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Commentary :: Organizing
Ralph Nader: “Americans Need Moral Courage!”
11 Jun 2006
Ralph Nader spoke at a campaign rally, in Baltimore, MD, on behalf of Kevin Zeese, who’s running as an Independent for a U.S. Senate seat. Nader called his former press secretary, “a great candidate.” An activist’s activist, Nader said a vast majority of Americans need a dose of “moral courage.” They have allowed “a few,” to rule over the many. “Democracy,” Nader said, “isn’t a slogan. People need to get motivated, show up and get organized.”
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NaderatUB.jpg
Baltimore, MD - On Saturday afternoon, June 10, 2006, Ralph Nader, a 3rd Party candidate for the presidency in 2004, spoke at a political rally, held in a conference room at the U. of Baltimore’s Langsdale Library. (1) The primary purpose of the affair was to boost the candidacy of Kevin Zeese, who is running as an Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. In 2004, Zeese served as Nader’s press secretary. (2)

Nader’s message emphasized that Americans need a good dose of “moral courage” to take on the corporate controllers of this country. A vast majority of the people need to get over “their own sense of helplessness and powerlessness,” he said. Once they get over that condition, he said, “start feeling sorry for Wall St., Washington, D.C. and the Congress...Moral courage is what is needed to address the problems of our neighborhoods, our community, our city, our state, our country, our world. It is a rare commodity.” He railed against the fact that power in this country is exercised “by the few” over the many. The reason for that, he explained, is that “self-government isn’t just a slogan. People need to be in charge, but in order to do that, they need to show up!”

The longtime champion of citizens’ rights underscored how 46 million people in this country don’t have any health insurance at all and that “18,000 a year die because they can’t afford it.” He lamented the fact that we live in a society that says, “You either pay or you die.” He continued, that 48 million people in the U.S. make “less than $11 an hour” and that because the statistics are manipulated by the government, that, in reality, “half of the population lives in poverty in the richest country in the world.”

An activist’s activist, Nader, has led the way on so many different fronts, he’s hard to categorize. Trained in the law, he has for decades, championed the consumer, and the fragile environment, too, against the perpetual excesses of Corporate America. Nader’s book, “Unsafe at any Speed,” propelled his name into the public’s consciousness. Despite setbacks, he wrote that the essence of a citizen’s movement “is persistence.” Born in Winsted, Connecticut, in 1934, Nader’s parents were Lebanese immigrants. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and with distinction from the Harvard School of Law. From “Public Citizen,” to “Pension Rights Center,” the many organizations, which he has helped to form, and energize, have continue to be in the forefront of the struggle for social and economic justice. (3)

Zeese, who has recently won ringing endorsements for his bid for the U.S. Senate from the state’s growing Green and Libertarian Parties, also spoke. He is strongly anti-Iraqi War and pro-environment, and he also opposes any U.S. attack on Iran. Zeese criticized one of his opponents, Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD), for telling the electorate that he’s for peace in Iraq, while he’s “voting for the war” in the U.S. Congress. Cardin, he added, is also against any “exit strategy.” Zeese was appalled, too, by the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) missile attack yesterday on a beach at the Gaza Strip, which killed 7 innocent Palestinians. He said that our “lopsided” relationship with Israel means that “the U.S. taxpayer is complicit in what is going on there,” and that the Israeli-Palestine question “can’t be ignored any longer. It needs to be debated. It’s the root cause of our own security problems. And, the root cause of terrorism against the U.S.”

Getting back to Nader. He praised the popular “Dixie Chicks,” a country music group, for standing up against those who had abused and boycotted them for criticizing some of the insanities of the Bush administration. (4) He said that they came back with an album that “stood tall and was one of defiance. They made no apologies. In their little hands, they had more courage then 150 members of the U.S. Congress.” Nader also asked this question: “Why do people vote against their own interests? The clear example of that,” he said, “is the people who voted for George W. Bush.” He ripped into President Bush, too, for funding the Missile Defense Program (MDP) to the tune of $9.5 billion a year, while allowing AMTRAK “to crumble.” He labeled the MDP, “a boondoggle, that will never work. It is too easily decoyed.” Because of the huge deficits established by the present regime, Nader called Bush, “a taxer of grandchildren,” since they are the ones who will have to “pay it off,” assuming there is still an economy around for them to do so.

As part of the event, R.B. Jones, a journalist and poet, read three of his anti-Iraqi War poems, which attacked the criminality of the Bush-Cheney Gang. Musical entertainment at the rally was provided by Bilal Salaam, a lively jambe drummer and rapper.

