A political discussion bound to get me unfriended

I try not to be too political here, since I feel like politics are divisive at their core and throughout the centuries, political affiliation has broken families apart, created wars, and put some awful people into positions of power. However, this year, Colorado has a proposition on the ballot which is very controversial. It pertains to the re-introduction of wolves to our eighth largest state.

Never mind that wolves are already here.

I grew up in a rural community, which was heavility supported by ranching, hunting, and other activities which automatically set the default at Extremely Red State when it comes to how people vote. I remember nights when people had dumped dead coyotes on the center line of Main St. of my hometown, or how the creedo of “shoot, shovel, and shut the fuck up” is common.

The resounding NOPE of my community is loud and clear. Never mind that a community of God-fearing, right wing, 2nd Amendment loving, domestic beer drinking folks also has some of the highest abortion rates per capita. One might think that it was being used as birth control it is so common. Yes. That was a cheap shot for the hypocrisy of people.

Here’s another cheap shot. Or several. Buckle up.

One of the arguments against reintroducing wolves to an area which spans thousands of square miles of public land, private land, and several different biomes is the destruction that wolves impose on the cattle industry, hunting, and the general safety of people in the area.

Let us consider for a moment, those poor ungulates who roam the wilds of North Park. The gentle and majestic Moose. This animal is like a draft horse with all the lethal hardware of a deer. Because it is a deer. And anybody who knows about moose, knows that they get cranky because those antlers are the fastest growing living tissue outside of bamboo. The process is so painful that moose probably co-adapted eating willow bark because of its analgesic properties. Yes, moose are self-medicating aspirin. Moose get cranky and trample, gore, and fuck up the days of a lot of people every year. My hometown prides itself on being the moose viewing capitol of Colorado, with…damn, like a bazillion moose living up there. Seriously, they are like rats. 1200lb rats with a migraine and a rack of antlers that can flip a Hyundai.

So far, nobody has been gored.

Why am I picking on moose? Well, I’m going to pick on other animals too. Next will be ranchers. The erridication of wolves was a gradual process, popular with Manifest Destiny. Right around the same time buffalo proved a threat to Westward Expansion–likely because they were the main food supply of an entire civilization of human beings that the Federal Government wanted…um, sent to extinction?–the buffalo were hunted out. They were also big animals who could barrel through a fence, which was what cattle and sheep farmers really disliked about the bastards. The Feds didn’t like that the Indians could build an entire town out of one and survive the harsh winters of the American West, so they had to go. Since then, pretty much what ranchers have been saying has been fine for everyone. In World War Two when the Federal Government, who hadn’t successfully starved out the noble creature known as the American Rancher with a thing called the Great Depression suddenly needed food for its troops who were being used to kill other people all over the planet (not picking on WW2, or the validity of what it accomplished–if any war was justified in American History, it was that one. You know, once we decided to actually join in the fight. Four years after Manchuria and Poland were invaded).

Wolves, like the Native Americans before them, were an apex predator in competition for resources. Mainly cattle, who were needed to make C-Rations. I guess somehow they comprised the edible part of these tins of food soldiers relied on in the field. So in order to boil down massive amounts of cattle into nearly inedible canned stew, more cattle needed to be grazed. Colorado was a good place for this, since short growing seasons meant hardly anything grew here. Plus leather was needed for A-2 Flight Jackets, which were pretty damned sweet for pilots looking to plow English girls.

Since bullets were needed to shoot Germans and Japanese, they poisoned the wolves. And the raptors. Because an eagle will eat a sheep or a calf too, apparently. Then they blamed the death of the majestic bald eagle on DDT, which was killing mosquitoes. But yeah. The slow moving rancher could not prevent the loss of livestock, and so baited meat and traps were used to kill the living fuck out of the competition…the wolves this time, not the Native Americans.

Since then, cattle ranching has become a lucrative business. In my hometown, mostly for millionaires who want to dress up and play cowboy for a couple weekends a year. You see, cattle ranches often take a huge loss, and if you own one, you can write it off on your taxes. It’s what every good millionaire does!

