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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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How might I describe a liberal media or political player who tilts toward "the establishment"?

Someone who, back when Obama was trying to get Congress to repeal the Bush tax cuts, would argue that they should not be repealed on those with a household income up to $250,000 a year, because that would "punish the middle class." That at a time when the Federal minimum wage remained well below ten bucks an hour. Democrats used to own the loyalty of most of the working class, when we unquestionably stood for the common "man", but that was a former time.

I support Bernie but I'm fine with Biden's SC win last night

First off, congratulations to all of the Biden supporters on this board. Joe is a good man and he earned that victory. We have already lost a number of really good candidates from this race and we are bound to lose more soon. This happens every time there is a contested Democratic presidential primary fight. I know, I've been on the losing end often enough.

First and foremost I am relieved that Biden rallied strongly last night because I am hopeful that just drove a silver stake through a vampire that has been stalking American electoral politics increasingly in recent years. And NO, I am not talking about any of the mortal flesh and blood candidates in our field this year, not them as persons anyway. I have increasingly become alarmed at the role vast wealth has started to play in presidential politics. This year that manifests acutely with the candidacies of Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. I admit that I actually kind of like Tom Steyer, and I recognize that Michael Bloomberg has excellent administrative skills. But each used their mind boggling personal wealth to leap ahead to the front of the line of people voters choose among for our next potential leader. Kamala Harris and Corey Booker and Julio Castro couldn't afford to blanket the air waves wit their message or field armies of professional staffers across numerous states simultaneously.

If Biden faltered last night, Steyer and Bloomberg would have been strongly encouraged. Big Money would have stormed the top of our field . It the gambit of billionaires entering presidential races by self financing their campaigns from bottomless personal reserves this year had succeeded. the lid would be off Pandora's box. People owning massive wealth tend to have large egos. Why not insert themselves directly into the final ring of politics when they are enamored with what they think they have to offer? It only costs a half billion to do, which means essentially nothing if you still have multi-billions left over to play with when the race is over. The only real deterrent to that is failure, because people like that aren't used to failing. They have money to burn but it pains them to flush cash down the toilet with little to show for it. Let this year be the end of all that. Let billionaires at least retreat back to their former role of behind the scenes donors.

I am hopeful that 2020 will be seen as the year that proved limitless funds alone can not buy the presidency. Beyond that maybe now we can focus on the two different paths forward that Bernie and Joe are offering to America, They are both good people but the contrast between them is sharp. I'm ready for this debate in general, and for the literal presidential debates ahead that will afford both men the time they need to thoroughly present their cases.

Bloomberg has half the support of Klobuchar here and barely edges out Gabbard

I know that DU is not representative of the Democratic Party electorate as a whole, but we tend to skew toward the moderate side in the universe of Democratic activists. The fact that only 1% of DU members on this forum pick Bloomberg as their first choice should tell us something. All the money in the world can't buy voter enthusiasm.

Bernie has an important point to make regarding Cuba. I hope he makes it strongly

Bernie has been opposing U.S. adventurist military interventions for his entire career. It constitutes an unbroken consistent stance over multiple decades and multiple U.S. Administrations. Those comments of his from the 80's were made within the context of Reagan's thinly veiled clandestine military support for the Contras in Nicaragua. Bernie had a point to make, and it was as important then as it is now. It is that the U.S., through a combination of military might and wishful thinking, can not impose regimes to our liking on the people of other nations.

The example he used regarding Castro, and he used it in his full interview, was that it was arrogant and foolish to have believed that the entire Cuban people were going to rise up and overthrow Castro when the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred. They didn't, and it is as important to recognize the reasons for that failed military policy objective then as it is to recognize the failure of the U.S. military policy objective behind Bush/Cheney's invasion of Iraq. Cheney, in particular, promised that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would be a short lived cake walk, with the mass of Iraq's citizens waving American flags and cheering us on as "Liberators". They didn't. Just like the people of Nicaragua did not openly embrace the Contra forces as their liberators either and quickly overthrow the Sandinistas, just because Reagan wanted them to.

Circumstances throughout much of the world where people are not free to Democratically choose their own governments are complex. Castro may have been brutal, but he overthrew an at least equally brutal right wing dictator in Batista. Ortega's government was no ideal bastion of democracy and civil rights, but he overthrew a brutal right wing dictator in Somoza. Many people suffered horribly under Castro, and many people suffered horribly under Batista before him. When true freedom is not an option many people chose to support one of their lesser options, which of two sides is more likely to ensure that their own families are fed, educated and housed?

