Ralph Nader Radio Hour

When I was 14 years old, I heard Ralph Nader say that box cereal was less nutritious than the box it came in, and you'd get more nutrition out of tearing up the box and pouring sugar and milk over it, and eating that for breakfast. That's the kind of genius that Ralph Nader produces constantly, and why his ideas changed the world for Americans more than perhaps any political thinker of the late 20th century. He remains more relevant than virtually every other political thinker currently on the scene.

Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:57 am

Part 2: Transcript [In 3 Parts]

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 195: The Difference Between Liberal and Progressive
December 9, 2017

Ralph and Washington Post columnist, E.J. Dionne debate the distinction between “Progressive” and “Liberal,” and Original Nader’s Raider, Robert Fellmeth tells us why he thinks speech on the Internet should not be anonymous.

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E. J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column in the Washington Post and on the Post Partisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in governance Studies at the Brookings Institution (https://www.brookings.edu/), a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent guest on NPR, ABC’s This Week and MSNBC. He is the author of seven books, the latest of which is “One Nation Under Trump: A Guide For the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not Yet Deported.”

“I don’t see the same sharp distinctions between the center/left and the left right now in the U.S. or – as you put it – between liberals and progressives. For example, take the issue of universal healthcare. Some of my progressive friends say that only single-payer is the way to go. I have nothing against single-payer. It’s a system that works in many countries. I also think that universal coverage that would essentially treat the health system as a public utility, which is kind of what you do in Germany or the Netherlands – that that would work as well. I think we should have a healthy argument about what’s going to work better, not some argument that says only single-payer is the way to achieve universal coverage.” E.J. Dionne

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Transcript
[Transcribed by Tara Carreon]

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] Let me ask you this question: When you look at the Washington media these days, they often like on the Sunday talk shows, and Judy Woodruff, they often want to have both sides represented, so they have a conservative and they have a liberal. And I’ve often wondered why they don’t have progressives. And let’s see if you share my distinctions. What do you see as the distinctive characteristics between people who call themselves “liberals,” “Clinton liberals,” for example, and people who call themselves “progressives,” who might have voted for Bernie Sanders or like former Congressman Dennis Kucinich [Note: or third party green candidate?]. What do you think the distinction is? And I think this is important, because I think the progressive side is getting bigger and bigger in polls and numbers on many issues, but they are not getting access to the media.

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] Well, first of all, I just want to shout out Judy Woodruff as a journalist, she’s actually one of the best. I’m a big fan of hers. So much of this depends on how you define a liberal and how do you define a progressive. There was a while where “liberal” had become such a demonized word that a lot of liberals just took the label “progressive”. I used to say that a “progressive” was a “liberal” who has looked at the polls. And historically, I don’t see as big a distinction as you do between the words “liberal” and “progressive.” If you look at our history, people broadly on the left and center-left called themselves “progressive” until the New Deal Roosevelt really grabbed the title of “liberal” which used to be a kind of pro-market conservative word. And Roosevelt transformed its meaning.

Here, we may have some disagreements because I don’t see the same sharp distinctions between the center-left and the left right now in the U.S., or as you would put it, between liberals and progressives.

For example, take the issue of universal health care. Some of my progressive friends say that only single payer is the way to go. I have nothing against single-payer. It’s a system that works in many countries. I also think that universal coverage that would essentially treat the health system as a public utility, which is kind of what you do in Germany or the Netherlands, that that would work as well. I think that we should have a healthy argument about what’s going to work better, not some argument that says “only single-payer is a way to achieve universal coverage.”

In terms of the media, I’d like to see more voices across the spectrum. I think for a long time the conservatives complained so much and so often about the supposedly “liberal media,” that some of those discussions really did get tilted to the right in the kind of balance, or false balance that they had. So I’m sympathetic and happy that you complain, because I do think we need a broader sense of the discussion. What I wrote at the time was that Bernie Sanders’ campaign did give us a much clearer sense of where the left side of the political spectrum actually was. I used to joke when President Obama was called a “socialist,” by conservatives that I actually knew some socialists and they were insulted when President Obama was called a “socialist,” because he was no socialist. So I am with you with wanting to expand the number of voices in the public media, but as I say, I think the left and center-left have more in common than perhaps you do.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] I think, in a sense, as the word “liberal” becomes tarnished, a lot of liberals are now calling themselves “progressive,” including, by the way, Hillary Clinton when she was nominated on the Democratic ticket, she called herself “progressive.” Here’s what I think the distinctions are, E.J.: I think progressives are more worried about the military-industrial complex, the militarization of foreign policy, the spread of empire, the constant violation of international laws through armed intrusions into international sovereignties, drones, special forces, bases all over, whereas I think liberals tend to support the Pentagon budget, and don’t challenge it very much. Indeed, it’s not even auditable. The General Accounting Office, now called Government Accountability Office in Congress, every year says that the Pentagon has not provided auditable information to be audited, which means the Pentagon is violating a 1992 federal law requiring auditable data. And all other government agencies, too. And that’s not even an issue for liberals.

Domestically, E.J., I think progressives are much more concerned about corporate crime: Wall Street Crime, Oil Company crime, commercial crime, Wells-Fargo-type crime, credit-type-pay-day-loan-rackets than liberals are. And I think, also, they want more coverage of things like this: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine had a report over a year ago that at least 250,000 Americans die every year from preventable problems in hospitals: malpractice, hospital –induced infections, etc. That’s 5,000 a week, and that was a one-day story in the so-called “liberal” New York Times and Washington Post.

I think they are also concerned about the media black-out. We had the greatest conference with more civic leaders and more civic thinkers on progressive issues and more redirections and reforms, 8 days at Constitutional Hall last year, a “Breaking Through Power” conference, and it was completely blacked-out. There were 162 speakers, many of them you know, real leaders, real accomplished people, and they were blacked out by NPR, PBS, I had a long talk with Judy Woodruff, she wouldn’t have any of them on, great human interest stories, great historic achievements and they were blacked-out by the mass media, of course. So they are very much concerned about the corporate domination and the concentration of the media. And above all, they are concerned about our commercial culture eroding our civic culture, and subordinating our civic culture and civic activity, and civic remedies to the supremacy of the corporatists. Do you find that a useful series of distinctions?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] [Laughs] HOW TO RESPOND TO ALL OF THAT!? Let me just pick a couple of points out that you mention. I think there has been a long argument again, across the left and center-left, over what their attitude is toward America’s role in the world, toward American intervention, toward what the size of the Pentagon budget should be. Again, I just want to challenge this premise of “Progressive vs. Liberal.” I think there are people who are legitimately called “progressive,” who were in favor of the war, and a substantial American role, and people who called themselves “liberals” who were more skeptical. So I’m not sure I buy the distinction on that issue. But yeah, there’s a real argument over what America’s role in the world should be. I think on the issue of corporate power, who passed all of the kinds of bills that you were for back in the 1960s to create the various agencies that protect consumers and regulate business? Most of those people called themselves “liberals.” But they were very much concerned with the power in the American economy, and they were concerned with putting limits on what corporations could do, and saying that there were limits on how much they could pollute; there were limits on how they could treat or mis-treat workers; there were limits on what they could get away with selling in the marketplace that was defective. I think that’s something that unites “liberals” and “progressives,” or “liberals” and “social democrats.” AND I THINK THAT SINCE THE GREAT RECESSION IN 2007 AND 2008, I THINK THERE’S BEEN A LOT MORE ATTENTION AMONG LIBERALS, AND THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN EARLIER, TO THE WAYS IN WHICH OUR ECONOMY WAS NOT ONLY TILTED MORE AND MORE TOWARD THE VERY PRIVILEGED BUT ALSO HAD BEEN ALLOWED TO RUN FREE IN A WAY THAT PROVED VERY DESTRUCTIVE TO THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE, AND PARTICULARLY TO THE LEAST WELL-OFF PEOPLE IN IT.

And in terms of the media black-out, I think you are complaining about the coverage of a particular conference – I get lots of complaints about coverage of all sorts of things, and so I don’t really know enough about all of that to comment. But I can see that you were very upset about the lack of attention your conference got.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] Yeah, since it was the biggest one ever in American history on more redirections and reforms. We tried to not be a single-issue gathering. But I’ve also found progressive are more likely to speak out on behalf of unions; they’re more likely to look at structural changes that will change the level of systemic poverty in the country. You’re right that in the 1960s they all called themselves “liberals,” and we got all of these bills through. BUT SINCE THEN WE’VE SEEN THE EMERGENCE OF THE CORPORATE DEMOCRAT. WE’VE SEEN THE EMERGENCE OF CORPORATE LIBERALS. And the reason that I’m dwelling on this, E.J., and the listeners might be wondering, is because I want to segue into a book that you wrote in 1996 which is titled provocatively, “They only look dead. Why progressives will dominate the next political era.” And in a review of your book by Michael Lind, he said that you argue quite plausibly “that the new conservatism will fail because it seeks to define away the problems we face. Yet, E.J. Dionne’s vision of a new progressivism ignores some practical steps such as a move away from identity politics that must presage such change.” Well, I think you’ll agree that you were excessively optimistic here, E.J., that if anything, the right-wing now controls the Congress, the White House, a majority of governors, a majority of state legislators, and the question emerges, “What’s left of the left?” What happened to your progressive prediction that they are going to rise and be the prevailing theme of American politics after 1996?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] I always like to say that progressives will have won when people stop chuckling over the title of my book. I actually think that if you look at the trajectory of politics from 1996 to now, we have actually had ups and downs in that period, and we are definitely at a down point. AND JUST PARENTHETICALLY, ONE OF THE REASONS I AM NOT SYMPATHETIC TO DRIVING THIS HARD WEDGE BETWEEN LIBERALS AND PROGRESSIVES, OR CENTER-LEFT AND LEFT, IS BECAUSE I THINK THERE ARE THREATS, BOTH TO DEMOCRACY ITSELF, TO BASIC EQUALITY IN THE COUNTRY, TO SOCIAL JUSTICE, THAT THE LEFT AND CENTER-LEFT NEED TO UNITE TO TAKE ON RIGHT NOW. But the theory of the book I still will stand by, and I suspect it’s a theory that you will actually agree with, which is I compared our time then to the time that led to the rise of the progressive era. And what they have in common is a sharp change in the way the nation organized itself. Back then people were moving from farm to factory. We had high levels of immigration. The rules of the old economy were changing, but the rules of government had not responded to those changes. And the people who were dislocated by those changes, people who felt their power had been reduced in the new factory-oriented economy, organized in a variety of ways, and you got not only the progressive era, but also the New Deal, which really did try to reorder American democracy to deal with a very different economic circumstance. I think we are in a very similar period now where you have a shift from a manufacturing that employs a lot of American workers to something more of a service economy. And you have the rise of the same inequalities. It’s probably a statistic you’ve quoted often that WE HAVE A DEGREE OF INEQUALITY NOW THAT WE HAVEN’T SEEN SINCE RIGHT BEFORE THE GREAT DEPRESSION. AND SO I STILL THINK THE LOGIC OF THE SITUATION LEADS TO A NEW ENGAGEMENT WITH PROGRESSIVISM IN THE UNITED STATES.

Now there have been severe setback. I think cultural issues have divided us, and that’s part of it. And here again I think that we are in a similar if not identical place: I think a lot of working people looked at those moments of progressive government that we had over the last 20 years and said, “Even though those guys – democrats, liberals, and I would say progressives, too – were in power, these inequalities were not really arrested.” And one of the points we make in our new book in response to Trump is that we’re in the soup because there are so many parts of the country, both in the inner city and in old working class towns like you and I grew up in, where people sense this economy is not working for them. They have traded $20 and $30 per hour jobs for $10 an hour jobs. And so there is something for progressives to respond to. So there is a critique for the side I tend to support, which is that we haven’t delivered enough to the constituencies we claim to represent. And I think that’s the challenge of the next decade.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:58 am

Part 2 of 3

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] Well, in Michael Lind’s review of your book, he says, referring to you, E.J., “he does warn if they falter” – meaning, the democrats – “if they falter and do not usher in a new progressive period, the call for third and fourth parties will grow as the country seeks alternatives to republican policies premised on the idea that governments can almost never do good.” So what do you think happened to these third and fourth parties on both sides, third party conservative, libertarian, green, etc. Do you think the two party duopoly and the rigged ballot access rules and the winner-take-all, and the Gerry-mandering, and the electoral college, what do you think that’s done? And do you still favor a broader array of voices and choices on the ballot for the voter, with third and fourth party agendas?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] THIRD AND FOURTH PARTIES DON’T WORK IN A SYSTEM LIKE OURS BECAUSE OF FIRST-PAST-THE-POST, SO THAT IF PEOPLE VOTE FOR THEIR FIRST CHOICE, THEY OFTEN TAKE VOTES AWAY FROM THEIR SECOND CHOICE, AND THEY GET THEIR LAST CHOICE. And I think that happened to a lot of people in the last election. I am for a system of single transferable vote where you can vote your first choice, but if your first choice doesn’t get enough votes to be able to form a majority, your ballot transfers to your second choice. And I think that is a political reform that answers this problem. And in the meantime, and you and I have been through this a lot about your candidacy back in 2000, where you were very kind and gave me an interview for a piece in which I was arguing that you shouldn’t be running for president. And I thought it was very good of you to give me an interview knowing that I was writing such a piece. And I felt that way because given the configuration of the system, AND WE DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH WHETHER YOUR ELECTION DID OR DID NOT HELP ELECT GEORGE BUSH, BUT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, A LOT OF YOUR VOTES CAME OUT OF AL GORE’S HIDE, AND IT CREATED A PROBLEM. A Single-transferable vote or some other system of that sort gets around that problem, and so your own supporters could have redistributed their ballots as they saw fit.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] Well, I don’t want to go through that again, except that Al Gore thinks he lost because, No. 1, he won the popular vote and lost the electoral college which threw it into Florida where all the shenanigans took it away from him, from Tallahassee all the way to the political decision at the Supreme Court. And the Green Party should not be blamed for all of that. You give them delusions of grandeur, E.J.

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] I think there is a mathematical case to be made that, take New Hampshire. If New Hampshire had gone the other way, we wouldn’t have got to Florida. So I really do think there is a problem with third party voting as long as it’s a first-past-the-post election. There are multiple systems. The point is a system that allows people to express second and third preferences, they use it in Australia and it works just fine.

Bush Stole the 2000 Election -- and Is Ready to Do It Again

While Democratic partisans argue that Nader cost Gore the election, this is untrue for a variety of reasons, as most campaign experts know.

One, most progressives know that the election was stolen by Bush. Gore won the nationwide popular vote; he also won the Florida and electoral college vote. The U.S. Supreme Court gave away the election. The Democratic Party and the Gore campaign did little to prevent the theft of the election, starting with their failure to aggressively challenge the illegal disenfranchisement of African-American voters in Florida or even to demand that every vote be counted.

Nor have the Democrats made it a major priority to demand election reform since the election, starting with the failure to adopt fairer electoral systems such as preferential voting, or to address the problems with the electoral college. The proposals that have been adopted through the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) have increased the likelihood that the election will be stolen again through manipulation of computerized voting results and disenfranchisement of many new voters through improper enforcement of ID requirements, but the national Democratic Party has been largely silent on these issues.

Second, the Nader and Green electoral efforts in 2000 helped the Democrats more than it hurt them. Polls show that more than a million people voted just because Nader was on the ballot. Many of these voters also cast votes for Democratic candidates for other offices, and helped provide the margin of victory in at least two U.S. Senate races, allowing the Democrats to reclaim control of the U.S. Senate. Without Nader on the ballot in 2002, the Democrats promptly lost control. In addition, whenever Gore responded to the Nader candidacy by articulating a more progressive, grassroots agenda, his standing in the polls went up. Whenever he tried to sound more like a Republican to attract the center-right votes, his standing went down.

For the record, polls showed that if Nader had not been in the race, of the three million Americans who cast votes for him, 25 percent would have voted for Bush, 38 percent for Gore, and 37 percent would not have voted. The net gain from Nader voters for Gore would have been 13 percent (38 percent minus 25 percent), not 100 percent. However, the Democrats have decided to throw away this 13 percent net gain by failing to embrace preferential or IRV voting.

***

The lesser-evil strategy of Anybody But Bush rendered progressive movements demoralized after the election. Not only did they fail to beat Bush, but the self-censorship involved in supporting the pro-war corporate Kerry campaign silenced the voice of the peace and other progressive movements. The professional liberals are blaming the supposedly conservative values of Americans, the tactical mistakes of the Kerry campaign, the sycophancy of the corporate media, everything but their own surrender to the politics of the lesser evil. The more upbeat post-election assessments try to highlight a new progressive institutional infrastructure to support the Democrats, including America Votes, Progressive Majority, Camp Wellstone, Democracy for America, Center for American Progress, Air America Radio, Media Matters, MoveOn.org, and Progressive Democrats of America, groups that are bankrolled in large part by liberal capitalists like currency speculator George Soros, insurance magnate Peter Lewis, and bankers Herb and Marian Sandler, who collectively have pledged to put $100 million into this infrastructure over the next 15 years. [60] But these assessments probably say more about career opportunities for professional liberals than the real prospects for any antiwar, anti-corporate insurgency inside the Democratic Party.

In their rank-and-file majority, Democratic voters were against the war in Iraq and for domestic policies that would benefit working people. But in a case of lesser evilism run amok, Democratic progressives defeated themselves by voting for pro-war corporate Kerry as the "electable" candidate in the primaries, leaving the antiwar candidacies of Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton with a combined total of barely 1 percent of the Democratic National Convention's delegates. Kucinich kept his campaign going up until the convention on the promise that he would fight there for antiwar and other progressive platform planks. But then, finding that he could not even muster the 20 percent support required for a platform committee minority report to force a vote of the whole convention on his alternative planks, Kucinich withdrew those proposals at the Democratic Platform Committee meeting. He could have at least made the committee members go on record as to where they stood on his progressive planks by calling for a vote on his proposals. But he instructed his people on the committee to drop his platform amendments without calling for a vote. That was how the progressive remnant of the Democratic Party went down to a crushing defeat and gave up without a fight in 2004. [61]

Not only were the movements dispirited, they were also confused by the defensive campaign around Kerry as the lesser evil. They were unable to recognize serious harms when advanced by the "lesser evil" and consequently they were inert as the congressional Democrats' pushed through the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 in December. Seeking to bolster their credentials as "National Security Democrats" and one-up the Republicans' anti-terrorism warriors, the Democrats goaded a bloc of reluctant moderate Republicans into passing the bill despite their concerns about its further erosion of civil liberties and its concentration of the intelligence apparatus in the hands of the Pentagon. While the creation of the intelligence czar captured the headlines, the small print in the bill enacted key elements of Bush's proposed Patriot Act II, including steps toward a national ID card with federal standardization of state drivers' licenses and ID cards, expanded FBI powers to conduct secret searches and surveillance, detention without bail for accused terrorists indicted by grand juries, and sharing secret grand-jury information with foreign and domestic law enforcement agencies.

When the new session of Congress convened in 2005, Democrats provided comfortable margins of victory for a string of Republican initiatives: a bankruptcy bill that virtually restores debt peonage; a tort reform bill that closes the state courts to many class-action suits against corporate crimes; and an anti-conservation, pronuclear energy bill. When Bush asked in March for authorization to spend $82 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Senate approved it 99-0, and only thirty-four Democrats in the House, less than 20 percent of the Democratic caucus, voted against further funding of the occupations.

***

That a Green campaign might "spoil" the Democrats' chances is exactly what compels attention to the Green alternative. ... Spoiling the Democrats is not our goal. Our goal is to advance our program.

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Blaming Nader absolved the Republicans of their suppression of the Black vote in Florida, the Democrats of their refusal to challenge it, and the U.S. Supreme Court of their selection of Bush, where the majority opinion stated that "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote" in presidential elections. [30] Blaming Nader excused the electoral college system that denied victory to Gore, who won the national popular vote. Blaming Nader perpetuated the corporate media's suppression of their own comprehensive ballot recount finding that Gore actually won the Florida vote. [31] If one accepts that Nader cost Gore two states (New Hampshire and Florida), then one must also acknowledge that Buchanan cost Bush in four states (Oregon, Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Mexico) and that Buchanan cost Gore Florida due to the deceptive butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County. One can cite dozens of conditions necessary for Bush to prevail over Gore. Singling out Nader was more about stopping Nader and the Greens than explaining what really happened in 2000. [32]

***

A June 2004 Gallup poll found that "With Nader thrown in, Kerry's percentage among Black voters declined from 81 percent to 73 percent. Nader drew 10 percent of Black voters, dropping Bush to only 9 percent. Among Latino voters in a three-way race, Kerry's support fell from 57 percent to 52 percent, while Bush's fell from 38 percent to 35 percent. Nader was the choice of 8 percent of Latino voters." "Poll: Kerry Leads Among Minority Voters," CNN.com July 7, 2004, http://edition.cnn.com/ 2004/ALLPOLlTICS/07/06/gallup.poll/. After Nader did not receive the Green Party's support at the end of June, his numbers among all groups fell considerably. But election day exit polls showed that the proportion of Nader's voters that were non-white was 48 percent (5 percent Black, 36 percent Latino, and 7 percent other non-white), far higher than for Kerry (34 percent) and Bush (12 percent). Exit polls also showed more union households in Nader's base (33 percent) compared to Kerry's (30 percent) and Bush's (18 percent). Considering all the liberal hand-wringing over what the "moral issues" vote meant in 2004, it is worth noting that more voters who identified moral issues as why they voted for their candidate were in Nader's voter base (57 percent) than Kerry's (8 percent) or Bush's (35 percent). See the exit poll conducted by Edison/Mitofsky for the National Election Pool (ABC, AP, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC), http://election.cbsnews.com/election2004/poll/poll_p __ u_s_aII_us0.shtml.

***

Ralph Nader, the iconic progressive who had been prominent on the national stage for forty years, had a resume with accomplishments and qualifications that dwarfed those of Kerry and Bush. Nader had been instrumental in the passage of more significant legislation than Kerry and Bush combined, perhaps more progressive federal legislation than all the current members of Congress combined, including the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Wholesome Meat Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Community Reinvestment Act, and the acts creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the National Cooperative Bank. To help advance the progressive reform agenda, Nader pioneered the concept of citizen action groups with lobbying and litigation capacities. He instigated scores of such groups to deal with consumer rights, energy and environmental issues, union democracy, investigative reporting, corporate crime, women's rights, racial discrimination, poverty, fair trade and corporate welfare, and to monitor the legislatures and government agencies. He had been arguably the most preferred candidate in the 2000 presidential election and might have won the election had it been conducted under a majority preference system instead of the electoral college plurality system. [3]

Camejo had just come off of two runs for California governor -- in 2002 and 2003 -- in which he received by far the most votes any Green gubernatorial candidate had received to date: nearly 400,000 votes, or 5.3 percent, in 2002, and nearly 250,000 votes, or 3 percent, in the 2003 recall election. Exit polls showed that his base of voters was disproportionately Black, Latino, and Asian-Pacific, as well as voters who had previously voted for Greens in lower proportions than other voters. People of color voted for Camejo at twice the rate white people did. Voters who earned less than $15,000 a year voted for Camejo at three times the rate voters making over $75,000 a year did. [4]

Nader and Camejo offered policies -- from ending the U.S. war in Iraq to creating a national health insurance program to spearheading public works projects to create millions of new jobs -- that had broad support among the people. Nader's 2000 campaign had demonstrated his capacity to raise funds and command media attention at the level needed to run a national presidential campaign with a significant impact on U.S. politics.

Since 2000, the Democrats had kept Nader in the national spotlight, keeping his media profile high with their constant whining about Nader's "spoiling" the 2000 election. Nader took most of the heat for the Green Party on this issue. His unbending defense of the Greens' right to run candidates should have earned him the Greens' lasting respect and laid the foundation for another united Nader/Green assault on the corporate-sponsored two-party system. But when delegates at the Green convention chose a "safe states" candidate over Nader, they implicitly affirmed the Democratic hacks' smear campaign against him. For the hacks, this was merely a convenient proxy for Greens or any other independent challenge to the Democrats from their left.

By the time Nader formally declared his candidacy on February 23, 2004, nearly every section of institutionalized progressivism had joined in the Democrats' vitriolic attacks against him. They said his campaign was driven by his ego, as if issues like ending the war and reversing the spread of economic insecurity were irrelevant. They said Nader was throwing away his progressive legacy by increasing Bush's chances for reelection. History may conclude in the end, however, that Nader's insistence on building an independent political alternative to the bipartisan consensus around militarism and corporate domination was a principled and logical extension of his career as a progressive reformer.

***

The spoiler argument against a Green run for president is garbage. The Democrats spoiled the election by, first of all, offering a phony alternative to the Republicans. And then the Democrats spoiled their own election by not fighting for what they had won in Florida. Contrary to the "Nader elected Bush" refrain of the Anybody- But-Bush Democrats, Nader probably helped Gore beat Bush in the popular vote. Analysts as different as Alexander Cockburn on the left and Al From, chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, on the Democratic right, note that exit polling data show that Gore did better with Nader in the race than he would have without Nader. While From uses this data to preposterously counsel Democrats to ignore their left and run to the right, Cockburn's explanation is obviously more persuasive: Nader's campaign forced Gore to articulate some populist, anti-corporate themes that brought many disillusioned Democrats back into the fold. Without Nader in the race, these Democrats would not have voted, and many of Nader's voters would not have voted either.

***

Corporate Rule through the Two-Party System

Since the Civil War, the moneyed class in the United States has organized its wealth into large corporations and controlled the government through its sponsorship of the two-party system. The corporate rulers finance two parties -- the Democrats and the Republicans -- to represent them. That way the corporate ruling class always has its people in power on both sides of the aisle in the legislatures and in the executive branch.

By financing two parties, the corporate powers give the illusion of democracy in a choice between two alternatives. But there is no alternative to the economic and foreign policies that are of primary concern to their wealthy sponsors. On economic and foreign policy matters, a pro-corporate "bipartisan consensus" prevails in both corporate-sponsored parties.

The two corporate parties always have some differences on social issues, such as civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, and the controversies over gun control, gay marriage, and school prayer of recent elections. These issues are certainly important and progressives can always use them to determine that one of the corporate-sponsored candidates is the lesser evil compared to the other. The problem is that with election contests between the two big parties focused on social issues, the bipartisan consensus on economic and foreign policy goes uncontested. Between elections, both corporate parties work together to execute the economic and foreign policies favored by their corporate sponsors.

Only an independent political insurgency can break us out of this box to challenge pro-corporate economic and foreign policies as well as reactionary social policies.

***

Democrat Harry Truman's first presidential act was to order two atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic Party's "peace candidate" in 1964, had by 1965 massively escalated the Vietnam War -- a war that killed 1.3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 U.S. soldiers....Democrat Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act of 1917, banning protest against U.S. participation in the First World War, and his administration detained and deported thousands of immigrants. In 1942, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt forcibly "relocated" the entire Japanese-American population on the West Coast into concentration camps for the rest of the Second World War.

The Democratic Party's reputation as a liberal alternative to the Republicans is greatly exaggerated -- mainly by its liberal supporters. One need look no further back than the Clinton administration. As a candidate in 1992, Clinton promised to "put people first," but instead of advancing liberal principles, Clinton stole the Republican's agenda on key issues. The hallmark of Clinton's presidency was ending "welfare as we know it" in 1996 -- dismantling sixty-one-year-old New Deal legislation obliging the government to provide income support to the poor. Clinton also helped to pave the way for Bush's USA PATRIOT Act when he signed the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Also in 1996, Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage, and under his tenure the U.S. prison population nearly doubled in size....Clinton oversaw UN-sponsored sanctions against Iraq that led to the deaths of more than one million Iraqis, and U.S. warplanes dropped bombs on Iraq almost daily during his time in office. And Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, calling for the U.S. "to seek to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein." Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, admits in a recent Foreign Affairs article, "I personally felt [Bush's new Iraq] war was justified on the basis of Saddam's decade-long refusal to comply with UN Security Council resolutions on weapons of mass destruction."

***

Could Nader Win?

Furthermore, Nader's impact could be far greater than that of a potential spoiler for Kerry. The 2000 National Election Survey data show that only 9 percent of voters who preferred Nader actually voted for him. Fifty percent of Nader supporters didn't vote at all. Twenty-six percent of Nader supporters voted for Gore as the lesser evil to Bush. And 19 percent of Nader supporters voted for Bush as the lesser evil to Gore.

If all the voters who preferred Nader had voted for him in 2000, he would have won the election, receiving 54 million votes to Bush's 43 million and Gore's 38 million (if we add the Nader supporters who voted for their lesser evil to Nader's total and subtract them from Bush and Gore's totals). (These numbers are derived from Harvard political scientist Barry Burden's 2001 study of the National Election Survey data: "Minor Parties in the 2000 Presidential Election," see http://psweb.sbs.ohio-state.edulfaculty ... ce/burdosu. pdf.)

In 2004, with antiwar sentiment rising and Nader the only antiwar candidate, Nader could well rise into serious contention. It would be a tragedy if the Greens were on the sidelines in such a race supporting another candidate. But whether or not that scenario unfolds, the role of the Green Party should be mobilizing that latent majority who prefer Nader/Green policies, not running an unknown candidate because we fear spoiling the election for Kerry and the Democrats who oppose almost everything the Greens stand for. A strong vote for Nader will be a victory because it will help set the national political agenda just as Perot's 19 percent showing in 1992 compelled both major parties to rush to balance the federal budget.

***

There are differences between the policies of the Democratic and Republican parties. Just as there are differences between GM and Ford, General Electric and Westinghouse, the American and National League in baseball. But the similarity between the two parties is much greater than the differences. Both parties increasingly are financed by many of the same corporate and special interests and act accordingly after the election, rewarding their supporters. The Democratic track record on issues they cite to attract progressive voters -- the environment, women's rights, labor, the federal bench -- is much worse than their rhetoric at campaign time.

The list of the failures of the Democratic Party at the national, state, and local levels is dismal, and is far too long to be chronicled here. Their recent shortcomings include welfare, criminal justice, universal health care, campaign finance reform, global warming, childhood poverty, the ERA, hunger, homelessness, pesticides, genetic engineering, progressive taxes, corporate welfare, nuclear power, the Middle East, nuclear weapons, the military budget, child care, consumer rights, banking, insurance, the war on drugs, foreign policy, corporate crime, etc.

The Democratic Party seldom if ever takes principled stands. Instead, Democrats make decisions based on how it will help them with voters and reward their campaign contributors. At best, the Democratic Party believes for some strange reason that most voters are more conservative than they are, and pander to "them" by moving to the right, while telling progressives not to worry, it will work out in the end, just vote them into power. It didn't work with Clinton in 1992; why would anyone expect it will work with Dean in 2004?

***

Parties to Injustice: Democrats Will Do Anything to Keep Me Off the Ballot
By Ralph Nader
Washington Post
September 5, 2004

This summer, swarms of Democratic Party lawyers, propagandists, harassers, and assorted operatives have been conducting an unsavory war against my campaign's effort to secure a spot on the presidential ballots in various states. It is not enough that both major parties, in state after state, have used the legislatures to erect huge barriers, unique among Western democracies, to third-party and independent candidacies. Now they are engaging in what can only be called dirty tricks and frivolous lawsuits to keep me and my running mate, Peter Miguel Camejo, off the ballot while draining precious dollars from our campaign chest.

This contemptuous drive is fueled with large amounts of unregulated money, much of it funneled through the National Progress Fund, an ostensibly independent group led by Toby Moffett, a former Democratic congressman who is currently a partner in a largely Republican lobbying firm called the Livingston Group. By contrast, to defend ourselves from the assault, we have to draw on funds that are limited and regulated by the Federal Election Commission.

News reports show that the National Progress Fund and other so-called independent 527 organizations (named for the section of the tax code under which they incorporate) were operating openly at the Democratic National Convention. They held meetings to discuss the best strategies and tactics to push the Nader/Camejo ticket off the ballot and they raised money from Democratic fat cats to accomplish their goals. It is evident that these "independent" groups are actually not independent but working closely with the Democratic Party.

In addition, chair of the Democratic Party of Maine, Dorothy Melanson, testified under oath in a public hearing before Maine's secretary of state last Monday that the national Democratic Party is funding efforts throughout the country to stop Nader/Camejo from appearing on ballots.

These ties with Democrats don't prevent the 527s from accepting help from entrenched corporate interests, or even Republican quarters, to finance challenges of the signatures we have collected to meet the requirements of ballot access. According to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Robert Savoie, president of Louisiana-based Science & Engineering Associates, donated $25,000 to the National Progress Fund in June. A month before, Savoie gave $25,000 to the Republican National Committee.

In Pennsylvania, where a court last Monday barred us from appearing on the ballot, signature challenges have been mounted by Reed Smith, a law firm whose political action committee primarily gives to Republicans. A lawyer from the firm boasted to the New York Times that "8 to 10 lawyers in his firm were working pro bono on the case, 80 hours each a week for two weeks, and could end up working six more weeks." The firm is counsel to twenty-nine of the top thirty U.S. banks, twenty-six of the Fortune 50 companies, nine of the top ten pharmaceutical companies, and fifty of the world's leading drug and medical device manufacturers.

The melding of these interests demonstrates that it is the corporate-political duopoly that is working to limit voters' choices for this November. For all their talk about free markets, the major parties do not tolerate competition very well. They don't want voters to be able to consider a candidate who advocates health care for all; a crackdown on corporate crime, fraud, and abuse; a shrinking of the military-industrial complex and corporate welfare; a living wage for all full-time workers; and a responsible withdrawal from Iraq.

The zeal of these ballot access sentries comes from a refusal to respect the rights of millions of voters to have the opportunity to vote for candidates of their choice. With their organized obstruction of our campaign's efforts just to get a place on the ballots, these authoritarians want to deny Americans more voices, choices, and agendas. The voters are the losers.

Watching their bullying maneuvers and harassing lawsuits around the country, I marvel at the absence of condemnation by Senator John F. Kerry or Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee chairman.

Senator Kerry told us that he would look into this situation seven weeks ago but we have not heard back from him yet. Around the same time, McAuliffe told me in a phone conversation that he actively approved of these organized efforts, one of which is ironically called the Ballot Project. He urged me to run only in the thirty-one states considered to be locked up by one of the two candidates.

Challenging the signatures of your rivals is an old political tactic, and when you're collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures, there are bound to be some that don't withstand scrutiny. But the Democrats are not just seeking compliance with harsh election laws. They are using dirty tricks to intimidate citizens.

That's the way it seemed to a fifty-eight-year-old supporter of ours in Oregon. On August 12, 2004, she was at home with her two grandchildren when she answered a knock on her door and found a man and woman who she said began threatening her with jail if there was any false information on the petitions she was collecting for our ballot access. These people, who called themselves "investigators," were dispatched by a law firm that has worked extensively with Oregon trade unions that have supported Democratic candidates. In many states our signature gatherers have been subjected to similar treatment in what is clearly an orchestrated campaign.

And some people who merely signed Nader/Camejo petitions have also been pressured. One person in Nevada got a call from someone who urged him to admit that he was tricked into signing our petition. When the petition signer said he had signed voluntarily, the caller continued to try to persuade him to claim that he had not signed the petition. After numerous requests, the caller identified himself and admitted he was from the Democratic National Committee in Las Vegas. A call to the number on the caller ID was answered, "Hello, DNC." We have similar reports from around the country.

Ballot access laws are so arbitrary and complex that they leave small parties open to legal pestering. In Arizona, large Democratic donors hired three corporate law firms to file frivolous challenges to our clearly ample number of signatures. For example, 1,349 signatures of registered voters were invalidated because the person who collected them had given his or her correct full address but had neglected to include the correct name of the county. The purpose of these exercises are, in lobbyist Moffett's words, "to neutralize [Nader's] campaign by forcing him to spend money and resources defending these things."

A covey of Democratic operatives in Illinois convinced the election board to disqualify signatures because the registered voters had moved since registering to vote even though they still lived in Illinois. The Democratic Speaker of the state House of Representatives sent state employees, contractors, and interns to review and challenge our ballot access petitions. The speaker wouldn't say -- when asked either by reporters or in a Freedom of Information Act request my campaign filed in July -- whether these state employees took leave from their taxpayer-paid jobs.

In other states, Democratic operatives are using a grace period after the filing date and directly calling voters who signed, pressing them to withdraw their signatures or say that they were misled so that the Democrats could allege fraud later in court.

The Democratic Party's machine is operating in many other ways, too. Its apparatchiks were waiting at the Virginia secretary of state's office on August 20 to say that our signature gatherers did not arrive in time, when in fact they arrived with twenty-five minutes to spare. The head of the state Elections Division, who happens to be the former executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party, refused even to accept our petitions until she was ordered to do so by the state attorney general.

To excuse and distract from this accumulation of organized misdeeds, the Democrats are feeding the press the Big Lie that the Republicans are bankrolling and supporting us. If the Republicans were to spend one-quarter as much to support us as the Democrats are spending to obstruct our access to ballots and our supporters' civil liberties, we would be on all fifty state ballots by now.

We have not been accepting signatures obtained through organized Republican Party efforts in the three or four states where we have learned of such activity.

We are trying, of course, to win over some Republican and independent voters who voted for George Bush in 2000 but are furious with him over endless deficits, federal regulation of local education, corporate subsidies and handouts, the sovereignty-shredding World Trade Organization and North American Free Trade Agreement, the big-government-snooping Patriot Act and, lately, the Iraq quagmire.

In 2000 about 25 percent of our vote came from people who told exit pollsters they otherwise would have voted for Bush. Yet the most recent independent review of our current campaign found that only 4 percent of our donations came from people who have also given to the Republican Party. The Center for Responsive Politics found that this group of fifty-one people gave $406,000 to the Republicans and $53,000 to Nader/Camejo. Amusingly, however, the center found that our Republican backers gave even more, $63,000, to the Democrats.

When I talked to Kerry, I cautioned him that if he did not order a stop to the dirty tricks of his Democratic underlings and allies, he may face a mini-Watergate type of scandal. For Democrats and Republicans who care about civil liberties, free speech, and an equal right to run for elective office, this festering situation should invite their very focused demands to cease and desist.

Hand it to the Democrats to keep some costs down, though. A contractor they hired in Michigan to make phone calls to check the validity of our tens of thousands of signatures outsourced the work to India.


***

Money vs. People: The Mystery of the 2004 Elections
By Peter Miguel Camejo
Published on http://www.greensfornader.net.
July 29, 2004

There is a mystery to the 2004 presidential election; a silence has fallen on America regarding a glaring contradiction. As we enter the second half of 2004, there is massive popular opposition to the war in Iraq and to the USA PATRIOT Act -- possibly a majority of Americans. Yet these same people are about to vote in overwhelming numbers for John Kerry for President.

