Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 25, 2007
By: T.A. Frank

JOURNALISTS ARE STILL MISSING THE DOJ STORY....Here's one more example of how the press still hasn't woken up to the significance of the politicization of the Department of Justice. We've read plenty about the federal indictment of Chicago millionaire Antoin Rezko, a generous donor to Democrats in the state, and we've read even more about how this hurts Illinois Democrats, including Barack Obama. But despite all the evidence that the Department of Justice has become little more than a political instrument of the White House, we've heard almost no questions about whether Rezko's indictment is legitimate or simply puffed up. Consider the evidence for the latter:

  • Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was running a tight campaign for reelection in 2006. Small things could tip the balance against him.

  • The indictment of Rezko occurred less than a month before the 2006 election and dominated coverage for the next few weeks. As one Chicago Sun-Times columnist wrote, "Is the fact the feds indicted Rezko, who is this close to Blagojevich, a month before the election sending shockwaves through Blago's campaign? You bet."

  • Asked about the timing of the indictment, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (yes, the same one who prosecuted Scooter Libby) had this response: "We're not going to stop momentum or take a siesta for political reasons." This, of course, is entirely contrary to DOJ policy, which states that election time is precisely when you're supposed to take a siesta. **[SEE ADDENDUM]

  • Rezko's indictment has tarnished Obama, Blagojevich, and Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez — a bonanza all around for the GOP.

  • Fitzgerald was briefly included on a prospective purge list of U.S. attorneys and was undoubtedly under pressure to make up for having gone after Libby. This is similar to the case of Wisconsin prosecutor Steven Biskupic, also briefly on the list, who wound up redeeming himself with a bogus prosecution meant to hurt Democrats in the state.

Does this mean that Rezko has simply been victimized for his political views? Not necessarily. It's possible that the rap against Rezko is legitimate, even if the timing is against the rules of the DOJ. But no fair-minded journalist should be failing to ask the sorts of questions raised above.

In this case, there are two reasons why journalists have dropped the ball. The first is that Fitzgerald enjoys a reputation for fairness and incorruptibility. But part of what the attorney scandal has shown is that even decent attorneys can be pressured into pursuing the wrong cases. (Again, I'm not saying Rezko's innocent — I don't have any idea either way.) The second and more important reason is that, until recently, faith in the basic integrity of our justice system has run so deep that it's been hard for most journalists to shake it. But shake it they should. Given what we've learned over the past several months, it's no longer conspiratorial to wonder whether political scheming could have contaminated the DOJ. It's an established fact. Today, therefore, whenever the DOJ announces an indictment, any responsible reporter must ask an additional question: Which political party gains or loses? Sadly, it's the way we live now.

**ADDENDUM/CORRECTION: Several commenters on this post have stated that the timing of the indictment of Rezko is not contrary to DOJ rules. Since they sound more expert than me (not so hard to pull off), I'll assume that I stand corrected on this point.

T.A. Frank 7:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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There must be some reporters and commentators who are asking these questions about DOJ, that aren't just bloggers. For posters to put in info and links about as many as possible would help readers to check them out and perhaps give them a little bump in popularity and circulation.

PS, I am really disappointed in Fitz, but he also has a reputation for plugging along. I'd like to think he didn't chicken out, but his behavior during the Plame case was indeed a bit weird and selective, as many have noted ...

Posted by: Neil B. on June 25, 2007 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

The press fell asleep a long time ago. Giving just one example, what does it say about the press when you have a Senator(Fred Thompson) banging a member of the press(Margaret Carlson)? Hell, I send Richard Cohen and "Dean" Broder links all the time about stuff from the blogosphere. The MSM hates us, because we hold them accountable and are dooming them to irrelevance.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on June 25, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Fitz did at least get a solid conviction. If he'd had more to go on, there is absolutely no reason to suspect he wouldn't have indicted more.

Posted by: MaxGowan on June 25, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm . . . so the guy who has raised the ire of the entire Republican world by tossing one of their guys in jail, who basically came out and said the Veep is a criminal, you mean to say he caved in to Karl Rove in order to "send shockwaves through Blago's campaign"? Oh, I'm as paranoid about the Republicans as the next anonymous commenter, but come on!