A lot of ranchers I have known (and I’m not saying all by any means) generally just kinda let the cattle do their thing. They move them around sometimes, brand them, artificially inseminate them, help them deliver delicious offspring, but most of the time the cattle are self-employed, roaming around public grazing lands (yes, public lands), becoming ribeyes. And dog food. And fertilizer for vegans to put on soy fields.

The argument is that a wolf will kill a cow for fun, just shredding it until it bleeds out, painfully. However, I’ve seen bone piles where cattle carcasses are dragged, each having one thing in common. Baling twine. You see, when a rancher can’t be bothered to take the fucking twine off a hay bale, the idiot cows will eat the twine, and it will eventually kill them. Painfully. Binding up their digestive tracts which are full of hay, which I guess the baling twine is just really dedicated to its job. Then they pile up the dead cattle in an undisclosed location, where the coyotes pick at the bones until all that is left is tiny little balls of red baling twine and bones. And the lonely howl of the wind in the sage.

This bill includes compensation for cattle and livestock killed by wolves too. Sorta like the compensation ranchers got for killing entire herds at the beginning of COVID because people weren’t buying enough and it was killing futures in the stock market. Don’t feel too bad for the ranchers, they are still being paid.

Hunters complain that wolves kill deer and elk in this way too. You know what else kills them? Prion disease. You know what else prion disease kills? People. You know what prion disease doesn’t kill? Wolves. So, a wolf pack kills some diseased animals and eats them before you can eat these diseased animals and be killed by prion disease.

And hey, since wolf populations will now be “managed” you can try to shoot one for a trophy instead of that deer nobody wants to eat because venison is disgusting. Elk sucks too. Unless you mix it with beef. Then, just eat beef.

I got to hear super hunter and Oregonian, Cam Hanes on Joe Rogan the other day voicing his opposition to wolves in Colorado. The most invasive species in Colorado are the Californian, Texan, and Oregonian. Don’t let this fucker fool you. No wolf ever drove up the cost of my property! If anything they keep property values low, because nobody wants their grandmother to be eaten by a wolf when she is lying in bed with COVID, waiting for her grand-daughter to bring her a basket of goodies.

The final thing is forest fires. Wolves target stupid, slow, and sick creatures. Which likely means the same type of people who will idiotically leave a campfire burning when they are camping and burn down most of my goddamned state. Wolves prevent forest fires by eating tourists who are too stupid to know how to not burn down the forest. * (Okay. They don’t eat campers. But I wish something would have happened to those careless assholes that started all these fires. Maybe the moose need to step up their game and trample some people.)

Trust the science.

That’s it for now. If anyone is left, please vote YES on 114.

I am not a Deep State Wolf.

*It has been brought to my attention (and rightfully so) that in spite of the wolf packs in Yellowstone, there have been no attacks on humans since reintroduction. And there are lots of people and wolves in Yellowstone right now. You are probably more at risk being bitten by a shih-tzu.

Monuments

I’m trying hard lately not to be too political. For one thing, it eats up the resources in my brain, and for another thing none of it matters. Our population is being pitted against each other in a well-orchestrated ballet of devisiveness that is weakening all of us so that some really bad people can become more rich and powerful.

My current work in progress deals a lot with the importance of memories, especially those attached to objects. Tonight, I wrote about a plastic pearl that I kept which had come off a prom dress from a girl I dated a lifetime ago. Throughout my life I have kept many momentos such as this. Old letters. Figurines. Books with messages penned from now departed friends. Various knickknacks that I have held onto for a variety of reasons. I might have inheirited this from my grandmother, whose house was like a museum dedicated to all the treasures she collected throughout her life. Each one of those pieces, no doubt, had some kind of story attached to it. After she passed away, the meaning of those objects and the stories that were associated with them departed with her, blown off like a nearly imperceptible layer of dust with the next breath of wind.

Not all of the objects I have kept have good memories associated with them. Some of them are awful memories, but every once in a while I drag them out to beat myself up a little bit. They serve as a reminder of how far I have come and how I don’t have any desire to really go back to those times. Sometimes I let them go. But what I do know of this process is that they serve as a concrete reminder of how things were in the past and they work as an anchor to establish the reality of those times. If these objects exist, it is undeniable that things happened.

