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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,352

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Something it took me a long time to fully appreciate

In order for a society, ours for example, to not totally go off the rails it isn't so much necessary that most people firmly believe in the right things for the right reasons. It is necessary that most people pay at least lip service to the right things, out of fear of negative personal repercussions if they don't. Those negative repercussions can be big like the possibility of being imprisoned, they can be middling like the possibility of losing an election, or they can be relatively small, like the fear of community scorn, but it is the fear of some level of backlash that keeps a lot of people from openly acting deplorably.

That's what kept a lot of racists closeted. That's what led many with authoritarian instincts to vow fidelity to democratic principles. They believed that most of those around them opposed their personal views, or at least they suspected that most might disdain their views should they become known, so they were cautious about how they tried to advance them, if they even tried to at all. That gave the breathing space needed for our society to evolve in positive ways over the last 70 or so years, to slowly become more inclusive from one generation to the next.

Trump blew all of that to hell. It can't be overestimated the amount of damage that's been done by having an openly authoritarian bigot hold the office of the presidency. Trump has empowered hate in America, he's shown that openly appealing to feral fears can be richly rewarded with success. More to the current point though, he has shown, so far at least, that you can get away with all of that. Regardless of whether Trump regains the White House, Trumpism will remain a dangerous and potent force in America if Trump himself is not finally held accountable for the harm he has caused in his life time. Whatever chaos we as a nation might face if Trump ever goes on trial for his crimes, it will be ten times worse if he doesn't.


Republicans wanted pardons for two reasons.

They are guilty of crimes, that's obvious, but more to the point they feared Democrats would behave more like they would once we took over the government. They feared prosecution for their crimes .They expected to be held accountable for them. The worm may yet turn but so far Republicans in Congress haven't even been indicted for ignoring lawful subpoenas. They expected to be punished for their crimes. They would have thrown the book at Democrats if the situation was reversed.

When I was 5 years old we didn't play "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a Tiger by the Toe"

We said "catch a (N-Word) by the toe" instead, all of us white kids did, and we never gave it a thought. We weren't aware of our racism at the moment, we were just playing a game. This was back around 1955 in Queens County NYC in my case, but my partner who is two years younger has the same memory from her growing up in Orange County California.

Racism too often saturates cultures when it isn't being consciously countered and opposed. I don't remember how the change happened for me but at some point as a kid I began counting out with Tigers instead. I wasn't aware that I was not being racist by using Tiger instead of the N word, it wasn't making a political statement to revise the word used. It just "became" the new standard. Or at least that's how my limited memory of that part of my childhood has it, but in retrospect it's obvious to me that somewhere somehow some people effected that change without me being aware of any "controversy." I still knew absolutely nothing about race relations in America, the change just seemed to happen. The change didn't just happen.

Overt racism became less socially acceptable because some people fought to make it so, and because of that, one small but insidious self perpetuating piece of the unconscious indoctrination of young white children into the mindset of racism was defused for me during my childhood.That is where the war is really won or lost. The front lines today are being fought over "All men (sic) are created equal" vs "The Great Replacement Theory", over "We are a nation of immigrants" vs "our cherished threatened white identity."

And there are always children paying attention.

Lots of brave cops have confronted shooters and saved lives. Some have died trying to

Some cops are also racist sadists, and some are cowards. The average cop is neither a sadist nor a coward. The average cop moves toward danger even though some over react (with potentially lethal consequences to others) while doing so. Cops are a part of many problems, but except in isolated instances, school shootings aren't usually one of them. Much more often than not, when it comes to mass shootings, cops are "the good guys with guns." "Good guys with guns" have a key role to play in confronting those who attempt mass murder. As sickening and horrifying as the failings of the Uvalde police force has been, that can't be allowed to become the central focus of current outrage.The problem is the almost childish expectation too many have bought into that usually " good guys with guns" can save us from ourselves.

Cops rarely protect the public against mass shooters, not before numerous casualties occur. AR 15s with large capacity ammo magazines kill far too many, far too quickly, far too effectively, for a few more blue uniform wearing officers with pistols to provide the answer. Decades of a rampant gun fetish, fortified by decades of logic defying public policy decisions made by rabid state legislatures across the country, sanctioned by a ideologically captive right wing Supreme Court, can not be countered by adding better trained, better led cops to local police forces and school districts, or by stationing them inside every supermarket.

We must not be thrown off the trail. Cowardly cops are not the issue here.

Every 4 years those "young voters" we've so often been dismissive of here in the past

...move 4 years closer to becoming middle aged. The very same youth who, not infrequently, were criticized by many on DU for being "apolitical" and/or "disengaged" and/or "unreliable", are inexorably moving toward becoming the center of gravity of our society. Though the march of time is obvious, it's repercussions, especially politically, can evade those in prior generations who had grown accustomed to "being in charge." Looking back on my own youth I think that was the case. Most established leaders of that time (the 60's/70's) were hard pressed to imagine the approaching "changing of the guard" that would disrupt their accustomed ways of "doing business" in all realms. Most of those who could visualize a possible sea change coming saw it as a threatening prospect, one to fight against.

