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 saltofthestreets.com.

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.

Episode 44 is up!

Don is off this week, taking a little R&R before he kicks into full-time fatherhood mode, so we’re bringing you something a little different this week. This is the pilot episode of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. An interview show that focuses on local members of the community. Primarily focused on getting to know the members of your community and the roles they play in it.

This week’s episode is Joseph Micheal O’Conner, a licensed public land surveyor, also known as a PLS. Don’t know what a surveyor is, or what they do? You’ve come to the right place. It was a great time sitting down with him, he’s a very fun and interesting guy. So please, enjoy this pilot episode of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and let us know what you think.

As always all our podcast episodes post at Soundcloud but can be found anywhere else you like to receive your podcasts. The full length video will be found on our Salt of the Streets YouTube page. This video will post tomorrow Tuesday 18th of December 2018.

Please let us know what you think of the episode either right here in the comments OR on any of our social medias:

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Music in this episode comes courtesy of bensound.com

Rain Check & Something New

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

During last weeks discussion on George H. W. Bush we brought up the political scandal known as Iran-Contra, and I announced I’d be writing a blog post on it. Well…this week’s post will not be on Iran-Contra, though it will come during my next round just after Christmas. Don’t worry though, the wait will be worth it.

With Don being out this week to prepare for the arrival of the newest member of the Salt of the Streets family, I’ve been hard at work on some new content for you all. In the spirit of Don’s interview with Mackrayz from The Upper Left, I will be conducting an interview with an amazing individual from the local community! Someone near and dear to both my professional and personal life. I’m really excited to reveal not only an incredibly interesting, knowledgeable and hilarious local individual but we’ll also be sheding some light on a little known profession in the trades, one that may be in jeopardy of slipping away.

In keeping with the origins of the Salt of the Streets, this first pilot episode of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” will focus on getting to the true nature of real, everyday people in the community. We’ll cover everything from who they are, what they do, why they do it, why it’s important for you to learn about it and more.

The show will flow naturally, as all interviews should, but we’ll cover aspects of the interviewee’s life, both professional and personal, their point of view on living and growing up in the bastion of liberty known as the United States of America and of course how they pursue happiness, an endless pursuit we all share.

Don and I will be back together next week for some more standard Salt of the Streets action. Until then look forward this new thing we’re going to test out, it will drop on our normal Salt of the Streets Podcast stream so please just let us know what you think.

See you all again soon.

Some context on Crimea and the seizing of Ukrainian ships by the Russian Federation.

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union died in 1953. It was Nikita Khrushchev who took the reins of leadership over the massive Communist state. Shortly after his elevation to head of the Soviet State, Khrushchev began what is commonly referred to as a “de-Stalinization” period, a major part of which ended in “gifting” the province of Crimea to the Republic of Ukraine in 1954.

As told by the Soviet newspaper Pravda on Feb. 27, 1954:

“Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring Crimea Province from the Russian Republic to the Ukraine Republic, taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic ties between Crimea Province and the Ukraine Republic, and approving the joint presentation of the Presidium of the Russian Republic Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukraine Republic Supreme Soviet on the transfer of Crimea Province from the Russian Republic to the Ukraine Republic.”

This was an interesting move from the Soviet state considering, in one way or another, Crimea had been part of the greater Russian Empire for over a century. Never the less, it happened. Fast forward to 2014, the Soviet Union has fallen and a new modern superpower known as the Russian Federation stands in its place. On February 27th, unmarked and masked Russian soldiers moved into Crimea and took control of strategic targets including the Parliament building. By March 16th a pro-Russian government had been installed and had declared independence and on the 18th of March 2014, Russia had formally incorporated Crimea into the Russian Federation. To date, the international community has condemned the annexation of Crimea and has refused to recognize it as a part of the Russian Federation.

Over this past weekend yet another Russian provocation has developed, this time on the waters of the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea. Russian forces had fired on and seized 3 Ukrainian naval ships. On Monday, the F.S.B. (Russian Federal Security Service) said that border patrol boats had seized the Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea using weapons to force them to stop. The Ukrainian ships included two smaller armored artillery ships and a tug boat. The ships were supposedly heading to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol via the Sea of Azov after leaving from the city of Odessa. The Azov is landlocked but for the exception of a narrow passage between Russia and the recently annexed Crimea. The waters are supposed to be a shared territory between the two nations according to a treaty signed in 2003. However, after the annexation of Crimea, Russia soon set to work, building a bridge that runs the water gap between Russia and Crimea. To help stop the Ukrainian ships from passing through, the Russians placed a large cargo ship broadside between the bridges underpass effectively blocking the only sea route to there destination. Soon the Russians had captured the ships and there crew. The 24 members of the Ukrainian ships crews are now being held in a 2 month pre-trial confinement.

Many United Nations officials including our very own U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley condemned Russia for the act. Haley called it “another reckless Russian escalation”.

For now this is a developing story and will, I’m sure, continue to evolve throughout the coming days, weeks and months.

Don’t forget to tune in to the upcoming episode of the Salt of the Streets Podcast to hear more on what Don and myself think about the whole situation.

The Camp Fire Tragedy

Written by: Colin Offenbacker

It’s midway through November and as Thanksgiving approaches, the weather here in the great Pacific Northwest has been pretty fantastic given the time of year. In New York City the first winter storm system brought a blanket of snow, while California on the other hand has suffered a horrific tragedy at the hands of wildfire.

Approximately 10 miles east of Chico California sat the town of Paradise. In local folklore it’s a town named after an old saloon called “pair-o’-dice”, but for its 26,000 plus residence, I’m sure they just knew it as home. Last Thursday a wildfire broke out and thanks to the fabled and now dreaded “Santa Ana Winds” within no time at all the town of Paradise found itself ablaze in a hellish nightmare.

It’s being called the “Camp Fire”, and as of writing this it’s also being called California’s deadliest wildfire. It’s been one week since the blaze first started back on Thursday November 8th and the official CAL-FIRE site shows it as only 40% contained. To date we’re seeing the death toll at 63 civilian fatalities and 3 injuries but the list of people still unaccounted for is somewhere between 130-300 but these numbers continue to fluctuate wildly from day to day. Unfortunately all of these numbers will probably continue to rise as the days and weeks go on.

It’s being reported that some 90% of the town’s residences has been turned to ash. A total of 8,756 residences and 260 commercial buildings have been destroyed and another 15,500 buildings are still considered threatened according to CAL-FIRE. Living in a town with a population half of what Paradise’s is, I can’t even fathom the true physical manifestation of this disasters fallout, it seems totally unreal for someone like me who has never been witness to a disaster such as this.

Investigating the cause of most wildfires can be a difficult and time consuming process and as of now we have no idea what caused the fire to break out. There is however one thing we know for a fact about this fire, and that is simple. The people of Paradise need assistance. By simply punching in “camp fire relief” into google, a huge number of charities including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army can be found. Money, clothing, hygiene essentials, they pretty much need everything and anything to help these people.

The large craft brewery Sierra Nevada, which is actually based right next to Paradise in Chico California has started a relief fund. The best resource I’ve found to help is through a link below, if want to get involved and help out the relief effort your about 2-3 clicks away. It’s run through Golden Valley bank and the link will bring you right to a list of relief funds you can support directly. As pictures and videos of the ashy ruins of Paradise continue to flood across the internet and television the need for any kind of relief becomes more and more visually apparent.

Golden Valley Bank Community Foundation:

https://www.goldenvalley.bank/Community-Foundation.aspx

To follow up to date information check out the CAL-FIRE website:

http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents/incidentdetails/Index/2277