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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Unsafe at Any Speed Fifty-fifth Anniversary (1965-2020)

November 30, 2020, marks the 55th anniversary of the publication of Ralph Nader’s landmark book Unsafe at Any Speed. The book highlighted the faulty rear suspension system of the General Motors Corvair, This defect could cause the Corvair to skid violently and roll over. The corporate negligence that produced the various Corvair defects, Nader said, was “one of the greatest acts of industrial irresponsibility.” More broadly, Unsafe at Any Speed documented how Detroit habitually subordinated safety to style and marketing concerns. The main immediate cause of automobile occupant injuries, Nader demonstrated, was not the “nut behind the wheel” so often blamed by the auto industry, but the inherent engineering and design deficiencies of motor vehicles that were woefully unsafe, especially in terms of precluding “crashworthiness”—no seat belts, etc. TIME Magazine listed Unsafe at Any Speed as one of the 100 best and most influential books in the English language.

Auto safety-related measures—the 1966 federal laws, federal agency and many preventive measures they created—have averted 4.2 million auto deaths over the past 55 years.

The publication of Unsafe at Any Speed led to GM’s contemptible investigation by private detectives and attempts to smear Nader, GM’s subsequent public apology at a Senate hearing started the legislative process that quickly led to the 1966 auto- and highway- safety laws, which have saved countless lives and profoundly accelerated the pace of auto safety innovation.

On March 22, 1966 at a Senate hearing chaired by Senator Ribicoff, James M. Roche, the President of GM, apologized to Nader saying:

As president of General Motors, I hold myself fully responsible for any action authorized or initiated by any officer of the corporation which may have had any bearing on the incidents related to our investigation of Mr. Nader…. While there can be no disagreement over General Motors’ legal right to ascertain necessary facts preparatory to litigation… I am not here to excuse, condone, or justify in any way our investigating Mr. Nader. To the extent that General Motors bears responsibility, I want to apologize here and now to the members of this subcommittee and Mr. Nader. I sincerely hope that these apologies will be accepted. Certainly I bear Nader no ill will.

This episode catapulted auto safety into the public spotlight, leading to a series of landmark laws that have prevented millions of motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries. In particular, the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed put forces in motion that brought about the passage of the law that created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in order to assert federal leadership in auto and highway safety. The agency was empowered to set minimum, uniform safety, performance, and fuel-efficiency standards for all motor vehicles, and to require automakers to notify owners and recall cars containing safety-related defects. The episode also established Nader in the public mind as a fierce, incorruptible advocate and watchdog, a reputation that launched one of the most singular and enduring roles in American politics. Nader has used his considerable talents as an organizer, activist, legal analyst, and author to rally public opinion, start many citizen initiatives, and push through hundreds of reforms in business, government, and various professions.

In November of 1966, Ralph Nader’s lawyer, Stuart Speiser, filed suit against GM for its harassment, invasion of privacy, attempted intimidation, and other nefarious actions. In 1970, GM settled with Nader, agreeing to pay him $425,000, which he used to found several public interest organizations. Newsweek Magazine remarked that this settlement will, in effect, serve as “General Motors’ contribution to the consumer movement. They are going to be financing their own ombudsman.”

This prediction proved to be true; Nader went on to found a wide variety of organizations, all aimed at advancing corporate and government accountability. Nader-inspired groups include Public Citizen, Center for Auto Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Clean Water Action Project, Disability Rights Center, Pension Rights Center, Princeton AlumniCorps, and Appleseed Foundation—a nonprofit network of 16 public interest justice centers.

In addition, Nader helped establish the state-based PIRGs—Public Interest Research Groups— which are consumer organizations that function on college campuses and in communities in 23 states. The PIRGs have published hundreds of groundbreaking reports and guides, lobbied for laws in their state legislatures, and called the media’s attention to consumer, environmental, and energy problems. Many other nonprofit advocacy groups followed in the wake of these Nader- inspired organizations.

