[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/15/blagojevich/art.blagojevich.gi.jpg caption="Gov. Rod Blagojevich spent nearly eight hours Sunday talking to a high-priced Chicago attorney."]
John P. McCormick
The Chicago Tribune
At my first newspaper job in Iowa, an angry labor leader said he wanted to castrate me because of something I'd written. During 18 years as a correspondent for Newsweek, the only threat of dismissal that reached my ears came from a New York editor who thought I insufficiently admired two of her precious writers. So you can imagine the surprise last week when I learned that the governor of Illinois allegedly was threatening to withhold $100 million or more in state financing help from the Chicago Tribune's parent company unless the paper fired me.
A criminal complaint from the U.S. Justice Department quotes surreptitious FBI taping of Gov. Rod Blagojevich discussing the Tribune's editorial board. "Our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support," he allegedly says on Nov. 4. A Nov. 21 recording allegedly has the governor asking his chief of staff, John Harris, whether "McCormick is going to get bounced at the Tribune." Harris responds that I am "the most biased and unfair" of the editorial writers; Blagojevich chimes in that I'm a "bad guy." More conversations ensue. But when the Tribune hasn't buckled by Dec. 5, the governor asks "what's the deal. So, do McCormick stays [sic] at the Tribune, huh?"
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/15/art.black.caucus.jpg caption="Congressional Black Caucus announced new leadership in November 2008."]
Jack and Jill Politics
William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson’s defeat to Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American Republican, puts another majority African-American district under a Congressional representative that is NOT an African-American. If anyone has followed the Congressional Black Caucus for years, the main reason why it was formed was to make sure that African-Americans would have their voices heard in Congress.
In fact, the demographics of most of the members are largely African-American. So, it would stand to reason that if a majority African-American district does not have an African-American representative in the House of Representatives, shouldn’t their representatives join or engage in the caucus that would educate them about the needs of their district and allow them to effectively represent their district?
If Cao is denied membership in the CBC, he wouldn’t be the first non-African-American denied membership. Two years ago, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) took over the Dark Sith’s old seat in Congress and one of his first acts was to seek membership in the CBC, per his campaign promise to the voters who elected him.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/30/art.liveblog.jpg]Here's how you can be a part of tonight's program. Just scroll down and share your thoughts on tonight's stories.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/12/15/shoe.reporter.profile/art.shoe.suspect.bgdtv.jpg caption="TV reporter Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in a file photo, was jailed after throwing his shoes at President Bush."]Maureen Miller
It was a strange weekend for Pres. Bush. By now, I'm betting you saw the video of Mr. Bush ducking as two shoes were thrown at him during a news conference in Iraq. If not, click here to see the drama. We're impressed with Pres. Bush's quick reflexes. And, gosh, it was nice of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki tried to reach out and stop the second shoe.
The man who tossed his size 10 shoes is Iraqi journalist Muntather Zaidi. He's a correspondent for Baghdadiya, a satellite TV channel that's out of Cairo, Egypt.
"This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog," Zaidi said, according to a pool translation.
Zaidi is being hailed as a hero to many in the Arab world and beyond.
What do you think of the incident?
Should Zaidi face jail time for what he did?
We'll have all the angles on this story. We're also following tonight's other headlines, including the possibility of another Senator Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy would love to have Sen. Hillary Clinton's job when she moves over to the State Dept. But some people say Ms. Kennedy is not fit for the job.
Join us for all that and more at 10pm ET.
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai talks as President George W. Bush listens during a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. President Bush arrived in Afghanistan after a making a farewell visit to Iraq.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/15/art.kennedy.gi.jpg caption="Kennedy is interested in Clinton's Senate seat."]
Caroline Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy, has a "definite interest" in filling the New York Senate seat being vacated by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, three sources confirm to CNN.
Two of the sources are close to Kennedy and the third is a senior Democratic operative. Kennedy's interest in the seat could mean the continuation of a family legacy in the Senate that began 56 years ago with the election of her father as the then-junior senator from Massachusetts.
Her uncle Ted has represented Massachusetts in the Senate since 1963. Her uncle Robert served as New York's junior senator from 1965 until he was assassinated in 1968.
"Remember, this (Clinton's) seat in the Senate was once held by Robert Kennedy," CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider said. "Her other uncle, Ted Kennedy, is ill right now. If (New York Gov. David) Paterson appoints Caroline Kennedy to the Senate, it means there could be a Kennedy staying in the Senate for quite a long time."
Before this year, Kennedy generally limit her forays into the public sphere to non-partisan activity, penning books on civil liberties and serving as the de facto guardian of her father's legacy.
But in January, she backed a political candidate for the first time, announcing her endorsement of Obama during the Democratic primary season with an op-ed in the New York Times that drew days of the kind of media attention she has spent her life avoiding.
"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them," she wrote. "But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president - not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."
"Apparently she has acquired a taste for politics," Schneider noted. "She wants to be part of this new regime in America, clearly playing a key role in the Senate if she gets that appointment."
- CNN's John King and Kate Bolduan, and Mark Preston contributed
to this report.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.governor/art.gov.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges."]
