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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,145

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If Trump were less unstable, or if he were less obsessed with dominating the GOP...

The hard right would likely succeed in soon destroying American democracy. As it is though, my money is on them failing. Trump is simply too ugly and unhinged. His ego will not allow him to get out of anybody's way, erstwhile friends included, who could actually implement full scale autocracy. He will simply scream louder and incite more rebellion within whatever "governing minority" Republicans plan on cobbling together to retain power should the spotlight start moving away from him. Very thinly "veiled" threats of violence is the only remaining lever he can pull in attempting to ultimately avoid prison, other than launching actual violence itself. He already did so on January 6th and won't hesitate to do so again. But a Trump inspired coup attempt lacks the velvet glove over the iron fist needed to pull it off. Others can wear that glove, but not Trump.

Societal polarization, along the Trump's chosen fault lines, leaves him with a bitter angry ugly quarter of our nation firmly in his camp. Fifteen percent more are theoretically within his reach, and collectively that could form a plurality large enough for Trumpists to secure their grip on national power. But Trump is too nakedly extreme to hold onto that swing faction if he prematurely forces a showdown, and you can count on him doing just that. Time is a luxury that Trump has run out of.

Paradoxically DC Republicans are counting on normal order to return them back to power in 2022 during a mid term election that historically goes against the party of a first term president. These are not normal order times though and that will increasingly become clear over the coming months. There are several demagogues in waiting with sufficient finesse to exploit these times to their favor, if Trump allowed them center right stage. He won't.

Joe Biden doesn't negotiate in public. Not with Netanyahu, not with Manchin either.

We can guess what is being said between Biden and Manchin, but we can't know. Here are some things that we do know however. First and foremost, we know that Joe Biden is an accomplished politician well versed in the legislative process. The same is true for the current Democratic leadership in Congress. We know that Joe Manchin is far from an unknown quantity to top Democrats. From all reports he enjoys a positive personal relationship with both Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden. That's all I need to know to realize that top Democrats don't need advice from me, and certainly not my approval, to cobble together a strategy best designed to accomplish as much of President Biden's agenda as possible during the current legislative session. The path to so doing runs directly through Joe Manchin's office.

Like it or not that is simply a fact. It almost wasn't so. Democrats came perilously close to being in the minority in the Senate this year. Had that happened, the path toward salvaging any of President Biden's agenda would have run through the offices of Lisa Murkowsky, Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney instead. Had Donald Trump just woken from his Fox news stupor long enough to actually engage in last Fall's negotiations around that session's Covid relief bill, and insisted to Republican's in Congress that they issue $2,000 stimulus checks (under his signature) to tens of millions of Americans rather than the $600 checks that they agreed among themselves to back, likely Republicans would have held onto their two Senate seats in Georgia. Instead of counting on a trio of so called moderate Republicans to pass anything meaningful through the Senate, even using reconciliation, thanks to Georgia, Biden now counts on the support of moderate to conservative Democratic Senators like Joe Manchin to accomplish almost anything.

There aren't ten Republican votes in the Senate to back any bill that will make Joe Biden and the Democrats look good to American voters prior to the mid term election. An endless negotiation strategy is destined to lead nowhere, later rather than sooner. There simply aren't enough Republican Senators like Susan Collins who actually need to occasionally burnish their so called moderate credentials with their voters back home. Biden is more than smart enough to know this, so why is he engaging in the charade? Simply put, because he doesn't have the votes to do otherwise. Not yet anyway. Biden may seem to be negotiating with Republicans but actually he's bargaining with the Democratic center instead. Knowing Joe Biden, taking him at his word, the real grit of that bargaining is happening behind closed doors.

I have a long personal track record of being a tad cynical about just how hard leading Democrats have in the past been willing to fight for working class Americans against the counter interests of corporate America. You may or may not have held similar views. I say this only to underline that I do not automatically fall behind the views of a Democratic President simply because he or she is a Democratic President, but Joe Biden has earned my support and trust. His sponsorship and passage of the 1.9 Trillion dollar American Rescue Plan, with the plethora of progressive initiatives it embraces, by itself is more than enough to win him my loyalty for the foreseeable future (which admittedly isn't as long a time horizon as it once was.)

As noted above, I'm not privy to Joe Biden's game plan but I know this: When you don't have the votes to win you don't call for an immediate vote, not unless your intent is to score political points by losing, which is a very poor substitute for winning instead. Many have already opined that the most effective strategy for getting a moderate to conservative Democratic Senator (which is a grouping larger than just Joe Manchin) to abandon their publicly stated commitment to pursuing bipartisan solutions for our nation's problems, is to go the extra mile in attempting just that -- even if common sense dictates that any such effort is doomed to failure. This is especially true when there is precious little political leverage available to otherwise compel cooperation from a Senator who runs over 40 points ahead of the National Democratic ticket inside of his own home state.

