Today’s Political/Chemical Question

What is in the water in Springfield, Illinois that causes its governors to get arrested and/or indicted on corruption charges?

Honestly, Illinois, what the hell? Fund, like, Brita filters for the state capitol water fountains. Or something. This is getting silly.

97 Comments on “Today’s Political/Chemical Question”

  1. I am an Illinois resident – and not even surprised. I have become so jade from officials in both parties being crooked- I am not even surprised that the Gov. was going to take bribes for the senate seat – I mean isn’t that the way things work in politics? – if not what do lobbists DO? Yes, I know that I should hope/expect more from my public officials but I can’t…. and by the way I LIKE my Chicago corrupt Democrat politics for a few reasons:

    1) they get stuff DONE – nothing like a little ‘leaning’ on someone to cut the red tape. The trash is picked up on time, parks get built on time (1.5x projected time) and predicably over budget

    2) entertainment value- lopok at how the mayor ‘disposed of’ Miegs’ Field airport

    3) they are corrupt in predictable ways, yes the provider of police cars or tow trucks or road repairs will be ‘connected’ more often than not – but still competant to do the job they paid to do- unlike just willy nilly appointing friends to head FEMA

  2. As a born-and-raised Chicagoan, though no longer living there, I was thinking about why my family’s generally liked Daley (wouldn’t trust him to guard our backs, but still) and have pretty much always disliked Blago. I think it’s because the Daleys (J. and M.) did/do want to make the city a better place. Plus, they stayed “hometown” boys. A huge hometown, but one where they way they behaved is considered part of the local culture. They are thinking beyond themselves a good part of the time. Blago has always seemed like he was only out for himself. My dad encouraged me to leave the state as soon as I could as we’ve been expecting this for years. Frankly, we’re only surprised they actually arrested him in office.

  3. What can we say? It’s a hobby ;)

    Personally, I’m kinda happy … Blago had approval ratings that made Shrub’s look like a Obama-convention, and even as a total left-wing social-progressive, I wanted Topinka to win in the last gubernatorial election here, and she’s a Repub (albeit, an Illinois Repub, which means, socially liberal, fiscally conservative … ie the old respected Repub Party).

    Actually, the general thing in IL/Chicago is that corruption is generally accepted, so long as it’s not to the point where it gets in the way of things; Blago’s did).

    I’m looking forward to now with Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn taking over the reins, his friend, the other powerhouse in IL, Michael Madigan, the Speaker for the IL House of Representatives, will push for his daughter, Lisa Madigan (who is currently IL Attorney General), to get Obama’s old US Senate seat. She had been the front-runner to un-seat Blago in the next Dem gubernatorial primary, but I think now there is the possibility for more, it’ll be too tempting to ignore.

    And Lisa Madigan rocks the house :)

  4. John Kass, a Chicago Tribune columnist, calls Illinois politics “The Combine.” Basically, there are a hunk of Chicago politicians and goombas (Chicago-ese for “good-ole-boys”) who are bipartisan and corrupt.

    Blagojavich is a member of that Combine. He’s a particularly clumsy member. It’s been clear that the FBI was on him for months, and per the statement in the Chicago Tribune from Fitzgerald, they bugged Blago’s office months ago. This leads to amusing conversations where Blago says “assume everybody’s listening” on tape.

    As to why he got elected – in 2002, when Ryan was getting ready for his extended vacation in Wisconsin (at the federal pen), Bozo The Clown could have won on the Democratic ticket.

    The only difference I can see between Bozo and Blago is that one of them wears less makeup.

  5. Rodney – Ryan’s not a Cook County politician. He’s from Kankakee County (vaguely downstate).

    Republican crooks are not from Cook County. (Republicans there can’t get elected dogcatcher.) Republican crooks are from DuPage county (where I live.)

  6. “corrupt Chicago Democratic politics,” No, strikeout Democratic and you’re set.

