TruthDig on October 17, 2017 [caption id="attachment_1024" align="alignnone" width="712"] The sun shines through smoke and haze from fires over Santa Rosa, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)[/caption] The raging fires and toxic smoke clouds pouring through Northern California can only be described as apocalyptic. Were they sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric’s centralized grid? And where are our federal government and national media? More than 40 people are dead; many more are missing. Given how fast the fires raced through the region, it’s possible that other humans—as well as farm animals, pets and wildlife—have been incinerated. In many cases, the margin for escape was five minutes or less. Some people who did not leave their homes at the first sign of danger died. Some stood in home swimming pools for hours while everything burned around them. Flames leaped over Highway 101 and other major roads, creating firestorms with temperatures of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and more. Much of the quiet, comfortable town of Santa Rosa now looks like Hiroshima after the atomic bombing. Whole neighborhoods have been reduced to smoldering ash. Homes, businesses, factories, farms—some 5,700 buildings to date—plus gardens, vineyards, cars and forests have been vaporized. The death toll is high, the dollar values incomprehensible. Hundreds of square miles of some of the world’s most vital, lush terrain have been obliterated. Much of the fallout is now entering the lungs of some 7.6 million Bay Area residents. The cloud recalls the dust and ash that coated New York City after the 9/11 disaster. The Environmental Protection Agency failed to evacuate Manhattan and did not warn area residents to wear protective clothing and masks. Years later, its then-chief, Christine Todd Whitman, issued a public apology. That cloud contained arsenic, lead, mercury, zinc, cadmium, creosote, furans, dioxins and much much more—a devil’s brew of toxic chemicals perfectly designed to kill a large number of beings over the short and long term. The cloud now swirling over the Bay Area and Northern California contains huge quantities of wood smoke, which can be toxic. Health authorities have warned people to stay inside and to be especially protective of their children and elders. Bay Area residents have been urged to wear masks, but hospital-grade masks don’t filter out particulate matter. The heavier-duty N95 masks might help, but existing supplies have sold out. The idea for FEMA or the military to take in supplies of more effective protective gear seems never to have occurred to federal authorities. Protective gear will be an issue during the cleanup, as toxic ash and other chemical residue will coat debris throughout the region. Mark Sommer, a Bay Area author and renewable energy advocate, noted that thousands of people fled to shelters in Napa and Sonoma Counties. “Many Bay Area residents seem in denial of the hazards they face, even at their distance from the fires,” he says. “Some even jog through the haze, pumping lethal chemicals deep into their lungs.” Sommer, whose view from the 27th floor of an Emeryville, Calif., high-rise faces the Golden Gate and Marin headlands, says visibility has been as low as a quarter-mile. It’s been worse, he says, “than on a bad day in Beijing.” As of Tuesday, nine days after the conflagration began, the biggest fires are at least 50 percent contained. There is hope the winds will die down. Rain is a welcome possibility. What has not been welcome is the profound neglect of this catastrophe by the federal government and major media. By and large, the story of this unparalleled catastrophe has played second fiddle to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sorry sex life. With few exceptions, the death of as many as a hundred or more Americans, the incineration of entire California communities and the poisoning of the air in one of the world’s most beloved cities has been of little interest to the corporate television media. Nor has it moved Donald Trump. Needless to say, the president has declined to come to California or seriously discuss this gargantuan tragedy with the media or even in his deranged tweets. No emergency panels have been convened, and there’s been no dramatic mobilization of FEMA. Federal resources to help the multitude of taxpaying Americans whose lives have been destroyed, and whose health and survival are still under fire, have been sparse, to say the least. The widespread assumption is that because California is largely nonwhite and voted overwhelmingly against Trump in 2016, he has even less interest in helping people here than he did with Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. He has, however, continued to gut federal protections against global warming and to push a power plan based on fossil fuels and nuclear reactors. Conversely, says Sommer, “The most important story here has been the deeply impressive response of emergency personnel, local authorities, firefighters and surrounding communities offering shelter and supplies to the stricken victims of the fires. It’s the strength of local communities that provides the essential resilience required to deal with the cascading calamities of our new normal.” Within that “new normal,” there’s widespread speculation that this entire catastrophe might have been sparked by an obsolete pole-and-wires grid that is owned and badly maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric, the