Wednesday, December 31, 2008

SEC in Bowl Games

As of January 2, 2008, the SEC is 3-1 in the collegiate bowl games.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt 16, Boston College 14
Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU 38, Georgia Tech 3
Outback Bowl: Iowa 31, South Carolina 10
Capital One Bowl: Georgia 24, Michigan State 12
AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss - in progress
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Utah vs. Alabama (January 2, FOX, 8 PM)
FedEx BCS National Championship: (1) Oklahoma vs. (2) Florida (January 8, FOX, 9 PM)

Want to "pretend?"

Support Israel in Louisville

Received in the inbox.
Date: Friday, January 2, 2009
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Location: 6th and Broadway in downtown Louisville

Description:
A "peace" group in Louisville will be protesting Israel's actions to protect their country from Hamas' bombings. Join us to show solidarity with Israel. We'd like to have more people out SUPPORTING Israel than they have protesting.
Israel needs your support!

Props to Egypt

Props to Egypt:
Egypt's president says his country will not fully open its crossing into the Gaza Strip unless Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority is in control of the border post, resisting demands Egypt do so amid Israel's onslaught against Hamas.

Egypt has come under heavy criticism in the Arab world over its refusal over the past year to open the Rafah crossing, which has helped complete an Israeli blockade of the territory.

Since Israel's offensive in Gaza began Saturday, Egypt has allowed some wounded to cross from Gaza for treatment and some humanitarian supplies to enter the territory.

President Hosni Mubarak said in a televised speech Tuesday that Israel must "stop the aggression" against Gaza and accept an unconditional ceasefire.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit criticized Hassan Nasrallah's speech from Monday in which the Hizbullah leader called on Egyptian army officials to pressure their government into opening the border and assist Hamas.

"This man (Nasrallah) spoke of Egypt's armed forces. These honorable armed forces are meant to protect Egypt and if he does not know that, I am telling him: No and no!" said Aboul Gheit.

"The honorable armed forces are capable of defending this homeland from people like you. You want to create chaos in this region as a service to interests that are not for the good of this region."

Are you a Time Warner customer?

You might want to read DHD!
What an awful way to ring in 2009. It turns out that Viacom claims it has been trying to negotiate a "fair" renewal of its prized cable channels for months and months, but reputedly Time Warner Cable has been unresponsive and "unreasonable" so talks have stalled. The nation's 2nd largest cable system operator, in turn, claims Viacom is asking for "exorbitant" increases in carriage fees which would have to be passed along to the customer. So now this fight between the two Big Media giants will hurt cable viewers. At 12:01 AM on January 1st, just after the ball drops in Time Square, Time Warner Cable's 13.3 million subscribers will lose 19 Viacom channels -- Comedy Central; CMT: Pure Country; Logo; Palladia; MTV; MTV 2; MTV Hits; MTV Jams; MTV Tr3s; Nickelodeon; Noggin; Nick 2; Nicktoons; Spike; The N; TV Land; Vh1; Vh1 Classic; Vh1 Soul.

Well, what else is new?

The Courier Journal had an editorial published yesterday dealing with Operation Cast Leads. Here's a brief excerpt:
What is clear is that Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza, unleashed a furious Israeli response by declaring an end to a shaky six-month truce with Israel Dec. 19 and resuming rocket attacks against civilian communities in Israel.

It is not reasonable to insist that Israel accept unprovoked aggression against its people and territory. United Nations and European condemnation of the Israeli air campaign err by offering only tepid calls to Hamas to end the rocket launches.

Israel must be keenly aware, however, of unintended consequences.

Air strikes rarely achieve strategic objectives by themselves, and any escalation involving Israeli ground troops in Gaza may be much harder to end than to begin. Israel's center-left governing coalition doubtless hopes that its firm response will give it an advantage before the Feb. 10 election, but a quagmire would have the opposite effect.

Egypt, which was cracking down on Hamas along its border with Gaza, is now undercut as an Israeli accomplice in Arab eyes. Iran and Hezbollah have heated up their denunciations of Israel.
I'm curious as to what alternative reality the CJ is in because, in case they haven't noticed, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Following that, the Palestinians elected Hamas into the government. Not a good move on their part because Hamas is a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. Since that time, before the truce, Hamas fired over 6,000 rockets into southern Israel. On December 19 of this year, Hamas chose to end the truce and fired 300 rockets into Israel. Israel appealed to the UN Security Council and to the Arab world to get Hamas to stop the attacks. No actions were taken so Israel was forced to defend herself and retaliate. Since when was retalition considered offense?

Hamas has always made it distinctly clear that they don't support Israel's right to exist and that they want Israel wiped off the map.

What's going on in Gaza is not a police action. What's going on is a battle between two armed forces, one of which is a terrorist group (Hamas). The other is the military that defends a country (Israel). If you want to aim your moral outrage at someone, aim it at Hamas, not Israel. Hamas is responsibile for the hositilties and they chose these consequences.

Hamas is funded by Iran.

Americans, and the global community, would rather apply a double standard to Israel. Imagine if your hometown were attacked daily by Canada or Mexico, would you rather the US sit idle and do nothing? No, you'd want them to beat the living daylights out of them. That's exactly what's going on in Israel. Hamas is blasting rockets daily into Israel.

As for the civilian casulties, we hate that they have to happen but Hamas has acknowledged that they are because of where Hamas bases are located, within a civilian area. All those who lost lives are Hamas militants or those placed in the line of fire because of Hamas!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A great speech that should be delivered

Assaf Wohl wrote a speech that the Israeli ambassador should deliver at the United Nations because like many of us, we're sick and tired of the double standards that are directed at Israel. Israel did not want to do this. It came to this option because Hamas, acting like the f***ing cowardly bastards that Hamas is for aiming rockets at civilians. Israel does their best to NOT AIM AT CIVILIANS but you know Hamas, they just have to fire from WITHIN A HUMAN CIVILIAN SHIELD.
Members of the United Nations, Democracies, dictatorships, republics, and the honorable secretary-general:

Within a few hours, media outlets in your countries shall present horrific photos of blood, fire, and rubble from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians will be screaming, in front of the cameras, about the massacre undertaken by the State of Israel. Initially, you may show understanding for our operations in the Strip, yet once the photos of wounded civilians reach you, you shall press us, as is your custom, to stop defending ourselves.

The first signs of this phenomenon can already be seen. Calls to “end the violence” from across the world are being heard loud and clear – yet they are only being heard now, after years of violence, and after Israel finally decided to respond. The European Union already rushed to declare that it condemns Israel’s “disproportional use of force.” Several news networks have brought together panels whose members are scrutinizing the law books at this very moment in order to ascertain whether the Jewish State violated some international law.

I do not intend to deal with the question of where were these condemners and critics for the past seven years, when Hamas’ murderers set the timers of their rockets to coincidence with the end of the school day in Israel, because of a declared aim to kill as many children as possible. The question we should be discussing at this time is as follows: Why do the countries of the world and global media outlets obsessively engage in strict criticism that is only directed at Israel? After all, there is not even one country out there that is required to adhere to the moral criteria which the world demands of us – of us of all people, the ones who as opposed to the rest of the world face threats of extermination.

Our Arab neighbors are well familiar with this double standard vulnerability. On their part, they are not bound by any kind of moral code. And so, they learned to exploit the international strictness towards Israel. A long time ago, they already understood that they cannot face the State of Israel on the battlefield. Indeed, when it comes to photographs and videos, they boast uniforms and weapons, yet once the fighting gets underway, they are quick to take off their uniforms and assimilate among women and children used as human shields.

They also make sure to place their arms depots in hospital basements and to fire rockets at population centers out of schoolyards. Their great hope is to elicit an Israeli response that would unintentionally hurt a few children. Once that happens, they will wave their bodies before the cameras and cry out to the world for help. This was the case in Lebanon, and this may happen tomorrow in the Gaza Strip.

Easing Europe’s conscience
The states demanding that Israel adhere to certain moral standards do not even dream of asking the same of her enemies. After all, we are dealing with theocracies and dictatorships, where homosexuals are publicly hanged, where women are regularly stoned for undermining their “family’s honor,” and where children suspected of theft have their arms severed. What do these states have to do with the value of human life? We should therefore ask representatives of global opinion: Be honest with yourselves - Do the lives of humans being butchered daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur arouse you into similar action? Reality indicates this is not the case.

