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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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EDITED Stakes in Georgia's 2022 election: Stacy Abrams won't give Trump a pardon, a Republican would

Yes, Trump is now in serious legal jeopardy in Georgia. It is highly plausible (many would say highly probable) that he faces an upcoming indictment for election fraud in Georgia. Any trial of Trump, and possible sentencing for that crime, will happen after the 2022 election. By then Georgia will have sworn in its next Governor. Either the current Republican incumbent Kemp, or his primary rival ex-Senator Purdue, can likely be counted on to wipe any Trump conviction clean if they get elected (in the case of Purdue it's a virtual certainty.)

Stacy Abrams would make Trump serve his time. I won't argue that this is the most important reason why Abrams must be Georgia's next governor, but it will be the main reason why Trump and his allies will make defeating Abrams their top priority in 2022. She will need all the support we can give her.

ON EDIT: Thanks to an alert poster who pointed out that the Governor in Georgia can not grant pardons directly. A 7 person Board appointed by the Governor has that power, with the Governor appointing one member of that Board annually. (giving him/her the ability to appoint a majority over the course of a full four year term.)

How can we effectively use Qanon against the Republican Party?

I know there was an earlier semi-coordinated effort by Democrats to call Marjorie Taylor Greene the poster child of the current Republican Party, with pointed references to some of her prior Qanon supporting statements. I think the problem with that was that it ended up putting the focus more on Marjorie Taylor Greene than on Qanon. She got added publicity and used that as a platform to make more incendiary anti-Democratic attacks (and raise millions while doing so.) Those attacks (calls for "Second Amendment solutions" and claims that Democrats want to destroy America) should have disqualified her as a legitimate political figure, but in this era of hyper division they fell far short of doing so.

Meanwhile the actual substance of the Qanon belief systems have mostly gotten the late night talk show comedy treatment. Waiting for JFK Jr. to reappear has replaced rumored Elvis appearances as grist for the comic mill. Except it isn't really funny. In fact it should be terrifying. "Jewish Space Lasers" got treated as a punch line rather than blatant antisemitism, but Qanon is no joke. Tens of millions of Americans believe wild Qanon "conspiracy theories", with extremely dangerous content: Top Democrats drink the blood of children, government scientists induce genocide with fake vaccines to treat non-existent Covid etc. It is mass psychosis.

Fortunately though, tens of millions of Americans is still a far cry from a majority of our populous. Most Americans don't take Qanon seriously. Even most Republican and Republican leaning voters don't take Qanon seriously. Some might be influenced by some of the less extreme versions of Qanon conspiracy theories currently circulating on the Right, but they would still cringe at being associated with the full blown wild Qanon belief system. Right now right wing Republican office holders, and candidates for office, get to have their cake and eat it too. They can court and count on support from the Qanon "movement" without being directly identified with it. They almost never get pinned down. Is Qanon a friend or foe to America? Do they embrace or condemn its core messages? Are they themselves Qanon believers, and if not, do they think it essentially harmless when Qanon theories proliferate, or should they be vigorously opposed and debunked?

Where do Republicans stand on Qanon? Why, to this day, are most Americans still in the dark about the virulent form of insanity that Qanon spreads?

Sunday, July 3, 2022: Nationwide March for Democracy

The time to start planning is now. In every state, in every city. Preceded by weeks of lectures, films, teach ins, and protests both on and off campuses, sponsored by anti-authoritarian coalitions ranging from progressive leftists to Anti-Trumper conservatives.

America is arguably the world's oldest democracy. This year our democracy can't be routinely celebrated on July 4th, unless we defend it with a massive, anti-autocratic, non violent show of force.

What's getting lost is the unity that Democrats achieved this year

The Democratic Party is not and has not been in literal disarray. It actually reached a remarkable virtual consensus on a broad range of issues of utmost importance to America. Contrary to commentary indicating otherwise, there has been no war between competing wings of the Democratic Party. Moderates and Progressives have not been battling it out, rather they have been working it out with a remarkable degree of success. 97% percent of the Democrats in Congress have stood shoulder to shoulder with President Biden on everything ranging from tax policy, to police reform, to gun safety, to election reform, to expanding the social safety net, to investing in America's future. Democrats representing urban, suburban, and rural constituencies in red, blue, and purple regions of our nation sought and achieved common ground on a way forward for America. That amazing show of unity, to some extent, has been thwarted by a tiny handful of individuals, who you can count on one hand with fingers left to spare.

