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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 18,265

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I am a Democrat

I am even on the executive committee of our county's Democratic party (trust me, anyone willing to do some good work for the party on a local level can pretty easily "rise" to such "lofty" heights.) So my comments are not those of an "outside agitator" or havens to bid, that of an "Independent".

For me the Democratic Party is a means to an end and not an end in itself. I am puzzled by how so many posters here, IMO, seem to confuse loyalty to the Democratic Party with loyalty to the fight for social change that the Democratic Party is often identified with (usually legitimately, not sometimes not). I work through the Democratic Party for pragmatic, not ideological or sentimental reasons. The Democratic Party (hell all political parties for that matter) is at root a way to advance an agenda. Which isn't the same as being the agenda. And no political party, no matter how noble or well organized it may be, is ever the sole means to advance a social agenda. It isn't even the sole political means to advance a social agenda. At the most fundamental level, only the agenda itself ultimately matters.

Which is why I need to say this clearly at least once on DU. Focusing on the fact that Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat can be a good starting point for a meaningful discussion about the best ways for us all to collectively achieve ends that we believe in, but it sucks as a conclusive statement. If a person or persons working outside the framework of a specific political party can achieve progress in bringing about important and desirable social changes, that's pretty much the ball game when you look at the bigger picture. Probably Martin Luther King Jr was a Democrat, but I actually don't know that for a fact and it's illustrative that I don't. Ultimately it didn't matter.

We can have great tactical discussions about how to best advance politically inside of the American essentially two party system, and we should do so. Ultimately, however, my loyalty is to a set of goals, not fundamentally to the Democratic Party. The fact that "Bernie isn't a Democrat" is meaningless to me without a corresponding analysis about how that fact changes our collective ability to advance a positive social agenda. It is also a fact that Democrats are a minority in America, with roughly a third of voters identifying as such. More voters identify as Independents than as Democrats. We do not win elections on our own.

When I finish writing and posting this I am going back to finishing up a press release for a fund raiser for our local Democrats for the fall election. I choose my Democratic affiliation as the way I believe I can best advance causes that I believe in. But I also acknowledge that in some cases NOT being widely and openly affiliated and associated with a specific political party can open up some doors to change more effectively than can the brandishing of a partisan identity.

Debate whether Bernie does or does not serve our cause if you wish, but simple restating the obvious e.g. "But he's not a Democrat!" offers nothing useful to an important debate that too often ends rather than begins with that comment.

Memo to queasy Congressional Republicans. Subject: Opposing Trump

Learn and apply the central lesson from the 2016 Republican Presidential primaries. Do not wait for Trump to either self destruct or to be taken down by others before taking him on yourself. If you are not firmly in Trump's camp and personally loyal to him, he will come after you. Even if you are in Trump's camp and personally loyal to him, he may well come after you anyway, at any time, if he thinks it serves his interests to do so. And he will. Who do you think Trump would rather blame for his lack of significant accomplishments in office, himself or you?

If Donald Trump is a President you want to be closely associated with come the 2018 mid term elections, by all means stand by your man - and bet your seat on it. When 2018 rolls around any Republican not having previously firmly rejected Trump's presidency will be seen as a defender of it. Or at the very least as his enabler. There will be no middle ground left.There is barely any now.

If you wait for Trump to become unpopular enough with "his base" for it to be safe enough for you to come out strongly against him, you will have sealed your fate, just like Trump's 2016 Republican Presidential primary challengers did. Trump must be confronted early, and that means NOW, so that criticism of him has time to sink in before the 2018 races begin in earnest. He (or in a few cases she) who hesitates will be lost. If you wait for Trump to simply collapse you will only be pulled down with him when it inevitably happens. If you cast a spotlight on Trump's deformities yourself now, maybe your own constituents too will come to see them in time, and credit you for your leadership when they next go to the polls.

If you don't want to stand for Trump in 2018, stand out against him now. Do so openly, do so clearly. Yes you will take hits from hard core Trump loyalists for doing so, but you can not split this baby in half. They will hate you as much for trying to hedge your bets as they would if you flat out denounce him. And there is an added bonus if you tell the public openly what you now dare only say in private to friends about this President's unfitness for office. You will be serving your nation honorably in a time of crisis. And in the long run that will look a whole lot better on your resume than will jettisoning your integrity in a desperate attempt to hold onto your seat, regardless of the final election results.

I offer this advice to Republicans with some degree of reluctance. When viewed through a partisan prism I, as a committed Democrat, believe the Republican Party will suffer essentially irreparable damage if it continues on it's current course by temporarily propping up Donald Trump. If those of you in Congress who know better than to let Trump's rule go unchecked act with that certainty now, the Republican Party will retain the capacity to rise again. Remember that after enough principled Republicans in Congress made certain that Nixon resigned in disgrace, Carter became a one term President and Republicans then took control of the White House for three consecutive terms.

Democrats will do best in 2018 if Republicans stand by Trump now. But America will suffer if the damage Trump is doing isn't forcefully countered well before the a new Congress is seated in January of 2019. Country ahead of Party. We should all be able to agree on that.

"Our great country has been divided for decades." DECADES????

No, it's been centuries. Literally. Centuries. Decades is the word you use to describe events of the last twenty, thirty, forty, or maybe even fifty years. 1960 was 57 years ago. MLK Jr. was assassinated roughly 50 years ago.

So when exactly does Trump think America was united? Before the Civil Rights movement? When Blacks still "knew their place"? When America was called White by those in control, and the phrase Affirmative Action had not yet even been uttered?

