Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Obamas Moving To D.C. This Weekend

Even in a town where the hotels are swamped for the inauguration, it turns out to be easy to get a room if you’re the one being inaugurated.

President-elect Barack Obama and his family will move to Washington this weekend in time for his daughters to start school, aides said Tuesday. With the White House still occupied and the official guest residence unavailable, the future first family will hole up in one of the city’s most exclusive hotels.

The decision to come to Washington early will put Mr. Obama in the very place he has avoided since his election and will increase the spotlight on him as he tries to prepare for the presidency without yet assuming its burdens. Except for an afternoon visit with President Bush at the White House on Nov. 10, Mr. Obama has stayed away from Washington during the transition, spending his time in Chicago and Hawaii instead.

Mr. Obama, who wraps up his Oahu vacation on New Year’s Day, will hold meetings in Washington next week on how to revive the faltering economy, according to the transition officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss unannounced plans. On Wednesday Mr. Obama will attend a White House luncheon to which Mr. Bush also invited all the former president.

The president-elect will arrive just before the new Congress is sworn in Tuesday and begins work on the economic package he wants to sign after he is inaugurated Jan. 20.

Although Mr. Obama served in the Senate for the last four years, he spent little time out of session in Washington and never moved his family from Chicago.

Other new presidents arriving from out of town have waited until closer to their inaugurations. Jimmy Carter came the day before his swearing in and Ronald Reagan six days before his. Bill Clinton staged a day-long trip to Washington three days before his ceremony, retracing the route Thomas Jefferson took from his home outside Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Obama too has arranged for a symbolic arrival, in his case on a train trip starting in Philadelphia on Jan. 17. But Sidwell Friends, the private school where he is sending his daughters, Malia and Sasha, begins classes on Monday after its holiday break, so the family decided to pack up and move Saturday or Sunday.

The Obama team inquired about staying in Blair House, the government mansion across Lafayette Park from the White House. But the White House said it was already booked for events until Jan. 15, when it traditionally becomes available to a president-elect.

The Obama team instead found a hotel with a suite large enough for the presidential family until they move to Blair House. Transition officials would not identify which hotel because of security concerns.


Experts: Democrats Can't Stop Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich's decision to appoint Roland Burris to Illinois' vacant Senate seat, even as the governor faces intense criminal scrutiny, is being treated as a crazy political power grab. It also seems very likely to be permanent.

A legal scholar writes in to say that precedent surrounding the Senate's right to not seat certain members seems very likely to fall in Burris' favor.

"My reading of Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, is that the Senate probably can NOT constitutionally block Burris from being seated," writes the constitutional law professor. "Art. I, sec. 5 gives each House the power to judge the qualifications of its own members. Powell holds (inter alia) that the qualifications to be judged are those stated in the Constitution (see Art. I, sec. 3, cl. 3 and the 17th Amendment)."

"Burris has met all of those qualifications: he's over 30, been a US citizen for 9 years, he's an Illinois resident; he was appointed by the executive authority of the state to fill a vacancy, pursuant to Illinois law."

Even on the state level, Democrats seem fairly hamstrung when it comes to stopping Blagojevich. Secretary of State Jesse White's office has said it will not certify the Burris appointment. But, here again, the law may not be on their side. State charter holds that it is the "duty" of the Secretary of State:

1. To countersign and affix the seal of state to all commissions required by law to be issued by the Governor.

2. To make a register of all appointments by the Governor, specifying the person appointed, the office conferred, the date of the appointment, the date when bond or oath is taken and the date filed. If Senate confirmation is required, the date of the confirmation shall be included in the register.

Asked to assess the law in this case, legal scholars yet again say Burris is sitting in an enviable position.

"It looks to me that it is more or less a perfunctory act. And the refusal to do so will also be subject to litigation," said Ken Gross, the former associate general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. "If a certification of the Secretary of State is needed to qualify the senator, and that Secretary of State refused to offer the certification, you would likely see litigation in the state court."

As Gross sees it, the most likely path for attempts to block the appointment is as follows: Jesse White refuses to certify the appointment, only to have the decision overturned in the state courts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would than refuses to seat Burris, only to be overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Senate does have the ultimate option of expelling Burris once he takes the oath of office. But that would require some extraordinary circumstances.

For several days in November, when it looked like Ted Stevens could be reelected, it was proposed that Congress would kick the Alaska Republic out of office over his ethical problems. But scholars considered that a stretch of legal reading. And if Stevens would have made it through the legal loopholes, it's hard to see how they ensnare Burris.

"I think there would have been problems not seating Stevens," said Gross. "But at least they had a reasonable option of expulsion. Here you don't have a very attractive expulsion option because Burris did nothing wrong.... You would have to say his misconduct was accepting the appointment. But from who? A guy who was innocent until proven guilty?"

B4B

Blago with Burris (left)

Blagojevich Expected To Name Burris
To Fill Obama's Seat


Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected today to name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

The action comes despite warnings by Democratic Senate leaders that they would not seat anyone appointed by the disgraced governor who faces criminal charges of trying to sell the post, sources familiar with the decision said.

Shortly after Obama's Nov. 4 victory, Burris made known his interest in an appointment to the Senate but was never seriously considered, according to Blagojevich insiders. But in the days following Blagojevich's arrest, and despite questions over the taint of a Senate appointment, Burris stepped up his efforts to win the governor's support.

