Thomas E. Woods Jr.'s recent Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century is a must-read book to understand what is at stake for each of us in the states, and what we the people can do to restore our constitutionally protected liberties.

But before we can restore anything, we must first be clear about what is lost, and how we lost it. In Chapter 4, "What Is (or Are) the United States, Anyway?" Woods opens with a fascinating inquiry: "Was the United States created by a group of independent political societies that established a federal government as their agent, reserving all undelegated powers to themselves? Or was the United States the creation of a single, undifferentiated American people?"

Woods asserts that the federal government was created by America's original 13 colonies, operating as separate and distinct states, which established a compact, known as the Constitution for the United States of America, for dealing with foreign nations, common defense when necessary, and commerce between the 13 chartered states.

History, when studied in earnest, reveals that the various states' ratification documents accepting the Constitution emphasized one dominant, overarching principle: Powers not specifically enumerated to the federal government in the Constitution are automatically retained by the individual states. No exceptions.

William M. Johnson

William M. Johnson was my maternal uncle, who joined his wife of 62 years, Carm, when he passed quietly on December 30, 2010. He was 88 years old, and a treasure to me who, over these past four years, shared a rich and detailed view into my family's history. His perspectives and memories of his generation's era are invaluable.

Bill led a charmed life. He was a Depression-era child in Rock Island and fondly recalled how he used to join dozens of neighbors hunting worms at night in Longview Park so they could fish for their suppers from the Mississippi. Decades later he retired from Deere & Company, having served for 36 years as executive pilot, coming on board at the genesis of Deere's aviation department after World War II. Bill is survived by two sons and daughters-in-laws - Bill and Neva, and Tom and Kathy - 16 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. And me and my husband, Todd. We could not have loved him more.

If there were any doubt that America has just one major political party with two branches, Democrat and Republican, it was permanently dispelled once the nation's primaries ended. I would call it the Progressive Party, with Progressive Democrats on one branch and Progressive Republicans on the other. My definition of a "progressive" is one that believes in political change and social improvement by coercive governmental action. Under a true "republican" form of government, which our founding compact dictates, societal improvement comes from self-determination and mutual respect of each other's property. The only thing that has progressed, under both major parties, is the size and burden of the welfare and warfare state, for this and future generations of Americans.

The evidence of the charade that the two major parties are not one and the same - and that the establishment media is complicit in maintaining this myth that there is a difference and you actually have choices - is this issue's cover story on ballot access in Illinois. Further evidence is the Progressive Party's vitriolic response to the Tea Party movement. Rather than engage Tea Party participants (an obviously growing and organized voting bloc) about their concerns, no matter which party their voter-registration card reads, the Progressive Party demonized them.

It has been discovered by real-estate professionals at Think Big Work Small Daily (ThinkBigWorkSmall.com) that banks are refusing to modify mortgage loans because it is far more profitable to let mortgages default so that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), using taxpayer money, can reimburse the banks and financial institutions for their losses under special agreements struck during the "financial crisis."

A recent analysis of IndyMac's new owner, One West Bank, exposed the financial benefit to One West in letting mortgages go all the way to foreclosure rather than modifying the loans or allowing short sales of the properties -- selling the property for less than the amount owed on the loan.

If you still believe that the current 111th Congress is representative of the American people, then you exist in stubborn denial, likely as a victim of the most deliberately dumbed-down mainstream media in U.S. history. But you skate on that excuse only so far. After a while, when every instinct in your civic being tells you something is dreadfully wrong with what is passing for news each day -- makes no difference whether via the networks (ABC, NBC, or CBS) or cable news (CNN, MSNBC, or Fox) -- it's time to trust yourself and seek alternative news sources. All mainstream news is designed to keep you blaming the "other party," living in fear, and taking no personal responsibility.