    I think they are jealous of Louisiana, personally and want to surpass them. Got a long way to go in my estimation, but they are trying, I’ll give ’em that.

    Speaking of Long, I’ll misquote him

    “Someday Chicago’s gonna get good government and they’re not gonna like it.”

  7. Corrupt Chicago politics? You people are pikers. I live in CICERO. Anyone remember Betty Loren Matese? Now, there was a weekly media circus.

  8. Illinois pols acting bad make Wisconsin look good by comparison: thanks Illinois!

    We could postulate a long-term plot by Wisconsin to undermine their big-state cousin to the south: operatives were educated at UW then inserted into the political machine in Illinois as deep-cover moles, to undermine the political and civic foundations of that state.

    Our long-term goal? Adulation of the Packers by all right-thinking citizens of the greater Upper Midwest Co-Prosperity sphere.

  9. Are you sure it’s in the local water supply, John? Because they could be drinking imported bottled water from here in Alaska.

    Besides the usual lying, corruption, and general red state chicanery, we had one of our local political hacks indicted for murder yesterday.

    Alaskan politics is an Olympic sport I tell ya.

  10. A Massachusetts state senator was recently indicted for taking bribes, and the Feds had videotapes of her stuffing the cash into her bra. At least Blago was classy enough to follow etiquette and not touch the lucre with his bare hands in public.

  11. Not being from IL, and not familiar w/yer govs, I wiki’d the list. – *oh my gawd*

    It doesn’t matter which party they were from, there’s a long list of guys. The one that made me smile the most was Otto Kerner’s bribery dealings coming out because the owner of the race track who bribed him with stock deducted it on her tax returns – as an ordinary & neccessary cost of doing business in Illinois. (!)


  12. I found it highly amusing that the ladies of The View thought to announce it as breaking news during their show this morning.

    So did they!!

    I’m sure they’ll have detailed comments tomorrow, but alas, I’ll be back at work.

  13. In NY, all we had was a lousy sex scandal. But yeah, political corruption in Chicago goes all the way back to it’s founding. It peaked during prohibition, and never really recovered.

    Somehow NYC managed to get a bit closer to on track after the Teapot Dome scandal, but we were pretty bad back then as well.

  14. Well, John, I read somewhere that he refused to live in Springsfield and that they closed the Governor’s Mansion there so he could continue living in Chicago…so maybe Springfield’s not the problem.

  15. He tried to shake down the President-elect of the United States. I am still trying to imagine how the hell Blago can walk with balls that big.

  16. I actually voted for this joker back in 2002. In 2006 there was no way I could stomach voting for him as his campaign smeared the good name of the Republican candidate Judy Baar Topinka. It’s the first time in my life I enthusiastically voted for a GOP candidate.

    Blago is scum for his daily flights to and from Springfield, where the governor’s mansion basically sits empty, so he could live at home in Chicago. You run for governor, you should be prepared to live as the governor. Sure, much state business revolves around Chicago, but it’s a slap in the face to those who live outside the Tri-State Tollway that he would eschew living in Springfield.

    What idiot in Illinois politics refers to wildly popular President Elect Obama as a MoFo?

    Knowing it’s Patrick Fitzgerald on the case I can sleep a little lighter at night. He’s like having Mike Wallace from 60 Minutes knock on your door. It’s best just to admit you did it, whatever it might be, and take your punishment quickly.

    Pat Quinn, your table is ready.

  17. Blago is a dumb, venal sonofabitch. He got elected BECAUSE George Ryan went down, had good people working for him, and he has turned to be a complete jackass. Anybody who can make Michael Madigan look good deserves to go down in flames (not a knock on our AG, Lisa Madigan, who, I agree, rocks). The only consolation is that LG Pat Quinn is the squeakiest, cleanest guy in the state. How squeaky? He and Blago haven’t spoken in YEARS.

