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Friday, Oct 26, 2007

Another week without session is a week of beauty and peace. They’ll crank it back up next week, but in the meantime have a good weekend and have some fun.

If you wanna keep talking, head to Illinoize, the second best political blog in the state. :)

And, now, your moment of Zen. The video is entitled “Bulldozers level Wrigley Field”…


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Friday music blogging: The Duct Tape Messiah

Friday, Oct 26, 2007

* You’ve probably never heard of Blaze Foley. A singer-songwriter who died in 1989, Foley was mostly forgotten, although he was barely known to begin with.

Foley lived hard. He didn’t care about what others thought of his life, his appearance, his choices. He alienated many of his friends with his rough and tumble ways, rarely had a home of his own, drank all the time and got in too many fights with friend and foe alike

My first memories of Blaze Foley date back to emmajoe’s. He was decked out in duct tape and mercurochrome. He was asleep under the pool table. A game of 8-ball was in progress on the green felt above him. Every time someone made a ball and it dropped with a thud Blaze would rouse up, smack his forehead on the bottom of the table and sprawl back out. Several championships were decided over his head as he slumbered on.

Through the haze of alcohol and drugs, and the perils of brawls and homelessness Blaze did his best to remain dedicated to his art…

[H]e told me that he was totally committed to his career as a songwriter and would never have a day job because that might dull his ambition or detour him from his artistic goals. He was uncompromising on that point and I never knew him to hold down a job just so he could pay rent. Blaze preferred the sofa circuit and he rotated among friends and lovers for sleeping quarters. He didn’t even have a car to sleep in in a pinch. And he didn’t care.

* Merle Haggard covered one of Foley’s greatest works, “If I Could Only Fly.” back in 2000, eleven years after Foley’s death. Haggard, a country music god, said the song was “the best country song I’ve heard in 15 years.”

You can listen to Foley’s original version by clicking the RealPlayer button below…

Wrecks Bell hosted Foley on his couch many times over the years and also covered the song. It’s a thing of pure beauty…


If I could only fly
If I could only fly
I’d bid this place goodbye
To come and be with you
But I can hardly stand
Got nowhere to run
Another sinkin’ sun
One more lonely night

* John Prine covered another Foley tune, “Clay Pigeons”…

Prine began researching Foley, and in the process, received a bootleg tape from a friend in Austin, Texas. Foley sang a scruffy version of “If I Could Only Fly,” followed by “Clay Pigeons.” “When I heard ‘Clay Pigeons,’ I thought, ‘Man, that sounds like me,’ ” Prine said. “I couldn’t get the song out of my head. And when I can’t get a song out of my head, I have to learn it.”

Listen below…

[audio:claypigeons.mp3]

I’m tired of running ’round looking for answers to questions that I already know
I could build me a castle of memories just to have somewhere to go
Count the days and the nights that it takes to get back in the saddle again
Feed the pigeons some clay
Turn the night into day
Start talking again when I know what to say

* Foley was shot and killed in 1989 while trying to help a friend fend off an attack. Years later, Lucinda Williams, a country goddess who knew Foley from her Austin days, wrote a song about Foley’s life and death called “Drunken Angel”…


Followers would cling to you
Hang around just to meet you
Some threw roses at your feet
And watch you pass out in the street
Drunken Angel
Feed you and pay off all your debts
Kiss your brow, taste your sweat
Write about your soul your guts
Criticize you and wish you luck
Drunken Angel

* Foley was a running buddy of the legendary Townes Van Zandt. Townes also wrote a song about Foley after his death called Blaze’s Blues. Here are the two friends singing one of my favorite Townes songs, “Snowing on Raton”…


* As with most folk/country songwriters, Foley was also political. He had no love for Ronald Reagan and wrote a stinging song about the president back in the mid-1980s called “Oval Room”…


At the factory, never been so slow
Got a big fourth down, ninety nine to go
And down on the farm, nothing growing there
But the debts they owe and their gray hair
In the desert sand, and the jungle deep
He thinks everything is his to keep
He’s a real cowboy, with his makeup on
Talks to kings and queens on the telephone
He’s the president, but I don’t care

* But he wrote some great, sad country songs about lost love and lost lives. Here’s one called Faded Loves….

Faded loves, and memories
How they take the best of me
This old chain around my shoulder’s
only makin’ me look older
Than I am — I’ll get over you someday

* Foley’s mother was a gospel singer and Blaze played in her band. Here’s a gospel number he wrote called “Let Me Ride in Your Big Cadillac”…

Let me ride in your big Cadillac, Lord Jesus
Let me ride in your big Cadillac
I can see the pearly gates
Where the angels wait
Standin’ all around your big Cadillac
Won’t you take me by the hand
Lead me to the promised land
And let me ride in your big Cadillac

His voice had its moments, but his real value was as a songwriter.

