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December 09, 2008

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Actually, I would cut a deal with Blago:

Resign, plead guilty to the charges, and enter into a consent decree to never run for public office or work in any official or unofficial lobbying concern. He would also have to detail all of his fraudulent and illegal acts.

This would save the US and the people of Illinois millions in legal fees and costs prosecuting him, and he would not have to live on the prison dole. He should have about a week to make this choice.

And I agree about Fitzgerald as the Bushco investigator.

I have to admit that when there's a document that I don't want to scan, I come here to see if you've had the energy and interest to pour through it, and quite often you have.

Keep it up. I've grown to be dependent on you.

Oh, and one more thing: it's clearer than ever to me that Obama and the Congress should give Patrick Fitzgerald the job of investigating the Bush administration's war crimes. Give him complete freedom from interference, and let the chips fall where they may.

Yeah, but you know that isn't going to happen, since Obama decided to let Bush's Secretary of Defense stay on. Nor did the war crimes of the Bush administration seem to worry you at all when you asserted you thought it was a good decision for Obama to do so.

Robert Gates, remember? Bush's Secretary of Defense, soon to be Obama's Secretary of Defense. If Obama wanted to have a full investigation of the Bush administration's war crimes, he could not possibly choose to have someone implicated in those crimes in his cabinet. And you thought that was a fine decision, and didn't think it was even worth discussing the war crimes of the Bush administration in that context.

Nice last graff, but:

Shouldn't all crimes be investigated?

bobbyp
alleged seeker of moral equilibrium

Fraud Guy, I don't like it. If that's the down side, and getting away with it and getting rich is the up side, then a lot of people are going to say it's worth the risk. You're saving money on this one case, but creating a bunch more cases. We want all future crooks to see this guy nailed to the wall. In prison.

Does anyone really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?

Poor gentle souls.

man o man, triple amen on that last point about fitzgerald.

Does anyone really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?

Well, if he does some nice hard time, maybe it will be less common going forward.

Assuming, of course, he is guilty. :)

Thanks -

Nothing against Fitz, who's proved his bona fides before, but this case doesn't sound like much of an investigative puzzle. If the criminals on The Wire talked on the phone like Blagojevich, it wouldn't have had a second season. That said, it must be interesting to be the guy who put away two sitting governors.

Amos,

You didn't have to sit through the Ryan prosecution in Illinois, where the evidence was less clear, but we had to wait years for his defense and appeals, and he ran up a $20M defense tab (gracefully donated to him by another ex-governor of Illinois and his law firm).

Nailing him to the wall didn't stop Blago from going even farther in, and with less art. Someone at Big Picture suggested Gitmo, but I think the only thing that this type of criminal understands is shame and ridicule, as well as loss of power. They otherwise act as persecuted victims, when they were the (so-called) mastermind of numerous criminal acts.

Look at Ryan--now he has Durbin asking for a pardon for him, and he was the previous record holder for venal Illinois pols.

Look at Bush--cluelessly stating that history will vindicate him, when he was/is many multiples worse than Blago.

Maybe there should be a twelve-step program for criminal politicians--unless/until they accept that they're crooks, they're never going to be rehabilitated or accept their punishments.

Of course, Fitzgerald's the one investigating Rezko, too, so Obama might have some problems with a prosecutor who has a reputation for following leads wherever they go. I would have to say that Fitzgerald's fate when Obama takes office is going to be a critical indicator of how honest an administration we should expect to see.

Well, if he does some nice hard time, maybe it will be less common going forward.

That didn't really have anything to do with what I asked.

Do you really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?

Other than get taped doing it when he knew he was probably getting taped doing it?

Of course, Fitzgerald's the one investigating Rezko, too, so Obama might have some problems with a prosecutor who has a reputation for following leads wherever they go.

There's an assumption buried in this sentence. I'm trying to put my finger on it . . .

That didn't really have anything to do with what I asked.

Well, yeah, it sure as hell does.

