Graduating in May from CSU’s MAGI program

I plan to walk at graduation in May, 2017. You’re all invited to see me take my masters degree from CSU President Ronald Berkman, who himself successfully prevented me from entering the program in 2013 because of my 2002 conviction, as follows.

In the case of Mr. Russo, the committee determined that he was not an acceptable candidate for the MAGI program or Cleveland State University. Based on the careful consideration of the matter provided by the committee, I do not believe the decision should be disturbed. Ronald M. Berkman, Ph.D. President

I proceeded to further “disturb” Dr. Berkman’s decision after my run for county executive in spring, 2014, in which I placed 3rd out of 6 candidates, beating soundly both a former county sheriff and a former mayor. I cashed those votes in to re-apply to the MAGI program, gaining acceptance to CSU over Dr. Berkman’s 2013 objection. Thank you to the nearly 10,000 voters across Cuyahoga County for helping.

As I promised, I did not let my voters down. I’m currently sitting on a perfect 4.0 GPA. One of the perks of returning to school after so long is being reminded how long it takes to grade law exams, thus, as of this post, I’m still waiting on a grade for the fall semester international law class. Good chance it’s an A, so I will enter my final semester in the CSU Master of Arts in Global Interaction program with a 4.0, pending one more class this spring semester.

It’s been both strange and wonderful to be back on campus for the last 3 years. Since my first degree in 1989, much has changed, much hasn’t. There are many more international students, many of whom have become friends. The campus itself is a far more welcoming physical space than the mausoleum it used to be. Winter at CSU is still brutal; they haven’t yet figured out a way to stop the wind tunnels.

Being the rabble rouser I am, I had a tangle or two on campus, specifically, over the MAGI internship. Because I gained admission based on my voters, however, I avoided every other fight. I could have been in constant combat from day one. Very quickly, I learned that the vast majority of the lip service CSU pays to the plights of ex-offenders is just that; lip service. I often felt barely tolerated, instead of welcome; which I guess is to be expected. If I could pick one thing I’m most proud of during the MAGI program, it is my banishment of New York Times buffoon Tom Friedman from having his nonsense made assigned reading. Friedman appeared in several classes, and after a while, I had had enough. It didn’t take much; the slightest pin prick of oversight is usually enough to expose a preening Davos Man court jester of oligarchy. If Tom Friedman ever again shows up in a MAGI syllabus, it ain’t my fault.

Through it all, I’ve given no one any reason to think Dr. Berkman’s 2013 rejection was proper, quite the opposite. As an experienced international relations practitioner, and an attorney, I took it upon myself to help my fellow students as much as possible. An extra professor in the room, so to speak. I don’t (and couldn’t) know how much my fellow students learned about me and my journey. I just assumed everyone would eventually Google me, which meant it was on me to try to set a good example to other students, to challenge ideas presented as fact, to dig deeper, never to take anything at face value, and always stand up for yourself.

My MAGI experience has often felt like a long, desperately needed rest at a magical oasis after crossing a decade wide desert under constant incoming fire. Now, I enter the job market again. My phone isn’t exactly ringing off the hook, but I’m still hopeful. The Russo Reclamation Project has a capstone now, thanks almost entirely to the political process. My work with the Bernie Sanders campaign this year has featured a lot of disillusionment with that process. I hope I’ve proven that even as American democracy decays all around us, it can still be accessed to accomplish your goals, no matter how hopeless it all seems. Happy New Year, everyone.

 

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George Michael and me

freedom90closetUnbeknownst to me at the time, when he was forced out of the closet by law enforcement in April, 1998, George Michael became my destiny, just three years later. How could I know we would both be forced out of the closet by law enforcement?

I learned of George Michael’s bathroom sting when I was in Armenia, chasing a career to ever more obscure corners of loneliness. Court ordered therapy after my 2001 arrest taught me all my adventures abroad, all the by-design short term political gigs here at home, were really just me running from myself. When my therapist challenged all my career choices in this way, I exploded at her with anger. How dare she diminish my professional decisions by making them nothing but cowardly, subconsciously built-in good-byes, lest someone ever get too close and “find out”? By snapping at her, I proved her point.

The closet of the 80’s closed in most sharply during darkened dance hall days in the high school cafeteria, the club, the basement parties, frat house debauchery on campus visits to friends. Of course, I put a punctuation on it publicly, making Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” my big moment on the dance floor, entering the circle to cut that rug to shreds to the roar of the crowd.

