Politics Archive

Thursday, November 10, 2016

'Coping' with Trump's Election

Test Anxiety, from http://cms.colum.edu/psychobabble/features/Back when I was in college, before a particularly stressful test or final, I used to help relieve some of the stress by asking myself, 'What's the worst that can happen?' Even if I bombed the test, it probably wouldn't have dropped my overall grade for the class below a C, and even if I bombed so hard that I failed the class as a whole, I'd still be able to retake the class. Hell, even if I bombed every test from then on out in college, I still had my health, and still lived in the USA in the modern day where I could be pretty sure I wouldn't starve to death like if I'd lived in some other time period or in a developing country. The exercise was always comforting because the consequences were never that bad.

Since Trump has won the election, I've briefly let myself go down that same kind of train of thought, and let me tell you, it's not reassuring. I've already written extensively about Trump's lack of qualifications and major faults. The worst that can happen due to his Presidency, with a Republican controlled House and Senate to rubber stamp his proposals, is very, very bad - trade wars, another great recession, pulling out of the Paris agreement and reversing positive action on climate change, a right-wing Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, nuclear proliferation, escalated military action leading to war, even nuclear war.

I know, things don't usually turn out as bad as our worst fears. But it's complacency to pretend that they never do. I don't even have to Godwin myself. Just think back about a decade to the Iraq War - a poorly justified war with a commander in chief who had no good overall strategy, which led to a civil war that caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq, and left a power vaccuum that gave rise to ISIS.

So, I've tried to quit wondering 'What's the worst that could happen under Trump', because it is terrifying. He's been elected, and there's nothing that can be done about it now, and nothing I can do personally to change his actions. So, I'm taking a more fatalistic approach. Trump may cause a disaster, but me staying awake at night worrying about it isn't going to change anything. Que serĂ¡, serĂ¡. At least, I'll keep trying to tell myself that until that knot in the pit of my stomach goes away and I can finally get a good night's sleep*.

*No, that's not poetic license. Just ask my wife who has to deal with the tossing and turning and the light from my iPhone at 3 am.

For anyone interested, you can read my more immediate reaction here, 2016's Depressing Election Results. I'll also repeat the link to my thorough analysis of Trump, Donald Trump Unfit to Be President - Vote for Hillary Clinton.

And as long as I'm still talking about the election, here are a few more good links that, if not perfect reflections of my thoughts on the matter, are still pretty close. I also included an excerpt from each one.

  • Bad Astronomy - A Dark Day "These are dark times, and for the first time in my life I seriously fear for the future of my country. Even when George W. Bush was elected I didn't feel this as deeply as I do now. Trump is a monster."
  • Pharyngula - What happened? "It's tempting to say we'll get through this and have a better day in 2020. The lesson I've learned is that we won't: that I lived through them doesn't mean that others didn't suffer and die. Reagan presided over the deaths by negligence of so many gay people; he laid a foundation of racism and contempt for government that we still have to deal with. Bush wrecked our foreign policy and killed thousands of our own and hundreds of thousands of others -- don't dismiss that by announcing that you survived his reign. Who knows what chaos Trump will sow, but people will be hurt. They will be hurt right now. Black people are being murdered by the police, immigrants are being oppressed right now, and we do not have the luxury of waiting the new regime out. It is not consolation to say that the pain will be selective and that the survivors will survive."
  • Dispatches from the Culture Wars - Welcome to Nov. 9th. We're Screwed. "But then again, we're all screwed. In addition to the feelings I listed above, I am also ashamed, deeply ashamed, that this country just elected a megalomaniacal, racist, misogynist, narcissistic, sociopathic sexual predator as its president. I never thought that would happen. I was certain that it wouldn't. I didn't think more than 40% of the country would vote for such a grotesque excuse for a human being. I was wrong. For once, I wasn't cynical enough about this country."
  • Love, Joy, Feminism - Tomorrow We Fight "Last night, my daughter lost her innocence. She had thought we lived in a world of possibilities, a world where a woman could be president and her young immigrant friends could share in the American Dream. Today that world has changed. Today she lives in a country that elected Donald Trump."
  • Daylight Atheism - The Morning After "The next few years are going to be an utter disaster. The Affordable Care Act and every other achievement of Obama's presidency will be wiped away. The Supreme Court will swing hard to the right for decades. The religious right will get everything they ever wanted. Climate change is never going to be stopped in time now. And all of that pales at the thought of a vindictive egomaniac with the nuclear launch codes."

