Dude, where’s my progressivism?! Why I no longer identify as progressive.

For many years I self identified as a proud progressive. I identified as such because I believed in such things as secularism, universal healthcare, affordable education, various other social safety net programs,  gay rights, gender and racial egalitarianism, I was pro-choice, etc. I didn’t always fall directly in line with mainstream progressive views, but I generally did. While my political self-description has changed, my values really haven’t.  Continue reading

Atheists are Differently Religious – and No, Atheism is not the/a Religion

A main focus of this blog is to consider and compare different political and ethical philosophies so as to promote better understanding of one’s own worldview and those of others. I frequently focus on progressivism/liberalism and libertarian conservativism, arguing that these incompletely overlapping moral/political philosophies each have their own internal logic and validity, but that when viewed from the perspective of the other, each is libel to look stupid and/or even evil.

Close to a year ago, I posted Atheists are Religious. Here I re-post it with modifications. In this article, I argue that while lack of a belief in this or that God is not itself a religion, any value system that an atheist may hold is ultimately ungrounded in any sort of empiricism. Rather, these and all value systems rely on circular self-validation and assumptions and assertions that are themselves unscientific. As I will argue below, this doesn’t make them wrong or deserving of dismissal; it just means that subscribers cannot claim that their values are rooted in nothing but reason and logic. Reason and logic, in these value systems, are applied based on unempirical values, which can be conceived of as faith claims about an implied moral/existential reality. Continue reading

How much do you notice the politics of your fellow city dwellers?

In a few months I will be moving to California for my first job as an Occupational Therapist (Edit: This never happened. – Ron – December, 2012). During my job search a key factor I considered was the political leanings of cities. As a politically oriented progressive atheist I applied to positions in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, LA, Anaheim, San Diego (yes, I know that SD is relatively conservative, but still California), Hawaii, Halifax, Toronto, and various other locations in Ontario, Canada. By contrast, I did not apply to any postings in Texas, Alabama, Florida, or Utah, and only applied to a couple in Alberta. Liberal bias much? Much too much. And I’d do it again.

Here’s what’s interesting. I currently live in London, Ontario, a city which I’ve heard referred to as “ultra conservative” (at least by Ontario standards) on several occasions. I’ve never really felt like I live in a conservative city. There was one time when I went to an Ann Coulter speaking event in London and was pretty stunned by how many far-right conservatives came out. But by the same token, I’m sure that if Michael Moore had come to town, I’d have been surrounded by Lefties. The Coulter event was the only time that I’ve ever felt like I was in a conservative space.

On the other hand, I have been living in London as a graduate student. Liberalism tends to run high in universities. Furthermore, the occupational therapy field can be argued to be left-of-centre at its core. These have no doubt been key factors in affecting the degree to which I perceive myself to be living in a conservative city.

Another factor that has significantly affected my experience is that being a strong atheist progressive, the people I hang out with have tended to be secular and left-of-centre. I have progressive religious friends, but I don’t know that I have any conservative friends. Unless a person lives in an incredibly polarized place, they will probably have a disproportionate number of friends of similar moral/political opinions (including relative indifference) to themselves. What is more, when I have interacted with people of significantly differing social/political/religious opinions, these differences often do not come up in conversation. A few days ago I spoke with a Christian Conservative. The subjects of our conversation: Charlie Sheen, winning, hot sauce and restaurants. It was delightful. All of this has got me thinking:

How much do the political views of a populace leak into day-to-day life?
If you live in a liberal city or town, to what degree does it feel liberal? The same for conservative cities and towns.

Talking to political adversaries: Tips on reaching across the aisle

Reaching Across or Reaching Around?

With corrupted campaign finance and limited oversight and regulation over the intersections among government agencies (e.g., The White House and The Pentagon) and between government and private industry, big finance and media, one could easily argue that genuine ideological debate in America has taken a backseat to public-to-private reach-arounds masquerading as Republican-Democratic reaches across the aisle.

If the Republican and Democratic parties were mixed drinks, they would be glasses of corporatism with small shots of ideology.

Of course, whether the bartender was George Bush, Barack Obama, John Boehner, or Harry Reid, the patron would be led to believe that they had just bought a straight triple of their ideology of choice; likewise, they would be told that the reason that the other drink tastes so bad is because it is a straight triple of that other, yucky ideology. And almost none of the Senators, Congressmen and women and members of the mainstream media who would be the alcohol regulators at the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) in this metaphor would call any of these bartenders out on this, as they’ve been at the bar drinking for free since lunch time. They are typically too drunk and too hooked on the free drinks to do anything but uphold the lie. This often leads to the trusting patrons of The Establishment being unnecessarily divided. While Republican drinkers and Democratic drinkers do have different palates, they are often mislead into believing that the corporatist solvent in the other Party’s drink is the ideological shot, or solute.

Often times, it would appear that members of each drinking group don’t mind the qualities of the other group’s shot as much as they think; they’re just confusing it with the flat, tainted corporate coke that it has been deeply diluted in.

