Tom Rinaldo's Journal
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So Janet and I decided to attend the final three Grateful Dead concerts (as in FINAL Grateful Dead concerts) through simulcast at the Bearsville Theater (near Woodstock NY). The last show is tonight and the Dead will probably be hitting the stage in less than 5 hours. Last night people were able to walk up and buy tickets for $7 (CHEAP!) - probably you can tonight also. If the idea of catching the simulcast at a public venue at all interests you, I unhesitatingly say DO IT! Yes it is on TV also with pay for view, but if other venues do what Bearsville did with a huge screen and pretty much full 360 degree sense surround quality sound - it makes all of the difference in the world to attend. Here is where to find live screening locations nation wide (I'll write a little bit about the shows in a sec) http://www.dead50.net/concert-venue-screenings/
The live video feed is Excellent and the audio feed includes a full helping of audience sound which makes it near impossible to not think the people you are hearing in Chicago aren't seated (or standing) all around you between songs - or when 65,000 can be heard singing a distant background chorus on many songs.
This show celebrates a 50 year culture altering musical career. That's equivalent to over one fifth of the entire history of the U.S.A. to put that in perspective (Yeah the Stones can claim even longer but they ain't Yanks). I avoided Garcia-less Dead shows until now but this weekend for me it's all about showing respect to the 4 surviving members of the Grateful Dead as they cap off that wonderful and intense long strange trip. But here's the thing. They are ON. Last night even the vocals usually rose to the occasion. Trey Anastasio, lead guitarist of Phish, is doing a superb job stepping into lead guitar, and he really is the right man to be there on stage with the Dead at the end. He is smiling from ear to ear doing it when he isn't lost making the acoustics of the moment. I'm not going to write a concert review or go over the set list, you can find that stuff online. There were a number of moments, last night more so than Friday, when the band ignited in spectacular form - equal to the best places they have collectively reached at any show I've ever seen them do - and I've seen a lot of them. The Grateful Dead are going out strong.
If you never had a chance to see them play in person - this comes pretty damn close to that, and really it is only seeing them in person that captures what they essentially uniquely are capable of pulling off. When a band dances on a tightrope wire non stop for 3 plus hours, not every step they take will be graceful, but collectively the experience can be dazzling. Members of The Grateful Dead are all superb musicians, so even if all or even most of their music is not right up your ally, it is remarkable to see them crafting that sound live. This is NOT an oldies show or an Oldies act. It is a vibrant band in full creative mode - and tonight is the LAST chance you will ever have of being part of that live experience. Emotions have been running high at these shows the last two nights, I can't imagine how it will be tonight for their truly final performance. Think about attending this now while you still may have time to do so. Once it is over history turns the last page of an epic volume.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Jul 5, 2015, 04:03 PM (15 replies)
...the easier it gets for Bernie to beat all expectations and register an upside surprise. Some forget, but Bill Clinton, the famous "Come Back Kid", got that title for finishing second in the 1992 New Hampshire primary, when he was expected to do worse, and no one ever talks about LBJ defeating Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 NH Primary, but of course he did.
Put it another way, when a serious candidate looses an election by a margin like 55% to 35% the consensus usually is that they got trashed But if the media succeeds in painting Bernie Sanders as a "token" opponent of Hillary in the primaries, a result like that suddenly indicates surprising strength for him, and a real weakness for the favorite he was up against.
Let them talk down Bernie all they want to. The first two contests are retail politics states where the voters will get to know Sanders personally, bypassing the media filters. He will have all the money and activist support he will need to campaign effectively in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and the media is setting up the scenario he needs to emerge from those states politically strengthened .
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue May 12, 2015, 10:01 AM (67 replies)
That pretty much says it for me. I sometimes use an online website to create designs because it has tools intuitive enough for even me to use. I just did this one:
I can't give away rights to this exact design since I used that website to make it but as far as I' concerned everyone should feel free to do something similar if you want.
