A Letter to My Dog, Half Pint

This last year may have been the worst one of my life, but at least I've got the world's two greatest dogs by my side to help me stagger into 2018. Today's post features a letter to Half Pint. Benjamin will be getting a letter later this week--he'd never let me hear the end of it, otherwise. Also, this posts features a lot of short video clips of Half Pint being silly. Since I apparently can't do anything right these days, they are exclusively shot in vertical mode. Please accept my apologies (and cut me some friggin' slack).

7 Good Things For Everyone (Yes, Everyone) About a Trump Presidency

No, this is not another straight white guy telling you that a Trump presidency won’t affect you. Women, people of color, and the LGQBT have legitimate reasons to be terrified about the what our country will be like during the next few years.

But believe it or not, there are a few things about a Trump presidency that will benefit everyone.

1. No ‘Going Rogue’ Remnant

Although I voted for Barrack Obama in 2008, I still thought that John McCain was a pretty solid guy. In the years to come, however, I began to despise him. Not just for becoming a full-fledged obstructionist (bad) or thinking that gay people were not capable of effectively serving in our military (worse), but because of this:

Sarah Palin, America’s walking bowl of vinegar-soaked word salad, was spawned from the ashes of McCain’s failed (yet otherwise dignified) 2008 presidential campaign. Her time as our country’s potential vice president was rife with pitfalls and confusion, which included:

- Saying that she had foreign policy experience because Russia could be seen from certain parts of Alaska.

- Refusing to name any specific news sources when Katie Couric asked what newspapers and magazines she read.

But it wasn’t until she quit her job as Alaska’s governor and attempted to become a political pundit/brand that things really went off the rails. Freed from the shackles of a campaign cycle, Palin abandoned whatever remained of her word-to-mouth filter and went full bore stupid.

A few highlights:

- Claimed that Paul Revere was “ringing those bells” to warn the British (?) that they couldn’t take the Americans’ guns (and steadfastly refused to admit that her version of history was grossly inaccurate).

- Invented new (and painfully dumb) words.

- Morphed into a full blown a parody of herself by telling immigrants to the United States that they should “speak American.”

It got so bad that she was actually fired from Fox News for being too stupid, which is like being kicked off a rugby team for being too aggressive.

But despite Palin’s clear lack of mental fitness, she still managed to become a key member/instigator of the Tea Party, an ultraconservative political movement which aggravated a large portion of humanity even most Republicans.

Part of what allowed a person like her (and others listed below) to ride the Tea Party to prominence was their gospel of false disenfranchisement. What Palin and her ilk lacked in smarts, they made up for in sound and fury. They were able to get people to protest tax increases after Obama cut middle/low income taxes to their lowest level in years. Palin herself was one of the “masterminds” behind making people believe that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) would include “Death Panels,” which would decide if seniors and critically disabled people were worth receiving medical care.

Most egregious, however, was their 8-year long scream that the country’s economy was spiraling down the toilet as it was actually grew at a consistent (if unremarkable) rate. Considering the near apocalyptic state our economy was when Obama took over for Bush, I'd say should have qualified as a clear win.

But now that the Republicans control the White House and both houses, the economy should be even better, right? I mean, there’s absolutely no way this turns out like a dog finally catching the car its been chasing down the street for eight years only to get rolled up under the wheels.

It’s all fun and games being the underdog until you’re handed every single tool you need to succeed. Then it’s time to put up or shut up. Add in the fact that Trump is getting a significantly better starting point than Obama did in 2008, and Republicans have a whole lot of “putting up” to do. 8 year’s worth, in fact.

And whether they succeed (unlikely) or not (heh), people like Palin—who’ve been telling us that this very scenario would lead to OMG YOU GUYS THE GREATEST ECONOMY EVAR—don’t have anything to protest anymore…or for the next two years, at least.

