article-single

Where 4% Is an A

     

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.

Arrest-Proof Yourself:... Denham, Wes Best Price: $2.49 Buy New $23.80 (as of 03:05 UTC - Details)

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.

The Criminal Law Handb... Berman J.D., Sara Best Price: $3.35 Buy New $65.85 (as of 02:10 UTC - Details)

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.

Go Directly to Jail: T... Best Price: $2.55 Buy New $22.99 (as of 07:50 UTC - Details)

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.

You & the Police! Kenneth W. Royce Best Price: $2.00 Buy New $61.09 (as of 06:20 UTC - Details)

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.