Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
The former commander of the multinational force in Iraq says Al Qaeda and its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country. Lt. Gen. John Vines says Zarqawi "discredited himself with the Iraqi people because of his willingness to slaughter" them and claims the group's inability to launch a coordinated effort to disrupt the Iraqi elections was a "tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed."
Vines says Iran has taken a more prominent role in Iraq and says that unlike the terrorists, Iran welcomes the U.S. presence, but only until "a Shiite government friendly to Iran is established."
Tax Day Protest
An estimated 10,000 Americans will refuse to pay some or all of their federal income taxes this year because they're opposed to U.S. military spending. Federal courts have repeatedly called such acts of protest illegal and along with garnishing wages and bank accounts, the IRS recently prosecuted three members of a New Jersey church for withholding their taxes as a statement against the war in Iraq. But that hasn't deterred army veteran Jim Allen.
While the government says 19 cents of every tax dollar goes to military spending, The Christian Science Monitor reports that Allen believes the number is closer to 42 percent, so he subtracts that percentage from the taxes he owes before sending a check to the IRS.
Meanwhile, residents of Boca Grande, Florida are being asked to pay a new tax what the local government is calling the "iguana tax" — money to figure out how to deal with the iguana lizards that have overrun the Gulf Coast island town. Nearly 12,000 iguanas inhabit Gasparilla Island, ten times the number of the island's permanent human residents. They eat flowers, climb into attics, and even show up in toilets and scientists say their burrows could dangerously weaken the beach in the event of a storm surge.
County commissioners say the new tax will cover the cost of studying the infestation, but wildlife officials says the iguanas are so well established, there's no way the islanders will ever get rid of them all.
In his new book "Politics Lost," Time magazine columnist Joe Klein complains about today's colorless political figures. He cites Teresa Heinz Kerry as a notable exception, but also talks about the problems that can cause. Klein recounts that at the 2004 Democratic Convention, Heinz Kerry tried to prevent vice presidential candidate John Edwards from joining her husband onstage before she did, insisting, "I am the spouse. I go first."
Unable to reason with the woman, Klein writes, a young aide waited until the end of Kerry's speech then "blocked Teresa with both arms, turned his head, and yelled to Edwards — 'Run!'"
— FOX News' Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.