Do you like what you’ve found on this Secular Progressive Outreach website? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Just pop me an email at the address listed above or click on the "Let's Chat" button at the lower right-hand corner of this page.
If you’ve got a suggestion as to a book or article you’ve found enlightening, convincing, or easy to understand, let me know. We may include it later on the “Books & Articles” page.
If you’ve found information about a charity or advocacy group and decided to make a contribution to them, I’d like to hear about it. Or not, if you prefer your donations to be anonymous. That’s OK too.
If you’ve contributed to a political candidate’s campaign and want to encourage other visitors to this site to do the same, let everybody know.
If you’ve discovered a film or documentary that was especially meaningful to you and want to share its title and source with likeminded viewers, give us the information and perhaps we can add it to our “Films & Documentaries” webpage.
For all these motives – and others, no doubt – please send us your comments.
I do request, however, that you express yourself in a courteous and respectful manner. I will delete vulgarities, and encourage you – as the English teacher I once was – to refine your vocabulary, being aware that usually no one’s mind is changed by shouting at them, ridiculing them, or attempting to shame them. When trying to be persuasive, please use logic and reason as your arguments. Missives from trolls will not be republished.
My wish is that we all help to keep this a friendly gathering place, conducive to a healthy exchange of ideas.
Gary M. Linscott
Our Visitors' Forum
November 26, 2020
RE: Documentaries listed on Secular Progressive Outreach
I forgot to say thank you for this!
I've been participating and hosting events through a meetup called Bohemian's Back for some time ... and I realize a lot of these [documentaries] would have been great to watch and then discuss. I'll definitely keep this in mind for future events and the like!
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
Emily E. Effner
November 30, 2020
So good to hear from you and to learn that you continue to sponsor group discussions!
One of the reasons I have for maintaining my website is to provide material that secularists and political progressives can access precisely for this purpose: to serve as the basis for informed discussions. These documentaries can be used by groups such as yours, or by circles of friends with similar interests, or for that matter, by clusters of family members in search of intellectual stimulation during the pandemic.
November 22, 2020
Thank you for your observations. You are right to draw attention to the ever increasing inequality in this nation. I am hopeful that President Biden, in his first hundred days, will carry out his election campaign promises to increase federal income tax rates for persons earning more than $400,000 per year, and to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This will just be a start.
It concerns me that 74 million people voted for Trumpism at the election, particularly as this apparently included millions of blue collar workers, the very people who have traditionally supported the Democrat Party and would be expected to want a more egalitarian society. While we will not know until January 5 whether they can control the Senate, Democrats must be looking to how to bring these workers back to their party before the mid-term elections in 2022.
November 18, 2020
Good morning, Cy,
You offer some very insightful comments here. Your remarks about Biden’s plans going forward are indeed correct. However, I would argue that the general perception by the American populace is that of calm and patient “Uncle Joe.” It is my opinion that Biden has brilliantly played both his campaign and his position as President Elect with his fairly low-key posture. After 4 years of literally insane chaos created by our Tangerine Idi Amin, most folks in this country are now looking for stability. The overall attraction of Biden is his persona rather than his policies. That’s why Biden won… besides being the Anti-Trump candidate.
Yes, Wall Street is in a remarkably strong position. Yet, it must be said that this growth has, in numerous ways, been at the expense of Main Street. Despite all the smoke-screening and massaging of employment, productivity and inflation reports, the average American is doing worse after 4 years of Trump. Over 50% of all stocks are held by the top 1%. Corporations and the uber-wealthy have disproportionally and dramatically benefited from such investment growth.
In addition, wages have remained stagnant for the past 40 years (when adjusted for inflation). Obviously, the frequently reported prosperity of the American economy is rather lopsided, in part based upon a gross and chronic inequity between the haves and have-nots. From my perspective, the illusion of a strong American economy is supported by an ever-thinning tightrope of factors. A virtual mountain of data supports this conclusion (read Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, et. al.).
It is a well-established axiom in Washington that you campaign in poetry and you govern in prose. Obama and Trump are the best recent examples of this principle… just where is that border wall that Mexico paid for? Obama’s campaign was an absolute insurgency. He was perceived by this nation and much of the world as the President who would return America to its pre-9/11 (pre-Bush/Cheney) greatness. As I mentioned previously, Obama’s two terms in office can be accurately described as a profile in timidity.
