It is the duty of the United States Government at the most basic level to protect and defend our Constitutional Rights. The Constitution is the most important document in the history of our country, and the rights that are in it are basic inalienable human rights.
The first thing that a tyrannical government would do is subvert the authority of the Constitution, and deny the citizenry these basic rights.
The United States Government until multiple administrations has denied the public these Constitutional Rights, and has wrongfully infringed upon the liberty of every single American citizen with their harmful and morally abhorrent policies of Mass Surveillance. The 4th Amendment clearly states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Regardless of your views on Domestic Surveillance, one must clearly understand that the purpose of the 4th Amendment was to protect American Citizens from unreasonable searches and to be secure in their home. The NSA is illegally violating our rights by tapping our phones, recording our conversations, and using our electronics to spy on us. I would argue that the policies of bulk data collection and the way in which our government spies on us is reminiscent of 1984, and must end.
The excuse of “National Security” is ridiculous, and it has been proven that bulk data collection does not hinder terrorist organizations in any significant way. There is a price for security, and we are paying the price but receiving nothing in return.
I am not as concerned with terrorists as I am with the government thinking that it is ok to violate the Constitution. What right is safe if we are not entitled to the rights given to us in the Constitution? These policies set a dangerous precedent, and I would argue that it is the responsibility of the American populace to fight for each and every one of your rights.
The problem with bulk data collection is that it is covert. You do not know when the NSA is listening to what you are doing, or violating your privacy. Imagine the outrage if the NSA or any other government agency began driving house to house and seizing guns and ammo? There would rightfully be a rebellion!
There is a line between privacy and security, and for the past 17 years the US Government has been crossing that line every day! The most efficient way to counter potential terrorist plots and other illegal activities is not mass surveillance, it is targeted surveillance on small groups of people, it is impossible to sift through the data that the NSA is collecting.
Our government is not inherently evil, neither is the NSA. However, the most important check on tyranny is the power of large groups of people paying attention to a certain subject. This is something that needs to happen as we go deeper into the Digital Age. There must be clear restrictions on surveillance, and it must be reasonable, and should not be what the NSA is doing right now. We all have a right to privacy, and we must fight for it.
Having an online presence is economically and socially integral to the lives of all Americans. It is how we communicate with others, pay our bills, order things we need. The NSA, corporations, and other entities must respect our privacy, and the people must understand how the government is tracking them online.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most significant countries in the Middle East, and a long-standing US Ally in the region. The US has sold $110 Billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia ranks 3rd highest in defense spending, higher than even Russia, and their defense spending is an astonishing 13.7% of their GDP. They are a relatively wealthy nation, with massive oil reserves, and a hereditary monarchy. However, they are one of the worst human rights abusers in our modern world.
In Saudi Arabia, there are no trials by jury, a right guaranteed in the US Constitution in the 6th Amendment. Those prosecuted are often routinely tortured, denied representation, and the trials are held in secret with little formality or oversight.
Being a homosexual is punishable by execution, and Saudi Arabia executes those "convicted" of crimes by stoning or public beheading. Saudi Arabia continues to convict political dissidents and religious minorities because of their peaceful activities. Recent "anti-terrorism" regulations are routinely used to imprison dissidents, and protestors are often sentenced to death, or given lengthy prison sentences.
In addition, religious minorities are often discriminated upon or physically harmed. A 28-year old Atheist was given 10 years in prison, ordered to pay around 5000 dollars, and receive 2,000 lashes for denying the existence of a God and expressing himself. This is barbaric, and wrong. Saudi Arabia adheres to an ultraconservative form of Islam, Wahhabism, and even has their own religious force called the Police of Vice and Virtue, whose job is to enforce Sharia law, and the tenets of Wahhabism.
A 17-year old Saudi teenager named Ali Mohhamed Baqir al-Nimhr participated in the Arab Spring Protests in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to be publicly beheaded and crucified, just for protesting against the morally abhorrent policies of the Saudi Government.
