Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
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That's simply what they do. Bill Clinton was a moderate white male Governor from the South who they accused of ripping off their policies WHILE they savagely attacked and ultimately impeached him. Barack Obama came to prominence with a stirring call to transcend partisan divides. He gave praise to Ronald Reagan and embraced Republican pioneered solutions to problems that faced America, such as Cap and Trade to limit greenhouse gases and Romney Care to insure the uninsured. From day one they plotted to thwart his every move, and employed the ugliest tactics they could muster.
It doesn't matter if we nominate Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the Republicans will savagely attack. It doesn't matter how moderate or progressive our candidate ultimately is, the Republicans will savagely attack. It won't matter if their line of attack contains a grain of truth or is totally bogus, their attacks will be savage. John Kerry faked his heroism in Vietnam, Barack Obama is a Muslim, Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster, Bernie Sanders is a Communist.
If we let fear of the Republican Attack machine steer our choice of a Presidential nominee, they will have thoroughly out psyched us before the campaign even begins.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Feb 16, 2016, 10:55 AM (60 replies)
If the horizon of political debate inside America remains defined by what can be gotten past Republican obstructionists in a current session of Congress, then they are the ones controlling the political agenda not just for this year, but for decades to come. The Right has been playing the long game since 1968.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Feb 16, 2016, 10:09 AM (9 replies)
Social change has never been about having realistic goals in the short term. It has never been about negotiating compromises that can win the support of those who embody the status quo now. When that is the benchmark used to calibrate fundamental justice we end up with agreements like a written Constitution that defined resident African American slaves as 3/5ths persons when it came to drawing up Congressional districts.
Negotiation and compromise concerning justice in any form represent at best a temporary stage in an ongoing larger battle; an argument that half a loaf is better than none. Some times it may be, other times not, but never is a half loaf reason to disavow the need for a full one if that in fact is what is truly needed.
Republican politicians seem to grasp that fact more clearly than do most of our Democratic leaders. No compromise resolves virtually any issue for them. As far as many of them are concerned, the American Civil War didn't even define the limitations on States Rights. Conservatives will never convincingly repudiate their vision for privatizing Social Security no matter how often Democrats beat them back on it. They just kick it back to one of their movement think tanks for repackaging before they trot it out once again.
The Republican Right never used the fact that Democrats held a decades long near institutional lock on majorities in the House of Representatives as a reason to abandon their own extreme vision for America. They continued to fight hard, weathered setbacks when the winds blew against them, and negotiated for the best deals they could manage when full victory seemed temporarily beyond their reach. But they never disowned their vision of what they believed would be best for America.
Republicans began fighting to privatize public education at a time when even the concept of that seemed foreign to most Americans - when there seemed to be no way in hell that governments controlled by Democrats would ever go one inch down that road. That didn't matter to them, they just kept advancing the notion until they gained some foot holds they could build on. Tuition free public colleges and universities may sound pie in the sky now, but they once were well established in many places, including California. That was at odds with the vision though of Ronald Reagan and the conservative movement behind him. Here is one summary of what happened to those tuition free public institutions:
"California’s public-university system, still the largest in the nation, abolished tuition three months after it was founded in 1868, implementing instead a fee for additional services, such as health care, that at first was tiny.
The era of free tuition ended, ironically, with the student movement of the 1960s, just as campuses were getting more populous, diverse, and democratic. Ronald Reagan made the University of California a major punching bag of his 1966 campaign for governor of California, with the encouragement of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who saw campus peace activists as dangerous subversives. Upon taking office, Reagan managed to have UC president Clark Kerr fired—he had been the architect of mass higher education not just in California, but across the country—and hiked fees at the UC colleges to the approximate levels of tuition charged elsewhere."
Democrats have learned to check their visions at the door of a Republican led Congress. It is one thing to mobilize your forces for some Congressional battle on an issue you believe in, only to then fall short of fully prevailing. The more extensive your mobilization, the better compromise you are likely to achieve regardless. It is another thing to fall to mobilize and fight for what you believe in because you can not clearly identify a sure path forward to certain victory. Even worse is a basic lack of faith that what may be indeed be impossible today can in fact become possible tomorrow if the battle is fully joined.
