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Bush: On Rice, Rumsfeld and Iraq


The regular Saturday morning radio address

In anticipation of Monday immigration marchs occuring as the Senate struggles with forging a compromise....

Today at 8:30 AM (Chicago time) Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin and Senator Edward Kennedy will join American Roman Catholic Cardinals at a press availability to discuss the need for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform and to ensure that 12 million immigrants are not turned into criminals.

Did I mention yet I saw George Clooney yesterday? He is swell-looking. Nice build.

UPDATE.. Have questions about the U.S. efforts to aid Sudan? Check out to chat Friday at 1:30 p.m. Chicago time with Ambassador Jendayi Frazer the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs ..... for in Friday's paper my column about Clooney et al...

EARLIER... A march to highlight the genocidal murders in Darfur is being held Sunday on the National Mall in Washington and in Chicago's Loop at 219 N. Dearborn on Monday.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, co-stars in a press conference in Washington on Thursday with actor George Clooney who last week visited the region.

Obama will speak at the rally on the mall.

Saturday night is when Washington meets Hollywood at the big White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

Your blogger, cleaned up and groomed proper will be there, in the line of duty.

The list, just a click away, is full of bold-face names............

from the caustic poetic pen of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL)., on GOP denuding ethics and lobbying legislation. Emanuel is the chief of the House Democratic political operation.

UPDATE: The House GOP political organization responds in pentameter.

"Mr. Speaker, investigators have recently uncovered a letter from the Republican Leadership to special interest lobbyists -- I'd like to share it with you today.

Dear K Street Lobbyists,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

So just what newschannel is on in the White House.....

from the DCCC

DCCC Unveils Candidates in Competitive Red to Blue Fundraising Program

Red to Blue is an Exclusive Program That Rewards Candidates for Meeting Fundraising Goals and Getting Their Message Across to the Voters They Hope to Represent

Bush: to Louisiana, Mississippi

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Bush sked for today, plus ....get the White House perspective on news to use, from the White House MSM clip file.

UPDATE from when I filed today's column (click below).

Late last night, the GOP House leadership rebuffed attempts to but some meat on the ethics and lobby bill bone. I'll post more on this later.

President Bush just wrapped up the announcement naming Tony Snow the new White House press secretary. He replaces Scott McClellan. It was time for McClellan to go.

Snow very briefly took the podium. He looked good.
``Believe it or not I want to work with you,'' Snow said.

I've met Snow a few times. He is much sunnier than McClellan and will probably be a much better communicator, even if all he does is find more pleasant ways to say nothing.

Click and find taut from Senate Democrats responding to Snow's appointment...

Lots of ground covered today...

Departing White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan talks about his replacement, Fox's Tony Snow, Karl Rove's stop at the Grand Jury today and his reduced--but still influential--portfolio at the White House.

Tomorrow, President Bush is heading to the Gulf Coast.

Watergate Deep Throat Mark Felt, suffering from a type of dementia, nonethess is on a book tour.

It's sort of a strange interview, but for the sake of Watergate buffs, here it is.

The problem: Gas pump sticker shock. Brewing as big political issue. Democrats all over it. ``We have two oil men in the White House,'' said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif.)

Many officials weighing in today with plans to curb soaring gas prices...

From the White House...

The President intends to nominate Steven C. Preston, of Illinois, to be
Administrator of the Small Business Administration. Mr. Preston
currently serves as Executive Vice President of Strategic Services at
The ServiceMaster Company.

At 2:24 Chicago time.....
among those meeting with President Bush....Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and...Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee(D-TX), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security
and Claims of the House Judiciary Committee along with Congressman Danny K.
Davis (D-IL) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
press for an immigration bill.

Today's story deals with a cosy relationship between Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who sits on the House telecommunications committee, the Engelwood economic development center he founded and a $1 million grant to the center from the SBC Foundation.

The grant was to build the Bobby L. Rush technology center.

For the past few summers, Big Oil has survived repeated gas gouging accusations from lawmakers concerned about price spikes at the pump.

With the summer driving season approaching and prices climbing to all-time highs, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) are calling for White House and Congressional probes.

My question: Is all that driving really necessary?

