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?
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.)
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 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
- Mostly my co-workers, since they see me 500% more than my family during daylight hours, because capitalism is monstrous and killing us. ↩
- 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. ↩
In an opinion piece for the Guardian, George Monbiot argues that mass protests are “essential” to force a political response to climate change.
As the environmental crisis accelerates, and as protest movements like YouthStrike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion make it harder not to see what we face, people discover more inventive means of shutting their eyes and shedding responsibility. Underlying these excuses is a deep-rooted belief that if we really are in trouble, someone somewhere will come to our rescue: “they” won’t let it happen. But there is no they, just us.
The political class, as anyone who has followed its progress over the past three years can surely now see, is chaotic, unwilling and, in isolation, strategically incapable of addressing even short-term crises, let alone a vast existential predicament.
“Get in the car, goomba.”
“I’m not a goomba.”
“You’re a roomba-goomba.”
“That’s… I’m not… that’s not even a thing that’s possible! What is that?”
“Well, a roomba is a robot that vacuums people’s houses, and a goomba is a mushroom person that walks around, so a roomba-goomba is a robot mushroom person who walks around, vacuuming people’s houses… I guess.”
“I’m definitely not a roomba-goomba.”
“I don’t VACUUM.”
Not that long ago, I walked into my grandma’s house and found the garage decked out in fourth of july red white and blue from one end to the other. The decorations continued into the house itself, and I asked her if she’d had any help setting everything up.
She laughed, once, hard, the way she did. “Ha! No. That’s all me. I do that.”
I looked at her – closing in on ninety-four at the time – and then I looked back at the stairwell leading into her basement.
The one with twelve foot high walls rising up on three sides.
Which were ALSO decorated.
“How’d you do THAT?” I asked her.
She looked at me, and learned in, and said “Ain’t I something?”
And she was.
It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to sum up a life. Anyone’s life, let alone one as long and rich as my Grandma’s.
It’s a tiny bit easier to look at the effect someone had on the people around them – the stories about them; what they said, and what they did; the things they taught us.
I asked my family for some of the things they learned. This is what they shared:
- The world always looks better through clean windows.
- Wash your face, your neck, and your ears, even if you can’t wash anything else.
- The food you grow yourself always tastes better.
- Never move into a new house with an old broom.
- Always sift your dry ingredients before you start baking.
- You don’t quit when you’re tired, or if things gets hard; you quit when you’re done.
- If you don’t have time to write letters, send birthday and Christmas cards and jam every square inch with whatever you would have written in those letters… and if you start to run out of room, just writer smaller and smaller and smaller until it all fits.
(My mom learned that one pretty well.)
And here’s another one: when you’re sad, crying is ok – but so is laughing.
Grandma showed us living your faith was in the quiet way you give, serve, share, and show patience to those who need it the most – not how many Sundays you made it in to church.
She showed us love can find you, even or especially when it seems like it never will again.
Grandma showed us how to milk cows, feed calves, and carry buckets of water that were – at the time – almost bigger than we were.
We learned early, watching her, a woman can do anything a man can. She never told a girl there was any job on the farm they couldn’t do, and she never told a boy there was a recipe in her cookbook we couldn’t manage, if we were willing.
She tried her best to show us how to make bread as good as hers – even if none of us ever managed it; it was enough to try, and even better if we tried with her, in her kitchen. In fact, she shared every recipe she knew, gladly, from caramel rolls, to chicken, to squash casserole so good we’d go back for seconds, and then go back for thirds, put whipped cream on it, and call it dessert.
My kids remember that, and holding her hands, and the bowls of candy she somehow always had set out, and the fact she had the fanciest, best decorated garage any of them had ever seen.
Everyone who shared some of their lessons with me, including my kids, eventually wound down to the same thing, by the end: “These are just a few of the things I remember – there are a thousand more.”
And of course there are. In a life that touched so many, for so long, it’s impossible to fully take in the impact of our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.
So how can we remember her?
I would say: think of the small things – the little lessons, the tiny moments, the snippets of advice.
When you holler “no dirty feet in my clean sheets!” remember why, and share that remembering with someone else. Tell that story, and then tell another one, and another; as many as you can.
Some will make you sad, and you’ll cry. Some will make you sad, and you’ll laugh, and that’s okay too.
Don’t worry you’ll run out. There are thousands.
We are, all of us, a collection of stories, when you come right down to it, and Floy Jean, my grandma, was a good one.
She was, in her own words, really something.
More to come, but for now, this: