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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 19,235

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Trump is so scared of Mueller that he's willing to split his base attacking Sessions

That says all you need to know about what Trump is desperately trying to hide.

His survival strategy has always been two fold:A) keep his base loyal and fired up to prevent Republicans in Congress from turning on him, and B) steadfastly impeding any and all investigations into his activities - even if that entailed turning Nunes into a blatant tool, firing Preet Bharara, or ousting Director Comey.

Now in order for Trump to pursue B) He is willing to jeopardize A). The core of Trumps base has loved Jeff Sessions a lot longer than they have loved Donald Trump. Important voices on the Alt Right and media hacks like Limbaugh and Hannity are now defending Sessions. And Sessions has some pretty deep support among Republicans in the Senate and it is the Senate that ultimately can remove Trump from office.

That Trump is moving against Sessions now shows how desperate he is over the investigation

So here is "the good news"

Lisa Murkowski stuck with Collins. That eliminates any margin of error for the Republicans on repeal. Refusing to even allow debate makes them rather firm No's. Other Republicans on both the far right and in the center right can now use their generic "Yes" votes as political cover. By keeping debate alive they can each now vote for their favorite version of repeal/replace during the amendment phase - and potentially vote against all others. Then they can go home saying that they supported something

But if they lose just one more senator on Version A, and a different one on Version B, and so forth, no version will get 50 votes. It is still hard to see what version can win the support of every single Senator who voted to allow debate to precede just now, given their own differences and the differing prevailing politics back in their home states. This could still be only political gamesmanship, posing for differing constitutes back home, rather than actually legislating.

The Republican problem with the American Medical Association (the AMA)

and the Hospital and Nurses Associations, and AARP, and many of the leading insurers, is that they actually know something about what they are talking about when they oppose Republican plans to repeal and "replace" the Affordable Care Act. That makes their view points rather like those of climate scientists world wide: Informed.

No wonder then that Republicans refuse to listen to and believe them.

Fighting for Democracy in the Democratic Party: An ACTIVE (New York State) Case Study

Some of you may have seen me mention here in the past that I am active in the Democratic Party machinery (Town Democratic Committee) at the local level in Ulster County NY. The Democratic Party runs internal elections, starting at the grass roots level, to chose who represents Democratic Party members at every level of decision making - from Town and County committees, to State Democratic Committees on up to the Democratic National Committee.

Last year Democrats in our County elected delegates to the NY State Democratic Committee. One of those chosen was a woman who was not initially put forth as a candidate by our County Democratic Party, rather she won her seat through a designated party primary, having previously worked as a grass roots organizer during the Democratic Party Presidential Primary held earlier last year. Since being elected to that position Kelleigh McKenzie has worked closely across the board with our County Democratic Party, and she has the support of the Ulster Party Democratic Party in pressing for a series of important reforms within the NY State Democratic Party.

Clearly her efforts have relevance for DU members who are Democrats in NY State, but I think it is highly relevant to Democrats elsewhere also as it speaks to a problem not unique to New York. That is why I am posting this in the General Discussion forum (I will cross post this in the NY Forum as well). The NY State Democratic Committee is meeting on July 25, and Kelleigh has introduced five rule changes on the agenda for that meeting.She is now gathering petition signatures from registered Democrats in NY State in support of these changes. I will place a link to that petition below. What literally shocked me however is the blatantly undemocratic status quo that these amendments are proposed to alter. This is how Kelleigh puts it:

"What I've learned since getting elected to the State Committee (the official organization of the party statewide) is that its members actually have very little say in party affairs and decision-making. Meetings are announced last-minute and members are typically offered "up or down" votes on items pre-decided by the Officers and Executive Committee—the majority of whom were not elected to the State Committee. I believe that the State Committee can and should be a vital mechanism for listening to and integrating the voices of the Democratic Party base into leadership at the state level. Organizing from the bottom-up is what has traditionally given the party its strength."

Here are the rule changes that Kelleigh is proposing for New York State. The bolding is mine:

Make it easier for State Committee members to participate in meetings

Members typically don’t hear about meetings until 10 days before they happen, making it difficult to plan affordable travel and get time off work. Plus, members can only add items to the agenda if submitted 15 days before the meeting—tough to do if the meeting isn’t even announced until 10 days prior. With this rule change, members would learn the location and date of the meeting 25 days in advance and receive an itemized agenda for review 10 days prior, so they can engage in discussion and cast thoughtful votes.

