Category Archives: Rod Blagojevich

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.” — Tennessee Williams

CAN A POLITICIAN EVER BE GOOD?

Newshound Joy Shayne Laughter stopped by the Book Corner for a visit before going into the WFHB studios to interview a nationally-known digital doyenne yesterday afternoon.

We got around to talking about Facebook and we both agreed that sometimes we have to take a time out from it because, well, it has this weird capacity to turn even the sweetest soul into a jerk. And the two of us are nothing if not sweet souls.

I’ve been tempted a hundred times to write on someone’s wall, “Jesus Christ, what kind of stupid moron are you?!” Much to my surprise, the seemingly grounded and mature Joy admitted that she, too, finds herself on the brink of lashing out in like fashion at people on FB.

Facebook turns everybody into a bully to some degree or another. And god forbid any elected official should sneeze the wrong way — he’ll be strung up before he can reach for his handkerchief.

Case in point: Yesterday Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey praised the federal government and President Barack Obama for their quick response in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Before the president could say, Don’t mention it, this meme image appeared on Facebook:

So, in essense, the Facebook zeitgeist now holds that no one on Earth can ever have a change of heart. There are no epiphanies. Redemption is for the birds. No matter what tragedy befalls you, you must hold fast to every embarrassing, opportunistic, politically expedient statement you’ve ever uttered, otherwise, you’ll be the object of ridicule for millions.

Who knows, maybe Chris Christie in a couple of weeks will proclaim that Barack Obama is Benedict Arnold, Sacco & Vanzetti, and Timothy McVeigh all rolled into one. It could happen.

But in this moment of horror, isn’t it possible that Chris Christie has just learned something?

Can it be that from now on, thanks to this horrifying storm, he’s become a better man?

Or in this Facebook age are we all obliged to be assholes forever?

I’M SQUARE

Here’s a confession: I have no idea what the term “gangnam style” means.

In Lieu Of A Gangnam Style Pic: Marilyn Monroe And Her Pumpkins

Here’s another: I’m not going to try to find out either. Overall, I feel quite good about this decision.

G.I. DON’T LIKE JOE

Just heard a Joe Walsh ad on the radio last night. He’s running for US Congress against Tammy Duckworth in Illinois’ 8th District. He’s also the guy who declared during a candidates’ debate a week and a half ago that he’s against abortion even if the mother’s life is in danger.

That alone would lead a reasonable person to assume Walsh is a pretty sharp-edged character. As in this imaginary exchange:

Walsh: Sharp, But Not As A Tack

Doctor: “Joe, I’m sorry but your wife’s situation has taken a bad turn. She’s having what we call an ectopic pregnancy. The situation is dire. There’s a strong possibility that if we go ahead with this delivery, she won’t make it.”

Joe: “Doctor, that’s terrible. What can we do about it?”

Doctor: “Well, Joe, we live in Illinois, which allows us to terminate the pregnancy. As it stands right now, the odds are stacked mightily against your wife. What do you say, Joe?”

On second thought, I won’t presume to guess what Joe might say in such a tragic situation. But I do know what he said at the debate. He claimed there is no such thing as a pregnancy that can endanger the life of the mother, an assertion that medical science holds to be about as wrong as wrong can be.

Yes, Joe, This Can Kill A Woman

I’d like to think that just because Joe Walsh says bombastic things during political debates, it doesn’t mean he would act so bombastically in real life.

Joe Walsh likes to use words the way others use stilettos. He had to know his statement would cut many, many women to the bone.

The script for his radio ad was similarly filled with razor verbiage. That’s really nothing new. He has accused Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in combat, of not being a real hero because she mentions her disability on the campaign trail. In Joe Walsh’s world a soldier who gets her legs blown off should just shut up about it.

Walsh To Duckworth: Quit Bitching

Do you get the feeling Joe Walsh doesn’t care much for women?

Anyway, Walsh’s ad hammers home the point that Duckworth served for a time in disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich‘s cabinet. Blagojevich, you’ll recall, is not only the latest governor emeritus of the Land of Lincoln to occupy a suite in the penitentiary, but is perhaps the most brazen and venal of that gang.

Toward the end of Blagojevich’s term as reprobate-in chief, he named Duckworth the state’s Director of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Duckworth jokingly remarked that Blagojevich gave her the job so she could do favors for her friends. Those friends, of course, were military veterans and, well, the director’s job by definition is to do favors for them.

Everybody had a good laugh over that one.

