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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,209

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Trump's strategy: Become the bullet lodged too close to the spine.

In a nutshell Trump essentially has little faith in conventional legal strategies to defend himself against prosecution and/or impeachment. While he has not abandoned them entirely yet at this stage, when he faces a choice between speaking out "recklessly" directly to his base to rile them up to the maximum extent possible, or carefully choosing his words to limit his potential legal liability, he will go with the former over the latter.The strategy is not sheer madness on his part. It is an intentional extremely high stakes gamble, with the civil stability of our society as the ultimate stake.

Trump wants the political and "legal powers to be", those on both sides of the aisle as well as anyone who remains nonpartisan, to have greater fears over the unintended consequences of trying to remove him from office (on terms he does not agree to) than they do over the damage to our Democracy that failing to pursue all legal remedies to Trump's abuses of power and both political and personal corruption would result in. Trump is a bullet embedded in our body politic and he is doing everything possible to position himself at its spine. By that metaphor he wants to make doctors refuse to operate for fear of causing greater damage by doing so than he poses by letting him stay put where he is, at least for the rest of his first term.

Trump is laying the groundwork for potentially massive violent social unrest from an unhinged minority of Americans who have been fed an uninterrupted base diet of anger and fear for decades, boosted by Trumpoid steroids since he moved onto the center stage. Trump is weaponizing large elements of the Tea Party to fill in behind the fascists and white supremacists who are eager to become Trump's hard core shock troops. Trump is raising the specter of wide scale social unrest, if not literal civil war, should a move be made to actually depose him.

That is what Trump's full frontal attacks on the Justice system, the FBI, the intelligence community, and all non political appointees in government agencies (now re-branded as the "Deep State"" is about. That is what his unyielding attacks on the Free Press are about. That is what his demonetization of the opposition political Party (the Democrats) and high profile figures within it (think Hillary for starters) is now about. What started out more as a long shot strategy for winning the presidency (posing as the ultimate anti-establishment figure) has morphed into his long shot strategy for retaining it: "Take me down and I'll take down everything with me." It is his last resort leverage for saving his own skin.

It doesn't matter if the odds of Trump pulling this off are slim. The odds of his surviving through any other means are even slimmer. Trump is signalling that he's wearing a suicide vest and that he won't surrender before using it. The crazies who he is stoking everyday through his Twitter feed are his explosives. Trump wants our constitutional, legal and political systems to view him as a madman capable of doing anything, and he may well be, and that is his ultimate negotiating strategy. Trump has taken that stance with North Korea and Iran is likely next. To save his own hide he is taking that stance domestically also while asking, is America willing to call his bluff?

I want Joy Reid to come through this fine, hell, stronger than ever would be great

Yeah Joy has ruffled my feathers a few times with what seemed to my ear to be some overly caustic takes on the Sanders. I still like her. I still respect her. I know we need her. She is a powerful fighter for our side. And she is one of the most effective African American female voices on television. We need many more voices like hers, not less.

All of the real and or hacked homophobic posts from her past are exactly that, from the past. No "new" posts have surfaced indicating that Joy did not grow past her earlier bias. There is NO evidence that Joy still espouses homophobic positions. To the contrary, there are mountains of evidence to show that she has become a fierce advocate for LGBTQ rights, and has been one for years. Her very public and very sincere apology for her former attitudes makes any and all questionable comments attributed to her a decade or more ago completely irrelevant today.

I don't doubt that a relatively small group of Bernie Sanders supporters still has it in for Joy Reid. For the record I believe that a relatively small group of Hillary Clinton supporters still has it in for Bernie Sanders also. I have watched organized infighting on the Democratic side closely since 2003. Some people become entrenched in their anger, and then become vindictive. Echo chambers emerge on various bulletin boards, forums and user groups (some public, some not) that serve to amplify those feelings and organize their destructive impact. If the above sentences don't describe you, then I am not talking about you. I don't hang in Bernie supporter online circles, but nonetheless I would ask all Sanders supporters to take a step back from this controversy and not pile on. The truth lies out there to be discovered and I have no doubt that it will be. Personally, I hope that the truth fully vindicates Joy Reid.