Bernie really does have our back.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri May 1, 2015, 10:07 AM (0 replies)
They confuse the status quo with the comfort zone of most Americans. They assume most Americans are more comfortable with tweaking business as usual than with attempting significant systematic changes. That may be more true some times than others, but in reality it has never been fundamentally true. It has been true only for those who come out way ahead under the existing status quo at any given time, and that has always only been true for a small minority of Americans.
Things were never better for most Americans than they were in the decades immediately after World War Two. The G.I. Bill of Rights opened up a middle class lifestyle to millions of Americans. We had the means to pay for it then without putting a squeeze on the elite because America's potential global economic rivals were still climbing out from the wreckage of a major war fought in their homelands. Good times as they say, pretty much as good as it gets without major societal changes, and still there was discomfort and unrest brewing in the so called silent majority. American minorities were severely repressed, rural poverty was rampant, seniors couldn't afford healthcare. There was a reason for massive non violent civil disobedience campaigns. There was a reason why LBJ's Great Society agenda was both badly needed and widely embraced. Mind numbing calls for conformity and obedience to authority and unrelenting sexual repression chafed at the American spirit. There was a reason for the the cultural revolution that swept America in the 60's. And that was in the so called best of times.
These are not the best of times. The status quo is not working for most Americans and moderation virtually by definition venerates the status quo and seeks to not unduly unsettle it. Americans only embrace, reluctantly, an unsatisfactory status quo if they fear the possible effects of change more than they fear the daily circumstances they now live under. Fear has propped up the American status quo ever since the late 70's, but the burden of fear is shifting now. Increasingly Americans fear the future that our current course is steering us toward more than they do potential changes that might avoid that fate.
The 2008 election was a vote for change. Rightly or wrongly in retrospect, Barack Obama represented hope and change as he seemingly ushered in a new day for our nation under new generational leadership that embraced the multi-cultural potential of modern America. The 2010 election was also a vote for change, albeit with a much lower voter turnout as many of those who (perhaps unrealistically) expected more from the change regime they ushered in than what they perceived getting from it. The Right in America positioned themselves to run against the status quo, it was not moderation they were preaching, it was regression to simpler seemingly idyllic time when big government didn't get in the way of the true aspirations of most Americans. That day never existed but it was the future they promised, coupled with constant fear mongering that the end days were near if America didn't radically change course - to the right.
Since 2010 hope for change from both ends of the political spectrum has not yet fully rebounded from the disillusionment both ends suffered over the last six years. But the pain and fear factors have continued to rise. Americans are not comfortable with the center of American politics, though many may still be resigned to it. But for how much longer?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Apr 30, 2015, 10:43 AM (1 replies)
Not unless you are a third way blue dog Democrat who doesn't want populist issues discussed. It doesn't matter if you support Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, or Elizabeth Warren as your first choice for the Democratic nomination. It doesn't matter if you believe Bernie Sanders has a realistic chance of winning the presidency or no chance in hell. It doesn't matter whether Sanders can raise moderate or large sums of campaign funds during the primaries. It is all good under any of those scenarios.
Bernie is fearless when it comes to talking about the issues that matter to ordinary Americans. The entire thrust of his campaign is to raise those issues. There is no upside or temptation for him to hedge his critique of the American economic and political system. He is not beholden to those with big money because they already know fully where he stands and Bernie stands with everyday voters, not fat cats. Bernie has nothing to lose by speaking truth to power. In fact it is the only thing that draws attention to him in the first place, so we can count on him doing it.
Does that make him nonviable as a candidate? That is subject to debate of course, but the truth is that it doesn't matter. Regardless of how viable or nonviable Bernie Sanders ultimately is, it is still extremely positive for him to enter the presidential race. Let's look at three possible rough scenarios. 1) Bernie enters the race but is unable to win any contests. 2) Bernie enters the race and makes it somewhat competitive but comes up short and doesn't win the Democratic nomination. 3) Bernie enters the race and actually wins the Democratic nomination. That kind of covers it.
