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

By Ralph Nader
September 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Democrats Must Demolish Trump’s Delusional Law-Breaking Dystopia

By Ralph Nader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ralph Nader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Needed: Indicators for Measuring Injustice and Societal Decay

By Ralph Nader

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

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

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

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

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

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Ranking the Infinite Greed, Power and Controls of Giant Corporations

By Ralph Nader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ralph Nader and Colleagues Call on Speaker Pelosi to Revive the Office of Technology Assessment

August 3, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Office of the Speaker
H-252 U.S. Capitol
United States Congress
Washington, DC 20515

RE: Your Authority to Fund the Defunded Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) Constructive Leverage!

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

A critical arm and intellectual infrastructure of Congress – the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) – has been defunded since Speaker Newt Gingrich ordered such, after he toppled the complacent Democrats in November 1994. This left Congress without sound independent advice by some 140 scientists and technologists on a long list of decisions by the Congress to oversee, stop, reduce, or start funding for scientific and technological programs.

Not until 2009-2010, when the Democrats regained control of both Houses, did a broad coalition of scientists, civic advocates, and members of the Congress, led by Democratic Representative Rush Holt (a former Princeton University scientist), urge you as Speaker to revive the OTA. A distinguished number of Nobel laureates, former staff and officials of the OTA, and your Democratic colleagues, sought hearings backed by an impressively documented case for refunding. To no avail. You then opposed public hearings and apparently told aides that you did not want to give the Republicans an opportunity to accuse Democrats of creating another bureaucracy on Capitol Hill. (The OTA’s budget was a parsimonious $21 million in its last year. A bureaucratic OTA is a figment of fevered Republican imagination). It is very alarming that the damage Gingrich did in lobotomizing Congress continues after him. The number of expert congressional overseers has been slashed beyond the bare bones, while the massive Executive Branch to be overseen has grown topsy-turvy and for the worst.

So, another decade was lost. Another vacuum of credible advice by Congress’s own OTA (as has occurred to a lesser extent with the diminished GAO and CRS) enveloped sectors and issues such as artificial intelligence, systemic invasions of privacy, boondoggle, huge ballistic missile defense and nuclear upgrade expenditures, climate disruption, Boeing 737 Max, genetic engineering, citizen surveillance technology, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, Covid-19, fracking, computer procurement waste, atomic energy, renewable energy, health care, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food additives, catastrophic environmental disasters, such as the BP oil spill, occupational safety, the controlling power of corporate algorithms, consumer product hazards, and more.

What filled this vacuum was corporate-driven pseudo-science (see former OSHA director David Michaels’ new book, The Triumph of Doubt: Dark Money and the Science of Deception), which twisted and tortured legislation and appropriations. Business lobbyists thwarted oversight while the number and experience of congressional staff overseers shrank. This is a serious situation now under your watch.

There followed an open sesame for unscrupulous corporations that arrested prudent ways to avert trillions of dollars in waste, perils to the American people and other peoples abroad, inverted perverse priorities, and resulted in bad, dangerous decisions that have ramifications to this day.

You now can move toward action-driven enlightenment despite the Republican control of the Senate. For your House majority can create a unicameral OTA and fund it without the affirmation of the Senate majority wallowing in its Dark Ages. The House OTA can be reconstituted functionally as an arm of the House independent of the Senate. Acting on behalf of the House alone, you cannot be blocked by the Senate as you were in 2019 when the House included $6 million for the bicameral OTA in its House-passed version of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 277). As a matter of law, 31 U.S.C. 1105, 1107, and custom, neither the Senate nor the President can interfere with the budget proposed by the House for itself, including the funding of House Committees or House Offices.

You and your colleagues also can make an overwhelming substantive case for funding a House OTA based on scores of audits, investigations, and reports that invite first-class advice, assessment, and testimony from your own public servants. The small technology unit in GAO, while useful for GAO’s culture, is not sufficient. There is a massive backlog of congressionally neglected work to be done. Consider how pathetic the questioning has been by Committee members, already deprived of adequate staff (the Gingrich model), of the Silicon Valley executives once the Congress finally got these imperial bosses to agree to come and testify. Similarly, both Democrats and Republicans have been seriously fact-deprived in their hoopla support for failed attempts at deregulating and boosting the hyped premature autonomous vehicles push by the industry, especially in 2017 and 2018. Worse has been the automatic annual funding by Congress of the mega-billions of dollars for the ballistic missile defense boondoggle, criticized by leading technical experts, without oversight since its inception during the Reagan years.