It is possible (I simply don't know) that animosity toward Joy Reid from some Sanders supporter(s) angered over her treatment of Bernie or Jane could have led to the effort that surfaced the original OLD homophobic blog posts that Joy Reid subsequently fully apologized for. As for the more recently revealed posts that may or may not have been the result of Joy's blog being hacked, from what I can tell from what she is saying in her own defense, those alleged hacks occurred over a decade ago (please, ANYONE, correct me if I am wrong on that). There were no Bernie Sanders supporters who were angry with Joy Reid over her treatment of Sanders a decade ago. If she was hacked then, someone else did it.

Assuming Joy Reid is telling the truth (and I will give her the benefit of any reasonable doubt regarding that) Joy is correct in fighting back against false allegations made against her based on fraudulent blog posts. Somewhere in some alternate universe, had identical posts been admitted to by Joy as being genuine, I would find whatever embarrassing content in them to be fully absolved by Joy's subsequent full apology and hard work on behalf of progressive causes including LGBTQ rights. That's not the universe we live in though. In our real world alternate realities have as much legitimacy as alternate facts. In our real world Joy denies ever having written those posts with those words in the first place. Her denial needs to stand unless it can be proven false.

Only if she is proven wrong about that, only if it can be proved that Joy tried to lie about having been hacked and engaged in a false cover up to avoid having more old dirty laundry attributed to her, will I find her in any way wrong. If that ever is established it will sadden me greatly. For the average person I can cut a lot of slack when someone makes an effort to disassociate themselves from prior objectionable behavior that they have fully grown past. Joy did far better than that regarding the initial batch of blog posts she acknowledged as being hers. Joy's apology convincingly talked the talk, and all of her actions in recent years have fiercely walked the walk on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

Joy's current political and social views and Joy's current political and social work are to be highly commended irregardless of whatever she may have said or written over a decade ago. There is only one matter left for resolution. Precisely because Joy Reid is such an outstanding journalist herself, an accusation that she is engaged in a conscious coverup regarding her prior record as a political commentator, by fabricating a story involving hacking that never occurred, and that blames fictitious "others" for her own behavior - is a very serious charge leveled against her. Joy claims to be innocent, she is innocent unless proven guilty. Unless she is shown guilty of some elaborate conscious coverup, Joy Reid not only is innocent, she is also the victim of an attack against her.

I believe the truth in the not so distant future will be established either way. If Joy lied about being hacked there will (and should) be journalistic consequences for her. They could be serious but even then they should not be career ending. Five nights a week on MSNBC I see evidence at 11:00 pm that even the once guilty deserve a second chance. But that is all highly speculative. There is no reason not to believe Joy in her claims, or at the very least not to withhold final judgement regarding them, without firm evidence to the contrary. Let Joy do the work she does so well, and let whatever investigators assigned to this matter do their job well also. May the truth win out in the long run. We must all avoid potentially victimizing a victim.

Mike Pence is doing all he can to make people forget that they elected Trump/Pence

If he could get away with living inside Dick Cheney's secret bunker for the next year, only emerging for Republican fund raisers and tie votes in the Senate, he would. He has managed to even barely be noticed by MSNBC's prime time anchors over the last few months. Managing to scrunch oneself up into such a tiny figure takes a special kind of talent.

My own racism

This is largely a repost of an OP I published here on DU last June. But I've gone over it again, and tried to make it even more personal than the original version I wrote.