President Bush delivers a speech on immigration today, designed to spur the Senate into taking up immigration legislation that derailed just before they left for Spring break. A bi-partisan deal broke down and even with Bush's speech--may be hard to put together again.

The president then flies to Las Vegas for a fundraiser for a congressional candidate.

Hizzoner's birthday, today......

FYI.....I participated in the very first Earth Day, when I was a college freshman......

Select a transcript according to date. Some days may have more than one transcript.

Click the item above to read the complete Pallmeyer file, the transcripts unsealed Friday revealing the secret debate over the jurors in the trial of former Gov. George Ryan.

Denmark's Prime Minister Rasmussen coming to Camp David June 9th.

# # #

Congress returns to work next week. Spring Break is over.

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) asking to be allowed a much broader debate on pending ethics and lobbying reform than the House leaders, all Republicans, have planned.

Background: The House is poised to take up ethics legislation. Before the break, the GOP controlled House blocked a series of amendments mainly from Democrats that would have strengthened the proposed ethics and loobying measures.

A briefing, pegged to Chinese President Hu's visit to the White House.

The mayor, out to lunch...

Sweet Column: Save Darfur.


Today's column....

Artful spinning on explanation of Karl Rove's new job...

Another shoe drops....More White House shakeups... So long, Scott McClellan

This morning, President Bush heads to the Rose Garden to make a statement on the Global War on Terror scheduled for 8:05 a.m. Chicago time.

Bush continues a coordinated White House blitz to bolster his case for the Iraq war. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivers a speech on the Iraq war before The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, 12:15 p.m. Chicago time at Hilton Chicago.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is scheduled to react to Rice's speech at 2 p.m.

President Bush today gave another vote of confidence to Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld

He actually used the Brownie line....he said Rummy ``is doing a fine job.''

Bush's Saturday Night Livesque decider line below....will be a keeper....

`` I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense.''

The jury delivered a long-awaited verdict in the trial of former Gov. George Ryan.
What is your opinion of the decision?

TUESDAY UPDATE: Interesting string below. No sympathy for Ryan.

Sen. Barack Obama: "Had enough''


In a fundraising letter for the Senate Democratic political operation issued today, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) rallies against nameless ``so-called leaders.''

Many direct mail solicitations confront by name political rivals. But you don't see the word Republican or President Bush in this Obama letter. It's a strategic decision, since obviously, when you read the note below, it's the GOP controlled House, Senate and White House Obama is talking about.

The ``Today'' Show on NBC did a segment with political strategists--Republican Ed Rollins and Democrat Bob Schrum -on how to revive the Bush White House. They agreed: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld needs to go.

Today, President Bush talks about federal R & D to help the U.S. compete globally. Names US Trade Rep Rob Portman new OMB director to replace new COS Josh Bolten

As I write this, it looks like it may be raining on the White House Easter Egg and lesbian parents have said they will make a point of attending and being a part of this tradition...

Meanwhile, deadline tonight for federal income taxes or extensions....and President Bush talks taxes in Virginia.

The White House has been more aggresive in ``pushback'' on the former generals who have been critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld....other retired generals who see how things are going in Iraq more positively are filling op ed pages....

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) wrapped up a visit to India and Viet Nam, where he visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City.

Still hunting for Easter menu's what First Lady Laura Bush is serving...

Should Rumsfeld Resign?


A growing chorus of retired generals are saying it is time for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down.

What do you think?

Today's column, plus...
Another tax filing deadline day news hook press conference: GOP congressional nominee state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) talks tax policy on Monday.

Roskam is running against Dem candidate Tammy Duckworth whose press secretary, Billy Weinberg went after Roskam in a Friday statement (see below) for not doing more on issues.

SATURDAY BLOG UPDATE: When I wrote the column below on Friday, I overlooked the Thursday announcement from the Roskam campaign that on Monday, Roskam will hold a press conference ``outlining his vision on the issue of taxes'' in Arlington Heights.

President and Mrs. George W. Bush reported taxable income of $618,694 for the tax year 2005. This resulted in a total of $187,768 in federal income taxes paid by President and Mrs. Bush.

UPDATE The Cheneys' return is so complicated that the White House is referring questions to the tax lawyers. Details below.

Monday is the deadline for filing income tax returns or extensions.

