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December 11, 2008

The Media's "Almost Willful" Fantasy That Obama Is Untouched By Chicago Corruption

Almost willful?

John Fund:

What remains to be seen is whether this episode will put an end to what Chicago Tribune political columnist John Kass calls the national media's "almost willful" fantasy that Mr. Obama and Chicago's political culture have little to do with each other. Mr. Kass notes that the media devoted a lot more time and energy to investigating the inner workings of Sarah Palin's Wasilla, Alaska, than it has looking at Mr. Obama's Chicago connections.

To date, Mr. Obama's approach to Illinois corruption has been to congratulate himself for dodging association with it. "I think I have done a good job in rising politically in this environment without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics," he told the Chicago Tribune last spring. At the time, Mr. Obama was being grilled over news that he bought his house through a land deal involving Tony Rezko, a political fixer who was later convicted on 16 corruption counts. Rezko is mentioned dozens of times in the 76-page criminal complaint against Mr. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama has an ambiguous reputation among those trying to clean up Illinois politics. "We have a sick political culture, and that's the environment Barack Obama came from," Jay Stewart, executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, told ABC News months ago. Though Mr. Obama did support ethics reforms as a state senator, Mr. Stewart noted that he's "been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state including, at this point, mostly Democratic politicians."

...

In 2002, Mr. Obama turned up to help Mr. Blagojevich, a staunch ally of Mr. Jones, win the governor's mansion. Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, told The New Yorker earlier this year that six years ago he and Mr. Obama "participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two [other participants]."

Mr. Blagojevich won, but before long, problems surfaced. In 2004, Zalwaynaka Scott, the governor's inspector general, said his administration's efforts to evade merit-selection laws exposed "not merely an ignorance of the law, but complete and utter contempt for the law." Nonetheless, Mr. Obama endorsed Mr. Blagojevich's re-election in 2006.

This spring, many Democrats were so disgusted with Mr. Blagojevich that state House Speaker Michael Madigan drafted a memo on why Democrats should impeach Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Madigan's "talking points" compared the corruption going on in the state to a tumor that must be removed.

...

Many people were curious who Mr. Obama would side with in the dispute. Would it be with those Democrats who wanted to move aggressively against an apparently corrupt governor or with his old Chicago ally, Mr. Jones, who preferred to wait? Mr. Obama did neither. He kept silent. (I emailed the Obama campaign about Mr. Blagojevich's problems in June, but my question was ignored.)

As Fund notes, Obama did rouse himself to speak out forcefully against government corruption... in Kenya.

Bear in mind, of course, Sarah Palin was a moron for taking on the less-spectacularly corrupt Alaskan political machine. See, if she had been as brilliant as Obama, she wouldn't have needed to respond with crude measures like fighting corruption and defeating corrupt politicians; she could have employed nuance and smarts to finesse around it, and even profit from it.

Whew. We really dodged a bullet there.

Rezko Singing About Blago; Feds Looking Into Rezko-Obama Land Deal: More good stuff.

In case you don't know the details by now: Obama wanted to buy a property a fair bit out of his league. The owner insisted that that property and the adjoining lot be sold on the same day. Obama could barely afford the one, let alone the lot.

So Rezko came in to buy the empty lot, which he sweetly never did anything with, giving Obama effectively the entire two-lot parcel for his own use. But even better -- Rezko "grossly overpaid" for his empty lot, leading to suspicions the owner charged Obama less for his property only because Rezko was willing to overpay for his by about $300,000. Allowing Obama to underpay by about the same $300,000.

The real estate specialist, Kenneth J. Conner, said bank officials replaced an appraisal review he prepared on the property and FBI agents were investigating in late 2007 whether the Rezko-Obama deal was proper.

“Agents and I talked about payoff, bribe, kickback for a long time, though it took them only a short number of minutes of talking with me while looking at the appraisal to acknowledge what they already seemed to know: The Rezko lot was grossly overvalued,” Mr. Conner told The Washington Times Monday.

“Rezko paid the asking price on the same day Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price to the same seller for his adjacent mansion,” he said. “This begs the question of payoff, bribe, kickback.”

The bank officer, I believe, was fired.

And as if it couldn't get any worse, Obama got a sweetheart mortgage deal. He won't say from whom, but it's widely believed he got the mortgage from the mob-connected Broadway Bank, controlled by political patrons of both Rezko and Obama.


Blagojevich's Corruption, as Told in Negative Ads: He's been busy.

I enjoyed this one most of all. I think you'll like it, too.



Heh: Blagojevich questions are "inappropriate," but questions about Burt Reynolds' Playgirl spread pass muster. Sounds about right.

Thanks to Aice H.


digg this
posted by Ace at 01:52 PM

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