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(above left) Harvey Wasserman speaking to a crowd at the State House in Columbus, Ohio; photo courtesy 360.org; (right) Marianne Williamson speaking with the media at the 2019 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa; photo by Gage Skidmore.
Hey, Greylock Nation —
This is the Top Left Corner, Episode #171, and I’m your host Jay Velázquez. This is a special presentation, as I’m thrilled to bring you a conversation with one of my personal heroes, Harvey Wasserman. In addition to be part of the Western Mass group of activists who coined the phrase, “No Nukes,” Mr. Wasserman is also one of the founders of the Liberation News Service, which was instrumental in shaping independent, alternative news for decades since it’s original reporting on the war in Vietnam.
Free Press Senior Editor and “Superpower of Peace” columnist Harvey Wasserman is also senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service. He is author or co-author of a dozen books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, and Harvey Wasserman’s History Of The United States.
Harvey and co-author Bob Fitrakis have been called “the Woodward & Bernstein of the 2004 election” by Rev. Jesse Jackson. Their HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, published by the Columbus Institute of Contemporary Journalism, is the definitive digest on the theft of George W. Bush’s second term. Their WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO? (co-authored with Steve Rosenfeld) is the leading document book, published by New Press.
His newest (autumn, 2021) is The People’s Spiral of U.S. History: from Jigonsaseh to Solartopia.
Greylock Glass readers/listeners can get BOTH books, Solartopia and The People’s Spiral of U.S. History simply by writing to [email protected], letting them know you heard about them on the Top Left Corner, and that you’d like a free PDF of these two important works!
Harvey’s journalistic writings and columns have appeared in major newspapers and magazines worldwide since 1967. He and Fitrakis co-host Radio FreePress.Org, and have appeared on Lou Dobbs, Democracy Now! and other major US media.
Marianne Williamson is a best-selling author, political activist and the undisputed leader in spiritual and progressive circles. She is the author of 14 books, four of which have been #1 New York Times Best sellers.
Marianne Williamson will join us to discuss where America is now and who we need to be in order to reverse course against the fascist right-wing vigilantes. At a time of such an extraordinary threat to our democratic norms, we need to radically rethink where we have been and where we’re going. From psychological perspectives to the history of the New Deal, Williamson scans the landscape for the insights we need right now to avoid a cataclysmic end to democracy.
RSVP A MUST: [email protected]
MODERATOR: Expert/Author/Activist Harvey Wasserman author or co-author of 21 books, including The People’s Spiral of U.S. History: from Jigonsaseh to Solartopia. and Solartopia!, at www.solartopia.org. He co-convenes the Grassroots Emergency Election Protection zooms Mondays at 5pm Eastern (www.electionprotection2024.org).
Date: Sunday, Sept 25, 2022
TIME: 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time
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Let’s get to our conversation with Harvey Wasserman.
NTRVW: Harvey Wasserman
Editor’s Note: The Greylock Glass pays to have rough transcripts of interviews produced. We attempt to remain as faithful as possible to the speakers’ original meaning, and apologize for any errors of transcription. That said, even the imperfect transcription we perform is costly. Please support us financially by becoming a member or making a one-time contribution to help us continue to provide this service.
Jay Velázquez: And with me on the line is the legendary Harvey Slugger Wasserman joining us from California. Mr. Wasserman, it is a true privilege and an honor to have you on the show.
Harvey Wasserman: Well. Great to be with you. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
Jay Velázquez: Well, you’re you’re history is is well known to a lot of people in progressive circles, in energy circles. But just for those people who, you know, the Gen Z’ers maybe who don’t haven’t heard of you yet, just give us a brief history of how you got into activism. And I know it was like in the late sixties or early seventies, what were you doing? What was going on and what sparked the fire in you?
Harvey Wasserman: Well, my parents, I had the the greatest the greatest gift anyone can have in a human life is to have wonderful parents. And I had great parents. They were very liberal, very open minded. And in 1962, in Columbus, Ohio, I was in high school, I was a junior captain in a tennis team, and a friend asked me to come to a demonstration at a roller rink in Columbus that was segregated. This was 1962, for God’s sakes, in Columbus, Ohio was racially segregated. And so me and my buddy Allen and his girlfriend Susan, we went demonstrated and we can’t I don’t know who was running us. I don’t know why. We just did what we were told. And I don’t even know who was telling us what to do. But we went and picketed and rollerblading at 18th and main and we chanted, Don’t skate, integrate. And then we went in. For some reason I don’t know what the what the plan was, but we won. We desegregated that roller rink and I was, what, 16? And I thought that was so cool. And this is another sport I can play, you know, obviously played all sports. And so I just from the very first moment in my career, we had a victory. And I just assumed, I have assumed ever since 1962, which is now 60 years, that we would win. And so I then had the great good fortune to go to the University of Michigan.
Harvey Wasserman: And there I joined the Michigan Daily, the student paper. And I had another astounding experience, actually, I was the editorial director in my senior year. That means that I ran the editorial page, which to other people we were a six day a week paper was a big paper. The Michigan Daily still is. And I came in on a Saturday in January of 1967, and I didn’t have anything. I had the whole paper, whole page to fill. I had nothing. So on the right side you could easily take stuff off the wires. And we had lots of syndicated stuff, so that wasn’t hard. But the left side, you had to write your own stuff. And I had been thinking for a while about writing an editorial for legalizing pot. I didn’t smoke pot. I didn’t really know much about it except that I like the smell and I saw no reason why it should be illegal. So I just said okay. And I wrote a piece called “The Use of Marijuana — It should be legal.” And I went back. The guy previous to me is editorial director Jeffrey Goodman, and he actually knew a lot about pot. And I went back and he had written an article for legalizing pot about a year prior. So when he got it, I took all his research and I just moved things around and I wrote the editorial and we were a morning paper.
