Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
The office of Senator Ted Kennedy, who last week told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that U.S. forces in Iraq were caught in a "quagmire," and suggested he should resign, has now confirmed that the Massachusetts Democrat has never been to Iraq.
According to the Pentagon, some 265 members of Congress have visited the embattled nation, including 57 senators and every member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — except three. West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd hasn't been there for health reasons, and North Carolina Republican Elizabeth Dole has plans to go. There's been no explanation as to why Kennedy has never been.
‘Stretch Beyond Culturally Liberal Orientation’?
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller says his paper has launched a new campaign to "stretch beyond our predominately urban, culturally liberal orientation ... [and] cover the full range of our national conversation."
Specifically, he says in a memo posted online, the Times will "make an extra effort" to diversify its newsroom, culturally... and work to cover religion more extensively. But Keller says this is not an effort to "appease believers or pander to conservatives," insisting, "good journalism entails understanding more than just the neighborhood you grew up in."
A Conservative Estimation?
Democrats have warned that if a Supreme Court justice retires soon, President Bush could nominate someone who would make the high bench more conservative. But, according to a new Gallup poll, that's exactly what many Americans want. In the poll, 41 percent say they would like to see the Supreme Court move to the right. Only 30 percent want to see it move the other way.
However, a slight majority says that if almost all Senate Democrats oppose a nominee, based on positions he or she has taken, the president should nominate someone else. What if he won't? A slight majority says Democrats should then work to defeat the nomination.
Stepped-Up Spy Efforts?
China has stepped up efforts to gather intelligence and technology inside the U.S., which has helped boost plans to build advanced-weapons systems, according to FBI intelligence officials. In fact, the FBI's assistant director of counterintelligence, Dave Szady, tells The Washington Times that China is developing some arms more than three times faster than usual. What's more, China could ultimately use U.S. technology against the U.S.
Officials say the Chinese government uses traditional spy methods, but also employs thousands of Chinese front companies and hundreds of thousands of visitors and students to gather intelligence. But, Szady says, the FBI is also stepping up efforts to counter Chinese spying.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report