Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 16,751
Number of posts: 16,751
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Forcefully does not always mean "with force", but sometimes it does mean that, and I believe the use of force is an important aspect of countering Jihadists now. I have always resisted the use of force, essentially by anyone anywhere. But there are always exceptions to that for me, though rarely if ever at the full scale of war. Not all jihadists are the same, obviously, but a virulent strain has been growing at the fringes of Islam. Even Al Qaeda as we knew it was not as extreme as ISIS or Boko Haram have become. Bin Ladin initially fought against the Russians for invading Afghanistan, and he first turned his sights onto America because we established military bases in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islams must sacred sites. Al Qaeda justified terrorism using convoluted religious arguments, but it did not call for the death of "non-believers"precisely because they were "non-believers". That is the trajectory the most extreme jihadists are on now.They are seeking a holy war because they see holy war as intrinsically desirable in order to spread their own version of their faith.
It is an ideology/theology that sanctions genocide as a morally justifiable, virtually required, means towards their end. It is an ideology/theology that embraces literal slavery as an institution to practice and spread in the name of God. And they are gaining momentum, territory and adherents. They represent a brutal expansionist force more akin to naked colonialism as it was practiced from the 16th into the early 20th Century than to more traditional organized Islamist movements such as Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. It is more like an early stage of Germany's Third Reich, with a potent virulent belief system that openly justifies the most barbaric acts against those who it does not assign basic human rights or dignity to on a mass level. Like with hard core Stalinism the end will justify any means, and those beliefs are enshrined at the highest level of the movement, openly and proudly. In their version of reality it is immoral NOT to act in that way.
That level of moral sanction given to inhuman behavior, that extreme a black and white world view without inconvenient moral ambiguities clouding the certainty of judgement, can be deceptively potent if not forcefully challenged head on. The problem is that the United States of America is in critical ways ill suited to lead that challenge. We do exercise real power and power has a role to play, but power devoid of moral authority will not win this struggle, not soon and not easily- that much seems certain. to me
If Islamic leaders, both in and out of government, need the encouragement of American military backing to take on this fight full force, we can play a role. For that reason I for the moment support the military actions taken by the Obama Administration against ISIS. I support even more its intense diplomatic efforts to expand the coalition of resistance to murderous jihadism. This could became the epic struggle of our generation or more. Done with caution, done within a unifying framework much broader than the U.S. and it's European allies, this is an imperative struggle of a different scale and purpose than mere territorial and resource ambitions that often lie at the root of most wars. We may blow this in a near infinite number of ways, and distort the conflict to serve narrow capitalist and imperial interests, but we are now up against a growing ideology that is anathema to almost all of our core values.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Sep 23, 2014, 04:11 PM (9 replies)
I don't expect to in 2016. To be blunt, I don't let myself get too excited about anyone who doesn't stand a realistic chance in hell of getting elected for one thing, so that eliminates some otherwise tempting possibilities. Actually I do think that Elizabeth Warren could possibly be electable, and SHE would excite me as a candidate. But I believe Warren when she says she isn't going to run. If that changes my attitude will also.
If Hillary Clinton decides not to run, it still could get interesting, but I believe she will run. In a totally open field it is not inconceivable that a Howard Dean or a Bernie Sanders type could emerge from the pack, though I would be surprised to see that happen. I am all for Hillary Clinton having an articulate Democrat challenge her from the left in the Democratic primaries. I would oppose anyone running a scorched earth campaign against her however, even if I agreed with her challenger more on the issues. By scorched earth I mean attempts to tear into Hillary personally, rather than focusing on areas of policy differences. Bernie Sanders is an example of someone I believe could pull off the latter without falling into the former, and that would be healthy both for the Democratic Party and for our nation.
Though she is significantly right of me on many issues I will have no problem supporting Hillary Clinton for President if she wins the Democratic nomination. I expect to have problems supporting a number of her positions if she does become President however. I had no problem supporting Barack Obama for president after he won the Democratic nomination. I have had problems supporting a number of his positions since he became President however. I fully expected that to happen and I haven't regretted supporting Obama through two elections for an instant. He is notably more responsive to pressure from activists like me than his Republican opponents would have been.
