Another Public Shooting, Another Day in America

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

SOURCE: American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/>.

19 students and 2 teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman is 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.

“The suspect purchased two AR-15-style rifles on May 22, two days before the massacre and six days after his birthday (ABC News, 2022).”1

Acquaintances of Ramos have described him to ABC News as “a weird kid” suggesting anti-social behavior and a reputation as an outcast, a state not uncommon among younger Americans particularly males.

“The shooter was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself inside that classroom, and . . . just began shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom, having no regard for human life (Lt. Christopher Olivarez, Texas Department of Public Safety, 2022).”2

I am honestly desensitized to news stories like this because I have read too many of these headlines. No population that tolerates this kind of public violence every year, every month, sometimes every day, should be considered “civilized.” Will our politicians do anything about this gun violence? Probably not? Will a majority of Americans continue voting for these politicians? Probably.

There is no question that the United States of America has an issue with guns. Just by numbers alone: there are approximately 329.5 million people in the U.S. (U.S. Census, 2020)3 and the number of firearms is estimated to be over 400 million between military, police, civilians (American Gun Facts, 2022) with approximately 98% of those firearms in civilian hands.4 The simple fact that this country is saturated with firearms leads to the inevitable outcome of more crimes involving firearms.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 sets a national standard for the purchase of firearms – rifles can be purchased at 18 years of age while handguns can be purchases at 21 years of age (Shirin Ali, The Hill, 2022).5 An amending piece of legislation in 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, federally mandated background checks from licensed firearm dealers. However, regulations (including age restrictions) vary between states (which seems to contradict the age restriction set in the Gun Control Act of 1968). Some states have a lower age limit on handguns, some states have no limits on firearm possession. Considering the age limit for alcohol purchases is set at 21 years of age I think the age limit on firearm purchases should at least match that for alcohol purchases since alcohol consumption has a tendency to make one more violent by impairing judgment and unleashing inhibitions. There also must be a consistent standard for firearm purchases and possession enforced by the national government.

1ABC News, <https://abc7.com/elementary-school-shooting-texas-shooter-salvador-ramos-uvalde-tx/11893076/>.

2National Public Radio, <https://www.npr.org/2022/05/25/1101175912/uvalde-texas-shooting-victims-4th-grade-classroom>.

3Data Commons, <https://datacommons.org/place/country/USA?utm_medium=explore&mprop=count&popt=Person&hl=en>.

4American Gun Facts, <https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/#:~:text=See%20Owning%20Gun-,How%20Many%20Guns%20in%20America%3F,120%20firearms%20per%20100%20citizens.>.

5The Hill, <https://thehill.com/changing-america/resilience/smart-cities/3493244-the-legal-ages-for-buying-a-gun-in-the-us/>.

3 Pieces of News to Start 2022

Who would like to begin 2022 with some speculation on humanity’s next large-scale war? Me neither but we got it anyway.

Russia is flexing it’s muscles again with a warning to a couple of its neighbors against joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (N.A.T.O.).

“It is quite obvious that the ascension of Finland and Sweden to NATO would have serious military and political consequences that would require an adequate response from Russia,” said a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, not revealing exactly what action Russia would take in response.

The N.A.T.O. is primarily a military alliance between the United States and several western European nations and it was created as a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Finland and Sweden officially hold a stance of neutrality on the world stage but Sweden has increased it own defense spending since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine back in 2014. I’m sure eastern Europe remembers an aggressive Russia all too well.

A moment of silence.

Microsoft sun-setting online services for multiple XBOX 360 Halo games marking the end of an era.

The “golden age of Halo” might be when Bungie Studios still held the reins of the iconic video game franchise. Perhaps Microsoft was waiting for the release of the XBOX One X/S consoles to finally move on from its classic Halo games.

All Halo games that have housed online services on XBOX 360 will be shutting down come January 13, 2022.

