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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,145

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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

"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

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
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.

No Independent Commission to investigate Trump Team ties to Russia? No Gorsuch confirmation vote

This should now be a firm non negotiable Democratic position. No more business as usual when Republicans are using their investigatory powers blatantly, inappropriately, in support of what increasingly appears to be a coverup.

Government can not function when the very basis for it is now seriously called into question. Democrats should draw that clear linkage, and use that as a fundamental basis to not "consider Gorsuch on his merits" at this time. A filibuster on principle is now the only responsible position that Democrats can take at least until there is a consensus impartial means established to get to the heart of the questions surrounding the Trump Administration and their potentially illegal activities, both before and after the election.

If the Republican Chairperson of the House Intelligence Committee can shed any pretense of regular order and bipartisanship, Democrats must use all tools possible to see that a true and impartial investigation of Trump's team occurs.and that includes their participation in any Supreme Court confirmation procedures. These matters should now be directly linked, and all Democratic Senators should take that position regardless of what they may otherwise individually feel about possibly confirming Gorsuch - Blue Dogs in Red States included.

It shoud be clear to all now why Trump flew into such a rage when Sessions recused himself

Sometimes it really is simple. As head of the Justice Department Trump trusted Sessions, as his total loyalist, to be his failsafe firewall against a FBI investigation concluding that any crimes were committed by Team Trump. Had Lynch not recused herself after that meeting with Bill Clinton likely Comey would have been held in check regarding Hillary. History can turn on things like that. Trump was counting on his man Sessions to save him. He lost his ace in the hole, get out of jail free card.

(With much Regret) I Lean Pragmatic on Gorsuch

I'm not happy about it. I'm not happy about him. I know that Republicans stole that seat by refusing to even give Garland a hearing. I hoped and believed that we would, as a nation, do much better than Gorsuch when President Hilary Clinton submitted her nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Instead Donald Trump got to choose a nominee, and Gorsuch is having a Senate hearing as I type this.

Now, in real time, what options do Democrats have? Many progressive voices who I admire argue for total resistance, and make a compelling case for just that. Theft should not be rewarded. Unfortunately I believe theft will be rewarded. Barring new, highly unsettling and gravely negative revelations, Gorsuch will be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court. Simply put, I believe he will either win 60 votes for confirmation with the support of a least 8 Democrats, or the filibusterer will be abolished, and Gorsuch will be seated with a simple 51 vote majority threshold passed.

There is, however, a third disturbing option. Republicans could allow Democrats to successfully filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, and have his nomination rejected. Then of course Trump would be forced to choose a new nominee. That, I suspect, might be when Republicans finally trigger the nuclear option. Not before Gorsuch goes down in defeat, but after he does - in time for Trump's second nominee to sail through the Senate under simple majority rule.This scenario offers some real advantages to the Republican conservative hard right. Something tells me that, with the filibuster already abolished, the next nominee Trump would make would make Gorsuch look like Snow White in comparison. That would suit Trump's vindictive temperament.

For starters, everything I have read so far seems to indicate that Gorsuch is just about as close to the mainstream of legal thought as any person that a Trump/Pence/Bannon/Ryan regime will ever nominate. I would not be surprised if risking his defeat was their tactical intent all along, offering up the classic win/win scenario for Trump and the Republican Party: Under option A) Gorsuch breaks a Democratic filibuster and gets seated - sowing discord within Democratic ranks in the process. Trump and Republicans celebrate, and bask in the "glow" of winning significant bi-partisan support for the elevation of a "highly respected" and "respectable" conservative jurist onto the Supreme Court.

Then there is option B) whereby Democrats sustain a filibuster and force Trump to submit a second nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. I suppose this scenario would be made moot should Senate Republicans abolish the filibuster prior to an actual vote on Gorsuch being held. Of course they very well might do just that, since Democrats do not have the means to stop them. Whether Republicans would abolish the filibuster to allow Gorsuch to win confirmation, or allow him to go down to tactical defeat instead, is uncertain. What seems clear to me however is that the Republicans will not allow two consecutive Trump nominees to be defeated by Democratic filibusters. One defeat they could use as a justification to trigger the nuclear option, and thus allow them to install a more extreme right nominee onto the Supreme Court instead of Gorsuch while simultaneously blaming Democrats for the abolishment of the filibuster because it was abused to block an "eminently qualified" Justice from being seated. Two nominations blocked by Democratic filibusters however would be viewed as a sign of their weakness, and Republicans will not allow that to happen.

A less radical Republican regime than the current one might conceivably move further toward the center with their second Supreme Court pick, should Gorsuch be rejected for not having sufficient bipartisan support. There certainly is modern precedent for that political course of action. But there is no modern precedent for this Republican regime. One way or another either Gorsuch, or someone even worse than him, will be seated on the Supreme Court this year. We are only 60 days into this presidency and Republicans hold the majority in the Senate. Unlike the Republicans with Garland, Democrats do not have the tools needed to run out the clock on this nomination. Should Republicans be punished for stealing a Supreme Court seat? Yes of course. The best time for that was the 2016 elections where they should have been held accountable for their flagrant disregard of the Constitution. Instead they retained a majority in the Senate and Trump became President. These are unfortunate facts.

