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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,309

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The path for Democrats holding onto Congress has now narrowed to a single option.

Six months ago there were other options. At one point it appeared that a simple return to seeming normality after all the drama of the Trump years could carry Democrats to victory in the midterms. But the electorate is restless now, if nothing else a continuing Covid-19 pandemic has stripped any veneer of normality from our daily lives, replacing any hope for stability with non focused but seething dissatisfaction. The other major card that Biden and the Democrats started out his Administration with was competency, with expertise, and solid judgement paving the way to inevitable progress. By and large the Biden Administration remains rooted in competency, but that glow no longer permeates it in the public mind. Too much seems to be uncertain if not downright out of control for competency to be associated with Democrats at this point in time. Finally, the ace in the hold that Democrats were counting on was "deliverables." Biden's core legislative agenda was crafted to make a real and measurable difference in the lives of average Americans. People who would have benefited greatly from the original Build Back Better agenda, or even the scaled back compromise version that Joe Manchin just blew up, would have had compelling life altering reasons to support Democrats in 2022. Improved roads and bridges, much of that work not slated to begin until after next November's election, do not carry a similar punch.

Through all of the factors noted above, Democrats started out this year with the capacity to seize the center of American politics, unifying our traditional base with sensible moderates and Independents and even some Republicans for a solid and winning coalition., but it hasn't played out that way. The total unraveling of Build Back Better, on top of the continuing pandemic and highly charged ideological flash points, has redrawn every political equation for 2022. Unless something changes dramatically, Democrats will not enter the mid terms with anything resembling an aura of strength, unless we manage to generate that aura ourselves. Fairly or not, we start out this election cycle with the political label "impotent" hanging around our necks.

Build Back Better, the core of President Biden's political agenda, has been brutally shot down. Housing continues to grow more unaffordable weekly, as does the cost of a college education. Women remain locked out of the work place with affordable daycare virtually impossible to find. Drawn out national police reform efforts led to a long and winding dead end street. Attempts to deliver even minimal immigration reform to stabilize the lives of millions of long term American residents living in the shadows, without any clear path forward, to a legal status have gone nowhere. Congress, under Democratic control, has failed to counter on a national level the wholesale assault on voting rights and fair elections being orchestrated by Republicans at the State level in dozens of states unimpeded. Extreme weather events continue to proliferate as the world races towards an environmental tipping point from which there is no return, and the United States has no viable plan left on board to counter that.

What will motivate the core elements of the Democratic base to turn out in record numbers for the 3022 midterms in light of that political track record? It seems each and every essential strand of Democratic core constituencies can find reason to be disappointed, if not utterly disillusioned by the fate of the Democratic agenda to date. That does not bode well for avoiding a potentially fatal "enthusiasm gap" in November. We can not campaign on "Two More Years", let alone "Four More Years" based on our current accomplishments in the current political climate. Instead we must radically alter the current political climate. Democrats have to go on war footing. We have to become passionately aspirational, exhibiting a fierce resolve and fighting spirit to deliver for the American people all of the life affirming policies and priorities that our opposition (from either side of the aisle) have currently prevented us from delivering to date. We need to openly and fervently call for larger Democratic majorities in both houses, so that we can save our climate, and restore the foundations of our American democracy, and provide the economic foundation that so many million Americans require to finally prosper in this life. Those who stand against us must be condemned as the true obstructionists of the American Dream.

The message is we will not be denied again, that we will deliver for the American people with the support of a mobilized electorate. Democrats must be seen as fighting for a cause, and heading up a movement for change that this time will be unstoppable. Doom and gloom has no place in that movement. Instead we must go on the offensive fighting for what we believe in, rather than blurring the lines that separate Democrats from Republicans. Income inequality must be back on the table front and center, no longer shoved off to a small corner in order to appease a Krysten Sinema. We should make no apologies for falling short this legislative session, instead it should be the centerpiece of our argument that the lesson to be drawn from this ti that the legislature itself must be changed through the election of more strong Democrats, who are willing to fight for what the American people need, want, and finally deserve.

