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.

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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industrial economy, one of the other reasons many people decided to vote for Trump was to have the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced.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.

#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.

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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.

 

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, 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.

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.