Howie Hawkins and Ralph Nader with Susan Arbetter, from a live broadcast of the Capital Pressroom on 10/20/10. Listen.
By John Morgan
The Pennsylvania Progressive, February 21, 2010
Carl Romanelli, the Pennsylvania Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006 will seek legal redress in the courts against Democrats who threw him off the ballot using legislative staffers working on public time and with public resources. I asked Mr. Romanelli whether he and Ralph Nader would go to court following the testimony in the current trial of former Rep.Mike Veon and four legislative staffers. Many who pled guilty in the BonusGate scandal have testified to working on these ballot challenges while working inside the state capitol building and collecting taxpayer funded paychecks. His response:
Thank you for your questions, John. I cannot speak for Ralph, but I plan three different legal steps. The first is to file a victim impact statement with Judge Lewis. The statement is with regard to the guilty pleas entered last month. There are important issues that need to be on the record in this highly complicated matter.
Upon hearing from other witnesses in the Veon, et al trial, I plan to ask the Pennsylvania court for a new hearing in light of the continuing evolution of extraordinary information as to the extent of effort against my rights as a citizen and as a candidate.
Also, I believe a federal civil rights action is appropriate. This filing could be avoided by Casey or his lawyers doing the right thing and withdrawing the punitive action against Larry Otter and me. Since I do not expect such honor from the above mentioned, a federal filing seems likely.
Carl Romanelli filed petitions seeking a place on the ballot for the 2006 Senate election versus Republican Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Democrats worried the Green candidate would siphon off liberal voters from Casey, a conservative, anti-choice Democrat from Scranton. They challenged him in court with, as now know, the extensive use of legislative staffers in Harrisburg who were prohibited by law from performing such work with taxpayer resources and while being paid by taxpayers. The testimony provided the past two weeks regarding this has been extensive. Carl Romanelli and his attorney Larry Otter, were assessed with legal fees by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party totaling around $90,000, supposedly for the Democrats’ costs of mounting a successful challenge. Of course we now know the Democrats used public resources and not their own.
The two major political parties in Pennsylvania have made it extremely difficult for third parties to gain the ballot. They must collect petitions from tens of thousands of voters while the major parties need only a comparable few.Tags: victim impact statement, legislative staffers, pennsylvania court, rick santorum <BR/>
Liberals Are Useless
By Chris Hedges
Liberals are a useless lot. They talk about peace and do nothing to challenge our permanent war economy. They claim to support the working class, and vote for candidates that glibly defend the North American Free Trade Agreement. They insist they believe in welfare, the right to organize, universal health care and a host of other socially progressive causes, and will not risk stepping out of the mainstream to fight for them. The only talent they seem to possess is the ability to write abject, cloying letters to Barack Obama—as if he reads them—asking the president to come back to his “true” self. This sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.
I am not disappointed in Obama. I don’t feel betrayed. I don’t wonder when he is going to be Obama. I did not vote for the man. I vote socialist, which in my case meant Ralph Nader, but could have meant Cynthia McKinney. How can an organization with the oxymoronic title Progressives for Obama even exist? Liberal groups like these make political satire obsolete. Obama was and is a brand. He is a product of the Chicago political machine. He has been skillfully packaged as the new face of the corporate state. I don’t dislike Obama—I would much rather listen to him than his smug and venal predecessor—though I expected nothing but a continuation of the corporate rape of the country. And that is what he has delivered.
“You have a tug of war with one side pulling,” Ralph Nader told me when we met Saturday afternoon. “The corporate interests pull on the Democratic Party the way they pull on the Republican Party. If you are a ‘least-worst’ voter you don’t want to disturb John Kerry on the war, so you call off the anti-war demonstrations in 2004. You don’t want to disturb Obama because McCain is worse. And every four years both parties get worse. There is no pull. That is the dilemma of The Nation and The Progressive and other similar publications. There is no breaking point. What is the breaking point? The criminal war of aggression in Iraq? The escalation of the war in Afghanistan? Forty-five thousand people dying a year because they can’t afford health insurance? The hollowing out of communities and sending the jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking point. And when there is no breaking point you do not have a moral compass.”
Tags: John Lennon, ralph nader, elections <BR/>
by Ralph Nader
“No more fine print; no more confusing terms and conditions.” This is what Barack Obama told a White House gathering of leading credit card issuers this week.
