Maybe Donald Trump really is a Clinton plant


During the Cleveland Leader’s board meeting to watch the first GOP debate this summer, after Donald Trump’s first dustup that night, I declared to the gathered assembly of CLE gillterati that Trump was the nominee. Predicted it in a series of tweets and texts. Months later, I stand by the prediction. Trump is the GOP nominee for 2016. Bank on it.

How? Well, it’s getting harder to deny that Bill Clinton planted Trump into the GOP primary to destroy the GOP from the inside out. James Carville himself couldn’t conjure a more masterful inside job. Trump is pulling the sheepskin off the wolf evey single day, and using the GOP’s own base to do it. It’s a dream come true for Democrats.

First, Trump played the game with the base. More accurately, he played the base. Trump knows that Rick Perry did not disappear in 2011 because he said “oops” on national TV. Perry faded in 2011 the minute he sounded humane about immigrants, over in-state tuition. Mitt Romney was not about to be flanked on the right on immigration, so he never faded in the primary. All those pundits scratching their heads at Trump know this too, they just refuse to believe that someone running for president would so blatanlty, racially, hideously upsell a bill of goods about a wall.

Trump’s immigration/refugee ugliness is all a schtick, clumsily obvious at this point.  The Paris attacks opened the door wide for more puffery, more race baiting, more Pavlovian bells ring on. Like they always get played, the base runs toward the bait and switch two step which the base is more enraged about than anything. Trump is selling them what they want, but which Trump knows they will never get. A wall. Eleven million deportations. Never gonna happen, but Trump’s sellin’ it anyway.

The Tea Party knows this grift well, at the receiving end of endless email list gathering scams, waving red meat catnip in front of vulnerable, angry, victims of the rigged game, for cash. Before immigrants, it was about the gays. Before the gays, it was (and always remains) about the blacks. Lee Atwater lives on in the consultant class scam that milks your grandparents’ retirement accounts every single day, enriching themselves by preying on the worst instincts of our loved ones, instead of leading away from those instincts. It’s a cash cow. There’s a reason Ann Coulter’s 2015 book was on immigration. Cash money, holmes. There’s still a nickel in Uncle Bob’s debit card that Coulter wants her hands on. Can’t leave anything on the table.

Politically, it doesn’t work, unless you’re stinking rich. Lowest common denominator scams solidify the base, true, but polarize the government. That’s the point of the Republican Party – paralyze government, blame the vulnerable, so money continues to flow upward toward the powerful.

The ONLY way Trump is not a Clinton plant – and the ONLY way Trump wins the White House – is if he about faces on this ugliness as soon as he locks up the nomination. Leadership is taking people where they would otherwise not go. Trump needs to take the GOP base to the acceptance that there won’t be a wall, or a door, we already have a door, and it looks like this.


I don’t care how gorgeous Trump’s buildings are, you ain’t beatin’ that, Donald.

Trump’s credibility as a businessman gives Trump the wiggle room to tell his base exactly what he did; he sold them a bill of goods, just to get their political support. Trump’s voters know they got played this way, they just don’t want to admit it. Trump is just the guy to teach them this lesson.

Does Trump have the guts? Maybe. He’s a ball buster, the perfect guy to Sister Souljah all over ’em. Nothing enrages the Tea Party more than being sold a bill of goods, watching people get rich off it, who then sell them out. Trump doesn’t have to play that game for long. Sometime after he locks up the delegates, displaying such honesty will not only help Trump, it would help the country.

I don’t think Trump will lose a single voter if he does this right, to the contrary, it’s the only way he becomes president. If Trump’s a Clinton plant, he doesn’t really wanna be president anyway.

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The grotesque practice of charging students tuition for unpaid internships


UPDATE: Bernie Sanders will be on campus at CSU on Monday, Nov. 16.