It's not that Bernie Sanders can't do the math - he can count seats in Congress same as anyone else. It's just that he can see the folly in unilaterally disarming our dreams. Pardon my French but Bernie is right. Fuck that shit. We would all be working 60 hour weeks today if a bunch of Wobblie organizers looked at the strength of the Mill Owners who opposed them and said "You better go home to your families boys" rather than "Which side are you on?"
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Feb 14, 2016, 04:37 PM (12 replies)
Leave aside for a moment how the revenues raised by it could be used. Bernie says it would largely pay for free public college education, and some take issue with his plans. That is a distinct and focused argument we can have, but what about the larger picture? Even if one assumes, for the sake of argument, that the proposal Bernie Sanders makes for free public colleges is somehow fatally flawed, what about the revenue stream that he is proposing to pay for it? Shouldn't it be considered for some other worthwhile end even if there is disagreement on what that end should be?
Not that I would suggest it be used this way, but if nothing else it could meaningfully reduce federal budget deficits if the Federal government collected that money from Wall Street trading, though I'm sure Hillary Clinton can propose some targeted worthy programs it could fund instead. Maybe it could be used to help rebuild our crumbling infrastructure for example, and thereby increase our nation's competitive standing in the world while putting millions to work at high paying jobs.
I understand that Hillary Clinton supports some movement in the direction that Bernie Sanders proposes in regards to taxing Wall Street speculation, but resists a full version of it. I found this story while searching around for more information on this:
"Leading Democratic candidates want to tax Wall Street"
"Backers of a so-called financial transactions tax say it's an effective way to deter excessive risk-taking by investors, while also raising substantial amounts of government revenue. The Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of centrist think tanks The Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, estimates that such a tax would raise as much as $50 billion annually....
...A financial transaction tax, anathema to most Republican lawmakers, has in recent years also proved unpopular among leading Democrats. The Obama administration, led by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, opposed imposing a small tax on buying and selling equities, derivatives and other financial assets, arguing that it was a poor way of tamping down risk.
Clinton and O'Malley stop short of the broad levy on securities trading backed by Sanders. Instead, Clinton favors a narrower tax on high-frequency trading firms, whose souped-up, computerized trading critics have linked to increased market volatility in recent years..."
While the Sanders proposal is more sweeping than that of Clinton, it is by no means revolutionary, as this piece indicates:
"A Lesson From The Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Index
What do Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and Switzerland have in common? They are four of the top five ranked countries in the conservative Heritage Foundation's 2012 Index of Economic Freedom...
...While Public Citizen does not endorse the index or its criteria, we do find one unique commonality between Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and Switzerland that is particularly noteworthy: Each of these countries imposes taxes on financial transactions to curb speculation.
Take Hong Kong for example. The top-ranked country on the index imposes a "stamp tax" of 0.3 percent on stock trades. And the Heritage Foundation extols Hong Kong's "robust and transparent investment framework," saying that it "has demonstrated a high degree of resilience during the ongoing global turmoil and remains one of the world's most competitive financial and business centers."
So why is Clinton resisting this?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Feb 13, 2016, 12:00 PM (18 replies)
In regards to Medicaid expansion in particular, which is one of the major advances that the Affordable Care Act contains pointing America toward theoretically universal health insurance coverage someday, a Governor like Scott Walker can stop it cold. And did. That doesn't stop President Obama or Secretary Clinton either for that matter, from rightfully praising Medicaid expansion as an important achievement - even though our federal system could not force Scott Walker to implement it - even with significant incentives.
The argument has always been made that over time more and more states under the control of resistant Republicans will cave and move to accept the expansion of Medicaid in their states. This after the citizens of those states demand it forcefully enough, and the advantages to those states of having more of their citizens covered become self evident to even the most ideologically resistant Republican Governors.
