“Loser” – Pence Bullies Fabrications Through Debate Time Rules

By Ralph Nader
October 9, 2020

Vice President Pence “debated” Senator Kamala Harris in a way that reminded voters of how he and his boss, Donald Trump, have lawlessly misgoverned since 2017. Pence arrogantly and continually broke through the time rules that he and the Republicans agreed to obey.

Again and again, Pence blew through the two minute, one minute, and 30-second limits so he could extend his fabrications and phony promises. Again and again, moderator Susan Page of USA Today would say “Thank you” five or six times to get Pence to stop each infraction. Pence also interrupted Harris in mid-sentence, against the rules.

This boorishness should have been anticipated by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The CPD has put on presidential debates since its creation by the Republican and Democratic Parties in 1984 to replace the League of Women Voters when they couldn’t control the League’s independence (See No Debate by George Farah and his website, opendebates.org ).

That said, what about Susan Page, known as an aggressive veteran journalist (especially against Third-Party candidates)? Why did Page allow Pence to run over her repeatedly and violate the time rules? Why after several overtimes by Pence did she not admonish him to stay within the agreed-to time limits?

It was only after an exasperated Harris went briefly overtime twice near the end of the session that Ms. Page told both speakers to follow the rules. Pathetic. She lost control of the debate to abuser Pence and owes the public an explanation.

On the substance of the presentations, Senator Harris used three arrows in her quiver when she had a dozen, well known to her, that went unused.

Most astonishing was Harris not nailing Trump/Pence and Mitch McConnell for blocking the House-passed stimulus and relief bill (last May under Speaker Nancy Pelosi) that is desperately needed by tens of millions of Covid-19 impacted Americans and by hard-pressed millions of small businesses. This callous trio is willing to keep furloughed or laid-off workers from receiving $600 a week until January and stall the delivery of aid to hard-pressed local agencies, schools, healthcare facilities, the Postal Service, and other stimuli to a sagging economy.

As a lawyer and former California Attorney General, Harris avoided calling out Trump/Pence for breaking and bending the law and committing many ongoing impeachable violations of our Constitution. While Pence kept touting “de-regulation,” Harris didn’t decode that deception by illustrating the many health, safety, and economic protections destroyed by the Trump/Pence regime that favors Wall Street over Main Street. Where was the talk about the “kitchen table” necessities on the minds of Americans daily?

Harris stressed health care, but not full Medicare for All, and let Pence get away with lies about how clean our air and water are and the overall health of the environment. Under Trump – law enforcement has been brazenly abandoned.  Protecting our food, drugs, air, water, soil, and controlling greenhouse gases have been left to the whims of greedy corporate outlaws putting profits over safety.

Pence would totally ignore Page’s questions and go off on rehearsed and deceptive shout-outs. He used this escape tactic to refuse to answer Page’s crucial question about agreeing to a peaceful transition of power should the Republicans lose the presidency. Page chose not to follow up or even say “You didn’t answer the question, but we have to move on.” Once Harris used this brushoff technique when asked where she and Biden stood on expanding the number of Supreme Court Justices.

After the “debate” ended, it occurred to me that Harris completely ignored the progressive agendas of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and millions of their supporters. There was no mention of the corporate crime wave and accelerating control over the people by immune global corporations. There was no mention of strengthening union organizing laws (such as the simple “card check” promised and forgotten by Obama/Biden in 2008). There was not even a mention of a federal $15 minimum wage, lifting the stagnant wages of millions of women and men, passed last year in the House and blocked by the Senate Republicans satisfied with the frozen $7.25 per hour

If Bernie Sanders ever thought his massive mobilization of voters for the primaries in 2016 and 2020 was going to move the dominant corporate Democrats, he must be having second thoughts after both Biden and Harris, in two debates before huge audiences, turned their backs on the fast-growing progressive wing of their Party. There was not even a nod to Bernie and his many supporters.

Biden/Harris may not be able to be so dismissive of progressive Democrats and Independents should they take control of Congress next year. But don’t bet on it.

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Ginsburg Institute for Justice Needed for Our Depleted Democracy

By Ralph Nader
October 2, 2020

Jean Monnet – a founder of the European Union once said: “Nothing is possible without men, but nothing is lasting without institutions.”

I’m reminded of his observation each time our country loses a “just” Supreme Court Justice. So, what will follow after the few days of prominent encomiums at memorial events and editorial praise of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Historians will record her decisions, writings, and advocacy. Many people will celebrate her groundbreaking contributions to equal rights for women and other civil rights. Justice Ginsburg’s fervent admirers, however, should look not only at past accomplishments but to creative ways to build on a great and enduring legacy.

Several years ago, I tried to interest some of Justice John Paul Stevens’ former law clerks (many of whom became successful lawyers) to enlist their colleagues in establishing a “John Paul Stevens Institute for Justice.” In 2014, retired Justice Stevens, at age 94, had just published another book – Six Amendments: How And Why We Should Change The Constitution. This book was then the latest product in his vigorous retirement period of writings and addresses.

I wrote to Justice Stevens urging him to give a nod to his 100 or more clerks, many of whom were wealthy attorneys. He was too modest. A few former clerks showed interest, but not to the point of initiating action.

A similar attempt to persuade supporters of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor fell flat. At the time, she was pressing hard for full legal aid for poor people seeking justice and real civic education in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools.

After she retired from the Court, she criticized the 2010 Supreme Court decision – Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – that opened the floodgates for corporate campaign cash. Her former clerks did not envision an “Institute for Justice” in honor of their adored mentor.  Justice O’Connor was also honest enough to publicly acknowledge regret about her vote in the 5-4 decision to install George W. Bush as president.

Was I just engaging in fanciful dreaming about adding these new institutional oak trees for justice to replenish our depleting democratic forest? Not at all. A vibrant Brennan Center for Justice has been on the ramparts for justice since 1995. Located at New York University Law School, it was founded by the family and former law clerks of Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, who was nominated to the Court by President Eisenhower.

