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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 21,419

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It is this simple. Voting for Republicans now enables racists and the far right violent fringe

There is no need to argue over whether everyone who votes Republican is a racist him or her self. There is no need to argue over whether or not there are some decent Republican politicians out there. For all but the most local of elections, where State and National issues seldom are relevant, and where most voters know the candidates personally, November 6th is a referendum on the future of our Democracy and the type of people who we aspire to be as a nation. Trump insisted on making this election all about him, so now in fact it is.

Everyone who enters a polling booth should be clear; Vote Republican if you agree with what Trump is doing to the fabric of our Democracy with his constant anger, insults and hate, or vote Democratic if you don't. Republicans need to lose for the latter message to prevail.

Between now and election day I'm not going to argue with anyone I may meet over whether all Trump supporters are personally racists etc. I will simply state that all those who find any reason to back Trump now are enabling the racists and anti-Semites, and the steady slide of America towards authoritarian rule and a violently divided nation where anger overwhelms all reason.

I will say "Go look for decent Republicans later if you must, this year Democrats must win."

We need something like "The American Electoral Challenge"

Right now 40% of voting age Americans don't vote in presidential elections. Percentages are worse for other elections. The premise would be this: "Let's find out what kind of Government we can have if everyone actually voted".

Call it a Grand Experiment in Democracy and widely use social media to get as many people as possible to make a pledge to collectively suspend all disbelief over whether voting really matters and just do it. Attempt to mobilize peer pressure using web sites where people can affirm that they have taken the pledge to participate in mass voting to find out once and for all how different and better our lives can become if 70% of Americans voted in all local state and federal elections over a five year period.

How different can our future be? Make voting records into a competitive sport if that's what it takes. It can be non-partisan, it should be in fact. Lets all challenge ourselves (but I would love to see a pitch developed toward millennials in particular) to just f'ing try it: What would actually happen if for 5 years everyone just voted? What type nation would we collectively create?


This is so obvious it shouldn't need to be said. But it does

For all those talking heads and politicos of any stripe who decry the "increasing lack of civility" in our politics, as well as all those who also decry the so called "tribiization" of politics in contemporary America today...

May I respectfully ask them all to shut the fuck up unless they are willing to start out their litany of concerns with an overt condemnation of the current occupant of the Oval Office for his non stop fierce campaigning against the majority of the electorate who voted against him in 2016? If pundits refuse to lead with how absolutely unAmerican it is for the person elected to represent the people as a whole to characterize his legitimate political opposition as "evil", they have nothing of any value to say. Period: turn the page, change the channel.

In 2005 Ann Coulter published "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must). If You Must which virtually screams out that liberals are not worth talking to unless one is forced to. Lack of civility? Tribalization of politics? Put the blame where it belongs and then, maybe, we can engage in a meaningful conversation about what is wrong with American politics. That is, after America rids itself of a President who tries to hold onto and consolidate power by ,for all practical purposes, declaring war on half of America.

Once upon a time a lot of people puzzled over how "The Big Lie" propaganda was so effective

The the thing about "The Big Lie", after all, is that it is based on big lies. Big as in obvious, visible in the glare of bright sunlight nothing shadowy about them, lies. Lies as in, there is nothing subtle about it, with ample evidence to the contrary readily available to completely debunk them.

Doesn't matter, it works. "The Big Lie" gets furthered much like "free speech" gets disseminated in the era of Citizens United. "The Big Lie" overwhelms the truth because of how powerfully it gets amplified. Any of the best writers here can speak the truth effectively to thousands of readers, and leave their mark for a day or two.. Rush Limbaugh has peddled poison effectively to millions for decades.