But now Joe Walsh uses that audio clip in his advertisements, hoping to make Duckworth sound like a cheap political hustler in the Blagojevich mold. Look what Rod Blagojevich and Tammy Duckworth did to the state of Illinois, the ad bleats. Now she wants to do the same thing to the country in Washington.

A Shady Connection?

The idea being she’ll try to sell political appointments and squeeze campaign contributions out of big shots in exchange for favorable legislation, just the way her former boss did.

Problem is, Duckworth’s reputation is sterling. She wasn’t implicated in the Blagojevich todo — in fact, few outside of the former Governor’s immediate conspiracy circle were.

That doesn’t matter to Joe Walsh.

By the way, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce just endorsed Walsh. Oh, and Duckworth worked for a couple of years in Barack Obama’s federal Department of Veteran’s Affairs. So Joe works for obsessive profiteers and Tammy worked for a former community organizer.

Makes me think of a line I read recently: “I’ll take the character of a community organizer over that of a venture capitalist any day.”

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.


Thursday, November 1st, 2012

VOTE ◗ The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Maurer School of Law — “Narratives of Infanticide: Mothers, Murder, and the State in Nineteenth-Century America,” Presented by Felicity Turner; 4pm

CLASS ◗ Lake Monroe, Paynetown SRA Activity CenterNew Rules for Deer Season: Are You Ready for Opening Day?; 6:30pm

FILM ◗ IU Cinema — “The Connection“; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallEarly Music Institute Chamber Music Concert; 7pm

HISTORY ◗ Monroe County History CenterLetters from the Front, Written by James F. Lee to members of His family in Monroe County: Bringing the Civil War Up Close and Personal, Presented by Steve Rolfe of Monroe County Civil War Round Table; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU Assembly HallHoosier men’s basketball vs. Indiana Wesleyan; 7pm

SPORTS ◗ IU GymnasiumHoosier wrestling vs. Manchester; 7pm

FEST ◗ IU Latino Cultural CenterDia de los Muertos; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubMonika Herzig Trio; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU AuditoriumStraight No Chaser; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallTrombone Choir, Carl Lenthe, director; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallClarinet Choir, Howard Klug, director; 8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdG Love & Special Sauce; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceNew Old Cavalry; 9pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopPaul Collins, Purple 7, The Sands; 9:30pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others: Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Like its politicians and its war, society has the teenagers it deserves.” — Joseph Priestley

WANTING TO REBEL IN THE WORST WAY

Let’s look at something from the viewpoint of a dopey kid who’s burning up with the desire to piss people off.

It’s an easy task for me because that’s precisely the kind of dopey kid I was. That urge to thumb my nose at grownups and society at large was so overpowering that I got myself busted. It wasn’t until a couple of tough guy detectives pounded on the back door of my family’s home and slapped the cuffs on me when I was 17 that I realized the whole F.U. I was shouting at the world might not be a strategic success.

Believe me, having my belt and shoelaces confiscated, sitting in a cell where the toilet has no seat because inmates can kill themselves with it (I still don’t know how they can do it), and being offered the traditional bologna sandwich and a glass of water for dinner profoundly changes one’s attitude toward senseless rebellion.

Anyway, a couple of Bloomington teenagers presumably faced that same reality check this week. The two high school students, a boy and a girl, were hauled in on suspicion of drawing a swastika and writing the word Hitler on a poster at the Jewish studies program office in Goodbody Hall.

Apparently, the kids were hanging around the IU campus, bored, and decided to liven up the decor. The IU police say crude drawings of female parts were also found around Goodbody, drawn with the same type of black marker that the anti-semitic stuff was scrawled in.

I could have been that boy (if I had a girlfriend at that age). So I ask myself, Why would I have done it?

When I was 15, 16, and 17, the Vietnam War was just winding down, Watergate was just gearing up, and the country was just emerging from the chaos of assassinations and race rioting. I concluded this was a sick nation, that I was one of the select few souls perceptive enough to grasp that elementary fact.

Sick Nation

My parents were the two stupidest people to walk the face of this Earth. How they survived the mere act of getting to work in the morning baffled me. My teachers were idiots — all they were concerned about was the length of my hair. The cops were fascists. Politicians were crooked. Corporations were run by greedy pigs who’d sell out their grandmothers for a profit. And even the music on the radio was execrable — I mean, honestly, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree”? And what about “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”?

For pity’s sake, can you blame me for wanting to overthrow the world?

The Last Straw

I was too much of a dope to understand that I could have channeled my rage in some constructive way. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I could have done to, say, force the executives of Ford Motor Company to mend their ways, or convince the Illinois governor not to slurp at the public trough.

