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200px-The_Searchers.jpgWe all go through various phases with our relatives -- of understanding, compassion and perspective. There was a time in my late teens and early 20s when I couldn't abide my grandfather. Then, to me, he was a racist, sexist relic. My mom had taught me that respect for elders was not a given (she thought that unquestioned acquiescence led to authoritarianism), that respect was meant to be mutually earned regardless of age. This is why I didn't understand her continued reverence for him as he criticized her for hiring a neighbor boy to shovel the walk for her after she broke one of her ribs (it wasn't her leg, by God!) or her expectation when he breezed into town unannounced during finals week (I was an undergrad in summer school) that I would join the two of them for dinner rather than study. Couldn't he call ahead? Wait until after my exam? It would never occur to him to enter my schedule into his decision-making factors.

When we did meet for dinner it was at an Asian Fusion sort of restaurant called the Mustard Seed. At one point during the meal he gazed around the room and loudly declared with awe and disgust, "Boy there sure are a lot of fat people in here." Sure that one of the targets of his comment at a nearby table had heard, I was mortified. This was one of the many prejudices that he was open about. In general he freely used racial epithets, still carrying the WWII-era perception of "Japs." He was surprised that there were none there since we were at an Asian restaurant.

During all phases of my relationship to him, my Grandfather reminded me of the caricature of John Wayne -- tough, looming large, self-reliant. He was among the last of the "real cowboys" who earned their living out on the range and then went on to become a Montana rancher.  He was over 6 feet tall, charismatic, and when in his element possessed a sureness and decisiveness that I've come across in few other people. The general reverence for him and lore around his life made his presence larger than life in our family always -- he never hired anyone to do anything he could do himself, worked every day of his life that he could, created a cattle empire with his wits and a fourth grade education, in his 70s crawled a mile through the snow with collapsed lungs and a broken back after a tree fell on him and then drove home opening 4 barbed wire gates along the way, etc.  I considered him our own personal John Wayne since he shaped my family's views about self-reliance, individualism and discipline so completely that no one could even identify them as values -- they just were part of our unspoken expectations (ones whose questioning led to inevitable conflict and change over the years).

Despite this overpowering association (and maybe because of it) I had never actually seen a John Wayne movie until watching The Searchers the other night. I don't call many movies weird, but it is: disjointed, blatantly but self-consciously racist, contradictory, inconsistent in tone, filled with unrealistic battle scenes, magnificently beautiful, and peppered with great and terrible acting (the Yankee soldier! Why?). Apparently it's widely considered the best American western. There's so much subtext, it's hard to know what to think of it. But John Wayne's character, Ethan, is unquestionably intolerable. He's vilely racist, sadistic, vindictive and generally awful. Though equipped with many of the skills necessary to rescue a niece captured by the Comanches from his post-Civil War settler relatives (he fought for the Confederacy), he's really the last person you'd want to go on a five-year search with.

Really, I didn't know what to think of the film or how it related to my Grandfather. As much as he reminded me of John Wayne, he was also like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, with boundless energy, a sense of fun, and a tendency to break into song at unexpected moments. He was also very charming. Though openly racist, I couldn't imagine him harboring any racism so hateful as Wayne's Ethan character (who would rather kill his niece than allow her to continue living with the Comanche like she wants). So I did what I always do after seeing a movie, and started poking around Wikipedia for background and review links.

Roger Ebert's struck a chord:

In ''The Searchers'' I think Ford was trying, imperfectly, even nervously, to depict racism that justified genocide; the comic relief may be an unconscious attempt to soften the message. Many members of the original audience probably missed his purpose; Ethan's racism was invisible to them, because they bought into his view of Indians. Eight years later, in ''Cheyenne Autumn,'' his last film, Ford was more clear. But in the flawed vision of ''The Searchers'' we can see Ford, Wayne and the Western itself, awkwardly learning that a man who hates Indians can no longer be an uncomplicated hero.