  18. It’s probably not a primary reason for the indictment, but I’m hoping they can tack on a few extra years for aggravated assault of my eyeballs with that ridiculous hairpiece.

  19. John,

    Could we perhaps agree that states and localities dominated by a political machine are corrosive to democracy and prime breeding grounds for corruption?

  20. The indictment is so full of outrageous stuff, it’s actually fun to read. My favorite is where his wife is chiming in:

    on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A discussed an editorial from the Chicago Tribune regarding the endorsement of Michael Madigan and calling for a committee to consider impeaching ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife can be heard in the background telling ROD BLAGOJEVICH to tell Deputy Governor A “to hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them.”

  21. “Blago is scum for his daily flights to and from Springfield, where the governor’s mansion basically sits empty, so he could live at home in Chicago”

    The one thing that really tipped me over from merely mild dislike to actually really not liking the man at all was earlier this year … the RTA (Regional Transportation Association … the CTA, Pace and Metra, the three major public-transportation organisations in northern IL) had finally gotten proper funding for the first time in decades, and was setting up finally being able to improve infrastructure and make some serious plans for increasing service.

    This agreement on funding had primarily been done via hard work in the House and Senate, getting enough senators and representatives supporting it, making sure it did all it could. Blago hadn’t really had a hand in it at all. It turned up on his desk for the perfunctory signing.

    But he didn’t. He sent it back to the legislature with the statement that he wanted free rides for seniors and a couple other groups, costing the RTA millions of the dollars, abruptly putting on hold all the things that the funding was supposed to it. It was an INCREDIBLY blatant act of political pandering, jumping on the bandwagon simply in order to get votes for the next election. He was willing to derail the thing merely to increase he chances of re-election.

    As someone that regularly uses public transportation, I can say I wasn’t the only one the next day that was incredibly pissed the next day when we heard about this.

    Seriously, he deserved to go.

  22. Rodney Graves:

    I think it’s obvious political machines are no damn good. I’m not convinced all political corruption in a state can be traced back to them, however, especially when some of those who are corrupt come from outside those machines (and indeed because of their political affiliation are excluded from them).

  23. I realize a few upthread want to knock Da Mayor out of Chicago, but my hope is that it’s Todd Stroger’s turn next.

  24. That’s not a hairpiece. Blagojevich has that as his actual haircut.

    I almost ran Milorad over when he was jogging in my old neighborhood of Lincoln Square (sometime between 2002-2005; I’m trying to find my LJ entry about it). In spite of having the green light at the Lawrence/Leavitt intersection, Rod and his biking bodyguard jogged against traffic, which had no choice but to stop. He may now be wishing he were hit by traffic.

  25. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, Rod is the fifth Illinois governor to be indicted and the first to be indicted while in office. So far, two (Small and Ryan) were Republicans and three (Kerner, Walker, and Blogojevich) were Democrats. Small was acquitted, although questions about that were raised when four of his jurors were given nice comfy state jobs.

    Small and Ryan (the Republicans) were both from Kankakee
    Kerner and Blogojevich were both from Chicago.

    Walker was a Chicagoan, but was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in San Diego.

    Our other great corrupt state politician (unindicted) was Paul Powell (Secretary of State), of whom Steve Goodman wrote a song. Powell died in 1970 and shoeboxes full of $800,000 in cash were found in his hotel room. Powell was a Democrat from the very southernmost part of the state.

    My wife has called Blago “Governor Smith” ever since his appearance on “The Daily Show” a couple of years ago.

  26. Tim@33, Todd Stroger’s probably an easier get then Daley, but both have formidable machines, and shouldn’t counted on to be as dumb as Blago.

  27. #30: Brian Boonstra

    The indictment is so full of outrageous stuff, it’s actually fun to read. My favorite is where his wife is chiming in:

    ‘…on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A discussed an editorial from the Chicago Tribune regarding the endorsement of Michael Madigan and calling for a committee to consider impeaching ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife can be heard in the background telling ROD BLAGOJEVICH to tell Deputy Governor A “to hold up that fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them.”’