The World Economic Forum ranked Saudi Arabia 134th out of 145th for Gender Equality. Women are forbidden to drive, and required to have a male guardian. Women constitute 13% of the Saudi Workforce, and are required to exclusively work in areas where they do not have contact with the opposite gender. Public Education in Saudi Arabia is gender-segregated, and no teacher is allowed to teach the opposite sex. In addition, in order to even leave the house, women have to have a signed card from a male relative.
In conclusion, this form of discrimination is disgusting and wrong. Wahhabism and its concepts are oppressive, and clearly violate the inalienable rights of the people of Saudi Arabia. It is morally repugnant that the United States even considers supporting the authoritarian Saudi Monarchy, and the only reason that we have relations with them is because of their military and their oil. But that is not a legitimate excuse to support their regime. Leftish firmly condemns any intentional financial or economic support to Saudi Arabia, due to their abhorrent human right's record, and their violation of the liberties of every Saudi citizen. What the Saudis are doing is wrong, and it must be discouraged and stopped. We must not isolate Saudi Arabia, we mustn't cut them off from the rest of the world. But we must make them understand along with the rest of our Western allies that their behavior is not acceptable, and is repugnant to the values of our free nation.
Christmas is the most significant holiday in our culture. Millions around the world celebrate it, and it is marked by the usual festivities. However, one must reflect upon what is actually happening in the Holiday Season to reach an understanding of what this holiday has become.
I was walking around in the middle of my town in October, and I noticed that one of the stores had their Christmas Decorations up. This was highly unusual, however it becomes less and less unusual when one looks around. When one watches TV, you cannot go two minutes without seeing ads for "Christmas Deals." The meaning of the Holiday itself has become more and more commercialized as the years have gone on. The meaning of the occasion has lost a definition, besides the usual cliche of "Do you have any Christmas Spirit?"
Many religious conservatives have taken it upon themselves to construct a "War on Christmas," believing that the hordes of irreligious liberals like myself have decided to try to get Christmas banned. This is just a pretext to allow them to pervade our society with their supposedly "religious" bigotry. They want Christmas to return to its "fundamentalist" roots, forgetting that the Winter Solstice, AKA "Christmas" was originally a Pagan Holiday.
Regardless, the point is, reflecting upon and understanding what our traditions are like allow us to improve them, or maybe do some actual good. Try to make the gifts this year more personal, or more meaningful. This year I gave my sister a Pyschiatric Dictionary, even though I could've just gotten her candy, or something cheaper.
Do not let the meaning of the Winter Solstice be obscured by consumerism, or faux-religious ideology. And try to enjoy yourself.
A quote that is falsely attributed to Charles Darwin says, “ It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Regardless of the source, the idea stands, the idea that adaptation is the key to survival is one that logically makes sense.
Under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Party has become too focused on social change instead of economic change, failing to present our economic agenda in an effective manner and instead focusing on the groups that Donald Trump aggressively vilified.. In addition, evidence shows that the DNC treated Bernie Sanders unfairly in the primaries. Regardless of the truth of that, it turned many Bernie voters away from voting Democratic.
The Democratic Party needs a new face, new leaders, and we need to rethink what we want to focus on in order to win elections. Keith Ellison is the change that the Democratic Party needs in order to win again. Rep. Ellison is the first Black Muslim in Congress, and endorsed Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and in the general he emerged as one of the strongest advocates for the Clinton Campaign. He is young, progressive, and the leader that we need. Keith Ellison stands for the ideals that made the Democratic Party great, Ellison has a 100% rating from NARAL, and is generally regarded as a progressive who stands by his beliefs.
Keith Ellison is running against several others for Chair of the DNC, including former Presidential Candidates Howard Dean and Martin O’Malley. Howard Dean was the grassroots progressive candidate in the 2004 election, and head of the DNC for quite a few years, however he is not the right choice. Howard Dean is employed by a Health Care Lobbying Firm, and opposes a single-payer healthcare system. In addition, the lobbying firm that he works for merged with a Chinese State-owned law firm. He is the face of the old Democratic Party, and we need a new one in order to reach out to the American People and ensure that we win more elections.
. Keith Ellison is the reputation that the Democratic Party deserves and needs. The Democratic Party is the party of the people, and the party that needs to stand against the corporate interest groups and the corruption that pervades the Government. In this we have failed. Electing Howard Dean as the head of the Democratic Party is akin to trying to save a dying horse instead of getting a new one.