Like many Vikings, returning to Cleveland State University after graduating in 1989 was not in my plans, but I arrived on campus last year (after a fight) as a student in the Master of Arts in Global Interaction (MAGI) program with fond memories. My fondest is work as an intern for Dennis Kucinich’s quixotic primary campaign against Mary Rose Oakar in 1988 via the campaign politics course, an elective. The professor rounded up political campaigns to pitch themselves to us students, and we each chose who to work for. Dennis had little money, and would end up with only 25% to Mary Rose’s 75%, which meant an unpaid intern got heavy exposure and responsibility at every level of the underfunded, understaffed campaign. I learned most of what I know about politics from Dennis that incredible spring.

Today, 27 years later, like just about everything in capitalism’s 21st century nirvana, the economics of internships have been totally reversed at CSU. In many CSU programs now, an internship is a requirement, not an elective, almost always unpaid, for which students also have to pay tuition, receiving nothing from CSU other than the required “course” credit. Unlike in 1988, for the MAGI internship I spent more than a year searching on my own, without any help from CSU, landing one with a law firm based not on anything related to CSU, but on my law degree from CWRU. When I learned I had to then pay CSU for the privelege, I almost fell over.

I began an effort to understand this policy, by writing every single level of university administration, from the political science department up to the president, asking what in fact was the university policy which justifies charging students tuition for unpaid internships. For the last two months, I’ve asked the same questions over and over. Here are my questions.

– Has the board of trustees ever discussed this practice? If not, why not?
– How much money (millions?) does CSU take from unpaid interns every year?
– Where does that money go?
– Is any of that money spent on career placement? How much? For what?
– Is there any effort for interns required to find international work?


Apparently, there is no policy. The only response I’ve received to my objection to the practice amounted to a group punishment for ALL MAGI students; the political science department merely piled more work onto the student, justifying the “course credit” with a hastily announced requirement for a paper and a grade by faculty. No one from CSU has addressed the tuition requirement, after two months.

Based on my studies in the MAGI program, it is apparent we have a cultural difference here. One culture (university faculty and administration) has never been unemployed in their entire career, sucking down obscene salaries, for God knows what. The president, who takes a private jet the 150 miles between Cleveland and Columbus, “earns” nearly half a million dollars a year. This culture is easily blind to the other culture, CSU students, who attend an urban commuter state university, unlikely their first career choice, piling on debt, many out of desperation, some homeless, most with no income, who are attending university in order, someday, perhaps, with luck, to get paid for work, not the other way around.

If a student has to pay to work, it simply does not pay to work. All the incentives are backwards. CSU ends up teaching students that they are nothing more than a funnel for money financed with federal student loan debt, for someone else’s benefit, and that no matter how hard you work, it will never benefit you.

This 1989 Viking alum proudly says enough is enough. I hope others will join me to advocate the end of this grotesque money grab that would make Ebeneezer Scrooge himself blush with shame. I am happy to discuss the way forward with the CSU administration, and continue to await their response. CSU is a tough student body. Apparently, we need to prove it.

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Issue 3 post mortem – Hillary, you’ve been warned


I covered Responsible Ohio, Ohio Rights Group, and the surrounding marijuana legalization battle for the Cleveland Leader for a year. It got me 5 cease and desist letters, constant personal attacks, and killed the Leader’s website. It was all very much worth it.

With the spectacular collapse of Issue 3 yesterday, losing by 30 points, and the passage of Issue 2, which prevents Ian James from ever shoving his monopoly business model down Ohio’s throats again, the message has been sent that Ohio is waking up to oligarchy. And that message was sent directly to Hillary Clinton’s Ohio staff in 2016, because Issue 3 was stacked top to bottom with them.

Before covering Responsible Ohio for the Leader, I covered the ‘election’ of the new Ohio Democratic Party chair after Chris Redfern was forced to resign. Turns out that was the best possible preparation to cover Issue 3. Responsible Ohio oozed up from the most corrupt stew of ODP insiders I’ve ever seen in my 28 years working in politics. Today’s ODP would make FDR shudder with contempt.

