Decency

All the evidence indicates that Joe Biden is a decent human being. A cynic or a Republican might say it’s all an act. They often find it hard to accept reality.

Last night at the Democratic convention, 13-year old Brayden Harrington appeared in a video talking about how Biden helped him with his stutter. You may have already seen it.

Their original meeting in February in New Hampshire deserves to be seen too (you might have to do an extra click to see the video):

Biden meets Brayden

Every time we elect a president, people say it doesn’t matter who wins. Nobody should say that this year.

It’s All on the Ballot

Here and now I give you my word, if you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.

United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.

This is a life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and most importantly, who we want to be – that’s all on the ballot.

Yesterday, I posted the former president’s speech at this week’s online Democratic National Convention. Therefore, it’s only fair that I post the next president’s too. Joe Biden’s speech was vigorous, intelligent and delivered with feeling. It was also the shortest Democratic acceptance speech since Walter Mondale’s in 1984. Joe is fine. We desperately need him in the White House.

“Four More Years Are Unthinkable”

Another Republican admits the truth. He is Miles Taylor, former Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security. His job included trying to keep the president informed about national security issues.

He also expressed his views for The Washington Post:

After serving for more than two years in the Department of Homeland Security’s leadership during the Txxxx administration, I can attest that the country is less secure as a direct result of the president’s actions.

Like many Americans, I had hoped that Dxxxx Txxxx, once in office, would soberly accept the burdens of the presidency — foremost among them the duty to keep America safe. But he did not rise to the challenge. Instead, the president has governed by whim, political calculation and self-interest.

I wasn’t in a position to judge how his personal deficiencies affected other important matters, such as the environment or energy policy, but when it came to national security, I witnessed the damning results firsthand.

The president has tried to turn DHS, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, into a tool used for his political benefit. He insisted on a near-total focus on issues that he said were central to his reelection — in particular building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. Though he was often talked out of bad ideas at the last moment, the president would make obviously partisan requests of DHS, including when he told us to close the California-Mexico border during a March 28, 2019, Oval Office meeting — it would be better for him politically, he said, than closing long stretches of the Texas or Arizona border — or to “dump” illegal immigrants in Democratic-leaning sanctuary cities and states to overload their authorities, as he insisted several times.

Txxxx’s indiscipline was also a constant source of frustration. One day in February 2019, when congressional leaders were waiting for an answer from the White House on a pending deal to avoid a second government shutdown, the president demanded a DHS phone briefing to discuss the color of the wall. He was particularly interested in the merits of using spray paint and how the steel structure should be coated. Episodes like this occurred almost weekly.

The decision-making process was itself broken: Txxxx would abruptly endorse policy proposals with little or no consideration, by him or his advisers, of possible knock-on effects. That was the case in 2018 when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced, at the White House’s urging, a “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute anyone who crossed the border illegally. The agencies involved were unprepared to implement the policy, causing a disastrous backlog of detentions that ultimately left migrant parents and their children separated.

Incredibly, after this ill-conceived operation was rightfully halted, in the following months the president repeatedly exhorted DHS officials to restart it and to implement a more deliberate policy of pulling migrant families apart en masse, so that adults would be deterred from coming to the border for fear of losing their children. The president was visibly furious on multiple occasions when my boss, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, refused.

Top DHS officials were regularly diverted from dealing with genuine security threats by the chore of responding to these inappropriate and often absurd executive requests, at all hours of the day and night. One morning it might be a demand to shut off congressionally appropriated funds to a foreign ally that had angered him, and that evening it might be a request to sharpen the spikes atop the border wall so they’d be more damaging to human flesh (“How much would that cost us?”). Meanwhile, Txxxx showed vanishingly little interest in subjects of vital national security interest, including cybersecurity, domestic terrorism and malicious foreign interference in U.S. affairs.

How can you run a huge organization under those conditions? You can’t. At DHS, daily management of its 250,000 employees suffered because of these frequent follies, putting the safety of Americans at risk.

The president has similarly undermined U.S. security abroad. His own former national security adviser John Bolton made the case so convincingly with his recent book and public accounts that there is little to add, other than to say that Bolton got it right. Because the commander in chief has diminished America’s influence overseas, today the nation has fewer friends and stronger enemies than when Txxxx took office.

Txxxx has also damaged the country in countless ways that don’t directly involve national security but, by stoking hatred and division, make Americans profoundly less safe.

The president’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic is the ultimate example. In his cavalier disregard for the seriousness of the threat, Txxxx failed to make effective use of the federal crisis response system painstakingly built after 9/11. Years of DHS planning for a pandemic threat have been largely wasted. Meanwhile,  more than 165,000 Americans have died.

It is more than a little ironic that Txxxx is campaigning for a second term as a law-and-order president. His first term has been dangerously chaotic. Four more years of this are unthinkable.

Unquote.

The numbers are getting too big to comprehend, but, as The New York Times reported this week, “the true coronavirus toll in the U.S. has already surpassed 200,000”.

An Argument for Vice President Warren

Joe Biden has promised to announce his pick for Vice President in a few weeks. A poll last month suggested that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the first choice among Democratic voters. It’s interesting to note that she was also the first choice (by a slimmer margin) among Black Democrats. Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, a Black man who prefers Sen. Kamala Harris for the job, has written about one Black voter, his Aunt Gloria, who wants Biden to choose Warren.