Nader also played a pivotal role in advancing and improving several major federal consumer protection laws such as the motor vehicle safety laws, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the landmark Clean Air and Clean Water Act Amendments, and the crucial Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). He worked tirelessly to launch federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

An author, lecturer, attorney, and political activist, Nader’s life-long work and advocacy have led to safer cars, healthier food, safer drugs, cleaner air and drinking water, and safer work environments. In 2006 he was cited by The Atlantic as one of the one hundred most influential figures in American history, TIME Magazine has called him the “U.S.’s toughest customer,” the New York Times has said of him “[w]hat sets Nader apart is that he has moved beyond social criticism to effective political action,” and in 1974, a survey conducted by U.S. News and World Report rated him as the fourth most influential person in the United States.

Nader continues to work relentlessly to advance meaningful civic institutions and citizen participation as an antidote to unaccountable corporate and government officials.

Not only did the publication of Unsafe at Any Speed spur the creation of many necessary organizations, it also provided a fundamental and resilient framework for protecting citizens from corporate malfeasance that can expand to meet old and new injustices.

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Biden Needs To Report Trump’s Wreckage in Executive Branch as Markers

The Biden Transition team is about to connect with the Trumpsters running federal departments and agencies into the ground. The Biden staff should prepare for serial shocks. Biden’s people will be observing the first glimpses of staggering wreckage and corruption. They need to tell the American people what they find.

The Trump regime gave itself lawless license to do whatever it wanted. Trump operatives dismantled or disabled humane program after humane program, health and safety regulations, and economic protections designed to protect working people, children, the elderly, and people living in poverty.

After all, the Trumpsters got the green light from their boss Donald, who when not playing golf, tweeting tantrums, and watching Fox News, believed that “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

When the Bidenites take over on January 21, they will find hollowed-out government law enforcement and shelved research projects. They’ll see offices empty after government scientists and other civil servants were forced out. Other public servants will be sitting in what the Japanese call “window jobs,” ordered to stop working on vital matters ranging from limiting climate disruption to stopping Wall Street rip-offs. The Trump administration turned important government jobs into do-nothing positions.

Heavily censored federal CDC workers, benumbed from prohibitions on what they can say, and who were ordered not to speak the words “climate change” will receive their rescuers with deep relief. EPA workers who were ordered to repeal or weaken over 100 environmental safeguards – unleashing deadly toxins into people’s air and water – will feel the breaking of the restraints imposed on sound science.

Specialists who were told to weaken or eliminate about 50 occupational health and safety standards and literally shut down enforcement at OSHA will also start to see the early dawn.

Biden’s team will discover destruction or theft of public records, spectacles of looting and plunder of public trust and public property.

They will hear stories of corporate lobbyists coming in and out of the agencies as if they owned the government because they did. Trump turned over the federal government to Big Business, as has never before happened, brazenly, openly, and endlessly. His nominee to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) into nothingness, marauding Mick Mulvaney, openly said the agency’s mission was to protect Wall Street Big Banks and unscrupulous payday lenders!! Mulvaney abandoned tens of millions of defrauded Americans. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Mulvaney proved “he would rather cozy up with payday lenders and industry insiders than listen to consumer advocates who want to make sure hard-working Americans are not cheated by financial scams.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Mick Mulvaney had “no intention of putting consumers above financial firms that cheat them.”

Much of the Trump Administration corruption started at the despoiled White House, which Trump turned into a family business incubator to enhance his Brand. Trump’s crime spree was aided and abetted by his “personal lawyer,” Attorney General, William Barr who twisted government lawyers into ignoring or overturning the rule of law under orders from the political bosses.

Shoveling out corrupt, crony contracts, grants, subsidies, giveaways, and bailouts in a frenzy of taxpayer torture will occupy many officials in the new Administration as they attempt to unravel, expose, and if possible, claw back ill-gotten gains.

