Ralph Nader

It's late — but not too late for Democrats to expose the GOP of corruption, repression and plutocracy: Ralph Nader

Will Democrats save themselves and the country?

The big mainstream media won’t do it for them. Based on their twin rules that “if it bleeds, it leads” and “both sides-ism,” they’re content to simply keep citing inflation and crime numbers while the Republican Party largely rotates angry slogans (Woke! Grooming! Cancel culture! Critical race theory!) with the subtlety of Russian foot soldiers. Such fears and smears crowd out any sustained coverage of the stakes, of who’s lying and with what consequences.

How can it be that a Democratic Party that has enacted so many successful programs for middle-class families over the past years and decades is no better than tied with a GOP that would have disgusted Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Ronald Reagan?

It’s late but not too late for Democrats to retake the offensive and expose a party of corruption, repression, and plutocracy. To advance that prospect, this past spring we organized WinningAmerica.net — 24 prominent public advocates and civic leaders offering their best language and get-out-the-vote strategies. Remember, no one of us knows more than all of us.

The result was “Crushing the GOP,” a collective volume that decodes Republican disinformation and proposes three core messages beyond abortion for the campaign’s final stretch — on democracy, the economy, and Social Security.

Economy and inflation

Until now, Democrats have avoided rebutting hyperbole about inflation for fear of elevating what Republicans believe is their strongest issue. The GOP, however, has already been shouting about it from the rooftops, and you can’t beat something with nothing.

Democrats have to hit back on two fronts — explaining why there’s inflation and then turning the tables.

High prices are the result of worldwide inflation, as well as the pandemic, Vladimir Putin’s war, and price-gouging of consumers, since — when it comes to gas, food, cars, etc. — prices are set by businesses, not government.

What is the GOP plan to lower them? It has none, other than running $100 million in ads that blame Democrats while the Biden administration is striving to lower drug and energy costs and health premiums in the Inflation Reduction Act, which the GOP unanimously opposed. And this administration produced more jobs in two years than the 16 years of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump combined, each of whom bequeathed America two steep recessions.

There must now be a relentless comparison of the economic records of Biden and Trump.

GOP vs. democracy

Although each party blames the other for the crisis of democracy, there’s no comparison: Only one party started a bloody insurrection to overthrow a democratically elected government, enacted state voter suppression laws, and is mobilizing “Vote Watchers” to menace people using ballot drop boxes.

The focus on democracy is not mere virtue-signaling but explains why we can’t fix the economy. Fair elections are the way we translate public sentiment into public laws, which won’t happen when the minority party tries to stifle votes of, especially, people of color.

That’s the reason Congress refuses to increase the $7.25 frozen minimum wage and extend the $300-a-month child tax credit to 58 million children.

Less democracy means less income for average families. Yes, market-driven prices are too high, but democracy is priceless.

Social Security and Medicare

Americans know they’ve paid into these programs over a lifetime but most don’t know that the GOP wants to sabotage both. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rick Scott of Florida, are threatening to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless these programs are cut. This is an issue that can move undecided voters.

At this point, only the Biden White House has the “bully pulpit” to reach voters over the shouting of the hosts at Fox News and talk radio. Biden got where he is by being a nice guy and an avatar of bipartisanship. His administration and party will now be judged by whether he can rise to the occasion and respond to the eternal political question, “Who’s on your side?”

The answer: “Republicans are dangerous extremists who are stealing your rights and wallets.”

Ralph Nader: The rule of law overwhelmed by 'unbridled political power of corporatism and other lawless forces'

Norms, in a society or culture, are the accepted ways of behavior we grow up observing and learning in our everyday lives. Norms are rarely backed up by laws, though when norms are grossly violated, calls for legislation may ensue.

In our country, voluntarily recognized fundamental norms have been breaking down. The chief impetus for this collapse is the ascending supremacy of commercial power over civic values. The surrender of the latter to the former in sector after sector has spelled the decline of our country as measured by its own promise and pretensions. Compared to seventy years ago, there are almost no commercial-free zones anymore. Almost everything is for sale—or should be in the minds of dogmatic free market fundamentalists and its apologists like Milton Friedman and his disciples.

Let's be specific. When I was a schoolboy in the nineteen forties, the top CEOs of the Fortune 300 largest companies kept their pay at about 12 times the salary of the average worker in their business. If any CEO had sought to increase that ratio to 50 or 300 times, he would be roundly condemned from the pulpits to the boards of directors, to civic and charitable groups. In those days, CEOs also did not want to arouse the anger of their industrial labor unions or encourage workers to demand more pay in response.

Now CEOs of major companies pay themselves, via a rubber stamp board of directors, 300 or more times the average worker's salary. Some are more extreme, such as Apple's CEO Tim Cook, whose pay package this year comes down to $833 a MINUTE on a 40-hour week. Hardly a squeak of objection is heard from anyone. Hey, you didn't know? Grab whatever you can get is the mantra of greedy CEOs. Absent any laws on maximum income, scratch one norm for tossing modest pay equity out the window (See, The Case for a Maximum Wage by Sam Pizzigati, 2018).

By contrast, it used to be an unchallenged norm to pay women less for doing the same work as men. No more. In 1963 the Federal Equal Pay Act made it illegal to pay women lower wages than men.

It used to be against strict social norms for companies to sell directly to children, bypassing their parents to exploit youngsters' vulnerabilities. For one, little kids cannot distinguish between ads and programming. Now commercial marketing directly to children—junk food and drink, toxic medicines and cosmetics, harmful toys, violent entertainment videos, and more—is a business approaching a half trillion dollars a year. The iPhone doubles down as a gateway to this electronic child molestation.

The blasphemy of yesterday has become commonplace today.

Gambling used to evoke strong moral condemnation, thereby driving it underground to the back of newsstand stores, often called the "numbers racket." Now gambling is at your fingertips via your computer. State governments run lotteries. Business is moving big time into sports gambling. Casinos are everywhere.

The norms against gambling were promoted by organized religion. When the churches started allowing big bingo in their basements, the defenses against above-ground, organized gambling (apart from Las Vegas) began to crumble. The gambling boosters claimed it would produce tax revenue and help the elderly. This deception was part of the pitch by the builders of the first casinos in Atlantic City, NJ. Now gambling casinos are described as economic development engines, however fraudulent that assertion is seen by economists.

Far from age-old stigmas, a failed gambling czar was selected (by the Electoral College) as U.S. president in 2016. He broke more norms and laws daily than all previous presidents, and until recently has gotten away with these violations.

College sports stars have started selling their likenesses and other emblems—something that for years was verboten and cause for expulsion.

Historically, there have been cruel norms beyond avarice. Some were ensconced into law—such as legalized slavery before the Civil War.

Child labor in dungeon-like factories was not only legal, it was accepted as a norm. It has been illegal for almost a century since the law memorialized the new norm that youngsters should be going to schools instead of going to sweatshops.

It's good to think about norms—big and small—as yardsticks of what kind of society we want. Not doing so, over time, can result in deeply recognized norms such as protecting the personal privacies of the young and old, smashed to smithereens by Facebook, Instagram, and other Internet barons who make huge profits by getting, for free, their customers' detailed personal information every day, which is then sold to advertisers.

Because of the unbridled political power of corporatism and other lawless forces, the rule of law cannot begin to catch up with protecting good norms or replacing cruel norms. This challenge first rests on ourselves, on our reinvigorating civic and educational institutions, on our bar associations, our faith groups, and on each family circle.

That is why it is so important for active citizens who strive to get, for example, health, safety, and economic protection standards made into law by petitions, lawsuits, marches, writings, or lobbying not to despair when they so often lose these battles. For even if they do not prevail, they are keeping alive the public, decent, respectful underlying norms of our society that can be advanced and ultimately provided with legal protections.

You must have some crucial norms you see being fractured or weakened. Speak up about them, otherwise you'll find them going, going, gone. It is time to reverse the lowering of expectations by people. Even big historic norms are under systemic assault, like the vendors' drive to reject cash/check for payments by the incarcerating credit card, payment system Gulag. Or the Trump GOP's massive lies about voter fraud in order for dangerous Republican extremists to enact legislation to obstruct voting and honest vote counting.

Biden Democrats are deer in the headlights against dishonest GOP onslaught: Ralph Nader

There is something about entrenched bureaucracies that transcend nations and cultures. When bureaucracies are confronted with unanticipated or new challenges, they freeze – like a deer facing headlights.

