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I gotta be me!!! A message for lefty blogospherian Democratic loyalists

Last night, I introduced this site to Vi Hart, the absurdly young mathemusician who produces brilliant math videos for the Khan Academy and YouTube.  And sometime during the night, 2:28am EST, to be exact, someofparts, an infrequent commenter, but one I hope will return more frequently, attempted to post another of Vi’s videos in the comment section. She was unsuccessful, but I have remedied that by careful editing.  The Vi Video she recommended is so important that I thought it is worth sharing on the front page.  So, here it is.  This video is for every lefty blogospherian Democratic loyalist who has decided to tailor the message for the commenters or other lefty blogospherian Democratic loyalists:

I didn’t know that when I tried to follow this advice that I would end up in the Oort Belt of the blogosphere, even farther away from the rest of the political world I knew than I was four years ago.  And on occasion, I’ve wondered whether I should have been more accommodating or commercial (I won’t lie, being on more blogrolls would have helped me get that 27″ apple Thunderbolt monitor I actually need.  No, really, I need better hardware for the other stuff I do.).  But I just felt that as nauseatingly repetitive and obnoxious as I sounded, I would rather be me and put it all out there as I see it than go chasing after readers.  Many readers have come and gone, mostly gone, but I gotta be me.

At some point, I realized that it was never my intention to follow the crowd or have the crowd follow me.  I write this stuff because someone has to.  Someone has to say what happened to the New Deal Democrats who were silenced in 2008.  Someone has to say what it’s like to be a formerly middle class professional who is being forced into self employment by the 1% and their Wall Street minions.  Someone has to document what happened to the research industry in New Jersey.  Someone has to explain what it’s like to be a female in 2012 who came of age in the 70s and 80s and has seen the scope of her gender’s opportunities suddenly shrink.  Someone has to act as an intermediary between the fundamentalist mind and the mind of the political junky (because this shit is real and it’s just now dawning on you how irrational it is, isn’t it?).

So, as I’ve said before, I’ll keep doing this even if I’m the only person reading it.  I’m not going to cater to my audience.  This is a blog after all, a “web log”.  It’s a journal.  Someday, probably after I’m dead, maybe someone will rediscover this hypergraphic diarrhea and decide that it has commercial value and it will make me famous a la Van Gogh.  Did Vincent paint his wheat fields and starry nights while thinking to himself, “This canvas is going to cost $40 million dollars someday and *this* one is going to be priceless.  Damn, why does it take so long for art to appreciate?  I’m almost out of cognac.  Maybe if I do something more accessible and commercially more profitable…”

You’re probably thinking, “{{snort}} She’s really dreaming if she believes that anyone will consider her writing to be some kind of masterpiece.”  Actually, that’s what *I’m* thinking.  But whatever my megalomaniacal brain or my insecure mind elf is thinking at any one time, I just gotta be me.  What else can I be than who I am?  I’m not interested in memeorandum or where I am in the blog rankings or whether I can attract advertisers (though, in retrospect, that might have gotten me that monitor by now… hmmm…).  If I don’t say it my way and relate to the reader my thoughts, then those thoughts will lose what little value they possess.  The left blogosphere may have decided that it’s better to not fight back because they’re scared or because it’s profitable or because getting hundreds of comments on a post is mind-blowingly flattering and makes the poster feel like the king of the world.  But if you’ve had to modify your message to one that you think is more palatable to your audience or one that will assure that the 1% will still employ you or so that your thoughts conform to be the same as the group to which you plan to belong because you think they are more important than you since everyone is paying attention to them, then part of the “you-ness” just got tossed away.

So, welcome to the Oort Belt.  Thanks for stopping by.  Yes, it’s pretty much always like this.  Yes, eventually I’ll get back to writing political snark, when I’m ready and the mood hits me.  You can’t force good snark.  There will probably be a lot of posts about things you may not be interested in or even knew about but that’s part of the journaling process, I guess.  I am a middle aged researcher, liberated from a dying industry that was murdered with the help of Wall Street, living in New Jersey, a child of the working class who rose into the most heavily taxed stratum of the middle class (and still remained a liberal Democrat) only to discover that to the 1%, we’re all working class, who is documenting what it’s like to be on the way back down, interpreting the fevered dreams of some of her fundamentalist relatives and trying to find the thread of her old Democratic party in the current political environment.

