New Years’ Resolutions 

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

I’ve never been too interested in holiday celebrations but New Years seems like the most useless holiday.  Why is it necessary to celebrate a new year even if we already understand that a new year arrives every fucking year?  One can apply that same logic with birthdays and arrive at the same concusion: they’re fucking useless.

However; the concept of a new year’s resolution is not so useless; that comes out of a simple desire to improve one’s self.  Every human should strive for self-improvement while remembering that perfection is an illusion.

I think the key to maintaining positive resolutions throughout the year is to construct them with humble components; keep your resolutions simple and small (at least to start with).  Complicating matters with a more detailed agenda forces one to use more resources for the ultimatum.  There is beauty in simplicity and simple, day-to-day goals can help to clear your path for your long-term mission.

My simple resolution for the year of 2017 is to become a more organized individual.  I recently purchased a weekly planner and I will be writing my goals by the week in that planner.  Hopefully, this tactic will assist my efforts to become more organized.

Donald Trump won the presidency and the Democratic Party is to blame.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Donald Trump slid to victory in the electoral vote count last week while Hillary Clinton received the popular vote.  Regardless of the undemocratic electoral college, voter purging, excessive voter identification laws, national media outlets that are failing the American public in their duty to provide intelligent discourses, and a blackout of alternative political parties by the two most established parties thereby limiting the range of ideas discussed on such failing national media outlets, Donald Trump is going to be our next president.  Did the American people even have a choice?

The presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had devolved into a contest of character assassination when Trump’s behind-the-scenes Access Hollywood video was released.  From that point on, Clinton supporters could not stop talking about the real estate mogul’s apparent misogyny.  And, Trump supporters couldn’t stop talking Clinton’s e-mails.  I didn’t heard any reporter or pundit bring up the subject of corporate imperialism guiding American foreign policy, plans to transition American infrastructure to renewable energy sources, creating a more friendly entrepreneurial environment for start-up businesses, placing more pressure on established businesses to give back to their communities, etc.  National news media seemed focused on highlighting Trump’s apparent bigotry and lack of qualifications and nothing else.  Despite corporate media’s obvious bias towards Clinton, it ironically enabled a Trump victory with all of the free advertising Trump received.  If only there was a candidate just as populace as Donald Trump, energizing a huge base of voters and turning out huge crowds in public spaces.  Actually, there was a candidate like that on the liberal side; his name is Bernie Sanders!

The political establishment had lined up behind Hillary Clinton so much that they proved the point that Senator Sanders and Mr. Trump had been saying all along: that Washington D.C. is removed from the average American – our leaders do not represent us anymore.  Trump won the election because working Americans are tired of “politics as usual.”

Hillary Clinton is a career politician who knows exactly what to say at every press conference.  Donald Trump is a bigoted loudmouth who says what he thinks (no matter the accuracy of his words).  One thing is for sure: both political parties chose who might be the worst candidates to run for president of the United States; the Democrats could have chosen a more populace candidate and the Republicans could have chosen a more intelligent candidate.  Voters who lean toward the Democratic Party pointed to Clinton’s experience in public life as a significant qualification for the office of the US presidency while voters who lean toward the Republican Party said exactly the opposite – that Clinton’s long history in politics means that she is too entrenched in the established corruption of American politics to make any improvements to American lives.

Critical thinking Americans are not so convinced by either side of this simplistic punditry.  The strongest criticisms of Clinton are her hawkish stances on foreign policy and her lucrative business relationships with several authoritarian nations in the Middle East (governments that also donated money to the Clinton Foundation prior to Clinton becoming US Secretary of State).  The strongest criticisms of Trump have to do with his seemingly bloated record as an entrepreneur and the university that bore the Trump brand for which the now President-elect is facing a criminal charge of fraud.  Decide for yourselves which are the worse offences.

I think Americans are right to view Hillary Clinton as a Machiavellian power broker because Clinton has flip flopped throughout her entire career on issues according to what would be most beneficial for her career – she started out in politics as a Republican, “Goldwater Girl” in college talking about being “tough on crime” in the aftermath of the American Civil Rights movement.  One could argue that the current Democratic Party is basically what the Republican Party was forty years ago.  Donald Trump’s most significant strength seems to be his knowledge of media maneuvering, online navigation, and emotional manipulation; he knows how to market himself for a particular audience.

