Friday, October 19, 2018

Is this really who we are?

"It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it;
it is that they enjoy it with one another.
Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another,
and to Trump."

~ Adam Serwer, Journalist for The Atlantic

The Cruelty is the Point

I have been contemplating just how to address several trains of thought that have been wrestling for dominance in my consciousness. I read an article, over a month ago, which asked the question, "Does tribalism cause people to rationalize terrible acts?" Having studied anthropology and communication psychology, I understand tribalism - The organization, culture, or beliefs of a tribe. A tribe is not just ancient blood kinship or even the larger body of an ethnicity, such as the Scottish, Saami or Salish-Kootenai. Modern tribes can be organized around shared interests of religion, art, music, or sports. Tribalism also can also include politics, specifically partisanship.

People fear standing up, or alone, possibly bucking the tribe, risking expulsion. It is a very primal, lizard brain reaction that used to involve our safety, therefore our survival. The chances of a lone human being surviving against the environment, the weather, hunger, and a myriad of predators was slim. So I understand the neurology and psychology of a person avoiding the daunting ordeal of standing up for values, principles, ethics, or basic human rights.

There is another aspect to tribalism that can be disappointing, repulsive or even very dangerous; the aspect of mob mentality, you know, the pitchfork and torch wielding frenzy that takes on a life of its own - regardless of facts - often due to fear and ignorance, fear of the OTHER.

Within this tribalism mob mentality, there will invariably be those charismatic, who are cruel, feed off of their cruelty and laughter, getting dopamine hits in their brain when they should be ashamed. This kind of bullying infuriates me, drives me to do a lot of the research and advocacy I do.

I watched, the Kavanaugh debacle unfold, as a US citizen concerned about our highest court, but I also watched it as a statistic of unreported rape; unreported because I was younger, not strong enough to take on a whole southern bible belt misogynistic culture that I saw penalize other women for speaking up. Unreported because I didn't have the foresight to think about the other women that could be affected, I was simply trying to survive within the tribe, I didn't want to be expelled, alone, more susceptible than I already was. Disappointingly, I watched the mockery by a president, and the laughter by his tribe, taking delight in the cruelty, the misfortune of another.

Adam Serwer recently wrote an article in The Atlantic, The Cruelty is the Point. He closed, "
Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them."

I have been wondering about the health, survival of our democracy, wondered if I should leave conservation work to return to my previous passion of equality, return to that research. Because the same physical assault I experienced back in Texas, I have experienced metaphorically here in Montana dealing with conservation. Not just by enemies, but also by allies, or at least people you work with and think are allies. Ron Moody warned me when I first began EMWH, "You will not be able to make it, it is a good ole boys club here, you are an outsider and a woman to boot." I disagreed, felt that my ability to research,
my passion for the public trust would override my gender. But, I have been questioning whether Ron Moody was correct, and trust me, this has been hard, because I am a determined person, I don't easily give up. The reality is, when you are repeatedly, intentionally marginalized by "allies"; when conservation leaders surgically cut you out of a coalition and yell they are going to get the credit, which is not what any of this should be about; when funding is attacked so that you can't function; or you are being publicly maligned by "allies", especially as a woman, to cut off your networking - then what is the point?

I don't believe in zero sum game theory, especially as a woman. I don't believe that for me or EMWH to succeed, some other conservationist or organization has to fail. That is a very patriarchal Indo-European construct that is so embedded in our culture that most aren't even aware of it unless it is pointed out. I believe in the synergy: the interaction of two or more forces, so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects. Which is why I always promote others, link to their opeds, their books, their events and websites. I felt we were the greater for it, stronger for it. It may be time for me to get out of conservation.

I expect opposition or delays in this line of work, that is a given. Teased once about not being a bulldog, but a three-headed hound from hell, I kept pushing through. Like with the recent work on getting the Gianforte assault case files. I put that request back in April. They waited until the last day it could remain on the docket before ruling on it. Then they ruled that I could not disseminate the files, which had already been released to several other sources. Then the Gianforte interview was missing from the CD. Then I was told that it wasn't just missing from the CD< but was missing when it went before the Judge, so that had to send it back to her to be ruled on. It has been months while I have to tried to attack the "dissemination" issue, lack of returned calls, emails and attempts at reaching attorneys to advise.

