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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 19,339

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Botttom Line: If Manafort had little to offer Mueller he would not have gotten this deal

Manafort is high on the food chain, the former campaign manager for Trump who secured his nomination and managed the National Republican Convention. If Manafort had nothing important to disclose against higher targets than himself, Meuller would have nailed his scalp to the wall, rather than bargain. The evidence was there to secure multiple convictions at trial. The plea deal would not have involved a guilty plea to only two charges if this wasn't a prelude to something bigger. Manafort had to first prove his value to Mueller's team moving forward before Mueller agreed to the terms of this deal. Clearly he has done so

Virtually the entire G.O.P. is now trapped in a tightening vice

All of their elected officials and candidates for major offices had to decide prior to this mid term election cycle: distance themselves from Trump or hitch their wagon to him. Almost all of them chose the latter. Their last theoretical window of opportunity to pull back from Trump closed for any Republican elected official on the State or National level who did not express sharp alarm at the revelations detailed in that anonymous "high Administration official" Op-Ed published in the NY Times. Silence equaled full complicity from that moment on.

They gambled on weathering the storm by hunkering down and sheltering in place, hoping the damage wouldn't be catastrophic after the latest round of shocking revelations blew over. They took a calculated risk, knowing that attempting to break from Trump at such a late stage would cost them dearly with Trump's base, and that angering Trump's base now spelled doom for many candidates already struggling to stay afloat in the face of a surging blue wave election.

They gambled wrong, and it will cost them more now than mere control of one or two Houses of Congress come November. This storm will not blow over. Manafort's cooperation, on top of Cohen's cooperation, on top of Gate's cooperation, on top of Flynn's cooperation etc. just nailed shut the coffin. A month or so back, when Republican politicians made their final calculations, Trump was experiencing some improvement in his polling. That was before McCain's funeral, where the contrast between human decency and Donald Trump became ever so starkly clear. That was also before Bob Woodward's expose became the hottest selling book in the land. Trump is going down politically even before he goes down legally. And the handwriting is on the wall that he is going down legally also.

All of the Republicans who blew past every flashing yellow light and even a few stop signs in their haste to stand by Trump no longer can stand against him, and they can not stand on their own. Each and every one of them now are damaged goods even if they don't yet know it, although they probably do.

Some day, most likely, the Republican Party will rebuild - but even that is no longer a certainty. If it does it will coalesce around a handful of "Never Trumpers" plus Republicans who served at the state level who avoided wrapping themselves in the sickly glow of Trump's vanity, hatred, incompetence, and greed. Meanwhile I expect we will see lot of squirming between now and election day from many Republicans who are about to face the electorate.

All Republicans need to answer "Do you think Woodward's reporting is subtantially accurate?"

If they answer no, then why not given that Woodward has a very long history of non partisan responsible journalism and has hundreds of hours of tapes documenting his account, with no one so far able to refute anything he wrote.

If they answer yes, then how the hell can they still stand in the shadows providing cover for a dangerously ill qualified president?

There is NO reason why Kavanaugh can't disclose what he thinks is or is not settled law.

According to his own long standing legal beliefs one does not have to agree with the legal reasoning behind matters of "settled law" in order to determine that a matter is "settled law". It has nothing to do with what he deems to otherwise be the legal merits of a case. It is strictly a matter of whether precedence is sufficiently established or not to allow a ruling to be overturned.

Should Kavanaugh still believe, as he seemingly did in that 2003 memo, that Roe Vs Wade is NOT settled law, saying so does not in any way reveal how he would rule on the merits of a case that may end up before him on the Supreme Court. In other words: He is free to admit whether or not Roe Vs Wade is settled law. It in no way compromises his refusal to discuss a case that may come before him on the SC. If it is NOT settled law he can still cling to his refusal to divulge how he would rule on it's merits prior to hearing the actual case.

Our deepest collective shame isn't that Donald Trump managed to become President

Though that is more than enough to be deeply ashamed of. It is that our society still grants him the power and influence of that office, and that a major American political party still stands by him as their leader heading into critical mid term elections.

It is one thing to elect a demagogue once, it is another not to purge him immediately once that fact is widely known, and another still to then literally acquiesce to his leadership for any number of craven political and self serving reasons. It was not Trump's election itself that so gravely threatens our democracy, it is all that has happened since.

When Republicans refuse to defend the rule of law, what do they have left?

When they fail to defend our national security, what remains of their purpose? When they undermine the checks and balances set up by the founding fathers, what foundation do they stand on? Not morality, when their leader is a proven liar, repeat adulterer, self professed sexual molester, a sloth and glutton of biblical proportions. Nor respect for authority, not when scientific authorities are ignored if their findings constrain corporate profits. Not respect for tradition when the traditions of our constitutional democracy are trampled upon daily. Not even fiscal conservationism, when they blow huge holes in the budget to fatten the wallets of those already bloated.

