People with a sense of history may find Nixon aide Dean's advice to the incoming president interesting:
Because of my own personal experience with Watergate, the mother of modern presidential scandals, not to mention being a student of scandals that followed, I speak as someone who learned the hard way by making mistakes and then watched as others made their own similar and unnecessary blunders.
...[I]n the interest of the nation presidents (which would include presidents-elect) must openly and aggressively confront any and all scandals that affect them. The more innocent they are the more aggressively they should address the problem to end it before it grows.
The best governor we have right now is so bad that convicted felons Dan Rostenkowski and George Ryan both felt moved to say something. And no one laughed at them.
Wow. That says something.
Via James Fallows, a perfect holiday shopping idea from writer and Wait Wait! panelist, Roy Blount, Jr.:
I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.
We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!
I direct this specifically to readers I know I have in Durham, N.C. (Regulator Bookshop), San Francisco (Stacey's Bookstore), Chicago (Powell's and, though they're going out of business, Brent's), and New York (pick one). You know who you are. Shop.
The AP calls his approval rating "shockingly low," missing the obvious point that it's shockingly high. Who, really, are those 8%? And 8% of what, one has to wonder?
Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court today aimed at removing Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office.
Such a motion is untested in the state's history. The case could determine whether the governor is fit to serve.
Madigan will hold a news conference at 11:15 a.m at the state office complex in downtown Chicago.
More details to come.
Unprecedented. And (full disclosure) even though I've already contributed to Madigan's own campaign, I'm not sure this is the kind of precedent we really want.
On the other hand, what in all of Christendom will convince Blagojevich he needs to resign? Maybe he really has left the realm of the sane.
Our public debt has topped $10.6 trillion:
||Held by the Public
||Total Public Debt Outstanding |
But at current interest rates, it's like a license to print money!
President-elect Obama says Blagojevich must go:
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president-elect agrees with other prominent politicians in Illinois and elsewhere that "under the current circumstances, it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois."
In response to questions from The Associated Press, Gibbs said Obama believes the Illinois legislature should consider a special election to fill the seat. Gibbs says the hope is to put a process in place to select a new senator who will have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois.
Care to bet the governor holds a press conference tomorrow morning? Care to wager on its content?
Lots of speculation today whether Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is "Senate Candidate 5" from the Federal complaint against Gov. Blagojevich, but he was asked to "share some thoughts" with the FBI:
Jackson said this morning he was contacted Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Chicago whom he said "asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process."
Jackson said, "I don't know" when asked whether he was Candidate No. 5, but said he was told "I am not a target of this investigation."
Jackson said he agreed to talk with federal investigators "as quickly as possible" after he consulted with a lawyer.
The FBI says that during an Oct. 31 conversation, Blagojevich described an approach from an associate of Senate Candidate 5: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him [Senate Candidate 5] a senator."
On Thursday, the FBI says Blagojevich "was giving Senate Candidate 5 greater consideration for the Senate seat" because he might "get some [money] up front, maybe."
It goes on:
Jackson said Tuesday that he met with Blagojevich Monday "for the first time in years" and voiced his desire to fill Obama's empty Senate seat. He said he was "shocked"
to find gambling in this establishment by Blagojevich's arrest, adding that "if these allegations are proved true, I am outraged by the appalling, pay-to-play schemes hatched at the highest levels of our state government."
Another sad point to all of this, as Josh Marshall pointed out earlier: Blagojevich isn't just a former lawyer, he's a former prosecutor.
The biggest controversey about today's news at my client's office comes down to this: who is actually the stupidest governor in the US, Blagojevich or Palin? The morning's events bring this important question to the fore.
Exhibit A: The governor.
On the issue of the U.S. Senate selection, federal prosecutors alleged Blagojevich sought appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.
Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of Blagojevich in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.
Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts.
"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. "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."
U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald's office put out a press release (pdf) that is worth reading.
Exhibit B: The newspaper.
Mr. Zell isn’t the only one responsible for this debacle. With one of the grand old names of American journalism now confronting an uncertain future, it is worth remembering all the people who mismanaged the company before hand and helped orchestrate this ill-fated deal — and made a lot of money in the process. They include members of the Tribune board, the company’s management and the bankers who walked away with millions of dollars for financing and advising on a transaction that many of them knew, or should have known, could end in ruin.
It was Tribune’s board that sold the company to Mr. Zell — and allowed him to use the employee’s pension plan to do so. Despite early resistance, Dennis J. FitzSimons, then the company’s chief executive, backed the plan. He was paid about $17.7 million in severance and other payments. The sale also bought all the shares he owned — $23.8 million worth. The day he left, he said in a note to employees that “completing this ‘going private’ transaction is a great outcome for our shareholders, employees and customers.”
Well, at least for some of them. Tribune’s board was advised by a group of bankers from Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, which walked off with $35.8 million and $37 million, respectively. But those banks played both sides of the deal: they also lent Mr. Zell the money to buy the company. For that, they shared an additional $47 million pot of fees with several other banks, according to Thomson Reuters. And then there was Morgan Stanley, which wrote a “fairness opinion” blessing the deal, for which it was paid a $7.5 million fee (plus an additional $2.5 million advisory fee).
Good times, good times.