Corporate lobbyists and installed corporate-indentured officials in the Executive Branch will no doubt oppose such a revived OTA. Its reports will be staples of public congressional hearings. Congressional ignorance makes Congress much easier to ignore. Your iron control of the House of Representatives can make Republican opposition flaccid and evidentially self-serving to their greed and corporatism. Please use your power to address the problems that stem from the absence of OTA and fund it this time.

The undersigned are sending this letter to other members of Congress, numerous scientific and engineering associations, individuals, distinguished academic and non-academic scientists and technologists and, of course, the media.

Please do not prejudge from the last decade. As recent events and civic energy demonstrate, this is a new era with new possibilities once deemed politically difficult in those past years of inertia and self-censorship. Seize the hour!

Two of the undersigned, in their exercise of civic duties, have written you several letters on important matters without ever receiving an acknowledgment, much less a serious response. Is this your established office practice, apart from constituent services for your San Francisco residents? The right of citizens to petition for redress of grievances is enshrined in the First Amendment in furtherance of self-government. Public officials should act accordingly.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader, Esq.

Bruce Fein, Esq.

Claire Nader, Ph.D.

Joan B. Claybrook, Esq.

Louis Fisher, Esq.

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Fed Guarantees Unproductive Debt and Perilous Speculation

By Ralph Nader

The Federal Reserve Board – our unaccountable Central Bank – needs more citizen and Congressional supervision. Fees from financial institutions fund its operations, not Congressional appropriations. It is as secret as it wants to be and that’s plenty. (See Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country by William Greider). Plus, the Fed can print money at will. In the past several years it has “produced” trillions of dollars that juiced the stock market’s speculation.

Back nearly 90 years ago, the influential British economist, John Maynard Keynes, warned about stock markets veering into speculation and away from investments to build the real economy. Today, he might view stock markets as the epitome of wasteful “casino capitalism.” They have very little to do with raising money for useful investments and everything to do with making bets, as in multi-tiered derivatives, puts, and options to make money from money. Most often using, in Justice Louis Brandeis’s phrase, “other people’s money,” the Wall Street gamblers reap lucrative fees from unproductive speculation.

Fed Chairman, Jerome H. Powell, has chosen to instill “confidence” in the stock markets and credit markets by injecting trillions of dollars into the financial system to reassure the Wall Street speculators that the Covid-19 pandemic won’t crash the money markets into chaos and bankruptcies.

But Powell, the Fed and the bankers who dominate the Fed and its regional branches have set the stage for this constant bailout of reckless bubbles and debt binges. By keeping interest rates too low, now near zero, they have encouraged non-financial companies to go deeper and deeper into riskier debt ($6.8 trillion and surging). Borrowing has been so cheap that some of this debt was incurred by companies just to buy back their stock! Stock buybacks do not produce anything but higher metrics for executive compensation (See article, Why Stock Buybacks Are Dangerous for the Economy by William Lazonick).

Powell has turned a deaf ear to tens of millions of Americans, with modest incomes, who together have trillions of dollars in money market and bank savings accounts and are getting almost nothing by way of interest income. The result is less consumer spending. Yet Powell arrogantly says he’s not even thinking about raising interest rates even to one percent. Lenders like this approach because the sky-high interest rates they charge are not regulated.

Meanwhile, this huge pile of money looking for some return on investment is being lured into the stock market further driving up price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios into nosebleed territory.

Powell shrugs and assures the big boys on Wall Street that the Fed will have their back without limits. In return, the corporations continue their unproductive speculation and what the New York Times called a Fed-driven “debt binge.”

To make matters worse, these trillions of dollars are chasing fewer listed companies on the stock exchanges. Mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, and raising money from cheap debt instead of equity, over the past 25 years have cut the number of companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange by half.

