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 » Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:43 pm

Distinguished Professor of Corporate & Business Law, Cornell University

Professor Stout is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of corporate governance, securities regulation, financial derivatives, law and economics, and moral behavior. She is the author of numerous articles and books on these topics and lectures widely. Her most recent book is The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations and the Public (Berrerr Koehler 2012), which was named 2012 Governance Book of the Year.

Professor Stout serves on the Board of Governors of the CFA Institute, on the Financial Research Advisory Committee to the U.S. Treasury, as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program, as Executive Advisor to the Brookings Institution Project on Corporate Purpose, and as a Research Fellow for the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research.

She holds a B.A. summa cum laude and a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a J.D. from the Yale Law School.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016 2:40 pm - 3:00 pm
The Real Purpose of Public Corporations
Carnegie Institution of Washington

David J. Thompson, President, Twin Pines cooperative Foundation

David J. Thompson has worked for the national cooperative organizations of the United States, Britain and Japan as well as the United Nations. David specializes in funding the capital needs of the cooperative development sector. David was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in Washington DC in 2010. David was one of the co-op activists who worked with Ralph Nader and Mitch Rofsky to create the National Cooperative Bank.

David began work with the US food cooperative sector in 1969. He was one of the founders of Co-opportunity, Santa Monica, California. David is President of the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation where he initiated the Cooperative Community Fund (CCF) program. There are now almost 50 food co-ops throughout the USA which operate a CCF. The CCF program is the largest equity funder of co-op development organizations in the USA. http://www.community.coop

David is the author of “Co-opportunity: The Rise of a Community Owned Market”, “Weavers of Dreams” and over 400 articles about cooperatives. He lives in Davis, California.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 10:20 am - 10:40 am
Revitalizing Consumer Cooperatives
Constitution Hall

Professor Emeritus, American University Washington College of Law

During his career at the Washington College of Law at American University, Robert Vaughn has been Scholar-in-Residence with the law faculty of King’s College of the University of London, a visiting academic with the faculty of law at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, a visiting professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University School of Law in Kyoto, Japan. He has also served as a faculty member in summer programs in Santiago, Chile and Istanbul, Turkey. At WCL, he has received nine awards for outstanding teaching and five awards for scholarship.

He has published on a variety of topics regarding public information law, public employment law, consumer law, and whistleblower protection. He is the author of a book on federal open government laws in the United States, the editor of a book on freedom of information, the editor of a book on transparency, and the author of several articles addressing public information law. He is also the author of a book on civil procedure and articles on judicial reform, on the future of the federal courts, and on the relationship between judicial transparency and administrative transparency.


SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 1:20 pm - 1:40 pm
The Importance of Whistleblowing and Whistleblower Protections
Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mesothelioma Advocate

Ms. Vento is currently retired and provides a voice for mesothelioma patients and their families regarding state and federal legislation, the risks of asbestos, the legal rights of patients and their families, and the need for a ban on asbestos. She previously worked as Field Staff & Political Organizer/Lobbyist for Education Minnesota. She is the widow of US Representative Bruce Vento, who died of mesothelioma in October 2000. Bruce represented MN’s 4th Congressional District from 1976-2000.

SEPTEMBER 29, 2016 11:00 am - 11:40 am
Plantiffs for Justice
Constitution Hall

Professor of Law, Georgetown Law

Professor Vladeck teaches federal courts, civil procedure, administrative law, and seminars in First Amendment litigation, and co-directs the Institute for Public Representation, a clinical law program at Georgetown University. Prior to that David served for nearly four years as the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. At the FTC, he supervised the Bureau’s more than 430 lawyers, investigators, paralegals and support staff in carrying out the Bureau’s work to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices. Before joining the Law Center faculty full-time in 2002, Professor Vladeck spent over 25 years with Public Citizen Litigation Group, a nationally-prominent public interest law firm, handling and supervising complex litigation. He has briefed and argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and more than sixty cases before federal courts of appeal and state courts of law resort. He is a Senior Fellow of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an elected member of the American Law Institute, and a scholar with the Center for Progressive Reform. Professor Vladeck frequently testifies before Congress and writes on administrative law, preemption, First Amendment, and access to justice issues.

https://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/ ... avid-c.cfm

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 11:50 am - 12:10 pm
Empowering Consumers
Carnegie Institution of Washington

President, Public Citizen

Robert Weissman is a staunch public interest advocate and activist, as well as an expert on a wide variety of issues ranging from corporate accountability and government transparency, to trade and globalization, to economic and regulatory policy. Leading Public Citizen since 2009, Weissman has spearheaded the effort to loosen the chokehold corporations and the wealthy have over our democracy. Immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, Weissman established the Democracy Is For People campaign, a project of Public Citizen, specifically to fight for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling and curb money in politics.


SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 12:10 pm - 12:30 pm
Stopping Corporate Power & Money in Politics
Carnegie Institution of Washington

Former Mayor of Washington, DC and Executive Director of Federal City Council

Anthony A. Williams is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Federal City Council of Washington, DC, an organization instrumental in projects such as the Metro, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, and revitalization of Union Station in Washington, DC, and is a Senior Advisor of Dentons. From 2013 until its merger with Dentons in 2015, he served as a Senior Advisor of McKenna, Long & Aldridge, LLP. Prior to that, Mr. Williams served as the Executive Director of Global Government Practice from 2010 until 2012 and as a Senior Fellow from January 2012 until June 2012 at The Corporate Executive Board Company and was the Bloomberg Lecturer in Public Management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government from 2009 through 2012. From 2009 to 2010, Mr. Williams served as a Senior Advisor, Intergovernmental Practice at Arent Fox LLP and, from 2007 to 2008, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Primum Public Realty Trust.

Mr. Williams was elected to two terms as the fourth mayor of Washington, D.C. from 1999 to January 2007, having served as its Chief Financial Officer from 1995 to 1998. He also served as Vice-Chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and as President of the National League of Cities. From 1993 to 1995, Mr. Williams was the first Chief Financial Officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, from 1991 to 1993, he was the Deputy State Comptroller of Connecticut, from 1989 to 1991, he was the Executive Director of the Community Development Agency of St. Louis, Missouri and, from 1988 to 1989, he worked as Assistant Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority where he led the Department of Neighborhood Housing and Development. Mr. Williams is on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Georgetown and the Calvert Sage Fund. Mr. Williams also previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of Meruelo Maddux Properties, Inc. and Weston Solutions.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 2:55 pm - 3:15 pm
Building Support


SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

9:00 am - 9:10 am Galvanizing Democratic Energies for Justice and Posterity
9:10 am - 9:30 am Crime in the Suites, Crime in the Streets and Corporate Personhood—The Big Change
9:30 am - 9:50 am Power for the People—What Our Energy Policy Should Be
9:50 am - 10:10 am Teaching Taxes—Politics and Practice
10:10 am - 10:30 am How Congress Really Works
10:30 am - 10:50 am A Citizen’s Guide to Freeing the Press
10:50 am - 11:10 am Small Claims Courts—the People’s Courts—Why Not Use Them?
11:10 am - 11:30 am Community Business is Revolutionary
11:30 am - 11:50 am Organizing for Safe Food
11:50 am - 12:10 pm Empowering Consumers
12:10 pm - 12:30 pm Stopping Corporate Power & Money in Politics
12:30 pm - 1:20 pm Lunch
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm The Importance of Whistleblowing and Whistleblower Protections
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Public Sentiment and Social Change—What it Takes
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Training for Change
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Overcoming Civic Apathy
2:40 pm - 3:20 pm Teaching Civics—A View from the Classroom
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Building A Movement
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm The New Economy – the Responsibility of Corporate Leaders
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm The New Citizen Library
4:30 pm - 4:50 pm The Other “One Percent” for Making Change
4:50 pm - 5:30 pm

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

9:00 am - 9:30 am Turning Long Established, Commonly Held Assets into the Common Good
9:30 am - 9:50 am Taking on Corporate Abuses by “Confronting Power With Power”
9:50 am - 10:10 am Reinvigorating the SEC
10:10 am - 10:30 am Stock Buybacks and Executive Pay
10:30 am - 10:50 am The Extent and Limits of Shareholder Control Over Management
10:50 am - 11:10 am Shareholder Activism—Past, Present, and Future
11:10 am - 11:30 am The Perils of Corporate Personhood
11:30 am - 11:50 am Blowing the Whistle on Securities Fraud
11:50 am - 12:10 pm Shareholder Resolutions for Justice and Accountability
12:10 pm - 12:30 pm A New Approach to Mobilize Shareholders—the Penny Brigade
12:30 pm - 1:20 pm Lunch
1:20 pm - 1:40 pm Fiduciary Duties as if Shareholders Mattered
1:40 pm - 2:00 pm Curbing Abuse of Shareholders through Litigation
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm Private Enforcement Myth or Reality
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm Controlling What We Own—Defending the Commons
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm The Real Purpose of Public Corporations
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm Turning the Lights Out on Major Financial Fraud
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Public Banking
3:40 pm - 4:00 pm Corporate Tax Dodges and Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes
4:00 pm - 4:20 pm The Power of Knowing and Doing
4:20 pm - 5:30 pm Audience Participation
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm Callaway Awards

SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

9:00 am - 9:20 am Opening Remarks and Proposals for a Secretariat to Prevent War, Organizing the Patrons of Advocacy and Creating an Audience Network
9:20 am - 9:40 am Empowering Students
9:40 am - 10:00 am Building Alumni Civic Organizations
10:00 am - 10:20 am Building Community through Bartering Time Dollars
10:20 am - 10:40 am Revitalizing Consumer Cooperatives
10:40 am - 11:20 am Sustainable Funding Models for Organizing- CUBs & Cy pres
11:20 am - 11:40 am How Events Spark the Creation of Organizations
11:40 am - 12:00 pm How Professions Can Advance the Public Interest
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm - 1:10 pm Ending the Servitude and Abolishing the Colony
1:10 pm - 1:20 pm Why Now is the Time for Statehood
1:20 pm - 1:35 pm Getting Statehood through Congress—Strategy and Resources
1:35 pm - 2:05 pm The Case for Statehood—Ending the Colony
2:05 pm - 2:55 pm Mobilizing for Action in The District of Columbia and the Nation—When, How and With What
2:55 pm - 3:15 pm Building Support for Democracy with the D.C. Establishment
3:15 pm - 3:45 pm Voter Suppression
3:45 pm - 4:15 pm The Best DC Constitution, The US Constitution and DC Statehood
4:15 pm - 4:45 pm Making Statehood a Presidential Priority—Mobilizing for Statehood Nationwide
4:45 pm - 5:30 pm The Winning Strategy—And a Proclamation

SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

9:00 am - 9:10 am The Underutilization of Tort Law – Our Freedom Tool for Justice
9:10 am - 9:30 am The Need to Educate the Public on The Importance of Tort Law
9:30 am - 9:50 am Celebrating Tort Law
9:50 am - 10:10 am The Important History of Evolving Tort Law
10:10 am - 10:30 am Why Lawsuits are Good for America
10:30 am - 10:50 am The Historic Role of the Civil Jury—and its Perilous Future
10:50 am - 11:00 am The Need to Build Citizen Support for Tort Law
11:00 am - 11:40 am Plantiffs for Justice
11:40 am - 12:00 pm Litigating for Justice
12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Opportunities and Responsibilities of a 360 degree Legal Practice
12:20 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm Using and Defending Class Action Litigation
1:20 pm - 1:50 pm Recognizing New Torts: The Case Study of Bad Faith Litigation
1:50 pm - 2:10 pm How the Supreme Court Coddles Tort Perpetrators
2:10 pm - 2:50 pm Trial Lawyers for Justice
2:50 pm - 3:10 pm Case Study the Power of Tort Law to Break through Secrecy and Entrenched Coverups
3:10 pm - 3:30 pm The Frontiers of Tort Law—Climate Change
3:30 pm - 3:50 pm Tort law and Mass Deception by Fine Print
3:50 pm - 4:10 pm Cybertorts
4:10 pm - 4:30 pm Fighting Malpractice and the Attempts to Limit the Rights of Injured Patients
4:30 pm - 4:50 pm How Tort “Deform” Harms Us
4:50 pm - 5:10 pm The Agenda for Advancing Justice
5:10 pm - 5:30 pm Getting Serious About Restoring Tort Law and its Availability for the Wrongfully Injured


First two days at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
The Second two days at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC



Breaking Through Power

It’s easier than we think.

In Breaking Through Power, Nader draws from a lifetime waging—and often winning—David vs. Goliath battles against big corporations and the United States government. In this succinct, Tom Paine-style wake-up call, the iconic consumer advocate highlights the success stories of fellow Americans who organize change and work together to derail the many ways in which wealth manipulates politics, labor, media, the environment and the quality of national life today. Nader makes an inspired case about how the nation can—and must—be democratically managed by communities guided by the U.S. Constitution, not by the dictates of big businesses and the wealthy few. This is classic Ralph Nader, a crystallization of the core political beliefs and commitments that have driven his lifetime of advocacy for greater democracy.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:53 pm

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 122: Thomas Frank; Steven Hill
by KPFK and Ralph Nader
July 16, 2016

"One of the things you've been seeing so far is this blaming of Sanders' voters. And the Clinton campaign, they're sort of masters of this. The idea is that it's the voter's fault for not being persuaded, rather than the candidate's fault for failing to persuade us."
-- Thomas Frank, author of Listen Liberal: Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?

"I have identified nearly 900 billion dollars in savings that we could save by closing all of these sorts of loopholes and deductions and other subsidies that are basically benefiting the wealthiest of Americans, not benefiting the middle class all that much and certainly not benefiting the poor at all."
-- Steven Hill, author of Expand Social Security Now! How to Ensure Americans Get the Retirement They Deserve

In two very lively discussions, Ralph talks to progressive author and essayist, Thomas Frank, about the failings of the Democratic Party and his new book Listen Liberal: Or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? And then author Steven Hill returns to tell us why and how we need to Expand Social Security Now!


Thomas Frank is a political analyst, historian, journalist and columnist for Harper’s Magazine. His writing focuses on the relationship between politics and culture in the United States. Mr. Frank has written several books, including What’s the Matter with Kansas?, which explored the rise of populist, anti-elitist conservatism in the United States that seemingly causes people to vote against their own economic interest. His most recent book is a scathing analysis of the modern Democratic Party. It’s entitled Listen Liberal: Or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?


Steven Hill is making his second appearance on the show. He is a writer, lecturer and a Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation and a frequent speaker on a wide range of topics related to politics, economics, climate change, global complexity, and future trends. Regular listeners to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour will remember our conversation with him about Uber and AirBnB, which was the subject of his book Raw Deal. His latest book is Expand Social Security Now! How to Ensure Americans Get the Retirement They Deserve.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:08 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 121: Charles Derber; Nicholas Mokhiber
by KPFK and Ralph Nader
July 10, 2016

"By its nature, corporate capitalism is a bullying system. It relies on structurally embedded inequalities of power, because a small number of people own a vast amount of resources. And everyone else is dependent for their livelihood on it. So, you've set up the schoolyard bully terrain right in the system itself."
-- Professor Charles Derber, author of Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society

"One step at a time."
-- Nicholas Mokhiber on how he was able to hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail

Ralph talks to professor Charles Derber about how corporate capitalism has turned America into a “bully nation.” And nineteen year old Nicholas Mokhiber shares with us his adventure hiking the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.


Charles Derber is a professor of sociology at Boston College. Professor Derber speaks often to business and policy leaders at the Conference Board, the Council of Foreign Relations and related bodies to interpret the rising concerns about anti-globalization and corporate power, especially in the context of the war on terrorism. He has written many widely acclaimed books, a number of them with colleague Yale Magrass, sociology professor at UMass Dartmouth. The one we’re discussing today is entitled, Bully Nation: How The American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society.


Nicholas Mokhiber decided that instead of going right to college after he graduated high school, he was going to set a challenge for himself. He was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, which is a 2,200 mile hiking trail from the state of Georgia to the state of Maine.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:11 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 120: David Whyte; Steve Tombs; George Mallinckrodt
by KPFK and Ralph Nader
July 2, 2016

"If you begin to look at what corporations actually do on a routine daily basis, whether it's the pollution of communities; the killing of workers; whether it's involvement in military escapades like Iraq or other parts of the Middle East; corporations are involved in routine criminal activities."
-- David Whyte, coauthor with Steve Tombs of The Corporate Criminal

"We're not doing enough as a society to provide mental health safety nets in our schools and communities. So that people with severe mental illness end up falling through the cracks and into our criminal justice system where they languish in prisons, oftentimes in solitary confinement where it's well known that this is contraindicated for the severely mentally ill."
-- George Mallinckrodt, author of Getting Away With Murder: A True Story

Ralph makes the case for abolishing the corporation with the help of professor David Whyte and Steve Tombs, authors of The Corporate Criminal. And we also hear from psychotherapist George Mallinckrodt, who blew the whistle on the systemic abuses of mentally ill prisoners in the Florida state prison system.


David Whyte is a Professor of Socio-legal Studies at the University of Liverpool where he teaches and researches subjects related to criminal justice, political economy and the sociology of law. He is currently completing a long-term project on corporate human rights violations funded by the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His most recent books are How Corrupt is Britain and co-author with Steve Tombs of The Corporate Criminal.


George Mallinckrodt is a psychotherapist, who lives in the Miami, Florida area. For twenty years, he has practiced both privately and in the public sector. He has worked at the Bertha Abess Children’s Center, counseling emotionally handicapped and severely emotionally disturbed middle school children for the Dade County Public School System. He facilitates support groups for the Cancer Support Community. And he also worked for nearly three years in the psychiatric unit of the Dade Correctional Institution, where he blew the whistle on systemic abuses that included beatings, neglect and what by all accounts amounts to torture, which in at least in one case led to the death of an inmate named Darren Rainey. His book about that is entitled, Getting Away With Murder: A True Story.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:05 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 116: Wenonah Hauter; Bartlett Naylor
June 4, 2016

Ralph talks fracking with Wenonah Hauter author of Frackopoly, and then delves into finance with consumer financial expert, Bartlett Naylor, who contends that the mega-banks are not only too big to fail and too big to jail; they’re even too big to manage.


Wenonah Hauter is the founder and Executive Director of the organization, Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. Her book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America examined the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and what it means for farmers and consumers. Her latest work is entitled, Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment.


Bartlett Naylor is a financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. He is an expert on corporate governance, financial markets and shareholder rights and he was previously a consultant for Capital Strategies Consulting, the Director of the Office of Corporate Affairs for the Teamsters Union, and the Chief of Investigations for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. His latest report for Public Citizen is entitled “Too Big: The Mega-Banks Are Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail, and Too Big to Manage” and will be available for download on June 22nd, 2016.


Steve Skrovan, Ralph Nader, Russell Mohkiber, Wenonah Hauter, Bartlett Naylor

Ralph Nader: The Koch Brothers who represent oil and gas entireand tar sands sales interests have been lobbying Southern legislatures to put a tax on solar panels. And guess what? They're losing.

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with the “Man of the Hour” Ralph Nader. Ralph, I'm sure our listeners want to hear all about the Through Power Conference you hosted last week and we’ve been promoting on the show and the weeks before. Debrief us. How did it go?

Ralph Nader: Well we had the greatest collection of citizen etsyadvocacy [ph] groups brought together under one roof in American history, which illustrates two things, that when they all get together they see the interrelations with one another, because when it comes to challenging raw power in the search for justice, the forces of injustice work 24/7, and they use all the tools right across the continuum. What areour four days tried to demonstrate is that we have the tools. We need more resources. We need more staff. We need more groups. But look what these few groups have accomplished over the last forty, fifty years with very modest budgets and very small staff. They’ve changed for the better the living conditions of all Americans: Cleaner air, water, safer food, more focus on nutrition, protection of some levels of workers’ safety and consumer rights. Of course, the environmental movement was launched about fifty years ago in order to manage the cumulative forms of silent violence that we terriblytoo charitably call pollution. So tThey all gave wonderful, very concise presentations, which you can all see. They were streamed to the public live last week by the Real News Network. And . Iif you go to the realnewsnetwork.org, you can see whatever you want to see. There are thirtytwo hours of original programming never before brought together. The other thing that came out was that the mass media just doesn’t know or is unwilling to cover these kinds of gatherings. They will cover entertainment gatherings like the Academy Awards and innumerable other smaller gatherings. They will cover sports indefinitely. They will do reruns of these coverages. They will cover politicians, the more outrageous, the more coverage they get in terms of being personally outrageous to one another, like cheating Donald Trump. But when it comes to the basic fundamentals of a democratic society, the civil society from which all procedes, whether for good or for ill, including the quality of our elections and the quality of our government, they’re not there. And so that was the one drawback of all our good efforts. And the network TV wasn’t there. The network radio stations weren’t there. The Washington Post and New York Times and Wall Street Journal , Reuters and AP weren’t there. They were all very well advanced and notified weeks and days ahead of time by our energetic media person. But still, they didn’t come. And I was looking at the newspapers, Steve, in those days, and. I can give you twentyfive examples of utterly trivial coverage of situations, including, by the way, there was a lizard that got more coverage than our entire four days, a lizard.

Steve Skrovan: A lizard?

Ralph Nader: Yeah, a special kind of lizard. Never mind the awesome pandas, I mean you know. It’s there. The videos will be used in educational institutions. People are interested in that, church gatherings, civic organizations, citizen skill seminars, which we want to try to establish, that will be a good source of material. Because these are groups in action. They’re not just not pontificating and bloviating. They’re in action. Isn’t it nice that we have this radio hour, Steve, where we can even talk about this gathering, which I wanted to call Citizen’s Revolutionary Week, but we called it Breaking Through Power. And that’s where you can get the details as well. Go to breakingthroughpower.org and you can see the presentation by Wenonah Hauter, who’s our guest today and is the author of a brand new book called, Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment published by the New Press. She is the founder of Food & Water, a group with well over a hundred organizers all over the country, probably in your neighborhood, listeners. And she also wrote a book called Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America . She lives on a farm where her husband grows and sells crops in Virginia. Why don’t you introduce Wenonah so we can get right into this fascinating book.

