Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rod Blagojevich and [The President-elect]

I have been called a cynic, an anarchist, a nihilist, and, in the words of one memorable email, someone who "irresponsibly spew(s) vitriol".
But every now and then, someone pulls back the curtain to show me that government really is worse than I have feared.
The National Post has the best summary of the Illinois Governor's indictment so far. The Post is a Canadian outfit, so they at least mention which political party Rod Blagojevich is affiliated with, a fact that's curiously absent from a lot of the U.S. press coverage.
(Hint: This might have been your first guess, but Blagojevich is NOT a Libertarian. So guess again.)

The picture of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, former Senator Barack Obama, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley came from this article in Salon, the last few lines of which might become funnier with age. We'll see.

Back to the National Post:

Reuters reports that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on criminal charges on Tuesday, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat President-elect Barack Obama, federal prosecutors said.
Blagojevich was also accused of threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of the Chicago Cubs' baseball home Wrigley Field "to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical" of him.

I'm not going to go off on why The Great State of Illinois needs to provide "substantial state assistance" to The Chicago Tribune in their sale of a ballpark. Especially when The Chicago Tribune is supposed to be a watchdog over the shady goings-on in The Great State of Illinois. But, as my friend Dr. Ralph tells me, they do things differently up there.

The 51-year-old Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were charged in a 76-page federal indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. Both were taken into custody at their homes in Chicago.

The FBI's criminal complaint doesn't give any names of the senatorial candidates under discussion, but refers to them as [Senate Candidate #1] through [Senate Candidate #5]. To protect the privacy of the individual who vacated the Senate seat that was for sale on Ebay, the FBI omits his name and calls him [the President-elect].

Here's an example, from an intercepted conference call. This has people all over Chicago trying to guess who's who:

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “****** ******** **** **** **** [the President-elect] his senator.

**** him.

For nothing? **** him.”

ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give ****ng [Senate Candidate 1] a ****ing Senate seat and I don’t get anything.”

I'm not condemning the profanity on these calls. At my workplace, we have to say worse than that to get one box on a UPS truck. I merely wanted to illustrate that the Illinois governor wasn't going to simply appoint the best person for the job and not even get an ambassadorship out of it. Here's the Chicago Tribune:

....Blagojevich is quoted in the affidavit as frequently speaking of the president-elect with profanity and scorn. But there is an overlap among some of their top political confidants.

Axelrod ran Blagojevich's successful 1996 campaign for a Northwest Side U.S. House seat, though the two later had a falling-out. When Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002, his replacement in Congress was Rahm Emanuel, now Obama's designee as chief of staff. Emanuel and Blagojevich have since worked closely on several initiatives.

This is a link to the entire FBI complaint. If you have time, skim the first few pages, then flip to page 60, and read to the end.

Good Lord in heaven. These people are urban Snopeses. (Also, you might not be familiar with the SEIU, a group frequently mentioned in the complaint. SEIU stands for the "Service Employees International Union". They spent more than 16 million dollars getting [the President-elect] elected.)

Until January 21st, or until further complaints are filed by the FBI, I intend to refer to the individual who vacated this controversial senate seat as [the President-elect].


Suzette Watkins said...

I've been called names too. Oh well, can't please 100% of the people, 100% of the time. We all have to stay true to our calling, I say keep on exercising your right to speak freely. After all, we ARE living in America -- "Home of the Free." (?)

Regarding the scandal - good for the American voter to see their government at work.

Anonymous said...


Flee said...

Anonymous you make a good point about the caliber of people one associates with. We need more moral people like Tom Delay to model ourselves after.

Dr Ralph said...

WS - to say they do things differently in Chicago barely covers it.

The late Mike Royko (whose book "Boss" is essential to understanding the politics of Chicago under the first Mayor Daley) once proposed the city's motto be changed to Ubi Est Mea—"Where's Mine?" Jonathan Alter at Newsweek has a great column on Royko and the current situation.

Alter (and others) point out that, to old-time Chicago ward-heelers, Rod Blagojevich's real failing is not his astonishing greed and arrogance but his colossal stupidity. Here's a guy who, from almost day one, was under investigation for shady dealings, taunting the authorities to bug his phone -- and he goes and snarls obscenities about selling this empty senate seat.


Note as well that 4 out of the last 8 Illinois Governors - both Democrats and Republicans - have done time for corruption.

On the other hand, most reports I've read or heard (even on Fox News) have gone out of their way to point out Obama's lack of involvement this sordid mess. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzpatrick, in his news conference announcing "Rod the Clod's" indictment, went out of his way to state Obama was not implicated in any way. See Michael Hirsh's article "Obama the Untouchable" for more on this.

To suggest otherwise, given the facts we've been presented with, demonstrates at best a certain laziness on the part of the writer searching for an easy rant, or at worst, something akin to Karma Whoring.

I expect better from you, sir!

The Whited Sepulchre said...

If you're victorious in your election, I want to bribe you into doing some road improvements on the east side. (We'll keep it very, very secret....)

Cynical Anon,
I'm going to write something soon about when we'll see the first Mainstream Media apologist wondering if they should've vetted (the President-elect) a little closer.

My political role model is gambling addict and virtue-monger/drug czar William Bennett. Not only do you have the discord between public statements and private behavior, but Bennett can usually walk into a casino and win big. Something we all should aspire to.

I love me some Mike Royko, and my late father took it to an even higher level.

I know and understand that (the President-elect) has not been implicated in any way.

I also believe the transition teams' statements that Obama hasn't had any discussions with Bloggo about who to put in the now empty Senate seat. There's no transition necessary, no real need to appoint someone sympathetic to all of Obama's priorities, and it's a position that would cost millions to win (fairly or unfairly) in an election. Surely no one in Illinois has contacted (the President-elect) about being his replacement.
Conversations about a lowly Senate seat between the Democrat Governor and the former Democrat Senator?

Anyway, Rod is looking at a a long stretch of time in the slammer, and his best hope of reducing that time will be to follow through on the FBI's requests (those similar to the ones made of Ned Beatty in "Deliverance".) Listen toward the North, for sounds of squealing. We shall see.

BTW, I never attempt Karma Whoring. Being a Libertarian Karma Whore (whose candidate got almost 1/2 of 1% of the popular vote) would take more effort than I can imagine.

Dr Ralph said...

WS -- don't be modest! I suspect you have a large and loyal readership amongst the Libertarian community that would be ripe for Karma Whoring, should you ever choose to go down that dark path (not that you would, despite my previous crack). I avoid this sin on my site by having virtually no readers.

As an aside, for years, one of my proudest possessions was my first driver's license, signed by Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell, whose motto was, "There's only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that's a broke one." After his death, $800,000 in cash was discovered stuffed in shoe boxes at his residence.

Yes, they do do things differently up there.