It’s Only Going to Get Harder

Last Sunday,  July 24, I had quite a busy day.  In the Morning, I went canvassing with MoveOn.org.  This was not the traditional “Are you for or against” canvassing that I was used from my work with campaigns, this was “Deep Canvassing”.  We were looking for stories on health care and the apparent impending “Repeal and Replace” of the Affordable Care Act.  It was challenging, time-consuming and a bit complex.  But there were some good stories that my partner and I gathered.

Later that day, I patched my phone into a phone call with MoveOn.org.  It was in regards to mobilizing in resistance to “Repeal and Replace”.  There was one tidbit from that which stood out.  The reason the Affordable Care Act was so high on Trump’s agenda was that he thought it would be easy.  This has not proved to be the case; as on Friday the latest effort was defeated in the Senate.

Now there are apparently plans to try another repeal.  But I can’t help but thing if the “easy part” has taken this long, what about the harder issues.  The budget, the border wall, etc.  These are issues that finally may put Trump face-to-face with the “firewall”; a group of progressive Senators who will make getting to 60 votes difficult, if not impossible.

Also the success of repelling repeal may embolden “The Resistance”, who showed tremendous ability to mobilize on the phones, on-line and even on the ground.  The image of wheelchair-bound protesters being arrested could be the “Selma Moment” of the opposition to Trump.  They may also see momentum on their side, momentum that may lead to efforts to advance a “Medicare For All” alternative to the Affordable Care act.

When Trump got elected, I saw a scenario where Trump realized that Government is not a boardroom, and that it would bring him to fits.


It’s Up To Me?

As Trump realized that repeal of the Affordable Care Act was failing, he did what his response to any affront to him is.  He threw a temper tantrum!

The worst of these may have been the speech he gave to the Suffolk County Police Department, where he basically urged officers to engage in police brutality.  Now he could realize that much of the resistance to repeal of the Affordable Care Act may come from communities of color, so he’s taking it out on them.  It may have to do with more “dog whistling” of his “trailer park caucus”.

To me it’s more evidence that communities of color are under attack from every corner.  The only solution may a modern-day variation of the “Community Defense” tactics that the Black Panther’s utilized.  I have mentioned this several times to my fellow activists, but the response has been less the impressive.

So perhaps I need to be the one to get the process going, but where to start?  Why not start with what I know well, technology.

Perhaps a variation on a Crypto Party,  is in order.  Introduce people in affected communities to tools like; Mobile Justice PA, Signal, Cell 411, and Orbot.  Make them aware of their rights to film officers, etc.

If they see this catch on, perhaps other activists will follow and add their skills to the mix.

At least I’ll have it out of my system.

 

#KeepPounding

I take ideas from everything and anything.  What the late member of the Carolina Panther’s Sam Mills used to rally his teammates is but one example.  Whether it be me working out or working on a skill, more than a few of my social media posts have included the hashtag “Keep Pounding”.

This past week, activists at both the national and local level seemed to show how these words can be applied to the resistance.  At the national level, one can only wonder if the latest delay with the planned replacement to the Affordable Care Act, in reality a package of corporate and %1 tax cuts paid for by cuts in health care, has anything to do with what many US Senators heard over the recess or what calls have come into their office.

At the local level, an attempt by the Harrisburg Police Department to purchase new riot gear, most likely in response to the increase in fascist, etc, rallies since Trump’s election was met by resistance from the community.

Collage1

The vote was delayed until after the August recess.  Part of the reason behind this delay may have been, ironically, a demonstration at what was billed as a “Town Hall” by U.S. Senator Pat Toomey caused the entire police contingent to head there.  At least one council member questioned why the whole command had to head to the disruption.

I already saw that civil disobedience is planned in DC on Monday, and be assured that at the next council meeting, activists will be there.

We plan to “Keep Pounding”, it would seem.

 

What, To a Resister, Is The 4th Of July

Today is Independence Day, when we celebrate when a group of citizens made the decision to challenge the leading imperial power of that day.

Now the populist credentials of our Founding Fathers can be questioned.  The men who signed the Declaration of Independence were a landed gentry, many of them held slaves.

But what is often forgotten was that our fight for independence was a resistance.  And it was only the first; there would be struggles for African American’s to first be freed, and then be equal, women needed to fight for their right to vote and then their equality, working Americans had to fight for a 40 hour week, safe places of work, etc.  Recent struggles have been for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered citizens to gain equality.

These efforts have been met by resistance from reactionaries, who pine for an earlier time when power was in the hands of a few.   At this time, these people seem to have seized power.  So, as has happened time and time again, a resistance has rose up.

Folks like me, who have taken to the streets in opposition to racism, sexism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, environmental destruction, and the rest of the Pandora’s Box of deplorable ideas are standing on shoulders of such giants as; Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Mother Jones, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez , and millions of others who have stood before us.

