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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,502

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The House January 6th Committee is Responsible for Turning the Tide

And by tide I mean: The Tide, as in "the tide of history." I thought twice about whether that is too bold a claim to make, and concluded, "Nah."

On the world stage the United States of America is currently without question the foremost force associated with the concept of "The Rule of Law", in a centuries old ongoing struggle by "the people" to curtail the power of monarchs and the like. But that by itself says too little. Dictatorships have laws too, and dictators use them quite effectively to rule. What makes the American Experiment in Democracy so important is the corollary concept; that "No one is above the law." Donald J Trump came perilously close to making a mockery of that.

Trump took a crowbar to the machinery of our Democracy, and the January 6th Committee a) effectively documented virtually all of Trump's efforts at institutional sabotage, and b) showcased it to brilliant effect in the glare of an unblinking public spotlight focused like a laser on it.

I will always believe that the work of the 1/6 Committee stiffened both the spine and resolve of those within the U.S. Department of Justice who are tasked with making the call whether to prosecute the former President for any number of potential crimes. They had/have to weigh the risks inherent in either seeking an indictment of a former POTUS, or turning the page instead, leaving it to historians to argue if legal inaction was ill guided. If they/had they chosen the latter, the America those future historians would have inhabited would differ greatly (IMHO) from the one we still live in today, in ways that would have set back the cause of freedom internationally for decades to come.

The January 6th Committee put the fear of "The Law" into a number of key witnesses to (and in some cases participants in) Donald Trumps acts of treason. Prior to the 1/6 Committee's disciplined, and ultimately very public probe, conventional wisdom for many of those figures was simply to lie low and allow it all to blow over, either that or to bluster outrageous lies to the media, never under any oath, without fear of perjury or related charges. As more and more witnesses came in to testify before the 1/6 Committee however, in many cases no doubt only to avoid possible Contempt of Congress charges, others felt compelled to also, if for no other reason than to cover their own asses as the true narrative of Trump's insurrection began to emerge.

All of this fed a growing public perception that Trump and his most rabid MAGA allies did indeed represent a threat to our Democracy. That in turn shifted public perceptions of what was at stake in the 2022 mid-term elections, helping Democrats secure a historically positive outcome for a Party in their position, holding both the presidency and both houses of Congress, under a first term president in uncertain economic times. It significantly contributed to the defeat, nation wide, of a wide slate of high profile Trump promoted candidates for office. And THAT in turn did irreparable damage to the Teflon coating Trump cultivated to enforce his role as the Republican king maker, exposing him as an Emperor with No (or at least moth eaten) Clothes.

I will never know with certainty how heavily, if at all, a fear of triggering off massive social unrest with a potential Trump prosecution, has weighed on our Department of Justice. I do know with a high degree of certainty that Trump's hand in threatening violent repercussions should DOJ move against him, is far weaker now than it was before the 1/6 Committee went to work. I firmly believe they turned the tide.

I remember when Bernie was almost mocked here for putting such faith in young voters

The often repeated retort was that young voters can't be counted on to actually vote, so making a major effort to court their support was ultimately a fool's errand, with that time better spent on GOTV efforts with more reliable elements of the Democratic Party base.

Yes there are more reliable elements of the Democratic Party base who should never be taken for granted, who Democrats need to keep doing outreach to. Yes "young voters" tend to turn out at a lower rate than do "old voters." But young voters, particularly those below 30, tend to break for Democrats at a dramatic rate, usually even more so than do women in general. And that tends to be true in just about every state in the nation. What is even more important though is this: Youth votes are, so to speak, "a growth industry". You can only turn to traditional Democratic voter groups so many times and still hope to extract significantly more votes from them.

The same can't be said for young voters though. Their potential support at the ballot box is far from fully tapped, and the efforts made by Bernie Sanders, among others, to increase their voter turnout have been succeeding even while their participation rate still lags behind other age groups. Rather than see that as a glass half empty, it is more than a glass half full. The potential clearly exists for Democrats to win even greater margins of victory as ever more youth votes get counted.

I am singling out Bernie Sanders for praise here not because he is the only one who has championed young voters. Of course he isn't. But Bernie has been a consistent high profile and highly engaged advocate and campaigner for young votes for at least seven years now, and over that time their ranks have swelled significantly, to the Democratic Party's great benefit. His appeal for a democratic "revolution" has always been pitched for younger ears, and it resonated with large numbers of young voters whose support now is critical to Democrats of all center left persuasions succeeding.

Oh the irony. Looks like the MAGA rump in the Senate just might bring down McConnell

They are bitter about Democrats retaining Senate control and might depose McConnell in a hissy fit over it. McConnell of course was smart enough to realize that Trump forced a bunch of loser candidates on Republicans in Senate contests that could have won Republicans control of the Senate. He also has been one of the most effective (toward ill ends) Senate leaders from either party in history. Time to get rid of him, Senate Republicans, you are on a streak. Why stop now?

