The Federal Reserve Dictatorship Runs Amok Against Savers

By Ralph Nader
March 18, 2020

If you are a saver in a money market account or in a bank, you’ve already noticed your dwindling interest income as interest rates have been at their lowest in modern American history. Well, brace yourself. Your saving account has just become little more than a lock box, thanks to the supreme dictatorship of the Federal Reserve.

On Sunday, March 15, The Federal Reserve announced that it would cut interest rates to “near zero.”

After ignoring the largely unproductive spiral in corporate debt, now a staggering $9.3 trillion, the risk of a domino effect from underwater “zombie companies” is pushing the Fed toward an orgy of printing money for an anticipatory bailout of profitable corporations – not depleted savers.

The Federal Reserve is our version of what other countries call a Central Bank. The Fed is not funded by Congress; its budget comes primarily from interest on government securities and fees from financial institutions. Bankers influence who gets appointed to its Board of Governors. Bankers can also elect three directors directly to the boards of the Fed’s regional Boards.

The Fed decides in secret the fate of the monetary policy, which includes the interest rates paid on your savings. There are no public hearings or open dockets for submission of views.  No real explanations by the Fed; just dictates. It is a government of its own inside our government – the epitome of corporate socialism.

The President nominates members to the Board of Governors and they have to be confirmed by the Senate. This is almost an automatic process by a supine Senate. These nominated “governors” and Chairman Jerome H. Powell have allowed themselves to be publically bullied by Trump who, as a failed lifelong debtor, wants zero interest rates.

The Fed has no regard for the hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments taken from one hundred million unorganized savers who have their savings in Treasury bonds, banks, and money market accounts. Now trillions of dollars’ worth of interest rates are getting “near zero.” What a blow by the Trumped Fed reducing interest rates from about 2.25% – 2.5% to near zero in five dictatorial steps over the past 14 months.

The big Fed fib is that this cut in interest rates will stimulate a shaken economy buffeted by the coronavirus pandemic. How? By reducing mortgage rates and other costs of borrowing. Well, the last interest rate cut by the Fed saw mortgage rates actually increase. Moreover, the Fed’s move doesn’t affect the sky-high credit card interest rates on unpaid balances, the horrifically gouging “pay-day loan” and “rent-to-own” rackets and the towering interest rates charged by lenders for student loans. There is no Fed regulation of usurious interest rates by profiteering lenders.

What harms the economy is reduced interest income for savers that in turn cuts down on consumer demand.

So what is the Fed up to? Juicing the stock market and big finance is the narcotic offered to the executive suite speculators. To enhance further its credentials as the aider and abettor of crony capitalism, the Fed is buying $700 billion in government securities and will be increasing “its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $500 billion and its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $200 billion” (See: Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement, March 15, 2020). At the same time, the Fed is reducing bank reserve requirement ratios to zero percent and letting banks tap into the Fed’s discount window at ridiculously tiny interest rates. The average interest on millions of student loans is 5.8%.

On Sunday, when no one was looking, the Fed imperiously announced its decision to hold interest rates near zero “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.” That is a very nebulous standard. Congress doesn’t establish any standards for the Fed except the vague mission of advancing employment and maintaining a stable monetary system.

The Fed has its own inscrutable language. “Quantitative easing,” is jargon for printing trillions of dollars in liquid money to lift stock markets and big banks. What the Fed doesn’t want to explain is how boosting the “paper economy” and tolerating trillions of dollars in unstable corporate debt – some incurred for unproductive stock buybacks – helps the common worker.

Pension funds, conservatively invested, can’t begin to earn the interest rates called for by the actuarial tables for payouts. So, backed up against the wall, pension funds dive into riskier stock investments and derivatives for higher returns which bring their own perils in case of stock market collapses.

The Fed has lots of explaining to do for the public in plain language. But why bother? As described by William Greider, in his classic book, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, the Fed can do pretty much what the financial industry wants it to do. For all the help the Fed gives to the unrepentant speculative financial industry, it does not ask for anything in return for the huge bailouts that would help the common folk. “Reciprocity” is outside of the Fed’s self-defined dictionary.

After all, the Fed does nothing about rampant speculation and staggering debt until it sees a “liquidity problem” (a.k.a. “the greedy big boys got themselves into a fix”) and then it rushes to inject massive sums of liquidity into the economy as relief. And the self-inflicted cycle of government guaranteed corporate greed and abuse of power starts all over again.

Remarkably, groups like Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America are not fighting for the one hundred million small and mid-size savers who are being taken to the cleaners and have no voice whatsoever in the Fed dictatorship.

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American Fuhrer—Corrupt Rampage Against Americans

By Ralph Nader
February 28, 2020

Delusionary, dictatorial Donald Trump is drunk on power. Trump’s monarchical and lawless actions are a clear and present subversion of our Republic and its Constitution. As soon as the impeachment trial ended and Trump was acquitted by the Senate’s supine Republican courtiers (except for Senator Mitt Romney), vengeance flooded Trump’s fevered mind.

