Decisions, Decisions

This past week was not a good week.  The US Supreme Court rendered several decisions that will affect large segments of the American population, and one of the “Swing Justices” announced his impending retirement; thus clearing the way for Trump to nominate a justice who will be able to undo decades of progress and impede future progress.

I can’t help but wonder if the “Bernie or Bust” and “DemExit” folks thought of any of this.  I can also see why they couldn’t.  Most of them will not see the effects of the decisions that should have them asking “How would Garland have ruled?”

Very few Sanders supporters will be unable to have their families visit them, or visit their families for fear of being unable to return; they may know someone who is in this situation, but that doesn’t directly affect them.  Their daughter, or son’s girlfriend, will likely to still get an abortion or some way to provide for the baby can be found.  They, or their immediate descendants are unlikely to be serfs to the Koch’s or Amazon.  Many Sanders supporters, because they are from positions of privilege.

But that privilege can be useful as well.  They could contribute to various groups that are working with and for those who are affected.  The travel ban may mean one would have to find local groups working with, and for, the Muslim community.  The decision on abortion clinics might lead someone to donate to Planned Parenthood, NARAL or The National Network of Abortion Funds.

The Janus Decision leads to several possibilities.  AFSCME and SEIU will need funds to protect their members from what is likely to be an aggressive and well-funded campaign to get them to give up their memberships.  As public-sector unions were an key source of resources for the AFL-CIO, who will also likely need to build capacity, that group could use support. There is another option, though, perhaps it is time to look at changing the system as a whole.

Could the problem be capitalism itself.  Could the Democratic Socialists of America, of which I am a member, or the Industrial Workers of the World, which I am involved in the formation of, have the right idea?

Or maybe it’s too late.  Perhaps we should be ready for America to become either a corporate state like Bangladesh, or “The Republic of Gilead” portrayed in the novel and TV series The Handmaid’s Tale.  Perhaps folks should start building the networks of mutual aid now.

Of course, building that network might require actually going into the streets and working with affected communities.  That is something a lot of Sanders supporters seem reluctant to do.



Capturing “The Moment”?

As a few of you know, I am a self-taught photographer.  I’ve kind of become one of several unofficial photographers for the Harrisburg activist community, as well as the occasional concert.

“Why take pictures,” one may ask.  As I have stated before, at least I think, I see two reasons.  One is to act as a chronicle, the story of the resistance to Trump, the Alt-Right and other reactionary elements needs to be recorded.  The other is that pictures can be used to rally folks “on the fence” to our side.  This happened with the images from Selma and Montgomery during the Civil Rights Movement, with the image of the villagers fleeing their burning village during the Vietnam War, and the images of torture from Abu Gharib and Gitmo.

My question has always been, when will this resistance have its image?  It looked like the images of children being separated from the parents at the border and being held in cages may have been it.  There seemed to be enough of an outcry that Trump had to sign an executive order ending the separation of families.

But that may have been little more than a way to silence the centrists and make the #BernieOrBust and #DemExit folks think their tweets, shares and likes had done something.  The “Zero Tolerance” policy remains intact and there is talk that once this dies down, the policy may silently resume.

The only real solution to this may be what is coming from the “boots on the ground” of “The Resistance”.  The abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Back In The Game

The World Cup began Thursday and for the first time since 1986, the United States is not a participant.  In 2026, this will not be an issue.

The United States, along with Canada and Mexico, were selected as the tri-hosts of 2026 World Cup.  A lot of people were surprised, perhaps because the 2028 Summer Olympics are to be in Los Angeles, or perhaps because of President Trump.

But those people forgot something, in 2026 the United States will be at least two years removed from Trump’s Presidency.   With the damage Trump has done to the Republican Party brand, at least beyond the rural reactionaries, FIFA and the IOC may be betting that by 2026, a Democrat will be in office.  Whether that person will be halfway through their first term or their second depends on who the Democrats run in 2020.

The World Cup and Summer Olympics may be ways, therefore, to welcome the US back to the civilized world.  There is precedent for this, after apartheid fell in South Africa, that nation hosted a Rugby World Cup and a Soccer World Cup.

This does all presume there is still a United States in 2026, though.


Bad Activist?

Last week, June 4-8, had me seeing two items in my web traffic that made me think I was being a “bad activist”.

The first was my response to the decision in the “Masterpiece Cakes” case.  This was the case where a bakery claimed a religious-based right to refuse to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding.  The Supreme Court’s decision made no ruling on that part of the claim, instead ruling that the bakery had not been given a fair hearing.  It got to the point that I posted a tweet that basically said “The sky in not falling”.

The second was a message I received from an activist in regards to Nazi artifacts being sold at a World War II aviation gathering.  My take on this was it would depend on the origin, if the items are being manufactured that is one thing.  If they are items that have been collected, perhaps from the brave folks who stood up to Fascists decades ago, then they are merely artifacts.  A mention that some Nazi re-enactors were harassing Mexicans at the event did make we wonder if they were stuck in character or if this community may have some true believers or folks that may not be merely playing Nazi.

Now the other question is what makes these artifacts different from Confederate Monuments.  Mainly time; I have seen several articles that mention that many monuments to the Confederacy were erected as a response to the Civil Rights movement.  The intent of the monuments may not be to commemorate as to intimidate.

Owning Your Decision

Alas, this looks like it will the first of several posts intended to help the #BernieOrBust and/or  #DemExit folks take some ownership of the legal ramifications of their decision.