Where can Democrats go on the offensive nationally in terns of winning Presidential electoral votes?

Having both Florida and Ohio shift red after being seen as the quintessential swing states for so long hurts. Iowa seems to have moved from purple to red as did Missouri before it. They all seem lost to us now in anything other than a major Blue Wave election year. Texas may yet evolve into a purple state, probably it will within a decade or so, but it's clearly not there yet and may not be for two or three presidential cycles.

The last major shifts toward the Democratic column were in Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia. None are yet deep blue but Democrats remain highly competitive and probably favored in those states. Arizona is promising but still fragile. Same for Georgia except it is probably more red tinted than Arizona still. It's great that the Blue Wall is back for us in the Mid West and Pennsylvania, but it isn't quite as formidable a barrier to Republicans as it once was. Democrats, IMO, have less margin for error in assembling an electoral college majority than we did back in the Bill Clinton era

North Carolina obviously stands out to me as a State that Democrats need to pour more resources into. I think there is the potential for NC to vote almost as reliably blue as Virginia now does. The rest of the South stills seems like a huge stretch. Maybe we can claw our way back into contention in Louisiana, I dunno. Over the decades I've watched Democrats make inroads in the Mountain Time Zone region. Is there any hope for a place like Nebraska? How much of a pipe dream is a State like Kansas? Yes it once was blood red and mostly still is, but there are a lot of more moderate type Republicans there seemingly. Could it evolve to become more like Iowa once was, into a future purple state?

Election Deniers are suddenly facing an unfamiliar landscape that they're not sure how to deal with

The total evaporation of any Red Wave (outside of Florida) has them completely off balance. If election results had been more uneven, with MAGA candidates performing well in some states and not in others, then their play book was simple and straight forward: FRAUD FRAUD FRAUD wherever they lost, and power to the people everywhere else. But their showing was almost uniformly dismal. Trump's high profile picks under performed virtually everywhere, often disastrously so. Even the Florida results are a slap in the face to Trump's most hard core base. Trump's image emerged battered from Tuesday's election. So suddenly, closely identifying with Trump's "the elections are rigged" brand of politics is starting to look like a losing proposition. Who really wants to be the ones hoisting that banner into battle now behind an increasingly discredited leader?

Meanwhile the red mirage ploy that Trump's band used to great effect in 2020 has failed them this time. In PA most notably, Fetterman didn't need days of ballot counting after Election Day to pull off a victory. He won outright on Election Day. Meanwhile in the high profile races in Arizona, Republicans have to pin all of their hopes on votes being counted days after the polls closed to deliver them electoral wins. The favored narrative of election deniers is almost hopefully scrambled. No more cries to stop the counting are being heard.

Of course no one needs facts to be on their side in order to promote a lie. But if the act of promoting a specific lie now seems to work to the disfavor of those who do, the motivation behind pushing those lies starts to vanish. There will no doubt be election deniers out there for many years to come, but the winds have shifted. They no longer are at their back, they now are blowing cold and hard in their face.

Twitter seened almost like a faceless utility to most people

Sure it was a business organized for private profit, most utilities are, but personalities didn't overshadow the platform itself. Twitter operated a popular service seemingly, to most anyway, without embracing any particular ideology or strong political leanings. That meant people of all kinds of stripes felt relatively comfortable using it. It almost had a virtual monopoly in its space, like major network news did in the days before cable and the internet. Twitter's corporate ownership stayed way behind the scenes, where it mostly avoided making waves that could rock its ship...

Well that's all shot to hell now. Twitter is now virtually synonymous with Elon Musk's monumental, childish and highly opinionated ego. No one can ever see or use it the same now. A minority of users will embrace the direction that Musk takes it, but the model that made Twitter successful is shattered. Pretty amazing.

It was an unwritten rule: The Super Wealthy were supposed to pull strings from behind a curtain

It can be a very thinly veiled curtain, but it's supposed to be there none the less, for the sake of appearances. It allows the illusion necessary to the preservation of a useful myth; that it is the people who freely govern in a democracy such as ours where all are deemed equal before the law. When mega donors give mega millions in campaign contributions to politicians, they aren't buying favorable votes for their special interests, for heaven's sake. There are never any quid pro quos involved, gosh no, just a polite willingness to listen to and give fair consideration to the legitimate concerns of a constituent. Of course more typical working and middle class voters are always listened to and given fair consideration by politicians in our democratic system, no big contributions needed from us to assure that, right? Ahem, right. And so it has gone in our democracy for many decades, where half a million voters, give or take a few tens of thousands, have the clout needed to counterbalance one politically active billionaire, on average.