Ignoring warnings from his advisors, Trump is lashing out in all directions, unleashing torrents of foul-mouthed tweets. Note with alarm how this American Fuhrer is consolidating control and using his presidential power to smash all opposition. Remember that last July Trump declared “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” He wasn’t kidding, America.

Trump is shocking his current appointees— in addition to those who have quit or been fired in purges.  Without evidence, he is accusing the intelligence agencies and the FBI of conspiring against him! Trump has attacked both the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr because of the sentencing recommendations by four DOJ prosecutors for convicted criminal and Trump advisor Roger Stone. Barr, a Trump toady, was shaken. Barr said it would be impossible for him to do his job if Trump kept interfering.

As Mark Green and I depicted in our new book, Fake President, loser Trump always retaliates against opponents by charging fraud, fakery, and crookery. Trump’s intimidation of others is amplified by the media that gives no right of reply to Trump’s targets.

What is most troubling are the silences of the countervailing forces that Americans have a right to rely on to fight Trump the tyrant.

Post acquittal, Trump has doubled down on his numerous impeachable offenses (see the Congressional Record from December 18, 2019, page H 12197). But Democrats, who control the House, are not doubling down on their impeachment investigations. Instead, they are following orders from Speaker Pelosi and standing down.

Trump regularly attacks the judges who rule against him or dare to challenge his illegal acts. Yet there is only silence by the many judge’s associations and the many bar associations. The American Bar Association, which has over 194,000 members, remains asleep. All of its members, so-called “officers of the court,” are attorneys and should understand their responsibilities to uphold the rule of law.

Trump’s Party has a long history of vicious voter suppression (chronicled in the new documentary, Suppressed: The Fight to Vote, by Robert Greenwald). These anti-democratic actions should be considered serious crimes. However, the members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) are largely unprepared to protect voter rights and accurate counting of votes. Some Secretaries of State are aiding and abetting these electoral crimes. Current Georgia Governor Brian Kemp used his power as Georgia’s Secretary of State to suppress black voters, cheating his way to the Governor’s mansion in 2018.

Trump is now doing what all dictators do when they take power: he is purging the civil service of any critical voices of those who simply want to do their jobs. These civil servants made the “mistake” of enforcing health and safety laws that the supreme leader wanted to go unenforced to benefit the President’s big corporate buddies and donors. The government employee unions are not doing enough to fight back and explain what Trump the tyrant is doing to harm people—Trump voters and anti-Trump voters alike. Trump and his cronies are making America more dangerous again by scuttling protections that reduce deaths, injuries, and illnesses.

Whether it is the air you breathe, the water you drink, the vehicles you ride in, or the toxins in your workplace, Trump’s corporatist wrecking crew is running federal agencies into the ground. While corporate outlaws fill Trump’s coffers and hotels with riches, he gives them huge tax escapes and starves infrastructure. The word “corruption” cannot fully embrace how this insulting megalomaniac is tearing apart our country, our democratic practices, and our moral norms. Protections for children, the elderly, veterans and workers are all on Trump’s chopping block.

Who will stand up to this horrible bully who is intent on rolling back America’s gains and the anti-monarchy purpose of the American Revolution itself? Some in the media will sound the alarm. Sensing this threat, Trump interfered with government procurement to tilt a large contract away from Amazon because Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, which has run many articles about Trump’s rampage. Trump’s Republican campaign committee just filed a loser suit against The New York Times. Whether Trump wins or loses, the intimidation of the media is his goal.

These tactics are working on Chairman Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve, according to former Fed insiders. As a result, the Federal Reserve has stayed committed to lowering interest rates to the detriment of savers. Intimidation is also working on the House of Representatives Democrats, who abhor the lives ruined by the savage sexual predator. Sadly, these lawmakers are not demanding a House Judiciary investigation of Trump’s treatment of women. Credible tort lawsuits are being delayed by Trump’s lawyers.

The cowardly silence of Barack Obama is the most stunning. In his extraordinary new book, The Triumph of Doubt, that names names, former head of Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA), Dr. David Michaels, documents “President Trump’s desire to reverse anything the Obama administration did—if Obama supported it, Trump would do the opposite no matter what the consequences.”
The results are more mercury and diesel particulates in your lungs, more deadly methane accelerating climate disruption, and more coal ash for your children to breathe. Trump’s administration is even failing to adequately invest in medical science, which could save you. Until the coronavirus came along, Trump demanded serious funding cuts for the Centers for Disease Control; these funding cuts were thwarted by Congress. Even more damning, the Trump administration fired the U.S. pandemic response team to save money! The CDC’s annual budget is equal to a mere three days spending by the Pentagon, whose budget Trump bloats.

So where is Obama? Critiquing music, making movies, attending NBA all-star festivities, and readying for March Madness. Obama is thoroughly enjoying himself. What about also using his high political poll ratings and his massive Twitter following (which is far larger than Trump’s) to combat Trump’s actions? If not for the wellbeing of the American people, Obama should at least want to protect his legacy.