I used to work with these people, very closely, for years, which is why I was able to expose their machinations for the Leader. Watching people like Antoinette Wilson, Brian Hester, Erik Greathouse, Jeremy Bird, Seth Bringaman, Brian Rothenberg, Sandy Theis, Don McTigue, Tony George, and countless other low rent whores happily become oligarchy’s tools was more disappointing than anything else. They aren’t Democrats. Democrats don’t rig the game for capital. But that’s what ODP’s entire consultant class did for the last two years, at least. Over weed. And they produced a result as pathetic as what they produced for Ed FitzGerald. It’s Shakespearean.

Every single one of Issue 3’s top staff will now wait, and beg, for Ted Strickland and Hillary Clinton to hire them for 2016. Depending on how well Bernie Sanders does in the early states, these maggots may even be on ODP’s payroll by the Ohio primary this spring. Did they learn the lesson Issue 3 just taught them? Will they ever? Hillary Clinton as is, as of now, is Issue 3 in a pants suit. Bernie Sanders’ supporters know it. Between now and November 2016, Hillary has ample opportunity to change that. Will she?

As for Ohio’s cannabis community, which today resembles the battlefield at Verdun…perhaps they’ll learn this lesson better than Ohio Democrats. Political change is not a transaction based on money. Stop auctioning off your souls. Bob Dylan didn’t hand the Beatles a joint one fateful night hoping they’d all get rich; art ensued, the world was changed, that very night. Tap into that again, guys. That’s where change happens, not via Alan Mooney’s checkbook.

Despite all the scars I earned in this battle, Ohio made me proud to be a Buckeye last night. One always wonders if voters will ever stop letting capital take whatever it wants, whenever it wants. Yesterday, that flame flickered. Marijuana activists across America now know that legalization is a political issue, not a business issue, and Ohio sent that message, loud and clear. Go Bucks.

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Capital vs. Us. Ohio should vote NO on Issue 3

Tim under a Lenin statue in Kherson, Ukraine, 1999.

Tim under a Lenin statue in Kherson, Ukraine, 1999.

The New Deal compromise between capital and the state is gone now. Whatever power over capital the state won in the New Deal has been taken back, and multiplied. Organized labor is near gone. The infrastructure built by those generations is in tatters. But capital has never been freer, congealing ever more densely unto itself. The state itself is politically impotent, which capitalist theory dictates is the entire point. State bad, capital good. Always.

We are the state, the body politic. Through the New Deal, America created the greatest explosion of hegemonic energy the world has ever known, putting the fire of capitalism into a furnace, harnessing it, creating rock n’ roll, the picket fence, the American Dream. Capital unharnessed will act precisely as is now evident in Ohio, with Issue 3.

When I covered this story for the Cleveland Leader, I must now confess, I never really read the language of Responsible Ohio’s attempt to monopolize marijuana. First, because there was no language yet, as RO oozed out of capital’s dripping maw, first of course in the PD. Responsible Ohio was never about weed, it was about greed.

Issue 3 is about whether or not we, through a self-governed state, can ever stand in the way of capital. The same people, using precisely the same organizational roadmap, bought the state with capital in 2009 to allow themselves a monopoly on casino gambling.  At the time, Ohio was very desperate, just barely surviving capital’s latest predictably regular financial collapse in 2008. Having bought casino law, barely, after repeated attempts, from a desperate electorate, capital now seeks to control the most underutilized yet most productive plant agriculture has ever produced. How is this not predictable?

What is unpredictable is whether the state, by which I mean we, can ever muster enough political will to say no to capital. These are old fights, folks. The day the Wagner Act passed in 1935 giving workers the federal right to organized collective bargaining, its demolition began. Read my paper on one of capital’s most spectacular early victories over the New Deal. We have to look in the mirror and decide whether capitalism unharnessed has any limits at all anymore.

But Issue 3 is, kinda, about weed, and the carnage in Ohio’s legalization community which Responsible Ohio leaves behind are heavy casualties to sustain in a fight against capital. Its not really anyone’s fault. Some misname this as “crony capitalism”, when it’s just capitalism. This is how capitalism is supposed to work. People get destroyed, relationships torn apart, all so only those with the most capital, win. The dynamic RO feasted upon in a divided Ohio legalization community largely still remains, but with minefields everywhere now. The same hustle continues. Choices will again have to be made in this fight.