Sears, Roebuck and Company saw Walmart coming out of Arkansas for years and spreading all over the country, but the Sears bosses could not adjust to deal with this swarming business model. Sears, once the premium retail and mail order company in the nation, is now almost gone.

The lumbering General Motors (GM) had years to confront the electric car challenge of Tesla. Tiny Tesla took on giant GM, which built electric cars as prototypes long before Elon Musk was born. GM launched the much-troubled Chevrolet Volt and other converted model brands, but Musk isn't losing any sleep over competition from GM or the other giant auto manufacturers. He just reported last quarter sales of over 300,000 electric vehicles, which means expected sales of well over one million dollars in 2022 or 50% over the previous year. Tesla's profits are skyrocketing as well, as more Tesla manufacturing plants open. The GM bureaucracy, under CEO-engineer Mary Barra, just can't put it together no matter its bold promises to convert to all electric vehicles.

Similarly, the national Democratic Party bureaucrats are inept or bewildered. With its record-setting campaign fundraising, the Party can't seem to figure out how to go on the offensive against the overtly lying, cruel, corrupt, law-breaking, Wall Street over Main Street, Trumpian Republican Party. GOP fictions are fabricated and reinforced with wild falsifications – e.g., critical race theory being taught in elementary schools, Democratic politicians wanting to defund the police, Democrats being "socialists," and the latest, that Democrats support teaching gay rights and gay lifestyles to early elementary school children. These accusations have left the Democratic apparatchiks tongue-tied. They can neither come up with easily pummeling rebuttals, exciting slogans, nor even authentic boasting about delivered and proposed social safety net and infrastructure programs that provide necessary assistance. How hard is it to boast about the $300 per month to over 60 million children cut off by GOP Congressional callousness? Or a $15 minimum wage? Or good-paying jobs repairing and expanding public services for all workers also opposed by the GOP?

Article after article in the mainstream media depicts the Democratic Party as depressed, discouraged and predicting their own defeat in the November election. They are searching for effective "messaging" by looking over each other's shoulders.

Bear in mind that many of their Republican opponents are political crooks, law violators and voter suppressors. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who is in charge of the Senate November campaigns, wants to tax 100 million low-income Americans and sunset Social Security and Medicare. (See, Senator Scott's An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America).

Democratic political operatives are frantic and down in the dumps. Yet they cling to their corporate-conflicted consultancies that are making it worse for themselves. Facing their self-fulfilling prophecies of November doom in the Senate and the House, they are still not welcoming the advice and know-how of the civic community, which fifty years ago worked with the Democratic Party to enact the fundamental consumer, environmental and worker safety legislation.

GOP strategists mock the Democrats regularly as not having a clue as to what ordinary Americans want. Unfortunately, whether it is arrogance, stupidity or historical ignorance, the Dems rarely return calls of civic leaders who know how to connect with Americans where they live, work and raise their families.

Of course, it doesn't help that the mainstream media has excluded the activities and reports by these national and state organizations. They gave coverage to the work of these groups in the past.

Can, at the very least, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and its network of related federal and state committees, pollsters, fundraisers and consultants learn from Harry S. Truman in his underdog 1948 presidential campaign against the former prosecutor and New York Governor Thomas Dewey? Pollsters and pundits described Truman as a sure loser and a has-been. Southern segregationists or Dixiecrats walked out of the Democratic nominating convention and formed their States' Rights Party.

These setbacks just got "Give-Em Hell Harry" underway. He called Congress back into session so he could show the public the differences between his policies and the retrograde Republicans. As related in Robert Kuttner's new book, Going Big, Truman pushed "…legislation on housing, aid to education, a higher minimum wage, development and reclamation programs for the South and West, increased Social Security, and expanded public power." With these popular hammers, Truman provoked the fierce opposition of what he repeatedly called, the "do-nothing 80th Congress," controlled by Republicans, and set the stage for highlighting sharp differences with the GOP in his presidential campaign.

Come September 1948, Truman spent 33 days covering 21,928 miles on the railroad campaign trail, attacking the Republicans and their "big money boys." In Dexter, Iowa, Kuttner reports, "he told a crowd of some ninety thousand people" (outdoors):

"I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who's hitting you? …These Republican gluttons of privilege are cold men. They are cunning men…They want a return of the Wall Street dictatorship…I'm not asking you to vote for me. Vote for yourselves."

This was the language of class warfare that still resonates as well in 2022 as it did in 1948 or in 1933. The Democrats can even quote mega-billionaire Warren Buffett who candidly said there is class warfare in America, "…but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

The Democrats have memories of many inept races for the White House and the Congress that they should have won handily over the last 25 years. What they should remind themselves of now is how the FDR, Truman and LBJ Democrats won their elections against much more tame Republicans than the now vicious, snarling, anything goes GOP candidates that have turned themselves into Trumpian lackeys.

Here are Ralph Nader's top reading recommendations for this holiday season

The most important books exposing real injustices are often the least read. Nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of neighborhood book clubs insist on only reading and discussing works of fiction. They don’t want hard feelings over disagreements.

Major book awards and prizes rarely select books addressing corporate crimes and what to do about them.

Not surprisingly, you rarely read about these books or see or hear about them on television and radio shows, including PBS and NPR. Corporate funders prefer convenient alternatives such as art, culture, history, and entertainment.

The following recent books connect us to the grim reality, pulling us back from myths and virtual reality escapes to the societal mirror we all must face for the common good of today and tomorrow.

1. Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America by Eyal Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021. Someone has to do the dirty work for society’s survival. But these workers get paid too little and are unprotected so they become casualties.

2. The Hidden History of American Oligarchy: Reclaiming Our Democracy from the Ruling Class by Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2021. No one presents the forgotten history of evil corporate power more concisely and relevantly than the erudite daily radio talk show host, Thom Hartmann. Try him and see.

3. Power to the People: A Young People’s Guide to Fighting for Our Rights as Citizens and Consumers by Richard Panchyk, Seven Stories Press, 2021. Give an eye-opening gift for teens and for those a little older. Surprise them.

4. The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work by Jan Eeckhout, Princeton University Press, 2021. The author demonstrates how the unbridled market power of giant corporations has “suffocated the world of work,” which could lead to disastrous market corrections and political turmoil.

5. Unsettled: How the Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy Failed the Victims of the American Overdose Crisis by Ryan Hampton, St. Martin’s Press, 2021. Ryan Hampton – a victim himself – shows what must be done to hold these dangerous corporate hucksters accountable and help prevent the human casualties of such avaricious profiteering.

6. Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing by Peter Robison, Doubleday, 2021. Robison takes you inside the Boeing company and its decaying monetized culture. He reaches inside the manslaughtering stealth software that took over the planes from their pilots and drove one new 737 MAX on a death trip into the Java Sea and another 737 MAX deep into Ethiopian farmland.

7. First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threatby Christopher W. Shaw, City Lights, 2021. Shaw showcases the magnificent historical contributions of Benjamin Franklin’s grand idea as background to the struggle between a people’s post office and the grasping corporate supremacists. Shaw shows ways for the people to prevail.

8. Twelve Ways to Save Democracy in Wisconsin by Matthew Rothschild, University of Wisconsin Press, 2021. Learn practical steps to shift political and electoral power to all the people, not just Wisconsinites, from a long-time progressive activist and writer.

9. 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting by E.J. Dionne Jr., and Miles Rapoport, The New Press, 2022. They make the case for voting as a legal, civic duty which can dissolve all the proliferating obstacles to and the current suppression of voting. Universal voting is a one-stop antidote to massive corruption of our elections and the billions of bigoted, commercial dollars infesting the corrupters with impunity.

10. Un-American: A Soldier’s Reckoning of Our Longest War by Erik Edstrom, a West Point graduate, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020. This galvanizing call to our country makes a broad and deep case against militarism, boomeranging empire, and its devouring of America. You’ll want to read this declaration of conscience, facts, and reason – twice!

11. Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison by Chris Hedges, Simon & Schuster, 2021. Hedges exposes the problems that plague our society’s criminal injustice system. He is a truth-teller and thinker who knows our country has to do better.