The Democratic Party is the major political coalition in America that is most open to change. I take it for granted that Republicans resist it, but we have blind spots too. I think it's human nature to project the present onto the future, even for those whose basic instinct isn't to reach back into the past. So called, at the time, conservative Democrats were a powerful force back when I was young. Our party was much more dominated by straight white males then than it is today. Often they gave lip service to inclusiveness, for example, but those words were seldom fully backed up by their own staffing decisions, or the composition of leadership ranks. Today, though no battle is ever fully won, the Democratic Party has embraced and is implementing inclusiveness, as reflected by President Biden's Cabinet and Federal Court appointments. That was yesteryear's frontier. What will be different, in tone or nature, about the Democratic Party of tomorrow? To what extent are we driving using a rear view mirror? What changes, what shifting priorities, now are in the wind?

If there is a generation gap effecting the Democratic Party, I am part of a former wave. From that perspective it is hard to see the contours of the future, much as I might want to embrace it. But it is clear to me that there are major generational "divisions", if not quite "divides" , playing out right below the surface of the status quo. All kinds of polling show that Americans are increasingly divided in their beliefs by age as much as they are by any other demographic, including the differences between rural vs urban attitudes that are getting so much notice now. I think those differences may ultimately prove to be as consequential as the changes that were breaking between the late 50's and the early 70's. Generational shifts are among the most difficult for any established leadership to get a handle on. They too often get written off as reflective of the fleeting passions of youth, and overall naivety.

Democratic Underground, with notable exceptions, tilts toward older activists in its demographics. The national leadership of the Democratic Party does the same. Hopefully we are keeping enough ears to the ground to pick up on ongoing seismic shifts, because "The times, they are (again) changing."



A slim majority of a Court w/ 3 members appointed by twice impeached POTUS who lost the popular vote

is reversing a 7-2 majority ruling in Roe V. Wade that stood for 49 years and which was reaffirmed when the question was revisited by the Supreme Court decades after the first ruling. Roe not only established precedent, it established it twice. In the 49 years since, yes, times have changed. The public has gone from being closely divided over safe and legal abortions, to favoring them by a two to one margin. This stands in stark contrast to another famous Supreme Court reversal Republicans are always quick to cite, that of the Dred Scott ruling. The SC reversing the Scott precedent was fully in line with how public thinking had evolved during the intervening decades. The public understood that the Dread Scott case was wrongly decided, the Supreme Court was catching up to the public. Now though it is fighting the public, taking away a legal right that is overwhelmingly supported .

There is nothing more "Supreme" about the current Supreme Court Justices than those who sat on the Court 49 years ago. There is nothing more learned about them, nothing that makes them less susceptible to a faulty analysis than those who were part of the 7 to 2 "bipartisan" majority that established Roe V Wade. Alito now writes that "Roe was egregiously wrong from the start" That's called his opinion. Opinions differ.They almost always do, unanimity is rare on the Suprrme Court. The current Conservative SC majority subscribes to a different belief system than that of previous courts. Their minority view is now being imposed on America simply because they (because of the naked power plays of Mitch McConnell) now control enough votes to do so.In doing so they are making a mockery of the role the Supreme Court plays in America There is no such thing as "settled law" anymore when it differs from what the far right wants, whenever they have sufficient votes to impose their own view instead.

It really is no different from how the Republican Party currently views elections; when they win all is legal and proper, when they lose they will use any tactic they can employ to reverse those results, up to and including decertifying elections they can't legitimately win, and substituting the will of state legislators or their congressional majorities for the will of the voters.

Only one major party believes in the democracy that generations of Americans fought and died for to establish and protect.

Long term outlook for Russia is now bleak, but it had been making major Geo-Political advances

This is pure speculation of course, but it makes me think that Putin really may be battling cancer, which could mean in his mind that he was running out of time to leave his mark on history. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, more so than not, events had been breaking Putin's way. The UK left the EU. Relations among NATO allies were frayed, and even though Biden had been making all the right moves to undo Trump's damage, our allies were looking over his shoulder at what might happen next should Trump regain the presidency. The U.S. was no longer thought of in the same way as a long term dependable ally. Our Republican party has gone off the rails, possibly for all time. American media empires, not limited to FOX, had become increasingly reliable mouthpieces for Russian propaganda.

Authoritarian leaning right wing parties and even governments were on the rise in Europe. German dependency on Russia for natural gas was about to be locked in for another decade with the imminent opening of a new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that bypassed transit through Ukraine. Ties between Russia and China have grown stronger than they have been in many decades, and China is an emerging super power to rival the U.S. Collectively that all represented a huge amount of progress for Putin's Geo-Political agenda. He largely had gotten away with a belligerent military strategy that expanded Russia's international military presence through aggressive, but incremental, advances. His full scale invasion of Ukraine now was a huge gamble that put most of those gains at significant risk. Now Russia is cut off from most international investments and new technology. That gas pipeline has been shelved and is unlikely to ever open while Putin remains in power. The push for a transition away from fossil fuel, Russia's bread and butter, has gotten a major boost which will hurt Russia in coming years. Putin's allies in Europe and America have been forced onto the defensive. NATO is strengthening and possibly growing as countries like Sweden and Finland reconsider becoming a part of it.