Steve Skrovan: Well you did a goodgreat job yourself there, but I will reiterate. Wenonah Hauter is the founder and executive director of the organization Food & Water Watch. She has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level. You mentioned Foodopoly , it’s the battle of over the future of food and farming in America,n which we’ve talked about a number of times on this show too. And Frackopoly is her latest work, The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment , which I understand is just out this month and has been characterized as “a true tale of corruption and greed.” Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Wenonah Hauter.

Wenonah Hauter: I am thrilled to be here this morning.

Ralph Nader: Thank you, we are too, Wenonah. Can you just define fracking for our audience? What’s the difference between fracking and conventional drilling for oil?

Wenonah Hauter: Well, fracking is something that was developed really with the assistance of the federal government. And it uses large amounts of sand, toxic chemicals and as much as fifty times more water than conventional natural gas. And this concoction is sent deep underground, using high pressure, sometimes as far as two miles underground. And then it can go horizontally the fracks the same distance. And it fractures the shale or the tight sandstone and allows oil and gas to escape. Actually, over the last several years, 80% of fracking hasve been done for oil. It’s one of the reasons we have such an oil glut right now. But, we also have a glut in natural gas, which has reduced prices significantly. And once again we see the bust. We know that with oil and gas there’s a continual boom/bust cycle.

Ralph Nader: And the thrust to your book of course is to show that the real goal of energy for the planet is renewable energy like sustainable solar, thermal, solar voltaic, wind power, coming geothermal as well as enormous advantages that can be ours if we demand it in energy efficiency, getting more energy for the energy dollar. I noticed that in your introduction Wenonah, you have an amazing matrix here called the Big Oil Interlock. And it lists various companies and how they’re interlocked with each other including, surprisingly, nonprofits. So it’s not just finance companies, media companies, corporations, utilities. Do you want to explain that?

Wenonah Hauter: Well yes. Each oneline in this circle represents a common board member adviser or trustee. And we know that all of these corporations have interlocking boards, and that’s how a lot of the decisionmaking is done. We know finance, media, the largest corporations and electric utilities are in this cabal. But it also turns out that a lot of nonprofits some of them are trade associations like the American Petroleum Institute, the Natural Gas Alliance but then there are these organizations that are purported to be objective, like the Bookings Institute, the Smithsonian and even environmental groups like The Nature Conservancy. So, you can see that there has been a lot of effort really it’s over the last hundred years but more recently efforts have accelerated to promote natural gas as the future for energy. and pPart of why I wrote this book is I worked on renewable energy in the mid 1990s we know renewables have been ready. Energy efficiency has been ready for decades. We are not where we need to be today and in part that’s because the mainstream environmental groups have been funded by foundations that purport that the market’s going to take care of moving renewables and energy efficiency. And we can see in the circle that we’ve been talking about, of the interlocking boards, that foundations like the Rockefeller Foundation is listed in that circle as having board members. So, we aren’t where we need to be with renewables today. And I think most people are really shocked to know that solar energy and wind energy is only 5% of our electricity mix. 5%, after all the years of advocacy around electricity. and iIf we’re really going to move into this more electrified world where cars are electrified and many other types of appliances, then we really have to move faster. And the market’s not going to do it alone. We need public policy to move renewables into the mainstream and energy efficiency into the mainstream.

Ralph Nader: Yeah Wenonah, you know the vast majority of new generating capacity in our country for electricity, the vast majority is renewable. It’s wind power. It’s far in excess of any new oil, gas and coal burning for electricity. So I think that clearly indicates that economically, renewable energy now is easily competitive with fossil fuels, especially when you take into account the collateral damage of fossil fuels to the climate, to the land, to the workers all over the world. Why is Governor Jerry Brown, a supporter of fracking in California?

Wenonah Hauter: Well, I believe that he has very close relationships with both the oil and gas industry and with the financial services industry, because they are in lock step together. And interestingly enough, Goldman Sachs has now overtaken the largest fracker in the country, Exxon, in the amount of natural gas sales being made. It’s really this relationship between the oil and gas industry, the financial services industry and then a lot of these large of theselarge institutions that are really dependent on what they see as the ability of Wall Street to generate ongoing profits.

Ralph Nader: Isn’ it part of it that Jerry Brown and some environmental groups have bought into this myth that natural gas is a cleaner, better source of energy than coal, even though the documentation now is becoming impressive that the methane release from natural gas is thirty, forty times more deadly for the climate change problem in our world than ordinary natural gas? David Freeman, who knows more about energy andthan just about anybody we’ve had him on this program says that if you calculate the methane leaks and releases when you drill for natural gas like fracking, you are producing as much damage if not more from burning coal. Isn’t that a part of it, that they bought into this clean natural gas myth?

Wenonah Hauter: Well I think that is true. And we know that the natural gas industry was very tricky when they bought support from many of the major environmental groups toward natural gas as a bridge fuel. It’s hard for me to believe, though, that smart people like Jerry Brown and a number of other Democratic governors who are supporting fracked gas, like Governor Hickenlooper in Colorado, Governor Wolf in Pennsylvania. This isese are people who looked at the research, I’m sure. But they are so wed to the oil and gas industry, and these schemes like carbon trading, that they have deluded themselves into thinking we don’t have to transition as quickly as we must make the transition. And a lot of research has now been done. Actually, it began at Cornell University with Professor Howarth and Professor Ingraffea, who did the first research showing thethat methane emissions from natural gas and the leakage all along the pipeline from when it’s drilled and fracked and transported and processed that it’s actually more damaging than carbon in the first twentyfour years, because it traps heat, eightyseven times more heat. In the short term, we have about ten years to really address climate change before we could reach a very dangerous tipping point. We need to transition immediately. And there’s a lot of enthusiasm for doing that now.

Ralph Nader: Well, you know what’s interesting before we get into this contrast between fracking being allowed in Pennsylvania and fracking being prohibited in New York State, adjoining states and how that all came about, Wenonah Hauter. We’re talking with Wenonah Hauter, the author of Frackopoly , which is on the damage of fracking. T, two points:. One is: isn’s it true with the collapse of oil prices that there is less fracking now because fracking is not as profitable in an era of $40 per barrel oil?

Wenonah Hauter: Well yes, in the short term, there will be less drilling and fracking. Although, we must understand that in December, Congress repealed the law that was passed in the 1970s to prohibit export of natural gas and oil. And we’re now seeing shipments of oil going overseas. And there is a big effort to export liquefied natural gas. So, all of the effort is to get the price back up by exporting these petroleum products. The other thing that we must realize and I looked at this in writing Frackopoly this is the history of oil and gas, really from the beginning of the 20 th Century. There is a boom and bust cycle, even during all those decades when the oil and gas industry was conspiring together to try to keep prices high. So, we will see, in the next probably two years, the prices will go back up again and the fracking will begin. We can’t depend on the market to do this. We’re really going to have to change public policy, beginning with getting really tough renewable portfolio standards in every state that don’t allow dirty energy, some maybe of the renewable portfolio standards do allow dirty energy today.

Ralph Nader: I think the wave of the future now is renewable. It’s irresistible to people who want to be more self reliant. Solar panels on their homes are selling more and more, creating all kinds of jobs, not just in California but in the southern part of our country. So much so that the Koch Brothers, who represent oil and gas and tar sands interests, have been lobbying southern legislatures to put a tax on solar panels. And guess what, Wenonah? They’re losing. They’re losing because there’s no such thing as a Republican or Democrat solar panel. And also there are earthquakes in Oklahoma now, increasingly documented because of fracking. Can you comment on that?

Wenonah Hauter: Yes, that’s exactly right. The waste from fracking and we’re talking about 10.5 billion gallons of liquid toxic waste a day on average that is often dealt with by injecting it deep underground. And what’s happening is a dramatic increase in earthquakes. And Oklahoma really exemplifies this. There used to be two or three earthquakes over 3.0. Today they have thousands of earthquakes, literally. And this is not something that we’re making up. This has been the Geologic Service has now said that this deep well disposal is causing these flurries of earthquakes.

Ralph Nader: The Republican dominated legislature in Oklahoma is very worried about it. This is not some fantasia. The farmers are worried about it. And it’s getting worse. To show our listeners the kind of ignorance that you’ve been up against here: on page 58 of your book Frackopoly , published by the New Press in New York City, you have a quote by Steve Forbes, the CEO of Forbes Media. Now, he’s a big businessman. He’s run for president on the Republican ticket. Didn’t make it. He’s a graduate of Princeton. And I want to share with the listeners the quote, listen to this quote to show you the level of ignorance in some parts of the business supported community. Here’s Steve Forbes, “I think they,” meaning the Obama Administration, “genuinely believes that we can go back to medieval time and have windmills. They truly believe we can have windmills, solar energy. And of course as you know that will just take us back to a medieval economy.” Hello? Has he seen some of the modern windmills sprouting all over the world and all over America? What do you attribute such remarkable ignorance, factdeprived ignorance to?

Wenonah Hauter: Well, I think it’s we are seeing a battle over the future of energy. And the fossil fuel industry and their allies see that the end is in sight. And they are doing everything in their power to set back the time when we keep fossil fuels in the ground. They thought that they were going to be able to buy more time with natural gas. And now, it becomes evident that natural gas is just as big a problem. And so we’re seeing this horrible misinformation campaign. And the media hads ignored the terrible impacts: the way that people on the frontlines of fracking are really living in sacrifice zones. They’ve ignored the evidence. The Obama Administration has shut down the studies of the water pollution. They have put out a clean power plan that really ignores the problems with fracking and incentivizes natural gas. And we are literally in a battle. And the Koch funded lobby machine is trying to go state by state to take away the net metering [indiscernible 0:20:50] that allows people who install solar or even small windmills to be able to sell the energy back. You know, we really have to get the message out the way that we can. And fortunately, so few people actually get their information now from mainstream media that we have the opportunity to get the real story out in a number of ways.

Ralph Nader: The polls in favor of solar energy and wind power are overwhelming. I really think after a lot of small starts over the past century with solar that it is now irreversible, in part because it’s sprouting everywhere. It’s competitive. It’s cleaner. It doesn’t jeopardize our national security. And it lends itself to small business development as well as expressing enormous technological innovation. I had a solar engineer tell me the other day, “The pace of innovation in refining all kinds of solar energy,” he said, “it’s just spectacular. You can hardly keep up with it,” which reflects the sense of the growing market that theseis innovators are anticipating. On page 275 of your book, you have a list of what we have to do to mount a massive grass root organizing effort to stop fracking, keep all fossil fuels in the ground, and other obviously pretty rational courses of action, if we respect our descendants and posterity. But let’s get to Pennsylvania briefly and New York. Something happened in Pennsylvania that opened up the whole state to fracking, to contaminated water, to deceptive royalty contracts. And in New York, there was an aroused citizenry that persuaded Governor Cuomo to say, “No fracking in New York.” Can you give our listeners the kind of scenario that I thought was a great lesson in civics?

Wenonah Hauter: I think part of what happened in Pennsylvania is that the industry got in there very quickly when these technologies became available. It was some of the cowboy companies. Because what happens is we have the majors like the Exxons, Chevrons and Shells, they let these smaller companies come in and do some of the experimentation. You had a Republican and Democratic governor through the years that really allowed any type of behavior by the fracking companies. I mean, it was even so shameful that they had a list, so that when people called in to the Health Department with health problems,. i If one of their symptoms was on the list, the call had to go to one of the supervisors, because they just didn’t want to do anything about the damage. and I think one of the differences is that there’s a long history of oil and gas and mining in Pennsylvania and a lot of those abuses. Now, New York was a different story. And and I have to say as one of the organizations I mean my organization Food & Water Watch became the first national organization to call for a ban on fracking. T. There were many in grassroots groups around New York, who were calling for bans in their community and working for resolutions of, a tremendous amount of civic activity. And so along with Catskill Mountain Keeper, Frack Action and several other groups we reformed a coalition, New Yorkers Aagainst Fracking. By the time that we won the ban in 2014, there were more than 200 members to this coalition. We actually followed Governor Cuomo. We birddogged him. He could go nowhere without there being a band of fracking activists.

Ralph Nader: That’s for sure.

Wenonah Hauter: The activists there would be tens of thousands of people, and that’s what it takes. And I think we need to stop believing that we can only do what’s politically possible, and we have to fight for the vision of the kind of world we want. And that’s what happened in New York. And it’s continuing to happen, because even though fracking is banned, there’s now a fight over all of the horrible infrastructure, because the oil and gas industry has not given up on selling lots more natural gas.

Ralph Nader: Wenonah, describe to our listeners what the landscape looks like when the frackers, the fracking companies, the oil and gas companies, suck out what they want from the farmers’ land and then take off, often not paying full royalties because they have theseis [1] fine print contracts with these poor farmers who are desperate for additional income. Describe what they leave behind, the wreckage that they leave behind.

Wenonah Hauter: It’s really shocking. I mean, what they do and we have to remember that the reason farmers are willing to sign these leases is we’ve had bad agriculture policy for so long. Farmers are really desperate for cash, so they lease out their land. The sites become industrial zones. It ruins the road. A typical well takes a thousand large truckloads of materials to get there. They spill the fracking chemicals. They spill the waste as they’re either taking it to some kind of slurry pond or doing deep well disposal. The wells remain even after the fracking. They also need all of the processing facilities. The processing facilities put all sorts of horrible toxic chemicals in the air, including ozone. So we’ve seen all sorts of water pollution. We also see all sorts of quality of life problems. When the oil and gas industry comes in we’re not talking about local jobs. We’re talking about the professional jobs are people that the companies bring and move around the country. And then they hire lots of young men, usually, roughnecks who also move around the country. When you bring in this big influx of workers we’ve looked at the data in Pennsylvania and actually found that accidents, large truck accidents increase. The roads are wrecked. And the cost of fixing the roads goes up. There are a number of social problems. Venereal disease increases, because of all of the young workers coming in. In some places like North Dakota, we’ve seen a rise in rape and crime. And there was such an influx of workers going into North Dakota that women felt unsafe in the streets. Because you know what happens, people young men away from their families with time on their hands when they’re off and some money and there’s a lot of bars and a lot of drinking, so a lot of the predictable problems. I mean, this has always been the case with the oil and gas industry. So it takes these bucolic places that are suffering from poverty and makes them into industrial sacrifice zones. And the poor people who live there are basically well it’s like we used to talk about the developing world. These are people when the corporations would you know move into developing countries and do whatever they want. Now they’re moving into these very poor places around the country to frack. And some of this drilling and fracking is even taking place in urban areas like LA, unbelievably. The city of LA, a low income, people of color community is experiencing this kind of drilling in the processing. And so we’re seeing these effects across the country. Thirtyfour states have fracking going on today.

Ralph Nader: Wenonah before we conclude, tell our listeners how they can contact you, number one. Number two, is it possible for you with your organizers around the country to encourage discussion groups, using your book Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment as a focal point? And thirdly, I’ve got to read you the quote you give your readers by Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry’s quoted as saying, “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, nature is party to all our deals and decisions. And she has more votes, a longer memory and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” That’s from the wise farmer, writer, poet Wendell Berry. How do people reach you? And what’s the likelihood if some listeners want to have a discussion group that they can meet up with one of your organizers?

Wenonah Hauter: We have sixteen offices across the country. You can go to our website, food&waterwatch.org to get in touch with us to see where our offices are. This happened with my book Foodopoly . A number of people did have discussion groups. We even did phone presentations about Frackopoly to people who wanted to discuss it around or during one of their book clubs. There are a lot of ways for people to get involved. And we would love to hear from your listeners, because you know I think fracking in the way that we move into clean energy transition is going to be very important. And one other thing I’d like to close with: we are one of the organizers of the clean energy revolution march in Philadelphia the day before the National Democratic Convention. We would love to see your listeners come out to talk about how we’re going to move into that clean energy future and to demand that our policy makers support clean energy.

Ralph Nader: Talking about energy, imagine listeners the human energy of Wenonah Hauter, who has built this powerful grass root citizen group and continues to expand its impact for safe, clean food, water and energy. Thank you very much, Wenonah Hauter.

Wenonah Hauter: Thanks so much, Ralph, for having me on the show.

Ralph Nader: You’re welcome.

Steve Skrovan: We’ve been speaking with Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and the author of Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment . We will link to her work on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website. Coming up, we’re going to talk big banks with the financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, Bartlett Naylor, who’s going to tell us about his new report that makes the case that America’s megabanks and not only too big to fail and too big to jail, they’re also too big to even manage. But first we’re going to away for about a minute and send you over to our corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber. What’s up Russell?

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press Building in Washington D.C. this is your corporate crime reporter morning minute for Friday June 3, 2016. I’m Russell Mohkiber. The US Food and Drug Administration should stop dragging its feet and act on a four year old petition urging the agency to regulate deadly bacteria in shellfish harvested in the Gulf Coast and sold for raw consumption. That’s according to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Without the safety standard, in the next year an estimated thirty people will become seriously ill and fifteen of them will die after consuming raw shellfish that contained bacteria. Every year people are getting sick and some are dying from what is a completely preventable disease said CSPI Senior Food Safety Attorney, David Plunkett. For too long the FDA has observed these illnesses and deaths from its perch on the sidelines, leaving matters to state regulators and the industry. And it’s clear that the approach has been a public health failure. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I’m Russell Mohkiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. Now we turn our attention to high finance. Bartlett Naylor is a financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division. He is an expert on corporate governance, financial markets and shareholder rights. And he was previously a consultant for Capital Strategies Consulting, the Director of the Office of Corporate Affairs for the Teamsters Union and the Chief of Investigations for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. He has an upcoming report coming out on June 22 nd for Public Citizen and it’s entitled, “Too Big: The Mega Banks Are Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail, and Too Big to Manage.” Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Bartlett Naylor.

Bartlett Naylor: It’s my privilege to be here thank you.

Ralph Nader: Thank you Bart. I was just informed by Bart, listeners, that he interviewed me back in 1976 at Harvard University. So, I’m going to pay you back now, Bart, with some tough questions.

Bartlett Naylor: Well, thank you.

Ralph Nader: Okay. Now you’re coming out with this book. It’s going to be online June 22 nd . But you also to my delight you’re going to come out and with a print version of this paperback, which you will tell people how they can get free, before we conclude our interview. But, let me ask you a few questions here. First of all, the obvious: this assertion that these banks, the mega banks are too big to fail, too big to jail, a lot of right wing people agree with you. A leading syndicated columnist, conservative George Will, has written several columns on this. And he sums up by saying, “If these big banks are too big to fail, they are too big to exist,” meaning, they should be broken up. But, let me ask you a sort of out of the way question. I just read in the Wall Street Journal that the banks, the big global banks are on shaky ground. There is too much all kinds of innovative competition coming up against them. And the implication of the article was, “Don’t invest in these bank stocks,” which are already low, because they’re not the future. Something like Silicon Valley is going to be the future. What’s your view of that? Is that too complacent a view about the declining influence of these giant banks who still have enormous influence in Washington D.C. and Wall Street?

Bartlett Naylor: You packed a lot into that question. You’ve asked if the banks are ready to blow up. You’ve asked if it’s a good investment for the investor. You’ve asked whether their political influence is waxing or waning. Let me try to take them in turn. One of the problems with answering the question of whether or not they’re going to blow up is that they are opaque. The J.P. Morgan annual report is probably 300 or 400 pages long and still fails to have mentioned the word “derivative” more than two or three times and certainly does not explain the nature of their 600,000 or 900,000 derivatives contracts. We knew one of them blew up about three years ago. That was even one of their sober bets, the London Whale. That’s just one of them. They have a whole bunch of other bets that they’re making with something like $400 billion worth of deposits that they haven’t recycled into actual loans. As to your second question: is it a good investment? Well I saw that the first part answers that. It’s tough to know. Certainly the stock prices for all of the megabanks are below what’s called book value. That means if you take all of the assets and sold them and paid off all the liabilities, you would actually have more money than the market capitalization. That is to say the market believes these banks are worth more broken up or liquidated. That’s not actually true for J.P. Morgan. They’re a little bit above book value. As to your third question: that’s a nice softball. There are three thousand bank lobbyists spending roughly $1.5 million per day lobbying. There’s about twelve people like me doing what I do. We’re outnumbered one hundred and fifty to one. John Paulson, the best paid hedge fund manager, gets in his best year got $5 billion. That’s $2.5 million per hour, $700 per second. So, if John Paulson in that good year were to just take one hour of pay off a day, he would triple the political spending on Washington. And of course why wouldn’t he? Why wouldn’t the banks spend whatever it takes to keep the rules such that they can have this wonderful pot of government taxpayer backed deposits so that they go off and gamble? Why wouldn’t they? Of course they would. So yeah, it is my view the banks have enormous power that is not waning.

Ralph Nader: What about the other part of my question Bart, the electronic competition, moving in, in all directions?

Bartlett Naylor: When you say Silicon Valley I thought you meant the future is with Elon Musk or Paypal or something like that. It is possible that what we’re seeing in nascent form today is going to be the way things work in twenty years. But I kind of think even J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs already view themselves as something quite different than George Bailey’s Bank in Bedford Falls, New York. I think they themselves are doing this. It’s cyber banking.

Ralph Nader: Do you think that Bitcoin is going to be a challenge? That’s the electronic currency that goes up and down.