The smart money, for whatever that is worth, for now all comes down for option one. Let's assume for a moment that's right. I would still be thrilled to have Bernie running because Bernie is about as good as anyone now on the national scene at framing issues in terms that clearly explain to 99% of Americans how 1% of Americans have the system totally rigged against them. That by itself is priceless to those of us who whose voices often are smothered out by big money and corporate control of the political system. Bernie will not only raise the issues that need to be raised, he will raise them in stark understandable terms that have the potential to re-frame the political debate along much more progressive fault lines. As a sitting U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders will be included in any Democratic Party primary debates, and he will get equal time with Hillary Clinton and any other Democratic candidates to make his case to Democratic voters and, to some extent, to the larger public also. This is all good stuff regardless of the outcome.
Because Bernie Sanders is already so marginalized and discounted by the mainstream media it won't be considered a repudiation of his beliefs if he doesn't actually win, much like it didn't set back the beliefs of the American Socialist Party when Norman Thomas failed to become a "viable candidate" for president in an earlier era. Instead major planks of the Socialist platform were incorporated virtually intact into that of the Democratic Party in subsequent years. Even in so called "defeat" Bernie Sanders can be a game hanger for the future Democratic Party.
If conventional thinking holds true and Hillary Clinton is all but certain to end up as the Democratic nominee, a challenge by Sanders won't hurt her. That is true whether or not the Democratic race ever becomes legitimately competitive. Obama wasn't hurt by the long protracted contest to wrest the 2008 nomination away from Hillary then, and most observers believe that Hillary Clinton sharpened her own campaign skills from almost sleep walking through the early stages when the nomination appeared to be hers for the taking to becoming tough as nails to claw her way back into the race after coming in third in Iowa.
That speaks to option number two above, a scenario under which Sanders makes a competitive run for the nomination but falls short. A remarkable, honorable and unfortunately rather rare thing about Bernie Sanders is that he is a very clean campaigner. Bernie doesn't throw mud, he argues the merits of an issue instead. I feel solid in saying that Bernie Sanders has never attacked President Obama fro the left for example. What he has done on occasion is pointedly disagree with the President on certain aspects of certain issues, not the man himself or his integrity or the sincerity of his basic Democratic values. Sanders will not engage in avoidable character assassination of Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat he runs against. He will fight for what he believes in, which in very large part is what the Democratic base believes in. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will need to mobilize the Democratic base in order to win the General Election. Sanders can help that person prepare her or him self for that task by illuminating what Democratic voters care about and respond too.
What about scenario number three, Sanders actually winning the Democratic nomination? While I personally think it is rather unlikely, that possibility does not seem quite as far fetched to me as it does to the usual suspect talking heads. Sanders may actually catch on fire. Because he is so very different from most other Democrats who have sought the nomination in recent years, and because the Democratic field is shaping up to be much less crowded in 2016 than it was in 2004 or 2008, the tried and true metrics by which his chances are now being appraised may end up seriously off base and lacking in accuracy. If Sanders significantly outperforms expectations early in the race that could lead to a snowball effect with him continuing to gain momentum. Again, I don't need to believe this scenario is likely in order to support Sanders running for President, but I don't completely discount it either.
What would that mean? Well for one thing it would expose Hillary Clinton as a weak candidate for the times that confront us now, and if Bernie beats her even her hard core supporters will have to admit that she had serious flaws that they didn't adequately appreciate. If Hillary can't beat Bernie, with her high stature and all that money behind her, we will be fortunate indeed that Sanders exposed her shortcomings before she became the Democratic standard bearer in 2016. And if Bernie wins the Democratic nomination it means all bets are off on the conventional wisdom of how much money a major party candidate will need to raise to win the general election in the political climate that will then prevail. If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination he will become iconic in the process. He would be riding a cultural political tsunami to have ever gotten that far to begin with.
