror alert. Full story in “Is the US govt crying ‘wolf’?”:

Mr Ashcroft said several upcoming events – which include two major American holidays, a Group of Eight summit, political party conventions and US elections in November – could be attractive targets for Al Qaeda.

Observers say that the vague new warning might not be just a call for heightened vigilance.

One thing they missed is that Attorney General John Ashcroft never contacted the Department of Homeland Security on the latest warning. However, Ashcroft notified the nation of the warning along-side FBI Director Robert Mueller. Tom Ridge, the director of DHS, is said to be fuming at the White House for being left out of the loop. Which begs the question: Why have a Department of Homeland Security if no one is going to tell them anything?

Is the US govt crying ‘wolf’? [TODAYonline]

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Memory Hole Banned in Iraq

It’s kinda ironic in a sad way when you read about stuff like this on the Memory Hole Blog:

I’ve received email from a person with an [army.mil] address. This person is stationed in Iraq, and he/she tells me that The Memory Hole is blocked on military computers. Trying to get to the site results in the following message:

Access Denied (content_filter_denied)

Your request was denied because of its content categorization: “Extreme;Politics/Religion”

For assistance, contact your network support team.

How interesting. I post raw documents created by the government, military, and corporations. These days, that apparently amounts to “political extremism.”

Naturally, I’ve filed a FOIA request about this blocking.

The Memory Hole Banned in Iraq [MemoryBlog]

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Andy Rooney: “Our Darkest Days Are Here”

Abu Ghraib prisonAndy Rooney, the octogenarian voice of CBS’s 60 Minutes, has written an excellent analysis of how the Abu Ghraib scandal will haunt us in the books of history:

The day the world learned that American soldiers had tortured Iraqi prisoners belongs high on the list of worst things that ever happened to our country. It’s a black mark that will be in the history books in a hundred languages for as long as there are history books. I hate to think of it.

[…]

In the history of the world, several great civilizations that seemed immortal have deteriorated and died. I don’t want to seem dramatic tonight, but I’ve lived a long while, and for the first time in my life, I have this faint, faraway fear that it could happen to us here in America as it happened to the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Sadly, the Bush administrastion and its allies have labeled far-sighted men like Rooney: “chucklehead” and “an old liberal” and “retarded“. I like to think he’s insightful.

Our Darkest Days Are Here [60 Minutes]

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Suite Snitches: Pizza Delivery & Hotel Clerks

Police in Portsmouth, NH have a new friend in the war against under-age drinking and drug use: Pizza delivery guys and hotel desk clerks. The Associate Press has the full story in “Cops Count On Pizza Tattletales”:

Portsmouth Police Sergeant Mike Schwartz said the program is called the “Booze Bounty.” He said food delivery people and hotel clerks would receive $50 if their anonymous tips of suspicious activity leads to the arrest of a party host.

It’s funny because the police think that the stoner pizza guy is going to turn in his buddies instead of spending a little extra time with his friends and drinking a beer. Aww, isn’t big brother just so naive?

Cops Count On Pizza Tattletales [AP/KYW-TV]

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Talk Show Terrorist or Pragmatic Pundit?

KIRO logoThere’s a little buzz developing around the leftist talk radio host Mike Webb, who has a late-night show on KIRO radio in Seattle. He was discussing Abu Ghraib and speculating whether top-level White House officials knew what was happening in the prison and whether they had authorized the abuses. WorldNetDaily has the full story in “Talk host: Death penalty for Bush”:

“If this is proven to be true, that he knew what was going on [at Abu Ghraib prison], it’s a violation of the Geneva Conventions,” Webb stated. “When you commit a war crime, which is punishable by death.”

Webb then asked: “Should George Bush get the death penalty? I say yes.”

Now while his statements are over-the-top and a bit overzealous — considering we only know that there were memos flying around in early 2002 that discussed White House culpability on breaking Geneva Conventions — he’s incorrect in assuming that all war crimes are punishable by death. As in the Nuremberg trials, the majority of sentences for guilty verdicts turned out to be prison sentences.

Let’s ratchet the rhetoric down a little folks, I’m all in favor of investigating White House and Pentagon complicity in violating Geneva Conventions, but calling for death sentences is a bit premature and only arms the screaming heads (both sides) with more juicy propaganda. You can also read Webb’s blog online where he’s in denial that he went too far.

