...a bit low, actually

Dave Pell putting some context on Trump's approval rating:

During the campaign, Donald Trump marveled at the loyalty of his most ardent supporters.

My people are so smart, and you know what else they say about my people, the polls? They say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters...

Actually, that’s not quite true.

If Trump stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot somebody, I’m confident he’d see his current approval level of 37% free-fall to about a 36%.

Trump could jerk off onto the constitution while taking a dump on the bible and the GOP still wouldn’t speak out against him. But, his approval rating would almost certainly plummet from 36% to around 35.2%. (I doubt the dip would last more than a couple newscycles.)

World leaders hold meetings with his daughter. You can’t make this stuff up.

Trump could lie constantly, call journalists the enemy of the American people, and introduce a budget that amounts to a full frontal assault on precisely the population of American voters who put him in the Oval Office, and he would still maintain a 37% approval rating. How do we know that? Because it’s all happened.

I'm reading that in the context of The Crazification Factor and pondering my conservative acquaintances who suddenly don't care about Russian spies or insecure government agencies or emails:

John: Hey, Bush is now at 37% approval. I feel much less like Kevin McCarthy screaming in traffic. But I wonder what his base is --

Tyrone: 27%.

John: ... you said that immmediately, and with some authority.

Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That's crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?

Tyrone: Hadn't thought about it. Let's split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification -- either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.

John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?

Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?

John: ... a bit low, actually.

End of an Era

I awoke this morning and put on an old mechanical watch I hadn't worn in days. It had run down, so I needed to reset the calendar. That was how I realized that today was January 19th, 2017. The last day.

It felt like the last day, too, though I fought that. Today my professional life was filled with people discovering broken things that nobody knew how to fix. And I resisted it, I tried not to lapse into lazy cynicism and confirmation bias, but I could not help but think it a metaphor for what is to come.

The man who is to come is quite a piece of work. He is loud and brutish and vindictive. He is possessed of that particularly deadly strain of ignorance and intellectual laziness that is convinced of its own brilliance. He seems eager to sow conflict, a foie gras goose gavaged with hot takes and contempt, then pointed at the country and squeezed like a bagpipe. It is good that he does not drink, because he is the clearest, most shining example of alcoholic psychology run amok that I have ever witnessed. I am, in short, afraid of him.

The man who is leaving, he is also a piece of work. He is studied and careful. He listens. He is a scholar, but he is not content to cloister himself off with books. He made a life out of helping, and it appears he's just getting started.

Don't get me wrong, he's pissed me off plenty. He is not everything I could want in a leader. He has broken my heart a time or two.

But he did the job well. He did it with dignity and class and grace. He continued to reach across the aisle no matter how many times the Party of No slapped his hand away, no matter how many of us counseled him to stop what proved to be a mostly futile gesture. Futile, maybe, but he left the country better than he found it, and it is by their fruits that you shall know them.

People have tried to dismiss my current slurry of dread and sorrow as a loser's sour grapes. These people do not grasp that I am a Southern Liberal. Losing elections is common and familiar to me. It is practically my god damned raison d'être. So, no. This is different.

So I'm hammering this out before I end a very long day. I am pondering a very long four years in which a lot of people I love are going to get hurt while forty percent of my country cheers. This leaves me sad and angry a lot of the time.

I am told that that's a glimmer of what it's like to be black or gay or trans or Muslim in this country, but I don't dare believe it. I lose nothing tomorrow.

I am tempted to put a rather shiny bow of optimism on this, end with something hopeful about following the example of the one who is leaving. But I know that tomorrow I will likely not muster more than grim determination. I may snap at my coworkers or family. I will waste at least an hour's worth of minutes wondering what the first international incident will be (I'm not counting the two he's already managed).

But the children have school. I have work. I am needed. There are things to be done that I can control, in some small measure.

One of those things: I am pointing to the loud ones and asking my children, do you hear them? Do you hear God in that racket? Do you hear love? And they tell me no, and they appear to mean it. There's at least something to that.

This weekend we march.

Cashing in my serenity

Let's start here.

We voted for him, white America.

The Klan is on the march. People are tagging buildings with swastikas. Nonwhite children are being bullied. Churches are being desecrated.

It's been four days.

Those people count you as allies. Are you? Are we?

Those of us who elected him spoke of Christ when they did so, but that America does not know Christ. It knows power. It is supporting centuries of hate to preserve what it believes it has a divine right to.

That America declared its hatred for my non-white friends, my women friends, my gay friends and bi friends and trans friends. It mocked my disabled friends. It pointed guns at my black friends and Muslim friends. Some of it pointed guns at our own children, and the rest shuffled their feet around a bit and looked down at their shoes and shrugged.

That America turned Christ's name into a bumper sticker. It turned the implement of his torture and murder into a rallying symbol for more torture and murder. It turned a savior into an inspiration-porn mascot for its Sunday stage shows.

It sacralized emotional moments wrought by painstakingly-orchestrated "worship experiences" and ignored the cries of the doomed. It stood on the backs of the disenfranchised and sang songs of praise for how it had been blessed.

In short, it built a nation and a church on white cishet supremacy and misogyny. Those things are in its DNA. I knew it was there and I knew it was bad, but I didn't comprehend its full scale and enormity until this year.

This is not of Christ. He warned us about power and refused it for himself. He told us to take up our crosses and follow him. We invented theological and ideological purity tests instead.

I am talking to you now, white America. Not to those we've hurt with our push-button vengeance-at-a-distance. If they are reading this, undoubtedly they feel like I've wandered into a funeral wearing Poirot cosplay and announcing that zhere is a DEAD person een zees room.

I'm talking to you because you need to hear it from someone who looks and sounds like you, because we are dogshit at listening to them. I include myself in that shame.

So I figure the least I can do to make it up to them is to join them in their suffering and fear, and try to figure out how to lend my advantages to them. I hope you will too.

The Serenity Prayer is inaccurately named. It is also a prayer for the wisdom to know when to set your serenity aside so that you may help bear others' burdens. A plea for the courage to respond to that call.

I haven't done enough. And I'm not sure what I'm going to do now, but I'm starting by plugging in where I can. I'm cashing in my serenity. Because this year was a master class in demonstrating how little of it people have who do not look like me.

The America that raised me told me that it was blue oxen and baseball. The other America told me of firehoses and money and murder. I was scared of their stories, but I am tired of my delusions.

I do not know what to do with this America. Pledge allegiance? Hardly.

But I do know this: My despair is becoming resentment, and that resentment will become fuel, and if my brothers and sisters do not live in the America I was told about, then I will try to help them build it.

With or without you, I and my wife and children will help them build it. If they will have us.

I hope we do it with you, white America. Your country needs you. Come help me figure out how to help.

If you live in central Arkansas and are afraid, @ me on Twitter and I'll send you my contact information. I'll do what I can.