For all of the tongue-in-cheek approval of Chicago and Illinois corruption that we are going through, it should be reminded that, free from any romantic notion of crooks being “Our Crook“, this is the actual Chicago way.

But Democrats, fearful they might lose the Senate seat if it was put up for a vote, essentially stalled talk of a special election. They cited concerns about the multi-million dollar cost of holding the election with state finances in shambles. The lack of action means that Blagojevich still retains the power to appoint Obama’s successor.

From the Chicago Tribune — who has good reason to be the loudest anti-Balgo voice in the world.

That’s right — despite having the most obviously corrupt official in decades, the party with a massive majority both in Illinois and national government is still too afraid of losing a Senate seat through the democratic process it loudly champions when no opportunity is at hand, now turns tail and lets its elite choose another of its elite. This shirking of manly virtue, ironically, demonstrates Blago’s statement about who is packing the proper testicular fortitude to make the right decisions. It wasn’t Blago, and it isn’t the Illinois Democrats.

Their argument about a special election being prohibitively expensive is especially transparent, since there will already need to be a regional special election to replace Rahm Emmanual, who is shirking his elected duty to wield Obama’s Rod of Power as Chief-of-Staff. A Senate run-off will be more expensive than a Representative election, but given the circumstances, (and the golden child of light who vacated the Senate seat when he was bodily assumed into Office), they ought to open that seat up to an election as well.

Truth be told, sending the decision to the Lt. Governor is the constitutional process in Illinois, but notice that is not one of the arguments forwarded by the Illinois Democrats. When Illinois corruption makes the news, it makes it big. But it’s the spineless, worthless, neutered corruption which never makes the news that is the real Chicago way.

This is the kind of thing that I think frankly separates the men from the boys in leadership. Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that knowing what’s coming your way? I say I do.”
-Rod Blagojevich

I think the quote speaks for itself. No wonder he got arrested.

As our loyal readers (and anyone not under a rock) must know by now, the Governor of Illinois has been arrested on corruption charges. Given my well known pro-Illinois, pro-Midwest stance, and some previous things I’ve had to say on corruption in Illinois, I would imagine some of you are wondering about my thoughts on the current situation. Given the comments I’ve been receiving on my older article, everybody is completely off base on where I stand. One blogger has even called me “an Illinois citizen who is obviously a Democrat and a blind defender of his party” (Angry Military Man will be amused by this as he constantly calls me a Republican).

The truth is, the arrest of Blagojevich makes me even prouder to be an Illinois citizen, yes that’s right, prouder. I challenge you to name me one other governor (other than Bobby Jindal) who doesn’t belong in prison? At least in Illinois we have a history of political transparency, cooperation with the feds, and locking up our governors in prison. I would put good money on a bet that every high level politician in state or federal positions, belongs in prison. Even our new President-Elect Barack Obama (whom I was a fervent supporter of until he appointed Hillary to his cabinet), is likely neck deep in scandal and corruption just waiting to hit the headlines. You simply cannot reach those levels without getting so deep in corruption it sticks to you for the rest of your life.

And as to the folks pointing out Illinois’ $2 billion budget deficit this year, we’re still doing better than the other top 5 economies in the US (and worlds better than California, Texas, and New York):

* California — -$15 billion [1]
* Texas — -$12 billion [2]
* New York — -$15 billion [3]
* Florida — -$2.1 billion [4]
* Illinois — -$2 billion [5]

Every Governor should serve their last term in jail. But only Illinois is righteous enough to put them there.

-Angry Midwesterner

Welcome to Blago-Freedom day!

This corrupt, bumbling criminal is no longer menacing the streets of Illinois. This fool whose lawlessness didn’t live up to the high standard for crime that we have come to expect from officials in high office in that state has been given the hook and been invited to the “retirement office” for Illinois Governors — jail.

Ring Bells, close schools, declare a holiday. Illinois can start the road to “recovery from The Rod”.

For the uninitiated: There are many good things about the great state of Illinois, as well as many bad things. The worst, at the moment, is the Idiot-in-Chief in the governor’s office, Rod Blagojevich.

His protective circle has been crumbling for quite a while now, with expert prosecutor U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant closing in. It seems that the closer they got, the more bumbling Blago became.