* So, why did they call him the Duct Tape Messiah?

In reaction to the Urban Cowboy craze sweeping across the city, he mocked the make-believe cowboys with their shiny silver boot tips by putting duct tape on the tips of his boots […]

He loved duct tape, the miracle binder that kept his clothes and his life together. Foley slapped the adhesive to shoes, jeans, shirts, hats, jackets. Once he made a whole suit out of duct tape. Friends dubbed him the Duct Tape Messiah.

He was even buried in a coffin covered in duct tape.

* Interest has surged in Blaze’s music in the past few years. Lyle Lovett covered another Foley tune in 2003, “Election Day.” And Foley’s family has released three new CDs.

A documentary is in the works about Blaze’s life, called, fittingly, The Duct Tape Messiah


* 100 percent of the profits from the movie will be donated to a project for the homeless. Foley was a champion of the homeless. This is what Townes Van Zandt had to say about Foley’s cause

“He was a friend of the homeless, poor, elder, a real super caring guy. And he would sometimes seem bitter, you know. The only reason for that is he was brimming over with so much genuine love and caring. To see an injustice sometimes it would just put him over to a frenzy, kind of. He couldn’t stand to see a poor bag lady on the street. It threw him into a rage, almost. It just came from love.”

* Here’s one last Foley tune, this one covered by Gurf Morlix. Cold, Cold World…


I can’t get no job and I can’t get no rest
I started out east, but I ended up west
And I’m so glad to be here I’m sure, I would guess
Ain’t it a cold, cold world

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


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Friday, Oct 26, 2007

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Question of the day

Friday, Oct 26, 2007

* A commenter posted these thoughts here yesterday…

When people talk about taxing the rich I always wonder what their definition of rich is. I suspect they think of it in terms of some multiple of their income. After all, everything is relative. I am curious as to whether that multiple is consistent across all income levels.

* Question: What annual income would you consider to be “rich” for taxation purposes? Explain, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      


Does the religious right drive up the abortion rate?

Friday, Oct 26, 2007

* Terry Cosgrove, who runs the pro-choice Personal PAC group, has written a highly provocative column for the Huffington Post

The consequences of right-wing reproductive health policies are devastating not only to women, but also to children and families. If you rate every country in the world starting with whether each provides full access to family planning, emergency contraceptives, pays for abortions and provides comprehensive sex education, and compare those to rates for countries where these policies are opposed, you will see that those who provide full access to EC, abortion, family planning and sex education have the LOWEST abortion rates, lowest STD rates, lowest infant mortality rates, lowest teen pregnancy rates, lowest maternal death rates as well as the best indicators for EVERY measurement of women’s health.

On the other side of the spectrum where abortion and family planning are illegal, the worst indicators for women’s health are found including the highest (and most dangerous) abortion rates in the world. Right now, today, as you are reading this, ½ the hospital beds in every large city hospital in Central and South America are taken by women suffering from illegal abortion attempts. And all these countries have the highest abortion rates in the world. […]

The use of contraception reduces the probability of having an abortion by 85%. In states which allowed emergency contraceptives without a prescription prior to the FDA’s move earlier this year, the abortion rate dropped by over 1/3. Some 70% or 42 million American women today of reproductive age are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant. Only 5% of women aged 15-44 in the U.S. use no contraception during sex and they account for 50% of the nation’s abortions. In light of this overwhelming evidence that unfettered access to contraception causes the abortion rate to plunge, it is stunning that NOT A SINGLE anti-abortion group in the United States supports the use of birth control. The best a few do is say nothing about birth control, but many so-called pro-life organizations lobby vigorously against it. The nation’s largest anti-abortion group, American Life League says “A.L.L. denies the moral acceptability of artificial birth control.” These are the very groups that say abortion shouldn’t be used as a form of birth control yet they oppose every type of birth control that would prevent unintended pregnancy. […]

The policies promoted by the pro-choice movement dramatically reduce the abortion rate here in Illinois, across the U.S. and around the world. The policies promoted by those who call themselves “pro-life” or anti-abortion drive up the abortion rate everywhere. The results are devastating to the women, children and families of our great state. Those who are against abortion for whatever reason shouldn’t have one which is why Planned Parenthood has The Cradle adoption agency at its Chicago medical facility.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Stop believing, please

Friday, Oct 26, 2007

* I’ll be discussing my latest Sun-Times column on Jerry Agar’s WLS AM show at 10:35 this morning. You can listen at this link if you’re not near a radio.

