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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 18,205

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Remember when Republicans would say "There's no such thing as a free lunch"?

That's how they are trying to sell their1% enrichment tax cut plan however. They pretend they are giving away free money to the middle class, and that everyone magically gets money in their pockets without anything of value being sold to get it. Of course the big lie is that this plan has anything to do with the middle class, many of us will have our taxes raised as a result of this "reform" of tax codes. But even if it were true, even if millions of "average Americans" got an extra hundred dollars a month to spend as a result of them, there is nothing painless about these tax cuts.

This is no free lunch. Yes the cuts would add over 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit. Democrats are already all over that, and the increase in taxes that some will face - but it's not just that. It's not just the fact that those in power today are burdening America's young with a much bigger obligation to repay America's creditors with interest over the course of their full lifetimes. Actually it is far more basic, far more profound than even those outrages. It is about drowning a shrunken government in a bathtub after using it to redistribute wealth to those who already have almost all of it.

Even the rich need some government services. They need a military to keep their oversees investments safe for example. They need legislators they can legally bribe using election laws that they've paid for to be written.They even need tax collectors who collect higher percentages of income from those who labor for wages rather than from those who earn money off of money already accumulated to accomplish the afore mentioned redistribution. They need enough government paid for domestic security to prevent pitchfork mobs from advancing on them unimpended. They meed first responders to protect their properties from fires and from terrorists. They need their government subsidies, and their huge government contracts, and courts to fill their private prisons.

But the rest of us need government much more. We need government to survive. Most Republicans WANT to increase the deficit, although of course they don't admit it. They want every pretense possible to shrink the size of government. And after they've looted the Federal Treasury there's no excuse that they will be happier to give than to say we can't afford the spending. They already say it now, but they will soon be saying it louder. We can't afford to pay for Pell grants. We can't afford to pay for mass transit. We can't afford to pay for nursing homes. We can't afford to be so "generous" with what they like to call "entitlements". If schools in most of America rot that won't effect the private schools of the wealthy, who will pay the bills to educate their own young with just part of the tax giveaways they are now pushing through this Congress. If there is lead leeching from their own water pipes, they can write a check to pay for immediately replacing them. If their children develop special needs they can hire the staff needed to attend to them.

Even if some middle class family in Ohio gets an extra hundred dollars a month to hold onto - how far will that stretch when grandma needs a nursing home that today is paid for by Medicaid? When push comes to shove the government paid for economic safety net is the only meaningful insurance policy that most Americans can turn to when things significantly go wrong. How much is keeping that intact worth to most Americans, let alone Pell grants, decent schools, and roads that don't break axles? Is that worth a hundred dollars a month to a family of four? How much is blood money ever worth?

Challenge for DUers

Design a major National Ad Campaign on the theme of Global Warming, using both 30 and 60 second TV ads. What scenes, what graphs, what visuals in general would you use? What narration if any would you include? Any interviews, if so of who? What text scrolls, what music, if any? What voice overs,:celebrities, scientists, or average citizens?

This issue virtually disappeared during the 2016 election campaign. Not a single question was asked about it during the Presidential debates. Since then the U.S.has become the only member of the United Nations not backing the Paris Accord. Since then the world has again set new heat records. Since then we've had runaway forest fires, ice sheet collapses, record rainfalls, multiple massive hurricanes, and even a (downplayed) admission by an agency of the Trump administration that the vast bulk of climate change is almost certainly human caused.

Everyone knows that weather is changing, but it remains out of broad public discussion as a political issue. Meanwhile wind and solar energy prices continue to plummet but the Trump Administration wants to spend tax dollars to prop up the coal, oil, and nuclear industries while relaxing regulations that will lead to the release of more greenhouse gases.