But it is really only the bully pulpit of the Presidency buttressed by the full power of the State that can propagate "The Big Lie" against all of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We here in America have, most of the time, been fortunate. Most of us have only experienced the highly effective bipartisan "Big Lie" of the glories of "the system", "the establishment", the "free market" and the status quo. We were conditioned to believe that the full spectrum of politics had folks like Bernie Sanders at the "far left" and Ted Cruz at the "far right" with only a tiny fringe of certifiable loonies falling on either extreme side of that political spectrum. In support of that convenient version of reality, one that locked in disproportionate wealth and influence for a small strata of American society, more extreme versions of "The Big Lie" stayed more of an underground phenomena, perhaps occasionally emerging as "conspiracy theories".

Since the early 60's toxic false ideologies such as "White Supremacy" could not be openly embraced at the top of the American political pyramid. Presidents had to at least pay lip service to the pledge of allegiance; "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. The entrenched status quo had functioned best with at least a veneer of civility promoted. The bully pulpit was used, largely by both major political purposes, for that purpose. I'm not sure what changed to change that construction. Maybe it was simply the inevitable result of ever increasing demographic changes in America as we move toward being a majority minority nation. Maybe key elements of the entrenched status quo realized that they needed a new game plan in order to defend their privileges.

Once upon a time the preferred "The Big Lie" was this; that we were all one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That relatively benign version of "Big Lie" is becoming passe as "The Big Lie' shifts to promote divide and conquer instead. This is new for most Americans (though not unfamiliar to oppressed minorities). The full power of the Executive, with the majority of Congress falling into line behind him, is being used to pit some Americans against others. The State, the government we were long conditioned to respect as the expression of the entire American people, now openly demonizes some of us. We are not yet sufficiently inoculated as a people against the virulence of "The Big Lie" being delivered to us from "Upon High". It is yet to be seen if we can develop sufficient antibodies to that quickly enough to not, as a nation, become gravely ill

I just figured out what living through Trump's presidency is starting to feel like for me.

Hell obviously, but there is something else, something sinister in a surreal sense. I just woke up having fallen asleep on the couch feeling as though I have become a prop consumed by Trump's ever expanding ego. Then it hit me. It's like we're living inside a Philip K Dick novel. And for those of you who are familiar with his writing, I'm thinking Ubik. It's like Trump has begun to permeate our reality, transforming it into something feverish that is an extension of himself.

This isn't a political analysis, it's emotional. And psychological in that mind dissolving way that PKD so uniquely captured. The half (or is is hyper) lucid thoughts of just returning to waking consciousness. And like a Dick novel, it's hard to be confident that one ever does awaken while living inside it. Holding our for election day, but Dick's characters are always hanging on to something also, until the floor of reality caves in on them again.

For those who are not immediately familiar with Philip K Dick, he is the Sci Fi author who wrote the books and stories that Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and the Man in the High Castle are based on. But I am thinking Ubik here, or the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch... That is all for now. Hopefully

Step by Step. Debunking Kavanaugh Defender Logic

I'll keep this focused, though thorough and therefore long. This relates solely to whether now Justice Kavanaugh stands rightfully accused by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and to a slightly lesser extent Deborah Ramirez, of sexual misconduct and assault.

Regarding Dr. Ford whose widely regarded sworn testimony before the Senate Judicial Committee was witnessed by millions of Americans. And who was widely seen as credible by many Kavanaugh defenders, including Senator Collins and at one point at least even Donald Trump: One of three things about her testimony is true:

1) All of it. She was sexually assaulted as a high school student at a party, and she correctly identifies her assailant as now Justice Kavanaugh.

2) Some of it is true. She was sexually assaulted as a high school student at a party, but she is "confused" and/or has a "faulty memory" and has misidentified Justice Kavanaugh as her assailant

3) Little if anything about her testimony is true. Whether or not she was ever assaulted, Dr. Ford does not believe Justice Kavanaugh assaulted her. She is therefor lying.

Justice Kavanaugh also testified before that Senate Judiciary Committee and he categorically asserts that Dr. Ford's identification of him as her assaulter is false. He wasn't there. He didn't do it. Period. One of 3 things about his testimony is true:

1) All of it. He never assaulted Dr. Ford.

