Posts tagged - Donald Trump

On Trump and Russia; Putin’s masterpiece

Post card from St. Petersburg

Vladimir Putin has had his sights set on interfering with American democracy since at least his rise to power in late 1999, during which period I opened the National Democratic Institute’s first, and only, short lived office in St. Petersburg. We were there at the invitation of the Yeltsin government to help build capacity of political parties and civic institutions in Russia. Our training seminars focused on local government in St. Petersburg; party building, message delivery, campaign training, fundraising etc. In a developing democracy, such training is standard and welcome. In an authoritarian dictatorship, as Russia became almost overnight in 1999, trained political actors are a direct threat to power.

When Putin took power, NDI’s welcome in St. Pete was revoked rapidly and visibly. Russia’s government immediately stopped being a democracy interested in building such institutions. Thanks to Donald Trump, the gory, salacious details of the attack on NDI in St. Pete are familiar now, and one day may be a movie script I write. But in those 4 months from July to November, 1999, NDI came under sustained, aggressive attack from Russia’s security services (the FSB, formerly KGB), and we were gone by December. The DNC hack, the swarming of the Trump campaign, the legitimization of ethnic nationalist political forces, are all logical extensions of a policy begun since Putin’s rise in 1999.

In a sense, Trump is payback for what NDI (and many other western NGO’s) were doing in Russia and the entire former Warsaw Pact in the 1990’s. Democracy building in former communist states was a hundreds of millions of dollars project by US administrations of both parties, funded by a Congress eager to embed democratic forces at every level of post-soviet societies as a check against the rise of dictators. Putin’s counter attack, of which Trump is the crowning glory, will have been at least as heavily funded, and at least as long planned.

Collapse of The New Deal’s Post World War II Order Gave Putin His Opening

Over the following 18 years, America accelerated its capitalist victory lap over communism, taking precisely the wrong lesson from the Cold War. America won the Cold War with a deliberate mix of socialism and capitalism, not pure capitalism. The West mistakenly assumed we won the Cold War with capitalism alone. Thus, our die was cast. As average Americans continue to believe the late 20th century fiction that capital is always good, and the state always bad, the essential mix of capitalism and socialism is gone now, with the New Deal dismantled by our own hands (especially Bill Clinton’s), the EU nothing more than a green light to capital, and average folks at the mercy of it all.

Let us also not forget; Putin is a trained Marxist. Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, all fulfill a very basic Marxist analysis of white middle class decline (those with the most to lose from the collapse of the New Deal). This gutted white middle class is now on the hunt for anyone to blame other than themselves, a gaze which always falls on minorities. With capital now triumphant and unchained, Western public institutions now lay vulnerable to the same forces which gave rise to both 1920’s style oligarchy and the ethnic nationalism of the Great Depression 1930’s. Marxists know capitalism better than capitalists do, it turns out.

Putin will thus have seen Trump coming from a mile away, since at least the 2012 GOP primary, during which it became clear one of America’s political parties was uniquely vulnerable to an ethnic nationalist. If I were an FSB agent in the US in 2012 pitching to Putin a 4-year operation designed to destabilize half of America’s political system, Trump would be a no brainer; just as training the West’s Russia darling Yabloko was to Congress in the 1990’s. Putin will have begun surrounding Trump with unknowing dupes (the comical likes of Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort), elevating them via a series of contracts, payments, VIP treatment, knowing the impact would at the very least poison a GOP descending for at least a decade into ethnic nationalism and fealty to capital.

Now what?

Trump actually winning? Putin cannot believe his luck, although if Putin really does still believe in Marxism, he won’t be that surprised. Public institutions under such sustained attack from the interests of capital, for decades now, are no match for ethnic nationalism. Both capital and racism tear away at the fabric of pluralistic public goods and the pillars that support them, especially voter turnout. Voters predictably disengage from a system which no longer delivers anything except to the interests of capital, leaving democracy an empty field for capital and racism to trample. The risk for Putin was always that Trump would refuse to run.

Compounding Putin’s luck, Trump himself also appears to be an internet addict. Internet addiction is the same as any other clinical addiction; the patient receives a high from the interaction similar to any drug. Each successive high requires more dosage, and the cycle continues. As a 70 year old man suffering internet addiction, Trump is trapped in his own mind. He is impenetrable to the outside world. As a racist’s heir whose fortune was handed to him the day he was born, Trump is particularly vulnerable to internet addiction, or any other addiction. All of which will have been in any FSB personality profile supporting the pitch to Putin years ago.

In all, Trump is Putin’s masterpiece. We in the West are blind to it, because by and large, Western societies still buy the con that we’re all just temporarily embarrassed millionaires, if only the state would just get out of our way. Meanwhile, the white middle class boils with rage that the payoff never comes, and never will. We have unlearned the lessons of the New Deal, while Putin has mastered them.

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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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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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Hillary Clinton begins America’s Brezhnev era

BerniBirdieGoodbyeWoot. Once, Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee would have made me very happy. Now, she’s just another Clinton who bent the rules for herself, got caught, lied about it for a year, and now expects the rest of us to back up his (OOPS SORRY her) arrogant stupidity, for which she will never be punished, unlike the rest of us, who’d be rotting in prison today our lives destroyed.

Loyalty is such a one way street with the Clinton machine. Trust me.

Worse, at least when all us Democrats lied for Bill in the name of “unity” 18 years ago, it was just a blow job we defended. This time, Hillary’s term as Secretary of State was a 4 year long COME ON IN to hackers, who no doubt spread like termites from Chappaqua, even into the DNC. Edward Snowden was small potatoes compared to Hillary. Now that it’s all comin’ back to haunt her, whole lotta schadenfreude in that karma.

