For Sale: One Senator's Seat, UsedIt sounds like Illinois Governor Blagojevich tried to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. President-elect Obama doesn't seem to have known about the deal, but that's not what got Rod Blagojevich in trouble. Under American law, Senate seats are not for sale.
Bribery and Corruption in the Governor's OfficeThis is one of the reasons that I'm very glad to be an American.
That statement's going to take a little explaining. And, it's not political. Yes, Blagojevich is a Democrat. He also voted for using American troops in Iraq, back in 2002. And, he tried to put the fear of Illinois into the heart of a bank yesterday. None of which applies to the Illinois Governor's arrest, and what it says about America.1
America Has "the Worst Form of Government"I'm with former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, when he said, "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." (The Quotations Page)
I was born during the Truman administration, and have been paying some attention to America as a nation since President Kennedy's time.
Among other things, I've learned that America isn't perfect.
I've also learned that there's no other place on Earth that I'd rather live.
I'm quite certain about the last point: from time to time, I've thought seriously about moving. But, after looking carefully into my options, I've decided that, all things considered, America is the best place for someone like me. Judging from the number of people breaking in, or arriving legally, I'm not the only one.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Corruption, and the Rule of LawGovernor Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, among other things. If the Senate seat deal had gone through, Blagojevich would probably have made quite a bit of money. Besides the prestige and access to interns, there's got to be a lively market for all those government contracts.
The double whammy that Governor Blagojevich ran into is:
- American law, custom, and culture frown on public leaders making personal profit from their position2
- While in office - cashing in with autobiographies and speaking fees afterward is okay
- The governors of states are subject to American law, just like everyone else
- Granted, someone with power and position can get around the law from time to time3 - for a while, at least
But, America deals with problems in a way that's calculated to do the least damage. Governor Blagojevich and chief of staff Harris will go through a process that's designed to sort out truth from irrelevancies and lies. If they broke laws, they will be sanctioned. Maybe not as much as some feel they should be, but that's yet another topic.
If Illinois needs a new governor, the state has procedures for assigning the job to someone else. The transition will, I'm pretty sure, go as smoothly as can be expected when human beings are involved.
Officials Acting Badly: Been There, Done ThatAmerica has been through quite a few embarrassments: from the Yazoo land scandal, to the vicuna coat and Pardongate. I don't think that Governor Blagojevich's arrest will strain the system.
America went through Watergate, when we almost ran out of designated replacements for a missing president. The American judicial and legislative system sorted the mess out within the framework of our laws. I don't think that an excessively entrepreneurial governor will strain the system.
In fact, we may come out of this Illinois imbroglio with ideas for improving how America handles politicos who don't play by the rules.
In the news:
- "U.S. attorney: Blagojevich has taken us to 'new low' "
CNN (December 9, 2008)
- "Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrested"
Chicago Tribune (December 9, 2008)
- "UPDATE 1-Ill. Gov. Blagojevich arrested on federal charges"
Reuters (December 9, 2008)
- "Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges"
FOXNews (December 9, 2008) RAW DATA: Press Release on Blagojevich Arrest"
- "Unfiltered: Blagojevich Threatens Bank"
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio (December 8, 2008)
U.S. Attorney's Office press release
FOXNews (December 9, 2008)
Update - 1:13 p.m. Central, December 9. 2008)Since starting this post, I saw a press conference with an FBI representative. A few points stood out.
- Governor Blagojevich is actually in custody - FBI agents picked him up at his house this morning, at about 6:00 a.m.
- Blagojevich's wife and kids weren't aware that the agents were there - until the arrest had been made
1He's Serbian, too: but I don't see his arrest as a matter of Serbian rights.
2 While it's quite legal for cities, counties, and states, to demand money from individuals and businesses for the right to own property or do business and get regulated, individual politicians and government employees are not supposed to add their own surcharge for services.
3 People at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum can benefit from their position, too, I think. There's something to be said for being 'under the radar.' But, that's getting 'way off topic.