Friday, February 09, 2024

Letters, I send letters....

The American Friends Service Committee recently had an on-line letter to Congress. As I usually do in such cases, I re-wrote the text to"personalize" it. This is how it came out.


I call on you to demand a cease-fire and humanitarian access in Gaza by endorsing H.Res. 786 “calling for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine” or a Senate equivalent. 

As part of that, I want you to oppose new military assistance for Israel, including the supplemental funding request under consideration, until there is clear progress toward an ultimate resolution that respects the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.

According to data provided by the AFSC, since October 7, over 27,000 Palestinians have been killed, 40% of them children. Another 10,000 are estimated to be buried under the rubble. Over 2 million people have been displaced from their homes, and over 70% of homes and other structures in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed. 

The on-going Israeli blockade of Gaza, described more than once as "the world's largest outdoor prison," worsened by the intensified lockdown and now compounded by the US ending aid for UNRWA, has lead to shortages of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies. It is estimated that 85% of the population in Gaza is on the verge of famine.

A cease-fire is needed NOW.

The vicious, bloody attack by Hamas on October 7 deserves no defense and will get none from me. But neither will I defend Israel’s actions in Gaza that so far have killed more than 20 times as many Palestinians and which have been found by the International Court of Justice to plausibly amount to genocide

The lesson of October 7 that should be learned is that further military attacks will bring neither peace nor security for Israel or Israelis. Historically, efforts to militarily "stamp out" a group such as Hamas almost invariably fail, leading instead to decades of suffering for both sides - as this one long since has - that only end when the causes of the conflict are meaningfully addressed.

With that in mind, I ask you this:

    - Given that our Declaration of Independence claims the right, even the duty, of an oppressed people to resistance, and
    - given the existence of Israel is based on the world's recognition of the right of a people to a homeland, and
    - given that you are not going to deny Palestinians both the right of resistance and the right to a homeland,

what is it that you propose Palestinians could and should now do to advance the cause of an independent Palestinian state, particularly now that the Israeli government has openly declared it will "never" agree to that?

Note carefully: You cannot say "No terrorism" because I did not ask what they should not do, but what they should. The lack of a practical answer to that question condemns Palestinians to on-going suffering and oppression and Israelis to continued incidents of terrorism

But for the moment, for this instant, here is what is most important: Please, please do what’s right. Call for a cease-fire and humanitarian access - NOW.


Some of that, I know, repeats things I have said before. They bear repeating.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Okay, I feel old

So I read that it appears that Kyrsten Sinema is not running for re-election. The observation is based on her doing what is for a Senate race a minimal amount of fundraising as opposed to previous years.

That’s no loss, in my opinion, but the point is that after the article saying she is spending "outsized amounts" on security, there was this paragraph:

Security has been an obviously special concern for the senator ever since she hid in a bathroom to avoid a confrontation with activists. “She’s Howard Hughes-level paranoid,” one former staffer told the New York Post, referring to the mentally ill entrepreneur portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Aviator.”

In other words, while I would have deleted everything after the last comma, the author felt it necessary to cite a 2004 movie starring a well-known now-49-year-old actor to make sure the article's audience understood the reference.

:sigh: Best get me my lap robe and cup of Postum. My joints are achin' in this chill.

The Rules

Recently, I saw a video about the "Reverse Gish Gallop." The Gish Gallop is a verbal tactic based on the premise that it almost always takes longer to rebut a claim than it does to make it, and, as you likely know, consists of firing out so many claims and charges so fast that there is no way the target can adequately refute of even contest all of them.

People came to expect this so tried to prepare rapid-fire responses to expected claims. The "Reverse Gish Gallop" consists of picking out something you said, some error no how minor, and attack that as if it discredited every other rebuttal you made or at least distracting attention from the fact you had presented them.

That reminded me of some things in what I call my "Rules for Right-wingers," which I post from time to time as reminders. Since the last time was about four years ago, I figured this presented an opportunity to do it again.

