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.



Every Voter Matters

Be advised this may be the first of two posts I make today, but I want to get this into the open before another idea crowds it out.

Either late last week, or early this one, an idea made its rounds about one of my Twitter accounts.  The idea seemed to me to be that Democrats should focus on building and gathering support in urban areas at the expense of rural and other non-urban and suburban areas.

On one hand, the idea of building support is a good one.  Trump’s relentless attacks on people of color, refugees, etc, all who tend to gather in urban areas may be a great tool to register and rally voters.  There is still the fact that the Democratic leadership seems reluctant to embrace the ideas of Sanders, Warren, etc, that may bring millennial and independents into the fold.

But this notion also has flaws.  For one, it would likely only help in the United States Senate.  Many, if not most, state and Federal House Districts are gerrymandered; the Republicans have drawn districts to favor the rural areas that their base lives in at the expense of urban areas.   The Electoral College, with its “Winner take all” system, allows narrow victories in a few states, or victories in many less-populated states, to be a path to victory.

The second is that this idea would only be another bone to the dog whistled.  Trump’s election may have been seen by many as a repudiation of urban America.  A triumph of the mostly homogeneous heartland over the diverse urban areas.

Might a better option be to try to get rural voters to ignore the “dog whistles”?  Get them to see how Republican policies affect their jobs, their health and even their environment?  That they may lose their health care or their local clinic, that their job may be shipped to where labor is cheaper and more exploitable, or that their fishing stream may be too polluted to fish in?


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.

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”


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.

Limits of Dissent

When you have been publishing for over 150 years like The Nation has, you could say you’ve seen it all.  This magazine has seen robber barons, segregationists, and now Donald Trump.  They have also seen various resistance movements rise up; labor, women, homosexuals and immigrants.

The March 27 issue featured a “Field Guide” to the new resistance.   To no surprise, there was one segment of the movement missing.  There was no mention of groups like One People’s Project or It’s Going Down.  The groups that are fighting the Trump agenda, especially its attacks on refugees, immigrants and people of color.

To me, it’s been a common theme of the long-time voice of the American Left.  Since the election the magazine has called for resistance, but been reluctant to support much of the organizations taking direct action.  An annual list of groups to support did not even include the National Lawyers Guild.

But why is there is reluctance?  Part of it may be with the nature of traditional media in this digital age, much of the readership of The Nation may simply be too old to take to the streets.  At 42, I may be at the younger end of the magazine’s readership, but I also realize that I am too old to “take to the streets” with the black block. But the readers could at least contribute money to aid efforts.

Another theory has to do with an idea that I noticed during the anti-war movement of the early 2000s.  There seems to be almost an East Coast and West Coast divide in terms of activist tactics.  The Nation, being based out of New York City, may be more along the Eastern lines of focusing on political action.  The activists in the streets are more along the Western model, with an emphasis on direct action.

Am I going to drop my subscription to The Nation?  No, but I may look to augment it with publications like Jacobian or In These Times, to go with my subscription to 2600.