When Republicans, one way or another, fill this Supreme Court vacancy it will restore the balance of power on the Court that existed before Scalia died. The next vacancy may shift it, and we don't know when that will occur. For all we know that could occur late in 2018, roughly at the same point in the presidential election cycle as when the Scalia vacancy happened. If the filibuster no longer existed at that point Republicans would not allow a little thing like hypocrisy stop them from quickly stacking the court in their favor. They may not however be willing to risk the political backlash of so blatantly changing the long standing traditional rules of the Senate, in the thick of a Presidential election, to ram through a controversial nominee.

And then of course there is the long term game, of wining back control of the U.S. Senate, which is essential to our ability to change the direction that the nation is now heading under unified Republican control of government. Not only must we wrest some Senate seats currently held by Republicans away from them, we need to retain the seats we now hold in purple and red states that Trump won in 2016. In a lot of ways the old axiom that all politics is local still holds true. Here in New York State where I live there is no political risk for a Democratic Senator to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, rather the political risk would lie in the refusal to do so. I can't say with certainty though that the same is true for all of the Democratic U.S. Senators facing reelection in 2018. For all of these varied reasons, as things stand now, I am not certain that progressives should seek to punish every Democratic Senator who refuses to filibuster Gorsuch when his confirmation vote is finally held. His hearings have just started. For all I know new negative revaluations about him may have emerged while I was composing this post. But the big picture as I see it now remains ugly, with no great options open to us. It is easy to play a strong hand in Bridge, playing a weak hand is a much greater challenge.

The heath care profession is one of the few substantial growth sectors left in our economy

And it is just about the only one that still offers a robust full spectrum of entry level positions, offered at various pay levels - including many well above starvation wages with further upside possibility.

Not only has the Affordable Care Act facilitated millions of Americans receiving health care that would otherwise have been beyond their means, it has simultaneously expanded good career opportunities for millions more. Jobs that are difficult to outsource, jobs that can support the raising of families with a modicum of built in security. In addition, unlike those laboring in the fast food industry, health care workers of all kinds can take some personal pride in helping their neighbors live lives more well, not ones sickened further by poor nutrition.

What more productive work force is there than one that helps our citizens live long and healthy lives? With a focus on prevention and proactive measures to increase wellness, the Affordable Care Act supports our ability to receive support for our health, both inside our own homes and through local out patient practitioners, rather than through crisis response management via high stress emergency room interventions. And this includes mental health care as well, at a time when money for low income mental health clinics in recent decades had substantially withered.

When less people have access to health care, less people have access to career opportunities inside of health care. Mining jobs are not returning. Automation churns relentlessly on, and soon even professional drivers will become obsolete, not to mention checkers and store clerks. It may not be the most immediate, nor the most deadly consequence of unraveling the Affordable Care Act and scaling back the services now being delivered through it, but job losses that will result from that are yet another dagger aimed at our shrinking middle class.

Excluding Iraq From Muslim Ban Lays Bare the Lie

The travel ban offers nothing for national security, rather it threatens it. Sure there is a fig leaf of verbiage concealing the naked truth ("Iraq will work with us on screening criteria" but that provides about as effective a cover up as fig leaves offer for nudity. Essentially none. If any nation fits the description of a likely source for terrorists attempting to enter the U.S. (aside from Saudi Arabia of course which actually was), Iraq fits the bill perfectly.

To quote our current President: "Isis started in Iraq". ISIS controls territory in Iraq. Terrorist infiltrated Iraqi members of security forces have murdered Senior American military officials inside of Iraq. Car bombs blow up inside Iraq every day, even in the tightly secured Green Zone. Iran supported militia's operate openly inside Iraq, and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Generals train them. But Iraq is now exempted from the travel ban.

Good, it should be. Along with the other six nations also. Including Iraq in the travel ban in the first place literally threatened our national security. Had Trump not removed it we might have alienated a key U.S. ally active in the fight against ISIS. The current Iraq government whose soldiers are fighting and dying to defeat ISIS was put in a very difficult place by the original order, as were our soldiers stationed there. It turned public opinion against America inside of Iraq as it did throughout the entire Muslim world. The new travel ban, like the old one, emboldens our enemies and weakens our friends.

If national security reasons required Iraq to be removed from the ban (which they did) than national security argues against the wisdom of an entire policy based on fabricated fear. The Trump Administration has twisted itself into a knot in an effort to justify keeping a campaign promise to its xenophobic base, at the very real expense of weakening our national security against terrorism in order to do so.
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