12. Closing Death’s Door: Legal Innovations to End the Epidemic of Healthcare Harm by Michael J. Saks and Stephan Landsman, Oxford University Press, 2021. The third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, is from avoidable errors by the healthcare industry. The authors carefully calculate the loss from health harm is about 400,000 lives every year plus more avoidable injuries and diseases afflicting survivors. Federal and state governments do almost nothing about this preventable toll.

Special Recommendation:

13. Old Growth: The Best Writing About Trees From Orion, Orion Magazine, 2021. Trees will look very different to you after reading this collection of essays about their intelligence, resiliency, offerings, necessity, and adversaries. Don’t be surprised if on your walks soon, you find yourself hugging them.

Here are 11 ways NPR is straying from its public mission

This month is the 50th anniversary of National Public Radio (NPR). Knowing about my work back then with other advocates, to persuade Congress to pass legislation creating NPR and PBS, (which was opposed by most of the commercial radio/TV industry), a friend asked what I think of NPR now.

A few observations, drawn from listening to NPR largely over the WAMC station in Albany, New York during a Covid-19 year, are in order.

  1. I find the features and the collaboration with other investigative groups, such as Pro Publica, very enlightening. One piece about Amazon's warehouses was especially memorable. Moreover, Scott Simon and David Brancaccio are so capable as to be considered under-challenged.
  2. NPR's top-of-the-hour news amounts to little more than three minutes. It is repetitious and basically a minor headline service. This mimicking of commercial network radio news is not what we envisioned 50 years ago. The prolonged 6:15 pm evening weather forecasts on WAMC are often longer than the evening news briefs at 6:00 pm.
  3. There is just too much weather forecasting throughout the day. On WAMC, around mid-day, they'll tell you about the weather in California and the mountain states before you hear the forecast for the local listening region. They even promote the weather forecasts. So obsessed are they that they repeat the forecast over the four adjoining regions they service preceded by an overall forecast. Think of the additional local news that could be reported instead.
  4. The public radio/TV legislation from Congress did not envision advertisements. Public funding, audience, and foundation donations were seen as the way to reduce commercial pressure over this public institution, inspired in part by the more extensive BBC and CBC in the UK and Canada.
  5. What started as a "just a little bit of commercial sponsorship," when Congress got tight some years ago, has now gone wild. Do we really need to be reminded that "support for this station (or for NPR) comes from x, y, z contributors," about thirty times an hour? Mind-numbing, hour after hour! NPR makes sure to identify corporate sponsorship such as Facebook or Amazon when they are doing reports affecting these companies. But top NPR management defiantly refuses to monitor the corporate character or respect for the law of these and other companies before they give them NPR's credibility.

    The Corporate Crime Reporter provided NPR management with a list of law violations, such as those by Raymond James, an NPR "sponsor" pursuant to asking about any of NPR's Ad monitoring. NPR boss, the usually incommunicado John Lansing, essentially blew off the inquiry, saying there is no need for a filter to protect the audience.
  6. A key reason for Congress creating NPR was to have its affiliates fill local news gaps, largely neglected by the commercial stations. WAMC has spent good money hiring local reporters in upstate eastern New York, western Massachusetts, and Vermont who know and stay on the beat. But national NPR has spent far too much time on entertainment subjects and interviews and not enough time on civic events, reports, and movements, aside from issues of race, gender, and police violence being covered by the mainstream media. Even NPR's daily birthday announcement almost always features entertainment or professional sports figures. National civic, labor or educational leaders are scarcely noted.
  7. More civic news suffers not for lack of time. NPR and affiliates offer plenty of hours for music. Forget about Saturday and Sunday evenings. At some NPR affiliates, 6:00 pm on weekends is sign-off time in favor of entertainment time.
  8. NPR often describes the personal plight of people in poverty or suffering from other deprivations, but rarely probes the structural causes or the role of concentrated corporate power in creating the problems. Increasingly, corporate power is shaping an evermore dominant corporate state that allows mercantile values to seriously weaken the social fabric and moral norms of our society.

    Not many NPR reporters use words like "corporate crime," "corporate welfare," or cover the corporate capturing of agencies, the vast unaudited military budget, or many other realms of American life controlled by "corporatism." But then what can one expect when they ignore credible civic groups, who have timely evidence of such domination, and keep on interviewing one another inserting four-second sound bites to academics and consulting firms?

    NPR's practice during election periods of having the anchors interview its reporters, who are often youngish, inexperienced, and bland, instead of skilled, fact-reliable outsiders is disappointing. NPR's election postmortems too often are superficial and lack rigor.

    Just recently, an NPR report on the most recent ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline continued its repeated omission of how victims of hackers actually pay in ransom or why such payments can't be traced. And NPR's reporting on why our secretive government seems helpless in protecting towns, cities, hospitals, and others who have been hit by ransomware attacks is anemic.
  9. Last month to the dismay of some NPR journalists, there was no national obituary on Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General and early civil rights and human rights leader. NPR did devote five minutes remembering a Rockstar.
  10. NPR's blunders are well-known to local affiliates. WAMC, a mid-size station, pays NPR a million dollars a year. But on January 6, 2021, NPR Washington was AWOL – over an hour late in feeding its affiliates reports on the insurrection, which started getting reported by CNN around 2:00 pm. WAMC reporters were furious, and I was told this wasn't the first time NPR messed up.

    There is an omnipresent air of smugness about NPR, such as their constant display of confident ignorance on Congress' constitutional authority, and Presidential/Executive Branch lawlessness. This shortcoming was especially troubling during Trump's impeachments. Where are you, Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg, to give tutorials to your younger colleagues who need to be more sensitive to these issues and to their in-house ageism over the years?
  11. Then there are the daily irritations. The interlude music is often inappropriate and too long. Marketplace at night with hyper-Jumping Jack, Kai Ryssdal has music as noisy background while he is giving the brief stock market numbers.

Unlike its commercial competition, NPR and PBS's News Hour start their news programs with ads, something commercial NBC, CBS, and ABC do not do. NPR has puzzles during prime-time evening news time, this itself is a puzzling fillip.

NPR has long had a Public Editor on staff. They almost always respond to listeners' substantive complaints by saying these are not matters within their jurisdiction. The new Public Editor is Kelly McBride. She insisted on not being on staff but instead on contract from St. Petersburg, Florida. This is the link for the public editor: (https://help.npr.org/contact/s/contact?request=Ask-the-Public-Editor-about-ethics) to protect her independence. After a few tries, she actually returned my calls and reassured me that she is looking out for the listener's best interest. We'll see.

It would be good if listener feedback to NPR was made easier and more regularly structured. WAMC has lots of listener feedback on issues chosen daily by its Roundtable and other interview shows. But as one might expect some questions, as about top management salaries and bad advertisers lunching off WAMC's credibility, seem out of bounds.

I have started a Reporter's Alert suggesting many kinds of stories that are not covered or only nibbled at by the media. You can see them aggregate at https://reportersalert.org/ and of course, this resource is available for perusal by NPR's editors and reporters.

There is so much more to learn about NPR. Since NPR gives plenty of time to conservative politicians, an educational bipartisan Congressional hearing and report would be a good way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. It's just not productive to give NPR a pass simply by comparing it to the rancid competition spoiling our public airwaves for free.

Here's how Biden can prove he truly is a 'union guy'

President Joe Biden likes to say, "I'm a union guy." Unfortunately, as Vice President from 2009 to 2017, his boss, Barack Obama wouldn't let him be a "union guy." Even with large Democratic majorities in Congress and control of the White House, worker needs went unmet.

Setting records for raising Wall Street campaign cash, Obama reneged on his 2008 promise to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 per hour by 2011. He reneged on a promise to the AFL-CIO to push for "card check" to facilitate workers wanting to form a union. He did nothing to preserve traditional earned worker pensions provided by corporations while bailing out Wall Street crooks whom he refused to prosecute.

Obama stubbornly blocked an eager Biden from going to speak at a massive workers' rally in Madison, Wisconsin at the critical time when Democrats were challenging corporatist Governor Scott Walker's anti-union "budget repair bill."

One would think after eight years of biding his time, a liberated Joe Biden would be the most pro-union labor president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He probably is by default, due to the cowardliness of his predecessors who would have lost some of their own elections without union support.

The question now is: Given the entrenched deprivations of workers and abandonment of labor to serf-labor countries abroad, is President Biden pro-union-labor enough, apart from the temporary Covid-19 relief? The answer has to be a qualified, NO.

