All posts by Ralph Nader

Massive Rallies Work!

Around the world people are marching, rallying, and demonstrating in huge numbers. Some of these countries are ruled by dictators or plutocratic regimes, others are considered democracies. Despite the peril of protest, people are seeking justice, freedom, and decent livelihoods.

Many boast about the United States being the oldest democracy in the world. While there are some street protests in the US, they are sadly too few and far between. Rallies calling attention to climate disruption have received less public support and media attention than they deserve. Likewise, the Parkland rally in Washington, D.C. against gun violence could have received more follow up publicity. And we all remember the massive women’s march the day after Trump was inaugurated in Washington, D.C. The subsequent women’s marches have attracted smaller crowds and therefore less media coverage.

It is not as if our country doesn’t have a historic tradition of sustained demonstrations. Mass protests have carried the labor movement, the farmer movement, the civil rights movement, and the anti-war movement to breakthroughs. These mass protests alone were not the sole drivers of political action – books, articles, editorials, pamphlets, posters, and litigation were essential. But visible displays of aggregated people power had a profound effect on those politicians’ actions. When politicians put their fingers to the wind, the repeated rumble from the masses is what fills the sails of change.

It is not as if mass injustices are absent in the “land of the free, home of the brave.” Sadly, the informed populace is just not showing up in an organized, big crowd fashion – the way they did to challenge the nuclear arms race and nuclear power in the nineteen seventies and eighties. In the era of the iPhone and Internet, activists have greater access to organizing tools than ever – no postage stamps or costly long-distance telephone calls are needed.

Consider these candidates for mass demonstrations proximate to where the decision makers are located. Millions of young people are being gouged by student loan creditors and for-profit colleges. Whether it is the U.S. Department of Education’s high interest rates or the exploitation by for-profit universities, the abuses are outrageous, cruel, and in the latter case, often criminal.

Total outstanding student loans amount to over $1.5 trillion. These burdened young Americans know how to contact each other for free; they also can raise money instantly using new crowdfunding technology. They know how to use the visual arts and the verbal arts. Congress can reverse the predatory practices in higher education. Where is the advocacy from millions of student loan debtors? They could have a huge impact if they surrounded the Capitol or held smaller rallies around Congressional offices back home, especially in the coming election year.

Millions of workers are making, inflation adjusted, less than workers made in 1968. The federal minimum wage, frozen at $7.25, is the culprit. The House of Representatives finally bestirred itself to pass a $15 minimum wage stretched over a number of years. But when the Walmart-indentured members of the Senate look out their windows, it would be nice to see masses of workers surrounding their Senate offices, prior to some insistent personal lobbying?

There are no labor mass rallies in front of Trump’s anti-labor White House either, even though, the headquarters of the AFL-CIO are just yards away on 16th Street NW. The face-off of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka v. Donald Trump is overdue.

Millions of minorities are suffering voter suppression. Civil rights leaders are angry. They anticipate Republicans at the state and federal level to again erect all kinds of insidious roadblocks that disproportionately affect people of color the most. Abuses in the Florida and Georgia races were rampant in 2018. Presidential races in swing states are also plagued by voter suppression tactics. All signs point to a more intrusive stripping of eligible voters in the 2020 election.

Where are the marches before the offices of the state secretary of state and culpable legislators and Governors headquarters?

A quarter of our country’s families are poor. A Poor People’s Campaign, led by the Reverend William Barber and local pastors, has been protesting in the streets in North Carolina and other states. Their protests deserve far greater attendance. The media has given them too little coverage. But if there were massive demonstrations in major cities and before state legislatures and the Congress, with coordinated demands and large photographs of key politicians fronting for the rich and powerful, will get mass media coverage.

Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance or are severely underinsured. Thousands of lives are lost annually as a result. This is a problem in America but not other developed nations that have systems in place that prioritize their citizens’ health. Getting sick or injured without medical care is far too frequent in the U.S. Those who suffer from this deprivation can be motivated to take to the streets. The health care industry’s soaring profits and their mega-rich bosses should move additional Americans to rally for Medicare-for-All!

These rallies can be led by physicians and nurses, tired of the paperwork, the bureaucracy, and the health insurance companies denying access to health care for their patients and arbitrarily rejecting doctor-recommended treatments.

In the nineteen forties, President Harry Truman proposed to Congress universal health insurance. Americans still do not have Medicare-for-All and are paying the highest prices, premiums, and out of pocket bills in the world – not to mention the human suffering caused by an inadequate healthcare system.

What a great street story for television, radio, and print newspapers! Think of the tragic human interest stories, straight from the heart by mothers and fathers with children having limited or no access to health care.

Other marches can come from the homeless and the desperate tenants spending over half their income on rent in the many communities where there is a shortage of affordable housing.

All these mass turnouts can pass contribution buckets or tout websites and raise money from the crowds for the next round of even larger protests. At each event, a list of demands can be presented to decision-makers. At each event, protestors can go to the offices where the decision-makers are or insist that these lawmakers speak to the assembled protestors.

There are many innovations to make these action rallies more impactful, more motivating, and more mass-media-centric. There also have to be some enlightened billionaires, worried about their country and their descendants, who want to provide the modest amount of money necessary for event organizers and focused political action. Show up America!

Excluding the Civic Community Excludes Life-Savers

The lawmakers are doing it. The candidates are doing it. The mass media are doing it. All are excluding from their arenas the leading citizen groups as never before, since the early nineteen sixties. The nonprofit national advocacy/research organizations that led the way for social reforms are being shut out of the political process. These groups were pioneers in consumer rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and whistle-blower protections. These groups fought for freedom of information laws and practices and access to justice in ways that have made our country better in so many ways.