If Obama remains so carefree in the critical months before November, he will need a sign beside the exhibits to be displayed at his forthcoming presidential library: REPEALED BY TRUMP.

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Three Major News Stories That Need To Be Exposed

By Ralph Nader
February 21, 2020

The news is filled with stories about President Trump and his predecessors imposing sanctions on other countries, their officials, and other prominent persons. But the media rarely spells out exactly what these sanctions are, the intermediaries who enforce them, the impacts they have on innocent civilians – women, men and children – how they are countered or evaded, and whether they fulfill or undermine their diplomatic, military, or economic purposes.

For example, sanctions against Iran by Trump increase by the year. They force banks and other financial institutions to cut off all decreed transactions, such as exports from Iran or purchase by Iran of critical spare parts, raw materials, even medical devices. Years ago, sanctions against Iraq under Saddam Hussein prohibited Iraq from purchasing chlorine to purify drinking water and children’s catheters. These sanctions produced deadly results for innocents. Iran’s economy is now in ruins and the brunt of the pain is suffered by innocent families. Under international law, disproportionate harm on civilians from sanctions is a serious violation.

Presently, from Trump there are sanctions on individuals in numerous countries, restricting their travel, their purchases and more. When banks like Citigroup and Bank of America are told by Washington to cut off any financial transactions from any companies doing business with a sanctioned country, do the banks receive payment for their trouble, or are there other quid pro quo rewards? We do not know. Secret government actions are pervasive, though sometimes a freedom of information request, followed by litigation, may pry open what is hidden.

Media alert! Sanctions are potential hotbeds for corruption and illegalities.

A little told story relates the tariffs Trump is imposing on imports from other countries, especially China. There are serious questions as to whether presidents have the constitutional authority or whether Congress must maintain authority on tariffs. Veteran constitutional law litigator Alan Morrison is now contesting sweeping executive tariff power in the federal courts. Reporting on this overreaching by the President is scarce.

Digging deeper, reporters should be asking what standards control presidential discretion or whims on imposing tariffs. The “national security flag” can’t just be waved arbitrarily.

Trump passes out many waivers for certain U.S. companies. Why, for example, did Trump give Apple CEO Tim Cook a waiver on tens of billions of dollars in iPhones imported from China, but not provide waivers to any number of smaller U.S. companies who buy products from China for their manufacturing or retail/wholesale sales?

Constitutional law specialist, Bruce Fein, says the absence of standards for giving waivers raises fundamental questions of unlawful delegation by Congress.

Media alert! Potential incentives for corruption and lawlessness in these burgeoning behind the scenes intrigues are huge.

The third hotbed of abuses relates to the charges by Washington that countries abroad tolerate “corruption,” and that security and economic relations with them are either jeopardized or unworkable. Such charges are regularly made against the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq – both militarily occupied by the U.S.

Corruption involves more than high-level officials taking bribes. Low-level public servants, so woefully underpaid, take money under the table to survive. As it happens, Ashraf Ghani, the elected president of Afghanistan, a former professor at Johns Hopkins University, was a leading expert on the nuances and functions of bribery in third-world countries. He can be a worthy source of knowledge on corruption.

U.S. agencies are a major generator of secret corruption in countries like Afghanistan. For example, cargo planes full of crisp one hundred dollar bills are shipped to Kabul and then trans-shipped to places like Kandahar. It doesn’t take much imagination to frame a reporter’s investigation—of what happens to cash in occupied, desperate societies.

Books and articles on the intelligence agencies note that cash handouts, big and small, are critical to achieve their purposes. There is so much bribery cash in Afghanistan that to stop the flow would seriously affect their shaky economy.

Bribery is a two way street – the briber and the bribee. Secret payments and bribes have often backfired against U.S. foreign policies in many undesirable ways.

Bribes to get what Washington and giant multinational corporations want from fragile countries merits more reporting, if only to show that a good deal of the bribery is under our control and within our power to reverse.

Media Alert!

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“Democratic Socialism” – Bring it on Corporate Socialists!

Crooked Donald Trump, the erstwhile failed gambling czar and corporate welfare king, is assailing Bernie Sanders for his “radical socialism.” How ludicrous given Trump’s three-year giveaway of taxpayer assets and authorities to giant corporations – a perfect portrait of crony capitalism.

Others are joining the socialist labeling bandwagon, including corporatist right wing radio talk show blowhards, themselves freeloaders, profitably using the public airwaves. This pack includes Lloyd Blankfein, former lawbreaking chairman of Goldman Sachs.

Bernie knows, of course, how to rebut this distorted interpretation of “democratic socialism.” But will his rebuttals be enough given that the Biden-Bloomberg-Klobuchar wing of the Democratic Party is determined to label Bernie “unelectable” against the boastful Don the Con?

