November 8, 2017
Harvey Wasserman Originally published on October 11, 2017 on TruthDig
The White House (AgnosticPreachersKid / Wikimedia)Amidst the hellish chaos of the Donald Trump catastrophe, it’s more essential than ever to understand how he got into the White House and who put him there. Then we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In her recent blame-everybody-else-while-doing-nothing screed, “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton fingers James Comey, the Russians and Bernie Sanders. But, in fact, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry put this madman in office. This trio of multi-millionaire corporate Democrats won the presidential races of 2000, 2004 and 2016. Then they lay down, said hardly a word and did even less as they let George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump rule the land. All three presidencies were stolen by stripping large numbers of black, Hispanic, Asian-American and young citizens from the voter rolls, and then electronically flipping the vote count. In 2000 and 2016, the thefts were finalized by the Electoral College. Along the way, the United States House, Senate and a thousand state, federal and local offices also have been flipped. The Supreme Court has come along for the ride. The impacts—eight years of George W. Bush and an eternity of Donald Trump—have been somewhere between catastrophic and apocalyptic. We will recover only if we do what the corporate Democrats have not: Face up to how our entire electoral system has been become a sham and then change it. Let’s start with Al Gore and Florida 2000. In 2000, Gore was duly elected president of the United States. He won the popular vote nationwide by more than 500,000 ballots. Later, independent assessments showed he rightfully won Florida, which would have given him a majority in the Electoral College. Officially, Gore lost Florida by 537 votes. In its infamous 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision, the Supreme Court stopped the recount that might have given Gore the presidency. The deciding vote was cast by Clarence Thomas. Gore, as a U.S. senator, had voted to put him on the bench. But then-Gov. Jeb Bush, George’s brother and son of the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, actually prevented the legitimate citizen votes that would have won Gore the presidency. In shifting Florida from Gore to George W. Bush, Jeb Bush used a wide array of strategies perfected by their father at the CIA for overthrowing Third World regimes that American corporate interests deemed inconvenient. Florida 2000 was the logical follow-up. As Greg Palast reported, Jeb used the ChoicePoint computer program to strip some 90,000 mostly black and Hispanic citizens from the voter rolls. As reported by activist Bev Harris, some 20,000 votes were electronically bounced around in Volusia County and elsewhere. At critical points on election night, they kept Bush2’s chances alive. About 50,000 votes were tallied for the great consumer activist Ralph Nader in Florida 2000. Corporate Democrats still scream at him for daring to run at all. That pubic assault has shifted the focus away from how the election was actually stolen while undercutting America’s most effective corporate critic. In the perennial war waged by corporate Democrats against social democrats, this has been the new millennium’s centerpiece. But had Nader not run, and had all who voted for him tried to vote for Gore, Bush still would have become president. With computerized stripping of the voter rolls, and electronic flipping of the vote count, Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris showed that a governor and secretary of state can take any reasonably close statewide vote and engineer whatever outcome they want. Until very recently, Al Gore never publicly challenged the existence of the Electoral College, which was originally formed in part to empower slave owners. He was the fifth presidential candidate to rightfully win an election but lose the White House. After 17 years, Gore still has not confronted publicly the issue of Jeb Bush’s stripping the voter registration rolls or flipping the electronic vote count. Gore has never used his considerable public persona or immense personal wealth to open a public dialog about that election’s corrupted outcome—or to work to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Indeed, while presiding over the U.S. Senate as vice president, Gore crushed a legitimate challenge to Florida’s stolen Electoral College delegation that put the GOP in the White House. Gore has since got a Nobel Prize for his work on climate change. But his actions were the first inconvenient steps to a Trump administration now making climate chaos infinitely worse. Four years later, John Kerry followed suit. In Ohio 2004—as in Florida 2000—the voter rolls were stripped and the electronic vote count flipped. This time, the prime perpetrator was GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, today a member of Trump’s “election integrity” commission. Working with