Liberte, Equalite, Sante Mentale

For those of you that have forgotten their French, the title is a turn on the French motto.  It would translate as “Liberty, Equality, Sanity”.

Last Sunday, May 7, the French went to the polls in an election that had echoes of America’s.  We had a centrist running against a nationalist, or fascist.  There were fears of left win apathy helping the radical candidate win, but these were unfounded.  The centrist candidate won a convincing majority.

How did this happen?  To begin with, the French election was a direct one.  There was no Electoral College, the candidate who had the most votes won.  Second, it was on a weekend, people did not have to take off of work, etc to vote.

A third, and perhaps main reason, is that voters in France, perhaps like those in the Netherlands, saw what has happened in the United Kingdom and the United States.  The chaos that has come from the “Brexit” and the resistance Trump has spawned may have convinced French voters to “Hold their noses” and cast votes against the greater evil.

Of course, the French also have experience being under fascist rule, and though most of those who lived under it have passed, they may still have stories passed down.  That or they teach that part of history right.

A Different Sort of “White Privilege”?

Last Sunday, I attended a meeting of Harrisburg’s effort to organize and chapter of Stand Up for Racial Justice, or SURJ.  In my opinion, it’s an attempt to create a satellite group for “Black Lives Matter”.

During the meeting, my attitude towards rural voters was challenged yet again.  This seems to keep happening, especially with the person who was running the meeting.

But it did get me to thinking about “White Privilege”, especially if it’s possible that whites can feel they have a privilege over each other.  Accepting that, in America, being White does bestow privilege is a major step in being an effective ally to people of color, etc.

But might those of us that are White and “woke”, need to accept that we may see ourselves as having a privilege over our more rural, and  less educated counterparts.  The subtitle of this very page may reflect some of this.

Now do I think Pennsylvania is being held back by a perhaps over-represented bloc of; White, rural, less-educated, lower-middle to lower class, male votes?  I do.

But might the younger generation be salvageable, efforts of groups like “Redneck Revolt” would say maybe.  But there may be a short window of opportunity, if these young people aren’t made resistant to “dog whistling”, they will likely become part of the ranks of the deplorable.

 

Recant, Repay, Resist?

OK, this was not a good week for the resistance to Trump. An effort to repeal and replace the ACA, with little scrutiny or review, passed the U.S. House; now this bill may be the first real test for the Senate “Firewall Caucus”, this depends on if Speaker McConnell decides to “Nuke” the Senate again or not.

Also another executive order, giving churches a freer hand to engage in politics, seems to be a way to reward the evangelical Christians who backed his campaign.  These folks obviously forgot the passage about not serving God and Mammon, and ignored Trump’s infidelities, etc.  Hopefully the ACLU, People For the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church, etc are preparing legal challenges.

There was also the odd tidbit that Hillary Clinton, during a speech, announced she is part of “The Resistance”.  Now we aren’t a club; we don’t have dues, we don’t have a secret handshake, we do have meetings as our individual groups.  But I think Mrs. Clinton could do a few things to prove she is committed to our goals.

One thing she could do is recant comments she and/or her husband made about so-called “Superpredators”, this rhetoric, in reality a “Dog Whistle” term for urban minorities, gave a further license for police to become more and more militarized, and make simply being darker-skinned a crime.  The path from this to “Black Lives Matter” is laid out in the excellent book “The New Jim Crow

Next, she could return the money she took or received from Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs, etc.  These large corporations are the same entitles many of “The Resistance” are resisting.   Relying more on the small donor model that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have relied on might make her a bit more palpable to those who call themselves “The Resistance”.

A final thing might be to embrace some changes to the primary process.  Support for eliminating “superdelegates”, and opening up primaries at least to independents and Greens, would show that she is committed to getting “The Resistance” from social movement to electoral force.

 

What is My Role?

It’s May 1st, and today Harrisburg, PA and several cities across the country will be taking this day back to its roots as a day of action and dissent.  Perhaps because today begins the first week after President Trump’s “100 Days“, rallies in support of immigrants are planned.

I will be at Harrisburg’s, camera at the ready.  I will be taking on what seems to be one of my two main roles as a member of the resistance to Trump and his mainly rural supporters.  The role of chronicle.

This is an important role, as history has shown that photographs play a part in getting people to become sympathetic to an idea or movement; the Civil Rights Movement, with images from Selma. Montgomery, etc, anti-war movements, and the Arab Spring all were helped by images.  They also provide a record that future generations can look back on.