Wow. Soon after reading those words I had an epiphany about my relationship to my grandfather and to the United States' complicated history, relationships which were in many ways a reverse of the Western genre's trajectory. I began only being able to see flaws, exclusions and imperfections -- the multiple ways in which the protector-of-the-world America that I had been taught to admire as a child had never lived up to its own ideals, and was acting in direct contradiction to them. It was hard to be enthusiastically patriotic when patriotism seemed in so many ways tangled with nostalgia for America as the Western hero that we could not question. National discourse during my formative years (80s and early 90s) made patriotism and genuine moral engagement with our bloody and ugly past seem mutually exclusive.  Similarly, how was I to resolve the fact that my grandfather was (as far as I knew) a man of integrity within his sphere (i.e., didn't cheat people in business, treated his neighbors well), and accomplished in so many ways, but who really did believe that I was less of a person because I was female, and wouldn't have been able to tolerate most of the people I knew?

I don't want to give the impression that over time I learned to become tolerant of prejudice in general or any prejudices specifically. It's not as though I would have once condemned the Western hero and now embrace him. Rather, I became able to see my grandfather as an individual in a particular historical time and place.

Also, over time, I began to see ways that I could remain vigilant against my own prejudices and critical of our current and historical exclusions and injustices, and still patriotically celebrate American ideals. 

The shift with my grandfather partly took place through my reading Mildred Walker's Winter Wheat, which takes place during WWII in an area not far from where my grandparents ranched from the late 1960s onward.  It's now been at least 14 years since I read it, so I don't remember it well -- though I know it had anti-fascist themes. Most of all, it made me fall in love with the Eastern Montana landscape, which gave me a way to connect with my grandfather.

He had read the book and loved it too -- it was something he and my aunt shared. Now I was curious and interested in him and his life in a way that translated as respect -- I never knew that he sought my curiosity and interest and that without them I had always been disrespectful without meaning to be. On visits he was now eager to take me out to see his land. Rolling along hills in his SUV, we would drive over 10-foot-tall pine trees and they would spring back up like dandelions underfoot. He would describe destroying knapweed using spent engine oil. Clearly my feeling of connection to the land was different from his (I didn't eat much red meat or use any type of herbicide). To him the land was the cattle, and if a tree stood in the way of his showing them to Mom and me, or if the invasive knapweed threatened to overtake their nutrition, he would do what it took. He was proud of his herd, and the tens of thousands of acres they ran on, because they were his achievement.

His father lost everything when the hotel he built burned down. His mother abandoned the family when he was young, leaving the care of numerous children to his father (my mom says that when Kenny Rogers' "Lucile" came on the radio, he would switch it off). He survived the Depression and worked as a miner in Butte during WWII. He built a hotel in Billings which my mother ran while attending high school and taking care of her 6-year-old younger sister; the rest of the family lived hours away on the ranch. His goal in life was to succeed where his father wasn't able to and leave his children financially comfortable -- girls too, which apparently is still a rare practice among ranching families.

So, no, I now understood, a man who expected his 15-year-old daughter to run a motel on her own while caring for her younger sister would not be someone to make sure that my finals schedule coincided with his travel plans.  By the end of his life, a couple of years later, we had a relationship that was closer than I could have imagined. It was harder than anything for him to be laid up with the cancer that claimed him -- it embarrassed him to be seen incapacitated and weak. (Incidentally, his insensitive and inappropriate interjections may have been related to Aspergers Syndrome, a possibility a 20th century cowboy would not likely have explored.) My last memory of him is of carrying his great-granddaughter in to see him (she was around 3) and his just being in awe of her and smiling and wistfully saying to us, "You're so young, so full of life." I love his region and that land because of its beauty, my childhood summers there, because it shaped my mother, and because he's a part of it now.