Television anchors like Judy Woodruff (The News Hour, PBS) and Chuck Todd (Meet the Press, NBC) prefer to interview reporters, political consultants or tired columnists, instead of knowledgeable civic leaders who use facts and speak truth to power.

One result of this marginalization is that the public discussion of key services and safeguards for the people is often vapid and fact-starved. For starters, the talking heads who are invited on news shows rarely, if ever, speak of the corporate crime wave, the corporate welfare scandals, or many preventable mass casualties that flow from corporate negligence and cover-ups. The few news articles on such subjects are often thin and untimely because reporters are not in regular touch with citizen groups, instead choosing to rely on irregular official leaks and occasional insider information.

Take, for example, the current discussion on Medicare-for-All or single-payer health insurance. The Democratic presidential candidates and other progressive lawmakers who support catching up with dozens of other industrial nations are not making the strongest case for this basic human right. They say that all Americans should have access to health care, referring to the unaffordable price of care.

The corporatists and some of these Democratic presidential hopefuls attack Medicare-for-All, asserting that the program would be prohibitively expensive by citing wild projections from biased think tanks. Bernie Sanders rebuts by proposing overdue restoration of higher taxes on the wealthy and big business. He asserts that whatever increases there are on the middle class would more than be made up by no longer having to pay health insurance premiums and out of pocket costs.

Moreover, most advocates of single payer do not stress the millions of ailments and injuries which persist because people cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. According to the Wall Street Journal, roughly 30 million Americans are uninsured and 86 million Americans are underinsured. And about 40,000 of them die from that same deprivation each year. Such casualties due to lack of insurance do not happen in countries with universal insurance.

Furthermore, little mention is made of Canada’s far more efficient single-payer (public insurance, private delivery of care) that covers every Canadian at half the average per capita cost of that in the U.S. Canada also has free choice of doctor and hospital, in contrast to the cruel, narrow networks in the U.S.

Canada has better outcomes, less billing fraud by far and fewer casualties due to “medical error and negligence.” This is because the U.S. has a serious problem of over-diagnosis and over treatment, due to profit motives built into our chaotic, wasteful, corrupt, and profiteering system.

Single payer means one billing agent in Canada, not inscrutable bills from 1500 insurance companies with manipulated codes and discriminatory fees (for example, many hospitals charge the uninsured more in the U.S.).

In Canada, there is far less anxiety, dread, and fear about medical bills than in the U.S. Imagine what that is worth!

In the U.S. people worry that if they change jobs, they’ll lose their insurance. In Canada, physicians practice medicine, not complex bookkeeping. In the U.S., physicians plead for permission to treat their patients, while slow-paying insurance companies look out for their corporate bottom line.

The sheer administrative costs in the U.S. are, as a percentage of overall costs, more than double the administrative costs in Canada. Health care in Canada is on average less than $5000 average per capita per year; in the U.S. it has just soared over $10,000 per capita per year. Canada spends 10% of its GDP on health care and covers everyone; the U.S. is reaching 18% of GDP while leaving out tens of millions of people.

No one in Canada has to go bankrupt due to medical bills, as is the case half a million times a year in the U.S. Drug prices for the same drugs are lower in Canada than in the U.S. due to the bargaining power of Canadian single-payer system. Just in terms of correlating health care data, single payer detects what works and what doesn’t far better than the secret proprietary data of many U.S. insurance companies (which excessively compensate their executives). For example, in 2017, Aetna paid its CEO, Mark Bertolini, nearly $59 million as compensation (see the Hartford Courant article published on April 7, 2018). These salaries and compensation packages come out of your pockets, as do the co-pays, deductibles. The maddeningly complex fine-print exclusions add insult to injury.

In the U.S. people resort to GoFundMe campaigns to collect money for major operations that cost far more than they would in Canada.  After all, to get the same procedures all Canadians have to do is show their Medicare card which is given to them at birth.

At the extreme, people in the U.S. commit minor crimes just to go to jail to get health insurance. Recently, a couple in their seventies in Washington state took their lives due to being so overwhelmed by their soaring medical bills.

These and other examples further illustrate the advantages of a single-payer system. These numerous points were conveyed in a printed pamphlet personally delivered to dozens of members of Congress (see “25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections” and singlepayeraction.org). Some of these deliveries were followed by my personal calls. To date, not one office, other than Congressman Jamie Raskin’s, acknowledged receipt. Nor have any of these lawmakers or the presidential candidates used such obvious arguments in this pamphlet or other available materials to rebut or to explain. Rarely do any media outlets present the overwhelming advantages of a single-payer health care system.

Recently, liberal columnist, Mark Shields appeared on the PBS News Hour and mindlessly characterized single payer as being too expensive.

When Medicare was established in 1965, the elderly had no trouble giving up their private health insurance plans that could at any time have been weakened, dropped, or not renewed. Just as today, workers with private company plans can be forced to accept less coverage or be laid off without any coverage. Mr. Shields seemed to have forgotten the fear that workers have about the unilateral power of companies to change the rules and delay or limit the benefits.

The foregoing case for a single-payer health insurance system is just one example of how corporate power prevails when there is media and political exclusion of the informed and experienced civic community. Speak up, people!

Where Are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?

The British political philosopher, John Stuart Mill, was a man of many pithy phrases. Possibly his most widely quoted assertion is that “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

This quote fits the Trump age perfectly. Where are you, Barack Obama? Obama is still polling higher than any other politician, active or retired. Instead of speaking out, he is making movies, maybe writing another book, and otherwise really enjoying himself.