But John Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, gave President Bush eighteen standing ovations in January, voted for the war, say the war was right, insist on continuing the occupation of Iraq against its peoples' desires, want to increase the number of troops and nations occupying Iraq, voted for "unconditional support to Bush" for his conduct of the war, and backed Bush by voting against the U.S. Constitution for the Patriot Act.

The only explanation for tens of millions voting against their heartfelt opinions is the lack of free elections in America. There are no runoff elections. Without runoffs people are trapped. They fear expressing their true opinions. If they vote for what they are for, they are told, they will only elect Bush. They must learn to vote against themselves, to accept the con game of a two-party system. People are taught not to vote for what they believe but against an individual.

An unpopular policy once identified with an individual can be continued by replacing the individual, keeping the policy with modifications. In replacing Bush, Kerry pledges to more effectively forward the same policy of imperial domination.

If runoff elections existed tens of millions would vote against both Bush and Kerry and for peace. Once the myth of invulnerability of the two-party system is broken the dam against democracy and free elections will break. Already 25 percent of Americans are no longer registered Democratic or Republican; they seek alternatives.

The Democrats' fear of Ralph Nader is rooted in the programmatic conflict between their Party's stance and their supporters. This is the real story of the 2004 elections.

This mystery is never written about in the media -- it is America's dark secret.

The 2000 presidential election was stolen when some sixty thousand people, primarily African Americans, had their right to vote illegally revoked in Florida. The film, Fahrenheit 9/11, opens showing one African-American congressperson after another asking for an investigation. But their cry for justice was squashed because not one Senator, not one Democrat, not Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, or John Edwards would defend democracy, and stand up for free elections.

Three and a half years later the Democratic Party has not lifted a finger to establish free elections in America. Not in a single state have they called for runoffs so Florida could never happen again. They could not make it clearer: the Democratic Party prefers that Republicans win elections, even without majority support, rather than allow free elections where a third party or an independent candidate could attract tens of millions from their base. Their answer is simple: Ralph Nader must not run, must not be an alternative.

If free elections were held with a runoff system like in most civilized nations, if proportional representation existed where if a point of view receives 20 percent of the vote its supporters would receive 20 percent representation, then every vote would count, and the Democratic Party as we know it today would no longer exist. The one hundred million people who never vote would have a reason to vote. New parties would appear and a representative democracy would begin to blossom in America.

Ralph Nader has created a small hole in the dam. The danger is real. The Democrats are on an all-out effort to attack the Nader/Camejo campaign because if voters begin to vote for what they want the entire electoral system would begin to unravel. If twenty million citizens voted for Nader it would be the beginning of the end of the two-party system. The Democrats would enter into a crisis, the ability of money to control people would begin to crack and the possibility of a democracy where citizens could vote for what they believe would be born. The Democrats are determined, not to beat Bush but to stop Nader, to protect the two-party, pro-corporate rule that America lives under.


***

When Martin Luther King Jr. came out against the war in Vietnam in 1967, he was also accused of throwing away his legacy. He was the target of withering attacks from the leadership of the Democratic Party, organized liberalism, and the civil rights movement. He suffered a drastic loss of funding from unions, churches, foundations, and wealthy liberals and was completely cut off from former allies in the government by the Johnson administration. King's response was to hold his ground and link his civil rights and antiwar demands. Pushing ahead despite resistance from most of his colleagues in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and another round of attacks by Democratic liberals, King began organizing the Poor People's Campaign, a radical plan to expand the scope of the civil rights movement into a multiracial, class-based economic justice movement that would channel the discontent expressed in the ghetto riots into a massive nonviolent disruption of the government until it came through with jobs or income for all to end poverty. At the time, King appeared isolated. Within a few years, public opinion had joined him in opposition to the war. Today, his courage in standing against the war and attacking systemic poverty and exploitation are seen as integral to his whole legacy.

Like King, Nader defied the Democratic Party leadership by campaigning independently against a war and a system of economic injustice in which the Democrats were fully complicit. Nader also suffered a loss of liberal allies, funding, and access to government officials for doing so. But as important as his antiwar and pro-justice demands were, Nader's greatest legacy may be his insistence on the right of the people to have alternatives to the two corporate-sponsored parties.

***

Progressives are running scared today. They are scared of Bush and are demanding that the Greens not run a candidate and back a Democrat, or that the Greens backhandedly support the Democrat by not campaigning in the swing states.

To be sure, Bush is scary. Constitutional rights restricted. Unilateral presidential war powers. War budget hiked. International treaties abrogated. Tax cuts for the rich. Worker safety and environmental regulations gutted. Pandering to corporate interests in the midst of a corporate crime wave. An anti-consumer bankruptcy bill. Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with threats of future invasions or proxy wars for regime change in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and who knows where else.

But the Democrats are scary, too. The majority of congressional Democrats have let Bush have his way on every one of these issues.

If the Democratic Party won't resist Bush's policies in Congress, why should progressives support them for the presidency?

The Democrats didn't even resist Bush when he stole the Florida vote in 2000. We now know that Gore won Florida handily from the recount done by the media consortium that included the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. But the Democrats, far more interested in preserving the system's legitimacy than fighting its racism, refused to make an issue of how the Republicans cut Blacks from the voter rolls through computerized racial profiling.

The Congressional Black Caucus gave the Democrats a second chance after the Supreme Court selection of Bush, when it appealed to Senate Democrats to object to accepting the Florida electors. The objection of just one Democratic senator would have forced an investigation of the racial voter profiling and a recount of the Florida vote. But not one of them -- not Wellstone, not Kennedy, not Feingold, not Boxer, not Clinton, not Kerry -- not one of the Democratic liberals objected.

And the Greens are supposed to stand down and leave it to the Democrats to fight Bush?

Yes, a Democrat might beat Bush. But no Democrat is going to beat Bushism.

Just as electing Clinton did not beat Reaganism, but took Reaganism far beyond what Reagan and Bush Sr. could accomplish, so electing a Democrat will not defeat Bushism to change the basic foreign and domestic policies of the U.S.

What was called Reaganism (to scare us into voting Democratic) was really a bipartisan consensus around neoconservative militarism and neoliberal economics. That bipartisan consensus was initiated under Carter, supported by the majority of congressional Democrats during the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations, carried far beyond what Reagan and Bush Sr. could do by Clinton, and is now being taken even further by Bush, again with the support of the majority of congressional Democrats.

These policies were initiated under Carter, who increased the military budget beyond Ford's projections and got the U.S. into covert military operations in Afghanistan with the hope, successful as it turned out, that it would provoke the Soviets to invade. The U.S. began in 1978 training the Islamic fundamentalists who we now know as Al Qaeda. Bush's military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is the Carter Doctrine in practice, which stated in essence that the U.S. would go to war for oil in the Middle East.

Neoconservative militarism is the post-Vietnam foreign policy of the corporate rulers as they reasserted their post-World War II policy of dominating the capitalist world. With the fall of the Soviet bloc, Bush Sr. declared a New World Order in which the U.S. would dominate the whole world and make it safe for capitalist exploitation. The Clinton administration continued this policy through NATO expansion and its intervention in the Balkans without UN authorization, as well as the complex of trade and credit policies administered by the IMF, World Bank, WTO, and numerous corporate-managed trade agreements on the model of NAFTA.

Both parties are just as committed to economic policies of neoliberal austerity. Again, these polices were initiated under Carter, who slashed social programs to increase the military budget and reassert U.S. interventionism with the development of the Rapid Deployment Force, adopted monetarism as fiscal policy with the appointment of Volker to the Fed, and began the attack on organized labor by refusing to support the common situs picketing law he had pledged the AFL-CIO he would support.

Neoliberal austerity became the post-Keynesian economic policy of the corporate rulers as they ran into the internal limits to profits and growth under the Keynesian welfare/warfare state.

The new ruling-class consensus is the austerity/warfare state of neoliberal economics and neoconservative empire.

And that ruling-class consensus is the pro-war, pro-corporate bipartisan consensus.

What is now called Bushism is not a radical departure but a continuation of this bipartisan consensus, with the majority of Democrats in Congress voting for Bush's key programs: the tax cuts, war budgets, war powers, and USA PATRIOT Act.

Worried about Bush's global empire building? Empire building is a bipartisan geopolitical strategy of using military basing and control of oil in the Middle East and Central Eurasia to keep Western Europe, Russia, China, and Japan from challenging U.S. hegemony. This geopolitical strategy is as prevalent in the pronouncements of Democratic national security advisers like Zbigniew Brzezinski as in those of their Republican counterparts like Henry Kissinger. The Bush administration's particular intellectual framework for empire coming out of the Project for a New American Century is authored by Democrats as well as Republicans, such as Clinton's CIA director, James Woolsey, and Paul Wolfowitz, the former aide to the late senator Scoop Jackson (D-WA). The Clinton administration's imperialist motives for supporting Star Wars were stated quite openly in the Air Force's "Vision for 2020": "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investment."

Indeed, the Democrats' unadulterated support for empire goes back before Carter, before Kennedy and Johnson's Vietnam War, to another Democratic administration, that of Truman, with Dean Acheson's Cold War strategy of building alliances of U.S. satellites to contain the Soviet bloc and make the "free" world safe for corporate exploitation. With the demise of the USSR's own empire, the U.S. geopolitical strategy switched "from containment to enlargement," as Clinton's first national security adviser, Anthony Lake, declared in a 1993 speech of that title, adding in words that sound like Wolfowitz's that U.S.-led alliances would accomplish this by "diplomacy where we can; force where we must."

Worried about Bush's militarism? Remember that the post-Vietnam hikes in military spending were initiated by Carter, taking them above the levels Ford had projected, and that the post-Cold War military spending hikes were initiated by Clinton, taking them well above Bush Sr.'s projections. Bush Jr.'s further hikes have been supported by the majority of congressional Democrats. The current mantra among the Democratic Party political consultants and pollsters is that the Democratic presidential candidate must be as "strong on national security" as Bush to be competitive in the 2004 election.

The Clinton foreign policy team was frustrated by the military's cautious Powell Doctrine. As Clinton's secretary of state and then UN ambassador, Madeline Albright, angrily told Colin Powell, now Bush's secretary of state and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "What's the point of having this superb military that you've always been talking about if we can't use it?"

What about Bush's unilateralism? Wouldn't Democratic imperialism be a little softer, more "globalist"? Not hardly. It was Clinton's secretary of state and Brzezinski protege, Madeleine Albright, who told the UN Security Council in 1994 regarding Iraq: "We will act multilaterally when we can, unilaterally when we must." And thus under Clinton the U.S. bypassed the Security Council to impose regime change by military force on Iraqi Kurdistan, Kosovo, and Serbia.

How about Bush's domestic repression? The Clinton/Reno anticrime and antiterrorism bills instituted more than fifty new death penalties, emaciated habeus corpus, militarized domestic policing, gutted Posse Comitatus, legalized FBI and CIA domestic political spying, expanded the drug war, and subsidized expansion of the prison-industrial complex. The Clintonites sent in Delta Force to make sure the heads of anti-WTO demonstrators were cracked in Seattle. The post-September 11 detention of thousands without trial, any kind of hearing, or access to lawyers was done under the statutory authority of Clinton's Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The USA PATRIOT Act just expanded this repressive authority further, again with the votes of the majority of congressional Democrats.

Well, maybe the Democrats aren't as extreme as Bush on domestic economic policy? Here again there is a basic bipartisan consensus. Carter initiated the neoliberal turn as the bipartisan consensus switched from military Keynesianism to military neoliberalism. Though neoliberalism is cloaked in the egalitarian-sounding rhetoric of free markets, the reality is state enforcement of greater inequality: welfare for the corporate rich (investment incentives in theory) and hardship for workers (to motivate higher productivity in theory).

Today's corporate scandals are a legacy of Clinton's financial deregulation, media monopolization a legacy of his deregulatory Telecommunications Act, the loss of two million jobs a legacy of NAFTA and the other trade deals Clinton made that are sending U.S. manufacturing and backroom service jobs to cheap labor markets overseas. Bush's biggest contribution to the neoliberal agenda has been his tax cuts for the rich, which the Democrats enabled by declaring it a "victory" to pare down their size somewhat.

This bipartisan consensus is forged by the corporate ruling class through its media ownership and financing of publications, broadcasts, think tanks, and its two political parties, Democratic and Republican. To be sure, there are tactical differences within this consensus. No doubt the ruling class is split about Bush. Many of them are worried about the economic irrationality of the latest tax cuts, the destabilizing consequences throughout the Middle East and Europe of the military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Bush's pandering to the domestically destabilizing social agenda of the Christian fundamentalists. And this faction of the corporate rich will support a Democratic version of the bipartisan consensus, the Slick Soft-Right of a Clinton rather than the Crude Hard-Right of a Bush Jr.

-- Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate, edited by Howie Hawkins


[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] It’s called rank voting. Aside from the First Amendment Rights of candidates to run, it’s the consummate use of the First Amendment is to petition assembly, freedom of speech, which is encompassed in running for elective office, you’ve come out, if I’m not mistaken, for universal voting as a legal duty along with your co-author, Norman Ornstein. Can you explain that?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] Yes, we’ve been for universal voting for a long time….
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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Part 3 of 3

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] As a reader of your column, I often wondered why you don’t have a little bit more attention to the corporate crime wave and what’s going on in Wall Street, and why you don’t have more attention on the state of labor laws which from occupational safety and health, lack of enforcement by OSHA under both Republican and Democratic parties, and the notorious Taft-Hartley act that’s the most anti-union organizing law in the western world. Why don’t you cover a little bit more on those, E.J.?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] I think on labor, I’ve written probably more about labor than your average columnist over the time I’ve been doing the column. I care a lot about labor, a lot about unions. I’ve written some about Wall Street, but you’re right, I have not written as much about that as I could. I’ve got to say that in the last year the threat I see President Trump posing in so many areas, has occupied an awful lot of my attention. And what I will say, joining your critique of me and everybody else is that one of the under-covered areas of what Trump has done has been all of these executive orders gutting regulation across a very, very broad sphere. I have written some over the years about the need to regulate Wall Street, and I will take this as a friendly nudge to pay more attention to some of that aspect of the Trump legacy because that’s where he’s actually succeeding, not for the country but for a very conservative and essentially corporate agenda. That, plus his awful tax cut which is not even a tax cut, because a lot of Americans get an increase out of this tax bill, which I have written a lot about. I’ve been probably obsessed by this bill.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] On this, do you favor asking Trump to either resign to support a growing number of democrats – I think there are 6 or 7 who are filing impeachment resolutions in the House?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] The problem with impeachment right now is it’s mostly a gesture because it’s not going to go through. And I want to see where Muller’s investigation goes. If you put me on the floor of Congress and I had to vote on this, I suspect I would vote to get rid of him, to move him out of office, because I think there’s a lot of evidence for that now. We also have to ponder what it would mean to have a President Pence in office. But I think we are getting to the point where evidence is mounting. And I think something like impeachment needs to have a broader degree of public support than we have right now. There’s a survey that came out yesterday that was very anti-Trump in terms of popular opinion, but the country isn’t quite ready for impeachment yet. So I think we should oppose just about everything he’s trying to do, and in the meantime gather the evidence to make the case.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] Let’s take another approach. Nancy Pelosi is coming down hard on any democrats who have been accused credibly of sexual harassment and assault. She demanded the resignation of Congressman John Conyers, who is the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus in terms of the years he spent in Congress. And he has now resigned. But she has not asked for the resignation of Donald Trump who is the Harasser-In-Chief, and boasts about it, brags about it. He has been accused by over 20 women of outrageous sexual assault and harassment, pressuring. And she doesn’t ask for his resignation. Do you see a double standard there?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] It’s funny you mention that. You must have read my tweet yesterday when Conyers resigned, I raised very much the double standard issue of if Conyers goes but Roy Moore is endorsable by Trump, and Trump himself is still there. I think what you’ve got going on now is people trying to decide how they can be consistent on this issue, and what you have control over. But I do think that the Roy Moore story, and then all of these stories about sexual harassment are leading the media to revisit Trump’s story. There was a wonderful interview on NPR yesterday with one of the first women who came out and publicly accused Trump before the election, I think it is time to revisit all of those charges and say, “Wait a minute. If all of these folks have to resign from various positions in the private sector and the media, and now John Conyers, what about Trump?” I think that’s a perfectly fair question to ask.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] On the democratic party, E.J., I think you’ll agree that it was a big mistake for the democratic party to abandon half of the country in presidential races and activity of so-called “red” states, because as Ben Barnes, the politician of many years in Texas once told me, “When the democrats abandoned competing in Texas at the presidential level, it shredded the whole democratic party right down to local offices.” And this is now the price they make them pay in Alabama, where you have virtually no democratic party activity. A former head of the Alabama Democratic party just said recently that “if Doug Jones, the democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, defeats Roy Moore, he’ll have to do it by himself.” Those are his exact words. In other words, no help from the National Democratic Party in the virtually non-existent local democratic party. And this has had devastating consequences. This abandonment of half the party for who’s in the Congress, and who runs the governors and state legislatures. So what is your advice in these remaining days before the December 12th election in Alabama? If you were advising the Democratic National Committee and other democratic leaders, what would you advise them to do in order to defeat Roy Moore, which I assume you want done?

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] Yeah, I do. Two things on that. One is that the National Democratic party has stayed out of this in significant part because they didn’t want to saddle Doug Jones with the charge that he is being supported by the National Democratic party. The fact is that Doug Jones has raised I think it might get up to $50 million. He is vastly outspending Roy Moore at this point. So while the formal party has not done much for him, all kinds of democrats around the country have supported him. Second, of the remaining structures of the Democratic party, there are still some very strong African Americans and groups, very distinguished old Alabama Congress, for example. And if Doug Jones wins it will be in part because those groups still have a lot of energy on the ground. But on your broader point: there’s no question that abandoning whole states is a terrible mistake. Howard Zine? had his 50 state strategy, and you saw something very interesting during the fight to save Obama care, which is that people in very republican districts went to these meetings to tell their republican congress people not to repeal this law, and they looked around the room and discovered that there were hundreds of people in this district that is very, very republican who actually agree with me. And I think that the other place that the party cannot abandon, that has to come back, is that at the local level, they’ve got to start organizing to win at the local level. Since Trump you’re seeing this happening. There are a lot of young people now, women, all kinds of progressive elements if we can share that word for a moment, who are running for local offices. You saw it in the legislature in Virginia. So I am very much against abandoning whole parts of the country. A it’s not right, and B it comes back to haunt you.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] And the lesson from what you just said is obviously when you get down as a political party to where the American people live, work and raise their families, a lot of so-called “red,” “blue” partisan polarization disappears. “Conservative”, “liberal”, whatever they call themselves back home, they want their kids to go to good schools; they want to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and have safe medicines, have good job opportunities, and be treated fairly. And I always thought that when you go down the abstraction ladder to where people work, live, raise their families, you’ll get a left-right-conservative-liberal coalition of immense political importance and repercussions. I wrote a book on this a few years ago called, “Unstoppable: the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state.” And I gave 24 areas where the public opinion polls and sometimes action, including minimum wage increase and cracking down on corporate crime, and corporate tax reform, and living wage are supported by 70-80% of the American people, which is liberal and conservative voters, and a pretty unstoppable force. But the democratic party has got to get down to where people live, work and raise their family, and stop constantly saying, “Well, we’re not connecting; we need a message; and our new slogan is going to be ‘a better deal,’” suggested by expensive political consultants. So there’s a lot of opportunity here, but nothing is going to happen unless we the people make it happen.

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] And as you said in the beginning, “politics” has to be a good word again for people, but we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] I just wanted to end. You know Mike Perchuk, who is the key strategist in the Congress in the sixties for all the consumer and environmental, so many bills that we got through. He was the chief of staff for Senator Warren Magnuson, the powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. He came to town a few weeks ago, because he’s written a book entitled “When the Senate Worked for Us.” And I thought it was a very important historical contribution for the young generation today who doesn’t think the Congress can work at all. And he spent a week trying to get attention, and he got no attention whatsoever. He did have a luncheon with Congressman David Price. But this separation of the present from history is partly due, E.J., because columnists are forced by editors to write columns that reverberate off today’s headlines. Flash news. Otherwise, they’re not “viewed as contemporary,” as one editor told me. I hope that you’ll pay some attention to that book, because it gives us a real optimistic lift that we don’t always have to have a congress like this, and we did have a Congress, without being too idealistic about it in the sixties and early seventies, that worked a lot more for the American people, and a lot less for the corporate lobbyist.

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] Well, I’m a fan and admirer of Mike Perchuk, so I will definitely pay attention to that. I just want to say that I think that it would be irresponsible of those of us who write columns to blame it on editors. We make a lot of these choices ourselves. And so I’ll take the rap for what I write. There is a lot of pressure to be on the news right now because particularly the way the Web works. But we have freedom to go elsewhere, and so we should use it ourselves and take it wherever we can.

[PROGRESSIVE, Ralph Nader] On that promising note, thank you very much E.J. Dionne, and I hope that you’ll find the kind of emphasis that we talked about helpful in your future columns.

[LIBERAL, E.J. Dionne] Great to talk to you and thank you.

Extract from Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 272: Trumpcare Fiasco/Logic For The Left
June 1, 2019

Q. There is a difference between "progressives" and "leftists". Why do you cling to "Progressive," and not go all the way to calling yourself a "Leftist"?

[Ralph Nader] Because the "left" gets pigeonholed just the way as the "right" does, and they are not always right, and they're not always "left." So, a "progressive" argues on the facts, wherever they may fall. So it's not a pigeon-holed ideology. There's a lot of baggage to the words "left" and "right." A lot of baggage. It's too categorical for an evidence-based mind.

Q. You were never tempted by Marxism when you were young?

[Ralph Nader] No, because there's too many premeditated decisions. That's why people say "neo-Marxist," or "I'm a modern Marxist." When somebody says, "I'm a Marxist," all I think is they are people who pay a great deal of weight to economic aspects shaping political and economic reality, and concentrated power. The point is, power can be corrupted regardless of whether it's public or private, and there's plenty of history to demonstrate this. So once you pigeon-hole yourself, you don't want to admit one or the other. When you say you're a "capitalist," Wall Street is always right. When you say you're a "socialist," you're often pigeon-holed into saying whatever government does is always right. And that's not true. Concentrated power, wherever it is, produces abuses, no matter what it's configuration. And that doesn't mean they are all on the same plane of abuse in any given time in history. They're not. Like right now, corporate capitalism is producing the most horrendous prices to the accumulation of profit in the history of capitalism: empire, domination, destruction of freedom of contract, perpetuation of poverty. Those are the prices of profit. Nanotechnology, biotechnology, are unregulated. Artificial intelligence is unregulated. The price of corporate profit is staggering, and that's not true of socialism any more, because they aren't in charge.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 272: Trumpcare Fiasco/Logic For The Left
June 1, 2019

Medicare For All advocate, Dr. John Geyman, rejoins us to discuss his latest book “Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco.” And philosophy professor Ben Burgis explains how to “Give Them an Argument: Logic For The Left.” Plus, David Helvarg comes on in the Wrap Up to explain how he’s “Putting The Blue in the Green New Deal.”

John Geyman is an M.D. and professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. As a family physician with 21 years in academic medicine, he has also practiced in rural communities for 13 years. Dr. Geyman has served as president of Physicians for a National Health Program and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. His new book is entitled; Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco.

“In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt ran as a progressive for national health insurance. And it’s been shut down politically all these years since then. But, it’s not a fringe idea.” Dr. John Geyman, author of Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco

Ben Burgis teaches philosophy at Rutgers. He is the author of a new book entitled Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left. It’s published by Zero Books, which produces a YouTube channel that also features Professor Burgis. You can also see him every Tuesday evening on the Michael Brooks Show.

“I would make a distinction between liberals and leftists. I think that in the kind of MSNBC liberal like Rachel Maddow you get this technocratic centrism: that political problems come from people being too ideological, not thinking hard enough about the sort of technocratic wonky solutions to them. That’s why Obama spent his whole first term trying to pursue a Grand Bargain with Republicans, because he thought that if everybody could just get over all this ideology then they could just reason together and figure out how to slash entitlements and allegedly save Social Security… And that’s very different than the left wing values I care about.” Professor Ben Burgis, author of Give Them an Argument: Logic For The Left

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 273 TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, my name is Steve Skrovan, along
with my returning co-host David Feldman, welcome back, David.

David Feldman: It is an honor to be back.

Steve Skrovan: It's good to have you back. And we have the man of the hour too, of course, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hey, how are you? This is going to be a titanic issue to 2020 elections.

Steve Skrovan: Yes, we hope it is. And what Ralph is referring to is we've got a couple of
doctors on the program today. One is an MD, the other is Ph.D. And first up is Dr. John
Geyman. He is back with us to discuss healthcare. Regular listeners remember Dr. Geyman as
an advocate for Medicare for All; he has done a deep analysis of Obamacare vs. Medicare for All
as well as the Republican alternative, whatever that turns out to be, and I'm going to give him
credit for coining the term Trumpcare. Trump, I think owns the healthcare system now and he
likes to talk about how people don't want to give up their “beloved private health insurance.”
And I believe it’s the first time the word beloved, has ever been used to describe private health
insurance. And of course, this is the same guy who said, you know, who said, “who knew
healthcare was so complicated”. He said that after taking office by the way, so Dr. Geyman’s
new book is entitled, Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco,
that's the first half of the show and the second half of the show we turn our attention to the art of
persuasion. We welcome Dr. Ben Burgis, who is the author of a book entitled, Give Them An
Argument: Logic For The Left. It's sort of a handbook on how we take apart the logic of the right
and David you've actually read this and talked to Dr. Burgis, right?

David Feldman: Yes, it’s really interesting because a lot of people on our side don't know how
to fight back. We kind of just listen and then walk away so it's very valuable information.

Steve Skrovan: And in between, we're going to break up our two doctors with a man who should
get own doctorate in exposing corporate crime, our Corporate Crime Reporter, Russell
Mokhiber. And you podcast listeners won't want to miss this week's Wrap Up; we're going to talk
to David Helvarg, the head of Blue Frontier, the advocacy group for ocean conservation. He has
a new proposal called “Putting the Blue in the Green New Deal.” So, we'll get to that in the
Wrap Up, but first, let's talk about how we can fix the fiasco of Trumpcare, David.

David Feldman: John Geyman is an MD and Professor Emeritus of Family Medicine at the
University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. As a family physician with 21 years in
academic medicine, he has also practiced in rural communities for 13 years. Dr. Geyman has
served as president of Physicians for a National Health Program and as a member of the National
Academy of Medicine. His new book is entitled Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How
We Can Fix This Fiasco. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Dr. John Geyman.

John Geyman: Well thank you. I'm glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Ralph Nader: Welcome again, John. Seems like we're old friends now with so many interviews
and my promotion of your various books, which are very-very clearly written listeners, and
you're well advised to read these books because this is going to be the big issue in the 2020
presidential and congressional campaigns. Are we going to continue the present corrupt,
constant denying, profiteering, cruel, inefficient healthcare industry system? Or are we going to
have a simpler, more efficient single-payer system with free choice of doctor and hospital, no
networks, and of course, better outcomes as a result? So let me start with the big deception here,
because there are some people who don't like to use the phrase Medicare for All, because of the
sabotage of Medicare by the Republicans and Democrats in allowing more and more of Medicare
recipients to be seduced and deceived into what's called Medicare Advantage Programs--what I
call Medicare disadvantage. We now have one out of three elderly people under Medicare drawn
in by these deceptive promotional lunches, that the health insurance companies have all over the
country, where they have presentations that should be prosecuted by the Federal Trade
Commission, they are so deceptive. In your book on page 21, you have a pretty devastating
summary of why people over 65 should stay clear and just go into traditional Medicare, not go
into Medicare so-called Advantage. Can you tell our listeners why they should avoid Medicare
“Disadvantage,” as I call it?

John Geyman: Well, I agree it is a Medicare “Disadvantage.” And they have all kinds of
deceptive marketing approaches, as you mentioned Ralph, including one that isn't talked about
much, but they have these marketing pitches on second and third floors of places without
elevators, so they can pick out people that can handle stairs; they're always trying to get healthier
people and make as much money from them as possible, meanwhile limiting; they have
restrictive networks that change all the time. Even docs can't keep up with the latest changes.
Sometimes a doc doesn't even know if he's in or out of network; they can change so rapidly and
all these pre-authorizations and now it's just a total rip. It's an example of why we don't need the
private, multi-payer insurance industry anymore. It's ripped us off for a huge number of years,
not just privatized Medicare, but privatized Medicaid. And then overhead of these private
insurers runs about six times what traditional Original Medicare is of about 2.5%. So, this huge
overhead and right now what we're seeing is the private insurers, more and more fighting back
for their expanded place in healthcare, including buying up more and more physician groups so
they can run them, etc.

Ralph Nader: It's a corporate takeover. I don't use the word privatized, John; I use the word
corporatized. So basically, Medicare, so-called Advantage is a corporate takeover and all the
abuses that people who are under 65 are exposed to it by health insurance companies operated
here. They deny benefits, they're wasteful. They require you to go only to a certain network of
doctors and hospitals, even though they may not be proper for your ailment. It's what Dr. Fred
Hyde in Connecticut once told me about Medicare Disadvantage. He said, “it's not what you pay,
it's what you get, or what you don't get. It’s what you don't get. Stay with traditional Medicare,
even though they require the traditional Medicare patients to subsidize the Medicaid and Medicare
health insurance companies. And just to give you an idea, Centene Corporation--this is
in Dr. John Geyman’s book, Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This
Fiasco, just out and it's also online--the largest private Medicaid insurer in the country, took in
1.1 billion in profits between 2014 and 2016 just in California, “even as its plans were among the
worst performing in this state.” That's another way of saying they’re expert at denying benefits
and underpaying what's required, often turning patients away in desperation, and even making
more money. Now, you're enthralled by one bill in the House of Representatives and explain
that; give the bill number. I think it's fair to say it's the best single-payer bill--better even than
John Conyers’s bill and Bernie Sanders’s bill. And it's supported by a lot of Democrats. So,
give the vital statistics about that bill, starting with its number.

John Geyman: This is H.R. 1384. It's in the House. It's expanded and improved Medicare for
All [Act of 2019]. It's a great bill, the best we've ever seen. Its two leading co-sponsors are
Pramila Jayapal from Seattle [WA] actually and Debbie Dingell from [Dearborn] Michigan. This
will bring us a new system of national health insurance for all US residents, based on medical
need, not ability to pay, and on a principle that healthcare is not a privilege but a human right.
It'll bring right away universal access to healthcare for US residents, full choice of providers and
hospitals anywhere in the country, no restrictive networks, covers everything: outpatient-
inpatient care, laboratory diagnostic services, dental, hearing and vision care, prescription drugs,
reproductive health, including banning the Hyde Amendment so that women can have full
reproductive healthcare, maternity, and newborn care; mental health services will be a lot better
covered, including substance abuse treatment, and long-term care and support. Some of this is
absent in Bernie's Bill in the Senate; quite a bit of what I just said is absent. There's no cost-
sharing, such as co-pays and deductibles in the House Bill. They'll negotiate drug prices, as the
VA does, and has for years, to get to get prices down to about 58% of what we pay. It'll be huge
administrative simplification with negotiated fee schedules for physicians and other health
professionals who will remain in private practice; global budgeting of individual hospitals and
other facilities, and bulk purchasing of drugs and medical devices too. That's a big deal, the
medical devices, if you had a hip replacement, you know that the cost, that can vary a lot
wherever you are in the country. The House Bill will eliminate the private health insurance
industry with its administrative overhead and profiteering, and no longer need for employer-
sponsored health insurance. Cost savings, we've got two great studies we can talk about later if
we need to, that enable universal coverage through a not-for-profit, single-payer financing
system. Two great studies, as I said, one just six months ago—two-year transition period
actually for the House Bill. One year after enactment, people over 55 will be so covered and
under 19; after two years, everyone's covered. Shared risk for the cost of illnesses and accidents
across the whole population of 326 million. So, it is really a good bill; 70% of Americans
support it, including 85% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans.

Ralph Nader: And I might add, when people have access to health insurance, they don't
postpone needed healthcare, which either ends up destroying their lives or disabling them, losing
their jobs, or they inflict even more costs on the healthcare system and Medicaid, etc., because
they didn't have the money to afford health insurance under the present system to get diagnosed
and treated in time. So, where the present system has this perverse incentive of feeding on its
own waste and rejection, this system goes in the opposite direction; it catches medical ailments
early before the cost becomes 10 or 100 times more, as the ailment becomes more and more
serious, whether it's respiratory disease, cancer, or what have you. You know, when I hear you
say all this John, my first reaction is why in the world, this is the USA, the last western country,
years and years, it doesn't have universal health insurance. All other countries--Iceland,
Luxembourg, Italy, Germany, France, England, Canada, Taiwan, Japan--you know, it’s not just
Western countries, and we know it's because when Lyndon Johnson had a chance to go for
Medicare for All, the country was spending huge amounts of money in the Vietnam War and
there were members of Congress who were saying, President Johnson, “you can't go cover
everybody; we can't afford it because the Vietnam War is draining us, and there's inflation. So
that's another cost of imperial wars by the way, because as you quote in your book, there was a
government study out in 2012, saying 45,000 Americans die every year because they can't afford
health insurance and therefore can't get diagnosed and treated in time. Well, that's almost 1,000
people a week and if you multiply that by 40 years, or more, since the end of the Vietnam War,
that's over 1.7 million people who could have been saved. So, and the second response I get to
this, when I hear you speak, is that the supporters of full Medicare for All--everybody in and
nobody out, free choice to doctor and hospital, better outcomes and half the cost per capita--
that’s the experience in Canada, and unless we think Canadians are a lot smarter than we are,
they have modern healthcare; they have the equipment. They come in at half the price per
average per capita, and they cover everybody in the country. As you point out in your book,
about 30 million people under Obamacare are not covered; it's getting worse and about 80
million people are under-insured and we still spend twice on the average per capita than Canada.
But the supporters of S1804, which is that great bill you describ in your book, I submit, don't
know how to argue very well for it. They're already put on the defensive by people. Republicans
mostly say, “how are you going to pay for it; it's going to be multi-trillion dollars a year”. Tell us
the many easy ways to pay for a system that once it's in place costs half as much as the system
costs today in dollars, and doesn't kill anyone because nobody dies in Canada or France because
they can't afford health insurance; they are insured from the moment they're born.

John Geyman: Yeah, that’s just one example of the Canadian advantage over us. If you're an
auto manufacturer in Toronto, they pay very little compared to what a US car manufacturer has
to pay for healthcare for their employees. But yeah, if we bring it down to people and budgets,
which we should have a system that cares about people instead of corporate profits and Wall
Street investors. But anyhow, the average family of four today with employer-sponsored health
insurance, pays $28,000 a year now.

Ralph Nader: Good heavens, $28,000 a year.

John Geyman: 28K, but then the median income in the country is something like 59K. So, this
is just absurd and if we compare that with national health insurance through Medicare for All,
95% of Americans will pay less in taxes than they do now for insurance and healthcare through a
progressive tax plan. I'm going to mention these; we've had two studies, both of which showed
huge savings. The Friedman Study of six years ago or so told us we could save $616 billion a
year by going to Medicare for All. That includes $220 billion through insurance overhead and
administration getting rid of that, etc., lots of administrative savings. Then the second study is
more recent, and is very well done, the Political Economy Research Institute [PERI] out of the
University of Massachusetts in Amherst, this reported out just six months ago, that total health
spending will increase from 3.2 trillion to 3.6 trillion due to many people getting care they
previously had to forego, but we'll save 5.1 trillion over 10 years through savings from getting
rid of the multi payer, profiteering, private insurance industry. So, we have solid numbers and
different ways of progressive taxation. The PERI Study out of Amherst would set business
premiums at 8% below what business now pays on healthcare; they would set a sales tax on non-
essential goods of 3.75%. They’d put a recurring tax of 0.36% on all wealth over a million, and
they would tax long-term capital gains as regular income. So, there's a lot of work that's been
done, but the opponents of this are gathering momentum again, like they always do, including
hospitals that are saying, “Oh, we might not get paid as much as we are”. Well, they'll get paid
better, actually. Insurers, of course, are complaining because they'll be going away.

Ralph Nader: They have to be replaced. You can't have a single-payer, government funding,
private delivery of healthcare, and still have private health insurers like Aetna, that in one year
recently paid its CEO over $55 million--one year!

John Geyman: Right. They'll have to be replaced. The way I’d like to think of it is, the winners
and losers under Medicare for All single-payer. The winners are all Americans, physicians and
other health professionals will win, because they'll have much less bureaucracy, they'll have
more time to take care of patients. That's why they became such. Hospitals will win; employers
will win big time; mental healthcare will win. Mental healthcare is very underfunded; it'll be
better reimbursed. Public health will win. Federal and state governments will win and taxpayers
will win. The losers are private health insurance, corporate middlemen, corporate stakeholders,
privatized Medicare and as you said Disadvantaged Medicare Ralph, privatized Medicaid,
displaced workers. Well, there's a plan in the House Bill that allocates 1% of its budget over the
first five years for assistance and retraining of workers displaced by the elimination of the private
health insurance industry. And that's probably 1.7 million people. So, there are big numbers
there.

Ralph Nader: You know, if people are still skeptical, take a look at some of the reports on the
pricing of healthcare services in this country--$3,000 in Berkeley to take someone a mile and a
half to a hospital, in an ambulance, 3 thousand bucks! Their operations in the US for $100,000
per operation that in Canada are done at $25,000. You have massive billing fraud, minimal
estimate this year, 350 billion dollars in the US. That's about what the whole healthcare system
in Canada for 33 million people costs; you have far less billing fraud. People don't even see a
bill in Canada for the most part, none of the anxiety, the dread, the fear, the insecurity that
pervades millions and millions of families in the United States. You can't put dollar figure on
that, can you and there are all kinds of ways. You tax corporations, the way they were taxed in
the 1960s, that produced hundreds of billions of dollars. They were making a lot of money in the
1960s; 1960s are one of the most prosperous decades, and they're grossly under taxed. A lot of
these corporations aren't taxed at all. Fifty-six major corporations in this country paid no federal
income tax whatsoever last year, and got rebates, they so gamed the system. For years, General
Electric would make billions of US dollar profits, pay no federal income tax. So, the ability to
pay is everywhere by just making a more just political economy, having the rich and the
multinationals not escape taxation by putting illegally their profits in some little island off the
Isle of England, or in Luxembourg or in Ireland. And just amazing that the supporters of this
Bill, don't know how to make all the arguments. While I've heard a dozen members of the House
support this Bill, they never mention that it would prevent 45,000 deaths a year, and of course,
many more injuries and illnesses, because people will be able to afford health care. And they
won't be denied because they couldn't afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in
time. They never mention it! I haven't yet heard anyone mention that it will save hundreds of
billions of dollars in fraud. I haven't heard anyone mention that no longer will the drug
companies be pursuing the sky is the limit and hit a patient for $100,000 or $150,000 for a year’s
treatment, when you can get it for 5% of that in Egypt, the exact same drug, because they control
prices in Egypt and other countries. What do you think is going on here? The Republicans
argue, without the facts forcefully, and they use all the non-factual arguments, the scare tactics,
the lies; the Democrats don't use their full panoply; they don't use their full menu of arguments.
Therefore, they're on a defensive in the House of Representatives. Why?

