Trump Is Our Imperial Vulture Come Home to Roost – We Must Repent
By Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
13 February 17
s the nightmare reality of Donald Trump sinks in, we need to put our resistance in a larger perspective.
There’s no need here to list what he is doing and is prepared to do to what remains of our rights, freedoms, economy, ecology, human dignity, sense of justice, the future of our children and much, much more. Donald Trump appears at this point to be our worst national nightmare.
For many of us, it will be the challenge of a lifetime to solve this problem. Millions of words will be written about it in the months to come.
But we might start by comparing him to the kinds of leaders our nation has forced on other countries, and by making some kind of amends. Trump is, in fact, our own imperial vulture come home to roost.
Indeed, he’s actually (so far) a moderate compared to scores of murderous dictators the US has installed in other countries throughout the world. Especially since World War II, our imperial apparatus has constantly subverted legitimate attempts by good people to elect decent leaders.
In all such cases, people no different from most of us have suffered terrible, tangible consequences. No matter how much pain we may now feel in America, it pales before the horrors we’ve imposed with Trump-style dictators in other nations.
To get them installed, the Central Intelligence Agency and other imperial organs have often merely subverted elections. As was done here in 2016 and for countless elections before (and perhaps to come), substantial portions of the population have been systematically stripped of their right to vote. Where that’s proven insufficient, vote counts have been flipped by electronic and other means to guarantee a secure corporate outcome.
But where even that’s not been enough, our imperial minions have simply exiled, killed outright, invaded, employed mass violence, concocted civil wars and done whatever else necessary to remove those popular leaders that have not suited the American corporate interest.
One recent instance has been in Honduras, where the elected president, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup and the military took over from 2009 to 2013. Honduras became the most violent non-war zone on Earth in those years.
Here is a partial list of other duly elected leaders the United States has had removed, disappeared and/or killed to make way for authoritarian pro-corporate regimes. In each case, their demise resulted in death, denial of democratic rights and massive suffering to individuals within those countries who stood in the way of America’s imperial agenda:
Lumumba, Congo; Allende, Chile; Aristide, Haiti; Mossadegh, Iran; Arbenz, Guatemala; President Joao Goulart, Brazil; Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, Greece; Sukarno, Indonesia; Tecumseh, John Ross, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Sealth and countless other indigenous Americans; and too many more.
Here is a very incomplete list of violent, torture-prone kleptocrats the US has installed to serve its corporate interests:
Pinochet, Chile; Duvalier, Haiti; Somoza, Nicaragua; Marcos, Philippines; Suharto, Indonesia; Diem, Ky, Thieu, Vietnam; Pol Pot, Cambodia; Batista, Cuba; Saddam Hussein, Iraq; the Shah, Iran; the Regime of the Colonels, Greece; and too many more.
Taken in sum, the horrors these coups have imposed on innocent people throughout the planet comprise a terrible karmic debt our nation owes the rest of humankind.
The idea that such retribution would come home to roost may have been best stated by our 16th president. It is chiseled on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital, for all to see.
At the end of the Civil War, in his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln mourned that this “terrible war,” which killed more than 620,000 Americans, had come “as the woe due to those by whom the offense came.”
The offense, of course was slavery. To pay for it, Lincoln warned, we would see the war “continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.”
Are we, as modern Americans, now being called to pay for the blood drawn and the pain imposed by our imperial armies? And for all the wealth and comfort and dignity unjustly stolen from innocent peoples around the world?
As we squirm and mourn and march and organize, we might keep in mind the image of Donald Trump as imperial payback.
We might remember that as we work to overcome this homegrown vulture of our own making we must make right what we’ve imposed on so many others.
And that the restoration of sanity, dignity, and democracy to this nation can only come with a genuine sense of perspective … and with the resolve to never again impose any such suffering anywhere else in this world.
Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: FIVE JIM CROWS & ELECTRONIC ELECTION THEFT at www.freepress.org, where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES are available. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.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.
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(Photo: Rama)Donald Trump’s relentless insistence that three million “aliens” voted for Hillary Clinton and cost him a popular majority in November’s presidential election cuts far beyond what the corporate media is willing to report. When it comes to undermining democracy in the US, Trump is once again proving that the best defense is a total attack, even if it relies on “alternative facts.”
Trump’s Big Lie on voter fraud has been as widely scorned as his fantasies about the size of the turnout at his inauguration. Even the normally restrained New York Times has editorialized that “what once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy.”
It seems to be dawning on The Times and others that by claiming so many non-citizens voted more than once, Trump re-loads America’s Jim Crow lynch laws against Black people voting. Based on these assertions, we can expect more and more aggressive attacks by the administration against the rights of non-whites and non-millionaires to a fair and honest ballot.
