About the Defense of Marriage Act

Byname of U.S. Public Law 104-199., the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) law in force from 1996 up to 2013 which specifically denied all same-sex couples all federal recognition and benefits bestowed upon opposite-sex couples. What those benefits included owe over 1,000 federal privileges and protections, for example access to employment benefits of a partner, recognition of relationship, joint tax returns, tax exemptions, residency or immigration or partners which were not citizens, rights of inheritance, protection from domestic violence, next-of-kin status. As well as the right to live together in college or military housing.

What the DOMA mandated was that states that banned same-sex marriage were not under the obligation to recognize same-sex marriages which had been performed in other states, this went as far as stating that for purposes of federal law, marriage could only take place between a man and a woman. When introduced, the act received overwhelming support from Congress even thought was speculated that same-sex marriage would soon be legalized in Hawaii, meaning the other states will be forced to recognize same-sex marriages which had occurred in Hawaii. The DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996. After that occurred, around forty states enacted unequivocal bans in either state laws or state constitutions on same-sex marriage.

A nonbiological parent in a same-sex couple under DOMA was not able to have a legal relationship established with the biological parent´s child or children; same-sex partners were also not allowed to take a family medical leave to care for their partners or nonbiological children, to adopt the children, or id the relationship ended, to petition the court for child support, custody, or visitations.

The way that DOMA advocates viewed opposite-sex marriage was as being the only appropriate context for procreation and for forming a family According to supporters of DOMA, alternative family formations was validated by same-sex marriage, it undermined monogamy and opposite-sex marriage, it encouraged relationships that were incestuous as well as polygamous marriage. Opponents argued that definition of marriage and family that were narrow like this devalued every other kind of relationship and family, discriminated based off of sex, and related homosexuality with polygamy and incest.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the definition the DOMA placed on marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman in 2013 (United States v. Windsor). The provision of law which had allowed these states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that had taken place in another jurisdiction was in 2015 invalidated by the court (Obergefell v. Hodges), which granted same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry.

Just What Is NATO Exactly?

If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you might have heard the term ‘NATO’ getting thrown around some. The organization was a campaign issue during the 2016 presidential campaign, as the Republican candidate Donald Trump threatened to weaken or even leave the alliance, charging that some nations were not paying their share. After his win and assuming power in the White House, his commitment to the alliance was a foreign affairs matter in his first trip overseas. The constant mention of NATO in the news left a lot of folks wondering what NATO is and how does it influence politics in the US.

NATO is an acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Its roots trace back to the conclusion of World War II in the European theater. It took the combined Allied forces from North America, Western European nations, and the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany. As a result, the USSR (now Russia) occupied much of Eastern Europe at the end of the war, including half of Germany. Those nations had communist rule and were politically and militarily subservient to Moscow’s wishes. They collectively formed a multinational alliance known as the Warsaw Pact.

NATO was a vehicle for the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other nations to join together to stand with one another in the threat of global war with the Soviet Union and its vassal states. The actual line-up of NATO states has grown and changed over time, now reaching to places like Turkey and the Baltic States. Many other former Soviet republics or Warsaw Pact nations are either now members of the Alliance or petitioning to join.

Article V of the NATO charter is what states that allies must come to the aid of a member state when attacked. Despite all the tension of the Cold War, this clause was only triggered once during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

While the Cold War is long over and the Warsaw Pact is gone, a resurgent Russia is challenging the strength and unity of the remaining NATO alliance. The possibility of a Russian invasion of places like the Baltic states concerns the alliance possibly being triggered and used, and while President Trump did not initially voice support for Article V commitment, he has done so since. The alliance will stay in the news for some time to come.

A Closer Look At The United Nations

The United Nations is an organization that was formed to maintain international peace, cooperation, and order among the countries and states that are members. It currently has 196 member states and was founded in 1945 in order to act on issues affecting humanity in the 21st century. This organization is financed by the member states and is the most powerful inter-governmental organization on Earth. This organization mainly focuses on promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, providing aid to countries affected by conflict or natural disasters and is committed to world peace on the whole. At the end of the Cold War, the United Nations took on the role of being peacekeepers throughout the world and has had some good success in doing so.

This organization is all about maintaining international peace and security and was founded after the second world war to do just that. The UN has peacekeepers that actively work to prevent conflict and help conflicting countries or nations to make peace. They also work hard to create the right conditions for peace to hold and allow the nation to flourish.