With an annual budget of $26 million, the tough Brennan Center for Justice has produced a remarkable output on ways to advance improvements in criminal justice, electoral procedures, and broader public participation in the circles of power.

The Center has been described as “part think-tank, part public interest law firm [that litigates] and part communications hub,” working to advance “equal justice for all.”

It started when one former law clerk stepped up, followed by more who joined the effort to create this institutional tribute to Justice Brennan. Together, they raised the seed money and this new institution was launched to implement the law as if people mattered first and foremost.

The same kind of institution can be created quickly, should Justice Ginsburg’s over 100 law clerks, from her many years as a federal circuit court judge and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, heed Jean Monnet’s words.

Given the immense goodwill and unprecedented popular fame of Justice Ginsburg, especially among women, as a pioneering lawyer and jurist, raising the basic funding should be easy. Moreover, foundations would line up to back this initiative and its projects.

For this to happen, the energy from the huge outpouring of accolades since her passing on September 18, 2020, need to be promptly transformed into an operating vision and not left as a nostalgic memory.

Some of the former law clerks who could form the core group are Amanda L. Tyler, professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley; Kelsi Corkran, who heads the Supreme Court practice at a large law firm; Ruthanne Deutsch, an appellate litigator; Elizabeth Prelogar, a Supreme Court and appellate litigator; Trevor W. Morrison, Dean of New York University School of Law; Neil S. Siegel, professor of law and political science at Duke University School of Law; Paul Schiff Berman, professor of law at George Washington University Law School; and many others who revered and were so inspired by the feisty, resilient, kind Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I’m sure that Brennan Center’s president, Michael Waldman, would be pleased to share his experience in furthering such a noble and lasting mission.

Is there any better way to compliment Justice Ginsburg’s legacy and carry forward her foundational work for the American people?  It is really entirely in the hands of Justice Ginsburg’s admirers to accomplish this worthy goal.

Perhaps the creation of the Ginsburg Institute for Justice will jumpstart the now influential former clerks of Justice Stevens and Justice O’Connor to follow the example of Justice Brennan’s clerks. It is never too late for more institutional infusions toward a just society.

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To Democratic Voters – Up Your Demands; To Trump Voters – See How He Didn’t Deliver for You

By Ralph Nader
September 25, 2020

Here is some practical advice for casting informed votes to improve the livelihoods of all Americans where they live, work, and raise their children and also to lessen their anxiety, dread, and fear.

Democratic voters should demand that the Democratic Party candidates pledge to vote to (1) raise the long frozen, federal minimum wage of $7.25 to a living wage; (2) support more efficient full Medicare for All (with free choice of doctors and hospitals and no cruel, irritating networks); (3) repeal Trump’s two trillion dollar tax cut, with additional loopholes for the rich, and huge corporate subsidies and giveaways; and to use the money to upgrade and rebuild the job-rich public works sector as well as the infrastructure in every community in the country – both in the red and blue states; (4) crack down, with law and order, on the corporate crimewave that bleeds consumers out of trillions of dollars a year; (5) repeal anti-labor laws to facilitate empowering tens of millions of workers who want to join unions to defend their economic and safety interests; and (6) accelerate the transition to a solar-based economy with better air, water, greater neighborhood self-reliance, and to reduce the devastating climate disruption from the burning of fossil fuels.

Democratic candidates will benefit by embracing such a covenant. Moreover, candidates who repeat the planks of this covenant incessantly and authentically in political communications and grassroots mobilizations will be seen as caring for the people in their daily lives and struggles in all the states of our union.

This covenant can be contrasted with the offerings of the Republican Party, which failed to adopt a new platform for 2020. Instead, the Republican National Committee (RNC) said, “The RNC enthusiastically supports President Trump and continues to reject the policy positions of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as those espoused by the Democratic National Committee today…” The RNC largely supports turning the government over to Big Business and further entrenching Wall Street rule over Main Street.

The contrast also illustrates the Republican Party’s callous indifference to the immediate desperate needs of millions of Americans. Senate tyrant Mitch McConnell is blocking the House-passed six-month renewal of the much needed $600 a week Covid-19-driven assistance for families nationwide. This and other crucial aid to states and localities is necessary to make schools safer and to provide protective equipment and other assistance to patients in hospitals and clinics, and to nursing home residents.

Monopolist Mitch is shafting his own state of Kentucky while hypocritically seeking the people’s votes for his re-election to extend his long and evil tenure in the Senate, and his more recent total toadying for Trump.

Trump and his “gangster regime” (conservative columnist George Will’s words) have failed to deliver on Trump’s phony 2016 campaign promises on health care, clean air and water, and creating millions of good-paying jobs. And, with Mitch McConnell’s help, Trump has jeopardized public health, soiled the environment, and abandoned workers to global corporations.

Now a few words for voters inclined to support dictator Donald Trump. You surely admit Trump did not deliver for you. How long can you wait? Now, Trump is gathering large crowds of supporters who, shoulder-to-shoulder and mostly without masks, listen to him scoff at the Covid-19 pandemic as he and they flaunt mask requirements in violation of state and local laws. When asked about the safety of these events, Trump ignores public safety and says that he is on the stage and safely far away from the crowd. At least dangerous Donald is not passing out little cups of bleach.

Donald Trump is the hyper-super spreader of the deadly Covid-19 virus and he is endangering the tens of thousands of people attending his rallies. Ask your physician about this ‘clear and present danger’ to public health and life.

Now, about the reasons you voted for devious Donald in 2016 other than the “anybody but Hillary” rationale. Many Trump voters want anti-choice judges. (You may not recall, for years, Trump was pro-choice.) But the hundreds of federal judges nominated by Trump are also clenched-teeth corporatists, who rule for corporations when the conflicts involve the lives of workers, consumers, and the environment. They are dyed-in-the-wool boosters of expanding big business power and control over you. These extremist judges also support big foreign and domestic corporations getting lavish tax breaks and taxpayer subsidies.