This not the first time that progressive legislation was enacted at a federal level knowing that the advantages of such legislation would not benefit all citizens simultaneously, that some states would resist implementation for a time. This was true of Medicare for instance. Now however all states accept the program.
It it odd to hear the opposition of someone like Scott Walker cited as a reason why expanding fee public education to the College level in non feasible, when Scott Walker is currently preventing the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, AND Obamacare is being held up for praise as an example of pragmatic incremental progress.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Feb 12, 2016, 05:21 PM (13 replies)
They are the professional opinion makers plying a discussion framing trade in the media - some well intentioned and others not. They are the career politicians acclimated to playing by traditional rules on a field of conventional wisdom assumptions - some well intentioned and others not. They are the current donor class long grown accustomed to and comfortable with being the King (and Queen) makers in politics - some well intentioned and others not.
They all have minimized Bernie Sanders' message for all of his long career. They said he was on the fringe, and that his views didn't resonate with average Americans. They used him as a caricature to represent the furthest pole possible in American leftist thinking short of literal Marxism. After Sanders announced for President they all but totally ignored him - despite him being a sitting United States Senator. Then they waited for Bernie to be swept away by America's voters as they had concluded he must be
Now they awake to find Bernie Sanders winning a landslide of historic proportions in the nation's first primary against the no longer presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, and they are down to essentially their last excuse. They say Bernie Sanders has tapped into a deep vein of public resentment against the status quo. They say the electorate is in an angry mood. They say that support for Bernie Sanders is a message to the establishment, a giant wake up call protest vote indicating that their needs are not sufficiently being addressed. Implicit in that assessment is a belief that someone other than Bernie Sanders, someone with, they would say, a more realistic platform, will find the right words to acknowledge the public's dissatisfaction with the status quo and then ride that to their own electoral success. They say that might still be Hillary Clinton, or perhaps Joe Biden or John Kerry in a pinch.
What they do not yet say, and remain unwilling to say unless absolutely forced to by the dawning of a new political day in America, is that maybe, just maybe, voters are actually embracing Bernie Sanders FOR the things that he believes in for America, because they believe in them also.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Feb 10, 2016, 10:51 AM (38 replies)
It turns out that they do, when they are from Massachusetts. What do Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Paul Tsongas, Michael Dukakis, John F. Kennedy and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr all have in common, aside from them all having won the New Hampshire Primary? Yep, all of them came from Massachusetts. New Hampshire directly neighbors three states with Massachusetts being one of them. Prior to this year, since World War II, only two major candidates have competed in New Hampshire from a neighboring state other than Massachusetts, with split results. Vermont Governor Howard Dean lost in 2004 to John Kerry, and Maine Senator Ed Muskie defeated George McGovern in 1972. It should be noted though that Muskie was the national favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president prior to competing in the NH primary that year, having impressed many as the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate four years earlier.
It should be no surprise why politicians from Massachusetts tend to do well in New Hampshire primaries. The driving distance between the largest city in Massachusetts – Boston (population 617,594 per 2010 census) and the largest city in New Hampshire - Manchester (population 109,565 per 2010 census) is all of 53 miles. New Hampshire's second largest city - Nashua (population 86,494 per 2010 census) is a 46 mile drive from Boston. In fact New Hampshire's 10 largest cities are clustered together in the southeastern section of the state, in close proximity to Boston.
Vermont's largest city Burlington (population 42,417 per 2010 census) is located in the northwest section of that state, a 165 mile drive from Manchester New Hampshire. Manchester is officially a part of the Boston Media Market, which is the 7th largest in the nation. Burlington is officially a part of the Burlington – Plattsburgh (NY) media market, which is the 98th largest in the nation. Boston Magazine notes “The Boston media market is so strong that it bleeds into all of southern New Hampshire and stretches as far north as Keene and Laconia.”