Six weeks ago I was adjusting to my new ICU bed after waking up from Quadruple Bypass Heart Surgery

Fortunately the surgery went well and my recovery is proceeding nicely. In my case I skipped right past the typical preceding heart attack directly to fix. If you're gonna have quadruple bypass heart surgery, that's the way to do it. It's scary enough to contemplate heart surgery without factoring in heart damage already suffered. Which leads me to this OP..

There is absolutely nothing unusual for a 72 year old man to need heart surgery, but it sure as hell seemed unusual to me! I had not experienced any obvious signs of any impending heart attack. I've pretty much never been laid low by anything before, neither injury nor illness. I don't take sick days, and I get my share of exercise working part time with dogs. I am accustomed to being fully operational and spry for my age. There was little to warn me that I might be living on borrowed time.

I choose those words carefully. I got a couple of warnings, but they sure seemed subtle at the time. An example: a couple of times last winter while walking a dog who was feeling particularly peppy in 15 degree morning air, I had to restrain her after about 150 yards of sucking in cold air at a near trot pace. I felt momentarily breathless, plus some minor tightening in my chest. Not pain mind you, nothing dramatic, and less than a minute later all reverted to normal again for the rest of our walk.

I'm the type of guy who typically looks for a reason to forget something like that, especially if it "goes away". I almost did in fact, but during my annual physical later in the summer (the one that was already a year late because I wasn't visiting any medical facilities if I could help it before I was double vaxed) I mentioned those few incidents to my doctor. He wasn't exactly alarmed either, but he was concerned enough to give me a referral for a heart stress test. Which I promptly failed to book for another two months before my procrastination failed me. That test came back poetically labeled "abnormal, but the picture painted by a subsequent procedure was less ambivalent: 100% blockage in one artery, 80% in another and 50% in a third. That night a kindly ambulance crew transported me to the Westchester Medical Center for surgery the next morning.

I skated right on the jagged edge between taking care of myself and blowing off my own health for months, even years. Ultimately I fell on the side of taking care of myself, but I was lucky as hell that my body granted me the time it took for me to finally come to my senses and get checked out. I was helped by a good friend, a damn good musician by trade, who at the last concert that he performed for our concert series went out of his way to share with the entire audience the full story of his then recent heart attack, which until then I knew nothing of. He was on tour and due to return home in two days. During a shower he felt shooting pains across his chest. It freaked him out but they went away, and he vowed that he would get checked out as soon as he got home. His heat attack hit the next day. He managed to get help in time, and he is doing well today I am happy to say. The message he had for us that night, the same one he shares now every time he performs, is listen to your body, your life might depend on it.

Like I said, I'm dense. I blocked out the signs for a long time. But in the back of my mind I heard what Gurf said, and when my routine physical was ending I finally spoke up and alerted my doctor. I might not be here to type this had I not.

Build Back Better IS the Climate Bill. Without it we are spectators as climate catastrophes multiply

How many more record breaking extreme weather anomalies can we undergo in one year before New Year's Day flips the calendar? The question is meaningless: whatever record 2021 brings us in all likelihood will be shattered in 2022.

Since the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the short term advances in the Biden Administration's climate related policies have consisted of releasing billions of barrels of oil from the national reserve while calling on OPEC to increase oil production. Of course I "get it." Those weren't energy initiatives, they were economic initiatives . And they had a strong political component. Rising inflation is hurting Democrats in polls. Democrats losing in 2022 would hobble U.S. efforts to combat climate change. So push for short term increased fossil fuel production...

Does anyone seriously think Democrats have a ghost of a chance to retain control of Congress in the mid terms without a massive mobilization of younger voters who view climate change as an existential threat to their future? Does anyone seriously think Democrats have a ghost of a chance of benefiting from a massive mobilization of younger voters in 2022 if we do not, at the very least, pass into law all of the climate provisions of Build Back Better without further delay or watering down?

It is a moral imperative first and foremost.But it is just as much a political one.
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