Kevin, this is what happens when you step away from your blog for a moment.

Posted by: santamonicamr on June 25, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yikes. Didn't even remember that one. Fitz seems like a stand up guy, but then again he's a Rupublican, so there must be something deeply flawed about him, just like his buddy Comey. You really can't trust them. Any of them. If he was indeed acting ethically, he can blame his Republican masters for tainting all his hard work, and the work of his colleagues.

I wonder how Dumbass Dick Daly feels now that his buddy GWB has started attacking Dems in Illinois? Is Blagovich a friend or foe of Daly?

Posted by: jussumbody on June 25, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

Let's also remember what effect this indictment had (other than "shock waves" part): that is, not much.

From February through September, Blagovich led his Republican opponent in the polls by an average of 44 to 37. The indictment came down on Oct. 11. From that point through Oct. 23, the polls showed on average Blagovich ahead 43-32. He eventually beat Topinka, the Republican, 50-39, the same 11 point margin that the polls showed him with after the indictment. (This is all in Wikipedia.)

Trust me, as bad as Karl Rove is, Illinois simply wasn't on his radar screen at this time.

Now can we lay off Fitzgerald and get back to our regularly scheduled programming?

Posted by: santamonicamr on June 25, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder what dirt Karl's man is digging up on Hillary in Arkansas?

Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 25, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

The judiciary has been corrupt for at least a decade at the local court level throughout much of the South and East.

Posted by: Name on June 25, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

I think you may be mistaken on the question of whether the Rezko indictment should have been brought that close to an election. I'd be curious to know what DOJ guidelines you believe that Fitzgerald has allegedly broken.

If you are refering to the "Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses," the document clearly states:

"The policy discussed above does not apply to covert investigative techniques, nor does it apply to investigations or prosecutions of federal crimes other than those that focus on the manner in which votes were cast or counted. However, if there is any doubt about whether the policy may apply, we recommend that the Public Integrity Section be consulted."

Posted by: wasg on June 25, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Rezko was an equal opportunity giver. His scandal also tocuhes Tom Cross the IL Repub House leader and he gave Bush $5000 too.

Fitzy has convicted a couple Daley aides for skirting the Shackman decrees which was supposed to clean up political hiring in Chicago.

Posted by: markg8 on June 25, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder what dirt Karl's man is digging up on Hillary in Arkansas?
Posted by: TruthPolitik on June 25, 2007 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Given the ready access of all financial data, telephone, and internet traffic (via illegal wiretapping, "terrorist" surveillance prog., etc.) and also, given that they can basically say anything they want on FauxNews or CNN without anything at all to back it up - one wonders why they had to bother with this DoJ/USA's stuff at all?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 25, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

what means it "fair minded journalist". I'm not a stranger here, but I believe they are just a myth, or a species that long ago became extinct.

Why is Dick Cheney still in the White House after seceeding from the executive branch and trying to overthrow OUR government.

Posted by: foolme1ns on June 25, 2007 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Riddle me this:

The argument which is currently gaining theme in the liberal blogosphere is that the MSM is filled with power-groupies who lavish respect and affection on the ruling party. However, if that is the case, then it shouldn't matter what the ruling party is. However, as numerous commentators have pointed out the MSM now has a decidedly pro-Republican tilt.

Any structural reasons for the MSM to prefer the GOP?

James M.

Posted by: James M on June 25, 2007 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Any structural reasons for the MSM to prefer the GOP?

Corporate ownership of media and asdvertising revenue. Just off the top of my head.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 25, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Any structural reasons for the MSM to prefer the GOP?

James M.

Oh, I don't know, except maybe they are owned by major defense contractors, noted wingnuts, etc.

Posted by: jussumbody on June 25, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Folks, this is Illinois we're talking about here. Blago is just as corrupt as any other politician in state government there (VERY). There is a low probability that this Rezko thing is DOJ politicking. Fitzgerald brought down the IL Republican party with all of his work. This is not a political move against the Dems. Blagojevich is corrupt as hell and Rezko is just one of the many steps in Fitzgerald's march to bring down Blago too.

