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River Cities' Reader- Issue 827 - April 4, 2013

River Cities' Reader- Issue 827 - April 4, 2013

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River Cities' Reader- Issue 827 - April 4, 2013
River Cities' Reader- Issue 827 - April 4, 2013

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Published by: River Cities Reader on Apr 03, 2013
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River Cities’ Reader 
• Vol.
20
No. 827 • April 4 - 17, 2013
2
Business • Politics • Arts • Culture • Now You Know • RiverCitiesReader.com
factories run by militarist right-wing mediawatchdogs ensure this will be the case.Moreover, being branded un-American fordoubting a president’s case for war may leadto viewer or reader boycotts, which in turnmay lead to pressure from advertisers. Thus,the corporate bottom line played a role.Another factor is the simple truth thatwar makes better news than peace. Noone wins a Pulitzer Prize for being a peacecorrespondent. We must not underestimatethis as a motive for favoring war.Finally, we can’t overlook that many in themedia were simply motivated by nationalismand deference to the state with its dazzlingwar technology.This story of media malfeasance wouldbe bad enough if it were just history.Unfortunately, even as media figures now issue mea culpas about their shameful Iraq“coverage,” they are engaged in precisely thesame shoddy business with respect to Iranand its alleged but unproven nuclear-weaponsprogram.
Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF.org) in Virginia.
GUEST COMMENTARY 
Times
,
Washington Post 
,
Wall Street Journal 
,ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, FoxNews, and others. The blood of more thana hundred thousand – perhaps more than amillion – Iraqis and 4,500 Americans is ontheir hands, too.Today, like the Bush-administrationalumni attempting to duck responsibility,the media blame “bad intelligence” fortheir conduct. But that will not wash. Thedissenting reports of Knight Ridder’s WarrenStrobel and Jonathan Landay, along with a very few others, show definitively that in2002 and 2003, solid intelligence informationundermining every propagandisticadministration claim was readily available toanyone willing to use traditional reportingtechniques. Strobel and Landay were mostly ignored. On the rare occasions when the
NewYork Times
or
Washington Post 
reported onthe doubts intelligence personnel had aboutthe Bush narrative, the stories were burieddeep in the paper. (See Bill Moyers’s special“Buying the War” and Greg Mitchell’s book 
Wrong for So Long 
.)The media did not merely pass alongbaseless assertions; the television channelsalso attempted to shape public opinion with
T
he 10th anniversary of the start of America’s illegal and aggressive waragainst Iraq should not pass withoutrecalling that the mainstream news mediaeagerly participated in the Bush administra-tion’s dishonest campaign for public support.It is no exaggeration to say that most newsoperations were little more than extensionsof the White House Office of Communica-tions. Abandoning even the pretense of anadversarial relationship with the govern-ment, the media became shameful conduitsfor unsubstantiated and outright falseinformation about Saddam Hussein’s allegedthreat to the American people. Includedamong the falsehoods were reports thatSaddam had a hand in the 9/11 attacks, hadtrained al-Qaeda fighters, and had attemptedto obtain uranium ore and aluminum tubesfor nuclear bombs.Put bluntly, the disastrous invasion of Iraq– which was sold on the basis of lies told by President George W. Bush, Vice-PresidentDick Cheney, Secretary of State ColinPowell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice,and others – might not have happenedwithout the enthusiastic help of the
New York
How the News Media Betrayed Us on Iraq
by Sheldon Richman
a biased selection of guests. Pro-war voicesabounded, while informed war skeptics werescarce. Even when an opponent of war wasfeatured, he or she had to share the timewith a pro-war advocate, yet the pro-warside was often featured unchallenged. As thewar became regarded as inevitable, the cablenews channels shifted almost exclusively tomilitary analysis, as though the question wasno longer whether the nation ought to go towar, but rather
how
it would be fought. Many of the retired generals who were presentedas objective experts had seats on the boardsof defense contractors and were gettingPentagon briefings.What motivated those who covered therun-up to the Iraq invasion this way? Severalfactors were surely at work. Groupthink andthe fear of going out on a limb must haveplayed a large role. The vaunted courageof journalists is more pose than fact. (Thismakes the work of Strobel and Landay, PhilDonahue of MSNBC until he was canceled,and Bob Simon of CBS’s
60 Minutes
allthe more admirable.) “Pack journalism” isreinforced by a fear that reports suggestingskepticism about a military action willbe interpreted as unpatriotic. The smear
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River Cities’ Reader 
• Vol.
20