Indeed, the corporate media has not yet faced the devastation of mass disenfranchisement in 2016. As reported by Greg Palast (www.gregpalast.com) and others, some thirty GOP Secretaries of State across the US used a computer program called Crosscheck to strip thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Muslim voters from the registration rolls. These mass disenfranchisements could well have made the difference in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida that allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College while so thoroughly losing the popular vote.
Trump’s carping about voter fraud has first and foremost has helped divert the public’s attention from this defining reality.
But unfortunately, there is far more.
Let’s start with the Electoral College. For the sixth time in US history, the candidate who lost among eligible voters has entered the White House. Last was 2000, when Al Gore beat George W. Bush nationwide by more than a half-million votes. Neither Gore nor the Democratic Party followed this stunning election theft (which had such dire consequences) by launching any kind of movement to abolish the Electoral College. Instead, many Democrats have spent 16 years screaming at Ralph Nader for daring to run for president. Had they instead recruited him to help organize the abolition of the Electoral College, Trump might not now be in the White House.
In 2016, the attack on Nader has morphed into a fixation on Russian hacking and anger at the FBI. So barring a miracle (or a Constitutional Amendment) in 2020 and the foreseeable future beyond, the curse of the Electoral College will still be there to serve the popular minority.
Trump has also fought hard against any meaningful recounts, And for good reason. As many as 28 states this election showed statistically significant variations between exit polls and official vote counts. In 25 of those states, the “Red Shift” went in Trump’s direction. Among statisticians this is known as a “virtual statistical impossibility.”
In Michigan, which officially went to Trump by about 10,000 votes, some 75,000 ballots came in without a presidential preference, mostly in heavily Democratic urban areas. The idea that 75,000 citizens would take the trouble to vote but not to make a preference among at least four presidential candidates has yet to be explained by the media or the Democrats.
Major problems with electronic voting machines, precinct access, ballot chain of custody and vote count issues also surfaced throughout the swing states. But when the Green Party’s Jill Stein dared to attempt a recount, Trump launched an all-out attack. High-priced attorneys in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere did all they could to prevent any realistic examination of what actually happened in the states that gave him the presidency.
Meanwhile, rather than doing the work themselves, the corporate media heaped scorn on Stein for daring to examine exactly how Trump became president. The Democrats and the Clinton campaign offered no help beyond sending a few attorneys to “observe” the assault on greens uppity enough to challenge the system that had flipped the presidency, the Congress, the Supreme Court and innumerable state and local governments.
The bottom line here is that our entire electoral process is broken. Donald Trump became president because massive disenfranchisements kept thousands of citizen from voting, because electronic “black box” voting machines cannot be monitored or accounted for by the general public, and because the Electoral College remains in place, ready to swing the next loser into the White House.
Trump’s screaming assertion of entirely the opposite is a brilliant strategy that can only work in a country where the media refuse to face the realities of a thoroughly broken system, and an “opposition” Democratic Party that won’t fight for elections it actually wins.
Our survival demands an actual democracy. That means universal automatic voter registration, with voter rolls transparent and readily accessible for verification. It means a four-day national holiday for voting, universal hand-counted paper ballots, and automatic recounts at no cost to the candidates. It also demands an end to gerrymandering, a ban on corporate money in our campaigns and, of course, the abolition of the Electoral College.
Trump’s rantings about voter fraud are a brilliant diversion away from all that. So is the media and Democrats’ obsession with the Russians.
Our stripped and flipped elections are home-grown poison. Donald Trump is the ultimate outcome. Until we reject the current electoral system, we will all be living in a world of hurt.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, including The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016, at www.freepress.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files also reside. Harvey’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at www.solartopia.org.
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ANOTHER STRIPPED FLIPPED ELECTION? We’re joined by my election theft co-author BOB FITRAKIS to sort through the rubble of the 2016 election.
For the sixth time in US history, the ELECTORAL COLLEGE has allowed the losing candidate to become president. It worked for George W. Bush in 2000 and now it will work for Donald Trump.
Once again exit polls show the alleged loser, this time Hillary Clinton, being in fact the likely victory.
But most importantly we see the likelihood that the stripping of voter rolls rendered more than enough voters ineligible to have shifted the final outcome.
We are joined late in the show by voting rights activist Lynn Landes and CODE RED author Jon Simon for more important comment, which will be continued
as we try to make sense of how to live and make change in a country ruled by a system that nowhere nearly represents a democracy.
For the sixth time in our history, a candidate for President of the United States may have won the popular vote and lost the White House.
This must end.
While the nation—and much of the world—shudders at the thought of a Donald Trump presidency, our electoral system has once again failed to deliver a formal victory to the person who got the most votes.
