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February 2006 Archives

Update (Wednesday 10:08 a.m. est) ...see new item above for briefing on quick Afghanistan visit.....

A ``gaggle'' is White House slang for a press briefing..
I'm not flying along with the presidential entourage. This transcript of a gaggle with SECRETARY OF STATE CONDI RICE AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR STEPHEN HADLEY comes from the White House. It is a primer on some of the issues Bush wants to deal with on the India and Pakistan trip, especially on nuclear non-proliferation.

A little double entendre here. The vision thing at issue with President Bush is eyes, not policy.

Your blogger celebrated ``Save Your Vision Week'' early, with a visit to the opthalmologist this morning.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a former Chicago alderman--who is mulling a mayoral run--returned to City Hall this morning to rally support against a House bill passed last December on the strength of GOP votes. The legislation would criminalize many aspects of illegal immigration. The Senate is preparing to write its own immigration measure and eventually the House and Senate must agree on the same language in order for a bill to become a law.

Gutierrez is one of the Democratic House leads on immigration.

A few weeks ago the Republican National Committee asked more than 30 cities to bid to host the 2008 presidential nominating convention. Chicago was on the RNC long list, though the city has no interest in pursuing the business..
Just moments ago...
The Democratic National Committee announced that eleven cities have expressed an interest in hosting the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The include: Anaheim, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

President Bush again turns to the ``U.S. as gas addicts'' theme in speech to National Governor's Association meeting.

This is the winter meeting Gov. Blagojevich is skipping.

Never wait for the press conference...
Today, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Il.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.)
continue the Democratic criticize the new Medicare Part D cost to bring prescription drug benefits to seniors...

Their comments to be based on a Jan. 18 study....To read about it, start here... Last week, in a co-ordinated drive, House Democrats threw about 100 events to complain about the GOP-authored plan....Long time critics Schakowsky and Emanuel owed their leadership their they weigh in again in a few hours from Chicago....

Together.....rare bipartisan joint action....

(Washington, D.C.) -- Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) today
announced that he and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will lead a
bipartisan delegation March 2 - 4 to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to
look at progress in the cleanup and rebuilding efforts by all levels of
government and charitable organizations. The delegation will look at the
effectiveness of recovery assistance, while ensuring the most resources
possible are reaching people directly.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivered the Democratic Hispanic radio address today, in Spanish.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor told me that Obama can get by in Spanish. Text of message and translation, click here.



Office of the Press Secretary

the following is an item from the ``Hotline,'' a political tipsheet published by the National Journal
The Sweetest Thing
Lynn Sweet is the DC bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times and writes a
column for the paper. She also is a columnist for The Hill. In '04 she was a
spring semester fellow at Harvard's Inst. of Politics in the Kennedy School
of Government. But today she's our Friday Feature:

Why wait for the press conference...this just in..

I ran into John Anderson, a former Republican congressman who represented the Rockford area in northern Illinois, presiding over a press conference Thursday, called to gin up interest in revamping a system where the candidate who has the most votes does not always win. (Remember Al Gore in 2000).

When White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen decided not to attend a White House ceremony honoring the 2005 World Series champs, it was, well, noticed.

In that spirit, I pass along the information that Gov. Blagojevich is also saying no to a White House invite.

UPDATE: I just watched...CNN just ran the comedy ambush interview clip with Blagojevich..done for the Jon Stewart show....very amusing....

After a war of words (seems so long ago) over ethics reform between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), this joint announcement issued by McCain comes out about ``ongoing discussions.''


Washington, D.C. - Today Senators Santorum (R-PA), McCain (R-AZ), Lott (R-TN), Kyl (R-AZ), Vitter (R-LA), Lieberman (D-CT), Obama (D-IL), Isakson (R-GA), Dodd (D-CT), Feingold (D-WI) and Collins (R-ME), today issued the following joint statement:

Your federal government at work

Here's the lede of my latest column:

The White House ignored warnings from Republicans that the deal to allow a United Arab Emirates company to manage port terminals in six U.S. cities would create at the least a perception problem for the Bush administration

To read the whole shot, click here

The Bush team goes on the offensive to defend the ports deal with a United Arab Emirates company

After a cabinet meeting this morning, President Bush today tried again to quiet the storm over whether letting an United Arab Emirates company manage six U.S. ports.