America has zilch credibility for supporting the democratic aspirations of the people of other nations around the world. We helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Guatemala which has been followed by decades of chaos. We backed a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran and subsequently helped install the Shah, which led us down a road of conflict that continues today. We supported the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Chile, which led to the horror of the tens of thousands of "disappeared".

Even today, Trump has wet dreams of "regime change in Iran" as we hover on the knife's edge of military conflict with that nation. We need to recognize that given no viable "good choice", and unfortunately that is true for the people in dozens of nations around the world today, they will give their support instead to the perceived "lesser evil" choice, the one that will give them at least the greatest degree of basic economic survival assurance. Sometimes that will be a right wing dictator. Sometimes that will be a left wing dictator. But it usually isn't whoever Washington DC wants to install for them through direct or indirect military means. Our track record is pretty damn poor in that regard. THAT is the point that Sanders has to make. He was right then, and he is right now

South Carolina is even more important than we all say it is this year

All year a lot of us have been having a running debate about what America is looking for from a Democratic Party Presidential nominee to depose Trump: Either someone who promises a steady hand with sane familiar though improved policies that can appeal to suburban Republicans, mainstream Democrats and centrist Independents, binding them together for a winning Democratic coalition in the fall; or a populist figure fervently fighting for Americans who the super wealthy increasingly have left behind, a candidate who offers a sharp break from the status quo with a bold vision for reversing the growing income inequality and deeply rooted financial insecurity that has built up over decades for people living pay check to pay check.

Seemingly those two possible paths forward are contradictory, but there are only three candidates left with any plausible path forward to the nomination that doesn't involve a whole lot of wheeling and dealing at a brokered Democratic Convention. They are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Michael Bloomberg, arrayed from left to right in that order. That puts Biden at the center of our plausibly viable field, and South Carolina will largely determine whether that center can still hold.

It is my strong conviction that Michael Bloomberg is essentially impersonating the type of steady hand sane familiar policies alternative for Democrats that Joe Biden actually personifies. If Joe Biden regains his sea legs in South Carolina, and keeps gathering strength from there, it is conceivable to me that he could win the nomination without totally fracturing our Democratic Coalition. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both supported John Kerry's 2004 presidential run, Michael Bloomberg supported George W. Bush. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden both display strong affinities for people who work hard to just get by. Michael Bloomberg pointed out at the last debate that he too worked hard while earning 60 Billion dollars.

It won't be easy but I think either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders have a chance of preventing the total fracture of our Democratic coalition after the Summer convention. Michael Bloomberg does not. The crowds Bernie is drawing on the stump are real people, not Russian trolls and bots. Younger voters of all races largely identify with the politics Bernie Sanders represents, but almost all of them can look at least somewhat fondly back at the Obama/Biden Administration, in light of what followed that team into the White House. Michael Bloomberg is a giant right leap too far, for many of them, and Joe Biden oozes charisma compared to Bloomberg.

South Carolina will give us a much better sense of whether the main alternate candidate to Bernie Sanders in this race will be Joe Biden, or Michael Bloomberg. That difference is profound.

Has Bloomberg's paid brigade started arriving at Discussion sites like DU yet?

I am referring to the Bloomberg online campaign efforts reported on and discussed here:

"Bloomberg campaign paying workers $2,500 per month to promote Bloomberg through texts, social media"

Since Bloomberg is openly attempting to rally support to his side under an "anti-Socialist Candidate" banner I expect part of his efforts will stress the alleged danger of nominating a Democratic candidate holding views deemed "too extreme", targeting Bernie Sanders and/or Elizabeth Warren specifically.

Obligatory note to potential Jurors. I do not for an instant believe that all or most of those who might back Bloomberg here are being paid to do so, nor do I assume that anyone being paid to participate in politics does not sincerely hold the views that they express. I listen to campaign surrogates all of the time, often they have the best command of arguments favoring their candidate and they provide a valuable service to me and other voters in the process. But all of us have become more aware of the role that bots and trolls are now playing on social media. I would love it if somehow the paid staff of any candidate posting on places like DU would acknowledge their work relationship with their perspective campaigns, just like surrogates do when they make their case for candidates on Cable news networks.

When Putin decides to "help" any Democrat during an election Putin wins.

