For those who don't know much about me

Here is my February 13, 2015 post at Booman Tribune (and TOP) when I decided I was no longer going to remain an anonymous poster online. Most of the information is still current, except I have decided to no longer post to the GOS, obviously, and don't consider myself a Kossack.

Yes, that's a recent photograph, taken this year, of yours truly. Today is the day I come out of the shadows of internet anonymity (what little is left of them). I am Steven D. Searls. I live in western New York. And yes, I am a real, living, breathing person, not just an faceless "name" on the internet.

I've been on this site for almost ten years now. I've always posted under the name Steven D, both here and at Daily Kos. Not a terribly original moniker, as it includes my first name and middle initial. Nonetheless, I've never revealed my full name, even as I have written over the years about my personal life on many occasions. I've never been to any Netroots conventions, however, so the only time I met any Kossacks in person was in September 2005, when my son and I marched with hundreds of thousands of other people against the war. I haven't taken advantage of my opportunities to get to know many of the people I correspond with here on a more personal basis, i.e., those who read my posts and comments. And that's a shame.

For a long time I wanted it that way. The anonymity, I mean. My wife and life-partner is Nisei, a second generation Japanese American woman, and we have two beautiful bi-racial children. And therein lies the tale of why I've waited so long to stop hiding behind this anonymous persona.

In 2000, John McCain, while campaigning for the Republican nomination, made remarks in which he used the racial slur "gooks" that bothered the hell out of me. When called on it, he refused to apologize. While he claimed the term only referred to his captors from from North Vietnam, I knew better. It's a word used to disparage all Asians in America, and I was pretty certain he knew that. So I wrote a letter The local paper published an op-ed piece I wrote that respectfully asked him to apologize for his use of that word, explaining it was demeaning and degrading to people such as my wife and children. I wrote a very polite piece, which also asked that all of the candidates for President take a pledge to refrain from using racial slurs or any other derisive terms for any group of Americans. I also went online at Yahoo bulletin boards using my real name to ask people to contact Senator McCain and make the same request for an apology.

The response I received was not what I expected. Suffice it to say I was naive and foolish. I expected a mostly positive response. What I received were many angry, threatening phone calls and letters from people questioning my right to dare to speak out about John McCain, a war hero. One individual in particular kept calling, implying he knew where I lived, and I should be careful no harm came to me or my family. Individuals to whom I revealed my identity online also threatened violence against me and my family. From that point on, I stopped using my real name on the internet.

So why the sudden change now? My children are all grown. They're adults. They can take care of themselves. My extended family knows I blog under the name Steven D, as well, so it is not as if they will be surprised or shocked to learn I post at these "far left" websites.

In addition, I have no employer who might fire me, as I am unemployed due to a chronic autoimmune disorder that first manifested itself in 1993 and eventually led me to retire from my profession as a lawyer. I'm 15 years older than that person in 2000, and I am not as afraid as I was then. And, in light of all the recent revelations regarding our privacy, I suppose I decided what's the point? If someone wants to find me they will. After all, it isn't as if I haven't left plenty of clues over the years in the diaries I've written, a number of which have included personal information.

I also thought to myself that this is a good opportunity to tell the members of this community what I've learned over the years I've been blogging at Daily Kos and BT, and why I continue to do it, despite my declining health, and all the times when I feel overwhelmed by the horrific state of our country and our world. To give all of you a chance to know me a little better.

After I was forced to retire in 1998, I spent several years dealing with finding a new purpose in life. As anyone who suddenly loses their job and career for whatever reason can tell you, it is a very demoralizing and depressing experience. Much of my identity was tied up with being an attorney. I was only 42 when that career went poof. Like many people, especially males of my generation, my self-worth was largely tied to my ability to contribute to the welfare of my family and to be a productive part of society (please, spare me the lawyer jokes - I've heard them all). Now that part of my life was gone, as well as the income that went with it. Already suffering from depression due to my illness, and socially isolated, I struggled to find meaning. My marriage was rocky at this time as well, for a number of reasons, but certainly chief among them were the loss of my job, my alienation from family and friends, and my behavior - I was angry and let my frustrations show all too easily. The side effects from high doses of prednisone I took for my symptoms only exacerbated these problems.

