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No Debate.

The final debate of 2020 should be remembered as the night Joe Biden debated while a chattering Donald John Trump spewed desperate empty lies.

The moderator asked question after question. Biden defined the problem posed, offered his solution. Trump often showed no understanding of the problem (even admitting it on several occasions) and resorted to the same tired lies (often repeating them within the same answer).

There should be no debate: Joe Biden should be our next president.

On the virus. Joe Biden wants to follow science. He urged masks be worn: a message any political figure should be harping on as often as possible, even this far into the pandemic. He knows a lot of people have been hurt by the virus and by failed efforts to contain it. He wants to do the job right, not just lie about it and promise miracles that never occur.

On the economy. Joe Biden wants to build new industry, expanding clean energy production that will go hand-in-hand with a better electric grid, will help us build the infrastructure for the next 100 years. He does believe high-incomes and corporations should pay more taxes, because while public debt is a tool, it should be used wisely.

On healthcare. Joe Biden wants to add a public option, so that those who aren’t on Medicaid, because their states rejected a no-brainer policy, can still get coverage, so that those who go on the ACA website (or state exchanges) have another choice that will ensure competition.

On immigration. Joe Biden knows that America needs people to come in, to build new families, to build new businesses. We thrive when we can have an orderly and well-run immigration system that makes proper room for labor both skilled and unskilled. But he also offers education and other tools to citizens, so that even as immigrants join us, we can all fit into the American jigsaw puzzle.

On foreign policy. Joe Biden wants to build relationships with our allies, to expand the reach of democracy across the globe so that, come some sunny day, malign actors currently dictating to their countries are replaced by civic-minded governments that care for their people, their neighbors, and the world. We should be working with the world on this pandemic, and we will need to work with them even after, to better prepare for the next one.

On racism. Joe Biden understands the stupidity of punishing our own people for the color of their skin, that it costs us our American spirit, it costs us jobs and economy, and it costs us untold opportunity for communal enrichment. It has to end. That means better law enforcement that respects human rights and civil rights. That means, bare minimum that his opponent fails at: acknowledge the problem.

On climate. Joe Biden understands the threat of global warming, rising seas, hurricanes, floods, fires. He wants to act to reduce it. He wants to clean up pollution other than carbon pollution, too. While carbon fuels are currently part of both our economy and our energy mix, that’s got to phase out over time. It may not get to zero for some time, but our carbon budget has to become net zero pretty quick. Those who work in affected industries know this to be true, and pretending that it can be otherwise is fantasy. But their industries and their workers can take responsibility and make the transition less stressful and more managed if they so choose.

On America. Joe Biden knows the promise America stands for, and he wants to try to help fulfill that promise. He wants us to feel at home in our own nation, to work together to make it as good as it can be.


Donald John Trump? I have no idea what he knows, wants, or understands. There was no debate. There was Joe Biden, giving real answers to questions, and there was the other guy, doing nothing of the sort. That was his choice.

The election is a week from Tuesday. Please vote. Please make your choice.

Biden’s Vice-Presidential Choice

With the choice of Biden’s running mate coming soon, some thoughts on that choice and office.

Some numbers: America has had a total of 48 vice presidents. Of those, 14 became president, either through election or succession. Of those 14, only two were vice presidents to presidents who had gone on to be elected president. (Those were President Jefferson (served under President John Adams, who had been vice president under President Washington) and President Ford (served under President Nixon, who had been vice president under President Eisenhower).)

The ability to continue on in the stead of a president is absolutely the most essential role and duty of the vice president, and that should be the primary factor in choosing a partner for the 2020 ticket: someone that can take over. That’s more true as there are indications that Biden would not seek a second term if elected, which would put more weight on this pick being an exception to that rule.

One of Biden’s benefits, having been vice president, is that he knows the job. He knows the Senate, and he knows the ceremony. He’s been steeped in the day-to-day politics without being in a particularly accountable or involved position. He’s had the confidence of the president, ridden in the front passenger seat while the president drove, ready to steer if he fell out.