So, I'm 68, I'm white, and I am under no illusion that I have personally escaped the human scourge of racism,
even though I've actively combated racism for all of my adult life, for at least as far back as the days immediately following Martin Luther King Jr's assassination. I was 18 then, so I feel blessed to have actual memories, not just of Martin's death, but more importantly of his life – though I viewed his life contemporaneously through a narrow window of television news and newspapers to the extent that an only somewhat political teenager paid any attention to the world around him. Martin began to change me radically the moment I learned of his death. My world will never be the same because of what happened next.

As a white kid hitting draft age, who grew up in an almost exclusively white suburban school district, the Vietnam War was a more immediate presence in my reality than racism, which I deplored from an abstract distance. I knew that I hated racists, I didn't know the ways I was one. What most incisively taught me that lesson were nine months in my life that commenced on the week King died. It was a period when I lived almost completely void of racism against Blacks in America. But no doubt, even then, I remained more intrinsically racist against other minorities who I lacked the opportunity to as profoundly get to know, or to be absorbed into tight community with.

It started simply and inconspicuously enough. Right after King was assassinated I attended a rally organized at my University on Long Island by local black activist students – though none actually were students at my school. Mostly they were friends who knew each other from connections forged in some of the surrounding communities, those with large black neighborhoods. Anne Brown, who spoke that day, was the daughter of the leader of the local N.A.A.C.P chapter. At that point Mr. Brown was a fairly elderly man but his house, I soon learned, was one in which youth of all ages always felt welcomed by both him and his wife. Anne and her friends felt moved to do something positive in the face of the devastating death of MLK Jr. They felt some hope in the then emerging youth counter-culture, and had a vision of youth working together across race lines to build a better more egalitarian future. A couple of days earlier they decided to form a group – Youth Unity for Peace Organization, and this rally was their first action.

Anne was not a fiery orator, though there was clear passion in her voice. What touched me immediately was her deeply held sincerity, her unrepentant idealism, and the urgency of her appeal. She believed youth had the power to break free from ancient chains. She made me believe that too. I responded to Anne's public request for our involvement and approached her after the rally, asking how I could help. It turned out I could be invaluable to her core group of young activists. I owned a car and they didn't. And that's how it started for me, my absorption into an activist black circle of friends. A few were seniors in high school, some were a year or two ahead of me in college, essentially we all were peers. I spent a lot of time with the core of that group, late at night, sitting talking in my car for hours on end. We all did some good work together also; joined up with some other groups, acquired some seed private funding, started some great programs. I was the only white on the “steering committee”, and I helped talk my own University into the supporting our biggest project, which became The Afro-American Summer Experience. That's what was most meaningful in the outer world, but what was most meaningful to me was the time we spent together at parties, and sitting talking in my car.

For the first time in my life color became invisible, and since everyone else was black, that kind of meant I lost my complexion during those very intense (and loving) times. You see, the topics of our talks were frequently about race, but I was wasn't being talked to about it. These weren't intellectual exercises, I was simply among close friends while they grappled with the impact of racism on their personal lives, down to the effects that commercials aired on TV had on them, with actors and actresses who were almost always white, never looking like them. Down to the use of hair straighteners, when and why and what exactly that meant. It got so that being part of a group of blacks felt natural to me, but being surrounded by a group of just whites felt off, and oddly uncomfortable.

And while I was there with those friends, during those shared intimate moments, my inbred racism fell away. That time is the closest I've ever felt to not being prejudiced. And that is what it took to get me there, and still it was a temporary state. I needed that constant immediate reinforcement to bypass a prior life time of ambient prejudice, rooted in unaware ignorance.

My closest friend in that group, Ray, was a brilliant and extraordinarily deep man with a piercing take on racism and great love interlaced with boiling anger. I was his first real white friend. I still remember turning him on to Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Janis Joplin, and how she absolutely blew him away – scrambling all his expectations when he heard her sing. Seeing that reaction in him helped give me a little insight into what was happening with me. Ray and I often talked for hours alone. One night in the Fall, after The Afro American Summer Experience was over for that year, I was over at Anne's house, and Ray was late coming over. In fact, he barely made it there. He was attacked, but not by white racists or the police. He was called over to a car window by blacks who he knew, and something was exploded in his face. He was seriously, but not grievously hurt Still he had to be hospitalized. It was a warning to Ray from some militant associates of his who I never knew about. They clearly thought he had strayed too far from something, the specifics of which I never learned but the sense of which I immediately knew.