Anthony James Devetis, GAMERANT, 2022

Fans of the franchise will still able to get their fix of classic Halo through the anthology entitled The Master Chief Collection.

Cannabis industry hindered by incongruity.

New Mexico’s fledgling cannabis industry is being impeded by the federal prohibition of the plant that continues to plague the nation with needless authoritarianism. The Village of Questa governing council is currently attempting to attract cannabis entrepreneurs to its tiny northern New Mexico area but stipulations attached to federal funding is hindering the prospects of one such entrepreneur, Michael Nezi of Roots & Herbs Farms.

The prohibition against cannabis by the U.S. government is an embarrassment to the nation, nothing more than a power-grab by police forces run amok that disproportionately affects historically impoverished citizens and residents. I’m surprised more conservative-leaning Americans are not jumping at this easy opportunity to denounce “big government” in favor of entrepreneurship.

Cannabis Business & Prohibition

Incongruity between national laws and state laws.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

New Mexico is set to become the latest state to legalize cannabis for adult, recreational use next year in April and entrepreneurs are already gearing up for business. However, barriers continue to inhibit full economic exploitation of this incredibly versatile plant. One such entrepreneur in Questa, New Mexico, is being forced to relocate his proposed cannabis factory to neighboring Taos because his initial location is dependent on federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (E.D.A.) and cannot support a cannabis business. One would think that conservative-leaning politicos would jump on this as a classic example of excessive government regulations interfering with one’s entrepreneurial freedom. It would be a talking point with which I’m in agreement.

The legalization of cannabis in New Mexico pushed the duty of regulating legal cannabis onto individual municipalities in the state which I believe is congruent with the original concept for American democratic-republicanism. Regional “laboratories for democracy” may be the best way to ensure a sense of representation for different populations just as long as the over-arching national government presents a clear set of basic civil rights for lower governing bodies to follow. Federal cannabis prohibition defies this ideal by enforcing an authoritarian edict on regional governments.

The beginning of the twenty-first century has seen cannabis regulations slowly relax over the decades and Americans are now privy to a growing cannabis market across the nation. According to statistics from <www.flowhub.com>, the overall cannabis industry is worth approximately $61 billion, 68% of Americans are now in support of cannabis legalization, and 12% of Americans are “active cannabis users.” This super-majority support for cannabis legalization would be beneficial in a nation with a functioning democratic system. Alas, Americans are trapped within a psuedo-democracy corrupted by oligarchy.

Abortion Under The Gavel Again

Cover photo credit: <https://reproductiverights.org/case/scotus-mississippi-abortion-ban/>.

Abortion rights are once again at the Supreme Court of the United States. Oral arguments were presented on Wednesday (12/1) over the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center. If the SCOTUS rules in favor of the state of Mississippi, upholding its Gestational Age Act, a new precedent will be set for individual states to set new restrictions on the female healthcare procedure with 15 weeks as the new cut off date to obtain said procedure (the current cut off date is 24 weeks). Whereas several more conservative states have interests in enacting similar laws within there their own jurisdictions, a ruling from the SCOTUS in favor of Mississippi would effectively kick the issue back to the states. The silver lining for the more liberal states would be that they could enact their own protections for abortion services within their jurisdictions but there would still be a burden on lower class women in conservative areas; obviously if you’re in a lower economic class you cannot travel as easily as if you were more financially stable.

I think that if the SCOTUS rules in favor of Mississippi in Mississippi v. Jackson Women’s Health Center it will further damage what credibility the court holds. The right to an abortion was cemented in 1973 with Roe v. Wade and affirmed in 1992 with Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The Chief Justice of the SCOTUS at the time of Roe v. Wade was Warren Burger, a life-long political scientist and lawyer who helped secure his home state for then-Republican presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower back during the Republican presidential convention of 1952. Warren Burger was nominated to the SCOTUS by President Richard Nixon in 1969 whom apparently agreed with Burger’s more strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Burger would later vote with the majority in Roe v. Wade as well as lead a unanimous court against President Nixon in United States v. Nixon.