The act of loving land is not some sort of timeless, ahistorical virtue. My love of the landscape, and appreciation of what my grandfather's life's work provided, is tempered by the history of the West in general, and the knowledge that other people crossed his acres freely before there was barbed wire.  He was able to acquire them because of his personal talents and initiative, but also because of characteristics he didn't choose. It would have been difficult or impossible for non-whites to have been able to get the credit and engage in the deal-making necessary, and certainly for a woman of any race. He at one time built wealth by leasing land from the Northern Cheyenne to run his cattle.  

Since our lives have been under siege (and our opportunities methodically, systematically limited), it's been difficult to clearly think about what my individual responsibility is as someone who has had opportunities because of this sort of personal/material history. The key seems to be being able to ask the question "What can I do?" Further formulation of the question and the route to the answers are a work in progress.

In many ways, my grandfather probably was a protector of Mom and me. If he were still alive, we would have had someone to help shield us from all of the Montana lawlessness and charlatanism. But we don't have our own personal John Wayne. We just have to have faith in the possibility of fairness, justice and tolerance of critical patriotism in the 21-st Century West. 

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lady-justice.jpgIf my Senator is co-sponsoring the Justice Bill, he should be into protecting citizens of his own state from ongoing and pervasive civil liberties violations.

I don't have any sort of rescue fantasies, but wonder, who will have the courage and fortitude to help us out of this mess and ensure that no one has to endure anything like it again? If not my Senators (will Baucus demonstrate that he's not completely owned?), then who? Is there a Serpico in our midst? The UN? I mean, it's ridiculous. I've written so many letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience, and now I'm going on 2.5 years of virtual imprisonment in the U.S. I have to believe that someone out there cares more about justice and integrity than membership in an unprincipled patronage system. The reason the U.S. is assumed to be so great is because we supposedly don't need international observers or rescuers to swoop in and save its citizens from one another. Right?

Dear Senators Tester and Baucus,

I write because I need your assistance to combat pervasive and intractable corruption in our state. My mother and I have encountered judicial malfeasance, unfathomable corruption of the legal profession, and discriminatory, untruthful local law enforcement. We believe these overall gross violations of our rights have been made possible by lax regulation of intelligence contractors and agencies working in tandem with local agencies. In response to FOIA requests, I got the runaround from the FBI and a “Glomar” response from the NSA. The civil rights attorney I hired to help me ended up lying about which agencies he contacted and withholding documents. My mother and I cannot fight such insidious and pervasive interference in our lives alone.

We need the help of senators who are not afraid to upset the current balance of cronyism in Montana.  We are targets of entrenched Republican and Democrat interests seemingly because of our sex, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) and political affiliations and activities. It is very possible that local polluting industries have funded interference in my life at one time or another for at least ten years simply because I was part of a campaign to work with the union and management at Stone Container to stop poisonous dioxin emissions in our valley.

If you are courageous men who are not hemmed by the coal or any other lobby, if you are men who believe that human and civil rights extend to all people in your state and not just the back scratching elite, then please step up and help us. The current strategy seems to be to make the administrative and legal processes of seeking assistance so drawn out and impossible as to drain all of our energy and financial resources. We need men of conscience who truly believe in the best of democratic and republican ideals to keep their compact with the electorate and not the entrenched interests of a corrupt few.

About a year ago, I contacted Senator Tester and described some of the gross violations of my and my mother’s civil rights and liberties. He suggested that I contact local law enforcement. After many more months of harassment, and actual and attempted harm to our persons and property, we did finally contact the Missoula Police Department. We have come up against lies, evasion, and overall discriminatory treatment. Again, we need the help of individuals in a position of power who will use the position that the people of Montana have entrusted them with to take a stand against corruption and cronyism. Every effort is being made to ensure that we cannot do it on our own.

I request that representatives from each of your offices contact me so that we can find a way to work together to ensure that my mother and I emerge from this morass in one piece, and that no citizen of this state will ever have to endure such politically- and socially-motivated hijacking of supposedly neutral local and federal agencies again.

