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It's a Go-Go with the Blago
June 1, 2010 10:30 PM   Subscribe

It's a Go-Go with the Blago. Thursday, June 3rd, Rod Blagojevich gets his day(s) in court.

And what a scene it will be. The judge, James Zagel, a mystery author and renaissance man, the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald and the defense team, father and son team, Sam Adam Jr and Sr will begin the trial, which by many accounts will keep court watchers busy for months.

Suprisingly Rahm Emanuel was not subpoenaed, but Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. was. The indictment from December 2008 was one of the most widely read and entertaining legal documents leading to the "name that potential seat-buyer" game. Rod, and his hair , played the media circus like a violin enjoying the spolight with Trump, Letterman (Top Ten), Kimmel or anyone that would have him ( or his wife Patty).

What new news will come out in this trial? Also on trial, Rod's brother Rob Blagojevich, a Nashville business man who somehow became involved with the Chicago mob investing Betty Loren Maltese's campaign funds. Rod is no stranger to Chicago mob connections, getting his start as a clerk in Eddie Vrdolyak's law office.

Blagojevich challenging Fitzgerald "Are you man enough to meet me in court?"

For us locals the question is "How early do I have to get there to get a seat as a court watcher?"
posted by readery (50 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
This guy is such an embarrassment. I mean come on, Chicago politicians who are that sleazy usually go a lot further. He's a monkey. June sounds like a good month to take a break from the local news.
posted by heyho at 10:43 PM on June 1, 2010


I miss the days of living in Chicago during the Council Wars. Fast Eddie Vrdolyak and Burke fighting with Harold Washington. Dorothy Tillman. Those were the days. Blago brings it all back. He will get his day in court, but I cannot believe it will help him unless his goal is to drag a lot of folks down with him. He has maintained his innocence for so long and so hard that there is no outcome short of astonishing here. If he is innocent, wow. They threw out a sitting Gov for no reason. (Unlikely) If he is guilty, how does he explain his way out of it? My guess is he denies, denies, denies all the way to the pokey. He will claim his trial was rigged or he got a raw deal. He will never admit guilt.

I miss Illinois politics. All we got here in NY is a bunch of lightweight thieves in Albany taking money from the unions to preserve their seats. Amateur ball compared to selling Senate seats.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:43 PM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


For a second, you had me excited because I thought this was going to be about Blagojevich having an affair with Lady Gaga.

I only read posts about Lady Gaga.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:08 PM on June 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


My God, everywhere has more interesting politics than Canada.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:19 PM on June 1, 2010


His stint on Celebrity Apprentice was really fascinating. You can tell the producers had it in mind to make him out to be a smarmy politician, and he provided ample ammunition. Completely unrepentant. It's like a study in sociopathology (which, to no surprise, is overrepresented by 300% in law, politics, and law enforcement). He's got a really glassy, lifeless look in his eyes.

During one of his street interview segments, he was side-tracked by a pedestrian who recognized him. After walking over to introduce himself and plead his innocence, he walked back into the frame and asked, "Did you get that?"

Here's a bunch of episodes on youtube for those interested in a really fascinating character study.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:33 PM on June 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


He has maintained his innocence for so long and so hard that there is no outcome short of astonishing here. If he is innocent, wow. They threw out a sitting Gov for no reason. (Unlikely) If he is guilty, how does he explain his way out of it?

he may have been guilty of unseemly politics, but not actual monetary corruption. If he was just trying to barter the seat for some political payoff, that may not be illegal (as far as I know). On the other hand, for cash, it's probably illegal. What about about campaign contributions? Well, who knows.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on June 1, 2010


I thought this was going to be about Blagojevich having an affair with Lady Gaga.

Give it a few days. Blago may play the LG card somewhere. Nothing is out of bounds with him.
posted by lampshade at 11:42 PM on June 1, 2010


It's like a study in sociopathology (which, to no surprise, is overrepresented by 300% in law, politics, and law enforcement)

Got a cite for that? Just curious, not trying to 'gotcha' ya...
posted by jtron at 12:03 AM on June 2, 2010


i was actually wondering if this was about belinda carlisle and the girls - maybe blagojevich photo bombing them or something to smooth down his hair and say "i didn't do those things"

man that would be awesome.
posted by nadawi at 12:11 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since all I know about him is the corruption charges, I was surprised to find he proposed a wide range of radically progressive measures -- universal healthcare to be funded by business tax increases, big increases in public education spending, death penalty reform, gun control, mass transit, anti-discrimination, anti-smoking.

