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a not-so-short summary of what happened in iran

a not-so-short summary of what happened in iran

today on “kate researches a topic and distills it into mass amounts of genX cynicism with slight millennial optimism”: what the heck happened with iran?

i feel like for 3 days the US who followed the news was on tenterhooks with iran and then whoosh, it just sort of fizzled out. so what the heck happened?

first, iran and US relations are not the greatest. in may 2018, DT pulled out of an international agreement for the iran nuclear deal (it was between the US, UK, france, china, russia, and germany and limited what iran could do with its nuclear program). the reason the program was going to be put in place was because the restrictions were really punishing ordinary people in iran (you know, the pleebs like you and me) and raising the cost of living immensely. after the US pulled out, more of the strict rules were put back in place and oil exports were affected.

but, a brief history of iranian rule will help. since 1979, when the islamic revolution took place, the country has been under theocratic rule – an islamic republic that governs according to the laws of islam. the supreme leader has control over everything pretty much, so no checks and balances. there is a president, too, who is elected, but he is the 2nd most important person. the supreme leader is leader for life, so the current SL has been in power for 30 years. 30 years!!! the current president, however, has only been in power since 2013, but he’s been working on a better economy and better worldwide relations. you might remember him beating mr. ahmadinejad (I’m a dinner jacket – remember that?) in 2013. i believe this was a part of the arab spring (don’t quote me on that).

so the new prez worked on the iranian nuclear deal in 2015, working with the above countries to create a better relationship with them (they thought iran was working on a nuclear weapon and were scared [really, they should be more scared of the US’s nuclear arsenal. good grief]). part of the previous sanctions imposed were specifically designed to damage its economy – stop selling oil and natural gas to certain countries – and this really damaged the economy, as the cost of food and fuel became super expensive for the pleebs. in 2015, the new prez agreed to the iranian deal that would lift the sanctions in exchange for iran cutting back on nuclear activities (can we all agree that perhaps some nuclear activities include NOT bombs? like nuclear energy? for what it’s worth, iran had said that its nuclear activities were peaceful. although who knows what they are doing.) it was hoped that iran’s economy would get better and the country, pleebs especially, would get back on its feet.

this deal is what the US (DT) pulled out of in 2018.

then, in 2019, four US oil tankers were damaged off the cost of the UAE, and we (well, probably DT) blamed iran but didn’t provide evidence. iran denied it. after that, a US surveillance drone was shot down by iran, who said it was in their airspace (that’s reasonable if its in their airspace). (at this point, DT tweeted BIG MISTAKE and said he was 10 mins away from an airstrike before pulling back. meanwhile, the US had been designing rules and restrictions to stop other nationals from buying iranian oil.

so there’s some background; if you want to know more about what happened in 1979, i’d suggest watching the movie “argo.”

now, some background on this suleimani dude. i’m gonna call him S because i don’t want to type his name every time.

S joined the iranian revolution guards in 1979 after the revolution and rose in the ranks pretty quickly.

  1. he fought against the opium trade from afghanistan to turkey/europe
  2. in 1999, he told the iran president to crush a student revolt otherwise the military would launch a coup
  3. he was set to start collaborating to destry the taliban, but hended after GW said iran was a part of an axis of evil
  4. he strengthened a relationship with hezbollah and sent operatives to they could retake southern lebanon
  5. he is described as the single most powerful operative in the middle easy and combats western influence to promote the expansion of siite and iran’s influence in the middle east.
  6. he coordinated attacks and other stuff during the syrian civil war – he was a strong supporter of bashar al-assad and thousands of the iranian military force were spread out across syria. al-assad said that S deserved most of the credit in repeling the rebels and recapturing cities and towns.
  7. conspired with russia for al-assad’s syria and tried to get russian military on board to reshape the war.
  8. worked to get rid of ISIL in iraq. (ISIL is probably the more accurate term for ISIS.) [i feel like this…might be good?]

some other items of note:

  1. he was on a list of iranians who were targeted with sanctions by the UN. he, along with bashar al-assad was sanctioned for providing material support to the syrian government.
  2. the US put him on a list that forbade US citizens form doing business with him.
  3. he was a popular national figure in iran – more for the conservative side of things i’d imagine. he was considered more popular than the president (but not as popular as the supreme leader)

not the best guy.

so, S was killed on jan. 3 by a US drone strike near the baghdad airport, ordered by DT. the reasons:

  1. he had been involved in the killing of americans
  2. there was an attack on the american embassy in baghdad
  3. there was an attack on a k-1 air base
  4. an iraqi-american contractor was killed by a rocket attack

at first, DT had wanted to strike the shia militia, but chose the most extreme (proposed) option instead. a little contradiction at this point, given that the above list was used as “justification” while DT said he was preventing imminent attacks on americans. DT told fox news that four embassies had been targeted for future attacks while secretary of state pompeo said there were no known attacks forthcoming, so WHO TO BELIEVE, WHO TO BELIEVE.

[also, this whole thing where DT was telling people at maralago about the strikes before they happened and NOT telling congress? and then telling the details at a private fundraiser?? how is that not a violation of state secrets? i’m sorry; that’s ineptitude at its greatest. what an iDioT.)

congress did NOT authorize the attack, and since the attack was done in iraqi airspace, there was also some controversy over not getting consent from iraq. hmmm.

so, what was the reaction?

  1. the US said this violated international human rights law
  2. some compared it to the killing of archduke franz ferdinand (kind of full circle there, wouldn’t you say?)
  3. WWIII started trending on twitter
  4. the risk of iran retaliating with war…well that was definitely a real possibility
    1. iran launched ballistic missiles at two us bases in iraq (with no casualties, but some servicemembers were concussed)
    2. the US embassy told americans it would be best to leave iraq ASAP
    3. DT said that any retaliation would result in US targeting 52 iranian sites, including cultural sites, WHICH is pretty much a war crime as defined at the geneva convention
    4. US civil aviation operators are prohibted from flying over airspace in iraq, iran, and the persian gul and gulf of oman
    5. iraq wanted US troops to get out, but the DT administration refused
  5. DT imposed new sanctions, targeting the metals industry, construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining sectors. 17 sanctions against the largest copper, steel, and iron manufacturers were also put in place.
  6. …and then

and then, it seemed to fizzle out after the ukraine flight crash. this was an international passenger flight from tehran to kiev. not long after it took off from tehran, it was shot down and 176 people on board were killed.

an iranian military operation shot it down, and it was attributed to human error. after some hemming and hawing by iran, they finally admitted they shot it down after mistaking it for a US cruise missile.

after that, mass protests broke out in iran, calling for the supreme leader to be removed because of the deception about the shooting down of the airline. they called soleimani a murderer, and chanted death to the dictator. riot police are trying to rein them in, even as the protesters chant “they are lying that our enemy is america; our enemy is right here.” at funerals of iranians who were on the flight, people shout anti-government slogans. (this was just days after protesters were out rallying behind their islamic leaders after S’s death – such a flip! i am speculating that there were probably different types of people in each type of protest.)

ukraine, canada, and the UK, all countries that had citizens on the flight, are demanding transparency and justice for families. justin trudeau partly blamed the US for the shootdown of the plane.

so what’s happening now? iraq is doing its best to get US troops out of there because of its parliament’s relationship with iran and what happened with S. operations against ISIS would come to a standstill, and if the US withdraws, there would be more room to resurge. iran would expand more power into iraq. so the strike on S turned out to mean iraq supporting iran and kicking out the US. currently, the government is an islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. if iran spreads out, it could easily turn into a theocracy.


you made it this far. this was a lot of info, and good job on reading it all.

i’m tired of leaders pulling us into wars and altercations and not seeing the humanity in all humans, whether brown, cream, dark cappuccino, or freckled pale ivory. i read a tweet shortly after the killing of S and it said something to the effect that the average citizen in the US has more in common with the average citizen in iran than either one of them have in common with their leaders.

