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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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Regarding "Snow White" Bernie Sanders

It's been well over a year since I wrote an OP with Bernie Sanders as the subject. I held back expressing these thoughts previously because I believed the focus of center left activists needed to remain on the critical 2018 election, but we have unofficially entered primary season now with the midterms behind us.

Bernie is not who I am currently leaning toward for the 2020 Democratic nomination, there are several others who I am looking at closely instead. I get that there are things about Bernie subject to legitimate debate (he is in no way unique in that regard.) Some people who share the same goals as I do would only support Sanders as a last resort; e.g. if he won the Democratic nomination and was up against Trump in the General. Some hold that position passionately. All fair enough, especially now that the midterms are over. But I find a certain well honed narrative to be disturbing, and frankly it's disappointing. It involves the subject line of this OP.

Personally I try hard to let go of my accumulated negative feelings after a competitive primary contest. Good thing, I always seem to end up on the losing side. I was for Wes Clark in 2004 and i had to make an, um, "adjustment" to get behind John Edwards as our VP candidate that year. In 2008 I was a major backer of Hillary Clinton on DU. Things got pretty heated here, but like most Clinton supporters I fell in behind Obama as our nominee. In 2016 I supported Bernie and then of course backed Hillary in the General.

In all of those cases I thought the eventual nominee had certain weaknesses, but i knew the person who I was behind had some of their own too. Maybe it will surprise some here to know that I see some weakness in Bernie Sanders when it comes to race dynamics in America. His natural ideological center of gravity seems to skew toward old school Social Democratic critiques of America, which in my opinion tend to be right as far as they go. The thing is, with a world view forged through fighting economic injustice, other well springs of oppression can sometimes be "underappreciated" for the role they play. But I have never doubted that Sanders stands on the side of the oppressed in America, even when his analysis of of the dynamics underlying some forms of oppression can arguably be called incomplete or even, in the eyes of some, misguided.

It is rare (but not unheard of) for Bernie Sanders to be accused of racism on DU - such posts get alerted on and rather quickly removed. Those who might be tempted to make that type of accusation are usually at least subtle enough to employ the standard ploy of guilt by association. A significant portion of the white working class supported Bernie over Hillary in the 2016 primaries, this is true. And a significant number of those voters then chose Trump over Hillary in the General, also true. No doubt racism was one of the factors at play in this. I remember back in 2008 when Hillary was proud (why shouldn't she have been?) to win the West Virginia primary over Barack Obama. A significant percentage of her West Virginia primary voters went on to reject Obama in the General, but of course Hillary never courted those primary votes on the basis of race. We can debate what percentage of white Americans are racist. Some of that answer depends on when one feels the full brunt of that accusation is justified. I feel safe though in believing that most white Americans harbor at least some racial prejudices.

A case can be made, and I have seen that case persuasively argued here on DU, that Bernie Sanders is not sufficiently in touch with the unique pernicious qualities of racism in America today, and how it must be directly identified and combated. For those who feel this strongly, that is ample reason alone to conclude that Bernie Sanders should be passed over for President in favor of one or more other candidates with an innately different perspective on the role race plays in America. I can fully respect anyone who sincerely believes that.

What I find disturbing is the non stop, almost in the background, stream of "revelations" of this or that instance in which Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders alone, gets accused of some aspect of racial insensitivity or racial arrogance. It almost constitutes an equivalent to the legal concept of selective enforcement. While I have seen some here argue the merits of Democrats selecting a person of color as our 2020 presidential nominee (and I do recognize some merit in that position) none of our other potential white presidential candidates face the same type of constant negative scrutiny on matters of race as does Bernie Sanders. Arguably one can assert that this or that white potential nominee is better equipped to fight racial injustice than is Bernie Sanders. Fine, but that's not it. No other white presidential candidate gets examined on those grounds a tenth as much as does Bernie Sanders.

It wouldn't be so disturbing if Sanders had little or no track record on civil rights and racial justice, but he does. And I don't just mean in his college days when he got arrested at a civil rights protest etc. Sander's has been in Congress a long time, and he has a voting record. He has for many years consistently scored extremely high in rankings on such issues. One can argue that he hasn't been, or wouldn't be, a strong leading force against racism, but there is no doubt that Sanders has always firmly opposed racism and that, should he ever become President, his signature, just like his votes before, would end up in the right place.

Some can argue that Sanders is set in his "economic theory of oppression" ways. I think to an extent that's true, and like I wrote before, that can form the basis for not supporting Sanders in a primary. But even way up north in lily white Vermont, Bernie Sanders was one of a tiny handful of elected white office holders nation wide to endorse Jessie Jackson when he ran for President. And when he ran for President himself, Sanders got raked over the coals by Donald Trump and the national media for stepping away from the podium and handing over his microphone to a Black Lives Matter activist who interrupted his campaign rally.