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Now two Black activists, Angela Peoples and Phillip Agnew, make an argument for Warren in the same paper:

America is on fire, and Joe Biden faces a choice. The spark may have been the brutal killing of George Floyd, but the current awakening is about more than police violence. Black communities around the country are responding to decades of policies and practices that constrain and destroy black lives: wealth-stripping, redlining, school closures, poverty-wage jobs, voter suppression and gentrification. The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the ways in which racialized capitalism leaves black and brown Americans disproportionately exposed to dangers, from hazardous working conditions to crowded housing to underfunded and overburdened health-care facilities.

The former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee already has committed to picking a woman as his running mate. Against the backdrop of the growing movement for black liberation, he’s been encouraged to select a potential governing partner from a list of qualified black women . . .

But if Biden is committed to choosing a running mate who consistently challenges the status quo on behalf of working people, particularly in the black community, who offers detailed policy prescriptions to remake our economy and strengthen our democracy, and who has clearly articulated the centrality of race, gender and class in the persistence of structural inequality, his choice doesn’t automatically have to be black. And the potential candidate who obviously meets that standard isn’t black. It’s Elizabeth Warren.

In September 2015 — nearly five years before Floyd was killed — Sen. Warren (Mass.) spoke passionately: “None of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets,” she said. “This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter.”

Today, she marches with protesters. “Being anti-racist means fighting for anti-racist public policy,” she has continued to insist. “Being race neutral just won’t work.”

Before she was an elected official, Warren had established a track record of speaking inconvenient truths about racism and taking on the fights that matter. She identified the factors that keep working families in cycles of economic insecurity and the specific role that racism plays in trapping black and brown communities. In a 2004 law review article on the economics of race, she explained: “The economic security that comes with arrival in the middle class is divided by race, leaving Hispanic and black families at far more risk than their white counterparts.” In the popular book she authored with her daughter, “The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke,” Warren laid out her view that “subprime lending, payday loans, and the host of predatory, high-interest loan products that target minority neighborhoods should be called by their true names: legally sanctioned corporate plans to steal from minorities.”

She had a lead role in founding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in its relatively short tenure has pursued a series of enforcement actions against institutions that have discriminated against black and brown borrowers.

As a presidential candidate, Warren’s “Working Agenda for Black America” outlined a student loan debt cancellation plan with a goal of reducing the black-white racial wealth gap by 25 percent. She called for tackling the deplorable black maternal mortality rate by rewarding health systems that keep black mothers healthier. And she proposed the creation of a small-business equity fund with $7 billion to provide grants to entrepreneurs of color.

Along with several of her Senate and House colleagues, Warren introduced a bill calling for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publish data on covid-19 testing, treatment and outcomes that is disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, age, primary language, socioeconomic status and other demographic characteristics. On Tuesday, Warren and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting HHS reporting on the administration’s efforts to address health disparities, including those affected by covid-19. The Trump administration’s lack of planning for the pandemic and its economic consequences has been catastrophic for black America.

No politician is perfect; we haven’t always agreed with Warren’s positions or politics. . . But she has demonstrated what is possible when politicians commit to working with social movements to achieve our shared goals. When Black Womxn For challenged the language she used to describe people serving life sentences, she responded by meeting with black women activists, apologizing and updating her policy plans. One lesser-known example: Warren listened to black farmers and amended her agriculture policy to address their concerns.

Warren’s willingness and ability to listen and respond have earned her the respect of many black leaders and thinkers. After Ta-Nehisi Coates penned his acclaimed essay, “The Case for Reparations,” Warren reached out to Coates to discuss his work. In an interview last year, Coates expressed his view that of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, Warren was the most serious about reparations. Throughout her campaign, she prioritized building relationships with black women leaders by incorporating their demands into her platform . . .

In the midst of this historic uprising that has many calling for a complete overhaul of the criminal legal system, it speaks volumes that Warren’s political career isn’t tied to the Jim Crow system of mass incarceration, and her plan to reform it was one of the strongest in the Democratic primary. Her latest legislative victory — getting Senate Republicans to stand up to President Trump by approving her measure requiring the military to rid bases of Confederate names — is another example of her commitment to challenging racism and her ability to get things done.

. . . [We are part] of the movement for black liberation that is shaping the consciousness of a generation, and we are convinced that only elected servants with a people-centered vision will compel our movement to fight at the polls the way we have in the streets.

Not only will Warren’s commitment to racial equity and challenging oppressive systems register with a rising generation of voters; her record shows that if she becomes vice president, she will remain committed to an agenda that lifts the experiences and leadership of the most marginalized.

Representation is important. When generations of white supremacy have kept black folks from proportional representation in the highest offices at all levels of government, undoubtedly it means something when one of us shatters the glass ceiling, clearing space for others to follow. However, the fires that burn in the streets of cities across the country will not be put out simply by putting a black name on the ticket. Without transformative policy, representation alone is insufficient.

If Democrats’ response to the reckoning against systemic racism is simply to nominate a black woman for vice president, no matter her politics, they will affirm the skepticism of young and progressive voters and rob this country of another opportunity to enact the sweeping changes needed for our communities to thrive. Voters want, and America needs, someone who has shown the courage to take on the corrupting forces of racism and greed. Warren has.

Unquote.

By the way, Post columnist Paul Waldman says that “if you aren’t filled with rage at [our president], you aren’t paying attention”. So many reasons make it crucial to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in November and severely damage the Republican Party for years to come.