Note how little all these financial machinations directly help the average families in America. More money is controlled by the few than ever before, but little is going into productive investments in the creation of jobs and services sorely needed in this, shaky “real economy”.

Some economists have written that “the stock markets are not the economy.” True enough if they are describing how stocks can soar on Wall Street while the Main Street economy plummets. Unfortunately, few economists focus on the stock market speculators sucking money belonging to the people (pension and mutual funds) into the speculation vortex while corporate bosses borrow cheap money, at record low-interest rates, for self-serving unproductive uses.

The Fed is pursuing a short-term game of guaranteeing corporations against self-imposed riskiness (the Fed is even starting to buy corporate bonds). This authoritarian Central Bank, with its own bulging red ink balance sheet, is turning its massive injections of “liquidity” into a narcotic for Big Business.

Such addictions hurt many innocent people back home trying to keep jobs, find jobs, and pay their bills. The House Democrats must hold rigorous public hearings on the Fed which ironically is demanding that Congress provide more immediate relief for ordinary people.

In May the House Democrats passed a $3 trillion package addressing these needs and sent the bill to a balking Republican-controlled Senate.

Now it is time for various House Committees to publicly question Chairman Powell about the costs of the Fed’s callous indifference to the real economy and struggling Americans.

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Calls Mounting For Trump to Step Aside From Covid-19 Bungling

By Ralph Nader

Public Citizen’s open letter, co-signed by over twenty nonprofit civic organizations working for the public health, demanded that Trump and Pence immediately give up their disastrous daily mismanagement of the Covid-19 response. Trump’s bungling and ignorance have allowed the Covid-19 virus to spread faster at an alarming rate around the country.

Public Citizen’s letter to Trump and Pence asserted that their “callous disregard for human life during the still-raging coronavirus pandemic is appalling and must cease,” and called for both of them to “immediately step aside from any further role in leading or communicating about the federal response to the pandemic, and to delegate full operating authority over the response to senior professional public health and medical experts within the agencies of the U.S. Public Health Service.” (See letter at citizen.org).

Dr. Peter Lurie, President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is circulating a sign-on letter to current and former public health officials and professionals to be sent to President Trump defending Dr. Anthony Fauci and calling for science-based policies and the involvement of government scientists as the nation develops its response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

More Republicans in the Congress are agreeing with this shift to scientific and managerial expertise. Trump’s chaotic, mindless, wrongheaded, ego-obsessed careening week after week is aiding and abetting the spread of the virus. The Trump regime is not leading; it is obstructing the state efforts to combat the virus, over-riding or undermining the scientists and pushing lethal nostrums to desperate citizens.  Trump and his toadies are also failing to provide needed supplies, facilities,  uniform safeguards and clear guidance to the state officials.

Republican Senators, Susan Collins (Rep. Maine) and Shelley Moore Capito (Rep. West Virginia) have publicly declared that Trump should “step back” and let the “health professionals” be in daily operating charge. Many more GOP legislators privately and not so privately agree.  They are seeing their poll numbers drop because of the Trump virus debacle.

The Democrats should take the initiative and draft  a veto-proof bi-partisan bill to establish a special Commission to oversee  the federal government’s management of the pandemic by scientists , public health officials and  management experts. Moreover, members of Congress, whether singly or together, should demand that the giant medical and public health associations in this country speak out and demonstrate the utter urgency of the situation, presently controlled by a ferocious, ignorant fool. (They can use more diplomatic language).

Senators and Representatives must get to work and hold public hearings featuring people who know what they’re talking about. Former heads of the CDC led by Thomas Frieden are ready to testify. Prominent Deans of medical schools and heads of national and state public health associations have much to say and recommend. Nurses have already voiced their concerns by picketing  the White House.

The Trump Administration’s lethal incompetence is unprecedented in American history. The fatalities and sickened are increasing in the pandemic’s surge. The economy is falling apart. Tens of millions are unemployed, facing hunger and eviction. The Pentagon stockpiles nuclear weapons while public health budgets are depleted, and schools beg for funds to safely open in the fall.

