Government Shutdowns are Epitome of Dysfunction

Cover Image Source: <https://theprogressivecynic.com/2013/08/02/avoiding-the-traps-of-compulsive-partisanship-and-compulsive-non-partisanship/>.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Should we expect another gov’t shutdown in February?

The funding lapse in the United States government has been temporarily resolved ending the 35-day shutdown.  President Donald Trump has explained publicly that this deal would give back-pay to furloughed federal employees but he is also NOT giving up his fight for his border wall.

How long will this temporary reprieve last?  3 weeks.  The national Congress will need to spar over funding again come February 15.

The U.S./Mexico border wall was a big campaign promise for President Trump back in 2016 and he has repeated the applause line at several rallies since his 2016 victory.  Considering the president’s stand-offish nature that we’ve seen in media appearances, I expect him to stick to that campaign promise to protect his own pride.  Although, it’s ironic that this gov’t shutdown is over border security because border security-law enforcement agents including T.S.A. agents and air traffic controllers are among the federal employees that were working without pay.

“While most government shutdowns are of relatively short duration, they all result in the disruption to government services and increased costs to the government – and thus taxpayers – due to lost labor.  According to the financial rating agency Standard & Poor’s, the 16-day shutdown from October 1, to October 17, 2013, had ‘taken $24 billion out of the economy,’ and ‘shaved at least 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth’ (Tom Murse, <https://www.thoughtco.com/government-shutdown-history-3368274>, 2019).”

Should we start expecting a gov’t shutdown under every new president? 

President Trump’s gov’t shutdown was about border security and a proposed border wall that some conservatives are claiming will be an effective tactic against illegal immigration.  The question of a border wall’s actual effectiveness is another discussion.

Back in 2013, there was a gov’t shutdown perpetuated by the Republican Party (who then controlled the U.S. House of Representatives) in which Republicans demanded a repeal of President Barack Obama’s arguably signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (controversely nick-named “Obamacare.”)

Back in 1995, there was a gov’t shudown over apparently grim economic forecasts.  Then House Republicans expressed concerned about the Clinton Administration’s budget effects on the national deficit.

Are gov’t shutdowns becoming more and more common as partisan tensions continue to heat up?  As we move forward, is each subsequent Congress going to have its own battle over the national budget?  That doesn’t sound like it will go well with lower class American workers who are being squeezed every year with low wages and a lack of consistent healthcare coverage.

The solution is more home-rule.

I think a solution to extreme polarization in the national government is for citizens to reconnect with each other at the lower government levels.  Federal elected officials are at historic low approval ratings which means the American public largely does not trust its national leaders.  However; voter turn-out is also plummeting in local elections.  This is bad news across the board.  Regardless of our outlook on our federal leaders, Americans need to remain involved in our home communities.  If we’re unhappy with our federal leaders then we should be able to turn to our respective states and localities to pick up the slack.  That is exactly what was originally intended with our democratic-republican, federalist system of government – multiple governments acting as checks on each other’s power.

Political Partisanship, Divisiveness, and a Demonization of Discourse

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Has American politics grown more divisive throughout our history or has it always been bad?  How can a person initiate a discourse with their ideological opposite without the discussion morphing into a monster of insults and character assassinations?

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in his book, The Prince, that a primary goal of any national leader is to avoid a civil within his own country.  Based on that pragmatic view, has the United States of America failed as a nation because it could not avoid a civil war?

 

An accusation is not a conviction and the media is not a court.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Brett-Kavanaugh-Capitol-Visit-Article-201809132123-1

Photo Credit: New York Law Journal, 7/11/2018.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has been accused of a second instance of sexual misconduct.  This new allegation from Deborah Ramirez, a former classmate of Judge Kavanaugh, dates back to the 1983-84 academic school year at Yale University.

Regarding the first allegation from Professor Christine Ford (Palo Alto University) which dates back even further to Judge Kavanaugh’s high school academics in the 1980’s, the current university professor has agreed to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this coming Thursday after negotiations over the conditions of her appearance.

