He Is Baaccckk….Rod Blagojevich That Is..With His Book

This book is full of interesting tidbits.   What is truth and what is spin is hard to determine, especially since it was written by Rod Blagojevich.  This will not be one that will catch my eye.  The news reports will suffice.

Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says in a new book that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel wanted his help in arranging to leave the Obama administration after two years to reclaim his seat in Congress.

Blagojevich writes in “The Governor” that Emanuel spoke with him about whether it was possible to appoint a “placeholder” to the congressional seat Emanuel was giving up so that he could win back the seat in 2010 and continue his efforts to become speaker some day.

Blagojevich also admits that he wanted something in exchange for appointing President Barack Obama’s replacement in the Senate, but it wasn’t the deal described in federal corruption charges against him.

The Chicago Democrat says that the night before his arrest in December, he had launched a plan to appoint Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat because he hoped to cut a deal on pet projects with her father, powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

That plan was ruined by his arrest. Blagojevich writes that he eventually appointed Roland Burris, in part because of Burris’ famously big ego. No one else but Burris would accept the appointment and fight to be seated under the circumstances, Blagojevich says.

The ex-governor’s 264-page book, published by Phoenix, comes out Sept. 8. It offers a benign picture of events surrounding Blagojevich’s arrest in a corruption scandal that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said would make Abraham Lincoln “roll over in his grave.”

He says his discussions about Obama’s possible successors amounted to “ordinary and routine politicking.”

But federal authorities cast it in a much different light, alleging Blagojevich was caught on FBI wiretaps discussing what he could get in exchange for the seat, from jobs to campaign contributions.

Blagojevich says that story is “upside down” and that he never asked for, or raised the subject of, campaign contributions in exchange for the Senate seat.

Others approached his administration with offers of campaign money, he says in “The Governor” without naming names. “If anyone should have been charged with a crime for this, it should have been them and not me,” he writes.

When Blagojevich talked to Emanuel after the election about the Senate pick, Obama’s right-hand man “did not lobby for anyone in particular,” according to the book.

Blagojevich says Emanuel was interested in his own career because he had to give up his congressional seat to work in Obama’s White House. Blagojevich writes that Emanuel dreamed of being speaker of the U.S. House and wanted to know if Blagojevich would work with him to name a successor to “hold” his seat until he wanted it back.

Blagojevich says he told Emanuel he didn’t think he could do that and the House vacancy would have to be filled by special election. But Emanuel reportedly told him “his lawyers thought there was a way.”

“As we have done for many months, we will continue to decline comment,” Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said in an e-mail Monday.

Blagojevich writes that he struggled with the idea of appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate. The prospect “repulsed” him because of bad blood with her father.

But in the end, Blagojevich saw it as a way to entice Michael Madigan to support legislation he wanted, including a long-stalled statewide construction program that he said would create jobs and expand health care access for families.

Blagojevich says he told his chief of staff, John Harris, to begin working on a deal to appoint Lisa Madigan. The deal was halted when both Blagojevich and Harris were arrested the next day, Dec. 9, 2008.

“Mr. Fitzgerald didn’t stop a crime spree. He stopped me from doing a lot of good for a lot of people,” Blagojevich writes.

Harris has since agreed to testify against Blagojevich after pleading guilty and admitting that he repeatedly talked to the then-governor about ways he could profit from his authority to appoint Obama’s successor.

It’s unclear if the Madigans were aware of Blagojevich’s intentions. Lisa Madigan said last November she thought there was a “less than zero” chance Blagojevich would appoint her.

Madigan’s spokeswomen, Robyn Ziegler, said the attorney general hasn’t read the book and doesn’t intend to.

Madigan was widely seen as a potent challenge to Blagojevich if he ran for a third term in 2010. After he was arrested, Blagojevich writes, he was a “political leper.”

He decided to fill the Senate vacancy by appointing Burris, the former state comptroller and attorney general and the first black man to hold a major statewide office in Illinois. Blagojevich said Burris was qualified and had the self-confidence to accept the appointment despite the scandal.

“It was that self-esteem that I was counting on to be able to withstand the storm of protest that was inevitably going to come,” he said.

What Will Sarah Palin Have To Talk About With Educated Global Investors?

This is astounding.

Why on earth would a group of investors who hear from luminaries such as Al Gore and Alan Greenspan want to listen to the likes of Sarah Palin?  This is a moment for David Letterman to write the punch line.

Former U.S. vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, once questioned about her lack of foreign policy experience, will make her first trip to Asia in September.

The former Alaska governor will visit Hong Kong to address the CLSA Investors Forum, a well-known annual conference of global investment managers, the host announced Monday.

Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Alan Greenspan have spoken at the event, hosted by brokerage and investment group CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

Then in the news story comes this shocker.

It will be closed to the media, and the topic has not yet been confirmed.

With Sarah Palin can it be any other way?

Special Election Date Set For Senator Kennedy’s Term

Jan 19th, 2010.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has set Jan. 19 as the date for a special election to fill the final three years of Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate term. Patrick also pleaded Monday for the state legislature to allow him to appoint a replacement for Kennedy who would serve until that election.

With speculation swirling around the Kennedy family’s interest in keeping the seat in the family’s hands, Patrick said that the senator’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, has told him she is not interested in either the interim appointment or running for the seat in the January special election. Family friends have reaffirmed that disinterest in recent days.

In trying to avoid a political campaign around the holidays, Patrick established a process that will set party primaries on Dec. 8, before a general campaign of roughly six weeks. Several members of the state’s congressional delegation are weighing their prospects in such a race, as is Kennedy’s nephew, former representative Joseph Kennedy II (D-Mass.). He retired from the House 11 years ago but still maintains a leftover campaign account of $1.8 million, funds that could be legally transferred into a Senate bid.

Paul Krugman: Missing Richard Nixon

One of the must reads in the newspaper this morning. 

Many of the retrospectives on Ted Kennedy’s life mention his regret that he didn’t accept Richard Nixon’s offer of a bipartisan health care deal. The moral some commentators take from that regret is that today’s health care reformers should do what Mr. Kennedy balked at doing back then, and reach out to the other side.

But it’s a bad analogy, because today’s political scene is nothing like that of the early 1970s. In fact, surveying current politics, I find myself missing Richard Nixon.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Nixon was surely the worst person other than Dick Cheney ever to control the executive branch.

But the Nixon era was a time in which leading figures in both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy, and in which policy decisions weren’t as warped by corporate cash as they are now. America is a better country in many ways than it was 35 years ago, but our political system’s ability to deal with real problems has been degraded to such an extent that I sometimes wonder whether the country is still governable.

As many people have pointed out, Nixon’s proposal for health care reform looks a lot like Democratic proposals today. In fact, in some ways it was stronger. Right now, Republicans are balking at the idea of requiring that large employers offer health insurance to their workers; Nixon proposed requiring that all employers, not just large companies, offer insurance.

Nixon also embraced tighter regulation of insurers, calling on states to “approve specific plans, oversee rates, ensure adequate disclosure, require an annual audit and take other appropriate measures.” No illusions there about how the magic of the marketplace solves all problems.

So what happened to the days when a Republican president could sound so nonideological, and offer such a reasonable proposal?

Part of the answer is that the right-wing fringe, which has always been around — as an article by the historian Rick Perlstein puts it, “crazy is a pre-existing condition” — has now, in effect, taken over one of our two major parties. Moderate Republicans, the sort of people with whom one might have been able to negotiate a health care deal, have either been driven out of the party or intimidated into silence. Whom are Democrats supposed to reach out to, when Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who was supposed to be the linchpin of any deal, helped feed the “death panel” lies?

But there’s another reason health care reform is much harder now than it would have been under Nixon: the vast expansion of corporate influence.

We tend to think of the way things are now, with a huge army of lobbyists permanently camped in the corridors of power, with corporations prepared to unleash misleading ads and organize fake grass-roots protests against any legislation that threatens their bottom line, as the way it always was. But our corporate-cash-dominated system is a relatively recent creation, dating mainly from the late 1970s.

And now that this system exists, reform of any kind has become extremely difficult. That’s especially true for health care, where growing spending has made the vested interests far more powerful than they were in Nixon’s day. The health insurance industry, in particular, saw its premiums go from 1.5 percent of G.D.P. in 1970 to 5.5 percent in 2007, so that a once minor player has become a political behemoth, one that is currently spending $1.4 million a day lobbying Congress.

That spending fuels debates that otherwise seem incomprehensible. Why are “centrist” Democrats like Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota so opposed to letting a public plan, in which Americans can buy their insurance directly from the government, compete with private insurers? Never mind their often incoherent arguments; what it comes down to is the money.

Given the combination of G.O.P. extremism and corporate power, it’s now doubtful whether health reform, even if we get it — which is by no means certain — will be anywhere near as good as Nixon’s proposal, even though Democrats control the White House and have a large Congressional majority.

And what about other challenges? Every desperately needed reform I can think of, from controlling greenhouse gases to restoring fiscal balance, will have to run the same gantlet of lobbying and lies.