Self-government is not easy. Fortunately, unlike those earlier brass knuckle brawls with capital our forebears fought to give us the America we walk in today, social media makes it a bit easier to use our voice. So use your voice. Educate voters. Take that risk, it’s worth it.

Vote NO on Issue 3, and tell your friends, too.

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Back to school…again


Fall 2015 books

Today I start fall semester in the second year of the Master of Arts in Global Interaction at Cleveland State. I’ve got a 4.0 GPA, all signs point to keeping it (fingers crossed). I should graduate this coming spring, 2016. Should.

The MAGI program has an internship requirement of 150 hours, which I have spent much of the last year trying to fulfill, to no avail. Internships are hard to come by, especially if you’re overqualified with an ancient criminal conviction. I’ve stopped considering myself special in that regard – most of my classmates have the same difficulty getting anyone to not pay them for work. Cleveland isn’t the most internationally focused city, either, so there’s that.

So what did I do this summer? Since 2004, whenever I have this much time on my hands, I’ve blogged online about politics, and this summer was no exception. Thanks to Eugene McCormick at the Cleveland Leader, I had a pretty big platform to expose the Dickensian filth of marijuana legalization efforts in Ohio. Didn’t take much effort, having been around Ohio politics for so long. I suppose I could try to get all that work approved as my 150 hours, but it’s not really all that international.

If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see my other writing focus this summer was the Labour Party leadership contest. I kinda saw Jeremy Corbyn comin’; not Corbyn himself, but the movement behind him. Few did. The ideological blind spot our landed gentry lives behind couldn’t imagine anything other than Thatcherite “There Is No Alternative” neoliberal free market purism keeping hold of Labour.

I guess my summer was spent watching tectonic plates shift in our politics, delivering us Trump, Sanders, Corbyn. The CSU program is giving me a new perspective on just how ideologically rigged the world has become, even at the highest international levels. Ohio’s marijuana fight in 2015 gave me a grassroots, worm’s eye view of the same rigged game. So even though I never got my internship, I think I learned plenty.

Thanks again to everyone who helped…I promised I won’t let you down, trying as hard as I can to keep that promise. Time to hit the books.

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On to Scotland, Jeremy Corbyn

As of this writing, British Labour Party leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, has yet to visit Scotland in his campaign. Corbyn never wanted to run for leader, so a visit to Scotland was probably not in his plans this summer.

The only reason Corbyn’s even on the ballot is that no one else from the left wing of the Labour Party would stand. Corbyn barely got the required 35 nominations from Members of Parliament (MPs) to be on the ballot, getting there by some MP’s charity, for the sake of “debate”. Corbyn only got that far because a social media storm erupted to get anyone at all from the left onto the ballot.  Corbyn today towers over the contest, with a 32 point lead in the latest poll. Scotland thus beckons.

For it is in Scotland that every Blairite dismissal of Corbyn collapses under its own petulance. None of the attacks on Corbyn, as some bearded sandal wearing leftie dinosaure Trot, ever mention Scotland. That is because Labour is wiped out in Scotland, largely by the same tidal wave of young membership into the Labour Party that will hand Corbyn Labour’s leadership on September 12.

Ideologically, Corbyn’s Labour is Scotland’s Labour. Scotland’s Labour was never Alistair Campbell’s, or Peter Mandelson’s Labour. Or Blair’s. Or even Brown’s.  When Labour abandoned Scotland, to work with the Tories against the Scottish independence referendum, the bankruptcy of neoliberal Blairism was laid bare. Now Labour pays, with only one seat in Scotland, and none of Corbyn’s three opponents has a prayer of bringing Scotland back into the Labour Party.

Let alone the UK. The stakes are high for a Corbyn visit to Scotland this summer.