Since the accusation from Professor Ford, there have been many a proselytizing online from self-proclaimed feminist activists, self-righteous individuals shouting at the public through their Web accounts to “believe women.”  At the time I’m writing this, there is a trending hashtag on Twitter, “#BelieveSurvivors.”

This is the main problem with cases of sexual misconduct/harassment/assault: people are way too quick to run to the media in an emotional defense of the supposed victim defending themselves with the common objection, “why would someone lie about being assaulted?”  I don’t know why anyone would lie about being victimized.  I don’t know why anyone would rape or kill another person.

I don’t know.

Ben Shapiro at The Daily Wire breaks down the flaws in Professor Ford’s story in an editorial:

Screenshot_2018-09-24 6 Questions About The Sexual Assault Allegations Against Judge Brett Kavanaugh

SOURCE: The Daily Wire, 9/17/2018.

“You don’t have to believe that Ford is lying to believe that these allegations require more substantiation.  Thirty-year-old events are difficult to reconstruct; memories change over time.  Witness testimony is notoriously unreliable in many cases.  And she could be telling the absolute objective truth, of course.”

Ryan Saavedra breaks down the flaws in Ramirez’s story in another editorial:

Screenshot_2018-09-24 10 Serious Problems With New Accusations Against Kavanaugh

SOURCE: The Daily Wire, 9/24/2018.

Maybe Professor Ford and Ramirez are telling the truth about Judge Kavanaugh, maybe the judge did act inappropriately on more than one occasion in his youth.  The alleged actions supposedly took place decades ago and the accusers have not provided very many details as to the time and place making an official investigation damn-near impossible.  Professor Ford says that she wants the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate her alleged crime but we don’t even know if her alleged crime would fall under the FBI’s jurisdiction.

We don’t know the truth and, in the absence of the facts, we should not be taking any sides.  Taking sides in various media outlets will only serve to introduce needless bias into these cases.

 

Standing opposed to something is easy, standing FOR something is more difficult.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The website Poynter, which specializes in journalism news and education, published a selection of excerpts of various editorials curated together from several newspapers across the country.  The curation had a theme: opposition to President Trump.

Click the image below to be redirected to the curation.

Screenshot_2018-08-16 America, help The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write
David Beard, “America, help!  The freedom of the nation depends on you, hundreds of news outlets write,” Poynter (2018).”

Newspapers should be oppositional to governments because opposition and dissent is fundamental to the concept of free speech, but opposition should not be the sole purpose of an organization.  Standing opposed to something is easy, standing for something is usually more difficult.

Chicago Sun Times: “We are the enemy of societal failings.”

What does that mean?  What societal failings?  Can newspapers decide what makes a society fail?

I don’t think news organizations should not be proselytizing a particular ideology, they should simply be outlets for truth (facts only).

The “enemy of racism?”

There will always be racism and bigotry in any society, that is a part of human nature.  To hate is a part of being human.  To fight against racism is to fight against a part of humanity.  Ideologues with a utopian vision of a so-called “perfect society” fight against their view of evil by fighting against the darker sides of human nature in an attempt to mold humans into a tool for their utopia.  Instead of moralizing about human emotions, we need to accept the positive aspects of our humanity with the more negative aspects and live with a decent balance.

Truth V.S. Ratings

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Who do you trust when you can’t trust anyone?

Trust takes time to build and can disappear in an instant, so it takes long-term planning to maintain trust with a person.  Building trust requires thinking ahead about the repercussions of your actions on other people – sacrificing quick pleasure today for more pleasure in the future.  That does not sound conducive to a 24-hour news cycle in which a news station must develop new methods of holding the attention of an audience in a society that rewards instant gratification more than long-term planning, a society that records success in quarterly reports with the expectation of indefinite growth.

