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MICKEY KAUS: “Hierarchy Recalibration! Let the record show that Rod Blagojevich, sitting governor of Illinois, the fifth largest state in the union, was apparently willing to sell a U.S. Senate seat and his soul, and abandon his office, for a job paying less money ($250,000-$300,000) than is made by several hosts on National Public Radio.” In Blagojevich’s defense, the soul was used, and in poor condition.

DEMOCRATS HIT ROUGH PATCH: “Over a period of fewer than 10 days, Democrats have seen their nominee go down in defeat in the Georgia Senate runoff – eliminating the prospect of a filibuster-proof majority – lost two winnable House races in Louisiana and witnessed House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) sink deeper into ethics trouble. Then there’s the still-unfolding Illinois Senate debacle, which exposed Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s tawdry attempts to auction off President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat and forced Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to hold a press conference Wednesday denying any inappropriate discussions with the governor.”

And there’s still the Chris Dodd “Friends of Angelo” business simmering in the background. . . .

WHILE OBAMA TALKS, Tony Rezko sings!

UPDATE: Rahm Emanuel ducks questions.

Related item here.

MORE: A huge distraction at the worst possible moment!

NYT: THE S.E.I.U., BLAGOJEVICH, AND OBAMA: Union Linked to Corruption Scandal. Final sentence: “Mr. Stern has named a panel of experts to develop a tougher ethical code for the union.” Sounds like they’ve read the book!

MICHELLE MALKIN AND I talk about Blagojevich, Obama, Chris Dodd, Charles Rangel, William Jefferson, Eliot Spitzer, and a host of other political and moral leaders, on PJTV.

JOHN KASS: By Chicago standards, Blagojevich isn’t crazy.

Plus, Emanuel and Blagojevich.

UPDATE: Obama’s Whitewater?

OOPS: Blagojevich Scandal Claims Another Victim.

IT’S NOT JUST BLAGOJEVICH: Rangel’s Problems Dog Democrats. Then there’s Chris Dodd . . . .

POLITICO: Blagojevich questions censored on Transition site.

President-elect Barack Obama’s Transition today launched “Open for Questions,” a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another’s questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list.

It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama’s supporters appear to be using — and abusing — a tool allowing them to “flag” questions as “inappropriate” to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama’s website. . . . So far, Obama’s team does not seem to have stepped in to allow uncomfortable questions to rise to the top, and instead is allowing his supporters to sanitize the site.

Hope and change!

UPDATE: Stories on Obama/Blagojevich go down the memory hole.

Well, he promised the most transparent administration in history — and this stuff is, well, pretty transparent!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Blair: “It’s all an unwelcome distraction.”

Gawker: “The same Obamatards who voted up total blowjob questions on the Digg-like question section of Change.gov have, all too predictably, almost completely obliterated any question mentioning ROD BLAGOJEVICH. In fact, if you mention ROD BLAGOJEVICH in your question, at all, even totally politely in a relevant way, your question will not only be voted down but ‘removed’ (says the site) as ‘inappropriate,’ visible only through a specific search for ROD BLAGOJEVICH.” Hmm, group censorship of uncomfortable subjects. Nothing creepy about that on a political site. Hope and change!

UPDATE: Reader Steve Nelson writes:

Notice the problem with Obama’s websites?

Neither he nor his staff is censoring the comments…. but they’ve set the site up to allow others to do so.

Neither he nor his staff asked for any illegal foreign contributions, or for contributions from obviously false donors….. they just disabled the standard controls and credit card checks to allow it to happen.

They didn’t have any ties to whacky characters with extreme ideas…. but the campaign website allowed anyone to set up a “blog” and put out the propaganda.

In each case, Obama and his staff were careful to leave no directly illegal / unethical fingerprints of their own….. but they sure made it easy for “supporters unknown” to do so through their IT systems.

Deniability — it’s built right in.

An army of grifters.

A CULTURE OF CORRUPTION. “For the last three years, Democratic leaders cheered GOP ethics woes. Dean accused Republicans of making ‘their culture of corruption the norm.’ Pelosi touted cleanliness as a liberal virtue. But with the eye-popping pay-for-play and bribery case against Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich topping a year of nationwide Democratic scandals, the corruption chickens are coming home to roost.”