the average pleeb in iran does the same things you and i do: we go to work, we have a home, we cook our meals, we drive or walk or take the train to the store, we have pets, we have families, we care about the people we see, we get hungry and thirsty, we celebrate, we have hangnails, we clean out the catbox, we worry about the weather, we cheer on sports teams, we brush our hair in the morning, and we struggle to sleep at night sometimes. i by far have more in common with average iranian or iraqi or argentinian or canadian or yugoslavian or norwegian or sudanese or aussie person than i do with donald trump or his crony cabinet members.

i think that’s important to keep in mind. we’re more alike than we are different. and i don’t know about you, but wars and battles and plans to kill people aren’t what i call an everyday thought on my part. when it comes down to it, i think people would rather lead a satisfactory life and be with friends and family than wage war with someone on the other side of the planet. i don’t know why that’s so difficult for leaders to grasp.




2020 not impressed so far!

2020 not impressed so far!

happy…?…. new year!

so far 2020 has not impressed.

  1. australia’s burning. excellent.
  2. a top iranian military leader was killed in a US airstrike. i haven’t done a ton of research, so i don’t know if it was intentional or accidental that this specific dude died, but DT may have inadvertently started WWIII. excellent.
  3. as a result, twitter’s atwit about the FAFSA and its selective service question and the military’s recruiting efforts (poor are usually targeted to become national guard members, etc to help pay for college).  excellent.
  4. north korea has announced it’s no longer under a nuclear weapons testing moratorium. excellent.
  5. i have had a cold for the extent of 2020. excellent.

some good things!

  1. oregon banned single-use plastic bags starting with the new year. excellent!
  2. i bought my HARRY POTTER WORLD tix for march last night. excellent!
  3. caribou brought back the cabin bar (butterscotchish) flavor. excellent!

i wanted to start off my blogging with some good news about how i went to the food co-op and brought my reusables to reduce the plastic in the world, but instead i bring you this list and the knowledge that i went to costco last night and bought a bunch of stuff in plastic. *smh*

if the tweets don’t fit you must acquit

if the tweets don’t fit you must acquit

oh lord, what have i gotten myself into. at least i can safely say that all my regular readers/followers can agree that DT is an idiot. (at least i hope my father thinks he’s an idiot.)

but, since impeachment is being investigated and the white house is vehemently pushing against it even though every day DT seems to start a new dumpster fire to extinguish the one he started yesterday (which happens to be still going; the world is just one big trumpster fire at this point).

so i thought i’d compare what DT been doing in comparison to other presidents who’ve been impeached, convicted, and/or resigned due to impending impeachment processes.

and really, i don’t know how much i want to dig in to what he’s been doing. i will do some digging, but i feel like it’s a LOT and

so i think i’ll take a look at presidents who have faced impeachment and see what he’s done relative to them. this may be 10 pages long*.

*(oh you know i like research papers.**)

**really i do. i’m not lying.

ok, but first, what is the process for impeachment? a president can be impeached but still remain in office, as was the case with bill clinton. in order for a president to be removed from office, s/he needs to be impeached by the house of representatives and then convicted by the senate after a trial.

  1. impeachment by the house after  investigation
  2. trial and conviction by senate – and 2/3 of the senate members must uphold the conviction.
  3. the SCOTUS chief justice presides over the trial. so the other two executive branches are present when an attempt at a removal of a president happens.

as it happens, it’s actually called out in the constitution that the president has no power to pardon him/herself in the case of impeachment. (good news. and unfortunate that it needs to be spelled out.)

not only that, but it’s called out in article II, section 4, that:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

other high crimes, in this case, is kind of vague. the meaning of them is not defined in the constitution, which is probably why nancy pelosi has been hesitant to pull the impeachment gun until now.

at this point, congress generally has defined three categories for grounds for impeachment:

  1. improperly exceeding/abusing the powers of office
  2. behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office
  3. misusing the office for improper purpose or personal gain