2) Some of it is true. He doesn't believe he assaulted Dr. Ford because he has no memory of any of it But there are some not yet discredited indications that Kavanaugh may have drank heavily in his youth and possibly can not remember everything that happened when he did. In this option Kavanaugh is either lying or in denial about the unreliability of his memory due to “black outs”.

3) Little if anything about his denial of having assaulted Dr. Ford is true. He did it and he knows he did it. He is therefor simply lying.

Kavanaugh defenders claim this is a classic case of "he said/she said". Those who believe that Kavanaugh is telling the full truth (his option number one) and that Ford is literally lying, think Kavanaugh, and not Ford, is a victim. In other words they assert that Ford most likely knowingly took part is a conspiracy to destroy Kavanaugh for political reasons. If they are right, then they would be correct that Kavanaugh is the true victim here. But very few Kavanaugh defenders are willing to publicly admit to holding this opinion. There is absolutely no evidence for it. Susan Collins, the deciding vote to confirm Kavanaugh, clearly rejected this conclusion. She calls the matter a "he said/she said" with two credible conflicting claims, and opts to believe the 2) theory about Ford. namely that she was assaulted; but essentially Ford is "confused" about Kavanaugh having been the one who assaulted her.

Before looking closer at both "option threes" outlined above for Ford and Kavanaugh, let's dispel a cloud of smoke that many Republicans have been blowing. They strongly charge Democratic members of the Judiciary committee of politically plotting against Kavanaugh by withholding allegations made against him to catch him off guard and by surprise, to either sink his confirmation or at least delay it as long as possible. Democrats have charges against the Republicans also, about politically withholding information, limiting witness testimony, and undermining the FBI investigation into misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. All of these charges are possibly worthy of separate fair investigations, but, except for any efforts to overly constrain the follow up FBI background check, they are irrelevant to the question at hand UNLESS one claims that Dr. Ford was a willing participant in a plot against Justice Kavanaugh solely for political reasons. If instead you accept that Ford testified sincerely about an assault that she believes Kavanaugh made on her at that party, whatever the Republicans and or Democrats on that committee did for political reasons is absolutely irrelevant to the central questions which are: Did it in fact happen, and if so, should Judge Kavanaugh have been denied a life time appointment to the Supreme Court?

So back to the question of truthfulness for both Kavanaugh and Ford. Most of Kavanaugh's defenders would have us think there is no real way of knowing what to believe when two believable people offer conflicting testimony. Further, they say that since Ford can't produce eye witnesses who back up her claim; with those who she identified as being present in the house or room claiming to have no memory of her being assaulted while at the party, the burden of evidence has not been met to establish that Kavanaugh is lying. There are several logical holes in that formulation which I will discuss in detail below. First though lets detail some powerful circumstantial evidence that lends credence to believing Ford over Kavanaugh.

The first and most obvious aspect to explore is motivation. Which, if either, Ford or Kavanaugh had compelling reasons to potentially lie in their assertions about the alleged incident? Motive does not establish guilt but it is always worth considering. Clearly, of the two, Kavanaugh had a strong motive to lie whereas Ford did not. It is widely understood that guilty people often lie in an attempt to cover up their guilt when they risk great loss should the truth come out. That by itself offers little guidance as to whether Kavanaugh is lying in this case, but it becomes more noteworthy when contrasted with the situation faced by his accuser, Dr. Ford. She had nothing credibly of any value to gain by coming forward with her accusation that Justice Kavanaugh assaulted her. It is obvious she did not want the publicity. She never sought any money from Kavanaugh in return for her silence. If she were nursing some deep personal grievance against Kavanauh and looking for some outlet for revenge (again absolutely no evidence supports this “potential “motivation” Ford could easily have made trouble for Kavanaugh many years ago.

