Starbucks is taking no chances this year.

Every year the national coffee chain Starbucks puts out a holiday themed cup and every year, for the past several years at least, it ends up pissing Conservatives off for either being too inclusive or not “Christmasy” enough or some other stupid reason. Now that it’s November they have unveiled this year’s design which will be available in stores starting today and it’s clear they’ve gone the extra mile to keep their new cups as inoffensive as they possibly can. I present to you, this year’s Starbucks Holiday cups:

So, yeah, those are about as pseudo-Christmassy as you can get. Got a couple Christmas sweater looking ones, some holly and berries, and… gift wrap? I guess? Not sure about what the red stripy one is supposed to be. No reindeer, no Santas, nothing to definitively tie it down as Christmas, but also no doodles that might suggest a SECRET GAY AGENDA!

That should be pretty inoffensive, yeah? Well, there is the fact that Starbucks made the mistake of calling them “holiday” cups and not “Jesus’ birthday cups” like any decent patriotic American company would. I kid, but I bet that the word “holiday” will be the thing Conservatives latch onto this year because 1) they’ve done it in the past and B) there’s little else here to complain about. 

That said, the Conservatives are a little late getting started on their annual WAR ON CHRISTMAS bitch-fest this year. Perhaps they’re too busy adoring Trump and got distracted, but I’m sure they’ll get to it sooner or later. It is, after all, a true Christmas tradition for them. 

SEB Mailbag: “What went wrong with my dad” edition.

I received this email from J a couple of days ago and I’ve been mulling it over trying to come up with a decent answer. Here’s what he wrote:

I will try not to bore you to death. My father raised us well. We do not discriminate, race is a non issue with us. My brother married an Indian, and I married a Puerto Rican. I’m going to move forward to speed along…

Today my  father is an angry man. He is angry at all the wrong things. He blames Obama for just about everything and is scared and paranoid. He has many guns which he displays daily. He supports open carry. He says racist remarks and incessantly complains about immigrants, although his own parents moved here from Europe, which he hates! He goes to church but displays hateful rhetoric and attitudes daily. He curses gays and lesbians. He believes the government is after his guns. I would be interested to hear what you think has happened. My mother thinks it is the news he watches. I think it is fox news which my wife has banned from the house. Although I like to watch it to get the others perspective.

Naturally I can only speculate based on a very limited bit of information. Admittedly my first impulse is to say that if he relies mainly on FOX News for information then that may have a lot to do with it, but it’s far from the only reason. They say that most folks tend to grow more conservative as they age and perhaps that’s what has happened here. You don’t mention how often you interact with him these days so it’s also possible you’re seeing only one aspect of him these days. Obama winning the election brought out a lot of otherwise hidden bigotry among the populace so perhaps that played a part in it.

Again, not having known the man myself I can only provide guesses. I have family and friends who took a turn to the far Right as they got older and I’ve never been able to fully figure out why. I mentioned just recently that I’ve gone as far as to unfriend one relative because they were getting upset at my attempts to discuss their conservative postings to Facebook. People I’d once admired are often hard to stay in contact with these days due to the views they espouse. You could argue that I’ve become more Liberal as I’ve gotten older and I’m sure it’s just as confusing to the Conservative folks who’ve known me a for a long time.


There’s an interesting article over at Psychology Today from October of last year in which they discuss some of the reasons some folks become more Conservative as they get older. They include:

  1. Personality: “people differ in their typical levels of curiosity, and these differences have been attributed to the broader personality trait of Openness to Experience.”
  2. Judgement: “in particular information-processing capacity.”
  3. Familiarity: “as we grow older, our experiences become more constrained and predictable.”

The point of curiosity is one I can relate to. I’ve always been an intensely curious person and I’m sure that’s a big factor in why I became an atheist. From the article, here’s the full text from the segment on personality:

Indeed, a review (link is external) of 92 scientific studies shows that intellectual curiosity tends to decline in old age, and that this decline explains (link is external) age-related increases in conservatism. At any age, people differ in their typical levels of curiosity, and these differences have been attributed to the broader personality trait of Openness to Experience. Higher levels of Openness have been associated not only with aesthetic and cultural interests, but also with a general tendency to seek emotionally stimulating and adrenalizing activities (e.g., from scuba diving to bungee jumping; from drugs to unprotected sex). Furthermore, open people are also more likely to display counter-conformist attitudes, challenge the status quo and disrespect authority. Although these qualities make high Openness a potential threat to society, Openness is also the source of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as an intellectual antidote to totalitarianism, injustice and prejudice.