I don't gives a fuck about a politician's hair, his performance on reality television, his sleazy deals or his psychopathology -- if he's proposing universal healthcare funded by business tax increases and his opponent isn't, I'm gonna vote for him. Rather a sleazy leader who introduces an NHS than a fine upstanding good old boy.

On the other hand, the guy had like zero per cent approval ratings, so I'm guessing the progressive left deserted him too. Why?
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:13 AM on June 2, 2010


... or rather, what was the tipping point where the progressive left began deserting Blagojevich in spite of his liberal policy agenda?
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:22 AM on June 2, 2010


dontjumplarry, I voted for him (I know, I know -- I was fond of him from the days he was running for Representative and his bumper stickers included a helpful pronunciation guide), and I deserted him despite my politics because, as it turns out, he's a batshit lunatic.
posted by sldownard at 3:53 AM on June 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


My God, everywhere has more interesting politics than Canada.

I don't know. When the Canadian PM repeatedly suspends Parliament to prevent government from happening, that's a pretty interesting grade of corruption. Not something we'd expect from Canada.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:07 AM on June 2, 2010


I'm going to be back in Chicago tomorrow. Between the hockey finals and the trial, I think I picked a good weekend. I, too, secretly hope he tries the Gaga defense.

If it does not make sense, you must acquit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:18 AM on June 2, 2010


I think we're all missing the key point here: Who the hell names their kids (Milo)Rod and Rob(ert)? They might as well be George Foreman Jr. and George Foreman IV.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:33 AM on June 2, 2010


I thought Blago appeared on the Celebrity Apprentice to be the prototypical politician: totally incompetent but strangely likable for some reason I can't quite put my finger on.
posted by digsrus at 4:33 AM on June 2, 2010


OP here. The salient point is the choice of attorneys Blagojevich has chosen to represent him. Adam Sr and Jr are seasoned veterans of the county criminal courts at 26th and Cal (Cook County Courthouse attached to the county jail complex at 26th and California Ave). This is a rough and tumble place, a kind of place where you buy churros out in front.

He is going out with a bang. These guys live for showy theatrical gimmicks, not at all in tune with the Feds. Anything can happen and probably will. The last 18 months have been nuts. Blagojevich has shown himself willing to grasp at any straws and unwilling to admit any wrong doing. All that universal healthcare stuff was pure showboating as he knew it would not pass the state senate.
posted by readery at 5:18 AM on June 2, 2010


Completely unrepentant. It's like a study in sociopathology (which, to no surprise, is overrepresented by 300% in law, politics, and law enforcement).

I didn't realize anyone had checked into this. For a long time, I've wanted a good outcome on a test for this to be a prerequisite for public office.
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on June 2, 2010


Since all I know about him is the corruption charges, I was surprised to find he proposed a wide range of radically progressive measures -- universal healthcare to be funded by business tax increases, big increases in public education spending, death penalty reform, gun control, mass transit, anti-discrimination, anti-smoking...the guy had like zero per cent approval ratings, so I'm guessing the progressive left deserted him too. Why?

Because he had no clear plan to making those things reality (aside from the ban on smoking in bars, which is pretty cheap--you pass the law and let local law enforcement do the rest). As it is, Illinois is burdened under a huge budget deficit, and Pat Quinn, a decent guy who became governor after Blago was kicked out, has had a hell of a time trying to clean up the mess.

And, really, that's Rod's approach to everything. He has no real plan for getting out of this that anyone can see; his public defense gambits--claiming that he's trying to subpoena anyone and everyone in Illinois politics, up to and including Obama; insisting that the jurors have to listen to all 500 hours of his taped phone conversations--reek of playing for time. He's had a lot of fun and is in no hurry to give it up, and apres Rod l'deluge, motherfuckers.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:41 AM on June 2, 2010


dontjumplarry, i think the tipping point was when he decided that all senior citizens deserved free rides on public transit. even that might have been okay, but he also wanted that on metra, the local heavy rail commuter lines around here.