Then nothing. Always, nothing. I made a habit of not just dancing alone, but with my eyes closed or sunglasses on, so I wouldn’t see anyone potentially checking me out, and no one, boy or girl, would see me checking them out. George Michael’s arrest in 1998 should have been the wake up call for me to get the fuck out of that trap, now. But The Closet isn’t so easily unlocked, and instead, became more hermetically sealed than ever.

sinatratogeorgemichaelBy his 1998 arrest, George had spent years throwing thinly veiled haymakers at that closet. Freedom 90 came the closest to breaking through mine. It was perhaps the last great music video of the MTV era. The lip-synched supermodel androgyny always drew blood with my heart; bisexual catnip. Thus, Freedom 90 was always hard to hear, dance to, hard to sing along, without cracking. When Frank Sinatra himself responded to Freedom 90 with his “man up” screed at the reluctant stardom of a closeted genius, you could hear Closet doors slam up tight.

Success always comes easy to straight males unhindered by living a life split in two. Toxic masculinity wasn’t yet a term, but here in Frank’s letter you hear its poison dripping down, Sinatra presuming to know what he never could. I’ve learned Frank Sinatra also couldn’t know the damage he was doing, just as my buddies’ making fag jokes all around me in high school had no idea what they were doing. Just the tragic circle of life requiring an endurance we either possess or do not.

Weariness from a constant struggle with themselves isn’t ever going to be a listed cause of death. This year, as so many of my youth’s icons of queer ambiguity have gone way before their time, maybe that weariness can be accounted for, somehow. In the meantime, I’ll just have to continue trying, over and over, to show Frank Sinatra how to buck up and be a man as below.

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Standing Rock Sioux remind us how to be American

standingrockteepeeJumping into the job market again has kept me biting my tongue after the election of Donald Trump president a month ago. All the while, familiar rhythms have re-emerged into an America suddenly ready to disobey again, en masse.

Again.

Today those rhythms reached crescendo as the Standing Rock Sioux prevailed in their fight to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline off their land. Whatever happens next, this victory is the first to arrive in an America free of the Clinton machine which over decades laid that pipe as surely as butterfly wings create hurricanes.

By the time they left office in 2001, (or Barack Obama in 2017) the Clintons could have left an economy designed to keep that filth in the ground and away from our air, our water, and our futures. Instead, second only to the GOP itself, the Clinton machine has been the single most powerful tool of neoliberal free market capital in my lifetime, creating an economy in which a deregulated media ignores the problem, deregulated Wall Street profits off it, desperate small towns are forced to barely survive on it, and holy places of tribes with whom we have signed treaties are trampled by it.

Whatever Donald Trump stood for in #2016, voters judged an idea. Voters don’t know the idea of “neoliberalism”, they just know Clinton ideas are a total failure. Voters, including the half that didn’t vote, are quite aware that the American Dream was sacrificed on the altar of Clinton policy deregulating every inch of the American economy over decades. America after the Clintons is incapable of taxing its richest, incapable of funding public goods, incapable of even governing at all. Evidence piles up at our feet. Post election analysis to date is tactical this, strategic that – no. An idea has been proven a failure, it has Clinton’s name on it, and that’s all voters really needed to know. In pundit speak, this was a “change election”.

A particularly ugly change. We like to think, as Americans, we’re immune to ethnic nationalism arising out of economic stagnation. Trump America for the next 4 years will prove that ahistorical assumption folly. A powerful wave of ethnic nationalism took advantage of atrophied voter turnout, itself a result of Clinton neoliberalism, as was its ancestor Brexit. Voters predictably disengage from rigged systems that don’t deliver public goods, and instead reward only capital. Turnout declines. Small and loud nationalistic minorities increase their size relative to overall turnout – 2016 was precisely such a “base” election. Half of America didn’t bother, which ample scholarship now proves is a neoliberal feature not a bug; lower turnout helps ethnic identity division prevail, further shackling the state against capital. One base, Trump’s ethnic nationalism, clearly overpowered the other, whatever was left of it.

ericfierrosiouxchiefAmerica’s Brezhnev era, as I described a Clinton presidency would be, was brief. As one would expect of a Brezhnevian sleepwalk into oblivion, Hillary’s general election campaign was a neoliberal masterpiece; said nothing, promised nothing, spent hundreds of millions to do so, all while ginning up division, slicing and dicing the electorate into discrete little micro markets, “targets” swarmed by cottage industries sniffing the cash. The entire Clinton ad campaign was Trump’s own voice, getting out his vote, not hers. (This also explains the popular vote “win”; Trump voters in non-swing states weren’t ginned up by the tens of millions by Hillary’s own ads.)  In a base election, however, Clinton ideologically ignored her base (as neoliberalism requires) going right to pick up phantom “moderate” Republicans (who do not exist) instead of left toward a massive new base (Bernie Sanders’) suddenly awake to neoliberalism’s failure and ready to march…

…to North Dakota if necessary.