Senator Tester, as a co-sponsor of the Justice Act, I believe it would be unconscionable to leave two citizens of your state who have seemingly been victims of Patriot Act Excesses out in the cold.  We could easily serve as “poster children” for the necessity of reform. Please show us that your commitment to constitutional safeguards is more than mere talk.

Respectfully,


Kyeann Sayer

Did RAND Brand Me a "Terrorist"?

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21278.jpgCommuting in Los Angeles is an experiment. Just when you think you have a routine down that gets you home in under an hour, there's a surprise. You could find yourself cruising down the 10 and then suddenly at a standstill: that's right, Lakers at the Staples Center. As you're unexpectedly moving at a snail's pace one August morning you remember that it's time for the UCLA kids to clog the freeways and your commute time will double for the next four months. Many days accidents were the culprit. Often I would rely on a web site dedicated to traffic reporting to know when I should go home -- that such web sites exist illustrate how much traffic jams affect all of our lives every day.

Unpredictable, snarling traffic could be fodder for many an ethical discussion. If an ambulance can't reach me because of Lakers traffic, are the Lakers responsible? The Staples Center? The city planners?

The death and destruction related to automobiles is normal to us. There were 41,059 traffic-related fatalities in the US in 2007 alone. We've clearly collectively decided that this astounding loss of life is acceptable in our auto-centric culture.

Sometime while working with RAND I was at dinner discussing this with an acquaintance who worked in the office next to me. I'm not sure he was actually a friend. I believe he worked for Bruce Hoffman on some terrorism-related research but it could have been Brian Michael Jenkins -- I don't remember. He might have just been eliciting comments, as I now realize so many did in those years. We discussed Critical Mass, the bicycle protests where bicyclists flood the streets apparently to create an experience for drivers similar to the one they face every day. I had never taken part in one and am very unlikely to because I can barely ride a bike.  He said that people shouldn't take part because if they did, they might be responsible for emergency services not being able to get through to someone in need.

I agree that would be terrible, and if I were a part of any large event that was the obvious culprit in preventing someone from getting essential medical care I'd feel awful. But traffic is so random. We don't consider a Lakers game a terrorist event when the traffic jams caused by it result in delays in all our lives -- in emergency situations or not. So, people involved in Critical Mass, who are on their bicycles, on the street to point out how violent and destructive our car culture is (not only in terms of direct destruction of human life, but astronomical CO2 levels that affect not just local communities but the whole planet) should be held to some higher standard of responsibility because their purpose for being on the street en mass biking is political in nature? What about jams caused by political conventions? It's complicated territory.

At that restaurant in that moment in time I thought that taking the risk to take part in such a demonstration despite the fact that a concurrent fateful act might make it difficult to get an ambulance through would be worth it because overall it might draw attention to the manner in which our reliance on cars kills so many. But it was all hypothetical, because, as I alluded, I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 21 and barely can. I had not intention of ever taking part in Critical Mass.

You would have thought I had approved of the most heinous atrocities known to man. By the end of that conversation my companion could barely look at me, and didn't speak to me much again. At first I thought it might have been simply that he was not used to being disagreed with, but came to believe that my comments about Critical Mass seemed to completely change his view of me -- like, change my category from nice friendly person to "bad person".

Chief Muir's "Insincerity" Narrative

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Chief Muir sent me a letter dated July 10 (postmarked July 13) in response to the email below. It is the first communication in which he has provided any specific information about how he would prefer to receive evidence and documentation.

Yet, the new tactic is to make it look like I'm simply not supplying evidence and only like to argue. When I've been waiting for procedural preferences as well as assurance that someone other than Chief Muir will bear responsibility for reviewing the information I submit. This man's first substantive communication with me involved warnings to keep quiet about my claims that the department was mishandling our situation. Since that first interaction, he hasn't given me much of a reason to trust him.