My answer to the question regarding the obsessive preoccupation with the actions of the Jews is purely sociological. Many of you, the shapers of public opinion, and mostly the Europeans amongst you, are interested in easing your conscience: If only can only show that the Israelis-Jews are not so moral or innocent, perhaps they deserve everything you did to them before they were able to establish their state? After all, here they are, occupying and butchering the poor Palestinians; they are certainly no better than us!

To that end, you are willing to help out the lowliest terrorists. Therefore, you bought into their slanderous Mohammed al-Dura tale, and therefore you will rush to buy into various blood libels in the coming days. Those who launch missiles and mortar shells into kindergartens know that they will always enjoy a protective umbrella from you. They draw their self-confidence from the intolerable ease with which they enlist your public opinion in their favor.

Therefore, you would do well to think twice before you move to stop the punishment they lawfully deserve. After all, you are the only lifesaver that can spare this radical terror group the measure of justice hovering above it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The facts

These come via Stand With Us:

1. ISRAEL WANTS PEACE!
2. The IDF targets terrorist outposts and always attempts to limit civilian casualties.
3. The definition of TERRORISM is the deliberate targeting of civilians, which HAMAS does daily to Israel.
4. Israel is, and always has been, sending food and humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Karni and Keren crossings.
5. HAMAS is arbitrarily firing rockets into Israeli civilian areas including nursery schools, hospitals, and shopping malls.
6. Israel left Gaza for peace in August of 2005 and has been attacked from Gaza with thousands of rockets ever since.
7. Israeli citizens live with post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of daily rocket attacks.
8. Israelis only have 15 seconds to run into bomb shelters once a rocket is fired by Hamas.
9. HAMAS’ incitement and ammunition build-up has reached dangerous levels and during the last week alone we have seen HUNDREDS of rockets fired into Israel.
10. Hamas openly admits to using civilians as human shields.
11. How would the US react to a missile attack on its citizens coming from Canada or Mexico?
12. Israel, as any viable democracy, must defend its citizens.
13. While Gaza suffers under Hamas’ rule, the West Bank has witnessed an upsurge in economic activity.
14. ISRAEL WANTS PEACE!

Roundup of news over the last week...

Caroline Kennedy supports an undivided Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.
The scion of the Kennedy clan, who recently expressed her interest in assuming the seat of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) should Clinton be confirmed as secretary of state, answered a New York Times political questionnaire on Saturday, her first such policy statement.

Kennedy expressed "strong support for Israel," the Times reported, "and said an undivided Jerusalem must be the country's national capital."
The Madoff backlash has started and apparently all Jews are being placed on trial. What the heck did I do wrong to deserve that?

Okay, so this is a day late and a dollar short, pardon the pun, but this is what happened in Southern Israel last week.
An Israeli airstrike hit a Kassam-launching cell in Gaza, killing one terrorist and injuring three others.

The strike Wednesday evening on a launcher about to fire on southern Israel followed a full day of rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip in which at least 60 Kassam rockets and dozens of mortar shells struck homes, factories and a playground.

Two long-range Grad-type missiles struck a public area in northern Ashkelon. Homes in Kibbutz Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev suffered serious damage from direct hits. A rocket also struck next to a playground in Netivot. One factory in the western Negev was hit twice. Several people in those areas were treated for shock.
It's nice to see Amnesty International write to officials in Yemen, urging them to protect their Jewish citizens.

Need I remind you what President-elect Barack Obama said in Sderot, Israel on July 23, 2008:
I don't think any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens.

The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens. And so I can assure you that if -- I don't even care if I was a politician. If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

In terms of negotiations with Hamas, it is very hard to negotiate with a group that is not representative of a nation state, does not recognize your right to exist, has consistently used terror as a weapon, and is deeply influenced by other countries. I think that Hamas leadership will have to make a decision at some point as to whether it is a serious political party seeking to represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people. And, as a consequence, willing to recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence as a tool to achieve its aims. Or whether it wants to continue to operate as a terrorist organization. Until that point, it's hard for Israel, I think, to negotiate with a country that -- or with a group that doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist at a country -- OK.
Here's more proof that Israel is fighting a TERRORIST organization, not a politically recognized party. Because of the wording and threats it involves, I've opted against printing it.

Hamas could have prevented this by letting the ceasefire continue, but no, they decided to end the ceasefire and fire rockets at innocent civilians, while cowardly hiding behind civilian shields. Abbas himself even asked Hamas to continue the ceasefire.
Hamas could have prevented Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday.

The Palestinian Authority president also called on Hamas to renew its cease-fire with Israel.

"We spoke to them and told them, 'Please, we ask you not to end the cease-fire. Let it continue,'" Abbas said during a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "We want to protect the Gaza Strip. We don't want it to be destroyed."

Abbas also called the continuing rocket attacks on Israel "acts of foolishness."
The ADL makes an appeal to the Attorney General in the case of Sholom Rubashkin.

Recent Press Statements on Gaza strikes

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:

CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS SUPPORTS ISRAELI ACTION TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS
New York, December 27, 2008. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations stands solidly with the government of Israel and its decision to defend its people against terrorism through the targeted airstrikes made on Gaza today.

“The government and people of Israel have shown unprecedented restraint in the face of unyielding attacks with hundred of missiles and mortars fired on civilian targets by Hamas and other terrorist organizations who have made clear that their goal is the destruction of the State of Israel. No country could or would put up with this,” said Harold Tanner, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents. “The first obligation of every government is to protect its citizens and there can be no more justified use of force than responding to such unending terrorism.”

“We support the United States administration’s position that places the blame for Israel’s attack on Hamas and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence,” they added.

Palestinian militants in Gaza have long been launching Kassam and other rockets at southern Israeli towns and have dramatically increased these attacks in the past six weeks. Hamas launched more than 250 rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and civilians in the past week, including 80 today, which killed one and injured seven others in their homes and in synagogue.

The goal of today’s attack was to strike at Hamas’ infrastructure in order to bring an end to the rocket firings on Israel and the terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip. Israel remains committed to maintaining a peaceful solution and had entered into the most recent ceasefire through Egypt to work toward establishing calm without the use of force. At the same time, however, the Hamas regime took advantage of the ceasefire by continuing to launch rockets into southern Israel, keep Gilad Shalit captive and build up its arsenal. The Hamas arsenal is now believed to have thousands of missiles, anti tank and anti-aircraft weapons, tons of munitions and an infrastructure of 50-kilometer underground tunnels. They improved the range of their rockets so that major population centers like Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva are at risk.

Israel specifically selected Hamas military targets and used pinpoint strikes in order to avoid civilian casualties. Israel targeted training camps, underground missile silos and command-and-control centers throughout the Gaza Strip. One of the buildings hit today included a Hamas headquarters that was used for stockpiling weapons and military equipment and was a launching point for terrorist operations into Israel.

“Hamas has been declared a terrorist organization by most democratic nations. We take their declarations of war and their intent to kill and maim Israeli civilians seriously and we believe the international community should do so as well. Tolerating terrorism anywhere means escalating it everywhere,” said Tanner and Hoenlein.

“The Conference of Presidents urges our government to assert Israel’s rights to defend its citizens and we call on the United Nations to focus on the Hamas terrorist regime, as well as those who aid and abet that regime, as the source of the constant attacks to which Israel and her citizens have been subjected, said Hoenlein. “The UN charter recognizes the right of countries to defend their borders and their citizens and must uphold that principle. UN condemnations of the Israeli airstrike will be counterproductive and further terror will be invited in the Middle East and around the world if they equate those engaged in terror with those defending against it and those who exercise restraint with those who exploit it.”
Jewish Council for Public Affairs:
JCPA Executive Director Rabbi Steve Gutow issued the following statement about the unfolding operations in Gaza:

“It is unfortunate that Israel has had to resort to air strikes and is now grappling with a possible ground operation in the very area that it has tried hard to disengage from since 2005.

Israel has taken great lengths to avoid this sort of escalation, but was left with no other way to ensure that its civilians would not have to live in fear of rocket fire. Just a few days ago, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made an appeal on the Arab television station Al-Arabiya asking Gaza residents to stop the firing of rockets and mortar shells so that a military response could be avoided.

Even while rockets rained down on the frequently targeted town of Sderot and in the town of Kiryat Gat—a first-time target—Israel continued to transfer food and medicine into Gaza despite no apparent end to the attacks.

As Israel moves towards elections and the possibility of turning a new page, it is our hope that the Palestinian people will take the opportunity that this transition presents to turn their own page on Hamas’ failed leadership.”
Foreign Minister FM Tzipi Livni briefs diplomats in Sderot:
Israel left the Gaza Strip years ago. The idea was that Gaza would be the beginning of the Palestinian state. That didn't happen, because Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas is a terrorist organization with a radical ideology and it's not willing to accept the demands of the international community. It is the enemy.