Where are you Condoleezza Rice? She encouraged Rex Tillerson to be Trump’s Secretary of State, but Tillerson was cast aside in 2018 by a sneering Trump, who pronounced him “dumb as a rock.” Condoleezza is collecting honors and large speech fees and teaching at Stanford University (keep in mind that Rice was on the inside during the criminal Bush/Cheney war in Iraq, which she supported and defended).

Where are you General Colin Powell? Powell is another former disgusted high official still high in the polls. He thinks he is hated by the White House. He needs to speak up, as his formidable former Chief of Staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, has repeatedly done.

The list could go on and on. The former high officials or elected politicians, now retired, who do want to speak up, complain that they can’t get any media attention. If that is true, they should organize into a collective force, with some staff, to help push for media attention. I’m sure they will be able to attract some enlightened large donors.

Not all former officials are AWOL. Some former officials write prominent op-eds in newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Some former Obama-era public servants started a podcast called Pod Save America. These efforts are, sadly, not enough to compete with Trump’s onslaught.

It is imperative that these political figures speak out, stand tall, and push back against Trump’s worsening outrages. Trump’s brazen lies obscure his administration’s secrecy and cover-ups; for his abysmal betrayals of workers, patients, consumers, communities; and for Trump’s false pledges that he would help create a safe, healthy environment. Remember his nonsensical rhetoric about clean air, clean water, and beautiful, clean coal.

He still thinks evidence about climate disruption is a “Chinese hoax.”

In his mass rallies – that screen out critical citizens – Trump knowingly lies with reckless abandon. For example, at his recent Dallas rally, Trump said that he has brought the “largest decline in drug prices in over 51 years.” Actually, drug prices are soaring as deprived patients, insurance company executives, and Medicare officials know so well. So what does Trump add? He tells his believers that the reason they don’t know about lower drug prices is that the media, which he calls “crooked,” “corrupt,” and “fake,” isn’t telling Americans the truth.

That Trump has lied over ten thousand times to the American people is itself, given their many ramifications, a “violation of the public trust,” which Alexander Hamilton described as an impeachable offense.  Trump lies more in a month than other presidents do during their entire four year term.

Many of the influential people who are silent about Trump’s abuses have no economic worries. They are sufficiently or extravagantly well-off. They have no concerns over the need for future jobs, being in their sixties or seventies. Retired lawyers who see Trump trampling on our constitutional and legal frameworks should be particularly incensed.

If some billionaire would fund the creation of a Secretariat to promote the views of Trump’s critics, a small experienced staff and these influential people together could create a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Former lawmakers and executive officials, when acting together and assisted by a support staff, can multiply their efforts. Former Senators Lowell Wiecker and Gary Hart; former EPA chiefs, such as William Ruckelshaus; and former governors of New Jersey, Thomas Keane and Christine Todd Whitman are all critical of Trump’s misbehavior. Trump ravages people and lies about a variety of serious matters without rebuttal. As we know from history, an unchallenged lie, repeated over and over again begins to sink in. It is imperative that accomplished people who challenge Trump’s lies gain public credibility. Just consider the “nicknames” Trump assigns to his adversaries, without any nicknames being successfully applied to him. “Crooked Donald,” “Decadent Donald,” “Draft-dodging Donald,” “Disgraceful Donald,” “Lying Donald,” and so forth. He has used such monikers, and worse, to slander opponents and these insults have been repeated by the mass media. Trump’s victims are not afforded a chance to respond to his invectives.

A few media critics, notably Margaret Sullivan from the Washington Post, have chided their editors for allowing such defamatory Trumpian soliloquies. To avoid being his bullhorn, Sullivan argues, the media should not report such abuses. At a minimum, those who are attacked by Trump should be offered the chance to respond. Rebutting bullies is the first step in balancing the public stage. This would be particularly effective for a nasty, thin-skinned bully like Donald Trump.

“I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Really!

It is time for the House of Representatives to announce comprehensive articles of impeachment against the chronic outlaw and violator of the public trust—President Donald J. Trump who won the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote.

Six House Committees have been investigating and assembling for months the necessary evidence. Mr. Trump himself has taunted the House to impeach him. He has openly and brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas for documents and block subpoenaed witnesses from testifying. This obstruction of Congress is an ongoing impeachable offense—a grave one in the opinions of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the other framers of our Constitution, who knew the importance of critical separation of powers.

These Committees are documenting his massive obstruction of justice, otherwise known as blocking law enforcement and the rule of law through intimidation, firings, and other forms of political coercion. They are filling in the details of the ten categories of obstruction described in the Mueller Report. They are cataloguing all the ways Trump is using his office to enrich his businesses—openly promoting his hotels before foreign governments and their agents.

Committee investigators are peeling off layer after layer of Trump’s demanding from Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine to investigate a possible opponent to his re-election—Joe Biden and his son, having suspended nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine to pressure Mr. Zelensky.

The “abuse of the public trust,” in Alexander Hamilton’s phrase is overflowing. Over ten thousand Trump lies mean cover-ups, secrecy in government, deceiving innocent citizens about the air, food, water, and workplace danger, megalomania, about drug prices and health insurance for all. Lies matter; they tell us something about the President’s mental instability, his detachment from reality, and the willingness of a large minority of the people to believe the fibs—even when they are about their own crucial livelihoods, health, and safety.

Being a serial sexual predator and earlier bragging about how he accosted women are a brutish model for youngsters. Legislators like Senator Al Franken lost his position for doing one percent of Donald’s criminal and tortious acts. What would Hamilton also think of the Commander in Chief saying that if he is impeached, there might be a civil war? Incitation to mass violence for his political survival is not a minor matter.

