Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blago in context 

I love Chicago. I lived there for eight years back in the day, and would happily return. While there (during the late '80s and early '90s), I embraced Chicago's view that politics is theater as much as anything else. But that does not mean that they are enjoying the current scandal, which is, well, icky. This short column proposes a theory for that ickiness that is as plausible as any:

In Chicago politics, outright reformers have always been held a little suspect. They are considered too smug to forgive human frailty and temptation, while regulars have a human touch. Larceny may beat in their hearts -- but at least you can tell what's in their hearts; whereas reformers expect people to live by rules.

Reform gets identified with well-educated people who are comfortable with laws that say city jobs should go to the person who is best qualified. After all, educated people usually are the best qualified. Regulars know that regular people sometimes need a little help. Under this kind of ethic, steering rewards to friends and family becomes a virtue. As Mayor Richard J. Daley once famously exclaimed when caught trying to shovel city insurance business to one of his sons (not Richard M. or Bill Daley), "Any father who doesn't do for his son isn't a good father, and if they don't like it, kiss my ass."

A Chicago alderman once complained to me about modern reform hiring laws -- the line was so good, I borrowed it, unembellished, for a novel -- "What's this world coming to when a guy can get a job for a stranger more easily than he can for his brother in law?"

But even those who live by this kind of code are appalled by the allegations against Mr. Blagojevich. Reaping reward for appointing someone to the senate is not unprecedented, or even unethical. I am confident that if Gov. Blagojevich had appointed Valerie Jarrett, Mr. Obama's reported favorite, to the seat, the people in his administration would consider that they owed the governor some sort of favor, and would have resurfaced a highway, or invited him to a White House dinner with Angelina Jolie. But unsubtly putting a senate seat up for personal auction, as if it were a piece of family jewelry, is arrogance that makes even hardened pols shudder.

Yet that's not even the item that angers me most. Among U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's bill of particulars is the charge that Gov. Blagojevich sought to rescind a state payment of $8 million to Children's Memorial Hospital if their CEO failed to organize a $50,000 contribution to the governor.

Many shameless politicians would send free turkeys to a children's hospital. The publicity is good, and it might help them sleep at night. But this governor was willing to stint on their care if a hospital official didn't oblige him with cash.

When I was in high school, a group of friends and I would pass out toys and candy to children in the hospital wards there. It was both the saddest and sweetest event of the season, and the thought that a public official would dare diminish the care of sick, innocent children over a campaign contribution doesn't just deserve an indictment. I think it reserves that politician a seat in Hell.

I suspect that Patrick Fitzgerald and his team had much the same reaction, which may in turn be one reason why they announced Blagojevich's arrest with such poorly regulated glee.


By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Sat Dec 13, 09:12:00 AM:

I attended a Christmas party at a toney K Street restaurant-bar sponsored by Amgen (one of your competitors?) and Wal Mart. The party-goers drinking free Ciroc and slurping seafood, shaking their rumps to Beyonce? Hill staffers from both parties.

In Chicago, they just don't hide behind the velvet, the euphemisms, the layers of lobbyists, special assistants and bag men. That's the difference.

Here's how an Illinois REPUBLICAN explained it to me, vis. Obama specifically. Yeah, Barack's rise went to light speed when the Illinois GOP imploded in criminal conduct just like Blago's, but it was always subject to the cross currents and tides (and ass-kissing he was forced to perform re: three entities:
(1) former Panther Bobby Rush's machine and constituency--Rush being the ONLY person ever to beat him in a campaign. (2) The more global machine of which Blago is an associate of sorts, and (3) the apparatus of King Richard II, Mayor for Life. Even the folks at Fox News (other than douche "journalist" Hannity) know that these puckerings revolted Obama and his ilk, and Barack would love nothing more than to sterilize his lips and the entire city. As the inside scoop here in DC hints, and my conservative friend from the Waynes World burbs affirmed, don't be surprised if the US atty received calls from Rahm Emmanuel, or some info from...not ON...Valerie Jarrett. Obama is Mr. Nice Guy. Genuinely. But there is another side. A Michael Corleone side. Think of Blago Barzini. Safe to say Barack has utterly co-opted his first enemy, Rush. Now comes the nudge of self-destruction of the machine, with Blago as allegory. His ultimate target? Youbetcha, as Palin-Fey-Margie from Fargo would say. Mayor Dickie. Barack is trying to turn Chicago and the Illinois Democratic Party into his fiefdom. Period. If there's reform along the way, wonderful. If he just replaces this machine with his own, well, as Sean Connery said, "That's the Chicago way." If it makes you blush, move to Wassila...LOL  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 09:50:00 AM:

