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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 20,027

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What a time for my 20,000th post.

The times are truly momentous, and historic with a capital "H". Nancy Pelosi was astute and profound to directly reference Thomas Paine. His literal words, which she evoked, are contained in his seminal political treatise "Common Sense":

But we need not go far, the inquiry ceases at once, for the time hath found us. The general concurrence, the glorious union of all things prove the fact. It is not in numbers but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.


My first post on Democratic Underground was in the fall of 2003. That now feels half a century removed. History flows in a mighty stream, the waters change but the river remains. For those of us roughly in my age group (I'm now 70) it is sobering, even staggering to realize that our individual life spans comprise over one fourth of the history of our nation, since the actual time that Thomas Paine spoke of.

And always it is a struggle to preserve and then expand upon the gains that collectively we, over generations, have won; for freedom against autocracy, and for justice against oppression in every form. I watched Richard Nixon consolidate his hold on power in 1972, winning the electoral votes of 49 states in his run for reelection. Then I watched as his growing autocratic tendencies were exposed and finally rebuffed by the Republic Benjamin Franklin said was ours to live in, but only if we could keep it.

I am so grateful for the community of activists who I tap into daily when I log into Democratic Underground. We fight together constantly to keep the Republic that all of us, as Americans, proudly inherited. The Democratic Underground was here for me in 2003, it is here for me today. When Thomas Paine said "It is not in numbers but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world" our community here comes to mind for me.

Impeachment must not be too "narrow" in scope

There is political wisdom in not attempting to throw the kitchen sink at Trump. Impeachment should focus on Trump's misdeeds while in office. Hush money payments made prior to his election should not be a focus. "Collusion" with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign should not be a focus. Long term financial ties with Russia that may lie hidden in Trump's tax returns should not be a focus. There may be ways those can be referenced to provide context during hearings, but they should not constitute separate counts

In that sense the impeachment investigation should be narrowly focused, on actions that have happened since Trump took his oath of office. But it is unwise to narrow the impeachment inquiry down to a single "High crime or Misdemeanor." Trump needs to be removed for far more than just his role in the "Ukraine Conspiracy", grave as that may be. But, more to the point, he needs to be accused by the House of more than that alone.

By all means let the Ukraine charge take the lead. It is distinct and straight forward to prosecute. Unlike the wide scale undermining of the United States Constitution, it involves violating America's national security in an easy to grasp and tangible way. Trump's conduct toward the Ukraine may well be the easiest article of impeachment to convict him of, but it should not be the only one prosecuted. It needs to be pressed within a broader context that additional charges would provide.

Ultimately only a single article of an impeachment indictment against the President needs to pass the House in order for impeachment to move forward, but that does not argue in favor of presenting a single charge only. Some Democrats worry about muddying the waters with too wide a scope of inquiry. I worry about the opposite. A pattern of wide scale Presidential misconduct in office must be presented, otherwise Trump and his allies can focus their disinformation campaign on the particulars of one confined set of facts.

As has been shown before, truth is no deterrent to a Trumpian line of defense, which never revolves around the winning of any argument. Instead their goal has always been to confuse the public with alternate versions of reality that literally turn facts on their head. That is how and why the waters get muddied, to Trump's advantage, and Democrats must not fall into it. The "guilt or innocence" of Donald Trump can not rest on the facts of any single act alone, no matter how consequential it may be. When presented with a discreet accusation, Trump is a master at expanding the "shadow of a doubt" into a dust storm induced blackout, blinding the public of the ability to discern fake from real news with any degree of certainty.

Trump's actual impeachment likely will ultimately rest on Congressional findings regarding the Ukraine, but that by itself could mean winning the battle while losing the war if, in the process, Democrats do not forcefully inject into the record substantial evidence establishing that Presidential misdeeds relative to the Ukraine are consistent with the entire tenor of Trump's Administration and his time in office. That is why additional counts in the final articles of impeachment presented against Donald Trump become critical. It is not just Trump's actions in any instance that must be prosecuted, it is the fundamental integrity of the man who occupies the Oval Office that must be frontally assaulted relative to all of his actions and every misinformation campaign subsequently he launches in his defense.

