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READER COMMENTS CLOSED FOR THE WEEKEND

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Enjoy this gorgeous weather and I’ll talk to you again Monday.

If you just can’t pull yourself from the computer, then make sure to visit Illinoize this weekend. Some really good stuff is being posted tbere.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Close race

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

JBT has been up and down and back up again in the Rasmussen poll.

Fresh from primary victories, neither the Democratic nominee nor the Republican nominee enjoys a clear advantage in the race for Governor of Illinois.

The latest Rasmussen Reports election poll shows Republican State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka leading Democratic Governor Rod R. Blagojevich 43% to 41%. That toss-up represents an apparent tightening of the race. In our late February poll, Blagojevich bested Topinka 42% to 36%. For him, that was an improvement over the January survey, when Topinka led 48% to 37%.

The rolling average of our last three polls confirms the close nature of the race and shows Topinka with a knife-edge 42% to 40% lead. Though the poll numbers seem to gyrate when looked at individually, it’s the challenger’s support that has varied most. The governor’s has ranged much more narrowly, between 37% to 42%—low and not too auspicious for an incumbent.

Both nominees have weathered charges of corruption from within their own parties en route to their nominations. Neither has solidified support within their own party at this time.

Blagojevich is viewed favorably by 44% of likely voters and unfavorably by 53%, with only 2% Not Sure how to view him. Topinka is viewed favorably by 50%, unfavorably by 44%.

Blagojevich wins approval for his job performance as governor from only 39% of Illinois voters. Fifty-nine percent (59%) disapprove.

Though 45% of Illinois voters believe abortion is morally wrong, just 34% favor a ban on abortion except when the life of the mother is at risk; 55% oppose it. (Such a ban is now being vetted in South Dakota, where it is expected to encounter judicial challenges.)

Sixty-five percent (65%) think most politicians would change their vote for the right contribution. Fifty-three percent (53%) guesstimate that the cost of influencing a governor or senator is $50,000 or less; 7% believe all that’s needed is $1,000.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

The full report can be found here. And here’s the Tribune’s take:

Four in 10 Americans believe that immigrants strengthen the U.S. with their hard work and talents, but an even bigger portion say immigration saps job and housing availability, a major new study has found.

As lawmakers battled over competing immigration reform bills on Capitol Hill, the Pew Research Center and Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C., released a survey Thursday that shows a country still deeply ambivalent about newcomers.

Chicago, the survey found, is even more divided.

Of the five metro areas highlighted in the Pew study, Chicago is among the most tolerant of immigrants, with more people embracing newcomers and fewer interested in penalizing illegal immigrants.

“Chicago has a proud legacy of being built by immigrants,” said Marissa Graciosa of the Illinois Coalition for Immigration Rights. “This is a city that does not have amnesia about where its roots come from.”

At the same time, however, Chicagoans were more pessimistic than most about the effect of immigrants on the economy, with 4 in 10 area residents saying their biggest concern about illegal immigration is that it hurts American jobs—higher than Las Vegas, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham and Washington, D.C., and higher than the rest of the country

Discuss, but be warned that any racist comments will be deleted and those making such comments will be banned from posting here forever. I mean it. Don’t even think about pushing the envelope.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


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Friday, Mar 31, 2006

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Edgar: JBT needs $10 mil

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

That’s a lot of money to raise in a very short time. But all you really need is enough to burn your message in. Beyond that and it’s often just white noise.

Former Governor Jim Edgar said today that fellow Republican Judy Baar Topinka needs to raise at least ten million dollars to take on incumbent Governor Rod Blagojevich in November.

Edgar said he doesn’t doubt Topinka can raise the cash, but Blagojevich can make it difficult for her. He said one problem would be if Blagojevich got an early bump and potential supporters concluded the race was over.

Redfield had more to say here.

Redfield estimates Topinka needs at least $8 million to finance her gubernatorial bid.

“I wouldn’t want to try to run statewide with much less than that,” he said.

And then there’s this from CBS2:

Redfield and two other University of Illinois colleagues, including former Gov. Jim Edgar, found a lesson in that for Gov. Rod Blagojevich — even $15 million in campaign cash cannot compensate for a lack of credibility.

“I think his commercials are good,” Edgar said, “but the problem is that he’s talking. A lot of folks just don’t have a lot of confidence in him.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Lane Evans replacement open thread

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

What do you hear? What do you know? What do you think will happen?

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Med students want reforms

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Lawmakers can’t take gifts, so why should doctors?

The drug industry spends big bucks every year lavishing doctors with free samples and other goodies. Does that influence how they prescribe drugs? Most physicians say no. But the American Medical Student Association argues that, at the very least, the freebies raise questions about how much influence the drug firms have. The group, meeting in Chicago this week, favors a ban on all industry marketing to doctors. […]

The group’s ban goes much further than the guidelines of the leading doctors’ group, the American Medical Association. The AMA believes doctors can accept “modest” meals and gifts related to their work that cost about $100. Doctors may also accept “reasonable” speakers’ fees. They may not accept cash, junkets and any gifts with strings attached.

