Time to introduce the Democratic Party to Gandhi in Philly

GentleWayShakeTheWorldBernie

Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party, clearly do not understand what is at stake at the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia. If they did, the convention rules would not right now be written by a board member of a TARP bailed out bank.

We are not merely resisting the nomination for president of someone other than Bernie Sanders. We are resisting our exploitation. I love Bernie, but this movement was resisting the oppression of neoliberal Washington Consensus capitalism with nonviolent civil disobedience for a long time before Bernie ran for president. Anti-fracking activists get arrested regularly. Black Lives Matter activists prepare for arrest as a matter of course. Occupy Wall Street stood across from the armed shock troops of Democratic Party mayors in every corner of America five years ago as over 7,000 of them were arrested. All due respect to him, but this really isn’t about Bernie Sanders. He’ll tell you so.

BernieTianenmenSquareThe Clinton DLC Third Way is dead. It simply does not work, except to rig the game for capital. Bernie Sanders’ job at this convention is to convince superdelegates who now support this rigged game by supporting Hillary Clinton to switch, and support him. We do not care what the Democrats’ capital rigged process up to this point has produced, except that it is producing a sure loser to Donald Trump. This Democratic Party was the indispensible tool of capital to deregulate Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, media, telecoms, handed public education over to profit, is bankrolled by fossil fuels destroying our planet, all of which flood the airwaves with cash, so our media just plays right along.  That “process” is illegitimate on its face.

It is a “process” now dependent on armed police at state Democratic conventions, complete with a pliant media that will misrepresent the rigging of a political party by state force as some “bad behavior” by unhinged “BernieBros”. We are not fools. We would be fools to think a convention whose rules are chaired by a TARP bailed out bank board member, who wrote TARP himself, will somehow use armed police less, two months later. We’ve seen this movie before, we know how it ends, and that is why we will resist it.

The absurd “BernieBro” high dudgeon manufactured by this same system is right about one thing. There is indeed rage in this country, overflowing rage, at being bait and switched into supporting our own exploitation, among much else. If David Brock worked for the British Viceroy in 1940, he’d have come up with “GandhiBros” to dismiss them, too. Luckily, in America today, we do not live in a country so oppressed as Gandhi’s India. Our rage cannot begin to match Gandhi’s. So we must look to his example.

BernieWithKittensWhen Gandhi announced the Salt March, he did so with an incredibly gentle and kind letter to Lord Irwin, who governed India in much the same way our oligarchs govern us. Gandhi informed his oppressors he would be breaking their laws. This is the opportunity before our movement in Philadelphia in July, and before the superdelegates who now support Hillary Clinton. With the power of nonviolence, we will either build a new Democratic Party in Philadelphia no longer enslaved to capital, or fail to, and leave that party. That’s the choice before superdelegates whose first vote is at this contested convention.

Shouldn’t be a very difficult choice if by our gentle ways we can shake the world. Let’s scratch some salt on a beach in Philly, fam.

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According to international standards, Hillary Clinton is already illegitimate

GentleWayShakeTheWorldBernieCongratulations, Nevada Democratic Party. You’ve provided clarity. Any international election observer knows that by the time armed police are deployed to defend the arbitrary decision of a political party, your democracy is already dead. It’s too late for any election observation mission to have a prayer of detecting fraud, let alone prevent it. Too late for domestic civic institutions to affect the integrity of the process. Too late for the political party itself to claim legitimacy. Just, too late.

Watching a democracy die with your own eyes is a scarring experience, especially for a true believer. My long time readers recall I began my online writing in 2005 with a long dead blog called Democracy Guy, a self-therapeutic serialized manuscript from my 1997-98 work in Armenia for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs as a political party and election observer trainer during the two-round, post-military coup 1998 presidential election.

The entire international community knew the 1998 Armenian presidential election was too far gone before the first international observer even booked their ticket to Yerevan, not just due to the military coup kicking things off. Media played the key role, as it always does. From the OSCE’s international observer mission statement on the first round, emphasis mine.

