All posts by Ralph Nader

The Road to Political Masochism

Nearly a year and a half into his presidency, Donald Trump continues to hold his base and maintain an approval rating of around 40% – close to the same percentage he polled at just after his inauguration. Let’s try to figure out why.

It can’t be because he lies as a matter of daily routine. It can’t be because he’s giving away our store to big business – engaging in crony capitalism, creating more tax loopholes for corporations, shredding corporate crime enforcement, knowingly exposing Americans to more toxic pollution, committing more business fraud, adding more hazards to the workplace, cutting access to health insurance, and thereby making America dread again.

It can’t be because he’s taking your tax dollars away from repairing your infrastructure back home – schools, public transit, bridges, highways, airports, power grids, drinking water systems, etc., and pouring money into the bloated Pentagon budget beyond what even the Generals requested. (The huge “infrastructure project” he promised has yet to be proposed to Congress.)

It can’t be because he is soiling our society’s moral and ethical fabric and breaking the Golden Rule. (Trump is a peerless Oval Office bully, lashing out against the weak, powerless and defenseless.)

It can’t be because he is openly holding onto his business interests and enriching himself from foreign vendors in unconstitutional ways, violating the Emoluments Clause (cases challenging his personal gains while in office are now in federal court).

Maybe it is because he is expediently against a woman’s right to choose and common-sense gun regulation, selects corporatist judges, and keeps saying he loves his country (what politician doesn’t?).

President Trump’s words and deeds have not changed the minds of 40 percent of people polled. What else is going on here?

One answer is Slogan Voters. I’ve spoken to many people who are still for Trump despite all of his lies and misdeeds. They don’t pay much attention to politics. When they do, they reveal themselves as Slogan Voters. They are content with Trump’s rhetoric and rarely look beneath the surface at the details. That is, they are not bothered by being fact-deprived in political matters.

Here is what they tell me: They hate Hillary. They like Trump. They repeat the three slogans: Make America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and Lock Her Up! Over and over again.

When I politely ask whether they are specifically aware of what Trump and his heads of departments and agencies are doing, they draw a blank. They explain that President Trump is shaking up Washington and draining the swamp. They believe that’s the reason why he generates such an uproar from the swamp-dwellers. In a bizarre way, the more outrageously false and nutty Trump’s tweets and actions are, the more these people feel that all the outrage is because he is draining the swamp and the swamp is lashing back at him.

Slogan Voters stress their belief in self-made men and women. They are often college-educated. They are not seen as bigots by their co-workers. They believe if you fail at something, it’s your own fault.

They agree there are bad things going on in government, but it’s not Trump’s fault. Their reaction to bad things that are openly, brazenly, and admittedly Trump’s fault – such as shutting down a consumer agency designed to stop Wall Street and the financial/credit industry from cheating you, crashing the economy, or crippling environmental health protections — is: It’s all part of draining the swamp.

Trump has become homeostatic — whatever goes around, comes around to his advantage for the Slogan Voters. Evidence against Trump is turned around to justify Trump. More than anyone else, Trump has understood this and fed these strange conclusions by inattentive minds.

What would the eminent philosopher of science, Aldous Huxley, think now? He said in 1927: “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” But they do for Trump and his Slogan Voters. He creates his own web of delusion, and his supporters say he is draining the swamp and making America great again.

It wouldn’t matter a whit were they to receive critical articles, books, DVDs, or even Trump’s own self-contradictory words and record through the years. Recall his boastful sugarcoating as his giant casinos went bankrupt while he profitably escaped their draining impacts on others (e.g. the employees and unpaid contractors he hired to build them).

Unless someone comes up with a secret key to awaken the minds of Trump’s Slogan Voters, the best response is to draw some of the more than 100 million eligible non-voters to the polls for the crucial November elections. There are far more than enough votes to surpass the choices of the Trump Slogan Voters for the Congressional races.

One thing you have to credit these Slogan Voters for: THEY VOTE!!

Yeah, “Making America Great Again, Drain the Swamp, and Lock Her Up!”​

Professional Societies: Corporate Service, or Public Services for You!

They call themselves non-profit professional societies, but they often act as enabling trade associations for the companies and businesspeople who fund them.  At their worst, they serve their paymasters and remain in the shadows, avoiding publicity and visibility.  When guided by their better angels, professional societies can be authoritative tribunes for a more healthy and safe society.

I am referring to the organizations that stand for their respective professions – automotive, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; physicians; architects; scientists; and accountants.  The people working in these occupations all want to be members of a “professional” association, not a “trade” association.

So let’s start by distinguishing how a “profession” is supposed to differ from a “trade.”  First, profit is not to be the end-all of a profession and its practitioners. Moral and public interest codes of ethics are supposed to be paramount when they conflict with maximizing sales and income.

The National Society of Professional Engineers’ code of ethics stipulates that an engineer has a professional duty to go to the appropriate authorities should the engineer be rebuffed by employer or client who was notified of a dangerous situation or product.

Physicians have a duty to prevent the trauma or disease which they are trained to treat. A half-dozen physicians in the 1960s aggressively pressed the auto industry to build more crash-protective vehicles to prevent trauma casualties they had to treat regularly.

A profession has three basic characteristics.  First is a learned tradition – otherwise known as going deep and keeping up with a profession’s literature and practices.  Second is to continue a tradition of public service.  Third is to maintain the independence of the profession.