Posted by: Matt (IL native) on June 25, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

My Illinois progressive-Dem relatives think that Blagojevich is a corrupt embarassment to the party, and wish they could vote for someone else. Maybe Fitz got it right.

Posted by: joel hanes on June 25, 2007 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Others have already pointed out the facts on the ground, so to speak, that prove the point that the Rezko indictment had minimal impace on the governor's race in IL. The majority of Illinois voters already felt that Blago was corrupt BEFORE the indictment, but they felt that Judy Topinka wouldn't have been an improvement 'cause she had been tight with George Ryan, the Republican former governor Fitz had convicted.

Also, the IL AG had a criminal investigation going into the Blago administration that she eventually turned over to the feds (she's a rising star Democrat).

There may seem to be a lot of smoke here, but really in this case I don't see much fire.

Posted by: IL Dem on June 25, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, you are welcome to provide evidence of your assertion. Otherwise, you are just as welcome to shut the fuck up and leave commenting to those with at least room temperature intelligence.

Posted by: heavy on June 25, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Frank, Michael Sneed is gossip/personality columnist at the Sun Times. I wouldn't use her as a peg to hang your argument on.

Posted by: jamie on June 25, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

My Illinois progressive-Dem relatives think that Blagojevich is a corrupt embarassment to the party, and wish they could vote for someone else.

He is. They could have. I voted Green for governor in 2006. I did so because Blago had a comfortable lead over Topinka and I didn't wish to give this corrupt ass my vote. Had the race been close, I'd have sucked it up and voted for Blago to prevent the governor's seat from going to a Republican.

This lesson in pragmatism--hell, in reality--is provided free of charge to the people who voted for Ralph Nader.

Oh, and wasg is right. The difference between Fitz indicting Rezco a month before the election and Schlozman pushing the ACORN indictments just before the election is that the latter had to do with the manner in which votes are cast or counted.

Even though it alone took place just before the 2006 election, it's also rather silly to pull out the Rezco case without also talking about Fitz's numerous indictments of Daley's inner circle, all of whom are Democrats. As Frank says, there's nothing wrong with asking the question--but we should be asking the whole question, which means always looking for patterns as well as individual cases.

Posted by: shortstop on June 25, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

I have said for a long time that dems should have made noise about rhe fact that Fitzgerald was a Republican investigating Plame and perhaps there would have been moore indictments if a non-biased prosecutor ran the show. Does anyone really think Scooter Libby is the only one who should have been indicted? Clinton gets the partisan hack Starr investigating him and Bushco get one of their own. I wonder why things tuened out so differently when with Clinton there was no there there, and with the Plame investigation so much more that could have and should have resulted in indictments. And I never heard any dem say wonder how Fitzgerald didn't get more return on his investigation. Perhaps now we will get it.

Posted by: DH in DC on June 25, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno. I'm as big a skeptic as is humanly possible when it comes to all things GOP or Bush, but you gotta understand that Illinois is filled, from top to bottom, with corruption. Here, indictments are more like speed humps than car accidents - both parties experience them regularly and are rarely forced to pull over and stop what they're doing because of them.

Posted by: EM on June 25, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno. I'm as big a skeptic as is humanly possible when it comes to all things GOP or Bush, but you gotta understand that Illinois is filled, from top to bottom, with corruption. Here, indictments are more like speed humps than car accidents - both parties experience them regularly and are rarely forced to pull over and stop what they're doing because of them.

Posted by: EM on June 25, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Just another Illinois liberal chiming in to say this is pretty lame. Fitzgerald has an untainted record, any wrongdoing is purely speculative at best, there was no harm done, and quite simply it wasn't against guidelines.

Sometimes when journalists ignore a subject it's because there's really no story there. This is one of those times. It's not being covered because there's nothing to cover.

