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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,487

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Oh the irony. Looks like the MAGA rump in the Senate just might bring down McConnell

They are bitter about Democrats retaining Senate control and might depose McConnell in a hissy fit over it. McConnell of course was smart enough to realize that Trump forced a bunch of loser candidates on Republicans in Senate contests that could have won Republicans control of the Senate. He also has been one of the most effective (toward ill ends) Senate leaders from either party in history. Time to get rid of him, Senate Republicans, you are on a streak. Why stop now?

Where can Democrats go on the offensive nationally in terns of winning Presidential electoral votes?

Having both Florida and Ohio shift red after being seen as the quintessential swing states for so long hurts. Iowa seems to have moved from purple to red as did Missouri before it. They all seem lost to us now in anything other than a major Blue Wave election year. Texas may yet evolve into a purple state, probably it will within a decade or so, but it's clearly not there yet and may not be for two or three presidential cycles.

The last major shifts toward the Democratic column were in Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia. None are yet deep blue but Democrats remain highly competitive and probably favored in those states. Arizona is promising but still fragile. Same for Georgia except it is probably more red tinted than Arizona still. It's great that the Blue Wall is back for us in the Mid West and Pennsylvania, but it isn't quite as formidable a barrier to Republicans as it once was. Democrats, IMO, have less margin for error in assembling an electoral college majority than we did back in the Bill Clinton era

North Carolina obviously stands out to me as a State that Democrats need to pour more resources into. I think there is the potential for NC to vote almost as reliably blue as Virginia now does. The rest of the South stills seems like a huge stretch. Maybe we can claw our way back into contention in Louisiana, I dunno. Over the decades I've watched Democrats make inroads in the Mountain Time Zone region. Is there any hope for a place like Nebraska? How much of a pipe dream is a State like Kansas? Yes it once was blood red and mostly still is, but there are a lot of more moderate type Republicans there seemingly. Could it evolve to become more like Iowa once was, into a future purple state?

Election Deniers are suddenly facing an unfamiliar landscape that they're not sure how to deal with

The total evaporation of any Red Wave (outside of Florida) has them completely off balance. If election results had been more uneven, with MAGA candidates performing well in some states and not in others, then their play book was simple and straight forward: FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD wherever they lost, and power to the people everywhere else. But their showing was almost uniformly dismal. Trump's high profile picks under performed virtually everywhere, often disastrously so. Even the Florida results are a slap in the face to Trump's most hard core base. Trump's image emerged battered from Tuesday's election. So suddenly, closely identifying with Trump's "the elections are rigged" brand of politics is starting to look like a losing proposition. Who really wants to be the ones hoisting that banner into battle now behind an increasingly discredited leader?

Meanwhile the red mirage ploy that Trump's band used to great effect in 2020 has failed them this time. In PA most notably, Fetterman didn't need days of ballot counting after Election Day to pull off a victory. He won outright on Election Day. Meanwhile in the high profile races in Arizona, Republicans have to pin all of their hopes on votes being counted days after the polls closed to deliver them electoral wins. The favored narrative of election deniers is almost hopefully scrambled. No more cries to stop the counting are being heard.

Of course no one needs facts to be on their side in order to promote a lie. But if the act of promoting a specific lie now seems to work to the disfavor of those who do, the motivation behind pushing those lies starts to vanish. There will no doubt be election deniers out there for many years to come, but the winds have shifted. They no longer are at their back, they now are blowing cold and hard in their face.

Twitter seened almost like a faceless utility to most people

Sure it was a business organized for private profit, most utilities are, but personalities didn't overshadow the platform itself. Twitter operated a popular service seemingly, to most anyway, without embracing any particular ideology or strong political leanings. That meant people of all kinds of stripes felt relatively comfortable using it. It almost had a virtual monopoly in its space, like major network news did in the days before cable and the internet. Twitter's corporate ownership stayed way behind the scenes, where it mostly avoided making waves that could rock its ship...

Well that's all shot to hell now. Twitter is now virtually synonymous with Elon Musk's monumental, childish and highly opinionated ego. No one can ever see or use it the same now. A minority of users will embrace the direction that Musk takes it, but the model that made Twitter successful is shattered. Pretty amazing.

It was an unwritten rule: The Super Wealthy were supposed to pull strings from behind a curtain

It can be a very thinly veiled curtain, but it's supposed to be there none the less, for the sake of appearances. It allows the illusion necessary to the preservation of a useful myth; that it is the people who freely govern in a democracy such as ours where all are deemed equal before the law. When mega donors give mega millions in campaign contributions to politicians, they aren't buying favorable votes for their special interests, for heaven's sake. There are never any quid pro quos involved, gosh no, just a polite willingness to listen to and give fair consideration to the legitimate concerns of a constituent. Of course more typical working and middle class voters are always listened to and given fair consideration by politicians in our democratic system, no big contributions needed from us to assure that, right? Ahem, right. And so it has gone in our democracy for many decades, where half a million voters, give or take a few tens of thousands, have the clout needed to counterbalance one politically active billionaire, on average.