  • Media bias. While an early review of the editorial coverage by State media indicated a continuation of the 1996 practice of extreme media bias, steps to correct this problem were taken. Despite efforts to treat candidates fairly, statistical monitoring showed continuing imbalance. State media gave disproportionate coverage to the incumbent candidate in comparison to all others; in the case of certain private media, this was also true for their favoured candidate.

Here’s how that measure of legitimacy measures out in America in 2015.

MediaCoverage2015Presidential

Like all good election riggers, Hillary Clinton has left nothing to chance, including the rules of the convention she claims will “nominate” her for president. Clinton has named former congressman Barney Frank as co-chair of the Rules Committee of the DNC in Philadelphia in July. In an election where Wall Street power and their bailout is front and center, Frank chairs the Rules Committee while simultaneously being paid six figures to sit on the board of Signature Bank, whose survival depended on the TARP bailout, which Barney Frank himself wrote, lobbied for, and hand walked to George W. Bush for signature in 2008.

BarneyDNCCaviar

This would be top news in any system other than one ideologically rigged by neoliberal Washington Consensus capitalism. Such bald faced, arrogant corruption would be attacked on sight by any international observation mission in any post soviet republic. It would be the subject of meetings in ambassadors’ residences, with demands for an immediate reversal with the implicit threat the stench would make it into the OSCE preliminary statement. In America, Barney Frank’s Rules Committee/Signature Bank two step isn’t even covered for a single second in the Trump/Clinton mass media.

Meanwhile, the newest national polls show Hillary Clinton (still refusing to release transcripts of her $225,000 per hour speeches to Goldman Sachs) and Donald Trump (who himself now relies on a Goldman Sachs alum for finance) are, surprise, tied at around 48-45% each, with the same polling showing Clinton and Trump are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in the history of American polling. The remaining voters are still “undecided” between shit and crap, exactly as every US election has gone for decades.

Today, as police deployed in Nevada, and Barney Frank writes the DNC rules from a desk at Signature Bank, the media environment has, in broad daylight, switched on demand to a divisive, cultural, spitball match over genitalia (the “woman card”, let alone transgender bathrooms). The predictable result will be ever lower voter turnout as most reasonable voters continue their decades long self-removal from an obviously rigged game in which it matters not one iota who wins a fake staged fight between crap and shit.

If Hillary Clinton “wins” the Democratic nomination, then “wins” the presidency, hers will be the most illegitimate presidency since Bush v. Gore put W into the White House; if you look hard enough, you won’t be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 2016. Which is the point.

Americans in 2016 are thus left with the same decision citizens in developing democracies (post soviet or otherwise) face as they watch their democracy die; what to do? What to do.

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Tim Ryan, Ohio Superdelegate, could be ripe to flip in Philly

RyanSignHoldingArticle

Tim Ryan and I have a long history, dating back to the day he walked into my state director office at the NH Democratic Coordinated Campaign in 1998 as a wide-eyed student looking to help while at Franklin Pierce Law School. We had a write in state senate candidate who needed immediate help, and when I told Tim to go hold signs on the street corners for this guy named Steve DeStefano, as he told the Tribune Chronicle in the article above, Tim was visibly perplexed.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ He said, ‘No’.”

After one day of sign waving, Tim Ryan was hooked on it. Grassroots, baby. We were soulmates thereafter.

Soulmates, that is, until I helped Tim win his 2002 congressional primary against NAFTA poster child Tom Sawyer, who outspent us 10-1. Sign holding is how we won that primary, too, plus a little magic conjured out of thin air by yours truly. (Ask Tom Sawyer’s consultant Jeff Rusnak. He remembers it very well.) Despite my help (the only person more responsible than me for Tim Ryan’s congressional career is Tim Ryan himself, that includes you brother Al) immediately after the 2002 congressional primary, I got cashiered thanks to the Dickensian American nightmare of living with a criminal conviction. Your best friends will use you like a cheap tampon to get where they’re going, forget you existed the nanosecond they get there. ‘Murica! I haven’t talked to Tim since 2008. I got tired of waiting for help from all these people whose jobs in Congress I was responsible for. It’s a long, depressing story, and I might start to cry soon, so let’s move on, ok?!