Posted by: Jon in Chicago on June 25, 2007 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid this post was written by someone with a very incomplete understanding of Illinois politics. Even a cursory review of the circumstances behind the appointment of Fitzgerald (an Illinois outsider) would undermine the premise here. Fitz got the job only because Senator PETE Fitzgerald wanted someone good, and independent of Illinois political connections, and Pete didn't care whom he P.O.ed (including then Speaker of the House Denny Hastert). The irony is, if PETER Fitzgerald hadn't insisted on straight-shooter PATRICK Fitzgerald, Illinois probably would have gotten a politcal hack for U.S. Attorney who WOULD have done Rove's bidding!

Tony Rezko appears linked to a massive, equal-opportunity pay-for-play scandal involving state boards that regulate hospital construction and pensions. Patronage and corruption opportunities in Illinois are carved up (like gang territories) between the mostly Chicago-based Democrats and the mostly suburban-based Republicans. For example, the Republicans control the suburban tollway authority.

The scandals in Illinois tend to be massive because there are no campaign finance restrictions, and state employees are allowed to participate in the political process. Combine this with regulatory control and/or patronage jobs and you have a perfect recipe for corruption.

Blagojevich is particularly galling to many Illinoisans because he ran his first election as a "reformer" to clean up the stink left by his predescessor, now-convicted Republican George Ryan. Instead, he appears to have carried on Illinois business as usual, surprise!

Something like half of the Illinois governors of the last 50 years have been convicted of corruption. Fitz might have had pressure to bring the pre-election indictments, but given Illinois history, he has an IRON-CLAD alibi!

Posted by: rdb on June 26, 2007 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

While I think you have a valid point about the question needing to be asked because of the prosecutor scandal and what it has been showing, I do think there is nothing there in this particular example that you chose Kevin Drum. Fitzgerald has a record as a prosecutor’s prosecutor and not being driven first by partisan loyalties except in terms of seeing the law is followed without fear or favour. That is something increasingly rare in American circles thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Cheney-GWB Administration. That the media is showing slackness on the implications of the prosecutor scandal in this and other cases so far is a fair observation, and I think that should not get lost in the general outcry that in this particular example Kevin Drum chose we have seen so far.

I have said it before and I will say it again, what has been revealed in the prosecutor scandal, indeed in all things since the GOP lost the Congress is still the very tip of a very large and ugly iceberg that the Republic of America and its Constitution have foundered upon after ramming into it. The question is now can the damage assessments be done and repairs/corrections taken quickly enough before the already major damage becomes irreparable. This is the real question facing this generation of Americans thanks to the Cheney Bush Administration and a complicit GOP Congress for the first six years and the shameless taking advantage of one of the worst attacks on America by a foreign entity in its history. This is what needs to be faced up to as ugly and hard to face and believe as it may be. Until America does so I guarantee this: That the reputation in the rest of the "free world" that Americans love claiming to be the leaders of that has been so massively damaged within the populations of (not just governments, if that were all it would be a far easier fix) will never be given benefit of the doubt and trust. This self examination must be as ruthless as what happened with Germany after Hitler, South Africa after the fall of Apartheid, otherwise given all the horrors America has done to the very basic principles of the rule of law and the codes of civilized human conduct in the name of fighting the so called war on terror how can she be trusted without visibly ousting those forces that enabled this transformation in the first place? It is not just those at the top that are the problem, it is all those at the middle and upper levels that have been replaced with loyalists via firings and resignations of those unwilling to be complicit in such betrayals of the basic American way of life.

