Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Now Brown Cow

Ed Furillo: The three of us, New Mexico... driving cattle.
Mitch Robbins: What, like in a truck? City Slickers, 1991

I don't know from cattle. Having grown up on the edge of farm country, I'm pretty sure that if you stood a dairy cow and a beef cow next to each other I could pick out the one I generally find under cellophane at King Soopers. That's it. So, the situation in Nevada represented just a passing interest - Good Ole Boy runs cattle, refuses to pay the Feds for grazing rights.... He lost in court, there was some delay in enforcing that outcome and now it's become a thing. Nevada, Harry Reid and you get conspiracy theories galore. Whatever.

Two things. I've met Harry Reid, shook hands with him at the DNC in 2008. He ambled over (yes, ambled) to a group of Lakewood cops and Secret Service agents awaiting the next round of Suburbans to enter the secure loading dock we were...securing. Nice man, thanked us for serving, for being diligent during the festivities. He was kind, soft spoken and had a firm grip (as opposed to Bill Clinton's). 

Second, I love conspiracy theories as entertainment. I don't actually buy into many of them because they are too complicated and I get confused. Consequently, I moved on to something more concrete, like whether Kirsten Dunst insulted women. Then, the guns showed up in Nevada.

It all became so very Cici-esque. Huh, you say?

Cici Onofrio is the main character in a manuscript called A More Perfect Union. Basically finished (with a great deal of help from several friends) it describes a clash between rural America and the faceless monolith in Washington. Bad decisions, political ham-handedness and serious anti-government rhetoric turns into killing. The Feds up the ante....

I see the BLM cops, and I think about Cici. "Rangers pouring in from all over" the press reports breathlessly. Uh huh. I'll bet they are having a great time - away from home, working long, tedious hours and waiting for some political appointee two thousand miles away watching drone images to issue the orders that the men and women with boots on the ground will have to carry out. Crappy food, bland coffee and you hope the local motels don't have bed bugs. 

On the other side of the makeshift barricade, men and women with guns, alcohol and a lot of misplaced anger. What could possibly go wrong with that?

One shot, that's all it would take. It wouldn't have to come from either side. Someone dissociated from them, like a terrorist operative hoping to watch Americans drop each other like ten pins. A thousand yards away, dusk - they wouldn't have to be especially good. Shooting at a crowd, all that has to happen is someone gets hit. The running gun battle that would ensue inevitably....

The men and women in BLM uniforms are people. The anti-government crap, the Harry Reid/Chinese money/solar array stuff is meaningless when people are pointing A4s at each other. The photos that show the Rangers using their vehicles as cover tell me all I need to know about how safe they perceive the scene to be. Their command structure was, I'm sure, pouring over contingency plans for the awful moment when shooting started. Where would the casualty collection point be? Could they withdraw under fire without leaving one of their friends behind? Could helicopters land safely to evacuate the critically injured? How many of their countrymen would they have to kill to keep from being overrun, disarmed and...?

In the end, an understandable outcome. The BLM withdrew (save for later the question of whether this encourages armed resistance to the Feds). Getting a bunch of people killed over grazing rights might make good John Wayne movies but in 2014 it seems pointless. A victory for...?

A victory for men and women of law enforcement who went home to their families in one piece having done the job they took an oath to do.

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