I don't know if selling vacant Senate seats is the norm for governors. I sure hope not.

If it is, then the sight of one of them doing solid time should curb the practice.

Thanks -

Fitzgerald's future will be interesting. The Dems all respect him, because he proved he'll go after Republican malfeasance and even Darth Cheney - but assuming there's a reason Fitzgerald is a Republican there are limits to where a Dem can send him. I wouldn't want him on the Supreme or even the Appeal court, for example, without knowing more about his judicial philosophy. I wouldn't want him as Senator unless I knew his policy positions. And it looks like Attorney General is taken, and unless he wants to switch parties I can't imagine Fitzgerald wants to be a deputy AG. Also, if Obama appoints Fitzgerald to any important post there will be a predictable cry from Limbaugh et al that this proves a quid pro quo.

On the other hand, the Republican base hated Fitzgerald for doing his job, because loyalty has for the last eight years been far, far more important than honesty or competence. It's possible the Republican base will forget all its animus as Bush fades into his Dallas estate and ceases to embody the party, but there are no guarantees. Certainly they won't trust him; he doesn't give them sparkles like Palin, they don't know he's one of them.

My sense from a long way away (never been to Illinois unless you count O'Hare) is that Fitzgerald could be a dangerous candidate for Senate or Governor of Illinois running from either party; but would he be willing to have the Dems? Could he be a plausible Dem? And would the Republicans be willing to have him?

Warren T: Is Fitzgerald a Republican? I thought he was studiedly apolitical.

OT: I quite like this by Krugman.

Well, yeah, it sure as hell does.

No it sure as hell does not.

Does anyone really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?

That was the question. What you said sure as hell does not have anything to do with that.

No one wants to answer that question. Fine. Don't answer it. Don't refuse to answer it and then cuss self-righteously about how you really did answer it. Putting feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.

Patrick Fitzgerald was nominated to the post by Peter Fitzgerald (NR), the one-term Republican Senator from Illinois. Peter selected Patrick to have a USA not tied to local politics investigate political corruption; the same corruption that Peter cited (in part) for why he got out after one term, allowing Obama to smash Alan Keyes for his Senate seat (Keyes result of 27% is often used as the standard minimum Republican support level--if an out of state, non-caucasian, fringe candidate can still pull 27% of the vote for a Republican, that's your core). Peter was never popular with the Reps in Illinois, because as his request for Patrick shows, he was more concerned with what should be done and less so with party loyalty. He wasn't a bad Senator. If Obama had to run against him, we might have a different Pres-Elect right now.

So to make a long story short, hilzoy, both Fitzgerald's are/were more conservative than political, but would fit in a classical Republican mode (as opposed to the current crop.

(Yes, Wikipedia refreshed my memory, but I got to live through this, and their notes jibe with my recall.)

now_what

"Does anyone really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?"

When you state an absolute (any other governor...didn't do) you have to show that every other governor who appointed a Senator did so for corrupt reasons. And since the http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/senators_appointed.htm/>Senate history website has somewhere over a hundred such appointments listed, I think that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one governor chose a Senator for non-fraudulent reasons.

Now, for political reasons, probably almost all, but political does not always mean corrupt.

Forgive a foreigner's intervention but to me if a legislative seat is vacant why is there no election to fill it? The same would apply to New York where I understand Caroline Kennedy wants to replace Mrs Clinton. I appreciate there are likely to be state constitutional provisions which apply but in a country where a very large number of officials is elected this seems a peculiar lacuna. Besides election would remove the temptation obviously associated with nomination.

Within the text you've quoted, hilzoy, here's the sentence that really drops my jaw:

This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon on that.

If I read this right, he's basically saying that he never thinks about the public interest when making decisions as governor. I can imagine someone saying something like this as a joke, but it's just crazy to see someone say it for real.

it's clearer than ever to me that Obama and the Congress should give Patrick Fitzgerald the job of investigating the Bush administration's war crimes

Yeah, but as that’s never going to happen, why not give Fitz Obama’s Senate seat? Giving Obama the benefit of the doubt, I don’t think I’d have much trust in anyone else that emerges from that particular political culture.

