Just as the illegal war against Iraq is the tip of Bush’s iceberg
This Illinois governor is just the latest in a long line
We trim and blend two 2008 op-eds on political news. The writer was formerly a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and at the National Governors Association, and is the author of nonfiction books, including Prosperity Without Pollution, Sprawl Kills and Delusional Democracy.
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Indict George W. Bush
George W. Bush made 9/11 the trigger for initiating an illegal war in Iraq that has killed and maimed so many thousands of people. What Vincent Bugliosi, author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, called “the most serious crime ever committed in American history.” Please, President-elect Obama, have the courage to do what Congress refused to do when it did not impeach George W. Bush. Change history by showing the world that American justice applies as equally to the president as it does to anyone else. How poetic for a pro-torture ex-president.
Illinois Citizens Deserve Corrupt Government
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich follows in the footsteps of previous convicted Illinois governors and a huge number of other Illinois officials convicted of crimes. In the 2008 election, Illinois voters had the opportunity to reform state government. They voted not to use it.
According to the Illinois state constitution, voters must be given the opportunity every twenty years to vote for or against having a state constitutional convention that can be used to amend the constitution or rewrite it altogether. Many prominent people and groups supported the convention measure: the Chicago Tribune, the Springfield State Journal Register, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, state representatives Mike Boland and Jack Franks, former state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, political journalists Rich Miller and Scott Reeder, and several groups with websites.
John Bambenek, who wrote a book supporting the convention, said: “Because of his [Rod Blagojevich’s] low approval in both parties and the budget fiasco of last year, legislators (even those in his own party) are talking about amending the constitution to allow recall votes of sitting politicians.”
A key argument in favor of convention was that the cost of a no-frills convention (around $23 million) would surely be repaid by the savings to taxpayers by passing constitutional amendments that could get the state out of the lobbyist-run budget crisis it was in. Not to mention the possibility of an amendment that could make it easier to get rid of corrupt governors and other officials by, for example, recall by citizens.
Even before the charges against the current governor, three previous Illinois governors had been convicted of crimes.
Otto Kerner (D) governor 1961-1968 was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury, and related charges. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison and fined $50,000.
Daniel Walker (D) governor 1973-1977 was convicted of improprieties related to a savings and loan association. He reportedly received over a million dollars in fraudulent loans for his business and repairs on his yacht. He pleaded out to three felonies and was freed after 17 months in prison because he was supposedly frail and chronically ill, but is still living 20 years later and living near the ocean in Mexico.
George Ryan (R) governor 1999-2003 was convicted on 20 federal counts that included racketeering, bribery, and extortion.
From 1995 to 2004, 469 politicians from the federal district of Northern Illinois were found guilty of corruption.
Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D) was indicted in 1994 on 17 felony charges, including the embezzlement of $695,000 in taxpayer and campaign funds. The longtime powerful House ways and means committee chairman plea-bargained his way down to just two counts of mail fraud and served only 17 months in a minimum-security prison.
Yet in November, two-thirds voted against having a convention. Twenty years earlier they also voted against one. The last convention was in 1970.
Why did voters oppose a convention? They feared losing political power that they had used for so long. Opponents included most of the state's lobbying organizations: American Insurance Association, Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Chicago Urban League, Illinois Association of Convenience Stores, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Civil Justice League, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Illinois Retired Teachers Association, Illinois Rifle Association, Illinois State AFL-CIO, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, League of Women Voters of Illinois, Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois, SEIU Illinois, State University Annuitants Association, Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, Tooling and Manufacturing Association, the Union League Club of Chicago, etc.
Those with political power fear constitutional conventions that can realize reform. It is why the US Congress has refused to obey Article V of the federal constitution that prescribes a convention of state delegates to propose constitutional amendments when two-thirds of states ask for one, which happened long ago.
All constitutions are meant to be amended. We must not depend on electing individuals to public office to reform the system. We can keep putting politicians in prison, but all that happens in our two-party plutocracy is that other corrupt and dishonest politicians get elected -- just as it has happened for the Illinois governorship.
Did Illinois Senator Barack Obama support the 2008 convention proposal. What do you think? Obama’s key advisor, David Axelrod, who crafted his “change” message, shared a multi-million dollar contract provided by opponents to the convention who feared change.
Money still rules and the biggest bloc of voters stays home
Money in politics and Electoral College on the way out?
Barack has his backers, but do they know the full story?
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