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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 15,409

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Bridget Kelly woke up one day and realized "Hey, my life is too dull".

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.”

Steve Kornacki, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow: Promise Kept

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.

Why didn't Zimmer turn immediately to the U.S. Attorney for NJ? Well, who used to hold that job?

Oh yeah, Chris Christie, from 2002 to 2008. He was the guy who Zimmer originally went out on a limb for, giving him cross party praise for helping clean up corruption inside New Jersey. Christie helped bust Democrats who abused state power when he was the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. Then Zimmer discovered that Christie was abusing it himself. Why on earth would she trust anyone to be honest given the evidence of long term endemic serial political corruption in New Jersey? How far did the power of money in New Jersey penetrate? I sure as hell would have been asking myself that question back in July if I were Mayor Zimmer.

Back in July the entire national media was having a love fest over Chris Christie because of his image as a straight shooter that they all swallowed hook line and sinker. Christie was riding high in New Jersey running away with his bid for reelection. He was being praised for being above politics when it came to Sandy relief. Had Zimmer come out against Christie then he and his media friends would have immediately pounced on her for being politically motivated. They would have spread rumors that key Democrats had gotten to her, that there would likely be some pay off for Zimmer if her charges against Christie derailed his expected victory in November. That would have been a plausible line of attack against her back in July.

What supporting evidence did Mayor Zimmer have to make her case against Christie back then? Her diary would have been worthless as evidence in July since clearly she could have fabricated journal entries against Christie concurrent with her going public against him if her accusations were false. Back in July there was no way Zimmer could have known that Christie would become embroiled in a national scandal stemming from a bridge related traffic jam that hadn't happened yet. She had every reason to expect that Christie would be a national darling after sweeping to reelection in November; it makes zero sense that she would have plotted against Christie in July expecting to take him down in December. Had Zimmer moved to expose the Governor's corruption in July she could only expect to be swept aside, she had to feel alone back then not knowing if there was anyone she could trust to not do Christie's bidding. Why would she trust the U.S. Attorney for NJ in that political climate? Just because he was appointed by a Democrat this time? Corruption in New Jersey has long been a bipartisan affair.

The fate of these 2 issues will likely be determined in the next 6 months. Which is more critical?

One issue centers on domestic politics, and all of the implications that may hold for us as a nation moving forward. The other centers on international relations, and all of the repercussions that may hold for us as a nation moving forward.

One involves Chris Christie, the other involves Iran. Which outcome will have the most far reaching consequences?

How Hardliners Pull Nations Into War

Iran nuclear deal comes into force as US sanctions loom
http://news.yahoo.com/iran-nuclear-deal-comes-force-us-sanctions-loom-033908387.html

"In line with the implementation of the Geneva joint plan of action, Iran suspended the production of 20 percent enriched uranium in the presence of UN nuclear watchdog inspectors at Natanz and Fordo sites," Mohammad Amiri, director general for safeguards at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, told the official IRNA news agency.

UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the freeze had begun, diplomats said in Vienna, headquarters of the watchdog...

Iran's conservative newspapers on Monday came out strongly against the implementation of the deal.


Under the headline, "Nuclear holocaust', Vatan-e Emrooz paper said that the Geneva deal will see most of the country's nuclear activities come to a halt.

Threatening to scupper the process is a push by US lawmakers -- including some from Obama's own party -- to slap new sanctions on the Islamic republic, even though this would contravene the November deal.

Where do your U.S. Senators stand on scuttling negotiations with Iran?

Something no one has yet said about Christie's "hardball" handling of political "enemies".

