Tom Rinaldo's Journal
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That's because I prefer Bernie over Hillary on most bedrock issues that are important to me. It' really not that complicated. In my book Bernie gets a passing grade on tightening up common sense gun safety laws and Hillary gets a passing grade on caring about the Middle Class. Hillary is clearly stronger on gun safety issues but Bernie still backs the improvements that are most likely to make it through any Congress in the foreseeable near term future. Bernie knocks it out of the park however for me on economic issues while Hillary merely hits a single. I trust Bernie more on foreign policy also. Both would be fine on social issues with just minor variations separating them.
Bottom line - Bernie has my strong support in the primaries. And either Bernie or Hillary or "Uncle Joe" for that matter would have my strong support over any Republican running for President. To me it is that simple.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Oct 7, 2015, 11:02 AM (16 replies)
Maybe it's just the times that are a changing. Maybe the public has grown increasingly tired of politics as usual and a tipping point has finally been reached. Maybe being an establishment backed candidate has become the virtual kiss of death. People just might be as mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore, at least while there is any other option available.
I know we are sometimes loath to give the Republican base credit for having any fundamentally sane instincts. And yes the Republican "outsider" candidates who are doing so well this year really are "out there' in more ways than one. But they decidedly are not establishment backed, and that may ultimately prove to be a far more important attribute than any particular rant they may be capable of spewing.
A few months back almost everyone believed that Hillary Clinton would almost certainly win the Democratic nomination for President, but that certainty is no longer apparent. And while Jeb Bush might never have been as prohibitive a favorite on the Republican side as Hillary was on the Democratic, virtually no one could have predicted that he would be mired in the second tier of Republican candidates at this stage, typically polling in single digits. Meanwhile Scott Walker, the fresh new Republican face pre-positioned to pick up all the pieces should Jeb Bush falter, is already out of the race.
Something seems to be at work here far larger than any combination of gaffes, poorly managed press conference or debate performances, or even media fanned whiffs of scandals can explain. And that may be why the once impending Clinton Bush 2016 match up may be anything but that when the election finally comes around.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Sep 25, 2015, 09:27 AM (65 replies)
Don't have much time right now so I'll keep this short, besides it's kind of a simple point anyway...
Even with your not so good Summer, with the media looking for scandals to report on rather than serious issues to cover, odds still are you will win the Democratic nomination. It may not be a slam dunk anymore, but you still have lots going for you. You are really really bright, you totally know the ropes, a lot of America yearns for a chance to elect our first female President, you've earned some honest liberal creds over the year to point to, and most people still think back fondly to the last time you lived in the White House.
You still can win this thing fair and square with your honor intact. But only if you call your sleaze hounds off of Bernie. It's fine to cite your differences with him of course. You can claim that Bernie's platform is out of step with mainstream America if that is what you think - beliefs on such things do vary. But Democratic activists have a particularly low tolerance this year for hit pieces against someone who most of us believe is fighting for us whether or not he can or even should ultimately prevail to win the nomination. If you end up with the Democratic nomination, you just might want us to bust ass for your election. That kind of covers it. Think about it, OK?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Sep 17, 2015, 05:00 PM (15 replies)
Yes that is counter intuitive, and no the same thing can't be said for O'Malley, Webb and Chaffee, or for most of the Republican candidates for that matter. But unlike those other candidates, Bernie is already highly competitive where it currently matters, in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his national numbers have risen significantly over the course of the Summer. So as the post Labor Day "official" political season kicks off, Bernie Sanders is already established as one of the proverbial "first tier" candidates. Given the cumulative amount of and the dismissive predominant tone of the media attention paid to Sanders so far though it's not that surprising if most Americans haven't noticed it yet. Bucking conventional wisdom here I'll say that puts Sanders in a sweet spot. He represents a rare political phenomena. Sanders is an insurgent populist surging in political polls months before a single vote is cast, who is not on a trajectory to peak too early.
I've been tracking something interesting about how the media has covered Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump over the course of the Summer. In short it goes something like this. While the media and various political talking heads believed that the Trump ascendancy would be relatively short lived, prone to an inevitable bursting from an excess of hot air, the standard talking point was to pair Trump and Sanders as the angry bookends of the Right and Left. The public was said to be reacting emotionally in the heat of the early summer flirting with both men, blowing off some steam prior to actually examining their political viability and credentials in the cooler days of Fall. Trump and Sanders, in essence, were being politely dismissed as "light summer reading" before the school year resumed and the public had to "hit the books" in earnest. During that media phase an establishment agenda was covertly being advanced.