Yesterday I said I'd give myself a day or two to mourn this tragedy. Today is day two, so tomorrow is back to the grind. I expect to write more, a LOT more, about Trump's presidency (holy f*ck does that sound horrible), but I'll try to keep future posts constructive, and not just lamenting the tragedy that I expect his presidency to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2016's Depressing Election Results

Sad Uncle SamToday is a sad, sad day in American history. As a people, we have elected by far the worst presidential candidate in the modern era, and quite probably in all of U.S. history. As I've written several times now, Donald Trump is a proto-fascist demagogue with no relevant skills for the position, a frightening lack of foreign policy knowledge, a poor track record in business, an abysmal history of scandal and alleged criminal conduct, a complete lack of regard for truth and honesty, and a demeanor wholly unbefitting of the oval office, on top of his bigotry against many minority groups. But he was elected fairly. John Wayne may have said, "I didn't vote for him but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job," and while I do sincerely hope that, I fully expect Trump to be very, very bad for this country. My principal hope is that he's not as disastrous as I fear he will be, or maybe that he actually will be convicted of one of his many alleged crimes and be impeached, though that would still leave us with Mike Pence, who is only a decent candidate in comparison to Trump.

And the Republicans maintained control of the House and Senate on top of winning the presidency. We will now have the deck stacked fully in favor of Republicans, at a time when the party has become increasingly extremist. This is not the responsible Republican party of Eisenhower or Reagan (even if they had some bad policies). This is the Tea Party Republican party of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Not only will they have near free reign in passing their legislation, Trump will be free to nominate extremely partisan right-wing Supreme Court justices. Let's hope that Scalia and Thomas are the only two justices he gets to replace, or we may see extremely important decisions like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges get turned back.

Statewide in Texas, things didn't turn out much better. Granted, as I wrote previously, I voted for Republicans in several races because they were the most qualified. But even in races where there were better qualified Democrats running in opposition, the Republicans won nearly every statewide race. Our State Board of Education, which has a history of Republican extremism, didn't pick up any moderates.

If there's a silver lining in any of this, it's that it looks like Clinton is going to win the popular vote. It may not make any difference in the election, but at least we can say that more Americans supported her than Trump.

Watching CNN last night, I saw Van Jones make some very moving comments on the nature of these results. Everybody should watch this video (or read about it on The Daily Beast). "People have talked about a miracle. I'm hearing about a nightmare." "How do I explain this to my children?"

Here's one more story that reflects the way I feel right now:
The New Yorker - An American Tragedy

I know some people are saying that America has survived worse before, but that's faint consolation for the people who will be affected by Trump's dangerous policies. We survived a Civil War, but hundreds of thousands of people died in the process, with countless more injured. We survived the Great Depression, but with over a decade worth of suffering. We survived George Bush, but with another economic recession, thousands of U.S. soldiers killed, and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Sure, the U.S. as a nation will survive Donald Trump, but how many people will suffer or die because of him?

I am disappointed, disheartened, appalled, and anxious for our nation's future. But what's done is done, and there's no changing the election results, now. I may give myself a day or two to mourn this tragedy, but I will then move on, and continue to fight the good fight and do what I think is best for the people of this nation. I will not let the bigotry and fear-mongering of Trump define who we are. We may not have demonstrated it yesterday, but we are better than that.

Uncle Sam Image Source: FairEconomy.org


BTW, here are two links to entries I wrote before the election, the first my warning about electing Trump, and the second a summary of & my endorsements for the Texas SBOE races:

Monday, November 7, 2016

XKCD Endorses Hillary Clinton

For the most part, XKCD steers clear of politics. Randal Monroe did endorse Obama on his blog back in 2008, but I can't recall ever having seen a political endorsement in the comic itself. Until now, that is (click to go to original):

I'm With Her

It seems like lots of people who normally stay out of politics are speaking up this election in an effort to keep Trump out of the office.