Tim Ryan has been talked about for Ohio governor, or US Senator, since the day after that 2002 primary stunner. When Ted Strickland failed to win re-election in 2010, that talk got louder. Now, with an open seat up in 2018, Tim Ryan is the front runner if he runs for governor. Cuyahoga County Executive, known money laundering senior fleecing pimp Armond Budish, will likely also run in that primary, along with a few other no hopers. All of which is likely why Tim Ryan is currently the loudest Ohio Superdelegate in support of Hillary Clinton; gotta line up that statewide organized crime racket…er…I mean…state party.

Problem is, Hillary Clinton is the polar opposite of Tim Ryan on issue after issue. The Iraq War vote itself was held in October during Tim’s 2002 general election campaign (a deliberate George W. Bush tactic to help swing vulnerable folks on the ballot that month), and Tim was loudly, bravely, on the record against, as Hillary voted yes. Tim won his 2002 primary on the strength of NRA support and organized labor rage about NAFTA. As your typical Ohio Irish Catholic, Tim Ryan is pro-life, but also pro-choice, which is indeed a coherent position. Hillary Clinton is none of these things.

Which means Tim Ryan is kinda out on a limb.

The only rational reason for Tim Ryan to support Hillary Clinton, just like his fellow Ohio Superdelegate Ron Malone, is naked self-interest. Period. This means Tim can be flipped if he believes his self-interest is better served by Bernie Sanders.

Given the leftward, FDR energy exploding in the Democratic Party electorate, that’s an easy argument to make. If Tim Ryan wants the Bernie Sanders energy when he runs for governor in 2018, or in any future run for higher office, he needs to switch, at the convention in Philly, loudly, on the floor, not just on the nominee, but on every platform roll call vote on every single issue. Glass Steagall, Wall St. Speculation Tax, Single Payer Medicare For All, Fracking Ban, Carbon Tax, Tuition Free Public College, the whole kit and kaboodle.

Even if Tim Ryan isn’t planning to run statewide, and is instead hoping to continue climbing the House leadership ladder from his safe House seat toward a Speakership, all the national polling suggests it’s in his interest for Bernie Sanders to be the nominee in 2016. With Bernie at the top of the ticket, against Donald Trump, it is increasingly likely the House flips Democrat, AND the Senate, putting Tim’s good buddy Ted Strickland in Rob Portman’s seat. Hillary Clinton as nominee will destroy the energy on the left, consign Bernie folks to the wilderness, or even to Trump; she will lead an empty shell of a party into November against the Trump phenomenon. Even if Hillary manages to beat Trump, Tim Ryan would wake up the next morning quite an Ohio scapegoat, forced to drag Hillary around like a millstone around his neck in 2018, and beyond.

Once upon a time, Tim Ryan could be counted on to do the right thing. At the Democratic Convention this July, Tim’s got another chance, and it happens to coincide very nicely with his self-interest. Buy him a beer in Philly. Tell him I said hi.

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Ron Malone, Ohio Superdelegate, time for your closeup

RonMalone

Ron Malone, Ohio Superdelegate, aka The Marion Mafia

There lies a great irony in the Clinton Democratic Party’s superdelegates sham. Superdelegates were created to give the illusion of overwhelming party support, a top-up of establishment game riggers just in case Hillary couldn’t earn a majority from pledged delegates alone. This of course does not work if Hillary loses to a majority of pledged delegates, as happened with Obama in 2008. Worse, if Hillary faces a determined opponent, like Bernie Sanders, who is both able to keep her from gaining a majority among pledged delegates, and forces a roll call vote of every single delegate in Philadelphia in July, those superdelegates become the swing votes.