UPDATE: Bill Quick: “Obviously, the only thing that can clear the air – and Obama’s reputation – is for George Bush to appoint a Special Counsel, preferably Fitzgerald himself, to investigate every slimy strand of this mess.” Then I guess we need one for the Countrywide scandal, too . . . .

ANN ALTHOUSE: “Why am I getting the feeling that the mainstream media will do what it can to obliterate the connection between Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama?”

KATIE GRANJU: Axelrod recants on Blagojevich; I don’t. “So I’m supposed to believe that Axelrod ‘misspoke’ when he said he knew that his boss had spoken with the governor? Because I don’t. Either Axelrod is lying or Obama is lying. That’s my position based on my knowledge of how politics works, and the evidence so far.”

UPDATE: The real news from Chicago. “Sure, the name Rod Blagojevich came into the story, but each announcer in turn tripped over himself to assure the audience that BARACK OBAMA HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Via Katie Granju’s comments, here’s a story about Obama meeting with Blagojevich to talk about filling his Senate seat. [LATER: Hmm, that story has mysteriously vanished. But Katie posted an excerpt here. More on that story here.]

MORE: ABC News: Sources Say Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Is ‘Senate Candidate No. 5’.

Plus, questions for Obama.

STILL MORE: John McGinnis writes: “Edwards was right all along. There really are 2 Americas — Those that are on the take, and those that are not.”

MORE STILL: From Tom Maguire. “Axelrod lied plenty of times on the Ayers story, so the idea that he is saying what is expedient, rather than true, is pretty familiar. And clearly someone from the Obama side told someone from the Blago side that they would not play ball. I suppose the potentially embarrassing question is whether the Obama side then mentioned this to Prosecutor Fitzgerald.”

A BLAGOJEVICH INSTA-POLL:

How big will the Blagojevich scandals turn out to be?
Huge, like Watergate or Monica Lewinsky.
Middling, but not a big deal.
Minor, like the Hamilton Jordan Studio 54 allegations.
pollcode.com free polls

BLAGOJEVICH: “Vengeful and Profane.” Doesn’t sound like he’s going to get much support from the media, or fellow Democratic politicians.

Meanwhile, Eugene Volokh has some legal questions, and Jim Lindgren looks at the timeline.

UPDATE: A suggestion that the Obama team has been working with Fitzgerald.

JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS: Questions Arise About the Obama/Blagojevich Relationship.

UPDATE: Action in Illinois: “In separate statements, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones said they will call a special legislative session next week to repeal the state law that now gives the governor the power to fill Mr. Obama’s seat. Both said they will press instead for a special election to fill the remaining two years of Mr. Obama’s term.”

MORE: How Deep Is This Muck?

Plus, What happens next?

ANDY STERN: “A Democratic source confirms that SEIU President Andy Stern is the ‘SEIU official’ referred to in the federal complaint against Rod Blagojevich.”

UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Investor’s Business Daily.

KATIE GRANJU: Note to President-Elect Obama: just tell the truth. “No more lies, please, Mr. President-Elect. Come clean on whatever your dealings have been with Blagojevich in this matter, and let’s put it behind us and move on.”

UPDATE: Time is already calling this BlagoGate.

Fans of Jerry Pournelle’s future history will remember Greg Tolland. Obama was already reminding me of him a bit. Now, a bit more.

MAKING THINGS CLEAR: “The U.S. Attorney in Chicago says his office is making ‘no allegations’ that President-elect Barack Obama was aware of any alleged scheming by arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.”

THE CHICAGO WAY: Illinois Gov. Blagojevich, chief of staff, arrested. “In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself 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.”

UPDATE: Another chance to play Name That Party!

ANOTHER UPDATE: “Simply put, it is the most breathtaking corruption scandal in the history of Illinois politics.” Now that’s saying something!

A copy of the criminal complaint is here. (PDF).

MORE: Related? A complaint on the Rezko/Obama land deal.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Rezko courthouse visits fuel rumors he’s talking. “Convicted political fixer Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko has been quietly visiting Chicago’s federal courthouse, setting off speculation that he may be spilling secrets to federal prosecutors in return for a lenient sentence. Prosecutors investigating Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration would plainly like to hear what Rezko knows, and there is plenty of incentive to talk.” (Via NewsAlert).

