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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 67,939

Journal Archives

Tim Ryan believes we should gloss over issues of race, gender, ethnicity with an economic argument

Ryan on MTP, November 2016 :

I think, in part, we try to slice the electorate up. And we try to say, "You're black, you're brown, you're gay, you're straight, you're a woman, you're a man." The reality of it is there's no juice in that kind of campaign. There's no energy in that because it's divided.

The key to, and-- magic of, good campaigns, is when you pull people together. You unite them around a common theme. And look, if you're black, white, gay, straight, brown, you want a good job. You know, we focus sometimes too much on the minimum wage and we should be talking about living wages and middle class wages and pensions and benefits and the kind of thing that people in the industrial Midwest talk about all the time.


This is a centrist's attempt to sideline concerns particular to gays, blacks, women in favor of what he believes is an all-encompassing economic argument.

What Ryan is angling for is a muffling of the voices of the vast majority of Democratic voters who actually show up at the polls, in order to draw in conservative voters, like him, who can't bear to hear about the needs and concerns endemic to individuals and groups of individuals who choose to organize under our Democratic banner.

Essentially, Tim Ryan wants our party to posture to appeal to republicans. He's envious of the way Trump was able to rally white moderates, reasoning that it was an economic appeal which assuaged their anti-Democratic fever. But Trump did more than sell them on some economic plan. He reached out to stroke the deep resentment those voters were expressing against anyone who didn't look like them or think like them.

Trump ran a lurid and prevaricating campaign which would have been an anathema to his republican predecessors. I'm not talking about the types of campaign rhetoric that came from Sanders during the primary that Hillary's 'Wall Street connections' meant that she couldn't or wouldn't represent the working class. Whatever the truth is about Hillary and that nebulous campaign meme, 'Wall Street connections' couldn't be all that important to anyone who voted for this ruthless capitalist who's demonstrated nothing but antipathy to the people who've worked for him over the entirety of his privileged life.

Trump appealed to the insecurity of some white Americans who have been convinced their share of the nation's economic benefits are being unfairly threatened by blacks, immigrants, and anyone else who dare assert their rightful role in our country's economy. The oft-bigoted demagogue left no dog-whistle behind as he promised to restore these psychologically-displaced souls to their assumed place of prominence in society.

Take the issue of race in the election, for example. If there was one message the white working-class got from Hillary in that campaign, it almost certainly was that black lives were going to matter in her presidency. Hillary challenged white Americans to acknowledge their economic successes and take heed of those who have been left behind in the recovering economy. More importantly, Hillary insisted that white Americans should recognize and appreciate the role race plays in the failure of the black community to fully benefit from the economic recovery.

"For many white Americans," Hillary said, "it’s tempting to believe that bigotry is largely behind us. That would leave us with a lot less work, wouldn’t it? But more than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind."

That seemingly obvious reasoning should be commonplace in our political debate, but these truths have been overlooked throughout our nation's history. Black economic gains have always lagged behind those of white Americans, certainly not just during the Obama administration. In the present economy, blacks have experienced the slowest economic recovery of any group of Americans.

Why would anyone who claims to have the interests of our diverse party at heart want to homogenize concerns like these into phony economic populism which treats everyone on the economic and societal ladder as if we were starting on level ground?

Ryan's argument for condensing our diverse party's myriad concerns and needs into an appeal directed at one group of Americans is not only wrong, it's foolhardy. It's also the 'identity politics' he's denouncing, he's just advocating identifying our party's agenda, primarily, with one group of Americans. White males.

That's basically Trumpism, dressed up in a self-opportunistic appeal designed to unseat a Democratic leader who has endeavored throughout the entirety of her career to represent ALL of our needs and concerns, not just those of a privileged few.

Still downplaying Comey's committee appearance Thursday?

...he's opened the door to all sorts of questioning with the early release of his opening statement.

Comey's done all but release the actual memos. Doesn't look like he's holding back one bit. Hell of an opportunity for Senators looking to drop this scandal in Trump's lap.

I'd say we're already some distance past concerns expressed here like, "don't expect much from this hearing." I'd think we can expect a great deal more to be revealed about his contacts with the president.

Statement for the Record
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017

Bottom line: All of this stonewalling confirms questions of obstruction of justice

...otherwise, what would be the harm (or downside for Trump) for intel officials relating conversations with the president, especially if they were completely innocent as claimed?

Even if there isn't a clear legal case to be made, there are still political consequences if Trump is seen by the public as working to block or halt investigations into his WH, or probes into his own conduct.

That's what makes it imperative for the public to know just what Trump discussed. We should be provided with the Comey memos and allowed to make our own judgments, especially since any initial accountability from the president would be in a political arena, not a court.

Comey has this ONE chance to redeem his reputation against Trump's charges

...everything about Comey indicates that he's highly protective of his image and reputation (and by extension, that of the FBI), more than he is with making political gestures.