Some suggestions for Bernie and others to use in this upcoming back and forth on “democratic socialism” vs. “corporate socialism” of the super-rich corporations:

  1. Go after the corporate socialists who have invited Wall Street and Big Business to socialize the means of government against the peoples’ necessities and freedoms. It is a government of, by, and for the dominant corporations. Such private power dominating our government in so many reported ways was called “fascism” in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a formal message to Congress. This is a fertile field for taking the offensive.
  2. “Democratic socialism is a political force in countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, sometimes Canada, and others. In these places, it means all the people in those countries get their taxes returned in the form of improved livelihoods, economic security, and peace of mind. Democratic socialism means better pay, universal healthcare, pensions, day care, family sick leave, vacations, tuition-free higher education, robust public transit and parks, and many other amenities backed by stronger unions, denied the American people in the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Since World War II, the European political movements were led by “social democratic” parties.
  3. Back to our country. Corporatists and right-wing Wall Street Democrats are inferring that “democratic socialism” is un-American, ruinous for our economy. These demonizers argue that a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” is a sure loser in the election against Donald Trump – a self-enriching crook, outlaw, boastful, savage sexual predator, bigot/racist in his policies, inciter of violence, and a serial, delusionary liar. Trump, the Electoral College-selected tool of the super-rich and corporate powers should be easy to defeat given his disgraceful presidency.

The American people of all backgrounds like their public libraries, public local control water works, municipal fire departments, police precincts, and public schools. They seem okay with government highways, bridges, public transit, and want their taxes spent to repair and upgrade these vital pieces of our infrastructure. Taxpayer’s don’t want our commonwealth being owned by tax-escaping, gouging corporations.

There are over 1,000 municipal public utilities providing electricity. The “Red” states of Tennessee and Alabama would fight any corporatization of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which 87 years ago, brought electricity to a large poor region that the private electric companies didn’t think was profitable enough.

The unfairly maligned Veterans Administration brought free hospitals and health care to millions of veterans. Millions of Americans are favorably disposed to life-saving Medicare and Medicaid and are economically saved by Social Security and unemployment compensation. Hey! There must be a lot of “democratic socialists” out there in “blue” and “red” states. New Hampshirites are mostly okay with state-owned, revenue-producing, hard-liquor retail stores.

At a meeting long ago with top medical officials at the Walter Reed Army hospital, I was told that after learning the second leading cause of hospitalization for U.S. soldiers in Vietnam was malaria, the U.S. Army asked the drug companies to develop remedies. The negative response was that developing medicines to deal with malaria wasn’t profitable enough. In response, the Pentagon brought together skilled doctors and scientists and started its own “drug company” inside Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospitals. For less than 10 percent of what the big drug companies say it costs, our government developed three out of four of the leading anti-malarial drugs in the world and made them available everywhere without any patents producing big pharma-like profits.

If the political and corporate Trumpsters and the Clintonite Democrats snort at all this, tell them that they do agree on one thing. Those in both these camps have been eager to have collapsing capitalism, as during the 2008 Wall Street dive, always saved by reliable socialism – aka – trillions of taxpayer dollars via Washington, D.C. funding the bailout of the reckless bankers and speculators.

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The Vengeful, Lawless, Corporate Toady Trump Explodes

By Ralph Nader
February 7, 2020

The day after his acquittal by the Republican Party in a trial that banned witnesses, the unhinged Donald Trump gloated for over an hour on all the television networks. Trump flattered his courtiers, one by one, and fulminated against his Congressional adversaries, Hillary Clinton and ex-FBI chief James Comey.

Donald Trump’s speech degraded his office for the ages. Trump lied about himself and others and received applause from the assembled sycophants. The morning of his speech, Trump attended a prayer breakfast. Trump never goes to church to atone for his habitual, career-long violations of seven of the Ten Commandments. His hypocrisy has no bounds.

Tightening his dictatorial grip on the U.S. government,  Trump pledged to destroy his opponents— from Nancy Pelosi to Adam Schiff to the “radical, socialist Democrats.” These shameful threats cannot be taken lightly. Never forget Trump saying “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.”

The egomaniacal Trump is inebriated with his disgraceful acquittal, convinced of his own innocence, despite the clear evidence of his guilt. No apologies, no remorse, since he never does “anything wrong.” Trump’s petulant actions could make him an object of abject pity were he not in a position to start wars, shred the Constitution, repeal life-saving regulations, and turn the U.S. government over to avaricious giant corporations.

In politics, the tactical question between the contestants is who is on the offensive and who is on the defensive. Trump knows this in his gut. How do the Democrats regroup? Nancy Pelosi did not send a broad array of impeachable offenses to the Senate – some with clear ‘kitchen table’ appeal. Sending just the articles dealing with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from the Ukraine extortion assured a Republican kangaroo court acquittal. Early polls don’t indicate the imperfect trial diminishing his public support. What Democrats have going for them is the certainty that Trump will continue to commit daily impeachable offenses, including defying Congressional subpoenas. Despite these daily offenses, Trump continues to mock the Democrats. He is practically begging them to pursue a second round of impeachment charges. They should do so just to defend the critical checks and balances required by the Constitution.