At the same time, the Captain Queeg in the White House is actually boasting that he has stopped enforcement of disease-preventing federal protections, and is continuing to push for terminating critical nursing home regulations and pressing to end Obamacare that will leave 23 million more Americans without health insurance. Sheer madness!

Wake up America!  We need to do far more than we have done to force Trump to resign or at least step aside.   Wake up Trump supporters!  This virus is non-partisan and its destruction is insatiable. Our country cannot any longer afford to have a crazy man in the White House.

For the sake of many lives that can be saved, every person should call the White House comment number (202-456-1111) or the White House switchboard (202-456-1414) and tell Trump to step aside for the good of the country.  Your messages tell Presidents which way the political winds are blowing. Make this “rumble of the people” speak loud and clear NOW!

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The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation

By Ralph Nader

Today’s New York Times headline boldly exclaimed, “PRESIDENT IS ‘NOT ABOVE THE LAW,’ JUSTICES DECIDE.” But then the Supreme Court majority found a way not to apply the law to Trump’s defiance of Congress.

Didn’t this question get decided in 1776 and more formally in 1787 by our Founders?

In obtaining information for overseeing the Executive Branch, the plenary power of Congress neither needs affirmation by the courts nor can tolerate years of judicial delays. It is time for the illogical Justices, who find few limits to vast Presidential powers either domestically or in pursuit of undeclared wars of Empire, to stop shredding Congress’s constitutional authority.

The very conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, addressed the futility of Congress employing the courts to obtain information by subpoena for legislation, for example, strengthening the President’s financial disclosure obligations. The maximum congressional strategy for securing presidential documents is through use of its impeachment authority, he wrote.

An article of impeachment was voted against President Nixon in 1974 for defying a congressional subpoena that was not validated by a court. Trump has defied scores of subpoenas, dozens of formal Congressional demands for information and testimony by Executive Branch officials. Yet, apart from the Ukraine impeachment in December 2019 by the Democratic House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has kept eleven other serious ongoing impeachable offenses by Trump and his lawless regime on the shelf. You can read these impeachable offenses compiled by constitutional law experts, Bruce Fein, Louis Fisher, and me, and presented by Congressman John Larson (D-CT) in the December 18, 2019, Congressional Record H-12197.

Absent a robust defense of our democracy by the Supreme Court or Congress, the citizenry must mobilize a mass demand for Trump’s resignation – for all of America’s sake. Whether the case is made for the rule of law or against disastrous, dangerous, and delusionary policies from Trump’s Wall Street over Main Street White House, the support should be treated as non-partisan and as the essence of patriotism.

On June 5, 2020, the Portland (Maine) Press Herald called for Trump to resign, urging Trump to ask himself – “Can the country take five more months like the last five?” The editorial asserted that “your shortcomings are unleashing historic levels of suffering on the American people.”

When this staid newspaper took this position, it did not evaluate the prospect of success. That is not its responsibility. Nor should any such prejudgment of Trump’s rejection of resignation inhibit hundreds of Congressional lawmakers, civic group leaders, columnists, and editorial writers, who have made the overwhelming case against corrupt Donald Trump in great documented detail. But, unfortunately, most of these people have failed to reach the obvious conclusion from their convictions.

The case for Trump’s resignation should never be withheld by weighing the odds of that happening. The demand itself is the necessity of our times. Here are some reasons:

1. Trump’s ignorance and ego-driven bungling and obstructions of professional scientific management of the Covid-19 pandemic occur daily and often in open sight. After weeks of delay fatal to tens of thousands of Americans, his continuing abandonment of presidential leadership in assuring supplies, facilities and critical coordination for the states warrant removal of this flailing, failing, careening so-called chief executive. America cannot wait to stop the irreparable destruction that will occur from now until January 20, 2021.

2. The mass resignation demand highlights in an organized way the case for Trump’s removal (supported by 60% of women in a November 26, 2019, CNN poll) that Congress possesses and has failed to pursue in both the House and Senate.