Not a place any establishment game rigging superdelegate really wants to be. Especially not Ohio’s Ron Malone.

The grand poobah of what is known in ODP circles as “The Marion Mafia”, Malone leads a tight knit labor union establishment Sanhedrin that has lined its pockets every single election for the last 25 years with consultant fees, media buys, printing contracts, direct mail and robocall scams, via a patronage network so virulent, it is invulnerable to catastrophic Democratic losses statewide, which have become ODP’s core competence. As Ohio has suffered while state Democrats constantly lose, Ron Malone’s Marion Mafia keeps getting richer, lather rinse repeat, to the point John Kasich is a two term governor, after George Voinovich’s two terms, while the Ohio Statehouse has been rock solid GOP throughout, gutting public services as Malone counts his money.

Ohio Superdeleagate Ron Malone’s reign of total incompetence over the Ohio Democratic Party dates back to at least 1994, when Malone, via his perch at AFSCME, with the help of the Ohio AFL-CIO, force fed Rob Burch down Ohio’s throat as the ODP nominee for governor. Burch promptly gave Ohio government to Voinovich for two terms; Burch gained 27% of the vote statewide, nearly losing ODP its “major party” status under Ohio law, which would have bankrupt the party by removing it from the state tax return checkoff system.

Alas, ODP’s near death experience of 1994 was Ron Malone just warming up.

Malone hand picks the ODP chair at will, including rigging the 2005 ODP Chair race for Chris Redfern, whose chief claim to fame is losing the 2010 re-election of Ted Strickland to John Kasich, ushering in yet another 8 years of GOP total control. Redfern, unfazed, then rigged the 2014 gubernatorial primary for imploding unlicensed driver Ed FitzGerald, the only Ohio Democrat to come close to Burch’s catastrophic result. The aftermath of Redfern’s resignation after the 2014 disaster was Ron Malone at his game rigging finest; Malone bounced from one ODP chair candidate to another until landing on David Pepper, who can be counted on to keep the cash flowin’, because Pepper himself was a statwide ballot creation of the Marion Mafia. Via Malone, a direct line of rigged politics connects every Ohio superdelegate, including Sherrod Brown, whose campaigns Malone has run since Sherrod first combed his hair.

The ODP’s Malone Marion Mafia are 21st century capitalists at their core, who use the state apparatus to minimize (socialize) their risk and maximize (privatize) their return. Malone long ago left AFSCME to swim in the murky waters most parasites call home, creating some front “consulting” business (“Strategies Unlimited” LOL) that he won’t even dislose on his own LinkedIn page, because why bother marketing if the money is hard wired into your bank account?

Malone’s interest as a superdelegate isn’t Ohio, or the United States, or organized labor, or even the Democratic Party, it is his network of cronies whose mortgage payments, like his own, rely on a steady stream of presidential year contracts flowing through known, rigged, party structures with their names on it. Malone exemplifies the broader disconnect between labor union leadership, which rigs the game for Hillary, and the rank and file union members, who love Bernie Sanders.

Smile, Ron! Time for your closeup! I hear Philly is lovely in July.

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Barney Frank moonlights from 6-figure bank board gig to co-chair DNC Rules Committee, who could have predicted

The Clinton Democratic Party, root and branch, is about to go on trial. Bernie Sanders is taking it to the convention in Philadelphia, not just to reform the DNC platform (as I suggested is a no-brainer), but to win the nomination for president. For Bernie Sanders’ delegates, it’s important at this point to take a look at just how rigged for Clinton this convention already is, just like every single step of this 2016 campaign has been.

First stop, the rules committee.