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Jeremy Corbyn & Labour’s ideological Stockholm syndrome

The first poll of this summer’s Labour leadership election was an earthquake. Turns out Jeremy Corbyn, who never wanted to run for leader in the first place, is about to crush like bugs all three of his Blairite opponents when ballots are mailed out August 16 for leader of the British Labour Party. Shocked isn’t the word to describe the reaction. Tony Blair, Mr. Cool himself, popped a vein, telling anyone who supports Corbyn to “get a heart transplant.” That will of course backfire. Corbyn couldn’t dream of a better supporter giving him a better slogan.

Up and down the landed gentry of Labour’s last 20 years, panic has set in, leading to talk of party splits from fat cat donors, City grandees, lords, and ladies alike. If there’s a split after Corbyn is elected leader in September, it will be the toffs turned out on their own petards by membership, not the other way round, which is how the toffs did it 20 years ago.

The post Kinnock Labour “modernization” project, first via John Smith then Blair, seized the party from its socialist roots for the benefit of capital at the most basic grassroots level, rigging Labour party democracy in every election from constituency party levels all the way to conference every year. It was not pretty. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that neoliberal free market dogma turns out simply not to work, at all, except for the very richest on earth, well….This comeuppance has been a long time coming.

The death throes of New Labour will take some time. Blairism has kept Labour in neoliberal capitalism’s hostage situation so long, at many levels of the Labour Party the prisoner now treats the captor as a father figure. You hear Blairite dead enders talk of the party committing “suicide”, echoing decades old arguments from another epoch, pretending it’s still the Cold War, that somehow socialism will always appear to voters as a Brezhnev corpse draped in hammer and sickle red. Blairite attacks that Corbyn represents the past are always mouthed in the language of the past themselves. Comic.

The future is seizing Labour, not the opposite. There’s no talk of a Labour Party split among members, in particular the tens of thousands of new members, mostly young people, joining Labour specifically to vote for Corbyn. And none of it has to do with Corbyn himself, just as support for Bernie Sanders in America has nothing to do with Bernie. There is an ideological hunger in western democracies to reject neoliberal capitalism and the assumed holiness of the free market, seeking any vessel through which to do so, no matter how stereotypically bearded and grey haired the lefty.

People often ask me why Americans can’t bring themselves to accept that the New Deal compromise between labor and capital has been destroyed by their own hands. “Why do Americans vote against their own interests?” I tell them that Americans don’t like to think they’ve been fooled, certainly not for decades. Americans are very proud capitalists, we do believe this stuff, so it’s hard to accept that capital has used our optimism against us, on purpose, with our assent, like a carnival barker organ grinder winding up a hurdy gurdy monkey. Brits are similarly stubborn.

Labour should seize this moment. There is no political party on earth more prepared and capable of leading the charge against neoliberalism than Labour in Britain. Labour bears the scars of decades of front line hand to hand ideological combat with our free market straight jacket. Labour bought the bait and switch, made all the mistakes. Labour marches. Labour fights. Labour members are the most educated political actors in any western democracy, with broad shoulders, thick coal miner’s fingers, and a fist when clenched that is the strongest force for good in politics, let alone the pub. Corbyn’s election as leader will invigorate Labour with the energy of youth, the power of righteousness, and the freedom which can only come from a full accounting with the mistakes of the past.

Buck up, comrades. From this side of the pond, things look very hopeful indeed.

Tim Russo is one of the first American Democratic Party consultants to work for New Labour in 1997. Now filled with the zeal of the recently converted, he is pursuing a masters in international relations at Cleveland State University, studying Labour’s approach to the City of London this spring.

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Hillary must know you can lose a primary based on trade alone, right?

Today in her first campaign speech for the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton used the word “bargain” in a very deliberate context. Hillary knows the decades of scholarship using the term “bargain” to describe the ideological compromise of the New Deal; the location of her speech is no cheap campaign prop.

New America Foundation president and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter, whose appointment to the Obama administration Hillary herself announced, in 1993 used the ideological bargain terminology to describe the 1944 Bretton Woods System, a Roosevelt project, governing post war international monetary policy and trade.