Some people like Trump’s talk about “de-regulation,” getting big government off your back. In reality, Trump is taking the federal cops off the backs of corporate crooks and de-funding the corporate crime police. This year Trump brazenly said he is stopping or limiting enforcement of the laws designed to protect consumers from companies that sell you and your children hazardous products, pollute your air and water, defraud you in the marketplace, and fail to recall your defective cars/trucks.

Trump even announced in March that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would suspend or postpone inspection of imports from abroad, including the bulk of the medicines that Trump still allows to be imported from China. One would think some serious hoodwinking or just plain lying is going on here.

Well, you might say – at least Trump cut taxes. Come-on, the vast benefits of his tax cuts went to the rich and big corporations. All those bonanzas could have been used to fix your roads, bridges, mass transits, schools, clinics, and drinking water systems. Egomaniac Trump doesn’t care about you; for him, it’s about using the government to enrich himself and his family members and to bail out his failing hotels and golf courses.

Maybe you still like Trump because he says he is against immigrants “invading” our country. Trump, however, had no problem illegally hiring undocumented workers for his golf course and his residences (and earlier for his construction projects in New York), until he was exposed. Trump has no concern for the exploited foreign workers in the meatpacking, poultry processing, and agribusiness companies owned by his campaign-contributing buddies.

Before you cast your ballot, let’s toast your informed self-respect as clear-minded voters who can see an immoral, law-breaking, greedy Trump regime full of plutocrats who couldn’t care less about America and the people they’ve exploited.

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Why Do Americans Give Away So Much Control to Corporations?

By Ralph Nader
September 18, 2020

The American people own most of the wealth – private and public – and most of the information in the country. The top one percent do not.

The American people have most of the power in the country. The top one percent do not.

These assertions may surprise you, because the top one percent and the giant corporations work overtime to control what you own. This means they do not have to seize what you own so long as their control provides them with both riches and power over you.

Let’s spell this out with specifics. Our Constitution starts with the words, “We the People…”; it doesn’t start with ‘we the corporations’ or ‘we the Congress’ or ‘we the super-rich.’ The sovereign authority under the Constitution is us; we the people are the bosses. But we give our power away to the Big Boys who run the big companies that control most of our elected politicians. The politicians in turn proceed to corrupt our elections with campaign money, gerrymandering, deceitful ads, voter obstructions, and a totally dominant two-party duopoly. This corporate state destroys competitive democracy which would give our votes meaning, choices, and effectiveness.

Shouldn’t we be discussing why, when we own the vast federal public land, one-third of America – and the vast public airwaves, do we give control of these resources to corporations every day of the year to profit from at our expense?  We give the television and radio stations, that block our voices, free control and use of the airwaves, 24/7. We receive very little in royalties from the energy, mining, timber, and grazing companies extracting huge wealth from our federal lands.

We send our tax dollars to Washington, D.C., and the federal government gives trillions of these dollars to companies in the form of subsidies and bailouts.

Trillions of dollars are devoted to government research and development (R&D), which has built or expanded private companies. These include such industries as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, military weapons, computers, internet, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and containerization.

Our taxpayer-funded R&D is essentially given away free to these for-profit businesses. We the People receive no royalties nor profit-sharing returns on these public investments. Worse, we pay gouging prices for drugs and other products developed with our tax dollars.

We have trillions of dollars in savings and retirement money placed in giant mutual and pension funds. The managers of these institutions make big profits by investing your money in the stock and bond markets. If you controlled these trillions of dollars in stocks and bonds that you own, that is if there was real shareholder and bondholder power, you would control the ownership of all the big companies and turn the tables on the Big Bosses. Polls show a big majority of people think Big Business has too much power and control over us. Nonetheless, we regularly give these plutocrats control over what we own.

We own our personal information. Yet, we give it totally free to the likes of Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube, etc. so they can make trillions of dollars selling data on what we buy, what we like, what we think, and what we’re addicted to in the marketplace. The advertisers then pester us 24/7 and even betray our trust. Imagine Alexa eavesdropping in our homes and businesses. High-tech companies should not be privy to our personal information.

Unfortunately, giving companies our personal information, from which they profit immensely and gouge and penalize us profusely, started long ago. The moment we took out credit cards, for example, we began to lose control of our money and our privacy. With the internet, companies are generating new payment-system controls, with their dictatorial fine-print agreements and never-ending additional surcharges, driven by their greedy overreaches.

People spend lots of time just trying to get through to these companies for refunds, adjustments, corrections, and simple answers to their questions.

Why have we handed over the enormous assets we own to this expanding corporate state? Why have we surrendered to statism or corporate socialism? The corporate “Borg” is sucking the ready availability of the good life, decent, secure livelihoods assured by our collective self-reliance, and the freedom to shape our future out of our political economy.

Why are we allowing the United States – this rich land of ours – to have so many impoverished, powerless people, dominated by the few? With ever greater concentration or powers under corrupt Trumpism and its corporate supremacists,  control of our lives is getting worse.

It starts with us being indoctrinated into being powerless (civic skills and practice are not taught in schools). This leads to the people not taking control of Congress (only 535 of them). We are allowing elections and debates to ignore raising these basic democratic issues of who owns what and who should control our commonwealth.

David Bollier and his colleagues are working to have adults and students learn about the commons – owned by all of us – and the few examples of people sharing in our commonwealth. Through the Alaska Permanent Fund, every Alaskan gets about $2000 a year from the royalties’ oil companies pay for taking the people’s oil from that state.

If you’re interested in reading further about the “commons” we own but do not control go to bollier.org and breakingthroughpower.org. It’s in our hands!

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Trump’s Broken Promises to His Voters – He Didn’t Deliver!

