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Constitution Day: Is the Bill of Rights Dead? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 05:39

For all intents and purposes, the Constitution is on life support and has been for some time now.

Those responsible for its demise are none other than the schools, which have failed to educate students about its principles; the courts, which have failed to uphold the rights enshrined within it; the politicians, who long ago sold out to corporations and special interests; and “we the people,” who, in our ignorance and greed, have valued materialism over freedom.

We can pretend that the Constitution, which was written to hold the government accountable and was adopted on September 17, 1787, is still our governing document. However, the reality we must come to terms with is that in the America we live in today, the government does whatever it wants. And the few of us who actively fight to preserve the rights enshrined in the Constitution (a group whose numbers continue to shrink) do so knowing that in the long run we may be fighting a losing battle.

A review of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution shows that the Bill of Rights may well be dead.

 
Ten Years After 9/11: Have We Become the Enemy of Freedom? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 11:18
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men ... to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.” – Edward R. Murrow, March 9, 1954

When the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground on September 11, 2001, it took with it any illusions Americans might have harbored about the nation’s invincibility, leaving many feeling vulnerable, scared and angry. Yet in that moment of weakness, while most of us were still reeling from the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of some 3,000 Americans, we managed to draw strength from and comfort each other.

Suddenly, the news was full of stories of strangers helping strangers and communities pulling together. Even the politicians put aside their partisan pride and bickering and held hands on the steps of the Capitol, singing “God Bless America.” The rest of the world was not immune to our suffering, acknowledging the fraternity of nations against all those who take innocent lives in a campaign of violence. United against a common enemy, inconceivable hope rising out of the ashes of despair, we seemed determined to work toward a better world.

Sadly, that hope was short-lived.

 
When Martin Luther King Reached the Point of No Return PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Friday, 26 August 2011 09:12
I have begun the struggle and I can’t turn back. I have reached the point of no return." – Martin Luther King Jr.

The official dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial was scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 28, the 48th anniversary of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. (Because of Hurricane Irene, it has been delayed until September or Octorber.) If anyone deserves a national monument in his honor, it would certainly be Martin Luther King Jr., a man who inspired countless Americans, including myself, to take a stand against injustice.

King was an amazing individual: courageous, passionate about freedom, willing to tackle large-scale issues (such as materialism, militarism, and the Vietnam War), and relentless in his pursuit of justice; he stood his ground, even in the face of death threats and opposition from friends and associates. A warrior and a visionary, King saw firsthand what tyranny looked like and worked tirelessly to oppose it. As King observed, “The universe is on the side of justice.”

 
Ready, Ames, Fire: Why the Straw Poll Doesn’t Mean Much (Updated) PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Monday, 15 August 2011 13:20

(This is an updated version of the original article published August 10. The orginal version follows.)

The relevance of this past Saturday’s Ames Straw Poll is nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If a candidate doesn’t believe the straw poll important, there’s no reason a poor showing matters. Just ask John McCain, whose apathy toward Iowa earned him 10th-place finishes in 1999 and 2007 but didn’t stop him from earning his party’s presidential nomination in 2008.

If a candidate believes the straw poll important, a performance below expectations can mean the end of a campaign. Just ask Tim Pawlenty, who finished third on Saturday and withdrew the next day. Or Tommy Thompson, who dropped out of the presidential race after finishing sixth in the 2007 straw poll.

For a mix of both, ask Mitt Romney, who won the 2007 straw poll but didn’t win the Iowa Caucus or his party’s nomination. This year, he’s largely skipped Iowa, although he participated in August 11’s nationally televised debate from Ames. He finished seventh in Saturday’s straw poll, and you should read absolutely nothing into that.

Michele Bachmann certainly hopes that her victory Saturday portends good things for her campaign, but the past indicates that’s not a safe bet.

 
“Shared Sacrifice”: Obama’s Demagoguery PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Sheldon Richman   
Tuesday, 02 August 2011 07:28

The most offensive claim made during the debt-ceiling controversy is that there’s a moral equivalence between cutting government spending and raising taxes. President Obama asks for “shared sacrifice” to reduce the budget deficit. In his view, if the government spends more than it takes in – it currently borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar spent – the “balanced” approach is to “cut” spending and raise taxes.

There are quotation marks around “cut” for a good reason. No one – Republican House Speaker John Boehner included – wants to cut spending in the commonsense meaning of the term: namely, reducing government spending from today’s level ($3.8 trillion). No, in Washington-talk, to cut a budget is merely to reduce the rate of increase that would have occurred in the future if current law were left unchanged.

If the politicians were honest – and reporters committed to telling the public the truth – they would talk about smaller increases in spending, not “cuts,” but even that wouldn’t be entirely truthful, because in many cases the reduction in future increases itself is an illusion. It involves merely canceling the authority to spend money that no one expects to actually be spent.

 
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