If you are gullible enough to believe the yellow journalism that passes for news anymore, then you really have no one to blame but yourself, especially for ignoring what your instincts are correctly trying to tell you -- that the mainstream media is basically the public-relations agency for the govcorp (the unholy alliance of international mega-corporations composed of energy, food, finance, communications, insurance, and pharmaceuticals; elected officials; banksters; government bureaucrats; union bosses; large not-for-profit foundations; Democratic/Republican party leadership; and the cabal of lawyers loyal to the bar before the U.S. Constitution) that is seizing America's resources, and with it, our liberty.

Anyone with a a hint of common sense knows you can't spend (borrow and consume) your way out of debt into financial recovery, let alone prosperity. Secondly, the most recent jobs report indicated that of the 431,000 new jobs created via the stimulus bailout, 390,000 were government jobs, mostly for the Census Bureau, leaving a paltry 41,000 new jobs created in the private sector, which is the only sector that pays its own way. Furthermore, most of the 390,000 employed in the Census Bureau will be laid off this summer, because those jobs are coming to an end. This is hardly recovery.

The decade-long travesty of justice that assailed local dentist Dr. David Botsko because of an out-of-control Davenport Civil Rights Commission (DCRC) is finally over thanks to a ruling by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission on Friday, May 7, dismissing all charges against him.

Iowans can be reassured that when due process is actually followed, testimonies actually read, and evidence actually considered and weighed against the rule of law, justice does prevail, at least when the Iowa Civil Rights Commission is adjudicating.

Davenport residents, however, have no such assurances where the DCRC is concerned. This commission, under the direction of Executive Director Judith Morrell, has proven its ability to violate the very same civil rights it claims to protect. At the end of the day, operating as judge, jury, and prosecutor in civil-rights cases is a perfect formula for abuse of said rights, as unequivocally demonstrated in Nabb V. Botsko.

In 2000, after nearly three years as a dental assistant for Dr. Botsko, then-62-year-old, German-born Inglenore Nabb complained to the DCRC that then-46-year-old Dr. Botsko was violating her civil rights in the workplace with age, sex, and national-origin discrimination, including accusations of sexual harassment and constructive discharge. Damages sought by Nabb, according to a November 13, 2009, Iowa Supreme Court decision that forbade attorney fees in any damages awarded, included $25,000 to Nabb for emotional distress and compensatory damages, $57,028 to Nabb's attorneys, and $2,935 for the DCRC. The above figure does not include 10 years of legal fees that Botsko paid for his own defense.

A hearing was held in 2003 with Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Kevin Visser presiding, after which he ruled that Dr. Botsko was innocent on all counts. Seventeen witnesses testified over a three-day period, only one of which corroborated a single accusation Nabb brought against Botsko. In other words, the bulk of evidence was based on Nabb's testimony alone.

Among the 17 witnesses were past and present employees and patients who contradicted Nabb's testimony, attesting that they saw none of the alleged behavior. This was the same aggregate testimony learned in discovery, yet the DCRC proceeded with its prosecution of Botsko. Nor did it suffice when ALJ Visser's ruling determined that Nabb had not met her burden of proof.

The DCRC continued with its prosecution of Botsko by rejecting most of Visser's decision, dropping the age-, sex-, and national-origin-discrimination portions of the suit but finding Botsko guilty of sexual harassment and constructive discharge based on the exact same evidence that a 20-year civil-rights-law judge dismissed categorically. Of the seven commissioners responsible for overturning Visser's ruling, only one attended parts of the three-day hearing. No other commissioner even bothered to attend.

Knowing this case is weak becomes doubly egregious considering its own civil-rights violations; the case was eventually dismissed and forced to start over because the Iowa Supreme Court found Morrell in violation of Botsko's right to due process because of her obvious bias in favor of Nabb -- for not only sitting at Nabb's table during the 2003 hearing but for numerous instances of counseling the claimant and her attorney throughout the proceedings. The court concluded: "The combination of advocacy and adjudicative functions has the appearance of fundamental unfairness in the administrative process."

