Mere coercion does not violate the text of the self-incriminatio

Steve Chapman points out the absolute idiocy of the most recent US Supreme Court concerning self-incrimination

Two police officers stopped and frisked Martinez, a farm worker, while looking for drug activity. They found a knife in his waistband, a struggle ensued, and one of the officers shot him five times. One bullet tore into his face, permanently blinding him. One shattered his spine, paralyzing his legs for life. Three hit him in the leg.

After being placed under arrest, he was rushed by ambulance to an emergency room. But his wounds were just the start of his ordeal. Yet another officer, Sgt. Ben Chavez, went along to the hospital and proceeded to pelt Martinez with questions about the incident, even as doctors and nurses labored furiously to keep him alive. Several times they asked the cop to leave the room, but each time, he came back, turned on his tape recorder and resumed his interrogation.

Bleeding from multiple wounds, choking, unable to move, occasionally losing consciousness, in excruciating pain and afraid he was dying, the patient twice told Chavez he didn’t want to talk–even though the officer hadn’t bothered to inform him of his Miranda rights, and even though he feared he might be denied treatment for refusing. But not until 45 minutes later, when the medical team wheeled Martinez out to undergo a CAT scan, did Chavez finally conclude his questioning.

You would assume this sort of mistreatment, verging on deliberate torture, would be a flagrant violation of Martinez’s constitutional rights. But we learned in a decision issued Monday that the Supreme Court doesn’t see it quite that way. "Martinez’s allegations fail to state a violation of his constitutional rights," wrote Justice Clarence Thomas, including his 5th Amendment right against forced testimony.

Ronnie White is Chomping at the Bit

Forget Kelvin Simmons, Ronnie White wants a crack at Kit Bond. Rumors are starting to bubble up that White would love a shot at Kit Bond in the US Senate race and he recently told one person that he is chomping at the bit for the shot if the Democratic Party will only ask.

What the hell is taking so long–ask dammit.

White is at the center of a controversy during the Clinton administration concerning judicial nominations. Clinton nominated him to the Federal Bench, but John Ashcroft claimed White was soft on crime, a suggestion that is problematic given White’s record is similar to judges Ashcroft appointed on criminal matters. Ashcroft led a successful effort to defeat White.

During the 1998 Missouri Senate election, Kit Bond made overtures to many African-American leaders who were upset with Attorney General Jay Nixon’s attempts to end the desegregation settlement. Bond received the support of several prominent African Americans including Dr. Leslie Bond and Dr. Donald Suggs, publisher of the influential black weekly, The Saint Louis American. Part of the courting process by Bond was an assurance that Ronnie White would receive consideration. African-American supporters insist Bond told them he would vote for him, Bond and allies have suggested that White would get a fair shake, but not necessarily his vote. Whomever is technically correct, Bond miscalculated and angered the African-American community by voting against White, ensuring the nomination would be defeated.

Anger over Ronnie White helped push African-American turnout in St. Louis City during the 2000 election and certainly helped defeat John Ashcroft.

Running White against Bond would certainly improve black turnout in 2004. Many 1998 supporters are still sore over 2004 including Donald Suggs. In fact, the wound is especially deep for him because staff members warned him Bond might do exactly what he did.

While White would face an uphill battle defeating a long term incumbent, White might just enjoy the race. Bond would be a favorite, but as he gets older, a spirited race could be hard on him.

UP DATE: Of course, Deb Peterson reported this already in today’s column

Blagojevich Isn’t Biting on More Member Initiatives

According to Rich Miller at the Capitol Fax the Guv isn’t budging on pork,

Pork – One of the biggest budgetary sticking points still remaining is a fight over new money for member initiatives (pork). The legislative leaders want the authority to spend about $200 million on projects if the money becomes available. The governor has refused to budge so far.

And the St. Clair County connection comes in with a reference to Jerry Costello’s wife in the Regional Superintendents budget,

Regional Superintendents – The governor was asked during the Senate Democratic caucus meeting yesterday whether he would veto any of the budget after the General Assembly left town. The guv reportedly downplayed that possibility, but members said he did specifically mention that he was not happy that the Legislature had restored funding for regional superintendents of schools.

The comment surprised members, who thought the guv had backed off his plan to zero-fund the regional supers, many of whom have a lot of clout. One high-level employee in the St. Clair County Regional Superintendent’s office is married to Congressman Jerry Costello, and that alone was believed to have been enough to make the guv step off.

A Little Late, but Interesting

I haven’t followed this well, but Diane Komisky e-mailed me the following a few days ago. I’ll let you follow up on it.

The Illinois House said Friday Illinois taxpayers want to spend $2 million to open build two new prisons, but they don’t have the money to open one that was complete and ready to open more than a year ago. The empty prison is in Thomson, Carroll County, upstate Illinois (125 miles west of Chicago).

The House made the statement May 16 in a vote on House Bill 1733. An enraged Carroll County Board Chairman wrote the Governor and demanded the deed to the $140 million prison rather than allow it to continue to deteriorate. The state has been paying people to flush toilets and repair damages caused by allowing the 1800 cell prison to sit empty. For more, see or phone 815-493-2560.