Also speaking at the spirited affair, was the Green Party’s nominee for governor of Maryland, Ed Boyd. (5) He’s a U.S. Navy veteran. Boyd said, “Marylanders are being ‘Enroned’ by the corporations.” One of the main problems confronting the state’s voters is that the local utility, Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE), is planning to hike its rates a staggering 72% in July, 2006. Boyd strongly opposes such a draconian measure. He is also demanding that the incumbent GOP governor, Robert Ehrlich, a Newt Gingrich clone; and one of the Democratic challengers; Baltimore’s Mayor, Marty “Short Fuse” O’Malley; return the huge campaign contributions that they both have received from BGE’s parent company, Constellation Energy (CE). Ehrlich, who also grabbed a $16,000 contribution, in 2002, from the corrupt lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, took in $54,000 from CE; while the hypocritical O’Malley, who piously poses as a foe of Big Business, reined in $45,000. (6)

Summing up the presentation, Nader said: “The big secret in a democracy is that the people have the power. If they would realize it, exercise it, organize it and focus it, with a fraction of the their free time.” If the people want a living wage, universal health care, their public works restored to a decent level, to stop the tax cuts for the rich, to have clean water to drink and clean air to breath, he said, “they need to get involved in the political process...get motivated.” If they don’t, Nader warned, they will get “more criminal wars, fabricated wars...bringing home our dead soldiers, sick soldiers, traumatized soldiers,” while continuing to devastate “more Iraqis...” (7) He continued, that in order to turn the present situation around, “the people need to believe in themselves, believe that they have the power...and then to take action.” He finished up his remarks by calling Zeese, “a great candidate for the U.S. Senate.”

In my opinion, Nader proved again today that he is one of America’s finest sons and an outstanding credit to his Arabic heritage.

Notes:

1. This author proudly notes that he is a graduate of the U. of Baltimore and has an AA Degree (1961) and Juris Doctorate (1964) from that splendid institution. http://www.ubalt.edu/
2. http://kevinzeese.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/
3. http://www.nader.org/shortbio.html
4. http://www.wn.com/p/0f/b41debfadd0a61.html?id=WNAT22d8fcd7115c257835e4a6
5. http://www.baltimoregreens.org/boyd0216.php
6. http://www.thewbalchannel.com/politics/8040026/detail.html
7. Video: R.B. Jones Reading his Anti-Iraqi War Poems, can be found here: http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater203.html

© William Hughes 2006.

William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘’No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at liamhughes (at) comcast.net.

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.
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Rockhead Goes Green!
11 Jun 2006
I'm for this guy. He's as close to a true conservative as we are likely to get. Govrnment is bad. get it? (the health insurance stuff should be administered by local nonprofits user representatives, not the Federal govt.
Re: Nader: AND THE RIGHT WINGERS
11 Jun 2006
Nader solidarizes himself with extreme right in Terri Schiavo case
By Andrea Peters
26 April 2005

Ralph Nader’s intervention in the Terri Schiavo case was significant for what it revealed about the former Green Party and independent presidential candidate’s political trajectory. In a series of public statements concerning the tragic episode, Nader expressed his agreement with the anti-scientific and anti-democratic positions taken by the extreme right, effectively solidarizing himself with this social layer.

He justified his political bloc with the far-right on this question at a meeting in Los Angeles held April 3, making clear that his intervention in the Schiavo case was the result of conscious political calculations. When asked by this reporter to explain his position on the case he stated, “We have to stop thinking in terms of left and right.” He continued, “Right now we are seeing a number of areas where conservatives and liberals are coming together.”

Throughout his intervention in the Schiavo case, Nader based himself on many of the same irrationalist claims that were being made by various Christian fundamentalist groups. On March 24, at the height of the turmoil surrounding the misguided efforts of Schiavo’s parents to prevent the court-ordered removal of the feeding tube that had been sustaining their daughter’s life for the previous 15 years, Nader published a statement asserting that Schiavo’s persistent vegetative state was merely a form of physical disability. Charging the courts with imposing “death by dehydration,” he insisted that the rights of the unconscious woman were being abrogated by the judicial process.

The press release, published jointly with conservative commentator Wesley Smith, a regular contributor to such right-wing publications as the Weekly Standard and the National Review, described Schiavo as an “innocent disabled woman.” In this fashion, Nader sought to ingratiate himself with far-right groupings claiming to constitute a section of the disability rights movement.

“The medical and rehabilitation experts are split on whether Terri is in a persistent vegetative state or whether Terri can be improved with therapy. There is only one way to know for sure—permit therapy,” wrote Nader and Smith.

In order to make this claim, which was thoroughly dishonest, Nader relied on the medical testimony of doctors with ties to right-wing Christian fundamentalist groups who were recruited by Terri Schiavo’s fundamentalist Catholic parents. Throughout the legal battle, independent experts repeatedly refuted these assessments, explaining that Schiavo’s permanent vegetative state had ended her conscious existence. On that basis, the courts rejected the position that there was any possibility of recovery.