Right afterward, President Obama told the press that “there has to be strong and reliable protections for consumers, protections that ban unfair rate increases and forbid abusive fees and penalties.” This soaring rhetoric places a heavy burden on Mr. Obama to stand up to the giant power of the credit card bosses and their monetized allies on Capitol Hill. Yet he has shown little interest in re-instating a Presidential consumer advisor as did Lyndon Johnson with the formidable Betty Furness and as did Jimmy Carter with the legendary Esther Peterson.
Deep recession times are tough for the nation’s over 200 million consumers. Still, no consumer voice in the White House, though consumer groups asked Mr. Obama to move promptly on this tiny advocacy office months ago.
The corporate chieftains have easy access to the White House and the new President, whether these bosses come on missions demanding power or missions of beggary for bailouts. When will he meet with the leading heads of consumer protection groups with millions of dues-paying members who could give him the base to hold accountable and regulate the democracy-denying, economy-wrecking corporate supremacists?
“Where’s the Backbone?” asked Ruth Marcus, the usually-restrained lawyer-columnist for The Washington Post. On April 15, 2009 she wrote: “When will President Obama fight, and when will he fold? That’s not entirely clear-and I’m beginning to worry that there may be a little too much presidential inclination to crumple.” Ms. Marcus asserts that “for all the chest-thumping about making hard choices and taking on entrenched interests, there has been disturbingly little evidence of the new president’s willingness to do that.” This is the case even with his allies in Congress, never mind his adversaries.
Just four days later, The New York Times weighed in with a page one news article that said President Obama “is well known for bold proposals that have raised expectations, but his administration has shown a tendency for compromise and caution, and even a willingness to capitulate on some early initiatives. …His early willingness to deal or fold has left commentators, and some loyal Democrats, wondering: ‘Where’s the fight?'” Like the Post, the Times gave examples.
It is not as if Mr. Obama is lacking in public opinion support. Overall he has a 65% approval rating. People know he inherited a terrible situation here and abroad from the Bush regime and they want action. Large majorities believe America is declining, that there is too much corporate control over their lives, and that the two parties have been failing the American people.
But the President’s personality is not one to challenge concentrated power. A Zogby poll reports that only six percent of the public supports the financial bailouts for Wall Street. The vast majority of people do not think the bailouts are fair.
The upcoming 100 day mark for the Obama administration is a customary time for evaluations by the politicos, the pundits, and the civic community. While his supporters can point to the pay-equity law for women, more health insurance for poor children, and a $787 billion economic stimulus enactment, the general appraisal by the liberal-progressive intelligentsia is decidedly mixed and gentle with undiluted hope.
Mr. Obama nourishes these mixed feelings. He showed some courage when he agreed, as part of an ongoing court case, to release the four torture memos written by Bush’s Justice Department. Graphic photos of prisoner treatment in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be released next week. Yet Obama came out against a Truth Commission regarding the alleged crimes of the Bush regime and said he would “look forward and not look back.” For Obama that means immunity for anyone from the Bush Administration who may have violated the criminal laws of the land.
It is remarkable to read those oft-repeated words by lawyer Obama. Law enforcement is about looking back into the past. Investigation and prosecution obviously deals with crimes that have already occurred. That’s the constitutional duty of the President.
After 100 days it is far too early to render many judgments about Obama. One can, however, evaluate his major appointments-heavily Clintonite and corporate. One can also look at what he hasn’t gotten underway at all-such as labor law reform, a living wage, and citizen empowerment.
Next Monday, the Institute for Policy Studies (www.ips-dc.org) releases a detailed report card on Obama’s first 100 days titled “Thirsting for a Change.” While The Nation held a panel discussion on April 22 in Washington, D.C., the panelists largely gave Obama the benefit of the doubt so far, and declared that only grassroots mobilizing will move him forward on such matters as “single-payer” health care, corporate abuse, and the demilitarization of our foreign policy and our federal budget.
Panelist William Grieder coined the phrase “independent formulations” to describe the citizen action needed.
It is important to note that a transforming President has to ask for and encourage this pressure from the citizenry, much as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the 1930s.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book is The Seventeen Traditions.Tags: consumer groups, new york times, betty furness, corporate chieftains <BR/> keep looking »