John Geyman: Yeah, I want the Dems to stand up. And we do have a progressive wing; there
are 107 co-sponsors in the House of Bill--that Jayapal/Dingell Bill. They're a major force; we
have to listen to them and some of our enemies are our own Democrats in the center who still
take credit for the Affordable Care Act, which has failed after nine years to control prices. It
helped for a while with getting people covered, but we still have 30 million uninsured and, 80
million or so underinsured, so it had no price controls, never intended. It pleased this coalition of
profiteers, corporate profiteers, but that's not good enough so.

Ralph Nader: I think you touched on the answer to my question.

John Geyman: Yeah.

Ralph Nader: If the Democrats in the House make the full arguments for single-payer full
Medicare for All, they are in effect, condemning all the holes and all the escape hatches, and all
the profiteering allowed under Obamacare, which is under attack by the Republicans who want
to repeal Obamacare. They can't have it both ways. We need a clean sheet here. Too many
people's lives, too many people's anxieties, too many people's livelihoods are at stake. Here's
another eye-opener, listeners in Dr. Geyman’s book. By the way, have you been invited to testify
in the House of Representatives? They now are controlled by the Democrats; they've had
hearings on single-payer, have they invited you?

John Geyman: No. I have had...

Ralph Nader: You have already written about eight books on the subject, a practicing physician,
an academic professor of medicine at a well-regarded medical school in Washington State--why
aren't they inviting you? How can they be authentic?

John Geyman: Well, I think we just touched on it, there's too much cowardice politically across
the Democratic spectrum. And the centrists are running things more than they should. And that's
bad; we've tried incremental little tweaks to the system for years and they don't work.

Ralph Nader: They don't work because the corporate lawyers for the health industry know how
to game it.

John Geyman: Right.

Ralph Nader: The corporate industry is ripping off Medicare 60 billion with a “b” a year,
listeners. That's your money; they are ripping off Medicaid in the tens of billions of dollars every
year; that's your money. Here's a quote from your book, that ought to open up the eyes of all our
listeners whose ears are already open, “the federal government now pays about 60% of total
healthcare costs in this country, a much higher figure than most people realize. Much of this has
been ongoing subsidies of the private health insurance industry, which receives $685 billion in
government subsidies each year and the Congressional Budget Office projects this number to
double in another 10 years.” So, they're already spending more of your money than would be
necessary to support a single-payer system, which comes in at half the price of what you're
paying now under the corporate system and the government subsidy system. So, I think we're
not going to get this bill through the House, much less the Senate unless there is a real informed
1% of the people out there, who summon their senators and representatives to town meetings,
thrash it all out and send them back with their instructions. Eighty years of dilly-dallying since
before Harry Truman was president are enough. Would you agree that we need town meetings
back where you are, where your two senators and representatives have to answer up and get
educated by you and others?

John Geyman: Absolutely. And it's interesting on let's say two other points right here. In 1912,
Teddy Roosevelt ran as a progressive for national health insurance. And it's been shut down
politically over all these years since then, but it's not a fringe idea. The other thing, we get all
kinds of reasons by the coalition and corporate coalitions against Medicare for All, one of which
is it'll be too disruptive. Well, I can tell you, I was in practice in a small town in Mount Shasta,
California in 1965 when Medicare came in; it wasn't disruptive at all.

Ralph Nader: One point you make in your book on page 177, is if you have full Medicare for
All, you're going to have more primary care doctors and there won't be this incentive to go
immediately into specialized medical practice and you point out that having more primary care
for patients is a great preventive approach--not just treatment approach and diagnostic approach.
You say access is more available and efficient, getting primary care. Receiving more preventive
services, costs are better contained with strong primary care; quality and outcomes of care
improved by primary care. Primary Care provides better coordination, integration of care, and
you spell it all out. You got to get this book listeners; how do they get the book? Because I want
to ask you one last question-- what's the difference between Obamacare and Trumpcare? Which
is the title of your book Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco
by Dr. John Geyman of Washington State. How can they get this book fast and have discussions
in their living rooms and town meetings back home and really start a rumble? So, when the
members come back for the Fourth of July recess from Congress, and they take off a month in
August, they get some real citizen heat and citizen light and they get back with their orders.

John Geyman: They can get it on Amazon right away. They can get it through bookstores; it's
out there.

Ralph Nader: Okay and also online probably, you don't want to give all the business to Amazon,
right John?

John Geyman: No, it's online. Sure.

Ralph Nader: Right. How do they get if they want to get it from you? What if they want you to
autograph a copy? Would you do that for them?

John Geyman: Well, of course, I would.

Ralph Nader: Because you are a great figure in American medicine and you get almost no press.

John Geyman: I have a website, johngeymanmd.org. So, they can find out more on all that.

Ralph Nader: That's G-E-Y-M-A-N, Geyman.

John Geyman: Dot.org, yeah. johngeymanmd.org, yeah.

Ralph Nader: Have you been on NPR or PBS in recent years?

John Geyman: No, no.

Ralph Nader: There you are. I'll bet you they've had 100 cosmetic surgeons dealing with
vanities of men and women on hundreds of times.

John Geyman: Yeah.

Ralph Nader: How do you contour the nose that's pointed, upward doctor? What an insane
system of media priorities, isn't it? I just finished an article that says “the worst is first and the
best is last” that I gave all kinds of examples, even in sports. The highest paid players are very
often nowhere near the best players but even in politics, and book writing, in movies, in the
professions, often the worst practitioners are the highest paid. And the loving, serving
practitioners, like serving needy, poor patients are going over to Africa and dealing with the
Ebola crisis, hardly get paid a living wage in the United States. So, what are you going to do
about that? We have to have millions of people listening to what you have to say in reading your
book. Maybe we can get some advice from Steve Skrovan and David Feldman; what about it?

David Feldman: Yes. Yes, I think Ralph; I think you let doctors off the hook. I can't get a
straight answer from doctors. There are only 152 some odd medical schools in this country. And
doctors have no right to play the victim in all this, why? You could solve this problem overnight.
Doctors have to stand up and say this is unacceptable. We have a disease in this country. It's
called our healthcare system. We're not going to practice medicine unless it's fixed. We're not
going to work for these health insurance companies. We're going to go on strike. Why aren't we
targeting the 150 some odd medical schools in this country who receive federal funding? There
are fewer medical schools than there are congressmen to target; I'm sorry, this is infuriating.

Ralph Nader: You think there should be more medical schools?

David Feldman: I think there should be more medical schools, but if you want to get universal
health insurance in this country, it's the doctors’ fault. It's their greed. They could stop it in a
second.

Ralph Nader: Is it the doctors or the American Medical Association, or both? What's the
answer, Dr. Geyman?

John Geyman: Well, the AMA has been against national health insurance forever. Actually, it’s
interesting, a little side story, in 1917 they had a social committee in the AMA, which came up
with “we need something like national health insurance”, and they sent that out to the state
chapters, which all came back, “no, no way ever”, so that's one little side thing, but yeah.

David Feldman: It’s like talking to an alcoholic and addressing all the issues other than the
drinking. If you can't get the doctors on board, it's not going to happen.

Ralph Nader: Well, majority of doctors already David, in poll after poll, are for single-payer
about 55%--higher percentage for nurses.

David Feldman: Yeah, I mean, so it's their fault.

Ralph Nader: What do you say?

John Geyman: It's our organizations that is the problem because they get bought off. But yeah,
exactly right, Ralph, most physicians are and other health professionals, especially leaderships
by nurses, is strongly for Medicare for All.

Ralph Nader: You have real touching examples in your book about how people, because they
couldn't afford a certain procedure, ended up worsening in their condition and dying. This is
America—land of the free and home of the brave. Before we conclude, what's the difference
between Trumpcare and Obamacare? Dr. John Geyman, author of the brand new book,
Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco.

John Geyman: Well, Trumpcare is much worse than Obamacare. The GOP and the Trump
administration has sabotaged Obamacare, but Obamacare wasn't fixing all of our problems
anyhow. And Republicans still haven't come up with a healthcare plan and they won't.

Ralph Nader: Actually, Trumpcare took millions of people off Medicaid. Can you explain that?

John Geyman: That's exactly what they've done and they want a handover, through state block
grants, the responsibility for Medicaid state by state. Well, a lot of the states cut it back to almost
nothing. In Alabama, I think if you have a family income much over $3,000 a year, you're not
eligible, stuff like that so.

Ralph Nader: It’s as if Trump is telling the poor, you know, let the poor die they don't vote for
him anyway?

John Geyman: That's what it is.

Ralph Nader: Well, Dr. John Geyman, the chief sponsor of your favorite bill in the House,
H.R.1384, is Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and she comes right from the district near where
you live.

John Geyman: Right.
Ralph Nader: Are you going to ask her to invite you to testify in the next hearing?

John Geyman: Yes, I will and I have been in touch with her and sending her the book and the
pamphlet and of course, all that and thanking her for leadership; that doesn't mean I've been
invited.

Ralph Nader: Well, if you do testify all kinds of reporters crowding around, interviewing you
and you'll reach the national media.

John Geyman: Yes.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much for all your good work Dr. John Geyman, the author of the
brand new book, which you can have, called Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We
Can Fix This Fiasco. And he doesn't let Obamacare off the hook one bit either. Thank you,
John.

John Geyman: Thank you for having me.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Dr. John Geyman. We will link to Struggling and
Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco at ralphnaderradiohour.com. Now we're
going to take a short break and check in with our Corporate Crime Reporter Russell Mokhiber
and when we come back, we welcome first-time guest Ben Burgis, who is going to tell us how to
argue with right wingers; back after this.

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., this is your
Corporate Crime Reporter “Morning Minute” for Friday, May 24, 2019. I'm Russell Mokhiber;
Health Canada, the governmental agency responsible for public health, is charting a new course
when it comes to dietary advice, particularly in the area of sugar substitutes. In a significant
departure from the past as well as from the U.S. approach, Canada's new food and dietary
guidelines released this year say zero calorie and low-calorie sugar substitutes are neither
necessary nor helpful. That's according to a report in The Washington Post. Sugar substitutes do
not need to be consumed to reduce the intake of free sugars, the guidelines say. The new
Canadian approach seems to be that if a food or beverage doesn't have a demonstrated health
benefit, it doesn't belong in your diet. New York University's Marion Nestle agrees. “Personally,
I follow a food rule not to eat anything artificial. So, these sweeteners are off my dietary radar.”
For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mokhiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. You know, a lot of people on the right fancy themselves as
eminently logical. In fact, one of the most widely read libertarian magazines is called Reason.
Well, our next guest is going to tell us how those of us on the left can fight logic with logic.
David?

David Feldman: Ben Burgis teaches philosophy at Rutgers, is the author of a new book entitled
Give Them an Argument: Logic For The Left. It's published by Zero Books, which produces a
YouTube channel that also features Professor Burgis. You can also see him every Tuesday
evening on The Michael Brooks Show. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, professor Ben
Burgis.

Ben Burgis: Thank you. It's great to be here.

Ralph Nader:Welcome indeed. Now you're known in Rutgers circles, and around the country
as a hard-boiled logician, driven by cold reason and facts, and not deterred by emotion. So how
come you dedicated your book to, in your words, “my beautiful wife, Jennifer, among her many
virtues, she's the best logic instructor I know.”

Ben Burgis: Because it's true. I would also point out that one of the things I do try to argue in
the book is that Star Trek got it wrong; there really is no conflicts between logic and emotion.
You know, it's entirely possible to care deeply, for example, about pursuing political and
economic justice, and also think carefully about how to achieve those goals.

Ralph Nader: How do you like that, David?

Ben Burgis: I didn't hear your laugh, David.

David Feldman: No, I'm listening.

Ralph Nader: All right. Let me ask you some side questions before we get into a couple of
areas dealing with how you deal with Ben Shapiro and Nate Silver.

Ben Burgis: Yeah.

Ralph Nader: MSNBC fancies itself as a liberal network in contrast to the Fox cable outlet, and
yet they never invite, with very few exceptions, progressives like Jim Hightower, Bill Greider,
me, even Mark Green. Rachel Maddow doesn't want to be anywhere near a progressive. You
think there's a legitimate distinction to be made between liberals and progressives, given that you
described yourself as a thinking person’s Marxist?

Ben Burgis: Yeah, I would make a distinction between liberals and leftists that I think that that
kind of MSNBC liberal like Rachel Maddow, really what you get/the message you get from them
is this kind of technocratic centrism, that political problems come from people just not having,
you know, being too ideological, not thinking hard enough about the sort of technocratic wonky
solutions to them. That's why Obama spent his whole first term trying to pursue a grand bargain
with Republicans, because he thought if everybody could just get over all this ideology then they
could just, you know, reason together, then they could figure out how to slash entitlements and
allegedly save Social Security and all that stuff. That's very different than the kind of left-wing
values that I care about.

Ralph Nader: Okay, so let's segue right into one of your most powerful points. You quote Nate
Silver, who for years was the analytic pollster and analyst for the New York Times on national
politics. And I guess he was pretty much in favor of Hillary Clinton, because he said on more
than one occasion, and you quote this in your book, Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left,
Nate Silver says, “Clinton and Sanders voted together the same way 93% of the time” and you
know to someone who doesn't know much about the facts of the two politicians’ record, that's a
pretty impressive argument that Hillary Clinton's pretty left. And then on page 78, you say 93%
is misleading. Here's some of the votes on which Hillary Clinton differed from Bernie Sanders.
1) The war in Iraq: Sanders voted against the invasion; Clinton voted for it. 2) A long series of
votes to continue funding for the war, which Sanders opposed and Clinton favored. 3) A long
series of trade deals, which Sanders opposed and Clinton favored. 4) The Patriot Act: Sanders
voted against it; Clinton voted for it. 5) Reauthorizing the Patriot Act: Sanders voted against it;
Clinton voted for it. 6) Guantanamo Bay: Clinton voted for a bill to force President Obama to
keep the facility open by blocking funds to transfer detainees; Sanders voted against it. 7) The
bank bailout: Clinton supported the bank bailout; Sanders opposed it. Now, why doesn't Nate
Silver pay a penalty and reduced credibility for pulling off something like this?

Ben Burgis: Well, he certainly should. If pundits ever had to pay a penalty in reduced
credibility, he might. It's also worth noting that a lot of those votes, obviously the list you just
rattled off, shows that not every vote is equally important, right? Even if those had been the only
ones that voted differently on that would still establish some pretty profound ideological
differences, but a lot of those votes don't even make it into his factoid, because they happened
when Bernie was in the House while Hillary was in the Senate. So, his factoid only takes into
account the two years they overlapped in the Senate. And my favorite part of this is almost like
a textbook example of how to mislead people with statistics. During the two years that they
overlapped in the Senate, Hillary Clinton was running for president, so presumably, she wasn't
showing up to the Senate every single day to cast votes.

Ralph Nader: Well, as a logician, you are peculiarly sensitive to the misuse of language, are you
not?

Ben Burgis: Well, I think that's an important part of making good arguments, which is one
appreciate.

Ralph Nader: Okay. So why do you call long-time prisoners in Guantanamo detainees?

Ben Burgis: I am just using the standard words, but I do see your point about that.

Ralph Nader: And why do you call social welfare services for the poor entitlements?

Ben Burgis: Well, again, those are, those are the standard terms, I would point out that whereas
entitlement has been, the phrase, the word entitlement has been toxified by right-wing
propaganda. On this point, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea that people are in
fact, entitled to these things. They paid into them; they are entitled to benefit from them even if
they hadn't paid into them; they would just be entitled as human beings to have a decent
retirement and all that sort of thing.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, because Social Security and Medicare, people pay into them. And they're
called entitlements, yet hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate welfare, bailouts, handouts,
giveaways, subsidies; the corporation didn't pay anything for them, and they get it all free and
that's called incentives. Why a Marxist like you uses capitalist words to shoot yourself in the
foot is beyond my comprehension. What's your response?

Ben Burgis: Well, I think that you need to pick your battles about whether to spend your time
arguing about words and every single paragraph, or whether to communicate to people the
language they already understand while trying to make what you see as the larger argument.

Ralph Nader: So, you don't believe in Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher, who says if
you don't have the right language, you can't get to second base? That's before baseball.

Ben Burgis: Yeah, I was gonna say, I'll be very surprised if Confucius used a baseball bat.

Ralph Nader: Well, let's get to something else that fascinated me in this book, which some
people may find a bit hard to read, but they can pick and choose. And it deals with 34-year-old
Harvard Law grad, fast-talking, right winger Ben Shapiro, who thinks he can argue everybody
into oblivion on a stage in front of an audience. Before you start dissecting his techniques briefly,
because we don't have that much time, would you debate Ben Shapiro? And would you predict
the outcome?

Ben Burgis: I would absolutely debate Ben Shapiro; Ben if you're listening, I'm down for that.
And I would predict that the outcome would be that he would do what he always does, which is
talk loud and talk fast and try to bulldoze through the substance of what's being said, but I hope
that somebody there would call him on it in real time--showing and explaining exactly where his
arguments go wrong--might make at least some of his more thoughtful followers think twice.

Ralph Nader: Is he afraid to debate people generally? He just likes to stand on the stage and
engage in soliloquy?

Ben Burgis: Yeah, he likes to debate 19-year-olds who don't really know what they're doing,
who ask him questions in Q&A on college campuses so they can use some progressive language
in a faltering way, and he could yell at them and again, kind of bulldoze through what they're
saying. And then somebody could make a little clip of it to put out on YouTube: “Ben Shapiro
destroys another snowflake liberal on campus.”

Ralph Nader: Tell us about his techniques briefly, what he gets away with, and how the New
York Times praised him in a glittering profile, quite apart from his vicious attacks on Palestinian
and Arabs, which is quoted in your book. It's a clear example of anti-Semitism against Arabs.
How does he get away with this in the New York Times and what's his technique? He's making
huge speech fees.

Ben Burgis: Yeah. So again, I think that a lot of Ben Shapiro’s shtick is just that he is very
loud, he sounds very confident, he talks very quickly, so you don't have time to stop and think
about what he's saying and in fact, if you look at his book--he wrote a little booklet about how to
argue with leftists and destroy them--which is, of course, a very overblown title, but if you read
the book, the vast majority of it isn't really about how to make good careful arguments, which is
what you care about, if you want to get to the truth; it's about how to rhetorically frame the
arguments. Despite this though, the New York Times had an article about him, which should
embarrass everybody involved with it called “the Cool Kids’ Philosopher”, where they refer to
him as the destroyer of weak arguments, which is really striking because if you read that article,
they only give one example of him allegedly destroying a weak argument, which is he's doing
one of his typical Q&A's on college campuses, a 22-year-old girl raises her hand and challenges
his position on transgender people's rights. And he says, “Oh, how old are you?” And she says,
“Twenty-two.” And he says, “Oh, can you just identify as sixty?” and she sputters for a second
because it takes her a moment to sort of think of what to say. And then he just starts ranting at
her, which, of course, if he actually cared about getting to the truth of the matter about carefully
thinking about it, then he'd pause and let her collect her thoughts. So, he could say, “Oh, is this
really a good analogy? Is being transgender really like being 22 and identifying as 60 or are
those two different things?” But he doesn't want to pause to give people time to think about stuff
like that. As to the Palestinian issue, where to be clear, he actually has a history of advocating
literal ethnic cleansing. He has an article that he wrote, where he says that all Palestinians, not
only in the occupied territories, but even in Israel proper, should be, he says, peacefully deported
from the country, and he's since then disowned that, but in a very half-hearted way, you know,
like he said, “Oh, that was dumb”, but he still opposes the existence of a Palestinian state. And
he still opposes, certainly giving Palestinians voting rights in Israel and if you oppose both of
those things, then you're saying that this is a group of people who should be kept as a permanent
underclass without basic legal or democratic rights.

Ralph Nader: And in fact, you quote, the title of his article is, “The Radical Evil of the
Palestinian Arab Population” and he says the Palestinian Arab population is rotten to the core, the
most evil population on the planet and he's still regaled in the New York Times. I mean, when is
this guy going to get his comeuppance by people like you, who could nail him to the wall, invite
him to Rutgers and dispatch him on the stage with your pure logic, reason, and ability to
demolish his hateful, racist, bigoted articles and views? Because he's had a history of
downplaying poverty and racial injustice; thinks the massive wealth gap between white and
black Americans doesn't have anything to do with racial injustice. A person on the left would
never get away with stuff like that. Can you have the student forum invite him to Rutgers? This
will be a showdown in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Ben Burgis: I think it's a fantastic idea. And yeah, clearly, this tells you something not only
about what's wrong with Ben Shapiro, but what's wrong with American media culture in general,
because what you can get away with saying about Palestinians and other Arabs, is clearly way
out of sync with what you can get away with saying about other groups; that level of open
racism, if directed towards almost anybody else, would certainly stop somebody from being
positively profiled in the New York Times and it's absurd that it doesn't stop somebody from
being positively profiled the New York Times when it’s directed against Palestinians.

Ralph Nader: He's been on a lot of media. Have you been on PBS and NPR for this book?

Ben Burgis: No, I’d like to be, but I have not.

Ralph Nader: David, you suggested that we have Ben Burgis on--author of the new book, Give
Them an Argument: Logic For The Left. You have any comments or questions?

David Feldman: Yeah. I was wondering if the fault is with the moderators of these shows
because in the adversarial nature of a trial, we can get to the truth and yet we don't see that in
debates where there are no moderators, enforcing penalties against logical fallacies. Why aren't
they improving debates, Ralph? You had the taboo debates and I noticed that even you didn't
have somebody throwing flags down on logical fallacies.

Ralph Nader: You're referring to the website debatingtaboos.org David, where we had four
subjects that really aren't debatable. They're sort of taboo, like anti-ballistic missile defense,
which is a phony unworkable, $14 billion a year project by the Pentagon and we did debate
whether anti-Semitism against Arabs is worse than anti-Semitism against Jews in the United
States and we had a very civil debate with two people on each side and you can decide for
yourself listeners. Go to debatingtaboos.org, but I think it's more than that David; it’s that
university and college campuses are often dead zones intellectually. There's no ferment; people
come and talk and most of the seats in the auditorium are empty. People who have serious
dramatic controversial issues that don't happen to be in the news, like the sexual harassment
issues are today, don't even get invited anymore. I remember speaking at Rutgers and they were
hanging from the rafters, at Princeton hanging from the rafters, at law school hanging from the
rafters. And the conditions then were nowhere near as bad as conditions are today for tens of
millions of people, and the expansion of empire, and the domination of global corporations over
almost every enclave of life in America. So, it goes right back; the students are not demanding
serious speakers. They like Seth Meyers, and other comedians, for whom they pay huge lecture
fees. What do you say about that Ben, what's the situation? What's the climate in the
universities these days--am I incorrect?

Ben Burgis: Well, I was gonna say if they want comedians and can pay huge fees, they should
invite David Feldman, but in any case, I think there is some truth to that. I think that probably
has a lot to do with the increasingly prevalent idea that the purpose of a college degree is just sort
of credentialing for the job market, to get skills that will please employers, which really de-
emphasizes the idea that it's a positive good in itself to spend a few years learning to read and
think and devoting yourself to ideas, which is something that both makes college campuses less
interested. And it's also important to talk about because I think one of the goals of the left that is
talked about now more in the last couple of years is everybody being able to go to college, right?
You know, that we want tuition-free public universities and I think that if we're going to do that,
we really have to think about how we're going to sell that, you know, to make a good honest
argument for it, because it can't be that Oh if everybody goes to college that everybody will get a
good middle-class job, but it will solve the economic inequality because the more people who
have that credential, the less it's worth in the job market; that's just how supply and demand
work. So, if we're going to make an argument for it, we really have to make an argument for the
positive good of going to college, the positive good of getting to have that enriching experience.
And you know, learning to read and think in that way and do things like go to see controversial
speakers and get excited about that.

Ralph Nader: Well, listen, we're out of time, Ben. We could go on and on. I hope you get other
media; I'll certainly recommend it. We've been talking with Ben Burgis, who is a professor of
philosophy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He's the author of the new
paperback, it's not that long to read, called Give Them an Argument: Logic For The Left. Thank
you very much. Ben Burgis.

Ben Burgis: Thanks, Ralph. It's an honor. I voted for you twice.

Ralph Nader: Thank you.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Ben Burgis. His book is Give Them an Argument:
Logic For The Left. We will link to that at ralphnaderradiohour.com. I want to thank our guests
again. Dr. John Geyman, Professor Ben Burgis; for those listening on the radio, that's our show;
podcast listeners, you're in for a treat. Stay tuned for the bonus material, we call the Wrap Up,
where we not only continue our conversation with Dr. Geyman and Professor Burgis, but we also
talk to, as a bonus, ocean conservationist David Helvarg, who you'll hear talking about putting
the blue in the Green New Deal. A transcript of this show will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio
Hour website soon after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: For Ralph’s weekly column, it's free to go to Nader.org; for more from Russell
Mokhiber go to corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: And Ralph’s got two new books out, the fable, How the Rats Re-Formed the
Congress; to acquire a copy of that go to ratsreformcongress.org and TO THE RAMPARTS how
Bush and Obama paved the way for the Trump presidency, and why it isn't too late to reverse
course. We will link to that also.

David Feldman: The producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and
Matthew Marin; our executive producer is Alan Minsky.

Steve Skrovan: Our theme music, “Stand Up, Rise Up”, was written and performed by Kemp
Harris; our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon.

David Feldman: Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour when we welcome back
Eric Steenstra of Vote Hemp and journalist Catherine Eban and her book Bottle of Lies, about the
generic drug boom. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you, David, Steve, Jimmy, and remember folks, if we want to get single-
payer, it's Congress. That's what John Geyman has been fighting for and has offered his new,
helpful book Struggling and Dying Under Trumpcare: How We Can Fix This Fiasco... We the
people turning Congress around, unbeatable!

***

Q. There is a difference between "progressives" and "leftists". Why do you cling to "Progressive," and not go all the way to calling yourself a "Leftist"?

[Ralph Nader] Because the "left" gets pigeonholed just the way as the "right" does, and they are not always right, and they're not always "left." So, a "progressive" argues on the facts, wherever they may fall. So it's not a pigeon-holed ideology. There's a lot of baggage to the words "left" and "right." A lot of baggage. It's too categorical for an evidence-based mind.

Q. You were never tempted by Marxism when you were young?

[Ralph Nader] No, because there's too many premeditated decisions. That's why people say "neo-Marxist," or "I'm a modern Marxist." When somebody says, "I'm a Marxist," all I think is they are people who pay a great deal of weight to economic aspects shaping political and economic reality, and concentrated power. The point is, power can be corrupted regardless of whether it's public or private, and there's plenty of history to demonstrate this. So once you pigeon-hole yourself, you don't want to admit one or the other. When you say you're a "capitalist," Wall Street is always right. When you say you're a "socialist", you're often pigeon-holed into saying whatever government does is always right. And that's not true. Concentrated power, wherever it is, produces abuses, no matter what it's configuration. And that doesn't mean they are all on the same plane of abuse in any given time in history. They're not. Like right now, corporate capitalism is producing the most horrendous prices to the accumulation of profit in the history of capitalism: empire, domination, destruction of freedom of contract, perpetuation of poverty. Those are the prices of profit. Nanotechnology, biotechnology, are unregulated. Artificial intelligence is unregulated. The price of corporate profit is staggering, and that's not true of socialism any more, because they aren't in charge.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 300: The Trial of the Cuban Five
December 7, 2019

Ralph welcomes legendary trial lawyer, Martin Garbus, who discusses his book “North of Havana: The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the Trial of the Cuban Five.” Plus Ralph answers your questions!

Martin Garbus is an attorney who is expert at every level of civil and criminal trial, and litigation. He has appeared before the United States Supreme Court in leading First Amendment cases and is the author of Tough Talk: How I Fought for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way and the book that is the subject of this program: North of Havana: The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the Trial of the Cuban Five.

“For one thing, it (this story) shows how our government can subvert the press and interfere with our jury system. It chronicles an unprecedented pollution of the American legal system in order to advance a political cause. For another – and this may be the real takeaway for us now – it reminds us that facts matter and truth matters and that when people who believe that get involved, there are no hopeless causes. In fact, sometimes the innocent guys, after paying an awful price, win.”
Martin Garbus, author of North of Havana: The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the Trial of the Cuban Five

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 300 TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with
the main of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello, everybody. Hello, Steve.

Steve Skrovan: David Feldman is actually traveling today so he won't be joining us, but we still
have a stellar show. Our guest today is attorney Martin Garbus. Now, Martin Garbus is one of
America's legendary trial lawyers. He specializes in First Amendment issues and fighting the
arbitrary, wrongful exercise of power, especially by governments. In the past, he's either
represented or been associated with historical figures such as Daniel Ellsberg, Cesar Chavez, and
Soviet dissident, Andre Sakharov. He's here today to tell us a story of a miscarriage of justice, who
for our regular listeners might contain echoes of the story told by Israeli dissident, Miko Peled,
who talked to us about the railroading of a group of Arab Americans known as the “Holy Land
Five”. Well, Mr. Garbus tells the story of another miscarriage of American justice that also
involves five victims. These five happen to be from Cuba. The book is entitled North of Havana:
The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the Trial of the Cuban Five. One
reviewer called it “a revealing tale of politicized justice, inhuman prisons and backdoor
diplomacy.”

And as always, we will find time to squeeze in a corporate crime report from our fearless corporate
crime reporter, Russell Mohkiber, and then answer some listener questions. But first, let's hear the
untold story of dirty politics and secret diplomacy. Martin Garbus is an attorney who is expert at
every level of civil and criminal trial, and litigation. He has appeared before the United States
Supreme Court in leading First Amendment cases and is the author of Tough Talk: How I Fought
for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way and the book we're going to talk about today,
North of Havana: The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the Trial of the Cuban
Five. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Martin Garbus.

Martin Garbus: Thank you very much.

Ralph Nader: Welcome indeed. You've been through a lot over your many decades as a lawyer
for often unpopular causes or powerless causes.

Martin Garbus: Yeah.

Ralph Nader:, I saw in your book, this really surprised me. I mean, it's not surprising that you
were roughed up in some of the cases where just going to court with crowd's screaming at you. As
you said, in the farmlands of Delano, California, while representing Cesar Chavez, the great leader
who organized farm workers, you've said you were “beaten, jailed, held, and threatened with
contempt.” Those are your words. So let's get to the Cuban Five. It's actually not that complicated
a struggle and I don't want our listeners think it’s too complicated for them to follow, but it was in
the context of years in the 1990s and before of efforts by people in this country to overthrow Fidel
Castro; to sabotage his regime. And then something happened in 1998. Do you want to start it
there? Or you can start anywhere you want. Just explain the parties here before we get into the
details.

Martin Garbus: Okay. Basically, Castro and Clinton agreed that they should not let the Cuban
right-wing create a provocation down in Miami that might lead to people getting hurt, planes or
soldiers, et cetera, et cetera. So, through Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Castro and Clinton exchanged
words where they indicated they would try and limit the activities of the Cuban right-wing as they
used Miami as a base to go to Cuba and kill people, blow up buildings, et cetera, et cetera. The
relationship worked for a while. Clinton said that he had the ability to stop the Cuban right-wing
from doing it, from taking off planes or going off in boats. As we all know, Miami is a separate
city-state and Clinton did not have the control that he thought. So, the anti-Cuban activities with
deaths and bombings continued. Ultimately, there was a group called Brothers to the Rescue who
flew planes over Cuba. They invaded Cuban airspace and they were not allowed to do that. Clinton
tried to stop it. Clinton revoked the licenses of the people who were flying. Nonetheless, they
continued to fly. Then what causes this case is three planes flew, Brothers to the Rescue, American
right-wing, Cuban right-wingers flew over Cuba. They indicated they would go to go to the Cuban
airspace. Both the Cuban and the American government told them not to do that. They did that.
Two MIGs shot down American planes. Four people were killed. There's then a murder case. I
was involved in that murder case. They alleged that some of the Cubans who were then working
with the FBI, to infiltrate the Cuban right-wing, were guilty of the crimes. And that was the trial.
Gerardo Hernandez was charged with conspiracy to murder. It's hard to imagine as you tell the
story, and I’ve told the story beyond the books, is the extent of cooperation that there was between
the Americans in Miami and the Cubans in an attempt to stop the Cuban right-wing. I think there
are, as you look at the case, it kind of moves it three levels. It moves at the level of the case itself.
Then it moves at the level of the politics of Florida. Ultimately, an indictment is bought against
these guys, my client, in May of 1999. That's the warm-up to Bush against Gore. Then you have
the Bush against Gore election. Florida, more or less, gives the election over to Bush. And what
the book also talks about is the years since then and the constant attempt by the Republicans to
whom Florida is essential if they're going to win a presidential election; to Trump, whom Florida
is essential if he's going to win an election. The attempt to cultivate the right-wing Cuban vote.

Ralph Nader: Let's back up. We're talking with Martin Garbus, author of the new book, North of
Havana: The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the Trial of the Cuban Five.
Let's back up in just two ways, Martin. On October 6, 1976 as you relate on page 41 and I'm going
to read this. “On October 6th, 1976, a Cuban plane, Cubana Flight 455, took off from Barbados
and headed toward Havana carrying 73 people including 24 fencers from the Cuban youth team
that had just triumphed in the Central American Championships. Flight 455 blew up midair off the
coast of Barbados. Those arrested for the crime told the police it was Bosch and Luis Posada
Carilles, an exiled Cuban militant and former CIA operative, who had planned the destruction of
the aircraft.” Well, was that ever verified? Was there an official report on who sabotaged that plane
with the bomb in midair?

Martin Garbus: Yes, I think it's very clear that it was those two people, Bosch and Carilles. And
one of the things in the book is, although that was in ‘76 and the incident I'm talking about in the
book is 20 years later, Bosch is still a very, very powerful figure. And Bosch is one of the people
who is still operating 20 years later with all the...CIA knew who he was; the CIA worked with
him. And there was another man named Jorge Mas Canosa who was “the suit”, the money. And I
just came back from Miami a little while ago. There's Jorge Mas Canosa Boulevard there. So
Canosa, Bosch and Carilles were terrorists. And ultimately, Bosch was never convicted of this
crime; nor was Carilles. So that you had the same people functioning there for 20, 30 years and
you had the attempt of Clinton working with Castro to try and stop incidents like that October 6,
1976 bombing, which killed 73 people.

Ralph Nader: Well, what happened was Castro, after taking all these incidents--attempts to
sabotage his regime, et cetera--he finally created something he called a Wasp network and he sent
five spies, Cubans, to Florida to try to infiltrate the anti-Castro movement and report back to Cuban
intelligence, whether there was going to be another assault, another bomb, another attack or
whatever. And those are your clients. Those five men are your clients.

Martin Garbus: Yes.

Ralph Nader: Now, before you became their lawyer, they were convicted in a Federal District
Court and the appeal in the Circuit Court on bank, that is it failed. The three Circuit Court judges
wanted to reverse the conviction because they thought it was not a fair trial. And so the government
took it up to the full Circuit Court of Appeals who said, yeah, it's okay. And they went to prison
and a number of lawyers represented them. And in 2002, was it? You took over as the advocate
and so what proceeded from there?

Martin Garbus: Well, ultimately in December of 2014--I'm really going over a lot of years--you
have the rapprochement with Raul Castro and Barack Obama. And one of the things that the
Cubans insisted on was the release of the jailed men. My clients had had a horrific time in jail, 16
years, a third of it in solitary. You and I both know that the image in solitary as just a room without
light is only one-tenth of the story. What they can do to people in solitary can be horrific. And
these guys, Cuban alleged killers of American heroes, got the worst of the American prison system.
And that is discussed. That's the period from let's say 2002 to 2014. So Cuba had always insisted
that these guys were innocent, and they wanted them returned. When I got into the case and it
continued, the possibility of them ever being returned was zero. Except what happened was Alan
Gross, an American CIA, USAID [United States Agency for International Development] spy
was
arrested in Nevada and another American spy had been arrested previously. So as the
rapprochement talk was going on and the publicity was going on, there were also these negotiations
that I was involved in to get my clients released from the American jail to go back to Cuba. And
America wanted to get Alan Gross back. On December 2014, when there's the rapprochement you
saw Raul was on TV; Barack was on TV. But rather more quietly, my guys got off in Nevada
having been released from jail and Alan Gross was returned to Washington. So the book deals with
the trial that deals with the legal stuff, and then it deals at the end with Trump's attempts to make
sure that the Cuban vote would always be his. At the time of the Bush against Gore election, the
right-wing in Miami posted big signs saying we have remembered. And they gave the names of
the four people here as well as the young man, Elian Gonzales, which is a related but different
story. So it's very clear that it played a very large role in Bush against Gore. The other thing I
should say is three prosecutors refused to indict these guys. Ultimately, a Reagan appointee comes
in; he indicts these guys in 1999 right before Bush against Gore. And what the book then details
also is the attempts of Trump over the years--the book ends a period of time ago, but certainly a
lot has happened--Trump's attempt to strangle Cuba and the vote-getting that helps him win.

Ralph Nader: Yes, and he did that by restricting Americans from traveling to Cuba, by restricting
trade with Cuba that American farmers wanted very strongly to have exporting food products, et
cetera. But you said you wrote this book for more than one reason, not only to defend your clients,
but you said, I'm going to quote you. “The best reason for telling a story about an event that
occurred two decades ago, and was after struggle and hardships successfully resolved, is the
important lessons that it offers to us. For one thing, it shows how our government can subvert the
press and interfere with our jury system. It chronicles a unprecedented pollution of the American
legal system in order to advance a political cause. For another--and this may be the real takeaway
for us now--it reminds us that facts matter, and truth matters and that when people believe, that get
involved, there are no hopeless causes. In fact, sometimes the innocent guys, after paying an awful
price, win.” And in the book, you mention that our government actually paid reporters to fabricate
op-ed pieces in Florida newspapers. Can you elaborate that?

