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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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Cohen faces Jail for lying to Congress. No one is LESS likely to lie to Congress again than Cohen

If there is anyone in our nation who understands the consequences of lying to a Congressional Committee it is Michael Cohen who is about to enter prison, in part because of having done just that. Yet Cohen is testifying again before Congress, voluntarily, under oath.

Nothing comes closer to defining a perjury trap than this for someone who is not planning to testify truthfully. Republicans will push to prosecute Cohen again in a nano second if they catch him in any lie.

Right now Michael Cohen is the most credible person in that hearing. Period.

I remember when Republicans did everything in their power to hep Hispanic refugees settle in America

They came to escape oppression. They came for a better life for their children. They came from Cuba. And Republicans could not be anymore welcoming than they were. And the children of those refugees prospered here in the land of the free...

"Rubio's maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia, immigrated to the U.S. legally in 1956, but returned to Cuba to find work in 1959.[7] When he fled communist Cuba and returned to the U.S. in 1962 without a visa,[8] he was detained as an undocumented immigrant and an immigration judge ordered him to be deported.[7][9] Immigration officials had a change of heart later that day, the deportation order was not enforced, and Garcia was given a legal status of "parolee" that allowed him to stay in the U.S.[10][11][12] Garcia re-applied for permanent resident status in 1966 following passage of the Cuban Adjustment Act, at which point his residency was approved.[10] Rubio enjoyed a close relationship with his grandfather during his childhood."

"Cruz's father was born and raised in Cuba. He left in 1957 to attend the University of Texas at Austin and obtained political asylum in the U.S. after his four-year student visa expired.[10] He earned Canadian citizenship in 1973[3] and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2005.[7][11][12]"

Trump's most recent approval rating rise doesn't alarm me

"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's job approval rating has risen to 44% after the conclusion of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history...

...The latest readings are from a Feb. 1-10 Gallup poll. The poll began less than a week after Trump signed legislation to end the 35-day shutdown and open the government for three weeks so lawmakers could negotiate funding for a border wall.

Trump's overall approval rating, which had slumped to 37% amid the shutdown, hasn't been this high since October, after his nominee Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. His current approval is just one percentage point shy of his personal best, achieved twice in his presidency -- in the first week of his term and in June 2018, after his meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump's job approval rating was up significantly throughout the survey field period, including in the days before and after his Feb. 5 State of the Union address. Accordingly, it is more likely that his decision to end the shutdown was the primary factor in his improved rating."

What does alarm me is that more than 10% of Americans approve of Trump, regardless of whether his numbers are going up or down this week. Once I swallow that bitter pill, this current bump up in his approval numbers means little IMO. While the government was closed, the escalating pain and chaos made it hard even for some of those inclined to favor Trump to stand with him. The news every day got worse, with no bottom in sight. That led many to back away from associating with Trump. Now identifying with Trump no longer carries the stigma of paralyzing air travel for example, or ignoring government workers in fear of losing their homes. Now they can be anti-immigrant again without the price tag.

Gallup's Kavanaugh comparison above is telling. His hearing was the last time the Right felt itself under a whole scale daily media pounding. The instinct to rally and counterattack is strong. It's been Democrats who have dominated the narrative in recent months, for the most part sine the midterms. It's all been about Nancy Pelosi and newly elected Democrats. Hardly anyone is even aware of any newly elected Republicans. A backlash was inevitable. Perhaps, lame and hollow as it was, Trump's State of the Union address sounded like a trumpet call to some.

Throughout his entire presidency Trump's reign has been identified with harsh noise, chaos and confusion. It's been a constant din, and it is worth restating that Trump's approval numbers have never been close to positive. They aren't now either. But more noise has been emerging on the Democratic side in recent weeks, with Democratic House Chairs signalling this or that soon to commence aggressive action, with a slew of Democratic presidential candidates competing for the spotlight, and with new political ideas and agendas popping up in the public sphere. It's a constant swirl with clear definition yet lacking, and it's a natural window for the Republican counter attack.

Mueller's probe has settled into a constant backdrop. New details keep emerging about the same cast of characters who are already actively embroiled in it, but big new shoes have yet to drop. Most Americans simply aren't tuned into the same tantalizing hints and indications that Rachel Maddow can spend most of an hour talking about. We occupy a transition window of time. Mueller has not yet revealed his cards. Public House hearings have not yet begun in earnest. Democratic presidential debates have not yet filled the airwaves. As surely as Trump's approval numbers have just risen, they are certain to fall again.