How do professional societies measure up? Not that well. They are too monetized to fulfill their public service obligations and retain their independence. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has had a notorious history of following the technological stagnation of the auto companies. Their standards almost never diverge from what is permitted by GM, Ford et al.  Indeed, the SAE’s standards committees are mostly composed of company engineers whose employers provide funding and facilities for any testing.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is waist-deep in the automation and artificial intelligence drive.  You’ll not hear from that Society about the downsides, collateral risks and undisclosed data by the companies in this portentous area.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has not distinguished itself regarding the safety of gas and oil pipelines, allowing industry lobbyists to take over the federal regulator without as much as a warning whistle.  This history was exposed years ago by a retired DuPont engineer, Fred Lang.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) knows about the scores of vulnerable plants resisting regulatory efforts to safeguard their premises from sabotage that could destroy a nearby town or city.  Ask Rick Hind, former legislative director for Greenpeace, about this evasion (See: “Chemical Security Testimony by Greenpeace’s Rick Hind”).

The American Medical Association (AMA) received peer-reviewed studies by Harvard and Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine pointing to at least 5,000 patient deaths per week from preventable problems in hospitals – from malpractice to hospital-induced infections.  Despite this clear medical emergency, the AMA refuses to move into high drive against this epidemic.  Mum’s the word.  Where the AMA shouts out is against the law of torts and the civil justice system that, every once in a rare while, hold negligent or criminally behaved physicians accountable to their victims.

Possibly the most complicit profession facilitating, covering for, and explaining away corporate greed and deception is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Too many corporate accountants specialize in complex cooking of the books for their corporate clients.  The Wall Street crash in 2008-2009 is a major case in point. Donald Trump knows about such accountants from his business career of obfuscation.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), after a long period of submissiveness, woke up to the energy waste/pollution crisis of modern buildings and developed standards with labels to give builders incentives toward more responsible construction. But by and large, it remains a profession, apart from modern technologies, which has left its best days back in the 18th and 19th centuries (e.g., the classic cities of Europe).

Now what about the scientific societies? The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has led the way for nuclear arms control and other weaponized discoveries of the warfare state. On the other hand, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — by far the largest membership organization and publisher of Science magazine — has been utterly timid in putting muscle behind its fine pronouncements.

The large street protests by scientists in Washington, after the Electoral College selected Donald Trump, were started by young social and physical scientists. They stood up for scientific integrity and conscience and opposed Trump’s defunding of such governmental organizations as the National Science Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These scientists’ efforts have been met with some success.

What most Americans do not know is that many of the state and federal safety/health standards are taken in considerable measure from the weak “consensus” standards advanced by professional societies. These societies, so heavily marinated with their respective industries, see their important role of feeding their industry standards into state, national, and international standards which are enforceable under domestic law or treaty.

Maybe these societies continue a learned tradition at their annual meetings, workshops, and in their publications.  But they far too often fail to maintain their profession’s standards of independence (from commercial supremacy) and commitment to public service.

These professional societies, and other associations not mentioned here, need to be brought out of their convenient shadows into the spotlight of public scrutiny, higher expectation, and broader participation.

Professional Societies: Corporate Service, or Public Services for You!

They call themselves non-profit professional societies, but they often act as enabling trade associations for the companies and businesspeople who fund them.  At their worst, they serve their paymasters and remain in the shadows, avoiding publicity and visibility.  When guided by their better angels, professional societies can be authoritative tribunes for a more healthy and safe society.

I am referring to the organizations that stand for their respective professions – automotive, electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; physicians; architects; scientists; and accountants.  The people working in these occupations all want to be members of a “professional” association, not a “trade” association.

So let’s start by distinguishing how a “profession” is supposed to differ from a “trade.”  First, profit is not to be the end-all of a profession and its practitioners. Moral and public interest codes of ethics are supposed to be paramount when they conflict with maximizing sales and income.

The National Society of Professional Engineers’ code of ethics stipulates that an engineer has a professional duty to go to the appropriate authorities should the engineer be rebuffed by employer or client who was notified of a dangerous situation or product.

Physicians have a duty to prevent the trauma or disease which they are trained to treat. A half-dozen physicians in the 1960s aggressively pressed the auto industry to build more crash-protective vehicles to prevent trauma casualties they had to treat regularly.

A profession has three basic characteristics.  First is a learned tradition – otherwise known as going deep and keeping up with a profession’s literature and practices.  Second is to continue a tradition of public service.  Third is to maintain the independence of the profession.

How do professional societies measure up? Not that well. They are too monetized to fulfill their public service obligations and retain their independence. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has had a notorious history of following the technological stagnation of the auto companies. Their standards almost never diverge from what is permitted by GM, Ford et al.  Indeed, the SAE’s standards committees are mostly composed of company engineers whose employers provide funding and facilities for any testing.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is waist-deep in the automation and artificial intelligence drive.  You’ll not hear from that Society about the downsides, collateral risks and undisclosed data by the companies in this portentous area.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has not distinguished itself regarding the safety of gas and oil pipelines, allowing industry lobbyists to take over the federal regulator without as much as a warning whistle.  This history was exposed years ago by a retired DuPont engineer, Fred Lang.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) knows about the scores of vulnerable plants resisting regulatory efforts to safeguard their premises from sabotage that could destroy a nearby town or city.  Ask Rick Hind, former legislative director for Greenpeace, about this evasion (See: “Chemical Security Testimony by Greenpeace’s Rick Hind”).

The American Medical Association (AMA) received peer-reviewed studies by Harvard and Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine pointing to at least 5,000 patient deaths per week from preventable problems in hospitals – from malpractice to hospital-induced infections.  Despite this clear medical emergency, the AMA refuses to move into high drive against this epidemic.  Mum’s the word.  Where the AMA shouts out is against the law of torts and the civil justice system that, every once in a rare while, hold negligent or criminally behaved physicians accountable to their victims.