Bartlett Naylor: Bitcoin has to get banned by the Federal Reserve, because it threatens monetary policy so I assume that if Bitcoin gets a little bit further along and the Feds will come out and abolish it.

Ralph Nader: Let us ask a question, probably you’ve never been asked, recently I’ve seen checks from Democracy Now , the progressive publisher Seven Stories Press , the pension fund by AFTRASAG , the actor’s union and other similar progressive groups. And the checks are written on the big banks. In other words, these progressive groups, who denounce the big banks as criminal enterprises, antitrust violations, breachers of fiduciary duty to their customers and to pension funds and mutual funds have their deposits in those banks, instead of the laborowned Amalgamated Bank or some community bank. And I’ve called them on that. And I said, “Why do you do this?” And I’ve never gotten an answer. Can you answer that question, Bart Naylor?

Bartlett Naylor: No I can’t. They shouldn’t do that. They should bank with community banks. Community banks offer the same services. It is a fact, unfortunately, that we do not consume our principals. We consume whatever is available and cheap and based on quality and so forth. When I was the head of investigation of the Seante Banking Committee, we were all worried about corporate raiding and busting up companies and disemploying people. And yet, the very people that were complaining the most: labor unions. It was their pension funds that were selling into the raider. Now, some of that was done out of ignorance. But some of that was done because they just one hand couldn’t control the other hand. But I’m not going to justify what Screen Actors Guild is doing. I can’t.

Ralph Nader: Let me tell you on their behalf what I think their explanation would be. And that is: these banks are too big to fail. So why not put your money into a bank that is so safe, because it has an implicit government guarantee instead of putting your money into a small community bank or a laborowned bank that won’t be bailed out by the Federal government? What about that as a rationale for these progressive groups?

Bartlett Naylor: It doesn’t make sense unless they’re putting more than $250,000 into this account, because as you know the FDIC makes you care less about whether the bank’s too big to fail. You’re going to get your money back up to $250,000. If they’re thinking that way, then they’re not thinking very clearly.

Ralph Nader: As you know the AFTRASAG Pension Fund is much more than a quarter of a million dollars. Democracy Now is more than that. I think it’s something to look into.

Bartlett Naylor: You’re saying the pension funds are managed or the financial adviser asked you okay, yeah that’s an issue.

Ralph Nader: Public Citizen puts its money where?

Bartlett Naylor: We have a 401k. And we’ve been caught with our pants down, because we were using a nonfiduciary as an adviser. But I think I – passively... my personal decision’s to buy passively managed index fund, Vanguard.

Ralph Nader: And Public Citizens Fund when they write checks to pay Public Citizen employees, what bank do they use?

Bartlett Naylor: I think Amalgamated.

Ralph Nader: That’s right, that’s a labor …

Bartlett Naylor: I actually don’t …

Ralph Nader: That’s a laborowned bank out of New York with a branch in Washington D.C. We use Amalgamated Bank. And there’s no waiting in line, because so few people patronize it in Washington. People should know better, including labor unions. This is a hot bed of international headquarters for labor unions. And while they do put some money in, they put most of their money into these giant banks like J.P. Morgan and Chase, Citigroup, banks that are vigorously antilabor union and banks that engage in rapacious practices all over the globe. Anyway, let’s get back to your forthcoming book. This is a preview, the first time I believe this book has been discussed on air. And the subtitle is, The Mega Banks Are Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail, and Too Big to Manage . Now, apart from not putting our business in these banks Bart Naylor, what are your recommendations here?

Bartlett Naylor: Very briefly and from 30,000 feet, the banks need to be broken up into much smaller pieces. I’m guesstimating about $300 billion is the level above which they would be considered too big to fail, if they did. They should be prudentially overseen with a belt and suspenders approach, whereby the capital provided by shareholders should be at least 20% of the financing of the company with only 80% coming from debt, either the passive or some type of corporate bonds. That is the metaphor is that’s the capital cushion it’s that part when the bank begins to falter it’s assets which are loans and those mortgages begin to default, you have a 20% buffer to go through before the bank is what’s known as insolvent, where the assets are worth no more than the liabilities. Their activities should be restricted. They should not be able to be gamble with money made cheap and abundant by FDIC insurance. That is to say we should return to GlassSteagall, where commercial banks just make loans. And it’s the investment banks that don’t have FDIC deposits that can go ahead and you know go ahead and gamble. With respect to a bank and bankers who commit crimes, they should go to the same place that shop lifters of 7Elevens go. It’s called prison. But the banks, all of the big banks committed massive crimes on a macroeconomic scale. And yet the grand total of those who have gone to jail for that cashrelated fraud is zero. When I was head of investigation of the Senate Banking Committee roughly one thousand Savings and Loan guys were sent to jail. This was the fraud committed in the late 1980s. As to management, it is clear that if you commit fraud, and yet you can’t identify who did it you’re not managing your bank very well if you’re committing this fraud, and you can’t stop it. DoddFrank as a little effort to have an exercise whereby if a bank fails, they can decide in one day where to sell everything and whether things can be retained or it’s called a living will. It’s using you know if your uncle dies, then you know “Who gets what.” The living will for J.P. Morgan is over 200,000 pages long. And this is not just some warranty snare of each one of those pages is going to have lots of financial information that itself is probably assumptions of reality. Well, that is unfathomable. And again I mention the London Whale. This is a case where there was one sizeable derivatives that, that went bad. That is, I mean it’s literally a bet. I don’t mean to be using inaccurate terms here. J.P. Morgan is either going to win or lose on that bet and in this the case it was losing badly. Well it was pointed out actually in the media that this was a losing bet. And when the CEO looked at it for several weeks he said, “Oh, this is a tempest in a teapot.” And then he looked at it for another couple of months and he said, “Oh my gosh, this is the most egregious mistake that I’ve ever made or that the bank has made.” And it actually then retained outside forensic accountants to look and see exactly what happened. And they actually missed the very most fundamental problem with this, which was subsequently revealed by Senator Levin’s subcommittee on investigations. It was supposed to be a hedge. A hedge is where you buy, you know, you buy one thing for fear that another thing is going to go the other way. You can go into that. Well, it was no hedge. It was a directional bet. If the CEO can’t even figure out something as simple as that after months of examination under the public eye, I think it’s too big to manage.

Ralph Nader: Well Bart, do you think they’re engaging right now in similar speculative activity, multitier derivatives. The five biggest banks now have a far bigger share of the banking market now than they did before the collapse of Wall Street, which they helped cause in 2008, 2009. Are they back at it again? Are they basically still playing around with other people’s money in risky toxic paper?

Bartlett Naylor: Yeah, as you can see that documented in the quarterly report that comes out of the Office of the Controller of the Currency. Are they violating the law? There’s a gender discrimination lawsuit that came out about two weeks ago, which says this one woman, who was the cohead of CLO trading that’s Collaterized Loan Obligation Trading she was suing because she was saying they paid 28% of her male cohead of the same department. You have to sort of brace yourself when I tell you what the pay was. She got $1.5 million whereas he got $5.6 million. It’s hard to really feel too sorry for her. I bring that up because her lawsuit is instructive, because, you know, you’re a lawyer. You know when you file a complaint, you’re supposed to be honest. She alleges massive violations by Bank of America of the Volker Rule, of market manipulation, of bilking customers, and not just the little guys. She alleges bilking Pimco, Blackrock and Citigroup. I don’t know the veracity of her complaint. But I don’t see any upside in her not telling the truth about this stuff. There are many other examples of why I believe the banks were still gambling with the taxpayerbacked money. But the short answer to your question, yes, I think they’re still doing this bad stuff.

Ralph Nader: Well Bart, the one thing I like about your forthcoming book on June 22 nd , it’s pub date, it has an appendix one which says, “What Leaders Say About GlassSteagall.” Now, for people who don’t know what GlassSteagall was: it was passed in the Depression years under Franklin Delano Roosevelt to separate commercial banking from investment banking. So commercial banking is what you use your bank for, checks, deposits, loans, home owners loans, business loans. And investment banking tends to be much more speculative. So, they drew the line between those two kinds of banking institutions and for over half a century developed a stability in a banking industry, which was ruptured by the Clinton Administration when they repealed GlassSteagall and refused to regulate derivatives. And you have what leaders say about GlassSteagall. And it’s amazing. You have right wing and liberal people. You have the former head of Citigroup, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives along with Bernie Sanders, the head of the AFLCIO Richard Trumpka basically saying, it’s a pretty good idea to separate those two banking functions. Because when you don’t, we get into serious trouble that collapses the economy, unemploys workers, jeopardizes pensions and all the rest of it. Did you do that deliberately to show that there is a left/right support for breaking up the big banks that are too big to fail?

Bartlett Naylor: Yes, sir. I actually said, anybody who’s a notable person I’m going to write it down. I actually have not found anybody to say, “You know the world is a better place because GlassSteagall was repealed.” The only argument I’ve heard is that crash didn’t happen because GlassSteagall was repealed, which is hardly an argument for why it should be repealed. Nobody’s told me why the world is a better place because of the 1999 GrammLeachBliley Financial Services Modernization Act. So yes, it was intentional. But I want to show that there is broad support for the restoration and very sort of fatuous reasons of why we should not restore GlassSteagall.

Ralph Nader: Bart, let me ask Steve Skrovan a question. Steve, you know Bart is a pretty clear speaker on banking issues. Yet, I can see our listener’s eyes glazing nonetheless. And it’s always been the problem that has protected the banking industry with their jargon, their lingo, their acronyms, the murkiness of what the Federal Reserve does, the depthless obscurity of monetary policy. What do you think, as a person who was one of the writers of popular television shows, which requires clarity of language and brevity. What do you think the problem is? Do you think that there’s still a problem of obscure lingo keeping people from plunging in as ordinary workers, consumers, citizens and engaging themselves in the kind of reforms that Bart and Public Citizen are proposing?

Steve Skrovan: Oh, absolutely. What did you say that the living will of J.P. Morgan was 200,000 pages? Was that right? Or 20,000 pages?

Bartlett Naylor: Yup. No, no. Two zerozero comma zerozerozero.

Steve Skrovan: Yeah, it’s meant to bury you. If they’re not burying you with the syllables in the words, they’re burying you with the number of pages.

Bartlett Naylor: Yeah, that’s a lot of pages.

Ralph Nader: And what’s the way out here? Because when you see testimony on Capitol Hill Bart, it’s the same problem. People’s eyes glaze over, and they’re sort of talking to a small number of people who understand this specialized language. Before we conclude, do you have any way out to simplify it the way sometimes in our history progressives have managed to do? I think the farmers in 1887, ‘88, ‘89 when they were talking about their subtreasury reform actually reduced it into pretty simple language about the availability of credit under this new proposal of theirs to farmers, who are trying to grow their crops and make a living. Can you very briefly just comment on the language problem?

Bartlett Naylor: Wall Street intentionally mystifies what it does with words that disguise what it’s really doing, the gambling and so forth. They use a big word called “derivative.” And they used prim terms when there’s really a lot of violence taking place. This book was meant to be understandable by Charles Chardonnay. My boss, your successor, wants me to do sort of a graphics version, because he thinks it’s still was a little too wonky. And I’m happy to do that other than I’m not exactly Mr. Graphics Guy. But yes, I think Wall Street screws us regularly and sometimes catastrophically. And it does so precisely because we don’t engage in its vocabulary. We know about other things as we should, foreign policy stuff and civil liberties. But Wall Street is just this kind of thing that gives you a headache when you try to understand it. And it’s my job to try to make America understand that they need to pay attention to Wall Street. And if I could just make it interesting, that would be two thirds of the battle.

Ralph Nader: And our high schools and colleges should teach a little bit more about banking. You know the old phrase, “Bankers rule the world.” And it’s not that much of an exaggeration. Thank you very much, Bart Naylor. Give our listeners your contact information. If they want to put in a request and so that on June 22, 2016 they can have a free copy of this paperback sent to them.

Bartlett Naylor: Yeah email toobig@citizen.org. And our website is citizen.org.

Ralph Nader: And it’s also going to be online for people, who don’t want to feel the pages between their fingers. Thank you very much, Bartlett Naylor, the banking expert for Public Citizen, a group I was very proud to start back in the early 1970s on who’s board Steve Skrovan serves pro bono.

Steve Skrovan: Full disclosure.

Bartlett Naylor: It’s been an honor. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

Ralph Nader: Thank you Bart. To be continued. Byebye now.

Steve Skrovan: We’ve been speaking to Bartlett Naylor, financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division. His book is entitled, Too Big: The Megabanks Are Too Big Too Fail, Too Big Too Jail and Too Big Manage . As always, we will link to it on the ralphnaderradiohour.com website. And you can go to citizen.org for that when it comes out on June 22 nd . That’s our show. I want to thank our guests again, Wenonah Hauter, author of Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment and also Bartlett Naylor from Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division and author of the book Too Big: The Megabanks Are Too Big Too Fail, Too Big Too Jail and Too Big Manage . If you’ve missed any of this as a radio broadcast, download this for free on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere fine podcasts are... well, given away for free. You can also go directly to ralphnaderradiohour.com. And that’s where you also find a transcript of this episode. For Ralph’s weekly blog go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mohkiber go to corporatecrimereporter.com. Remember to visit the country’s only law museum, the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut. Go to tortmuseum.org. 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. Join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. We’ll talk to you then, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much, thank our listeners. As usual spread the word. A listener told me the other day I met him at Constitution Hall and he said, how much he liked the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. And I asked him ”Why?” He says, because you give us things to do. You don’t just leave us hanging, having described the terrible injustice. Well keep doing things. That’s what ends up a functioning democracy.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

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Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 118: Phil Donahue, James Cullen
June 19, 2016

Ralph talks to legendary TV talk show host, Phil Donahue about his documentary “Body of War,” the moving story of the late Iraq war veteran Tomas Young. We also welcome the editor of the “Progressive Populist,” Jim Cullen.


Phil Donahue literally invented the modern daytime talk show. “The Phil Donahue Show” had a nearly thirty year run on American television that along the way garnered him twenty Emmy Awards. The show touched on the serious social and political issues of the day and was the first to include audience participation. In the early 2000s, Mr. Donahue hosted a similar show on MSNBC and was abruptly terminated shortly before the launch of the Iraq War. An internal MSNBC memo was leaked to the press stating that Donahue should be fired because he opposed the imminent invasion and that he would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” His documentary film on Iraq war veteran, Tomas Young, is entitled “Body of War.”


Jim Cullen, along with his brother Art, is the editor of The Progressive Populist, which reports from the heartland of America on issues of interest to workers, small-business owners and family farmers and ranchers. It serves as “The People’s Voice in a Corporate World.” The magazine publishes original and syndicated columns of progressive journalists and pundits and comes out twice a month.


Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with the man of the hour Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph. How are you today?

Ralph Nader: Good. We have a wonderful show today.

Steve Skrovan: Yes. I’m very excited about the show today. In the second half of the show, we will be talking to James Cullen, editor of the Progressive Populist Magazine which as it’s title might suggest is one of the leading voices in the progressive movement. Ralph has sung the magazine’s praises frequently in this program. As always, we will check in with the corporate crime reporter Russell Mokhiber, the Stephanie Plum of the corporate crime beat. But, first, we’re going to talk about war and the media with a man who is a legend of the television industry. Our first guest, Phil Donahue, literally invented the modern daytime talk show. “The Phil Donahue Show” had a nearly thirty year run on American television that along the way garnered him twenty Emmy awards. The show touched on the serous social and political issues of the day and was the first to include audience participation. And, if I’m not mistaken, our very own Ralph Nader holds the record for the most appearances on the “Donahue” program. A few years after that run ended, Mr. Donahue hosted a similar show in MSNBC and was abruptly terminated shortly before the launch of the Iraq war. An internal MSNBC memo was leaked to the press stating that Donahue should be fired, because he opposed the eminent invasion and that he would be “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.” Over the years, Mr. Donahue has produced and hosted many TV specials and codirected along with Ellen Spiro the feature documentary film “Body of War” which tells the story of Tomas Young, a disabled Iraq War veteran. The film effectively connects the politicians who voted for the war with the tragic human consequences of that decision. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Phil Donahue.

Phil Donahue: Thank you very much. Thank you, Steve.

Ralph Nader: Super welcome from me, Phil. I just want to add to what Steve says as you’ve heard before. I think you were the greatest enabler of the First Amendment right of free speech by all people in the 20th century. Nobody reached more people in your 6,000 shows to give first expression and repeated expression to womens’ rights, advocate civil rights, advocate to consumer, labor and war champions, environmental champions, the rights of a press monitories and the centers of a whole variety of causes. You did it in the framework of an entertainment show, which is a real demonstration of skill that your lesser successors today on daytime television haven’t yet mastered. Dissent is the mother of all assent. If we look back in our history, the dissenters, when they finally prevailed, became normal. And the blasphemy of yesterday becomes the normal standard of today. Particular pleasure to invite you, especially on one of your great interests, which is the life of Tomas Young, a five day soldier in Iraq before he was shot and paralyzed and came back to Walter Reade Army Hospital. You spent a long time doing this documentary, “Body of War” just about what happens when people like Tomas Young come back. You wrote the foreword to the new book called Tomas Young’s War by Mark Wilkerson, who spent eight years in the Army Infantry and Airborne Divisions and decided he wanted to bring this story of Tomas Young to print as you brought it to your documentary film, Body of War. And in your foreword, you said the following about the book Tomas Young’s War: “Brilliantly rendered. Amid the unpleasant realities of urinary tract infections, hollow bedsores, leaking urine bags, failed erections, a collapsing marriage and blinding loneliness, Wilkerson finds a story of love, hope and fierce loyalty. Before another Commander in Chief swaggers before the news cameras and declares ‘Bring it on’ I want him to read this book.” That’s from your foreword, Phil. Can you start describing how you came upon Tomas Young and how you were drawn in to the necessity of sharply personalizing the agonies of veterans returning from war and what they remember they were forced to do overseas?

Phil Donahue: Well, first things first, Ralph, it should be said that I never would have met Tomas Young had it not been for you. Tomas Young’s mother told you this is not a woman who knew you, she only knew of you like everybody else in the world. She wanted you to come and meet her son. I think she was very concerned about the treatment he was receiving, how much attention he was getting and so on. Those bedsores by the way, I think are the result of the absence of attention. Those were sores that Tomas’s inert body sustained as he lie motionless on the couch for example at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany and then on the airplane all the way to Washington and Walter Reade. I happened to be in conversation with you not long after that. You said to me, “A mother at Walter Reade wants to see me. Do you want to go?” And I thought, “Well, yes. I had never been to Walter Reade. So, off we went and there he was lying as I said, motionless on the bed, very whacked out on morphine. And as I stood next to the bed, his mother explained his injury to me. Tomas sustained an AK47 round that had come down from a rooftop as he drove in the back of an open topped truck down main street Sadr City. And the bullet entered his clavicle or shoulder area and exited T4 on his spine. Anatomists know where that is. It’s between the shoulder blades. So, Tomas immediately was paralyzed from the nipples down. This wasn’t from his belt down. It was from his chest. I don’t know, somehow one of the other Army guys in the back of the truck slung him over his shoulder and somehow got him to triage and stopped the bleeding. And Tomas miraculously survived. Tomas was left unable to cough. If you think about it, you have to have control of your abdominal muscles to cough, to expel air from your upper respiratory system. He couldn’t do that. Of course, he couldn’t walk. He did have his arms, and he had he could use his fingers …

Ralph Nader: And he could read.

Phil Donahue: Oh, yes. He could read. And he could watch television. Twentyfour year old, prime of life male, impotent, totally impotent. And I just couldn’t get over this devastating result of this injury. I had brought to this encounter a bewilderment as to how in the “land of the free” this could have been such a sanitized war. I mean, less than 5% of us made personal sacrifices to the socalled Iraq War. We’d never really had any awareness of the enormity of some of these injuries. We had women with their faces blown off. IEDs, you know Tomas used watch those wounded warrior shows where they played basketball and other things and walked with prostheses. That was not possible for him. I thought to myself, “Well, if you’re going to send America’s young men and women to war, show the pain, show the sacrifice. Don’t sanitize the war. And of course, Bush said, “You can’t take pictures of the flagdraped coffins.” And the whole press core said, “Okay.” Then one thing led to another, and I found myself in Kansas City at Tomas Young’s home where Marlo and I went and met him, she of course, meeting him for the first time. And I was just determined to do a movie about this. I figured while been I’ve been in TV all my life, why don’t I do something with the pictures here? And I called a woman in Texas whose name had been given to me by another progressive type. And I told them my story. I said, “I’m Phil Donahue.” And she said, “No, you’re not.” And I thought, “Well, great. She at least she recognizes me.” We met at the Kansas City airport and off we go meet Tomas. And I didn’t know what Tomas’ politics were. But when I walked in, I noticed on this coffee table were bumper stickers, one of which said, “Draft Republicans.” And I thought, “Well, now, what have we here?” And sure enough this is a warrior turned antiwarrior. I said, “Tomas, I want to do a story on what this euphemism means: ‘harm in harm’s way.’ What does that really mean? I think you are personification of that delicately worded – the language that we use to soften the pain of what we’ve sent young men and women to do. And I want to show ‘em what it really means, but I can’t do it without your permission.” He said, “I want to show that, too.” I said, “Okay, let’s go.” And off we went on what had become then an odyssey, really, a spiritual experience. Everybody who worked on that program, I had never none of us had ever been this close to a catastrophic injury before. This is really moved everybody.

Ralph Nader: That came out in “Body of War,” which I urge everybody to see, because it took Tomas Young to the US Senate, extremely memorable interactions with Senator Robert Byrd, who is the arch opponent of the criminal invasion of Iraq, along with twentytwo other senators. And Phil pointed out the roll call of the senators on whether they’re going to support the Bush/Cheney War. And that was really haunting. The exchange with Robert Byrd the senator, I think to me is a spectacular example of what a documentary can be like in terms of deep imprint on the viewers. You showed this all over the country didn’t you, Phil?