Let Centrists unite with the Left for a change

The entire country can't be united in the foreseeable future. The madness on the right needs to be quarantined in an isolation ward until that infection runs its course.

The status quo in America over the last several decades has resulted in the Super Rich vacuuming up all of our nation's new wealth. Income inequality has gone through the roof. Our infrastructure has crumbled. Our deficits have exploded. Retirement savings for typical Americans have dwindled. Our health care costs have risen.

And now racism is rearing it's ugly head once again, stage center, in what once was called "polite society." That tends to happen when people are fearful and those fears are flamed by those who profit from people pitted against each other. Most Americans know our nation is on the "wrong track" even if the stock market is still thriving. So called prosperity is paper thin for the overwhelming majority of us, and the specter of our next Recession has begun to haunt us all.

The Right in America is either crazed or cravenly self serving. The Center is complicit in this trickle up economy. Let the Left lead now and maybe, just maybe, American capitalism can once again be saved from itself, like it once was in 1932.

I'm making a big political exception: I'm adding ex NC Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. to my list of heroes

Rep. Jones died today, and I've been reading a bit more about him. In many ways that I know of, and probably many many more that I'm unaware of, he was far from the type of politician who I would ordinarily honor. I have no doubt during his career that he cast hundreds of votes that would make me cringe to contemplate (some might remember he was the one who pushed to rename french fries "freedom fries" in the congressional cafeteria). Jones cast one vote in particular that infuriated me at the time, when his was a leading voice for invading Iraq under then President George W. Bush. The thing is, that vote soon came to make him cringe as well.

North Carolina's The News & Observer led off coverage of his death today with this:

"Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., an Eastern North Carolina congressman who made it his mission to atone for his vote sending U.S. troops into Iraq in the early 2000s, died Sunday on his 76th birthday. Jones, like his father, served his district for nearly a quarter-century."

It goes on to add this:

"I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam (Hussein) being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction,” Jones said in a 2015 radio interview. “Because I did not do my job then, I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.”

Jones signed more than 11,000 letters to families of dead troops since 2003, an act he told The Associated Press was “penance” for his vote. Jones began sending the letters after attending the 2003 funeral of Marine Sgt. Michael Bitz.

“I want them to know that my heart aches as their heart aches,” he told the AP.

Outside of his House office, Jones had the photos of “anybody that’s been sent and died from Camp Lejeune,” he told The News & Observer, in American wars since 2003. The memorial, which also included some members of the National Guard from North Carolina, had grown to roughly 580 in 2018."

There are other positive things that can be said about Jones, he opposed Citizens United for one, but for the most part he voted like the Republican he was. But this, "Jones signed more than 11,000 letters to families of dead troops since 2003, an act he told The Associated Press was “penance” for his vote." in my mind sets him apart as a human being. For tonight at least, that is what stands out for me about Rep. Walter Jones.

I will set aside my politics temporarily to honor the passing of a genuine human being who understood exactly what "accountability" means.

Here is the link to the story quoted above"

I think it more likely than not the Republican Party will collapse under the weight of corruption

Not a total collapse, we will never be so lucky, but maybe just maybe we will have the Presidency, the House, and 60 seats in the Senate after the 2020 elections. That is super majority territory, and that is what is needed to start reversing all of the damage that Republicans have caused this nation. Another blue wave that big is a tall order indeed. The Senate will be hard to win a super majority in. With even the smallest rural states getting the same number of Senators allotted to them as California, New York or Illinois receives, the radical polarizing of the electorate in recent years means Republicans just have to hold on to their core base to keep at least 41 Senate seats in GOP hands. I don't think Republicans will pull it off.

Sure they will hold on to the strong majority of their current base, but I believe they will suffer enough defections to put some Southern Senate seats in play, and even seats in states like Kansas and Iowa are not beyond reach. Based on a political snapshot taken today, the odds are slim that Democrats could reach the 60 Senate seat mark by 2020. But politics have rarely been as unstable in a hundred years as they are today. While the situation is not entirely analogous, Nixon won reelection in 1972 losing only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Two years later he was out of office. And Democrats swept to power in 2016.

Once it seemed like the Mueller probe would expose Donald Trump for the corrupt fraud that he is. Now it increasingly looks like a plethora of major Republican figures will be implicated also. This will be hugely damning. Pay to play politics is bringing ruin onto rural America. The Republicans have over played their hand, thinking social hot bottom issues and pure racism can insulate them from any real blow back. But the income tax cut scam is starting to unravel. Their nearly decade long push to abolish Obamacare continues to blow up in Republican faces. And, in myriad ways, moves like deregulating payday loan charlatans will begin to pile up on their backs. And this is all before the proverbial shit hits the fan and it becomes abundantly clear to almost all who the Republican Party chiefly serves, and it isn't the American people.