Hillary Clinton appears to have won the nationwide popular vote. As of about 1 PM eastern time, the tally was roughly 58,909,774 votes (47.6%) for Clinton, versus 58,864,233 votes (47.5%) for Trump. (The exact numbers will change as the vote count continues.)
But Donald Trump’s Electoral College tally has exceeded the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House.
There is much more to tell about this. This year’s vote has once again been stripped and flipped by GOP Jim Crow segregationist tactics that disenfranchised millions of primarily African-American and Hispanic citizens.
But if the current vote tallies continue roughly they way they are, Donald Trump will join Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush as presidents who lost the popular vote but still took the nation’s highest office, in every case with huge impacts.
The Electoral College was established at the 1787 Constitutional Convention to prevent the public from voting directly on our national leader. Ostensibly, it was meant in part to protect small states from being bullied by bigger ones.
It also installed a “three-fifth bonus” that gave plantation owners a 60 percent headcount for their slaves. The ruse was counted into Congressional districting, giving the south a distinct advantage over the northern free states. That’s why every President from Jefferson to Lincoln either owned slaves or had a vice president who did.
In 1800, Jefferson beat the incumbent John Adams in an Electoral College swung by “bonus votes” that came from slaves who could not actually cast them. In 1824, John Quincy Adams made a deal with Kentucky slaveowner Henry Clay to steal the presidency from Andrew Jackson, who had beaten Adams by about 50,000 popular votes.
In 1876, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes lost to Democrat Samuel Tilden by about 250,000 votes. But the GOP used federal troops in the south to shift enough Electoral College votes to create a deadlock. Hayes then became president by agreeing to remove those troops and end Reconstruction, a catastrophe for southern blacks and a triumph for the Jim Crow segregation that has defined our national politics ever since.
In 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison lost the popular vote to incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland but became president anyway. Cleveland won back the White House in 1892.
In 2000, Democrat Al Gore beat Republican George W. Bush by a nationwide tally of about 500,000 votes. Gore was also ultimately shown to have won the popular vote in Florida. But Bush’s brother Jeb, then governor of Florida, used a computerized system to remove voters from the rolls, to steal Florida’s electoral votes and put George in the White House.
Much the same was done in Ohio 2004 to defeat John Kerry. Bush ultimately was credited with a victory in the nationwide popular vote.
This year, Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory will change history in unimaginable ways. But nationwide it appears he did not win the popular vote. Hillary Clinton did.
There is much more to this story. But one thing is clear: There is no useful function for the Electoral College, a vile 230-year-old holdover from the bad old days of the southern slaveocracy. It poisons our electoral process.
It will require a Constitutional Amendment to get rid of it. But if we are to have anything that resembles a democracy, the Electoral College must be abolished.
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.
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Project Censored has chosen Search Engine Algorithms and Electronic Voting Machines Could Swing 2016 Election as the 4th “Most Censored Story of 2016” with contributions by Free Press writers and editors Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman.
“Because courts have ruled that source code is proprietary, private companies that own electronic voting machines are essentially immune to transparent public oversight, as Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis documented,” Project Censored wrote. “On Democracy Now! and elsewhere, Wasserman and Fitrakis have advocated universal, hand-counted paper ballots and automatic voter registration as part of their ‘Ohio Plan’ to restore electoral integrity.”
Every year for 40 years, Project Censored, located at Sonoma State University in California, has chosen the 25 most censored stories of the year.
To read about Project Censored and their top censored stories of 2016, go to:
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Election Assessment Hearing Kathy Dopp, Rev. Bill Moss, Robert Fitrakis, Richard Hayes Phillips
Fitrakis was an international election observer for the 1994 El Salvador presidential election and co-authored and edited the International Observer Election Report. Fitrakis’ investigative reporting on election irregularities and fraud began prior to the Florida debacle of the 2000 election. He uncovered the history and Republican and CIA connections to the electronic voting machine companies in several articles throughout 2000 prior to Election Day. He worked with the late Athan Gibbs, inventor of TruVote voting machines that supplied a paper trail, in exposing the flaws of computer voting machines.
He helped organize Election Protection activities in central Ohio for the 2004 election including Video the Vote and legal observers at the polls. He received international attention after being an Election Protection attorney during the 2004 Ohio presidential election, and subsequently investigating the election irregularities. He initiated the original public hearings at the New Faith Baptist Church and Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio two weeks after the November 2, 2004 Election Day to hear sworn testimony and take notarized affidavits from voters and observers who experienced election irregularities. Over 750 people participated in the hearings that were simultaneously broadcast on radio and on international media.
