Month: May 2017

Three Mile Island Nuke Plant Closure Strengthens Call for Renewable Energy Future

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by Harvey Wasserman

Tuesday’s announcement that the Three Mile Island Unit One nuclear plant will close unless it gets massive subsidies has vastly strengthened the case for a totally renewable energy future.

That future is rising in Buffalo, and comes in the form of Tesla’s massive job-producing solar shingle factory which will create hundreds of jobs and operate for decades to come.

Three Mile Island, by contrast, joins a wave of commercially dead reactors whose owners are begging state legislatures for huge bailouts. Exelon, the nation’s largest nuke owner, recently got nearly $2.5 billion from the Illinois legislature to keep three uncompetitive nukes there on line.

In Ohio, FirstEnergy is begging the legislature for $300 million per year for the money-losing Perry and Davis-Besse reactors, plagued with serious structural problems. That bailout faces an uphill battle in a surprisingly skeptical legislature. FirstEnergy is at the brink of bankruptcy, and says it will sell the reactors anyway.

To make matters worse, Ohio lawmakers have imposed unique spacing restrictions on the state’s wind industry, blocking at least $1.6 billion in investments poised to build eight wind farms now waiting in the wings. Those turbine developments would go far in providing jobs to those who will inevitably lose them at FirstEnergy’s uncompetitive nukes.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants a staggering $7.6 billion for four uncompetitive upstate reactors. That bailout is being challenged in court by environmental groups and by industrial players angry about unfair competition and soaring rates. Their owners concede these old nukes can’t compete with renewables or gas, and have wanted to shut most or all of them.

Now, Three Mile Island’s owners say without millions more in handouts from Pennsylvania rate payers, the reactor will close in 2019. A battle over the handout will be upcoming in the Pennsylvania legislature. Ironically, the Quad Cities plant in Illinois, which is in line for huge subsidies, could not compete with gas or renewables at a recent power auction, and may have to shut despite the handouts.

Meanwhile, coming on line this year, Tesla’s Buffalo Billion gigafactory has the power to transform our entire national economy.  It’s the core of a plan to fulfill America’s direst needs—a reliable supply of safe, cheap energy, and a base of good long-term employment for the nation’s battered working class.

Costing about $750 million, it will bang out solar roofing shingles by the end of this year. It will directly create at least 500 high-paying, clean, safe jobs that will last for decades and turn our energy economy green. Another 1,440 jobs are slated to come from spin-offs. Still more will be created by lowered electric rates and increased clean energy production.

The Buffalo factory joins Tesla’s new plant outside Sparks, Nevada—housed in the biggest building in the world—now producing a new generation of batteries. They will bridge the green energy gap when “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”

These two job-producing powerhouses are at the core of the Solartopian revolution. Solar panels, solar shingles, wind turbines, high-efficiency LED lighting and advanced batteries are key to our global survival and prosperity. Along with the hardware needed for tidal energy, ocean thermal, geothermal, advanced conservation and other renewable industries, giga-factories producing these technologies will be the engine for the 21st century economy.

If Gov. Cuomo’s $7.6 billion bailout ask went instead to build seven gigafactories like the Buffalo Billion, New York would gain thousands of jobs directly and thousands more through the industry powered by lower electric rates. They would be safe, secure, clean, good-paying jobs that could transform the state’s energy and employment situation.

Cuomo’s bailout plan, however, would raise rates on New Yorkers far outside their upstate service area. That even includes Long Island—hundreds of miles away—whose angry citizens rose up decades ago to kill the infamous failed $7 billion Shoreham reactor, which Cuomo’s father Mario helped bury when he was governor.

Ferocious opposition to this bailout has arisen throughout New York. A critical court case will open on June 5. Support for this litigation can be sent to Rockland Environmental Group, LLC 75 North Middletown Road, Nanuet, NY 10954.

New developments at Sempra and other major electric utilities now make it possible for renewables to sustain a central grid 100 percent of the time, without the fluctuations critics claim make a green-powered future difficult to achieve.