everyone agreed to it because it was tied to a tax package to fund mass transit. but it was really blago inserting something stupid and more complicated to make it sound like he was the one that got the deal done. not sure about it's current status, but i know it's now being slowly undone.

i was kind of surprised about how skeevy it looked for flannigan to show up at blago's victory party after he lost. from the video coverage it appeared that flannigan went unescorted, which is pretty unusual for cook county/chicago politicians. it looked like he just strolled over from his own (not) victory party ... but he seemed happy about it.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:51 AM on June 2, 2010


i should say that was when blago beat flannigan in 1996.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:51 AM on June 2, 2010


Because he had no clear plan to making those things reality (aside from the ban on smoking in bars, which is pretty cheap--you pass the law and let local law enforcement do the rest). As it is, Illinois is burdened under a huge budget deficit, and Pat Quinn, a decent guy who became governor after Blago was kicked out, has had a hell of a time trying to clean up the mess.


This is the point. His reign was all about saying stuff like that to get people to think he was a great guy, and in a lot of cases, it worked. Unfortunately, rather than helping people, he was simply using them. He was all about "women and children first"- but only so they could act as shields and absorb shrapnel that might fly his way. Kinda like how he held up $X million of state funding for a childrens hospital because he wanted them to do something for him. The result of that was, among other things, the charity that Patti Blagojevich originally wanted to work for on the TV show was unable to accept the money because they were involved with that hospital. A cynic might say that she chose that charity to try and curry favor with them...

I always believed he was a dirtbag, but that was confirmed one time when I had to go by his house for work. It happened that this was the day after a snow, and his sidewalks weren't shoveled. It is bad enough for a regular citizen to not shovel, but the FUCKING GOVERNOR?? You have to be a special kind of slimeball to not care about arranging for that to be done.

The difference between political horse-trading and what he did, however, was that he was looking for personal gain. You can trade the policitcal assets of an office for some other political asset, but you can't trade a political asset for personal gain. Using the fruits of the office to strongarm childrens hospitals and newspapers and trying to get jobs for pals is not kosher.

The dude wants to be president, and I'm not convinced he is still not going to try and run sometime.

Plus, it is rumored that he likes the cocaine, and has a couple of kids outside of his marriage. (Meaning, they were fathered while he was married to Patti). Obviously, this is mere rumor and not to be believed. But it shows what people here think of him.
posted by gjc at 6:11 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


His stint on Celebrity Apprentice was really fascinating

Goddammit I kept meaning to watch that. Trump v. Blago? I called it the Hair Off.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:31 AM on June 2, 2010


I'm not saying I moved to Illinois because I watch politics like some people watch football.

But I'm not NOT saying that, either.

I'm so excited.
posted by sugarfish at 6:31 AM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


... or rather, what was the tipping point where the progressive left began deserting Blagojevich in spite of his liberal policy agenda?

I think it might have been when he tried to pressure the President of the United States into bribing him to appoint someone to the Senate.
posted by EarBucket at 6:40 AM on June 2, 2010


> My God, everywhere has more interesting politics than Canada.

May this ever be the case.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:46 AM on June 2, 2010


Good, I'm tired of him acting innocent on every talk show that will have him. He's been milking the fame from this thing for way too long.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:55 AM on June 2, 2010


If nothing else his hair will be awesome.
posted by tommasz at 6:56 AM on June 2, 2010


I thought this was going to be about Blagojevich having an affair with Lady Gaga.

Oh, so that's what's on "the rest of the tapes".
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:00 AM on June 2, 2010


Can we start a petition to get John Darnielle to play him in the inevitable TV movie?
posted by griphus at 7:04 AM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


His camera-hogging reminds me of that other great Serbian, Milosevich.
posted by goethean at 7:10 AM on June 2, 2010


For god's sake, surely this will get Jon Stewart to come back from vacation!!! Please? I need you to make the world funny again.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:14 AM on June 2, 2010





Also, wasn't there some speculation that Blago was hinting that if he went to trial he would start to name names of the people involved in his deals which being Chicago politics, means *everybody* right up to our President and people where frantically flapping around trying to make sure he kept his damned mouth shut?
posted by The Whelk at 7:27 AM on June 2, 2010


I like the fact that mugshot number 23 in the lineup from the link in the FPP is of one Matthew P. Putz. For possession of child pornography.

