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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,218

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Warren, among others, is absolutely right. The super wealthy must be forcefully countered

It's not about this or that billionaire being an intrinsically bad person. It's not that all super rich people are incapable of being empathetic of those who are much less fortunate. It's not that some super wealthy folks have not been true progressive heroes in either the past or present. It's that highly concentrated wealth in America is severely eroding our democracy, and consigning most Americans to an increasingly marginal economic existence, or worse.

I have a few very wealthy friends from prior business contacts. I like them, that's why they're my friends. They care about the suffering of others as much as most folks do. But human nature is what it is. They tend to think they earn every penny they make as much as any ditch digger or farm worker laboring in the hot summer sun does; likely even more because most super wealthy believe that while anyone can do unskilled labor their own "talents" are extraordinarily special, even if what they do is manage a hedge fund.

They think so even though they couldn't survive an hour doing hard manual labor in the noon day sun. They think so even though agriculture would collapse, and water systems would fall apart, were it not for the manual laborers who can. They think so exactly the same regardless of whether they get paid ten times the hourly wage of an "ordinary worker" or one thousand times the hourly wage of an "ordinary worker". By and large these people are incapable of curbing their own greed because the don't recognize it as greed at all, at most they simply acknowledge that they "are fortunate." They don't see any link between how their own good fortune contributes to the bad fortunes of others

When asked if they would rather earn more than less, most people reflexively say more. When asked if they would rather pay lower rather than higher taxes, most people reflexively say lower. The super rich are not so different when it comes to basic human nature. Sure, some are personally very generous. So are many very poor people, even though the cost of generosity for those living a marginal life style falls much more heavily upon them.The thing is that there are no true victims in a so called "war on the rich", because the rich will continue to thrive even if they are the so called losers in such a conflict. They will continue to be rich, only marginally less so.

The same is not true in the kind of sustained war on the poor and middle class that American has lived through now for several generations. When someone falls out of the middle class the hardships are very immediate and real. When further hardships fall on the already poor the consequences are frequently fatal. Each year millions more Americans find themselves living at or near the event horizon of an economic black hole that is swallowing their resources. At the literal core of that economic black hole is a tiny percent of a percent of Americans holding hyper concentrated wealth disproportionately in their hands. It this were merely a Star Trek episode the red alert alarm would be sounding, and whichever Captain was at the helm would be trying to enter full warp drive to back away from a pending apocalypse.

And much of the deadliest effects we are experiencing come not at the hands of the super wealthy themselves. They often are too well off to sweat the details involved in making themselves more wealthy. No, the most dangerous work is usually being done by those who work for them, that small army of trusted aids and advisers and hired guns who must perpetually justify their own existence by finding new ways to make their patrons even more wealthy, while also enriching themselves. In a society that by and large uses overt criminality as the yardstick for determining where lines should be drawn, the game plan is to custom write laws and regs to condone and facilitate the "legal" continued transfer of vast wealth to those at the very top of the economic pyramid. It is the way business is done, and it is how our government increasingly functions.

Elizabeth Warren is right. Bold ideas, bold actions, and bold structural changes are needed now, not later. Marshaling our forces to preserve small segments of an imperfect safety net is not the answer, not when the whole circus tent is ablaze. Bring on a wealth tax, bring on higher tax brackets, bring on stock transaction fees and the eradication of special interest loop holes in the tax codes. Nothing less will turn this ship around. We are at red alert, we must engage warp drive.

We have to deal with all of this head on, in the open, with a direct appeal to the American people to intervene. Measured, balanced tones will not penetrate, not when a call to arms is needed. When stolen goods are confiscated and returned to their rightful owners, that is not called Socialism, that is called Justice. And when it comes to putting food on the table, when it comes to healing the sick, caring for the old, educating the young and housing us all, simple justice is what the overwhelming majority of Americans seek. Democrats will do well in 2020 if we have the courage to fight for the people.

Worth remembering: the roots of Al Qaeda go back to the U.S. inserting troops inside Saudi Arabia

Anyone trying to "game out" the ultimate costs to the U.S. of armed conflict with Iran can't confine that ledger to initial military costs involved in "winning", not even if the short and mid term effects on the world economy of the energy disruptions that armed conflict with Iran would trigger get factored into the equation.

Even if, through military action, the U.S. could achieve Bolton's wet dream of complete regime change in Iran, why would anyone think that would reduce rather than increase the use of terror against the U.S. world wide by Shiite extremists angered at U.S. efforts to topple the Iranian theocracy? Where is the "game plan" to counter that?

I think Biden muddled the message that helped give him such a strong launch

The single strongest message conveyed in the prepared video that Biden used to formally announce his run for president was his resolute and unyielding opposition to what Trump has done to America. That launch video wasn't big on policy specifics, but it was huge when it came to "the Resistance." Biden called Trump out in the strongest terms possible, in essence stating that Trump, and all that he stands for, is inherently Un-American. Biden minced no words in identifying Trump as an existential threat to our very Republic. It placed Joe Biden in the forefront of the battle being waged in real time today to preserve and protect our Democracy and all that it stands for. It emphasized Biden's contemporary role in America's politics, facing off against and staring down Donald Trump.