So we can bail out Three Mile Island, Perry, Davis-Besse and a rising tide of our 99 obsolete, dangerously decayed atomic dinosaurs at a cost of untold billions? Do we want to escalate the risk of reactor disasters, create tons more radioactive wastes and temporarily preserve a few thousand dead-end jobs?

Or do we want to bang out these Buffalo Billion plants and join Germany, Switzerland, India and other major nations soaring to a Solartopian future.

Is there really a choice?

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Three Mile Island Nuke Plant Closure Strengthens Call for Renewable Energy Future by Harvey Wasserman was originally posted at EcoWatch

 

Open Letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos About Ohio’s Dead Nukes

by Harvey Wasserman

(originally published at The Progressive on May 22, 2017)

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The Perry nuclear power plant east of Cleveland is owned by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy that is today worth less than its combined long-term debt. First Energy is searching for new ways to subsidize nuclear plants because atomic energy, once “too cheap to meter,” is often now more expensive than power generated via other means.

Dear Mr. Bezos,

You have recently received some radioactive junk mail promoting the idea that your company, Amazon, should financially support Perry and Davis-Besse, the two financially dead atomic reactors in northern Ohio. It was a letter from “pro-nuke environmentalists,” the ultimate oxymoron in a world moving toward safe renewables, a transition embraced by your company’s wise commitment to go 100 percent renewable.

The nuclear advocates want you and your high-tech cohorts at Google, Apple, and Tesla to buy reactor-generated electricity at above-market prices so uninsured, competitively dead reactors at Perry and Davis-Besse can still dangerously operate.

Asking you to subsidize nukes is like asking you to bet your company on rotary dial telephones and new landline networks; to build more Edsels, Corvairs, and Pintos; to embrace thalidomide for pregnant women; to mass-produce buggy whips; and to convert your Internet business to a stand-alone fleet of small brick-and-mortar five and dimes.

As a long-time Ohioan, I’ve watched our “mistakes-by-the-lake” nuclear power plants spew unmitigated financial, ecological, and safety disaster. They’ve crippled Ohio’s economy and now could totally bury it.

Their owner, FirstEnergy, is on the brink of bankruptcy. In an obscene 1999 campaign, the company’s ancestors hustled Ohio legislators and regulators for a $9 billion bailout so these even-then-obsolete reactors could “compete” in a deregulated market. Now FirstEnergy wants another $300 million per year to subsidize nukes that still can’t compete with wind, solar, or gas.

The nuclear industry whines about renewables subsidies but hides its own, including public liability for reactors that can’t get private coverage. The public—including you and Amazon—will pay for the next reactor disaster.

Meanwhile, Germany (with the world’s fourth-largest economy) enjoys an “energiewende” that’s shutting all its nukes and converting to renewables. By leaping into the Solartopian Revolution, Germany is moving rapidly toward a stabilized energy supply based entirely on sustainable, Earth-based sources. So will Amazon as it converts to 100 percent actual renewables while totally avoiding any involvement with nuke power.

Switzerland has just voted to go a parallel route, with a referendum confirming its transition to a post-nuclear, 100 percent renewable economy.

California (with the world’s sixth-largest economy) is shutting its last two nukes at Diablo Canyon. State, utility, union, and actual environmental negotiators agreed to a “retain and retrain” program for plant workers and support for communities losing tax revenues. Many of us want Diablo to shut NOW, but all green advocates agree 100 percent of its output can be replaced with renewables.

The same is true for the Perry and Davis-Besse reactors. The winds in Lake Erie are uniquely powerful. Northern Ohio’s flat, breezy terrain hosts a fine transmission network, good access to urban markets, and communities that want the jobs and income turbines can provide. In response, FirstEnergy has worked to stop green energy wherever possible.

Perry was damaged by an earthquake in 1986, prior to its opening. A top-level state commission concluded that the region cannot be evacuated in a nuclear disaster, prompting then-Governor Richard Celeste to withdraw state approval of Perry’s evacuation plans.