Republicans are left embracing intolerance at best, but more often blatantly raw racism and extreme xenophobia. They stand for a theocratic view of America mortally at odds with our Constitution. They invariably represent the privileged few over the needs of the many, subservient as they are to a handful of billionaire mega donors They salute a hollow patriotism: Flag pins over sacrifice, symbols over substance. And they pursue division over unity, and resentment over justice. And now they embrace as well a cult of personality, behind their new dear leader, that is worthy of North Korea.

No. not even Ronald Reagan could be proud of today's Republican Party, if he could even recognize its distorted state today.

Serious question (not trying to bait anyone). What do you make of the rise of Independents?

I don't mean candidates specifically, I mean non affiliated voters. What are the implications of the fact that a plurality of Americans now actively choose NOT to register as members of any political party, even though that often prevents them from voting in primaries that choose the most viable candidates in General Elections? We here on DU pretty much have a consensus that there are major differences between the two major political parties, so why does an increasing percentage of Americans see no reason to affiliate with one over the other?

I used to not think about this much, falling back on the old cliche that non affiliated voters were "swing voters" balanced at the center of our political spectrum. But true swing voters have always been a pretty small percentage of the electorate, certainly not a larger percentage of voters than those who choose to identify as Democrats. Personally I have always seen strong advantages in belonging to a political party, and I am active in our local Democratic Party. But it is getting near impossible for us to "recruit" anyone below 50 into becoming active in the Democratic Party as an institution.

Millennials are even less likely to register as members of a political party than is the population as a whole. It doesn't take fortune telling ability to understand the progression of that trend line. I'll state one firm opinion here; lecturing people on why the should be Democrats clearly isn't working, whether or not one in fact believes that they should indeed be Democrats.

How much meaning does party loyalty, or even identification, still have in a society where most citizens reject the very concept of belonging to any political party?

Let's hope at least some Republican voters are paying attention

The news this week will alternate between coverage of McCain's funeral and memorials, with McCain's personal character sharply illuminated; and coverage of Trump's high crimes and misdemeanors with Trump's character sharply illuminated. The contrast could not be clearer.

Democracy is messy

It's always been that way. People competing for power have egos as well as ideals. It's not just about ideology. Democrats, like Republicans, often oppose each other in primaries over who better deserves to get the job, more so than over differences in policy. Then they look for nuances of difference regarding policy to differentiate themselves from each other. And when the major distinctions between them isn't about differing core convictions, but rather about different characters and skills, that becomes a recipe for negative campaigning.

It is naive to expect all milk and honey in Democratic primaries. That almost never is the case. True, some contests are more negative than others, but virtually every campaign does opposition research on opponents in their own party, with the intention of using it if it will aid their electoral efforts. Some go over the line while doing so, but that line is poorly defined and people disagree on where it lies.

A case can be made for trying to discourage primaries between Democrats. Regardless of whether it is a good or bad idea to do so, it flies in the face of reality. People in politics have career ambitions just like everyone else. Many a successful political career would have stalled out completely if the prevailing view was never to challenge a sitting office holder from your own party. And politicians tend to believe in themselves, thinking that they offer something uniquely special that justifies their own run. It kind of goes with the territory.

I believe in primaries because, among other things, I believe that power has a tendency to corrupt when that tendency is not checked. That is not the same thing as saying those who hold power always become corrupt, they don't. But one of the reasons why they don't is the knowledge that even in a "safe district" they can always be challenged and thrown out of office via a primary challenge. But mostly I believe in primaries because I believe in democracy. And I say that now more than ever precisely because the only politically viable alternative to the Democratic Party, today's Republican Party, has become so lethal to the very concept of real democracy.

There is no sane alternative to the Democratic Party today, which means that we virtually have to vote for whoever is running with the Democratic nomination in the Fall. I accept that truth. But that also means that the only arena left for people to advance differing positive views and priorities through candidates devoted to them, is through Democratic primaries. With Republicans totally disqualified, it is also the only realm open where average voters can still weigh in on which individual (not just their platform) will best represent their interests.

I can be pretty forgiving of "transgressions" they may have made during a primary contest if the candidates who emerges victorious from Democratic Party Primaries will work to advance my basic agenda once in office. And the Democratic Party does. My position is to sort out our differences with primaries as called for, then unite behind the winner. Precisely because I oppose third party candidates in the current political context, I support robust competition within the Democratic Party between those who are pledged to support the resulting Democratic candidate in November.

The media is still refusing to state the obvious about Helsinki

The reason why U.S. officials at the highest levels still don't know exactly what Trump and Putin talked about and agreed to there is because Trump didn't then and doesn't now want them to know what Trump and Putin talked about and agreed to.. That is the one and only reason why Trump would hold a summit with Putin that excluded every other member of his administration from those talks, and why not even a stenographer was allowed to be present at the meeting.

It was not simply unusual for the Secretary of State, the Ambassador to Russia, the head of U.S. intelligence operations, the CIA director, and the National Security Advisor to be excluded from all actual discussions between Putin and Trump, it was designed to keep the contents of those discussion secretive; guarded against members of our own government from discovering what actually happened in that room. The intent always was total evasion from discovery of what exactly transpired in that room.

It is that simple, and it needs to be described as what it was.
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