Talk host: Death penalty for Bush [WorldNetDaily]
Mike Webb’s blog

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Fictional Kerry-McCain Ticket Wins

Kerry McCainHow many times does Senator John McCain have to say no? Apparently many more times in order for people to realize that no, he is not going to be running as John Kerry’s vice president. CBS News explores the outlandish in their piece “Poll: McCain/Kerry Ticket A Winner”:

McCain has continued to face questions about joining his fellow Vietnam veteran Kerry on a ticket, despite having insisted that he is not interested in doing so. America?Äôs voters, meanwhile, do have interest in such a bi-partisan slate: a hypothetical Kerry/McCain pairing holds a 14-point advantage over President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, nearly double the 8-point lead Kerry has alone over Bush.

I mean, holy crap, two Vietnam veterans who have diametrically opposed views on economics and social reform? Let’s pee ourselves in glee at how Machiavellian this match-up would be, no matter how improbable.

Poll: McCain/Kerry Ticket A Winner [CBS News]

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Sh%*tstorm Rains Down on NY Times

Hoo boy, everyone is getting on the New York Times bandwagon, unfortunately it has “tar and feather these bastards” scrawled on the side. The reason for the renewed aggression at the Times? No, they didn’t rehire Jayson Blaire… they issued an overdue mea culpa for relying on the notorious Ahmed Chalabi for much of their WMD information. The retraction is available in the article “The Times and Iraq”. I’ll give you a rundown of my favorites:

AngryFinger writes in “Our National Embarrasment”: “Yesterday the New York Times published an editor’s note to admit how bad they blew it in the months leading up to and following the start of the Iraq war. The piece was called ‘The Times and Iraq’, it should have been called, ‘How the New York Times Became the Bush Administration’s Propaganda Bitch'”.

Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine writes in “The Kremlinology of Iraq and The Times”: “In one view, this is The Times going after Bush: By admitting they were stupid to rely on Ahmad Chalabi and his henchmen for stories, they can put themselves up on a pedestal of late-blooming virtue and say that Bush was even stupider to rely on Chalabi and his henchmen for intelligence that led to war. The problem I have with that is that The Times is being quite selective in its sword falling.”

Power Line thinks that the Times will be even harder on Bush now that everyone knows they are full of crap in the article “No More Mr. Nice Guy at the Times”: “faults itself for publishing reports of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq without 1) expressing sufficient skepticism, or 2) doing follow-up investigation to show that the reports weren’t true […] In other words, between now and November we will see a constant drumbeat of articles in the Times, driving home the theme that “Bush lied!” about the weapons of mass destruction.”

The Times and Iraq [New York Times]
Our National Embarrasment [AngryFinger]
The Kremlinology of Iraq and The Times [BuzzMachine]
No More Mr. Nice Guy at the Times [Power Line]

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Get Your War On #36

David Reese has given the New York Times a well-deserved body-slam in his latest installment of Get Your War On. As always, humorous and insightful at the same time:

Get Your War On

Get Your War On #36 [David Reese]

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40mph Crash Test: MINI Cooper vs. Ford F-150

This article is a bit dated — December 2002 — but it’s still an interesting read to compare crash tests of the 2002-04 MINI Cooper and the 1997-2003 Ford F-150. I’ve actually seen a 60 Minutes segment comparing the 2004 F-150 to the previous model and showing how much better it handles the same crash test (it did better, but the MINI still wins in my opinion).

MINI Cooper crash testFord F-150 crash test

Also, check out the great article that’s linked from this: “Big and Bad: How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety”. It was in the New Yorker a few months ago as a print-only piece, but it’s now online. It examines the “passive safety” of SUVs and compares it to the “active safety” of normal sized cars.

Crash Testing: MINI Cooper vs Ford F150 [Bridger]
Big and Bad: How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety [Malcolm Gladwell]

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My Kingdom for an Exit Strategy

Iraq soldierMSN Slate has a humorous editorial up on how we can get the hell out of Iraq in only three simple steps (no, step two isn’t ‘???’). The strategy is laid out in all it’s tongue-in-cheek glory in “Exit Strategy: How to leave Iraq in three simple steps”:

1) Kill all the ones who are trying to kill us, in such a way that none of those who presently do not want to kill us suddenly start wanting to kill us.

2) At the moment of the death of the last person who wanted to kill us, race quickly out of the country before some additional person suddenly decides he/she wants to kill us, thus necessitating our continued presence in Iraq, in order to kill him/her.

Step 3, of course, is still “Profit!”. Read on to see why I called it humorous instead of a jaded diatribe exhorting large amounts of killings.

Exit Strategy: How to leave Iraq in three simple steps [MSN Slate] [via Wonkette]

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John Kerry will Accept Convention Nomination

Kerry campaigningIn an unsurprising end to the controversy surrounding John Kerry’s Machiavellian scheme to postpone his acceptance for five weeks after the Democratic National Convention, Kerry has agreed to accept the July 29th nomination. The supposed problem stems from the timeframe bewteen the Democratic Convention and the Republican convention — which will take place in New York and end on September 2nd. When the general election begins, which is the point at which each candidate accepts their party’s nomination, they are allotted $75 million dollars to spend in the general election.

