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Rauner’s “Wedge” Pledge Has Yet to Divide Democrats PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 07 February 2016 05:13

Last week, a reporter said to Governor Bruce Rauner that Secretary of State Jesse White had suggested that Rauner bring in former governors, including George Ryan, to help break the long governmental impasse that has prevented the state from having a budget for more than seven months.

Rauner laughed and said, “Uh, wow.”

The governor clearly did not take the suggestion seriously.

“I’m not gonna talk about the failures of the past that created this mess,” Rauner said through chuckles. “I focus on the future. I don’t live in the past. We’ve had failure in our elected government for decades. This mess didn’t happen overnight. And what we’re not gonna do is reproduce the dynamic that created it.” The governor laughed throughout most of that last sentence.

Bringing in graybeards has been tried before without success. Governor Rod Blagojevich asked former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and then-Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard to town to help him pass his massive construction proposal that Speaker Michael Madigan refused to agree to. It didn’t work. The two men left town as soon as they realized how hardened Madigan’s position had become against Blagojevich.

While former governors have been through similar troubles, nothing really compares to today’s self-inflicted disaster. Madigan and Blagojevich played hardball, but the game is exponentially meaner now.

Time to End the Iowa Caucuses PDF Print E-mail
Letters to the Editor
Written by Mark J. Riley   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 09:39

On the first of February, the CEOs of corporations, small- and large-business owners, police chiefs, city leaders, pastors and priests, government and state workers, owners of trucking companies and convenience stores, and farmers participated in the Iowa Caucuses.

They will help select the next POTUS, who will probably appoint four Supreme Court justices, who will rule on labor laws affecting workers. They will select the next executive who will enforce immigration policy or not, prosecute crime, and lead our military as well as execute agricultural policy.

That is where the sinister elitism and downright undemocratic process of the Iowa Caucuses will rear their ugly heads. The people most affected by the selection of the chief executive will have no voice in this process. Sure, farmers caucus for candidates supporting ethanol because farmers are free at 7 p.m. on a February night. The majority of factory workers, truck drivers, active-duty military, railroad workers, cops, firemen, and nurses working second shift will have no voice. They pay taxes to the State of Iowa and the federal government. They are forced to buy the ethanol but have no vote. “Taxation without representation” was a battle cry that launched the founding of this country. We who are not of the professional class, who work, will have no representation.

It is time to end this tyranny of voter suppression by both political parties and allow the votes of every Iowa worker to be heard. It is time to end the caucus and enact voting procedures that allow for everyone to participate. By allowing every Iowan to vote, we will make Iowa a more representative state rather than the coronation of the elite and the special interest.

Mark J. Riley

Congratulations on 900 Issues PDF Print E-mail
Letters to the Editor
Written by Michael McCarty   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 09:31

Congratulations on the 900th issue of the River Cities' Reader. Keep up the great work on covering the arts and entertainment, news, and politics of the bi-state area, as you have for the last 22 years.

I was a contributing editor for the first six months of publication but had to leave to pursue my writing career (up to getting book number 37 published soon).

Again, congrats!

Michael McCarty

Television, Football, and Politics: Gaming Spectacles Designed to Keep the Police State in Power PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 08:53
“Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Professor Neil Postman

If there are two spectacles that are almost guaranteed to render Americans passive viewers, incapable of doing little more than cheering on their respective teams, it’s football and politics – specifically, the Super Bowl and the quadrennial presidential election.

Both football and politics encourage zealous devotion among their followers, both create manufactured divisions that alienate one group of devotees from another, and both result in a strange sort of tunnel vision that leaves the viewer oblivious to anything else going on around them apart from the “big game.”

Both football and politics are televised, big-money, advertising-driven exercises in how to cultivate a nation of armchair enthusiasts who are content to sit, watch, and be entertained, all the while convincing themselves that they are active contributors to the outcome. Even the season schedules are similar in football and politics: the weekly playoffs, the blow-by-blow recaps, the betting pools and speculation, the conferences, and then the final big championship game.

In the same way, both championship events are costly entertainment extravaganzas that feed the nation’s appetite for competition, consumerism, and carnival-esque stunts. In both scenarios, cities bid for the privilege of hosting key athletic and political events. For example, San Francisco had to raise close to $50 million just to host the 50th Super Bowl, with its deluxe stadium, Super Bowl City, free fan village, interactive theme park, and free Alicia Keys concert, not including the additional $5-million cost to taxpayers for extra security. Likewise, it costs cities more than $60 million to host the national presidential-nominating conventions for the Republicans and Democrats.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with enjoying the entertainment that is football or politics.

However, where we go wrong as a society is when we become armchair quarterbacks, so completely immersed in the Big Game or the Big Campaign that we are easily controlled by the powers-that-be – the mega-corporations that run both shows – and oblivious to what is really going on around us.

Understandin’ the Governor’s Odd Speech Pattern PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 31 January 2016 05:03

Every time Governor Bruce Rauner gives a major speech, social media (and even mass media) light him up over the way he drops his “g”s at the end of words.

He’s workin’ and doin’ his best and shakin’ up Springfield, or whatever.

Last year, after his first State of the State Address, Illinois Public Radio even interviewed a language expert about whether he was doin’ this on purpose.

It does seem contrived. Rauner was educated at Ivy League schools, after all, and worked in some of the highest echelons in business. If you listen to any of his speeches in the years before he ran for governor, you’ll notice that he talked back then like an educated Midwesterner.

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