In order to gain the respect of the American People, the Democratic Party must end the influence of corporations in the party structure, and instead look to ordinary people for change. Donald Trump won because he was new, and he promised change. Whether or not he will actually do what he promises is debatable, however Hillary Clinton was seen as a relic of the past. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump did so well because they promised real change through the power of ordinary people. Bernie promised real change, and stood by what he believes in, instead of promising progressive ideas and changing your position because you’re losing like what Hillary did. We need that kind of leadership in order to succeed, and Keith Ellison is that change.
Keith Ellison has the support of Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, and would bring vitality and a fresh face to the ranks of the DNC. Keith Ellison is incorruptible, progressive, and intelligent. If the Democratic Party wants to reinvent itself, Keith Ellison is the right choice.
China’s relationship with the United States has been complicated, to say the least. Ever since Nixon visited China in 1972, China and the US have enjoyed somewhat warm relations, China and the US are major trading partners, and major players on the International Stage. However, we must keep in mind that the People’s Republic of China is an undemocratic state that has an abhorrent civil rights record, and frequently spies on its citizens in order to curb unrest.
Is it morally right to maintain relations with this country? Probably not. However, in order to bring gradual democratic change to the PRC, we must keep it globally engaged and peaceful. Alienating China will allow it to oppress its people, and make the people of China despise the United States. That is why it is so concerning for Leftish to hear of Donald Trump speaking with the President of Taiwan, and possibly ending the One China policy.
We are not friends of China, but we must ensure that we have good relations with them in order to avoid conflict, and bring about gradual change. Donald Trump’s diplomatic missteps are catastrophic to US-China relations. Already, Chinese state-run newspapers are calling Trump “Ignorant.”
Donald Trump knows nothing of the intricacies of foreign policy, neither does Mike Pence. This is the problem with electing a President with 0 experience.
China does or will perceive Donald Trump to be stupid and ignorant, and will try to take advantage of that, especially because of things like how he will not take daily intelligence briefings.
The President of the United States and leader of the Free World must be capable, informed, and diplomatic when dealing with other nations and cultures like the PRC. Donald Trump is not known for any of those things. We will be seen as ridiculous, and weak. The US must be able to stand for what it believes in, especially in fragile conflicts like what we are experiencing in the South China Sea.
Donald Trump will be a disaster as a Diplomat, and as a President. China, like Russia, will take advantage of his stupidity, and push the US around.
Communism is a controversial topic to many people. Ever since the red-baiting xenophobic “Red Scares” of the 1920’s and 1950’s, most Americans have looked upon Communism with great distaste and fear.
Before I speak further on the topic, one must understand Communism in base form, as if approaching the ideology for the first time. According to Merriam-Webster, Communism is
a : a theory advocating elimination of private property
b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as neededThese are inherently “Anti-American” Ideals, our Government was founded on Locke’s Natural Rights, and Limited Government*.
However, once these immigrants came to the United States in the early 1900’s, many found themselves stuck in dangerous and unsafe jobs, working long hours just so that the rich owners of their company could get fatter and fatter off of the labor of the masses. These laborers often worked small roles, just a tiny cog in a vast machine. This led to discontent, and strife, as workers thought their contributions to be meaningless. Karl Marx called this “Entfremdung,” or Alienation.
America is the place where you get to be what you make yourself. Subjugating the individual under the iron boot of profit is not what the Founding Fathers would have wanted.
As with everything, Communism should not be rejected in entirety. However, it is not without faults.
Before I begin to speak on this subject, one must understand a few things. When Communism came into being in the late 1800’s, there were two main branches. Scientific Socialism and Utopian Socialism. Scientific Socialism is what we know about from nations such as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the People’s Republic of China. Utopian Socialism never gained ground in any particular country, however some elements of it were displayed by the Paris Commune of 1871, and by the Spanish Popular Front in the Spanish Civil War, or even as early as the French Revolution.
Regardless of the history behind the ideas, one must understand that you cannot equate all of Communism with Stalinism or Maoism. That would be like equating all of Capitalism with Monetarism, that would be ignoring other important branches like Keynesian Economics.
