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.

 

NM’s HB31 Amended to Protect Tips; Understandable but Flawed

House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Increase,” has been amended to protect earned tips of restaurant servers.

The amendment reads:

“From the effective date of this 2019 act until July 1, 2022, an employer may pay a lower cash minimum wage rate pursuant to Subsection D of this section only if the employer can establish that for each week that an employee who customarily and regularly receives more than thirty dollars ($30.00) a month in tips works, the sum of the employee’s tips combined with the employer’s cashwage is not less than the minimum wage rate as provided inSubsection A of this section (NM Representative Miguel Garcia, NM Legislature, 2019).”

I think it’s logical for restaurant servers to react defensively to this bill as it was originally written but I think that reaction is based in an understanding that helps their employers take advantage of them.  As I’ve stated in previous postings here, a tip from a customer in any industry is not mandatory.  Even if a server demands a tip, the customer is not legal bound to provide one.  It is simply an expression of good faith on the part of the consumer toward the business worker.  I don’t believe that any worker’s pay check should be contingent upon the potential good faith of particular consumers.  All of the responsibility of worker pay should be on the business.  A separate “serving wage” for food servers creates a minimum wage double standard between the food service industry and every other industry and it is exploited by businesses whose bottom line is higher profits.

“You have the possibility for more money through tips so I’m going to pay you less than the standard minimum for every other industry.”

^ That is the logic behind this double standard, it essentially outsources responsibility to the workers themselves forcing them to become entertainers as well as food servers, begging for tips because they get paid less than other workers.

Customers in any food establishment should not be expected to supplement the wages of the servers and they definitely should not be guilt-tripped into giving a larger tip out of sympathy.  Businesses should pay food servers the same minimum wage as every other industry as well as let servers keep all the tips they earn from customers.

Apex Legends bashes through a wall into the battle royale genre.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

There is a new battle royale game available that blows Fortnite out of the water.  With over ten million players in its first week upon launch, Apex Legends is geared to compete in the rising gaming genre that pits players in an arena-style map to fight to the death.

Did I mention that the game is free to download? 🙂

One reason that I prefer Apex Legends to Fortnite is the greater details in the gameplay.  Fortnite‘s cartoonish asthetic gives it an immature and child-like feel, limiting my suspension of disbelief in the fictional world.  That child-like feel combined with the fact that there are no unique characters in the canon makes the environment too superficial.  It’s true that Fortnite players can customize their appearance through the purchasing of various skins but it is purely for aesthetic purposes.  Apex Legends players have a choice of a select group of characters to play in the map and each character has unique abilites to use in combat.  The characters not only add variability to the gameplay but also add to the lore of the story.

You can decide for yourself which character is best for your style of gameplay but here’s a subjective guide of the characters from YouTube user “ImMarksman.”

Another reason why Apex Legends is superior to Fortnite is the more intricate map.  The little details in the terrain (more rocks to use for cover, more ledges to climb up on for a better view, the various paths you can take from one end of the map the another, etc.) make all the difference in the battle royale genre, a genre that is inherently limited by a set map that gets smaller the longer you play.

 

ApexLegends-map
Image Source: <https://venturebeat.com/2019/02/04/apex-legends-hands-on-gameplay-videos-highlight-fresh-battle-royale-tactics/>.

 

An unfortunate down-side to Apex Legends is that the game currently has no solo mode, you are forced to play in a team of three players.  That specific caveat would not be a  problem if more players would speak to each other cooperatively over the built-in voice chat.  In most matches, you’ll find players (like myself) wandering off on their own and not even attempting to coordinate with each other.  Those more solitary players would prefer a solo mode.

Despite the forced team play, Apex Legends is fantastic for newcomers and veterans alike, it has a beautifully designed map with detailed twists and turns that make for endless possibilities for potential strategies with rumors of more maps in the works from creator Respawn Entertainment.  I recommend this game to anyone craving some mindless competition while still looking for some decent world-building.

The “State of the Union” is shit.

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Do we really need a televised “State of the Union” address?

