Representation or Chaos

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Testimonies on Insurrection

Today, members of the Capitol Police give testimony (Live Coverage: House Panel Holds First Hearing on Jan. 6 Probe, The Hill Staff, 7/27/2021) in the House of Representatives regarding their experience during the insurrection that occurred on January sixth of this year. Their recollections from that day are vivid and horrifying, they even describe the insurrectionists as domestic terrorists (which I think is an honest description). I think any reasonable person would describe the events of January 6, 2021, as nothing short of a rebellion against the United States government. However, there are still people who would describe the rebels as American patriots while describing the police officers as traitors.

How did Americans become this polarized?

The two majority political parties have seen growing polarization over the past two decades with over a third of voters from each of the parties showing stark (Staff Report, Pew Research, 2021) differences in political opinions. The linked article above shows differences in opinions on voting rights, an arguably staple issue. Only 38% of Republican Party voters favor automatic voter registration of American adults compared to 82% of Democratic Party voters; the same percentage of Republican Party voters are in favor of early voting compared to 84% of Democratic Party voters. Support for differing positions is growing more and more stark within each party.

I think this polarization is tied to two different phenomena in 21st century America. First, the balkanized news media ecosystem in which we find ourselves swimming amid the many electronics screens that dominate our households. We have so many choices of news and commentary channels that we are increasingly retreating into our own ideological bubbles and shutting out any opposing view points. It’s imperative that individuals make efforts to search for sources of information outside of their own ideology (assuming self-awareness of one’s own ideology which can also be difficult to achieve).

The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine (WikiPedia, accessed 7/27/2021) is another contributing factor to political polarization. Repealed in 1987, the Fairness Doctrine (Victor Pickard, The Washington Post, 2021) mandated radio and television broadcasters to present opposing views of allegedly controversial issues to the American public operating under the justification that, because there were so few news broadcasters, a mandate was required to maintain a diversity of opinions (correctly assuming that news media has an significant impact on the political opinions of American voters). The conservative argument to this in the era of digital media is that there are so many outlets for news & commentary today that a government mandate on media organizations is no longer necessary. However, this assumption fails to explain how a handful of companies control (Ashley Lutz, Business Insider, 2012) the legacy media (established news sources like CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, etc.). The fact that more Americans are capable of accessing a plethora of news stations today is beside the point of contention regarding who owns most of those news stations. The digital era presents Americans with more opportunities in news but most of the money still resides with legacy media (not to mention the political parties that influence respective news stations with their war chests). In other words, the laissez faire argument falls flat as usual – Americans cannot rely on private organizations to police themselves or forgo opportunities for profit in pursuit of a public interest. There is also the issue surrounding the advent of digital social media. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook have become primary players in so-called alternative news media but they are technically not broadcaster themselves, not subject to traditional regulations over periodic content.

“With respect to the regulation of personal attacks made in the context of public issue debates, the FCC’s requirement that the subject of the attack be provided with a tape, transcript, or broadcast summary, as well as an opportunity to respond without having to prove an inability to pay for the “air-time,” insured a balanced and open discussion of contested issues. The requirement that political editorializing be presented for and against both sides of the debated issues also contributed to the balanced discussion of public concerns.”

Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, Oyez, accessed July 27, 2021, <https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/2>.

The second phenomenon that has fueled polarization is the growing influence of money in political processes. American elections have been growing more expensive through our history. Since the start of this century, every national congressional and presidential election has topped (OpenSecrets, accessed 7/27/2021) billions of dollars. A specific Supreme Court case (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Oyez, accessed July 27, 2021) has only exacerbated the issue with election spending growing exponentially since 2010. Concern over large financial interests in elections is nothing new. The first attempt to regulate financial expenditures on elections was the Tillman Act of 1907 (WikiPedia, accessed 7/27/2021). The act, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt prohibited corporations from spending money from their own treasuries on specific election campaigns. Obviously, the Supreme Court of the United States has taken the nation in a different direction since then. Today, independent organizations can spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for a specific political candidate which ensures that people with more money are able to crowd the media air waves with advertisements, effectively shutting out less fortunate voices. I think advocacy for limits on campaign spending by independent organizations could be argued for using the Equal Protection Clause as justification but I’m not a lawyer.

The corrupting influence (OpenSecrets, accessed 7/27/2021) of capitalism on democratic-republicanism is obvious at this point in our history. Donations of $2,500 or more from individual people (large donations) make up the bulk of expenditures to political candidates, donations $200 or less (small donations) make up barely over 10% of all political expenditures. Health insurance companies, for instance, donate (OpenSecrets, accessed 7/27/2021) millions of dollars every cycle to political campaigns. This fact could be one factor in why the United States is the only industrialized country on the planet that does not guarantee a universal healthcare policy to its citizens despite a majority (Bradley Jones, Pew Research, 2020) of Americans supporting universal healthcare.