And to agree with now_what for a change – call me just as cynical. I assume this stuff goes on all the time; most politicos are just more subtle about it. It’s only the really stupid ones who get caught. And pulling this stuff knowing that you are already under investigation kind of redefines stupid.

OCSteve, the problems with giving the Senate seat to Fitzgerald are (1) it could be seen as a payoff for something he did or refrained from doing, and it could be seen as a way of getting him away from the job of prosecuting your allies; and (2) while I believe Fitzgerald is an admirable, conscientious, and upstanding public servant I don't especially want him making rather than enforcing law unless he and I share some ideas about policy. If it turns out he hates inheritance tax, progressive income taxes, social security, AFDC, etcetera (all conceivable for a conservative however honorable) I'd never back him for Senate. And if it turned out he makes Bernie Sanders look like Orrin Hatch you probably wouldn't. Proposing him for Senate just because he's smart and diligent is nearly as nuts as proposing, well, Caroline Kennedy. Ahem.

Fitz does what he does very, very well. No reason to promote him into a job he may not be the best person for doing.

"There's an assumption buried in this sentence. I'm trying to put my finger on it..."

The assumption, to be clear, is that IF Obama dumps a competent, apolitical prosecutor who just happens to be going after one of his associates, THEN we might conclude that Obama is less than clean himself.

It's not a prediction that Obama WILL dump him. It's suggesting a litmus test.

I am open to the possibility, whatever I might think likely, that Obama is actually an honest man who has just had the misfortune to be surrounded by criminals and terrorists, and now counts himself lucky to have escaped that swamp.

Are you open to the contrary possibility, or is Obama's honesty more a premise than a conclusion for you?

The politics of this investigation must be so intense, there's no way Obama's people can't be involved on some level, perhaps along the lines of they dished the dirt on Blago in return for strictly delimiting the investigation's purview.

While it's not particularly inspiring that Obama rose meteorically as the Chosen One in such an environment, I can at least hope that he really knows how to play the game as a result, and will thus be all the more effective at getting things done in DC.

The risk of course is that his talent for the game causes him to lose sight of the original objectives, ending up in effect as a more mellifluous Milhous or, closer to the mark, an American Tony Blair. I'm not disillusioned with the guy yet, naturally, but I'm looking forward to his first steps in office helping me get over the Clinton pick, which just reeks of game-playing IMHO. This whole charge to have the bestest-quickest transition ever inherently prioritises the grubby mechanics over the 'vision thing'.

I am open to the possibility, whatever I might think likely, that Obama is actually an honest man who has just had the misfortune to be surrounded by criminals and terrorists, and now counts himself lucky to have escaped that swamp.

... but since you've already decided he isn't, maybe you shouldn't presume to lecture anyone else on "premise" vs "conclusion".

No, I haven't decided yet that he's more dishonest than the average run of politician. Clearly he's somewhat dishonest, given that his expressed "position" on a number of issues, such as gun control, contradicts his legislative record and record of statements prior to running for President.

Alas, that sort of dishonesty is such SOP among politicians that it hardly even works as a marker for personal corruption.

IOW, he lied about his positions to get elected, and arranged for his online donation system to accept illegal donations, (If you accept illegal donations, and return them after the election, haven't you just turned them into illegal loans? And I hope there's some follow up on whether or not he DOES return them...) but it's quite possible he won't sell the White house china on Ebay. Rod Blagojevich would.

No, I haven't decided yet that he's more dishonest than the average run of politician.

your words suggest otherwise.

he lied about his positions to get elected

oh yeah?

and arranged for his online donation system to accept illegal donations

it sucks, but that's how the system works these days. all candidates do that, and the FEC allows it. seems mighty strange to blame one candidate for something they all do, and which is sanctioned by the government body in charge of elections.