For example, I stated these concerns about Chief Muir's defending the legitimacy of Sergeant Richardson's actions in his last letter.

You claim that a general prohibition on contacting the neighbors in any way is not "bizarre." What legal or department procedural policy allows a police officer to instruct a citizen not to communicate in any way with her neighbors -- without indicating which neighbors or citing specific complaints from any of them?  I provided ample documentation of harassment from neighbors to Sergeant Richardson -- has he instructed them not to contact us? Have they provided any evidence or documentation of our supposed harassment of them? My understanding is that I need to file a restraining order against anyone whom I don't wish to contact me, and that I need to have documentation to do so. It seems discriminatory to take their concerns seriously, but not ours -- especially when we are the ones who initiated contact with your department. Please clarify.
His response?

I will reply to your third point upon receipt and review of your evidence, as I am unable to knowledgeably respond without that evidence.

What? He is unable to make a statement about legality and department policy? He can't answer these specific questions? He can't provide clarification on the restraining order issue? He doesn't have access to the information supplied to Sergeant Richardson?

Is putting off responding to these very answerable questions (albeit uncomfortable, because they reveal some pretty fuzzy/shoddy procedure), because he believes that I for some reason will not be in a position to supply all of the documentation and evidence? I'll be too distracted, perhaps?

You've gotta love the way he ends his letter:

I do not understand why you have not already brought me the evidence which you so repeatedly have insisted we accept from you. If for some reason you have been insincere as to your intent to share your evidence with me, please feel free to cease communication and seek the assistance of state or federal authorities...
Is there anything about my communication that seems insincere? Seriously? As though I wouldn't sincerely want to help law enforcement to punish the people who have relentlessly harassed and intimidated us? I'm sorry, but that seems like a very insincere tack.

My major concern has been wanting a procedure in place that makes sense.  My entire life has been derailed by this harassment campaign, and documenting it all takes time and energy. A proper process is important, as it sets the framework for how these matters are handled. I guess it will be necessary to file individual reports for every single incident and send copies to his attention. I think that the department's obligations are more extensive if an actual report is filed, so it seems necessary to do so. Of course, It's going to take a lot of time to file all of these individual reports. To me it makes complete sense why a person in my position wouldn't just hand over all of her documentation and information to someone who has revealed himself to be less than objective or trustworthy and isn't accountable to anyone else in the department.

So, here we have local law enforcement playing into the goals of the overall campaign: creating such overwhelming and pervasive harassment as to halt someone's life to a standstill. Right now we are in a position of having to provide documentation to the health department, lawyers, insurance agents, the doctor's office that I have to follow up with constantly to ensure that they don't send paid accounts to collections, the police department, and others. By not answering questions, not volunteering appropriate information, and taking an overall defensive posture, I have to work overtime to figure out my rights and how our evidence will avoid slipping through the cracks. I am the victim of stalking and harassment and attempted entrapment, and have been preemptively treated as the perpetrator. I wonder if they treat all stalking victims this way or if we're special.

So, when there are all of those people out there waiting for information who have an investment in making it seems as though it doesn't exist or that we're making it up, I always pause when a key person like the police chief portrays my lack of immediate reaction as "insincere." (Especially when -- again -- I've repeatedly emphasized an overall desire for a process that ensures accountability and efficiency.) I've learned that such a rhetorical turn usually indicates a narrative is forming: in this case it seems to be the "insincerity" narrative. Something like, "Those ladies, they like to make claims, but they never follow up." But we have been put in a position where we need to document nearly every business and consumer interaction in order to protect ourselves. For heaven's sake, we just found out last week that we avoided an incompetency hearing for my mother! (This letter was written before that matter had been decided -- maybe he thought we'd still be overwhelmed by that.) That's the a central goal of a harassment campaign like the one we've endured: complete and utter disruption of a person's life in such a way that is difficult to document and makes him or her seem to be the party at fault. So the Department preemptively does not want to see it as though we're dealing with constant criminal assaults, but are simply insincere and withholding. Wow.

