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.

Showing His Hand?

Besides building the border wall, promises to deport Muslim refugees and people of color, and rebuild the industrial economy, one of the other reasons many people decided to vote for Trump was to have the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced.

Alas, these efforts have been met with massive resistance, to get the legislation to pass the US House required two votes.  The Senate is on now its third delay, ironically because Senator John McCain need surgery.

I cannot help but think that in some way, Senator McConnell has tipped his hand a bit.  There may not be enough votes to even bring the bill up for a debate, if McCain’s vote didn’t matter, they would press on.

I only hope that the resistance smells blood, and seizes this opportunity to push for killing this bill and advance a proposal that benefits all Americans.

We Are Better Than This

Wednesday’s shooting during a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball game was unique not only because it put members of Congress under fire, but that the shooter seemed to espouse anti-Trump and anti-GOP ideas.

The first thing that impressed me was the quick response from Senator Bernie Sanders distancing himself and his movement from the shooter.  A far cry from the silence from Trump and the GOP about how their rhetoric may have fueled the Portland stabber.

But, perhaps on the heels of the successes of Anti-Fascist activists at the “Stand Up to Sharia” events, the media is starting to put some focus on the more radical factions of the American Left.

Now there has been an “Insurrectionist Left” for several decades.  I remember the anti-war rallies of the early 2000s conducted by ANSWER that would bring groups calling for the overthrow of American Capitalism.   I count among my allies several self-described anarchists and communists.

But I would still like to think we are better than the Oathkeepers, etc.  We can still put our faith in the electoral system, at least for the moment.  We can rally and phone bank as opposed to arming ourselves for an insurgency.

Now that is not to say that our opponents will play nice.  A recent incident at a Harrisburg, PA equality rally may show that Trump has given the bigoted a sense of power and invulnerability.  This still may mean a change in tactics among the left, including needing to make greater use of Anti-Fascists for protection against both reactionary allies and police that from what I see far too often as protecting the reactionaries than the affected communities.

Liberte, Equalite, Sante Mentale

For those of you that have forgotten their French, the title is a turn on the French motto.  It would translate as “Liberty, Equality, Sanity”.

Last Sunday, May 7, the French went to the polls in an election that had echoes of America’s.  We had a centrist running against a nationalist, or fascist.  There were fears of left win apathy helping the radical candidate win, but these were unfounded.  The centrist candidate won a convincing majority.

How did this happen?  To begin with, the French election was a direct one.  There was no Electoral College, the candidate who had the most votes won.  Second, it was on a weekend, people did not have to take off of work, etc to vote.

A third, and perhaps main reason, is that voters in France, perhaps like those in the Netherlands, saw what has happened in the United Kingdom and the United States.  The chaos that has come from the “Brexit” and the resistance Trump has spawned may have convinced French voters to “Hold their noses” and cast votes against the greater evil.

Of course, the French also have experience being under fascist rule, and though most of those who lived under it have passed, they may still have stories passed down.  That or they teach that part of history right.

The 42-Year Old N00b

On Saturday, April 22, I made my first appearance at a “Hackers” conference.  The Rochester Institute of Technology played host to the 7th annual “B-Sides” conference.  The theme “Crypto Cold War” could not have been more appropriate, as we seem to now be embracing the old “Evil Empire”.

I did have a good time, but realize that I have a lot to learn.  The two technical talks I attended; one on Assembly Language and the other about hiding code had me in a bit of a haze.

The non-technical talks were a little easier to bear.  A talk on physical entry made me realize that once one gets into a building, they usually have fairly free rein.  A talk on robust defense got me to thinking that when it comes to security, one may need to “think small”.  A talk on communication made me wonder how often a company tries to make itself the victim, instead of the customers.

A final talk on outwitting “Crackers”, folks who attempt to break into systems, given by an Army Intelligence Officer was a bit of a disappointment.  His focus was more on innovation then exploitation.

I would have never thought two years ago, I would be at an event like B-Sides.  Of course, I didn’t expect the country to decide to make such a hard right turn either.

What’s So Bad About Being Good?

I did the annual “Living Stations of The Cross” with the local Pax Christi today.  Tomorrow I will be at the “Trump Tax Day” rally.  I also plan to be at an event on May 1st.

To me, I’m doing my part to resist Trump.  To some, including a few in the resistance, I am acting like a “Good White Person”.

Now I can understand the idea of a “Bad White Person”; this is the deplorable, the member of the “Trailer Park Caucus”, etc.   But why did it sound like the person who called me this was making it sound like I was wrong for doing what I see as the right thing.

Of course there is another way the “Good White Person” could be applied.  That being to the person who sees Trump’s actions and policies as wrong, but is unwilling to stand up or even support the resistance.  These folks are much like the “Good Germans” that enabled Hitler or allowed slavery or segregation to continue.

 

Are You Happy Now?

My work schedule is prohibiting me from watching the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.  I can’t help but wonder how many of the #BernieOrBust or #Demexit crowd are watching, as at some level they are to blame.

I began as a Bernie backer, I phone banked, and even attended a march/rally/concert.  But after the convention, I knew that my energy needed to go into defeating Trump.  As someone old enough to remember the election of 2000, I remembered that one of its aftermaths was Bush being able to select a justice to the Supreme Court.   We are feeling the effects of that today; Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, Heller, Shelby v Alabama. 

What decisions will we see if Trump’s choice gets confirmed.  A recent article in The Nation by former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold may lay out the stakes.  Further efforts to erode the power of labor and increase the power of corporations.  Making it harder for urban minorities, women and youth to vote.  Continuing to expand the rights of both police and citizens to use lethal force, often against people of color.  Denying access to women’s reproductive rights.

And how many Sanders or Stein supporters will be willing to resist?