(excessive period intentional.)

now here’s an interesting quote by gerald ford: “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the house of representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”

so there’s that, which is great.

ok, so there have been 17 impeachments voted on by the house. here are the presidents:

  1. james buchanan for corruption. he was NOT impeached but it was voted on.
  2. andrew johnson for violating the tenure of office act (a 20-year law that restricted the POTUS from removing senate-approved officeholders without approval from the senate). he was impeached and the senate was one vote short of conviction. the SCOTUS then repealed the law saying it was unconstitutional.
  3. richard nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, contempt of congress. the house was amidst impeachment proceedings when nixon resigned. we’ll go into more what he did later on.
  4. bill clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice. the republican house voted to impeach but clinton was acquitted in the democratic controlled senate and remained in office.

other presidents who had unsuccessful impeachment attempts include john tyler, george W. bush, and barack obama.

ok, so i want to go over what nixon did and what clinton did because they are the most aligned with what DT possibly has done.

first, clinton because it seems a little easier.

clinton lied under oath and obstructed justice. paula jones filed a sexual harrassment lawsuit against clinton from when he was governor of arkansas, and after ken starr put his report together for the house judiciary committee, impeachment proceedings began. the jones attorneys wanted to prove a pattern of behavior of clinton with women, and linda tripp secretly started recording convos with monica lewinsky. after it was shared, lewinsky was put on the witness list, and clinton started to try to bribe her to cover up their relationship.

clinton gave a sworn deposition where he denied having a sexual relationship with lewinsky and that he was ever alone with her. he also publicly stated the now infamous “i did not have sexual relations with that woman.***”

ultimately, the judge threw out the jones case because they failed to show damages, and clinton settled after jones appealed.

BUT that was not the end of this.

ken starr was gathering info on the whitewater issue (another day) when he found out from linda tripp that lewinsky was planning on lying to the courts about her relationship. starr looked a little more into this and found emails between clinton and lewinksy that showed they did have a relationship. clinton tried to assert that his “there’s nothing going on between us” statement meant nothing going on right at the moment of his deposition. the house of representatives took the starr report as its investigation, and after newt gingrich passed his speaker seat on and during a repub lame duck session, the house impeached clinton on perjury with a 228-206 vote and obstruction of justice with a 221-212 vote.

***i was a first year at st. ben’s while this was going down. in college, you don’t watch the news, and you’re so concealed from EVERYTHING outside of the college experience. i went home in january one weekend and was like, “who’s monica lewinsky?”

how clinton’s impeachment relates to DT

so, JUST TODAY (10-1), we find out that DT may have lied to the mueller investigation about his knowledge of the contact his campaign had with wikileaks during the 2016 campaign. (this seems a lot more serious than lying about a BJ in the oval office. just sayin.)

apparently (saying this because this is all just suggestion at this point), the house of rep. legal team cited a passage about paul manafort (DT’s campaign manager) testimony that he recalled DT kept asking to be kept updated about wikileaks’ email dump.

there is some redacted text surrounding this that may be key. if the president did know about wikileaks and then lied on the written response to the special counsel, that could be likened to perjury and/or obstruction of justice.

but what did DT ultimately give to mueller? DT’s lawyers did everything they could to keep him from having to give a face-to-face testimony. in the end, his legal team said he submitted answers to mueller’s written questions. is this akin to a deposition? probably not, but who knows what the redacted text in the mueller report shows!

now, this is not to say that DT doesn’t lie. the dude lies ALL.THE.TIME. it’s just that he hasn’t lied under oath. probably.

onward and upward.

what did richard nixon do, anyway? what the heck was watergate?

five burglars broke into the democratic national committee headquarters at the watergate office complex (hence watergate) in 1972. the fbi did their thing and found a connection between cash found on the burglars and a slush fund for the nixon election campaign (this is why you launder money, folks. or use paypal).