A redeeming quality about Donald Trump’s presidential administration (perhaps the only redeeming quality) might be that so many Americans are against him; so many media outlets are against him.  If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency, it would have been likely to see much of American news media kiss her ass in praise.  Under President Trump, Americans might see news media actually do some journalism in their adversarial stance against him.  The press should be adversarial toward people in power.  Another positive thing we’re likely to see from the next administration: the Trans Pacific Partnership is not likely to pass into law.

The president-elect will be forming his cabinet in the next few weeks.  Watch closely.

Bernie or bust, Clinton or Trump?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Hillary Clinton is now being called the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for the United States presidency and US Senator Bernie Sanders has been questioned several times about his plans for the remainder of the race.  The former US Secretary of State has publicly called for “uniting the Democratic Party” while the US senator from Vermont is refusing to concede while repeating to the public that the American people need to stop Donald Trump (the presumptive Republican Party nominee).  Despite an approximate 2.4 million votes remaining uncounted in California, Clinton has shifted her presidential campaign to face the Republican nominee, in preparation for the race for the general election this November.

After Clinton declared victory in California, Donald Trump attempted to appeal to supporters of Senator Sanders over Twitter, virtually shouting to the public (as we usually see from Trump’s Twitter profile) about a rigged electoral system.  Trump has railed against the country’s political status quo many times during his campaign for the presidency; it may be his best quality.  I have discussed the possibility of Bernie Sanders conceding to Hillary Clinton and the corporate Demcocrats with several Sanders supporters here in northern New Mexico, they have all told me that they would either write in Senator Sanders in protest or choose an option from a minor political party.  A few of these supporters even expressed relief about the thought of a Donald Trump presidency over a Hillary Clinton presidency.  At least Trump has expressed a consistent disatisfaction about the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal (as well as any other global trade deal).  Clinton has flip flopped so many times on the TPP and other issues, I’m not sure what she will do if she is elected the next president.  That duplicity may be Clinton’s worst quality – she has benefitted enormously from the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, receiving large donations from the financial sector (in particular, Goldman Sachs) as well as individual billionaires like George Soros.  No matter what you may think about Donald Trump, I think most political scientists would agree that this election is a little bizarre.  Independent voters are going to play a crucial role considering that both presumptive party nominees are somewhat unpopular with the general public.

 

#Election2016 – we’re in the home stretch!

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

The year is now 2016 – an election year in the United States, one that has enormous potential for the future of American politics.  The voter turnout this November will determine the nation’s next president and the field of contenders is crowded.

On the Democratic side of the arena, we have Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley as the primary contenders.  Hillary Clinton is a former US Senator, and a former US Secretary of State as well as the wife of (former) President Bill Clinton.  Recently, Mrs. Clinton has addressed issues relating to social equality (equal rights between males and females, heterosexuals and homosexuals, etc.), economic reform, immigration reform, and national security (national security and immigration reform are looking to be ongoing topics of discussion throughout this election cycle).  You can listen to Hillary Clinton discuss her economic vision for the nation in this recorded C-SPAN production here.  Although Mrs. Clinton is currently leading her two opponents (according to RealClearPolitics), she has been labelled as a “flip-flopper by critics.  A video compilation put together by The Guardian shows Mrs. Clinton juxtaposed between differing positions she has held on social issues and economic issues.  Mrs. Clinton is also receiving her largest campaign donations from the financial industry (according to OpenSecrets), which raises questions about how she would implement economic reform.  The former Secretary of State also has a history of hawkishness, often advocting for more militaristic measures in international conflicts such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Ukraine (as catalogued by Abby Martin at RT).  Hillary Clinton may be the best funded among the Democrats, but she may not be as “liberal” as her supporters may believe.  In comparison, US Senator Bernie Sanders is on similar ground with Hillary Clinton (in terms of this election cycle) but extends his rhetoric much farthur.  He identifies as a socialist and is constantly advocating for an expansion of our government’s social welfare programs, citing those of Europe as examples.  While there may be an irrational fear among American capitalists against any kind of public policy that puts people over profits, Sanders breaks through that fear by appealing to Americans with an immense grassroots coalition (bypassing the corporate media gate keepers) and identifies socialist mechanisms already engrained in American culture.  Policies such as Medicare, which provides healthcare for senior citizens in the United States, are working in European nations providing healthcare for every citizen as a basic commodity.  Sanders also seems to have a more consistent history than his rival, Hillary Clinton, having been advocating on the side of union-backed, American jobs and against global militarism ever since he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981.

