it goes both ways

i’m pretty passionate about the first amendment, if you haven’t figured that out by now. a lot of left-leaning people generally are pro-first amendment and make a big deal out of it: see the recent marches, etc. but what baffles my mind is when they can’t see that the first amendment goes both ways. you get to say your piece, and the other guy does too. THAT’S HOW IT WORKS.  

exhibit a:

Screen-Shot-2017-01-25-at-10.25.07-AM

is it ok to punch a nazi?

this guy, whose name i don’t know nor do i care to know, was giving an interview. he is a white supremacist, aka nazi. someone came up to him mid-interview, punched him, and ran away. 

twitter exploded. every liberal person i follow on my feed had some pithy 140 characters about how it’s american to punch a nazi. how punching was too good for the nazi. how they wanted to punch nazis all day long.

and my mouth dropped open, thinking, what on earth is wrong with you people? this guy is talking about his nazi ideals, which he is entitled to think and talk about as long as he doesn’t use them to infringe on anyone else’s rights. and someone punched him.

if you brought up the first amendment to any of the it’s-ok-to-punch-a-nazi people? well, hellfire was wrought. you basically had to shut down you twitter account forever at that point. 

i unfollowed my fave web cartoonist (questionable content!) because he would not shut up about how he didn’t want to hear that punching nazis was really an affront to the first amendment. and many of his followers would twitter-attack you if you wanted to make a case.

the nazi has every right to speak out about his beliefs as long as he isn’t infringing on someone else’s rights*. his opponents had every right to speak out against him as long as there are no personal threats (that’s hate speech, kids). OR, his opponents had every right to turn around and ignore him. 

you know that episode of the simpson’s where the giant ads come to life, and the whole town sings “just don’t look”? that’s how you deal with a nazi. ignore him.

exhibit b:

fire-berkeley

the berkeley riots

well. i haven’t done a ton of research on this, and my twitter feed was conspicuously silent about this (surprise surprise). i’m really disgusted by this. 

this dude named milo last name is greek and begins with a Y, who is an editor for breitbart and a general right-wing rabble rouser, was scheduled to speak at berkeley, invited by the college republicans. he’s been on tour and in one of his previous engagements, he called out a transgender student by name for ridicule. (hate speech! not cool at all.) students called for cancellation based on his previous inciteful speech, but the president of UCB didn’t cancel. hence a protest. 

here’s what i’ve learned happened based on my minimal research (remember: you can do your own research on this! and make sure to visit multiple sites of varying viewpoints. i visited the NYTimes and the national review.). a professor from UCB pepper-sprayed a woman wearing a make american great again hat. a person in black ran up to a student, said “you look like a nazi”, and pepper-sprayed and beat with a rod. the student who was attacked? definitely not a nazi; he was a muslim from syria. (makes you wonder which side the attacker was actually on…) then there was a fire, and the speaking event was cancelled because people were worried for milo’s safety. 

the best way to have handled this? let those college republicans have their speaker. ignore it completely, or if you do protest, do so legally and peacefully. or go to the speaker, listen to what he has to say, then ask a bunch of questions about why he thinks that. bring your facts and piecharts. but by inciting violence or hate speech, you’re infringing on someone else’s rights. and THAT’S NOT THE POINT of the first amendment.

i saw very little in my twitter feed about this. i remember seeing one tweet about how people were spelling berkeley many different ways and missing the hashtag. but my regular tweeters i follow? not one peep. 

and this is what’s wrong. 

conclusion

if you support the first amendment, you need to 100% support it – no exceptions. if it’s something you absolutely hate, then you speechify/protest right back, but you cannot punch a person, pepper-spray a person, or threaten said speakers. or, best scenario, don’t give them an audience. that’s the ultimate slap in the face when you think about it. there is nothing more irritating to someone with a very hot-button opinion than no one to listen. 

and, lord help me, i’m ending my argument with a quote from the national review. 