At the beginning of every year, Americans choose whether or not tune into the “State of the Union” address delivered by the current president, whom is treated like royalty with grandstanding applause at his every vague word. The past five presidents can sum up one S.O.T.U. in one sentence: the state of the union is shit. Of course, a politician has to keep up a facade for the American public so no one becomes too alarmed.

President Donald Trump’s latest S.O.T.U. address last night was particularly useless because it’s President Trump – an excessively selfish, misogynistic, corporatist, baffoon who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Does this guy really understand the current state of our democratic-republic?

Trump-grandstanding

IMAGE SOURCE: Fox News, <https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/liz-peek-state-of-the-union-speech-showcases-talent-of-trump-on-the-stump>, 2019.

The S.O.T.U. is a partisan sporting event for American politicians. Regardless of who is the President, the two parties with the most political market share use the event to throw miniscule rhetorical punches at each other, distracting the public with their charade of modern tribalism. All the while, their corporate puppet masters make back room deals to fuck over the average American with neo-liberal economics and an imperialist agenda. That’s what American politics has become: charades and back room deals.

President Trump campaigned on pseudo-populist rhetoric which was successful against an obvious corporatist who had been in politics her entire life and who’d flip-flopped on issues more times than anyone could count. Though, once in Office, Trump proved himself even more of a phony. He doesn’t care about working Americans given his cabinet picks (a former oil lobbyist for the position of Interior Secretary?), he only cares about his own ego.

I’m also a selfish person but I have no plans to run for a public office, I would hate that kind of job.

A look into history.

While the nation’s first two presidents felt it necessary to deliver a speech to the national Congress, President Thomas Jefferson disagreed with that assumption. President Jefferson believed a physical speech to Congress was not necessary and a public event idolizing the presidency seemed to monarchial, antithectical to the nation’s democratic ideal. Instead of a physical speech, President Jefferson simply wrote a letter to the Congress in which he laid out budget reports for his agenda (no grandstanding public appeals) and that tradition was followed until President Woodrow Wilson revived public addresses in 1913.

I think two inventions transformed political theatre in the negative during the 20th century: the radio and the television. Ultimately, the radio and the television (more so with television) placed more emphasis on public appearances and optics rather than the specifics of policies. Americans began turning to what a candidates looked like and what he appeared to do rather than what a candidate actually was, Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan are examples of this public obsession with appearances. Both Kennedy and Reagan were praised for their on-camera talents while their less favorable actions regarding policy stayed out of the spotlight.

How can Americans return to a policy-focused culture shying away from appearances and optics?

Counter-Productive Opposition to New Mexico’s HB31

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Yesterday, New Mexico’s House Commerce & Economic Development Committee discussed House Bill 31, the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Bill” and a lot of people traveled to the capital to express their opinions in-person to the committee (there were plenty of people for it as well as against it).

A curious citizen can view the recorded committee session here.

The restaurant industry sounds the like the most vocal demographic in opposition to HB31 and much of the criticism against the bill seems to be focused on the fact that the merging of the serving wage with the minimum wage will likely mean less tips for restaurant servers.  The loss of high earnings of tips for a successful restaurant server is an understandable fear but I think this fear misses the point of the bill.  The purpose of the bill is to create a living wage for all employees.

As of 2016, there are approximately 7.6 million individuals in the nation classed as “working poor” (working but still living below the poverty line), according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Why should anyone be living in poverty while they are working full-time or near full-time?

A tip is not a mandated exchange from a customer to a server, it is a voluntary gift supposedly based on the merit of the server’s work and attitude toward the customer.  It’s true that an employer in the restaurant industry is required by New Mexico law to make up the difference in a lack of tips to bring a server’s earnings up to the minimum wage level, but then why have two different minimum wages at all?  Why not dispense with the server’s wage entirely?  I’m confused about the double standard.

Why is it acceptable for a restaurant owner to outsource the burden of waiter/server pay to the consumers? 