former staffmembers came forward to testify in an investigation, and it was found that nixon had recording systems in his offices and had recorded many convos. SCOTUS finally rulled that nixon needed to release the tapes, and on those tapes, well. it was found that he attempted to cover up activities that happened after the breakin and used federal officials to try to deflect the investigation.

some more details: during the burglary, they photographed DNC campaign docs and installed wiretaps on the phones. then they “burglared” again to fix a faulty wiretap. it was during this attempt that a security guard noticed some weird stuff going on and called the police, who then arrested 5 guys. at this point, nixon and the white house started to cover up the crime and the president’s connection. the burglars were tried and either pled guilty and /or convicted.

now comes the fun part.

the fbi found a couple names in two of the burglars’ address books who were white house peeps whose job it was to stop security leaks and investigate super secret activity. but i guess what really got the ball rolling was the money trail. $25K was found to be deposited in one of the burglars’ bank accounts. the check was made out to the president’s reelection fund – it was a campaign donation. a bunch of people making private donations for reelection were actually donating to the wiretapping. they found that all five burglars were directly or indirectly tied to the reelection campaign, which prompted a judge to suspect conspiracy with higher-ups (ya think).

what’s interesting is this news came out a month before the presidential election, and nixon won in a landslide. i’m going to try avoid covering the media involvement in this because this is about nixon. but you should all watch “all the president’s men” if you want to know more about that.

one of the burglars wrote a letter to the judge saying that the defendants had been pressured to remain silent. then there is a whole bunch of white house turmoil, with nixon asking for a bunch of resignations (that sounds familiar). a bunch of former aides were indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to hinder the watergate investigation. and, here’s something noteable: nixion was named an unindicted co-conspirator because a president can only be indicted after he leaves office.

at this point, the white house release the tapes that were recorded in nixon’s offices, and at first it had a positive reaction for releasing them, but after listening, more and more people called for impeachment.

“He is humorless to the point of being inhumane. He is devious. He is vacillating. He is profane. He is willing to be led. He displays dismaying gaps in knowledge. He is suspicious of his staff. His loyalty is minimal.” – chicago tribune. several newspaper op-eds said things to the same effect, and it was agreed that there may not have been an indictable offense, but nixon was contemptuous of the US, its institutions, and its people. the difference between today and then is that the republican party members believed he should step down.

but, here’s the gist of what was on the tapes:

  1. the watergate case  and the subsequent coverup details
  2. it was called out that the money paid and the aides involved was an obstruction of justice
  3. there was blackmailing going on and nixon wanted to pay the money, saying he wanted to “keep the cap on the bottle that much”
  4. nixon said the burglars had to be paid. “that’s all there is to that. they have to be paid.”

and, parts of the tape had been erased on purpose (not just redacted).

it was looking gloomy and doomy for nixon, and the house decided to recommend an obstruction of justice impeachment and then abuse of power, then contempt of congress.

THEN. here’s the nail in the coffin.

on august 5, a tape recorded a few days after the break-in was released. a couple aides brought up the breakin and explained a cover-up plan. nixon approved the plan, and after more info on how the reelection campaign was invovled in the break-in and how the CIA was going to obstruct the FBI (i mean, really, what), he said  “You call them in. Good. Good deal. Play it tough. That’s the way they play it and that’s the way we are going to play it.”

BEFORE this tape, nixon denied any involvement in watergate. but this was what did it.

the ten loyalists who voted again the articles of impeachment announced they would now support it when it came up to vote. there were enough votes in the senate to convict – only 15 were willing to acquit (50 peeps in the senate).

nixon resigned on aug. 8. he claimed innocence until he died in 1994.

peace out dude.

how this relates to DT

so there is a LOT of stuff with the mueller report that i’m not going to go into, but the most recent is the ukraine debacle. a whistleblower complaint was filed in july by a member of the intelligence committee. the director of national intelligence refused to send it to congress, as directed by LAW (come on), saying the white house had told him not to. the whistleblower complaint was regarding a phone call to ukraine.

rudy giuliani and DT had been trying to get ukraine to launch an investigation into joe biden and his son hunter. in late july, the topic came up on a phone call with the president of ukraine. at that point, DT blocked distribution of military aid to ukraine. DT asked the ukrainian president for a “favor” – to investigate biden.

so then the white house released the transcripts from the phone call.