Though he is 71, Burris has said that Obama's replacement should be able to win re-election and he has noted that despite a string of primary losses in races ranging from Chicago mayor to governor and U.S. senator, he's never lost to a Republican.



President Obama Wants
to Hear From YOU !

President Obama has developed a unique program which allows 'We The People' to let him know which issues we find most important for our country. Through his new '"Open for Questions" program President Obama is asking all Americans to vote on questions (issues) submitted by fellow citizens or you can submit your own question(s). These issues will be reviewed by the Obama Transition Team and helps our new President know exactly which issues the American People feel most important. Finally, we have a President who wants to hear from the people. Click the link below...browse through the categories and questions to vote on various issues. Also, feel free to raise your own questions of concern.

Finally...You DO Have A Voice
Click Here for "Open for Questions"

B4B

Monday, December 29, 2008


Black-on-Black Homicides
Rising Among Teens

Jay Lindsay

Black teenagers are killing each other in rising numbers but the troubling trend has been masked by a falling crime rate in the United States, according to a study released Monday by Northeastern University.

FBI crime statistics show overall decreases in murder and other violent crimes. But a report by criminal justice professors James Alan Fox and Marc Swatt uncovers other disturbing trends within that data.

Among their findings: an increase of more than 39 percent in the number of black males between the ages of 14 and 17 killed between 2000 and 2007, and an increase of 34 percent in the number of blacks that age group who committed homicide.

The increases for white male teens age 14-17 during that same period were nearly 17 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

"We can't ignore the fact that hidden within the overall good news on crime, is very bad news for a segment of the population _ young black males _ and that needs our attention," Fox said.

The report also noted guns were overwhelmingly the weapon of choice for young black offenders and are now used in nearly 85 percent of homicides they commit.

The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of the anti-crime Ten Point Coalition in Boston, said the spike in fatal shootings by and on black youths "bears out what I see on the streets every day."

"The victim and perpetrators of gun crimes are getting younger and younger," he added.




Brown said that families and the community groups, particularly churches, also need to do more to help solve the problem.

Recent crimes statistics show a drop in overall crime and murder rates between 2006 and 2007, the most recent year that data were available.

The numbers represent a vast improvement over those from the 1990s when the emergence of crack cocaine fueled an explosion in violence, the Northeastern report said. In 1993, about 225 out of every 100,000 blacks age 14-17 committed homicide compared with 81 out of 100,000 in 2007.

But that's an increase from the year 2000, when the number was 66 out of every 100,000 blacks.

"When you stop paying attention to it, when you stop working at it, the problems can and do rebound," Fox said.

B4B


Kucinich criticizes Israel; wants U.N. probe


Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is calling for a United Nations investigation into Israel’s attacks on Gaza, criticizing Israel for a disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks.

The criticism stands in stark contrast to the statements of other Democrats, who have offered near-unanimous support for Israel amid the latest violence in the Middle East.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats have blamed Hamas for the violence, which has left more than 300 people in Gaza dead. One person in Israel has been killed by a Hamas rocket.

Kucinich likened the Israeli attacks on Gaza to its war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006. In both cases, he said, civilian populations were attacked and “countless innocents” were killed or injured.

“All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law,” Kucinich said in a statement. “Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable.”

Pelosi and other Democrats have refrained from criticizing Israel’s government, which has responded to the Hamas attacks with a rocket assault on Gaza.

“Peace between Israelis and Palestinians cannot result from daily barrages of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas-controlled Gaza,” Pelosi said in a statement posted on the Speaker’s website on Monday.

“Hamas and its supporters must understand that Gaza cannot and will not be allowed to be a sanctuary for attacks on Israel.

Reid said he “strongly” supported Israel’s right to defend its citizens from the Hamas rocket attacks and to restore its security. He also blamed Hamas for any humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas’s failure to stop these attacks only exacerbates the humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region.”

In March, the House voted 404-1 for a resolution condemning Hamas and other Palestinian groups for rocket attacks on Israel. It also condemned the use of Palestinians as human shields. Hamas has been criticized repeatedly for shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas in Gaza, which leads to the deaths of civilians when Israel counterattacks.

The only member of Congress to vote against the resolution was Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), a Republican candidate for president in 2008. Four Democrats, Reps. Jim Moran (Va.), Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Michael Capuano (Mass.) and Jim McDermott (Wash.), voted present. Kucinich was not present for the vote.

Kucinich said the perpetrators of attacks against Israel should be brought to justice, but that Israel “cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible.”

Pelosi said the U.S. must continue to do everything it can to promote peace in the region and a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. She said humanitarian needs of all innocent civilians must be addressed, but added that when Israel is attacked, “the United States must continue to stand strongly with its friend and democratic ally.”

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Israel had a “duty” to defend itself in response to the attacks. “The loss of innocent life is a terrible tragedy, and the blame for that tragedy lies with Hamas.”

Similarly, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) laid blame with Hamas.

“Hamas is abusing the people of Gaza by using their homes as a base for terror operations,” he said. “The world should no longer tolerate a terrorist government in the Gaza Strip.”

President-elect Obama has yet to weigh in on the violence, although top adviser David Axelrod on Sunday noted statements Obama made over the summer that respected Israel’s right to defend itself.