Yesterday we got this gem:

“This is America, you know, and I’d appreciate if you want to tape my conversations, give me a heads-up and let me know,” Blagojevich said.

“I don’t care whether you tape me privately or publicly. I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful,” Blagojevich

This was followed up today by being arrested for (among many, many other things) having been recorded saying “I want to make money” trying to sell off the senate seat recently held by President-Elect Obama.


Go get ’em, Fitzy.

(It’s worth noting that the official web page for Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn has received such a huge spike in traffic that the server has melted at the time of writing…)

Blago was recorded refusing Obama’s request to name his own replacement because Blago wasn’t getting paid.

Also, it occurs to me that the FBI could have auctioned off the rights to handcuff and perp walk Blago today. It would have raised a ton of money, and it would be ironically fitting for the crimes this sleazeball has done. For Toys for Tots, perhaps…

Illinois Governor Day

Where o where is our Public Official A? Since being surrounded on all sides by indicted friends and assistants, Governor Blogojevich has been hesitant to show his face in public. He has been sending his minions out to do his gubernatorial touting. We would like to coax him out of his hole and to do that we proclaim April 1st, Illinois Governor Day.

Punxsutawney Phil has nothing on us. On this day, should Governor Rod see his own shadow, we can be assured of six more months of corruption. (And we are sure he will given the kleig lights and cameras recording the event.)

Sadly, Illinois is once again reprising the Bill Murray role waking up day after day to another Illinois Governor who appears to be headed for the big house (Hint: It isn’t in Springfield or Washington.)

In older, and more civilized times, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would fall down on their swords.”

“Well, I don’t have a sword.”

—The Operative, from Serenity (Joss Whedon)

I would like to annnounce the “Sword for Mr. Blagojevich” campaign — an effort by the Angry Men to provide Mr. Blagojevich with what he so desperately needs. Contributions may be made to the 12 Angry Men, care of Legends (Champaign, IL) where we will use the funds to obtain and send to Mr. Blagojevich a fine katana. We are sure that we will be able to find an operative of the parliament to assist in its use.

The time has come and gone when humor is the best approach to the current Illinois Budget Fiasco. The previous page in this epic tome of unreality had the State Legislature passing a budget (Senate and House) and forwarding it to Rod Blagojevich for signature. Rather than sign the budget bill, he held it for almost 60 days (after which it would have become law) before line-item vetoing expenses he didn’t like. Now he wants to use the funding he vetoed out for those programs he does want—like universal health care and loot for his union buddies. Various opinions as to the legality of this have been expressed, but this is a typical Blago approach to doing business. If you can’t get a consensus on your program, ignore the legislature and use executive powers to do what you want. Clearly, even the Democrats who run the State understand that the Governor’s position on new spending is a losing proposition.

The latest page continues to resolve around the House override of his veto, and Emil Jones, President of the Senate and one of Blago’s buddies, refusing to allow a floor vote on the override in the Senate. Veto stands. So what are the options for the people of Illinois with a run-away Governor?

1. Blagojevich could do the honorable thing and resign. Editorials should call for his resignation. Pat Quinn at least understands that Blagojevich has lost any moral imperative to lead the State of Illinois. At this point the Bush and US Congressional approval ratings look like Mt. Rainier on a clear day — Blagojevich might have a problem getting a 1% approval.

2. Lisa Madigan could concentrate on her job as Attorney General and indict Blagojevich, and in doing so seal her own run for the Governorship in the next election. This should be a rather easy job. With Blago in jail, (let the bond be determined by a panel which takes several months to settle the amount), Pat Quinn would be running things. Even though I am not a Democrat, Pat has got my vote with his comment to incorporate California style recall into Illinois law.

3. During the next election, a referendum could be established to incorporate gubernatorial recall into Illinois law. This would take a year (better start now), and after it went into effect, another two years to place a recall vote on the appropriate ballot, after which we could recall and replace the Governor. Sadly, this is three more years of Blagojevich spoiled brat rule and God knows what the Illinois deficit would be by then.