Perhaps the Clinton machine going poof a month ago had some effect at Standing Rock beyond the thousands of protestors who joined the Seven Council Tribes in nonviolent civil disobedience for months. It is beyond dispute, however, that without those protestors, the DAPL would have proceeded. Whether or not the words “Standing Rock” pass our lips as often as “the 1%”, both victories were achieved with basic Gandhian nonviolent civil disobedience deployed for months. The new rules of organizing on the left are being written with the feet, blood, and breath of thousands who inherit the lineage of Gandhi and Dr. King. Placing oneself in nonviolent legal jeopardy in order to make change is becoming an expected norm on the left, as well as the left’s primary source of energy. In the coming Trump era, if Democrats are not willing to display that level of commitment to change, America will remain in the predictable decay of dying Clinton ideas, except now accelerated on Trump’s Goldman Sachs con-job chronic.

 

 

 

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Following Gandhi’s example, I will vote for Hillary

Gandhi at 10 Downing St.

Gandhi at 10 Downing St.

Gandhi’s Achilles heal, when debates of such matters arise, was his support of the British during World War II. Churchill despised Gandhi, and if you got Bapu off message, he’d probably return the favor. And yet, Gandhi supported the violent empire whose boot was on his own throat, against a greater evil.

Alas, we face Gandhi’s choice in 2016.

A choice between two evils is all that remains of American democracy after Clinton neoliberalism unleashed capitalism from the New Deal for its victory lap over the Warsaw Pact.  Market nirvana’s excrement, Donald Trump, is capitalist resin scraped from the bottom of the bowl, an untaxed billionaire race baiting his way into another scam. Hillary Clinton is the enabler that created Trump, her entire public life defined by fealty to capital so thorough her picture at Trump’s wedding is the single most enduring image of this “election”. Today, the market stands so triumphant over the state, every decision we make as humans is now a calculation of money, rather than a human decision about fellow humans. The 1% laughs all the way to the bank, every time.

I have very personal reasons to never vote for another Democrat for as long as I live, let alone Hillary Clinton. I haven’t written much about those reasons lately, but as anyone knows who’s followed my writing since I took this battle online in 2004, I’ve lived, and still do, with Clinton neoliberalism’s boot on my neck. As an ex-offender, my life has been governed by the economic calculation the market makes about employment for 15 years. I’ve been reduced to nothing but a high cost, high risk, phantom forecast of doom imagined in the minds of people who see not a human before them, but instead conjure a paranoia about a penny or a nickel perhaps fleeing them one day. It took me a very long time to figure out that even the people closest to me surrendered my humanity, and theirs, to a money calculation. As Cornel West wrote this week, America has been in this spiritual decline for so long, a Clinton-Trump choice between two evils of capital was inevitable.

2010 Ex-Offender piece

2010 Ex-Offender piece

Thus, I’m done shaming the 2000 Nader voter, or the 2016 Stein voter. Further, I can no longer condemn the non-voter as I once did.  Refusal to grant legitimacy by your vote to a system rigged for capital is entirely defensible and reasonable. Since my deep dive into Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and through my volunteering for Bernie Sanders this primary, I’ve tried to live by Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, and encourage everyone around me to do so as well. My first instinct this fall was to refuse to vote as such an exercise, in protest that voting in America today, at every single level of government, is a rigged game for the sole benefit of capital.

But I’m haunted by my Armenia work from 1997-1999; my friend Harout used to tell his fellow Armenians who asked “why vote?”, that the authorities would know how to use their vote if they didn’t use it. Haunted by my days as Democracy Guy, traveling the world with a camera. Fifteen years spent as debris of this rigged game confronted who I am to my core. I spent much of the last few months a proud non-voter. It was a relief to not invest my vote in this stench that was choking me every single day.