Setting aside the question of political violence, our so-called liberal friends should be asking themselves some uncomfortable questions about their participation in a political movement that feels the need to silence critics and to bully institutions into excluding nonconforming points of view from public forums.

the very thing we dirty hippies are fighting for are what we’re showing to be our downfall, in a way. different points of view in public forums is what shapes our country to what it is. i had a coworker once ask me if i liked talking about politics (in person!), and i said no because my views were completely different from his, and neither of us would change our minds. he said that’s all the more reason to discuss politics. by sharing our viewpoints, we can find a middle-ground and compromise.*

*i am NOT condoning nazism as a valid thing to compromise on. remember: infringing on someone else’s rights and autonomy (like, say, nazi human experimentation or exterminating an entire people based on religion) is not in the cards. 

putting the bad in badlands

i have a feeling i will be posting a lot of politiblogs over the next four years. that said, i’m going for a quick run because it’s time to start training for my half marathon. 

life goes on?

brb.

wow i run like the wind when i’m fired up.

let’s talk about what’s happening to the national parks’ social media accounts. and the gag order on the EPA and the USDA. 

today, the EPA staffers were ordered stop releasing press releases, blog updates and social media posts. the USDA’s research department was told to stop releasing press releases, photos, and other public-facing docs. basically everything the public should be interested in, and SHOULD see, they were ordered to stop sharing. *

the head of the EPA said, “We’re temporarily dimming some of the communication aspects of the department while we get it under control, to shape the message towards what the new administration would like to be talking about.” 

(my guess is the new administration would like to shape the EPA to be the EDA (environmental destruction agency) and change its message completely.)

in addition to the halt in public communications, there’s been a hiring freeze, and i’m guessing they will reduce the staff size by not replacing employees in the upcoming boomer retirements. 

in a POSITIVE light, we have some rogue national park service peeps making appearances. first, we see the NPS tweeting about crowd size comparison on inauguration day, which were promptly removed. 

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of course we got some screenshots before the ballsy social media peeps in the badlands got the boot.

second, today, the badlands official twitter account** went on a climate change missive, sending up a tweetstorm after the ruling came through to shut up. tweets were subsequently deleted. but major, major props to that social media manager. if there’s any reason to support the NPS, this would be it (you know, besides taking in the splendor of our nation’s natural  beauty while we still can and before public lands are sold to the highest bidder). as a social media manager myself, i highly commend this action, even if it would inevitably mean a firing.

one VERY important lesson to learn about the internet, which DT’s team seems to be missing: when you put something on the internet, it STAYS on the internet. and removing it by presidential order is one way to GUARANTEE everyone sees it.

meanwhile, i will say that DT’s nominee for head of department of the interior, which oversees the NPS, does not believe climate change is a hoax. he also has been against handing public lands over to the states. it’s a low, low bar, but it’s SOMETHING. 

[as an aside, DT has done ONE thing that i agree with – he nixed the TPP. i was not a huge fan of that and wondered why obama supported it.]

and here’s what DT said himself about environmentalism today: “I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist; I believe in it. But [edit: AND] it’s out of control.”

i think you misspoke your conjunction there, mr. t. maybe he’s talking about his personal environment of gold elevators and sketchy hair products? 

*******

*i guess george w’s administration had the same sort of policy so it’s not unprecedented. same thing happened in canada, as well: “There was a feeling that the government was not interested in expert opinion, and I think it’s the same kind of thing that you are probably going to see with the new [Trump] administration” in the U.S., David Tarasick, a senior research scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada (the equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), said last month.

source to read: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-administration-restricts-news-from-federal-scientists-at-usda-epa/?WT.mc_id=SA_FB_POLE_NEWS

**support the badlands’ twitter: https://twitter.com/BadlandsNPS 

IMG_0371

THIS HEADLINE IS NOT THE ARTICLE

i want to expand a little on what i wrote on facebook yesterday in light of the press secretary lying in a press conference and then the chief of staff saying that his statements were “alternative facts”.

here’s the thing: i’ve taken a 300-level media law class and a 500-level media law class, one at st. ben’s and another at st cloud SU for my master’s. i took journalism I and II at st. ben’s. then i spent almost 3 years working for a newspaper. granted, it was a small weekly, but it was still a newspaper. 

my master’s degree is in mass communication. i had to take a media ethics class to get that sucker. so when i go on and on about the first amendment? i literally have studied it for semesters. then i literally have applied it in my workplace for years, even now as i work in a public institution.

