President Boring

John Scalzi, in President Boring:

I suspect I will be exasperated with Biden a lot, and remember that I am a well-off cishet white dude who is not, in fact, a radical liberal. However exasperated I will be is a mere fraction of what others, more affected by the nonsense of the last four years, will be feeling. What I’m going to try to remember in those moments is that every step away from the abyss our nation almost toppled into is a good step. Biden will be my president (thank God), but he’s not the president for me. He’s the president for White People Who Still Haven’t Realized How Bad It Just Got, and hopefully through him, things get better for a whole lot of other people. Every day of that will be a victory of sorts.

I’m not as well-off as Scalzi is, and my impression is that I skew a bit left of him. Even with those caveats, he’s spot on here.

Biden wasn’t my first choice. There will be lots of times when I’ll wish he was doing more, or pushing harder. But he’s going to be so much better than what we’ve had and what we would have had if that continued.

Biden/Harris 2020

Two posts from Facebook about the just-confirmed Biden/Harris ticket that I’m mirroring over here:

Copied from a friend, except for these remarks. I’m perfectly aware there are good arguments as to why neither Biden nor Harris are who someone might want to be on the ticket. Neither of them were my first choice. But the alternative — either four more years of Trump, or “burn it all down”, which, come on, are basically the same damn thing — is so, so much worse that I honestly haven’t yet seen a convincing argument to not vote for Biden/Harris.

If nothing else, assume that you’re gearing up for a fight to improve things over the next four years. If the goal is five miles away, doesn’t it make sense to try to influence an administration that’s currently sitting one mile beyond the starting line, instead of one that’s spent the past four years running the wrong direction?

And for those grousing about this being “just another choice between the ‘lesser of two evils'”? Oh, come on. That’s like complaining that a choice between Cthulhu and Sid the bully from Toy Story is just too difficult because they’re so similar and really, probably exactly the same when you get right down to it, and it’s just so sad that we can’t have a unicorn sparkle pony on the ticket instead.

Now, on to the copy-paste part:

Now that the Democratic Biden-Harris President-Vice President ticket is set, it’s a good time for the following reminders:

  1. You’re not just voting for President.
  2. You’re voting to prevent a 7-2 dangerous conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Note: 87 year old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is single-handedly fighting off multiple plagues and cancers so she can hang on until we get rid of 45. This alone should be enough for historic turnout!
  3. You’re voting for the next Secretary of Education, Housing Secretary, and Attorney General.
  4. You are voting for the “down” ballot as well, in order to keep the House and to gain majority of the Senate in Congress.
  5. You’re voting for federal judges.
  6. You’re voting for the rule of law.
  7. You’re voting for saving national parks.
  8. You’re voting for getting kids out of cages.
  9. You’re voting for clean air and clean water.
  10. You’re voting for scientists to be allowed to speak and do something to help protect us from climate change and pandemics.
  11. You’re voting for greater transparency and confidence that the President isn’t using your tax dollars as a slush fund for his family and friends.
  12. You’re voting for housing rights.
  13. You’re voting for justice reform and for formerly incarcerated persons to be treated with dignity, so that they can be productive members of society when they return.
  14. You’re voting for everyone to be able to adopt a child without a lot of red tape.
  15. You’re voting for Dreamers.
  16. You’re voting so that there will be Social Security and Medicare when you retire… and for generations to come.
  17. You’re voting for veterans to get the care they deserve.
  18. You’re voting for rural hospitals.
  19. You’re voting so that everyone can have access to affordable health insurance, and good health care.
  20. You’re voting for education to be treated like the noble profession that it is and for teachers to be paid appropriately.
  21. You’re voting to have a President who doesn’t embarrass this country every time he attends an international meeting.
  22. You’re voting against allowing the USA to become yet another authoritarian regime.
  23. You’re voting for sensible gun laws.
  24. You’re voting for children born to military troops overseas to still be counted as US citizens.
  25. You’re voting to curb homelessness and find solutions to affordable housing.
  26. You’re voting to take measures to end the racial asset and wealth disparities.
  27. You’re voting to defend women’s reproductive rights and a woman’s right to make all health related decisions regarding her body.
  28. You’re voting to acknowledge the humanity and protect the safety of our family and friends in the LGBTQ+ community.
  29. You’re voting to stop the normalization of white supremacy and dangerous bigotry in the mainstream.
  30. You’re voting to rebuild a functional CDC to help prevent or eradicate dangerous pandemics like the coronavirus.

I know we can’t all agree on everything. Now, this is a two candidate race between Vice President Biden and 45. Those are our only choices. One of them will be our President as a result of this election.

The Biden-Harris ticket isn’t perfect. No ticket ever was and no ticket ever will be. Perhaps, for whatever reason, Vice President Biden and/or Senator Harris don’t pass your purity test. Just know this, they will be much better than four more years of 45. We must do all we can to ensure that the Biden-Harris ticket wins.

No, Harris isn’t perfect; yes, there are decisions in her background that I’d prefer weren’t there. But that can be said of literally any other candidate, and when you compare her record to other recent big-name candidates, she’s very much in line with them, and actually scores (by at least one site’s metrics) as more progressive than any of them.