On an election related note, while I've been following 538 like probably everybody else, I've also started checking out some of the other election 'prophets', and 538 seems like an outlier this year. I hope so, but hope doesn't change reality. It'll be interesting to see how things play out tomorrow and which predictions were the most accurate. Here's a short summary of different sites and their odds on both the presidency and the Democrats taking control of the Senate.

Site Chance Clinton Wins Chance Dems Win Senate
538 69.4% 49.2%
PredictWise 89% 67%
Huffington Post 98.1% 66%
Princeton Election Consortium >99% 79%

I'll still be biting my nails until the official results start coming in.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Get Out and Vote, 2016

I Voted Today
Image Source: WPClipArt.com

This year, I didn't wait around for election Tuesday like normal. I went to the polls for early voting on Friday, the first time I've done so (and for the record, it's the longest line I've ever had to wait in to vote - 45 minutes vs. my normal 5 minutes). So, I've completed my civic duty, and all I can do now is wait to see how the election turns out. Well, I suppose I could go making tons of posts on Facebook, or making more entries on this blog, but I think I've already written as much as I can expect to be read.

If you follow this blog at all, you'll know I lean liberal. I had an entire series critiquing the latest Texas Republican Party Platform. But, I've always said that I evaluate each candidate independently, and have never voted a straight party ticket. This year was no exception. Granted, with as conservative as this area of Texas is, there were plenty of 'races' that weren't races at all - a Republican was the only candidate running. But even in races where there was competition (national congressman, railroad commissioner, state justices & judges, county commissioners, city mayor, and local school district trustees), I looked at each candidate individually, not just their party affiliation.

I actually surprised myself somewhat, voting for more Republicans than any other party - and not just because of all the uncontested races. Other than the president, in the races where there was competition and where I could determine party affiliation (it wasn't listed on the ballot for some of the local races, even if candidates themselves identified with a party), my votes went to 6 Republicans, 4 Democrats, 1 Green Party candidate, and 1 Libertarian. For one thing, many of the philosophical differences between the parties just don't play out at certain levels of government, especially considering that candidates aren't slaves to their party's platforms. And, like I've written many times before, relevant experience to a job is important. So, even if all other things being equal I might prefer a well-qualified Democrat to a well-qualified Republican, a well-qualified anybody is better than an unqualified candidate. Given the relative weakness of the Democratic party in Texas, they just didn't put up good candidates for all of the races.

I've written a few political entries leading up to this election. So, go check these out:

I really can't stress that last one enough. Donald Trump is manifestly and absolutely unfit to be President of the U.S. Even if you normally vote Republican, vote for somebody else for President besides Trump, preferably Clinton to give Trump the least chance of winning. And I'm not just saying that to try to sway you to vote Democratic because I'm a Democrat. I practice what I preach. Like I wrote above, I actually voted for more Republicans this election because in most races I could vote for, the Republicans were the more qualified candidates (and technically, I'm an independent, even if I do lean liberal). But when it comes to President, the choice is clear. Hillary Clinton may not be perfect, but she's experienced, competent, level-headed, and would do an admirable job as president. Donald Trump is a proto-fascist demagogue with no relevant skills for the position, a frightening lack of foreign policy knowledge, a poor track record in business, an abysmal history of scandal and alleged criminal conduct, a complete lack of regard for truth and honesty, and a demeanor wholly unbefitting of the oval office. He would be a disaster for the country.

Finally, here are some useful resources for voting in Texas:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Texas State Board of Education Election, 2016

TEA LogoAlthough the presidential race is receiving most of the attention for this year's election, there are other races, as well. Here in Texas, several seats on the State Board of Education are up for the vote. I've written about the SBOE many times. To quote myself from a few years ago, "An extreme right-wing faction has pulled some sleazy and dishonest stunts over the past few years, from last minute back door dealings that not all board members were privy to, to trying to inject creationism into science, to trying to change history standards to some alternative reality." While all members of that faction have been Republicans, not all Republicans have been members of that faction. So, make sure you check who's actually running in your district, and don't necessarily just vote for the party.

To see which SBOE district you're in (as well as other state districts), you can look it up on the Texas website, Who Represents Me?