Warren: I should have put a smiley on that. It was mostly meant to be snark.

@Fraud Guy You didn't have to sit through the Ryan prosecution in Illinois

True enough. I come from NY, where governors go down fast and hard. Trial? We didn't need no stinkin' trial. But take heart from the fact that the smart ones seem to have been warned off. The morons are easier to catch. :-)

And I claim Bush for my side of the argument. Nixon was pardoned, Reagan wasn't even charged, and so we got Bush.

Does anyone really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?

Any other governor? I don't doubt that someone, somewhere, has tried this before. I just don't speculate as to frequency. No basis, you see. That doesn't justify the act, nor diminish the need for punishing it.

Me, I'm seeing that there are going to be plenty of others who are connected to this that could take a fall, and I'd be inclined to have Fitz offer Blago some degree of leniency in exchange for the names of others involved, including (but not limited to) Sam Zell. I'm guessing Zell is already implicated on multiple counts, but testimony might be needed to put him away. It sounds as if there are others as well. But I'd want him to be barred from any public office of any kind, anywhere, for life, if possible.

cleek is more than a little defensive here, I'm trying to put my finger on why that would be . . .

I woke up with a nightmare last night: Blagojevich filled the senate seat with Alan Keyes before Blago could be impeached. Blago, in the dream, meant for it to be a big finger in the eye of his tormentors, and claimed that he was merely filling the spot with the man who finished second-place for the seat in the last election.

I can't sleep anymore.

cleek is more than a little defensive here

where "here" = "GoodOleBoy's Pleasant Fantasy World" ?

Outside of this particular relationship with Blago, I don't have a whole lot against Zell, other than he bought the Orlando Sentinel and then turned it into USA Today Lite&trade.

Oh, damn. Wonder if this works?

Well, instead of being defensive when faced with others' questions or doubts regarding Obama, since he has essentially no performance record, positive or negative, one should allow him the chance to prove himself. That's the first time anyone has suggested I live in a fantasy world.

USA Today Lite™? Isn't that like trying to create a lite version of a zero calorie product?

Re: "our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon on that. Legal. Personal. Political."

the incredibly cynical part of this comment is "...like every other one". is he really implying that he makes NO decision based on what he thinks is best for the state?

Brett:I would have to say that Fitzgerald's fate when Obama takes office is going to be a critical indicator of how honest an administration we should expect to see.

He said back in June he would keep him.

one should allow him the chance to prove himself.

well, er, yeah.

did i say otherwise?

I have a ... well ... let's say complicated appreciation for Patrick Fitzgerald that doesn't have a great deal to do with his more publicized work. Obviously, a capable prosecutor who is not influenced by politics or policy. But his interpretations of the wire fraud and mail fraud statutes have been, well, aggressive at best. A little too much Javert.

In any event,Fitz may not be available for further investigations. There are rumors that he may run for governor of Illinois .... probably as a Republican, if only because the path is clearer. (There are a number of strong D candidates, but very few Rs.)

While it's not particularly inspiring that Obama rose meteorically as the Chosen One in such an environment [Illinois], I can at least hope that he really knows how to play the game as a result, and will thus be all the more effective at getting things done in DC.

Careful with the guilt-by-association, people. I have spent most of my life here in IL (around Chicago), and while it's true that IL is and has long been comically (in a dark way) corrupt for a US state, that doesn't mean that every pol here, high-ranking or otherwise, is corrupt. I would break them down into three rough categories: 1.) stinkingly corrupt like Blago - there are a few, although I don't think there have been any as brazen or stupid, at least not lately 2.) run-of-the-mill mildly corrupt - a plurality (eg Hastert, Daley, Rostenkowski), and 3.) pols who, because of their 'environment', are studied in their cleanliness, like Obama, Durbin, Schakowsky, former Sen. Paul Simon, former Gov. Oglvie, and many others.