There should be killer ads on the media driving home all of the above, but there aren't. The scripts should almost write themselves, but of course they can't. But we can. We have creative people in our midst. We have media professionals. If the money could be found to mount a massive ad campaign, what should it be? Because I think the money can be found if we all insist on an open public debate on this profoundly life altering issue. And I'm sure of one other thing - it will not play to Republicans advantage.

What's your ad, what's your unifying theme? What do you want to see being aired on every network?

An example of the type of unity we need

This jumped out at me in a column written by Charles P. Pierce (thanks to babylonsister for posing most of the column elsewhere on DU). The entire column, about the Virginia elections, is excellent. You can read it here: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a13450070/virginia-democratic-victories/

Here is the part that grabbed me, in the context of things that have gone on here at DU.

"If you’re looking for an unsung hero in Virginia, and if you’re looking for a role model who should embarrass all the squabbling Democrats who are still relitigating the dismal 2016 primary process, look to Tom Perriello, the former Democratic congressman who lost to Northam in the Democratic primary this year. Perriello suited up and worked tirelessly for the Democratic ticket up and down the ballot, including for the man who’d beaten him. Perriello’s performance not only piled him up serious cred within his party, it also should shame a lot of people in that party’s upper echelon."

Perriello got more than his share of abuse on DU when he was competing against Northam for the Democratic nomination. Aside from the more extreme statements made against him then, that is more or less par for the course among us Democratic activists during primaries. The nomination gets settled, we close ranks, we move on.

Pausing for a brief moment to reflect on how Perriello acted when it became time for him to move on from losing an intense primary fight is, I think, good for the political soul.

I thought maybe I could get most everyone here upset with me

I've laid the groundwork for that result carefully over the last year or so - maybe longer than that. I harbor strong partisan opinions but I just don't do polarization that well - which means I'm rarely a good loyalist for any side during conflicts. I too often stray off the reservation when it comes time to recite talking points

Case in point. I genuinely like both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I think both of them have devoted their lives sincerely in service to their nation. I think they both have good ideals. I think they both have sound political instincts - that are not always right in every instance. They appeal to similar constituencies but not identical constituencies. But then again, that is always true. No two politicians, even those with similar views, ever appeal to the exact same groups of people. Still, in the big picture, it is clear as glass (at least to me) whose overall interests among Americans each of them is internally sworn to protect.

I had strained relations with some Sanders supporters last year (who ended up becoming Bernie or Busters) because I held positive feelings toward Hillary Clinton. I had strained relations with many Clinton supporters because (among other things) I thought Sanders was correct to make an issue over how some leading Democrats raise money, and how cozy they appeared to be with Wall Street type interests.

I never thought Hillary was corrupted by money, not twenty years ago, not ten years ago, not now. It takes millions upon millions upon millions to play politics in the big leagues. She found a way to harness some of that. And short of having a massive energized active grass roots movement constantly at your back, it takes having a lot of well placed connections to get the gears in motion to grind out scraps of social progress.

Hillary took one road to becoming influential, Bernie took another. But if one thing in life remains constant, it's that times keep changing. So I'm just starting to take note of this thing called the Paradise Papers. Seems to be a massive behind the scenes leak of thousands of documents that reveal how many of the most well connected people in the world accumulate and move money around the globe, often (but not always) in pursuit of narrow self interests at the expense of most everyone else. And I'm looking at the current social and political climate here in America, and I'm thinking - this is going to be big.

So let me be clear about one thing to start with. My world would be infinitely brighter if Hillary Clinton were President today. I have no need for, and there's no point to, bashing Hillary Clinton over matters of wealth and its accumulation. When I do look at the world by dividing it into sides, I know she is a strong defender of mine.

But I still have to say, Bernie was on to something. I strongly suspect that the Paradise Papers will reveal in gory details how the world is rigged against most people. - and the toxic role that capital concentrated in a tiny percentage of hands plays in depriving most of us of even a modicum of economic security in this world. And those revelations are going to make waves. Big ones.