By Ralph Nader
September 11, 2020

Trump voters are not inclined to change their minds. Some of them are forever Republicans and will only vote the GOP ticket; they are called hereditary voters. Others can’t stand the Democratic Party nominees, won’t vote for the Libertarian ticket, and will only vote for Trump. Some love Trump because of his anti-immigrant stance, deregulation of law enforcement on businesses, and nominations of anti-choice and right-wing corporatist federal judges.

Yet, polls show that the one area of widespread disappointment among Trump voters (not the rich ones) is that he didn’t deliver the improvements for their livelihoods that he promised in the 2016 campaign. Many Trump voters are willing to overlook Trump’s dangerous lies, coverups, self-enrichment, the surrender of Washington to Wall Street corruption, lethal incompetence, i.e., his bungling of the Covid-19 pandemic, and personal immorality (he has violated seven of the Ten Commandments). But Trump voters expected Trump to do a little bit more to further the legitimate self-interests of the families on Main Street.

Now come two Pulitzer-Prize-winning, famously accurate reporters, Hedrick Smith, executive editor of reclaimtheamericandream.org, and Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times with lists of Trump’s broken promises. (Smith also mentions some promises Trump tried to keep, such as those which largely favor the wealthy and big businesses).

These include getting out of the Paris Climate Accord and the huge tax cut for himself and other wealthy Americans. But Trump has failed badly on many of his over 200 campaign promises in 2016 that were directed to working people.

Trump promised to create 25 million jobs over 10 years – 2.5 million jobs a year. Even before Covid-19, Trump didn’t come close, because, in large part, he didn’t push for a major infrastructure jobs bill in Congress to repair and upgrade public works in every American community.

Remember Trump’s repeated promise to bring back 7.7 million lost manufacturing jobs? At its high last February, Trump’s economy and trade policies didn’t begin to deliver. In fact, Trump encouraged Apple CEO Tim Cook to keep the company’s Chinese factories by waving tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Apple phones and computers imported from China.

Trump promised to raise wages then proceeded to keep the frozen federal minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. Under Trump’s watch, taking inflation and loss of benefits into account, Smith concludes that “workers are net losers.” But not the CEOs like the head of Walmart who makes about $12,000 per hour and benefits from Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy!

Smith refers to Princeton economist, “Alan Blinder, who pointed to academic studies that show ‘For the first time in the past hundred years, the working class today pays higher tax rates than billionaires.’” Thanks to Trump.

Kristoff has reported additional broken promises – from Mexico not paying a peso for the “wall” to Trump inciting violence, breaking laws, and bringing disorder to our streets, to altering “the terms of student loan repayments” adding $200 billion over a decade; (he promised the opposite to “our students who are drowning in debt”) to repealing and replacing “disastrous Obamacare,” Trump has failed miserably.

On July 27, 2018, Trump said, “You’re going to have a great health care at a much lower price. It will cost the United States nothing.” Sure, tell that to the frontline Covid-19 workers who are being gouged when tested and still do not have adequate protective equipment under Trumpism. Many have no health insurance or are underinsured.

Two weeks before the 2016 election, Trump said he was “proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again.” Instead, Trump has given the American people the most relentlessly corrupt regime in reported American history. From the White House to key government agencies, Trump and his cronies daily twist and break the law.

The list of broken promises could fill volumes. Compare Trump’s words and deeds and misdeeds. “We will honor the American people with the truth and nothing else.” (Over 20,000 false or misleading statements so far by the Washington Post’s reliable count). “We will end our chronic trade deficits.” (The trade deficit is bigger now than in Obama’s last year in office). That means the US is exporting jobs.

In contrast to Trump’s pledge to get rid of the $19 trillion National debt “fairly quickly,” he doesn’t care at all about piling huge debts on the children and grandchildren of America so that he doesn’t have to repeal his enormous tax cut for the wealthy and stop massive corporate welfare handouts and bailouts.

If you can endure more examples of deceitful Donald’s seduction of believing voters, go to Smith’s and Kristoff’s websites (http://reclaimtheamericandream.org/ and https://www.nytimes.com/column/nicholas-kristof).

While visiting Smith’s website note that one of his team’s most important objectives is to “introduce you to multiple issues, multiple strategies, multiple organizations that can help you start a reform movement in your own community or join forces with others.”

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Can the Democratic Party Rev the Engines to Topple Tyrant Trump?

By Ralph Nader
September 4, 2020

Why can’t the Democratic Party landslide the serial corporate criminal and government outlaw Donald Trump? He is a servant of Wall Street and, by his deeds favoring the powerful, a proven “enemy of the people.”

Why has the Democratic Party been losing again and again at the federal and state level to the worst, cruelest, soft on corporate corruption, war-mongering, anti-worker Republican Party in history?

The answers are many. The Democratic Party is indentured to monied interests and is incapable of taking responsibility for its losses and mistakes. Democratic operatives resist organized grassroots pressure and the party excludes/punishes any dissent inside its ranks. The shrinking trade unions that have historically pushed the Democratic Party are increasingly content with crumbs for workers and afraid of union members who have swallowed the Trump lies.

The two-party duopoly and an electoral system that obstructs challengers from smaller parties lets the Democratic Party stagnate. Unfortunately, the fate of the nation and our Constitutional Republic is in its hands. Joe Biden should be thirty points ahead in the polls against the delusional, falsifying, lawless, selected occupant of the White House who spends most of his time tweeting insults, lies, and fictional accusations when he isn’t watching the Fox News adoring bloviators. Instead, Biden’s lead is in single digits and he is having a hard time getting the offensive Trump on the defense. Here are some suggestions for the Democratic Party’s quivering leaders:

  1. Organize a mass demand for Trump/Pence to Step Aside and let experienced pandemic scientists and managers run the federal response to Covid-19, saving tens of thousands of lives and allowing the economy to recover. Trump’s Virus, spreading daily owing to Trump’s bungling, fabricating, quackering, chaos, denials, and grinding government scientists through his ignorant, ego-obsessed shredders, requires such a demand. It will encourage more people and state and local governments to be more assertive and insist on professional management and critical coordination by Washington.There are many Republicans in Congress who privately dread how the daily Trump Virus Show is diminishing their own electoral poll numbers.
  2. Stop Coddling, Aiding, and Abetting Corporate Crooks who are cheating and endangering the health/safety of red state and blue state Americans alike. Demand Law and Order enforcement and greater funding for the corporate crime police. By massively dismantling government law enforcement, Trump is intensifying the corporate crime wave with subsidies, handouts, bailouts, and huge tax escapes. How’s that for putting Big Business over Main Street? Let them steal, let them pollute, let them park their profits in tax havens abroad are elements of the Trumpian mantra which he brazenly applies to his own business interests.
  3. Stop Trump from committing big-time violations of our Constitution and our federal laws in order to deepen his dictatorial regime. Trump illegally uses federal employees and property to promote his political campaign – a federal crime under the Hatch Act. He seizes the “power of the purse” from Congress, spending money for unauthorized domestic and foreign objectives thereby violating the criminal statute known as the Anti-Deficiency Act. He fires prosecutors and Inspectors General closing in on his and his crony’s crimes and egregious misdeeds.
    Take on Trump when he declares phony national emergencies to grab more dictatorial powers making him the largest national emergency of them all. Trump makes it easy for the Democrats when he declares “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”Nixon was about to be impeached and convicted in 1974, before he resigned, for a tiny fraction of what the Democrats are letting Trump get away with.
  4. Announce it is time to Vote Trump Out and Vote in the long-overdue Pay Raise. Ending the freeze on the $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage and raising some 25 million workers’ wages to $15 per hour would answer the question: “Whose Side are You On?” The House of Representatives has passed a $15 an hour minimum wage bill, though with a long implementation schedule. The Republican Senate, however, blocks passage and it has blocked the $600 a week relief payment to many millions of Americans without jobs due to Trump’s Virus.
    Shouldn’t the Democrats make these contrasting, notorious corporate-driven cruelties more vivid, and more front and center? Repetition is what reaches people who are numb to years of empty rhetoric and who want authenticity. Comparing Walmart’s CEO making $12,000 an hour while many of his workers languish well under $15 per hour sharpens what should be the authentic contrast between the Republicans and Democrats.
  5. Make Mitch McConnell, the self-styled “Grim Reaper” toady of big business, who buries scores of good bills passed by the House, the number two Ogre in the campaign. The evil McConnell is the worst suffocator of necessities for the American people, their children, and retirees in American congressional history. The Democrats have listed scores of bills under McConnell’s chokehold – such as protections for poor children, fragile worker and retiree pensions (including those for coal miners in his state of Kentucky), lowering drug prices and expanding health care coverage, controlling climate disasters – to name a few. Yet, once again, they have not made “Moscow Mitch’s” record (including blocking safeguards for election security and voter’s rights) vocal, vivid, and front of center. The Democrats certainly have the campaign money to do so.
    The arrogant McConnell is up for re-election against a hyper-cautious conservative Democratic opponent. Democrats should take McConnell’s pompous boast “The one thing I get to do that the other 99 /Senators/ don’t get to do, is decide what we’re going to do.” and flood Kentucky with the truth about this malicious, destructive tyrant of the Senate and his 200 confirmed right-wing and corporate judges. McConnell’s lapdog delivery of the Senate has made possible Trump’s monarchical drive to repeal the American Revolution against Kings and for “a new birth of freedom.”
  6. Last November, 61% of women in a national CNN poll wanted Trump impeached and convicted. Certainly on their minds was Trump’s long history of being a publicly bragging sexual predator and a terrible example for boys and young men. Over twenty brave women have come forward with credible accusations of sexual assaults by lying Donald. Why aren’t the Democrats making this a campaign issue and making Trump pay a political price for such disgusting outrages? Democrats can turn the Republican Party’s campaigns on “values” against Trump and his apologists.
  7. The Democratic Party must choose to stand with the people by presenting a solemn covenant that improves all the livelihoods of all Americans and addresses the widespread anxiety, dread, and fear where they live, work, and raise their families. Help make people’s dreams of a secure, fulfilling future a reality. This specific covenant would show that the Democratic Party stands for much more specific changes than not being Trump. Make it vivid and memorable, including empowering the people in distinct ways.

If you like these suggestions, add some of your own, and call or email Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the House Democratic Caucus leader Hakeem Jeffries.

To Contact Chairman Tom Perez
Visit: https://democrats.org/contact-us/
or call (202) 863-8000

To Contact Members of Congress, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121

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Democrats Must Demolish Trump’s Delusional Law-Breaking Dystopia

By Ralph Nader

Donald Trump continually breaks multiple laws. Yet the serial lawbreaking, lying Trump is playing the “law and order” card against street protestors reacting to fatal cases of police brutality. Armed pro-Trump provocateurs are attending civic protests and generating casualties and property damage, as was the case recently in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Trump uses such mayhem to attack Joe Biden and his hyped “radical leftists.” This is grotesque, but then that is how corrupt, dangerous, devious Donald operates when cornered by falling polls, and growing opposition from leading retired military leaders and national intelligence officials. Trump’s attack on the U.S. Postal Service is also producing a nationwide backlash and even red-state conservatives are troubled by delays in deliveries of medicine and Social Security checks.

Devious Donald has a practice of doing exactly what he mostly falsely accuses his opponents of doing. It is puzzling, though not surprising, that the Democrats have not repeatedly restated the highlights from corrupt Donald’s rap sheet. Shining a spotlight on Trump, with specific indictments, would demonstrate that his actions suspend law and order in favor of dictates.

Every day Trump is committing crimes and civil violations of federal law. Every day Trump is violating the Constitution with serious impeachable offenses (December 18, 2019, Congressional Record H-12197). Do the Democrats think that the American people do not care about the rule of law and observing the Constitution that are the bulwarks against destructive dictatorial power by an ego-obsessed delusional wannabe monarch?

