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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,145

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After Republicans killed the Clinton Health Care Plan during the 90's...

They were fully content to do nothing, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable and unable to afford treatment for dire illnesses. Republicans controlled the White House (and most of Congress also) from 2000 to 2008. Massive tax cuts to the rich was their primary domestic agenda. Bush nudged the ball forward a few inches with his Plan D Prescription Drug plan; the one with the huge Doughnut hole that it took Obamacare to fill, and that forbid the U.S. government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. But Bush also tried (and failed) to privatize Social Security.

Before Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act under Obama, the Republican Party was content with tens of million of Americans being uninsured. The were content with ever increasing numbers of Americans being denied coverage due to a list of "preexisting conditions" that magically just kept growing. Republicans didn't mind annual and life time caps on insurance payouts to those unfortunate enough to develop a serious and costly illness, even if those unfortunate individuals had regularly paid their monthly insurance premiums for decades prior. The only reason why they even acknowledge problems with the way they were comfortable having health care denied for tens of millions of Americans for decades, is because tens of millions of Americans now understand that it doesn't have to be that way. Because now, thanks to Democrats, it's no longer quite that grim.

For the seven years that followed passage of the Affordable Care Act Republicans turned over every stone in their effort to roll back the new protections that all consumers gained under Obamacare, and the ability of tens of millions more to finally be able to afford health insurance that actually paid for things like hospitalization. But in all that time they couldn't find it in them to agree on an actual alternative plan to replace Obamacare with that wouldn't kick 20 million plus people off the insurance market, or guarantee that those still insured would receive the treatments that they needed when they needed them.

A Leopard doesn't change its spots - they are simply being Republicans. Same as it ever was. They are the party that busies itself on shredding safety nets rather than designing them. If it were up to Republicans there never would have been Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in the first place. Their ideology and their allegiances allow them to look right through the suffering of tens of millions of Americans while they plot ways to make life sweeter for their friends in the Oligarchy, by expanding the suffering of ordinary Americans.

Republicans have always been the Party of special attention to the few and utter neglect of the many. Deaths among the latter are an acceptable price to pay for prosperity of the former. Republicans had 17 years from when the took over the White House in 2000 until now to come up with a humane and workable health care plan for America. It simply wasn't a priority for them. It never is. It never has been. It never will be. Over a fifth of Americas children live in literal poverty. Children. But th Republican priority remains tax cuts for the rich and well connected. Republicans find wide spread death to be an acceptable cost of business if it allows them to lower the costs of doing business, and thus feeding the bottom line rather than the hungry.

Expecting Republicans to provide constructive leadership regarding health care now, for the poor and the struggling middle class, is like expecting the Grim Reaper to offer workshops on preventive health. We can only hope that this current charade in the Senate is helping more Americans see the Republican priorities for what they show, an utter indifference to easily preventable deaths.

Trump is so scared of Mueller that he's willing to split his base attacking Sessions

That says all you need to know about what Trump is desperately trying to hide.

His survival strategy has always been two fold:A) keep his base loyal and fired up to prevent Republicans in Congress from turning on him, and B) steadfastly impeding any and all investigations into his activities - even if that entailed turning Nunes into a blatant tool, firing Preet Bharara, or ousting Director Comey.

Now in order for Trump to pursue B) He is willing to jeopardize A). The core of Trumps base has loved Jeff Sessions a lot longer than they have loved Donald Trump. Important voices on the Alt Right and media hacks like Limbaugh and Hannity are now defending Sessions. And Sessions has some pretty deep support among Republicans in the Senate and it is the Senate that ultimately can remove Trump from office.