Americans cannot afford to forget this, because so much of what gave them their real power internationally was the faith and trust the rest of the major free nations placed in America to "do the right thing" when it counted. That has been shattered now, and will take a great deal of hard work to repair. I know for example that I will never travel to American territory ever again until I see sufficient signs of this sort of rooting out of these traitors to all the fundamental concepts we have always shared as neighbours with the world's longest undefended border (until recently anyway). I know this is true for many of my countryfolk and those in other countries are even more dead set against it given what they have seen happen to those of their nationals the American authorities took a dislike to. For me it was the betrayal of the most fundamental concepts about the rule of law and in the ways the American Constitution was so violated by this GOP part through both Executive and Legislative branches. The Constitution of any democratic society is a cornerstone in defining that country and how it operates, and those that would rewrite it arbitrarily to grab powers without following the proper forms for amending such documents are those that should never be trusted with power. Those are the ones that seek power first and have any loyalty to the underlying civic nation and rule of law second. For any democracy that is something to be feared and avoided, and that is why I will not trust my life to American hands by crossing into American territory until I see this work exposed and undone. I have been very opinionated about American governance these past six years on both Canadian and American political blogs. Until recently I would never have feared that this could cause me trouble if I traveled to America, these days though given all that we have seen to date I would be a fool to continue to have that faith in the respect of the principles that the Constitution defined America as. That for me is the harshest damnation/criticism I can think of regarding the America I most respected even when periodically disagreeing with, and it both saddens me and frightens me, and I wonder whether the old America can ever really come back from this extensive a selling out of her basic principles and beliefs.

Kevin Drum is exactly right when he says the prosecutor scandals and the implications that stem from it have not been given at all the proper scrutiny by the US MSM that it deserves/requires. That he chose a bad example to make the point does not invalidate it, and I pray that does not get lost in the reasonable criticism of the example Drum used to make this point. I am sorry to have had to write such harsh criticisms of America these days, and even more so to have to say that I will not return to America for any reason until I am confident sufficient repair work to the rule of law has been done from this incredibly damaging Bush/GOP betrayal of all America once held so dearly. This is not something I take any pleasure in, as I have been in America dozens of times in my life and rarely had any reasons not to enjoy them. Now I don't trust the current government enough to come in, and I worry whenever my family crosses into America (and yes I know that is not a reasonable fear really, but that is my point, it is unreasonable...but, thanks to the undermining of the underlying system of justice itself by Bushco and the GOP there it is). I never thought I would see the day come when I truly felt this way, and it breaks my heart. I really hope that the majority of Americans finally recognize this and DEMAND actions be taken to clean up this incredible disaster/fiasco/abomination created by these traitors to the real American nation, the one of the Constitution and acceptance that with freedoms comes a certain amount of inevitable insecurity, but that freedom was worth that cost. Whatever happened to that America?

Posted by: Scotian on June 26, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

please tread carefully here.

the questions you ask are worth answering, but any insinuations that fitz's blago/rezko inquires are related to bushco.s EXTRAORDINARY politicization of the doj are at least premature.

sure: investigate, examin rove's role in the siegleman prosecution in alabama: public statements implicate the goper conspiracy.

but illinois politics is sui generis, and blago is a bizarre paradox. he comprehends both progressive public policy and power politics: by the fall of 2005, he had 14 million dollars in his war chest and he was despised by every entrenched democrat, machine or progressive, in the state. he didn't get all that money from people who were enthralled by progressive public policy either.

so when you are very ready to assume blago/rezko is the victim of fitz's desire to (at very least) get back some goper cred, you are incidently giving cred to the line that corruption prosecutions "criminalize politics" as advanced by tom delay and every other pol sent to club fed.

Posted by: sal the barber on June 26, 2007 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

> Ummm . . . so the guy who has raised the
> ire of the entire Republican world by
> tossing one of their guys in jail,

The other possibility is that Fitzgerald was appointed to clean up after the parade, that indicting Libby was the minimum he could possibly get away with, that he knows (and knew) quite well that the designated fall guy will be pardoned, and that in particular he deliberately held off on announcing Libby's indictement until after November 2004 to influence the election.

Not a theory that you are allowed to discuss over at Firedoglake, but one which needs to be seriously considered. Keep in mind that Fitzgerald is one of the most enthusiastic users of the unPatriot Act.


Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 26, 2007 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Frank, whatever the merits of your thesis overall, as pointed out by wasg and others above your statement of DOJ policy is simply a misrepresentation and you need to correct it. Blogs are supposed to be self-correcting, no? I assure you Kevin would have done so by now.

Posted by: Glenn on June 26, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian -
damn! well put.
I suspect, in many respects, that "that America" is largely a myth. That's not to say we can't make it a reality or nearly so, nor that we haven't seen glimpses of it that we have striven to reach, just that to do so we will have to face up to some unpleasant and inconvenient truths(small "t") about our past and present.

