Adam Howard is the former Assistant Web Editor of The Nation and currently the News Editor of The Grio.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan could not resist adding a little irony to the session where it was announced that he was being fired -- er, stepping down -- as the chief spinner for the Bush administration.
"You have accomplished a lot over the last several years with this team," McClellan said to President Bush.
Yes, the team has accomplished so much that it is being systematically dismantled by new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten at breakneck speed. With public support for the president's agenda dipping to Nixon-in-Watergate lows, and with even the Republican Congress breaking with the White House on major issues, Bolten -- who replaced ousted Chief of Staff Andy Card -- seems to have determined that the administration might need a new team.
In the Washington Post Monday, pollster Richard Morin writes about how George Bush's plummeting poll numbers have rendered the red-blue political map close-to-obsolete.
"States that were once reliably red are turning pink," Morin points out. "Some are no longer red but a sort of powder blue." The Washington Post's polling director goes on to note that "In fact, a solid majority of residents in states that president Bush carried in 2004 now disapprove of the job he is doing...[and] views of the GOP have also soured in those Republican red states."
Residents of states Bush carried in 2004 now trust Democrats over Republicans to deal with our nation's biggest problems--48 to 42 percent. And in the 2004 blue states, George Bush's approval rating has declined even further from 45 to 33 percent.
Last week I wrote about the efforts of Representative Sherrod Brown and others to change a system in which the federal minimum wage has been frozen for eight years at $5.15 an hour, while a corporate CEO earns $13,700 an hour.
But this week there were some hopeful signs--Arkansas raised its state minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. And today the most popular woman in America--Oprah--will feature the struggles of minimum wage workers who earn a maximum of approximately $10,000 annually, and the growing coalition of organizations working to make certain that a hard day's work receives a fair day's pay.
Perhaps if the Republican Congress won't listen to America they will listen to Oprah. Stranger things have happened (why it was only weeks ago that George Bush attempted to wax – while not exactly eloquent--wax interested about America's addiction to oil).
First, the company's own employee blows the whistle on its failure to use water purification equipment. And now a physician serving in Iraq ties an outbreak of bacterial infections among soldiers to foul-smelling water she noticed at Qayyarah Airfield West during the same time period.
As the Houston Chronicle reported on Friday, testing now confirms that water used by the soldiers to bathe and brush their teeth contained coliform and E. coli bacteria.
Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann had the audacity to state that subsidiary (you guessed it) Kellogg Brown & Root provided water "consistent with the army's standards." This shouldn't come as a surprise since the company also dismissed larvae spotted by its own employee as "an optical illusion caused by a leak in the toilet fixture."
George Bush's second closest comrade in the neoconservative "coalition of the willing" occupiers of Iraq has been swept from power. And that means that Italy will soon withdraw its troops from the coalition and Iraq.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who after British Prime Minister Tony Blair was the strongest supporter of Bush's policies in Europe, and perhaps the world, was swept from office in voting that ended Monday. Berlusconi will be replaced by Romano Prodi, whose center-left Olive coalition promised in its manifesto to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq.
Exit polls for the state broadcaster RAI gave Prodi's coalition of liberals, socialists and communists a majority in both houses of parliament.