I guess this says a lot about the Democrat’s fiscal conservacy if didn’t think they could make $75m last for a few weeks longer than the Republicans.

Kerry to Accept Nomination at Convention [AP/Yahoo!]

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Washingtonienne Pics: From the “Unf Unf Unf” Files

William Blaze over at American Dynamics has posted a ton of photos of Washingtonienne (AKA Jessica Cutler). I saw a couple of these but most of them are new. He says he posted the images “because people seem to want them, not because we care…”. Yeah, yeah… we know you’re watching your search engine traffic and seeing the same voracious apetite for scantilly clad Washington staffers nuzzling with Wonkette. Of course, we also know that all those search engine hits are coming from .gov websites, so we’ll just wink and pass along the pics (click the picture to go to American Dynamics):

Washingtonienne and Wonkette

Washingtonienne Photos [American Dynamics]

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Air America: Hype on Rise; Silence on Decline

Air AmericaAir America Radio—the radio show called the “liberal response to conservative talk radio”—has been floundering in recent weeks. But you probably haven’t heard about the closures of it’s Los Angeles and Chicago offices, nor the scandal embroiling their health care plan—where employees had insurance premiums deducted from their paychecks, but were never covered.

That’s because, according to Media Research Center, news stations hyped Air America’s rise, but didn’t see fit to cover the fall of the liberal outlet. In their analysis, “Hyping Liberal Radio’s Rise, But Not Its Fall”, they expose the coverage gaps:

Newsweek highlighted the debut in a big three-page spread. Newsweek.com also featured an April 12 Al Franken interview with tough questions like Why are Democrats such wimps? Why don’t they fight back? Coverage since then? Zero.

Air America Radio
Hyping Liberal Radio’s Rise, But Not Its Fall [Media Research Center]

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George Bush: Still a Failure, No Longer Miserable

President George W. Bush has another search term to add to his collection: “failure“. Typing the word into Google now turns up Bush’s biography on the White House website, and interestingly enough Jimmy Carter’s bio is number two and Michael Moore’s website trails in third. Previously, it took the complete phrase “miserable failure” to return Bush in the top position, but some people have apparently decided to strip him of his “miserable” status.

In what has become a war of political search-engine manipulation, John Kerry’s presidential campaign site is the number one term for “waffles” and a search for “weapons of mass destruction” lists a faux error page claiming that “These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed”.

A Google-bombing occurs due to Google’s search algorithm which assigns higher scores based on the way people link to items. For example: enough people have linked to Kerry’s campaign with the word “waffles” in order to push that word to the top of the results.

Meanwhile, a search for “viable alternative” is as of yet, still not google-bombed.

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Terror Warnings: Convenient Timing?

Matthew Mcglynn of debris.com has reiterated that the three major spikes in Bush’s popularity have come from the following:

  • the 9/11 terrorist attacks
  • the US invasion of Iraq
  • the capture of Hussein

He even went so far as to mark them on a timeline graph (which I had failed to do):

Bush Approval Graph

Now, allow me to extrapolate and disagree with Matthew on a few points. First of all, there’s no way Bush could get enough support for another war in a mere four months, considering the damage that has been done by the promises of tons and tons of WMDs that have yet to surface. Granted, there have been one or two cases of small-arms with banned weapons, but it’s hardly anything that could have justified this invasion.

Secondly, it’s highly implausible that there will be another high-level capture prior to the election. That’s not to say that Osama bin-Laden may be paraded before the press in November, but the focus has been shifted away from him and the attitude of “Wanted: Dead or Alive”, has transformed into “Wanted: Valid information to tie Iraq to Al-Qaida”. It’s pitiful that the world’s most powerful military has let a single man evade it for so long, and it’s telling that they no longer seem to care.

And finally, we have the one other option that could boost Bush’s ratings: a terrorist attack on American soil. Already the rhetoric is trying to wash over what occured in Madrid and say “we won’t be like Spain”.

Interestingly enough, there’s a favorite qoute on the subject of terrorism that is actually repurposed from the IRA (Irish Republican Army): “The hard thing about terrorism is that they only have to be right once, and we have to be right 100 percent of the time.” The original qoute reads: “Today we were unlucky, but remember, we only have to be lucky once; you will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no war.”

It’s interesting because it seems like a concerted effort to set the stage for a failure to stop an impending terrorist attack, and then push Bush back into the forefront as the man in charge of recovering. It would also herald a forewarning that we should not be like Spain and capitulate, thus the rhetoric that if we allow anyone but Bush to be elected, the terrorists will have won.

