09 December, 2008

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Well, this is fairly spectacular dumbfuckitude:

Federal authorities took Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and his chief of staff John Harris into custody this morning on federal corruption charges. Before the arrest, the Chicago Tribune had reported that a “three-year federal corruption investigation of pay-to-play politics in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has expanded to include his impending selection of a new U.S. senator to succeed President-elect Barack Obama.” According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office:

A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:

– a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;

– placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;

– promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and

– a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

Fitzgerald, who successfully prosecuted Scooter Libby, said in a statement that “the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering.” “I want to make money,” the affidavit quotes Blagojevich as saying in one conversation. The full 76-page two-count criminal complaint can be found here.

Just how clueless is this corrupt fuckwit? Well:

Reading the case (pdf) against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) paints a remarkable picture. The charges will, of course, still have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but there are tape recordings of the governor's conversations that are going to be very difficult to explain.

We're not just talking about playing fast and loose with ethics rules here; we're talking about almost comical levels of corruption. It's not quite as jaw-dropping as the case against disgraced former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) -- now that was an interesting read -- but it's certainly in the ballpark.

But there's some context here that shouldn't go overlooked. Josh Marshall noted:

Even setting aside the primordial level of corruption of trying to sell the senate seat of the President-elect of the United States, I never fail to be amazed at the brazenness and stupidity of some political crooks. I mean, I think everyone involved in politics or interested in political corruption in the country had to know that Blagojevich's phones were tapped and probably his offices were bugged, and that Pat Fitzgerald had him under the craziest level of scrutiny. And he tries to sell the senate seat with that hanging over his head? That's simply amazing. I guess you could say he's just a traditionalist, trying to keep up heritage of Chicago machine politics. But with some of these characters, it must just be pathological.

Quite right. Think about the chutzpah Blagojevich has shown. He's under investigation, and he knows it. He's being watched by a relentless prosecutor, and he knows it.

And what does Blagojevich do, well aware that his every move is under the microscope? He literally tries to sell a vacant U.S. Senate seat. It's almost as if he's trying to qualify for some kind of political Darwin Award.

Certainly seems that way, dunnit? My favorite part was what he said when the FBI came for his ass:
An FBI agent just said at a press conference that when Blagojevich was woken by a phone call from the FBI this morning, informing him that agents were coming to arrest him, he asked: "Is this a joke?"

Um, that would be a big fat fucking no. The man's so out of touch with reality that I think he qualifies as an honorary neocon.

It should be interesting watching this little drama unfold. The Cons will probably jump all over it as proof that the Dems are corrupt, etc. etc. I wouldn't recommend that course of action to them, all things considered. After all, the previous Illinois governor who went down in flames had an R after his name, and there are at least ten convicted Cons for every corrupt Dem.

I can name one right this instant:

Shifting gears from one scandal-plagued politician to another, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) famously pleaded guilty last year to "disorderly conduct" in a Minnesota airport men's room. After the news broke, and a scandal erupted, Craig initially vowed to resign, but later changed his mind and began trying to reverse his original plea.

Yet another court today told him that isn't one of his options.

A three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected the Republican's bid to toss out his disorderly conduct conviction. [...]

Craig's attorney argued before the appeals court this September that there was insufficient evidence for any judge to find him guilty.

Apparently there was. And the stupid fucker keeps beating a thoroughly dead equine, all the while ensuring that a certain restroom stall in Minnesota remains a prime tourist attraction. What a doof.

In other news, reality is still not quite real for right-wing fucktards:

Yesterday on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove went on a tirade against the media for hyping the struggling state of the economy. They claimed that it’s not as bad as reports are making it out to be, and journalists are overstating the case in order to help President-elect Barack Obama:

O’REILLY: All right, so you are agreeing with me then that there is a conscious effort on the part of The New York Times and other liberal media to basically paint as drastic a picture as possible, so that when Barack Obama takes office that anything is better than what we have now?

ROVE: Yes.

That's right. The media made it all up. We didn't actually see the stock market plunge, the bailouts of gargantuan financial firms was unnecessary, automakers are doing just peachy, and the economy didn't loose over 500,000 jobs in November alone. It's all a conspiracy.