Davis-Besse is a Three Mile Island clone infamous worldwide for a boric acid leak that nearly caused Chernobyl/Fukushima-scale devastation to our precious Great Lakes.

Now thirty-nine years old, Davis-Besse’s shield building is crumbling and its innards are embrittled.

The idea that these reactors are “zero-carbon” is fiction. All spew radioactive hot water and steam into the ecosphere. Nuke fuel production emits carbon.

The latest Hanford nuke tunnel collapse, and the 2014 explosion at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project, confirm the impossibility of radwaste management. The price tag for Nevada’s proposed Yucca Mountain dump was estimated at $96 billion in 2008. Based on decades of industry experience, that number could end up being much larger.

Thus the hugely radioactive fuel rods and other radwaste produced at Perry and Davis-Besse are likely to sit on site forever—-certainly long after FirstEnergy disappears into bankruptcy protection.

But if you continue Amazon’s path to 100 percent real renewables, and don’t buy above-market electricity from competitively dead reactors, you’ll do fine.

But if you continue Amazon’s path to 100 percent real renewables, and don’t buy above-market electricity from competitively dead reactors, you’ll do fine.

Good luck on your Solartopian conversion, and No Nukes in Ohio, or anywhere on this Earth.

“““““““““““`

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth is available at www.solartopia.org.

 

Global Hackers and the Russians Have Made Hand-Counted Paper Ballots an Issue of Urgent National Security

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By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Columbus Free Press & Reader Supported News

15 May 17

e have no evidence at this point that the Russians, or global hackers, hacked our electronic voting machines to put Donald Trump in the White House.

But we are 100% certain our electronic voting machines have been hacked by many many others, and could be in the future by virtually anybody with entry-level computing capabilities. As the New York Times and others have reported, cyberattacks have now become an integral part of the modern landscape. A tool stolen from the very National Security Agency meant to protect us has been used to perpetrate more than 75,000 recent hacks—-and those are just the ones being reported.

The evidence that our electronics-based election system is particularly vulnerable to such attacks has long been well-established. It ranges from a wide range of public vote flipping demonstrations to a computing professor using a voting machine to play the University of Michigan fight song.

But, why would you need to hack the machines if you are one of the private, for-profit partisan corporations that secretly program the computerized voting machines and tabulators with secret proprietary software? The lack of transparency with our “black box voting” means that none of our elections are truly verifiable.

In 2016 some 80 percent of America’s ballots were cast and/or counted on such machines and tabulators. Many touchscreen voting machines provide no usable paper trail and render vote counts that cannot be independently verified. Scanners of paper ballots can be rigged to render dishonest counts that go undetected if the ballots are never manually audited.

Though we have no evidence of Russian hacking on our electronic voting machines in 2016, there is no doubt that they or any other hacker with an interest in the outcome could have done so if they wanted to.

Or, the private companies could have simply programmed the results

So that leaves us with one inescapable conclusion: to protect the integrity of our future elections, our entire electoral system must convert to universal hand-counted paper ballots.

It has become an issue of national security.

The entire nation is now in an uproar over Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. We know he was investigating possible Russian involvement in our election. The Russians clearly wanted Trump to win.

During the campaign, Trump very publicly asked the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. The Russians did, in fact, hack the Democratic National Committee, releasing documentation showing the DNC hierarchy worked actively against the nomination of Bernie Sanders.

We don’t yet know what else the Russians actually did or did not do, if anything, to help shape our choice of presidents in 2016.

We know further that someone hacked into the recent French elections on behalf of Marine LePen.

In an electronic era, election theft has now become a matter of a few keystrokes.

Indeed, election theft in the United States is very much a home-grown industry. As we explain in our new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.org) electronic machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. As Bev Harris has shown, they are black boxes that give local election officials virtually unlimited power to shape the outcome however they like.

