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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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If the framers only wanted violations of criminal statutes to be grounds for impeachment

it could have been so defined. It wasn't. If the framers wanted that type of limit placed on the allowable grounds to impeach a president, they easily could have so specified in the constitution. They didn't. Why didn't they? I will venture to say they didn't because there was no consensus that the grounds for impeachment should be so tightly restricted that a President could spend every hour of every day on a golf course for four years and not be subject to impeachment; because no specific statute was broken.

Opinions differed back then on what should be impeachable. They also differed in the 1860's, and in the 1970's, and in the 1990's, but Abuse of Power has always been considered constitutional grounds for impeachment by the House of Representatives.

If the framers were so worried that a partisan congress might move to remove an elected President from office, over an "overly vague" charge such as "Abuse of Power", they could have built in a safeguard to prevent that. Instead of allowing a partisan simple majority to kick a President out of office, they could have raised that bar to require an overwhelming majority to do so, something along the lines of a two thirds vote of Congress... Wait a minute. It turns out that is exactly what they did, and a bar set that high has historically fulfilled it's function. Even Andrew Johnson got to serve out his term of office.

So all of the Republican arguments over eligible grounds for impeachment fail on every count. No President has ever been impeached for abusing his power to proclaim national holidays, or abusing his power to lower flags to half mast, or for abusing his ability to give his friends a ride on Air Force One. The Abuse of Power that Trump is accused of is as serious as a heart attack. The Republican Senate is acting like a hospital emergency room that refuses to examine a patient with severe chest pains because he isn't carrying a prescription for that treatment upon entry.

Are those upset about Sanders lack of "Democratic loyalty" similarly upset about Bloomberg?

"Weighing 2020 Bid, Michael Bloomberg Registers as a Democrat"
By Mark Niquette
October 10, 2018, 5:52 AM EDT

"Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he is formally changing his voter registration to Democrat, a possible step toward running for president in 2020. Bloomberg, 76, has been a political independent since abandoning his Republican Party registration in 2007... "

Please note that the source for this is Bloomberg News. And that Bloomberg first held elective office as a Republican, winning the office of NYC Mayor on the Republican line in 2001 and in 2005 before winning it for a third time as an Independent.

Personally I am not bent out of shape by the above, being a little bit familiar with NYC politics. Of far more concern to me about Bloomberg though is who he has been willing to endorse in other important political races, which included some Republicans.

A plausible hypothetical regarding Sanders and Bloomberg

For the sake of discussion, what if Sanders won Iowa, NH, and Nevada and came in a competitive second in SC. There are certainly reasons to think this won't happen but also reasons to think this will. If Biden emerges in relatively good shape from the first three contests the nomination most likely will be his, and that may well happen. This speculative scenario however is one in which Biden disappoints, and perhaps disappoints significantly in the first three contests and then under performs expectations in SC.

At that point should most Democratic activists close ranks behind Sanders? This is a corollary question to whether most Democratic activists should close ranks behind Biden if he wins, say, three of the first four contests. I would be inclined to start unifying behind Biden in the second scenario (though I would look closely at the specific results before fully commuting myself to that in advance). Admittedly other scenarios, with other candidates remaining competitive, remain plausible also. This question obviously doesn't address those scenarios.

If Biden is seen to be losing steam after the first four contests, with Super Tuesday looming, who would be supportive of a potentially Bloomberg led "Stop Bernie" movement if Sanders does exceptionally well in the first four contests? Or would you think it wiser to start closing ranks behind Sanders at that point (in that scenario). I am inclined to the "close ranks" option behind any candidate who wins 3 out of 4 of the early contests who was at least competitive in the fourth contest also. That does not mean that I think all other candidates need to drop out at that point, simply that their own campaigns should accent their candidate's positives and then avoid negative attacks that could damage our likely nominee

Hope to God(dess) Democrats don't drift toward becoming a "Don't walk on my lawn" Party

I remember something about generational divides. I once was embroiled in one myself back in my college years, which was way back in a former century. I still can remember the me that I was during my youth, and even now, looking back, I can honestly say that I was right more often than I was wrong. My analysis of the world was sometimes too bold in vivid contrasts and lacking in some shades of grey, but it wasn't dulled by a grudging acceptance that things are and always will be the way that they are, or at the least that they will likely be destined to remain something closely resembling the way that they were then. One special quality about youth, having been freshly shot out of a cannon, is their ability to soar and for a while at least defy the gravity of conventional wisdom that keeps so many human endeavors from ever getting off the ground.

I could have benefited from some well timed seasoned mentoring at points along my then radical path, but what I did not need was for people to tell me I was simply wrong, or that "it just isn't done that way." Fundamental change rarely comes about by continuing to do things the way they have always been done. And some times just cry out for fundamental change. It was true in my youth, and it is true today.

I don't remember a time in Democratic politics when so much of a generation was called out for being wrong, for transgressing norms, for being unrealistic, and/or for doing harm to their own cause in the political arena than I see now, except perhaps for when the same thing happened during my own youth to my own generation. I can't remember a time, since my own youth, when those who identified with a political candidate became as much the focus of political attack or scorn as was the literal candidate.