Neither Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders are trusted foot soldiers for the status quo but they have far from similar political personas. Leaving actual policy distinctions aside for the moment, which of course is the media default mode of coverage of presidential races to begin with, the two men could hardly differ more. With Trump it is first and foremost about his personal brand and advancing his belief that America needs him as a "Strong Man" to make us great again. With Sanders it is first and foremost about the issues he thinks matter to most Americans, and advancing the belief that the inherent power of the American people will ensure prosperity to our nation once the choke hold of the oligarchy is broken. As to personal temperament there simply is no resemblance. Trump shoots from the hip at anything and anyone, Sanders is always focused and deliberate. But bracketing Trump and Sanders as angry men at opposing political extremes seemed to neatly solve an establishment political problem; how to make them both go away.
The establishment thought Trump would implode under any real scrutiny so the media gladly offered him enough rope to hang himself. With the media portraying Sanders essentially as Trump's leftist doppelganger, that set Sanders up to become collateral damage when the Trump bubble burst and anger became discredited as a useful attribute of leadership. Except that Labor Day has come and gone now and Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican field while Bernie Sanders climbed to the top of the Iowa and New Hampshire Democratic polls. Meanwhile a curious thing happened in the process. Once it became apparent that The Donald wasn't going anywhere, linking Sanders directly to Trump became suddenly less attractive. It began looking like the public's attraction to political outsiders might be more than just a summer fling. Sanders was becoming an even more potent threat to the status quo as his exposure grew so they changed tack, trying to keep him out of the spotlight to stunt his momentum, and turned to Plan B; as in B for Biden.
The Vice President is an acknowledged national leader with consistently held beliefs. In short he's no one's puppet. Biden's long standing political aspirations are his own and are not driven by a need to undercut any momentum Bernie Sanders had been building. But the media needed an alternative narrative to be dismissive of Bernie Sanders with. Rather than directly acknowledge the political power of Bernie's deeply held convictions, they focused on Hillary Clinton's alleged weakness instead with the implicit message that ordinary Democrats were turning away from Clinton rather than turning toward Sanders to explain Sander's increasing political traction. And rather than focus on the resonant substance of the policy message that Sanders espouses, the media turned to constant speculation about whether a “credible” alternative to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination may still lay out there in the form of the current Vice President.
The cutting off of political “oxygen” to a political campaign by minimizing media coverage of it, whether by design or mere happenstance, has been known to throw more nationally prominent politicians than Bernie Sanders into a death spiral that they could not climb out of. There are a number of presidential aspirants on both sides, whose last names are not Trump, Bush, Clinton or Biden, who have been significantly hobbled by the relative lack of publicity, whether mortally so is yet to be seen. Sanders though doesn't fit that mold, he has not been hobbled. Without even a good debate performance under his belt to point to, his trajectory remains upwards. Yet for most Americans Bernie Sanders continues to fly below the radar. This while his fund raising capacity keeps growing and his campaign infrastructure keeps expanding.
Most Americans won't seriously turn to presidential politics until early next year when actual caucuses and primaries begin to loom larger. That is especially true on the Democratic side where it was long believed that Clinton would win the nomination in a cake walk, and where the first Presidential debate still remains weeks away. The public will soon wake up to the undeniable fact that Bernie Sanders is now poised to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, and that he is indeed a serious contender to become the next President of the United States. And when that happens they will want to know a whole lot more about both Sanders and what he stands for. And when that happens, at exactly the right time on the political calendar for a political campaign to really hit its stride, Bernie Sanders will have the full attention of the American voters. And that is exactly what America's establishment has always wanted to avoid.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Sep 13, 2015, 02:02 PM (29 replies)
There's no better way to put it without resorting to obscenities. I've been on DU since 2003, long enough to have endured repeated spin cycles during primary wars, and we've had some ugly ones here in 2003-4 and 2007-8. And I was right there in the trenches both times gaining a first hand perspective.
My nominee for the stupidest sentiment frequently repeated during candidate wars goes something like this:
"The behavior of supporters of Candidate X have made it difficult if not impossible for me to even consider voting for Candidate X". That's roughly the equivalent of someone saying "Those rowdy teens who hang out in the parking lot of the Seven Eleven in my neighborhood make me very unlikely to support free community college education."
I mean really, WTF? Sure this is much to be learned about a candidate from who s/he surrounds him or her self with - as in their closest advisers, as in their major donors who they become politically indebted to. And it might even be fair to throw in the unruly behavior of some garden variety grass roots activists: if the candidates themselves are actively and openly encouraging and condoning such behavior. But I can't think of a Democrat who is.