And so people don't need to worry about security. This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America.

Today, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Congress will get briefed on the controversial plan to let a company soon to be owned by the United Arab Emirates operate ports in the U.S.

He admits the White House could have handled it better.

`` I mean, in hindsight, when you look at this and the coverage that it's received and the false impression that it has left with some, we probably should have briefed members of Congress about it sooner. ''

President Bush is traveling to India and Pakistan in March.....
He talked about the upcoming trip today...``By fostering economic development and opportunity, we will reduce the appeal of radical Islam, and demonstrate that America is a steadfast friend and partner of the Pakistani people.
Here are Bush's complete remarks:

Washington Post: Duckworth story


On the media:
Sunday’s Washington Post featured a front-page flattering story about Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, running in the March Illinois Democratic primary for the seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.)
There was no new ground plowed—but, for the record, the report was wrong in explaining exactly when Duckworth ``officially’’ announced her candidacy on Dec. 18. The backstage story is this:

The following is a statement by Senator John McCainon the debate over the Bush Administration's decision to allow Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates to manage U.S. sea ports.

President Bush has never used his veto.

In a rare roundtable with reporters traveling with Bush on Air Force One, Bush threatened a veto if Congress tries to stop a deal where an Arab company gets the job of guarding six U.S. ports.

Said Bush, ``But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto.''

In diplomatic language, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) tells President Bush he has reservations about using an Arab company to guard six U.S. ports.



Mr. EMANUEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and honor the Chicago area athletes competing this month in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

President's Day with the President

It takes an accidential shooting to dramatize the secretiveness of the Bush White House—especially compared to the ``document dumps’’ of the two Clinton terms

The White House wants the focus today to be on detoxing the nation from its gas addiction. Later this week, the energy secretary visits the Archers Daniels Midland plant in Downstate Illinois to talk about ethanol and alternative fuels.

One of the most influential Republicans in Illinois, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has no plans at present to endorse in the biggest GOP primaries in the state--for governor and in the north suburban eighth congressional district.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has a hurdle to overcome as he pushes for an independent ethics commission: the opposition of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

For my column on this, click here.

My column on Vice President Cheney's interview that is in Thursday's paper is posted on the main Sun-Times website.
For those who want to catch the column here, click now...

This release from the office of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

As the number two Democrat in the Senate, he has the ability--more than other senators--to get a one-on-one meeting. President Bush sent his proposed fy 2007 budget to Congress last week.

Update...just left the studio in Washington...Chicago could not get the audio the segment was understandably dropped...

Live, from Washington, WTTW Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce talks to me about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
The interview should be at the top of the show, which starts at 7 p.m. Chicago time.
As soon as I have time, I'll file something on an Obama press conference I covered today, called to tout his plan for an independent ethics commission

Here's today's briefing from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.
Still more questions about the accidential shooting, despite Vice President Cheney's interview with Fox News.

Vice President Cheney finally breaks his silence.
``As soon as I fired and saw Harry there, everything else went out of my mind. I don't know whether the bird went down, or didn't.’’--Vice President Cheney

Read deep in this morning's White House briefing to find that Fox's Brit Hume lands the big interview, the first since Vice President Cheney accidently shot a hunting companion on Saturday.

Chicago and 30 other cities were asked Wednesday to bid on hosting the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Or do you like this headline better: Chicago Aldermen: In flight

Kidding aside, eight members of Chicago's City Council are in Washington today to lobby on the pending immigration bill and to try to keep federal community development block grant funds flowing to the city. (click for names)

This just in....
At the beginning of each day the House is in session, lawmakers can go to the well of the chamber to deliver brief remarks. This morning around 9 a.m. Chicago time, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), took on White House press secretary Scott McClellan over remarks made in a briefing about Vice President Cheney's accidential shooting of a hunting companion.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Cheney went dark with his schedule. His office would often only say he was in a secure, undisclosed location. This evolved into Cheney's staff rarely issuing notice of his travels, while almost every move President Bush makes is revealed to the public.

More heated exchanges Tuesday between reporters and White House press secretary Scott McClellan at the daily briefing.

Valentine's Day special....
Just ran into Jean Hastert, the wife of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in the hallway outside the speakers' Capitol office suite. She just dropped in on her husband.