How do we get past this? Just drink shots. Continue reading

Why Obama and Democrats are Less Trustworthy than Bush and Republicans

It might seem hyperbolic or facetious that a left-leaning blogger would argue that Obama and the Democrats are less trustworthy than Bush and the Republicans. Part of this impression can be done away by me immediately disabusing you of what your first impression may quite reasonably be: I am not saying that Bush or Republicans make better, more desirable leaders than Obama or the Dems. What I am arguing is that Republicans can generally be trusted more than Democrats to do what they say they are going to do. In a nutshell, the reason is that interests of the stakeholders and influencers of the Republican Party (i.e., voters, donors, lobbyists, and party elites) are far more aligned than those of the Democratic Party. As a result, it is far easier for Republicans to walk their talk than it is for Democrats. Continue reading

Is Obama a Fauxgressive – a Fake Progressive, or Simply a Non-Progressive?

Obama is no progressive. Not even close.

A progressive wouldn’t load up his front office with corporatists like Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel; he wouldn’t look the other way when Chief of Staff Emanuel calls progressives “retards”; he wouldn’t spend years prior to his Presidency being mentored by, of all people, Joe Lieberman – every corporatist Republican’s favourite “Independent” “Democrat”; he wouldn’t give up the public healthcare insurance option (which had massive majority support of Americans across the political spectrum, which by the way, he rarely or never mentioned) without a fight; he wouldn’t support corporatist/Republican efforts to cut Social Security, MediCare and Medicaid, three of the most popular social programs in American history; he wouldn’t continually accept Republican framing of issues and perpetually treat Republicans and “Conservative Democrats” (read: corporatist Democrats) as honest actors whom sincerely want to do what is best for America; he wouldn’t hire on the people who broke the banks to run the banks; he wouldn’t waffle and wain over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; he wouldn’t pretend to close international CIA black sites and then turn a blind eye to those in Somalia; he wouldn’t continue and escalate Patriot Act policies; he wouldn’t pass Financial Reform that fails to put a stop to many of the most risky and system-threatening financial practices (e.g., bank over-leveraging, intermixing of depository and investment banking, continued poor regulation of derivatives trading); he wouldn’t outspend Bush on defense; he wouldn’t extend the unpopular “temporary” Bush tax cuts to the rich; he wouldn’t further lower corporate taxes; he wouldn’t continue funding Faith-Based Initiatives; he wouldn’t derisively refer to progressives like Bernie Sanders as “you progressives”; he wouldn’t escalate the fight in Afghanistan at a time when there were no more than 100 Al Qaeda operatives remaining there; he wouldn’t largely ignore and completely excuse the egregious economic mismanagement, international law debasing and civil liberties destroying practices of the previous administration and then continue the very same practices himself; he wouldn’t pretend that the Dems and Republicans are equally at fault when policy discussions come to stalemates when only the Republicans are being obstinate.

It’s  not his lack of success in advancing progressive causes that make him not a progressive. It’s his perpetual lack of effort and capitulation. There is nobility in trying and failing. There is no nobility in playing the role of the jobber in professional wrestler: the pre-determined loser of every match.

Some may say that it is unfair to call Obama a fake progressive, or a fauxgressive, because he so clearly distances himself from progressives and progressivism. Continue reading

Huge Slant On The Young Turks

For a few years I have been a HUGE fan of The Young Turks, a progressive online news commentary program. However, in recent months my enthusiasm has abated significantly. The leading reason is a perceived one-sidedness in the show’s coverage of certain issues, most notably tax cuts for the wealthy. Continue reading

Bush’s Book: A Book on True Crimes

In the video below, Dave Koller talks about a new movement that he has taken part in, wherein participants take it upon themselves to move copies of George W. Bush’s new book on his presidency to the True Crimes section of the bookstore.

This brings to mind a practice of some “militant” atheists of moving copies of religious texts such as the Bible to the library or bookstore’s Fiction section…

Great Young Turks Segment On Democratic Party

In response to the Democrats taking a beating in the Midterm Elections, Cenk gave a great call to action against the Democratic Party establishment.

The Young Turks’ popularity and viewership just keeps growing. Yesterday they announced that Cenk will be hosting on MSNBC every weekday for at least an hour for the grand majority of November. Today they announced that in the month of October, TYT YouTube videos were viewed over 20 million times – a new monthly record. I hope he brings his A-game on MSNBC. He’s done great a bunch of times since the summer, but I think he came off more as a Big Media TV news commentator than as Cenk “Keep It Real” Uygur in his recent guest host appearance on Countdown, with Keith Olbermann away.

Atheists Are Religious.

Just because one does not believe in a God, Gods, karma, reincarnation, astrology, L. Ron Hubbard, or eighteen year old “elders” who knock on your door on Sunday mornings to bring you the good news from Utah, that doesn’t mean that they are not religious. I don’t know that I’ve ever met an atheist who wasn’t religious in their own way. I certainly am. Like other atheists, I subscribe to a sort of religion that is both different and similar to what we conventionally refer to as “religion”.

How are atheists religious? Continue reading