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April 2018

A Fiscal Approach to the Wall

in Contemporary Politics/Foreign Policy/Political Issues by

On March 13th of this year, President Trump travelled to California to view eight potential samples for the ‘border wall’ which he promised his supporters during his 2016 Presidential Campaign. The controversial building of the wall had become a talking point, with claims that Mexico would pay for it, which Mexican President Pena Nieto continues to furiously deny. The wall should “only” cost $18 billion dollars, via Trump’s Twitter, and would be paid for through an extension of a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Removing the flagrant social rights violation that this wall imposes and personal biases against the President, the Wall could make sense, right? The United States spends close close to $750 billion dollars each year on defense, and border protection counts as defense.

According to a New York Times article, the Senate Democrats released a report in April of 2017 claiming that the wall would cost an estimated $70 billion, and would cost close to $150 million dollars to maintain each year. The wall will employ an electronically monitored zone between its two sides with armed guards patrolling. Obviously, roads would be protected heavily with gates used for inspection. Theoretically, though the cost is daunting, illegal immigration from South and Latin America would be stopped. However, the wall can easily be circumvented by criminals and immigrants alike. Major cartels can simply pay a border agent to look the other way while they construct a tunnel under the wall. The integrity of these border agents can be bought, blatantly defeating the purpose of the wall. Seeing as the wall would only be 150 feet wide, these tunnels can be done quite effectively. Thousands of criminals can smuggle their drugs and weapons through to the United States while refugees and immigrants would be trapped in their respective countries.

How can the United States then prevent illegal immigration? Recently, increased economic stability in Mexico has decreased the number of illegal immigrants. By investing in Mexican corporations and micro financing small business, the United States can improve the economy there while also making money abroad. With a stronger national economy, Mexico and other Latin American countries will be able to retain potential immigrants who can seek opportunities at their homes. In terms of that $70 billion dollars, the United States can do some good with that money. According to the Borgen project, this money can absolve all world hunger for the next 2.5 years. By investing in Latin America and curing their hunger crisis, the United States can prevent illegal immigration and create strong fiscal ties with a burgeoning superpower.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/see-all-8-prototypes-trump-s-big-beautiful-border-wall-n813346
https://borgenproject.org/the-cost-to-end-world-hunger/
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-visits-california-see-wall-prototypes-near-mexico-border-n854836

Catalonian Crisis: A Look Into Spanish Affairs

in Foreign Policy/Miscellaneous by

Catalonia’s struggle for independence has been heard of all around the world. Catalonia is one of many autonomous communities in Spain, which can be, somewhat, paralleled to the states in the United States. Out of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, Catalonia is the most powerful and self sufficient.

Spain was ruled by a dictatorship until the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. During Franco’s time in power, he created a centralized non-democratic form of government in Spain, and, as such, Catalonia’s autonomous power was taken away and all of their culture was suppressed so that all of Spain could be the same. After Franco’s death, Catalonia was given more powers as an autonomous community than the others because the government in Madrid was aware that Franco stripped the region of almost all of its power as an autonomous community and that the Catalan people were upset by Franco taking their power. Three years after the end of the dictatorship, a constitution was created and with it came the 17 autonomous communities of Spain. This constitution is the foundation of Spanish democracy. When Spain became a democratic country, Catalonia somewhat began to appear independent from Spain; moreover, Catalonia has one of the highest levels of self-governance for a region in all of Europe. The Spanish government realized that it was a possibility for an autonomous community to seek independence and explicitly stated in the constitution that, although autonomous communities are allowed some self-governance, there will be no sovereignty apart from that of the Spanish nation. This and anything in the Spanish constitution can be changed holding a nationwide vote; however, a referendum held by a minority (as was done on the first of October of 2017 in Catalonia) cannot change the law and is considered unconstitutional.

Catalonia has now made themselves appear as if they are victims of the government’s’ suppression; 80 years ago it could have been understood if the people of Catalonia were suppressed, but, as the government has awarded many more rights to the people of Catalonia than other autonomous communities, the Spanish people and government have been upset by the self-victimization of the Catalan people. Schools in Catalonia have punished those who do not partake in independence movements with more homework and are teaching children that the Spanish government and king are monsters, arguing that the Catalan people are simply victims of the Spanish government. Catalonia held a referendum on October 1, 2017, which was done unconstitutionally, in which 40% of all eligible voters in Spain took part in and 92% voted for Catalonia’s independence. However, this was not an official vote, so it is highly plausible that results were tampered with and this was not the true result. Catalonia’s parliament declared independence on October 27 of this past year, even though a proper vote was never held and it is unconstitutional to do so. Spanish flags were taken down from government buildings in Catalonia, and Catalonia’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, has told the people of Catalonia to keep the movement towards independence going in a peaceful manner.  In light of all this, the Spanish government has intervened, and the Spanish Supreme Court has voted to intervene in Catalonia and take over their parliament.