As much as I want to condemn those exceptions as traitors to our Party, doing so distracts from a perennial political truth. People elected to Congress are distinct individuals as much as they are members of a political party, and it is extremely difficult to hold several hundred individuals together in unanimous agreement on anything, let aloe everything, especially on complex matters of substance. It is extraordinarily difficult to function as a governing majority with essentially no margin of error on any vote. When that is true there can still be wins, but there will also be setbacks. Wafer thin majorities are inherently unstable. In Parliamentary democracies that is when new elections most often must be held.

Now is not the time to doubt the Democratic Party. It by no means lacks vision, unity or resolve. What it lacks is sufficient membership in Congress to govern as decisively as we are capable of were we to gain even a slightly larger mandate. We know what the Democratic Party stands for, it is Prescient Biden's agenda. 2022 can and should be framed as a contrast between the clear path forward for America embraced by Democrats, and a clearly obstructionist Republican Party that is selling out both the legacy and the future of our nation.

Of course energy prices look inflationary...

The world plunged into a COVID recession two years ago. The natural gas spot price a the end of 2020 was $2.36. But it averaged $2.03 for that entire year, which was at a ten year low by far. The next lowest yearly average over that span was $2.52 in 2016. Renewed demand, later in 2021, outstripped recession dampened production levels, which had become a COVID norm. At 2021's close the average natural gas spot price was up to $3.82, pretty damn inflationary one might say,compared to the modern historic lows of the prior year.

Meanwhile America motorists noticed a steep rise to gasoline prices in 2021, a classic telling indicator of inflation. Well, yeah, prices went up sharply all right, topping an average of over $3.40 a gallon by November of 2021. That was quite a rise from one year earlier, when the average retail price of a gallon of gas was $2.09 in November of 2020. At that same point in 2019, the average price was at or above $2.50 a gallon.

In November of 2020 gasoline prices, just like natural gas prices, were at recent historic lows. It takes two numbers to calculate the rate of current inflation; the current price of a commodity or service, and the price pf that same item one year prior. It doesn't take a math whiz to understand that an annual price rise will appear relatively steeper when the base price level of the former year started out abnormally low.

The better inflation commentators do note supply chain problems (like a shortage of computer chips curtailing new car production which explains why used cars are suddenly such a hot commodity.) And they mention pent up consumer demand, but I wish they would more often emphasize the bedrock basics. In many cases "high inflation rates" are at least partially explained by the simple fact that recent prices are being compared to unusually low (and in some cases at or near historic low) prices) from the depths of the global COVID recession.

2022 should be about "America's Agenda" embraced by (virtually) all Democrats

I think Democrats have to nationalize the 2022 Midterms, with a platform that highlights our priorities for America. Usually party platforms are a feature of Presidential elections, but this year, far more than in most midterm elections, it is the Democratic Party running against the Republican Party, representing sharply contrasting visions for America, more so than a typical array of locally focused congressional contests. Democrats presenting a unified national message need not shift the focus off of the Stirling attributes of our individual candidates. Nor will doing so overshadow matters of local concern. Our candidates can personalize why it is they so strongly support "America's Agenda", drawing on their lifetimes of achievement and struggles. And what exactly is "America's Agenda?" Collectively it is the measures that Democrats in Congress will fight for and deliver for the American people should they entrust us with workable governing Congressional majorities after the 2022 elections. It will be specific, and highly relevant to the lives of the vast majority of working Americans. It will be Joe Biden's original "Build Back Better" plan, and more.