To say the internet saved me would be an exaggeration. Therapy, my beloved wife who was willing to forgive me my faults, and the support and love of my children, did most of that. However, online forums did offer me a lifeline, a new way to connect with people. It wasn't a perfect solution then and it isn't now, but it beats staring at a wall or TV screen all day. And the online world, for all its downsides, offers you the chance to learn a great many things, things that no one took the time to teach you in school or while working away at your career. I have always been a curious person, an incessant reader and I certainly had the time to invest at exploring whatever I found interesting, be it literature, classic movies, philosophy and, yes, politics. Like many here, Bush v. Gore, the 9/11 attacks and the Bush/Cheney administration's evil, corrupt response to that event - this endless War on Terror that we are still fighting - had a galvanizing effect on me.

On the political front, though I was not a Democrat, the perfidy and ideological agenda of the Bush administration, foreign and domestic, but especially the terrible consequences of the Iraq War, awoke in me a desire to become active in politics. I canvassed for John Kerry in Ohio, and also served as an Election Protection volunteer in Cleveland on election day in 2004, an eye-opening experience that I described in this diary. Over time, I became educated about a great number of issues, about which I felt strongly and which I felt compelled to write about here and elsewhere: Climate change, Racism, income inequality, the fight for civil rights for LGBT people (one I take very personally), women's rights (especially the important right to make decisions about their own bodies), Right Wing politically motivated violence and Hate Speech, the Rise of Fundamentalist Christianity, Wall Street's Greed, Labor issues, Torture, Human Rights abuses, our Prison Industrial Complex, Police Brutality, the rise of Corporate Oligarchy and the Loss of our Democracy, the Tea Party, The Koch Brothers, the strengths and weaknesses of the Democratic Party as a vehicle for advancing a progressive, people first agenda, and, of course, the defining political figures of the last 15 years from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and everyone else you can think of.

It's been a long ten years for me, years of great changes in my life, personally, spiritually, intellectually and, of course, politically. And so this seemed like the next step to take, and the right time to take it.

I've tried to be a good member of this community, though I know I've had my moments when I haven't lived up to that goal. Too often, I still fail to to be respectful of others here, especially those who disagree with me or challenge me. To anyone to whom I have ever responded inappropriately, I sincerely apologize. I believe that we are all of us works in progress, none more so than myself.

Well, that's it. No more hiding. This is who I am. If you ever happen to find yourself in the vicinity of Rochester, NY, send me a message to the email address on my profile page. I'd love to meet any of you in person.

Thanks for reading,

Steve

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Pricknick's picture

the difficulties that life presents you that makes you who you are. It's how you handle those difficulties and make yourself and those around you better.
You seem to be doing an outstanding job in that perspective and as such should be proud of what you're accomplishing.
Thanks Steven.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

I might also come out one day, but for employment reasons, I'm a California community college professor, I will remain just tmp, for now.

It hurts to learn of your experiences with the medical community - in particular, the misdiagnoses and rationing of health care. We really need to get the insurance companies out of medical care in this country. We also need to stop politicians and pharma from making laws about healthcare, because their only interest is money.

I have enjoyed reading your posts and comments, and I think your introduction will give them more context and depth. Thanks for taking the time to bravely share.

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Peace out, tmp.

PastorAgnostic's picture

A. Do you realize how much you enrich the lives around you by your words and insights?

B. What hobbies do you look forward to and enjoy?

C. If you genetically cross an elephant and a donkey, does one get a turdkey?

D. What country are you eyeing should Trump win the election?

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Steven D's picture

A. No comment

B. Reading, Writing and Binge watching TV series. I used to play golf but can't anymore.

C. My daughter wants to go to New Zealand, but we will probably just stay here and keep fighting.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

Hawkfish's picture

Beautiful place and they want high tech workers. But yeah, it feels like running away.