I do not expect any President who we are likely to elect under current political conditions to lead us into any semblance of the progressive promised land. If we fight hard enough and organize effectively enough though we may lead him or her part way there. That is a lesson I learned in the 60's when we the people pulled our society to the left, and that even extended to Dick Nixon who founded O.S.H.A. and the E.P.A during his time in office.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Jun 10, 2014, 08:12 PM (2 replies)
My partner Janet and I run a small concert series in the Catskills and we discovered this Canadian singer- songwriter, Jon Brooks, a few years back when his agent contacted us (the web site for our concert series is www.flyingcatmusic.com in case anyone is curious).
Jon spent some time in Bosnia shortly after cessation of formal hostilities there. This song came from that context and is rooted in it, but it's scope is much larger than that war alone. We have him coming to do a concert for us Sunday night which is why I'm thinking of him now - but more people should know about him, especially those who value incisive commentary:
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat May 3, 2014, 11:21 AM (19 replies)
Is America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?
By Karen Charman on Apr 21, 2014
- See more at: http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/#sthash.muAkuQsQ.dpuf
This is in depth reporting covering how the military failed to prevent and is failing to acknowledge extremely serious health issues of sailors who were stationed on the Ronald Reagan, a U.S. Aircraft Carrier sailing off the coast of Japan. Here is part of one of the many stories this piece covers in depth, along with reporting on the larger historic context of U.S. government responses to radiation exposure:
"From Fitness Instructor to Near Invalid
When the earthquake hit, Mike Sebourn was the senior chief mechanic in the helicopter squadron at the Navy’s Atsugi air base in Japan. At the time, he was also a fitness instructor, strong and healthy. But a few weeks after the disaster, he began having nosebleeds and migraines. They went away, but four months later, he discovered he could lift only 60 percent of what he could lift previously.
Sebourn had been in charge of decontaminating helicopters that were coming back after flying relief missions through radioactive plumes. The Navy didn’t prepare him for the job, he told WhoWhatWhy. What normally would have been a two-year course in radiation remediation was distilled down to two days. The course contained no discussion on the health risks involved; however, they were assured that their exposures would be monitored and noted in their military files...
...After the relief missions ended, Sebourn said, he didn’t use much protective gear at all because radiation readings they got off the skin of the aircraft weren’t high enough to warrant it. However, he now believes he continued to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, mainly from hot components inside the aircraft. Sebourn, 39, now suffers from extreme loss of muscle mass and deterioration in the strength of his muscles on the right side of his body..."
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Apr 28, 2014, 08:29 PM (8 replies)
...there would be a flurry of new conspiracy theories being discussed on progressive web sites like this about how the gun industry and the NRA (same thing, I know) were somehow behind the recent mass stabbings to undercut (bad pun, I know) support for "common sense gun safety measures". Even simply typing that sentence seems completely ludicrous to me, but hack commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck make millions by spinning equivalent right wing trash talk. Supposedly main stream media willfully turns a blind eye to any objective comparison of the Left and the Right in this country, while continuing to stack the Sunday talk shows with Republican "leaders".
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Apr 15, 2014, 03:00 PM (1 replies)
Very glad to have him as my President, in light of the alternative scenarios that could have played out in 2008 and/or 2012. There are plenty of things that I like about Obama personally, and there are plenty of things that he has done in the way of policy that I also like a lot. I fully supported his election campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and unless the Democratic Party goes ape shit batty and nominates a Lyndon LaRouche or David Duke type candidate in 2016 I fully expect to support the Democratic nominee in 2016 also. None of that means that I think today's Democratic Party, on the whole, does a particularly good job of representing me or my interests in general. It does means they come much closer to doing so than today's Republican Party however.
My interests are important to me even if no one else shared them though I know millions of others do. So of course I will continue to work to prevent Republicans from screwing me over even when I am not all that happy with this or that Democrat in specific or Democrats in general. What I won't do however is suspend by beliefs when they differ with our President or any other Democrat. If something is important it should be advocated for by those who deem it as important. If that means taking a position different than Obama's or any other elected Democrat, so be it. That is how democracy functions and I am an advocate for democracy - it's how we get from here to there when justice is the goal and the status quo is unacceptable. Fundamentally, it' really is that simple.