He has dropped into limbo the long-overdue $15 federal minimum wage from his legislative priorities. He did give strong verbal support to the Amazon workers union-organizing drive at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. However, when the workers lost, Biden did not assail the extreme union busting tactics by Amazon that exploited weak labor protection laws. He has finally nominated the new head of OSHA – the under-funded, Trump-wrecked job safety agency that is in shambles.

What he has done is come out strongly for the Congressional Democrat's latest version of labor law reform—the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) that passed the House on March 9, 2021, with a 225-206 vote.

The problem with the PRO Act, like its legislative predecessors over the past 60 years, is its faint-hearted attempt to chip away at the unmentioned, gigantic, anti-union TAFT-HARTLEY ACT OF 1947—a devastating anti-organizing and union representation law.

The Taft-Hartley law was so extreme that its principal author, Senator Robert Taft (R-OH), offered to amend some of its sharpest claws in the late 1940s. His offer was rejected by outraged unions who wanted a more significant repeal. That, astonishingly, was the last major bellow by the large unions and the AFL-CIO against this stifling chokehold over the union movement. Union membership in the corporate sector is at 6.3 percent. Overall union membership regularly hits new lows.

Even mentioning the repeal of Taft-Hartley by unions and Democratic candidates has become taboo. When campaigning for president in Detroit at a labor hall in 2004, a retired UAW worker came up to me with tears in his eyes. He said, "I never thought I would hear getting rid of Taft-Hartley from a presidential candidate."

On the 50th and 60th anniversaries of Taft-Hartley's passage by a Republican Congress – that is 1997 and 2007 – I strenuously urged the AFL-CIO and the largest unions to hold public demonstrations of protest. (Does anybody think big business would have allowed such handcuffs without battling year after year for repeal?)

The union leaders wouldn't inform the public of this pernicious law with a national event against this tragic curtailing of worker's freedoms to band together and bargain together in major workplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald's. No other western country allows such draconian anti-labor restrictions.

Unions are waiting on the Democratic Party to lead while the Democrats are waiting upon big business. Biden should make ending the anti-worker, anti-union, and pro-employer union-busting, Taft-Hartley Act the battle cry for the Republic. The PRO Act doesn't come close to this objective.

Taft-Hartley is a wide-ranging, intricate paradise for union-busting law firms, corporatist legislators, and atavistic judges. It authorized states to enact so-called "right to work" laws or more properly named "right to shirk" laws, allowing workers to keep benefits of union contracts but not pay union dues. This provision vastly decreases union membership and increases employer leverage to resist union organizing.

Taft-Hartley gives employers all kinds of ways to block union certification elections, harass workers with demands for obstructionist hearings on what is an "appropriate bargaining unit," permits aggressive anti-union organizing, and outlaws the "closed shop" for union solidarity.

One of the most damaging provisions defines "employees" so as to exclude supervisors and independent contractors. This greatly diminished the pool of workers eligible to be unionized. For example, years ago AT&T widely expanded the number of "supervisors" to both deplete the union membership numbers and use their "supervisors" as management control tools.

Taft-Hartley has other pro-management provisions, including controls over pensions, disclosure of information, and workplace time for union purposes.

Once Taft-Hartley was on the books, its restrictions were strengthened by the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (whose last pro-corporate general counsel was just fired by Biden). With the expansion of the "gig economy," by Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and other companies whose business model is built on having no employees, the challenge for American workers is nothing less than displacing anti-labor dictates with a comprehensive worker's human rights law.

The PRO Act is decidedly not anywhere near Biden's recent recognition that "Nearly 60 million Americans would join a union if they get a chance …. They know that without unions, they can run the table on workers – union and non-union alike."

Ralph Nader: Here's how congressional Democrats betrayed voters on Medicare

Do you remember the promises made by the Democratic Party's presidential and Congressional candidates on universal health insurance? You can forget their pledges and somber convictions now that your votes put the Democrats in charge of the House and the Senate. The Democrats' leaders are abandoning their promises and retreating into a cowardly corporatist future.

Here is the present scene. Leading Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have decided to spend tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the giant health insurance companies like Aetna and United Healthcare to "cover recently laid-off workers and those who purchase their own coverage," as The New York Times reported. There are no price restraints on the gouging insurance premiums or loophole-ridden policies. That is why giant corporate socialist insurers love the "American Rescue Plan," which gives them socialist cash on the barrelhead. The law lets insurers decide how and whether they pay healthcare bills with co-pays, deductibles, or grant waivers. All these anti-consumer details are buried in the endless and inscrutable fine print.

Whatever happened to the Democrats' (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pramila Jayapal, etc.) demand for single-payer – everybody in, nobody out – with free choice of doctors and hospitals instead of the existing cruel, and profiteering industry for which enough is never enough? Senator Sanders often mentioned a Yale study, published on February 15, 2020, that found:

Although health care expenditure per capita is higher in the USA than in any other country, more than 37 million Americans do not have health insurance, and 41 million more have inadequate access to care. Efforts are ongoing to repeal the Affordable Care Act which would exacerbate health-care inequities. By contrast, a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act, has the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services. Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than $450 billion annually…." (See the study: Improving the Prognosis of Health Care in the USA, February 15, 2020).

Well, House Speaker Pelosi is discouraging House Democrats from supporting Representative Pramila Jayapal's H.R. 1384, Medicare for All Act of 2019, the gold standard for single-payer. News reports indicate that Representative Jayapal (D-WA) and Representative. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) will reintroduce their Medicare for All bill next week. Speaker Pelosi is telling Democrats in the House to focus instead on the modest expansion of Obamacare with its corporate welfare, utter complexity and seriously inadequate coverage. Almost eighty million Americans are presently uninsured or underinsured – a level that will not be significantly reduced for deprived workers by tweaking Obamacare during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A modified Obamacare, with no price ceilings, will hardly reduce the tens of thousands of American deaths every year because people cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time to prevent fatalities. The Yale study also found that: "ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68,000 lives and 1.73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo." Tweaking Obamacare does little to stem the relentless surge in healthcare prices and profits in our country, which is unique for not placing billing ceilings on medical procedures and drugs. This "get whatever you can" behavior by the vendors is so uncontrolled that healthcare billing fraud and abuse is costing people one billion dollars A DAY! Malcolm Sparrow, who is an applied mathematician at Harvard, estimates medical billing fraud amounts to at least ten percent of all healthcare expenses each year.

Obamacare does nothing to limit the perverse incentives of a fee-for-service system that includes unnecessary operations, over-diagnosis, and over-prescribing all of which increase the risks of preventable casualties. A Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine peer-reviewed study in 2016 estimates that close to 5000 lives are lost weekly due to such "preventable problems" just in hospitals (see: Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S., May 3, 2016).

It gets worse. Year after year, the corporate Democrats, along with the Republicans, are facilitating expanding corporate takeovers of Medicare and Medicaid. The giant and widening attack on Medicare is called "Medicare Advantage," which more accurately should be called "Medicare [Dis]advantage." Our corporatized government, under both Parties, has been allowing deceptive promotional seductions of elderly people to take Medicare [Dis]advantage – now fully 40% of all Medicare beneficiaries – which is just a corporate insurance plan with multiple undisclosed tripwires.

Former President Trump worsened what he inherited from the Democrats in outsourcing Medicare. He launched something called "direct contracting" that, "could fully turn Medicare over to private health insurers" declared Diane Archer, former chair of Consumer Reports, in her article on March 8, 2021. Medicare Advantage premiums can be pricey. According to Kay Tillow, Executive Director of the Nurses Professional Organization, "The Medicare Advantage Plans are smiling all the way to the bank. In 2019 each Medicare Advantage beneficiary cost taxpayers $11,822 while those in original Medicare cost $10,813 each – that's over $1,000 more and over 9% more per person for the for-profit insurers!"

Where is the outcry among Democratic politicians to reverse completely the corporate takeover of Medicare? Last year, many Democratic candidates pontificated about the need for single-payer health insurance, but now in Congress, we are scarcely hearing a peep about this vital human right. Their campaign rhetoric is just distant memory. Tragically, it is now harder than ever for the elderly to get out of Medicare [Dis]advantage and go back to traditional Medicare.

Millions of elderly people are deceived by televised marketing lies and slick brochures. The hapless Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should investigate and end the deceptions. Congressional investigations and hearings are long overdue. As the authoritative Dr. Fred Hyde says about the so-called Medicare Advantage: "It's not what you pay, it's what you get." That is, the corporate health plan works until they get sick, until "they want their doctor and their hospital." Dr. Hyde was referring to the narrow networks where these companies park their beneficiaries.