Phil Donahue: Yes. No distributor would take our film.

Ralph Nader: Why not?

Phil Donahue: Well, most Iraq docs just fell off the marquee. My film was not to a “take your girl to the movie” movie. It’s grim. And people were wobbly when they come out of our movie. I was determined not to make it tedious. It’s only an hour and twenty minutes long. Landmark Theaters agreed to roll us out as they call it. I was learning the lingo of the film industry and say went along there, I’ve never made a film before. By the way, it’s just grossly expensive. It’s really a shame. It shouldn’t be what it is. I gave checks to people I didn’t know what they did. But nevertheless, if I had to do it over and I would, because it became a chapter of my life. Well, when Landmark agreed to show the film, Ellen Spiro and I who was my partner on this project, the woman I called in Texas, who by the way, teaches film at the University of Texas in Austin – and Ellen and I would do a Q and A in Chicago and Berkeley and Palm Springs and other places in LA and the place would be jammed. I thought I was Fellini. And the next day there’d be nine people in the theater. First of all, I didn’t have the budget to really put in fullpage ads, which is as you know go in Hollywood rolls out of film. Major moneys are spent for promotion. But the film does have legs. I’ve been invited to play it at various peace groups around the country and have met a lot of nice people.

Ralph Nader: But one thing you did, Phil, in the film again that’s really memorable is: Tomas became an antiwar advocate and you showed him going to a church under great pain and speaking to a packed church about the Iraq war. You also showed this is another feature of the film “Body of War” you also showed how the speaking paragraphs that Bush/Cheney fed to their supporters in Congress were repeated again and again. It made them look like fools; and they were. They were just reading from a script saying “Yes, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Iraq is a threat to United States. Iraq is connected with AlQaeda,” all of the false statements and distortions of the Bush/Cheney jargon up pulling this country into this war from which there’s no end, and metastasized all over the Middle East, and further creating more and more problems for us, more and more trillions of dollars of expenditures. As you say, this “Body of War” has legs. There should be universities and community colleges showing it, because there are a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in these schools.

Phil Donahue: By the way the debate that you’ve mentioned that is part of our film woven throughout the story of Tomas Young on his return to the States the debate shows how shallow was this decision to go war. The White House Iraq Group WHIG was headed by Karl Rove. This is a brilliant execution of the politics of fear. They called certain members of the House and the Senate at various times to the White House, where Rove and oh… these are the people who name our wars they were like the advertising agency warriors, you know “Shock and Awe,” “Rolling Thunder.” It sounds like video games. And they would give them talking points. And these members of congress would go to floor of the House and the Senate and like obedient third graders, they read the talking points as you saw, Ralph, in our film: “A smoking gun will become a mushroom cloud.” And then, another senator or congressman would say, “A smoking gun can become a mushroom cloud.” It was unbelievable that this decision that has roiled the Middle East, has cost thousands and thousands of lives, millions and millions of refugees, uncounted numbers of injuries, homeless people, poverty, chaos, war, disease, unbelievable consequence was caused or provoked by a totally compliant Congress. Only twentythree senators voted, “No.” I think the House was like only a hundred and thirty something voted, “No.” The President took this nation by the ear and led it right into the sewer. I remain stunned at how easy it is to frighten the people and bring them to the bidding of the leaders, which Robert Byrd mentions in one of his many pleadings from the floor of the Senate. And when he says, “All you have to do is tell the people they’re being attacked and that those who disagree are traitors to the country…” and he finishes the statement and identifies the speaker. And it was Herman Goering of the Luftwaffe.

Ralph Nader: That’s such a memorable part of this film “Body of War.” Well what happened it could happen again too is that our barriers “stop, look and listen” to a rush to war by and above the law of presidency with a compliant congress and media are not there. We don’t have a deep enough democracy to basically say, “Hey, look have the framers said, no war without congress declaring it, which means the Congress would have to have hearings and decide whether they want to support a war of choice, which by definition is illegal under international law and the UN charter. So, this “Body of War” is extremely relevant today, listeners, because you are already hearing the drums of going into one country after another, not only drones but Special Forces, all the signs of empire flexing its muscles and preparing to repeat the lessons of history of all empires, which is that devour themselves domestically, eventually. Phil, can we talk a little bit about this book on Tomas Young’s War by Mark Wilkerson? Can you give some observations on that and Mark Wilkerson’s interest in this?

Phil Donahue: Yes. Well, Mark Wilkerson, not unlike Tomas Young himself by the way we should establish that after ten years paralyzed in bed, Tomas Young died a little over year ago. I knew the phone was going ring, and then it finally did. Tomas has joined the cemeteries filled in France and here in the United States and all over world of young men and women who answered the call and the nation of rahrah press that stood behind them and sent them off to war. Mark Wilkerson called me and said he was writing a book on Tomas and I said, “Great.” I thought anything we can do to promote this story, to get his word out, even posthumously, would be a tribute to him and to his family that suffered so much. I watched this mother watch her son die for over ten years. It’s just beyond awful. I saw his wife, who was like a size four lean over and I don’t know how she did it but she put his arms on her shoulders and he did he have hands after he suffered a pulmonary embolism by the way after we finished the film and then he lost his digital ability. His opposable thumb was no longer functional. Somehow, she went with just a big, a explosion of energy, she would get him from the wheelchair into the bed over to the bed, where she would drop him, and he would bounce like a rag doll. I saw that and I thought Rumsfeld should see this. Cheney should see this, Bush …

Ralph Nader: Donald Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense under Bush/Cheney.

Phil Donahue: You know, the “bring it on” boys don’t really see the pain. And they certainly worked very hard to make sure that nobody else saw it during this massive blunder of presidential chutzpah. And Wilkerson in his book, Tomas Young’s War, brings you all the details that you can't get into in a film about Tomas. His own upbringing so much reminds me of everybody’s story, really. I heard a Vietnam vet once say, “We didn’t go to Vietnam, because we loved America. We went to Vietnam because we wanted to get out of town.” Everything seems to conspire to war. No president gets a statue in a park for fixing healthcare. You only get a statue in a park for engaging in war. That’s why we have all those horses and swords. Children play on cannons in parks. We have become a warrior nation. We spend two billion dollars a day on defense.

Ralph Nader: Our homicides due to weapons are staggeringly higher than all other countries. There is a graph in The New York Times recently showing maybe ten, fifteen countries. You add ‘em all up, and they don’t come close to the number of fatalities in this country every year. We’ve been talking to Phil Donahue, the legendary talk show host, author, advocate, champion of the First Amendment. By the way, another aspect of Phil Donahue’s storied career is that he represented the best of understanding the First Amendment, which is you put on the air people who don’t like you, who criticize you, who denounce you. He had Reverend Jerry Falwell whose views are not exactly close to Phil Donahue’s on about thirty times. That’s when you know that he believes in the First Amendment, not just for people who agree with him, people who vigorously disagree with him. What do you think of the present situation, Phil, in media, politics? Give our listeners some of your observations, presidential elections and so on?

Phil Donahue: Oh dear, well, you flatter me, Ralph. You know David Halberstam said to me once a friend of yours Ralph who which whom you shared a childhood in Connecticut…

Ralph Nader: Yes, schoolboy chum.

Phil Donahue: Yeah. He said to me once, “You can't cover Henry and have dinner with Henry.” I thought about that a long time …

Ralph Nader: Meaning Henry Kissinger?

Phil Donahue: Yeah. Who was, by the way, excellent at – how would you say it manipulating the press. The reason that fraternization will get you the brig in the military is because it’s hard to shoot a guy after he shows you a picture of his kid. And similarly, it’s difficult to really bring your “AGame” which is what the press is all about, why we are protected by the first amendment. We are supposed to be the dog that keeps sniffing at the heels of the powerful. We are supposed to be the people who will engage in elegant behavior, like sticking our nose under the tent to see what the Grand Pubas are planning for us. It’s an indignity. It’s hard to do. And it becomes very difficult to do that if you’re sucking up to the people you’re covering. Your status is determined by the stature of the guests that you’re able to encourage to come to your show.

Ralph Nader: Not to mention, Phil, the media company you work for is making tons of money on the ratings by sensationalizing the presidential election with the help of many of the candidates.

Phil Donahue: That’s true. Media is – I’m sort of rambling here, but I want to get it in. I was a reporter in Adrian, Michigan a hundred and four years ago. I had a microphone that said it was the proverbial 250 watt radio station, WABJ Adrian, Michigan and I was a news director. I was the new director because I was the only person in the news department. I had an AP machine and a microphone …

Ralph Nader: You mean the Associated Press wire service.

Phil Donahue: Yeah. With the tickertape, you know this was back in the Middle Ages. I was born on 1935. All of my buddies from Notre Dame have just turned 80. And, don’t fuss. I have plenty of ties, Ralph. You don’t have to send me a gift. But it gives you an idea of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. It’s been an unbelievable life for all of us who lived this. Imagine same sex marriage, the things that have changed and shifted during our lifetime. I used to drive my children to the drugstore while they stood up on the right front seat of the car, standing. You’d get arrested for that today. Now, my grandchildren, I look in the backseat of my son’s car, and they looked like they’re going to the moon.

Ralph Nader: Phil, and very few people were the vanguard that led all these changes over the last sixty years. And they helped change public opinion. And once they had public opinion on their side, changes occurred, whether in the executive branches in the White House, in Congress, in corporations. That’s why it’s a real tragedy that great voices of history and achievement like yours are not on TV every day compared to what is on TV and radio. I hope some of the listeners will call some of these talk show hosts and say, why don’t they have Phil Donahue and Bill Moyers and Jim Hightower and Gloria Steinem on more often.

Phil Donahue: I agree. I think dissent is very difficult in this country. We have a media, which is rewarded by telling people what they want to hear. And that’s not our job. We’re not supposed to be popular. We’re not supposed to be extolled as wonderful people, who make us happy. We have to show the pain. We are obliged to say what we feel about the decisions of powerful people, like for example, a president who swaggers before the camera and says, “Bring it up.” Well, wait a minute, “Why should we bring it on? And to whom are we bringing it? And who said so?”

Ralph Nader: “And is it a lawful?”

Phil Donahue: Yeah, and right. We haven’t obeyed this Constitutional mandate that only Congress can declare war. I remember in my film Robert Byrd standing up and quoting James Madison, “It’s too much of a temptation for one man.” I mean, he would beg his colleagues, “Don’t rush this through.” And of course he lost 77 to 23. Washington is a place that almost obliges friendship with the powerful. It gets you promoted and enhances your stature as a person. I have to be careful here. When you’re talking about the press not everybody, not everything sucks. There are some wonderful, wonderful examples of people who had a lot more courage than I did, who were out front and saying some very unpopular things that they thought to be true. Many of those people, however, really did fall by the way side to never be seen again.

Ralph Nader: Then they get marginalized.

Phil Donahue: Very much so.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. Then they can't get any attention. Their crime is that they were right, right on the facts, right on the moral issue, right on the law. Once you told me back in 1996, Phil, we live in “a culture of decay.” And one of the signs of a culture of decay is that the people, who are right, and who were shown to be right are marginalized. And the people who are wrong get opeds in The New York Times and $50,000 speeches and consultantships, like the warmongers who brought us the Iraq quagmire and more, people like Paul Wolfowitz and Elliot Abrams and Dick Cheney and George W. Bush all cashing in now. We’re running out of time, Phil, but I want to say that Steve Skrovan soon is going to be reading an excerpt of the last letter of Tomas Young, March 18th, 2013. He wrote a personal letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as he put it, “a message from a dying veteran.” And it should have seared the conscience, if there was any, of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. But they never even acknowledged it, much less replied to it. And so Steve Skrovan is going to read an excerpt. Phil, we have to conclude. And I hope we can continue this discussion on many other issues in the near future. Thank you very much. Thank you for being a vibrant nourisher of democracy in America for decades.

Phil Donahue: Well, thank you, Ralph. Thank you. I’ve admired you then, admire you now. Nobody has been at it longer. Anybody can get out there on a weekend and wave their hands and jump up and down but to keep on keeping on like you have, I think that’s where the saints are made. And I admire you so much for the contribution you’ve made to America against a lot of odds. You never kissed a baby. You never pandered. And you’ve done so much for this country.

Ralph Nader: Well, thank you. I had a lucky choice of parent, as you know. And my boyhood hero was Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees who played 2,130 games without missing one. He taught me stamina. Thank you. Let’s continue this in the future, Phil.

Phil Donahue: Very good, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Bye now.

Phil Donahue: Byebye.

Steve Skrovan: We’ve been speaking with legendary broadcaster, Phil Donahue. The film is “Body of War.” When we come back, we will be speaking with the editor of The Progressive Populist, James Cullen. Now, let’s take a short break and check in with the Corporate Crime Reporter Russell Mokhiber. Russell?

Russell Mokhiber: From the National Press Building in Washington DC. This is your Corporate Crime Reporter Morning Minute for Wednesday June 15, 2016. I’m Russell Mokhiber. The global pharmaceutical sector is wide open to corruption abuse with both governments and companies failing to properly address corruption risks. That’s according to a new report from Transparency International. As of the beginning of 2016, one in ten corruption investigations by US authority involved pharmaceutical companies significantly higher than the banking sector. Despite the obvious risk, firms are entrusted with a large degree of autonomy without proper government oversight. The pharmaceutical sector has been largely unchecked for corruption, allowing it to develop into one that has allowed profits to be prioritized at the expense of patients’ health. For the Corporate Crime Reporter, I’m Russell Mokhiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you Russell. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. I’m Steve Skrovan along with Ralph Nader. Remember if you have missed any of our interview with Phil Donahue, be sure to download the program for free on iTunes or Stitcher and you can catch up there. As for now we’re going to turn our attention to another form of media, the print version. Now, when Ralph ran for president as a third party candidate for all of those election cycles, a big part of the reasoning was to keep a progressive agenda alive. The two major parties beholden to corporate cash had narrowed the spectrum of policy debates so much that ideas like single payer healthcare, raising the minimum wage, even climate change were off the table, until of course they were picked up this year by the Bernie Sanders campaign. The Progressive Populist is a newspaper that also keeps a progressive agenda alive. It reports from the heartland of America on issues of interest to workers, small business owners, and family farmers and ranchers. It serves as the quote “People’s Voice in a Corporate World.” The magazine publishes original and syndicated columns of progressive journalists and pundits, a number of whom have been guests on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, not least of which is our very own Ralph himself who is a frequent contributor. And with us today is the editor of the Progressive Populist, Mr. James Cullen. Welcome Mr. Cullen, to The Ralph Radio Hour.

James Cullen: Well, thank you. Good to see you.

Ralph Nader: Yes, welcome indeed, Jim. Whenever I’ve given a gift subscription of The Progressive Populist to people around the country, who are interested in public affairs, I think it’s fair to summarize their first reaction is “Wow.” And what they mean is that not only is The Progressive Populist an assembler of some of the finest progressive columns by well known people like Jim Hightower but by other people who aren’t so well known but are smart as can be in what they write but it’s a time saver. It’s a tremendous time saver for people who want to see what’s going on all kinds of fronts and issues affecting domestic and foreign affairs in the country. I thought it would be good to have Jim Cullen on. He, with he’s brother Art Cullen, I maybe stereotypically say, are from the prairies. They’re from Texas and Kansas. And it sort of recalls the old prairie populism at the end of the 19th century with the Cullen brothers leading the way. Jim, let me ask what brought you to start The Progressive Populist, which averages about twentyfour pages every two weeks.

James Cullen: Yeah. My brothers, Art, and also my older brother, John, started The Storm Lake Times in Storm Lake, Iowa in 1990 as a twiceweekly paper. And they were in competition with a chainowned weekly. Originally, they had hoped to buy the paper from the chain, but they weren’t interested in selling so they said “Well, let’s start our own paper.” And at that time I was the capital bureau reporter for The Beaumont Enterprise in Texas. So I was in Austin, Texas, and I got laid off from my job because of cut backs in the newspaper coverage of the state capital. I went to work for The Texas Observer, which is progressive populist magazine in Austin pretty well known in liberal circles in Texas anyway and worked there for about four years. In the meantime my brothers had gotten a press to print their newspaper. And they were trying to find some business that would do printing there that would actually pay their bills. So, we decided to start The Progressive Populist as a newspaper that would get it’s printing done at the Times and actually pay the bills on time. That’s one of the reasons we started The Populist. Another one reason was that was about the time that the Democratic Leadership Council was consolidating its hold on the Democratic Party and eliminating a lot of the old populist influences on the party. And growing up in the Midwest, there was a strong populist element to politics in Iowa and Nebraska and Kansas and Wisconsin. And Tom Harkin was one of our friends, who helped us get the paper started.

Ralph Nader: The senator from Iowa?

James Cullen: Yeah.

Ralph Nader: What years were those Jim?

James Cullen: We started the paper in ’95. November of ‘95 was our first issue. And you are one of the first people we approached to contribute to the paper, along with Jim Hightower and Molly Ivins at that time and a few others, who kind of epitomized The Progressive Populist approach. And at that time, a lot of the people we talked to when we said “We’re going to be The Progressive Populist they reared back at the word “populist,” because that had a conservative pitch at that time. People remembered George Wallace as being a populist, for example, and some of the more reactionary people in the South. But really, populism to our minds was a progressive movement back in the 1880’s to 1890’s and later got corrupted in the latter half of the 20th century to be more reactionary. Anyway, we were trying to install a little bit of democracy back in the Democratic Party and give a forum for people, who wanted to rehabilitate the good name of populism. And we got the paper started originally as a monthly in November of ’95. And then we switched to a twicemonthly publication schedule in 1999.

Ralph Nader: Are you all print now, or is anything on the Internet so people can support you?

James Cullen: Yeah. We have a website at populist.com. And we put some samples of our work out there, just probably about a quarter of the stories we put out there on the website, because we don’t want give it all away, because we do have to sell the paper. And that’s one of the problems that a lot of newspapers have had trying to figure out how to monetize the Internet. [Crosstalk]

Ralph Nader: Our listeners want to go Jim Cullen editor of The Progressive Populist. Our listeners want to go to your website populist.com. They can find out how to subscribe. They can subscribe for six months or one year, and they can get the details. Why don’t you give our listeners some idea of what kind of columns are in there?

James Cullen: We have introductory subscription for $18 per six months. And that’s eleven issues. And then we have some our writers columns are available on the website at populist.com. And you can also get a list of the other columnists who are published in the newspaper. And we update that after each issue is mailed out. And we also have a blog to publish some of our editorials and tables of contents and things like that. We do reach out to people, who live digitally. And we also put out an email edition, PDF format email edition of the paper.

Ralph Nader: You write an editorial in every issue. And there’s a letter to the editor’s column, is there not?

James Cullen: Oh yeah. There’s a lively letters to the editor page where people take exemption to what we and our columnists have written.

Ralph Nader: Jim, give the listeners some idea of the kind of columnists that are in some recent issues?

James Cullen: Well, our regular columnists include you and Ted Rall, Jim Hightower, Amy Goodman, Connie Schultz, Mary Sanchez and …

Ralph Nader: Jesse Jackson.

James Cullen: Yeah. Jesse Jackson has been one of our long time contributors. And they’re regular contributors. And then we also have some freelance writers that contribute occasionally. Hal Crowther is a good writer we have. He doesn’t write nearly often enough, but when he does he gives a ripsnorter. And we just try to raise hell when we can.

Ralph Nader: Some of the best columns are people, who most people never heard off from various places in the country.

James Cullen: Yeah. One of our columnists is Margo Ford Macmillen, who’s a farmer and an English teacher in Fulton, Missouri. And she writes about sustainable Ag issues. And she’s been doing that for years. Joan Ratsinas writes about health issues. She’s a social worker from Providence, Rhode Island. Sam Uretsky is a pharmacist in Long Island. And he writes about a lot of healthrelated as well as governmentrelated issues.

Ralph Nader: You have a former, famous columnist for the Des Moines Register writing for you.

James Cullen: Yeah. Don Kaul was one of my heroes growing up. He was an iconoclastic columnist for the Des Moines Register. Unfortunately, he recently retired for I think the third time. And this is may be his last time. He’s living in Michigan now. But, he’s a great writer.

Ralph Nader: Jim Cullen, how do you pick up new columnists? There’s a columnist who writes for the Winsted Journal in Connecticut, who is an expert on international law. Let’s say you like his columns. And he was former general counsel to the World Health Organization. Let’s say, you like his column. You just contact him and ask him?

James Cullen: Yeah. We contact them and first ask him if he’s syndicated, and if not, whether we can just reprint his columns. Then we can publish the columns. And I’m constantly looking for new columnists. And although there’s no lack of good columnists, we’re always looking for somebody who has a different point of view, particularly if they can give us a humorous stake on news. That’s always appealing. We try to broaden the mix and get people from all parts of the country not just New York and LA and Washington.

Ralph Nader: Jim Cullen, what if people wanted to have a discussion group about what’s in The Progressive Populist or a teacher in high school or community college or college. Do you have bulk rates? Can you send them an issue and volume for their class?

James Cullen: Sure. Yeah. We can give them a deal.

Ralph Nader: That’s good. Well, listen thank you very much Jim Cullen, you really made a contribution from the storied prairies of America with your brother Art in putting out this twice a month, twentyfour page newspaper or magazine called The Progressive Populist. You want to really get up to date on what’s going on. These are not just opinions, listeners. These are very factually based columnists, almost every subject you can imagine. Thank you very much Jim, and we all wish you good luck.

James Cullen: Well, thanks for your continued support and keep up the good work.

Ralph Nader: We will. Thank you again. Bye now.

