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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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Christmas Day, 1776, 2400 patriots crossed the Delaware at night under Washington's command.

Their surprise attack on the Hessiens that resulted brought about a sudden favorable reversal of fortunes for the Americans. Had they not succeeded on that cold fraught Christmas Day and Night, the American Revolution could well have been lost, and with it the infant Democracy that they were all sworn to defend. It was not easy. It was not undertaken at a convenient time. It was not how any of them wanted to spend Christmas Day. It was what needed to be done and they responded, at great risk under severe circumstances. And they prevailed.

Over 240 years have passed, and as Christmas again approaches our Democracy is again under attack. I have plans for the holidays. I'm sure that most of us do. They don't involve mass rallies in the cold and dark. They don't involve marching through the streets. If the weather turns foul my current plan call for staying inside, nice and safe and warm. But if Donald Trump thinks that holiday plans and winter weather will distract me and millions of others from taking immediate action to defend our Democracy should he move to undermine it, by impeding the investigation Robert Mueller is in the midst of - well he is in for a bigger and even more unpleasant surprise than the Hessians faced when the Continental Army showed up at their doorstep.

We owe this to the patriots who preceded us.

Most people would have "more money in their pocker" also if they sold their car and rode the bus

You get what you pay for. You also get what you don't pay for. The more things we stop paying for the more money we all get to "keep in our pocket". Eat less food, more money in your pocket. Stop repairing bridges, build fewer schools, more money in your pocket - until you no longer have the skills to land a job or a way to get to one even if you did.

Most of the reporting on the Republican tax cut bill is brain dead. The online calculators they provide to see who "wins" and who "loses" don't scratch the surface of the story which can be boiled down to this. Republicans are offering the average family thirty pieces of silver (if they are among the luckier ones) in return for Republican donors getting the keys to Fort Knox.

Our kids and grandkids get massive credit card bills to pay later in return, with skimpier resources for them to draw on then than we still have now to pay for it. This nation, and their future, is being run into the ground and allowed to rot in order to indulge the greedy. But that's supposed to be A OK just so long as an average family of four gets to keep a little more money in their pockets: Until their tax cuts expire, or until they need a type of assistance that their government used to provide but no longer can afford - whichever comes first.

Why Republicans like Kasich. Corker, and hell even McCain and Shelby, matter

It's not because they don't have blood on their hands for allowing the Right Wing Hate Machine to grow and metastasize unopposed for the last ten years or more. It's not became they can ever be counted on to back an agenda for America that benefits the mast majority of Americans. It's not because they are doing all that they can to counter the toxic lack of human decency and authoritarian cravings of the current occupant of the Oval Office. And it's not because they won't betray us all at the drop of a hat, regardless of the words they use from time to time critical of the Trumps and Moores in their party.

It's because they are a flickering part of a very thin red line that stands between preserving our nation's democratic heritage and the complete normalization of having a want to be crypto fascist dictator as America's leader and Commander in Chief. Those men, and a few more elected Republicans like them, are among a tiny handful of elected members of the governing party of America who on rare occasions find it in themselves to mouth words to the effect that "this is going too far", "this is not what America is about".

Whether or not they have the guts or moral clarity to do more than murmur some disapproving words on rare occasions, isn't the point. For now it is clear that they don't. But even those hollow words have meaning now, because the criticism of all that men like Trump and Moore represent can not emanate exclusively from Democrats. There must be at least a thin veneer of bipartisan alarm, muted as those rare elected Republican voices may be, when Trump and men like Moore advocate and/or take steps that are a danger to our democracy. Without that what Trump is doing to America, and the organic opposition that rises against it, will be passed off as the modern version of mere partisan politics. And it isn't.

Our last President earned himself the label "no drama Obama" while in office. Now he is warning us all, in public, about the need to resist the rise of fascism in America. Resisting fascism was never a partisan issue for Americans - it was part of our national calling. We can not allow what is happening in America now to be reduced to a seeming debate over the Republican vs Democratic agendas. As deadly as the differences in those agendas in fact actually are to many millions of American, what is happening now goes deeper than that. Whatever our individual ages may be, we all were handed an at least minimally functioning democracy by the generations that preceded us, and that legacy - forging a more perfect Union, stretches back to the Revolutionary War.