The problem for Biden is that Trump does not rule and threaten America all on his own. He is deeply aided and abetted in all of the damage he is causing by today's national Republican Party, and all Democrats active today know that. Biden's current pitch that he can best reach across the partisan divide undercuts the effectiveness of the message that gave Biden his powerful launch. He compounds that problem by referencing the politics that existed in America generations ago, right after staking a claim on being our foremost partisan warrior in the present, in regards to Donald Trump..

To be clear, I am not here commenting on whether or not Biden is making an accurate point about the path America needs to take long term to restore health to our political system. Even in today's climate, if you go digging deeply in the weeds, one may find some faint signs that someday Republicans may partially be freed from Trump's malevolent spell. But Democrats are not focused on gardening right now. We are instead mobilized to fight a devastating wildfire.

In my opinion Biden stepped on the message that propelled him strongly out of the gate into his large lead in the polls of Democratic candidates for President.

Politicians don't tend to get much credit for slowing down the rate of deterioration

This OP contains sweeping generalities and I know it, but sometimes it is necessary to view a pattern from a distant height in order to make out its outline clearly, and when you do so shades of gray shift toward black or white.

Since the mid seventies there has been, by every account, a massive shift of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the very wealthiest of Americans. Since the mid seventies the ratio of pay separating CEO's from their lowest paid employees has shot through the roof. Since the mid seventies the inflation rate for higher education and for health care has sky rocketed compared to baseline inflation. Since the mid seventies the affordability of basic housing, at least in most major cities, has pushed home ownership increasingly out of reach and rental costs are not hat far behind. Since the mid seventies job security for most workers has virtually vanished, and dependable pensions should be placed on the endangered species list.

The Republican Party, especially since Reagan became president, has virtually without exception kept their foot on the accelerator furthering all these trends. Democrats have been left to ride the brakes. The economic plight of most Americans would be worse were it not for elected Democrats. But Democrats won't be heaped with high praise for keeping a bad situation from becoming even worse.

I know that the difference between America's two major parties is stark. But as long as the long term trend lines continue as they have for decades, a lot of folks absorbed with the daily struggle of keeping their heads above water may not automatically view Democrats as their protectors. I suspect that lies at the root of a lot of non voter apathy.

Let's reserve House oversight hearings for Trump's cabinet and senior staffers

Let's centralize investigation of Trump in an impeachment inquiry. And let the House as a whole continue to pass legislation important to all Americans and continually point a spotlight at the Senate's refusal to consider any of it.

Democrats are willing to do their jobs. We can handle all of it.

And yes when all is said and done I really think it is that straight forward, and that doing the right thing will also serve Democrats best politically.

The most divisive thing possible

...would be letting Trump continue to divide Americans unimpeded until November 2020. And unless he is totally discredited by then, Trump will divide Americans even more after November 2020 by refusing to concede that he legitimately lost that election.

Low rating hearings featuring buckets of chicken or witnesses who were most relevant 45 years ago are not enough to impede or discredit this President. A very slow boil of continuing incriminating revelations aired in 5 minute segments on cable TV will not change much in the way of underlying dynamics.

Trump does his most damage when he is free to concentrate on offense.

Supporting someone mostly because you think that's who others will support is inherently risky

I define that as hollow support, and hollow support lends itself to a higher potential for collapse. Firm support is built on a strong conviction that candidate X is absolutely the right person to become President. Firm support is resilient and not easily knocked off balance, and it's certainty and passion helps lead others to ultimately reach a similar conclusion. Supporting someone who one believes others can be persuaded to support is chasing a will o' the wisp. Soft support, essentially by definition, can and often does quickly erode. It melts under fire, it can be punctured by political barbed wire leading it to rapid deflation.

I want to see evidence of who can excite potential followers. I want to know who people believe in and why. I want to see who can win grudging respect from critics, and then turn that grudging respect into outright support. I do not believe that a least common denominator candidate will be our next President.

I am open to believing that any of our first tier candidates, and many of those below that level of current support, can emerge as the person who will rally voters to actively believe in her or his leadership. But I am very wary of arguments which, at this early stage, center on who is most electable rather than on who should be elected.

No, Trump does not "win" if the Senate refises to remove him from office.

Trump wins if the House refuses to indict him. The public expects Republicans to fight tooth and nail to defend Trump as their "Dear Leader". The public expects Democrats to fight tooth and nail to expose Trump as constitutionally unfit for office. The public knows that Republicans rarely blink in a showdown. They are not as sure about Democrats. All if it, impeachment and the subsequent Senate trial, is a prelude to the finals, which will be the Fall 2020 presidential elections. It is all a key part of making the case for whether or not Trump deserves to be returned to office, and indirectly but almost as important it is all a part of demonstrating which political party has the strength needed to lead the United States in a troubled world.