The Chief Justice at the time of Planned Parenthood v. Casey was William Rehnquist, an American lawyer who also believed in a more strict interpretation of the Constitution emphasizing the 10th Amendment, reserving powers not explicitly given to the federal government to the respective states. Rehnquist opposed both decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Abortion rights have survived two conservative chief justices and has been established law in the United States for 48 years now, enough time to envelope two generations of Americans. The SCOTUS was designed to create a relatively stable system of law throughout these states while resisting shaky whims of populations, it was not meant to be a political body as are the U.S. Congress and the office of the Presidency. If the current conservative majority on the SCOTUS rule in favor of Mississippi, I fear that the court will become more political and divisive with justices reversing whatever rulings their personal politics dictate at the time.

The rhetoric against abortion is a religious pseudo-argument, a remnant of archaic thinking that limits critical thinking skills and ties humanity to superstitious traditions masquerading as wisdom. Religious pseudo-arguments have no place in what is supposed to be a secular government. The argument in favor of abortion as a legitimate medical procedure is an empirical, libertarian argument advocating for individual liberty placing one’s autonomy over their physical body above nebulous ideas of the “sanctity of life.” Arbiters of the law need to root their argumentation and discourse in practical aspects of the physical world rather than in vague and hypothetical religious concepts.

There is also the subject of equality between males and females to consider: like most mammals female humans bare more of a burden in child rearing simply because they are the ones to physically give birth to the child. This phenomenon of evolution gears mammals towards family groups for survival in nature. However, modern human societies are relatively insulated from the harsh realities of nature and our technology and understanding of science have almost guaranteed the survival of our young (at least in developed, wealthy countries). The tight-knit, closed family groups which humans relied upon for survival in our early history are arguably less necessary. Whether or not this speculation of our social evolution is a net positive or a net negative for our morals is a subjective debate which I will not advance upon further but it is undeniable that our modern medical tools and practices around reproduction have elevated human females in our social positions by giving them more control over the ability to reproduce.

Oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as captured by CSPAN.

Whistleblowing or Hornblowing?

Frances Haugen, the former data engineer for Facebook who disclosed internal documents from the social media giant to the United States Securities & Exchange Commission and the Wall Street Journal, says that current algorithmic standards on social media harms young people.

I don’t think I’m alone in my expression of the colloquialism, “duh!”

It’s been known for some time excessive time spent on digital social media platforms actually increases depression in teenagers as well as further pushes unrealistic body images onto young girls. Did we really need a “whistleblower” to get us all hyped up about these facts? What Miss Haugen is doing is not so much whistleblowing as it is just calling out the elephant in the room. If Miss Haugen was actually revealing something dangerous to the status quo, would she really be called before Congress for discussion? Or would she be marked for prosecution and driven into hiding in a foreign embassy, awaiting the protection of any institution willing to shelter enemies of an empire?

*cough-Julian Assange-cough*

Perhaps the reason why our officials in the United States Congress are so eager to prop up Frances Haugen as a hero is because the ruling oligarchy want to seize social media’s power over political discourse as Glenn Greenwald so eloquently put in his commentary on the matter. One question that each American citizen should be asking is, when did these technology giants become the gate-keepers to political speech? Here’s another novel concept particularly for these younger generations: perhaps we are all spending a little too much time in digital environments and not enough time in the real world spending real time with other people in the physical space (do not throw the pandemic at me – our issues around too much screen time began prior to this pandemic). How about we actually make efforts to understand each other by talking things out rather than hitting the “block” button every time we’re exposed to a different opinion?

Post-Election Madness

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

In the aftermath of an incredibly close election, it looks like former Vice-President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America. The current electoral vote count is 264-214.