Barney Frank has been named co-chair of the Rules Committee in Philly. We all have a soft spot for Barney, but lately, Barney’s been a not so warm, fuzzy, big cuddly purple dinosaur, and instead he’s been squealing like a stuck pig now that we all realize he should have broken up the banks when he had the chance in 2008, instead of bending over for Hank Paulsen’s blackmail threats, just like Hillary Clinton did, and bailing the banks out. One $29 billion bank which took that oh-so-juicy-delicious 2008 TARP money handsomely rewarded Barney with a board seat almost immediately after Barney left the House.

Signature has not said how much Frank would be paid as a board member. On Wednesday, the bank, according to a filing, awarded Frank 1,913 shares of the bank’s stock, which at a recent $146, is worth nearly $280,000. But Frank was restricted from selling the shares until next March. According to the bank’s most recent proxy filing, the bank’s directors had an average compensation of around $375,000 paid in cash and stock last year.

Barney will tell us this is all on the up and up, nothing to see here, it’s just totally fine for the DNC Rules Committee at a contested convention in three months to be run, SIMULTANEOUSLY, by a sitting board member of a $29 billion bank which took TARP money Barney Frank himself hand-walked through Congress at the business end of a gun.

This is the point where a sane person would grab Barney by the lapels and kiss him like Al Pacino kissing Fredo in Havanna. Could you please wake up, Barney? It beggars belief that anyone at Barney’s level of decision making within the Democratic Party is so pathetically blind.

At a bare MINIMUM, if he were the least bit sentient, Barney Frank would resign his Signature Bank board seat if he plans to lord over the rules at a contested Democratic Party Convention in July. More appropriately, if anyone can get Barney out of his zombie walk for capital for fifteen seconds to the point the damned light bulbs go on in his head, Barney would resign from the DNC Rules Committee.

Get ready, Bernie delegates. It is so on.

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Buck up fam. A platform fight awaits.

DNCLearnedRevolution

The language of the 2016 presidential campaign was written in the blood, sweat, and tears of autumn 2011. 99% and 1% are an idea. After the Occupy Movement scraped that idea into the American conciousness, thousands had been arrested. Many still rot in prison. The Occupy brand was in tatters, mocked, spit upon, one step this side of terrorists. No Democrat would be seen anywhere near anything remotely considered OWS.

The idea remained, and now, power is behind the idea.

Today, one year after Bernie Sanders announced what appeared at the time to be a flight of fancy at least as futile as kids pitching tents in public squares in 2011, Bernie leads over 1,300 delegates to the DNC Convention in Philadelphia this summer, with hundreds more on the way. During this Democratic primary for president, a fight over our ideas, no one’s been arrested, or pepper sprayed in the face, or dragged across the ground to a paddy wagon, or spent a night in jail. There have been no front line battles with hundreds of riot geared police on live national television. Bernie merely has gained, even via a hopelessly rigged electoral process…power.

When I hear folks complain, “it doesn’t matter what Bernie delegates are able to write into the Democratic Party’s platform in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton will never stick to it”, I wonder…are Americans so used to being powerless they can’t recognize when they do have power? My conversion from Clintonista to radical FDR Occupado is based in the Democratic Party’s crucial, indispensable role as game rigger in chief, and the realization that I played a part my entire career. If the party platform in 1992 said what Bernie Sanders’ platform says today, the Clinton Democratic Party wouldn’t have been such an easy pushover for capital.

BernieConventionRevolutionThe key point of the word “Occupy” is quite literal. Similar to the word “seize”, as in, when a revolution seizes the reins of power. Human beings have to occupy public space or capital will. That means in order to fight capital you have to fill the space available to you with your own body, your own voice, your own power.  Nearly 2,000 delegates can fill a lot of space; physically, politically, ideologically, and in the words to which they agree in a party platform. It would be an abdication of power for Sanders delegates to leave Philadelphia without representing their Bernie voters in a fight over the platform, a fight over ideas.

This movement is older than Bernie Sanders, and will live much longer than Bernie Sanders. It is a movement of ideas. If you can get those ideas in writing, at a national convention of one of the two major political parties in the United States, and force a candidate to run for president on them, you do so. Period. FDR didn’t conjure the American Dream in one election; he led the country, over many years, to a different idea of what America could be.