Possibly the most complicit profession facilitating, covering for, and explaining away corporate greed and deception is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Too many corporate accountants specialize in complex cooking of the books for their corporate clients.  The Wall Street crash in 2008-2009 is a major case in point. Donald Trump knows about such accountants from his business career of obfuscation.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), after a long period of submissiveness, woke up to the energy waste/pollution crisis of modern buildings and developed standards with labels to give builders incentives toward more responsible construction. But by and large, it remains a profession, apart from modern technologies, which has left its best days back in the 18th and 19th centuries (e.g., the classic cities of Europe).

Now what about the scientific societies? The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) has led the way for nuclear arms control and other weaponized discoveries of the warfare state. On the other hand, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — by far the largest membership organization and publisher of Science magazine — has been utterly timid in putting muscle behind its fine pronouncements.

The large street protests by scientists in Washington, after the Electoral College selected Donald Trump, were started by young social and physical scientists. They stood up for scientific integrity and conscience and opposed Trump’s defunding of such governmental organizations as the National Science Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These scientists’ efforts have been met with some success.

What most Americans do not know is that many of the state and federal safety/health standards are taken in considerable measure from the weak “consensus” standards advanced by professional societies. These societies, so heavily marinated with their respective industries, see their important role of feeding their industry standards into state, national, and international standards which are enforceable under domestic law or treaty.

Maybe these societies continue a learned tradition at their annual meetings, workshops, and in their publications.  But they far too often fail to maintain their profession’s standards of independence (from commercial supremacy) and commitment to public service.

These professional societies, and other associations not mentioned here, need to be brought out of their convenient shadows into the spotlight of public scrutiny, higher expectation, and broader participation.

Degrading Newspapers’ Business Sections

It’s alarming that there are far fewer media outlets for consumer protection news and features than there were thirty years ago. Recall the huge Phil Donahue Show, the regional radio show and TV news shows, the television networks and syndicated radio shows that would report and interview consumer advocates about the injustice, rip-offs, and harms done to the consumer by unscrupulous corporations. These shows are largely gone now. Shows marked by fluff, narcissism, trivia, and sensationalist, frenetic news bits are their replacements.

What is disturbing is that the major newspapers – the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal—are cutting back reporting on the revelations and doings of active consumers, and consumer organizations. Sure, they do occasional features that may gain them big journalism prizes. But the regular coverage of very important consumer struggles with Congress, the White House, the courts, and the state legislatures has vastly shrunken. Moreover, the media, especially TV, is dittoheading itself with the daily “big story”, as with the Trumpian escapades.

Serious readers are left with the New York Times daily Business pages (the Washington Post dropped its separate, daily business section a few years ago). Of late, the editors of the Times business section have been diluting its contents with what two former reporters called a more “business friendly” priority. My attempts to discuss this problem with their news editors have not been answered.

Last Sunday I picked up the weighty Sunday New York Times and went to the business page (business is often defined as stories about sellers, when it should include buyers and consumers). The cover page featured a huge photograph and article titled: “Tiger Is Back, Will Sponsors Follow?”

This article—straining for justification—proceeded to sprawl over another half page or more inside. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods hasn’t even won a single championship on his asserted comeback. This is not the first time that the business page has attempted to entertain readers with inflated articles that evoke the reader’s quizzical response—“what’s this all about?”

Our country is in a midst of a corporate crime wave against consumers, workers, investors, and small taxpayers. Fraudsters are also annually stealing tens of billions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs. Massive billing fraud and abuse is rampant in the private marketplace as well.

The Pentagon’s gigantic annual budget (currently at more than $700 billion) has been unauditable for decades and, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of Congress, is in regular violation of a 1992 law requiring all government departments to provide audits to the GAO.

The ongoing destruction of the freedom of contract, through fine print stripping of consumer rights and remedies to use the courts keeps eroding the value of consumer dollars. Consumers don’t deserve this costly irritation.

Courts are restricting consumer access by legislative reductions of court budgets and obstacles presented by what is euphemistically called “tort reform” by the insurance and tort-feasors lobbies.

A trillion dollars of unproductive stock buybacks is coming in the next 18 months so as to increase the stock option value of the corporate bosses’ compensation packages. A trillion dollars that can be used for raising low-pay of workers, such as at Walmart, or shoring up company pension fund reserves or investing in R&D or productive enterprise, not to mention dividends to shareholders (individual pension and mutual funds).

It is not as if the business pages are lacking top level urgent conditions to report as news and features which can also provide topics for their editorial pages.

Instead, the business pages are filled with constant technology hype, as with the inflated promotions and data-starved claims by the companies working on the eminently hackable self-driving cars.

There is plenty of personal advice to taxpayers, but very little on the crisis brought about by the Republican Congress starving the IRS’s budget where staff is trying to collect a part of the $400 billion in uncollected yearly taxes.

Other trends are disturbing. Their first-class weekly aviation columnist, Joe Sharkey, was dismissed three years ago. Times readers fly a lot and have bushels of complaints about an increasingly tone deaf airline industry— the sensible Southwest Airlines is a luminous exception. Yet the Times editors felt they could not justify Sharkey’s $1000 weekly remuneration for doing a sterling job.

Gone also is The Haggler who dissected real consumer grievances in a most engrossing manner. He has not been replaced. Reader voices do not even have a letter to the editor space in the Times business section in which to react or vent.