To show that the people of upstate Illinois are as sophisticated as people
on the other end of North Avenue, Chicago, they are donning tuxes and
evening gowns tomorrow and making a "formal" statement to the governor from 3-7 p.m. At the Watermelon CafE9, a restaurant immediately east of the prison.

Is Blair Hull the new Arnold Maremont?

Not really.

But you ask, who the hell is Arnold Maremont?

Thanks for asking. Maremont was a Chicago industrialist who, according to Mike Royko, had the dream to be a U.S. Senator. The elder Daley had a view of the proper role of millionaires in the party according to Royko in Boss

Daley does not dislike millionaires. He lets them contribue to the party, sever on advisory boards, take on time-consuming appointments, and help elect Machine Democrats to office.

Maremeont had done it all. He contributed money, worked in Governor Kerner’s campaign, led a campaign to pass $150 million bond issue that revitalized the state’s mental health program, and pitched in on numerous liberal causes and mental health and welfare programs.

Royko describes how Maremont approached Daley about seeking the Democratic nomination,

…in early 1961 he went to Daley’s office and told him that he’d like to run against Sen. Everett Dirksen. He made it clear that he wanted to do it properly and not jump into the primary as a maverick. The Party’s blessing was what he was after.

Daley showed interest, but said he had certain reservations: mainly he wasn’t sure if downstate county chairman would support a Jew. He suggested that Maremont tour the state, talk to the county chairman, and indicated strongly that if Maremont made a good showing, he’d be Daley’s man.

Maremont pushed aside his business and civic work and spent most of the early summer barnstorming through Illinois. A spunky, brash man, he’d wlak into a bar in a tiny Sourthern Illinois town–grits and gravy countr–and announce: "My name’s Arnold Maremont. I want to run for the Senate and I’m a Jew." People seemed to like him, as he wolfed down chicken and peas dinners at the county meetings, charming little old ladies and picking up support from the chairmen.

All the while, he sent back regular reports to Daley: they will go for a Jew! Elated, he headed back to Chicago, ready to give Daley his final report and the good news. He got back in town just in time to pick up that day’s papers adn read that Daley had, indeed, decided to slate a Jewish Senatorial Candi DATE: Cong. Sidney Yates, a party regular.

That ended Maremont’s political ambitions. Furious, he was convinced that Daley had merely used him to conduct a free one-man survey of downstate Illinois. he wouldn’t have even tried had he ever heard Daley explain why he is so dedicated to a party man: "The party permits ordinary people to get ahead. Without the party, I couldn’t be mayor. The rich guys can get elected on their money, but somebody like me, an ordinary person, needs the party. Without the party, only the rich would be elected to office."

On the surface one can quibble about the comparison of Hull to Maremont, but it gets at the basic question of is (or was) Daley using Hull for his money while really pushing other candidates? Blair Hull is the multi-millionaire owner of Hull Trading Company, a very successful trading company in Chicago. A
campaign biography describes his past experiences as a union laborer and as a soldier. Beyond that he has been a strong supporter of the Democratic Party and various issues including the abortion rights. During the 2002 campaign, he provided significant support to Rod Blagojevich’s campaign including $75,000 of in-kind donations to fly Blagojevich around the state.

For the past few months, the background buzz is that Hull is Daley’s guy. With a wink and a nod people have insinuated that Hull had Daley in their corner. I’ve always been suspicious of this arrangment because Illinois politicians are never in someone’s corner if they do not say so, and even then, they are only in one’s corner half of the time. We can witness the knife still sticking out the back of Glenn Poshard and the ones on the ground that were aimed at Paul Vallas as he fled the state for better pastures. On the Republican side, moderates were more than happy to hang conservatives out to dry.

But more than that history, was the above story from Royko about the elder Daley’s view of money men in the Democratic Party. Maremont was convinced he was going to be Daley’s guy, all the while Daley was using him. But why did Daley need Hull? Money–and lots of it to ensure Daley had a friendly in the Governor’s office to ensure O’Hare was expanded and perhaps a land based casino was allowed in Chicago (or maybe not). The Democrats needed a sugar daddy to finance a strong Democratic showing in 2002 and Hull was willing to open the checkbook. He flew Blagojevich around the state during the campaign and contributed generously to candidates all the while Hull was at least allowing the rumor to continue that he was Daley’s guy in 2004.

And now is the time that Daley pulls the rug out from underneath him. While Daley is never known for being direct–well at least in anyway a mere mortal can understand (ed.—do you want me to take my pants down?) the message has become clear that Hull is not his guy according to people familiar with the campaign. Being Hizzoner isn’t what it used to be however, and Hull is in a fairly good position to still be competitive.

The bad news for Hull is that he did not seem to sense the game being played and that should probably be considered a bit naive, but understandable. From all accounts Hull is a honest guy who believes in his positions and if the worst thing to be said about him is that he is a bit naive about Illinois politics, that is hardly a disqualifying characteristic.