More astonishing in this story of the rapacious corporate takeover of Medicare is that AARP promotes these flawed plans to their members, takes paid ads by big insurers in AARP publications, and derives income from this collaboration.

Imagine, over 50,000 SEIU retirees are automatically placed by their unions in these Medicare [Dis]advantage traps without first being allowed to choose traditional Medicare.

This whole sordid sabotage of the nineteen sixties Democrats' dream, under President Lyndon Johnson, of taking the first step toward universal healthcare coverage for everyone, begs for more exposes. It begs for more clamor by the progressive Democrats in Congress who are strangely passive so far. I'm speaking of Representatives Jayapal, Raskin, Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), and the receding "Squad," as well as Senators Warren and Sanders. If we can't expect these stalwarts to start the counterattack that will save lives, save trillions of dollars over the years, focus on prevention not just treatment, and diminish the anxiety, dread, and fear, that the citizens of Canada and other western nations do not experience because they are insured from birth on, who is left to defend the American people against the arrogant health insurance corporate barons?

I'm sending this column to these self-styled progressive Democrats along with a two-page specific critique of corporate Medicare from the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) website. PNHP's membership counts over 15,000 pro-single-payer physicians. In a comment on the PNHP site, Don McCanne, M.D., says, "Remember, the mission of private, for-profit Medicare Advantage insurers is to make money, whereas the mission of our traditional Medicare program is to provide health care. We are supporting a program that deferentially caters to the private insurers and their interests when we should be supporting a program that is designed to take care of patients. Those being deceived by the private Medicare Advantage marketing materials really do not realize the bad deal they may be getting until they face the private insurer barriers to needed care. Silver Sneakers won't take care of that." (See: https://pnhp.org/news/russell-mokhiber-explains-why-private-medicare-advantage-plans-are-a-bad-deal/)

If you care about this issue, tell your Members of Congress it is time to pass Medicare for All represented by H.R. 1384.

Ralph Nader slams Democrats for 'deliberately disabling themselves' on impeachment

Donald J. Trump has once again circumvented justice, but not because of a want of facts or law. His life preserver was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to refrain from calling critical witnesses possessing "smoking gun" incriminating evidence at Mr. Trump's second impeachment trial. Her plan to abandon an Ace of Spades for a Two of Clubs to prove Mr. Trump's guilt was upset by Republican freshman Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) who gave the Democrats an opportunity to subpoenas witnesses to testify under oath to fortify the video evidence introduced during the House Managers' case in chief.

Ms. Beutler's disclosing a conversation with House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) proving President Trump's endorsement of his mob's resort to lethal force and violence to unconstitutionally prevent a peaceful transfer of presidential power precipitated a surprise 55-45 Senate vote this morning, including several Republicans, to entertain live witnesses. Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin (Maryland) appeared on NPR shortly before the Senate reconvened from a recess at 12:30 pm. The Senator declared that the impeachment trial would be continued for two weeks; and, that the only issue remaining for resolution between the prosecution and defense (then in private negotiations) was whether five witnesses for each side would be named or left open for later identification in a Senate witness resolution.

Mr. Cardin was clueless of the Democratic capitulation, snaring defeat from the jaws of victory. The House Managers and Mr. Trump's defense team agreed to a stipulation to admit into the record a mere written statement by Congresswoman Beutler, not delivered in person under oath or via a deposition. Not a single witness would be called.

The impeachment case presented by the House Managers was only the tip of the iceberg of what transpired in the White House, in Washington, D.C., in George, Michigan, and Texas, and around the country generally in Mr. Trump's relentless, lawless, unconstitutional exertions to falsify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Trials without witnesses are not genuine trials—even in a civil impeachment prosecution in which the sole sanction is disqualification from future federal office, not loss of liberty or even a fine.

During Mr. Trump's first impeachment trial over his attempt to brandish the powers of the White House to coerces Ukraine into announcing a criminal investigation against Joe Biden, Democrats sought a few witnesses. The Senate Republican majority nixed the request. During the second and vastly more consequential impeachment trial, the Democrats bypassed witnesses notwithstanding Mr. Trump's flagrantly unconstitutional attempt through force and violence to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from counting state-certified electoral votes and Democrats enjoying a Senate majority.

Once again, Speaker Pelosi, the puppeteer of the House Managers, took impeachment to the Senate without a full hand. She disarmed the Democratic case against Mr. Trump for inciting an armed insurrection against the legislative branch in two respects: no witnesses; and, no additional impeachment articles pivoting on Mr. Trump's systematic institutional attack on Congress and usurpation of its authorities with impunity. (Note his monarchical decree on July 23, 2019: "Then I have Article 2, where I have the right to do anything I want as president.," which he employed to justify serial violations of law. See our attached letter to Speaker Pelosi and proposed Articles of Impeachment printed in the Congressional Record (December 18, 2019, H12197).

We expect that aggressive investigative reporting will soon reveal the details of Speaker Pelosi's masterminding the calamitous decision to forego trial witnesses in the second impeachment trial, the last clear chance to hold Mr. Trump accountable for shattering separation of powers. The reported ostensible reason for a truncated trial—shorter than the narrower Ukraine predecessor—was to avoid distraction from President Biden's agenda and stimulus legislation. But the argument does not wash. The Senate could have completed both a full impeachment trial and moved Mr. Biden's agenda by working a full week (not the customary three-day routine) and split their time between the trial and legislation. The urgency of the Biden agenda seems attenuated since the Senate is in recess all next week.

An NPR reporter observed: Democrats had a chance of opening up the trial with witnesses about what really happened in the White House "from primary sources, but in the end the desire to be done won out." The loss was steadfast courage and an abdication of constitutional duty to lay down markers to preserve the nation's Republic for ourselves and our posterity against wannabe Trumps craving dictatorial powers.

In the end, the rush trial was not a matter of rationing the Senate's time, it was not a matter of Senate ignorance or incapacity. It was a loss of nerve and the disastrous misguided strategy of Speaker Pelosi with her House Managers selected for pliability.

Democrats deliberately disabled themselves. History teaches that cowardice is possessed of infinite obstinacy. We are fortunate that the nation's founders against King George III were made of sterner stuff. The Constitution's framers endowed their descendants with sufficient congressional authority to prevent coming full circle back to monarchy under a different name. Alas, we are not so fortunate in our current congressional leadership and the portentous forces they have emboldened and ignited in the coming years.

Historical Note: During the Watergate impeachment proceedings in 1974, on the verge of an affirmative House impeachment vote, Senate Republican leaders Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott traveled to the White House to inform President Richard Nixon that conviction in the Senate was inevitable. Where are Republicans today with a former president who criminally incited force and violence with the imminent danger of death against Members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 election in violation of the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act? Where were you Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Lindsey Graham, and other lawmakers intimidated by Trump within the GOP? Groveling before the tyrant, or aiding and abetting his despotic movement?

Ralph Nader: Here's how Democrats disarmed themselves before Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

Donald Trump, has with luck, eluded the consequences of being a failed gambling czar with no respect for the law. But his luck has reached a new level with Congressional Democrats refraining from holding him accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution as regularly as the rising and setting of the sun for four years. (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197).

Now the Democrats are moving forward into an impeachment trial, using only a fraction of the voluminous incriminating evidence against a president who incited insurrection against Congress and the Constitution. Trump directly incited an armed mob, bent on mayhem, against both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate who were gathered to count state-certified electoral votes under the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act. The Joint Session of Congress heard the vile mob chant the chilling phrase "Hang Mike Pence," the Vice President who had fallen from Trump's favor by refusing to compromise his constitutional duty to count rather than to second-guess the state-certified votes.

The Democrats know if the Senate neglects to convict Trump (requiring a two-thirds majority) and prohibit him from running for the White House ever again (requiring only a simple majority) they will be unleashing a vengeful monster, loaded with cash for a 2024 presidential run. Republicans should fear that prospect to avoid the risk of internecine warfare.

So, wouldn't you think with the election over the impeachment managers would go full throttle before the national television audience and conduct a trial for historical accountability, the rule of law, and protection of posterity?

Instead, Democrats are signaling failure by prejudging how Republicans will vote before seeing what should be gripping trial evidence and the rising outrage of the American people. Trump's polls are steadily falling already.