Bush2, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, Ohio’s first African-American secretary of state unleashed a veritable barrage dirty tricks to take the Buckeye State—and the presidency—away from John Kerry. In Democratic urban strongholds and college towns, precincts were riddled with chaos that was distinctly lacking in rural Republican regions. Incorrect addresses were posted on the state’s official website, and polling stations were shorted on voting machines. While Blackwell spread confusion about the weight of the paper stock required for ballots, he refused to send usable ones to precincts short on voting machines. As a result, thousands of Ohioans—many students and people of color—simply could not vote. Official letters were also sent to “ex-felons” threatening criminal prosecution if they dared to vote, even though ex-felons can legally vote in Ohio and many who were threatened weren’t ex-felons anyway. At least 300,000 citizens were stripped from the voter rolls, nearly all in heavily Democratic urban areas. Some absentee ballots in southern Ohio were sent out missing Kerry’s name. In some Democratic strongholds, voters who pressed Kerry’s name on touchscreen machines saw Bush’s name light up. Some who chose Kerry saw that their choice had disappeared by the time they got to the end of the ballot. There was much, much more, which Bob Fitrakis and I have documented in “How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election,” at freepress.org. On Election Day, Bush and Rove made one trip out of Washington, D.C.—to check in with Blackwell. They made no public appearances and didn’t bother with Ohio’s GOP governor, Bob Taft. At 12:20 on election night, despite mass chaos and huge lines (up to five hours long) in Democratic precincts, CNN showed John Kerry winning Ohio—and thus the presidency—by 4.2 percent of the vote. The projected margin was well over 200,000 ballots. Somehow, a “glitch” stopped the tally. The “problem” was in a server in Chattanooga, Tenn., where the email accounts of Karl Rove and the national Republican Party also resided. They were all managed by Michael Connell, a Bush family high-tech consultant running Ohio’s vote count under a no-bid contract from Blackwell. [Editor’s note: Connell died in a small plane crash in Ohio in 2008, after recently being subpoenaed to testify in a lawsuit allegingvote rigging in the 2004 Ohio election.] When the flow resumed at 2 a.m., all was flipped. Bush somehow won by 2.5 percent—a 6.7 percent shift. Scholars such as Ron Baiman deemed this change a “virtual statistical impossibility.” Bush’s Blackwell-approved Ohio margin was a beyond-improbable 118,000-plus votes, much of it from three southwestern counties riddled with chaos. Kerry’s staff was thoroughly briefed on the likely fraud. At noon the next day, with 250,000 votes still uncounted, Kerry conceded. Then he went windsurfing. Kerry has yet to say a public word about what happened in Ohio 2004, or in other states that year where election theft was blatantly obvious. The fraudulent tactics the GOP “test marketed” in 2004 have been used full force right through the “Trump triumph” of 2016, flipping an untold number of critical elections along the way. Like Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004, Hillary Clinton was the designated winner in 2016. And like them both, she has said and done nothing about the third theft of the U.S. presidency in the first five presidential elections of the new millennium. Clinton won the national popular vote by at least 2.9 million, despite a massive Jim Crow vote-stripping fraud perpetrated by GOP governors and secretaries of state in about 30 states. Parallel to ChoicePoint in Florida 2000, they used a program called Interstate Crosscheck, spread by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. As reported by Greg Palast, Crosscheck stripped voter rolls on the pretext that citizens were double-registered, even if their names did not match from one state to the other. Palast estimates that at least 1 million voters were denied their ballots in this way, most of them likely Clinton voters who were black, Hispanic, Asian-American, Muslim and young. As featured in Palast’s book and movie “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” Kobach chairs the White House commission aimed at stripping registration rolls in upcoming elections. Clinton mentions Kobach briefly in “What Happened,” but offers no meaningful discussion of how his Jim Crow disenfranchisement campaign might have turned the 2016 outcome—or how to prevent it from happening again. Clinton also briefly mentions the Electoral College that cost her the White House, but—like Gore and Kerry—gives no indication she plans to do anything significant about abolishing it. She also fails to explore the fact that she won the exit polls in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—more than enough to give her an Electoral College victory. In all those states, the official vote count was deeply tainted with massive registration stripping and widespread electronic flipping. But