The fact is, flakes, nutcases, paranoids, and other assorted bozos are almost the totality of the present right-wing and almost the totality of the national Republican party apart from the bigots and bosses whose only interests are of the self kind. For some time I had observed with varying degrees of annoyance and bemusement the predictable tactics of the wingers in debates - or rather, their tactics in avoiding actual debates. But I finally came to a point where I had had it with the evasions, the dodges, the schemes and slime that make up winger discussions and began assembling a list of those tactics.

So here it is, the latest always-subject-to-expansion-or-refinement list of wingnut arguing tactics and operating procedures. They are listed simply in the order in which they got added. Thoughts (and suggestions for new rules) are welcome.


Rule #1: Attack, attack, attack!
In fact, try to level so many attacks so fast that your opponent never gets to make a criticism of their own because they are so busy trying to catch up to your attacks. However, don't forget to be deeply shocked and offended if anyone on the left responds in kind.

Rule #2: Deny, deny, deny!

Doesn't matter if it's something undeniable, deny it anyway.

Rule #3: When facts are beyond even your ability to deny, change the subject.
This can be done in various ways, for example:
- Introduce irrelevant details on a tangential point.
- Pluck out from what your opponent said an individual phrase you think you can attack, even if it's one that was just tossed out offhandedly, and treat that as if it's the focus of the entire discussion.
- Tie up the discussion in piles of minutia to the point where everyone, including your opponent, loses track of the actual issue.

Rule #4: Issue a lengthy, ranting denunciation of "the left."
This often can be initiated with "whataboutism," responding to criticisms by ignoring them and going "Yeah? Well what about" whatever seems most useful at the moment. Try to include the words "hypocrites" and/or "hypocrisy," arguing that the left can't legitimately criticize the right (because any such criticism is by your definition hypocritical) while insisting that the right can continue to criticize the left. (Note: Where possible, include the phrase "you liberals" or better yet, "you libtards.")

Rule #5: Make the particular stand for the whole.
Find something offensive or silly some liberal or leftist, somewhere, sometime, said or did and label it as identifying the entire left half of the American political spectrum. Demand that your opponent spend their time denouncing that example rather than discussing the original topic.

Rule #6: Never answer a question.
When faced with one, ignore it and respond with a question, preferably on a different point. If possible, the question should be accusatory. If you do not get an answer, repeat the question and loudly demand it be answered while continuing to ignore the original question you were asked. If you do get an answer, ignore it. If necessary, drop the matter without acknowledging having gotten a reply; if possible, repeat the question, insisting it has not been answered, even if it has.

Rule #7: No amount of proof is enough.
Demand every remotely questionable assertion by your opponent be proved in every conceivable detail, right down to dates, times, and places, complete with signed affidavits. Refer to all factual assertions by your opponents as "just your opinion" even if the level of proof you demanded is supplied.

Rule #8: Assert unsourced statistics and facts with great assurance.
Or, more appropriately these days, assert "alternative facts." Reply to requests for proof by saying some version of "You can look it up." You thereby demand that your opponents do the work of trying to prove your argument for you.

Rule #9: Frame the debate in false choices.
For example, "Do you support socialism or freedom?"

Rule #10: Accuse the accuser.
You could call this "I'm rubber and you're glue" method: Insist, even in the absence of any foundation, that any criticism of you actually applies to your opponent. For example, if someone notes you're avoiding a debate, insist "You're the one who won't debate!" Faced with examples of right-wingers lying, reply "That fits you lefties to a T!" If something you said is challenged as bigoted, say "You're being intolerant!" or better yet, "You're the real racist!"

Rule #11: When a claim has been debunked, continue to use it nonetheless.
When it has been debunked so thoroughly and completely that continuing to use it is counterproductive, stop claiming it for a time, after which assert it again as if the debunking had never happened. For numerous examples where this can be found, see climate change denialists.

