Why Didn’t Speaker Pelosi Want Witnesses?

By Ralph Nader
February 19, 2021

On the morning of February 13, 2021, just before the Senate impeachment trial abruptly ended with Trump’s acquittal, Constitutional law specialist Bruce Fein and I sent the following plea to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

More than 240 years of heroic sacrifices by our forebearers to plant the seeds of a government of the people, by the people, for the people are not being furthered by your shortsighted eagerness for an abbreviated gravely historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. The trial has thus been shorn of “smoking gun” witnesses and full exposure of his daily wrecking ball against the Constitution rooted in Mr. Trump’s unprecedented, brazenly monarchical pronouncement on July 23, 2019, “Then I have Article 2, where I have the right to do anything I want as president.” Mr. Trump was as determined as his words.

He usurped the congressional power to tax and spend.

He defied hundreds of congressional subpoenas and demands for testimony or information to disable oversight and to substitute government secrecy for transparency.

He turned the White House into a crime scene with serial violations of the Hatch Act.

According to former national security advisor John Bolton, fortified by the Mueller Report, he made obstruction of justice “a way of life” at the White House.

He appointed principal officers of the United States without Senate confirmation in violation of the Appointments Clause.

He transgressed both the letter and spirit of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.

He flouted his obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed by dismantling enforcement of environmental, safety, consumer protection, and labor laws.

January 6, 2021 was but the predictable culmination of Mr. Trump’s unalloyed contempt for the Constitution and rule of law. If Article 2 crowns the president with limitless power, then to incite the use of force and violence against the legislative branch of government to prevent the Vice President from counting state-certified electoral votes, falls squarely within his vast dictatorial domain.

We submit you will be committing a dereliction of constitutional duty if you do not immediately make the demand to subpoena witnesses in the pending second impeachment trial.

The subpoenas should be issued to at least the following: Donald Trump, Mike Pence, William Barr, John Bolton, Christopher Krebs, Brad Raffensperger, Jeffrey Rosen, Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark, and Pak Byung-Jin (B.J. Pak).

Your immediate call for witnesses critical to fortifying the impeachment evidence will be the definitive test of your resolve to convict Donald J. Trump and your understanding of the serious and gravity of the impeachment charges. A trial without key witnesses possessed of crucial incriminating testimony diminishes the seriousness of the proceedings and the huge stakes for the future of the American Republic.

The haunting question that history will raise will be this: Why didn’t Speaker Pelosi call the witnesses?

The Senate resumed its trial on Saturday, February 13th at 10:00 am. Soon, came the revelation of an exchange between Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s (R-WA) on January 6th with House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), regarding his telephone conversation with Donald Trump during the storming of Congress. What followed was a call for witnesses by a Senate vote of 55-45. Eureka! The window for Republican witnesses previously rejected by Democratic House Managers was reopened. There was another chance to overcome Speaker Pelosi’s desire for a quick trial without witnesses.

Then came another reversal pressed by President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Democratic leaders told the House managers to huddle privately with Trump’s defense lawyers to strike a deal. They did. They would place a mere statement from Rep. Beutler into the trial record and call no witnesses. The Republicans couldn’t have been more delighted, knowing that the Democratic leadership wanted the trial over that day before Congress went on a week-long vacation.

Before the deal, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) predicted on NPR that there would be a call for witnesses, requiring a deferral of the trial for two weeks. How mistaken he was about his Party’s defeatism and rejection of going forward with a full hand.

They could have added to their single impeachment Article of inciting an insurrection, two more Articles – intimidating Mike Pence and others plus Trump’s refusal to call back the attackers during their riot. Those three Articles would have made for a more powerful case against Trump’s defense attorneys, in the opinion of former federal judge Michael McConnell.

An even stronger impeachment and one deterring future wannabe Trumps was to pair Trump’s physical attack on the Capitol with Trump’s four-year institutional attack on the Congress with his constant usurpation of the legislative branch’s constitutional authority (some noted above).

For reasons yet to be divulged, the Democrats, as they did with the first impeachment of Trump, were unwilling to use the full evidence subpoena powers they possess. Trump can now run again, vitiating the rule of law and debasing our democratic institutions.

As Republican strategist Kevin Philips noted years ago, The Republicans go for the jugular while the Democrats go for the capillaries.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why Didn’t Speaker Pelosi Want Witnesses?

The Struggle Inside Senator Mitch McConnell’s Brain

By Ralph Nader

Since 2015, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has ruled the Senate with an iron hand, describing himself as “the Guardian of Gridlock.” He was Senator “NO,” except for confirming over 200 mostly corporatist federal judges.

Now comes a new challenge for Mitch McConnell as he leads 49 other Republican Senators, twenty of whom are up for re-election in 2022. Earlier this month, McConnell broke with Trump publicly in a Senate speech holding the wannabe American Fuhrer responsible for the January 6th storming of the Congress. On that day, Trump had just spoken to a crowd on the Mall and incited his followers to rush the Capitol and “stop the steal.” In the aftermath of this insurrection, the Kentucky Senator said he was keeping an open mind about his vote during the coming impeachment trial of Trump.