Then there are the lawless uses of armed force abroad anywhere Trump wants, regardless of the absence of Congressional appropriations or declarations of war. Dragnet enforcement without judicial warrants are a federal crime. The same for threatening registered federal whistleblowers.

The House of Representatives already has enough evidence of Trump spending money for purposes not authorized by Congress, such as shifting $3.5 billion from Pentagon schools and other services to building his porous wall. If he reads the Constitution, the “power of the purse” was exclusively given to Congress.

That previous presidents have done some of the latter offenses does not exonerate Trump’s violations. The Congress has to draw the line and stop the ever-faster drift under both parties toward executive tyranny in the White House.

The polls are moving over 50% in favor of impeachment. Other people wish Congress would focus on kitchen-table issues. They need to know that Trump’s impeachable offenses include wholesale taking the federal cops off the corporate crime beat. He is making your air, water, food, and workplaces more hazardous by removing or weakening health and safety standards that save lives and diminish sicknesses. He’s allowing more greenhouse gases to be emitted, worsening the climate disruptions which he says is a “Chinese hoax.”

Law enforcement to protect your family budget has reached a record low. The loan sharks, credit, insurance, and banking industries know that. Fines imposed on wrongdoers by Trump’s agencies have dropped precipitously (see Public Citizen’s report, “Corporate Impunity”). With Trump, you’re paying higher taxes as the wealthy classes get off and savor their large Trumpian tax escapes.

The foregoing is to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver a full hand of serious impeachable offenses to the Congress and the American people. The Ukraine shakedown is important, but not sufficient to let people realize all the other things Trump is doing to them, their families, their Constitution, and their democracy.

The full, despicable portrait of Donald J. Trump must be revealed to provide the maximum possible public understanding. For over two and a half years, too many of his absurd tweets and assertions have gone without official rebuttals. His tactic is to dominate the news cycle every day as if his presidency is a reality show and he is the star.

The mass media is starting to wise up about being used and abused by Trump’s fulminations and incitements. It is time for the mass media, and its broadening coverage of the forthcoming, nationally televised House impeachment proceedings, to prove it too can expose Trump’s assault on both our Constitution’s law of the land and the citizenry.

Shame of a Nation: The 1% Rules, the 99% Lets Them!

  1. There has never been more access to food – domestic and imported – yet hunger is an ongoing problem everywhere. In the U.S. alone, 16.5 million children go to bed hungry and 20% of community college students are experiencing “food insecurity.”
  2. Never have there been more communications technologies, yet it is harder to get through to people personally than fifty years ago.
  3. Never have people been able to use their right to free speech so unencumbered, yet a torrent of lies are now spread so freely and are often unchallenged.
  4. Never have there been higher corporate profits, yet staggering amounts of poverty and near poverty remain along with stagnant wages.
  5. Never have there been more medicines to alleviate pain, yet far too many of these pain killers have caused massive fatalities and addictions.
  6. Never has there been more liquid corporate capital piled up, yet corporate investment is proportionately lower than before. Instead, CEO’s have burned over 7 trillion dollars in unproductive stock buybacks in the past decade.
  7. Never have there been more exercise outlets, exercise machines and apps, yet obesity is still rampant.
  8. Never have there been more tax breaks for big businesses, yet big businesses use so little of the windfalls for productive investments, good jobs and shoring up pensions.
  9. Never has there been more free access to information, yet so little retained knowledge.
  10. Never have there been more impressive muckraking film documentaries and books that expose corporate and government crimes, yet this media attention produces less impact and reform.
  11. Never have there been more ongoing impeachable offenses and statutory violations by a president, yet the opposing Party in Congress have been reluctant to move on the many articles of impeachment. Remember how fast the unified House of Republicans moved to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice?
  12. Never have there been more trainers, sports physicians, protective equipment and guards for professional athletes, yet there are far more injuries and days lost by players than was the case sixty years ago. Now there are helmets, gloves, pads, cushioned walls, better shoes etc. Why?
  13. Never has there been more to read, yet there are so few readers reading. Historically, we have gone from illiteracy to literacy to aliteracy!
  14. Never before has technology made it so easy for heads of government to meet, yet fewer international treaties are made. (Eg. Cyber, water, environment, consumer, labor etc.)
  15. Never has there been such an outrageous corporate crime wave, yet law enforcement budgets have decreased! The more big CEO’s are paid, the worse is their management. (Eg. The big banks twelve years ago, General Electric for years.)
  16. Never before have there been so many wrongful injuries, yet the court budgets are becoming tighter and the law of torts is being restricted. Without the defense of and use of our civil justice system, wrongful injury cases cannot go to court with a trial by jury.
  17. Never before has there been more corporate fraud, yet agencies tasked with bringing this fraud to justice have smaller budgets and more limitations. The budget of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a third of one day’s worth of health care billing fraud, which is estimated this year to be $350 billion, according to Harvard’s national expert on the subject, Professor Malcolm Sparrow. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been straitjacketed by the evil corporate crime abettor Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House Chief of Staff for corrupt Donald.
  18. Never has the drug industry accumulated more profits and government subsidies, yet so many patients cannot begin to afford lifesaving medicines.
  19. Never have the under-taxed super-rich been so rich, yet on average give a smaller proportion of their money to “good works.” Actually, middle and lower income people give more proportionally than do the ultra-wealthy.

I could go on and on. Pick up the pace, readers. Senator Elizabeth Warren has correctly called for “big structural changes.”

Trump: Will He Implode with Lies Before He is Impeached?