I did not expect this election to be as close as the final results are showing but, in hindsight, it makes some sense. I’ve heard pundits on both sides of the aisle brag about the energy of their own voters claiming that the election would be a landslide for their candidate. NPR even reported this election containing the highest voter turnout in American history. With each side being galvanized to the teeth by punditry, a close race is a logical conclusion.

Let us not dwell too much on our collective orgasmic experience that was #ElectionNight and let us get back to the reality of the two shitty options that we Americans had to choose from in our supposed democratic-republic. Personally, coming from a family of loyal disciples to the Democratic Party, I expect the Republican Party to put up a shitty candidate (a childhood full of partisan brain-washing has engrained that bias in me). But the Democratic Party started this election cycle eleven candidates and THIS SHIT IS WHAT WE ENDED UP WITH?! Pervy-old Biden and Copmala Harris? Notwithstanding the fascistic corruption of the 2-party duopoly that has maintained control of American politics for a century, gradually dumbing down the national conversation with increasingly similar “opposing” candidates both favorable to the corporate interests that have become akin to a new aristocratic class. Presenting #Election2020 – the chance to choose between a Democratic Party man with a voting record of fraudulent war, “tough on crime” bullshit, and further degradation of higher education and a Republican Party outsider born into money with the emotional intelligence of a toddler and grabs whatever junk he wants to grab. If this is the best we can do as a nation, than we don’t deserve to hold the reigns of global power.

I used to be more involved in American politics – I’ve volunteered for three presidential elections and one gubernatorial election – and I’ve come to realize just how undemocratic our democracy really is. The democratic systems that govern Americans are far from ideal democracy/republicanism. I like to view our progressively degrading political candidates as a sign of our increasingly declining empire.

Is anyone interested in learning Mandarin with me? Which Chinese language would be more practical to learn: Mandarin or Cantonese?

WATCH: Kyle Kulinski on Mainstream Bias

Video Source: Secular Talk on YouTube.

Presumptuousness, pompousness, entitlement, and condescension are among the worst of human qualities.  They can be ascribed to an individual like Donald Trump or to a collective of people like American news media.  I hate television news because they’ve grown accustomed to viewers taking them at their word.  We need to remember that what we refer to as “the media” are still simply people in positions of power or if not power than influence.  It’s a different kind of power than the kind which our current president wields but is just as dangerous when corrupted.

Albuquerque Passes Clean & Green Retail Ordinance on a 5-3 vote.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

img_20190415_170013005
Inside the Vincent E. Griego Chambers prior to the start of the city council meeting.

The Albuquerque City Council met with a full house of spectators last night, forty-one of those people signed up to speak publicly in front of the Council on a specific item agenda.  Councilor Cynthia Borrego was absent from the meeting which brought the quorum down to 8 from the full 9-member council.  The spotlight was on the Clean & Green Ordinance, a local measure to “pressure businesses (Councilor Pat Davis)” into transitioning to more environmentally-friendly consumer containers.

img_20190415_165001625
The Clean & Green Ordinance as listed on the council meeting agenda.

The ordinance was amended to a phased-in ban to take effect on 1/1/2020, rather than an immediate ban as a temporary reprieve for local businesses from the extra costs of transitioning away from cheap plastics.  In the meantime until January of 2020, plastic grocery bags and plastic straws will be available upon request of individual customers.  The ordinance was also amended to add a charge of ten cents onto customers asking for plastic bags as a way to encourage consumers to start transitioning to reusable containers.

Opposition to the ordinance came from the restaurant industry, specifically the New Mexico Restaurant Association, arguing that the current cost of transitioning from plastics would be to great on business owners and that consumer prices would inevitably increase as a consequence.  A counter-point to that argument was made by private citizens in favor of the ordinance, that the cost is already artificially low and that consumers should be paying more for the luxury of take-home containers.  A representative from the New Mexico Recycling Association also made an appearance to speak on behalf of the ordinance.