region’s dominant utility, according to The (San Jose) Mercury News. Tied to an aging network of decrepit, fossil-fired power plants, plus two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors surrounded by earthquake faults near San Luis Obispo, this massive Rube Goldberg grid was by many accounts poised for disaster. The Mercury News investigation has raised the question of why the wind knocked down so many power lines. According to reporting by Paul Rogers, Lisa Krieger and Matthias Gafni, PG&E is legally required to guarantee that its poles can withstand hurricane-force winds. But The Mercury News says many collapsed in the weaker winds that sparked the fires. That would lead to the nightmare scenario of a grid-fired catastrophe. In addition to providing wind-resistant poles, PG&E is required to keep the right of way under its power lines free from undergrowth. It also must trim nearby trees so branches and trunks don’t fall on the wires, shorting them out. The Mercury News casts serious doubt on whether that was done, as required by law. The global-warmed weather conditions that fed this catastrophe are well known. A very wet spring led to a massive explosion of foliage throughout Northern California. But the state’s hot and dry summer turned it all into huge quantities of tinder. Arson, of course, can’t be ruled out. But PG&E has a brutal history of negligence, according to The Mercury News. In 1994, the company was convicted on 739 counts of malfeasance and fined almost $30 million after its high-voltage lines were hit by falling trees. The resulting fire destroyed 12 homes and a vintage schoolhouse. Prosecutors showed that the company had taken some $80 million meant for tree-cutting—which might have prevented the fire—and used it to expand profits. In 2010, company gas lines exploded in the upscale suburb of San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. The Public Utilities Commission fined PG&E $1.6 billion. Criminal charges were filed in federal court based on the company’s repeated postponement of repairs that could have averted the disaster. No PG&E executives have yet gone to jail. The company also operates two aging reactors at Diablo Canyon, which are surrounded by earthquake faults. Plagued by core embrittlement, nuclear waste mismanagement, collapsing infrastructure and much more, the utility has cut a deal with state regulators, local communities, labor unions and some environmental groups to shut the reactors in 2024 and 2025. But critics fear that a seismic shock—the reactors are less than 50 miles from the San Andreas Fault—could send a radioactive cloud into downtown Los Angeles within five hours. Under federal law, PG&E would be financially responsible for just a fraction of the ensuing holocaust. This year’s fires will produce a tsunami of litigation. If it’s proved that PG&E’s downed poles were not to code, and that they sparked foliage that should have been removed, the ensuing lawsuits are likely to involve staggering numbers, demands for jail time and maybe the ultimate bankruptcy of the utility, which would be welcomed by many. Many people are dead, thousands are homeless, the ecological damage is epic, and the rebuilding costs will stretch into the tens of billions. On the heels of three major hurricanes, this “new normal” defies the imagination. The dominant question remains: Was this fire caused by an incompetent, negligent megacorporation badly running a centralized electric grid? And if so, what will replace PG&E and its obsolete grid as rebuilding begins? The challenge runs parallel to that of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There, Hurricane Maria took out the central electric grids entirely. In response, a movement has grown up to replace them with a decentralized network of locally controlled solar panels, wind power and biofuels. Power would be generated and distributed at the community level. To the extent that a heavily revised and downgraded central grid might be useful for large wind and solar farms, its role in a global-warmed world would be as a backup for a decentralized, community-based generation. Thus begins the campaign to rebuild the islands and Northern California along Solartopian lines, with decentralized solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal energy transcending the old central grid and dumping the old central utilities into the compost heap of history. As Northern Californians stagger under the shock of deaths, toxic air and ecological and property damage, the debate may seem premature. The challenge remains: How do we avoid the next global-warmed ecological holocaust? Sommer hopes for “a collaborative design process where cities and their neighborhoods come together to map the architecture of their own power systems.” But one thing is certain: Their solutions will not include transmission poles that fall over in moderate winds, possibly sparking bone-dry brush left uncut. ============================== Harvey is a lifelong activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, election protection, social justice, grass-roots politics and natural healing, personal and planetary. He hosts “California Solartopia” at KPFK-Pacifica and “Green Power & Wellness” at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org, solartopia.org and has taught history, diversity and ecology studies at numerous colleges. Follow Harvey on Twitter @Solatopia ….]]>
Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour – 08.24.17
