Credit for cover image: BBC, 9/23/2018.
By Dylan R.N. Crabb
The USA Today reported this morning that the legal team for Professor Christine Ford, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s initial accuser, has four sworn statements from four different people corroborating the Palo Alto University professor’s allegation of sex assault at the hands of Judge Kavanaugh back in 1982 – one of the corroborators being Ford’s husband and the other three close friends.
“In documents sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by USA TODAY, Ford’s attorneys present declarations from Ford’s husband, Russell, and three friends who support the California college professor’s accusation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to pull off her clothes while both were high school students in 1982.
The declarations will be used by Ford’s attorneys during a committee hearing on Thursday that could determine the fate of Kavanaugh’s embattled nomination. He also faces a second accusation of sexual assault from Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself and pushed his genitals into her face at a drunken party during the 1983-84 academic year at Yale University.”
While four sworn statements may be slightly more credible than one allegation on its own, the flaws in the Professor Ford’s initial allegation still have not been addressed. Chief among them: the fact that the crime allegedly occurred over three decades ago making it incredibly difficult to track down specific corroboration from that area at that time, the lack of details regarding the specific place and time of the alleged crime, the apparent lack of consistency between Ford’s account to her therapist in 2012 and her recent account to U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, and the question of why the alleged victim waited so long to tell anyone about the crime.
There is also an issue with these four corroborators: they all were told of the alleged crime in the past five years (after Ford’s first telling of her account to her therapist in 2012) so it still does not answer the question of why she waited so long to come out.
This case surrounding Judge Kavanaugh has apparently spawned a discussion on Twitter under the hashtag “#WhyIDidntReport,” the discussion comprised of various women claiming to be victims of sex crimes explaining why they did not report the alleged crime to the police. Most of the reasoning for not reporting seem to relate to the alleged victim’s emotional state at the time (which would obviously be distraught, I’m not denying that) as well as a distrust in the American justice system (which is flawed but still among the best on the world).
“Under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, thousands of women began recounting why it took them many years to talk about their attacks. By Sunday, there had been 675,000 tweets.”
There is one thing that Professor Ford could have done to avoid all of this political drama currently playing out. Assuming that she is telling the truth, she should have reported the crime as soon as possible (back in 1982). Ford says she was in high school at the time. Why didn’t she at least inform her parents of this horrible crime against her?
Regardless of the emotional state of the victim, reporting a sex crime as soon as possible after the fact is the best way to get the law on your side, it will significantly increase that chances that the alleged criminal will be caught by police. This is true for all crime, the longer the victim waits to report it, the more difficult it will be for law enforcement to raise legal charges and obtain a conviction.
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.
“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.
By Dylan R.N. Crabb
It seems like most of the corporate media’s focus is on the dealings of the national government, the federal government. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC provide 24-hour coverage on what is happening with various national politicians. It is too be expected since those organizations brand themselves as national news outlets but what about the states in which they are based? The state governments that those organizations operate under have more of an effect on them than the national government.
A key component of a democratic-republic is its federalist structure (a separation of powers). The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution give the national government ultimate authority in conflicting areas of interest between the national government and the state governments, but the state governments have their own authority within their own respective territories; the states can stand up to the national government in particular instances. Scholars of constitutionalism refer to American states as “laboratories of democracy” because elected officials in each state (and, by extension, their respective municipalities) can tailor their government to their particular populations.
I have yet to see a news program that focuses on the legislative processes of all the governments under which Americans live.
By Dylan R.N. Crabb
There is a particular ideology in America today, fostered by the Left-wing of the political spectrum, so intent on giving voice to minority populations that it seemingly idolizes victimization while proclaiming their distaste for and their distrust of populations of privilege. Some proponents of this ideology have even driven it to an extent of advocating for a dismantling of Western political and judicial systems on claims that Western civilization was founded on nothing more than the exploitation of minority populations. Nevermind that individuals in the West today enjoy a relatively peaceful society as well as longer lifespans compared to other parts of the world, contemporary Leftists focus on negative aspects of human history while dismissing anything positive that has arisen from a cultivation of social norms. As if humans would be better off without civilization, roaming the wilderness just like any other animal.
Western civilization is not perfect (of course), no civilization is perfect. Human history is littered with violence because humans have a proclivity towards violence. However; despite what post-modern ideologues would have you believe, power struggles are not the only thing that drive human actions. Any (reasonable) scholar of history will recognize that some of the worst atrocities have been committed in pursuit of an utopian ideal. In other words, some of the worst things ever accomplished were carried out with the best of intentions. A pragmatic leader governs a society as humans are, not as humans ought to be.
Contemporary Leftists are indeed pushing an idealistic agenda and it seems eerily reminiscent of the old Marxist rhetoric leading up to the Russian Revolution which formed the Soviet Union. These new “cultural Marxists,” or neo-Marxists, are driven by a desire for a utopia in which no group of people is prejudiced toward another group of people and all individuals live in harmony with one another with no hatred, jealousy, or exploitation. This is a fantastical, pathological idea and it is most evident on college campuses (more so with large universities) where Leftist, student organizations will rally protests against specific people with a so-called controversial opinion simply for having the audacity to speak to a crowd of supporters. Leftists students today are so “triggered” by differing opinions that they wish to limit individual freedom of speech to protect their own asinine sensabilities. The political Left is no longer liberal and liberals must stand up against these neo-communists.
Liberalism is about individuality, liberty, entreprenuership, and the ability of one person to forge his/her own destiny regardless of the circumstances of his birth. Liberals advocate for free speech for individuals, accountability for governments, separations of power, divisions in the structures of governments, and egalitarianism throughout a population.
