Where 4% Is an A

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How ashamed
all Americans should be today, but especially all Illinoisans. Former
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been convicted based on a
specious law. Justice is said to have been done.

If the federal
government can't uphold law and order, what value does it create?
Without fulfilling that task, what possible reason does the FBI
have for existing? It was supposed to be the case of the year: a
governor caught trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat.

This case was
publicly presented as open and shut. But when the time came to present
a case before the jury, it clearly was not open and shut. It made
for great talking points: strange, unpronounceable Slavic-named
governor of a corrupt place, with an unusually pretty coif of hair,
tries to sell the Senate seat of the most pristine President these
united states have seen since Lincoln. Obama's a saint; this other
guy's a creep. It's hope and change part two — the media dress rehearsal
for the 2010 elections. In the media it sounded perfect to the many
unquestioning votaries of the status quo out there who trust anything
a government or newspaper (which are very often saying the same
thing) has to say.

But, among
people who don't confuse truth with the words of the government
as delivered through "journalists" (read: glorified stenographers),
the Blago trial looked a little more complex. A bunch of crooks
went free in Chicago to continue their business as usual, while
a member of their political class was on trial, as if convicting
him would clean up the whole state of Illinois.

On a scale
of one to 24, one (or 4 %) is about how much I liked the government's
case against Blago. So, the fact that the jurors coincidentally
only convicted Rod Blagojevich on 1/24th of the counts
makes sense. What if you were 1/24 successful at your job? What
would your boss think of that?

Who is the
boss of a federal prosecutor anyway? Perhaps it's the Attorney General
of the U.S. Or maybe the President of the U.S. is his boss. An argument
could be made that it's the U.S. Congress, as they are the ones
who are in charge of the government's purse strings. However, I
tend to think that the person who's in charge is the person, or
people, who pays the bills. That relationship between bread-giver
and boss is not at all times apparent to the executives of a company,
organization, non-profit, or government. However, if the person
who pays the bills stops paying the bills, that relationship immediately
becomes more clear to the entire organization. For the bill-payers
and debt-guaranteers of the U.S. government (a.k.a. the U.S. taxpayers),
the prosecution was about 1/24th successful. Had 23 crooked
politicians been on trial alongside Blago and forever been marked
as felons, then we might be getting somewhere. As the verdict currently
stands, the American taxpayer has received virtually no benefit
from this trial.

From another
perspective (that of "the management") the federal prosecutors
were 100% successful — Blago's been convicted of a felony, his name's
been destroyed, Obama's been mostly left out of it, so have Daley
and Madigan. The fall guy has been put to rout, now the talking
heads can go out and feel honest when they say either 1. Blago got
what was coming to him, and justice has been served, Illinois is
a better place or 2. Blago got off lucky, but a warning has been
sent to all politicians in the future, that this federal government
will not tolerate their Chicago-style misbehavior.

What horrible
crime was Blago convicted of anyway? He was found guilty of lying
to the FBI. Compared to the scandalous charges that were brought
against him, compared to the over the top statements made to the
media by the federal prosecutor, compared to the statements made
by the scoundrel that we all heard on the tapes, compared to all
that, lying to the FBI is basically a non-issue. A real anti-climactic
letdown. If we lived in a freer country, the media might even resolutely
question why a person is not allowed to lie to the FBI. Do we have
some sort of ethical obligation to tell the truth to an outlandishly
truthless government? No, we don't. The prohibition against lying
to the FBI exists, not because it's right, but because it can exist.
Like many other laws in this day and age, "might makes right"
seems to be the moral basis for its existence.

While I disagree
with quite a few of Blagojevich's political views (disagreements
that everyone from President Obama to John Stewart do not have),
I agree very strongly with a bit of wisdom he offered in a press
conference. Even a good talking point from a post-trial Teflon politician
can have truth at its source: the federal government will continue
to spend money going after Blagojevich while the taxpayers that
fund their activities are weathering economic troubles.

After being
found guilty on one of 24 counts, Blagojevich told gathered reporters
“We have a prosecutor who has wasted and wanted to spend tens of
millions of dollars of taxpayer money to take me away from my family
and my home.” Blago's attorney Sam Adam Jr. added “Why are we spending
$25 to $30 million on a retrial when they couldn’t prove it the
first time?”  Great point. Of course I'd appreciate such points
from politicians even more if they weren't made out of sheer self-interest.

Why is it Blago
they are going after while the other big names are going free? Blago's
a convicted felon, which means he can't run for a number of offices
or hold a plethora of other jobs any longer. He's going to do time
on this unjust FBI law. All things considered, the federal government
should probably be pretty pleased with themselves for even getting
a conviction on 1 out of 24 of the counts in the lame case they
brought forward.

Blago has been
convicted on a specious law, and justice has not been done. Justice
is seeing a criminal convicted on a legitimate law and do real time
because of it. Justice is seeing jail time for every crooked politician
who breaks the law.

Honestly, what
kind of return are we, the people of Illinois, and we the federal
taxpayer going to get out of this Blago trial round two? We'll just
have to end up paying for him to do more jail time. There won't
be much of a deterrent effect — politicians will still feel that
they are above the law, especially the more powerful Illinois politicians
who so expertly skirted the law without mention by federal prosecutors
while Blagojevich remained the center of attention. The second,
and heaven forbid, the third time the government tries Blagojevich,
there will only be diminishing returns.

The people
of Illinois and the people of the U.S. should be ashamed of what
happened in the Blagojevich trial. They should be ashamed that they
pay the paychecks of people who went on the air to tell us justice
has been served. They should be ashamed that the trial against Blago
will continue towards round two, while Chicago continues to operate
according to business as usual.

Cui bono? Not
ours.

Allan
Stevo [send him mail]
is
a writer working on his next book. He's worked on Chicagoland political
campaigns since childhood.

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