Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), is in hot water over attempting to sell President-elect Barack Hussein Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder. Is this really a surprise to anybody? Blagojevich is a product of the same corrupt political machine as Obama.
The most straightforward way to measure corruption is to check the number of convicted local officials. Between 1995 and 2004, 469 politicians from the federal district of Northern Illinois were found guilty of corruption. Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan received a sentence of six and a half years in prison, after being convicted on charges of racketeering, mail fraud, filing false tax returns, and lying to investigators. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that in the last three decades, at least 79 local elected officials have been convicted of a crime, including three governors, one mayor, and a whopping 27 aldermen from the Windy City.
Illinois political corruption of of a magnitude not seen since the days of New York City's Tammany Hall. For those of you unfamiliar with Tammany Hall, an offshoot of the Tammany Society, in 1830 Tammany Hall became the city affiliate of the Democratic Party, controlling most of the New York City elections afterward. From about 1830-1834 the Loco-Focos comprised a democratic, anti-monopoly faction that appealed to workingmen. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s the Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city's ever-expanding immigrant community, which functioned as a base of political capital. The Tammany Hall "ward boss" served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage. New York City used the designation "ward" for its smallest political units from 1686–1938. Tammany is forever linked with the rise of the Irish in American politics.
Beginning in late 1845, millions of Irish Catholics began arriving in New York. Equipped with a knowledge of English, very tight loyalties, a proclivity for politics, and what critics said was a propensity to use violence to control the polls, the Irish quickly dominated Tammany. In exchange for votes, they were provided with money and food.
By 1854, Tammany's lineage and support from immigrants had made it a powerful force in New York politics. Tammany controlled businesses, politics and sometimes law enforcement. Businesses would give gifts to their workers and, in exchange, tell the workers to vote for the politicians that were supported by Tammany (usually a straight Democratic ticket). In 1854, the Society elected its first New York City mayor. Tammany's "bosses" (called the "Grand Sachem") and their supporters enriched themselves by illegal means. The most infamous boss of all was William M. "Boss" Tweed, whose control over the Tammany Hall machine allowed him to win election to the New York State Senate. His political career ended when he was sent to prison along with his partner Francis I.A. Boole, after his ousting at the hands of a reform movement led by New York's Democratic governor Samuel J. Tilden in 1872. From 1872 onward, Tammany had an Irish "boss." They played an increasingly important role in state politics, supporting one candidate and feuding with another. The greatest success came in 1928 when a Tammany hero, New York Governor Al Smith, won the Democratic presidential nomination.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt helped Republican Fiorello La Guardia become mayor on a Fusion ticket, thus removing even more patronage from Tammany's control. La Guardia was elected in 1933 and re-elected in 1937 and 1941. He was the first anti-Tammany Mayor to be re-elected and his extended tenure weakened Tammany in a way that previous "reform" Mayors had not. Tammany depended for its power on government contracts, jobs, patronage, corruption, and ultimately the ability of its leaders to swing the popular vote. The last element weakened after 1940 with the decline of relief programs like WPA and CCC that Tammany used to gain and hold supporters.
Although lacking the public notoriety of Tammany Hall, the relatively low-key Illinois political machine is equally corrupt. How do such things happen in a supposedly free democratic republic? People are easily misinformed through the use of political "smoke and mirrors", and misdirected by political sleight of hand. Who is to blame? Those people who are impressed by empty words, awestruck by political theatrics, and foolish enough to believe what they see and hear in our equally corrupt print and broadcast media.
I could be wrong ........................ but, I'm NOT!