To the contrary, it seems that anyone who knows Dr. Ford, as well as those of us who watched her testify that day, knew in a heartbeat that she is not the type to have such questionable motivations. All evidence, along with common sense, argues to the contrary. Ford made an attempt to share her story about Kavanaugh BEFORE he was selected as the Supreme Court nominee; knowing full well that Trump had other qualified Conservative candidates for the office he could and would turn to instead if Kavanaugh was quietly removed from the “short list” of possible nominees. Ford was highly conflicted and obviously reluctant to testify about the assault made on her by the man, then boy, she identifies as Judge Kavanaugh. In fact she had strong motivation NOT to come forward, a reality that sadly Dr. Ford has in common with millions of other victims of sexual assault. She knew most women are not believed when they claim to have been assaulted, lacking physical evidence. She knew also that her life and that of her family would suffer if she testified that Kavanaugh assaulted her, and she was right. Ford can not even live in her own home now. By way of contrast Judge Kavanaugh surely knew that his own life and family would suffer substantially if he gave any credence to Ford's allegations with his own testimony.

There is more though. A false accuser has no sane reason to stridently welcome a full FBI investigation into her claims. For that matter she has no reason to volunteer for a lie detector test either. A man falsely accused of criminal behavior that now jeopardized his highly successful career, however, might well welcome a full FBI investigation (and perhaps a lie detector test as well) to finally clear his good name. At no point, despite having repeated opportunities to do so, was Kavanaugh so motivated. Another germane observation, anyone other than a highly skilled actress would have found it near impossible to feign, over the course of hours, the pain Dr. Ford was experiencing reliving a deep trauma from her past in excruciating, highly personal, detail in testimony before that committee and tens of millions of Americans who were watching her live. Justice Kavanaugh, in his turn, legitimately experienced himself under attack, and his need to defend himself, whether innocent or guilty, was instinctive and passionate. The emotions he displayed did not require any acting ability regardless of whether he told truths or falsehoods. But many also observed that details in some of his answers seemed to strain credulity, as he talked about notes in his own high school yearbook for example.

Was he forthcoming, or covering his tracks? On the surface at least it is impossible to know with any certainty, but taken as a whole there are some reasons to question Kaanaugh's full honesty, and virtually none to challenge Ford's sincerity as a witness. Keep in mind that Kavanaugh already faced serious substantive allegations, including some written evidence, of stating falsehoods to the point of perjury, earlier in the recently completed hearing. These date back to statements he made under oath at his first Federal Judgeship confirmation hearing.

Faced with these two “credible” individuals giving directly contrary testimony, considering all of the above, one can conclude that A) It is highly implausible that Dr Ford was lying and B) It is at least plausible that Justice Kavanaugh lied regarding her allegation.

Which explains why so many Kavanaugh defenders are eager to embrace Ford option 2): She testified honestly but is “mistaken” in her 100% certainty that Brett Kavanugh is the one who assaulted her in that house. In addition to Kavenaugh's own testimony refuting Ford's claim, his defenders use two arguments for professing that Dr. Ford is “confused” about who assaulted her.

1) the fact that there are gaps in her memory, and
2) the lack of eye witness corroboration.

An astute observer may notice that these are arguments more relevant to use in challenging Dr. Ford's truthfulness than they are to challenge the clarity of those memories of her assault that remain indelible to her, to use Dr. Ford's own words. Those are the memories that Dr. Ford can not forget, the one's that have plagued her throughout her life. Those are the memories that forced her marriage into couple therapy over her insistence on adding a second front door to their house, which initially her husband could not understand. Dr. Ford has total clarity of all events related to the actual assault on her; from the moment the assault on her began, through the moment when she exited the locked bathroom which she had escaped into, finally believing that the active threat to her had then passed.

She remembers being shoved into a bedroom from behind. She remembers the layout of that bedroom. She remembers the music being turned up to drown out her screams. She remembers the two boys who trapped her in that room. She remembers Brett Kavanaugh mounting her on a bed and trying to tear off her clothes. She remembers his difficulty in trying to get under her one piece bathing suit. She remembers him being drunk and that he put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming, all of this occurring at extremely close quarters with his face looming over hers. There is quite a bit more about those few minutes of terror that Dr. Ford acutely remembers. The laughter, the bathroom across the hall, the narrow staircase, etc. All of these memories were fixed in her brain while she was struggling to prevent the rape she thought was about to happen, and remain there decades later. Her memories from before and after that intense window of fear are less distinct.