Rule #12: Never accept responsibility.
Never, never, never admit any responsibility for the meaning or impact of your own words. If you want guidance, see almost any GOPper statement on January 6.

Rule #13: When all else has failed - and even when it hasn't - lie.
Just make crap up. Important: Keep repeating it. See Rule #11.

Rule #14: When you fear a contrary point may be raised, shout.
If that contrary point is a good one, shout very loudly. Your point may not get heard, but neither will your opponent's. (This is primarily for use on television.)

Rule #15: Seize control of the Clock of History.
Choose the period of time most advantageous to your argument and insist that any event outside that time frame, either before it or after it, is irrelevant and must not be considered.

Rule #16: "Both Sides Now."
If the behavior of some rught-wingers is so undeniably bad that it can't be explained away, airily dismiss it with "Both sides do it." Freely employ false equivalencies.

Rule #17: All debate stops when you win - and only when you win.
Remember that there are only two responses to anything in contention: It's "up for debate" and "We won, the debate is over, shut up." Gun control provides a good example: In the 2008, the Supreme Court, for the first time, held that owning a gun is an individual right. Even since then, the pro-gun claim has been "The Supreme Court has ruled. The debate is over." But for the 69 years preceding that, the controlling precedent was that the 2nd Amendment was about a collective right of collective self-defense, not an individual one. In all those years, no one on the right ever said "The Supreme Court has ruled. The debate is over. We lost."

Rule #18: If you can't win by the rules, change them.
A great example of this is the recent attempt by the GOPper-controlled Ohio legislature to toughen the requirements for an amendment to the state constitution in an attempt to head of protection of reproductive rights.

Rule #19: Intellectual consistency and honesty are for wusses and losers.
Should need no example, as there are new ones every day, but I happen to favor this classic: Late in evening of election day, 2012, it looked for a time that Obama might lose the popular vote to Mitt Romney despite having won the electoral vote handily. Tweetie-pie tweeted that such a result would be "a total sham and a travesty" and the electoral college is "a disaster for a democracy."

Rule #20: Sitzfleisch.
It's German for "sitting flesh" and it goes back to the days before chess clocks put time constraints on games and players would sometimes win by simply taking so long to move that their opponent would either give up or become so tired from the wait that they would make foolish moves and lose. More generally it now means winning by virtue of sheer, unmitigated, stubbornness. Right-wingers are past masters at that.

Rule #21: Play the victim.
Whatever it is, the right-wing claims they are the real victims. They are the ones facing discrimination, being oppressed, whose free speech is imperiled, who are being called names, the ones who can't get a decent break.


Okay, that's all the rules I have now, ones which collectively show up right-wingers for what they are: a bunch of selfish, whining, crybabies only interested in their own power and privilege. Which is why playing the victim comes so easily to them.

I'll wrap this up with an observation, one I've made before in discussing this: I frankly expect many of us have at some time or another been guilty of one or more of these sins in the course of a debate, especially if it got heated. But occasional sins in the heat of the moment is not what this is about. This is about a consistent pattern by the right of evasion and deceit. It is being an intellectual coward. It is about being a bully. It is about being a liar.

It is about being a right-winger.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Watch this!

 Trust me. I mean it. Watch this.

It will be worth the 26 minutes of your life.

Why would I do it?

Robert Reich had a poll up about the just-passed bill about the Child Tax Credit. He noted that half of the funding would go toward expanding the tax credit and half would got to tax cuts for the rich and Big Business, resulting in an average increase of 0.3% in after-tax income for beneficiaries and 0.5% for the rich. The question was if you would vote for the bill.

The choices were Yes, it helps the poor; No, it increases income inequality; and Other (in comments). I voted Other and this was my comment:

I would vote for it, but with great and vocal reluctance, using it as an occasion to point out as loudly as I could (not just on the floor but through social media and press statements) the disgusting, stomach-wrenching greed and moral bankruptcy of the rich, those "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinners" whose only concern is "Gimmie more! Gimmie more!" and often have quite literally more money than they can use and so buy things from apartment-building-sized yachts to private islands to joyrides into the upper atmosphere just to have things to spend it on.