4. While I cannot advocate this, it seems likely that someone will decide to take the situation into their own hands and splatter Rod over the Chicago pavement. Look at some scenarios:

a. A State employee, doomed to be laid off in the recent round of cash-swaps and living month to month, is placed under severe financial strain and cracks deciding that, for the good of the State, Rod has got to go.

b. An unemployed State resident, not receiving his unemployment compensation, decides that he has nothing else to lose and decides Rod has got to go.

c. A State employee, on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drugs, cannot make his co-pays because the pharmacy will not issue against a State account which is no longer paying, and goes off his medication causing erratic behavior which is focused on the cause: Rod’s idiocy, and decides to do something.

d. A State retiree, finding his pension (un)fund drained, and no pension payments forthcoming, decides that he has lived long enough and that Rod has got to go.

e. A dad with a son at the University of Illinois, after paying ever increasing tuition finds that, after the State declines to fund the operation of the University, and shuts it down for months, discovers that he has to fork out another seven grand for another semester because his son didn’t meet the degree requirements.

A lot of real people suffered real pain so that Rod Blagojevich could attempt to assert that he delivered universal healthcare and cradle to grave education to the people of Illinois — even though the fiscal facts from other States (California to name one) are proving that this is a chimera.

Come on Rod, do the right thing and resign.

A couple months back, I mentioned the real scandal of embryonic stem cell research: its supporters oppose effective, non-controversial stem cell research in favor of the immoral and unproven embryonic research. Now, that circle can welcome at their latest charter member. Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois has recently signed into law a bill making his $15 million in unauthorized grants for embryonic stem cell research, well, authorized. It also sets up an institute to award future grants and (of course) to encourage therapeutic cloning (an essential part of the embryonic research package).

All in all, a great victory for the destruction of human life in the service of nebulous and distant goals. And what an ally the movement has gained in Gov. Blagojevich! Already renowned for his rampant cronyism, absentee governorship, and fiscal irresponsibility, he’s recently added petty partisan sniping against his own party leadership in the legislature. “Blago” as he’s affectionately known to his many detractors, is such a paragon of empty-headed, plastic haired stupidity that he seems utterly unreal. You think he must be a fictional character, at first, until you see all the evidence. Surely, you think, anyone who makes George W. Bush look like the president of MENSA can’t be real.

But, he is, and now he’s a proud member of the illustrious political supporters of embryonic stem cell research. Well, he does join a proud pantheon of idiots. And, of course, some clearly smart people who just hate human life. And, even, a few misguided souls who actually think they’re doing the right thing.

Most importantly, he joins a growing effort to defund research making leaps and bounds for a blind leap of faith. Using human beings for research purposes is, of course, a time-honored tradition—but planning to deliberately produce, grow, and kill them for the sole purpose of research is new. And supporters shouldn’t think they’re fooling anyone with lame protestations about how funding for this research doesn’t reduce funding for other stem cell research. Of course it does. There’s a (really) limited pool of money out there, and it’s obviously pretty tight. If it weren’t, you wouldn’t need Blago’s paltry $15 million, as the embryonic guys would be swimming in cash.

In reality, of course, money is tight, and every million thrown down the homicidal maw of embryonic stem cell and “therapeutic” cloning research is one less million to spend on stem cell research that actually produces results. But that’s by design, because embryonic stem cell research isn’t about achieving short-term results, it’s about research unhindered by current moral or ethical limits. It’s about redefining “medical ethics” and humanity to allow the full range of experimentation on human beings—provided that those human beings are killed before they get too obviously human for our comfort.

Of course, as our comfort zone expands, I’m sure the bounds of “therapeutic” cloning will slide right along with it. All perfectly simple and reasonable once we’ve set ourselves up as the arbiters of which lives are really human. Nice to see all the old ways coming back again, I suppose. “Life unworthy of life” does, after all, have such a fine pedigree in so very many places. But, really, we’re going one better: our mantra won’t be unfit life, it’ll be fully commoditized and packaged life—designed, mass-produced, packaged, and ready for sale on the open market.

Once in our past, we berated the Romans for cruelly exposing their unwanted infants and the Spartans for discarding deformed children deemed unworthy of life. Now, we boldly march into a future where we will calmly grind up our deliberately produced offspring in the service of those lucky enough to get to the magic moment of birth when they somehow suddenly become worthy of life.