Harvey Wasserman: I sent it down maybe 9:00 / 10:00 at night, and then I just happened to be the campus stringer for the United Press. They hired kids on various campuses and sent them articles and they paid you five bucks. Now five bucks back then. You could you could buy to do this for five bucks. So I know. Nine, ten. And they said the thing about it, I called UPI in Detroit and I said, Hey, you’re not going to believe this. Some crazy hippie just run an editorial in the Michigan Daily advocating pot. And they got they got totally excited and they told me to wrote it. Write it up. Now, back then, you didn’t get a byline as a stringer. It was just special to the UPI, right? So I wrote the piece about my piece and they didn’t notice that I was writing about my own article. And, you know, of course it was by Harvey Wasserman, but they didn’t they didn’t put one one the one together. So it went out on the wire. But I went over to in the morning, I just said, Wow, man. I filled the page and I made five bucks. What a great day. Six in the morning I get a phone call and it was ABC News in New York, one of the biggest stations in the country. And they asked me if I’d written this thing. I said, Yeah.
Harvey Wasserman: And they said, Well, so it was the first radio interview I ever did, and they went all over New York and just said, Well, you know, I’ve never smoked it, but I think it’s a civil liberty issue and blah blah blah. The second call I got was from my parents in Columbus saying, Hey, you know, you’re in the paper. They didn’t know anything about that. I didn’t care. I just thought it was cool. I was in the paper, you know. So what happened was that back then, before the 24 hour news cycle, nothing ever happened on Saturday. And so anything that you got on the wire was going to go everywhere, because all the papers in the world had these big Sunday editions right when they sold cars and garden equipment and stuff like that. But there was never any news. So my article was in probably every country, in every paper in the world, let’s see. And I wound up getting well, why don’t you think about it? Why in January 1967, what if the world news that a college kid writes an article for legalizing pot? But, you know, the mindset back then was, well, this is like, you know, this is unbelievable. And we had a governance board of adults that at the Daily didn’t mess with us usually, but they wanted to shut the paper down. Of course they did, you know, for having somebody advocating legal pot.
Harvey Wasserman: But there you go. So I did about three, three, four weeks of you know, I was on all the big TV shows and all that stuff. And then and I always said the same thing. I said, Well, I’ve never smoked it, but I think it’s I don’t see why it should be illegal. And then at the end of that round of stuff, I went out and actually smoked it and it turned out I still like the smell after all these years, but it does make me dizzy. I don’t smoke pot after all these smoked it for about five years and now I’m getting into meditation. But, you know, being at the University of Michigan in the 1960s was like being in paradise. I mean, it was just phenomenal. I got involved in the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement in 1966, actually the summer of 66, the paper flew me down. We had a budget and they flew me down to Mississippi and I marched with Martin Luther King and the James Meredith March. I actually shook Dr. King’s hand for a nanosecond, but he seemed like a nice guy, and it was a great shock to me, one of the great shocks of my life that I was actually taller than Martin Luther King, five, ten years, about five, seven. You know, I couldn’t believe how could I be taller than Martin Luther King? But there you go.
Jay Velázquez: Well, I’ll tell you these days, if you can get forget a college pay, if you can get your, you know, the county paper record to pay for your pens and notepads, you’re doing good these days.
Harvey Wasserman: Well, those days and hopefully they’ll come again. And I still know the woman who is the summer editor, Charlotte Walter. And, you know, some things don’t change. So I just had a dinner, my wife and I, a few months ago with six or seven of the people that I was on the daily with. And they all had phenomenal careers.
Jay Velázquez: Interesting that is.
Harvey Wasserman: Right now, you know. Yeah. So the way life works, at least in my case, is things somehow happened as the long story. But I wound up on a hippie farm in western Massachusetts and that was paradise in the town of Montague, just on the east side of the Connecticut. And we got there because the FBI literally destroyed our or tried to destroy our news service. We had a thing called liberation news service. They infiltrated us and push came to shove our group load up on this incredibly beautiful farm in the town of Montague. And we all the stories that you heard about those hippie farms are true. And that was paradise. And I was there from 1968 until I went back to Ohio, where I grew up in the mid 1980s. So in 1973, the last month in 1973, we, we were writing and raising organic food. The first decision we made when we got to Montague Farm was to not use chemicals. And we wound up we didn’t know anything about it, but it just seemed like, hey, let’s do this. And we have a book called The Organic. A guide to organic gardening and farming from the Rodale Press. And they advocated no chemicals we inherited. When we got to this point, we inherited one of the great legacies that you can get at a farm, which which is a barn full of manure. It was a dairy farm and there was just a hundred years of manure there. And we spent it all on this beautiful piece of turf that became our garden. And we were written up in organic Gardening and Farming magazine, which is still operating in 1970 as sort of like pioneering a new generation of organic food. And that became $1,000,000,000,000 industry. And then in 1973, I’ll never forget this, we get the local paper, the greenfield recorder, which I assume is still there.
Jay Velázquez: It’s still.
