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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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We can argue over who deserves the label, but does anyone still deny there are Corporate Democrats?

I'll try to be fair about this and concede upfront that the way in which elections are financed in America makes any politician who wants to remain financially competitive during election cycles susceptible to outsized influence from corporate lobbyists. I'll even go a step further and acknowledge that many Democrats, who regularly receive above average levels of support from corporate special interests, do still strive to balance the needs of their constituents with those of their corporate sponsors. In so doing they still usually do a noticeably better job of addressing the needs of those truly in need than do Republicans similarly showered with money from corporate lobbyists.

Taking corporate money does not necessarily make one a corporate Democrat. Taking huge hauls of corporate money, at levels way above whatever is "the norm", from specific special interests that clearly expect some degree of loyalty in return, IMO earns one the label "Corporate Democrat." Personally, I considered Joe Lieberman a Corporate Democrat, and I consider Kyrsten Sinema a Corporate Democrat. In some, perhaps even in many cases, I will still work to help someone who I consider a Corporate Democrat win reelection in a November election. All things considered, in some cases I might even support one in a primary over someone "more progressive". But I have lost patience with those who deride the very existence of Corporate Democrats. Yes they dwell inside the Democratic Party's "Big Tent." That doesn't negate what they are.

Sooner is better than later, but best is better than sooner. I can wait a couple of weeks if need be

That doesn't mean I'm not frustrated and inpatient. I refresh my screen ten times an hour looking for new updates on the status of congressional negotiations. I know that the torturous slow process of getting Build Back Better over the finish line doesn't help Democrats. And it is human nature to look for someone to blame when things don't go the way we want or need them to. I have my preferred targets, yours may or may not differ, but ultimately all of that pales before the enormity of what is being done now in Congress, under President Biden's leadership, to uplift the American people with tangible core support that can and will transform millions of lives for the better.

In my own lifetime historic major positive changes have usually come about only after prolonged flirtations with brinkmanship. Obamacare is a vivid recent case in point. Even more recently, the struggle to save Obamacare from Trump's lethal assaults against it was a similar nail biter. Going back to my childhood, despite large Democratic majorities in Congress, the fate of LBJ's Civil Right's agenda was very much in doubt until the very end, with strong resistance from many southern Democrats making ultimate passage doubtful. Most Americans though soon forget these epic struggles, what they live with and long remember are the results.

And when I say that "best is better than sooner", I am not defining "best" by pie in the sky metrics. For me "best" means the best that can be obtained under current circumstances. Those who know me here know me as a self identified "progressive", but you won't find me "crying about spilled milk" over items left out of President Biden's Build Back Better framework. I fought for decades to further all of the objectives that the original 3.5 Trillion dollar legislation advanced, AND MORE. I trust President Biden however, and he's been up to his armpits in all of the congressional negotiations. Now it is time to lock in a win, on the terms that he has determined are possible. If an agreement can be reached within days to improve that framework further, great. If not, so be it.

But announcing a framework for a deal does not lock in a win on those terms. The announcement of a proposed framework spoke of "expectations" of full Democratic support, not of "commitments" of full Democratic support. For all of the focus some have placed on congressional Democratic "progressives" needing iron clad commitments that congressional Democratic "moderates" will support the final actual wording in a Build Back Better bill, Senator Joe Manchin refuses to commit to it also until he is certain that the final wording meets with his approval. House progressives have gone so far as to formally endorse President Biden's framework. The Senate Democratic holdouts have not. As matters now stand, we do not yet have a deal. But we are well within reach of one because all sides in this prolonged standoff are now strongly motivated to successfully "land this plane." Call me a cynic if you must, but I doubt that would be true were the fate of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill not directly linked to the fate of the Build Back Better Bill.

