As the sprawling surveillance site being constructed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in Utah grows larger and nearer completion every day, the domestic spy service remains tightlipped about just how much and what kind of personal electronic data they have already collected and collated. Not only does the NSA refuse to provide such information, it insists that it cannot be forced to.
In July of 2011 and again in May 2012, Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote a letter to James R. Clapper, Jr., the Director of National Intelligence, asking him a series of four questions regarding the activities of the NSA and other intelligence agencies regarding domestic surveillance.
“The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights,” former President Jimmy Carter charged in a June 24 op-ed in the New York Times, charging the United States government with assassination attempts through the use of drones and massive domestic surveillance against the privacy rights of American citizens. But Carter cited the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights rather than the U.S. Bill of Rights as the inspiration to follow and restore a respect for the inalienable rights of others.
Fifteen trillion dollars: That’s how much American taxpayers have forked over in the name of helping the poor since 1964. And what do we have to show for it? A poverty rate that has barely budged, an entrenched bureaucracy, and a population — like that of Greece and Portugal, two welfare-state basket cases — increasingly dependent on government handouts.
These are the conclusions of a recent Cato Institute report on the American welfare state by Michael Tanner, Cato’s director of health and welfare studies and author of The Poverty of Welfare: Helping Others in Civil Society. It is hardly an encouraging read, to say the least.
With the 2012 political season heating up, many people are calling for a ban on the SuperPacs created in the wake of the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision. A few on the left have even called for a constitutional amendment to ban corporations from making political advertisements, for fear that corporations have come to dominate elections in the United States.
In one sense, they are right. But it's not the SuperPacs. The corporations that have been dominating the public debate for decades are the media empires. Right now, six corporations control most of the television, radio, and print publishing networks that Americans see on a daily basis. They drive the debate, and the social issues behind the debate.
The U.S. Supreme Court definitively reaffirmed its 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision in a 5-4 ruling that struck down a Montana state law banning independent expenditures on behalf of political candidates by corporations. The Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the freedoms of speech, press, and assembly.
The Montana law the court struck down in the case American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock had required that a “corporation may not make ... an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.”