Martin Garbus: I think that's one of the biggest takeaways in the book. We hear the word fake
news. It was fake news long before Donald Trump came around and in this particular case, the
federal government--in order to get the jury influence that was going to try the Cuban Five--sent
vast, vast sums of money. One of the things you had down there was Radio Marti. That was $15
million a year. That was under the control of this man, Canosa. There's never been a full accounting
about how much of that money was devoted to CBS, NBC and other newscasters. We do know
that the Miami Herald, a very fine newspaper, in 2006, long after the trial, long after the conviction,
learned that the people who were writing about the case itself received large sums of money from
the American government. One journalist in one year received $280,000. So what you had is
extraordinary sums of money being paid to the media so that the jury would be extraordinarily
influenced by all of these false stories. There were stories about Castro giving hallucinogenic to
people [and] false stories about what some of these defendants said. So the massive amount of
money, and it got beyond the Miami Herald. It got to the local news stations. For example, one of
the things that the judge tried to do was to make sure the jury would be protected from the
community. So what the media did is they would follow the jurors out during the day. They
photographed them getting into their cars and had their license plates. So within a very short time,
the judge, decent judge; it was her first criminal case. She could in no way cope with either the
legal issues or the politics of the case. Within a few days, everybody in the community knew who
these jurors were. And the motions for change of venue failed. Although certain judges, as you
kind of summarize, felt that the convictions should be reversed because of it. But the massive
amount of money used to influence the jury; it is unprecedented in America that that kind of money
was used. And we all know that that kind of money is available tomorrow to anybody who wants
to use it to also. In a way, this is a precursor; I mean this stuff has happened before, but never on
this enormous scale because there was so much at stake.

Ralph Nader: Let's ask a question that our more skeptical listeners might be asking right now.
Apart from three federal judges overruled by their colleagues saying that they did not get a fair
trial, that the atmosphere for any kind of fair jury trial in South Florida against anybody who was
working for the Castro regime was, to put a mildly, prejudicial. Now suppose our listeners are
asking you, Martin Garbus, two questions. These Cuban Five we're acknowledged spies. They
were sent on an espionage mission from Castro's Cuba to infiltrate what they saw as ongoing year
after year violent anti-Castro actions using bombs and other weapons. So two questions: one how
did they get into this country legally? This is the Cuban Five led by Gerardo Hernandez. And
second, why did you think they were innocent? They were on an espionage mission.

Martin Garbus: Well, two things. It's hard to understand—and I've spoken to experts and all that
stuff—exactly the whole question of the exchange of information of the FBI and Cuban spys; for
a lot of people, it's hard to accept. But the fact is that both Clinton and Castro wanted it to happen.
There were meetings where the FBI went to Havana and during the Clinton period where
information was exchanged between the Cuban Five, the Cuban intelligence information and the
FBI with respect to these Cuban spies. That is very difficult for many people to accept, but it
happened. It happened because Castro’s Cuba both did not want to see planes blown out of the air,
as you said before, and they wanted to tamp down the Cuban militancy. Now, the next question
you've asked is you have these Cuban spies; how can you be sure that they were not involved in
the shoot down? Or should not have been charged with conspiracy to murder? There are two things.
One is a story that I knew when I wrote the book and the other is something, I did not know at all,
which I'll now share for the first time. The Cubans spies were low-level people. These guys did
not have the authority to authorize MIGs over Havana to shoot down American planes and nor did
they know of the right-wing planes that were flying that day. So factually, there was no way that
these people were in any way responsible--they were low level troops--to blow three planes out of
the air and kill them. MIGs shoot down planes; it's beyond something they could do.

Ralph Nader: People should know that these were not passenger planes like American Airlines.
They were Cessna small planes hired by anti-Castro operatives to invade Cuban airspace and try
to get the US involved in another imbroglio with Cuba the way President Kennedy got involved,
to his later regret, in the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Martin Garbus: Exactly. And what they would do when the planes were there, the Cessnas--you
know, two people in a plane, three Cessnas--they would radio down to Cuba, look, we can pierce
Castro's air defenses; you can arrive and you can overthrow the government. If we can do this, you
can do that. They dropped leaflets all over the place. They tried to drop bombs; the bombs never
got beyond the water. And in fact, one of the times one of the planes ran out of gas. They landed
in Havana. Castro gave them gas and they came back. So that's what they were doing. And these
were people who, as you say, not American Airlines. No, they were right-wing Cubans who were
trying to cause a provocation. Now there were three planes, Basulto [José] is the leader of the
operation. He takes the three planes over Cuba. He sees the MIGs coming. He turns around. He
leaves the other two guys there. They’re far deeper into Cuba. The other two guys get the other
two planes where four people get shot down and get killed. Basulto, and you can hear it on the
radio, is delirious in a way with happiness. He has done it. He has caused the provocation. And the
other story I wanted to tell you, which was told to me by Rose Styron and it's a very moving story.

Ralph Nader: The novelist William Styron.

Martin Garbus: Yes, the wife of the novelist. That they had been invited to Cuba after the Bush
against Gore election and Castro—and in the room was Arthur Schlesinger, Arthur Miller and
other people. It was a literary event in Havana and it would seem that the event was set up so that
Castro could then meet with these people and stories about that that easily are quite wonderful.
But one of the things that Castro said, is he says Herodotus, the great Greek historian said that
every great leader makes one foolish mistake and Castro said, I made a mistake. He said, I made a
mistake in ordering the shoot down. And that's because he had Clinton there. And there was a
possibility that under Clinton that things would have got remarkably different with Castro and that
event as a result of the shoot down, A) that possibility was lost forever. And secondly, whether
you say the shoot down or other events, irrevocably drove Florida into the Republican line for
presidential elections. And they're still trying to dig out from it. But every election, the killing of
those men comes up and it's an extraordinary rallying cry to the Cuban right-wing. So it's
something that we live with even today. You mentioned some of the things that Trump has done.
I met about 10 days ago with the representatives of the Cuban government, high levels without
giving names, of the Cuban government. And what they were saying was the extent to which
Trump, throughout the world and his party, has affected the Cubans’ ability to do business with
anybody anywhere--that their ability to go through banks has been limited. So it's not just, you
know, the flights aren't there or you know, they also created a series of lawsuits now whereby
under American law allegedly, if your property was taken away in ‘59 by Castro, you can now file
a lawsuit in Miami and you can try and get back the assets that you lost in ’59. This is an attempt
in a way to get the younger Cubans--who are not as militant against Castro, in fact, are more
conciliatory with Castro--to have a vested interest in winning these lawsuits so they get some
money for it. It's a brilliant thing on behalf of Trump to try to erode the younger Cuban support to
Castro.

Ralph Nader: When I had a long interview with Fidel Castro in Cuba in 2002, it was just a few
weeks after John Bolton in the state department, without the authorization of Secretary of State,
Colin Powell, who despises Bolton, emitted a bald lie. He said Castro's regime was developing
biological and chemical warfare. Well, you know, that like totally freaked out Castro because he
saw it coming. Oh, here we go again; a pretext for an attack on Cuba. So he was not paranoid at
all about decade after decade, the US government directly and indirectly, trying to overthrow him.
But on the back of your book, there's a statement by long-time Harvard law professor, Charles
Nesson, talking about your book and he says, “This haunting story of Cuba-US relationships takes
us into the deepest parts of today's American security system and exposes our pseudo-legal judicial
process. Today, more than ever, every American must hear what Martin Garbus says.” Well, this
is not an outlier case. All over the United States there is lawlessness among runaway prosecutors.
There is lawlessness among giant corporations engaging in a corporate crime, fraud and abuse.
And as I noted in an essay for Lapham’s Quarterly, lawlessness has become the norm by the rich
and powerful and the politically entrenched. What's your view, broader view on this, Martin? So
people don't think this is an exceptional situation.

Martin Garbus: At the end of my book, I say, talking about this case, that this is part of my life—
I hate to quote myself, “working in the lawless dark world of the law.” I think that what you were
aware of at the very beginning of your career, which we are all now much more aware of, is the
lawlessness of the legal system. One of the things that I fought for a great deal and lost; I tried in
the 80s and 90s, to get, let's say the left involved in the fight over judgeships. And by and large,
that was a total failure. Federalists won. The conservatives won. Liberals still held onto the view
of the legal system as one that administers a great deal of justice. The right wing was far, far
smarter, and they spent a good deal of time and money in making sure of the people who would
ultimately be sitting in judgments on these cases. The judge who ultimately was the definitive
judge in this case was a man named Pryor. And before he was appointed to the Circuit, he said
“the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law was Roe against Wade. I will never
forget January 22nd, 1973, the day seven members of our highest court ripped the constitution and
ripped the life out of millions of unborn children.” Second worst decision he said was Miranda.
This was the judge, ultimately appointed by Bush, who was the definitive judge in this particular
case. I mean, I think you and I would both agree that one of the great problems in the future is the
extent to which the federal judiciary today and tomorrow will be wholly owned by the Republican
Party.

Ralph Nader: In that note, just a contemporary issue here, Bruce Fein and I just sent a letter to
the American Bar Association. And we said, “where are you on the most impeachable president in
American history, Donald Trump?” In 2005, 2006, the American Bar Association, with a half a
million lawyers being members, was run by a corporate lawyer, Michael Greco. And look at the
courageous thing he did. He assembled three task forces to study three impeachable offenses by
George W. Bush. And he sent the reports to Bush and Cheney in the White House. Now we have
an even more impeachable president, except nothing can compare with the criminal war of
aggression against Iraq and Libya under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. You know,
undeclared wars, unappropriated, unauthorized funding for the Libyan overthrow and an
undeclared war that has killed over a million Iraqis, millions of refugees, and thousands of
American soldiers by Bush and Cheney starting in March 2003. But apart from that, the ABA has
been silent. The lawyers of America, with few exceptions, have been silent on contempt of
Congress by Trump--sexual predator Trump, serial fabricator and liar--about matters of state and
matters of grave importance by Trump. Appropriating funds without congressional authority by
Trump; illegal warring overseas by Trump. And taking from Alexander Hamilton's explanation of
high crimes and misdemeanors, being abuse to the public trust--huge abuse of the public trust.

Martin Garbus: Ralph, you failed to mention Mr. Barr.

Ralph Nader: And the same thing with his attorney general, who instead of being an attorney
general of the United States, he behaves like the lawless lawyer for Donald J. Trump. So I have
never seen a crisis of lawlessness so deep and so pervasive, from the corporate to the prosecutorial
criminal injustice system in our jails, prisons to the raw, consistent, institutionalized violation by
a runaway president under both parties; not to mention the abdication of constitutional duty by the
US Congress, who has in effect, made this American-style monarchical office in the White House
possible. Can we get your views on that?

Martin Garbus: Yeah. You said it far more eloquently than I could. I think that there may come
a time when America may get disabused of the idea that the legal system can protect against any
of these things. I think that horrendous activities, you know, and you and I both don't know yet,
the full extent of Trump's foreign policy and exactly what it's going to lead to in the various places
in the world. I mean, we got a little sense that we already knew at this latest meeting in London
when we hear all the remarks that he makes about this totally transactional president. I mean, I
agree totally with what you said, and I could not say it any better than you said it.

Ralph Nader: And I just realize I left out self-enrichment--violation of the Emoluments Clause.
No other president has done such egregious violations in so many of these areas. I mean, most
presidents put their assets in a blind trust and never talk about it and don't even know what's going
on. He owns these hotels. He has refused to sever his relationship of ownership even to give
ownership to his family because he's so greedy. And he promotes his properties in Florida to
foreign leaders for meetings and his golf course in Scotland and his Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania
Avenue here. So we have a problem with the impeachment proceedings in Congress not going
forward with a full, strong hand, if the Democrats just keep it to the Ukraine issue and a general
obstruction of justice. They have told the American people they're interested in impeachment, not
in removal in the Senate, because those two are not gonna move the Republicans in the Senate.

Martin Garbus: I totally agree with you. It seems to me that the cases that are now pending, both
in the Circuit Courts and on their way to the Supreme Court, which deal was money, money,
money. Whether it be Deutsche Bank or his accountants, it seems to me that that certainly should
be pursued. Because I think you and I both—well, certainly I see, that the impeachment proceeding
today as it's going ahead, is a loser in the Senate. And I think you and I both are--as
incomprehensible as Trump is--it's easy to see him as an aberration. But then you look at the rest
of the Republican Party--Senators[John Neeley] Kennedy in Louisiana, Lindsay Graham [of South
Carolina], [Kentucky Senator Mitch] McConnell. It's not just Trump as we both understand. It's
the entire corruption of the American political system!

Ralph Nader: And the press is playing along and they’re getting ratings because of Trump's out
rages and he knows it. He taunts them. He says you can't not cover me day after day because I'm
good for your business. The book is North of Havana by Martin Garbus who has represented so
many clients so courageously, testing the rule of law, testing due process of law in the United
States. And this book is [subtitled] The Untold Story of Dirty Politics, Secret Diplomacy, and the
Trial of the Cuban Five. The Cuban Five are now back in Cuba, living normal lives as the result
of an arrangement between Barack Obama and the Castro regime in 2014. Has Hollywood shown
any interest in this case of great intrigue?

Martin Garbus: There's a film called The Wasp Network, which was made by Oliver Assayas,
and I find it to be a wonderful film that opened in Cannes, and as a matter of fact, this coming
weekend, December 14, is the fifth anniversary of the Cuban Five being released. And this film is
being shown in Havana this Saturday night. It's a wonderful, wonderful movie. I think it's going
on Netflix. It doesn't have an American distributor. It's a very sympathetic portrayal. What it does
is shows the Cuban side landing here, doing what they're doing and then being arrested. It doesn't
deal with the trial. It deals with what these men sacrificed. It's got Penelope Cruz, other people in
it. It's a wonderful movie, I think. And I guess it will be shown in the United States next year.

Ralph Nader: Well. Steve, do you have any questions as we close?

Steve Skrovan: No, actually. My question that I was ready to ask was about where they are now,
and you've just answered that, so...

Martin Garbus: Cuban Five is all in Havana. Gerardo is the vice-rector of the school that he went
to school at. They all are significant. If you look in the book or elsewhere, to go to prison and not
get infractions is impossible. You can go to prison for 10 minutes and if you look the wrong way,
these guys, all of them, were imprisoned and never got an infraction. In other words, they were so
self-controlled, so disciplined that that story itself is a remarkable story of what these guys went
through in prison and how they kept their lives together.

Ralph Nader: One backup, I have to clarify. Didn't Alan Gross deny that he was a CIA operative
in Cuba?

Martin Garbus: Well, two things. First of all, he denied it. And then he tried to, through various
groups, put pressure on the American government to get him out. The American government failed
to do it. He then sued the American government and he claimed in that lawsuit that he had been
USAID, CIA; you left me here; you didn't tell me about all the dangers. You didn't tell me. So he
had a lawsuit against the United States government, which he got a substantial settlement for. So
yes, he had the original denial. He then said, “I was that person; you sent me down here and you
didn't protect me.” Something like that has never happened before.

Ralph Nader: You're saying in his legal complaint against the US government, he admitted [that]
he not only worked for USAID [US Agency for International Development], but he had worked
for the CIA?

Martin Garbus: Yes.

Ralph Nader: All right. Well, thank you very much, Martin. This is very good.

Martin Garbus: Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: When the book came out, did you get an interview on NPR or PBS or any media?

Martin Garbus: No.

Ralph Nader: I always ask that question of our authors, so our listeners realize that they're not
getting the full story even on public broadcast media.

Martin Garbus: No, I think the interest in Cuba has been close to zero the last four months. It
doesn't exist.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Well, there's another question of the international law violation of sanctions
whose brunt comes in on innocent civilians in the targeted country.

Martin Garbus: You know, Cuba, after Russia pulled out, was in desperate economic situation.
Right now, what America is doing is effectively strangling the Cuban people. They don't have fuel
for the winter coming up. They have cut off any banking resources. Other countries and
corporations, for example, something like Marriott, if they would continue to do the hotel business
there, they will face action by the United States. So the United States has created this extraordinary
web aimed at strangling the people of Cuba. It's a terrible story.

Ralph Nader: It's also a violation of international law.

Martin Garbus: Absolutely.

Ralph Nader: International law says you can apply sanctions, say to a military dictatorship. And
if it affects the civilians, it's got to do so with minimal effect as a side effect. But this is huge effect
on civilians in Cuba.

Martin Garbus: Yes. This is going at individual people who do business with Cuba, making it
impossible, because the American government will impose penalties on the Marriots or anybody
else who tries to keep Cuba alive. There has rarely been a strangulation like this, certainly never
by America. It’ wasn’t like this, even under Kennedy, et cetera, et cetera.

Ralph Nader: Including export of food, medicine, medical equipment, and other necessities of
life.

Martin Garbus: Yes.

Ralph Nader: Well, thank you very much, Martin.

Martin Garbus: Thank you, Ralph.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Martin Garbus. We will link to his work at
ralphnaderradiohour.com. When we come back, Ralph is going to answer some listener questions.
But first, let's find out what's going on in the shadowy world of corporate criminality with our
corporate crime reporter, Russell Mohkiber.

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., this is your Corporate
Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Friday, December 6, 2019. I'm Russell Mohkiber. New Jersey
has demanded that Uber pay $649 million for years of unpaid employment taxes for its drivers,
arguing that the ride-hailing company has misclassified the workers as independent contractors
and not as employees. The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued the
request this week to Uber and a subsidiary, Raiser, after an audit uncovered $530 million in back
taxes that had not been paid for unemployment and disability insurance from 2014 to 2018.
Because of the nonpayment, the state is seeking another $110 million in interest. That's according
to a report in the New York Times. The case represents the first time that a local government has
sought back taxes from Uber, which has hundreds of thousands of drivers in the United States. For
the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mohkiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Let's do some listener questions. This first one comes from
Larry Kenemore, and he says he's referring to our show about the drinking water with Seth Siegel.
He says, “Great program you had on drinking water. However, you only touched on the problem.
We have researched drinking water for the last 10 years and tested drinking water ourselves in
numerous municipalities. There are more problems with pharmaceuticals, which are not regulated
at all,” he says, “in the drinking water than the subject you talked about. You are drinking a cocktail
pharmaceuticals with every glass of drinking water.” And there's some reference here to Stat-
Medicament Disposal Corporation. So what do you say to that?

Ralph Nader: Well, it's probably one of the private testing companies that people can go to supply
them with local drinking water. Well, that's a nightmare scenario. Hospitals are trying to do
something about a problem that they have been ignoring for years; it's flushing medicines down
the toilet or down the sink. And of course, a lot of people get rid of their pills that they're not using
and other medications down the sink. And if it goes into a river or a lake, that is the source of
drinking water for a municipality, the municipalities technology, by and large, is geared to dealing
with bacteria and dealing with heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, and lead. And not really able
to deal with medication residues. So this is a problem that a lot of drinking water safety
administrators don't like to talk about just because it's so scary and so alarming. And it's something
we have to face up to. Now I think the questioner overgeneralized. Obviously, if you have drinking
water from deep wells, you're not likely to get pharmaceutical residue in these water systems, but
it is a really serious problem.

Steve Skrovan: Yeah, I have a bottle of blood pressure pills; I think Valsartan ones or Losartan
ones, which were taken off the market for being tainted and it's still sitting in my medicine cabinet
because I don't know where to take it and I don't want to just throw it in the garbage or flush it
down. What would you advise people who have pills themselves that are no longer useful or they're
no longer using? How did they get rid of those?

Ralph Nader: Well, there are municipalities who have periodic collections. Like on Saturday, you
can bring your medicines to X location and presumably, they know how to dispose of these
medicines in a safe manner. I don't have a website to give people, but I'm sure you can google the
right words and find out whether they have such a disposal program periodically for people to take
their haul of unused medicines to.

Steve Skrovan: Well, very good. Thank you for that, Larry. Our next question comes from Neil
Harris and the subject is progressives appearing on right-wing media. It says, “Dear Mr. Nader, I
would like to hear your thoughts on progressives and leftists appearing on right-wing media. Do
you think leftists lend legitimacy to the right by appearing on these shows, especially shows like
Tucker Carlson, which go beyond normal conservatism and into white nationalism? Carlson uses
very dangerous rhetoric against immigrants and the homeless.” For example, he says, “Glenn
Greenwald, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Tracy, and others appear on Carlson’s show fairly frequently.
Carlson does actually let his guest speak without interruption for the most part.” And he'd also like
to know your thoughts on progressives having articles posted on sites like Unz Review, which
carries literal neo-Nazis. “What are the ethics and morals of this?” he asks. He says, “I know this
is pretty complicated for a brief answer on your show, but I've always looked to Mr. Nader for
moral clarity.” And he's also, I'll just add this, he says, “Lastly, I'd just like to thank Mr. Nader for
his long-inspiring career of activism. I picked up his book, Crashing the Party after the 2000
election and it really changed the way I looked at the world!”

Ralph Nader: Well, first of all, Neil, I believe that the answer to bad speech is more free speech.
So I'm not a person who advocates censorship under the First Amendment. Second, I always like
to go on right-wing shows because I want to persuade some right-wing viewers or listeners of
proper policies. So obviously, if a leftist goes on Tucker Carlson’s show and doesn't know how to
argue very strongly on the person's behalf, that just strengthens Tucker Carlson's viewpoint. But if
you feel that you could make a strong argument for your case, why not go on all these shows? It
throws the host on the defensive if you have any kind of authenticity and conviction in what you're
saying, and that's a good thing. So I never say to myself, I'm not going to go on this show or that
show, with one exception. I will not go on shows where people overtalk, cut you off after 10
seconds and do not allow you to have your say, whether they're liberal shows or they're right-wing
shows.

Steve Skrovan: Who in the past has fit that category for you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: The overtalk?

Steve Skrovan: Yeah.

Ralph Nader: Well, it happens sometimes when you go on, for example, Neil Cavuto’s show on
Fox cable. It's such a short show. To begin with, they tell you, you got four minutes on the show,
the whole show, the whole segment. And he cuts in because it's not a 30-minute or 20-minute
program. I give them some leeway there and I often say, “Neil, let me finish, will you? I'm the
person being interviewed, not you.”

Steve Skrovan: Right. All right. Well, very good. Thank you for that. Our next question comes
from Tim Wolff. It says, “Dear, Mr. Nader, the main thing that triggered the Trump impeachment
is that he delayed aide to Ukraine until they provided negative feedback on Biden and his son. Is
that really more impeachable than Bush and Cheney war crimes or the impeachable offenses of
Obama, assassination of American citizens, drone strikes, invasion of Libya, et cetera. Or is it just
that Trump is indirectly attacking American citizens? Well, Bush and Obama were directly killing
non-American citizens. There is no reason why our American political preferences should be more
sacred than the lives of innocent civilians outside of our political sphere.”

Ralph Nader: You make a good point. I mean, the most impeachable offense is a criminal war of
aggression. Bush, Cheney: exhibit one. However, remember, Obama unleashed all kinds of
violence, nothing like Bush and Cheney--the drones here and there, killing civilians. And Trump
is doing the same thing. So what Trump is doing in terms of illegal, unconstitutional warfare, day
after day in 10 countries--Somalia and Syria and Afghanistan and Yemen and so forth--are in my
judgment, more impeachable offenses and what he did on the Ukraine situation.

Steve Skrovan: And you believe, as we've talked about before--and we did a whole special
impeachment podcast on this, that the listeners should take a look at--that all of these impeachable
offenses should be brought forward, but the conventional wisdom is saying that you've got to keep
it simple for people. And it looks like there may be no more than three at most articles of
impeachment--all dealing with the Ukraine situation--the bribery, the obstruction, and possibly
contempt of Congress. But isn't there some efficacy to that argument that you want to keep it
simple?

Ralph Nader: No, it's not a matter of simple or complex. It's a matter of unconstitutional behavior
and the duty of the House and Senate to abide by the Constitution in its impeachment provisions.
The most important thing is when you go after a president, you don't just go after impeaching him
and allow him to be acquitted and not removed in the Senate. If you're going to impeach him, you
should also declare that you want him removed and if you want him removed, you have to go with
the fullest, strongest hand of impeachable offenses. For people to find out what I mean by that, go
to nader.org; you will see 12 impeachable counts under one article of impeachment laid out, plus
a letter with Bruce Fein that I sent explaining it to House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

Steve Skrovan: All right, very good. Our next question comes from Karen Riley. She wants to
talk about the Boeing 787 discussion we had with whistleblower, John Barnett. She says, “Dear
Ralph, I listened in horror to your conversation with John Barnett. What a courageous guy, and
then this morning I saw the headline about the Philippine Air Boeing 777 in LA that had fire
coming out of its engine.” So, she wanted to reach out in the event you hadn't heard about it. Not
sure if it's related to what John was talking about, but she's gravely concerned and she's flown so
much in her life, especially overseas. She no longer thinks she's willing to fly and she wants to
thank you for your podcast and all that you do.

Ralph Nader: Well, thank you very much, Karen Riley. John Barnett is now a private citizen. He's
back in Louisiana. He's looking for a job. He's having a hard time because he was a courageous
whistleblower at the Boeing 777 plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, where after 30 some
years of much-heralded quality control work for Boeing, he saw things that endangered
passengers--things left in parts of the plane that might come back to produce an accident. So the
case that you pointed out has not been investigated to completion. I'm sure it will be. But that's the
kind of possibility that John Barnett pointed out could happen with the sloppy procedures and
situations at the Boeing plant in South Carolina.

Steve Skrovan: Yeah. And he said there's usually an 8 to 10-year window until something actually
flares up and causes a disaster and we're very close to that window; that was the scary part of that.
This next question, a comment, comes from Majid Safaie about Facebook. It says, “Dear Mr.
Nader, I listen to your radio program every Sunday, which is informative.” And he talks about the
one he listened to where we were discussing Facebook and whether there is a competition for it.
And he says, “the answer is yes” and he wants you to check out faciet.com, which is designed to
compete with Facebook, and he said it was recently launched and he needs to spread the word
around to get more members. He says, “the big difference with Facebook is that faciet.com protects
members’ privacy and will not share their private information with anyone without first obtaining
written consent of the member. So he's pitching this as an alternative to Facebook.

Ralph Nader: Well, I'm not qualified to comment on that. As our listeners know, I still use an
Underwood typewriter. I'm not online. But the intent behind what you're trying to do I think is
widely supported by people who think Facebook has gotten too much power and it's basically a
defacto monopoly and is telling people you have to take what we give you, because you got
nowhere to go. Well, it turns out that Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales has launched a rival to
Facebook and Twitter that he hopes will combat clickbait and misleading headlines. “WT: Social”
his new social networking site, allows users to share links to articles and discuss them in a
Facebook-style newsfeed. Topics range from politics and technology to heavy metal and
beekeeping. This company's completely separate from Wikipedia. So that's a partial attempt by
Mr. Wales to provide some competition to Facebook. Eventually, the US government is going to
have to face up to Facebook's monopoly, its effect on elections, its so-called contoured newsfeed
and its invasion of privacy right down to 10-year olds anywhere in the world. So thanks for opening
it up, Majid.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you for your questions. Keep them coming on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour
website. I want to thank our guest, again, Martin Garbus. A transcript of the show will appear on
the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website soon after the episode is posted. Subscribe to us on our Ralph
Nader Radio Hour YouTube Channel. And for Ralph’s weekly column, it's free, go to nader.org.
For more from Russell Mohkiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com and Ralph has got two new
books out, the fable. How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress; to acquire a copy of that, go to
ratsreformcongress.org. And To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the
Trump Presidency and Why It Isn’t Too Late to Reverse Course; We will link to that also. The
producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marran. Our
executive producer is Alan Minsky. Our theme music, “Stand Up, Rise Up”, was written and
performed by Kemp Harris. Our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon. So join us next week on the
Ralph Nader Radio Hour when we speak with Mark Green. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you everybody and stay active. 2020 is a big year in American history.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Fri Dec 20, 2019 12:30 am

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 298: Catfish Solution
November 23, 2019

Ralph talks to maverick former FCC Commissioner, Nicholas Johnson, about his two new books, the memoir, “Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking” and “Columns of Democracy” and his views on social media and how to repair our democracy.

Nicholas Johnson is best known for his controversial term as a dissenting FCC commissioner in the Johnson/Nixon era. His most recent work is twofold: a memoir entitled Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking and Columns of Democracy an examination of the institutions needed to support democracy.

“In the last twenty years or so, [civics] has really kind of faded from the curriculum. Students need training in media literacy. They need training in what a democracy requires of them as a citizen. Until we start that with the young, it’s going to be hard to accomplish anything.”
Nicholas Johnson, Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 298 TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: It's the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. [Music] Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio
Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with my co-host David Feldman. Hello, David.

David Feldman: I'm going to watch what we say today because we have an FCC Commissioner
on.

Steve Skrovan: That's right. You don't want to get busted.

David Feldman: No.

Steve Skrovan: And we also have the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello, everybody. This one is going to be really unique. Wait and see, listeners.

Steve Skrovan: That is right, Ralph. On the show today, we welcome back media expert and law
professor, Nicholas Johnson. In the late 60s, early 70s, Mr. Johnson was a commissioner at the
Federal Communications Commission. He also later served as an advisor to President Jimmy
Carter for the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services and for decades,
he taught law at the University of Iowa and has been recognized in The Yale Biographical
Dictionary of American Law as one of the 700 most influential lawyers, from get this, from the
colonial era to the present day.

David Feldman: When you say colonial era, you mean going back as far back as the 1970s?

Steve Skrovan: I'm talking about going back as far as the 1770s--only 700.

David Feldman: OK Boomer. [lots of laughter]

Steve Skrovan: His landmark book, How To Talk Back To Your Television Set was prescient in
its critique of media consolidation and the manufacturing of news. So we're going to talk to him
about his latest work, one, a memoir entitled Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking. I
have no idea what that means. Maybe we'll get some insight into that; and another book entitled
Columns of Democracy, which is both a book of columns but also refers to the pillars, the
institutions that hold up our democracy such as independent media, K-12 and higher education,
independent judges, accessible voting systems and public libraries. They are all under attack all
over the world, including America in the Age of Trump. That will be the bulk of the show. As
always, in between, we will take a minute to check in with our corporate crime reporter Russell
Mohkiber who will give us the latest on the corporate crime that never sleeps. But first, speaking
of columns, let's talk to a legendary pillar of the legal profession. David?

David Feldman: Nicholas Johnson is best known for his controversial term as a dissenting FCC
commissioner in the Johnson/Nixon era. His most recent work is twofold, a memoir entitled
Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking and Columns of Democracy, an examination of
the institutions needed to support democracy. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour,
Nicholas Johnson.

Nicholas Johnson: Thank you so much.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much, Nick. I'll tell you, people don't have any idea what a
marathon runner is in quest for justice, but you're one. President Lyndon Johnson appointed you,
Nicholas Johnson, no relation, to head the Federal Maritime Administration at age 29. When was
that?

Nicholas Johnson: 1964. I was one of his first appointees, I believe, after he became president; I
mean, aside from the folks he asked to stay over from the Kennedy administration.

Ralph Nader: Right. And he expressed great confidence in you when people said, what? 29-
year-old lawyer heading this Maritime Administration, ships all over the country and world.
What's going on here? But, you spent couple of years or so there and then you got appointed to
the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates radio, television, so-called, and does
a lot of other things in terms of telecommunication. You became known as “the great dissenter”,
which meant that you represented the American people against opinions by some—not all—
commissioners who represented the big broadcast industry and the cable industry.
So you write this book, Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking. And I want you to talk
to us about the media then back in the late 60s and early 70s, and the media now. Before you do
that, and I hope you relate it to what I always harp on, is that the people own the public airways.
Repeat: the people own the public airways, but they don't control any of it. 24/7 it’s controlled by
radio and TV stations having a license from the FCC for which they pay nothing. You pay more
for your auto license than the biggest broadcast television station in New York pays for its
license to decide who says what and who doesn't, 24 hours a day. So I hope you'll key it into that.
But just first, how'd you get this name? Catfish Solution?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, as it explains on the back of the book, that is a mystery, which will
remain one, except for those who make their way through the entire book, who will somewhere
in there discover where that title came from. And so I've never revealed it publicly, but it's not
necessary in order to read the book.

Ralph Nader: You tantalizingly say, “How could a catfish strategy benefit you and your
country?”

Nicholas Johnson: Right.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, we're asking you this question about the media then and the
media now at a time when the FCC, 3-2 vote has approved the merger between Sprint and T-
Mobile, leaving our country with just three giant telecommunication firms--Verizon, AT&T and
this merger, unless it's overturned in court. So take it away, Nick Johnson, the media then and the
media now.

Nicholas Johnson: Well, they say that there's a difference between the differences of degree and
differences of kind and I think that differences of degree in the media from sort of 1920 to 1980
were things like going from AM to FM radio and black and white television to color television.
Those were differences of degree, but what we've experienced since then is a difference in kind
because what we did have were three dominant networks and I spent a lot of my time on the
commission writing 400 dissenting opinions about how horrible things were back then, but it's a
time that we look back on now as the golden age of responsible FCC regulation. What we have
now is a real problem trying to figure out what to do about social media and the old concerns
about anti-trust are not really what the problem is about. Facebook has 2 billion users, all of
whom are capable of uploading their own material and the other social media as well. The
Twitter accounts and all like that. It's just totally out of control. We don't know what to do about
it. We like to admire the notion under the First Amendment that the remedy for speech you don't
like is more speech. And that worked fine when we had three dominant networks, but now that
we've got all these channels on cable and satellite and more than that, all this social media that is
addicting, particularly young people in the junior highs and high schools. Suicide rates are up
among young girls. This is a very serious problem of addiction and the business plan, which
involves making something available to you, but then collecting as much as 20,000 data points of
information about you, which combined with others is a very profitable product to be used and to
be sold. And we didn't have that business plan before and that has made all the difference.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, things are just getting worse at a rapid pace in the sense that the
technology of communication is just exploding, and we don't have a legal ethical framework to
even discuss it, much less regulate it. And now we're seeing in the media the release of a new
technology by Zuckerberg and Facebook, which is called the Oculus Quest. And it comes in the
form of a goggle, 3-400 dollars, who knows how much in different versions, and a teenager or an
adult can wear and well, they can climb Mount Everest; they can smash adversaries. In other
words, they live in a make-believe world at their own initiative and it can become hugely
addictive. If parents now think the video games are addictive, wait until they see the Oculus
Quest. Now, has that been evaluated by anybody other than Facebook? Has there been discussion
on NPR or PBS? No, other than a gee whiz, look what's coming, folks. So Nick Johnson, what
do we do about a legal and ethical framework or let's start with an ethical and legal framework
because out of the ethics often come the laws. What would you do for this burgeoning
technology and you know, having personal information floated without your permission all over
the world and hacking? I hear they now can use a laser to hack into Alexa. You can't even trust
Alexa anymore, as if I ever would. Give us some guidance here.

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think we've got a real problem. I wished I could provide some
guidance, but I don't think we have an intellectual structure right now to address this and there's
talk about using the anti-trust laws, but in my opinion, it's the algorithms. It's the playing upon
the amygdala in the brain instead of the cerebral cortex that is the problem. And if you broke up
the Facebook into ten different companies and you kept the business plan of gathering and
selling people's data and trying to addict them and try to increase what the industry calls TOD
(Time On Device), you would just have, every one of ten companies would have 200 million
people instead of the current Facebook's 2 billion. But that doesn't affect the business plan and
the invasions of privacy and the manipulation and the ability of politicians to use this to create
what was once a nation is now as tribal as Afghanistan ever was.

Ralph Nader: Let me ask you this, isn't there some little challenge to Facebook saying to people
who want to drop out of Facebook no more Facebook account? Sort of like a cooperative one. As
part of a larger question is, why is Facebook not facing any competition? It's not enough to say,
well, it's so hard to get off Facebook transaction cost. Isn't there some equivalent like crowd-
sourcing group that's starting up?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I would say anybody who can put together a customer base of 2 billion
people living on planet earth would be in a position to compete with them, but shy of that, I think
you've got a real problem.

Ralph Nader: There is no competitor on the horizon. Why not?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, because of their absolute total size and grip on 2 billion people.

Ralph Nader: All right, let's put it this way; let's say 100 million people were willing to start a
new competitor to Facebook, that is they’re willing to open up accounts; they'll leave Facebook
and open up accounts. How would this competitor look like in terms of behaving itself and doing
the right thing?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, for starters, it's gonna have to have its own business plan. Is it going to
charge for this service? People like things that they think are “free”, when in fact you are paying
in the form of giving away your personal data to be sold and to be used to manipulate you. So I
don't see how, you know, they've got to figure out a way to do it. There are people who've talked
about trying to strip the evil out of the business plans of Facebook and create a competing thing,
but there's gotta be some way for them to fund the operation. People don't want to pay for what
they're used to getting for free, they think. And so that's a real tough one.

Ralph Nader: Well here, actually, they're also paying for the advertising, indirectly, which is
passed on to them in terms of consumer prices. But let's look at it in another way. Facebook is
becoming like a private government. I mean, 40% of people get their news from Facebook.
Facebook now decides whether there are going to be political ads. They can be totally lying, total
defamatory against innocent people. And Facebook's supposed to decide and it's deciding by
saying, we're not going to decide. We're not going to be the arbitrators even though Twitter is
decided to ban all political advertising. At what point does Facebook become such an “essential
utility” that the government has to step in, in some way?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think you could argue that's already the case.

Ralph Nader: In what way?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, in the sense that when we decided that television receiving sets were so
essential to life that someone in bankruptcy did not have to get rid of their television. I mean
that's now what we're doing with the social media and the internet. And think about this in terms
of an addiction. If somebody has a glass of wine once or twice during the week with dinner, they
can manage that, but if somebody wakes up in the morning, the first thing they do is reach for the
bottle of vodka, they got a problem. And that's the problem we have now with the amount of
time people spend looking at screens. I thought it was rather impressive back in the day of television
that the average American, when they died, would have spent 13 years of their life, 13 years in
24-hour days watching television. You put it on their tombstone. She watched TV. That's what
they did, but that was as nothing compared to what you see now. Students on a college campus,
kids in high school walking down the hallways, walking down the streets, looking down. Thank
goodness, there aren't any open manholes; they'd fall right in. They're not looking where they're
going. You look in a restaurant where people used to be sitting around a table talking to each
other, young people, old people; they're now sitting there and they're all looking down in their
laps at their smartphones. Nobody's talking to anybody.