Predictably, McConnell received a flood of criticism from the Trump supporters for daring to distance himself from the dangerous, unstable, Liar-in-Chief. Senate insurrectionists Senators Cruz and Hawley stood firm with Trump, even after the Trumpsters’ violent riot in their hallowed workplace.

Then came Senator Rand Paul, a crypto-libertarian opportunist and Trump toady (a scheming shadow of his father, ex-Rep. Ron Paul) to propose a vote on whether a president who is impeached while in office could be tried after his term was up. In a January 21, 2021 letter, an overwhelming number of liberal and conservative constitutional law experts said, “In sum, the Constitution’s text and structure, history, and precedent make clear that Congress’s impeachment power permits it to impeach, try, convict, and disqualify former officers, including former presidents.” (The full text of the letter is available online at Medium.Com) Not to do so, as Republican constitutional law specialist Bruce Fein said, “would fail to a set a precedent to deter future presidents from committing all kinds of impeachable offenses during the last days of their presidency and would undermine the additional sanction, by majority Senate vote, of banning Presidents who have committed ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ from ever running for federal office again.”

McConnell, reverting to form, voted with Rand Paul and all but five courageous Republicans for the nonsense assertion that the Constitution prohibits a trial of an impeached president after departure from office. Since it would take seventeen Republicans to join with fifty Democrats to convict Trump, the media pundits quickly prejudged the outcome as an acquittal.

Inside McConnell’s brain, however, the path ahead is not preordained. McConnell still insists, as one of 100 Senate jurors, he is keeping an open mind as he weighs the evidence at the open televised trial starting on Tuesday, February 9th in the Senate. This might be true. Allowing the Trumpian half of his brain to overpower his judgment and vote to acquit Dangerous Donald would spell disaster for the Republican Party (assuming the Democratic Party doesn’t go to sleep as it did after Obama’s win in 2008).

Here is what the “survival” part of McConnell’s mind may be thinking:

“My GOP is a minority Party. We’ve only won the popular vote for President once since 1988, having been saved by the Electoral College in 2000 and 2016. Our majorities in the House have been due to gerrymandering designed to produce safe Republican districts in key states. We can’t assume that the cowardly Democrats will continue to give us seats in the Senate that they should have won, apart from giving up contesting many seats altogether.”

“We should break completely with Trump and his uncontrollable, delusional, hardcore extremists dedicated to “civil war,” that the Department of Homeland Security has deemed the “leading domestic terrorist” threat. Conviction of Trump is the way forward. He wouldn’t be able to run again. We won’t be bullied, intimated, and lied about every day in order to push us toward these political militias and their crude, violent talk and actions by acquitting Trump. We can’t be the “law and order” Party if we don’t accept that “no one is above the law.”

“Also, the media would demand answers for out-of-control Republican outlaws and their Trumpian grip on state Republican Party committees. We will be so relentlessly distracted daily by Trumpian chaos and Trump’s 2024 candidacy that we won’t be able to reset the traditional stable GOP and advance our conservative agenda. Trump is causing us to lose our campaign contributions from frightened corporate CEOs who cannot tolerate daily political disruptions and overtly divisive rancor that rankles the workplace.”

“Some of our own legislators already are being investigated by the FBI for their involvement with these extremist groups.” (See the New York Times article: Republican Ties to Extremist Group Are Under Scrutiny).

“Furthermore, letting Trump go triumphantly into the electoral arena would increase the risk of internally splitting the Party with Trump either saying “his way” or creating a new “Patriot Party”. For many reasons, that would end our electoral chances for a generation. It will be worse than what FDR did to our Party.”

“I make these arguments to my Senate Republicans, having just been re-elected. The Senators up for election in 2022 are fearful of being primaried. They cannot stand the burst of hate mail they would receive.”

“To them, I would say: “relax, look at the huge margins most of you won by in 2016. You’re just too cozy and not used to a primary challenge, which should make you an even better campaigner. Besides, you’ll raise much more campaign money by standing tall against the tyrant who attacked America, who will turn on you at a tweet’s notice if you’re not 100% with him.”

“Given the super-safe seats – no one is going to beat Thune, Moran, Lankford, Kennedy, Crapo, Boozman, and Shelby in any primary. Besides, any ultra-extremist candidates who win primaries are sure to lose in the general election. That’s what happened in Delaware in 2000. The great majority of sane GOP voters know a suicide drive when they hear and see it.”

Such is the swirling mind of Mitch McConnell these days. With more incriminating evidence coming out about Trump’s attempted election coup, and the expected alarming under oath testimony at the Senate trial, the sheer political self-interest and regard for the GOP’s future should result in the Senate voting for conviction.

See: Wrecking America Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All by Mark Green and Ralph Nader, for a detailed exposé of Donald Trump, Liar-in-Chief

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Struggle Inside Senator Mitch McConnell’s Brain

New Auto Safety Report Demands Biden Strengthen Federal Programs Now

By Ralph Nader

Today the New York Times rediscovered its previous auto safety news beat that blossomed in the 1960s after my book, Unsafe at Any Speed (1965) caused an uproar in Detroit. Reporter Christopher Jensen told New York Times readers about a new report by a coalition of six automotive safety groups demanding that the new Biden Administration recharge the moribund, industry-dominated National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with strong leadership, adequate budget, and long-overdue, proven vehicle safety standards.