Time will certainly tell regarding Biden’s presidential leadership (or lack thereof). His track record thus far speaks more of moderation and compromise than it does of vision, passion, and transformational change. I concur with your emphasis on the necessity of going slowly regarding any much needed political, economic, and social change. Undoubtedly, Biden will encounter extreme resistance politically and also from deeply imbedded corporate interests. However, a grand plan must be put forward to guide these incremental steps toward a well-articulated future outcome (shades of the Powell Manifesto).
At this point in time, the Democratic Party seems completely unable to produce such a playbook. Presently, the limousine liberals and corporate Democrats have too much at stake to kill their goose who laid the golden egg. If Biden can muster the political will and ideological support to plant the flag of genuine change – through the use of Executive Orders or by other effective means – this may create a populist tipping point that party officials and the electorate must respond to with support. From my perspective, this may be our best-case scenario.
November 18, 2020
Dear MM and Progressive Friends
I do not like being a kill-joy but I do not see us as having won. Yes, Joe Biden won the popular vote by a huge margin but the Democrats lost seats in the House and it is still by no means certain that they will gain the two Georgia seats in the Senate.
Democrats need to recognize that they did not win; Trump lost. He lost because of his narcissism and ignorance. I suspect that if Trump had accepted the early advice of CDC experts that the "China virus" was going to be a pandemic and had led the nation by following their guidelines, not only would there have been fewer cases and fewer deaths, the economy would not have suffered so much and he could have been a hero.
It is appalling that 70 million people voted for Trump. Democrats failed to draw sufficiently from the median-left or the median-right. They have less than two years to prepare for the 2022 mid-term elections, and then for the 2024 general election. They must assess why they failed to flip Texas and Florida.
Joe Biden is not going to be able to unite the nation. The hard right is lost. The key is to understand the electorate and to be able to pull the median to the left.
I do hope President Biden has the courage to have Trump arrested and charged for his felonies and corruption.
November 17, 2020
Good morning, Cy,
Like you, I am happy that we’ll have a Democratic administration for the next four years. I suspect that we may be in now for having had to endure Republicans for the preceding 12 years.
There is SO much noise from these people, it is unbelievable. Just see what happened in DC, SD and Poway this past weekend.
Biden is a good and decent person and won’t rock the boat. We will still not get anything done in Congress, though, especially with Mitch there in any capacity. The stock market bears this out. They were worried that the Dems would cost them money, with new taxes, etc. But, with Mitch and Biden, all is good with the world.
As you probably know, I have volunteered a lot of my time the last 3 ½ years to Ammar Campa-Najjar’s bid for Congress here in the 50th. I continue to be saddened by the Dems inability to reach or convert more of the electorate.
I’ve just read the updated version of Don’t Think of an Elephant. So, I am really thinking of supporting liberal think tanks and universities, etc. We need to put our money (as the Republicans have) into those kinds of institutions, to train and educate people on messaging liberal and progressive ideas.
Appealing to human natures’ fears, and teaching hatred and suspicion has served the Republicans very well. (Yes, I know that the Dems have done this as well.)
I want to see more liberals and progressives in local and state offices. That’s how we can build a coalition and then be able to engage and mobilize folks more broadly and longer.
November 7, 2020
Dear Progressive Friends,
We won! We all won! We ALL won!
Who lost in this election? The 1% of millionaires and billionaires, the power of the Supreme Court to overturn the election, and the corporations that supported Trump!
How did we do it? By mobilizing the greatest number of American voters ever to come out to vote! Joe Biden got more votes than any other President in presidential history. When we vote, we win!
We must train our kids to vote in every election! Voting must be taught in grade school through college. Everybody should know how to vote. In my canvassing for the last four years I found so many – younger and older – who hadn't a clue what voting is about or how to do it! So sad!
Who won? All the people in the U.S. -- even those who didn’t vote for Joe Biden.