It is not just statistical noise that Bernie Sanders is so much more popular among those under 40, of every race, than he is among those over 60, of every race. It is politically profound. The implications may be messy and difficult to sort out, but this divide should not simply be glossed over or dismissed. And it sure as hell shouldn't be reduced to and belittled as representing the naivety of youth vs the wisdom of age.

We can't have it both ways about Green Party voters

We can't raise holy hell about how those who were willing to vote Green in 2016 helped elect Trump and then be dismissive as all hell every time someone who did vote Green in 2016 expresses enthusiasm about voting for someone who is running for president as a Democrat in 2020. If a 2016 Green Party voter now backs someone running for the Democratic nomination for president,no way that can be spun as a bad thing, not when so many here think that the lure voting Green had in 2016 cost Democrats the presidency.

I get why so many here lack all respect for anyone who voted for Stein in 2016. It's a free country and all of that, but in virtually all of our opinions here that was clearly the wrong thing to do. It certainly doesn't make them some kind of hero now when a former Green voter today expresses support for someone running for the Democratic nomination. If they fail to ultimately support whoever wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, they become fair game to the same line of attack this time around as the last time around.

It is a favorable thing if a Democratic Party candidate can win over the support in 2020 of a million or more people who voted for Stein in 2016. It is a plus in the equation for retaking the White House in 2020. If someone wants to make the case that the cost of winning over that million votes is the loss of more votes elsewhere, OK, that is a legitimate debate. But it is asinine to mock everyone who once voted Green but who now want to support a Democratic candidate. We are angry at them for not having voted Democratic before, it flies in the face of all logic to mock them for expressing openness to voting for a Democratic candidate now.

So I hear that Bernie Sanders isn't really a Democrat

I can't really counter that argument. Bernie, I am told, has agreed to run as a Democrat for President if he wins the Democratic Party nomination for President. That is a meaningful technicality but still seems a technicality none the less. Throughout his long career Senator Sanders has primarily been identified as an Independent, and therefor at least one step removed from the heart of our two party system in America.

Sanders has shown a good grasp on the pragmatic political implications of our two party system, as evidenced by his membership in good standing in the U.S. Senate Democratic caucus. And also by his refusal to run as a candidate himself for President in a general election without the endorsement of the Democratic Party, differentiating himself from the likes of Ralph Nader and Jill Stein. Still, as so many point out, "Bernie Sanders isn't really a Democrat".

That observation reminds me of another made back in 2016, that time by long time members in good standing of the then traditional Republican Party. They observed, with compelling reasons, that Donald J. Trump wasn't really a Republican. Unlike with Bernie Sanders we don't know for sure if Trump would have run for President as an Independent if he had lost the Republican primaries because, well, he won the Republican primaries. And then, against all odds as determined by the traditional pundits, he went on to win the presidency with, like George W. Bush once before him, the help of the electoral college dispute losing the popular vote. In retrospect pundits noted that Trump assembled what was then thought of as an atypical voter coalition for a Republican presidential candidate, one that tapped into economic distress in "rust belt" states, winning votes that had until recently gone Democratic.

I sense strongly that we are no longer living in traditional mid to late 20th century times. The bases that we had traditionally associated with Democratic and Republican coalitions are shifting at the margins. The core of the major party bases remain as they had been of course. Republicans still can count on anti-abortion and pro-gun voters, and those aligned with the interests of the super wealthy in America. Democrats can count on strong support from People of Color, and from those ideologically liberal. Republicans however are losing some appeal with college educated suburban voters who stood for fiscal conservatism but who are socially moderate or liberal. And Democrats are losing some appeal with the type of working American who may not always be socially liberal but who previously supported Democrats on economic grounds. The type of voters who might have been in unions a few decades ago when unions were still strong in America but now are free agents more up for grabs.

Loyalty to both of our major parties is more fluid now than it was a couple of decades ago. The percentage of Americans who refuse to register with either party continues to rise. The thing is, we are being myopic if we insist on looking at this trend taking place in America in isolation from what has happening in the rest of the world.The grip of established political parties throughout the world on electorates has been loosening. Mexico was a one party state for decades, now there are three or more parties capable of electing a president. The UK once had Labor and the Conservatives, with a smattering of Liberal Party MP's, but now representation in parliament is significantly more scattered with new political parties popping up. France's current president cobbled together a brand new political party to victoriously lead into elections, upsetting the previous long standing political order. New viable political parties have emerged in Israel. The Green Party is now a partner of various current or recent governing coalitions in Europe, something that rarely if ever happened in the late 20th Century. In newer democracies, where mainstream political parties have shallow roots, they are often swept away by grassroots movements that emerge seemingly from nowhere, as was the case with Zelinsky in Ukraine.