While we have their efforts to guide us.  We have tools and technology that they could never conceived; the ability to communicate instantly, and access almost any resource we need.  We can bypass corporate media and create our own.

So to those who would say that folks like me are being “unpatriotic” for standing up to Trump.  I say, “Read your history!”

Ain’t No Party Like a Crypto Party?

The roles I play in the resistance to Trump seem to be expanding.  Comments from a few activists lead me to think I am in some way like Templeton “Face” Peck from the 1980’s TV program “The A-Team”.  I’m the guy who can interact with more mainstream progressives like “Indivisibles” and then pass info along to allies.

I also continue to explore the role that my technical skills may play.  My recent trip to B-Sides Rochester was one step deeper down that rabbit hole.  Between issues of The Nation, or when there’s nothing else on television, I have been watching videos from the 2016 Hacker On Planet Earth, or HOPE, conference.   One video that piqued my interest was on starting a “Crypto Party“.  Now I immediately though of a political party, and when I saw that the video was about something more like a “Meet Up”, I could have easily turned it off.

I am glad I did not.  I could see actually running one of these in Harrisburg.  We have a large activist community that may be concerned about keeping their information and activities private.  Also, the communities most under attack from Trump may find information about apps like Signal, Cell 411, Virtual Private Networks. or VPNs, or programs like TOR  useful.

Do I know everything, far from it, but I know more than many people.  I feel this knowledge may be useful to other people.  What I don’t know, someone else may.  It’s now just a matter of figuring out how to put one together.

From Non Violence to Non Aggression

Yesterday, Harrisburg PA joined cities all across the country in the “March For Truth”, the event was a nationwide call for an investigation of the possible ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign and possible foreign entanglements Trump may have.  The event itself went well, especially since it was the first event the organizer staged.

As we were tearing down from the event, a wedding party was on its way into the State Capitol.  The Capitol is a popular place for weddings and other such events, but perhaps drunk with enthusiasm, alcohol, or a little of both, some of the party thought it would be fun to heckle us with chants of “Build the wall”.  A fellow activist and I responded.

Even last year, the wedding party would have likely passed us by without incident.  But Trump’s victory may have made the reactionaries feel a bit more empowered, a bit more bold.  We have seen this in Montana, and most recently in Portland.  My social media streams are full of videos of people of color and other minorities being harassed and worse.

I can’t help but think that perhaps the non-violence model of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi may not work so well against the current crop of “Deplorables”.  The better model may be the “community defense” model of the original Black Panthers.

I am not saying non-violence is not effective in some circumstances, nor that it need be abandoned.  But what harm would come from activists being trained to defend themselves or another from a threat, be that threat from a fascist, a police officer on an ICE agent.

While what the victims of the Portland stabbing were heroic, I can’t but wonder what, if anything they knew about how to disarm and/or subdue the attacker.  That bit of knowledge may have saved their lives.

 

 

Feeling The Sting?

Trump’s first few months in office have been likened to many things.  One that I have not heard is that he’s like a bear knocking various hives over.  His actions have gone after; women, refugees, especially Muslim refugees, people of color, urban areas, the media, entertainers, and other groups.

His decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreements, likely a way to please parts of his rural base of support, added environmentalists to the list.

With all these various groups in various states of anger and outrage, what impact could be had if they could all form one “swarm”; combining resources and activists and tools and tactics.

Alas, as someone who has members of several communities as allies both virtually and in real-time, I see the obstacles to creating such a hive.  Many of these groups do not agree with each other; a “Cult of Machismo” in parts of the African-American and Latino community may make building alliances with the LGBT community  difficult.  Organized labor and environmental groups have long had disagreements.

Rifts can also be tactical, groups that want to take a more direct action approach and those who seek solutions through the political process for example.  I continue to see The Nation reluctant to fully back groups like It’s Going Down or the One People’s Project.

We who are concerned about the planet and its people and creatures, who want to see a fair and just economy, and see all this as possible need to realize we are against a common enemy.  Wouldn’t it be great in November of 2018 to know that in January of 2019 that Congress would be buzzing with good, progressive, Democrats as majority in the US House and Senate.

 

The First to Fall?

Monday, May 29, was Memorial Day.  The day, traditionally the start of Summer, is also a day to remember those who gave their lives in service of our country and it’s ideals.

But the events of May 26, the stabbing of three men, two of which would die from their wounds,  who were trying to protect two Muslim women, makes me realize that America has a long history of ordinary people who gave their lives for the ideals of democracy and justice.  Folks like the untold thousands of native Americans who died fighting for their land and way of life, those who gave their lives on the front lines of struggle for fair wages and the right to organize.  Those who gave their lives in the name of civil rights and those gunned down by American troops in places like Kent State and Jackson State.

Ricky John Best, a 23-year veteran of the Army and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, a recent graduate working as a consultant, may be the first of “The Resistance” to fall in the battle against hatred.

It is a matter now of making sure their deaths are not in vain.