I can see why he admonishes, "Please don't continue to haggle or dispute this department's handling of your complaints, it is just taking time away from determining the validity of those issues you feel we aren't addressing." His emphasis takes legitimacy away from the importance of the process. If I'm just haggling, then apparently I'm not expressing legitimate concerns about Chief Muir's neutrality and the objective handling of my case. Then I'm a haggler, not someone who wants to be assured that if she takes the time to amass piles of narrative and documentation that it's not going to end up in the back of the Police Chief's filing cabinet. Also, since the situation has obviously been completely mishandled, I can see why he would discourage me from continuing to point out inconsistent or discriminatory procedure.

Interestingly, I copied Chief Muir on a letter to our neighbor's landlords dated June 4, but he seems to have never seen it. It was the basis of Sergeant Richardson's contacting me. Strange that even now he has not forwarded Chief Muir a copy of the letter.

I'm also concerned about Chief Muir's ability to accurately interpret clear written communication. In response to my concerns about David Merrill making extortion-like threats, he says that "Threats of legal action or law enforcement investigation is not a threat upon which any criminal charge may be undertaken." But I said clearly:

if my mother did not pay him a certain amount, he indicated that he would circumvent legal channels and sic the police department on us.

Does Chief Muir not understand the meaning of "circumventing legal channels"? The point about Mr. Merrill was that he did not threaten legal action, as would have been appropriate. He should have gone through appropriate legal channels. Instead he said that if he was not paid a certain amount of money, he would call the police, in addition to other threats. He knew that we were fearful of law enforcement's involvement with our harassment at that time -- the threat seemed designed to scare us. As you can see below, I indicate clearly that the problem was that he was not using appropriate legal remedy but threatening to use the police as enforcers for his demand for money.

Then, there are little niggling annoying things. I asked for follow-up on Mom's report filed re: the neighbor's assault. He can't follow up with me because it would violate her privacy. Great -- completely valid. But, why not follow up with her directly? His department's mishandling of the situation contributed to incident's even taking place. One would think that the department could follow up with her within a month's time. And, my asking about it would at least alert them to the fact that our household is interested in the outcome... And might prompt a follow-up. But we haven't heard anything. (Waiting for her to be declared incompetent, perhaps?)

Another thing: he says not to submit evidence that's over a year old. But if it's part of ongoing criminal conspiracy, isn't it still valid/valuable? Or would the state attorney need to handle that? This is where I find the handling problematic. It seems that it's being viewed/handled in the narrowest possible terms, with the least amount of helpful information provided. Of course, it would be lovely to have a civil rights attorney that wasn't for sale. We don't have that luxury yet. But we will. And when that day comes it seems like the Department will want to have lent the appearance legitimacy.

You may ask: why do you take the time to write these posts? Well, if I didn't, I believe the next door neighbors would have remained in full on campaign mode and that Chief Muir wouldn't even be giving me lip service.

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Chief Muir Agrees to Review Evidence!

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fireworks parade 1894.jpgYay. Chief Muir wrote a very conscientious letter indicating that he and another investigator will review our evidence.

Bright side: all of this has been an incredible learning experience and promises to reveal so much about the workings of local and state government. I know how dorky that sounds, but we've been living in this state of helplessness with the never ending COINTELPRO-like life disruption. It not only felt impossible to make any headway with local officials because of the general mistrust engendered by the sheer volume of people who were convinced to make life difficult for us. But also, when dealing constantly in fight or flight mode, it was difficult to get a handle on how to advocate for ourselves in spite of the overall terror/harassment. Until last week, I had no idea how to file a police report or make a report to the health department. Today I do.

Now just being aware of some of the local laws that individuals have broken, and the steps to take to remedy them, is empowering. There were probably many things that we could have done to make the harassment more difficult, and to create accountability, but we didn't know them. If we didn't, then I don't think many people do have much of a handle on how to advocate for themselves.

