The Weekend Desk Report
The Weekend Desk Report will not appear per se, but I'll have a special weekend edition of Blago updates and observations late today or tonight, running through Sunday.
The Devil's Advocate
Blago is finally bringing in a big gun.
Here's my 2005 profile of defense lawyer Eddie Genson.
The Chicago Way
From David Rutter:
At the risk of sounding as I've never been to the big-time rodeo before, there are quite a few presumptions in Illinois in general and Chicago in specific about how politics work that may be a few toes short of a full foot.
I am lectured all the time by my sig-other that Chicago's penchant for political armed robbery is just the way the world works.
And I just as steadfastly suggest to her that, sorry buckaroo, that's not quite true.
Everyplace has skunks. But only in Illinois is Pepe LePew the Official State Mammal.
Evidence? Clear enough hints for the discerning sort.
Having plied the scribblers' craft in five states, I remain adamant that Illinois remains the only locale where the legislature had to pass A WHOLE NEW LAW to make it illegal to bribe public officials. In the year 2008, for pity's sake!
The whole question of ethics - heads we have 'em, tails we say skip it - seemed a tough choice for them, too, as if they were struggling with deep moral ambiguities. They were quite proud afterward.
It's almost as if shooting cousins was still legal because someone a long time ago forgot to promulgate the "if-you-shoot-your-cousin-it's-a-crime-in-these-parts" rule and a law clerk just stumbled over the loophole to murder.
It might even more shocking to realize that Illinois actually needed this law, and that the Legislature had to REALLY think it over before Obama armed-twisted Emil Jones into giving it a thumbs-up.
The deeper peril to the theory of common cause and common good is that fellow Illinoisans still think some version of Blagonomics is the way the entire world works. Of course, I'm not trying to be daffy about this theory. There's no need to presume that power and influence don't play roles most places. But there are many states where legislatures try to work out the best rules they can for their citizens and do so generally in a public-spirited, let's-win-one-for-the-Gipper sort of attitude.
If the worst were literally true - that only money and power buy legislative power and self-interest - then there wouldn't much reason to claim we were all that great a nation.
The [Blago] Papers
From October 2006.
The Beachwood's first use of the moniker "Gov. Baloneyvich" was April 2006.
George Ryan Is One Sorry Mofo
"Thompson said hours of lonely contemplation in a prison cell prompted Ryan to say he was sorry."
It was just coincidence that Ryan wrapped up his contemplation this week and concluded an apology was in order.
Saturday Night TV
Fox News: "Pay to Play: The Chicago Way?"
The financial argument against a special election to fill Obama's seat - that we shouldn't do it because it will cost $3-4 million - is a sham. We can't afford democracy? The powers-that-be can always find money for stadiums and Olympic bids and their cronies' pockets, but democracy is just too damn expensive. Please.
Let's just shave the money off the salaries of every Illinois elected official. Or charge it to the state Democratic party.
* Lisa Madigan tells Bob Schieffer: "We have been providing assistance and information [to the U.S. Attorney's Office] all along."
SCHIEFFER: "From a legal standpoint, is he crazy?"
MADIGAN: "We are using the term ['disability'], but it's "other disability" and it's not defined."
MADIGAN: "Nobody in their right mind would accept a Senate seat appointment from this governor."
Leave of Absence
Lisa Madigan said on Meet the Press that Blago could temporarily remove himself from office instead of resigning - and potentially keep getting his paycheck.
Why is Blago's family supposedly under such great financial pressure?
David Gregory just nailed Pat Quinn for saying in 2006 that Blago was a man of honesty and integrity.
Also in 2006, Barack Obama said that Blago had been a great governor. By then, though, we all knew that he was under federal investigation.
The whole state Democratic power structure - Michael Madigan was a co-chair of Blago's re-election campaign - is guilty of aiding and abetting this guy.
Mary Mitchell on Meet the Press (!) just said that what Blago really is guilty of is being tacky, because otherwise everyone does it - and not just in politics, but in, say, your workplace.
Um, no. Not everyone does it.
Beyond that, though, isn't the answer to reform how we fund campaigns? Mitchell says that we all know everyone expects something in exchange for their contributions - and by "everyone," she really means the big guns. How does that square with Obama's decision to break his campaign promise and reject public campaign financing?
And don't give me that small donor b.s.
You don't think Tony Rezko found it profitable to bankroll Obama up until the time he was indicted?
Mitchell indicts the media for not knowing that Blago was auctioning off Obama's Senate seat. The media has been all over the federal investigation of Blago - and suspicions arose as to how Blago was making the decision about who to appoint to the seat. But the media doesn't have wire-tapping authorization, and Blago's actions occurred in just the last month or so, so on this one I'll defend my forlorn brethren.
But Mitchell is right about this: "We we're talking about Obama's dog and not keeping our eye on the prize and exposing dirty politics."
Funny to hear from one of Obama's chief propagandists from the paper most focused on Obama's dog.
The evolution of a media image: Rahm Emanuel, dirty politicker and hardball Daley trickster placed in the Clinton administration to be a pitbull evolves into centrist plotter wrongly credited for sweeping Democratic gains in 2006 because Howard Dean was the one who got it right to future House Speaker whom progressives loathe to brilliant choice for Obama's chief of staff because he'll crack skulls and he's such a talented dealmaker to oh my god he tried to crack skulls and make a deal? And can you believe he swears in private?
Another Fine Day
MSNBC: "Governor's Spokesperson: Gov. Blagojevich is not resigning Monday.
Posted on December 13, 2008