Take it or leave it.  And it looks like a lot of you still take it.  We’re not that far from 12,000,000 unique page hits and while the rate of unique page hits has decelerated significantly in the past four years, and we may never actually get to 12,000,000, like some infinite series concept that Vi Hart delights in talking about rapidly, 12,000,000 hits is way more than I ever expected.  Somewhere out there, some of you are thinking about strange ideas and concepts and relationships without your consent.  You may have been infuriated when you first read them here and now they’re lodged in your brain cells, and you can’t get them out.  They’re bumping up against other neurons and making new connections.  Bwahahahahahahhhhhh!  “That’s sick!”, you think, but it’s too late.  The meme has been passed to a new generation.  Whatever happens to it after this is out of my control.  But controlling you was never my intention in the first place.  I’m just a blogger.  No one special but as special as everyone who writes and has a right to write and be heard and think and spew random political stuff.

Thanks for reading.

In Praise of Bernie Sanders

I’ve seen some commentary on the left blogosphere lamenting the loss of Dennis Kucinich’s seat in Congress to Marcy Kaptur.  Apparently, we’re all supposed to mourn Kucinich’s departure from the political scene.  For all we know, the exile is only temporary so I’m not sure what the blogosphere is getting so worked up about.

But here again, I find myself out of step with my own side.  First it was over Howard Dean.  Apparently, I was supposed to be reduced to wild paroxysms of ecstasy over his “Democratic wing of the Democratic party” single line in a single speech but all I saw was a dilettante dabbling in politics in his spare time while his wife looked after patients and tended the garden.  And the 50 state strategy, in retrospect, was a disaster because it brought so many Blue Dog Democrats into Congress.  Hardly the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.  What I learned from Howard is that you need a real moral movement behind the electoral successes you want to see.

Then there was my difference with the same left blogosphere over their support of Barack Obama vs Hillary Clinton.  I have written over 1000 posts on that disaster so there’s no need to recount it here.  What I learned from Obama vs Clinton is the value of evidence.  If you can’t find any, distrust any claims.  On the other hand, if you see behaviors that you don’t like, you’d be a fool to ignore them just because you assume the candidate is something you are divinely wishing for.  Wishing doesn’t make it so. There simply is no substitute for data and there is nothing more likely to lead to the wrong conclusions than confirmation bias.

And now, there is Kucinich and the further demise of the true liberal Democrat.  There really aren’t that many left in Congress since Steny purged Massa and Weiner and made examples of them to other progressives if they even thought about bucking their leadership.  Some people claim that Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich were the last of the true liberals.  But I would disagree whether Dennis Kucinich is in Bernie Sanders league.  What I recall of Kucinich was his anti-war stance.  And it was very popular among lefties.  Well, we don’t like war, even those of us who have family members in the Army don’t like them.  And I was the single holdout in my family who never bought into the reasons for going to war in Iraq (see above for the value of evidence), which made me popular at family dinners.  When Kucinich ran for president, anti-war was what defined him in my mind.  Oh sure, he was for single payer health care and everything but for some reason Kucinich never resonated with me.  Whatever the left ever saw in Kucinich just left me cold.

At this point, we are three for three.  I’m beginning to wonder if there is something wrong with me or the left.  Going by the track record, I’m guessing it’s the rest of the left.  They need to figure out why they keep falling for politicians who don’t deserve them.

Anyway, I want to sing Bernie Sanders’ praises.  The guy is golden.  He is a true lefty but he understands the concerns of the little guy like few politicians can.  He seems to get how difficult it is to live in this country if you’re not rich.  I think he also has a different definition of success.  Success is not necessarily measured by how much money you make.  I don’t agree with Bernie on some issues.  For example, I don’t think the constant bashing of pharma is helpful, especially for those of us who have been forced out of pharma and have to figure out how to make a living while having to work in the big pharma framework on a smaller scale and dodging the CEOs and vulture capitalists who seek to exploit us.  I’d really like it if he spent some time exploring our issues, maybe talking to some of us, getting a deeper understanding of what drug discovery means.

