Biden is going to lose and the DNC is a pack of cowards, greedy consultants, and morons. However…

I’ve sat down and spent several early-early morning brain cycles reading the platform stuff on Biden’s website. Here’s the conclusion:

It’s not horrible.

Is it great? No. Are the plans-as-presented a solid agenda anyway? Yes. Are they likely what Biden himself believes, in his old, bigoted, fiscally and socially conservative heart? Damned Unlikely. Are they better than Trump?

Light years.

Details follow.

His Violence Against Women plan is lengthy, detailed, and pays specific attention to violence against Native, lesbian and bisexual, low-income, disabled, rural, transgender (especially trans women of color) immigrant, domestic abuse victims, and other vulnerable women. He calls for replacing and expanding Obama-era policies and funding for campus sexual assault programs that DeVos trashed, and for providing money for culturally specific services that are sensitive to the diverse backgrounds of survivors. He also notes that sexual assault, while it predominantly affects women and girls, needs to be taken seriously and addressed for people of all gender identities .

His gun safety plan lays out several steps for banning assault weapons, taking existing weapons from offenders, closing gun purchase background check and other legal loopholes, addressing the intersection between domestic violence and weapons ownership, and reducing or eliminating weapons and ammunition stockpiling.

His plan for tackling climate change and creating green jobs is lengthy. It makes the connection between economic, environmental, and racial justice (so you know someone else put it together, but whatever). He pledges to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement and push for stronger climate standards, make climate change a central part of trade, international, and justice goals, demand a worldwide ban on fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks (!!!) and if the Green New Deal is passed, to sign it, as well as for the U.S. to achieve 100% clean energy and zero percent net emissions by 2050.

His healthcare plan is… eh. Decent. It offers an immediate public option for all Americans regardless of private, employer, or no coverage, and generous new tax credits to put toward the cost of coverage. It strongly protects abortion rights and federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as well as rescinding the “gag rule” that prevents U.S. federal aid money from being used to provide or even talk about abortions in NGOs abroad. It attacks generic and drug price gouging. It calls for doubling the capital gains tax on the super-wealthy (from 20% to 39.5% paid on capital gains by anyone making over $1 million) to help fund healthcare reform. He also has a separate plan on the opioid crisis, and on older Americans and retirement, including the protection and re-funding of Medicare and Social Security.

His immigration plan… god this is going to be a fucking nightmare. It’s long and (rightly) spends a lot of time apologizing for… you know… being the VP in the administration that first started caging fucking kids. The policy of children in cages, indefinite detention, the metered asylum system, and the Muslim Ban are gone on day one. (Because people outside the latino community finally noticed it was happening once it was Trump doing it.) In this and his LGBTQ plan, he notes the vulnerability of LGBTQ refugees, including LGBTQ refugees of color. He proposes streamlining of visa applications and prioritizing the immediate reunification of families. It also specifically states that ICE and CBP agents will be held directly accountable for inhumane treatment.

Speaking of which, the LGBTQ plan is reasonably comprehensive. It pays attention to multiple intersectional issues, down to the high rates of incarceration among trans people of color. (He also notes the rates of violence against trans women of color particularly.) Calls for a complete ban on conversion therapy and the discrimination against HIV-status individuals, as well as removing the ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. Remove the transgender military ban immediately. Calls for funding for mental health and suicide prevention among LGBTQ populations.

There’s a worker’s empowerment section that calls for raising the federal minimum wage to $15, as well as indexing this to median hourly wages to ensure that working-class and middle-class wages grow closer to parity, and implementing strong legal protections for unions. He expresses support for striking workers and to empower the National Labor Relations Board in workplace advocacy. Farmworkers, domestic workers, gig economy workers, and other non-traditional labor groups are included in this. He wants to restore all Obama-Biden policies related to workplace safety and regulation, because he might be a disappointing idiot, but he’s not actively evil.

“Restore American dignity and leadership in the world” (ha) by immediately investing in election security and reform, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, immediately restoring White House press briefings and other Trump refusals of information (not holding my breath on that one), tackling criminal justice reform and systematic racial discrimination (suuuuure), calling for campaign finance reform, and basically blowing up all the stupid things the Trump administration does on a daily basis. It also calls for an end to all ongoing wars in the Middle East (as if that will do fuck-all), restoring the Iran nuclear deal, and new arms control treaties with Russia, among general repairing of international alliances.

