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GOP Positioning Shows Republicans Ceding Gay-Marriage Issue PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 05:08

You can always tell when somebody is losing an argument because they are constantly backtracking and recalibrating. And it’s no different with gay marriage.

Back in January, for instance, newly elected state Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) freely admitted that gay marriage was at the heart of his desire to oust state GOP Chair Pat Brady, who’d recently announced his support for a Senate bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I believe we have to have a meeting to ask Pat for an explanation, to modify his actions or get a new CEO,” Oberweis told the Kane County Chronicle back then. “Our CEO has taken very open, public action contrary to the organization, and that’s unacceptable.”

Immediately, however, more-moderate GOP leaders pushed back hard against Oberweis, saying that ousting the party’s chair over gay marriage would send absolutely the wrong message to the voting public, which was coming around fast to supporting the issue. Young people, in particular, counted themselves as strong supporters of the concept, so the old ways of staunchly advocating outdated policies would continue to stunt the party’s potential growth.

 
How the News Media Betrayed Us on Iraq PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 16:34

The 10th anniversary of the start of America’s illegal and aggressive war against Iraq should not pass without recalling that the mainstream news media eagerly participated in the Bush administration’s dishonest campaign for public support. It is no exaggeration to say that most news operations were little more than extensions of the White House Office of Communications. Abandoning even the pretense of an adversarial relationship with the government, the media became shameful conduits for unsubstantiated and outright false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged threat to the American people. Included among the falsehoods were reports that Saddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, had trained al-Qaeda fighters, and had attempted to obtain uranium ore and aluminum tubes for nuclear bombs.

Put bluntly, the disastrous invasion of Iraq – which was sold on the basis of lies told by President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and others – might not have happened without the enthusiastic help of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and others. The blood of more than a hundred thousand – perhaps more than a million – Iraqis and 4,500 Americans is on their hands, too.

 
House Does Some Heavy Lifting (Finally) on Pension Reform PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 31 March 2013 05:26

As it turns out, Illinois House Democrats didn’t need Republicans to put 30 votes on a significant pension-reform bill.

There’s been worry for at least two years that the Democrats would have to rely heavily on Republicans to get anything out of the chamber and that maybe even 30 Republican votes – half the required 60-vote majority – wouldn’t be enough to pass a pension-reform bill.

But 41 House Democrats voted for a bill this month that severely whacked retirees’ annual cost-of-living increases. Just 25 Republicans voted for the bill – five votes fewer than they’ve repeatedly said they had for a significant pension-reform proposal.

The measure would cap annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) at $750 or 3 percent, whichever is less. That change has the impact of limiting COLAs to only the first $25,000 of annual pension income. Anyone who makes less than $25,000 would continue to receive compounded increases until the cap is hit.

The proposal also forces retirees to wait until they either are 67 years old or have been retired at least five years to receive their annual COLAs.

 
University-Trustee Battles Sap Energy from Important Efforts PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Monday, 25 March 2013 08:01

A recent meeting between Metro East legislators and Governor Pat Quinn’s staff turned heated at times, and as a result nothing was accomplished in the standoff over Quinn’s appointments to the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees.

The governor’s three appointments to SIU’s board were unanimously rejected by the Senate in late February – the first time anybody I’ve talked to can remember anything like that happening. But the governor has doubled down instead of compromising.

Quinn replaced three members with close ties to the university’s Edwardsville campus, which is near St. Louis. For years, governors followed a “gentleman’s agreement” that gave the Edwardsville campus three of the governor’s seven nominated members. That agreement has coincided with explosive growth at the formerly backwater campus, so locals are loath to go back to the old days of being treated as the redheaded stepchild of the Carbondale campus. Just one of Quinn’s new appointments had connections to Metro East, a complete unknown who applied for the trustee post on the Internet.

 
Seventeen Benefits of the War on Drugs PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Kevin Carson   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 05:37

With American drug-use levels essentially the same as – and levels of drug-related violence either the same as or lower than – those in countries such as the Netherlands with liberal drug laws, public support for the War on Drugs appears to be faltering. This was most recently evidenced in the victory of major drug-decriminalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Some misguided commentators go so far as to say the Drug War is “a failure.” Here, to set the record straight, are 17 ways in which it is a resounding success.

1) It has surrounded the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” restrictions, and similar provisions in state constitutions, with so many “good faith,” “reasonable suspicion,” and “reasonable expectation of privacy” loopholes as to turn them into toilet paper for all intents and purposes.

2) In so doing, it has set precedents that can be applied to a wide range of other missions, such as the War on Terror.

3) It has turned drug stores and banks into arms of the state that constantly inform on their customers.

 
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