Decades of indoctrination have caused most Americans to believe the federal government is the boss of them. In March 2011, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees, told students at a conference at Augustana College that "people who don't believe the United States government has any control over their lives" are domestic terrorists (RCReader.com/y/dees at the 38-minute, 50-second point). Rather than such extremist, wrong-headed rhetoric, Dees should explain to students that we the people are the bosses of not only the federal government, but of state, county, and city governments, as well. This is American Civics 101.

However, because we have so completely failed in our individual responsibilities as civic bosses, the federal government is indeed methodically taking control of every aspect of our lives - from the kinds of light bulbs we are permitted to use in our homes to spying on us with unseen drones to violating our persons at every airport checkpoint to granting the executive branch the unlawful ability to arbitrarily deny us due process via the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act.

After nearly 20 years of opining in these pages, I am going to try a shock-and-awe approach to informing. Hopefully readers will be either inspired or outraged, or at least curious enough to pursue the topics here, and to not just verify but also to help better connect relevant dots, adding substantially to the scope of knowledge required to effect real change.

For instance, did you know that when you purchase stocks and bonds in today's market, you don't actually own them? Instead, you are only purchasing beneficiary rights that come with each unit. The real owner of your stocks and bonds is the little known Cede & Company, a division of the Depository Trust Company (DTC), which handles 99 percent of all securities trades in the United States and the majority of trades abroad. In other words, this privately held corporation (approximately 35 percent of which is owned by the New York Stock Exchange), which is actually a division of the Federal Reserve System, processes all book-entry securities transactions for every bank and brokerage firm in the United States. According to Wikipedia, in 2011, the DTC held approximately $1.7 quadrillion of the world's wealth, with many of the rights of legal ownership, if not the benefits derived therefrom, accruing to it via modern digital transactions replacing the traditional certificate system.

I am so done treading lightly for the sake of readers' sensibilities. America is in dire need of honest, problem-solving patriots who can muster enough gumption to get civically involved and provoke action, especially on behalf of our troops.

If you truly consider yourself a supporter of our soldiers, then turn off American Idol or whatever idiotic programming you normally watch, and instead watch the following four documentaries: The Ground Truth, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, Rethink Afghanistan, and Severe Clear.

If you cannot trouble yourself to do at least this much, then shame on you. You don't deserve to be an American. There is so much need-to-know information that is deliberately withheld from us by the mainstream media cartel and our derelict cadre of politicians; the least you can do is dismiss their drivel and consume something relevant, important, and helpful to the troops many of you so ardently claim to support.

Merv Habenicht (1935-2012)Our community lost one of its treasures, former Bettendorf football coach Merv Habenicht, on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, after a prolonged battle with pulmonary fibrosis. For many of us, we lost a surrogate father and/or lifelong friend.

Nearly 45 years ago, when I left private school to attend Bettendorf Middle School, I was befriended by its most popular cheerleader, Nan Habenicht - Merv's and Eveyln's firstborn - and was unconditionally inducted into the Habenicht family from day one. I wish I had a nickel for each time I bravely huffed out on my own family to brave the cold, cruel world for the several blocks to the Habenichts, where I nestled in until I wore out my welcome.

Most of the time, I had to get in line, literally, because Merv and Evelyn had an open-door policy for their children's friends, and Merv's students and team members. It has remained so until this day. They truly are like second parents to me and to many others who had the incredible good fortune to find their fold. I could not love them more, and losing Merv is a blow that no amount of time will ever completely heal.

It is a deeply painful thing to finally admit that the government you thought was your protector and friend is anything but. Or that the politicians charged with upholding the U.S. Constitution - as their oaths dictate by law - not only ignore this nonnegotiable mandate but actually diminish it with conflicting legislation that is largely illegal according to the constructs of America's republic under the rule of common law.

The common law I refer to is informed by the Magna Carta, which developed around two core principles that provide the litmus test for all legislation: (1) Do all you have agreed to do (contract law), and (2) Do no harm to another or his property (criminal law).

All kinds of statutes, administrative procedure, and highly arbitrary regulations have been passed via hidden legislation among hundreds of thousands of pages of bills, approved but not even read by our lawmakers, that do not remotely conform to the above two principles. How many statutes and regulations are adjudicated in criminal and/or civil court without harm to another or another's property? Most adjudication today is nothing more than a means for government and attorneys to generate revenue in the form of penalties and fees for an exhaustive list of contrived violations that harm no one.

Do any of us really believe it is a coincidence that Congress and the president are fast-tracking specific legislation and executive orders that, when viewed in their entirety, destroy the Bill of Rights? Three months ago, Congress passed the alarming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), allowing indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without due process - meaning without probable cause, criminal charge, benefit of counsel, or a trial. This treatment of U.S. citizens was outlawed after the Civil War, only to resurface now in an even more egregious manner, especially since back then, citizens had to at least be charged with a crime.

In the shadow of this shocking legislation, last week Congress almost unanimously passed another horrifying law that criminalizes protesting on or near any federal property, or merely being in the vicinity of either (a) an event of national significance, or (b) a person under the protection of the Secret Service. The Federal Restricted Buildings & Grounds Improvement Act repeals our right to peacefully assemble and petition the government with our grievances. In fact, it is now illegal to assemble in front of Congress if even one member might be inside.

The new meme cheerfully propagated by the mainstream media (MSM) is the 1-percent-versus-the-99-percent conflict, which fits perfectly into its strategy for maintaining strict political divisions of Left versus Right. This bipartisan strategy is absolutely critical for advancing the agenda of the "1 percent," which, simply stated, is to own and/or control the world's natural and economic resources, including land and mineral rights, water sources, food and energy production, transportation, money supply, and most important of all labor.

Glaringly absent from this current meme is a proper definition by the MSM of exactly who composes the 1 percent. This, too, is absolutely essential, because if the 1 percent is actually identified, broad-based consensus is achievable and solutions can begin. Instead, the 1 percent is left to the imaginations of the 99 percent, allowing for a wide variety of culprits responsible for society's woes, and no possible consensus - hence no solutions, either.

If you pay attention, you'll find that solutions are never proffered in any of the MSM's endless dialogue permeating the broadcasts, and rarely in print. The very last thing the 1 percent wants are viable solutions emerging to upset the status quo.

So who is the 1 percent?

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.

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