Since its creation by Congress in 1966, NHTSA has had some bright moments which made motor vehicles more crash-worthy and operationally safer, with less pollution and more fuel efficiency. Since then, over four million lives have been saved and many more injuries prevented. Property damage was diminished and insurance premiums were lower than they would have been had the “wild west” non-regulation, “style over safety” manias been allowed to continue. Laissez-faire runs amok.

In recent decades, however, under both Democratic and Republican Administrations, NHTSA was degraded into more of a sporadic, meek consultant to the auto giants, instead of a strong law enforcement agency. Its Administrators wafted sleepily in their few years at the helm and then retired to lucrative positions in the industry they failed to regulate.

To the extent that NHTSA did anything significant, it was due to a small band of gritty citizen safety advocates such as Joan Claybrook, the prime author of this report, Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety, and the insurance-industry-funded Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety led until recently by Jackie Gillan and now Cathy Chase. These advocates used the tools of litigation and lobbying to protect all of us, receiving little recognition for their unsung and life-saving endeavors.

Alas for the most part, at NHTSA, the routine was official inaction, not considered “news” by the mass media. Standards not issued nor strengthened, recalls not ordered, penalties not applied, data not compiled by make and model, safety research vehicles not funded and chronic secrecy by the auto companies and government not qualifying as “newsworthy.” A few high-profile auto defect scandals, often exposed when manufacturers were sued by tort lawyers, were widely reported, but the news coverage rarely included NHTSA’s inaction and institutional abandonment by Congress and the White House.

The revival of the federal government’s motor vehicle safety/pollution/fuel efficiency missions must start with Congressional hearings for updated, stronger laws, including criminal penalties for refusal by auto companies to recall defective or noncompliant vehicles, legislatively mandated safety advances, and more capacity and funding for NHTSA’s tiny budget, now far less than what is spent on military bands!

With distracted driving and ever more vehicles on more crowded highways, fatalities (including pedestrian casualties) started to increase pre-Covid.

The media, on its part, should not be distracted by the hype around a premature autonomous vehicle and super smart highways. Every day, people are dying in the old-fashioned ways that could be prevented by long-ready, better-handling and crash-protective vehicles.

Imagine the benefits of safer vehicles with far more environmentally benign engines and adequate funding for cost-effective public investment in new forms of public transit and upgrading existing mass transit. Getting around on the ground should include many diverse forms of arriving at one’s destination in a timely, safe, and environmentally preferable manner.

The Claybrook report titled, Safer Vehicles and Highways: 4.2 million U.S. Lives Spared Since 1966, is very specific about what needs to be done. New technical talent is needed at NHTSA in this era of electric cars, autonomous safety assists, and the computerization of motor vehicles vulnerable to hacking.

A tougher position on recalls is essential. “Automakers continue efforts to minimize expensive recall costs by delaying the recall, narrowing the scope of a recall, or denying the defect,” declares the report.

Moreover, many of the safety features and performance levels in your vehicle have not been updated for years in practical, cost-effective ways long urged by the more innovative automotive suppliers. These include child safety safeguards.

It is time for the Biden people, under the new Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, to catch up and end the soporific record of their predecessors, including that of those from the Obama/Biden Administration. (See: Jerry Cox Steven Bradbury and Why 30 Million Takata Airbags Are Not being Recalled).

The French have a saying “the more things change the more they remain the same.” That applies to the auto company executive-suite culture. In their comfortable atriums, they arrange for deniability while they press for immunity from criminal and tort laws. They still preside over obscure financing and advertising deceptions. They still dangle before buyers of their less expensive vehicles, over-priced options for long-amortized safety improvements that are standard equipment on higher-priced vehicles so as to pressure them to upgrade.

They still instruct their lobbyists to go to Congress with one message “NO, NO, NO” to long-delayed improvements for motorists to reduce the casualty toll on the highway and the various economic costs associated with such stagnant corporate stubbornness.

Biden promises a New Day from Trumpism. Let’s see if he and his team can provide America with a New Day of Public Safety from callous corporatism on the nation’s roadways.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on New Auto Safety Report Demands Biden Strengthen Federal Programs Now

Trump’s Finale from Impeachment to Conviction

By Ralph Nader
January 15, 2021

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, a graduate of Harvard Law School, asked his colleagues: “If inciting a deadly insurrection is not enough to get a president impeached, then what is?” Ten Republicans voted for Impeachment, but 197 House Republicans disagreed. Trump incited the crowd in person on the Mall. He lied to his supporters saying, “I’ll be with you” on the march to the Capitol. Trump then refused to call the crowd back when it turned into a mob that violently stormed into the Capitol. Trump scurried back to the White House to gleefully watch on TV his “special people” rampage through the Congress with destructive intent.

Why should the GOP obeisance to Trump, the Mobster in Chief, this recidivist criminal, a violator of many provisions of the Constitution, obstructor of justice “as a daily way of life” according to his former national security advisor John Bolton, and hourly lying sociopath, surprise anyone?