Repeat. Trade.

According to Slaughter and most other eminent scholars, BWS was a complicated ideological compromise at the global level between American New Deal dynamics and free market, “light touch”, laissez faire neoliberal capitalism.[1] Nation state priorities expressed politically, such  as social welfare and full employment, would co-exist with the interests of money.  Specifically, with the interests of capitalism. BWS created rules, norms, and regimes designed to maximize the benefits of both capital and the state, and minimize the risk that neither state nor capital would repeat their worst known potential – war and collapse.

Hillary knows the New Deal was way more than an alphabet soup in a grainy newsreel, and BWS is arguably its crowning jewel. The BWS monetary order is credited by the same scholarship with creating what Americans uniformly imagine as its nostalgic nirvana – the post war baby boom years, 1945 until the early 1960’s.

The Pax Americana. The white picket fences. Opie. ’57 Chevys. Drive-in movies. Elvis.

You know, Happy Days.

The BWS monetary order created these trade debates based on voluntary participation by nations. BWS gave birth to GATT, which begat the WTO, set in motion the processes that led to NAFTA and PNTR. But Roosevelt’s intent for BWS was to place far more enforcement emphasis on capital controls than on liberalization of trade. Trade negotiations internationally were to be voluntary, based in liberalization and free markets. But capital controls were assumed. Limiting the ability of monetary movements across international borders was a primary lesson of the Greta Depression pre-war years.

That capital control bit is now gone. Nothing controls the movement of capital across international borders. A new compromise between state and capital is long overdue. Yet the zombie undead of trade agreements based on nothing but neoliberal ideological Adam Smith pure capitalist dogma march on. We see the results, which is why Hillary is being pushed leftward.

Hillary’s income inequality references today though seem like window dressing – she certainly understands what’s happening. Knows its theoretical source. Knows the history. Knows what happens when capitalism in its purest form is unleashed at the international level, with no regulation, no taxing powers, no limits on speed of light transfers of titanic amounts. Friday, that march was halted in the U.S., by Congress, incredibly, this Congress, for the first time since, arguably, the BWS compromise in 1944.

Voters are done with the con job of trade agreements. Left and right. White and black. Old, young, Tea Party, Occupy.



Have been since at least 2002, when Ohio Congressman Tom Sawyer was defeated by insurgent primary challenger Tim Ryan based almost solely on Sawyer’s votes for GATT, PNTR, and NAFTA. That long promised lifting tide raising all boats? Voters see the results on their kitchen table.

No tide. No lifting boats. It’s a con. We bought it. We took it for a spin. This thing is a lemon. Woe unto those who try to sell us another one.

Hillary knows there are very deep, ideological and historical reasons for all this. She knows very well how important that TAA vote was on Friday. Without any meaningful control on capitalism, trade agreements based solely in the goal of freeing the Invisible Hand ever further, will merely suck wages ever downward, and income ever upward. All Hillary has to do is ask Mrs. Slaughter.

This is why Hillary’s silence on Friday’s TAA vote in Congress in her first campaign speech is so striking. Hillary surely knows this fight isn’t over, and never really is. The “bargain” Hillary refers to has long been in shreds. I assume Hillary also knows that an incumbent can lose to an unlikely challenger based on nothing else but trade.

I expect she’ll chime in soon.

[1] Burley, Anne-Marie, Regulating the World; Multilateralism, International Law, and the Projection of the New Deal Regulatory State, ed. Ruggie, J., Multilateralism Matters, Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 129.

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Why is Labour going in the opposite direction of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren?


On the eve of the Cultural Revolution in China in 1965, Mao presented an epic “song and dance” number called The East Is Red, an over the top social realism extravaganza, the opening bell of what would become Mao’s final disastrous purge.

