Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
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The potential presidential match up that worries me the most would be Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. Trump is strongly perceived as an outsider in an anti-establishment year. Even though Hillary won a narrow but solid victory over Bernie tonight in Nevada, that doesn't negate the fact that there is a strong anti-establishment tide on the Democratic side as well. It is clear that virtually the entire national apparatus of the Democratic Party has united strongly behind Hillary. It is a meaningful accomplishment that she's won such strong loyalty from her peers. But considering that, the fact that Clinton has had to battle so hard to hold back a challenge from Bernie Sanders speaks louder than her victory tonight does against a surging insurgent - one who was virtually unknown six months ago and had miles of catching up to do without the support of virtually any key inside players.
I am not taking anything away from Bernie Sanders in saying this, but does anyone really doubt that Hillary would be in deeper political trouble now than she already is had Elizabeth Warren, who would have started out far better known than Sanders, had chosen to enter the race for President instead of Bernie (who remains the politician I most deeply believe in)?
Two candidates this election year have generated unexpected and historic levels of excitement on the stump; Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Two have significantly under performed earlier expectations in that regard; Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and both of them were pegged as the arch typical establishment politicians from their respective parties. Yes Hillary remains far more viable than Jeb does now, and clearly there is much stronger active support for Hillary Clinton than there is for Jeb Bush, but she has continually struggled to generate sustained grass roots passion at levels commiserate to either Sanders or Trump.
Trump prides himself on being spontaneous and coming across as refreshingly candid, whereas Clinton sometimes suffers from coming across as staged. There is troubling consistent polling data on the question of "telling it like it is" and being "truthful". Donald Trump, like Bernie Sanders, polls very well by that matrix. Hillary Clinton does not. Part of what makes an anti-establishment mood an anti-establishment mood is a loss of confidence and trust in the perceived system that the public believes runs our lives, and those who they associate with that system. Trump is better positioned to ride an anti-establishment wave than is Hillary Clinton.
If Hillary Clinton becomes our nominee she will be attacked from the right on many fronts by whoever the Republican nominate, as would Bernie Sanders. In addition though, as our former Secretary of State, she will be blamed by them personally for the continued existence of every threat out there in the world that may cause Americans to lose sleep. She can counter with experience, some significant nuanced accomplishments, a grasp of details, and overall superior judgment. Depending on the existing level of fear among the public during the election campaign that Republicans will seek to exploit, Clinton's foreign experience advantage could dissolve into her being made the scapegoat for everything that has not gone as well as people would have wished for. If there are ready made trust issues to exploit against Clinton on top of that, the latter scenario becomes easier for Republicans in general, and Donald Trump specifically, to sell.
If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee he would additionally be able to attack Hillary Clinton in ways that are considered highly unorthodox for most Republicans, from the left so to speak. That starts with the Iraq War where Trump would strongly attack Clinton for her pro Iraq War Resolution vote. Whereas Bernie Sanders has a long standing history of strenuously opposing international trade deals that many believe hurt working Americans, Hillary Clinton does not. She would be vulnerable to an attack by Trump there as well. Finally there is that matter of Hillary taking large sums of money from Wall Street to fuel her own election campaigns etc.
Trump positions himself as incorruptible, he would probably characterize Hillary as hopelessly compromised by big money interests, and do so in a manner far more viscous than anything that Bernie Sanders has said against her. I expect Trump would claim, true or not, first hand knowledge of ways in which Clinton is bought by Wall Street special interests that he himself is so familiar with.
In a normal election year I would still say that Hillary Clinton would enter a fall campaign holding most of the cards. I still think that's true, more likely than not, but I also know that this is far from being a normal election year. And that is why I will worry if the Presidential election ends up being between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Feb 20, 2016, 09:39 PM (47 replies)
That could be fraught with the potential for some old fashioned racial divisiveness, or at the very least things could devolve quickly into an ugly rehash of the 2008 presidential election campaign when accusations flew daily over who was or was not playing the race card. I was doing a lot of political blogging back in 2008. In fact for most of that primary season I was backing Hillary Clinton. I remember well how bitter things became. At the time I thought the accusations made against both Bill and Hillary Clinton for being or behaving racist were way overblown. I felt the same about some counter charges against the Obama campaign over their supposedly playing the race card also. But it was a pretty big deal at the time nonetheless. It still is for some people today, but I have no interest in going back to re-litigate any of that. What's more interesting to me though, is that neither does Bernie Sanders.
With the success of his presidential campaign probably resting on the number of African American voters he can win over from those currently supporting Hillary Clinton, Bernie shows no interest in going there; back to when charges of race baiting hung thick in the political air. Regardless of how well or ill founded those charges ultimately were – they obviously exposed raw feelings at the time and contributed to shifting fortunes during that 2008 contest. A more typical candidate would have had a team of opposition research experts pouring over old transcripts and video tapes from the 2008 campaign, looking for material to exploit to unravel the ties of loyalty many African Americans now feel toward Hillary Clinton. The furthest Bernie Sanders will go however, when his own degree of loyalty to Barack Obama is attacked, is to remind people that he never personally ran against Obama. Bernie never raises doubts over how that race was run, although obviously he could.