Ralph Nader: What's the end game here?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think we have to begin, frankly, with education. You'll recall that
when our first public schools were created, the idea was that we needed civic education, a variant
of what you have called throughout your professional life, “the public citizen”, and that the
schools were devoted to providing civic virtues and civic skills and civic understanding--
preparing people to function in a democracy in ways that would sustain that democracy. And we
did that more or less, sometimes better than others, but in the last 20 years or so, that has really
kind of faded from the curriculum. And I think that students need training in media literacy.
They need training in what a democracy requires of them as a citizen. And I think until we start
that with the young, it's going to be hard to accomplish anything.

Ralph Nader: Is there a possibility that the next generation of youngsters is going to get sick of
this? They're going to get sick of what some have told me is a trap--looking hours in a day, text
messaging endlessly at the screen. Is there a chance that it becomes a novelty that wears off or is
it so ingrained in the psyche of human beings all over the world, no matter what culture or
language, that it’s here for good?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think some variation is. When you think about it, they started with
MySpace and email and then they went to Facebook and then they went to Instagram and now
they're doing Snapchat and I think they move from one app to another, but this really needs to be
studied, Ralph, as a matter of neurology and the functioning of the human brain. They are pulling
together, Facebook and the and the social media; they're pulling together what we know about
newspaper and television advertising, what we know about propaganda in authoritarian regimes,
what we know about gambling casinos. How do you keep a time on device and the gambling
casino? Every once in a while you drop a few coins in the tray, or you used to back in the days
before electronic machines, and that stimulated the dopamine and the serotonin and people were
excited and they were rewarded. And that's what text messaging provides or a post on Facebook.
People put something up on Facebook and then an hour or two later they come back and see how
many people gave it a like or a share or put in a comment. And every time they have, well then
that's a little boost to their self-esteem and, and they're feeling good about themselves.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, I've called the modern corporation the most sensually
demanding institution in the history of the world. And you just pointed out one pervasive
example why I've said this, but does this mean that we can't look abroad? That in Ireland, in
Nepal, in Russia, in France, in Japan, in Brazil, no one has any solutions to this, that no matter
what language, what culture, no matter what they wear, they all have this dopamine situation?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, yeah, that's human biology.

Ralph Nader: But do they have any institutional changes? Anybody going after the way
Facebook is operating in these foreign countries. Like Europe, Western Europe especially, has
passed a privacy law, which is tougher than anything we have, and Facebook doesn't like that. Is
there anything on the horizon, Nick?

Nicholas Johnson: Not that I'm aware of, but I would not necessarily be. I mean, I'm no longer
an FCC Commissioner and as you know, I've been writing about a spectrum of subjects and
policies and whatever. So I'm not tracking all that the way I once was.

Ralph Nader: We're going to get that, the book that we're going to get to is Columns of
Democracy by Nicholas Johnson. It's a beautiful book. Catfish Solution, which we've been
talking about. Before we leave Catfish Solution, tell us what your view is of the current Federal
Communications Commission with the five commissioners, three Republicans, two Democrats.

Nicholas Johnson: Well, you know, I thought it was pretty bad when I was there. And as I said
earlier, we now look back on that as the golden age of responsible regulation. Starting in 1980, it
was not just broadcasting, it was across the economic spectrum, the drive to deregulation and
reregulation, less concern about conglomerate corporations and what would otherwise have been
considered anti-trust violations. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, so that stations with licenses
who were licensed to serve the public interest can now put out one-sided propaganda all day
long, something that would have caused them to lose their license back in the 1920s and even in
the 1960s when I was on the commission. So no, I don't have a lot of respect. I think it's more
and more corporate driven than it was even when I was there and this whole business about well,
let's leave it to the marketplace; things will work their way out and the best speech for the speech
or hate is more speech.

Ralph Nader: What amazes me is that even after people learn that they own the public airways,
they're the landlords, the radio and TV stations are the tenants. They control 24 hours a day the
area on the spectrum that they're license pertains to--the radio and TV stations. They decide who
says what and who doesn't on our property. And because of Congress and the FCC, they don't
pay anything to the landlords, us. So you know, I've said this, you've said this; millions of people
have heard this message and they don't seem to have an ownership interest. Is this something that
can be cured by first grade, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade?

Nicholas Johnson: I think that's a good place to begin. But you know, the story I've always
hoped was apocryphal of the poll done in a community asking, what do you think is the worst
problem in our community, Ignorance or apathy? And the plurality response to the question was,
I don't know, and I don't care.

Ralph Nader: That's a realistic commentary, I'm afraid to say but if you were, let's say, president
of the United States, how would you change it? What would you do immediately to give people a
sense of proprietorship that they can have their own networks, their own programs; they don't
have to beg for corporate sponsors. They can take a piece of the day--two-hour, three-hour,
whatever. What would you do? Set aside political opposition by the corporations and their
toadies. What would you do if you had the power?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think what I would do was what I assumed Barack Obama would do
when I had my first conversation with him back in 2007, I guess it was, and in Iowa, you get to
meet all these presidential candidates and I've been meeting them now since the time of Harry
Truman. And the question I was put to them is, let's assume that everybody in this living room
thinks that you are what we call right on the issues and let's assume that you are elected
president. Now tell me how is it going to come about that coal miners are going to be safer in the
mines than they are now, and I won't take up time telling you the responses of all of them, but
most of them are totally flummoxed by that. They'd never thought about it. But what Barack
Obama told me, he said, well, Nick, I'm a...been a community organizer, and we went on talking
about the Midwest Academy and all that. And I assumed that what he recognized was that the
only thing that has ever really brought about change is an organized millions in a march or a mob
demanding change. So that as president, what I would do is I would try to build something
similar to what Bernie did back in 2016, which is an organization of millions of Americans who
you email and text and so forth, and you get ‘em organized around individual issues and they go
to work on elected officials. I would also, as president, do some Roosevelt Fireside Chats on TV
and talk about this stuff with folks.

Ralph Nader: You know, I had the same experience with these presidential candidates over the
years. The question I say is, what's your program to shift power from the few to the many? And I
give examples. They don't have a clue, Nick. It's all, if you elect me, I will do this, I will do that.
And they know very well that they can't do anything. If they look back and there's no organized
citizenry and they look forward and you've got a swarm of giant corporations coming in at them
through Congress and the media and elsewhere.

Nicholas Johnson: Absolutely.

Ralph Nader: They don't have a clue. Have you met in the current presidential campaign, Nick
Johnson, in Iowa, any of the candidates that are coursing through your state for the Iowa
caucuses coming up in less than a hundred days? They're going all over, small towns, Storm
Lake, Iowa City where you are. What do they say? What do you say to them?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I put that same kind of question. But yeah, you really do see the
candidates....here in Johnson County, there are 99 counties in Iowa and Johnson County is
referred to by people in Western Iowa as the People's Republic of Johnson County. And the
candidates love to come to Johnson County because they're among friends, you see. But no, most
of what I hear, I'm just trying to think who beside me—Bernie is still talking about the need for a
revolution, which is kind of what you and I are talking about, but I have not heard either from
them in private conversation or in their speeches. They will attack Wall Street and corporate
interests and lobbyists and what, but I have not heard from them what they are going to do
besides making speeches about how awful it is.

Ralph Nader: Well, do you think the people in Iowa that go to these clam bakes and fairs and
living room sessions with people like Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Corey Booker or
Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, do you think they're sufficiently informed to really make an impact
on these candidates?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think what they are able to communicate to the candidates, and as
I’ve said, Franklin Roosevelt handed the Democratic Party a coalition that if it had been serviced
and maintained and addressed and met with and talked to from time to time, we would today, the
Democrats would be electing every member of school boards all across America, mayors, state
legislatures, House and Senate in Washington and the president who occupies the White House.
But they've really turned their backs, thinking that all they need to do is get the money out on the
East Coast and the votes out of the West Coast, and they can ignore that 80%, and it is literally
80% of the counties in the United States; if you look at a county map and you paint the ones red
that Trump carried, 80% of them, the majority went for Trump. Now that's the state of the nation.
And that's no national party. That's not a national party. If you only can carry 20% of the
counties in the country and most of them are in urban areas and you never been on a farm or
ranch, you know, you never worked in a John Deere Foundry, it's very hard. And so what they
do get, what the candidates do get, I think, is they hear directly from, because Iowa has a
wonderfully diverse population of minorities and various religions and I think more private
colleges per square mile than any other state and young professionals and business people and
major industry and three state universities that are well ranked and so forth. So we've got a lot of
different kinds of people here, but it includes some homeless and working poor and working
class and tradespeople and farmers and whatever. And they're pretty darn articulate about what
their lives are like and what they need and so forth. So they are getting that input as a result of
this retail campaigning here.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, you just mentioned public universities in Iowa. We're going to
shift now listeners to his other book, Columns of Democracy. You can get these books online,
Barnes & Noble and other places, but we're gonna tell you that you can get them from an
independent bookstore, right in Iowa City and Nick Johnson will autograph them for you. These
are extremely concise essays. They are in big print, dark print; you don't have to squint. They're
written in a very folksy and popular, understandable manner and you've been hearing Nick in the
last few minutes and if you go to prairielights.com, that's the Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa
City. Go to prairielights.com and you can get these two books. They're reasonably priced and
Nick will autograph them for you and if you want to personalize them to some student that needs
to read this kind of material, just indicate who you want to be personalized right next to Nick's
autograph. And Nick, this is an amazing column that you wrote, and it needs a lot of repetition.
It's on page 45 of your book, Columns of Democracy and it's titled “The Public Universities Not
Using Radio Well”. You've done a lot of work; you’re still doing a lot of work at the local level.
That's where it all starts, in Iowa City. Tell our listeners what you mean by that, “Public
Universities Not Using Radio Well.”

Nicholas Johnson: Well, as somebody pointed out, it took higher education 30 years to get the
overhead projector out of the bowling alley and into the classroom. They're not the swiftest in
this, but when Frieda Hennock at the FCC, back in the day, required that frequencies in the FM
band, down around the left end of the band, were to be set aside for educational, nonprofit,
noncommercial use. Many of the stations that had been experimenting with radio and the
University of Iowa was one of the first in the country to have its own radio station and then in the
30s, to have a classroom material delivered by television cameras. So these schools, these
colleges and universities then applied for these educational stations. But we have the same
problem, that then they didn't use them. I mean, here they have a problem. Legislatures all
around the country, and certainly in Iowa, are cutting back on their support of higher education,
one of the columns of a democracy. When I taught at the University of California Berkeley, with
your sister Laura, there was no tuition charged at the handful of universities of California, the
California state universities, the community colleges, was all tuition free, and I think a lot of the
credit for the fact that California is the fifth or the seventh largest economy in the world, goes to
that fact and now the legislatures are cutting back on that kind of support. The universities need
to be able to reach the legislatures. Now can you imagine being handed the multimillion dollar
asset of 29 radio stations covering the State of Iowa and you want to make a favorable
impression on the people of Iowa and for them in turn to make up demands on the legislature to
provide you more funding and more opportunity for students to get a college education and for
those students to contribute their skills to businesses in Iowa. The problem in Iowa’s is not in the
lack of jobs. The economic problem in Iowa is finding people with sufficient skills to take and
hold those jobs.

Ralph Nader: And you're saying they don't use these radio stations, Iowa’s universities?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, no, they created something called Iowa Public Radio and they turned
the whole thing over to Iowa Public Radio and I'm not putting down Iowa Public Radio. They're
full of commercials, which I find a little unsettling from time to time because they're not being
funded by the universities like they were supposed to be.

Ralph Nader: We were talking with Nicholas Johnson, author of the book Columns of
Democracy. Do universities like University of Iowa just gave these licenses, radio station
licenses to public radio free? No conditions?

Nicholas Johnson: I am not familiar with whatever documents may have passed at that time, but
the appearance is that no, there are no conditions; there are no requirements. But imagine what it
would mean if the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa--if
they would band together their faculty resources and put some folks from one or two or three
towns out in Western Iowa and talk via radio on subjects of interest to every small town in this
state. Like how can we keep the young people in our communities? How can we build more
tourism? How can we do a better job of purifying the water? You know, there are all kinds of
shared problems and there are all kinds of, you know, you've had so many wonderful lines over
the course of your lifetime, but one I've always enjoyed is “We have more problems than we
deserve and more solutions than we've ever tried”.

Ralph Nader: Sure.

Nicholas Johnson: And a lot of those solutions are to be found in the academic community,
which I must say is not all that enthusiastic about getting involved in things that might someday
touch on something controversial.

Ralph Nader: Can they get these radio stations back or they gave it away permanently?

Nicholas Johnson: I don't know the answer to that. I would assume they could get them back.
They are still the licensees as I understand it.

Ralph Nader: I see. You know, a lot of our listeners, they've been hearing these programs over
the years on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour and they're on national issues, international issues,
which you've commented on, but you've also provided people with real nitty-gritty advice right
down to the school board. So one of the essays that you wrote in this book Columns of
Democracy just a few years ago, 2014, is called “Public Comments about Public Comments
Guidelines” and you start with the Iowa City Community School [District] Board. You want to
elaborate that for our listeners?

Nicholas Johnson: [laughter] Well, one of my goals and yours over the years has been to get
more public involvement in matters of importance to the public. And one of those is the school
system, which if people are only interested in economics, takes a big chunk of the property taxes
that they're paying. But what's much more important is you want to have people working in the
stores who can do basic math when the computer goes down. I was on the school board for a
term and said when I ran, I was only going to serve one term and I only did serve one term, but I
tried to bring some management practices to it that I think helped. But this particular thing was
that sometimes the school boards make the public comments be the last thing on the agenda. And
so somebody has to come and sit for two or three hours before they get to talk. Oftentimes,
school board members don't respond from the bench to what the person says. They just talk and
that's the end of it and they go to the next person. Then the problem arises that sometimes you do
get people who come and appear who use foul language and are attacking the school board in
ways that it’s not going to produce constructive conversation or the development of solutions. So
how can you handle that? Can you limit the amount of time anybody has and so forth? And so
that's what I meant by public comments about public comments--what are the comments? What's
the discussion we might have about how we're gonna handle that public comments portion of the
school board meetings?

Ralph Nader: Yeah, and it's a very useful one. And some other column you had called “Create a
Caring Community”. And you said there are 2.2 billion people try to subsist in the world on less
than $2 a day. How do you create a caring community?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think you start with, and it's not a coincidence that both community
and communication begin with the same beginning. You need to build interaction between
people. You need to encourage people to stop looking down at their phones and look up. I tried
to do my Fitbit stepping in a park right across the street from my house and I make it a point that
every single person I pass, I give them a greeting--a good morning and a big smile, tip of my hat
if I got one on, or a wave. And not everybody responds positively, but I'd say that 98 or 99 out of
100 do. When I encounter somebody who's here from another country and we have, I know
there's one elementary school that has 34 different languages being spoken there. We have a lot
of people from around the world here. Incidentally, I should mention with regard to that Prairie
Lights bookstore, Iowa City was the third city in the world to be recognized by the United
Nations as a city of literature and that was partly because of the Iowa Writers’ Project, the
international writers project and so forth.

Ralph Nader: Right. That was very widely known, the Iowa Writers' Project.

Nicholas Johnson: And it’s work I did in other countries. We were doing the things that would
be equally applicable here, if anybody cared and wanted to do them and you need to build a civil
society; you need to have trade unions and organizations and neighborhood meetings and you
know, bring people together for everything from serious discussions to festivals and concerts in
the summertime and whatever.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, we don't have all the time to go through this book. You have a
column “Six-step Program for Avoiding War” that you wrote. You have the question, is war the
best answer? I can’t imagine how you answered that. Spending on military always comes at a
cost back home. Why don’t you give us the nugget of that column, Nick Johnson?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, I think one of the examples I used in that column was a single shelling
exercise that the president engaged in and I figured up the price of all the missiles and weaponry
used during a very short period of time basically, and then I transposed that into how many new
teachers could we hire and put in Iowa schools with just that one brief military exercise. I mean,
the numbers are just beyond our comprehension. It's very hard for Americans to understand
millions and when you get into billions and trillions and the Defense Department is spending at
those multitrillion dollar levels and it's so complex, they can't even be audited. Nobody knows
what they're spending on and so forth.

Ralph Nader: That's a violation of federal law going back to 1992. They've never submitted a
comprehensive audit to the Government Accountability Office of Congress and is the only
department that doesn’t. They spend over $2 billion a day. You want to break that down listeners
per hour, staggering. It's what Eisenhower said and his Cross of Iron speech in 1953 as president
says is this the way we want to live, and he did what you did, Nick. He said, every tank, every
battleship; look, how many schools it can build. Look how many parks it can establish. Look
how many this, look how many clinics, community health clinics, no president has done that
since. I was really taken by one of your columns, Nick, it’s called “Syria's refugees job one and
job two” and we're deep in Syria, the US. Last year, Trump only took in 63 Syrian refugees.
What did you say in that column?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, that's just pitiful. I referred to what we did in Iowa. We had a
Republican president at the time, but that didn't mean that he wasn't civil and humanitarian
oriented, and we invited the Vietnamese boat people into Iowa. These immigrants are our
strengths. They're not our enemies. There's an authoritarian playbook. Most democracies are
destroyed from within, not from without. And if you want to destroy a democracy and become its
authoritarian leader, there are certain steps you go through and that's what we are now going
through in the United States. And I think there's something like 20% of the American people
who say they would prefer to have an authoritarian dictator rather than a democracy.

Ralph Nader: Yes.

Nicholas Johnson: So you know, we're not in the best of shape right now and it's a tossup
whether we're going to make it out of this and even if we do, whether we can ever come close to
recreating what we did in our post World War II days in the United States when the top tax rate
was 70 or even 90% at one time, I think, and the wealthy were doing just fine with that.

Ralph Nader: Now they don't want to pay 38% tax. They're making more money than ever
before. I really liked your column “Six-step Program for Avoiding War”. You can find these
columns, listeners, by getting in these books, Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking and
Columns of Democracy by Nicholas Johnson. You get them online. You'll see what I mean.
They’re really engrossing. They relate to you. Nick Johnson is all about people showing up at
meetings, eyeball to eyeball, you know the old grange tradition and that's what gets things done;
not just looking at screens. You can announce a meeting on the screen. You can get the
information, but it doesn't work in virtual reality the way it works in dozens of people getting
together in a town or at a town meeting or a rally or what have you.

You can go to prairielights.com to get that book autographed. If you don't care about the
autograph, you can get it online. I guarantee you you'll find these short essays, these short
observations and also, the great dissenting opinions on behalf of you, the television viewer and
the radio listener, when he was on the Federal Communications Commission known as the FCC.
Before we leave, Nick, I want to bring Steve and David. Any comment?

David Feldman: Yes. I have a couple of questions, but the first one, I want to ask you an FCC
question. As an FCC Commissioner, if you were to discover, hypothetically, I've heard this, and
I've read this, but let's just say hypothetically, that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity pay their
callers $50, they're actors, to phone in with opinions and the calls are set-up questions. As an
FCC Commissioner, what is your obligation when you learn about this?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, there’s not a prayer that anybody's gonna look into that now, but
forgetting about paying the caller's 50 bucks to call in, Rush Limbaugh would be off the air in
the New York minute back in the 1920s and 30s, the way that material is going out now with one
conservative commentator right after another throughout the day on many radio stations across
this country.

David Feldman: I don't mean to interrupt you but just, I'm sorry, but when you were an FCC
Commissioner and you discovered that there was a radio show where a man was espousing
political beliefs and then having callers talk to him and he didn't disclose that these were actors
being paid...

Nicholas Johnson: Yes, that would be a problem and I would want to have that investigated and
documented and do something about it at license renewal time.

David Feldman: Are there laws against that?

Nicholas Johnson: There were then regulations. I mean, that's fraud, basically.

David Feldman: Okay. And one other question is, if you were to discover, say hypothetically,
that Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity was integrating talking points from say, oh, I don't know
the Koch Brothers and being paid as kind of like an infomercial without telling the audience that
his opinions are bought and paid for. Because I have heard people say there are rumors that
people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are paid to deliver talking points, seamlessly
integrate them into their monologues. Are there regulations against that?

Nicholas Johnson: Well, again, there were back in my day; I think now there would be very
little concern about that.

David Feldman: Is an audience entitled to know when they're being advertised to...

Nicholas Johnson: Yeah, sure.

David Feldman: ...either for a soap product or a political opinion?

Nicholas Johnson: Yeah, commercials have to identify who paid for the commercial and we had
cases...

David Feldman: Even if it's a political commercial.

Nicholas Johnson: Yeah. And ABC/ITT merger dissent that contributed toward that merger
ultimately being called off by the parties, I dealt with some examples of the kind of thing you're
talking about.

David Feldman: So Americans who listen to talk radio are literally being brainwashed. If this is
true, if what I'm suggesting is true, there's a concerted effort to brainwash anybody who's
listening to AM talk radio to have a specific belief.

Ralph Nader: David, what Nick is saying also, there's no Fairness Doctrine if Limbaugh's on
touting one side of a controversial issue. In the old days, the station had to offer a challenging or
contrary view. They revoked the Fairness Doctrine in the Reagan years by the FCC, revoked it
and that's what unleashed all these people you don't seem to like, like Rush Limbaugh and Sean
Hannity, because they can engage in a soliloquy and because government doesn't advertise, they
can beat up on public policy in Washington, but the corporations who give them millions of
dollars each a year, they advertise and so they respond to the advertising and I think sometimes
they cross the line. I saw a situation like that where [a] General Motors ad was involved, and I
complained to the FCC a few years ago and they just brushed it off. They didn't do anything. I
think Nick is right. Today's FCC will not respond to any concerns like you’ve just articulated. It's
bought and sold. The head of the current FCC, he's looking for a big-paying job the way a lot of
his predecessors [have]. They go to law firms, they get appointed to the FCC, spend a few years
there and then they go to higher pay as corporate lawyers or in the broadcast industry itself.
Steve?

Steve Skrovan: I have a question, Mr. Johnson. David and I are both in the Writers Guild of
America and one of the Writers Guild’s big issues is net neutrality. What are your views on net
neutrality and whether it should be or not, or how we can change it or not?
Nicholas Johnson: Well, I will give you an analogy. I think we need net neutrality. Let me
answer your question at the top rather than make you wait. But if you think about the old AT&T,
which had its problems and I participated in creating the mess we have now, but ATT had no
interest in what you said over the phone. Now, you could be prosecuted for engaging in
fraudulent sales or running some stock operation or giving away national secrets or whatnot, but
not by AT&T. And once you got the phone you could say anything you wanted to say on the
phone and everybody's call went through at the same speed and everybody could call everybody
else and now around the world. So what the internet is today or should be in that respect, the
equivalent of what AT&T was back in the first part of the 20th century [chuckle] with regard to
that particular item. I have other problems with AT&T then. So I don't think that the people who
are providing the conduit ought to be permitted to be in the business of slowing up some people's
content and speeding up others, censoring entirely others. In fact, I was troubled with the cable
television at its origins for that reason, that somebody who owns a cable distribution system
should not also have a financial interest in the programming which is being carried. But needless
to say, that didn't go anywhere.

Ralph Nader: Now, Nick the FCC has abolished net neutrality, but have they implemented it
yet?

Nicholas Johnson: I don't know the answer to that, but I think so.

Ralph Nader: If you pay more, they speed you up and if you can't pay more, they slow you
down. Is that already begun?

Nicholas Johnson: Ralph, like I say, I'm not your best source on what the current status of it is.

Ralph Nader: Okay. Well, we're out of time. Nicholas Johnson, former FCC Commissioner,
“the great dissenter”, local activist in Iowa, tremendous writer of all kinds of columns, served on
school boards, interviews presidential candidates before the Iowa caucus and basically a
renaissance man. If you want his two books they’re just out, Catfish Solution and/or the Columns
of Democracy, you can get them online or you can get them autographed by Nick Johnson by
contacting prairielights.com. That's the Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, prairielights.com.
Thank you very much, Nick.

Nicholas Johnson: Thank you, Ralph. I have a friend who when somebody had gone on like that
would say, I'm going to give you just 30 minutes to go on talking that way until you've got to
stop.

Ralph Nader: [laughter] We don't have sound bites on this radio program, that's for sure.

Nicholas Johnson: Give my best to good old Russ Mohkiber still going after the corporations.

Ralph Nader: We'll do that.

Nicholas Johnson: Thank you so much, all three of you. This has been really great.

David Feldman: We've been speaking with Nicholas Johnson. We will link to his two new
books at ralphnaderradiohour.com. We're going to take a short break now to check in with our
corporate crime reporter, Russell Mohkiber. You are listening to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour
back after this.

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., this is your
Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Friday, November 22, 2019. I'm Russell
Mohkiber. Earlier this year, Justice Department prosecutors were on the verge of charging
biotech giant Monsanto with a felony for illegally spraying a banned, highly toxic pesticide and
nerve agent in Hawaii not far from beachside resorts on Maui. But then, according to an internal
April 2019 government document, that decision was overruled. That's according to a report from
the Project on Government Oversight. Monsanto had its Washington lawyers intervene at the
highest levels of the Department of Justice to stop the felony case. A key attorney handling the
matter for Monsanto was Latham and Watkins partner, Alice Fisher. The felony case against
Monsanto was halted after the company's lawyers launched a last-minute appeal to the office of
then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell
Mohkiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I'm Steve
Skrovan and along with David Feldman and Ralph and you're back just in time for us to close the
show because that's our show. I want to thank our guest again, Nicholas Johnson. A transcript of
this show will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website soon after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube Channel and for
Ralph's weekly column, it's free, go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mohkiber, go to
corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: And Ralph has got two new books out, the fable, How the Rats Re-Formed the
Congress. To acquire a copy of that, go to ratsreformcongress.org., and To the Ramparts: How
Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency and Why It Isn't Too Late to Reverse
Course. We will link to that also.

David Feldman: The producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and
Matthew Marran. Our executive producer is Alan Minsky.

Steve Skrovan: Our theme music “Stand Up, Rise Up” was written and performed by Kemp
Harris. Our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon.

David Feldman: Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you, everybody. And in a few weeks, we've got a new book coming out,
Mark Green and me, called Fake President, a book on Donald Trump like no other book on
Donald Trump. By that I mean, it's usable for you, the voters. [Music]
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Fri Dec 20, 2019 12:39 am

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 297: Boeing 787 Dreamliner: “Hundreds of Defective Parts”
November 16, 2019

TRANSCRIPT

Ralph hears from courageous former Boeing Quality Control Manager, John M. Barnett, who blew the whistle on shoddy production of the 787 Dreamliner, how the FAA has backed off on oversight, and how Boeing “bean counters” have put profits over safety.

John M. Barnett was a Quality Control Manager for Boeing Company for 25 years in its Seattle facility. He transferred in 2011 to manage Boeing’s new plant in South Carolina to build the 787 Dreamliner where he revealed shoddy production as reported on the front-page of the April 20, 2019, New York Times. He retired under pressure in 2017 and assumed the challenge to inform the flying public. His whistleblower complaint to OSHA is pending.

“I haven’t seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I would put my name on saying that it’s safe and air-worthy.”

-- John M. Barnett, former Quality Control Manager on the 787 Dreamliner


“In aircraft production, and working with Boeing all these years, we have a rule of thumb: that it takes eight to ten years for a defect to become an issue on an airplane. So, if you look at the eight to ten-year time frame before a defect becomes an issue and our first plane was delivered in 2012, we’re starting to get into that eight to ten-year window.”

-- John M. Barnett, former Quality Control Manager on the 787 Dreamliner


“Boeing’s number one priority should be the safety of the flying public. And the last six years that I worked with them, that is the last thing on their mind… Because it’s just about kicking airplanes out and making the cash register ring.”

-- John M. Barnett, former Quality Control Manager on the 787 Dreamliner


RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 297 TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along
with my co-host David Feldman. How are you today, David?

David Feldman: Excited about today's show, of course.

Steve Skrovan: And we also have the man of the hour Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello everybody.

Steve Skrovan: And I'm excited about today's show, too. Last week we had Dr. George Luber
on the show. He was being honored with the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage for
blowing the whistle at the Centers for Disease Control when he was ordered to tamp down his
efforts to deal with the climate crisis. Well on the show today, we're going to feature another
courageous Joe A. Callaway Award winner. His name is John M. Barnett. Regular listeners to
this show know the many different ways we have covered the Boeing MAX 8 story. We've
talked about how mergers and management decisions have turned a once great engineering
company into more of a financial company, intent on jacking up its stock price not through
innovation, but through buying back its own stock. We've talked about how the Federal Aviation
Commission dropped the ball and allowed Boeing to essentially regulate itself. And we've talked
about how the marketeers at Boeing have continually overruled the engineers.
Mr. Barnett was a quality control expert at Boeing working not on the MAX 8, but on the 787
Dreamliner at their big production facility in South Carolina. There he blew the whistle on
shoddy engineering and a corporate culture where profits trumped safety. He's got an eye-
opening story to tell and we look forward to hearing that. As always, we will take a moment after
that to find out what's happening in the other dark recesses of the corporate underworld with our
corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber and Ralph will also answer some listener questions.
But first, let's meet yet another courageous whistleblower, David.

David Feldman: John M. Barnett was a quality control manager at Boeing for 25 years in its
Seattle facility. He transferred in 2011 to manage Boeing's new plant in South Carolina to build
the 787 Dreamliner where he revealed shoddy production as reported on the front page of the
April 20th 2019 New York Times. He retired under pressure in 2017 and assumed the challenge to
inform the flying public. His whistleblower complaint to OSHA is now pending. Welcome to the
Ralph Nader Radio Hour, John Barnett.

John M. Barnett: Thank you, pleasure to be here.

Ralph Nader: Indeed welcome, John Barnett. Describe the plane that you have been very
concerned about, the Dreamliner and how many of them are up in the air; when was the first one
launched?

John M. Barnett: Okay, it's a 787 and the biggest concern came when they opened the
Charleston plant. That's when the issues and shoddy production work really started. And I
believe our first delivery out of there was 2012.

Ralph Nader: And why did they open a plant in North Charleston, South Carolina where there
was a dearth of skilled workers instead of expanding their facility in Seattle where, I understand
the Dreamliner is also produced, in your judgment, at a much higher standard than at South
Carolina. What brought them to South Carolina?

John M. Barnett: Well, I can tell you, Ralph, what the information they shared with us from
Boeing was as they were trying to expand the production facilities and bring other areas into the
mix, but from an internal standpoint, it was more about the union activity that was up in
Washington State and there was the battles with them and the strikes that they were causing, so
they really wanting to get to a non-unionized Right-to-Work State.

Ralph Nader: Did the Governor of South Carolina help them do that? Nikki Haley is now on
the board of the Boeing corporation for a few meetings earning as other board members are, over
$300,000 a year. What was, besides being a nonunion state, did they give them all kinds of
subsidies?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir. The information we were provided inside of Boeing as employees
were that there were hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks and that type of
thing that Boeing was offered to go to South Carolina. And part of that deal was that we hired
most of the employees locally, so we were not allowed to go to areas that had high experience in
aerospace and airplane building; we had to hire the local people fresh out of college.

Ralph Nader: And I remember Boeing was saying that they were going to have training
facilities so to upgrade untrained workers to the very demanding tasks of assembling an aircraft.
This was really not a manufacturing facility as it was an assembling one; isn't that right bringing
various parts from around the country in the world?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, that's correct. The 787 is fabricated from various parts of the world
and they all come together in the final assembly is performed in Charleston and Everett, yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: You were a quality control inspector who received high commendations when
you worked at the Seattle plant.

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: You volunteered to go to South Carolina. You've once said that the quality
control inspectors at Boeing are the last check, the last safety check before the plane takes off
with passengers.

John M. Barnett: That's correct. The quality control or quality personnel are the last line of
defense. That's correct.

Ralph Nader: Given the importance of this skill, why is it that Boeing is laying off literally
hundreds of quality control people in both their Seattle plant and South Carolina? What's their
reason for that?

John M. Barnett: Well, so they've been preaching for years that quality is non-value added,
doesn't bring any value to the product, so they’ve been trying real hard to eliminate quality. And
in the process of eliminating quality, what they're doing internally is they're telling inspectors not
to document defects, they're telling quality folks to do a visual buy off and not document things
and just way outside the realms of how they should be building airplanes.

Ralph Nader: John, when you use the word quality, I think it's almost a term of art; you don't
mean metallurgical quality or something; you're talking about quality control inspectors, aren’t
you?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, that's correct. Yeah, so within Boeing, you have what you call the
quality department and you have manufacturing. And within the quality department, that's where
your inspectors are, your quality managers, your quality assurance investigators, anything having
to do with quality of the product, is under the quality organization.

Ralph Nader: So why they want to eliminate that critical role? Because they know if a plane
goes down because of Boeing's neglect or negligence, it can be all hell for Boeing to pay. Look
what happened after the two MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia and on other crashes in the
past. I mean, how can they dare take a risk like that? Who's going to replace several hundred
Boeing quality control inspectors in Seattle and in South Carolina?

John M. Barnett: So what their plan is--what they call MFPP--it's a multifunction process or
production process. And basically what it allows it to do is the mechanic to buy off his buddies'
work; so mechanics are buying off each other's work saying that it's good to go.

Ralph Nader: We're talking with John Barnett, former quality control inspector for the Boeing
corporation on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. John, aren't they also arguing that automation is
better, more reliable than human quality control inspectors? I heard that reported in the press.

John M. Barnett: Yes, that is correct. However, there's very limited on what can actually be
implemented within the aircraft program. We've had several what I'd call false starts with the
technology where they're promising that it's bigger, better and badder than any inspector when
they go to implement it and it isn’t. So there's a lot of trial and error and there's a lot of
discussion before they've actually implemented things and proven them out.

Ralph Nader: Well your experience, which we'll get to in a moment, the shoddy situation going
on in the North Charleston plant in South Carolina, was so detailed that you were the main
source for the New York Times Sunday page 1 expose of what was going on down there with the
Dreamliner and the sloppiness, carelessness in the Charleston, North Carolina plant. So would
you run us through how it all started? I mean you were one of numerous quality control
inspectors and some of them have followed your courage after you took the first step. But what is
it about the other quality control inspectors, when they see the same things you see, but they
don't protest; they don't write it up?

John M. Barnett: Well and that goes back to the inexperience of the workforce, the people
that's been hired in Charleston are brand new to Boeing, so they're basically doing what they're
told. They're not experienced and knowledgeable enough to know when to push back when it's
not right. They're just doing what's told and following direction. And the management there is
just laying pressure on them big time to get the planes out the door regardless of the condition
just to get them delivered and make the cash register ring.

Ralph Nader: What fascinated me when I read the New York Times article is the sloppiness on
a plane that sells for how much? How much is one Dreamliner sell for?

John M. Barnett: Well they're advertised, they’re listed for 150 million; and they actually sell
for about 150 million.

Ralph Nader: 150 million?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: And they're leaving all kinds of junk on the plane after they’ve finished
assembling it. Why don’t you describe how you started seeing things you couldn't believe
compared to the higher standards you left in the Seattle Dreamliner plant?

John M. Barnett: Oh, absolutely, yes.

Ralph Nader: Why don’t you give us that narrative?

John M. Barnett: Okay, so just a real quick background, it's been 25 years in Everett,
Washington building/working on 747, 777, 787 when it first started up there. And the culture in
Everett and actually Washington State, you know, you got to think back, there are several
generations of employees that have been building airplanes, so you have the generational
knowledge transfer of how to build airplanes. And the culture up there and the general
population understands the criticality of following processes and procedures and making sure the
airplane is built correctly whereas you do not have that in Charleston. They don’t understand the
ramifications of what a defect can cause, because they don't have that experience. And what we
found in Charleston or what I've noticed in Charleston is there's a lot more pressure on
mechanics to just buy off their jobs and get them sold. I mean they're measured almost by the
hour and are measured by how many, like we call them "beans" you know, a job when they go to
complete the job and get them inspected by an inspector and bought off. We call it a bean. So
they're all about "bean counts" you know, how many jobs they can get done in a day not
necessarily if it's done correctly. And the pressure from management is just get the airplanes out.
And another part of the Charleston culture that I've noticed is that the leadership here seems to be
more interested in self promotions instead of making sure the product is built correctly, if that
makes sense. So it's more focused on themselves, on how a decision might affect their career,
versus how it's going to affect the airplane, you know what I'm saying?

Ralph Nader: Right, but what did you start to discover?

John M. Barnett: So I think they're really making some poor decisions. And when I first
moved down to Charleston, I was the first quality manager hired to set up Charleston plant and
we had developed training plans from the quality perspective of how to look up procedures, how
to follow drawings, you know--how to do your job. And we were pretty much shut down. None
of the mechanics went through our training. Very few of our inspectors had to go through it.
Manufacturing had set up a training program for their mechanics and it was mandatory for our
inspectors to go through their training, so I sent my inspectors to it and they came back and said
the only thing they're teaching them is how to roller stamp paperwork. They're not teaching them
how to build an airplane. They're not teaching them how to follow processes, just how to roll out
jobs. So that's kind of where it started was right when Charleston first opened up. And just over
the years, it just got worse and worse as far as bypassing procedures, not documenting defects,
not maintaining configuration control of the airplane. And towards the end of my time at Boeing,
the issues that I discovered was we had hundreds of defective parts and what a defective part is is
something that does not meet engineering or quality requirements and should not be used on an
airplane. So we had hundreds upon hundreds of missing nonconforming parts that they didn't
know where they went. So I wanted to make sure that we tracked these parts down, traced them
down [to] figure out where they went; if they'd been installed on airplanes, we needed to get
them corrected. My management shut me down. They basically what we call "pencil-whip" so
when you have a job that you have to perform at Boeing, it's a work order and it's got steps and
each step has the specific instruction of what you need to do or how you need to install a part in
the airplane. Well rather than mechanics actually installing the parts and inspectors verifying it,
they just sit at their desks and roller stamp things. And we find parts all over the place that the
paperwork says it's been installed, but parts are sitting over on a shelf.

Ralph Nader: Good heavens, I could see passengers listening to this and saying, yuck, what is
going on here? This is $150 billion plane and they're engaged in sloppy pencil-whipping as you
say. We're talking with John M. Barnett who is described by the Callaway Award for Civic
Courage as "A defiant trustee for airline passenger and crew safety as veteran quality control
manager for the Boeing corporation on the Boeing 747-767-777, and 787 programs." And you
have been quoted as saying "I haven't seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I’d put my name on
saying it's safe and air worthy." Well, have any of these planes crashed due to the sloppiness and
the misplaced parts at the Charleston plant?