That, and just as loudly pointing out that the very fact that an average income increase of $60 a year potentially could make a difference in the lives of number of people is undeniable proof of just how screwed up, sick, and wretched our economy has become.

We regard the "gilded age" as a time of ostentatious wealth and extreme poverty. We are facing such a time again, one where being a multimillionaire is to be small fry, billionaires seem ordinary, and centibillionaires (with the arrival of the first trillionaire in sight) are presented by the media as affable folk heroes. Meanwhile, nearly 40 million among us remain in poverty with the "official" rate varying between 11 and 15 percent for the last nearly 60 years, some among us so poor that, again, $60 a freaking year makes an actual difference, and some legislators propose to deal with this by revoking child labor laws.

All in line with George Wills' statement "'Back to 1900' is a serviceable summation of the conservatives' goal."

We need to take that sense we have of the "gilded age" as being tacky, distasteful, and apply it to the present and add the moral outrage that radicals and reformers expressed at the time. We need to make possession of that level of wealth something shameful. We need, that is, to stop simply referring to economic inequality and instead make it both a moral campaign and the central economic issue of our age.

So why I would vote for this bill? Because for all the moral and ethical faults it represents, it does provide some benefits to the poorer among us. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, it would benefit some 16 million children in the first year and could raise over 500,000 children above the poverty line when fully in effect. (Bear in mind the $60 after-tax figure is an average for everyone eligible to apply for the benefit, including those above the poverty line, with shrinking benefits as income rises.)

So I would vote yes for the sake of the small benefit it does give those in need while expressing my thorough disgust at the shameless, immoral, inhumane, avarice of those who put me in the soul-killing position of having to do it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently vetoed an anti-trans care bill, declaring that it's up to parents to make medical decisions for their children. He was applauded by supporters of trans rights.

But a few days later he utterly betrayed those transgender people and their supporters by issuing Executive Orders containing proposed rules that cover much the same ground as the bill he vetoed and are in some ways worse. What follows is a blending of my response to a video on the matter and my more formal comment submitted to Ohio on the proposed rules.

PS: The veto was overridden. There was speculation that DeWine issued the Executive Orders hoping to head off an override; no word yet on if the override will lead to the rules being withdrawn or if he'll seek to combine the worst of both.

For more on what the rules say, check out the invaluable Erin Reed.

Anyway, this is what I said:
The proposed rules stand in stark contrast to the positions and standards of care expressed by, among others, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Endocrine Society, and WPATH (World Professional Association of Transgender Health) - that is, they ignore, indeed reject, the expert scientific and clinical judgments of those who are the leading experts in the field of gender-affirming care in favor of politically-driven posturing and fearmongering.

Rather then protecting anyone's health or safety, these regulations - which are in several ways worse than the bill the Governor vetoed - are a transgender version of TRAP (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) laws, a method used in anti-choice states to effectively ban abortions without admitting to it by putting more and more restrictions on clinics, often involving medically-unnecessary requirements, to the point where few or even no clinics in a state were capable of meeting them all. That is, don't ban abortions, just make them impossible to get.

The goal is the same here: presenting a facade of preserving access to gender-affirming care while in actuality creating a maze of roadblocks, bottlenecks, and pointless requirements with the effect of making obtaining that care all but impossible - that is, to accomplish by regulation what cannot accomplished by law or, more to the point, accomplish by trickery what can't be accomplished legitimately. I label Gov. Mike DeWine a conscious hypocrite, hoping to get away with talking out of both sides of his mouth, saying on one side "I vetoed the bill" and on the other "I made it effectively impossible to get the care," and using a smokescreen of "protecting youth" as a means to cover an attack all transgender people of all ages.