Harvey Wasserman: There. And on the front page, there was an aerial photograph of this piece of land four miles from our house called the Montague Plains. And it was a geological anomaly. It was like a sandy beach in the middle of the Berkshire foothills, and superimposed was an artist’s rendering of a nuclear power plant. The for Mars my house. Now, luckily, I was an expert in nuclear power because I had done a report on it in ninth grade, which was cribbed from our friend The Atom, and which I had gotten from my bar mitzvah. So I actually knew how nuclear plant works and we all just we didn’t have a meeting or anything. We just all instinctively said, you know, him being chased by a fox, we’re not going to let this happen. And we were all seasoned activists in the antiwar movement, the civil rights movement. And most of us were college grads. And we were writing books and making movies. And, you know, the whole area that whole area in western Mass was just really alive in the early seventies. There were communes everywhere. And we’re part of the five college area and people were raising pot and the war was still going on and we just said, Oh, we’re going to stop them. And we coined the phrase No Nukes. We put a bumper stickers and T-shirts and did everything you do to organize. We have referenda. And then they never came in, the bulldozers never came in. And then the the area the Montague Plains got designated as a conservation area. So you can go to the money. You put things right the way down on your back and look up at the sky and and know that you’re right there where there would have been an atomic power plant.
Jay Velázquez: So those those listeners who because, you know, I have listeners who probably don’t know that they’ve visited the area. They might have visited the Montague Plains and not known that it almost was destroyed. I want to back up just a tiny bit and thank you for the thank you for doing that for for saving that. You mentioned liberation. Go ahead. Oh, I’m sure it was me.
Harvey Wasserman: It was really a total pleasure, but go ahead.
Jay Velázquez: Well, the I mean, you do have a track record of winning, which is which is I was going to ask you how you managed to keep positive, but I guess you’ve gotten a couple of wins at critical points that sort of propelled you forward, ever, ever forward. You mentioned liberation. Are you talking about the liberation news service? Yes. So that was your group? That was Raymond Mungo? Yeah. Ray was a graduate of Boston University and Marshall Blum.
Harvey Wasserman: And there’s a wonderful film. There’s a film you can see all about it. It’s called Under the Ground. A Higher Commitment is done by PBS in Rhode Island. Under the ground, the Liberation News Service really worth seeing and a fascinating story and just, you know, stuff you couldn’t make up, as Yogi Berra would say. But the point is to be to have a successful life and to be in the winning side of issues, you have to be. Right. Right. It was right. That part should not be illegal. And, you know, just I just took a bunch of CBD to get to sleep last night and you know, there’s now a multi don’t even know about CBD. I mean I guess one or two or three people but you know, and so it was right to advocate legal pot, the civil rights movement. It was right that people of color should have have their rights. The war in Vietnam was a complete catastrophe. You know, everything we did to oppose the war in Vietnam within a nonviolent framework was the right thing to do. And nuclear power has been a complete mess, I mean, a total curse on humankind. And here we are. I got to say, after all these years, starting in 73, it’s now.
Harvey Wasserman: 50 years next year fighting nuclear power. And there were still. Right. And this one has been really persistent. I mean, the one Vietnam is long gone. The civil rights movement, of course, is still with us in many ways. But we’ve gotten over some major mountains here. But the nuclear power, these idiots are still building these plants. And we got 92 of them in the US. We shuttle well, as best I could tell, there were about at the peak there were about 250 or 60 nuclear reactors ordered for the United States one way or another. More than half of them were canceled before they ever got built. We came through another 40 or so, so we’re down to 92, but any one of these 92 reactors could do incredible harm, heal millions of people, destroyed trillions. I mean, just if any one of the major reactors in the United States went off and we have a Chernobyl era, a Fukushima, the damage to the American economy would be irreparable, the ecology would not recover. And I’m involved, in a way, fighting the worst of these two reactors on earthquake fault at Obispo in the middle of the California coast. That if, God forbid, one of the earthquakes, one of the many earthquakes is cooling, the San Andreas goes off.
Harvey Wasserman: We’re going to have California’s going to be a dead zone and the radiation will pour all over the United States. And this is absolute reality. I mean, we saw I went to Three Mile Island nine months after the accident and I interviewed people there. People were dead and dying all over the place. Everybody tells you nobody died at Three Mile Island. They have no idea what you’re talking about. I went to Chernobyl. I went to Kiev ten years after the accident and was confronted with the horrible impacts of that catastrophic and totally avoidable disaster. And Fukushima. I was that before the accident I was in Japan in the 1970s. I marched in major demonstrations against nuclear power in Tokyo in 1976 and 77, and everybody said, look, you’re building nuclear reactors. All the earthquake zone is washed by tsunamis. Are you crazy? And you know, the Japanese government, tens of millions of people in Japan marched against Fukushima and other reactors like this, saying exactly what was going to happen, you know, and then we were pooh poohed by the government. And then in 2011, there it was. I will never go to Japan again. Why?
Jay Velázquez: Why is it that those people who were so condescending when you were trying to explain what the dangers were, why is it that we never hear about them after one of these things happens? Like, you know, with Fukushima, obviously, I’m not following the Japanese press that much, but certainly there must be people who were just so high and mighty assuring the public that nothing can go wrong. Where what happens to these people? Do they just somehow manage to skate?
Harvey Wasserman: Well, when things go wrong, they’re up there saying there’s no damn dangers that can harm you. Right. These people say, oh, well, you know, minor, minor problem, but there’s no radiation. And they say that Three Mile Island, it’s a lie. They say Chernobyl, that a small number of people died at the lie. And they say at Fukushima, now that nobody’s being harmed, it’s a lie.
