Conservatives: Nasty When Winning, REALLY Nasty When Losing

It’s bad when you’re a sore winner and gloat for months on end. It’s worse when you’re an adult, and a really sore loser.

Please take a moment and compare the reactions of conservatives to the Obamacare ruling to the reaction of liberals to the Citizens United ruling. There is a difference between being disappointed or upset and acting like a crazy person while implying that SCOTUS Justice Roberts’ epilepsy meds made him crazy (or wishing death on the justices).

WTF is wrong with these people?

They are mean-spirited, gloaty, sore winners when things go their way and nasty, petulant, crybaby losers threatening armed revolution, wishing death on others or speculating someone has gone insane when they are denied their way.

“Conservatives have exhibited a veritable rainbow of bad reactions to Thursday’s announcement. Former Fox News personality Glenn Beck has taken to selling Chief Justice John Roberts T-shirts that say “Coward” on his website ($30 plus shipping and handling). Matt Drudge and others have been blaming the ruling on Roberts’s epilepsy medication, although presumably his ruling on Citizens United was not affected by the same factors.

Merrimack, New Hampshire libertarian and Tea Party president Mike Malzone has gone further than others in his outrage, declaring in a Facebook post on the Merrimack Tea Party page, “I hope the (5 Supremes supporting ACA) get colon cancer.””

Charming.

Sometimes everyday ordinary conservatives exhibit similar behavior. Here’s an interesting exchange from Facebook:

Lucy D****: “Well I am Conservative and I don’t hate. Some of my best friends are Liberal*. So you can understand how I find this post offensive!”

Marcela V******: “And you [Lucy] are a huge liar. I just went to your page and it’s filled with pure hate and all your KKK friends post just as much garbage as you do. You call the President every racist and vile name you can think of and then you come here talking like you’re pure and sweet. I reported your page as well for actual hate speech and the use of racist words.”

Chest S********: “This is not a public opinion survey, it’s a fucking Facebook page, so you can understand how I find your post tedious. If you don’t like my page or its content, there is a lot of internet out there for you to be self-righteous on. Good day.”

And from Politico:

‎”Democratically elected representatives pass a law that is signed by the president. The G.O.P. yells and screams that the law is unconstitutional (even though the mandate was their idea), so it goes to the Supreme Court. Now the Supreme Court decides that, in fact, the law is constitutional.

So what’s the next big idea from some of the best and brightest of G.O.P. governors? Hold off implementing any parts of the health care law until the November 6th election has passed, at the very least. Refusal to apply for grants, set up health exchanges or do anything that would benefit the people of their state is the new top priority. In a surprise move (at least to me), Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is not among those looking to play games and wait until the last minute to get anything done in compliance with the A.C.A.

Of course the Obama administration had prepared for such nonsense from the G.O.P. :

“The Obama administration sent a clear message [after Obamacare was upheld by SCOTUS] that it is prepared to begin creating state-by-state health insurance exchanges in places where politicians hostile to the Affordable Care Act refuse to do so.

A White House official stressed that Republican governors’ resistance to the law will be no barrier to the creation of the exchanges. All 50 states, the official said, will have exchanges by 2014.””

* Did you catch that? “Some of my best friends are [members of a particular–usually minority–group]” is almost always a dead giveaway that you’re dealing with a jerk.

False Equivalencies: Why Glenn Beck Pretended to Be Upset Obama “Ate a Dog”

Glenn Beck is SIMPLY APPALLED, people. Obama, when he was a small child, living in a country that does not have the same taboo about eating dogs that we do, was given dog to eat by his adult caretaker. Well then, Beck, I guess you have to stop calling President Obama a Muslim then since it is forbidden by their faith.

Man, the conservatives really had to dig deep to counter Romney’s callous treatment of the family dog. Ever hear of “two wrongs don’t make a right”?

Or, more accurately, that the offending passage from one of Obama’s books that they are attempting to color as “just as bad” does not elaborate on whether Obama knew he was eating dog beforehand (I was fed donkey and snake AND rabbit without knowing that was what it was before I ate it), does not mention that it is common in the country where he was raised (even if it is gross to Western sensibilities), and involves, at best, being a passive bystander and consumer of an anonymous and nameless livestock animal raised for meat like a cow or chicken or pig.

Compare that to what Mitt Romney admits he did as an adult: he was an actively responsible party mistreating a living animal with a name (Seamus) who was already elevated to the status of house pet by strapping him for hours atop the family car, and then he did nothing to remedy the situation after the supposedly beloved companion animal / four-legged family member expressed discomfort, fear, and distress by, well, crapping himself.

So now we’re comparing what Obama did as a child to an anonymous animal, when he had no choice but to do eat what his adult guardian told him to do, to what Romney did as an adult to a family pet, when he had several options he could have chosen at any time, such as putting his luggage atop the car and the dog inside it. What, was he more concerned that a suitcase might fall off than the dog carrier? To repeat: Obama was a child who was FED dog by his caregiver (how much choice did YOU have in deciding the dinner menu at your home when you were a kid?), while Romney was an adult who freely chose how to treat the family dog and to ignore the poor animal’s obvious distress.

In short, weaksauce all around. But would you expect anything else?

You know, I remember Matt Drudge spamming the entire USENET with his screeds, not bothering to check if it was wanted or appropriate.

Back in the day, self-promotion and advertising of any sort were LOATHED and resisted. There were newsgroups (sort of like forums) which existed as separate little “islands” of discussion devoted to a narrow-focus subject, and people resented–especially when access was via a slow dial-up modem), and EVEN MORE when they got on USENET via the first paynets–reading something off-topic.

