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"All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure" - Mark Twain
Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has over 300 hours of tape of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, obtained by bugging the Governor's campaign offices and home phone. Fitzgerald refers to Blago's actions as a "political corruption crime spree", and arrested him. Blago is charged with attempting to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, illegally withholding state assistance to the Chicago Tribune unless certain reporters critical of Blago were fired, mail and wire fraud, and several other pay-to-play arrangements, where Blago handed out contracts and appointments in return for campaign contributions. More specifics on the charges are almost certain to come later, as only a few minutes of the tapes have been released to the public. Blago got in hot water earlier when he was implicated in the trial of president-elect Obama's buddy Tony Rezko, who apparently served as Blago's bag man and is now a convicted felon.
Blago is a child of Chicago Democratic machine politics, having previously represented the Chicago area in Congress. As such, Blago must be wondering right about now exactly what he did wrong. After all, what Blago did is pretty much standard operating procedure in Chicago, and sometimes the entire state. Influence peddling is the name of the game. Bllago's predecessor, Governor George Ryan, a Republican, is currently serving a 6 1/2 year sentence on federal corruption charges. If Blago goes to prison, he will be the 4th Illinois governor to do so. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that in the last 30 years, 79 elected Illinois, Chicago, and Cook county officials have been convicted on corruption charges, including three governors, two top state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three top city officials, 27 aldermen, 19 Cook County judges and seven other Cook County officials. Here are a few quotes from a National Post aricle about Chicago/Illinois politics:
"We have a culture of machine politics and it lends itself to corruption," said Dick Simpson, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman. "We are the capital of corruption in the U.S. The idea of machine politics is, 'If you vote for me, I give you some favours.' "
"The heart of machine politics is deal making and deal making is a political tradition in Illinois, added Paul Green, director of the Institute for Politics at Chicago's Roosevelt University. "You give nothing away. Everything is traded. Everything is a deal and that's how this state has operated from the very beginning."
"If [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor," Robert Grant, the head of the FBI's Chicago office said Tuesday after he arrested Mr. Blagojevich.
The current Chicago mayor, Richard M. Daley, is under investigation. He is the son of the infamous Chicago mayor Richard J. Daly, Democratic machine politician extraordinaire from the 60's and 70's.
All this inevitably leads one to ask how Barack Obama, another child of Chicago politics, could have so much corruption flying all around him and not have noticed it, much as Obama never noticed the hate spewing from the mouth of the pastor of the Chicago church he attended for 20 years. Now, I'm certainly not trying to implicate Obama in any crime, there is no evidence of that, but by all accounts, Obama never rocked the Chicago political boat. He was a go along, get along opportunistic sort, using one position to climb to the next one, which eventually led him to the ultimate position of power, the Presidency of the United States. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I can find exactly ZERO examples of Obama blowing the whistle or rooting out corruption among his peers, such as Sarah Palin did in Alaska. And Obama's Illinois peers are arguably the most corrupt politicians in the entire country, though the phrase "corrupt politicians" is fairly redundant in my book.
Naturally, Obama is distancing himself from Blagojevich now that Blago got his hand caught in the cookie jar, just as he distanced himself from Rev. Wright when it became harmful to his presidential aspirations. That is political expedience. Our new prez has that down pat. My question is, where was he when it mattered ? It could be he was oblivious to his surroundings, not a good presidential trait and unlikely considering Obama's alleged brilliance, or worse, he looked the other way to further his own career. Neither one sounds much like the hope and change we can believe in to me. Sounds more like the same old, same old.