But Hamas is not our problem alone; it is also a problem for all the Palestinians in the region and for anyone who shares these values. The only way to achieve peace is by confronting terrorism and the opponents of the peace process. Hamas is the one placing obstacles in the path of peace, which should be everyone's goal. Hamas is illegitimate and its control of the Gaza Strip is illegitimate; it wants a zero sum game. The struggle is not between Israel and Hamas, but between moderates and extremists.

The role of the world leaders is to stand up and announce clearly: Hamas is responsible. Hamas is the ruler and Hamas put the population of Gaza in danger. Sometimes it's not easy. Hamas is manipulating the situation in order to spread more hatred.

Israel left the Gaza Strip, not in order to return, but because a state sometimes reaches a point where there is no other choice. Enough is enough. We demonstrated restraint. Six months of calm were violated on a daily basis - by them. Hamas thought that Israel wouldn't do anything and that the international community would put pressure only on Israel. I hope that they were wrong; someone has to show them that they were wrong. We have paid the price for our restraint in long-range missiles, and we have to answer to our citizens.

We proved that we want quiet. However, we need the support of the international community; that's the only way to change the reality on the ground. The equation has to be changed, and, in order to do that, we must use force.

Hamas uses its power to harm civilians. Our actions are designed to minimize the harm to civilians. Most of the people killed in the current IDF operation were wearing uniforms. We told the civilians to evacuate the places that were bombed. In order to make a change on the ground, the international community has to make the distinction between Hamas and Israel, and to put pressure on Hamas.

I don't accept the calls for a joint ceasefire. There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization and Israel is a state defending itself. The only way to shorten this operation is to make clear that Israel has the right to defend itself and that the international community supports Israel in its confrontation with Hamas. This is not a case in which the neighborhood bully is in charge and extremism triumphs. This is the message that you must convey. It's like a reversal of the David and Goliath story in which the strong exercises restraint in facing the weak.
Livni also addressed Knessett.

Israeli President Shimon Peres also made a statement while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed the press on the IDF operation.

Honest Reporting has a special report on recent events.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

This is more of a retroactive quote of the day but relevant nonetheless but it comes from a Jeiwsh organization press release and there is other information in there as well.
President-elect Barak Obama said earlier this year about the more than 6,300 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza that have rained down on Israel since 2005: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

In this Christmas season, while Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces were successfully working together to ensure a peaceful celebration in Bethlehem, Hamas fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israel's cities and towns. Moreover, as The New York Times reported, the terrorists "increased the range and intensity" of their assault. As a result, more Israeli citizens are faced with a serious lethal threat than ever before.

Israeli author Amos Oz, a prominent dove whose call for peace with the Palestinians is shared by a majority of Israelis, wrote in a recent piece entitled "Israel Must Defend Its Citizens" that "The systematic bombing of the citizens in Israel's towns and cities is a war crime and a crime against humanity."

No country can tolerate such deliberate assaults indefinitely - and Israel has shown extraordinary restraint, publicly calling upon Hamas to stop the attacks and seeking to extend the fragile lull in hostilities that had been in effect for the last six months.

Hamas's disregard for Israeli life is matched by its disregard for the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza. Using innocent Palestinians as human shields, Hamas purposely fires its missiles from homes, schools and community centers, confident in the knowledge that when Israel finally acts to stop the killing of its own civilians, Palestinians will also inevitably be harmed. The use of Palestinian civilians as human shields is not merely unspeakably cruel. It is also a fundamental violation of Palestinian human rights by the Hamas leadership.

Israel cares deeply about protecting the lives of civilians, both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip. Its efforts this weekend to stop the Hamas attacks represent classic self-defense, undertaken reluctantly by an Israeli nation that longs for peace.

Israel is now compelled to act to defend its citizens. A loyal ally of the United States, Israel has rushed to our aid at times of crisis - rushing rescue workers to Nairobi, Kenya, in the wake of the bombing of the U.S. embassy there and sending planeloads of relief supplies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Now our friend needs our support - our strong backing for its right to defend itself from terrorist attack."
Unfortunately, Jews are going to have to step up as well. There is a virtual war against Israel, mainly from the doves on the left. No one, and I mean no one, wants to see this happen but Hamas repeatedly hides behind civilian shields and Israel had to take action before it got worse.

FYI

During the recent events overseas, chances are the media reports will be biased so here's a blog to keep an eye on.

A Prayer for the State of Israel

I felt the urge to post this with the recent events this past weekend. This prayer is usually recited during the Shabbat morning service, after the reading of the Haftorah but before the Torah is returned to the Ark. This translation is of the traditional version of the Prayer for the State of Israel, published by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 1948:

Our Father who is in heaven, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the dawn of our deliverance. Shield it beneath the wings of Your love; spread over it Your canopy of peace; send Your light and Your truth to its leaders, officers, and counselors, and direct them with Your good counsel.

Strengthen the defenders of our Holy Land; grant them, our G-d, salvation and crown them with victory. Establish peace in the land, and everlasting joy for its inhabitants. Remember our brethren, the whole house of Israel, in all the lands of their dispersion. Speedily bring them to Zion, Your city, to Jerusalem Your dwelling-place, as it is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses:

“Even if you are dispersed in the uttermost parts of the world, from there the Lord your G-d will gather and fetch you. The Lord your G-d will bring you into the land which your ancestors possessed, and you shall possess it; and G-d will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your ancestors.”

Unite our hearts to love and revere Your name, and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah. Speedily send us Your righteous Messiah of the House of David, to redeem those waiting for Your salvation. Shine forth in Your glorious majesty over all the inhabitants of Your world. Let everything that breathes proclaim: “The Lord G-d of Israel is King; His majesty rules over all.” Amen. Selah.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

IDF forces strike at Hamas bases

I go offline for Shabbas and this is what I come back to?

JTA reports:
Israel began moving tanks to the Gaza area in advance of a possible ground attack.

The movement of tanks and ground troops on Saturday night followed a massive retaliatory Israeli bombing campaign that has killed close to 200 people in the Gaza Strip, most of them Hamas militants.

The wave of air-launched bombs Saturday was in retaliation for the recent intensification of rocket-launches from Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist group. On some days, more than 50 rockets have been aimed at towns and farms in southern Israel.

Militants in Gaza responded by firing at least 30 rockets; one killed an Israeli resident of the town of Netivot. Hamas reported that almost all of its security installations were hit and threatened suicide attacks in retaliation.

Israel dropped at least 100 tons of bombs in the raids. "There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting," Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, said in a news conference.

Reports from Gaza said most of the dead were affiliated with the security forces, including Gaza City's police chief, although a number of the casualties were civilians. Hamas officials said at least 140 of the dead belonged to the terrorist group's militias.
Like many of you, I want to see a day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world. As long as terrorist groups like Hamas exist, that's not going to happen.

I support my fellow Israeli brethren and the Israeli Defense Forces at this time and ask that G-d be with them.

The United States blamed Hamas for breaking the ceasefire.
The United States blamed Hamas for breaking a ceasefire and provoking Israeli air strikes on Saturday that killed more than 200 people in Gaza, which is controlled by the Palestinian group.

Washington did not call for an end to the Israeli attacks but urged it to avoid civilian casualties and placed the onus for ending the violence squarely on Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.

"What we've got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel, that's what precipitated this," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe, calling the Islamic group "thugs."

The United States has worked to isolate Hamas since it won a Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006.

Israeli officials said the assault on the Gaza Strip in pursuit of Hamas may last some time.[...]

The air strikes followed a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.[...]

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern about the escalating violence and called for immediate restoration of the ceasefire. "We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there," she said in a statement.

In an apparent warning to minimize the risk to civilians, Rice said, "the United States calls on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza."
Haaretz reported that most bases were destroyed in under four minutes.
Preparations nearly two years in the making were put into action yesterday as a two-wave offensive of 88 Israel Air Force fighter jets and helicopters delivered over 100 tons of explosives to approximately 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it...

It's Friday and that means a flash flood warning for the Chicago vicinity. In addition to the 40 degree temperatures that will inevitably melt the snow throughout the day, you have to deal with the coming rainfall.
The Chicago National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for metropolitan Chicago from late Friday night through Saturday night, and advises that "major to record flooding [is] expected this weekend." Computer models suggest that 1 to 3 inches of rain will fall across the area by Sunday morning -- 1-inch totals most likely toward Rockford and 3-inch totals across southern sections and northwest Indiana.