To the best of my knowledge none of us here on DU are seriously running for President. How sane and/or likable any of us might be has no bearing on the policies that anyone who actually is running for President will seek to advance once in office. However high profile any of us may become in our online discussion board virtual universe as an advocate for someone running for President - none of us literally represent the candidates unlit their official campaigns says otherwise.
If someone who I think is an asshole says that they support a politician who otherwise seems potentially reasonable to me I would have to be an idiot to rule that candidate out because of it.
Candidate advocates are particularly helpful in pointing those who are interested toward solid information about their candidate. And lord knows I understand from experience that candidate advocates have a legitimate role to play in debunking false information and smears hurled against the candidates we support. To make it personal though is dumb, and counter productive - except for a select few. And that select and relatively rare few intentionally play the role of provocateurs. For every real one of them there probably are a dozen or more sincere impassioned advocates for a candidate being heatedly swept up by the emotions at hand.
I don't waste my time trying to decide who is and isn't sincere since almost everyone is, and simply taking part in witch hunts trying to identify the rare exceptions to that plays right into the hands of any legitimate provocateurs, whose real purpose is to sap our moral and turn us against each other until we turn away from the political process in disgust.
Can't we all save each other some grief and cut right to the chase? Les than once in a blue moon we might get the chance to support a potentially viable candidate for President who we believe in our heart of hearts is the perfect person for that job. Ages ago I felt that way about RFK, and I still believe he was. Sometimes that person ultimately lets us down, which is the experience a number of my friends went through with John Edwards. More often though it simply doesn't play out the way we hoped for. Howard Dean for example fell short in 2004, and Al Gore decided not to run again in 2008 despite the fervent pleas of his enthusiasts.
Yes there will be exceptions, but come August 2016 over 90% of us who are active on this board will ultimately throw our support behind whoever wins the Democratic nomination for President against whoever the Republicans are running. I might guess wrong about some specific individuals, but I'm confident about that figure as a whole. Knowing that is true, can't we just skip the bitter divide theatrics that dominates DU primary wars? Satan isn't running as a Democrat this time around.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Aug 21, 2015, 07:31 AM (42 replies)
Much like with the Iraq War Resolution, when leading Congressional Democrats gave bi-partisan political cover to Bush Administration efforts to start a war with Iraq (even while professing that they weren't actually voting to go to war with Iraq), the presumptive next leader of Democrats in the Senate is already doing the same for Republicans who hope to succeed Obama in the White House. These accounts are just the tip of the iceberg:
Cruz Calls on Schumer to Lead the Charge Against Iran Deal.
On Friday, Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joined the list, applauding the No. 3 Democratic leader for his “bravery.”
“I think it is fantastic news that Sen. Schumer has come out against the Iranian deal and has done so publicly and early. For several weeks now, I have been saying that I hope we see the re-emergence of Joe Lieberman Democrats, the re-emergence of Scoop Jackson Democrats, the re-emergence of John F. Kennedy Democrats,” Cruz told reporters.
“They have been an endangered species in the United States Congress, and it is my hope that with Sen. Schumer coming out that he will take a significant role leading and encouraging his fellow Democrats to stand together.”
GOP stars go gaga over Democrat poke of Obama
"Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says he’s impressed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and grateful for the Democrat’s rejection of President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.
“Thank God for Sen. Schumer and his opposition to this reckless nuclear deal with Iran,” Huckabee said in a statement. “While I disagree with Sen. Schumer on most things, I applaud him for putting peace in the Middle East above partisan politics. Despite endless arm-twisting and enormous political pressure from the White House, Sen. Schumer chose statesmanship over partisanship.”
The former Arkansas governor said he hopes the decision will inspire other high-ranking Democrats to follow."
Marco Rubio says more Senate Democrats need to follow Chuck Schumer's lead and oppose the Iran deal.
During an interview Monday on "Fox & Friends," Rubio warned Democrats who support the deal will be casting a vote they "will live with" for the rest of their lives. The 2016 GOP presidential candidate added that those on the Left need to "wake up" and "realize what they're about to sign on to."
"First of all, he's doing the right thing," Rubio said of Schumer. "When someone — even though we may disagree on a lot of issues, we need to recognize that someone has taken the decision here based on statesmanship and not partisanship."
All of the Republican candidates for Presidents oppose the Iran deal, and between now and November 2018 we can count on each and every one of them to loudly praise Chuck Schumer's opposition to it, as they try use it to bloody all of the leading Democratic candidates for President.
