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January 7th, 2009
04:14 PM ET

Blagojevich calls Dems’ bluff

Program note: Tune in to 360° tonight for more on the drama surrounding Blagojevich’s Senate appointment.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris

Dana Bash
CNN Sr. Congressional Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) Senate Democrats have no choice but to change their tone because Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich “called our bluff” in appointing someone over their objections, a senior Democratic congressional source conceded Wednesday.

“We tried to send a political signal to Blagojevich that we would not seat someone he appointed. He called our bluff, in a reckless way,” said the Democratic source.

A second senior Democratic source said it had clearly become a “heightened situation” that needed to be dealt with and that Burris’ face to face meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin really helped to establish a “person to person dialogue.”

A third senior Democratic source simply demurred that Democrats changed their tone after they “looked more into the situation.”

It is also noteworthy that Reid and Durbin went out of their way, unsolicited, to note this matter was not about race, noting that Burris himself had told them that

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Filed under: Dana Bash • Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • Roland Burris
January 7th, 2009
04:07 PM ET

I was fleeced by Madoff

Bernard Madoff strolls down New York's Lexington Avenue after news of the scandal breaks.

Bernard Madoff strolls down New York's Lexington Avenue after news of the scandal breaks.

Geneen Roth
Salon.com

I was standing in my kitchen wondering what to have for lunch when my friend Taj called.

"Sit down," she said.

I thought she was going to tell me she had just gotten the haircut from hell. I laughed and said, "It can't be that bad."

But it was. Before the phone call I had 30 years of retirement savings in a "safe" fund with a brilliant financial guru. When I put down the phone, my savings were gone and my genius financial guru, Bernie Madoff, was in handcuffs. I felt as if I had died and, for some unknown reason, was still breathing.

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Filed under: Finance • Wall St.
January 7th, 2009
03:06 PM ET

Gaza: What Arabs are watching

A Palestinian boy runs for cover following an Israeli airstrike Monday in Rafa, in southern Gaza.

A Palestinian boy runs for cover following an Israeli airstrike Monday in Rafa, in southern Gaza.

Octavia Nasr
Arab Affairs Editor

The Arab world watches the bombardment of Gaza – and Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel – through the lenses of networks like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. With a special focus on Palestinian casualties that is often emotional – sometimes angry.

An Al-Arabiya report shows a young body being resuscitated in an emergency room as the reporter says, "The wholesale baby killing continues in Gaza.. This baby was sleeping with his siblings when the Israeli strikes hit.. He died along with his brothers.. and his mother.. and his grandfather.. and his uncles.. Only his father is left surrounded by piles of sorrow." At this point the weeping father says, “They’re all gone.. I have no one left...”

The Arab networks are pumping out round-the-clock coverage of the situation in Gaza – many of them have reporters and cameramen there. So they are witnesses to the effects of Israeli air strikes and shelling...

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Filed under: Crisis in Gaza • Octavia Nasr
January 7th, 2009
02:29 PM ET

Yes, free Gaza — from terrorist tyranny

Palestinians in Rafah look over the remains Wednesday of buildings destroyed by Israeli bombardment.

Palestinians in Rafah look over the remains Wednesday of buildings destroyed by Israeli bombardment.

Reda Mansour
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Some of the Arab and Muslim demonstrators who recently came to our offices were holding signs that said “Free Gaza.” Many Israelis would raise that same sign, me included, but for different reasons. People tend to forget that as of August 2005, Israel has not been in Gaza, and that the Gazans have been under Hamas control since June 2007. Indeed, Gaza needs to be freed from many different extremist forces.

Gaza should be freed from Hamas, a terrorist organization that seized the strip by force. Since the takeover, Hamas has run Gaza’s economy into the ground and now nearly half of the work force is unemployed. Hamas has built a Taliban-style state in Gaza and introduced many of the Islamic Shari’a laws, institutionalizing the persecution of women and minorities.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestine
January 7th, 2009
02:23 PM ET

Larry Flynt? Publicity stunt? Never!!

Rebecca Sinderbrand and Mark Preston
CNN

Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

“The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three,” said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. “The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine.”