I think that a Constitutional Amendment, worded as follows, would make for a good first step and greatly abet efforts to bring about the idealized "America".
Amendment XXVIII:
Corporations are not persons, or citizens.

Fairly succinct, as such things ought to be.

Posted by: kenga on June 26, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

T. A. Frank,

I just looked at your link that supposedly supports the asserted DOJ policy. I think you should do a little deeper investigation into what the actual policy says about this particular type of investigation, rather than rely on a WAPO assertion. I find it very difficult to believe that the guidelines would prohibit the indictment of Rezko in this case.

Perhaps others reading here know what the actual policy says?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 26, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

As usual, it would make sense to scan the comments before making one yourself.

wasg has highlighted the relevant section of the policy. I would suggest a retraction of this entire blog entry.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 26, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Other posters have covered the Illinois business pretty thoroughly. I'd only add that the imputation of impropriety here against Wisconsin US Attorney Biskupic is unfair as well.

Wisconsin, though it has a longstanding reputation for clean politics, also has an unhappy recent history that includes state legislative leaders of both parties being convicted of campaigning on state time and using state employees to do the same. The Georgia Thompson case that Frank refers to here was a little different, in that Thompson herself was not alleged to have benefitted from steering state contracts to a company that made large donations to the campaign of incumbent governor Jim Doyle.

It was that fact that led a judicial panel to throw out Thompson's conviction, and as a matter of judgment bringing this case was probably a mistake. It is worth noting that Biskupic made this mistake after consulting with the Democratic Attorney General of Wisconsin. Also worth noting is that Biskupic appears to have been unresponsive to pressure emanating from the White House to launch a prosecutorial campaign against nonexistent voter fraud in Milwaukee, the Democratic stronghold in state politics.

With respect to this White House and its servants in the upper levels of main Justice in Washington it makes sense to assume the worst until the worst can be definitively ruled out. The record to date leaves one little choice. It is neither wise nor expedient to make that assumption about everyone working for the Justice Department, especially people like Fitzgerald and Biskupic with records that go back several years.

Posted by: Zathras on June 26, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

This post is really unworthy of the Washington Monthly. It provides no evidence whatsoever regarding the validity of the indictment (the author even states he "[doesn't] have any idea either way". And you complain about media laziness!) All it does is cast aspersions based upon the possible motivations of the DOJ officials involved. Before the media 'ask these sorts of questions', they should have at least a sliver of REAL evidence that the indictment is not valid (ie, that Rezko did nothing wrong). Without that, you've got nothing but unfounded doubts, and honestly one could raise such doubts about practically any government action in history. Sure, people in the DOJ have political motivations to do bad things. But motivations alone are not proof of wrongdoing.

Posted by: Shag on June 26, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed with everyone upthread who is taking the OP to task for taking Fitz to task. I only wish to add:

1. Rezko is probably guilty as the day is long, but like any wealthy guy, has spread his money around to lotsa pols. Unless the pols can be tied to Rezko's illegal activity, there is no there there.

2. Lay the F off Fitz. He is cleaning up my state, both GOP and Dem corruption, one indictment at a time. I don't appreciate out-of-staters besmirching him for their own political gain.

3. Blago is of course corrupt, but in my rough my estimation only about 30-40% corrupt, in comparison to George Ryan who I peg at 80% and Daley who I peg at 95%, so not only is he a huge improvement, I'm unwilling to dispense with him until a viable candidate with 25% or less corruption comes along. This is IL, so we may have a long wait.

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

One more thing:

4. The only complaint that I have of Fitz so far is that he hasn't yet gone after the Cook County Dems, but he is so busy these days at the local, state, and fed level, that I don't begrudge him that.

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

One conviction I've been wondering about is James Traficant's. Remember, he was a congressman from Ohio who was convicted of racketeering and taking bribes in 2002 and is serving a prison term. He represented himself, insisting that the trial was a vendetta. He was expelled from the House.

This guy still says he's innocent. Looking back, this may have been something we thought was realistic, but we didn't know at the time how these clowns operate.

