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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,490

Journal Archives

DU Needs to Pivot Off the Debates onto the Economy now.

Web sites like Democratic Underground have long stopped being partisan club houses and pep rallies. We play a real role in shaping the weeks political news narrative. The themes that we settle on to dominate discussion get taken note of beyond DU. The drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8% on Friday is our chance to turn the page on debate one, and undercut Romney on his core campaign strategy - damning the President on jobs.The jobs number is great for our side, and it is something the public gets immediately. It's time for increasing job growth to push debate number one out of the headlines.

I am not among those who think it was a mistake for the Left to criticize Obama's debate performance on Thursday. There are still three more national debates ahead of us and I think it helped the Obama team refocus on how to approach those to have gotten some stark unvarnished feedback from their own side on the last one. And DU also did what it always does best ; we trail blazed new attack lines against our opposition in our commentary about Romney's own debate performance. All in all I think we did well.

Now though it is time to move on. The Romney campaign would like nothing more than to gloss right over the jobs report and to keep replaying last Thursday night's debate instead. The President will castigate Romney in real time now, calling Romney on his lies is woven into Obama's stump speech. Our job now is to strengthen the narrative that America is back on track despite all of Mitt Romney's enthusiastic efforts to verbally derail it.

Romney should be asked this question: Why is the Dow Jones at a 5 year high? Is it because...

1) The economic recovery so far has been a real bonanza for the type of very wealthy Americans who have substantial holdings in the stock market? Or

2) The business community recognizes that the recovery from the Great Repression is on track and about to hit lift off bringing significant gains for all Americans? OR

3) A thriving stock market is an indicator of a bad economy?

RE: the latest wacko conspiracy theory that the job numbers are "cooked".

Go for it wingers and all rightist hacks, please. Add this one to your "all the polls are rigged for Obama by liberals" paranoia. These newer conspiracies fit in so nicely with the your older beloved conspiracies, like "Obama was born in Kenya" and "Climate Change is a hoax", and "hundreds of thousands of aliens are illegally registered to vote in swing states".

No one will believe you outside of your own paranoid circles. Haven't you noticed? Consumer confidence numbers have been rising lately. The percentage of Americans who believe the country is now on "the right track" has risen sharply lately also. These job numbers confirm what Americans are already feeling. Your rants against this jobs report will also confirm what Americans are already feeling. They increasingly feeli that the Republican party has jumped the tracks and is careening wildly into a deluded right wing chasm. Patriots don't bemoan job growth.

The Three Top Lines of Attack Against Mitt Romney

1) He will say anything to get elected, his record proves it.

2) He doesn't trust the American people enough to show us any details; not about his taxes, not about his policies.

3) He's not leading the Republican Party, the Tea Party is leading him.

Romney Won the First Debate - If His Assertions Were True.

In other words Romney lost, because you can't win a competitive race by outright cheating. Lies in politics are the equivalent of doping in sports. Romney may have crossed the finish line ahead of Obama in Denver, but it doesn't matter if Rooney's performance was enhanced by steroids. And it clearly was. Had Romney performed like that in the Salt Lake City Olympics his gold medal would have been stripped away. It's what's called an unfair advantage for one guy to inject falsehoods into the body of the debate while the other guy follows the rules of logic: Namely if 2 + 2 equaled 4 yesterday, it still equals 4 today.

Anyone can win a debate by substituting their narrative for facts, if that's considered fair game. But everyone knows it isn't. Most voters are no better equipped to do fact checking on the fly than Olympic judges are to certify athletes as drug free without needing to first run some tests. Talk of Romney winning is a little premature. His blood tests are being processed as we speak

Back in 2008 Obama Supporters Were Ridiculed

Republican operatives dripped scorn over the enthusiasm of Obama's following in 2008. They didn't use terms like enthusiastic support back then. They instead talked about Obama's cult of celebrity that young Americans in particular were seemingly entranced by.They strongly implied that Obama's support was virtually mindless, a direct linear consequence of young people being star struck. They thought we were on a sugar high.

Now in 2012 pundits, starting with but by no means limited to Republican operatives, talk differently. Now supposedly Obama shows signs of a potential vulnerability if support for him does not manifest manic in their eyes. Now they try to argue that Democratic voters might care less about Obama this year, because the President seemingly isn't adored the same way they claim he was last time around.