Most people using USENET had access to approximately 5,000 newsgroups of varying degrees of popularity. Drudge would spam his long and 99.8% off-topic and self-indulgent / self-promotional “reports” to every single newsgroup he had access to, and would ignore everyone raising hell about it (SO RUDE). He did not participate in discussions that I EVER saw. He was out to talk about what he wanted to talk about, and to hell with you or if it was an appropriate venue or even if anyone else was interested even tangentially in his posts.

If there was any justice, he would eventually have gotten tired of spamming the world and being hated by nearly everyone with USENET access globally and would have gone away (or, when the Internet finally had a GUI, he would have made a ranty Angelfire or Geocities webpage with spinny skulls, under construction animations, rainbow-hued horizontal dividers and GIFs of Reagan with a halo and Clinton with devil horns…maybe an ASCII cow or Bart Simpson picture). Unfortunately for us all, he was leaked documents about the Lewinsky scandal, probably because he was a self-important global spammer who ignored all criticism in his lust for blathering about how much conservetism rocks and liberals all suck to EVERY DAMN BODY’S NEWSGROUPS, he posted THAT all over the damn place, and, voila, the little asshole has never stopped being self-important, spreading gossip and mostly unsubstantiated dross, and trying to just shout louder than anyone else, without regard for anyone who might find him tedious, wrong, annoying, etc.

So, there you go.

I’m not upset that he busted Clinton and Lewinsky, for what that is worth. Someone else would have. I’m just annoyed that he has ended up being REWARDED for being a giant hateful conservatard asshole with no social skills or courtesy for others.

Seriously, there is no justice in this world.

One of my conservative friends (who was VERY irritated that I reminded him that the Heritage Foundation was responsible for the part of Obamacare he had been ranting about most) treated me to this false equivalency:

  1. Windmills for wind power kill birds.
  2. Birds fly into the windmills and die.
  3. Lots of them.
  4. Ergo, windmill blades killing birds is JUST AS BAD as drilling for oil and having a pipe burst and spill oil everywhere. (“Take that, liberals! How you like us now! You bird-murderers!”)

Yes, indeed. Birds fly into stuff. That is, of course, exactly equivalent to BP getting away pretty much scot-free with dumping tens of thousands of gallons of biohazardous material into the Gulf, killing dozens if not hundreds of species (including birds; heck, if you want to be utilitarian, including fish and shrimp that humans eat) and then trying not to actually pay any of the damages without being arm-twisted.

Man.

I did not even bother to get into a discussion about it. Because birds flying into windmills is EXACTLY THE SAME THING as probably permanent damage to not just birds but also a lot of sea life and HUMAN BEINGS in the area. And wind power is just evil, anyway, because Republicans are wary of it. No big money in wind power. So it has to be EEEEEVIL and bad.

Seriously. As columnist Dave Barry used to say, I am not making this up.

(Birds fly into wind power windmill blades: BAN WIND FARMS.
Birds also fly into jet engines on places. BAN PLANES.
Birds also fly into house and business windows. BAN WINDOWS.)

Both political parties have their flawed cheerleaders, though.

Nick Kerton says, “The bad thing about [Joe] Scarborough isn’t that he’s a harsh conservative, but that he constantly says he’s a “centrist”. His fucking theme song is Stuck In The Middle With You. Scarborough is obvious, though. Chris Matthews is a bit conservative leaning as well, while Al Sharpton tends to paint atheists unfairly when religious issues come up — in one segment he explicitly suggested that social justice could be an EXCLUSIVELY religious value. But CNN…argh. When they’re not saying the Dems just need to give more to the rabid dogs, they’re spending half an hour explaining how an exit poll works.”

I agree with all three criticisms. Joe is mostly an economic conservative. Chris gets very hawkish and sort of, hmm, fratty and he never met a boring sport analogy he didn’t love to rant at length about. Al is still recovering from the Tawana Brawley Hoax and his mild animus towards any atheist or agnostic folks.

While we are at it, I like Keith Olbermann (and his affection for James Thurber is charming), but he’s kind of a douchenugget off-camera.

The false equivalencies are thoroughly annoying, whichever side does it, though. There is something to be said for comparing apples to apples, rather than apples to kumquats, Ford Pintos, or monkeywrenches.

The South Will Not Rise Again.

No, the South will not rise again.

First of all, you may have noticed that we do not own people any more. A hundred years or so after the Civil War, someone got the idea to reframe what the Civil War was about (the South being butthurt when reminded that slavery is bad, no matter what their precious Bibles said about it (the Bible says it’s OK), and throwing a big tantrum about “being told what to do”) as a States’ Rights Issue. Yeah, it was a States’ Rights Issue where the “right” the states wanted to throw down over was legalized ownership of people who had dark skin. You can squirm around and try to reframe that with a lot of flowery and vaguely patriotic waffling about sovreignty of states and woof-woof about a number of irrelevant distractions and tie yourself in a knot to try and make slavery sound like a fucking picnic (which it might have been…IF YOU WERE WHITE) that all serve to pretend that slavery was not why we had a civil war, but let’s face it: White people got mad that they were told to stop being assholes and trying to own non-white people. They thus decided to commit treason and secede and, surprise, there was a war over it. You can’t own people, you lost, so get over it.