The attempt to tar Obama with this is strictly political, a reprise of the 'Chicago Politician' stuff McCain used in the campaign. As I suggested above, the clean pols tend to be pretty fastidiously clean, and Obama is one of them. And, BTW, in Illinois, it's not just Chicago or Democrats who are corrupt. For your run of the mill pol of either party, it's just the Way Things Are Done - that's the problem. Maybe it will start to change now....but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Don't refuse to answer it and then cuss self-righteously about how you really did answer it.

Actually I did answer it. My answer is "I don't know". I don't know if governors in the past have sold Senate seats to the highest bidder, or not.

Do you?

Seems like it wouldn't be a situation that came up often enough for there to be a consistent pattern either way. Too small of a sample size to define a trend.

In any case, if they do, and we send them to jail when they do it, then the likelihood that they will continue to do it will probably go down. Net/net, a good thing.

Putting feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.

LOL. I intend to use that line at the next possible opportunity.

Thanks -

Isn't that like trying to create a lite version of a zero calorie product?

Yeah, a lot like that.

"Does anyone really believe he did anything any other governor in the same situation in the past didn't do?"

Yes. I think he's different in two respects (aside from the stupidity, etc.) First, I think a lot of corrupt politicians have lines they draw that they either don't cross or tell themselves they won't cross, and as a result don't cross by as much as they would if those lines weren't there. Selling a US Senate seat, and not seeming to have the slightest concern with who he sells it to, indicates that Blogojevich's lines, if any, are way, way out there.

Second, I also think that some corrupt politicians give their own interests some weight, but also give some weight to the public interest. E.g.: I don't know enough about Dan Rostenkowski to say for sure, so let's imagine Rostenkowski prime, an imaginary person who did what the actual Rostenkowski did, namely padding payrolls with people who didn't show up. Whatever the actual Rostenkowski did, imagine that Rostenkowski prime generally does try to serve the public interest, does not alter actual votes (at least, not important ones; he might be OK with switching his vote on some minor bridge-building vote) for personal gain, etc., but doesn't see that much wrong with taking care of, let's suppose, his dopey brother-in-law who couldn't get an honest job.

I would really dislike what Rostenkowski prime did. But it seems to me to be a lot less bad than flat-out selling a Senate seat, or trying to force editorial changes in a newspaper, or shaking down a hospital. And it's less bad because Rostenkowski prime does not give up on trying to serve the public interest; he just skims a little around the edges.

Plus, I might just be naive, but I think there are clean politicians out there.

I think there are clean politicians out there

This is one of those situations where hilzoy's optimism and my own enjoy a solid expanse of overlap.

I'd note two additional things:

- In the US, corruption and illegal acts aren't the same thing. Americans, particularly many Republicans, tend to despise illegal corruption, since it's usually (Blago aside) relatively small and grubby - in a word, declasse. But legal corruption, which is usually much much bigger in scale - and is a non-exclusive GOP specialty, BTW - doesn't usually raise eyebrows at all. If you want to be a really big thief and/or want to corrupt government in a fundamental way, you simply make it legal to do so. The Bush family are masters at this.

- IL is relatively corrupt for a US state, but even illegal corruption is highly relative. I would imagine that a Western European might be stunned at how corrupt some American pols are allowed to be, but to an Argentinian, say, the American system doesn't look *that* bad - eg, Blago was caught and will probably go to prison.

i'm sure there are a lot of clean politicians out there. but it seems naive to assume that this kind of peddling doesn't happen whenever the opportunity comes up. getting appointed to a seat is a huge prize, and it doesn't seem likely that people aren't willing to pay however they can for the opportunity; nor does it seem likely that people aren't willing to be paid to make it happen. it's probably just handled much more delicately than the idiot Blago tried to handle it.

Obama and the Congress should give Patrick Fitzgerald the job of investigating the Bush administration's war crimes.

HUZZAH!!!

The assumption, to be clear, is that IF Obama dumps a competent, apolitical prosecutor who just happens to be going after one of his associates, THEN we might conclude that Obama is less than clean himself.

