Tom Rinaldo's Journal
Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
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Number of posts: 17,383
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Yes, there has been some sloppy reporting about this in some press (when has that ever happened before?) but that is no reason for us to continually get it wrong on DU.
The Democratic Party has no head of Outreach, period. The DNC does sometimes have people heading up outreach efforts to designated target communities, and those positions are subject to change. After a quick search I found references to the DNC appointing people to lead religious outreach, and to head up outreach to the Jewish community specifically. Also heads of outreach to the LGBT community, and the Latino community and no doubt many other demographic slices also - I only spent a few minutes looking. I strongly suspect that the National Democratic Party would define the DC Chair as their overall "Head of Outreach". If that position were to exist separately I would think it should be a full time one, with a fully staffed office to back it up. Maybe we do need that. Maybe Tom Perez will set that up.
Some here have repeatedly been saying that Bernie Sanders is the Head of Outreach for the Democratic Party. Nope he is not. Not even remotely close
This year Chuck Schumer decided to expand the number of Senators who have positions on the Democratic Senate Caucus leadership team. It is traditional for members of Congressional leadership teams for either party in either chamber to all be given "Titles". Sander got one too. Below is coverage of Nancy Pelosi expanding the House Democratic caucus. Her reasons for doing so the way she did were specific to her situation. Schumer added Sanders on the Senate side at the same time as he added Joe Manchin and several others.
Dems expand leadership team
By Mike Lillis - 12/06/16 12:30 AM EST
"House Democrats on Monday expanded their leadership team, promoting a handful of junior lawmakers to newly created positions in an effort to boost the influence of greener members..."
So this is how Schumer did so on the Senate side:
Schumer Expands Leadership Team
"...Whether there would be a contest for the role of whip (which has officially been assistant Democratic leader) remained a bit of a mystery. And Schumer has figured out how to split the baby.
Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois will see that informal title become official, while Washington’s Patty Murray will slide into a No. 3 role of assistant leader. That avoids what could have been a fractious fight between Durbin and Murray.
Schumer is creating an expanded leadership team with 10 members, including senators from a variety of different states and representing ideological diversity within the caucus. A senior Democratic aide said they would all be invited to leadership meetings...
There are a variety of new or elevated roles, all elected by acclimation. Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, for instance, will be outreach chairman."
If you read the full piece you can find the other new leadership positions Schumer "created" to expand his leadership team - if you are curious Manchin is now Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Vice Chairman.
Actually when Schumer created a title for Sanders, again he did so by finding a way to "split the baby" as referenced above with Dubin and Murray, as reported on by USA Today at the time:
"Sanders position is a new one, representing half of the "Steering and Outreach Committee" now chaired by Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Klobuchar will chair the steering committee next Congress."
So it appears that before Sanders was falsely called the "Head of Outreach for the Democratic Party" this year, Klobuchar could have been (but wasn't) falsely called the Head of Outreach for the Democratic Party last year. Who knew?
Beyond the first few leadership posts in the Senate Democratic Caucus- the ones that actually get "ranked" and identified as the number two and number three leadership posts, the actual titles are not particularly meaningful, everyone needs one so everyone gets one. There is no such thing as being a mere "member" of the Caucus leadership team.
So, to summarize, Bernie Sanders is not a Democratic Party member so yes, it would be odd for him to be the Head of Outreach for the Democratic Party - but he isn't. However Sanders is a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus and his new role pertains to the activities of that 48 person body only - to the extent that his title is meant to carry any specific responsibilities beyond attending Senate Caucus leadership meetings and providing input to that team. Like everyone else on Schumer's leadership team, Bernie Sanders has a day job. He is not tasked with individually taking on the rebuilding of the Democratic Party.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Apr 26, 2017, 10:36 AM (3 replies)
with 1,000 scientists on the other "side" of the debate. I am willing to accept that there may be a handful of scientists who are climate change skeptics who are not bought and paid for by the energy industry. But there is no raging debate going on between two roughly equal sides. The scientific community has overwhelmingly moved on to dealing with solutions for climate change
We have a political case of false equivalencies on DU right now. Most of us are sincerely disgusted by the devisiveness on display here daily sapping our energy to unite to resist the Trump Administration. People are quick to call it a continuation of the bitterness that was on display here between Clinton and Sanders supporters during the primaries. It's true there was a lot of vitriol being spewed against Hillary and Bernie by supporters of the other during the primaries, and it was divisive.