she harshly assaults Green candidate Jill Stein, echoing Democrat party-line attacks on Nader. Trump’s total alleged margin in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was under 100,000. As in Florida 2000, Clinton counts Stein’s votes and complains that had they all gone to her, she could have won. But she never mentions that she stiffed Stein’s attempts to investigate the obvious fraud in all three states. As Palast has reported, more than enough Wisconsin voters were stripped from the registration rolls using new photo ID requirements to flip that key state to Clinton. In lawsuits filed on behalf of the Stein campaign, Bob Fitrakis has established that Wisconsin also failed to provide transparent electronic voting machine source codes, as required by law. In Michigan, where Clinton allegedly lost by about 10,000 votes, some 70,000 ballots were recorded without a presidential preference. In the face of obvious manipulation, Clinton has never questioned the absurd presumption that tens of thousands of Democratic voters in Detroit and Flint would slog through long lines and official abuse to cast ballots without marking a choice for chief executive. In fact, Clinton killed Stein’s attempt to force a recount in Michigan. When a judge ruled Stein lacked standing, but that Clinton had it, Clinton’s lawyersrefused to support the recount. They also stonewalled Stein’s investigationsin Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. None of this is mentioned in “What Happened” or in Clinton’s public appearances. The candidate who rightfully won the 2016 election never mentions the obvious stripping and flipping that defined her losses in the three states that put Trump in the White House. Like Gore and Kerry, she has never indicated anywhere that she intends to do anything to stop this from happening again. Clinton does, however, famously attack former FBI Director James Comey and the Russians for allegedly derailing her campaign at crucial moments. Comey’s announcement of an investigation of her emails did, in fact, put a crimp in Clinton’s campaign. She still won the popular vote and the exit polls in the five key states that could have won her the Electoral College. The Russians may or may not have hacked our electronic voting machines. But it’s abundantly clear, 17 years after Florida 2000, that those machines canbe hacked with ridiculous ease, and that the likeliest culprits will always be local officials whose access is universal, quick and predictable. The Russians may or may not have also released emails showing that Clinton’s cronies on the Democratic National Committee wrongfully sabotaged the Bernie Sanders campaign. Again and again, Clinton contemptuously assaults Sanders for his allegedly lukewarm support of her candidacy. But she completely ignores the massive grass-roots social democratic uprising that continues to make him America’s most popular politician. Instead, she locked up her boring, uninspired candidacy behind the mighty fortress of corporate Democrats who seem to fear the social/green democrats to whom the party must ultimately belong if it’s ever again to take power. She let her personal hatred of Vladimir Putin convince even many of her followers that she might well spark a new Cold War with Russia. Thus, she still misses and disses the activist nation that nominated Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, helped him survive the GOP’s strip-and-flip assaults, and thus escape the Electoral College death trap. In 2016 the grass-roots “Hope and Change” tidal wave segued into the “Sandernista” uprising. It became the most powerful grass-roots movement for eco-social democracy in modern U.S. history. The latest incarnation is now in a desperate struggle to take the Democratic Party back from the “Clintonista” corporate elite that has gutted it. Its agenda is to turn the party into a force for peace, social justice and ecological sanity that can actually win elections. Had Clinton lowered herself to embrace it, she might well have overcome a thoroughly corrupted electoral system and kept Trump out of the White House. But as of now, there is no indication that either she, Al Gore or John Kerry are awake to the power of that movement, or to the need to confront an electoral system that strips millions of citizens from its registration rolls, flips electronic vote counts, and has used the Electoral College twice in this century to elect the likes of Bush and Trump as president. With the corrupt remnants of the Clintons’ corporate-owned Democratic Leadership Council (which Hillary praises in “What Happened”) still in control of the party machinery, more than a thousand federal, state and local offices have slipped to the Republicans since 2000. Much of that clearly stems from grass-roots disgust with a party run by a dull, tone-deaf corporate cabal whose agenda on war, trade, welfare and more, is often indistinguishable from that of the GOP. But much also has to do with the death grip Republican governors and secretaries of state have on the electoral apparatus. In 2016 and 2018, six