White Christians are officially a minority now.

colbertfreakoutHere’s a bit of news sure to make the Religious Right freak out even more than usual. White Christians are now a minority in the United States:

Pew: White Christians no longer a majority – POLITICO.

According to the latest results from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape survey published Monday by National Journal’s Next America project, just 46 percent of American adults are white Christians, down from 55 percent in 2007.

At the same time, according to the report, the share of white Christians identifying as Republican has remained steady, even equal with the share of the party that carried President Ronald Reagan to his 1984 reelection. Nearly seven in 10 white Christians — 69 percent — identify with or lean toward the GOP, while just 31 percent do the same with Democrats.

So if you’ve been thinking the Religious Right has been more unhinged than usual lately, this is probably why. They know they’re on the decline and they’re going to get more panicky as their numbers continue to diminish.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of last year whites still made up 77% of the population, but more and more of us are moving away from Christianity.

In less than a decade, the gap in Christian identification between Democrats and Republicans has increased by 50 percent. According to the data presented, in 2007, 88 percent of white Republicans and 70 percent of white Democrats identified as Christian, an 18-point disparity. By 2014, 84 percent of white Republicans identified as Christian, but the share of white Democrats identifying as Christian fell by 13 points, to 57 percent, a 27-point gap.

Not all of that change can be attributed to the rise in atheism, but we’re certainly having an effect. It’s also worth noting that Christians are still a majority religion in America at 70.6%, but more and more of them aren’t Caucasian. You can bet these trends are going to cause more than a little turmoil as they continue to grow.

The claim that the Civil War wasn’t over slavery is false.

The recent brouhaha over the Confederate flag after the mass shooting by Dylan Roof of black members of a Charleston church brought out a lot of old arguments about the Civil War by folks defending the flag. The most common of which is the claim that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. A claim that is clearly wrong to anyone who has spent much time studying American history.

In a (possibly vain) attempt to settle the matter, the folks at Prager University enlisted the aid of Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, to speak on the topic:

That explanation is simple and concise and is something you can share with your crazy right-wing uncle the next time he starts ranting about slavery not being the reason the Civil War happened. It probably won’t convince him because those folks tend to be immune to reality, but at least you can save some typing.

Updated to add: This video should be particularly persuasive to Conservatives given that Prager University is the brainchild of Conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager. So this isn’t the work of one of us wussy liberals, but of one of your own.

I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian.

In the previous entry I discussed a little about how, generally, most folks become more Conservative as they age. This brought to mind the Political Compass test which attempts to establish where you fall in the Liberal/Conservative/Authoritarian/Libertarian scale. I first took the test in 2004 and while I didn’t blog about it at the time I did post it as an image on SEB.

To give an idea of what it attempts to do, here’s their sample graph that plots out where a few famous historical people fall on the scale:


When I first took the test my score was Economic Left/Right -4.62 and Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -4.92 which would place me down around Gandhi on the chart above.

I retook the test in January of 2012 to see if I’d grown more Conservative like you’re supposed to do when you get older. Here’s that graph:

I’m becoming even more of a Republican’s worst nightmare.

Clearly I was the exception to the rule. It’s been another 3 years since and I’m coming up on my 48th birthday so surely I’m starting to reverse the trend by now, right?


If I keep going at this rate they're going to need a bigger graph. 

If I keep going at this rate they’re going to need a bigger graph. 

Thus proving that the idea people become more Conservative as they age is a generalization. I blame my open mindedness and curiosity, both factors psychologists have identified as contributing to a liberal political outlook. If it seems like I’ve been getting worse in my liberal viewpoint over the years, you now have evidence that it’s not just your imagination.

No reasonable discussion seems possible with the pro-gun folks.

gundiscussionAll the pro-gun folks flip the fuck out as soon as anyone mentions the possibility that perhaps it’s a little too easy to get ahold of one these days and they start screamin’ that THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ALL OUR GUNS AWAY!

Fuck, they’ve been making that claim about Obama since before he was elected President and he’s been in office 6 years, 155 days, 20 hours, and 36 minutes (as of this post) and he has yet to propose even the smallest of gun legislation. That won’t stop the nuts from screamin’ he’s gonna do it any day now!