Secondly, you may have noticed that we have progressed past being an agriculture-based society. In fact, we were going in that direction at the time of the Civil War. Nowadays, we don’t need your stinking cotton. (Who actually makes a decent living growing cotton anymore anyway?) We have not only an industrialized society, we have a technologically advanced society. Things change. You lost. Get over it.

Lastly, the American Civil War officially ended on June 22, 1865 and the Confederacy surrendered. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia officially remained a part of the United States, even if the rest of the country weren’t entirely sure they wanted to have anything to do with those stupid racist treasonous bastards anymore at that point. The Confederacy LOST. YOU LOST. GET OVER IT.

As The Onion, bless them, put it: “The Deep South states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Tennessee consistently rank at the bottom of the nation in a wide variety of statistical categories, including literacy, infant mortality, hospital beds, toilet-paper sales, and shoe usage.”

You can’t “rise again” when your people are painfully stupid. People in Alabama and Mississippi are so pig ignorant that they insist on believing President Obama is a Muslim, despite, I don’t know, pictures of Obama in church, Obama smoking cigarettes, Obama chowing down on a nice pork hotdog, and Obama drinking beer, Obama eating ALL the bacon. It’s like they forgot all the fuss about Jeremiah Wright already, who was–remember?–a controversial pastor in a Christian church where Obama was a parishioner. But, OK, sure, he’s a “Muslim,” you guys.

You stupid bastards. What is wrong with you?

What do the Southern states contribute to the country as a whole? A short list:

  • Creationists
  • The Moral Majority
  • Tobacco
  • Grits
  • Crappy country music
  • Creative roadkill recipes
  • Gigantic cockroaches
  • Kudzu
  • Coca-Cola
  • Fried Chicken
  • Gun racks
  • Ballsack-shaped trailer hitch decorations
  • Copyright-infringing Calvin-pissing-on-things stickers
  • People who think “yeehaw” is a word
  • NASCAR
  • Chaw (chewing tobacco)
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Mindbendingly miserable summer heat
  • Red clay dirt
  • Confederate flag paraphenalia
  • Mint juleps
  • Dog fighting
  • Klansmen
  • Lynchings
  • An obsession with football that borders on unnerving
  • Televangelists
  • Darwin Award winners
  • Names like Earl, Cletus, Bubba, Festus, and Oral that trip gracefully off the tongue like the finest poetry
  • People with two first names (Joe Bob, Jimmy Ray, Peggy Sue, Betty Lou, Mary Ann, Curtis Lee…)
  • Moonshine
  • Moonpies
  • Overalls
  • Picaninny dolls
  • Neo-Nazis
  • Rednecks
  • Hillbillies
  • Dueling banjos
  • Racism
  • Ignorance
  • Misogyny
  • Homophobia
  • Xenophobia
  • A wide variety of commercial products that display ignorance of the US flag code concerning proper respectful behavior towards and display of our country’s flag
  • Snakehandlers
  • Dirteaters
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Inbreeding
  • Mullets
  • Dental nightmares
  • Conspiracy theorists
  • UFO spotters
  • Stephen Foster tunes
  • Gone With The Wind
  • Militias
  • Domestic terrorists
  • Chitlins
  • Election fraud and dangling chads
  • Enough failure emanating from Florida specifically to earn it a special tag at Fark.com
  • The Dukes of Hazard
  • DIABEETUS

And, of course, Southern states tend to be “Red States,” meaning deeply conservative / Republican states. You’re not going to “rise again” if you’re the least healthy, have the shortest lifespans, have the highest infant mortality rates, rank lowest in education stats, have the highest number of teen pregnancies, consistently consume more tax-based social programs and handouts than do Blue States, are consistently the poorest, and consistently have the highest rates of unemployment. No, Bubba, that is not a recipe for domination and success, much less “rising again” in some racist wet dream of Southern culture supremacy creating a utopia based on a plantation-era fantasy.

Let’s get real.

The Red States are the unhealthiest states.

Bottom of the barrel (all bolded states are Confederacy states from here on out):

35 Indiana
36 Florida
37 North Carolina
38 Missouri
39 Texas
40 Arkansas
41 Kentucky
42 West Virginia
43 Georgia
44 Tennessee
45 Nevada
46 South Carolina
47 Louisiana
48 Alabama
49 Oklahoma
50 Mississippi

Red States take more medications.

“Forbes magazine reports that last year we spent $291.5 billion on drugs and that on a per capita medication usage rate (see “America’s Most Medicated States”)  the states with the highest usage are in the South.  West Virginia leads the pack, at 17.7 prescriptions/person vs 11.6/person as the national average; with other Southern states AL, SC, TN, AR, LA, KY and border state MO; following in the lead.”

Red States have the highest teen pregnancy rates.

So much for abstinence-only sex ed classes.

“The most “religious” states are the ones that consistently have the worst rates of teen pregnancy. Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia and so on, nine of the top ten states for teen pregnancy are in the Bible Belt (New Mexico is the outlier but they don’t require sex ed at all, with the same lousy results).”

Red States do least well in education statistics.

Red States have higher crime rates than Blue States.