Bush approval ratings graph shows huge decline [Debris.com]
Iraq sarin shell is not part of a secret cache [CSMonitor]
From the White House, a nightmare scenario [USNews]
Transcript: Rice on ‘Fox News Sunday’ [FoxNews]
1984: Tory Cabinet in Brighton bomb blast [BBC]

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“Abuse Widespread”; Afghanistan, other Prisons in Iraq Fingered

prisonersIn the still unravelling scandal into mistreatment of POWs and detainees, U.S. Army documents have surfaced which shed light on a systemic undermining of Geneva Conventions in a culture over-run by military intelligence. The Duluth News Tribune reports in “Army: More units involved in abuse”:

Among previously unknown incidents are the abuse of prisoners by Army interrogators from a National Guard unit attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, who are described in a document obtained by the New York Times to have “forced into asphyxiation numerous detainees in an attempt to obtain information” over a 10-week period last spring.

[…]

According to the Army summary obtained by the Times, the deaths that are being investigated most vigorously by Army officials may be those from Afghanistan in December 2002, where two prisoners died in one week at what was known as the Bagram Collection Point, where interrogations were overseen by a platoon from Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg.

Army: More units involved in abuse [Duluth News Tribune]

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Kerry: He Might be on that Interweb Thingy

CathyI get a lot of funny things via email, but nothing made me laugh as good as this lauding of Cathy Weigel by the Kerry campaign for being their one millionth person to sign up for the campaign online.

First, a quote to demonstrate just how clued in she is: “She had read that we were trying to catch up to the Bush-Cheney fundraising machine and thought, ‘they should put up a web site.'” She managed to find the website after deducing that the .com at the end didn’t mean communist.

Now, of all the pictures they could have taken of her to show just how techno-savvy the Democrat crowd is, they pick the one where she’s chatting on the phone. Way to be on the cutting edge Kerry, she looks like one of my grandmother’s friends yakking it up about the latest episode of Young and the Restless.

Later in the email, to show that Kerry is a person of the people, he called her up and had this conversation:

John Kerry: Well, don’t be nervous at all, congratulations to you.

Cathy Weigel: Well, thank you very much!

John Kerry: It’s a huge thing, number one million. [ed note: Wonkette would probably agree on the huge part]

Cathy Weigel: I didn’t have any idea! They called me last night and told me. Somebody here asked me if one of those things had popped up on my computer screen that said “You’re the millionth customer,” but I didn’t have that so I had no idea.

Customer? Good to see that the Kerry campaign is learning from the Bush campaign, even if it’s only stealing their terminology.

One Millionth Online Supporter! [John Kerry Blog]

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Abu Ghraib: Crackdown on Whistleblower

Samuel Provence was one of the first to step forward and tell all about the abuses at Abu Ghraib, now he and others are being stripped of their security clearances and “flagged” — he cannot receive honours, awards or seek promotion until the status is removed — by the military. He says he is being made an example of by those who would rather continue to cover-up the scandal than correct the matter. The Daily Telegraph reports, in “Iraq abuse insider disciplined”:

“My soldiers who were at Abu Ghraib are so scared now they’re not even talking to me any more – I’m like a villain, but would I do it again? Of course I would, because I stand behind what I said,” Provance said in a telephone interview from Heidelberg, Germany, where his military intelligence unit is based.

“I knew what was being reported was not true.”

“Iraq abuse insider disciplined” [Daily Telegraph]

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Grumblings from the GOP

McCain thumbs upThe Washington Post covers the Republicans’ growing ire with the Bush administration policies in the article “For Republicans, a House (And Senate) Divided”:

“In other words, everyone exhibited classic Republican behavior. They showed a spirit of decorum that was once embodied by Ronald Reagan’s ’11th Commandment,’ which stated, ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.'”

“Recent days, however, have brought a free-for-all of GOP violations to their commandment. It got to a point where Bush visited Capitol Hill on Thursday for an intervention. But the president isn’t immune. His poll numbers are dipping, as is support for his increasingly dicey foray into Iraq. Conservative pundits George Will and Robert Novak, among others, have sharply criticized Bush’s spending, growing deficit and the mounting casualties abroad. Novak, in a column this week, cited a poll in which 20 percent of Republicans said they are not committed to voting for Bush.”

It looks like the air is quickly deflating out of the Bush political balloon. I’m also beginning to see that Colin Powell is the only one in this administration who had the foresight to see that this whole thing would eventually fall apart when he announced in early 2002 that he would not stay with Bush if there was a second term. Hmmm, wasn’t that around the same time that memos were flying around warning the president of possible legal liabilities in bypassing Geneva Conventions?

For Republicans, a House (And Senate) Divided [Washington Post]

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