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*** UPDATED x1 *** Somebody notify DCFS

Monday, Feb 28, 2011

* You gotta be kidding me. From a press release

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will be the keynote speaker at a student political convention sponsored by the Junior State of America (JSA), the largest high school student-run organization in the country.

The two-day seminar in Chicago will host over 500 students from 13 states. JSA strives to invite speakers who have applied their interests in government, politics, and debate towards real-world success.

“As both a Chicagoland local and the most recognized politician of our generation, Mr. Blagojevich is ideal for this role,” says Tony Castagnoli from JSA. “Students are excited to hear the former governor speak and we believe this will be our best convention ever.”

“Real-world success?” Really? He succeeded at what? The guy is barred from running for state or local office for life. And the FBI surveillance tapes reveal a deeply cynical man who wanted to use his office to line his own pockets. Not to mention all the swear words. Yes, he’s a fantastic role model for kids.


* From the group’s website

The Junior Statesmen mission is to strengthen American democracy by educating and preparing high school students for life-long involvement and responsible leadership in a democratic society.

And Blagojevich can do that how, exactly? By showing them what they shouldn’t do?

The mind reels at this one.

*** UPDATE *** The AP reached the group and asked what the heck they were doing

JSA spokeswoman Lindsey Bowen says it’s up to Blagojevich to decide the focus of the speech. But she adds students are sure to ask tough questions about the accusations that led to his impeachment.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Gregor - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 7:12 am:

    Maybe it’s a troll, and when he gets there to speak, the kids all shout him down with prolonged booing. I would pay money to see that.

  2. - Wensicia - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 7:24 am:

    This would be like inviting Richard Speck to speak before a group of student nurses.

  3. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 7:51 am:

    The expression “scared straight” comes to mind. You can always serve as a horrible example. Oops, wrong bunch of kids.

  4. - waitress practicing politics. . - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 8:13 am:

    Who is on the selection committee for this group? I thought I was reading an article from the Onion.

  5. - Aldyth - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 8:25 am:

    What ever are they thinking?

  6. - PPHS - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 8:27 am:

    I wonder if this is a paid appearance?

    Maybe they have asked many people and can’t get anyone else. I have never heard of this group.

  7. - Ghost - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 8:28 am:

    They are kids, which means you have to invoke the “Pop culture > common sense” rule.

  8. - Jellybean - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 8:53 am:

    What great photo ops; I wonder if his lawyers got him this gig? It will make him look caring, kinder and gentler for any potential jurers. Rod and future American politicians…

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:08 am:

    There used to be fame and infamy. Now there’s only fame and it’s the coin of the realm.

  10. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:22 am:

    Is it possible this is a fake press release. The JSA website has a press section with press releases. There is no mention of this appearance. The WGN coverage mentions a 4/2 meeting in Chicago. The Chicago Area meeting is 3/5 and the 4/2 meeting is in Stamford CT.

  11. - JimF - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:23 am:

    Sorry JimF at 9:22

  12. - Holdingontomywallet - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:46 am:

    Only in Chicago….

  13. - paddyrollingstone - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 10:02 am:

    I’ve known Rod for almost 20 years, I supported him and I still actually like him (crazy, I know) but this invite by the JSA is clearly insane.

  14. - Joe from Joliet - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 10:38 am:

    Convicted felon as role-model. Successful. Whew.

    Maybe they can get an electronic feed from GHRs jail cell and at least be able to tout their bipartisanship.

  15. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 10:51 am:

    Ryan was not available.
    Walker’s phone was disconnected.
    Thompson had a prior commitment with himself.
    Edgar said definately yes, then changed his mind.
    Lisa Madigan asked that they call her in four years.

  16. - SangamoGOP - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 11:15 am:

    “…the most recognized politician of our generation.” Ponder that statement. More recognized than the first African-American President? Than the first female Speaker of the House? Than the former governor of Alaska? Nope. According to the JSA, HotRod is the most recognized politician of our generation. The JSA may not be wise in its selection of speakers but they are darn good at mimicing anything put in front of them by HotRod’s publicist.

  17. - TimB - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 11:30 am:

    Can’t Blago be locked up, or at least gagged until the trial? You know, for the sake of the children!

  18. - lincolnlover - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    They would have been better served to have invited one or two of the state employees who had to serve under this idiot. They could speak about surviving a narcissitic, possibly insane, certain purely self-serving political task master.