Vice President Hunting: The latest


Vice President Cheney's shooting incident revealed he lacked the proper permission for his hunt. The White House issued a release Monday night stating Cheney did not have a $ 7 ``stamp for hunting upland game birds. ''

Monday's contentious press briefing with White House press secretary Scott McClellan

White Sox Park: How the fix was in


Almost 18 years after the deed was done, someone fessed up to Monday to what was long suspected: that the fix was in for the White Sox to get the state of Illinois to underwrite a new stadium for the team.

What better place to clinch the story than in the White House, just after President Bush finishing honoring the White Sox, the 2005 World Series champions.

(Photo special to the Sun-Times by Randi Belisomo)
  PHOTO GALLERY: White Sox at the White House »

Marched in with a military honor guard, members of the 2005 White Sox world series team and the organizations's management were toasted by President Bush on Monday.

Said Bush, `` my question to most of these folks was, like, were you White Sox fans at the beginning of the season? ''

In the audience: White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Harold Baines, Mayor Daley, Eddie Einhorn, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.).
Bush on Daley:
``I know one person -- elected official who was a White Sox fan at the beginning of the season. As a matter of fact, he was a White Sox fan at the beginning of his life. He's been forever a White Sox fan. He is a great Mayor of a great city, and that's the Mayor, His Honor Dick Daley.''
Here's everything the president said:

Monday: Soxfest at the White House

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After an Oval Office meeting with the UN Secretary-General, President Bush honors the Chicago White Sox, the 2005 World Series champs at 2:35 p.m. (eastern) Monday. The White House bills this event as a photo op with remarks. Mayor Daley flew in Monday on White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorfs' plane for the daytrip.

Monday morning update: Jerry Reinsdorf is a political switch hitter. His campaign contributions listed below.
Early Monday afternoon update: With all respect to the White Sox, the big interest today is finding out from the White House why it took so long for the White House to put out the news that the Vice President accidently shot a fellow hunter. White House press secretary Scott McClellan is being peppered with questions at his daily briefing. I'll post the briefing later--as well as a report on the White Sox ceremony.


Secretary John W. Snow

Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations
The Swissotel Chicago
Grand Ballroom
323 E. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL
5:30 p.m. CST

Call the journalism police. It’s a quote heist.
Familiar with the phrase, ``imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?’’
A story in Friday’s Washington Times about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)—written in the wake of his flap this week with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)--lifts quotes I dug up in my own interviews for my story on the freshman senator. (Note Saturday entry update)

Just in time for Presidents Day, President Bush names a member of a well-connected Illinois GOP family, Julianna M. Cellini, to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

Obama today: weapons proliferation

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Obama's high profile assignment on ethics and lobbying reform (and the sideshow this week with McCain)generated some e-mail asking about what other legislation he is working on. A central interest of Obama's is eliminating the threat of conventional and nuclear weapons. Today, Obama attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on this very subject chaired by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). Read on for more.........

Obama Quip: ``Emmy Next''

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This from Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Thursday morning. It is a quip that wraps together two stories he's a

part of:

1. winning a Grammy last night in the spoken word category for his memoir

2. his messy high profile tangle over ethics and lobby legislation with Sen. John McCain (R-Az.).

With the setup, here is the line

Sweet asks Obama for his reaction to winning the grammy.

(On Wednesday he predicted Sean Penn would beat him)

``I am going for an Emmy next. The best actor in a drama involving John McCain.''

McCain, Obama now 'pen pals'


I just came back from Capitol Hill, where the dueling senators, Democrat Barack Obama from Illinois and Republican John McCain called a truce.

They playfully said they were "pen pals." Obama said the catchy phrase first and McCain picked up on it.

Obama predicts: No Grammy

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After the senators testified, Obama hung around outside the hearing room to take some questions about the McCain-Obama matchup.

At the end of the media huddle, I asked Obama for his prediction on if he will win the Grammy tonight. Obama is nominated in the "best album spoken word" category for his recording of his memoir, "Dreams from My Father, A story of Race and Inheritance."

Here's tomorrow's news today


By now you know that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) have tangled big time.

McCain accused Obama of "self-interested partsian posturing", questioning in a Monday letter if Obama was sincerely seeking bipartisan détente on a lobbying and ethics reform bill.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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