Burlington's media market however only reaches into the Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire, which lies along the border with Vermont. Any internet search for population density maps of New Hampshire quickly yields results showing how sparsely settled that area is compared to the Southeastern New Hampshire region (here's a link to one such map)
Here is some germane information: “New Hampshire Public Radio reported that as of mid-December (2015), the Boston broadcast stations ran 45 percent of total political ads for the New Hampshire primary, compared to 47 percent for WMUR (New Hampshire's only network affiliate) and 8 percent for WBIN, a new New Hampshire-based news station. The Boston broadcasters took in $31.5 million in political ad revenue, compared to $21.4 million for WMUR and $850,000 for WBIN, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.
Lesperance said the Boston stations are important since New Hampshire's population is concentrated in the southern third of the state. "Most, if not all, of those folks have access to Boston television stations, radio, newspapers," Lesperance said. "It does have an impact. It does play a role. A lot of New Hampshire primary voters get at least some of their information from the Boston media market." http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/12/boston_broadcasters_rake_in_ca.html
There is something else that Boston's proximity to New Hampshire' population centers contributes to determining winning primary candidates – foot power. For example Boston Mayor Marty Walsh pledged this year to bring a thousand volunteers with him up from Boston to do door knocking for Hillary Clinton. But is there any evidence to show that a leading candidate from Vermont has any advantage competing in New Hampshire compared to the prospects for a typical candidate who comes from a state that doesn't border New Hampshire? Well there is this reporting from much earlier in the 2016 election cycle, from June of 2015 to be precise:
“Hillary feels the #Bern
...Two polls this week showed the Vermont independent polling over 30 percent in his neighboring New England state, just 10 to 12 percentage points behind front-runner Clinton — a big leap from his 15 point to 18 point showing in various polls in recent weeks.
A closer look at the polling shows the distinctive outline of Sanders’ support in New Hampshire: In the Suffolk poll, he beats Clinton by more than 20 points in the northern and western parts of the state — the liberal counties that border Vermont and are reached by the Burlington media market, the city where Sanders served four terms as mayor.
It’s an area that’s known for its anti-establishment streak. “They are loyal voters and they really don’t care what’s going on in the rest of the state,” said David Paleologos, who conducted the Suffolk poll. He noted that Howard Dean — the last Vermonter to run for president and who made a strong challenge to John Kerry in New Hampshire in 2004 — received early and strong support from the Connecticut River Valley.
The story is different on the other side of the state. In the two most populous counties — Hillsborough and Rockingham, which make up roughly half of the electorate — Clinton is up big. Sanders is down almost 30 percent in the Seacoast region — the southeastern part of the state that is farthest from Vermont.”
So a case can be made from the above that Bernie Sanders gained a small and geographically limited advantage in this years New Hampshire Democratic primary through exposure he received in the far west of New Hampshire via the Burlington – Plattsburgh (NY) media market. But the same reporting clearly establishes the far greater importance and penetration of the Boston media market inside New Hampshire. Boston media reporting is national media reporting when it isn't focused locally on Boston itself, and national media, until a few weeks ago, gave far greater coverage to Hillary Clinton than it did to Bernie Sanders.
In summary the political spin that New Hampshire favors politicians from neighboring states when it comes to its presidential primaries is extremely misleading if not totally false. Political figures from Massachusetts do enjoy some significant advantages inside New Hampshire, but they are largely unique to Massachusetts however. In the case of this year's Sanders vs Clinton NH contest any small benefits Bernie Sanders may receive by virtue of being from neighboring Vermont are more than offset by the fact that, unlike Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has already run and won a statewide election campaign inside of New Hampshire prior to this year's primary. Not to mention that Hillary Clinton has won Gallups annual poll for the most admired woman in the world every year since 1997 with the exception of 2001 when Laura Bush was chosen instead.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Feb 9, 2016, 02:06 PM (14 replies)
When national Republicans with their well funded think tanks, SuperPacs, and right wing media networks, call for the privatization of public schools and public toll roads, as well as prisons, municipal water districts, the Veterans Administration, and Social Security, while lowering taxes even further, they are simply advancing possible cures for the woes they say ail America in the public market place of ideas. Nothing radical about them in the slightest, they are all said to represent pragmatic and doable initiatives worthy of full consideration.