Kucinich said in his statement that he had sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting an independent inquiry. He said the attacks on civilians represented collective punishment, which he said was a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

B4B









Bristol Palin Baby Son Tripp Born

People magazine reports that Bristol Palin, daughter of the Alaska governor, has given birth to a baby son:

Bristol Palin, the 18-year-old daughter of former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, gave birth on Sunday to a healthy 7 lb., 4 oz., baby boy in Palmer, Alaska.


"We think it's wonderful," said Colleen Jones, the sister of Bristol's grandmother Sally Heath, who confirmed the news. "The baby is fine and Bristol is doing well. Everyone is excited."

The baby's name is Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, according to Jones.

The baby's father, Levi Johnston, is training to be an electrician. Bristol is taking correspondence courses to obtain her high school diploma. The couple has been together for three years.

See photos of Johnston and Palin here. Johnston's mother was recently arrested on drug charges.

B4B

Friday, December 26, 2008

Apply for a Federal Bailout!

federalbailout-th.gifClick to enlarge.
If you’re like most of us on this first day of December 2008, you’re probably looking at your bills and your gift lists and the endless list of people you have to tip this month, thinking, Hmmmm, I could use some of that federal bail out money just about now.

But how do you get your hands on some of those billions? How do you apply? How does Hank Paulson decide why Citibank lives and Lehman Brothers dies?

Well, it turns out that V.F. contributing editor Bruce Feirstein has discovered the ├╝ber-top-secret Federal Bailout application—the one-page “EZ-CASH” form that’s been making the rounds at corporate board rooms, weekend ski chalets, and NetJets waiting rooms all across America.

Click on the image to see the form, fill it out,

and you too can be rolling in cash again.


Thursday, December 25, 2008


Obama Christmas: Visits Military Families

KAILUA, Hawaii — President-elect Barack Obama visited military families while they ate Christmas Day dinner, thanking them for their service and posing for pictures.

Obama on Thursday visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii near his rented vacation home and briefly chatted with enlisted members who ate turkey, ham and roast beef. He didn't make formal remarks or speak to reporters during the stop, one of the few public sightings of the president-elect on what aides call a private family vacation.

"Hey," Obama said as he walked into the mess hall wearing a short-sleeved shirt and slacks. "Just wanted to say 'hi.'"

Obama lingered a few minutes at each table as the Marines and sailors and their families stood to greet their next commander in chief. At other tables, the visitors ate candied sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, mashed potatoes and simmered corn and broccoli.

"What part of Indiana?" he asked one person. To another: "This is the East Coast table, huh?"

Obama and his family planned to spend their Christmas holiday mostly out of sight, an accomplishment given his two-year, high-profile marathon to win the presidency.

Obama, wife Michelle and their two young daughters opened presents earlier Thursday and planned their own dinner of turkey and ham, according to aides. They did not release any other details.

The Obamas arrived in Honolulu on Saturday with four aides, his Secret Service detail and a small group of journalists. Since then, he has been largely sequestered at the beachfront estate.

With less a month before Obama takes office on Jan. 20, he is taking every step possible to make sure this holiday is as private as possible _ something he bemoaned while walking to a driving range last Sunday.

"OK, guys," Obama said, recognizing the photographers snapping pictures. "Come on. ... How many shots do you need?"

That was one of only a handful of trips Obama and his motorcade have taken. He and Michelle Obama have visited Marine Corps Base Hawaii for daily morning workouts. Twice, he and friends have played a round of golf. He attended a private memorial service for his grandmother on Tuesday and scattered her ashes into the Pacific Ocean.

And that's been it.

While the Democratic president-elect vacations in his native Hawaii through the New Year, he and his aides have taken careful steps to minimize his profile. He has no public schedule while vacationing, although he remains involved in transition plans and has received intelligence briefings.

While Obama's aides have taken steps to keep the vacation low-profile, he hasn't been entirely successful. Photographers captured images of him scattering his grandmother's ashes from a rock ledge on Tuesday while the press corps waited in a bus. Another photographer captured the future first family _ including a shirtless Obama _ in the backyard.

The Secret Service has blocked the street where he is staying, citing security concerns. A few cars a day have rolled into the dead-end street, but they did not get past the checkpoint. And a few neighbors who tried to walk past the house on Christmas Day were rebuffed by agents.

One man left with an aide a Christmas card addressed to the Obama family. It featured a palm tree with the word "peace" written on it.

B4B

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

POLLS: Obama's Approval Ratings
Breaking Records

(CNN) – Hawaii's always been a great spot for honeymoons — and Barack Obama, who's spending the holiday season there on the beach at Kailua, is unquestionably having one of the best in modern presidential history.

Eighty-two percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning approve of the way the Obama is handling his presidential transition. That's up 3 points from when we asked this question at the beginning of December. Fifteen percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way Obama's handling his transition, down 3 points from our last poll.

The 82 percent approval is higher than then President-elect George W. Bush 8 years ago, who had a 65 percent transition approval rating, and Bill Clinton, at 67 percent in 1992.

"Barack Obama is having a better honeymoon with the American public than any incoming president in the past three decades. He's putting up better numbers, usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The poll also suggests that the public approves of the President-elect's cabinet nominees, with 56 percent of those questioned saying Obama's appointments have been outstanding or above average, with 32 percent feeling the picks have been average, and 11 percent saying Obama's choices have been below average or poor.

That 56 percent figure is 18 points higher than those who said then President-elect Bush's cabinet appointments were outstanding or above average and 26 points higher than those who felt the same way about then President-elect Clinton's nominees.