Screenshot_2018-08-02 Why don_t people trust the news and social media A new report lets them explain in their own words

“Why don’t people trust the news?  Concern about bias, spin, and hidden agendas (Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2017)”

The 24-hour news cycle has ruined the news industry – it’s no longer about effective journalism with an intent on holding power accountable to people – it’s about voyeuristic, sadistic, and instant pleasure for the worst aspects of ourselves.  We are not going to find content of substance on the “mainstream” networks designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the public and there is a shift taking place from traditional forms of media to new media.  Some new media stars (commentators, pundits, call them what you want) are gaining their own audience by mocking the old guards, making substantive new content through satire.

Let’s compare an interview from BBC’s Newsnight to it’s satirical counterpart by rising YouTube entertainer Wizard of Cause:

Both of the above videos inform the audience about the people involved in the interview but which of the video is more entertaining?

If media spokesmen want to regain the trust of the public, I think the first thing they need to do is place more faith in the public, particularly their audiences.  Rather than dumbing down content to make viewing require less effort to undertake, trust that the viewers can figure things out for themselves.  Perhaps newsmen can learn some things from comedians.

 

Repost: “The Sickness in the Left”

I think this piece of writing by Nick Goroff in Occupy.com is still relevant today.  Being a “liberal” means valuing civil and political rights for each individual.  We should not be restricting the freedom of those in the majority population to protect those in minority populations.  Advocating for individual rights is synonymous with advocating for minority rights because civil rights for each individual creates a consistent standard amongst the total population.

Continue reading “Repost: “The Sickness in the Left””

Leftist frenzy over professional troll, Milo Yiannopoulos.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Renowned, online provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from his position as Breitbart’s tech editor yesterday over comments he made over a year ago.  In January of 2016, Milo appeared on the Drunken Peasants (DP), a comedic podcast boasting over 138,000 subscribers on YouTube.  During that DP episode, the talk show hosts pressured Milo to confront some of the apparent inconsistencies in his personal politics and Milo eventually wandered onto the subject of an experience he lived through as a teenager regarding his church.  Today, more than a year later, a conservative group known as the Reagan Battalion tweeted a video of Milo with clips from his appearance on the DPCNN found the video and made a televised report of Milo’s comments on the DP.

The CNN report on Milo’s comments set off a media firestorm with Salon, Buzzfeed, Mediaite jumping on the clip to write hit pieces about Milo “defending pedophilia” over comments that were made more than a year ago.  If these writers are so concerned about these comments, where were they when the comments were initially made?  After the video clip and the CNN news report went viral online, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) disinvited Milo from speaking at their event later this year.  The publishing company Simon & Schuster also cancelled their book deal with Milo.  After these two personal setbacks, Milo decided to resign from his senior editing position at Breitbart News Network.

Milo has been a controversial figure in American political discourse for some time now.  Throughout 2016, he toured American college campuses across the country (the “Dangerous Faggot Tour”) utilizing his usual inflammatory rhetoric while speaking out against liberal immigration policies, advocating for unconditional free speech, and campaigning for Donald Trump.  Milo’s tour across American colleges also drew hordes of protesters at his events attempting to shut them down in the name of silencing “hate speech.”  This backlash against Milo from the political Left proves that the Left is no longer liberal.  A core value of liberalism is individual liberty, the ability to live your life in accordance with your own desires as long as you are not physically harming anyone else.  Today, psuedo-liberals often claim that “hateful speech” does harm them physically in the form of mental stress.  However; what constitutes hate speech?  Who determines and declares hate speech?  Merriam-Webster defines “hate speech” as “speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people.”  This defintion could literally apply to any group of people, it is subjective.  Any person can claim “hate speech” against any other person, which make laws against “hate speech” too easily abused.

Free speech is only effective if it applies to every individual in the society  If you support free speech, you should also support the speech of those with whom you disagree.  Censorship may only work in your favor for as long as your representatives are in positions of power or influence.

How can I end this blog post any other way?  In the words of Milo Yiannopoulos, “with all due respect, kindly fuck your feelings!”