Also, I'm surprised by the scarcity of drug charges. There's a bunch, but not as many as I thought it'd be. Lots of violent felons, a surprising number of reckless homicide/DOIs and sex offenses, but, coming in at number 51, receiving seven kilograms of pot in the mail! Represent.

Starting at 111, they busted a brothel. From 130-35 appear to be a series of unfortunate Johns likely busted by the same undercover cop for solicitation.

Number 153-60 may take the cake though: the Hutaree wingnuts apparently got booked in Chicago. But I'd put them head to head with 181, who's going down on forty-seven weapons charges.

The criminal justice system is a constant source of despair over the state of humanity and hilarity over the outrageously stupid shit that people think they can get away with.

Yes, I am bored at work. Why do you ask?
posted by valkyryn at 7:40 AM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


what was the tipping point where the progressive left began deserting Blagojevich in spite of his liberal policy agenda?

I guess I can't stand smarmy assholes, regardless of their platform. Everything about the guy screamed asshole. He didn't accept or return congratulatory phone calls from neighboring governor's after his first election, he was systematically 45 minutes late to any state function (including funerals), he didn't move to the Governor's Mansion because Springfield wasn't as hopping as Chicago.

But of course, I still have the personal beef that my company had signed contracts with the State that were canceled, and the work mysteriously moved to out-of-state campaign contributors.

I'm as progressive as they come, but I didn't vote for him the first time around. And I voted Green the second.

Then I moved out of the state because of him. And Todd Stroger. Sounds like things are better, no?
posted by hwyengr at 7:59 AM on June 2, 2010


Can Daley be next?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 AM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't speak to his politics or whether or not he did anything illegal, but regardless, there is something about the guy's personality that makes me desperately want to feed him feet first into a wood chipper.

I get that with a lot of politician types, but there is something extra icky about him that really fires that part of my brain.
posted by quin at 8:45 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a rough and tumble place, a kind of place where you buy churros out in front.
What the fuck does that even mean? I live in Los Angeles, and if you're in place where you can buy churros out front, you're in a place full of awesome.

Do badass desserts and street muggings go hand-in-hand in Chicago or something?
posted by sideshow at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the implication is that if you can buy Mexican carnival food out front of the criminal court house, it's not exactly Law & Order inside.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:34 AM on June 2, 2010


I guess what I'm trying to say is that Blago is intentionally bringing the county courthouse style legal team to the federal courts. There may be some friction due to the style differences.
posted by readery at 9:55 AM on June 2, 2010


I bumped into him at the liquor store this weekend and we had a short conversation about Donald Trump ("smart man, big heart") -- it was the highlight of my holiday weekend, which I think says more about my weekend than him.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


valkyryn: oh man, that's like the home-state edition of The Smoking Gun. Kaushik Patel (#15) scares the crap out of me.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:09 AM on June 2, 2010


readery: I guess what I'm trying to say is that Blago is intentionally bringing the county courthouse style legal team to the federal courts. There may be some friction due to the style differences.

Why am I suddenly reminded of that chicken-lawyer from Futurama?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:11 AM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I only read posts about Lady Gaga.
COINCIDENCE!?!?!11!?

Do badass desserts and street muggings go hand-in-hand in Chicago or something?
You don’t want to take an ass kicking with a churro. God help you if it’s filled with melted cheese.

Also, wasn't there some speculation that Blago was hinting that if he went to trial he would start to name names of the people involved in his deals which being Chicago politics,
He used to run numbers for the Chicago outfit. They're real forgiving guys. He should be pretty safe in prison. Openly talking about naming names shouldn't make anyone nervous at all.

Blagojevich challenging Fitzgerald "Are you man enough to meet me in court?"

You know, if his hair was blonde and he used enough gel he might look like Guile from Streetfighter II.

Man he's such a dolt. I really don't know how he got anywhere in life. He's, what, boxed some guys a little bit. I give him some respec for going to Serbia (he was offered a cow). But Fitzgerald is an old school hard ass. You had terrorists like Ramzi Yousef and Abdel-Rahman saying he was evil and looking to kill him. He put serious dents in the Gambino crime family. Not exactly folks without influence.
He's going to be afraid of a doughy governor?
'Man enough' to meet him in court, jesus what a schmuck.