What they might want to ponder instead is the difference in our national circumstance that the aftermath of an 8 year George W. Bush Administration wrought on our nation since Obama first ran for President. In 2008 Democrats were excited over the prospect of finally removing the Republicans from the White House. That important, but limited, mission was accomplished. And then the hard work by necessity began, to rebuild from the economic wreckage that the Republicans left behind.

It's true Democrats aren't constantly gleeful during this election year. There is far too little to be gleeful about. But we don't blame Barack Obama for reality. We appreciate his efforts to turn this economy around. And we are thankful to have an adult team in the White House that is not more focused on ideological warfare against half the nation than it is on creating jobs for all of us. Democrats are resolved to continue the hard work necessary to rebuild our country to restore it to economic health.

It might finally be dawning on the Romney campaign that Democrats, young voters included, aren't less committed to winning in 2012 than we were in 2008 just because we may not be smiling quite as much. These are serious times, and this is serious business, and we are serious about making sure that President Obama gets the opportunity to continue the hard work we knowingly elected him to start on our behalf in 2008. Republicans underestimate our resolve at their own peril, as polling for Congress as well as the Presidency is starting to reveal.


I met George McGovern while he was gearing up but befor getting the Democratic nomination

I was a college student and an anti-war activist. McGovern spoke at my University and was well received. He didn't rush off campus immediately. I and a small group of other activists had set up a tent as a protest focal point on a central grassy area central to the campus. After McGovern's speech we made it back there to reassemble. It wasn't too long after when we looked over to see George McGovern strolling over toward us, without staff. He greeted us, shook our hands, thanked us for our activism, and could not have been more gracious or sincere. He was very much a man of my father's generation, and he looked it. Unlike RFK there was absolutely nothing "cutting edge" about the way he manifest. He was heartland America, naturally at home in staid and conservative attire. We were every bit as straggly as any Yippie one might have encountered at the time. None of that mattered in the slightest. The connection we felt with George McGovern that day was as warm and natural as a family reunion.

That was the moment when I began to truly admire him, and nothing has happened since then to do anything other than deeper the admiration I still have for George McGovern. That brief meeting taught me something deep and very important on a level that penetrated well beyond words. Remember, those were still the days of the "anti-establishment" "counter culture". I may not have admitted it consciously at the time, but I was subtly alienated from people who came across to me as mainstream and traditional in appearance and lifestyle. George McGovern was a light year.away from me in conventional experiences, and a massively significant generation removed from my late 60's centric world view, But I knew he was my brother none the less, and from that moment on I never viewed the world as narrowly again.

Romney Senior Advisor Don Senor Undermined U.S. Security Interests Today

It happened during an interview with Andrea Mitchell while he was trying to distinguish Mitt Romney's policy regarding Iran's nuclear program from President Obama's. That was not an easy task because both policies are identical. After making some standard hawkish noises, Senor quickly scurried back toward the center under Mitchell's questioning to deny that Mitt Romney has advocated for any military action against Iran. No, Romney simply believes that a threat of possible U.S. military action against Iran must be credible to give diplomacy a chance to work.

What Senor said next after Andrea Mitchell pointed out that President Obama has left the option of military action on the table was interesting to say the least:

"They say it is on the table, no one believes that. Yes they say it's on the table but no one believes it is on the table. We're not saying the military option should be used but we are saying that the threat of military action should be credible so it focuses the Iranian leadership on reaching some diplomatic solution..."

There is more but that pretty much sums up the salient point. All parties seemingly agree that a credible threat of possible U.S. military action against Iran is a critical component of any effort to pursue a diplomatic alternative to war. All parties understand that Barack Obama will be President of the United States at least until next January and quite possibly until January 2017. Obama is our Commander in Chief. If the U.S. decides to attack Iran more than likely Barack Obama will be issuing the order. If Iran takes the potential of U.S. military action against it seriously it will be because they take the words of Barack Obama seriously when he says that the military option is on the table.

Clearly Mitt Romney's Senior Advisor doesn't take those words seriously. And by casting dispersion on the words of the United States President he directly undermines the credibility of possible U.S. military action against Iran should that nation persist in seeking the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

Here's the link to the video of Senor's interview. The portion directly quoted begins at about the 5:55 marker.

