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Judge Denies Homeowners Their Due Process PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Scott E. Stafne   
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 08:54

Editor’s note: While the following blog posting from Washington attorney Scott Stafne (born and raised in Bettendorf, and online at concerns Washington state jurisdiction, it is still highly instructive for all of us on how the courts contribute to foreclosure inequities, resulting in the destruction of not only the middle class but of property rights under our Constitution.

In Washington state, there are thousands of families having their homes fraudulently foreclosed on, most without due process from the courts – which are tasked with protecting due process under the state and federal constitutions. Recently an appeals judge in Washington ruled in favor of bypassing due process, further enabling nonjudicial foreclosures.

Nonjudicial foreclosures allow a lender to foreclose on a property without a court proceeding. The only way for an owner to fight this type of foreclosure is to file a lawsuit. Often, nonjudicial foreclosures occur without the participation, or even knowledge, of the owners(s). Only 32 states permit nonjudicial foreclosures. While Iowa and Illinois are not among them, Iowa has a provision known as “alternative nonjudicial foreclosure,” which permits the owner(s) to request a nonjudicial foreclosure to avoid court (

It is important to understand these remedies that exist for lenders and how they impact property owners’ rights, because legislators could eventually allow their use without us (Iowans and Illinoisans) knowing, especially if we are not paying attention. Most mortgages contain language that provides mortgagees’ consent to these remedies, but sadly most buyers are clueless about what they are actually agreeing to.

Keep Your Hands Off My Raisins: Court Invalidates Antiquated Raisin Grab PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John A. Sparks   
Friday, 17 July 2015 08:03

Laura and Marvin Horne are raisin farmers. Early one morning in 2002, a truck appeared at their business, and the drivers demanded a whopping 47 percent of their raisin crop. The truck was sent by the federal government, and those demanding the Hornes’ raisin crop claimed to be operating under a “marketing order” first put in place in 1937 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s effort to shore up agricultural prices. Amazingly, this antiquated scheme lasted for more than 65 years – well past the agricultural crisis of the Great Depression.

By 2002, the Hornes had endured enough of these raisin grabs. They refused to turn over nearly half of their crop. The federal government assessed a fine of $480,000 for the missing raisins and another $200,000 in civil penalties against the Hornes. The Hornes fought the government through the courts and finally landed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Death Penalty: The Ultimate Corrupt, Big-Government Program PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Ron Paul   
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 05:00

Nebraska’s legislature recently made headlines when it ended the state’s death penalty. Many found it odd that a conservatives-dominated legislature would support ending capital punishment, since conservative politicians have traditionally supported the death penalty. However, an increasing number of conservatives are realizing that the death penalty is inconsistent with both fiscal and social conservatism. These conservatives are joining with libertarians and liberals in a growing anti-death-penalty coalition.

It is hard to find a more wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty. New Hampshire recently spent more than $4 million prosecuting just two death penalty cases, while Jasper County in Texas raised property taxes by 7 percent to pay for one death-penalty case! A Duke University study found that replacing North Carolina’s death penalty would save taxpayers approximately $22 million in just two years.

Death-penalty cases are expensive because sentencing someone to death requires two trials. The first trial determines the accused person’s guilt, while the second trial determines if the convicted individual “deserves” the death penalty. A death sentence is typically followed by years of appeals, and sometimes the entire case is retried.

Despite all the time and money spent to ensure that no one is wrongly executed, the system is hardly foolproof. Since 1973, one out of every 10 individuals sentenced to death has been released from death row because of evidence discovered after conviction.

In 2016, Let’s Have Real Presidential Debates PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Thomas L. Knapp   
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 08:50

Every four years, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) puts on a series of campaign commercials disguised as presidential and vice-presidential debates.

The CPD is, in theory, a not-for-profit organization “established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

But the CPD is really just a scam the Republican and Democratic parties use to funnel illegally large “in kind” campaign donations, in the form of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of free media exposure, exclusively to their own candidates.

A real nonpartisan, not-for-profit debate organization would use objective criteria for deciding which candidates may participate in debates. The CPD continuously refines its criteria with an eye toward ensuring that no third party or independent candidates qualifies for a microphone at a CPD “debate.”

Free Speech, Facebook, and the NSA: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Thursday, 18 June 2015 08:55
“A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy.” – Writers Against Mass Surveillance

The good news: Americans have a right to freely express themselves on the Internet, including making threatening – even violent – statements on Facebook, provided that they don’t intend to actually inflict harm.

The Supreme Court’s June 1 ruling in Elonis V. United States threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who was charged with making unlawful threats (it was never proven that he intended to threaten anyone) and sentenced to 44 months in jail after he posted allusions to popular rap lyrics and comedy routines on his Facebook page. It’s a ruling that has First Amendment implications for where the government can draw the line when it comes to provocative and controversial speech that is protected and permissible versus speech that could be interpreted as connoting a criminal intent.

That same day, Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the legal justification allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to carry out warrant-less surveillance on Americans, officially expired. Over the course of nearly a decade, if not more, the NSA had covertly spied on millions of Americans, many of whom were guilty of nothing more than using a telephone, and stored their records in government databases. For those who have been fighting the uphill battle against the NSA’s domestic-spying program, it was a small but symbolic victory.

The bad news: Congress’ legislative “fix,” intended to mollify critics of the NSA, will ensure that the agency is not in any way hindered in its ability to keep spying on Americans’ communications.

The USA FREEDOM Act could do more damage than good by creating a false impression that Congress has taken steps to prevent the government from spying on the telephone calls of citizens, while in fact ensuring the NSA’s ability to continue invading the privacy and security of Americans.

For instance, the USA FREEDOM Act not only reauthorizes Section 215 of the Patriot Act for a period of time, but it also delegates to telecommunications companies the responsibility of carrying out phone surveillance on American citizens.

And now for the downright ugly news: Nothing is going to change.

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