I predict that if the Democratic Party fails to find a way of weaning itself from the teets of well heeled donors for political sustenance - it will continue to be viewed with suspicion, if not actual hostility, by an increasing plurality of Americans. And that will be very bad for all of us, not just for democrats

I know by now that Americans are suffering from irony fatique. But still Kelly raises the bar again

And I don't mean his comments about the Civil War. To this day I, and probably the General also, don't understand why the obvious compromise wasn't made to avoid our Civil War. Slave holders insisted that the U.S. Constitution consider Blacks 3/5ths human. Abolitionists insisted that Blacks were 100% human.. Well Duh.. it doesn't tale a rocket scientist to figure out that the ready made compromise between 5/5ths and 3/5ths is 4/5ths. But I digress...

On another thread I was reading about a story in Vanity Fair, and stumbled upon this quote:

"Last night, Kelly declared on Fox News that an investigation was needed to probe funding from Clinton’s campaign and the DNC for the research behind the Trump/Russia dossier, and Clinton’s involvement in the Uranium One deal, adding that he thought Mueller’s investigation should “wrap up soon."

Investigations into everything Hillary have been been conducted by Republicans, on and off, since 1992. Remember Whitewater?

"Neither Bill Clinton nor Hillary were ever prosecuted, after three separate inquiries found insufficient evidence linking them with the criminal conduct of others related to the land deal. The matter was handled by the Whitewater Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr."

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, as in occupant of the special office that once existed but which now has been updated to become the Office of Special Counsel.

More from Wiki: "In August 1994, Kenneth Starr[30] was appointed by a three-judge panel to continue the Whitewater investigation, replacing Robert B. Fiske, who had been specially appointed by the attorney general, prior to the re-enactment of the Independent Counsel law. Fiske was replaced because he had been chosen and appointed by Janet Reno, Clinton's attorney general, creating a conflict of interest...

...In February 1997, Starr announced he would leave the investigation to pursue a position at the Pepperdine University School of Law. However, he "flip flopped" in the face of "intense criticism", and new evidence of sexual misconduct.[30]

By April 1998, diverted to some degree by the burgeoning Lewinsky scandal, Starr's investigations in Arkansas were winding down, with his Little Rock grand jury about to expire"

We all know what happened next. As a result of a three year probe of a financial transaction which lost the Clinton's "between $37,000 and $69,000 on their Whitewater investment" Bill Clinton got impeached for a sexual indiscretion.

Then of course there was that matter regarding Benghazi, where Hillary Clinton's role was subject to multiple Congressional inquiries over the course of several years, which then spun off into a full FBI Investigation into her emails etc. Aside from lying about a blow job, no criminal charge has yet to be brought against either Bill or Hillary Clinton, for anything.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been on the job now for less than six months. He has already produced criminal indictments against two individuals and obtained a guilty plea from another.

I leave you again with this, from the General who manages the White House for the current incumbent.:

"Last night, Kelly declared on Fox News that an investigation was needed to probe funding from Clinton’s campaign and the DNC for the research behind the Trump/Russia dossier, and Clinton’s involvement in the Uranium One deal, adding that he thought Mueller’s investigation should “wrap up soon."

Irony, I hardly knew ya.

Mueller has the entire Repuiblican Party in Check right now - fearing Checkmate

None of them (at least those of them who aren't so far up Trump's rear end by now that they have no option left other than to keep digging) can afford to be dismissive of Mueller's probe anymore. Not after learning that he already kept one guilty plea secret for three months. They know that they do not know what Mueller already does know. Every statement they make now that might seem dismissive of the Special Counsel and this investigation could be thrown in their face withing hours after the next shoe drops. For all they know that shoe is already in transit toward the floor.

Republicans can't say that there's no real evidence of collusion, They can't say that Mueller needs to wrap this up. They can't say that there is no "there" there, because for all they know it is already laid out in stunning detail in another sealed indictment or an already negotiated plea bargains. Republicans don't know who is frantically on the phone to Mueller's team this very second, begging to flip for the prosecution. They don't know what incriminating evidence has already been caught on wire. They are operating in the blind, fearing the very worse.

