Roland Burris on the Rachel Maddow Show

Blagojevich apointee to the United States Senate Roland Burris on the Rachel Maddow Show.

Blago Goes Rogue – Appoints Roland Burris for Senate

“How- How- How much did you say? $14,000?  Well, I gotta check my records because I didn’t think it was that much.  I didn’t have that much money to give to the governor.” — Roland Burris when asked if his political contributions to Gov. Blagojevich played any part in his appointment to the U.S. Senate

The political landscape in Illinois dipped further into the Twilight Zone when Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.  The press conference alone was odd enough, with Blago introducing Burris, Burris fumbling his way through a Q&A, and, when all else failed, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago stepped in and took over the press conference.

It was perhaps the most surreal quarter-hour of political theater in the history of the great state of Illinois.

Every news report labels Blagojevich “embattled.”  That’s an understatement.  The governor long ago isolated himself and has had very few political friends in Illinois for several years.  Adding to today’s drama is the exodus of William J. Quinlan as Blagojevich’s general counsel. Blago stands alone, and seems to like it that way.

But he sure expects favors in return – allegedly.

Timing was everything today:

The governor’s announcement came less than an hour after U.S. Senate Democratic leadership issued a statement saying the Senate will not seat anyone Blagojevich chooses to fill Illinois’ vacant Senate post. The statement also is signed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has repeatedly urged Blagojevich not to name a replacement for the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Secretary of State Jesse White even weighed in with a statement that he would not certify Burris.

There’s been a lot of banter in the media about the legal effect of both statements.  Can the U.S. Senate Democratic leadership legally block the appointment?  Does Jesse White’s refusal to certify Burris make a difference?  Burris was insistent tonight on The Rachel Maddow Show that the appointment is legal.  Many in the legal world seemed to support that argument.

But that doesn’t mean the U.S. Senate has to act any time soon.  Harry Reid can effectively refuse to seat Burris, which can potentially delay the appointment for two years or more.

Add to the mix of voices today that of Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, who said he expects that Gov. Blagojevich will resign by February at the latest.  If Burris has still not been seated by then, Quinn as acting governor can simply withdraw the appointment — perhaps.

The waters are muddier than the Fox River Valley after a flood.

Just another cold day in Blagoland.

Bush Recession Cuts Deep

America has yet to reach rock bottom.  We’re beyond playing games blaming “W” for all our problems.  Yes, this recession belongs to George W. Bush, in spite of the “W” administration’s lame attempts to preemptively blame the Clinton Administration for any and all economic woes to come.

History will judge Bush 43.  We need to look forward and help each other through this mess.

Economic Survival Rule Number One: Ignore all conservatives henceforth.  Their time has come and gone, and they have left this country in shambles.

From our friends at The Nation:

Garry Wills says Americans think of government only as a “necessary evil,” a last resort. Well, folks, all the other resorts are boarded up. In November, America shed more than 500,000 jobs, the worst single-month record in thirty-four years. We lost more than 2 million over the course of 2008–and the crash is accelerating across the globe.

At the same time, America is falling apart, literally. We’ve witnessed the ghastly spectaculars: failure of the levees in New Orleans, collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, bursting of the steam pipe that shut down ten square blocks of Manhattan. But these tragic catastrophes are a small part of the growing costs of a conservative-era failure to invest in our future.

Conservative scorn for government has produced a crippling public-investment deficit. America’s core infrastructure–roads, bridges, sewers, airports, trains, mass transit–is overcrowded, outdated and crumbling. The evidence, assembled by Eric Lotke in The Investment Deficit in America, issued by the Campaign for America’s Future, is stark. Poor road conditions cost Americans billions in repairs and countless hours in delay. Though China opens a new subway system every year, and Europeans travel from Paris to Frankfurt on high-speed rail, American railroads don’t have the funds needed even to maintain their outmoded infrastructure. Cities are suffering an epidemic of broken pipes and sinkholes, with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating more than 40,000 discharges of raw sewage into our drinking water, streams and homes each year from collapsing and overwhelmed sewage systems. The Education Department found that one-third of our schools are in such a severe state of disrepair that it “interferes with the delivery of instruction.”

These are only some of our challenges.  500,000 jobs lost.  The worst single-month record in thirty-four years.

What lies ahead?

We must move forward unfettered by the ideologies of the past eight years, and several years before that.  The erstwhile Republican Contract with America died a miserably bloated death, choking on pork and fat.  It was a joke.

Remember the great Republican promise?

Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.

How did that work out?