Jay Velázquez: So basically they’re like, they’re pitbulls. They just sink their teeth into it, into the lie. And they just keep they just keep grip on that forever. Hey, I want to ask you about.
Harvey Wasserman: The role model. They got the Donald Trump template here. Just when things go terribly wrong, you just stand there and line by line pretend nothing’s wrong.
Jay Velázquez: It seems to work. I never would have thought, you know, 20, 30 years ago, I never would have thought that somebody could just stand there and say things that are so demonstrably false. Not just like there’s no a gray zone. No, they’re demonstrably false. And you can just sit there and say them. Now, there are people.
Harvey Wasserman: Who know me, 1984 reading Animal Farm. I mean, these these the models that they use.
Jay Velázquez: Yeah, actually, it’s fascinating to even even Robert Heinlein wrote a book called Stranger in a Strange Land, which is probably pretty big when you were in college also. And strangely, it does not get the press that it deserves because it also predicted in a post-truth era. I want to ask about good writing.
Harvey Wasserman: It’s like the composers that came after Beethoven and they were all great, but nobody could match the Masters. So once 1984 was written, you know, nobody’s beaten by today’s foreigner. You can still sit down and read 1984 and be blown.
Jay Velázquez: Away, which is why it’s not required reading in most high schools anymore because it’s too close to the truth. So I want to ask I want to ask about the the argument that I hear all the time. But the designs are safer now. It’s we can we can build them now. They’ll be safe. We don’t have to worry. We know what we’re doing now. Is there any veracity to that?
Harvey Wasserman: None. It’s the pinnacle of stupidity and arrogance. And here’s the situation we’re in with nuclear power. They built, as I said, you know, about 250 orders and they’re down to 92 reactors. There’s a generation of large reactors from three or 400 megawatts up to about 1200, which is these are big. But the big ones have been a catastrophe in every way imaginable, including economically. So the last of these big reactors is coming through the pipeline. This is United States. I mean, around the world, there are other things going on. But in the U.S., the last of the two, the two last big ones are invoked. Vogtle. Georgia, they originally supposed to be $14 billion coming in. They’re still not done and they’re over 30. And the big issue, the quiet issue in Georgia election this year is a lot of different issues in Georgia. It’s a really key state. But is are they going to be able to get these reactors into the into the rate base because you’re talking about $30 billion, but nobody’s going to do it again. Nobody’s going to build any more big reactors. So there’s that switch to small reactors, which is somebody piped during Bill Gates, apparently, and they want to build small reactors and we call them mini bombs. They want to put them all over the country. And but they’re not going to be. They’re still basically trying to get these built. They’re not going to have any until four, six, seven years. So the bottom line is we have a six, seven year gap here where our main priority of life is to shut the old ones, because I’m terrified.
Harvey Wasserman: I’ve seen that we know what they can do. I did not go to Chernobyl, but I was 80 miles. I certainly know what’s going on at Fukushima, so we don’t want that. Our number one priority is to get these reactors shut, but they’re not going to build any new big ones. And they’re eight, six, seven, eight years away from getting the small ones in the interim. And this is one of the great miracles of their life. And this is what gives me positivity. And more than hope is that when we first started fighting the nuke, a guy from my farm minister organized what was called a Talk Tomorrow Fair at UMass and in 1975. And there were two big thinkers there, Leo Evans, and a guy named William Hieronymus, who was a professor at UMass. And he was Hieronymus was talking about windmills, offshore windmills. There will be five megawatts, which at the time was big enough to be considered completely of. And this guy was viewed as kind of a gyro guru. So now they’re building 15 megawatts offshore. Mean we’re getting windmills offshore. They can be almost as tall as the Empire State Building, and they’re incredibly cost effective. They’re just starting to come online now. But there’s absolutely no doubt that they will work, that they’re going to be huge, and that they will produce a very substantial percentage of our electricity. And ironically, a lot of them are going to send electricity straight into the switching stations where the nuclear plants were like Maine, Yankee and Vermont. But. Seabrook When we finally got it.
Jay Velázquez: Shut in New Hampshire, yeah, there’s a certain there’s a certain symbolism to that that I think is enjoyable.
Harvey Wasserman: Yeah, well, it’s also profitable. So but the bottom line is we use when we’re when we’re fighting the nukes, people would say, well, what are you going to have for the power? And we said, wind, solar. We had no idea what we were talking about, but they looked good. And the bottom line is that they have absolutely exploded one of the great technological revolutions in human history. Is that the stuff we advocated actually works and works better. If you projected from today, it looks at 1975 how good these wind and solar technologies have become. People would have said I was completely unrealistic. But the reality is that this industry is going straight up in cost effectiveness and size and applicability.
Jay Velázquez: Probably a good time to bring in Solartopia.
Harvey Wasserman: Yes, I wrote a book. Well, the vision. I had a vision. We all had a vision that the whole world could operate on renewable energy. So I wrote a book, I can’t even say it was 2005, basically laying out what the world would look like if we had 100% solar energy. So I have a mythological plane line anybody wants to write me. By the way, I’ll send you a PDF of this book — [email protected]. So it’ll be a gmail. Just write me so. The idea was this guy flies or actually engendered. Narrator looks down from Munich. In Germany, they had the first hydrogen filling station. And actually the real genesis of the book was that I got a grant from some friends of mine, 7500 bucks to write a book on the hydrogen hydrogen economy. There was a brief six month period where everybody was talking about hydrogen. And so I sat down to write a book about the hydrogen economy, and I realized it wasn’t going to work because hydrogen is not a it’s not a natural fuel, it’s just hydrogen. You have to separate it. And so what you get from the energy you get from hydrogen is really just all you put into it. And but I spent the money, so I had to come up with something. So I said, okay, all right, I’ll write Solartopia, which is a mix that has solar panels with big wind farms, things like that. But the bottom line is, again, in my life, in our lives, as a generation, the stuff worked. If we had advocated wind and solar in 75 and by 2022 had blown out, we’d be saying, Oh Jesus, I guess we were wrong, but we were right, for God’s sakes. We don’t know why, but was one of the biggest industries in the history of the world.