John M. Barnett: No sir, they have not as of yet, but let me throw in a caveat that in
production, in aircraft production and working with Boeing all these years; we have a rule of
thumb--that it takes eight to 10 years for a defect to become an issue on an airplane. So, you
know, if you look at the eight- to 10-year timeframe before a defect becomes an issue and our
first plane which was delivered in 2012, you know, we're starting to get into that eight- to 10-
year window. So you're correct, we have not lost any 787s to date and thank God and I hope that
continues; I'm just really concerned that the way they were produced and delivered that is not
going to be the case in the future.

Ralph Nader: Well when Boeing's managers and higher ups saw your write-ups, your
documented write-ups on misplaced parts, missing parts, parts in the wrong place, shavings here
and there, did they move to correct it? And what are they doing if these planes are already up in
the air? Are they thinking about sending bulletins to the airlines? Apart from what they did to
you, which we'll get to, what are they doing for that? I mean who's in charge here? Doesn't all
this come down from top management?

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, it does. It comes from top down. But in Charleston, you're right, you
know that it's more about profits over safety and quality. And like I say they're really putting the
pressure on the mechanics just to close things down and quality, not document defects, and it's an
ongoing thing, and you hear about the titanium slivers that's all in the flight control wires and the
electronic equipment and that type of thing, you know, that's a major issue. And when I brought
it up, I insisted that the airplanes be cleaned and I told my boss right out I refuse to buy off on
this airplane as is. I was transferred to a different location. He brought in another way less in
experience quality manager than myself and leadership there decided that they weren't going to
take the time to clean the airplanes; they're going to deliver them! And they delivered. I filed my
complaint in January of 2017 with the FAA. And since then the FAA has gone in and did a spot
check. And they inspected ten airplanes in Charleston and they found these metal shavings on all
ten airplanes both locations. And what they did was they issued a DAI, a designated airways
inspection requirement to Boeing and what that DAI does is within the internal workings of
Boeing, it tells them that they have to clean these planes before they can deliver them. But where
they came up short, and I don't know if you caught it on the response that they did to the New
York Times story, that the FAA came back and said Boeing decided that those slivers weren’t a
safety flight issue. And I don't understand how electronic equipment full of slivers, metal
titanium slivers, all over the flight control wires, the electronic equipment, the power panels that
actually run the full-powered airplane; I don't see how that cannot be a safety flight issue with
metal shavings in there.

Ralph Nader: Well, tell us how many of these Dreamliners are up and what routes do they
usually fly?

John M. Barnett: So I'm not sure what the count is up to now. I know when I left, we were up
over 800 airplanes that had already been delivered. And they typically fly overseas, so they fly
over the oceans and the long routes to other countries.

Ralph Nader: And how many pilots?

John M. Barnett: Two, I believe. I believe it takes two to fly the 787.

Ralph Nader: And were there any counterfeit parts, which are not Boeing's fault, they don't
counterfeit parts, but there are reports over the years of counterfeit parts, for example, coming
from East Asia, very, very facsimile similar. Were there any counterfeit parts that you
discovered?

John M. Barnett: So actually, I was part of that back before when all this came up. I was
actually working on receiving inspection at the time when all the counterfeit parts issue came up.
And we put very specific safety catches in place to make sure that incoming parts were not
counterfeit. Again in Charleston, they’ve eliminated those. So we don't know for sure if there's
counterfeit parts coming or not to be honest with you. They bypassed those safety or those
quality check points.

Ralph Nader: Why weren't there FAA inspectors at the scene? This plant has 7,000 employees
in North Charleston, South Carolina? Why was it just left up to you and others to make these
discoveries? I think people think the FAA is the watchdog here.

John M. Barnett: Well, and that's another issue that really needs to be addressed, Ralph,
because like I say, I've been working for Boeing for 32 years. And over the years, I've seen the
FAA backing off on their oversight and they’ve become more of a partnership than an oversight.
And the FAA representatives there at Charleston, I actually worked real close with them; they
were afraid of Boeing to find too many issues because they would be transferred or kicked out of
the Charleston plant. So there was a very intimidation factor from Boeing to the FAA
representatives at Charleston. They were afraid to make too many waves.

Ralph Nader: Like federal poultry and meat inspectors, that's the same problem they've had
when they tried to be conscientious and do their job for the consumer. I want to ask you, when
these charges come out from you and after you set the standard of speaking out, I understand that
there were other whistleblowing safety complaints filed with federal regulators by Boeing
workers, does Boeing ever feel obliged to respond to these publicly?

John M. Barnett: So Ralph, their response is spun, you know; I mean they have what they call
spin doctors. They'll spin it to; we call it the Boeing switch. So if an employee raises a concern
saying as an example, if I raised a concern saying that people aren't buying off their job or are
not documenting defects, well then Boeing turns it around and accuses me of not documenting
defects. So the person that's complaining, they turn it around and point at them and say they're
the ones doing it wrong. So that's a big problem. So no, they're not willing to have a face-to-face
discussion and discuss it. It's just try to cover up, make it go away, and make the whistleblowers
look bad.

Ralph Nader: John, do you ever find engineering professors who don't have to worry about
Boeing paying them a salary supporting you? Do you ever find anybody outside Boeing in the
engineering and inspection profession taking the stand on your behalf?

John M. Barnett: Not personally other than my legal counsel, which is excellent, but not really.
I know that after the New York Times came out, I think it was CNN had some specialist on there
and they supported what I was saying that, you know, the metal slivers could be catastrophic and
we haven't gotten into the oxygen systems where the emergency oxygen for passengers on a
decompression event, I discovered that 25% of them do not work on the 787s.

Ralph Nader: Why don’t you repeat that because people are told all the time when the oxygen
drops, you know, put in on, every time you take a flight.

John M. Barnett: Put it on, right? And pull the cord.

Ralph Nader: So what you're saying is a quarter of them didn't work?

John M. Barnett: That's correct, yes, sir. A team and myself put together a control sample of
over 300 of them and out of those, 75 of them did not operate as required. They did not release
the oxygen. I elevated this to my management. Again I was removed from the investigation.
They turned it over to . . . I think it was a two-year employee within Boeing and they didn't do
anything with it.

Ralph Nader: What did they do with the 800 Dreamliners that have these oxygen units?

John M. Barnett: They have done nothing to correct it; they've done nothing to identify root
cause. They have done nothing to correct the issue, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: And no airworthiness directive from the FAA and no Boeing warning bulletin to
their customers, the airlines?

John M. Barnett: That's correct, yes.

Ralph Nader: Now tell us if you think there's an increasing danger in air safety from over
automation--from automating your type of job all the way to the kind of automation that
increased the likelihood that those Boeing MAXs would crash the so-called "software fix" that
took control of the plane away from the pilots. Some specialist I talked to called it the "silent
hijacker" and pushed the planes down with 340 human beings into the Java Sea and Ethiopian
farm area. Give us your take on this drive for automation which is, of course, to cut costs and
increase Boeing's bottom line even though, and this was not brought out by the congressional
hearing, John, Boeing has spent over 40 billion with a B dollars on stock buybacks to raise its
stock to increase the stock options of the compensation of Boeing's bosses. And as people are
getting to know, stock buybacks don't create a single job; they don't build a single product.
They're just there to increase the metrics for executive compensation. So here's Boeing cutting
corners that affect the lives of people in the future in these planes and they are, in effect, burning
tens of billions of dollars of stock buybacks.

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, that's inconceivable to me. I just . . . I can't wrap my head around it
because Boeing's number one priority should be the safety of the flying public. And the last six
years that I worked with them, that is the last thing on their mind is the safety of flying public,
because it's just about checking airplanes out and make the cash register ring.

Ralph Nader: Well, they claimed they've had a great safety record and automation will make it
safety plus. Your response.

John M. Barnett: So going back to my comment earlier, the rule of thumb in aircraft
production is it takes 8 to 10 years for a defect to manifest into an issue. So if you look at the last
20 years, that safety record that Boeing is touting right now is built on the past quality of 747s,
767s, 777s. So the 787 has not been in service long enough to meet the quality level or to prove
that they're at the quality level that the other programs are at, so that's what Boeing is saying that
they're at the highest quality level or they’ve had an excellent safety record. But again, we're just
now getting into that 8-10-year window, so.

Ralph Nader: You're pointing out something that needs elaboration. A lot of people have said
that after the McDonnell-Douglas merger with Boeing where the McDonnell-Douglas culture
took over Boeing, Boeing moved from a prime engineering, high-reputation firm to a financial
get-the- stock-up, stock-option-bonus firm and degraded its engineering priorities. In fact
someone said about the MAX that the Boeing marketeers overruled the Boeing engineers. In
your career, did you see that change firsthand?

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, I did, unfortunately. It was probably about six months or nine
months after the merger between Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas and we . . . within Boeing on a
production floor had a little . . . and I guess you'd call a little funnier, a little joke to say, you
know, Boeing didn't buy McDonnell-Douglas. McDonnell-Douglas bought Boeing with its own
money. And what I saw was when the merger happened, they brought in the McDonnell-Douglas
leadership to take over the Boeing company and it was like a light switch. It went from quality to
all about shareholder value. It was just amazing. Looking back, it just is so clear that the
direction of the company made a 180 turn at that point in time.

Ralph Nader: Well, how, as we conclude, and I want to get Steve and David in on this, but how
are you holding up professionally and personally? I mean they forced you into retirement.

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, they did. I'm not going to lie; it's been rough on me. It's been rough
on my family. I'm still dealing with issues. I'm still having anxiety attacks, PTSD, but it's been
very rough. It's taken a serious mental and emotional toll on me. But, you know, I want to try
very hard to keep the focus on the safety of the airplane. I mean that's what my story is about is
telling my story enough to where the right people get involved to make sure that these airplanes
are made correctly. Because the 787 carries 288 passengers plus crew. So the last thing I want to
do is wake up in the morning and see a 787 that's going down because titanium slivers caught
fire at 40,000 feet or a defective part broke loose because it wasn’t built correctly or they had a
decompression event and people weren't able to get emergency oxygen. I mean it's just, it keeps
me up at night, Ralph. I just, I can't sleep. It's taken a heck of a toll on me.

Ralph Nader: And for this level of professional concern, you got Boeing is trying to break you,
discredit you, defame you, and probably blackball you from any future employment
opportunities should you seek them.

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, actually that's already happened. I've been blocked; I was
blacklisted; I was blocked from two different positions that I'm aware of that I can prove. There
was probably others that I can't prove. And that's another thing, you know, when you're dealing
with Boeing, you have to have it in documentation because otherwise it's your word against
theirs and they're going to win every time. But I was able to keep my documentation.

Ralph Nader: You know I noticed that at the congressional hearings in the past few days, the
Boeing CEO Muilenburg was very contrite and humble and he paid compassionate attention to
the families holding up the pictures of their deceased relatives, but he knew and the Boeing
lobbyists behind him and the chairs knew that they own the Congress. They give money to over
300 members of Congress. They're saying to Congress, where else is anybody going to go? You
know, we're Boeing and Airbus and you're not going to go after the only domestic manufacturer
of big-body passenger jets. And it's really sickening to watch because the questions coming in
are tough within a narrow framework. They don't go into the fundamental design although
Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee laid out how much Muilenburg was being paid. And
asked him why he didn't get a pay cut. He's been paid 30 million bucks even after the crashes and
he didn't ask for a pay cut. And he replied to Congressman Cohen, "Well, it's up to the board of
directors." Well he's the chairman of the board of directors. I calculated in the three hours I was
sitting there listening to him, he made 45,000 bucks.

John M. Barnett: Wow. Unbelievable.

Ralph Nader: So we're dealing with corporate emperors who put on a show for the members of
Congress and they're humble, and they're always address them as congressmen and
congresswomen, but they know who's in charge. And by trying to break you, they're trying to
make you an example to anyone else at the Charleston plant. Well, look what happened to John
Barnett, you better shut up. But I'll tell you, if Boeing has to experience one or two more crashes
due to Boeing faulty inspection or Boeing negligent design, it's going to break Boeing because
it's no longer just two major companies, Airbus and Boeing dominating the world. You've got
now the Chinese, Brazilian, Japanese about ready to offer competitive large-size passenger
planes, number one. And number two, you may not know this, John, but in the 1950s, the British
aerospace industry was one of the leaders in the world and they produced a plane called the
Comet Jet, and three of them crashed and that was the end of the British aerospace industry
leadership in the world. So beware, Boeing, the board of directors of Boeing and the CEO,
digging in their heels on this Dreamliner mess and the disasters with the MAX have now a career
conflict of interest with the future wellbeing of Boeing and its workers, which is why the
families have demanded that there be a mass resignation as would have happened by the way in
Japan right away.

John M. Barnett: Right, absolutely.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, they would have bowed and resigned. David, Steve, any final comments or
questions?

John M. Barnett: If I could just touch on one thing . . .

Ralph Nader: Go ahead.

John M. Barnett: . . . you talked about the congressional hearing and unfortunately I'm in the
process of moving and I was able to get bits and pieces of it. And I guess my point is, you know,
I'd love to sit down with the CEO and the decision makers of Boeing and let them take my
concerns seriously and let's have a one-on-one discussion. I don't have a problem talking to any
of them.

Ralph Nader: John, we're demanding at the committees that a technical specialist testify after
Boeing and not let Boeing get away with it stonewalling.

John M. Barnett: That's excellent, that's an excellent plan. Yes, sir.

Ralph Nader: And you will testify I assume.

John M. Barnett: Absolutely. But one of the things I've noticed Dennis Muilenburg keeps
saying over and over is safety and quality is top priority. Well as the quality manager, I have a
perform ...or I don't know if you're familiar with performance management reviews, but it's a
yearly review where you sit down with your boss and they review your work over the year and
they grade you on how well you did. And based on those reviews, it defines your future raises,
your bonuses, your ability to participate in special leadership programs, that type of thing.
During my performance review as a quality manager, I was penalized and basically received no
raises. And he actually put this in writing that I needed to learn to work in the gray areas of the
procedures, that I was knowledgeable almost to a fault, that I needed to stop documenting quality
issues and defects in email, you know, so I guess my question to Dennis is you're sitting up here
saying that safety and quality is top priority, but yet you have quality managers within your
organization that are being penalized for following processes. So how does that make it top
priority?

Ralph Nader: Which is exactly why you should testify before Congress.

John M. Barnett: I'm willing anytime, Ralph. I mean like I say, they've done their damage to
me. You know, I was forced to retire and I will deal with what's ahead of me, but it really needs
to be brought to light before we start losing the airplanes. And that's my top concern is the safety
of the flying public. As a quality manager, that's what I swore to protect and I'm going to do
everything I can to.

Ralph Nader: And you put your entire career on the line.

John M. Barnett: Yes, sir, I did. I was put in a position to where I had to choose between the
company I love and the job I love and my career versus the safety of the flying public. And I had
to sacrifice those to protect the flying public or at least try to.

Ralph Nader: Beautifully said. Steve and David?

David Feldman: Well, I certainly don't know how to top that. I'm kind of speechless, sir, at
your courage and completely appalled at the arrogance of Boeing. And boy, it just makes you
want to have that whole company just crash.

John M. Barnett: There's some serious reckoning that needs to happen in there, you know, as
far as following procedures and building the airplane correctly is for sure needs to . . . something
needs to change before it's too late.

Ralph Nader: You know that Boeing is in trouble with their defense contracts, with NASA
contracts. The contractors in NASA and Boeing in the Pentagon are fed up. They’ve often
suspended the contracts that berated Boeing, so Boeing has a multi-faceted management
problem, of great serious proportion.

John M. Barnett: Yes sir, you're correct. And I'm sure you all heard about the KC-46 the Air
Force refused to take because they were finding so much FOD [Foreign Object Debris] You
know, that was just recently.

Ralph Nader: That's right.

David Feldman: Where are the pilots association, the stewardesses in all this?

John M. Barnett: Well, see, that's the thing is all of this is internal to Boeing. So as an
example, the slivers that I found and the 25% failure rate of the emergency oxygen system,
Boeing does not notify the customers that that's an issue. So they keep it under wraps internal to
Boeing and try to cover it up or make it go away so the pilots, the stewardesses, customers don't
know any of that.

Ralph Nader: Well, we're out of time, John M. Barnett, and congratulations on your Joe A.
Callaway Award for Civic Courage. I'm sure you get other awards, too. We hope to see you
before Congress to react to Boeings testimony and full speed ahead for you in the coming
months and years. Thank you.

John M. Barnett: Thank you, Mr. Nader. It's a pleasure talking to you. And I look forward to
meeting you very soon.

Ralph Nader: Certainly.

Steve Skrovan: We have been speaking with John M. Barnett, whistleblower and winner of the
Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage. For more about his story, go to
Ralphnaderradiohour.com. Right now, we're going to take a short break and check in with our
relentless corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber. When we come back, Ralph has his own
update about Boeing and will answer more of your questions. You are listening to the Ralph
Nader Radio Hour, back after this.

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., this is your
Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Friday, November 15, 2019. I'm Russell
Mokhiber.

A Massachusetts Buffalo Wild Wings is under investigation after a chemical mixture inside the
kitchen killed one employee and left at least 10 staff members and customers hospitalized.
According to Boston’s WHDH-TV, the fire department responded to the restaurant chain, in the
town of Burlington, Massachusetts, just after 5:30 p.m. A team of firefighters wearing hazmat
suits found a male worker suffering from nausea. The fire chief said in a news conference that
the man had been exposed to the chemical, which was being used to clean the floor, after another
individual mixed it and became ill. The man was rushed to a hospital where he later died.
Authorities said that at the time he inhaled the fumes, he was trying to save others from the
chemical.

For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mokhiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. We're going to take your listener questions, but first,
Ralph, you have some update on the Boeing MAX 8 situation. Why don't you tell our listeners
what's going on there?

Ralph Nader: Well Boeing, the FAA, and their friends in Congress are racing to unground
these 737-800 MAX by January or February. Now there aren't that many of them. They'll be in
the US about 70/80 of them immediately and you should not fly them. And when you make a
reservation, just ask the operator what's the equipment. That's the technical term. And if they say
it's the 737-800 MAX, say I'd like to fly on another airline. And the airlines are willing to go
along with this for the time being without charging you a reservation fee change like Delta does,
$200. The second point I want to make is that it's really pretty insidious what's going on. Boeing
has known from the beginning it has the country by the throat. It's the only domestic
manufacturer of all these big passenger jets. It gives money to over 300 members of Congress,
campaign cash, and it knows how to throw its influence around and to turn the FAA into putty
instead of a regulator. And so when David Calhoun, who is the Chairman of the Board of
Boeing; he's been on the board since 2009; he has a full-time job with the Blackstone Financial
giant, says on CNBC a few days ago "From the vantage point of our board, Dennis Muilenburg
has done everything right. Remember, Dennis didn't create this problem.” From the beginning,
he knew that MCAS," that's the software fix, so-called, that boomeranged and led to two
disasters, Boeing 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia with 346 fatalities. He says "From
the beginning, he knew that MCAS could and should have been done better and he's led a
program to rewrite MCAS to alleviate all these conditions that ultimately beset two unfortunate
crews and the families and the victims." That's completely false. Dennis Muilenburg was in on
this problem from the beginning. He represented the Boeing marketeers overruling the Boeing
engineers to get the MAX up as fast as possible to compete with Airbus's 320neo.
He's been CEO well before the Boeing MAX took off. He was in at the founding. And for his
rubber stamp, David Calhoun, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, to say he didn't create the
problem, is totally false. But you see, that's what's going on; the fix is in. The Congress is not
going to do much; they have resisted our demands that they have a panel for the consumer
groups like FlyersRights.org. You should go to it for updates and Consumer's Union and people
like myself who's written on aviation safety. They haven’t announced the hearing on that. They
haven't announced the hearing for the second round for the labor unions who have to deal with
these planes every day. They haven't announced, most crucially, a hearing for the technical
critics--the aerospace experts, the avionics, the aerodynamic experts who are beseeching to
testify and take apart Boeing's nonsense before the congressional committees. And they haven't
allowed the families who are now very, very knowledgeable about what's going on. They’ve met
with all kinds of technicians, the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board. They haven’t
been scheduled for hearing either in the House under Congressman DeFazio from Oregon or in
the Senate, Senator Wicker from Mississippi. So folks, it's going to be a very touch-and-go
situation in the next few weeks until the early part of 2020. Weigh in on your member of
Congress. They can say slow down Boeing, don't you dare certify FAA and we'll have more time
to get this thing in better shape. FlyersRights.org is your update for any questions you may have.

David Feldman: Well I have a question, Ralph, were you at the hearing where Muilenburg
apologized to the families a few weeks ago?

Ralph Nader: Yes, I was at the hearing. Muilenburg apologized more than once. He was told
by my niece, Nadia Millerron, after the hearing that when he apologizes, he should look the
families in the eye and not do it when he's looking straight ahead at the members of the House
committee at which point he did that. He did that again, but he was raked over the coals because
he was slated for a bonus of 15 million bucks, can you imagine? And he's dropped that. He's no
longer taking that. And he's now making 23 million a year and he was taken to task by some
members of the House committee on that. But what they didn't do is break it down. At the end of
the hearing they said, Mr. Muilenburg, you have now made $75,000 since you walked in this
room at 9:30 and left at 3:30.

David Feldman: So in spite of all of that, you're feeling is that Congress will ultimately not call
them to task in a serious way?

Ralph Nader: Unless there's a new surge of air traveler demands, because they are afraid that
the air travelers will start gumming up the works by saying we're not going to fly the MAX. The
airlines will be perplexed on how to handle this. The Boeing MAX brand will be seriously
tarnished. And so what they're worried about, the air travelers and the labor unions, and above
all, the families of the bereaved who are really, really organized and are getting all kinds of
access to the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], to the Department of Transportation to the
House to the Senate, and even spent a couple of hours with Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of
Boeing. So if all these things come together, what will we get? We will get the publicity of the
way Boeing is supposedly going to fix this plane that they have sent in secret to the FAA. We'll
get that out in the open; we'll let the technical critics go over it, have a 60-day comment period,
and then we'll see where we're at. And at the same time, Congress should have the hearings I just
mentioned with the labor unions, the families, the consumer groups, and the aerospace experts,
some of whom work for Boeing, others are subject matter specialists and do they have a story to
tell.

David Feldman: So Ralph, in one kind of simple sentence, what is your demand? What are the
demands of the family here that they want from Boeing? Do they want it completely grounded,
build a new plane, what or some other solution?

Ralph Nader: They say the Boeing 737-800 MAX is a new plane. It should have been subject
to a full certification; that's what they're demanding. That would include analyzing the
aerodynamic instability problem as well as the faulty, complicated software fix they call the
MCAS [Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System], full certification, and if the plane is
ever slated to be ungrounded, full simulator training, as Sully, Captain Sullenberger testified for
the House in June, should be required of the pilots by the airlines, and Boeing’s full certification
[and] full simulator training, before that plane is up.

David Feldman: In your opinion, knowing a lot about avionics, do you think this plane would
pass the certification?

Ralph Nader: Well it depends on how stringent the FAA is. They can pass anything. They've
been pretty permissive with Boeing...

David Feldman: Right, because they allowed Boeing to basically certify it themselves.

Ralph Nader: That's right. And they weren’t up to date on the software fix. They weren't even
informed by Boeing that the software strength was increased fourfold. And Boeing didn't even
notify the airlines or the pilots that this stealth hijacker, this software, could take the control of
the plane away from the pilots and nosedive it into the Java Sea or into a farmer's area in
Ethiopia at 550 miles per hour, killing 346 people.

David Feldman: Now, does the FAA have the expertise and the staff to be able to do this?
Because I thought that was the excuse before and that's why they allowed Boeing to do it.

Ralph Nader: Yes, they didn't have adequate staff, but they have adequate resources to hire
consultants and people who can immediately come to grips with this even more profoundly than
what FAA staff can do.

Steve Skrovan: You would think they could have maybe an independent blue-ribbon panel like
what happened after the Challenger disaster, in the space shuttle disaster.

Ralph Nader: Well, they've had these panels, Steve, but the problem is they're all looking
backward properly as to what happened, who knew what-when, who covered up, who didn't
inform, who didn't respond. Now the panels have to address the question, should this plane ever
fly again? And if it does, under what conditions? And that looking-forward panels have not been
brought together, because they don't want to experience the conclusion of some of the findings,
which is that unless that airframe and the injured overload problem that leads to the prone-to-
stall inclination by the 737 MAX is addressed, the plane should never fly. And they're not
willing to burden Boeing with that kind of economic price. So it all comes down to Boeing cash,
Boeing profits.

David Feldman: And for the victims to be satisfied, it's going to take a movement and publicity
and flyers knowing about these problems and potentially not flying on this plane for them to get
their attention.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, and the coordinator is Flyers Rights run by Paul Hudson who lost his
daughter at 16 years old in the Lockerbie collision over Scotland 30 years ago. Go to
FlyersRights.org; he'll say exactly what he thinks you can do vis-a-vis Congress and elsewhere.
We are passing out buttons "Axe the Max" for people to wear; take a picture, put it up on the
internet. What Boeing can't control is a growing consumer boycott. Calls to airlines, even if
you're not flying, just say we don't want you to use this plane. Boeing cannot control that. They
can control the political situation in Washington. They can hammer the airlines and say you’ve
got no choice, but they can't control resistance by the bread and butter of the airlines, the air
traveler.

Steve Skrovan: All right, well you heard it, listeners, Flyers Rights is your source of updates
and information and it really could be a consumer movement that decides the fate of the Boeing
MAX 8. So let's move to some listener questions now, David.

David Feldman: This is from Paul G. Warrick, Ralph. He says, "I live in a Trump-supporter
region. If you talk to one Trump supporter, you talked to them all. The problem as I see it, they
are fed daily propaganda mostly by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etcetera. I would like to know
who are the big money players supporting this subverted often toxic media? If you control the
people, you control the politicians, right? Shouldn't journalists seek out these big money players
and interview them on their positions on policies and issues? Politicians are puppets. Why waste
time on them when there are deeper sources we should focus on; make them answer for their
manipulations of our government and media out them."

Ralph Nader: All right, the big money players, first of all, are the advertisers on Fox and Rush
Limbaugh. You can just get their name by listening to their ads. They're usually the big
companies [like] General Motors and the Merck drug companies, Bank of America, you name it.
So they're the ones. Without advertising, no Fox News, no Rush Limbaugh, and no Facebook,
and no Google. Though there are consumer groups who focus on the advertisers--they threaten
boycotts, they announce boycotts, they go after the brand, and they're making some progress in
that way. You'll notice that when there is misbehavior by a certain talk show on television and
they start losing ads, that person has either lost his or her job or they tend to reconsider how far
they're going to go with their blathering.

Steve Skrovan: All right. This next question comes from a long-time listener and frequent
questioner, usually asks very good questions, Earl Ammerman IV. And he says, "Why is Joe
Biden ignoring the fact that in order to accomplish his Moonshot to Cure Cancer, there needs to
be healthcare infrastructure such as paid sick leave. In order to make the Moonshot to [Cure]
Cancer work for actual cancer patients who can't afford to miss work, because they lack paid sick
leave, and might lose their house and job if they're hospitalized. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the
Moonshot to Cure Cancer seems to be an Orwellian policy that seems to benefit drug companies
by subsidizing their research and development while cancer patients get the short end of the stick
because they won't benefit because the $100,000 chemo pills would be too expensive and cancer
is not like the common cold. You don't just kick it after a couple of days. Cancer patients miss
work to seek treatment. If they don't have paid sick leave, they won't be able to keep a roof over
their head due to how expensive cancer treatment is."

Ralph Nader: Well, a lot of what you say, Earl, is correct. If the moonshot actually produces
policies to prevent cancer, then I think part of your legitimate complaints are avoided because
people will not get cancer. They won't have to deal with unpaid sick leave, etcetera, etcetera. But
these big moonshot programs do increase the profits enormously of the companies that are in the
arena to make money from cancer treatment or all the other aspects that cancer patients need.
And that's where the profiteering comes in and you know as well as others that these companies
are going to try to get the lion's share of that taxpayer bonanza as they see it. And by the way,
we're one of the few countries in the world that call themselves democracies that don't have paid
sick leave.

Steve Skrovan: This last question is not really a question. I just wanted to share it with our
listeners and with you on the air, Ralph. It comes from a Manal Hamzeh and I don't know if
that's a he or she actually, but it says, "Dear Ralph, I wanted you to know that my father, Dr.
Zaid Hamzeh, has been listening to your radio hour podcasts lately. Today, his weekly column in
the daily Al-Rai, Amman, Jordan, starts with you and the interview you had with Steven
Greenhouse when we talked about unions.” And it says “your impact and reach are critical
locally and globally. Thank you, Manal." I just wanted to share that with you and get a reaction.

Ralph Nader: Well, Thank you very much, Manal. It's really good we've had feedback from
places all over the world and that's one of the benefits of the new technology; it can carry your
program everywhere. And I'm glad that some of the interviews we’ve had have relevance to
conditions and issues of justice in these lands around the world.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you for your questions. Keep them coming on the Ralph Nader Radio
Hour website. Now Ralph and David, before we go, I just want to take a few moments to alert
our listeners that we're going to be releasing a special Ralph Nader Radio Hour on the
impeachment of Donald J. Trump. It's going to be in the form of a series of podcasts and will
feature Ralph and our Resident Constitutional Scholar Bruce Fein. As regular listeners know,
Bruce Fein is no radical lefty. He is a Republican who has worked in the Reagan Administration
as well as for conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise
Institute. As a young lawyer, he was even in the Justice Department during the impeachment
inquiry over Richard Nixon. He also worked with the Republican Floor Manager Bob Barr, not
Bill Barr, Bob Barr, different guy. He worked with Congressman Bob Barr from Georgia on the
impeachment of Bill Clinton about 20 years ago. Bruce is a real stickler for the Constitution and
he's written extensively about that founding document and how we as a country have strayed
from many of its core articles. So this series of podcasts is an effort to take you beyond the
politics of the moment, as perilous as these times are, and offer to our listeners as well as those in
Congress, a constitutional reset of sorts. Bruce has outlined 14, that's 14 impeachable offenses
that could be leveled at this president. Most are exclusively particular to Donald Trump, but
there are others, which could be leveled at the past half dozen presidents as well. Each episode
will dive into each count in the indictment, so to speak. So look for this series of podcasts on our
website, our YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter, and any other platform from which you
download the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. So look for our special report on the impeachment of
Donald J. Trump. I want to thank our guest again, John M. Barnett. For those of you listening on
the radio, that's our show. For you podcast listeners, stay tuned for some bonus material we call
the Wrap Up. A transcript of this show will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website soon
after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube channel. And for
Ralph's weekly column, it's free, go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mokhiber, go to
corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: And Ralph has got two new books out, the fable, How the Rats Re-Formed the
Congress. To acquire a copy of that, go to ratsreformcongress.org. and To the Ramparts: How
Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn't Too Late to Reverse
Course. We will link to that also.

David Feldman: Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour when we speak to
legendary FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you everybody. Stay alert.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 296: The CDC’s Culture of Fear
November 9, 2019

In our continuing series honoring whistleblowers, Ralph welcomes winner of the Joe A. Calloway Award for Civic Courage, Dr. George Luber, former head of the Centers for Disease Control’s Climate Health program, who despite pressure from the newly-minted Trump Administration, blew the whistle after refusing to cancel a convention on how the climate crisis was affecting public health.

George Luber is an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His research interests include the health impacts of environmental change and biodiversity loss, harmful algal blooms, and the health effects of climate change. Dr. Luber headed the CDC’s climate health program until it was eliminated in 2018 by the Trump White House. The nation’s premier health protection agency continues to retaliate against him for speaking out on the climate crisis and its public health effects. He has since filed for whistleblower status with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and has just received the Joe A. Calloway Award for Civic Courage.

“The most frightening thing, actually, is that somebody would make a decision like this in anticipating the potential blowback from the [Trump] Administration. That to me is frightening, because it’s the most insidious form of power. And when you can get people to do things for you without even asking them, that I think is the most frightening thing. To get people to act on your behalf in ways that they normally wouldn’t merely out of fear of what you might do.”

Dr. George Luber, winner of the Joe A. Calloway Award for Civic Courage

“I was escorted by armed guards when I needed to get some books out of my office [at the CDC]. I had an armed escort and they asked me to come at 11:00am – the height of the day when everybody is around intending to humiliate me – and marched me through our large ten story office building with a large armed guard behind me that even followed me to the bathroom.”

Dr. George Luber, winner of the Joe A. Calloway Award for Civic Courage

RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EP 296 TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with my co-host David Feldman. Hello there, David.

David Feldman: Hello everybody. Another important show this morning.

Steve Skrovan: Yes, indeed. And to help us through that is the man of the hour Ralph Nader. Hello there, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello everybody. We're going to show what heroism is really about.

Steve Skrovan: That's correct. Today we continue our series on whistleblowing. On the show, we're going to feature a winner of the Joe A. Callaway Civic Courage Awards. Ralph, why don’t you tell us what the Joe A. Callaway Awards are and how they came about.

Ralph Nader: It's quite a story Joe A. Callaway was an empresario on Broadway and he wanted to leave some of his estate to good works. And he figured out that one would be an annual award for people demonstrating civic courage, not political, not business, not military, [but] civic courage in our country who are unsung, often shoved aside from their employment and mistreated. And so he contacted us by letter and my sister, Claire Nader, has been administering these awards for the last 30 years. This is the 30th anniversary. And Joe Callaway stipulated that he wanted the award to go, not only to people who demonstrated civic courage, but did so at some personal risk like they risked their job; they risked their career; they risked their sustenance, whatever. And that stipulation has brought forth some of the finest people one could ever meet all over the country, taking their conscience to work, blowing the whistle, risking their careers, and trying to save lives, prevent injuries, prevent disease, save taxpayer money, and generally try to keep the country on straight and narrow path of moral probity.

Steve Skrovan: Our guest is George Luber who was in charge of the climate change program at the Centers for Disease Control. In other words, he was studying how a hotter planet will affect human health. But at the dawn of the Trump Administration, not only was the term "climate change" removed from the CDC website, but Dr. Luber was directed to cancel a conference on climate change. He objected and the CDC first attempted to fire him then decided just to send him home on administrative leave and banned him from the building. Eventually he went public with his story and groups from across the world, have begun campaigns to restore the climate change and health program. And as always, we will take a moment to find out what's happening in the dark recesses of the corporate underworld with our corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber. And if we have time at the end, Ralph will answer some of your listener questions. But first, let's meet our Callaway Award Winner. David?

David Feldman: Dr. George Luber is an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His research interests include the health impacts of environmental change and biodiversity loss, harmful algal blooms, and the health effects of climate change. Dr. Luber headed the CDC's Climate Health Program until it was downgraded and diluted by the Trump White House in 2018. The nation's premier health protection agency continues to retaliate against him for speaking out on the climate crisis and its public health effects. He has since filed for whistleblower status with the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel and has just received the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Dr. George Luber.

George Luber: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

Ralph Nader: Welcome, yes, Dr. Luber and congratulations on your Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, supremely deserved. I think before started, please explain what does an epidemiologist do? I don't think there's enough of them in this country and they're desperately needed. What does an epidemiologist do and what different areas of health and safety have they been working on--before we get into your situation?

George Luber: Sure. Well an epidemiologist is somebody that studies the patterns of diseases and the causes of diseases covering almost an infinite amount of exposures and health outcomes. We look for a statistical association between a particular exposure, so bad air quality. And look for what that might do to certain parts of the population or to the population as a whole. We essentially dive through data looking for causes of illness and death. And my expertise covers a wide range of environmental exposures, which include bad water quality, air quality, extreme weather events and the like, and try to build a case for why certain exposures are harmful to people's health.

Ralph Nader: Just to give a specific example from your own experience, epidemiologists such as yourself, make connections. They make causal connections; they make all kinds of relationships that make us understand what's going on. And for example, if a new disease comes up and it's infectious, epidemiologists will try to find where it came from, the causes. They're try to find who's most vulnerable, where the vulnerability is, and maybe find situations where people are not as vulnerable. It's so absolutely critical in a highly technological society and there are just only a few thousand epidemiologists operating in the United States. So let's get to your area, the Centers for Disease Control arguably is the single most important agency in the federal government, because if you're dealing with global pandemics, viral pandemics, bacterial pandemics and the such, you're dealing with potentially tens of millions of fatalities and hundreds of millions of sicknesses. And yet its budget is about seven and a half billion dollars, which is half of what the Pentagon spends on the ballistic missile defense program that has never worked since Reagan opened it with great fanfare. They're now spending about $14 billion a year, that's the kind of priorities. Now, you had an 18-person staff inside the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. I believe the budget was about $10 million and you were supposed to be looking into the connection between global public health and climate disruptions--tornadoes, destruction of habitats, droughts, widespread fires, hurricanes and, for example, if you change the habitats, the malarial carrying mosquitoes will spread malaria beyond its present regions now. That's an example of how epidemiology works. You're working away at this and then the Trump regime opens its doors in January 2017. So explain to our listeners what happened.

George Luber: Well, I'd be happy to. Before I begin though, it's important that I make it clear that what I'm presenting to you today is my own statement. It doesn't represent the federal government or the agency in which I work. These are my own opinions and my own statements and that I'm sitting here talking with you while I am on vacation leave, so I'm not using government time or resources to do so just to make clear to everybody that this is on my own. So, yeah, the election happened in the fall of 2016 and a few weeks later, I got called into the director's office, the director for the center, the National Center for Environmental Health that I work in. And he told me that we've got a problem. I had been working on a large scientific meeting, a 3-day meeting that was going to be held in the CDC headquarters in Atlanta called The Climate & Health Summit. It was a science meeting for three days and it was intended to raise awareness both within CDC and the broader public health community that hey, there are folks working on climate change and health; we're actually kind of an obscure part of public health, but because of recent statements by the World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, stating that climate change is the single greatest threat to public health in the 21st century, since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] released its 2014 report stating unequivocally that humans are changing the earth climate system and so on, that we wanted to get public health who have their traditional bunkers that they work in that there is groundbreaking work going on in climate change and health. We had organized this meeting, again with a blind eye to politics, which was rather naive considering what had been going on in the country. And in my infinite wisdom, I wanted to get high-level speakers for our meeting and called on Al Gore [to see] if he would like to be our keynote speaker. I thought he's a great advocate for climate change. And apparently that was a mistake because the director said, you know you have this meeting planned for February--this was three weeks after the inauguration. And he said, “You're going to have to cancel meeting.” And I was blown away! We've spent this past six, seven months working on this thing. We got a full agenda. We've got invitees; it’s all paid for. Money's out the door; why are we cancelling this meeting? He said, “the optics aren’t good.” And I said, “Do you think the optics would be good if you cancel the meeting and the news press got ahold of this?” This kind of sounds like scientific censorship and we have a scientific integrity policy that prohibits us from doing this. And they said, “The optics aren’t good. I want you to send out a letter of cancellation.” And I said, “I'm not going to do that. I'm not sending out a letter with my name on it belying my scientific belief that this is an important topic.” And they were surprised that I would be so obstinate, but I said, “No, this is my professional credibility here. If you want to cancel the meeting, well, you're my boss; you can cancel the meeting, but I'm not doing it.” And so they sent out a press release shortly after that meeting was canceled. And I just steeled myself for some difficult times.

