The Journey to find Balance

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

After consulting with each other throughout the week, Don and I have decided to take this weekend off from recording the show, so this will be a week without a traditional Salt of the Streets Podcast. Over the last couple months we have been a little sporadic when it comes to our release of content, but have no fear, this is not a sign the podcast is falling off or anything like that. Simply put, Don and I have both had some pretty major changes to our lives and we are trying to figure out how best to balance the heavy workload of the podcast with work and family life.

We’ve talked about it on multiple occasions so it shouldn’t be news to anyone at this point that Don has become a Father for the first time recently. That of course comes with a multiplicity of new responsibilities, in both his life as an individual and the life of his family at large. It is news to absolutely no one that parenthood forces drastic changes onto a person, and while he in no way seeks sympathy for these things that effect the majority of people around the world, they do necessitate a change never the less. It amazes me to no end that as far as those major changes to his life are concerned, Don’s supportive friendship has been my steadfast rock while I’ve been adjusting to major changes in my life as well. Whether it’s hammering out blog posts, social media posts, planning and coordinating some of our biggest topics, listening and taking diligent notes on multiple days of eight plus hour long Congressional testimony and of course the recording of a 30 minute livestream sports special by himself, Don’s commitment to truth, his co-host, his friends and his family hasn’t wavered.

Don isn’t the only person in our little Salt of the Streets family whose life has gone through some drastic changes. While I wouldn’t even attempt to scale the difference between the changes in Don’s life and my own, since it would be like comparing apples to oranges, I have recently gone through a rather abrupt career change that has caused me to drastically change my entire lifestyle, which in turn effects how I make the podcast work on my end.

To begin with, the idea of a total and abrupt career change at the age of 30 is something that many people in our generation undertake, however, it’s a concept more or less foreign to a lot of our progenitors. An ad-read that I’ve heard recently on a podcast comes to mind, “The days of working the same job for the same company for 40 years and retiring with a pension and the proverbial gold watch are long gone…” and it’s situations like the one I’m in now that make that ad-read really hit home. I believe it was an ad for or, websites devoted to teaching new skill-sets in order to make people more marketable or more proficient at whatever it is their looking to do/are already doing in hopes of gaining the skill based knowledge required to advance or solidify your marketability in a chosen line of work. Whatever the reason, people in our generation seem to pop around from job to job, company to company more than any other generation before us, and I, it appears was no different. In truth, I subscribed to one of those websites above, paid a little money, got some training and some knowledge in a field I had no previous experience in and it has now paid for itself multiple times over. I only bring this up because I wanted to show that my current situation is something that I’ve worked hard to achieve, and now that I have achieved what I sought, I’ve been forced to adapt my lifestyle to meet the requirements demanded by the path I have chosen. I don’t know if I’ll do it forever but I do know that if the podcast ever caught fire and I was forced to make a choice between my current career and doing the podcast full-time, I’d happily leave my job to see just how far Salt of the Streets could take us.

With any major change in life, whether it’s a new child entering into the world, embarking on a new career path or any number of things, finding a way to continue doing what really makes you happy and fulfilled can be challenging, especially while trying to keep up with the added duties and responsibilities that these things can bring to the table. But it is imperative that a way be found and a be balance struck. It is in fact wholly unhealthy to consciously or unconsciously deprive yourself of joy. I know very well how easy it is to let your new found burden of responsibility weight you down. Even to the point that the seemly simple thought of trying to find the time to do anything fun or relaxing seems impossibly out of reach, but their is always a way. It takes a focused and intended effort, but the payoff is not only worth it in the end, it’s often more fulfilling then it used to be before your added responsibilities had taken hold. I’ll be the first to admit, that for my part, I continue to struggle to find that balance, though I make a conscious effort each and every day. Whether that takes the form of a mandatory 30 minutes of reading, recreational podcast listening, video game playing, fiction writing or even sitting down for an episode of Rick & Morty, I now make the time. Regardless of how many extra hours I have to put in at the office, no matter how much video editing I have waiting for me at home, I take that 30 minutes everyday to try and relax my mind and body.

Don and I are constantly trying to figure how to best balance out our lives and our podcast and at this point it means taking the occasional weekend off from recording. We take those days to spend time with our families, our friends and sometimes just some quality “me” time, all in the hopes that when we return the following weekend we’ll both be fully recharged and able to bring the best quality content we can muster. As we both go forth into the future, Salt of the Streets will always be part of our lives and we’ll always continue our endless efforts to bridge that gap between people and information. On these weeks without a podcast, remember that our efforts to speak truthfully and informatively continue on social media so be sure to follow us.
I am @Bigbirdoffie on both twitter and instagram
Don is @saltofthestreet on twitter and @alpaca_donavan on instagram
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See you all very soon.

The “Situation”: A Two Pronged Problem Facing American Politics

Written By: Colin Offenbacker

It’s Thursday and after the “slow” news week that we’ve all had, after the historically devastating experience of watching the great Notre Dame Cathedral burn, after the public release of the long awaited Mueller report, I wanted to write about something jubilant. I wanted to right something uplifting. Unfortunately, I fear that I cannot provide that this evening. Tonight I am more focused on a particularly long term situation. I use the word “situation” deliberately, and this is because I still haven’t quite figured out if it’s necessarily a good or bad situation, right now I’m only comfortable calling it a situation, simple, neutral.