It has been several years since the Times stopped using print pages for the stock market tables. This should have opened up space for more serious and compelling articles by the paper’s talented staff and contributors. Instead, they no longer have a place for their former star investigative reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, whose searing, well documented Sunday column sent deterrent shivers through culpable corporatist wheeler-dealers.

If anyone is listening to those readers who know what a “business friendly” atmosphere means for the public’s right to know more, please let us know. Two-way conversations on the telephone between editors/reporters and readers are almost extinct.

I, for one, wanted to tell the New York Times business editors that there is only one New York Times and that stupefying standards by this flagship newspaper is seriously consequential for the country.

Stopping War Pusher John Bolton, Trump’s Choice for National “Insecurity” Advisor

John Bolton’s career of pushing for bombing countries like Iran and North Korea, and his having played an active role in the Bush/Cheney regime’s criminal war of aggression that destroyed Iraq, makes him a clear and present danger to our country and world peace. He is about to become Donald Trump’s personal national security advisor with a staff of 400 right next to the White House. He must be stopped!

For Bolton, the Constitution, federal law, the Geneva Conventions, and other international laws are pieces of paper to be thrown away with unctuous contempt.  This outlaw – the shame of Yale Law School—should have been cast away as a pariah if not prosecuted and imprisoned. A bully to his subordinates in the government and known as “kiss-ass” to his superiors, Bolton is aggressive, relentless, and consistently wrong, when not prevaricatory.

Under Secretary of State Colin Powell, during the imperial Bush/Cheney presidency, Bolton told the media that Fidel Castro was developing chemical and biological weapons. False. Secretary Powell, who believes Bolton is impetuous and dangerous, overrode his in-house liar and corrected the record. While in Cuba with a group, I heard Fidel Castro say he feared Bolton’s words were a precursor to a U.S. attack until Bolton’s remarks were dismissed by his superiors.

There is a remarkable liberal/conservative dislike and fright about Bolton having Trump’s ear daily. Especially since Trump is susceptible to adopting the positions of the last person who reaches him. The added danger is that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has privately told people that he, like many who have experienced Bolton in government, cannot work with him. So does that mean that Trump will have to choose between the restraining hand of General Mattis and the recklessness of the draft-avoiding torture advocate John Bolton?

Will Republicans, who refused to confirm Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2005, assume some responsibility for opposing this sociopath? They could easily pass a joint resolution of Congress demanding withdrawal of the appointment by Trump.

There are many vigorous critics of Bolton’s career and subsequent belligerent stances ; Just last month Bolton wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal demanding the bombing of North Korea. His juvenile, lethal positions avoid considering the consequences, responses, backlash and danger to our country’s own safety. He likes to bet on the world—a Dr. Strangelove on steroids.

lengthy New York Times editorial (March 23, 2018) declares, “Yes, John Bolton Really is that Dangerous.”  It begins: “there are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton to lead the country into war.” Especially since Trump – mired in domestic scandals, investigations, and personal lawsuits—may wish to wag the dog and start wider, distracting, armed hostilities abroad.

The American Conservative magazine is stirring that segment of the political spectrum with Gareth Porter’s article, “The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War with Iran.”  Trump didn’t like General McMaster’s (Trump’s outgoing National Security Advisor) counsel that the U.S. remain in the Iran nuclear accord and not isolate itself from other major country signatories who say Iran is complying with its terms.

Then there is Bolton’s bigotry against Arabs and Muslims and his alliance with Pamela Geller—the notorious Islamophobe. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has elaborated on Bolton’s outrageous falsehoods against Arabs and Muslims (the “other anti-semitism” in the words of James Zogby in 1994 at a conference in Israel).

How does such a deep hatred in the White House connect to Trump’s repeated declaration that he allegedly seeks a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians?

Republican constitutional law analyst, Bruce Fein, presents a strong case that the powerful position of national security advisor to the President must be confirmed by the Senate. In which case, Bolton would be gone.

Fein argues: “The Appointments Clause of the Constitution militates against the National Security Advisor aberration.  It makes Senate confirmation of ‘officers of the United States’ the rule. But Congress may by statute create exceptions for ‘inferior officers.’  But it has not done so for the Advisor—even assuming the office qualifies as ‘inferior.'”

The other obstacles to Bolton’s assuming his position is that it will take the FBI many weeks to decide whether he can receive a top security clearance. At age 69, Bolton has a long trail of entanglements and intrigues in and out of government, not to mention his tantrums—some involving female public servants.

Fein recounts Bolton’s “unmasking the names of Americans whose conversation has been intercepted by the National Security Agency under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).” He still defends the catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq (for more information see Madea Benjamin’s “10 Reasons to Fear John Bolton“).

How does such a madman like Bolton keep coming back? Two reasons stand out. First, the more aggressive parts of the military-industrial complex, bolstered by the neocons, see him as a useful tool—for bigger military budgets and empire. Second, he is a staunch collaborator with the Israel lobby’s support of Israel’s militaristic, increasingly autocratic regime that regularly works against a two-state solution (The majority of American Jews support a two-state solution).

If President Trump gives Bolton a waiver while he works without a security clearance, as he has done, under wide condemnation, for his family and a few others already, the political firestorm may be enough, with other factors, to cause Trump to have Bolton bolt the White House with only his Trump-irritating walrus mustache intact.

In the immediate meantime, members of congress and aroused citizens must use their influence to block or evict John Bolton from our White House.

Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear

Polls show that over 125 million adults in our country already favor full Medicare for all, with free choice of doctor and hospital without stifling networks. I say ‘already’ because, as of yet, there is no major national campaign underway showing that an ‘everybody in, nobody out’ system of health insurance costs less, with better outcomes, is simpler, without maddeningly inscrutable or fraudulent bills, co-pays, deductibles and additional trap doors set by a bunch of greedy corporations. The campaigns that exist today are receiving too little on-the-ground assistance for such a widely-supported issue.

A super-majority of only 535 members of Congress—Senators and Representatives—can make that decision. The bill—H.R. 676, the ‘Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act’—is now supported by 121 House Democrats—two thirds of all the Democrats in the House of Representatives. So that’s a good start.

H.R. 676 has been referred to several, regular, Committees of the House whose Chairs are all Republican corporatists. So there have been no public hearings. The bill, not surprisingly, is not moving at all.

Millions of Americans have had the bitter experience of denials of health care, staggering bills, pay-or-die drug prices and even loved ones dying because they couldn’t afford health insurance (about 35,000 a year based on Harvard Medical School experts). So, in the next month, imagine what would happen, if just ten million of the 125 million who support full Medicare for all wrote, telephoned or emailed their two Senators and Representative demanding action and a written response by their lawmakers (who don’t pay postage).

Just ten million Americans making the least difficult effort—perhaps ending with a demand for a town meeting back home to educate the negative solons—would strike the Congressional Dome like a thunderbolt. Are there a dozen leaders among you up for launching such an electrifying internet mobilization?

Not to be confused with other lesser health insurance bills, mostly in the Senate, H.R. 676 is the real thing. It covers ‘all individuals in the U.S. with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, dental services, and vision care.’ No more premiums, co-pays or gaping deductibles.

How does H.R. 676 pay for all these services? Five ways:
” (1) from existing sources of government revenues for health care, (2) by increasing personal income taxes on the top 5% of income earners, (3) by instituting a progressive excise tax on payroll and self-employment income, (4) by instituting a tax on unearned income (such as on capital gains), and (5) by instituting a tax on stock and bond transactions. Amounts that would have been appropriated for federal public health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SHIP), are transferred and appropriated to carry out this bill.”

Presently, all Canadians are covered at an average per capita cost half of what Americans—insured and uninsured—are having to spend for health care. The system proposed in H.R. 676 is similar to Canadian Medicare. It includes public funding and free choice of private delivery of health care. It also has provisions for better record keeping, prevention and quality control. There is even transition retraining for all those clerical and administrative jobs that would not be necessary after displacement of the present bloated, wasteful, redundant health care sub-economy.

What would happen to the giant health insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare? They would be prohibited from selling insurance that duplicates the benefits provided under H.R. 676. They could only sell benefits that are not deemed ‘medically necessary,’ such as certain cosmetic surgery operations.

Rep. Keith Ellison (Dem.-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is officially the lead House Democrat on the bill, which indicates that the DNC may be getting a little more interested in endorsing such legislation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ellison is talking it up everywhere he travels. He says:
“One of the consistent applause lines we’re all hearing is: ‘We need Medicare for all.” There’s a lot of folks who feel that it’s time for us to organize around that. It’s a better policy, at a better price. People in labor, people all over the country, they’re going to be driving the public conversation, raising the dialogue about this….What some people think is a really important progressive position is just what the rest of the industrialized world does.”

Medicare for all is what the Pentagon does. It is what President Harry Truman wanted from Congress back in the nineteen forties!! It is time.

So will the first ten million Americans step up and be counted by sending messages directly to their Senators and Representatives in the month of April? The amount of time required to send a letter, an email or a telephone call is so brief that activated citizens could be called the modern “Minutemen” for universal health insurance. Just think of all the tasks you do every day that take far more time, like trying to figure out bills, denials, exclusions, from this basic human right.

Go to SinglePayerAction.org to get the details, the motivation and the groups with which to connect. The Congressional telephone switchboard is 202-224-3121. Make sure to give your legislators your name and contacts; they’ll take the call or letter more seriously.

Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day

Trump Imitation Day will take place online on April 1, this April Fools’ Day, 2018—a day driven by the vast and varied online networks of America with all of their imagination and organizational capability.

Here is the rationale behind this special style of giving Trump a reverse dose of Trumpism. Trump has proven repeatedly that he is a serial prevaricator, bully, cheater, boaster, malicious myth-maker, racist, abuser of women, slanderer, violator of laws and the Constitution and emerging war-monger.

Openly, through his appointees, he is destroying crucial, long-held health, safety and economic protections for consumers, workers and the environment in the service of Big Business. He is dictatorial and loves brutal dictators in numerous foreign countries.

No matter how many serious exposes, critiques, corrections of his hundreds of false statements (fake facts), entreaties to be truthful and connect with reality, along with the heartfelt pleas of aggrieved Americans, Trump doesn’t relent or admit and correct his fictions. He refuses to recognize blatant wrong-doing and continues his foul-mouthed attacks on anyone who arouses his thin-skinned ire. Even more, he doubles down on his deficiencies of character and personality—all relayed by a supine, ratings-driven mass media that mostly denies his targets their rebuttals.

Maybe we can get through to him by giving him a taste of his own medicine, turning his style of aggressive personal attacks against him.

Take, for example his juvenile use of pejorative nicknames. It started with “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz and “Little Marco” Rubio during his primary campaign in 2015-2016. His repertoire expanded to “Crooked” Hillary in the main campaign, spread as President to “Liddle Bob Corker,” “Cryin’ Chuck” Schumer, “Flaky” Jeff Flake, “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warner, “Low I.Q.” Rep. Maxine Waters, and “Lamb the Sham” for Pennsylvania House of Representatives winning candidate and Marine veteran Conor Lamb.