Finally, I was referred to Attorney Kim Wilson, who graciously took this on pro bono ( I just have to pay for any court costs), he filed a motion for dissemination the other day. With absentee ballots already mailed, time is not on my side. I already have the webpage set up with connecting information, waiting to upload the files. There is more to this than the assault of just one journalist, as bad as that is.

Especially, in light of the Trump's rally in Missoula last night, where he publicly praised Gianforte for body slamming a journalist. I watched the full video, I watched again when his tribe cheered the cruelty, the misfortune of another, seriously questioning, "Is this what we have become, gallows humor, lacking in human rights and empathy?" I didn't see a correction by Gianforte at the rally, I didn't hear him admonish the crowd for laughing, I haven't seen a post on his twitter feed or an article stating he was wrong to bodly slam and punch the press.

This is why I have been fighting to get those records, so you could hear for yourself the statements by the eye witness journalists, hear their fear for doing their job, that it could have been them; hear the views of his campaign workers, their views on the press.

I am surprised to not be reading an article about shooting violence breaking out at the rally, since tribal mob provocateur and former Republican State Chair, Will Deschamps Sr. issued a warning to protesters, "far, far-left antagonistic groups...This is a concealed & open carry state & we know how to use em."

Speaking of violent mobs, attorney Karen Budd Fallon, who defended Cliven Bundy and "Federal Overreach"  was appointed one of the Department of Interior's top litigators - she expects to work on legal issues: Endangered Species Act, National Park Service & national monuments.

And speaking of the Bundys, there was a conference in Whitefish, Montana, "A New Code of the West", the rebranding of their sagebrush rebellion bullshit. The Public Lands occupy leader, shared the stage with state  Rep. politicians, including Montana Rep. Kerry White. They opposed the environment, federal land management, and stated the federal government was constitutionally illegitimate. Don't forget, Rep. Kerry White was going to join in on the original Bundy incident, posted to his facebook page. Our Public Lands belong to all of us and as paid for by the public taxes, they deserve federal management and federal oversight/accountability.

And speaking of our federal government oversight, DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke just fired the Interior acting inspector general. New replacement Tufts will now handle the oversight of investigations into Zinke - which now number 14.

If all this doesn't put the fear of fascism into you... Please, for Democracy's and human rights' sake, vote. Don't forget the importance of Supreme Court, district court, local judges and justice of the peace who make rulings like my bloody Gianforte case files. Vote for a congressional representative, which we only get one of, who will uphold the rule of law, not body slamming and punching our Free Press. Vote for a senator who doesn't want to sell off or transfer your public lands, yeah, that would be Tester. Vote Yes on I-186 for Responsible mining in Montana. Don't be deceived by the language on LR-129 Ballot Interference Prevention Act, trying to take away vote collection assistance for remote Native Americans, the disabled, rural areas, students, nursing homes and hospitals. This is yet another attempt to curtail our vote and democracy.

If you have questions about candidates on your ballot? Use the Follow the Money database.  Click the left side green "Start Here"> Contributions To or Contributions From> Specific Contributor> type Last Name, First Name> Go> check "Record" + "Candidate" boxes  
There is a lot at stake this election, please don't be a spectator. Be a participant in our Democracy.

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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Antidotes, Science and Free Press

"Why is it so easy for the few in power to govern the many?"
~ David Hume
On The Trail Podcast

Trail Signs - Staying Engaged

In this episode we are going to be laying some groundwork – Trail signs if you will, because things are not always as they seem, and sometimes, there is outright deception and manipulation going on. Forewarned is forearmed.

