Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let's be natural: Blago's stunning move in appointing former Illinois AG Roland Burris to the US Senate


Chicago, Illinois--Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty, apparently a foregone conclusion to state legislators and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Illinois state legislators, the mainstream press, and the public whose opinion they've done their best to affect.

But never mind that: the media's saying he's guilty over and over again, so it must be true. Is he guilty? It sure looks like it.

My own opinion? He's no worse than the other Illinois politicians who are pointing-the-finger at him, it being Illinois. Today's move was brilliant on Blagojevich's part, and I have to hand it to him. By picking a prominent figure on the Illinois political scene in Roland Burris (who is African-American), he's injected not only defiance but race into what's rapidly becoming a constitutional crisis in the "land of Lincoln."

and his accusers. The press conference today was an And God knows, "Old Abe" is getting invoked so much that he might just materialize and weigh-in on the fact that most of his own cabinet were crooks and incompetents who couldn't agree on much, and that his generals drank a lot. So much for the sentimentalized version of Lincoln, the real man was more complicated. We can--at least--assume the same of Blagojevichunequivocal "fuck you" from the governor to the State legislature and the members of the impeachment board. If only our Congress were so vigilant.

The scene itself was quite dramatic when the governor spoke, but best of all was when congressman Bobby Rush spoke, daring Harry Reid and all the other white senators (Obama was the first Black U.S. Senator in ages) to vote against Burris in confirmation hearings, and not to "hang or lynch" him. This isn't so bombastic as it sounds: the last African-American senator before Obama was Carol Moseley-Braun...the second Black senator since Reconstruction, which speaks volumes about our political system and culture.

The congressman was speaking symbolically, but call it what you will (and I know you will).

Rush is a longtime face on the Illinois and Chicago political scene, as well as a former leader of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense who narrowly escaped death in the state-sanctioned assassination of Panther leader Fred Hampton on December 4th, 1969. Rush had planned to visit Hampton and Mark Clark's apartment that night, but was exhausted that night from his work for the party.

Bobby Rush is also the man who beat Barack Obama during the 1990s in a congressional election, so Obama and the Illinois Democratic Party allowed him and a team to engage in gerrymandering a new district into existence for the 2004 Senate elections.

But it appears that Reid and other white senators might not have to worry--Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has stated he won't certify Burris's appointment to the Senate. This could become a major legal battle in-itself. What's troubling are the media comments smearing Blagojevich from government informants, always a matter of concern to be weighed with the highest suspicion.

If Governor Blagojevich has a "bad record," you should look at the FBI's and the Justice Department's, the institutions that put-in-motion the assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark under President Richard M. Nixon almost forty years ago. This all hedges on the assumption of guilt, which is un-American and has nothing to do with due process and justice, but has a lot to do with politics and acrimony.

Perhaps he's guilty, but he deserves a fair trial, something that's virtually impossible after the media campaign being waged right now. So-called "progressive"sites (and the right's sites and blogs), the wire services, television coverage, word-of-mouth, and the newspapers, are doing the government's unwarranted work with every parroting and reprinting of the line that "he's guilty until proven innocent."

Remember that the same Congress that let George W. Bush and his administration get away with high crimes is saying they won't accept any appointment to the Senate by Blagojevich. This is the same Congress that has allowed him every pass imaginable for his unconstitutional behavior. Not-so-ironically--because they have a sense of humor--Illinois Republicans are saying that Blagojevich is "creating a constitutional crisis," which we've seen at least twice under the Bush II administration.

Whatever the truth, little of this is what it appears to be.