Congressional Republicans have aided and abetted, for four years, Trump’s assertion that “With Article II, I can do whatever I want as president.” Dangerous Donald did just that. He finally incited a massive, homicidal street crime against the very Congress that let him get away with everything, day after day, as if there were no laws and no Constitution to be observed whatsoever.

The GOP speakers who defended Trump in the House Impeachment debate will go down in history as unsurpassed political cowards and lying bloviators, led by Trump clone, belligerent Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Trump’s Congressional protectors, however, failed. The House of Representatives voted for Articles of Impeachment that are on their way to the Senate for a certain trial. The Senate should convict treacherous unrepentant Trump and ban him from ever seeking federal office again.

In the days before the trial, more incriminating evidence will emerge.

Already, a GAO investigation is underway into Republican lawmakers suspected of being complicit in aiding the mob’s objective of physically overturning the results of the presidential election. Evidence of early facilitation both before and during the armed invasion is reaching investigators, including the involvement by some Capitol Police and other police officers in plain clothes.

Trump’s business allies and supporters are not waiting for any verdicts. Major corporations such as Disney, Coca-Cola, and J.P. Morgan Chase have suspended campaign contributions to the GOP. Last week, the powerful National Association of Manufacturers demanded that Trump be removed from office under the 25th Amendment. Trump’s banks, to whom he owes hundreds of millions of dollars, are distancing themselves from their insatiable borrower. New York City has canceled its contract with the Trump corporation. More cancellations of deals with TRUMP, Inc. will come.

Though verbally defiant, admitting no mistakes, and as usual taking no responsibility, Trump is a broken man, assailing his most loyal subjects including total toady Vice President Mike Pence. Deprived of his Twitter machine and other Internet platforms, Trump will soon be a besieged debtor, a manyfold investigated and sued defendant abandoned by the likes of Mitch McConnell.

The calculus of political survival for the just re-elected McConnell’s Congressional Republicans has changed. In the minority, no longer will Republicans be able to confirm corporatist judges or pass Trump-like corporate tax cuts for the super-rich, or dismantle health and safety regulations.

But out on the MAGA hustings, Trump may be a huge tormentor, raising money and wanting to run again. Such a prospect is intolerable to McConnell. That is why he is turning against Trump by declining to oppose Impeachment and signaling that he may unleash his Republican Senators to convict Trump, if only for their own political survival. The GOP polls are slipping and will slip more as the toxic stench of what occurred before and during the January 6th attack increases.

McConnell does not want Trump either to run or threaten to run again in 2024. The only way that yoke can be lifted is to free 17 or more Republican Senators to vote for conviction followed by a simple majority vote banning Trump from future federal office.

Out of office and prohibited from regaining office, Trump will be increasingly defined by his more violent, hardcore Trumpsters. Trump being Trump, will not oppose their street actions. He will want to continue to address and exhort his followers to remain a political force.

This entanglement is already underway. While Washington, D.C. is brimming with thousands of soldiers, police, and surveillance technology, the Trump militants are unfazed. They are planning more protests.

According to Pentagon officials, reported in the New York Times, “Some 16 groups – some of them saying they will be armed and most of them made up of hardline supporters of Mr. Trump – have registered to stage protests.” This cannot be good political news for the Congressional Republicans left behind after the Trump family departs the White House.

What are the probabilities that a conviction in the Senate will be achieved? Better than 50/50, given the survival instincts of the politicians wanting the felonious Trump off their backs.

As for Trump, what he has left until noon on January 20th, barring some last-gasp grotesque eruption, is the pardon power for his closest allies like Rudy Giuliani, his family, and himself. He could enlarge the range of pardons by declaring a Day of Forgiveness on January 19th with general pardons of deserving, elderly prisoners, political prisoners, and nonviolent drug offenders in the federal prisons.

However, such a vision is inconsistent with narcissism. We’ll see.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Trump’s Finale from Impeachment to Conviction

Can Justice Finally Overtake Trump, Its Most Defiant Fugitive?

By Ralph Nader

Despite the many crimes Donald Trump regularly committed over four years, it took his blatant incitement of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, to put him on the road to prison. (See: Letter to vice President Mike Pence Re: Invocation of Amendment 25). What transpired on Wednesday in the shadows of the Washington Monument was a pure violent street crime that resulted in five fatalities, property smashed and damaged, and many assaults by hundreds of rioters who broke into or were allowed into the Capitol.

The current prosecutor is Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael R. Sherwin. USA TODAY reported that Mr. Sherwin said: “‘We’re looking at all actors here and anyone that had a role and, if the evidence fits the elements of the crime, they’re going to be charged,’ Sherwin said these words after he was asked by a reporter if investigators are looking at the role the president played.”

From Day One in 2017, several people foresaw the signs of an emerging sociopath, using violent rhetoric to encourage illegal behavior. It wasn’t only professional psychologists who declared Trump to be severely unstable. Each day he created and disseminated dangerous fantasies. This egomaniacal wannabee monarch could not stop lying in a dangerous manner, making false accusations or engaging in delusional bragging.

Reporters, commentators, litigants, and elected representatives who were documenting Trump’s trail of political and public insanity were overwhelmed by his doubling down on his flailing and wrongdoing in plain sight. But they mostly declined to draw the enforcement conclusions arising from their convictions, further enabling Trump’s use of the power of the bully pulpit to intimidate or threaten his critics.