That was the beginning of the end of this fiasco. In that same decision, The Iowa Supreme Court allowed for the opportunity for Nabb V. Botsko to be transferred from the DCRC to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission (ICRC). Against the wishes of the DCRC, Davenport Corporation Counsel Tom Warner wisely passed it to Des Moines. Obviously the ICRC did its due diligence with this case, something the DCRC consistently failed to do, thereby inflicting great financial harm on a highly skilled area professional, who defended his reputation, his honor, his practice, and his own civil rights to the end. He refused to settle, and fought this abuse of power to its final conclusion -- dismissal of all charges.

There is no question that Dr. Botsko's victory is one all Iowans can celebrate because the ICRC did its job and actually protected our civil rights by upholding Botsko's. However, no ruling of innocence can overcome the damage of 10 years of living with constant uncertainty relative to one's reputation, one's emotional well-being, or the loss of one's sense of security that comes from living in a republic of laws. Nor can it remedy the financial devastation that occurs from being forced to defend oneself against a quasi-judicial government agency such as the DCRC that vindictively and capriciously abuses its power by relentlessly prosecuting an individual, intruding into every aspect of his life with uncorroborated accusations, illegally levying bank accounts, and seizing private property and proprietary documents long before a ruling of guilt or innocence is ever rendered.

In Botsko's case, Nabb's then-attorney Marleta Greve illegally seized approximately $60,000 from Botsko's bank account without his knowledge, or the legal authority. She was ordered to pay it back by the courts, and is now a sitting judge herself in our own Seventh District Court of Iowa. (Voters should remember this at election time.)

It is time for the Davenport City Council to do its job in protecting us from DCRC's abuse of power. Nabb V. Botsko is not the only case that has nothing short of astonishing abuses in its overreaching conduct/procedures. But that is a story for another day.

It should be a no-brainer for the council to call for Morrell's resignation. And knowing that in the future, taking a case to the ICRC is infinitely more preferable to the DCRC's purview, why not consider disbanding the DCRC altogether? If the council does not have the backbone to do this politically, then take the technical route. Under Iowa Code, the threshold for a Civil Rights Commission is a population of 100,000. Davenport is approximately 10,000 short of this requirement.

It is time for Americans to understand a key political distinction between "progressives" as they relate to both Democrats and Republicans. Progressives are individuals from both parties who commonly believe in social improvement through government action. Traditionally, progressives are thought to be liberal or Democrat in nature. This is not accurate. The first progressives were actually a splinter group from the Republican Party in 1912. Today, it can be argued that most of our legislators are progressive Democrats and progressive Republicans, evidenced by the exhaustive amount of legislation from both sides of the aisle that perpetuates government's ever-growing involvement in American lives.

The notion that a progressive agenda is strictly that of liberals, Democrats, or socialists is a misconception in desperate need of correction. The past century has shown us that any salient differences between the two parties have only narrowed with each new administration and/or legislature.

It feels like 2010 arrived at breakneck speed. Perhaps this is due to the fast-tracking of legislation that, by its very design, will financially impact American lifestyles in ways we cannot yet comprehend. The time has come for Americans to truly question the lawfulness of the legislation that is being passed in Washington, and what we are willing to do about it. Make no mistake: The next three years will shape for generations to come how we define ourselves as Americans.

Reader issue #717 The River Cities' Reader is shifting to publishing bi-weekly. Our next print edition will be distributed on Wednesday, January 21, and a new Reader will hit the streets every two weeks after that.

It's critical to understand that bi-weekly publication of the physical Reader does not mean that we're eliminating content.

All of the features you expect will be available weekly online: an in-depth "cover story," Mike Schulz's movie and theatre reviews, feature articles on musicians and other artists, previews of upcoming events, Joe Collins' City Shorts column, John M. James' Music News column, Amy Alkon's Ask the Advice Goddess, Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology, Max Cannon's Red Meat, and a crossword. Those last four features will be debuting online this week.

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