December 10, 2008
December 9, 2008
I was just starting to feel a bit more optimistic about the American political system when I came across this. I have two final exams tomorrow, so I can't say very much right now, but I thought I should share it with you. It is pretty disturbing...I can only say that I'm glad he was caught...but in the case of Illinois Governors I don't have much confidence. Here's a concise article from the Canadian newspaper the National Post:
WASHINGTON -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on corruption charges involving an alleged scheme to sell or trade Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat in exchange for a high-ranking position in the president-elect's administration, a high-paying non-governmental job or prominent corporate appointments for his wife.
In a stunning political development, federal prosecutors allege Mr. Blagojevich conspired to find ways to secure the job as Mr. Obama's health secretary or a six-figure charitable foundation job elsewhere in exchange for appointing a particular candidate to fill the open Illinois Senate seat.
Under Illinois law, the governor is responsible for naming a temporary successor when a U.S. Senate seat is vacated.
In a series of court-authorized wiretapped conversations, Mr. Blagojevich was also heard following the Nov. 4 election discussing ways to obtain corporate board appointments for his wife or an ambassadorship for himself.
"I've got this [power] and it's f------ golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for f-----' nothing," he is quoted as saying in a sworn affidavit by investigators.
In the affidavit, Mr. Blagojevich is repeatedly quoted saying he might appoint himself to the U.S. Senate if he could not secure a deal that provided him financial or professional benefit.
"I want to make money," Mr. Blagojevich allegedly said in one call. He spoke of finding ways to "conduct indirectly ... a negotiation" for the Senate seat.
"Unless I get something real good ... I'll just send myself [to the Senate], you know what I'm saying," he is quoted as saying in another call.
"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself." He later says the Senate seat is "is a f------ valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."
Several potential Senate candidates -- all unnamed in the affidavit -- were discussed in calls Mr. Blagojevich allegedly had with his chief of staff, a deputy governor, his wife and others. One potential successor, referred to only as Senate Candidate 1, is described in the affidavit as an Obama adviser likely to be favoured by the president-elect.
When Mr. Blagojevich reports that he is being told by one of his consultants to "suck it up" and not try to negotiate a deal on the Senate appointment, the governor unleashes a string of profanities.
"For nothing? F--- him," he says, referring to Mr. Obama.
Since the election, several people have been mentioned as potential successors to Mr. Obama. They include Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who served as a national co-chair of Obama's campaign, Obama campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett, Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, Illinois State Representative Emil Jones, another longtime Mr. Obama friend, and Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who lost both of her legs in the war.
The charges against Mr. Blagojevich relating to Mr. Obama's vacant Senate seat follow a years-long investigation into Mr. Blagojevich, who is accused of engaging in "pay for play" schemes that include receiving contributions in exchange for political favours.
Mr. Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, face charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, said in a statement. "They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale' sign on the naming of a United States senator ... The citizens of Illinois deserve public officials who act solely in the public's interest, without putting a price tag on government appointments, contracts and decisions."
Mr. Fitzgerald is best known for his prosecutions of Canadian media baron Conrad Black and former White House aide Lewis ‘Scooter' Libby.
December 8, 2008
This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed-or were killed-on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.
"At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border" by William Stafford, from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. © Graywolf Press.
Reading it I was somewhat reminded of the Peace Arch sitting on the exact international boundary between Blaine, Washington and Surrey, BC. The signs read "Children of a common mother" on the American side and "Brethren dwelling together in unity" on the Canadian side.
The signs read "Children of a common mother" on the American side and "Brethren dwelling together in unity" on the Canadian side.
Despite its faults, the Canadian-American relationship is one of the strongest in the world, with the US and Canada being the world's largest trading partners and haring the world's longest shared border in the world.
I think that what John F. Kennedy said in 1961 still holds true today:
Geography has made us neighbours, History has made us friends, Economics has made us partners and necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.
What unites us is far greater than what divides us. The issues and irritants that inevitably affect all neighbors are small deed in comparison with the issues that we face together--above all the somber threat now posed to the whole neighborhood of this continent--in fact, to the whole community of nations. But our alliance is born, not of fear, but of hope. It is an alliance that advances what we are for, as well as opposes what we are against.