Donald Trump said he believes the Constitution lets him do “whatever I want as President.” In over two and a half years, Trump has been a serial violator of the Constitution, unmatched by any president in American history. Just about every day he is a constitutional outlaw.

Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein has documented twelve categories of major constitutional transgressions. Some are also statutory crimes. Many of these involve Trump overpowering the critical separation of powers that our founders rigorously established to assure that the president does not become a monarch like King George III.

The framers were very clear that Congress and only Congress can appropriate monies for the Executive branch to spend; that only Congress can declare war; that the president must faithfully execute the laws; and that the Congress has the full authority to investigate the executive branch for abuses, irregularities, illegalities, or the need for new laws. Trump totally defies Congressional subpoenas for documents and witnesses. That grave overthrow of constitutional government is alone enough for eviction from office.

When he is not openly violating the Constitution, Trump lies and commits impeachable offenses.

The most recent violation was in seeking from a foreign power—Ukraine—assistance in influencing our presidential election in his favor by investigating a major challenger—former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son. He dangled a $250 million military aid package (maybe more) to Ukraine by suspending it before speaking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the telephone.

This “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s words, finally moved the reluctant House leader. After being AWOL on all the other serious, repeated flouting of constitutional behavior, she is now focusing on Trump and Ukraine.

Much has been reported about Trump’s chronic lying. He lies daily, sometimes hourly, with his tweets and public blather. The Washington Post has catalogued over 12,000 prevarications and false statements since January 2017. Not enough, however, has been made of the aggregate effects of such lying as a living. Trump creates illusions about himself, about his alleged achievements, and about conditions in the United States and world. He spreads constant lies and transmits the lies of others. Often these are monstrous lies, which slander innocent people and trick his supporters into believing him because they think no president could possibly lie like that to them. These are dangerous obsessions for a president.

Trump says he wants everyone to have “beautiful” health insurance, yet he pushes Congress to change Obamacare, stripping twenty million people of health insurance without any substitute program.

Trump brags about consistently defying Congressional statutes by dismantling federal agencies established to protect all Americans where they live, work, and raise their families.

Trump says we have the cleanest air and water ever, yet his henchmen are running these agencies into the ground and repealing or weakening life-saving pollution controls. The result is more toxic air in your lungs, more child asthma, and dirtier drinking water.

Trump lies about voter fraud, about not using his office to enrich his business, and about all the new factories coming to the U.S. He even lies about the weather, damaging the credibility of the National Weather Service. He denies his sexual exploits and hush money payments. He rejects without evidence ten serious obstruction of justice actions documented in the Mueller Report.

Trump denies that his cuts in food stamps will leave over half a million children without a free school lunch. He denies that his tax cut overwhelmingly benefitted the super-rich and major corporations.

Trump says his nominees are extremely qualified. In reality, whether it is the EPA, the public lands agency, the Department of Labor, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Trump has chosen lawless people whose main qualification was urging the abolition or weakening of these federal law enforcers against corporate crimes and abuses.

Trump falsely says that climate disruption is not scientifically established, but a “Chinese hoax,” while our country in plain sight is being battered by record breaking heat waves, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and tornadoes.

Trump says coal, oil, and gas are better for America than wind power (which he says causes cancer) and solar energy, which are cheaper and safer.

Trump is actually increasing deadly greenhouse gases as a result and worsening the climate crisis that the Pentagon calls a national security risk.

Trump keeps promising to control soaring drug prices while refusing to get that job done.

Trump lies about the massiveness of his wealth, yet opposes any release of his tax returns.

Trump says brutal dictators are doing great for their people, ignoring the obvious facts.

Trump operates in a vast cocoon of falsity and refuses to read and consult with people who are not sycophants. This is an egomaniacal, narcissistic illusionist who could start wars, has his hand on the nuclear trigger, and believes he is about the law and Congressional controls.

Trump regularly calls legislators investigating him “sick,” “treasonous,” “crooked,” and “low-IQ.” Truthfully these are descriptions of him.

Trump, unlike Clinton who was impeached by the House in 1998, has successfully resisted testifying or being questioned under oath. He is a many sided fugitive from justice, one or more steps above of the law.

Pelosi is making a mistake if she doesn’t go forward with the full articles of impeachment against Trump. Relying on the Ukraine betrayal is not enough to counter the attack by Trump’s avalanche of lies, phony distractions, and possibly a “wag the dog,” desperation overseas.

25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare, and although it has improved access to healthcare for some, tens of millions of Americans still cannot afford basic medical care for their family. No healthcare system is without problems but Canadian-style single-payer — full Medicare for all — is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal for all basic and emergency medical and hospital services.

In the mid-1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 25 ways the Canadian health care system — and the resulting quality of life in Canada — is better than the chaotic, wasteful and often cruel U.S. system.

Replace it with the much more efficient Medicare-for-all: everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital. It will produce far less anxiety, dread, and fear. Hear that, Congress and the White House!

Number 25:

In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth – everybody in, nobody out. A human right.

In the United States, under Obamacare, 28 million Americans (9 percent) are still uninsured and 85 million Americans (26 percent) are underinsured. Obamacare is made even worse by Trumpcare restrictions. (See Trumpcare by John Geyman MD (2019)).

Number 24:

In Canada, the health system is designed to put people, not profits, first.

In the United States, Obamacare has done little to curb insurance industry profits and in fact has increased the concentrated insurance industry’s massive profits.

Number 23:

In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income – rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 22:

In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you only for as long as you can afford your insurance.

Number 21:

In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking – thus restricting freedom of choice – and if you want to go out of network, you pay dearly for it.

