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theguardian.com
Obama 'open to NSA surveillance reform' at meeting with lawmakers

POTUS has met with key members of Congress as the White House attempts to contain anger at the NSA surveillance. It’s actually sad that the president’s not very much vocal about this issue. Then again, as suggested by my previous post in the past months, I’m not surprised. Being ‘open to NSA reform’ is not enough. He should be pushing for massive reform.

Furthermore, yesterday, August 1, the Russian government has granted Edward Snowden temporary asylum thus allowing him to leave Moscow airport. This of course triggered anger from the White House.

The day before, the Guardian broke a story on a newly discovered NSA program called XKeyscore, which collects almost everything including emails, social media data and history. Not surprising, but I’m glad that the Guardian is active in exposing the Obama Administration’s monstrosities in violating the world’s privacy rights.

Quoting The Guardian, in its summary of the latest revelations of Snowden leaving Moscow airport as of 8/1/2013, 8:08pm BST:

  • Edward Snowden has left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after being granted asylum by Russian authorities. The NSA whistleblower had been staying in the transit area of the the airport for over a month while Russia deliberated over whether to accept his application for temporary asylum.
  • Snowden left the airport in a taxi, accompanied by WikiLeaks advisor Sarah Harrison, the organisation said in a statement. He has travelled to a “secure, confidential place”, WikiLeaks said. Snowden, who has reportedly been learning Russian, has been granted asylum for one year.
  • Russia’s decision has sparked a diplomatic row, with the White House “extremely disappointed” by the move. Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, said the administration had been lobbying “publicly and privately” for Snowden to be returned to the US.
  • “In the end, the law is winning,” Snowden said in comments released by WikiLeaks. He said the Obama administration had shown “no respect for international or domestic law”. In a statement Snowden thanked Russia for its decision in his favour. He will be free to travel around Russia during his year-long stay.

Why I’m dignified to be a Liberal

The West Wing made me proud of being a liberal. Aaron Sorkin’s success in his classic series wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for his magnificent ideas in expressing his enlightened and humanistic perceptions on society and politics. The show’s focus on an ideal progressive society compliments the true principles of modern liberalism such as the advocating of civil rights and liberties, the true role of the government, social justice, social rights to healthcare, education and others.

Liberalism has various definitions. But let’s not play semantics here. We can all agree that it is, as one would argue, in essence the belief in the principles of liberty and equality. These principles had powerful and vital changes as it helped influence popular revolutions during the Enlightenment era that lead the establishments of democratic states.

And these values are indeed fundamental for a true government to truly govern. As the great political thinker Montesquieu once said, “The deterioration of a government begins almost always by the decay of its principles.”

A legitimate government’s purpose is to preserve the people’s inalienable rights to freedom, life, property and the pursuit of happiness.

A legitimate government upholds the principle of the separation of powers.

A legitimate government makes laws that preserve and enlarge freedoms, not to abolish or restrain by crafting good laws that protect the rights of the people and enforce them with the public good in mind.

Liberals were in the forefront of upholding these principles in the past centuries that indeed helped shape the world we live in today. They helped shape the legitimate governments that exist today with the promotion of fundamental liberties that 200 years ago did not exist.

I’m a proud liberal because:

  • I believe in freedom and liberty. I believe in the freedom to express. I believe that the right to have an opinion is to be respected while at the same time believing on the right to criticize an opinion.
  • I believe in the separation of church and state. I believe that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.
  • I believe in equality. I believe that human beings are created equal and have inalienable equal rights regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race or any other status.
  • I believe in the right to choose. I believe in the woman’s right to do whatever she wants with her own body with no government interference.
  • I believe that governments should stay away from our private lives. I believe that overreaching national security laws are unproductive and will just make a person more likely to be the victim of the government than of terrorists.
  • I believe a society that promotes science and reason over unsound beliefs.
  • I believe that achievements are best accomplished through rational means.
  • I believe in a society that Mother Earth deserves the same love we give to our country for it is our only planet and we need to preserve it for our future kids.
  • I believe in a society that prioritizes the protection of the weakest because I believe that governments should feel compassion for those less fortunate because every person has and deserves to have dignity.
  • I believe in welfare as it genuinely helps the disadvantaged. I believe that people shouldn’t work if they don’t want to.
  • I believe that people are more important than businesses, profits and money.
  • I believe that governments should do its best in promoting programs that benefit society as a whole. I believe that governments that genuinely do its best to promote the common good for the whole society and not just some people.
  • I believe in a progressive tax system. I believe that taxes are not evil when its purpose is to subsidize programs that benefit society as a whole.
  • I believe in an accurate universal healthcare and social security system to be available for all.
  • I believe that education is a universal right, not an entitled privilege. I believe that we should explore and educate, not kill or invade. I believe that focusing on education is more important and very much vital than focusing on warfare.
  • I believe in the promotion of better education because every person deserves to have adequate knowledge regarding the world around them. I believe that people deserve to have their dreams and goals accomplished with governments doing their best they can to support.
  • I believe that governments should not be selfish and overly nationalistic because I believe in celebration than resentment, love than hate, positive idealism than negative realism.
  • I believe in a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
  • I believe in an integrated and globalized world. Where true democracy exists, a democracy where we care about each other.
  • I believe in a democracy where we promote cooperation. I believe in a democratic society where we share and celebrate our principles.
  • I believe in a democracy where society promotes progressive values and at the same time value traditional principles.
  • I believe in good immigration policies because I believe in diversity, a diverse society where everyone has no fear of being discriminated.
  • I believe that punishment should fit the crime and that an eye for an eye makes the world blind.
  • I don’t believe in a government that frequently kills human beings to show that killing human beings is a crime.
  • I don’t believe in a system where we prosecute victimless crimes and ignore the major ones.
  • I believe in a society where we have the right to protect ourselves with firearms but at the same time scrutinized by the government to protect us.
  • I believe that justice may be blind, but it is not deaf.
  • I believe in the rule of law, that a democracy will only succeed based on the rule of law and not a tyranny of the majority.
  • I believe in an evolving and progressive constitution with a significant separation of powers that promotes independence and checks and balances.
  • I believe in these things because these are essential characteristics of a great, successful and ideal society.

‘Liberal’ is not only meant in a political or economic sense, but also in a social sense. It is a principle, a perspective on life. Liberalism, both classic and modern, has its flaws. It isn’t a perfect ideology, of course. But it is a far better choice than the opposite. I’m a liberal and I’m proud of it.

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.” President John F. Kennedy

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