Governor Shakedown

Rod Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois, was arrested on federal corruption charges early this morning. The wheels of the FBI juggernaut have just splattered a lot of mud very, very close to President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama.

According to The Chicago Tribune:

Illinois Gov. Blagojevich, chief of staff, arrested

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning.

Blagojevich and Harris were arrested simultaneously at their homes at about 6:15 a.m., according to Frank Bochte of the FBI. Both were transported to FBI headquarters in Chicago.

In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.

So the governor’s office was offering to sell Obama’s vacant seat for the right price. It sounds like standard operating procedure for the Chicago political machine.

But Barack Obama is the child and beneficiary of that same machine. Who bought his chance at a Senate seat for him? And what price was paid for it?

It gets even more interesting:

Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.

The Tribune has just filed for Chapter 11, and one of the aggravating financial circumstances for it is the Wrigley Field white elephant. And yet here it is today, calmly reporting the fact that elements of its own management were attempting dirty deals with the governor to help it unload Wrigley Field.

What’s going on here? Is this sudden outburst of civic-minded journalism designed to make it look better to potential new investors when the paper emerges from Chapter 11?

Governor Blagojevich was evidently trying to grab a fistful of dollars as well a sinecure with the Obama administration:
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Corruption timeline Multimedia Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

The President-Elect, needless to say, knew nothing about the whole ugly affair:

Obama told reporters he was “saddened and sobered” by Blagojevich’s arrest.

“I was not aware of what was happening,” Obama said. “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening.”

Just Like Bill Ayers, or Tony Rezko, or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or Rashid Khalidi. All those questionable extremists and sleazebags dropped into a low orbit around BHO, but somehow he never noticed them, never talked to them, and never had any contact with them, even when they sat on boards with him, or dumped boatloads of cash into his campaign, or preached sermons right in front of him about the white devil, or bought him a house.

Didn’t see nothin’.

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One intriguing aspect of this business is the possibility that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, was one of the people who turned Gov. Blagojevich in:

A reporter at a Fox affiliate in Chicago says he received a tip that Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s pick for chief of staff, blew the whistle on the Democratic governor.

Curiouser and curiouser.

For the full information on the substance of the case, see the Chicago FBI website. Tony Rezko is named as one of those involved, and he has already been convicted on corruption charges. Is it possible that the severity of his sentence was tied to his co-operation in nailing the higher-ups?

And who is higher up than Rod Blagojevich? Who can he finger to help shorten his term in the slammer, or at least make himself more comfortable during his stay with the federal corrections authorities?

Beyond the fact that it is a sewer of corruption, I know very little about Chicago and its politics. If there are any Illinois residents among our readers, please feel free to amplify on these matters in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Governor Shakedown

  1. Ah yes it’s the Chicago Way. It long ago became a Illinois state wide tradition and may become a national tradition under the tutelage of the “One”. I have lived in many large metro areas in the U. S. over the years and Chicagoland was one of them. The Chicago machine like the one in New Orleans took corruption to the level of an art form albeit Bobby Jindal seems to be in the process of cleaning the state of Louisiana and that city up something I would have considered close to impossible. Even in Chicago one has to be at least a little discreet but Blagojevich seems to have been anything but discreet. It seems that folks in Chicago simply accept political corruption as an axiom and a natural endemic quality of politics. To be fair political corruption is pretty widespread in most large cities. Anyway I have often wondered if Chicago politicians maybe did an internship with the masters of corruption in old Mexico, the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional).

    A politician who is poor is a poor politician.

    – Carlos Hank Gonzalez (El Profesor)
    PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional)

  2. I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening

    “I had no contact” is not what Obama was saying a few weeks ago. Do not expect the mainstream media to follow up on this inconsistency.

  3. gxm– you’re right. Bigger the city, the bigger the corruption. It was bad in the mid-19th century, cleaned up some, and then steadily descended to its present level.

    I blame the socialism brought in by FDR. It is always accompanied by endemic corruption because there are so many goodies to be handed out.

    When I lived in Boston it was the same way. Is Boston the only city to have a mayor serve his term from prison as Curley did? Will Illinois become the first state to have its governor hold office from the federal pen?

    I wonder what the Illinois Consitution has to say? Lt Gov Quinn is salivating to be sworn in as successor in graft. Then *he* gets to name the person to succeed Obama in the Senate seat Obama vacated.


    randian — you could be right, but OTOH, the press has kept its pledge of getting him elected and now they have this new circus to attend. Scandal trumps loyalty every time…

  4. Big deal. On Monday Blogo attacks the Bank of America for failing to lend money to a plant occupied by some Union members. On Tuesday Blogo is arrested. Coincidence, I don’t think so. Blogo blew it. He should have “fixed” the Wrigley Field sale, then got a big fat consulting contract from Tribune Co. That’s the way things are done today. At least that’s how they’re done in New York and Houston. Blogo is out of date.