Putin wins whether that candidate welcomes so called "help" or denounces it. And he wins no matter how that candidate subsequently fares in the election. The stronger the feelings associated with the candidate run, the more Putin wins. The more loyal that candidate's backers are, and the more determined that candidate's opponents are, the more Putin wins. The grounds for intense division are established.

It becomes a ploy that Russia can't lose no matter who emerges victorious from our primaries. Democrats are so high strung at this stage in an election cycle that we reflexively pass on charges and counter charges, including those that cross over into full blown conspiracy theories about possible "collaboration", without need of further Russian guidance. With the specter of "election interference" thrown into an already volatile primary mix, we have more reasons not to trust each other. let alone the motives of various Democratic candidates jockeying for some kind of electoral advantage. Let alone the election process itself.

The Russian Bear does indeed exist, but now it is glimpsed behind every tree. How can we trust any election outcome once the Bear, through means still cloaked in shadows, has "meddled"? And where does it leave us if we can't trust the legitimacy of our elections, after they become viewed as "tainted"? Exactly where Russia wants us.

Sanders did not solicit Russia's aid. He did not encourage it, and he does not

try to pretend that Russia isn't messing with our elections. Instead he reaffirms the need to act to stop Russian interference in our elections. What should Bernie have done when he was briefed on what Putin is up to regarding his campaign for President? He should have cooperated fully with the FBI after the briefing. That is his responsibility, and no one has produced a shred of evidence to suggest that he didn't and that he isn't still fully cooperating. Trump openly asked for Russian help. He encouraged Russian interference. No one has produced a single shred of evidence to suggest that Sanders has encouraged Russian interference, or that he wants it.

Sanders, like all of us here, wants a clean election process that is not skewed by the effects of Russian interference, in either direction. Just look around DU and the internet in general. News emerging of Russian Pro Sanders Russian interference hurts the Sanders campaign for reasons that one can easily deduce from reading some of the comments on the threads responding to this news.

Voters outside of the die hard Trump base already know that Russia interferes in our elections now. It's not like Bernie turned down some chance to be a 21st century Paul Revere by not rushing out and proclaiming "Russia is trying to help me get elected!". It's not like he refused to be a whistle blower, no, he declined to inflict damage on his own campaign literally during actual elections. Sanders didn't ask for Putin to supposedly "help him". Now he has to weather a spate of negative publicity concerning his election prospects on the eve of crucial primary contests.

The full statement Sanders issued is exactly the type of thing that Donald Trump should have issued four years ago, and four months ago, and four days ago, and four hours ago. But Trump will never do it. Bernie Sanders did.

Biden and Bloomberg are both being called "Moderate Democrats" this year

I haven't thoroughly poured over both of their platforms, but for the sake of argument, let's assume that their positions are more or less similar. Even were that true, there are still huge differences between these men and the politics they represent. Neither of them emerged out of a vacuum into the presidential race spotlight this year. They both have public records stretching back decades, either in public service or in a combination of high profile business pursuits and public service. Look at their lives, what they've said and what they've done over many years, and it is clear that Joe Biden is a moderate Liberal. Mike Bloomberg however is a stone cold centrist. If fact you could use his face to illustrate the political meaning of that term.

I don't claim that a man can't change, that he can't evolve. Barack Obama "evolved" on Gay marriage for one famous example, and Joe Biden might have played some small part in that. But unless someone claims to have had a profound "Come to Jesus" moment that made them rethink everything that they previously held as true, no one at age 78 is going to stray too far from the values and priorities that guided them, successfully, up to that point. I am always skeptical of so called "Come to Jesus" moments, but I don't deny that they (rarely) can happen. There is nobody claiming Bloomberg went through anything like that. It's more like now, on the eve of seeking the support of Democratic voters, he revisited some of the things he stood for before and says that he no longer stands for them quite the same now, which conveniently puts Bloomberg more in line with the primary electorate.

I feel like I have somewhat of a handle on who Joe Biden is as a person and I feel he's clearly a compassionate human being, one with natural empathy for the struggles that others, often of lesser station in life, go through. And the choices Biden has made throughout his life for the most part reflect that. I can't easily reach a similar conclusion about Mike Bloomberg. Joe Biden is a life long Democrat. Mike Bloomberg was a conservative Democrat who became a Republican who became an Independent who became a "moderate Democrat today. I realize that Bernie Sanders has changed labels also, but he has never been a centrist, he has always been left of center and every one knows where he has always stood.

