Conservatives seem to have a bad memory of their own behaviors.

I keep seeing this meme pop up on my Facebook wall:

republicanriotmeme

I’ve already been blocked by one die hard Conservative for daring to reply to it when they posted it and I’ll probably be blocked by a few more before I’m done.

Yes, this is technically true. Republicans didn’t riot when Obama won in 2008. They did rush out and buy a shitload of guns because they were scared shitless that Obama was going to try take away their second amendment rights — something he never even so much as tried to do in all of his time in office — but they didn’t technically riot. They did the same thing again when he was re-elected in 2012 driving gun sales to record levels in the process.

However, this meme ignores an important distinction: Obama’s wins in no way threatened the well being of white people. Unlike President-elect Trump, Obama never threatened to deport white people or ban Christians from entering the country or take away white people’s right to marry. Obama didn’t insult and denigrate his opponents constantly or talk about how he would like to punch a heckler in the mouth. He didn’t talk about imprisoning his political rivals despite the fact that a good case could have been made that George W. Bush was guilty of war crimes. In fact, he made a point of saying he wasn’t even going to look into the idea of prosecuting anyone involved in the disastrous Iraq war. He ran a campaign not based on fear, but on hope and change for the better. Whether Conservatives want to believe it or not, they faced no real threat from Obama winning other than having to live with some policies they didn’t agree with. So why would they protest in the streets?

Which isn’t to say they didn’t protest. How many years did we have to put up with Conservatives whining about how Obama wasn’t born in America so he shouldn’t be eligible to be President? Hell, there were books written on the topic and even Trump himself kept questioning Obama’s status as a citizen right up until he started campaigning. The fuckers are still screaming he’s a socialist/Muslim/dicktator/fascist/traitor every chance they get.

On social media Republicans are crying about folks using the #NotMyPresident hashtag ignoring the fact that many of them were saying the same damned thing about Obama for the past eight years. Suddenly the act of declaring Trump as “not their President” is offensive to Republican sensibilities.

Then there’s this:

WE'LL TAKE TO THE STREETS IF TRUMP DOESN'T WIN!

WE’LL TAKE TO THE STREETS IF TRUMP DOESN’T WIN!

And then this:

Why I do declare, I don't understand why people are taking to the streets in protest! We Republicans would NEVER do such a thing.

Why I do declare, I don’t understand why people are taking to the streets in protest! We Republicans would NEVER do such a thing.

There was no shortage of Conservatives threatening armed revolt if Clinton won the election. We’ll never know what would’ve happened had Clinton won, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it were Republicans in the streets crying “Not My President” because the irrational hatred of Clinton among those folks is deep after 20 years of demonization by the Republican party. For fuck’s sake, you shiftless bastards were talking about impeaching her as soon as she took office before the election was even decided.

And don’t cry to me about how some of the protestors are rioting when this sort of shit is coming from your side of the divide:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

I could go on and on, but you get the point. So, yes, technically the meme I posted at the top of this entry is correct. Republicans didn’t take to the streets to protest Obama’s election wins. That doesn’t mean the folks protesting Trump’s win don’t have good reasons to do so. If you honestly can’t understand why folks, particularly minorities, are upset about Trump winning then either you haven’t been paying attention or you’re just a heartless bastard.

And before you even suggest it, no, I’m not saying they should be rioting and committing crimes, but by and large most of the protests have been peaceful. Yes, some have turned violent. That happens sometimes when a lot of emotional people are gathered in public. We can’t seem to get through a national sports championship without some idiots setting shit on fire, which is an infinitely stupider reason to riot than what is motivating these folks.

At the very least, if you’re going to bitch about it then try not to be such hypocritical fucks while doing so.

Well, that election didn’t turn out like I thought it would.

