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May 2006 Archives

A lot of ')8 buzz on the blog today....Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) makes her second term bid offiical today......After November.....on to '08... as chatter increases about whether freshman Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) should run before his Senate record gets too long to defend.

(Obama item follows)

The House is off this week, so any ceremony marking House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert milestone as the longest serving GOP House Speaker in the nation's history will be scheduled for when the members are in Washington.

Hastert in Illinois today.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in rare unity with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez they are developing guidelines on how the Justice Department can obtain evidence from House members--without violating the separation of powers provisions in the Constitution.

The letter from his lawyer............

After months of speculation, Treasury Sec. John Snow's departure was announced today. Will Snow write a tell all?

Paulson bio at end of post

The presidential week ahead.........

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert was presiding over a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, welcoming new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Hastert sits next to Vice President Dick Cheney in the House chamber.

It's a seat Hastert has long filled. He has wielded the speaker's gavel since Jan. 6, 1999. On Monday, speaking in Chicago, President Bush made note of the record Hastert is poised to set:

Life in the Blogosphere fishbowl.
A few days ago I posted a blog item about the Bush-Blair press conference where I identified the British journalist, Toby Harnden, who got the leaders to talk about their mistakes.

Later I talked to Harnden, a friend, to chat about the press conference and...well you can read his take on my probing questions about British proper attire at

My Friday column led with how chatter is increasing about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) running for president in 2008. On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) talks about the possibility.

Chatter is increasing among supporters of Sen. Barack Obama about him jumping into the 2008 presidential race as he cranks up his political operation.

UPDATE 1 Democrat Obama’s Washington D.C.-based political action committee, Hopefund, reported raising $474,433 and spending $320,449 in April, leaving cash-on-hand at the end of April of $1,005,902.
California is Obama's HOPEFUND top donor state.

Hopefund, Inc.
Donor State Break-Out (source: PoliticalMoneyLine)
1. $508,938 CA
2. $445,450 IL
3. $258,353 NY
4. $186,451 MA
5. $185,306 TX

Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and three other senators breakfasted Friday morning with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the British Embassy in Washington. Also attending was British Prime Minister David Manning.

UPDATE 3 (Inserted in item)

In the far south suburban 11th district, former CIA officer John Pavich is the Democratic nominee running against Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Illl.).

This message just sent to House staffers............

-----Original Message-----
From: US Capitol Police []
Sent: Friday, May 26, 2006 10:45 AM
To: All House Staff
Subject: An Emergency Exists for the Rayburn HOB - Shelter in Place
Importance: High

This is a message from the U.S. Capitol Police

1. If you are in the Rayburn HOB then Shelter in Place. Quickly move
into the nearest interior office space or interior hallway and away from

windows. The Capitol Police are investigating reports of gunfire in the
Rayburn HOB.
2. If nearby, grab Go-Kits and personal belongings.
3. Close doors behind you, but do not lock.
4. Remain calm.
5. Await further instructions. Do not leave the building.

Please do not respond to this e-mail. This mailbox is unattended. End of

Sent on: 05/26/2006 10:44:26

click for UPDATE

Pop quiz: Name a state where the senators split on the immigration vote.

For the answer, click to

No more wanted ``dead or alive'' talk.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair last night held a joint press conference at the White House where Bush said he made a mistake to use cowboy language in the runup to the war in Iraq.

Here's the setup to how this admission came out:

Bush's comment, ``But not everything since liberation has turned out as the way we had expected or hoped. We've learned from our mistakes, adjusted our methods, and have built on our successes '' prompted this question from British reporter Toby Harnden, Washington Bureau Chief, The Sunday Telegraph.

Q Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?

click for the answer.......

A federal jury in Houston convicted two top former Enron executives on Thursday. With that peg, a Democratic operative pointed me to a calendar in evidence in the case that noted a Sept. 26, 2001, meeting Dave McSweeney, the 8th District GOP House candidate, then working for the Bank of America, had with former Enron CFO Andy Fastow, along with McSweeney's Bank of America colleague Jim Mercurio.

President Bush may contain the anger of House Speaker of J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) over a weekend raid of the Capitol Hill office of a lawmaker suspected of corrruption (the one the FBI discovered stashed $90,000 in his freezer) by calling for a 45-day hold of the seized materials.

This just in from the White House......

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) today accused the Justice Department of trying to ``intimidate’’ him in the wake of his complaints over an FBI raid of a lawmakers’ office who is the target of a corruption probe.

I've been told that Hastert confronted President Bush with his concerns over the FBI raid while they both were in Chicago on Monday.