The plans for K-12 education and post-high school education call for expanded funding across all levels of 2-year, 4-year, and other educational options. There will be no student loan payments for anyone making under $25,000 a year; everyone else will pay a capped amount and be completely forgiven after a set period. Public servants qualify for up to $50,000 in loan forgiveness. This is not total loan forgiveness for everyone, which is obviously important many, but it’s acceptable as a start. Additionally, his wife is a teacher and has a proven track record of calling for education investment and supporting public school funding.

His plan for housing addresses the needs of formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ, veteran, low-income, sexual assault survivor, black and Hispanic, and other vulnerable populations at risk of losing housing . It calls for a tax on companies and corporations with in excess of $50 billion in assets to fund comprehensive new housing initiatives, including $100 billion in accessible and low-income housing development. It includes extensive investment in public transportation and a high-speed rail system. This ties into his plan to repair infrastructure and invest in new technologies across the country.

His plan for criminal justice reform calls for the end of mass incarceration, the decriminalization of marijuana (again, not holding my breath), the automatic expunging of all cannabis convictions, and an end on jail sentences for drug use. It highlights systematic institutional racism and the impact on black and brown people particularly. It calls for an end on all profiteering and private prisons. It focuses on reintegrating offenders into society and funding the needs of people released from prison. It proposes to “expand and use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices.” It broadens funding for social services and other programs for people who are otherwise placed into the prison pipeline.

This is the guy who came up, ON HIS OWN, with the 10:1 ratio on crack vs. cocaine sentencing guidelines, so that whole drug reform thing looks like a truckload of horseshit to me, but whatever. Get shit in writing.

I do not like Joe Biden; he was not ANY of my choices during the primaries. However:

  • He has at the least a team of advisors who are aware of the political climate, and is willing to both restore Obama-era standards (where they aren’t shit) or improve on them. Obviously, he’s basically a pile of rats and lies in a skin suit, but this is a solid Democratic platform with awareness of the progressive wing of the party.
  • If progressive legislation is passed in the House and Senate, he will (probably) sign it, including the Green New Deal.
  • He represents a clear and definite improvement over Donald Trump, and I’m willing to hold my nose and simply vote for “less harm.”
  • His platform policies are better than I was expecting. It has made me feel at least slightly better about voting for him.
  • Speaking as someone who doesn’t like Biden and believes he’s been on the wrong side of every major legislation in his personal history, that’s my consensus: the platform he’s put out broadly aligns with values I care about.

(Still think he’s going to fucking lose, don’t get me wrong. I’m already mentally preparing for four more years of the Orange Fucktrumpet, and a building progressive/left rage before the levy finally breaks, but whatever. Vote for Biden, and fight for the congressional, state, and local representatives who matter to you, because that’s where the change actually happens.)

The Spirit of the Thing

“Okay I give up…”

“AHH!”

“Seriously WHAT is your deal?”

“A ghost! Jesus fucking -”

“Oh NOW you notice there’s a ghost? Pff.”

“I don’t – Sorry… what?”

“I’ve been haunting you for months, fucko.”

“… really no need to be rude.”

“Sorry.”

“We just met, is all…”

“Yes. Sorry. It’s just been…”

“… hardly know what I’ve done, but I really don’t think it warrants…”

“…really frustrat- you don’t know what you’ve done?”

“… did you say you’ve been haunting me?”

“YES. And you’ve ignored. All of it.”

“I haven’t.”

“No one’s that good an actor.”

“I’m not saying that, I’m saying I haven’t noticed a haunting.”

“… You…”

“No offense.”

“You didn’t notice?”

“… I don’t think so?”

” I’ve been randomly shifting furniture around your rooms for the last three months!”

“… You have.”

“Yes!”

“That was you.”

“Yes!”

“Huh…”

“Who did you think it was?”

“… Me?”

“WHY WOULD – Sorry…”

“Salright.”

“Do you… Remember… Moving any furniture?”

“Ha. That’s funny. No.”