If minority voters in America look at Bernie Sanders and decide that someone else would better represent their interests as President than he could, all fair and good. That's what, by and large, happened in 2016 and it may well happen again in 2020 if Bernie chooses to try again. It's one of the criteria that i care about in a candidate also. Racism must be tackled head on and destroyed. On this and many other issues Sanders should be questioned. But Bernie Sanders does not represent white privileged in America, and a casual reader of this forum could sometimes be forgiven for mistakenly getting the impression that he does.

F*ck Billionaires running for President. Period. Not even "good" ones.

And yes I believe that some people who are worth Billions are good and decent on the whole. Some obviously have great talent, at least in certain areas. And no doubt there are individual billionaires, Tom Steyer might be a good example, whose views I largely agree with. But America is a nation of over 300 million.There's got to be hundreds of thousands of people, at the very minimum, whose political views I largely agree with.

We are in danger of allowing vast wealth to create a new political aristocracy in America: Those who can self fund their own campaigns; Those who can buy whatever staff time is needed to get onto 50 State ballots running as an Independent; Those who can simply bypass any and all primary elections and still make the final run off for President.

That undermines the very foundation of democracy, especially in an electronic era where media platforms become our new Town Halls. When it used to be virtually a given that one needed to have a long prior career in public service to rise to the ranks of a presidential candidate, some fundamental vetting took place long before that person's name could appear on a November ballot as a viable candidate for President. Even in those infrequent instances in American history when non-elected officials ran for President, they were Generals who had served their nation for decades prior. Men, like Ike, who could have made vast personal fortunes in the private sector but chose a life of service instead. Now none of that is needed. Now any billionaire can buy a shot at the Presidency any damn time they want.

It is simply wrong. This voter for one has a message to those who seek my support; "Billionaires need not apply."

We are headed either for a State of Emergency Declaration or another Shut Down on Feb. 15th

Trump's battered ego will allow for nothing else given that Democrats will never approve anything he can remotely claim as his vanity wall. The entire political spectrum now says he caved to Nancy and the Dems. The mocking will drive Trump far crazier than he already his. He can't stand it. His rage will drive an irrational decision.

But Trump will fail, fail even worse than he has this time. The nation does not want another shutdown and Republicans in Congress do not want another shut down. My guess is Trump will take the State of Emergency route, and that will not end well for him either. If he tries to shut down the government again he will force Republicans in Congress to break with him, and that would truly break his Presidency, as well as his fragile ego.

So, if Bannon was the Senior Campaign Official directed to reach out to Stone...

On August 17, 2016, Bannon was appointed chief executive of Donald Trump's presidential campaign

The Stone indictment indicates that “After the July 22, 2016 release of stolen DNC emails by Organization 1, a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases".

I am curious about the exact timing. If the above happened before 8/17/2016, than Manaford would have outranked Bannon and therefor could have "directed him" to contact Stone. However, far as I know, Bannon had no official role in the campaign before the shuffle that sent Manaford out the door. If that is true than he would not rightfully be described as a senior Campaign official, prior to 8/17/2016.

Starting on 8/17/2016 Bannon was the CEO of the Trump campaign, which begs the question. Who in the Trump orbit was high ranking enough to "direct" the campaign's CEO regarding anything? Kellyanne sure as hell doesn't qualify. Mueller's team doesn't use terms loosely. If the reporting is true, and Bannon was the Senior Campaign official "directed" to contact Stone, it seems Mueller has evidence implicating someone higher up than the Campaign CEO in this overt "collusion". The options are very limited.

My current Top 6: Warren, Harris, Brown, Booker, Castro, Klobuchar

There are others who I could end up backing before the primary starts as well. It is early; very very early. There are very few who I currently rule out supporting (in the primaries that is.) Bloomberg comes to mind, as does Gabbard. I would like a younger candidate than Biden or Sanders, though I have (differing) reasons to respect them both. I do not expect a perfect candidate. I've been to this dance several times before. Mud can be slung at anyone, and at least some of it will stick. That's life, and that's politics.

Edited to include Castro

It is time for 24 hour peaceful (but loud) protests at the U.S. Capital Building. For TWO reasons.

The main reason is obvious. We the people want, NEED, our government back - literally. Back on the job AND paid.

But a growing protest in and around the Halls of Congress now also serves another purpose. It proves that Speaker Pelosi is correct. Our Constitution guarantees us to right to assemble and present our grievances. And each day that this shutdown continues our reason to do just that increases ten fold. But even the most peaceful and well intentioned protests present significant challenges regarding security and crowd control.