"Obama walks in with nearly twice the support on the economy that President-elect Clinton had in January, 1993, and he beats Ronald Reagan as well," adds Holland.

A third say that their impression of Obama has gotten better since the election, with only 8 percent saying their opinion has gotten worse.

Presidents usually start to lose support once they assume office and start making the tough decisions. But with eight in ten currently approving of Obama, he can give away 20 or 30 points, estimates Holland, and still have a majority of the country on his side.

The CNN/Opinion Research poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,013 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obama, 2 Aides met With Blagojevich Investigators

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama and two of his top aides met last week with federal investigators building a corruption case against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of trying to swap Obama's Senate seat for cash or a lucrative job.

The interviews with Obama, along with incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and adviser Valerie Jarrett, were disclosed Tuesday in an internal report produced for Obama on contacts with Blagojevich. Obama delayed releasing his report until those interviews were completed with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's staff, incoming White House attorney Greg Craig said in the review he wrote for Obama.

Obama had no contact with the governor or his aides, the report states. Prosecutors have said Obama is not implicated in the case.

Emanuel was the only Obama transition team member who discussed the Senate appointment with Blagojevich, and those conversations were "totally appropriate and acceptable," Craig said Tuesday. No one on Obama's transition team discussed any deals or had any knowledge of deals, Craig's report said.

Sources have said Emanuel is not a target in the case. Jarrett was never a target of the federal investigation, a transition official said.

Craig's report identified close Obama friend Eric Whitaker as someone approached by one of Blagojevich's top aides to learn "who, if anyone, had the authority to speak for the president-elect" about the Senate appointment.

The report states that Obama told Whitaker that "no one was authorized to speak for him" and that "he had no interest in dictating the result of the selection process."

Blagojevich was charged on Dec. 9 with plotting to use his governor's authority to appoint Obama's Senate replacement and make state appointments and contracts in exchange for cash and other favors. He has denied any criminal wrongdoing and has resisted multiple calls for his resignation, including one from Obama.

During Emanuel's interview with federal authorities, he listened to a taped recording of a conversation with Blagojevich's office, according to a transition official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss information not included in the report.

Craig's report states that Emanuel had "one or two telephone calls" with Blagojevich and four conversations with John Harris, the governor's chief of staff who later resigned after being charged in the federal case. Craig told reporters Emanuel said he couldn't be sure it was only one call.

Emanuel left for a long-planned family vacation in Africa on Tuesday and was not available for comment.

The report was released in Washington while Obama was vacationing in Hawaii. The president-elect did not make himself available for questions.

The report said Obama authorized Emanuel to pass on the names of four people he considered to be highly qualified to take over his seat — Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, Illinois Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Obama later offered other names of what he thought were qualified candidates, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Urban League Director Cheryle Jackson, the report said.

"Mr. Harris did not make any effort to extract a personal benefit for the governor in any of these conversations," the report said. There was no discussion of a Cabinet position, creation of a nonprofit foundation for Blagojevich, a private sector position or of any other personal benefit for the governor, according to the report.

The report said that earlier, Emanuel recommended Jarrett for the Senate seat without Obama's knowledge, and Jarrett later accepted a job as a senior White House adviser.

Craig revealed his findings into a memo to Obama. The memo was dated Tuesday, but a transition official said an initial copy was given to Obama on Dec. 15. On that day, Obama announced that the report was ready but that he was withholding it from public release for a week at the request of the U.S. attorneys still conducting their investigation.

Obama To Take Oath on
Abe Lincoln's Bible


WASHINGTON (AFP) – Barack Obama will take the oath as US president on the same Bible used to swear in president Abraham Lincoln, the committee planning his inauguration said in a statement Tuesday.

The presidential inaugural committee said the Lincoln Bible would be borrowed from the collections at the Library of Congress.

"President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in," said Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau in a statement.

With Obama's swearing-in on January 20, the historic Bible with its gilded edges and burgundy velvet binding will see its first use during a presidential inauguration since 1861 when Lincoln, the 16th US president, was sworn in.

"The president-elect is committed to holding an inauguration that celebrates America's unity, and the use of this historic Bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage," Beliveau said.

Lincoln, from the state of Illinois which Obama represented in the US Congress, presided over the country's biggest domestic crisis, the American Civil War, and ended slavery, but he was killed by an assassin's bullet in 1865.

There is no constitutional requirement that a Bible be used during inaugurations, but US presidents traditionally have used Bibles for their swearing-in ceremonies.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Video: OBAMA'S WEEKLY ADDRESS


If Video does not appear click B4B

Thursday, December 18, 2008


FRANKEN PROJECTED WINNER

Sam Stein
Democratic challenger Al Franken finds himself on the cusp of winning a seat in the United States Senate after Minnesota's canvassing board awarded him a host of challenged votes during deliberations on Thursday.

As of 8PM ET, the Minneapolis Star Tribune projected that Franken would finish the recount process with a lead of 89 votes, positioning him to become the 59th senator caucusing with Democrats in the upcoming Congress.

According to local paper tallies, Franken currently trails Sen. Norm Coleman by a mere five votes, down from the 358-vote margin that the Republican held just last night. The Associated Press has the count even closer, with Coleman ahead by two votes. An aide to Franken told the Huffington Post that, according to the campaign's internal count, Franken has already taken a small lead.