A period of freezing rain, sleet and hazardously icy conditions is likely early Friday before temperatures climb above freezing. Warming that continues into Saturday carries temperatures into the 50s.
It's just great...factor in the thunderstorm possibilities and we're looking at a very wet Shabbas this weekend.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rabbi Boteach on Madoff-Rubashkin

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote an op-ed appearing in The Jerusalem Post yesterday.
It is possible that there are uncharitable motives behind the absence of any Jewish outrage to a ruling with potentially devastating consequences to our community's basic rights. Until he imploded, Bernie Madoff was in a business Jews consider sophisticated and noble, finance. He was a secular Jew who made good on Wall Street and even brought the community pride by becoming chairman of Nasdaq. Rubashkin, by contrast, was essentially a glorified shochet and butcher, the country's largest producer of kosher meat. Rubashkin's beard and black hat were enough to unnerve many Jews. But that his missteps at Agriprocessors highlighted what others consider the unsavory sight of Jewish ritual slaughter all but guaranteed Rubashkin's total abandonment at the hands of American Jewry.

THIS EXPLAINS why, in sharp contrast to what is developing in the kosher meat industry, there has been no move afoot to establish something akin to "Hechsher Tzedek," a rabbinic certificate of ethical excellence, for financial institutions. After all, how is it that when so many of the people going to jail on Wall Street turn out to be Jewish, the Modern Orthodox and Conservative movements have not immediately launched a campaign, as they are doing with kosher meat, to evaluate firms that invest Jewish money to ensure that they conform to the highest ethical norms in terms of treatment of employees and overcompensation of dead-beat executives?

Why is it that only kosher meat is being singled out as being in need of ethical reform? I suggest it is because the Jewish community has an obvious sense of discomfort with ritual observances that the non-Jewish world finds confusing or distasteful rather than the Jewish money machine which, when it works soundly, everyone rather enjoys.

To be sure, Judaism commands the highest ethical treatment of animals, including the commandment to feed one's livestock and pets before oneself. Indeed, the whole purpose of shechita is the severing of an animals' carotid arteries leading to death by asphyxiation so that an animal dies without suffering. I for one applaud many of PETA's goals of ensuring humane treatment of animals, even as I decry some of its more radical means, like their comparison of the slaughter of animals to the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust.

BUT LET'S be honest, the hatred that Jewry feels for Rubashkin cannot be completely divorced from his profession as a giant kosher butcher no more than secular Israelis natural scorn for the bearded settlers can be completely divorced from their view of them as religious fanatics who are obstacles to peace. Consider the fact that Israelis have expressed no strong outrage against former Knesset speaker Avrum Burg who recently published a book, highlighted in The New York Times recently, suggesting that "Israeli Arabs are like German Jews during the Second Reich and that the entire society felt eerily like Germany just before the rise of Hitler." Burg adds that "the Israeli government would probably soon pass the equivalent of the Nuremberg laws, with provisions like a prohibition on marriage between Jews and Arabs."

Now who is more of a fanatic? The settlers, or Burg who equates Israel with Hitler but is largely given a pass because of his essentially secular bearing (diminutive yarmulke notwithstanding).
Click to read the rest.

The Madoff scandal gets more interesting now following the suicide of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, who was found this morning.
The founder of an investment fund that lost $1.4 billion with Bernard Madoff was discovered dead Tuesday after committing suicide at his Manhattan office, marking a grim turn in a scandal that has left investors around the world in financial ruin.

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, 65, was found sitting at his desk at about 8 a.m. with both wrists slashed, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. A box cutter was found on the floor along with a bottle of sleeping pills on his desk. No suicide note was found.

De la Villehuchet was one of several fund managers to be hit hard in Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Investment funds that lost big to Madoff are also facing backlash and investor lawsuits for not protecting their clients from the alleged fraud.

It is not immediately known what kind of scrutiny de la Villehuchet was facing over his Madoff losses through his Access International Advisors, located on Madison Avenue a couple blocks from Rockefeller Center.

It's Your Stuck in Chicago Tuesday

Mother Nature is giving Chicago her all this week with the storm that came through Thursday night into Friday, then Saturday evening's snow and arctic blast that didn't end til last night. Was that it? Nope. Just a few hours passed before another storm started coming through in the early hours this morning and it's not ending until tomorrow afternoon.

Chicago Breaking News:
Airlines have canceled more than 400 flights at O'Hare International Airport as of 3 p.m. today because of the snowstorm moving through the Chicago area, city aviation officials said.

That was 150 more flights since 10:45 p.m.[...]

The city has its full complement of 274 snow-fighting trucks working main arteries.

A winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service is in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Snowfall of 2 to 4 inches is expected today, with 1 to 2 inches forecast for tonight. Precipitation is expected to mix with sleet and freezing rain over all but far northern Illinois tonight. An additional 1 to 3 inches is forecast for Wednesday as the mixed precipitation turns back to all snow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

In entertainment news...

Paul Rudd has been named as the MVP of the comedy genre.
In awards season, it’s easy to forget that there are actors who may never be nominated for Academy Awards simply because of the genre they work in. Let’s hope this is not the fate of the ultra-talented Paul Rudd. One of the most dependably funny actors in Hollywood, Rudd is the MVP of comedy films. And he’s not one of those “only a starring role, please” snobs; for his good buddies in the Judd Apatow gang, he’ll take a supporting part or even a cameo.
Liberal bloggers say what they want about Sen. Joe Lieberman but his constituents feel differently.

Stand-up comedians have several cameos in Funny People.
It’s beginning to look like Judd Apatow is trying to fill his new Adam Sandler dramedy Funny People with an all-star list of stand-up comedian cameos playing themselves. Dave Attell appeared on the Howard Stern Show today, and revealed that he filmed a scene for Funny People with Sarah Silverman and Norm MacDonald. Andy Dick has also filmed a cameo as himself.
I'm sorry but Andy Dick?!?

John Pelphrey shows his Kentucky loyalties.
With the game two weeks away, a reminder arrived of the intensity of the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry.

It came courtesy of Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey, the Kentucky native and UK "Unforgettable" who can't bring himself to say the "L" word.

Early last week, Pelphrey refused to say "Louisville" while discussing the Cardinals' 94-75 victory over Austin Peay. Arkansas was Austin Peay's next opponent four days later.

Pelphrey attributed U of L's victory to the "improved play by whatever the name of that school is. I can't even say it."

Fans of a certain age will recall that Pelphrey's dislike of Louisville showed in his playing days when he got into an altercation with U of L's James Brewer. The two were separated before any real damage was done.

But for Pelphrey to mimic former Ohio State Woody Hayes, who found it difficult to say the word "Michigan," seems strange because his former UK coach, Rick Pitino, now leads the Cardinals.

"I usually call it the University of Pitino," Pelphrey said when asked about Louisville by the Arkansas press corps.

But when talking with the media on Wednesday, Pelphrey twice said "Louisville" as he again discussed U of L's game against Austin Peay.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sportswriter Bob Holt then alerted Pelphrey about the slip. "He seemed shocked, looking like a minister who had been told he cussed during a Sunday sermon," Holt wrote.

Pelphrey initially denied saying the "L" word. But when a reporter noted the power of tape recorders, Pelphrey conceded.

"I'm not perfect," he said.

Roundup...

Here's something you don't expect to read every day. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said this in a sermon:
And what of the State of Israel? When we look at Israel today, we see a strong state with a reasonably healthy economy. Much of the credit should go to President George W. Bush. He supported Israel’s security needs, provided much-needed military aid, and accepted no excuses for Palestinian terror. The President is under siege right now, but we in the Jewish community must not forget that he has been a good friend to the Jewish State and the Jewish people.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman of the Agudath Israel of America, wrote the following:
don’t think I’m the only Jewish observer who found (and find) certain expressions of anti-Obama sentiment in parts of the Orthodox community less than reality-based. Many of us may have supported Senator McCain for a number of valid reasons – his experience, his willingness to reach across the partisan aisle, his maverick-ness, or simply because they disagreed with Senator Obama’s positions – but anyone who voted Republican because of the Democrat’s ostensible animus for Jews or Israel was not terribly different from commentators who portrayed Mr. Obama as a Zionist dupe. Osama bin Laden’s top deputy described the President-elect as a “house Negro” who has chosen to “pray the prayer of the Jews.”