We stand together poised on the brink of an economic Depression: abnormal increases in unemployment, restriction and collapse of credit industries, bankruptcies, reduced trade and commerce, the devaluation of the dollar.

We must stand together and resist the urge to panic.  This is not the time to cry foul at any and all forms of government.  Remember, President Ronald “government-is-not-the-solution-to-our-problem-government-is-the-problem” Reagan grew the Federal Government as no liberal would have dared dream.  His 1983 $165 billion bailout of Social Security was a huge paradigm shift for The Gipper, but it was necessary.

Consider this blast from the past from Joshua Green:

It’s conservative lore that Reagan the icon cut taxes, while George H.W. Bush the renegade raised them. As Stockman recalls, “No one was authorized to talk about tax increases on Ronald Reagan’s watch, no matter what kind of tax, no matter how justified it was.” Yet raising taxes is exactly what Reagan did. He did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly–but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year’s reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike–the largest since World War II–was actually “tax reform” that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn’t count as raising taxes.)

Why the stroll down memory lane?

As liberals, we need to remind conservatives that staunch ideology breeds mindless idiocy.  As liberals we need remind ourselves as well that staunch ideology breeds mindless idiocy.

The crises of the current moment demand we seek solutions beyond our level of comfort.  We won’t make it through these crises simply because we are Americans. The only way to confront the current crises head on is to embrace the inevitable — everything we have known before is now different.  There are industries in this country we risk losing entirely unless we change our thinking and reinvent ourselves.  We can’t transplant solutions from bygone eras.

Everything now is different.  Talk about your moment of Zen.

Change has come to America.  Change always comes to America.  It’s only when we resist or ignore change that we suffer.  Resist change, and our infrastructure — spiritual, economic or concrete — can indeed collapse.

The Democratic Mile High Hug-fest Redux

As Blagoland continues to implode, let’s take a trip back in time and watch the Democrats in Denver this past summer.  Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. started it as he embraced then State Senate Majority Leader now Congresswoman-elect Debbie Halvorson.

Jackson was sincerely moved by the hug with Mayor Richard Daley.

But Speaker Michael J. Madigan and Gov. Blagojevich?  According to a source who was in the room at the time, as they embraced, Blago whispered to Madigan, “I knew he was going to do this!”  And they parted as quickly as they came together.

Jesse’s a good guy. I’m not a fan of his Annual Roast — the humor is far too rancid for my tastes any more — but, in all fairness, Jesse does not start the bad jokes. That comes from all the sauced pols tryining to do stand-up.

But Congressman Jackson has always been there for us in the South Suburbs of Chicagoland when we needed him.

Looking back at all those hugs now, well, wow…. What a difference a few months makes!

Rev. Warren: Obama’s First Big Mistake

Barack Obama and Rev. WarrenNo matter how try to I spin this in my mind, it still makes no sense.

Why did President-elect Barack Obama invite Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration?  Warren is the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, a man who supported Proposition 8 in California, the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Why him?  What kind of pandering is this?  Why honor Homophobia-incarnate front-and-center on such an historic occasion?

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, perhaps put it best in an open letter to the President-elect:

Let me get right to the point.  Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans.   Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years.  And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.

Rick Warren has not sat on the sidelines in the fight for basic equality and fairness.  In fact, Rev. Warren spoke out vocally in support of Prop 8 in California saying, “there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population … This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.”  Furthermore, he continues to misrepresent marriage equality as silencing his religious views. This was a lie during the battle over Proposition 8, and it’s a lie today.

We will forever remember Bill Clinton’s First Big Mistake, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” his infamous collapse as Commander-in-chief before the far right forces of the military?

Has Warren undergone a conversion in the last few weeks?  The HRC has been calling for religious leaders to join the fight against Homophobia for years.  Warren is Homophobia personified.

Sorry, I don’t get it, Barack.

Who’s next?  Bob Jones University President Steven Jones for evening prayer?

Let the pandering begin.

Olbermann on the Bush Shoe Toss

Hilarious all around. Nice job, Keith. Enjoy.

Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoes at President Bush

Showing the bottom of your shoe or shoes is a terrible insult in the Middle East.  Want to top that?  Throw your shoes at your nemesis.

President Bush ducked twice as an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at him during Bush’s farewell trip to Iraq.

From the BBC:

The man, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Iraqi-owned Al-Baghdadiya television based in Egypt, shouted “this is the end” as he hurled them at the American leader.

And someone once told Bush the Iraqis would welcome us as liberators!