    Somewhere there’s a finishing school that wants its diploma back.

  28. Hmm… perhaps I see what Rodney’s getting at. He’s not saying that the Chicago-Democrat machine can be blamed in any direct way for pandemic corruption in the state, but more that a municipality in which a corrupt machine holds dominance encourages other political entities, regardless of alignment, to adopt similar measures.

    On one hand, if a competing political group sees how successful their opponent’s machine-style politics is, it conditionally influences them to imitate their enemies; in a sense, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

    Another thing it might do is show would-be corrupt politicians that they can actually get away with it. In their minds they start to believe that they can act with impugnity, whereas in a place where corruption was less successful or less tolerated, they may not feel that same kind of “liberty.”

  29. Chryss @41 – Why, because Spitzer’s scandal just involved hookers?

    Brian @20 – Thanks for saving me from having to read the whole thing right away. With that quote, I can wait on the rest until tonight.

  30. I am reminded of H. Beam Piper’s When In The Course… – there was something in there about Venusian politics. When a Venusian politician got voted out of office, he got indicted & convicted for corrupt practices – there apparently was no other kind of politician there.

  31. Another governor joining the hall of infamy.

    Makes Jersey politics look (slightly) better for a moment.

  32. Rodney @ 49 – You might wonder, I don’t.

    See, Obama (like every other Democrat in Illinois) knew Blagojevich was crooked.

    That’s why a two-term Democratic governor wasn’t invited to speak at the convention that nominated a Senator from his state to the Presidency. (You will note that four of the other five state-wide-elected Democrats from Illinois did speak.)

    That’s why Obama publicly washed his hands of the selection of his replacement in the Senate.

    The surprise in Blagojevich’s arrest in Illinois is not that it happened, but when.

  33. Chris @ 50,

    I’m sure you’re correct.

    Obama would never engage in pay to play schemes such as directing a $1,000,000.00 earmark to the institution which employs a member of his immediate family in return for a near tripling of salary for that family member. I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am to know that the taint of ILLinois politics has in no way sullied Senator Obama.

  34. And of course, Rodney, you have definite proof that, indeed, a $1 million earmark was made by Obama as a direct exchange for the jump in Michelle’s salary. Because, after all, you wouldn’t make an apparent statement of fact such as that without such definite proof, now, would you. I mean, aside from allegations of such from overtly partisan political blogs.

  35. John,

    I have way more “definite proof” than those who have accused another politician of “lying us into war” or of perpetrating “warcrimes” have presented. Or is it all a matter of whose ox is being gored?

  36. Rodney Graves @51: Um, I really think this is another “planetarium projector” kind of story . . . Michelle Obama’s salary was evidently pretty consistent with her position and history at the University of Chicago Hospital, that was hardly the only Illinois hospital that Barack Obama tried to get money for in 2006–and I don’t believe that UC Hospital got the money anyway, which seems like pretty inefficient “corruption” on both sides, don’t you think?

    If this charge represents the level at which Obama was “sullied” by participating in Illinois politics, then this particular Illinois resident is going to relax about it for now.

  37. Mary @ 54 comments:

    Michelle Obama’s salary in 2004 (before Obama was elected to the Senate) was $121,910.

    Michelle Obama’s salary in 2005 (after Obama was elected to the Senate) was $316,962.

    John and Chris have convinced me beyond all doubt that it is a pure coincidence that Senator Obama earmarked $1,000,000 for Michelle Obama’s employer in 2006. For Obama is an honorable man…

  38. Ignoring war crimes and lying us into a war, I’ll take one million more dollars for a hospital over millions of dollars given to Halliburton.


  39. Mary Frances:

    “I don’t believe that UC Hospital got the money anyway”

    This is correct. Which does indeed poke a fairly large hole in the “Michelle got a raise, the hospital got money” theory. The moral here is that if one is going to present an allegation as fact, one should probably know the actual facts, and if they support the allegation. Because it is honorable to know what one is actually talking about.

