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The [Tuesday] Papers

It's still Blago's world, we're just prisoners in it.

1. Junior's Story. What's he trying to tell us?

2. Blago's Staycation.

3. More than one letter-writer to the Sun-Times today suggests that the Illinois Lottery hold a sweepstakes to determine who gets to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

You know what? It's not such a bad idea.

An ordinary citizen could hold the seat for two years - and compete against the big boys for re-election if he or she has done a good job.

It's time the state figure out how to cash in on these scandals, anyway. I mean, cash in for us, the taxpayers. I hereby propose the State of Illinois Novelties Division, specializing in satirical t-shirts and other props celebrating - and mocking - our elected leaders.

I would be happy to serve as the division's first director.

4. Another letter-writer to the Sun-Times wants us all to urge the governor to resign via a letter-writing campaign.

I have a better idea: At noon tomorrow, the entire state should go outdoors and scream in unison, "Get the fuck out!"

5. Ed Genson is already signaling his defense.

"The case that I've seen so far is significantly exaggerated. It's not what people think it is."

I saw another report that Genson will argue that the Senate seat imbroglio was just "political shop talk."

But as Mark Brown writes this morning, the "just politics" defense "has come up a loser in several recent federal criminal cases here from George Ryan to Robert Sorich."


Or, as I wrote in my profile of Genson in 2005 (last time I'll link to this, I swear!):

It's a defense he's been using for years.

When the mobbed-up power brokers of the old First Ward were tried in the early 1990s, Genson told a jury, "This case does not involve fixes. It's about old men brought up in a different system. It involves favors that are clearly political, but not against the law. That's all politics is - favors. This, ladies and gentlemen, is old-time politics.'

I asked Genson how he could really believe that.

"The laws governing federal prosecution are so nebulous, they're so general, that what is a crime to one United States attorney is not a crime to another," he said. "And what this [U.S. attorney] is doing is taking a political favor and elevating it to a crime. And nobody knew that was a crime. Now, [Scott] Fawell took a little bit of leeway - a little, but not much. And every one of the things he was indicted for - political people getting state jobs, people on state jobs doing political things while they're on state jobs - this is not a new thing. The fact is, he did what everyone else did."

I reminded Genson that the way things have always worked includes a steady pattern of indictments for business-as-usual.

"No!" he bellowed. "No! Because nobody's ever been indicted for that! Nobody's ever been indicted for doing that in Illinois. Oh, yeah, political corruption trials where people take money - I mean, all you gotta do to know that's illegal is to read the Ten Commandments! But if you sit in your state office and make a bunch of phone calls to the ward committeemen to get their vote, that's been done forever!"

6. This fundraiser was last night.


I'm telling you, folks, we have to publicly fund campaigns. Otherwise we're sanctioning legal bribery, and it ain't much different than the illegal kind.


"The irony is that if Blagojevich had appointed someone to the Senate seat, and that person just happened to show their gratitude a year from now by hosting a huge fund-raiser for him, not even U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald could have made a federal case out of it," Brown writes.

7. Brown gets it wrong here, though.

"As far as using evidence [for impeachment] put into play during the Tony Rezko trial, we must remember that until the wiretaps, the U.S. attorney hadn't seen fit to bring charges against Blagojevich based on that same material."

All indications are that the feds indeed already had enough evidence to indict Blagojevich, but they didn't expect to fully wrap up their investigation until March, when they would have finished presenting their findings to a grand jury and, presumably, won an indictment.

8. It looks like Rezko has more to say.

9. I watched Carol Marin interview Mike Madigan down in Springfield last night on Chicago Tonight and you would never call that man magnanimous. He's all vengeance and spite. And yes, that's understandable to a degree, given the circumstances. But state Republicans are right on this one: the legislative impeachment panel should be bi-partisan, not top-heavy with Democrats. And a special election should be held - just as Dick Durbin initially suggested - to fill Obama's seat.

The state is ruminating once again about what it will take to reform our sleazy political culture. Well, I've suggested - along with many others - two structural changes right here in this lil' ol' column: public financing of campaigns and filling all vacancies with special elections. It's really not so hard.

10. Elizabeth Brackett made a good point last night: Isn't it a bit, um, not right, to have a father and daughter both trying to remove the governor at the same time?

11. Also from CT: Experts confirmed that the tap on Blago's phone could simply be turned on from the central office. But the bug in his home had to be placed there - either by someone sneaking in or by someone blending in like they were supposed to be there.

I wonder if members of a security detail are allowed to cooperate with federal authorities in cases like this.

12. "Axelrod, years ago, was Blagojevich's media consultant when he ran for the House," Lynn Sweet notes. "His son, Michael, was an unpaid intern in Blagojevich's House office."

I'm sure Blagojevich had no idea who Michael's father was.

13. "Quinn Says Impeachment Can Be Done By January."

Can it be done by e-mail?

The Beachwood Tip Line: Wigged out.


Posted on December 16, 2008

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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