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Privatizing the War on Terror: America’s Military Contractors PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 06:49

America’s troops may be returning home from Iraq, but we’re far from done paying the costs of war. In fact, at the same time that President Obama is reducing the number of troops in Iraq, he’s replacing them with military contractors at far greater expense to the taxpayer. In this way, the war on terror is privatized, the American economy is bled dry, and the military-security-industrial complex makes a killing – literally and figuratively speaking.

2011: A Civil Liberties Year in Review PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Thursday, 29 December 2011 14:25

It’s been a year of populist uprisings, economic downturns, political assassinations, and one scandal after another. Gold prices soared, while the dollar plummeted. The Arab Spring triggered worldwide protests, including the Occupy Wall Street protests here in America. Nature unleashed her forces with a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, flooding in Thailand and Pakistan, a severe drought in East Africa, and a famine in Somalia. With an unemployment rate hovering around 9.5 percent, more than 4 million Americans passed the one-year mark for being out of a job. After a death toll that included more than 4,500 American troops and at least 60,000 Iraqis, the U.S. military officially ended its war in Iraq. At the conclusion of their respective media-circus trials, Casey Anthony went free while Conrad Murray went to jail. And Will and Kate tied the knot, while Demi and Ashton broke ties. All in all, it’s been a mixed bag of a year, but on the civil-liberties front, things were particularly grim.

MQ-1 Predator Drone

Welcome to the new total security state. The U.S. government now has at its disposal a technological arsenal so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. And these technologies are being used by the government to invade the privacy of the American people. Several years ago, government officials acknowledged that the nefarious intelligence-gathering entity known as the National Security Agency had exceeded its legal authority by eavesdropping on Americans’ private e-mail messages and phone calls. However, these reports barely scratch the surface of what we are coming to recognize as a “security/industrial complex” – a marriage of government, military, and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance. The increasingly complex security needs of our massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance, and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental bureaucracy.

Occupy Doesn’t Have a Platform – It Is a Platform PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Kevin Carson   
Saturday, 17 December 2011 05:53

The Occupy movement comes under frequent attack from the institutional Left (and, it goes without saying, from the liberal establishment) for not offering a clear list of official demands – for, in other words, not offering a platform.

But that criticism misses the point. Occupy doesn’t have a single platform, in the sense of a list of demands. But it is a platform – a collaborative platform, like a wiki. Occupy isn’t a unified movement with a single list of demands and an official leadership to state them. Rather, Occupy offers a toolkit and a brand name to a thousand different movements with their own agendas, their own goals, and their own demands – with only their hatred of Wall Street and the corporate state in common, and the Occupy brand as a source of strength and identity.

Mr. Potter’s Offer: Occupy “It’s a Wonderful Life” PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Karoline Steavenson   
Thursday, 15 December 2011 11:52

This time of year the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life comes out of storage and is broadcast on TV, or pulled out of a video collection. In some places, including the Quad Cities, it will be shown in a theater. It’s showing at the Galvin Fine Arts Center at St. Ambrose University on Saturday, December 18, at 1 p.m., with audience response encouraged.

As was typical with director Frank Capra’s later films, it wasn’t made primarily to be a blockbuster the way Hollywood films are often planned today. It was made so that Frank Capra could teach a few lessons. His later films always included morals.

One crucial lesson in It’s a Wonderful Life is taught when Mr. Potter, the most powerful and intimidating man in Bedford Falls, offers George Bailey, his do-gooder nemesis, a job. Potter wants to destroy George’s family-owned company, the Bailey Building & Loan. So driven by that most basic of sins – greed – Potter offers to make Bailey his paid lackey.

Electability: Ron Paul Soundly Defeats Obama for These 11 Reasons PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Dave Trotter   
Thursday, 08 December 2011 06:04

(Editor's note: This is one of three articles on Ron Paul in the December 8 issue of the River Cities’ Reader. The package also includes Kathleen McCarthy’s “Ron Paul Personifies Iowa GOP Party Platform” editorial and Todd McGreevy’s “Media Manipulation and Ron Paul.”)

Establishment political personalities are quick to claim poor “electability” to diminish Ron Paul’s chances because they presume that Paul holds no positive advantage in a head-to-head matchup against President Barack Obama in the general election. That’s an apparent premise of their calculation.

This is either a sublime miscalculation or a profound deception. If Ron Paul can win the Republican nomination, the path to the White House could seem downhill by comparison. Why?

Unprecedented debt circumstances demand an unprecedented re-imagining of U.S. government priorities and obligations. The U.S. national debt is categorically unsustainable and, literally, it’s now mathematically impossible to repay, too. That the debt, banking, and finance system is increasingly proven to be a rigged Ponzi scheme in mainstream media only underlines Ron Paul’s tenured criticism of the oligarchical Federal Reserve system itself. Further, increasing numbers of voters awaken daily to the direct correlation between endless foreign interventionism and that categorically unsustainable debt that vexes the nation.

Indeed, because of wars, rumors of wars, a fading dollar, climbing prices, hopeless unemployment, and an overreaching federal police state, the time is ripe for Ron Paul’s small-government message.

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