  40. Soo … which American states *don’t* have horrible corruption problems? Or is it just that the corrupt ones are the ones we hear about most?

  41. Rodney Graves @ 56: Let me get this straight. You are describing Michelle Obama’s promotion to vice president and her accompanying raise in salary in 2005 as a bribe to her husband for a promise from him to include the University of Chicago Hospital in his list of 2006 earmarks . . . good heavens. Who was bribing him at all those other hospitals?

    Illinois crooks are usually a lot more efficient and blatant than that. Witness the current topic under discussion.

  42. Goodness gracious!

    You mean he took the quid and failed to provide the quo? King Willy would not approve… Who knew!

    As Professor Reynolds wrote:

    Fans of Jerry Pournelle’s future history will remember Greg Tolland. Obama was already reminding me of him a bit. Now, a bit more.

    Ah, never mind fair reader, it’s just Chicagotown…

  43. Rodney G Graves:

    “And your theory as to why Michelle Obama’s worth as an employee of the Hospital nearly tripled from one year to the next is…”

    Possibly because she changed jobs:

    In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May, 2005, as Vice President for Community and External Affairs.

    Strangely enough, as will often happen when one ascends to a job at a higher level of the organizational chain, one sees one’s income increase.

    So: A promotion would rather handily explain her increase in salary without having to resort to backhanded dealing. Although I suppose you might now suggest, again without any sort of evidence, that Obama’s promotion was a quid-pro-quo thing. Because, after all, how could an Ivy League educated lawyer with years of experience working with a specific organization (the University of Chicago) possibly be expected to ascend to the job she received on her own merits. That’s just crazy talk.

    Rodney, it would be lovely if you would admit you simply haven’t got the slightest clue what you’re talking about, because you’ve managed both to miss the fact she got a promotion suggests that anything else you “know” about this particular topic has something of a “I’m pulling this out entirely of my own ass” quality to it.

    In fact, since it has become abundantly clear you don’t have the first idea what you’re talking about in this instance, I’m going to suggest to you that unless you can offer up actual, factual evidence for your allegation, that you move on from this particular topic.

    (update: took out some income figures that I had originally put in)

  44. Rodney Graves @ 64: Well, she got a promotion to vice president, so her salary went up to match the other VPs at the hospital, I believe. Here’s the Chicago Tribune’s take on the event: link. You can argue that she didn’t deserve the promotion, I suppose . . . but she does seem to have been a qualified employee.

    Aoede @ 63: Depends on what you mean by “efficiency.” I meant that Chicago crooks usually are a lot more cut and dried about the exchange of favors; they don’t mess around with “possible” rewards, on either side. Also, the blatancy I was referring to wasn’t “doing business in public,” either: just that the people involved don’t seem to bother with mealy-mouthed euphemisms while cutting the deal. Again, see the topic currently under discussion . . . speaking of which, in my opinion Blagojevich’s best bet at this point is to try to cop an insanity plea. Honestly.

  45. John,

    Answering my own question based on the University of Chicago Hospitals Annual Reports for 2004 and 2005 (both in pdf format), there is no mention of a “Vice President for Community and External Affairs” in the 2004 Annual Report.

  46. Rodney Graves @69: Rodney, the Trib article that I linked to above makes it fairly clear that Michelle Obama was originally hired (in 2002, by the University of Chicago hospitals) to direct and develop a whole new initiativel. Here’s the money quote:

    Easton said the hospitals had made a determined effort to deepen their connections to the surrounding community, beginning in 2002, when Obama was hired for the new position of executive director for community affairs.
    “There was a real initiative by the university and the hospitals to have areal relationship with the community,” Easton said. “Over time, she developed a staff… . It went from zero staff to Michelle and 10 staff.”
    Michael Riordan, who was University of Chicago Hospital’s president at the time, said he had planned early on for the position to evolve into a vice president’s post as a way of showing the organization’s commitment to community outreach.