Number 20:

In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in insurance premiums directly and indirectly per employer.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it’s pay or die – if you can’t pay, you die. That’s why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time. The survivors are confronted with very high, often unregulated drug prices.

Number 19:

In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don’t even see a bill.

In the United States, under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills are terribly complex, replete with massive billing fraud estimated to be at least $350 billion a year by Harvard Professor Malcolm Sparrow.

Number 18:

In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 17.9 percent of its GDP and still doesn’t cover tens of millions of people.

Number 17:

In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, health-care-driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 16:

In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, under Obamacare, often staggering complexity ratchets up huge administrative costs and overhead.

Number 15:

In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: “What’s wrong?”

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Number 14:

In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases. As a result, drug prices remain exorbitant and continue to  skyrocket.

Number 13:

In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2017, the CEO of Aetna alone made a whopping $59 million.

Number 12:

In Canada, there are no required co-pays or deductibles in inscrutable contracts.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans. Fine print traps are everywhere.

Number 11:

In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 10:

In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 9:

In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, tens of thousands of Americans will continue to die every year because they lack health insurance or can’t pay much higher prices for drugs, medical devices, and health care itself.

Number 8:

In Canada, health care on average costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, unlike in the United States, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a majority support Medicare-for-all. But they are being blocked by lawmakers and their corporate paymasters.

Number 7:

In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are modestly progressive – the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 6:

In Canada, people use GoFundMe to start new businesses.

In the United States, fully one in three GoFundMe fundraisers are now to raise money to pay medical bills. Recently, one American was rejected for a heart transplant because she couldn’t afford the follow-up care. Her insurance company suggested she raise the money through GoFundMe.

Number 5:

In Canada, people avoid prison at all costs.

In the United States, some Americans commit minor crimes so that they can get to prison and receive free health care.

Number 4:

In Canada, people look forward to the benefits of early retirement.

In the United States, people delay retirement to 65 to avoid being uninsured.

Number 3:

In Canada, Nobel Prize winners hold on to their medal and pass it down to their children and grandchildren.

In the United States, a Nobel Prize winner sold his medal to help pay for his medical bills.

Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize in 1988 for his pioneering physics research. But in 2015, the physicist, who passed away in November 2018, sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills.

Number 2:

In Canada, the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare’s 954 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Number 1:

In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, a growing majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses prefer the Canadian type system – Medicare-for-all, free choice of doctor and hospital , everybody in, nobody out and far less expensive with better outcomes overall.

It’s decision time, America!

For more information, see Single Payer Action.

Big Business Lies Taught a Watchful Donald Trump

For avalanche-level lying, deceiving, and misleading, mega-mimic Donald Trump need look no further than the history of the corporate advertising industry and the firms that pay them.

Dissembling is so deeply ingrained in commercial culture that the Federal Trade Commission and the courts don’t challenge exaggerated general claims that they call “puffery.”

Serious corporate deception is a common sales technique. At times it cost consumers more than dollars. It has led to major illness and loss of life.

Take the tobacco industry which used to sell its products in the context of health and facilitating mental concentration. Healthy movie stars and athletes were featured in print and on TV until 1970.

Despite studies showing that sugary soft drinks can damage health, increase obesity, and reduce life expectancy, the industry’s ads still feature healthy, fit families in joyous situations guzzling pop. Fortunately, drinking water has regained its first place position as the most consumed liquid in the U.S.

Whether it is the auto industry’s false inflation of fuel efficiency or the e-cigarette companies deceiving youngsters about vaping, or the food industry selling sugary junk cereals as nutrition for children, or the credit banking companies misleading on interest rates, truth in advertising is oxymoronic.

To counter these “fake ads,” the consumer movement pushed for mandatory labeling on food and other products. The Federal Trade Commission is a chief enforcer against deception in advertising, but it has waxed and waned over the decades. The FTC describes its duties to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices as follows:

In advertising and marketing, the law requires that objective claims be truthful and substantiated. The FTC does not pursue subjective claims or puffery — claims like “this is the best hairspray in the world.” But if there is an objective component to the claim — such as “more consumers prefer our hairspray to any other” or “our hairspray lasts longer than the most popular brands” — then you need to be sure that the claim is not deceptive and that you have adequate substantiation before you make the claim.

A few times, companies, caught engaging in false advertising, were compelled by the FTC to announce the correction in their forthcoming ads and apologize. Those days are long gone.

Another way consumers fought back is the spectacular success of Dr. Sidney Wolfe and his associates at Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. They researched hundreds of prescription drugs and over the counter medicines and found they were not effective for the purpose for which they are advertised. Relentless publicity on such dynamic mass media as the Phil Donahue Show led to the withdrawal of many of these products, likely saving consumers billions of dollars and protecting them from harmful side-effects (see Pills that Don’t Work).

When large companies are fighting regulation their lies become “clear and present dangers” to innocent people. I recall at a technical conference in the early nineteen sixties, a General Motors engineer warned that seatbelts in cars would tear away the inner organs of motorists from their moorings in sudden decelerations as in collisions. For the longest time, lead, asbestos, and a whole host of chemicals were featured as safe, not just necessary. All false.

Someone should write a book about all the prevarications by leading spokespersons of industry and commerce justifying the slavery of the “inferior races,” arguing against the abolition of child labor in dungeon factories, and predicting that legislating social security would bring on communism.

Interestingly, corporations can lie vigorously and not lose credibility. Artificial corporate personhood comes with immunity from social sanctions that apply to real human beings.