James Cullen: Okay.

Steve Skrovan: We’ve been speaking with James Cullen, editor of The Progressive Populist. Go to populist.com for the online version and information about how you can get the twicemonthly print version. Well, Ralph it’s been a great show. We have time for a listener question.

Ralph Nader: Sure.

Steve Skrovan: Let’s do this. This comes from Dr. Gerry Paone. I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. And Dr. Paone says “I wish to move my savings from a large corporate bank to some place where my money is safe from the high risk investing that such institutions are prone to make. Please give me some choices as a consumer. I do not want to put my funds under a mattress.”

Ralph Nader: Well, you can go any community bank in your neighborhood and you’re savings are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000. You’re super safe up to 250, 000. If you have more than that, just open up another savings account in another community bank. The interest rate, unfortunately, all over the country is very low, whether it’s in a Vanguard money market or whether it’s in a big savings account bank, or whether it’s in a small bank. It’s less than one quarter of 1%, unless you buy a longerrange certificate of deposit, which may give you up to half to three quarters of 1%. But feel secure the FDIC created under the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Administration guarantees you up to $250,000 per bank.

Steve Skrovan: Well, thank you for that question Dr. Paone. And that’s our show. I want to once again thank our guests today, James Cullen of the Progressive Populist and Phil Donahue the pioneering television talk show host. His film is “Body of War.” If you wanted to attend the Breaking Through Power summit two weeks ago but could not make the trip to DC, now all you have to do is make the trip to your laptop computer and then in the privacy of your own home catch up on what you missed. You go the realnews.com and search Breaking Through Power, where they have posted many of the speakers who attended the conference. That’s therealnews.com. THEREALNEWS. com. Now, before we close I just want to take a moment here to let our listeners, who visit the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website know that our producer engineer webmaster and all around MVP Jimmy Lee Wirt had a medical emergency last week and is still in the hospital. That’s why you haven’t seen last week’s episode posted there or on your Facebook page. It’s on iTunes and Stitcher. You still get it there, but until Jimmy gets back or I can figure out how to do all that stuff certainly not as good as Jimmy would we appreciate your patience. He’s recovering at Cedars Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles. Any good thoughts you could send his way would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, I want to thank John Matthews for filling in to record and edit today’s show. We’re lucky to be in such good and experienced hands. And join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour when we will be welcoming economist attorney, author, and entrepreneur Michael Shuman, author of The Local Economy Solution. And we’ll also have Harvard professor Malcolm Sparrow, who’s going to talk to us about healthcare fraud. We’ll talk to you then Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much Steve and thank you listeners. I hope you watch “Body of War,” produced by Phil Donahue and read the book on Tomas Young’s War. It gets you to be very involved and critical of wars of aggression from the American empire

Steve Skrovan: Now, we end with the words of Tomas Young in his last letter. “I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice, but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.” Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation, but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:37 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 117: Robert Monks, Russell Mohkiber, Jackson Katz
June 19, 2016

Ralph talks to shareholder advocate, Robert Monks about how we are becoming more and more a corporate society. And author Jackson Katz talks about gender and politics in his very timely book Man Enough?:Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity.


Robert A. G. Monks is a pioneering shareholder activist and a corporate governance advisor. He has written extensively about shareholder rights and responsibilities. He is also an expert on pension and retirement plans. Mr. Monks was also a founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, now the leading corporate governance, consulting firm. His book Citizens Disunited: Passive Investors, Drone CEOs and the Corporate Capture of the American Dream is an indictment of corporate executives who divert shareholder assets to undermine democracy and enrich themselves. For his previous Ralph Nader Radio Hour interview on the harm of stock buybacks go to https://ralphnaderradiohour.com/robert- ... baradaran/


Jackson Katz has long been recognized as one of America’s leading anti-sexist male activists. In 1993, he founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. The multiracial, mixed-gender MVP Program is the first large-scale attempt to enlist high school, collegiate and professional athletes in the fight against rape and all forms of men’s violence against women. Today MVP is the most widely utilized gender violence prevention program in college athletics. His TED talk, “Violence Against Women Is A Men’s Issue,” has been viewed more than 2.5 million times. He is a filmmaker and author, whose most recent book is entitled Man Enough?: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity.


Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan. And my cohost David Feldman promises that he will be back next week.

Ralph Nader: You mean he threatens to be back next week, Steve.

Steve Skrovan: Yes, he threatened. I don’t know if we really should negotiate with hostage takers. But we are going to negotiate his release and have him come back. But we do have the man of the hour, whose voice you just heard there: Ralph Nader. And a little birdie told me, Ralph, that you are being inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. I guess what goes around comes around. It’s really amazing. This is a Hall of Fame started in the 1930’s by the auto companies. This is the first consumer advocate they have inducted. And it will be an interesting gathering in Detroit. I'm being given a few minutes to speak; and I'm going to use every one of them.

Steve Skrovan: I don’t doubt that. Now, there’s a quote from auto executive Robert Lutz, who at various times in his career worked for all three auto companies in the United States. And this was his quote. He said, “Unsafe At Any Speed had a seminal effect. I didn’t like the book, but there was definitely a role for government in auto safety.”

Ralph Nader: I think that’s the prevailing view now. And although they are having remarkable quality control problems and have recalled almost a 100 million cars in the last two or three years, the issue of safety is no longer taboo. They're advertising safety. They're promoting safety.

Steve Skrovan: Right. Well that’s quite an honor. I don’t think back in 1966 you would have said, “One day, I'm going to be in the Automotive Hall of Fame.”

Ralph Nader: Hardly.

Steve Skrovan: Well, we have a show to do today. And we’re going to be talking about manhood and masculinity today and what it means and how it relates to the upcoming presidential election. We’re going to be doing that in the second half of the show with author and activist Jackson Katz, who has written book entitled, Man Enough?: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity. I'm really looking forward to that. We also as always will check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mohkiber, the Officer Krupke of the corporate crime beat. But first, we’re going to talk about one of our favorite topics on this show: corporate accountability and the trend of publicly traded companies going private. To tell us what that all means is a returning guest. Robert A.G. Monks is a pioneering shareholder activist and corporate governance adviser. He has written extensively about shareholder rights and responsibilities. He’s an expert on pension and retirement plans. Mr. Monks was also a founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, now the leading corporate governance consulting firm. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio hour, Robert Monks.

Robert A.G. Monks: Thank you very much.

Ralph Nader: Indeed. We have a very important topic to discuss today for our listeners and that is something that came to my attention in the early 70s. I was reading, Robert, some scholarly journal article on public corporations and how much they have to reveal to the SEC, how much they have to be exposed to shareholder challenges. And at the end of the article the author said, “If this becomes too irritating to the bosses in charge of these corporations, they have the final way to resolve their dilemma. And that is they just go private.” They just buy the shares and they just go private. Well, I never forgot that, because what can you do as a consumer advocate for the rights of pension funds and mutual funds. Now, we have this article in Fortune Magazine, June 1st issued by Geoff Colvin called “Private Desires.” “More and more companies,” he says, “are foregoing the pressure of public markets for a friendlier and less scrutinized form of ownership. The amazing part of the story is how damn easy it is to go and stay private.” Bob Monks you’re arguably the leading shareholder advocate of our generation. I mean, you’ve gone to shareholder meetings of Exxon Mobil. You’ve challenge the CEO. You’ve been on boards of directors of major corporations. You’ve really done it all. Give me your early take on what this article is all about that there are big companies now that are private like the giant grain company, Cargill, out of Minnesota with tens of billions of dollars in sales, and a new company, Uber, that’s still private. What’s your take on this in terms of the interest of the public and the interest of the corporate bosses?

Robert A.G. Monks: I think the public is probably well served by having a variety of different modes of ownership. There are times when each one of the kinds of ownership is better. Right now, as Colvin’s article points out, the world is awash in capital. There are a wide variety of ways of financing. In general, the attractiveness of going public or the public alternative, it’s a way for people to liquidify their investment. Now, it isn’t the only way. I mean it may well be in the next forty, fifty years, you’ll be able to parallel what happened with Uber’s financing when they went to a national wealth fund and just directly dealt with them and got there the money they needed there. So, Uber didn’t go public. Except they have a partner now. It may be that people will be able to bail out of their investments in different ways. But, I had to think, Ralph, that over time, public ownership is always going to be very attractive, because there will always be times when the market values capital more highly in the form of a publicly traded security than any other way. And that this does provide a way for particularly executives to make liquid the wealth that they’ve accumulated in the company.

Ralph Nader: What the article points out, as you indicated, that there are trillions of dollars of capital by these big companies overseas or in here. They don’t know what to do with it. And they start buying back their shares, which you have indicated as a sure sign example of bad and unimaginative management, that they should use that money either to make new investments, to make acquisitions, to raise the salaries and wages of their workers like in Walmart. Let’s look at it from the point of view of the corporate executives at the top. What happens when they go private to their stock options and maneuvers that they're now engaging in their companies that are on the public stock exchanges?

Robert A.G. Monks: Well, clearly let me take as an example one of the companies that was listed in Colvin’s article. It’s Fidelity, which is a Boston based money management company; you know one or the two or three largest in the world that is privately owned by a family, the family plus the executives of the company. What they’ve been able to do is to retain the competitive loyalty of first class executives by not being at all ashamed to pay very large amounts of capital out of the company to redeem the interest of the various executives. So, they have the ability to sort of hand design the executive packages without any of the requirements that come in in a public market. So long as a company is genuinely longterm oriented as is Fidelity, where the commitment is that they want to keep this as a family company indefinitely. And in order to do so they know they have to keep and attract the best management. They are prepared to accumulate cash and use that cash and very generously pay people to leave.

Ralph Nader: What you’re saying is they're not foregoing huge riches by going private, that the executives of Bechtel, Cargill, Uber they can make out just as well as private companies. Is that what you’re saying?

Robert A.G. Monks: Yes, I am. In theory they should make out better. But human nature being what it is, they captured the process in the public companies. So they probably do better in the public companies than they should.

Ralph Nader: What’s interesting, the article in Fortune indicates that the trend and the opinion of these corporate bosses are all in the direction of moving private and buying up the shares and getting rid of the SEC requirements of disclosure and just moving private. And the article says, here are some of the reasons. I’m quoting from the article: “While the total number of U.S. companies continues to grow, the number that are traded on stock exchanges has plunged 45%, since peaking 20 years ago.” They’re basically saying that these new IPOs, these new companies that flowed out of places like Silicon Valley, they're holding off going public now more and more. Fortune had a survey of CEOs; and they asked them the question, “Do you agree or disagree with the following: it would be easier to manage my company if it were a private company rather than a public company,” and they said, “Though we only have preliminary results so far, 77% agreed with that statement.” How much of that has got to do with the activist giant shareholders like Carl Icahn? How much does that got to do with the expenses of complying with the SEC and with DoddFrank and with the Oxley Bill? Can you go a little more specific on all this, because the thrust of the article as I read it is, in the next ten or fifty years it’s going to go much more in the direction of public corporations becoming private.

Robert A.G. Monks: I think that certainly the amount of available capital suggests there would be many more alternatives than the traditional public and private. There will be these hybrid companies such as Uber that we have now. So there certainly will be a change. From the point of view of the management, Ralph, management clearly now is very much threatened by the existence of activist shareholders, who are holding them to account. In just a simple selfish sense they’d like to be removed from that. But that may be short sighted on their part, because in a private company the owners are basically, on the sort of KKR model, are far more demanding and far more affective in requiring accountability of managers. The point is, where does the genuine accountability exist? Now, I’d like to think in a very positive way about corporate management and think they really would like to have affective accountability. If that’s the case, a private company gives a better opportunity for genuine accountability.

Ralph Nader: A private company or public?

Robert A.G. Monks: Private company, because a private company has a few people, who have very large stakes. Henry Kravis gave a great speech about this about fifteen years ago. He began to speak about the difference between the failures of the private companies and the public companies. And the privately owned companies don’t fail because of governance failures. The public companies do. But the private companies fail, because they’re a bad idea or something of that kind. But the private companies you know the guys who were directors or private companies have a big stake in it. They essentially really pay attention to what's going on. It would appear as if this was an escape from accountability, but in fact it is a step toward potentially a far more productive accountability.

Ralph Nader: Well, this is interesting; because the usual argument for going public and staying public is that you can raise capital in the stock markets for investment. Well, now as you say, the corporations are drowning in trillions of dollars of capital. They don’t need that. They can borrow money, if they wish, at rock bottom interest cost, deduct the interest, and do what they would do, as if they did it in the old fashioned style and raised capital in the markets. But this raises an issue that’s very close to your work over the years. We’re talking to Robert Monks, shareholder advocate, lawyer, many splendored career. What happens to the mutual funds and the pension funds, who now own a majority of the shares of companies on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ? What happens to their trillions of dollars, if all these companies start going private?

Robert A.G. Monks: Well, certainly it's going to mean they're going to have to change the product they’re selling or else they're going to have to admit to a limited market place. They won't have as much product to put together to make up a whole variety of these indexed funds that are so popular. And they may have to find a way to include private companies in these indices and or the SEC may say, “Look, you have a ’40 Act company that allows up to say 20% of liquid investment.” So, I think there are provisions like that. I don’t remember what they are, but they might have to expand the kind of assets that they are allowed to take into this indexed fund.

Ralph Nader: So you mean, if our listeners, for example, have their money in Vanguard or Fidelity or the Teacher’s Retirement Fund, which now are invested in a whole variety of specialized mutual funds, growth, stability, high income, overseas, domestic, and then they breakdown in terms of medical specialty funds and energy funds. Are you saying that if more and more of these big companies go private for reasons that we've discussed and other reasons that are close to the interest of the corporate executives, that these funds will have to become like these private equity funds that are investing in these private corporations like Uber and Lyft and Air BnB?

Robert A.G. Monks: Yeah. They may have to, to an extent. Because of the great glory of the ’40 Act companies is that they provide instant liquidity. If your ultimate protection against mismanagement is selling, and you a net asset value that is generated every day, that means that the underlying assets have got to be liquid, because you can’t have instant liquidity for your shareholders, if what’s your holding onto was illiquid assets. I think, Ralph, that they’d have to take in some percentage and I believe there is some limit now as to what the percentage, but I forget exactly what it is but that would give them a certain amount of flexibility for a while. The thing that is quite intriguing is that Colvin mentions is, if we now have corporations issuing a zero percent bond.

Ralph Nader: Zero interest?

Robert A.G. Monks: Yeah.

Ralph Nader: Why would anybody want to buy a bond that’s zero interest?

Robert A.G. Monks: Exactly. I suppose it’s better than having to pay 1% to the Swiss government for leaving your money on deposit there. But, it’s hard to imagine how that’s a competitive investment. But again, this a reflection of what Colvin has said. There is a surplus of capital. There is more money than there are opportunities.

Ralph Nader: Yeah. What do you think in this business I mean this is all interrelated, of course. But, you have the Federal Reserve now, pursuing a very low interest strategy. And you have millions of people with hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of their small savings in community banks or in money market. And they’re getting one tenth of 1%. They no longer have that little cushion when you used to get 4%, 5%, 6% on their savings to pay for their expenses, their rent, their food. Why is it Federal Reserve playing along with this and in effect making the small saver pay the price?

Robert Monks: Well, I suppose it’s a trade off. It's been going on for what ten years now. And the trade off is that the Federal Reserve will make it virtually impossible for any company to be unable to borrow money. And the price of that is that the pension system will be bankrupted …

Ralph Nader: Explain that to our listeners.

Robert A.G. Monks: The pension system the classic Defined Benefit Plan, which is incidentally going out of existence, but they still exist for public employees is based on a calculation of putting in money today, then paying out a fixed amount on retirement. And it is based on the assumption that money that is in the fund will accumulate and grow until retirement at a certain percentage. But the rate of return now on debt securities is virtually nothing. And so what can they invest in? And is the level of risk of what they invest in appropriate for savings fund. So, we’ve changed utterly the dynamics in our economy between saver and a company management. Management gets cheap capital, but savers are unable to meaningfully provide for their own retirement.

Ralph Nader: Isn’t it true that the traditional pension plan you just described has an assumption as high as 9% return a year or 6% and they’re getting less than 1%?

Robert A.G. Monks: I remember when the General Motors’ Pension Fund had 10%, but that was many, many years ago. A 7.5% they have and it’s too high. It just doesn’t work. Can I go back to one underlying element that is as recently been on the news and that is management buyouts of companies? Forever and forever and forever it has been perfectly clear that management has an informational advantage of enormous proportions when it comes to valuing the company that they’re running. And that notwithstanding, we still have occasions where management is been able in a competitive market to buyout. And then just guess what? Five or ten years later they sell again for five or six times what they put into it. And that particular model really is pernicious. And the recent holding of the Delaware court I must say is very confusing. The Delaware court about week ago said that the amount which was bargained for and I have to say that Carl Icahn was on the other side of the bargain. So, it isn’t as if these people were powerless but that the amount that was paid by the manageracquirer was inadequate and that therefore people, who had voted against the transaction, were entitled to a significant additional amount of money. Turned out there weren’t very many of them. But I think that is a very important element in this discussion about going private, as there is really no way in which you can compensate for the asymmetry between the management’s leverage and knowledge and the outside buyer.

Ralph Nader: I think what Bob Monks is saying in addition, is that the management lowballs the value of their company that they want to buy for their own enrichment from the shareholder. If the company is worth $10 billion, the management says in effect, “Well, our information is just only worth seven billion.” And the shareholders, including the pension and mutual funds, they just don’t have that inside information. And that’s why the financial writer Ben Stein, who wrote for many years for Barron’s Financial Weekly, thinks that these kinds of management buyouts should be prohibited by law. What do you think of that, because this is an inherent selfenrichment process?

Robert A.G. Monks: I don’t think there’s any alternative to illegalizing them. I mean, all these came up years ago. And there was an SEC commissioner named Al Summers, who was a really distinguished man. And he put in a really comprehensive regulation in the Securities Exchange Act. And everybody goes through. Independent opinions and independent evaluations and all these clutter, but the reality as I said earlier, Ralph, the insider advantage is simply too great. And I think you simply have to say that this is something we won't permit.

Ralph Nader: What's the effect on the 401ks here, because as the traditional pension funds diminish, because they can't sustain themselves, and because companies are bargaining with unions in this direction anymore, and there are so few unions representing workers? So, more and more of the money in retirement is going to the 401Ks. Can you explain how this move going private by these public corporations will affect the 401Ks? And give me your view on 401Ks in a low interest environment, also.

Robert A.G. Monks: Well, we have a splendid example of the Obama Administration taking the leadership on trying to reestablish fiduciary standards in the marketplace. And the Department of Labor God bless them have come out with the regulation that ought to materially increase the virtues of 401Ks: and that is by cutting down on the administrative cost. It’s just extraordinary the level of undisclosed or poorly disclosed extra cost that reduce the amount that people have received. That’s a prospect for the better. But, the overall results of this system have been to enrich the service providers and to provide virtually no return to the beneficiaries.

Ralph Nader: And Jack Bogle, who founded Vanguard, and is one of the founders of the mutual fund movement, has calculated in many instances, it’ll cut your return over a period of thirty years by 50% these high fees.

Robert A.G. Monks: Right, there's no question that Jack is God in this. And he’s absolutely right. And he has starting from zero he’s gotten as big as his great rival, Fidelity, and even bigger simply by charging lower fees.

Ralph Nader: Yes, longer term view we’re talking with Robert Monks, shareholder advocate, author of books like Corpocracy and my classmate at Harvard Law School I might add. Ran for the Senate, was a high official in the Department of Labor on retirement funds. Give us the view: what is going to happen to all these pension funds and mutual funds and savers? What's going to happen with all these trends we’re talking about, going private, low rate of return under 1% looks like that’s going to stay with us for quite a while? What's going to happen to the American people’s massive trillions of dollars of retirement? What’s your projection over ten, twenty, thirty years?

Robert A.G. Monks: Well, I think that we have a disaster on our hands. And the disaster arises out of the virtual abolition of Defined Benefit Plans by big American companies.

Ralph Nader: Explain that to the listeners. Just define Defined Benefit Plan.

Robert A.G. Monks: In a Defined Benefit Plan, the company guarantees that the pension will be paid as a percentage of final pay to the beneficiary. That means that people have a real pension. They do not have any risk. If the company can't pay it, if it goes broke, there’s a thing called the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation that guarantees it. That pattern for many years provided the American middle class with an assured pension in real money. Starting with IBM, the managements of companies began claiming that Defined Benefit Pensions made them uncompetitive. And so starting with IBM, who was considered the best company in America at that time, everybody fell in line. And they stopped paying Defined Benefit virtually to all of the large American companies. So they inserted in place of it Defined Contribution Plans in which the risk is entirely on the beneficiary. So without anybody blinking, we’ve made the most massive transfer of wealth away from the beneficiary to the company management and of course ...

Ralph Nader: 401Ks right?

Robert A.G. Monks: Yeah. And in this same period of time when the companies said that they couldn’t afford to pay Defined Benefit plans, they increased the executive pay by 100%. It wasn’t a matter of being uncompetitive, it simply was a transfer of wealth from the pensions of the employees to the pocket books of the principal executives.

Ralph Nader: What do you think is going to be the reaction of the workers of America, union and non union to the prospect that whatever retirement funds they have are going to be manipulated, looted, dried up or in the best case scenario, receiving very little income under a low interest strategy of the Federal Reserve?

Robert A.G. Monks: I don’t know why we haven't had revolt in the streets already. I think it is because most people who are retiring now are still getting the benefits of the Defined Benefit Plans. But over the next ten years people will be retiring, they’re not going to get anything. And people haven’t really had to come to grips with the reality of that. But that as I said a minute ago that really is a source of terrible unfairness and attenuation of the gap between rich and poor in this country. We simply are not going to have pensions for retirees.

