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  • Breaking the Control Grid PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Wednesday, 07 January 2015 10:55

    So here we are, welcoming 2015, on the heels of another biennial national, state, and county election season. And whether one considers government spending at the national, state, or local level, we have an ever-increasing lack of fiscal sobriety. This is due mostly to a dangerously inactive populace, and it will not leave this country unscathed. Sadly, these are tired words of mine.

    With few exceptions, Americans re-elected bad actors and maintained the status quo in Congress and in state and county governments. This is mostly thanks to a brilliant two-party political system that so expertly marginalizes third-party alternatives. State ballot-access laws, corrupt courts, little to no scrutiny of election equipment and technology, and big special-interest money prevent third-party or independent candidates from gaining significant ground.

    And independent or third-party candidates’ ability to gain valuable mainstream-media exposure has only declined over the decades of media-ownership concentration. In 2009, Mother Jones published a graph showing 25 years of media mergers “from GE to NBC and Google to YouTube” resulting in only eight major holding companies that control the vast majority of what is today called news, plus the entertainment and print and digital publishing platforms that generate the content that dominates American media ownership (RCReader.com/y/motherjones). Columbia Journalism Review publishes a useful online directory of “what major media companies own” (CJR.org/resources), and that list has 72 companies. This is roughly one controlling company for every 4 million Americans. When one is trying to control the messaging about the benefits of the two-party system, the lion’s share of campaign funds raised during elections goes to these relatively few media outlets. It is the bread and butter of corporate media, gladly disseminating the gamut of propaganda necessary to maintain the control grid.

     
    Iraq War Stories: An Army Nurse’s Perspective PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy and Ann Hochhausen   
    Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:02

    Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ann HochhausenOn November 9, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Davenport hosted a most compelling presentation by retired Lieutenant Colonel Ann Hochhausen – Colonel Ho as she is affectionately called. This 27-year veteran in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps shared her experiences and perspective as chief nurse of the 28th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) in Tikrit, Iraq, during 2003 and 2004.

    Colonel Ho’s one-year odyssey included serving as one of two chief nurses, in split operations, in large canvas-tent hospitals resourced and manned for 200 beds. This all took place in a hostile desert where they performed more than 1,000 surgeries over just the first four months. The 28th CSH provided care for more than 21,000 coalition military personnel and Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war in the course of its one-year deployment. With her specialty skills in obstetrics and gynecology, Colonel Ho was a rarity in that theater, and she was awarded the Bronze Star for her care of pregnant Iraqi women and their unborn children.

    Most Americans cannot fathom the harsh and brutal environment in which the 28th CSH provided compassionate and expert medical care for U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians and combatants alike. Our notions of war have been glorified and sanitized to prevent triggering the American people’s collective outrage for such impossible conditions and horrific results.

    Colonel Ho’s perspective is critical in conveying the feelings and realities that our military personnel deal with – not just during service, but for the rest of their lives.

     
    Holst and Narcisse Offer Unprecedented Opportunities to Voters PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Tuesday, 28 October 2014 16:17

    This midterm election provides voters in Iowa with two unprecedented opportunities to empower critical accountability at both the local and statewide levels.

    First, five years ago a concerned citizen, Diane Holst, began attending Scott County Board of Supervisors meetings because she wanted to better understand where her tax dollars were being spent. The more she attended, the more she realized that not all is what it seems relative to county business. Typically the lone attendee from the community, she witnessed processes that were vague and confusing. So she decided to research the agenda items and familiarize herself before making inquiries. It soon became obvious that most of the business is conducted by staff behind the scenes, away from public scrutiny or input, with very little oversight by supervisors beyond showing up during board meetings and approving what is put in front of them.

     
    A Potent Tool for Reform: Narcisse and The Iowa Party PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Todd McGreevy   
    Wednesday, 15 October 2014 11:58

    Jonathan Narcisse

    If you’re an independent candidate for governor in Iowa, you know you’re getting traction when your message earns the support of county chairs from both major parties across the state. Your campaign must be striking powerful chords when you get endorsements from both conservative talk-radio hosts and liberal-activist leaders alike.

    Jonathan Narcisse is running for governor again. (I have volunteered for and contributed to his campaign.) And if he garners at least 2 percent of Iowa’s vote, the Iowa Party will have official party status, which means automatic ballot access for all partisan elections for the next four years. The potency of this political weapon cannot be overstated.

    Narcisse points out that partisan politics is the tail that wags the dog in Iowa, keeping voters distracted on presidential and national politics rather than focusing on how citizens’ tax dollars are extracted and spent in their hometowns, school districts, and counties – right where they live.

    (This was never more evident than when, at the Scott County Republican Party board election, the central committee was told repeatedly by the leadership: “We don’t deal with issues here; we’re here to get good Republicans elected.”)

    “The Occupy and Tea Party movements championed their causes through the Democrat and Republican parties, but after they helped get someone elected, they had no mechanism to hold them accountable,” says Narcisse. “The Iowa Party is not ideologically driven; it is an accountability party.” If Narcisse succeeds, the Iowa Party could be the “None of the Above” party that changes Iowa politics forever.

     
    Common Core Curricula Have Core Problems PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:09

    The next generation of top-down central planning for a federal K-12 education curriculum, Common Core, is now in full swing in Iowa and Illinois public and private school systems. Despite the rhetoric that claims otherwise, the Common Core standards are not (1) internationally benchmarked, (2) based upon scientific research that is documented and peer-reviewed, (3) created by the nation’s governors, state school officials, and legislatures with full transparency, or (4) owned by American taxpayers.

    The Common Core curriculum is entirely experimental, with no evidence or history of efficacy whatsoever. Nearly all the supporting data for Common Core comes from reports written by its sponsors – the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO) – and lacks any true objectivity. This is of particular note considering that all the K-12 education models previously used in American education not only adhered to best practices supported by decades of proven scientific research but also underwent continual refinement based upon the latest scientific revelations in learning processes. In other words, it evolved under great scrutiny.

    The three primary authors are David Coleman, Susan Pimental, and Jason Zimba, founders of Student Achievement Partners. None of these authors has a background in any of the academic disciplines they wrote standards for. In a speech before the Learning Institute in 2011, Coleman admitted: “We were a collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards” (RCReader.com/y/core1). He likened their collaboration to a group at a bar with a napkin.

    The result is that Common Core is turning nearly every classroom in America into one gigantic experiment. The teachers themselves are unprepared to teach the new Common Core curriculum and must undergo extensive retraining at enormous taxpayer expense. Because Common Core is being implemented in 45 states, an entire generation is in jeopardy if the system proves the failure many predict it will be. For a well-rounded critique based on scholastic studies (versus pure rhetoric claiming rigorous standards) that informs the debate about the deficiencies abundant in Common Core, read Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-Less Decision Making by Christopher H. Tienken (RCReader.com/y/core2).

     
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