By Elizabeth DiNovella on November 16, 2012

Jesse Jackson Jr is following in the footsteps of so many Illinois politicians as he is reportedly making a plea deal that could see him do jail time.

Instead of returning to Washington for Congress's lame duck session, Jackson is nowhere to be seen. The seventeen-year Congressman from Chicago's South Side was released from Mayo Clinic earlier this week, but has not been seen publicly.

The Mayo Clinic has been treating Jackson -- first at the clinic and then as an outpatient at his Washington, D.C. home -- for a bipolar mood disorder since June.

Even though he has not been working at his Congressional office for months, Jackson ran for office and won another term last week. The entire Jackson family has been pretty tight lipped about the Congressman's current whereabouts and plans.

Jackson's ducking of the spotlight comes as federal authorities are investigating him for alleged "suspicious activity" in his finances. The Chicago Sun-Times quoted a source as saying investigators are "going down every rat hole" and that the FBI "is not yet finished digging."

From the Chicago Sun-Times: The federal probe, which began before Jackson took medical leave from Congress on June 10, first looked at activity in the congressman's campaign fund. But it has since gone into other areas, said the source, who would not elaborate. Broad, sweeping subpoenas were issued in the Jackson investigation, including on financial institutions that controlled Jackson accounts both in and out of Washington, D.C., the source said.

Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported last week that Jackson is in the midst of plea discussions. "No one has pled guilty, but plea discussions are ongoing," a source told Sneed.

It could take some time for a plea deal to materialize, especially considering that charges haven't even been filed yet.

The FBI probe is separate from the House ethics committee investigation into his dealings with imprisoned former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

It was Jackson's connections to Blagojevich that started the rising progressive congressman's stumble.

There were reports that Jackson and his associates discussed raising money for Blagojevich in exchange for the then-governor appointing Jackson to President Barack Obama's former senate seat. Blagojevich is now imprisoned on corruption charges, including having tried to sell the seat.

Both Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel have called on Jackson to tell his constituents about his post-election plans.

Jackson, who spent election night at the Mayo Clinic, issued a statement thanking his supporters and saying he was waiting for his doctors' OK before he could "continue to be the progressive fighter" they'd known for years.

No one questions the seriousness of bipolar disorder, and how it has affected his ability to govern.

But Jackson's constituents, who overwhelming supported him on November 6, before the plea deal bargaining became public, deserve to know what's going on.

If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "Obama's Top Advisors Like Their Game Plan."

Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter.

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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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