With that news peg in mind, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) throw a press conference on Monday morning to promote legislation they authored to curb the ability of the IRS to sell personal information gleaned from tax returns to marketers.

Bean is in one of the most highly contested House races in the country, running against GOP investment banker David McSweeney.

Dear Friends of the Sweet Blog:

Friday updates from the federal first quarter fund-raising numbers are just being made public.

I'll try to keep a running blog log of the information for the biggest races as the numbers come out. I'll pay closest attention to the big Illinois contests as well the big money national campaigns, for example, potential 2008 White House contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) who is raising millions for her 2006 re-election bid.

6th Congressional District
Democrat Tammy Duckworth (numbers approximate from press release, not filing)
Raised this cycle to date: $1.038 million (since only Dec. 16)
Raised 1st quarter: $917,000
Cash-on-hand: $331,000

Republican Peter Roskam
to come.

8th Congressional District

Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.)
Raised this cycle to date: $2.27 million
Raised 1st quarter: $536,000
Cash-on-hand: $1.75 million

David McSweeney

Loaned own money to campaign : $1,901,500
Raised 1st quarter: $619,201
Cash-on-hand: $146,953

The White House quotes Matthew in the Easter greeting issued today by President Bush.

In order to keep pressure on Congress to pass an immigration bill dealing with national security as well as the plight of illegal immigrants in the U.S., Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) will launch an ``aggresive'' citizenship drive.

Last week, I did a Luis vs Lou column and blog post....about how Gutierrez' appearence with CNN's Lou Dobbs a week ago might have triggered fireworks--but did not.

Dobbs very kindly noted the Sun-Times coverage on his show Wednesday. He opined that the reporter--hey that's me!-- was ``obviously devastated'' that the two had ``not gone down to the level fisticuffs'' over the issue of illegal immigration.

Several retired generals have called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Today, the Washington Post reported on its front page the retired commander of key forces in Iraq said Rumsfeld to step down.

That story prompted a series of questions to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan about Rumsfelds' status at today's briefing. McClellan gave Rumsfeld a vote of confidence and bid a fond farewell to Chief of Staff Andy Card, who is wrapping up his long tenure to tend to occupational burn-out.

(McClellan did not say, "Rummy, you're doing a great job," which would have signaled the defense secretary was out the door.)

Today's column.....

Last month, the Senate rebuffed an amendment for pending ethics legislation asking freeloading lawmakers to pay the whole cost of taking flights on corporate jets.

Now the House is poised to act on ethics and lobbying measures when members get back from a two-week spring break to do some work between vacations. The pending GOP-drafted House proposal for dealing with corporate subsidized flights is no reform.



The White House today is moving two ``messages'' they hope mainstream media will focus on....blaming Democrats for the immigration impasse.... and continuing to press seniors to sign up for the new Medicare Part D drug benefit before the May 15 deadline.

And the president sends his Passover greetings..

In papers filed in federal court, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald outlines alleged political hiring schemes at Mayor Daley's City Hall.

Read the uncut, complete juicy details of the case against Daley's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, now facing federal fraud charges.

Vice President Cheney steps out on the mound today at RFK stadium to launch the Nationals on their second season.

UPDATE: Cheney got the pitch to the plate in one hop.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said Washington is in ``denial'' over immigration in the Bloomberg interview (earlier post).

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is pushing economic messages this week.

Today, she talked with Bloomberg's Al Hunt.

Tomorrow, Clinton is in Chicago for an address to The Economic Club of Chicago. (see my column about Clinton's Chicago trip below)

``Health care costs are skyrocketing. Businesses are understandably feeling pressed by health care. They're trying to figure out how they're going to deal with it.''

Before I get too deep this week into the serious issues this blog covers, this musical note from your Chicago-centric blogger.

I went to hear singer-songwriter Susan Werner at the Barns of Wolf Trap on Saturday, a musical venue sort of like Ravinia in the Virginia side of the Washington D.C. suburbs.

Werner, whose repertoire ranges from Cole Porter to contemporary folk, is a North Sider and a Cubs fan.

Running for president in 2008? Or not.
Sen. HIllary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is putting the pieces in place to win a second term in November--and move on to a White House bid in 2008.