And our social security fund is secure. Trump had signed an executive order in August 2020 to stop the payroll tax deductions of current workers. If he could have followed through on that, our Social Security would have been gone in three years. Seniors, children, the disabled, are all saved from utter poverty!
Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman who ran for President in the U.S in the 1970's, would be rejoicing today! Her dream is fulfilled now in the person of Vice President Kamala Harris, a no-nonsense, tennis-shoe-wearing, go-get-‘em kind of gal!
Trump can be arrested on January 21, 2021 when he becomes a common citizen once again! That would be a good idea; it would send a message to young people everywhere that we are a nation of laws, and that they apply to everyone!
Trump is golfing today. No congratulations from him to President-Elect Joe Biden. This is a first in our nation. This is a very hard day for a mentally ill man. If he hadn’t been so malevolent we might feel sorry for him, but he hurt too many people! At the top of that list are the thousands of kids in cages, plus the 240,000+ Americans he did nothing to save from Covid-19!
Trump was the first "malignant psychopath" in our nation in the Oval Office! I believe no candidate should be allowed to run for office in the future without a psychological test from a panel of psychiatrists/psychologists. This must never happen in our nation again. Not while we possess weapons of mass destruction.
Melania will be gone. Not sorry to see her go! No more red Christmas trees at the White House. Trump’s nepotistic, spoiled, entitled kids will be gone. Ivanka will no longer be bringing her products into the country duty free.
This also ended Putin's interference in our elections!
Thankfully, 29 states have already passed laws requiring the Electoral College Electors to vote according to the will of the majority of voters, which ostensibly reduces the power of the Electoral College!
Jill Biden plans to continue teaching. That's a “first” for a First Lady! But will the Secret Service allow it because of security concerns?
I wonder if Jill's work with military families helped Biden’s cause!? Trump didn’t help himself by calling the military "losers and suckers!"
Everybody wins when we always vote Democratic straight down the line.
If Democrats had voted earlier, Joe would have won on November 3rd! Traditionally, Republicans vote early and Democrats vote late.
If the two GA Senate seats go to Democrats, there will be an even Dem/Rep Senate! If there is a tie in the Senate at any time, the Vice President Kamala Harris, will be the deciding vote! How ironic that would be! Mitch O’Connell got re-elected in the gerrymandered great state of Kentucky, but he would have no power to obstruct!
Great day in the neighborhood for all Americans! Mr. Rogers would be so proud of us!
October 15, 2020
The Supreme Court Justice nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, who the Republicans want in power, has been tracked by the Federalist Society since the beginning of her career. She is scarier than we knew. She is against abortion choice which often saves the life of the woman, and also opposes the Affordable Care Act. Little known is that she is in favor of re-criminalizing homosexuality. This woman is dangerous to a democracy.
October 7, 2020
Secular Progressive Friends,
I’ve recently received a number of interesting emails from a former colleague. These days she prefers to sign in as MM. I will go as far as to reveal that MM (Mysterious Matron?) is a she. Currently she is doing all she can to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. I find her activity and dedication heartening. Please take the time to browse through her missives that I’m posting here (above). I think you’ll find them encouraging too.
Gary M. Linscott
September 30, 2020
Re: The First Presidential Debate
Trump used interruptions to throw off Biden’s response. The Vice President was not ruffled; however, it was hard to hear his statements. I felt that watching the debate was a waste of time because it was so difficult to get clear remarks without Trump’s constant interruptions.
I probably will not listen to any more debates as a result. That [may be] Trump’s objective because he feels that Biden is a superior debater. He wants to sabotage the debates since he doesn’t control the format and his record is abominable.
September 30, 2020
Re: The First Presidential Debate
The Trump-Biden presidential debate in Cleveland was an insane spectacle.
In future debates they should turn off the mic of interrupters, or maybe silence the mic of the one who does not have the floor throughout the entire debate. Watching this debate [was] frustrating, maddening, and really not worth our time.
No need for another debate. It’ll just be another fiasco. It’s a moot point to debate someone with no intellect. How can you debate a liar?
September 30, 2020
Re: Flipping the Senate Blue
Gary, this is great. It inspired me to provide support for senators. Keep up the great work.