Trump’s actions are a departure from those of Bill Clinton. After his Senate acquittal, Clinton spoke for only two minutes on television and he used his time to express regret and apologize. Trump exploded with rage, vindictiveness, and plans for revenge. His unseemly outburst at the annual National Prayer Breakfast smashed all precedent.

After acquittal, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote: “He described his political opponents as ‘bad,’ ‘dirty,’ ‘horrible,’ ‘evil,’ ‘sick,’ ‘corrupt,’ ‘scum,’ ‘leakers,’ ‘liars,’ ‘vicious,’ ‘mean,’ ‘lowlife,’ ‘non-people,’ ‘stone-cold crazy,’ and ‘The crookedest, most dishonest, dirtiest people I’ve ever seen.’” Mostly, the exact description of the person he sees in the mirror. Conservative columnist Michael Gerson warned further: “…we are reaching a very dangerous moment in our national life. The president is seized by rage and resentment…for all to see and hear. He now feels unchecked and uncheckable. And he has a position of tremendous power. That is what happens when a sociopath gets away with something.”

Another columnist, Catherine Rampell, lists past vengeful uses of his power to twist procurement contracts and antitrust enforcement decision against his enemies. She calls it “weaponizing the presidency.”

For example, Trump doesn’t like CNN so he ordered the Justice Department to challenge the AT&T merger with Time Warner in court (unsuccessfully).

The White House has refused to give Congress documents that could reveal whether Trump intervened for personal political advantage. Congress is the only institution that has the authority given to it by the Founders to thwart a fast-emerging monarch.

Defying Congressional subpoenas is a slam dunk impeachable offense.  No resort to the courts is required. Congress has plenary power to enforce its subpoenas. When Trump ignores Congress’s constitutional authority, all other powers of Congress are debilitated. These include the powers to spend, tax, declare war, confirm nominees and, of course, to check a runaway executive branch under a dictatorial, seriously unstable, chronically lying President.

Under “Moscow Mitch” McConnell, the Senate has been shut down. The only time the Senate takes any action is when it acts like Trump’s lapdog. Senator McConnell is sitting on over 300 bills passed by the House, including legislation that would protect our elections from foreign interference. (For more information see, https://ditchmitchfund.com/).

That leaves the House of Representatives, which Trump promises to punish. What Speaker Nancy Pelosi must now do is to assemble her more than willing Committee Chairs and collect all the existing disregarded House subpoenas and continue their existing investigations which, stonewalled by Trump, will require more subpoenas.

Before he resigned, Nixon was about to be impeached, in part, for defying one subpoena. Trump’s holds the presidential record tearing up subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

He has raised the stakes as to whether the Congress as the central institution of our government will survive his executive branch shredding of the Constitution.

Given what they said, wrote, and placed into the Constitution, the number one concern of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, was to prevent another King George III – a monarch in practice if not in name. They implemented this priority by placing the most powerful authorities by far in the Congress.

Trump is daring the House of Representatives to challenge his outlawry and abdicate the constitutional obligation to impose “checks and balances” on the Executive branch. An article of impeachment regarding mass subpoena defiance needs no witnesses, is clear-cut, and can be approved in less than a day and sent to the Senate. Then the people can see whether McConnell will say that the people need volumes of information about Trump corruptly destroying their health, safety and economic protections and turning our government over to Wall Street.

Kitchen table issues are everywhere behind those subpoenas by ongoing House Committee investigations. The spreading “Ditch Mitch” movement in Kentucky will be watching Senator McConnell.

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An Open Letter to Donald Re: “Quickly Spreading Virus Raises Fears Across China,” Washington Post, 1/21/2020

January 22, 2020

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump:

This is a short letter with a serious message about national security and safety.

It has now been established that the Coronavirus spreading in China can be communicated from human to human. That includes you and everyone else. Already the first case has been diagnosed in Washington State. The patient had just returned from the city of Wuhan where the afflictions originated. China is in a near panic trying to curtail the spread of this lethal virus during a period of massive movements of people in China on the occasion of the Spring Festival holiday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is tasked with detecting, alerting, containing and preventing deadly pandemics worldwide. You know about the CDC because in your first budget you wanted to cut its $7.2 billion budget by $1.2 billion. Before, that is, cooler heads prevailed. Cooler heads failed to persuade you not to give an additional $80 billion to the military budget and its large wasteful contractors that year.

The CDC needs more resources, more scientists, more training programs, and more field personnel in key areas of the world to do its life-saving job.

So stop the golf games, drop your “fake news” fulminations and GET TO WORK. Bear in mind, all your techniques of intimidations, and your guided missiles and armed drones, don’t faze deadly viruses and bacteria at all. You are a well-known germophobe. Act like one! NOW!

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

PO Box 19312
Washington, D.C. 20036

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Trump: Making America Dread Again!

President Donald Trump
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

The disabling and dismantling of the federal health and safety agencies under your cruel command has been leaving a trail of American fatalities, injuries, and property destruction without precedent even among past Republican Administrations. Your criminal negligence toward federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an impeachable offense. You are obsessed with corporate profits, obeisant to the corporate CEOs funding your campaigns. You deliberately selected corrupt henchmen to run these lifesaving agencies into the ground, under the guise of “deregulation.”

