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The Rosett Report

Graft in Illinois Politics! Who Knew?

December 9th, 2008 - 1:26 pm

“If it wasn’t for graft, you’d get a very low type of people in politics, men without ambition, jellyfish!”

 - The Great McGinty, 1940, One of the best movies ever made about politics

The layers are endless. This morning I was sifting through reports on UN “misconduct,” with a Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac congressional hearing playing on C-Span in the background, and in comes a news flash that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and one of his aides have been arrested on federal corruption charges, including allegations that in a profanity-laden spree of criminal wheeling-and-dealing they bleep-ing tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

This is way beyond a three-ring circus. The AP offers a handy rundown of governors who have run foul of the law over the decades, including three previous Illinois governors who over the past 35 years have done jailtime.

Politics is a constant carnival, in which just a few of the recent acrobatics include –please note that all should be considered innocent unless actually convicted of something – Sen. Ted Stevens with his home renovations, Rep. William Jefferson with his cash in the freezer, Rep. Charlie Rangel under an ethics investigation by the House, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer with his furtive recreational interests, and that timeline of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac executives who collectively raked in hundreds of millions in pay, and are still collecting millions every year in pensions, for steering implied taxpayer mortgage guarantees — and the financial markets — right off a cliff.

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