And, right there in front, capering in front with the other pied pipers, the empty, empty head of Blago—not a hair out of place.

UPDATED: Belatedly added link to insightful post about Blago from a fellow Angry Man.  Let the shameless site-promotion grow from more to more, and so blogger life be enriched!

Blogo drives many people in Illinois nuts in very much the same way that Shrub drives many people nationally nuts. Of course, their constituencies are different ideologically and many of the Blogo haters are conservatives and many of the Shrub haters are liberals. Given Shrub’s approval rating, he’s down to his hard core. If my conservative friends want to understand my disdain for the President, they need only contemplate their disdain for Blogo (something I share). Give Blogo some time and he’ll be down to his hard core, or in the pen, like three other Illinois governors since World War II (George Ryan, Dan Walker, Otto Kerner, all for being on the take). There are important differences between the two, of course. Obviously Shrub’s very religious and, so far as I can tell, that doesn’t factor much into Blogo’s calculations. Blogo goes in for a lot more blow-wave than Shrub. Clearly there are big policy differences between the two men, but let’s leave those aside entirely since I think a good chunk of what bugs people about both men involves background, style and personality, and, ultimately how those affect the way both men do business. Let’s go down the parallels of these two rogues:

  • Undergraduate degrees from elite universities (Northwestern for Blogo, Yale for Shrub) where they were more interested in beer bongs than studies.
  • No real sign of intellectual curiosity or ability. Of course no one who gets to high office is downright stupid, but Blogo had an ACT of 19 and Shrub is notoriously incurious in ways too numerous to mention. Sharpness of intellect they do not possess.
  • Holders of professional degrees (JD for Blogo, MBA for Shrub). Not a bad thing, but notable.
  • Careers largely built by fathers or father figures (father-in-law for Blogo, father for Shrub), from whom both had certain separation difficulties. Think the famous “higher father” line from Shrub, or Blogo’s recent falling out with his father-in-law. (At least their fathers weren’t like this.)
  • Pseudo “Ordinary Joes”. Blogo actually comes from a working class background (his father was a factory worker from Serbia, who also happened to be a Chetnik—aka early Serb ultra-nationalist a la Slobodan Milosevic), but he’s obviously shed that background a long time ago with his “fly back to Chicago every weekend” ways. Shrub merely pretends to be a down-home Texas businessman, but he never met a business given to him by his old man’s friends he couldn’t run into the ground. He too likes to spend a lot of time on vacation. Neither are self-made men, though they’d certainly like you to believe that.
  • A populist governance style built on appealing to the masses in a manner reminiscent of Juan Peron or Huey Long. Both think of themselves as an elected king, which entails a dogmatic, inflexible “my way or the highway” style of leadership long on publicity stunts, but is awfully short on results and which inevitably poisons the well with the legislative branch of government.
  • Decidedly convoluted reasoning about government finance.
  • A shared penchant for cronyism and personal loyalty above all, the consequences be damned.
  • Both have or had large legislative majorities but never managed to capitalize on it, frequently squabbling with the legislature when they couldn’t get it their way, e.g., proposing tax policies hearkening back to the Great Depression that fortunately seem to going nowhere, or collaborating with them on injecting the Federal government into a specific personal tragedy ordinarily—and appropriately—handled by state courts when the base got riled up.

Both men are very much TV-era appeal to the base, policy=politics politicians. For many of us the dialog of politics in the TV era is about as appealing as, well, those irritating Vonage ads with that annoying song from Kill Bill, Vol. 1 or the stuff you find in the the fridge growing on forgotten leftovers from March that might have become a new civilization if given enough time. Unfortunately pushing the mute button doesn’t change the fact that the stuff they do has real impact on our lives. It will be a good day when both move on, though, sadly I’m confident someone equally execrable will replace them. Hopefully they’ll at least have the decency of being differently execrable, but I’m not holding my breath.