When Bernie Sanders talks about building on the models of Social Security and Medicare, of reinvesting in the public infrastructure, of expanding free public education, of restoring the tax rates on the wealthiest Americans to levels well below those in place under Republican President Eisenhower, and of fulfilling the vision for America laid out by the man historians agree was the greatest American President (FDR) since at least Abe Lincoln, this it is said is just pie in the sky. Because everyone knows that Sanders doesn't represent viable views, he is well outside of the American mainstream, he is RADICAL
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Feb 8, 2016, 12:50 PM (6 replies)
A earlier version was posted here a couple of days ago for a short time. This is the revised and edited version that was featured on the Daily Kos Recommended List for most of a day:
By definition, a rigged system predetermines certain outcomes, that's what “rigging” means. The near constant and massive transfer of wealth from the middle and working classes to the wealthiest one percent of Americans over the last thirty five years is evidence of just that. The system our constitution attempted to enshrine once was deemed revolutionary, with populist forces carefully balanced by institutional checks and balances. Increasingly what remains of the latter are large campaign contribution checks drawn off fattened corporate balance sheets. Elections and recessions come and go, income inequality only rises. With corruption embedded in the software of democracy there is seldom the need for overt bribery. That's why searching for instances of specific quid pro quos can be fundamentally misleading.
There's little need to micro manage each politicians every move in a crooked game. When the overall system is rigged then no one vote is critical. Much like casinos in Las Vegas with their myriad slot machines, Wall Street and associates don't have to control the pull of every lever, the fix runs deeper than that. At the end of each session of Congress the oligarchy come out ahead, always taking in more than they pay out. Year in and year out the return on their investments may vary, but the trend line never does. The men and women who cast their votes in Congress know which side their bread is buttered on, and where big pay checks will await them whenever they finally leave office – by choice or by defeat - unless they bit the hands that fed them.
Confining efforts to alter the current status quo to parliamentary maneuvers inside a fraudulent political system is tantamount to a concession speech . A rigged system is the classic closed loop, if left to run indefinitely without outside interference there is no mechanism to change it's course. Faced with an entrenched self perpetuating machine, attempting to disable it with the tools closest at hand is not a practical approach, not if that’s a set of phillips head screwdrivers when what’s needed is a fleet of bulldozers.
It doesn't matter how skilled a technician is, how experienced, how tenacious, or how passionately committed to eventually getting the job done she may be, if the tools that can be wielded by an individual alone pale before the task at hand. The leverage simply does not exist inside of a rigged system to alter the course that it's on. The status quo is not set up to change the status quo. Something new must intercede to counteract governing inertia, and that by nature is revolutionary.
No prescription for political change is pragmatic that doesn’t recognize the dimensions of the task at hand and embrace a viable strategy to win meaningful results. The course of least resistance offers the least resistance for a reason – the path less heavily defended seldom leads one to the core. Once again we find ourselves in a Presidential election year, and the standard course of least resistance is being advocated for again: Look for a highly skilled champion and elect that person President.
I acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is among the more astute political inside players I have witnessed in my lifetime, and clearly she possesses great personal abilities. Her heart I believe is in the right place. Her campaign message in essence comes down to “I can and will fight hard for you - It's OK, I've got this.”
But even if Hillary were Super Woman, she can not manage this alone – not even with Bill at her side. It will take more than a very strong woman to reverse the effects of a system that's long been rigged against the overwhelming majority of Americans. It will take more than a village. It will take a full fledged movement.
Bernie Sanders gets that. He gets it emotionally, he gets it intellectually, and he gets it strategically. That is how he got there, standing alone on a debate stage beside Hillary Clinton, seen as a serious contender to become our next President. Sanders couldn't get there alone. He knew that and he planned accordingly.
Bernie counted on a large movement to support him reaching this point: to fund him with small donations, to organize at the grass roots level below the radar of establishment politics, and to break through the media embargo placed around his populist message through millions of tweets and posts, through viral videos shared and through word of mouth. Bernie Sanders has demonstrated that he knows how to take on a system rigged against him/us with his integrity fully intact, beholden to no one but the people on whose behalf he is running, counting on the public to have his back, not just the other way around.