Constitutional law scholars declare that refusing to “faithfully execute laws” was seen by our Founders to be a major impeachable violation, sufficient for removal from office by the Senate. Your failure to appoint capable leaders, for required Senate confirmation, to head life-saving federal agencies is abhorrent and violates the appointments clause of the Constitution, Article II: Section 2, Clause 2.

Nonetheless, the media has not caught up with the full scope of your lawless commercial drive to “Make America Dread Again.”

Consider a recent address at Used Car Week 2019 in Las Vegas last November by Jerry Cox, a consultant to many businesses in trouble. Here is an excerpt from his remarks, elaborated in greater details in his forthcoming book, Killer Airbags:

Your government will do almost anything to protect the industry and nothing to protect you. At the start of 2020 – the final year of the first Trump Administration – NHTSA still had no Administrator. Instead, President Trump installed Takata’s lawyer [Steven Bradbury] as general counsel of the Transportation Department in 2017 and as Acting Deputy Secretary in 2019. Unbelievably, the guy who negotiated the sweetheart deals that allowed Takata executives to keep selling defective airbags and avoid criminal prosecution was put in charge of every government employee responsible for enforcing auto safety laws.

Shame and guilt on you, Donald Trump! You were willing to start an undeclared war with Iran last week, had their missile attack taken one American soldier’s life, but when American lives are threatened by crony capitalism, you do nothing. It is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s duty to save American lives on the highways from vehicle design and construction defects, yet under you the agency becomes even more toothless. You are leaving tens of millions of American motorists defenseless. Some will lose their lives if more Takata airbags disintegrate and hurl lethal shrapnel into their bodies. American drivers and passengers must receive protection by your Administration.

Will you stop your time-wasting 24/7 tweeting, and your prevaricatory assaults on the truth and reputations of innocent Americans? Will you pay attention to the Takata horrors and name a safety advocate to reinvigorate the enfeebled NHTSA?  Will you start doing your job?

Sincerely,

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Letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi I, together with Constitutional Law scholars Louis Fisher and Bruce Fein, proposed that the Senate allow Chief Justice John Roberts to prescribe impeachment trial procedures—subject to veto by a Senate majority. In doing so, the Senate would avoid some degree of political infighting and blatant partisan bias. While this approach is not perfect, it would create a more impartial and legitimate impeachment process.


Date: December 27, 2019

TO: Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader United States Senate
317 Russell Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

TO: Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Speaker of the House of Representatives
United State Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

FROM: Ralph Nader, Louis Fisher, Bruce Fein

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Madame Speaker Pelosi:

We, the undersigned, encourage a bipartisan resolution of the current impasse over procedures for the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. The trial is too important to the Republic to be left to partisan political ambitions.

We propose that the Senate endow the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, who will preside, with authority to prescribe trial procedures, subject to veto by a Senate majority.

Among other things, the procedures would govern the admissibility of evidence, claims of privilege, subpoenas to compel testimony, the burden of proof, direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and, jury instructions as to the elements of an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.

We are convinced that only the Chief Justice can rescue the impeachment trial from the taint of partisanship that would destroy the legitimacy of the outcome. Justice requires the appearance of justice. But both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress have openly proclaimed biases in favor or against President Trump. And citizens generally do not trust Members to be fair. Public confidence in Congress hovers around 10 percent, as opposed to 42 percent for the United States Supreme Court. Many Members of Congress place party loyalty above loyalty to the Constitution and their oaths of office. They crave power, not justice.

Article I, section 3 of the Constitution provides that when sitting as jurors in impeachment trial Senators “shall be on oath or affirmation.” And according to the standing rules of Senate impeachment trials, Senators must swear as follows: “I solemnly swear that in all things pertaining to the trial of the impeachment of ( Donald J. Trump], now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

But both Republican and Democratic Senators have made statements inconsistent with impartial justice. In an ordinary courtroom, these Senator-jurors would be disqualified for cause.

Moreover, most if not all Senator-jurors confront conflicts of political interest that would ordinarily justify disqualification. Republicans incline towards acquittal of Mr. Trump to retain control of the White House in 2020, whereas Democrats incline towards conviction to boost their 2020 presidential prospects.

Impeachment procedures ordained by the Republican majority in the Senate or pressured by the Democratic majority in the House will be perceived by an alarming portion of citizens as illegitimate, i.e., calculated to make justice subservient to party ambitions. In contrast, Chief Justice Roberts has earned respect with judicial temperament and robust defense of the impartiality of federal judiciary: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges or Bush judges or Clinton judges.”

The Chief Justice, of course, has critics. Many Republicans assail his decisions sustaining President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Many Democrats assail his opinion upholding President Trump’s travel ban and invalidating the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act. A plurality of voters, however, belong to neither party. Chief Justice Roberts, in contrast to the Senate Republican majority or House Democratic majority, is the optimal choice to establish independent and credible procedures for the impeachment trial of President Trump to strengthen public confidence in the outcome.