Speaking as a Sanders supporter, I can far easier relate to Joe Biden heading up our national ticket should Bernie Sanders fall short than I could to Michael Bloomberg, and I doubt I am alone in that. While I disagree with Biden on some priorities and policies, I never express concern on DU over who he fundamentally is. My expressed concerns have always related to how effective a campaigner he now seems to be, and whether he can rally the enthusiasm needed to win.

Joe Biden is a class act. I note the way he expresses his criticism regarding Bernie's positions on issues, and on the movement backing Sanders, and Biden does so carefully and precisely. He may say that Sanders is a self professed "Democratic Socialist", he doesn't shorten it to "Socialist" for additional effect He wants Sanders to look into the behavior of some so called supporters of Bernie online, to see if any might literally work for him, and expresses hope that Sanders will do so. Then I contrast that with Mike Bloomberg directly associating Sanders with Donald Trump, insinuating that Trump is Bernie's new Bro. Yes I will support Mike Bloomberg if he becomes our nominee. I know that Trump must be stopped. But it will be much harder to convince some other self identified progressives to do the same if Bloomberg is our candidate, compared to any number of other possible alternatives, should Bernie Sanders fall short himself.

Why is the media ignoring this about Michael Flynn regarding his sentencing guidelines?

Michael Flynn entered into a plea bargain with the FBI. That is not quite the same thing as "only pleading guilty to a single charge." The entire basis of the type of plea deal that Flynn originally struck with the FBI was a reward for cooperating with the prosecution in ongoing investigations into matters that he could bear witness to. And what exactly does that type "reward" entail? It entails going easy on him. Specifically it meant only charging Flynn with a single count of lying to the FBI when they could have thrown the book at him. Michael Flynn had serious criminal exposure across an array of possible charges. The full scope of Flynn's behavior was criminally damning and well documented, and conviction on just half of the potential charges that could have been leveled against Flynn would have resulted in him drawing sentencing guidelines far more severe than the relatively moderate ones that Barr subsequently forced Department of Justice prosecutors to withdraw prior to his pending sentencing.

This is a legal charade that goes far beyond any argument over whether Flynn deserves greater leniency over the single count that he ultimately did plead guilty to. Precisely because Flynn promised to cooperate he was not charged with more serious counts of criminal behavior that could have landed him behind bars for decades. Because Flynn promised to cooperate the sentencing guidelines applied to him today do not reflect the enormity of the crimes that the FBI investigated him for. And it is because of the enormity of those crimes, and the evidence that prosecutors had against him, that Michael Flynn originally agreed to plead guilty of just one count of lying to the FBI, trading promised cooperation for subsequent leniency. And now Barr has the audacity to argue that the sentencing guidelines are too harsh to apply to a man who only stands guilty of one count of lying to the FBI, and after Michael Flynn failed to deliver on his end of the original bargain.

I went back and searched for more information on the potential charges Flynn was facing had he not promised to cooperate with the feds - a promise he failed to make good on. I found this in lawfareblog.com:

"...Reports of Flynnís bizarre behavior across a wide spectrum of areas began trickling out even before his tenure as national security adviser ended after only 24 days. These behaviors raised a raft of substantial criminal law questions that have been a matter of open speculation and reporting for months. His problems include, among other things, an alleged kidnapping plot, a plan to build nuclear power plants all over the Middle East, alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) involving at least two different countries, and apparent false statements to the FBI. In light of the scope and range of the activity that reputable news organizations have attributed to Flynn, it is no surprise that he has agreed to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for leniency.

The surprising thing about the plea agreement and the stipulated facts underlying it is how narrow they are. Thereís no whiff of the alleged Fethullah Gulen kidnapping talks. Flynn has escaped FARA and influence-peddling charges. And he has been allowed to plead to a single count of lying to the FBI. The factual stipulation is also narrow. It involves lies to the FBI on two broad matters and lies on Flynnís belated FARA filings on another issue. If a tenth of the allegations against Flynn are true and provable, he has gotten a very good deal from Mueller."


So because, on false premises, Flynn negotiated a sweetheart deal with the Feds that confined his conviction to just one relatively minor crime, the Department of Justice, under Barr, now argues that even the standard federal sentencing guidelines for that one crime are too harsh, because the crime itself was minor and his record is otherwise unblemished?

I expect that type of perverted reasoning from this Administration, but why aren't more legal pundits calling them on this?
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