Guarantee that more State Committee members have a role in decision-making

Even though State Committee members are democratically elected to represent the voices of registered Democrats in state party decision-making, the current rules do not require any Executive Committee members to be drawn from the State Committee. The Executive Committee handles State Committee business between meetings and develops recommendations to the full Committee, so the people who were actually elected to do this work should be guaranteed spots. With this rule change, 24 Executive Committee seats would be designated for State Committee members.

Provide balance between the number of State Committee members and non-members on the Executive Committee by limiting the number of Vice Chairs

The current rules allow for an unlimited number of Vice Chairs, none of whom must be State Committee members. Right now there are 29 Vice Chairs who make up 38% of the vote at Executive Committee meetings. This rule change would limit the number of Vice Chairs to five, ensuring a balance on the Executive Committee between elected State Committee members and non-members.

Give Executive Committee members a say in deciding who will serve as the party’s Executive Director

Right now, a single person (the State Chair) appoints the Executive Director of the party without any formal review or approval by State or Executive Committee members. With this rule change, the State Chair still gets to appoint the Executive Director, but a majority vote of the Executive Committee is required to approve the appointment.

Restore missing language about the State Committee that was left out of the rules in error

The rules adopted at the September 19, 2016 organizational meeting were inadvertently missing some pretty important language—sections about the purpose of the State Committee, how it is organized, and how its members are elected. Without these crucial parts, the rest of the rules make no sense. This rule change adds back in the missing parts: Article II, Section 1, subsections (a), (b), and (c)i, ii, and iii as shown in the 2009 state party rules, which describe State Committee powers, units of representation, and election of members.

Without constant attention from grass roots members the leadership of any organization, the Democratic Party included tends to become distant and unresponsive to the priorities of it's membership. But if there is one organization where it is crucial that such a tendency be strongly countered, it is our very own Democratic Party. I urge New York Democrats to sign the petition linked to below, and for Democrats everywhere to stay involved in all ongoing efforts to keep our Democratic Party truly democratic!


Putin has publicly yanked Trump's chain three times so far this year

Putin has a telling way of reminding Trump of exactly how long a leash he's on, and what might happen if he attempts to stray.

The first time was that meeting in the Oval office when per Putin's request Trump mugged it up and glad handed not only the Russian Secretary of State, but also Moscow's Ambassador the the United States - "spy handler" Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak was already politically radioactive at that point - and his name wasn't on the official "guest list" of those who would be attending the Presidential meeting. But as a special favor to the Russians only (the U.S. press pool was barred) an official Russian photographer was allowed to take photos inside the Oval Office. In a move that it is reported made the White House "furious", the Russians then published the photos despite reported assurances that they would not. That's how we all found out that Kislyak attended in the first place, and no one has ever seen Trump smile as broadly as he did for that photo with the Ambassador. That move was about as subtle as a horse head on the pillow.

The second time was after the G20 meeting where Trump holed up with Putin for over two hours on the sidelines. Great care was taken by the Trump team to prevent leaks of what was actually discussed and to control the messaging that came out of the meeting. Unlike the other leaders Trump did not hold a live press briefing after the summit so that he could not be questioned in real time. Instead he had Tillerson make a carefully scripted statement about how Trump strongly challenged Russian interference in our elections, and persisted in that for a length of time before they moved on to other topics without reaching any agreement. And then Putin made his own public statement whereby he pulled the rug out from under Tillerson, Trump, according to Putin, listened to Putin's denial of any Russian interference in the 2016 election, and fully accepted Putin at his word. Trump, of course, was unable to square that circle since he couldn't say that Putin lied. Like incident number one, Putin rubbed Trump's face in it.

The third time just happened and it hasn't gotten as much attention as the others so far, but it has dire implications for Trump. It involves the Russian lawyer who met with Junior and the top tier of Trump's campaign last June to discuss "damning"Russian information on Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. alleged that the Russians, through an intermediary, sought out that meeting with the Trump team which Don Jr., out of politeness and nativity one is asked to believe, didn't immediately inform the FBI about. But no, that's not what happened says
Natalia Veselnitskaya. According to her the Trump campaign solicited her to hold that meeting. Even if that is true there was no one forcing Veselnitskaya to freely offer that information to the U.S. press, which punched another hole in Trump Jr's flimsy coverup. Except this one has significant legal implications. It the Trump team asked for the meeting, rather than the other way around, it becomes much easier to prove that they were soliciting something of value from foreign nationals to use for political purposes in a U.S. election campaign - in clear violation of U.S. law.