* The column is about the governor’s awful poll numbers and some of the media coverage he’s been getting

So, it turns out that Gov. Blagojevich’s “secret plan” to “solve” the CTA’s budget crisis was never a real plan at all and doesn’t solve the problem.

But you probably knew that the moment the TV and radio news shows breathlessly trumpeted the governor’s pronouncement this week.

The people of this state have caught on to the governor’s games. Blagojevich is thoroughly unpopular with Illinois voters. Poll after poll since midsummer has shown his job approval rating to be somewhere in the neighborhood of nothingness.

Just 23 percent of voters said they approve of the way Blagojevich is handling his job, a recent Illinois Wesleyan University poll found. A different survey, from the respected Rasmussen Reports, found that only a tiny fraction of the population — just 5 percent — rate the governor’s job performance as “excellent.”

It’s to the point where Blagojevich probably wishes he could move “up” to Richard Nixon’s ratings. And he’s very close to George Ryan’s job approval ratings as the soon-to-be prison inmate was leaving office under a cloud of federal investigations.

* A few crosstabs…

Only 29 percent of voters in overwhelmingly Democratic Cook County said they approved of Blagojevich’s job performance, according to the Wesleyan poll. By contrast, 67 percent of Cook voters gave the thumbs up to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and 67 percent said they will vote for a Democrat for U.S. Congress. The governor’s doing better with county voters than President Bush, but statewide the two are locked in a dead heat.

Not a single demographic in Illinois, whether it’s race, party affiliation, gender, ideology, income or region, gives the governor a majority or even a plurality of support. Only 38 percent of Democrats say they approve of his job performance, but 41 percent disapprove. Thirty-two percent of liberals approve and 54 percent disapprove. Thirty-eight percent of nonwhite minorities approve and 40 percent disapprove, according to Wesleyan.

Rasmussen found this month that 63 percent of African Americans, 75 percent of Democrats and liberals, 77 percent of Cook County voters, 83 percent of women and 85 percent of independents rated Blagojevich’s job performance as fair or poor. If his “friends” think that way, you can imagine how his political enemies rate him. It ain’t pretty.

Go read the whole thing before commenting, please.

* More transit and session stuff, compiled by Paul…

* Huntley: What transit funding crisis looks like to man in seat

* Metra fares may jump 30% by 2010

* Metra warns fares will have to rise

* Metra budget proposal would raise fares

* Phil Kadner: The Larry formula of taxation

* Change of Subject: The low down on Illinois’ ‘low taxes’

* Illinois school funding at risk

* Senate inaction means loss of Rockford area grants

* Editorial: Website helps, but true ethics reform needed in Illinois

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Ryan: “I got screwed”

Friday, Oct 26, 2007

* This is the very sort of thing that makes it so difficult to get all weepy for George Ryan today….

In the southwest suburbs, Ed Hammer, a former Secretary of State inspector demoted by Ryan for investigating corruption in the office, said he was “excited and relieved” that the appellate court left Ryan’s conviction intact.

Earlier this month, Hammer, who is writing a book about his experience, said he went to Ryan’s home.

“I went up and rang his doorbell,” Hammer said. “He answered the door. He actually invited me in. He did not remember who I was even though I testified at his trial.

“I asked him for an apology for myself and my partner Russ Sonneveld. His response real quickly was, ‘Apology for what?’ I told him I felt he hurt us, several Secretary of State employees, the Willis family and others. He said he had nothing to do with that.

“I just wanted to see if at this point in his life, facing federal prison, if he would have a change of heart and apologize to those he had hurt . . .

“But as I was leaving, all he said was, ‘I got screwed.’ “

* But if you still have hope for Ryan, here it is

The three dissenting judges spent about half of their 15-page opinion slamming the length of the trial and what they consider to be U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer’s failure to rein in the proceedings.

“We agree with the panel majority that the evidence of the defendants’ guilt was overwhelming,” Posner wrote with Judges Ann Claire Williams and Michael Kanne. “But guilt no matter how clearly established cannot cancel a criminal defendant’s right to a trial that meets minimum standards of procedural justice.”

The dissent warned that marathon trials scare off many competent jurors. Those left become overwhelmed by the vast amount of evidence, they wrote.

“The longer the trial, the less likely the jury is to be able to render an intelligent verdict,” the opinion said.

The trials should not have gone anywhere near six months, the dissenting judges said. They said that in a “super-long trial,” jurors are more likely to become “bored, impatient, irritated” and to disobey the judge’s instructions.

In legal papers, neither side had put the issue of trial length front and center, but Thursday’s dissent appears to be written “with an eye toward Supreme Court review,” said Joel Bertocchi, a veteran appellate attorney.