September 30, 2020
I went to Kaiser today and talked politics. Talked to the lady at the reception desk. Talked to the nurse. Talked to the doctor. (All we talked about was politics.) Talked to a stranger on the way to my car.
It may be easier for me because I am a woman and I think we are all connected. This is what I have been doing for 60 years, and I’ve accelerated the last 4 years. No one is a stranger.
Waiters and waitresses are easy [to talk to]. I got to talk to all the staff at IHOP. It took me two visits.
Tell people, Gary, [we] must take to the streets. No time to be shy! This is a DIRE TIME.
Explain to voters about not voting at the polls this time; to not take their ballot to the polls, but to take them to the Registrar of Voters directly. Many haven’t a clue what the ROV is or where it’s located. Explain that it is the entity that counts our votes. People don’t know this.
Make up flyers and put them on cars!
September 28, 2020
Debates are mostly about going through the motions. Most people have already decided their vote.
California voters, vote at home this year. Take your ballot to the Registrar of Voters, bypassing the Post Office this year.
I tell my letter carriers how the GOP has been trying to get rid of the Post Office since Reagan. The overlying reason is to destroy their huge Postal Union.
September 24, 2020
Secular Progressive colleagues,
It is evident that a Trump nominee, probably Amy Coney Barrett, is going to be appointed to the Supreme Court. It is a waste of time and energy fighting this nomination. Instead, Democrats should use it as ammunition to get citizens out to vote, not just with the aim of voting Joe Biden to the presidency but gaining seats in the Senate to reverse the Republican majority.
Citizens should be advised that this appointment will make it more likely that the Supreme Court will overturn Obamacare and Roe v. Wade. These issues should be brought to the fore and added to the disastrous management of the pandemic upon which to fight the election, thereby pushing aside economic issues, where Trump is apparently still highly thought of.
Humanists should note that M/s Barrett is an ardent Catholic. If appointed, the composition of the Supreme Court will be six Catholics, one quasi Catholic, and two Jews (fortunately secular). This is utterly out of proportion with the demographics of the nation and needs to be addressed if the Democrats gain a majority in the Senate and increase the number of Supreme Court jurists.
Well, here's my take:
1) This is awful. Period.
2) No surprise that GOP Senators are not men and women who honor their word not fill a vacancy in an election year. These people have no principals other [than] their partisan self-interest.
3) I don't believe it will change Presidential election dynamics. The "cake is baked" on that score.
4) It MAY affect Senate races, as Susan Collins postures to try to look moderate to save her seat.
5) Worst possible effect of RBG's death: gives the right-wingers on the Court more power to pick Trump as President if the election lands in the SCOTUS.
6) Roe v Wade: my least concern. For all practical purposes, abortion has already been banned in many red states through regulation. Overturning Roe will NOT outlaw abortion; it will simply return it to the states. California and other 'blue' states will keep it legal. Legal abortion has not really been available in 'red' states for some time.
7) One more thing: I'm annoyed that Ginsberg did not resign 2009-2011 when Obama had a Democratic Senate. My understanding is her cancer history goes back to 1999. History will decide if she put vanity ahead of being a team player. Just my opinion.
Aaron De Groot
September 19, 2020
In response to your email: All is not lost if Democrats will show some backbone for a change.
Schumer & Co. probably have the power to block [Trump’s nomination] by withholding unanimous consent, but have they the guts to do so? Not something we've seen in the past, but let's hope.
I believe if Republicans succeed in this maneuver, it would be ample justification for expanding the size of the court if Biden is elected. After all, the Supremes have been larger (10) before.
James H. Zimmerman, Jr.
Country Specialist, China
Amnesty International USA
September 19, 2020
Last election! I can't seem to get that across to some [people]. Nothing else matters.
Vote at home; take your ballot only to the Registrar of Voters on Hazard Way off Ruffin Road. Don’t take your ballot to the Post Office this election.
Republicans vote early; Democrats vote late. Dems must vote early this time.
I feel the same as you. A sense of doom. I think we may have lost. It may be too late to do anything. Maybe we really are outnumbered.