The not so good news is that John Simmons, a Metro-East Trial lawyer specializing in asbestos litigation is getting in the race and promising to spend $40 million to get elected, just as Hull has. Barack Obama’s campaign sent out a note this week quoting Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax, "’Barack Obama may benefit the most’" from a Simmons bid, which would split support among the candidates in populous Madison County -Simmons’ home." The full effect of Simmons entry and the fragmented field is hard to determine at this point, but the more that downstate labor and Democratic organization votes are split, the stronger Barack Obama is with a unified block of African-American votes.

The good news is that he has established the kind of operation that can probably exist beyond they Mayor pulling his support. Hull did something usually reserved for Presidential campaigns–he organized the cycle before and sent out at least 10 campaign workers to organize and help the Democratic operation around the state. Most frequently, such moves are made in Iowa and New Hampshire by potential Presidential candidates. While someone else may have done this previously, it hasn’t been done in Illinois at anywhere near the level he has. This provides him contacts and organizational capacity far exceeding other candidates who make their first run. And this is where he becomes very different from Arnold Maremont.

The better news is that he has millions to spend and isn’t shy about doing so. He is reported to be overpaying his staff, but that certainly has not hurt other millionaires such as Jon Corzine who was a bonanza for political professionals. Ultimately, money does not win an election as Al Hofeld found out, but it certainly can make a reasonable candidate competitive in a hurry.

So how competitive is Hull? It is hard to say this early. His name recognition is low since he has never run for office before and especially so since two of the most significant rivals, Dan Hynes and Maria Pappas, have high name recognition from running statewide twice in Hynes case and in Cook for Pappas. He certainly has the money to raise that name recognition in a hurry and seems to be on the verge of running the first round of commercials this summer.

Illinois is generally an organization state, meaning those with the strongest ties to party organizations tend to do best in elections. In this sense, Hull is behind Dan Hynes, the young Illinois Comptroller and son of Thomas Hynes, one of the most powerful Democrats in Cook County. Hynes is racking up support of County Chairmen around the state. The knock on Hynes is he has never faced a tough primary or general election fight and appears to be having difficulty raising money despite the machine support he is receiving. It appears that Hynes is running an inevitability campaign to push others out. While Hynes is in a strong position, the crowded field largely makes such a strategy ineffective. Hull should be considered an underdog, but not a prohibitive one given the early challenges Hynes is facing and the opportunities a crowded field hands to any candidate.

Death Penalty Reform Goes to the Guv

The Illinois Senate passed the Death Penalty Reforms with John Cullerton out in front,

The Senate voted 56-3 on the bill that makes it easier for murder suspects to defend themselves and gives courts extraordinary power to set aside death sentences.

"This is a revolutionary change that will be a model for other states that have the death penalty,” said Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the bill’s sponsor.

The legislation sent to Gov. Rod Blagojevich Thursday requires juries to consider more factors in deciding whether a defendant lives or dies, prohibits executing mentally retarded people, gives defendants more access to police evidence, lets judges file dissents from jury verdicts and gives the Supreme Court new power to set aside "unjust” sentences.

It also gives the accused greater access to genetic tests that might exonerate them and sets up a pilot program to study the best way to do police lineups of suspects.

The bill is good, and far better than I thought possible. In one of my few nods to the Legislature, they put aside petty political posturing in favor of strong reform that doesn’t perfect the system, but makes it better. There is always political hay to be made out of crime and punishment bills, but for the most part, Legislators did the right thing.

Premcor Suit

The State of Illinois is finally taking on Premcor and going after the Hartford refinery environmental problems. While Premcor wasn’t the primary owner when the problems started, they are the responsible party now. The RFT did a fairly good job on the issue previously.

This is the second refinery Premcor has had a problem with in the Midwest with Blue Island, Illinois being the other. In both cases, Premcor didn’t start the problems, but bought problem refineries and failed to adequately clean them up. The IEPA refused to act strongly, presumably because of concerns that jobs would be lost. What the IEPA missed is that the jobs should have been lost on outdated and dangerous refineries that had no business being on-line.

Don’t even start on the Port Arthur refinery.

Obama News

In their weekly mailer, a bit stripped from the Capitol Fax gives some insight into who Simmons entry into the Senate race benefits,

The recent entry into the Democratic U.S. Senate primary of a wealthy trial lawyer from Downstate should help Barack Obama’s chances, according to a number of political analysts this week. The candidacy of John Simmons, who has pledged to spend $10 million of his own money on the race, threatens the chances of Dan Hynes and Blair Hull – two Chicago-based candidates who are vying for Downstate support, analysts state. They add that Simmons’ entry should help Obama, whose campaign is focusing on Chicago and suburban voters and urban communities Downstate. For example, Rich Miller of Capitol Fax reported on May 21 that "Barack Obama may benefit the most" from a Simmons bid, which would split support among the candidates in populous Madison County -Simmons’ home.

IOW, Simmons will pick up votes in Metro-East that aren’t African-American and that seems to be an accurate prediction. The question is can Simmons have any impact at all.