We can not allow that dream to die on our watch. And it will take all of us, even the meekest of Republican opponents to Trump's vision of America, to speak up; even when actions that make up real resistance remain sorely lacking. The silence must be shattered. This is not just partisan politics.This is about keeping America great, or at least preserving the vision of a better society that generations of Americans have sacrificed their lives defending.

That is why I refrain from sarcastic comments when someone like Shelby admits that he can not bring himself to vote for someone like Moore. It needed to be said, even if I can not find a single other thing that Shelby says or does that I can agree with.

I am willing to believe that Franken might be guilty of highly inappropriate behavior with women

I am willing to accept that if he is guilty of highly inappropriate behavior with women that he should leave the Senate. I am even wiling to accept that, in the realm of politics, the standard for asking for someone to resign, either from their office or their candidacy for office, is not as strict as the criminal standard for a conviction; guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. A preponderance of the evidence could suffice.

What I am not willing to accept though is ending someone's political career based on a small handful of anonymous allegations of sexual impropriety that have not been either thoroughly vetted or formally investigated. From what I can tell the women who have publicly and openly made allegations against Frankel have not brought forward charges serious enough to warrant his immediate removal from elected office. An investigation, yes. Summary removal, no. But now it seems to have become a mere numbers count, with automatic removal from office triggered once some tipping point of allegations is reached.

In many cases women have good reason to be hesitant to allow their identify to become known to the public when they lodge complaints against powerful men. I understand that, but I feel that the Washington Post and NY Times have shown us all how that can and should be handled. Those media outfits did not print stories of that sort without first engaging in extensive background research to corroborate the statements of the women making allegations - from contemporary sources who were told about the alleged serious incidents at the times. In fact, it was by doing exactly that that the Washington Post just busted a woman who tried to entrap the newspaper into false reporting that would have discredited their overall efforts in this area. That is why the charges against Judge Moore are so damning - not just the nature of the allegations themselves (which as he claims could have been a political hit job) but the thorough sourcing for them and the corroborating evidence that establishes the likelihood that Moore was guilty as charged.

There may be more about the Franken story that some Democrats in Congress know about that we in the mere public do not. If so, they were obligated to reveal the extent of their concerns, and the basis for it, to the voters who elected Franken to office before calling on him to resign. To call this means for ending a political career a slippery slope is a huge understatement. It is a trap door that can be triggered at any time against any elected official in order to get an adversary out of the political way.

The Devil offers good payment for a soul, every preacher knows that

Here in the earthly realm you can drive a hard bargain with Satan. Name your price and the Devil will gladly pay, if you are wiling to sign your soul away in return. All fundamentalist and evangelical preachers know that, and Alabama is full of them.

That's how the Devil buys souls on the open market. He offers something the seller holds dear in return. Sometimes it is the lure of sex, sometimes it is wealth or fame. And sometimes it is a majority of seats in the United States Senate. Whatever it is it, it can be taken for granted that it's something the seller feels is very very important to them.

No doubt keeping a Democrat from winning a Senate seat from Alabama is very very important to "moral majority" preachers and "family values voters" in Alabama. And to Kellyanne Conway too. They say so themselves when they admit they believe all the women who were molested by Roy Moore while in their teens. As the preachers are quick to remind us all, when the price is right weak men gladly sell their souls to Satan. It's all written in the good book they are so eager to pound on.

So Franken was probably set up. Same could be true for Moore

In Moore's case the accusers had nothing to do with any set up. In Franken's case, she probably did. Yes the Washington Post reporters themselves tracked down the women molested by Moore, and through solid reporting, were able to empower them to share their stories. But who alerted the press to the fact that the story could be out there, decades after the events and shortly before a critical election? Yes that aspect could have political roots, but the charges still stand on their own. That is the relevant reality, not why the story saw the light of day when and how it did.