Why? Why do the Russians keep intentionally making it harder for Donald Trump to put the Russia scandal behind him, by freely and continually offering up details that both embarrass him AND undermine the credibility of his claims that he isn't beholden to Russia? I think the answer is obvious. They are carefully timed and well placed warning shots that say; "Don't cross us, we still expect you to honor our deal regardless of the difficulties that may now entail for you. We kept our end, you keep yours, or we will not hesitate to bring you down - swiftly and unfailingly. You know full well that we have the means to."

Did Hillary Clinton lose because she was forced too far to the Left?

Was she pushed to adopt positions too extreme for the American electorate? If so, which planks turned off the American electorate and hurt her in the Fall? At the time of the Convention there was broad agreement that the platform that Democrats adopted was an excellent one. By all accounts, Hillary ran on the most progressive platform the Democratic Party has had for decades. Her delegates ran the platform committee that adopted that platform. She proudly ran on that openly progressive platform. So is that why Trump is now President, and why Hillary only won the popular vote by three million?

Mostly I've seen it argued that Hillary lost because of racism, Russia, voter suppression, and Comey - but should the left be blamed instead? That would be the logical extension of the premise being promoted on several OPs on DU over the last few days blaming the left for most of the electoral shortcomings of the Democratic Party in recent years. So the question is, one that holds important implications for the future of the Democratic party, should Hillary have hugged the center stronger in 2016, or even shifted right, closer to the platforms that her husband once ran for President on? Would that have helped or hurt her with the outcome?

Last summer, though the Sanders delegation would have preferred a few more leftist platform tweeks, Hillary didn't give them everything they wanted. Still Hillary showed flexibility where that was consistent with her vision, and Sanders then united with the Clinton people in praising the platform that emerged. So was that attempt at unity ultimately Hillary's downfall? Was Hillary pushed to far to the left in the rust belt, for example, where Trump squeaked out his Electoral Party victory? Is that why so many previous Obama voters there turned to Trump instead? Were they turned off by Clinton's overly radical economic message, consistent with our platform: a $15 a hour minimum wage, free public college for middle class students, a stronger economic safety net. Did those turn out to be unpopular views that repelled voters who Democrats count on?

Or is it the tiny leftist holdout minority who gathered behind Stein to be blamed for Trump becoming President? If so, would anyone argue that Hillary have won more of their votes by running on a more moderate platform instead? Jill Stein won 1,457,216 votes in 2016, or 1.07% of the total vote. Meanwhile the Libertarian ticket, composed of two ex Republican Governors, won 4,489,221 votes, or 3.28% of the total. Millions of votes go to third parties in every American presidential election. You might remember that Jill Stein has run for President before. In 2012 she got 469,628 votes, so she got about a extra million this time around. By comparison it has been estimated via several studies that Hillary Clinton picked up about two million 2012 Romney voters, and lost about 8 million Obama voters, a net negative shift of about 6 million voters, that's a number six times larger than Stein's increase.

Meanwhile thee are studies that indicate that in Wisconsin alone the Republican enacted "Voter ID Law" suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump won there by 22,748 votes). The vast majority of those vote can be assumed would have been Democratic. THAT, I believe, is the smoking gun nation wide: targeted voter suppression.

I see no evidence that "leftist pressure" on our presidential nominee pushed her into taking political positions that were in any way detrimental to her chances for victory in 2016. I would argue the opposite. I see plenty of other factors to explain how Donald Trump ended up in the White House - but the behavior of the Democratic Left is not one of them.

Nothing quite celebrates the Fourth of July weekend like our President attacking the Free Press

I remember seeing it asked before, exactly when does Trump think America was Great before? Was it during the 1970's, the 1950's? Or earlier perhaps, like the 1920s, or back further still, before women could vote or even in decades prior, when slavery was still legal?

I'm thinking we all missed the mark. I'm thinking more around 1765, after the French and Indian wars. What great colonies the Americas were then, under the British Crown, when strongmen could be a strongmen, and rule proudly over it all.

Most of America's Super Rich Think THEY Make America Great

In their universe it's the size of a nations castles, not the size of it's slums that matters. It's the prestige of the ruling elite, not the character and industriousness of the people, by which they measure greatness. It has always been that way. Nothing has changed about the super wealthy - from the close of Europe's dark ages to the dawn of America's current one. They used to call themselves Nobility. Now they call themselves “Job Creators”, even if every dime that got them where they are today was originally inherited. Their ideology, once derived from “Divine Rule”, is now simply “Just Rewards” - a circular logic that says massive wealth is de facto evidence of superior personal attributes, which hence make the possessor worthy of his or her massive wealth.