Chuck Schumer is now the new neocon designated Democratic spokesperson for war in the Middle East, eclipsing for the moment even Joe Lieberman. Imagine how much more presidential election mileage they will get from Chuck Schumer if Democrats in the Senate are now foolish enough to install him as their leader.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Aug 12, 2015, 09:56 AM (4 replies)
Dick Durbin is actually the Democratic Senator second to Harry Reid in the Senate Democratic leadership. He announced he would stick to his current post in the leadership hierarchy and allow Chuck Schumer to leapfrog past him into the top position after Reid retires. Why? I don't know but everyone knows that Schumer has been hungering to become top Democratic dog in the Senate.
Would Durbin reconsider and respond positively to a draft movement asking him to contest the Senate leadership position? I don't know but it doesn't matter. He is the logical first choice to ask, Senate Democrats have supported him for leadership positions in the past, give him first crack. Even if Durbin won't reconsider, a powerful draft movement asking him to oppose Schumer can still leave its mark and another Democratic Senator could then still step forward to challenge Schumer instead.
Anyone who lives in a State represented by at least one Democratic Senator can put direct pressure on his or her Senator(s) to withdraw support from Schumer in light of his opposing the crucial position regarding Iran backed by our Democratic President and the vast majority of Democratic Senators.
THIS IS THE EQUIVALENT OF ANOTHER IWR VOTE! We can't allow a Senator who will not give peace a chance to lead the Democratic Party in the Senate. If we start mobilizing now it might even send a timely message to any wavering Democratic Senators that they need to back their President on Iran or face the wrath of rank and file Democrats who will not sit back and allow America to move toward a war potentially much more deadly than the one in Iraq when a negotiated settlement may still be able to prevent it.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Aug 7, 2015, 02:51 PM (21 replies)
It really is that simple in a world where most things rarely are that simple. There is nothing short of a full scale invasion and occupation of Iran from that can stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons if that nation is dead set on acquiring them. Not even successful air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities can stop them from getting the bomb The latter could only delay that by at most a few years. Experts actually agree on that. In a nation as technologically advanced as Iran is that already has the knowledge needed to go nuclear, all that would be needed to rebuild their atomic weapons program in facilities deep enough to be invulnerable to attack would be the will to do so. And if either Israel or the U.S. launched air strikes against Iran's current facilities, sufficient will to do so would be assured.
The current Iranian nuclear freeze that this agreement will replace was extremely unstable. It rested on a foundation of wide international support for punishing sanctions that forced Iran to the bargaining table. By itself the United States quite simply lacked the economic leverage needed to force Iran there by ourselves. Iran has been living under U.S. sanctions for decades - Even continued support from our traditional European allies wouldn't be enough to checkmate Iran if Russian and/or China broke ranks. And it's not exactly like China, to say nothing of Putin's Russia, feels under any deep obligation to do United States foreign policy any favors.
If, in the eyes of the world outside of the American and Israeli Right media echo chamber, Iran agrees to a reasonable deal and the U.S. then backs out of it, international sanctions against Iran will soon be nothing but a historic footnote. Great Britain, France and Germany are fully on board with this deal. They need Iranian oil more than we do. Airbus wants to sell airliners to Iran. Our traditional allies won't sit back and let Russia and China eat their economic lunch in regards to Iran. Once the economic damn of sanctions against Iran begins to leak, its full structural failure is inevitable. So long as Iran seems willing to faithfully honor the terms of this international agreement - the era of sanctions diplomacy against Iran is over no matter what Republican presidential candidates might say to the contrary.
Frankly whether any other potential U.S. leader other than President Obama could have negotiated a better deal with Iran (and I seriously doubt that), be that Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or Donald Trump, is now totally moot. Sorry guys but you just weren't in office when the rubber finally met the road. The American people elected Barack Obama President, twice, not John McCain or Mitt Romney. And while a case can also be made that right wing, and Israeli, bluster against the historic accord with Iran had a perversely positive role to play in convincing Iran to agree to tougher American pushed terms rather than see the final agreement go down in flames in the U.S. Congress, further bluster no longer has any potentially constructive role to play. There no longer are any negotiations to influence, the deal has now been inked.
True, opposition to this deal with Iran does not equate directly with pushing for war with Iran. Rather it is one tiny and inevitable step removed from directly advocating war with Iran, a distinction that is an embarrassingly tiny fig leaf to attempt to hide behind. Without this historic arm limitation accord Iran will be free to resume work on any nuclear program of its own choosing, without external inspections, while mot of the economic sanctions against it splinter and fall away. What then? If it is unacceptable to live with the consequences of Iran being bound only to the terms of this agreement, will it become more acceptable to live with Iran being bound to no conditions whatsoever? Clearly not, and with the diplomatic initiative having now run it's full course, the "military option" will be the only one left to resort to.
