For decades, the political machine has perpetuated a deliberate void in the average American's knowledge and understanding of our foreign policies, militarism versus defense, and the relative budgets for all three. The mainstream media gives these subjects a wide berth as far as meaningful coverage goes. Even the federal budget for defense breaks out military spending from other significant defense expenditures.

Let's review how U.S. defense spending compares to the rest of the developed world. Military spending in 2010 for Germany was $46.8 billion, United Kingdom $57.4 billion, France $61.8 billion, Japan $51.4 billion, Russia $52.5 billion, and China $114.3 billion. The U.S. was $687 billion! That is nearly twice as much as all these other countries combined, adding up to $384.2 billion by comparison, according to 2010 World Military Budgets, issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database.

(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 Dave Trotter's "Electability: Ron Paul Soundly Defeats Obama for These 11 Reasons" cover story and Todd McGreevy's "Media Manipulation and Ron Paul.")

Participants at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, in August 2011. Photo by Jesse Anderson.How curious is it that both liberal and conservative media have so obviously colluded in blacking out meaningful coverage of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul? Add to this phenomenon that when coverage is unavoidable, it is heavily biased against Dr. Paul. This blanket policy by the mainstream media (MSM) toward this single candidate begs the question: Why is Ron Paul such a threat to both parties, so much so that the MSM has orders from on high to label him as "unelectable" but offers very little in terms of rationale for why it deems him so?

Voters' curiosity should be piqued over this blatant dismissal of the candidacy of such a highly respected member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Texas voters have elected Dr. Paul 12 times as a Republican, and his base has grown exponentially since he became a national candidate, attracting conservative Republicans, moderate Democrats, and independents alike because his message has remained steadfastly constitutional in all things, no exceptions.

This issue's article on the Scott Emergency Communications Center (SECC) further illustrates government overreach run amok, beginning with our state legislators. State law (Iowa Code 28E) enabled the creation of the Scott Emergency Communications Center, an intergovernmental agency composed of five separate entities: the Scott County Emergency Management Agency, Scott County, the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, and Medic EMS. Funding SECC is enabled through more state legislation (Iowa Code 29C) that provided for an unelected board as a brand-new taxing authority, with no limit on how much it may levy. And, as the details emerge, SECC gets to operate with no oversight whatsoever.

Let us never forget that the SECC was sold to Scott County taxpayers as a 7,800-square-foot building to consolidate emergency dispatching and enhance 911 service, saving taxpayers money along the way. The Bettendorf City Council barely passed the measure to join this scheme, approving it 4-3 in December 2007. The intergovernmental agreement that formalized this financial boondoggle specifically dictates that all decisions shall be guided by the 2006 CTA Communications consolidation study. So how did CTA's 7,800 square feet balloon into 27,000 square feet by February 2009?

The dismissal by SECC Director Brian Hitchcock and Scott County Administrator Dee Bruemmer of the very study that is to guide their decision-making, as the intergovernmental agreement dictates, stands as testimony that citizens need to be very concerned, and extremely vigilant. Such dismissal suggests that there was never any real intention to follow CTA's recommendations to begin with. This is further evidenced by Hitchcock's claim of good stewardship by reducing the original architectural design from a 36,000-square-foot facility to 27,000 square feet.

To my amazement, nearly every time I mention the new SECC911, I find residents have no idea that we have consolidated multiple jurisdictions' emergency dispatching and law-enforcement record-keeping into a single new building and operation. What a shame. Especially because the Scott Emergency Communications Center (SECC) is now the county's second-largest budget item, and is funded using a newly established "no cap" taxing authority. This means taxpayers can be endlessly tapped for any and all of the SECC's funding needs without consent from our elected county and city representatives.

Thanks to emergency-management legislation called "28E" passed by the Iowa legislature and signed into law by former Governor Chet Culver, our local governments ceded authority for a critical component of public-safety services to an independent, unelected board that is answerable to no one, least of all the people who pay for it. The SECC is a classic example of government run amok.