Incoherent on the Middle East

Probing for a weakness to exploit, Mitt Romney’s campaign has turned to attacking President Obama on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Romney claims U.S. leadership is lacking in the region, and that U.S. interests are suffering as a result. He points to recent outbreaks of extremist Islamic anti-American sentiments in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, and to civilians being slaughtered by the Assad regime in Syria, as evidence of U.S. impotence in the region. He blusters on Iran, insinuating that the Obama administration has withheld support from our stalwart ally Israel, while failing to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Mitt Romney argues that the Middle East is not how we would like it to be, and offers that as an indictment of Obama, but fails to make the case for how he would make it better. Romney’s proscriptions open onto worse scenarios. His policies could push us from the frying pan to the fire.

On Iran Romney offers absolutely nothing new, but that hasn’t stopped him from criticizing the President. Is he opposed to the harsh sanctions that the U.S. has led much of the world to imposing on Iran? Of course not, since they represent the only overt means available to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, short of forceful military actions that our own Pentagon acknowledges would likely lead the U.S. into another major regional war. Does Romney advocate taking the U.S. into another Middle East war? Of course not, because the American electorate is not prepared to support that currently. It’s clear that both the President and his challenger support covert actions against Iran, but by definition they can’t really be debated. There isn’t an inch of daylight between Romney and Obama on their stated positions toward Iran, so instead Romney tries to attack Obama on how those positions are stated.

A Romney spokesperson interviewed by Andrea Mitchell acknowledged that Obama and Romney are backing the exact same policy toward Iran regarding nuclear weapons; prevention not containment. President Obama publicly asked Mitt Romney recently if he was now arguing for going to war with Iran, but his spokesman ducked and covered rather than answering. Romney, he said, believes that the potential use of American military force against Iran must remain a credible threat in order for diplomacy to hopefully succeed. That of course is consistent with the stated policy of the U.S. government, with the President clearly stating that “all options remain on the table” whenever he is asked about the possible use of force against Iran. So what does that leave Romney with as a political line of attack against Obama?

Romney’s spokesperson argued that no one really believes that Obama actually means it when he says all options remain on the table. Pause here for full implications to sink in. Barack Obama holds the office of President of the United States. His words are official U.S. policy, and America’s friends and foes alike weigh them while determining their own course of action during international conflicts. Surely by now Mitt Romney understands that not only is Barack Obama the United States President today, there is at least a decent chance he will remain our President for four more years. If Mitt Romney believes that the possible use of American force against Iran during this nuclear crisis must remain a credible threat in order for diplomacy to succeed, then his campaign just undermined the very policy he claims we should pursue. Romney’s position is incoherent. But it doesn’t stop there.

Mitt Romney argues that American leadership is lacking in the Middle East. He also belittles Obama for the naiveté he supposedly showed for starting his first term in office showing a willingness to negotiate directly with Iran over issues outstanding between our nations. In doing so Romney displays a key ignorance over how American diplomacy works. President Obama’s oft stated willingness to deal in good faith with Iran if that good faith were reciprocated was a crucial factor in gaining international support for strong economic sanctions against Iran. The U.S. can’t force sovereign nations to back economic sanctions against Iran, they must agree to. Had President Obama pursued a bolted door policy toward Iran from day one, it would have been far more difficult, and in some significant instances impossible, for him to have won broad based international support for the economic sanctions now in place against Iran.

Here again Romney’s position is incoherent. The sanctions policy that Romney says he supports against Iran was enabled by Obama first making an effort “to give peace a chance”, before moving on to harsher alternative when Iran failed to respond positively. Mitt Romney’s anti-diplomacy tough guy posturing only undercuts his own stated diplomatic policy objectives in building a broad coalition against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

There is nowhere Mitt Romney’s incoherent Middle East policy is more obvious though than it is in regards to current unrest in the region and the Arab Spring. If there is one word that Mitt Romney loves to use above all others in this campaign season, that word is “freedom”. Freedom he says is the well spring of societal progress. Well freedom is afoot in the Middle East but it isn’t always delivered in an antiseptic package. Our own American journey toward greater individual freedom has not been free of strife. Basic civil rights have been fought over here ever since the American Revolution gave birth to our nation. Why would the path be smooth in Libya, Syria, or Egypt?