But to continue, because of American Propaganda, Communism is equated with repression, mass executions, and authoritarian states, which certainly happened within its history, but does not give you the full scope of the ideology.
Karl Marx believed that everyone should be given equal opportunity, and everyone should be able to enjoy their lives. He believed that the lowest in his society are equal to the highest of Kings. Does this sound un-American to you?
My economic beliefs are primarily rooted in Keynesian thought, however what I am trying to say is that Marxism, and Communism as a whole, can have a real impact on our society if we choose to understand it and learn from it with an open mind.
Those who blindly view Communism as “evil” are foolish, close-minded, and ignorant, and I firmly believe that while ideas are not inherently evil, some, such as eugenics or White Supremacy, are morally wrong, and irrational.
Communism in the United States has a complicated history, and one that must be taken seriously. While the Communist and Socialist Movements have never been able to influence public policy in their favor, the US Government used the rise of Bolshevism and the Soviet Union as an excuse to crack down on “radicals,” immigrants, and many left-leaning groups.
Conflicts between left-leaning groups and supposed “Patriot” Groups have been frequent, the most notable being the Centralia Massacre, where the Revolutionary Industrial Union the IWW fought against the American Legion, resulting in 6 deaths.
In 1917, President Wilson and the US Congress passed the Espionage and Sedition Acts, which made it illegal to speak out against the Government and the war effort. This was used to jail Communists, Socialists, “Radicals”, and many other groups, like Suffragettes. The Palmer Raids of 1919 led to the unjustified and illegal search and seizure of property, as well as the illegal deportation of hundreds of immigrants.
This is not an antiquated practice either. The word “Socialist” is still a dirty word in American politics.
Regardless of your opinion of Communism, one cannot simply ignore it, or dismiss it as impractical. In order to build a more successful United States, we must fix the inherent deficiencies in Capitalism, and part of that is taking inspiration from the Socialist/Communist Ideology, by improving workers rights, funding Social Security, and bringing back massive public works projects to provide labor to the unemployed, like a modern CCC.
We must understand the past in order to build a better future, and learning about this ideology, and knowing it’s history is an important part of that process.
We must not allow ourselves to be inherently biased, by viewing unemployment as bad, or by dismissing those who do not hold a single profession.
To be a better human being is to open oneself up to new ideas and points of view. This is just one example out of many.
We pride ourselves as a nation on our ability to make great things. To innovate, to correct our mistakes, and to improve ourselves through the test of time, and through the consumer. While the merits of these systems are debatable, along with most other things, one thing is certain.
Corporate Welfare defies the basic nature of our economy, and of the free market.
But in order to be fair, let’s take a look at the company that receives the most funding from the Federal Government, which is Boeing.
Boeing is the company that makes the planes that we fly in. They make rockets, satellites, etc, and work on many projects for the Department of Defense.
In 2015, Boeing had a net income of $5.176 Billion.
They also receive around 10 to 15 billion dollars in subsidies every year, in addition to massive tax breaks, and the fact that they they apparently threatened the Washington State Legislature.
Is it right that one of the most profitable companies in the world receives billions of dollars in subsidies in tax breaks?
Could this money be spent to fund education, health-care, Pell Grants, or debt interest? Yes.It is not the responsibility of the US Government or the taxpayers of our country to fund these for-profit companies.
But, because of the disastrous Citizens United hearing, corporations are allowed influence in our government that objectively is corruption.
In 2015, Boeing invested around $3,647,000 in our elected officials, including members from both parties like Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Hillary Clinton (D). They rank 7th out of the thousands of companies that donate to politicians.
Lobbying is a profitable investmentHow well does it reflect on our society that companies actively spend money lobbying politicians for handouts from a government that needs the money?
We must ensure that no businesses receive handouts for CEO Pay, and instead must be expected to survive in the free-market without the assistance of the taxpayer.
Allowing these companies to receive billions of dollars in handouts violates the nature of capitalism itself, and nurtures a culture of reliability.
When the line between business and government blurs, the people lose.This is not a partisan issue. Companies fund our elected officials on both sides of the aisle, and companies have tentacles into the deepest recesses of our government.