I'm thinking that there is an assumption that the only reason Obama might replace Fitzgerald is to cover something up. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three other reasons why it might happen:

1) Fitzgerald might not want to stay on;
2) Obama might have someone better in mind;
3) There might be some other policy disagreement between them.

By making this a litmus test, you have shown a predisposition to believe in Obama's corruption that is simply not supported by the facts. This shouldn't surprise anyone given your over the top claim that he has surrounded himself with terrorists and crooks. You have no credibility here.

This is quite aside from the fact that, as has been pointed out, Obama has already said that he intends to ask Fitzgerald to stay on.

The assumption, to be clear, is that IF Obama dumps a competent, apolitical prosecutor who just happens to be going after one of his associates, THEN we might conclude that Obama is less than clean himself.

Yes, and IF you were to stop constructing strawman hypotheticals about what it might say about [insert Democrat here] if they really did [insert awful but unlikely thing here], I can predict with a high degree of confidence that more people would give you the benefit of the doubt when you ask a devil's advocate question instead of assuming you're trolling in bad faith.

The problem, Brett, is that it takes a considerable amount of hand-waving in order to grant that "if" of yours, particularly in the face of Obama's consistent praise for Fitzgerald regardless of whether he was going after Republicans or Democrats at the time, and his affirmations that he would like to see Fitzgerald continue in this office.

Richard T-That's how the US Constitution specifies it: if a Senator leaves his seat, the governor of his state fills it. If a Congressman leaves his seat, it remains vacant (the reason Senate seats get filled but House ones don't is that the Senate is required to approve the President's appointments; the executive branch would shut down if the Senate could build a quorum). This is mostly a relic from the days that it took a long time to organize an election and let everyone know what date to vote, but the basic deal is that the US, unlike most other countries, has only two election dates in any given year: primaries in the spring, and the official election in November.

Note, however, that individual states are free to pass laws constraining their governor's choice, requiring for example that he pick someone of the same party as the outgoing Senator, or even that there be some type of snap election. But, again, organizing a political campaign and an election take an awful lot of time, so there's never any popular support for such measures.

Re: "our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon on that. Legal. Personal. Political."

the incredibly cynical part of this comment is "...like every other one". is he really implying that he makes NO decision based on what he thinks is best for the state?

Whether or not actually selling a Senate seat is shockingly out bounds even for routine corruption is one thing, but I'm actually kind of surprised by the reaction to this statement in this thread.

While I don't think that absolutely all politicians are like this absolutely all the time, I certainly believe that this is the default position of most politicians most of the time.

The reactions to publius' recent post on why we shouldn't put up with moderate Republicans made me think that you all thought so too. (Something along the lines of 'do they ever make votes of conscience').

Did you think it was just Republicans? Seriously?

Most politicians are mostly in it for themselves. I certainly hope to find and vote for the small minority that aren't. I hope to set up structures where politicians being in it for themselves can also help the country.

But all this shock at the idea that politicians are in it for themselves is jarring.

We should try to punish this kind of corruption *because* politicians who are in it for themselves will want to avoid prison. But operating from a political worldview which doesn't understand that most politicians are in it for themselves seems shocking to me.

Are you really operating under the assumption that politics has lots of people at the top, or good heavens a majority of people at the top, who are operating largely outside of their self interest?

Because if you are, that seems much more dangerous than any of a number of things that I find myself in disagreement with you about.

If PatFitz is anything other than USA for NDIll--except by his own clear choice--there will be many, many unhappy Chicagoans--including me and many other Obama supporters.

While I don't think that absolutely all politicians are like this absolutely all the time, I certainly believe that this is the default position of most politicians most of the time.

I'm probably a naive idealist, but I do think it's pretty shocking if the default position of most politicians most of the time is concerned entirely with the personal consequences of their decisions rather than the public ones. I don't expect that personal consequences never enter into decision-making - that's human nature after all. But if the personal consequences are invariably given a higher priority than the public interest, or are considered exclusively, that's a serious concern.