Posted by: pol on June 26, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

What Disputo said. All of it. Yeah.

Posted by: shortstop on June 26, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo's argument basically boils down to "trust Fitzgerald". Unfortunately trust has been driven out of the Justice Department by Rove and Bush so that is exactly what a concerned citizen _cannot_ do.


Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 26, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

No. My argument boils down to "look at his record and interpolate".

Btw, I'm not saying that the question shouldn't be asked by some reporter. I think every question should be asked, every lead should be pursued. I'm just telling you that there is nothing there.

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

> No. My argument boils down to "look at his
> record and interpolate".

I see heavy use of the Patriot Act and prosecution of lawyers for talking to their clients. Also use of very, very marginal charges against a girlfriend to force a confession from a target.

Personally I am around 80% "legit", 20% "Republican clean-up man" for Fitzgerald's part on the Libby treason betting line. But to say there is no possibility is wrong IMHO.


Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 26, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Personally I am around 80% "legit", 20% "Republican clean-up man" for Fitzgerald's part on the Libby treason betting line. But to say there is no possibility is wrong IMHO.

Cranky" Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 26, 2007 at 2:55 PM

I have to agree with Cranky here on this, and I am someone that has had all along a high degree of confidence in Fitzgerald as an honest prosecutor based on his record overall. However, the whole point about the extreme partisanization of the prosecutor's office is that one can no longer assume that politics played no role let alone no significant role in why some were prosecuted and others were not. It is unreasonable to say under the current environment that exists at DOJ that any USA at this time can be given such a blanket assumption of unimpeachable ethics, which is one of the main reasons this scandal is so serious and so disturbing. It has taken one of the few elements of American governance that was seen to be first in the service of the Law and the Constitution and seen it turned into first the arm of a political party, the GOP. The damage that does to the basic faith in a judicial system that treats all equally before the law and that neither fear not favour is shown to those investigated, indicted, and with sufficient evidence convicted cannot be overstated. That is why Cranky is exactly right to believe the way he does on this point IMHO.

Posted by: Scotian on June 26, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

To get the word "indictment" next to the word "democrat" as often as possible in as many news sources as possible. Same as Limbaugh's "hate liberals" campaign. It is a game called Creating a Common Enemy, building an inauthentic outrage to counter any authentic outrage the public might feel as their rights are stripped away.

And of course, after 7 years of some very indepth and valuable lessons by Republicans on how to use the law and legalism for point, set, and match; Democrats seemed to not have learned Point One about playing that game either.

And then, that Democrat leadership seems unable to recognize or counter the fact that the GOP has unshackled itself from things like truth, and fair play, and equality or balance or civility or conscience as well as a great deal many other such warm fuzzy attributes.

And that there will always be elected Democrat officials whose actions and attitudes are not of the highest caliber who will be thoughtfully dug up and exposed, their foibles published in as many news sources as possible.

The GOP is not going anywhere. It is not an outmoded party. It is busy, furiously pushing its agenda into the US future, positioning itself president by president, and taking aim at the fundamental principles of this country to willingly turn them for political and economic gain.

The Democratic party, proved too well by Ralph Nader, is the only thing between the GOP and their political goals and if we aren't too weak to counter them at this point, we are trembling on the brink of just that.

The rules have done changed and the GOP changed them. As a party, we have to face that and NOW. If Democrats don't start playing a harder game, it IS our fault, and we are going to pay, and our kids are really going to pay with every increment of our freedoms we watch go away. And they are taking them without conscience.

How many times is the GOP going to get to throw political sand in Democrat faces before we stand up and kick some necessary butt?

Posted by: Zit on June 26, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

2. Lay the F off Fitz. He is cleaning up my state, both GOP and Dem corruption, one indictment at a time. I don't appreciate out-of-staters besmirching him for their own political gain.Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 12:32 PM

Why is there only the one Fitz!!!
Is he so singular in nature?
One indictment at a time is just a splash in the septic tank Bush and Co has made of Washington, not but a tinkle in the national political cesspool in general.

Outlaw electronic voting before '08.

Posted by: Fitz Fan on June 26, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK



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