Yes, Mr. Obama associated with a nutty, rabble-rousing pastor. But when the clergyman’s looniness was exposed, the Senator denounced both it and him, in no uncertain terms. Political expediency? Perhaps. But perhaps personal conviction. It is unbecoming and unwise to deny the President-elect the courtesy of taking him at his word.

That his path crossed with that of an aging 60s-era radical was unremarkable; seeing it as evidence of some secret anti-American conspiracy was scraping the bottom of an empty barrel. I would certainly never want to be judged by some people I’ve had occasional professional dealings with.

In four years, we will be able to look back and assess the Obama administration (or its first term) – and be either harsh or hailing. Now, though, none of us can claim prophecy. What we can know is that the next President of the United States is long on record as supportive of Israel, enjoyed broad Jewish support (and knows it) and has no record whatsoever of having expressed any ill will toward Jews. And that he is smart and savvy, and surrounds himself with similarly smart advisors (among them, as it happens, a number of Jewish ones).

There may be valid concerns about how the Obama presidency will turn out; I don’t mean to dismiss them. But the degree of fretting among some members of the tribe strikes me as unwarranted, even audacious.
President Bush recalled President Truman at a Chanukah celebration.
Bush's Chanukah reception Monday night, his last, featured the chanukiyah given to Truman in 1951 by David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, three years after the then-U.S. president was the first world leader to recognize Israel.

"A decade after President Truman received this gift, he visited Prime Minister Ben-Gurion for one of the last times," Bush said before the chanukiyah was lit by Clifton Truman-Daniel and Yariv Ben-Eliezer, the grandsons of both leaders. "As they parted, Ben-Gurion told the president that as a foreigner he could not judge President Truman's place in American history, but the president's courageous decision to recognize the new state of Israel gave him an immortal place in Jewish history."

Bush in the past has likened himself to Truman, who left office with low popularity ratings but was later recognized as ahead of his time for his recognition of Israel and for his Cold War strategies. Bush says he feels his unpopular Iraq war policies will be vindicated by history.
I'm not going to blog much about the fall-out from the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme so if you want to follow the happenings in that, check The Fundermentalist.

I'm sorry but I'm with Rabbi Jerome Epstein on these remarks. Yoffie might think he may have some merit but when you consider that Shabbas is a day of rest and that some folks actually do walk to shul, sharing buildings might be out of the question.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in a speech to the Union for Reform Judaism's board of trustees, said that while he generally views American Jewish pluralism as a source of strength, communities in the current crisis may no longer be able to afford multiple synagogues.

“In a small town it may be that a struggling Reform and a struggling Conservative synagogue will have to overcome their differences and join in cooperative programming, and even formal mergers,” Yoffie said Dec. 12 in Tampa, Fla. “And in a large city, with two or five or 10 Reform congregations, it may be that the time has come to share social services, buildings and staff.”

Barriers have been falling for some time between denominations, particularly the more liberal ones, with leaders of the various movements demonstrating greater willingness to participate in joint initiatives and share resources. This summer, the leading Reform and Conservative seminaries announced that they would be establishing a program, funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, to jointly train clergy in various areas of so-called practical rabbinics: communal trends, management and outreach.

But formal mergers between Conservative and Reform synagogues, movements that retain notable distinctions in theological outlook and liturgy, remain rare. Some eight American synagogues are members of both movements.

Rabbi Jerome Epstein, who heads the Conservative movement's congregational arm, the United Synagogue, said that while he strongly favors sharing resources, only in rare cases have formal mergers been successful.

“Our experience has been that it's fraught with peril,” Epstein told JTA. “What you end up doing is making the ideology and the values insignificant, and for many people in congregations they are significant.”

It's very cold...

Here in Chicago, it's a lovely -4°F with a wind chill of -31°F. Winds are coming in from the west with gusts between 28 to 40 miles per hour.

In the North Pole, it's currently 8°F but feels like -10°F with the wind chill and winds blowing in from the southeast at 18 miles per hour.

It's so cold even polar bears are refusing to take the polar bear plunge.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kentucky 93, Appalachian State 69

I wasn't able to watch the game at all but read the recap afterwards. Appalachian State might be better known for their football program that shocked the nation last year with it's last second winning field goal against Michigan.

ESPN has a recap.
Jodie Meeks scored a career-high 46 points as Kentucky blew out Appalachian State 93-69 on Saturday.

Meeks did it all, making 14-of-21 field goals, including 9-of-14 3-pointers and hitting 9-of-10 free throws as the Wildcats (8-3) won for the eighth time in nine games. Meeks' total was the most by a Kentucky player since Dan Issel scored 47 against Alabama in 1970.

Patrick Patterson added 19 points and seven rebounds for Kentucky.
Both Meeks and Patterson were the only players with their point totals in double digits.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chanukah comes early for Al Franken

It's being said right now that comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Al Franken is projected to win the Senate race against incumbent Norm Coleman.
Democratic challenger Al Franken finds himself on the cusp of winning a seat in the United States Senate after Minnesota's canvassing board awarded him a host of challenged votes during deliberations on Thursday.

As of 8PM ET, the Minneapolis Star Tribune projected that Franken would finish the recount process with a lead of 89 votes, positioning him to become the 59th Democratic senator in the upcoming Congress.

According to local paper tallies, Franken currently trails Sen. Norm Coleman by a mere five votes, down from the 358-vote margin that the Republican held just last night. The Associated Press had the count even closer, with Coleman ahead by two votes.
He;s good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone it, people like him!

It's work from home Friday!

Stay off the roads. Stay home...please. Just don't drive anywhere. You have cabin fever? Deal with it!

Illinois, especially Chicago, got a big sigh of relief in that the storm came later than expected. I haven't gone outside yet to look but I will tomorrow. Anyway, the Illinois Department of Transportation humbly asks that you stay home on Friday. Watch that DVD you've been wanting to watch for a while now.
State transportation officials are warning drivers to stay off the roads and, if possible, take public transportation or just stay home Friday morning.

winter storm warning went into effect at 7 p.m. for the entire Chicago area and runs through noon Friday.

The National Weather Service expects the storm to drop up to 14 inches of snow in parts of northern Illinois Thursday night and Friday. A combination of snow and sleet is forecast for the Chicago area, with about a foot possible overnight.

NBC Chicago's Brant Miller said that the heaviest band of snow will be along the Illinois-Wisconsin border. The ice will hit the Kankakee area and south. In between, there will be a mix of ice and snow, but it won't arrive until late this evening.
In political news, Lisa Madigan handed it to Rod Blagojevich. He can pay his own bills!
"It is absurd to suggest that taxpayers must finance the defense of a criminal action against Governor Blagojevich who is accused of corruptly betraying the public trust for personal and financial gain," a release from Madigan's office said.

In a letter to attorney Ed Genson, the Attorney General said that her job is to prosecute "criminal matters on behalf of the people of Illinois," and that she has "no constitutional or statuatory duty to defend any individual in a criminal case."

Thursday-Friday: Another frickin' foot of snow

It could be worse. I could be in Las Vegas, where they just got slammed with a record snowfall causing school cancellations for the first time in 30 years.
A rare snowstorm blanketed the Las Vegas Valley on Wednesday, delaying flights, causing widespread fender-benders and canceling events. As much as 8 inches of snow fell in parts of the valley, forecasters said this morning.

The rarities continued Wednesday night with the Clark County School District's announcement that students are getting a snow day today. It's the first snow day for Clark County students since 1979, when a storm dropped 9.9 inches of snow in January that year.

With ice and snow on the roads, and district buses responsible for transporting more than 80,000 students, closing school was the prudent move, Superintendent Walt Rulffes said.
Here's the latest breaking news alert for the storm about to hit Chicago.
The National Weather Service has pushed back its winter storm warning by four hours. Instead of starting at 3 p.m., it will start at 7 p.m.

As before, the warning ends at noon Friday, meaning the pain may only be delayed until the morning commute. As much as a foot of snow is predicted for some parts of the metropolitan area.

Precipitation -- in the form of snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain -- is expected to begin south of a line connecting Dixon to Joliet to Rensselaer, Ind., early this evening. It will cross into far north-central and northeast Illinois -- including the Rockford and Chicago areas -- by mid-evening, the weather service forecast.

Snow is expected in the northern portions of the area. A mixture of sleet, snow and freezing rain is expected between Interstate Highway 80 and Interstate Highway 88, with significant snow and ice accumulations.