Buried beneath the surface of this week’s headlines runs a long-term subplot in our nations politics. Some say that it’s beginning starts as far back as the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the era of the “New Deal”. Some point to President Reagan’s administration as the point of it’s true beginning. Some even say that it wasn’t until the years of President Obama that this situation truly started.

But what am I talking about here? What is this “situation” that I keep referring to?

I am of course referring to the situation unfolding in The People’s House of government. The Congress of the United States; and, it’s relationship with the Executive branch.

I believe the problem is two fold. These problems are at once both completely separate and simultaneously co-dependent at this point. Problem one is that the future of the Democratic Party’s ideology rests in the hands of people whom do not seem to grasp the true gravity of their situation. Problem two is that the relationship between the U.S. Congress and the White House has formed an almost monarchical bond. With the suit clad King of the Western World sitting atop the throne in the Oval Office dictating policy I the name of “the party” all while the good loyal party members serving their leader, all in the name of good old fashioned partisanship.

Problem 1:

I’ve spoken on the podcast in the past on how I feel the Democratic party leadership has “lost control” of either it’s party or of it’s party’s message. I would like to take this time to say that I don’t stand by those statements anymore. I made those statements while I was still thinking this entire situation through and though I am still thinking my way through it, I feel like I can better grasp the situation, at least better than I did then. Regardless of how exactly we got here, the Democratic party I feel, finds itself at a crossroads ideologically and which turn the party takes next is solely dependent on who’s captaining the ship when it comes time to make a turn.

The main problem stems from the party leadership. People like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Senate technically hold the reigns of leadership at the moment and have for a while now, though it remains to be seen whether they can hold on to that power in the long term. If history is any indicator, this problem I see will be nothing but a flash in the pan and normalcy will return in due time. But these are strange and interesting times we live in and they seem to be surprising us day in and day out. In today’s political climate, tomorrows forecast is about as reliable as a sundial at midnight. While the unreliability is not resigned to the Democratic Party alone (the Republican Party is no saint in this realm either) it is their ideology that seems to be the most heavily in flux, and without a solid ideology the party’s values are stuck in limbo.

I am in no way a political partisan, though I will state that I find myself more drawn to the values of the Republican Party (commonly referred to as “the right” side of politics) in many ways over those in the current Democratic Party (commonly referred to as “the left”). The simple fact is that the Democratic Parties “values” in today’s political climate are so scattered I’m not sure I could even explain what they truly are. There was once a day in which you could safely say things like “the Democrats fight for the rights of free speech and free expression, they care about the working class and the downtrodden” or “if the Republicans are the heart of our republic, the Democrats are the soul of the republic” but I don’t think I can say that these days. If I were to say that the current status of the Democratic Party is one of “political correctness on steroids” I fear the ladder rings truer than the former. This is not to say that this is their only message, it’s more a sign of the overall state of the party and their lack of any kind of uniform message or ideology.

This lack of a solid platform can be seen in the 15 plus candidates running primary campaigns in an effort to challenge President Trump in the upcoming 2020 election. Think of it like a power vacuum, but instead of “political power” it’s the void left by the lack of a hardened baseline ideology that is currently being filled by a more extreme ideology. Worst yet is that these new voices speaking to this new ideology are becoming more popular. Is the Democratic party going populist to counter the populist movement that some point to as the reason President Trump got elected? This question is way I’m so focused on the 2020 primary races right now. I whole heatedly believe that whomever wins the Democratic primary will ultimately control the shaping of a new Democratic Party ideology. Combine that with the populism being drummed up by the more Democratic Socialist branch, however small a branch it is, and we could see the birth of a mainstream political party that is fully committed to the ideology of socialism and it’s policies in the United States. The problem that Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer face is being forced to either stand against this new wave of left wing populism and risk loosing power in the process, or fall in lock step enough to maintain their power in hopes of regaining control of their party’s ideological direction, if that would even be possible.

The big question will be, again, who? Who will take President Trump on in 2020? Is it someone who can divorce themselves from the newly adopted socialistic far left ideology but still maintain enough popular support to beat out President Trump in the election? At this point only time will tell, but given the multiplicity of candidates taking the field and the general far left ideological platforms they’re presenting, the only chance I see of the Democrats taking a victory over President Trump at this point is by fully committing to their Democratic Socialist Zar Burnie Sanders whose left wing populism might stand the best chance of winning them the day. Though, a dark day it would be.

Problem 2:

The unholy union that both political parties share with the Executive Branch is unnerving at best and despicable at worst. It seems more and more that in politics these days loyalties lay first and foremost with “the party” and secondly to the people they are sworn to represent. I think this can best be examined by looking at two things. First, with how much of it’s own governmental power and control the United States Congress has systematically handed over to the Executive Branch. Secondly, in examining how they have also removed the built in speed bumps and road blocks built into the House and Senate rules on majority votes in order to squeeze legislation through their end so that they can fast track it to the desk of the President. Both political parties are guilty of these devastating missteps so there is plenty of blame to go around, but in a world where “the party” and the overall power of “the party” is all that matters, removing those road blocks seems like a good idea, until the party falls out of favor that is. The problem with unitary control is that it only works if your party is in power and stays in power, a loss of such power opens the door to political disaster.