But then I look back on his filiBernie from last year and I am eternally grateful to him for so much of what he DOES get right.  He knows what economic injustice means and how devastating it is to our future.  And he explains the issues and argues his points to clearly and persuasively.  It’s almost a shame we have C-Span.  Before the days of cable, a speech like Bernie’s might have gotten our full attention on prime time.

And Bernie is hard working.  I can’t remember when I subscribed to his email or twitter feed but I know more about what Bernie is up to than my own senators Menendez and Lautenberg.  My senators are relatively reliable liberals too but I have no idea where they’re speaking this week, what radio shows they’re appearing on, what bills they are introducing or co-sponsoring.  For any of that information, I’d have to go research.  But Bernie’s got a crack team of people letting me know what he’s up to every minute of the day and I have to say, Bernie appears to be working his heart out.  He might be a Don Quixote tilting at windmills but damn, the dude is tilting.  He appears to be tireless.

So, I’d just like to say, thanks, Bernie.  Thanks for sticking to your convictions as well as you do.  Thanks for speaking for the working people.  Thanks for looking out for our interests.  And thanks for being so well prepared, hard working and organized because luck favors a prepared mind.  Maybe this is what sets me apart from the left.  I admire the hard work, dedication, passion and preparation of people like Bernie Sanders.  That kind of behavior isn’t as topical or trendy as being the anti-war candidate but I can rely on Bernie to dig down into an issue and base his support on principle and conviction.  It reflects a kind of integrity.  If I ever had the chance to vote for Bernie, I wouldn’t find it difficult.  I only wish I didn’t have to move to Vermont to do it.

****************************

Continuing my theme of pounding on New Atheism and the secular movement, here is another podcast that is worth a listen.  This one is based out of Austin, Texas and is for feminist atheists.  It’s called Godless Bitches.  The title doesn’t reflect the articulate and rational voices of the participants whose dialog is sprinkled liberally with strong Texas twangs.  The latest podcast from the Godless Bitches takes on Rush Limbaugh and the birth control debate.  In this podcast, the shock and disbelief of the attack on women’s reproductive rights comes through loud and clear.  It is inconceivable (no pun intended) to these women that this fight is even taking place in the 21st century.  I hate to say this to the Judeo Christians out there but the horse has already left the barn on contraception.  You are not going to win this one.  In fact, this is the issue that may very well be your undoing.  The backlash will be ferocious.  You can check out Episode 2.5 here.

Now, some of you may be wondering why I keep bringing up all of these atheist podcasts.  Well, for one thing, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.  There is an ocean of them and I discover new ones every day.  They come in every flavor.  There are some that are rational to the point of being dry, there are some humorous ones like the war on Christmas speech that Rebecca Watson of Elevatorgate fame gave, there are brilliant speeches by activists like Greta Christina and there are some mainstream, accessible ones like Ask An Atheist and The Atheist Experience.

My point is that this is a growing movement based on positive atheism.  You don’t have to be an atheist to appreciate their point of view and advocacy of secularism.  The movement includes freethinkers, skeptics, rationalists, humanists and agnostics.  They are speaking out, coming out and getting together.  They are the push back to the Judeo Christian right.  In the past, it might have taken decades for these groups to organize to the point where they had an impact.  In many respects, it resembles the LGBT movement that developed over several decades.  But modern technology is changing all  of that.  Plus, they are having conventions and seminars all over the country and the world.  This is going to develop much more quickly than previous movements. In a couple of years or less, it could be a legitimate threat to the religious right, which may be why the religious right is pulling out all of the stops this year.  This election year may be the last one where the Republican party is able to use the dwindling numbers of the Judeo Christian right against our secular government.  It has to get as much authoritarian crap written into law as it can before its base loses critical mass.

