Wednesday, September 30, 2020

First Presidential Debate Notes: The Morning After

(Some quick notes, taken during the debate. There's lots of knowledgeable commentary out there, and even the New York Times got it, but here's a few things I found significant.)

The Candidates


Showed himself prepared and knowledgeable. In climate and energy, where I have specific personal knowledge, I found him to be well-informed. If there is mental decline, it is not obvious.


  • Did not denounce white supremacism
  • Gave a shout out to the Proud Boys “Stand back and stand by.”
  • Refused to say he would accept an electoral loss.
  • Flat-out lied about Hunter Biden (and many other things, but that was striking.)
  • And all but said he would announce a vaccine in October, and none is close to ready.
  • Also said he was going to make the lame duck hell.


Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station)

“This is how Trump treats America. Trump doesn't listen. Trump is a bully. Trump talks over the experts, the courts, congress, and every citizen. You're looking right at it. How he treats Biden is how he treats YOU.” – Jim Wright, Facebook

Carl Bergstrom

“If everyone had been announcing for months that I would be debating a severely brain-damaged honey badger, and came prepared for a debate against a statesman but had no idea what to do with badgers, yes—I deserve a 4/10.” – tweet

Kurt Eichenwald

“From what I can tell, Trump locked down the wife beater and white supremacist vote tonight. Meanwhile, Biden won the vote of every frightened woman who has seen that look of rage in a man's eyes, everyone who has faced down a bully, & every decent person who cares about racism.” – tweet

Mark Hamill

"That debate was the worst thing I've ever seen & I was in The Star Wars Holiday Special." – tweet

Famous old snark

“Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon — it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.”–Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I Do Not Get Conservatives: Decency and Decorum and the Hurly Burly

A recent never-Trumper statement on the replacement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg hoped for a time of return to “decency and decorum” in US politics. 

I seriously Do Not Get conservatives. When in history has US politics or government been decent or decorous? In the aughts when President Bush lied us into a war? In the 1990s when a man who is now seated as a Supreme Court justice helped make sure we know all about Presidential blowjobs? In the 1980s when the consumer banking system collapsed? In the 1970s when a Presidential candidate committed treason to extend a war, and so win an election. In the tumultuous 1960s? I can go back and back and, while I can find many better times, but I can find none that can be called decent and decorous without leaving out the often-violent conflicts of the past.

I call on conservatives to come to reality.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

COVID-19: Sensible Things

If we were at all unified, we could do these things:
  1. Make COVID-19 tests widely available.
  2. Ramp up production of necessary medical supplies.
  3. Regulate the distribution of supplies. Especially, control profiteering.
  4. Put everyone in masks.
  5. Release as many low-level prisoners as possible and space out the remaining people in the prison population. It is much better to have these people out and social distancing, than having the prisons become centers of infection.
  6. Issue temporary visas to as many asylum applicants as possible. Drop ICE enforcement for all but the most egregious offenders. Same reason as for the prisoners.
  7. Start a crash program of workplace infection management. Assemble the necessary teams of industrial hygienists and work out rules and practices for the control of infection in workplaces.
  8. For working drivers, start a system of infection control and support.
  9. etc., etc. etc.

George W. Bush's Daddy Issues and the Constitution

We ought to be paying more attention to how much power the Presidency has and how poor we are picking presidents. George W. Bush’s daddy issues led him to destabilize the world. This ought never have happened. It ought not to have been possible for so much power to have been vested in a single person and, if so much power is vested in a single person, it ought to  be the best person we could find, not a ne'er-do-well son seeking to show he's as good as his father.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Joseph Robinette Biden's Schmooze-fu

Now I realize that Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is a politician and schmoozing is part of the job. But this:

His last visit was eight years ago, too. Then there's this:

And this:

 This goes above and beyond basic "shake hands and kiss babies" politics.

Biden, it seems, is not merely a schmoozer. He is a schmooze-master. This, I think, is how he has survived for so long. Biden is a master of getting people to feel he is one of them and, since group identity is the basis for the votes for a plurality of the electorate, it may just win him the Presidency.

People just don't vote on policy or, rather, only a minority votes on policy. Running on personality rather than policy also has the enormous advantage that, unless one is a complete jerk, there are not five million people all ready to pounce on the slightest error, argue over whether or not your health care plan or foreign policy or teddy bear protection plan is quite perfect.

Me, I'd prefer to know what he will do in office. But even he doesn't know. So, all right, then. He is at least no malignant narcissist like Trump.

I'll take it.