I was 19 then, and far less experienced about life than I now am, for the obvious reason. We all didn't stop being friends, but for me the innocence was broken. I felt that I might have been responsible for Ray getting hurt. I felt that I could become responsible for Ray getting killed. I can't remember the details anymore, I wish I could. I wish I had been a little older and better equipped to deal with the mixed feelings I experienced. I might have done something differently. I might have somehow remained close friends with that circle of people, but instead, with love, we soon drifted apart. I was changed, but I was living once again in a predominantly white social universe. Much of what I experienced stuck with me for all my life, like the bones of a dinosaur that last for eons that mere time can not erase. But the soft tissue knowledge of my experience, that's different. That was ever changing, reinforced and nurtured daily, and once cut off from the living source it slowly began to fade.

So this is what that period taught me: That all of us can learn, all of us can grow, all of us can walk in another's shoes when the circumstances ideally suit it if our hearts are open, even if our brains once were silently poisoned. But staying there is a different matter. Prejudice roots below the conscious level. Overt white supremacy on the other hand, now that's a choice willfully embraced. But one doesn't have to be a white supremacist to harbor the virus of prejudice, it breeds in the spaces that separate us from each other.

Many decades have passed and I no longer have a personal black community. I live in a white rural area. Of course I know and am friendly with some blacks, but I am not going to pretend that it is the same as having deep bonds and friendships. Something has been lost. I still now instinctively understand a movement like Black Lives Matter when something like that emerges in our shared society. But once, during that brief earlier time, I would have known it in my bones, I would have anticipated it viscerally. I would have emotionally immediately understood that it doesn't matter if 9 out of 10 cops are essentially decent people, not if that tenth one remains free to wear the uniform. I would also have been boiling mad at how my friends, yes, my people, were routinely being denied the right to vote. How that is somehow allowed to be, and to continue. I would have lived with that reality daily, and it wouldn't have taken repeated hard hitting blogs and protests to get me to constantly think about it. I do care greatly about all these things and more, but caring is not the same as being there. I'm not now, and it isn't the same

I know some “soft tissue” aspects of my racism grew back, because much of the separation I once lived exclusively in itself is back. I don't like it, and I fight it, but still I understand it. People have tribal realities. To some extent it can be countered, but rarely if at all completely eradicated; we are, in part, who we are surrounded by. We lose touch with those whom we do not regularly touch, and it takes constant effort to transcend that.

And I marvel at what Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished, living when he did in an America that was much whiter than it is today, populated by whites who systematically kept blacks out of sight and out of mind. Despite all of our society's systematic limitations, and human nature itself, his life and death profoundly changed me, incalculably for the better. And I still hold fast to much of that now. Men like him, and Barack Obama, blow me away, for their grace and resolute patience in continually stretching out their hands to the better angels of White America, even when they can barely be recognized below the grime of reflexive prejudice, even when they are deeply asleep on the job. But there are also times when I realize that the same exact grace bursts forth from strangers on the street who look past my white color to be welcoming and helpful to me, not knowing what hatreds I could have seething inside of me.

I've had that same experience with members of the American Indian Movement, men and women who all were acutely aware of what was taken from then by people who looked like me, and people like me who blindly continue to profit from the theft our ancestors perpetrated on them. Their personal warmth continued to glow even as they took up the endless fight that is their inheritance in America.

I had one other period when my life flirted with a near black experience. I was working with (not in) the Criminal Justice System in San Francisco in the 1980's. I had reasons then to work very closely with a man named Rotea Gilford. He died in 1998 at 70. Here is a link to his obit. It starts like this:

"Rotea Gilford, a close friend of Mayor Brown and former Mayor Dianne Feinstein who dreamed of breaking racial barriers, and then lived his dreams, has died of complications from diabetes."