Unlike the entering Obama Administration back in 2009, the Biden Administration must come in with a determined mindset as they begin restoring the rule of law and reversing Trump’s cruel and crazy policies. Biden’s team will also need to start restoring past services and initiating new services for the citizenry.

They must not let the Trumpster outlaws escape and become immune fugitives from justice. If Trump’s wrecking crew escapes the arm of the law, for sure they and their base will return with a vengeance in two and four years.

For Joe Biden, healing America is not incompatible with bringing these self-dealing, law-breaking, constitution-violating, anti-American crooks to justice. In truth, both tasks are complementary with the basic belief that “nobody is above the law,” which escapee Trump has long treated as a laughable cliché.

The way to start this redeeming process is to draw a clear line between what Biden’s appointees find and what they intend to change. They must give cogent reports to the people about Trump’s crumbled and wasted agencies so that Trump’s record of destruction and pillage will not be forgotten because of short public memories. Otherwise, Trump’s mass media will let him leave the public with the truth-denying Orwellian impression that he left the Democrats “a great” federal legacy.

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Trump’s Massive, Lawless, and Immoral Legacy to Our Country Will Continue Unless …

By Ralph Nader
November 20, 2020

Trump has gotten away with almost everything throughout his bankruptcy-driven business career and his corrupt, cruel, and costly political years in the White House. Things changed on November 3, when he was retired by the voters.

Refusing to concede, however, so as to prolong his crazed fantasies, Trump is distracting the mass media from his looting of the Executive Branch departments to the advantage of big business bosses and his failing family enterprises. Expect this to continue until January 20, 2021. (See my op-ed titled: “If Trump loses, expect him to exact revenge on his way out” Boston Globe, August 10, 2020).

Trump and his cronies will get away with their crime sprees unless Joe Biden has a Justice Department team that will follow the law and prosecute any government official who broke the law. In 2009, Barack Obama let law-breaking Wall Streeters and the Bush/Cheney war criminals become successful fugitives from justice.

Trump has inflicted lasting damage to our social morality and to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the destructive and uncontrollable momentum unleashed by Trump will not be easily reversed.

Trump’s unabashed verbal and physical abuses of women were widely publicized. Consider the repulsive example Trump sets for young boys and young men who see the president getting away with menacing machismo.

Trump boasts about paying very little income taxes. With declining corporate tax compliance in the country, exacerbated by his starving of the IRS enforcement budgets. Many of Trump’s supporters think his tax avoidance and evasions are cool and believe his actions are a model for emulation.

Trump’s relentless and baseless charges alleging massive election fraud are inflammatory and dangerous. Trump’s lies seriously undermine the public’s confidence in our vote-counting system, not just by his supporters, but by foes and friends abroad.

Trump’s erosion and subversion of the laws and the Constitution have lowered the bar for future presidents and their regimes. Chronic Presidential violations of the law preceded Trump (the Obama, Bush, and Clinton Administrations and other previous administrations before them), but Donald Trump took this Executive Branch’s lawlessness to new depths – both in open sight and under a cloak of government secrecy. Corruption, obstruction of justice, self-dealing, and mass giveaways to corporate crooks is a way of life at the lying Trump White House.

It is difficult to overestimate the continuing harm to our beleaguered democracy and its people, should Trump and his cohorts not be brought to justice. (See our new book, Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All)

Trump’s assault on facts and truth is multiplied by his non-stop tweets to 70 million people and a dittohead media. Previous Presidents had a tiny bully-pulpit by comparison. Trump projects an image of getting away with stiffing everyone – his workers, consumers, and creditors, as a failed gambling czar, and the Congress, the IRS, and government investigators as President.

When the leader of the country, headlining the daily mass and social media throughout each day presents such a many-sided decadence and criminality, it can only accelerate a decaying culture and goad his supporters into believing that they too can get away with anything. Remember Trump said, “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

A country-wide rebound, toward a wholesome, respectful, and steadfast America is more than the responsibility of just the political representatives who replace the Trumpsters. Ultimately, it must come from aroused civic communities that have historically saved and advanced our country.

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