U.S. Senate seats went to Republican candidates who lost in the exit polls, a virtual statistical impossibility. With those races went control of the upper House—and the Supreme Court. Trump’s federal commission on “voter fraud,” headed by Kobach, with Blackwell by his side, is escalating the Jim Crow assault on our voter rolls. Easily hacked electronic voting machines guarantee flipped outcomes. The Electoral College still lets small red states deny the duly elected presidential candidates rightful access to the White House. The reforms we need to our electoral apparatus include universal automatic voter registration, transparent poll books to guarantee duly registered citizens can actually vote, a four-day holiday for voting, easily accessible polling stations, and, above all, universal hand-counted paper ballots, to stay where they are cast in translucent containers with clear chain of custody until they can be tallied in full daylight, with open national oversight. We also need an end to gerrymandering, the death of the Electoral College and an end to corporate money in campaigns. All this seems beneath the corporate Democrats. But without such reforms, it’s a sad illusion that the Congress can be retaken in 2018, or that the GOP rampage through state and local legislatures can be reversed. As for 2020, with the current electoral claptrap, a progressive presidency is almost certainly out of reach. It will be up to the grass-roots sequel to the Sandernista movement to end this nightmare. If “What Happened” and their timid inaction are any indicator, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore still don’t get it. That they opened the door for Donald Trump will be their most profound collective legacy. “Truth!” shouts Jack Nicholson at the end of the legendary film “A Few Good Men.” “You can’t handle the truth!” Until they can, these three biggest losers—and their moribund corporate Democrats—are destined for the scrap heap of history. The sooner, the better. ##########################
By Harvey WassermanIn the shadow of Santa Monica’s legendary “Chain Reaction” monument, a clear message was sent to the unelected interloper in the White House: RESIGN!!! Yesterday was the 72d anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, and the 43d of the resignation of Richard Nixon. Nixon was the last president to seriously threaten the use of nuclear weapons. Amidst the debacle of the Vietnam war, Nixon told then top advisor Daniel Ellsberg that he wanted to drop atomic bombs on Southeast Asia, but that he feared the response of the global anti-war movement. While peace activists gathered yesterday across the street from Santa Monica’s Rand Corporation, where Ellsberg once worked, Dan himself addressed a parallel crowd at the Lawrence-Livermore Laboratory in the San Francisco Bay, where atomic research still proceeds. In Santa Monica, investigative reporter Greg Palast, actor/activist Mimi Kennedy, and many more mourned the mass slaughter in Nagasaki and urged the departure of the most recent White House psychopath to threaten the planet with atomic annihilation.
In a 90-minute rally soon to be broadcast on KPFK-Pacifica, speakers such as legendary activist Blasé Bonpane, Denise Duffield of Physicians for Social Responsibility, peace campaigner Jerry Rubin and many more mourned the nightmare of having an irresponsible madman like Trump with his finger on the nuclear button.In combination with the apparently unhinged leadership of North Korean, Trump has brought the world to the brink of atomic suicide. The clock ticking on the likelihood of a nuclear apocalypse has leapt toward midnight with Trump’s inflammatory, adolescent school-bully rantings. The atomic “fiery fury” Trump has promised is terrifying the world. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy stood up to a room full of crazed generals ready to obliterate the planet. Today we have a spoiled child in the White House who lacks even the simplest understanding of what’s involved with nuclear war….or with the basics of civilized diplomacy. The Santa Monica rally was framed by the 26-foot-high “Chain Reaction” mushroom cloud that stands as a monument to peace activism. The monument was saved through a multi-year campaign to preserve and protect it. In its shadow and elsewhere, the human species is now engaged in a vital campaign to stop both nuclear war and the ecological destruction wrecked by nuclear power plants and so many other polluters. The madness of Donald Trump, like that of Richard Nixon, threatens to kill us all—-in the short term with nuclear weapons, and in the bigger picture with ecological, economic and spiritual ruin. But with the kind of grassroots social activism welcomed and enshrined in rallies like those yesterday, we know that peace…and people…and the planet really do have a chance. ————- Harvey Wasserman was among those marching to end the Vietnam war….and all others! ]]>
Global Hackers and the Russians Have Made Hand-Counted Paper Ballots an Issue of Urgent National Security
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.