Protecting human rights is another major task that the United Nations sets out to achieve. It is one of their key purposes and is a guiding principle of the organization. They created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 that makes human rights an important component of international law.

Delivering humanitarian aid is another key purpose of the UN. They first started after the devastation caused by World War II by helping Europe to completely rebuild. They are usually relied upon to organize relief operations for both natural disasters and man-made conflicts around the world.

Promoting sustainable development has become a main priority of the United Nations. They seek to improve the well-being of people in disadvantaged countries and situations without any attention being paid to gender, sex, race, religion or language. Sustainable development with protection of the environment is actively promoted since the well-being of both humans and the earth is seen as critical.

Lastly, upholding the international law is a key part of the role of this organization. All of the member states of the UN are bound by these laws and the UN charter is seen as an international treaty which all member states have to abide by.

In closing, we have just looked at what is the United Nations. We have covered the main roles of this organization and how they work to improve the world not just for one nation, but all.

Understanding The War On Drugs

The War On Drugs is primarily associated with the United States desire to end the illegal drug trade and influx of drugs into the nation. The initiative was begun under the presidency of Richard Nixon and set forth a number of policies that were designed to end the production, consumption, and distribution of illegal psychoactive drugs. It was at this time in 1971 that President Nixon announced that drug abuse was considered “public enemy number one”. This war that began over 45 years ago costs American taxpayers over 51 billion dollars a year.

The war on drugs would pick up considerable steam under the Reagan administration. In fact, it was Nancy Reagan who would create the Just Say No campaign to introduce this war to children across the world. The campaign would use cartoon and sitcom stars to showcase this new aspect of the war. While it was a highly successful campaign and got children talking about drugs in the open, it did very little to slow down drug use in the nation (especially in Missouri) or world.

The war on drugs would continue through the next several presidential administrations with very little change. It would not be until President Obama took office that the war would take on a new course. While the war would continue, the administration decided it would no longer be known as a war on drugs. It was decided that the term was counter-productive and that drugs needed to be treated as a disease and not the enemy. In fact, it was the drug policy of Sweden that changed the policy of the United States. Within Sweden, there has been great care to provide health care for drug addiction as well as drug legalization. It has been shown to work as the Swedens use of cocaine is barely one-fifth of what Spain uses. It is assumed if we follow a similar policy the drug rate will lower. Which is one of the reasons there has been a considerable turn on the legalization of marijuana in this country?

However, with all of the policies and money that has been spent the war on drugs was declared a failure in 2011. In addition, it was stated that the world is a worse position due to the war on drugs. It is now known that new initiatives need to be put in place and the world needs to rethink drug policies.

The Threat Of Cyberterrorism

Cyberterrorism is on the rise, with more and more attacks being reported on a daily basis. Large computer hacks on corporations, government databases, and computer networks are becoming more common and more people are having their private information stolen by cyber terrorists. Cyber terrorists could potentially disable power grids or even bring down the Internet, which could result in disaster.

Cyberterror attacks could bring down the banking system and even start a nuclear war if the terrorists were able to successfully hack the military. One of the worst things about cyberterrorism is that it operates in the shadows and it is extremely difficult to actually apprehend anyone.

You can find hackers who are actively trying to do harm anywhere from ISIS to neo-Nazi groups. Their intent is to create chaos and steal personal information from multiple people to both track people and cause financial harm. On an individual level, being hacked causes extreme stress and you feel that your privacy has been invaded.

Cyber terrorists have a larger goal of carrying out attacks that are actually going to kill people, like tampering with the computers that run nuclear energy plants for example. These attackers will try to create chaos in any way possible and will look for loopholes that allow them to get access to the most sensitive information they can find.

Power stations could be potentially vulnerable as there are so many of them and it is impossible to fully protect them. If hackers managed to shut down a power station in the heat of the summer, it could be disastrous because thousands of people would temporarily lose their air conditioning and their refrigerators would go out.

Cyberterrorists look for vulnerability and when they find it, they exploit it. Whether they are working on disrupting the financial system or taking down infrastructure, eventually an attack is going to succeed. Any computer system is going to be vulnerable to attack, no matter how much security is in place. A good cyber terrorist is going to find a way to get around those security measures and try to harm people in the worst way they can.

Oil refineries, water plants, pipelines and more could be vulnerable to an attack. It would be wrong to underestimate how much chaos an attack could cause. Hackers could even do something like attack retailers before Christmas and cause extreme financial harm to them. Cyber terrorism is a real threat.

