And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:
Dealing With Democrats
Democrats are continuing to grouse about President Bush's decision last week to use a Viking jet to land on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln (search). Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) has issued this statement, "Considering the expense to the American taxpayer and use of American military men and women as 'extras' for this media stunt, the president should pledge that his landing not appear in any presidential campaign commercials and videos." McAuliffe also called Bush's choice "indefensible." The White House is about as likely to issue such a statement as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., (search) is to stop mentioning his service in Vietnam. And in fact, the White House is throwing the profligacy charge back at Democrats. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer claimed yesterday that the president actually saved taxpayers money. Fleisher said the Viking jet costs just $7 more to operate each hour than does a helicopter. Said Fleischer: "Given the fact that it actually takes a Viking less time to travel than a helicopter, you can do the math."
London's flamboyant and powerless mayor, Ken Livingston, also known as Red Ken, finds himself in the accustomed position of having to pluck a foot from his mouth. Livingston recently declared that he looked forward to President Bush's "being overthrown" as much as he looked forward to Saddam Hussein's ouster. Livingston also called the president, "a hawk who was a coward, leader of the most corrupt administration since the ‘20s," referring to the corrupt presidency of Warren G. Harding.
Hal's Homeland Security
A federal security screener at the Monterey Peninsula Airport in California has filed a complaint against Republican Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers, chairman of the committee that funds the Department of Homeland Security. The complaint alleges Rogers became "belligerent" after the screener said one of the congressman's bags may have exceeded a 50-pound weight limit. The filings say Rogers "very strongly...stated that he was my boss and...that he signs my paycheck and that tomorrow he was going to have my wages lowered." Rogers' spokeswoman denies the allegations.
Mohammed Al Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who brought coalition forces to now ex-POW Jessica Lynch, suffered an injury to one eye while hustling between the hospital in which Lynch was incarcerated and the U.S. troops who rescued her. The Iraqi lawyer now enjoys American citizenship, and is undergoing treatment at the George Washington University Medical Center. His physician tells the Washington Post the Iraqi man is "a lovely guy -- especially given that he is a lawyer."