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! ]]>
TODAY!!! WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2017
7:00 to 8:30 PM
SANTA MONICA CIVIC CENTER
CHAIN REACTIONQUENCH THE FIRE! CHILL THE FURY!! ARE WE NEARING A NUCLEAR WAR? NAGASAKI/HIROSHIMA REMEMBRANCE And NIXON DAY RALLY SPEAKERS INCLUDE: GREG PALAST, MIMI KENNEDY, LILA GARRETT, BLASE BONPANE, HARVEY WASSERMAN, JAY PONTI, DENISE DUFFIELD, JERRY RUBIN … & Others taped 4 KPFK California Solartopia 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM & 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM Both At: CHAIN REACTION SANTA MONICA CIVIC CENTER 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica 90401 FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC; FREE PARKING CONSECUTIVE, SEPARATE RALLIES TO
- COMMEMORATE THE ATOMIC BOMBINGS OF HIROSHIMA & NAGASAKI
- REMEMBER THE RESIGNATION OF RICHARD NIXON & DEMAND TRUMP DO THE SAME
At 7:30 – 8:30PM
“Orange is the New Orange”:To Prevent New Nuclear Wars, Election Theft, Planetary Destruction, etc., we will commemorate the 1974 resignation of Richard Nixon & demand Trump do same. Trump was not legitimately elected. He presents a clear and present danger by inciting a new nuclear war. Then-Pentagon advisor Daniel Ellsberg says Nixon wanted to use nukes in Vietnam, but was stopped by the anti-war movement. A similar message must be sent to Trump. Contact Harvey Wasserman via: www.solartopia.org . ]]>
by Harvey Wasserman
July 26, 2017 (originally posted at Progressive.org)Wind turbines in Blue Creek Township, Ohio
In the corporate war against renewable energy, a single Ohio regulation stands out.
It is a simple clause slipped into the state budget without open discussion, floor debate, or public hearings.
The restriction is costing Ohio billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
The regulation demands that wind turbines sited in the Buckeye State be at least 1,125 feet from the blade tip to the nearest property line, about 1300 feet total—nearly a quarter-mile.
Ohio’s setback rule is similar to one in Wisconsin, where progress on wind power has atrophied. Lincoln County in South Dakota just passed a requirement that turbines be at least a half-mile from any residence. And Vermont is pondering a rule change to require a setback of ten times the turbine height, which in the case of a 500-foot turbine would be nearly a mile.
Such regulations threaten to kill wind power, thus protecting corporate investments in nuclear power and fossil-fuel generators. The situation is Ohio is especially egregious.
FirstEnergy, owner of Ohio’s two dying reactors at Perry and Davis-Besse, is now strong-arming the legislature and regulators for $4.5 billion in handoutsto sustain two money-losing nukes whose electricity is far more expensive than what would come from currently approved wind projects, and whose 1,400-odd jobs would be dwarfed by the new turbine construction. Should the wind projects proceed, northern Ohio would be flooded with cheap, clean, reliable electricity that would push the two nuclear “mistakes by the lake,” as they’ve been called, even further outside the competitive pale.
Energy expert Ned Ford, based in southwestern Ohio, estimates it would take seven years or less for new wind construction to fully replace the production from Ohio’s two old reactors, and to do it at prices well below their current cost. A report by the American Wind Energy Association says proposed Ohio wind-energy projects could generate $4.2 billion in private investment, producing thousands of jobs in Ohio-based production, installation, and maintenance while generating billions in local income, much of it for badly stressed farmers.
Together, the cost to Ohio of this regulation adds up to $8.7 billion.
Proponents claim that tall turbines somehow threaten the value of neighboring properties. But the quarter-mile rule would thin out potential turbine installations to the point of making nearly all proposed wind farms economically unsustainable.
Ironically, northern Ohio has one of the world’s most potentially profitable wind regimes. The breezes coming down off the Great Lakes are strong and steady. The land is flat. The area is covered with access roads and established transmission lines. The power source is close to urban areas, such as Toledo and Cleveland, making transmission losses relatively marginal.
Major global wind companies such as Spain’s Iberdrola have long-since won approval for a fleet of Ohio wind farms whose capital investments range into the hundreds of millions, and whose construction jobs would be in the thousands, far outstripping the numbers working at the state’s residual reactors. Hundreds more jobs would come with long-term turbine maintenance.
According to Eric Thumma, director of policy and regulatory affairs for Iberdrola, the regulation “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio.” That would include at least ten wind farms Iberdrola has had fully permitted since 2014, one of them with 304 megawatts of capacity, plus two more waiting in the wings.
Farmers in the region strongly support wind-energy projects. The footprint of a utility-scale turbine covers up just an acre of land. Farmers who host them lose a small fraction of their agricultural productivity, and access roads to build turbines can temporarily cost some crop space. But in many cases, once the windmills are in, farmers just plough over and plant those strips of soil on the usually safe bet that not much will go wrong.