so when the press secretary, who theoretically has taken the SAME CLASSES I HAVE, steps in front of a podium and outright lies to the press representatives about inauguration numbers, that makes your mouth drop open. then when he tells them that “we (the white house) will hold you accountable,” that’s when you literally gasp. 

excuse me, sir. that is NOT how this works. 

let’s review.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble*, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

here are the fundamentals of why the press and media are important.

the press is the watchdog of the government. the watchdog of the press is the readers and citizens. 

if you truly want to hold the media and thereby the government accountable, make sure the news you’re reading is TRUE, FACTUAL, and ACCURATE. i’m not talking about the opinion page. i’m talking about the news. any journalist worth her or his salt will investigate beyond talking points and make sure the news is correct. see something that’s not correct? stop buying that newspaper; call them and let them know why you’re no longer reading them. less readership means less subscriptions and less advertising, which means less newspaper. write a letter to the editor and tell them the information is incorrect and show your sources. call for action from that media outlet. (first make sure it’s not a satirical outlet.) 

readers (YOU), ombudsmen**, and outside organizations are the watchdogs of the media. instead of repeating soundbytes, memes, and headlines, how about delving into the news to see if what you’re seeing is actually the news. if it isn’t, then contact the news outlet. if it is, how about helping them stay in business with a subscription or visiting their website without adblock.

so there’s my two cents. it’s not hard to find out the real news and to stay informed. it takes a little more effort than scrolling past a meme, but you and the people you consort with will be better for it.

*some states are now considering legislation that will make protests (assembly) illegal. that’s the next topic. UGH. 

**an ombudsman is sort of like an internal quality control for a newspaper – a reader’s advocate in some ways. the ombudsman, who keeps an objective lens, will go through all reader complaints and grievances, then check to see if any thing called out as incorrect or checking on stories that readers need explanation on. this is a lot of running around to keep journalists accountable, but it’s a great way to make sure the news is reported correctly. unfortunately, the newspaper ombudsman has gone out of style lately, and probably just when we need it. with readership down, it’d be a great way to keep readers engaged and informed about how the newspaper keeps itself objective and accountable.

the 1/5 compromise electoral college

WELP. let’s get political and talk about the electoral college. why? because i THOUGHT i knew why it was in place and actually tended to agree, being a rural person, then i read something that contradicted it, so now i’m out for the TRUTH. in this world of fake news, i’m hoping that katerrific.com can provide you with some facts and more truthiness than trumpiness (read – lies). 

right now, hillary clinton has a popular vote margin of 2.8 million votes. MILLION!! al gore had 500,000 more votes than GW in 2000. GW won by SCOTUS appointment in 2000, and now DT will win by electoral college in 2016. 

at this point, if you live in a less populated state, say, in the rocky mountain region, your vote is one of the most valuable in the country. if you live in a densely populated state on the coasts, your vote is crap. If you live in wyoming, your vote has the same power as about 4.5 new yorkians*. this “everyone’s vote counts”? not true. 

these days, the reasoning behind the electoral college is that if it weren’t in place, candidates wouldn’t pay attention to flyover states and instead do most of their campaigning on the coasts in well-populated areas. 

but is this what the founding fathers had in mind? they couldn’t have predicted the current reach of the country or the populations back when the college was put into place. 

so what were they thinkin’?

well, some wanted congress to elect a president. others wanted a group apportioned to the states’ populations so that there would be no collusion amongst congressmembers. and some wanted a popular vote.

however, there was concern with a popular vote in the southern states due to slavery. they figured the south could have no effect in the election because voting rights were much more extensive in the north (because slaves couldn’t vote; you’d think they’d think that through…). so, in a way, they were concerned about population, just not the one you are currently thinking. 

they set up the electoral college using the 3/5 compromise (which they used to elect population-based congressmembers and figuring taxation).

alexander hamilton’s had a resurgence lately. he thought there were some good things about the electoral college: the electors weren’t federal representatives, so in theory they wouldn’t be able to elect based on party affiliations OR someone influenced by foreign interests. hamilton was also concerned about someone gaining office who was unqualified and more along the lines of “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity”.

