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.)

Only Mass Protests Can Prevent an Ecological Apocalypse

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.

No Way to Prevent This

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 5/27/14. Isla Vista, CA. 6 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 6/17/15. Charleston, SC. 9 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 10/1/15. Roseburg, OR. 9 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 12/3/15. San Bernardino, CA. 14 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 10/2/17. Las Vegas, NV. 58 people killed (851 injured).

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 11/5/17. Sutherland Springs, TX. 26 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 2/14/18. Parkland, FL. 17 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 5/18/18. Sante Fe, NM. 10 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 9/13/18. Bakersfield, CA. 5 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 10/28/18. Pittsburg, PA. 11 people killed.

“No Way To Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. 11/8/18. Thousand Oaks, CA. 12 people killed.

I Believe Dr. Blasey Ford

Thanks to the political horrorshow that has dominated the last week (not to be confused with the dozens preceding the current week, or those yet to come – I’m looking at you, greatest tax fraud scandal in the history of the presidency), we’ve gotten to hear from a number of men who are terrified they’ll be falsely accused of rape.

Good news, guys: Kavanaugh hasn’t been falsely accused, and you won’t be either.

Disagree?

Let’s do something CRAZY and look at evidence and facts, helpfully compiled by Jeremy C. Young, and even more helpfully pulled out of the Twitter cesspool by Tumblr folks.


First, how hard is it to arrange a false accusation of rape?

In the last week of the 2016 election, Democratic donors Susie Tompkins Buell and David Brock demonstrated you don’t need morals or brains to acquire wealth, and decided to find out. They offered $700,000 to any woman who would say Donald Trump raped her.

Source

So. Women had whatever normal incentives women have to lie about rape (more on that in a bit), plus fistfuls of cash on offer.

The result: “It was not productive.” One woman requested $2 million, Bloom said, then decided not to come forward. Nor did anyone else.

This has happened before. During the Clinton impeachment hearings, Larry Flynt offered $1 million to anyone who said they’d had an affair with a GOP congressman. Only one woman got paid, and the man she accused, Bob Livingston, admitted she was telling the truth.

Source

Let’s go back to that “whatever normal incentives women have” line.

Why don’t more women lie about being sexually assaulted?

Because the disbelief and ridicule they receive is so devastating that the lie isn’t worth it. They don’t HAVE any motive. They can try to “ruin” a man, but most of the time it doesn’t work, and they get ruined instead.

This isn’t to say there aren’t ANY false rape accusations. But let’s take a look at what those look like, courtesy of this outstanding article, which you really should read.

What kind of person makes false rape accusations?

It turns out there have been studies on the types of people who make false rape accusations, and they fall into a few consistent categories.

  1. Teen girls trying to cover up a pregnancy or missed curfew.
  2. People with extensive criminal convictions for fraud.
  3. People with Munchausen’s Disorder (who fabricate a million health conditions).
  4. People seeking revenge, usually for petty things like someone stealing their truck.

Also: “False accusers almost never tell stories that could, by any stretch of the imagination, be seen as an innocent misunderstanding.”

If Dr. Blasey Ford wanted to lie about Kavanaugh, based on the patterns observed in the article, she’d accuse him of torturing her in a basement, not of attempted molestation at a party.

The takeaway: “If a woman without any history of dramatic falsehoods says she went home with a man and, after they’d kissed a while consensually, he held her down and forced her into sex – in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, you can assume it’s true.”

(More to the point, you SHOULD do so, but that’s MY takeaway.)

When it comes to Kavanaugh, false accusations of this type simply don’t happen. Dr. Blasey Ford is telling the truth. So are Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. If you know a man who’s faced accusations like these three, it’s almost certain they actually did what they’re accused of. (More on THAT in a bit.)

False accusations of rape do happen, but they are rare. Rarer than being struck by lightning WHILE SITTING INSIDE YOUR HOUSE. If you’re not lying awake at night worrying that lightning will come through your window and electrocute you, you shouldn’t worry about being falsely accused of rape, guys.

What we SHOULD worry about is what happens to women like Dr. Blasey Ford when they tell the truth and are still not believed. What’s been said about Dr. Blasey Ford would land most people in therapy for years. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s nomination trundles onward.

In summary, you literally cannot pay women to falsely report sexual misconduct.

But, as Donald Trump has demonstrated (repeatedly), you can certainly pay them not to report sexual misconduct that actually happened.