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We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg

gulfgal98's picture

I applaud you for coming out and letting us know more about you. I already liked and admired your work even before you came out.

Although my last name is not listed in my profile, there is plenty out there for people to guess who I am or might be. The freedom that comes from being older and retired helps. If I was young and still employed, I probably would not even consider posting half the stuff I do.

Thank you, Steven D. Good

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

karl pearson's picture

When one enters the work building, many rights are left outside the door. Unions used to protect some of these rights, but look what has happened to unionization in this country. It's a struggle, but it's people's nature to be free so I have hope. The little people only have each other. Bernie supporters know this and I believe that is one of the reasons he is still in this race.

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I have been frightened by hate speech several times but I feel safer here. I will probably spill the beans in time.

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'Well, I've wrestled with reality for thirty five years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it." Elwood P. Dowd "

Lookout's picture

was married to Toshi, of Japanese origin. My political mentors, Cliff and Virginia Durr were friends with them in the 30s and 40s. The Feds tried to put Toshi in an encampment during the war, but Cliff was on FCC and had enough pull to keep her out. Cliff is also the reason we have public broadcasting. He would roll in his grave to see what a corporate voice it has become. They passed the baton to me. You pass the baton to many others through your research and writing. THANK YOU.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

karl pearson's picture

Steven D, I look forward to reading your posts because they are informative, insightful, and passionate. We are lucky to have you as a poster because you bring a unique set of skills and abilities to our forum. Your lawyer training keeps us grounded in reality, as painful as it may be at times.

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I've enjoyed reading you for many years in Orange and Green -- happy to see you here in Blue.

Smile

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riverlover's picture

And bring your wife, if she can manage. Good for you. I am out in real but generic name (5of us in NY??). I have put that partial name out at old places I may regret.

But you and I stand tall and proud, Steven.

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Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

Steven D's picture

Put it off too long haven't we.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

kharma's picture

Thanks for this Steven D. I remember reading many of your things, both at the orange place and Booman's pleasant green, and most often agreeing with you but that's not why I like reading you--I like your honesty and compassion. Anyway, thanks for being here.

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There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties.. This...is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.--John Adams

Alligator Ed's picture

I have admired your writing, without knowing your "true" identity. But your writing, even if anonymous or pseudonymous, reveals your true character, which I find personally impressive. I am sad to learn about your disability, something in which my own personal narrative rings loudly.

As anyone who suddenly loses their job and career for whatever reason can tell you, it is a very demoralizing and depressing experience. - See more at: http://caucus99percent.com/content/those-who-dont-know-much-about-me#sth...

. In a recent post, I made a lame lawyer joke--but both my brother and my son are lawyers as is my best friend. I love and respect them all. I have actually many lawyer friends made in conjunction with my previous career.
More power to you. Long may you run (words and music by Neil Young).

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I hadn't thought about that McCain slur in a long time . . . I was still in college then and not paying enough attention, but I remember that.

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kharma's picture

Saul Goodman Smile

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There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties.. This...is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.--John Adams

If I were a Bernie voter, I'd make a joke about how Hillary probably uses him too Biggrin (you know, for all her illegal stuff)

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kharma's picture

Pretty weird comment, it's almost like you are trying to find a Bernie supporter to argue with you. Are you? This isn't that place.

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There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties.. This...is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.--John Adams

I'm joking with you. I'm being a pal.

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Haikukitty's picture

Although I don't go out of my way to hide my identity - meaning over the years I've put out a lot of information about myself, geographically, professionally, politically, etc. - I still feel uncomfortable actually posting my real name. I sometimes think the internet would be a better place in some ways without the anonymity that allows trolls to proliferate, but it also allows people space to write and explore without having that exploration impact their families or employment.

It's a tough call.

But I'm glad you shared your post here!

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elenacarlena's picture

trolled more viciously and more personally. Trolls are cowards, after all, afraid Steven D might punch them in the nose, but assuming we are weaker.

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Please check out Pet Vet Help, consider joining us to help pets, and follow me @ElenaCarlena on Twitter! Thank you.

Haikukitty's picture

But strangely, I'm more of a coward on the interpersonal front then against trolls and bullies. Not that I want to be a victim of a bully, but that brings out my fighting spirit. But family drama or workplace drama - I dread it and avoid it at all costs!

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EdMass's picture

have to find a way to get this prolific writing and opinionation under control.

This is the interwebs goddammit. I'm a cat with an empty voice bubble and no one knows me (much?). Don't care what you think you are.

My sensibilities are being abused with despicable commenters that have opinions.

Grrr.

/s

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Prof: Nancy! I’m going to Greece!
Nancy: And swim the English Channel?
Prof: No. No. To ancient Greece where burning Sapho stood beside the wine dark sea. Wa de do da! Nancy, I’ve invented a time machine!

Firesign Theater

Stop the War!

mhagle's picture

about yourself. I enjoyed reading it and always make a point to read your stuff . . . feels like I am receiving a gift.

I understand about being freer to write what you want when unemployed. I was a teacher for 28 years and definitely would have gotten in trouble.

Thank you sincerely!

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

enhydra lutris's picture

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

TrueBlueinWDC's picture

I will remain anonymous because: job. But in time, y'all will know more about me than probably most of my friends. lol. I am a bit reserved.

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"Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change." Stephen Hawking

NEW: http://www.twitter.com/trueblueinwdc

So glad to see you here, have always enjoyed your writing.
And as to lawyers, I've long enjoyed the Law and Disorder podcast, had a great group of lawyers from CCR, including the sadly missed Michael Ratner. Gave me a whole better view of the profession and what it can be when used for the common good. So, no jokes here, just appreciation for some excellent thought provoking essays.

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lotlizard's picture

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2016/05/31/brooklyn-college-student...
http://palestinelegal.org/news/2016/5/19/brooklyn-college-hearing-tomorrow

Yet another case where an institute of higher learning tried to railroad people for criticizing a certain U.S. ally.

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Forced out of work in 2008. Psychologist. Finding meaning. An amazing true love behind me every step of the way. My doctor says there isn't a name for what I have, can't get knees or hip or back or neck surgery because it would make my bones crumble worse then they already do. I call it Boneless Chicken Disease. My kids are all grown, and I have 10 grand babies and one great grand baby. I am the same age as you. I do a lot of writing, but it is just weird and weighing thoughts I have from following politics so diligently to busy my mind. I start a new notebook page every morning and add to them all day. Plop them in a desktop folder before bed.

Thank you for sharing this.

I knew there was a good reason I wanted to be friends with you.

Edit: P.S. Inspiration for boneless chicken disease is from Gary Larson.

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'Well, I've wrestled with reality for thirty five years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it." Elwood P. Dowd "

FunLovingProgressive's picture

I like your writing and it was great to read your story. I used to live in Rochester, NY back in 2003-2004. I had ended up in the Kucinich camp back then.

-Ty from CA.

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Love is my religion.

ngant17's picture

without the impressive credentials and bio to hit me on the head. So much the better!

Darkness and secrecy is used to hide fraud and corruption. It's been institutionalized at most levels of government, especially local and state.

Sunshine and openness is a powerful tool that clears the mind with powerful views and enlightened understanding of the world we live in. Thanks again for your priceless contributions in this regard.

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Damnit Janet's picture

You'd better stop by, too.

Met you in DC already. Smile Marched next to you, Jim Hightower, Cindy Sheehan and Jesse Jackson.

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"Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

Damnit Janet's picture

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"Love One Another" ~ George Harrison