And blogger Sweet is part of the panel...

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak launches the Chicago Sun-Times/University of Illinois at Chicago Lecture Forum at an April 19 panel ``Inside Washington: Where Red States and Blue States Collide.''

In a punny mood tonight and just saw the veeps' sked for Monday.

Vice President Cheney hits Texas and Missouri to speak at funders for GOP congressional candidates.

A big immigration march is planned for Monday in Washington.

On Sunday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a guest on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' was asked about demonstrators who have been waving flags from Mexico and other countries at pro-immigrations ralles.

REP. GUTIERREZ: ``Here's what I say. I come from Chicago. St. Patrick's Day, there's lots of Irish flags, but we color our river green. We celebrate the diversity. In terms of this debate and this discussion, what I have done,
I have gone on the radio, I have gone on TV and I have said, "Check the Mexican, Polish, Irish flags at the coat check. Make sure that you do not give up your essential message, which is that you're proud to be here in this country and that you embrace that flag."

This pushback statement from the Reid camp was sent out after President Bush personally blamed Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nv.) for the failure of the Senate to pass a comprehensive immigration bill.


Hey...don't the Senate Republicans control the Senate?

This morning, President Bush talking about stalled immigration legislation in the Senate, takes aim (not by name) at Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nv.) the Senate Democratic leader.

After hopeful prospects on Thursday (see previous posts) Senate movement on an immigration bill rolled to a stop Friday. Senators left for Spring Break anyway.

Bush places singular blame on Reid. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn.) could not figure out a way to salvage the messy situation.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan argues that when it come to divulging classified information, you can't call the president a leaker.

``The President of the United States has the authority to declassify information,'' McClellan said.

At Issue: Uproar over disclosure that Vice President Cheney's f ormer chief of staff testified that President Bush ok'd making public what had been secret information about Iraq in order to hype the case for going to war.

This page just in from the White House.
The president will make a statement about the economy when he returns to the White House from the National Catholic prayer breakfast.

UPDATE: White House just paged. The statement will be 8:30 a.m. Chicago time. (It's 8:13 a.m. Chicago time as I write this)

It's part of a coordinated message of the day blitz scripted by the White House to make the economy dominate the news.

The members of the Bush administration fan out across the country today to talk about the economy.

On Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) travels to Chicago to deliver a major speech on the economy at the Economic Club of Chicago. I checked with her office yesterday and was told the speech is still a work-in-progress.

SECRETARY OF ENERGY Samuel W. Bodman delivers remarks on the economy to Fermilab employees and contractors. 11:00 AM (CST) Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory | Batavia, IL

``We hoped that after all of the jubilation over a bi-partisan agreement, that we could move towards a process that led to passage of the bill.’’

---Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) after a 14-hour marathon day of negotiating on the immigration bill, near 10 p.m. eastern time, briefing reporters in the Senate Press Gallery.

In the morning, Durbin and a bi-partisan coalition announced a deal. In the evening, problems: a meltdown over process.

It was Luis vs. Lou on Thursday night.

CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, leading a strident crusade against illegal immigration, dangled bait in front of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) but he did not bite.

A short time ago I spotted Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) near an elevator off the House floor. She was wearing her members' pin.

background: - In a story offering fodder for the cable newsers, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) ended up apologizing Thursday after getting in a scuffle with a police officer who she hit after he stopped her at a Capitol entrance--she was not wearing her member's pin.

A grand jury is investigating.

Chicago-based U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is resisting turning over all the documents being sought by former V.P. Cheney chief of staff by I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, indicted last October on federal perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to feds charges.

key paragraph:

Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose
certain information in the NIE. Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with
reporter Miller – getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material
that would be classified but for that approval – were unique in his recollection.

A group of at least five GOP senators this morning are trying to block an impending bi-partisan immigration compromise, while the White House keeps up pressure for a deal.

All of these negotiations and posturings are useless if in the end the House refuses to budge from the bill it passed on Dec. 16 the Senate wants nothing to do with,

Statement from President Bush, plus gaggle from Scott McClellen..

President Bush honors a string of champs today...