The student group, which represents about two-thirds of the nation’s medical students, doesn’t think doctors should accept any promotional gifts or speakers’ fees. It believes hospitals should discontinue industry-funded lectures and lunches. It argues the huge marketing expenses drive up the cost of drugs. Finally, it thinks doctors should get information about drugs from independent sources and not rely on drug sales representatives. […]

According to an article in the April issue of Atlantic Monthly, doctors who insist that they are not influenced by goodies from drug reps are contradicted by studies that show just the opposite — that they are more likely to prescribe a gift-giver’s drug. And it cites one study that found that the more gifts a doctors gets, the more likely he or she will believe that gifts have no effect.

I knew some legislators like that. They’re gone now, thankfully. [emphasis added]

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Smoking ban passes

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Judging by previous comments, this bill should be pretty popular here.

All Illinois counties would be able to ban smoking in public places under legislation approved Thursday and sent to the governor.

The measure gives county officials the power to prohibit lighting up in restaurants, bars and other public gathering spots. It’s similar to legislation passed last year that lets cities decide whether to snuff out public puffing.

The new measure covers unincorporated areas, so cities still would have the final say within their borders.

The Illinois House approved the bill 89-24. It already had passed the Senate.

I’m for this bill, but for purely selfish reasons. I have tried and tried to quit smoking, but I always end up going back because my ability to “just say no” is weakened when I’m in a tavern. I figure I’ll just have one, and then before I know it I’m right back to smoking full-time. So Springfield’s ban and Chicago’s ban ought to be good for my health. And if I can’t slip out to an unincorporated area to drink and smoke, so much the better. Selfish, yes. Sound policy? I’ll leave that up to others to debate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Martin squeaks by

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Partisan rollcall saves Transportation Secretary.

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a second term for the secretary of transportation, despite Republicans’ concerns about mismanagement within the agency.

Tim Martin narrowly was confirmed to continue running the Transportation Department on a 31-18 vote, with eight senators voting “present.”

He needed 30 votes for approval. […]

Dillard, who voted “present” on Martin after supporting him in a Senate committee earlier in the day, said Martin told him he was making changes.

“I think you’ll see Secretary Martin watching what goes on in his agency much more deeply into the agency than he probably did his first couple of years,” Dillard said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Morning shorts

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

· Gotcha: When asked if Blagojevich would ride Amtrak if the extra trips between Chicago and Springfield were implemented, Vanover replied: “Is this a serious question?”

· YDD lays the smackdown.

· Tribune editorial: The Dan Ryan honey pot

· Free Ryan defense could get expensive

· Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen, in a memo written for RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, warns that if members of Congress try to drive a wedge between themselves and Pres. Bush, it’d be akin to adding weight to an anchor.

· Stroger’s son says it will be months before his father’s political future is determined.

· Ryan jurors dig in, ask for transcripts, details of tax count

· Free or low-cost Internet access should be a no-brainer. And, Illinois moves at dial-up speed in the Information Age

· Ex-Clinton aide to lead tollway

· Sex offenders missing from registered addresses

· Krol’s column. Good as always.

· Fighting Predatory Lending… Some Realtors Would Like To See Amendment To Bill

· Bolingbrook Workers Accused Of Fraud

· More weirdness in Kane County. Major growing pains there.

· Note to the DCCC: If you’re going to send me a link to a video, make sure it works. I won’t pass it along here if I can’t see it myself.

· People’s Weekly World (not the usual type of link): The wild card in the [Melissa Bean] race could be the independent campaign of Bill Scheurer, running as a pro-union, antiwar, anti-abortion candidate and supported by the Teamsters and UAW.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Now playing…

Friday, Mar 31, 2006

Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain” live album.

I bought the record when I was 14 after seeing his concert TV special. I never knew who he was before that. The only Dylan I knew anything about was Marshal Dylan from “Gunsmoke.”

Mr. Stone, my math teacher, made us watch it. Mr. Stone was a Dylan freak. In retrospect, a large number of the faculty were hippies, even though we were in a very conservative area up in Northwest Illinois (Hanover). I was doing AV duty that semester and after Mr. Stone showed the Dylan show in class I watched it almost every day for the rest of the year.

I was mesmerized by this angry poet with that giant, truly rocking band. There must’ve been 15 members of the Rolling Thunder Revue, with one guy just wandering around onstage playing the tambourine. (Stone said that was the job he wanted.) Hard Rain was one of the best commercial live albums ever made, only surpassed by some of Dylan’s “bootleg” series releases in the past decade. It’s a must-have.

After ordering Hard Rain from the local Ben Franklin (it was the only way to buy music in those parts), I bought a greatest hits collection and I was hooked forever. But when I was replacing my albums with CDs I never bought Hard Rain. I have no idea why.

Anyway, I downloaded Hard Rain from I-Tunes the other day (the difference in the modes of purchase - ordering at a local store in 1976 and waiting two weeks to a month for delivery, compared to downloading it immediately from a home computer in 2006 - are kinda stunning) The album is bringing back a rush of memories. But most of those are private and I need to get back to work, so that’s it for now.

Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out quick,
but when they will I can only guess.
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


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