Ralph Nader: What a response to worker loyalty over the years; it's not bad enough that these corporations are abandoning America under this corporate managed, trade agreements and shipping jobs to Mexico and China and others, who don’t treat their workers as well. Now, we have the prospect of a very, very gloomy retirement for millions of Americans. You’ve always grappled with big questions, serious questions of power, serious questions of capital, the rights of labor, the fiduciary rights of mutual fund savers and pension fund investors. Let me ask you this question, in a presidential year: why it is that this massive multitrillion dollar issue of pension insecurity, pension looting, the discrimination against small savers, affecting tens of millions of Americans. Why isn’t that a major issue in the presidential campaign every four years?

Robert A.G. Monks: Well, so long as we have two political parties and they’re both are essentially captured by Wall Street, the level of discussion is going to be limited because and this was I think Bill Clinton discovered that Democrats could be elected forever, if they abandon their traditional constituencies and back the banks as Barack Obama has carried on. And the Republicans have always been a business party. So, those that have the power aren’t interested in raising these issues.

Ralph Nader: Bernie Sanders is to some degree.

Robert A.G. Monks: Bernie is speaking to the soul of what used to be a liberal party in America or a liberal movement and that’s why he has produced such incredible electoral results with virtually no chance. I mean, Ralph, you’ve been in his shoes many times. I mean just imagine generating those kind of responses …

Ralph Nader: It is amazing.

Robert A.G. Monks: … it's wonderful in a way. Except I’m afraid it’s just going to disappoint people again, because he doesn’t actually have any real power now.

Ralph Nader: Well, he does have one option, which I’ve recommended in an article I wrote that people can get on commondreams.org called the “Longer Range Rebound of Bernie Sanders” and that is: after the Democratic convention and he goes thorugh the ritual of supporting the nominee. He can lead a nonpartisan, civic mobilization all over the country, given his popularity, given his support by the younger generations on all these issues, including the ones we’ve just talked about.

Robert A.G. Monks: Yeah, that’s true. And I hope he has an appetite for that.

Ralph Nader: Massive rallies are at his beck and call now, because the alternative is his supporters are going to become very depressed and discouraged and withdrawn and cynical and staying home on Election Day. So, I think you’re right. He’s at that crossroads. And if he just goes the way people who come in second in nomination fights and just become sort of cliché –ish toadies for the nominees as they are trotted around the country at campaign stops. I don’t think that’s his personality. I don’t think he likes to do that. I don’t think he will do that. He needs to go civic. Fill that mall in Washington in the fall with a million people and then take it all over the country. What do you say?

Robert A.G. Monks: Here’s hoping. Here’s hoping. Because that this pension subject that we’re talking about it is the casualty of the surplus capital. And the surplus capital is in a way what finances the country. The reason why we have zero interest rate is with our level of debt, if we started having 2% interest rates or 3% interest rates, you know the game’s over. We do not have the available money, the available current income to pay a traditional level of interest in the national debt.

Ralph Nader: So, now the government has a conflict of interest with its own people you mean?

Robert A.G. Monks: Oh, surprise me some more. I mean what has happened is that that low interest rate is what keeps the game going. After that there is no allocable resources coming out of our tax system.

Ralph Nader: Well, we’ve reached the end of our time, Robert Monks. Why don’t you tell our listeners, which articles or books that you’ve written you’d like them to read?

Robert A.G. Monks: Well, I think the one that I like the best is a recent one called Citizens DisUnited. And it really is an effort to, in a very simpleminded sort of tenchapter way, introduce people to a number of the lies in the system, things that simply aren’t what people think they are. Then, finally to point out that the notion that corporations are people is an evil concept. It isn’t just wrong. It’s evil. And here is why. When you have government “of the people by the people for the people” you’re talking about human values. You’re talking about people who feel. You’re talking about people who aspire. Now, a corporation and corporation language is a profit maximization. The first thing you want to do on profit maximization is you want to put all the external cost of the company on to somebody else, hence no environmental consciousness. You have a competitive society rather than a cooperative society. The difference between a corporate dominated country and a human dominated country is total in terms of the impact of government on individual human beings. And we are now living in a corporate society. We are not a democracy in any sense of the word that accords with the dictionary definition.

Ralph Nader: Well listen, this has been a very valuable conversation, listeners. The book is Citizen DisUnited by Robert Monks. Before you stereotype people, dear listeners, Robert Monks came out of Harvard Law School. He was a successful corporate lawyer. He became a successful business lawyer. He started a shareholders’ information group that was extremely successful. He is an advocate of shareholders, namely not only individual shareholders but also mutual funds and pension funds. And look at his values, look at his analysis of the imbalance of power. Look at his sense of justice. So, this is what we have to do. We have to get to people in the country, who are willing to call it as it is, willing to call truth to power, willing to have some concerns for posterity, willing to subordinate giant business to our Constitution and not treat corporations like people and give ‘em all the rights that we have, not to mention the privileges and immunities that only corporations can have and we cannot. We have to continue this conversation again, Robert Monks, but thank you very much for coming on our show.

Robert A.G. Monks: Thank you Ralph very much. And bless you, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Stay in touch.

Robert A.G. Monks: Bye, bye.

Steve Skrovan: We've been talking with shareholder activist Robert Monks. Go to ragm.com for more on his work in corporate governance. That’s ragm.com. We will also link at ralphnaderradiohour.com. Now, let’s go to the National Press building in Washington D.C. and hear from Corporate Crime Reporter. Russell Mohkiber. Russell?

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press Building in Washington D.C., this is your corporate crime reporter morning minute for Thursday June 9, 2016. I'm Russell Mohkiber. Among all the rivers of money that have flowed to the Clinton family, one seems to raise the biggest national security questions of all: the stream of cash that came from twenty foreign governments who relied on weapons export approvals from Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Federal Law designates the Secretary of State as responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales of arms and military hardware and services to foreign countries. In practice, that means that Clinton was charged with rejecting or approving weapons deals. And it when it came to the Clinton Foundation donors, Hillary Clinton’s State Department did a whole lot of approving. That’s according to a report from David Sirota. While Clinton was Secretary of State her Department, approved $165 billion worth of commercial arm sales to Clinton Foundation donors. For the corporate crime reporter, I'm Russell Mohkiber.

Steve Skrovan: Thank you, Russell. This has been called an historic week in American history with Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman to be nominated by one of the two major parties for President of the United States. And as a country, I’d say we’re a little late to this party. Many other countries around the world have already had female heads of state. So, what role does the concept of masculinity play in not only getting elected President of the United States, but how does it also influence one’s governing style? And to talk about this is author and activist Jackson Katz, who has long been recognized as one of America’s leading antisexist male activists. In 1993 he founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, MVP at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. The multi racial mix gender MVP program is the first large scale attempt to enlist high school, collegiate and professional athletes in the fight against rape and all forms of men’s violence against women. Today, MVP is the most widely utilized gender violence prevention program in college athletics. His TED Talk, “Violence Against Women Is A Men’s Issue” has been viewed more than 2.5 million times. He is a filmmaker and author, whose his most recent book is entitled, Man Enough?: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Jackson Katz.

Jackson Katz: Thank you, very much.

Ralph Nader: Yes, indeed, welcome Jackson Katz. I have to start with a personal story. Some months ago, I commented about Hillary being so hawkish. I was aware of her position against the Vietnam War when she graduated from Wellesley, Yale Law School. And she began to transform herself. So when she became Secretary of State, she was more hawkish than the Secretary of Defense, pushing to topple the regime in Libya without considering the chaotic disastrous consequences spilling into parts of Africa after the toppling of the dictator. And that was against the advice of Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. So, I made a comment that I think that she’s been overcompensating for a stereotype of her gender, meaning that women are viewed as soft when it comes to war and military preparedness. And that in order to counterpart her alpha white males, who are running the military industrial complex in the Pentagon, she has to become even more aggressive. And I was denounced roundly by the women on “The View” program you know that television program “The View” in a very politically correct manner, which I thought was factdeprived. And I wanted equal time. I wanted to go on the show. And they never bothered to even answer my request. What do you think of that? You think she is overcompensating? Because she scares some of the generals.

Jackson Katz: Well, it’s interesting. I appreciate the sort of sensitive nature of a man yourself Ralph or myself or other men critiquing a woman’s, a political woman’s leadership decisions. But I'm in general agreement with your point. I think women have a categorical disadvantage when they’re wielding powers, especially at these levels, which are it’s basically unprecedented the level that Hillary Clinton has risen to is now unprecedented. But women exercising power and presuming to be “Commander in Chief” have a certain burden. Because there's this assumption that women aren’t strong enough, and women aren’t strong enough leaders in that, in a more traditional sense. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to think that there is some overcompensation to prove you can play with the big boys to use a colloquial expression. I do think of course women would want to push back against that stereotype or that characterization, because they don’t want to be seen as gendered in a way that disadvantages them. They want to be seen as a leader, who can competently exercise the power of the office rather than a woman doing it. And so there’s often a pushback against even the very mention of gendered characteristics.

Ralph Nader: Well, historically women have been in the leadership of grassroots peace advocacy. That’s no secret. It continues to this day. You look at the vigils on the village green all over the country, and they are predominantly women, which I think is a credit to that gender. Take Bill Clinton. Because he was a draft avoider some would say he was a “draft evader” during the Vietnam War even though he opposed the Vietnam War. He allowed his friends to go and fight there when he became President he was on the defensive. And he allowed the Pentagon budget to grow. And he never criticized unnecessary, expensive weapons systems. And he was aggressive in terms of the use of military power, very often abroad and contrary to Constitutional and international law. Why? Because he didn’t want to be accused by the militarists inside and outside his government of being weak on defense, and “Yeah, you didn’t even want to go. You never served in the military.” So, both genders have these kinds of stereotypes. But let’s go to your book Man Enough which is enormously current now Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity. Give us your thesis here, and how it’s likely a play out in the next four months or five months to the election.

Jackson Katz: Sure. I’ll give you my thesis, but just to respond quickly to your point about Bill Clinton, a pressure on Bill Clinton to prove his manhood. A major part of the thesis of my book Man Enough is that presidential campaigns and the presidency itself has always been a masculine institution. The contest for the presidency have always been about gender, but the gender has been men and therefore invisible. So, it takes a woman running for president for us to talk explicitly about gender as the key factor. Similarly with race. Until Barrack Obama ran or got the Democratic nomination in 2008, race, in my estimation, has always been a major factor in presidential politics. But because the race was whiteness, it was therefore invisible and not remarked upon until a man of color made it visible. So, I think what’s happening in this campaign is that it’s becoming visible. Part of the thesis of my book Man Enough is that Hillary Clinton her candidacy obviously makes gender visible, because she was on her way or she is on her way to becoming the first women president of the United States. But Donald Trump when he announced and people took his candidacy seriously, and he started gaining political strength and winning primaries Donald Trump made gender visible in a way that was incredible, because the gender that he was making visible was men, in other words his manhood. He’s playing the “man card.” He got there was a lot of media commentary a few weeks ago when he said that Hillary Clinton was playing the “woman card.” My argument is that of course Donald Trump is playing the “man card,” because that’s an incredibly important part of his political strength is his pugilistic effect and his aggressive articulation of an angry white man, who’s going to take charge. And if you listen to his supporters and the people who admire him, so often what comes out of their mouth literally the first line in terms of why they support him or why they admire him is because he’s “tough.” He’s “not politically correct.” He’s a “man of action.” He’ll “get things done.” It’s all about his manhood, not his policy prescriptions. It’s about sort of attitude that he has.

Ralph Nader: Why would he take this risk in terms of alienating over 50% of the vote, which are women? Basically why would he say something like this? You recall as you said a few weeks ago you said, “If Hillary Clinton wasn’t a woman, she wouldn’t get 5% of the vote.” Why would he want to eliminate the prospects of him getting elected by alienating what the polls now show are anywhere between 2/3 or ¾ of the women vote?

Jackson Katz: Well I don’t think he’s a traditional political calculator. I think he’s an unbelievably in a sense everybody’s unique but he’s an incredibly unique candidate for political office. He’s a reality TV sensibility. He knows how to build markets. He knows how to build audience. I don’t think he’s making these rational political calculations. Rationally speaking, you’re absolutely right. Why would you possibly want to offend women, who make up 53% of the electorate? If 75% of women have a highly negative and unfavorable opinion of him, the math just doesn’t add up. But I don’t think that’s who he is. I think who he is he’s succeeded to the extent that he has in becoming a celebrity, a wealthy man beyond belief, and a bit of a cartoon character, he succeeded at it doing it his way. He’s been validated throughout these primaries, winning one after the other, attacking by the way the masculinity of his fellow Republicans and therefore undermining their political viability. One step after the other he’s been successful. And so why would he stop?

Ralph Nader: Well, let’s test your thesis in an admiring review of Jackson Katz’ book Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity by Kirkus Reviews. They have this statement regarding Richard Nixon’s landslide victory over Democratic Senator George McGovern in 1972. This is something I’ve never been able to understand. They painted George McGovern, who went on numerous bombing missions over Nazi Germany if you want talk about dangerous missions as a effeminate as effete, as weak on defense. And here is George McGovern, the champion of the working man as well as women, strong labor standards, high minimum wage, strong Social Security, advancing pension rights, occupational safety. He had it all. How in the world did Richard Nixon tip that scale and in effect feminize George McGovern, which is what he did with some of his epithets? You want to mention some of the epithets of Nixon against McGovern? How did this all happen? How did this tough George McGovern who went through World War II in a much more risky way than dear Richard Nixon how did he tip the balance so massively against this man with the great progressive record and a seasoned Senator from South Dakota?

Jackson Katz: Well, you’re honing in one of the key events, I think, in modern political history, which by the way has direct implications for what you said about Bill Clinton’s wanting to be seen as tough. Because since McGovern was beaten in fortynine states in 1972, Democrats at the national level have been fearful of being called “soft” or “wimps” or unable to defend the country effectively. All of that’s rhetoric and it’s propaganda, but it’s been a highly effective. What Nixon did he figured out a way to bring in the George Wallace constituency, because Wallace had attracted a certain white downwardly mobile, sort of working class electorate in the 1968 election. What Richard Nixon realized was, he couldn’t offer working class and lower middle class white people and especially men he couldn’t offer them material benefits like increased wages or those kinds of material benefits that will support the labor union. He could offer them cultural recognition. I talked about in Man Enough how, for example the hardhat riot in 1970 after the invasion of Cambodia: the hard hat riots, where a group of construction workers essentially attacked a group of antiwar protesters. That event became emblematic of this strategy, which is to say he was going to position the Republican Party, he meaning Richard Nixon as the party of real men, real traditional American working people and white of course white men in that context. That’s important to say because the Democratic Part, because of the Civil Rights Acts and the Civil Rights Movement had been increasingly been identified nationally as the party of Civil Rights. Richard Nixon was going to be bringing these white men into the Republican Party because of the Republican Party was the party of traditional values of men’s continued power, of patriotism, of more traditional values in that way. To this day, the way that rightwing propaganda works and ontalk radio and other forms of media, is to present the Democratic Party as the party of cultural snobs and elitists, who don’t care about average folks. But again, they never talk about the economic issues. They always talk about the cultural issues like the newspapers that you read. Or the distain “liberals” and liberal elites have for religious beliefs of the average American. It’s all about the cultural positioning. My argument in Man Enough is that this is a very gendered construction, which is to say the cultural elites are gendered as feminized. The men are feminized, and in contrast with the hardworking average American guy, the real men who is of course going to vote Republican. As I say in Man Enough, George McGovern only won one in five, the votes of one in five adult white men. Meanwhile again he won the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War Two, he was clearly on the side of working people. And he had the credentials to prove it, but that doesn’t matter. These facts don’t matter. Like you say, facts are not the issue here. What the issue is propaganda and image and the selling of that in and through media.

Ralph Nader: Well, you see women are vulnerable to this factor. It was pointed out by a professor of linguistics at Berkeley again and again in his books on the use of language and politics and imagery. He says that the Republicans represent in their propaganda the father figure. They represent the father figure, who reassures his children that things are going to be all right. They’re going to be protected. They’re going to be defended against crime in the streets, against foreign attackers et cetera. The Democrat’s image is of a nurturer, the mother image. He argues that that is bringing not only men vote to the polls for the Republicans, but it affects women as well, the reassuring father figure. Before we conclude, what do you think of that? And tell our readers what they should do about all of this? What do you think the voters should do about all of this who read your book?

Jackson Katz: Okay. Well, thank you. And again I really appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with you, Ralph. That was George Lakoff you’re referencing a …

Ralph Nader: That’s right yeah.

Jackson Katz: … Berkeley linguist. And I agree with it. There is a lot to that, which is to say the Republican Party has presented itself as the father party, the manly party. And they’ve been able to, in the popular discourse, feminize the Democratic Party and ridicule the manhood of Democratic men, and progressive men more generally. One of things, for example, that Bernie Sanders’ campaign has done is in a sense and please bear with me on this in a sense remasculinized a certain kind of white masculinity. Because Bernie Sanders, the energy that he brings, the anger, the righteous anger about the power of the billionaires and the income inequality, he’s not a cautious corporate centrist, which the Democratic Party has been putting up for the last forty years. He’s really aggressive in his style and in the things that he says. This isn’t just about style, it’s also about beliefs and ideology. A lot of young especially young white men can resonate with that in a very powerful way. There’s a gendered aspect to Bernie Sanders’ appeal quite frankly. By the way, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of talk radio and Fox News in shaping this discourse, because so many guys watch Fox and so many guys listen to and women but much more men, white men in particular listen to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. These guys don’t just critique Obama or progressive politics in a general sense. They attack the masculinity of men and ridicule the women as well. But they attack the masculinity of men.

Ralph Nader: I urge my listeners to listen to people like Savage, Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin, because they never do. And when you do and these people are using our public airways free by the way which is why I have accused Rush Limbaugh being a corporate welfare king you cannot believe the nastiness, the violent rhetoric, the lies that are used against named people with no rebuttal. Aren’t you shocked by that?

Jackson Katz: Absolutely. But every single day for three hours. Limbaugh’s on for three hours. I tell people if you want to understand the Donald Trump phenomenon, listen to Howie Carr in Boston. I’m from Boston, I live in California, but I’m a Bostonian. Listen to Howie Carr who’s the top rated talk radio host in New England. And he’s also a columnist for the Boston Herald. He’s on daily, every single day if you want to listen to and hear the level of open racism and open anger and aggression and open dismissal and disdain for Democratic men in particular. Of course, he’s sexist. And he also discards and ridicules Democratic and progressive women like it Elizabeth Warren, for example. But, if you listen to the gendered nature of his attacks against men, you’ll see a lot of why Donald Trump has found a following in this campaign. What do I think people should do about this? We have to make this visible. In other words, talking about it is part of that process. Because what I think what the Republicans have been successful at doing is manipulating huge numbers of white men, who you would think would have a natural affinity for more progressive politics. But, they haven’t been doing that. And the part what I talk about in Man Enough is how people like Thomas Frank and other theorists and other writers have been trying out to figure out why do so many working people vote against their economic interest. My argument is it it’s not just about the cultural wedge issues like abortion or gay marriage. Those are important and by the way those are significantly gendered issues themselves, because we can't talk about abortion or gay marriage without talking about gender and sexuality, because they are centrally about gender and sexuality. But my argument is that even a lot of these theorists on the left have missed is this gender layer of the appeal to working a class and lower middle class men, and especially white men about issues like their manhood and their cultural affinity with a certain kind of identity. Again Ralph, we can't overlook that over the past forty plus years, the various progressive social movements whether it’s the civil rights movements, the antiwar movement and then of course the women’s movement and the gay and lesbian movements and the environmental movement these are all challenges to this centrality of white male authority. You would think that there's going to be push back, when you have movements that are challenging on a very fundamental level established power, whether its ideological, cultural or political power. There's going to be a push back. And so part of what we’re talking about is this push back. Climate change. Can I just say another issue that never gets talked about as a gender issue is climate change? Who is the center of climate change denial in the world? Its white conservative men, not people, not white people. White conservative men who are not just defending an economic order, they're also defending a certain sense that white men are the, like we’re going to solve the problems of, that is caused by technology with technology. The environmental movement if you look at some of the rhetoric that the right has used against the environmental movement over the past forty or fifty years. It’s been attacking the environmental movement as “tree huggers,” as “soft,” as “wimpy” contrasted with the oil, the extraction industries, the technology, the engineering, the real men who are really making things work.

Ralph Nader: Jackson Katz, if I had a suggestion about your book, if you put out a new edition, pay more attention to the role of corporations here. Let me give you an example. Corporations in their advertisements reflect a lot of the things that you’ve been criticizing. It’s extremely aggressive. It’s extremely masculine, extremely sexist in many ways in the products that they advertise. But more important even is that they're the ones whose advertising dollars support the Rush Limbaughs, the Hannitys, the Levins, the Savages, and other people like Howie Carr. The reason why talk radio is overwhelmingly dominated by right wing, corporatist, broadcasters is that corporations advertise, but government doesn’t. And citizen movements don't. They’ve taken over the public airwaves, which was supposed to adhere to a standard set in 1934 by the ‘34 communications law of respecting, “the public interest convenience and necessity.” And they’ve thrown that completely out the window. There's no more Fairness Doctrine, no more right of reply. But more to the point, there are very few nationwide progressive radio hosts, radio talk hosts on radio. This day after day you point out is facilitated by these corporations who profit from it. So, I think they ought to be cranked in here in any discussion of race and gender, et cetera. But let’s not forget, this is a corporate dominated culture. And they have many ways directly and indirectly to insinuate themselves in furthering the worst stereotypes. But when the citizen groups become really powerful, then the corporations adjust, because they have no principles. It’s total expediency. That’s why you have to speak power citizen power to corporate power.