This form of divorce from responsibility is dangerous in countless ways, whether it be in the from of The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) giving the executive the powers of military force under the espouses of national defense or something as seemingly benign as increased legislative power through the use of executive order or executive action. All of which are a way to funnel power out of the Congress and into the hands of the executive, something you wouldn’t worry too much about if you can get reelected and maintain your party’s power standing.

I think we can look at the current state of the Republican Party to see this process in action today. Though the Republican leadership, concentrated heavily in the Senate, have had to deal with a President whom isn’t a true and faithful party member, they’ve still been able to do the hard work the party desires, often times seemly using the President as their blunt tool to clear the way for their agenda. Look to the federal court judgeship’s, tax cuts, the supposed slashing of various regulations and removal of the individual mandate in regards to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for examples. They’ve so far been able to weather the storm of the Trump Presidency, all while Senator Mitch McConnell and other higher ranking Republicans still maintain overall control and direction of their party, relatively speaking when compared to the current state of the Democratic Party. Come 2020, if the power of governmental control at the executive level falls into the hands of the Democrats, the overall power of their party would go with it and they would once again be relegated to the relatively powerless minority with little ability to check the power of their political opposition.

As the overall size and scope of the Federal Government grows, and Congress continue to put there power into the hands of the executive in hopes of tapping into that unitary wellspring of power, the long-term health of the Republic gets shoved aside and replaced with short term political gains. We’ve seen it play out right in front of us over the past 10 years plain as day. Can’t get a party to-do item passed through the Congress, just send it on up to the executive, they’ll take care of it, well they may not exactly take care of it, but they’ll sign something and give us the political win we need to maintain power. This dangerous precedent has already been set, and I fear it is here to stay.

Final Thought:

In closing I think it should come as no surprise that I am overall left with a distasteful view of the current state of our nations politics. I fear that if the election events of 2020 play out in a particular way, we could be left with an irreversible and impossible situation. If it comes down to a second term with President Trump or someone from the newly emboldened Democratic Party with seriously Socialistic tendencies, what would we really be looking at? There is still a lot of time between now and then so I maintain hope, given the absolute worst case scenario, I still have hope that the United States will remain united and one way or the other we will see these strange times through to the end.

A Recent Rediscovering of the Emerald City

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

In the wake of the most loaded news week to hit our feeds, TV screens and computer screens in recent memory, I’ve strangely found myself at a loss as to what to write for my blog post this week. So I have fallen back to safety of writing about something I can relate to personally. I’ve mentioned it a time or two on the podcast but a couple of weeks ago I spent a long weekend in the city of Seattle, where I spent time at a live podcast recording of the Meateater podcast with my brother and then turned around and attended an event they call “Emerald City Comic-Con” with my wife. In other words I went from hanging with a crowd of camo wearing hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to surrounding myself with people dressed up in every comic book, video game and pop culture characters under the sun, a lot of which seemed to have questionable levels of personal hygiene. Talk about polar opposite demographics.

To start my adventure for the weekend, I began as I also do with a full day at work, after working a nice 9 hour day I grabbed my prepped go-bag and headed to the ferry boat and before I knew it I was in the great cultural melting pot of the Pacific Northwest, the Emerald City herself, Seattle. There is a lot that I love about Seattle, there local politics doesn’t make that list, but as far as just about everything else…I’m a fan. I was meeting my brother there to attend a live podcast recording of a show that we both love, the Meateater podcast.

At it’s core it’s a hunting podcast, hosted by a man named Steven Rinella, it is also a very popular show on Netflix and a large hunting and fishing news/online magazine. The show was at the Moore theater, one of Seattle’s historical theaters. As my brother and I approached the marquee proudly advertising the evenings event, we noticed that the line wrapped around the corner of the block. Without thought or hesitation we walked down the line of mostly camo-clad, burly-beard sporting attendees only to find that the line wrapped around yet another block corner. There was something about that crowd that just seemed out of place in the leftist Utopian city of Seattle. I mean Seattle is home to a very outdoorsie population who often sport the top of the line outdoor gear from Patagonia, Columbia, North Face or Mountain Hardware, but these people attending this show were hunters and anglers. These were people who don’t just disappear for a weekend in the woods with a backpack on the shoulders, these were people who do that but generally speaking would also be carrying a rifle, shotgun or bow with them while they do it. They would also be heading into the woods with the mindset of tracking, killing and bringing an animal back with them. Two very different types of outdoor adventurers.