If that means I'm not a good Democrat I can live with that. It is not by goal in life to be a good Democrat, though sometimes in practice I act like one. But the Democratic Party is a potential means toward an end, not the end itself. I try to stay clear on that concept.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:48 PM (14 replies)
In 1983 a government of disputed legitimacy in Grenada, a small Caribbean nation well within the long acknowledged U.S. sphere of influence, was itself overthrown by a coup amid social turmoil that resulted in some deaths, including that of the then Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Within days of that outbreak of political and social unrest, the United States of America militarily invaded Grenada. Quoting from Wikipedia here: “U.S. officials cited the murder of Bishop and general political instability in a country near U.S. borders, as well as the presence of U.S. medical students at St. Georges University, as reasons for military action.” While Wikipedia may not always be the final word in authoritative sources, that's pretty much how I remember things going down also. The recently deposed head of the Ukraine government wasn't himself murdered, like Bishop of Grenada was, but he did feel in necessary to flee his nation for reasons that included his personal safety.
There are other unsettling similarities between the U.S. military invasion of Grenada in 1983 and the Russian invasion of Crimea last week. In the year prior to U.S. use of force in Grenada the then U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, had been expressing alarm over developments there. Quoting Wiki again, and again it is consistent with my own recollections of that period; “In March 1983, U.S President Ronald Reagan began issuing warnings about the threat posed to the United States and the Caribbean by the "Soviet-Cuban militarization" of the Caribbean as evidenced by the excessively long airplane runway being built, as well as intelligence sources indicating increased Soviet interest in the island.” In the year preceding the Russian invasion of Crimea the Russian President Vladimir Putin issued warnings about the threat posed to Russian interests by Western meddling in the Ukraine seeking to draw it closer to an alliance with NATO and Western Europe against “traditional ties” with Russia.
Of course there are plenty of differences between the two invasions as well. Arguably what happens inside the Ukraine is much more central to Russian national interests than anything that took place inside Grenada could ever have been to American interests. The Crimea had long been an internationally recognized part of Russia/the Soviet Union before Nikita Khrushchev handed it off to the Ukraine in an inside political maneuver, whereas Grenada has never been under U.S. sovereignty. American interests in Cuba, Chile, and even Nicaragua came far closer to rising to the level of current Russian interests in the Ukraine than anything that precipitated the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
None of this speaks to who is/was right and who is/was wrong, nor to who occupies/occupied the higher moral ground in either of these uses of military force. Power, legality, and morality are not always closely aligned. In both military engagements however the predominant international view holds that the invasions were staged in violation of international agreements. The United Nations General Assembly, for example, condemned the American invasion of Grenada as "a flagrant violation of international law”. It appears that Russia would have a similar problem now in winning the blessing of that world body for its military actions in the Crimea. The United States did not allow unfavorable readings of international law to deter it from invading Grenada, nor have similar views constrained Russian military action over the last week. Wisely or foolishly, each nation used its military outside of its borders but within its self defined geographic sphere of influence to promote its national interests, as determined by those in power at the time.
No doubt the Soviets were livid over the use of America's military within our perceived sphere of influence during the Reagan presidency, but taking direct military action against the U.S. was never a real option for them to utilize in response. There was no international military opposition to the use of force by America in Grenada in 1983, just like there wasn't when we invaded the Dominican Republic under President Johnson in 1965 either. The harsh truth is that there are times and places when military action can be construed as an at least somewhat viable option for one major player operating in an international arena, but not reciprocally for others. The United States and its western allies, unlike Russia, have no direct military options available inside the Ukraine and every Republican in the U.S. Congress of even marginally sound body and mind knows it. Outrage and bluster that the recent Russian use of force in the Crimea was triggered by an America weakened by the policies of our current President, profoundly misconstrues geo-political realities.