I mentioned Martin O'Malley and Elizabeth Warren above also. Anyone hoping one of those Democrats will become our 2016 nominee have nothing to fear from a Bernie Sanders candidacy if they really believe their guy or gal has the right stuff to begin with. Let's start by stating the obvious. Warren has clearly said she has no intention or running for president in 2016. I don't see any way that can possibly change without Sanders in the race. Warren isn't going to wage an uphill fight against Hillary for the nomination, she's made that abundantly clear.For those old enough to remember it, once upon a time RFK made it pretty clear he wasn't going to run an uphill fight to depose LBJ either. Then Eugene McCarthy took on that long shot quest and exposed LBJ's weakness, and that changed all the standard calculations. If Clinton starts to sputter against Sanders possibly that could change for Warren, even if Hillary still is besting Bernie (Johnson did beat McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary - but McCarthy's strong showing ultimately convinced LBJ not to run for re-election). And as for O'Malley, for him to have any chance to defeat Clinton for the nomination he would probably need some help in taking her down, kind of like the Edwards candidacy helped Obama defeat Hillary in 2008. O'Malley himself is rather untested on the national stage, so if Sanders can overtake O'Malley's bid to be a viable alternative to Clinton, that would speak volumes about how strong a candidate he actually is, and it would be best to find that out sooner rather than later.
No matter how I look at it, I see no reason why any progressively minded Democrat shouldn't be delighted at the prospect of Bernie Sanders entering the race for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Count me firmly in the Sanders camp.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Apr 29, 2015, 01:09 PM (47 replies)
After hailing him as their go to guy on security issues in the Middle East, Netanyahu is now two for two in opting for permanent wars. Are Congressional Republicans and their Democratic Israel hawk partners prepared now to abandon a two state solution for Palestine and Israel, once again following Netanyahu's lead? What do Boehner, McConnell McCain, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Menendez and Schumer have to say now? If a path to official statehood for Palestine is blocked, is there anyone who doubts that endless war and terrorism in that region would follow? Does the U.S. Congress still believe that Netanyahu better represents U.S. Security interests than the American President? It's not enough that Netanyhu was itching for one armed conflict, now he is courting two.
No one who actually has followed the multi-national negotiations about Iran's nuclear program seriously believe that the U.S. can back away from a pending negotiated settlement, follow that up with imposing harsher economic sanctions, and have the international community (including Russia and China) continue to honor ANY economic sanctions against Iran. It's a strategy that REMOVES whatever incentives there are for Iran NOT to develop nuclear weapons. To the contrary, it gives them all the more incentive to do exactly that because they will start bracing for inevitable war.
All the experts say that bombing can not stop Iran's nuclear program, just set it back a couple of years. Iran is an advanced technological state with the full capacity to reconstruct their nuclear program, if we bomb it, in sites impervious to American bombs. Why wouldn't they? Virtually the entire Iranian population will be furious at the West if we bomb them, they will want revenge. And there is nothing like actually having nukes to deter any aggressor from continually attacking you.
So what of it, all you American political leaders - Republicans included, who have at the very least given previous lip service to a two state solution, is Bibi still your guy? Or are you too chicken shit to speak up about America's own foreign policy until after Israel forms its next government?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Mar 17, 2015, 08:38 AM (21 replies)
You will not hear any American or Israeli politician deviate from this script: “The U.S. Israel relationship is rock solid, and deeper than any possible disagreement between any two leaders.” True enough, but the rock solid relationship between Israel and the United States has fault lines running through it. How could it be otherwise? It's in the nature of rock itself for fractures to embed that may subsist for decades or generations without shifting, until accumulated stress creates a rapture. It is foolish for Israel's leaders to believe otherwise/.
The current Israel is not so old as countries go, it's age is counted in double digits, much like mine. Even so support for Israel has shifted in my lifetime. It has its ups and downs, in Europe certainly, but also here in the United .States. Support for a Jewish homeland was historically powerfully strengthened by, and Israel's rebirth as a nation itself is the direct result of, the evil that was the Holocaust. Antisemitism is many centuries old, but the Holocaust isn't. Still actual Holocaust survivors continue to die off, as time will always have it. Though what happened then will never be forgotten, it may not always be remembered quite as sharply for many as it still is today. History, unfortunately, is predictably layered with horrors, of greater and lesser brutality. All of them eventually age with time. Some do so quickly, others more slowly. The memory of each lingers longest in those whose direct ancestors were victims.