“Then -”

“I just assumed I did it when I wasn’t paying attention.”

“… I-I can’t even process that.”

“Same.”

“Okay forget the furniture for now. What about the lights?”

“Lights?”

“I turn on every light in the house before you get home from work and all I get in response is it kind of tired sigh.”

“That was you?”

“I think we’ve established that.”

“I thought I just left them all on my the way out the door.”

“You NEVER do that.”

“Really? That’s a relief.”

“HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THIS.”

“Dude I’ve got ADHD. All this is just… How my life works.”

“You’re telling me I cover every flat surface in the kitchen with half full glasses of water, and open every window in the house, and you figured it was something you did and forgot about?”

“I mean… Probably?”

Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant (named Garnet)

Something “interesting” about the Avatar series, both of them, is that people get grumpy with Korra for having a little bit of representation that didn’t go far enough, early enough, while Last Airbender has NO representation and everybody’s okay with that.

It’s like catching heat for getting a D in trig while your sibling didn’t even take trig (and no one had the guts to even TRY trig when they were in school) but they’re still everyone’s favorite kid.

Or… Steven Universe. A in trig. A+ maybe. People complain their freshman year math wasn’t great. “Why did they take so long to take trig? Why didn’t they take it when they were freshmen? Why didn’t they take it when they were in junior high?!?”

Or they point out the B in art. Or the C in the Life Skills they took senior year to finish out the last semester after they already had enough credits to graduate.

“They could have been MORE.”

Yeah. But instead they were brave enough to be first.

If another show goes further, later, consider the possibility it’s because these other shows moved the starting line.

Balanced Scales

“Ready to go?”

“Two seconds. Need to feel Amalia.”

My wife nodded, checking her phone while I rooted in the fridge.

“We’re low on greens and fungus.”

She swiped the screen. “Those sliced toadstools? I can put it on the list.”

“And mustard greens.” I checked the tupperware next to the reptile enclosure. “We’re good on grubs, which is great since I’m not going to be anywhere near the store this week.” I fished the blind, scaly, larval worms out of the grainy bedding in the feed container, then tossed them into the enclosure for Amalia to snatch up. Which she did, energetically. It always impressed me how she generated such loud smacking sounds with no lips.

My wife came over, dividing her attention between the shopping list on her phone and what she called our ‘alleged pet.’

“You’re impressive, Amalia,” she said to the inattentive, rainbow-scaled reptile – one of the largest any of our neighbors had seen outside a zoo, “but if I’d known how much work a basilisk would be…”

“The kids like her. And we don’t have rats.”

“We never had rats. And the kids, I can’t help notice, don’t feed her. Or clean the enclosure.”

I paused, trying to remember if I was at thirteen grubs or an even dozen, then shrugged and put the lid on the container. “I don’t mind, though it’d be easier -”

“Don’t say pixies.”

“- if I could give her pixies. All the books and the kids at the store recommend it.”

“Sweetie. I love you. The kids love you. Probably even Amalia loves you, since you feed her, but I lived for too long in New York apartments to ever let pixies in my house, knowingly. Line drawn.”

“I know.” I grinned. It was a familiar conversation. “You don’t think you’d enjoy watching her eat them?”

“No. Ugh.” She shuddered. “They crunch. No. Never.”

“Fair enough.” I slide the enclosure door closed. “Ready to go?”

She gave me a look. “I am. You need to wash your hands.”

I can hear you now

Today marks one month since I got hearing aids.

While the Old Guy jokes pretty much write themselves, the truth is I could have used these things 30, even 35 years ago, thanks to an ear infection that badly damaged one of my cochlea when I was thirteen. I’ve lived with pretty terrible hearing most of my life.

Now?

Now is better.

I’m still getting used to the things and still feeling a tiny bit self-conscious, which I’m assured is ridiculous since no one can see I’m wearing anything, even with my current buzz cut.

Instead, what people1 tell me is that while they never notice I’m wearing the devices, they definitely notice when I’m NOT.

And I notice too. Mostly, there’s a lot less of me asking people to repeat themselves (a LOT less), and I particularly appreciate the specialized modes for “listening to your friends with a lot of background noise” and “listening to your lovely wife while having dinner in a noisy restaurant.”