One count of impeachment does not sufficiently present a pervasive pattern of Trump's core unfitness to hold office. It should and must be buttressed by other charges, based on his actions while in office centered on the Obstruction of Justice and his self serving Corruption at the expense of the American people.

Whoa. The extortion is at best thinly veiled, even in the non transcript transcrpt Trump released

Look at the direct juxtaposition of these two topics in that phone call:

Zelenskyy: "...I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. . We. are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United· States for defense purposes."

The President: "I would like you to do us a favor though
because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has.it. There are a lot. of things that went on, the :whole situation .. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance-, but they. say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible."

And of course Trump was holding up military aid at the time of this call which Trump initiated.

In essence this reads "So you say you are ready for our suspended military aid, well we have a favor we need to ask of you."

So Trump molds the media agenda and we Democrats don't like that

Some argue that we should ignore his outrage of the day and stay on message about helping the American people on issues that matter to them. First off, there is that old saying about walking and chewing gum at the same time, but I agree that Democrats (and decent Americans of any ideology) can't afford to stay stuck on response/rebuttal mode constantly. I suggest a simple way forward.

We can not avoid fighting the battles that Donald Trump chooses to launch. When he initiates such conflict we are forced onto the defensive, either that or we cede that terrain to him. Battles are fought in the context of a War. Democrats did not choose to stage this current War dividing Americans, but it is ongoing just the same. If we can't avoid it, than we should win it. War is a waste of human resources but surrender to an aggressor comes at an even higher price

I propose that Democrats not focus on each new daily battle that Donald Trump initiates and instead take the offensive in winning the over arching war. We need to stay on offense in this war, we have to frame its contours. We are at war for the soul of America, we are fighting to uphold sacred American values that have embodied our highest aspirations as a people since the Declaration of Independence and the founding of our Republic. Our national motto is E Pluribus Unum. Real Americans do not cater to bullies. Real Americans have no respect for serial liars. Real Americans detest braggarts. Real Americans hate hypocrisy. Real Americans don't want our government run by special interests,nor used to advance private fortunes rather than the public good.

I would rather that the national political debate stayed focused on the very issues that effect the well being of all Americans, policies and priorities and the like. Right now, however, Donald Trump and his increasingly corrupt and compromised administration (along with his silent Republican enablers) IS the issue that effects the ultimate well being or all Americans AND our constitutional form of government.

Trump has consciously injected his toxic brew of hatred into the American debate. He started this war among Americans. Democrats now need to win it by picking our own battles, by launching our own attacks against him on battlegrounds of our own choosing. Trump's toxicity can not be allowed to erode the very fabric of our society, neither can we allow him to frame how that toxicity is employed. Trump's overall toxicity led us into this war, it can't be fought by avoiding it. It must be fought by making it's very existence totally unacceptable to a clear majority of the American People. We need to take the initiative launching attacks. We need to employ our own battlefield tactics. We are at war with Trump for America. We need to frame its contours and define the rot that is actually infesting America. It can serve no good to pretend otherwise.

I believe Trump has started to, and will continue to, overplay the racism card

Had he the discipline to stick to very thinly veiled dog whistles, Trump's "stoke white fear/ divide and conquer" strategy had a fair chance of actually working. His free wheeling, anger laced, anti-politically correct style captivated millions of voters. There is a constituency for what Trump is attempting to coalesce his base around, but he is misreading that base at the edges, which I think will doom him because he can not afford to lose even a small fraction of the base Trump is counting on to win. The fraction which he now risks driving away are whites who harbor strong prejudices but whose self identity demands that they cling to a shred of plausible deniability that they are not, in actuality, full blown racists.

Trump is now tearing that veil of deniability away from them by becoming ever more blatantly full bore racist by the day, if not the hour. That is too harsh a negative light for some, who would otherwise likely support him despite so called "reservations", to stand by Trump in. I am not talking about a large percentage of potential Trump voters, but I think it is a decisive percentage none the less. By making it increasingly uncomfortable for that segment of prejudiced whites, who still insist on denying that they are racists, to continue to fully embrace Trump, Trump is driving away votes that he would need in order to win in 2020.

