I speak about the decline within the Republican Party, and its efforts to limit people’s right to vote.
In May, Colonial Pipeline, the supplier of fuel for the East Coast, was hit by a cyberattack of ransomware by a gang in Russia, demanding a payment to reopen the pipeline. (Was the Russian government behind this? I wouldn’t put it past Putin.) Cybersecurity was so weak that a gang of criminals had Colonial shut down its operations for six days. (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/08/us/politics/cyberattack-colonial-pipeline.html)
Early in June, JBS, one of the nation’s largest meat-packing companies, was also hit with ransomware by a criminal gang from Russia. (https://www.reuters.com/world/us/some-us-meat-plants-stop-operating-after-jbs-cyber-attack-2021-06-01/) (https://www.npr.org/2021/06/03/1002849920/meat-packer-jbs-expects-to-operate-at-near-full-capacity-after-ransomware-attack) In both instances, companies producing a vital product were forced to pay off the gang, production was slowed down, and our national security compromised.
President Joe Biden, in his plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, would include upgrading our internet capacities, which I believe should include cyber-security, the ability to resist such attacks, and repair any damage they might cause. The Republicans, anxious to stamp out any plans that benefit the people and provide jobs, is bickering about what to include under “infrastructure.”
The internet is as vital to our lives as are railroads, roads, bridges, dams, levies, and electric power stations; without them, we wouldn’t function as a society, and it would be a disaster during a national emergency, say, a war, a pandemic, or a natural catastrophe like the outage of the Texas power grid during the snowstorm (https://www.npr.org/2021/06/03/1002849920/meat-packer-jbs-expects-to-operate-at-near-full-capacity-after-ransomware-attack).
Thus I say the internet counts definitely as infrastructure, and we must definitely include it in the Biden infrastructure plan, and upgrade it, including security, so some entity could no longer hold it hostage.
Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: The Praxis With John Mason, June 1, 2021 https://open.spotify.com/episode/0GaIWf15HpRmoxfld5pxxF
I hope you all voted; I took part in my division’s election board, setting up the voting machines, showing people how to work them, and taking them down, along with helping people sign in the book to vote. I encourage all of you to try to take part in the election system in your jurisdiction; it’s supposed to be OUR electoral system and OUR government.
The Republican Party, in an effort to appease the trumpist base (in every sense of the word), continue the count of the votes in Maricopa Country, Arizona (where Phoenix is located), in the hunt for anything wrong with the vote count during the 2020 elections; (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-57089359) to the Republicans, the problem was the election of Biden, not trump, and they continue their state of denial about the election results.
How can we deal with the Republicans if they’re descended into such madness? The ideal of American politics was to have both parties come together over a bill or an issue, negotiating in the smoke-filled rooms of legend, and finally, for the good of the country, come to a deal that benefits both sides. But we can’t do that anymore, when you see the willful stubbornness of Senate MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who blocks Democratic proposals because he can; and the new grassroots of the Republican Party which carries the noxious weeds of racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theorizing, religious charlatanism, plutocracy/oligarchy, and authoritarianism-all of which was known in an earlier time, and it applies today as FASCISM.
This slide to nowhere is even more evident in how the Senate failed to attain the two-thirds majority to allow on the floor the vote on the bill the House passed to create a bi-partisan commission to investigate the ransacking by rabid trump loyalists of the Capitol-which could have killed some of the members, and did kill a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick. This psychotic mob could have killed them, but they didn’t have the guts to stand up to trump and all the racism and bullying he stands for. (https://apnews.com/article/michael-pence-donald-trump-capitol-siege-government-and-politics-4798a8617bacf27bbb576a4b805b85d9?utm_medium=AP&utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&fbclid=IwAR35AQdrvjaIPQZ0nt8TEGbxdIwf80TAsE_3RVtiB3tkreb6-INT7JKw7ds)
There has been talk about more mainstream conservative Republicans trying to retake the party to save it from the trumpist elements; the Lincoln Project, which their terrific videos hitting at trump and his brood of vipers, comes to mind, and they’ve done great work at it. But Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative columnist, argues that the party is beyond redemption, and must come to an end (https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/republican-former-officials-anti-trump-manifesto-may-be-tilting-windmills-n1267523).