    When he was interviewed, Riordan was no longer the hospital president and is no longer associated with UC Hospital, by the way.

    Look, I’ve no objection to holding any politician’s feet to the fire when it comes to possible corruption, but I think you really are beating a dead horse here. Even I could come up with a better–more logical–“Obama is a typical corrupt Chicago democrat” story, and I happen to believe that the man is honest.

  47. Rodney:

    If you’d bother to read the article Mary Frances links to, you would know the answer, as well as the reason for the promotion. Don’t ask other people to do your own homework.

    What you need to prove, and have come nowhere near to doing, is your assertion that the promotion is a quid-pro-quo for an earmark. Either do so or, again, admit you’re just pulling crap out of your ass.

    Now, as it happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michelle Obama’s promotion to VP was in some way influenced by her husband being named a senator, namely, that the UofC Hospitals didn’t want a star employee to leave (and, say, move to DC) and made her an offer that made it worth her while to stay, and which, as it happened, comported with their stated long-term plans for the department she headed anyway. Speaking as someone whose own wife was once offered a substantial monetary and positional increase at her job after it looked like we might move, this is makes sense to me. Of course, I’m just pulling that out of my ass.

  48. Rodney Graves @ 72: Well, I for one, wasn’t trying to convince you of any such thing. I was trying to point out that Michelle Obama’s position at the University of Chicago Hospitals wasn’t likely to be a result of a “deal” between the hospital and her husband . . . and I suspect I was defending the University of Chicago as much as I was defending Obama.

    Anyone who wants to dig up real evidence of corruption in Obama’s past has my blessing and attention: I repeat, a politician should always be held accountable for corruption. Any politician, any time, any city, state or nation. But if this story is the best the diggers can do for Obama–well, it’s pretty lame, in my opinion.

    And now I’m going to go back to thinking and reading about our ridiculous governor, if you don’t mind. Or even if you do . . .

  49. Mary Frances:

    “Anyone who wants to dig up real evidence of corruption in Obama’s past has my blessing and attention: I repeat, a politician should always be held accountable for corruption.”

    Yes, this. But they should be held accountable for actual corruption, not the corruption we want to believe they did without anything approaching supporting evidence.

  50. I rode through Illinois last fall, and I had the pleasure of talking to a local for a while. She said that people come from all over to hunt the deer because they are so fat from stealing farmer’s corn. There’s apparently lots of corn grown there.

    So when you asked this question, my answer is “corn”. Who’s putting corn in water, I can’t fathom.

  51. Prediction – any time any politician does something wrong, and Scalzi mentions it, someone will dig up a well chewed Obama smear, and try and derail the conversation into Obama bashing.

    It’s really obvious to anyone looking that Obama had *nothing* to do with this scandal. The discussion went nowhere near criticism of Bush, and still someone decides that a important conversation needs to be had about how Bush critics are somehow given better treatment than Obama critics.

    Never mind what the holy hell this had to do with anything on topic. Sheesh. I mean, some real work could be done bashing Democrats who actually had ties to Blago, and the groups that he’s actually been running pay for play deals with. But that would be local, and not aimed at Obama.

  52. Rodney – I have to admit I find it particularly irritating that somebody such as yourself who doesn’t even live in the same time zone as Illinois suddenly deems himself an expert on Illinois politics. And having seen you on my blog suggest that anybody from Illinois doesn’t meet your standards for “polite society” I feel no need to be polite to you.

    I also find it irritating to watch somebody quote as fact speculation and bullshit from some right-wing blog.

    How about we look at this fact? Blago specifically calls Obama a motherf—er because Obama’s not willing to give Blago “anything but appreciation” for the Senate seat.