That said, he has absolutely no guarantee that Mueller will redeem him completely of Trump's charges in some future report. Comey doesn't have the luxury in his relatively young life (career-wise) to sit in the shadows while his name is used as fodder by the Trump team.

He needs to put his version of events on the public table now, and try and maintain control of the narrative. Otherwise, he could be framed without a chance to fully rebuke Trump's smears.

Trump has already taken any claim of Executive privilege out of the mix by putting forward his version of events and characterization of the fired AG. Comey, as a private citizen, doesn't have a conflict discussing his own actions, so, if he comes in looking to clear his name I'd expect him to forthcoming about the conversations he's said he had with Trump and detailed about what alarmed him about Trump's attempts get him to sideline the investigations.

All it's going to take is a legislator asking one important question he's willing to respond to candidly, and the entire focus of the hearing (and the investigation) can shift dramatically. This isn't a static appearance, it's a dynamic event which hold a lot of promise for further ensnaring Trump, so I think the hype over the appearance is justified.

After all, why would Comey INSIST on a PUBLIC hearing just to provide nothing more than what he's already shared with the public?

Too much handwringing and worrying over how republicans feel

...have we forgotten how completely bankrupt and dishonest their argument is? When did they earn the right to respectful discourse?

Have we forgotten how little they care about how WE feel? Have we forgotten their anti-American agenda not only offends; that it actually injures, maims, and kills?

What is the appropriate response to someone who has so much disregard for your humanity that they would strip away yours and your family's healthcare; strip parent from child, willfully and maliciously poison our water and air?

How much of a response is too much? A goddamed photoshopped photo? Not nearly enough, imo. Much too little a response directed at those who intend to END us.

We're not politicians. We're flesh and blood, and our lives, and our children's lives, are in grave danger. The planet is in danger. We're not going to react like this is some sort of university debate. It's war.

Don't get lulled into a gentleman's game, mollycoddling people who are completely devoid of care for our lives, our safety, our health, and our well-being. This is not the time for moderation.

You're the Puppet!

I'm not the puppet, Kislyak's the puppet


Trump Frustrated With Failures, Anxious to Rig the System

Trump looked at his string of failures in his 100 days in office and decided democracy doesn't suit his autocratic expectations of getting his way like he did in his private life of wealth and luxury.

He's discovered the U.S. isn't a corporation where it's citizens are subordinate to the will and whim of the Executive, but a confluence of interests - and the government he's been chosen to lead is meant to reconcile those disparate interests and concerns from myriad, diverse regions of the nation into action or law.

Totally predictable to find Trump this week talking wistfully about his former life/job, and how much harder he finds the work of the presidency (how easy must his former job have been, considering how many weekends he's bugged out to his luxury resorts since he took office?).

Very much in character with his right-wing party to find Trump anxious to change the rules and rig the system to shortcut his way to getting what he wants.

Here's Trump in an interview with Fox News airing Friday night:

“We don't have a lot of closers in politics, and I understand why: It's a very rough system. It's an archaic system.”

“You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Senate and some of the things you have to go through — it's really a bad thing for the country, in my opinion. They're archaic rules. And maybe at some point we're going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different.”

“You can't go through a process like this. It's not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you're really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules...”

read/watch interview: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/04/29/trump-is-now-talking-about-consolidating-his-own-power/?utm_term=.0c9cf5f2abd7

Contrast that with Barack Obama in his farewell speech, wisdom from experience:

"– our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own.

We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen."


Vigilante Justice


Trump showed us he's willing to unilaterally launch massive military attacks across sovereign borders, against nations which don't pose a clear or immediate threat to our national security, and launch them at a moment's notice.

His Syrian bombing 'attack' was waged to avenge for the chemical attack, not for any imminent threat, or, as the War Powers Act states, 'pursuant to a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization from Congress, or a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States.'

Trump's attack wasn't waged to halt or eliminate the threat from chemical weapons, rather, it was deliberately limited in its severity and scope to merely send a message to the Syrian regime.

His unilateral attack was prosecuted with little investigation, and all of the determination and judgment resting in the administration's lap. The attack was lawless and dangerous - oblivious to the consequences, reprisals, or effects. It was vigilante justice, pure and simple.

Trump needs to be reigned in.

Obama, through diplomacy, did more than Trump to curb Syrian chemical weapon use

...although President Obama maintained in the wake of chemical attacks in Syria in 2013 that he had the authority to unilaterally initiate military attacks on the sovereign nation, he eventually relented and opted to refrain from attacking in favor of a diplomatic initiative by Russia.

We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that he arrived at the decision to yield to Russia because Britain said 'no' first, then our legislature and the American people signaled 'no' as well to his plan for military strikes.

