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.

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.

 

A More Organic Brew?

 

Last Wednesday, February 22, I assisted in a search.  Our missing person, Senator Pat Toomey.  I joined with two fellow activists to see if we could locate him and bring our concerns, and those of Planned Parenthood, to the Senator.   Our search proved futile, as the Senator was nowhere to be found.

Senators and Representatives being absent was a common theme it seems during this Congressional Recess, of course those who did appear in public, especially in “Town Halls”, often got a earful.  Even is places like Utah, Congresspeople found themselves dealing with voices of the opposition.

The whole thing reminded many of the “Tea Party” allies who gathered at events after Obama was elected.  The fact that they were loud and in large numbers is one common thread.  But there are differences as well.

For one this “Resistance” seems a bit more organic.  There is evidence that the “Tea Party” was a movement bankrolled by specific interests and individuals and groups.  The folks that gathered at the town halls, are not, as a whole “paid protestors”.  They aren’t really protestors even, they are constituents.

A second issue is also a concern.  The “Tea Party” took their anger, even if it was manufactured, and turned it into political action.  Since many members of the “Resistance” see the system itself as flawed, if not failed, getting them to become an electoral force may be easier said than done.

America Is Still Standing–UP!

It has been two weeks and one day since Donald Trump took office.  There has been a flurry of executive orders, riled up allies, and gaffes like the “Bowling Green Massacre”.

There have also been protests, literally since day 1.  His second day in office brought one of the largest protests in history, that my hometown area even got into the act.  There were demonstrations at airports and tech companies.  Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had over 2000 people for an rally in support of immigrants.  Harrisburg’s turn is tomorrow, February 5th.

Trump and his authoritarian followers have to be surprised and perhaps a bit aggravated that these protests are ongoing.  They may have figured that after the election that progressives, especially millennials, would go back to the “safe spaces”.  I am sure a lot of them have, but many are taking to the streets.

There is more where this came from, there are events in April in the works and it seems that most actions Trump take produce a reaction from activists.

I am still reading Peoples History of The United States, so I am becoming aware that America’s true history may be one of repression and resistance.  What is happening in opposition to Trump may just be another generation taking their turn.


Plan B-Sides

A few of you may remember that I had expressed and interest in attending the annual Defcon computer conference. I actually viewed a few videos from past events and realized that even a 42 year old newbie would have a place.

Alas, Uncle Sam and H&R Block had other ideas.  A little part-time side job had me having to owe money to the government, and H&R Block to prepare my taxes.

It’s not a total loss, I had been taking money out of my checks from this gig, and can cover the amount I owe and the cost of preparation.   I will have to set my sights on Rochester’s annual B-Sides conference.  An added bonus is that I’ll be joined by fellow blogger The Radical Geek!

I just have to see how much rooms cost and how long it would take to get there.

What’s Up With WikiLeaks?

“There is no such thing as bad publicity,” someone once said.  A slogan of today’s media may be “If it bleeds–it leads”.

WikiLeaks’ release of e-mails from John Podesta would on one level seem to be within their mission, but also seem to be a bit of a paradox.  Unlike the leaks released around the Democratic National Convention, which were likely an attempt to try and get Bernie Sanders as the nominee, these leaks almost seem to be an attempt to get Trump elected.

Why would WikiLeaks want to elect a person who probably not be above having SEALS, etc, raid the Ecuadorian Embassy  or perch a CIA sniper on a nearby roof?

Perhaps to get Julian Assange back into the spotlight?  With Black Lives Matter, and the DACL pipeline protests occupying the energy and attention of the left, Julian may feel a bit like a forgotten person.  A Trump presidency, and potential efforts to bring Julian to “justice” may be just  what he needs to get back onto the radar of activists.

Of course, protests and direct actions against ICE sweeps, and other attacks by Trump on people and neighborhoods of color may only push Assange and WikiLeaks further down.  Or perhaps then, finally WikiLeaks would release some “Trump Files”

Coming to Grips

I may have mention once before that I trained in martial arts, and to this day have an interest in the Mixed Martial Arts and even looked at practicing judo.

As part of my “prepping” for a Trump Presidency, I am trying to get the basics of a small, metal weapon called a kubotan.  I figure that a Trump victory could energize his “deplorables” the way the “Brexit” energized the far-right in England.  Also, if I will be photographing I.C.E sweeps, I may find myself in some less than savory neighborhoods.

So far, all I know how to do is effectively hold the weapon.  But I am already starting to think of the ways the grips can be used to strike an adversary.  The “Hammer Grip”, actually used to strike upwards, but with possible uses to do a strike like a hook to the body.  The variations on the “Ice Pick Grip”, which could be directed at the collarbone, the crown of the head, the knee, the thigh or the groin.  A braced version could be directed at the solar plexus.  The “Center Grip”, basically used to load a punch, is one I see as being the least useful.  The final grip, the “Sabre” is similar to how one would hold a sword or knife, and I could see it as being used to counter an edged weapon, once I get to that point.

I also know how to conceal the weapon so a deplorable, etc, will not know what coming.  What I’ll soon be learning is how to actually strike, deflect, etc.

Even if Trump loses, though, I can still see his followers taking out their frustration on African-Americans, Latinos, and other people of color who they may see as having spoiled their putsch.  I may still need to be ready to protect myself or my allies.