Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Lack Of Understanding?
A new poll suggests a lot of people opposed to the president's idea of personal investment accounts in Social Security don't understand what he's proposing. Fewer than half, for example, are aware that workers could choose to stay with the current program.
And fewer than half of those 55 and older are aware that their benefits will not be affected. When told that, overall support for personal accounts goes up significantly. Meanwhile, another poll shows that nearly 60 percent of seniors who know the facts support personal accounts. What's more, members of AARP, despite their group's opposition are slightly more likely to approve of personal accounts than non-AARP members.
“A National Embarrassment”?
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' longest-serving member has abruptly resigned, saying, "The commission, once the nation's conscience, is now a national embarrassment beyond repair." Russell Redenbaugh, a conservative independent, says he's had enough of the commission spending money irresponsibly, resisting independent oversight, and pursuing partisan agendas —- a criticism repeatedly lodged against the commission, which was under a liberal majority until three months ago. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Redenbaugh says, "Chronic mismanagement and a fatally flawed organizational structure eliminates the commission's institutional capacity to even participate in [a discussion about change]."
Money for Mayhem?
A former member of Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen army says Sheikh Mahdi Al-Sumaydai, the outspoken Sunni cleric jailed by U.S. forces for promoting violence, paid him about $150 to help kidnap and kill foreigners. Hassan Al-Khafaji says that in one operation he and a group of Iraqis took two foreigners from the Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad, butchered them, and threw their bodies on a road leading to Abu Ghraib.
What's more, Al-Khafaji, in an interview translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, says he took several pills before each operation... to numb his senses so he would not know what he was about to do.
Managing Editor Misquoted
Earlier this week we quoted China's People's Daily as saying Washington Post managing editor Philip Bennett had warned against U.S. imperialism and said the U.S. should not be the leader of the world. But it turns out the People's Daily took some of Bennett's quotes out of context, and rearranged others. In fact, Bennett clarified his remarks by saying, "what I really mean to say [is] that I don't think we are headed into a period of history where one country or one set of ideas is going to dominate all others."
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report