He only brought it to Congress because the Brits and the American people telegraphed strong opposition to the question. I still remember that he sent Ambassador Powers to the UN to tell the world he believed diplomacy had been 'exhausted' with regard to Syria, before he made the decision to allow the Russian initiative to proceed.

Under the terms of the War Powers Act, which the Obama gave heed to, his interpretation of a threat didn't measure up. For instance, there's no provision allowing unilateral Executive initiation of military force for a future threat. The chemical weapons treaty his administration referenced intended that the world community would play a role in determining whether military force would be used.

Goddamn that he took us there and still held out the possibility of military strikes, insisting he had the authority to strike Syria - attack a nation which hasn't directly threatened us or any of our allies - no matter what Congress and the American people might say. That weak declaration of a threat to our national security is the hook Trump and other presidents (among other weaknesses in the WPA) will use for decades to justify their own unilateral military actions.

God bless that he listened to those opposed. Good on him for seeking congressional approval. Obama, by abiding with the expressed will of Americans and Congress, and allowing the Russian diplomatic initiative to proceed, did more in addressing the threat to Syrians from chemical weapons than Trump has in bombing an airfield. His administration's efforts stand, without a doubt, alongside not more than a handful of diplomatic initiatives to conflict which our country has managed to a successful and peaceful end without military force.

Here's the U.N. Joint Mission Sec. Kerry organized describing the chemical weapons removal as '100%' complete in 2014:

Source: United Nations

The Joint Mission welcomes the removal of the remaining 7.2 per cent of chemical weapons material from the Syrian Arab Republic. With this last movement, the total of declared chemical weapons materials destroyed or removed from Syria has reached 100%. The most operationally challenging task within the effort to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons programme, has come to an end.

In addition to the completion of the removal operation, the Syrian Arab Republic has destroyed all declared production, mixing and filling equipment and munitions, as well as many buildings associated with its declared chemical weapons programme. With the exception of twelve production facilities that are awaiting a decision by the Executive Council of OPCW, all of the declared Syrian chemical weapons programme has been eliminated in an unprecedented timeframe and under uniquely challenging conditions.

'He Gassed His Own People'


It is illegal for President Trump to unilaterally wage war just to punish Syria. It is required by law that there be some demonstrable threat to the U.S. or our allies, or some imminent attack, in order for the CiC to unilaterally order the use of force.

In 2013, then-President Obama faced the same decision whether to punish Syria's government for chemical attacks blamed on Assad. At that time, the U.N. envoy to Syria asserted that military intervention would need U.N. approval:

____ U.N.’s special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, spoke to reporters in Geneva as a U.N. inspection team was investigating the alleged poison gas attack near Damascus on Aug. 21 and momentum built for Western military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in the civil war that he called the most serious crisis facing the international community.

‘‘With what has happened on the 21st of August last week, it does seem that some kind of substance was used that killed a lot of people: hundreds, definitely more than a hundred, some people say 300, some people say 600, maybe 1,000, maybe more than 1,000 people,’’ Brahimi said.

‘‘This was of course unacceptable. This is outrageous. This confirms how dangerous the situation in Syria is and how important for the Syrians and the international community to really develop the political will to address this issue seriously, and look for a solution for it,’’ he said.

Brahimi also said that any U.S.-led military action must first gain approval from the 15-nation Security Council, whose five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — each have veto power.

‘‘International law says that any military action must be taken after’’ Security Council approval, he said. But, he added, President Barack Obama’s administration is ‘‘not known to be trigger-happy.'

"He gassed his own people."

That's the refrain Bush used to keep Americans chastened enough to allow him to use the force and threat of our military to meddle in Iraq's political affairs. It's, perhaps, coincidentally, the same hook the Obama administration used to try and assuage Americans' and our legislators' ambivalence about unleashing our own destructive violence in response to another nation's leader's alleged violence inside of his own country.

'Syria isn't Iraq or Afghanistan,' goes the defense against such comparisons. 'Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq,' or something to that effect, 'and, Obama told the truth about chemical weapons in Syria.

Yet, it makes no difference at all that one justification for the use of military force abroad is a lie and the other isn't. BOTH distort and misrepresent the actual threat to our national security for the exact same reason.

BOTH Bush and Obama made their representations of the threat to the U.S. in order to declare and secure their unilateral authority to use our military forces (at least initially) any way they see fit, without congressional pre-approval - justified almost entirely in their view by their opportunistic declarations that our security is threatened.

That was the slippery slope that Bush used to war. That's the slope that Pres. Obama used to escalate Bush's Afghanistan occupation far beyond the former republican presidency's limits - with the catastrophic result of scores more casualties than Bush to our forces during this Democratic administration's first term and scores more innocent Afghans dead, maimed, or uprooted.

In pressing forward with a U.S. military response to the atrocities committed within Syria, the Democratic president lost almost all of the ground we thought we'd covered in repudiating the opportunistic Bush wars. Bush's were waged, certainly, for oil and other greed; but just as certainly to effect U.S. expansionist ideals involving regime changes and 'dominoes.'