The gains came as the canvassing board sifted through hundreds of ballots that Coleman had contested during the recount process. On Friday, the canvassing board will consider another 400 or so Coleman challenges. If the pattern remains consistent, Franken should vault past his opponent to a projected lead of approximately 89 votes, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The process by which the Senate race has come to this stage is often confusing. Coleman held an approximately 200-vote lead after the state went through a hand recount of all ballots. However, there remained approximately 1,500 ballots that one or the other campaign contested (and temporarily removed from the overall vote tally). Coleman challenged about 1,000 of these, Franken the rest.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the canvassing board considered Franken's challenges, which gave a slight gain to Coleman's lead (Franken, after all, was challenging ballots that were, perhaps erroneously, awarded to Coleman during the recount). But the Franken campaign also gained some votes during the two days; the canvassing board awarded him dozens of ballots that had been wrongfully determined to be non-votes or under-votes.

By Thursday, the canvassing board had moved onto the pile of Coleman challenges, and with it, Coleman's lead quickly dissipated. It became clear early on that the Senator had challenged many ballots simply because they favored Franken and had a minor (non-disqualifying) clerical error. The board began plowing through the votes until, by late afternoon, Franken found himself down by only five.

As it stands now, it seems likely that Franken will end this process with a lead wider than even his campaign expected. Earlier projections, from the Associated Press, Star Tribune and Franken himself, suggested that Coleman would lose the race by roughly 20 votes or less. And this tally doesn't even take into consideration the legal and political battle being waged over wrongfully rejected absentee ballots, which the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled, on Thursday, should be counted.

That decision, another loss for the Coleman campaign, could mean even more votes flowing into Franken's tally, though the Court also stressed that the state and both campaigns come up with a uniform standard for identifying these absentee ballots before they are counted.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Aretha Franklin

Obama's Inauguration
Itinerary Released

WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, today announced the program for the 56th Presidential Inauguration, which will take place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2009.


"I am delighted to announce this superb line-up of participants in the 2009 inaugural ceremonies," said Senator Feinstein. "The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama will be an event of historic proportion. It is appropriate that the program will include some of the world's most gifted artists from a wide range of backgrounds and genres."

The program participants were invited by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and chosen by the Chairman, the Presidential-elect and the Vice President-elect. In addition to Senator Feinstein, the members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies include: Senator Bob Bennett, Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; and House Republican Leader John Boehner.

The order of the program will be as follows:

Musical Selections


The United States Marine Band


Musical Selections

The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus


Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein


Invocation

Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA


Musical Selection

Aretha Franklin


Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

The Honorable John Paul Stevens


Musical Selection, John Williams, composer/arranger

Itzhak Perlman, Violin

Yo-Yo Ma, Cello

Gabriela Montero, Piano

Anthony McGill, Clarinet


Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack H. Obama

By the Chief Justice of the United States

The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.


Inaugural Address

The President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama


Poem

Elizabeth Alexander


Benediction

The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery


The National Anthem

The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

Obama: Time Magazine's
'Person Of The Year'
Jesse Jackson Jr. Talked with Feds
About Blagojevich Since Summer

Don Babwin

CHICAGO — Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn't appoint the congressman's wife as lottery director because he had refused him a $25,000 campaign donation, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "Blagojevich went out of his way to say, 'You know I was considering your wife for the lottery job and the $25,000 you didn't give me? That's why she's not getting the job,'" the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.

Jackson's name has played prominently ever since Blagojevich was arrested last week on corruption charges, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for personal gain.

Jackson has been identified as one of the candidates Blagojevich was considering for the seat, and a criminal complaint said his supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for the governor if he picked the congressman.

The complaint quotes Blagojevich as saying on federal wiretaps that an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he made the Jackson appointment happen.

Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds declined to comment on the account of the exchange shortly after Blagojevich's 2002 election but said the congressman, the son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, has approached federal investigators to discuss the governor and others for years.

"He has shared information with federal prosecutors about public corruption during the past several years, including information about Blagojevich and others," Edmonds said.

Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, declined to comment, as did Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero.

Jackson has openly sought the Senate position but denies initiating or authorizing anyone to promise anything to Blagojevich on his behalf. The congressman has said federal prosecutors told him he is not a target of their investigation.

B4B NOTE: We received the following message from the Jesse Jackson Jr. camp:

"As a responsible citizen and elected official, Congressman Jackson
has in the past provided information to federal authorities regarding
his personal knowdedge of perceived corruption and governmental
misconduct.This was completely unrelated to the current federal
investigation regarding the U.S. Senate appointment. And it is
absolutely inaccurate to describe the Congressman as an informant."

Kenneth Edmonds, spokesman for Congressman Jackson.

B4B

Monday, December 15, 2008



Funny how Maliki never even looked at W.
Is it just me or is Maliki smiling ?


Click B4B if photos did not appear
WATCH: George W. Visits Iraq
Greeted By 2 Flying Size 10's


If Video Does Not Appear Click B4B

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Watch:
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S
Weekly Address


Click B4B if video does not appear

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bush Is PATHETIC....MUST READ !

CHICAGO—The White House has turned down a request from the family of President-elect Barack Obama to move into Blair House in early January so that his daughters can start school on January 5.

The Obamas were told that Blair House, where incoming presidents usually stay in the five days before Inauguration Day, is booked in early January, a spokesperson to the Obama transition said. “We explored the idea so that the girls could start school on schedule,’ the spokesperson said. “But, there were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn’t be displaced.”