Remember, Trump, said, “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.” He recklessly kept doing just that. The Republicans supported him and covered for him, while the Democrats huffed and puffed in place. The Democrats refused to file eleven well-documented articles of impeachment and instead only went with the Ukraine matter. (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197)

Meanwhile, in dozens of ways, Trump emboldened the most extreme of his supporters. Recall his outcry “liberate Wisconsin.” Trump’s support for the armed invasion of the Michigan state capitol with impunity, and his many signals, and inactions showed the white supremacists in the streets that the President and William Barr’s Justice Department would overlook hateful racist mischief and mayhem. He even encouraged one of these groups by repeating their militant mantra verbatim.

Published warnings about Trump’s interest in insurrection were largely unheeded by the mass media and even by the independent progressive media. They were too satisfied with reporting on his outrageous behavior and tweets, and too pleased with how easy a subject Trump was for derision. We and others would invoke specific criminal statutes he violated frequently, such as the Hatch Act (using federal property and personnel for political campaign objectives) or the Anti-Deficiency Act (spending much money strictly not appropriated by Congress) and other grave flouting of statutory and regulatory, mandates, scores of congressional subpoenas and major constitutional provisions. The news media did not regard Trump’s deep lawlessness as worthy of much reporting or editorializing. The excuse was “Trump is just being Trump.” Both the media and members of Congress, without paying attention to legal penalties, allowed Trump to keep pushing the envelope on lawbreaking until his invasion of the very Congress that let him get away with so much. It took lawmakers scrambling for their lives through Congressional tunnels to wake them up beyond their rhetoric or perfidy. There are severe consequences for ignoring the non-enforcement of laws and when the media and elected officials become too jaded to challenge a president who doesn’t respect the rule of law or constitutional restraints.

This assault may not be Trump’s last act before January 20th. For sure he will increase the presidential pardons for his friends, family, and quite possibly the rioters and himself. Nobody knows what this “Mad Dog” Trump will try to do on his way out. However, it is reassuring that neither the courts nor the military have met his expectations of supporting and shielding him from his adversaries. These two institutions affirmatively refused to sanction dictatorial rule.

The mounting calls for Trump’s resignation, or prosecution, or removal by impeachment conviction or the exercise of the 25th Amendment are coming from all sides – Democrats, Republicans, bi-partisan declarations of retired military and civilian officials from past Administrations, and even business groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers. Their immediate urging would be to stop further mayhem and upheavals by a cornered, rampaging commander-in-chief who knows that, in one of his favorite phrases, “this is our last chance.”

Maybe merely advancing these acts of enforcement and evictions, rooted in our Constitution and law, will be a deterrence and persuade Trump to quietly go right away to Mar-a-Largo, as suggested today on NPR by Jeh Johnson, former Secretary of Homeland Security.

That kind of finale has not been his MO, whether as a failed gambling czar, choosing corporate bankruptcy as an exit strategy, or as a president who doesn’t show remorse, admit mistakes, or that he ever “did anything wrong.”

If there is anything Trump dislikes more than being a loser (the election), it is being a two-time loser. Perhaps he will back down, play the victim again, and with the help of a stable of defense attorneys, hope that he can wear a pin-striped suit instead of an orange jumpsuit while wistfully watching Fox News behind bars.

(See our new book, Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Can Justice Finally Overtake Trump, Its Most Defiant Fugitive?

Statement by Ralph Nader on the 50th Anniversary of OSHA

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). President Richard Nixon signed the bill into law at a White House ceremony on December 29, 1970. Our citizen advocacies were central to its passage over the opposition of the business lobbies, but were not invited to the White House signing. We worked on this legislation meticulously, obtained media coverage and labor support during its difficult path through the Senate and the House. Unsung heroes were Tony Mazzocchi, Secretary-Treasurer of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW), and our lawyer Gary Sellers, who worked closely with the great Congressional champion for OSHA, Rep. Philip Burton (Dem. California).

OSHA, whose mission is the saving of workers’ lives and protecting their health and safety, has come under fierce and unjust attack by industries with unsafe workplaces such as coal mines, chemical plants, agribusiness and the construction industry. OSHA’s funding has been tiny, its inspectors small in number and its authority undermined by corporate-indentured members of Congress and White House pressures.

Given the terrible hazards that millions of frontline workers are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic, the mission of OSHA has never been more important and timely. Yet, Donald Trump and his Trumpsters have refused to issue mandatory safety standards and protection for these workers and have virtually shut down OSHA’s overall enforcement duties.

President-elect Joe Biden must revive OSHA’s life-saving mission with a strong nominee to head this agency and assure it is adequately funded. Presently its annual budget of about $500 million a year is what the Department of Defense spends each year on military bands. Almost 60,000 workers lose their lives from workplace diseases and traumas every year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Statement by Ralph Nader on the 50th Anniversary of OSHA

Comparing Republican with Democratic Party Energy Levels: No Contest

By Ralph Nader
December 18, 2020

The Republican and Democratic Parties have been evaluated in many ways but not often by the standard of sheer energy levels. Compare the ferocious drive by Trump, Republican Senators and Representatives, Attorneys General, and Governors in promoting, with baseless allegations and buckets of lies, overturning the presidential election. Of the more than 50 election lawsuits filed by Trump’s Republican allies, almost all of them have been promptly thrown out of court.