Rotea briefly played in the National Football League when it was a decidedly whiter affair, and in 1964 he became the department's first black homicide inspector, and later San Francisco's first Black Deputy Mayor. Rotea was a fighter who always persevered and never broke down. But I will never forget a conversation we had one morning when he shared with me that sometimes when he looked in the mirror to shave in the morning he came close to tears, realizing that everyone who he would see that day, friend acquaintance or total stranger, would view him through the prism of his dark black skin. This was Rotea Gilford I was talking to, a fiercely strong black man, and this was how every day of his life still began.

You don't forget a conversation like that when you have one, but most of us white Americans never get that opportunity - at least we didn't in my generation. So I briefly sometimes get how hard it is for Whites to understand what it is like to be Black in America, on a perennial moment to moment basis - noone's guard can be constantly up. But I also know that there are many otherwise decent Whites who just don't get it, and likely never will, who will rarely recognize the racism in them without a massive effort to break through the shell they live their lives inside of. And some of them do try.

I believe Bernie Sanders for example is anti-racist with his entire conscious being, though he may still be blind to how racism functions at an almost cellular level, how it is a devastating force that often functions alongside of economic injustice without being genetically identical to it. When it comes to race, I am not a victim, I am one of the privileged and it is not for me to tell others how to relate to those who can not fully grasp oppression, nor see clearly all the ways in which it functions, let alone how they can sometimes be inadvertently, even unwillingly, complicit in it. But I do know that there is a profound difference between a man like Bernie Sanders, who was arrested defending civil rights as a youth, and a man like Donald Trump, who was learning how to break Federal anti-housing discrimination laws as a youth.

Anne Brown was right back when I was 18. Youth can break ancient chains of prejudice. But no one generation can break all of them it seems. I tried, not always with my best effort, but I tried. So did Bernie Sanders. Hopefully people like us will be remembered for being on the right side of history. Hopefully whites of a generation much younger than mine will get much further in this quest than we did. The arc of justice does bend long

"You say you want a Blue Tsunami"

At least 99.9% of DU members know we need one. Congress must be wrested away from Republicans for there to be actual oversight of all the crimes Trump has committed with real accountability assigned to them, including but not limited to Impeachment and removal from office.

Republicans need to suffer humiliating unprecedented defeats in districts that they had come to believe God gave them dominion over. Trumpism must be crushed as the throwback to racist xenophobic No Nothingism of the 19th century that it literally is. Republicans need to learn that they will never rule in this country with just a third of the public behind them, no matter how fanatical that third may be. Right now less than bat shit crazy Republican politicians are more afraid of losing a Republican primary to Trump's core supporters than they are of being exposed as fully complicit in an attack on America during a general election campaign. They all now must pay for this betrayal.

But how does that work exactly? How do we get that Blue Tsunami? It happens if we make the 2018 midterms a defining moment for America, an ultimate whose side are you on referendum for the country. But there's an unsettling aspect to binary groupings. Whether you end up picking Group A over Group B, or vice versa, you end up in electoral bed with lots of folks who you don't always see eye to eye with. Sometimes that's called a United Front. They tend to emerge if times become dire enough. And the effort that forms one is far more sweeping in scope than just "energizing the base". It involves changing the entire political landscape. We need a whole lot more than loyal Democrats voting party line to pull this off folks.

Sometimes I think we don't know how to do the basic math. There aren't enough registered Democrats in America to save America from authoritarian no nothingism. There aren't enough solid blue states in America to reliably prevent Republicans from controlling the U.S. Senate under a constitution that gives Idaho as many Senate seats as California. For all practical purposes Democratic Party primaries have become the only safe place for adults of good will to hash out reasonable differences between them. Our political system is weighed to reward one of two major political parties with governmental control. One of those parties, the Republicans, has totally jumped the rails, so sane Americans must fight out our differences before the General Election ever comes around. Then we must avoid exasperating any wounds that might have opened up among us during that earlier competitive phase if we expect to win come next November. And then we need to expand on that base.