On Monday, June 11, the Supreme Court ruled that Ohio could continue to purge its voter rolls.  This is a clear attempt in the minds of many to suppress the votes of younger people and people of color who look to be coming out in larger numbers to vote in 2018.

So what could these folks do to alleviate and mitigate the damage they did?  How about a good, old-fashioned, voter registration drive.

To do one, all you would need is a public place, like a ‘Y’, a church, a community center, etc.  The site should either have WiFi, or someone should have a phone that can act as a “hotspot”. A few computers and some folks to help people check to make sure they are registered and re-register if needed should be all that is needed.

Now this would put many of Bernie’s supporters in the situation of having to deal with people face to face, perhaps even people from the communities of color that bear much of the brunt of Trump’s agenda.  But that may go a long way in building his revolution beyond the privileged that make up a good part of Bernie’s base.


Illegal Dissent?

At the end of last week, the National Football League made an attempt to “split the baby” on players protesting the National Anthem.  This has been an ongoing issue for more than a year and led to me boycotting the most recent season.

It looks like I will continuing that for this season, as in my opinion the league basically sided with the rural reactionaries that make up a large part of the NFL fan base.  Players on the field must stand for the anthem, or face fines or penalties.  Players can apparently stay in the locker room or tunnel until the anthem is over, and then join their teammates.

I can see the NFL’s quandary, the league is attracting more and more African-American players.  I have seen figures that put the league at somewhere between %60-%75 African-American.  The age of social media puts issues such as police abuse and racism in immediate focus, and sometimes even as it happens.

But the NFL fan base is still heavily Caucasian, and the NFL’s following in the rural areas may be exceeded only by the popularity of stock car racing.  The NFL was more afraid of the way rural reactionaries would react than of what the players were protesting.

I honestly hope the players come up with an alternative means of dissenting.  Raising fists, bowing their heads and not looking at the flag, etc.  The rule change allowing for coordinated,  team celebrations after touchdowns may provide another avenue for dissent.  The whole offense could kneel at once after the team scores their first touchdown.

As for me, it looks like I’ll be needing to find other ways to keep busy on Sundays in the Fall.  I guess I can always canvass or phone bank for the first few weeks of the season, but come the middle of November, I may need to come up with other ways to occupy myself.


Owning Up, and Back to The Big Apple!

Earlier today, President Trump; perhaps as part of his on-going effort to undo any of Obama’s legacy, or his notion that the United States can “go it alone” internationally, or even that he thinks that his actions helped bring North and South Korea to the table, decided that the United States will leave the Iran Nuclear Deal.  According to The Nation, there are potentially other factors at play; including Israel, and the Neo-Conservatives that make up so much of his National Security and Diplomatic Corps.

I can’t help but see this as yet another “bust” for the “Bernie or Bust” and “DemExit” crowd.   There are likely more to come as it looks like at any time the Supreme Court may let Trump’s travel ban stand, and we have a potential blow to public sector unions and what could lead to rollbacks of other civil rights laws under the guise of religion.  All of those are courtesy of Sen McConnell “going nuclear” to put Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch, Pompeo, Pruitt, DeVos, Carson, etc; all can be placed at the feet of the folks who insist they “voted their conscience”.  I can only wonder if the feel any twinges of guilt when the read or hear about; children watching their parents be deported, or vice-versa, a forest being auctioned off for timber, drilling or a pipeline, or the United States withdrawing from another treaty.

And then the other question, what are they doing about it?  Are they on the streets with the “boots on the ground”, are they providing financial, material, or other support?

Or do they still think that tweets, likes and shares are enough.

H.O.P.E 2018

Some of you may remember that after the 2016 election, I expressed an interest in going to the DefCon conference is Las Vegas.  Alas, Uncle Sam had other plans for me.  So I went to B-Sides Rochester in April of 2017 and in December of 2017, headed to Philadelphia for that city’s B-Sides.

Well, this Summer, I will be heading to New York City for the bi-annual “Hackers On Planet Earth”, or HOPE, conference. It may seem like a step up for me, but not all of the presentations are purely technical, the 2016 edition included presentations on:

Stopping Police Surveillance:

Standing Up To Homeland Security:

Building an ISP:

The 2016 edition of HOPE is also where I got the video that became the basis for a post on how to run a “Crypto Party

The major announcement from HOPE so far is that WikiLeaks leaker and Senate Primary Candidate Chelsea Manning will be appearing.




Same Route?

Yesterday, March 24, hundreds of thousands of activists participated in “March For Our Lives” events across the United States.    The march was more follow-up from the Parkland students.

I, alas, was unable to attend Harrisburg’s march.   The snowstorms in the middle of the week created a small backlog of product that we needed to move along.   I made an attempt to be there in spirit though.   My profile pic was a re-mixed picture from a response to a prior shooting:


My cover picture was a quote from Martin Luther King:

I also posted a video, of somewhat recent vintage:

What I realized was how much of this was old content.  Seems like a great analogy for a march that seems to have been going on for decades.  Each mass shooting seems to bring the hope that people in Congress will say, “enough”.  Alas the gun manufacturers lobby and their rural reactionaries are louder, and little or nothing changes.  The shooting drops off the media radar, until the next one.

But maybe this is different, the Parkland students are playing in a new landscape, and maybe by the rules of social media.  I’d like to think that maybe this march ends here, that Congress will finally pass reasonable reforms, or perhaps a change in Congress may be in order.