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
Originally published at The Progressive on March 17, 2017Donald Trump’s first budget makes his antipathy to the environment clear—and his love for fossil fuels and nuclear power even clearer. In addition to slashing funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, he also announced this week that he wants massive rollbacks in automotive fuel efficiency standards and billions in new investments in nuclear weapons and storage for commercial nuclear waste. The administration’s budget cuts $2.4 billion from the EPA’s operating funds—roughly 31 percent—taking the agency’s annual budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, the smallest since it was formed in 1970. These cuts will cripple regulation of air and water quality, strip oversight of a wide range of land management programs, and loosen restrictions on chemical emissions from industrial facilities. Much of this money would be shifted directly over to the military, which the Trump Administration wants to bolster with an additional $54 billion over the final Obama allocations. As Wenona Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, the cuts would lower staff to about 11,800, in an agency that employed 17,000 in 2010 and, according to the Washington Post, about 15,000 today.“We should be clear that 90 percent of EPA programs are run by state agencies,” Hauter says.“Half that staff is located in regional offices. The cuts, says Hauter, would cripple the states’ ability to protect clean air and water across the country. Following through on his campaign promise to reduce the EPA to “little tidbits,” Trump’s budget defunds more than 50 programs. These include infrastructure improvement on Indian reservations, major projects to clean up Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, a wide range of renewable energy development and energy efficiency programs, numerous climate change research programs, national heritage sites, environmental justice programs, oceanographic research and preservation, and much more. Gina McCarthy, a former EPA official under Obama,described it as “a scorched earth budget that represents an all-out assault on clean air, water and land.” Some of the immediate opposition has crossed party lines. Ohio’s recently re-elected Republican Senator Rob Portman, a close associate of former President George W. Bush, strongly opposed cuts to the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies warned, “if such cuts are realized, many more people will die prematurely and get sick unnecessarily due to air, water and waste pollution.” Among the programs affected will be popular Energy Star campaigns that set efficiency standards for household and other appliances. The program is well-established and popular among large manufacturers seeking marketing tools in a highly competitive global business. “It’s alarming and bewildering to see the Trump Administration propose cuts to critical government programs that support clean energy innovation, helped create thousands of new jobs, and saved Americans millions on their utility bills,” says Amit Ronen, Director of George Washington University’s Solar Institute. Scott Sklar, head of the Stella Group, a D.C.-based environmental consulting firm, and chair of the steering committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition adds that the EPA cuts come in tandem with assaults on programs at the Department of Energy critical to advances in LED light bulbs, advanced batteries, electric trucks, biofuels and other cutting-edge green power projects. Overall, says Sklar, the cuts could cripple some seventeen national laboratories whose innovative technical work spans the horizon from windmills and solar panels to advanced batteries and accelerated efficiency. In addition, says Ronen, “Trump and his cronies can fundamentally change how EPA does its job by rolling back carbon and air regulations and not enforcing current law.” A deadly dose of that medicine is now being administered in Detroit, where Trump has moved to slash motor vehicle efficiency requirements and emissions standards. At the behest of auto company executives, Trump is exploiting a legal loophole in Obama-era requirements to gut fleet fuel-economy capabilities. Complaining about technical challenges, the industry may soon slouch back to lower emissions standards feeding higher short-term profits. Detroit will once again race to the bottom in a global transportation industry increasingly dominated by Germany, China, and Japan. The trends are being further exploited with shifts at the state as well as federal levels to slash tax breaks and incentives for electric cars and solar panels. Guided by handouts from the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel empire, “free market” legislators in states like Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona have partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council to impose debilitating taxes and regulatory barriers against electric cars, green power production, advanced efficiency, mass transit and more. The trend has been underscored by Trump’s quick approval of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and relaxed rules governing fracking on public lands. Meanwhile, Illinois and New York are moving toward massive subsidies for uncompetitive, dangerously dilapidated old nuclear reactors in a marketplace where renewables are coming in far cheaper and creating thousands more jobs. In Ohio and other states, owners of money-losing reactors are advocating for massive handouts to block cheaper, job-creating renewables and efficiency from getting into the marketplace. Adding insult to injury, Trump wants to add $120 million to the long-dead Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Despite fierce local opposition, the Department of Energy has blown some $13.5 billion since 2002 digging a giant tunnel through the dormant volcano eighty miles outside Las Vegas to store radioactive waste. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, got President Obama to cancel Yucca in 2011. Yucca could ultimately cost more than $90 billion by some estimates, and take decades. A $2 billion 2014 explosion shut America’s sole state-of-the-art radioactive-waste repository, at Carlsbad, New Mexico, casting a long shadow over underground burial.