These proposed rules are, in sum, uninformed and misguided at best, unethical to the point of outright cruelty at worst.

Amend that: It gets worse. Multiple studies have found that obtaining gender-affirming care leads to improved mental health and significant reductions in suicide attempts and actual suicides. Which means that the result of regulations like these is that people will die. We can't say just who, just when, or precisely how many, but based on the data, on the facts, we can say with high assurance that People. Will. Die. Endorsing these rules is endorsing suicide.

I urge these proposed regulations be withdrawn in their entirety and any new such rules be drafted only in consultation with WPATH and other professional organizations dealing with the medical and mental health care issues involved.

Or at the very least have the sufficient honesty to drop the hypocrisy and admit your goal is the total erasure from society of transgender people.

This was not the first attempt this year to deny health care and human rights to members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to the LGBTQ+ Legislative Tracking 2024 site, as of January 14 there have been 219 bills introduced across 25 states and Congress related to community issues. Not every one of these is anti-LGBTQ+ in general or anti-transgender in particular, indeed some may be positive, and of those that are negative, many will not pass or will be combined into a package because they are essentially duplicates. And it’s worthy of note that most of the total are being introduced in states that already have laws denying LGBTQ+ rights; for example, Florida, already so hostile to trans folks that it’s listed as “Do Not Travel,” accounts for 21 of the bills. And some of them have been introduced in states such as Maryland and New Jersey where it can safely be said that their chances of passing are effectively nil.

So the numbers alone do not tell the story, but they do indicate that this onslaught against human rights is not abating. This remains no time to relax - because, remember even if only a small percentage of these bills pass, they still have real consequences for the people affected. But even so, while the infection is not abating, it at least may no longer be spreading.

But that begs the question of what is driving the continued attacks, particularly considering many of these bills amount to little more than piling on. So what combination of ignorance, paranoia, (usually religious) fanaticism, and cold, exploitive, cynical, political ambition is driving it?

That’s a valid question, but it’s one for another time. Hopefully a soon-type time.

Welcome to Fish-Wrapping 101

Or maybe 404.

I have written a number of times in the past about how we are uninformed, malinformed, and misinformed by our mainstream news media and on the impacts on our political discourse that result (some examples here).

Our latest example comes to us from Newsweek. It’s not as egregious as some, where the bias lies in shading and emphasis, but it is so ridiculous that it deserves mention.

One of the things that media outlets, particularly print outlets, know full well is that a good many people never get past the first graph of a news article. That’s why the standard of “the 5 Ws” (who, what, when, where, why) exists; the idea is to get as many of the basic facts as high in the article as possible, if possible in the first graph, to ensure that the greatest number of readers will have them - because that’s often all many readers see and so form the impression they take away from it.

It’s also why the headline is important, as it should (and in practice does) frame the substance of the issue in a single line or two. One thing as readers we should be wary of is that the headline we see on an article from an outside source, for example on a news aggregator or a reprint of a wire service report, may not be the one the original source put on it and so may have a different slant or emphasis than was intended or even present in that original.

So know that in this case, that is not an issue. Newsweek is the original source and the headline involved is theirs.

Okay, the story.

On January 9, there were a series of 13 special elections in Virginia, two for state Senate seats, 11 for ones in the state House of Delegates. How did Newsweek report the results? Here is the headline and first paragraph:

Republicans Annihilate Democrats in Virginia Election Sweep
Republicans scored massive victories in elections held in Virginia on Tuesday, returning two GOP politicians to local legislature following the departure of the incumbents.
So what, beyond the hyperbole, is wrong?

Not one of those 13 races flipped a seat! Not one! The magazine took advantage of two large wins by GOPpers, one in the Senate and one in the House, to use “annihilate,” “sweep,” and “massive” to describe the overall result and focus the first 13 graphs of a 17-graph story on those two races.  Even that overstates it, as the 11 House races were mentioned just once, in the 14th graph, with the final three being about Glen Youngkin, a Biden-Trump poll, and that Newsweek had asked state parties for more comment.