In Franken's case I strongly suspect that the accuser was encouraged to share her story when she did, to some extent because of all the attention being given to sexual harassment in general, but also for timely political reasons. But if her story is true the event she revealed still stands on it's own for consideration. Franken, in his public apology, did not vouch for the 100% accuracy of every detail she recalled about what happened. But he did apologize for his behavior with deep, and I believe sincere, regret. So I accept that Tweeden did experience genuine sexual harassment at the time, and that she did in some way feel violated by her experience with Franken.

Things sometimes come to light when they do for strictly political reasons. And that makes politically convenient revelations suspect. But that in itself doesn't prove them false. Political take downs can be based on either fact or fiction. In the case of Moore I think the facts justify the repercussions Moore is facing regardless of why the story came out now. In Franken's case I accept his public apology in which he expresses heart felt regret, which is something Moore will never do regardless of the number of lives he has damaged. But accepting Franken's apology also means accepting that he had something that he needed to apologize for.

The discretions both men committed are not even remotely comparable. Moore should have spent years in prison for what he did. Franken may well be formally rebuked by the Senate. If so he is not the only member of Congress who deserves at least public censure for instances of sexual harassment. THAT is the true double standard at play now. That and all attempts to equate what Moore and Franken did.

It remains to be seen, on the eve of so called tax reform votes...

Are there a big enough handful of Republicans with enough of a sense of history and strategic vision willing to separate themselves from the GOP's stampede over the cliff on behalf of "big donors"? Can the looting of our future be stopped by them

In many cases Republicans who stand in the way of a so called GOP "win" likely would lose a primary against them in 2018 for doing so, but they will lose in the General anyway if they don't. A giant blue wave is forming and it is rushing forward gathering speed. One way or another,Trump is going down. It is going to get ugly, very very ugly, and any Republican who doesn't earn his spot soon on Trump's enemy list will become stained by their association with him for life.

No, except in very red districts and states, they can not save themselves from the approaching midterm moment of reckoning, not if saving oneself is defined as winning reelection in 2018. But Americans want at least a two (if not more) party system. Americans want choices, both on the grocery shelf and on the ballot. The Republican Party, or something similar that takes it's place, will rise again. It will need to spend years in the political wilderness while a new and sounder foundation is laid for it to build upon before it can aspire to be a viable national electoral force again though, rather than merely a regional one. Republicans own the federal government now, they will own the wreckage that their administration, aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress, leaves in its wake. Who among today's elected Republicans have enough foresight to see past that horizon?

New leaders for what will soon become the opposition party to Democrats will emerge over time, and they will, initially at least, come from the ranks of the few among them who resisted the perversion of the current Republican Party. They will identify themselves over the coming weeks.

Remember when Republicans would say "There's no such thing as a free lunch"?

That's how they are trying to sell their1% enrichment tax cut plan however. They pretend they are giving away free money to the middle class, and that everyone magically gets money in their pockets without anything of value being sold to get it. Of course the big lie is that this plan has anything to do with the middle class, many of us will have our taxes raised as a result of this "reform" of tax codes. But even if it were true, even if millions of "average Americans" got an extra hundred dollars a month to spend as a result of them, there is nothing painless about these tax cuts.

This is no free lunch. Yes the cuts would add over 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit. Democrats are already all over that, and the increase in taxes that some will face - but it's not just that. It's not just the fact that those in power today are burdening America's young with a much bigger obligation to repay America's creditors with interest over the course of their full lifetimes. Actually it is far more basic, far more profound than even those outrages. It is about drowning a shrunken government in a bathtub after using it to redistribute wealth to those who already have almost all of it.

Even the rich need some government services. They need a military to keep their oversees investments safe for example. They need legislators they can legally bribe using election laws that they've paid for to be written.They even need tax collectors who collect higher percentages of income from those who labor for wages rather than from those who earn money off of money already accumulated to accomplish the afore mentioned redistribution. They need enough government paid for domestic security to prevent pitchfork mobs from advancing on them unimpended. They meed first responders to protect their properties from fires and from terrorists. They need their government subsidies, and their huge government contracts, and courts to fill their private prisons.