The public assumes Democrats will attack Trump and that Republicans will defend him. What they don't know is the literal evidence against Trump, since Barr did everything in his power to mislead the public about the content of Mueller's report. Since Democrats control the House we can be assured that the strongest possible case for removing Trump from office will be presented, if they so choose, to the American people in the highest public profile forum possible, formal Impeachment hearings. An Impeachment inquest is to a Congressional oversight hearing what the World Series is to a regular season face off between the exact same two teams. The same star pitchers take the mound for each side regardless, but the viewership for a World Series game dwarfs that for a mid season match up. The case against Trump can be made in an impeachment hearing like it can be in no other forum.

And when the trial moves to the Senate the Republicans will be utterly unable to undo the damage done to Trump. All they can do is what their power allows them, which is to refuse to convict. They can refuse to follow the evidence to a natural conclusion, but they can not obscure that evidence any longer once the impeachment hearings have fully unveiled it. And that is the set up to the 2020 elections. Which party defended our constitution, and which party undermined it?

Trump has shown an ability to win by losing because he never shies away from battle or accepts defeat. He just keeps pushing and that to many people's minds makes him a strong leader. He lost the battle with Congress over his Wall, but that did not cost him his image as a fighter. He is pushing for it anyway, doing everything in his perceived power to win regardless of congressional defeat. It would be the same for Democrats if we stood firm in defending the Constitution even if Republicans refused to uphold it. We do not lose if impeachment ultimately fails in the Senate. We then take it to the people in 2020, the fight goes on. Democrats only lose if, despite the evidence and the power that we control, we don't even bring the impeachment fight to the Senate.

I think the alleged conventional wisdom is wrong. I think Dems retake the Senate BY Impeaching Trump

Though Democrats almost certainly would have the votes to Impeach Trump in the House, barring a stunning turn of events (Barr pun not intended) there are not enough Republicans in the Senate willing to face the anger of Trump's core Republican followers to remove Trump from office. That part of conventional wisdom I agree with. Where I differ is on the implications. I think that while most Senate Republicans would be damned if they voted to convict Trump, the ones who occupy Senate seats that Democrats have any chance of winning would be even more damned if they don't. That scenario, I believe, opens up our best real path to retaking the Senate in 2020.

Trump will not become any more popular with his core base than he already is now. They will not become any more riled up to defend his presidency in 2020 than they already are now. Sure Trump will claim that his impeachment is the deep state moving to remove the legitimate president, but Trump already makes that claim without it. He already asserts that there was a coup attempt against him.

Trump's softer support, the 10 to 15% of voters who are willing to consider voting for him without being died in the wool MAGA true believers, are the ones at stake. And right now the Trump/ Barr strategy is working with them. They will neither read the Mueller Report nor pay much attention to what they will regard as " run of the mill" congressional oversight committee meetings on Trump. Barr already programmed their "bottom line conclusions" for them. No charges were brought against the President, and as matters currently stand, no ground to impeach him have formally been asserted by Congress. They are ripe for believing that partisan political calculations drive Democratic demands that the Mueller Report must be "further investigated". Trump can sell them his line that Democrats just want a "do-over" because they are unsatisfied with the Mueller Reports conclusions which found Trump "guilty of nothing."

The clear counter to Trump's political propaganda regarding the Mueller Report is to state that Mueller has already presented Congress with sufficient evidence to warrant an impeachment inquiry now. That is not a do-over, that instead is taking the logical next step based on the evidence already established by Mueller. And THAT will rivet public attention on the evidence found in Mueller's Report, while providing Democrats with the strongest possible constitutional grounds for demanding and making public additional evidence.

Almost all of the political experts agree that the reason why Trump has a real chance of being reelected is because most economic indicators remain strong, and when that is the case an incumbent president tends to be reelected. That helps explain why many among the subset of Trump voters who find him personally unappealing might be willing to vote for him again. That is also why Trump is not polling at his lows now, even though the redacted Mueller Report has already been out for weeks.

We can forget and write off the type of voter who attends a Trump rally, but not all potential Trump voters wear MAGA hats. Blessed with an at least stable economy (inherited from Obama and juiced up with an obscene tax cut for the rich) Trump enters the 2020 election with a strong talking point in his favor since second term attempt elections are usually referendums on the incumbent. What goes against Trump is the discomfort many feel with the way he has governed, with his unpresidential, abusive and divisive style. Democrats need to drive up Trump's unfavorables in order to win in 2020. More Americans need to see him as the repulsive lying and undemocratic grifter that he is. Widely televised and intently watched impeachment hearings can and will do just that.

Then when the ball is tossed to the Republican Senate, let them go on record standing by Trump, and then let that become an election issue in all of the Senate seats that are up in 2020. Outside of the Republican core, which is already in the bag for them, let's see how voters react to the sickly partisan Republican show of unity for a deeply unethical and dangerous to America's institutions President that the impeachment hearings will have fully exposed. Let it be Republicans who are shown playing partisan games with the U.S. Constitution, not poll driven Democrats with wet fingers in the air gauging how upholding the Constitution will or will not work to their electoral advantage.
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