Eldridge resident Diane Holst, a civic hero by any standard, has followed the SECC from its inception. She is so far ahead of the game in terms of knowledge, and connecting the dots, that she shames the supervisors, and even staff, with her inquiries, often evidenced by their inability to competently respond.

Scott County is lucky to have Ms. Holst. Because if you think your elected representatives are managing the business of the county, think again. The vast majority of the elected leaders are clueless about the details of how the taxpayers' money is being spent. This is evidenced by merely attending any board meeting. County staff is more than happy to perpetuate this arrangement, because it leaves them free to spend tax dollars with impunity. It certainly explains why the staff nearly always gets a pass on incomplete, vague explanations when Ms. Holst presents common-sense, relevant questions.

The institutional laziness, incompetence, and never-saw-a-new-taxing-authority-I-didn't-love/let-me-rubber-stamp-that-budget mentality of our elected supervisors is embarrassing at best, infuriating at worst. In the October 13 SECC Board meeting, County Board and SECC Board Chair Tom Sunderbruch could not contain his rudeness toward Ms. Holst when she voiced her concerns over safety issues. She suggested that an apology to our law enforcement was in order from the SECC Board for their previous dismissive attitudes with regard to the rank-and-file's concerns about the new SECC system - concerns that are absolutely founded, as this issue's cover story illustrates. "If you read the open-meetings law of Iowa," Sunderbruch stated, "we don't have to allow you to speak. So unless you have something new to say, we've heard enough."

Technically, Sunderbruch is correct. And therein lies part of the problem. The only time the public is mandated an opportunity to address these supposed stewards of our tax dollars is during a public hearing for such items as bonding for debt to pay for no-bid contracts for radios costing taxpayers millions. Sunderbruch's reaction to Holst's well-documented concerns exposes his inferior understanding of the issues that have plagued the SECC - an unacceptable demeanor from such a leader, considering the magnitude of SECC.

Bettendorf Alderwoman and mayoral candidate Patricia Melinee expressed her concerns in 2007 over the loss of city jurisdiction over dispatching if the county controls the funds. Her concerns were dismissed by most as "overwrought," when she should be commended for proactive problem-solving. And then-Davenport Alderman Keith Meyer, in an attempt to engage the split Bettendorf council (which voted 4-3 to join SECC) in a dialogue prior to a vote, was called "out of order" by then-County Board Chair Jim Hancock, and the vote was rushed through.

Does one size fit all? Is consolidation of government services among multiple jurisdictions efficient? In theory, perhaps. But the SECC is a newly created government entity, different from any other in Scott County and dangerously unaccountable to the taxpayers, therefore highly susceptible to ballooning out of control relative to expenses and/or scope of services.

Consider that, before it opened its doors, the project was sold to the taxpayers as a cost savings of nearly $5 million over 20 years, with a $2-million, 6,000-square-foot building. That's how it was advertised. But that's not what taxpayers got. The project exploded into a $7.3-million, 27,500-square-foot building, with equipment, radios, and software ratcheting up the price tag to $28 million, just for starters.

The study used to justify the project to the public is now being heralded by the administrators as "flawed," and merely "a guideline." Never mind those terms were referred to in the intergovernmental agreement as governing the project, via a commissioned study that specified the SECC. This is a typical bureaucratic ploy, and only works when the public isn't paying attention and sworn elected officers shirk their duties.

Scott County residents have no one to blame but themselves. We have behaved like absentee landlords and/or managers when all of this went down. And clearly employees do not respect what management does not inspect.

If you want to engage and begin inspecting what your SECC government is doing, start by going to YouTube.com/ScottIFATV and watch the SECC videos posted there. And you can contact the SECC board members by going to SECC911.org/secc/secc_board.php. Lastly, the SECC Board meets at 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday of every month on the first floor of the county building. The next meeting is November 17.