  19. - carbaby - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 11:48 am:

    I would call the Hotline but they may not take the call due to Budget cuts in the state. Should it be a “neglect due to Injurious environment” or “mental abuse”?

  20. - MrJM - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    So I guess we can presume that Hosni Mubarak has a prior engagement that weekend?

    – MrJM

  21. - Newsclown - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 12:31 pm:

    Maybe this is one of those “dinner for shmucks” things, or the equivalent of the fraternity prank practice of competing to see who can bring the ugliest date to a rigged party. I fully expect Rod to get totally roasted if he attends this thing.

  22. - And I Approved This Message - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 1:08 pm:

    I was certain the update was going to say it was a joke.

  23. - Wumpus - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 1:12 pm:

    How fitting that he is being invited to speak to a high school group as his behavior was akin to that of a teenager.

    Maybe they will show the backbone the IL Senate/House failed to show until the feds stepped in.

  24. - IL Politico - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 1:16 pm:

    I think you guys are too quick to judge. Check out the article on myfoxchicago…

    “It’s up to Blagojevich to decide the focus of the speech, but students are sure to ask tough questions about the accusations that led to his impeachment.”

    Learning comes in all different forms. Not every teenager today is a facebook fiend. Some actually care about politics and will ask him the hard hitting questions as a result.

  25. - Pat Robertson - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 1:23 pm:

    ==Lisa Madigan asked that they call her in four years. ==

    What about recall?

  26. - the Other Anonymous - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 1:40 pm:

    Rich, you forgot to mention that not only is Blagojevich a bad role model for “real world” success, he is also a bad role model for reality world success — he got fired by Donald Trump.

  27. - D.P. Gumby - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 2:57 pm:

    I can only quote Melissa Leo….

  28. - Earl - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 6:34 pm:

    It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds.If these kids expect to succeed with the Illinois political operation they should understand how it really functions.

  29. - Rachel - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 6:45 pm:

    The Junior State of America is a non-partisan, student-run organization focused on leadership, politics, government, and debate. I am a senior in high school and student leader in JSA and I would say that you are all being completely judgemental of the organization. Blagojevich of course did things that were terribly unethical. No one in JSA disputes this; however, many of us hope to have a future in the world of politics. We focus on bi-parisanship and freeing politics of corruption. How do you expect the next generation to attempt to rid the U.S. of corruption if they do not learn where corruption comes from? This is a fantastic opportunity to grill a politician that embodies everything that is wrong with our political system. I am from Ohio and will not have the opportunity to be at this convention, but I wish that I was. I fully expect my peers and friends from Chicago and the surrounding area to ask him tough questions. We are highly organized. In fact, we are the largest student-run organization in the world and have over 10,000 members nationwide. My fellow JSA members are the most unique people I have ever met. They sincerely care about politics and will not let Blagojevich leave the room without asking him the toughest questions possible.

    For the record, this is not a paid appearance either. JSA does not pay speakers for appearances. We send invitations to speakers and do a couple of follow-up calls.

    You all need to learn a bit more about the organization and what we do before you start bashing it. The student that said
    Blagojevich is the most recognized politician of our generation is a close friend of mine from the Chicago area. I don’t think any of you will dispute that Blagojevich is one of the most recognized politicians of our generation, especially for a student from the Chicago area.

    Regardless of your political opinions, you should all try to be a bit more open minded before you start bashing an entire group of people, especially civic minded students who are making an attempt to learn something. Most of my generation would rather waste their nights on facebook and their weekends drinking. My fellow JSA members choose to spend some of their weekends at conventions listening to political speakers and debating hot issues that have profound effects on our country. I admire many of these students and you would all do well to think twice before you make such rude statements. These are kids that actually care about the future of the U.S. Thank God we have students that do.

  30. - IL Teen - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 6:52 pm:

    I’m planning on going to this JSA convention, and I can honestly say I’m quite excited so hear Blago. We all know about the, um, “hijinks” he’s pulled, and we’re quite aware of what kind of person he is, but we WILL put him on the hot seat. I’m not sure I agree with “the most recognized politician of our generation,” but I’m glad we have such a high-profile speaker and that we’re getting the publicity that comes with it.

    I guess I’m flattered that you all are so worried about Blago brainwashing me, but don’t worry. If anything, we’ll be able to ask the not-so-politically correct questions that “mature adults” wouldn’t be able to.

