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.



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.




The Kids Are Fighting–Back!

Wednesday, March 14, was the one-month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting.  As tragic as this event was, it looked like it would fade into the news cycle like mass shootings before.

Looks were deceptive though, as the students have effectively used the power of social media to organize and mobilize youth and other concerned citizens.  The anniversary was observed by student walkouts and other events.  My local area even participated, though my alma mater, in a community which has seen its share of gun violence, seems to have stayed out.

My Twitter account devoted to gun issues reported students who walked out facing all forms of discipline, including corporal punishment.  The students accepted their fates and in some cases turned punishment into protest:

I can’t help but think these young people have taken cues from other social media-driven movements.  They saw their favorite actress, singer, or YouTube personality using #MeToo, etc and decided that they had something they could rally around.

They seem to be right, but now the hard part begins.  The students and their allies have more to do to make this moment into a movement.

The first thing is keep the events of Parkland in the news and in the social media stream.  The gun manufacturers lobby and its rural reactionaries are counting on Parkland fading.  What I have seen so far would indicate that the students show no signs of going silent.

The next task is to put energy into electing people who will listen in office.  This is a midterm election year and a “Blue Wave” seems to be building, even in states like Alabama.  A few seats in the Senate and House could go a long way.  The students may not be old enough to vote, but they can canvass and phone bank.  They could even make a event of it, a sort of political ‘house party.’

Of course, these activists also need to realize that there is potential for setbacks.  They are up against a well-funded opposition with millions of rural reactionaries at their command.  I have seen tragedy cause activism to fire up, only to fade.  Maybe this time is different.


Votes of Privilege?

On March 9, 2017, Sean Kitchen, a member of Raging Chicken Press made the following two posts across at least two social media platforms:

The responses from Stein supporters, and those who stayed home in 2016, were to be expected; “I voted my conscience”, “I wanted to send a message”, etc.

What I wonder if many of these folks realize is that they could vote the way they did as they were not going to be directly affected. How many of them are at risk of being deported? How many of their children will be harassed by the police? If their daughter were to become pregnant unexpectedly, they could likely get an abortion or they would have the resources to care for the child.

What I am saying is that many of the people who could vote Stein or simply stay home may not have realized the privilege they had. This privilege may be keeping many of them from directly confronting Trump and the Alt-Right. They may want to stand and shut down a fascist rally, but the folks at church, etc may not approve. Now they could make donations to groups like; Make The Road PA, It’s Going Down, or One Peoples Project that are taking the fight to the streets.

But there are other ways they can put the privilege they have to use. They could urge their businesses to be “Sanctuary Employers”, to not allow raids without warrants. They could support businesses that serve all people, regardless of religion, etc.

Now one can argue that folks who claim to care about minorities in effect stabbed them in the back. But there are still ways they can undo some of the damage they have inflicted on the folks they claim to support.

The End Of The Net as We Know It. . .

Unless something the scale of what happened yesterday, December 12, in Alabama happens tomorrow, December 14, the Internet as we know it will be gone.  The Federal Communications Commission is supposed to vote to end “Net Neutrality”.

Many of you have seen tweets, posts on Facebook or even received e-mails on this issue.  But what exactly is “Net Neutrality”.  It would be easy to go back to the old “information superhighway” that was used in the early days of the net.  But a better analogy may be an amusement park.  Many parks have “priority lanes” for some rides where users who pay for an armband or other pass can skip the lines.  With “Net Neutrality” there were no such lanes, all traffic passed with no special priority.

What looks likely to happen tomorrow is that providers will be able to give content the ability to “jump the line”.  This could be based on a fee a customer pays, a fee a site or service pays or even the whims of the provider.  A provider could also throttle or slow down a particular page; Comcast could give content from NBC priority and throttle content for ABC.  Verizon, my current provider, could make me use Yahoo.  The information security podcast Greynoise gave an excellent list of examples of what a post-neutrality net may look like; It’s not a pretty picture.