The only thing I could think of was to roar.

Yeah, I was dopey, but I didn’t really mean anybody any harm. I wasn’t about to take a gun (which I had access to, thanks to some of my associates in small-time crime) and go out blasting for the lark of it.

Hell, I could hardly muster the bile to punch a guy in the face, although that talent was considered requisite in my neighborhood.

So what was I to do to inform the citizens of this holy land that I considered them consummate boobs?

I fell back on the old reliables: busting windows, splattering paint on walls, petty theft, flashing the finger at passing squad cars (all the while making sure they wouldn’t see me doing it), and other teen boy annoyances.

“Yeah, This’ll Show ‘Em!”

Those two Bloomington kids might well be harboring some of the same grievances I did. Hell, cops are still dousing protesters with pepper spray these days. Corporations are still run by greedy pigs. Pointless wars are still being fought. And Illinois governors are still going to prison.

Work Hard, Study, Mind Your Elders And You, Too, Can Grow Up To Be Governor

The two kids may not know exactly who Otto Kerner was or Rod Blagojevich is, but rest assured they know pols still are adept at digging their hands in our pockets when we aren’t looking. It’s a safe bet to assume, as well, that the two Bloomington teens feel their parents are spectacularly uninformed and incapable of tying their own shoelaces.

And maybe — just maybe — they needed the world to know just how contemptible they think it is.

So, pretend you’re a kid with a half-formed sense of morality. What’s the worst thing you can draw on a wall that illustrates how despicable you think the adult nation is?

A good starting point might be a penis or a vagina, no? That’ll shake ’em up. They’ll realize what idiots they are when they catch sight of that, huh?

Okay, now that we’ve made our point clear on that score, how about politics? Let’s see now, who was the most evil politician of all time?

Duh! Adolf Hitler!

“This Is What I Think Of You.”

Man, nothin’s gonna show these pigs what we think of ’em better than writing the name of history’s most evil man on a poster and drawing a swastika.

You think you’re gonna pull me into your bullshit world, man? Take that! Hitler. Hah!

You may counter that I’m being too forgiving here. Perhaps these two kids have had their brains turned to mush by the rantings of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Perhaps one or both of the kids really hates Jews.

I doubt it. My guess is that neither of the kids knows exactly what a Jew is.

They most likely only know that writing Hitler’s name on a wall pisses people off, big time. And it’s a sure-fire way to make the announcement that we are not you.

I hope the kids had an epiphany when they had their belts and shoelaces taken away.

BIRTHERS NEVER DIE

Can you believe it? Birthers are still around and still making bleating noises.

Birthers.

Jerome Corsi is one of them. You’ve heard of him. Several of his books have made the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Corsi

Which is ironic because they’re as far from nonfiction as the number one bestseller called “Heaven Is for Real” by that Nebraska preacher named Burpo about his kid’s fever dream fantasy that he died and came back from paradise.

Corsi, of course, is the fabulist who popularized the Swiftboat canard against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and has since thrown his lot in with the likes of Orly Taitz, who is to sanity what the hot dog station at the Circle K is to gourmet cooking.

Taitz

Corsi earned a doctorate in political science from Harvard, which proves only that even Ivy League institutions make mistakes.

Taitz, meanwhile, roams the streets freely, always one step ahead of the men with butterfly nets.

Corsi’s latest flight of psychotic fancy is called “Where’s the Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama Is not Eligible to Be President,” published last year even as Barack Obama produced his long-form birth certificate.

Per Corsi’s peculiar logic, that is not the birth certificate.

Whatever the hell ever that means.

Anyway, New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco, a Republican (duh!) from Morris, has jumped on the Manchurian Candidate bandwagon. The state legislator says Corsi, who gave an SRO speech at the Morristown Masonic Lodge that Bucco attended Tuesday, piques his interest.

Corsi, according to Bucco, raised “interesting points I wasn’t aware of, and it made me believe this thing isn’t going away.”

Bucco, by the way, is an alternate spelling of the Italian word for hole. As in the things in both his and Corsi’s heads. Taitz’s cranium is a sieve.

Osso Bucco — Literally, Bone With A Hole

Bucco is the deputy Republican leader in the New Jersey House. Corsi’s speech was sponsored by a gaggle of Tea Party groups as well the Morris County Republican Party.

So this is fairly mainstream stuff. Within my lifetime, the cranks of this holy land have become respectable — which says absolutely nothing about them but everything about us.