That Trump is moving against Sessions now shows how desperate he is over the investigation

So here is "the good news"

Lisa Murkowski stuck with Collins. That eliminates any margin of error for the Republicans on repeal. Refusing to even allow debate makes them rather firm No's. Other Republicans on both the far right and in the center right can now use their generic "Yes" votes as political cover. By keeping debate alive they can each now vote for their favorite version of repeal/replace during the amendment phase - and potentially vote against all others. Then they can go home saying that they supported something

But if they lose just one more senator on Version A, and a different one on Version B, and so forth, no version will get 50 votes. It is still hard to see what version can win the support of every single Senator who voted to allow debate to precede just now, given their own differences and the differing prevailing politics back in their home states. This could still be only political gamesmanship, posing for differing constitutes back home, rather than actually legislating.

The Republican problem with the American Medical Association (the AMA)

and the Hospital and Nurses Associations, and AARP, and many of the leading insurers, is that they actually know something about what they are talking about when they oppose Republican plans to repeal and "replace" the Affordable Care Act. That makes their view points rather like those of climate scientists world wide: Informed.

No wonder then that Republicans refuse to listen to and believe them.

Fighting for Democracy in the Democratic Party: An ACTIVE (New York State) Case Study

Some of you may have seen me mention here in the past that I am active in the Democratic Party machinery (Town Democratic Committee) at the local level in Ulster County NY. The Democratic Party runs internal elections, starting at the grass roots level, to chose who represents Democratic Party members at every level of decision making - from Town and County committees, to State Democratic Committees on up to the Democratic National Committee.

Last year Democrats in our County elected delegates to the NY State Democratic Committee. One of those chosen was a woman who was not initially put forth as a candidate by our County Democratic Party, rather she won her seat through a designated party primary, having previously worked as a grass roots organizer during the Democratic Party Presidential Primary held earlier last year. Since being elected to that position Kelleigh McKenzie has worked closely across the board with our County Democratic Party, and she has the support of the Ulster Party Democratic Party in pressing for a series of important reforms within the NY State Democratic Party.

Clearly her efforts have relevance for DU members who are Democrats in NY State, but I think it is highly relevant to Democrats elsewhere also as it speaks to a problem not unique to New York. That is why I am posting this in the General Discussion forum (I will cross post this in the NY Forum as well). The NY State Democratic Committee is meeting on July 25, and Kelleigh has introduced five rule changes on the agenda for that meeting.She is now gathering petition signatures from registered Democrats in NY State in support of these changes. I will place a link to that petition below. What literally shocked me however is the blatantly undemocratic status quo that these amendments are proposed to alter. This is how Kelleigh puts it:

"What I've learned since getting elected to the State Committee (the official organization of the party statewide) is that its members actually have very little say in party affairs and decision-making. Meetings are announced last-minute and members are typically offered "up or down" votes on items pre-decided by the Officers and Executive Committee—the majority of whom were not elected to the State Committee. I believe that the State Committee can and should be a vital mechanism for listening to and integrating the voices of the Democratic Party base into leadership at the state level. Organizing from the bottom-up is what has traditionally given the party its strength."

Here are the rule changes that Kelleigh is proposing for New York State. The bolding is mine:

Make it easier for State Committee members to participate in meetings

Members typically don’t hear about meetings until 10 days before they happen, making it difficult to plan affordable travel and get time off work. Plus, members can only add items to the agenda if submitted 15 days before the meeting—tough to do if the meeting isn’t even announced until 10 days prior. With this rule change, members would learn the location and date of the meeting 25 days in advance and receive an itemized agenda for review 10 days prior, so they can engage in discussion and cast thoughtful votes.

Guarantee that more State Committee members have a role in decision-making

Even though State Committee members are democratically elected to represent the voices of registered Democrats in state party decision-making, the current rules do not require any Executive Committee members to be drawn from the State Committee. The Executive Committee handles State Committee business between meetings and develops recommendations to the full Committee, so the people who were actually elected to do this work should be guaranteed spots. With this rule change, 24 Executive Committee seats would be designated for State Committee members.

Provide balance between the number of State Committee members and non-members on the Executive Committee by limiting the number of Vice Chairs

The current rules allow for an unlimited number of Vice Chairs, none of whom must be State Committee members. Right now there are 29 Vice Chairs who make up 38% of the vote at Executive Committee meetings. This rule change would limit the number of Vice Chairs to five, ensuring a balance on the Executive Committee between elected State Committee members and non-members.

