Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Power Brokers Of Illinois Need To Move Blagojevich Out Of The Way And Off The Front Page! We All Have Other Issues To Deal With.

The Power Brokers Of Illinois Need To Move Blagojevich Out Of The Way And Off The Front Page!  We All Have Other Issues To Deal With.



Obama Calls on Blagojevich To Resign as Jesse Jackson Jr. Prepares to Talk to Feds

By Jonathan Allen, CQ Staff


President-elect Barack Obama wants Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich to resign over allegations that he tried to auction Obama’s Senate seat, as the sensational scandal threatened to touch Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.


Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs told the Associated Press Wednesday that Obama believes “under the current circumstances, it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” adding his name to a growing list of Democratic officials who are pressuring Blagojevich to step aside.


Blagojevich was arrested by federal officials Tuesday morning and charged with soliciting bribes, as well as conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.


A 76-page affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Daniel W. Cain details what prosecutors said were Blagojevich’s efforts to trade his authority to appoint Obama’s successor in the Senate for favors, including jobs for himself and his wife or campaign contributions.


The affidavit refers to various possible appointees by number, from “Senate candidate 1” through “Senate candidate 6.”


ABC News, citing law enforcement officials, identified Jackson as Senate Candidate 5. The Chicago Sun Times likewise identified Jackson, citing unnamed sources.


According to the affidavit, Blagojevich originally hoped to use the prospect of appointing Senate Candidate 5 as leverage to gain favors from another candidate. He later told an adviser that an emissary for Senate Candidate 5 had approached him with a “pay to play” arrangement in which $1.5 million would be raised for Blagojevich’s campaign committee in exchange for the seat.


Jackson, the son of civil rights leader and two-time Democratic presidential candidate Jesse L. Jackson, was first elected to the House in a special election in 1995 and is completing his sixth full term. He said in an interview with ABC that he has been told he is “not a target” of the federal investigation.


Jackson told ABC, in a videotaped interview posted on its Web site, that “it is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any kind of quid pro quo or payments or offers.”


He said he plans to talk to prosecutors as soon as possible to “share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process” for the Senate seat.


“I am not a target of this investigation,” Jackson said in the interview, which appeared to have been taped on a sidewalk outside his home in Washington, D.C. He said he did not know if he was the candidate referred to as No. 5 in the affidavit.


On Tuesday, when word of Blagojevich’s arrest broke, Jackson said he was “shocked and saddened” by the allegations. “I’ve worked to make this ongoing Senate selection process more open, transparent and merit-based. So, I’m deeply concerned that this process may have been tainted,” he said.


In Washington, where the House was meeting for possible consideration of an auto bailout bill, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer , D-Md., declined to comment Wednesday on the possibility that Jackson is Senate Candidate 5. “I have not talked to Mr. Jackson at all. So I don’t make any comment on that. . . . We haven’t had a vote, so I don’t know whether he’s here or not,” Hoyer said.


“With respect to the allegations in Illinois, they are extraordinarily serious, and if true, the strongest possible response is warranted,” Hoyer added regarding the charges against Illinois Gov. Blagojevich.


“I don’t know anything about the other allegations,” Hoyer said.


What Next?


State Democratic officials are scrambling to come up with a way to strip Blagojevich of his right to name Obama’s successor if he does not voluntarily resign or temporarily step aside as governor.


A state House committee is scheduled to meet Monday to take up legislation establishing a process for a special election to fill the seat. It is also possible that Blagojevich could face impeachment proceedings.


However, either a special election or a successful impeachment and removal of Blagojevich — which would elevate Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and give him the power to appoint an Obama successor — would take months, according to political experts.


Several possible appointees to the Obama seat have said that a Blagojevich pick would be tainted, as has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., and Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin , D-Ill.


Durbin on Wednesday sent Blagojevich a letter urging him to step down voluntarily “and refrain from appointing anyone to the U.S. Senate.”


In the letter Durbin asked the governor to “search your heart and summon the strength to put your state and your nation above any personal considerations.” He noted that “legislative efforts to impeach you or remove your ability to appoint the replacement for the United States Senate have been initiated but those options could take some time to accomplish. I urge you to choose the path that will be the most benefic ial for the people of Illinois and the nation, and resign immediately.”


