Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blago's Charge of the Light Brigade

"Half a league, half a league onward..."

So goes Tennyson's famous poem "Charge of the Light Brigade." The British fought a lot of senseless wars during their heyday, but managed to do it such bravado, such elan, that it seemed that their greatest purpose was merely to gloss their national ego -- even when they lost.

Which brings us to former governor Rod the Mod. Blago went down in a blaze of glory today. Not a single vote to save his sorry governorship. The Chicago machine abandoned him, President Obama said sayonara a long time ago and not even Roland Burris was around to see him off.

What was more pathetic than a man who refused to even defend himself or his career?

While many argued that his brain had turned to mush under the weight of all that hair, I claim arrested development was his main flaw. He just couldn't advance beyond the second grade in terms of maturity. The world revolved around him. Everyone was unfair. Nothing could possibly be his fault, nor could he take the blame for his runaway arrogance and living in the frail bubble of his own ego.

His father-in-law procured him his political career, which he managed to squander despite being elected twice in the wake of George Ryan's unrepentant corruption. It took a lot of effort to gorge on the grand buffet of Illinois politics then wretch on all of his constituents without so much as a hint of remorse.

Now he's gone, leaving poor Pat Quinn to clean up the mess. And what carnage! A huge state budget deficit, underfunded schools and pension funds, cronyism mismanaging state money and contracts. Shall I go on?

Fortunately, if Pat Quinn can work with the legislature -- and I suspect he'll make an effort -- he will be a true progressive and attempt to heal the state's many fiscal and political wounds.

Schools really need adequate funding. Homeowners need relief from property taxes. One of the bills that my group (The Citizens Action Plan of Lake County --- had drafted actually passed both houses last year, but got stuck in the mire between Blago and House speaker Mike Madigan. A lot of legislation ended up that way.

I'd like to see a complete reform of political fundraising. New limits now apply but more can be done to separate the money from political cronyism. Quinn's proposed ethics commission may be able to do something on that front. The state badly needs infrastructure improvements. Everything from the Chicago elevated system to local roads are crumbling.

The state income tax and other excise taxes need a close examination. The income tax -- a flat 3% -- should be at least considered for revision, if for no other reason than to provide more funds for schools and make wealthy residents pay their fair share. If anyone has better ideas that would prevent taxes from being raised, let Gov. Quinn know. He's going to need lots of help in righting the ship of state.

Now the national media won't have a clown to have on their talk shows to liven up the sober political climate. It's bad enough Obama has to fix the banks, but now he's charged with reviving the economy, creating jobs and saving the Great American Dream from imploding even more. God help him.

In the meantime, Elvis has left the building. I think only Barbara Walters will miss him. And to think Oprah could've been senator if he just had more time!

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