“The average violent crime rate (murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault) in 2008 for the 28 states that voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election was 389 incidents per 100,000 residents. The average violent crime rate for the 22 states that voted for John McCain was 412 incidents per 100,000 residents – or a 5.8 percent higher incidence of violent crime. […]

These crime rate findings hold despite the fact that blue states have a higher population of residents in urban areas, which tend to have higher crime rates than rural areas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 Census of Population and Housing, Population and Housing Unit Counts, the average statewide percentage of residents living in urban areas in the Obama states was 78.0 percent, compared to a statewide average of just 64.6 percent in the McCain states. […]

Eight of the top 11 states with the highest property crime rates voted for McCain: Arizona (#1), South Carolina (#2), Alabama (#4), Tennessee (#6), Georgia (#7), Texas (#8), Arkansas (#10), and Louisiana (#11).”

Red States dominate the “poorest US states” lists.

Red States dominate the “most unemployed” lists.

38. ARIZONA – 8.6
38. KENTUCKY – 8.6
38. OREGON – 8.6
41. ILLINOIS – 8.8
42. SOUTH CAROLINA – 8.9
43. FLORIDA – 9.0
43. GEORGIA – 9.0
43. MISSISSIPPI – 9.0
43. NEW JERSEY – 9.0
47. NORTH CAROLINA – 9.7
48. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – 9.8
49. CALIFORNIA – 11.0
50. RHODE ISLAND – 11.1

Red States dominate infant mortality lists.

By comparison, the United States as a whole ranks 6.81 per 1000

1. District of Columbia 12.6
2. Mississippi 10.6
3. Louisiana 10.0
4. Alabama 9.1
5. South Carolina 9.0
6. Tennessee 8.7
7. Delaware 8.6
8. North Carolina 8.5
9. Georgia 8.2
9. Arkansas 8.2

Red States pay fewer taxes and consume more social services than do Blue States.

 

Some AWESOME Red State stats for you:

WORST STATES EVER: INFANT MORTALITY

Ranked in order of Highest Incidence of Infant Mortality, 1-50: (Lowest number is worst.)

Mississippi 1st
Louisiana 2nd
South Carolina 3rd
Alabama 4th
Tennessee 6th
Georgia 9th
West Virginia 10th
Oklahoma 11th
Arkansas 14th
Montana 23rd
Arizona 24th
Kentucky 27th
Alaska 37th

WORST STATES EVER: LIFE EXPECTANCY

Life Expectancy ranked by Lowest Average Age at Death, 1-50: (Highest number is worst.)

Mississippi 50th
Louisiana 49th
South Carolina 47th
Alabama 48th
Tennessee 45th
Georgia 41st
West Virginia 46th
Oklahoma 44th
Arkansas 43rd
Montana 25th
Arizona 22nd
Kentucky 42nd
Alaska 26th

WORST STATES EVER: POOREST

Poorest States ranked by lowest Median Household Income, 1-50: (Lowest number is worst.)

Mississippi 1st
Louisiana 6th
South Carolina 10th
Alabama 5th
Tennessee 9th
Georgia 28th
West Virginia 2nd
Oklahoma 8th
Arkansas 3rd
Montana 12th
Arizona 29th
Kentucky 4th
Alaska 48th

WORST STATES EVER: EDUCATION

States’ Education ranked by spending, test scores, drop-out rate, college admissions, etc., 1-50: (Highest number is worst.)

Mississippi 48th
Louisiana 44th
South Carolina 26th
Alabama 45th
Tennessee 30th
Georgia 41st
West Virginia 37th
Oklahoma 36th
Arkansas 32nd
Montana 7th
Arizona 50th
Kentucky 31st
Alaska 46th

WORST STATES EVER: TAX BACK

Tax Back ranked according to the most Federal spending in the State per tax dollar from the State, 1-50: (Lowest number is biggest parasite on you if you live in a tax-positive Blue State.)

Mississippi 4th
Louisiana 13th
South Carolina 17th
Alabama 6th
Tennessee 18th
Georgia 35th
West Virginia 3rd
Oklahoma 11th
Arkansas 12th
Montana 9th
Arizona 19th
Kentucky 14th
Alaska 2nd

WELL DONE!

The South won’t rise again, because the South is the pits. As a Georgian, I am tired of being surrounded by Confederate-flag waving, “Dixie” horn-tooting ignoramuses who cite “being born white” as one of their life’s greatest accomplishments.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all wormy peaches down here. But you really sound mentally challenged when you give lipservice to the idea of “rising again” and glorify slavery days as something to return to.

 

YOU LOST.

GET OVER IT.

 

Oh, by the way, your “Confederate flag” is historically inaccurate. Idiots.

Believe It Or Not, There Are People Who Do Not Care About Sports / Politics

To be clear, I don’t “hate sports.” I am as close to being utterly indifferent as possible, which is not hate or even distaste. I just don’t care. There’s no “you’re wrong if you like sports” message here. I actually find it hard to pinpoint one thing I hate absolutely, though perhaps “misogynistic gangsta rap that glorifies materialism and violence” might come close, and that is possibly because I have yet to hear more than one or two examples of the genre I didn’t dislike.

(PC LOAD LETTER!)

Even so, I don’t “hate” it. I dislike much of what I have heard, and with some intensity. But, again, that’s an indication I am invested enough in the topic to work up a little grouchiness on the topic. Since I have a mostly negative opinion based on the few samples of the genre I have been exposed to,  I’m not totally indifferent.

I am indifferent about sports. I don’t think people who enjoy sports are bad or wrong, I’m just not into it. A friend and I were discussing politics the other day, a subject about which we (mostly) agree. One of us (perhaps me, perhaps him), had just expressed frustration about the opposing political point of view and what a representative of said POV had said about a particular issue and we both promptly set about making the mistake of getting wound up about it and assuming that the people expressing that point of view — or worse, that the people who weren’t discussing or thinking about it at all — were just plain stupid. Admit it, you have done this. You may have even said it: “All [insert members of the political party you don’t agree with] are stupid!” You’re only human, right? Please note that this is a dangerous assumption, no matter what political views you espouse.