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If Hillary wants Bernie Sanders supporters, first stop is the DNC platform

After New York last night, let’s be honest, it will take something close to a miracle for Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016. No reason to stop fighting for that miracle! Weird things happen, especially this year.

However, as a strong Sanders supporter, and a former (now repentant) Clintonista Dem, I’ve been paying close attention to the #BernieOrBust sentiment, largely because I’m as far away from voting for Hillary Clinton right now as I have ever been. Since this primary got competitive, Hillary has only further proven her enslavement to Wall Street and big money. She campaigns against Citizens United, while lapping up its largesse like a champ. She’s actually proud of it. That’s wrong, and she knows it. There’s a different way to raise money, Bernie Sanders is doing it that way, Hillary could do it that way too. She chose not to.

The problem this year for Hillary, unlike for Obama in 2008, is ideological, not personal. I do not believe a single thing the woman says. Her track record is neoliberal Washington Consensus surrender to capital, for decades. That light bulb ain’t goin’ off, expecially not for folks like me, filled with the zeal of the recently converted. A huge chunk of Bernie’s support isn’t from the Democratic Party, in fact, they are first time voters. If Hillary wants our (my) support in the fall, she has to prove she is running to do what Bernie Sanders would do, not just say it.

Bernie voters need to see some regret from Hillary. We need her to acknowledge that she has made grave mistakes to help rig the game for capital, not just on Iraq, but ideologically across the board. We all made these same mistakes one way or another, by surrendering to this sick system of exploitation; we all thought it would work. It doesn’t. Neoliberal Washington Consensus free market bullshit is just a con, only the 1% benefit, the rest of us get taken to the cleaners, generation after generation. The middle class is nearly gone. Hillary knows how Clinton era policies produced this result. She’s many things, but dumb ain’t one of ’em.

Growing up Catholic, you learn a lot about forgiveness, grace, mercy. How do you prove you won’t do something terrible again? How does Hillary prove she won’t just revert to her neoliberal factory settings upon election? Her words aren’t enough. We need action.

The first step is obvious; the DNC platform. If Hillary wants Bernie supporters to believe she stands for their values, Hillary should run on those values as the platform of the Democratic Party. Speaking only for myself, the ONLY way I will support Hillary Clinton is if the entire Sanders platform is adopted by DNC convention as the Democratic Party platform. That shouldn’t be hard, since that’s what Democrats used to stand for! All of it. Glass Steagall to begin with. Wall Street speculation tax. Tuition free public college. Single payer Medicare for all. Ban on fracking. Carbon tax. Repeal Citizens United, and commit to raising money without superpacs. You know, stuff Democrats are supposed to do. Make it Hillary’s platform, you got a shot at the Bernie supporters.

Sanders delegates should force this fight at the convention. If nothing changes, Bernie heads into this convention with close to half of all delegates. If this really is a revolution, the definition of revolution is seizing the reins of power. Sanders delegates in Philadelphia can seize the reins of the rules and platform committees and demand that Hillary Clinton run on our values.

It’d be a start.

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That time Tim Ryan put Tom Sawyer into a free trade drunken stupor

ClintonTradePolicyMeme“We need a guy dancing in a sombrero,” I said.

“What about one of those Chinese boats, what are they called?” he responded.

“And some Chinese-sounding music!” I shot back.

“Mariachi music, too.”

It was spring, 2002. I sat in a darkened edit suite, editing a cartoony ad with one of Tim Ryan’s friends who fancied himself a filmmaker. It was less than two weeks out from the primary that would end Akron Congressman Tom Sawyer’s career.

Tim and I had met in New Hampshire while he was a law student, and I was running the NH Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign in 1998. By 2002 Tim Ryan was a new state senator running a penniless, in debt, campaign for Congress, being outspent 10-1 by incumbent Sawyer in a newly redrawn district to succeed the legendary Jim Traficant. We’d spent months doing the only thing we could with so little money…standing on street corners holding signs. Local boy hustling the grassroots, that was our angle.