It can be argued that the biggest contributing factor to America's decline is the virtual collapse of public oversight of our own governments, which has led to government employees at every level - whether local, state, or federal - into behaving like they are the bosses of us and not the other way around.

Unaccountability on the part of our public servants is the root problem plaguing our nation, and civic disengagement is 110-percent responsible. We are fast becoming impotent as a citizenry, allowing rule-making to supersede common law, and doing nothing while our local, state, and federal public servants usurp our liberties under dozens of false pretenses, but most especially under the guise of safety and/or security.

Meanwhile, already entrenched bureaucracies grow ever larger, taking more and more control unto themselves over individuals' use and enjoyment of private property, combining services and creating multiple or intergovernmental jurisdictions of administrative structure that use rule-making to insulate and protect their so-called public-sector fiefdoms - fiefdoms we the people pay for but have no say in.

If not for your own future, then do your children/grandchildren a favor and attend your local county and city meetings on a more regular basis. City-council meetings can be viewed at home on cable TV. Listen, learn, and engage. No resident gets a pass on civic participation these days. There is no excuse for doing nothing, anymore.

It is hard to imagine our leaders approving plans and/or legislation that would suspend the U.S. Constitution under any circumstances, but that is precisely what has occurred. This is not a conspiracy theory, but very real authority that the national government has granted itself under the guise of protecting the country during a declared national emergency.

After 9/11, a series of legislative events took place, most without congressional debate, and nearly all under the people's radar. These include the Homeland Security Act of 2002; the USA PATRIOT Act in its original and renewed forms (which removed due process and allows warrantless searches of and seizures from citizens deemed a threat to "the continuity of government" without probable cause based on the Department of Homeland Security's "Domestic Extremism Lexicon"); the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (HR 5122); the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (HR 4144); the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (HR 6166, which removed the writ of habeas corpus, allowing permanent imprisonment without benefit of counsel or petition to the court); the REAL ID Act (attached to an emergency appropriations bill); the FISA Amendments Act (which gave telecom companies retroactive immunity for providing access to customers' private phone lines); and National Presidential Security Directive 51 (which dictates that Congress has no authority during national emergencies).

Combined, this legislation is dangerous because it asserts the authority to suspend the U.S. Constitution and transfer all governance (city, county, and state) to the federal government. All that is required to assume this transfer of power is a presidential declaration of a national emergency and martial law.

One dictionary defines "incompetent" as "inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose" and "lacking the qualities needed for effective action." I'd say this perfectly describes the political spectrum currently tasked with the leadership of America. Let's throw the mainstream media in with this bunch for good measure.

Most Americans are grossly uninformed. Between the federally controlled curriculum of public education and the woeful malfeasance of the dominating media, corrupt politicians, agency bureaucrats, industry leaders, union bosses, and foundation heads all get a free pass.

Where is the outrage that should accompany the serious breaches of public trust? Exactly what will it take to convince you it is time to take an active role in your city, county, state, and country? Pick one and get involved. You might find you actually enjoy it; working to make a difference is rejuvenating.

Here we go again. The new philosophy of government is to never underestimate the stupidity of Americans. After all, we will swallow anything these days. There is no line Congress can draw in the sand that we will not step over in terms of complacent consent for politicians and bureaucrats, including the courts and police, to abuse their authorities.

Do Americans not understand that as long as we remain silent, doing nothing in response to these outrageous financial manipulations by Congress, they will continue to burden taxpayers with unsustainable governance? How many times do we have to be taken to the woodshed before we resist? Just as the majority of the world's economists predicted, TARP and both stimulus expenditures were eventually exposed as boondoggles. But how quickly Americans forget.

Once again Congress, with the full cooperation of the mainstream media, created a faux crisis to justify even more astronomical spending. For weeks Americans have been hammered with misinformation, half-truths, and, in some cases, outright lies relative to the debt ceiling. Broadcasters, with the sole exception of Judge Andrew Napolitano, warned in dire terms that to not raise the ceiling meant economic "Armageddon," borrowing President Obama's descriptor time and again.