I caught us both starting to just dismiss the opposition as a bunch of idiots, and it shook me up. I took a moment to reflect about that. Normally, I don’t like to assume the worst of people. I don’t like to lump people together and say “all X are Y.” I don’t like to just assume that there is a monolithic group out there that collectively acts more like the Borg, a Hivemind, or Pod People rather than, as is true, that there is a group that is made up of real individuals who don’t all act in lock-step or agree on every single issue, and I might or might not have common interests or beliefs with some of them. Normally, I want to know why people I disagree with happen to think the way they do. So why was I dismissing an entire political party as being irredeemably “stupid”? I knew it wasn’t true! I have friends and family members who say they belong to the political party I do not agree with, and we coexist just fine, and not a single one of those people are actually unintelligent. So. What gives?

One thing that occurred to me is that some people just don’t really care about politics. Let’s get real: politics are complicated. They cover social issues, legal issues, and — though Separation of Church and State would seem to be a contraindication — religious issues. To be well-informed, you have to be willing to read information from a lot of different sources, which takes a commitment of time and energy that some people can’t (or don’t want to) make. I know conservative friends who will dismiss any information that is not endorsed by Fox News. I know liberal friends who would rather eat glass than listen to Glenn Beck. (Interestingly enough, liberals I know are apparently less likely to embrace any and all liberal spokespeople just because they happen to be liberal-leaning: for example, I know a lot of liberals who strongly dislike(d) Al Gore, Hillary Clinton or Michael Moore and criticize MSNBC. I know few — if any — conservatives who don’t claim they supported and agreed with the Presidents Bush or who don’t admire Ronald Reagan and quote Glenn Beck at least once. Or who don’t like Michael Savage. Or Rush Limbaugh. Or who refuse to watch FOX News. Which is a curiosity to me. But I digress.)

The thing is, sometimes you must read the opposing point(s) of view to understand an issue better. That way, when you disagree, you are disagreeing with what they actually said or did, and not what a source that supports your political views claims they said or did. This, my friends, if you are (wo)man enough to grin and bear it, can be very enlightening. At any rate, there are people who just don’t give a damn about politics, and they act a lot like people who just don’t give a damn about sports. “What!?” you say (while reading this article on a website that discusses politics a lot). “How can this be?”

Here’s where I apologize in advance for any egregious errors I make when discussing sports. Feel free to correct me in the comments section if you feel so inclined (and know that you’ll be outing yourself to the rest of us as A Person Who Cares A Lot About Sports, not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m admitting I don’t know much. It’s not a passion for me.

I have noticed something interesting. People who like sports typically really like sports. My brother is one of these people. If there is an activity which can, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered a competitive sport, then he probably knows a lot of arcane data about it. People who like sports pay attention to which people play for which team. They know the coaches’ names and sometimes they know the referees’ names, too. They make a point to travel to see sports in action. (I would say that more people watch or actually attend sporting events than vote or actually go to (for example) Town Hall meetings or political rallies, but that is just a guess.) People who like sports understand the context when Dennis Rodman gets up, while accepting an award, and apologizes for past bad behavior and vows to be a better person. Non-sports people may not even know who Rodman is, or just know him as “that clown” who likes body art, hair dye and wearing dresses. There’s no context there for them, so the non-sports person shrugs and says, “That’s nice.” Or take the LeBron brouhaha. I’m a non-sports person. To me, it looks, from the outside, like LeBron dumped one team to accept a more lucrative offer from a competing team. This doesn’t bug me one bit. Isn’t that what all people do when they wish to advance in their career? They leave one job, which they may have liked perfectly well, to accept a better-paying job elsewhere and few people raise an eyebrow about it. A sports person, however, is going to have very strong opinions about LeBron’s decision. Here’s another example: not only was I not interested in the most recent Superbowl, I forgot what day it was going to air, and I am still not 100% sure who played. I don’t care if they won or lost. That was the motherloving Superbowl, people, which I am not unaware is a Very Big Effing Deal if you like sports (especially football). Are you having heart palpitations yet, sports-loving people?

I am vaguely aware of various stand-out athletes. Sometimes, such as when I play trivia games, I am shocked that some nugget of sports information has managed to filter its way into my sports-indifferent brain files. I’ve attended a few sports events (and was fairly knowledgeable about the Atlanta Braves during the mid-1990s, if I dare say so myself, though much of that knowledge is long gone…it has atrophied from disuse). I know that if you go to the University of Georgia, you better damn well support The Dawgs, or suffer the consequences. I could go on, but you get the idea.

It suddenly occurred to me that, for some people, politics are as interesting to them as sports are to me.