Okay: let’s loop back to “If you know a man who’s faced accusations like these three, it’s almost certain they actually did what they’re accused of.”

I’d like to make an edit to that sentence. Delete “almost.”

There are statistics about false rape accusations floating around that range from 2% (according to activists) to 10% (according to skeptics). (The highest rate in any credible study is 10.3%. If someone quotes you a rate higher than that, they don’t know what they’re talking about.)

But there’s a BIT more to it than that.

First, go back and read the article I linked. Seriously, do some legwork; it’s literally one click and moving your eyeballs.

What kind of person makes false rape accusations?

Second – and this is critical – not a single false accusation mentioned in the article involved more than one accuser. With multiple accusers who are (a) credible in their own right and (b) don’t know one another, the possibility of a false accusation drops exponentially.

Put another way, if you have even two credible accusers who don’t know each other, you have (for all practical purposes) mathematically removed the possibility of reasonable doubt.

Kavanaugh has three credible accusers, and two more potentially credible ones.

The chance they’re ALL lying is functionally zero.


SOME OTHER ARGUMENTS YOU MIGHT HEAR

“Memory is unreliable.”

Sure: people often don’t remember the face of a stranger who attacks them. They DO remember when it’s someone they know. And three women don’t MISremember being attacked by the SAME GUY. That’s light-years beyond lightning-struck-in-my-armchair odds. It isn’t a thing.

How Reliable are the Memories of Sexual Assault Victims?

Takeaway: People forget peripheral details of trauma, but not central details. They might misidentify the face of a stranger rapist, but they don’t misremember the identity of their classmate, whom they know, who attacked them.

“Why now?”

Maybe you’re talking with (or are) one of the “why did she wait 40 years to come forward” crowd? I (or, rather, Jennifer Taub) have got you covered.

Coming forward is traumatic. Sexual assault survivors are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than the average person, and most report that public victim blaming is one of the main reasons. The Mental Impact of Rape

But if he’s going to be ruling on the rights of 150 million women? Suddenly it becomes more urgent. Judged to be worth the pain, I must assume.

“Women just want to protect Roe v Wade.”

Okay. So did all the women David Brock offered fistfuls of money to in 2016. And yet.

Wanting to protect Roe v Wade, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars, wasn’t enough to convince anyone to make false accusations. It’s just too traumatic.

And, again, consider motive. People who make up false accusations ALWAYS trend toward the sensational. They’re easy to spot.

“I know someone who’s been falsely accused.”

Cool. How many people do you know who’ve been sexually assaulted? Data says it’s 27% – somewhat more than 40 MILLION WOMEN – in the U.S. – and 7% of men.

And let’s not forget 80% of women sexually harassed – that’s… 120 million in the U.S.?

But sure: hit me with the anecdata about that one guy you know…

“Innocent until proven guilty.”

That is a legal standard, not a job interview standard. I’ve worked inside HR offices as a trainer for years, and don’t know any who’d hire someone with these kinds of stories flying around about them, from multiple credible witnesses. It’s laughable.

No one’s suggesting Kavanaugh should be in jail without trial, just that he shouldn’t be on the Court.

Some Thoughts on Black Panther, from a White Dude

So.

I love this movie. Love. I think it’s probably the best overall film Marvel’s come out with, viewed holistically. I might like a certain action scene or the humor in another movie more BUT, taken as a whole, Black Panther is STRONG. Top three, if not top of the list.

And, I have confirmed, very rewatchable.

I’ve been struggling with what else – if anything – to say about the movie, and honestly trying to decide if I should say anything about it. I love it, and I think it’s great, and I think if you haven’t seen it, and you’re someone in my circles, you probably should, because you’ll like it.

But what else?

I mean, the empowerment and representation in this movie is not mine, and that is an inarguable good, so maybe I should just shut the fuck up about it.

Maybe no one wants to hear that I think Blank Panther also has something important to say to me and other white guys. Maybe I don’t even need to step into the “what Black Panther has to say” conversation at all.

And if you feel that way, I respect that, and you should definitely tune this next bit out.

Because… this movie is about Wakanda, right?

And what’s Wakanda?

Wakanda is, by all accounts (including the exposition in the movie) a pretty blessed country. It has resources and advantages no one else in the world has. It has made advances no one else in the world has, and in fact enjoys benefits no one else in the world even imagines can be.

“You guys have hoverbikes?!?”

It has, in short, all the best stuff.

