Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Politicians and Comedians

The Governor of Illinois is a Joke!
Jay Leno moves to Prime Time!
by Charlie Leck

“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” [Will Rogers]
This is a short blog with some very long documentation appended in case you’re in the mood for some substance today.

The essence of the short blog is that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is a joke, and not a very good one, and that comedian Jay Leno is a guy very worth listening to and we may get more of an opportunity to get to know the serious side of Leno very soon.

Blagoojevich is a creepy, little, humorless man. He makes dirty everything he touches. Corruption and scandal ooze from his veins. He should be thrown away. His life of influence peddling is over. He will never have a place in politics or government again.

What’s going on in Illinois?
We use to ask this about Louisiana, but now Illinois is about to jail its 4th governor. As Jimmy Durante always said: “What a revoltin’ development this is!”

The following was the lead in a NY Times story yesterday 9 December 2008:
CHICAGO — Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois was arrested by federal authorities on Tuesday morning on corruption charges, including an allegation that he conspired to effectively sell President-elect Barack Obama’s seat in the United States Senate to the highest bidder.Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, called his sole authority to name Mr. Obama’s successor “golden,” and he sought to parlay it into a job as an ambassador or secretary of Health and Human Services, or a high-paying position at a nonprofit or an organization connected to labor unions, prosecutors said.
What’s going on at NBC?
They’re moving Jay Leno into Prime Time.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, an old friend with whom I have not spoken for over 50 years, called the house to chat with me. It was 9:45 in the evening and one of my daughters, home for the weekend, answered the call and told my friend I was in bed and that I always went to bed early. He was incredulous at the thought that anyone would go to bed so early.

“Doesn’t he ever watch David Letterman?”

Nope, I don’t, but I do see the sunrise every single morning.

Now I may get to watch Jay Leno occasionally. He’s coming to Prime Time according to an NBC spokesman. Leno has signed a long term extension with the network and part of the agreement gives him a chance to try a new and different kind of variety show in earlier evening hours.

In the next several months, Governor Blagojevich of Illinois will go to jail (nothing really new in Illinois). Jay Leno will move into early evening television (something new for all of us).

“A politician is an arse upon which everybody has sat except a man.” [e.e. cummings]

Want more? Here some reading I could suggest!

Susan Saulny portrait story of Governor Blagojevich is this morning’s NY Times is extremely well done and presents a stunning story of deep corruption and vile profanity.

CHICAGO — Little in Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s background prepared the people of Illinois for the man who was revealed in the criminal complaint that dropped like a bombshell here on Tuesday. Delusional, narcissistic, vengeful and profane, Mr.
Blagojevich as portrayed by federal prosecutors shocked even his most ardent detractors. “I almost fell over,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and a frequent critic of the governor. “I was speechless and sickened. In all of the millions of indictments I’ve read over the last years, I can’t remember anything as vile as this.”“…Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said Mr. Blagojevich had clearly come into office believing he was destined for bigger things, and may have been tripped up by that ambition. “’

"The combination of arrogance and stupidity that would prompt him to continue in these types of behaviors is just stunning,’ Dr. Redfield said. ‘There’s no feedback loop or reality check.’“Dr. Redfield said he had little sympathy for a man who regarded
‘the state of Illinois like it’s a big Chicago ward, where a U.S. Senate seat is like granting a zoning variance or liquor license.’”
In Eric Zorn’s blog on the Chicago Tribune web site, he called the charges staggering:

by Eric Zorn

The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering .They allege that (Ill. Gov. Rod) Blagojevich put a "for sale" sign on the naming of a United States Senator;
involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism...U.S. Atty. Patrick J. Fitzgerald in a news release this morning.

Fitzgerald has prosecuted a lot of political corruption in his years in Chicago, so you really have to go some to find acts that would stagger him. I find no record in the news archives of Fitzgerald ever before describing corruption charges as "staggering."

Yet the charges in the criminal complaint (text version) are, in fact, staggering. They are stunning. Eyepopping. Gobsmacking. Jaw-dropping. Appalling. Unprecedented in their alleged brazenness.

These charges say that even as his predecessor sat in prison after a corruption conviction, even as his associates and fundraisers were going down, even as it was widely reported that he was at the center of a federal corruption probe ... even then, Blagojevich was selling out his office and otherwise abusing his power.

In a profile of Blagojevich in last February's Chicago Magazine, writer David
Bernstein reported:

'Privately, a few people who know the governor describe him as a "sociopath," and they insist they're not using hyperbole. State representative Joe Lyons, a fellow Democrat from Chicago, told reporters that Blagojevich was a "madman" and "insane."

That struck me at the time, as over the top. Today it strikes me as brave and prescient.

If these allegations are true, Blagojevich is not just sleazy and venal, he's also recklessly compulsive. But an allegedly recklessly compulsive sociopath cannot and does not act alone -- his abetters and enablers included his major donors and his advisers. They, too, should be called to account.

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