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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 18,482

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I Support Bernie Sanders Remaining an Independent

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.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/15370/Party-Affiliation.aspx

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.”
http://www.gallup.com/poll/172439/party-identification-varies-widely-across-age-spectrum.aspx

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.

Conservative and/or Russian Trolls Don't Care

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.

This goes out to all those who in any way find Easter meaningful to them

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.



Trump blasts Obama for using Trump approach in Syria

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
http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/296631-trump-obama-should-stay-out-of-syria

"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.

Keep this in mind about anyone who may have "unmasked" Flynn

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.

It's Deadly Serous, but it's also a Charade

All in Congress save the most rabid know that Trump is guilty of something - though they may not know for certain how much he is guilty of. The most pressing question for them is what if anything to do about it, and if so when? Perhaps more immediate than that though is this; how long can they/should they maintain a front that the current operation of he U.S. government even remotely resembles business as usual? When can/will they admit that our nation is in a profound crisis? Essentially we are experiencing a cover up of a cover up of grave crimes having been committed (some of which may continue in real time.) Let's call it a meta cover up now in process, coducted by people who, for various reasons, are trying to buy more time before more of the truth comes out.

The initial "Russiagate" cover up is of course ongoing, organized from the White House and from other centers of Trump world in general. It involves both guilty people trying to avoid the consequences of their behavior and others who are so firmly joined by the hip to those culprits, that their own careers will go down in flames also if those who are guilty of the original sins are ever caught and punished. In other words, on one level, there's a standard garden variety cover up - not exactly uncharted territory. But there's another level, the one I call the meta cover up, and at least from a motivational perspective it actually is more complex. It involves people in government and politics, on both sides of the aisle, who know damn well that the Trump administration is unraveling and that the ending won't be pretty.

They have seen all of the “circumstantial” evidence for high crimes and misdemeanors (and there are of course tons of it.) They see the massive billowing clouds of smoke but still hold firm, for now, to the convenient fiction that there may be some other plausible explanation for all that smoke other than a fire, even while the fabric of their garments start to singe from the heat. Thy are not, the vast majority of them at least, dumb. They recognize the behavior of a guilty party when they see it, over time that always increasingly becomes obvious. And Trump fits the description precisely.

The truth of that is glaring. Were Trump not so hopelessly ensnared with Russia, election day 2016 would have represented a turning point. Were Trump simply a craven opportunist he would have pivoted once the presidency became his. No, I don't mean making a move toward the electoral center on a broad range of policies. I mean a move away from some of the bull headed, reckless incendiary words and behavior that only (perhaps) served him well as a campaigner. Some of Trump's antics helped convince just enough voters that he was the victim of an establishment conspiracy to destroy him, helping solidify his appeal as an outsider. The first goal of any politician is to get elected. The second is to achieve their objectives once in office.

Case in point. A war of words with the intelligence community of America during an election cycle conceivably could be spun as evidence that Trump was a true maverick, uncowed by establishment efforts to predetermine his footsteps once in office. If that is all that there was to it, then once in office it was time for Trump to make peace with the agencies in his new administration that are crucial to our nations national security. Continued warfare with them no longer suited mere political ends, rather it severely complicated them, making Trump some seemingly unneeded powerful enemies in the process. Why?

Only two explanations make any sense, and ultimately they boil down to one and the same. You could say that Trump's literal objective once in office was to intentionally pursue a foreign policy that runs contrary to the currently understood mission of our intelligence agencies, and their findings relevant to that. But that only begs the same question again, why? The only answer to that, which makes any sense at all, is that Trump is intentionally aligning his foreign policy with the national interests of Russia. And that is a true mind bender which points in one and one only direction; the President of the United States of America has been compromised through his past dealings with Putin and his power circles; which include Russian intelligence agents, Russian oligarchs, and Russian crime bosses. Once one accepts that simple truth it perfectly explains why Trump had no other option than to attempt to destroy, or at least severely hobble, the intelligence community before it could destroy him.

There are so many other actions that can't be explained other than through an assumption of a presidential cover up of guilt, the above is merely one of them. The continued refusal to release his taxes, the failure to immediately fire Flynn when the Justice Department reported that he was subject to Russian blackmail attempts, we've see the whole list before. And so have members of Congress. No other president has ever conducted scorched earth warfare against the free press during his so called honeymoon period, but Trump had no other choice. Investigative journalism has the power to reveal and discredit his fraudulent presidency, so any media that pursues it must be discredited first.

People in Congress by and large are well connected to the Washington web. They know exactly what, and who, is going down. The meta cover up is the reluctance to admit to that now. Democrats and Republicans can harbor different motives for participating in it. Some are genuinely fearful of wide spread instability and even social unrest, should a newly elected President too forcefully be attacked for criminal and Un-American behavior prematurely. The evidence must be irrefutable, the public must largely be brought on board, and prepared for the constitutional crisis that lies before us. Others are more politically craven. They know this drama will play out, minimally, over months, and in the meantime there are political objectives now within their reach, that will only recede from their grasp once the lid is fully blown off “Russiagate”. They too are playing for time, the time needed to consolidate short term but long reaching partisan political gains.