And then comes along Elon Musk, the world's most wealthy man, who it seems has an aversion to lurking behind curtains. He prefers yanking on strings right out there in the open, flouting his ability to personally and directly influence the course of national and world events with his great wealth and the power that flows from it. Musk personifies the control that elites exercise in our society. He now is the face of it, replacing a hodge podge of bland corporate logos. It's been awhile since the gilded age when society's overlords tended to be household names. Musk, I strongly sense, is not alone in wanting to step out of the shadows where the likes of the Koch brothers once so liked to dwell. How he is overall received having done so will say a lot about the near term prospects for our democracy.

It was an assassination attempt on the person second in line for the Presidency...

That is the bottom line. It doesn't matter how crazy the assailant is/was, or that their timing/planning was off and the Speaker was not physically present when he acted. It does nothing to minimize the gravity of the event if he was a nut. Squeaky Fromme and John Hinkley were mentally unbalanced also. More often than not those who attempt to assassinate public figures are unbalanced. And more often than not they act because others supposedly more rational than they fostered a climate of hate and violence and radicalizing lies.

This can't be dismissed as just some weirdo with a hammer acting crazy. There are hundreds if not thousands of other potential "weirdos" near or at the brink of committing deadly political violence. This is as dangerous a moment in our history as any we have faced, and must be treated as such.

North Carolina, Iowa, Utah, possibly even Florida. These races stay mostly under the national radar

No, they aren't totally ignored, but compare the relatively sparse attention they all receive to the non stop political talk focused on Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, where seats held by Democrats are deemed to be at high risk. When it comes to forming a Senate majority, a Senate seat is a Senate seat regardless of how high profile a race is or is not thought to be. Democrats (or an Independent in the case of Utah) are positioned to possibly win in all of those states. Republicans can also lose Senate seats that they have held in Ohio and Wisconsin, and of course in Pennsylvania. On the other side of the coin some might say Democrats could lose their grip in New Hampshire. That totals at least seven Republican held Senate seats still in play, compared to four seats on the Democratic side. But one would be hard pressed to realize that by following national media election coverage.

I hate to admit it (in this case) but Obama is right.

I am proud the that Democratic Party stands on the front lines of defending our democracy. I don't think there is any issue in American politics more important than that. I pay heed to the warning Benjamin Franklin gave when he was asked, upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, what kind of government we would have. His answer rings true today: "A Republic, Ma'am, if you can keep it." Many generations of Americans fought hard to keep it, and now it is in grave danger on our watch.

Donald J. Trump will go down in history as a worse traitor to the American experiment than Benedict Arnold ever was, but only if we win this fight. Unfortunately not enough Americans view this fight in the same light as most of us here do. It's not easy for me to accept that reality, but it keeps staring me in the face. Progressive forces in America have always stood strong on two legs; equality/human rights, and economic justice. One without the other seemingly is not enough for us to win.

Over the decades Republicans have tried to separate the two politically, seeking to weaponize our demands for equality etc. into cultural war wedge issues that they can exploit to their electoral advantage. We can't give in to bigotry in any form, just like we can't surrender our democratic heritage, but we can't afford to lose now either. Too much is at stake. With three weeks to go before the midterms we have to meet voters where they are at, and right now, for many if not most, their eyes are on their pocketbooks. Historically, for a century at least, Democrats have advanced the interests of the middle and working classes economically. We once were closely identified with the working class, the lower middle class, and the middle middle class, while Republicans were more associated with the upper middle class and the wealthy. That is our political heritage.

Republicans almost never deliver the goods for people who struggle to make ends meet, which is what most Americans have to do. Democrats delivered Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. Democrats fight for higher minimum wages. Democrats defend Unions when corporations run rough shod over their workers. Democrats support progressive tax policies that make the well off pay a greater share. Democrats deride trickle down and promote bottom up economics in myriad pieces of legislation. DEMOCRATS FOUGHT AND WON IMPORTANT FIGHTS ALONG THESE LINES SINCE JOE BIDEN BECAME PRESIDENT. Republicans have only been obstructionists, pure and simple. They have no plans to help average Americans get by economically, what they do have in mind would only make matters worse.

Democrats support the kind of efforts that enable common people to survive economic turmoil. Neither Party has the power to banish economic challenges from life. Inflation is a global issue right now. Rising energy prices are a global issue. The disruptions caused by Putin's invasion of Ukraine are global. Supply issues for all kinds of goods and commodities, in the face of a pandemic, are global. One political party will make it easier for average Americans to weather these storms. One political party will make it harder. That is the message we have to focus on for the next three weeks.
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