I think she’ll do just fine. And when she doesn’t, or appears like she might not, it’s our responsibility to make our voices known. And as I noted in my earlier post, it’s going to be a lot easier and more likely to move towards more progressive policies under Biden/Harris than it would be with more Trump/Pence.

Progressive Punch rates Harris at the fourth most progressive Senator, above Warren, Gillibrand, Booker, and Sanders.

Ranking Harris's Voting Record

Harris and Warren vote in agreement 96% of the time.

Harris v. Warren

Harris and Gillibrand vote in agreement 98% of the time.

Harris v. Gillibrand

Harris and Booker vote in agreement 97% of the time.

Harris v. Booker

Harris and Sanders vote in agreement 92% of the time.

Harris v. Sanders

Post-Super Tuesday Thoughts

I know that Warren’s campaign was looking like more and more of a long shot–but I’m disappointed and frustrated that she did as poorly as she did. I still believe that she is, by far, the single best candidate, and it’s frustrating that, yet again, an immensely intelligent and capable woman is being sidelined in favor of less qualified men.

I do hope she sticks around until the convention. Partially, sure, because I’ve already sent in my ballot for Washington’s primary with her name checked, but also because I think it’s important to have her voice as part of the discussion. She’d continue to push both Sanders and Biden on the more problematic aspects of their campaigns, make it so we’re not just listening to two old men yell at each other, and–and here’s a hail Mary pass for you–if the convention is so contested that it’s clear that neither Sanders nor Biden are a consensus choice, maybe she could end up being the consensus candidate. Yeah, a long shot that won’t happen, but it’s fun to dream.

I found this analysis of why Biden did so well in the south to be quite interesting. The argument here is that for many black voters, particularly older voters, the primary concern is which candidate is the best possible choice that most white voters will support.

My read of the South Carolina vote is that black people know exactly what they’re doing, and why. Joe Biden is the indictment older black folks have issued against white America. His support is buttressed by chunks of the black community who have determined that most white people are selfish and cannot be trusted to do the right thing. They believe if you make white people choose between their money and their morality—between candidates like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren (who somehow finished fifth in South Carolina, behind Pete Buttigieg) and candidates like Biden and Michael Bloomberg—they will choose their money every time and twice on Election Day.

The New York Times interviewed a 39-year-old African American voter in South Carolina. I found his analysis instructive. He told the Times: “Black voters know white voters better than white voters know themselves.… So yeah, we’ll back Biden, because we know who white America will vote for in the general election in a way they may not tell a pollster or the media.”

The best result, though? Bloomberg is out. Thank goodness. And I do hope that he follows through with his promise to put his immense wealth behind the eventual Democratic nominee.

I guess the other bright side is that there’s very little question of whether I’ll bother watching any of the Presidential debates. I would have enjoyed seeing Warren go up against Trump on the debate stage: not only is she always incredibly well prepared, capable, and very good at thinking on her feet as she’s answering questions, but she’d have the benefit of being able to study the Clinton/Trump debates. As it is, though, I have no interest in either a Biden/Trump or Sanders/Trump debate. I know I’ll be voting for the Democratic nominee no matter what, and it’ll save me more hours of watching old white men yell at each other.

I just wish Warren had a better chance at being our next President. She’d be great.

Addendum: Also: Yes, as many of my Sanders-aligned friends on Facebook are pointing out through links and memes, Biden is very problematic, with all sorts of questionable statements and votes in his history.

He’s still far better than Trump, and if he’s the nominee, please recognize this and vote for him instead of staying home or casting a “protest vote” (that has no functional result other than taking a vote away from the one candidate with a hope of beating the incumbent). So much depends on getting someone else in office (not least, our nation’s judiciary, from the Supreme Court seats on down, which Trump has already done a frightening job of skewing rightward in the past three years).

And then, once he’s in office, keep up your dissent. Point out when he fucks up. Call your representatives and senators and make sure they know where you stand and that they should push against any poor decisions and missteps. Make your voice heard, beyond just the once-every-four-years vote, and push for things to improve. Don’t give up just because your preferred candidate didn’t end up winning–push for the remaining candidates, the eventual nominee, and (hopefully) the new President to do better.

Secrets of the 2008 Campaign eBook

Over the course of the week, Newsweek has published a fascinating seven-part series called Secrets of the 2008 Campaign, an “in-depth look behind the scenes of the campaign, consisting of exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting from the McCain and Obama camps assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of their findings appear until after Election Day.”

Since I wanted to read the whole thing, but have also been experimenting with reading eBooks on my iPod Touch, I figured this was as good a time as any to play with seeing what it would take to create an eBook. As it turns out, it’s not terribly difficult at all, at least as far as the .epub format goes. After some time with this tutorial and a little bit of minor troubleshooting, I had it all set up.

If you have an eBook reader that supports .epub files and would like to take a peek, here it is. It’s been working fine for me in both the desktop and iPhone versions of Stanza, but I can’t at this point vouch for any other eBook reader.

Obviously, seeing as how the only thing keeping me from breaking copyright criminally (rather than simply flagrantly, which is were I stand now) is that I’m not charging for this, so should Newsweek decide to give me the smackdown, this will be disappearing faster than Sarah Palin leaving the stage after McCain’s concession speech.

Still, it was a fun exercise in figuring out eBooks.