Archive: July, 2024

Panic never leads to good decisions

JRB

It's been two weeks since the horrible, awful, no-good debate performance from President Biden. In that two weeks, the press—most notably the New York Times, but plenty of other outlets as well—has been stunningly irresponsible in perpetuating the panic within the Democratic party. A panic brought on by the two big events the president appeared at after his multiple trips to Europe last month: a fundraiser in Los Angeles and the so-called "debate" in Atlanta. The president was not at his best, to say the least, at either event, appearing tired and softspoken and failing to deliver the kind of tactical rhetoric that would effectively wound Donald Trump. Some Democrats have extrapolated from this that President Biden is too frail, too diminished, to continue running for reelection, and the Times and other media have jumped on it like flies swarming over fresh manure.

We've had two weeks of this and that two weeks of panic has done more damage to the campaign than the events themselves ever could have.

I get that people are scared. Hell, I'm scared. But what we're scared of is not Joe Biden.

Not one person outside of the MAGA cult lemmings, not even the cult's leaders, is afraid of what might happen if Joe Biden wins reelection. No one outside the cult lemmings fears a serious crisis befalling the nation if Joe Biden remains president because we know that Joe Biden is decency personified. Because we know that his vice-president, his cabinet, and his staff are supremely competent people committed to upholding the Constitution and American values and ethical behavior. Because we understand that if it should happen that Joe Biden became unable to continue his second term of president due to declining faculties, those competent people would step in, and should they be unable to convince the president he wasn't able to continue they would put country first and employ the 25th Amendment.

The only people that fear a second Joe Biden victory are the grossly uninformed, the rubes that swallow right-wing propaganda whole, and the racists/misogynists who can't abide a woman minority possibly succeeding to the presidency (and no one should give those people the time of day).

As I've said before, what we fear are stupid people. We fear the tens of millions of voters who behave like Level Seven Susceptibles, mindlessly absorbing Republican misinformation and fearmongering. Most of whom don't really have evil intent; only a relative few of these millions are actually pro-fascism, actually want to see their neighbors rounded up and sent to concentration camps, actually want the courts to continue shredding the Constitution, actually want to see American military troops stationed all over major U.S. cities enforcing a police state. They've just been conned.

That's who is causing the gigantic and potentially suicidal freakout within the Democratic party.

Let's just keep that in mind as we pore over yet more coverage of said freakout and see the freakout spread to our own circles.

I have had three conversations in the last week with friends who are in the Biden-needs-to-drop-out camp. I think they are very much wrong, but I understand why they feel the way they do. Winning this election is critical, and because the news media as a whole has proven itself unwilling to stand on the side of democracy and law and truth, the perception keeps growing that Biden Is A Problem That Can't Be Surmounted.

But here's the thing: it's too late to change candidates. If there were really and truly worries within the party about Biden's cognitive faculties and ability to do his job—real, thought-through evaluations and real rationally-arrived at concern—it would have surfaced when the primary campaign began and the push would have been made then to nominate someone else. But that didn't happen, and now the primaries are over, and the delegates and campaign funds and infrastructure belong to Joe Biden. The only—repeat, only—possible alternative candidate at this point is Vice President Harris, as hers is the only other name on the ticket and she is the only other person allowed to use those funds. (Not to mention the fact that Biden is beloved by the African American community and should he decide not to continue, bypassing his VP would be a slap in their collective face.)

But would switching to Harris actually make the race more winnable?

I've heard arguments that such a switch would galvanize young voters, that it would bring more people of color into the fold, that it would give a fresh sense of "youth" to the race. All of which is pure, unadulterated speculation conjured from an imaginary universe. Might it be true? Sure, maybe. Might it not? Sure, maybe. Those first two arguments in particular I think are specious; younger voters are by far the least reliable constituency year after year, and as mentioned, you risk alienating POC just as much if not more than attracting them by dumping Biden.

It's a matter of the devil you know versus the devil you don't. The potential for utter catastrophe is, in my view, far greater, enormously greater with the devil we don't. Incumbents challenged from within their party always lose. A challenge at the convention would invite chaos. Republicans would have a field day exploiting such chaos.

There is almost nothing I would want to emulate from the modern Republican Party—they are led as mindless drones by exploitative, greedy, power-hungry, fascistic liars with the ethical standards of Pol Pot—but they have illustrated something about the American public that the rest of us should take note of:

No matter how unfit and disastrous for the country they know most of the electorate would find their candidates, they close ranks and fight for him (it's usually a him, Marjorie Sporkfoot notwithstanding), and as often as not, it works.

Richard Nixon won thanks in large part to Democratic chaos in 1968. Ronald Reagan won in large part because Ted Kennedy primaried incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. George W. Bush won—or came close enough that it didn't matter—in 2000 and 2004 despite being demonstrably stupid. And Trump won in 2016 despite his litany of crimes and crassness and obvious colossal ignorance. All of these Republicans championed policies that were profoundly detrimental to a large majority of Americans and all of them committed crimes in office (and, to this point at least, got away with them). Except for Reagan—who was able to use his Hollywood charisma to fool people into thinking he was a good guy and, for his reelect, to mask his Alzheimer's—they were also terrible candidates, but the GOP nevertheless closed ranks and pushed them through. (Please see and share my capsule history of the presidency.)