Jackson Katz: That was well said, and I agree with you 100%. In summary, the more we openly talk about this and openly say that being a strong person, being a progressive person, who believes in the basic concepts of social justice and equality and fairness is not “soft.” It’s not “wimpy.” It’s actually strong leadership in the 21st Century. We need to counteract this gendered rhetoric in ways that are equally forceful and strong. For example, I think one of the things that Hillary Clinton has begun to do, is take on Donald Trump directly. Elizabeth Warren obviously showed the way in a certain sense. You take ‘em on directly, because you have to show that you're not going to back down. You're going to be strong in a defense of progressive principles. And you know, people can obviously critique Hillary Clinton from the left and we will continue to do. I appreciate that. But standing strong for principle rather than bending and bowing and saying “We don't want to be accused of being wimpy, so therefore, we’re going to pursue these policies.” Mass incarceration is another example. The idea that you’re going to be soft on crime if you don't vote for building new prisons and harsher sentencing is somehow you're going to be shown to be soft on crime. That shaped the whole generation of Democratic Party response to criminal justice issues.

Ralph Nader: But fortunately, that’s losing ground. We have now a left/right alliance forming to reduce these crazy sentences for small possession of marijuana and to stop building private prisons. So, I think that’s going to be a good turnaround left/right supported. We've been talking with Jackson Katz, who knows the power of language. And I must say, Jackson, at our mobilization at Constitutional Hall a few days ago, we had a whole day on waging peace over waging war with a lot of veterans and others speaking. And I opened it by saying, “Peace is powerful. War is weak.” And that’s what Jackson

Katz: Right on.

Ralph Nader: …We’ve got to really turn the language around on that.

Jackson Katz: Right on.

Ralph Nader: So the book is Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity by Jackson Katz, just published. And it is published by a progressive up and coming publisher, Interlink, out of Massachusetts. Congratulations on the book, and I hope we’ll get a terrific response in the coming weeks.

Jackson Katz: Thank you very much, Ralph. I really appreciate it, and all of your work over the years. Thank you very much.

Robert Monks: Your welcome. Jackson Katz.

Steve Skrovan: That’s our show I want to thank our guests today Robert Monks who spoke to us about corporate accountability and author, activist Jackson Katz, author of Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity. We will link to all of the relevant titles and organizations on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour website. A transcript of this episode will be posted on ralphnaderradiohour.com. For Ralph’s weekly blog go to nader.org. For more for from Russell Mohkiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com. Remember to visit the country’s only law museum, the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut. Go to tortmuseum.org. 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. Join us next week. Talk to you then, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Spread the word. We’re on radio stations from Alaska to Bridgeport, Connecticut. And we need to have more radio stations pick up this show. Thank you very much, listeners.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:45 am

October 8, 2016

For the first time in a public forum two titans of the progressive movement in conversation: Ralph spends the full hour with Noam Chomsky talking about censorship, nuclear war, citizen activism, ISIS, the Israeli/Palestinian question and much, much more!


Noam Chomsky is a political theorist and activist, and institute professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Along with his pioneering work in linguistics, Professor Chomsky is a critic of both American foreign policy and global capitalism. He is one of the most frequently cited scholars in history and is the author of over one hundred books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics and mass media, including “Manufacturing Consent,” along with Edward Herman, which was also made into a documentary film of the same name. His most recent works are a collection of commentary on various socio-political topics entitled Because We Say So and his updated critique of American empire entitled Who Rules the World?
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:46 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 135: The Politics of Technology, Hillary’s Wikileaks
October 15, 2016


Ralph talks to author Doug Hill, author of Not So Fast: Thinking Twice About Technology about, among other things, whether people like Elon Musk and Mark Andreeson actually believe in their grand techno-visions or are just seeking publicity for their businesses. Plus, Ralph breaks down the second Presidential debate, and we discuss the Wikileaks revelations of Hillary Clinton’s closed door speeches to corporate America.
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Re: Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Postby admin » Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:05 am

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 114: Molly Sinclair McCartney, David Dayen
May 22, 2016

Ralph welcomes journalists Molly Sinclair McCartney, who tells us exactly which vested interests keep us in a state of perpetual war, and David Dayen, who tells us the incredible story of how three ordinary citizens blew the lid off of the largest consumer crime in American history.


Molly Sinclair McCartney is a journalist with more than thirty years as a reporter at five different newspapers, including ten years at the Miami Herald and nearly fifteen years at the Washington Post. In 2012, Ms. Sinclair McCartney was appointed a Woodrow Wilson Public Scholar in Washington DC to do the research and interviews needed to finish the book started by her late husband, noted national security reporter, James McCartney. It’s entitled America’s War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts.


David Dayen is a contributing writer to Salon.com and The Intercept, and a weekly columnist for The New Republic and The Fiscal Times. He is the the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, which was the winner of the Ida and Studs Terkel Prize.


Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan along with the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. How is the Breaking Through Power conference shaping Ralph?

Ralph Nader: It's shaping up. People are coming from around the country to make presentations. No one's ever put together a larger number of accomplish citizen advocacy groups on more issues and redirections for our country under one roof. So go to breakinthroughpower.org people, and see how you could attend if you're in the area or see how you can get a stream live to you.

Steve Skrovan: We'll keep promoting that as the show goes on. But we’ve got a show to do today. And on last week’s show, we had an excellent question from one of our listeners about whether the banks on Wall Street really paid back the taxpayers for bailing them out at the great crash of 2008. And Ralph kind of laid that fallacy to rest. And it so happens on the show today we have author David Dayen, who's going to give us another perspective on that situation. He's written a book entitled Chain of Title. How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud. That will be in the second half of the show. We will also check in with the crime reporter Russell Mokhiber. The Kojak of the corporate crime beat. And if we have time at the end of the show, we will try to answer another listener question or two. But first, we're going to talk about something else that’s too big to fail. Maybe even too big to succeed at this point. Our military industrial complex. And our guess is Molly Sinclair McCartney. She is a journalist with more than 30 years as a reporter at five different newspapers including ten years at the Miami Herald and nearly fifteen years at the Washington Post. In 2012, Ms. Sinclair McCartney was appointed a Woodrow Wilson Public Scholar in Washington DC to do the research and interviews needed to finish the book written by her late husband, noted national security reporter James McCartney. It's entitled America's War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Molly Sinclair McCartney.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Thank you very much. It's great to be with you.

Ralph Nader: Yes, indeed. Thank you, Molly Sinclair McCartney. The description of your new book with your husband, James McCartney, is very succinct. And I'd like to read it for our listeners before we get in to discussion of what America's War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts covers. Saint Martin's Press by the way. Quote, “Based on his experiences as an award winning Washingtonbased reporter covering national security, James McCartney presents a compelling history from the Cold War to the present day that shows that the problem is far worst and far more wideranging than anything Eisenhower would have imagined. Big militaries become too big to fail and has grown to envelop the nation's political culture and intellectual institutions. These centers of power and influence, including the now complicit White House and Congress, have a vested interest in preparing and waging unnecessary wars. The authors persuasively argue that not one foreign intervention in the last fifty years has made us or the world safer. End quote. Molly Sinclair McCartney, can you give our listeners a little bit about the background of how this book came about?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Yes. It would start with Jim and his experience in two phases. He got to know the military as an infantry soldier or on the frontlines of World War II back in the 1940s. But then, he became a reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers and it's Washington Bureau covering national security, which gave him an even broader understanding of what was happening. It happened that in the 1961 he was sent to cover Eisenhower’s speech. The one Eisenhower made about the dangers of a military industrial complex. That led Jim to write a series of articles explaining what it is, how it works, why it's dangerous, and why it's everybody's business. And those articles led to a Nieman Fellowship for him at Harvard, where he dug even deeper into this issue. Now, he taught after he finished his daily journalism career with Knight Ridder in 1990. He started teaching at Georgetown University and included always a component on war and peace issues related to the expansion of the military industrial complex since Eisenhower made that speech. But what really set him off and led to the book was the 2003 invasion of Iraq. By that time, he had become a very popular speaker about how Washington works. And that invasion led to him focusing on what it was about, how it happened, how it worked, and how people could better understand it. And when he would make these talks, people would shake their heads at the end and say, "We didn’t understand the system. Would you please write a book explaining it?" That’s what he was working on when he died in 2011. And friends came up to me at his memorial service afterward to say, "You must finish that book. It's just too important to let it go." That led to my getting the Wilson appointment; and it led to the publication of the book in 2015 by St. Martin Press.

Ralph Nader: And the book is written very clearly as both you areyou and Jim McCartney were professional journalists of many years standing. I'm might add, I found it quite impactful to learn that he was not only an infantry man in World War II in Europe, he was quite seriously wounded from…

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Yes. He was. Shrapnel, right.

Ralph Nader: Yes. Usually, veterans when they come back home are pretty astounded at how draft dodging warmongers like Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, who've never experienced war and who want others to do the fighting for them and don’t want their children to go to war. There's a thinly veiled contempt for these people. But unfortunately these warmongers get into power. They get on the oped page of The Washington Post, like John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz and others. They get fancy fees for speeches. But again and again, James McCartney was right in his predictions. He’s absolutely on target when he predicted what was going to happen in Iraq. He also was stickler for observing Constitutional accountability and Congress assuming its responsibility to either declare a war, or not have a war, and not handoff the responsibility to the White House. I found this very clearly written, Molly, for people who don’t know that much about America's war machine, it's history, it's enormous drain on the Treasury. And how all these invasions and attacks have boomeranged. Can you give some examples? I mean take the post9/ 11 boomerang, which started with a small gang in Northeast Afghanistan. And the more we battered and blew up and attacked... Could you explain what happens in terms of the spread, the boomerang? What the CIA calls blowback.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Right. Well, this is such a complicated issue, as you well know. What we got in 9/11 with the hijackers, who came and used our airplanes to hit the towers in New York as well as the Pentagon in Washington. And we have to say that one of the points the book makes is, “If you think that they don’t know the source of power that drives the American government, you have to look at what happened with those attacks, because they hit the Pentagon, while ignoring the State Department.” In other words, they know what's driving war and peace decisions in Washington. They understand that the military rather than the diplomats or the ones who are making the calls on how we approach and manage world affairs. Now, the thing about 9/11 that’s so interesting is: if you go back to the 1990 Gulf War, you may remember that how upset a guy we'd never heard of by the name of Osama Bin Laden how upset he was that American infidel troops were coming to Holy Ground in his country, Saudi Arabia; and how he was determined to pay back the Americans for putting their boots on the ground in his holy country, in his point of view. And then what happened? Fifteen of those hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. They are the ones who took down the towers in New York and hit the Pentagon and then, of course the field in Pennsylvania where the plane basically was pushed down by the passengers, who knew it was otherwise going to hit something else as a target. So, there is a pattern to what happens in the Middle East. Now, the other thing about the Middle East is why we're there. We went there because of the oil. We stayed there because of the oil. And we continue to be there because of the oil, even though we are no longer as dependent on the oil as we once were. We seem to be obsessed with that instead of the actual cost of these wars. Again, if you look at things like the 2003 the Iraq invasion, you may recall that we were told by the people pushing for that war, "Oh, this will be a cakewalk. They'll welcome us as liberators. And by the way Iraqi oil will pay for the cost of this war. It really won't cost the American taxpayer anything.” As you know, the reality is: we were not greeted as liberators. It was not cakewalk. And the latest estimate on what the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even in what we've done in Pakistan since 2003 up to 2015: $6 trillion according to the Brown University Studies. This is part of their website called costofwars.org. They constantly update. Those numbers are going to continue to go up as we care for the victims of those wars coming home from those three countries. And as part of our continuing, ongoing wars in the Middle East.

Ralph Nader: Molly, just think of what $6 trillion could do to rebuild our public transit systems, modernized our schools, enhanced our highways, and produced far more public facilities for everybody in the United States.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: That’s exactly one of the points of that study, which was done by a team of about thirty economists, lawyers, and other specialists in that Brown University team that put all it's findings on to that website with recommendations on how to approach war in the future to avoid the kind of mistakes we've been making in the Middle East. It's a tragedy that that’s where we pour so much of our money when it could be going to fix our infrastructure.

Ralph Nader: In your book you talked about the hardliners. The think tank hawks who had pushed for war. You focus particularly on two people. This is quite an interesting story, listeners. Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, which you described as two of Washington's most successful think tank hawks. Can you describe how they insinuated themselves inside General David Petraeus’ circle in Afghanistan? And what happened?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Well, this was really a fascinating insight into the way in which the military, in that case, had exposed itself and allowed itself to come under the influence of people, who had a very specific idea about foreign policy and the way we should handle our adventures in Afghanistan. And I have to say the reporting on that came out of some Washington Post articles, who looked very closely at what happened in that situation where there was basically the two hawks, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan husband and wife team by the way. They spent nearly a year in Afghanistan. They were there as unpaid volunteers for the U.S. General in charge of the war; but they were of course being supported by their think tank corporate donors. So they were working for free for the U.S. government, but they were able to do it because of the fact that they were being supported by the defense industry. They had toplevel security clearance. And they were allowed to review classified intelligence reports. They participated in strategy sessions. And they used their positions as advocates, basically calling for changes in the U.S. war plan according this is all basically in this Washington Post report, which was published in 2012 and they were basically pushing for a harder edged approach to the war. Now, there's nothing new about the think tank hawks trying to impact defense policy. But how they were able to go beyond just policy papers and actually get the ear of the man in charge of a real war seem to represent a sort of a new way to influence what we do at the military. Absolutely fascinating reporting by the Washington Post on that issue.

Ralph Nader: And Molly, our listeners would be interested in knowing the granular details here are what is so fascinating. Kimberly Kagan's think tank where she works, The Institute for the Study of War, has been benefited from contributions from corporation who have defense contracts like DynCorps and CACI.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: That’s right. Yes. Right.

Ralph Nader: Both of which reap major revenues from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And what kind of judgment does that say about General David Pertraeus, who let them into the inside circle to get their information in Afghanistan?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Well, I think the question is the answer. You know, it was clearly from the point of view of people looking into situation questionable. And you have to wonder why he did this. There was some suggestion in some of the reporting that it came at a time when he was possibly thinking he was going to be able to maybe mount a political career after he left the military and that this is was going to somehow help grease some wheels in that direction, by getting close to people who clearly had an access to big money. Now, I'm saying that was a suggestion. I don’t think anybody proved it. I don’t know that he was even ever asked about it. But it was true that he was considered at least for a while as somebody, who might have emerged as a strong Republican candidate for the Presidency.

Ralph Nader: You know, the book takes a real hard look at the role of the media. Your late…

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Yes.

Ralph Nader: …your late husband, James McCartney, was known for asking really tough questions as press conferences of government officials and the Pentagon and elsewhere.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Yes.

Ralph Nader: And the rest of the media sort of looked askance. I think one of the most disgraceful chapters in American journalism has to be how they became the cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq and how they put on the Bush/Cheney deceptions day after day. Judith Miller and the New York Times was a part of that deception. She got Page One articles that now in retrospect where falsethey were factually false and embarrassed the New York Times to no end. Now, I think the Washington Post expressed regret over it's coverage too. The pro Iraq invasion, people say that every major newspaper in America supported the invasion of Iraq. What’s your take for our listeners on the role of the media and how to avoid that in the future?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Well, the media was clear. They understood they had badly handled the story. You did get in the New York Times a sort of a letter to the readers from Bill Keller sort of saying, "Well, okay. We overplayed some of those stories, some of which were the Judith Miller stories." The Washington Post actually never published a formal apology. Len Downey, the managing editor in that period was asked in a question, I think, as he was exiting the Post into retirement whether he thought the paper had properly covered the story in terms of play and emphasize and so forth. And he did express some concern that there had been fewer stories about the skepticism or the existence of weapons of mass destruction. That perhaps they hadn’t run those stories and given them the play they were giving the government side of that argument. However, that was just an answer to a question. It wasn’t a formal note to readers saying, “By the way, we really didn’t play the story the way we should have.” And I would add that when the stories did there were some stories raising questions about the weapon of mass destructions written by Walter Pincus, a very longtime, very highly respected national security those stories when he was able to get them in the paper at all run like on page A19. They never got to play that the government stories got.

Ralph Nader: This is pretty astonishing; because the Post and Times have done some good investigative work over the years. They seemed to roll over on this one. Our experience – you might be interested in this we saw about fifteen national groups begged to meet with George W. Bush before the invasion. Some of them were over in Iraq. And they came back with some knowledge about the situation. And these are groups like the National Council of Churches. There were labor unions. There were former intelligence officials, retired, student groups, women's advocate for peace. There were environmental groups. Taken as a whole, they all wrote letters to George W. Bush. Millions of members back home, they never got an acknowledgement. They asked just could they see just their president before this disaster was about to unfold. And they didn’t even acknowledge the letters. All this was released to the public. And the Washington Post and New York Times ignored it again and again. It's more than dereliction. It seems like it was censorship. What do you think?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: What happens in the newsroom is when a certain thinking sets in, it dominates the way the newspaper plays these stories. And this was like one of the worse cases ever where the media failed. I would add that in my experience, what you have in the media is kind of like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she's good, she's really good as she was with Woodward and Bernstein reporting on Watergate. And when she's bad, she is horrid. And she was horrid in the coverage of the Iraq war. Bill Moyers did an entire hourlong program that’s probably still on YouTube in which they went into great detail about the failure of the media, the cheerleading for the war. The one exception to this would have been what Knight Ridder did with some it's reporting in which they had stories saying, "Wait a minute there is skepticism about those WMD's." Those stories some of them ran in the Knight Ridder papers but the Knight Ridder organization had no Washington outlet. It did not have the kind of clout The Washington Post and The New York Times has. And so they didn’t get the attention. And even more revealing is the fact that The Philadelphia Inquirer, which is a Knight Ridder owned newspaper, chose not to use its own bureau’s stories, because they weren’t matching what The New York Times were saying.

Ralph Nader: What's interesting…

Molly Sinclair McCartney: So there are these flaws in the media that in the case of the Iraq war is about as bad as it gets. Although, there are more examples – and I have them in the book: the ’64 Gulf of Tonkin, the ’62 Cuban Missile Crisis being a couple of other examples where there were massive failure on the part of the media to pursue the story.

Ralph Nader: We're speaking with Molly Sinclair McCartney, who is coauthoring with her late husband, James McCartney, a book called America's War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts just out into the bookstores. And let me put this in front of you, Molly Sinclair McCartney. Unlike any other war in American history, before the invasion, I counted up to thirty retired, high level, Admirals, Generals, national security officials, diplomats, and others who served in the government under both parties and as retirees spoke out against the war, even James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the security advisers to the first George Herbert Walker Bush, his presidency. General Zinni Marine General retired Zinni, expert in the Middle East spoke out against it. Retired Vice Admiral Shanahan spoke out against it. The former head of the National Security Agency and fourstar General, Howard Odom, spoke out against it. And they got a little play, because they had opeds sometimes, or petitions, or they signed advertisements. But basically, this was a treasure trove for the press to go to for more interviews. They would have tripled their number in a month if George Soros, who also was vociferously against the war had given him a secretariat to organize them and multiply their numbers and get them in the media and get them up on Capitol Hill. What do you think of establishing a secretariat before we get to your epilogue of suggestions that would be an organizing network for retired high level officials, whose experience and patriotism could not be really challenged and who would have great credibility, developing them into a fast response team, so next time we're plunged being plunged into war on a platform of deception, lies and coverups like the Bush/Cheney performance before the Iraq invasion, would be able to stop it? What do you think of that?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Well, two thoughts: in the abstract way that you present it, yes, that sounds very promising. But if you look at what a similar group of very high level, very important, very knowledgeable people, including George Schultz and a lot of others, tried to do in their effort to get rid of all nuclear weapons, you will see they’ve had very little impact. And that is a group that has written pieces in The Wall Street Journal, has beenthere's many, many very high level people from around the world in a position of power and authority have tried very hard to push that issue. They haven’t gotten very far. So, while your idea sounds like it ought to make a difference, I don’t know if it really would, given what's happened with the George Schultz effort and others. You're familiar with that group, I'm sure. That’s also in the book by the way.

Ralph Nader: Yeah, the former head of Molly

Sinclair McCartney: Yeah. So the problem is that the people in charge get ideas in their head, and it's very hard to stop them, which is what happened with the Iraq war. Here is a wonderful example of what I'm talking about. Jim covered the Middle East for many years as part of his national security reporting. He was in and out of the Middle East repeatedly in the '70s and again in the '80s. When we sat down to listen to Colin Powell make that speech in 2003 to the United Nations making the case for the U.S. invasion, we listened, Jim got up at the end of that talk and said, "They. Have. Nothing. They have a picture of a building. They do not know what's in that building. They don’t know what they're doing. They're going to go over there, kill a bunch of people, because they don’t understand what they're getting into. It's the Middle East, they don’t understand the Middle East. This is going to be a disaster." And he was absolutely right. But even our close friends at that point, having heard Colin Powell, came to a dinner party we had a few days later and all of them were, "Well like Colin says, you know, it's there, it's true, we got to go." And Jim kept saying, "You are all wrong. They don’t have anything." But once the people in charge get these ideas in their head, they got the leverage to make it happen. And the only way that can change is with an informed citizenry and informed voting at the polls, informed questioning of people trying to get to the positions to make those decisions.

Ralph Nader: And Molly, a fulltime infrastructure which George Soros can fund. The problem is that these good people speak out their experience, they want to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, to end nuclear weapons like George Schultz and the former head of the Strategic Air Command, retired Gen. Butler and others. But no…

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Right. There's a whole series of them, yeah.