I was born in 1949, shortly after Israel itself and after the evil that caused the Holocaust was vanquished, the son of a soldier who participated in the liberation of death camps. I am not Jewish, but growing up on Long Island brought me Jewish friends, and familiarity with Jewish culture. My family wasn't very political nor was I while growing up. World issues were rarely discussed
The Holocaust was little more than 20 years distant back then but I usually only thought of it in the context of the Viet Nam War which was raging as I reached draft age, wondering could I really be a conscientious objector if I would have volunteered to fight Hitler? Israel captured my interest most then during two wars it became embroiled in with its Arab neighbors, the 6 Day War in June of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in the Fall of 1973. Oddly those seemed to bookend the peak years of the U.S. engagement in Viet Nam, which added to their seeming relevence. I supported Israel's in those wars unhesitatingly back them, linking those conflicts in my mind to the Jewish struggle for existence during World War II. I remembered only dimly at best when the United States actually opposed Israeli military actions during the Suez Crisis of 1956.
I knew little about Arab Countries or the Muslim world in general back then, aside from realizing that Egypt's Abdul Nasser was a leader of the non alligned nation bloc during the ongoing Cold War. It took another Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, to awaken sympathy in me for people who previously I thought of mostly as adversaries of Israel. Like most Americans of my generation, I grew up inheriting strong sympathies for Israel, and I saw no good reason to question them.
That is how a “rock solid” relationship with another nation manifests: it rests on a foundation of widely shared essentially unquestioned loyalty that takes on the form of a self fulfilling prophesy, precisely because it is so widely shared. The aftermath of World War II cemented that status for Israel among several generations of Americans. Of course we also have shared values with Israel, of course there are strong and historic ties between our people. The same can be said even more so regarding America and France, but that didn't prevent a strong backlash of anti-French sentiments here when France was less than enthusiastic about the U.S. invading Iraq. The glow is off the French American relationship although we have mostly remained allies.
Israel counts on nonpartisan and widely felt American loyalty today, and it has good reason to be confident of that, today. But for how many tomorrows can that confidence extend? Israel counted on American support during the Yom Kippur War, in an existential sense it virtually depended on it. Israel still remains a mostly Jewish spot in an overwhelmingly Muslim region. 40 years after the Yom Kippur War unbending American support is just as essential to Israel as it ever was, maybe even more so. There is little reason to believe the same won't be true in another 40 years. But there are clear signs today that that the previous level of unquestioned support for Israel is beginning to erode among increasing numbers of younger Americans in particular.
That may not yet be apparent inside America's Halls of Power dominated as they are by the over 50 set. At least it hasn't been prior to Israel's current Prime Minister's willingness to exploit American partisan differences in service to his perception of Israel's interests, and seemingly his own short term political needs. A potent security threat to Israel lies below the surface, among younger generations of Americans who grew up exposed daily to horrors more recent than the holocaust, who increasingly see the state of Israel’s actions in regards to the Palestinian issue in far less than a wholly positive light. And who now see Israel's Prime Minister arriving in Washington in a blatant effort to undermine sensitive negotiations that America's twice elected (with strong youth support) President says is the last best chance to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to produce nuclear weapons.
Should those negotiations fail it seems probable that America will end up fighting a new war with Iran in support of Israel, with impossible to predict long term adverse consequences. If Peace is NOT given a chance, and America is plunged into a new round of Middle East wars before, in the eyes of many Americans, all other options are exhausted, what will be the fallout in long term American public opinion toward Israel? How will that effect future American support for that state whenever they need it again?