And so the charade continues a little longer, with one eye on Trump's approval ratings, and the other on the legislative calendar.

Of course pat-downs were government overreach when Obama headed the TSA

Republicans have been rather muted about new more intrusive TSA screenings underTrump. They used to be a lot louder.


From ThinkProgres:
"Following Outrage Over TSA Screenings, GOP Reps. Chaffetz And Hoekstra Lead Revived Calls For Profiling"
By Alex Seitz-Wald
Nov 22, 2010
https://thinkprogress.org/following-outrage-over-tsa-screenings-gop-reps-chaffetz-and-hoekstra-lead-revived-calls-for-6762f2a3e95c

"In recent days, the right has worked themselves into hysteria over the TSA’s new, more invasive screening protocols, with right-wing media magnate Matt Drudge breathlessly hyping the latest video of an intrusive pat down, and Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips demanding the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. While the TSA has promised to revise the methods to make them less intrusive, many conservatives have turned to one of their favorite solutions to the national security threat de jour: ethnic profiling..."


From American Thinker:
May 14, 2011
Outraged Texas Lawmakers Seeking to Stop TSA Abuses
By David Paulin
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/05/outraged_texas_lawmakers_seeki.html

Little girls, grandmothers, beauty queens – all are unlikely terrorists. Yet all have been victims in recent months of invasive Transportation Security Administration pat-downs at the nation's airports. The searches have sparked public outrage -- despite claims from the Obama administration that they're needed to stop would-be terrorists...

..."Indecent groping searches when innocent travelers are seeking access to airports and public buildings would be outlawed under this bill," the measure's author, Republican David Simpson, was quoted as saying.

"This has to do with dignity in travel," he said. The House must take a final vote on the bill and it must then be approved by the Senate.


From The Daily Herald:
Utah legislator seeks end to TSA pat downs
http://www.heraldextra.com/news/state-and-regional/utah-legislator-seeks-end-to-tsa-pat-downs/article_e3199dc7-4b38-5ac2-b681-2ab58732d9fe.html
Lynn DeBruin - The Associated Press Jun 5, 2011

,,,"There's only two places citizens are subjected to this type of intrusive search -- at airports and jails -- and that should be chilling," said Republican Utah state Rep. Carl Wimmer, who intends to introduce legislation in January that would ban pat downs without probable cause by Transportation Security Administration workers.

"I have not seen any empirical data that shows patting down children and seniors and anyone arbitrarily has made us safer. It's simply for show," Wimmer said."




They are trying hard to get cost of insurance premiums down & the numbers who are covered up

It involves a simple technique. Offer near worthless plans at discounted rates. Statistically that does the trick. Watch for predictions that the average cost of health insurance under Trumpcare will go down. And they will, after they factor into the averages the costs for millions of shoddy policies that will leave people largely unprotected.

And some people will actually buy them, either because they won't truly grasp how lousy they are, or simply because they are scared to death of not having at least some minimal form of catastrophic heath insurance that they can manage to scrape together enough money to pay for on their own. And those people will be counted as fully "covered by health insurance" in the same way that those who now are covered under the ACA are counted. And Republican hope that will make it seem like they didn't really kick 24 million people off of health insurance.

They are playing a numbers game. Liars making statistics lie for them.

The "health care" bill now is being covered as a chess move

How will it effect Trump's standing in Washington if his first major initiative that comes to a vote fails? Will he be able to work with the Freedom Caucus in the future? Which GOP Reps will come around to support the bill to prevent Trump's Administration from suffering a potentially devastating legislative loss right out of the box? What are the political implications blah blah blah...

I'm sorry. This isn't about Trump or Ryan's political fortunes. This isn't about advantage Democrats or advantage Republicans. Millions of lives are LITERALLY at risk here. Real people, real suffering, real death. Pundits need to get out of the fucking DC bubble and stay focused on what is actually at stake.

Hey GOP, want to stop intelligence leaks? Uphold your oath of office

Each and every member of Congress swears to uphold the Constitution and to defend our nation against all foes domestic and foreign. Nowhere in the Constitution are political parties mentioned. Defending the interests of your party is not defending the nation or our citizens. When serious crimes against our nation are committed, or at the very least when there is good reason to believe that they might have been, it is of our upmost national interest to determine the truth of that matter. Period.

Patriots come in all stripes of political leanings. It is not Republican, or Democratic, Liberal or Conservative, to believe that our Constitution must be protected. It is American. If Republican leaders, for reasons of partisan self interest, attempt to slow down, obstruct or derail an investigation about possible crimes that go to the very heart of our Democracy - patriots will emerge to challenge them in those efforts. If all prescribed legal avenues to do so are obstructed by a pervasive coverup, alternate means will be found. There will be leaks. If the crimes concerned are serious enough, the leaks will not stop until the truth sees the light of day.

Their are patriots who risk their lives for this country in the military on a daily basis. It is safe to assume that there are patriots who will risk their careers, and the possibility of jail time, rather than passively watch as the foundations of our democracy are eroded, by those pursuing craven political self interests. It doesn't take an army of patriots wiling to put themselves at risk for their nation to ensure that the truth prevails. A mere handful will suffice.
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