It remained unclear who on Bushes guest list outranked the incoming President.

“It’s not a public schedule,” said Sally McDonough, spokeswoman for First Lady Laura Bush, in refusing to disclose who was staying at Blair House. “It’s not a question of outranking the Obamas. Blair House will be available to them on January 15.”

Ms. McDonough said “there’s nothing more to say other than that it’s not available and won’t be available until January 15.” She added that “you’re trying to make a story out of something that’s not a story.”

A State Department official said he didn’t know of any foreign dignitaries staying at Blair House in early January.

A White House official said that Mr. Bush does not have family or friends from Texas staying at Blair House during the period which the Obamas requested. But Blair House, the official said, has been booked for “receptions and gatherings” by members of the outgoing Bush administration. Those receptions, the official said, “don’t make it suitable for full-time occupancy by the Obamas yet.”

Mr. Obama has been staying in Chicago with his family since the election; the Obamas have decided to send their two daughters, Malia and Sasha, to Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

Obama transition officials said that the family is considering other housing options and are hopeful the girls will not miss the start of school. “The White House has been extremely accommodating to the Obama family needs — and the entire process has been smooth and friendly,” the transition official said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney Office

Gov. of Illinois Caught Trying
To Sell Obama's Senate Seat
Read: FBI/U.S. Attorney Release


(From U.S. Attorney Office)

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions - both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.

Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They were charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was sworn out on Sunday and unsealed today following their arrests, which occurred without incident, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both men were expected to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois' U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:

A substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;

Placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;

Promises of campaign funds - including cash up front; and

A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator."

On November 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is "financially" hurting, the affidavit states. Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the "financial security" of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich "politically viable." Blagojevich stated, "I want to make money," adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.

On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could "monetize" the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office.

"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism. The citizens of Illinois deserve public officials who act solely in the public's interest, without putting a price tag on government appointments, contracts and decisions," he added.

Mr. Grant said: "Many, including myself, thought that the recent conviction of a former governor would usher in a new era of honesty and reform in Illinois politics. Clearly, the charges announced today reveal that the office of the Governor has become nothing more than a vehicle for self-enrichment, unrestricted by party affiliation and taking Illinois politics to a new low."

Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Grant thanked the Chicago offices of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General for assisting in the ongoing investigation. The probe is part of Operation Board Games, a five-year-old public corruption investigation of pay-to-play schemes, including insider-dealing, influence-peddling and kickbacks involving private interests and public duties.

Federal agents today also executed search warrants at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich located at 4147 North Ravenswood, Suite 300.

Pay-to-Play Schemes:

The charges include historical allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with others - including previously convicted defendants Antoin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others - since becoming governor in 2002 to obtain and attempt to obtain financial benefits for himself, his family and third parties, including his campaign committee, Friends of Blagojevich, in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts and access to state funds. A portion of the affidavit recounts the testimony of various witnesses at Rezko's trial earlier this year.

The charges focus, however, on events since October when the Government obtained information that Blagojevich and Fundraiser A, who is chairman of Friends of Blagojevich, were accelerating Blagojevich's allegedly corrupt fund-raising activities to accumulate as much money as possible this year before a new state ethics law would severely curtail Blagojevich's ability to raise money from individuals and entities that have existing contracts worth more than $50,000 with the State of Illinois. Agents learned that Blagojevich was seeking approximately $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, principally from or through individuals or entities - many of which have received state contacts or appointments - identified on a list maintained by Friends of Blagojevich, which the FBI has obtained.

The affidavit details multiple incidents involving efforts by Blagojevich to obtain campaign contributions in connection with his official actions as governor, including these three in early October:

* After an October 6 meeting with Harris and Individuals A and B, during which Individual B sought state help with a business venture, Blagojevich told Individual A to approach Individual B about raising $100,000 for Friends of Blagojevich this year. Individual A said he later learned that Blagojevich reached out directly to Individual B to ask about holding a fund-raiser;

* Also on October 6, Blagojevich told Individual A that he expected Highway Contractor 1 to raise $500,000 in contributions and that he was willing to commit additional state money to a Tollway project - beyond $1.8 billion that Blagojevich announced on October15 - but was waiting to see how much money the contractor raised for Friends of Blagojevich; and

* On October 8, Blagojevich told Individual A that he wanted to obtain a $50,000 contribution from Hospital Executive 1, the chief executive officer of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which had recently received a commitment of $8 million in state funds. When the contribution was not forthcoming, Blagojevich discussed with Deputy Governor A the feasibility of rescinding the funding.

On October 21, the Government obtained a court order authorizing the interception of conversations in both a personal office and a conference room used by Blagojevich at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich. The FBI began intercepting conversations in those rooms on the morning of October 22. A second court order was obtained last month allowing those interceptions to continue. On October 29, a court order was signed authorizing the interception of conversations on a hardline telephone used by Blagojevich at his home. That wiretap was extended for 30 days on November 26, according to the affidavit.