The Wall Street Journal
Chicagoans and Illinoisans love political scandal the way that Milanese love opera.
We trade recollections, like baseball cards, about the secretary of state (Paul Powell) who stashed money in shoeboxes, and the Chicago mayor (Harold Washington) whose birthday was April 15 but never filed his income tax return.
Rod Blagojevich stands a chance to be the fourth Illinois governor in recent history, and the second in a row, to wind up in prison. This run suggests that Illinoisans are indifferent to political corruption, and it's hard to argue with such an impressive procession of felonious officials.
But all of Illinois' disgraced former governors were considered honest pols when they were elected. Otto Kerner had gone to Cambridge, won the Bronze Star, and was a respected judge. Dan Walker was a self-righteous reformer of such blatant rectitude that he managed to cast Illinois Congressman Paul Simon - bow-tied Paul Simon, a man who wouldn't try to sneak a tenth apple into a Nine Items or Less checkout line - as a stooge for the Chicago machine. George Ryan was considered a slightly frumpy small-town druggist who would keep a wary eye on Chicago sharpies. Mr. Blagojevich, for that matter, ran as a fresh face to chase out Ryan's stale old ways.
I leave it to biographers and psychiatrists to ponder if these governors of both parties were honest men who got corrupted in high office, or lifelong crooks who had simply been waiting for the opportunity.
President-elect Barack Obama has never been close to Mr. Blagojevich. He has aligned with the Daley division of the fractured Democratic machine, while Mr. Blagojevich, chiefly through the sponsorship of his father-in-law, a powerful Chicago alderman, has been from that faction that has always resented the mayor's good fortune for being born with the Daley name.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/12/14/bush.iraq/art.shoes.bush.afp.gi.jpg caption="President Bush, left, ducks a thrown shoe as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki tries to protect him Sunday."]
AC360 Associate Producer
Just call it payback for the time Helen Thomas threw her stiletto heel at Nuri al-Maliki. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, an Iraqi journalist threw his wingtips at President Bush in Baghdad Sunday. Apparently the man was upset he had missed former Payless Shoes spokeswoman Star Jones’s USO tour. Frankly, I think people should be less concerned that the president had shoes thrown at him and more concerned that he was later spotted wearing them.
Meanwhile the resignation watch continues in Illinois, where Rod “Where the #$&@ is my blow dryer?” Blagojevich remains in office. He and his wife, Patty, had a relatively low-key weekend, meeting with advisors and mugging Salvation Army bell-ringers. In fact, they were so low-key about it that they probably would have gone unnoticed by the press had Mrs. Blagojevich not been wearing her coat made from the fur of 101 Dalmatians.
CNN Congressional Producer
If Treasury Secretary Paulson wants to draw down the second $350 billion, the TARP law requires that Congress be notified within three days. It then has the ability to offer a resolution of disapproval to block the money.
The resolution would have to get a majority in the House and Senate. The President could veto it – if that happens, Congress would need 2/3 majority vote to override the veto.
On December 3rd, an aide to House GOP Leader John Boehner says Boehner talked to Paulson and that “Boehner told him the votes weren't there on the Republican side to get the second installment so basically they would have to rely on Democrats for support.”
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/15/art.shoe.arab.jpg caption="An Iraqi shouts as he holds up a slipper and a sign as they protest against yesterday's visit by US President George W. Bush and the arrest of an Iraqi journalist in Sadr City."]
CNN Arab Affairs Editor
He threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at the end of the opening statements of a joint press conference in which Mr. Bush bid farewell to Iraq and sealed the security agreement known as SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement). Although, many elevated the shoe-thrower to the level of “national hero,” some put him in the wrong and called what he did “shameful.”
His name is Munthadar al-Zaidi, a reporter for a new Iraqi station called Al-Baghdadiya (The Baghdadi). The station was founded in 2005 and al-Zaidi has worked there since its inception. On its website, Al-Baghdadiya explains that “it is an independent station that broadcasts out of Cairo with offices in Baghdad and Cairo. It is owned by Iraqi businessman and engineer Aoun Hussein Tashlook and has no affiliations to any persons or groups.”
At the end of the press conference, President Bush shook hands with his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki, then turned around and said in Arabic as he is looking towards the audience, “Shukran Jazeelan” meaning “Thank you very much.”
At this very moment, al-Zaidi stood up held his shoe up, aimed and shot it towards President Bush. The president ducked and avoided the fast flying shoe. Then al-Zaidi threw the second shoe and shouted, “This is a farewell you dog.” as he was pinned down by security personnel present in the room.
The image of President Bush ducking and President Maliki’s hand trying to protect him from the second flying shoe is plastered on the front pages of every major Arabic newspaper with a variety of captions. Ranging from, “A twin-shoe attack almost hits President Bush in the face. This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people you dog” In Lebanon’s Assafir newspaper, to a headline in the Saudi-owned, London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that reads, “Iraqi reporter throws a pair of shoes at Bush and Maliki. Bush bids farewell to Baghdad stressing that what happened is important for Iraqis to get a taste of freedom.”