    In other words, we’ve got the corrupt SOB on tape specifically and by name exonerating Obama!

    Instead of accepting that fact, Rodney, you’re twisting yourself into a pretzel trying to make this into an Obama scandal.

  53. It goes back to to before the Daley Sr. machine. John – you were probably there when Pat Marcy was ruling the First Ward and fixing murder cases with bribes. That just predates the current machine of Daley II.

    Corruption is embedded in Chicago/Illinois politics. Don’t think that just because First Comrade Obama has stirred hapless voters with the facade of brotherhood and goodness to all, that he isn’t a product of the legacy of the machine. Whether or not the experience means he is bought and sold or anti-machine/insider dealing remains to be seen.

    In any case, beware the liberal fascists. They are as bad and dangerous to individual liberty as any others. The Triumverate of Comrades (Obie, Crazy Pelosi, and Evil Harry) is likely to carve out much greater societal government involvement than can be undone. The more the government does, the less free we are.

    DISCLAIMER: That is not to say that the republicans have their stuff together either. We have lost our way on both sides of the aisle.

  54. John, if you’re going to work as a freelance spin doctor and press agent for Obama, you ought to at least get paid for it. Otherwise you’re going to spend the next four years coming up with tortured defenses and twisted rationalizations for all the corruption and incompetence that’s coming January 20. And in 2012 you’ll realize that you, like the rest of the country, got nothing for it.

  55. Chris @ 79 – it’s a sign of things to come. The smear machine is going to get dusted off and re-fueled with whatever nonsense they can manage. Remember the Vince Foster was murdered nutcases? Expect to see some of that soon. People are even making a big deal out of the crazy citizenship challenges.

    The left has this too – there was a quack psychologist who wrote a “diagnosis” of G. W. Bush implying he was a sadist. No side is immune to the temptation of idiotic conspiracy theory. It’s just that Obama is in the limelight now, so he gets his share. The mainstream popular conservative web comic “Day By Day” has already started “joking” that he’s the political heir to Hitler, that he’s got some ghetto plan to redesign the white house logo with more “bling” and other lovely smears.

    This is why (outside of good taste and a respect for the historical events) I never compared Bush to Hitler, or any other fascist. The chimp photos were funny, though.

  56. We shall see. John is quite correct that proof, or anything rising to a level approaching that of proof, is thin on the ground.

    Wait, so your evidence for Michelle Obama’s corruption is that Blago thought his wife was more qualified than she was? You’re using the recorded conversations of a corrupt governor to indict her.

    HehehehehehehHAHHAHAH. Sorry, I’m sorry, just a sechehehehecoughcough.

    (wanders off, still laughing).

  57. Barry from Chicago:

    Pointing out that someone else is laying down a thick layer of “I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about” on my Web site does not equate with shilling for Obama. And so far, as Chris Gerrib notes, the major involvement Obama has in this particular scandal is being snarled at by a corrupt politician because he’s not being corrupt. Which suggests that as far your accusations of corruption/incompetence go, you don’t have much of a clue either.

  58. Rodney – for the record, Obama is not “as pure as the new fallen snow.”

    There’s a vast difference between that and “so corrupt as to steal a red-hot stove.”

    Obama is a politician. He’s honest as politicians go, which means that he doesn’t take payola, but is not above (carefully) working with those that do.

    Josh Jasper – you are unfortunately correct. Much of our political discourse for the past two decades has been this smear / guilt by association / “when did you stop beating your wife” tactics.

    It’s bullshit and stinks appropriately.

  59. Chris,

    King Willy (Willy Brown) is an old school “honest” politician: once bought, he stays bought… He has also managed to avoid getting caught over a very long political and legal (as in being a lawyer, not a law abiding citizen) career (his salary over his career only slightly exceeds the expense of his wardrobe).

    Blagojevich appears to have been a particularly stupid and avaricious exemplar of the younger generation of even less “honest” politicians, and it seems likely that the we of corruption in which he operated was extensive, probably more extensive than even I suspect.