As his malignant megalomania expands, his ability to attempt nuanced strategic ploys disintegrates. By November 2020 I believe Trump will be fully toxic to at least 55% of voters

Donald Trump slow walked negotiations regarding sitting down with Mueller's Team. The result...

He ran out the clock on Mueller over the course of almost a year of protracted "negotiations" and no sit down interview was ever conducted. Instead a limited set of written replies to censored questions was submitted with no follow up to those answers possible. It clearly hampered Mueller's investigation and we will never know how things might be different if either 1) Trump testified in person under oath OR 2) A subpoena to force Trump to testify had been issued in a timely enough manner to allow Mueller's investigation to remain ongoing until the Courts had exhausted Trump's attempt to avoid that subpoena, thus forcing his live testimony with follow up questions.

Now the same has happened in regards to Mueller's Report itself and the ability of Democrats to follow through forcefully in a timely manner. Congress is recessing for its summer break, much of the public is in summer vacation mode itself. It is hard to make old news fresh again even with expert compelling testimony at a hearing months removed from when the report was issued. Republicans have slow walked every step of compliance with Congressional constitutionally mandated oversight. How many subpoenas for witness testimony has the House issued that Trump's Administration is fighting? I've lost count. And of course those subpoenas were only issued after extended time consuming negotiations came up empty handed.

Timing may not be everything, but it sure as hell is a lot of it. Trump won a critical victory by foot dragging around his direct testimony. That delay may literally have changed the course of history. Once it became readily apparent that Democrats were loath to begin impeachment hearings without first laying the groundwork to build public support for that move with public oversight hearings,Trump knew how to respond. Those hearings remain hamstrung because key witnesses refuse to appear. When and if they ever do public attention will by then be muted by the passage of time and countless other intervening events.

A Democratic failure to initiate an Impeachment inquiry until Administration witnesses cooperate leaves Trump in control of the clock. That sure worked out well for him the last time.

What Epstein, the Great Recession, and the Opiod Crisis have in common

Wealth Privilege: The ability to leverage a nexus of connections facilitated by vast quantities of money, AND close proximity to the high and mighty, to reduce the chances to a bare minimum of ever personally being held accountable, let alone doing significant prison time, for actions that advanced selfish interests through means that predictably would and did destroy the lives of hundreds, thousands, and sometimes even millions of lives.

Wealth Privilege is almost always bestowed on white men in America, but it is only available to the wealthy. Being white or male alone is not enough. A token female or person of color wealthy person sometimes benefits from Wealth Privilege, but the poor never do. the working Class never do. Neither does the middle class.

It is impossible to commit the heinous barely veiled crimes that Jeffrey Epstein subjected hundreds to for decades without having Wealth Privilege. It is impossible to to giddily play roulette with the world economy, pocketing all the winnings with the regulators disarmed, without having Wealth Privilege. It is impossible to flood the nation with highly addictive prescription drugs for years while hundreds of thousands died, without having Wealth Privilege. In all of these cases some besides the direct perpetrators saw what was actually going on. But they were ridiculed, threatened, fired, fastidiously ignored, overruled, or simply bought off.

It goes far deeper than the term white collar crime implies. Wealth Privilege allows a few to custom order the laws they need to allow them to operate unimpeded. And when their greed and gluttony violates even those lax standards, they can hire an army of the most highly trained and connected lawyers in America to bargain down their pleas (if having political figures in their pocket was not good enough protection), paying large fines if need be rather than spending decades locked up in jail. Fines that they pay with a portion of the money that they looted to begin with, in those cases where their crimes were financial to begin with.

The Republican Party, for the last century in America, has always catered to the high and mighty.They have remained at their beck and call. But Republicans never have and never will occupy all of the political seats of power in this nation. So those with Wealth Privilege seek Democrats to influence also, sometimes in ways that are corrupt, sometimes in ways that seem far more innocent. As long as Democrats routinely travel in circles (or even just in private planes) of those who possess Wealth Privilege, however innocently they do so, a large swath of the voting public will see evidence that politicians are for the most part all alike, with few if an of them truly having their backs.