They know the names of the biggest players, and have a rough idea which “team” they belong to. They pick and choose favourites by relying upon occasionally very arbitrary and limited scraps of information. They hear a soundbite and it sounds good, and they don’t feel the need to go digging for context. (Likewise, I know that there’s a dude named Yao Ming. I know that he is very tall and, I presume, good at his job, but I have no clue what team he is on, or if they are doing well. I just don’t care. I’m satisfied that I can identify that particular tall dude if I have to.) Just as my friends and relatives who care passionately about and enjoy sports are probably disgusted by (or annoyed by) my lack of interest, I find myself equally upset with people who don’t give a shit about politics. (There is only one reason why I might have a “better” excuse to be upset: political issues have a habit of affecting us all, more or less, whether we pay attention to them or not. Conversely, whether a particular sports team wins or loses may be a big deal to fans, but even they have to admit that the outcome — unless they bet on it — is not going to really affect them on a personal or lasting basis. Beyond that, a passion for political information is probably just as unfathomable or boring or uninteresting to people who do not give a crap about politics (beyond the basic highlights and soundbites) as a passion for sports trivia and current events is to people who do not give a crap about sports.

There is a limited amount of free time and attention any one person can give to topics that go beyond the basics of survival. You have to worry about your family, your job (or lack thereof), your home (or lack thereof), your personal aches and pains, your health problems, and so on. The busier you are with family and work and personal concerns, and the more non-basic interests and hobbies you have competing for your attention, the less likely it is that you are going to have the interest — or free time — to really dig into politics. You might not even be bothered enough to go and vote (almost inconceivable to me, but when only about 30-40% of eligible US citizens actually bother to get to the polls, you have to face it that it is not inconceivable to a lot of other people, and, in fact, 60% of Americans are, in essence, saying they don’t give a shit about politics…or not enough of one to back up their political opinions by actually bothering to go and vote).

It is understandable that busy people with a less than passionate interest in politics are going to stick with one source of information even if it makes them misinformed, like Fox News (and please understand the difference between uninformed (which is knowing nothing about a particular subject) and misinformed (which means what you think you know or what you have been told is  incorrect)), and/or pick a party and stick with it and reject the idea that maybe that party is working against their best interests (perhaps this is like being a life-long Red Socks fan before they won in 2004, because they were your team, and your dad’s dad’s dad’s team, or you are from Boston (or not) and, well, just because, and “Go Socks!”, et cetera. To repeat: I do not actually care one way or the other about the Red Socks, so don’t yell at me that I mentioned a team you happen to hate.)

There is a reason why political candidates do their best to cherry-pick the current hot-button topics before each election. A lot of people don’t care to really sit down and examine all the issues, because it is a daunting task. They let politicians set the talking points and then argue about them. I may be cynical, but I don’t see a lot of these so-called talking points being passionately discussed by non-politicians before they become political footballs to fight over. Oddly enough, when a politician is not railing about a particular issue, people find it simple enough to decide on a case-by-case basis what they think about something when it actually involves them personally. Talking points take issues that may or may not involve the majority of the public personally, and try to get people to care passionately about them, and, you have to admit, they often succeed. Who gave a shit about the Debt Ceiling before 2011? Be honest, now. It was always a non-issue that only very politically well-informed people even knew about.

Here’s the tricky part: You can’t force people to give a shit about politics, even though it is in their best interests to care.

Often, you can’t even convince conservatives / liberals to get their information from more than one source. Even more often than that, you can’t get some conservatives / liberals to consider the opposition’s POV. Most difficult of all? Getting someone with strongly-held beliefs to take the time to sit down and challenge them, one by one, and see if the party s/he supports is actually promoting ideas that s/he really (still) agrees with! They are, politically-speaking, Red Socks fans before 2004. They belong to a particular party, and it was their dad’s dad’s dad’s party, and that’s good enough. I don’t have to underscore the fact that many Americans do not really enjoy reading for pleasure, do I? Even fewer enjoy reading scholarly books once they don’t “have to” for school. That’s not fun. It takes concentration and comprehension. It takes time.

For what it is worth, when it comes to making my opinions known with the help of social media, I do read all the articles and links I post on my Facebook Wall or which I “retweet” on Twitter. I do not always agree with them (and usually explain why, if it is not obvious). Often I will sit down, when I have free time, and do a little research and explain why I disagree, or why I think something could be explained better, or why something doesn’t look entirely accurate to me. I realize that not everyone has the time or interest to do more than scan headlines, so I try to indicate when an article is a spoof or comedy piece so my more busy friends don’t get all freaked out by a sarcastic Borowitz Report, Daily Currant, Onion or Christwire joke article. I have the luxury of time because I read things very quickly and in the past couple of years, I have been a full-time student but also, sadly, un(der)employed so I have been blessed with some extra free time which I can choose to use to read about things that interest me; that is free time that other people might not have. I am choosing, right now, to focus a lot of my spare reading time on political topics both because it is an election year and also because there are a lot of social and economic issues that I am (I admit) pretty hot under the collar about right now.

I also want to hold people who agree with me politically to some high standards. A lot of online friends were OUTRAGED over a joke circulating about the Obamas (or Obama and Oprah, or Obama and Biden…I have, unfortunately, seen many if not all of the variations) that went something like this:

“Person 1 & Person 2 are on Air Force One. Person 1 says that throwing a $1000 bill (never mind that none are in circulation or easy to get or likely to be cashable at any normal bank) out the plane window would make one person very happy. Person 2 agrees, but says that throwing ten $100 bills out the window would make ten people happy. At this point, the flight attendant or pilot mutters that if s/he threw both 1 & 2 out the window, a large number of people (I’ve seen it as half the population of the US and as the entire population of the US) would be happy.”