Total snowfall by mid-morning Friday is expected to be about a foot along the Wisconsin-Illinois border, 8 to 12 inches from the North Side of Chicago west through DeKalb, and 5 to 9 inches from the far southern suburbs into Northwest Indiana, the weather service said.

Lesser snow accumulations -- between 1 and 5 inches -- are expected south of Interstate 80, but significant icing will be more of a problem in this region, the weather service said, with a quarter- to a half-inch.
Everyone seems to be feuding this days, mainly Jake and Shack. They probably have their reasons. Well, I'm not going to get into that right now but if you're going to complain about the weather, try moving north where they cut the budget for salt and because the storm hits at rush hour while snow is coming with two inches an hour, interstates don't get plowed til ten PM. I'm just saying. You can watch the Chicago alderman deliver their less than stellar reviews of this past storm.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Sun: Eddie Murphy as Riddler in Batman film? Insane, right?

TThe Sun in Britain must be either thinking it's satire week or they are writing tabloidish reports because there is no way in heck that Eddie Murphy is playing the Riddler in the next Batman film nor would Shia LaBeouf be playing Robin.
The Beverly Hills Cop star, 47, has been signed up by British director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN to reprise the role played by JIM CARREY in 1995’s Batman Forever.

The surprise move follows speculation linking Pirates of the Caribbean star JOHNNY DEPP to the part.

The film, set for a 2010 release, is being developed under the working title Gotham.

Execs have also signed up rising Transformers star SHIA LABEOUF, 22, to play Robin.

CHRISTIAN BALE will return as Bruce Wayne, while MICHAEL CAINE will again play Bruce’s assistant Alfred.

Meanwhile, Brit RACHEL WEISZ is said to be up for the Catwoman role.
It's a fricking tabloid report and shouldn't be seen as anything more or less.

Top Ten Craziest Things People Say About Tom Cruise On The Internet

10. I sleep upside-down suspended in a special bat-like harness
9. During the filming of Days of Thunder, on a dare, I ate a tire
8. I still wear those underpants from Risky Business
7. My real name is Tom Blagojevich
6. I once Heimliched a koala
5. Once a month, I take the Universal tour naked
4. I believe all emotional and psychological disorders can be cured with Vicks Vapo Rub
3. I'm a power-mad ego maniac who's completely insulated from reality - oh wait, that's Letterman.
2. After jumping on her couch, Oprah hammer-locked me until I coughed blood.
1. I keep a cell phone in my pants so I can tell friends to call my ass.

Source: Late Show with David Letterman

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sports, politics, and more politics

Four members of the Indianapolis Colts have been selected to attend the Pro Bowl.
Four Indianapolis Colts have been selected for the Feb. 8 Pro Bowl, including defensive end Robert Mathis who will make his first trip to Honolulu.

Mathis was selected as a backup while Dwight Freeney was named a starter at defensive end along with Houston’s Mario Williams.

Peyton Manning was named the AFC’s starting quarterback while Reggie Wayne was named a backup at wide receiver.
There's a report that the New York Yankees have signed an Iraqi pitcher.
In their latest bid to beef up their pitching rotation for the 2009 season, the New York Yankees today signed Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi to a three-year deal worth $32 million.

The right-handed al-Zeidi, 28, impressed the Yankee scouts with his performance in Baghdad yesterday when he threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush.
There's yet another vacant Senate seat that will have to be filled when Colorado's Ken Salazar moves in to the Department of the Interior. According to The Fix (see previous link), the best bet on who will be appointed, until the next round of federal elections in 2010, is between Governor Bill Ritter, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Congressman John Salazar, and outgoing state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Time will tell as to who will replace Sen. Salazar.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks up for Caroline Kennedy.
And here's what Reid told Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston:
REID: “She's 52 years old. I've spoken to her. She was part of a vetting process for vice presidential choices for Obama. She's lived in government and politics her whole life. I think it would be a tremendous thing. ... We have a lot of stars from New York. Bobby Kennedy. Hillary Clinton. I think Caroline Kennedy would be perfect."

RALSTON: “So, are you going to call the governor of New York and say, “’She's fine in my book?’”

REID: “I already have.”
While Senator John McCain, the 2008 GOP candidate for president, has distanced himself from RNC leadership, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks and he has some tough words for current GOP leadership with regards to disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

The recent web advertisement, “Questions Remain,” is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack.

In a time when America is facing real challenges, Republicans should be working to help the incoming President succeed in meeting them, regardless of his Party.

From now until the inaugural, Republicans should be offering to help the President-elect prepare to take office.

Furthermore, once President Obama takes office, Republicans should be eager to work with him when he is right, and, when he is wrong, offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him.

This is the only way the Republican Party will become known as the “better solutions” party, not just an opposition party. And this is the only way Republicans will ever regain the trust of the voters to return to the majority.
Perhaps Newt is looking at running in 2012?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lays it down with Rahm Emanuel.

SNOW!



At press time, this storm stretches from Minneapolis to Boston! For more on Chicago weather conditions, click here.

President-elect Barack Obama selects Tom Vilsack for Agriculture

The Chicago Tribune reports that President-elect Barack Obama has selected former Iowa Governor and presidential candidate Tom Vilsack as his Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack joins ex-rivals Senator Hillary Clinton (State) and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (Commerce) on the cabinet.

Peter Falk suffering from Alzheimer's

In case you have yet to hear, legendary Columbo actor Peter Falk is suffering from Alzheimer's.
Columbo" star Peter Falk's daughter has filed court documents saying the award-winning actor suffers from Alzheimer's disease and dementia and she should manage his affairs.

In papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday last week, Catherine Falk said her 81-year-old father can be "deceived into transferring away property" and that the actor should be under her conservatorship to protect his health and assets.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for next month.[...]

Falk starred in the 1970s television series "Columbo" as a police lieutenant investigating odd and twisted crimes, wearing a scruffy raincoat and puffing on a cigar and always coming back to ask the cornered criminal "one more thing."

Falk's portrayal of the character earned him an Emmy, U.S. TV's highest award.
American Cowslip is likely going to be his final movie as it's in post-production right now and due out sometime in 2009.

Oh, wow...another moment of zen

Credit Jake on this...but what is this world coming to? Here's a link to what went down at a ShopRite supermarket. Jake's page has everything in the event that this particular link is removed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Soderbergh makes proper decision on Ocean's 14

Director Steven Soderbergh made the correct decision with regards to Ocean's 14.
During MTV’s recent conversation with “Che” director Steven Soderbergh, discussion turned to the “Ocean’s” trilogy, all three films of which Soderbergh directed.

So what does the future hold for the venerable franchise? Not much, according to Soderbergh, who said that the loss of one among its ranks might leave another film feeling incomplete. “With Bernie Mac being gone, I don’t think any of us would want to return to that,” he said, referring to the comedian’s untimely passing earlier this year.

Soderbergh is one of the most versatile directors in Hollywood , having worked steadily (and interchangeably) as both a crowd-pleaser and art-house auteur since making his directorial debut in 1989 with “Sex, Lies and Videotape.”

Though he has since moved on to bigger and more personal projects, specifically his new, four-hour chronicle of the life of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, he admits that he misses the days when he could pal around with the likes of Clooney, Pitt and Don Cheadle. “It’s sad because that was a fun group of people to hang out with,” Soderbergh says.

Your moment of Zen

Wolverine Trailer released

Here it is, the first trailer released for X-Men Origins: Wolverine:

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE HD

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The never-ending saga of Rod Blagojevich

It's Saturday night and here's the latest updates. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Blagojevich's decision will come no earlier than Monday.
Gov. Blagojevich will decide early next week -- perhaps as early as Monday -- whether he should resign, a source close to the governor told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"He was blindsided by this," the source said. "He needs some time to digest what's going on. He's going to make his position clear shortly."
Rahm Emanuel did provide a list to the governor's office as to who President-elect Barack Obama wants to see fill the seat.
The revelation does not suggest Obama's new gatekeeper was involved in any talk of dealmaking involving the seat. But it does help fill in the gaps surrounding a question that Obama was unable or unwilling to answer this week: Did anyone on his staff have contact with Blagojevich about his choice for the Senate seat?[...]

Emanuel, who has long been close to both Blagojevich and Obama, has refused to respond to questions about any involvement he may have had with the Blagojevich camp over the Senate pick. A spokeswoman for Emanuel also declined to comment Friday.

One source confirmed that communications between Emanuel and the Blagojevich administration were captured on court-approved wiretaps.