But the rest of us need government much more. We need government to survive. Most Republicans WANT to increase the deficit, although of course they don't admit it. They want every pretense possible to shrink the size of government. And after they've looted the Federal Treasury there's no excuse that they will be happier to give than to say we can't afford the spending. They already say it now, but they will soon be saying it louder. We can't afford to pay for Pell grants. We can't afford to pay for mass transit. We can't afford to pay for nursing homes. We can't afford to be so "generous" with what they like to call "entitlements". If schools in most of America rot that won't effect the private schools of the wealthy, who will pay the bills to educate their own young with just part of the tax giveaways they are now pushing through this Congress. If there is lead leeching from their own water pipes, they can write a check to pay for immediately replacing them. If their children develop special needs they can hire the staff needed to attend to them.

Even if some middle class family in Ohio gets an extra hundred dollars a month to hold onto - how far will that stretch when grandma needs a nursing home that today is paid for by Medicaid? When push comes to shove the government paid for economic safety net is the only meaningful insurance policy that most Americans can turn to when things significantly go wrong. How much is keeping that intact worth to most Americans, let alone Pell grants, decent schools, and roads that don't break axles? Is that worth a hundred dollars a month to a family of four? How much is blood money ever worth?

Challenge for DUers

Design a major National Ad Campaign on the theme of Global Warming, using both 30 and 60 second TV ads. What scenes, what graphs, what visuals in general would you use? What narration if any would you include? Any interviews, if so of who? What text scrolls, what music, if any? What voice overs,:celebrities, scientists, or average citizens?

This issue virtually disappeared during the 2016 election campaign. Not a single question was asked about it during the Presidential debates. Since then the U.S.has become the only member of the United Nations not backing the Paris Accord. Since then the world has again set new heat records. Since then we've had runaway forest fires, ice sheet collapses, record rainfalls, multiple massive hurricanes, and even a (downplayed) admission by an agency of the Trump administration that the vast bulk of climate change is almost certainly human caused.

Everyone knows that weather is changing, but it remains out of broad public discussion as a political issue. Meanwhile wind and solar energy prices continue to plummet but the Trump Administration wants to spend tax dollars to prop up the coal, oil, and nuclear industries while relaxing regulations that will lead to the release of more greenhouse gases.

There should be killer ads on the media driving home all of the above, but there aren't. The scripts should almost write themselves, but of course they can't. But we can. We have creative people in our midst. We have media professionals. If the money could be found to mount a massive ad campaign, what should it be? Because I think the money can be found if we all insist on an open public debate on this profoundly life altering issue. And I'm sure of one other thing - it will not play to Republicans advantage.

What's your ad, what's your unifying theme? What do you want to see being aired on every network?

An example of the type of unity we need

This jumped out at me in a column written by Charles P. Pierce (thanks to babylonsister for posing most of the column elsewhere on DU). The entire column, about the Virginia elections, is excellent. You can read it here: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a13450070/virginia-democratic-victories/

Here is the part that grabbed me, in the context of things that have gone on here at DU.

"If you’re looking for an unsung hero in Virginia, and if you’re looking for a role model who should embarrass all the squabbling Democrats who are still relitigating the dismal 2016 primary process, look to Tom Perriello, the former Democratic congressman who lost to Northam in the Democratic primary this year. Perriello suited up and worked tirelessly for the Democratic ticket up and down the ballot, including for the man who’d beaten him. Perriello’s performance not only piled him up serious cred within his party, it also should shame a lot of people in that party’s upper echelon."

Perriello got more than his share of abuse on DU when he was competing against Northam for the Democratic nomination. Aside from the more extreme statements made against him then, that is more or less par for the course among us Democratic activists during primaries. The nomination gets settled, we close ranks, we move on.

Pausing for a brief moment to reflect on how Perriello acted when it became time for him to move on from losing an intense primary fight is, I think, good for the political soul.
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