No one so guilty of violating the basic laws of our land, so corruptly selling our government to giant corporations while asking CEOs for campaign contributions should disgrace our White House any longer. Trump’s increasingly shrill bigotry, pressing for selective voter intimidation and suppression, and incitements to violence illustrates what Alexander Hamilton meant by citing the “abuse of the public trust” as an impeachable offense.

3. The widespread discourse and debate pursuant to a mass resignation demand will highlight the specifics of Trump’s damage to our country. He arbitrarily declares another “economic emergency” so as to make corporate crimes worse by literally stopping enforcement of consumer, worker, environmental and economic protections. Big corporations over people again.

The resignation demand highlights his abuses against women over the years, his regime’s leaving young people defenseless against rapacious commercial universities and student loan exploiters, his support for freezing a $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage and other anti-worker slams that are all under-reported.

4. Because Trump doubles down on his many outrageous refusals to “faithfully execute the laws,” spending monies not appropriated by Congress, pursuing nine wars undeclared by Congress, giving his cronies lucrative government contracts, all the while daily distracting with his new-cycle-dominating foul-mouth tweets and personal attacks, the media has become jaded to the larger questions of why this madman is still in the Oval Office.

The reliance on the election in November afflicts many civic groups from pressing for Trump’s eviction now. “Me Too” activists still go after powerful misogynists but have given up on the 800-pound elephant in the room – Trump. Other citizen advocacy organizations cite their condemnatory reports, their press releases and their lawsuits against Trump. The failed gambling czar laughs at all this, even when the media reports on these meritorious efforts.

Trump will get away with everything until January 20, 2021, unless he is removed from office, whether by impeachment and conviction, or a massive public resignation demand that sinks his poll numbers, leading him to quit because he can’t stand losing the election.

5. Trump himself will nourish community-level resignation demands by his increasing interference with the rights of voters, leading the GOP to daily clashes with election officials, civil rights groups, and the people’s notions of fair play.

Already underway in GOP controlled states are pernicious efforts to obstruct voter registration such as the closing of precincts in minority areas, purging of certain voters, and crazed harassment of low-income voters, including requiring notarized mail-in votes or launching inappropriate challenges of signatures. There are neither prosecutors nor judges who can stop these and other dictatorial ravages in time for November 3, 2020.

With Trump still in office, prepare for an embroiling election crisis, as he unleashes street violence and harassing lawsuits before favorable judges citing the results as “rigged,” a “hoax,” and “stolen,” no matter his margin of defeat. With the pandemic of Covid-19 still taking casualties, why not try to get him out of the office and in the process inform and arouse the public? Genuine conservatives and current and retired military people are seething against Trump acting in their name and taking them for granted. They are ready to join the effort to protect our democracy and the rule of law.

The history of the Democratic Party, losing repeatedly to the worst Republican Party ever at the national and state levels, is not propitious for the coming months. Are Democratic operatives up to either a pre- or post-election day Trump and his unscrupulous GOP fanatics? The stakes are too high to rely on the Democrats.

It is our obligation as citizens to organize and demand Trump’s resignation and focus millions of voters on turning out the Trumpsters and their four-year Dark Age that is wrecking America.

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Statement by Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein on Trump v. Mazars

The partial U.S. House of Representatives victory in the enforcement of four subpoenas for Trump and family financial records from third parties in Trump v. Mazars today in SCOTUS underscores the folly of congressional resort to federal courts in lieu of impeachment for defiance of subpoenas. The subpoenas were issued in April 2019. The SCOTUS decision sends the case back to lower courts for further review, which will not be complete until after November’s balloting, making them politically irrelevant. Moreover, House subpoenas expire at the end of the issuing Congress–in this case, January 4, 2021 before SCOTUS will have time to address the issues again after its remands. Congress will be back to square one in January.

This is no way to run a railroad. We are working with Congressmen Larson, Raskin, and others for a House Resolution making defiance of a congressional subpoena an impeachable offense. Once exercised, it should concentrate the mind of the Executive Branch wonderfully on subpoena compliance with alacrity.

Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent in Trump v. Mazars makes clear that the congressional impeachment mode endows Congress with virtually limitless oversight or investigatory authority over the President. All the more reason to make defiance of a congressional subpoena an impeachable offense.

-Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein

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