The proponents of the ordinance focused their arguments on the environmental impacts of plastic trash and claimed responsibility on governments to force the hand of businesses for the sake of the planet.  The counter-point to that argument focused on individual liberty and government over-reach, the responsibility of clean environments should be on individuals and businesses making better choices willingly rather than out of necessity.

The three Councilors who voted against the ordinance in the final vote were Councilors Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, and Don Harris.

Trust me, I’m a writer.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Journalism is not supposed to be propaganda from politicians.  Journalism is supposed to hold politicians accountable for what they say (Ana Kasparian, The Young Turks, 2019).”

How can a news organization today (particularly a new organization) gain the trust of the public given the current over-saturation of the market?  I think the key is transparency for themselves, each reporter/editor/producer must be willing to put their name in front of the public eye and stand up for their work in the face of criticism.  Make sure that any one of your readers/viewers/listeners can approach you with questions if they so desire and accept criticism with grace; do not let praise inflate your ego.  This is also just good advice in general – be honest with yourself about what you’re doing, try to be self-aware in what you do, and maintain an over-arching vision to guide your work.

It’s impossible to be completely objective simply because most humans orient themselves around their subjective feelings rather than logic and their objective surroundings but that doesn’t mean that we can not strive for objectivity for its own sake.  Every human has the capacity for logical reasoning through critical thinking and discourse, it’s what makes our species so powerful in nature – we can come together around common goals and manipulate our environment in ways other animals can not.  However; this attribute is a double-edged sword for, if we remain too long in one group with the same ideas in circulation over and over and over again, our minds become dull from ease and the group weakens with fatigue.  To maintain a competitive edge, a group of humans must always be inviting to a variety of ideas, individuals must be willing to challenge themselves to sharpen their arguments.  Echo chambers are dangerous.

This is exactly what modern media has become: an ecosystem of echo chambers.  People on the political Right-wing have their own sources, people on the political Left-wing have their own sources, and more moderately-minded people don’t know where to go for sources so they try to read multiple sources from both sides of the spectrum (if they don’t opt out of politics altogether) all the while animosity for everyone else increases and politics becomes more and more tribal.  Modernity is supposed to be more civilized than tribalism.

I think I’m digressing, let’s go back to the topic of modern news media.  I think the key to success in news media is transparency which is why I want to list what I think is important to discuss when it comes to political engagement, government functions, and such:

  • the role of a government relative to the society it presides over,
  • hearing from a variety of perspectives regardless of popularity,
  • clarifying differences between perspectives and taking care to NOT miss-represent one’s ideas.

I believe these to be important facets of news media – a result of my own beliefs in individualism, free speech, pluralism, government and corporate transparency, and democratic-republicanism.  My goal with my writing (both my personal writing and professional writing) is to promote inquiry into how our societies operate, encourage more people to ask questions that some people in positions of power may not want to answer.  I’ve written in the past about my belief in writing skills and their importance to civilization and I stand by that belief today.

Mueller Report Out (but not public), Upwards of $30 million likely Wasted, and the Democrats are STILL IDIOTS

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Russia!  Russia!  Russia!”

^ That is what the “resistance” Democrats have been yelling incessantly for the past two years.  Many people continue to chant that slogan even after Robert Mueller’s special investigation is ending with an announcement for no more indictements.

I think Mueller’s investigation was poorly focused from the start, the Democratic Party should have pushed for an investigation into President Donald Trump’s business ties for potential conflicts of interest.  The fact that the president has not completely disconnected from his business interests as well as the fact that he uses his own properties for government purposes is suspect.

The Democrats could have been much more strategic over the past two years as an opposition party but they were blinded themselves by holding onto a grudge, bitter from the 2016 presidential election blaming everyone and everything but themselves as well as grasping at straws to point more fingers at President Trump.

If the fucking Democrats had not rigged their own primary for their precious Clinton, they probably would have won the damn election.  As it turned out, the voters don’t like to be fucked over without consent.

If the Democratic Party doesn’t clean up its act, I think President Trump may win a second term next year.