Thus we document clear instances of electronic vote theft in the 1988 New Hampshire Republican primaries won by George H.W. Bush, and in the general presidential elections won by George W. Bush in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004.

Along the way we have encountered likely electronic hacks in numerous other local, state and federal elections. In Ohio 2006 a series of statewide election reform referenda were defeated with swings of more than 30% from pre-election polls to official outcome, a virtual statistical impossibility. In 2014 and 2016, Republicans claimed six US Senate seats in elections where they lost in the exit polls by significant margins. That six such vote counts would all go in the same direction is also a virtual statistical impossibility.

In 2016, the Electoral College was decided by five states—-Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—-where Trump lost the exit polls but won the official vote count. That all five states would go in the same direction is, once again, a virtual statistical impossibility.

In Michigan, more than 75,000 ballots were counted in heavily Democratic Flint and Detroit metropolitan area without presidential preferences being registered. This presumes that some 75,000 citizens took the trouble to vote (often waiting hours in line) but failed to choose a president. In Wisconsin, electronic anomalies also abounded. In Wisconsin, a suspicious anomaly was uncovered across several voting precincts where the last number in Trump and Clinton’s vote totals appeared not to be randomly distributed in regards to zeros and fives. In these precincts, over half of Trump and Clinton’s total numbers ended with a zero or a five.

Meanwhile, countless black, Hispanic, Asia-American, Muslim and other non-millionaire citizens were stripped from registration rolls by some 29 GOP secretaries of state. As shown in Greg Palast’s “Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” the far-right secretary of state from Kansas, Kris Kobach, spread the Crosscheck program around the country with the clear intent to strip as many likely Democrats from the voter rolls as possible. Trump has just appointed Kobach to head his special commission on voter fraud, aimed at “proving” that millions of illegal voters cost Trump a majority in the popular vote.

Additional mass disenfranchisement has been done throughout the US through demands for photo ID, short-changing of precincts and voting machines, deliberate misinformation and much more.

There is little doubt that between stripping the voter rolls and flipping the electronic vote count, our electoral system is in shambles. The Russians are clearly NOT at the root of the problem. Election theft can be and has been repeatedly perpetrated right here, by Americans.

But the Russians could have done so. In coming elections, they, other foreign powers and a veritable army of domestic hackers can deliver pretty much whatever outcome they want.

Our private voting machine companies like ES&S and the now-defunct Diebold have long had this power.

The solution is obvious: we must secure our voting system entirely off-line. with outcomes that can be certified in real time, by real people. We need universal automatic voter registration; a four-day natonal holiday for voting; universal hand-counted paper ballots; an end to gerrymandering and the Electoral College; and a ban on corporate campaign spending.

As we now know from this past presidential election, whether flipped by the Russians or not, it has become an issue of national security…and the future of our democracy.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-written seven books on election integrity, including the new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.org).

Tunnel Collapse at Hanford Nuclear Dump—Harbinger of the Collapse of the Entire Industry?

by Harvey Wasserman

Originally published at The Progressive on May 10, 2017

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The collapse of a tunnel at the massive nuclear waste dump at Hanford,

Washington, 200 miles east of Seattle, has sent shock waves through a nuclear power industry already in the process of a global collapse.

Hundreds of workers were told to “take cover,” and to refrain from eating or drinking anything while in the area. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, “everyone has been accounted for and there is no initial indication of any worker exposure or an airborne radiological release.” But Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists emphasized that “collapse of the earth covering the tunnels could lead to a considerable radiological release….this a potentially serious event.”

Robert Alvarez, a former DOE official, told the Post in an email that “the tunnels now store contaminated train cars and a considerable amount of highly radioactive, ignitable wastes including possible organic vapors.” Inspection of the tunnels has not been possible, he said, because radiation levels are too high.

We may never know the full extent of the damage from this latest incident at Hanford, which has been plagued by serious problems for years. Many critical nuclear industry oversight positions remain unfilled by the Trump Administration.