I do the interview with ``848'' host Steve Edwards.

The Senate gets to work this morning on the bi-partisan immigration bill with provisions dealing with border security, a fence, guest worker programs and a path to legal status for illiegal immigrants.

The two leaders, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, hold a press conference at 6:30 p.m. Chicago time.

Hastert deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke Wednesday night said in an interview with the Sun-Times that the story was leaked to ABC News in retaliation for Hastert’s outspoken criticism of a Justice raid of the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).

This just in from House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Another official visit on the schedule....

After meeting with President Bush on Tuesday, new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert gets a standing ovation after addressing a joint session of Congress.

``Terrorism is war, a war that must be won everday,'' Olmert said.


Tuesday, The East Room

The Iraq war, more than local issues such as O'Hare Airport expansion or hot button social matters such as abortion, may determine whether Democrat Tammy Duckworth or Republican Peter Roskam wins their high profile House battle.

President Bush, in Chicago Monday for the National Restaurant Association show, was asked about former Vice President Al Gore new film (he's screening it at Cannes) during a Q and A after his speech.

Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.)--FBI agents found $90,000 in his freezer-- is the subject of a long-running corruption probe. Jeffersons' severe ethics problems make it harder for Democrats to accuse GOP lawmakers of a ``culture of corruption'' in the wake of the scandals surrounding convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Over the weekend, FBI agents raided Jeffersons' Capitol Hill office. On Monday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) slapped the FBI--not to defend Jefferson, but to protest ``overreaching and abuse of power by the Executive Branch.''

Just added to the schedule, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said British Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit Washington later this week.

New Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won't get Bush's blessings for his plan to draw a border between Israel and parts of the West Bank. Snow called it a ``getting-to-know-you meeting.''

President Bush, in a Chicago speech today, will underscore the need for Congress to send him a broad package of immigration reforms, as well as discuss the Iraq war and the new Iraq government.

It's 8 a.m. on Saturday, and a giant ballroom in Washington's new convention center is packed, full of booksellers and publishers here for their annual big book expo.

A few things jumped out as I read a sample chapter from Sen. Barack Obama's new book, released Friday to hype it at the big booksellers convention taking place in Washington.

Sen. Barack Obama tomorrow previews his new book, ``The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream'' at the annual expo of the American Booksellers Association, this year meeting in Washington. The book will be published in October, but the hype machine is starting right now.

In a sample chapter (find it at) he writes of hs first days in the Senate and his campaign for the job.

``There was just one problem: my campaign had gone so well that it looked like a fluke.''

The Senate continues debate over a comprehensive immigration bill. Thursday, the Senate adopted an amendment to the pending immigration legislation to make English the national language. There are many, many steps ahead before this would ever become law, but the measure will trigger a national conversation about cultural pluralism.

Lots of politics...
UPDATE 9:02 A.M. Chicago time
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, at a morning briefing said President Bush will deliver remarks on the ``Global War on Terror'' Monday to the National Restaurant Association hospitality show at McCormick Place.

The White House is expected to announce today that President Bush, with the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, will travel to Chicago on Monday to deliver an address to try to bolster support for the Iraqi war.

The Senate approved a measure to make it easier for Polish citizens to visit the United States without visas, in recognition of Poland's role as an ally in sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow on President Bush's backing for a fence along a part of the Mexican border.....

President Bush makes a daytrip to Yuma, Ariz.

Fireworks? Confirmation hearing for Air Force General Michael Hayden to be CIA chief comes in the wake of more revelations about domestic spying....

The three CEOs of America's automotive companies, Tom LaSorda, DaimlerChrysler, Bill Ford, Ford and Rick Wagoner, General Motors, are hitting Capitol Hill today.

Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) should know by now how to properly put in the fix.

His father is ailing Cook County Board President John H. Stroger Jr., who has not been seen in public since suffering a stroke days before the March 21 Democratic primary, which he won.

As in don't know bupkus (also spelled bupkis) about what is going on...
A Yiddish word used by new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow today....

And Sir Paul McCartney is divorcing Heather Mills .... ``Love me Do'' ....Not...

Now, back to regular blogger Sweet programming...

Bush is sending chief political advisor Karl Rove to the Capitol today to try to arm wrestle hard line House Republicans on immigration. This is in anticipation of the Senate passing a bill dealing with border security, temporary workers and a path to citizenship for the millions of illegals in the U.S. The House and Senate must in the end agree on the exact same wording in order to send a bill to President Bush.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said this morning ``There are going to be ongoing meetings with Republicans and with Democrats.''