Jay Velázquez: Now, I suppose when you look at it, the time frame, when you see the the distance we’ve come, then it is cause for optimism. It is cause for hope. I think one of the things that makes me that gives me hope for is that other technologies will not have to fight so hard. I mean, because there are other excuse me, perfectly clean, renewable generation models such as there’s a sterling engine, for example. The sterling engine is basically it’s an air exchange of hot air and cold air. There’s a chamber that’s a hot chamber, and then there’s a cooling chamber. And as the air in the hot chamber heats up, it pushes a piston up. And then as the air cools, it pushes the it pulls the piston back down, creating a chug, chug, chug, chug, chug motion. Not very good for like high performance racecars, but you can build them such that in the United States, Department of Energy has one out in Nevada that’s been running for 20 years that can could power. They’re not using it to power it, but they could power all of us. Las Vegas, by focusing the heat of the sun with parabolic mirrors on the hot chamber and then the cooling chamber only you only need a seven degree differential.
Jay Velázquez: So the cooling chamber only has to just be, you know, regular, you know, ambient temperature. So these are the sorts of things that people are finally beginning to see. You know what? For certain places that get a lot of sun, obviously not New England, but for certain places, this could be an additional source. So I’m really bullish about it. If we don’t kill ourselves or wipe ourselves off the planet, taking half the species with us before we achieve these these solar utopia visions. And I guess I want to I want to pivot here because we can return to I could talk about renewable energy all day, but I do know that we have a real critical election coming up in in November. The midterm elections often undo a lot of the good that that gets started in the first two years of a presidential administration and can basically cause it can cause the was the cause a lame duck period early on. And there’s a lot of concern that there are going to be some real shenanigans. Oh, real shenanigans. And you are going to be speaking with Marianne Williamson next. It’s going to be September 25. I lost the page.
Harvey Wasserman: It’s afternoon and it’s going to be livestreamed so people can again write me [email protected] and I have been well and again in the cavalcade of unintended consequences of my life. I, I wound up I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I was born in Boston. But we move to and I grew up in Columbus and then went back there in the eighties after 20 years of hippie heaven. And I was teaching at two colleges in central Ohio, teaching U.S. history, which led to my writing my history book. I’ll also send people free if you want a free PDF. It’s called The People’s Spiral of U.S. History. The Long Story Behind It. Maybe I could talk about it someday. I’d love to do that. You’re a great interviewer. I’m happy to stay with you. By the way, if you want to go for the full hour, it’s fine with me. So what happened was I was living in Columbus. I had a buddy, technically my colleague, but we were just great friends, Bob Petrakis, and he was a professor at Corbett State Community College, a full professor of political science. And I was an adjunct teaching history, which was that the janitor made more than I did. But, you know, he worked harder, so.
Harvey Wasserman: And anyway, in November, we all know what happened in the election of 2000 where Greg Powers, the governor, had shown that Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, disenfranchised more than 90,000 people. Everybody since Florida 2000 has been screaming at Ralph Nader, which is outrageous. Ralph had nothing to do with the, you know, George W Bush stealing the 2000 election. But we had this history of a stolen election. And then in 2004, Bob, who’s quite a genius, kept telling me all the ways that the Bush Cheney, Karl Rove apparatus was stealing the Ohio election. And long story short, he kept he fed me this information, and I wrote these articles up and we put them out on the Internet. And I got a primer in how elections are stolen. We put out six books about this. We couldn’t get John Kerry to do anything about it. We get the Democratic Party. We’ve always got a more hostile response from the Democrats and from the Republicans. But the bottom line is that since 2004, I have been involved in the election protection issue, and we know a hundred different ways they can steal the 2022 election. We have to stop them. So I now run a co convened a Zoom call every Monday at 5 p.m.
Harvey Wasserman: where we have about 100 people we’ve been going for. This will be 108 coming up. So we’ve been going since April 2020 discussing how to protect elections and how to win elections. And we basically put bring people together who are involved in election protection. We did an amazing thing, actually, in 2018 and the 2021 elections. We brought together people from Georgia who pioneered great grassroots organizing. A woman named Andrea miller, who has something called the Center for Common Ground, and a guy named Ray McClendon, who’s now the political director of the Georgia NAACP. And we did a template is available on our website. You might want to look at it. Anybody can look at it. Our website is https://grassrootsep.org/ And we have basically a handbook or a guide on how to do grassroots organizing for elections. And that’s how that’s how we got to do it in 2022. Or we can get cream. I mean, fortunately, the Trump influence, they have really put up some bad candidates. And I think there’s a pretty good the Democrats will keep the Senate. The House is going to be really difficult.