The 580-square-mile Hanford facility dates back to the 1940s production of the first atomic bombs, and is the nation’s major repository for high-level radioactive wastes from seven decades of nuclear weapons production. Since 1989, the Department of Energy has spent billions cleaning up nine reactors and other radioactive facilities there. One commercial reactor, the Columbia Generating Station, still operates at Hanford.

The tunnel collapse happens at a time when the nuclear power industry appears to be in an accelerating death spiral.

Two reactors under construction at Vogtle, Georgia, may be on the brink of cancellation. Some $13 billion in cost overruns sparked a Westinghouse bankruptcy, and primary owner Southern Company is looking for billions more to finish a project already years behind schedule and billions over budget. Huge rate increases within Georgia have seriously poisoned the climate for more state money.

Southern representatives recently asked the White House for help, (and termed the response “A-Plus”). But Vogtle was begun with some $8.35 billion in guaranteed federal loans from Barack Obama. Whether the feds will shell out another $4.3 billion is another story, as is the question of whether that would actually be enough to do the job, and how long it would really take.

In neighboring South Carolina, SCANA Corp. may pull the plug on its massive double-reactor V.C. Summer project, which is also billions over budget and a contributor to the Westinghouse bankruptcy. Should both Summer and Vogtle go down, there will be zero new reactors under construction in the U.S. for the first time since the 1950s. It would mark the definitive end of the “Peaceful Atom” as a source of future new large-scale power capacity in the United States.

Some atomic devotees are pushing small-scale “modular” reactors as a possible future energy source. But they’re untested, underfinanced, uncompetitive and unlikely to come to fruition.

Ninety-nine reactors remain licensed to operate in the United States. They average well over thirty years of age. Most cannot compete with fracked gas or renewables, and would close rapidly in a free-market situation. Last year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo intervened to save four upstate reactors with $7.6 billion in subsidized rates. A similar bailout is underway in Illinois.

Throughout the United States, reactor owners are now flooding state legislatures with bailout scams. In Ohio, FirstEnergy’s pleadings for $4.5 billion for Davis-Besse near Toledo and Perry near Cleveland are meeting stiff resistance. How long the nation’s operable reactors stay open will depend entirely on how much money their owners can gouge out of the public.

Meanwhile the Hanford tunnel collapse further challenges the industry’s credibility on dealing with radioactive waste. Three years ago America’s only major operable facility for the permanent disposal of plutonium contaminated nuclear weapons waste, at Carlsbad, New Mexico,  failed because of an underground explosion that forced plutonium into the accessible environment. Some twenty-two workers tested positive for internal radioactive contamination and the facility was shut for three years. Fierce debate has erupted over the disposal of wastes left behind by the shutdown of California’s San Onofre reactors, between Los Angeles and San Diego, with billions of dollars at stake. Other such fights are sure to escalate as more reactors close.

Industry advocates claim much of this could be solved by opening a national waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, a project nixed by the Obama Administration. The Trump budget proposes some $120 million to start a Yucca revival process. But $12 billion has already been spent on what amounts to a tunnel through a dormant volcano in the middle of the desert. Estimates to finish Yucca run to $96 billion and beyond. Finish times stretch to a decade or more.

Nuclear energy faces a seriously clouded future.

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Written by Harvey Wasserman

Edited by Myla Reson

 

Bill Maher & the Corporate Democrats Need to Stop Scapegoating the Grassroots Resistance

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by Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis

 

Corporate Democrats and liberal commentators love to scapegoat the activist left for their catastrophic failures.  The blame game just fell to a new low with Bill Maher’s latest attack on Jill Stein.

Like Hillary branding Trump supporters as “deplorables,” Bill tells American grassroots activists to “go f*** yourselves with a locally grown organic cucumber.”

Hillary says she was “on her way to victory” when FBI Director James Comey and “the Russians” intervened.  Maher and others say Stein caused her defeat, as they blamed Ralph Nader for George W. Bush in 2000.

Hillary now pledges to “resist” Trump Fascism.  Maher and other liberal pundits have been relentless in their attacks on him.