Think of the piles of shoes or clothes or photographs of a Holocaust museum. Wouldn’t it just be easier to dispose of these objects? What an unpleasant part of human history? Or what about battlefields? All the war memorials and battlefields and monuments to the destruction of life that exist are surely glorifying the destruction of human lives, right? They only establish the status quo and are made by the victors to mark their victories.

No.

Recently, statues and monuments are being torn down all over the world because they don’t align with the political ideologies of groups of people who want them removed. It isn’t the monuments that need to be torn down, but rather the lessons we should learn from these sites. A friend of mine said very astutely that Confederate statues are just participations trophies. I couldn’t agree more. Many of these monuments were built during the Jim Crow days, when segregation was the status quo. A completely irrational law that further divided a nation, long after the veterans of the War Between the States were cold in the ground.

Were some of these monuments cast and erected to remind people that the war was over, but as long as Stonewall Jackson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Robert E. Lee survey the lands of Dixie, then we are only a stone’s throw from slavery, and don’t you forget it. These monuments were made to oppress. That doesn’t mean this is the lesson we should take from them.

I think they should stand as a reminder of our history, which includes our collective mistakes. Being educated as to why these statues are around should remind people of our history so we don’t forget. So we don’t become complacent with how things are. Knowing that institutional racism was (and arguably still is) a factor in our country is important. If you tear down these monuments, where is your example of this? Say you are in an argument with someone who is denying institutional racism, and they can say, “Well, Jim Crow really wasn’t a big deal here.” You can point out the window of the cafe to the statue standing in the center of town and say, “Then why is a Confederate General standing in the town square?” With the object comes context. The fact that somebody paid to have a statue of a defeated general built says more than you can just read in a text book. Without that, it removes the provenance. The obverse is whomever controls the past, controls the future.

The battlefield of the Little Big Horn is sorta like this too. To some, it is the site of a tragic massacre of a war hero–who has counties and streets and schools named after him. To others it is a place where a people who were being dispersed and subjugated took a stand against an aggressor and won a victory. History is complicated.

Every so often a statue of Conquistadore Onate is defaced, and I’m glad for it. The last time this happened in Santa Fe vandals sawed off one of his legs. This was because Onate used to come into a village and cut off just one leg of any man who was fighting age. He would go on to sodomize the men and rape the women. He would often murder children. I don’t know why he would be considered a hero, but everytime they fuck with his statue the history comes out. It is a reminder of how far people have come and what they have overcome.

I doubt very much that there would be any Confederate statues in the South or anywhere else had Reconstruction not completely devastated the South and embittered generations of people against the oppression of the North. And yes, it was oppression. People lived under honest-to-god martial law for over a decade before Reconstruction “ended.” In some places, the economy still hasn’t recovered. Rather than the Federal government just admit that they didn’t handle this very well, well, newly freed slaves were blamed for flooding an already impoverished work force with their numbers.

Remember too that a lot of the heroes of the Union went out west and slaughtered villages of American Indians. And a lot of the people who fought for the South didn’t own slaves and didn’t carry that ideology with them when they headed West either.

I don’t like the defacement of statues and monuments because it reminds me too much of the Cultural Revolution, fundamental Islamists, and the Soviets who attempted to erase any opposing ideology from the landscape so that they could rewrite the history. The US government did this as well, by using the Smithsonian Institute to catalog the history of North America as it fit into the narrative more conducive to Manifest Destiny. It’s a lot like grading a road bed before you pour the asphalt. Those Budhas that were blasted to pieces in Afghnistan are an example of this. History is complicated. Until you remove the complications.

My takeaway from the Civil War statuary is that these monuments were a way for artists and people to express their emotions about something that had happened. Yes, some of these feelings were racist and oppressive, but some of them were done because the people felt oppressed. They clung to a sense of regional pride. The North was not kind during Reconstruction, in many of the same ways the allies were not kind to Germany after World War I. Which is the reason it got a sequel. America is divided still, 150 plus years after the Civil War. Part of the reason for that is it is an old wound that cannot heal because the powers that be do not benefit from it healing.

