First, a reminder to all Californians... to vote. Mail that ballot in! I assume, since you are visiting Contrary Brin, that you're sane enough to vote: "No."
Only now, since I've gone several weeks without posting anything provovcative or controversial, let's see what a storm I can provoke.
== Bill Maher, sellout or standard bearer for the Roosevelteans? ==
Well, it's an ecological niche that only Bill Maher occupies, alas.
While I like and enjoy many of the late-night liberal show hosts - especially fellow sci fi nerd Stephen Colbert, who gave me a cap! - I do wish more of them will draw lines in the sand and admit:
"Yes, there does exist some crazy among the good guys, too. And that crazy sometimes hurts the cause of justice and progress, more than it helps."
Before you scream in outrage and/or wander off in disgust, let me reiterate what you see here frequently, that our greatest danger is from an insane and treasonous Mad Right - a risen Confederate lunacy - that is waging open war - at the behest of oligarchs, mafiosi and Kremlin agents - against not only justice and tolerance but vs. every single modern fact-using profession. That last aspect gets underplayed in liberal media, but it is the core hate-and vendetta of the oligarchy. Especially Fox News.
Having said that, I assert also that you would be nuts not to grudgingly admit that our side has some flaws, including a passl of real nut jobs and bullies. With this major distinction!
* Yes, the FAR left CONTAINS some fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality and symbol-fetishes on you.
* But today’s ENTIRE mad right CONSISTS of fact-allergic, troglodyte-screeching dogmatists who wage war on science and hate the American tradition of steady, pragmatic reform, and who would impose their prescribed morality and symbol-fetishes on you.
There is all the world’s difference between FAR and ENTIRE. As there is between CONTAINS and CONSISTS.
So sure. We must spend 99% of our current attention reinforcing humanity's sole hope - a rationally-tolerant and self-critically improving enlightenment experiment, fighting for its very survival against Putin-Murdoch and their hirelings!
And yet, our Union side of this desperate latest phase of the 250 year American Civil War is harmed by the far-fewer but still horrible nut-job bullies on our own side. Splitters who helped make today's demographically-challenged GOP the force that it is and remains.
== More voices needed ==
I must cite especially, Maher's recent riff about "cultural appropriation," a far-left guilt trip fetish that has no redeeming qualities. It's not an exaggeration or conflation of something good... it's just simple, flat out insanity.
Oh, I'll grant that original sources should be credited and acknowledged! Like Greece always leading the parade of nations at the Olympics.
Sure. If any Hawaiians show up at a surfing competition, they oughta get - in perpetuity(!) - the right to go first! And first-pick naming rights on anything in the entire universe that's discovered by mighty observatories now using the one, great and unambiguously miraculous gift of Poli'Ahu, the crystal clear skies on Mauna Kea.
And if there's a Black musician or Jew in a Jazz band, they get to choose the order of their instrument solo.... fine. And for the record, real theft, like native lands, should get major redress! But that's not the purpose of "cultural appropriation!" Which is sanctimoniously chemical.
Elsewhere I discuss the worst addiction and most harmful one in the modern age... self-righteous indignation and sanctimony, which poisons every political extreme, especially the extreme that has completely taken over the U.S. mad Right...
...but that also fluxes across elements of a farthest-left that - while wholly justified to impatiently demand progress - rejects any notion that they are beneficiaries of generations of vigorous but pragmatic reformers who had (and needed) much thicker skins and suffered far worse indignities in order to open doors for today's "trigger-warning" activists.
The indignity of proclaiming that one is fragile - dealt crippling wounds by the slightest error of wording - is one that Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman and Robert Smalls and Mohandas Gandhi and Rosa Parks and MLK and Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X would have found puzzling, if not bizarre, even pathetic.
The dissing and shit-hurling at ALLIES (as some will hereupon hurl at me) is less-surprising (read Orwell's Homage to Catalonia) but just as impractical, unhelpful and spectacularly self-indulgent.
== Loudness doesn't make you the leader of liberalism ==
On Bill Maher's show, he talked about "progressophobia", a term he claimed Steven Pinker coined to describe "a brain disorder which strikes far-liberals and makes them incapable of recognizing progress." Not a new observation for anyone who has spent time here.
The punch line: "It's like situational blindness, only the thing that you can't see is that your dorm in 2021 is better than the south before the Civil War."
And yes, so much as mentioning Maher’s name makes me eeeeevil! This despite the fact that he (and I!) have done more for progress in any month than most of those fuming at me right now have, across their entire lives.
Alas that he and Barack Obama - along with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and AOC (see below) - seem to be among the last voices for the most effective reform movement the US ever saw… Rooseveltism, that finally got progress in gear after beating back the oligarchs, invigorating labor unions, crushing fascist monsters and beginning a long, long, too-long grinding climb out of Jim Crow and the chasms that seem built-into human nature.
Refusing to see how powerful that coalition was has led the left to make a series of mistakes that drove working whites into the arms of confederates, leading to Reaganism and our long slide.
== Polling Americans ==
The Pew Research Center, which does some of the country’s best polls, classifies all Americans as being in one of nine different political groups. The categories range from “core conservatives” on the right to “solid liberals” on the left, with a mix of more complicated groups in the middle. While I am suspicious of many categorization attempts, this one makes a hugely important point, that on average most US racial minorities -- blacks, hispanics etc -- tend to be liberal of course, but also highly skeptical of the most-woke or leftish component.
"Much of the recent political energy in the Democratic Party has come from solid liberals. They are active on social media and in protest movements like the anti-Trump resistance. They played major roles in the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as the rise of “The Squad,” the six proudly progressive House members who include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"All six of those House members, notably, are people of color, as are many prominent progressive activists. That has fed a perception among some Democrats that the party’s left flank is disproportionately Black, Hispanic and Asian American.
"But the opposite is true, as the Pew data makes clear.
"Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters are to the right of white Democrats on many issues. Many voters of color are skeptical of immigration and free trade. They favor border security, as well as some abortion restrictions. They are worried about crime and oppose cuts to police funding. They are religious."
This is not to undermine "solid" liberals devotion to wokedness. You be you! And we'll get nowhere without conscience-prodding!
And yes, as an old fart I know I must adapt to shifts in vocabulary and get more woke in some ways! My kids, in their 20s, make sure of that!
Still, the fact that the very minorities that PC foks call clients sometimes sniff dubiously does help explain some electoral disappointments. And if you want these groups to be fully mobilized in 2022, it might be best NOT to assume all folks of color are clones of the most-visible activists.
We need to be flexible enough to negotiate our coalition's best tactics...
...as I tried to point out in Polemical Judo.
== Oh, one last point about AOC ==
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is rightfully hailed as one of the savviest politicians of a new generation. But many of her fans don't know the half of it.
Look more carefully! She is playing her role as a left-ish gadfly working with Liz and Bernie to keep the DP's Overton window from conceding too much. But she is not at all like the rest of her 'squad' in many ways. She very clearly wants Joe Biden to succeed, for example. And, like Bernie, her goal is re-establishment of the Greatest Generation's Rooseveltean social contract.
Watch what'll happen in 2022, when some of you will start trawling around for excuses to denounce Biden as "corporatist" ruled by Democrat-lite sellouts, as you go prepping to sit on your hands or otherwise betray us... the way the left betrayed us in 1980, in 1994, in 2000, in 2010 and 2016.
Just watch how AOC and Stacey Abrams and Jamie Harrison and Bernie will come after you. With a stick.