The article admits it’s a generalization and doesn’t apply to all people (obviously not in my case). There’s another article from last year over at that adds another reason why some folks become more Conservative as they age: Having kids.

Contrary to popular belief, paying taxes, accumulating wealth, and being in the 1 percent or the 99 percent are extremely poor predictors of left-right political orientation. According to American National Election Studies, an academically run survey project, the correlation between family income and party identification for U.S. voters in the 2012 presidential election was a mere 0.13. This weak statistical relationship is typical of past elections.

There is one life event, though, that greatly accelerates a person’s shift to the right, and it often occurs in the 30s: parenthood. Its political impact is easy to see among a cohort of Canadian college students studied by psychologist Robert Altemeyer. Their scores on an ideology test at age 22 grew more conservative by an average of 5.4 percent when they were retested at 30. But among those 30-year-olds who’d had children, conservatism increased by 9.4 percent.

In the case of your dad, J, it’s possible that his shift to the far right is just a natural consequence of him getting older. It’s also possible that it’s been exacerbated by the media he consumes and the people he surrounds himself with. There’s also the possibility that your perception of his Conservatism is heightened by the difference in your ages (and thus where you both are in terms of your political viewpoints).

Which of the above is the actual reason for it? I haven’t a clue. It could be that it’s a combination of all of those things. With any luck perhaps I’ve given you a pointer in the right direction to help figure it out.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then us Liberals should be blushing up a storm right now.

Seems the Conservatives are envious of some our best liberal websites and are trying very hard to come up with their own versions in a similar image. I wonder if it’ll be as successful as their attempt to ape The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?

Republican operatives launch group that tries to imitate most Democratic groups, blogs

Ben Smith reports in Politico that Republican operatives, and bloggers Michael Goldfarb and Matthew Continetti, are launching a new organization called the Center for American Freedom.

Remarkably they are modeling it on the Center for American Progress, and will have their own blog, imitating If that wasn’t enough, the Center for American Freedom will also attempt to be like the Center for American Progress Action Fund (which does more political messaging and research), Me…

Stephen Colbert on the Conservative rush to blame the Oslo attacks on Muslims.

If you’ve been paying attention then you already know that the people of Norway are mourning one of the worst acts of violence since World War II to take place in their country. In the immediate aftermath the Conservative pundits wasted no time in declaring it an act by radical Muslims only to find out on Saturday that it was a anti-Muslim Conservative Christian Norwegian who carried out the attacks.

As Stephen points out in the following video clip, just because he wasn’t a Muslim is apparently (if you’re a Conservative) no reason not to blame Muslims:

All of us here at SEB send our condolences to the people of Norway not only for the attacks they’ve just been the victim of, but for the assholes in our country who are working so hard to score political points with it.

Conservatives not happy with T-shirts handed out at Tucson memorial service.

Pic of woman setting out Thrive t-shirts.

It may look like a t-shirt with a positive message to you, but to Conservatives it's SOCIALISM BEING FORCED ON THE MOURNERS!!

Conservative hatred for all things Obama has led them to say and do some crazy things in the last two years. Things like voting against legislation they had originally proposed simply because Obama thought it wasn’t a bad idea. It seems there isn’t anything Obama can do that the Conservatives won’t find a way to bitch about.

Take, for example, his appearance at the Tucson memorial for the victims of the Giffords assassination attempt. They’ve got their panties all in a bunch over a t-shirt that the college whipped up to hand out to the crowd which read: “Together We Thrive: Tucson and & America.”


“I’m having a physical reaction to the T-shirts,” Amanda Carpenter, a speech writer for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) tweeted tonight. “I’m tearing up. This feels wrong.”

(The tweet has since been deleted.)

Other conservatives on Twitter shared in the sentiment. Some have already speculated the shirts were paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Michelle Malkin had earlier raised a rukus about the event’s logo on her blog.

“Isn’t the churning of the instant messaging machine a bit, well, unseemly?” she wrote. “Can’t the Democrat political stage managers give it a break just once?”

