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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,216

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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.

Nancy Pelosi has been an extremely effective leader

The House of Representatives is, by design, a pretty unruly place - the "People's House" with hundreds of raging egos who face a constant need to grandstand for the folks back home due to having to run for reelection every two years. The Republicans have made a total mess of running their own caucus for a long time, whether in the majority or minority. Not so with our Nancy.

Anyone who doesn't think that there are fracture cracks inside our Democratic coalition clearly hasn't been reading DU. Yet Nancy Pelosi has almost always held her caucus tightly together whenever it was essential. That's how Obamacare got passed, and Obama's stimulus package before that. In the minority if anything she has been more effective - as House Democrats have continually held firm without breaking ranks forcing the Republicans to find elusive majorities for noxious measures entirely on their own - often failing in the process which greatly strengthes the Democratic message.

Pelosi is not a barn burner orator - so what, she speaks clearly to our Democratic values, never flusters, and always stands up to whatever bully the Republicans throw at her - including the current President of the United States, and she does so with wit, grit and grace.

In today's political climate Democrats can not have an effective Speaker or Minority Leader in the House who Republicans will not demonize, and attempt to turn into a two dimensional cardboard cutout of everything they deem evil in America. It's standard politics, and Democrats are not so different in how we relate to Paul Ryan (in his case however we all agree that Ryan does indeed represent all that is evil in America). The only reason why Democrats do not consistently prop up our version of Ryan as the negative face of the Republican Party is because there is a more obvious orange one that fits that bill better.

There no longer is a black Democratic President, nor a female Democratic candidate for President for Republicans to use as a punching bag, so instead they concentrate their fire on Nancy Pelosi. But she, unlike the current occupant of the White House, never makes the story about her. She doesn't go off message to constantly defend her honor - instead she organizes her caucus to make life for the Republican agenda Hell.

Yes the day is coming when Democrats will need a new generation of leadership. One could even say it is overdue. It will happen soon enough, and hopefully BEHIND THE SCENES Democrats are preparing for that day. But that time is not today, it is not NOW. As Democrats wage figurative hand to hand combat in the House of Representatives with Republicans who want to reverse generations of progress in America - we fortunately have strong experienced leadership in the House - we have Nancy Pelosi. Thank Goddess for that.

Those Crazy Dutch

How paranoid can you get? The Dutch had national elections in March, and they really wigged out

"Dutch will count all election ballots by hand to thwart hacking"

"Ministers want no repeat of US-Russia controversy in the March poll that could see Geert Wilders’ far-right party win power"

"Dutch authorities will count by hand all the votes cast in next month’s general elections, ditching “vulnerable” computer software to thwart any cyber hacking bid, a senior minister has said...

...Plasterk told parliament that fears over “the vulnerabilities of the software” used by the country’s election committee “had raised questions about whether the upcoming elections could be manipulated”.

He insisted in a letter to MPs that “no shadow of a doubt should hang over the results” of the parliamentary polls, which some analysts predict could result in a five-party coalition."

As it turns out Dutch voters rejected Geert Wilders’ far-right party. Another false alarm. Those Dutch are just so nervous about elections.

It infuriates me that Americans are forced to vote using easily corruptible systems (like tonight)

I spent mega hours ten to twelve years ago agitating on this issue, and very little has improved. The counter argument is always "there is no proof that elections have been hacked" (with no interest in pursuing any possible proof that they have been.) BUT THAT IS BLATANTLY THE WRONG STANDARD!

There is plenty of proof that elections can rather easily be hacked. This is just the latest in a long string of revelations about just how easily it can be done:
“Much of what happens at the Center for Election Systems is shrouded in mystery”

NOWHERE ELSE in our society do the appropriate authorities respond to documentation of critical flaws in essential systems that can lead to catastrophic failures with a shrug, and statements that boil down to "oh well, there's no proof that anything has gone wrong yet so there's no need to act."

People who care greatly about this are routinely dismissed as "conspiracy nuts" by the mainstream media AND BY political leaders in both major parties. Republicans never even acknowledge this as a possible issue of any importance. Democrats usually respond that they don't want to undermine public faith in our electoral system, which could suppress voter turnout, by spreading unproven allegations that our votes are being hacked.

WELL EXCUSE US. If you "don't want to undermine public faith in our electoral system, which could suppress voter turnout" then move to solidify public confidence in our voting systems by removing the egregious known vulnerabilities in them. You know, the way you do with tainted food or unreliable air bags.

Or even the way Microsoft does with their Widows operating system. Sloppy as they often are they at least are looking for back door vulnerabilities in their software and distributing patches to deal with them. Compare that to our political leaders. They remain content to just go whistling past the computerized graveyard of our democracy.

Yes it was yet another "mass shooting" but it was also an attack on Democratic government

It's pretty damn serious and we should react to it with just as much outrage as anyone on the Right can muster. Fundamentally it is the same as when Gabby was shot. Of course we need open eyes to see what enables this type of violence:The NRA, all of it. But we shouldn't skip past expressing solidarity as Americans for our Democratic institutions and for all of the people who are elected to represent us in them - to only express anger at the NRA etc.

Today I stand with the Republicans who were on that baseball field this morning, no matter what I think of their personal political views. And I am thinking too of the two Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives who withdrew from the race due to death threats against their families

Hate breed Hate. I don't care if a shooter comes from the Left or from the Right

All of them threaten my way of life, and my life itself. I don't care if I can in any way relate to the source of their anger or not. No society is immune to the growth of organized death squads, from multiple viewpoints, if political violence ever spirals out of control.

I hope for the full rapid recovery of all who were shot, and the immediate apprehension and full prosecution of anyone who was party to this act of violence. I know the latest shooter is in custody. I hope he was alone in this.

Pledge Time. If Robert Mueller gets fired drop everything. IMMEDIATELY hit the streets

Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 from George Soros, do not hesitate.

Pass the word. This can be the General Strike that will actually shut down the country - all of it.. We owe this to multiple past generations of Americans who preserved a working Democracy for us to have and pass on to future generations of Americans.

Into the streets. Everywhere. Instantaneously. Simultaneously: MASS RESISTANCE. Spread the word.

This comment by Comey slipped by with little notice, but it is important

Senator Collins had just questioned him:

"But I remain puzzled by your response. Your response was, “I agree that Michael Flynn is a good guy.” You could have said, “Mr. President, this meeting is inappropriate. This response could compromise the investigation. You should not be making such a request...

But my question to you is, later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the Department of Justice and ask them to call the White House counsel’s office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-a-vis the FBI?"

In his reply Comey included this statement:

It was of investigative interest to us to try and figure out so what just happened with the president’s request [about Flynn], so I would not have wanted to alert the White House that it had happened until we figured out what are we going to do with this,

That indicates to me that Trump was then already moving into the position of being at the very least a "person of interest" in a potential FBI investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice. Comey flat out said that he could not risk alerting the White House, Sessions included, to the possibility that such an investigation was being considered. Once information of that type becomes known subjects of such an investigation change their behavior and cover their tracks, complicating a possible investigation.

Under the circumstance it makes all the sense in the world that Comey did not immediately fully report to his superiors at the Department of Justice.

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