Now is NOT the time for Trump to demand that virtually every important member of our national government gather together under one roof in a single chamber at the capital to witness him deliver a speech that could just as easily be delivered during another week when our government, and the security forces that protect it, are fully functional.

Over the coming days Congress needs to hear from the People far more than they need to hear the same fear laced regurgitated litany of lies about immigration and refugees that Trump spews forth anytime he can find a live microphone. The President has other means to get his message to Congress. Already the public is gathering at the Capital. The crowds will grow. Given that reality, only a fool would insist on addressing a joint session of Congress in the midst of that.

Of course, that is what we have in this President.

The Midterms were a Referendum

Trump, as he himself admitted, was "on the ballot". Every single day he railed about "Caravan Invaders" and the need for his wall. Then Republicans suffered historic losses. Not only in the House, but in State and local elections also.

In 2010 Republicans proudly boasted that the Midterms that year, which gave the G.O.P control of the House, not only repudiated the Democratic President, but also invalidated any mandate Obama and the Democrats won two years earlier.

Well, hello. Wear that shoe on the other foot often?

America doesn't want your stinking wall Trump. And a majority of American voters didn't want it in 2016 either, even when you kept promising that Mexico was going to pay for it.

There's no one even out there to look for prayer rungs in the woods on the Canadian Border

And Al Quada terrorists have entered the U.S. over the Canadian border. If terrorists infiltrating America is the crisis, well what about our Northern border? I hear that Canada admits a lot of refugees from Syria and, you know, some of them are even Muslims. Our Southern border is much better defended than our Northern border, and no doubt terrorists have had time to figure that out by now. So Mr. President, what about that great northern wall? Concrete or steel slats?

Meanwhile, in a nation in which "errant" law enforcement officials have been known, from time to time, to plant drugs or guns on people they arrested, what would stop a right wing rancher from "producing" prayer rugs supposedly left on his or her land? Would they even recognize a prayer rug if they saw one, or might they mistake any small blanket for one?

Thank God we took the House.

The ultimate antidote to cover-ups: Chairs of Congressional Committees willing to allow the truth to take Trump down, because they are not shackled to him at the waist. Public hearings. Subpoenas that follow where the evidence leads them. And that is a very dark place about to be illuminated by spotlights.

The 2018 Mid terms will go down as among the most consequential elections in American history.

If you revisited the accusations made by the Obama and Clinton camps against each other in 2008

during the heat of the primaries, a simple truth is clear. At the highest levels especially, politics is very much hardball. That is the basic norm, though sometimes it goes even further over the top from there. And that should surprise no one. Ultimate success and ultimate power is involved. The presidency in particular is the pinnacle achievement of any political career, and it is also the pinnacle achievement for a political operative to win that prize for their candidate. It brings out every competitive instinct that exists, in the heat of that moment. Whenever possible the candidate is shielded, to an extent, from doing the dirtiest of work themselves, so as not to sully their personal image. Surrogates and "unnamed sources" wield the hatchets for them if possible. Vice Presidential candidates have frequently been chosen, for example, based on their ability to be the "attack dog" for their team.

As to power, everything is riding on the results of presidential elections. Anyone with any agenda has a big stake riding on who wins the presidency. Especially given our two party system, powerful interests often make multiple bets on potential winners, actual ideology often sinking to a lower level criteria for their support, behind viability. Having a claim on the attention of the eventual winner becomes a primary goal. Given how election campaigns are financed in America, especially ones of national consequence, the viability of a candidate often matters more than their platform.

Every day is a "money primary" for a candidate seeking to win a major party nomination in a contested primary field. Who wins that battle daily advances, who loses it sinks. This feeds into the need for a candidate to rather ruthlessly exploit any potential weakness they can find in an election adversary, including those in the same political party as their own. When a candidate has a perceived weakness, it is exploited by an adversary even if that adversary knows there's at most a whiff of smoke present, but no real fire. Almost every primary has a dark underbelly. Sometimes the contenders all float high above the muck, while anonymous sources (aligned with a political campaign) forward dirt and salacious rumors to political reporters about an opponent via envelopes with no return addresses.

Primaries are frequently ugly. We have to brace ourselves so as not to get caught in the undertow. The candidates all know how it works. They know how the game is played. it is played that way because it is not a game. The stakes are very real and they are very high. And the loser(s) usually are quick to pull in their horns once the contest is over. Again, the Obama vs Clinton contest in 2008 shows what is possible.

We are entering the 2020 primary season. I'm not backing anyone yet but I'm going to do my best not to burn any bridges with anyone here who end up backing a candidate other than the one I ultimately choose to support.
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