At virtually no point during the decades long Cold War were either the United States or the Soviet Union able to directly counter the overt use of military force by its adversary when that adversary was operating within its own geographic sphere of influence, protecting its perceived vital national interests. That goes for both Democratic and Republican Presidents, moderates and hawks alike. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the U.S. Five Star General who defeated Hitler in Europe could not, as President, stop the Soviet Union from invading Hungary any more than the Soviets could prevent us from occupying Santo Domingo. Mutual deterrence, even when it overall succeeds in preserving the larger peace, has a downside as well as an upside. Direct large scale military conflicts between major powers are painstakingly avoided because the costs associated with such warfare, for both sides, are astronomical. For that very same reason, however, regionally confined acts of military intervention by a major military power against a third party nation, one not closely allied with an opposing major military power anyway, are seldom countered militarily by adversarial outside forces.
The last time that happened was during the Korean War when the United States directly confronted the military of Communist China. The human costs associated with that conflict were staggering. Between 1950 and 1953 there were 33,686 direct U.S. combat deaths in Korea far outstripping total American casualties from Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Especially after our Viet Nam experience where even more American troops died over a longer period of time, there is little public tolerance for seeing such sustained bloodshed revisited. Very few threats to our national interests rise to a level where the American people would support entering into a war that could result in hundreds of thousands of American casualties. Not only do most Republicans in Congress know that to be true, but with just a few note worthy exceptions the Republican leadership and Republican rank and file members in both houses of Congress were conspicuously gun shy when it appeared they have the opportunity to vote for authorizing missile strikes against Russian client state Syria, after Syria was accused of war crimes for using poison gas against its own civilian population. That would only have entailed a limited air attack on a Russian client state, not a direct engagement with Russian forces, and no American ground troops would have been involved. Still most Republicans in Congress had no stomach for signing their names to any legislation calling for direct military action against Syria, let alone directly confronting the Russian regime that is instrumental in keeping Assad in power in Damascus.
So many Republicans love bluster and routinely confuse it with strength, while reflexively scorning a broad range of diplomatic initiatives as only singling weakness, but they too read polls. The American public by overwhelming numbers wanted no part of any military strikes against Syria when that option was seriously being looked at. All indications are that the majority of Republicans in Congress would have voted to deny our President the authority to militarily punish Syria for its deadly and illegal transgressions. Yet they still persisted in calling the President weak.
How can military aggression by Russia against a regional neighbor be prevented or countered by the U.S. if direct use of the American military in such a conflict is realistically off the table? One option is set up and sponsor proxy forces to exert counter military pressure in support of our security objectives. The United States went that route in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion there. But proxy forces can be notoriously unreliable and ineffective, often accomplishing little at the cost of dangerously strained relations with the powerful aggressor state that we seek to counter. And the standing up of proxy forces can come with unanticipated negative consequences, such as the rise of Osama Bin Laden as a credible jihadist leader who morphed into our mortal enemy. Not to mention that Afghanistan was plunged into a decades long civil war that left that nation in shambles from which it has yet to recover. The U.S. belatedly came to recognize the actual cost of that chaos in Afghanistan, but initially disruptions inside that supposedly inconsequential nation were thought to have only minimal and manageable effects on American concerns, since aside from Cold War politics, the U.S. had little vital interest in Afghanistan. The Ukraine, sitting near the heart of Eastern Europe in close proximity to NATO nations, with growing economic ties to Western Europe, is on its face a very different matter. Armed conflict inside a nation like the Ukraine could not as easily be ignored or contained as it seemingly long was within Afghanistan.
Treaties and alliances are a traditional deterrent to military aggression and that is how NATO came to be. It's mutual defense clause guarantees that all member nations will come to the defense of any one of its members should that country be attacked. That explains why former Eastern Europe Soviet satellite states such as Poland, and reluctant Eastern Europe member states of the Soviet Union itself such as Latvia, were so eager to fall under the NATO umbrella as protection against possible Russian expansionism . But a military alliance in a multipolar world where no one side is all powerful is in essence a type of doomsday machine. It promises horrific violence for all concerned if an aggressor triggers it's mutual defense provisions. That functions well to deter violence if the threat of mass retaliation is suitably respected. But doomsday in a nonpartisan event. Both sides suffer grievously in any all out war. Defense pacts set up trip wires; cross that line and all hell breaks loose.