All in all, pretty good quality of life improvement that I’m grateful I was well-off enough to be able to pay for out-of-pocket, since my company insurance didn’t cover a single fucking dime of the cost.2


  1. Mostly my co-workers, since they see me 500% more than my family during daylight hours, because capitalism is monstrous and killing us. 
  2. Why do we put simple good living behind a five-thousand-dollar-high wall? Everyone should have access to this tech, if they need it. Healthcare for all. Fucking take care of each other, man. 

Great. Again.

Nothing wakes you up from a dead sleep more effectively than the sound of a pet quietly retching on your new carpet at five in the morning.

“SON of a -” I stumbled toward the kitchen while my wife rolled out of her side of the bed and led the dog to the backyard. She was already dropping back onto her pillow by the time I’d got back with paper towels in hand.

“Ugh…” I wiped at the viscous puddle, giving thanks for the stain resistant carpet coating. Extra cost – SO worth it. “And what a surprise – a big clump of cloth.”

“Wha…” my wife’s voice crawled muzzily out of the comforter. “Where’s he getting that stuff?”

“I’ll give you one clue,” I said, plucking the wad off the carpet. “Red felt.”

She groaned. “Gnomes? Again?!”

“Looks like it.” I peered at the fuzzy, soggy glob. “Maybe two or three.”

“And just the hats?”

“Just the hats.” I pushed myself to my feet. Maybe their clothes are some other … thing. Substance. Whatever.”

“Digestible?”

“Maybe it’s just… skin.” I shrugged. “Explains why there’s never any belt buckles.”

No reply from the bed while I shuffled into the bathroom and dropped the wad of sogginess into the trash. She sat up as I turned around.

“Well, I’m not going back to sleep with that image in my head.”

“Sorry.”

Skin? Really?”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

She stood, and we headed back toward the kitchen, breakfast, and an apologetic dog by the back door.

“Maybe he’s making a political statement,” I said.

“… what?”

“The red caps. Maybe…” I trailed off, staring down at the dog through the screen, trying to turn MAGA into Munch A Gnome… Something.

I shook my head and opened the door. “Nevermind. I need coffee.”

Hobsmythe

“Officer Hobsmythe, in your report, you state you subdued the… irate hobgoblin with a binding spell.”

“Yessir.”

“… You reported your service wand damaged beyond use after the incident last weekend.”

“… Yessir.”

“So, if you don’t mind my asking…”

“I improvised. Sir.”

“You improvised. A wand.”

“Yessir.”

“And that… Worked.”

“Yessir. Fairly well, actually.”

“Did the… Improvised device… Survive?”

“Yessir. I have it right…”

“Officer Hobsmythe.”

“Yessir.”

“That’s a pink, plastic…”

“Chopstick, sir.”

“Chopstick. With some kind of toy -”

“Shopkin, sir. A cabbage, I think.”

“- shopkin. Stuck to the end.”

“Yessir.”

“For pity’s sake WHY?”

“Needed a way to make the wand ‘notable and unique’, sir, per crafting guidelines, and it’s what I had to hand.”

“How -”

“My niece, sir. She’s mad for the things. I still had one in my pocket from babysitting last week.”

seven league

As they walked, the grass border along the pavement grew shaggy, then positively neglected. He commented on it, just to have something to say, but she only scowled harder at the ground in front of them.

It felt to him as if Wilderness and Times Before crept in wherever he wasn’t looking, trying to act casual and “always been here” when he gave them a straight on glare.

It got worse.

Worse? Probably unfair. Say it progressed.

They’d lose sight of the path ahead, because of a curve or a rise or a particularly aggressive shrub, and as it came into view, there was both less and more to see.

Less path. More wild.

Pavement became paver stones, became gravel, became groomed dirt, became a thin line of flattened grass in a sea of whispers.

Mountains rose in the not-so-distance, which he felt sure he would have noticed earlier, had they BEEN there earlier. “Where are we going?” he asked, too late for it to matter very much.

She kept walking, leading the way along a single file barely-trail, her gaze still on the ground ahead of her, calling to the next change, just around the next turn.

“Away,” she murmured. “You’ll see.”