No. 827 • April 4 - 17, 2013
3
Business • Politics • Arts • Culture • Now You Know • RiverCitiesReader.com
retirements.As Madigan’s proposals gradually becamemore reasonable over the weeks, they beganpassing. At first, the Republicans refused toparticipate at all, saying they didn’t want toparticipate in a “piecemeal” process. But they have been voting on the measures for the pastfew weeks.Three significant billshave passed the Houseso far, including the onementioned above. Theother two would raise theretirement age and cappensionable incomes at$113,000. Taken together,proponents say the threeproposals will save the state$100 billion over the next30 years and knock $20billion to $21 billion off the systems’ unfundedliability.Some big questions remain. Thehuge pension-reform bill sponsored by Representative Elaine Nekritz, HouseRepublican Leader Tom Cross, and SenatorDaniel Biss includes some of the same reformsas the three bills that have already passed,particularly the COLA language. But there isalso language guaranteeing state funding by allowing people to sue if the state doesn’t makeits payments, which has picked up oppositionfrom some business groups and Republicangubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. There’sno word yet on whether Madigan will allow a vote on the full Nekritz bill, or whether hewill revisit his proposal for a far more robustcost-shift plan.And, of course, there’s also a question of constitutionality. Reform proponents say they hope the courts will recognize that Illinois isin a crisis and cut the General Assembly someslack when interpreting the Constitution’sspecific language outlawing any reductionsin benefits. But that’s pretty much the sameargument used when the General Assembly approved medical-malpractice-reform billsthat ended up being shot down by the courts.So we’ll see.Either way, some truly heavy lifting wasdone in the House, at least as far as retireebenefits go. Madigan’s reform bill received sixmore votes than needed for passage. So thetopic is apparently not as radioactive as many had feared, or threatened, depending on yourperspective. And Madigan clearly showed thathe can do this without relying on Republicansto come up with 30 votes.
Rich Miller also publishes
Capitol Fax
(a daily  political newsletter) and CapitolFax.com.
ILLINOIS POLITICS
A
s it turns out, Illinois House Demo-crats didn’t need Republicans to put 30 votes on a significant pension-reformbill.There’s been worry for at least two yearsthat the Democrats would have to rely heavily on Republicans to get anything out of thechamber and that maybeeven 30 Republican votes– half the required 60-votemajority – wouldn’t beenough to pass a pension-reform bill.But 41 HouseDemocrats voted for abill in March that severely whacked retirees’ annualcost-of-living increases.Just 25 Republicans votedfor the bill – five votesfewer than they’ve repeatedly said they had fora significant pension-reform proposal.The measure would cap annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) at $750 or 3percent, whichever is less. That change hasthe impact of limiting COLAs to only the first$25,000 of annual pension income. Anyonewho makes less than $25,000 would continueto receive compounded increases until the capis hit.The proposal also forces retirees to waituntil they either are 67 years old or have beenretired at least five years to receive their annualCOLAs.Cost-of-living raises have been targetedfrom the get-go as the biggest pension costdriver. Every major piece of pension-reformlegislation has included at least some limitson COLAs. Senate President John Cullerton’sproposal, for instance, would take COLAsaway entirely, but only if retirees elect tocontinue having access to government-subsidized health-insurance premiums.Speaking of Cullerton: As long as hecontinues to insist that the final pension-reform bill include his “consideration”language to ensure that at least part of thelegislation is constitutional (in his opinion,at least), don’t expect this House proposal togo anywhere when it arrives in the Senate.Cullerton believes that to take away pensionbenefits, something has to be offered in returnbecause the Constitution deems pensions asolemn contract that cannot be diminished orimpaired.Anyway, it turns out that this pension-reform thing wasn’t so difficult after all. MaybeHouse Speaker Michael Madigan’s strategy worked; he started with outlandish proposals,including one to require employees to chipin several percent more per year for their
by Rich MillerCapitolFax.com
House Does Some Heavy Lifting(Finally) on Pension Reform
The topic isapparently not as radioactiveas many had  feared.
Johannes Brahms’
EIN DEUTSCHES REQUIEM 
Handel Oratorio Societyand Augustana Symphony OrchestraClaire Kuttler,
soprano
 Saul Nache,
baritone
 
Saturday, April 208 p.m.Augustana College | Centennial Hall
$20 adults, $16 seniors, $10 students
Free tickets are available to middle and high school students and theirfamilies due to a generous grant from the Meredith Foundation.
Visit augustana.edu/tickets or call (309) 794-7306

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