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It's the Chicago Way.

"Fuck you."

That is how Chicagoans do things. It ought to be on the city's seal. Chicago rioted in the '60s, but in Bridgeport, His Honor Richard J. Daley's neighborhood, there was such a huge police presence that you'd better not look at anyone funny. The Daleys got theirs, fuck you.

Watch the media footage of the 1968 Democratic Convention. When Senator Abe Ribicoff (D-CT) criticized the Chicago Police for using what he called "Gestapo tactics," a livid Mayor Daley jumped out of his seat and shouted, "Fuck you, you Jew son of a bitch! You lousy motherfucker! Go home!" You can't actually hear him over the roaring applause of the Convention, but you can very clearly read his lips.

And that was the mayor. Stuff in Chicago is named after him.

In the middle of winter, with six inches of snow on the ground and windchill of 10 below zero, a guy will pull his car out and stick a couple of folding chairs in the spot. That's his spot, in front of his house, and if you don't like it, fuck you.

Later on, another guy will do three laps around the neighborhood and figure out that there's not another parking spot for blocks. He'll toss the chairs onto the sidewalk and take that other guy's spot. Fuck him.

The first guy gets home, sees that his spot is taken, and has to park three quarters of a mile away, in front of a business that closed at five. (If you work 'til six, too bad.) That guy walks back to the parking space, digs out a garden hose that he won't need for four more months, and waters the second guy's car until it's covered in an inch-thick sheet of ice. Forget unsticking the locks, he'll be lucky if he can chisel it off the street. Fuck that guy.

(That actually happened, by the way.)

So it's no surprise when we find that former Governor George Ryan accepted bribes to allow unqualified truck drivers to get drivers licenses. And it's no surprise when we find out that lucrative trucking contracts are farmed out to friends of Mayor Daley (that would be Richard M. Daley, His Honor's son) in exchange for kickbacks. And it's no surprise when Betty Loren Maltese (Mayor of nearby Cicero and the widow of Frank "Baldy" Maltese, a bona fide mobster) and Ed Vrdolyak (Cicero Town Attorney and long-time area ne'er-do-well) conned the city they represented out of millions of dollars. They got theirs, fuck Cicero.

In the end, Mayor Betty went to jail, but Fast Eddie just had to pawn his golf courses and mansions and whatnot, and fork over the money. But if the people were pissed off, nobody was shocked. After all, Cicero was a mob hangout at least since Al Capone's day. This is just how it works.

So when you hear about Governor Rod Blagojevich extorting money out of a children's hospital, and trying to help the bankrupt Tribune Co. broker a deal to sell the Cubs in exchange for the Tribune firing the editorial staff that dogged him so much, and trying to leverage Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for any number of lucrative prizes--cash, a seat in Obama's Cabinet, an ambassadorship--hell, business as usual, man. He got his, fuck Illinois.

[EDIT: I apparently misunderstood that thing with the Tribune Co. The actual story is that the Tribune Co. is trying to sell Wrigley Field, and they were promised a bunch of state money to pretty it up before they sell it. Well, Blago threatened to withhold that money--and thereby endanger the sale of Wrigley Field--if the Tribune didn't fire it's editorial staff. So it's less of a bribe, and more like extortion. The Second City, ladies and gentlemen.]

There was some speculation that Blago would take the Senate seat himself, thereby dodging an impeachment that's years in the making while simultaneously giving himself a couple of years to reinvent himself, and then hey, he could run for President in 2016. (And why wouldn't he expect that to work? Americans have such short attention spans that SUV sales have already seen a bump.)

I am bitter--but still, not terribly shocked--to remember that Rod Blagojevich ran as a reformer. Blago comes along and promises to end "business as usual," and added bonus, he's not one of Ryan's people.

[Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches Governor Blagojevich.]

Side note, the second: quick, can you think of anyone else who recently ran as a reformer? Our darling president-elect was once one of Blago's advisers, and he was one one of his strongest supporters. Rahm Emanuel, our soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff, was one of his strategists.

In 2006, Blagojevich ran against Judy Baar Topinka, a candidate who seemed competent enough to be the governor, I guess, but her one talking point seemed to be "Blago is crooked, and he needs to go." And, well, of course he was, but so was she. She was connected to George Ryan's people, and she was gambling that none of us were paying attention.

See, we were still pissed about Governor Ryan's colossal fuck-up. It's wasn't just the bit about parlaying his post into cash--everybody here does that. Ryan was so criminally negligent that because of his apathy, an unqualified guy got on the road in a truck that wasn't roadworthy, and got into a fiery accident that killed a bunch of kids. So I voted for Blagojevich.

[EDIT: George Ryan recently condemned Rod Blagojevich for sullying the office of the Governor. You might be thinking, "Wait, isnt this guy in jail for corruption?" And yeah, he sure is, but he maintains that he did all of his crooked business while Secretary of State, but he was entirely on the up-and-up as Governor. Sure. Ask me if I buy that. More to the point, ask me if I think it makes the least bit of difference. Ask the Willis family, who lost six kids in a fiery crash, if it makes a difference.]

In related news, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has petitioned President Bush to pardon George Ryan, because after a year in prison, losing his pension, being away from his sick wife, being publicly shamed...hasn't he suffered enough? (The correct answer is "No, motherfucker, he hasn't. He got 6 1/2 years, which is way less than he should have. Let's pretend that the law means something, huh?" And after I voted for Durbin, too. Bastard.)

In their coverage of the Blago corruption case this morning, Newradio 780 floated the word "sociopathic." While I have a knee-jerk response to that word, by lunchtime I realized that they picked the word that suitably describes Chicago politics as I understand them. No fear of consequences, no concept of fairness or law or honor. I got mine, fuck you.

I can only imagine that with his friends on the way to the White House, he figured he could skate for a while, and even if he got convicted (which is pretty likely, considering Harvey Dent Patrick Fitzgerald has put away dozens of his friends over the past handful of years) he could count on his friend Barack to pardon him. He got his, and if anybody lost out because of it, fuck them.

Comments

mrbobafett
Dec. 11th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
Is it Chicago politics or politics? I mean this is par for pretty much all politicians the only difference is power level. Hell Illinois is still apparently only the 6th most corrupt state in the union. I'm not sure how they quantify that, but I but bet the point spread isn't very big.
laughingimp
Dec. 11th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
I'll say this: I wouldn't be surprised to find that Chicago politics are comparable to New York, New Orleans, Detroit, Miami, or any number of smaller towns in the South that operate on the Good Old Boy system.

On the other hand, given the option of business-as-usual politicians, the people of Minnesota elected a professional wrestler. So clearly, there are places where Chicago-style politics aren't tolerated, and places where someone can still be a contender without the muscle of a corrupt machine behind him.
moonchylde
Dec. 11th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
There's a small city here in Oregon that elected the first trans-gender mayor! When the idiots from Westboro church came to protest they had a bunch of supporters come out to counter protest. Many guys came in dresses. :) And our new Portland mayor is gay! :)


Which is not to say they aren't or can't be corrupt. But at least it is a different sorta politician.
budobudo
Dec. 12th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
I dunno, as long as someone is human they are probably the same sort of politician.