“I don’t think that there’s anybody who would reasonably take that position if he would, in fact, appoint them,” state Attorney General Lisa Madigan told FOX News.

Madigan, identified as “Senate Candidate 2” in the affidavit, told FOX it is possible that she could seek a ruling from the state Supreme Court that Blagojevich is unfit to continue in office if he does not resign.


There was no suggestion in the affidavit that Madigan or anyone representing her had made any effort to trade favors with the governor.


Alan K. Ota and Catharine Richert contributed to this story.



Wash. Times headline baselessly claims "Scandal casts cloud over Obama presidency"


The headline of a December 10 Washington Times article about the implications of the charges against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) baselessly asserted: "Scandal casts cloud over Obama presidency." In fact, the article itself noted that "[a]uthorities stressed that Mr. Obama was not involved in the far-flung corruption probe" and that U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald "told reporters, '[t]he complaint makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever.' "


Indeed, in addition to stating that the complaint "makes no allegations about [Obama]," during a December 9 press conference announcing the charges against Blagojevich, Fitzgerald cautioned the press to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed or if you learn they're being interviewed."


From the December 10 Washington Times article:


Scandal casts cloud over Obama presidency


"I'm from Chicago," Barack Obama used to tell voters wondering whether he was tough enough to win the presidency, drawing laughs for referring to rough-and-tumble - and often corrupt - politics in his hometown.


But the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on charges of trying to sell Mr. Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder is probably not what the president-elect had in mind.


Authorities stressed that Mr. Obama was not involved in the far-flung corruption probe, but a 76-page FBI affidavit mentions a top Obama adviser who will be a senior White House staffer, a prominent labor union that worked for his candidacy, convicted felon and former Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko, and Washington-based consultants.


Within hours, lawmakers from both parties were calling for Mr. Blagojevich's resignation and Republicans were trying to exploit the scandal by demanding that Mr. Obama offer more details about his relationship with the disgraced governor.


"We're at an all-time low in our state," said Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Illinois Democrat.


The Illinois legislature was expected to call for a special election to fill the vacant Senate seat, a move that drew praise from some but which Mr. Rush said would put black candidates at a disadvantage.


Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House as minority whip, called on Mr. Obama to offer a clear statement right away about the investigation.


"The serious nature of the crimes listed by federal prosecutors raises questions about the interaction with Governor Blagojevich, President-elect Obama and other high-ranking officials who will be working for the future president," he said. "Simply put, I ask President-elect Obama to publicly explain tomorrow exactly what steps he is going to take to ensure that the forthcoming investigation is independent, fair, open and honest. Those planning to work for President-elect Obama should be as forthcoming."


Democrats who had been reveling in their presidential victory were suffering political heartburn Tuesday as the federal corruption charges detailed expletive-laden conversations and Mr. Blagojevich cursing the president-elect.



Mr. Obama told reporters he had no knowledge of the goings-on in the governor's office, and authorities said the person they identified as Senate Candidate 1, thought to be transition co-chairwoman Valerie Jarrett, had done nothing wrong.


The president-elect said he was "saddened and sobered" by the news but that it was not appropriate for him to comment on an ongoing investigation.


"I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening," he told reporters in his only public remarks about the matter.


But Obama top adviser David Axelrod last month told Fox News that Mr. Obama had spoken with Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Axelrod released a statement Tuesday saying he was incorrect, adding that "they did not then or at any time discuss" the Senate vacancy.



Mr. Fitzgerald told reporters, "The complaint makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever," and said the "scheme" Mr. Blagojevich envisioned "did not come to fruition."


Altercation, by Eric Alterman


A nation turns its lazy MSM to you ...