Which may explain why Tim Pawlenty thinks it's sane to say this:

The latest "what do we do now?" piece for the Republican Party comes from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who outlined his Big Idea in a piece for the Politico yesterday. It's right up there among the most ridiculous pieces I've seen in a long while.

Pawlenty, considered something of a "rising star" in Republican politics, believes the financial crisis we're facing is the result of excessive debt. So, in order for the GOP to "again become the national majority party," the party must take a firm stand against "recklessly issuing even more debt."

In his bid to become the poster child of Neo-Hooverism, Pawlenty believes the Republican Party should respond to the recession by pushing ... wait for it ... a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Republicans should push for the enactment of an amendment to the United States Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget. This initiative is based on the common sense, kitchen table logic that most Americans and businesses live by. They expect the same from their government but haven't been getting it lately.

Passing this amendment will be no small task.... Getting it done will require a two-thirds vote by both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states.

While daunting, this effort will unify and energize Republicans. It will require the GOP at all levels to be engaged in a common sense agenda that is compelling, conservative and that will positively transform America.

This is so blisteringly stupid, I find it hard to believe an elected official would actually put his name on it. Maybe the Politico is playing a practical joke on Pawlenty, in the hopes of making him appear like a fool.

No, Steve. Pawlenty's doing that just fine all by his lonesome. Never mind that every sane economist has said the government has to spend us out of the next Great Depression. Obviously, the same fuckwits who put our economy in the toilet believe they know best how to fish it out.

Ladies and gentlemen, our political system at work. Makes you want to weep, doesn't it just?


Ceuthophilus said...

Here in Illinois, everyone seems thrilled with the latest developments in the Governor situation - he's done an awful lot of damage to state government, universities, etc. We're happy to see him go - we want another Paul Simon, please.

NP said...

So glad I don't live in Illinois anymore.

Cujo359 said...

Until the article reminded me that Patrick Fitzgerald was the prosecutor here, I was thinking this had to be some kind of setup. No one can be that openly corrupt, right? Obviously not.

Woozle said...

As Cujo implies, there may be more to the Blagojevich arrest than meets the eye: Yesterday Gov. Rod Blagojevich Attacked Bank of America, Today the Bush DOJ Makes Him Disappear

Not that this means he is being wrongly accused, or that this is "just how politics is" in Chicago so he's being unfairly singled out, but more that it begs another question: How many other officials are doing the same thing, but are being allowed to get away with it because they're being "team players"?

I'd suggest that, along with more transparency in government, we need more transparency into law enforcement. Obviously they can't give a list of people they're investigating (that would be a bit of a tip-off), but at least a list of how many people they currently are investigating, when each investigation started (not too precise, again to avoid tipping anyone off -- perhaps by month), and a general idea of what they're being investigated for.

Investigations that remain open for more than some length of time (a year? two years?) should require more intensive explanation. Again, we have to balance the public's need-to-know against the value of the investigation, but I'm sure that a set of rules could be worked out with a little investigation into the procedures generally used and some dialog with the people who conduct them.

To give these rules teeth, there should be some penalty attached to prosecuting someone for something for which they weren't already being investigated using evidence uncovered by the investigation, unless there's some connection (e.g. going after someone for bribery and then charging him/her with drug possession wouldn't wash -- unless they can show that the drugs were part of a bribe).

If an investigation into Suspected Crime X reveals evidence of Suspected Crime Y, then they should have to officially announce a change in the direction of the investigation (and whoever approves these things should have to approve that new direction).

(This is just a first cut at a solution and may be impractical, but the response to an impractical idea for solving a known problem is to come up with a better one.)

RickU said...

A balanced budget amendment proposal. How convenient now that the Dems are back in power that they want a balanced budget NOW.

It's patently ridiculous.

I AM for a balanced budget amendment in the future. But to start talking about it at this very moment is the height of foolishness.

At the very least we need to clean up the mess left by the last 8 years of shit before we can start talking about a balanced budget.

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