OK, obviously it doesn't have to be called "America's Agenda", that's just a working "title" I'm tossing out there for the moment, harkening back to when Republicans ran a unified midterm election campaign under the platform detailed under their "Contract with America." The thing about "Build Back Better" as it was originally proposed is that it crystalized current Democratic Party ideology into specific tangible objectives that, if enacted, would positively transform the lives of most Americans in ways that are immediately recognizable. The elements of "Build Back Better" are highly popular, and easier to campaign on as an American agenda than they are as an omnibus piece of congressional legislation, where the focus gets quickly lost in discussions of specific price tags and deficit projections.

Here's the thing. The national Democratic Party, combining the efforts of the Biden Administration with leaders from across the center left spectrum of Democrats in Congress, achieved a 97% consensus on our American Agenda. And that included a straight forward wildly popular agreement on how that agenda would be paid for: Making the rich pay their fair share by rolling back Trump's huge tax giveaways to super wealthy corporations and individuals, and by closing loopholes that allow some of our biggest corporations to pay zero in corporate taxes, while the wealthiest individuals in America often pay a lower rate in taxes than their secretary's do. Americans overwhelmingly support those reforms, it was just a handful of conservative Democrats in Congress who balked and thus muddied that message, thereby raising a frightening specter of inflationary deficits (while forcing the Pentagon to spend billions more money than they asked for.)

Rather than enter the 2022 midterms on the defensive, having failed to fully deliver on President Biden's 2020 campaign pledges in this congressional session, Democrats should use these elections to go on the offensive; urging Americans to reject an obstructionist Congress where Republicans virtually unanimously opposed Democratic attempts to deliver for Americans on health care, on affordable prescriptions, on day care, on expanded preschool education, on elder care, on affordable housing, on sustainable green jobs, on affordable higher education, on combating devastating climate change, and so much more.

Wherever President Biden's legislative agenda got bottle necked by the Senate this year, that becomes a call to action. America can achieve all of that and more, if voters deliver working majorities to Democrats in both houses this November. Our political agenda should be crystal clear. Americans will benefit from in in 2023 if they elect enough Democrats in 2022.Our agenda is national in scope but the impact of it will be felt in every city, in every hamlet, and on every farm once Republican obstructionists are retired.

The American Agenda is conceptually larger than just Build Back Better however. It restores bedrock American values, like a believe in and embrace of science to address the challenges that confront us in every realm, from public health to climate change. It includes renewed adherence to the core democratic principles that have made America a beacon to all of humanity, however imperfectly that light has all too often shined. 2022 must be a contrast election. We can have the America we want if we just go out and vote for it. It's withing our grasp, but the alternative looms large also. Democrats have an Agenda for America. Republicans have more fear, grievances, and hate.

Want to avoid a Civil War? Bring the showdown with the Far Right to a head sooner rather than later.

I worry about what will happen inside this country if Donald Trump ever faces criminal charges, federal criminal charges even more so. I watched with increasing concern in recent years as far right militia types became ever more brazen in their public struttings and pronouncements. When Bundy and his followers seized federal property at gun point, and then were not dislodged immediately, I found that standoff to be alarming. As the far right continues to gain a stronger footing in Republican controlled legislatures around the nation I take the possibility of secessionist type threats seriously. I expect right wing sheriffs in rural areas to increasingly go wingnut, using their inflated sense of "legal authority" to deputize vigilante mobs opposing federal authority. All of this will explode on steroids, I fear, if and when Donald Trump goes on trial.

But the pressure that explosion will release has been building steadily for a decade at least. The NRA long ago became a front for militias, and militias long ago became a front for white supremacists who actively are seeking civil war. They are organizing at an accelerating rate. They are getting stronger with the passage of time, particularly when the passage of time shows there to be little to no direct overt effort being made to shut them down cold. They are encouraged by any lull before the storm, as that lull gives them to time and space they need to further radicalize more followers to their "cause."

I figure their timeline calls for "right wing revolution" timed with the results of the 2024 presidential elections. A presidential campaign, especially one with Trump at the head of the Republican ticket, creates the ultimate explosive conditions that they seek. Donald Trump facing criminal charges before then would force their hand to quicker action under less than their ideal circumstances. May it be so.
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