  5. A Merry Fitzmas every one.

    Patrick Fitzgerald is the US District Attorney for Northern Illinois. He has a passive aggressive prosecution style. Given his choice he will prosecute anyone, but he does not go to the Grand Jury until he has evidence to convict – most DA’s will go to the GJ to investigate. I think Blogo is toast.

    Actually, this one is a new low even by Chicago standards. But then Blogo is corrupt even by Chicago standards.

    I think the plan was that Fitzgerald would be fired first thing and replaced with a Chicago Machine approved DA who would let the corruption investigations die quietly. This wrecks that plan. Since Obama is a former Campaign manager for Blogo I think he more or less saw something coming and his staff had orders not to answer the phone from Blogo. But Blogo is not one to go down alone so it is going to get interesting.


  6. I blame the socialism brought in by FDR. It is always accompanied by endemic corruption because there are so many goodies to be handed out.

    I will go out on a ledge (not being American myself) and give a different, yet related, guess:

    Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society handouts.

    The work of the FDR administration (Great Depression and all) were largely repealed after WWII, and the economy bounced into action, decreasing poverty by roughly 1 % a year for two decades.

    City centers were the last to benefit, to say the least, and people with money moved out in droves. Stagnant city councils etc. were not doing too well on the matter.

    This is where Lyndon B. and his plans for the Great Society, the welfare system etc. kicked in, with massive federal handouts to troubled cities.

    This halted the decline in poverty effectively, and institutionalized the idea of cities as trouble spots in need of further handouts, the ideal place for corruption to thrive.

    The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History

  7. Henrick–

    You could be right. But I don’t think we could have had Johnson’s “War on Poverty” without the permanent scaffolding that FDR set up.

    Several things didn’t “go away” at all:

    *The first and major one was Social Security, our cancerous Ponzi scheme.

    *The second (and just as major) was having Social Security and taxes deducted from your paycheck before you rec’d your pay. Another idea brought to you by the FDR administration. People stopped understanding what their real income was — or rather, there began to be a serious disconnect in understanding the difference between net and gross pay.

    If people actually had to come up with that money every April 15th, instead of “filing papers” they’d realize how they wuz robbed.

    Instead, thanks to FDR’s scheme, when someone gets a refund of the surplus they might have paid in, all is joy and happiness — they rec’d a gift from the IRS. Never mind that the govt used that money interest free for a year…

    *The third was the idea that employers came up with to get around the controls put in place during the War re freezing salaries. Employers began to offer “benefits” like health insurance.

    Third party payers came between doctors and their patients and a whole new industry was born.

    *Finally, there was the decision to go off the gold standard and have a monetary system by fiat — “just print the &^*(% money, Jack”…and put it in circulation.

    But to go back to the real beginning a generation earlier. Start with the infamous year of 1913: the founding of the Federal Reserve, a consortium of private banks that is not a part of the federal government (despite its name), nor are the banks necessarily American banks.

    Also in that infamous year we have the questionable ratification of the 16th amendment, allowing for the collection of income taxes. I think there is a tax revolution coming in this country. Will it go so far as to roll back the 16th Amendment? Hard to say.

    So go forward again to the convenient abolition of the gold standard in the ’30’s — thank you, John Maynard Keynes — just in time to fund the war.

    As Alan Greenspan is reported to have said in 1966:

    under the gold standard, a free banking system stands as the protector of an economy’s stability and balanced growth… The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit… In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation.

    Well, Nixon killed that one for us. And then Greenspan came along 30 years later to wreak his havoc, trying to tweak a system that has grown far too large and chaotic to respond predictably to being tweaked anymore.

    Sooo…Johnson’s War on Poverty was the Dem’s grab for the black vote, and it worked. But it was only another step toward a socialist state.

    Now comes FDR Redux to see what he can do to further our progress down the road Europe has found ruinous.

    You see, socialists never learn…they just keep coloring the same picture but using different crayons. They swear that this time their pretty picture will work. It really will. They promised.

    And now corruption eats up everything in sight…

    We don’t live under the Constitution anymore and we haven’t for a while. That’s why people are so busy buying guns. A large portion of this country not only thinks the Constitution is dead, they don’t believe we live under the rule of law anymore.

  8. I don’t know enough to make a judgement on that one, islam o’phobe.

    The whole word runs on a “fiat” monetary system now. Our debt is too studpendously large to consider it now, but had we kept it to begin with, would we be in the mess we’re in now?

    Here’s a good article on the question you raise:

    How to Return to a Gold Standard

    I find economic theory something I have to read carefully. You can’t skim it. Or at least, I can’t.

    At the end of that essay is an email address for the author. You might try asking him that question, *after* reading his answer first.

    I’m sure more questions will occur to you as you read.

    Be sure to glance at the comments. They are few but range widely on the topic.


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