After finally finding the end of the line, we struck up some light conversation with the people in front of us and soon with the people that followed behind us in line. Most seemed to be blue collar working people, both men and women, who themselves talked about feeling out of place in a city like Seattle. Though I’m sure there had to be some local people there, some had come from across state lines just to attend this podcast recording. As the line slowly but evenly crawled forward as people passed through the front security checkpoint a group of costume clad cos-players walked by, obviously here to attend the comic book convention happening that same weekend. If Don or my wife was with me I’m sure they could have recognized the other characters walking down the street across from our line, but the only one I could recognize was a semi-overweight man dressed in a skin tight Wolverine costume from the Marvel comics, movies, video games and TV shows. And just like that my two worlds collided, though, ever so slightly. I could hear slight chuckles and saw head nods towards the passing cos-players as people struggled to understand what they were seeing across the street. I don’t blame them for immediately turning to humor when suddenly faced with something these hunters and fishers just couldn’t comprehend, but I did bring me to the reality that these types of interactions between two totally different interest groups happen all the time. I myself can feel just at home in either of these groups, but it was interesting to see it in person like that. Again, I harbor no ill will toward my fellow camo clad woodland warriors but the duality was palpable, it wasn’t but 30 seconds earlier that these same people were talking about how out of place THEY felt in the city, and the speed at which they projected the same exact feeling towards others in a place they weren’t even from felt strange.

The actual show itself was great, I don’t want to get into all the details because I want to use some of the topics covered in it on the podcast over the next couple of weeks, especially since it was surprisingly political, for a hunting podcast at least. After the show my brother and I parted ways, he left to catch the ferry boat so he could head home for the night while I walked the few blocks to my hotel for some much needed rest, rest I didn’t get.

After living a decent amount of time in New York City, spending time in my local city of Seattle felt good. I remember waking up early after a sleepless night alone in my hotel room a block away from the cities convention center feeling strangely energized. I got dressed in a fitted tee-shirt, slim fitting khaki jeans and my favorite blue suede shoes and headed to a coffee shop on the corner across the street from my hotel for a quick spot of breakfast, and believe it or not it wasn’t even a Starbucks. I got an iced black coffee and a croissant, sat at a little table out on the porch, popped in my headphones and began one of my favorite city past-times, people watching. Like I said, my hotel was a block away from the convention center which was where the comic-con was being held all weekend so the people watching was better than average. Costume clad con goers in every costume imaginable streamed endlessly just below my chosen breakfast spot, I was a wash in a river of glorious geekdom and it was fascinating.

I knew that my wife was on her way over and I didn’t feel like going back to my hotel room so after finishing my breakfast I decided to crank the tunes and just stroll around the city to continue my people watching. I walked blocks and blocks and still found myself drowning in a sea of con goers. It just never seemed to end. Every hotel I walked by, out would come a group of costumed con goers. Marvel character, DC characters, video game and anime characters, just endless amounts of endless variety, hundreds, thousands, all of them everyday normal people like you or I deciding to drop reality for a day or two and walk the streets of Seattle as their fictional alias.

Once I finally met up with my wife, we too entered into the strange yet comforting world of “the con”, mind you we were one of the non-costume sporting crowd, which there were a great number of by the way, and we had a great time too. Even if your not a die hard comic fan, it’s an experience that is hard to rival. After spending the day at the convention, we left with more merchandise than I’d care to share but more importantly with some great memories.

Reflecting on that weekend, now being a couple weeks removed, really made me think about the nature of our city. It is such a strange place when you really stop to think about it. It stands apart from my other familiar city, New York, in so many ways but I think it’s in the simple diversity that it really shines on it’s own. From hemp fest to Jordan Peterson, from Steven Rinella’s Meateater to Emerald City comic-con, every time I go there I get a different vibe, the entire demographic of the city seems to shift and change depending on what big even is happening that day. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never actually lived there, but I still can’t get a solid read on “what” kind of city Seattle really is, but then again maybe that is Seattle. The true melting pot of the great Pacific Northwest.

The Bird House: Culture War 101

Blog Post Written By: Colin Offenbacker

Hey everyone, Colin here from Salt of the Streets. When I recorded my last blog post I was in somewhat of a weird head space and I was struggling to understand a lot of what was happening in the country, in the world and even what I was trying to do with these blog posts. It’s been a couple of weeks since then and after some off-mic beers with Don, some conversation and a hell of a lot of thinking I’m feeling like I’m in a better head space this time around. That being said, I spoke last time about not knowing exactly what I was doing with these blog posts. I had gone from a more structured informational pieces to more of an off the cuff personal post, and now, after all this time spinning my wheels and trying to see which direction I wanted to go, I’ve decided to continue on doing what I’ve been doing lately, except now I’m doing it consciously, with a deliberate direction, showcasing my own thoughts and opinions on stories and situations that I feel strongly about. With that preamble out of the way, welcome to my audio blog, a place that, from here on out, I’m going to be referring to as, “The Bird House”, it’s a place where I, @BigBirdOffie (on both instagram and twitter I might add), can invite you in to listen, learn and share ideas about those things I’m most passionate about. And in this first, but not really first episode of The Bird House, we’re going to be talking about a subject I’ve been enamored and yet strangely fascinated with over the past couple years, today is Culture War 101. So come on in, make yourself comfortable and lets have a discussion.