Jay Velázquez: Well, it’s it’s it’s it’s tough to say. I was listening to excuse me, there’s a show, a YouTube show called Breaking Points with Crystal and Sagar. It’s Crystal Ball who had been involved in Bernie Sanders campaign and Cigar and Jedi, who is a sort of the old style conservative sort of fiscal conservative, not so much, not so much as sociological conservative, but they have sort of a back and forth show every, I think, three or four days a week. And they were talking about how if if the Democrats know what they’re doing, they could conceivably pick up a couple of seats in the House and maybe even in the Senate, which would mean that we don’t have to care as much about what Chris Kirsten Cinema and Joe Manchin have to say, which I you know. I do not understand how these two Democratic senators have managed to derail so much of the policy, the platform that Biden had laid out, which was essentially not even his platform. It was bits and pieces of Bernie Sanders campaign that they repackaged to please the progressives or is mollify the progressives. Why is it that the Democrats since 2000. I was a reporter. I stayed up all freaking night on that for that election waiting. Gore, you know, Bush, Gore, Bush, Gore. I waited. I waited. I waited. It never happened. Obviously, we had to wait as a country for another couple of few weeks while the Supreme Court was getting ready to throw it to Bush illegally. Throw it to Bush? But why is the Democratic Party so lame when it comes to protecting its own interest?
Harvey Wasserman: Well, it’s late period. And the Democratic Party lost its soul in Vietnam and Jimmy Carter came in. He had one good year. And much of my people spyro of US history, I think was five years history, the whole United States. And when I got to Clinton, I just wanted to stop. But Clinton is the Clinton people don’t understand writing a whole history. I think I worked on it literally for 50 years. The worst part of it was writing about Clinton. People don’t understand what a miserable President Bill Clinton was, horrible president. I actually think that the world would be a better place if Clinton had not been elected in 1992. I think George George won quite a bit, by the way, in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1980. You know, back then you could go on the primaries and and you can meet all these guys. I met Ronald Reagan. The minute I saw Ronald Reagan, I knew he was going to be president. I mean, this guy was just total charisma.
Jay Velázquez: Too.
Harvey Wasserman: Slick. More slick. He was he really had a powerful presence. Ronald Reagan. But but George I Bill Clinton completely destroyed the Democratic Party. He was a horrible president. Tell me one lasting achievement from the Clinton administration. I’ll tell you the only one the only thing that Bill Clinton really accomplished was to open a national dialog on oral sex. That’s about all he accomplished in his eight years. So what with dad handing the presidency to George W Bush? So the bottom line is that the Democrats have been corporatized and we now have the major struggle in our country is the struggle to make the Democratic Party a progressive entity. And, you know, just like you have to understand, the fossil nuclear industry is holding on for dear life because they are about to be completely made, totally obsolete and put in the ashcan as a radioactive ashcan of history. And the real engine of social change in terms of the energy is rooftop solar, because we now have the ability for everyone to control their own power source. And believe me, these industries even today are fighting tooth and nail. That’s why you’re having a so-called nuclear revival, is because the utility industry cannot hang on against rooftop solar energy. Rooftop solar, you can take down the wires. You need these guys. So with the Democratic Party, the Clintons in the eighties just sold whatever progressive instincts were left to the Democratic Party. They just took them and packaged them up and did their nice smiley face kind of thing, but they delivered nothing.
Harvey Wasserman: If you look at the Clinton administration’s accomplishments for social justice, for the environment, for anything virtually nil. And, you know, it was actually Bush won who ended the Cold War with Nancy Reagan. By the way, Nancy Reagan was one of our better presidents. You know, I mean, we’ve we’ve had two women who’ve run the United States in lieu of their husbands mental collapse. The first was Woodrow Wilson’s wife, Ida. She was miserable. And by the way, Woodrow Wilson was the very worst president in the history of the United States, much worse than Trump. And maybe someday we’ll talk about that. And then the second, it’s very clear that Ronnie Reagan was out of it by 84, 85, both his son and one of the right wing guys. O’riley I’m pretty clear on that. And Nancy took over there. She was pro-choice, by the way. Nancy Reagan, right? She was actually you know, she was a horrible person in many ways, but she wanted to end the Cold War. When they when they say the Reagan end of the Cold War, they’re partially right. It was Reagan and Gorbachev, but it wasn’t Ronald Reagan. It was Nancy Reagan. She wanted it. She wanted a legacy. And she wasn’t crazy. And anyway, long story. But the bottom line is the struggle now in American politics is the struggle for the Democratic Party. You know, just like Trump is now taking over the Republican Party, we need a progressive Democratic Party.
Harvey Wasserman: Bernie Sanders is one of the great heroes in all of history. And I will tell you that the the single major most important transitions going on in the human race and this is a major theme of the people’s family’s history is the transfer of power from men to women. You know, it is more than. I’m kind of trivial sidelined. Women are different, for God’s sakes. And you have to remember that the indigenous tribes of North America were almost all run by women. They were matriarchs. And this idea that white people came to North America and there was a wilderness and there were these primitive whatevers that quite human red people running around. This is a huge myth. As a matter of fact, the most advanced democracy in human history was the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois were the inspiration for American democracy. And we had Greece and Rome, but they were way, way, way behind the Hudson. And so there were a few colonists who were smart enough to pick up on it. Most importantly, by far, Ben Franklin, who is, as far as I’m concerned, is the most important single figure in Western history. But there was a wonderful documentary made about the Iroquois and they they asked the indigenous elder and they said, why is it that if the women run the tribes, the men are the chiefs? And she said, Well, it makes them feel important and it gives us something to do.