The New Deal, and later the Great Society, bestowed on the Democratic Party a legacy of fighting for the "common man". Far far more than with Republicans, that remains the truth But the perception of that once bold legacy has faded with the intervening decades.We are seldom thought of today as the party of Labor. Whether or not the time is now right to nominate a presidential candidate from the wing of our Party most associated with Elizabeth Warren and/or Bernie Sanders; whether or not they are pitching the right prescriptions for the challenges now facing us, there are valid political reasons for why an economic message that steps outside the bounds of celebrating "the free market" and all the wealth accumulating at the top of it, has been resonating increasingly in recent years.

I'll be blunt. Democrats help "normalize" Trump if we wait for an election to hold him accountable

To be clear, it is not yet certain that Democrats won't move to impeach Trump in the House rather than leave it for voters to decide whether he's committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" sufficient to remove him from office. But some prominent Democratic voices have argued that "impeachment " would be a divisive course of action that could complicate Democratic Party chances prior to the 2020 elections. And the clock keeps ticking.

Not formally moving toward impeachment of Trump shuts down the prescribed constitutional remedy for extraordinary Presidential misconduct, and punts Trump's behavior to the realm of politics as usual; opposing views on issues litigated via an election: Those who support Trump vote for him, those who don't vote against him. Which is what American voters do under normal circumstances every four years. We choose between (almost invariably) two individuals who are presumed to be at least arguably qualified to become or remain President.

But someone found to have committed significant unlawful acts is not qualified to be President. Someone who advances unconstitutional means of pursuing an agenda is not qualified to be President. There are distinct legal and constitutional checks on either of those behaviors It is normal for voters to litigate via elections which set of policy objectives they prefer, and/or who they more trust with the Presidency. But for our democracy and system of law to prevail in the future as it has so far since our nation's founding, elections should not be expected to decide whether lawful or illegal actions are preferred, or whether constitutional or unconstitutional means should be pursued by a President.

If a President of the United States commits crimes they must be investigated and documented and judged to the extent that our legal system allows. It should not be seen as subject to a public referendum. It is law. The average voter can't be expected to have either the time nor access to specialized expertise to serve as a jury in the context of a partisan election campaign where no rules of evidence prevail. Not after those who had all the needed tools chose not to use them. If a President of the United States fails to uphold our Constitution, our Constitution provides a specific remedy for that behavior; the impeachment process. It was not left to the electorate to decide when the Constitution has been violated, and if so whether or not that's OK so long as they support the President who did so. Congress has a prescribed role that it is expected to play when high crimes and misdemeanors have credibly been accused of a President. Not to play that role infers that the grounds do not exist to trigger that obligation.

We are dealing with Donald Trump now yes, but we are also establishing new constitutional norms and precedents if we just leave it to voters to either condone or condemn the undermining of our system of law and our American Constitution. Demagogues flourish in that type of environment, when the most flagrant abuses of power are passed off for voters alone to face or ignore in the heat of a partisan electoral campaign. That leaves treason subject to a popular vote and normalizes whatever behavior is necessary to secure victory at the ballot box.

I believe that Trump wants ICE agents to be attacked amd hurt during Sunday raids

He is broadcasting in advance exactly where and when and who will be raided. That violates all law enforcement procedures. It puts all agents involved in those raids at much greater physical risk of harm with absolutely NO benefit of surprise working in their favor. Some of those who have now been warned that they might be raided might well use that warning to help evade capture, but the chance that a handful might instead fight back also increases.

Trump gives me absolutely no reason to believe that the latter isn't his actual goal. He would gladly sacrifice some ICE agent as a martyr for his anti-immigrant crusade, and he would knowingly set up a scenario where that becomes a more likely scenario. Because he would serve his political ends. I would not be shocked if he's already had some aid prepare a generic eulogy that he can personally deliver were an ICE agent to die this weekend.

The Fourth of July is the quintessential Anti-Trump Holiday

It is "We the People", not "Me the President". It's about Power to the People, not Pomp and Pageantry. It celebrates a Revolution against the concentration of power in the hands of a ruling family.

We celebrate Independence Day because it repudiates the type of oligarchy that Donald Trump seeks to reign over. I condemn everything about Trump's "Salute to America" infomercial for himself, and for that reason I still emphatically celebrate the Fourth of July.
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