It’s a mean-spirited joke, and it is certainly not exactly smart to tell jokes about causing harm to the President. You have to admit that throwing someone out of an airplane is likely to cause them harm or an irreversible case of, well, death. (The Secret Service does not have a great sense of humor, so you take your chances when exercising your rapier wit, First Amendment or not. You know how Suits are. They react first, and sort out what your rights are later, and that’s how it has been for a very long time. (I could get snarky here about The Patriot Act and other politically-expedient erosions of privacy / rights, but I will restrain myself.)) The problem here is that this exact same joke was told about Bush and Cheney in the 2000s, and a lot of liberals didn’t say boo about it. I’ve called a bunch of my liberal friends out about this, too. You can’t think it’s hilarious when it is directed at the guys you don’t agree with, and then get all butthurt and pouty when the exact same joke is told about “your” guys.

(CAVEAT: Both Bush and Obama have been Photoshopped into or compared to apes and monkeys, and people who supported Bush or support Obama don’t find it funny. It’s not cool in either case, but—and this is very important—I have to point out that it takes an especially nasty twist when the subject is African-American. I don’t care if you don’t think that’s fair, because the fact that using Photoshop to depict Obama as a chimpanzee will get you called, rightly, a racist is one of many unfortunate side-effects that happen after white folks oppress non-white folks for decades, when non-white folks are typically disadvantaged in a lot of areas when compared to white folks, and when there are still non-white people alive today who remember riding in the back of the bus or drinking from a separate fountain. You do not, if you happen to be a white person and if you happen to want to avoid being thought of as a racist or asshole (or asshole racist), compound an already sensitive social issue by turning a non-white person into a monkey when that was a well-known racist thing to do in the past and when it still is a racist thing to do today. So, yeah…that’s a trickier issue; one that is thornier and less clear-cut than a recycled joke. Ugh, politicians edited to resemble apes…how about not doing that to anyone anymore?)

What I am trying to say is that people get really emotionally invested in this politics stuff. (Just like people do with sports, though, aside from a dogpiling, deliberate cleating or kneecapping (Tonja Harding, I’m looking at you) now and then, and aside from rioting mobs of sports fans after games, no one has yet been actually assassinated over a sports game that I know of…though I bet a few umpires and referees kept a very low profile for a while after certain controversial calls (Russian Olympics judges, I am looking at you).) You can’t force people to care more, or educate those who have made up their minds and are satisfied with their choices and are rigid about them. You can post facts all day long, and those who do not care, won’t care…or they will say you are lying…or they will spread around only half of the truth because they were only told half-truths. It’s complicated…it is more “complicated” than a Facebook relationship option could ever be. Now, I don’t know enough about sports to say this is absolutely true, but I don’t think you can study the psychology of two different sets of sports fans (fans of opposing teams, for instance) and come up with drastically different mindsets.

Here’s where politics gets a little trickier than sports, and where we have to try to understand people who are just as passionate about politics as we are–but who support the opposing ideology.

People who tend to lean and vote conservative, and people who tend to lean and vote liberal have been studied and there are actual differences between them, psychologically, temperamentally, and, perhaps most interesting (and slightly frightening) of all, maybe there are even (tiny) little differences in the actual structure of their brains where conservatives may have a more developed amygdala (and “are more sensitive to fear”) and liberals may have a more developed anterior cingulate cortex (and “have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts”). Of course, we have to be careful not to confuse correlation with causation…or vice versa.

Psychology Today says: “Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals—not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament. Psychologists John Jost of New York University, Dana Carney of Harvard, and Sam Gosling of the University of Texas have demonstrated that conservatives and liberals boast markedly different home and office decor. Liberals are messier than conservatives, their rooms have more clutter and more color, and they tend to have more travel documents, maps of other countries, and flags from around the world. Conservatives are neater, and their rooms are cleaner, better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional. Liberals have more books, and their books cover a greater variety of topics. And that’s just a start. Multiple studies find that liberals are more optimistic. Conservatives are more likely to be religious. Liberals are more likely to like classical music and jazz, conservatives, country music. Liberals are more likely to enjoy abstract art. Conservative men are more likely than liberal men to prefer conventional forms of entertainment like TV and talk radio. Liberal men like romantic comedies more than conservative men. Liberal women are more likely than conservative women to enjoy books, poetry, writing in a diary, acting, and playing musical instruments.”

The Nature Neuroscience Journal says: “In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a specific region of the brain’s cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives. The brain region in question helps people shift gears when their usual response would be inappropriate, supporting the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking. […] A review of that research published in 2003 found that conservatives tend to be more rigid and closed-minded, less tolerant of ambiguity and less open to new experiences. Some of the traits associated with conservatives in that review were decidedly unflattering, including fear, aggression and tolerance of inequality. That evoked outrage from conservative pundits. [… NYU psychologist David] Amodio said it would be a mistake to conclude that one political orientation was better than another. The tendency of conservatives to block distracting information could be a good thing depending on the situation, he said. Positions on specific issues are influenced by many factors, he noted.”

Slightly less fair (and definitely bound to annoy conservatives more) is the assertion that more intelligent people skew liberal politically. The counterpoint opinion (from a liberal, mind you) holds that “[t]he current American culture war, we have found, can be seen as arising from the fact that liberals try to create a morality relying almost exclusively on the Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity foundations; conservatives, especially religious conservatives, use all five foundations, including In-group loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity. […] An unapologetic liberal atheist, Haidt has a remarkable ability to describe opposing viewpoints without condescension or distortion. He forcefully expresses his own political opinions but understands how they are informed by his underlying moral orientation. In an era where deadlocked debates so often end with a dismissive “you just don’t get it,” he gets it.”

