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.

 

Warriors On The Wasteland

“Mad Max”, “Revolution”, “Into The Badlands”, “The Walking Dead”; the idea of “wastelands”, desolate and desperate, have been a part of entertainment.

With the current composition of the Supreme Court, Congress, The Presidency, and state legislatures, America may be heading into such a stage. The strengthening of the power of corporations, the wealthy and fundamentalist Christians at the expense of Women, Organized Labor, people of color and even the planet seems all be certain.  Roe v Wade and perhaps even Brown v Board of Education are likely to be weakened, perhaps to the point of being functionally overturned.  Cases like Hobby Lobby, Citizens United and Heller will likely be broadened.

I believe in the years to come, direct action may be a necessity.  Communities of color will have to learn and organize in defense against both police and vigilante citizens, women may need to learn methods to terminate pregnancy, or set up underground transport networks, Labor and Environmental groups may have to resort to tactics of disruption, like what we’ve seen from the “Fight for 15” and “No DAPL” movements.

For these direct actions to be truly broad and effective, the “DemExit” and “Bernie or Bust” crowd will have to take some ownership that their actions created this situation.  Much like Nader backers in the 2000 election, which brought us Justice Roberts, and many of the court cases that may have led to Trump, these well-meaning, but shortsighted, activists need to try to soften the damage they have done to the communities and ideals they claim to support.

Now I realize that not everyone can take to the streets.  I realized at Disrupt J20 that I am too old to run with black bloc. But there are other ways to back the resistance; groups like One People’s Project, It’s Going Down, and the National Layers Guild will need support.  Secure and private internet services like TOR and RiseUp and resources like Signal also need help.  If folks are unwilling to get out from behind their keyboards, perhaps helping the “boots on the ground” with their technical needs may be a good idea.

One Way To Defeat a “Firewall”

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I am in the process of getting my CompTia Security+ Certification.  I should have the first reading of the book done in a week or so, and then can start the videos.  The goal is to have the certification by October.

One component of security is testing, making sure the features of the network are secure.  Among these components is a “firewall”, a device or program designed to keep content from getting in to a system.

The idea of a “firewall” as a barrier may be a good political metaphor.  In 2012, Obama spoke of a “Midwest Firewall”.  Parts of this collapsed in 2016, thus bringing us Trump.  But as I considered the possibility that Trump could win, I saw some hope in what I called a “Firewall Caucus”.  This group would consist of the Congressional; Black, Hispanic, and Progressive Caucuses, and progressive Senators like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  “TrumpCare” looked like it would be the first test of this alliance, but the bill was withdrawn.

Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee, looked like not only a test for the Senate segment of this “Firewall Caucus”, but a potential win.  Mitch McConnell had other plans though, and decided to basically nuke the building, invoking the “Nuclear Option”.

I don’t think it’s a sign of things to come.  The Supreme Court is what the Right sees as the best way to advance their agenda and roll back progress made on behalf of women, people of color, organized labor, etc.

But who’s to say that it wasn’t a warning?  The only way to find out may be to threaten a filibuster again.  But I also think Democrats need to avoid the “Party of No”, mentality that described the GOP from 2010 on.  The Democrats in the Senate need to engage in a campaign of principled opposition to Trump’s agenda.  Now that does likely mean most of Trumps ideas deserve to be opposed, but a little leeway might allow Democrats to take the high ground.

Of course, there’s the matter of dealing with the damage that a Right-Wing court can, and like will do.  That is for another day.


How I Roll

One thing I have realized as I travel this path of resistance is that I need to get into better shape.  It is hard to be a good “Social Justice Warrior” when one weights over 260 pounds.  As many of opponents are well-trained, and many are in the police or military.  Progress on this front has been slow, but I plan to stay the course.

But what I did for a device that is Five Below’s version of a FitBit does show the approach I can take towards things.  One of the things that this device required was my stride length, and I came up with a systematic way to get my result.

I began by figuring out how far a tenth of a mile was in terms of points.  Once I had determined this, I set to count the number of steps that it took me to cover this distance.  Some simple division reveals that my stride length is about 50 inches.  As Lt. Worf said on an episode of Star Trek–The Next Generation, “I take big steps”.