It is not wild leftist rhetoric to point out that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has extensive corporate support. Corporate America wants that bill passed, because it is consistent with their own economic self interests. They have lobbied in favor of that legislation. Meanwhile they have lobbied against major provisions of the Build Back Better Bill. Of course this is no coincidence. The only reason why the so called "hard" infrastructure bill passed the Senate with Republican support is because most of the elements that corporate America found objectionable n President Biden's agenda for America were segregated out of that bill and crammed into the Build Back Better Bill which corporate lobbyists were then free to focus their fire on,

Even if Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema are currently inclined toward backing President Biden's proposed framework, how many free spending lobbyists would cram into their offices with last second proposed "revisions" to the Build Back Better Bill, one minute after they secured final passage of the infrastructure bill, if the two pieces of legislation should become "de-linked?" THE DETAILS MATTER. Every ten billion dollars cut from the final Build Back Better Bill will leave tens of thousands of American families in poverty. Every subsidized housing unit cut will leave another family homeless. Every reform to make health insurance more affordable that gets further trimmed will mean more unnecessary deaths.

No matter how you look at it we are in the end game now. Both bills will come up for final passage soon, if not in days than in weeks. Sure sooner is better than later, but not at the expense of lives. I accept President Biden's revised agenda. Now let's make sure that we can deliver all of it.

The Climate is the Clincher for me

At "Code Red" the stakes literally can not be higher, and there is NO time to lose in stabilizing the environment at a level that will not be truly catastrophic. I have no moral right to hold the climate of our planet hostage to further policy demands at this point, no matter how important they may be to myself or any Americans in need. The environment now is larger than any individual's lifetime, and bigger than any one nation in importance.

I am proud of the progressives in Congress for playing hardball right back at the obstructionists in our caucuses. I have no doubt whatsoever that by so doing they salvaged much of great importance in President Biden's agenda that would otherwise have been lost. I'll go further though and say I will support Progressives still withholding their immediate support for the Infrastructure Bill if they have not received sufficient assurances that the Framework President Biden has announced will in fact be enacted. Obviously I am in no way able to pass judgement on the certainty of assurances that I am not privy to.

The media narrative will flip again after Biden signs both bills, which I expect will happen.

In far less than a year Biden has already gone from being a transformational president to a hapless one unable to control his own party, according to pundits. That narrative will quickly be replaced by one depicting Biden as a master negotiator, the only man on the planet with the ability to pass highly consequential legislation through Congress with wafer thin majorities of fractious Democrats. It won't matter what the legislation actually contains, the media focuses on process, not content.

It will be a nice relief, but that won't last more than a month or two before they start tearing into Biden again over God knows what next time. That's how our media rolls.

The Constitution never enshrined Democratic ideals, nor does the GOP. Its a divide as old as America

In the hazy rear view mirror of patriotic nostalgia the two foremost founding documents of the United States can almost seem indistinguishable. but each one marched to the beat of a different drum. At its core the Declaration of Independence addressed the concept of justice, and the complementary repudiation of injustice. In so doing it proclaimed adherence to moral ideals, whereas the U.S. Constitution was a blueprint for power sharing that established a legal framework for America while proclaimed full allegiance to the rule of law.

The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence affirms that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation". The next passage of the Declaration defines the cause of the American Revolution in stating "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Powerful ideals that are easier stated than achieved.

Those ideals have played a key role in propelling the dialectic of American history, but they have also been contested. The sometimes opposing but also heralded definition of America is that ours is a nation governed by laws, not men, and that American exceptionalism is rooted in the concept that no one here is above the law. Perhaps, but laws themselves are amoral. Laws are written my men (here the gender pronoun is still mostly accurate) and often tailored to further the self interests of those very same men or their powerful sponsors. The U.S. Constitution said nothing about "all men being created equal", it defined Negroes as 3/5ths human for census purposes. Slavery has been since been abolished through amendments to the Constitution, and women have been given the right to vote etc. But the electoral college hasn't been abolished. American "Democracy" does not reward the presidency to the person for whom most Americans vote. When "Bush beat Gore" many Americans found it unsettling that the loser of the popular vote could none the less become President. Increasingly most Americans are numbed now to that occurrence, dutifully keeping score of winners and losers using the anti-democratic rules embedded in our Constitution, with the popular vote an afterthought if thought of at all.

