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  • Editorials
    Commentary, editorials from Reader staff.

    Get Cozy with the Reality of United States, Incorporated PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Wednesday, 15 April 2015 08:20

    And so it begins: Operation 2016 Elections. The corporate media has never been more strategic in its manipulation of information to steer voters to either Democrats or Republicans. After all, the lion’s share of the billions raised for campaigns goes to it. In fact, elections are the corporate media’s bread and butter. Without the billions flowing to it during campaigns, it would not survive.

    Corporate media and the two-party political system are intrinsically intertwined, relying completely on each other’s capacities to deliver the maximum level of political division among voters during campaigns. It makes no difference which party the populace supports as long as it is Republican or Democrat. Both achieve this goal with no small amount of brilliance.

    Not only has the corporate media achieved political polarization, it has also created a level of ignorance in America that is masterful in its precision. Every socioeconomic issue is framed in a political perspective, delivered to consumers (television, radio, print, Internet) using a conservative/liberal filter. Issues are rarely disseminated based on their merits or lack thereof. Instead, the majority of news is nothing more than informed speculation, giving Americans no real, measurable information upon which to form a meaningful opinion of our own. The result is a blind acceptance of the simpleton opinions of celebrities who could not find a solution in their pockets.

    Meanwhile, politicians want us to believe that governance is deeply complex. It really isn’t. The once-respected mission of government as an agency tasked with “representation of the people” has morphed into the current “continuity of government” (COG), a mission dedicated exclusively to itself at the expense of the people.

     
    Help Restore the Power of the Grand Jury PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Wednesday, 18 February 2015 09:58

    On Tuesday, February 24, at 9 a.m., (previously incorrectly published as 8 a.m.) the annual selection of the Scott County Grand Jury will take place on the second floor of the Scott County Courthouse. This proceeding is open to the public, and the people should avail themselves of the opportunity to participate in one of the most constitutionally protected authorities still available to hold governments accountable.

    The power of the grand jury is enormous. Most of us barely know of its existence, let alone embrace its vital relevance. The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution (1787) provided for grand juries as a means of checks and balances, ensuring that the people, not government, held the ultimate responsibility for providing justice: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury ... .”

    The 1846 Iowa Constitution (Article 2, Section 11) reads: “No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offence, unless on presentment, or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases cognizable by justices of the peace, or arising in the army or navy, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger” (RCReader.com/y/jury1).

    The 1857 Constitution of the State of Iowa (Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 11), asserts that “All offenses less than felony in which the punishment does not exceed a fine of one hundred dollars, or imprisonment for thirty days, shall be tried summarily before a Justice of the Peace, or other officer authorized by law, on information under oath, without indictment, or the intervention of a grand jury, saving to the defendant the right to appeal, and no person shall be held to answer for any higher criminal offense, unless on presentment or indictment by a grand jury, except in cases arising in the army, or navy, or in the militia, when in actual service, in time of war or public danger.”

    Annually, 12 randomly selected members of the community form the Scott County Grand Jury, seven of whom are active, while five are alternates in case one of the seven cannot perform his or her duties. The grand jury has four primary responsibilities: (1) to provide indictments on criminal activities, whether brought by the county attorney or upon its own investigations; (2) to inspect the condition of all places of confinement in the county; (3) to investigate the circumstances involving prisoners who have not been indicted within the legal period of time (45 days upon incarceration); and (4) to investigate and indict misconduct by public employees, including elected and appointed officials.

     
    Breaking the Control Grid PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Wednesday, 07 January 2015 10:55

    So here we are, welcoming 2015, on the heels of another biennial national, state, and county election season. And whether one considers government spending at the national, state, or local level, we have an ever-increasing lack of fiscal sobriety. This is due mostly to a dangerously inactive populace, and it will not leave this country unscathed. Sadly, these are tired words of mine.

    With few exceptions, Americans re-elected bad actors and maintained the status quo in Congress and in state and county governments. This is mostly thanks to a brilliant two-party political system that so expertly marginalizes third-party alternatives. State ballot-access laws, corrupt courts, little to no scrutiny of election equipment and technology, and big special-interest money prevent third-party or independent candidates from gaining significant ground.

    And independent or third-party candidates’ ability to gain valuable mainstream-media exposure has only declined over the decades of media-ownership concentration. In 2009, Mother Jones published a graph showing 25 years of media mergers “from GE to NBC and Google to YouTube” resulting in only eight major holding companies that control the vast majority of what is today called news, plus the entertainment and print and digital publishing platforms that generate the content that dominates American media ownership (RCReader.com/y/motherjones). Columbia Journalism Review publishes a useful online directory of “what major media companies own” (CJR.org/resources), and that list has 72 companies. This is roughly one controlling company for every 4 million Americans. When one is trying to control the messaging about the benefits of the two-party system, the lion’s share of campaign funds raised during elections goes to these relatively few media outlets. It is the bread and butter of corporate media, gladly disseminating the gamut of propaganda necessary to maintain the control grid.

     
    Iraq War Stories: An Army Nurse’s Perspective PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy and Ann Hochhausen   
    Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:02

    Retired Lieutenant Colonel Ann HochhausenOn November 9, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Davenport hosted a most compelling presentation by retired Lieutenant Colonel Ann Hochhausen – Colonel Ho as she is affectionately called. This 27-year veteran in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps shared her experiences and perspective as chief nurse of the 28th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) in Tikrit, Iraq, during 2003 and 2004.

    Colonel Ho’s one-year odyssey included serving as one of two chief nurses, in split operations, in large canvas-tent hospitals resourced and manned for 200 beds. This all took place in a hostile desert where they performed more than 1,000 surgeries over just the first four months. The 28th CSH provided care for more than 21,000 coalition military personnel and Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war in the course of its one-year deployment. With her specialty skills in obstetrics and gynecology, Colonel Ho was a rarity in that theater, and she was awarded the Bronze Star for her care of pregnant Iraqi women and their unborn children.

    Most Americans cannot fathom the harsh and brutal environment in which the 28th CSH provided compassionate and expert medical care for U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians and combatants alike. Our notions of war have been glorified and sanitized to prevent triggering the American people’s collective outrage for such impossible conditions and horrific results.

    Colonel Ho’s perspective is critical in conveying the feelings and realities that our military personnel deal with – not just during service, but for the rest of their lives.

     
    Holst and Narcisse Offer Unprecedented Opportunities to Voters PDF Print E-mail
    Commentary/Politics - Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Tuesday, 28 October 2014 16:17

    This midterm election provides voters in Iowa with two unprecedented opportunities to empower critical accountability at both the local and statewide levels.

    First, five years ago a concerned citizen, Diane Holst, began attending Scott County Board of Supervisors meetings because she wanted to better understand where her tax dollars were being spent. The more she attended, the more she realized that not all is what it seems relative to county business. Typically the lone attendee from the community, she witnessed processes that were vague and confusing. So she decided to research the agenda items and familiarize herself before making inquiries. It soon became obvious that most of the business is conducted by staff behind the scenes, away from public scrutiny or input, with very little oversight by supervisors beyond showing up during board meetings and approving what is put in front of them.

     
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