And the rest of us struggle with the keys to nonviolent resistance in the Dark Age now upon us.

But one thing is clear:  what won’t work is another 16 years of liberals like Maher scapegoating left activists without facing the basic realities of where Trump came from:

  • Like Al Gore in 2000, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.
  • Counting 2004, which was stolen from John Kerry in Ohio, the Democrats have won every presidential election since 1992
  •  Gore and the Democrats have had 16 years to fight the Electoral College, a racist anachronism designed to enhance the power of slaveowners.
  •  The EC has put six popular vote losers in the White House, nearly 15% of our presidents.
  •  Rather than work to end the EC and win electoral reform, liberal bloviators and corporate Democrats have spent 16 years whining about Nader, one of America’s greatest activists.
  •  Had they instead abolished the EC, Trump would not be president.
  •  With the Electoral College in place, still more candidates who lose the popular vote will win the White House.
  •  Had Nader NOT run in 2000, George W. Bush still would have become president.
  • Had Stein NOT run in 2016, Donald Trump still would have become president.
  •  In Florida 2000, Gov. Jeb Bush used the Jim Crow ChoicePoint program (as reported by Greg Palast) to strip more than 90,000 black and Hispanic voters from registration rolls in a tally allegedly decided by 537 votes.
  • In Ohio 2004, Jim Crow GOP election boards stripped more than 300,000 primarily urban black voters from registration rolls in a tally decided by 118,775.
  •  In 2016 nationwide, 29 GOP Secretaries of State used the Jim Crow CrossCheck program (as reported in Greg’s “Best Democracy Money Can Buy”) to strip countless thousands of black and Hispanic voters from registration rolls in states that decided the Electoral College.
  • In Florida 2000, electronic flipping in Volusia and Brevard Counties (as reported by Bev Harris) allowing Fox “reporter” John Ellis (a Bush cousin) to flip the network narrative from a Gore to a Bush victory.
  • In Ohio 2004, between 12:20 and 2am election night, a “glitch” in the state’s computerized vote count (as run under a no-bid contract by a Bush family operative in a Chattanooga bank basement) was used as cover to flip a 4.2% Kerry victory to a 2.4% Bush victory, giving Bush a second term.
  •  Nationwide in 2016, electronic “irregularities” continually flipped Clinton exit poll victories to Trump official victories, including Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which gave Trump the Electoral College and the presidency.
  •  As in New Mexico 2004 and elsewhere in both 2004 and 2016, thousands of ballots in heavily Democratic areas were allegedly missing a presidential preference, including some 75,395 in Michigan, which was decided by less than 11,000

All this and more fits a clear historic pattern which we outline in our new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS.

Clinton Democrats and liberal pundits like Maher call this “conspiracy theory.”  They refuse to deal with either the stripping of voter rolls or the flipping of electronic vote counts.  Instead they attack grassroots activists who do.

Jill Stein, for example, attempted recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.  She fought corrupt officials in all three states (Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor) and hit nothing but brick walls.

Clinton sent “legal observers” but no financial or other meaningful help.  Liberal pundits continually attacked Jill for her efforts.  Despite the horrors of Trump fascism, the Democrats have said and done nothing about the total fraud that put him in the White House.

Al Gore essentially disappeared immediately after losing 5-4 in the US Supreme Court. So did Kerry and Clinton immediately after their own losses.  Not one of them is working to abolish the Electoral College, or for a reliable election system. But the corporate Democrats and liberal pundits have plenty of energy to scream at the grassroots left.

Of course, in 2008 and 2012, that’s precisely who put Barack Obama in the White House.  We have reported widespread electoral fraud in both years.  But a powerful and diligent grassroots upheaval curbed enough abuses to save Obama from what doomed Gore, Kerry and Clinton.

Obama also used that grassroots energy to build a popular vote margin too big to steal.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders again unleashed that grassroots power.  As an avowed socialist, he inspired millions of precisely the activists a legitimate Democratic Party should have welcomed—-young, committed, energetic, idealistic, ready to work for a social democratic future.