” The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

i don’t know. that sounds like, oh, any one of these impeachable offenses:

  1. improperly exceeding/abusing the powers of office
  2. behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office
  3. misusing the office for improper purpose or personal gain* (dingdingding this one is most likely)

and that’s what finally broke nancy pelosi’s anti-impeach stance. one thing i’d like to know is if a whistleblower complaint against a president automatically instigates an impeachment investigation.

SO. that’s what we’ve got. at this point, it’s not a matter of if DT is guilty (cuz if you think he’s innocent, you’re drinking the MAGA koolaid); it’s a matter of if republicans in the senate can see past their own party loyalty and to their loyalty to their country, the constitution, and the american people.


review tuesday: these elections -_-

review tuesday: these elections -_-

when i wrote up my schedule for kablpomo, i forgot that election day was in there. so instead of a review for the three books i’ve recently read or the movie “get out”, you get a review of my election day 🙂

when i left home this morning to go vote, it was flurrying – yay the first flurries of the season. that was not an enthusiastic yay, in case you missed it. i’m not particularly happy about losing daylight saving time either!

weather aside, i drove the avon township hall, which is about 3 miles from my house out in the boonies. i like driving out to the boonies to vote alongside my fellow ruralites (even though we may hold different political views). the town hall is a bright red building among the avon hills, and there is a BIGFOOT silhouette just hanging out in the parking lot.

the line was pretty much non-existent at 7:45! i walked in with a couple and went through the checkin process. they had ipads this year to look up names, which i had known since i’d voted in the primaries. then it took me maybe 5 minutes to fill out my ballot and TADA i got the sticker!

consider my civic right fulfilled.

i’d like to point out that i did try to get nate to vote but after the third time i asked him, he got really annoyed, so i stopped.

so, fellow citizens of this country who choose not to vote, why do you not vote? after all that susan b. anthony and our forefathers went through to secure a democracy/republic that allows all to vote, what about it makes you not want to partake? registering and requesting a mail-in ballot isn’t difficult; you can do it all online these days. you don’t even need to find a stamp since the return envelope is pre-paid. what could be easier? do you want the ballot to show up in your mailbox unannounced so you can just fill it out? (would compulsory voting work?) do you not want to do the research on your candidates? i mean, there are easy questionnaires you can fill out online that will tell you who to vote for after asking 10 questions. what is it?

deviating from the script

deviating from the script

today is supposed to be throwback thursday, but due to some recent news, you get a politiblog.
first, i am furious at al franken. second, i am furious that suddenly NOW, finally, people are listening to victims (like, why did it take this long). and third i am furious at myself because i’m struggling with al’s work in the senate being a priority to his actions prior. 

furious at al

in case you haven’t heard, today al franken (mn senator and political superstar for various reasons, which will be touched on below) was accused of sexual misconduct by leeann tweeden. she and al were on a USO tour in 2006 and were rehearsing when he suggested they rehearse a kiss. she said ok despite reservations, and it made her uncomfortable. there is also a photo where he is grabbing at her chest (but not touching) and smiling at the camera. 
i expect some dumb stuff from my jr. senator because of his SNL days. i think it’s to expected that when you have a background that includes a raunchy comedy show in the 80s, there’s going to be some weird stuff and drugs you did. 
but to abuse the consent of a woman to this extent is pretty awful. (YES, i feel like trying to pick up 15-yr-olds in a mall is more awful, but that’s another politiblog). so, i am furious that he did this. 