In the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton, the Senate unanimously determined trial procedures. Such unanimity cannot be expected today with the appalling spike in partisanship. It seems politically plausible with your support, however, that Senate Republicans and Democrats might agree to hand off responsibility for procedures governing Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial to Chief Justice Roberts.

The delegation to the Chief Justice passes constitutional muster. His procedures could be vetoed by a simple Senate majority. Ultimate authority is thus retained by the upper chamber. And the Constitution itself makes the Chief Justice the presiding officer, which contemplates power to prescribe procedures. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for instance, are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court under the Rules Enabling Act subject to overruling by Congress.

Making the Chief Justice the impresario of the impeachment trial is innovative and imperfect, but markedly less imperfect than every other imaginable option.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist in drafting the proposed rulemaking delegation.

Ralph Nader, Louis Fisher, Bruce Fein


Please call your Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to support this modest, but important proposal.

Louis Fisher is a Constitutional Law Scholar who worked for four decades at the Library of Congress as Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers (Congressional Research Service, from 1970 to 2006) and Specialist in Constitutional Law (the Law Library, from 2006 to 2010).

Bruce Fein was Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan. He served on the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements from 2005-2006 and has advised numerous countries on constitutional reform.

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Democrats Cave in Secret Budget Deal with Trump

By Ralph Nader
December 20, 2019

While attention was focused on the House of Representatives’ impeachment of Donald J. Trump, legislators from both parties were secretly huddling with White House aides to seal a $1.4 trillion budget deal to fund the government until next September. They were rushing to do this to avoid a partial government shutdown starting December 21, 2019.

Had the budget been deliberated in open Congressional hearings, the media would have reported on this backroom deal and the people of this country would have had a chance to weigh in during the proceedings. Instead, a degraded Congress pulled a fast one on the citizens. This obfuscation is especially unacceptable considering that these lawmakers work only three days a week at best— when they are not in recess altogether.

Astoundingly the Democrats also caved in on Trump’s wall! After blocking Trump’s funding demand for the wall for three years, the Democrats approved $1.4 billion for the wall and even allowed Trump to divert funds from the Pentagon to that porous, wasteful barrier. In so doing, the Democrats legitimized one of the egregious, impeachable offenses Trump committed earlier this year when he seized $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s budget in money not approved for the wall. The Washington Post reported that former secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus tweeted “As hurricane heads for Camp Lejeune Trump takes $3.6b from military for needless wall. Same amt Marines say needed to fix Lejeune after last storm.”

Trump usurped the Congressional “power of the purse,” to use James Madison’s phrase, under our Constitution. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi declined to charge Trump with this and other similarly impeachable spending violations. Now we know one reason why—the ongoing secret budget deal.

Just as astonishing was that the  Democrats caved on the funding for Obamacare. Year after year, Democratic leaders defended Obamacare, rather than support more efficient  full Medicare for All (with free choice of doctor and hospital). See H.R. 1384 for the most recent version of Medicare for All.

With the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just deciding against the individual mandate in Obamacare, what does the House Democratic leadership do? They go along with the Republicans’ demand to repeal the medical device and health insurance taxes that were helping to fund Obamacare’s expansion of health insurance coverage for twenty million people.

It gets worse. The House Democrats approved a huge increase of $22 billion to the already bloated, wasteful military budget in return for Trump approving paid family leave for federal government employees. The Democrats made this deal instead of just pushing for paid maternity leave,  a right provided in all other Western democracies and numerous dictatorships in the world!

“No problem,” say the feeble Democrats. It is just more of the terrible practice by the Democrats of giving equal increases for the military budget, demanded by the Republican illegal war hawks, as the price for social service funds for low income families and children. What a grotesque way to spend taxpayer money!

To what level has this Congress lowered itself? Allowing the Trump dump to contaminate Congress even extends to cruel bigotry. They allowed Trump to extend his racist discrimination against the American citizens of Puerto Rico by reducing the Medicaid funds from $12 billion over four years to up to $5.7 billion over two years. The higher sum and longer term already were endorsed by Republican and Democratic leaders on two Congressional Committees.

Robert Greenstein, director of the highly respected Center on Budget and policy priorities, declared that “with another funding cliff looming in two years under the new agreement, Puerto Rico may continue to lack the certainty it needs to commit to long-term increases of its very low payment rates to health care providers [vendors] to stem their alarming exodus to the mainland, to provide coverage for such key health treatments as drugs to treat Hepatitis C, and to cover more poor, uninsured residents.”

Over the years, Congress has weakened its exclusive constitutional “power of the purse” by giving presidents waivers. As with the war powers, Congress has delegated more of its constitutional authority to the Executive Branch.

Just days ago, the racist President Trump bragged before a large campaign rally that he has cut off “six hundred million dollars” in aid for Palestinian relief, including aid for suffering children. This was a long term assistance program, under past Republican and Democratic administrations, to help provide the barest necessities to displaced and impoverished Palestinians whose territories are blockaded or militarily occupied by the Israeli government.