Have you ever heard the phrase; politics is downstream from culture, or perhaps you’ve heard it the opposite way, that culture is downstream from politics. When you really stop to think about it, I feel like it really depends on your outlook toward the government and how it intermingles with our society at large. Does out politics govern our culture, or does our culture govern our politics? Maybe it goes both ways. Maybe it ebbs and floods like the tides. It is that struggle between who’s downstream of whom, and whether politics should lead culture or vise-versa that I see as the greater frame work that makes up what I call the culture war. Now it’s not that “I” call it the culture war, that’s a term that has been around for as long as I’ve been paying attention, but it’s that ebbing and flowing of societal power and control that I see as the culture war. The entire concept of the Culture War is something that’s about as subjective as any of the idea-debates playing out on the various battle grounds of said culture war. Some even see it as a modern day version of a civil war, I don’t think I’d ever go that far, but I can see “some” similarities and commonalities when I compare them to some of the social changes and events that lead up to our historical civil war, but at the end of the day, I just don’t see the events of the early 1860’s ever playing out in any recognizable fashion in our modern age, we’re just not the same people, were not the same society that we were even a couple generations ago, greater still than those in the ladder half of the 1800’s. No, our culture war is being fought over the concept and the validity of something called intersectionality.

And what is intersectionality?

The short answer is that intersectionality is a perspective, and more to the point, a perspective on so called social justice. It’s a way to view the world and society as a whole based off of a certain amount of characteristics a person has. Characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, gender identification, ethnicity, religion, age, occupation, income status, family status, geographic location, immigration status, language and that’s just naming a few.

The longer answer is a that the entire concept of intersectionality was created by, if not created then first pushed as in ideology by a women named Kimberle Crenshaw back in 1989. She is touted as the first person to use the word intersectionality, which she used in a paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum entitled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” In 2016, Crenshaw released a TED talk in which, over the course of just under 19 minutes, she breaks down where the idea came from.

While listening to her give this TED talk, one could be forgiven for being convinced that the idea of intersectionality is a great idea, as she describes the case she studied before coming up with the term she coined. In short, back in 1976 a discrimination lawsuit had been brought to a courtroom in which Emma DeGraffenreid and several other black women sued the General Motors company over the idea that the company segregated it’s workforce by race and gender. Men did one set of jobs, women did another set of jobs, but the catch was that the men were all black and the women were all white. This left the group of black women aggrieved, rightly so, but the case was tossed out by the judge for having no basis in discrimination. Now don’t get me wrong for what I’m about to say here, the type of segregation taking place in this suit was 100% terrible and would in no way be okay in our modern day workforce. But without knowing all the details of that particular case I would have to assume that do to the era and the ridiculous racial problems still heavily present at the time, the fact that the suit was tossed out seems to me like a judicial loop-hole at the time. They hired black people and they hired women, how could they be called discriminatory? Looking at it today, I can safely say that they were absolutely sexist and racist for not hiring these women. But when you take that same thinking and apply it to the modern western world, I just don’t see that same situation working out the way it did then, whether viewed through the lens of intersectionality or not, that was just plain wrong.

Either way, this is how Crenshaw came up with this idea of intersectionality. If the judge at the time could have seen there struggle as not just African-Americans, and not just Women, but as African-American women, then he would have not tossed out the case. He would have seen that the oppression that the women were being discriminated under was due to the fact that these women were caught between the intersection of gender and race discrimination. Frankly I just see it as good old fashioned racism and sexism, travesties that ran rampant during this time period. Now, intersectionality, if applied to a systemically oppressive authority could possibly have it’s benefits played out correctly, assuming that the systematic oppression is REAL, but in todays modern age, where the vast majority of discrimination is based on merit and not hatred or systematic oppression, intersectionality simply doesn’t work. In fact it’s totally counter productive, it’s regressive, not progressive.

The massive problem that intersectionality presents in todays world, and unfortunately it’s one of, if not the core principles of the ideology, is the fact that the whole ideology is based off of oppression and segregation. Though it isn’t stated in the TED talk by Crenshaw, the real world ramifications of this ideology has proven time and time again that this is indeed the case. There are many problems with intersectional thinking, but other than the fact that it forces people into various groups and then judges them based off of how much historic oppression that group has received over a period of time, is the fact that it’s simply un-American, and beyond that, it completely and utterly immoral. The thought that you can group people like ALL Straight White Male’s (these are people who are at the intersection of heterosexuality, white privilege and male dominance, also known as the patriarchy) examine there historical oppression, which in this case; white people are counted as oppressors and don’t rank on the scale of oppression, heterosexuals is the historical normalized status, again not oppressed, and male…did I mention the patriarchy already, I feel like that sums that up enough. After all these factors are weighed against every other group of socially marginalized groups that suffer from xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, classism, sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, the straight white male is left at the bottom of the oppression scale.

On the other hand, A trans-women person of color, after running the math stacks rather high on the scale and must be propped up to make up for the systemic and historical oppression people like she has suffered over the years… Yeah, no I’m not kidding, this is actually a thing. This type of thinking really exists out there, and in a far greater number than we’d like to think. Now it doesn’t always get that crazy. Lets take a much simpler example. The hetero-normative, cis-gendered African-American male, stands below an African-American women of the same make up, do to the fact that women have historically been oppressed by men.