furious at … now

why has it taken so long in the history of people for men to finally be held accountable for their actions like we have seen in the past couple months? victims of assault and harassment are finally being believed and the perpetrators shunned. there’ve been MILLENNIA of this kind of abuse, and it’s just now that we’re seeing some resemblance of accountability. 
while this is happening on a very visible, celebrity stage, it makes me wonder what will happen at a local, personal level. will victims of domestic abuse see what can happen if they speak up and demand repercussions? will women stop staying with men who call them names and emotionally degrade them? will MEN stop the violence? (ultimately, it’s up to the abusers to stop abuse.)
i’m lucky in that i haven’t been in any sort of abusive relationship, but i’d like to think that if abuse would happen, i would be the sort of person to step away from that, no excuses or second chances. any sort of touching or groping that’s happened to me has been a) invited or b) consent by previous grope. so in my early 20s, this happened quite a bit, both from males and females, because it turned into a running joke. i didn’t see myself as assaulted; it was a joke i was in on AND perpetuated. others from the outside may view this as harassment, but i do not. if i were in my 20s now? i probably would not let this happen. (i know i wouldn’t let it happen as a 38-r-old!)

furious at myself

what i’ve been grappling with are my feelings surrounding all this. i voted for al. i’ve been a huge cheerleader of his in the senate. he champions net neutrality. i’ve watched him grilling people and getting answers. i’ve been proud to call him my senator. (seriously – the only thing i’ve disagreed with him on is his superdelegate vote for hillary, not bernie.)
and when i saw the news today, my gut just dropped. then clenched. i was disgusted by it and irritated and mad. and then i sit here and weigh what he did in 2006 against all the work he’s done in the senate. i feel like he’s a true asset to the senate from what i’ve read, sharp-witted, and dedicated to paul wellstone’s legacy. and i cannot discount that i feel like the work he’s done is bigger than the assault he committed, which is a HORRIBLE thing to think.
my mind keeps skipping back and forth: as a woman i know it’s important to believe victims and hold offenders accountable; as a minnesotan who voted for him, i think he’s done a fantastic job in the senate. are there other minnesotans out there who would do just as great a job? absolutely. but i still cannot discount the work he’s done. 
so i’m mad at myself for not immediately calling for his resignation. i’m very glad he fully supports the ethics committee hearing. i will be very interested to see what that will find. 
and as the next few days progress, i think my anger will diffuse, and the only thing left will be disappointment in al, all for the sake of a few yuks and his wanting to kiss a model*.
*so after i finished my post, i looked up to see what leeann tweeden is known for. she’s currently a radio anchor/personality, but in the past she’s modeled for the covers of playboy, maxim, and FHM. while this does not discount her allegations or excuse al’s behavior, my perspective of her has changed 180º because of her involvement in the “women as objects” industry. 

take it back

take it back

have you heard about randy bryce? (aka @ironstache) he’s a wisconsin ironworker taking on paul ryan in the 2018 midterms, and i think he’s onto something. 

his background and platforms hearken back to old-school democrat – think actual democratic-farmer-labor party. he’s a veteran, iron worker, and a unionmember, not a millionaire or someone with grand business interests. his kid goes to public school. his brother is a police officer and his sister a teacher. if there were any way to unify the democratic party and get back to its roots and really capture the base they’ve lost – the salt of the earth – i feel this is the perfect opportunity. 
another thing i think the party could do to ruffle feathers: take back the flag. the US flag has been co-opted by the republican party. if you wear a flag, wave a flag in your yard, or have a flag sticker on your vehicle, i automatically think “republican.” now, i am the first person to say that a flag does not define a country. (it’s the people who define a country.) one of the more profound things i’ve read was on fark (remember fark?): “if america’s so great, we shouldn’t even need a flag.” but if the democratic party started waving the flag at all the protests and other events, in their yards, on their bumpers, maybe, just maybe, those wavering people on the fence might say, hm, i guess democrats are patriotic after all. 
so, there’s my plan for an america that doesn’t include a nuclear-weapons-wielding egomaniac at its helm: go back to our roots and take back the flag.

it goes both ways

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:


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 fighting words, 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:


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. 


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

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?
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. 

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:
**support the badlands’ twitter: 



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

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 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***. 
**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.

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