Once installed, the turbines provide farmers with substantial lease payments that can even exceed what they make from actually raising crops other than electricity.
Ohio also stands to benefit from long-stalled projects slated for the middle of Lake Erie, where steady winds are among the world’s most powerful. Amidst relatively shallow waters, the sites, like those on land, are relatively close to major population centers. But while FirstEnergy beats up the legislature demanding billions in reactor subsidies, capital has been slow to flow to the offshore projects.
Recent attempts to rescind the anti-wind restriction are backed by some of the state’s strongest manufacturing, financial, and commercial interests. According to energy expert Ford, lifting the restriction could allow billions in currently stalled projects, and open the door to more. Even without the ones in the lake, Ford calculates that land-based turbines and solar panels could easily supply all Ohio’s electrical needs and make the state a major energy exporter.
In 2010, under then-Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, the Ohio legislature enacted a sweeping mandate in support of renewable energy. It was killed when Republican Governor John Kasich came to power and the GOP gained a death grip on both houses of the legislature. Many Republicans argued then (and now) that “market forces” should determine where Ohio’s energy will come from—while simultaneously demanding the uncompetitive reactors be bailed out and doing all they can to sabotage the influx of cheap renewables.
But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ohio has more than sixtywind-related manufacturing facilities, more than any other state. In 2016, amidst a nationwide green power boom, that industry supported between 2,000 and 3,000 Ohio jobs, more than the 1,400 at Ohio’s two decrepit nuclear plants.
So the death of Ohio’s renewable energy mandate has not only cost it cheaper long-term electric rates and countless installation and maintenance jobs, it continues to cripple the domestic infrastructure poised to produce much of the hardware for the state’s own wind farms.
It’s a lose-lose proposition. The people of Ohio deserve better.“` Harvey Wasserman’s most recent piece for The Progressive is “The Unstoppable Green Power Revolution.” He is author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author, with Dan Juhl, of Harvesting Wind Energy as a Cash Crop.]]>
Electronic Voter Fraud, Pencil Version[/caption] By Bob Fitrakis & HarveyWasserman The Jim Crow GOP has stolen yet another Congressional election, this time in Georgia. As always, the media and Democrats are saying nothing about it. And now the US Supreme Court will allow secretaries of state to completely trash the ballots of anyone they choose. So the Trump/GOP domination of American elections is essentially secure for the foreseeable future. Anyone believing the 2018 or 2020 elections will provide realistic opportunities to overthrow Trump/GOP control of the government is living in a dream world. That dream world fits an historic pattern we outline in our new STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS (www/freepress.org). Its latest incarnation has just surfaced in Jim Crow Georgia. The much-hyped Congressional race between Democrat John Ossof and former Georgia GOP secretary of state Karen Handel was the most expensive in US history, costing more than $50 million. It has ended with yet another victory for Jim Crow election theft as surely as if the KKK had run rampant through the countryside, lynching potential voters. When the seat was vacated by a Trump cabinet pick, Ossof apparently won a run-off election. Early reports showed him with well over 50% of the vote. But as usual where electronic voting machines are involved, Ossof’s margin mysteriously fell under the majority as the evening proceeded, forcing a run-off. Not one major media outlet reported that GOP secretaries of state like Handel have been using the infamous Crosscheck program to strip untold numbers of minority and other suspected Democrats from the registration rolls. As reported by Greg Palast in THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY, Crosscheck was developed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to eliminate millions of non-white voters from the registration rolls. In 2016 some 30 GOP secretaries of state used it to help put Trump in the White House. Trump has since appointed Kobach to a special national commission on elections. Trump also picked J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state responsible for flipping the 2004 presidential election from John Kerry to George W. Bush. The commission will be a perfect weapon to further enhance the Republican apparatus for stealing elections. Meanwhile, in their endless fund-raising e-mails and public rantings, the corporate Democrats continue to focus on alleged Russian hacking. They avoid any real attention to the Crosscheck program and other forms of homegrown Jim Crow disenfranchisement that helped cost them the presidency and innumerable seats in the state and US legislatures, giving the GOP a growing iron grip on our government. They fail to mention that a data analytics firm working for the Republican National Committee “accidentally leaked the sensitive personal details of roughly 198 million citizens … on the web for nearly two weeks.” As Business Insider explained: “This is what you can use to steal an election.” In Georgia, Greg Palast has reported in that a grassroots citizens’ group recently compiled some 10,000 registration forms for Korean-Americans to vote in the disputed Ossof-Handel district. The completed forms were delivered to GOP election officials, but somehow the names were never