But trip wires have much in common with mine fields. The more mines that are buried over greater and greater amounts of territory, and the more trip wires that get strewn across expanding geo-political landscapes, the more likely it becomes that one will be intentionally or perhaps inadvertently be tested if events should ever spin out of control, as they sometimes are want to do. Will that doomsday machine actually be triggered or is it really just a bluff? At what point does the steady encroachment of new mine fields ever closer to your home become more threatening than confronting the mines previously put in place? Some make the case that were the Ukraine a part of NATO Russia would never have invaded it. A case can also be made that had NATO not kept advancing closer and closer to Russia's borders that Russia would have been less motivated to take a stand and cross a line into the Crimea. Military Alliances are powerful potential tools for peace but they too can bring with them potential unintended consequences of a very serious nature. They too present inherent risks.
The Russians long viewed Eastern Europe as a buffer zone protecting it from aggression from the West. In recent years they have seen carefully cultivated and frequently imposed buffer shrink. That can be unnerving to leaders with a strong nationalist streak and a sightly paranoid bent. For generations the United States proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine, defining the Western Hemisphere as our special domain. One could say that U.S. leaders became a bit unhinged when Fidel Castro proclaimed Cuba to be a Marxist state. We narrowly avoided a nuclear cataclysm and assured mutual destruction over Cuba before all was said and done.
What options are left then, if a direct military response to Russian military moves against one of its neighboring states is ruled out, when a proxy war is ill advised, and when expanding a military alliance becomes dangerously uncertain as to whether it would succeed at keeping the peace or instead tempt an even greater disaster? In the Ukraine of course that latter option is officially moot, at least for the immediate future. The Ukraine is not a NATO member and Russian troops are already on the ground there. So, when both sides wield big sticks and it appears each would get maimed if they were simultaneously swung, what other incentives exist that could ultimately influence the behavior of an adversary in a positive rather than negative direction? We all know that alternative well. We call it Carrots. But Carrots, Republicans say, are a reward, and you should never reward bad behavior. There is an alternative to either punishing with sticks or rewarding with carrots however, and that is to withdraw some carrots previously put in place. Of course that requires a degree of planning and general foresight, to get those carrots in their place to begin with, but at this point in human history it should be apparent that a prolonged peace is never achieved easily. It always takes effort and planning, and it takes sustained relationship building in many simultaneous spheres of endeavor for extended periods of time.
There is a word for the policy of doing exactly that, and that word in engagement. It isn't a new concept nor is it particularly ideological at its core. It's what Nixon did with China. It involves weaving a web of subtle interdependency in ways both large and small. It means transforming the status quo so that formerly entrenched adversaries begin to have more to lose than gain by allowing remaining flash points that exist between them to escalate rather than dissipate. There are bumps on any road, some more severe than others. And those become the times when existing carrots embedded in a relationship are at least temporarily withdrawn instead of offering new ones. At some point in an interdependent relationship the loss of some hard earned and long counted on carrots carries a sting as sure as a blow from a stick, without directly risking an escalation of violence.