No doubt there are still some anti-Hillary threads being posted on DU today. Just like there are a few genuine climate change deniers in the scientific community today. But there is no even remote equivalency. There are some simply pro Hillary threads. There are a few more simply pro Bernie threads. That volume discrepancy is not surprising since Hilary has, for the moment anyway, stepped back from daily pursuit of politics while Bernie still serves in the U.S. Senate and remains directly involved.
Neither of those types of OPs are stridently divisive in their presentation. For example on one day a thread may appear that reports on polling data demonstrating how popular Sanders is (nothing anti Hillary about that). On another day a thread may appear about Clinton being featured at a presentation by NY's Governor regarding the implementation of tuition free education for middle and working class families at NY public colleges and universities (nothing anti Bernie about that)
But there are precious few Anti-Hilary threads on DU since the 2016 election forum closed. Even a "news" event like the release of the book "Shattered" which could have easily been turned into a platform for anti-Hillary tirades has triggered relatively tepid participation on DU. Contrast that with the number of OPs posted daily on DU that are overtly critical of Bernie Sanders. Do a test for yourself, go back and count them for a few day period during any period over the last month. There is no comparison in numbers, there is no equivalency. This is not a case of "both sides are doing it ".
At a point it becomes as predictable as sun rise that supporters of Bernie Sanders will begin to more frequently post threads defending him from constant attack. That is happening now. And the discussion back and forth does gravitate toward bitter exchanges eventually, they are on full display. Just like those arguments we keep seeing broadcast on cable television between defenders of climate change vs climate change deniers. Both sides do it.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Tue Apr 25, 2017, 12:08 PM (5 replies)
Look it up, it's pretty hard to sweep under the rug:
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Apr 23, 2017, 04:35 PM (42 replies)
Hypocrisy in any form is demoralizing to everyone who believes in maintaining an even handed approach toward an evaluation of all of our allies in the greater political fight we are now engaged in with this Republican Administration.
Lately there has been great outrage directed toward the newly elected head of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez. The same is true of the State Democratic Party of Nebraska. They all have, along with the Nebraska Sierra Club, AFSCME’s Nebraska Public Employees Local 251, and the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters, come under sharp fire because they endorsed a candidate for Mayor of Omaha, Heath Mello, who holds "pro-life" views which, in the past, have led him to propose and support legislation strongly (and rightfully) opposed by Pro-Choice organizations and activists. Here is an article from the Washington Post with more about it:
"The Democratic candidate for mayor of Omaha, who’s set to appear at a rally Thursday night with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said earlier in the day that his personal views against abortion would not lead to antiabortion policies at City Hall.
“While my faith guides my personal views, as mayor I would never do anything to restrict access to reproductive health care,” Heath Mello said in a statement Thursday morning."
That's what he says now but his past actions have notably differed. And yet the DNC still supports him. Contrast that with how leaders of the Democratic Party, including at least one former DNC Chair and a recent Democratic Party presidential nominee, have dealt with a prominent current U.S. Senator with pro-life credentials; Bob Casey.
Wikipedia writes of him:
"Casey, like his father, is pro-life. He has publicly stated his support for overturning Roe v. Wade. that was in 2000 and I don't know his current position on that] From Casey's election until Specter's party switch in April 2009, Pennsylvania had the distinction of being represented in the Senate by a pro-life Democrat and a pro-choice Republican (Arlen Specter). He supports the Pregnant Women Support Act, legislation that grew out of Democrats for Life of America's 95 -10 Initiative. The Initiative and the Pregnant Women Support Act seek to reduce the abortion rate by providing support to women in unplanned pregnancies. He expressed support for the confirmation of both John Roberts and Samuel Alito for seats on the Supreme Court of the United States; these judges are believed to be in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. Casey also opposes the funding of embryonic stem-cell research.