Trump says he wants to make America Great Again. Well he sure as hell can't mean before racism was a plague on our Nation's soul, because it always has been. Americans of all races have slowly, painstakingly been struggling to make America greater. Much of that work has been done over decades. Those very same decades that Trump believes have left Americans divided. Perhaps he never noticed that America has always been divided, except some of us were always supposed to act invisible, living quietly in actual of de facto segregated communities. Seperate and unequal, and left out of the great American picture show.

America actually has slowly been healing the wounds of our deep division, over decades. Our President obviously views those decades differently.

So Mr. Netanyahu, how's that alliance with Trump working for you now?

Things could start to get interesting in Israel where Netanyahu is already dealing with a corruption scandal. Much like Trump, Netanyaho has never been reticent about going off publicly against real or imagined terrorist threats posed by Muslims. Now his very good friend and ally Donald Trump is getting blasted around the world for acting as a literal Nazi apologist (at best). To date the response from Netanyahu has been noticeably slow and rather muted for him.

And what about Sheldon Adelson, mega American billionaire and Right Wing donor to Republicans who owns the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom?

Trump refuses to speak ill of either Putin or Nazis

Kind of reminds me of "the good old days" when the The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was making the world great for totalitarians. That lasted for two years which I suspect is longer than the Trump presidency will last. A lot of irreparable damage can be done in two years. Trump must be made so toxic that even the G.O.P. won't put up with him that long.

The difference between prejudice and racism.

Both are blights on our souls, and both must constantly be fought. Prejudice is like contaminated ground water that seeps into our wells, whether we want it in us or not. We must be vigilant against it, and active measures are continually needed, on both a personal and societal level, to filter it out before it seriously poisons us. Racism is like cheap rot gut liquor that some people willfully purchase and then gladly revel in, poisoning themselves while trashing the world around them.

We can both be prejudiced and opposed to prejudice at the same time. We can fight to rid ourselves of our own prejudices. We can expose ourselves to diversity, we can open our hearts to cultural differences. We can listen, we can learn. But racists wear their affliction with pride. I have some empathy for those with untreated prejudices. Some can be worked with, some can be reached. Racists however are my enemy, and our President is one of them.

This is what the Supreme Court said in 2013 when it invalidated the heart of the Voting Rights Act

From the New York Times of that time:

"The chief justice recalled the Freedom Summer of 1964, when the civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered near Philadelphia, Miss., while seeking to register black voters. He mentioned Bloody Sunday in 1965, when police officers beat marchers in Selma, Ala.

“Today,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “both of those towns are governed by African-American mayors. Problems remain in these states and others, but there is no denying that, due to the Voting Rights Act, our nation has made great strides.”

Great strides? Voter suppression is newly rampant again. Our President is a white nationalist racist, and civil rights activists are being run down and killed in Charlottesville.

After Republicans killed the Clinton Health Care Plan during the 90's...

They were fully content to do nothing, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable and unable to afford treatment for dire illnesses. Republicans controlled the White House (and most of Congress also) from 2000 to 2008. Massive tax cuts to the rich was their primary domestic agenda. Bush nudged the ball forward a few inches with his Plan D Prescription Drug plan; the one with the huge Doughnut hole that it took Obamacare to fill, and that forbid the U.S. government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. But Bush also tried (and failed) to privatize Social Security.

Before Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act under Obama, the Republican Party was content with tens of million of Americans being uninsured. The were content with ever increasing numbers of Americans being denied coverage due to a list of "preexisting conditions" that magically just kept growing. Republicans didn't mind annual and life time caps on insurance payouts to those unfortunate enough to develop a serious and costly illness, even if those unfortunate individuals had regularly paid their monthly insurance premiums for decades prior. The only reason why they even acknowledge problems with the way they were comfortable having health care denied for tens of millions of Americans for decades, is because tens of millions of Americans now understand that it doesn't have to be that way. Because now, thanks to Democrats, it's no longer quite that grim.

For the seven years that followed passage of the Affordable Care Act Republicans turned over every stone in their effort to roll back the new protections that all consumers gained under Obamacare, and the ability of tens of millions more to finally be able to afford health insurance that actually paid for things like hospitalization. But in all that time they couldn't find it in them to agree on an actual alternative plan to replace Obamacare with that wouldn't kick 20 million plus people off the insurance market, or guarantee that those still insured would receive the treatments that they needed when they needed them.

A Leopard doesn't change its spots - they are simply being Republicans. Same as it ever was. They are the party that busies itself on shredding safety nets rather than designing them. If it were up to Republicans there never would have been Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in the first place. Their ideology and their allegiances allow them to look right through the suffering of tens of millions of Americans while they plot ways to make life sweeter for their friends in the Oligarchy, by expanding the suffering of ordinary Americans.

Republicans have always been the Party of special attention to the few and utter neglect of the many. Deaths among the latter are an acceptable price to pay for prosperity of the former. Republicans had 17 years from when the took over the White House in 2000 until now to come up with a humane and workable health care plan for America. It simply wasn't a priority for them. It never is. It never has been. It never will be. Over a fifth of Americas children live in literal poverty. Children. But th Republican priority remains tax cuts for the rich and well connected. Republicans find wide spread death to be an acceptable cost of business if it allows them to lower the costs of doing business, and thus feeding the bottom line rather than the hungry.

Expecting Republicans to provide constructive leadership regarding health care now, for the poor and the struggling middle class, is like expecting the Grim Reaper to offer workshops on preventive health. We can only hope that this current charade in the Senate is helping more Americans see the Republican priorities for what they show, an utter indifference to easily preventable deaths.

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.
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