I'm not suggesting that Democrats now employ Republican tactics of lying to voters and conning them into thinking their guy isn't who their guy really is. Not only is that despicable, there's no need for it. Our guy really is a good guy fighting for all citizens, Americans and global citizens as well. He's just old.

No, I'm suggesting Democrats quit fighting amongst ourselves and back the President. Strongly, without reservation, without fretting about age or how loudly he speaks or how tiring the job of President is. Yes, by all means, coach him on better rhetoric to use when campaigning, get him in front of the public and on TV frequently to not only tout his phenomenal record but show the uninformed how dangerous the Republican plan to destroy the country really is. (We also need to remind people how awful the Trump Administration was and that Trump 1.0 was only that disastrous because there were patriotic Americans in government to stop him from taking even more ruinous actions, and Trump 2.0 would have no such patriots to get in his way. But I suspect that's a job for ads and surrogates more than for the president himself.)

All of us have known older people. Some frailer than others, some mentally sharper than others. We all (or mostly all) have the firsthand experience of knowing that only some senior citizens are incapable of rational decision-making, which is what the job of President boils down to. My grandfather lived to be 92, and sure, after he hit 80 he wasn't getting around as easily and his voice lost some of its timbre, but he never lost his faculties. He was sharp at 90, conversing about novels and relating stories of his aviation career and marveling over Vladimir Guerrero's ability to hit terrible pitches. He just spoke with less vocal strength. He had a friend, a fellow ex-pilot, who at 80 or maybe late-70s had physically declined so much he could hardly communicate. For whatever reasons, some people fare better than others, and physical decline from age does not necessarily bring cognitive failures with it. This shouldn't be hard to grasp.

Joe is over 80. Trump is a sociopathic criminal bent on tyranny. Joe has, like all but one president before him, shown obvious signs of age beyond the norm from the stress of being president. When Trump was president, he of course never actually worked enough to stress himself beyond the levels of his previous life of crime and grift, so his aging seemed "normal." Joe can get tripped up by his stutter and his over- or mis-preparation for appearances getting in the way of extemporaneous speaking. Trump will occasionally say something truthful by accident while spewing a torrent of bullshit. Joe is comparatively robust for a man in his 80s in a phenomenally stressful job. Trump is essentially a few Big Macs away from cardiac failure and is lazy as fuck.

This is not only a winnable race, it's a rout waiting to happen if the Democratic Party will just quit rending its garments and panicking over what the stupids might do if they think Joe Biden is an old man.

Focus. Get behind your guy, because he's not going away. Champion him, campaign your asses off, and make it clear to anyone who will listen that Biden's disembodied brain in a jar Futurama-style would still be infinitely more desirable than Donald Trump at any age.

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Holiday catch-up

FW2

It's July 4th weekend (still, barely) and I've been spending my time in the garage building yet another comic cabinet, watching baseball, and binging season 2 of Star Trek: Prodigy.

Some stray thoughts from the week:

  • Driving home from umpiring last week, a dashboard warning light came on in my car. It's one I've seen before and I know from that experience that it's nothing urgent, just a computer fault related to overdrive, which rarely kicks in anyway. It was a one-off, hasn't happened again. Even so, it got me thinking that the next time something goes wrong with this 25-year-old jalopy it won't be worth fixing. It probably wasn't worth putting in the new exhaust system I shelled out three grand for four or five months ago. So I've been looking at used cars, wondering what I could possibly afford that would be a significant step up, and I've decided on a Prius. Not immediately, but probably before the year's out, if I find a good enough price on a well-maintained model from a year without a lot of reported issues. If anyone reading this is a Prius person, please let me know if the stuff I'm reading online about Generation III Priuses (Prii?) being inferior to what came before as well as after is real or bunk. A Gen II is likely what I'll end up with as I want to keep the purchase price low.
  • It has been one year and four days since I brought Mizuki home from the King County Animal Shelter as a we-think-nine-week-old kitten last July 3rd. It's been a good year and four days. She is healthy, less skittish (but still afraid of unfamiliar people—makes me wonder what happened to her in those we-think-nine-weeks before she came to live here), and maybe 2/3 grown. She loves her kitty fam, playing with Zephyr on the daily and cuddling with Raimei most nights. I am very glad I adopted her and I'd like to think she is too.

    mizuki2

  • I am sick and tired of the Mariners striking out. Particularly when it really matters, as all strikeouts are not equal. Like today, when Ty France struck out with the winning run on 3rd and one out in the 9th. It's not a new problem, last year the M's were K machines and their strikeout tendencies actually got worse with that kind of easy RBI opportunity. It still happens a lot, though I've not done the research to know if they again lead the baseball world in Ks with a runner at 3rd and 0 or 1 out. Wouldn't surprise me at all if they do. At some point this season, I predict they will break their own record of 20 strikeouts in a game.
  • Two such unforgiveable strikeouts occurred in their July 4th game, which I attended. They overcame that and went on to victory, though, so the failures will be lost to time. But I noted it in the scorecard anyway. Still, a fun game on a pleasant holiday afternoon, viewed from the club level:

    TMP0704

  • After that, the B's and I headed up to Everett for a doubleheader of sorts and took in the Class-A AquaSox's rout of the Vancouver Canadians (that club really needs a better name) and had almost the exact same vantage point:

    aquasox

    A small-town fireworks show followed, which was pleasantly ordinary as such things go.
  • This year, July 4th had a whole different aura to it because of what the Supreme Court has done recently and because of the massive anxiety attack the country is having over the presidential race. But that's another post.
  • Star Trek: Prodigy season 2 is really good. Yes, it's a kids show, yes, it's got a lot of Voyager trappings, but it's really well-done and I heartily recommend it to kids of its target demo and to nerds of any age. (Just keep in mind who the target demo is.)

There's probably more stuff I could pontificate on, but it'll wait. It's approaching midnight and I haven't eaten yet. Must rectify that.

FW3

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Court crisis

scotusfrauds
The six most dangerous people in the United States right now

The Supreme Court has been issuing incredibly bad rulings for two-plus years, but today's was the worst of the worst and has sent me into a fit of anger/frustration/(non-clinical) depression/outrage/terror/anxiety.

I was going to write a big screed about the indefensible and clearly unconstitutional "immunity" ruling but I find I can't focus my outrage into a coherent narrative in the time I have before I have to leave for umpiring. So instead I am going to quote Mary Trump, niece of the criminal ex-POTUS, who rightly is focused on preventing things from getting even worse.

The justices who are trying to make my uncle a king are traitors, equal to the traitors who attempted a coup against our nation and who have been spreading the Big Lie in order to undermine the American people’s faith in free and fair elections. With this immunity decision, they have launched an attack on our most important ideals. It’s a continuation of the 2021 coup attempt, and it’s the start of the next one, not just a rubber stamp for my uncle’s worst impulses and abuses but an open invitation for more .... This was an unjust and anti-democratic decision from a Court that no longer has any credibility and, apparently, no longer believes in its mission to uphold the Constitution. 

Six unelected people have stripped basic human rights from millions of women, destroyed the federal government, and made it almost impossible to hold Donald accountable while coming very close to granting him the powers of a king. It’s time for tens of millions of us to rise up and vote in unprecedented numbers. That’s how we tell the New York Times editorial board to fuck off. It’s how we increase the likelihood that Donald goes to prison or, at the very least, never gets near the levers of power again. And it’s how we start to take back our country from the corrupt traitors on the Supreme Court. 

This [SCOTUS] decision is the end of something and we have a choice: we can be demoralized and stop fighting, or we can use these horrific decisions as a rallying cry—because if we do nothing, the consequences will be swift and unthinkable. If we do nothing, Donald will win and that will be the end of the American experiment.  

So let’s get it together. If we want to save our country and our future and our children’s futures, we have to elect Democrats no matter what. 

This has all been worse than we thought it would be, but we now know it will absolutely get so much worse than we can imagine unless we own the fact that making sure American democracy survives is down to us and no one else.

This is DEFCON 1. SCOTUS is already doing what they can to implement Project 2025, just making shit up so violations of law and the very US Constitution—but only by the "right" people—is permissible.

The Roberts Court has stripped away reproductive rights from American women, stripped away regulatory authority from governing experts in any field, and declared Presidents are above the law so long as they can call their crimes "official." Not mentioned in Mary's great post is that the Court recently also legalized bribery of government officials, so long as the bribe comes after the favor as a "gratuity"; made it easier for frauds to be perpetrated on the Securities and Exchange Commission; stripped away portions of the Clean Air Act, thus allowing even greater pollution from corporate entities; allowed municipalities to criminalize homelessness; eliminated a ban on so-called "bump stocks" that convert guns into machine guns; and said states can gerrymander their Congressional districts as much as they like.

And that's just what I have off the top of my head.

The six justices appointed by Trump and by the Bushes are completely out of control, not even pretending anymore that they are not a subsidiary of the Republican Party, a Republican Party that has thrown its lot in with autocratic anti-American criminals. If we had a Congress without so many Republican enablers of this traitorous behavior, two of those justices—Alito and Thomas—would be impeached on monetary corruption grounds and a third—Chief Justice Roberts—for negligence as well as aiding and abetting criminality in several instances, not the least of which was the impeachment trials of Donald Trump which he presided over and completely abdicated his duties in. The other three are illegitimate based on (a) perjury in their confirmation hearings, and (b) their appointment by a criminal president.

The sooner any and all of these six people are removed from the Court the better. The sooner Congress and President Biden can expand the Court to match the number of circuit courts again the better.

Until then we're in big trouble.

 

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