Another alleged example of a pay-to-play scheme was captured in separate telephone conversations that Blagojevich had with Fundraiser A on November 13 and Lobbyist 1 on December 3. Lobbyist 1 was reporting to Blagojevich about his efforts to collect a contribution from Contributor 1 and related that he "got in his face" to make it clear to Contributor 1 that a commitment to make a campaign contribution had to be done now, before there could be some skittishness over the timing of the contribution and Blagojevich signing a bill that would benefit Contributor 1. Blagojevich commented to Lobbyist 1 "good" and "good job." The bill in question, which is awaiting Blagojevich 's signature, is believed to be legislation that directs a percentage of casino revenue to the horse racing industry.

Sale of U.S. Senate Appointment:

Regarding the Senate seat, the charges allege that Blagojevich, Harris and others have engaged and are engaging in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, to benefit Blagojevich and his family through corruptly using Blagojevich's sole authority to appoint a successor to the unexpired term of the President-elect's former Senate seat, which he resigned effective November 16. The affidavit details numerous conversations about the Senate seat between November 3 and December 5. In these conversations, Blagojevich repeatedly discussed the attributes of potential candidates, including their abilities to benefit the people of Illinois, and the financial and political benefits he and his wife could receive if he appointed various of the possible candidates.

Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being "stuck" as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife's employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.

In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: "if . . . they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it." Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain." He added later that the seat "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

Over the next couple of days - Election Day and the day after - Blagojevich was captured discussing with Deputy Governor A whether he could obtain a cabinet position, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Department of Energy or various ambassadorships. In a conversation with Harris on November 4, Blagojevich analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to the highest bidder. The day after the election, Harris allegedly suggested to Blagojevich that the President-elect could make him the head of a private foundation.

Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, "I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there," the affidavit states.

Two days later, in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called "Change to Win," which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

On November 10, Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, Governor General Counsel, Advisor B and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed, among other things, a deal involving the SEIU. Harris said they could work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Blagojevich's appointment of Senate Candidate 1, while Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future. Also during that call, Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.

In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them." Earlier in that conversation, Blagojevich suggested starting a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, which he could head and engage in political activity and lobbying. In that conversation with Harris and other discussions with him and others over the next couple of days, Blagojevich suggested by name several well-known, wealthy individuals who could be prevailed upon to seed such an organization with $10-$15 million, and suggesting that he could take the organization's reins when he is no longer governor, according to the affidavit.

On November 12, Blagojevich spoke with SEIU Official who was in Washington. This conversation occurred about a week after Blagojevich had met with SEIU Official to discuss the Senate seat, with the understanding that the union official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1's interest in the Senate seat. During the November 12 conversation, Blagojevich allegedly explained the non-profit organization idea to SEIU Official and said that it could help Senate Candidate 1. The union official agreed to "put that flag up and see where it goes," although the official also had said he wasn't certain if Senate Candidate 1 wanted the official to keep pushing her candidacy. Senate Candidate 1 eventually removed herself from consideration for the open seat.

Also on November 12, in a conversation with Harris, the complaint affidavit states that Blagojevich said his decision about the open Senate seat will be based on three criteria in the following order of importance: "our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon that. Legal. Personal. Political." Harris said: "legal is the hardest one to satisfy." Blagojevich said that his legal problems could be solved by naming himself to the Senate seat.

As recently as December 4, in separate conversations with Advisor B and Fundraiser A, Blagojevich said that he was "elevating" Senate Candidate 5 on the list of candidates because, among other reasons, if Blagojevich ran for re-election, Senate Candidate 5 would "raise[] money" for him. Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Blagojevich with something "tangible up front." Noting that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to reach out to an intermediary (Individual D), from whom Blagojevich is attempting to obtain campaign contributions and who Blagojevich believes is close to Senate Candidate 5. Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was a very realistic candidate but Blagojevich was getting a lot of pressure not to appoint Senate Candidate 5, according to the affidavit.

Blagojevich allegedly told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that if Senate Candidate 5 is going to be chosen, "some of this stuff's gotta start happening now . . . right now . . . and we gotta see it." Blagojevich continued, "You gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody's listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?" Blagojevich further directed Fundraiser A to talk to Individual D in person, not by phone, and to communicate the "urgency" of the situation.

Blagojevich spoke to Fundraiser A again the next day, December 5, and discussed that day's Chicago Tribune front page article stating that Blagojevich had recently been surreptitiously recorded as part of the ongoing criminal investigation. Blagojevich instructed Fundraiser A to "undo your [Individual D] thing," and Fundraiser A confirmed it would be undone, the complaint alleges.

Also on December 5, Blagojevich and three others allegedly discussed whether to move money out of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund to avoid having the money frozen by federal authorities and also considered the possibility of prepaying the money to Blagojevich's criminal defense attorney with an understanding that the attorney would donate the money back at a later time if it was not needed. They also discussed opening a new fund raising account named Citizens for Blagojevich with new contributions.

Misuse of State Funding To Induce Firing of Chicago Tribune Editorial Writers:

According to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) relating to the Tribune Company's efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field. In a November 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform Tribune Owner and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment. In a November 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, Cubs Chairman and Tribune Owner, "our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support."

On November 6, the day of a Tribune editorial critical of Blagojevich , Harris told Blagojevich that he told Tribune Financial Advisor the previous day that things "look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page." Harris also told Blagojevich that he was meeting with Tribune Financial Advisor on November 10.

In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." Blagojevich allegedly responded. "Oh. That's fantastic." After further discussion, Blagojevich said, "Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."