I am aware of how difficult it is to accept certain truths of our times. Doing so requires letting go of deeply held norms that provide us with perceived security. Refusing gives each of us plausible deniability as truant citizens when it comes to our individual civic duty to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, freedom does not protect itself.

Americans refuse to admit that our governance is not what we think, that there is a terrible underlying fraud afoot, and that we are manipulated on a daily basis by powerful forces working in tandem to keep us uninformed: the two political parties - Democrats and Republicans - and the mainstream media.

All the mainstream news is choreographed to keep us in one camp or the other, and by doing so, the illusion is maintained that we are politically participating on an informed basis. When critics of the two parties' ideologies, policies, etc. surface, the media is able to squelch it by declaring such critics as kooks and extremists as a means of marginalizing the data and keeping it from us.

All year long, the mainstream media systematically deliver sanitized but highly divisive information specifically designed to drive our opinions in one narrow political direction or another, depending upon which broadcasters you patronize, whether watching, listening, or reading.

It is the proverbial easy button. It keeps us anesthetized to the slow creep of authority over our daily lives, to the dual legal system fraudulently operating under our very noses, and to the abdication of the U.S. Constitution in favor of United Nations dictates and global governance via such organizations as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the G20.

From the beginning of the Social Security system in America, there was a clear mandate from taxpayers: Take care of our disabled, whether because of birth defect, illness, accident, or warfare. Americans have insisted, and been more than willing to fund, the care of our developmentally and intellectually disabled people.

Once again, however, Illinois' developmentally disabled community is taking an undeserved hit with $76 million in cuts in the governor's proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget that translates into $540,000 in cuts for Rock Island County, alone. The $76 million represents approximately 6 percent of a $1.2-billion budget for services for 40,000 developmentally disabled individuals in Illinois, leaving a waiting list of 21,000 that includes adults, children, and infants.

Other sources of funding, such as grants from United Way and other not-for-profit organizations, work to fill some of the funding gaps, but these organizations are also struggling, resulting in less available resources each year.

Kyle Rick, executive director of the Arc of Rock Island County, explains: "This community of individuals, including the severely developmentally and intellectually disabled, through no fault of their own, needs the most support, but is least able to ask for it, or defend itself against any decrease in resources."

Across the state, calls are being made and letters and petitions are being sent to lobby Illinois legislators to recalculate the cuts to the developmentally disabled community, because cuts will mean job reductions and the loss of critical services that are often the only lifeline these individuals possess.

As Rick wrote in a letter to State Representative Patrick Verschoore: "From Fiscal Year 2002 through the proposed Fiscal Year 2012 [budget], an 11-year period, we will have had only three increases to keep up with inflation, four years with nothing, and four years of cuts. ... The cuts in Fiscal Year 2012 will be the most severe yet."

Skies above Iowa, north of Waterloo, March 1, 2011.

Take a second look the next time you see jet-streams way up in the atmosphere. Are they lingering for a long time? Do you see a pattern or grids forming? These are not commercial airlines creating these trails in the sky.

Geo-engineering programs that claim to prevent global warming by spraying toxins into our atmosphere are commonly referred to as "chemtrails." Most people assume the white, fluffy trails being emitted from some jets as they fly across the sky are condensation trails from exhaust, or "contrails." But common sense informs us that contrails do not occur in crisscross grids across the sky, remain overhead long after the plane(s) have left the sky, or continue to expand throughout the day, culminating in a veil of fog that eventually falls to the earth.

Chemtrails have become a common occurrence both nationwide and around the world, delivering massive doses of toxic materials over not just our farmlands and homesteads but also over some of the planet's most pristine environments, including Mount Shasta in California and remote areas of the Hawaiian islands.

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