No one in either the media or politics is foolish enough to try to defend what happened to the general public in Fort Lee when George Washington Bridge access lanes were closed for indefensible reasons. But turn on Morning Joe for example and you will witness a wink wink nod nod acceptance of "hardball politics" in New Jersey as something only to be expected. The inference is that successful politicians, at least those in New Jersey, know how to reward their friends and punish their enemies. True, in this particular instance some red line was crossed when the lives of the public were put at risk while some form of as yet murky retribution was exacted by the Christie administration against presumed political enemies. But If you keep the general public out of the direct line of fire, this line of reasoning goes, why shouldn't a politician reward his or her political friends and punish his or her political enemies? That's how things get done in the real world, or so some say.

What isn't noted though is the perverse nature of the sting operation Chris Christie ran during his last election campaign. It was the political equivalent of criminal entrapment. Christie didn't merely target preexisting enemies in an attempt to take them down. He offered "deals that you can't refuse" to numerous mayors who showed up in his sights simply because they happened to have been elected as Democrats. They weren't Christie enemies, not if you take him at his word that he values governing in a bipartisan manner. These simply were mayors who held office as Democrats at a time when Christie wanted Democratic endorsements so he could demonstrate to a national audience that he had "bipartisan support" to further his personal ambitions. From what I have seen so far the mayors of Fort Lee, Jersey City and Hoboken never went out of their way to cross Chris Christie. Chris Christie went out of his way to put them on the hot seat.

When did it become a political capital offense for an elected official of one party to not endorse the head of the opposing party's state wide ticket in an election? That wasn't bare knuckled politics Chris Christie was playing in New Jersey during his last campaign for governor, whether or not he actually ordered those bridge access lanes closed. It was extortion pure and simple.

Iran in U.S. Senate Crosshairs.

NOTE: I posted this two weeks ago in Democratic Underground's General Discussion Forum. Since then the legislation spoken of has gathered steam, and now is nearing the level of support needed to over ride a presidential veto. While this OP offers little if any "new" information, I think it confronts and refutes the arguments being used by those seeking new restrictions on Iran, and exposes the actual motivations of those proposing them - along with the most likely ramifications if their efforts succeed.:


Pending legislation actively supported by a significant minority of the U.S. Senate, including 15 Democratic Senators, establishes strict economic sanctions to be imposed on Iran should it not adhere to actions demanded of it during the current interim six month negotiating window regarding it's nuclear program. The Obama Administration opposes the Senate Bill, arguing that talks with Iran are at a fragile and sensitive stage and any further talk of sanctions at this point runs the risk of scuttling them. Not surprisingly the Senate sponsors of this bill deny any desire to torpedo the current negotiations with Iran. They claim their intent is to provide incentives to Iran to negotiate in good faith. Their actions, they say, increase the likelihood of reaching a negotiated outcome with Iran consistent with long stated U.S. security concerns. They may say that, and some of them may even believe it, but their actions are far more likely to increase the chances of a war with Iran.

No knowledgeable observer can deny that powerful forces, some inside Iran, others associated with the U.S. and our allies, are unsettled if not unabashedly alarmed, at the direction the current nuclear talks have taken. That type of concern seems to flare up whenever long time adversaries show mutual signs of breaking loose from deeply entrenched opposing positions. International disputes ultimately are settled in one of two ways. Either one side essentially capitulates in the face of threats, up to and sometimes including the use of force against them, or some type of settlement of outstanding differences is negotiated. The former often leads to war. The latter almost always involves some degree of compromise, but hardliners on BOTH sides of a dispute usually oppose the granting of any real concessions to their adversaries.

The motives of those opposed to the current negotiations over Iran's nuclear program on both sides may differ wildly, but the short term tactical goal is identical; derail any real diplomacy that proposes anything other than a blueprint for the terms of the other side's surrender. When hardliners lose an internal struggle with more moderate elements to shape their nation's stance in an international dispute, they will try to inflame extremist passions on BOTH side of the dispute. They know it makes no difference which side ultimately disrupts negotiations. All that matters is the failure of the negotiating process.