While the right-wing faction has been reduced from its peak strength a few years ago, that hasn't stopped them from embroiling the SBOE in controversy. Here are two articles from this past September over the board's handling of science standards, Star Telegram - State Board of Education targets evolution and NCSE - Shenanigans in Texas, and another from two years ago over their approval of questionable history books, New York Times - Texas Approves Disputed History Texts for Schools.

The Texas Feedom Network and iVoterGuide both sent out surveys to all of the candidates (oddly, the iVoterGuide survey included questions about a whole host of issues unrelated to education). Only some of the candidates responded, and usually only to one survey or the other. You can find the candidates answers to those surveys, as well as the TFN's official endorsements, through the links below.

Here's a summary of who's running, along with my own personal endorsements. If I could find their personal websites, I linked through their name. If they're sitting board members, I marked their name with an asterisk (*), and also added a link to their official SBOE page.

District 1

D - Georgina Perez
G - Hugo Noyola Jr.

Endorsement: Georgina Perez, I guess

Neither candidate responded to TFN or iVoterGuide, so it's hard to see exactly where they stand on the issues. Perez at least has a website, showing at least that level of commitment to campaigning. She also has some decent endorsements, including the American Federation of Teachers.

District 5

D - Rebecca Bell-Metereau
R - Ken Mercer* (SBOE)
L - Ricardo Perkins

Endorsement: Rebecca Bell-Metereau

Per the TFN survey, Perkins disagreed with teaching students about the scientific consensus over anthropogenic global warming. He also supports school vouchers. The iVoterGuide question is a little poorly worded, but he seems to agree that biology textbooks should "teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution".

Mercer has been a part of the extreme right wing faction for years, now, doing plenty of damage to our children's education. Per the iVoterGuide survey, Mercer disagrees with comprehensive sex ed, thnks the 10 Commandments should be displayed in public schools, and thinks Intelligent Design should be taught in science classes.

District 6

D - R. Dakota Carter
R - Donna Bahorich* (SBOE)
L - Whitney Bilyeu
G - Laura Palmer

Endorsement: R. Dakota Carter

Bahorich, despite being on the SBOE, and in conflict with the Texas Constitution, doesn't believe "It is the government's responsibility to be sure children are properly educated." She's also opposed to comprehensive sex ed, opposed to properly teaching evolution and wants to see Intelligent Design taught along with it, and wants to see the 10 Commandments should be displayed in public schools. She was also part of the recent conflict over AP History standards.

Neither Bilyeu nor Palmer responded to either the TFN or iVoterGuide surveys.

District 8

R - Barbara Cargill* (SBOE)

Endorsement: Write-in

Cargill is part of the extreme right wing faction that has caused so much trouble in the past, including trying to put creationists on the panel to review biology standards.

District 9

D - Amanda M. Rudolph
R - Keven M. Ellis
L - Anastasia Wilford

Endorsement: Amanda M. Rudolph

Per the TFN survey, Ellis is opposed to teaching the separation of church and state, is opposed to teaching the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming, and wouldn't take a position on teaching creationism and Intelligent Design in science class.

Wilford didn't respond to either the TFN or iVoterGuide surveys.

District 10

D - Judy Jennings
R - Tom Maynard* (SBOE)

Endorsement: Judy Jennings

Maynard is opposed to comprehensive sex ed, was neutral on whether biology textbooks should "teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution", believed that Intelligent Design should be taught, and thought the 10 Commandments should be displayed in public schools. However, unlike most of the Republicans running, he at least thinks it's the government's responsibility to ensure that children are properly educated.

District 14

R - Sue Melton-Malone* (SBOE)

Endorsement: Sue Melton-Malone

Melton-Malone didn't respond to either the TFN or iVoterGuide surveys, but she has been a support of sound science education in the past (NCSE - Texas Creationists Beware: The Posse's Comin').

District 15

R - Marty Rowley* (SBOE)

Endorsement: Write-in

Rowley is against comprehensive sex-ed, is in favor of biology textbooks teaching "both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution", is in favor of teaching intelligent design, and thinks the 10 Commandments should be displayed in public schools.

I'll add that it's especially frustrating to me that no one is running against Rowley, since he represents my district.

Previous SBOE Entries:


Selling Out