An Introduction to the History of Political Debates in the United States

When you hear the word “election,” one of the first things that probably pops into your mind is the very public debate system that is now used for every seat from President to the city council. However, you might not know much about the history of political debates and how they became an important part of the election process.

For much of the history of the country, debates were a non-issue. The first actual debate involved Abraham Lincoln before he became president of the country. He had followed a competitor and questioned him from the audience. At one particular venue on the journey, both men took the stage and debated for more than three hours about the issues of the day.

However, the trend did not catch on at that point in time. Many years later, the radio helped a bit with attention to Thomas Dewey and fellow presidential contender Harold Stassen taking to the airwaves to debate their differences on communism and whether it should be outlawed in the country. A few more debates even took place on television with little fanfare.

That all changed when future presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy engaged in a televised debate during late September 1960. Nixon was not feeling well and had been hospitalized recently. His color was poor and he had dropped some weight while ill, making him look even more gaunt.

On the other side of the stage sat JFK, just back from California and showing off the casually handsome tan and winning smile the young man became known for. While those who listened on the radio found Nixon held himself well during the debate, those who were watching future-President Kennedy were mesmerized, at least somewhat, by the healthy and energetic young candidate. It’s sad what happened to him in Texas.

It became clear that debates were a huge deal in election outcomes and that appearances played a big role, possibly even more than where candidates stood on issues. It has been more than 50 years since then, and debates take place at every level of the political field today.

While it seems earlier citizens had little interest in debates, the addition of television access to the political process seems to have changed all of that. Though few candidates resemble JFK, they have learned the lessons of charm and ease when speaking to the public. Every debate these days has something interesting to unveil!

What Is the Ideology of Communism?

The definition of communism is that it is a political philosophy that bases itself on community ownership with no class system. It is the opposite of capitalism where the working class or proletariat is run by the wealthy class or the bourgeoisie.

The ideology is based on an idea of equality. But in actuality when put into practice in government, it has lead to authoritarian rule, which caused many millions of deaths and human rights violations. The schools of thought pertaining to communism include Marxism, anarchism, and branches of these philosophies which all share the basic tenant that when societal order is based on capitalism there are always going to be revolutions.

This is thought to be because the working class and the wealthy class are always in strife. The working class has to work just to survive and the wealthy class develops wealth from the hard work of the proletariat. The wealthy class is a minority and, as such, is the object of the working class’s inability to rise above their position in life and gain profit from the very work they do. The thought of communism is based also on there being a social ownership of businesses and agriculture.

There are criticisms of communism that can be divided into two categories. One is concerned with observing it from things that have occurred in the 20th century in real communist countries. The other is concerned more with the principles that make up the ideology theoretically.

As for criticisms, there are fundamental problems that threaten the practicality of a truly communist society. If there is no price system in a communist society, which there is not, there is no way to determine what products or services should be produced or how much of each should be produced.

The result of this problem is that in real communist countries there are endless surpluses and shortages. It is often the shortages that cause people to lose their lives for no good reason as the ones who die are the ones in the working class.

The theory or ideology of communism is thought to be a political failure. This is based on how communist countries like Russia most certainly failed as far as the application of the principles went. When the Berlin Wall fell in the early 1990s, it was clear that the experiment was a failure. There are still place like China, however, that have thriving economies despite being a communist country.

5 United States Vice Presidents That Became President

We love you Joe Biden but you are not a president

In total, there have been 48 men have served as the Vice President of the United States. And fourteen of those men went on to become president. But there are five Vice Presidents turn Presidents that are a notch above the others.

Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt initially served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for President William McKinley. He later left that post and served as the Governor of New York. After Vice President Garret Hobart passed away in 1899, McKinley asked Roosevelt to be his running mate in the 1900 election. The pair won in a landslide.

When McKinley was assassinated in 1901, Roosevelt became president. Roosevelt ran for re-election in 1904 and won. After serving a full term, Roosevelt was succeeded by his close friend William Howard Taft. Teddy was a great president but not nearly on the same level as his fifth cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt who established social security.

Calvin Coolidge

Coolidge served as vice president under Warren G. Harding. Surprisingly, Coolidge was not Harding’s first choice for a running mate. Irvine Lenroot, a senator from Wisconsin, was initially selected. After Lenroot vacated the position, Coolidge was chosen for the position.