Prejudgment leads to another Democratic mistake – settling for a short trial. Even Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have said they want a truncated impeachment trial so the Senate can focus on the Covid-19 driven stimulus bill. This legislation is already moving quickly. Besides, the Senate can drop its routine of working three days a week and start working five days a week or more just as do most Americans.

There are other self-inflicted constraints. Democrats should have subpoenaed Trump and Pence immediately after the House impeached Trump on January 13, 2021. Trump has spurned an invitation to testify voluntarily under oath by lead House manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD). House and Senate Democrats should know the hazards of declining to issue a trial subpoena to Mr. Trump because special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was compromised by his failure to do so. Why follow a losing playbook?

The courts have no jurisdiction over impeachment questions the Supreme Court said in Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S.224 (1993). The Senate runs its impeachment trial as it chooses, including holding Mr. Trump's lawyers in contempt if they attempt to disrupt the proceedings or continue to argue issues they have lost, like the absence of jurisdiction over a former president. As a no-show in a civil, not criminal proceeding, Mr. Trump's defiance of a subpoena would justify an adverse inference of guilt by the Senate.

There is also no sign the Democrats are seeking other witnesses such as Garrett Miller who has said he and others were operating at the direction and approval of President Trump. The liar-in-chief had just told his supporters at the notorious rally on the Mall, "We're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you," before Trump the betrayer retreated to the White House to witness on television the violence, he provoked and incited.

Families of victims deserve to be heard. And members of the Senate and the public should hear of the detailed thuggery by Trump in Georgia and at the Justice Department. The prosecution must go deep, starting with the testimony of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and then acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

The Democrats are not subpoenaing Mike Pence to testify about Mr. Trump's bullying him to reject state-certified electoral votes in violation of the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act in key states that would deny Joe Biden's electoral vote majority. Pence's refusal angered Trump who then resorted to an insurrection against the Capitol to accomplish by force and violence what he was unable to accomplish by bullying.

Given their penchant for a short trial, the Democrats seem unlikely to highlight Trump's pattern and practice throughout his presidency of flouting the Constitution and duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, including protections for all Americans. Trump's former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has declared that obstruction of justice was "a way of life" at the White House.

The House impeachment managers are under the direction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As in the first impeachment of Trump, she believes the American people have a short attention span and proceeds to prejudge the vote by Republicans in the Senate. Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy – assuring failure by holding back the full hand the Democrats possess – an Ace of Spades – under the Constitution?

Do the Democrats want to convict or just impeach a president who brazenly asserted "Then I have article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president." He produced four years as proof of such lawbreaking. Will Trump overcome the Democrats on this last clear chance for our Constitution to prevail and for the assault on Congress, its legislators, staff, and other employees to be answered with justice?

Do you know how weak and spineless the National Democrats are? They almost blew the Presidential election to the worst, most delusional, lawbreaking, incompetent president in U.S. history. Less than 100,000 votes in four swing states saved the country from a second despotic Trump term. The Democrats also lost House and Senate seats to the most crazed, cruel, anti-people, corporate-indentured, militaristic, and monetized Republican Party in history.

If the Democrats do not go full throttle in this trial—this last clear chance to exercise the Constitution against Tyrant Trump—they will be remembered as profiles of infamy. If the Party of Jefferson and FDR fails to meet this fundamental challenge, history will show them as betraying the people's trust, abdicating their constitutional duties, and setting an awful precedent ready for use by any future president to annihilate the Constitution.

The struggle inside Mitch McConnell's brain

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what the "survival" part of McConnell's mind may be thinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of "The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future" (2012). His new book is, "Wrecking America: How Trump's Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All" (2020, co-authored with Mark Green)

Ralph Nader: Can justice finally overtake its most defiant fugitive?

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 delusionally 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 Acts (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 law's non-enforcement 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)

Ralph Nader: Serial lawbreaker Trump and future presidents can't be allowed to brazenly undermine the rule of law

Serial lawbreaker Donald J. Trump is embarking on the most sordid presidential pardon spree in American history. He has already pardoned convicted crooks, thieves, and violent outlaws. Trump's pardon lawyers are frantically assembling more MAGA besotted individuals and groups to be pardoned wholesale. The number may climb into the hundreds. The queue is long. Trump corruptly doles out pardons to spite his list of archenemies and to reward his sycophants as many people are pleading with Trump for pardons. (For a partial list of Trump pardons see here.)

Trump thrills at what he considers his absolute power to pardon, including family members and himself. He is wrong. No constitutional right or power is pursued at all costs. All have limits. The power to pardon is limited at least by prohibitions on bribery, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and the 400-year honored maxim that "no man can be a judge in his own case." Further, the Constitution's framers specifically described corruptly motivated pardons as impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors and specifically authorized criminal prosecution of the President after impeachment and removal from office. The latter would become an overthrow of lawful orders with presidential self-pardons.

No president has displayed the audacity or depravity to self-pardon. In 1974, the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department concluded that the president cannot self-pardon.

Legal scholars differ on whether pardons must specifically describe the crimes and persons to be pardoned and whether the beneficiary must confess guilt. Trump's cynical pardons could provoke Congress and the courts to set procedural and substantive limits.

President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon in the aftermath of his resignation to avoid impeachment and conviction for defying a congressional subpoena, obstruction of justice, and misuse of government agencies. On September 8, 1974, in broad and sweeping language, Ford declared that pursuant to Article II Section 2 of the Constitution "I … do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969, through August 9, 1974." Nixon's pardon was never challenged for non-specific descriptions of the pardoned offenses.

Thus far, of the over 60 pardons or commutations issued by Trump, the vast majority of recipients have featured a personal connection or political affinity.

President Jimmy Carter, on January 21, 1977, pardoned violators of the draft laws, known as draft resisters, many of whom fled to Canada. He granted "a full, complete and unconditional pardon" to "all persons who may have committed any offense between August 4, 1964, and March 28, 1973, in violation of the Military Selective Service Act or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder." He included in this pardon "all persons heretofore convicted," of any such offense, "restoring to them full political, civil and other rights." Excluded, however, were all persons "convicted of or who may have committed any offense involving force or violence."

President Carter specified the offense but did not name the thousands of Americans pardoned. He simply established a Justice Department procedure for the beneficiaries to obtain a certificate of pardon.

With four weeks of Trump's tenure remaining, rumors of what he could or should do are multiplying. Will he pardon all inmates in federal prisons convicted of nonviolent marijuana or other drug offenses? Will he pardon a wide network of people who could otherwise be compelled to testify against him? Will he pardon former business associates or future business partners of all federal offenses? (He cannot pardon for state offenses.)

Trump can issue anticipatory pardons before an individual is formally charged with a crime.

Thus far, of the over 60 pardons or commutations issued by Trump, the vast majority of recipients have featured a personal connection or political affinity. Speculation has centered on pardons for Edward Snowden or Julian Assange to leaven Trump's overt favoritism.

Trump's corruptly motivated pardons will continue until President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. He will probably refrain from resigning in favor of Vice President Pence in exchange for a pardon for himself and family members. The stench of bribery would be too great.

In the final days of his four-year chronicle of statutory criminal and constitutional violations (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197 and many past articles by writers on Trump's lawbreaking), Trump will give both the Congress and the courts great incentive to set specific limits on the pardon power.

Trump and future presidents cannot be allowed to brazenly dishonor justice and undermine the rule of law.

Congressional abdication and public indifference will pave the way for the kind of monarchical power so resolutely dreaded by our Constitution's framers who fought to defeat King George III and repudiate tyranny. Unless resisted by a resolute, aroused citizenry.

Ralph Nader: The Democratic Party is controlled by smug, entrenched people living in the exclusive top one percent

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!

Ralph Nader: Biden must not let the Trumpster outlaws escape and become immune fugitives from justice

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.

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

Ralph Nader's election postmortem: Democrats won. Now what?

Apart from barely squeezing through the swing states to defeat corrupt, incompetent, lying, corporatist Donald Trump, the Democratic Party had a bad election.

Loaded with nearly twice as much money as the Republican Party, the Democratic Party showed that weak candidates with no robust agendas for people where they live, work, and raise their families, is a losing formula. And lose they did against the worst, cruelest, ignorant, lawbreaking, reality-denying GOP in its 166-year history.