Again, there are so many problems with intersectionality, it’s impossible to capture all of them here right now, but I will note one other major problem that faces intersectionality. It’s a problem pointed out by none other than the New York Times, back in October I believe, when they put out an article, not an op-ed but an actual detailed article describing the problem that the intersectionalists were facing with the Jewish population of the country. They pointed out that the Jewish population of New York City was experiencing a massive surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes, something that would help sky rocket the Jews higher up the oppression hierarchy, but they pointed out a problem. You see, even though the Jews are about one of the most historically oppressed people on history, they are rather successful these days and there’s the fact that they kind of, well…they look white. Now the article did a very fine job in calling out the fact that there might be a slight problem with the intersectional narrative being pushed if the Jews don’t have a place under this intersectional umbrella, but when you take a step back and stop comparing the suffering of the Jews to others, you might be able to see how flat out racist it is to just lump all Jews together and judge them on an oppression scale.

The simple fact is, intersectionality is totally and completely wrong. If you cannot view an individual by the content of there character, and not by the color of there skin, sexual orientation, immigration status, so on and so forth, then your wrong, your just plain wrong. Americans don’t believe that type of crap, at least we don’t believe it anymore. Yes, we all have ancestral skeletons in our closets, but news flash, I am not my father, I am not my grandfather, or his father and neither are you. You have freewill, you have the freedom of thought and expression and you live in the freest country during the freest time in human history and it is up to us to realize that and act on that. Do not let the hatred of days gone by effect our present or our future. We are the only ones that can create the future we want, all we have to do is…do it, this is how we’ll win the Culture War.

Colin is Angry

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

Welcome back to the Salt of the Streets Blog, Colin here again this week, filling in for Don. Instead of doing the 3rd part of my Iran-Contra series this week, I’m going to be discussing something a little more contemporary. I’ll be back again next week with more Iran-Contra but today were going to be talking about some of my personal frustration stemming from the partial government shutdown. If you didn’t catch Don and I’s hour and a half long conversation on it on the last podcast your seriously missing out. We covered a million different aspects of the shutdown, but I still have a chip on my shoulder about the whole thing. It’s an avenue we didn’t focus on too much, but today, I’m going to get into it.

I’m going to start out by telling a story.

Now, I feel like I should preface this whole thing by saying I do have a pretty mushy soft spot in my heart for little random acts of kindness and charity. That being said, last week I was thumbing through my facebook feed and stumbled upon a post that left a single salty tear slowly rolling down my cheek. It was a post from the wife of an old Coast Guard shipmate of mine. The first thing that caught my eye was the picture attached to the post. It was a picture of an opened card with a simple sympathy entry inside, it said “Just remember, YOU’RE NOT ALONE in this.” And below this was a hand written message, reading, “Sorry your family is affected by the government shutdown. This isn’t much but hope it can help in some way.” The cover of the card didn’t have an address written on it, no return address, just the family’s last name. That right there tells me that the anonymous do gooder was perhaps someone local to there community. They weren’t looking for any recognition, they simply wanted to help a family, a friend, or maybe a neighbor, who through no fault of there own were in need.

This post filled my heart all at once with both joy and sadness. Joy for the selfless act of anonymous charity. Sadness, and rage due to the fact that an active duty service member and his family, do to the shutdown, were in a position to necessitate an act of charity.

Being a prior member of the United States Coast Guard myself, I have been highly agitated by the federal governments complete blundering of the political situation centered around The Wall. As I prefaced in the beginning of this post, I won’t be rehashing all the things Don and I discussed around the shutdown here. No, I have a separate bone to pick today.

This time, my animosity is focused on “my people”. The social and political commentators from the Conservative side of the political spectrum. Particularly Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire and John Podhoretz of Commentary Magazine, both of whom host shows I listen to as part of my regular podcast regiment.

They, like many on the conservative side of the spectrum have seemed to beat the drum of, hey so what if some 800,000 federal workers are either furloughed, without pay, or are having to work, without pay. I am very much of a similar mindset, when it comes to most bureaucratic branches of the federal government, but, when one of those branches is an active duty military branch, my lack of sympathy reaches for the hand break and screeches to a stop.

This ridiculous shutdown has been going on now for the ladder part of a month, with no end in site. All this time, there has been more than 40,000 of our nations young men and women in the United States Coast Guard standing there watch, braving perilous waters to perform search and rescue operations, interdicting massive drug shipments, stopping and often saving the lives of, what would be undocumented/illegal migrants who were trying to make the dangerous voyage across literal oceans to get into this country, and a dozen other various missions. All without being paid.

The complete lack of almost any conversation around this idea of an entire branch of the military missing out on paychecks, and by conservatives no less, seems fundamentally wrong to me. As someone who generally lands on the conservative side more times than not, I always thought that regardless of politics we stood by our military, we supported our troops, at home and abroad. It’s a fundamental core belief. Apparently taking shots at the bevy of democratic presidential hopefuls coming out of the woodwork, or at the lefts latests rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is more important. Don’t get me wrong, I love to destroy the crazy things that come out of her mouth as much as the next guy, but it’s like shooting the broad side of a barn with her. It may be fun, yes, but there’s no substance to it, at this point it’s all just part of this “own the libs” routine they all seem to be playing. All while our nations finest are baring the brunt of another ridiculous game of political softball. I’m disappointed, I’m angry, I mean these are “my people” and they’re dropping the ball on calling out the government for there stupidity and shear incompetence.