Now, Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain, has sacked Puigdemont and Catalonia’s government. Puigdemont is in exile and is residing in Belgium; he has also chosen to not run for a second term as Catalonia’s regional president. Puigdemont faces charges of sedition and rebellion from Spain, and will not attempt to govern remotely or return back to Spain due to fear of his arrest. Some of Catalonia’s fight for independence’ leaders are now in jail, such as Jordi Sanchez, who was imprisoned by charges of sedition. Puigdemont proposes that he should hand on the torch to Sanchez, which is very unlikely. The Spanish government has successfully brought the rebelliousness taking place in Catalonia close to an end. Spain is now in control of Catalonia’s parliament and will remain in control until they deem the Catalan people ready to regain control.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/29/world/europe/spain-autonomy-catalonia.html
https://politica.elpais.com/politica/2017/11/06/actualidad/1509972380_418347.html
https://academic.oup.com/pa/article-abstract/53/1/55/1446601?redirectedFrom=PDF
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-20345071
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41780116http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/catalonia-independence-latest-carles-puigdemont-withdraws-bid-president-spain-rajoy-a8235606.html
Product of Errant Publishing

Stormy Times at the Trump White House

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

Arguably the leader of the free world and certainly the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump now faces an alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. In a recent 60 Minutes segment, Stormy recounts in excruciating and humiliating detail her version of their affair. She describes spanking him with a rolled up Trump Magazine; she describes how Trump said she “reminds him of my daughter;” she describes feeling no attraction towards him as they had sex; she describes rejecting his advances after watching four hours of Shark Week; she describes being physically threatened by a goon to “leave Trump alone” and “forget the story.”

Trump, notably, hasn’t responded to Stormy’s allegations on Twitter (where he’s notoriously outspoken). In fact, the President’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, initiated arbitration proceedings against Stormy only for violating her NDA (non-disclosure agreement) — not for libel or defamation. Only the current (but subject to change) White House Press Secretary has denied the affair on Trump’s behalf. Trump’s silence regarding Stormy starkly juxtaposes with his typically unabashed spirit.

Unfortunately, the fact that this story even exists speaks to the dire status of our current political climate. Can anyone honestly argue that this scandal is in the least bit surprising?  If anyone thought that Donald Trump was any sort of moral exemplar during the campaign, they were likely not paying close attention. Trump’s innumerable flaws and scandals, however, seem to blunt the effect of any particular one.

Perhaps Stormy’s case is different.

The Stormy Daniels’ scandal perfectly suits our reality TV star President. Infused with sex, money, crime, broken promises, and threats of violence, the affair reads more like a reality TV show than a presidential controversy. Filled with Clickbait, FAKE NEWS, and eye-catching headlines, perhaps Stormy’s more Hollywood-esque controversy will linger in headlines longer than Trump’s countless other scandals. Stormy’s affair may not be Trump’s most egregious scandal, but it’s certainly his most fitting and entertaining one: Trumpian times call for Trumpian measures.

Ultimately, Trump’s porn star affair just further degrades the Office of the Presidency, embarrassing the US internally and internationally. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to methodically investigate the possible crimes of the President and his affiliates. As the Mueller investigation escalates, any truth behind the Trump/Russia collusion accusations seems more likely to emerge.  Stormy Daniels may have captivated the public’s attention, but Robert Mueller is bringing the real storm to the White House.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stormy-daniels-describes-her-alleged-affair-with-donald-trump-60-minutes-interview/
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/us/stormy-daniels-trump-lawsuit.html

A Salute to Service

in Contemporary Politics/Political Issues by

In week 10 of the 2012 NFL season, a young and inexperienced quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, checked into the game to replace the recently concussed Alex Smith. Kaepernick churned out a mediocre game and led the 49ers into a tie, an occurrence that the league had not seen in the previous 4 seasons. It would be an understatement to say this first game would be the only history that Kaepernick would make in his football career.

As Kaepernick was establishing himself as a prominent quarterback, the US began to experience an unprecedented amount of incidents pertaining to police brutality against black males. Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and many others became the faces of this sudden and unfortunate trend in law enforcement. The story was all too familiar: a black male found himself in an encounter with an officer (or gun owner) and somehow ended up dead. This national problem was only exacerbated by questionable court decisions, violent post-riots, and social media. For Kaepernick, he had seen enough. On August 14, 2017, Kaepernick sat during the anthem for a preseason game. Initially, the first protest was not noticed until Kaepernick formally called attention to himself on August 28, prompting the nation to notice and form opinions. Kaepernick explained how he did not “want to show pride to a nation that oppresses people of color” and how that concept alone prevented him from standing during the anthem.

To provide context about Kaepernick’s protests, the truth about the NFL and its relation to the Department of Defense (DOD) should be explained. It was not until 2009 that the NFL changed their legislation regarding the anthem, then “encouraging” players to stand, when before, standing was not mandated, and some teams chose to stay in their locker rooms. In 2015, it was revealed that the DOD hashed out 5.4 million dollars to a number of NFL teams to coordinate “patriotic salutes.” If you have ever been to a football game, the short pauses in the match to recognize veterans, or even the choosing of military personnel to sing the anthem are all manufactured stunts hoping to increase recruitment rates.

As we all know, Kaepernick’s protest faced enormous national backlash. To start, many labeled the protest as disrespectful and out of place for an NFL athlete. A popular opinion was that a pampered, successful NFL player should not take any political stances, while others called the demonstration inconsiderate to the thousands of servicemen and women who risk their life daily. Even Alejandro Villanueva, a well-respected guard for the Steelers who is in the military, said “ I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down.”

Considering this backlash, it is important to remember that protesting is a constitutional right. People choose to silence Kaepernick due to his wealth and fame as he, as well as many other African-American athletes, is seen as “lucky” in the public eye. Society sees these successful black men and hopes to keep them in check by belittling their political views or rights as Americans. And for those who deem the protests “unpatriotic,” is it wrong for one to want a better future for their race, a better place for their kids? Ironically, Kaepernick’s actions are the most American because, though unpopular to some, they challenge the faults our society attempts to keep hidden. Kaepernick’s kneeling is a direct manifestation of what our servicemen and women fight for on a daily basis: the ability to stand up (or kneel) to our government.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.sbnation.com/2016/9/11/12869726/colin-kaepernick-national-anthem-protest-seahawks-brandon-marshall-nfl
https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/opinion/colin-kaepernick-football-protests.html
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/17/us/black-deaths-police.html
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