We believe Bernie was the rightful Democratic nominee.  We also believe that had she chosen Bernie for VP,  Hillary could have walked into the White House.

Despite her miserable campaign, locking into the Sandernista movement would have allowed us to thoroughly monitor this election, curb some of the worst abuses and build a grassroots constituency that could have overwhelmed Trump’s fascism and put this country on the road to real social change.

In these dark days we must recall that in the spring of 2016 we enjoyed the HUGEST social democratic movement in a century, with tens of millions of optimistic Americans ready to work and win a bright and fair future.

Instead we face the grim realities of tangible fascism.  It doesn’t help when liberal pundits and corporate Democrats attack the grassroots activists who are on the frontline of the resistance.

The Democrats will stay out of power until they can convince the American public (even us “deplorables”) they can deliver on civil liberties, social justice, ecological sanity, and more.  And that they can construct an electoral system that actually reflects the popular will.

Clinton, Kerry, Gore and the liberal punditocracy must finally deal with how they lost these three presidencies.   And then DO something about it, so it doesn’t happen again.

They could start by demanding universal automatic voter registration; transparent registration rolls immune to Jim Crow stripping by programs like ChoicePoint and Crosscheck;  universal hand-counted paper ballots; a four-day national holiday for voting; an end to gerrymandering, the Electoral College and corporate purchase of campaigns.

They might also THANK rather than scapegoat what was once the Democratic Party’s energetic base, including activists like Nader, Stein, Bernie and the rest of the grassroots movements that form our last and strongest barrier against the harsh realities of Trump Fascism.

————
Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis co-wrote THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www.freepress.org / www.solartopia.,org), where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES appear with HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US and SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. Harvey’s Green Power & Wellness show is at www.prn.fm.

How Trump’s Genocidal Hero Andrew Jackson Might Have “Avoided the Civil War”

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By Harvey Wasserman,  (Originall published by Reader Supported News on May 5, 2017)

 

onald Trump’s latest insane excursion into US history has been to claim that his great hero, Andrew Jackson, might have prevented the Civil War.

Given his racist, genocidal nature, our seventh president could only have done that by giving up slavery in the South, spreading it into the North or giving the Southwest back to Mexico.

Jackson, of course, would never have given up slavery, which was the cause of the war and the core of his fortune.

As a young man, like a cowboy driving cattle, Jackson personally drove slaves to market. He eventually owned more than a hundred of them, and defended America’s “peculiar institution” at every opportunity.

In addition to their authoritarian temperaments, Jackson and Trump share “accomplishments” such as trashing the Constitution, personally profiting from the presidency, and inciting imperial conquest. Jackson did stand for the Union against South Carolina’s threatened secession, but that was about tariffs, not slavery.

Trump rightly says Jackson was “tough.” In 1806, in one of his fourteen duels, Jackson took a bullet an inch from his heart. He then killed his opponent in a manner considered most unchivalrous, and became a social outcast for many years. The bullet stayed in his chest until his own death four decades later.

Jackson was also a pioneer homophobe. As Sen. James Buchanan of Pennsylvania openly lived with his likely lover, Sen. Rufus King of South Carolina, Jackson loudly referred to him as “Aunt Nancy.” (After King died, Buchanan became our only “bachelor president.”)

But mainstream historians have made a hero of “Old Hickory.” Born to dirt poor Irish immigrants who died early, Jackson’s hardscrabble upbringing was the opposite of Trump’s.

Trump inherited millions from his father, who was a Klan sympathizer (or member), a landlord so cruel that the legendary leftie folksinger Woody Guthrie wrote a song denouncing him.

Andrew Jackson pre-dated the Klan, but would’ve killed for an estate like the one Trump inherited. And he did.

As an orphan, Jackson began his military career at age 13. Rising through the ranks as an Indian killer, he conquered the Chickasaw by recruiting their ancient rivals, the Cherokee. Jackson then turned on the Cherokee as if they had been the enemy. His racism was open, lethal, and proud.