If I hadn't been creating some form of public accountability through my blog, I might not be in the position to get at least lip service to a genuine look at what we've been through in this jurisdiction. We know what a sorry state the world would be in if only windbags with blogs got a hint of justice. (Why reporters haven't long ago exposed a fraction of the people who have attempted to mess with us is a question deserving serious consideration.)

There's a ton of work to be done! We have these rights because we are American and if we don't know how to claim them we are just screwed by the greedy and brutish. This Independence Day I am grateful to be in this beautifully imagined but imperfect country, getting up everyday and giving substance to the notion of inalienable rights. For the foreseeable future that will mean trudging through slow, long legal and law enforcement processes. 

Again, I hate to be cheesy, but there is something really beautiful about the idea that all of our sufferings and efforts might make things easier for another Montanan or other American. I am typing now because others have fought and died and suffered much more terribly than I ever have -- on the battlefield and in the struggles for free speech and civil liberties/rights. It's humbling to think that maybe a small bit of our efforts will enable some woman or man to suffer in front of the future's version of a keyboard generations from now. Or help those who don't know that luxury.

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400px-SalemWitchcraftTrial.jpgI guess few people have the opportunity to witness judicial corruption up close, so I'll look at what my mother and I endured at the hands of Judge Robert Deschamps yesterday as a unique opportunity to understand the abuse of power.

We knew that questioning witnesses under oath would open the door to testimony surrounding participation in the harassment/criminal conspiracy we have endured. We didn't realize just how important it was that the facts not come out in open court. Apparently, the testimony and facts would have been much more damning than anyone could have imagined, because the judge assured that we would not be able to present a case.

Something is obviously fishy when any of the following happen -- not to mention all. A judge has allowed Jeffrey Doud, the counsel who was caught lying, withholding documents, and taking action without his client's informed consent, to withdraw without notice or providing the opportunity to find alternate counsel. Subsequently the judge does not allow the defendant to in any way remedy the lawyer's misconduct. The judge does not allow a defendant to name an expert witness. He allows opposing counsel Tim Geiszler to have another unrecognized attorney file motions (because doing so himself would have disallowed the attorney of record any claims of deniability about Steve Loken's fabricated bills and documents) even though doing so is clearly a violation of procedure. In general, he flat out, just fragrantly ignores procedure because doing so is favorable to the plaintiff. He allows the trial to move forward when there has been no pretrial order filed. Really, he observes procedure completely arbitrarily. Procedure that is Montana Code -- the Code that we are all meant to observe because it is the law that governs us all.

Getting on the Right Side of History

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11_-Hollar-Nuremberg.jpgAll of those quaking in fear of Obama’s supposed dictatorial/Socialist impulses should feel unsettled today. His waffling “indefinite detention” stance, as far as I can tell, still allows “enemy combatants” to be detained without charge. (I don’t know the specifics of how this relates to the Military Commissions Act – will wait for more analysis to better understand. But as far as I know any U.S. citizen could still be subject to Gitmo-like limbo detention.) Rather than keeping us safe, this ongoing half repudiation of the last administration’s inhumane and unconstitutional policies means that we and future generations are all still vulnerable to the excesses of unfettered executive privilege.

Under a bad (but not worst) case scenario, Obama and his cabinet could become paranoid about, oh, say, potential homegrown terrorism based on recent Homeland Security reporting about right wing extremist threats.  Or there could be a right wing extremist attack much more spectacular than the church shootings, clinic bombings and community massacres that we’ve become accustomed to. Just as the last administration ignored the 4th amendment rights of every single US resident by monitoring all of our electronic communications, 2nd amendment rights could conceivably go out the window with as much ease if we are terrified into a state of hysteria because of the actions of a few NRA members. (Montanans are actually stocking up on guns as if they were swine flu vaccine.)