As if that wasn’t enough, the two “big” wins weren’t all that big when you consider that one of the winners had run unopposed in his last race and the other was replacing a GOPper who had retired and also had run unopposed last time. (Thank you, Ballotpedia and Wikipedia.) To say these districts are overwhelmingly GOPper borders on understatement, so the size of the victories were no surprise.

Such is the state of too much of our national news media, where the search from drama frequently outweighs being informative or even making a stab at balance. There is an old saying among newspapers that “if it bleeds, it leads.” A modern version might be using “tricks for clicks” because “if it shocks, it rocks.”

For the moment, though, we have “Newsweak.”

Monday, January 15, 2024

Free Speech: $35,000 and up

A GOPper in the Florida Senate by the name of Jason Brodeur has introduced a bill, SB1780, "that would deal a devastating blow to freedom of speech in the Sunshine State" in the words of The New Republic.

The bill would make calling someone a racist, sexist, homophobe, or transphobe "defamation per se," that is, by definition, making them grounds for a civil suit of "at least" $35,000 plus attorney's fees and court costs. At the same time, it would restrict defenses available to the target of such a suit by, for example, limiting who could be considered a "public figure" and making it easier to find "actual malice" in the accusation.

In the case of a transphobic or homophobic bigot, as Erin Reed noted, it's even worse.

The bill says that in cases of "sexual orientation or gender identity," a person can't defend themselves against a suit by "citing a plaintiff’s constitutionally protected religious expression or scientific beliefs" (lines 135-145). What that means, in practical reality, is that truth is no defense.

Bigot: "Homosexuals should be killed!"
You: "You're a bigot."
Bigot: "I'm suing you for defamation."
You: "But it's true! You are a bigot!"
Bigot: "Doesn't matter, that's my 'constitutionally protected religious expression.' Pay up."

Upon reading about this bill, I fantasized about someone saying this during debate:

"If it please the Chair, I rise to propose a friendly amendment to my esteemed colleague's bill, one to which I'm sure he'll agree as it pursues the same object of his own. The amendment would add to his list of terms to be presumptively defamatory accusations of 'groomer' and 'pedophile' plus claims of connections to 'the deep state,' in each case whether directed at an individual, group, or organization. I will yield to Mr. Broder for his response."

It wouldn't be accepted, of course, but it would serve to make the actual purpose of the bill even clearer than it already was.

One other thing: The bill is almost a carbon copy of one introduced last session, which died in committee. Hopefully this one will meet the same fate.

But if this did pass and was challenged in court, don't be surprised if the defense included claiming there is no First Amendment issue because the accusations aren't banned, the state is doing nothing to impede your speech, it's merely a matter of defining the legal meaning of certain terms. If the response is that there's a penalty for using those terms, the comeback would be "Maybe so, but the state isn't the one imposing the penalty, so nothing to do with us."

This style of argument - don't actually do it, just enable others to sue over it and so impose self-censorship - is central to the "Don't Say Gay" bill and Florida has become saturated with it even though the roots, if I recall correctly, lie in a Texas bill about abortion.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Worth repeating

On a recent video, the poster mentioned how one thing that distinguishes the left and the right is that we want even those we politically oppose to obtain the help they need. That prompted me to pull this out which I know I have said in a few different ways but which I think bears repeating from time to time. This version is from 2011 but the original is from a letter to a friend the 1990s. Here we go:

It's the right that says "I," the left that says "we." It's the right that says "gimme," the left that says "we'll give." It's the right that says "compete," the left that says "cooperate."

Where the left says "us together," the right says "me first." Where the left says "hope," the right says "fear." Where the left says "you can come for help," the right says "you can go to hell."

Time after time after time, the left argues for choices that primarily benefit the needy. Time after time after time, the right argues for choices that primarily benefit the needless.