I’m not saying that reformers should give up. They do, however, have to realize what they’re up against. There was a lot of talk last year about how Barack Obama would be a “transformational” president — but true transformation, it turns out, requires a lot more than electing one telegenic leader. Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system.

Political Trivia About The Green Bay Packers

Surrounded by food and tea on Saturday, James and I watched a day-long tribute and funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.  One of the things I discovered was this bit of political trivia.

Along with sailing, Sen. Kennedy had a zeal for a number of activities from painting to skiing to rodeo riding, the brothers said. He was recruited to join the Green Bay Packers football team as a young man but decided to go to law school instead.

Since this was news to me I did some research on the internet and found more about this new piece of information from Senator Kennedy’s homepage.

On November 20, 1955, in a 21-7 defeat to Yale, Harvard’s lone score came on a low five-yard pass that was snared by #88, the Senior Right End Ted Kennedy.

Just one month earlier, Kennedy’s promise on the football field had caught the notice of Green Bay Packer Head Coach Lisle Blackbourn. “You have been very highly recommended to us by a number of coaches in your area and also by our talent scouts as a possible Pro Prospect,” Blackbourn wrote to the young Right End.

Kennedy declined the offer, saying he was flattered, but that he had plans to attend law school and to ‘go into another contact sport, politics’.

America is glad he made the right decision.  Packer fans might want to consider what Ted Kennedy on the team might have meant.

If Kennedy had changed course and made the Packers’ roster in 1956, he would have joined future pro football Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Forrest Gregg as rookies that year.

In 1960, Packers head coach Vince Lombardi gave Kennedy’s brother John his endorsement for the Presidency.  John Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon in that election.

A year later, JFK personally made sure running back Paul Hornung, linebacker Ray Nitschke and wide receiver Boyd Dowler passes from the U.S. Army so they would be available to play in the NFL Championship game on December 31st, 1961 against  the New York Giants.

The Packers won that game, 37-0, to take their first of five NFL titles from 1961-67.

To take this sports story one step further, Ted Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy, tried to get his son to be recruited by the Chicago Bears.

From the book The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy:

… Joe Sr. was ecstatic at his son’s prowess and prevailed upon a connection at the Chicago Bears to give his son a tryout. The six-foot-two, 200 pound Ted put on the pads, “took two or three hits, and said he’d never been so frightened in his life,” recalls former Harvard roommate Ted Carey.

How Health Care Reform Will Benefit You

The Committee for Energy and Commerce has prepared, for each house member, a district-level analysis of the impact of the legislation to reform health care. This analysis includes information on the impact of the legislation on small businesses, seniors in Medicare, health care providers, and the uninsured. It also includes an estimate of the impacts of the surtax that is used to pay for the legislation.

Click here and see how you and your neighbors will benefit from health care reform.  Making  a moral choice to help all those in your community to receive health care while working to keep insurance companies under control, and lowering the increases in medical care is a winning formula for America.

Tell your member of Congress to support health care reform today!  Tell them to VOTE YES  on H.R. 3200.

Benefits Of Health Choices Act In 2nd Congressional District Of Wisconsin

The shouters and cranks at the health care meetings around the nation have neglected to mention what the merits of the proposed health care reform would mean to the various congressional districts around the nation.  The Committee for Energy and Commerce has prepared, for each house member, a district-level analysis of the impact of the legislation. This analysis includes information on the impact of the legislation on small businesses, seniors in Medicare, health care providers, and the uninsured. It also includes an estimate of the impacts of the surtax that is used to pay for the legislation.

Now you can know the benefits from health care reform for the area where you live by clicking here.

In my area, the 2nd congressional district in Wisconsin, the numbers break down this way. 

America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin: up to 17,000 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 4,800 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 950 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $117 million in uncompensated care each year; and 41,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.  

Help for small businesses.

Under the legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 17,000 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits.

  • Help for seniors with drug costs in the Part D donut hole.
  • Each year, 4,800 seniors in the district hit the donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. The legislation would provide them with immediate relief, cutting brand name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and ultimately eliminate the donut hole.

  • Health care and financial security.
  • There were 950 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill provides health insurance for almost every American and caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $10,000 per year, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.

  • Relieving the burden of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers.
  • In 2008, health care providers in the district provided $117 million worth of uncompensated care, care that was provided to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care would be virtually eliminated.

  • Coverage of the uninsured.
  • There are 63,000 uninsured individuals in the district, 9% of the district. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nationwide, 97% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 41,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.

  • No deficit spending.
  • The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surtax on the income of the wealthiest individuals. This surtax would affect only 3,600 households in the district. The surtax would not affect 99% of taxpayers in the district.

    Health Care In Heaven