In 1972, The People’s Lobby in California, led by the impressive Ed and Joyce Koupal, qualified an initiative called “The Clean Environment Act.” Corporations threw millions of dollars and made false claims to defeat the Act. Their public relations firm, Whitaker and Baxter, put out a fact sheet reaching millions of voters. The oil companies declared that “lowering the lead content of gasoline would cause automobile engines to fail, resulting in massive congestion and transit breakdowns.” They also claimed that “reducing sulfur oxide emissions from diesel fuel would cause the state’s transportation industry to grind to a haul,” with huge joblessness and “economic chaos.”

Other companies said a “moratorium on nuclear power plant construction” would lead to “widespread unemployment and darkened city streets.” Banning DDT in California would “confront the farmer with economic ruin and produce critical shortages of fruits and vegetables” and more lurid hypotheticals.

The lies worked. Voters turned down the initiative by nearly two to one. All these reforms have since been advanced nationwide with no such disasters.

The media did not distinguish itself by separating the lies from the truth. Later in 1988, the media, led by the Los Angeles Times, did not let the auto insurance industry get away with lies about Prop 103, pushed by a $70 million television/radio buy. Prop 103 won and has saved California motorists over $100 billion according to leading actuary and consumer advocate J. Robert Hunter (see here).

Corporate fibbing pays monetary rewards. Informed consumers, their champions and regulatory agencies at the national, state, and local level must continue to make these companies pay a price, especially over social media. Madison Avenue calls the effect of such pushback “reputational risk.”

From Trump Tower to Dictatorial Trump Power over Law

Donald Trump is “dumb as a rock” (to use his phrase) when it comes to the programs and the policies of the federal government agencies over which he is allegedly presiding. However, when it comes to defending and expanding his own political power, Trump is shameless and profoundly cunning.

Trump turns accurate appraisals of himself into accusations that he levies at others. Earlier this month, he questioned whether Joe Biden “is mentally fit to be president.” (Read more here) Trump regularly turns appraisals of himself into accusations against others.

But Trump has found way to spread his toxicity beyond his lying tweets. He has carefully developed formidable barricades to shield himself from the gathering storm regarding his countless impeachable offenses and other serious misbehaviors.

Trump’s remarks, decisions, and asides reveal his plans to stay in office. Trump heaps praise and extra funding on the military. In his travels, Trump likewise incessantly praises the police regardless of the situations there.  Trump has openly said these constituencies are the core foundation against his adversaries that will keep him in office. His White House will keep the military and the police very well endowed.

He also makes sure that big business is happy with him. Some of the bosses are getting anxious about the uncertainty associated with Trump’s use of tariffs and his caustic remarks about leaders of the countries where U.S. companies do business. However, Trump knows that as long as he cuts corporate taxes; deregulates health, safety, and economic requirements on Wall Street; and continues the crony capitalism of subsidies, handouts, and bailouts; the corporate bosses will continue to pay obeisance to Trump.

Manipulating the mass media is child’s play for Trump. He taunts them about how they have to give him top billing because of the profitable ratings his performances brings them. Some in the mass media, nonetheless, expose his wrongdoing with thorough features. Trump, though irritated, ignores these exposés and repels them like water off a duck’s back. It’s all “fake news,” he shouts. His approval polls, though lower than previous presidents, stay firm. So far Trump has faced no real consequences from the revelations of his misdeeds.

The courts, meanwhile, are Donald’s Trump card for endless delays. Who has been sued as president more than Trump? Over two and a half years into his term, litigation against Trump grinds on. Nobody knows how long these court actions will take, what with Trump’s delay tactics and appeals. The top appeal is to the Supreme Court which he believes is 5 to 4 for him on just about everything relating to runaway presidential power and immunities. Trump has appointed 146 judges while in office, including two Supreme Court justices. Trump’s chosen Supreme Court justices are partisan actors who will suit his purposes nicely—it is as if they came from “central casting” for him. Trump has declared unlimited presidential pardon powers, musing that he could even pardon himself.

Labor unions are another big joke to Trump. As they decline, Trump reminds the pro-Democratic Party union leaders that many of their rank and file members voted for him. A troublingly large minority of union workers—over a third— defected to Trump’s camp in 2016, enough to make the union leaders skittish about seriously confronting him.

That leaves the Congress with which he toys. The Republicans are frightened chickens in a coop, peering out at the insatiable Fox. When they look back at their place in history, they’ll have to squint. Sycophants all, except for the late Rep. Walter Jones and Rep. Justin Amash.

As for the Democrats, Trump is blocking subpoenas and orders for witnesses to testify. Trump is also turning down major demands for documents from several House Congressional Committees. Exercising their constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch, the Committee Chairs are filing one law suit after another. Trump laughs and tells his attorneys to keep stonewalling and appealing—which can mean years. That’s how he operated during his sordid failed business career.

Donald Trump, selected by the Electoral College, is daring the Democrats to impeach him. He knows Democrats are divided and can use the Republican dominated Senate as an excuse for inaction. Of course impeachment is a constitutional duty for the House, not a simple political calculation. It is certainly warranted for the most impeachable president in American history.

Trump is thumbing his nose at Democrats daily, blocking oversight, allocating appropriated funds by executive dictate, brazenly freezing enforcement the laws or revoking regulations that protect the health, safety, and economic well-being of the American people, enriching himself through emoluments, and also casting aside the Constitution and the rule of law regarding his military and foreign policy aggressions.

Trump has neutralized our country’s checks and balances and separation of powers, including judicial accountability. He adds to his monarchical presidency by unleashing the Republican Party’s suppression of the vote and other electoral shenanigans.