In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune's deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, "as somebody who was the most biased and unfair." After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field. On November 30, Blagojevich spoke with the president of a Chicago-area sports consulting firm, who indicated that he was working with the Cubs on matters involving Wrigley Field. Blagojevich and Sports Consultant discussed the importance of getting the IFA transaction approved at the agency's December or January meeting because Blagojevich was contemplating leaving office in early January and his IFA appointees would still be in place to approve the deal, the charges allege.

The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reid Schar, Carrie Hamilton and Christopher Niewoehner.

If convicted, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. (end)

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois Governor Charged With
Trying To SELL Obama's Seat

CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

Otherwise, Blagojevich considered appointing himself. The affidavit said that as late as Nov. 3, he told his deputy governor that if "they're not going to offer me anything of value I might as well take it."

"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain," Blagojevich allegedly said later that day, according to the affidavit, which also quoted him as saying in a remark punctuated by profanity that the seat was "a valuable thing _ you just don't give it away for nothing."

The affidavit said Blagojevich also discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

It said Blagojevich also talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director's fees.

He also allegedly discussed getting campaign funds for himself or possibly a post in the president's cabinet or an ambassadorship once he left the governor's office. He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016, according to the affidavit. And he allegedly said a Senate seat would also provide him with corporate contacts if he needed a job and present an opportunity for his wife to work as a lobbyist.

Story continues below

"I want to make money," the affidavit quotes him as saying in one conversation.

The affidavit said Blagojevich expressed frustration at being "stuck" as governor and that he would have access to greater resources if he were indicted while in the U.S. Senate than while sitting as governor.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement that "the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering."

"They allege that Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States senator," Fitzgerald said."

Messages left for Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero and at the governor's press office were not immediately returned Tuesday morning.

Among those being considered for the Senate post include U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Jesse Jackson Jr.

The affidavit outlined a Nov. 10 call between Blagojevich, his wife, his chief of staff _ John Harris, who also was arrested Tuesday _ and a group of advisers in which Harris allegedly suggested working out an agreement with the Service Employees International Union.

Under the plan, Blagojevich would appoint a new senator who would be helpful to the president-elect and in turn get a job as head of Change to Win, a group formed by the union. The union would get an unspecified favor from Obama later.

Nothing in the court papers suggested Obama had any part in the discussion. In fact, Blagojevich allegedly said in the same conversation that Obama most likely would not appoint him as secretary of health and human services or to an ambassadorship because of the negative publicity that has surrounded the governor for three years.

One day later, according to the affidavit, Blagojevich allegedly told an associate he knew Obama wanted a specific Senate candidate but "they're not going to give me anything except appreciation." He finished the remark with an expletive.

Blagojevich also was charged with using his authority as governor in an attempt to squeeze out campaign contributions.

Corruption in the Blagojevich administration has been the focus of a federal investigation involving an alleged $7 million scheme aimed at squeezing kickbacks out of companies seeking business from the state. Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they're also investigating "serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" under Blagojevich, who has a $177,412 salary, though it's unclear whether he accepts the total.

Political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko who raised money for the campaigns of both Blagojevich and Obama is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of fraud and other charges. Blagojevich's chief fundraiser, Christopher G. Kelly, is due to stand trial early next year on charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

According to Tuesday's complaint, Blagojevich schemed with Rezko, millionaire-fundraiser turned federal witness Stuart Levine and others to get financial benefits for himself and his campaign committee.

Federal prosecutors said Blagojevich and the chairman of his campaign committee have been speeding up corrupt fundraising activities in the last month to get as much money as possible before the end of the year when a new law would curtail his ability to raise contributions from companies with state contracts worth more than $50,000.

According to the affidavit, agents learned Blagojevich was seeking $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, with a large part allegedly to come from companies and individuals who have gotten state contracts or appointments.

The affidavit also outlines Blagojevich conversations related to Tribune Co., which has been hoping to sell Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs which the publishing giant also owns.

Blagojevich was quoted in court papers as telling Harris in a profanity laced Nov. 4 conversation that his recommendation to Tribune executives was to fire the editorial writers "and get us some editorial support."

Harris is quoted as telling the governor Nov. 11 that an unnamed Tribune Owner, presumably CEO Sam Zell, "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue."

The affidavit said Harris quoted a Tribune financial adviser as saying cuts were coming at the newspaper and "reading between the lines he's going after that section," apparently meaning editorial writers. Blagojevich is quoted as saying: "Oh, that's fantastic."

"Wow," Blagojevich allegedly replied. "Keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."

Harris allegedly told Blagojevich in his conversation with the financial adviser he had singled out deputy editorial page editor John McCormick as "somebody who was the most biased and unfair."

After hearing that, Blagojevich allegedly stressed to the head of a Chicago sports consulting firm that it was important to provide state aid for a Wrigley Field sale.

Blagojevich took the chief executive's office in 2003 as a reformer promising to clean up former Gov. George Ryan's mess.

Ryan, a Republican, is serving a 6-year prison sentence after being convicted on racketeering and fraud charges. A decade-long investigation began with the sale of driver's licenses for bribes and led to the conviction of dozens of people who worked for Ryan when he was secretary of state and governor.

FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said federal agents arrested the governor and Harris simultaneously at their homes at 6:15 a.m. and took them to the Chicago FBI headquarters.

He did not have any details about Blagojevich's arrest, only that he was cooperative with federal agents.

"It was a very calm setting," he said.

The governor was to appear later Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan to answer the charges. The time was not immediately set. (huffPo)

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