So the next time anyone even hints at suggesting that Bernie Sanders has or is going negative against Hillary Clinton, an appropriate response might be to laugh in their face.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Feb 19, 2016, 09:43 PM (32 replies)
Which should be placed before the other? I support a political party when it advocates for policies that benefit most of America. I do not support policies backed by a political party's leadership out of allegiance to that party.
The Democratic Party far far more often than the Republican Party advocates policies that I believe benefit most of America. Hence I am a Democrat, but it still makes no sense to put the cart before the horse.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Feb 19, 2016, 01:26 PM (1 replies)
Naivety. It's a theme usually slipped in between the lines by surrogates for Hillary Clinton trying to explain why millennial voters so strongly back Senator Bernie Sanders over the former Secretary of State. At least one of her high profile supporters though, Democratic Rep. George Butterfield, chose to go there boldly. Rep. Butterfield is a Hillary Clinton ally from North Carolina who is also the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Speaking at an event announcing an endorsement for Clinton by the CBC PAC, Butterfield, as reported by The Hill, made these comments:
“I hope the students would understand the big picture, and that is, Sen. Sanders’s message might be appealing, but is it realistic?” Butterfield said Wednesday.
Butterfield attributed Sanders’s success with millennials to the “inexperience” of those young voters.
“Many of these are first-time voters, and Sen. Sanders’s message resonates with a younger generation because of the promises that he’s making,” Butterfield said. “It’s not a disparagement on the new voters. It’s the fact that many of them are inexperienced and have not gone through an election cycle before.
“You listen to the message, and then you make a second evaluation about whether it’s realistic.” http://thehill.com/homenews/house/269037-black-lawmakers-sprint-to-clintons-aid
Embedded inside that “friendly” critique regarding the “inexperience” of youthful voters was another even sharper one contained in this phrase; “Sen. Sanders’s message resonates with a younger generation because of the promises that he’s making.” That's code talk for all of that so called “free stuff”. The Hillary Clinton campaign has to be artful in the way they make the charge that young folk really only support Sanders because he is offering them the promise of “free stuff” because a) directly saying that would exasperate their current problem with millennial voters and b) they are counting on the support of millennial voters in the General Election race against the Republicans if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination. But someone like Rand Paul, when he was still in the Republican race, was freer to spell it out clearly, in comments like this one made at a Heritage Action for America presidential forum:
“Alright, Bernie Sanders is offering you free stuff. He wants to give you free healthcare. He’d give you a free car. He’d give you a free house. But guess what. There is no free lunch.” Rand left out Bernie's position on tuition free public higher education and threw in instead a colorful hallucination concerning free cars and houses instead, but you get the idea. Free stuff is unrealistic, got that? Even if the lure of lots of free stuff is downright exciting. And that of course leads right into another classic excuse made by the Clinton campaign to explain why Hillary is getting trounced by millennial voters. Campaigning for his wife in Florida, Bill Clinton recently said the following:
“...both primaries have been dominated by very emotional campaigns that I think are the product of people’s doubt about whether they can claim that future.” He also said this; “We are too politically polarized and we keep rewarding people who tell us things they know they can’t do because it pushes our hot button.” In regard to the Democratic primaries Bill Clinton was addressing the hot button of unrealistic free stuff no doubt, which makes young folk get so highly emotional.
So in summary then, millennial are responding with their hearts, not their heads, when they flock to Bernie Sanders (you've heard that line before too, haven't you?) Because of their inexperience and youthful emotions, they truly believe that getting all of that exciting free stuff is actually possible, despite all evidence to the contrary. Just because most of them graduated from public high schools after twelve years of public education, without incurring any personal debt in the process, or that most other advanced nations offer 16 years of tuition free public education to their citizens, is no good reason to believe that America is capable of pulling something like that off here. And our unique American system of health care would no longer be so exceptionally American if we started guarantee free health care to all of our citizens the way that other advanced democracies do.
Bill and Hillary Clinton both know personally how unrealistic the expectations of youth tend to be before they mature and learn to be pragmatic about what is really feasible. A millennial, as defied by Merriam Webster, is “a person born in the 1980s or 1990s —usually plural. ” Using that definition everyone with an age between 17 and 36 today is now a millennial. When Bill Clinton was himself mere 30 he became the Attorney General of Arkansas. When Hillary Clinton was herself a mere 26 she was a member of the impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C., advising the House Committee on the Judiciary during the Watergate scandal.
When Martin Luther King Jr was 26 he led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. By the time he was 28 he had helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, serving as its first president. When John Lewis was 23 he was the Chairman of The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Bobby Kennedy would be considered the equivalent to an older millennial today at 36, when he became the Attorney General of the United States and the closest Advisory to his brother the American President. Bill Gates was 20 when he co-founded Microsoft, and Steve Jobs was 21 when he co-founded Apple.
One could argue that passion got the best of all of the people mentioned above, before they could internalize what was deemed possible to achieve by the establishment of their youth. You could say the same about much of a whole generation that engaged in the struggle to end Segregation in America, to end the war in Vietnam, to move feminist concerns into the foreground of public debate, to instill environmental consciousness into a disposable society and more. Young people by and large, all too naive to understand what couldn't be accomplished. All too impatient to change the world to accept that it couldn't be done, except incrementally, through a realistic pragmatic approach.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Feb 17, 2016, 03:58 PM (35 replies)
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, 09:55 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, 09:09 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, 03:37 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, 11:00 AM (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, 04:21 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, 09:51 AM (38 replies)