Ralph Nader: And this was a very technical agenda here. It wasn't just a celebrity speaker. We have books on the subject. These are really people who've sunk their teeth into the nuances of this whole problem.

George Luber: We had the best scientists . . . what we did was we solicited abstracts or short blurbs on the research they’d like to speak on. We had a panel select the appropriate speakers. We had numerous sessions on very specific topics--changes in hydro-geology and waterborne diseases, and very specific technical topics for public health that we'd organized into sessions of several speakers, and we were aiming to have the biggest and best meeting of this type today. And I think we had it. We had pulled together a fantastic meeting with all kinds of partners, congressional organizations.

Ralph Nader: And it was open to the press, right?

George Luber: Yes.

Ralph Nader: Okay. So I always thought the CDC was about as impervious to partisan political intrusion as a federal agency. I mean in the past, Republican and Democrat administrations would not compete to manipulate politically what the CDC does. They didn't fund it adequately, but it was considered an agency of professional independence. And so I was pretty astonished, even with my minimal regard for the Trump people, that they began moving in. Now how did they move in? Did they appoint a new director who was taking orders? Did they put people at secondary levels under the new director? I mean it's astonishing that an agency that is full of PhDs and MDs, etcetera, suddenly became a political football for Donald Trump who has called climate disruption "a Chinese hoax." So how did this happen and it came down on you like a hammer, we'll talk about that in a moment.

George Luber: Yeah, in my 17 years of the agency, I held the exact same view, that this was a science-driven agency done so for the protection of people's health and that politics had nothing to do with it. And I had operated my program and strategies that we’d employ, including unfortunately inviting Al Gore in a political environment. You know, it's a wonderful organization with incredibly passionate and driven scientists that are so hungry for their mission that we spend inordinate amount of hours working on work that we just have enormous pride in. And I have no direct knowledge of how this happened. The individual that . . . Pat Breysse, the center director that asked me to cancel the meeting was put in place during the Obama Administration. I think at that time we had a director that was on his way out; we knew that. But I don't know who made the decision . . . or the most frightening thing actually, is that somebody would make a decision like this and anticipating the potential blowback for the administration. And that to me is frightening, because it's the most insidious form of power. And when you can get people to do things for you without even asking them, that, I think, is the most frightening thing that people will act on your behalf in ways that they normally wouldn't, merely out of fear of what you might do. So, I suspect that's the case. And it frightens me that we would go down that path.

Ralph Nader: Well one of the ways they kept you down was to reorganize, which is a typical bureaucratic technique. So what they took your 18-person climate and health program and subsumed it under a larger program dedicated to the problems of asthma, and so it was fair to say that your program, while technically not abolished, it was degraded and diluted, and then they pushed you out, forbade you to even talk to your 18-member staff. And I understand that if you wanted to come back to where you worked for a visit, you had to get permission and you were in a state of limbo, suspended but not fired. Could you describe that?

George Luber: In addition, I was escorted by armed guards. When I needed to get some books out of my office and I had an armed escort, they asked me to come at 11:00 a.m., which is the height of the day when everybody's around intending to humiliate me and marched me through our large 10-story office building with a large armed guard behind me that even followed me to the bathroom.

Ralph Nader: Everything but shackles and irons?

George Luber: Correct. And Ralph, in my 17 years at the CDC, I have never been spoken to sideways. I'd never been reprimanded in any way; I'd received outstanding performance reviews and promotions that belie any attempt at making my character unsavory. So they did a number of things to the climate health program, which is appropriated in a discreet line item in the budget, which means Congress appropriated $10 million for climate and health programs at CDC. Since it's a direct line, it cannot be, by law, used in any other way. And I as a manager in charge of that appropriation, am responsible for making sure that the public's money is managed in an appropriate way and that that I'm a good steward of the public's money. And if Congress says work on climate and health, I cannot decide that this needs to be worked on for asthma prevention and management. So what they did was they took the climate health program that was standalone and the asthma program that was standalone, along with a number of other programs, and they blended them together and my program got merged with asthma. And I was made the acting branch chief of the program and immediately my superiors had asked me to dismantle the team that I had built in climate change, which is a highly unique team with unique set of expertise from climatology to geographic information systems. And the team that I’d built, whose sole purpose was to work on this unique set of challenges, they wanted me to move those individuals to other teams in the asthma program. And I said, “Well, you can't do that because they're going to be supervising your supervisors; people are working on different lines, and how are we going to get around that fact that you can't merge the personnel . . . the expenditure of their time between different programs?” And there was a woman, one of my managers above me, refused to answer that question, but she had --her name is Laurie Johnson-- she had two contractors from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which I found highly unusual and odd and I'd never seen this before, work with me on an organizational plan for this new branch, and encouraged me to accept this new organizational plan that would essentially blend the money. And I kept telling the contractors, "You can't do this." They're like, "Well, Laurie says you can." And I said, "Well, you can't. I've taken appropriations classes, I have to, and why isn’t Laurie in this meeting?" "Oh, well, she couldn't come." And this went on for several weeks and I refused. I said, "Listen, unless we can address this topic of the appropriations, which I am responsible for, so I could get in trouble if I allow this to happen because I know that it's illegal." And I said, "Laurie, tell me what the workaround is for this mixing of the money, because I don't see how it could happen and I'm not happy with this." And as we went back and forth, back and forth, never with a response from Laurie about the appropriateness of this, I was called into a meeting with the senior managers in the center. And it was quite odd because I'd gotten a call up to the director's office one day and I sat down and one of the deputy directors for the center, Donna Knutson, said "We have some troubling allegations against you." And I was like, "What? What are you talking about?" And she said, "Did you author a book in 2015?" And I said, "Well, yeah, I authored a textbook on climate change and health." And she said, "Well, we have no records in the ethics approval office." Because this was an activity I did on my own and I got the approval to do it. And since I had to let CDC ethics approval office know, that's what I was working on. She said, "We have no evidence that you actually received ethics approval for it." I said, "Well, I did. I have the form in my office. Let me go get it." She's like, "No, you need to hand me your phone, your badge, and your keys, and we're going to . . . you need to leave campus now."

Ralph Nader: Let me interrupt here. This is, listeners, the kind of top-down inquisition that they impose on people of conscience and competence in the state bureaucracies, federal, state, local and corporate bureaucracies. The larger point that Dr. Luber is making is that he refused to spend money contrary to what was authorized for his program by the US Congress. He refused to spend money. Because if you spend money in an unauthorized way, that is a violation of the Antideficiency Act, which prescribes a felony as a punishment. Now to take an even bigger arc, what Donald Trump was doing was doing this throughout federal regulatory agencies, moving money around for purposes that wasn't authorized such as moving money from the Defense Department for schools and other social services for the children of military families to build his so-called Wall on the Mexican Border; that's a crime! That's not just an impeachable offense; it's a crime under the Antideficiency Law. And the other web you were caught up with--we're talking with Dr. Georgie E. Luber, who was the head of the Climate and Health program at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta; the other aspect of this is that he is aiding and abetting a tremendous threat to our national security, which is climate disruption. It's already blowing apart communities and you see it on TV news. And so it's not just that he's stopping you from trying to head it off in your particular way and stopping others from trying to minimize or mitigate these huge storms and tornadoes and droughts, etcetera, short-term and long-term, he's actually making it worse by unleashing coal-burning pollution and scrapping control standards on greenhouse gases--go oil gas--go coal. He calls coal clean, beautiful coal. So he's aiding and abetting a massive assault from an abused nature against the health and safety and property values of our country and actually making it worse. That should be an impeachable offense that Congress should pay attention to. Anyway, where are you now? I mean you're sitting outside your workplace, outside the Centers for Disease Control, you've given the media interviews; you're very good about communicating with the media. Are they trying to stop you from doing that? Have they suspended your pay?

George Luber: No. Fortunately they had served me charges in October of last year, in '18. And with the help of lawyers from an organization called PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, we were able to have those charges completely removed. They had accused me of all kinds of fabricated and just . . . I mean so poorly done. I mean they . . . I'm also a professor at Emory University, and I teach a class their regularly on climate and health. And they had accused me of having my subordinates teach classes for me and, --which I didn't-- and they said I was having them teach classes that I never even taught. They never bothered to check the class schedule to see if that course even existed. And they said you had somebody teach this class. I'm like, "I never taught that class; that's somebody else." And numbers of just anonymous accusations of something that I was able to concretely show evidence that it wasn’t even true. And it was just remarkably poorly done, which maybe, I think I'm grateful for, the incompetence of the staff at the center. They were not able to put together a credible set of charges. Maybe it was done in order to help me. I'm hoping that some folks on the inside felt some solidarity in this.

Ralph Nader: Talk about trumped-up charges, eh?

George Luber: Yes, um-hum, it was. And they removed all of them.

Ralph Nader: So they suspended you for 120 days to prevent you from speaking to the media?

George Luber: They prevented me from speaking to the media going back before they removed me from my position. This goes back right after the Al Gore debacle they cut off all my media access and travel access. And that dragged on for about a year plus. And then after my absence with not doing their dirty work with the appropriations money, that's when I was removed from campus. And since then, that was March of '18, I have been moved to different assignments around CDC in assignments that are unrelated to frankly anything that I have expertise in and I've been bounced around to . . . I'm on my fourth assignment and I'm still working and I'm prohibited from coming to the campus in which I'm assigned to. I work from home 100% of the time, isolated. And I review now scientific manuscripts on laboratory analysis of environmental exposure, something which I am profoundly unqualified to do. So I'm part of the clearance chain for laboratory manuscripts.

Ralph Nader: Listeners should know that one of the first things Donald Trump did was ordered the banning of the use of the term "climate change" not only to Centers for Disease Control, but at the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies. This is like right out of the Kremlin and Stalinist Russia. And the second thing, they didn't like you appearing with Matt Damon in a show called Years of Living Dangerously.

George Luber: Well that was during the Obama years and actually we got a good bit of support for that. I think perhaps with the current crop of managers at the center don't like the attention the topic is getting, and you know, it is . . . our little unit was one of the most productive in the center and was also the one that they felt gave them the most vulnerability politically. And so anything they could do to . . . and they said to me, we . . . you need to lay low, take a low profile. And I saw this as a tremendous opportunity to raise our profile and I refused to do so. We were in discussions with the National Geographic channel on "Mars" series, which is a very successful show there, for me to be a regular contributor to and I received an email saying "George Luber will never be on that show" (capitals, bolded, underlined). And they did not want me to seek media attention and part of my job is to raise awareness on this issue. It is critically important that we take every opportunity we can to let the public know that this is a real and credible threat to you now in your communities and you should be worried.

Ralph Nader: Well fortunately you're being represented pro bono by this wonderful nonprofit group in Washington and Eugene, Oregon called PEER, which started out to protect the scientific integrity of foresters in US Forest Service who opposed clear cutting on behalf of companies like Weyerhaeuser and were retaliated against. So you're in good hands. You have filed through them a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, which is in the Justice Department, seeking an investigation and defense of your rights. What are you seeing in terms of your 18 colleagues--are they distancing themselves; are the silently supporting you? How's the personal impact on you?

George Luber: Well, the personal impact was tremendous, but it'd be much worse without the folks up here especially Kevin Bell, one of the most competent and dedicated lawyers that I've ever encountered. And they work tirelessly on this issue. And they remind me of my staff who took this issue of climate change to heart and made it their life's mission, their life's work. These people are driven to work on this topic because they want to contribute. And of the 18 staff, several have left. You know, we're a group that has different skillsets, project managers, etcetera, communicators, and so on and so forth, but the heart of the scientific knowledge base at that group is all gone. Myself, I've been the lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I've written the textbook on this issue. I've been a convening lead author for the Third and Fourth US National Climate Assessment, on and on. And what's left in the program unfortunately is not much expertise. And that is really what loss is--the core knowledge base that we need in order to move this forward. We're left with individuals with not much experience or credentials on this.

And yes, I do keep in contact with some of them, but frankly, it is a culture of fear right now. And many are so . . . they have told me, "George, I support you, I can provide evidence that would exonerate you on this charge undoubtedly. But I cannot do so because I fear that I will be retaliated against." They have been told directly by the new person who took over from me, Josephine Malilay, that if they speak to the press . . . and which is a . . . we have a First Amendment right to be able to do so on our own time and I've been advised of that by CDC general counsel on numerous occasions, that you will get in trouble if you speak to the press. And if you do get contacted by the press, you need to report it to me immediately. That's the typical type of intimidation factors that go along with this. And so we have a group of young, smart, and scared individuals.

Ralph Nader: Well, George, some listeners may be wondering, how can these federal employees over you, do such things to you? What recourse you have against them personally? What lawsuits can be filed against them personally all the way up to the White House level? Are they all immune?

George Luber: I wish I had Kevin here to help me with that question, because I really don't know the answer to that. You know, we're focused on CDC restoring the program as it was intended by Congress to do, having it in hands of managers that are good stewards of the public’s money in order to run this program and care about this topic. There are parts of the CDC that would love to have this program and see it flourish.

Ralph Nader: Well, do you have a patron or two in Congress? When there was a whistleblower, Ernie Fitzgerald in the Pentagon on the C-5A air cargo plane and he showed that the plane had a tendency to lose a wing now and then, he was really pounced on in the Pentagon and he went to Senator Proxmire, William Proxmire from Wisconsin, who became one of his defenders and had hearings on the subject. Do you have any backers by name in the House and Senate, and if not, why not?

George Luber: Well, we do. Actually just about a half an hour ago I recorded a video for social media for Senator Bernie Sanders. And you of course know, that his stance on this topic is very strong and they've been supportive. On the House side, there’ve been a number of efforts to support this. Congresswoman Lauren Underwood from Michigan has proposed legislation to have the climate program restored as an individual unit. And Congressman Shalala as well has expressed tremendous support for this issue and is working, I believe with Appropriations on what can be done about this.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, I may add, Congressman Shalala was a Former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration and she ran for Congress after being president of a major university in Florida. Why don't you try Senator Edward Markey to back you, too?

George Luber: Again, yes, I believe the legislative affairs folks at PEER and another whistleblower group called the Government Accountability Project are working with Markey as well as a few others, Senator Whitehouse, I believe.

Ralph Nader: Well listen, listeners, this is not just about Dr. George Luber. Let me read you a passage in the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage about Dr. Luber. "His unremitting position on behalf of scientific method, integrity and expertise, presently under attack as never before in history is an unwavering beacon for other federal government climate scientists suffering similar retaliation. Using his many splendored approach in communication skills through academic publications and in popular media, Dr. Luber pledged he will “not go away" tenaciously responding to intensifying climate chaos." I have a little point to make to any Trump voters who are listening to this program. I know that you love Donald Trump. In fact, you may be part of many Trump voters who say when they're asked the following: "People say Trump is crazy, but what he's saying is what I'm thinking. Does that mean I'm crazy?" Well let me tell you, we'll leave that judgment to yourself Trump voters, but what Dr. Luber wants to make sure is that you don't get an infectious disease and infect others because you're under health and safety protection. That's what he's looking for. It doesn't matter whether you're a Republican, Democrat, Conservative, or Liberal, you better pay attention. There's the smasharoos who are breaking up the Centers for Disease Control, politicizing them, favoring the big corporations who don't want certain things done and stifling people like George Luber, who relentlessly were determined to take their conscience to work so they can help save your lives or anticipate and prevent global pandemics and epidemics. David and Steve, jump in here.

David Feldman: I'm confused about the hierarchy over at the CDC. Who are you taking orders from in terms of their education? What kind of degrees do these people have who are giving you these orders? Are these doctors, are these PhDs?

George Luber: Yeah, well the center directors are PhDs and industrial hygienists. But the . . . I believe the real direction of whether the meeting should be canceled was not . . . this is a director that is frequently on travel, unlike, I think this is my fifth center director; this center director spends a tremendous amount of time out of town and is remarkably absent for much of his tenure here and therefore the shop is run by folks without PhDs. These are policy people and that's the trend that I've noticed at CDC over my 17 years and we've always, you know, impressed the fact that science directs policy, right, at this agency. However that's changed, now policy directs science in very prescriptive ways. And so the policy people stepped in and have their wisdom about how to manage the Trump Administration and this is where we're at. I think that a lot of these efforts are just done without care, you know, managing the public's money or being good stewards or being conscious as to our scientific integrity policy, which should drive all of our efforts. The folks that were trying to directly get me to move the money around don't have advanced degrees that I'm aware of. They're budget people and managers of non-science; we have two tracks--a science management and a management side. Irregardless, I would maintain that we should play by the rules and do it the way it was intended and let the science lead the way.

David Feldman: Yeah, I don’t understand why doctors allow themselves to be ordered around by their inferiors. And it seems to happen in the healthcare debate.

George Luber: It's just abdicating the responsibility for that, frankly.

David Feldman: So just to be clear, you said the person who told you the optics would be bad was not a Trump political appointee, just someone feeling the pressure either directly or indirectly that this would be a bad idea to do with the new regime, is that correct?

George Luber: That's my understanding. So he had started during the Obama years. And I don't have any knowledge . . . this was . . . could have been right around the time that the transition teams, Beachhead Crew or something they call it, where the people come to the agency immediately. And I had heard from another source through a Union of Concerned Scientists’ anonymous survey that a senior manager at CDC had said there were five key areas that the Trump Administration wanted to be targeted during this administration. It would be anything under the Affordable Care Act, birth control, gun violence, abortion rights, and climate change. These are the topics that they're interested in. Now I don't know if this advance team had already made these wishes known to my leadership, but it was odd for me to get called in and said going to have to cancel this meeting that we spent a good bit of time. We had already spent the money and a good bit of personnel time to get this going. And it was a solid conference. And plus, I said the optics are terrible on cancelling the meeting and certainly, of course, The Washington Post ran a story critical of CDC on cancelling the meeting. Is this censorship? And it was very odd that they would make that, because their argument for laying low certainly didn't work. Because who would really honestly write a story about a science meeting at CDC about climate change? No one would write a national level media story about a climate meeting at CDC. But now they did write about it because it was canceled.

Ralph Nader: Let me ask you this, would you return to your position with a change of administrations that wanted to reinstate your program?

George Luber: Absolutely. I decided . . . I got my PhD right at 9/11. And sitting there watching those images, I actually turned down an offer at Stanford and decided to pursue a life of public service. I made it my goal to provide a service to this country, and I felt obliged to do it. And sitting there watching those towers come down and two weeks later, I applied to CDC and got a post doc and have dedicated my life to doing that. And I'm not giving up now. And I don't . . . these people come and go. I mean I've watched senior directors come and go, CDC directors and my managers come and go. But the people who do the science, who do the work on the ground, they stay and they're dedicated. And we've gotten used to seeing these people come and go. And I've maintained my . . . I also teach where I mentioned [Emory University], and they have been wanting me to come over there. And I said, "I'm in this fight and I am going to make sure that this comes out well, because if people like me walk away, who's left to care?

Ralph Nader: How has the pressure been on you professionally and personally?

George Luber: Incredible sense of isolation. Many of my colleagues throughout the government have essentially ghosted me. Now that's counterbalanced by a tremendous amount of support from the folks at the Callaway Awards, The Hugh Hefner Foundation [and] from news reporting and colleagues around the world. I received a stack the other day of around 20 postcards that was part of a letter-writing campaign encouraging me to keep on my fight and that really helps keep me going. But my colleagues at CDC are afraid and many of them have disappeared. And I think . . .you know, I tell myself that it's a measure of somebody's character in how they respond in moments like this. And that folks would slink away and ignore it, well that's the measure of their character. And for those who stand up and fight and support me, well then I know a little bit more about.

Ralph Nader: We're talking with Dr. George E. Luber who was formerly the head of the critically important, Climate and Health Program as an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia and a professor adjunct at Emory University. If you were in charge of climate disruption policy, what would you do in terms of the federal government? What kind of resources, what priorities beyond your own program at the CDC?

George Luber: Well, it’s funny you asked that because . . . and that was a question the Hillary campaign asked me four months before the election. And they reached out to me, again my personal email and all that, and we spent the time coming up with the . . . because we've got $10 million. It might sound like a lot of money, but in a federal program, it's really kind of a pilot-type program. You mentioned the difference between the DoD budget and CDC, but ten million for the CDC program is quite small. But what we had developed with the program was directed right at the on-the-ground public health; this is local, city, and state public health. And to deliver to them all the tools and intelligence that they needed in order to identify which threats should be relevant in the area because frankly the threats in climate change in Florida are going to be dramatically different from those in Maine or in Oregon and a whole different set of issues, wildfires versus mosquitos, etcetera. So we had a tailor-made program called the BRACE program, Building Resilience Against Climate Effects, that would work with these high-resolution-type efforts at getting help to the most vulnerable in our state, in our community, and in our country. And our plan with the . . . what I described to the Hillary campaign was that we would scale-up this program and bring it to all . . . we currently work with 16 states and two cities, and we’d bring it to all 50 states, the territories, to tribal governments, and to large cities around the country. And that we would also, along with CDC, that we would need to bring money to NIH [National Institutes of Health] to fund Regional Centers of Excellence. The EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] would need some funding to help support the environmental monitoring aspect of our program that was so critical. The NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] would be required to dedicate some resources to giving us the high-resolution climate models that we would need to project what these risks are. So we detailed the intergovernmental program that had been in the works because I had spent time working with my colleagues around the government in order to kind of make those connections; where is this information; how can we get the resources that we need to attack this on a grand scale? But we had done it in a way that would be scalable, and so for the last seven years had been testing the proof of concept and we're confident that we could scale it up. The first thing in the world actually, national level adaptation program from climate and health, was so successful that the government of England, Public Health England, the governments of Austria, Peru, and Chile and Canada as well, had adopted our framework as the gold standard for preparing public health for climate change.

Ralph Nader: And what would you have Congress do in terms of informing the public? What kind of hearings do you think they're not having they should have? And in that context, how do you expand the number of epidemiologists?

George Luber: Well you have to train the epidemiologists and that was what the shame was, was that I trained a cadre of young professionals that were highly skilled in order to have the skillset and they're very, very unique. It's not like you just hire somebody [or] you go to a job site and you find the skills. You have to train them; you have to nurture them. They’ve all disappeared so we have to start it all over again--the momentum that we've lost. I'm a bit naïve as to the workings of Congress, but the fact that our nation's or the world's leading public health agency is stepping away from its principle of scientific integrity, it's not just troubling for climate change, but if you think about it, the integrity, the respect or the honesty of an agency like CDC is all that it has. If the public can't trust that this is the best science of an agency like that, and we always learned at the CDC . . . that what you do reflects upon the integrity of this agency and that's essentially all we have, so protect it with your life.

Ralph Nader: And you know, listeners should realize that with climatologists and epidemiologists making the connection between the burning of oil, gas and coal and all kinds of diseases and property damage, and affecting flora and fauna, points the way to shifting our economy toward renewable energy like solar energy, wind energy, passive solar, solar voltaic, maybe even geothermal, and in that sense reducing the greenhouse gases and reducing the causal effects of increasing climate disruption. So you see, that's the importance of the kind of work that Dr. Luber and his colleagues are doing. And to literally try to destroy it is a crime against humanity! When you try to destroy someone, let's say who's trying to find the cure for malaria, that would be considered a crime against humanity. So whenever you evaluate what we should expect of presidents of the United States, it's important to crank in these kinds of functions that are not going to be advanced by Exxon/Mobil or Peabody Coal. They're going to be advanced by public servants such as Dr. George Luber. Before we end, any more comments or questions from Steve and David?

Steve Skrovan: Dr. Luber, this is a scientific question. What do you think the biggest threat is as a result of this climate crisis?

George Luber: Well, you know we've always said at the Climate Health program that the effects of climate change are place-specific and past-dependent. And that's kind of a scientific way of saying, “Gosh, it all depends.” The biggest threat in my opinion, ironically, this is the biggest threat overall long-term, is the threat that increased carbon dioxide has on the acidity of the oceans and the impact that that CO2 has on plants. What we are learning is that CO2 in elevated levels, six, seven . . . we're at 415/418 parts-per-million right now. But if we have the atmospheric concentration of around 600 parts-per-million, which we expect by the latter part of the century, what we're realizing is that plants are negatively affected by this elevated CO2, especially C3, C4 photosynthetic plants, which form the kind of core of our food crop--rice, wheat, barley, sorghum, millet. All of the starches that we feed the planet on, show that under elevated CO2 levels that we would expect by the end of this latter part of this century, that the protein levels are reduced by 15 to 20 percent, the crude protein. The plants are actually stressed under these elevated CO2 levels. And they're rising so fast that plants cannot adapt. It’s the rate of change is so fast that the plants cannot adapt to these elevated CO2 and they are stressed, and as a result, not only the crude protein reduces by 15 to 20 percent, the micro-nutrients, vitamins are also reduced as well, so we have a nutritional crisis. Imagine a planet of seven billion people now and crop production stays the same but we're at nine billion people, and we have crops that are 15 to 20 percent less nutritious. That is an impending nutritional crisis! And everybody in public health knows that at the cornerstone of any healthy population is a healthy immune system and undernourished people don't have healthy immune systems.

Ralph Nader: Doctor, expand that to the impact on the ocean and how the boomerang comes back on land.

George Luber: So the ocean also experiences stress at high CO2 levels; it actually absorbs CO2 and becomes more acidic. What we learned is that under high-acidity conditions, which are already occurring now, that the organisms that form the basis of food web of the ocean, the calcareous organisms--these are the phytoplankton and the zooplankton that form hard exoskeleton shells under those elevated acidity levels--cannot form their shells that their shells are weak and dissolved. And under higher CO2 levels, the potential for the collapse of the food base of the oceans is apparent and that we lose the food base to smaller units, that again, feed the rest the food web up. We could have a crash in marine ecosystems, which are tremendously important for human nutrition.

Ralph Nader: And then much more intense hurricanes coming out of warming patterns that are changing in the oceans, can you say a few words about that?

George Luber: Well we do know that most weather events, extreme weather events, are intensifying under climate change; heat waves are of longer duration and more intense, hotter. Hurricanes appear to show a signal of getting more intense; we're not sure if they're getting more frequent. Precipitation is increasingly coming down in heavy short bursts rather than gentle rain. All of those things affect public health. Now those things are things that, given the appropriate attention, we can adapt to. What I was describing earlier with the CO2 problem is intractable. This is a problem that we don't have solutions for. And what's ironic about it is that they are a major problem that have nothing to do with weather or climate. They have to do with a carbon pollution problem. It's related to climate changes that an excess carbon changes weather, but it also changes fundamental parts of our ecosystem that we rely on.

Ralph Nader: But one of the more fearful results are the melting of the glaciers and the building up of sea levels inundating cities with hundreds of millions of people around the globe from India to the United States. Explain that a bit.

George Luber: Well, 80% of the world's population lives near oceans, so there's going to be a major retreat from the coastlines with sea levels depending on the climate model or what we're learning--how quickly that might happen, but it's certainly happening and will happen. Those are our problems that, again, given the amount of resources enough that we can retreat from the oceans. We're going to have to. But there will be a tremendous amount of suffering associated with that. And while we're waiting to retreat or waiting to come to terms with this problem, we will certainly have coastal inundation events that will kill many thousands of people and the time to act on that is now.

Ralph Nader: We learned from an earlier program, Dr. Luber, that Miami Beach in Florida has a plan to evacuate, not just people close to the ocean, but to evacuate Miami Beach. George Luber: Yes. They are already experiencing regular inundation events with high tides. I mean this is a regular occurrence right now. And places that experience these types of events, they get it. They understand the threat in the disruption to life and economy and community that this happens. When people get displaced, they don't just lose their home, they lose their community, they lose their livelihoods and those have consequences as well.

Steve Skrovan: Well I'm sitting here in Southern California right now in Los Angeles area where wild fires are raging and at any moment they're telling me I'm getting notices from Southern California Edison that they're going to turn off the power. Fortunately, they didn't do it during the show, because their fear the high winds will knock down power lines and start another wild fire, so I can personally attest to the effects of what you're talking about. And exactly what you're talking about is exactly what the Trump Administration and his backers don't want anybody to hear and why you were in the situation.

George Luber: One of my colleagues and one of the top people on climate and health, Kirk R. Smith out of U.C. Berkeley, had once said . . . and this is a very important quote, I guess, that you know “in a world of climate change, the rich will find the world to be more polluted, more uncomfortable, colorless, and a bleaker world. The poor will die”.

Ralph Nader: As the poor pay more in our economy as well. You're quite right there. The most vulnerable areas are populated by low-income people. Well, one last thing, I hope we don't hear the word climate change anymore, not because of Trump's censorship, but because it's too benign a phrase created by Frank Luntz, the right-wing Republican wordsmith in 2002 to replace the more alarming global warming phrase. So I hope we all use words like climate crisis, climate disruption, climate catastrophe, global warming, and deprive Frank Luntz of his semantic colonialism. Well, we're out of time. Thank you very much, Dr. George Luber. Congratulations on your Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage. Congratulations to PEER for holding up its defense of your rights as a civil servant. And congratulations to all of you listening who are alert and come to the rescue of courageous people like Dr. George Luber.

George Luber: Thank you so much.

Steve Skrovan: We have been speaking with Dr. George Luber. We will link to more of his story and the Callaway Awards at ralphnaderradiohour.com. Right now we're going to take a short break. When we come back, Ralph is going to answer some of your questions, but first, let's check in with our corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber. You're listening to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, back after this.

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., this is your Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Friday, November 8, 2019. I'm Russell Mokhiber. Oregon worker safety inspectors found serious workplace safety violations at a Dollar Tree in Portland, Oregon after a rodent infestation. That's according to a report from television station KGW in Portland. Oregon OSHA fined the company $1900. In August, the Dollar Tree store in Portland’s Lloyd District temporarily shut down after a KGW investigation found ripped food packaging, chewed food labels, rodent feces on shelves and a dead mouse in an air vent. The store had since re-opened. Employees complained of nausea, light-headedness and headaches after being exposed to dead mice, rodent urine and droppings. Oregon OSHA records indicate Dollar Tree didn’t do enough to keep rodents out of the store and failed to provide proper safety equipment for employees who were asked to clean up. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mokhiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Now before we do listener questions, Ralph, John Conyers died recently and I know you had worked closely with him over the years. He was in Congress for almost 60 years, I believe, or more than 60 years. Tell us a little about your relationship . . . about John Conyers and your relationship with him.

Ralph Nader: Well Congressman Conyers was the Dean of the African-American delegation in the House as they called it. And he helped start the Black Caucus. He was extremely responsive. You could get him on the phone. He would return calls. That's a very rare trait today for members of Congress, because if you can't get through to people, you can't get anything underway to begin with; that's how critical it is. And he'd invite you down to his office, a group of civic advocates and leaders and obviously he was great on civil rights. But he also tried to jumpstart a federal intense program on cracking down on corporate crime. It never got anywhere, but at least he introduced the legislation and he proposed it when he was a senior figure on the House Judiciary. He was also a champion of ballot access for third parties even though he was a longstanding member of the Democratic Party and he introduced legislation to that effect. And he's clearly one of the most progressive members of the House of Representatives on numerous fronts including being anti-war in our modern times. He left Congress a couple of years ago under a cloud of personal matters, but that doesn't really take away from what he did over about a half a century of representing portions of Detroit, Michigan in the House of Representatives and taking seriously his title of US Representative, not just Representative from Detroit.

Steve Skrovan: Well, thank you for that, Ralph. Let's do some listener questions now. This next one comes from Jay Goldberg who is a regular listener. I think we did one of his questions a couple of weeks ago and he said, "In the Wrap Up to this week's show, Ralph offered a couple of reasons why Medicare for some is a bad idea. But I think he overlooked the most obvious one, people would have to buy into it, so instead of being funded through progressive taxation, it would be an option only for those who could afford it or whose employers provide it as private insurance is now. I suppose there could be a government subsidy for low-income groups similar to what Obamacare provides, but they would never be as progressive as the taxes Bernie and Liz are proposing and it would never be provided to the majority of working people. Also Medicare for some would have to call for deductibles and co-pays, or no one would opt for private insurance." Is Jay correct there, Ralph?

Ralph Nader: Yeah, he makes a good point and he provokes even further good points. Number one, it's a setup to be taken over the way Medicare Advantage corporate-run is now taken over one out of every three elderly people's Medicare insurance. People don't realize it [that] all these ads they hear about Medicare Advantage is just a euphemism for takeover by companies like United Healthcare and Aetna of Medicare under contract. And as Dr. Fred Hyde said, "It's not what you pay; it's what you get." And there are a lot of trap doors in Medicare Advantage and elderly people should be aware of it and so should people be if there was a Medicare for some or public option. The other thing Medicare for some does not control costs. When you have full Medicare for All, the corollary is restraint on skyrocketing drug prices, restraint on skyrocketing hospital prices, minimizing fraud in the healthcare area. That's the experience in Canada.

Steve Skrovan: It's funny Ralph, I had this discussion after we did that show with a college classmate of mine who I happened to run into. And one of my college classmates is Tom Steyer who's running for president. And this woman, who I also know, said "Hey, you're supporting Tom?" And I said, “Well I like a lot of what Tom says about corporate power, and obviously he's been a leader on the climate crisis, but I'm not sure about his healthcare policy. She says, "But he's talking about choice." And so I ran down basically what we talked about last week, and she kept a smile on her face, but her eyes just went completely dead.

Ralph Nader: [laughter] It's amazing. People make up their minds; permanently they close off the kind of information that I think otherwise they would be more receptive of. Steve Skrovan: Thank you for your questions. Keep them coming on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website. I want to thank our guest again, George Luber from the CDC. For those of you listening on the radio, that's our show. For you podcast listeners, stay tuned for some bonus material we call the Wrap Up. A transcript of the show will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website soon after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube channel. And for Ralph's weekly column, it's free, go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mokhiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: And Ralph has got two new books out, the fable, How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress. To acquire a copy of that, go to ratsreformcongress.org. And To the Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency, and Why It Isn't Too Late to Reverse Course. We will link to that also.

David Feldman: The producers of the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marran. Our executive producer is Alan Minsky.

Steve Skrovan: Our theme music, "Stand up, Rise Up", was written and performed by Kemp Harris. Our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon.

David Feldman: Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour when we speak to another whistleblower who won his Callaway Prize by taking on Boeing, John Barnett. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you everybody. More stations, more podcast listeners.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR EPISODE 322: Crooked Prosecutors/AWOL Congress
Interview of Don Siegelman by Ralph Nader
May 9, 2020

-- “Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation”.


Former Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, who was convicted on dubious corruption charges and spent five years in prison joins us to talk about his chronicle of those events in his book “Stealing Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.” And old friend and constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein, makes the case that Congress has once again abdicated its responsibility during the Covid-19 crisis.

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Don Siegelman was the 51st Governor of Alabama, serving from 1999 to 2003. He is the only politician in Alabama history to hold all of the state’s top constitutional offices: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. He was the longest-running Democrat in the Southeast. He was convicted in 2006 of federal bribery charges, in what many think was a wrongful conviction brought about by Republican politicians. Mr. Siegelman wrote about this in his soon to be released book “Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation”.

“The heart of my story: It’s not about me. It’s about saving our democracy. And exposing what has been going on in our court system. There’s a reason why the majority of people behind bars are young men and women of color.”

-- Don Siegelman, former Governor of Alabama


“Bill Barr on April third said, ok we got to release these non-violent inmates, who are not a threat to public safety. Well now they’re releasing thousands of inmates, who are not a threat to public safety, which raises the question why in the world are they in there in the first place?”

-- Don Siegelman, former Governor of Alabama


“There’s no deterrent. You steal an election and you get away with it. And even if you’re caught, nobody goes to jail. I mean this happens again and again in this country. It’s like, ‘Oh you know, it’s just politics as usual.’”

-- Ralph Nader


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Bruce Fein is a Constitutional scholar, who was Associate Deputy Attorney General under Ronald Reagan. Mr. Fein has been a visiting Fellow for Constitutional Studies at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct scholar at American Enterprise Institute. He has advised numerous countries on constitutional reform, including South Africa, Hungary and Russia. He is the author of “Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy,” and “American Empire: Before the Fall”. Mr. Fein did a special edition show with Ralph where they lay out the articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“Presidents have run virtually hundreds of wars without congressional declarations. Certainly, beginning with Korea and for the ensuing seventy some years, Presidents have just gone to war on their own, and Congress has simply sat there.”

-- Bruce Fein, author of “Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy”


TRANSCRIPT

Steve Skrovan: It's the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with my cohost, David Feldman. Hello, David.

David Feldman: Hello. Good morning.

Steve Skrovan: And we also have the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello everybody. Fasten your seatbelts. This is going to be quite a show.

Steve Skrovan: Yeah, the gang's all here and today, we're going to talk with former governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, whose three-decade career in public service ran afoul of Republican opponents who used the Federal judicial system to take him out of contention in Alabama and nationally. This involved Karl Rove, as I understand. Mr. Siegelman spent five years in Alabama prison after being convicted on dubious corruption charges. We will talk about how all of that happened and also how Mr. Siegelman has been drawing attention to poor conditions in prisons, especially in the age of coronavirus where these facilities are becoming the true hotspots. Rikers Island, for instance, in New York City, has a coronavirus infection rate nearly eight times higher than the rest of the city. Mr. Siegelman has been drawing attention to those poor conditions and advocating for inmates to be released.

Our second guest is one of the Ralph's favorite Republicans. He has been on the show nine times. Regular listeners know Bruce Fein is a constitutional scholar; he is here to talk to us about how Congress has gone AWOL during this pandemic. Despite Congress putting its nose to the grindstone for its usual two and a half days a week under normal conditions, during this pandemic, most have not been showing up to work while health care workers, grocery store employees and delivery truck drivers have been endangering their own lives to keep society functioning. Congress has deemed themselves non-essential workers, as true as that may sound, and as tempting a joke as that is. We'll hear from Mr. Fein about how Congress should be conducting themselves during this crisis. And as always, somewhere in between, we'll take a short break and check in with our corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber. And if we have some time left over, we'll try to answer some listener questions. But first, let's talk to our first guest about his own imprisonment and the state of our prisons. David?