entered onto the voter rolls. When registration activists complained, Georgia authorities claimed to never have received the forms. According to Palast, when the activists told election officials they had photo-copied the forms, the state launched a legal lynching, threatening the activists with criminal prosecution and destroying their voter registration organization. Those 10,000 disenfranchised Korean-Americans, combined with votes stolen by Crosscheck, could easily have won the first run-off election for Ossof, and the follow-up as well. This is the third consecutive Congressional election the Democrats have lost since Trump took power. They also just lost one in South Carolina. Pelosi and company are trying to crow about how close they came in heavily Republican districts, many of which re growing increasingly diverse. But those seats still belong to Trump’s Jim Crow GOP. Like Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, the party still refuses to even discuss how these critical elections were stripped with massive disenfranchisement and then, where necessary, flipped by electronic means. To make matters much worse, the Supreme Court has just upheld partisan election stripping in Ohio, refusing to hear a challenge to Ohio’s Jim Crow habit of trashing ballots with minor errors on them. The process has been perfected by current GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted, who regularly orders that ballots be discarded with tiny variations in details like omitting a zip code, missing a digit in a social security number, writing in legal cursive rather than roman letters. Like Blackwell before him, Husted swings elections by pitching thousands of provisional, mailed-in and other suspected Democratic votes into the trash on the slightest pretext. The practice was challenged in court by the Democrats and the Northern Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. But the corporatist Roberts Supreme Court has left this electoral lynch process in place. In essence this marks the death of the Democratic Party in Ohio and wherever else there’s a Trump/GOP secretary of state. Popular progressive US Senator Sherrod Brown, for example, will stand no chance for re-election in 2018 in a balloting where Husted can eliminate as many Democratic votes as he needs to flip the seat to the GOP, no matter who they run for it. Major stories at Huffington Post, the New York Times and elsewhere make no mention of the trashing of those Asian-American registration forms or of the Crosscheck program stripping untold numbers of registered voters in Georgia. Endless Democrat harping on Russian meddling, followed by countless fundraising emails signed by Nancy Pelosi, ignore that the party has zero chance of stopping the Trump GOP until registration forms are actually honored and votes are actually counted. Neither the corporate media nor the corporate Democrats seem able to handle the inconvenient truth that our electoral system is, as Donald Trump says, totally rigged. He should know. His party is the one doing it, Jim Crow-style, in Georgia and throughout the rest of the country. The Democrats and their media cohorts are now beginning to mourn the weakness of the “Democrat” brand. But they seem unwilling and/or unable to face the simple reality that these elections are being stripped and flipped. Until they do, there will be zero meaningful electoral challenge to the Trump catastrophe. ————————— Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of the newly issued STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS: FIVE JIM CROWS & ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT now at www.freepress.org. ]]>
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.
By Harvey Wasserman (originally published by Truth Dig on April 25, 2017) Marine Le Pen is the latest fascist to be called a “Right Wing Populist” by the corporate media. There is no such thing. Let’s be clear: Populists are leftists. We support human rights, social democracy, peace and ecological sanity. “Populists of the Right” are fascists. Their goal has a clear definition, as put forward by the term’s originator, Benito Mussolini: “Corporate control of the state.” When they take power, they become National Socialists, using the government to enrich the corporations and the rich, rather than Democratic Socialists, or social democrats, using the state to serve the people. Fascists support enriching the rich and to hell with the rest of us. They are racist, misogynist, anti-ecological, militaristic and authoritarian. They hate democracy, freedom of speech and an open media. They take power by fomenting hate and division. Le Pen, now in in the runoff for the leadership of France, is a classic fascist, as is her American counterpart, Donald Trump. The term “populist” has a clear historical origin in the United States. It’s important we claim it. Populist was the name taken by radical farmers in the late 1800s who fought for social and economic justice against the robber baron elite. The Morgans, Rockefellers and their ilk had captured the industrial revolution that dominated the U.S. after the Civil War. The farmers of the South and West fought back with a grass-roots social movement. They formed the People’s Party. Its socialistic platforms demanded public ownership of the major financial institutions, including banks, railways, power utilities and other private monopolies that were crushing the public well-being. At their national conventions in Omaha in 1892, and St. Louis in 1896, and elsewhere, they demanded an end to corporate and foreign ownership of land. They wanted a national currency based on food rather than gold and silver. They endorsed universal affordable medical care, free public education and a general guarantee