So now I can take to the streets, one mile at a time.

Fighting The Same Battles

I spent part of Wednesday, March 29, cleaning my apartment.  One area that got tackled was a table that had buttons.

Looking at the collection, I couldn’t help but realize that many of the sentiments on the buttons are still relevant today; a button from Planned Parenthood urging “Don’t squash our freedom of choice”, a button from a rally against the “War on Women”, a button for the American Civil Liberties Union to “Keep America safe and free” and a button from 2008 that says “Legislate Against Hate”.

It does seem that activists are having to spend time and resources to maintain gains, rather than to advance.  Instead of having to defend the Affordable Care Act, we should be taking the next steps towards the kind of national, single-payer, plans that the rest of the industrialized world have.  We should not be fighting voter id laws, but advancing ideas like open primaries and same-day registration.

Of course, the Right knows this, and use this to their advantage.  They attack access to reproductive health of women, or the ability of workers to organize.  Thanks, perhaps, to the unlimited power of corporate interests to influence.

Resistance From The Right–Resistance From The Left?

One of my alma mater’s former football coaches had a “24-hour” rule.  The team had 24 hours to celebrate a victory or to mull over a defeat.

That period has expired for the defeat of “Trumpcare“, and it’s now a matter of taking a closer look at how this may show splits on both sides of the aisle.

The major obstacle to the bill was that Trump could not convince a “Freedom Caucus”, made of remnants of the “Tea Party”.  These Representatives, many likely backed by groups with the ties to the Koch Brothers, did not feel the bill went far enough.  What may be ironic is that these corporate-backed candidates may be relying on the same white, male, lower-middle to lower-class, less-educated, rural voters that Trump drew support from.  But those voters are the same folks that would have the sting of “Trumpcare” the most, as many reports showed the bill would have affected rural, low-income voters the most.  The “dog whistles” that the GOP relies on may not have been heard so well.

While the GOP may be wrestling with trying to balance the “Corporate Penthouse” crowd with the “Trailer Park Caucus”.  Democrats may find themselves struggling with a rift that they have not healed.

Much of the real work to defeat this was done by some elements of “The Resistance”, the members of the Sanders/Warren wing of the Democratic Party who made phone calls and stood up at the town halls.  These activists still seem to be seen as a fringe by the pro-corporate National Committee.

This whole mess may show a sign that Trump does not understand how the process works.  This is not a reality program or a boardroom.  You cannot bully people, and the people can and will resist.  I wonder how many more defeats it will take for Trump to learn that lesson.

The First Of Many?

IN 1991, the Youngstown State University Football team found their backs to the wall.  They went into a game against their division’s defending champions with a record of 4-3.  They would emerge victorious that day and never look back, winning 8 straight games and their first National Championship.

Today, the resistance to Donald Trump won their first true legislative victory.  The act designed to replace the Affordable Care Act could not muster enough Republican support to pass.  Much of the opposition did come from a group of Republicans who felt the bill was not radical enough, but the phone calls to the few moderate Republicans left in the party cannot be overlooked.

I can only hope that this is the first of many legislative defeats for Trump.  It will be kinda fun to watch him be frustrated at the democratic process at work.

Are You Happy Now?

My work schedule is prohibiting me from watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  I can’t help but wonder how many of the #BernieOrBust or #Demexit crowd are watching, as at some level they are to blame.

I began as a Bernie backer, I phone banked, and even attended a march/rally/concert.  But after the convention, I knew that my energy needed to go into defeating Trump.  As someone old enough to remember the election of 2000, I remembered that one of its aftermaths was Bush being able to select a justice to the Supreme Court.   We are feeling the effects of that today; Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, Heller, Shelby v Alabama. 

What decisions will we see if Trump’s choice gets confirmed.  A recent article in The Nation by former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold may lay out the stakes.  Further efforts to erode the power of labor and increase the power of corporations.  Making it harder for urban minorities, women and youth to vote.  Continuing to expand the rights of both police and citizens to use lethal force, often against people of color.  Denying access to women’s reproductive rights.

And how many Sanders or Stein supporters will be willing to resist?