Has the timing and hence course of history in large part been determined by one man's sense of impending mortality?

I'm reminded of Kathy Griffin...

By and large, society rewards comedians for being edgy. They get blow back too, and even hard core detractors, for skating close to the edge, but when they get it "just right" mostly they get fame/notoriety (which of course are related), bigger audiences, and commercial success for their ability to throw us off balance, even shock us, with their words and/or images.

Sometimes they clearly go too far. A strong case can be made that Kathy Griffin did so with her beheaded Trump image. And a strong case can be made that Chris Rock did so with his GI Jane joke. Those are high profile examples, but comedians "go too far" every day of the week in comedy clubs and talk radio broadcasts. Mostly they "get away with it." Sometimes they don't. Our culture incentivizes "shock talk". When it goes off the rails all of the blame shouldn't always rest on comedians who increasingly work with very little margin for error.

I don't know the answer, there probably isn't one. The closest I can come is when people fuck up they should own it, both those who hurt with their words and those who in some way overreact to them. And the best resolution, when earned, is forgiveness.

Thoughts about Ukraine. People are so frigging tribal, is that good or bad?

Stripped down to its core, tribalism is just a way of defining "Us vs Them", not necessarily in oppositional terms, but definitely as a way of defining who does and does not belong to a group. And "belonging" carries with it a lot of emotional baggage, some of it positive, some negative.

Americans right now overwhelming identify with the Ukrainian people. I think that is true across all racial lines. I'm white, and acutely aware that white nationalism as a toxic strain infects way too many Caucasians. As a result it's obvious that some whites here have shown minimal at best empathy for the horrific plight that has befallen the peoples of many nations in recent years, be they Syrians, or Haitians, Afghans or Burmese. The darker their features the more "other" victims of violence, political suppression, and natural catastrophes often seem to many white Americans. Of course race isn't the only variable defining "otherness." Factors, like religion, culture, and even political ideology play a role too, often a large one.

Most Americans are at least partially Euro centered in their world views. We share, however imperfectly, what are widely believed to be positive values with people in many European nations, like a basic belief in democracy, free speech, and civil rights in general. Values too can be a basis for tribalism. Clearly, to an extent, a sense of shared values with the people of Ukraine is a part of the powerful empathetic response Americans are now showing to their plight.That empathetic response is unquestionably a good thing. It manifests in other European countries as well, where thousands of families have opened up their houses to provide shared living space with Ukrainian refugees who they have never even met in person. Again, a very good thing. But how does that compare to the empathy being shown to refugees from violence in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria?

Again, there are some other variables at play. Historically, for a lot of reasons, well situated people have often been numb to the effects of grinding poverty on others, and civil wars of all sorts frequently don't trigger the same type of shock and outrage as an across border invasion by one nation into another. Still, the way Americans as a whole, and I'll admit it - me too, are emotionally responding to the struggle of Ukrainians now is palpably different than it has been to the fate of the citizens of other lands who have suffered greatly in recent years.

I see young mothers, with bright dye still streaked in their hair, fleeing bombardment, pulling some rolling luggage in one hand, tugging a young child wearing a furry stuffed animal shaped backpack with their other, and I instinctively react with "how can this be happening to them?!?" Yes, I identify closely with these people, it happens below the rational level, it is a gut reaction, and it is incredibly strong.

I'm pretty much a card carrying bleeding heart liberal. I have strong gut reactions to the suffering of all people, regardless of how similar they seem to me on the surface. I know we share a common humanity, and that matters greatly to me. But I won't lie. Something amplifies the experience when the victims I am looking at seem like my friends and neighbors, when scenes of the cities they are fleeing look like the ones I spend time in every month. I don't know if I should feel saddened that this even factors into my reflexive emotional response, or gladdened that it helps viscerally move me (not to mention other Americans) to my very core to care passionately about this particular crime against humanity

RE: Putin's internal propaganda. If Ukraine poses such a national security threat to Russia...

enough of a threat to initiate a "special combat operation" against it using close to 200,000 "peacekeepers", then why is combat only taking place inside of Ukraine? Why would a "Nazi controlled government" that had been seriously threatening Russia suddenly allow almost all of its cities be besieged without taking any "special combat operations" directed against Russia, inside Russia, in return? If Ukraine is too weak to take any offensive actions against Russia while the very existence of its current government is gravely threatened, how can it represent a threat that had to be immediately dealt with by a 200,000 member "peacekeeping force?"

It is amazing what utter crap Russia's state media is ramming down the public's throat. It is amazing that they still have some success in peddling it. How much longer can that work?
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