See the attempt by ABC's The Note, authored by Rick Klein, to implicate Barack Obama in the Blagojevich crimes without a shred of evidence, here. Key McCarthyite weasel words: "It isn't about the direct implications ... might be enough to keep a scandal around for a while ... the heretofore flawless transition ... underbelly of the Obama political operation, with all its Chicago tints and taints, is now fair game ... culture of corruption has put its home on the market ... a genuine what-did-the-president-elect-know-and-when-did-he-know-it." Well, you get the point. (Were the McCarthyism not so blatant, we could do an over-the-top cliché count, but that will have to wait for another day.) Note that way down below, more than 20 paragraphs into his repeated and unsupported insinuations, Klein admits, "There's no suggestions of Obama culpability," and yet he has done little but suggest as much.


We also learn below that not only did the governor constantly complain about Obama's refusal to play ball with him, but also, via Lynn Sweet in the Chicago Sun-Times, "Blagojevich was under a cloud during Obama's entire presidential campaign, and the Obama team kept him at a distance. The Illinois governor never stumped for Obama -- they did not want him -- and unlike other Democratic governors, he did not play any significant role in the campaign." What's more, "In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama's rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich," Mike McIntire and Jeff Zeleny write in The New York Times.


(In fact, my Chicago political sources inform me that Blago actually quietly supported Blair Hull in the Democratic Senate primary in 2004 won by Obama, and Blago received Hull's support for his campaign in 2002. Further, Hull's ex-wife worked in Blago's administration, heading up the Illinois Film Office.)


Now, Rick Klein is a bit player in the MSM, but because of The Note's meta-role in both setting and reflecting conventional wisdom -- originally pioneered by that tireless promoter of all things Rovian, Mark Halperin -- it is worth studying to understand what are the potentially defining narratives that the rest of the MSM are about to embrace. If you read today's Note, you can see how desperate are its members to start trying to take Obama down more than a few pegs, regardless of how trivial -- or, in this case, nonexistent -- the grounds may be. Given that Obama worked in the state senate and got elected to the U.S. Senate in the same state, he could hardly have had less to do with the guy. And yet like the entire nonexistent issue with his alleged BFF Bill Ayers, reporters will beat this already-dead horse till the proverbial cows come home.


(More on Blago: Rich Miller is an authoritative Illinois blogger journalist. His column in theSun-Times is dead on.)


By the way, John McCain is on George Stephanopoulos this week. I've not done the math myself, but I'm willing to take anyone's even money that nobody has more frequently been a guest -- and when interviewed, the sole guest on that show -- than Mr. McCain, whose former press staffers were also hired by ABC News. (Last time I checked, #2 was Joe Lieberman; if that had changed, I'd be surprised as well.)


From TomDispatch:


Ira Chernus, now writing a book about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was struck that in Barack Obama's first post-election interview he spoke of reading a book -- two actually -- on FDR's first hundred days. However, the president-elect, Chernus suggests, may actually "be reading the wrong history. Perhaps, instead of reading about Roosevelt's first hundred days, he should read Chapter 16 of Smith's FDR, which describes how growing political pressure kept Roosevelt looking over his left shoulder. By 1934, new labor organizations like the Congress of Industrial Organizations, charismatic leaders like Louisiana's Governor Huey Long, and social innovators like California physician Francis Townsend were offering concrete plans to spread the wealth far faster and wider than Roosevelt's New Deal ever would. Continuing economic catastrophe, fused with the mood of hope and change that he himself had stirred up, gave rise to the threat that the president might be unseated if he did not move leftwards."


Consummate politician that he was, Roosevelt did move, vigorously, and won a smashing victory in 1936. Barack Obama, another consummate politician, will move in our own hard times, as Chernus points out, if progressives learn from the best politicians we've had. He writes:


"That 1936 campaign is the history both a politically canny president-elect and progressives should be reading right now. It would remind him, and teach us, that a centrist president can be pushed, under the pressure of tough times and rising public hopes, in our direction -- if, that is, we are dedicated, well-organized, and persistent enough. Under pressure, Roosevelt moved an agenda that, in 1932, sounded radical indeed into the respectable center of American politics only four years later. It was the kind of agenda that many liberal or even centrist Americans came to support by 1936. Today, polling data show that a majority of Americans who call themselves liberal or centrist agree with many of the most prominent progressive stances of this moment."


They just don't support the movements and politicians calling for them.