[snark]I would hope that most state governors would at least come up with a list of potential senators who would suitably express their gratitude for the appointment and might do a reasonable job representing their state.[/snark]

(Though as a Canadian, I've about reached the conclusion this week that all of our federal politicians are in it exclusively for themselves and their ideologies. So perhaps you do have a point.)

cjIll: If PatFitz is anything other than USA for NDIll--except by his own clear choice--there will be many, many unhappy Chicagoans--including me and many other Obama supporters.

Please unfurrow your brow, then. The only people who have suggested anything to the contrary are Republicans trying to stir up trouble. Obama stated in June that he intended to keep Fitzgerald in the USAtty job. Period.

Nobody: individual states are free to pass laws constraining their governor's choice, requiring for example that he pick someone of the same party as the outgoing Senator, or even that there be some type of snap election. But, again, organizing a political campaign and an election take an awful lot of time, so there's never any popular support for such measures.

An awful lot of time and money, which is where the legislative support really falters. The larger the state, the more an election costs.

In the current environment, it seems to people in both parties that there will need to be a special election for the Illinois Senate seat, because any appointment will be suspect. But the state legislature, which is not currently in session, will have to act quickly if that is to happen.


@now_what: Extraordinary claims require evidence, and the burden of proof falls on those who make them. The claim that every governor who's appointed people to fill out Senate terms has done so for personal financial gain is definitely an extraordinary one.

No one is arguing that political advantage isn't a consideration; that's taken for granted, indeed structurally built in to the situation of having governors appoint.

But payoffs are another level, and so the burden of proof is on you: Name three other governors, out of the hundreds of occasions on which such an appointment has been made, who has done so as part of an explicit or implicit deal for personal gain (which can include family members, not just the governor).

Well, there's a leap for you: Fitzgerald did a great job digging up a Typical Chicago Democrat Machine dirty player, so sic him on Bush!

Anything to distract from the real issue, huh?

How about giving him carte blanch to continue the investigation into the corrupt machine that produced Obama? Wouldn't that make the world a better place, too? And it would certainly be more meaningful than a "Get Bush at any cost" witch hunt that the left seems so anxious to perpetrate.

Let the chips fall where they may, indeed. If Fitx finds that the annointed one is up to his eyebrows in business as usual in Illinois, then throw him out, as well. Clean up the whole political system - I'm all in favor of that!

I think this discussion works well with Eric's recent The Open Road to Serfdom

But since you cannot separate the capitalists from the system of capitalism, it becomes necessary to corral the inevitable greed, set parameters on its excesses and channel its incentivizing capacity into productive directions. As capitalist champion Milton Friedman said:

What kind of society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm...

Unfortunately, those that most loudly proclaim their faith in capitalism fail to appreciate its basic nature, and are most dedicated to removing the structural regulations and oversight necessary to keep capitalism from bringing about its own demise.

The first part of designing and using a functioning political system is acceptance--politicians are no less greedy/ambitious than 'capitalists'.

If you operate under the assumption that most politicians are more noble than most of the people they make rules about, you are going to have a problem.

That is why I tend to favor regulations which focus on transparency and opening of information rather than those that dictate outcomes--I'm highly suspicious that greedy politicans will make personal choices and rationalize them as being good rather than make good choices.

Hilzoy, like other libs, never able to criticize their own without the big "BUT" - usually the hitlerization of Bush. So pathetically boring.

How about giving [Fitz] carte blanch to continue the investigation into the corrupt machine that produced Obama?

Continue *what* investigation? You know, all opinions are welcome on this blog, which is a great feature of it. But if you say something ignorant, somebody's going to 'blanch' and call you on it. I have a minute, so I will call you on this one. Obama is conspicuously not a machine pol, which anyone of either party who knows anything about Chicago or IL politics would be aware of. Cynical GOP politicians say stuff like you wrote even if they don't believe it, just to try to spin up some political advantage. At least they usually *know* they're spinning. If you actually take it seriously, what does that make you?