So, this message is to those of you who are holding back about coming out.  It’s ok.  There are a lot of us out here who have deconverted from our Judeo Christian upbringings.  You may lose some friends and family but it gets better.  You will find other people like you as more and more of us come out.  And activists like Greta Christina are advocating for physical spaces where we can connect and build our own communities what will take the place of the churches we leave.  I think that’s going to happen more and more.  For all I know, the “religious liberty” meme is directed at the New Atheist movement.  It’s trying to get ahead of the rest of the American public because this movement has the potential to have a greater impact on government than Occupy.  It’s better organized, has been in existence longer and has a clearer set of goals.

Expect to see and hear anti-atheist messaging from the right in the next couple of weeks.  The last thing it wants is for secularism to make a resurgence in this election year.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson predicts the extinction of the fundamentalist Judeo Christian:

Movement Inertia

Something's gotta give

There’s more noise in the lefty blogosphere about how disappointing Democrats are, as well as how Obama failed to measure up.   Natasha Chart is so sick of the pyrrhic victories that she is begging Democrats to just sit on their hands and do nothing for the rest of their terms.  Max Blumenthal’s piece, Obama, the Fallen Messiah, is intriguing.  At least he understands that the left brought this upon themselves:

The liberal left has become so disgruntled that a leading conservative talk radio host asked me recently if progressives were considering a primary challenge to Obama. I laughed and stated my belief that despite his troubles, Obama would win a second term. Whether or not that happens, those former Obama fanatics experiencing a crisis in faith should look in the mirror. They demanded a secular salvation fantasy and participated in the messianization of the candidate who delivered it to them. They now know that Obama is just a politician. What they have refused to acknowledge is that he would not have fallen so hard had they not lifted him so high.

Too funny, Max!  I got kicked off of DailyKos because in my last diary there, I compared the Obama Movement to a jihad on other Democrats.  For that, I was called a racist and other Kossacks still refer to that diary as proof of my insidious racism.  Oooo!  I am so BAAAADDD.  Of course, you can still read the diary on DailyKos and judge for yourself.  I stand by every word I typed.  It was all too true. If that’s the diary that got me banned, I proudly take credit for it.  And then there’s this diary from December 20, 2008, Telltale Signs of Buyer’s Remorse, which accurately predicted even before Obama took office  that he would be a triangulator par excellence to appease the ones who bought him in spite of the world financial crisis and the Democratic majorities in both houses.

We didn’t get change.  Well, no one on this blog actually expected it.  But we do have a lot of inertia, “the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion”.  Because the Democratic party, with an influx of young Republican-esque members, conducted a jihad on the party faithful, there is no force exerting any will on the object, our government.  The Obamaphiles invested all their hope in a messiah who is now clearly shown to be a false prophet.   The question is, what is the left going to do about it?

I’ve been reading a lot of “very serious bloggers” who think that the formation of a third party is laughable and unreasonable, the stuff of fantasy for the naive.

Really?

Because from where I’m perched, the very serious set is floundering.  Jane Hamsher is making deals with Grover “bipartisanship is just another word for date rape” Norquist.  Her strategy skills have gone totally off the rails and she looks desperate and grasping.  The “enemy of my enemy” strategy won’t work, Jane.  Appealing to the squishy  right is a losing game.  You won’t make any headway with them until you can convince them to give up their social conservatism for their own economic good.  Much better to define strong principles and invite others to join you.  Never cede a single millimeter of what you believe or you will look weak and people who are in the squishy right *hate* any sign of weakness.

But there are a lot of other people out there, Democrats, Democrats in Exile, Independents, who make up a large voting bloc and right now have no representation.  We’re talking about 30-40% of state voting populations in places like NJ and CT who want another option and are tired of both parties gaming the ballots.  They are ready for an new movement where they can coalesce their forces and push back.

We’ve talked about it and talked about it.  We need a third party and we need the very serious among us to get onboard.  The only problem is that so many of them have lost credibility that they need to take a back seat.  Is that where the resistance is coming from?  It’s not a serious proposal if they can’t lead it?

They need to get over it.  They need to accept their responsibility for the way things are.  Many of them knew what was happening in 2008 but didn’t want to be ostracized from the Movement.  Isn’t there a quote about propagation of evil requiring men of goodwill to do nothing?

Are they going to do nothing again?  New parties have been created before.  The Republican party was born in 1854.  There is enough critical mass.  All that is required is that a force get behind that mass and move it forward.