He even labelled NBC’s Meet the Press anchor as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd” while calling the media the “enemy of the people.” Never in American history has a President of the United States stooped to his gutter level. Why is this so troubling? Because the mass media repeat these outbursts and make these slurs and insults stick in their ditto-heading, day after day “reporting.” It is as if he owns the mass media. This mindless echoing of Trump even includes the otherwise critical New York Times and the Washington Post.

That is why, for Trump Imitation Day, nick-names have to be announced for Trump—say, “Corrupt Donald,” “Cheating Donald,” or “Tall-Tale Trump—until the press recovers its senses and stops being Trump’s nick-name bullhorn.

Wherever Trump brags and boasts about himself in demonstrably false ways he should be countered with truthful monikers. When he talks of being a fabulous businessman, he gets back the moniker, “a failed gambling czar whose companies went bankrupt.” When he says he loves and respects women, he gets back, “female assaulter in chief.”

When he talks about how rich he is, ask him to prove it by finally releasing his tax returns, like all other modern Presidents have done. Is he refusing to disclose because he has evaded taxes?
When he boasts about how academically smart he was, ask him to prove his academic credentials. Fordham University has him listed as “failure to complete.” Also, how does the public really know he was born in the U.S. since he hasn’t released his birth certificate, as he demanded Barack Obama do. Tit for tat.

When he refers the deadly, air-poisoning mineral, as “beautiful clean coal,” demand that he go down into a coal mine, as I did while pushing for the Mine Safety Act of 1969. Tell him to visit coal miners dying in hospital rooms from “black lung” disease. (Hundreds of thousands of miners have lost their lives from this occupational disease since 1900.)

Bring him back to reality by hurling concise, memorable facts and truth against his lies and insults. Be pithy, clever, and unrelenting. When he repeals or fails to enforce lifesaving, health protecting regulations, don’t just accuse him of “de-regulation” in wonky terms. Tell him he is killing, injuring or sickening consumers and workers, and tell him he is poisoning the water, air and food where children and families are trying to live. Otherwise, Trump—riding on tweets and a sensation-crazed mass media – will dissolve the rationality of our society and intimidate many good people into silence.

Trump knows how to intimidate and play the bully. In 1990, he told Playboy magazine, “When somebody tries to sucker punch me, when they’re after my ass, I push back a hell of a lot harder than I was pushed in the first place….Those people don’t come back for seconds.”

OK America, give him some of his own medicine and watch him flail, bellow and smear until his ugly persona crumbles beyond the sixty percent of the American people who already reject this Electoral College selectee.

Don’t give up. Repetition is key to countering his revolting behavior, like lancing a giant boil. He will either come to his senses or he will check out and retire to Mar-a-Lago. There he can watch the rising ocean and contemplate his repeated description of climate change as a hoax.

Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day

Trump Imitation Day will take place online on April 1, this April Fools’ Day, 2018—a day driven by the vast and varied online networks of America with all of their imagination and organizational capability.

Here is the rationale behind this special style of giving Trump a reverse dose of Trumpism. Trump has proven repeatedly that he is a serial prevaricator, bully, cheater, boaster, malicious myth-maker, racist, abuser of women, slanderer, violator of laws and the Constitution and emerging war-monger.

Openly, through his appointees, he is destroying crucial, long-held health, safety and economic protections for consumers, workers and the environment in the service of Big Business. He is dictatorial and loves brutal dictators in numerous foreign countries.

No matter how many serious exposes, critiques, corrections of his hundreds of false statements (fake facts), entreaties to be truthful and connect with reality, along with the heartfelt pleas of aggrieved Americans, Trump doesn’t relent or admit and correct his fictions. He refuses to recognize blatant wrong-doing and continues his foul-mouthed attacks on anyone who arouses his thin-skinned ire. Even more, he doubles down on his deficiencies of character and personality—all relayed by a supine, ratings-driven mass media that mostly denies his targets their rebuttals.

Maybe we can get through to him by giving him a taste of his own medicine, turning his style of aggressive personal attacks against him.

Take, for example his juvenile use of pejorative nicknames. It started with “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz and “Little Marco” Rubio during his primary campaign in 2015-2016. His repertoire expanded to “Crooked” Hillary in the main campaign, spread as President to “Liddle Bob Corker,” “Cryin’ Chuck” Schumer, “Flaky” Jeff Flake, “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warner, “Low I.Q.” Rep. Maxine Waters, and “Lamb the Sham” for Pennsylvania House of Representatives winning candidate and Marine veteran Conor Lamb.

He even labelled NBC’s Meet the Press anchor as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd” while calling the media the “enemy of the people.” Never in American history has a President of the United States stooped to his gutter level. Why is this so troubling? Because the mass media repeat these outbursts and make these slurs and insults stick in their ditto-heading, day after day “reporting.” It is as if he owns the mass media. This mindless echoing of Trump even includes the otherwise critical New York Times and the Washington Post.

That is why, for Trump Imitation Day, nick-names have to be announced for Trump—say, “Corrupt Donald,” “Cheating Donald,” or “Tall-Tale Trump—until the press recovers its senses and stops being Trump’s nick-name bullhorn.

Wherever Trump brags and boasts about himself in demonstrably false ways he should be countered with truthful monikers. When he talks of being a fabulous businessman, he gets back the moniker, “a failed gambling czar whose companies went bankrupt.” When he says he loves and respects women, he gets back, “female assaulter in chief.”