If the law ever catches up to Trump, he has many toadies who are willing to “wag the dog” distractions. They are his war-hawk on steroids, national security advisor lawless John Bolton and the militaristic Secretary of State Michael Pompeo who travels the world threatening half of it. The new Secretary of Defense, from the Raytheon Corporation, presents no restraint in contrast to his predecessor Jim Mattis, cashiered by Trump.

If Trump wins, America loses. The outcome is up to you in November 2020. Be alert and prepared for tumultuous upheavals should Trump lose by a narrow margin.

They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!

In his 22 years in Congress (1960-1982), Paul Findley achieved a sterling record for fundamental positions, proposals and breakthroughs that revealed a great man, pure and simple. He never stopped learning and applying his knowledge to advance the right course of action, regardless of political party, ideology or pressure from various groups.

Findley, a courteous, kindly, ex-World War II navy veteran passed away earlier this month at the age of 98 in his home town of Jacksonville, Illinois. The District he represented was the one Abraham Lincoln was elected from for his one term in the House of Representatives. Findley was a student of Lincoln’s life, and embraced Lincoln’s view that “a politician should be willing to reject outmoded ways of thinking that no longer fit the times.”

Findley was a thoughtful, studious legislator with a superb sense of justice. He was an early civil rights champion. His opposition to runaway Presidential war-making was reflected in his leading support for the War Powers Act of 1973, though he wanted stronger curbs on the White House’s unilateral militarism.

Having been a journalist and owner of a small-town newspaper – the Pike Press, before going to Congress in 1960, Findley used his writing skills to explain issues regarding agricultural policies, a foreign policy of diplomacy and peace, and nuclear arms controls. He was an outspoken early opponent of the Vietnam War and a critic of the Pentagon’s chronically wasteful spending. He was not a “press-release” legislator, staking out his opinions and leaving it at that. He worked hard and smart to lead, to persuade, to get down to the minute details of coalition-building, lawmaking and legislating.

Back in Jacksonville, after his Congressional career ended in 1982, Findley wrote books and articles and lectured around the country. He courageously defended Americans of the Islamic faith, after 9/11, from bias, exclusion and intimidation. He did his civic duties with local associations. He also started the Lucille Findley Educational Foundation, in memory of his beloved wife – an Army nurse – he met in war-time Guam. They had two children. He always found time to be helpful, to serve others both locally and nationally. He also played tennis daily into his mid-eighties.

Findley possessed more than a streak of mid-west populism. Agricultural subsidies disproportionately going to a few wealthy landowners upset him greatly. He got through the House, after years of rejection, and over the objections of the Republican leadership, a $20,000 yearly limit of such subsidies per farm. The measure failed in the Senate.

Once again, in 1973, he bucked his Party and introduced an impeachment resolution against Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew, who later resigned in disgrace over a bribery scandal.

It was Findley’s interest in U.S. policies and operations in the Middle East, following his 1973 successful effort to obtain the release of a constituent from South Yemen that showed his moral courage, his belief in dialogue between adversaries and his commitment to the treatment of all people with dignity and respect. It also led to his defeat by Democrat Richard J. Durbin, now Illinois’s senior Senator.

Findley learned that the dispossessed and occupied Palestinian people were being treated unfairly and deprived of their human rights and self-determination. He visited refugee camps in the region. He met with Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and he urged peaceful diplomatic resolution of that conflict. For this sensible, though rare outreach by a Congressional lawmaker, he earned the immense enmity of U.S. partisans of the Israeli government. How dare he speak out on behalf of Palestinians, even though, he continued to vote for foreign aid to a prosperous militarily advanced Israeli superpower?

As the New York Times reported: “He became convinced that the influential pro-Israel lobby known as Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had a stranglehold on American politicians that prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state and prevented rational dealings with Arab leaders in general.”

AIPAC activists, nationally and with their local affiliates, openly mobilized to defeat Findley in the 1980 election. They failed to do so. In 1982, they tried again, helping his Democratic opponent, Richard Durbin, to end Findley’s Congressional career by a margin of less than 1500 votes. AIPAC took credit for the win, raising over 80 percent of Durbin’s $750,000 in campaign funds from around the country. AIPAC’s executive director told a gathering in Texas: “We beat the odds and defeated Findley.”

Three years later, in 1985, Findley wrote and published his bold book They Dare to Speak Out, that described his efforts at peaceful advocacy for a two-state solution, which is now supported by many Israelis and Jewish Americans. In his book, he profiled other Americans who dared to speak out, and who endured intimidating slander and ostracism. Findley’s documentation of the suppression of their freedom of speech was an early precursor of what is going on now.

It was acceptable for the early patriots to boycott British tea, for civil rights leaders to boycott certain businesses in the South, for opponents of South Africa’s apartheid to launch a worldwide economic boycott. But some state governments impose sanctions on their contractors if they merely speak out in favor of the call to boycott, divest and sanction Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine and its millions of Palestinians. (Today, Palestine is only twenty two percent the size of the original Palestine).

Findley wrote his autobiography in 2011. But it will take a fuller biography to place this modest lawmaker/public citizen, and wager of peace over unlawful wars and rampant militarism, in the conforming context of his times. His career contrasts with the present big business, Wall Street over Main Street, militaristic GOP and shows that the Republican Party didn’t always demand rigid unanimity.

To his credit, Senator Durbin eulogized Paul Findley, as “An exceptional public servant and friend.” He added that the man he defeated was “an elected official who showed exceptional courage in tackling the age old controversies in the Middle East.”

Senator Durbin could not say this about a single Republican in either the Senate or the House today, nor of over 95 percent of the Democrats.