And, at the start of the movie (and throughout the fictional history of this country) what Wakanda does with these gifts is:

  • use them to protect itself
  • preserve its advantage
  • ensure that everyone else’s problems do not become its problems.

So… basically… white men in the real world.

And without discussing spoilers, I will say this.

The movie demonstrates a healthy, helpful, I think necessary path forward for anyone with those kinds of advantages.

And it’s not more guns.

It’s not war and occupation in every country we don’t agree with.

It’s not continuing the same selfish, inward-focused, personal preservation that has been our go-to move throughout history.

In a time of conflict, fools builds a wall barriers, and the wise build bridges.

Right?

So.

Without (I hope) taking anything away from everyone to whom this movie will speak much more fully, much more emotionally, and much more personally, I hope I can say that it also has something to tell a middle-aged white dude.

And I’m going to shut up and take notes, because it’s got a hell of a good point.

Another way to (safely) view the eclipse: Waffle Fingers!

https://eclipse.aas.org/sites/eclipse.aas.org/files/Waffle-Fingers_RTF_512x323.gif

Just cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. Then, with your back to the Sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground. During the partial phases of the solar eclipse, these images will reveal the Sun's crescent shape, as shown in the accompanying photo.

eclipse.aas.org/sites/eclipse.aas.org/files/Waffle-Fingers_RTF_512x323.gif

This is not New

The first time the president’s name appeared on the front page of the New York Times was more than 40 years ago. “Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City,” read the headline of the A1 piece on Oct. 16, 1973, which pointed out how Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice had sued the Trump family’s real estate company in federal court over alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Over the next four decades: he was accused of ordering “all the black employees off the floor” of his Atlantic City casinos during his visits; claimed “laziness is a trait in blacks” and “not anything they can control”; requested Jews “in yarmulkes” replace his black accountants; told Bryan Gumbel that “a well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market”; demanded the death penalty for a group of black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a jogger in Central Park (and, despite their later exoneration with the use of DNA evidence, has continued to insist they are guilty); suggested a Native American tribe “don’t look like Indians to me”; mocked Chinese and Japanese trade negotiators by doing an impression of them in broken English; described undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists”; compared Syrian refugees to “snakes”; defended two supporters who assaulted a homeless Latino man as “very passionate” people “who love this country”; pledged to ban a quarter of humanity from entering the United States; proposed a database to track American Muslims that he himself refused to distinguish from the Nazi registration of German Jews; implied Jewish donors “want to control” politicians and are all sly negotiators; heaped praise on the “amazing reputation” of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has blamed America’s problems on a “Jewish mafia”; referred to a black supporter at a campaign rally as “my African-American”; suggested the grieving Muslim mother of a slain U.S. army officer “maybe … wasn’t allowed” to speak in public about her son; accused an American-born Hispanic judge of being “a Mexican“; retweeted anti-Semitic and anti-black memes, white supremacists, and even a quote from Benito Mussolini; kept a book of Hitler’s collected speeches next to his bed; declined to condemn both David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan; and spent five years leading a “birther” movement that was bent on smearing and delegitimizing the first black president of the United States, who Trump also accused of being the founder of ISIS.

This is not news.

The news is, we’re letting him run the country.

On Punching Nazis, Part Three

Maybe you don't want to punch Nazis because you don't want to punch anybody, but you want to do SOMETHING. That's fair. (I don't want to punch anyone either, though I've decided I will make an exception in the case of Nazis, but that is my choice, not yours.)

Maybe you wouldn't mind punching Nazis, and there are no Nazis around to punch, but you feel you must to do something. Also fair.

Here's what you do.

Love somebody who needs it right now.

Talk to the brown-skinned guy with the accent who, like you, is standing in the Home Depot, waiting to see if the employee can find any eclipse-rated welding goggle lenses in inventory.

Tell your black or jewish coworkers how sorry and frustrated and goddamn ANGRY you are that this country has allowed this poison for so long, pretending it wasn't there.

They will know what you mean. They've always known. We're the ones who've just figured it out, and shame on us.

Find your lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer friends and ask them what they need. (Don't ask how you can help – don't make them do the mental labor of finding a place for self-important YOU in their trouble – ask them what they NEED and fit yourself to that.)

If you don't have such friends, get out in the world and fucking FIX that.

Love someone who needs it right now.

Love someone who needs it, right now.

Someone who isn't like you.

Someone Other.

There are a lot of them, and they need it right now.

WE need it right now.

If you need to do something. Do that.