I think there is a reasonable discussion to be had on gun law reform, but we can’t have that discussion because of the knee-jerk reaction from the other side. It’s always amusing when I see the pic of the carpet knife show up with the quote about how the 9-11 hijackers used it to kill 3,000 people but no one is calling for a ban on carpet knives.


It’s just a tool and a gun is a tool and it’s the people that use it wrong that are the problem. That ignores the fact that when used properly a carpet knife doesn’t result in someone’s death whereas a gun when used properly is intended to kill something. Also you don’t have the high rates of suicide and accidental deaths with carpet knives that you have with guns, but, hey, other than that they’re exactly the same!

It is right about one thing: Gun control laws are about control. You’d think that would be obvious from the fact that we call them “gun control laws”, but apparently this is a stunning revelation to the pro-gun crowd. Also there’s more at stake than crime committed with guns. There’s also suicides and accidental deaths both of which are way more common with a gun in the home than with a carpet knife. When was the last time you read about some kid finding his dad’s carpet knife and accidentally slicing a sibling to death with it? Kids accidentally shooting each other happens almost weekly. We don’t even bat an eye at it anymore. So long as it’s not my kids killing each other than who cares? Those were obviously all irresponsible gun owners so they deserve what happened!

Back in 1996 after a mass-shooting at Port Arthur, Tasmania — a popular Australian tourist spot — left 35 people dead and 18 people seriously wounded the folks down under finally had had enough. Deciding that a decade of gun massacres that left over 100 people dead was more than enough, they enacted strict gun control laws. They outright banned rapid-fire rifles and shotguns, put in place tighter licensing requirements and set a uniform national standard for gun registration. They didn’t ban all guns and responsible people can still get a license and own guns.

The result? The risk of death from gunshot fell by 50% and has remained as such since. Gun buyback programs helped reduce the amount of suicides by firearms by 80%. In the 19 years since there hasn’t been another mass shooting. You’ll note that this doesn’t mean all gun violence has been eliminated, but it has been reduced significantly. The most recent incident they’ve had with an armed gunman was the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis where an armed man took 18 people hostage at a Lindt chocolate cafe for 16 hours. Near the end a gunshot rang out and the police stormed the cafe. Two hostages were killed, one by the gunman and one from a police bullet that ricocheted, the gunman was also killed. Four other folks were injured. So, yes, some gun violence still happens, but the outcome of that situation was a far cry from the Port Arthur massacre nearly 20 years before.

Among the wealthy, industrialized countries of the world — Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England and Wales), United Kingdom (Northern Ireland) and United Kingdom (Scotland) — the U.S. has a gun homicide rate 15 times higher than any of them. Some of those countries have some pretty strict gun control laws, but in most of them it’s still possible to own a gun. Our gun control is the loosest in the world and it shows.

As long as we continue on this path we will continue to have events like the Aurora theater shooting and the Newtown school massacre and the AME church rampage. I thought for sure that after 20 kids got killed in their school it would finally get the pro-gun folks to feel a little empathy, but nope! Fuck those kids! I ain’t givin’ up my Bushmaster rifle just because somebody else’s brats got shot up cause FREEDOM! What about the carpet knives?? Why aren’t you banning those? And cars! You can kill someone with a car! I ONCE SAW A MAN CHOKED TO DEATH WITH A MAGAZINE! WHY ARE WE STILL ALLOWING THESE DANGEROUS WEAPONS TO BE SENT THROUGH THE U.S. POSTAL SYSTEM????

Reasonable discussion is right out and until then it’ll be more of the same. Maybe someday the number of dead will be high enough to shock some sense into people, but it looks like there will be an awful price to be paid the way things are going.

SEB Podcast Episode 9: Back from the Dead.