2. Alex Jones’ Head Might Explode

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been predicting the imminent end of civilization since 1996. More specifically, he claims that the world’s political and economic elite will reduce the global population by approximately 80% while they continue to live forever via advanced technology and/or dark magic.

As you might have noticed, their plan doesn’t seem to be going very well.

Jones also has a penchant for claiming that everything is a conspiracy, from the Sandy Hook Massacre (never happened) to Justin Beiber (wish it never happened). Don’t believe me about The Beibes? Watch below—and make sure your sound isn’t turned up too high.

He can even create conspiracies out of things you didn’t think were possible—like his claim that the United States is dumping Prozac in our drinking water, which is making shrimp suicidal and causing fish and frogs to turn gay.

Lest you think he’s not taken seriously by anyone, Jones’ concerns about the Department of Homeland stockpiling ammunition inspired Congressional action to prevent it. He was also one of the main proponents behind making people believe that a recent large military training operation (Jade Helm 15) was actually a government takeover of Texas…including the actual governor of Texas.

"I don't care who this 'Marshal Law' fella is, 
he's not getting anywhere near my guns or my freedom!"

But to Jones’ credit, he has remained steadfastly consistent in his condemnation of the United States presidency. Whether it was a Democrat or Republican occupying the office, Jones fervently declared them to be a part of the “New World Order” that would soon enslave and/or kill us all. He has supported presidential candidates before, but always ones who were on the fringe and not in any way close to the popular vote.

When Jones hitched his wagon to Trump, he probably thought (like the rest of us) that The Donald had no shot at the White House. Trump’s lack of political experience, brash nature, and constant criticism from the “establishment” made him the perfect spoiler candidate. Add in the fact that he was running against Hillary Clinton—who is arguably the ultimate Washington insider—and Jones probably got so excited that he didn’t even need the boner pills and vitality juice he sells on his website. Hillary would win, Trump would claim it was rigged, and he would have four years of solid shadow government conspiracy material to pull out of his ass.

But to the surprise of almost everyone—including Trump himself—The Donald won. Now Jones finds himself in the precarious position of supporting a man who occupies a position he has consistently called a puppet of the New World Order. How can Jones claim to be fighting the good fight against the Illuminati when he unwittingly gave one of its new figureheads his full-throated support?

Paradox shut down initiated...

And in case you think Jones might admit his "mistake" and turn on Trump, that’s not happening. He never apologizes for any of his growing list of failed predictions. Ever. The closest he ever came was telling Eddie Bravo he was “just joking” when he tried to live broadcast the end of the world during Y2K.

Yep. Poor Mr. Jones might lose all his tinfoil hat street cred, forcing him to close up shop and slink back to his $1 million gated community home.

3. Sean Hannity & Rush Limbaugh 
Will Have Nothing To Talk About.

Remember that beautiful silence we got from Michael Moore after Obama was elected? Oh sure, he emerged from his luxurious mansion occasionally to decry the evils of capitalism. But for the most part, both liberals and conservatives were free from having to hear his stream of sanctimonious half-truths and outright lies.

Unfortunately, he’s probably going to be around a lot more now, especially after predicting Trump’s win). But for two of his equally idiotic conservative counterparts, the political cycle of silence has finally come.

They’ll likely fight it for as long as they can, but without the opposite party in power, the pair will see a significant decrease in both audience and media attention.

Or maybe they’ll both do what Glenn Beck did and admit it’s all just an act. Probably not, but we can dream.

4. A Renewed Emphasis on Critical Thinking

As a liberal trying to reconcile Trump’s ascent to the presidency, it’s easy to take an elitist stance and declare that his supporters are stupid. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Remember the Sarah Palin-led Tea Party we talked about? There’s a decent amount of evidence that many Tea Party members are pretty well educated. And even though Trump was ferociously backed by his beloved uneducated supporters, he got a substantial amount of votes from (white) college educated voters

Also, I’m sure all of us have at least one anecdote about screaming at a smart acquaintance, friend, or family member for supporting suchan objectively terrible candidate. For me, that person was Brett J. Talley, one of my favorite authors. He’s also a Harvard Law graduate and a hell of a lot smarter than I am. So when Trump tried to deny that he said global warming was a myth created by China, I decided to ask Mr. Talley what he thought.