Right-wing media star Tammy Bruce had some of the harshest attacks on the event and the crowd here in Tucson. She likened the event to the 2002 funeral for Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), which conservatives at the time claimed was unfairly turned into a political rally by Wellstone’s supporters.

“Massacre Rally Theatre is a complete abomination. Absolutely obscene,” Bruce tweeted Wednesday. “Clinton should be happy, no longer will ‘Wellstone’ be the benchmark.”

via Conservatives Criticize Free T-Shirts At Tucson Memorial Service | TPMDC.

You can bet that if Obama were to drop dead of a heart attack in the middle of a speech on live television the Conservatives would be complaining that he didn’t die in a fiery helicopter crash into the Democratic headquarters. And even if he did that, they’d complain that they didn’t get a front-row seat and a big bucket of popcorn to watch it happen.

For the record, the university is responsible for the “branding” they’re so upset about. But even if it was the creation of the Obama administration it’d be stunningly hypocritical of Republicans to complain about it considering how happy they were to milk the hell out of pictures and videos of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks over the years. Hell, Rudolph Giuliani seemed to have developed some weird form of Tourette’s that caused him to spit out “9/11” every fourth or fifth word during his Presidential run.

Pot, meet kettle.

Anti-abortionists asked what the punishment should be if it’s made illegal have no answers.

This video clip is a couple of years old — it was uploaded to YouTube in January of 2008 — but I only came across it recently via a link on Common Sense Atheism. It was filmed at an anti-abortion protest and in it women are asked a very simple question: If abortion is made illegal what should be the punishment for women who have illegal abortions?

I must admit I was stunned that so many people didn’t have an answer for this question and that many suggested there shouldn’t be any punishment beyond counseling. The interviewer asks simple, non-aggressive followup questions such as “If there’s no punishment then what’s the point of making it illegal?” which, again, they have no answer for. Or the answers they do have are contradictory and silly.

Some of these people have been involved in anti-abortion protesting for years without ever pondering the simple question of what the punishment should be. I find that staggering to consider. I guess I always just assumed they’d want the woman put in prison for a certain number of years; perhaps life or even a death sentence. There’s probably a few folks out there who would say that’s what it should be, but I hadn’t stopped to think there’d be so many who haven’t given the subject of penalties any thought whatsoever.

That’s one of the problems of letting emotions get the better of you when considering laws or pushing for change. Abortion tends to be a highly emotional issue for the folks who are against it and it appears that in their rush to do something about it they’re not taking the time to think the issue through fully and they’re willing to leave the details for someone else to figure out. That often leads to very bad policy at worse or very stupid policy at best.  But then I suppose if they spent any time thinking about the issue they run the risk of changing their minds about it and Lord knows you can’t let that happen.

South Carolina gas pumps tells non-believers to GTFO.

One of the great things about Christians is the loving tolerance they have for everyone including those who hold differing and/or opposing viewpoints. Take, for example, the friendly message one True Believer™ gas station owner in South Carolina felt compelled to put on his pump’s display screen. When you fill up you’re told the following:


Ah, there’s nothing quite like using anti-atheist bigotry to drive sales of gasoline! Never mind the fact that the original Pledge didn’t contain the words “under God” or the fact that the original National Motto was “E pluribus unum” (out of many, one) thus making both of them more inclusive than they are today. No, who needs inclusiveness when divisive faux patriotism is so much more profitable?

I’m always amused by the Conservative compulsion to tell people who don’t agree with them to leave the country. Considering how much they like to spout off about freedom and liberty and how Liberals supposedly want to take both away from you it seems odd to me that they’re so quick to tell us that we should pack up and leave if we’re not happy with how things are. You know, as opposed to exercising our freedom and liberty to try and change things. When they don’t like the status quo they’ll scream and holler about how they have a right to challenge it, but if a Liberal wants to challenge the status quo… Well that obviously means we hate America and we should go live in the caves with Al-Qaeda and the other terrorists.