obviously the electoral college has morphed from the 3/5 compromise days, but its unfair representation of people is still has a stronghold. the number of electors a state is allotted equals the total number of congresspeople (number of representatives plus the two senatemembers). the number of representatives states have is kind of wonky, also, and not truly representative of their populations. but that’s another story; we’re talking about the electoral college right now.

we’ve had five presidents elected who’ve lost the popular vote: in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016. in 1824, no candidate got the minimum number of electoral votes, so the choice went to congress. in 1876, rutherford b. hayes won by ONE electoral vote. in 1888, we have an electoral college situation similar to what we have currently, but with a much, much narrower margin of votes. we all know what happened in 2000 (hanging chads). and now we have a popular vote winner with a margin of nearly 3 million votes losing to the electoral college winner. 

so the current thought is that without the EC, the low-population states wouldn’t get the same attention or representation. guess what – when you think about it, they don’t get a lot of attention as it is. if we’re worried about the general populace not being informed enough to make a logical decision (which the founders were concerned about in the 1700s WHEN THERE WAS NO PERVASIVE INFORMATION DISBURSAL), that is definitely not the case**.

at this point it seems that the EC is so disproportionate that it needs a revisit. when one voter’s say is 1/5 of another voter’s say, that’s worse than the southern states’ 3/5 compromise. our current voting system (and house of representatives) is representing the american people in densely populated states worse than slaves in the 1700s. think about that for a moment. 

that, my friends, is what i would call a degree of disenfranchisement. and what we don’t want to become is a country that stifles its core beliefs of representation. time to get rid of the electoral college† and revisit how the house of representatives is allotted***. 

*http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/11/presidential_election_a_map_showing_the_vote_power_of_all_50_states.html

**unless you count fake news, countless lies and promises not intended to be kept, etc. etc. but lack of information or ability to research a candidate is NOT a problem. ability to discern what is correct and is incorrect, probably is.

***another thing low-population states are worried about: not getting the money and support from the federal government they need. i don’t know; at this point, i’d say it’s pretty up in the air who has it better or worse: urban or rural people. besides, urban people contribute WAY more to the tax base than rural areas do because of the number of people. they should, in theory, get more spending, and can get kind of defensive about it. now, i like a decently paved road as much as the next person, but i also know that i spend some time in the cities as well, using their roads. i don’t spend as much time roaming around grand rapids. anyway, that’s also another story. 

†another option could be to allot votes within each state according to whom it voted for. so minnesota’s 10 votes would be like, 6 for clinton and 4 for trump, instead of all 10 for clinton. it would be more in line with the popular vote, and it would allow the third-party candidates to show up on the map and maybe start an insurgence of third-party candidates, which would be really really nice.

how a bernie supporter decided hillary wasn’t so bad after all*

14067611_1850237595196446_8403693173811072785_n

bernie sanders was the progressive i’d been waiting for. everything he stood for, i stood for. 

but the cartoon above is right. liz and i went to see him early in his campaign on his first stop in rochester. the best part of his entire speech was at the end when he finished with “i can’t do this alone. if you want to change to happen, you will need to stand up and effect that change with me.” he was HONEST about it. none of this “i’m going to do this for you and this for you and this.” it was a “we” all along. 

after DT’s comments on women, i had hit the last straw with my dilly dallying over who to vote for. i finished off my absentee ballot by filling in the circle next to clinton/kaine. i didn’t feel good about it. i didn’t seal the envelope, just in case. i felt kind of dirty. 

*****

this weekend, jane and i went to nerdcon, where we sat in at a live recording of “unattended consequences,” a podcast by author pat rothfuss and cards against humanity creator max temkin. they talked for an hour, and limited their political talk to three points each (otherwise, they said, they would talk about politics the entire hour). 

at this point, i’m still not feeling 100% about my vote for hillary – maybe 75% ok with it. but they talked about hillary, and what they said really made me come around for HC. 

in comparing DT to hillary, pat said that he wants a president who can make a deal. who can compromise and make stuff happen. hillary is that person – moreso that bernie even, i believe. (absolutely moreso than DT) she’s the most qualified person to run for president in a long time (martin van buren was apparently pretty well qualified). 