Time after time after time, when folks on the left benefit from their proposals it's because they're part of a broader community. Time after time after time, when folks on the right benefit from their proposals it's because they're part of a narrow clique.

It is the left, not the right, that knows that the real answer to Cain's question is "Yes."

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Wise up about "grow up"

Some recent polls have indicated a difficulty for Joe Biden's reelection chances in that young people in particular, a major area of support in 2020, are unenthusiastic about voting for him this time because they are upset with recent decisions and policies, particularly around Gaza, the Palestinians, and Israel.

And we have seen the thoroughly predictable response from several quarters among the party stalwarts: "Grow up!"

Well, I have some advice based on the experience of over 50 years of being one of the unrecognized, uncelebrated millions who have labored in the trenches of political activism.

You want to encourage people to vote for Biden despite their misgivings? Okay. First of all, DO NOT tell them to "grow up," you blithering idiot. It is rude, insulting, and condescending. It may make you feel extra-virtuous ("Look at me - I'm voting for Biden despite all my disagreements! See how politically mature I am?") but it won't do a damn bit of good. Put more simply, "Shut up and do what your betters tell you!" is not an argument. This is a mistake the Dems have made repeatedly, perhaps most disastrously in 1980 when they treated Ralph Nader voters as disobedient children to be scolded rather than adults to be persuaded and we got George Bush, AKA "Shrub," and all that entailed as a consequence.

The most important thing to do (as opposed to not do) if you want to convince someone overcome their reluctance to turn out for Biden is tell them why they should, meaning why they should vote for him, not just against Tweetie-pie, AKA The Great Orange Messiah. There certainly are positive arguments in his favor you can raise; COVID recovery aid, Build Back Better with its infrastructure and climate funding, the Inflation Reduction Act with its taxing the rich and start of negotiating drug prices, and student debt relief spring immediately to mind. None of them unqualified successes, but all undeniably better than what existed before.

Next, yes, compare him to Tweetie-pie but don't make that the sum total or even the focus of the argument. That's exactly the mistake the Dems made in 2016, when most of the campaign seemed to be "We're not that scumball Trump!" and we know how that worked out. Argue the "yes," not (at least not primarily) the "no," because resorting to "lesser of two evils" arguments are not going to fly.

At the same time, there are areas where the "lesser evil" can be argued and I am thinking specifically of Israel and Palestinians. Biden has not only failed to call for an immediate ceasefire, he has sent additional military aid to Israel, all as part of his "bear hug" strategy of holding Netanyahu close in the hope of being able to constrain him - a policy that has been a demonstrable, horrific, failure.

But where Biden has failed to constrain, Tweetie-pie would actively encourage. It's properly said you should not make the perfect the enemy of the good, but it is quite true that you can make the worse the enemy of the bad, the actively evil the enemy of the cruel failure.

Note that none of this addresses what is the biggest threat of this election: Tweetie-pie's unique threat to our ability to continue as a functioning democracy. And absolutely, after arguing for the "yes" and getting to the point of "Yeah, I suppose," then dive in with everything in your arsenal, including his increasingly-bizarre rants, his repeated praise of dictators, January 6, and Project 2025 and if you don't know what that is, look it up! (A few sources are offered at the end here.)

Look, the last major party general election presidential candidate I felt I really could believe in was George McGovern. There is nothing anyone can tell me about strategic voting or tactical voting or lesser-of-two-evils voting or even hold-your-nose voting. I have done them all at local, state, and national levels. For most of my voting life I have lived in one safely-blue state or another, so I usually could opt to vote third party without impacting the presidential outcome. But in 2020 I did and in 2024 I will again vote for Biden despite my disappointments and despite being in a safely blue state because I not only want Tweetie-pie to lose the electoral vote; I want him crushed in the popular vote. I want Johnson-Goldwater levels. I won't get them, but that's my target.

And sneering at those reluctant to vote for Biden to "grow up" is not going to get us anything toward that goal.

Some sources for Project 2025

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