Yesterday’s acceptance speech to the Republican Party by Trump turned the White House into a federal crime scene. The Hatch Act states that having federal employees enable, with federal property, the political campaigns of the President is a criminal violation with serious jail time. Why? Because Congress did not want the power of the federal government to be used to further an incumbent’s political objectives against challengers. When Trump ordered Treasury Department staff to place his signature on the memo line of millions of relief checks, that was also a criminal violation of the Hatch Act. Attorney General William Barr, a Trump toady, is not about to prosecute. Barr refuses to respond to demands that he investigate this and other Trump administration violations of law.

But lawless Donald has gotten away with more serious violations such as seizing, unconstitutionally and illegally, the Congressional power of the purse and the power to tax in our Constitution. Trump moves money for purposes, not approved by Congress, from one agency to another, as for building the wall, thereby violating the Anti-Deficiency Act, which carries a criminal penalty.

Trump has defied over 100 Congressional subpoenas and more formal demands for his subordinates to testify. These are first-class impeachable offenses. The Founding Fathers provided Congress with the power to compel the disclosure of information that is critical to all other Congressional authorities.

President Richard Nixon was on the way, in 1974, to being impeached and convicted in the Senate, during the Watergate scandal, for defying just one subpoena and one count of obstruction of justice. Trump obstructs justice, the processes of law enforcement, all the time, as documented in part by the Mueller Report.

Trump talks about supporting law enforcement on the streets, while inciting his supporters to violence, yet he fires and intimidates prosecutors and Inspectors General who investigate or expose violations of law by Trump and his Trumpsters. Both his current government and personal businesses, as well as his previous ongoing personal business and taxation entanglements are under investigation by federal and state prosecutors.

The list goes on. Trump unlawfully nullifies statutory mandates by executive orders. His failure to enforce environmental, health, worker safety, and consumer protection laws is a direct violation of federal laws and the Constitution. He is dismantling these protections, driving out civil servants and scientists, and abandoning law and order for corporate crooks by defunding the corporate crime police.

Trump’s outlaw regime brags about destroying controls on pesticides (especially harmful to children), coal ash, and other sickening emissions that will attack the health of all Americans.  Trump and his henchman also recently shredded controls on the release of methane, a global warming gas many times worse than carbon dioxide.

Why don’t the Democrats use what even the Wall Street Journal has regularly exposed about Trump’s riddance of law and order to allow runaway big businesses to cheat, pollute and overcharge people, as well as to defraud the federal government big time with procurement rackets? Trump is pushing for 20 million Americans to lose their health insurance, with no substitute proposal, and weakening nursing home safety regulations – in the middle of a giant pandemic!

One answer may be that the Democrats have done some similar things when in power, especially in the area of unauthorized wars and mass surveillance of the people. However, Trump sinks to utterly unprecedented levels of outlawry and openly embraces the monarchical boast that “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

The daily tweeting, lying King, the man who boasted about abusing women, and behaving as a sexual predator, is a ruler who brings out the worst from this country. Trump deliberately divides America and stokes conflict and disruption. Trump is a reality denier and chaotic bungler who is aiding and abetting the climate crisis and preventing scientists and public health managers from controlling Covid-19, the cause of the worst global pandemic in our lifetimes. He is also blocking relief for a crashing economy and still escapes accountability.

The Democrats are not matching Trump’s own or his Party’s propaganda. In 2004, author, and former prominent Republican political analyst Kevin Phillips, argued that the Democrats go for the capillaries while the GOP goes for the jugular. By not going full force against dictator Trump, the Democrats are not overwhelmingly countering the most criminally, unconstitutionally culpable, vulnerable, and dislikable president in US history. With just over two months until the November 3rd election, a strong, independent, civic drive to oppose and vote out Trump/Pence is required. Standing on the sidelines hoping that the Democrats will retire the failed gambling czar didn’t work in 2016 and it won’t work in 2020 either.

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Democratic Convention: New Faces, Similar Policies but Sharp Contrast with Trumpism

By Ralph Nader

A national political nominating convention, as the Democrats have just completed, is, to be sure, a mutual admiration event. A steady stream of speakers led to the finale with the acceptance speech by the presidential candidate, Joe Biden. But the Convention has another declared purpose:  to show the country what the Democratic Party stands for and the future it wishes to shape for the American people.

Repetition is expected and it was no surprise that speaker after speaker attacked “inequality” and the injustices of discrimination against minorities, women, and the poor.

Intriguingly was what the three-day talkfest left out.  The Democratic Party avoided the issue of what to do about the gross maldistribution of power between the tiny few and the rest of the people in America.  This glaring omission signaled that the aggressive progressive wing of the Party – led by Bernie Sanders and youthful incumbents in Congress could have their priorities excluded with impunity by the Party bosses. The overriding desire for unity against Trump became the muzzle for most of the progressive delegates.

When unity, as if any Democrat had anything else in mind in stressing the defeat of dangerous and corrupt Donald, becomes a tool to demand unanimity on policies, alas, the Party is up to its old establishment ways.

The Biden/Harris Democratic Party looks like it will repeat the Clinton/Obama practice of avoiding major hurdles to peace and justice. Here are some glaring omissions:

  1. Trump shreds the Constitution daily with numerous impeachable offenses. He is getting away with these abuses because of the AWOL Congress’s indifference to his unprecedented dictatorial seizure of legislative authority, including his recent brazen executive usurpations of Congress’s power of the purse and taxation. Some of Trump’s acts include criminal violations of federal law.
  2. The gross distortion of the federal budget with over 50% of operating expenditures going to the Pentagon, the bloated military contractors, and the pursuit of a boomeranging, draining Empire. Speakers could have felt secure by quoting President Eisenhower’s farewell warnings regarding the military-industrial complex. Empires starve their country’s necessities and the U.S. is no exception to such misallocation of funds.
  3. There was much talk of expanding social safety net programs, but little or no discussion about how to pay for these vital programs, but no demand, other than a passing reference in Biden’s speech, to repeal the $2 trillion Trump tax cut for the super-wealthy and giant corporations like CEO Tim Cook and Apple. There was no demand to cut enormous corporate welfare payouts – crony capitalism and no push for a financial sales tax on Wall Street trading, notwithstanding recent support for that huge source of new revenue from Michael Bloomberg and Wall Streeter Robert Rubin.
  4. The corporate crime wave keeps roiling higher and higher with immense costs to regular people and their families. It would have been easy and popular to call for more law and order and adequate enforcement budgets to catch corporate crooks. Billing fraud and abuse, just in the health care industry, costs consumers and taxpayers one billion dollars a day!
  5. One would think that the unconstitutional, illegal, mass surveillance by federal agencies, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, would be worth a shout out. Privacy destruction is on people’s minds. Is this deemed too controversial for the Democratic Party?
  6. What about telling people about changes the Democrats want to make in the country’s foreign policy? What about the role of monopolistic corporations escaping taxes by using overseas tax havens, fomenting trouble, and exploiting indigenous people in foreign lands?
  7. Wouldn’t you think Convention speakers would report the crimes, misdeeds, and corporate takeovers of our government’s agencies and departments by Trump’s big-business henchmen? Look at EPA, OSHA, the CFPB, and the Departments of Interior, Labor, Agriculture, and other health/safety regulatory agencies and the life-saving and economic protections Trump and his cronies have shut down. In Minneapolis on Monday, Trump, in one fast minute, strung together his serial madcap attacks on the Democrats, who in the hours at their Convention, did not adequately return the favor.
  8. It would have been extraordinary had the Democrats addressed the Trump voters, especially those blue-collar workers who left the Democratic Party because the Party deserted them on economic/trade matters. Barack Obama did mention “white factory workers” whose jobs were displaced. But the tens of millions of low-income whites did not hear the Democrats directly saying much about working-class grievances.

It is standard practice for the presidential nominee’s team to clear drafts of all Convention speeches to make sure none stray too much from the permissible positions and non-positions of the candidate. If Joe Biden followed this practice, then what Convention speakers said and did not say reflects Mr. Biden’s range of proposed action and inaction.

However, the Democratic Convention’s embrace of replacing Trump’s deliberate chaos and confusion with recovery and rebuilding the country did seem to come through persistently over three days. The Democrats presented a contrast to the crazed, bungling, ego-maniacal Trump spewing hate, inciting violence, and emitting hourly lies.

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Needed: Indicators for Measuring Injustice and Societal Decay

By Ralph Nader

Economic indicators – data points, trends, and micro-categories – are the widgets of the big information industry. By contrast, indicators for our society’s democratic health are not similarly compiled, aggregated, and reported. Its up and down trends are presented piecemeal and lack quantitative precision.

We can get the process started and lay the basis for qualitative and quantitative refinement. Years ago, when we started “re-defining progress” and questioning the very superficial GDP and its empirical limitations, professional economists took notice. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, economists cling to the yardsticks that benefit and suit the plutocrats and CEOs of large corporations.

Here are my offerings in the expectation that readers will add their own measures:

  1. A society is decaying when liars receive mass media attention while truth-tellers are largely ignored. Those who are chronically wrong with outrageous and baseless predictions are featured on news broadcasts, op-ed pages, and as convention and conference speakers. On the other hand, those who forewarn and are proven to be accurate are not regaled, but instead, they are excluded from the media spotlight and significant gatherings. Consider the treatment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz post-Iraq invasion, compared to people like Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn who factually warned Washington not to attack illegally a country that didn’t threaten us.
  2. A society is decaying when rampant corruption is tolerated, and its perpetrators are rewarded with money, votes, and praise. When President Eisenhower’s chief of staff, former New Hampshire Governor Sherman Adams, accepted a vicuña coat from a textile manufacturer, he was forced to resign. The daily corruption of Trump and the Trumpsters towers beyond measure over Adams’ indiscretion. Yet calls for Trump and his cronies to resign are rare and anemic. Tragically, the law and the norms of decency have done little to curb the corrupt, criminogenic, and criminal excesses of Trump & company. Even government prosecutors and inspectors generals have been fired, chilled, and sidelined by Trump and his toady,  Attorney General Barr.
  3. A society is decaying when a growing number of people believe in fantasies instead of realities. Social media makes this an ever more serious estrangement from what is actually happening in the country and in the world. Believing in myths and falsehoods leads to political servitude, economic disruption, and social dysfunction. The corrupt concentration of power ensues.
  4. An expanding economy focusing increasingly on ‘wants and whims’ while ignoring the meeting of basic ‘needs and necessities’ shatters societal cohesiveness and deepens miseries of many people. Adequate housing, healthcare, food, public services, education, mass transit, health & safety standards, and environmental protections are the prerequisites for a humane democracy. The economy is in shambles for tens of millions of Americans, including hungry children. Minimal economic security is beyond the reach of tens of millions of people in our country.
  5. With few exceptions, the richer the wealthy become, the more selfish they behave, from severely diminished contributions to charities to the failure to exert leadership to reverse the breakdown of society. Take all the failures of the election machinery from obstructing voters to simply counting the votes honestly with paper records. The U.S. Senate won’t vote to give the states the $4 billion needed for administering the coming elections despite the Covid-19-driven need for expanded voting by mail. The Silicon Valley, undertaxed, mega-billionaires could make a $4 billion patriotic donation to safeguard the voting process in November and not even feel it.
  6. Rampant commercialism knowing no boundaries or restraints even to protect young children is running roughshod over civic values. Every major religion has warned about giving too much power to the merchant class going back over 2000 years. In our country, justice arrived after commercial greed was subordinated to humane priorities such as abolishing child labor and requiring crashworthy cars, cleaner air, water, and safer workplaces. Mercantile values produce predictable results, from excluding civic groups from congressional hearings and the mass media to letting corporations control what the people own such as the vast public lands and public airwaves.
  7. Then there is the American Empire astride the globe, enabled by an AWOL Congress and propelled by the avaricious military-industrial complex. In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower presciently forewarned that “[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” All Empires devour themselves until they collapse on the countries of their origins. Over 55% of the federal government’s operating spending goes to the Pentagon and its associated budgets. The military-industrial complex increasingly leads to quagmires and creates adversaries abroad, as it starves the social safety net budgets in our country. Our country’s military spending with all its waste is surging and unaudited. The U.S. spent more than $732 billion on direct defense spending in 2019; this is more than the next ten countries with the largest military expenditures.
  8. A society that requires its people to incur crushing debt to survive, while relying on casinos and other forms of gambling to produce jobs, is going backward into the future.
  9. Public officials who repeatedly obstruct voters from having their votes received and counted accurately and in a timely fashion continue with impunity to try to steal elections. Then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (now governor of Georgia) “stole” the election in 2018 from gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Abrams said Kemp was an “architect of voter suppression.” And that because Kemp was the Georgia Secretary of State during the race, he was “the referee, the contestant and the scorekeeper” for the 2018 gubernatorial election. He escaped accountability. Democracy decays.
  10. Access to justice is diminishing. Tort law – the law of wrongful injuries – has been weakened in many states with arbitrary caps on damages for the most serious injuries. It also is harder than ever for citizens to get through to real people in government agencies.