Today's GOP adheres to a vision of America that is not rooted in democratic ideals, nor guided by a quest for Justice, and in so doing builds on centuries old American precedent to arrive at their current perspective: Any legislation deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court is appropriate to pursue if deemed in the interests of those who have the power to prevail under rules laid out in the U.S. Constitution. So, for one timely example, if under one interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, a majority of lawmakers in a State Legislature decertifies the slate of Presidential electors (under whatever "legal" pretense) chosen by the voters of that state, and instead certifies an "alternate" slate of electors, that action is fully constitutional if the Supreme Court says it is And that is how power should be wielded in the Republican version of America. All is fair in love and legislation, Make sure you control the courts, abstract concepts of justice be damned. First you legislate the strike zone to the advantage of the pitchers and batters on your team, then you chose the umpires who call the balls and strikes, and then you can "play by the rules."

Mitch McConnell sees nothing anti-American in how he plays the game. It adheres to his vision of America

Remember the 35 day Dec. 2018 - January 2019 government shut down, and who the public blamed?

Trump was insisting on funding for his wall and forced a government shut down over it. There's a good overview on the prolonged impasse here:

The resulting chaos and disruptions in the government ended up hurting Trump and Republicans, who took the brunt of the blame for the shutdown and its consequences. Or did it really? By the middle of January 2019 Trump's approval rating was at its lowest point since February 2018. A Washington Post–ABC News poll published on January 13, 2019, found that a larger number of Americans blamed Trump and congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats for the shutdown. A PBS NewsHour–Marist poll found that on January 15, 2019, a majority of Americans thought that President Trump was to blame for the shutdown.

A few months later the entire crisis was in America's rear view mirror. While Gallop showed Trump with an approval to disapproval score of 37/59 for the week of January 21- 27 2019, by April 17 - 30 his Gallop approval to disapproval rating had rebounded to 46/50. One year after the trashing that public approval polls gave Trump in January 2019 (or to be more precice in polling that took place between 1/16 - 1/29/20) Gallop had Trump with an approval to disapproval rating of 49/50. At no time during his presidency did Trump receive an approval number higher than 49%.

We are over a year out from the 2022 Congressional midterm elections. We are over three years out from the next Presidential election. A snap shot of public opinion taken today while uncertainties over the fate of President Biden's legislative agenda for America dominates the headlines, is essentionally meaningless.

Better negotiating with Joe Manchin to get things passed than have to count on Susan Collins

For better and for worse, that kind of sums it up.

Trump has that "war is peace / hate is love" propaganda ploy down to an orange "T"

I remember when he flipped the term "fake news" on it's head at the begging of his assault on truth. Initially that phrase described Trump fabrications. But "Stop the Steal" is the perfect example. Those who rallied around that call worked to steal a fair election. Seditiomists are patriots. Anyone who honors their constitutional oath is a traitor. Disarming against a pandemic means defending freedom. Saving America means destroying America as we know it.

This is about much more than words. It is perpetrating a delusion among thugs and their fellow travelers that those who smear feces inside the halls of Congress hold the high moral ground, that those who plot a coup against it are upholding our democracy, that the victims of white oppression pose a threat to racial justice. This propaganda not only justifies hate, it demands it in the name of love perverted.

And when actual patriots warn that democracy in America is under attack, those who are actually attacking it feel a contact high as the self identified defenders of all that is good in America, including the democracy they subvert. They will not be deterred by efforts to defuse American extremism, they are encouraged by a failure to confront them directly. There are parts of this country where those forces are strong, where their delusions and hatred predominates. It will not be an easy struggle to defeat them, but it only gets harder if it isn't fully engaged, sooner rather than later.