Give Executive Committee members a say in deciding who will serve as the party’s Executive Director

Right now, a single person (the State Chair) appoints the Executive Director of the party without any formal review or approval by State or Executive Committee members. With this rule change, the State Chair still gets to appoint the Executive Director, but a majority vote of the Executive Committee is required to approve the appointment.

Restore missing language about the State Committee that was left out of the rules in error

The rules adopted at the September 19, 2016 organizational meeting were inadvertently missing some pretty important language—sections about the purpose of the State Committee, how it is organized, and how its members are elected. Without these crucial parts, the rest of the rules make no sense. This rule change adds back in the missing parts: Article II, Section 1, subsections (a), (b), and (c)i, ii, and iii as shown in the 2009 state party rules, which describe State Committee powers, units of representation, and election of members.

Without constant attention from grass roots members the leadership of any organization, the Democratic Party included tends to become distant and unresponsive to the priorities of it's membership. But if there is one organization where it is crucial that such a tendency be strongly countered, it is our very own Democratic Party. I urge New York Democrats to sign the petition linked to below, and for Democrats everywhere to stay involved in all ongoing efforts to keep our Democratic Party truly democratic!


Putin has publicly yanked Trump's chain three times so far this year

Putin has a telling way of reminding Trump of exactly how long a leash he's on, and what might happen if he attempts to stray.

The first time was that meeting in the Oval office when per Putin's request Trump mugged it up and glad handed not only the Russian Secretary of State, but also Moscow's Ambassador the the United States - "spy handler" Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak was already politically radioactive at that point - and his name wasn't on the official "guest list" of those who would be attending the Presidential meeting. But as a special favor to the Russians only (the U.S. press pool was barred) an official Russian photographer was allowed to take photos inside the Oval Office. In a move that it is reported made the White House "furious", the Russians then published the photos despite reported assurances that they would not. That's how we all found out that Kislyak attended in the first place, and no one has ever seen Trump smile as broadly as he did for that photo with the Ambassador. That move was about as subtle as a horse head on the pillow.

The second time was after the G20 meeting where Trump holed up with Putin for over two hours on the sidelines. Great care was taken by the Trump team to prevent leaks of what was actually discussed and to control the messaging that came out of the meeting. Unlike the other leaders Trump did not hold a live press briefing after the summit so that he could not be questioned in real time. Instead he had Tillerson make a carefully scripted statement about how Trump strongly challenged Russian interference in our elections, and persisted in that for a length of time before they moved on to other topics without reaching any agreement. And then Putin made his own public statement whereby he pulled the rug out from under Tillerson, Trump, according to Putin, listened to Putin's denial of any Russian interference in the 2016 election, and fully accepted Putin at his word. Trump, of course, was unable to square that circle since he couldn't say that Putin lied. Like incident number one, Putin rubbed Trump's face in it.

The third time just happened and it hasn't gotten as much attention as the others so far, but it has dire implications for Trump. It involves the Russian lawyer who met with Junior and the top tier of Trump's campaign last June to discuss "damning"Russian information on Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. alleged that the Russians, through an intermediary, sought out that meeting with the Trump team which Don Jr., out of politeness and nativity one is asked to believe, didn't immediately inform the FBI about. But no, that's not what happened says
Natalia Veselnitskaya. According to her the Trump campaign solicited her to hold that meeting. Even if that is true there was no one forcing Veselnitskaya to freely offer that information to the U.S. press, which punched another hole in Trump Jr's flimsy coverup. Except this one has significant legal implications. It the Trump team asked for the meeting, rather than the other way around, it becomes much easier to prove that they were soliciting something of value from foreign nationals to use for political purposes in a U.S. election campaign - in clear violation of U.S. law.