Trail Signs assists in laying the groundwork of what I will be building on in almost all the future episodes of this podcast, signposts along the trails, which will include a diverse array of interviews. So I would like to share a trail I have been on for the last 4 years now, involving communication psychology; to help you to see what I saw and continue to see, once the warning signs were pointed out.

First I cover Antidote To Apathy - a 2008 TedTalk by Dave Meslin. Meslin re-examines apathy, explaining most is a complex web of intentional obstructions that reinforce disengagement.

Next I cover Noam Chomsky's 10 Strategies of Manipulation by the Media.

Then we follow up with a retired CIA military analyst's suggestions on coping and boundaries, because we can't just give up.

Finally, I share a clip of an interview, Path to Authoritarianism, with historian and author Timothy Snyder - checks and balances, we can all do something.

Fracking is destroying U.S. water supply, warns shocking new study

An alarming new study reveals fracking is quite simply destroying America’s water supply.

That means we are losing potable water forever in many semi-arid regions of the country, while simultaneously producing more carbon pollution that in turn is driving ever-worsening droughts in those same regions, as fracking expert Anthony Ingraffea, a professor at Cornell University, explained to ThinkProgress.

The game-changing study from Duke University found that “from 2011 to 2016, the water use per well increased up to 770 percent.” In addition, the toxic wastewater produced in the first year of production jumped up to 1440 percent.

Journalists Are Not The Enemy - Boston Globe Call To Action

After a number of their staff were gunned down, the Boston Globe put out a call to action from other members of the press for editorials expressing that Democracy needs a free press and journalists are not the enemy of the American people. More than 400 responded, more coming in. The Boston Globe set up this webpage with not just their editorial, but housing links to all the others, including an interactive map. So far, Bozeman Chronicle is the first for Montana. Please take some time to read through the inspiring and much needed perspectives that our Democracy needs a Free Press and journalists are not the enemy of the American people.

Which brings up an update. After reviewing my audio files from the Gianforte assault of a journalist case, I found that the file for the on scene interviews, which included the only interview Gianforte gave, was missing. After contacting Gallatin County to have it sent to me, on Aug. 6th, I was told that it wasn't just missing from the CD sent to me, but was missing from the documents sent to Judge Holly Brown for approval to be released, so they have to put that file before her for release. I was told this should not take as long as the original request, which was about 3 months. As soon as I receive the missing file, I will be able to launch the page with all the information.

Science under Trump Voices of Scientists across 16 Federal Agencies Report - 63,000 scientific experts employed by the federal government surveyed by Union of Concerned Scientists.

"The results should be disturbing to anyone who believes that government science has a crucial role to play in making the United States a safer, healthier nation. Federal scientists describe a broad range of problems, including workforce cuts, censorship and self-censorship, political interference, and undue industry influence. Unsurprisingly, these problems have taken a toll on morale, making it hard for scientists to do their jobs effectively."

Beneficial sagebrush, juniper under assault on federal lands by retired USFS Sara Johnson
"There is no other conifer species that rivals the dense foliage provided by juniper trees, which provide hiding and thermal cover for elk and deer as well as high-quality cover for birds during bad weather, including heavy rainstorms in the summer, and fall/winter/spring snow storms."

Another unique value of juniper trees is their production of up to 20,000 juniper berries per meter squared. Theses berries provide a high energy food source for wildlife in the fall when insects have died out and are also available to birds in the winter in spite of deep snows.

Ravalli Commissioners insult, attack Montanans
"We are four of the Ravalli County residents pictured in the yard signs and billboard that hold our county commissioners accountable for dismissing their constituents who want to have a say in the future of our public lands, especially our wilderness study areas (WSAs).

Last week, the Ravalli Commissioners sent a letter to Attorney General Tim Fox asking him to investigate a list of Montana-based conservation and sportsmen groups for unspecified reasons, groups to which we belong. Our Land, Our Legacy - a group of Montanans defending the state’s WSAs - is on that list. With support from Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, The Wilderness Society and National Wildlife Federation, Our Land, Our Legacy sponsored the yard signs and billboard."

Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat

Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Helena, MT