The Blago Tapes

Secret recordings of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) — in which the governor discussed dealing with gambling legislation and an alleged interest in a corresponding campaign donation — were played in public for the first time during his impeachment trial today.

The Chicago Sun Times quotes state Sen. Dan Cronin (R) on the tapes: “It sounds like a couple of organized crime figures out preparing to break some kneecaps. It’s just horrible. It’s nauseating. It’s sickening.”

The Chicago Tribune posts the audio and transcripts.


Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) launched a new political action committee calledSarahPAC which is “dedicated to building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.”

Obama Meets with House Republicans

A Republican source tells Time magazine that “nearly as many House Republicans sought to get their photos taken with Obama as questioned him about the stimulus during their meeting.”

More Americans Confident Change is Coming

The latest Diageo/Hotline Poll finds that 75% of voters are “confident” that President Obama will bring “real change to the way things are done in Washington, D.C.” This represents a nine-point increase from the 66% of voters who said they were “confident” in his ability to bring real change in the poll conducted immediately after the election.

It seems Obama’s inaugural speech had a lot to do with it. A whopping 83% of those who watched the speech said it made them “more optimistic” that the U.S. will meet its challenges.

Most Famous Ever?

Dee Dee Myers: “Barack Obama is the most famous living person in the history of the world.”

McCain’s Media Strategy Exposed

In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, former McCain presidential campaign staffer Michael Goldfarb explains how he was hired “to attack the press” as an official campaign blogger. 

He explains: “That struck me as a really bad idea, but when a presidential campaign calls up and offers you a job you take it. I didn’t think they’d follow through on the claim the way they promised, and I expected to be reined in pretty quickly — end up working on statements and the like. I didn’t expect to have free reign to do what I wanted.”

In a related story, Greg Sargent obtained a memo in which top McCain aides “seriously considered barring all reporters from The New York Times from the McCain campaign plane to protest what McCain aides insisted was nonstop unfair coverage of McCain from the paper.”

Blago Radio

If he can keep himself out of jail, WGN Radio has offered Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich its afternoon time slot, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said program director Kevin Metheny: “We’ve been impressed by the mastery of public policy, newshound-like familiarity with the events of the day, and remarkable facility with banter displayed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich… In all probability the governor will soon be unemployed… and frankly, he could use a good medical plan to defray the expenses of psychiatric care.”

Life Without Lawyers

Liberating Americans from Too Much LawIn the mail: Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law by Philip K. Howard.

From the book jacket: “Americans are losing the freedom to make sense of daily choices — teachers can’t maintain order in the classroom, managers are trained to avoid candor, schools ban the game of tag, and companies plaster inane warnings on everything: ‘Remove Baby Before Folding Stroller.’ … Today we are flooded with rules and legal threats that prevent us from taking responsibility and using our common sense.”

Howard is also the author of the wildly popular book, The Death of Common Sense.

Republicans Urge Vote Against Obama Plan

Despite President Obama’s planned outreach to Republicans on Capitol Hill this afternoon, House GOP leaders “told their rank-and-file members Tuesday morning during a closed-door meeting to oppose the bill when it comes to the floor Wednesday,” Politico reports.

It’s becoming clear that Obama may need a dual strategy in dealing with Congress: Use bipartisanship for public relations purposes and to get additional votes in the Senate while pushing legislation through the House on party line votes.

Update: Republicans are still open to supporting a stimulus package in the House, a GOP leadership aide tells the Huffington Post.

Bloomberg Holds Wide Lead in Re-Election Bid

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg holds double-digit leads over likely Democratic challengers, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. He’s ahead of William Thompson (D), 50% to 34%, and beats Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), 50% to 35%.

Key factor: New York voters approve of the job Bloomberg is doing by a 69% to 25% margin.

In a Democratic primary, Weiner edges Thompson, 30% to 23% with 47% undecided.

Update: A New York 1 poll has the race closer: Bloomberg leads Thompson, 45% to 36%, and is ahead of Weiner, 43% to 36%.

Potential Gillibrand Rival Was a Donor

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) may be threatening a primary challenge to newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) over her pro-gun stand, but campaign finance records show McCarthy actually donated $1,500 to Gillibrand’s two successful House races, according to Newsday.

McCarthy’s explanation: “Yeah, I gave her money. I didn’t know what her stance was.”

McCarthy said she is “nowhere near” declaring her candidacy and won’t decide if she will until spring or early summer.

Contribution Limits Raised for 2009

According to The Hill, individual donors will now be able to give up to $2,400 per election, or $4,800 for both a primary and a general. That’s up from the $2,300 per-election limit during the 2008 cycle.

In addition, donors are also able to contribute $30,400 to national parties, higher than the $28,500 they were allowed to give last cycle. A single donor is limited to $115,500 — including $45,600 to candidates — per cycle.

Party Bosses Will Pick Candidates to Replace Gillibrand

CQ Politics describes the “insiders-only process” to choosing the candidates to run in the special election to replace Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in her old NY-20 district.  Instead of a primary, local party bosses will pick the candidates.

New York Gov. David Paterson (D) “has yet to set a date for the special election to determine Gillibrand’s successor in the House, but local political leaders anticipate it will take place some time in March.”

The Power Call

Politico runs an interesting piece on the daily telephone conversations between James Carville, Paul Begala, George Stephapoulos and Rahm Emanuel — “four old friends who suddenly find themselves standing once more at the busiest intersection of politics and media in Washington.”

“It was Emanuel’s ascension into Barack Obama’s inner circle — even as Carville and Begala remained closely linked with the defeated Clinton political machine — that saved the group from irrelevance.”

Blagojevich TV

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) media blitz continues for a second day this week with an astonishing 11 interviews on his schedule today.

Paterson Called Out on Leaks

Fred Dicker: “Gov. Paterson yesterday insisted he had no idea who did the slime job on Caroline Kennedy — although the source of the information is about as close to him during the day as his wife is at night. He’s a liar.”

“The person responsible for the smear was an individual whose identity is well known to the press, whose full-time job is to do the governor’s bidding, and who is intelligent enough not to call reporters to damage Kennedy’s reputation without approval from the top — and that means Paterson.”

Quote of the Day

“I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.”

— President Obama, in an interview with Al-Arabiya.

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