Hilzoy, like other libs, never able to criticize their own without the big "BUT" - usually the hitlerization of Bush. So pathetically boring.

Why are you here, then? Are you the blog police? If you actually read this blog, you would notice that she, and others, routinely criticize corrupt or otherwise unsatisfactory Democrats (what you call 'one of your own'). Guess what, Leigh? Not everyone sees politics and civic life the way you evidently do: as if it were a High School morality play, strictly divided between one team and the other.

If you don't think the Bush Administration might be responsible for any wrong doing or crimes, let's hear that argument. (good luck on that).

Ah, you conservs: You care about rights but not responsibilities. You believe in an American's god-given right to express an Opinion but not in the concomitant responsibility to have at least some basic idea what you're talking about, or to argue your case. So pathetically boring.

Actually, I have an idea. I think Fitz or some other USA needs to 'continue' the investigation into the corrupt political machine which produced Bobby Jindal. We all know that LA is a historically corrupt political culture, in both parties. So, obviously, Jindal is suspect.

Ooh, ooh, I can play too!

I think Fitz or some other USA needs to 'continue' the investigation into the corrupt political machine which produced Sarah Palin. We all know that the Alaskan Republican party is rife with corruption. So, obviously, Palin is suspect.

The question the string of corrupt Illinois governors raises for me is: "Is Illinois particularly corrupt or do they just have better than average investigators/prosecutors?" I'd like to believe the former, but I do wonder.

"Is Illinois particularly corrupt or do they just have better than average investigators/prosecutors?"

Yes. But I'd replace or with and.

scotte and Slartibartfast:

I noted this elsewhere, but Illinois, IIRC, has the highest number of local government units somewhere north of 4000 units (for example, I have to locally vote for and support the village, township, village park district, local elementary school district, local high school district, local water district, county forest preserve district, county board, county supervisor board, in addition to the state coverage). With this high of a density of political offices, you are bound to have a higher density of political crooks.

And as for the prosecutors--we definitely have a target rich environment. Remember, Peter Fitzgerald, Obama's Senate predecessor, requested Patrick Fitzgerald as US Attorney, over the howls of local politicians, in order to have an unbiased eye root out corruption (no wonder Rover wanted to replace him).

must edit prior to post.

I meant "no wonder Rove wanted to replace him", not "Rover".

You are the biggest piece of shit myself or anyone else knows. Get out of the USA!

betty: the posting rules require civility. This is a warning; violate them again and you will be banned.

Have you heard that Blagojevich has decided to liquidate the entire Illinois budget to set up an online gaming site? Chechit: http://is.gd/bbGi

Regarding special elections to fill seats: This is the U.S.A.--we don't fix problems until they become crises or receive enough media attention to seem so despite their utter frivolity. So while the idea is excellent, good luck getting it past "Joe Public."

As for the question of how common seat-selling is, just look around YOUR workplace for people who ignore the rules (but still manage to keep their jobs) and tell me that politics is any better. I dare you.
The only difference is that their job duties are "technically" regulated by so much red tape that they are forced to cut some in order to even survive, not to mention function. ...so they selectively follow only their Favorite red tape, like anyone else.

Power doesn't inherently corrupt, but everyone's a little corrupt, if you give them a chance to act on their desires.

As a former Illinois resident, I agree with you that selling a Senate seat is an "Epic Fail." However, it's actually one of the least-bad things that Blagojevich has done/threatened to do to Illinois. This is the guy who's wasted millions from a bankrupt state on flu vaccines that weren't allowed in the country and were destroyed by Pakistan. This is the guy who hasn't gotten an infrastructure bill passed and has left state government in a standstill for close to six years as he flies himself back and forth to work on a military jet. A senator who was not on the up-and-up would have been the least of IL's problems as long as Blago was still in office.

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Whatnot


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