Romney’s foreign policy team is dominated by Neo Con ideologues who last were in ascendancy during the prior Republican Administration. Ridding the Arab world of dictatorships was a cause they heartedly embraced, not only as a noble cause, but as a tenet of U.S. foreign policy in pursuit of U.S. interests. The lack of liberty in the Middle East, they intoned, fed unrest on the Arab street and pushed frustrated youth into the hands of Islamic militants who blamed the West for the ills of their own corrupt societies.

The American invasion of Iraq was partially defended by Neo Cons as a mission to help bring Democracy to the Arab world (especially after weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq were found to be sorely lacking). What followed that American invasion was chaos and bloodshed on a scale that totally dwarfs anything that has happened in Libya or Syria to date. The Democracy we left behind in Iraq is seriously flawed by any standard we would apply here at home, yet Mitt Romney will not disown it, nor argue that the people of Iraq were better off with a iron fisted dictator. Anti-American protests broke out in Iraq also in response to the Anti-Muslim propaganda film that was filmed in the United States. Today Iraq is on warm terms with its Shiite neighbor Iran although, just like Egypt, Mitt Romney would certainly not characterize Iraq as an enemy of America. How much more leadership, how much more strength, how much more money and how many more lives should America have committed to bring about the results we see in Iraq now, let alone better ones?

Compare what was accomplished in Iraq after ten plus years of American occupation, to the situation that confronts us in Libya and Egypt today, less than two years after dictatorships were replaced by democracies in those nations. Would there be less anti-American sentiments in those nations today if the United States had fought to thwart the Arab Spring that brought increased liberty to those people? Would we have more leverage in Egypt now had we stuck by Hosni Mubarak until he was lynched, or until Egypt dissolved into a Civil War like Syria’s?

The Obama Administration rightfully recognized a turning tide of history inside the Middle East, and wisely chose not to rage against it to no avail. As a result we still have productive open channels with the governments that the Arab Spring spawned, imperfect as they might be. That was not a preordained outcome. It took effective American leadership to accomplish. We all saw what happened in Iran when the U.S. clung to the Shah far too long until the Iranian people deposed him. Mitt Romney bemoans that we don’t retain enough influence over Egypt’s current government; while also lamenting that Egypt’s first free democratic elections resulted in a Muslim Brotherhood President. That position again is fundamentally incoherent. Unless Mitt Romney is prepared to advocate for yet another American Middle East invasion, it is dubious that his bad mouthing the current elected Egyptian government will lead to greater U.S. influence over it.

Israel is counting on Egypt to honor their mutual peace treaty in these turbulent times; Mitt Romney might want to reconsider the advantage of Egypt having a government that is credible with non extremist Islamists, that the U.S. still retains real ties with. Mubarak, like Iran’s Shah before him, isn’t coming back.

A man earning $30,000 giving $300 to charity sacrifices more than a Billionaire giving away millions

The creed of false equivalence gets used to bludgeon common sense, and often obscures our grasp of true morality. A portion of every persons income is needed to support life itself. Another part allows for simple pleasures. Beyond that lies realms of ascending privilege, that lead toward self aggrandizement, and ultimately wanton gluttony. Once the latter was viewed by Christianity as a sin.

It is good when those with wealth donate large sums to worthy charities - that money is sorely needed for important causes and wealthy individuals are blessed with the means to give ample assistance to them. Our society does not shun nor shame those who choose not to become benefactors, so it is therefor appropriate to acknowledge those who take on that role voluntarily. Yes it is good that Mitt Romney gave millions of dollars to charity, but the fact still remains that he has150 million put aside in an IRA and untold amounts more stashed away in secret bank accounts.

It is not a matter of begrudging anyone success. There are very few among us who would not gladly embrace similar good fortune should riches somehow come our way. But keeping perspective is important, especially during a political year when talk about the need for Americans to make sacrifices to reign in future entitlements is a common refrain. Perspective is needed when negative aspersions are cast upon those who labor at minimum wage jobs because, unlike those who receive much higher compensation, they don't make enough to pay income taxes.

The working poor never earn glowing headlines when they donate $25 to their volunteer fire department's annual fund raising drive, or when they buy 5 boxes of girl scout cookies to help a neighbor's kid afford some enriching experience. But their charity comes at far greater personal sacrifice than the millions that someone like Mitt Romney is in a position to donate. Some people simply have plenty they can give without hurting, and some people's survival isn't at risk when they are forced to "sacrifice" just a little bit more for the essentials of life.
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