Hey, Michelle got a huge raise because of the system!! Scratch here, pay here. Have no fear, she and Barry are the only virgins in the whorehouse? When there is a Republican scandal, imagined or otherwise, the MSM are prosecuting attorneys. When Democrats are involved, especially The One, the MSM are defense attorneys. Oh how gleeful the left was when Fitz went after Rove, Bush and only found Scooter guilty of a poor memory, unrelated to any actual charges. Barry and Team are guilty of much more on a daily basis. Haven't talked to Blago? How about Nov 2? And on and on.

Fitz, say hello to Vince. Welcome to Barry's neighborhood.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 09:55:00 AM:

And 64 million of us, in willful ignorance, voted for, and thus celebrated and annointed this corruption. Do I think there this only happens in Chicago, Illinois? Of course not. But I believe critical mass has been reached; a perfect storm of ignorance and arrogance, willful breaking of laws and ethics has won the day and probably will for a very long time to come.
Obama caused me to reflect upon his first appointments that maybe I was wrong about him. But, I'm not.Obama believes that ONLY government, particularly his, can solve anything. Now he wants HIS government to "fix" healthcare and AGW. Only a dangerous and romantic fool would believe this. There are market based solutions for healthcare, and AGW is the latest myth of liberal scoundrels to scare the stupid and shut down all human endeavor.

As R.W. Reagan said, "government doesn't solve problems, government IS the problem...." In this season's bailout mania, I've yet to hear anyone talk about 'bailing out' Social Security and Medicare, two colossally large government screwups.

America is sprinting to self destruction.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 10:21:00 AM:

I can't afford to bid on the Illinois Senate vacancy, the dollars are just to high. I would like to bid on Emanuel's vacancy (there is very good money to be had selling the influence of a busy Congressman) but I don't want to pay too much. Does anyone know how much Jesse Jackson Jr. paid for his franchise?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 02:06:00 PM:

CC's blatherings are nearly as crazy these days as Hot Rod's. Look, Obama and Emmanuel were CLOSE political allies of Blago's, so close that Emmanuel took his seat in Congress, and Emmanuel and Obama were two of the four man group that closely managed Hot Rod's campaign for governor.

Scrub history as you wish CC, but Obama is no doubt as dirty as any other Chicago machine pol, otherwise he would never have been permitted to run for dogcatcher much less occupy a valuable Senate seat.

The issue of Obama's involvement in Chicago machine politics is an established historical fact. Only a moron would try to pretend he is the only clean pol ever to pass through the inner workings of the Daley machine and emerge clean as the the day he entered. That question is settled. The only question yet to be answered and pertinent to the issues today is "can Fitzgerald get him?". I say "no", based on all I've heard and read so far.

But CC, please, stop the BS. It's ridiculous.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 02:07:00 PM:

Sorry Emanuel, not Emmanuel. Spelling is an issue for me.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 04:34:00 PM:

"The only question yet to be answered and pertinent to the issues today is "can Fitzgerald get him?""
Very funny, I like that dry kind of humor. Futz will be looking for a job the day after Hussein is sworn in.
There were two articles today that were critical of Fitz or, at least, his style. We already know that both Obama and the Chicago mob (assuming there is a difference) have very thin skins.
Fitz is gone!! And, I bet Obama, Emanuel Blago and DeLeo already have cashed the check his replacement paid for the appointment.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Dec 13, 06:58:00 PM:

I've posted a more detailed version of this elsewhere on TigerHawk.

Obama may still have a big exposure because of Tony Rezko. MSM is ignoring that much of the charges brought against Gov Blago this week involve Tony Rezko and that a footnote in the Blago charges says that Rezko has been holding out on Prosecutor Fitz, so there may be more shoes to drop.