You may be tempted to believe given my background that I believe political executives should be “intellectual.” In other words, am I guilty of looking in the mirror for my notion of a good candidate? The short answer is no. Woodrow Wilson was a professor and had many of the flaws of an intellectual in a position of executive responsibility, particularly in the way he ran US participation in World War I in a totally partisan manner (sound familiar?) and, when his political capital ran out, botched the peace treaties. Ancient history is not necessary: Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank shows just how bad academics can be as executives. So no, I’m not very sanguine on how well I think college professors would do as chief executives because I think the skills and personality traits necessary for success are rather different. But I do ask that the person have some intellect and some humility, self-understanding, and an ability to make real compromises, which are necessary quantities in the decidedly non-majoritarian system of government and diverse country we have. I just don’t see that from either RRB or GWB, both of whom seem to be long on moralism fused to personal ambition and short on an actual engagement with issues in a deep and critical way. GWB seems to believe his moralism while I’m fairly sure it’s feigned for RRB, but I’m not sure that’s any better. Moralism sells well, though, especially on a fundamentally emotive medium like TV and so the likes of Blogo and Shrub rise to the top while less interesting (to the almighty base, that is), but effective leaders like former Illinois governor Jim Edgar or current Arizona governor Janet Napolitano aren’t candidates.

I could go on, but the attitude I’m looking for is best summed up by a few choice quotes from a far better political writer than I’ll ever be, Abraham Lincoln:

  • (Responding to a query to lead a prayer for God to be on the side of the Union) “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”
  • “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.”
  • “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
  • “The time comes upon every public man when it is best for him to keep his lips closed.”

Whether these qualities can exist in the age of the 24 hour news cycle—with its demand for moral certitude, instant results, emotional authenticity, and a media more interested in answers to constant, baited questions than anything that matters to ordinary folks—I do not know.

Thanks to Angry Political Optimist for pushing me to remove the redundant and pointless stuff.

It’s always amusing when someone’s words and efforts come back to bite them in the ass and its especially gratifying when a politician spends millions on attack ads, succeeds in imprinting a memetic theme into the national lexicon, and then has it used against him.

In the last Illinois Gubernatorial election, Rod Blagojevich launched a year long, expensive, negative television campaign against challenger Judy Baar Topinka. These ads were characterized by black and white images of Ms. Trobinka with the video and words sufficiently out of sync to portray her as a recent stroke victim, with a sad “I don’t quite understand how she could have gone so bad” undertone, followed by the now immortal tag line:

What was she thinking?

Estimated to have been viewed over 200 times by the average Illinois citizen, Ms. Topinka’s public image suffered to the point where she was unable to recover. She lost the Governorship.

Now Governor Rod, in his effort to “support” (pay off) those who funded his re-election campaign (the Illinois Education Association, the American Hospital Association, and the Unions) has proposed the Gross Business Receipts Tax, and is bypassing the mostly hostile legislature by appealing to the people with slick ads (view ad). He has in support the Citizens for Tax Fairness, Health Care and Education who have been running their own continuous slick ads. A quick look at the structure of this PAC shows that the principle contributors are (surprise!) the Illinois Educational Association, The American Hospital Association, etc.

But this tax is so bad, that the business community has responded by creating their own Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity, which is issuing their response ads. Listening to one such ad on the radio, the mandatory paid for by the Illinois Coalition verbiage was followed by a woman asking:
“If Mr. Blagojevich were standing here right now, I would have one question for him.”

Mr. Blagojevich, What were you thinking?

[Quick Update: Between the time I wrote this, and its publication, the Illinois House held a “test vote” on the Governor’s Gross Retail Tax proposal. Total for the tax: 0; total against: 107; balance conveniently absent. Even more amusing, on the day before the vote, the Governor issued a statement suggesting that the representatives vote NO on his own proposal. Moral: Those at the vanguard of the charge should occasionally look behind them and see if anyone is following.

Now one has to wonder, given the cost of running a high impact television add campaign for several months, what better use the IEA, AHA, etc. could have made with that money (perhaps some paper for the school copy machine.) One can also speculate that if the various groups were confortable with the risk of investing that sort of capital, then perhaps the anticipated payback (payoff) was larger than what was actually made public.

As as for the Governor, his lament that the only recourse after the failed GRT will be to delete billions in services to reign in the budget—well that is what the blowdried, empty-headed troll should have done in the first place.