Donald Trump promised to keep jobs in the United States. It initially appeared that he miraculously managed to do that with the Carrier deal in Indiana, but it turns out that in exchange for Carrier keeping the 2,000 jobs in the United States, which is a drop in the bucket in the US Labor Force, Carrier will receive around $7 million in tax incentives.
Donald Trump’s policy of bribing companies to stay is unsustainable in the long time, and lets the business community know that they will receive even more handouts if they threaten to leave. He is not a negotiator, he is bending over backwards to satisfy his corporate associates.
In order to remove this culture of dependence, there are a few things that we can do.
Note- This article was inspired by the “Heartbeat” Bill passed by the Ohio State Legislature. Find more information about that piece of legislation here
The United States of America is a free nation, a free society, and has a Constitution to protect the liberties of the citizenry.
Leftish likes to think that each person has a right to control what happens to their body, and what happens with their family, and their rights.
The Republican Party and the Conservative Wing of the Democratic Party has for years attempted to restrict the rights of women, based on a flawed religious-based thought that abortion should be illegal.
But Leftish firmly believes that every woman has a right to control what happens in her body, and that the rights of women are infringed upon by the disgusting and malicious efforts by conservatives to restrict the right to choose.
This “Heartbeat” Bill that the Ohio GOP is trying to pass bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, or whenever the fetus has a detectable heartbeat.
But do you know what all of these “pro-life” bills lead to?
Unsafe abortions, unwanted children, and a stressful experience for all involved.
Let’s look at the first effect, which is the most concerning. Generally, abortions are very safe. Somebody has a higher chance of dying from a colonoscopy than dying from an abortion. However, due to strict access on abortion providers, many women have been forced to undertake unsafe and self-induced abortions.
Researchers from TxPEP, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, have estimated that between 100,000 and 240,000 women in Texas have attempted self-induced abortions. The research has also shown that the majority of Texan women who attempt self-induced abortions blame it on a lack of access to safe abortion facilities.
These unsafe procedures are dangerous for the mother, and for the fetus, and Republicans who claim to be “pro-life” are the cause for them. And they would argue that the woman should carry them to term, and put the baby up for adoption, but that is often difficult or traumatic, especially in cases of incest or rape.
In addition, Child Protective Services in Texas is not well funded, and may even be abusive to the children in the system.
The point of this is to show that regardless of whether or not they have access to abortion facilities, women will attempt to have them anyway, and the best option for the safety of these women is to allow them to have these abortions in a safe and hygienic environment.
This “Heartbeat Law”, and laws similar to it, violate the rights of the individual, and seek to establish government control over the body, which sets a dangerous legal precedent.
We must not allow religious bigotry to dictate our actions. We must fight these abhorrent laws to the extent of our abilities. The right to choose at this point in America is a privilege, not a right. Fight if you want to make ensure that the women in our country will remain in control of their bodies. The moment that we acquiesce to these changes, that is the moment that we lose that right forever.
The strongest force for real change in the United States is ordinary people. We’ve seen that with the Tea Party, with Occupy Wall Street, and countless other examples. It is a fact that when people work together for real change, they win a vast majority of the time. Brave patriots in the 13 Colonies fought to overthrow the British and have self-government. Minorities fought in the Civil Right’s Movement to have the right to be treated equally. There are very few things that groups of regular people cannot accomplish.
Some of the leaders in the Democratic Party do not understand this. They believe that money can win elections because money buys votes through advertising and other methods of outreach. They do not believe in the strength of the American People. They look to Wall Street and other special interests to finance their efforts, and ignore the real struggles of ordinary people. The struggles of regular people seem less important when you’re dealing with millions upon millions of dollars of campaign contributions. What the Democratic Party need as a party, as a movement, is a radical change in ideals. We need to be able to identify with the struggles of ordinary people.
These are not new concepts. Ever since politicians have been around, people have bellyached about the disconnect between their politicians and ordinary people. But these problems have solutions that will at least alleviate if not fix what our problems are.
The only way that we will do better in elections is if we restore a sense of decency to the political process, and purge the influence of corporations in our government