In January 2010 during the Healthcare debates, Senator Bob Casey was heckled for his handling of the abortion provisions in the healthcare bill and for not taking a hard-line, uncompromising pro-life stance. Casey was the primary sponsor of an amendment to prevent government funds from being used for abortion services, but when he tried to organize a compromise that appealed to both Democrats and the party's lone holdout, Sen. Ben Nelson, he angered some religious groups.
In 2011, Casey was rated by NARAL Pro-Choice America as "anti-choice" and was not endorsed in their election guide. That year, he voted against defunding Planned Parenthood, against H.R.1 and for cloture for the nomination of Goodwin Liu, earning him a 100% rating for those three votes."
Ed Reendell, former DNC Chair, Pennsylvania Governor and long time close associate of Hillary Clinton praised Casey's Democratic credentials in light of his "pro-life" position just a few weeks ago in this interview (see the embedded video of the MSNBC interview at this ink):
"Ed Rendell Exposes Casey’s Recent Leftward Shift"
Probably for those reasons Casey was relegated to only acting in the relatively minor role of a surrogate for our 2016 presidential nominee, introducing her to crowds at campaign events in Pennsylvania:
"Soft-spoken Bob Casey grows into role as surrogate"
...But the Scranton native known for his mild manner has taken on a sharper tone as he stumps for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who also has ties to northeastern Pennsylvania. Casey is a top Democrat in a battleground state, making his advocacy even more crucial to her campaign...
Casey already has backed Clinton during her appearances here, with introductions at events in the primary and by promoting her remarks on terrorism following her event in Pittsburgh last month..."
Should we still support the DNC in light of all of the above?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Apr 22, 2017, 06:21 PM (43 replies)
Yes, they were the last four Democratic Party candidates for President who won the popular vote. And none of them helped Jon Ossoff before the Georgia special election either. Neither did any living former Democratic President or Vice President - that adds Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden to the list. Nor did any living former Democratic Party candidate for President or Vice President - that adds Mike Dukakis, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, John Edwards and Tim Kaine to the list. But why stop there? Far as I can tell neither did any living former Democratic Party runner up for the Presidential nomination - that adds Bill Bradly and Bernie Sanders to the...
Whoa! Did I just add Bernie Sanders to that list? Surely that must merit its own DU thread attacking him for not helping Jon Ossoff, and Lo, there indeed is one, and it got 122 DU Recs. I could also have added to the above list leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential nomination, and mentioned Democrats like Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown, and Al Franken, and Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Cuomo, and Martin O'Malley, and Cory Booker etc, none of whom to my knowledge helped Jon Ossoff either - but I don't have a definitive list of leading Democratic contenders for the 2020 nomination. Besides I had enough to make my point.
I think DU has experienced a significant outbreak of Sanders Derangement Syndrome. And I don't say that simply because there have been multiple posts that express criticism of him. I certainly don't say that because some people have criticisms to make against Bernie Sanders. There are numerous points that can be made with varying degrees of justification that are not wholly flattering either to Bernie, or his political endeavors. He's fair game like every other Democrat or politician who caucuses with Democrats (maybe if I looked hard enough I could find a thread critical of Angus King here).
DURING THE 2016 PRIMARY SEASON there were lots and lots of DU threads critical of both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. There were really nasty ones about each. There was some reasonable criticism of each also. And then the primaries ended, and then we had a nominee and primary season officially ended at DU. I just counted 8 threads on the first two pages of this forum that at root are critical of Bernie Sanders - and I left off a couple that take more glancing swipes at him. Conversely there are none there that are directly critical of Hillary Clinton, and only one that perhaps could be considered "veiled" criticism of her politics. My point again isn't that there is nothing of any merit that can be said negative about Bernie Sanders. There are positive things said of him here also but he is after all, according to our DNC Chair and our Congressional leadership, generally on our side. My point is that there is more said negative about Bernie Sanders on DU than is being said about any other figure in American politics with the exception of Donald Trump.