Meanwhile the Chief Executive Dude greeted athletes at the White House...

Blogger Sweet reviews the first televised briefing hosted by new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow . If I may borrow a thumb from colleague Roger Ebert, I'd rate briefing one a thumbs up.

The briefing room was packed. That's reporters in most of the 48 seats arranged like in a small theater plus people jammed in the aisles.

Snow, fresh from Fox News, is extremely telegenic. In a personal aside, Snow fights back tears talking about his colon cancer. He starts to choke after being asked about a yellow bracelet he is wearing. He stops talking to try to regain his composure. I wonder if he is about to cry.

A line from a movie is floating through my mind.
``There's no crying in baseball.'' (From ``A League of Their Own'')

There's no crying in the White House.


Why run for mayor when you can do this?
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) , Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force and Chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force tries to turn up the heat on the Senate and Bush today.

President Bush also huddles with Senators....
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard , in Washington today, visits the Chicago Mercantile Exhchange on Wednesday.....

President Bush delivers a speech tonight to prod Congress to pass an immigration plan that deals with national security as well as providing a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants in the country.

Bush is talking to the nation in his address--but his real target audience are the members of the House and Senate. The Senate is negotiating a bipartisan compromise that may stick--but the real hurdle is finding common ground with the House.

I was outside the West Wing on Friday morning, watching the Marine guards do that sort of swirl pivot off each other at the main door on the driveway that they do when they change shifts.....having just missed the first gaggle of new White House press secretary Tony Snow because he switched the times and made it earlier....and I got there a little later because I was at a breakfast briefing with Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-S.C.) who admitted the Republicans have a few challenges to keep control of the Senate in November (`` No question about it, the wind has been in our faces. The wind has been in our faces for over a year.")....when I realized.....Sunday is the finale of ``West Wing.''...

I spent years covering the Cook County Board and I now report on Congress.
To the naked eye, the House of Representatives seems obviously the better job.
But to Chicago pols--in this case Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) who is open to replacing the ailing Cook County Board President, John H. Stroger, Jr.--a demotion is a promotion.
By the way....if Davis is tapped for Cook County prez, then someone needs to replace him on the November ballot for his House slot...Who's that?

House Democratic hopeful Tammy Duckworth said she rejects earmarking federal dollars for projects, even if it means fewer projects for her west suburban congressional district.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Spector (R-Pa.) wants to haul AT&T, Verizon and Bell South up to Capitol Hill for hearings in the wake of the USA Today story about the NSA intercepting phone calls.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) talked about how grueling and stressful it is to run for president the other night at the National Archives.
She outlines what it takes to run for president. She may have been talking about herself.
Click below. Does Hillary have the right stuff?

Here's the inside story on how the White House made a big mistake in not consulting House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert on the CIA shakeups.

Can I help by running for Mayor of this great City?
That's the question Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) asked at his City Club speech on Monday.
Can he?
Click below for text of speech.

At least Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the step daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago), the boss of the state party, had to run in a primary.....

For more of the family trees, click below

If you are eligible for the Medicare Part D program covering prescription drugs....and you have not decided on a plan.....remember that after May 15, there is a financial penalty for late sign-ups....
President Bush is trying to push enrollment numbers up in Florida, land of seniors.

Today's public schedule for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)

It's health care week in the Senate.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number two Democrat in the Senate is leading a charge against a health insurance bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.)....debate today

Today in the House

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A look at the inner workings of the House from the office of House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.)

`` It is time for the Senate to put the needs of the American people ahead of the interests of trial lawyers'' --President Bush

Attention C-Span Junkies

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This from C-Span...
Viewers will see the new Congressional ID's starting today, when the House is gaveled in at 2 p.m. ET

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) on May 5, 2006....

`` Over my 15 years in public life, I felt a responsibility to speak honestly and openly about the challenges that I have with addiction and depression. I’ve been fighting this chronic disease since I was a young man and have aggressively and periodicly sought treatment so that I can live a full and productive life.

Maybe, maybe, some progress on the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan...

President Bush just nominated Gen. Michael Hayden to direct the Central Intelligence Agency.
Hayden, a deputy director of national intelligence, has more than 20 years of intel experience--human and electronic spying.
With Hayden, the CIA `has a strong leader who will support them,'' Bush said. Someone who will ``enforce secrecy and accountability'' crucial to the American people.
UPDATE 1 From the left of center People for the American Way...concerned about Hayden's connections to Bush's domestic spying program.....
UPDATE 2 From Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) below

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) will be quitting his 1st Ward Democratic Party job and today delivers a speech further positioning him for a mayoral run.