That is completely consistent with a scientific understanding of how repressed memories of the trauma of sexual assault, and PTSD that envelops it all, functions in the human brain. Dr. Ford also remembers the names of some people who she knew at the time who were present in that house. They were familiar to her at the time, and don't fall into the category of transitory details about a specific location not familiar to her, or the modes of transportation she used to and from that house. Brett Kavanaugh was very familiar to Dr. Ford at the time. Her then boyfriend (who was present in that house (but not in that bedroom was a friend of Kavanaugh) was a friend of Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh was not a stranger to Dr. Ford, he was an acquaintance. Dr. Ford is 100% certain that it was Judge Kavanaugh who assaulted her.

Only three individuals were present for and thus aware of the trauma Dr. Ford experienced inside that bedroom that day; herself and the two boys inside that bedroom with her. No one else who was present at that party has any reason to remember much, if anything, about it decades later. Dr. Ford testifies that both boys involved had been drinking heavily. It is plausible therefor that their memories of that incident are nowhere as distinct at that of Dr. Ford; if they remember that incident at all. This point speaks to the Judge Kavanaugh testimony possibility number two. Namely that he testified truthfully consistent with his memory which, however, may have been heavily impaired.

So the above would be what we are left to sort through while searching for the truth in a classic“he said/ she said” confrontation, such as that which happened during the Senate hearing. Barring the testimony of other witnesses, or other corroborating evidence for either side, that is. It was highly unusual that the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to call more than two witnesses to give public testimony regarding Dr. Kavanaugh. Though earlier in the hearings character witnesses did testify on behalf of Judge Kavanaugh, no character witnesses were directly heard from for Dr. Ford. Nor were any experts called regarding PTSD, or any experts testifying on whether or not Dr. Ford's failure to reveal the assault on her earlier was uncommon, or instead typical of the experience of millions of other women who have suffered a sexual assault on them.

Even more telling, testimony from other witnesses regarding the behavior/drinking/lifestyle of Judge Kavanaugh during the time in question, and extending forward from then through law school was not initially welcomed. They were never called on to give public testimony. None of the other women who alleged inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of Judge Kavanaugh in his youth were called on either. That is especially telling in the case of Deborah Ramirez who reported being publicly humiliated when Judge Kavanaugh thrust his naked crotch in her face during a gathering at Yale. Though a belated reopened and constricted FBI background check on Judge Kavenaugh resulted in Ramirez being interviewed by Bureau agents, it seems none of the potential witnesses that either she herself identified, or those who stepped forward on their own to offer additional evidence, were contacted during that investigation. The Director of the FBI himself confirms that his agents were only allowed to investigate within predetermined constraints established by the White House. In essence their inquiry took place with blinders on.

How much potentially corroborating evidence was never gathered or reviewed? Was the background check intended to help establish the truth, or was it instead intended to provide political cover for those who already knew that they planned to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, regardless of any potentially credible standing allegations against him? What can be said objectively is that a lot of potentially corroborating evidence consistent with Dr. Ford's testimony was left on the table, so to speak, never receiving attention from the FBI due to the constraints that were put upon them.

So we are left with only a “he said/she said” encounter, plausibly by intentional design. And on that basis Kavanaugh defenders claim that the burden of proof against Judge Kavanaugh was not met by Dr. Ford. Burden of proof is a legal term associated with prosecutions, as is the presumption of innocence. It serves the interests of Kavanaugh defenders to use terms associated with criminal trials, where a defendant must be found “innocent” if jurors harbor any reasonable doubts that he or she may not actually be guilty. The use of a criminal prosecutor to question Dr. Ford was consistent with that framing of public perceptions and of forwarding an argument that Dr. Kavanaugh must be elevated to the Supreme Court if it can not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the assault on Dr. Ford. That is patently false. No employer would feel obliged to give a promotion to an employee, after serious allegations against him or her emerged, simply because it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he/she was guilty as charged.

