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How the News Media Betrayed Us on Iraq PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - 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.

 
Seventeen Benefits of the War on Drugs PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - 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.

 
Davenport Schools Shouldn’t Contract Out Custodial and Security Services PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Dave Stage and Jim Young   
Friday, 08 March 2013 09:55

As the Davenport Community School District considers a proposal to contract out custodial services and campus security, we want to make sure that parents and citizens know who we are, why we are an integral part of Davenport schools, and why contracting out would not be beneficial for our students, their families, and the public.

We have deep roots in this community and this school district. You may know us as Dave, the former wrestling and football coach, or Mr. Jim, the guy who volunteers to be the “dunkee” for the dunk tank that raises money for McKinley School at the Fall Festival. Between the two of us, we have almost 60 years of custodial experience: Dave, a Marine Corps veteran, has worked for Davenport schools for almost 30 years, and Jim started his career with Davenport schools in 1985; he helped open up North High on its first ever day of school. We have given our lives to this district. Many custodians and campus-security staff have children that attended or currently attend Davenport schools. Like us, many of our fellow custodians are heavily involved in school-related activities like Dad’s Club, Scouts, Boosters Club, and bake sales.

 
The U.S. Supreme Court: Architects of the American Police State PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:16

“The unspoken power dynamics in a police/civilian encounter will generally favor the police, unless the civilian is a local sports hero, the mayor, or a giant who is impervious to bullets.” – Journalist Justin Peters

From time to time throughout history, individuals have been subjected to charges (and eventual punishment) by accusers whose testimony was treated as infallible and inerrant. Once again, we find ourselves repeating history, only this time, it’s the police whose testimony is too often considered beyond reproach and whose accusations have the power to render one’s life over.

In the police state being erected around us, the police can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts. Making matters worse, however, police dogs – cute, furry, tail-wagging mascots with a badge – have now been elevated to the ranks of inerrant, infallible, sanctimonious accusers with the power of the state behind them. This is largely due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Florida V. Harris, in which the court declared roadside stops to be Constitution-free zones where police may search our vehicles based upon a hunch and the presence of a frisky canine.

This is what one would call a slow death by a thousand cuts, only it’s the Fourth Amendment being inexorably bled to death. This latest wound, in which a unanimous Supreme Court determined that police officers may use drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops, comes on the heels of recent decisions by the court that give police the green light to taser defenseless motorists, strip-search nonviolent suspects arrested for minor incidents, and break down people’s front doors without evidence that they have done anything wrong.

 
The Magician’s Con: Renewing FISA and the NDAA Under Cover of the Fiscal Cliff Debates PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 13:44

“If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” – Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

What characterizes American government today is not so much dysfunctional politics as it is ruthlessly contrived governance carried out behind the entertaining, distracting, and disingenuous curtain of political theatre. And what political theatre it is, diabolically Shakespearean at times, full of sound and fury yet in the end signifying nothing.

Played out on the national stage and eagerly broadcast to a captive audience by media sponsors, this farcical exercise in political theatre can, at times, seem riveting, life-changing, and suspenseful, even for those who know better. Week after week, the script changes – the presidential election, the budget crisis, the fiscal cliff, the Benghazi hearings, the gun-control debate – with each new script following on the heels of the last, never any letup, never any relief from the constant melodrama.

The players come and go, the protagonists and antagonists trade places, and the audience members are forgiving to a fault, quick to forget past mistakes and move on to the next spectacle. All the while, a different kind of drama is unfolding in the dark backstage, hidden from view by the heavy curtain, elaborate stage sets, colored lights, and parading actors.

 
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