Time to conclude and look forward to your indicators of societal decay. Send them to [email protected] or CSRL, P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036. The more Americans know where their country is heading, the more they may just want to work for a better future by participating in or supporting the movements dedicated to turning our democracy around.

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Ranking the Infinite Greed, Power and Controls of Giant Corporations

By Ralph Nader

The combination of greed and power often spin out of control and challenge the enforceable rule of law and the countervailing force of the organized civic community.

When greed and power are exercised by giant multinational corporations that escape the discipline of the nation-state, the potential for evil becomes infinite in nature. Enough is never enough.

Global giant companies, aided and abetted by their corporate attorneys and accountants, can literally decide how little taxes they are going to pay by shifting profits and expenses among different tax haven countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg, and Panama.

These same companies then proceed to lobby any nation, including most prominently the United States. Congress and the White House are pushed to cut formal tax rates, pack the tax laws with loopholes, and lower further the effective tax rate. The formal top tax rate for billions of company profits is now 21%, while the actual tax rate is lower – much lower for banks, insurance companies, drug companies, and behemoth tech companies like Apple that master tax avoidance.

“Generous” is not a word one can associate either with Apple or it’s avaricious, CEO Tim Cook. One of the first moves Tim Cook made, after replacing legendary Apple Founder, the cancer-stricken innovator Steve Jobs, was to arrange a $378 million, 2011 compensation package for himself and launch the biggest stock buyback in corporate history. Apple, which is worth $1.5 trillion has spent $327 billion since 2013 to buy back 2.5 billion shares of stock. Yet Apple has done little to produce productive investments, remediation of used and very toxic Apple products when discarded, or increase pay for the 350,000 serf-labor workers in China toiling under its merciless contractor Foxconn.

Apple made $104 billion in the last 12 months, puffed up by tax-avoidance, tax cuts and a no tariff deal with Trump on its Chinese imports, yet Tim Cook has rejected pleas to spend a little over $2 billion (deductible) to award a full year’s pay bonus to the 350,000 Foxconn workers who build Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Apple’s massive stock buybacks have, however, increased the metrics to set compensation levels for Tim Cook and his executive sidekicks. Unfortunately, stock buybacks do little to tamp down excessive prices for Apple products. The massive stock buybacks also send a message that Apple’s management has no other uses for its corporate cash – not for R&D, not for improving the nature and security of its workers’ pensions, not for investing in curtailing the damaging side effects of Apple products on the environment and not for reducing other offloaded damage to society.

Tim Cook and Apple are also stingy, given their vast wealth, with charitable contributions. So stingy that Apple’s bosses do not even come close with the company’s charitable deduction limit of five percent of adjusted gross income. In 2018 Apple gave $125 million to charities. Apple’s net income for 2018 was $59.53 billion – a tiny fraction of one percent!

Recently, the New York Times published articles showing how tiny the executive pay cuts were by the very few executives who announced and declared sympathy for their laid-off and impoverished workers. The media has also been reporting illicit maneuvers developed by corporate attorneys to help chain stores get relief payments that should have gone to legitimate small businesses. (Why isn’t the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) speaking out against this abuse and avarice?)

Replacing some of their greed with generosity could be directed to the estimated $6 billion to $11 billion needed this coming school year to give low-income students full equipment and connectivity to the internet for remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. States and localities need $4 billion to assure the voting process will be fair and that all votes be counted and on time. The Republicans in the Senate are blocking the money needed to guarantee free and fair elections. Four billion dollars for the profit-glutted Silicon Valley giants Facebook, Google, Apple plus Amazon, and Microsoft, is peanuts. These high-tech digital giants could easily contribute the money needed to avert a widely predicted election time disaster and weeks of understaffed counting after November 3rd. Imagine such a show of patriotism from these companies.

Then there are the matters of woefully inadequate supplies, facilities, and training programs to counter the spreading Covid-19 pandemic that is crumbling the economy. These record-setting profitable companies, with soaring stock prices due to their monopolistic powers or consumer-gouging, should return some of Trump’s giveaway tax cuts of 2017 and the burgeoning corporate welfare payments from crony-capitalistic Washington, D.C. to help their afflicted or vulnerable fellow Americans. Many of these people are their own workers, friends, and relatives.

Economists should develop a “Hedonistic Index,” to rank the “greed-with-power” status of the 500 largest U.S. corporations.

People have the right to know how CEOs and major corporations do on the “Hedonistic Index” of greed and power. After all, at the end of the day, we are all paying the price of the full measure of the infinite avarice spiraling from these corporate supremacists and their private governments of controls.

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