Sometimes the Republicans take my breath away…

The hypocrisy and chutzpah Conservative leaders and pundits display is amazing. Not only are they immune to reality, but they project their worst traits onto their opponents and try to tie their own extremists to liberals when it’s obvious that the extremist was a Conservative. Watch this collection of clips compiled by Media Matters for just a brief taste of their nonsense in one week:

I don’t tend to watch or listen to Conservative pundits or the Fox News Channel because I don’t think my blood pressure could take it. The lies and hate being spewed by the right is ramping up their nutters and not only do they refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, but they try to blame the resulting mayhem on the left. The saddest part is they can’t even get their own history correct.

A little dose of reality can change your mind pretty damn quick.

Conservative radio-host Eric “Mancow” Muller has long claimed that waterboarding isn’t torture on his show. He recently decided to put his money where his mouth was and agreed to being waterboarded himself. He went into it thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal and he’d be able to hold out for 30 or 50 seconds—he lasted a mere six seconds after which he declared it’s definitely torture. Keith Olbermann had him on to talk about his experience in an interview:

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It’s worth pointing out that Mancow didn’t even experience what the detainees in Gitmo have had to endure. The cot he was laying on was even and not at a head-down incline, he wasn’t restrained, and he had the ability to stop it at any time. It was done to him once for a total of six seconds. Compare that to the 83 waterboardings in a month that Abu Zubdaydah was subjected to. Hell even Christopher Hitchens went through it twice before confirming it’s torture.

Six seconds. That says a lot about how quickly you can change your mind when you experience it for yourself. I love that Sean Hannity, who boastfully claimed he would be willing to be waterboarded for charity a few weeks back, called up Mancow and told him “It’s still not torture.” Hannity doesn’t have the balls to try it himself and find out.

Found via Thing Progress.

Conservative pundits bash Obama for choosing Dijon mustard on his burger.

From the You-Have-Got-To-Be-Fucking-Kidding-Me department comes word that Conservative pundits are all up in arms over the fact that Obama, during a recent photo-op trip to a burger joint, placed an order where he specifically requested – you’re never going to believe this – no ketchup (*GASP!*) and Dijon mustard! Jumping Jesus Christ on a cracker! By their reaction you’d think the man had asked to be able to shoot a small child right in the face. The folks at Media Matters provide some examples:

During the May 6 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity said: “[A]s you all know, President Obama is a real man of the people. And yesterday he dropped by a popular Virginia restaurant to grab a burger with his pal [Vice President] Joe [Biden]. Now, the Gateway Pundit blog pointed out that plain old ketchup, well, it didn’t quite cut it for the president. Now take a look at him ordering his burger with a very special condiment. … Dijon mustard? I think the president watched just a little bit too much television as a kid.” Hannity then played a portion of a Grey Poupon commercial and commented, “I hope you enjoyed that fancy burger, Mr. President.” In the May 5 post Hannity referenced, the Gateway Pundit wrote of Obama and Biden: “They’re just two ordinary metrosexual guys going out for a burger … Obama and Biden, two ordinary guys, go out for a sandwich and Obama asks for Dijon mustard at Joe’s Hell Burger.” The blog added: “I hear it’s delish with arugula lettuce. Yum-Yum.”

During the May 6 edition of her radio show, Ingraham said of Obama: “I don’t even like the way the man orders a hamburger. … What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?” She later added of Obama: “See, he was trying to do this whole thing with Biden—‘We’re like the regular people, we’re like every other guy, you know, with our—on our lunch break, we’re going to go grab a burger, two guys, two bros.’ ” Like Hannity, Ingraham played a clip from a Grey Poupon commercial in which an actor asked, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?” Ingraham then remarked: “That would have been more appropriate.” Ingraham’s remarks were highlighted by The Fox Nation on May 7:

On the May 7 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Steyn said of Obama’s condiment selection: “He’s amazing, Obama. This coverage—he’s a regular guy. He eats a hamburger with Dijon mustard—Dijon mustard. John Kerry couldn’t get away with that stuff, but he makes it seem like just like a regular thing to do…”

Actually, and maybe this is because I’m a flaming liberal, but I know I lot of people who put Dijon mustard on their burgers along with a lot of other foods. Why the fuck are these people obsessing about this? How is this in any way relevant to anything of any real importance? Why is this considered such an outrage? The clip from Hannity’s show looks like it could be a pathetic attempt at humor, but Laura Ingraham asking what kind of man orders a cheeseburger with Dijon mustard instead of ketchup is just stupid. I suppose that’s pretty much par for the course for Laura Ingraham though.