"...probably thought it sounded good when he said it?" Seriously?

And lest you think this cognitive blind spot is limited to conservatives, here’s another personal anecdote from the other side of the political aisle.

Last year, one of the smartest and most accomplished educators I know—who is also an unabashed Hillary supporter—challenged people to provide him with any documented evidence that Clinton was dishonest. Despite my detest for Trump, I couldn’t help but recall Clinton’s infamous (and fake) Bosnian plane landing story, which she told during the 2008 campaign until it was exposed as an outright lie.

My friend was taken aback at first. Then he collected himself and claimed that this act of blatant dishonesty was “no big deal” because it was “just a tall tale.” He ended his justification by saying “even my own grandmother does that sometimes.”

Both of these people would wipe the floor with me in an IQ test. The one place I may have them beat, however, is the ability to fight my gut when evidence is presented for something that runs contrary to my own personal views/bias. It is a learned skill, which started with my own father and was carried on by various teachers and mentors.

I often joke that I used to be a conservative until I started reading more, but the reality is that my shift toward the left began when I was asked to examine my conservative viewpoints from every possible angle. I eventually learned that many of the beliefs I held were based on nothing but rhetoric and absorbing the same ideas as the majority of people around me. It was a hard lesson, but it opened my eyes to how it important it was to put logic before politics.

Want to see it in action? Here are a couple examples you can try out on your own that never fail to give even my smartest conservative friends pause:

- Next time someone rants about how we need to drug test welfare recipients, ask if they believe that executives at corporations receiving government bailouts should be drug tested, as well. If/when they dismissively say “sure, them too,” ask why they aren’t posting memes or rants about it, as well…especially since drug testing welfare recipients has proven to be a waste of tax dollars.

- Next time someone says they are pro-life, ask them this series of questions:

1.) Do you believe abortion is murder?

2.) If so, then what have you done to stop thousands of murders happening in your own state, town, or county? (Besides making Facebook posts and voting for prolife politicians who don’t do anything about it).

3.) If you refuse to try and stop abortions from happening because “it’s the law,” doesn’t that make you just as bad as Germans in the 1930’s who saw what was happening to the Jews—and didn’t act for the same reason)?

4.) Look up the distance to the nearest clinic that provides abortions. Then ask your prolife friend if government agents were executing unwanted (and fully born) children at this proximity, would you still be able to live your life the way you are now—and continue to do nothing?

5.) If so, then what is the difference?

You may not change many minds, but you will get them thinking beyond their gut level entrenched viewpoints.

It’s also on us to teach our children to think critically. Notice that I didn’t say “indoctrinate.” Teaching kids to examine and process information into their own ideas means that inevitably, they won’t agree with you on some things—and that’s good. 

Would you rather they inform themselves based on entrenched and repeated mantras? Then have them watch Fox News. Would you rather have change their ideals and principals based on whatever they feel that moment? The have them watch any other media outlet.

But if we want our children to form ideas based on evidence and genuine beliefs, then lets teach them to sift through the noise on both sides of the political spectrum. I think that one generation may already be starting to do that….

5. Millennials Finally Get Some Respect

Millennials are mercilessly gaslighted by every generation behind them, including mine. While some of the criticism may be warranted, it’s usually very unfair. For starters, the generations criticizing them are the same ones who:

- Lost their damn minds over white and black people having to share a school or even a water fountain together.
- Polluted the environment so much that we’re past the point of no return on climate change.
- Turned the American college/university system into a profit center and debt generator.
- Ignored A.I.D.S until it became an epidemic.
- Obliterated the economy and housing market.
- Invented capri pants.
- Put Trump in the Oval Office.