“When Bernie Sanders, a self-declared socialist, served as mayor here in the 1980s, he often complained that the United States had its priorities wrong, that it should be diverting money from the military to domestic needs like housing and health care,” writes Katherine Seelye at The New York Times

“Mr. Sanders, frugal by nature, set the tone.  And together, they conducted the first audit of Burlington’s pension system in a quarter-century.  They moved the city’s money into higher-yielding accounts.  They raised fees for building permits and for utilities that dug up the city’s streets.  And they ended the cronyism by which the city’s insurance contracts had been let, opening them to competitive bidding.  Taken together, these moves saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars (Seelye, The New York Times).

When Hillary Clinton’s militarist tendencies is compared to Bernie Sanders’ populism, it seems like an easy choice for me.  The former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, has not been able to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, so his campaign seems kind of pointless to me.  I think this upcoming primary election between Clinton and Sanders will be a metaphorical fight over the soul of the Democratic Party.  As a nation, do we want to continue policies that follow corporate agendas that fuel the military industrial complex, or do we want to draw inspiration from the Rooseveltian progressives and create a more altruistic culture where the lower-classes are given what they earn as the backbone of the economy?

News organizations are public trusts with a duty to individuals seeking information.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

It is essential that citizens of any democratic society (republican or parliamentarian) remain informed about the performance of their government.  Journalists and broadcasters are ideal channels for that information to flow through; the watchdogs of democracy.  However; the danger of corruption is everywhere.  What happens when the watchdogs are no longer reliable, when the watchdogs become leashed to the faces of power that they are supposed to keep watch on?

New media pundit, Myles Dyer, explains his grievances with establishment media tactics and why they are detrimental to journalism.

Entrepreneur creates mobile app for small California town.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

No Ego Apps Development Incorporated, or NEAD Inc., is a private company that creates mobile apps for iPhone and Android users.  Its founder and chief executive officer lives in Seal Beach, California, and has created an app specifically for the community.

SB app, screenshot
Screenshot of the Seal Beach app designed by NEAD Inc.

TJ Sokoll lives on the Boardwalk in Seal Beach and is a strong believer in personal civic participation.  He began his career as an app developer with video games but quickly realized the potential beyond entertainment. “I realized that these aren’t just games, this is a computer in everybody’s hand” says Sokoll, although this was not his initial career plan. enormous “I was actually a stockbroker for quite a few years but I became disenfranchised with everything the financial industry was about, so I left and was looking for something else to do.” That was at age 34.  Sokoll said that he got into mobile game development on a whim when he created a video stickball game for his friends and was able to put it on the Apple store.  Within days he saw that it had been downloaded across the world and decided to give the industry a shot. NEAD Inc. had created between 30 and 35 games when it began to branch out into other aspects of the mobile sector.  Sokoll wanted to create an app for Seal Beach because he wanted to give residents here a tool for connecting with each other and crafting their voice in the community. “At the time that I started, there seemed to be such a disconnect with our local communities – everyone was so enamored with Twitter and Facebook and you were connected to everyone around the world – but we didn’t know was happening in our own backyard.” NEAD Inc.’s first client was the city of Diamond Bar, California, in 2011 and that app is now in its third version.  NEAD Inc. has since created 18 more apps for cities across Orange County, including Huntington Beach and Seal Beach under the umbrella, MyCivicApps. “We’ve made custom apps for cities, boys & girls clubs, schools, politicians, organizations, non-profits, and some celebrities.  It’s been an interesting run, to say the least.” The Seal Beach app has been live for about two weeks now and specifically gives users an RSS feed to the City of Seal Beach website as well as access to web pages for various city departments with contact information for those departments.  This easy access to city information makes for an open resource for citizen participation in local issues as well as citizen journalism.  The app also gives users an RSS feed for press releases from the city and news articles from the Sun News. Most of NEAD Inc.’s apps are available for free at your respective app store on your mobile device.  Sokoll explained that he built his Seal Beach app for free and maintains it for free because he believes in what the app can be for people here: a public resource. “It took me maybe three hours to put this app together and get it out to the community and it didn’t cost me anything because it’s on my platform, so why wouldn’t I do it?” Sokoll also explained that he tried to give the app to the City of Seal Beach so they could run it as a public resource, but the city declined his offer.  A city official said they are reviewing different apps but at present don’t have the resources to maintain one – including personnel to answer questions or interact with residents.  The business district for Huntington Beach, on the other hand, accepted a similar offer and now manages an app that NEAD Inc. created for them called “HB Downtown.” Sokoll is currently developing plans for expanding MyCivicApps past Orange County and across the United States.  One can find more information about NEAD Inc.’s apps at the web address: <http://www.mycivicapps.com>.  Sokoll is 40-years-old and also works as a tech consultant for a variety of clients.