Watching the Labour Party after its 2015 defeat is like watching The East Is Red in ideological reverse. Bent over before capital in their summer long struggle session, Labour leadership candidates appear as Mitt Romney confessing his sins against Adam Smith Thought, bad mouthing unions, welfare mothers, immigrants. You know the drill, Fox News style. Like any good Maoist saying, one word will do for Labour this summer – “aspiration”. Let a hundred flowers aspire. The Great Leap of Aspiration.

The game is rigged. Voters know this to their bones, not just in the US, but all over the world. The term “the 1%” governs political debate, even in capital’s promised land, the US. Academics refer to this rigged game as the total triumph by neoliberal free market dogma over the New Deal compromise between labour and capital. Voters describe it with profanity. Collective bargaining has practically disappeared, states have lost the ability to tax their richest citizens, world GDP may now be dwarfed by a mountain of cash kicking its feet up in capital’s perfect nirvana, the untaxed, unseen, unregulated offshore centered in the City of London’s legal remnants of the British Empire. The world has never seen so much capital so free. The nation state is reduced to capital’s ATM.

How rigged? Two Americans responsible for Barack Obama’s presidency worked on opposite sides of the 2015 UK general election, David Axelrod for Labour, Jim Messina for the Tories. They will both cash in on Hillary Clinton. Emphasis on the word “cash”.

The Axlerod-Messina Labour-Tory Two-Step manifests in a growing body of literature proving that capital thus unleashed has eliminated the power of the state to regulate markets, ever further reducing citizen participation in democracy, based on voters’ reasonable conclusion that it does not matter who is elected, from any party, capital will get what it wants. Always.

Interestingly, while the west has shredded the compromise between labor and capital, China’s same compromise, while leaning a bit Stalinist, is taking us all to the cleaners. To western neoliberal high priests of capital, this does not compute. A Marxist state run economy appears immune to the “rules” of capitalism. How can this be? Leaving the market alone is supposed to be an unchallenged law of nature.

Capitalist ideology stands so totally victorious, a movement now exists among economics students to challenge their faculties’ blind, near religious exclusion of anything other than neoliberal free market dogma from their instruction. Perhaps the Chinese compromise between labor and capital works better than no compromise at all, but we can never be allowed to know.

Enter Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Knowing that Hillary Clinton has already benefitted from this rigged game to the point Wall Street has their arms wrapped around her, Democrats who refuse to give up on the New Deal compromise will spend the next year pushing, dragging, begging Hillary Clinton leftward. Sanders and Warren’s call to break up the banks, which even has Republican support, has an equivalent British position, which Labour once advocated as recently as Clement Attlee – abolish the Corporation of the City of London. Can anyone imagine any Labour leadership candidate uttering those words this summer? Not one leadership candidate utters a peep about the City, or Wall Street.

One cannot aspire to anything in a rigged game. Labour has been treating their membership, and through them the voters, like fools for far too long. No one believes a single thing Labour says anymore, on any matter, not in Scotland or the East Midlands. No voter joins a political party of the left to start wars based on lies, or help rig the game for capital. If a political party claiming to be socialist does both, it’s quite plainly nothing more than a vehicle for access to power.

At the grassroots, Labour isn’t fooled anymore. If Labour continues this total farce of a leadership process, the new leader at conference in Brighton in September will look upon an empty shell, precisely what the rigged rules of capital destine a political party conference to be. We Americans know this all too well. My hometown of Cleveland, Ohio will host the Republican Convention in 2016, which no one has mistaken for a political process in decades.

Labour once looked to Bill Clinton, which is how I ended up campaigning in pit villages for three general elections. We Democrats used to see working for Labour as an external validation of our leftiness. About face, comrades, and march back to your roots. Nothing is more aspirational than breaking this rigged game. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are onto something. Regain Labour’s authenticity. The voters, especially in Scotland, will notice. I bet Hillary Clinton notices, too.

Tim Russo is one of the first American Democratic Party consultants to work for New Labour in 1997. Now filled with the zeal of the recently converted, he is pursuing a masters in international relations at Cleveland State University, studying Labour’s approach to the City of London this spring.