Ralph Nader: Nobody keeps them going. They don’t have a staff. Nobody gets them in the media. Nobody gets them on Capitol Hill. The idea is to link the money of George Soros as a peace advocate to an infrastructure for all these retired people who have no axe to grind and are speaking truths to military reckless power. In your epilogue, Molly, you have a number of suggestions. And while there's no time to go into each one of them, could you just read the head notes of your suggestions? And let's dwell for a couple of minutes on the unauditability of the Pentagon budget.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Okay. Well, I think as I was just saying a minute ago, the number one item in my list of I think I have twelve, I'm trying to turn to it now to make sure I don’t leave anything out is the idea that we need for people to understand how all the money sloshing around at the Pentagon and in the way we spend money on defense basically feeds the militarism that leads to these wars, this sort of worship of war. Andrew Bacevich has written a number of books. He has a new one out now and talks about the American worship of war and the warrior, and how that has led us into these wars and contributed to the problems that we have. So number one: curb this militarism and this worship of war, which makes us less safe. Then we need to recognize the cost of war. And again, that costofwar.org website has everything you ever wanted to know about cost. And we have to recognize that we have to pay for it. We can't just send the troops and have it not cost us anything. We really need to reconsider or to certainly consider reinstatement of a draft or some form of national service so that people have skin in the game for these war and peace decisions. Right now, we just send off our voluntary army, and nobody's in the street protesting, because there aren't any draftees in that group. That is thought to have contributed to what we did in 2003. Another area we need to work on is to end the secrecy of the drone warfare. Obama's been very good about not sending in the numbers of combat troops into Syria and other parts of the Middle East that there have been that he's been under pressure to do. But he has been willing to do a great deal of drone warfare, none of it necessarily is transparent as it should be. And as we were just talking about, we really need to abolish nuclear weapons. I mean, it's just a time bomb sitting there waiting for a terrorist group to get its hands on something to do incredible damage. We really need to get rid of those weapons. We need to reform the intelligence operations to deal with the problem of flawed, twisted and other kinds of exaggerated intelligence that becomes the basis for military action.

Ralph Nader: And how to do that is the subject of our gathering at Constitution Hall next week, Molly. Under the banner breakingthroughpower.org, we are featuring people who you know, the retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, who was the chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Yes. Oh, yes.

Ralph Nader: We have the high level former CIA analyst Paul Pillar, who teaches at Georgetown. We have the Veterans for Peace. We have many of the long standing peace advocacy groups like the Friends Committee and Peace Action. So we're going to be discussing all this. Just to end on this note: the Pentagon budget is the biggest budget in the United States. It's depending on who you talk to, it's been 600 and 800 billion dollars a year. It is the only budget that is unauditable, according to the Government Accountability Office of the U.S. Congress. Every other federal agency provides an audited budget to the GAO, because that is what federal law requires since 1992. But the Pentagon keeps delaying and delaying. They don’t know where their spare parts are. They don’t know how nine billion with a B dollars of money was lost in Iraq in the first eight months of the war. Your money is going all over the world, listeners, and it is not audited. And in the book, America's War Machine by James McCartney and Molly Sinclair McCartney, they talk about this. So, all this could be the subjects of sane electoral politics. The presidential candidates barely talk about the military budget. And a lot of them are getting money from the military manufacturers. But that doesn’t keep the people from rumbling on all these issues, harking back the farewell speech of President Dwight Eisenhower. Did he ever warn us. And was he ever prescient. Molly, tell people how they can reach you if they want to as we close.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Well, there is a Facebook page for the book, which I just recently set up, “America's War Machine”. You're welcome to have my email address, mccartney106@gmail.com. The Facebook page I'm in the process of setting up will include presentations that are scheduled about the book. I did one just a few weeks ago with Politics And Prose. I'm scheduled to do several more in the Fall, one at George Mason University. And so, that’s a way to keep up with what's happening with the book. You can obviously buy the book on Amazon. That’s the best deal in town because you can order it and get a better price there than almost anywhere. And the bookstores, also some of them have the book, not all of them. But the easiest way to get it is to go online to amazon.com and order it there.

Ralph Nader: Yes. And listeners who listen to NPR and PBS, maybe they want to know the answer to this question. Have you been on National Public Radio or Public Broadcasting System, any of the talk shows, any of the programs yet, Molly?

Molly Sinclair McCartney: I have not. I would love to be. I'm available and would very much like to talk to as large an audience as possible. I have done a number of presentations in various places, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, New York, Washington, and I have more scheduled. But so far, nothing in terms of NPR or PBS, but I'm available. I think this book what the point of the book is is to provide sort of a Military Industrial Complex 101, a very basic guide to explaining what it is, how it works, why you should care, why it's dangerous. It's very basic. It's the kind consumer reporting I did as a reporter where you take an issue and you break it down and make it meaningful for the individual Main Street person. That was the same kind of reporting Jim was doing when he wrote about these issues. Take the jargon, break it down, explain it, and explain why and how, and particularly why it's everybody's business.

Ralph Nader: Well said. And listeners if you want to hear or see Molly Sinclair McCartney, call up to Charlie Rose's show or Terry Gross or Diane Rhem and say that Molly Sinclair McCartney should be on that show. Your taxes, your peace, your safety, your future scenario of what you want to pass on to your children are at stake here. Thank you very much Molly Sinclair McCartney, coauthor with James McCartney of America's War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts, incredibly readable and documented handbook for peace fighters. Thank you very much Molly.

Molly Sinclair McCartney: Thank you, thank you.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Molly Sinclair McCartney, coauthor of America's War Machine: Vested Interests, Endless Conflicts. As always, we will link to that book on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour Website. Now, let's take a short break and send it over to the National Press Building in our nation's capital where Russell Mohkiber will tell us all about the latest in true corporate crime. Russell?

Russell Mohkiber: From the National Press Building in Washington D.C., this is your corporate crime reporter morning minute for Friday, May 20, 2016. I'm Russell Mohkiber. The National Education Association and more than fifty state and local teachers unions are challenging McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook to end McTeacher's Night, the corporation's most exploitive form of kidtargeted marketing. On McTeacher's Nights, McDonald's recruits teachers to work behind the counter and serve burgers, fries, and sodas to their students and their students' families. The corporation heavily brands the events, even going so far as to provide uniforms and branded shirts for teachers to wear behind counters. In return, McDonald's donates only a small portion of the event's proceeds to the schools. The events take advantage of struggling schools and use teachers to sell junk food directly to their students in order to create brand loyalty. 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 Ralph Nader. And speaking of corporate crime, our guest has written a true crime account of how a cancer nurse, a car dealership worker, and an insurance fraud specialist helped uncover the largest consumer crime in American history. David Dayen is a contributing writer to Salon.com, at The Intercept, and a weekly columnist for the New Republic and The Fiscal Times. He's the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud, which was the winner of the Ida and Studs Terkel prize. Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, David Dayen.

David Dayen: Thank you so much for having me on the show.

Ralph Nader: Yes indeed. Welcome David Dayen. This is a rather unique book. I mean, I've read a lot of books on corporate crime, and they talk about corporations and corporate lawyers and litigation. And David actually zeroed in on three really regular Americans, who were defrauded in a variety of ways and said, "We're not going to take it anymore." We're talking about exposing one of the biggest frauds in American history, The Wall Street fraud with the housing foreclosures resulting, people thrown out of their homes and millions of people out of their jobs. So, I want to ask you right off David: how did you focus on three people? Most reports wouldn’t have gone down or shall we say up to that level of scrutiny.

David Dayen: Yeah. So I mean, one thing that I thought differentiated this story from a lot of what we've seen come out of the financial crisis is a lot of these narratives happened at sort of the 10,000 foot level. You're talking about CEOs or regulators or members of the administration. I thought that the people most powerfully affected by the financial crisis were right there at the ground level. They were those who were victimized by foreclosures. And to see these three foreclosure victims, who ended up doing more investigation on this particular aspect of the mortgage industry than anyone in the federal government or any state government and how they really were instrumental in exposing this massive fraud of delivering false documents to courts by the millions. It was important to me to get that ground level perspective and to really play it out in the way that they learned about it, peeling back the layers of the scandals like the layers of an onion and not getting too far ahead of what they saw. So I really try to do itmore like a “whodunit,” where you go along with them as they uncover this plot and this scheme and see how they take it to as far they can.

Ralph Nader: Well this book by David Dayen, Chain of Title it's called. There's a reason for that title was reviewed prominently and favorably in The New York Times Book Review section on May 13th by the celebrated law professor, Frank Partnoy, who teaches at the University of San Diego Law School. And in that review, he had this statement which I think would give you an opportunity to explain what you are covering. He said, "The US government couldn’t buy the loans for one simple yet appalling reason. No one could figure out who legally held them." So start with these three people in Florida and give us the sequence, how they first confronted their ordeal and what happened after that. I mean, really give us a personal snapshot of these remarkable people and how their impact radiated all the way to Wall Street and Washington.

David Dayen: Absolutely. So Lisa Epstein is the first person we encountered. She was a cancer nurse. She gets that knock at the door that everyone dreads and she's handed these foreclosure papers. And the entity foreclosing on her in those papers is a bank she's never heard of before. It's called U.S. Bank. And she was paying mortgage payments to Chase Finance. So she starts trying to unravel why she is being sued by a bank that she's never heard of, that she's never given money to to pay for this in this foreclosure case. And what she learns is that these loans were securitized during the crisis. They were sold from an originator over to an investment bank, who then hired a trustee to create a trust and put the loans into the loans and then sell securities, mortgage bank securities, out of those all over the country. And the problem is is that when that was done, the very precise steps that have been established over three hundred years in our country in property laws were violated. They were not upheld. The mortgages never made it to the trust, meaning that these mortgagebacked securities weren’t backed by anything. They were nonmortgagebacked securities. And when the trustees like U.S. Bank went back to foreclose on people, they didn’t actually have the evidence to legally submit that they owned these loans. And so what they did was they faked the documents. They mocked them up. They hired third parties to make documents that made it look like they owned the loans. Those third parties which were under an enormous stress to pump out millions of these documents they cut corners. They forged the documents. They backdated them to make it look like they were done at the proper time. And Lisa uncovered all this. She went to the public records, literally down to the county courthouse in Palm Beach County. She was there so often, she started to get mail there. She went there ever single day. And she really rooted out this scandal one by one, looking through documents the way that any researcher would. The difference is is that now we have the Internet and the ability to sort of network these things and do distributed research projects. And she found other people that were also looking into this.

Ralph Nader: Okay. She met Michael Redman, a car salesman, who had a similar experience. What happened?

David Dayen: Yeah. She found that on his loan, the individuals who were signingassigning the loans to J.P. Morgan Chase were assigning the loan to themselves. They were acting as members of Fannie Mae and signing the loan over to J.P. Morgan Chase. So, he just thought this was a massive scandal, and he started looking through public records. He wrote up a guide of how to look through the public records in your state and find whether or not the documents were fraudulent. And then they ended up meeting in the “comment” sections of a website called Living Lies, which was one of the early adopters of talking about foreclosure fraud on the Internet. And so they met. And they basically made a pact. They went to a restaurant, and they said, "We're going to work on this until we expose it to the nation. And we're going to do anything we can to do that." And so they built their own websites that provided news, information, and documents. They posted these documents and showed the fraud very explicitly. They posted depositions that lawyers were taking foreclosure defense lawyers in these cases where they would get employees of these banks and mortgage servicing companies and third party document processing companies to admit that they signed these documents without having any idea what they were talking about, didn’t know the underlying case, assigned thousands of documents a day. In some cases, multiple people were signing on behalf of one person, who was allegedly authorized to sign on behalf of various banks so that signatures were in thirteen different styles of handwriting. This was an absolute systemic fraud that was going on and these people, Lisa, Michael, and then Lynn Szymoniak, who came in later really were instrumental in uncovering it and exposing it to the nation. By the end of 2010, all the major mortgage servicing companies in America stopped foreclosing on people, because of this publicity and exposure of what went on in that industry.

Ralph Nader: You called this behavior criminal. Did anybody go to jail anywhere in the country?

David Dayen: One individual went to jail. There was a grand jury investigation that was triggered actually by Lynn Szymoniak making a formal complaint to the U.S. Attorney's office in Jacksonville, Florida. And unfortunately, that criminal investigation, which had the ability to go up the chain and implicate every major bank on Wall Street was effectively stonewalled and starved of resources. And so only one person went to jail. She was the CEO. Her name is Lorraine Brown. She was the CEO of DocX, which was a third part company that actually created the physical documents that were used in these foreclosure cases, these fraudulent documents. And what is so interesting and also tragic about that case is that Lorraine Brown was accused of a conspiracy against the banks, that she was accused, mocking up and delivering false documents to the bankers as if that’s not what they were asking for. The banks were seen as the victims in this scenario and that’s the only person who went to jail for any of this.

Ralph Nader: What's this about George Orwell? We're talking with David Dayen, author of the gripping book Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud. David, you described that the bank's behavior not only is indefensible but criminal. Why do you think there were so few, almost no criminal prosecutions from Wall Street down to places around the country for what the banks did? After all, it was over a decade before that the government put away over eight hundred officials of the Savings and Loan banks for defrauding their customers and their homeowners. What happened in the intervening years to develop a nofault system for banks, where there were crimes without criminals? Because the prosecutors didn’t bring any prosecutions, and the politicians didn’t demand it, and the budgets were not expanded to go after this corporate crime wave that spread all over the country and affected millions of innocent Americans.

David Dayen: Yeah. Well, you're absolutely right, Ralph, that we had the model in the Savings and Loan Crisis of how you do this, and it was not followed this time. I think the question you're asking is a nagging question at the heart of our democracy, why there are these twotiered systems of justice, one for the rich and powerful and one for everybody else. I tried to go into the fact that one of the alibis that get used by people in government top officials is that “Well, what was done on Wall Street was unethical, but it wasn’t illegal. And we don’t have good cases.” Well, here's a case where we had millions of pieces of documentary evidence, false evidence that was presented as real in court cases all over the country. And it would’ve been no problem to take those millions of pieces of evidence and go up the chain. Who authorized that these documents be fabricated? Who was the precipitating executive, who made the call to fabricate these documents? But that was never done. And essentially, what you have to believe is that the Obama Administration and people at the Justice Department were more concerned about bank balance sheets than they were about homeowners, than that they were about the rule of law. And as a direct result, this continues to happen today. Every day in America, somebody is kicked out of their home based on false documents. And I get the calls and letters all the time from people, who are going through this in their own court cases right now. So, as a result of failing to stop this crime wave, it's not surprising that it just persists.

Ralph Nader: And when the politicians start making excuses for the Justice Department or for members of Congress saying, "Well, the criminal laws were not adequate to deal with this. We couldn’t prosecute them." That’s total nonsense. For example, just one slice of the bank's crime wave and the mortgage service companies and all the others in this racket, pursuing a foreclosure on homeowners without legal signatures was itself a crime. It's a crime under federal law and under state law. And it goes back decades. There are all kinds of provisions in the criminal laws that could’ve led to the prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of these business criminals. So what do you want David, as we conclude what do you want the people listening to this program and who read your wonderful book, Chain of Title, to take away from it, especially people who think that you can't fight City Hall, you can't challenge the big banks so why try?

David Dayen: Right. I mean, I think that what this shows is here are three people, who had no expertise, no resources, no institutional knowledge, weren’t activist, weren’t in law enforcement, weren’t in government, and yet they took on these most powerful institutions in America and they made a difference. They may not have gotten every single thing that they wanted, but movements sort of crash onto the shore, and they get closer and close each time. And I don’t think you could’ve had the anticorporate movements that we have today in America without this thing that happened at the initial juncture to really inspire people. And I believe it is an inspiring account. We should recognize that there was an alternative history here that when we're fed this idea that there was nothing that could’ve been done to stop this Wall Street crime wave, there was an alternative. There were people, ordinary people, who figured this out, did more investigation than the government and delivered it on a silver platter to anyone that wanted to do something about it. And we have to reckon with the fact that this road was not taken, even though it would’ve been very easy to do so.

Ralph Nader: Well, we've been talking with David Dayen, author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans they happened to live in Florida Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud. You’ve performed a real service here. I want to tell our listeners, this is the kind of book that should be in libraries all over the country. Libraries have tight budgets. Buy the book. Give it to your local library. People who walk in discouraged and may walk out with this book prepared to have a higher morale level about what individuals can do to make a great difference. Thank you very much David Dayen.

David Dayen: Yeah, well thank you so much, Ralph.

Steve Skrovan: David Dayen is the author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud. We will link to it on the ralphnaderradiohour.com. Well Ralph, we have a few minutes left. Let's get to some listener questions. This first one comes from Josh E. James and he asks, "Hi Ralph, would you bring up the topic of instantrunoff voting in an upcoming Radio Hour? It would be great to hear from top advocates and the victories they have accomplished. I think this would have the effect of inspiring people to act more in this issue."

Ralph Nader: Well, this is a reform that actually is in place in places like San Francisco's elections. And basically it gets rid of the spoiler issue. So when you vote under an instantrunoff voting system, you give your first preference, second preference, third preference. And if your first preference let's say you vote for Green Party candidate and the Green Party candidate doesn’t get a majority, then your second choice kicks in. And if any of the candidates don’t get a majority, your third choice kicks in until your candidate gets a majority. So nobody wins without a majority. And that’s considered the way to eliminate this twoparty tyranny charge that third party voters are spoilers. I have one problem with it, and that is at the end of the day, the third party ends up with no votes. Unless they deal with that for the historical record, I think some people are going to be cool on that kind of reform.

Steve Skrovan: What is the consequence of that, of having no votes?

Ralph Nader: Well, then the people look back and they say the Green Party got no votes, because they evaporate on the second and third round, unless the Green Party candidate gets a majority of the vote on the first round, which is not very likely these days.

Steve Skrovan: Right, but they eliminatethey have an effect though on the election because ostensibly, a candidate would have to, in effect, at least in a secondary way court those votes, right?

Ralph Nader: That’s right. The positive value of instantrunoff voting is that people are more likely to vote their conscience even a small third party because they know that their second or third choice is going to kick in and the least of the worst of the two major party candidates will get their vote eventually, or instantly actually. That’s what's known as instantrunoff voting.

Steve Skrovan: Right, because it's not like you have to then have another election day and go back. It's already all there.

Ralph Nader: Right, it kicks in immediately. I've often said half humorously to advocates for instantrunoff voting, unless they can explain it in 22 seconds on television to an interviewer, they're not going to get anywhere.

Steve Skrovan: Right. Well we kind of do something similar to this when we're voting in sports for Most Valuable Player. In Major League Baseball, it's a ranked voting system. It may not be exactly instantrunoff voting, but there's a first place, a second place, third place vote, so it's not totally unfamiliar to us.

Ralph Nader: Certainly not for sports fans.

Steve Skrovan: Right, right. Let's just do one more question here. This comes from John Ralston and he says, "I was just wondering, what is the history of the corporate income tax? To me there's a breakdown in logic with corporations being "people before the law." And yet they do not pay personal income taxes. Why is that?"

Ralph Nader: Because at the state and federal level, they're supposed to pay corporate income taxes as a corporation. Of course, the executives pay personal income tax. The employees pay personal income tax. But the corporate income tax has been dwindling from a high of 30% of all federal revenues in 1950 to about 7% today. And in many instances, corporations like General Electric have gone year after year without paying any federal income tax on billions of U.S. based profits, billions of dollars. In fact if you added in the corporate welfare, Steve, the subsidies, handouts, giveaways, assigned tax liabilities to other companies, probably an argument can be made that if you took the top fifty giant corporations with ten of billions of dollars of profit, they probably paid no income tax as an aggregate, because of all the subsidies they’ve gotten in return plus all the tax loopholes they’ve taken advantage of. It's a mess. We need corporate tax reform. And we're not going to get it unless every candidate running for office, local state and national, is compelled to take a position on it.

Steve Skrovan: And I remember a few weeks ago, we had David Cay Johnston on the show talking about Donald Trump's tax returns; and he said that if Donald Trump pays any taxes, he should fire his accountant.

Ralph Nader: Because as David Cay Johnston put out in his book, Perfectly Legal, you take advantage of all these loopholes as super wealthy people do with the tax savings abroad and Grand Cayman Islands and the Island of Cork and Luxembourg and whatever, you can pretty much take it down to zero, using clever tax deferral techniques, shifting supposed income to tax havens aboard, which have no federal income tax at all in their jurisdictions. We have to have major corporate tax reform. It's got to enter the political arena, the electoral arena. Every time you’ve got a chance to ask a candidate, who wants to shake your hand and ask for your vote, listeners, ask them: what's their position on corporate tax reform. And tell them to send it to you in writing.

Steve Skrovan: Well, that’s our show. Thank you for your questions. Keep them coming up on the Facebook page and the Ralph Nader Radio website. And thanks to our guests, Molly Sinclair McCartney, author of America's War Machine and David Dayen, author of Chain of Title. A transcript of this episode will be posted on the ralphnaderradiohour.com. For Ralph's weekly blog, go to nader.org. For more from Russell Mohkiber, go to corporatecrimereporter.com. remember to visit the country's only law museum, the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut. Go to tortmuseum.org. 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. So join us next week on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. Who'll be at Breaking Through Power coming up this week, Ralph?

Ralph Nader: Take a look at on the website, breakingthroughpower.org. Never before have so many accomplished citizen advocacy groups come together in one place on more issues, reforms and redirections for our country and its impact on the war. Breakingthroughpower.org. If you're in the greater Washington area or on the Eastern seaboard, it's still not too late to get tickets and come down and join the assemblage. It'll be a time to remember.

Steve Skrovan: And if you're not there, it's being live streamed.

Ralph Nader: That’s right.
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