Here is something else that we unfortunately understand: Just because something is deemed essential doesn't guarantee it can be done. It was essential for the French army to defend Paris against invading Nazi's early in WWII, but that didn't stop the Nazis. Eventually however Paris was retaken and today it again is free. I don't know how much of President Biden's agenda can pass through Congress this year, but more of it already has been accomplished than would be true had Democrats fallen short in Georgia. I am confident that more good work will still be accomplished toward that end, though I can only guess at how much. I strongly suspect that there's a lot more going on now behind the scenes than currently meets the eye. We are only about five months into Joe Biden's presidency. We have not run out of runway yet for this session of Congress, and when it breaks for the Fall as it always does it will reconvene in January with a renewed chance for making essential progress prior to the 2022 midterm elections. If "bipartisanship" goes nowhere in the intervening months that will strengthen the case for go it lone Democratic initiatives come January instead. Hopefully we won't have to wait that long .

You might think from what I've written above that I am explicitly or implicitly criticizing progressive Democrats in Congress for being impatient with the pace of change, or that I fear them becoming more apart of the problem now than the cure. No, I don't. A senator such as Joe Manchin needs to know that real pressure on Joe Biden is real and growing from the left. I honestly believe that Joe Manchin does not want to fatally undermine Biden's presidency. He wants to shape it, sure, and he (pretty much like all of those in politics) wants to point to his fingerprints and on its accomplishments, but not to destroy it. In football terms, we are still in the middle of the first quarter, and while half time is a more significant marker in a presidential term than it is in a football game, there are a lot of plays yet to be run befor then. If the left (which I consider myself a part of) oversteps it's bounds now and starts accusing the Biden Administration of ineptness in it's dealings with congressional Republicans, or worse yet of capitulation to the Republican political agenda, that will NOT be helpful. Acute expressions of frustration and the articulation of a sense of real urgency however do serve a positive function. It provides a backdrop for President Biden to convey to the likes of Manchin, during his private undisclosed negotiations, that he doesn't have unlimited rope to work with, an end game is rapidly approaching less his Democratic coalition ultimately fall apart.

None of this is easy, and nothing is guaranteed to succeed. We chose our leadership team and it is a good one. They have their work cut out for them. Like with any expert medical or legal team, victory can never be assured. But we have the right people on the job and I am inclined to trust in their ultimate expertise and judgement to accomplish as much as can be accomplished, under the present circumstances..

I'm tired of hearing about "Intelligence Failures" concerning the insurrection

Sure there were some. Some errors can always be found in hindsight with just about everything. Sure there were also some instances of "poor communication." That too is not exactly rare. But discussion about those "failures" doesn't begin to capture the magnitude of what went wrong on 1/6/21 and the weeks leading up to it. Front line first responders say that they were "betrayed", and that I think comes closer to the truth. Someone needs to just come out and say it. There was more going on than mere "intelligence failures." There was direct conspiracy with the insurrectionists by some in government service, and there was overt intelligence sabotage with the direct intent of leaving our Capital vulnerable to the insurrectionists. No other explanation will explain what happened.

Putin will make certain that Russian relations with the U.S. do not improve anytime soon

Instead Putin will do all that he can to destabilize the U.S. and will accept any related risks posed by potential U.S. retaliation. Cyber attacks will continue, disinformation campaigns will intensify, provocations will increase, and the courting of potential American right wing allies will expand even further.

Putin has NO incentive to improve or normalize relations with the United States now. He has every incentive to embrace brinkmanship, and advance barely veiled hostility toward the Biden Administration. The President of the United States has acknowledged (accurately) that American democracy in imperiled. Democratic leaders in Congress have basically said the same, and those elements of America's media that are not already aligned with Republican insurrectionists daily cover the growing authoritarian threat to our democratic form of government. This is a once in several generations opportunity, on a scale not seen since WWII, for Putin to strike a devastating blow against the nation he regards as his primary ideological foe. A potentially deadly attack that he can pursue without directly risking full frontal military conflict to achieve his ends. From Putin's perspective it is a chance that must be seized upon. Therefor he will do nothing that might potentially ease the stresses that our society currently faces but rather throw more fuel on the fires. The upside for Putin's "meddling" is simply too great for him to be deterred by whatever downside risks overt hostility to the Biden Administration might expose his own rule to.

If Putin goes for the golden ring of wide spread American civil strife and the disintegration of our democracy, and falls short of achieving those ends, his no doubt recognizes that his malevolent efforts now could end up costing him. Some. But when Putin crunches the odds and numbers, that risk is more than outweighed by the possible rewards success at achieving those goals would bring Putin. He'll take those odds and pursue those goals until such time as the anti-democratic American forces of white Supremacists and authoritarian insurrectionists are thoroughly routed. Then and only then will Putin sue for peace, and a return to "normalcy" between our governments.

I expect the upcoming summit between Biden and Putin to be a very frosty and combative affair.
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