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.

What are you willing to do to stop Congress permitting the largest energy companies, such as Exxon and BP, from purchasing excessive numbers of oil-drilling leases from the federal Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in areas designated for oil extraction? The oil giants then allow the leases to remain dormant for the entire length of the contracts. Why? Because these drilling leases are bought specifically to prevent medium-to-small drillers from competitively extracting the oil, thereby shrinking the oil supply, especially domestically.

Controlling the leases but letting them sit idle gives the oil giants even greater monopolistic control of the supply of oil, guaranteeing maximum profits while eliminating thousands of American jobs. Congress and the Bureau of Land Management are perpetuating America dependence on, and further enriching, foreign countries, as well as protecting big oil's own considerable investments in drilling sites abroad.

To top off this perfectly loathsome economic policy, these same big-oil giants receive huge annual taxpayer subsidies in the billions of dollars, even though they enjoy obscene profits but pay less than 5 percent in taxes - and, more often than not, no taxes at all!

"Men who destroyed their own companies and plunged the world into financial crisis walked away from the wreckage with their fortunes intact." - Inside Job

The Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job, directed by Charles Ferguson, is now out on DVD. The film, narrated by Matt Damon, documents the origins of the financial meltdown that defined the end of George W. Bush's second term, and the fallout that is defining Barack Obama's presidency.

Inside Job is well-crafted, pulls no punches, and is a must-rent DVD for anyone who wants to understand in layman's terms who and what caused the financial "Armageddon" that continues to plague global and domestic markets. Most importantly, Inside Job showcases how nothing has changed - and it's about to happen all over again if we don't wise up.

I beg your indulgence here. I think most of us would agree that something is deeply wrong with the economy and American governance in these times. For most, the problems are too big to tackle, let alone contemplate for very long. Generally speaking, today's activists, whether liberal or conservative, are likely to have had a personal experience that motivates their "getting involved," or they have been recruited - some for pay.

The percentage of those involved for personal reasons, compared to those actually being paid for some form of civic activism, is dismally small. And that is one of the core problems in these times. Our grandparents and great-grandparents would be shocked to see the utter lack of civic participation that defines our era. Such participation was part of their daily lives back in the day. Town squares, city halls, and county seats - all were bustling places of communication and influence by regular citizens, resulting in politicians who took the voters far more seriously.

So what is the price of civic laziness? Look around. For the first time in the history of our country, our generation is financially worse off than our parents, and our children will be worse off than us. Furthermore, our liberties are being increasingly eroded by legislation that the average American knows nothing about, which essentially means laws and policies are systematically being enacted without our consent.

How's this for a conspiracy theory? A global agenda, unveiled in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development (UNCED, also known as the Rio Earth Summit), that is being progressively implemented in every level of government in America through a United Nations (UN) initiative called Sustainable Development Agenda 21. Agenda 21, as it is referred to in the UN's own documentation (UN.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21), is "a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts [sic] on the environment."

Its purpose: to centrally own and control the planet's resources under the guise of "smart planning" and "sustainable development." In fact, for most UN-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Agenda 21 is synonymous with sustainable development.

The two primary goals of Agenda 21 are to (1) decrease the world population to "sustainable" levels as a means to effectively control labor, the planet's number-one resource, and (2) eradicate individual property rights via comprehensive land-use planning that dictates land use according to a global master plan that includes control of everything from food to health to energy to security, and the list goes on.

Locally, in Scott County, the slow incremental steps of this globalist agenda are wide open for all to see. On February 3, the Scott County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to adopt the state of Iowa's "Smart Planning Principles" as part of its Comprehensive Plan. The language of such principles sounds laudable on the surface: collaboration, efficiency, diversity, revitalization. Who could not be for these principles?

Pages