The problem with idealistic, utopian ideologies like Marxist socialism/communism or Nazi socialism/fascism, as “well-intentioned” as they may be, they create “in-group” mentalities amongst specific populations which foster exclusiveness in pursuit of inclusiveness. In pursuit of a so-called inclusive society, the ideologues advocate to silence any rhetoric that goes against their ideology (any rhetoric that they label as hateful). Nevermind freedom of speech for individuals and the marketplace of ideas, any speech that may be interpreted as “hate speech” will not be tolerated by the contemporary neo-communists. This pro-censorship stance is antithetical to classic Enlightenment values. Censorship advocates are not liberal.
Examples of these pathological neo-communists can be seen in video recordings of public speeches by Milo Yiannopolous and Ben Shapiro. Milo Yiannopolous is a former reporter/editor at “Breitbart News” who organized a tour of college campuses a couple years back during which he spoke to his supporters publicly. Ben Shapiro is the current editor-in-chief of “The Daily Wire” who occasionally partners with various conservative organizations to speak to his supporters publicly at various American colleges. Both Yiannopolous and Shapiro have had contact with protesters at their events, people who were protesting them simply because they were speaking publicly.
A reasonable person encounters a public speaker whom they disagree with and perhaps crafts an argument against the speaker, engaging in a debate. However; the post-modern neo-communists do not believe in values of free speech and debate, they only care about asserting their own influence in the public sphere and obtaining power over our society. They do this under a belief that truth does not exist and that power dynamics are all that matter in human relations; this belief justifies their own use of power.
Free speech only matters if it applies to every person. Every person deserves the right to speak his mind regardless of how hateful it may be. I write this as a person who used to describe himself as a socialist. I used to describe myself as a socialist because I bought into the idealistic rhetoric of Marxism, “workers of the world unite,” and all that shit. I did not understand the bitter pathology behind a strive for utopia.
Post-modernist, neo-communism must be stopped before human history repeats itself. We do not want another Soviet Union to rise to prominence on the global stage.
By Dylan R.N. Crabb
Since I’ve been old enough to question the meaning behind the words, “land of the free and home of the brave,” I have pondered over classic American ideas of freedom , specifically the apparent contradictions between the idea that Americans enjoy more freedom from tyranny than any other rationalized peoples and the punitive practices of American law enforcement agencies against non-violent criminals. If America really is the “land of the free,” why is it a crime to light up a pipe filled with cannabis in the privacy of one’s own home? What exatly is the American ideal of freedom?
In the interest of fairness, I do acknowledge that (in general) the United States of America is a decent place to live compared to many other countries across the globe. While it is not logical to act prideful in the facts of your birth (no human chooses the circumstances of their birth), I am a little prideful about the relative prosperity of Western Civilization. No society is perfect but there is prosperity relative to other countries. The West’s top rankings on global freedom indexes are no accident – they are partly due to a a general culture that respects individualism and democratic-republicanism.
However; the United States has also been catalogued with the highest prison in the planet’s western hemisphere. (See the International Centre for Prison Studies: World Prison Population List – ICPS). Amongst Western nations, that is a poor ranking and Americans can do better. I think a major factor in this high population of prisoners is the so-called “war on drugs,” which was initiated under President Richard Nixon.
The argument in favor of drug prohibition is an emotional one consisting of exclamations like, “we need to prosecute these drug addicts,” “get these lazy pot heads off the street,” people shouldn’t be using drugs,” and more. All of these exclamations are irrelevant to individual freedom. A legal case may be argued for limiting drug use in on public property reserved for the general population but, on private property, it is a simple case of individual property rights and personal freedom. Regardless how one feels about drug use, it affects no one but the individuals involved and, if tobacco and alcohol use are not criminalized actions (two drugs much more dangerous than other drugs like cannabis) there is no consistent reasoning to criminalize less dangerous drugs.
Fortunately, there seems to be a growing shift in American cultures regarding durg use (at least regarding cannabis use). More than half of the states in the union have legalized medical-based cannabis; eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized it recreationally. Opinion polls show that more than half of the general public is now in favor of full legalization at the federal level. Trends are moving in a more libertarian direction.
Content creator and YouTube pundit Wizard of Cause expresses his satisfaction towards this trend in the following video:
I think any person harboring some preconceived ideas about drugs and drug users should at least make an attempt to flip the argument around onto themselves and then ask themselves if they would want anyone else busting down their doors in a police raid for a minimal amount of cannabis. Is that kind of environment really in line with an American ideal of freedom? Are citizens really free if we have to fear law enforcement because of a personal decision on private property?
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.
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?
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!
By Dylan R.N. Crabb
If you care about liberty, personal autonomy of the body, and individualism, than you should not be in support of the drug war because drug use affects one person only: the person using the drugs. If you are concerned about public safety, you should not be in support of the drug war because prohibition of drugs creates a black market of drugs which is more dangerous to a society than the drugs themselves. If you care about public health, you should not be in support of the drug war because any substance can have a benefit in the medical community through careful research, especially cannabis. The only thing that the drug war proves is that a rich person can get away with certain non-violent behavior that would get a poor person arrested for breaking the law. Any kind of non-violent behavior (behavior that does not physically affect anyone but the person performing such behavior) should not be a crime.
Cannabis may be the most beneficial and least dangerous substance a person can use, and yet the United States government currently classifies it as a “Category 1” substance, on the same level of caution as highly processed drugs such as cocaine and heroin. – Thanks to @JaclynGlenn for the video.
America’s #WarOnDrugs is an illogical abuse of government power and it needs to end.