of the basics of life for all humans. They demanded equal rights for women, including the vote. They also preached racial unity, especially among black and white farmers in the South, and between native and immigrant workers in the cities. In the political quagmire of the Gilded Age, the Populists had three huge barriers to overcome. Their power depended first on uniting white farmers in the South and West. But many had fought each other in the Civil War. So in 1892 the party nominated for president James B. Weaver of Iowa, a former general in the Union Army. His running mate was James G. Field of Virginia, once a Confederate officer and attorney general of Virginia. The party also had to unite the races in the South. For centuries whites had been at the throats of black slaves, and then of impoverished freedmen and women. But almost miraculously the Populists managed by the 1890s to form significant alliances between the races. A critical pioneer was Tom Watson, a Georgia lawyer the Populists chose for vice president in 1896. The People’s Party also had to ally its primarily rural constituency with the largely immigrant working class masses of the cities. For that a radical faction wanted to nominate for president in 1896 the great Indiana labor leader Eugene V. Debs, who was imprisoned for leading a national rail strike the previous year. But tragedy struck in the form of Congressman William Jennings Bryan. A young, 36-year-old Nebraska Democrat, Bryan adopted populist rhetoric and captured the Democratic nomination, pledging to coin silver, an inflationary move that would raise food prices and lower the real cost of mortgages. Raised an evangelical, Bryan was a spellbinding speaker who convinced the western farmers he would bring real change. With catastrophic consequences, he got a bitterly divided 1896 Populist Convention to endorse him. Debs, who was in jail at the time, also backed Bryan, a move he later deeply regretted. Bryan then stabbed them all in the back. He took a Maine banker for his vice president. He pointedly ignored the Populist Watson and the party’s humanist platform. And he proceeded to lose the general election to Ohio’s very corporate Senator William McKinley, a robber baron puppet. As president, McKinley promptly birthed the modern American empire with the annexation of Hawaii and a Spanish-American War that conquered Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. In the wake of betrayal and defeat, the Populist Party collapsed. The Westerners and the Southerners parted company. The southern whites, including Watson, turned on the blacks, blaming them for the 1896 defeat. Historians often cite venal Southerners like “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman as being racist populists. But Tillman and his ilk were always Democrats, and—like Bryan—had never embraced the Populists’ programs for peace and social justice. Debs went on to lead the Socialist Party, running for president five times. His last campaign came from his federal cell in Atlanta because another Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, had him imprisoned for opposing America’s entry into World War I. A hero to ensuing generations of social democrats, including Bernie Sanders, Debs knew the difference between populists of the left and fascists of the right. While devious Democrats like Bryan and Wilson filched populist rhetoric, they fought the core People’s Party beliefs in social justice and economic equality. Wilson was a vicious racist who used imperial war to crush America’s Socialist Party. And today’s “Populists of the Right,” i.e., fascists, take it even further. They cynically spew snippets of grass-roots rhetoric to attract a working-class constituency. But they violently oppose the rights of the working class, as well as those committed to social justice, economic equality, peace and ecology. The fascists’ divide-and-conquer scapegoating embodies the precise opposite of real populism. Their small-minded meanness of spirit and blatant greed contradict everything the People’s and Socialist Parties stood for. Led now by France’s Le Pen, America’s Trump and so many others, the core corporate values of Kleptocracy, war mongering, racism, misogyny, homophobia and ecological contempt can be seen in sibling reactionaries throughout Europe, in Russia’s Putin, in the Philippines’ murderous Duterte and among countless corporate dictators in developing nations. There is nothing “populist” about these thugs and thieves except the media’s use of the term to describe them. The “F” word applies. It is FASCIST. It’s time to use it—and to reclaim the true meaning of populism, in all its humanistic glory. ]]>
22 February 17enator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) would do well to embrace our early American hero Pocahontas. She might even thank Donald Trump for making the link.
With his signature sneering, leering sexism and racism, Trump refers to the Massachusetts senator with the name of this real-life historic figure as if it were a put-down.
But Pocahontas is a true American icon. Unlike Trump, she was greatly loved by her people, and her character was impeccable. She was deeply admired in England, where she travelled with her husband and young son and then tragically passed away, having barely turned twenty.
Throughout her career, Senator Warren has referred to her lineage as including traces of both Cherokee and Delaware tribal heritage. It seems to be family lore for which she has no firm documentation. There’s no indication Senator Warren has benefitted from the possibility she may be part indigenous. Given her legendary serious demeanor, it’s extremely unlikely she made it up. But with characteristic ugliness, the Republicans have turned it into a slur.