If they go out on a limb for Trump now they know that Mueller may already have the chain saw fired up that Democrats will use cut them off in next Fall's elections. Every time a Republican speaks to the press now they know. in the immortal words of the Miranda ruling, that any words they say can be used against them.

Guilty Plea Equals No "Witch Hunt". By Definition

Trump's favorite Twitter talking point has just been effectively demolished. Attempted collusion: Guilty as charged.

Now Trump is reduced to arguing that no major players in his circle are/were guilty of campaign/Russia crimes, that nothing came of now proven collusion attempts, and that he himself is totally innocent. The Rubicon has been crossed with this first admission of guilt, a line that an indictment alone would not have irrefutably crossed.

Trump can argue that Mueller's continuing probe is wasting taxpayer money, but he can no longer claim that there's absolutely no "there" there. Now it is only a matter of degree, and the crime's ultimate proximity to the current occupant of the Oval Office.

The entire Right wing counteroffensive over the last 5 days for dismissing both the probe and Mueller himself has just been popped and drained, all with one simple guilty plea.

Excuse me, wasn't Jeff Sessions also a "volunteer" advisor to Trump's campaign?

Wasn't Mike Flynn also a "volunteer" advisor to Trump's campaign? Were they just bit players too? People like Sessions, and Flynn and yes George Papadopoulos, don't get paid to advise presidential candidates - not with a salary anyway. They get paid with proximity to power, political connections, political I.O.U's and sometimes future paid positions - maybe in politics but sometimes in the private sector; after "a good word is put in for them".

The initial foot work for high stakes high level international negotiations is never conducted by the leading figures themselves. Lower level staff or intermediaries handle initial inquiries and the behind the scene preparatory logistics. That way the major principles don't get soiled if things don't play out the way they anticipated they would. That type of grunt work is left to those like George Papadopoulos. And that is exactly the role he performed for the Trump Administration in regards to Russia.

Know who closely watch off year local elections? Members of Congress.

Most of them came up the ranks though local elections. Almost all of them raise a significant amount of money inside of their districts. All of them have offices located throughout those districts. They are political animals with their ears to the ground. Congress critters notice local voting trends the way weather forecasters notice barometric pressure changes. The way many of them vote on a number of controversial issues when Congress reconvenes next January will strongly be effected by the omens they read from this November's results. Not just who wins and who loses, but more innocuous data too, like percentages of voter turnout. And whether or not younger voters are actually voting in an off year election this time.

Maybe the most consequential thing any of us can actually do to influence national political policy, prior to the Congressional mid term elections in 2018, is to help drive voter turn out in 2017.

Indictments will help Republicans pass their tax cuts.

For two simple reasons. One; indictments will dominate media coverage for at least a week - a very critical time period given the Congressional timeline. There will not be nearly as much air time and print space devoted to explaining how the Republican tax plans screw average Americans, how a few crumbs given to average Americans and mountains given to the rich will decimate all kinds of essential federal programs - not to mention explode the deficit. Rats scurry in the dark.

Two; Russiagate is a media battleground that Republicans are well prepared to fight on. The Trump presidency has been damaged by the cumulative revelations to date, but that all is pretty much now "priced in". It will take very serious criminal allegations to break substantive new ground at this point, and it is unlikely that the current sealed indictments contain those. Meanwhile the small but critical percentage of still "reachable" Trump voters will now be in siege mode, circling their wagons around their Chief against an "unfair with hunt" aimed at taking him down. They won't be paying any attention to how the 1% is about to fleece them.

I put much of my remaining hope in Mueller's probe, but I, we, have no means to meaningfully advance it. It is in the hands of the professionals now. We remain in the realm of politics, and that is where we can still have some influence on what this government is doing to America.
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