President Harding died suddenly in 1923. Coolidge was sworn into office the day after his death. In 1924, Coolidge ran for re-election and was elected to a full-term. While Coolidge was president, the United States saw significant economic growth.

Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson was the vice president of John F. Kennedy. After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Johnson was sworn in as president. Johnson was re-elected in 1964.

Curiously, Johnson is one of just four people to have served as a senator, a congressman, the vice president, and the president. Before his election to the House of Representatives, Johnson worked as a congressional aide.

Harry Truman

Harry S. Truman was the vice president of Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Roosevelt passed away near the end of World War II, Truman took over his office. At the time, Truman had been vice president for just 82 days.

Truman ran for re-election in 1948. While Truman was initially expected to lose, he wound up defeating his opponents and winning a second-term.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. became president after Richard Nixon resigned from the office. He is the only person to have become president without being voted into the office of president or vice president. He ran for re-election in 1976 but lost to Jimmy Carter.

Most vice presidents do not go on to serve as president. With that said, there are a number of former vice presidents that went on to lead the United States.

What Exactly Is Authoritarianism?

Many people have heard of authoritarianism before, but they may not know exactly what it means. This is a word that is typically attributed to people that are in power and the way that they rule or govern their country. Authoritarianism actually refers to a form of government that provides very limited political freedoms and has a strong central figure, or group of people, that rule without constitutional accountability. Let’s go over the basics of authoritarianism, as well as the pros and cons of this particular form of government.

The Four Attributes Of Authoritarianism

There are four specific components of authoritarianism. First, it is a system of government where political pluralism is not the main focus. If there are any dissenting political parties, groups, or figures in the government that are not on board with the opinion of the ruler, they are often removed in some fashion. Second, an authoritarian ruler governs his country based solidly on emotion. There is always some type of evil to combat, and this ruler will repeat ad nausea who this enemy is in order to keep the people focused. Third, there is often a movement to quiet anti-regime activity or political opponents that do not agree with the authoritarian ruler. Finally, these rulers have executive power, much like a dictator, and their way of governing is often shifting from one viewpoint to the next, often appearing more vague than definitive.

Authoritarianism And Democracy

Although democracy is not the opposite of authoritarianism, there are few comparisons. There are leaders within a democracy that can use authoritarian principles. This is the opposite of authoritative principles which is more geared toward a democratic regime which relies upon the opinions and activities of others. An authoritarian is simply a person that knows that they are in charge, and once everyone to concur with what they want to have done.

This is a system of governing that is often seen in countries where the rulers tend to be dictatorial. It has no place in a democratic society, although many will try to state that they are not authoritarian at all. It is always better to have a leader that is willing to work with those in their government, as well as with the people. It is an outdated system for governing countries, and as democracy continues to become popular and accepted, perhaps authoritarian behavior will become a thing of the past.

Just What Is Totalitarianism

There are many different types of governments out there, and with politics in the United States becoming more and more divided there seem to be many political terms thrown out there without people having a truly good grasp of what they all actually mean. One term that is getting tossed around by both the right and the left is totalitarianism, and while this type of government is certainly a reality in many parts of the world even during the worst of times in the United States we are long ways off from becoming a totalitarian state.

Totalitarianism refers to a form of government where there is one person with 100% of the authority who is unquestionably in charge. He rules the state, the government, and any authority that anyone else has comes from his decree or being in service of him. These are governments that tend to have extremely tight control over the press, the arts, and even everyday life of the people who live there. This type of force almost certainly stems from a military background, and having the full support of the military is crucial for these governments to work since brute force (or the threat of it) is the primary method to keep everyone in line.

These types of governments are often referred to as dictatorships. There may or may not be local governments or a house and senate type setup for show, but in the end all rules and decrees come directly from the person in charge who can’t be overruled in any circumstance.

Totalitarian Versus Authoritarian
While these two types of government are relatively similar to one another (similar to how democracy and republic are related forms of government) there are a few distinct differences. Authoritarian regimes a small group hold power or even one person, but their only focus is holding that power at a government level. On a totalitarian level, the leader attempts to control everything and even create a “cult like” state where every part of everyday life is affected.

Nazism is one form of this since it wasn’t just about government and military rule with Hitler undisputed as the man in charge, but there was an ideology, ethnic cleansing, and an entirely new moral code imposed upon Germans and immigrants who lived there in that era. North Korea is a modern day example where it’s not just power at the top, but every single part of everyday life is controlled by the state.