After readiness to lead, the pick does several things for a campaign. The all-important fundraising, for one. Most politicians have a set of go-to donors, some of whom will already have communicated how much more they could give, should their favorite daughter be tapped.

Then there’s support in states, regions, or with particular groups the candidate needs to carry. This depends on the race, but is usually at least a partial factor in every choice for vice president, even if it’s not the main one. An offshoot of this, for current officeholders, is what will become of their old job. If they’re a senator, will their seat be safe?

Surrogacy is also a big part of the pick. Can they campaign well? Draw a crowd? Can they gain access to venues the main candidate either doesn’t want to, or wouldn’t be as well received in? Do they have any rhetorical specialties? Second languages?


Biden will announce his choice sometime this week. It should be interesting to see the rollout, given the otherwise odd nature of this election so far.

Evidence and Allegations

Some thoughts about allegations against politicians and those in power.

There has been an allegation that in the early 1990s Joe Biden sexually assaulted a staffer. This post offers some thoughts on that and the larger problem.

First, Associate Justice Kavanaugh. He was accused of past wrongdoing during his confirmation hearings, and the Republicans in the Senate, along with the White House, blocked any real investigation into the matter. This is a sick pattern among Republicans, of blocking information about matters big and small. The Republican party is a shadow party, content to hide from the light of day all sorts of important information vital to the functioning of capitalism and democracy. So long as it’s not about a Democrat. Indeed, Mitch McConnell has called on Biden to release his Senate papers, while he and the White House blocked the release of thousands of pages of relevant information during the Kavanaugh hearings. To this day, I still do not have enough information to judge whether the allegations against Kavanaugh were true.

Now, Biden. As it stands, I do not have sufficient information to decide whether to believe the allegation. The claims of corroboration do not actually corroborate, but merely repeat. There were no additional details or indications of past details being offered by the people the allegator allegedly told of the incident.

I find it problematic to believe accusations without evidence. That’s not to say I disbelieve the claims, but it is to say I hold in my mind the capacity to place unproven claims in a space dedicated to them. And that’s how my mind is going to operate because there are plenty of things I cannot determine the truth of, at least yet, and I do not also find evidence to dismiss them entirely.

I think that having an independent law firm look through the relevant files and releasing any that apply to the circumstances is reasonable. I think the same should be done for Donald John Trump’s files and the accusations against him. And McConnell can release his own Senate files. But double standards are something I have no interest in. The Republicans who seek to dig into Biden while they hide under the table are public failures and the princelings of loserdom.

Going forward, the reasonable advice that movements like #MeToo should offer is that anyone who has been told by a friend, neighbor, coworker, or other familiar party of serious wrongdoing, sexual or otherwise, should seek out a lawyer to conduct a video recording with a court reporter present. They would make a firm record of the retelling of the telling, including questioning by the lawyer, to be kept in confidence should the need arise in the future to attest to having been told of an incident. That’s prudence, and it would be much more corroborative than anything offered in this instance (or in the allegations against Kavanaugh, for that matter). Nonprofits that specialize in this area can and should work to develop criteria to that end and a process to be followed.

Either we formalize the process, or we continue to entertain allegations and make judgments based on blurry pictures. I’m obviously in favor of formalization.

There are numerous benefits to such a process, and other than the risk of the material being leaked (which would find punitive effects for whatever lawyer allowed that to happen), the defects are few if any.


The allegation against Biden is serious, but without some evidence that is more than an allegation, it would be impossible for me to believe it. I understand others’ judgments work differently and I respect that. My own judgment is my own and is not to say others’ approaches are wrong.

The DNC (and the RNC, for that matter) should, however, have some formal processes in place to investigate any allegations and to, if warranted, replace defective candidates. Voters do at least deserve the reassurance that if details emerge that disqualify a candidate for office, they will not be left holding the bag for that malfeasance.

As for the likes of those who hide from the light like Mitch McConnell, while calling for it only to be shined upon political opponents, one can only hope that the voters of their states wise up and turn them away from their service.

The election is in 26 weeks (half a year).