Why? Why do the Russians keep intentionally making it harder for Donald Trump to put the Russia scandal behind him, by freely and continually offering up details that both embarrass him AND undermine the credibility of his claims that he isn't beholden to Russia? I think the answer is obvious. They are carefully timed and well placed warning shots that say; "Don't cross us, we still expect you to honor our deal regardless of the difficulties that may now entail for you. We kept our end, you keep yours, or we will not hesitate to bring you down - swiftly and unfailingly. You know full well that we have the means to."

Did Hillary Clinton lose because she was forced too far to the Left?

Was she pushed to adopt positions too extreme for the American electorate? If so, which planks turned off the American electorate and hurt her in the Fall? At the time of the Convention there was broad agreement that the platform that Democrats adopted was an excellent one. By all accounts, Hillary ran on the most progressive platform the Democratic Party has had for decades. Her delegates ran the platform committee that adopted that platform. She proudly ran on that openly progressive platform. So is that why Trump is now President, and why Hillary only won the popular vote by three million?

Mostly I've seen it argued that Hillary lost because of racism, Russia, voter suppression, and Comey - but should the left be blamed instead? That would be the logical extension of the premise being promoted on several OPs on DU over the last few days blaming the left for most of the electoral shortcomings of the Democratic Party in recent years. So the question is, one that holds important implications for the future of the Democratic party, should Hillary have hugged the center stronger in 2016, or even shifted right, closer to the platforms that her husband once ran for President on? Would that have helped or hurt her with the outcome?

Last summer, though the Sanders delegation would have preferred a few more leftist platform tweeks, Hillary didn't give them everything they wanted. Still Hillary showed flexibility where that was consistent with her vision, and Sanders then united with the Clinton people in praising the platform that emerged. So was that attempt at unity ultimately Hillary's downfall? Was Hillary pushed to far to the left in the rust belt, for example, where Trump squeaked out his Electoral Party victory? Is that why so many previous Obama voters there turned to Trump instead? Were they turned off by Clinton's overly radical economic message, consistent with our platform: a $15 a hour minimum wage, free public college for middle class students, a stronger economic safety net. Did those turn out to be unpopular views that repelled voters who Democrats count on?

Or is it the tiny leftist holdout minority who gathered behind Stein to be blamed for Trump becoming President? If so, would anyone argue that Hillary have won more of their votes by running on a more moderate platform instead? Jill Stein won 1,457,216 votes in 2016, or 1.07% of the total vote. Meanwhile the Libertarian ticket, composed of two ex Republican Governors, won 4,489,221 votes, or 3.28% of the total. Millions of votes go to third parties in every American presidential election. You might remember that Jill Stein has run for President before. In 2012 she got 469,628 votes, so she got about a extra million this time around. By comparison it has been estimated via several studies that Hillary Clinton picked up about two million 2012 Romney voters, and lost about 8 million Obama voters, a net negative shift of about 6 million voters, that's a number six times larger than Stein's increase.

Meanwhile thee are studies that indicate that in Wisconsin alone the Republican enacted "Voter ID Law" suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump won there by 22,748 votes). The vast majority of those vote can be assumed would have been Democratic. THAT, I believe, is the smoking gun nation wide: targeted voter suppression.

I see no evidence that "leftist pressure" on our presidential nominee pushed her into taking political positions that were in any way detrimental to her chances for victory in 2016. I would argue the opposite. I see plenty of other factors to explain how Donald Trump ended up in the White House - but the behavior of the Democratic Left is not one of them.

Nothing quite celebrates the Fourth of July weekend like our President attacking the Free Press

I remember seeing it asked before, exactly when does Trump think America was Great before? Was it during the 1970's, the 1950's? Or earlier perhaps, like the 1920s, or back further still, before women could vote or even in decades prior, when slavery was still legal?

I'm thinking we all missed the mark. I'm thinking more around 1765, after the French and Indian wars. What great colonies the Americas were then, under the British Crown, when strongmen could be a strongmen, and rule proudly over it all.
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