Anyone who sincerely believes that "surgical air strikes", whether by Israel or the United States, can remove any Iranian nuclear threat without embroiling America in a bloody protracted conflict spilling way beyond Iranian borders, while simultaneously unleashing new waves of terrorist actions against us, is delusional. Benjamin Netanyahu for one is not in the slightest bit delusional. He seems convinced that Iran, sooner or later, will need to be confronted militarily, and given that he prefers sooner over later. He understands the full implications of what torpedoing this accord with Iran would mean, and he accepts a need for military conflict. Perhaps he hold outs slim hope that a strong show of military force against Iran would cause that regime to crumple or alternately back down. If he does than Netanyahu also is delusional.
Iran is not Syria, it is many times more populous and advanced, it has a long proud history as a nation that goes back millennia, not decades. Unlike the Syrian nuclear facilities that Israel once bombed, there is nothing hush hush domestically about their existence. They have been in the full international glare of ten thousand spotlights for years now. If Iran gets bombed because of that program AFTER making the concessions that America's closest European allies believe should be sufficient, all hell will break loose.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Jul 14, 2015, 12:59 PM (7 replies)
So Janet and I decided to attend the final three Grateful Dead concerts (as in FINAL Grateful Dead concerts) through simulcast at the Bearsville Theater (near Woodstock NY). The last show is tonight and the Dead will probably be hitting the stage in less than 5 hours. Last night people were able to walk up and buy tickets for $7 (CHEAP!) - probably you can tonight also. If the idea of catching the simulcast at a public venue at all interests you, I unhesitatingly say DO IT! Yes it is on TV also with pay for view, but if other venues do what Bearsville did with a huge screen and pretty much full 360 degree sense surround quality sound - it makes all of the difference in the world to attend. Here is where to find live screening locations nation wide (I'll write a little bit about the shows in a sec) http://www.dead50.net/concert-venue-screenings/
The live video feed is Excellent and the audio feed includes a full helping of audience sound which makes it near impossible to not think the people you are hearing in Chicago aren't seated (or standing) all around you between songs - or when 65,000 can be heard singing a distant background chorus on many songs.
This show celebrates a 50 year culture altering musical career. That's equivalent to over one fifth of the entire history of the U.S.A. to put that in perspective (Yeah the Stones can claim even longer but they ain't Yanks). I avoided Garcia-less Dead shows until now but this weekend for me it's all about showing respect to the 4 surviving members of the Grateful Dead as they cap off that wonderful and intense long strange trip. But here's the thing. They are ON. Last night even the vocals usually rose to the occasion. Trey Anastasio, lead guitarist of Phish, is doing a superb job stepping into lead guitar, and he really is the right man to be there on stage with the Dead at the end. He is smiling from ear to ear doing it when he isn't lost making the acoustics of the moment. I'm not going to write a concert review or go over the set list, you can find that stuff online. There were a number of moments, last night more so than Friday, when the band ignited in spectacular form - equal to the best places they have collectively reached at any show I've ever seen them do - and I've seen a lot of them. The Grateful Dead are going out strong.
If you never had a chance to see them play in person - this comes pretty damn close to that, and really it is only seeing them in person that captures what they essentially uniquely are capable of pulling off. When a band dances on a tightrope wire non stop for 3 plus hours, not every step they take will be graceful, but collectively the experience can be dazzling. Members of The Grateful Dead are all superb musicians, so even if all or even most of their music is not right up your ally, it is remarkable to see them crafting that sound live. This is NOT an oldies show or an Oldies act. It is a vibrant band in full creative mode - and tonight is the LAST chance you will ever have of being part of that live experience. Emotions have been running high at these shows the last two nights, I can't imagine how it will be tonight for their truly final performance. Think about attending this now while you still may have time to do so. Once it is over history turns the last page of an epic volume.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Jul 5, 2015, 04:03 PM (15 replies)
...the easier it gets for Bernie to beat all expectations and register an upside surprise. Some forget, but Bill Clinton, the famous "Come Back Kid", got that title for finishing second in the 1992 New Hampshire primary, when he was expected to do worse, and no one ever talks about LBJ defeating Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 NH Primary, but of course he did.
Put it another way, when a serious candidate looses an election by a margin like 55% to 35% the consensus usually is that they got trashed But if the media succeeds in painting Bernie Sanders as a "token" opponent of Hillary in the primaries, a result like that suddenly indicates surprising strength for him, and a real weakness for the favorite he was up against.
Let them talk down Bernie all they want to. The first two contests are retail politics states where the voters will get to know Sanders personally, bypassing the media filters. He will have all the money and activist support he will need to campaign effectively in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and the media is setting up the scenario he needs to emerge from those states politically strengthened .
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue May 12, 2015, 10:01 AM (67 replies)