HOW WELL HAS CHICAGO’S DRACONIAN GUN CONTROL WORKED? This well:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday raised the possibility of bringing in state troopers or even the Illinois National Guard to help Chicago combat a recent increase in violent crime — an offer that Mayor Richard Daley didn’t know was coming.

They told me that if George W. Bush were re-elected, we’d see the militarization of law enforcement, and troops called out in the streets as Americans were deprived of basic constitutional liberties. And they were right!

GUILTY: “Tony Rezko — the high-flying developer and fast-food magnate who was once a major campaign fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and one of the governor’s closest advisers — is now a convicted felon. A federal jury in Chicago convicted Rezko this afternoon on 16 of 24 charges he faced in a political corruption trial that cast a harsh light on the Blagojevich administration. . . . Now, facing the prospect of prison time in the corruption case, as well as two additional criminal trials on unrelated charges, Rezko is under pressure to cooperate with the continuing investigations.” (Via JWF).

HOW THEY DO THINGS IN CHICAGO: Alderman OKd zoning for developers who retained his wife as sales agent. She sold homes worth $22 million.

UPDATE: A Blagojevich angle.

THE LAW IS FOR LITTLE PEOPLE (CONT’D): Here’s more on unregistered gun-owning Chicago alderman Dick Mell: “His son-in-law just happens to be Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. . . . The rest, as they say, is Rezko.”

Plus, “Like you and me, only better.”

REZKO UPDATE: “This afternoon, in the courtroom where Illinois political fundraiser Tony Rezko is on trial for corruption, prosecutors played a recorded phone call in which two of Rezko’s alleged co-schemers discussed Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s knowledge of a conspiracy to extort a businessman named Tom Rosenberg. This is a pretty big deal.” More here.

MORE REZKO SCANDAL NEWS: “In their strongest language yet, federal prosecutors said Tuesday that Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration granted access and influence to Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko because of his prowess as a fundraiser for the governor. Rezko’s role as a key Blagojevich insider is essential to understanding how he was able to extort illegal payments and a campaign contribution from firms seeking state business, prosecutors said in a motion filed a week before Rezko’s corruption trial is set to begin.” (Via NewsAlert.)

ANOTHER BLAGOJEVICH SCANDAL, in the Chicago Tribune: “Federal agents are investigating real estate deals involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s wife as part of a three-year corruption probe into allegations of favoritism and fraud within his administration.” (Via NewsAlert).

UPDATE: Name that party! Will Collier emails: “The Chicago Tribune story on Blagojevich you linked to does not contain the word ‘Democrat.'” Yeah. Chicagoans know, of course, but the Trib is supposed to be a national paper. And I had to stop and think myself.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Harmon Ward emails: “Won’t leaving ‘Democrat’ or ‘Democratic’ out of the articles that also contain the word “Corruption” reduce the instances of finding those articles when they are Googled?” Good point. I doubt that’s their goal, but it is still significant.

AP EXCLUSIVE: Blagojevich and extortion.

NOT MY IDEA OF AIDE MATERIAL: “A high-ranking official in Gov. Blagojevich’s office spent nearly two years in a federal prison for refusing to aid a government terrorism probe into a series of bombings in Chicago and New York City.” (Via Hot Air).

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs emails: “I read the Sun-Times story. Which political party is Blagojevich from?”

It’s a mystery!

GOOD NEWS FOR FREE EXPRESSION:

A federal judge ruled Friday that Illinois’ restrictions on the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors are unconstitutional and barred the state from enforcing the law.

State officials “have come nowhere near” demonstrating that the law passes constitutional muster, said U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly.

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other supporters of the measure argued that children were being harmed by exposure to games in which characters go on killing sprees or sexual escapades.

Opponents declared the law a restriction on free speech and pointed out that similar laws had been struck down in other states.

Don’t miss this article by John Luik on the bogus nature of most anti-videogame claims. On the other hand, this complaint seems valid to me.

IS ILLINOIS SECEDING?

UPDATE: Jonathan Gewirtz emails:

Gov. Blagojevich is merely exercising his interpretation of the Second Amendment, which of course concerns the rights of states rather than individuals. Reminds me of a law review article I once read. . .

Heh. Indeed.