Another source said that contact between the Obama camp and the governor's administration regarding the Senate seat began the Saturday before the Nov. 4 election, when Emanuel made a call to the cell phone of Harris. The conversation took place around the same time press reports surfaced about Emanuel being approached about taking the high-level White House post should Obama win.

Emanuel delivered a list of candidates who would be "acceptable" to Obama, the source said. On the list were Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois Veterans Affairs director Tammy Duckworth, state Comptroller Dan Hynes and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Chicago, the source said. All are Democrats.

Sometime after the election, Emanuel called Harris back to add the name of Democratic Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan to the approved list, the source said.

The 74th Heisman Trophy winner is Sam Bradford

Between Colt McCoy (Quarterback for the University of Texas Longhorns), Sam Bradford (Quarterback for the University of Oklahoma Sooners), and returning Heisman winner Tim Tebow (University of Florida Gators), the winner of the 74th Heisman Trophy is none other than Sam Bradford.

Bradford will next be seen playing in the FedEx BCS National Championship in which (1) Oklahoma will take on (2) Florida on January 8, 2009 at 9 PM eastern on FOX.

Media, please give Rahm a break

Interesting news story over at ABC News dealing with Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Meanwhile, late today a spokesperson for Emanuel confirmed in an email that an Associated Press story saying that he is not a target of the investigation is "accurate." Questions remain, however, over his contacts with Blagojevich and his staff, and Emanuel has still not said whether or not he's been contacted by the FBI for questioning.

Back at his home, Emanuel appeared "beet-red," according to an ABC News cameraman who was invited inside by Emanuel to use his bathroom this morning.

"I'm getting regular death threats. You've put my home address on national television. I'm pissed at the networks. You've intruded too much, " Emanuel said, according to the cameraman.

An aide for Emanuel said late Friday afternoon that Emanuel did not make any remarks about receiving death threats. "While we appreciate this camera man's active imagination, this report is inaccurate," said Sarah Feinberg. Responding to Emanuel's comments, ABC News went back and double-checked with the camera man and we stand by the story.

Emanuel has refused to comment as to whether he is the un-named presidential adviser cited in the FBI affidavit filed in the Blagojevich case. "You're wasting your time," Emanuel told a Chicago Sun Times reporter yesterday. "I'm not going to say a word to you. I'm going to do this with my children. Don't do that. I'm a father. I have two kids. I'm not going to do it."

Asked, "Can't you do both?" Emanuel replied, "I'm not as capable as you. I'm going to be a father. I'm allowed to be a father," and he pushed the reporter's digital recorder away, according to the Sun Times account.

The Mess that is Minnesota

Here's some of the latest from our good friends to the north in Minnesota. It's not pretty and is even messier than Florida.
DFLer Al Franken's campaign scored significant victories in the U.S. Senate recount Friday, as the state Canvassing Board approved the use of Election Day results for 133 Minneapolis ballots that can't be found and also recommended that counties sort and count absentee ballots that were mistakenly rejected.

But the five-member board revealed some fissures. That came when its two Supreme Court justices put the brakes on the apparent hopes of its two district judges to declare in advance that the board would accept the new results that include the previously rejected absentee votes.

The board chose instead to wait until those votes come in before deciding whether to accept them.
Here's additional comments that come via CQ Politics:
Democrat Al Franken’s hopes of unseating Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota’s undecided Senate race got a boost Friday, with a ruling by the state’s election oversight board that could expand the number of ballots counted in the now weeks-long canvassing of votes cast in their Nov. 4 election.

The Minnesota canvassing board — which is charged with certifying the state’s election totals — met Friday morning and recommended that each of the state’s 87 counties review absentee ballots that were initially rejected as invalid, and submit amended vote tallies that include any ballots found to be wrongly rejected.

The ruling set off another round in a series of back-and-forth accusations between the two campaigns.

The Franken campaign issued a statement immediately after the meeting calling the board’s decision “a devastating rejection of the Coleman campaign’s attempts to stop lawful votes from being counted.”

The Coleman campaign, however, said the canvassing board’s ruling will only confuse matters further and announced it was filing a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court asking it to issue uniform standards for sorting and counting improperly rejected absentee votes. It has also requested county officials put off reviewing rejected absentee ballots until the court rules.

“The confusing and overly expansive directives on how rejected absentee ballots should be treated by the Secretary of State’s Office over the past week leads us to the conclusion that there is no longer any uniform, statutory levels or standards by which legally rejected absentee ballots are being considered and reviewed in Minnesota,” Knaak said today.

The Coleman campaign also sent a letter to the canvassing board asking it to reconsider its recommendation, stating that a legal quagmire could result if it does not. “Input from each campaign’s counsel could have easily addressed these complexities and saved the lengthy legal process that we fear now appears inevitable,” Knaak wrote.

Another letter sent to election officials echoed the campaigns’ general concerns and requested that counties notify the campaign immediately if they intend to go ahead and review rejected absentee votes.

Franken’s lead attorney, Marc Elias, responded by calling the Coleman moves “extraordinary action . . . to try and halt this count and re-disenfranchise these voters.” And he disputed the notion that the counties lack standardized counting guidance, saying, “There is a uniform counting standard in Minnesota – it is the election code.”

Elias said he expected counties to ignore Coleman’s efforts to stop the review of rejected absentee ballots, however, and that the process would not be slowed.

The canvassing board, at its meeting, stated clearly that it does not have the authority to require counties to conduct such a review — something the Coleman campaign took pains to reiterate in its communication with election officials. The board said it is up to the candidates to pursue legal challenges to force the issue should any county decline to re-examine the legitimacy of the disputed ballots and count those deemed to have been wrongly excluded.

“We have made a strong recommendation and clearly we want every error corrected, but we’re not going laying out the specific ways that is going to take place,” said Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat who chairs the canvassing board. “The county canvassing boards have their responsibility and statutory authority to correct obvious errors, and we look forward to hearing from them as soon as possible.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

High Jackman hosting 81st Academy Awards (Oscar) Ceremony

Oscars.org makes it official that the host will not be a comedian. Hugh Jackman, or Logan or Wolverine, will be hosting the 81st Oscars ceremony when it airs on ABC in February. It's a good bet that he will forgo the usual monologue, which is usually one of the best parts.
Hugh Jackman will host the 81st Academy Awards® telecast, producer Laurence Mark and executive producer Bill Condon announced today. This will be Jackman’s first time center stage at the Oscar show, although he has previously been a presenter.

“Hugh Jackman is a consummate entertainer and an internationally renowned movie star,” said Mark and Condon in a joint statement. “He also has style, elegance and a sense of occasion. Hugh is the ideal choice to host a celebration of the year’s movies – and to have fun doing it.”

Jackman stars in the current release “Australia,” directed by Baz Luhrmann. He will next be seen in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” having portrayed the title character in the previous three smash-hit “X-Men” movies. His other film credits include “The Prestige,” “Flushed Away,” “The Fountain,” “Happy Feet,” “Van Helsing,” “Kate & Leopold” and “Swordfish.”

A native of Australia, Jackman won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in “The Boy from Oz.” He has served as host of the Tony Awards ceremony and won a 2005 Emmy for that assignment.[...]

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2009, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

John Harris resigns as chief of staff to Rod Blagojevich

Yahoo News:
The chief of staff to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has resigned, three days after he was arrested on government corruption charges along with his boss.

A Blagojevich spokesman said Friday that John Harris had resigned. He provided no other details.

Harris attorney Jim Sotos says his client resigned "because it was the right thing to do, and that's all I'm going to say."

Blagojevich and Harris were arrested Tuesday morning at their homes. Federal authorities accused them of scheming so Blagojevich could enrich himself through his power to appoint President-elect Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.
Blagojevich is still being a coward and has yet to resign from his post.

Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed an official complaint with the Illinois Supreme Court asking that Rod Blagojevich be stricken of his gubernatorial powers. Attorney General Madigan called on the governor to step down the other day.

Friday morning update: Rod Blagojevich has not resigned yet

Sadly, the United States Senate might not have the power to not seat the person that ends up being appointed by Rod Blagojevich.
In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled the House of Representatives could not refuse to seat Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, a New York Democrat who was accused of putting his wife on the payroll and misusing travel funds to vacation in the Caribbean. Despite those charges, he was reelected by his constituents in Harlem.

"The Constitution does not vest in the Congress a discretionary power to deny membership by majority vote," wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren. Congress may "judge only the qualifications set forth in the Constitution," he said.