The wildly frivolous efforts by Trump and his cronies have provoked a rare public letter, signed by over 1,500 lawyers, including past presidents of bar associations, urging disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers representing craven Republican operatives in their attempted electoral coup. (See: lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org)

Even after the Electoral College voted on December 14, 2020, to declare Joe Biden the winner, the Trumpsters are continuing their reckless fanaticism. Extreme Trumpster Congressman Mo Brooks (D-AL) plans to lead a move on January 6, 2020, to demand that the House and the Senate refuse to certify the Electoral College decision.

Now let’s go back to the George Bush/Al Gore presidential election in 2000, where there were real shenanigans. It all came down to Florida’s electoral votes, notwithstanding Al Gore winning the national popular vote by about 500,000. Thousands of people were prevented from voting because they had names similar to the names of ex-felons who were purged from the voting rolls. Ari Berman’s Nation magazine article, “How the 2000 Election in Florida Led to a New Wave of Voter Disenfranchisement” reports: “If 12,000 voters were wrongly purged from the rolls, and 44 percent of them were African-American, and 90 percent of African-Americans voted for Gore, that meant 4,752 black Gore voters—almost nine times Bush’s margin of victory—could have been prevented from voting.” According to Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, “The felon lists were compiled by Database Technologies Inc., now part of ChoicePoint Inc., an Atlanta-based company. In 1998, DBT won a $4 million contract from the Florida secretary of state’s office to cross-check the 8.6 million names registered to vote in the state with law enforcement and other records.” Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s brother Jeb Bush was Florida’s governor during this horrendous disenfranchisement.

There were also deceptively confusing ballot designs in three Florida counties that tricked voters into voting for the wrong candidates.

And there was the judicial coup d’état stay by the U.S. Supreme Court, led by Republican Justice Antonin Scalia that blocked the ongoing statewide recount ordered by Supreme Court of Florida which would have awarded the state and the election to Al Gore.

Democrats meekly accepted this whole sordid episode, apart from their lawsuit. Vice-president Al Gore, presiding over the U.S. Senate rejected pleas from House Democrats to challenge the Electoral College certification. Al Gore had already accepted arguably the most blatantly, politically partisan Supreme Court decision “selecting” George W. Bush on December 12, 2000.

The 2004 presidential contest, between George Bush and John Kerry, came down to the swing state of Ohio. By 118,601 thousand votes, the Republican Secretary of State awarded the state to Bush/Cheney. There were, in the days before the election, claims of Republican skullduggery, including voting place irregularities, obstructions of voters, and flaws in proprietary software used in the vote-counting process. Kerry’s vice-presidential running mate, Senator John Edwards begged Kerry not to immediately concede and to wait for more revelations. But Kerry threw in the towel the day after the election.

Civic leaders in Ohio took their concerns about electoral wrongdoings to the veteran lawmaker, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who held public, unofficial House hearings on the subject. It was too late to change anything, but the hearings did cast a shadow over the GOP which the establishment Democrats quickly forgot about.

In 2009, the Fox Television-driven launch of the Tea Party movement, having more than 350,000 engaged volunteers, roiled the back-home town meetings of Republican members of Congress and secured a clenched-teeth grip on the House of Representatives with some three dozen true believers. This small cohort, self-named the Freedom Caucus, had an outsized veto over Rep. Speaker John Boehner and eventually drove him to resign.

The seventy or eighty Progressive Caucus members in the House have scarcely generated a ripple with their demands on the House Democratic Leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Energetic, demanding Democratic resisters in the House hardly exist, whether on overdue anti-corporate crime legislation, labor law reform to remove barriers to organizing trade unions, fundamental corporate tax reform, corporate-managed “free trade,” or runaway militarism.

The Progressive Caucus could not even broaden the Impeachment proceedings last November/December to include the well-documented daily violations of the Constitution by Trump (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197). There was little significant energy in the Democratic ranks when Obama won the White House and the large congressional majorities in the House and Senate in 2009-2010. The weak Democrats didn’t rollback many Bush actions and continued Bush’s foreign and military policies.

What accounts for the difference between the two parties? Well, the Republicans are really into their trilogy – get more tax cuts and subsidies, get even less regulatory law enforcement and keep the war machine humming. The rank-and-file Republicans also slam the Democrats on abortion, judicial nominations, immigration, and being soft on crime.

The Democrats have to themselves the bread-and-butter family economic issues, worker and environmental injustices, and addressing the meager public services, and our crumbling infrastructure. These issues should really fire up the Democrat Party base. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is controlled by smug, entrenched people living in the exclusive top one percent. Why should they exert themselves? Especially since lassitude invites more campaign money than ever before.

The national civic groups have many progressive agendas but can’t find congressional sponsors that make up a determined force on Capitol Hill. When they can find somebody like Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce a bill, it is largely ignored and becomes a one-day news story release.

