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Return of the 9/11 President

"The judge said she will allow Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to gather a 'very limited' amount of information from the White House Office of Administration, which is in charge of preserving e-mail.

"The issue for Kollar-Kotelly is whether the Office of Administration operates with substantial independent authority. If the judge finds that it does, the private group can pursue data about what went wrong with the White House e-mail system.

"If the judge decides that the office's functions are limited to serving the president, she likely will dismiss the suit. . . .

"The Office of Administration, along with the Office of Management and Budget and other White House units with substantial independent authority, regularly provided records under the Freedom of Information Act in the past."

Budget Watch

Richard Wolf writes in USA Today: "First lady Laura Bush read Goodnight Moon by video hookup at last year's awards gala for Reading Is Fundamental, a $25 million federal program that distributes books to low-income children. Five months later, President Bush wants to say good night to the program.

"The Bush administration lays out its case today against 151 federal programs it proposes to eliminate or reduce, including Reading Is Fundamental, even though Bush's success rate in Congress has declined steadily since the 2006 fiscal year."

Michael Abramowitz and Robin Wright write in The Washington Post: "President Bush drew great applause during his State of the Union address last month when he called on Congress to allow U.S. troops to transfer their unused education benefits to family members. 'Our military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them,' he said.

"A week later, however, when Bush submitted his $3.1 trillion federal budget to Congress, he included no funding for such an initiative, which government analysts calculate could cost $1 billion to $2 billion annually."

Robert Pear writes in the New York Times: "President Bush often denounces the propensity of Congress to earmark money for pet projects. But in his new budget, Mr. Bush has requested money for thousands of similar projects. . . .

"Thus, for example, the president requested $330 million to deal with plant pests like the emerald ash borer, the light brown apple moth and the sirex woodwasp. . . .

"At the same time, Mr. Bush requested $894,000 for an air traffic control tower in Kalamazoo, Mich.; $12 million for a parachute repair shop at the American air base in Aviano, Italy; and $6.5 million for research in Wyoming on the 'fundamental properties of asphalt.' . . .

"The White House contends that when the president requests money for a project, it has gone through a rigorous review -- by the agency, the White House or both -- using objective criteria."

Recession Watch

Neil Irwin writes in The Washington Post: "The economy may grow slowly the first half of this year, the Bush administration said yesterday, but it is not in recession.

"The economic stimulus bill that President Bush plans to sign this week, combined with interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, will result in stronger growth in the second half of the year, according to the annual Economic Report of the President.

"'I don't think that we are in a recession right now, and we are not forecasting a recession,' said Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, in a briefing with reporters. 'We are forecasting slower growth.'"

But Edmund L. Andrews writes in the New York Times that "a growing number of analysts contend that the United States has already slipped into a recession and will get only a temporary lift from the stimulus package this summer."

Jeannine Aversa writes for the Associated Press: "The heck with Congress' big stimulus bill. The way to get the country out of recession -- and most people think we're in one -- is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

"Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery."

More From the Fox Interview

Peter Baker writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush waded directly into the presidential campaign in an interview broadcast yesterday, defending Sen. John McCain as a 'true conservative' but warning that his onetime rival needs to shore up relations with the Republican Party's base to take the fight into the general election this fall."

As for W's relationship with George Herbert Walker Bush?

Wallace: "I wonder what you make of all the talk and you've read it, you've heard it, that you're either trying to pass your father or you're trying to copy him, that you went into Iraq to finish the job because he didn't or that you organized your first term to try to win the reelection, he didn't.

"What do you -- set the record straight on that."

Bush: "It's shallow. Shallow psychobabble. You asked me what I think. It's -- "

Wallace: "Well -- "

Bush: "A bunch of people obviously got too much time on their hands."

Karl Rove Watch

Arielle Levin Becker writes in the Hartford Courant: "'I appreciate that I'm a myth,' Karl Rove told the 850 or so Choate Rosemary Hall students, administrators and faculty members who packed an auditorium on the prep school's Wallingford campus Monday. . . .

"Rove had been a prominent figure in campus debate since plans for him to speak at Choate's June graduation became public. Some students, who deemed him too controversial or unethical to grace their commencement, plotted protests. Late last month, Rove opted to speak to students in a special program Monday rather than at graduation. . . .

"The event was closed to the public and most media outlets, but the school granted The Courant's request to attend."

Becker describes Rove's predictably contentious responses to the students who dared challenge him.

"The final question came from Alessio Manti, a senior who had been outspoken in his opposition to Rove's planned graduation visit. Manti asked if Rove considered himself a role model.

"'Frankly, with all due respect, I don't care to be a role model for anybody except my family,' he said."

Fourth Branch Strikes Again

Robert Barnes writes in The Washington Post: "Vice President Cheney signed on to a brief filed by a majority of Congress yesterday that urged the Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that the District of Columbia's handgun ban is unconstitutional, breaking with his own administration's official position.

"Cheney joined 55 senators and 250 House members in asking the court to find that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess firearms and to uphold a lower court's ruling that the D.C. ban violates that right. That position is at odds with the one put forward by the administration, which angered gun rights advocates when it suggested that the justices return the case to lower courts for further review.

"In order to make his dramatic break with the administration, Cheney invoked his rarely used status as part of Congress, joining the brief as 'President of the United States Senate, Richard B. Cheney.' It is a position he has used at times to make the point that he is sometimes part of the legislative branch and sometimes part of the executive. . . .

"Lawyers said it may be unprecedented for a vice president to take a position in a case before the high court that is at odds with one the Justice Department puts forward as the administration's official position."

A Musician's Dilemma

Pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher writes in a Washington Post op-ed about the downside of being a Kennedy Center Honoree: "What made me unhappy and continues to trouble me was that I was required to attend a White House reception on the afternoon of the gala. I cannot speak for the other honorees, but while I profoundly respect the presidency, I am horrified by many of President Bush's policies.

"In the past seven years, Bush administration policies have amounted to a systematic shredding of our nation's Constitution -- the illegal war it initiated and perpetuates; the torturing of prisoners; the espousing of 'values' that include a careful defense of the 'rights' of embryos but show a profligate disregard for the lives of flesh-and-blood human beings; and the flagrant dismantling of environmental protections. These, among many other depressing policies, have left us weak and shamed at home and in the world.

"For several weeks before the honors, I wrestled with this dilemma, deciding in the end that I would not attend the reception at the White House. That decision was met with deep, if understandable, disapproval by the powers that be. . . . I was asked to attend all of the scheduled events and to follow the well-established protocol of silence. . . .

"In the end, I decided to attend wearing a peace symbol around my neck and a purple ribbon on my lapel, at once showing support for our young men and women in the armed services and calling for their earliest return home."

Live Online

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Cartoon Watch

Tom Toles and Paul Conrad on the Bush legacy; Dan Wasserman on the fruits of torture; Clay Bennett on Bush's leadership; Jeff Danziger and Bruce Beattie on McCain's Bush problem; Ann Telnaes's patriotic performance measurements.

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