See, there’ve always been those who fixate on marginalia. There were guys I used to see at City Hall, for instance, who rode their rusty three-speed bikes to every single City Council Zoning Committee meeting, convinced they were the average citizen’s bulwark against corruption. You know the type — they loiter in the county building halls and mumble hello to passing county board members and whoever is foolish enough to acknowledge them immediately becomes the object of the loiterer’s mantra-like anecdote for the next few weeks: “I was talking to so-and-so at the county building and she says….”

Or how about the insomniacs who listened to all-night syndicated talk radio shows? They knew that the government was sitting on alien visitation evidence in Roswell.

Proof!

They reside at the flange of the sanity’s bell curve.

For most of our history, the ramblings of these folks have been the aural equivalent of the croak of a toad in a wetland ten miles from the nearest outpost of civilization.

Now, though, that toad croak must be breathlessly covered by TV, radio, and newspaper reporters across the nation.

How did that happen?

Is it the inevitable result of me-generation huffing and puffing from the 70s?

You know, everybody’s opinion counts? Feelings are paramount? Facts are fascist? If you believe it, it’s true?

Self-help authors made millions pontificating in this manner. Remember Robert Bly and John Bradshaw? Later practitioners included Marianne Williamson and, more recently, Rhonda Byrne, she of “The Secret.”

Believe And It Will Be So

They all preached that you create your own reality.

And no matter how much the Right derides the touchy-feely, post-hippie, 70’s generation, most of them grew up in that era. If they didn’t care for est training and I-am-woman-hear-me-roar, they surely dug the patronizing message that whatever you think or believe is valid.

Well, guess what folks — it ain’t.

No matter how passionately you feel, the world is not flat. The Apollo moon landings were not staged. Alien bodies were not hidden in a hangar at Area 51. And Barack Obama was born in Hawai’i.

 

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” ” Richard Dawkins

OH, GOD

So, some god fetishist who got fired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for haranguing people with his myth-belief is suing NASA for wrongful termination.

David Coppedge says NASA tried to discipline him for spouting his fairy tale.

NASA says he created a hostile work environment for his underlings by laying Intelligent Design propaganda on them.

This is perfect, kiddies.

It’s the Battle of the Century. That is, the 11th Century versus the 21st Century.

Standing Tall Against Knowledge For A Thousand Years And Counting

Democritus, Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, and Sagan are all spinning in their graves. Hawking would spin if he could.

It’s god versus man in a cage match. The brain against the heart. Want a hint as to where I stand (as if you needed one)? The brain is the seat of thought; the heart is not. It’s a pump, dig?

I hope this lawsuit turns out to be as dramatic as the Scopes Monkey Trial some 90 years ago. I hope there’s a mouthpiece as deft and elequent as Clarence Darrow was. I hope NASA’s attorney puts Coppedge‘s lawyer on the witness stand. I can’t wait for the hologram movie about it all to come out in 50 years.

Who knows? Perhaps by that time we’ll have progressed so far as to tax churches. We may even have open atheists and agnostics running for high office. Our generals might not feel compelled to invoke the almighty to help us blow the brains out of enemy soldiers.

Nah.

I forgot; this is America.

COLLEGE MAN

My old neighbor Rod R. Blagojevich gave his last press conference as a free man outside his home in Chicago yesterday.

The former governor of Illinois now begins his long stay at the federal hotel in Colorado. Or, as Outfit bosses used to put it, college. — as in, “Paul ‘The Waiter’ Ricca is still da man in dis operation, but he’s in college right now. Curly Humphreys is workin’ his ass off tryin’ to get him paroled.”

It’s funny: that’s the one thing Blagojevich was never accused of — playing footsie with the Chicago Mob. That’s probably only because the Chicago Mob was finished by the time Blago took over the state. Over. History, baby.

All the old Mustache Petes were long dead. Those who had been known as the Young Turks were either dead, senile, or in college.

“The Last Supper” Photo Of Chicago Outfit Bosses (c. 1978)

Rod could have cleaned up had there been a lively Outfit to support him in his duties to the people of Illinois. The Outfit generally had county, state, and, on occasion, federal prosecutors in their back pockets. Judges and cops, too. Old Man Mayor Daley, the first pharaoh of Chicago, never made any bones about it — he had no choice but to work with the Outfit.

Now, thanks to the wonders of competitive capitalism, a Chicago mayor may work with any number of disciplined criminal organizations. There are, to name a few, the Latin Kings, the Vice Lords, and the Black P Stones. None of them, though, is as thorough and effective as the old Outfit.

None can point to their rolls and boast of a fixer as capable of gaming the political and justice system as Curly Humphreys.

Fixer Extraordinaire

I’ll bet Rod Blagojevich rues the passing of the good old days.