The Democrats failed to win the Senate, despite nearly having twice the number of Senators up for re-election than the Republicans. In addition, the Democratic Party lost seats in the House of Representatives. The Democrats did not flip a single Republican state legislature, leaving the GOP to again gerrymander Congressional and state legislative districts for the next decade!

Will all this lead to serious introspection by the Democratic Party? Don't bet on it. The GOP tried to learn from their losses in 2012, which led to their big rebound. Already, the Democratic Party is looking for scapegoats, like third party candidates.

Will the leaders of these inexcusable defeats—Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—explain how this happened? Will they take some responsibility and tell the American people why they let their profiteering media consultants spend so much money on tepid, low-impact TV ads at the expense of a massive ground game to give voters personal reasons to get themselves out to vote, beyond Trump? A third of all eligible voters stayed home. Could part of the problem be the 15% commission the consultants receive from TV ad revenues as compared to zero commissions from ground game expenditures?

Can the corporate Democratic leaders respond to inquiries by progressives and the sidelined primary voters of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? Can they respond to why the living wage, the corporate crime wave, and the GOP blocked stimulus/relief package passed by the Democrats in May (including a $600 a week extension for tens of millions of desperate workers and critical aid to local agencies overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic) were not prominently front and center? Also, why did the Democrats refuse to campaign for full Medicare for All, supported by 70 percent of the American people? The Democrats, as pointed out by political media specialist, Bill Hillsman, did not speak directly to white, blue-collar workers who deserted Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump in 2016.

Moreover, the Democratic Party has a long-standing problem with authenticity. Rhetoric for a large infrastructure jobs program paid for by repealing corporate tax cuts and loopholes is seen as a throwaway line by many voters. Democrats should have explained, at the local level, how determination and integrity could shape the upgrading of our schools, clinics, roads, mass transit systems, waterworks, and other public services, with good-paying jobs.

Meanwhile, the Trumpsters showed their ferocious energy for wannabe, ego-obsessed, dictatorial Donald with more rallies, signs, and door-to-door contacts. The Democrats misread the faulty polls again thinking that the projected huge turnouts were primarily their voters and not also the Trump voters who turned out in greater numbers as well.

Too many Democratic operatives treat Trump with derision and mockery, instead of stressing how his daily lawlessness and serial violations of the Constitution have dismantled the protections for the people and turned the government over to big business to do and grab whatever they want.

Trump openly commits federal crimes (e.g. The Hatch Act, the Anti-Deficiency Act) using federal property, including the White House, for his campaign, spending money illegally, while brazenly defying over a hundred investigative subpoenas from the House of Representatives.

Yet, neither Biden and Obama nor the Democratic Party made these corrupt forms of obstruction of justice, front and center issues. They even ignored Trump's past criminal assaults of women, whom he has repeatedly degraded.

These many missed, obvious opportunities have consequences. Don't Trump voters and their families also suffer from frozen minimum wages, from the absence of adequate or any health insurance, from those sky-high drug prices that Trump failed to reduce? He put more toxins in the air and water and allowed more dangerous workplaces. Trump calls endangering people and the planet "deregulation" but what he was really doing is rewarding his corporate paymasters.

Trump just pushes many more buttons than do the Democrats. Why don't the Democrats promote more unions, more consumer cooperatives, more campaign finance reforms, and more known ways to empower the people directly?

Of course, the Democrats would never argue that the American people, not corporations, should CONTROL what they already OWN such as the public lands, the public airwaves, and the shareholding mutual and pension funds investing their money. The Democrats never even think to demand that U.S. taxpayers get a direct return for trillions of dollars of government research and development that have subsidized the growth of modern industries (from aerospace to computers to agribusiness, biotech, pharma, and more).

While Trump incites street violence and then cries loudly for "law and order," the Democrats don't throwback "law and order" for violent, polluting corporate crooks who cheat and harm children, consumers, workers, and communities, as well as rip off government programs like Medicare. Trump has gotten away with defunding the federal corporate crime police big time. Never will the Democrats go after Trump for the bloated, runaway, unaudited military budget and its Empire that are devouring necessities here at home.

The House Democrats refused to keep multiple impeachment pressure (apart from the Ukraine matter) on the Republicans. A national TV audience of the Senate dealing with a dozen of Trump's impeachable offenses would give even the most ardent Trump supporters pause. (See December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197).

The Democrats let Trump and his lawless Attorney General William Barr get away with all his corrupt, criminal, and unconstitutional actions, which have turned the White House into an ongoing crime scene. And, despite this "rap sheet" Trump came close to winning the Electoral College for a second term!

Next time, the rulers of the Democratic Party should listen to civic groups and advocates and not be so smug and incommunicado. As an example, I'll refer you to my Eleven Suggestions for turning out the vote, with popular mandates, available to everyone in whole and in part for weeks (See also my latest op-ed in the Louisville Courier-Journal, October 27, 2020).

Now let's see how many rollbacks and repeals Biden will quickly institute to stop Trump's devastations and usher in a truly progressive, majoritarian set of long-overdue policies.

Ralph Nader breaks down 'travesty' of Barrett's confirmation as Senate ensures 'corporate supremacy' reigns

In a 1995 book review published in the University of Chicago Law Review, Elena Kagan (now Justice Kagan) wrote about judicial nominees avoiding disclosing their views on legal issues. She said, "[T]he safest and surest route to the prize lay in alternating platitudinous statement and judicious silence. Who would have done anything different, in the absence of pressure from members of Congress?"

This week, nominee to the High Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett followed the "say-nothing" playbook, through injudicious and repetitious filibustering, essentially claiming that it was improper for a judge "to opine" on matters outside the judicial process.

Really? Judge Barrett "opined" in lectures, interviews, and articles as a judge as have many sitting Supreme Court Justices. Her mentor, Justice Antonin Scalia regularly made controversial declarations at law school addresses and all kinds of other public appearances.

Judge Barrett's hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee were consistently defiant. She refused to answer questions about the legality of intimidating voters, or whether all losing presidents should commit to a peaceful transition of power. Judge Barrett even refused to say whether she accepts the science on the climate crisis because she lacks the expertise on this issue and because it is a controversial topic.

Senator Pat Leahy said, "President Trump claims he has an absolute right to pardon himself. Would you agree, first, that nobody is above the law — not the president, not you, not me — is that correct?" Judge Barrett said she agreed no one is above the law but could not answer the question about a president's pardon powers because "it had never been litigated."

She would not even say that a President cannot unilaterally change the date of the election. Perhaps Judge Barrett should review Article II of the Constitution which empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election and a law enacted by Congress that requires the election to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

The hearings were truly a travesty. Too few hearing days, exclusion of prominent civic and scholarly critics of her record and statements, and remarkably, the defeatist position by the Democrats. Their repetitive political campaign-related focus on Roe v. Wade and access to abortions, Obamacare, and the Second Amendment was directed to the voters back home. The Republicans did their things for the elections too, led by Chair Lindsey Graham. (This is an important reason why nomination hearings should not be conducted close to elections).

It gets worse. Chair Lindsey Graham pronounced victory for the judge in his opening statement and by their behavior the Democrats largely agreed, using the occasion to share their political views without exposing how a Judge's corporatist ideology can let corporations prevail over workers, consumers, the environment, and the electoral process. Republican Justices on the Supreme Court, most notoriously, in the Citizens United case opened the floodgates to corporate cash further corrupting our elections.

As constitutional law expert, Bruce Fein noted, Judge Barrett maintained no distance between her and her nominator, President Trump, who stunningly has said, "I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president." As a presidential tyrant, Trump knew how to choose a judicial nominee who is not likely to reject tyranny.

Except for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the Democrats, as they have in previous Supreme Court nomination hearings, declined to question Judge Barrett about rampant corporate crime, and corporate personhood harming all Americans. Corporate power and control are scraping the rule of law with worsening brazenness, privileges, and immunities.

A 6 to 3 corporatist Court will install an era of corporate supremacy over real people that has no foundation in our Constitution. There is no mention, whatsoever, of the words "corporation" or "company" in the Constitution, the juridical foundation of our Republic. Treating corporations as artificial entities – as "persons" is based on a headnote in the 1886 Supreme Court case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Rail Road. The headnote that was not even part of the Court's opinion. This judicial unfortunate and legally suspect twist has been relied on and expanded by generations of corporatist Supreme Court Justices.