Me & Grandma Krakowski, 1985

Me & Grandma Krakowski, 1985

Donald Trump tipped the scale. I flirted with voting for Trump. As Michael Moore says, Trump is the perfect Molotov cocktail to toss into this sickening rigged system. But one cannot escape that Trump, and his base, are who my grandmother would have become had she been force fed a twenty year 24 hour live feed of hate upon which Trump now stands. Trump rallies are filled with the zombie undead shells of humanity my Grandma Krakowski escaped becoming. Hate today is a billion dollar market sucking humanity out of our loved ones for profit, to the point they now prance around in public on social media revealing their deepest ugliness for all to see, praising their own darkest weaknesses as America’s greatest strength. Our loved ones are Trump’s clickbait racist business model, making us love them less.

Conversely, Gandhian nonviolent civil disobedience is built on love. And as Gandhi so often taught, it is tactical. Supporting Britain in World War II was Gandhi’s most controversial tactic; within 2 years of the war, Britain would be gone from Gandhi’s homeland. Who knows where America will be in two years? Bernie Sanders took a lot of heat for standing by his word, and endorsing Hillary Clinton as the “winner” of the Democratic primary. I wonder if Bernie is finding strength in Gandhi too. Next year, I fully expect Bernie to be the same thorn in Madame President’s side that Gandhi was to His Majesty.

So if it’s good enough for Gandhi, it’s good enough for me. I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton in tribute to Gandhi, who supported his oppressor two years before he defeated his oppressor once and for all. To my friends voting for Trump…no. Change does not come by hate, only love. Anger must be righteous to bring justice. This Tuesday, first, we must defeat Donald Trump, and everything he stands for, to let the Republican Party sleep in the fire Trump’s Molotov cocktail is exploding. On Wednesday, we can let Madame President know we haven’t gone anywhere.

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Davos Men bring the Uncle Leo “anti-semite” routine across the pond

You know you’re getting old when Seinfeld references fall on deaf ears. Thus, we must re-introduce Uncle Leo, Jerry Seinfeld’s uncle, who would leap to anti-semitism rants upon getting an overcooked hamburger at the diner. “Anyway,” Jerry says, “the point I was making before Goebbels made your hamburger here…”

Jerry ends up on the Tonight Show making fun of Uncle Leo, “Spaghetti’s not cooked al dente – anti semite! Loses a bet on a horse? Secretariat – anti-semitic!” Uncle Leo’s girlfriend thinks the bit is funny so Uncle Leo dumps her for being an anti-semite.

Donald Trump has veered into overcooking the hamburger territory on and off over the past year with his “globalist” language, which has now, predictably, caught the attention of the establishment. Anti-semite! Bernie Sanders made similar arguments about the rigged game in the primary, but escaped the anti-semitism smear perhaps because Bernie himself is Jewish. Jeremy Corbyn, during both his UK Labour leadership landslides this year and last year, was not so lucky.

The anti-semitism smear on Corbyn by the Blairite New Labour Third way…ahem…”cabal”, came swiftly and viciously. Through a series of guilt-by-association-with-Corbyn attacks, Labour, as a whole, was forced to spend an entire year proving that leftist socialism directed against neoliberal Thatcherite capitalism wasn’t, in fact, anti-semitism.  Blairite donors leapt to Nazi analogies with a gleeful flourish mainstream media outlets were only too happy to parrot. A commission was called, the works, leading some members to be suspended from Labour for utterances just as minimal as Uncle Leo’s overcooked burger. Even at the Labour conference in Liverpool this September, where Corbyn was re-elected massively, entire seminars were held to prove that Corbyn’s movement was in no way an overcooked Nazi hamburger, which Blairite media of course smeared anyway.

I’m sure there were party conferences in the year 1933 at which the Jews were this much discussed. But not, perhaps, in this country.

The Uncle Leo smear will continue against Corbyn’s Labour, picked up by the Tories, probably indefinitely. Trump’s Breitbart cess pit is certainly a more accurate target for this attack, but normally, as in the UK the past year, the target of an anti-semitism smear is almost always the left. That’s because the left, always, most loudly notices global capitalism is gutting the working class by rigging the game for profit. Now that the left also notices New Labour’s Third Way, and Bill Cinton’s DLC Democrats, were the indispensable enablers for global neoliberal capitalism’s rigged game, predictably, establishment Blairites become Uncle Leo.

A Hillary Clinton presidency will no doubt defend itself with the Uncle Leo attack, just as the Tories will use it against Corbyn’s Labour, any time the left stands up to fight, either through Bernie Sanders on the Senate floor, in the streets through protest, or in election campaigns against establishment Democrats at every level, local, state, or federal. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who knows better, is this hour trotting out Uncle Leo like a champ.