Do we need a wall? I mean, who the hell am I to say. I don’t know, I would like to think that in 2019 we could be a little more sophisticated than a fucking wall, but in the end, this is political debate that should be happening on the floors of the House of Congress and in the Senate. That’s how this is supposed to work for god sakes. If we the people, working through our elected representatives haven’t collectively figured out the answer when it comes time to fund our over-bloated government, tough, we’ll have to continue to debate and to politically negotiate while we continue to fund and run the behemoth governmental machine that we’ve all helped build.

In closing I want to leave you with just a few of the statistics put out by the U.S. Coast Guard covering Fiscal Year 2017:

Removed over 223 metric tons of cocaine; 31,190 pounds of marijuana; 6 kilograms of heroin
and other opiates; and 168 kilograms of methamphetamines worth $6.6 billion wholesale.

Interdicted 2,512 undocumented migrants.

Responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria assisting more than 11,200 persons.

Conducted over 5,300 hours of icebreaking operations to support movement of cargo worth
over $1.5 billion through ice-impeded waters of the Great Lakes and the Eastern Seaboard.

Not counting hurricanes, they responded to 12,270 pollution incident reports; responded to 16,069
Search and Rescue cases; assisted 22,004 people; saved 4,228 lives; and protected more than
$76 million in property from loss.

Iran-Contra Part 2: Iran

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

When we last left off , The Reagan administration had just been stopped by the US congress from funding the Nicaraguan revolutionary collective known as the Contras directly.

In this week’s blog were going to explore a little of the background of Iran, and how it was that they came to be on the Reagan administrations radar. An international relationship that would ultimately lead to the political controvercy known to us as, Iran-Contra.

This week, Iran-Contra Part 2: Iran.

Last week I mentioned my love for proper context when examining historical events. I would argue that the same is true when it comes to looking at political events, especially historically significant political events. This part of the Iran-Contra affair is one that really needs a serious set up to get at least a partial grasp on why things happened the way the did.

We’re going to jump back in time again. This time were going all the way back to 1953. In the U.S. McCarthyism is in full swing against communism and all the way on the other side of the globe Iran is going through some interesting political change as well.

The nation of Iran has been in an interesting place since the end of world war 2. The nation has a democracy in place and the Elected Prime Minister of Iran is a man by the name of Mohammad Mossaddegh. He is a member of the political party known as the Iranian National Front, a technically pro-democracy group with some rather socialistic tendencies.

He has been involved in government as a member of Parliament for a number of years but has only been Prime Minister for about a year.

In keeping with his parties strangely nationalistic though still democratically socialist ideals Mossaddegh makes a move that would spell his ultimate demise, he nationalizes the oil industry, the economic cornerstone of the nation.

Since world war 2, the oil industry in Iran was not only mainly built but also mostly run by western nations like the United Kingdom and the United States. This move to nationalize the industry forcibly expelled these nations out and choked off there control of the oil.

Enter Operations Ajax or if you’re from the UK, Operation Boot. This was a joint covert operation to overthrow the Prime Minister carried out by the former Iranian monarchy with help from both the US and the UK. It’s important to note that this was the first time the United States had ever covertly deposed a foreign government during peacetime.

Known to the west as the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, Prime Minister Mossaddegh was other-thrown and a member of the former monarch was installed as ruler.

His name was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a pro-American, anti-communist monarchical dictator, better known to most of the world simply as “The Shaw”.

The Shaw is a total fascinating individual, who lived a very interesting life and is more than deserving of his own deep dive show, but for now I’ll just have to keep that in my back pocket and save it for a rainy day.

Under the Shaw’s rule, Iran marked the anniversary of 2500 years of “continuous” Persian monarchy, dating back to the founding of the Achaemenid Empire by none other that Cyrus the Great. Unfortunately we need to leave him here and jump all the way to the mid 1970’s.

The Shaw has been in power now for quite a while and he has started to make some serious enemies, as monarchical dictators often do. In 1979 the Shaw left Iran on what he called a vacation, only he never really came back. He bounced around from one side of the globe to the other, but after a cancer diagnosis, which might have actually happened somewhere between 1974-1979 he reached out the the United States, seeking the worlds best medical care.

President Jimmy Carter was opposed to admitting him given the growing unrest to his leadership back in Iran but ultimately folded under pressure, primarily from Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller. Even before he was in the states a religious leader by the name of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had seized power during the Iranian Revolution and established a totally new government, an Islamic Republic.