I don’t even like Joe Biden. I’ve decided to vote for him because I really don’t want to see 45 get one more term. I’m torn. On one hand, if we’d elected Hillary Clinton, we’d have the prospect of at least a moderate Justice to take RBGs place. On the other hand, if we elect Biden now, we may already have a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court by the time he takes office.
Maybe my boyfriend is right, and Biden won’t be any better than Trump. Maybe it IS time to refuse to let the Democratic Party hand us whatever corporate approved candidate they want. I don’t know.
I’ve been brooding about it all day. I expect I’ll still vote for Biden, and definitely will vote Democrat on all my other choices. But my heart isn’t really in it right now. I feel like we have lost already.
September 18, 2020
I loved your insights on films. Cinema happens to be one of my great passions. I think I miss going to movie theatres the most since the Covid pandemic began. I enjoy both docs and narrative fiction.
Two feature length films I have enjoyed the most over the last few years: Europa, Europa, a foreign film based on a true story from WWII. Also, a Communist-era film from the USSR called Come and See. Called by many the most realistic WWII film ever made, [it’s a] screenplay based on the true and very sad events in Belarus. Excellent movie; difficult to watch but truly unforgettable.
And one that's not a film but rather a Netflix series: Breaking Bad. Great acting, great script and terrific character development! Available on Netflix for free as long as one subscribes to that service.
Aaron De Groot
September 19, 2020
[Re: A Movie Watch List]
Hey, Gary, this is great!
September 14, 2020
I have read your website cover to cover. I am quite delighted. I find it an impressive set of intelligent, well thought out explanations and perspectives. I learned a lot from reading it through.
It may sway undecided voters. I hope it does. For the most part, people with whom I associate are entrenched in their political beliefs. Being a lifetime Democrat and atheist, I am one of the entrenched. It would take an irresistible force to move me any distance to the right. But I hope there are other people searching for a better path forward that can be led to your site.
I would like to recommend that your readers explore Vote Forward, an organization that has devised an easy way for us to get more voters to the polls. My wife and I have volunteered for the last six months. Here is a link: https://votefwd.org/
Here are some excerpts from their website:
· Mission statement: Our mission is to empower grassroots volunteers to help register voters from under-represented demographics and encourage them to vote. We build tools to enable Americans, wherever they may be, to encourage fellow citizens to participate in our democracy.
· Vote Forward volunteers send heartfelt handwritten letters to unregistered and low-propensity voters encouraging them to participate in our democracy.
· How-To Write Letters to Voters: With a Vote Forward account, you will gain access to your own volunteer Dashboard. From the dashboard, you can adopt voters, download typed letter templates to which you will add a handwritten message, manage your progress by marking your letters “prepared,” and mark them “sent” on the suggested mail date. We give you the template. Just print, complete, fold, sign, and mail.
· Proven effective: In a controlled experiment, turnout among letter recipients was 3.9 percentage points higher than turnout in the control group.
Keep up the great work Gary. I know what an intensive project it is to manage such an effective web site.
Wishing you the best,
August 31, 2020
Thanks for the offer of posting my views. You’ve assembled a good list [of charities and advocacy groups]. Most of them are great. Among them, the UN organizations, the Sierra Club, Feeding America, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
For my part, I regularly help the San Diego Jacobs/Cushman Food Bank, Project Wildlife (which provides aid to injured wild animals) and the San Diego Humane Society.
I also support the Anza-Borrego Foundation, which is the nonprofit partner for the state park of the same name. They do a great deal of education about the park and promote its many opportunities. They’re a good group.
Aaron De Groot
August 23, 2020
I sincerely appreciate your candor and honesty in confessing your preference for the Green Party. I too am drawn to the Green Party’s platform. And Bernie Sanders’ proposed agenda for America is my own. Within the Democratic Party, I identify with its liberal wing, and have donated (admittedly small) contributions to seven of its most progressive candidates. Frankly, this did not include Joe Biden – although, in order to defeat Trump I will contribute to his campaign now.
I spent a year as a Green Party volunteer prior to the 2016 election. I found many of its members knowledgeable and passionate about all the issues I care about. But when I did follow-up canvassing, I found that the overwhelming majority of Green Party “members” had simply cast protest votes against the Dem/Rep duopoly. Unfortunately, they had little interest in attending meetings, organizing, or expending energy to convert the party into a viable movement. I concluded, sadly, that the Greens are not yet ready for prime time. They don’t have the required personnel or organizational infrastructure to serve as a vehicle for pushing through progressive societal reform.
