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Inside Politics Weekend

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Ah-nawld and Moonbeam

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, fresh from officiating at a number of recent same sex-marriages in his fair city, now wants to be governor of California. He's formed an exploratory committee for a gubernatorial bid in 2010 to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mr. Newsom's competition? It will most likely include the ever-hopeful Gov. "Moonbeam" - Jerry Brown, now attorney general and governor of the Golden State from 1975 to 1983. His Haight Ashbury-showbiz soul is already at work. Mr. Brown, 70, has changed the named of his campaign committee from "Jerry Brown for Attorney General" to the way-more-cosmic "Jerry Brown 2010" and has accrued $200,000 in donations.

Both gentlemen have their cachet, according to Republican strategist Dan Schnur. Mr. Brown has name recognition, Mr. Newsom fierce liberal credentials.

"The conventional wisdom is that the same-sex marriage issue is a double-edged sword for Newsom, but I'd argue that it makes him the most likely Democratic nominee. An issue like this in the Democratic primary gives him an ability to break out of the pack," Mr. Schnur told the Associated Press.

Almost a hundred

Let us remember our brave women in combat today. More American servicewomen have been killed serving in Iraq than were lost serving in Operation Desert Storm, the Vietnam War or the Korean War. So far, 97 American women - including seven single mothers - have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Their average age was 27, according to an analysis of Defense Department statistics by Cybercast News Service.

In the Gulf War, there were 16 female casualties. In Vietnam, there were eight casualties and 17 in the Korean War.

The findings should be a "major source of concern for lawmakers," said Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, explaining that women will be deployed in "harm's way" at the brigade level, but existing rules preclude them from being placed "at the tip of the spear" in ground combat.

Rules have been "stretched, redefined, blurred and disregarded" without congressional authorization, she said. While she ardently supports women in the armed forces, Mrs. Donnelly is opposed to mixed male-female combat battalions where unit cohesion is vital.

"The situation is totally out of hand," she said. "There are no regulations that have any teeth at all in the Army, they are being routinely ignored and Congress is allowing this to happen without exercising any oversight. ... There is a vast social experiment now under way in the Army, and it's alarming to see how far this administration has allowed it to go." Starred items

Forget political prognostications. Seven astrologers at the recent United Astrology Conference predicted that Sen. Barack Obama would win the White House, citing Saturn's opposition to Uranus on Election Day - signaling "social upheaval" in the celestial realm, they say.

Well heck. Why not?

Astrologer Susan Miller says that Sen. John McCain, a Virgo, is full of compassion and sense of service. Mr. Obama, a Leo, has inspirational leadership. The stargazer also says that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will get a big job offer on Aug. 1 during a solar eclipse and will not return to the Senate.

But one never knows.

"Astrology shows you the conditions, it doesn't show you the outcome. The outcome is up to us. We all have to vote," Ms. Miller told ABC News.

Days of yore

Lots of auspicious beginnings today.

Three cheers, W. Go ahead and enjoy yourself. Today is President Bush's 62nd birthday; he was born in New Haven, Conn., on July 6, 1946.

It is also the 87th birthday of former first lady Nancy Reagan, born in New York City in 1921.

GOP stalwarts, get out your party hats and have an extra-dry martini. It's also the 154th anniversary of the Republican Party, founded in 1854 as an anti-slavery party by former members of the Whig, Democratic, Free Soil and Know Nothing parties, who met in Michigan and adopted the name.

Quote-a-rama

"Obama would get more barbecue invitations than McCain." - Associated Press headline for a new survey revealing Americans would favor burgers with the Illinois Democrat over the Arizona Republican, 52 percent to 45 percent.

"He lives the way Jackie Gleason would have lived if Gleason had the money. Some people are irritated by it." - Rogers Ailes on Rush Limbaugh's opulent Florida lifestyle, in The New York Times.

"Somebody's got to say it. The man is Ted Baxter." - Mr. Limbaugh on Bill O'Reilly, also in The New York Times.

"Once again Seymour Hersh wastes our time with an essay that would have been more suitable for a psychiatrist's couch, accompanied by the question, 'Doctor, why do I keep making up these things?'" - Michael Ledeen in Pajamas Media, addressing Mr. Hersh's New Yorker essay that contends the Bush administration is formulating "secret moves against Iran."

By the numbers

A voter quandary: A "third Bush presidency" - or just too much "change?"

28 percent of Americans overall approve of the job President Bush is doing.

60 percent of Republicans approve of Mr. Bush's job, 6 percent of Democrats.

49 percent of Americans overall are "very concerned" Sen. John McCain's policies as president would be too similar to Mr. Bush's.

20 percent of Republicans are very concerned, 76 percent of Democrats.

30 percent of Americans are "very concerned" Sen. Barack Obama would go too far in changing policy if he were president.

56 percent of Republicans are very concerned, 16 percent of Democrats.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,625 adults conducted June 13 to 19, with a margin of error of three percentage points.

m Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085.

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