And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

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Breaking Promises?
For years Hillary Clinton (search) has come under fire from conservatives, but now, according to the sometimes accurate New York Times (search), liberals have begun taking pot shots at the former first lady. Liberal interest groups instrumental in the senator's election now say she has gone wobbly on core principles. They accuse her of failing to confront President Bush and congressional Republicans on some litmus-test issues. Gay activists complain that she remained silent while a chorus of Democrats blasted Sen. Rick Santorum for arguing that the right to privacy has real and practical limits. Anti-war Democrats grumble that she didn't challenge the president on the war against Saddam Hussein. The senator's aides say she has remained true to her core beliefs -- the ones, they say, she held as first lady. Philip Friedman, a Democratic operative in New York, tells the Times the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot. Quote: "Democrats love the Clintons, and that's why her husband was able to get away with going off the reservation now and then."

Problem Child
And in Orlando, Fla., a veteran kindergarten teacher is suing her school district over the behavior of an unruly child. Cheri Dean says a brat subjected her to humiliation, emotional and physical distress and "loss of enjoyment of life." She wants a court to award damages for her ordeal. She insists the school system would not remove the student even after he supposedly stabbed a classmate with a fork at lunch, started a fight and then told a teachers aide to "kiss my butt." Dean has organized an informal group called Teachers Against Violence in Classrooms, but says the psychological trauma of the ordeal has forced her to take medical leave for most of the school year. Meanwhile, the school system has transferred the kid to a nearby school. The staff there includes teachers certified to deal with um, challenging students.

The Right to Travel
And finally, actor Sean Penn (search) defended his controversial trip to Baghdad last winter in a full-page ad in today's New York Times. His 4,000-word creed, defends his works as "...neither a peace activist nor a partisan politico." Penn notes with almost complete accuracy that he may travel anywhere on his own dime. He also says, "I want to see who's the people. I want to see who are the sheep. And I want to know the lions." The "Kilroy's Still Here" advertisement ends with the single tag line, "For information or comments: Clyde1234@attbi.com."