A better question may be, why?  There are a few obvious answers; Trump’s desire to undo everything Obama has done, the pro-corporate mentality of Trump, etc.  There may be something more sinister at play here though.

Trump knows how well “The Resistance” has used the internet.  It started almost as soon as he was elected; Disrupt J20 and the Women’s March, the actions around the ACA, and the Alabama Senate election all utilized the net to organize and mobilize.  Thousands of progressive podcasts, blogs and social media feeds bring information that the corporate media refuses to cover to an audience it could not have reached in decades past.  Who’s to say Verizon couldn’t be asked to throttle “Democracy Now”, or CenturyLink to give the NRA priority over “The Trace” (in the interest of disclosure, I was employed by CenturyLink from 2011-2015).

This would be nothing new.  Governments have always found ways to stifle, silence or stop dissenters.  The dissidents have found ways to persist in their resistance.  There are methods that could be used to get around artificial blocks to information, that is for another post though.


Another “Generation Gap”

One of the earlier posts to this blog concerned me feeling “stuck in the middle” between the Sanders and Clinton backers. I was too old to be part of Bernie’s Millennial base, but seemed too young for Hillary’s base.  I like to say I have seen things from all sides; I backed Bernie in the primary, Hillary in the general, and now see myself as a member of “The Resistance”.

But could there be a “Generation Gap” among “The Resistance”.  The actions of the “AntiFa” in places like Charlottesville, Berkeley, etc seem to have exposed one.  On one side, you have those who seem to say “Let the ‘alt-right’ speak,” their rhetoric will show them as the bigots they are.  Alas, Trump may have helped give the deplorable confidence to come out and spread the message.  A second group advocates for the kind of non-violent, pacifist, resistance of Martin Luther King, etc.  I more and more think that this approach may better be called passive-ism, as I have stated before, I think the “Community Defense” model of the Black Panthers, etc is a superior tactic.

These first two approaches are that of an older generation.  Some of the activists of the Millennial Generation and the trailing end of “Generation X” have gone “all in”.  They are the “Black Bloc”, the ones taking to the streets to battle the “Alt-Right”.   They are the folks recording the police, or “doxxing” fascists.  With the ideas of White Supremacy, or at least White Superiority, resurgent, resistance through direct action may be the best option.  As an old anti-racist poster I once saw said “Pull them up–before they take root”.  Perhaps a better phrase for now if “Cut them down, before they spread”

Choosing My Battles

I had a guest for part of this past weekend.  One of my Facebook friends came to visit some of his family.  I had to pick him up at the train station and we did go out for a late dinner.  The conversation centered around two things; the McGregor-Mayweather fight and my life.

I felt at times like I was being analyzed and interrogated at the same time.  But there was one thing I took away, I need to put me first a bit more.

One aspect of this may be me scaling back on my resistance activities a bit.  Fear not, I am not giving up the fight.  I just may be picking my battles based on two separate, but related questions; “Do I have the time” or “Can I make the time”.

And much of what I do when I’m not on the streets may still be helpful when I do take to the streets.  I want to learn how to search for information that can be used to out fascists, yes I want to learn how to “doxx” people.  I want to be able to better defend myself and others against fascists, etc.  I may even want to finish starting my app–again.

A Maverick’s Last Ride?

I stated once before that one of my college alma mater’s coaches had a “24-hour rule”.  You had 24 hours to revel in a victory or sulk in defeat.

Yesterday, July 28, we went from one to the other in a matter of one vote.  When Senator John McCain (R-AZ), cast the 51st vote to defeat the “Skinny Repeal”, the last effort by the Senate GOP to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

What is odd is that his vote that Tuesday was what allowed the debate to start.  If he was opposed to repeal, why bring the bill to the floor?  Twitter has been wondering this as well.  I have my own answer.

Senator McCain is trying to leave a legacy, in my opinion.  He was diagnosed with brain cancer and may want the image of him looking Mitch McConnell in the eye, and giving the “Skinny Repeal” the “Thumbs Down” to be how he is remembered.  For a lot of people, it will work.  For folks that can remember more than the last 15 minutes, it won’t.