And then comes along Elon Musk, the world's most wealthy man, who it seems has an aversion to lurking behind curtains. He prefers yanking on strings right out there in the open, flouting his ability to personally and directly influence the course of national and world events with his great wealth and the power that flows from it. Musk personifies the control that elites exercise in our society. He now is the face of it, replacing a hodge podge of bland corporate logos. It's been awhile since the gilded age when society's overlords tended to be household names. Musk, I strongly sense, is not alone in wanting to step out of the shadows where the likes of the Koch brothers once so liked to dwell. How he is overall received having done so will say a lot about the near term prospects for our democracy.

It was an assassination attempt on the person second in line for the Presidency...

That is the bottom line. It doesn't matter how crazy the assailant is/was, or that their timing/planning was off and the Speaker was not physically present when he acted. It does nothing to minimize the gravity of the event if he was a nut. Squeaky Fromme and John Hinkley were mentally unbalanced also. More often than not those who attempt to assassinate public figures are unbalanced. And more often than not they act because others supposedly more rational than they fostered a climate of hate and violence and radicalizing lies.

This can't be dismissed as just some weirdo with a hammer acting crazy. There are hundreds if not thousands of other potential "weirdos" near or at the brink of committing deadly political violence. This is as dangerous a moment in our history as any we have faced, and must be treated as such.

North Carolina, Iowa, Utah, possibly even Florida. These races stay mostly under the national radar

No, they aren't totally ignored, but compare the relatively sparse attention they all receive to the non stop political talk focused on Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, where seats held by Democrats are deemed to be at high risk. When it comes to forming a Senate majority, a Senate seat is a Senate seat regardless of how high profile a race is or is not thought to be. Democrats (or an Independent in the case of Utah) are positioned to possibly win in all of those states. Republicans can also lose Senate seats that they have held in Ohio and Wisconsin, and of course in Pennsylvania. On the other side of the coin some might say Democrats could lose their grip in New Hampshire. That totals at least seven Republican held Senate seats still in play, compared to four seats on the Democratic side. But one would be hard pressed to realize that by following national media election coverage.

I hate to admit it (in this case) but Obama is right.

I am proud the that Democratic Party stands on the front lines of defending our democracy. I don't think there is any issue in American politics more important than that. I pay heed to the warning Benjamin Franklin gave when he was asked, upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, what kind of government we would have. His answer rings true today: "A Republic, Ma'am, if you can keep it." Many generations of Americans fought hard to keep it, and now it is in grave danger on our watch.

Donald J. Trump will go down in history as a worse traitor to the American experiment than Benedict Arnold ever was, but only if we win this fight. Unfortunately not enough Americans view this fight in the same light as most of us here do. It's not easy for me to accept that reality, but it keeps staring me in the face. Progressive forces in America have always stood strong on two legs; equality/human rights, and economic justice. One without the other seemingly is not enough for us to win.

Over the decades Republicans have tried to separate the two politically, seeking to weaponize our demands for equality etc. into cultural war wedge issues that they can exploit to their electoral advantage. We can't give in to bigotry in any form, just like we can't surrender our democratic heritage, but we can't afford to lose now either. Too much is at stake. With three weeks to go before the midterms we have to meet voters where they are at, and right now, for many if not most, their eyes are on their pocketbooks. Historically, for a century at least, Democrats have advanced the interests of the middle and working classes economically. We once were closely identified with the working class, the lower middle class, and the middle middle class, while Republicans were more associated with the upper middle class and the wealthy. That is our political heritage.

Republicans almost never deliver the goods for people who struggle to make ends meet, which is what most Americans have to do. Democrats delivered Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. Democrats fight for higher minimum wages. Democrats defend Unions when corporations run rough shod over their workers. Democrats support progressive tax policies that make the well off pay a greater share. Democrats deride trickle down and promote bottom up economics in myriad pieces of legislation. DEMOCRATS FOUGHT AND WON IMPORTANT FIGHTS ALONG THESE LINES SINCE JOE BIDEN BECAME PRESIDENT. Republicans have only been obstructionists, pure and simple. They have no plans to help average Americans get by economically, what they do have in mind would only make matters worse.

Democrats support the kind of efforts that enable common people to survive economic turmoil. Neither Party has the power to banish economic challenges from life. Inflation is a global issue right now. Rising energy prices are a global issue. The disruptions caused by Putin's invasion of Ukraine are global. Supply issues for all kinds of goods and commodities, in the face of a pandemic, are global. One political party will make it easier for average Americans to weather these storms. One political party will make it harder. That is the message we have to focus on for the next three weeks.

The Larger Impact of Herschel Walker on November's Elections

He will lose. He would have lost even without the current round of scandals, but conventional wisdom says they won't cost Walker many votes, if any, from core MAGA voters. That's probably true, but that isn't what matters. Voter attitudes may already be fully baked inside Georgia, which has had a front row seat to the Walker circus for going on a year. Elsewhere in the nation Hershel Walker isn't a literal choice on the ballot for who to send to Washington, elsewhere Herschel Walker increasingly is emblematic of the Republican brand. For vast swaths of the country, in the suburbs in particular, that Republican brand is getting one final look at. For months now Donald Trump has defined that brand. Now Hershel Walker is starting to edge into that picture also. He represents incompetency, he represents hypocrisy, he represents a moral void, and in all of those things he reinforces the branding Donald Trump has already bequeathed Republicans among all but MAGA extremists.