No doubt opponents of the current peace process inside of the Iranian regime are doing all that they can to poison the well; to stoke up as much hatred of and suspicion toward America as possible. Opponents of the current peace process inside of America, Israel, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are counting on exactly that. There is a phrase that gets used in diplomacy that we seldom stop to ponder the meaning or implications of, and that term is “in good faith”. It's not the sort of precise criteria that is easily verifiable, but whether or not each side believes that the opposing side is negotiating in “good faith” is critical to the success of most negotiations. Another important diplomacy related concept is “trust building initiatives”. There seems to be a diplomatic consensus that trust building measures are crucial before real progress can be made resolving long standing disputes between nations with an entrenched distrust of each other.

If it is possible for a party to be recognized for “negotiating in good faith” it is equally possible for it to be accused of “negotiating in bad faith”. The latter is actually the more likely outcome when negotiations occur against the backdrop of deeply held suspicions. And that is precisely why trust building measures are so central to diplomacy, and why they are needed now during the standoff with Iran. Diplomacy at the highest levels has resumed between the United States and Iran. It is an historical breakthrough. Both sides are intently studying how this breakthrough is being perceived by the other, across the great divide. Is it being viewed with relief, and at least cautious optimism, or is it a cause for greater concern, with an expectation of failure and worse days to come?

Cue the United States Senate, where lobbyists representing the interests of other nations aligned with the United States are hard at work behind the scenes trying to influence U.S. policy toward Iran during the current stand off regarding Iran's nuclear program. Clearly there are honest differences of opinion over if and how to proceed with negotiations. Those differences have been at the heart of countless debates within the U.S. State Department and have been the focus of endless consultations with our allies. They were fully weighed, they were fully considered, and the current negotiations with Iran are the product of those deliberations.

Secretary of State John Kerry could not be clearer in warning that new Congressional initiatives regarding Iran policy at this point in our relationship with that nation are not only counter productive, they are dangerous and undercut the chances of successfully defusing our impasse with Iran, and significantly increase the likelihood of armed conflict with that nation. Those warnings have not deterred those who object to the diplomatic process now underway, but they have influenced the tactics that they are using to undercut those negotiations

An initial flurry of voices rose in stark opposition to the 6 month interim agreement reached with Iran when it was first announced, until the American people weighed in on the deal. Most polls have shown a clear majority of Americans supporting it. As a result, rather than directly opposing the current six month window for negotiations, opposition strategy has shifted toward more subtly undermining it. Hence the current emphasis on providing “incentives to Iran”, in the form of specifically defined threats. Yes, it is argued, they will not take effect unless the negotiations fail, but the effect of those threats is to increase the likelihood of that failure. New threats from America coincident with the first hesitant warming of relations between our nation in over 30 years, predictably play poorly inside of Iran, and that plays directly into the hands of hard line Iranian elements who thrive on opposing America.

That is the real goal of the threats the U.S. Senate is weighing against Iran. The neocons may have lost the last few Middle East rounds but they have not exited the field. They still want to topple the Iranian regime, just like they wanted to depose Saddam Hussein. They still are promising the American people that it will be a “cakewalk” to liberate Iran from oppression, just like it was supposed to be in Iraq. Just a few more hard turns of the economic screws and the regime will crumble in the face of domestic unrest, “Don't stop now, we're winning” is their mantra. And if it comes to blows there is always shock and awe.

I was reading about the weather in the NY Times & THIS jumps out at me

MINNEAPOLIS —" Hildagard Omete, 36, a mother of three who has been unemployed for a year and a half, went job hunting on Monday.

Sitting at the public library scanning help-wanted ads on a computer, Ms. Omete was wearing two hoods and a knitted hat, along with a full-length down jacket.
It was cold inside the library

Outside, the temperature was downright frigid, even by Minnesota standards. The thermometer read minus 15 to minus 20 degrees for most of the day..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/07/us/arctic-cold-blankets-midwest-freezing-routines.html?_r=0

The story was titled: "Arctic Cold Blankets Midwest, Freezing Routines". Most of what followed was pure weather talk, facts and and bone chilling figures (a homeless shelter was also mentioned far down in the text). But the lead in featured the long term unemployed. Out of work for a year and a half and this woman was out there on a brutally cold Monday morning searching for job leads from a frigid public library.

The truth about this economy and the plight of those who the Republicans cut loose from the economic safety net by refusing to extend unemployment benefits is now breaking through in frigging weather coverage.

P.S. Obviously they are all lazy do nothing unemployment queens.

Iran in U.S. Senate Crosshairs.

Pending legislation actively supported by a significant minority of the U.S. Senate, including 15 Democratic Senators, establishes strict economic sanctions to be imposed on Iran should it not adhere to actions demanded of it during the current interim six month negotiating window regarding it's nuclear program. The Obama Administration opposes the Senate Bill, arguing that talks with Iran are at a fragile and sensitive stage and any further talk of sanctions at this point runs the risk of scuttling them. Not surprisingly the Senate sponsors of this bill deny any desire to torpedo the current negotiations with Iran. They claim their intent is to provide incentives to Iran to negotiate in good faith. Their actions, they say, increase the likelihood of reaching a negotiated outcome with Iran consistent with long stated U.S. security concerns. They may say that, and some of them may even believe it, but their actions are far more likely to increase the chances of a war with Iran.

No knowledgeable observer can deny that powerful forces, some inside Iran, others associated with the U.S. and our allies, are unsettled if not unabashedly alarmed, at the direction the current nuclear talks have taken. That type of concern seems to flare up whenever long time adversaries show mutual signs of breaking loose from deeply entrenched opposing positions. International disputes ultimately are settled in one of two ways. Either one side essentially capitulates in the face of threats, up to and sometimes including the use of force against them, or some type of settlement of outstanding differences is negotiated. The former often leads to war. The latter almost always involves some degree of compromise, but hardliners on BOTH sides of a dispute usually oppose the granting of any real concessions to their adversaries.

The motives of those opposed to the current negotiations over Iran's nuclear program on both sides may differ wildly, but the short term tactical goal is identical; derail any real diplomacy that proposes anything other than a blueprint for the terms of the other side's surrender. When hardliners lose an internal struggle with more moderate elements to shape their nation's stance in an international dispute, they will try to inflame extremist passions on BOTH side of the dispute. They know it makes no difference which side ultimately disrupts negotiations. All that matters is the failure of the negotiating process.

No doubt opponents of the current peace process inside of the Iranian regime are doing all that they can to poison the well; to stoke up as much hatred of and suspicion toward America as possible. Opponents of the current peace process inside of America, Israel, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are counting on exactly that. There is a phrase that gets used in diplomacy that we seldom stop to ponder the meaning or implications of, and that term is “in good faith”. It's not the sort of precise criteria that is easily verifiable, but whether or not each side believes that the opposing side is negotiating in “good faith” is critical to the success of most negotiations. Another important diplomacy related concept is “trust building initiatives”. There seems to be a diplomatic consensus that trust building measures are crucial before real progress can be made resolving long standing disputes between nations with an entrenched distrust of each other.

If it is possible for a party to be recognized for “negotiating in good faith” it is equally possible for it to be accused of “negotiating in bad faith”. The latter is actually the more likely outcome when negotiations occur against the backdrop of deeply held suspicions. And that is precisely why trust building measures are so central to diplomacy, and why they are needed now during the standoff with Iran. Diplomacy at the highest levels has resumed between the United States and Iran. It is an historical breakthrough. Both sides are intently studying how this breakthrough is being perceived by the other, across the great divide. Is it being viewed with relief, and at least cautious optimism, or is it a cause for greater concern, with an expectation of failure and worse days to come?