When he talks about how rich he is, ask him to prove it by finally releasing his tax returns, like all other modern Presidents have done. Is he refusing to disclose because he has evaded taxes?
When he boasts about how academically smart he was, ask him to prove his academic credentials. Fordham University has him listed as “failure to complete.” Also, how does the public really know he was born in the U.S. since he hasn’t released his birth certificate, as he demanded Barack Obama do. Tit for tat.

When he refers the deadly, air-poisoning mineral, as “beautiful clean coal,” demand that he go down into a coal mine, as I did while pushing for the Mine Safety Act of 1969. Tell him to visit coal miners dying in hospital rooms from “black lung” disease. (Hundreds of thousands of miners have lost their lives from this occupational disease since 1900.)

Bring him back to reality by hurling concise, memorable facts and truth against his lies and insults. Be pithy, clever, and unrelenting.  When he repeals or fails to enforce lifesaving, health protecting regulations, don’t just accuse him of “de-regulation” in wonky terms. Tell him he is killing, injuring or sickening consumers and workers, and tell him he is poisoning the water, air and food where children and families are trying to live. Otherwise, Trump—riding on tweets and a sensation-crazed mass media – will dissolve the rationality of our society and intimidate many good people into silence.

Trump knows how to intimidate and play the bully. In 1990, he told Playboy magazine, “When somebody tries to sucker punch me, when they’re after my ass, I push back a hell of a lot harder than I was pushed in the first place….Those people don’t come back for seconds.”

OK America, give him some of his own medicine and watch him flail, bellow and smear until his ugly persona crumbles beyond the sixty percent of the American people who already reject this Electoral College selectee.

Don’t give up. Repetition is key to countering his revolting behavior, like lancing a giant boil. He will either come to his senses or he will check out and retire to Mar-a-Lago. There he can watch the rising ocean and contemplate his repeated description of climate change as a hoax.

Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day

Trump Imitation Day will take place online on April 1, this April Fools’ Day, 2018—a day driven by the vast and varied online networks of America with all of their imagination and organizational capability.

Here is the rationale behind this special style of giving Trump a reverse dose of Trumpism. Trump has proven repeatedly that he is a serial prevaricator, bully, cheater, boaster, malicious myth-maker, racist, abuser of women, slanderer, violator of laws and the Constitution and emerging war-monger.

Openly, through his appointees, he is destroying crucial, long-held health, safety and economic protections for consumers, workers and the environment in the service of Big Business. He is dictatorial and loves brutal dictators in numerous foreign countries.

No matter how many serious exposes, critiques, corrections of his hundreds of false statements (fake facts), entreaties to be truthful and connect with reality, along with the heartfelt pleas of aggrieved Americans, Trump doesn’t relent or admit and correct his fictions. He refuses to recognize blatant wrong-doing and continues his foul-mouthed attacks on anyone who arouses his thin-skinned ire. Even more, he doubles down on his deficiencies of character and personality—all relayed by a supine, ratings-driven mass media that mostly denies his targets their rebuttals.

Maybe we can get through to him by giving him a taste of his own medicine, turning his style of aggressive personal attacks against him.

Take, for example his juvenile use of pejorative nicknames. It started with “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz and “Little Marco” Rubio during his primary campaign in 2015-2016. His repertoire expanded to “Crooked” Hillary in the main campaign, spread as President to “Liddle Bob Corker,” “Cryin’ Chuck” Schumer, “Flaky” Jeff Flake, “Pocahontas” Elizabeth Warner, “Low I.Q.” Rep. Maxine Waters, and “Lamb the Sham” for Pennsylvania House of Representatives winning candidate and Marine veteran Conor Lamb.

He even labelled NBC’s Meet the Press anchor as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd” while calling the media the “enemy of the people.” Never in American history has a President of the United States stooped to his gutter level. Why is this so troubling? Because the mass media repeat these outbursts and make these slurs and insults stick in their ditto-heading, day after day “reporting.” It is as if he owns the mass media. This mindless echoing of Trump even includes the otherwise critical New York Times and the Washington Post.

That is why, for Trump Imitation Day, nick-names have to be announced for Trump—say, “Corrupt Donald,” “Cheating Donald,” or “Tall-Tale Trump—until the press recovers its senses and stops being Trump’s nick-name bullhorn.

Wherever Trump brags and boasts about himself in demonstrably false ways he should be countered with truthful monikers. When he talks of being a fabulous businessman, he gets back the moniker, “a failed gambling czar whose companies went bankrupt.” When he says he loves and respects women, he gets back, “female assaulter in chief.”

When he talks about how rich he is, ask him to prove it by finally releasing his tax returns, like all other modern Presidents have done. Is he refusing to disclose because he has evaded taxes?
When he boasts about how academically smart he was, ask him to prove his academic credentials. Fordham University has him listed as “failure to complete.” Also, how does the public really know he was born in the U.S. since he hasn’t released his birth certificate, as he demanded Barack Obama do. Tit for tat.

When he refers the deadly, air-poisoning mineral, as “beautiful clean coal,” demand that he go down into a coal mine, as I did while pushing for the Mine Safety Act of 1969. Tell him to visit coal miners dying in hospital rooms from “black lung” disease. (Hundreds of thousands of miners have lost their lives from this occupational disease since 1900.)

Bring him back to reality by hurling concise, memorable facts and truth against his lies and insults. Be pithy, clever, and unrelenting.  When he repeals or fails to enforce lifesaving, health protecting regulations, don’t just accuse him of “de-regulation” in wonky terms. Tell him he is killing, injuring or sickening consumers and workers, and tell him he is poisoning the water, air and food where children and families are trying to live. Otherwise, Trump—riding on tweets and a sensation-crazed mass media – will dissolve the rationality of our society and intimidate many good people into silence.