There are more negative comments on DU toward Bernie Sanders than there are here toward Mike Pence, or Paul Ryan, or Steve Bannon, or Mitch McConnell, or Rush Limbaugh, or Ted Cruz etc. There is even more said negative toward Bernie here than there is toward Joe Manchin - and that's sayng something. Bernie Sanders is more than just a controversial figure who some have reason to be displeased with for some of the things he says or does, or doesn't say or do. He won 45% of the votes in our last presidential primary. He has millions upon millions of supporters who like him for what he is, and who wanted him to represent our Party as our candidate for President. Yes I am one of those people, but I don't find Bernie Sanders infallible. He makes mistakes. He can be criticized. His way forward may not be the best way forward. There is room to disagree.
But DU is looking more and more like it used to last Spring, except only one side remains on the attack.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Apr 20, 2017, 03:26 PM (81 replies)
I say that not only as a registered Democrat who votes Democratic every year, but also as a Democratic Party official, which makes me about as much of a Democrat as one can be. I'm the elected Chair of our Town's Democratic Committee. I have a seat on our county's Democratic Party Executive Committee. Last night I chaired a meeting of our Town's Democratic Committee preparing for the local elections in November, and we just recruited a very solid highly qualified candidate to run for an open seat on our Town Board. She is a Democrat, and she voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 New York State Democratic Presidential primary.
At that same meeting we moved forward on plans for door knocking throughout our Town to build resistance to our newly elected Republican Congressman (ours is considered to be a swing congressional district). That is the Democratic Party in action. On that effort we are working with Democratic activists, we are working with Working Families Party activists, we are even working alongside some Green Party members (few and far between), and we are working with Independent activists (they are called non-enrolled voters around here to avoid confusing them with members of the Independence Party).
Gallup has been ruing a poll for years that asks: “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent? “ On March 17 2017 26% said Republican, 42% said Independent, and 30% said Democrat. Those figures bounce around a little, but since Gallup started running it in 2004 the relative order remains fairly constant. More almost always answer Independent than Democrat.
A different Gallup study issued in 2014 had this finding:
“Young Americans in their 20s and 30s today share two important political characteristics -- they are the most likely of any age group to eschew identification with either party, and, among those who do have a political identity, they are the most likely, along with older baby boomers, to tilt toward the Democratic Party. “
Further on it goes on to explain the actual raw data – how young people literally self identify their political affiliations:
“These results highlight, again, the political detachment of the younger generation, with almost half of the very youngest initially identifying themselves as independents. The percentage of Americans who are independent drops at a remarkably steady rate across the entire age spectrum...
... Young Americans are more detached from the political system in general, but still tilt strongly toward the Democratic Party, particularly when those who initially identify as independents are asked to which party they lean.”
I would argue that Bernie Sanders now occupies a sweet spot among voters who profess an affinity for “liberal” values that the Democratic Party has long associated with, especially so with younger voters. The Democratic Party, essentially by definition, has a plethora of leaders. We have the DNC, we have State Democratic Committees. We have paid spokespeople, we have paid strategists, we have three ex-Presidents. We have thousands of Democrats who have been elected to offices. We have plenty of people who can make the case for being a Democrat, which is all well and good. Still the trend lines for registering as a Democrat have been running against us for year, decades actually. That is not because of Bernie Sanders, or Angus King either for that matter, who is the other Independent caucusing with Democrats in the Senate. It is because more and more people prefer to see themselves as Independents. It is a historical trend and literally registered Democrats are now a significant minority of the general public. Wishing it were otherwise does not change those facts.