I admit it. Back when Trump first announced his candidacy, I thought he was mainly doing it as a publicity stunt. As he came closer and closer to winning the nomination my incredulity only grew. There was no way he’d be the nominee because the Republicans weren’t that crazy, right? Surely they were sane enough to recognize how unfit for office this man was and yet he still became their nominee. I got a little worried then. Not too worried, though, because there was a part of me that still couldn’t believe the populace would hand him the reigns to the country. Just based on some of the horrible things he said — let alone some of his past actions — it seemed clear to me that any rational person would see this was not a man who should be President. Yeah, I can be foolishly optimistic at times. To the point that it can override my natural tendency towards cynicism.

So, I wake up yesterday and Donald Trump is President-elect. My first thought was: “Well shit.”

I often annoy my wife by trying hard not to speculate on what other people’s motives are. I try very hard not to assume I know why two people are fighting or who is right out or wrong unless I have a great deal more data than I usually do. Why did so many people vote for someone I find personally reprehensible for President? Someone who might do damage to our country that could take decades to undo? I’ve heard all sorts of reasons. Any and/or all of which might have been why. My natural inclination is to think we’ve all lost our goddamned minds, but I know that’s not really true. I don’t know that I’m smart enough to puzzle out the answers and there are others already analyzing the hell out of this election that are better qualified to pontificate on it.

What I do know is that this is the reality we live in now and we’re going to have to deal with the good, bad, and ugly as it comes along. There are a lot of people that are scared shitless right now — minorities, LGTB, etc. — and with good reason given some of of things the President-elect has said he will do. I can’t change the election, but I can do my part to try and stop the damage this administration may try to do. I’ll be reupping my membership in the ACLU for starters (https://www.aclu.org/) and I’ll be donating to a few other organizations when I can. Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/) and Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State (https://www.au.org/).

I’m also going to try and keep an open mind about President Trump. I don’t know that he fully understands just what he’s gotten himself into and I hope — that small knot of optimism again — that once it starts to dawn on him that it’ll sober him up a bit. I even dare to hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, it’ll make him a better person and a not-entirely-terrible President. My inner cynic laughs at the thought and I’m not one to buy into miracles, but I was so wrong about how this election would go that I cannot ignore that I might be wrong about how the resulting administration will turn out. Right now, hope is all I got so I’ll cling to it.

That said, you can bet your sweet ass that if he does turn out to be as horrible as I fear he will be that I’ll be blogging about it. I’ve not been as active on here since Obama got into office whereas I was all over Bush’s shit. If nothing else good comes from this at least it may be the catalyst that gets me back into blogging regularly once more. I’m not planning on packing up and fleeing to another country. This one is as much mine as it is anyone else’s and it won’t progress from my turning tail and running away.

For now I’m going to try and focus on the good stuff in my life. Friends and family and the upcoming holidays. There’s still lots of things in the world that make life worth living. Yeah it’s that old hoary chestnut of counting your blessings, but it does help sometimes. Shit is probably going to get rough in the near future and I will deal with it as I see it coming down the pike and I’ll try to help others along the way.

Until then, there’s this:

bublecorn

John Oliver takes a good look at Third Party candidates.

There’s a handful of folks I’m friends with on FB that have been encouraging people to vote Third Party this year. Mainly they’re promoting either Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party or Jill Stein of the Green party. I have to wonder how much research they’ve put into their choices because even though both candidates have a couple of policy ideas that I could get behind, when you look at what they’re proposing in total you begin to realize that they’re really not a good alternative.

John Oliver on Last Week Tonight decided to do a segment on them to find out what they really stand for:

In all honesty, I would be hard pressed to decide between Trump, Johnson, and Stein for worst possible candidate though just on pure horribleness as a person alone it would probably go to Trump. That said, I don’t think Stein or Johnson would be that much better of a candidate given their lack of knowledge of their own policy proposals and/or how the government actually works.

I’m far from a fan of Hillary Clinton, but she is the single most qualified and probably least dangerous option out of all the available ones this election. Certainly she’s the one I would lose the least amount of sleep over.

John Oliver on the false equivalency of Clinton and Trump scandals.