It’s finally happened! Dave and I managed to find an hour to sit down and talk about politics and television while answering YOUR questions! It all happened LIVE in Google Hangouts where we even took a few comments and questions from the 2 people who watched it as it happened! If you didn’t get a chance to tune in (we didn’t exactly broadcast the time it was going to happen) you can still watch it below:

You can also watch it from the event page which you’ll find by clicking here and there you can vote for your favorite moments. I’ll be working to turn it into a standard MP3 podcast for those folks who prefer to listen without having to stare at the goofy faces Dave and I made at each other. We had a lot of fun and next time I think we’ll try to schedule it more concretely so we can make it a proper event and have more folks watching and commenting as we do it. Hopefully it won’t be another 3 years before we do the next one.

Which do you support: Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act?

The above is an inherently stupid question because Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same damned thing. Some people apparently don’t know this, but Jimmy Kimmel discovered that they won’t let that stop them from having an opinion about both things:

This is meant to be funny, but it reveals one of the reasons why political discourse is so fucked up in this country. Uninformed people willing to make arguments about things they know nothing about. You don’t have to pay too much attention to what’s going on to know that Obamacare is the nickname the Republicans use when talking about the Affordable Care Act because they know that a large part of their base will instantly dislike anything that is associated with Obama without need for a good reason. Just by slapping a different name on it you can get people to say they don’t like it even though it contains many provisions that they like and support. Granted they did manage to find one guy who thought Obamacare was better than the Affordable Care Act which shows that there’s uninformed idiots on both sides who will base their opinion on the name of a law rather than on what it actually says.

There is a difference between an opinion and an informed opinion. In an age with ready access to so much information literally at our fingertips there’s no good excuse for these people to be so clueless.

The reality of wealth inequality in America.

I’m a liberal so I’m supposed to be all about the socialism and wealth redistribution. The truth is that I’m more or less fine with the capitalist system and the idea that if you work hard and apply yourself you’ll be successful so long as there’s enough regulations to keep it fair. The problem is that it’s not fair and that hard work often doesn’t result in anything more than an early grave. The Republicans seem to think that if we just pay the rich more and the poor less it’ll somehow make both of them work harder.

Pretty much everyone knows that the distribution of wealth in this country is out of whack if you want a healthy economy for the country as a whole, but most folks don’t really understand just how fucked up it really is. I know I didn’t until I saw this:

How is this situation in any way fair? Do we really think the top 1% of the country work hard enough to justify having 40% of all the wealth in the country? Just how much fucking money do you really need before you can live comfortably? I know I could get by more than fine with less than 1% of what the top 1% earn, but I’m not even close to that. I’ve managed to make it to the middle class, like my parents before me, but things have declined so much that I’m not able to afford half the things they did at my age.

Here’s the thing I don’t think the upper classes, particularly the 1 percenters, realize. You can’t keep making money off of people if they can no longer afford to spend it on anything other than the basic necessities (and often, not even that). History shows us that long-term it’s only going to cause problems for you down the line. It’s in your interests as well as ours to try and make things more equitable before the whole thing comes crashing down.

Or maybe they do realize it and just don’t give a shit so long as they have theirs.

There’s already a Republican front runner for the 2016 election.

The sad part is that it would probably have had a better chance at winning than Mitt Romney had.

It’s called The White House for a reason…

So… these people exist:

Technically, the statement is correct. It is called The White House for a reason. Because in 1901 that’s what President Theodore Roosevelt decided should be its official name. Prior to that it was variably called the Presidential Mansion, President’s Palace, and President’s House with official usage being the Executive Mansion up until Roosevelt slapped “White House–Washington” onto the official letterhead.

But that’s not the reason these people are thinking of. You can even see that some of them recognize it for the racist statement it is. That’s the best argument they have for voting for Romney. Not that his policies are better. Not that he’ll do a better job. Only because he’s white and the current President is black.

Found over at Despicable Tweets.

“The Newsroom” on the Tea Party.

I don’t subscribe to any of the movie channels, but I have to admit that I’m sorely tempted just so I can watch the HBO series The Newsroom. In part because I’m a huge Jeff Daniels fan, but also because of scenes like this one:

For being fiction, there’s a lot of truth in that segment. I’ll bet the Tea Party isn’t very happy with that show right about now.