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The end of New Labour’s rigged game

On the day Saddam Hussein’s statue came down in 2003, I was at the East Midlands Labour Party HQ in Barratt Lane near Nottingham standing next to then regional secretary, Roy Kennedy, watching it on Sky News. The concern on Roy’s face was evident. So I asked, “What do you think?” Roy said bluntly, in his London Cockney brogue, “They’d better find those weapons, mate.” Roy is now in the House of Lords. There were no WMDs.

I was one of the first Americans to go work for Tony Blair’s New Labour in the UK in 1997, after being Bill Clinton’s 1996 Ohio GOTV State Director. That’s why Labour hired me – for the GOTV expertise. David Axelrod, you’re welcome.

Thus, I was at the very center of the Blair era, for three general election victories, plus Labour’s inaugural campaign for London mayor in 2000, plus a few party conferences. I brought Labour staff to work with me in the former soviet republics training political parties, and brought even more to the US for the Al Gore campaign in 2000. I love and cherish all the friends I made in Tony Blair’s Labour. I even tried to do a documentary film on it all once at party conference in Brighton in 2001; they couldn’t get rid of me.

As the Republican Party (and Hillary Clinton) knows all too well, there has yet to be a fair account and reckoning politically for Iraq, and that includes Tony Blair and New Labour. That is one root of this month’s thrashing at the hands of British voters. That’s not all that Labour must reckon with before voters trust them again with the time of day.

The target of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, today’s rigged game, which has created the first American generation that expects to do worse than the generations before it, was built mostly by New Democrats, and New Labour.  We were the indispensable “progressive” window dressing on capital’s dismantling of the New Deal compromise.

Just look at what Blair’s ballot stuffing “reforms” left behind in the medieval City of London, a rogue state standing atop a mountain of systemic offshore financial risk, utterly uncommented upon by anyone in the Labour Party’s London collection of powerless elected officials, even as they select another candidate for London Mayor in 2016 who is just as silent on the matter, and who upon election will remain without jurisdiction over the Square Mile. I had never realized the role I played rigging that particular game in 2000 until I studied it this semester 15 years later as a student at Cleveland State. No zeal quite like that of the recently converted.

After Labour’s 2015 defeat, a campaign in which no Labour candidate would dare be seen in their presence, we now hear from Blair, Alan Johnson, Peter Mandelson, John Prescott, who, incredibly, argued after the election that Ed Miliband should have campaigned on the banking bailout. This predictable parade of Blairite lords and ladies, at this point indistinguishable from Mitt Romney, lectures us that Labour needs to stay “aspirational”, as if one can aspire to anything in a rigged game. Lord Mandelson is even pimping to be the new leader Chuka Umunna, a City of London “employment” lawyer (read: outsourcing and union busting) straight out of the City’s offshore petri dish. It’s become comical.

Is anyone awake in Britain? Does it not bother me old mates that Jim Messina, late of Barack Obama, now takes credit for electing Tories, and next shall cash in on Hillary Clinton? Are the lights on? There’s a reason Democrats want to push Hillary leftward for a solid two years. No one joins the Democratic Party, or the Labour Party, to start wars based on lies, or rig their country and the world for plutocrats and oligarchs, but turns out that’s exactly what we did. Some of us are in a mood to reverse that course.

Labour members know better. It isn’t 1997 anymore. The days when a Labour staffer could fool a Trot into missing a key policy vote at conference by offering them tea are well over. The blinders are off, voters know to their bones the game is rigged, quite aware of who rigged it, and to those voters, Labour in 2015 stands for nothing other than access to power. No matter how many vapidly facile “pledges” get carved into an Ed Stone, when a party loses trust this badly, voters do not wish to hear how aspirationally sincere a party’s rigged noncredible leadership claims to be.

Labour’s conference is again in Brighton this September. Before deciding on a new leader, Labour needs to hold a broad, inclusive, loud, air-clearing debate at party conference in Brighton, hold itself to account, rebuild credibility from the bottom up, and begin the long struggle of unrigging this game. A party called Labour ought to be counted on for at least that. Across the pond, we could use the help.

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