You know who didn’t vote for Trump? Millenials.

While many from my generation believe a man who consistently stiffs his contractors and routinely fails at running businesses can improve the economy, they saw through the rhetoric.

Still think millennials are stupid and coddled? Then someone please explain how Newt Gingrich can straight up admit that Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for the wall was only a campaign tactic—and my parent’s generation just shrugs their shoulders.

Or how about my grandparent’s generation, who are currently pleading for everyone to unite now that Trump is the president when they spent 8 years refusing to except Obama was even a U.S. citizen.

While us old folks continue to allow climate change deniers a voice, pretend the gender wage gap doesn't exist, and ignore institutional racism, millennials aren’t buying it. All the jokes about participation trophies ring hollow when many of us can’t be bothered to participate in making the world a better place beyond offering “thoughts and prayers” in our Facebook statuses.

It’s also worth noting that millennials are not as liberal as you might think. Plenty of my former students (who are now adults and make me feel super old) have embraced core conservative values while still being able to call a spade a spade.

Maybe it’s because they grew up with the internet and know their way around the Google machine—or maybe they’re smart enough to see that filling your presidential cabinet with Washington insiders is the exact opposite of “draining the swamp.”

But whatever the case, they seem to have a much better grasp of that whole “critical thinking” thing than a lot of us do.

6. Passive Support Becomes Active Work

As a straight white dude with a steady income, it's unlikely that I'll experience any significant fallout from Trump’s presidency—unless a world leader insults him on Twitter and triggers a nuclear war. But aside from that terrifyingly real possibility, I'll be fine. I might even get a lower tax bill.

Everyone else, though? They’re terrified, and rightfully so. Even if you believe that Trump won’t do anything extreme, put on your empathy pants for a minute and imagine the following:

- Being a woman in a country being led by a man who said “Women…you have to treat them like shit.”

- Being a Muslim in a country led by a man who believes your religious beliefs should require you to be registered like a criminal.

- Being a black person or any person of color in a country led by a man who was endorsed by the KKK, trumpets endorsements from white supremacists, and was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black people.

- Being a gay or trans person in a country where the Vice President believes that how you are is a mental illness that the government should invest in trying to cure.

It’s easy for straight white guys like me to think that Trump won’t actually do these things—or to offer “thoughts and prayers” that his emboldened supporters will eventually calm down. But for the people listed above, the potential for violence and violation is not an abstract concept—it’s their lives. Lives that were already filled with daily struggles both big and small that are now about to become at best more stressful and potentially/likely a lot more dangerous.

Look, I’m not one of those “check your privilege” types, but this is Basic Human Empathy 101. Imagine going from having a black president to a white president who allegedly said to one of his closest advisors that blacks are inherently lazy. Or being a gay person who went from having your right to be married FINALLY recognized to having a Vice President who believes you are a walking abomination.

Ask a Muslim how often they’ve had people call them a terrorist or assume they hated America simply because of the way they chose to worship. Then ask if that type of behavior has increased or decreased since Trump won the election.

Do you know a woman who has ever been a victim of sexual assault? Then (very carefully) ask what she thinks about having a president who was RECORDED bragging about his ability to grab a woman “by the pussy” whether she wanted it or not.

These are our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and students—and they are under attack. Even if you don’t believe the reports about a surge in hate crimes since the election, it takes a lot of damn nerve to tell people they shouldn’t worry about their rights being stripped away until those in power go through with their pledges to do it.

And chances are that you will see people any one of these groups being harassed verbally or physically. Don’t be a bystander. Don’t make an empty promise to “vote for a better world” in two years. Step in and stand up. Right here. Right now.

And speaking of “two years,” start doing your research, become an informed voter, and show up to the midterm elections for once so you can make a difference…and for the love all that is good and holy, please stop writing in Harambe.

7. Ted Cruz Will Finally Stand Trial for the Zodiac Killings

Just kidding.

...or am I?

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