The people who showed adequate public alarm about Trump last year (aside from Democratic activists)

...tended to be mainstream well established political figures on the right. Yes, I know, that statement needs to be qualified, in several ways. For one thing it is clearly a blatant generality, with many exceptions. Beyond that the most obvious qualifications center on the words adequate and public. There were lots of political figures, both insiders and observers, who knew last summer that Trump posed a grave and existential thereat to our democracy, who either only expressed those views in private, or who used much more moderated phrases in public at that time. Others became increasingly more alarmed and outspoken after election day, when the significance of Trump's maneuvers to overturn the election became more evident.

Again, lots of people, including our Democratic leadership, spoke about varied serious threats that Trump posed to America, dating back to the 2016 campaign. Very few though saw the real potential of a coup in 2020/21, or the literal short term dismemberment of our Democratic Republic. And if if they did they didn't use terms like that in public. You know who did though, aside from some grassroots Democratic activists? Some who personally knew Trump well, like Michael Cohen and Mary Trump, which probably is why their warnings were so dire and early.

Another group who refused to pull their punches or mute their warnings, was is in some ways much more significant : Republican insiders. I'm talking about leading "Never Trumpers", many of whom long felt as at home inside the inner workings of the Republican Party as they did in their personal family house. In particular I am thinking of Steve Schmidt, but there were many others like him. They had front row seats to how quickly Donald Trump was hollowing out the Republican Party, like a parasitic entity consuming its host. It is one thing for a sociopathic despot to win the presidency once, before his true nature is sufficiently revealed to those who preferred not to see, until they absolutely had to. Some Trump voters might fit into that category. But top elected Republicans and Party officials never had the luxury of harboring delusions about who Trump really is. They knew exactly who he was, they literally rubbed shoulders with him, but still gambled that they could contain him. And when they lost that gamble they acquiesced to all of it, the hate, the narcissism, the incompetency and greed. And when that narcissism metastasized into a lust for autocratic rule, they meekly fell in line rather than lose any remaining last shred of their grip on power.

Most of the national media was just adjusting to the unseemly necessity of labeling the President of the United States a liar when a few Republican insiders were already warning all who would listen that Trump was destroying not just our democratic traditions, but our democracy itself. Many inside politics were accustomed to taking with a pound of salt the so called "ravings" of leftist cable TV commentators, but this was something else. This warning came from inside the "Republican House."

I think we must acknowledge, show respect for and give thanks to the role that "Never Trumpers" have played in the ongoing fight to save our democracy. People like them made it easier for people like Anderson Cooper to start openly talking about Trump's past and future coup attempts (in words that are no longer veiled) as early as he did, and that could not have come a day too soon.

Trump boasted about using tax breaks to pay next to nothing. Duckworth used a veterans benefit.

Presented as some kind of scandal. Fox News writer Dom Calicchio wrote, in a Sunday column, that Tammy Duckworth had not paid property tax on her Illinois home since 2015. True, she utilized a tax benefit available to military veterans. She lost both of her legs in combat service to America. Contrast that story to this one

"Donald Trump brags about 'brilliant' use of tax laws, which helped him skirt paying them for years

That's a New York Daily News headline from 2016, but you can find a dozen similar stories about Trump in countless media sources. Here is the story link:

Here is a snipped:

"I have brilliantly used those laws," Trump continued, to make good on a "fiduciary responsibility to pay no more taxes than is legally required."

"Or to put another way, to pay as little taxes as legally possibly," he said.

The comments were Trump's first public response to a New York Times report published Saturday night that reviewed multiple pages of his 1995 tax returns.

Trump, the returns showed according to the newspaper, declared a loss of almost $1 billion — and may have skirted federal income taxes for 18 years.

Then there is this:
"NYT: Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017"

Today's Republicans are the standard bearers for "having no shame".

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