Senator Whitehouse went to the root of the choice of Judge Barrett. It's about power by the few over the many. The long-driven goal of the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation.

The Democratic Party should have avoided all these losing nomination battles over Trump's, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and now Amy Barrett. How? By handily winning half a dozen Senate seats in 2016 and 2018 that they botched big time. They even lost seats of sitting Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) the latter to then-Governor Rick Scott. Rick Scott, prior to being governor, was the CEO of Columbia/HCA which under Scott engaged in one of the largest Medicare frauds in history. The federal government fined Columbia/HCA $1.7 billion for this outrageous behavior.

In their own ways, these Senators tried to be Republican-lite by avoiding front-burner issues such as higher minimum wages, law and order for corporate outlaws, full Medicare for All, and the creation of good community-based jobs to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. These and other much-needed programs could be paid for by restoring corporate taxes to the level they were in the more prosperous nineteen sixties.

Because of the two-party duopoly, our country has been cornered with the "choice of the lesser of two evils" as both parties were dialing for the same corporate/commercial campaign dollars. In 2016, Bernie Sanders showed that big amounts of money can come from many small donors. The Democrats are outspending the Republicans in many races, but more than money is needed to win elections. What's their excuse for letting the worst Republican in Party history win, again and again, control the Congress with one or both Houses, and entrench their clenched-teeth judges for decades?

Look in the mirror Democrats. Start self-examining why collectively you've let the American people down? It's time for the rising movement of elected and grassroots progressive to take over.

Ralph Nader: 'Loser' Pence bullies fabrications through debate time rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump's top 10 tricks: Here's a useful guide to have on hand as the presidential debates get underway

Ready for even more Trumpian disinformation?

Cornered by a continuing pandemic, teetering economy and racial strife, President Houdini has been resorting to rhetorical tricks honed over a lifetime to escape political calamity. One way to prepare for this Tuesday's first debate and his Fall barrage is to reveal Trump's "magic" beforehand so that viewers and voters can be their own BS Detector when he next tries to sliver away from lying about Covid-19 or his fascistic plans to overthrow the election.

1. Cherry-picking -- Black Swans.

This trick is based on seeing a black swan and then pretending all swans are black.

So when millions of Black Lives Matter protesters peacefully march against police brutality, Trump will cite one who years ago allegedly called cops "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" to imply that all are looters and anarchists. And when a Republican US Attorney in Pennsylvania this week told AG Barr that his office had found nine discarded Trump ballots (later changed to seven), the White House immediately played it up to imply that this was organized mail-in ballot fraud (though it was quickly shown to be an isolated, local administrative error, not a Democratic conspiracy).

The idea is to make the aberrational appear typical. Would anyone judge Michael Jordan's career based on a reel of three missed clutch shots rather than his career stats?

2. Adjectives and Assertions.

Since it's hard to enact legislation, why not instead just predict great or awful events since hard to prove the contrary. Or to paraphrase Nike, "Just Say It."

Hence "next year [the economy] will be the best ever." This summer Trump began declaring that Democrats would "destroy the suburbs." How? Presumably by prohibiting segregated public housing, stating that this time the 2018 "caravan" from Latin America might directly settle in White Plains, New York.

The 'tell' here his frequent refrain, "believe me!"

3. The Bully's Pulpit.

Humorist Larry Wilmore joked that Trump was indeed our Roosevelt since "the only thing Trump has is fear itself."

Politico reported that a third of his first 2000 president tweets disparaged people, totaling a hard-to-believe 598 people by the end of 2018. Here he's channeling the Italian philosopher and politician who said five centuries ago, "it's better to be feared than loved."

Like Machiavelli's princes, Trump loves being feared. And since a president's bullying can do real reputational damage, this thuggish tactic often produces the desired effect of anticipatory obedience by those fearing massive retaliation. That helps explain why 52 of 53 Senate Republicans during his Impeachment trial, faced with his open-and-shut political extortion of Ukraine, concluded that what happened didn't happen.

4. Rhetorical Questions.

This is a low-grade but popular sleight-of-hand -- burying a disrupted premise in the form of a question in order to mislead listeners to a false conclusion. "What do you have to lose?", he would repeatedly ask Black audiences in the 2016 campaign (now they know). And "why would" Putin interfere in that election? (Duh.)

5. Upside-downism.

Trump repeatedly accuses others of his own misconduct in order to confuse "low education voters" (his phrase). Recall how he indignantly declared that Democrats are the real "liars" who are trying to "rig the election" while Biden's the one fomenting violence and Harris undermining science. When Nancy Pelosi said that Trump was trying to "Make America White Again," he accused her of racism because in Trumpland even talking about race is racism.

6. Figures Don't Lie but Liars Figure.

Trump reverses the scientific method: facts don't lead to conclusions but rather conclusions lead to "facts", which is otherwise known as confirmation bias. This trick has a long history, from the 1920 Scopes Monkey trial and Lysenko-ism in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Today's version of Creationism is his river of obvious lies about Covid-19, Climate, Crime and Race, as when a whistle-blower just charged that DHS ordered staff to underplay violence by white nationalists and Russian campaign interference.

In his acceptance screech this past August, for example, he bragged how his administration "had created" nine million new jobs, which sounds good until you realize that it followed three months where the economy lost 20 million jobs.

7. Rooster-Taking-Credit-for-the-Dawn.

With vanishingly few positive accomplishments, Trump will keep claiming credit for the good work of others while shunning any responsibility for his own wrongdoing.

He's said or tweeted over 350 times a version of -- 'we have the greatest economy in our history.' Which a) isn't true since his six immediate predecessors all had better jobs and GDP numbers and b) it was Obama who turned Bush's Great Recession into seven years of steady growth, which Trump has merely coasted on, albeit at a slower pace.

This trick veered into parody when he claimed that there were no passenger airline fatalities in his first year as president. True... although there had also been none for the prior seven years. He abandoned this particular boast after Boeing's 737 Max planes twice crashed because of failures by Boeing and the FAA.

8. Both-sidesism.

Whenever criticized, he and his team search for some arguably equivalent offence in history to exonerate him. Recall how he would cite Monica Lewinsky to wave off the few dozen women accusing him of sexual abuse and famously declare there were "fine people" on both sides of that Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville.

This maneuver can backfire. After flailing Hunter Biden's business work during the Obama-Biden administration, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was asked by CNN's Jake Tapper about Trump's sons traveling the world making deals at taxpayer expense. Replied Mnuchin, "I don't want to get into those details."

9. The Hyperbolic.

The man exaggerates exaggerations. Trump tries to explain away this repeated trick as "bravado...truthful hyperbole." Actually -- see "beautiful coal" -- it's untruthful hyperbole. So he announced that there would have been a nuclear war with North Korea if he hadn't been elected in 2016 and he is the world's leading expert on "drones, nuclear weapons, technology, banks…[plus another 30 specialized categories]."

Speaking of Kim, listen carefully and you'll hear Trump sound like the North Korean dictator who claimed to have shot five holes-in-one playing his first round of golf.

10. The Lyin' King. The problem is not merely that Trump, like all presidents, has at times lied, fibbed and cut-corners but that he nearly always does. His go-to response to any public criticism is "fake news," even as he deploys what he deplores.

It's hard to arrive at any other conclusion after Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler has documented (so far) 20,000+ lies or falsehoods from his mouth -- or 22 a day for the past year, including when he pretends that prosecuted aides were invariably minor figures to him (Manafort? Cohen? Stone? Bannon? Flynn?). His lava of lies and disinformation reflects a comment attributed to Katherine the Great, "the first lie wins."

Off camera, Trump knows exactly what he's doing. After grossly puffing up his TV ratings, he then explained to Billy Bush, of Access Hollywood fame, "Billy, look, you just tell them and they believe it. That's it. They just do."

A different approach was taken by our 32d president. FDR speech writer Robert Sherwood, in his book Roosevelt and Hopkins, wrote that "the New York Times can make mistakes but the President of the United States must not make mistakes. After 1940, Isador Lubkin, the Commissioner of Labor Statistics, was constantly available and incalculably invaluable to Roosevelt in checking every decimal point."

Now we're about to find out whether, contrary to everything our parents told us, dishonesty is the best policy. Or whether truth still matters. For without truth there can't be trust and without trust civilization can fracture and collapse.

Ralph Nader offers practical advice for casting informed votes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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