Certainly, Trump is closer to Goebbels in the kitchen overcooking Uncle Leo’s burger, than anyone on the left. The smear, though, needs to be seen for what it plainly has become – a Davos Man deflection in defense of a globally rigged game whose days are numbered. Despite the year long smear against Corbyn’s Labour, the party is finally showing unity, and closing in on the Tories. Bernie Sanders will be the single most powerful Senator in a Clinton presidency (or a Trump presidency), and will represent the same threat to the rigged game Corbyn does. The left can survive the Uncle Leo smear. But we should be aware that it is certainly coming, not just at Donald Trump, but at anyone who attacks Davos Man’s zombie undead grip on a world rigged for oligarchic profit alone.

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Ohio held onto Trump admirably

trumpstillwinningohioIn the first of this series, I put the blame for Hillary Clinton losing Ohio squarely on her and the Ohio Democratic Party. All that still holds, but as of this writing, Donald Trump has gone from up 5-6, to down 1-2. That will accelerate, and Hillary will now win Ohio. Here’s why.

I admit it – this proud Bernie Bro considered making Trump my first vote for a Republican. The odious bilge he’s spewed for the last year didn’t really bother me, although the open racism does. White bigots like Trump never change. I grew up with a lot of ’em. All our relatives’ racism once sat quietly in their hearts, unstoked by a 24 hour news cycle billion dollar “market” encouraging that racism to prance around like a braying jackass. This long gone, quiet acceptance of a behavioral norm, on both sides, allowed us to love our racist relatives anyway despite their racism. As I wrote about my Grandma Krakowski, knowing that human weakness in our loved ones, and allowing for it, I believe helps us love each other more fully.

So I set aside the racism, telling myself it was another act to hoodwink my relatives. Just like every two bit snake oil salesman collecting email addresses since Rush Limbaugh rolled his corpulent ass onto radio. I’m not proud of it. I’ve watched and fought the bigot economy, neoliberal capitalism’s engine room, for decades now. It’s turned so many friends and family into shriveled racists obsessed with hate so deeply it governs their every thought. So I know the okie doke. Sure. I’ll play the game for a minute here.

Thus, I focused on the central deceit of Trump; that being a rich asshole who’s rigged the game for himself his whole life, Trump both (a) knows how to unrig it, and (b) can’t be bought. If I could believe that about Trump, I could maybe vote for him, despite the ugliness. The ugliness can be a con which he will no doubt reneg on, if the unrigging isn’t. That’s what I told myself. “She came to my wedding because I paid her. She had no choice”.  Now that’s a message.

Trump became bought very quickly – the self-funding brag disappeared more quickly than I expected. Even Ross Perot in 1992 at least followed through on the self-funding, and that was before campaign contributions became Citizens United gargantuan guided missiles for oligarchs’ profit. Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump both drew their deepest strength from a belief they were outside the funding cess pit. It’s why I became a Bernie Bro. When Trump turned into just another whore to capital, even making a Goldman Sachs alum his chief fundraiser (just like Hillary), both A and B were gone.

I gave Trump one last shot at my vote during the first debate. As he tore into Hillary over trade in the first 20 minutes, I could feel my heart rate go up. Finally, she’s getting it between the eyes on her neoliberal free market failure, from a neoliberal free market oligarch Clinton policies created. Hillary couldn’t even look at him. Not even Bernie Sanders had blasted her so effectively on the Clinton trade legacy, which Trump kept pegging (accurately to me) at “30 years”. I couldn’t wait for him to get to Citizens United.

GoldmanHillaryTrumpWeddingThen, Trump’s line of coke, which I’m sure he snorted off a hooker’s ass backstage, wore off. It was visible. Hillary sure was lookin’ at him now! The babbling, the sniffing, the robotic retreat to “law and order”. How can a guy who says he’s a TV star be so unprepared as to bomb so spectacularly on the biggest stage of his life? Turns out Trump really is just a rich asshole conning you out of your very soul, partying the whole way. I guess it was a relief, but I was still a bit disappointed. Citizens United remains unmentioned in this fall’s “debates”.

So that’s how Hillary Clinton wins Ohio. Trump exposes himself as a buffoon in the biggest nationally televised political event in American history, then spends a week complaining about Miss Universe. Ohio still, still gave him another shot after the debate performance, which shows in the polls pictured above. Huge post debate national swing to Hillary, except Ohio for a minute. Ohio held on! Go Bucks! Then, after a week of Miss Universe, we learned Trump doesn’t even pay federal taxes. The End.