In fact, Pocahontas was born with the name Matoaka, probably around 1596. She was the much-loved daughter of the powerful chieftain Powhatan, whose tribe occupied the tidewater region of present-day Virginia.
In 1607, as the first white settlers arrived at Jamestown, Pocahontas may have saved the life of the English adventurer John Smith. Allegedly Pocahontas’s father meant to put him to death. Legend has it Pocahontas saved Smith by stopping the execution. It’s also rumored she may have saved another white man as well.
The stories are shrouded in mystery, and there’s much about them that makes little sense. Smith was a polarizing character. It would have been very much in character for him to have alienated the Virginia chieftain, but the two men needed each other. Smith included the story of Pocahontas’s alleged intervention in memoirs that were relentlessly self-serving and doubted by some historians.
Whatever the case, the story has stuck throughout history and is revered as one of the first instances of a positive human connection between the indigenous Americans and invading Europeans.
There is no indication from Smith or any other contemporary that he and Pocahontas might have been lovers. She would have been about eleven years old when she allegedly saved him. He was probably pushing forty. The anatomically impossible characters in the Disney film are very far from credible.
In 1613, the teenaged Pocahontas was kidnapped by English settlers. While in captivity she converted to Christianity, then married a tobacco farmer named John Rolfe. The circumstances were complex, though most accounts indicate the two were in love. Their marriage prompted a “Peace of Pocahontas” between the colonists and the local tribes that lasted until her father died about a year after she did.
In 1615 Pocahontas and John Rolfe had a son they named Thomas. The following year Rolfe took the family to London, where they met the king and were welcomed at various social gatherings. She also met Smith again in what he described as a complex and not entirely loving encounter.
In March, 1617, the Rolfe family embarked for Virginia. Pocahontas took sick and died at Gravesend, on the Thames. Some of the natives on board the ship believed she was poisoned. There have been attempts to bring her body home, but the exact location of her gravesite at Gravesend has allegedly been lost.
Young Thomas returned to America. His descendants include First Lady Edith Wilson (married to Woodrow, also born in Virginia), the astronomer Percival Lowell and the actor Glenn Strange. It’s widely asserted that Nancy Reagan was also descended from Pocahontas, although the evidence is sketchy.
Pocahontas is the first indigenous female to be honored on a US postage stamp. She was revered on both sides of the Atlantic as a gentle, courageous woman of good character whose marriage helped inaugurate a rare time of peace between whites and natives. The armload of articles, books, and movies about her always exude the welcome image of a great heart.
Next time Donald Trump refers to Senator Warren as “Pocahontas,” she’d do well to proudly embrace the name and honor the real-life woman who made it famous. Perhaps she could propose a special commemoration to the Senate — if they let her speak.
Harvey Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History can be had via www.solartopia.org. The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, co-written with Bob Fitrakis, is at www.freepress.org.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.]]>
Joan Brunwasser interviews Harvey Wasserman(originally published on Op-Ed News)
My guest today is Harvey Wasserman, author, teacher, environmental and election activist. He just co-authored a piece with Bob Fitrakis: Trump’s Big Lie About 3 Million “Alien Voters” Cuts Far Deeper Than You Think 2.6.2017.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Harvey. We last spoke several weeks before this election. And, I thought we were initially glad that DT shined a spotlight on the dysfunctional apparatus that powers our elections. Apparently, that’s not the case. Why not?
Harvey Wasserman: He was the wolf crying wolf. He yelled about a rigged election while himself rigging it.
Joan Brunwasser: You’re going to have to flesh out that very provocative statement for us, Harvey. Are you referring to the Russian involvement?
Harvey Wasserman: By yelling about three million alleged alien voters, which as everyone knows is an utter falsehood, he distracted from the fact that millions of primarily black, Hispanic, Asian-American, Muslim and other non-millionaire citizens were denied the right to vote in this election.
This is the Big Lie at work: as the Nazis knew, if you tell one long enough, people start to believe it.
I’m glad much of the media has persistently referred to it as a false claim. It’s important they do that.
But his people are persistently making the claim and it’s very dangerous.
It masks the fact that millions were in fact DISENFRANCHISED from voting in this election, as shown by Greg Palast’s BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY and others.
It’s also important to remember that Clinton won the five key swing states of Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the exit polls but not the official vote count, a sure sign of electronic manipulation.
And then, Jill Stein and the Greens were throughout abused during the recounts, with no help from the Democrats.So, this was a fascist stolen election and Trump’s screams are a brilliant smokescreen.