Cue the United States Senate, where lobbyists representing the interests of other nations aligned with the United States are hard at work behind the scenes trying to influence U.S. policy toward Iran during the current stand off regarding Iran's nuclear program. Clearly there are honest differences of opinion over if and how to proceed with negotiations. Those differences have been at the heart of countless debates within the U.S. State Department and have been the focus of endless consultations with our allies. They were fully weighed, they were fully considered, and the current negotiations with Iran are the product of those deliberations.

Secretary of State John Kerry could not be clearer in warning that new Congressional initiatives regarding Iran policy at this point in our relationship with that nation are not only counter productive, they are dangerous and undercut the chances of successfully defusing our impasse with Iran, and significantly increase the likelihood of armed conflict with that nation. Those warnings have not deterred those who object to the diplomatic process now underway, but they have influenced the tactics that they are using to undercut those negotiations

An initial flurry of voices rose in stark opposition to the 6 month interim agreement reached with Iran when it was first announced, until the American people weighed in on the deal. Most polls have shown a clear majority of Americans supporting it. As a result, rather than directly opposing the current six month window for negotiations, opposition strategy has shifted toward more subtly undermining it. Hence the current emphasis on providing “incentives to Iran”, in the form of specifically defined threats. Yes, it is argued, they will not take effect unless the negotiations fail, but the effect of those threats is to increase the likelihood of that failure. New threats from America coincident with the first hesitant warming of relations between our nation in over 30 years, predictably play poorly inside of Iran, and that plays directly into the hands of hard line Iranian elements who thrive on opposing America.

That is the real goal of the threats the U.S. Senate is weighing against Iran. The neocons may have lost the last few Middle East rounds but they have not exited the field. They still want to topple the Iranian regime, just like they wanted to depose Saddam Hussein. They still are promising the American people that it will be a “cakewalk” to liberate Iran from oppression, just like it was supposed to be in Iraq. Just a few more hard turns of the economic screws and the regime will crumble in the face of domestic unrest, “Don't stop now, we're winning” is their mantra. And if it comes to blows there is always shock and awe.

The neocon position is known and understood by the government in Iran. What they are unsure of is how much support that position has in the United States government. Iran is no more likely to make critical concessions to an opponent negotiating in bad faith than we are. If the U.S. Senate succeeds in lining up new sanctions against Iran now, when trust building rather than saber rattling is a prerequisite to any long term diplomatic settlement. the fate of the interim negotiations is sealed. American hardliners, and their counterpoints in Iran, will have carried the day, and they can then get on with pursuing the mortal conflict that they believe to be inevitable.

The Official video for John Lennon's 'Merry Xmas (War Is Over)'. Not upbeat but powerful.

So I was putting together a short holiday greeting to two young women (in their mid 30's - to me that's young) who are kind of like step children to me, and I thought, why not send them a video of "Merry Xmas (War is Over)? I turned both of them on to John Lennon as a solo artist when they were 17 and they have liked him ever since.

So I did a search for it and found multiple versions - along with other great Beatles related stuff by the way. Far as I can tell there is no live performance video of John and Yoko singing this but there are lots that have good visuals to go along with the music. All the highlighted recommended versions were by and large upbeat, with some emphasizing the idealistic sentiments of the song. I was having fun viewing some, trying to decide which to send them when I noticed a version that was described as "The Official video for John Lennon 'Merry Xmas (War Is Over)'" It wasn't one of the recommended options. The music is the familiar upbeat song we all know, but the visuals are haunting and very sad, actually jarring to look at because they are a condemnation of war.

I had never seen it before, I knew nothing about it. It wasn't as easy to view videos or song films in 1971 as it is now, back when there wasn't an internet or Youtube. I thought twice about sending them the actual version that John and Yoko released, it is not cheerful holiday viewing, but of course I finally just did. I did so with this comment:

"This song coupled with this video goes a long way toward explaining why I loved John Lennon so much, and why I had so much respect for him and Yoko. I hope you both are having a happy Christmas Day. John and Yoko wished that for all of us."

Here is the video:
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