Hillary Clinton won’t win Ohio so much as Donald Trump has lost it. Whether or not Hillary loses Ohio more ridiculously than Trump does, who knows.

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Psst. Hillary. Labour defeats capital, again, this Saturday

CorbynWinningVoting in Labour’s second leadership election in a year today closed, with a massive turnout nearly 50% higher than last year, despite persistent, repeated, concerted efforts to purge new members. On Saturday, the result will be announced at conference in Liverpool. All expect Jeremy Corbyn to crush the pointless Blairite challenger Owen Smith by an even bigger margin than the 59% Corbyn won last time. A Quixotic, opportunistic, post-Brexit temper tantrum from the tools of capital, summer 2016’s New Labour Blairite coup never had a chance.

The coup attempt has a shining silver lining – Labour is now the most battle tested it has ever been, with a brand new, younger membership so huge it is now the largest political party in the history of Western Europe. Corbyn’s Labour is today a muscled out Jaguar, Rolls Royce, pick your favorite British made car, with nitrous oxide turbo boosters.

Spitting in the face of this movement, rumors of New Labour dead enders splitting off continued all summer. The parliamentary Labour Party, the PLP (members in parliament) made pathetic noises about somehow detaching themselves from Corbyn’s Labour by forming their own faction from Parliament, suing to keep Labour’s assets, all manner of nonsense. That didn’t last.

Reasonably, members began wondering aloud how to remove these recalcitrant coup plotters in Parliament if they cannot accept a democratic decision of membership for a second time. In America, we call this a primary challenge. In Britain, this is called “deselection”, local members meeting to choose a different candidate to stand in their parliamentary constituency. Every MP in Labour knows that if the gargantuan size of this new membership mobilized to deselect them, they can kiss all those Westminster perks goodbye, and like the rest of us, start looking for a new job that pays them to talk all day in the neoliberal hellscape their policies created. Sort of concentrates the mind.

labourleadsthewaylordsLabour is now the strongest fist worldwide punching up at the scourge of Third Way, Clinton DLC, Reagan Thatcher “There is no alternative” free market purist neoliberalism. Is Hillary Clinton listening? In America, Donald Trump has captured this sentiment with racism. No longer immunized against 1930’s style nationalism by the long dead New Deal (which Bill Clinton with his own pen himself dismantled most), America is falling victim to the predictable rise of hate that persistent economic decline at the hands of capitalism always produces. Blaming the problems on the brown people doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. It means average Americans are on the hunt for a scapegoat responsible for the end of the American Dream, and through Trump, they’ve been given the oldest scapegoat in human history.

It’s understandable that Hillary is so obviously reluctant to attack the failed neoliberal legacy her own husband created. However, tectonic plates worldwide are rolling over that legacy, right now, and in Liverpool next week, Labour will take its place standing atop that shift, ready to fight. Blairites will either cry uncle, finally (hint!), or put themselves in the crosshairs of this movement merely to be crushed a third time.

Hillary can either join Labour, capture that same movement stateside, or prattle on in irrelevance, watching powerlessly as Donald Trump, like every ugly dictator before him, scapegoats his way into the White House. She should seize this moment. This movement.

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How Hillary Clinton loses Ohio

When news broke that Hillary Clinton left the door to America’s internet wide open in her basement server, my Tweet was…

Two months out, with Russian hackers having spent 7 years burrowing like termites from Chappaqua into every crevace of the DNC, Donald Trump’s about to win Ohio. The Ohio Democratic Party’s last statewide candidate foisted onto us whether we wanted him or not also flouted the law, lied about it, got caught, and lied some more during the campaign; Ed FitzGerald, who got 34% running for governor in 2014 after being found to not have a driver’s license for 10 years. Hillary is tied with a stinking racist at 43% in Ohio, and heading downward toward Fitzy’s glory. Ohio voters don’t like candidates who get off scot free for something average folks would be tossed into jail for. Who knew.

"sure beats a blow job, Bill"

“sure beats a blow job, Bill”

Ted Strickland’s US Senate campaign against Rob Portman is a Ford Pinto held together with duct tape leaking oil. Poor Ted. When Ted was governor, Ohio Democrats barely put up with what we all called “the best Republican governor Ohio ever had”. Now, what’s even the point? Visibly old and tired, Ted’s barely making it across the finish line, with a voting record reliably in the pocket of the NRA, a legacy of prostrating Ohio’s budget before the market gods seizing every inch of public space. Now Ted reaps what he’s sewn, with the added insult of Hillary Clinton dragging him down just as Lee Fisher’s pathetic (just as rigged) US Senate attempt dragged Ted down in 2010, giving us John Kasich. Karma. Shoulda kept the downstate good ol’ boy preacher act on the farm this time, Ted; all them hillbillies votin’ for Trump, dawg. Ohio Democrats have had quite enough of triangulation.