I think the statues should come down when those wounds heal. Pulling them down now is a lot like removing the stitches before the cut can knit. It removes the conversations that should come with it. Only then can people see both sides to the story. Throwing out the old shoes and wedding bands at a Holocaust museum doesn’t fix anti-semitism. Tearing down Robert E. Lee doesn’t end centuries of racism. It might even prolong it.

Like a lot of the keepsakes I still have, a time will come when they no longer hold their meaning and I have moved past needing to hang onto them. In which case, they will occupy a landfill instead of a sockdrawer or cardboard box. In the meantime, I get to examine them and explore the foolishness and the importance of each while I can.

I know my ex wife hated these keepsakes because they reminded me of better times. Times that were outside of her control. She couldn’t touch the memories I had associated with them. Are these statues like that? I don’t know. But like some of these keepsakes, they aren’t entirely good, and they aren’t entirely bad either. Sometimes they represented hope and other times they reminded me of mistakes that were made.

I’m still trying to figure it all out.

The featured image is the Tower Bridge in London. Arguably a testament to colonialism from the 19th Century.

Hard Conversations

Lately, after everyone has been pinned down in quarantine and fed a bunch of crap about how they are going to kill grandma, we’ve gone full bonkers and now there are riots and warlords running Seattle, and everyone wants to tear down statues.

I hear a lot about privilege. Yes. I agree there is white priviledge, because when I get pulled over at night for a broken tail light, I’m pretty sure I can talk to the police officer and say “Hey, my bad. It’s a Jeep. I’ll fix it when I get home.” And I don’t have to worry about someone kneeling on my neck for nine minutes until I am dead.

But there are ways I’m not privileged. And before you decide to stop listening and roll your eyes and throw your Woke/LiberalArtsMajor bullshit at me, let me explain. But lets be honest, if this is going to offend you, you aren’t interested in having any dialog. These discussions might make you uncomfortable. That’s privilege too. And we can’t have this conversation yet.

Some of this stuff is stuff I have talked about before. I might sound like a broken record for the same reason that the protesters keep chanting what they chant about George Floyd. Because it’s not right, and nothing is being done to change it.

I have made mistakes. I talk about them here all the time. Here’s a few to keep in mind next time you want to pull down a statue of Columbus. One of the mistakes I made was marrying poorly. I am a huge proponent for mental health, maybe as a result. I spent 15 years in an awful marriage with a person who is Cluster B disordered. If you don’t know what that is, google it. For those of you who are Cluster B disordered and are struggling with it, are aware of it, and are actively seeking treatment for it, you have my utmost respect.

Living with someone who is disordered is hell.

As a white male who spent 15 years being the sole breadwinner in our nuclear family, when I finally decided to leave for my own health and safety–and that of my kids–in spite of Parental Rights Evaluations, CPS investigations, and psychological assesments, the best I can do with my kids in Colorado is 50/50 custody. One judge decided this after a 45 minute hearing. I still owe my divorce attorney $10,000 for getting me out of the marriage. But I got more than my lawyer expected that particular judge to allow.

There was no home for battered, homeless dads when I got out. I was lucky enough to have a family that could help me out, but the divorce tapped them out too.

Also, when child support was determined, even though I am equally educated as my ex spouse, (and even though she actually has two more years of education on me), because she never worked during our marriage, and only works part time now (for six years after our divorce), I am held to the standards of full-time employment and wages.

This means that the amount of support I pay is determined on what I’ve been making, regardless of whether my ex works or not. In fact, if she were to remarry and have more kids or likely have other mouths to feed from a new spouse, those mouths to feed would also be calculated into my support. That is straight from the Family Support Registry.

Because two of my kids are “old enough” to decide to stay with their mom full time, my child support reflects the numbers of overnights, not the fact that they have been alienated against me because my ex wants: A) total control over them B) More money C) Not to have to work a full-time job D) To destroy any relationship I can have with my kids. E) to make their life hell if they even mention my name unless it is to run me down.

In other states, this would be considered kidnapping. Complaining to the courts and the police fall on deaf ears because “This is a civil matter.” After this, things get tricky and absurd.

