A Tale of Two Cities

Paint swatches. Gray, black, extra white.

WHAT THE &$*!?

That’s all I could come up with as I facepalmed in utter disbelief. Although my disbelief was quickly booted aside by a recognition that this would, of course, happen.

Let me let the New York Times tell you. I will interrupt them occassionally with my analysis or maybe, more accurately, my rant.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Armed antigovernment protesters led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, charged in the takeover of a federally owned Oregon wildlife sanctuary in January, were acquitted Thursday of federal conspiracy and weapons charges.

[Armed antigovernment protesters!!??] What the hell kind of euphemistic bullshit is that? How about thugs with automatic weapons who charged into federal buildings and threatened law enforcement? Or maybe you can’t be a thug if you’re white and wrap yourself in a Christian flag?

And then, [acquitted??!!?] << This. I can’t even.

The surprise verdict in Federal District Court was a blow to the government, which had argued that the group used force and threats of violence to occupy the reserve, impeding the federal workers there. But the jury appeared swayed by the occupiers’ contention that they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat.

Wait. [they were protesting government overreach and posed no threat?!!??] Everybody saw a dozen or so armed cowboys forcefully occupying a federal wildlife refuge, blocking access of federal employees who were unable to do their work onsite. There were 30 guns seized after the standoff. An FBI agent testified that 16,636 live rounds and nearly 1,700 spent casings were found. The terrorists set up a defensive perimeter. They forcefully occupied the area for five weeks. The insurgents destroyed federal property, including archaeological artifacts. By the way, the staff felt threatened, and indeed the people in the county did, too.

In a sign of the high tensions throughout the trial, Ammon Bundy’s lawyer, Marcus R. Mumford, was restrained by four United States Marshals in courtroom tussle after the verdict on Thursday. He was enraged that the Bundys were not being immediately released.

Oh and then their friggin lawyer starts throwing punches in the courtroom? Yeah, like that would go over well in a Baltimore City court. Well, if he did that in Bal’more he’d be shot dead. Maybe not. He’s white.

All of them got off. Even the guy who acted as his own lawyer.

Meanwhile, almost 1,300 miles due east a different verdict is being played out. I can’t give you a link to the NYTimes, though, because they are not covering this other story. So let’s try the BBC. You know, the news source from across the pond.

Riot police have begun removing protesters from private land in the path of the Dakota Access pipeline…Dozens of officers in riot gear, some armed, moved in on Thursday assisted by trucks and military Humvees.

So police are taking down teepees that were erected just yesterday. They are rolling up in tanks, suited in full riot gear. They are shooting “bean bag” shotgun rounds “designed to incapacitate people without causing death or permanent injury” and using pepper spray against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters.

There were reports of rock throwing. After the police moved in, there was a report of gunfire and a woman was arrested. In addition, over 100 people have been arrested. This type of protest–you know the one that disrupts the oil or natural gas industries–must not be allowed to continue. And we can hurt these types of protesters.

To be clear, the protests are being led by Native Americans trying to protect their sacred lands. You know after the Trail of Tears and whatnot.

It’s the best of times for white terrorist ranchers who use violence and a warped interpretation of the constitution to justify stealing from the government to line their own pockets. And, as it has been historically, it’s the worst of times for people of color.

</rant>

Petals of Metal

3 pictures of a rose cupped in hands, first the flower, then the separated petals then a shredded pile.

She developed her set of techniques originally as self-protection, but she found they served her well in self-promotion, too.

She had always been smart. Not the smartest but an equation of brains multiplied by hard work put her near the top. And while there might be a limit to brainpower, she was fully in control of her effort level. She could do this.

A loving addict for a dad and a mismatched avoider for a mom were the catalyst and the enzyme for recurrent family chaos. They would reject her and she would come back. She strained–because that’s what she did–to make her family work. Really, though, to make it work for her. She wanted out. She wanted to be on the path to good fortune and the life of the fancy. She wanted her parents to be proud. She wanted her parents to love her. She wanted them to want her almost as much as she wanted to leave them.

She wasn’t good at hiding her feelings. She couldn’t hide her terror of rejection. She learned, though, that some people hated to see her terrified. She learned that teachers and bosses and friends and lovers responded with concern to her cocktail of tenacity and anxiety–especially when she served it with syrupy flattery mainlined to their egos. They were happy to tend to her. She asked more frequently. She sat adoringly at their feet, looking up with big doe eyes for approval and favor. She frequently received both.

When her recipe went awry she didn’t check her ingredients or her technique, but blamed the stove for failing her. She learned that if she was self-deprecating, others would fault the stove, too. Sometimes her flopped recipes would work their way out. Sometimes she picked up a new technique. She always picked up a new cookbook. She could find new appliances. Shiny ones that would not fail.

She settled on her mate early. He was weaker than her–but strong enough. It was a child’s relationship from middle-school. They grew up together. He loved her and she encouraged him to need her. She didn’t bother with other men in college. She punched her ticket and decided he was the one. Except for that time they broke up when he lost his mother and he really needed her. She took him back when he was “well.”

When she had children, she loved them the way  that she learned to love. By seeking approval. Sometimes she would look for theirs. Other times she strategically withheld hers. It was an equation, this family thing. You invested, but there was a required return. They were supposed to love her and she would do what it took to make it so–whether it was guilt, or bribes, or mistruths, or silence, or hugs, or praise, or time, or attention. She didn’t know she did this, but her kids did.

When they left her house, one left the slide rule behind and sought no approval, and so sacrificed her mother’s interpretation of love. The other attempted to measure up, but could not find her own peace by trying to patch together her mother’s.

Her mate fell into a painkiller addiction that almost killed him. He found that the numbness he felt with her could be swapped out more pleasantly. When he came back, he moved away for a while. She was angry and lost. She stayed that way. And he stayed away.