Not that I understand why the press coverage at this event was on par with what you’d get at the signing of a major piece of legislation – it’s as if the media is stunned by the fact that a President might actually like to go out and grab a burger occasionally – but as silly as the media attention is the reaction to it from the Conservative blow-hards is even more ridiculous. Sadly it doesn’t look like the Conservatives are going to stop being idiotic anytime soon:

Taking the lead for the right, Sean Hannity railed against the cheeseburger blasphemy on his Fox News show last night, rallying his many incensed followers to accuse MSNBC, and Andrea Mitchell in particular, of waging a “cover-up” of Obama’s Dijon mustard eating ways during the cable network’s coverage of the burger outing.

Cornell law school professor William Jacobson has been obsessively chronicling what he has dubbed “dijongate” on his blog. “Obama ordered his burger with DIJON MUSTARD! Bet he had to seek John Kerry’s counsel on that,” writes Jacobson.

He, too, notes the alleged cover-up by the mainstream media, noting that Mitchell “didn’t mention one arugula-like fact” – which was that Obama had the gall to ask for Dijon mustard. “You couldn’t hear it on the MSNBC video because Andrea and her correspondent Kelly O’Donnel (they needed two people to cover this story) were talking so much,” says Jacobson.

Seriously guys? You’re accusing MSNBC of covering up Obama’s choice of mustard as though it was some international incident they were trying to sweep under the rug? Is this really all you guys have these days? Don’t scrape the bottom of the barrel too hard or you might break through it and then what’ll you have? Not that you have much at the moment.

But a snotty choice of mustard isn’t the worst of Obama’s sins it seems:

“How could our fearless leader go to Ray’s Hell-Burger and order his burger ‘medium well,’” the first questioner asked, adding, “Sacrilege. Everyone knows the only way to eat one of those burgers is medium (at most) or medium rare. He and Biden both ordered their burgers medium well (yes, I’m one of the idiots who watched him do so on Youtube). I have lost faith in Obama’s judgment. “

Sietsema answered, “I was surprised they got their burgers so thoroughly cooked, too! Oh, well, at least the two are getting out and exploring the city and its environs. That’s what pleases me most. “

But that did little to quell the outrage. Another questioner and apparent Obama fan wrote, “Oh, the humanity! The President likes his burgers MEDIUM WELL. I’d rather eat shoe leather myself. What can we as Americans do to correct this disaster? As for no ketchup, if that’s his preference, then so be it. I just hope he doesn’t get nailed as a fancy pants elitist for requesting dijon mustard. “

A blogger at “Slashfood, meanwhile, writes, “While I approve of his decision to top his burger with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and dijon mustard, I must strenuously object to his choice to have it grilled medium well. Although not as egregiously awful as well done, medium well is still pretty heavily overcooked. If President Obama wants to eat a hockey puck, the man should order a hockey puck. If he wants a burger, he should go with, at most, medium rare.”

As someone who orders his meat cooked medium-well all the time I’d like to offer a hearty “Fuck you!” on Obama’s behalf. What most restaurants consider to be medium-well is often more of a medium if not borderline medium-rare. Ordering medium-well is the best way to assure your food isn’t bleeding all over your plate like it was just carved off the fucking cow. Just the same, it’s a matter of personal preference and I don’t begrudge people who are willing to risk any number of food borne illnesses by eating their meat rare or medium-rare and I’d appreciate it if you fucking food snobs would allow me and the President the same courtesy. For all I know you people might enjoy a good bout with E. coli bacteria and what you spend your time suffering from on the toilet behind closed doors is entirely up to you.

At any rate what the pundits should be focusing on here isn’t so much what mustard preferences Obama has as much as it is how pathetic the 24 hour news channels have gotten at covering every little thing as though it were of international importance. This is the sort of story that I can see being mentioned at the end of a broadcast or as a quickie throw-away “lite” story for a minute or so, but some of the channels devoted upwards of five minutes to it. Thank goodness there’s at least one pundit out there who did just that:

Once again it takes a comedian to point out the true absurdity in the situation. I can only imagine what he’ll have to say about the whole Dijon-gate silliness.