Yes Putin wants Russia to again be a great nation, but he wants Russia to be great within a community of nations, standing proudly alongside great peers, not for it to now be isolated as some type of brooding and troubled pariah. Like China, Russia sees a need to integrate its economy ever more closely with the rest of the world to remain relevant and prosper over the coming century. A stick is a very blunt tool to wield, limited in its useful applications as I've discussed above relative to our current options regarding the Russian invasion of the Crimea. It is the strings of an international social and economic order that Russia benefits from participating in that most forcibly constrain Russia's military actions now. It is the past fruit of long pursued bi-partisan efforts consistent with the Obama Administrations recent efforts to “reset our relationship with Russia” that are providing us with whatever leverage the G8 nations now hold over Putin's next actions now. It is the carrots we now can threaten to withdraw, only because we had the foresight to have tendered them earlier under less tense circumstances, that provides us with any influence as events in the Ukraine continue to evolve. And hollow bluster has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Obama isn't weak, he's right. This is a serious episode flaring up in the middle of a continuing long term game plan. The overall strategy remains correct. Embracing a new Cold War, in so many ways, would be a mistake of epic proportions. That truly should be the last resort.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 06:41 PM (23 replies)
Have a progressive agenda we want implemented? "Make me do it" is the presidential reply. That clearly applies to Obama, since he literally said it, but it also applies to every President we are likely to ever see elected in our lifetimes. It is a very long hard climb to reach the presidency and whoever gets there arrives accompanied by a truck load of I.O.U.s. We have a political system that is obscenely skewed by money, but even if money wasn't as disproportionately transcendent in American politics as it is, the presidency is an inherently conservative institution. The federal government, and the cumulative interests that it has served for generations, has tremendous inertia behind it to remain on track in whatever track it now is running on. And that by definition is the status quo, which always means that the people who are getting what they want from the current societal order always start out holding most of the strings.
The only time I half expected anything remotely resembling revolutionary changes flowing top down from the President to the people was during that brief shining moment when it looked like RFK would become the next President of the United States But those were extraordinary times and Bobby was an extraordinary person whose character was forged in fires during those extraordinary times. We don't know how much he could have accomplished, but even he would have needed to lean heavily on the support he knew he could summon from a breathtaking broad spectrum of socially engaged grass roots backers.
For every degree left of center that Barack Obama navigates he does so by breaking through thick political pack ice, and it always takes its toll, even when it ultimately shatters. It is true that some women, and some men, are made of steel more hardened than the norm, and they will confront some storms that others would shy away from, but they too ultimately have to pick their fights in order to be viable. Which is ultimately why I am not overly disheartened by the likelihood of a Hillary Clinton Democratic candidacy for President. In the end it is less about the candidate and more about us.
In the binary political world of American politics, where the cumulative forces of every national special interest conceivable places its chips on either black or red in each national election, the field of political combat starts off tightly confined. The lines are drawn just short of the extreme right on one side of the field, and narrowly left of center at the other. In that binary world, at the national level, our team is the one that will at least occasionally acknowledge the legitimacy of occupying any ground laying left of center. How hard they will fight for that ground is a different story. Pragmatic considerations usually pull toward the center of the well worn playing field with its inherent conservative bias, not to the center of an abstract political spectrum where actual socialism remains a theoretically valid option
The President we elect can venture outside traditionally defined boundaries, but only on rare occasions, and only when there is a strong groundswell of popular support pushing hard for that line to be crossed. The lines themselves are theoretically subject to change, but bringing about that type of change is much more formidable to accomplish than are isolated single transgressions across those boundaries. It is our continuing struggle and responsibility to move the lines, of what it is possible to achieve in the way of social justice in America. That initiative won't come from the man or woman we manage to elect as President in any given four year cycle. We will have to make him or her move toward us. We can't place all of our eggs in any presidential basket, no matter how inspirational on one hand, or disillusioning on the other, he or she may ultimately turn out to be.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Feb 13, 2014, 03:50 PM (10 replies)
It's the only plausible explanation left for what happened with the George Washington Bridge access lane closures if you accept Chris Christie at his word. Sure Bridget had a secure six figure job with a promising path forward for career advancement. Her immediate supervisor was slated for promotion to become New Jersey's Attorney General, opening up his slot as Chief of Staff to the Governor. Her ultimate boss, New Jersey Governor Christie, was being talked about widely as in line to become President of the United State; lots of potentially great new job possibilities lay waiting over that horizon. Life was running smoothly. There was no suspense left in Christie's campaign for reelection to a second term as Governor, everyone knew that he was cruising toward a rout of his Democratic opponent in November. What could go wrong? The future looked bright, and apparently it's a very fine line that separates bright from boring.