Haidt identified five foundational moral impulses. Succinctly defined, they are:

• Harm/care. It is wrong to hurt people; it is good to relieve suffering.

• Fairness/reciprocity. Justice and fairness are good; people have certain rights that need to be upheld in social interactions.

• In-group loyalty. People should be true to their group and be wary of threats from the outside. Allegiance, loyalty and patriotism are virtues; betrayal is bad.

• Authority/respect. People should respect social hierarchy; social order is necessary for human life.

• Purity/sanctity. The body and certain aspects of life are sacred. Cleanliness and health, as well as their derivatives of chastity and piety, are all good. Pollution, contamination and the associated character traits of lust and greed are all bad.

Haidt’s research reveals that liberals feel strongly about the first two dimensions — preventing harm and ensuring fairness — but often feel little, or even feel negatively, about the other three. Conservatives, on the other hand, are drawn to loyalty, authority and purity, which liberals tend to think of as backward or outdated. People on the right acknowledge the importance of harm prevention and fairness but not with quite the same energy or passion as those on the left.”

Dan McAdams at Northwestern University noted that “political conservatives operate out of a fear of chaos and absence of order while political liberals operate out of a fear of emptiness” and, when self-described devoutly religious people with either liberal or conservative political views were compared, it was their political views that had more impact on personality and their attitude about the world around them: “Political conservatives envision a world without God in which baser human impulses go unchecked, social institutions (marriage, government, family) fall apart and chaos ensues,” says McAdams. Liberals, on the other hand, envision a world without God as barren, lifeless, devoid of color and reasons to live. “Liberals see their faith as something that fills them up and, without it, they conjure up metaphors of emptiness, depletion and scarcity,” McAdams said. “While conservatives worry about societal collapse, liberals worry about a world without deep feelings and intense experiences.”

In a Seattle Times article on the same subject: “There are two cognitive styles — a liberal style and a conservative style,” said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni. […] Linda Skitka, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said it’s possible the liberals in the recent study appeared more flexible than the conservatives because the population was skewed. “We’re more likely to find extreme conservatives in the U.S. than extreme liberals,” she said.

The above quotes contain a lot of harsh medicine for both Liberals and Conservatives — and we need to be careful not to get confused when one study focuses on churchgoing religious people, one study focuses on structural differences in brains, and one study focuses on self-reported attitudes and moral beliefs, and so on — but the better we understand not only why the opposing political party “thinks” the way it does and accept that differences of opinion do not make other people automatically “bad” or “wrong” — and the better we understand our own personal gaps in understanding and our interpersonal and psychological strengths and weaknesses —  the more likely it is that we can find common ground with people with whom we have political differences of opinion.

Remember, however, that some people just don’t care about politics. Some people care, but only enough to pick a party and stick with it, and not to examine why. Some people care, but only enough to pick and choose which soundbites and talking points they agree with most at any given time. Some people care, but only care strongly about a particular social issue or policy (such as pro-lifers, or people who want to legalize pot, or people who are angry about Monsanto and GMOs, or people who advocate for minorities or the disadvantaged or disabled), and will therefore vote for whichever politician seems to be most in line with their views about their pet topic, policy, or human rights issue. For those of us who do care about politics, who have the time to read and research extensively, who have the ability to step back — even if just a little — and attempt to be as objective and fair as possible, and who vote, a lack of interest in politics (or a clinging to misinformation or a lack of information, or a lack of intellectual curiosity or passion) is just as crazy and hard to believe as it is for a die-hard baseball fan who suddenly comes to the uncomfortable realization that no one but an equally passionate few care about The Designated Hitter Rule. If you surround yourself with dozens of equally passionate people who care about all the same things that you care about, you are likely to wind up surprised when you are confronted — outside the embrace of like-minded friends — with people who don’t even know what the hell the deal with your pet issue might be, and don’t care. No, they don’t want to watch a video about it. No, they don’t want your brochures. No, they aren’t going to click your website links. Almost inconceivable!

Ask any liberal how shocked they were when Bush 43 won…twice. Within the liberal monkeysphere it was inconceivable that this might happen. (Here is a humorous but informative run-down of what “monkeysphere” means — “Those who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They’re sort of one-dimensional bit characters.” — from Cracked.) Outside the circle of (approximately 150 or so) like-minded liberal friends, things were a little more complicated. Liberals’ failure to look outside their personal monkeyspheres, then, is just as bad as conservatives who hunker down within the influence of FOX News and naught else and fail to do due diligence (like reading and informing themselves with sources other than Fox).

In short:

1. Not everyone even cares about politics.

2. Those that do care a little bit may pick a side (or a party) and just stop there, never questioning their choice.

3. Those that don’t stop there may not delve far afield from one source of information, which may have serious flaws (such as FOX News, which repeatedly gets criticized in studies for misinforming faithful viewers).

4. Those that draw from more than one source of information may refuse to read information that is known or suspected to have a political slant or bias opposite to that of their pet political party. (How many Liberals do you know who will willingly read a book by James Barton, Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity? How many Conservatives will read an Al Franken, Barbara Ehrenreich or Molly Ivins book?)

5. Those who are willing to read both sides’ points of view may still be filtering information through psychological / moral filters that are radically different from those of the opposing party.

6. It behooves us to expand our “monkeyspheres” to include other outside-of-personal-sphere monkeys, but it is equally difficult to do, given our limitations.

7. There will always be more people who care about, say, Shaquille O’ Neal than Bernie Sanders.

Thoughts?