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January 7th, 2009
01:41 PM ET

Q&A with Candy Crowley: Obama's challenges..and his lunch

Barack Obama meets with President Bush and past presidents in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

Barack Obama meets with President Bush and past presidents in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

CNN's Candy Crowley and Kyra Phillips

Candy Crowley: I think that right now, especially this week and next, we need to kind of look at things as part of the sales job. What Barack Obama needs to do and needs to do quickly is get that stimulus bill passed and on his desk.

Candy Crowley: So what are the things that he is hearing, what are the things that are bubbling up in terms of concerns about it. Well, one of them is, the government is over a trillion dollars in debt, that is the forecast of the deficit, and what he is doing today, is not just fulfilling a campaign promise, and he did talk about the CPO, this particular position, not just fulfilling that, but saying, I am looking at the deficit, its ok, I have things in place for midterm and long term which will bring government spending, and here is the head of my team. Timing is pretty interesting for the CPO and I think we have to look at it as part of the sales job.

Kyra Phillips: Ok, and of course the economy. What did Obama say about that today. I understand that it was a news conference.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Candy Crowley • Raw Politics
January 7th, 2009
12:53 PM ET

Defending the Panetta Pick

Leon Panetta's nomination to lead the CIA is under scrutiny primarily because he lacks intelligence experience.

Leon Panetta's nomination to lead the CIA is under scrutiny primarily because he lacks intelligence experience.

John P.Avlon
AC360° Contributor

Leon Panetta is an unexpected pick to head the CIA, but he just might be the right man to restore Americans' confidence and internal morale in the organization. Panetta is known for his personal integrity as a California Congressman, fiscal responsibility as OMB director, and his management ability as Bill Clinton's best chief of staff. He views U.S. policy in a holistic manner, and he won't approach the CIA as a personal fiefdom – an approach which has dogged past presidents.

We are, of course, at war – and it might have been preferable to have an experienced intelligence hand at the helm, as Senator Diane Feinstein said in her terse statement after being blindsided by the nomination trial-balloon. But the experienced John Brennan – Obama's campaign intelligence advisor and considered the favorite for the job – was forced out of contention after netroot activists questioned whether he was insufficiently opposed to Bush-era policies like rendition. And the major mistakes which have bedeviled the CIA in the past – such as failing to anticipate the fall of the Soviet Union or the attacks of September 11th – have occurred with internal experts at the helm.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • John P. Avlon
January 7th, 2009
11:19 AM ET

Deal with it, Burris is a senator

Former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris makes his way to the Capitol on Tuesday.

Former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris makes his way to the Capitol on Tuesday.

Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor

It is total hypocrisy for the naysayers of embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to assert that he didn't have the legal right to appoint Roland Burris to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

According to the Illinois Constitution, the governor of the state has the sole responsibility for appointing the replacement. Did Blagojevich resign, or has he been impeached? Nope. If you call Springfield, Illinois, and ask for the governor's office, they'll tell you that Blagojevich's name is still on the door.

It seems a lot of folks are excited and happy that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White took a stand by refusing to sign the paperwork certifying Burris as the Senate appointee.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Roland S. Martin
January 7th, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Lethal rockets

Anderson Cooper takes an up close look at primitive, but deadly Hamas rockets.

Post by:
Filed under: Crisis in Gaza
January 7th, 2009
10:44 AM ET

American Girl

Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Atlantic

The first time I saw Michelle Obama in the flesh, I almost took her for white. It was late July. Pundits were taking whispered bets on the fate of Hillary Clinton’s female supporters. In part to heal the intraparty rift, and in part to raise some cash, Obama was presiding over a Chicago luncheon for Democratic women.

They were an opulent, multiracial, mostly middle-aged bunch, in pantsuits and conservative dresses. Clinton-turned-Obama staffer Patti Solis Doyle waved from the floor when she was introduced. One of Clinton’s longtime backers appealed for unity. Only a few weeks earlier, Obama had appeared on The View in a striking black-and-white floral dress. Now, throughout the room, some of the women were decked out in their best version of that number. Obama flashed her trademark sense of humor, her long arms cutting the air, as she made her points.

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Filed under: Michelle Obama
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