What is My Role?

It’s May 1st, and today Harrisburg, PA and several cities across the country will be taking this day back to its roots as a day of action and dissent.  Perhaps because today begins the first week after President Trump’s “100 Days“, rallies in support of immigrants are planned.

I will be at Harrisburg’s, camera at the ready.  I will be taking on what seems to be one of my two main roles as a member of the resistance to Trump and his mainly rural supporters.  The role of chronicle.

This is an important role, as history has shown that photographs play a part in getting people to become sympathetic to an idea or movement; the Civil Rights Movement, with images from Selma. Montgomery, etc, anti-war movements, and the Arab Spring all were helped by images.  They also provide a record that future generations can look back on.

The second role I play is that of conduit.  I am frequently sharing or re-tweeting information I find to the appropriate allies.  I will also confess to engaging in memes, like any other social media user.

It’s kind of odd that rather than create new roles, I am merely doing what I always do.  That is not to say some of this may not be done with a new twist.

Resistance is -NOT- Futile–It’s Necessary

Yesterday, April 29, President Trump spent part of his hundredth day in office speaking to his “Trailer Park Caucus” in Harrisburg, PA.  It was likely for him better than being in DC where there was a climate march and the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.  It seems that Trump needed a “safe space” of his own.

Or was he trying to hide from his relative lack of accomplishments.  Besides signing executive orders, the same things that had the mobile estates in an uproar under Obama, and getting a Supreme Court Justice confirmed, with some extreme measures required, he hasn’t done much in terms of legislation.  His only attempt so far, an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, has not ever reached the House floor.  That bill can’t seem to get support from Trump’s own party.

The failure to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act is but one of several successes of “The Resistance”.  This group of minority, women, and millennial activists has not gone away.  Their efforts began literally on day one, with the “Disrupt J-20” events , the next day brought a “Woman’s March”.  Others have followed, a call for Trump to release his taxes, a “March For Science”,  and most recently a “People’s Climate March”.  There are more planned, May 1st will bring rallies across the country in support of immigrants.  There have been marches at airports, occupations of ICE facilities, and numerous other local events.

Harrisburg, PA has played its role in this.  When a minority family had its car vandalized soon after Trump’s election, 50 or so people held a vigil on the Friday before Christmas on a day’s notice.  That was only the beginning; Harrisburg has had its own “Women’s March”, a march for immigrants and refugees, a rally and march for Muslims, two rallies to preserve the Affordable Care Act, and the list goes on and on.

That’s not to say that the resistance has not had flaws.  Very often it seems that groups are not coordinating, yesterday there were several marches and rallies planned for Trump, and it would have been impressive if all of these events could have converged into one massive rally.  There also seems to be a gap between Democratic leadership and the resistance.  The leaders of the party seem reluctant to embrace the ideas of the youth that will become the party’s base in a few decades.

One thing I would like to see is a the anti-war movement of the early part of the 2000s reawaken.  Trump’s foreign policy seems like a mix of cold war and video game thinking.  A reawakened anti-war movement could merge with the current resistance and make both movements stronger.

I finished reading “A People’s History of The United States” a few weeks ago.  It seems that the history of America is one of repression and resistance.  It’s our time and our turn now.  History will judge our efforts, and so far, I like what I see from the resistors.

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.

 

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.

Fighting The Same Battles

I spent part of Wednesday, March 29, cleaning my apartment.  One area that got tackled was a table that had buttons.

Looking at the collection, I couldn’t help but realize that many of the sentiments on the buttons are still relevant today; a button from Planned Parenthood urging “Don’t squash our freedom of choice”, a button from a rally against the “War on Women”, a button for the American Civil Liberties Union to “Keep America safe and free” and a button from 2008 that says “Legislate Against Hate”.

It does seem that activists are having to spend time and resources to maintain gains, rather than to advance.  Instead of having to defend the Affordable Care Act, we should be taking the next steps towards the kind of national, single-payer, plans that the rest of the industrialized world have.  We should not be fighting voter id laws, but advancing ideas like open primaries and same-day registration.

Of course, the Right knows this, and use this to their advantage.  They attack access to reproductive health of women, or the ability of workers to organize.  Thanks, perhaps, to the unlimited power of corporate interests to influence.