    I look forward to seeing that web unraveled, and the fellow conspirators prosecuted.

  60. It’s going to be interesting, all right. One of the things that interests me most is that so many of the “old style” politicians in Illinois–on both sides of the aisle–absolutely loathe Blagojevich, and have for years. We’ve had gridlock in Springfield for so long now, it’s hard to remember the days when things used to get done in state government. Tracing the fault lines between new and old, elder and younger, may therefore be particularly enlightening. If appalling.

    Not exactly the same thing, but still–watching Patti Blagojevich’s family try to rally ’round has been actively painful. I actually felt sorry for Dick Mell, which I could have sworn wasn’t possible, and Deb Mell (Patti’s sister, recently elected to the Illinois State House) is in a genuine personal vs. political bind. That’s a pity, really–or I think it is–because I think she has potential.

  61. Chris @ 79 said:

    And having seen you on my blog suggest that anybody from Illinois doesn’t meet your standards for “polite society” I feel no need to be polite to you.

    Is a reference to this exchange:

    [I wrote]…Perhaps you can explain to us why he [Obama] is so reluctant to find room for Ayers under the bus, when his pastor and grandmother were accommodated there for far lesser sins?

    [Chris replied]Re: Actually…
    As I’ve said repeatedly, if associating with Ayers was something one had to apologize for, half of Chicago would be apologizing. The man’s a damned “Distinguished Professor” at the University of Chicago! He denounced Ayer’s violent activities, AKA “throw under the bus” so let’s move on.

    It is and they should

    More of the Chicago way I see. Seems that Chicago can no longer be considered polite society.

    Something in the water indeed.

  62. Rodney and Chris: By the way, and not that it matters all that much, but I believe that Ayres is at the University of Illinois at Chicago, not the University of Chicago. He just lives in Hyde Park, I think.

  63. Rodney: One of the stories you linked to seems to make a big deal about Michelle Obama no longer being able to practice law. This undermines the author’s argument, however, as Michelle Obama went voluntarily inactive. Like many people who pass the bar, she simply didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore.

    On the other hand, the timing of Michelle’s pay raise and board appointments does, at a minimum, create a legitimate suspicion of corruption. Though it is of the type that it is awful hard to prove and seems all to common for our political class (both parties) to engage in.

  64. Heh. Good things come to those who wait:

    Michelle Obama’s Job Eliminated
    Chicago Daily Observer
    14 January 2009

    The Tribune announced the layoff without much analysis, but let the cat far enough out of the bag to prompt our Don Rose to question how important Michelle Obama’s job must have been, as it was so easily eliminated. The New Republic gnashes their dentures at the how a community can be served without Michelle Obama, despite the void of actual labor she has performed while being on the campaign trail. The comments are much more informative than the article in TNR.

    Nope, no pay for play going on there.

    Will there be a mea culpa from the apologists?

    I doubt it!

  65. Yes, Rodney. The University of Chicago Hospitals is undergoing a $100 million restructuring and letting go of 15 executive positions (although continuing at least some of the programs in the eliminated positions, including those of outreach to the local community), all to cover up giving Michelle Obama a $300,000 job in exchange for a $1 million earmark from her husband. Which didn’t pass.

    Rodney, you’ve apparently forgotten to take your wingnut medication. Please take it before posting such absolute ridiculousness on this subject again, because this is just stupid. Sloppy inference on a blog does not equal evidence of a quid-pro-quo, and I’m really sad for you that you seem to think it does.

    In fact, I’m going to make it really easy for you: Unless you find actual evidence of quid-pro-quo regarding Mrs. Obama being elevated to a VP position at the U of C Hospitals in exchange for earmarks, don’t post on this particular subject again, because you’re boring the crap out of me with it. Note Bene, incidentally, that posting nonsense from a partisan blog does not constitute “actual evidence.”

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