David Feldman: Don Siegelman was the 51st Governor of Alabama; serving from 1999 to 2003, he is the only politician in Alabama history to hold all of the state's top constitutional offices-- governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. He was the longest running Democrat in the Southeast. He was convicted in 2006 of federal bribery charges in what many think was a wrongful conviction brought about by Republican politicians. Governor Siegelman wrote about this in his soon to be released book, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Governor Don Siegelman.

Don Siegelman: Hey David. Thank you. And Ralph, I'm pleased to be with you. I want to say something about your next guest, Bruce. I think I could make an argument that members of Congress are performing a nonessential function and it may be better for our democracy if at least a good part of the US Senate stayed at home.

Ralph Nader: Well, you wait, stick around and listen to what he says. He's testified over 200 times before Congress and he knows what he's talking about. Anyway, welcome. I'm going to call you Don. You were considered one of the most progressive governors in the South. They made comparisons of you with Jimmy Carter in Georgia. You got all kinds of things started, heavy emphasis on education, but I want to tell our listeners what some people think of what happened to you and why. We start with John Lewis, the famous Congressman and he says, “Don Siegelman, Alabama's first progressive governor was elected with a majority of black and white voters. He advanced the cause of justice for African Americans and women appointing more African Americans as judges than had been elected or appointed in Alabama's history. This drove Republicans crazy. The coup de gras was that governor Siegelman was going to give free college education and free early learning to all Alabama children.” And as far as the prosecutorial misconduct, to put it mildly, that they hurled against you because you were thinking of running against George W. Bush in 2004, here is what the premier researcher, Professor Bennett Gershman of Pace University School of Law, said about you; he's the author of Prosecutorial Misconduct: Trial Error and Misconduct in Prosecution Stories. “Of the thousands of prosecutorial misconduct cases I have written about, the government's bad faith described in Stealing Our Democracy,” that’s your new book, “stands out and maybe without parallel. The governor's story,” that’s you, “reveals a continuum of government misconduct, which leaves the reader shaking in disbelief.” And listeners should know that prosecutorial misconduct is almost as American as apple pie. All over the country they have been documented as going after people who are vulnerable, who can't really defend themselves, who don't have the best lawyers and using manufactured evidence, perjured testimony. And the honest prosecutors have been unable to get that message across as it should be. Governor Cuomo said a while back that 70% of the people in New York City prisons didn't even have charges filed against them. They were waiting in prison without any charges being filed against them for what they supposedly did wrong. So you're coming out with a new book, Stealing Our Democracy. You're using your experience only as a forward, I might add, to your broader critique of our criminal injustice system, which seems to be invulnerable to all exposes, whether in the New York Times or Washington Post or Los Angeles Times. But you're going to make another effort to mobilize people. So can you just tell our listeners what was the political motive after you finished your first term as governor of Alabama? What did you do that got them so angry and even involved Karl Rove to getting the [US] Justice Department to be part of this prosecutorial misconduct?

Don Siegelman: Well, Ralph, your introduction evokes several thoughts and I want to start with answering your question. Most people know I brought five automobile plants to Alabama in three and a half years. I started over a thousand new school construction projects; got a lot of people working, building roads and bridges. But I also filed, over the course of my career, more environmental lawsuits than any public official in Alabama's history. I stopped the Army's attempt to dispose of all their nerve gas in Alabama, stopped herbicide spraying, deep-well injections, disposing of hazardous waste in Mobile Bay; stopped Chemical Waste Management's attempt to incinerate hazardous waste in the Gulf of Mexico, and the list goes on. One of the proudest moments was when I was crossing a bridge going over the Mobile Delta and I saw International Paper clearcutting part of our natural forest and I picked up the phone and called my conservation officer and I said, “We've got to put together a group to buy the entire Mobile Delta.” And we raised enough money to buy 150,000 acres and put International Paper company out of business and we stopped the clearcutting of this beautiful, sacred, pristine Delta. I sued Exxon and Shell. I challenged corporations that they could not contribute to campaigns without a vote of their stockholders because it was an ultra-vires activity and they had to go back and amend their articles of incorporation in their purposes.

Ralph Nader: So that one is something for everybody to try to do in state after state. They always want to make workers and labor unions able to step out and step away from having any of their dues being used. But it's okay for corporations to get into politics without getting any affirmation of their shareholders. But you really had a very progressive record. There's no doubt. There was a 60 Minutes program on you in 2018. There's a new documentary on you, and what intrigues me is what went on in the court and who got away with what. Now, the judge in your court was Mark Everett Fuller; remember that name. Judge Mark Everett Fuller, a George W. Bush appointee, is the one who sentenced you to seven years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The main witness against you was someone named Nick Bailey who provided the cornerstone testimony upon which the conviction was based, and he was subsequently convicted of extortion and facing 10 years in prison; Bailey had cooperated with prosecutors to lighten his own sentence. That's another aspect of widespread prosecutorial discretion. So where is the judge right now? Is he still presiding over a court?

Don Siegelman: He was able--after the United States Judicial Conference recommended to John Boehner, Speaker of the House, that Bailey be impeached for perjury and for habitually beating his wife violently--to walk away from the bench with his retirement and he's probably drinking scotch and playing golf with some of his, you know, Southern white buddies down in Montgomery. But the story behind Fuller goes much deeper. He was the owner of a company called DOSS Aviation. It's a military supply company and defense contractor and he was up for a $175 million contract per year renewable for 10 years. After my conviction, he was awarded that contract. He sold the company [now called L3 Doss Aviation] for $2 billion. But I wanted to go back to something you were talking about because the heart of my story is not about me; it's about saving our democracy and exposing what has been going on in our court system. There's a reason why the majority of people behind bars are young men and women of color, but the government gets 99% of the indictments they seek. Roughly 97% plead guilty, many of them, most of them actually, before they even get a lawyer. But there's a reason for this. You know, getting 99% of anything is a pretty high probability. I'd like to have those odds during March Madness or during football season or something. But the reason they get 99% of the indictments they seek is because of the secrecy of a grand jury, where there's no judge and there is no lawyer for the defense or the target or the witness. In 2010, January the 4th, 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times, David Savage, the legal correspondent, reported that President Obama's lawyer argued to the United States Supreme Court and I quote, “US citizens, United States citizens do not have a constitutional right not to be framed.” This is Elena Kagan, her deputy, argues to the US Supreme Court that US citizens can be framed and there's nothing you can do about it.

Ralph Nader: Let me interject here. She is now a justice of the Supreme Court, of course, Elena Kagan.

Don Siegelman: Yes, yes.

Ralph Nader: She was referring to the sanctity of the grand jury system, which under US law, it has been said, prosecutors could indict a ham sandwich and what they mean by that joke is that when a prosecutor impanels a grand jury: A, it's all secret, B, all the witnesses are for the prosecution. The target doesn't get any witnesses in return; it doesn't get any chance to cross examine, doesn't get any chance to have a lawyer. That's why 99% of grand juries end up in indictment, not conviction then it goes to the courts. And Sol Price, who started The Price Club, you might be interested to know, was strongly opposed. He put ads in newspapers to reform the grand jury because he just thinks it's a recipe for prosecutorial abuse and denial of due process of law. Now I know some listeners are saying, but what was Governor Siegelman charged with and convicted? Can you just briefly discuss that and then we can go on to the broader issues here?

Don Siegelman: Well, I'd like to put in for a repeat performance so we can get into a little more depth. But yes, I was charged with bribery for soliciting a campaign contribution to a ballot referendum designed to benefit public education. There was no allegation of any self-enrichment scheme, nor was I accused of benefiting personally by a single penny. The money went to the Alabama Education Lottery Foundation, which was an organization put together to promote a ballot initiative to establish a lottery so that we could give every child in Alabama--regardless of where they're born or the color of their skin, whether they're immigrants or citizens--a chance to get early learning and an opportunity for higher education. So I was indicted for a bribery of receiving a campaign contribution from a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who had actually supported my opponent. But he had been on a state health board for 12 years, appointed by three previous governors and had resigned from the board. I asked him if he would serve again and I've got my right hand raised and I’m asking God to strike me dead if I'm lying. But when I asked him, he said, Oh, governor, do I have to? I just resigned from that board. Can I just give you the name of somebody that—and I said, no. If you leave the board now, it's going to look like you're running away from me as a Democrat. I was interested in building bridges, trying to build political bridges to the other side, to Republicans, to try to get ready for a rerun in 2002. And you know, it would have been a compliment to me to have this CEOs continue to serve on this board. [He] finally agreed to serve for one year, but there was no evidence of a quid pro quo unlike the president's impeachment trial where there was an expressed quid pro quo, as you stated earlier on one of the radio hours. Yet there was no evidence of a quid pro quo, much less an express one or an explicit one. But the judge, Mark Everett Fuller, with whom I had a political conflict back in 2002, when I caught him trying to bilk the state retirement system out of $300,000. So I was prosecuted on the basis of an implied or an inferred quid pro quo. The judge told the jury that they could consider the campaign contribution to the ballot initiative a thing of value to me, because I had supported the ballot initiative. So the judge ordered the jury to bring him a verdict or a partial verdict after we had two hung juries and they brought a partial verdict on a bribery charge. But my purpose in writing this book is not to tell my story, but to tell the story of how our criminal justice system is weighted in favor of prosecutorial power, and it needs to be balanced. You can't allow prosecutors to willfully and intentionally present false evidence as they did in this case that I've mentioned and that was argued before the Supreme Court in 2010. President Obama's lawyer was arguing in favor of protecting the government and the government prosecutors and investigators in a case where two men had served 25 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. The witness against them was promised a light sentence if he would point the finger toward these two black men instead of a white suspect who was a friend of the investigators.

Ralph Nader: That's a pattern of course, that has been repeated throughout American history and continues to this day. When police want to get somebody and prosecutors don't want to prosecute somebody, they go to work to the same office and they just are very, very worried about contradicting the police recommended charges because they have to work with them day after day; there's a great need for criminal justice reform. We're not getting much support, with few exceptions, from law professors and deans of law schools. The law schools should be alive with this travesty of justice that has been institutionalized, especially against minorities and vulnerable people. But the other side is that corporate criminals get away with it! The political criminals like Bush and Cheney, the criminal, unconstitutional invasion of Iraq, which has slaughtered over a million Iraqis and blown apart the country. And here they are getting big speech fees and getting awards and living the life of royalty. And the same time, the heads of Wells Fargo bank that created millions of false accounts, credit card accounts, auto insurance purchases without even getting the consent of the customers; they put their employees under quotas to do that. That's a clear premeditated, planed corporate crime [yet] not one prosecution.

They have to leave their jobs, with all their nice severance pay and golden handshakes, but they got away with it. So this whole mythology that nobody is above the law, I mean, Trump is above the law every day. He's violating laws, statutes, not responding to congressional subpoenas, violating the Constitution, most impeachable president [in history] and there he is, you know, just doubling down and doing more of the same, lying his way until November. When are we going to face up to the fact that injustice/violations of law by the powerful are the norm? They're not the exception; they are the norm. They've institutionalized their immunities and their privileges. And when they do, once in a while get caught by a good prosecutor, and you know, they hire these big law firms and they say to the prosecutor, how many staff do you have? You got other things you got to enforce. Do you want to assign your whole office to this? And so they get out with copping a plea and pretty soon, they're in wealthy retirement. So I think what you need to do, connecting with other people, I know you dealt with good Southern public interest lawyers like Stevenson, Morris Dees, who founded the Southern Poverty Law Center. I think it's a mission that has to become a prime political campaign issue by local, state and national candidates; it's got to be dealt with systemically. Otherwise, you know, you go into one bad case after another and it’s like being on a treadmill; the faster that you run, the more you slip behind. Are you looking at it from that point of view? And listeners should know that Don Siegelman has two stalwart children who are now lawyers and they're on the same wavelength here. Is that correct?

Don Siegelman: Well, one is a lawyer; one is a public advocate. My son is a lawyer; my daughter is the advocate. I wanted to go back to something that shattered my faith in the Obama administration was when he said he was going to look forward not backward, and I thought, so that means we're not going to investigate being led into war under false pretenses; we're not going to hold those people accountable for torture. That means we're not going to repeal the Patriot Act. We're going to give up our rights under the Fourth Amendment. You know, people in America don't want to believe that elections are stolen or that presidents can abuse their power. But if I were asked to prove that presidents can abuse their power, the first person I would call would be Donald J. Trump. He fired James Comey because he wanted to end the Russian investigation. He fired Sally Yates. He fired Andrew McCabe [and] hired is Southern white-boy buddy, Beauregard Sessions, and then fired him when of course Sessions was in a conflict because he had lied before the Senate committee about not meeting with Russians. And then he hired Bill Barr who does everything he can every day to protect the president or to advance his political causes. You know, so it goes on and on.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Well, let's focus on how they stole your election. This is an amazing story. You were running for re-election, second term, governor of Alabama, and you were declared on election night the winner by all the national networks, by the Associated Press. “The results were in; the votes were counted; the media and poll workers were sent home.” Those are your words. And to continue, you said, “And then in one Southern Republican-controlled county, 6,000 of my votes simply disappeared. I requested a hand count of the precinct, which was in question. The probate judge granted me that. I was headed to that county in South Alabama when I was told that the state attorney general, Bill Pryor, who is now in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, had seized the ballots and had taken everything to Montgomery, the capital, where they certified my opponent, Republican Congressman Bob Riley, as the winner.” You can't challenge the outcome of an election unless you can prove to the judge that there were enough illegal votes cast or enough legal votes not countered to make a difference in the outcome. You couldn't do that because the attorney general had the ballots.

Don Siegelman: The attorney general was Karl Rove’s client, and it was the attorney general that started my investigation. It was kicked into high gear by the US attorney who was married to Karl Rove’s business partner in Alabama, Billy Canary, who used to be president of the American Trucking Association and also part of the Bush machine and was working with Rove in the ‘92 campaign. When they lost that campaign, by the way, they came, both Rove and Canary, to Alabama, married Alabama ladies and Rove moved to Rosemary Beach, on the Gulf Coast and Billy Canary moved to Montgomery where they continued their political operation in Alabama. I ran afoul of them many, many times during the course of the next 10 years. But the investigation was started by Karl Rove’s client. It was kicked into high gear in the federal courts by the US attorney. I was brought to trial one month before my re-election and while the US attorney's husband was running my opponent's campaign. You were talking about the election being stolen in 2002; it was Karl Rove’s client, the attorney general, as you mentioned, who seized the ballots and refused to let anybody see them much less have a recount.

Ralph Nader: There was a House Democratic committee hearing, was there not? Can you tell us briefly about that?

Don Siegelman: Well, the United States House Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of John Conyers and strong Democratic committed members of that committee, held two hearings, one on selective prosecution and one on prosecutorial misconduct. The committee was torpedoed by the Department of Justice that refused to turn over information about my case. Later, the Department of Justice revealed—well, actually, it was revealed by an unknown, anonymous whistleblower from the House Judiciary Committee staff who leaked a letter, which had been sent to John Conyers by the Department of Justice, in which the Department of Justice admitted that the lead prosecutor in my case, who worked for Karl Rove’s client and was also cross designated to work with the Bush-appointed US attorney, was emailing my Republican opponent's campaign manager, giving him updates on the investigation and explaining why both he and a group of likeminded conservative prosecutors were so frustrated they couldn't move my investigation forward fast enough.

Ralph Nader: We're talking with former Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama. This is clearly a political prosecution and it's so well documented and yet you were put in prison. You spent five years there, sometimes solitary confinement; you were in solitary confinement, and you have no remedy. You have no remedy against Karl Rove, no remedy against the people who violated laws in order to get this prosecution. Have you thought of any remedy at all in court?

Don Siegelman: Ralph, if you should find a purpose in every situation in which you find yourself, then I found a purpose here. My purpose is to fight for criminal justice reform. I can't dwell on what happened to me. It's over, but—

Ralph Nader: No, I understand that. But for all the other people who are “railroaded”, as they used to you say into court, people serving time for crimes they didn't commit with subsequent DNA evidence, for example. People in jail for 25 years because they were caught in possession of marijuana. It's not just you in terms of a remedy, as there should be as part of criminal justice reform, remedies against this. I know some of the people who've been in prison and released after decades for crimes they didn't commit, managed to get compensation, so much per year in prison, so that in their post-prison life, they could maintain some kind of livelihood. But I think there needs to be a broader reform here, so that the prosecutors, the political railroaders, the people who get away with it are subjected to justice here. I mean, otherwise there's no deterrence. Like you steal an election and you'll get away with it. And even if you're caught, nobody goes to jail. I mean, this happens again and again in this country. Oh well, you know, it's just politics as usual.

Don Siegelman: Well, Ralph, that's why I was hoping that during the Obama administration, they would hold Karl Rove accountable for the abuse of power, subverting the Department of Justice and subverting our democracy and weaponizing the Department of Justice to go after Democrats and protect Republicans. They didn't hold him accountable for the abuse of power. And now we see it going on again today in this current White House. But there are three practical reforms that I want to mention while I've still got a few minutes.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, go ahead.

Don Siegelman: First of all, Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, retired now, said that the withholding of exculpatory evidence by prosecutors is epidemic in America. Well, and it is epidemic because you have this shield or umbrella of protection over prosecutors. You have the pronouncement by President Obama that US citizens do not have a constitutional right not to be framed. But then you have the Federal Torts Claims Act, which gives immunity from prosecutors for being sued for willfully and intentionally presenting false evidence or eliciting false testimony or withholding exculpatory evidence so that they are free, with legal impunity. to frame people and it takes place first in a grand jury. So what do we do? First, we repeal the immunity clause in the Federal Torts Claims Act. So prosecutors can be held civilly liable for willfully and intentionally putting somebody in prison for 25 years when they know they didn't commit the crime. Secondly, we need to record every interview with every witness and target so that there is a record of if someone's testimony is morphing over time and changing over time as it did in this case that I referred to in 2010, or in my case where the witness was interviewed 70 times, not seven but 70 times, over a period of four years and made to write and rewrite his answers over and over until he got his testimonies straight, according to Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes [so] that the record would reveal how a person's testimony changed over time. And it would also serve as a deterrent from prosecutors for pressuring, cajoling, and coaching witnesses to lie. In my case, we had a DOJ employee who filed a formal whistleblower complaint saying she was present when this witness against me was pressured and cajoled into remembering things he clearly did not recall.

Ralph Nader: That was devastating testimony to be sure. There's another aspect you might want to add to your list of reforms.

Don Siegelman: I’ve got one.

Ralph Nader: Years ago, a famous professor of administrative law, Kenneth Culp Davis, took note of how prosecutors failed to prosecute the big boys, the corporate criminals, that people have influence in politics. And he thought that prosecutors should always be under a duty to explain why they didn't prosecute, why they didn't further the prosecution. They couldn't just drop it and it's all secret; they’d have to explain to the public. You might want to get that in Lexis [2003].

Don Siegelman: Well, I kind of have that included, because the third element of my package to reform and to balance the scales of justice is to allow the target or the witness to have a lawyer present in the grand jury to object to testimony or evidence. Look, we do this in a civil deposition. You've been in hundreds, probably thousands of them. And you can object to proposed testimony or evidence and a magistrate/a judge decides whether it's admissible or not.

Ralph Nader: Yes, indeed.

Don Siegelman: Surely where monetary damages are at stake, if it's okay there, it ought to be okay when somebody's liberty is at stake. And so when you have cases, for example, when police officers shoot and kill an unarmed black man and it goes to a grand jury and the grand jury “no bills” [when a grand jury does not find probable cause for an arrest], you want an explanation. And if that defendant, in this case, the victim had the right to have a lawyer present, it would help bring some measure of accountability to the grand jury process. And in a way, you know, if there is a charge against a corporate wrongdoer and if it's taken to a grand jury, then there should be some public-interest entity that has the right to have a lawyer present, maybe an inspector general or someone, to be there to report back to the public why this corporate executive was not indicted.

Ralph Nader: For sure. That's exactly what Kenneth Culp Davis meant in this book, Discretionary Justice, which I'm sure you would benefit from if you read it. We're running out of time. We're talking with Don Siegelman, former Governor of Alabama [with a] very progressive record whose career was cut short by a political prosecution that we've been talking about as well documented on 60 Minutes program and also in his forthcoming book. We just have just a few seconds left. How about a question from Dave or Steve?

Steve Skrovan: Yeah, Mr. Siegelman, I have a question. And I just want to move it off to prison conditions. What kind of prison were you in? What was the population, the conditions? And talk a little bit about your advocacy in the age of this pandemic.

Don Siegelman: Well, as everyone probably knows at this point, it is virtually impossible for inmates to socially distance. You can't get away from inmates. We were over double capacity and when you're in a room where beds are stacked three high, not just two high and the aisles are so close, you can reach out and touch one bunk and the other when you're lying down in your bunk. When there's only one door in, one door out, no windows, it's impossible for infections or viruses not to spread rapidly. When you're sharing showers or soap or urinals are only inches apart with no separation, you know, it is going to spread. What I find amazing, the pronouncement by Bill Barr on April 3rd was, that he said, okay, you know, “We've got to release these nonviolent inmates who are not a threat to public safety.” Well now they're releasing thousands of inmates who are not a threat to public safety, which raises the question, why in the world are they in there in the first place? Ralph mentioned a man sentenced to 25 years for marijuana; he was my bunkmate, Juan Garcia. I've got a section in my book about him. A half ounce of marijuana--felony, probation; half a pound s of marijuana--felony, probation. Another conviction, felony for no amount of marijuana charge, no amount charge. And he was careered out, given 25 years. He serves 19. I wrote a petition for commutation for him and he gets out after 19 years, but it's insane. So we've got a lot of work to do in changing our criminal justice system. It is my hope that out of this Covid-19 crisis that has brought attention to the conditions of prisons and also has resulted in innovative ways to make goods and sell goods and provide things and services to the public, that out of this creativity that we're seeing bubble up, I hope we also are willing to accept changes in our criminal justice system that can radically change the way we deal with violations of the law. And we could go on talking about it, but I thank you for the opportunity to be with you today, Ralph. It's a pleasure to meet you.

Ralph Nader: I might add, and those changes have to be made by state legislators and members of Congress. So, any movement that expands its influence for criminal justice reform has got a zero in again on those handful of lawmakers who can turn this around. We've been talking with Don Siegelman, former Governor of Alabama and his forthcoming memoir out next month is called Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation. And it's not just about him, but it's about him speaking from his experience--not a theoretical memoir--from his experience in detail and then telescoping it to the whole criminal injustice system that afflicts so many people unfairly and allows so many other powerful people to escape the rule of law and the embrace of remedial justice. Thank you very much, Don.

Don Siegelman: Thank you Ralph. I appreciate it very much. Thank you, guys.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with former Alabama governor, Don Siegelman. We will link to his book, Stealing Democracy at ralphnaderradiohour.com .Now we're going to take a short break. When we return, we will try to figure out where 535 indispensable lawmakers have been hiding. But first, let's check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mohkiber.

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press building in Washington, DC, this is your corporate crime report, Morning Minute for Friday, May 8, 2020. I'm Russell Mohkiber. Texas-based ice cream manufacturer Blue Bell Creameries will plead guilty to charges it shipped contaminated products linked to a 2015 listeriosis outbreak, and the company’s former president was charged in connection with a scheme to cover up the incident. Blue Bell will also pay $2.1 million to resolve civil False Claims Act allegations regarding ice cream products manufactured under unsanitary conditions and sold to federal facilities. Blue Bell’s former president, Paul Kruse, also was charged with seven felony counts related to his alleged efforts to conceal from customers what the company knew about the listeria contamination. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I'm Russell Mohkiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I'm Steve Skrovan along with David Feldman and Ralph. We have been doing this program remotely for over six years. It works pretty well, but can Congress function as effectively remotely or should they physically be in the capital to do the people's business? I think I know how our next guest would answer that question. David?

David Feldman: Bruce Fein is a constitutional scholar who was associate deputy attorney general under Ronald Reagan. Mr. Fein has been a visiting fellow for constitutional studies at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct scholar at American Enterprise Institute. He's advised numerous countries on constitutional reform, including South Africa, Hungary, and Russia. He is the author Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, and American Empire: Before the Fall. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Bruce Fein.

Bruce Fein: Thank you for that effusion. I always remind listeners that nothing is said in introducing a guest that's under oath so it’s fine to exaggerate.

Ralph Nader: [Ralph chuckles] Before we talk about the AWOL Congress that must view itself as not essential service like delivery-truck drivers, grocery clerks, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, police and others who are exposing themselves daily to the risk of coronavirus because they're doing their duty, why don't you explain why historically, Congress has held itself in such low regard in so many ways vis-a-vis the Executive Branch under the Constitution and why you call Congress an ongoing inkblot?

Bruce Fein: Yeah. Well, really, Ralph, it goes back almost more than a century and it's been a steady erosion or a disappearance of Congress until it's like the Cheshire cat; it doesn't even have a smile when it's disappeared. And I think in part, it comes from twofold influences, but there are others as well. First, as the partisanship has become greater and greater, and as the government has grown in size, the members view the presidency as everything for their party, and so all they want to do is trust all the power—when their man is in the White House—to the Executive Branch. They escape accountability. They figure that with that person in the White House, they'll get bridges built or hospitals or roads; they’ll get some special grant in their district. And by not making any decisions, they make it more difficult for a challenger to come oust them because they haven't done anything to criticize other than giving away their power.

Ralph Nader: Let's start with war and then we'll go to define subpoenas.

Bruce Fein: All right. The war power. The fact is that every single member of the constitutional convention, every participant in the ratification debate, every president [from] the first--all understood that only Congress could declare war; only with Congress could take us from a state of peace to war. Now I need to underscore this because it's often misunderstood. That doesn't mean, and the ir founders said, if we're in fact subject to a sudden attack or an imminent sudden attack, the president can respond because the aggressor has already broken the peace. But the framers were unanimous. We can never trust the war power to the president who will concoct excuses to go to war to aggrandize power. That's been the history of every republic since the beginning of time. And the Congress did exercise that power up until, you know, after World War I. It was the Treaty of Versailles was defeated in part [by] the League of Nations, because that would have entrusted to the president alone, the authority to go to war without any congressional declaration. But since that time, presidents have run virtually hundreds of wars without congressional declarations. The only one that really wasn't needed [was] after Pearl Harbor; there was a declaration that recognized that we were at a state of war because Japan had attacked. Same thing after Hitler declared war on the United States. But certainly beginning with Korea and for the ensuing 70 some years, presidents have just gone to war on their own and Congress has simply sat there. Occasionally, they've delegated the power to go to war, like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution even though President Johnson lied about the so-called second torpedo attack on the USS Maddox and Turner Joy. Presidents have repeatedly lied in times of war, even when they've gotten declarations. President Wilson lied about the Lusitania, which was carrying munitions for the allied powers and said it wasn't justified; they sunk because there were only passengers on it, no ammunition. President Polk lied about Mexican forces killing American soldiers on American soil. And we know with Korea, President Truman lied that this was just a police action that he was engaged in; it wasn't really a war even though it involved, you know, millions of soldiers and the threat of nuclear war against China.

Ralph Nader: Well, let's move to defined congressional subpoenas and obstruction of justice. Nixon was about to be impeached and removed for defying one subpoena and one obstruction of justice in the Watergate. Here we have dozen or more obstructions of justice documented by investigators and Mueller Report by Trump, and all kinds of subpoenas he just laughs at and doesn't abide by, coming from Congress.

Bruce Fein: That's correct. And we need to underscore for the listeners, Ralph, the power of subpoena, the power of oversight, is perhaps the most important power that Congress possesses; sunshine is the best disinfectant. The power of information in Washington is enormous, and the only way you can check an executive out of control is by knowing what the executive can do. That's why the framers wrote in the Declaration of Independence; we need to have government by the consent of the governed. You can't consent to something [when] you don't know what's going on. And it has become really epidemic, if you will, maybe pandemic is the word, that the Executive Branch at present simply doesn't show up to testimony or it shows and doesn't ever answer questions. It wouldn't even answer questions as to what the so-called peace accord with Taliban is, to try to remove ourselves from Afghanistan even though Taliban knew what the terms of the peace accord was. I mean that is utterly ridiculous.

Ralph Nader: But of course, I know Trump has said, “With Article II, I can do whatever I want as president.” And he proceeds to do that every day larded with lies. He's breaking the checks and balances like other presidents did, but more forcefully and boastfully. He's breaking the checks and balances in our Constitution and he's breaking the separation of powers. Now why is Congress letting him and prior presidents get away with it and then we'll get to the AWOL Congress in the pandemic.

Bruce Fein: Okay, well, you know we're trying to get a psychology here, Ralph. And you know we both probably have a combined more than a hundred years dealing with Congress and I think there are several factors that are at work. One that the members of Congress now, I say, their loyalty and their oath that they take psychologically is to their party, and so they don't really care if the Constitution assigns them responsibility. If they can get reelected by assigning it to the president, they will sit and give away their power. Secondly, I know the Congress is hyper, hyper risk averse. They really don't want to do anything. And they fear, you know, an adverse tweet by President Trump. It's truly amazing how frightened they are. And also, they're totally unschooled, Ralph, in what their real powers are under the Constitution. I almost—

Ralph Nader: Let’s pause on that. This is the most amazing observation Bruce has. You know, his office is one block from the Congress; he’s in and out of the House and Senate all the time. And you conclude they don't even understand what their duties are under the Constitution, including the staff.

Bruce Fein: Including the staff. The staff after Gingrich, you know, downgraded the pay scale. The staff, don't even remember what the Vietnam War was or what Watergate was or Nixon's Enemies List. I once was asking, why don't you demand that Congress enact statutes that determines what gets classified and not, and don't have to encounter this spurious claims of the Executive Branch that we've called to declassify. And the staff said, “Oh, we don't have any power to decide what's classified or not”. And it's ridiculous. In fact, there are House Resolutions that are currently in place that authorize both the House and Senate to declassify any document they want. It was done a couple of times during the Church Committee hearings in 1975-76. Most of the staff members in Congress wouldn't even know who Senator Frank Church was. And so they're so clueless about how real power is allocated under the Constitution, they feel they're helpless and can't defend themselves, because they're completely ignorant. How you overcome that, I don't know. I've been up there so many times and said, “I'll do seminars for you. We can do staff sessions, whatever.” They just want to raise money and just be lazy is what they want to do. They are not serious people who devote serious time to understanding how the Constitution is supposed to work with checks and balances!

Ralph Nader: Well, you know, as you pointed out, they work two and a half days a week when they're in session before the Covid virus, and part of that time is they leave their office, which they have to under law and go to the nearby office space to raise money, dialing for dollars in little cubicles, both the Democrats and the Republicans. So now we have the trillions of dollars of relief and bailout and they come in and they vote and then they go back home. There are no public hearings on trillions of dollars, no detailed debate on the floor, no requests for information. In fact, you say that the drafts of these bills are actually written by who?

Bruce Fein: They're written either by the Executive Branch or the intelligence community or their subcontractors. The members, to be candid, the staff isn't even competent to write these bills; they don't even know enough. It's like you or I trying to jump into a first-year physics program and understand what equals MC squared is. It is so above their intellectual universe; they don't know what to do. So they get bamboozled and they accept the things that are utterly outrageous. As you pointed out in one of our recent discussions, Ralph, they wrote into these coronavirus relief and aid acts waiver authority for the [US] secretary of treasury. He can just waive all the limitations on declaring dividends and executive compensation wherever he feels it would help to open up the economy. There are no standards. He can do it for his friends and not do it for his enemies. This is utterly, completely unacceptable and ridiculous. This is 2 to 3 trillion dollars; you know, that's a huge amount of money.

Ralph Nader: And that's why so much of it is going into the wrong pockets and the press is saying there's chaos, because they're not drafting these bills tight enough. The corporate lawyers are all over getting exemptions for this and tax breaks for that. The New York Times reported in the 2.2 trillion bill, they got something in there that’s going to let the corporations escape, listen to this, $178 billion over time.

Bruce Fein: That’s right.

Ralph Nader: Now most of the members don't even glance at these bills. They just vote up or down depending on...

Bruce Fein: [Depending on] what the leadership tells them. Yeah, exactly right, and this is... there's a huge, what you would call intellectual imbalance here. The corporate lobbyists and the Executive Branch people who consult with them, you know, they're the Harvard/Yale; they're the Mandarin class. They get paid huge amounts of money. They know this stuff; they're smart. The members of Congress with Newt Gingrich, they pay their staff like $60,0000 to $70,000 a year. These people are 25-26 years old. They're not bad people; they don't have a clue of what's going on. You know, this is like having the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin playing an amateur basketball team. They don't know, and Congress refuses to increase the salary level. They say, “Well, we don't want to spend any of the money; we just care about who is in the White House; they'll help us out. And it's their own character that's so deficient that makes it almost impossible to get them to do anything constructive. And this is Republicans and Democrats; it's not a party issue. It's an institutional failing that...

Ralph Nader: There are necessary federal workers going to work every day. They don't do it by remote or virtual reality. What's the case for telling the members of Congress they should come back to work? They can take all the personal protections and more, advised by Centers for Disease Control. Some of the staff can work at home, so it isn't as much congestion. What is your argument against Congress working remotely from back home, voting from back home?

Bruce Fein: Well, first of all, there's the Constitution itself. In order to establish a quorum, you actually have to have a majority of members of Congress present and voting. So they have to be here under the Constitution. But putting that aside, Ralph, it's simply the nature of the species that you are able to debate and able to assess truth and falsehood in face-to-face encounters; you can, even if it's less or more than six feet away. That's how the mind works. Well, what do you think about X? What do you think about Y? It develops into esprit; it develops a team complex. No, you really think you would be able to develop esprit for a football team that had discussions by email or by Zoom or something like that? You have to see these people face to face in order to give them an emotional content to this. You have to inspire them with enthusiasm that they're willing to sacrifice; this really is important, and of course they are. I mean, they're superintending a $5 trillion corporation called the Executive Branch. Millions of employees, tens of millions of contractors, trillions of dollars at stake in debt that could destroy the whole country that's now storing past 25 trillion. Going to war that could destroy, create more enemies in another attack like 9/11 by stupidly getting into other people's business. All these are huge things and you have to have people who are there, motivated and who are willing to sacrifice. And to that requires face-to-face meetings in intensity. You can't duplicate the intensity of seeing somebody in the eye over an email or over some kind of remote system. It's like trying to court a woman. You really think you're going to do that successfully, you know, on the telephone or on the email as opposed to in person? Because that's what’s ultimately going to be the salvation of the country. We need people where we are who will fight the Executive Branch overreach, take risks and make it their life's ambition and endeavor. And you're not going to get that inspiration by 50 people or hundreds of people all scattered around, you know, in their home districts.

Ralph Nader: There's a certain lack of courage involved here. I must say. We're running out of time, but there's a certain lack of courage by members of Congress here, given all the people who are putting themselves on the line day after day, providing necessities for the American people in this Covid-19 crisis. We're running out of time, but any comment by Steve or Dave?

Steve Skrovan: Yeah Bruce, Anthony Fauci, who is the head of the CDC taskforce on this, their branch of it. He was asked to testify before the House and the White House said, “No, he can't testify before the House. We'll let him testify before the Senate,” which presumably in Trump world, is a more amenable place. Is that really legal? Is that within their power?

Bruce Fein: No. I mean if I were a member of Congress I’d say to Mr. Fauci, you show up to our subpoena, or we'll impeach and remove you from office. We'll have somebody else who will actually show up. No, you do not have the authority just to decide, oh, I don't want to show up for a hearing, and especially because you think you'll get questions you don't like to hear. Really? Can you imagine you're a witness in a lawsuit and say, Mr. Judge, I don't want to show up and answer questions I don't like, you know, you have to give me somebody who will ask me friendlier question. It is utterly and completely ridiculous. When I came to Washington, you know, years ago, John Dingell was Chairman of the House of Foreign Commerce Committee. If somebody said that his salary would be eliminated the next day and don't worry, there'll be an article of impeachment over his head like a sword of Damocles and then they would respond, and the fact that the House lets this go without any pushback is truly stunning.

Ralph Nader: All right, well, we're out of time. We've been talking with Bruce Fein, author of books on constitutional law, on empire, on the importance of checks and balances and reforms. Thank you very much, Bruce. To be continued as always.

Bruce Fein: Thanks so much, Ralph. I'm always eager to appear on your program.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein. We will link to his work at ralphnaderradiohour.com including the 12-part series he did with Ralph about the impeachable offenses of Donald Trump. Now we have some time for some listener questions. David, why don’t you do the honors?

David Feldman: This comes to us from Juan Gerardo. He says, “Ralph, I'm a ravenous listener to your podcast and I don't think Ralph Nader has responded to Mitch McConnell's attempt at tort reform. 45 already in his executive order to maintain the meat packing industry. Include this in it, to not hold them accountable for Covid-19 related injuries or death. We must keep informing the public about this denial of employees’ right for their day in court.”

Ralph Nader: Fully agree, Juan, and for listeners, his mention of 45 was referring to the 45th president who is Donald Trump. Well, we have responded, if you go to tortmuseum.org, you will see the letter signed by some prominent lawyers and law professors to Trump and the leaders in Congress saying this is not the time to allow recklessness in delivery of healthcare or defective products being sold as nostrums and phony remedies to be escaping from the accountability of tort law or the law of wrong wrongful injuries. The constitutional right of people to file a case in court, and the judges know how to throw out frivolous cases, is in the Seventh Amendment right of trial by jury. And McConnell is trying to take that away during the period of the Covid-19 and perhaps longer and give these corporations immunity from any kind of accountability. And you know what's going on in the marketplace; there's a lot of shoddiness, a lot of untested nostrums and the profiteering is at an epidemic level. So we're doing that. Go to tortmuseum.org and you can see the whole letter.

Steve Skrovan: Very good. Thank you for your question. Keep all of your questions coming on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website. I want to thank our guests again, Don Siegelman and Bruce Fein. For those of you listening on the radio, that's our show. For you podcasts listeners, stay tuned for some bonus material we call “The Wrap Up”. A transcript of this show will appear on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website soon after the episode is posted.

David Feldman: Subscribe to us on our Ralph Nader Radio Hour YouTube channel, and for Ralph's weekly column, it's free, go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mohkiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com.

Steve Skrovan: The producers or the Ralph Nader Radio Hour are Jimmy Lee Wirt and Matthew Marran. Our executive producer is Alan Minsky.

David Feldman: Our theme music, “Stand Up, Rise Up” was written and performed by Kemp Harris. Our proofreader is Elisabeth Solomon; our intern is Michaela Squier. Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you everybody. And like so many of our shows, the solution is to focus on Congress and state legislatures. That means all of you.
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