Dr. Fitrakis was instrumental in putting together a coalition of nonprofit organizations, public officials, attorneys, voters, videographers, and activists to continue the investigations across Ohio. He helped organize four other public hearings in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, and Warren, Ohio. In December 2004, Fitrakis testified before the Judiciary Committee of Congress at the request of Rep. John Conyers in both Washington D.C. and Columbus. The information gathered from the Free Press investigations and hearings resulted in the Conyers Report, “What Went Wrong in Ohio?” released January 5, 2005. Fitrakis spoke to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Ohio’s election issues. Fitrakis was one of four attorneys who challenged the election results in federal court immediately after the election, Moss v, Bush, with the assistance of Rev. Jesse Jackson. While working with Jackson, Fitrakis briefed top Democratic leaders, including U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and helped organize and craft the language for the first Congressional challenge to the seating of Ohio’s delegates in our country’s history.
Fitrakis briefed John Kerry, worked on election reform with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-LA) and Rep. John Kerry (D-Atlanta), and briefed the Democratic Party Senate leadership. He later briefed the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate Democratic leadership. Dr. Fitrakis testified at the Election Assessment hearings in Houston, Texas, which became part of the Carter-Baker Report. Throughout 2005-2007 Fitrakis organized investigators under the auspices of the CICJ to visit key Boards of Elections in Ohio to physically examine and count ballots, videotape and photograph election evidence, and write reports. Much of this evidence appears in his books and in a project he coordinated for an online digital archive.
Fitrakis co-authored What Happened in Ohio? A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election (New Press) and has authored or co-authored three other election books including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 the companion summary book to the 767-page volume Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? Essential Documents, co-edited with Harvey Wasserman and Steve Rosenfeld. He co-wrote the freepress.org article “How a Republican Election Supervisor Manipulated the 2004 Central Ohio Vote” that received the Project Censored Third Most Censored story in the world in 2005. He has written chapters for the book Hacked (Truth Enterprises Publishing) in 2006 and Mark Crispin Miller’s Loser Take All (Ig Publishing) in 2008.
Fitrakis has been interviewed on countless national and local radio and TV programs as an expert on Ohio’s election irregularities and subsequent election reform issues. He was a featured speaker at the first voting rights teach-in in Berkeley in February 2005 and at national organizing conferences for the growing voting rights movement from San Francisco to Nashville to New York City. Fitrakis received a grant to take his books on a west coast book tour from San Diego to Seattle during 2005. He helped a coalition of individuals and groups hold a 3-day Voting Rights Revival conference in Columbus in 2005 and another in 2008. Over 10 national and international independent video documentaries feature Fitrakis, including the Sundance Award-winning “American Blackout” by Ian Inaba of GNN. Through the Free Press, he and the Ecological Options Network co-produced the short video “Help America Vote on Paper” on election reform advocacy video that has been distributed worldwide. On behalf of the Free Press, Fitrakis wrote and received two national grants to continue the election reform work through 2006 and 2007. Fitrakis was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now and by Lou Dobbs on CNN.
Fitrakis ran for Governor of Ohio in 2006 as an independent endorsed by the Green Party on a platform of election reform. He worked with five other independent statewide candidates to place dozens of election rights observers inside the polling sites and Boards of Elections on Election Day throughout Ohio. Gore Vidal volunteered to help Fitrakis with his campaign. Vidal sponsored and appeared alongside him at a fund-raiser and live Pacifica radio broadcast in Santa Monica. Fitrakis successfully brought the election irregularities to public attention, as well as the criminal antics of his Republican opposition for governor Ohio’s Secretary of State J. . Blackwell was sorely trounced in the election and is no longer a political entity in Ohio, and Fitrakis received 41,000 votes.
As of June 2008, Fitrakis is currently co-counsel in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State’s office seeking to end racially discriminatory electoral practices in Ohio and to ensure free and fair elections. Fitrakis authored a 50-point consent decree to ensure election integrity in Ohio submitted to the current Secretary of State. Many of these proposals have been adopted by the state of Ohio. He continues to speak on radio and TV programs, present at conferences, and help produce independent election-related videos. He and Wasserman continue to report regularly on election reform issues in the Free Press, on freepress.org and numerous other progressive websites such as Counterpunch, Commondreams, Salon, Alternet, and Bradblog – as well as their own internet radio program at freepress.org/podcasts.
Fitrakis continues to lead annual election protection efforts in Ohio. The Post-election report of 2008 was brought before the UN by the International Association of Educators for World Peace. In 2008, the CICJ exposed that over 1.25 million voters had been purged in Ohio and in 2012 was able to document that over 1 million voters were purged in the Buckeye State. Fitrakis is currently working with Harvey Wasserman in updating their election book for a new edition in 2012.