Leaked Sawyer polls were telling us Tim was down 17 points (sound familiar?). We cobbled together a few nickels for some positive intro ads, but we needed at LEAST one hard hitting TV ad, airing for at LEAST a few days, at LEAST on local Yougstown TV, and it had to be on trade. Sawyer was the Ohio poster child of the entire 90’s litany of Clinton free trade policy, with a half dozen citable votes in favor of fast track, NAFTA, GATT, PNTR, you name it. Tim Ryan had to make that stick.

Begging labor for help, I walked out of a meeting with labor leaders at the local Building Trades hall with $24,000 of independent expenditure money. After a few all nighters in that edit suite, we had the ad – 30 seconds of comic bashing of Sawyer’s trade voting record with cartoonish mocking that pre-saged the dankest memes of today. “Sawyer put our jobs on a fast track south of the border, and on the slow boat to China”. I was pretty proud of that line.

Would it be enough? The ad aired maybe 30-40 times on just a few local stations. But it was so sticky, we would call the phenomenon “viral” today. A gut punch arrived right before the election, while the trade ad was airing; we got another leak of another 17 point Sawyer lead, kinda how Hillary had a poll two days ago showing her with a 21 point lead in Michigan.

Sawyer lost to Tim Ryan by 14 points. The pundit class declared Sawyer’s free trade voting record was the reason. The ashen look on Sawyer’s face as local TV caught him heading to his election night party is still seared in my memory. For at least a year after, I would get reports of Sawyer wandering Ohio like a hobo, going through the motions of previously scheduled public appearances, visibly lit up like a Christmas tree.

I expect the entire Hillary Clinton staff has this same look on their faces today, as trade turned what had been a 21 point Clinton lead in the 2016 Michigan primary into a Bernie Sanders victory, practically overnight. Today, Tim Ryan is one of Hillary Clinton’s top Ohio endorsers, ignoring how he himself got elected in the first place.

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The greatest con of the Clinton era was free trade

AGForGatt1994

The 1%’s astroturf, 1994 style

My collection of political bumper stickers includes this pointless piece of corporate astrotruf, which I picked up during the fall 1994 lobbying effort to win Senate confirmation for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which created the World Trade Organization. Picked it up in the boiler room which was set up in one of the Senate office buildings, where I helped coordinate lobbyists’ visits to Senators. Never saw this thing on a car’s bumper.

I was that deep in the bourgeois soup.

I was a newly minted Clintonista lawyer and political operative, fresh off the 1994 GOP landslide, during which I worked for the Ohio Democratic Party coordinating the East side of Cuyahoga County for soon to be destroyed US Senate candidate Joel Hyatt, and catastrophic Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rob Burch (who got 27%). Adrift like all my fellow former campaign staff, I road tripped to DC to network into a gig, any gig. Hundreds of Democratic Congressional staff were about to be unemployed; not the best market to be job hunting that November.

Thus, I found my way into my first astroturf campaign for the vampire squid. Always ready to exploit labor, the GATT lobbying effort needed “volunteers” to schedule the most powerful lobbyists in DC into Senators’ offices; my neo-Marxist leanings now would spit at such an “opportunity” with contempt. In November, 1994, I was eager to get business cards and hand my resume out to the titans of industry who came and went thru the windowless conference room on Capitol Hill, desperate to squeeze one last lame duck vote out of a Democratic congress which by then had completely surrendered to Washington Consensus neoliberal free market fundamentalism. Repeal of Glass Stegall was still 5 years away.

ClintonTradePolicyMemeI look back now at this bumper sticker exactly how I look back at my work with new Labour in London during the first election for London mayor in 2000, and feel nothing but a fool. After the GATT vote succeeded, I did network into another “gig”; another volunteer “opportunity” interning at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Even met some folks who today are on TV at MSNBC, like Lawrence O’Donnell, who at the time was chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee. For a few months, I felt engaged, self-actualized, worth something. I was even proud of my work on the GATT vote, putting it at the top of my resume. Never saw a single nickel out of any of it.