Washington justified such expenditures for both humanitarian and security purposes. No more, says the imperial Trump, exercising his Congressionally-granted waiver.

Congress has also long abandoned its constitutional authority over tariffs to the imperial presidency. Constitutional litigator Alan Morrison has challenged the White House’s unilateral imposition of tariffs—now involving tens of billions of dollars—on imports from foreign countries. In January Morrison will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that the authority to impose tariffs belongs to Congress.

What is Trump doing with these tens of billions of dollars deposited in the U.S. Treasury? Congress has not approved spending them for any programs or objectives. When I asked a staffer with the House Budget Committee what is being done with loads of money, she replied that “we have it under study.”

Secret government has its direct consequences for the American people, and abdication of congressional checks on the Executive Branch is harmful and cowardly.

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Boeing’s Perilous Bungling Requires New Leadership

By Ralph Nader
December 16, 2019

The Boeing executives and marketeers responsible for over-ruling Boeing engineers on the 737 MAX are still in charge of this very troubled aerospace company. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and the rubber-stamp Board of Directors, with two trophy ambassadors, are still running Boeing – thirteen months after the deadly 737 MAX crash in Indonesia and nine months after the deadly 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia that together took 346 lives. Boeing said in October that it would appoint a board member with deep air safety experience, but it has not happened yet. (Muilenburg is the only board member with an aeronautical engineering background)

Boeing has displayed an egregious pattern of mismanagement. The company is in trouble from contractors, the Department of Defense, and NASA. California Representative John Garamendi said Boeing had “serious quality issues” with the KC-46 aerial tanker used by the military and accused the company of “pushing profits over quality and safety.” According to NASA’s Inspector General Paul Martin, NASA “essentially paid Boeing higher prices to address a schedule slippage caused by Boeing’s 13-month delay.”

First-rate former Boeing engineers, including John Barnett and Ed Pierson, are exposing the reckless conditions at the Boeing 737 and 787 Dreamliner plants in Washington state and South Carolina.

Boeing managers and directors are still on the job and paying themselves handsomely.   These reckless marketeers are able to get away with this because Congress and the White House have disabled the FAA and turned it from a safety watchdog into an industry lapdog, leaving Boeing free to self-certify its planes.

With intensifying investigation by the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, under the chairmanship of Congressman Peter DeFazio, a stunning internal FAA risk assessment turned up. After the October 29, 2018 Lion Air Flight 610 was hijacked by powerful MCAS software which took control of the aircraft from its pilots. A December 2018 FAA memo concluded that there would be 15 catastrophic crashes globally over the life of the 737 MAX fleet – ranging 30 to 45 years. That would mean the deaths of at least 2900 human beings.

Dr. Alan Diehl, an aerospace engineer with extensive experience at the FAA, at the Department of Defense, and in private business, told the Wall Street Journal that this prediction “would be an unacceptable number in the modern aviation-safety world.” The FAA analysis, surfacing very late in the wake of the two planes going down due to Boeing’s criminal negligence, was conditioned on the 737 MAX not flying until there are design and software corrections.

Chairman DeFazio noted other design problems with the Boeing 737 MAX, including rudder vulnerabilities.  Boeing leadership has displayed all sorts of derelictions,  including refusing to adequately inform pilots about the problems with the 737 MAX, producing faulty training manuals, and refusing to insist on full simulator training. Not only that, but the 787 Dreamliner has been found to have inadequate protection in case of lightning strikes (another Boeing bosses over-ruling of their own engineer’s warnings). Boeing also laid off hundreds of quality control inspectors in its factories, preferring to rely on machines.

The FAA’s new chief, Stephen Dickson,  recently warned Boeing to stop announcing ungrounding times for the approximately 400 737 MAX already in the hands of the airlines. He indicated that the FAA is stiffening its backbone a little by saying that the ungrounding schedule will be decided by the FAA. Boeing has just announced it was suspending production of the 737 MAX for the time being.

The next step for Dickson would be to ask FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate Administrator for Safety Ali Bahrami to resign. Elwell and Bahrami turned their backs on airline passenger safety, let Boeing dictate its own safety decisions, and kept the public and Congress in the dark. There is no way the FAA can recover its responsibilities so long as Elwell and Ali Bahrami are still in positions of any responsibility.

Bahrami admitted he wasn’t even aware of his own agency’s risk assessment of the Boeing 737 MAX, noted above.

Meanwhile, the families of the deceased continue to advocate that the Boeing 737 MAX be required to undergo full certification with full pilot simulator training. In their grief, these wonderful family members are fighting daily for the future safety of tens of millions of airline passengers.

Please see flyersrights.org for updates and your participation. You can find their comprehensive report at the following link: https://flyersrights.org/737-max/white-paper/. And see a Democracy Now! Interview on Boeing’s misdeeds: https://www.democracynow.org/2019/12/16/ralph_nader_boeing_737_max_jet

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