All this stench is piled atop an ODP racket so corrupt for so many decades it’s incapable of mounting the most basic get out the vote campaign at the grassroots in 2016. Chris Redfern’s farcical departure as chair after the FitzGerald comedy, gave us not one, not two, but three attempts at keeping the game rigged, landing ODP on David Pepper, son of a Proctor & Gamble billionaire. Pay dirt, literally. No one is going to volunteer for a rigged game benefiting a 20 year hustle just this side of a RICO case, just as they wouldn’t for Al Gore after being made fools of in defense of a blow job.

CorbynWinningThe energy on the left is organizing not to assist but to destroy that hustle, as the Lakewood Democratic Club learned when the revolution descended upon them in force last month. Lakewood Dems robotically repeated the exact same machinations of capital displayed by this summer’s coup mounting Blairites rejecting this same movement electing Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour party by a landslide in 2015. Moving the goalposts, trying to outrun a flood of new members with rigged votes, refusing new members’ right to vote for leader, heading to court to do so, spitting in the face of a movement ready to spit back. Corbyn will repeat that mandate September 24 at Labour conference in Liverpool, likely with an even bigger margin. Capital is on transatlantic notice; we ain’t buyin’ it anymore.

Ohio in fall 2016 is, as the saying goes, “woke AF”. After the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and now the Bernie Sanders campaign for president, Ohio is boiling with revolution from the bottom up in all 88 counties. In 2000, for Al Gore, Democrats were expected to get up, brush themselves off, and start right over again after defending Bill Clinton’s blow job for 3 solid years. Al Gore was out of the state by Halloween. Another Clinton whose stupidity and arrogance we must defend? Who will then give us yet another Goldman Sachs Secretary of the Treasury? As out of touch as a red rightward pointing arrow in the H logo. They’re completely clueless.

What can she do? Water’s already under one bridge, unfortunately. She should have mea culpa’d her way around the server issue in March, 2015. Hand over the server immediately, beg forgiveness. Instead, she parroted her husband’s “What blow job?” for a year, which worked just as well.

Leaked photo of Bill Clinton "helping cure AIDS in Africa"

Leaked photo of Bill Clinton “helping cure AIDS in Africa”

Another missed opportunity – Hillary could have used her convention to cut ties with her Citizens United funding model, and promise to rely only on individual donations, like Bernie Sanders. Is there time yet for that change? Perhaps a moment in the first debate where Hillary responds to Trump’s inevitable attack on the Clinton Foundation by making a spectacular funding U-turn on national TV could save her.

Alas, these are the Clintons we are talking about. Their political radar long ago stopped working, left somewhere at the bottom of Harold Ford Jr.’s punch bowl in the Hamptons. With Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 10-15% statewide, turnout going ever downward, a Democratic base that would rather watch the Browns lose by 30 on a Sunday than knock on a single door with that stupid H-logo on their chest, Ohio is Trump country.

HillaryLogoNewYorkerAmerica survived many stinking racist presidents, some of whom turned out to be pretty good presidents despite their bigotry. When Trump said in the first Fox News August 2015 debate “she came to my wedding because I paid her, she had no choice,” this die was cast. Ohio would have been the center of a historic Democratic tidal wave if Bernie Sanders was at the top of this ticket. Instead, we are on our own, preparing to kick in the teeth the next day whoever “wins” neoliberalism’s ultimate “lesser of two evils” display then predictably gives Goldman Sachs another Treasury Secretary.

On November 9, the movement will either have Trump’s Goldman Sachs appointment to Treasury to fight, or Hillary’s. Whether we have to fight the building of an idiotic, racist wall, too, really doesn’t make much difference. We know where this country is headed. Hillary Clinton certainly does not.

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Another Supreme Court election okie doke

The only time I really cashed in on a presidential election reduced to the Supreme Court was Al Gore’s collapse in 2000. I had recruited 6 British Labour Party staff to come to Cleveland and plug into the Gore campaign exactly the same way I had done with Labour in 1997. Found ’em nice places to stay for two weeks, and hustled a “GOTV” contract from the local consulting grand poobah (who I shall not name to save him further embarrasment) which paid for car rentals and reimbursed stateside expenses. I treated it like a visiting international delegation, which it was. A kind of “thank you” to my British friends.