Trump knows how to intimidate and play the bully. In 1990, he told Playboy magazine, “When somebody tries to sucker punch me, when they’re after my ass, I push back a hell of a lot harder than I was pushed in the first place….Those people don’t come back for seconds.”

OK America, give him some of his own medicine and watch him flail, bellow and smear until his ugly persona crumbles beyond the sixty percent of the American people who already reject this Electoral College selectee.

Don’t give up. Repetition is key to countering his revolting behavior, like lancing a giant boil. He will either come to his senses or he will check out and retire to Mar-a-Lago. There he can watch the rising ocean and contemplate his repeated description of climate change as a hoax.

Heritage’s Corporate Lobby Inside Trump’s Government is Not the People’s Heritage

The Heritage Foundation, with an annual budget nearing $90 million a year (including over $1 million for the salary of its president), calls itself conservative, but more often than not it practices the kind of corporatism dear to the impulses of President Trump. The Washington-based “think tank/lobbying firm” has quite a score card with the failed gambling czar who lost the popular vote but won the vestigial Electoral College tally to become head of state. In fact, they’ve given him a checklist, and he seems to be obediently implementing the Heritage Foundation’s agenda.

Immediately after his Electoral College selection, Trump’s transition team was swarmed with Heritage personnel—the 334 “unique policy recommendations” comprising its massive “Mandate for Leadership.” Indeed, seventy former Heritage employees now work for the Trump Administration.

According to Heritage’s Thomas Binion, the Trumpsters have adopted or implemented “64 percent of the 334 policy prescriptions.” This success rate, Heritage says, exceeds even President Ronald Reagan’s first year in office when his administration adopted 49 percent of Heritage’s policy recommendations.

Heritage’s boldness and energy levels tower over its counterpart institutions on the alleged left-of-center political spectrum. It helps that big corporate money bolsters Heritage’s various projects, including one recently created initiative “Heritage Action,” which dives directly into electoral politics. In its 45 years of operation, Heritage has fed off demanding oil tycoon heirs such as Richard Mellon Scaife and Shelby Cullom Davis, the relentless Koch brothers and, recently, the Trump-backing Mercer financial interests.

Mr. Binion proudly lists some of his organization’s successes with Trump, and more “adopted” recommendations can be found in the full list. Here is a small selection for your perusal:

–Leaving the Paris Climate Accord and cutting funding for research on climate disruption

–Shrinking the public lands

–Greatly increasing military spending

–Making the needy work for government assistance

–Opening up the federal lands to off-shore drilling and coal leasing

–Withdrawing from UNESCO—a move strongly urged by the Israeli government

–Eliminating Environmental Justice Programs

–Ending Renewable Energy Mandates in DOD

–Eliminating Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for children

–Eliminating the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau

–Eliminating Tribal Housing

–Reducing funding for the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights by 50%

–Cutting budgets for all kinds of help to the poor, the disabled and other deprived Americans such as impoverished patients seeking health care

Hand it to Heritage, it deals with both abstract conservative principles and concrete policies.

The problem is that the principles don’t match what Heritage is pressing for in the avaricious arena of Republican corporate politics.

Here are its principles: “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Let’s compare Heritage’s walk to its talk. “Free enterprise?” Rhetoric aside, Heritage is inactive on old and new monopolies, and indeed anything to do with massive corporate welfare for the favored big companies and big money in politics which tilt the playing field and shaft taxpayers.

“Limited government?” What about—to invoke President Eisenhower’s warning words—the big government of the bloated “Military-Industrial Complex?” What about the massive outsourcing of public functions to corporations that consider overcharging taxpayers to be a business strategy? What about the system of “criminal injustice,” in which people can be arrested without being charged with a crime? What about prosecutorial abuses and illegal prison abuses? What about DOJ-promoted for-profit prisons that benefit from social systems that continually perpetuate cycles of incarceration and arrest? Do these qualify as “limited government?”

“Individual freedom?” What about the massive invasion of individual privacy by corporations or the destruction of the freedom of contracts—consumer servitude under unilateral fine print contracts not subject to competition? What about the FCC’s elimination of net neutrality, allowing internet and cable providers to infiltrate, control and monetize every aspect of the internet “commons?”

“Traditional American values?” What about equal protection of the laws in the form of strong enforcement actions against the corporate crime wave that has been documented regularly by the Wall Street Journal and Business Week? Heritage is silent on this obvious, deep American value.

What about compassion values for the poor and preservation of the air, water and soil? Heritage has hooked its reputation onto two of the cruelest of Trump’s henchmen: Scott Pruitt, dismantling the EPA, contrary to his oath of office, and the mad dog of mad dogs—Michael Mulvaney, who heads both the Office of Management and Budget and the Wall Street watchdog, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which he is running through the Wall Street corporate meat grinder.

“A strong national defense?” A wasteful defense is a weak defense and military power in the service of Empire only increases hatred, war and civilian adversaries against the invaders and backers of dictatorships abroad. Heritage is silent on such lessons of history and has sided too often with the neo-con war mongers. The libertarian Cato institute, at least, opposes criminal wars of aggression (as in Iraq) and imperialism.

There are people inside Heritage troubled about this conflict between true conservatives and corporatists masquerading as conservatives. They know that the rhetoric about being against crony capitalism or statism (the corporate state) is not part of Heritage’s muscle on Capitol Hill or at Trump’s White House. But they know where their bread is buttered.