then, in example, max laid out all hillary had done to secure the nomination, things that i’d considered shady: she paid for services from companies who would print campaign items, even if they never printed a shirt, so that the competition couldn’t. she was the first to get to certain sponsors, clinching them so no one else could. ultimately, that’s good politics and securing a deal before anyone else could get to it. 

considering the above, it’s absolutely FANTASTIC how well bernie did in primaries. i’m really sad he lost, but looking at how hillary secured everything she needed to become the democratic nominee, i’d say that’s a pretty well-prepared person. and would know how to do that sort of thing when she’s president and representing the US. 

after that, i jumped from 75% ok with hillary to about 95%. i will never be at 100% because of bernie. his hopefulness for the future and for the country will always be there, hanging on to that 5%.

or maybe it’s my 5%. thank you, bernie.

*and still maintains that your third-party vote is not a throw away. IT IS NOT A THROW AWAY VOTE. it is yours; you do with it what you will. don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

no. the worst thing you can do for democracy is not vote.

goats

i am getting bombarded on twitter. because i was feeling the bern, i am pretty disenchanted with hillary. bernie was everything i was looking for in a candidate: open, candid, fired up and pretty consistent on the issues i care about. hillary is a little cagey, a little waffle-ish, and part of a weird, orchestrated DFL primary campaign. i would have proudly voted for bernie. now i’m weary AND wary and not sure what i should do.

i have my absentee ballot on my kitchen table, all the ovals filled in next to state campaigns’ DFL candidates, judges chosen, amendment oval decided, ready to go into the three levels of envelope security, except for that crucial top decision: vote for one presidential candidate. 

i really don’t know what i’m going to do. i know i’m not voting for trump. morally, conscientiously, and as a person who cares about the planet and other people, voting for trump is not even an option. but everyone is throwing tweets, articles, opinion pieces into my feed with the old rhetoric: “a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for trump.” 

no. 

you can argue all you want about nader in 2000, how gary johnson is incompetent, what jill stein’s views on vaccinations are, the fact that bernie’s out there stumping for hillary.

when it comes down to it, if i wanted to vote for trump, i would fill in that oval next to his name, and the idea of doing that makes me want to vomit. 

today was the final straw on twitter when i read an article named:

Dear Millennials: Voting for a third party candidate in this election is the worst thing you can do for American democracy

now i’m no millennial. i’m an optimistic, cynical, disillusioned, tail-end genXer. i have done a lot of research on law, i know the members of SCOTUS, and i feel like i know more about the political climate than your average person. and you know what’s democratically worse than voting for a third party?

being so bullied and vote-shamed that you don’t vote at all.

my vote is my vote, and i am an american who has a right to vote for whom she wants. whether that’s donald trump, hillary clinton, write-in bernie sanders, or vote for the marijuana now party, i can do that. the stranglehold the two-party system has on our country is really holding us back from some people who might actually make a difference in leading this country.

i remember the 2000 election; i was at st. ben’s, and there were arguments in classes about how if enough people voted for nader and he got 5% of the popular vote, it would open up federal funding for the green party in 2004 and give the american people a more diverse field of leaders to choose from. the argument was that it was a forward-looking vote. unfortunately, the george bush fiasco has overwhelmed that initial reasoning, and al gore’s loss was blamed on nader supporters. at the same time, nader only got 2% of the popular vote. 

i am not one of those people who stays home on major elections; i will always vote. but there are people out there who might plan on voting, then get so overwhelmed by the vitriol out there that they stay home. i know people who aren’t voting because neither of the major party presidential candidates are appealing, and therefore none of the state campaigns get a vote either.

instead of discouraging people from voting for someone or using scare tactics, we should be encouraging everyone to get out and vote for WHATEVER CANDIDATE THEY WANT. that’s what democracy is. that’s how it works. i’m sorry if you don’t like it. 

and here’s the kicker: at the end of the day, i’ll probably end up voting for hillary clinton. the idea of trump as president is scary and gets me to the “literally can’t even” white girl disgusting level. even though i’m in a relatively blue state when it comes to presidential elections, and the state would probably go blue even if i voted for someone else, i will, most likely, vote for hillary. 