Obviously, this is mere rumor and not to be believed. But it shows what people here think of him.
Oh, he enjoyed the cocaine. He'd routinely ditch the troopers protecting him to get lit up. It wasn't a Kennedy type situation.

I don't gives a fuck about a politician's hair, his performance on reality television, his sleazy deals or his psychopathology -- if he's proposing universal healthcare funded by business tax increases and his opponent isn't, I'm gonna vote for him.

With Blago it was more "I propose universal healthcare! if you kiss my ass in perpetuity, I can sleep with your wife, I own your mortgage, title to your car, and your first born, and 25% of what you spend on health care comes to me off the top forever.

Part of the reason the Greens did so well in Illinois. Not that this itself is a bad thing.
Put it this way - it took a long, long time to open a Fisher House in Illinois. First one in the state. It's a charitable place where the families of wounded vets can stay so they don't have to stay in a hotel or their car while visiting someone going through rehab. Pretty straightforward charity.
Place opened over the memorial day weekend. (The now governor) Quinn was there. Duckworth was there. Army brass. Obama showed up Monday. Hell, even I showed up and I don't like to move off the lawn on Memorial day. It wasn't a thing one would call unnoticeable.

So people talked, patted each other's backs, all that. Usual stuff. Some of it was moving. Obviously a Lt.General knows how to make a public speech. As does Duckworth and Dick Durbin. Quinn - man, I keep wanting to like the guy, because his heart is in the right place but.. well anyway. Lots of people spoke to the crowd and in private. And one of the things they spoke about was how hard it was to open the place and how hard it was to raise funds and they praised and congratulated the hard work of all the people on the ground and talked about the dedication of just about every government official in Illinois.
Know who wasn't mentioned? Yeah, Rod Blagojevich.
He talked a pretty big game. Opened a toll road honoring veterans. But when it came to actually doing something - different story.
(So it makes you wonder - why the hell it took so long to open the place? What was the hold up? Who was actually opposing this that politicians had to work to make it happen? But that's all speculation. I have no idea.)

And that's just an offhand example. Blago had no ideology or ideals beyond "what can you do for me, if I do this for you?"
That actually impedes anyone trying to do anything useful no matter what philosophy its in accordance with. At least if someone is a communist or a fascist, given they're not corrupt, eventually the road is going to get built, it's just a matter of how.

With a kleptocrat, nothing is going to get done. There's no philosophy beyond taking what they can get. The public office is just a smokescreen to do that.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:03 PM on June 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


For those wondering why the link on the FPP no longer points to Blago, the site seems to update with new mugshots in something approaching real time.
posted by valkyryn at 5:51 PM on June 2, 2010


I think the implication is that if you can buy Mexican carnival food out front of the criminal court house, it's not exactly Law & Order inside.

Do they sell hot dogs in front of the court house in Chicago?
posted by sideshow at 10:06 PM on June 2, 2010


At least if someone is a communist or a fascist, given they're not corrupt, eventually the road is going to get built, it's just a matter of how.

Say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism...
posted by valkyryn at 5:24 AM on June 5, 2010


Report from the Blagoshere -List of who's who in the case.

Pretty impressive cast of characters. I had not realized theat Dan Webb, former US Attorney is tangentially related to the defense team.
posted by readery at 6:51 AM on June 5, 2010


This is a rough and tumble place, a kind of place where you buy churros out in front.
What the fuck does that even mean?
It means CAUTION: BROWN PEOPLE
posted by jtron at 12:46 PM on June 5, 2010


Or that 26th and Cal is a carnival and in the Dirksen Federal Building decorum must be maintained. I am very sensitive to the fact that sounded racist, when I am just picturing the front of both buildings, 26th and Cal is very 'come as you are' and at Dirksen, anyone not dressed for court would stand out. This is Chicago, there are brown people at both places.

Sam Adam Jr. talks about sitting on Judge Pincham's lap as a child during a trial. They are used to theatrics and everybody knows everybody, down home atmosphere; the prosecuters and defense attorneys are for the most part collegial in the county courthouses.

It will be interesting to see how they intend to defend Blagojevich as it looks like he is going for a defense as showy as his own spotlight seeking self and how quickly that will get shot down by Judge Zagel. Is he setting himself up for an appeal, knowing he will be found guilty?
posted by readery at 2:53 PM on June 5, 2010


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