It is possible that Judge Kavanaugh did not assault Dr Ford those many years ago, but her testimony, and everything that surrounds it, makes her case compelling. At least it was compelling enough to warrant a thorough examination of all the facts, prior to elevating an individual facing such charges to a life time appointment to the highest court in the land. That did not happen. The exclusion of evidence from consideration does little to inspire confidence in the judgment reached by the U.S. Senate in confirming Judge Kavanaugh's appointment to the United State's Supreme Court.

I'm through with Manchin. (But I'll take his vote for Majority Leader)

If he was the actual deciding vote I wouldn't even take that. I can't and won't defend him. When the point comes when we don't need him (when Democrats can control the Senate without him) I don't care if he goes down.

We do need control of the Senate or Trump may get to appoint yet another SC Judge.

What an ugly moment.

Now it is about the coverup

Any wavering Senator, even endangered Democratic Senators in Red States, can use that as their basis for voting against Kavanaugh. Every time they speak they should cite the seemingly damning statements of witnesses that the FBI was not allowed to collect testimony from. If need be they can say that they simply do not know if Kavanaugh was guilty of any inappropriate or criminal sexual behavior. THAT is the point. They have been prevented from receiving evidence that could potentially shed light on the matter, and so the shadows of doubt remain, along with an inescapable conclusion that there might be something to hide since a real investigation has been stymied. A life time appointment to the Supreme Court is too important a decision to make under these circumstances. Period.

My fervent hope

That Republican women sexual assault survivors, even those who have been fully on board with Donald Trump - especially them, will be taken aback and shaken by Trump's mockery of Dr. Ford's memory of having been assaulted. They know exactly where Dr. Ford has been even if they are not convinced that Kavanaugh himself is guilty They've lived with trying to cope with the trauma of having been assaulted. They understand suppressed memories but they too remember some indelible moments. It is true for tens of millions of American women, many of whom voted for Trump. Trump ridiculed them too when he ridiculed Dr. Ford.

Some of them may not find it in themselves now to speak up publicly, but voting remains a private act.

When you literally spend your entire Presidency OFFICIALLY running for reelection

governance is not the goal. Dominance, not leadership, is the sole agenda. This was a conscious choice by Trump. Americans are used to not much getting done politically during the 10 months that precede an election while Washington enters campaign mode. Between elections is the period when, with varying degrees of sincerity, the people who Americans elected attempt to attend to the people's business, and claim to represent the nation as a whole, not merely their political base. That is gone now.

For all the media talk about Red and Blue political tribalism that point has been obscured. Donald Trump officially began his 2020 election campaign as soon as he was inaugurated in January 2017. This is new for the American presidency. The one person who can officially speak for all Americans now spends every month of his reign demonizing those Americans who did not support his election and/or stand in the way of his reelection. This week, while campaigning, Trump called elected Democrats "evil people".

Much like the North Korean "Supreme Leader" who he has "fallen in love with", Trump uses the specter of an enemy to consolidate his untouchable standing among the people who now prop up his rule. For Kim, that enemy has always been America. No matter how bad things get in North Korea, Kim knows who to blame, and Kim cultivated permanent hatred of America as a means to consolidate his rule. In his perennial campaign mode it becomes clearer every day who Donald Trump holds up as America's enemy - it is half of America itself. We are witnessing the formation of a cult of leadership in the United States of America and the Republican Party is fully complicit with it.

Once again the mass media is behind the curve in their latest manifestation of "both siderism". Donald Trump does not simply play into political tribalism practiced by "both sides of the aisle." He is institutionalizing tribalism as a means of control. It is not in his interest to bridge divisions inside America, it is in his interest to widen and exploit them. His bully pulpit is a sword used to vanquish those who refuse to swear loyalty to him. Left unchecked look for the rise soon of a Trumpian American version of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard. And no, "both sides" are not doing this.
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