Which is more inappropriate?

Not holding an elected leader adequately accountable for prior acts of racial insensitivity/prejudice, or allowing an opposing political party with a systematic record of racial intolerance to take over the administration of a State's government, to then implement policies rejected by the electorate in the last gubernatorial election?

What is happening now in Virginia with the three top state wide elected officials can't be looked at as individual cases only. There will be profound adverse effects on the lives of millions of Virginia citizens it the Republican Party, which was soundly defeated in their efforts to win state wide leadership positions in the last election, now inherits the Governor's position by default.

If Virginia's Governor and Attorney General are forced out of office due to their past acts of prejudice, and the Lt. Governor is forced out over an alleged sexual assault, Republicans will then control Virginia. There will be real life consequences for women and People of Color if that happens.

What Lt. Governor Fairfax is being accused of is a literal serious crime. If the accusation is true he can not remain in office. If the weight of available evidence leads the public to believe that he likely is guilty of that crime then he can not hold office. If he is indicted of a crime he can not hold a leadership position. This is still a fluid situation as Fairfax strongly denies the allegation of non nonsexual sex, but the evidential standard that would make him an unsuitable leader is lower than that which would be needed to convict him.

Which brings us to the number one and number three positions in Virginia's executive branch. Neither is accused of a crime. In my opinion the prior misdeeds of the current Governor are more serious than that of the AG. Northam was in his mid twenties when they occurred, Herring was 19. The blackface photo Northam is associated with also included the most stark representation of white supremacy possible, the KKK. The blackface portrayal was an overtly mocking presence. That photo was published in Northam's yearbook. I do not find it credible that he never learned of that at least after the fact, assuming he is to believed that he disn't submit that photo himself, which it is hard to do given his shifting stories. But beyond that, Northam admitted to another blackface incident, and his public stance regarding all of it is an underwhelming display of insufficient understanding of the pain he has caused.

AG Herring was a teenager who at least plausibly had positive feelings about the rapper he tried to imitate. There was no subsequent public record of the photo taken at that party, and the tone of Herring's apology rings with greater sincerity and understanding of the seriousness of his error than did that or Northam.

Given the high stakes involved, leadership of the State of Virginia with all that entails for the citizens of that State, I believe Democrats should rally behind Attorney General Herring now and forgive him, if nothing else for pragmatic but very significant and far reaching policy reasons. The man committed no crime. But it would be a crime to now in effect potentially overturn the last election and hand Republicans the keys to Virginia.

How many of us have never looked at our own Yearbook?

OK, let's just say for the moment that a few folks, for whatever reason, never did. How many of us don't have at least a friend or two who would let us know that they had seen our page in that yearbook, if there was a photo of a swastika associated with our name? Or in this case a hooded Klan man standing with a clownish black faced white guy?

I mean, mistakes like that happen all the time, right? No big deal, nothing to be embarrassed about and no need to disavow it, either then or in the decades that followed...

Northam may be a totally different man now than he was as a Med school graduate (and yes, at 24 he was a man, not a boy.) Frankly, I don't know definitively if he is or not. I assume he has evolved since those days, most people do evolve, but I'm not in a position to know to what extent. His politics have evolved from Republican to Democratic, that is a matter of record. And as a Democrat he has taken some progressive stands, that too is on record. But his response to having that yearbook photo exposed is now also on the record. And it too is a fail.

I don't think the man deserves to be destroyed over something that happened 35 years ago which was never adequately dealt with; not then, not in the years that followed, and not this weekend either. But having to step aside from the Governorship does NOT equal being destroyed. America usually embrace those who truly repent. We may no longer trust them to occupy the same positions of power that they once held, but we can grow new and in some cases even greater respect for them. I listen closely to John Dean now, and learn from what he has to teach.

Today, more than ever, we need moral leadership on matters of racial justice from those who occupy our highest offices, particularly inside states where racial justice was once so blatantly trampled on. If there is a case to make to rally around Governor Northam now, that case must originate with Black Virginians first. Were that the case, I would be receptive to hearing it. Lacking that, and that is in fact lacking, Northam must step down. And progressive activists, especially white progressive activists, must not reflexively rally to his side out of partisan loyalties.
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