I’ve heard a lot of folks make the claim that Hillary Clinton is just as plagued by scandals as Donald Trump, but it’s just not true. John Oliver on Last Week Tonight decided to take a closer look at both candidates on this issue and here’s what he found:

Hillary isn’t my first choice for President, but she’s objectively a better candidate than Trump. She’ll be getting my vote in November.

Voting is important. Make sure you cast yours this November.

We Americans sure do love to holler about how patriotic we are. We slap bumper stickers on our cars with various slogans and apply images of the flag to every surface that can be printed on and we chant “USA! USA! USA!” at every opportunity. Yet nearly half of all eligible Americans don’t bother to do one of the most patriotic things possible: Voting.

If you’re eligible, but not registered to vote the folks at SaveTheDay.vote can help you with getting that done so you can exercise one of your fundamental rights as an American. In Michigan the deadline to register, either in person or by mail, is October 11th. That’s only a couple of weeks away. This is arguably one of the most important elections ever — certainly within my lifetime. Prove just how patriotic you are by casting your vote on November 8th.

Don’t do it just because you want to see Mark Ruffalo naked. Do it because it’s your civic duty.

My attempt to explain the 2016 U.S. election.

Way back at the start of March SEB reader Dave out of the U.K. sent me the following via email:

Hi Les i would love to know what you are thinking about the current presidential campaign and especially what you and your family are making of Trumps lead on the Republican campaign.  I’m from England and am not sure we’re getting a true picture of what is happening.    Thank you

Since then I’ve started at least a half dozen blog entries and I ended up scrapping every one of them because shit keeps changing and things I thought would never happen ended up happening. Still, I promised him a blog post so I should probably post something. Keep in mind that I am no expert on Politics; or much of anything really.

The best I can say, Dave, is that the Republican party has finally lost their goddamned minds. When Trump first announced his intention to run for President most folks, and this includes many Republicans, laughed it off as a publicity stunt. There have even been a couple of people who worked with Trump in his early days who said as much later, but no one realized that the subset of the Republican base made up of poor, racist, angry white people was as large as it turns out to be. Large enough, apparently, to turn Trump from a joke into the presumptive Republican nominee.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best the Republicans have to offer as President.

Ladies and gentlemen, the best the Republicans have to offer for President.

As much fun as it’s been watching the Republican establishment eat itself alive trying to stop this train wreck from happening, there’s a frightening reality that tribalism will assert itself and even the “reasonable” Republicans will fall in line because they can’t countenance the idea of ever voting for a Democrat no matter how terrible their own nominee happens to be. If Trump is the nominee (and there’s no reason to expect he won’t be at this point) there’s a real danger he could end up President. It might be unlikely, but then I thought the same thing about him clinching the nomination and I was horribly wrong about that so I worry about the general election.

As for the Democrats, I would prefer that Bernie Sanders gets the nod as I like a lot of the policies he advocates for. Sure, the chances of some of them ever actually happening in his term might be small, but that’s no reason not to try. That said, if Hillary ends up as the nominee, as it appears she will, I will vote for her because for all her faults she’s still a damned sight better than Trump. I’m not happy with some of her ties to Wall Street and I think she’s more right of center than I’d prefer, but Bernie has dragged her more to the left and hopefully that’ll stick.

So what if the worst happens and Trump manages to win the general election? Well, that’ll be nerve wracking to be sure, but I won’t go so far as to say it would be a death knell for the United States. We’ve survived some pretty bad presidents over the years and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if both Congress and the SCOTUS kept him in check. Not that he wouldn’t do a great deal of damage however long he’s in office, but I think we’d somehow manage to survive it. I don’t expect this to actually happen as I think between Democrats and Independents there’s enough sane people left in this country to insure he doesn’t win, but I’ve been wrong before.

I don’t know if this answers your question, Dave, but it’s what I’ve got to offer. If you have any followup questions I’ll try to answer them in the comments.

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:

axeswithnames

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?

Uh…

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.

carpetknifecontrol

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.