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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 16,830

Journal Archives

I Don't Know If Scott Walker Is A Human

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.

Why is the left so focused on Warren when Bernie Sanders is actively considering running?

OK, granted, I love both of them, and IMO of the two Warren does have a better overall chance of winning in a general election over a Republican candidate. But Warren is extremely reluctant (at best) to run. That translates into she almost certainly will not oppose Hillary for the nomination, as long as Hillary wants it and continues to be viewed as a highly viable candidate.

What would make Hillary no longer seem so viable? Well something out of her control like a serous illness could stop her, just like it could stop any potential candidate, Aside from that the only thing I can think of remotely capable of derailing the self fulfilling prophecy of her as the inevitable Democratic nominee would require her getting very seriously dinged up by a challenger from the left. But there always is a risk in seriously dinging a leading presidential candidate; they may well win the nomination anyway and then go on to run as damaged goods in the general election. That's a potential conundrum for those of us who want a more progressive candidate because Hillary is so far ahead of the Democratic "pack" (or whatever one calls her possible Democratic opponents) that the pull to unify around her is being strongly felt by many, including Elizabeth Warren.

A very good thing about both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is that both of them are classy, neither of them is the type to initiate a mud bath campaign. I would not be overly concerned about either one of them trying to personally tear down Hillary Clinton rather than engaging in a principled debate on the issues. I think it would be great for the Democratic Party and the Nation if at least one of them challenged Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But as it stands now it's not likely to be Warren who will do so. Yet while Elizabeth Warren keeps repeating that she is not running for President, Bernie Sanders openly states that he is seriously considering running in the Democratic primaries.

Bernie Sanders is superb at progressively framing the issues is blunt no nonsense terms that most Americans can easily understand and relate to. If you ask most Americans if they want a socialist for President they will predictably say no, but if you ask them if they agree with statements Bernie Sanders actually makes the results can be radically different. The problem is very few voters outside of Vermont actually get to hear Bernie Sanders speak (unless they regularly watch MSNBC). Running in the Democratic presidential primaries would significantly address that deficit in exposure that Bernie Sanders now suffers from. As a sitting U.S. Senator with a national following on the left, he could not be omitted from upcoming presidential debates any more so than Dennis Kucinich could be in 2004. And unlike 2004, the Democratic debate stage in 2016 is unlikely to be cluttered up with 8 candidates vying for precious few TV minutes to make their key points in.

But Bernie Sanders, despite his very real interest in doing so, has not yet decided to enter the race. He is weighing such a run right now, in real time. It reminds me a little of 2008 when Wes Clark had a sincere and genuine interest in running again, but only if support for him doing so reached a certain minimum threshold which ultimately he decided it hadn't. During that period when Clark was weighing his options many of those who were dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton (and some who admittedly underestimated Barack Obama's chances) kept holding out hope that Al Gore would enter the race instead. Al Gore always said he wasn't going to run in 2004, and as it turns out he didn't. I am also reminded of 1968, when Bobby Kennedy seemed disinclined to run for President against LBJ, but Gene McCarthy decided to take on the prohibitive favorite for the 1968 Democratic nomination in New Hampshire. Lyndon Johnson found himself heavily dinged by a challenger from the Left in that primary and ultimately pulled out of running for the Presidency. With LBJ sidelined, RFK entered the field an was poised to win the nomination, and ultimately the presidency, before he got assassinated.

Can anyone deny Clinton the nomination if she wants it this time? Uncertain, most likely not, but yes still possible. But only if someone steps forward soon with a strong leftist populist message to challenge her. Bernie Sanders can be that someone, and he actually seems interested in being that someone. But the national progressive media, such as it is, and organizations like Move On, still remain fixated on coaxing Elizabeth Warren into the race rather than encouraging Bernie Sanders to indeed step forward. Tactically, I fear we are making a big mistake not rallying more to Sanders now, when it really matters.

Obama should remind Republicans how much they respected "the electorate's voice" in 2008 and 2012

They could care less. Those Republicans who managed to remain in office those years claimed they were elected to do their job and they planned to do just that regardless of how well Obama or other Democrats did in their own races, and they never bothered to stop claiming that they spoke for "the American people" whenever they disagreed with Obama.

And, oh year, many millions more of the American people voted in 2008 and 2012 than voted in 2010 and 2014

Yes Democratic strategy sucked in 2014. it was an odd election, now it's over.

Think of every sports metaphor you remember about playing not to lose, and how those who play that way usually do just that. On the national level, on the media message level, it was all about holding onto Senate seats in red states and trying to avoid anything that might spook centrist to center right voters into handing the Senate over to the Republican Party. Surprise surprise, it didn't work. This election Democratic Party leaders was conspicuously silent when it came to crowing about any progressive stands apart from reproductive rights. That daring departure no doubt rested on demographic research that concluded more women vote than men and even states like Mississippi reject personhood amendments. Democrats this year couldn't distinguish a clarion call from a noon whistle when it came to rallying voters.

This year they adapted a prevent defense for a game geared toward red state fields, forgetting perhaps that even with its obvious flaws a prevent defense only makes a smattering of sense if you already hold a clear lead. I suppose they were counting the number of incumbent Senate seats they could afford to give up and still cling on for a "victory" by running out the clock

2016 will look nothing like 2014. Americans turn out in presidential election years, and next time around it will be Republicans having to worry about holding on to seats they hold in ideologically unfavorable terrain. In 2016 it will be ideological war, and Republicans won't shy away from it because they know they have no real defense other than a strong offense.Democrats damn well better fight this time.

I believe Jihadists must be forcefully countered

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.

I rarely "Fall in Love" with a Presidential Candidate

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.

This is the most powerful song I've heard since "Blowing in the Wind"

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:

Some excellent reporting on what has happened to the U.S. Sailors who responded to Fukushima

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 Navyís 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 didnít 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 didnít use much protective gear at all because radiation readings they got off the skin of the aircraft werenít 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..."

If a big part of the Democratic base were as crazy as a big part of the Republican base...

...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".

About Me and the Prez

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.
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