but that’s my decision, and being bullied into it is not the way to get people, especially millennials who are voting for the first or second time, to take part in the democratic process. 

politiblog yeesh

i registered to vote. 

and tomorrow’s the first presidential debate. i am at two extremes on this: one the one hand, i am a little excited to see how this is going to turn out. bring out the popcorn; on the other, i am ready to facepalm my way through this whole. omg.

oh, and i’m going to vote absentee! because (hopefully) i’ll be in california at harry potter world!!!

weary

i have to say, i have never gotten this far into a presidential election cycle and not known what i’m going to do when i get to the polls. usually i’m like – yea! john kerry because bush sucks! yeah obama! he’s awesome! yeah obama because i guess so, even though he’s been ordering all those drone strikes and is actually kind of not doing a ton for the environment and…but i guess he’s better than mitt romney?

but this year. omg. bernie’s pretty much out unless the fbi DOES indict hillary (unlikely). which makes me supremely sad because he and i were like best buds, yo. trump? what a joke. joke. joke. joke. like, roll my eyes and sigh versus get angry and throw things like i did with W*. i still feel like he’s gonna pull a “gotcha!” and do something weird. 

i can’t decide if hillary is who i should vote for. on the one hand, she’s better than trump, and she’s got a crap-ton of experience. she’s probably the most qualified to be president. but everything she’s done just seems so two-handed. one plus out of her presidency: she would appoint liberal-ish judges to the supreme court. versus god knows what the donald would appoint.

so is this the year i vote green party (jill stein)? do i vote libertarian (gary johnson)? (personally, i would go green because with a stinking earth, what good are all these other freedoms we have?)

*remember his blasé “now watch this drive” line? omg. *eyeroll*

 

first-time caucus

i am a big proponent of voting: do your civic duty. however, i’d never participated in a caucus until tonight. i wouldn’t even call what i did tonight participating because circumstances led to me leaving directly after turning in my ballot. but i cast my ballot tonight in my first caucus ever, because for the first time in my voting life, i actually feel like there’s a candidate who’s worth the effort.

CcgORTbUAAAxKgnanyone who knows me knows i’m a bleeding heart, tree-hugging hippie, so it’s no surprise that i’m supporting bernie sanders. he’s got the right views for me as far as social causes, environmental causes, big bank causes, corporation causes, and even seems a little on the fence as far as gun control, which is pretty much how i feel. on top of that, his campaign was funded entirely by people’s individual donations, not money from superpacs or big corporations or lobbyist groups. from you and me ($35 here). 

i would love a woman president. i really would. but i put what a candidate stands for before i ask what gender she is. if hillary were as pro-environment, anti-corporation as bernie is, there is no doubt i would vote for her. if she weren’t kind of shady and elusive, i would vote for her. if she told the people that she couldn’t do this alone – that the populace will need to get involved in order to make real changes in politics, i would vote for her. but as fate would have it, bernie is all these things, not hillary. i’m voting on the issues, not the gender.

“If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.”

this is from paul wellstone, late, great minnesota senator who was champion of the people. i think if paul were alive today, he would endorse bernie. 

enough political talk for a while. it’s getting to be gardenblog time soon, and i know people are tired of me bringing up politics. gardening is pretty non-combative. 

come on, al. get it together.

today i got an email from al franken’s office saying he supports hillary and to get out the caucus for hillary. this made me a little bit sad, especially for a guy who holds paul wellstone up as a beacon of emulation. 

i sent his office a nice email saying thank you for the reminder on the caucus, and i will be going to my first caucus ever next week in support of bernie sanders. i also said he was probably well aware of the reasons that bernie is the better choice for president, and that if hills is the candidate, i’m voting green. my guess is that the dem senators are supporting hillary because of money reasons. which is really unfortunate. i’m all for a female president, but i think we need to look for the best person for the job – the one who’s going to look out for the american people (not corporations).

Politics isn’t about big money or power games; it’s about the improvement of people’s lives.” – mr. wellstone himself

 

anyway, all this to say, go bernie. i am eager to go to the caucus and report on how that went.