A junior Representative from Georgia, Newt Gingrich, through sheer willpower built a powerful political base. He toppled two Democratic House Speakers Jim Wright and Tom Foley, took over the House of Representatives in 1994, and became the House Speaker in 1995.

Senate tyrant Mitch McConnell defies red and blue state governors, mayors, federal and state lawmakers, social service groups, and overwhelming public opinion by blocking the stimulus-relief legislation for months.

What Democratic Senators or Representatives have this energy level?

It was Kevin Phillips, the big business-aware, Republican strategist and writer who years ago provided the apt metaphor: “Republicans go for the jugular, and the Democrats go for the capillaries.” It is beyond troubling that the Democrats haven’t increased their level of energy to confront the worst, cruelest, most corrupt, GOP in history. The delusional Trumpist Party didn’t lose control of any state legislatures, held the Senate, nearly retook the House, and didn’t lose one House Republican incumbent.

Just under 400,000 votes, in the six battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, gave Biden his Electoral College victory! Democrats wake up!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Comparing Republican with Democratic Party Energy Levels: No Contest

Go Vote Yourself a Raise, Georgia – You’ve Long Earned It

By Ralph Nader
December 11, 2020

All political eyes are on Georgia’s runoff election on January 5th, 2021. Two Senate seats are up for grabs and will decide whether the evil Trumpster and corporatist Senator Mitch McConnell stays in total control of the U.S. Senate or not.

If the Democrats win both seats, the Senate would be split, 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris would serve as President of the Senate, and in the case of tied votes have the deciding vote. The Democrats could also take control of the Senate, choose the Committee Chairs, and set the rules for moving legislation to the floor.

Georgia is normally a Republican state. But on November 3rd, the state chose Joe Biden over Donald Trump by about 12,670 votes. The two incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler failed to win a majority of the votes. This triggered a runoff against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Money is pouring into all candidates’ coffers. The runoff may see spending reach $400 million. Much of this money will be misspent on high-priced TV and social media ads with little content and mind-numbing repetition. Voters get irritated by such jackhammer “messaging.”

There are over six million registered voters in Georgia. Nearly two-thirds are white and one-third are black Americans. The politicians and their rich media consultants think they know how to “process” these voters. They believe people first vote for the Party, reflecting the hereditary way their grandparents and parents voted. Second, they believe people vote based on their feelings toward the candidates. Third, if the voter is still undecided, politicians believe people will vote based on candidates’ policy positions.

In his groundbreaking book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation (2008), Emory University Psychology professor Drew Westen, argues that when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins. But emotion can include a strong desire for a good life and a decent livelihood with good-paying, safe jobs. Emotion can also demand justice, peace, and respect for Mother Earth, nurturing children, and giving voice to the people between elections.

Emotion can also mean that voters, who do not do their homework, allow themselves to be manipulated. Politicians are very good at the three “F’s” – flattering, fooling, and flummoxing uninformed and unprepared voters. For example, if voters are single-issue-minded – say on the matter of abortion or tax cuts – they won’t care about any of the other positions of the candidate who agrees with them on their one and only big “yes-no” issue. The more policies that voters demand candidates address, the less vulnerable voters are to the three “F’s.”

Now, in Georgia, the Democrats are stressing health care (but not full Medicare-for-All) and Trump’s disastrous approaches to the surging Covid-19 pandemic. They are also going after the conflict-of-interest stock trading of the two wealthy Republican Senators. And, of course, the Democratic candidates are presenting themselves as better candidates.

Although grassroots groups such as FairVote and Black Voters Matter are registering and getting out significant numbers of voters, the Georgia Democratic Party, with its overflowing campaign funds, is largely using the extremely narrow national Democratic Party messaging playbook. This is a big mistake.

The Democrats must instead appeal to the white, blue-collar voters, whom for years, the Party has left behind for Republican Party deceivers to win over.

One of the most compelling needs for these voters is higher wages. The message should be “Go Vote Yourself a Raise” with the explanation that the U.S. House Democrats have already passed a $15 an hour bill to replace, in stages, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, which was frozen by the Senate Republicans including Senators Perdue and Loeffler.

Over 30 million workers in the U.S. earn less than $15 per hour. That means lots of Georgia’s low-income workers are making less per hour, adjusted for inflation, than workers made in 1968! They’ve been cheated for a long time. (In the U.S., returns to labor have been falling behind the larger returns to capital).

A multi-media focus on “Go Vote Yourself a Raise” will produce a deep-imprint message. It requires no fancy explanation as would a complex insurance proposal. It relates to voters where they live, work, and raise their children and therefore appeals to all affected voters regardless of political labels such as “conservative” or “liberal.”

It is also a good way to start judging politicians with specifics about the question: “Whose side are you on?” Candidates should be pushed to say if they stand with the super-rich profiteering, callous Big Business tycoons or with the people who work for pitiful wages, on the rugged frontlines, and keep our society running day in and day out.

Political Parties and their Campaign Committee operatives are not open to receiving good ideas. They think if they’ve got the money, they’ve got what’s needed. The weak performance of the cash-loaded Democratic Party in the November election belied such confidence. Apart from Biden’s victory, the Democratic Party lost the Senate, barely kept the House, and did not flip one state legislature against the worst, most cruel, and corrupt GOP in the Republican Party’s history.

