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The [Thursday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

This week has been a clusterfuck, and I'm running so far behind that I think time is actually going backwards. Or something like that.

So first a few links, and then I'll let stalwart Beachwood contributors David Rutter and Scott Buckner take over.

1. The Missing Link To Daley? Blago witness knows where the bodies are buried.

2. $1 Million Loop Lab Blunder Goes Up In Smoke. Put it on Blago's bill.

3. Rewind: Some ideas for the Old Post Office.

4. The Return of Man-Ram. And what the trade deadline could mean to you. In Fantasy Fix.

5. From David Rutter:

At one time, the practice of criminal law in Illinois was so devoid of clear moral standards that even a governor as ethically challenged as George Ryan realized he'd have to stop capital punishment or else not be able to look at himself in the mirror.

There were dozens of post-mortems - so to speak - about why the Illinois legal profession had lost its bearings to such a degree that it could not guarantee it was not regularly executing innocent defendants.

Now we have the latest in a decade of justice-light capital cases.

Ronald Kitchen and Marvin Reeves were set free this week after serving more than two decades in prison for five murders they almost certainly didn't do. The convictions were partly the result of the Jon Burge School of Torture (will Chicago never rid itself of that stain?) as well as prosecutors who fudged on the evidence.

Now we have another slice from the pie.

Why, you might ask yourself, did no one but do-gooder legal outsiders rise up against the Iranian-style court proceedings of the last 30 years, other than the obvious reason that most of the defendants were black? Why did judges, prosecutors and lawyers from all over the state not rise up to stop it?

One answer comes this week from the University of Illinois School of Law and many of its eminent teachers.

In the case of the "Category I" academic bypass into the U of I, they contend that some corruption is better than a lot of corruption (The "it's small potatoes" theorem). And because corruption is everywhere, in essence it's not necessary to stand on principle unless you actually have a principle. That's too hard and besides, we'll fix corruption if it ever gets too big. In this script, the universe is one large morally ambiguous pot of goo.

For everyone in Illinois who still can't grasp the cost of corruption or why it is a creeping, deadly virus, behold the dotted lines.

Would we find comfort that doctors are taught not to fret about the few they might kill with indifference and lack of skill, as long as most of their patients are saved?

Do we not really care that some priests are pedophiles as long as most of them aren't?

Were U of I's professors of law inadvertently passing unchallenged under the very same moral bar that made it acceptable to execute a few innocent defendants as long as most of them were guilty?

We repeat what we are taught. While U of I Law School was teaching law, it was also employing a pastel palette of public principles. The school of law that spoke this week is the same one that trained generations of prosecutors and attorneys and helped shape their views of what is right and what is not.

Corruption in Illinois? Just small potatoes.

6. From Scott Buckner:

So here I am up at 6 a.m. reading all the news that the Internet finds fit to print - beyond what I might find interesting in the Craigslist Personals posted overnight - when I run across this Yahoo! News item announcing this little nugget of information that may be important to any of us silly enough to be looking forward to an America free of its dependence on oil and corporate greed anytime within our lifetime.

For those of you who may be too damn lazy or too uninterested to click on the link we have so generously provided, the Wall Street Journal reports that multi-gazillionaire T. Boone Pickens has announced that he's giving a big fuck-you to his vision of an America powered by wind because "of the lack of adequate transmission lines to carry the electricity from remote locations to cities."

I'm not sure whether it matters that T. Boone Pickens became a gazillionaire by making his fortune from the oil industry, but still. Said Yahoo, quoting the Journal: "The oil tycoon had hoped to build new transmission lines but could not secure financing, the paper said. Pickens plans to find new homes for the turbines that he already agreed to buy, the paper said, citing a statement."

Good fucking Lord. The United States government - which during the Great Depression was basically broke and homeless - somehow managed to scrape up the Tennessee Valley Authority so every backwater town between Atlanta and the entire state of Kentucky might eventually stop trying to communicate with the outside world by banging two rocks together. Today, the United States government - which is even more broke and homeless than it was in 1932 - has a president with a vision of everyone in this country telling the Middle East to kiss its big, gluttonous ass by powering everything it owns by twirling a red plastic propeller attached to a big rubber band and a few pieces of balsa wood.

Which would be all fine and dandy if simple ideas actually worked in our complex world. Maybe they do. After all, Louis Pasteur helped eradicate many of the world's complex problems with the simple idea that we'd all be better off if everyone just took a little bit of soap and washed their hands.

Still, the world's a complicated place filled with simple people who just want to complicate the hell out of everything. So now - with the presidential race over (along with captive TV audience for T. Boone Pickens to pitch his vision for an America free of oil dependence through wind power), we seem to be stuck with a whole farm of fans big enough to keep the Jolly Green Giant cool.

"Pickens plans to find new homes for the turbines that he already agreed to buy, the paper said, citing a statement," said Yahoo! News. My guess is those new homes will be one of America's finer scrapyards because, well, there's just no return on your failed dollar when you go landfilling the damn things.

All because T. Boone Pickens swears there isn't a single bunch of citizens, a captain of industry, or some muckety-muck in the United States government - which somehow managed to send a dozen or so men to the moon and save the entire free world's financial system from total chaos and doom in a single weekend - can't manage to cobble together what amounts to two tin cans with a length of string.

Funny fucking world we live in these days. Hopefully I'll be dead before I actually have to start giving a shit what becomes of it.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Like tin cans and string.



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Posted on July 9, 2009


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