Independents by definition choose not to belong to a political party. And there are more of them than there are of us. Many people value the perceived integrity of being Independent, positioned beyond the pall of partisan politics. Still, just like people who do affiliate with a political party, they vote, and it is not a stretch to say that they hold the balance of power in American politics today. Given that I think it is an asset to us as Democrats to have a self identified Independent like Bernie Sanders not only caucus with us in the Senate, the way Angus King does, but also advocate on behalf of the Democratic Party as an institution. Sanders recently said, "If the Democratic Party is going to succeed - and I want to see it succeed - it's gonna have to open its door to Independents".
I think Bernie Sanders is unusually well situated to help the Democratic Party succeed, and he is doing so. No he is not an active part of the Democratic Party apparatus the way both I and Tom Perez are. We have people for those roles. Sanders is an independent outside advocate, to other Independents, for working with the Democratic Party to help it achieve a positive vision for America. He has always done so by caucusing with us, but more recently he did so by inspiring so many to become personally involved in Democratic politics, via his own campaign for President. That is having a positive carry over to this day. I am seeing that here at the local Democratic Party level. Sanders endorsed and campaigned for the Democratic Party candidate for President. Now he is traveling around the country with the DNC Chair – the one who defeated the candidate for that position who he himself originally endorsed.
Let me go back to that Gallup quote above: “Young Americans are more detached from the political system in general, but still tilt strongly toward the Democratic Party, particularly when those who initially identify as independents are asked to which party they lean.” Bernie is helping consolidate the Democratic Party appeal to precisely those kinds of Independents by, as an Independent, repeatedly associating with us. He may not always immediately deliver new Democratic Party members to us as a consequence of his activity - though I see a strong uptick in new literal Democratic Party activism from people who were pulled into our Party because of their involvement in the Sanders run for the Democratic presidential nomination. But Bernie Sanders is making a strong case to look first to the Democratic Party for candidates to support to achieve progressive ideals.
It wasn't preordained that it would be this way. There have been growing rumbles for years that the Left in America needed a new political party to support other than the Democrats; an American Labor Party perhaps, or a reconstituted and expanded Green Party associated with a wider spectrum of issues beyond a relatively narrow focus on environmental concerns. Bernie Sanders could have spearheaded that movement. He was pointedly asked to do so. He could have become it's standard bearer running as a third party Independent – which inevitably would have resulted in a new left of center party forming in the wake of his campaign Or Bernie Sanders could have run in 2016 with the Green Party endorsement for President. Jill Stein offered him that deal and Bernie refused. Or he could have stayed out of the 2016 race all together once he lost the Democratic nomination, but instead he campaigned for Hillary Clinton, who of course Jill Stein directly opposed.
I am not saying that we need a lot more Bernie Sanders Independent types, he pretty much fills the bill by himself as a high profile advocate for Independents to look first to the Democratic Party for political representation, rather than going third party or staying at home. We are lucky we have Sanders playing that role.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Apr 19, 2017, 01:59 PM (54 replies)
They don't care if it is "Progressives" dumping on Hillary or "Loyal Democrats" dumping on Bernie. From their perspective it doesn't matter. Especially now when neither of them became President and Donald Trump did. They don't care which role they play in any divisive debates so long as they goes on and on and on. Especially when we become increasingly frustrated/angry with each other in he process
Plenty of good sincere Democratic or otherwise left of center bloggers/posters have strong honest feelings about what the two leading candidates for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination have politically or personally done right or wrong in their lives in the past, or might still do in the present/future. Having feelings and stating them does not make one a troll. But know that they are out there (and on here) egging us on. Their work isn't over because the presidential election is now behind us. They are busy throwing tacks on our trail to victory in 2018 - seeking to deflate us. They can only do so at DU until our Administrators and Moderators manage to flush them out (Thank You!). But troll decontamination must always be approached cautiously less the innocent get swept out with the dirt. Meanwhile there are loads of innocents who get sucked into the mosh pits where it's an elbow for an elbow, and a knee for a knee.