The specter of unchecked executive power should unite all of us in a nonpartisan desire to investigate (and if necessary prosecute) the abuses of the last administration. Though I don’t believe the above Obama scenario is anything to fear, that belief is based on faith. It shouldn’t be. All of us should go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that constitutional guarantees will be enforced -- no matter which party helms the White House. That’s why we must demand truth, transparency, and justice.

I don’t know yet what type of commission or investigation would be best. I’m still trying to work out how to deal with my own lack of 4th amendment rights and ongoing conspiracy against my rights and illegal detention. I do know that it’s hard for anyone (intelligence analyst, senator, flooring contractor, insurance agent) to admit to being wrong.  People who were convinced to take action based on manufactured intelligence, or reluctantly submitted to cronyism, now have the chance to decide whether cowardly self-preservation is more important than truth and justice.  It’s never too late to get on the right side of history.
 
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Confessions of a Former Eco-Flack: Part 2

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200px-Cache_Haneke.jpgThis continues a discussion about my adventures in Eco-Flackdom.

The green/ethical consumer movement is very promising. It shows just how many people want to make a difference with their purchasing power. However, as long as making a difference stays in the domains of consumer trends and personal ambition, well-meaning impulses can easily be co-opted by polluting industries or those with an anti-science agenda.

 It's not that the green businesses or consumers shouldn't be doing their thing, it's that they need to constantly think critically about the information they get, and make sure that they remain citizens first and consumers second. The last 30+ years of environmental history have shown us that it's easy for those who make a career or hobby out of environmental advocacy to lose site of people with less access to educational opportunity or resources to make their communities clean and safe. 

For me, the shift from Environmental Consumer to Citizen resulted from a combination of the TreeHugger breaching, crazy domestic spying/terrorism, and watching a Movie called Cache. I saw that if we failed to take care of each other by protecting one another's rights, our environmental concerns might prove meaningless.

Tolerating Religious Diversity vs. Endorsing Terrorism

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drawing.jpgWhen you’ve been terrorized by a group of people, how do you refuse to tolerate their tactics without losing sight of their humanity? Before spending a lot of time discussing this on Monday I didn’t realize that this was a central question I’d been grappling with.

For a long while, each interaction with individual participants in the anti-Kyeann and Mom terror campaign was painfully taxing. How could this person hate me bad enough to poison my food? Try to upset me while cutting my hair? Ridicule me based on private information he never should have been able to access? Take part in an entrapment scheme? Place listening or viewing devices in my home? Stalk me?

There have been a variety of players with a variety of motivations but it’s clear that there is a small army of extreme right wing zealots in our city, ready to be activated to terrorize people when given the go-ahead. It’s also clear that in our case this is a culmination of years of ideologically based harassment. What they have taken part in recently is the dictionary definition of terrorism: “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”

Confessions of a Former Eco-Flack: Part 1

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Snake_oil_salesman_small.jpgTwo years ago, before the Orwellian nightmare kicked into full effect, I was becoming reasonably happy with the life that was taking shape. Somehow, both my mother and I were repeatedly bouncing back from all of the covert manipulation and interference that we did not realize was coordinated. I would find myself driving down Montana's Bitterrot Valley to pick up a side of beef one week, and riding a New York subway the next. I loved the "city mouse/country mouse" dichotomies and constant movement -- my plan was to set up a three-city Missoula/New York/Paris existence, writing about eco-fashion and leading eco-fashion and other tours.

Ironically, if the people who had been trying to destroy my life left me alone to take that path, I would likely have just created a lovely existence in the eco-PR bubble. My thesis might not have focused on faux post-environmentalism. I wouldn't have understood the limitations of my well-intentioned but misguided focus on image-making as the route to social change. I wouldn't have finally begun to break out of the inadvertent racism that kept me frozen, unable to understand what small part I could play in redressing injustices that I had not created.

Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Democracy category.

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