In his latest post, Chernus delves into the language of both FDR and Obama, and suggests why it works with Americans -- and what the rest of us can learn from it.


Shock and gall in Illinois
Christian Science Monitor - Boston,MA,USA
Citizens of Illinois now have a chance to influence their state legislators to impeach Governor Blagojevich. FBI tapes of his alleged attempts to "sell" the ...
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Blagojevich's Magnificent Downfall


CHICAGO--Even those most cynical about politics here, who buy into the facile notion that nothing is legit, are moved to demurely ask, "Do you fu**ing believe this?"

Read More: BlagojevichBlagojevich ArrestedBlagojevich Complaint,Blagojevich DemocratBlagojevich IndictmentBlagojevich ObamaChicago GovernorFriends Of BlagojevichGeorge RyanGov. BlagojevichGovernor ArrestedIllinois GovernorIllinois Governor Rod BlagojevichPatrick FitzgeraldRob BlagojevichRod BlagojevichPolitics News


State leaders mull impeachment, taking away Senate seat power
By Newsdesk 
Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) said he hoped to put together a committee on impeachment hearings if Blagojevich doesn't quit soon. "I'll do everything in my power to bring a swift conclusion to this dark episode," Franks said. ...
Clout St -


What if the Impeachment Were to Last Beyond the Start of the New ...
By (Larry Handlin) 
Lawmakers will be meeting in regular session, allowing them to take up impeachment or any other matters they want. But Madigan spokesman Steve Brown cautioned there are several complications to proceeding with impeachment...
ArchPundit -


Calls grow for governor's resignation or impeachment
State House Republican Leader Tom Cross sent two letters Tuesday: the first to Blagojevich, asking for him to step down, and the second to House Speaker Mike Madigan, asking him to create a committee to investigate impeachment...
We Are Illinois: ILGOP -

We need an empowered Dept of Justice


Oversight Board Raises Questions About Treasury Financial Bailout


Lawmakers blasted the Treasury Department’s handling of the financial industry bailout as they grilled a top department official for hours Wednesday and received another oversight report that raised pointed questions about the program’s direction.


As the number of lawmakers criticizing Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program continues to grow, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank , D-Mass., warned that significant deliberations would need to occur should Treasury decide to tap the second $350 billion installment of funding.


A 38-page document released by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Congressional Oversight Panel questioned the intentions of Treasury in several areas, including foreclosure mitigation and taxpayer protection, both issues that have drawn criticism from lawmakers.


It served primarily as a preparatory report, outlining the type of information and transparency the panel expects from Treasury in the weeks ahead. But it added fuel to congressional critics of the program on both the right and left.


The oversight panel, in its report, said, “In empowering Treasury, Congress provided substantial flexibility in the use of funds so Treasury could react to the fluid and changing nature of financial markets. With these powers goes the responsibility to explain the reasons for the uses made of them.”


The panel, chaired by Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, was put in place in by the legislation Congress passed to stabilize the financial markets (PL 110-343) on Oct. 3.


The panel is required by the law to report on the TARP every 30 days. It is slated to release a report in January on the broad restructuring of the financial regulatory system.


Need for Speed


Neel Kashkari, the assistant Treasury secretary responsible for the TARP program, said Wednesday at a House Financial Services hearing that the speed in which the cascade of events occurred have directly contributed to lagging oversight.


“A program as large and complex as the TARP would normally take many months and years to establish,” Kashkari said in prepared testimony. “But we don’t have the luxury of first building the operation, then designing our programs and then executing them.”


Frank said that it was clear the program could be run better, but his biggest concern remains the inability of the Treasury Department to address the rash of foreclosures throughout the country.


“The refusal so far to use the money for [foreclosure mitigation] has been a violation of the intent [of the legislation] and undermines the ability to get the votes from Congress in the future,” Frank said in a reference to the second $350 billion installment of bailout funding, which Congress can vote to withhold should Treasury request the funds.


The Second Installment  |  Page:   1  2  3  |  Next


Auto loan talks lack industry advocate
Detroit Free Press - United States
The key figures in negotiations are staffers for President George W. Bush of Texas, House SpeakerNancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, ...
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