Even when traditional political parties remain viable inside their countries, the leadership of those parties is starting to emerge from more maverick elements operating within them. Trump is an obvious example here, but Boris Johnson in the UK is no John Majors Conservative, nor is Jeremy Corbyn in line with Tony Blair type Labor leadership. Political norms in the 21st century have become more unstable, as election results swing wildly from right to left to right again with no indication of settling anytime soon. There is a general unease with what was seen as the previously established political order, both here and abroad. Our own two party political system remains intact for now, but there are new currents gaining force below the surface that occasionally burst into view. There is an anti-establishment mood growing in much of the world. Some call it populism, whether from the left or right. And unlike how people like me used the term "establishment" back in the late 60's, today that term is less ideologically laden. Now it more represents the status quo, whatever that may be.

So I hear that Bernie Sanders isn't really a Democrat. OK, got it. But I'm not sure that would overall be a liability today for a candidate running with Democratic Party support in the general election. If that is true, those who are well established within the current political order are likely to be among the last to recognize the shifting the sands.

The "Youth Vote" is a wild card this year, with Climate Change now a burning issue

I know from personal experience how much the Draft and the Vietnam War fueled youth activism in the late 60's. But the voting age was 21 back then. so while I was on the streets I was never in a voting booth.

Conventional wisdom about the traditionally depressed levels of youth voting compared to other age group blocks may get upended in 2020. Climate change is becoming personal for younger people today in a way that the Vietnam War was for young people in the 60's. It wouldn't take fully closing the gap between voting rates for those over 60 compared to those below 30 to significantly alter the overall voter profile in 2020 compared to prior presidential election years. Just a major uptick in youth voter turnout can potentially swing the outcome in numerous states this time. With enough enthusiasm generated for Democrats, that may well be within reach. And right now no one is generating more youth enthusiasm than Bernie Sanders.

It was a private conversation.

It was intended to be a private conversation. It should have remained a private conversation. Over the course of two hours I am willing to believe that Sanders said something that left Warren with the impression that Sanders was then pessimistic about the chances that a woman could defeat Donald Trump in 2020. This was an open and unguarded candid discussion and Sanders had every reason to believe that things said in confidence that night would not later be betrayed, and that there was no need to weigh how each word spoken that night might later be spun. I do not know if Warren decided to break their confidence, or whether that was done without authorization to a reporter by one of Warren's close confidants.

But what ended up going public was reported as a very blunt statement lacking in any nuance or context. Just on the face of it that was a low blow, because even if one believes Warren regarding the bottom line, that released statement cast Sanders in the worst possible light at a key point in the primary process. Again, giving Warren the benefit of the doubt, I still do not believe for an instant that Sanders blurted out a comment like that outside of a larger context. He once urged Warren to run for President. He believes that women can and should run for the highest offices in the land, including the presidency. Their conversation that night was focused on who could defeat Donald Trump in 2020. Two years later they may have differing recollections about was meant by what was said in which sub set of an in depth two hour long personal conversation.

I don't accuse Warren of lying, but realistically, politically, Sanders was never going to get a chance to rewind that tape and revisit the context and full true meaning of any of the words he spoke that night in private. We live in a sound bite political world. It is not an option for Sanders to now say, "Well, from a purely technical standpoint Warren may be correct about that conversation, however what her statement fails to convey was the whole of my opinions that I expressed that night, and taken out of its original context, her summary of what I said is misleading at best. It does not accurately summarize our conversation" That would not fly in today's political world. It would end up as "Sanders confirms that he does not believe a woman can win the presidency." The fact that Warren accosted Sanders after the debate into an open microphone made matters for both them even worse. Sanders was right to wave off that public conversation for a later private moment, if anything truly remains private in politics anymore.

By breaking their former personal.confidence in the way that she did, Warren publicly put Sanders into an untenable political position. If Warren was forced into this action by an unauthorized leak by one of her confidants, at the very least she should have reiterated that she knows that Sanders has been supportive of Women running for any office in the land in the past, herself included, and that she is confident that he will again in the future, but they simply differed in their assessment of the type candidate who could defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

I wish Warren at least had done that. I hope the latest news on impeachment keeps this political spat from remaining high profile in the news cycle for the next week. I don't want to see Warren trashed over this. I don't want to see Sanders trashed over this. Neither are perfect political beings incapable of making any missteps. Each of their chances at the nomination should not be disproportionately effected by this incident. This hasn't been the finest political hour for either of them but I would gladly back either of them for President should one of them become our nominee. Fundamentally I know that they both have the best interests of our nation at heart. After the current 24 hour news cycle I will not take part in prolonging this "controversy" any further.

I would be fine if Biden, Warren, Sanders, or essentially any of our canidates gets the nomination

I think that is the way the overwhelming majority of Democrats feel. I have some preferences regarding some policies and priorities. In a more typical election cycle that would matter more to me than it does now. I don't care who has or does not have annoying traits, I am not guided by who has or does not have disagreeable followers (or bots impersonating disagreeable followers). I do however care about who has a solid chance of beating Trump. Of our currently leading candidates I am least confident that Buttigieg does, although he does impress me as a person with a very bright future.

In other words, my personal preferences remain soft. I will fall in strongly behind our candidate for President whoever that is. No hard feelings about anything will stand in the way of that for me.
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