If Democratic Underground is indicative of anything, we have done a piss poor job of healing before building. Any talk I read here of the utmost importance of unqualified support for Democrats is frankly laughable if it prominently features an asterisk noting only registered Democrats need apply. A Blue Tsunami is not made up of registered Democrats alone. A Democratic Majority in the U.S. Senate, should we be lucky enough to attain one next fall, will not be made up of registered Democratic party members alone. Most of the Democrats who we do elect will not be elected with Democratic votes alone, let alone former Clinton supporter votes alone.

Yes we can and should solidify our base to help create a Blue Tsunami. That involves giving every means of logistical support possible to Democratic Party core voters, starting with but not limited to People of Color, particularly Women of Color but all women too. We need to support them running for office, and we need to go on the offensive against each and every means of targeted minority voter suppression tactics that Republicans use to disenfranchise minorities. Thank god for the ongoing work of those like Eric Hodder. But another definition of base voters commonly refers to those who participate in political party primaries. Hillary Clinton won 16,914,722 of those Democratic voters in 2016. while Bernie Sanders won 13,206,428 of them. If our priority now is indeed the Blue Tsunami needed by America, we need all of our core voters energized and engaged and pursuing this fight together, rather than continuing to be at odds with each other.

Creating a Blue Tsunami also means changing the attitudes of those who were all too likely not to bother to vote in the past. Younger voters come to mind, and I am very enthusiastic and optimistic about that demographic moving forward. They have taken the lead in movements as diverse as "Me Too", "Black Lives Matter" and "March for Our Lives". Anything that can be done to help them must be done now.

And finally it means flipping as many votes that went to Trump in 2016 to Democratic as possible. Just to state the obvious, this doesn't involve wasting any time on Trump's core supporters even though most of Trump's 2016 votes were likely from his rabid core who can only be appealed to through overt racist xenophobic and sexist dog whistles. I agree; Fuck 'em. The rest of his voters, a smaller subset than his core, are a mixed bag many of whom harbor some prejudices and other less than desirable traits. Yes I still want their votes in 2018, in a way like FDR wanted Stalin's troops in 1943. We are in a war for the survival of our Democracy now. The difference between a Blue Wave in November and a Blue Tsunami involves flipping a lot of Districts Democratic that ordinarily we would be out of our minds to fantasize wining.

We can retake the House if we pick up 30 seats. That's not good enough to totally crush Trumpism. We need to pick up 60. I have a hunch that if we do swing as many solid red seats to blue as a Blue Tsunami entails that I will be less than thrilled with some of the Democrats who we will thereby put in office. We can sort that out later, though primaries in some cases if need be, but Trump and the Republican Party that stands behind him must be crushed now.

I have no doubt that Colin Lamb won his seat in Congress using an all of the above vote getting strategy. The district went to Trump by 20 points and Lamb won by less than a thousand votes total. We need to take districts like that now in order to drive a stake through the heart of the current Republican Party. It is a fallacy to say that we can't use an "all of the above" strategy in 2008, just because in different places it makes sense to target our resources appropriately, which will vary. In Nebraska we probably have to target ways to peel off some Trump voters, in areas like Austin Texas we may need to prioritize millennials. In Georgia we have to do massive voter registration drives in African American communities. These efforts of course are not mutually exclusive, they can go on everywhere simultaneously. My point is simply that where the relative motherland of new Democratic votes can be harvested will vary some from district to district, and we need to be surgical in our thinking. And we need to stay focused on our mutual adversary, not on differences that exist within our larger Democratic Coalition.

November 2018 is when we can finally politically destroy Donald Trump and all who stand behind him. We have no choice but to get the job done.

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