Oligarchic Intrusion, Apathy, Polarization

The high costs of elections coupled with the overwhelming influence of money in politics has led to a majority of Americans abdicating the civic responsibility of voting (Drew Desilver, Pew Research, 2020) under the justification that votes do not matter as much as in past generations, leaving the democratic to the more ideologically charged activists who are less likely to make strategic compromises with their political opponents. The 2016 elections saw 56% of the voting population turning up on Election Day – that percentage was a slight increase from 2012 but lower than the record year of 2008 when 58% of voters cast a ballot. It’s easy to cast blame onto these apathetic citizens, shrugging them off as lazy and irresponsible, but I think the more significant question is why these citizens feel so disconnected from their own government – from their democratic process. Half the nation feels so disconnected from democracy – from the republic – they don’t know where to turn to make their voice heard and, when large groups of people feel disenchanted, disaffected, and desperate, violence is more common.

The Future is Now

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

I remember when the year 2020 was the quintessential year for futuristic landscapes in science-fiction.  Now, that year is less than a month away.  For myself, it will be the year I turn thirty.

When I was a kid, I thought thirty years of age was “old as fuck” (I still jokingly describe that age as such).  In all seriousness, thirty can be as young as twenty for modern humans considering how long we can live today and the fact that medical science will only improve our lifespans in the future (disregarding a potential apocalypse that sets our civilization back by centuries).  Statistically speaking (assuming that you take care of yourself), thirty-year-olds today are less than halfway through our total lifespan.  We have MORE time today to get started doing what we love to do.

Life is what you make it so, what are you waiting for?

 

Claudio Tolousse Chills Out Zinc Bar

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

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PHOTO: Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 11/21/2019.

Musician/Songwriter Claudio Tolousse jazzed up the Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro Thursday night.  No band, no back-up singers, just Claudio.  It was a chill performance.

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PHOTO: Claudio Tolousse Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, 11/21/2019.

Albuquerque gets a negative reputation from news media pessimistic attitudes and too few people overlook the city’s gems.  From my own experience, the best neighborhood in the city is Nob Hill (surrounding the University of New Mexico) with a stretch of Central Avenue that caters to nightlife entertainment and chill brew hipsters.  The Zinc Bar is just one of the many hangouts where you can order a beer, listen to some guitar strumming, and forget about life’s troubles for a while.

Claudio Tolousse also hosts a podcast called Art Talk Music in which he talks about “all thing music” with a variety of musical talents.

Change is the Only Constant

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

change-ahead
Image Source: <https://ocdalecarnegie.com/8-be-attitudes-to-embrace-change-and-increase-adaptability/>.

The key to survival is adaptability, using the tools from multiple situations to improve your own standing on the world.  “Survive and take what is offered,” as one of my favorite sci-fi dramas words it.

Adaptability can be difficulty in our modern world because most of the changes that fall upon us are less perceptible in the short-term.  Our pre-historic ancestors had to adapt to immediate changes like alterations in the weather, a new predator on the horizon, and a plague-stricken tribe.  Today, we deal with more subtle changes like the possibility of a new job, market fluctuations for commodities, and the need to update our personal skill sets.  Most people may not place a lot of value on the little decisions made in a day but these little decisions can (unfortunately) add up to a lifetime of regret.  Seizing opportunities in youth can help set up decisions for the rest of your life and ensure a meaningful existence as well as commonplace happiness.

I’m not saying that we should stress over every repetitive decision we make in a day like what you have for breakfast one morning or should you drive or ride public transit, excess stress is never productive.  I’m simply saying that we should always be reminding ourselves to try new things because it’s easy to get stuck in a routine.  Humans are creatures of habit by nature and that can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.  To get trapped in a status quo (or an echo chamber) for the sake of security can lead to unfulfillment later in life.  Be open to change and actively seek it out.

 

What are your goals?

 

There is an old metaphor about human potential: if you are a military general leading an army with the goal of conquering an island, the easiest way is to burn your own boats because then there is only one option.  It’s amazing what a person can accomplish when there is no way to go back – when there is no way out – when your goals become necessities.

You don’t have to be a “jack of all trades” to be successfull in life.  I think it’s much more beneficial if you go all in on your strengths doing work for which you are best equipped naturally.  Do not wait to pursue your passions, seize opportunities today.