Ahhhh....memories.

Ahhhh….memories.

The client was People for The American Way, the campaign was a door to door “issue” thus “non-candidate specific” canvass, thus technically legal. Through this contract, I put my eight Labour mates to work knocking on doors in Cleveland delivering this door hanger. The targets were high Democratic high turnout precincts, because a turned off Democratic base was a major issue for Al Gore in 2000, just as it is for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Despite Al Gore having pulled out of Ohio by the time the Brits arrived two weeks out, it was a blast, of course. My Labour colleagues were mini local celebrities, and they got to see the Florida recount horror begin. “We left and you Yanks still didn’t have a president!” was the joke in later years.

Democrats have thus heard this argument when their presidential candidate is nose diving before. Repeatedly, in fact. Especially in Ohio, the dumping ground of millions in “GOTV” cash every four years. My Labour mateys knew the score, too. Their popularity was based not just in their accents, but mostly in their ability to show up in force as a team of six people, volunteers being extremely rare commodities in Ohio in 2000. To boot, door knockers weren’t all that welcome on those Democratic doorsteps, British or not. We were having zero impact on the election’s outcome. Our international delegation did cross polinate our transatlantic freindships, so it was all a success nonetheless.  We drank a lot of beer.

Sixteen years later, the Supreme Court looks likely to end up the Clinton campaign’s closing argument, again. There is some cosmic explanation for all this, I’m sure.

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Trump shows leadership, Clinton clings to cash

The door in Trump's wall can't match this.

The door in Trump’s wall can’t match this.

Leadership is bringing people somewhere they would otherwise not go absent your leadership. The Donald Trump base simply would not go beyond a racial, nationalist, deportation rage unless Trump himself dragged them there. We thus see the first evidence of Donald Trump acting presidential.

Trump’s recent loud, openly meandered “softening” on immigration comes as he co-opted the hardest core anti-immigrant Brietbart alt-right at the very top of his campaign. Just imagine the conversation (argument from hell?) between Steve Bannon and Trump the last few days, as the softening softened. What’s Bannon gonna do, go back to his stupid blog and whine about the wetbacks some more? Talk about getting Trumped. Machiavelli couldn’t do better.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton could have shown precisely the same leadership by adopting the central core of the Bernie Sanders campaign at her convention; refusing corporate money, superpacs, the entire architecture of the Clinton funding machine, and pledged to rely only on small donors. A mere sniff of the political breeze would have made that leadership mandatory. Instead, Hillary and the Clintons just can’t quit the cash. The Clinton Foundation’s reeking stench of corruption, the Goldman Sachs speech transcripts, millions of tendrils in email leaks suddenly visible, now engulf the Clinton campaign like a fog. Instead of leading, the Clintons cling to their cash cow like grim death, on live television.

Leaked photo of Bill Clinton "helping cure AIDS in Africa"

Leaked photo of Bill Clinton “helping cure AIDS in Africa”

Will Trump lose base voters who will see another “softening” on immigration as yet another betrayal? Some, perhaps a lot. Rick Perry collapsed in the 2011 GOP primary not due to the famed “oops” brain fart in a debate, but when he sounded humane on immigration.  The alt-right racialist base of the GOP piled the political corpses atop Rick Perry for years, after each attempt at the same leadership Trump is now forcing onto his own voters. Many of Trump’s hardest core base will probably just stay home and not vote, for this “softening” is the ultimate betrayal.

The gamble of course is that Trump picks up more undecideds than he loses base voters. Has Trump made himself untouchable to undecided voters in the year he’s spent proving to his base that he’s with them before he leads them? Possibly. Trump’s a salesman; he closed the deal with his base, and kept on closing it with ugliness well beyond when the sale closed. Do swing voters believe him now? Will they ever?

Trump is gifted with an opponent who is now collapsing under the weight of her own corruption. A sprinkling of leadership pixie dust could have solved Hillary’s problems, just as Trump is attempting to solve his problems with leadership. The good news for Hillary? Plenty of time to show that leadership, and cast the fog away with one blown goodbye kiss at her corrput to the core funders. Cut the cord, Hillz. Trump is taking a far greater risk with his base than Hillary would risk by kissing off the Citizens United model of her entire campaign.

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