I am currently unemployed. Other than writing gigs I am getting (which are not reliably steady like my previous job). To have my child support adjusted will take an entire year to even just get a hearing. If not longer, considering COVID.

We are at the precipice of a Recession, if not a complete Depression right now. I am competing against 40,000 other out of work Coloradoans. And I can’t even move to find work or move to live with family unless I want to give up my youngest son.

Yes, as “priviledged” as I am, I cannot move more than 26 miles away from my ex because of custody. This is actually a violation of my Constitutional right to travel/live where I like freely. So, I’m stuck here, unless I want to pay a lawyer $15k to have a hearing in a year to be able to move with him, and even then I probably won’t get permission because “50/50 is about the best you can expect as a single dad in this state.”

Gotta love how biased the idiosynchrasies of loving, nurturing moms are with the courts, without taking in any of the facts that might indicate otherwise.

Because they determine public assistance based on gross wages before child support, I am not eligible for free daycare, food stamps, or other public assistance. My ex, however, purposefully underemployed as she is, gets all of these. Child support is not tax deductable.

I have been harassed by DHS, the police, and taken to court a number of times. I have had my property stolen by my ex, and I have been powerless to do anything against it. She has also run up $12k worth of othrodontics bills on kids who don’t even use my last name and still expects me to pay for it!

If I can’t find work and can’t pay child support, a number of things can happen:

  • I can lose my driver’s license if I can’t pay child support.
  • As a payor, my wages are garnished. Even if my kids become emancipated, I have to petition the courts to stop taking my money…there are no refunds for paying over.
  • I have lost over half of my tax return some years because of “arrears,” in spite of having a payment plan set up through the courts.
  • If I continue to be unable to pay, I can lose my Passport.
  • If I am still unable to pay, I will be jailed.

We aren’t supposed to have debtors prison, slavery, restrictions in travel, or illegal seizure in this country. And you are supposed to be guaranteed an attorney in a court of law. But I guess if you married badly and tried to get away from them, you wave those rights. Forget about a fair and speedy trial too. Funny that for a “Civil” court matter, I can be jailed. I am literally being forced to work to support a person who made my life hell for 15 years and has taken my children away from me without there being anything I could do about it. It sounds like slavery to me. How about you?

So now I’m going to get political.

As a white male, I cannot tell you how dumbfounded I am to hear when people complain about their “baby daddies” ditching out and never having to pay a dime of child support. How does this even work? I have known other white men who have been jailed for not paying support. I have had to work two jobs to keep from being persecuted and still maintain a household. The judge didn’t even care if I starved, much less if I could provide an adequate household for my children when they were with me.

While I get to hear about a certain somebody buying all new video gaming systems for the kids because they broke the last ones. Systems as in multiple. Does that sound like someone who needs a handout from the State or especially me? Who isn’t even working full-time?

And the big kicker? If my ex just decided to move or keep my son full time, I would have to fight through the courts to stop her. Which could take several months. If I did it, there would be an Amber Alert on my ass and I would have some fucking cop’s knee on the back of my neck after they dragged me out of the car. You can’t talk your way out of that one like you can a burned out tail light.

So, yes, put a brick through a store window. Tear down a statue. Hold up your sign. Riot. Rally. Fucking go nuts. But the system isn’t just broken for you. The system is flat out broken. I support your cause, because I know how messed up everything is. Where someone can judge you based on outward appearances, just like my white liberal friends are judging me right now for daring to go against their narrative. When the courts can say “These rights are for people who can afford attorneys, not you.” The shit deal I got from the State has not earned my love for the establishment.

At least when you turn on the TV you don’t get to see that as a white single parent you are nothing but a bumbling moron who is endangering their children simply by existing. Where is my agency? Where is my representation? It’s locked up in the Homer Simpsons, Peter Griffins, Tim Allens, and many others just as yours was in Step n’ Fetchit and Al Jolson. I have lost relationships, friendships, etc. because those people knew that this was the path I would have to travel for at least the next ten years if not the rest of my life. It takes its toll. But this is my life. I didn’t choose this.

Look me in the eye and tell me ANY of this is right. If I sound angry, it’s because I am.