What is your goal for today – this week – this month – this year?

 

 

 

 

 

The D.N.C. is cheating AGAIN!

SOURCE: The Jimmy Dore Show, <https://youtu.be/BwjRnXGtkr0>, posted 8/27/2019.

^ This is what the Democratic Party does, they cheat the populists out of the process by manipulating their primary rules.  The Democratic National Committee (D.N.C.) was against Bernie Sanders in 2016 because they were beholden to the Clinton machine and Sanders was the anti-war voice against Hillary Clinton.  Now, the D.N.C. is against Tulsi Gabbard because she’s the new populist voice speaking out against the corporate interests who bankroll the Democrats.  Changes in debate rules in the middle of the election season, discounting specific polls that don’t favor specific candidates, setting thresholds for fundraising as qualifyers for potential nominations, these are some of the subtle tactics that the dominant political parties (the Republican Party is guilty too) use to maintain power and shut out candidates who value the public over their party.  Populists are at an incredible disadvantage because our elections are all about party loyalty and fundraising.
President George Washington warned the American public about party politics, these fucking donkeys and elephants have taken over the nation!

Populists are at an incredible disadvantage because our elections are all about party loyalty and fundraising.

SOURCE: United States Representative Tulsi Gabbard, <https://youtu.be/es3lWK-wXLs>, posted 8/27/2019.

 

 

WATCH: Kyle Kulinski on Mainstream Bias

Video Source: Secular Talk on YouTube.

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

WATCH: “The Nature of Power.”

Video Credit: Wizard of Cause on YouTube.

Power is an essential element of human sociology.  Many of us take it for granted, ignoring the implications of handling power and the consequences of acts of power, which may explain the extravagance we take with power.  Perhaps we need to alter the way we think about power and makes changes to how our social organizations handle power.  What if we thought of power not as a position toward which to aspire to but as a “force of nature” to be directed in a particular way; an act of god which we use with humility and due diligence.

Can we all just play some games together?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Politics is becoming way too tribal these days and I’m becoming more inclined to simply opt out of the process altogether.  Why state my opinion if I’ll just get taken out of context and demonized by my opponents?  Why try to promote truth when most people don’t care about truth?  I’ll just stick to my dead-end jobs and enjoy my days off with some video games.

 

Destiny 2 5_16_2019 11_48_35 AM
A Hunter meets a Titan on Nessus (Destiny 2).

 

I think the best way to be politically involved is in your local community (at least).  Your home community will have the most effects on your daily life and your daily interactions can have some influence on the local culture (however small that influence may be).  Perhaps the keys to countering rising political tribalism lie in expanding your personal interactions on the local level.  Every facet of your life should not be a part of some grand political fight, that kind of life grows exhausting very fast.  We need to remember to take time away from our personal politics to just spend time with people – no politics, no grand-standing, no partisan bullshit – just spending time with your peers casually bantering with one another (like people used to do in the days before internet connections).

Personally, I would love to find some gamers in Albuquerque just to get together with a couple times a week and talk about video games for a couple hours.  Maybe I should start a “No Politics” club to attract more intelligent people. 😀 lol Maybe I can even bring back the Know Nothing Party. 🙂

Btw, my Blizzard gamertag is “Crabb90#1566” if any Destiny players want to jump into the Crucible with me. 😉

A Globalized Economy and Drugged Shrimp

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

Three years into the administration of President Donald Trump and the economy is “booming” (at least for bankers, investment firms, and corporate business).  Rural communities are still struggling to maintain some independence in the modern world but at least Wall Street is thriving off of consolidation and exploitation.  The state of contemporary working classes all over the globe is enough to induce a state of depression but at least business classes and service industries are making us all fat and content with modern luxuries.  There are even some British shrimp that are getting high off of human excesses, the drug war has gone international and is now affecting our water ways.  Tricky Dick would be proud.

And while some communities scrape up some money to implement idealistic policies such as plastic bag bans and carbon taxes (the “liberal agenda” at work), the rest of us are working our butts off to keep our bank accounts just above poverty levels, all for a slim chance to “make it big” and join the ranks of the fabulously wealthy “one percent” (the American Dream, am I right?).

This new world of constant connections and interdependence has its advantages but the transition has been tough for us millennials as we struggle to forge our own destinies amidst endless distractions and, as social services continue to be cut from government budgets in an effort to “reign in spending” in the name of “fiscal responsibility,” it seems like the purpose of government itself comes more and more into question.  I suppose we can always get another bullshit job after another serving fried food to fat Americans and getting drunk on our craft beers.