  31. - Rachel - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 7:07 pm:

    The Junior State of America is a non-partisan, student-run organization focused on leadership, politics, government, and debate. JSA is the largest student-run organization in the world, boasting over 10,000 members nationwide. I am a student leader from JSA and I must say I am very disappointed that you are all so judgemental of the organization. I thought you would all see how clear it was that having Blagojevich is a fantastic idea.

    First of all, I’d like to say that this is not a paid speaker. JSA writes to speakers to invite them and then we do a few follow up calls.

    Secondly, you are all ignoring that JSA is a group of civic-minded high school students. As a senior in high school and enjoying my final year in this fantastic organization, I can say that I have never met students like my fellow JSA members. They will be the first ones to stand up to grill Blagojevich on his unethical ations. I cannot think of a single student in JSA that would argue his actions were ethical.

    Tony Castagnoli was correct in his statement that Blagojevich is one of the most recognized politicians of our generation. This is especially true for students in the Chicago area. Blagojevich embodies everything that JSA aims to correct. We are against government corruption and we believe in bi-partisanship. How do you expect these students — the future leaders of America — to learn how not to act if they do not learn from people like Blagojevich? No one in JSA is arguing that he is successful; however, he is significant to our political climate today. He shows how real corruption is and even though the things he did were completely unethical, he is still massively popular. This is a mystery that JSA students desire to solve. Blagojevich will not leave the room without feeling completely grilled. JSA students have the audacity to ask the questions that even the press refuse to ask. Our questions are not censored by adults, so the questions will be exactly as students want them to be without adding extra “tact” to them.

    These students are unlike any other students in the U.S. While most of my peers spend their nights on facebook and their weekends getting drunk, my fellow JSA students spend their nights reading the news and their weekends debating hot button issues at conventions. They should be encouraged, not discouraged. This opportunity to question Blagojevich is great for students who want to go into politics. We would be stupid to pass it up. I am from Ohio and am trying to attend this convention. I would love to be able to ask Blagojevich what he was thinking. My friends from the Chicago area will definitely be able to ask the tough questions. They are the future of America and I have full confidence that the questions he will be asked will be the toughest he’s ever been faced with.

    Again, encourage the few youth that don’t display apathy. I can assure you that there are not enough of us that care. They are going to ask the tough questions while learning from one of the most puzzling political phenomena of our time. Good luck, Chicago JSAers!

  32. - Just The Way It Is One - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 7:09 pm:

    This Castagnoli is clearly a dufus and should no longer be permitted to head that post–our children deserve to learn from REAL, honest leaders in government and politics–I’m appalled!

  33. - Rachel - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 7:12 pm:

    @Just the way it is one: Tony Castagnoli happens to be a close friend of mine and one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever met. He is absolutely correct in his statement. Blagojevich is one of the most well-known politicians of our time. We have to learn from the actions of the corrupt. We can’t shelter ourselves from reality. If we want to end corruption, we have to learn from the corrupt.

  34. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:08 pm:

    ===We would be stupid to pass it up===

    Actually, you’re stupid for inviting that criminal. He’s a convicted felon who has not yet done his time. The only thing you’re going to learn is what not to be. Such an example.

  35. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:13 pm:

    Also, you might learn to always avoid sociopaths.

    The man is a snake charmer. And I really don’t care if you’re offended by what some of the commenters said here.

  36. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 28, 11 @ 9:15 pm:

    ===If anything, we’ll be able to ask the not-so-politically correct questions that “mature adults” wouldn’t be able to. ===

    Don’t kid yourself, kid.

  37. - Rachel - Tuesday, Mar 1, 11 @ 12:36 am:

    Mr. Miller,

    You are stating exactly what I said earlier: we learn what not to be like. That isn’t stupid. It is part of education. If we lived in a perfect society, we wouldn’t have to learn about the actions of criminals and why they are wrong. You are simply ignoring that fact.

    I’m not saying that you couldn’t ask the questions. I’m saying the press doesn’t.

    Case studies are constantly done on sociopaths. We learn much about the human mind from them. Can we not learn about human nature from Blagojevich?

    You are all assuming that there is nothing to be learned from Blagojevich. However, there is much to be learned. It is how not to be.

  38. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 1, 11 @ 7:27 am:

    ===If anything, we’ll be able to ask the not-so-politically correct questions that “mature adults” wouldn’t be able to. ===

    Youth is wasted on the young.

    Now go home and get your shine box.

  39. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Mar 1, 11 @ 7:36 am:

    And on that hilarious note, comments are closed.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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