“How many legs does a dog have, if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Last Thursday, Illinois Speaker of the House and state Democratic Party Chair Mike Madigan finally managed, with the help of Patrick “Spotless Mind” Fitzgerald, the bankrupt Chicago Tribune editorial board, and their cohort in the national Big Media, to get rid of Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 14 articles of impeachment that are quaint and laughable compared to the blatant offenses of Bush and Cheney. Among the horrible crimes Blago committed were abusing his power by making it easier for senior citizens to get their drugs at cheap Canadian prices; bringing health care to uninsured kids, and helping poor women get regular mammograms and cancer treatment. Seriously. Since Blago bypassed, apparently legally, the corrupt lead-asses in the state General Assembly, they called this an abuse of power. Of course the main charge that he tried to sell the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama was based entirely on Fitzgerald’s lip-licking public readings of excerpts of wiretapped tapes the actual full tapes have yet to be released — and remain unproven in a court of law. Here are a few things the BM, in its haste to bury Blago under ridicule, have missed:
— I live in Illinois and have known for years that Blago was not popular with the state Power Elite comprised of corporations, wealthy country-clubbers of both parties, the mortgage-lending industry, the bankers, the conservative Chicago Tribune, and the for-profit health insurance creeps. In fact, these various groups, through their mouthpieces at the Trib editorial board and elsewhere, have been trying to impeach ‘The Rod’ for years, but they needed the supposedly bias-free imprimatur of Fitzgerald’s bizarre press conference on December 9, 2008, following Blago’s arrest he had yet to indict Blago, and hasn’t to this day — to bring it to a head.
— I also know a trustworthy woman who has worked for various organizations for more than two decades to bring health care to uninsured Illinoisans. She claims Blagojevich was the first Illinois governor to listen and take action, action that would have resulted, eventually, in universal health care for every Illinois resident. This alone, she says, made him a pariah among most IL politicians who rake in campaign contributions from the for-profit health care industry and he had that industry shaking in its boots universal health care in a state the size of Illinois? It would be the beginning of the end of for-profit insurers across the land. This had to be nipped in the bud before it got out of hand.
— Speaker Madigan is an Old-School Chicago machine politician who has amassed immense power in Springfield and committed every public vice he’s imputed to Blago. (If you think Blago has a foul mouth on him, spend a few minutes off camera with Mike or any of Daley’s Army this is the way pols talk in Chicago.) He also wants his daughter Lisa, currently the Illinois Attorney General, to be governor and Blago stood in the way. Make no mistake, Pat Quinn may have been sworn in as governor on January 29, but the real power is Madigan who controls the purse strings, both in state government appropriations and Dem party politics. That’s how he got many of these State House toads to go along he no doubt threatened he would throw official Dem party support to another candidate in the next primary, thereby guaranteeing they would lose their cushy seats in the legislature. (Some of these slack-jawed monkeys aren’t fit for much else; a good portion of them might drown in a rainstorm if they looked up.) Of course, he didn’t have to convince the Republicans they all needed drool cups at the prospect of impeaching Blago.
— You’ve heard the old line that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich. Illinois’ rules of impeachment are so lax you can be removed from office for just talking about that ham sandwich on the phone.
— Just in case, as is likely, Fitzgerald isn’t able to prove his corruption charges in a court of law (he may even quietly drop the charges now that the mission has been accomplished), Illinois lawmakers added an extra fillip to the impeachment indictment Blagojevich is now barred from holding elective office in the state for life, so he won’t be in the hair of the health care apparatus and Corprocracy ever again, even if he’s cleared of corruption charges in court. They thought of everything.
— As Dick Kay rightly said last Thursday on WCPT-AM, the local progressive radio station in Chicago, this was a political impeachment it had nothing to do with an actual crime but with the exercise of political power on behalf of the business and political interests in the state.
— Here’s a safe bet: In 2010, Illinois will have a new Governor, either Lisa Madigan or Patrick Fitzgerald, and a new Attorney General, likely Fitzgerald unless he decides to challenge Madigan’s daughter for governor as a Republican. Pat Quinn who? He’s just a placeholder who won’t have the money or party support to nab a term on his own. Here’s another safe bet: Illinois politicians won’t be jumping on the bandwagon to have themselves recorded talking about deals on the phone, with the tapes later reviewed by a non-partisan group like Public Citizen to determine if they’re corrupt. Like the installation of Junior as president in 2000, this impeachment is a one-time shot, not a precedent. However, as Dick Kay also pointed out, this may very well augur in a new age in Illinois politics, one less forgiving of the typical tit-for-tat deal-making of the past. If so, Mike Madigan will be first on the list to get the heave-ho, along with most of the state’s Democrats and Republicans currently holding office.
Perhaps Blagojevich’s impeachment will have a populist result unanticipated by the 59 incredible hypocrites in the state General Assembly who so eagerly voted for it January 29.
I was bothered by this from the very first reports I heard. Aren’t we supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? Trying cases in the press before we get anywhere near a court has gutted American principles and given specials prosecutors powers they should never have had. We have the foam at the mouth Righties to thank for this whose idea of “justice” would make Stalin and Hitler proud.
If you think he’s guilty try him in court, not in the press or the highly politicized venue of impeachment where you have to prove little. “Highly politicized?” That’s all impeachment is, is politics. It was meant to dethrone the worst of the worst, or as some meant 200 years ago… just to “rid ourselves of.” It proves nothing in that case, except : “you’re politically inconvenient.”
We need impeachment reform. I would rather we redefine it or make it harder.
Ken, that’s true, but the unique thing in Illinois, unlike the US Constitution which has a threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ is that the state General Assembly can impeach a governor for, literally, anything they deem impeachable. In other words, they could draft articles of impeachment complaining the gov. looked at them funny — that’s how incredibly lax and stupid it is. Mike Madigan had articles of impeachment ready last June, but didn’t think he could get favorable media coverage, and there was the matter of the national election — impeaching a Democratic Governor from Illinois might not have been the best thing for the presidential ticket, and Madigan didn’t want to be the goat if Obama lost.
On top of that, a governor under impeachment in Illinois can only present evidence in their defense that is first approved of by the same body conducting the impeachment. (This is what Blago meant when he said it was fixed — it was.) Blago wanted to call as witnesses Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and Jesse Jackson Jr. to prove he never tried to sell them the US Senate seat, but was prohibited by the impeachment panel, supposedly because it would have interfered with Fitzgerald’s prosecution, even though all of them had previously publicly stated that Blago had not tried to sell them the seat. Stalin and Hitler would indeed have been proud of the kangeroo court in Springfield last Thursday.
“Aren’t we supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?”
Exactly. Blago, no matter how crooked he might be, was tried and convicted in the media, and now his reputation is permanently tainted, no matter what happens in the future. Even an apology by Fitzgerald will not wash away the stench of the smear job perpetrated on him by the Big Media and late night comics, just as Hans Blix, the head of the UN inspection team in Iraq, who was skewered by the BM and the late night shows as a gullible dunce because he couldn’t find Saddam’s non-existent WMD, has never fully recovered his reputation.
I’m embarrassed that Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow joined in the anti-Blago chorus so gleefully, but I’ll write it off to their ignorance of how Illinois politics works and misplaced trust in the honor of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. (I was fooled by Fitzgerald myself, until he failed to pursue anyone but Libby in the Plame prosecution and let Rove walk free after changing his sworn testimony five times.)