It's true that Bridget was a single mom with four kids, and most people would think that by itself provided excitement enough, but apparently not for a thrill seeker like Bridget Kelly. Her life was mired in a secure and predictably successful rut. So one morning it seems she work up and thought "Now is the time to go rogue!" Why, who really knows? Not all mortals are created equal. Some choose to climb Mount Everest, simply because it's there. No one had ever ordered the closure of two Fort Lee access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge for four days for no apparent reason before, but Bridget Kelly was in uncharted territory, boldly going where no politico had gone before. Isn't that reason enough? If something had gone wrong during Sir Edmund Hilary's ascent of Everest, it could have cost him his life. If something had gone wrong during the gridlock in Fort Lee it could have cost Bridget Kelly her career and freedom. Some would say that's a small price to pay for the rush of screwing with other people's lives. Apparently Bridget Kelly is one of those people.
People like that have charisma. People like that are born leaders. And so when Bridget Kelly told David Wildstein “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” he was compelled to obey her. Not because the man who appointed David to that newly minted, no resume needed to apply, plush position at the Port Authority would have wanted him to. In his heart of heart Wildstein knew that Chris Chrisite was no bully. It simply wasn't the Governors style to throw his weight around. The Governor cultivated a culture of deference to the needs of others within his office, even when that undermined his own political ambitions. David Wildstein knew all that about Chris Chrisite, but still he obeyed Bridget Kelly; “Got it” he unhesitatingly replied when her potent gaze fell upon him. Bridget ordered Wildstein to go rogue and he, now under her considerable spell, complied.
Chris Christie was wise not to question Bridget Kelly about her motives before he fired her on that fateful and resolute morning. New Jersey could have ill afforded having the Governor himself tempted by her siren ways. But somewhere in Hoboken a Mayor was watching closely. “Being at the center of a political fireball looks like fun” Dawn Zimmer said to no one in particular. “Maybe I should offer some false testimony to a federal prosecutor.”
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Feb 4, 2014, 04:57 PM (17 replies)
I, like millions of other Americas, have watched the emergence of this new generation of television journalists with delight. Like the whole political world, it seems, I am glued to their collective coverage of the assorted scandals that the Chris Christie administration (and the Port Authority) are now embroiled in. But the sentiment I want to express here is only tangentially connected with that, or more accurately, their Christie coverage is an illuminating example of a promise finally kept which suddenly dawned on me this morning while watching Up with Steve Konaccki.
Their kind of in depth reporting is what I long ago expected would become much more commonplace after the explosion of new TV channels that cable TV opened up, after decades of Americans being limited to television programming provided by three major networks and a handful of independent stations. This is what I once thought CNN would evolve into, and if not them than someone else after hundreds of new channels became available to viewers to choose between.
Yeah I know that for the most part we live in a vast corporate media wasteland but even so there was always daily in depth investigative journalism provided by many newspapers throughout the United States. True it didn't always make above the fold front page coverage, but in depth reporting did make its way into print and could be found by those diligently inclined to look for it. I once naively believed the same would be true with cable news. I didn't expect an ABC, CBS, or NBC news anchor to walk viewers through nuanced webs of circumstantial evidence in a search for smoking guns. I didn't expect the major networks to devote their precious few minutes of prime time national news on connect the dots exercises through the murky backwaters of government agency filings. But I thought someone would, probably someone found on a station with not one, but two or even three digits attached to it. Cable TV could make that happen, I thought to myself back then. But it didn't, not with any dependable regularity anyway.
But this morning I remembered those long ago expectations about the type of TV news coverage I expected would soon be reliably available to those who chose to seek it out. All those hours in a 24 hour news cycle, all those hundreds of channels, it should be possible to find it. Today it suddenly struck me that I was watching exactly that, not hours of video of a smoking airplane crash with recaps every ten minute of what was currently known, or an incessant parade of talking heads speculating on just how juror X would relate to the latest revelation in a newly minted celebrity murder trial.
These three fine television journalists in particular ; Steve, Chris, and Rachel, are fulfilling the promise that I long ago had forgotten once seemed so promising. Painstaking details, a dedication to fully inform the public of whatever relevant back stories were in play. What a joy to see that live and kicking on my TV screen in America.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Feb 1, 2014, 11:52 AM (32 replies)