Part of the descent into madness is the Republicans’ denial of any problems with the pandemic, as if it doesn’t exist, and they’re trying to punish Democrats for doing something about the pandemic. In Pennsylvania, the Republican-dominated state legislature pushed for two amendments to the state constitution that would take away from the governor the power to declare emergencies-which is what Governor Tom Wolf did at the start of the pandemic, shutting down businesses and mandating mask-wearing throughout the state, in an effort to word off the COVID; the two amendments passed, since people don’t usually pay attention to them (which was what the Republicans counted on). (https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/those-constitutional-amendments-were-aimed-at-the-pa-supreme-court-as-much-as-they-were-at-wolf-bruce-ledewitz/)
Another sign of this was when in April, at a Congressional hearing, Jim Jordan of Ohio, kept raving at Dr. Anthony Fauci about restriction on assemblies due to COVID, constantly demanding like, “When are we going to get our freedom and liberty?” (I’m paraphrasing) Fauci, a man of science who follows CDC guidelines and pays attention to scientific data as it is updated at the moment, kept telling Jordan that the rate of infections have to go down so we can live our lives, but Jordan acted like we were under a dictatorship where we can’t assemble to worship. It was all hysteria and hyperbole to play to the party base, i.e., trump, and it was not at all reasoned debate over ideas and facts. (https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/15/politics/jim-jordan-anthony-fauci-hearing/index.html)
And we certainly can’t forget Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Jewish-space-laser lady from Georgia, who compared mask mandates for combating COVID to Jews in nazi Germany being forced to wear the yellow star. (https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/05/marjorie-taylor-greene-masks-holocaust) All through the pandemic, the Republican Party failed to call out the trump regime for failing to take action about the spread of the virus that killed over 560,000 Americans, and has enabled him in his denial of its reality.
You can’t take seriously these calls for “freedom” from a party whose legislatures pass laws restricting the availability of voting facilities, aimed at prohibiting communities of color and college students from exercising the right to vote for which people have suffered and died; and certainly not after these legislatures pass laws that criminalize peaceful protests, including allowing drivers to run their vehicles over them.
Another threat to our freedoms is the weakening of our news organizations due to media companies cutting back on reporting staffs for their outlets, so they can’t do their job of informing the public about what’s going on in their communities. The latest example is Alden Global Capital, which has recently purchased the Tribune Publishing group, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, and several other newspapers. Alden’s motus operandi is to purchase a newspaper and cut back on its staff and sell its real estate assets to maximize profit, at the cost of keeping the public informed about their communities. (https://www.npr.org/2021/05/21/998730863/vulture-fund-alden-global-known-for-slashing-newsrooms-buys-tribune-papers?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20210521&utm_term=5405403&utm_campaign=breaking-news&utm_id=53850579&orgid=433&utm_att1=)
But phrases like “serving the public” and “benefitting the community” are obscenities to republicans, who compare them to Stalinism and the Gulag; the “writings” of Ayn Rand are a peak into that mindset.
Do they think we’re going to sit back and take it? It seems like it, and so, alas, does the corporate media-but we’ll prove them wrong. We’re continuing to organize, to educate ourselves on the issues, and preparing for the next time we vote, along with continuing to be public about our opinions. Our ancestors fought fascism abroad and beat it; we can and will beat fascism here at home. And as we enjoy this three-day weekend, please remember those of our armed forces who gave their lives in the service of our country.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! America will be free! Bye!
I’ve had to start searching for a new health care provider, since the plan I’m currently on will expire at the end of August. If I was to continue with my current Aetna plan, I would have to pay $900.00 a month (!). I started an on-line search, and saw dozens of health-insurance brokers, and I worried about working with a reputable one. I left them my phone number for information, and all of a sudden I got all these robocalls, one right after the other, and it drove me crazy. It’s a serious concern-which one of these is a legitimate firm, and which one is a scam? The constant harassment of consumers would indicate a scam. I eventually had to change my landline phone number; it’s no different from changing the passwords on your social media.
It’s occasions like this where a national health care plan, i.e., Medicare for All-and All means ALL!- so you don’t have to go through this nonsense of having to look for a decent health care plan and not have to go through some boiler-room racket to find one; that’s a source of stress on top of whatever health problems you may have already. Health care should be treated like a right of every American, and not some luxury for the affluent. Let us continue our work towards that goal until we get it.
Also, if you have any robocalls coming at you constantly, you can contact the National Do Not Call Registry, run by the Federal Trade Commission, https://www.donotcall.gov/.