* More

[Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins] pointed out that the trial took as long as it did, in part, because of requests by the defense.

“That’s ridiculous. It was done by (Judge) Pallmeyer because she can’t manage a case,” said [Len Cavise, a DePaul University College of Law professor]. “She just doesn’t know how to say ‘no.’ … There are any number of judges who would have taken those lawyers into chambers and said, ‘Clean up your act.’”

The dissenters seemed to take that view as well.

“Federal trial judges … recognize and discharge a duty of active trial management. … They do not defer abjectly to the lawyers’ preferences regarding length of trial,” they wrote.

* And more stories, compiled by Paul…

* Former Gov. Ryan a step away from prison

* Ryan Jurors generally glad to see conviction upheld

* The three judges who sided with Ryan

* Clout Street: Gov, Mayor react to Ryan decision; other Ryan reactions; more reactions

* Editorial: Jail time for Ryan would end this sad political chapter

* Editorial: For Ryan, no more delay of consequences

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


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Friday, Oct 26, 2007

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Morning shorts

Friday, Oct 26, 2007

* Daley defends Bridgeport land deal

* Daley denies sweetheart deal for park site

* Mary Mitchell: Daley ignoring rising toll of rogue cops

* Independent cop watchdog to start over with new name

* ILGOPNetwork: A rundown of the Congressional races

* Peoria Chronicle: Schock to officially announce candidacy

* Newcomer eyes Weller’s seat in the House

* Illinois Review: 8th CD GOP primary heats up over ‘dirty money’

* Press Release: Dan Seals ducks and dodges debates

* Press Release: Lauzen announces health care policy position

* ArchPundit: Why he supports Mark Pera

* Video: Mark Pera’s first TV ad

* Video: John Laesch press conference

* Video: Peraica ad slamming new GOP State’s Attorney candidate [fixed link]

* Press Release: Green Party candidate announces for DuPage Co. Board

* WurfWhile: Congressman Biggert target of pro-SCHIP coalition

* School silence law kicks up a big fuss

Pockets of students, parents and teachers who take issue with the law’s intent have staged walkouts, online protests and letter-writing campaigns to state lawmakers in the hope of reversing the measure, which makes Illinois one of 11 states with requisite periods of reflection. A 14-year-old student is expected to file the first legal challenge to the law Friday, thrusting Illinois even further into the thick of the national school-prayer debate.

* IlliniPundit: 2007 ethics training

* GAO Report: Current status of state and local government retirement benefits; just the highlights

* IL Campaign for Political Reform: Dependents as donors and dependent candidates

But the problem that the Post and WDC found isn’t so much that some parents use their kids to sneak around the limits, it’s that candidates can become too reliant for money from a tiny number of donors. And we have that problem in Illinois in spades.

Here in Illinois, most candidates for statewide office get most of their money from donors who pony up $10,000 or more, and those donors account for a teeny tiny fraction of all Illinoisans — less than one-tenth of one -percent.

* Foreclosures crisis could worsen, officials say

“The number of people getting into trouble is going to grow, and the need for housing counselors is going to grow as well,” said Tammie Grossman, executive director of Housing Action Illinois, a Chicago-based training and advocacy group.

Brenda Grauer, a prosecutor in the office of Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, said foreclosures caused by fraud are becoming “incredibly prevalent.”

Poor communities on the South Side and in the south suburbs, she said, are prone to illegal mortgage practices — everything from a broker or lender overstating a borrower’s income to inflating property values on a loan application.

* Sun-Times Editorial: Bad loan crisis affects all of us

* Tribune Editorial: Thoughts on Cook Co. health care system

* Daley said he heard the message and will trim the tax increase

* Clinton Landfill opposition group’s leader contends county board violated Open Meetings Act

The leader of a community-based watchdog group opposed to the permitting of chemical wastes at a landfill in Clinton is accusing a DeWitt County official of erasing an audiotape of a county board meeting.

* Friday Beer Blogging: Halloween Costume Edition

- Posted by Paul Richardson   9 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* The next step after Janus
* Question of the day
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* Follow the Lincoln hat money
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Rauner says nepotism EO will help stop outmigration
* Should state Dems be worried?
* An all-around disaster in the 41st House District
* JB Pritzker has financial ties to Jim Edgar
* Could Rauner declare the Willowbrook plant a "threat to public health" and sue?
* *** UPDATED x2 - White responds *** Democrats, activists say Jesse White "failed" to implement AVR
* The almost non-issue that won't go away
* AG candidate tweets out engagement announcement
* New Rauner digital ad goes after Pritzker's off-shore banking: "Hide your money in the Bahamas!"
* Blue Wave money update
* All heat, no light
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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