Their attitude fundamentally still remains “Let them eat cake” toward everyone else. Only the window dressing has changed, the theatrics needed to harvest sufficient votes to keep their status secure. War is Peace, Hate is Love, all hail the Job Creators. Yes there are exceptions to the rule; fabulously wealthy decent and generous individuals who do not fit that template. In fact they too serve the rule, by muddying the picture to present a fig leaf of plausible deniability. Like the blanks that fill the chamber of one rifle in the firing squad – you can't say they all are killers, but the execution is assured.

And the most soft hearted of the lot, well they can busy themselves as patrons of the arts, reaping great honor as museum and galleries are named after them, as if only through their magnanimous gifts can a people truly have culture. The poor will always be with us they all say, while they shave benefits from America's bare bones medicaid safety net to cut billions from their taxes. They must have the example of our great wealth, they argue, to be inspired to want more from life.

And all of their self serving policies rest on sound economic principles, carefully designed by reverse engineering to prove the facts that they need established. Produced on demand by hired hands, men and women just like those employed by the tobacco industry in the sixties to de-link smoking from cancer. Kings never had trouble finding tax collectors to shake down peasants either. There is always money to be made by collaborating with the ruling class. Nothing has changed in the ruling class world view, it never does, it is only a matter of what we allow them to get away with.

Remember slavery? Remember seven day work weeks? Remember child labor? Remember company stores? Remember mass foreclosures? Remember migrant worker camps? Remember overseas sweat shops churning out products bearing the coolest logos? Remember pharmaceutical companies hiking price tags on life saving drugs by a thousand percent or more?

It is all the same mind set, take what you can get from the many because you deserve to have more. After all America can't afford “entitlements” for the poor and middle classes that ensure their basic survival. The only responsible choice is to “deincentivize” poverty by shrinking the safety net that lulls the masses into a false illusion of security. If we try to reduce poverty, or even attempt to make it survivable, there won't be the money needed to fuel the growth of personal fiefdoms, and empires owned by the elite. They are the people striving to make America great again, like it was in the days of the robber barons.

Medicaid is hanging by a thread, and this is the week that will decide if that thread breaks

No matter what news breaks regarding FBI investigations, no matter what the "Commander in Chief" tweets about North Korea, or how the pussy grabber degrades another woman, these things are all ongoing - but the future of poverty in America is being decided during this Congressional break

We can not allow the spotlight to be moved onto another deplorable object instead. Potential deals are being tendered during the time that it takes you to read these few sentences. Senate votes are being bought, or at least the price for those votes are under active negotiation.

The Republican donors have spoken - they want their tax breaks from Trumpcare now , and they want Medicaid slashed radically so that they can have even bigger tax breaks delivered during the next legislative go around. They have the personal cell phone numbers of all of the Republican Senators. We have their district phone numbers and addresses.

Our allies in the media scan this board to see what is foremost on our minds. That effects their reporting, and how they allot air minutes. So what is it then? The latest Trump tweet, or the looming threat of Trumpcare?

The die is in the process of being cast.

Racism in a white progressive - A part of my personal story

I'm white and I harbor racism. I have no doubt about that, even though I've actively combated racism for all of my adult life, for at least as far back as the days immediately following Martin Luther King Jr's assassination. I was 18 then, so I feel blessed to have actual memories, not just of Martin's death, but more importantly of his life – though I viewed his life contemporaneously through a narrow window of television news and newspapers to the extent that an only somewhat political teenager paid any attention to the world around him. Martin began to change me radically the moment I learned of his death.

As a white kid hitting draft age, who grew up in an almost exclusively white suburban school district, the Vietnam War was a more immediate presence in my reality than racism, which I deplored from an abstract distance. I knew that I hated racists, I didn't know the ways I was one. What taught me that lesson was nine months in my life that commenced on the week King died. It was a time that I lived almost void of any racism against Blacks in America. No doubt, even then, I remained more intrinsically racist against other minorities who I lacked the opportunity to as profoundly get to know.

It started simply and inconspicuously enough. Right after King was assassinated I attended a rally organized at my University by local black activist students – though none actually were students at my school. Mostly they were friends who knew each other from connections forged in some of the surrounding communities, the ones with black neighborhoods. Anne Brown, who spoke that day, was the daughter of the leader of the local N.A.A.C.P chapter. At that point Mr. Brown was a fairly elderly man but his house, I soon learned, was one in which youth of all ages always felt welcomed by both him and his wife. Anne and her friends felt moved to do something positive in the face of the devastating death of MLK Jr. They felt some hope in the then emerging youth counter-culture, and had a vision of youth working together across race lines to build a better more egalitarian future. A couple of days earlier they decided to form a group – Youth Unity for Peace Organization, and this rally was their first action.