Top that by the fact that Herschel Walker now embodies the one thing Republican strategists want further from the mind of swing voters, moderates and independents as they head to the polls than Donald Trump himself, and that is the issue of abortion. The rallying of National Republicans to Herschel Walker's side only cements Walker as an emerging face of the Republican Party. It was a grave mistake on their part to do so. Walker optimally served Republican interests as a local anomaly best discussed in Georgia only, a local Football icon in a region that goes bonkers over College Football. Now Hershel Walker is the national Republican Party. Knowing all that we all now know about Herschel Walker, Republicans proudly still stand with him. And there you have the current brand of the Republican Party in America, power for the sake of power, lies for the sale of lies. And that will have an impact on every race on November's ballot nationwide. It won't matter everywhere, but it will matter in enough places to make a real difference for Democrats.

Possible Outline for a Potential Future Peace Deal

Lots of speculation rampant on what at some point could constitute a Ukraine "exit ramp" for Putin. Leaving aside the obvious possibility of Putin himself being exited from power in Moscow, one way or another, what deal could still end the war short of a catastrophic total Russian defeat? Clearly lots of high level talent in capitals around the world are wrestling with that question, but here we all are on a political discussion board, might as well be in the mix...

Any agreement to end this war other than on the battle field will almost certainly have to contain at least a fig leaf or two for Putin. But just as obviously, to me at least, objectively it also would have to leave Ukraine in a stronger position vis a vis Russia than it was the day before Russia launched its invasion. My thoughts on this are:

A cease fire followed by mutually agreed upon international peacekeeping forces entering into and providing intermediate security within all of the regions of Ukraine, the Crimea included, that Russia has claimed to annex. The organizing of a formal referendum process run by the U.N. or other such mutually agreeable international authority to take place within those areas under a negotiated upon timeline and conditions. Those negotiations most like would need to be completed prior to a formal cease fire taking hold and the insertion of international peace keeping forces. Who would have standing to vote in those referendums would be subject to those negotiations.

A declaration by both Ukraine and Russia, along with other relevant entities such as N.A.T.O., that the national borders of both Russia and Ukraine relative to each other would be fixed by the results of those referendums and internationally acknowledged. Such an acknowledgement would formally include an overt recognition that sovereignty includes the right of any nation, Ukraine clearly included, to determine for itself what if any international security alliances and or pan-national entities (such as N.A.T.O and the EU) it chooses to be a part of. That clearly is intended to unlock the door for Ukraine to receive formal security assurances, up to and including full N.A.T.O. membership, from the West.

As an element of those referendums, Ukraine would submit such binding guarantees as it is willing to make to Russian speaking citizens, within those areas of Ukraine that Russia has claimed to annex, to safeguard both their rights and their culture should they vote to remain part of Ukraine.

Upon the successful completion of those referendums, certified by the relevant international entities, and the acknowledgement and acceptance of their results by both Russia and Ukraine, certain international sanctions would be removed against the State of Russia that would relieve economic hardship on its citizens. These would be determined in advance through negotiations but would NOT have to include sanctions specifically designed to put a check on Russia's military capacity to wage aggression. Those could be revisited later based on longer term compliance with the Peace accords. Probably N.A.T.O. could also come up with some language that would "address some of Russia's legitimate security concerns" such as the sort of things that were being discussed in the run up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At this point, given all that has gone down, I believe Russia would lose legitimate referendums in all parts of Ukraine that it has illegally claimed to annex, with the possible exception of Crimea., where there had been some degree of popular support for Russia among its residents prior to 2014. Russia occupied Crimea under relatively peaceful conditions for 7 years prior to its larger invasion of Ukraine last year. That provides residents of Crimea with a baseline to legitimately determine which nation state could best represent them moving forward, Russia or Ukraine.

The best case scenario for Putin would be if he were able to convince a majority of Crimea citizens to voluntarily side with Russian sovereignty. I don't know how likely that is, but probably it's not totally impossible. In either case he would be able to get the West to relieve Russia from some of the economic sanctions now crippling it through compliance with the peace accords. In addition he could attempt to take credit for whatever "protections" Russian speaking citizens in other parts of the Ukraine could "win" under terms of the final peace agreement, And if course, he could end conscription in Russia, which now threatens to destabilize his regime.

For Ukraine, it would have to accept allowing an internationally sanctioned process determine its ultimate sovereignty over certain parts of its nation. That is a huge concession, but the end of slaughter of tens of thousands of its citizens, the almost certain Russian retreat in the East and South of Ukraine, coupled with possible iron clad N.A.T.O. security guarantees moving forward, plus a robust international aid package to rebuild Ukraine from the devastation of war, could make it worth it.

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