MSM has never reported that earlier this year Obama was a target of Fitz investigation, as was Gov Blags. Rezko sent a letter to the presiding judge early in the year that confirms this.

Whether Obama is still a target is an open question. The press wants to read into Fitz's statements that he isn't ... but that's not what Fitz is saying. He's being careful not to say anything about Obama. All Fitz' comments are prefaced with "This complaint says ..."

The Gov Blago charges are largely based on a recent wire ... but Fitz has been runnning wires for years and had a mole inside Rzko's office ... so who knows what he has.

Fitz is now harder to fire. I'd expect him to bring more charges in the next few weeks to make it harder still. My pick is Allison Davis ... the head of Obama's law firm and Rezko's crony / business partner. There's a picture of Davis on Fitz' website for seemingly no reason. Coded message?


By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sun Dec 14, 03:03:00 PM:

Obama did not rise out of the sea swathed in a state of immaculate conception like Botticelli's Venus.

He crawled out of the swamps of the Sanitary Canal covered in the slime of Chicago politics.

I have posted early and often on this topic, so at the risk of being found utterly redundant here we go again.

It is impossible for Obama to come where he came from and be completely clean. Fitz has said that neither Obama nor Emanuel are "specific" targets of his investigation. But if Fitz doesn't get fired he will continue to put pressure on people who know, and something is bound to pop out if he pushes hard enough.

Other posters who think that Obama is doing this to get the Daleys and clean up the machine are purely delusional. Obama started as a "community organizer" on the South Side before he went to law school. In the Tammany days, the "community organizer" was the local Irish saloon keeper, a source of influence and jobs. You get the idea. Obama has not been doing this for a little while, He's been doing it for close to 20 years.

The reason why Obama is saying no comment is that anything he says can and will be used against him, and he will not say anything to endanger the Daley machine because he is part of the Daley machine. They are his closest advisors and confidants, they will be the people he listens to most carefully as he goes forward, just like JFK with the Irish mafia from Boston.

Anyone who doesn't understand this is drinking some serious kool aid.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 14, 05:30:00 PM:

I got hyped on the Rezko angle back in June when I figured out that Obama was a Fitz target, as well as Gov Blago. There's evidence of this in the Rezko trial record, if you look ... Rezko said as much in an early 2008 letter to the presiding where he cried about his bail being revoked. The Obama mansion deal screams out that Obama was paid by Rezko for something ... but what?

One subtlety is that Fitz convicted Rezko without naming the Illinois officials who helped him corrupt the two state boards at issue. We now know from last week's charges that one was Gov Blago, but there was at least one more.

A very good left wing investigative journalist -- Evelyn Pringle -- broke the details about Obama's motive and opportunity to help Rezko corrupt the Illinois Hospital Board. Her work was suppressed by threats of lawsuit, and ignored by MSM ... but can still be found out on the web. Just google "Pringle ... Rezko ... Obama"

Fitz is still investigating connections to the Illinois Hospital Board. You're about to hear a lot about John Wyma ... who is "Individual A" in the recent Gov Blago charges ... but MSM will likely ignore the footnote in the charges that link Wyma to the Hospital Planning Board just like recent MSM stories have ignored the footnote that says that Rezko has been holding out on something.

This might be old news, except that Fitz is slow but relentless, and has years of stuff on tape.

If you parse what Fitz actually says ... not what the press reports ... Fitz hasn't really said anything about Obama. His statements are always prefaced with things like "in this complaint."

Obama & Co make a big point that Fitz has never interviewed Obama. Given Obama's ties to Rezko and the Illinois Hospital Board ... that's not a sign of innocence ... but a tell that he has been a target, at least in the past.

This doesn't mean Fitz will necessarily indict Obama ... but Obama has an exposure. MSM should have covered this months ago; I have a profound problem with the failings of MSM in this.

Personally, I'm not an Obama hater ... and don't like the idea of an indictment hanging over our President ... but I also don't like the idea of a gang of crooks overseeing a $1 trillion stimulus fund.


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