Anne was not a fiery orator, though there was clear passion in her voice. What touched me immediately was her deeply held sincerity and the urgency of her appeal. I responded to Anne's public request and approached her after the rally, asking how I could help. It turned out I could be invaluable to them. I owned a car and they didn't. And that's how it started for me, my absorption into an activist black circle of friends. A few were seniors in high school, some were a year or two ahead of me in college, essentially we all were peers. I spent a lot of time with the core of that group, late at night, sitting talking in my car. We all did some good work together also; joined up with some other groups, acquired some seed private funding, started some great programs. I was the only white on the “steering committee”, and I helped talk my own University into the supporting our biggest project, which became The Afro-American Summer Experience. That's what was most meaningful in the outer world, but what was most meaningful to me was the time we spent together at parties, and sitting talking in my car.

Color disappeared among us, and since everyone else was black, that kind of meant I lost my complexion during those very intense (and loving) times. You see, the topics of our talks were frequently about race, but I was wasn't being talked to about it, I was simply with close friends while they grappled with the effects of racism on their personal lives, down to the effects that commercials aired on TV had on them, with actors and actresses who were almost always white, who never looked like them. Down to the use of hair straighteners, when and why and what exactly that meant. It got so that being in the middle of a group of blacks felt natural to me, but being surrounded by a group of just whites felt off, and oddly uncomfortable.

And while I was there with those friends, during those shared intimate moments, my inbred racism fell away. That time is the closest I've ever felt to not being prejudiced. And that is what it took to get me there, and still it was a temporary state. My closest friend in that group, Ray, was a brilliant and extraordinarily deep man with a piercing take on racism and great love interlaced with boiling anger. I was his first real white friend. I still remember turning him on to Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Janis Joplin, and how she absolutely blew him away – scrambling all his expectations when he heard her sing. We often talked for hours alone. One night in the Fall, after The Afro American Summer Experience was over for that year, I was over at Anne's house, and Ray was late coming over. He was attacked, but not by white racists or the police. He was called over to a car window by people who he knew, and something was exploded in his face. He was seriously hurt, but not grievously. It was a warning to him from some militant associates of his who I never knew about. They clearly thought he had strayed too far from something, the specifics of which I never learned but the sense of which I immediately knew.

I was 19, and far less experienced about life than I now am, for the obvious reason. We all didn't stop being friends, but for me the innocence was broken. I felt that I might have been responsible for Ray getting hurt. I felt that I could become responsible for Ray getting killed. I can't remember the details anymore, I wish I could. I wish I had been a little older and better equipped to deal with the mixed feelings I experienced. I might have done something differently. I might have somehow remained close friends with that circle of people, but instead, with love, we soon drifted apart. I was changed, but I was living once again in a predominantly white social universe. Much of what I experienced stuck with me for all my life, like the bones of a dinosaur that last for eons that mere time can not erase. But the soft tissue knowledge of my experience, that's different. That was ever changing, reinforced and nurtured daily, and once cut off from the living source it slowly began to fade.

So this is what that period taught me: That all of us can learn, all of us can grow, all of us can walk in another's shoes when the circumstances ideally suit it. But staying there is a different matter. Now I still find myself instinctively understanding Black Lives Matter when something like that emerges in our shared society. But once, during a brief earlier time, I would have known it in my bones, I would have anticipated it viscerally. I would have emotionally immediately understood that it doesn't matter if 9 out of 10 cops are essentially decent people, not if that tenth one remains free to wear the uniform. I would also have been boiling mad at how my friends, yes, my people, were routinely being denied the right to vote. How that is somehow allowed to be, and to continue. I would have lived with that reality daily, and it wouldn't have taken repeated hard hitting blogs and protests to get me to constantly think about it. I do care greatly about all these things and more, but caring is not the same as being there.

I know some “soft tissue” aspects of my racism grew back, because much of the separation I once lived exclusively in itself is back. I don't like it, and I fight it, but still I understand it. People have tribal realities. To some extent it can be countered, but rarely if at all completely eradicated; we are, in part, who we are surrounded by. We lose touch with those whom we do not regularly touch, and it takes constant effort to transcend that.

And I marvel at what Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished, living when he did in an America that was much whiter than it is today, populated by whites who systematically kept blacks out of sight and out of mind. Despite all of our society's systematic limitations, and human nature itself, his life and death profoundly changed me, incalculably for the better. And I still hold fast to much of that now.
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