Last November, Gutierrez moved from Logan Square to Bucktown, his fifth move in 10 years.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Capitol Hill ....

Read also about how President Bush gives a tour of the Oval Office to a German reporter... and his best moment...``I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound large mouth bass on my lake.''

Q The German Chancellor and the new head of state, Olmert of Israel, they said the Iranian President is as dangerous as Adolf Hitler. Do you share their view?

THE PRESIDENT:...... And when Ahmadinejad speaks, we need to take it seriously, and when he says he wants to destroy Israel, the world needs to take that very seriously. It's a serious threat. It's a threat to an ally of the United States and Germany. But what he's also saying is, if he's willing to destroy one country, he'd be willing to destroy other countries.

'The Kennedys have very strong genes, some good, some bad," Christopher Kennedy, a first cousin of Rep. Patrick Kennedy, told me Friday.

Patrick Kennedy, a Democratic House member from Rhode Island and a member of America's most storied family, was supposed to be in Chicago on Friday, not flying to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to check himself in to rehab.

``I simply do not remember getting out of bed,'' Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said Friday, speaking tearfully before flying off to Mayo for another round of rehab.
He read a statement and took no questions after a short session in the House radio-tv gallery.
Kennedy was to be in Chicago Friday--instead he will be in Minnesota, wrestling with his personal demons.
First cousin Chris Kennedy, president of the company operating the Merchandise Mart told me, ``there is a genetic element to all this. but his good genes are stronger than his bad genes and he will rebound.''

Click for statement from his father, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)

Departing White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's last words at his final briefing this afternoon.

After about two years on the job....CIA director Porter Goss is out...

Blogger Sweet's Future File:
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) travels to Evanston for a forum with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) on Iraq at 2:45 p.m. Sunday at Northwestern University's Norris Center.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) travels to Nebraska Saturday to headline fundraisers.
Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Ill.) hosts first female president of an African nation in Chicago next Tuesday.

Kimberly Vertolli-Kirk -- the wife of GOP Rep. Mark Steven Kirk has decided to move back to Washington from Highland Park.

President Bush on prayer....

``Prayer is a gift from Almighty God that transforms us, whether we bow our heads in solitude, or offer swift and silent prayers in times of trial. Prayer humbles us by reminding us of our place in creation. Prayer strengthens us by reminding us that God loves and cares for each and every soul in His creation. And prayer blesses us by reminding us that there is a divine plan that stands above all human plans.''

Antique car buff House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said he is going to buy a flex-fuel car.

Blogger Sweet's sports department...

Finally, Major League Baseball picked new owners for the Washington Nationals, sellng the franchise to a group that includes George Munoz, former Chicago public school board president.

On a party line vote, the House Wednesday approved a lobby bill in response to various ethical scandals, no better than a previously passed Senate version.
The GOP leaders declined to include some tough provisions that would have made the bill worthy of being called a reform measure.
The legislation passed on a party line vote. Republicans were ayes, Democrats, nays
The theory of the no voters was that no bill was better than a bad bill.

Vice President Cheney in Lithuania....

today's column...

There's no excuse.

A bill dealing with the ongoing genocide in Darfur is languishing in Congress. It's a sorry example of how hard it is to get something done in Washington even when every major player is on the same page.

First Lady Laura Bush, a librarian, is in New Orleans today to help rebuild school libraries. She was booked on the morning shows today ...
Bush tells Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson (in separate interviews) she thought the line about her being ``hot'' and muy caliente at Saturday's White House Correspondents Dinner was very funny. And no, Couric and Gibson did not ask about Stephen Colbert.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan comments on a story by Sun-Times crime reporter Frank Main about Chicago gang graffiti showing up in Iraq.

Notes from the glamorous Saturday night White House Correspondents Dinner, where Hollywood meets Washington.

Find out where Condi Rice got her hair done before the dinner....

Will the Senate get back on track on immigration?

A string of items.....Extension of the Voting Rights Act to be announced Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and more....

For the boycott today? Or not? It's a developing wedge issue...

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is going after Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after the California legislature with Democratic votes backed today's walkout by illegal immigrants.

D.C. rally condemns Darfur genocide....and a Darfur rally in Chicago at the Federal Plaza.....for details, go to end of post.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, there are, have been and will be genocidal murders occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. On Sunday, thousands gathered on the National Mall to try to do something about the horrors.

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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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This page is an archive of entries from May 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2006 is the previous archive.

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