Harvey Wasserman: At this point in time Hillary Clinton seems to be leading Donald Trump by 200,000 votes – nation wide. This would be – if that’s the case, this would be the sixth time in United States history where the person who lost the popular vote won the election. And so all the media is filled with how Trump won – I couldn’t even find the popular vote count on the front page of the New York Times – They’re all talking about the electoral college. Nobody’s talking about the fact that apparently Hillary Clinton won the election. And this has got to stop. This is what happened in 2000. It happened four times in the eighteen hundreds. And this is the death of the democracy here. Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft (www.freepress.org /www.solartopia.org) and six other books on election protection.For more info: FreePress,org]]>
As the Democratic Convention opens in Philadelphia, there’s just one one clear message that matters from the Republicans: Donald Trump will be within ten points of Hillary Clinton in the fall election. Thus, unless the Democrats do something about the issue of election protection, it will be within the power of key GOP swing state governors to give Donald Trump the presidency. For all its problems, the wildly disorganized and fractious gathering in Cleveland all boiled down to Trump’s final speech. It was rambling and often incoherent. But it delivered the classic strongman message: You need ME to protect you. Given the chaos, violence, and injustice of imperial America in 2016, that message is almost certain to sell with enough Americans to keep Trump close enough to Hillary Clinton to allow the election to be electronically stripped and flipped. In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama was able to overcome these barriers with a huge popular margin in more states than the GOP could reasonably steal. This year, in a close election, given how the mechanics of our election system operate, the decision of who will enter the White House will be in the hands of the GOP governors of such swing states as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona. Those will be the only six votes that really count in November. Should all or most of these governors (with their GOP Secretaries of State) flip the vote count for Trump, he likely has a lock on the White House. Two major “strip and flip” forces can doom the Democrats in 2016. First, the GOP stripping of millions of suspected Democrats from the voter roles is proceeding. As Greg Palast reports in his brilliant new film, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy – a Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits,” computer programs coordinated by Kris Kobach, Kansas’s GOP secretary of state, are being used to disenfranchise millions of mostly African-American, Hispanic and young citizens. As exposed by Palast, the stripping technique entered the computer age in 2000, when Florida governor Jeb Bush dropped more than 90,000 blacks and Hispanics from the registration rolls in an election ultimately decided by 537 votes. In 2004 the Ohio GOP stripped more than 300,000 inner city voters in an election decided by 118,775 officially, though more than 90,000 votes still remain uncounted. Palast shows that in 2016, the Democratic constituency will be electronically stripped of millions of voters in at least two dozen key states, easily enough to make the difference in a close election. But if that isn’t enough to put Trump in the White House, the final count can be flipped with computerized “adjustments” made in the dark hours of election night. In both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, electronic manipulation put and kept George W. Bush in the White House. In 2016, well over half the votes will be cast on electronic voting machines. Most of these are ten years old or more. All can be easily manipulated by their owners, which are private corporations, primarily Warren Buffett’s ES&S. The courts have ruled that the software on these machines is proprietary. So there is no effective public monitoring or accountability of the tallying process. At the end of election day, if they are in agreement with each other, the governor and secretary of state can make the vote count pretty much whatever they want. In a close election, the six key swing states electronically available to the GOP are likely to comprise more than enough votes to swing the Electoral College. The question is: will their governors give those electoral votes to Trump? Florida’s governor is the far-right Rick Scott. After 2000, Florida reformed the secretary of state position used by Katherine Harris to help Jeb Bush put George W. Bush in the White House. But the governor’s power over the vote count remains potentially decisive. Florida also has a key Senate race involving Marco Rubio, which gives the GOP an added incentive North Carolina has also made adjustments to its vote count system, and has a Democratic secretary of state. But its disenfranchisement measures are legendary and could be decisive. Michigan, Iowa and Arizona could all be strip-and-flip locks for the GOP. So as always, Ohio may be the key. Governor John Kasich has made very clear his disdain for Donald Trump. But the US Senate race pits his good friend Rob Portman against the former Democratic governor Ted Strickland. Kasich may be willing to throw Trump under the bus. But he and his secretary of state, Jon Husted, will be strongly committed to sending Portman back to the Senate. Thus they won’t want the unlikely discrepancy of a GOP Senate victory alongside a GOP presidential loss. Whatever the case, no matter how many hundreds of millions are spent on this campaign, no matter how many thousands of hours the bloviators blab about this issue or that, when push comes to shove, this election will be decided on election night by the swing state governors and secretaries of state who have their hands on the electronic vote count. Thus, no matter what happens in Philadelphia, the smart money would be on Donald Trump entering the White House in January 2017. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft is at www.freepress.org, along with The Fitrakis Files. Harvey’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History can be found at www.solartopia.org. ]]>