Jay Velázquez: Like like any well run household, frankly. Exactly. Exactly. But but but here’s the thing I just mentioned, Kirsten cinema. You know, you said that Bernie Sanders is a real hero. And we talked about how Nancy Reagan was actually really the president for the last four years or so. A lot of people have suggested that while Bill Clinton had an emotional intelligence, he had a good knack for reading a crowd from reading the room. It was really all Hillary when it comes to what were the policy objectives, what was the agenda? A lot of people have suggested that it really was HRC who set that agenda. So while I would love to give women credit for being a source of goodness and light, there are plenty of examples in modern history that suggests that you have got to kind of keep an eye on them, too. Right. I mean, you know.
Harvey Wasserman: Well, she she failed. She failed. She failed. She wasn’t she she I met Hillary Clinton a couple of times. And, you know, she was too conservative. She was a Goldwater Republican growing up. She could have done health care, but they wouldn’t they wouldn’t discuss single payer. She she couldn’t afford health care. And you’re right about that. She probably spent a fair amount of the agenda, but the agenda didn’t get through. And then she lost the presidency in 2016. Who loses an election to Donald Trump, for God’s sakes? Yeah. So she was not the right person. A woman could have come forward. That would have been a lot better. But she was not the one. And at some point, I mean, look at Europe. You look at Angela merkel, you look at the woman that I just saw a little clip on YouTube, the two countries, the one determining factor and how well countries did in their response to the COVID was that the countries that were run by women statistically, hugely, had lower death.
Jay Velázquez: Rates. I think New Zealand was one of them. Yeah.
Harvey Wasserman: And you’re looking at you’re looking at women like Goldberg because she did a center. Right. But you know what? When Fukushima happened, she said, okay, we’re taking down our nuclear plants. Clearly the right decision. And, you know, you hear all this yapping. Look how France is responding to the crisis, have two reactors in France and shut 55 reactors. Half of them are shut. They can’t run them. So Angela merkel, there are examples of other women who yes, Hillary was clearly a determining factor in the administration, but not she didn’t have it. Nancy Reagan actually was pretty good. So there you go. We’ll see who comes next. But when you have all this hoopla about Liz Cheney, you’ve got to remember how right wing her her voting record is. She voted with Trump 90% of the time. And before this thing with Trump, we used to refer to her as the spawn of Satan. So.
Jay Velázquez: You know, Democrats the Democrats are the polling shows that if the election were held today, Democrats would vote for Liz Cheney.
Harvey Wasserman: Yeah, they would. Wow. She’s really great. She’s a great hero. She stood up to this guy and he is a Hitler, a Donald Trump. The thing that people like Hitler, Putin, Trump, Stalin, Mao, these horrible dictators in history are they have no compassion. They have no empathy. That’s what defines them. They’re almost like a different species. And so what Liz Cheney did was incredibly important. Is he Trump is extreme, still remains somewhat dangerous. But, you know, she she played a major role and as did, by the way, Stephen Colbert, you have to remember that, you know, in the nonviolent world, the number one tool against a dictator is ridicule. Nobody does ridicule better. Stephen Colbert, I do want to mention, by the way, in terms of women, we do have a great event coming up with Marianne Williamson, one of the truly great women of our era. And it will be September 5th. It’s going to be online. People should write me directly or topia at Gmail. Maybe you’ll carry it. We can or we can get you to interview her. She’s a magnificent person and so emblematic. She was a great candidate. I love that she ran. I thought she handled herself very well. People.
Jay Velázquez: Yeah. I want to talk about I want to talk about her because I’m fascinated by her as a person. I’m fascinated by her as a candidate. And I do run an online 24 hour a day radio station. So I would love to carry that and we can talk about that. But the thing that I think that Marianne Williamson, the importance that she has for a lot of people, is that she does not separate out. And this you know, this is kind of the the the other side of the coin to the Christian the the the theocratic notions of modern Christianity and United States. She also is not afraid to allow her spiritual. Corps. To inform her policy beliefs. But she does it in a way that is not prescriptive. She does it in a way that’s, as I said, informative. She has been the subject of some scorn because of her, her spirituality, and how she’s open about it. But at the same time, there are a lot of people who seem to be who are coming around to the idea that humanity is at stake in addition to the environment and a lot of other species. But there is a human element that has been missing from politics. All the blood has been drained out of it from corporate, you know, ever since, certainly Citizens United before that. But Citizens United really was the nail in the coffin and that until we bring back a humanity, and if that means to some people a spirituality and individualistic spirituality is fine, we’re not going to get the change that we need, because nothing is motivating people today to to do the hard things. People are motivated to do the hard things when they have a spiritual connection to the earth, to the ecosystem, to their fellow human beings. What do you have to say about that? Is there a place for some kind of spirit in our policy?
Harvey Wasserman: There has to be. You know, all these people, all these right wingers running around calling themselves Christians, our Jesus would be appalled and horrified. Marianne Williamson’s spirituality is very simple. You know, the critical element that’s missing in our human society is empathy and compassion. And there’s no greater pressure of empathy and compassion than Marianne Williamson. And so, again, please join us, people. September 25th. Email me directly from Whitopia at Gmail and I’ll give you the. We don’t have the URL yet, but it’s going to be livestreamed out of that.
Jay Velázquez: And you’re going to be talking about this stopping the election steal.