MORNING: A bipartisan group of Senators on Thursday morning revived stalled immigration legislation with several key compromises in guest workers provisions and controversial other matters.
``I think that we are close, very close to a bipartisan agreement,’’ said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), spending the morning in closed door negotiations first in a meeting just with Democrats and then another with Republicans.

EVENING: Meltdown.

Studs Terkel in town today.

House committees working on ethics and lobbying reform packages are expected to finishing writing legislation this week.

from the White House.

The President and First Lady will view a film called "Voyage to Kure",
a documentary by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau, about
the Pacific Northwest Hawaiian Islands, one of our nation's greatest and
largely unknown national treasures.

Tom DeLay said Tuesday he is quitting Congress because he does not want Republicans to lose House seats in November because of him.

But it may be too late for DeLay, the Texas Republican who is leaving with ethical clouds swirling around him, to take himself out of play as a factor.

Interesting DeLay interview with NPR...excerpts below...

The House is poised this week to take up ethics and lobbying reform. The Senate passed a diluted ethics and lobbying package and the House is not interested in doing much more than the Senate.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the chief of the Democratic Congressional Committee, the House Democratic political operation, has been using Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) as a rallying point to underscore the Democratic theme of the GOP ``culture of corruption.''

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the ``culture of corruption'' continues despite DeLay's upcoming departure.

Tying the pending House ethics votes and DeLay's resignation, Emanuel said “Tom DeLay may be gone, but the delay in real reform continues.''

House members return to work today.
Leaders, including House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have press time planned--on other topics. Hastert is scheduled to talk to reporters later today, and I will attend.
But no matter the set topic-- the fallout from the resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) will be the big story from the Hill today.

Here's DeLay's own statement, followed by a statement put out this morning by Hastert.

Time Magazine's Mike Allen has a great scoop: Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), in an extended interview with Time reveals that on Tuesday he will announce that he will not run for re-election and towards the end of May he will quit Congress.

DeLay, under an ethical cloud--facing Texas charges of campaign money laundering while close associates have been caught up in the Abramoff lobbying scandal-- said he will continue to campaign for GOP candidates and causes. This will dominate the political news on Tuesday.

Read Allen's entire interview with DeLay on Time's web site. An excerpt follows.

Dems seized on DeLay's stepping down and today will keep up the drumbeat.
"Tom DeLay's announcement is just the beginning of the reckoning of the Republican culture of corruption that has gripped Washington for too long,'' said the Democratic National Committee in a statement.

MORNING UPDATE: Statement just in from GOP House political chief Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.). Reynolds: DeLay strong conservative voice will be missed on the campaign trail.

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a statement said DeLay ``served our nation with integrity.''

CNN has been running a story all day...without attribution... that White House spokesman Scott McClellan might be reassigned....thus the questions at today's briefing...

Play Ball!
President Bush in Cincinnati for Reds opener, where they play the Cubs.

The president's schedule (below) has him visiting the team clubhouses at 12:10 p.m. Chicago time.

He'll throw the first pitch at about 1:04 p.m. Chicago time.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today on President Bush energy policy: ``This is not a serious effort. Saying that America is addicted to oil without following a real plan for energy independence is like admitting alcoholism and then skipping out on the 12-step program. It’s not enough to identify the challenge – we have to meet it.''

To close the loop....Democrat Christine Cegelisendorses 6th CD House Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth.

Durbin: ``But the guest worker program that we're promoting is one that puts a cap on the number who can come in under this legal program. Secondly, the people who hire them have to establish that there are no Americans who would fill this job. And, finally, they have to be paid a prevailing wage. So it isn't as if we're creating a working underclass. What we're trying to do is to meet some real employment needs in this country. ''

Obama: ``The third component is this guest worker program. And I think that that within the Democratic caucus probably generates the most controversy. The numbers that are allowed under the program are about 400,000. That number may be too high. I think it's important, and I'm preparing amendments to make sure that if we have a guest worker program, that it is targeted at those industries like agriculture where it really is difficult to find American workers.''

In some cases and in some particular cities there may be worker

shortages where this is justified. In others there may not be.

From my Sunday column....

For a divided Republican Party, immigration is an issue that could cost them control of the House. This intraparty fight, pitting Bush and business conservatives against isolationist conservatives, could mean that in the end, Congress will not act on an immigration bill this year.

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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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