TJ Sokoll
TJ Sokoll, founder and CEO of NEAD Inc.

Publisher’s note: the above article was originally intended for the Sun News in Seal Beach, Caifornia, but it was pulled during the eleventh hour.  The writer has decided to publish it himself.

America celebrates 239 years of progress.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

239 years ago, a fledgling nation on the eastern coast of what was called the “new world” declared its independence from Great Britain as a gesture of empowerment against arguably the most powerful naval force on the world at the time.  The leaders of the secessionist movement had solidified their treacherous actions in history knowing that, if their efforts were to fail, they would be executed for crimes against the British Crown.  However; the vision that was shared by these revolutionaries had given them a common cause of liberty, which drove them beyond a fear of death.  Individuals who have the courage to collectively stand against a superior militaristic force for a cause greater than any one person are truly exceptional.

It is important to remember the courage and convictions of our ancestors whom were able to come together – beyond faith, beyond politics, beyond any one culture – and create a better society for their posterity.  However; it is also important to recognize where our courageous ancestors missed the mark.  Remembering their short-comings as well as their strengths does not dishonor them, but builds upon their vision.

In 1776, the United States of America was a young, optimistic, and ambitious nation with immense political and economic potential.  We were also largely dominated by an aristocratic society with the upper classes bearing an ever-so-slight superiority complex towards their so-called social inferiors and a somewhat prejudiced mentality against non-Western cultures.  The United States government was also practicing institutionalized slavery long after Thomas Jefferson wrote a declaration of war to King George III declaring the self-evident truth “that all men are created equal.”  It’s true that the ideals of those courageous revolutionaries were radically humanistic for their time, but it would take the rise of various social movements over the course of the next two centuries to progress the nation further (just compare American society in the revolutionary period to today and contrast the differences).  Despite several of America’s founders being anti-slavery, the issue of slavery would not be settled for another 85 years from our declaration as an independent nation, and American societies today are still feeling effects of issues that surround our past as a slave nation.  The point I’m trying to make here is that the United States was progressive for its time back in 1776, but could still make improvements as time passed.

Americans have progressed from the revolutionary period and we should feel pride in how far we’ve come, but there is still progress to be made.  There is always progress to be made because there is no such thing as a perfect society.  It is important to understand our history and humble ourselves as we stand on the shoulders of our forefathers, the courageous men and women who risked everything so that their children and grandchildren could have a better life.

One of the shortfalls of America’s founders lies in their failure to address the issue of institutionalized slavery, as I previously mentioned.  Frederick Douglass references the apparent hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence in an 1852 speech.

“I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!  Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.  The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.  The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.  The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me.  This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.  You may rejoice, I must mourn.  To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony (Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan, truthdig, 2015).”

Slavery is America’s original sin and Frederick Douglass orated that superbly in pre-Civil War America.  Today, 150 years after the end of the Civil War, American societies across our landscape remain torn apart by old tensions.

As a scholar of American history and politics, I understand the resentment that African-American communities (and other historically minority communities) feel toward the United States government.  Any honest scholar understands that history seldom paints pretty pictures, but rather reveals a continuous struggle between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s.”  However; I also believe in the potential of America and the promise of progress through the collective strengths of exceptionally courageous individuals like the British colonial revolutionaries of 1776.  People like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, and others believed in improving their world and, while they may have been men of privilege, they used there privileged foundations to build what they believed to be a better world.  That should be a goal of every generation: to stand on the the shoulders of giants and raise the standard of living for every person in the society.

On this Independence Day, and every subsequent Independence Day, Americans can reflect on the progress they’ve made as well as look to the future at prospects of creating a better society not just for Americans, but for all of humanity.

Happy Independence Day!