I'm there sometimes too, but as a past partisan in the most recent primary wars I can say this: I was for Bernie and I still support him. But I am very very careful, and think long and hard of it, before I write anything that can be construed as an attack on Hillary Clinton here. We had weeks to sort those feelings out, if it was important to enough to those of us from either "side". I could post knocks on Hillary here easily if I wanted to. Same is true for others about Bernie. The scripts to do so are dog eared and worn. All of them are laced with poison. There is nothing easier than to keep ill will stoked. Healing is much more difficult.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Apr 16, 2017, 06:38 PM (6 replies)
It's a song by Danny Schmidt (who himself is Jewish) called "Stained Glass". It climaxes on an Easter Sunday. He played it for us last night at a concert series we run. Savor the lyrics on this one - they are amazing, and they left us stunned.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Apr 16, 2017, 11:56 AM (2 replies)
I've seen some recent media coverage of the tweets Trump made a few years back urging Obama to stay out of Syria. Here 's some coverage in "The Hill from that time:
Trump: Obama should ‘stay out’ of Syria
By Meghashyam Mali - 04/29/13 11:41 AM EDT
"The billionaire and frequent Obama critic dismissed growing calls for the U.S. to provide more assistance to rebel forces seeking the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, amid claims the strongman may have used chemical weapons, crossing President Obama's “red line.”
“Al Qaeda is a member and a very strong member and really pushing the rebels, so now what we are going to be doing if we do this is funding al Qaeda, which is just what we’ve been doing,” said Trump, citing Islamist elements in the opposition forces.
Trump’s comments come as calls from lawmakers to take action against Assad’s regime intensified after the White House said last week that it had evidence chemical weapons had been used. Obama had warned that such an action would invite a U.S. response, but last week the administration said it needed more time to continue gathering evidence...
...“From a human rights standpoint, from a human standpoint we’ve been through this before,” Trump said. “Who knows what weapons they have, who really knows what weapons they have? But wouldn’t you think maybe it’s time to stay out of one of these?”
OK, so here's the kicker, and I'm surprised that no one else seems to be making this obvious connection: Obama then followed the Trump playbook for Syria. Obama worked together with Russian President Vladimir Putin to broker a deal inside Syria. That is what Trump campaigned on for all of 2016. Trump said that the U.S. has common interests in Syria with Putin, and that we should seek to work together with Russia to advance them. And that is exactly what Obama did. He didn't send cruise missiles into Syria after Syria used chemical weapons (and after the Republican controlled U.S. Congress signaled opposition to the use of the U.S.military in response.) No, Obama worked with Putin to guarantee that Syria gave up it's chemical weapon stockpiles, with Russia taking an active role in assuring full implementation of the accord.
It's not just that Trump once told Obama to stay out of Syria. He instead advocated, as an alternative, that the U.S. work closer with Russia in Syria to pursue joint ends. And that is what Obama did vis a vis Syria crossing that "red line". We struck a deal with Putin (who of course also claims to be against the use of chemical weapons). The U.S. didn't attack Syria and Putin "got Assad to agree" to give up and destroy his entire stockpile of chemical weapons.
Obama tried the Trump plan. The Trump plan didn't work.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Thu Apr 6, 2017, 09:18 AM (3 replies)
The Justice Department went to Trump and warned him that Flynn was subject to blackmail by the Russians, according to reports. They may have said more. Trump sat on that information for almost 3 weeks without doing anything. Flynn continued to be present at high security events, he still had his job and was privy to state secrets....
Then someone went to the press and revealed that Flynn had been compromised through, minimally, lying about his contact with the Russians - but probably much more.
Then Flynn got fired, roughly within a day AFTER the press ran with the story.
When the President won't act to protect our nation sometimes someone else steps into the breech. That person is a hero, whether or not they "leaked" Flynn's classified identity by unmasking it in the intercepts.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Apr 1, 2017, 04:43 PM (5 replies)