Harvey Wasserman: We’re going to be talking about grassroots organizing. The big thing that has to change with the Democratic Party, in addition to making it an actual progressive force, is the type of campaign being done. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, you know, with their endless emails and they buy ridiculous TV ads that their high paid consultants make commission on. We want grassroots organizing. That’s how two Democratic senators were elected in the state of Georgia. For God’s sakes, a black guy and a Jewish guy, right? I mean, come on. As a historian, I can basically tell you the odds on that. And, you know, it’s done with grassroots campaigning. So we have these Monday. This is the Miriam’s presentation that’s a benefit for the Grassroots Emergency Election Protection Coalition, or Greek. We do these calls every Monday. Again, write me sort of your Gmail. I’ll put you in touch with it. And we talk for 2 hours every day with up to 110 people about how to do grassroots organizing and how to save the year. You should come on, by the way. Monday this Monday, we’re having Keith Ellison, the attorney general of the state of Minnesota.
Harvey Wasserman: And we’ve had great authors and writers. Greg Powers was just on. Miles Rapoport, many, many key organizers from around the country, both on environmental and on election protection issues. And our goal is to organize grassroots campaign. So get out the vote. We’re technically nonpartisan. We want to get out the vote and make sure everybody can can get a ballot and cast it and get it counted. What a concept. So we have great discussions about all of this and we bring together people from all over the country. Well, of course, just happened in Kansas, for God’s sakes. The state of Kansas, one of the most conservative states in the whole country, goes 6040. Right. To protect a woman’s right to choose. I mean, really clearly, the the Republicans have set the world on fire by reversing Roe v Wade and a woman. Women are not going to stand for this. And it is a hugely empowering moment. And we have to make sure that all this energy goes to actual knocking on doors, getting people out, getting their votes counted and not squandered. Hoping on clever TV ads.
Jay Velázquez: Right? Right. Yeah. No. And I think that I think that as much of a sociopath as Trump is, he’s also not stupid, because after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, he said this is going to be bad for the Republicans. He’s just going to. And he called it right, because now people are saying, oh, shit, we’ve got to start thinking about about our long term viability with an angry public. Yeah. And I think but but you’re right. You have to keep that momentum going.
Harvey Wasserman: Well, as the guy was 24 T4 sexual imposition charges pending against him, I think he might have gotten to sort of a sense of the power of women. But, you know, clearly this is the moment I think Democrats can hold the Senate. I’m praying that it flips in Ohio and Georgia. Those are the two key races, as far as I’m concerned, or whether we keep the seat in Georgia and flip the one in Ohio.
Jay Velázquez: Lastly, before, let’s assume that they do. But lastly, because I know we’ve we turned this into a double feature at the drive in. So I’m grateful that you’ve been so generous with your time, and I want to just extend it a little bit.
Harvey Wasserman: You’re a great interview. You’re very easy to talk to so.
Jay Velázquez: Well, thank you. Thank you. I, I don’t show up with just a bunch of bullet points that I want to ask about because it’s stilted. It’s stiff like that. I like conversation. The the thing about Biden is that he’s actually the architect of a lot of the things that he says he wants to undo. I mean.
Harvey Wasserman: Yes, right. His 1994 climax.
Jay Velázquez: Yeah. And the work that he’s done with with banks and and making I mean he is the part of the problem that student loans have become such a problem for people.
Harvey Wasserman: Right. Well, again, we talk about the strong woman and all the indications are that Jill is really calling the policy shots. And, you know, she’s a doctor who teaches at the community college. Yeah. For God, having taught 14 years at a community college. You know, there’s a real grassroots thing there. And I think Jill Biden, I think is. Is running the show.
Jay Velázquez: Oh, she’s got to be. And you know what? It wouldn’t be it wouldn’t surprise me entirely if he decided to step back and she decided to run. That would be. Wouldn’t that be something, huh?
Harvey Wasserman: Yeah, but, you know, I don’t think it’s necessary, but that’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that. But listen, she’s a lot of things to Hillary Clinton. Wasn’t Hillary Clinton’s problem is not that she was a woman. It was that she was Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton had no moral center. He was a terrible president. Terrible. President Obama was somewhat better, I have to say. And I would say that nobody handled the the theatrics and the management. Nobody in the history of our country and I put this in The People’s Spiral has handled the the day to day reality of being president better than Barack Obama. That was the most scandal free eight years that the presidency of the United States has ever enjoyed. And, you know, I thought the issues with him but and our callers are co-convener by the way on Mondays by Joel SIEGEL, who actually wrote the ACA, the Affordable Care Act. He was an aide to John Conyers. But listen, we got to do more of it. [email protected] Marianne Williamson will be speaking with us on September 25th. Write me and you say, come on, I will introduce you on our Zoom calls on Monday. I’ll be there. 5 p.m., 5 p.m. Eastern. Right. Me, I’ll send you the link. I’ll put you on the list. It’s a fantastic group of people and you with here you got make sure you raise your hand. Let me know I’m on and you’re on and I will. You can put your links in the chat and everybody else just join us. They’re really great cause wonderful people, about 100 people. Sometimes we use about 70 or 80 and we’ve been going for this week will be our 108th call.
Jay Velázquez: I’m looking forward to it. Harvey Wasserman, you are a real and maybe the word legend is overused, but you are a legend. I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you and this has been every bit as enjoyable as I’d hoped. The only disappointment is that we can’t just keep going on and on and on. But I will have you on the show again. We’ll talk about more stuff. And for now, stay cool, stay safe and keep the faith. Right.
Harvey Wasserman: Thank you. You’re really great. I will send you my a PDF of the people’s photo of your system, but there will be a quiz, so I’ve got to go.
Jay Velázquez: Well, you are a professor, so there it is. Much obliged. Hey, take care. Bye bye.