 

MinWage Legislation Advancing in NM House Committees

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

House Bill 31, or the “Phased-In Minimum Wage Bill,” received a “Do Pass” recommendation from the House Labor, Veterans, And Military Affairs Committee and was referred to the Commerce & Economic Development Committee where it currently resides.

 

screenshot_2019-01-29 legislation - new mexico legislature
Screen Capture from <https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?chamber=H&legType=B&legNo=31&year=19>.

 

The final committee vote in HLVMAC was 6 in favor and 3 against – the three members who voted against the bill are NM Representative Rachel Black (District 51), NM Representative David Gallegos (District 61), and NM Representative Tim Lewis (District 60).

NM Representative Antonio Maestas is the chairman the Commerce & Economic Development Committee, he has not yet scheduled House Bill 31 for a committee vote.

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.

The Age of Memes

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

“Have you ever thought about what it means to be a god?  It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people’s minds.  You barely have your own identity anymore.  Instead, you’re a thousand aspects of what people need you to be.  And everyone wants something different of you.  Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable (Neil Gaiman, American Gods, 2001).”

Humans are very visual with communication often using images to supplement the narrative power of written words.  “A picture is worth a thousand words,” says the old phrase and pictures dominate the modern world of digital communications.

The news industry is undergoing a transformation through digital communications and I think the most successful news organizations to come out on top of that transformation will be the organizations that are fully embracing the web, not the organizations that are trying to keep one foot online and the other foot in physical print.  As much as I hate to admit it, printed paper is becoming less and less practical and digital platforms are becoming more and more relevant as web culture is slowly expanding through its various influencers, conquering the media landscape.  Mobile phones, touch-screen music players, and tablets are the new remote controls of our society.

instantmessagingapps-580x358
Image Source: <https://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2416558/instant-messaging-to-overtake-email-as-biggest-digital-communication-platform>.

The ability to search for specific information has become just as important as knowing information and that is a powerful thing for the average person with no defining, exceptional skills.  Technology is an amazing equalizer that not only improves your own life but your ability to help others.  Of course, technology also has a dystopian element.  The so-called gatekeepers – the internet service providers, the search engines, and the speech platforms – now hold immense influence over the decisions of individual people.  I think the solution to that is more market choices for consumers as well as effective anti-monopoly laws from governments, but that leads us into a more specific political discussion.

There is no doubt that technology has improved lives for people all over the globe and internet access is a huge part of connecting people with products and services beneficial to altruistic endeavors.  Even comedians are utilizing the Web to spread short messages for quick laughs – “memes” as they have been coined.  Imagine how a person from the pre-industrial age would spread his idea to a million eyes and ears across just his own country let alone the world.  Today, one just has to post on Twitter and, if enough people see it and share it, instant pseudo-celebrity status (for about five minutes).

 

web20
Image Source: <http://www.vmagroup.com/digital-communications/>.

 

A computer (including a smart phone, a digital tablet, etc.) is a powerful tool.  It should be used to a society’s benefit rather than to dumb down a populace but perhaps I’m writing optimistically.

Why is it okay to sexualize kids?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

When I was a child, I did not have a concept of sexual intercourse.  I began learning about it around the junior high school age range but, even when I was introduced to the concept, I struggled to understand it and I didn’t really want to understand it.  I was more concerned with building some fantasy castle with my LEGO blocks.  So, when I see a kid today like 10-year-old Desmond Napoles (“Desmond is Amazing“) making a youthful career out of dressing like a drag queen, I start to wonder about the parenting methods raising that kid.  Have these so-called “drag kids” even gone through puberty yet?  Do they understand what it means to be sexually attracted to another person?  Do they understand how their own sexual development will mature through their teenage years?  What is motivating these kids to become drag queens?

Perhaps I have a more traditional attitude regarding sex in media, displaying children in such a sexualized manner seems weird.

I think this commentary from Roaming Millennial covers how I feel about this phenomenon:

The “LGBT” phenomenon seems like a sex cult determined to destroy any boundaries around the intimate activity without thinking about why those boundaries are in place.  Maybe sexual expression should be kept between small groups of people who love one another rather than flaunted throughout media like a public event.