Anyway, Blagojevich met the press and a passel of chanting supporters on Francisco Avenue yesterday. It was a circus. And Rod was the clown.

You’d expect a guy facing a stiff prison sentence to act somewhat contrite. Hell, most people would have the good sense to fake it if they still harbored thoughts of the unfairness of it all.

Not Rod.

He sounded more like a man running for another term in office rather than a convicted felon about to start a term in the joint.

What — Me Worry?

“I believe,” he told the crowd, “I always, always, thought about what’s right for the people. And I am proud as I leave, and enter the next part of what is a dark and hard journey, that I can take with me the sense of accomplishment and a real belief that the things that I did as governor and the things that I did as a congressman actually helped real, ordinary people…. One thing I had a lot of was a desire to help average, ordinary people.”

Later, as he climbed into the car that would take him to O’Hare Airport and his flight to the federal pen, he said he had “a clear conscience and I have high, high hopes for the future.”

Wow.

Not a hint that he might have done one or two things differently during his term as the top influence peddler in Illinois. Not a breath that he even should have tempered his language, that maybe his faux tough guy, street wise lingo could have been misinterpreted. No.

“I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m gonna do it. And, and I can always use it.”

Blagojevich spent his last day as a free man telling reporters, neighbors, and supporters what a terrific servant of the people he’s always been.

Man.

I’ll tell you one thing I learned yesterday. Blagojevich’s defense attorney, Sam Adam Jr., blew his best shot to get his client off. He should have advised Rod R. Blagojevich to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” — Billy Wilder

PRELUDE TO MASS SUICIDE

Hah! And you thought I was being obsessive by devoting so much of this space to those two execrable professional virgins who sing about Rick Santorum.

All I know is this morning’s TV and radio reports on the victories of god’s candidate in yesterday’s Mississippi and Alabama primaries feature snippets of the song. It has now earned the imprimatur of the corporate media.

First Love, my dear friends, has arrived.

“I Know What’s Best For Your Uterus!”

And if, by some sick turn of history, the closeted candidate goes into the Republican convention with a chance to unseat putative front runner Willard Romney, the First Love earworm will become a pandemic.

Lady Gaga will wish she’d thought of penning a ballad extolling a rollback of reproductive rights and drooling over the dyed and addled Ronald Reagan.

[Headslap] “I Coulda Had An Earworm Hit!”

KING OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

Just in case you missed it, Willard won the caucuses in Hawai’i and American Samoa last night. Game On!

“Thank You, My Fellow Samoans!”

THE ILLINOIS GUBERNATORIAL RETIREMENT PLAN

I met Rod Blagojevich the day he started campaigning for a seat in the Illinois House back in 1992.

It was a sunny Monday morning and this earnest-looking guy in a nicely pressed suit and a helmet of hair was handing out flyers in front of the Francisco stop on the Ravenswood el line. I looked at the photo on the flyer and then at the guy and said, “Hey, this is you.”

Vote For Me, I’ll Set You Free

He got a big kick out of that. He flashed a smile that almost blinded me. Lucky I was wearing sunglasses.

He told me why he was the best candidate for the office. He seemed so serious and honest and self-effacing. He made a lot of people think that of him over the years.

He told me he was a neighbor. The Blagojeviches lived a block and a half away from me, on Francisco Avenue. I’d pass his house every time I walked down to the convenience store for a newspaper or an ice cream bar. His bungalow was notable in that it was surrounded by a tall, black metal fence, the kind Mayor Daley had given a sweetheart contract to one of his donor/cronies to surround every park in the city with. I guess Blagojevich figured he ought throw a little business that guy’s way as well.

Rod Blagojevich was nothing if not politically astute.

Well, to a point.

He turned awfully stupid when he was taped by federal prosecutors trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s US Senate seat.

Not Free

Today he goes into the slammer for that and other crimes. He’ll serve about 12 years of his 14-year sentence in a minimum security facility outside Denver.

I needn’t recount all his in-office malfeasances and felonies here. Nor will I list all his embarrassing media exploits since being convicted in his impeachment trial in 2009.

I’ll only point this out; it may be his most despicable crime. In October 2002, Rod Blagojevich was the only Illinois Democrat in the US Congress to vote in favor of the authorization of George Bush’s bullshit Iraq war.

Enjoy your twelve year stay in the federal B&B, Rod baby, you earned it.

FOLSOM PRISON BLUES

Dedicated to my ex-state legislator, ex-congressman, ex-governor, and ex-neighbor Rod R. Blagojevich.

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