The second role I play is that of conduit.  I am frequently sharing or re-tweeting information I find to the appropriate allies.  I will also confess to engaging in memes, like any other social media user.

It’s kind of odd that rather than create new roles, I am merely doing what I always do.  That is not to say some of this may not be done with a new twist.

Resistance is -NOT- Futile–It’s Necessary

Yesterday, April 29, President Trump spent part of his hundredth day in office speaking to his “Trailer Park Caucus” in Harrisburg, PA.  It was likely for him better than being in DC where there was a climate march and the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.  It seems that Trump needed a “safe space” of his own.

Or was he trying to hide from his relative lack of accomplishments.  Besides signing executive orders, the same things that had the mobile estates in an uproar under Obama, and getting a Supreme Court Justice confirmed, with some extreme measures required, he hasn’t done much in terms of legislation.  His only attempt so far, an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, has not ever reached the House floor.  That bill can’t seem to get support from Trump’s own party.

The failure to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act is but one of several successes of “The Resistance”.  This group of minority, women, and millennial activists has not gone away.  Their efforts began literally on day one, with the “Disrupt J-20” events , the next day brought a “Woman’s March”.  Others have followed, a call for Trump to release his taxes, a “March For Science”,  and most recently a “People’s Climate March”.  There are more planned, May 1st will bring rallies across the country in support of immigrants.  There have been marches at airports, occupations of ICE facilities, and numerous other local events.

Harrisburg, PA has played its role in this.  When a minority family had its car vandalized soon after Trump’s election, 50 or so people held a vigil on the Friday before Christmas on a day’s notice.  That was only the beginning; Harrisburg has had its own “Women’s March”, a march for immigrants and refugees, a rally and march for Muslims, two rallies to preserve the Affordable Care Act, and the list goes on and on.

That’s not to say that the resistance has not had flaws.  Very often it seems that groups are not coordinating, yesterday there were several marches and rallies planned for Trump, and it would have been impressive if all of these events could have converged into one massive rally.  There also seems to be a gap between Democratic leadership and the resistance.  The leaders of the party seem reluctant to embrace the ideas of the youth that will become the party’s base in a few decades.

One thing I would like to see is a the anti-war movement of the early part of the 2000s reawaken.  Trump’s foreign policy seems like a mix of cold war and video game thinking.  A reawakened anti-war movement could merge with the current resistance and make both movements stronger.

I finished reading “A People’s History of The United States” a few weeks ago.  It seems that the history of America is one of repression and resistance.  It’s our time and our turn now.  History will judge our efforts, and so far, I like what I see from the resistors.

The 42-Year Old N00b

On Saturday, April 22, I made my first appearance at a “Hackers” conference.  The Rochester Institute of Technology played host to the 7th annual “B-Sides” conference.  The theme “Crypto Cold War” could not have been more appropriate, as we seem to now be embracing the old “Evil Empire”.

I did have a good time, but realize that I have a lot to learn.  The two technical talks I attended; one on Assembly Language and the other about hiding code had me in a bit of a haze.

The non-technical talks were a little easier to bear.  A talk on physical entry made me realize that once one gets into a building, they usually have fairly free rein.  A talk on robust defense got me to thinking that when it comes to security, one may need to “think small”.  A talk on communication made me wonder how often a company tries to make itself the victim, instead of the customers.

A final talk on outwitting “Crackers”, folks who attempt to break into systems, given by an Army Intelligence Officer was a bit of a disappointment.  His focus was more on innovation then exploitation.

I would have never thought two years ago, I would be at an event like B-Sides.  Of course, I didn’t expect the country to decide to make such a hard right turn either.

What’s So Bad About Being Good?

I did the annual “Living Stations of The Cross” with the local Pax Christi today.  Tomorrow I will be at the “Trump Tax Day” rally.  I also plan to be at an event on May 1st.

To me, I’m doing my part to resist Trump.  To some, including a few in the resistance, I am acting like a “Good White Person”.

Now I can understand the idea of a “Bad White Person”; this is the deplorable, the member of the “Trailer Park Caucus”, etc.   But why did it sound like the person who called me this was making it sound like I was wrong for doing what I see as the right thing.

Of course there is another way the “Good White Person” could be applied.  That being to the person who sees Trump’s actions and policies as wrong, but is unwilling to stand up or even support the resistance.  These folks are much like the “Good Germans” that enabled Hitler or allowed slavery or segregation to continue.