This republican administration, like the Obama WH, is looking for a military wedge inside Syria to effect much the same idealistic set of political aims in that country and the region that the Bush leadership was obsessed with. It's carried forward by this self-important notion that the U.S. is in a position to dictate to other nations it's own versions of opportunistically constructed democracies which serve to elevate one U.S.-interested ideal over other equally pernicious and malicious ones.

Military intervention in Syria isn't going to be 'limited' to a few days, restricted to 'targeted sites', or, just a 'shot across the bow, like Pres. Obama asserted at the time.

The former president insisted that it wouldn't be "a repetition of, you know, Iraq," but, its that very naivete (or bullshittery) that makes the prospect of a military strike in that country as full of as many unanswered questions and pitfalls as Bush's own assertions about his intent to deploy our military resources to defend our national security against a very similar set of unproven allegations about WMDs.

And, what of evidence? It already sounds like the Trump administration is relying on the process of elimination, rather than hard evidence; claiming that the Assad regime is the only actor there capable of delivering a chemical attack in the way this one is alleged to have occurred is not the same as providing definitive proof; not the kind of definitive proof that should be required to attack a nation across its sovereign borders.

Dismissing the possibility that a U.N. inspection team, for example, would be capable of uncovering the truth in Syria - even before one has been deployed - is a signal to Syrians and others that this administration has a pre-determined mindset against that nation which is never going to recognize the truth behind whatever evidence is ever uncovered.

Talk of a 'limited' military strike that sends a 'message' to the Syrian regime ignores the almost certain blowback the regional allies like Israel will experience almost immediately after a U.S. assault. Does President *Trump really believe that Syria and their allies will be so impressed with our display of military might that they'll just fold and surrender? Not many folks think that's likely to happen.

More chance that a U.S. attack will embolden and validate those views in Syria and the region that it's really just American influence behind the opposition, rather than interests more dedicated to what Syrians actually want for their own country.

We can certainly argue and debate about the differences between Syria and Iraq - for instance, the size and potential of Syria's much more equipped and capable forces. Yet, it is this administration's (as was Obama's) determination to sell military intervention in Syria as a cakewalk that most reminds of Bush's own assertions about invading Iraq.

Same thin thread of proof; same rosy set of assumptions about a 'limited' military action; same ignoring or dismissal of the Syrian response; same clueless denial about who our military action would actually be serving in Syria.

Unless this administration steps back and approaches this issue with a deeper mindset than Bushian-variety arrogance and bluster, we're going to find ourselves on a slippery slope to a widened war.

So far, President Trump looks eager enough in his own belief in the efficacy and effect of deploying our military defenses to cause Syria to change their behavior. I believe strikes will just inflame and exacerbate whatever divisions exist there today. No 'shot across the bow' will automatically end them.

It's incredibly sad to see so many folks I viewed as progressive allies giving in to an appeal to strike Syria with the devastating force of our weapons. I view it as a capitulation to every wrong instinct that the Bush administration exercised; every wrong instinct about the limitations, risks, and consequences of our nations use of military force abroad that most of us thought we had repudiated with the exit of Bush.

Now we have an entirely new set of justifications for authorizing the president to war against Syria which borrows on almost every one of Bush's imperialistic justifications for his own out-of-control military ambitions. We'll be told that their every militaristic instinct is born out of their desire to address Syria's chemical weapons capability, but we won't see any abatement at all in their drive to further war.

Already, in the past few months, Trump has quietly deployed hundreds of U.S. troops on the ground in Syria, directing numerous airstrikes against 'ISIS targets.' We're already bombing Syria under a loose definition of our 'national security.'

Now, there are breaking reports that Tomahawk missiles have already been fired into Syria tonight, possibly hitting a key airstrip, without even a hint of a nod to Congress giving their approval, as Obama sought and was denied by a republican-controlled body.

We are now a nation being determinately driven to war by the man most of us are convinced already views militarism as an indispensable part of his foreign policy. Any 'diplomacy' practiced toward Syria is nothing more than an ultimatum by this President- a coercion behind the devastating threat of our military arsenal.

We are undone, as progressives; as Americans; by capitulation to military strikes. We will scarcely hope to restrain this administration as they prosecute war, and, in accepting military strikes as just, we will have lost every instinct or instigation away from the precipice that Obama took the nation to in 2013 and pulled back from; one that almost certainly Trump will never recognize or acknowledge.

The results, worldwide, of contemporary U.S. interventionism, speak for themselves. The *Trump administration, almost blithely, is hoping that their Syrian 'misadventure' says something uniquely democratic and inspiring to countries which pose no actual threat to our nation. I'm afraid that all any one outside of this country will hear is 'empire.
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