- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Kerry's explanation
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry says his wartime comment that the United States, like Iraq, needs a regime change was intended as a lighthearted remark.
"It was not about the president, and it was not about the war. It was about the election," Mr. Kerry said yesterday during a campaign stop in Montgomery, Ala.
Earlier this month, the Massachusetts senator was widely criticized when, during a speech in New Hampshire, he said President Bush had so alienated allies before the U.S.-led war against Iraq that only a new president could rebuild the relationships.
"What we need now is not just regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States," Mr. Kerry said.
Those comments drew an angry rebuke from top Republicans in the House and Senate, widespread criticism from many conservative corners and lit up the lines to radio talk shows in numerous states, including Alabama, the Associated Press reports.
While campaigning yesterday, Mr. Kerry said some people overreacted to the remark.
"When I fought in Vietnam and fought for my country, I didn't give up my right to make quips and to participate in the debate," he said.
Hillary and Hoover
In a fiery speech Monday night, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, accused the Bush administration of having the worst economic policies since Herbert Hoover, with no plan to end the nation's fiscal troubles.
The former first lady told about 1,550 Connecticut Democrats that an increasing number of Americans are unhappy with Mr. Bush's policies.
"There is an unease," she told the party faithful gathered at the Democrats' annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner in Southington. "People know better than what they hear and what they see."
Mrs. Clinton accused Mr. Bush of squandering the surpluses that accumulated during the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
"In just two years, the country again faces hefty budget deficits," she said. "We are, unfortunately, reaping the bad consequences of a wrong economic policy. They have the most wrongheaded economic policies that we've seen since Herbert Hoover."
She received a standing ovation when she angrily said it was unfair for critics of Mr. Bush's policies to be accused of being unpatriotic, the Associated Press reports.
"We are Americans," she said. "We have the right to participate and debate any administration."
Governor pilot
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue flew state helicopters in recent months even though he doesn't have a license, drawing complaints from the head of the Georgia State Patrol's aviation unit.
Sgt. 1st Class Mike Boyd said a second set of helicopter controls were installed for Mr. Perdue, who is licensed to fly fixed-wing planes but not helicopters.
"The governor was flying the helicopter that's clear," said Lance LoRusso, Sgt. Boyd's attorney. "This is state property. It's not the governor's play toy. There's not a whole lot of room for error."
Mr. Perdue handled the controls of the helicopter while in flight, but he was never the sole pilot, said his spokesman, Derrick Dickey.
"The governor was never the pilot in command. He was allowed to get a feel for the aircraft while in the front," Mr. Dickey said. "The Georgia State Patrol pilot always had control of that aircraft."
Mr. Perdue flew state helicopters during a Dec. 14 trip to a Georgia Southern University football game and a Republican rally in Blackshear, according to a Monday report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sgt. Boyd also reported that a pilot flew to Perry on Feb. 6 with the governor on board even though Sgt. Boyd had ordered him not to because it was too foggy.
The 'French hens'
The Dixie Chicks' stand on the war with Iraq may make them doves, but to the Rev. Jerry Falwell, they're three "French hens."
"I know they are just young girls and I know they weren't thinking that clearly, but they said unacceptable things about their president," Mr. Falwell said Monday during an appearance in Jonesboro, Ark.
At a March 10 concert in London, Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines told the audience in reference to President Bush's push for military action against Iraq: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." She later apologized for being disrespectful.
Mr. Falwell said the singer was wrong to speak critically of her country while overseas, the Associated Press reports.
"Politics should end at the shore when you leave the country," he said. "You don't talk about your own country, especially during war."
Mr. Falwell drew fire in 2001 after he blamed civil liberties groups, pro-choice activists and feminists for the terror attacks.
Even though Mr. Falwell later said he "made a statement that I should not have made and which I sincerely regret," on Monday he characterized that as a clarification and "not so much an apology."
"But I don't sell records. And I don't do it in England and I don't do it in France. I do all of mine head to head, face to face in America as a taxpaying citizen," Mr. Falwell said.
Sensenbrenner's trip
The recording industry paid $18,000 for the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to travel to Asia to urge government officials to clamp down on pirating of music and movies. Watchdog groups say the trip may have violated House ethics rules.
The Recording Industry Association of America said it asked Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, to make the January trip to Taiwan and Thailand to reinforce the U.S. position on pirated products. Mr. Sensenbrenner was accompanied by his wife and an aide.
RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said the State Department and U.S. trade representative have long pressured Taiwan and Thailand to enforce U.S. laws on intellectual property. Mr. Sensenbrenner was asked to go there, Mr. Lamy said, "so they understand that this is a unified message coming from all levels of the U.S. government, including Congress."
Gary Ruskin, who runs the government watchdog group Congressional Accountability Project, said the trip may have violated a House rule that bars members and staff from accepting expenses "from a private source for travel the primary purpose of which is to conduct official business."
Mr. Ruskin called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate. A committee staffer declined to comment, the Associated Press reports.
In an interview, Mr. Sensenbrenner said he could have used committee funds to pay for the trip, but "I thought I would save the taxpayers some money on this."
His disclosure form, filed with the House clerk, refers to the visit as a "fact-finding trip," which under House rules may be paid for by private groups. But Mr. Ruskin said pressuring governments went beyond that.
Bush's security adviser
President Bush named a former deputy CIA director, Air Force Gen. John Gordon, to be his new homeland security adviser, the White House announced yesterday.
Gen. Gordon will help coordinate White House policies with the recently created Department of Homeland Security and other defense and intelligence agencies, said presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Gen. Gordon, currently a presidential national security adviser on terrorism, will take the post initially held by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who left the White House to head the new department. The job does not require Senate confirmation.
"The White House still needs to have an office here in the White House much smaller than the department to coordinate the various entities that are involved in homeland security," Mr. Fleischer said.
Gen. Gordon also worked for former President Bush as a staff member of the National Security Council, the Associated Press reports.

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