Joan Brunwasser: Trump being capable of executing such a “brilliant smokescreen” may be a stretch for many voters who view him as irrational and narcissistic, at best. Our readers might not be familiar with the voter suppression that was carried out throughout the country. Ohio, where you and your colleague and co-author, Bob Fitrakis, live, was particularly hard hit. What can you tell us? How does voter suppression happen, especially on such a large scale?
Harvey Wasserman: Trump’s rantings may or may not have to do with covering up Russian involvement. We don’t know if the Russians hacked the electronic voting machines or the poll books. It’s possible.
But the real hacking is homegrown. There are 30 GOP Secretaries of State who used the CrossCheck program to strip hundreds of thousands of black, hispanic, Asian-American,Muslim and other non-millionaires from the voter rolls.
So when Trump bleats about three million “alien” voters what’s he’s covering up is the millions of AMERICAN voters who were stripped from the rolls.
Joan Brunwasser: Why is no one having a total hissy fit about this? This is pretty darn serious. Where was Clinton? Where’s the press?
Harvey Wasserman: Clinton and the corporate Dems may be hushed because what Trump did to them, they did to Bernie. Bernie was the rightful winner of the primaries. The Superdelegates played the role of the Electoral College. The [corporate] Dems don’t want to give up the ability to steal elections themselves, especially primaries. They clearly prefer having Trump in the White House to having Bernie there.
Joan Brunwasser: Two questions here: Is this just a case of sour grapes because Bernie didn’t get the nomination? And how can you say that the corporate Dems would prefer Trump to Bernie?
Harvey Wasserman: Well, however it happened, the grapes are sour indeed.
Our studies show Bernie was the rightful winner. (For a full discussion, see our book THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016 via www.freepress.org; a full summary will appear in our upcoming THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS.) There’s no doubt the leadership of the DNC conspired to prevent him from getting the nomination. There was stripping of voters in both CA and NY, and indications of electronic flipping as well. And they used the Super delegates like a form of the Electoral College at its worst.
Did they prefer Trump to Bernie in the White House? There are many ways to speculate on different outcomes in this election. But one fairly obvious conclusion is that if Hillary had taken Bernie as her VP, which seems the obvious and gracious thing to have done, she would have won. The army of grassroots activists would have been there, as with Obama in 2008 and 2012, to make sure this lunatic did not get into the White House. So you tell me”.why didn’t she do it?
And where has she gone now? Hillary has virtually disappeared since the day after the election. Just like Gore and Kerry after they won their elections and then said nothing about election theft or the EC. It’s as if they never existed, and here we are stuck with the catastrophic aftermath. There’s got to be a better way.
Joan Brunwasser: Before we discuss our options, you didn’t answer the age-old question, where is the press?
Harvey Wasserman: The media can’t seem to handle the idea that our elections are a total sham. There was some coverage of disenfranchisement leading up to the 2016 election. But not much. And no follow through. The reality that our voting machines are totally rigged is simply “conspiracy theory” in their eyes. And they are unwilling to make the slightest effort to research the realities.
Joan Brunwasser: Sadly, you appear to be right. Which brings us to possible paths of action. I read something encouraging from the Jill Stein camp regarding their lawsuit in Pennsylvania. Would you care to discuss that for a moment?
Harvey Wasserman: What Jill Stein’s brave campaign made clear is that the electoral system is completely corrupted and impenetrable. Even in a state like Pennsylvania, which has a Democratic governor.
Nationwide, our elections are simply a bad joke. They need to be reformed from top to bottom, with universal automatic voter registration, a four-day holiday for voting, ample places to vote, hand-counted paper ballots, automatic recounts at no charge to candidates and abolition of gerrymandering, the Electoral College and corporate money in campaigns.
It’s a simple, clear agenda but a monumental task to win. On the other hand, without it, we have nothing resembling a democracy.
Joan Brunwasser: Do you want to talk about Jill Stein’s lawsuit?
Harvey Wasserman: Over the coming months and years, you can expect to see numerous lawsuits by many democracy advocates. There will be referenda and other campaigns to fix this problem. The corruption of this system is deeply embedded in our body politic, but so was the British empire, slavery, legal segregation, the war in Vietnam and much more.
I also expect to see the rapid shutdown of all nuclear power plants, hopefully before the next one explodes, and the conversion of our civilization (if it can be called that) to 100% renewable energy.
So let’s just remember our great activist history and honor it and get the job done,. I think everyone who intends to go to a march or rally in the Trump Era should knock on ten doors before they do. Then, we will win!!!###]]>