If support for Israel's Prime Minister is employed as a political club in the Republican Party's continuing domestic war against a President they never have accepted, when will support for Israel cease to unquestionably be nonpartisan inside an America where increasingly few issues remain above that fray? And how will THAT effect Israel's long term security?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Mar 2, 2015, 01:44 AM (9 replies)
The forces of know nothingism were home free, and not just on global warming but on anything that is objective fact based. As long as differing opinions can be produced on a topic (sometimes purchased and delivered) any assertion of fact is is now called "a side" in "a controversy". Scientific facts are increasingly deemed disputed "theories". And when science isn't honored anymore education itself becomes suspect. And when education becomes suspect false populists run against it, calling it nothing but an elitist agenda dictated by the state, and so on. Truth is now a commodity for sale on the "free market", a product of market research packaged and peddled, with bold bald assertions carrying the same weight as anything that emerges from a rigorous application of scientific method. And this now dominates our politics.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Feb 28, 2015, 02:14 PM (10 replies)
The Republicans have remained frozen in their 2008 campaign mode for a full six years. They seem almost biologically incapable of recognizing that the majority of the American electorate firmly rejected the Barack Obama as an anti-American figure narrative that Sarah Palin in particular spearheaded that year. They can't stop flogging their straw man; Barack Obama the terrorist lover who is clearly a socialist but may actually be an outright Marxist, who is not really American, who seems closer linked to Islam than to Christianity (let all evidence to the contrary be damned), who just so happens to be Black - which only matters in this case (they aren't racists you know) because Obama probably learned to hate America from his absent Kenyan father.
Yes Republicans try to update and refresh their Anti-Obama talking point factoids periodically, continually injecting their all purpose buzz scare term Benghazi into the 2012 campaign for example, but they still doggedly stick with the same failed narrative. And they don't even bother to retire their old stale talking points when they obviously implode. Obama as potential Muslim is left over from 2008 but is still kept in play, and no one doubts for an instant that Benghazi will continue to be fawned over in 2016. While "fawned over" is indeed an offensive characterization to apply to an incident that saw the death of several Americans, unfortunately its use here is appropriate. The Republican Right keeps treating those deaths like a treasured shiny weapon bestowed on them for their political arsenal, even when the actual families involved plead with them to stop it.
This is all part of a political narrative that has been fully vetted by voters. Twice. Americans, who presumably love America, chose Barack Obama to be their leader in 2008, and then again in 2012. What does the frozen Republican narrative about Barack Obama say about those tens of millions of Americans, the literal majority of voters? Either that they are stupid fools who should not believe their own lying eyes or ears, or that they too must not love America. Take your pick, neither could be characterized as particularly flattering. Republicans push the argument that Barack Obama is actually rooting against America, wanting us to fail, which marks him as an Un-American President. But what most people see is a political party dominated by leading voices who want the President who Americans themselves elected to lead America, to fail. And for millions of voters that calls into question exactly who is acting Un-American after all.
Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot in 2014, and that is the main reason Republicans scored well that year (aided in part by gerrymandered Congressional districts). Were 2014 a Presidential election year, like 2008 and 2012 both were, Republicans would have lost again, because more Americans play closer attention to politics in Presidential election years than they do in the off years in between them. Actually were it not for the massive Ebola hysteria being fanned by the media in the immediate run up to the 2014 election, where Obama was daily lambasted for following expert medical advice and refusing to lock down our borders, Democrats might have done a little better than they ultimately did. Obama didn't panic, the media did, but they weren't on the 2014 ballot either.
Unfortunately for the Republican Party, 2016 will once again be a Presidential Election year. And from most current indications they seem to have learned as much from their 2012 defeat as they did from their 2008 one.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Feb 23, 2015, 03:17 PM (17 replies)
I've never had the chance to ask him that in person. There are multiple other possibilities; Android, Extra Terrestrial, Holographic Projection, you name it. I'm not a scientist so I would rather not venture an uninformed guess. Opinions vary on what makes some one or thing human. Anyone really curious about it should directly ask Scott Walker in person, or rather in entity, his opinion on the matter.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Feb 22, 2015, 09:15 AM (12 replies)