Commentary, editorials from Reader staff.

A Quick Guide to Islamic Definitions for the Unstudied PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 05:07

Below is a very rudimentary primer on Islam concepts and definitions for the average American who does virtually no research – without which most opinions are grossly uninformed – beyond mainstream newspapers and broadcasts.

It is essential to understand that Islam is a beautifully rich and spiritually lofty religion, whose precepts most Christians, Jews, and people of other faiths would gladly embrace because they have far more similarities than differences. Controversies arise from vastly different interpretations of small parts of Islam that take on epic proportions inside the Muslim community (Ummah) as well as the outside world.

Voting for the Lesser Evil Is Still a Vote for Evil PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 11:12

At some point, Americans are going to have to square with the resounding failure of our two-party political system by shedding the dysfunctional loyalty most voters have to either a Democrat or Republican affiliation. Why? Because neither party delivers anything resembling representative government any more. We elect politicians whose primary mission is continuity of government at our expense.

The allegiances to the modern American Democrats or Republicans are based on well-crafted illusion, disseminated by corporate media on behalf of the two-party political machine. It is brilliant in its simplicity. As long as voters are polarized, the status quo is guaranteed. What self-respecting Democrat will ever vote for a Republican, and vice versa? Couple this with a stranglehold on the primary system, including nonsensical gerrymandering to protect incumbents, and you have a control grid that is efficient and manageable. (See RCReader.com/y/primary.)

The minute voters decide that the candidates presented for election are unacceptable – and as a result cross party lines, or better yet abandon those lines altogether and choose third-party candidates en masse – things will begin to change in a hurry. Americans do not give enough weight to the desperate desire of politicians to be re-elected.

Can’t Fix What We Don’t Know: The Supreme Court’s Echo Chamber PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 08:24

Reuters released a special report late last year that went largely under the corporate media’s radar. Titled “The Echo Chamber,” it exposed that at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), “a handful of lawyers now dominates the docket.”

“The Echo Chamber” examined 10,300 petitions before the Supreme Court from 2004 through 2012, triangulating the number of appeals filed, the names of attorneys and their firms, and the percentage of appeals accepted and heard by SCOTUS.

Some high points:

1) Sixty-six of 17,000 lawyers’ appeals were at least six times more likely to be heard than all other lawyers’ submissions combined in that same period.

2) These 66 lawyers account for less than 1 percent of lawyers who filed appeals with SCOTUS yet were involved in 43 percent of the cases chosen to be heard.

3) Fifty-one of these 66 lawyers represent corporate interests, turning SCOTUS “into an echo chamber – a place where an elite group of jurists embraces an elite group of lawyers who reinforce narrow views of how the law should be construed.”

4) Twelve top firms had an 18-percent success rate in getting their petitions heard and were involved in a third of the cases before SCOTUS. Of the business-related cases accepted by SCOTUS, these top firms were involved in 60 percent.

5) Out of 8,000 firms doing business at the Supreme Court, 31 firms accounted for 44 percent of all cases heard by SCOTUS.

6) A group of eight lawyers accounted for 20 percent of all arguments made before SCOTUS in the past decade versus 30 attorneys in the decade before, demonstrating the diminishing circle of influence at the high court.

7) Demographically, of the 66 top lawyers, 63 are Caucasian and only eight are female. Thirty-one worked as clerks for SCOTUS; 25 worked in high-level positions for the U.S. Office of the Solicitor General, whose attorneys represent the government before SCOTUS; and 14 worked for both, making them “consummate insiders.”

Educate Yourself on Four Need-to-Know Subjects While They Still Matter PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Thursday, 15 October 2015 06:00

After 21 years of publishing, the depth and breadth of civic disengagement continues to befuddle me, confirming that people get the government they deserve. Everyone senses the undercurrent of serious trouble afoot in this country. But no amount of leaderships' disgraceful conduct, criminal enterprise, or wholesale injustice – all of which cause profound suffering for our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and community at large – rises to a level that produces meaningful activism. Why is that?

Mostly it is because of denial, lack of imagination, laziness, inertia, and an absurd amount of self-absorption. Ignorance plays a part, but most people are intelligent enough to grasp problems. Instead, they choose to ignore such matters as a means to absolve themselves from responsibility head-in-the-sand style. Clearly, this is not the American way. Or at least it didn't used to be.

No matter how much civic impotence we claim, there is still plenty we can individually affect if we are willing to sacrifice a bit of convenience. Our ancestors, after all, sacrificed their lives.

Fight the Rules-for-Us/Rules-for-Them System PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
Thursday, 09 July 2015 05:19

Halfway through 2015 already, and the stunning lack of oversight for increasing lawlessness remains unchanged – and it’s arguably even more rampant. It is hard to fathom how the children of the ’60s and ’70s – the ones who objected loudly enough to end the Vietnam War, who forced the resignation of a president, and who history will show as the last generation that exceeded the standard of living of their parents – are the primary culprits in this devolution of the rule of law.

We have mostly fossils running the travesty that is government partnering with monster corporations – the industry leaders who control all aspects of infrastructure manufacturing, as well as primary services such as finance, health care, insurance, academia, and media, thereby virtually eliminating meaningful competition in America.

Americans need to admit that capitalism is no longer the economic model here, and hasn’t been for decades. Capitalism depends on competition to succeed as an economic model first and foremost. Once government enters the arena with legislation and regulations that favor certain corporations and enterprises over others, capitalism is corrupted and morphs into something else. The better descriptor is fascism, where a small percentage of private-sector interests own, but government controls, most of a nation’s resources. Socialism differs only in the ownership, leaving government owning and controlling those resources.

America is fast departing from its founding governing principles as a republic under the rule of law with a free-market capitalistic economic model as its underpinning. Administrative law is the largest contributor to this erosion, providing a massive set of rules and regulations administered by the executive branch at the federal and state levels, with counties mostly responsible for local implementation, to enforce broad legislation that is rarely read by the legislators who approve it. This behemoth of an unaccountable governing apparatus, no longer able to justify itself by any measure as representative of the people, derives its authority under a different primary directive altogether – known as “continuity of government.”

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