The unprincipled character of Nader’s position on the Schiavo case went beyond simply repeating the ignorant and religiously-inspired claims of the far-right about the woman’s physical condition. Portraying himself as a defender of the interests of the woman against the supposed indifference of the judiciary, Nader falsely claimed that the Schiavo case never got its full day in court.

“The court is imposing process over justice,” wrote Nader and Smith. “After the first trial in this case, much evidence has been produced that should allow for a new trial—which was the point of the hasty federal legislation. If this were a death penalty case, this evidence would demand reconsideration. Yet, an innocent disabled woman is receiving less justice.”

In addition to the fact that the authors of the statement never explain what evidence they are referring to that should have been the basis for a new trial, the claim that the concerns of Schiavo’s parents were never given a full hearing in the courts is absurd. The Schiavo case was the most extensively litigated “right-to-die” case in US history.

Thus, under the cover of advocating for the rights of a defenseless person, Nader formed a bloc with the far-right in its attacks on the judiciary, attempting to provide the whole affair a liberal and progressive hue.

Furthermore, as the above statement demonstrates, Nader attempted to lend a veneer of moral legitimacy to Congress’ anti-democratic efforts. He implied that the ‘spirit’—if not the method—of the effort to override the constitutional separation of powers through the enactment of legislation forcing the federal courts to review the Schiavo case was entirely appropriate.

In a further endorsement of the campaign waged by the Christian fundamentalists, Nader joined in the attack on Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband. In an article entitled “The Many Layers of the Terry [sic] Schiavo Controversy” published on CommonDreams.org, Nader suggested that Michael Schiavo wished to end his wife’s life by artificial means for reasons of personal expediency and financial gain. (The very fact that Nader carelessly misspelled Terri Schiavo’s name discredits his effort to portray his intervention as having been motivated by compassionate concern for the plight of the unfortunate woman).

Nader wrote: “Michael Schiavo has decided, somewhat after the medical malpractice case was settled, that Terri would not want to live under such conditions. So he has made the decision to let her expire and the circuit courts and appellate courts have approved. He has been for nearly ten years in a common law marriage with a woman who has given birth to their two children. He wants to get on with his life, after years of pressure and anguish.”

While using language meant to indicate a degree of sympathy for Michael Schiavo’s position, Nader’s statement completely distorted the truth. What the legal process established, on the basis of the testimony of several witnesses, was that Terri Schiavo herself had said, prior to the seizure that left her in a vegetative state, that she would not want to be artificially kept alive if she ever ended up in such a condition. Nader’s insinuation that Michael Schiavo came to this conclusion on his own, and that he did so only after concluding that the extension of his wife’s life was personally inconvenient, was not only false, it dovetailed with the slanderous attacks on Michael Schiavo’s character issued by far-right groups and their Republican allies.

Furthermore, as the results of an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families demonstrated (See: “State investigation clears Michael Schiavo of all abuse charges,” April 20, 2005), Michael Schiavo conducted himself with the utmost compassion towards his wife over the last 15 years.

At the Los Angeles meeting April 3, organized to discuss the Iraq war, Nader reiterated his view that Schiavo’s predicament was a disability rights case, refused to acknowledge the significance of the ‘permanent vegetative state,’ and insisted that her husband was driven by “divided loyalties.” Asked by this reporter why he had not raised any objections to the threat to democratic institutions embodied in Congress’ intervention in the case, Nader said, “Well, they shouldn’t have done it that way,” but maintained that this was not a major issue.

Nader’s complete indifference to the attack on democratic rights spearheaded by the Republican right and its fascistic allies is not a new phenomenon. On numerous occasions he has not only demonstrated an unwillingness to defend democratic procedures from the machinations of these reactionary forces, but has made clear his desire to work with them politically.

Nader supported the attempted coup d’état by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and Congressional Republicans against Bill Clinton in 1998-99, stating in the aftermath of Clinton’s impeachment and Senate trial that had he been in Congress, he would have voted to oust Clinton from office.

In 2000, as part of his presidential campaign on the Green Party ticket, Nader explicitly appealed for support from backers of the right-wing populist Patrick Buchanan on the basis of economic nationalism and American chauvinism. He remained silent about the theft of the 2000 election by the Republican Party and its allies on the US Supreme Court, despite the fact that he had won tens of thousands of votes in the contested state of Florida.

Nader’s alliance with the Christian fundamentalist base of the Republican Party in the Schiavo case is an expression of the overall decline and decay of American liberalism. His stance was shared by a significant section of leading so-called liberals in the US, such as Jesse Jackson, who campaigned on behalf of Schiavo’s parents, and others in the former Clinton-Gore entourage (including attorneys Lanny Davis and David Boies).

The leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress was complicit in the passage of legislation forcing a review of the Schiavo case in the federal courts, and some prominent figures, such as Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, openly endorsed the measure. Like the Democrats, Nader has responded to the reelection of Bush and the general deepening of the social and economic crisis in the US with a demoralized effort to ingratiate himself with the most reactionary political elements.
Re: Ralph Nader: “Americans Need Moral Courage!”
11 Jun 2006
While Nader is not an open racist, he flirts with right-wing forces because he shares with them reactionary positions on immigration, economic nationalism and more.

This comes through clearly in an interview with Pat Buchanan that made the front page of the latter’s “American Conservative” magazine (June 21, 04). In the article appropriately entitled “Ralph Nader: Conservatively Speaking -- The long-time progressive makes a pitch for the disenfranchised Right,” Buchanan asked Nader if he supports the proposal to offer amnesty to “illegals who have been in the country for five years and who have shown that they have jobs and can support themselves.” Nader responded:

This is very difficult because you are giving a green light to cross the border illegally. I don’t like the idea of legalization because then the question is how do you stop the next wave and the next?

This is trademark national chauvinism, and nothing new for Nader


But Nader is indifferent to the fate of the international working class. He goes so far as to criticize the AFL-CIO for changing its position on amnesty for illegal immigrants. He chastises the labor leadership for looking to organize illegal immigrants instead of fighting against amnesty, which he describes as a “wage-depressing” immigration policy. His chat with Buchanan is fully in keeping with the position he announced four years ago: immigrant workers would be allowed into the U.S. only for “a short period of time,” high-tech workers would be barred, and immigrants would be allowed in only to perform work “that Americans don’t want to do.” (Fresno Bee, Oct. 22, 2000.)

After equivocating for months, in mid-summer the International Socialist Organization (ISO) finally endorsed the “independent” presidential campaign of Ralph Nader. Although the ISO had supported Nader in 2000, this year they held back until the last minute (although some ISOers had joined the Nader camp earlier). For one thing, they had hoped to recruit from among the “Anybody but Bush” pro-Democratic Party milieu -- making clear that people who planned on voting for Kerry could still join the ISO. For another, as their own press pointed out, Nader’s courting of right-wing support, including his nomination as the presidential candidate of the Reform Party, made it difficult to endorse him, even for a group that had already crossed the class line by backing this capitalist candidate in 2000.

But after Kerry made his blatant right turn after securing the Democratic nomination for President and after Nader had selected as his running mate Peter Camejo (a Green Party leader and “socially conscious” capitalist stockbroker), the ISO saw its opportunity. Denouncing the “Anybody but Bush” forces’ lesser-evilism, they jumped aboard the Nader bandwagon. Four years ago Nader had drawn crowds of thousands while this year it is only hundreds. But the ISO can now supply a significant fraction of Nader’s electoral machine. It is a big fish in a small pond

http://www.lrp-cofi.org/PR/naderPR72.html
Nader Flirts With The Righties? No Way.
12 Jun 2006
The rightwingers loathe Mr. Nader. Remember Nader taking on GM and winning? So many other Corporate scum got their "just dues" from Nader.
Ralph is for the poor and middle class. Anyone who thinks otherwise? Hasn't followed Nader.
Re: Ralph Nader: “Americans Need Moral Courage!”
13 Jun 2006
Nader Capitulates on Abortion Rights

In a friendly interview with Right Winger Patrick Buchanan, when Buchanan asked his position on “partial-birth abortion,” Nader answered in the following dialogue:

Nader: I believe in choice. I don’t think government should tell women to have children or not to have children. I am also against feticide. If doctors think it is a fetus, that should be banned. It is a medical decision.
Buchanan: Between the woman and her doctor --

Nader: And whoever else, family, clergy.

First of all, as defenders of legal abortion know, the Partial-Birth Abortion Act signed by Bush in 2003 was a tactical move led by forces who want to criminalize abortion but understand that this must be done in stages. (Hence the overt emphasis on banning a particular late-term abortion procedure, not all abortions involving fetuses, as Nader would seem to have it.) For this very reason, there is a growing battle to overturn this Act, which will likely end up at the Supreme Court. There are many Democrats who go along with the general rollback of legal abortion rights, but even they make a point of calling for exceptions when the life of the woman is at risk. Nader is so quick to capitulate that he doesn’t even bother with such “details.” Secondly, by bringing in “whoever else, family, clergy,” Nader also capitulates to the right-wing demand for parental notification laws and other restrictions on a woman’s right to abortion. The liberal demand for “choice” ignores the limited choices available to working-class and poor women under capitalism. But for Nader, “choice” does not even mean that the woman makes the decision on an abortion herself.

The attitude of this “progressive” meshes with the contempt he expressed in his 1996 campaign, when he dismissed struggles for women’s and gay rights as “gonadal politics.”