The qualifications are minimal. A senator must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen and "an inhabitant" of the state.
And Jesse Jackson's allies are already raising money for Blago's campaign, as early as this past Saturday.
As Gov. Rod Blagojevich was trying to pick Illinois' next U.S. senator, businessmen with ties to both the governor and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. discussed raising at least $1 million for Blagojevich's campaign as a way to encourage him to pick Jackson for the job, the Tribune has learned.

Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who also has fundraising and business ties to the Jackson family, according to several attendees and public records.

Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson's bid for the Senate.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

FYI

I can't update my blogroll since Blogrolling is in the process of an upgrade so this is to let you know that Shack has moved here.

Bush astounded; Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn wants Blagojevich impeaced

While President Bush has yet to call on Blagojevich to resign, he finds the charges to be very astounding.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Thursday that Bush thinks the situation is very serious and the "charges are astounding."

Perino said she had not spoken to Bush about whether he thinks Blagojevich should resign, as Obama and other prominent Democrats have suggested.
Lt. Governor Pat Quinn says that the state of Illinois cannot afford to wait for a special election.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn today called on the Illinois House to begin impeachment proceedings against embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich next week, saying the state needs to move quickly to dump the governor if he won't resign.

Quinn said If he ascends to governor he would make one of his first orders of business the selection of a new U.S. senator to fill the vacancy caused by the departure of President-elect Barack Obama.

He said the new idea of holding a special election to fill Obama's replacement would be costly and could leave Illinois and the nation short of a senator for months at a critical juncture in history.
Illinois, please get with the picture and impeach him. Corrupt governors follow me and so far, none have resigned, nor have they been impeached. GET WITH IT!

The 66th Annual Golden Globe Nominees (Predictions in Bold)

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards, presented on Sunday, January 11, 2009 from 8-11 PM (EST) live from The Beverly Hilton on NBC. My predictions are in bold.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas – I've Loved You So Long
Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn – Milk
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Burn After Reading
Happy-Go-Lucky
In Bruges
Mamma Mia!
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Rebecca Hall – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
Frances McDormand – Burn After Reading
Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!
Emma Thompson – Last Chance Harvey

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Javier Bardem – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Colin Farrell – In Bruges
James Franco – Pineapple Express
Brendan Gleeson – In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman – Last Chance Harvey

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Amy Adams – Doubt
PenĂ©lope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis – Doubt
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Kate Winslet – The Reader

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder
Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes – The Duchess
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

Best Animated Feature Film
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
Wall-E

Best Foreign Language Film
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
Everlasting Moments (Sweden, Denmark)
Gomorrah (Italy)
I've Loved You So Long (France)
Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

Best Director - Motion Picture
Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David Fincher – The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Sam Mendes – Revolutionary Road

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Eric Roth - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley - Doubt
Peter Morgan - Frost/Nixon
David Hare - The Reader
Simon Beaufoy - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Alexandre Desplat - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Clint Eastwood - Changeling
James Newton Howard - Defiance
A. R. Rahman - Slumdog Millionaire
Hans Zimmer - Frost/Nixon

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Down To Earth" – Wall-E
Music By: Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
Lyrics By: Peter Gabriel

"Gran Torino" – Gran Torino
Music By: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens, Clint Eastwood and Jamie Cullum
Lyrics By: Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens

"I Thought I Lost You" – Bolt
Music & Lyrics By: Miley Cyrus and Jeffrey Steele

"Once In A Lifetime" – Cadillac Records
Music & Lyrics By: Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarmon, Ian Dench, James Dring and Jody Street

"The Wrestler" – The Wrestler
Music & Lyrics By: Bruce Springsteen


Best Television Series - Drama
Dexter (SHOWTIME)
House (FOX)
In Treatment (HBO)
Mad Men (AMC)
True Blood (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Sally Field – Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Mariska Hargitay – Law & Order (NBC)
January Jones – Mad Men (AMC)
Anna Paquin – True Blood (HBO)
Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer (TNT)

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Gabriel Byrne – In Treatment (HBO)
Michael C. Hall – Dexter (SHOWTIME)
Jon Hamm – Mad Men (AMC)
Hugh Laurie – House (FOX)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers – The Tudors (SHOWTIME)

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
30 Rock (NBC)
Californication (SHOWTIME)
Entourage (HBO)
The Office (NBC)
Weeds (SHOWTIME)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Christina Applegate – Samantha Who? (ABC)
America Ferrera – Ugly Betty (ABC)
Tina Fey – 30 Rock (NBC)
Debra Messing – The Starter Wife (USA)
Mary-Louise Parker – Weeds (SHOWTIME)

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock (NBC)
Steve Carell – The Office (NBC)
Kevin Connolly – Entourage (HBO)
David Duchovny – Californication (SHOWTIME)
Tony Shalhoub – Monk (USA)

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
A Raisin In The Sun (ABC)
Bernard And Doris (HBO)
Cranford (PBS)
John Adams (HBO)
Recount (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Judi Dench – Cranford (PBS)
Catherine Keener – An American Crime
Laura Linney – John Adams (HBO)
Shirley MacLaine – Coco Chanel
Susan Sarandon – Bernard And Doris (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Ralph Fiennes – Bernard And Doris (HBO)
Paul Giamatti – John Adams (HBO)
Kevin Spacey – Recount (HBO)
Kiefer Sutherland – 24 (FOX)
Tom Wilkinson – Recount (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Eileen Atkins – Cranford (PBS)
Laura Dern – Recount (HBO)
Melissa George – In Treatment (HBO)
Rachel Griffiths – Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Dianne Wiest – In Treatment (HBO)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Neil Patrick Harris – How I Met Your Mother
Denis Leary – Recount (HBO)
Jeremy Piven – Entourage (HBO)
Blair Underwood – In Treatment (HBO)
Tom Wilkinson – John Adams (HBO)

The Continuing Saga of Rod Blagojevich: Barack Obama strikes back

The latest in the never-ending saga of Rod Blagojevich is that President-elect Barack Obama is confident that his staff did not try and cut any sort of a deal for his old senate seat.
With the national spotlight focused on the Blagojevich scandal following the governor’s arrest Tuesday, Obama tried to explain to the nation the political culture in his home state of Illinois.

“I was appalled and disappointed by what we heard in those transcripts,” the president-elect said. “Here in Illinois, as I think is true across the country, there is a tradition of public service where people are getting in it for the right reasons and to serve. But there’s also a tradition where people view politics as a business.”

Obama also once again suggested Blagojevich should step aside as governor.

“We have to reclaim a tradition of public service that is about people and their lives and their hopes and their dreams, and it isn’t about what’s in it for me. And I think the public trust has been violated. Let me absolutely clear, I do not think that the governor at this point can effective serve the people of Illinois,” Obama said.[...]

“I have never spoken to the governor on this subject. I am confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat. I think the materials release by the U.S. attorney reflect that fact,” Obama said. “I’ve asked my team to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor’s office about this vacant seat, so that we can share them with you over the next few days.”

Later, Obama added: “But what I’m absolutely certain of is that our office had no involvement in any deal-making around my senate seat. That, I’m absolutely certain of. That would be a violation of everything that this campaign has been about. And that’s not how we do business.”

As for his former U.S. Senate seat, Obama said he wants “to see is a quick resolution of this issue. I want to make sure that the next senator from the state of Illinois is carrying a forward tradition of service, that the next senator from Illinois is not tainted by what has taken place so far.”
John Kass writes that by Chicago standards, Blagojevich is not crazy.

But is that all there is to the story? No way. Last night, Jon Stewart touched kids and here's what he had to say before that.
"Rod Blagovich," blurts Lou Dobbs, the CNN commentator, shown on tape..

"Lou Dobbs cant say a foreign-sounding name, what a surprise" Comedy Central's Jon Stewart says, with his Daily Show take on the many accusations facing Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused in a federal complaint of trying to sell the vacant Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama.

"What isn't he being charged with?" Stewart asks - for the answer, in the clip above, viewer discretion is advised,

The governor has moved on from being "a sleazy politician," Stewart suggests, to something out of a 19th Century German children's fable.

"Sadly," Stewart concludes, "graft is nothing new to Illinois" - noting that three of the last seven governors have landed in jail.

Comparing the percentage of that record with the numbers of people who are estimated to get away with murder each year, he concludes: "You are more likely to end up in jail if you become governor of Illinois than if you are a murderer."
You can vote on what we call the scandal! At 11:24 CT, gBay and Corruptapolooza were tied at 26%.

Prosecutors are unsure at this time were Tony Rezko will testify at Blago's trial.

The FBI did contact Sam Zell.

Both Blago and his chief of staff were at work this morning.