On my website’s Political Action page I’ve written an assessment of our predicament as secularists and progressives in light of the political realities Americans face. There I state “While neither [major party] fully represents our specific political philosophy, as unpalatable as it may seem, we are obligated to work within the framework of either one or the other.”
Am I disappointed that some constituencies were barely mentioned at the Democrats’ “convention”? Like young voters? Secularists? Hispanics? Muslims? The homeless? Yes, I am. But within this Big Tent coalition, it will be our responsibility to push the party toward the Left – toward Bernie and Alexandria Ocasio Cortes’ vision of the future.
Gary M. Linscott
P.S. Thanks for introducing me to the initialism VBNW (or its variation, VBNMW). For the benefit of our other visitors, it apparently means: Vote Blue No Matter Who – which, in order to defeat Trump, may have to be our temporary battle cry.
August 22, 2002
I stopped watching the conventions some time ago. I feel that they're really just staged advertisements for their parties.
August 21, 2020
I liked the virtual [convention] program much better than how it has always been done! The speakers were all great! [But here’s] my disappointment.
Bernie gave the best speech of all in my opinion .... Bernie laid out Biden's plan for the future. Bernie has been campaigning and drawing bigger crowds than anyone. And Bernie is telling his followers to support Biden. [But] have the mainstream Dem leaders been gracious? Nope!
It is as if the main Dem Party is dressed for war and along comes another army wanting to fight with them and they don't give him/them any thanks for his/their efforts. But the Progressive Wing will win the day and AOC will be our first female Prez!
August 20, 2020
Thank you for setting up this excellent platform for visitors to better understand Secular Humanism and for progressive people to exchange ideas. I have watched most of the DNC “conference” for the past three days and, like Aaron DeGroot and Rudy Villaseñor, I am not happy with all the references to God. However, we have to recognize that Donald Trump’s support comes from Christian Evangelicals and now is not the time to allow them to use non-atheism as a weapon against the Democrats. First we have to get Joe Biden and Kamala Harris elected. Then we have years ahead of us to help the nation to continue to come to its senses about Secularism.
Likewise, I say to Diana Diaz to be patient. Voting Green simply divides the opposition to Donald Trump as Ralph Nader did in 2000 to help make Dubya Bush our second worst President ever (the first worst being Donald Trump). M/s Diaz should take heart from several statements from Democratic speakers, including Bernie Sanders, that the Democratic administration will create thousands of new jobs by investing in renewable energy.
Best wishes to you all,
August 19, 2020
Hi, Fellow Secular Progressives!
Thanks, Gary, for providing this communication platform. My thoughts on the DNC so far: They're doing a good job under the circumstances.
I didn't much care for the Christian-specific opening prayer [but] I understand prayer/religion is where most Americans are at, although we seculars/humanists are a growing population. A general prayer for peace without mention of Jesus would have been more appropriate.
Having said that, I'm pretty happy with what I have seen. I am looking forward to Kamala's address tonight!
Aaron De Groot
August 19, 2020
Thanks for reaching out. I am at a political crossroad right now. Having been a strong Bernie supporter since 2016, I was beyond devastated when he dropped out. I won’t go into all the reasons why, but I have decided to vote Green for president this time. I was used to being at odds with my Republican relatives but being vote-shamed by my VBNW close friends and husband has been even more alienating.
My husband insisted on putting on the DNC propaganda show these past few days, and while I always felt distanced by their pandering to religious viewers, it felt even more distancing for me this time, as a secular progressive. I feel the Democratic Party has sold out to its corporate donors, leaving the poor out in the cold, while pretending to care about them. It’s too much. It’s not enough. This time, I vote Green for my heart, my conscience, my people, my planet.
August 19, 2020
I just watched a couple of the speeches but the ones of the two women, Michelle and Biden, were the most inspiring. And the prayer was I guess necessary to appeal to the Christians, but I also thought that it crossed the line between church and state.