This new government and the revolutionaries were certainly no fan of the west, particularly the United States. Once they heard of the Shaw coming to the US for his Cancer treatment, they’re anger grow to the point of bursting. Soon mass protests were being staged outside the US embassy in Tehran, and on November 4th 1979 a large group of them attacked the embassy, broke in and took 63 people hostage. Before anyone really knew what was happening they took 3 more hostages from the Iranian Foreign Ministry bring the total up to 66. In a few days the Ayatollah had released a total of 14 of those hostages leaving a total of 52. Those 52 would end up being held for 444 days.

The Carter administration tried numerous things to try and negotiate the release of the hostages but even after a military extraction plan failed before it even actually started, Carter, and his administration were left totally embarrassed in front of the American public, paving the way for his Presidential challenger, Ronald Reagan. I think we all know how that election turned out.

After the election the Iranian government had started to feel the pressure from not only American economic intervention but also the international community at large, and only hours after President Reagan had been sworn into office, the negotiations between the United States and Iran had yielded fruit and the hostages were on their way home.

Iran-Contra Part 1: Nicaragua

Hey everyone this is Colin from Salt of the Streets and welcome to my first audio blog post. This will be the first of a multi part series on the political controversy known as Iran-Contra.

For as much as I would like to cover this topic from start to finish in one sitting, as a big fan of history I believe proper context must be given to historical events to truly understand them. With a topic like this which led to one of, if not the biggest, political controversies our nation has even experienced context is paramount to understanding the full story. So I invite you to check out my series about the Iran-Contra affair. A story that spans the globe from the deserts of the middle east to the jungles of central America. CIA covert missions, gorilla warfare, hostages, White House scandal and even a little treason.

So without further adieu, welcome to: Part one of Iran-Contra: Nicaragua.

Lets travel back in time. The year is 1979 and President Jimmy Carter is in the White House, though not for much longer. The multi decade long Cold War is entering a new era, but the United States government is still very concerned and determined to stop the spread of communism across the world.

Down in Central America, nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica lyes the small country of Nicaragua. It’s leader, a US backed dictator named Anastasio Somoza DeBayle is in trouble. As head of the National Guard, he had essentially become the de facto ruler of the country since 1967 after the death of his older brother. But his grasp on power is slipping, and very life is in danger. He is about to become the last of the Somoza family to be President, ending a family dynasty of power dating back to 1936, when his father had first risen to power, with thanks to the US Marine Corp by the way.

His county has been embroiled in deeply violent civil war since the early 1960’s when the Nicaraguan Revolution first began. The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (F.S.L.N.) known in English as the Sandinista National Liberation Front have grown in strength and number to the point that a governmental overthrow is coming, it’s now just a matter of time.

As far as the United States is concerned, the FSLN were becoming a massive problem. If you’re looking at this situation with contemporary glasses, you may be thinking that the US government would be on-board with helping a peoples revolution to overthrow a nepotist dictatorship like the Somoza’s, but keep in mind that the Somoza family only came to power due to US military involvement in Nicaragua a decade or so earlier.

The real problem the US had with the rise of the FSLN was the fact that they were primarily supported by communist governments such as Cuba, Panama and Venezuela. But of course the strings traced all the way back to Moscow, the proverbial queen bee of Communism. On July 17th 1979 it happened, Somoza stepped down and escaped into exile essentially handing over the reigns of power to the FSLN who began to inject communism and socialism into the county.

Now we introduce the Counter Revolutionists, better known as the Contras. The Contras were actually built up of a great number of various anti-Sandinista rebel groups, the largest of those being the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. Overtime these various rebel group began to merge, ultimately they would from into a group known as the Nicaraguan Resistance, though this didn’t happen until 1987.

In 1980 a man by the name of Ronald Reagan had become President. Reagan was a staunch anti-communist and his administration saw the formation of these loosely grouped bands of anti-Sandinista rebels as an asset and wished to forge a relationship with them. Anti-Sandinista meant Anti-Communist after all, and fighting Communism was one of, if not the greatest foreign policy concern at the time.

There was a problem that the Reagan administration faced when allying with the Contras though. While fighting the Nicaraguan government, they allegedly committed a large number of blatant violations of human rights, carrying out more than 1300 attacks that would be classified today as acts of terror. This is something the Reagan administration downplayed as much as possible, but this is how the contras fought, and there was no amount of downplaying the administration could do to make that fact go away.

From the beginning of there relationship with the US, the contras received the vast majority of there support directly from the United States Government, something they grew to depend on as time went on. That is of course until the all mighty power of the United States Congress put there own foot down with the passing of the Boland Amendment between 1982 & 1984, which essentially stopped governmental assistance to the contras in it’s tracks. But this wouldn’t stop the Reagan administration from fighting back against the spread of the communism. As they saw it, communism was still the greatest threat to American safety and Democracy, and they’d stop at next to nothing to rid the world of it’s cancerous spread.

How’d they do it?

You’ll have to wait for Iran-Contra part two, when we tackle to Iran side of Iran Contra, which comes out January 10th 2019, right here on

Until then, as always you can find us @saltofthestreets on both instagram and facebook.

Or you can find Don and I directly:

I am @Bigbirdoffie in both the instagrams and twitter machine

Don is @saltofthestreet on twitter and @alpaca_donavan on instagram

Together we are Salt of the Streets and we’re here to bridge that gap between people and information.