That’s before you get to ideology. Hillary began America’s Brezhnev Era this week in Philadelphia, complete with corpulent rigged apparatchiks gloating at their victims on live national television while being fellated by a pliant media drooling to sweeten their beats. All in between Cialis ads, veterans begging ads, Pete Peterson’s debt con job ads, and as always the finely spun tapestry of ads for oil, oil, oil. I’m an Energy Voter! America’s beggar prostration before the market dwarfs Brezhnev’s soviet propaganda, because we all buy it hook, line, sinker. (See Gramsci.)

Or at least we all used to.

The idea keeping the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact afloat hadn’t yet begun to die when Lenoid Brezhnev became leader of the USSR in 1964. By Brezhnev’s death in 1982, the Soviet idea was dead, too. Call it what you will; communism, pure or otherwise, or some nationalistic bootstrapping thereof, the idea keeping the Soviet bloc alive was rotting from within as Brezhnev aged. The peoples over which Soviet dictatorship ruled had long begun ridiculing their lot in life, resigned to a futureless grinding descent into total poverty. Once Gorbachev began admitting the idea’s death with perestroika and glasnost in 1986, the clock began to tick on collapse.

Brezhnev’s USSR is where America is today ideologically, as Hillary Clinton claims her nomination to be president, which, thanks to Hillary’s aforementioned stupidity, is now documented as rigged from the very start. Capital rigging politics is the intended end result of neoliberalism, birthed in a 1930’s right wing corporate funded rejection of FDR’s New Deal. Neoliberalism as an idea was so absurd at the time it was ridiculed (Steadman Jones, p. 136), spending decades nursing on global capital until the Thatcher Reagan moment raised the idea to a commanding transatlantic height not even Friedrich Hayek, neoliberalism’s 1930’s originator could imagine. Democrats surrendered by 1992, Bill Clinton embedding neoliberalism into the Democratic Party so thoroughly, not only is the Democratic party itself enslaved to capital, the state Hillary Clinton seeks to lead is now shackled by capital. Scholars call it the “fiscal straight jacket”, a state incapable of governing at all, let alone the market. Neoliberalism’s 21st century victory has unleashed capital beyond Hayek’s wildest dreams.

Now that a massive movement led by 1900 Bernie Sanders delegates this week in Philadelphia has proven the idea of neoliberalism a failure, how long will it take to die?  Depends. Powerful, but failed ideas die slowly, leaving behind deep, widespread, generational wreckage. The pigs who feed at its trough become desperate, and cling on quite tightly, lest they slip into their own idea’s gaping black hole and never get out; like their serfs did. Like the rest of us did.

I’ll probably not even vote this year, the first time in my entire life. Whether the next president is another Clinton or Donald Trump frankly doesn’t matter to me. The idea that gave rise to both hideous caricatures has begun its slow, certain, death throes. Maybe another Berdie will give us hope to get up, torpedoes be damned, and try to finish this thing off. Maybe I’ll just wait it out.

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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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Hillary Clinton’s “single issue” is the force behind both Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders

MoneyMouthOccupyAt the height of Occupy back in 2011, a friend and I stood in Cleveland’s Public Square marvelling that Americans would ever care so much about campaign finance, which is what the OWS message boiled down to. It is morally wrong in a democracy for the richest 1% to purchase the power to lord over the 99%. To Hillary Clinton, this is a “single issue”, and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is only about that “single issue”.

The problem is Donald Trump is blowing the Republican Party to smithereens based on that exact same “single issue”. Trump’s appeal has two core sources, the most obvious being thinly veiled racism, which is why I could never support Trump absent an about face. But Trump’s stronger appeal is the self-funding of his campaign. Voters convinced the economy is rigged against them by a corrupt system of campaign finance value both Trump’s experience within that rigged system, and his refusal to participate in that system while running for president.

Bernie Sanders’ strongest appeal is precisely the same as Trump’s. Bernie isn’t self-funding, he’s crowd funding, at $27 a pop. The effect, however, is the same – two campaigns (at the moment) totally free of the cancerous influence of big money in politics. To voters seeking revolutionary change in American government, campaign finance isn’t a “single issue”, it is how EVERY issue gets rigged against them. So important, voters will ignore all else, including a ridiculously racist fantasy about a wall, or a label like “democratic socialist”.

Unsurprisingly, no one in our landed punditocracy sees the funding similiarities between Trump and Bernie. When the biggest advertisers for the last 30 years on television news are fossil fuels, banks, pharmaceuticals, the military industrial complex, AND the superpacs rigging this system, pundits on the air aren’t just blind, they’re paid to be blind. Voters know that, too.

Last summer, I thought Donald Trump won the nomination when he said, in the first debate, he paid Hillary Clinton to be at his wedding, and she “had no choice” but to attend. Bernie Sanders needs to find that clarity if he’s going to prevail over the same rigged game Trump has just vanquished with his win in South Carolina.

Losing Nevada yesterday is another reminder how tough this fight will be…not only is the GOP more ripe for the picking than the Democratic Party’s bloated establishment, Bernie didn’t have a 30 year head start like Trump, nor a “small loan of $1 million” from his pappy, nor is he a billionaire who himself has rigged the game for his own personal benefit his entire life, like Trump. Trump’s self-funding has a flip, negative side, too. Bernie would do well to run against that, right now, as follows.

TrumpPumpAndDump

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