In 2010, two years after the Great Recession struck our nation down, while tens of millions were still suffering from it, talk in our nation's capital centered largely on deficit reduction. Conventional wisdom then held that entitlement spending needed to be reined in, and that cost of living increases for Social Security recipients had to be recalculated because they were too generous as they were. Debates weren't ongoing over how much to expand “food stamp” relief for the hungry, they were over how deeply that should be “trimmed” instead. Simultaneously, temporary tax cuts on the first several hundred thousands of dollars a year that the wealthy earned were not allowed to lapse, they were made permanent instead. Income inequality wasn't high on the national agenda, and the media and our politicians rarely mentioned it before the Occupy Wall Street movement seized our public squares with their prolonged encampments.
In a similar vein repeated lethal police shootings of unarmed predominantly minority citizens never elicited much in the way sustained public attention - outside of minority communities - until the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets and refused to be silenced. This is nothing new to anyone who has studied the role that movements play in transforming our nation, when the establishment starts out hell bent on not changing; from the Labor movement to the Woman’s Suffrage Movement, to the Civil Rights Movement, to the Anti War and Environmental movements and more.
If you believe that what's needed to undo the damage caused by our rigged economic and political system is to install a strong experienced and dedicated woman as our next President – then Hillary Clinton may have the skill set you are looking for. If instead you believe that it will take a strong and sustained movement that will not disband after election day to change what is wrong with America, then Bernie Sanders has the demonstrated skill set needed to mobilize and engage one for that effort. Failure is never the pragmatic choice, no matter how incremental it may be. It all comes down to a simple question: What will it really take to finally turn things around?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Feb 7, 2016, 12:13 PM (0 replies)
I like you a lot. You used to be my Representative, and later my Senator before I moved out of California. I saw what you wrote in a tweet about Bernie only being a Democrat some days, and I realize it was just a quick retort, meant as a relatively minor political jab - not some long thought out commentary. But it was also an incredibly dumb thing to say and I hope you don't choose to go there often. Do I really need to point out to you that the future of the Democratic Party (along with everything else) rests in the hands of the currently young? Those under 40 who are engaged in the current Democratic primary process overwhelmingly believe that Bernie Sanders speaks for them. Do you really want to argue the point that Bernie Sanders does not necessarily speak for the Democratic Party? Do you think our Party should cast doubt on whether Bernie speaks for us when he also speaks for them?
I use the word us because I am just as much a part of the Democratic Party as you are, officially, even though you have risen much higher in it than I have. I am the elected Chairperson of the official Democratic Party Committee in our town - a very small cog in a very large wheel admittedly, but a legitimate cog none the less. Our local committee worked hard and swept our Town elections last November in a mixed allegiance rural area. Sounds good, right? As far as that goes it is, but we almost didn't even have a Democratic Committee that could pull together a nominating caucus let alone a winning campaign. We are under strength and had to plead with people to join our committee. I remain active in it mostly out of guilt - we live in a small town and I don't want to hand it over to Republicans by default. I find that the Democratic Party rarely inspires me any longer. I am far from alone in feeling that way.
Very few people I know around here actively think of themselves as Democrats, certainly not to the point where they will work to sustain, let alone build our Party. Virtually no one below 50 does for starters. And almost to a person all the exceptions to those "rules" who I know are people supporting Bernie for President. The only enthusiasm I'm running into for the Democratic Party at all is attributable to the fact that Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party nomination for President.
So go ahead - push him away to arms length or further with you tweets, and question his formal credentials while the actual voters who I know are eager to learn more about the actual positions that Sanders holds. How you think that is going to help us rebuild the Democratic Party is beyond me, not when Independents are now the largest voting block in the nation. It seems almost like you would rather Sanders had run third party instead of having agreed to back whoever wins the nomination of the Democratic Party. But that can't be what you really think, can it?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Feb 4, 2016, 01:53 PM (68 replies)