There is still time to campaign in a way that will reach the working people of Georgia. Contact Professor Drew Westen at [email protected] who is brimming with ideas on what can be done to increase voter turnout. People nationwide have an immediate stake in Georgia’s run-off election. Motivating result-oriented voters is the key to defeating the Republicans and deposing Mitch McConnell.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Go Vote Yourself a Raise, Georgia – You’ve Long Earned It

Americans: For Most Roads Ahead, It’s All about the Congress!

By Ralph Nader
December 4, 2020

We know their names! We’ve given immense power to Five Hundred and Thirty-Five People to do good or bad. One Hundred Senators and Four Hundred and Thirty-Five Representatives. Unfortunately, some 1500 corporations control most Members of Congress. Think about all the dreams for a better world that could come to be realized if our elected officials worked for the big majority of Americans instead of for Big Business interests.

Let’s go through a short list of Big Deals:

  1. Do you want a living wage for all Americans? The superhighway is through Congress.
  2. Do you want universal, more efficient, free-choice health care with an emphasis on the prevention of disease and injury? The superhighway goes through Congress.
  3. Do you want a fair tax system that makes the big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share for a change? Take it through Congress.
  4. Do you want to stop your tax dollars from being spent on corporate welfare, corporate-powered wasteful budgets in Washington? Congress can do that.
  5. Do you want to eliminate corporate defrauding of government programs like Medicare and Medicaid? Take it to Capitol Hill.
  6. Do you want your tax dollars to be used to create good-paying, non-exportable jobs, workers to repair and upgrade the public facilities or infrastructure in every one of your communities?
  7. Do you want to cut the presently unaudited, bloated military budget, stop the boomeranging Empire overseas, and redirect your tax dollars back home to pay for the necessities of life? That means getting it through Congress.
  8. Do you want to end all the financial rip-offs such as overcharges and penalties, sky-high credit cards, and payday loan interest rates?
  9. Do you want to end the near-zero interest rates on your savings, where you are lucky to get ¼ of one percent interest, while the government charges many times that for student loans?
  10. Do you want to protect your families and your children’s children from climate catastrophes – worsening by the year?
  11. Do you want to quickly move away from fossil fuels to self-reliant, local, cleaner, renewable solar, wind, and hydro-powered energy, plus huge energy conservation?
  12. Do you want to stop big companies from directly exploiting and tempting your children with junk food and sugary junk drinks that lead to spiraling obesity and related diseases?
  13. Do you want Congress to stop the digital age child molesters that undermine parental authority and promote violent and addictive entertainment programs?
  14. Do you want Members of Congress to give you what they have given themselves in the way of retirement security that is part of workers’ compensation?
  15. Do you want a pathway to universal basic income long backed by leading conservative and liberal economists?
  16. Do you want a modern, convenient mass-transit system (that will diminish traffic congestion) like what Japan and western Europe have had for years?
  17. Do you want across-the-board paid vacations, paid family sick leave, daycare, free or low-cost college tuition? (Many years ago, people like you got these social services through their Parliaments).
  18. Do you want to take back your control from corporations of what you already own – the public lands, public airwaves, massive public research, and development? (Remember you already own these great public assets and pay for them in direct and indirect ways).
  19. Do you want clean and fair elections and electoral districts, that stop the buying and renting of politicians? (This is the first step in breaking the Big Money chains on Congress by the corporations).

There are so many more congressional actions that could brighten the horizon. Congress could lead the way on affordable, available housing, repealing anti-union laws, pushing the White House to wage peace (diplomacy) rather than repeatedly threaten or use military force, ratifying arms control, advancing consumer, labor, and environmental protection treaties, pushing the Executive Branch to enforce the civil rights laws and to develop stronger corporate crime laws. The list of what should be done is long and overdue.

The road to a more just society runs through Congress with the Members of Congress working for you, the people.

You may say, what about obstructions of Congress by the Executive Branch and the Judiciary? Congress controls the purse, confirms the judges, has the tax-paying and the war-making authorities – as designed by our founding fathers, who never envisioned Congress abdicating those powers.

In my little paperback book, Breaking Through Power: Its Easier Than We Think, I wrote about the past battles for justice writ large that have been waged in Congress. None of these efforts took more than one percent of the people, actively engaged, connected, and knowledgeable, reflecting majority opinion. How did they win? They had a laser focus on Congress and state legislatures – lawmaker by lawmaker.

Why don’t tens of millions of Americans, who are hurting, deprived, under-insured, underpaid, disrespected, stressed out and obstructed from a better life, form Congress Watchdog Lobbies?  Imagine summoning your Senators and Representatives to your organized town-meetings to receive your majority-supported instructions on how to use the power you’ve given them.

Americans care for 70 million pet dogs every day. Spend a fraction of that time taking care of your two Senators and Representative. Maybe people can start using their cell phones to call their Members of Congress while safely walking their dogs. For ideas on how to form your own congressional watchdog group see: Become a Congressional Ratwatcher.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Americans: For Most Roads Ahead, It’s All about the Congress!