Once while working at a hotel in Chicago many years ago, I checked in an alderman and his mistress in one room, a couple of union guys who asked about the alderman and his mistress in another room and some polite law enforcement officers in still another room within a few hours of each other. It was hard to know who was watching who.
But somebody was watching someone for sure.
So let’s say I learned a few things growing up in Chicago watching politics and crime in real life. The ways of the Obama administration are something I’m used to. That’s partly why I dislike his administration so much.
This much I know: When the Illinois Combine has a problem, they usually make it go away. Like either forever or at least until paroled for good behavior.
For the uninitiated, the Combine is a term used to describe the GOP and Dem insiders who run the state of Illinois with a little help from some ham-handed friends, like asphalt contractors, garbage collectors, teachers’ pension funds and Teamsters.
The Dems run Cook County and the GOP runs downstate.
They stage a few fights here and there just to keep it looking like politics. But really, in the words of Michael Corleone from the Godfather, “It's strictly business.”
That’s why Obama tapped Illinois Republican, former congressman Ray LaHood, long-time Combine member and benefactor of paving contractors everywhere as his Transportation Secretary. LaHood can probably over-estimate the amount of cement and labor on a given road project without even looking at a calculator. He knows the business.
Chicago veteran political columnist John Kass, who covers the Combine for the Chicago Tribune, wrote about LaHood as LaHood was being installed as US transport and asphalt vice regal:
As Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich plays the dancing monkey for America's journalists, another Illinois political story is being ignored:
Ray LaHood, the Republican Combine congressman from Peoria, has been smoothly installed as secretary of transportation in the reform administration of President Barack Obama.
In political terms, Blagojevich is a pimple compared with LaHood, who will have billions of federal dollars to dole out in state grants for contracts for roads, bridges, airport modernization -- all the sugarplums the guys behind the guys dream about.
One such guy is the indicted Republican boss of Springfield, William Cellini, a wealthy developer and executive director of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association. LaHood is a Cellini guy.
And Cellini is a Combine guy. He’s known as the “Pope” in the state capital of Springfield. He’s currently under indictment for asking a Hollywood producer to make a seven-figure contribution to Blagojevich’s campaign in return for a contract managing teachers’ pension funds. He’s the guy-behind-the-guy, in Kass’ phrase. And as Wikipedia reports, “He has been vetted and licensed by gaming regulatory bodies in Missouri, Indiana, Louisiana, Illinois and Iowa.”
Shovel ready? LaHood and Cellini will give you shovel ready.
That’s why I kind of feel bad for the Solyndra guys. Not the donors, but the executives.
It’s just about now that they have figured out who they were dealing with.
They thought they were dating the prom king when courting Obama and his government checkbook. But really, they were getting juice from a loan shark, Chicago-style, and they didn’t know it.
Maybe that’s why all of sudden the business guys who wear ties for a living and who were so ready to cooperate with the investigation into Solyndra are going to make like mobsters and invoke 5th Amendment protection when testifying before Congress on Friday.
The Combine is pretty adept at government investigations that pin the blame on someone else; someone else who, in the best case scenario, ends up doing ten-to-twenty making small rocks out of large rocks.
Currently the Department of Justice, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Treasury and Congress all have open investigations into Solyndra and possible loan fraud by the executives.
Political strategist James Carville recently recommended on TV that Obama “indict” someone as a way of saving his presidency.
This is the final image of hope and change? Scapegoat indictments?
The only hope the guys behind the donors at Solyndra have is for a change at prosecutor.
If I were them, I’d be crying out loud for a special prosecutor, independent of the Obama administration's Combine in this case.
It’s their only hope.
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