Take a look around today and see what GATT and its fellow Clinton Free Trade Con Jobs have done to this country, to Ohio alone. A lot of us bought it, hook line and sinker. I’m not sure there ever has been a con job more spectacular, with more proof that it was a con, than the notion that “free trade” agreements like GATT do anything but rig the game for the top 1%, in perpetuity.

The rising tide never rose, and never will.

Never lifted all our boats, and never will.

Just bought a bunch of yachts for billionaires who don’t pay taxes.

And in 1994, I volunteered to help make it happen. No zeal like that of the recently converted.

The presidential primary in Ohio this March 15 is one of the first real chances for Democratic Party voters to turn the corner on this con; visibly, definitively, and with consequence.

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Bernie Sanders opens CSU office today in the belly of the exploitative beast

ClevelandStaterBerkmanHouseOne does not simply un-Feel The Bern. Your eyes start to see exploitation all around you, all day, every day; exploitation that’s always been there, now visible in stark relief. As the Bernie Sanders campaign opens an office today across the street from Cleveland State University, ahead of Ohio’s March 15 primary, the event will be surrounded by a stinking exploitation so foul, it’s boiling over.

Like so many Vikings, I fought like hell to become a masters student in international relations at CSU. I learned last year this degree includes the grotesque practice of charging students tuition for the required privilege of working for free. And now we’re learning that’s the tip of the Dickensian iceberg.

CSU President Ronald Berkman, fresh off last year’s revelation that he flies private jets the 150 miles between Cleveland & Columbus, now wants CSU to pay for his new house. His third. The $1.2 million mansion in Shaker Hts. just wouldn’t do for a newly single divorcee, so CSU ponied up for a pimp pad downtown at The 9, the better for Berkman to bachelor with.

Alas, the bachelor pad was too small for all the glitterati that simply must be wined, dined. Maybe that’s why we are so exploited at CSU; our poor board was cramped at Berkman’s pad while deciding to tie unpaid intern labor to credit hour requirements.

One wonders which CSU board member felt so cramped while being entertained at Berkman’s bachelor pad they were moved to hit the real estate listings. Hey Napier, is that your foot under the table? Personal space alert! Was it Bob Rawson, Berkman’s former Shaker Hts. neighbor, Jones Day King of The Universe longing for the plush lawns of The Heights to mingle his toes in while sipping the champagne?  Morty Levin, whose family name festoons half the buildings on campus? Maybe Lord of All He Surveys Dan Moore, who “currently serves as chairman of seven companies, each with its own proprietary edge: Soundwich, Inc.; Team Wendy LLC; Impact Armor Technologies LLC; Sleep Optima LLC; Tennessee Iron Products, LLC; Polyfill, LLC; and NatGasCar, LLC. He serves as director of Park-Ohio Holdings Corp (NASDAQ), Cleveland, Ohio, and Invacare Corporation (NYSE), Elyria, Ohio.”

An online petition is circulating to protest Berkman’s housing service. Some of the comments…

I’m STILL paying on loans for a Masters degree to be a teacher making $33K/year, barely getting by in my little home with interest to pay and THIS guy gets a free home, HELL NO!

FYI, Ronald Berkman makes almost $600K including bonuses, enough to buy a lavish home in the CLE market with CASH on one year salary. Why is CSU shelling out more $$ for his housing allowance?

hey mr. President, want to help me with my rent?

Our university has been hijacked by corporatists whose soul ambition is profit. Their ponzi-scheme style administration will no longer be tolerated and we, the students and faculty need to actively stand up and resist.

I can’t really think of a place more ripe to Feel The Bern than across the street from CSU. The office opening is today from 5-7pm. I have a class at 6; might be late for it.

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