With Trump-style “Common Man” rhetoric, Jackson promised to destroy the National Bank. He then made insider deals with the smaller banks that replaced it, enriching his backers and himself. These and other scams helped buy him his 1000-acre slave plantation in Tennessee.

When he conquered native land for the US, Jackson and his cronies somehow wound up with the best parcels. His 1830 Indian Removal Act ordered all eastern tribes to move west of the Mississippi.

The Appalachian Cherokee had an advanced tribal government, an elected leader (John Ross), a capitol, a written constitution, and much more. Most lived in private homes and ran successful farms. Some (like Ross) owned plantations and slaves. There were seven Cherokee lumber mills.

The Cherokee petitioned for statehood. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Constitution allowed no new state to be created from existing ones (Abraham Lincoln dodged that technicality in 1863 to form West Virginia).

But Marshall also ruled that the Cherokee had sovereignty (a clause later used to site casinos) and a Constitutional right to stay on their ancestral lands.

Jackson replied, Trump-style, that he would ignore the Court. Under Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren, federal troops forced some 14,000 Cherokee out of their homes at gunpoint. Through the summer of 1838 they were held in a concentration camp. Then, along the infamous “Trail of Tears,” they were marched hundreds of miles to Oklahoma. About 3,000 died along the way.

Jackson promised the Cherokee and other tribes the right to live in that Oklahoma territory “as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow.” Fifty years later their “excess land” was given to white “Sooners” who raced in on horseback and covered wagons to claim homesteads.

As for the Civil War, its root cause was conflict over Mexican land. Mexico abolished slavery in its 1821 revolution against Spain. But American settlers (many from Tennessee) re-established it in 1836, when (after the Alamo) they made Texas an independent republic.

Jackson died in 1845. The next year his protégé, James K. Polk, provoked a war and took from Mexico what became New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and more. US troops marched all the way into Mexico City, where young soldiers like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant fought side-by-side. Americans like Abraham Lincoln and Henry Thoreau denounced the conquest as a “poison pill.”

The Civil War broke out when slave owners demanded the right to spread slavery into the West. California’s 1850 statehood gave free states a majority in Congress. War erupted in Kansas, where John Brown and other abolitionists battled slave owners for control.

The only way Jackson’s “art of the deal” might have avoided the Civil War was by persuading northerners to embrace slavery, or southerners to give it up. But both regions were committed to expansion, and neither wanted the other’s economic system. When Lincoln said the nation could not exist “half slave and half free,” he was tragically correct.

Of course, war might have been avoided if Jackson’s progeny had given that land back to Mexico, or restored the Carolinas to the Cherokee, or persuaded the southerners that slavery was never going to work in the West anyway. Cotton does not grow in Kansas or the Southwest, and slavery made no economic sense in the desert, corn or wheat fields.

Without the Jacksonian conquest of Mexico, the “immigrants” Trump now attacks would merely be living on their own land. The wall Trump wants to build tracks a border that did not exist before Polk overran what was once both our southern and our western neighbor.

Sorting through his often insane pronouncements about US history, Trump has seemed surprised to discover that Abraham Lincoln was actually his fellow Republican, while Jackson was a Democrat. Each was the first president from his respective party. Both were “men of the people.” But their views on slavery were, literally, at war with each other.

Trump might also note that when he retired from the presidency in 1837, Jackson found a trusted relative had squandered his wealth. Much of what he’d gouged out of slaughtering Indians and whipping slaves was gone.

Since Trump has joined Jackson in using the presidency to enrich himself, he might want to oversee his sons more carefully.

He might also try doing a better job with the economy. As Trump’s hero left office in 1837, his immediate “legacy” featured a major stock market panic followed by four years of depression.

No doubt the Great Historian would loudly blame that on the Democrats … until he realized his hero actually was one.


Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US is here at www.solartopia.org, along with Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth.

 

 

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