[sixties-l] Nation on Nader, etc.

From: Ted Morgan (epm2@lehigh.edu)
Date: Sat Sep 09 2000 - 14:56:26 CUT

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    I' m passing two items regarding Ralph Nader along to the list. The
    first of these, interestingly enough (for this list, especially), is a
    Nation editorial on "Nader-for-President" in 1975! The second is a
    recent article from Corporate Watch on the close links between
    Gore-Lieberman and the globalizing corporate sector that is increasingly
    pervasive. The latter tends to focus on the specific aspects of
    corporatism that Gore and Lieberman personally have embraced with
    enthusiasm (and precisely the kind of stuff Nader has spent his entire
    life opposing).

    On a personal note, I'm trying to counteract the creeping
    'lesser-of-two-evilism' that the media have been hyping ever since
    before the Democratic convention --i.e., ever since Nader showed up on
    their radar charts ("Nader the 'Spoiler'") --with considerable effect,
    note the polls!. Some "progressives" and "liberals" (including some on
    this list) are scared by the prospect of a Bush presidency. As someone
    who follows this stuff (including the S.Court) pretty closely, I feel
    the fears of what "Bush can do" are enormously exaggerated, especially
    relative to what Gore will do on the exact same issues of concern (and
    of course, for the record, Nader is vastly better on precisely these
    same issues). Meanwhile, in contrast
    to the media glitz, this world is deterioriating in many ways, and, in
    my view the key cause is the globalization of capitalism (or corporate
    power, or whatever you want to call it). Clinton/Gore and the
    Democratic Party have been wildly enthusiastic supporters of this path.
    So, whether or not Nader wins is irrelevant because he offers the best
    electoral chance we've had in, oh, some 28 years (cf. the Nation) to
    begin to get across to the system and the larger public that it (the
    system) is broken, it cannot continue forever the way its going
    (ecologically, to say nothing of the devastating effects of massive
    inequality & squalid poverty), so we as a society (and as a globe) have
    got to re-think & start moving toward real democracy. Real change is
    only going to happen through a combination of forces --grass-roots
    activism, leading to & connected with mass mobilization, coupled with
    electoral activity that doesn't trap people in 'business-as-usual.'
    It's not going to happen "in the streets" alone.

    My fear, if that's the right word, is that I'll live the rest of my life
    in a country that never wakes up. Alas, too, it happens to be the
    country that is crucially responsible, in taking the lead, for so much
    of this global devastation & deterioration.

    I urge you to read this.

         August 30, 1975

         "Ralph Nader for President"--don't dismiss the idea as just "a
         wistful dream," The Nation urges, in this August 30, 1975
         unsigned editorial.

         The Raider

         Try saying it to yourself--"Ralph Nader for President." It's a
         that sparks on the tongue; it peps you up, like a sudden shower on
         muggy afternoon. So before dismissing it as a wistful dream,

         An organization in California, The Draft Nader for President Club
         Los Angeles, is beating this drum and has come up with some
         interesting facts. Last November, when the tide of 1976 was just
         beginning to be felt, the Gallup poll ran a name-awareness, or
         popularity, survey of thirty-one Democrats who had been mentioned
         as Presidential possibilities. Nader placed fifth--ahead of Eugene
         McCarthy, Morris Udall and Henry Jackson. An earlier Drummond
         poll, asking "What kind of President do you want in 1976?" placed
         Nader among the top ten, ahead of Kennedy, Wallace and Muskie.

         Not being a politician, Ralph Nader did not see this sort of
         as a reason to jump upon a horse and start whooping it up across
         country. Indeed, his greatest handicap as a candidate is that he
         never shown the faintest sign of wanting to be President. But once
         idea like this gets rolling, and the Los Angeles group is pushing
         it can gain momentum very rapidly. And Nader is not a man to turn
         his back on a job that needs to be done, if he is qualified to do

         And what qualifications does he have? He is a man of enormous
         energy, with an uncanny gift for getting people to dedicate
         to the goal he envisions, a firm belief in the basic institutions
         democracy and a determination to make them work. He is beholden
         to no one and, the record shows, afraid of no one. What his foreign

         policy would be we do not know, but it is not unlikely that he is
         without one. It is also true that he has never run for office and
         experience in politics is thought to be a prerequisite for the
         the less than satisfactory result that we invariably get hardened
         politicians in the White House.

         It is hard to estimate what a campaign would cost Nader in energy
         and money, but the public could hardly fail to be the gainer. If he

         won, it might be a new beginning for the country, but win or lose,
         could not fail to raise the level of the upcoming race. Norman
         Thomas was a perennial Presidential candidate who never came
         close to winning. But it is hard to say that he lost, since
         everything he ever proposed in his campaigns has by now become
         part of the law of the land. Try it again: "Nader for President."
    [TM] This came off of the web-page [www.commondreams.org] --which is an
    excellent source of news relevant to progressives of various stripes,
    mostly articles gleaned on a daily basis from mainstream newspapers, but

    including other sources like this one and some British papers as well
    (some of the best stuff from the Guardian). You can make it your 'home'

    page so you see "today's news-of-interest" in headline form each time
    you go to the web (and can read or not read as you like). I highly
    recommend it. For those less radical than myself, it doesn't have the
    'tone-of-assumptions' you sometimes get in more radical sources like Z
    Magazine, for example.]

    2) Published on Friday, September 8, 2000 in Corporate Watch
          Al Gore: Friend of Corporate America
          Al Gore has raised more money than any other Democratic
          presidential candidate in history. But his pandering to rich and
          powerful comes at a cost to the public.
          by Bill Messler

          Washington DC -- Molten Metal Technology was a company bound to
    fail. For thirty years a
          succession of others had tried what the company hoped to do:
    reprocess nuclear waste into
          non-radioactive metals that could be remarketed. None succeeded.

          Molten Metal never did manage to reprocess nuclear waste. But it
    sure made a lot of money
          trying. During the Clinton administration, the company received
    $27 million in research
          grants from the Department of Energy--more than all 17 other
    companies that applied for the
          same grants received combined. Despite a 1995 DOE report that
    reprocessing would not
          work, the contracts continued all the way up until the company
    went finally went bust in

          It might not have made sense from a scientific or business
    standpoint. But it made a lot of
          sense to the money-men that run the Democratic party. The company
    was one of the first
          donors to the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1996, for which they
    received a thank you note from
          the presidential ticket's campaign manager Peter Knight. The note
    underscored that the
          company had earned "a special place of significance with the Vice
    President." The Molten
          Metal was also paying Knight an $84,000-a-year retainer at the

          Less than two weeks before the donation, Gore had visited a Molten

    Metal factory in Falls
          River, Massachusetts, where he told reporters: "Molten Metal is a
    success story, a shining
          example of American ingenuity, hard work and business know-how."

          When he accepted the Democratic nomination last month, Al Gore
    told the nation that he
          wants to be president to take on "big tobacco, big oil, the big
    polluters, the pharmaceutical
          companies, the H.M.O.s." As the Democratic Candidate turns to
    populist rhetoric to win the
          election, it is worth noting that corporate America isn't exactly
    shaking in its boots at the
          prospect of a Gore presidency. In fact, he has long been known in
    the White House as
          "Solicitor in Chief" for his fundraising prowess.

          The story of Molten Metal, and the numerous other corporate
    Democratic donors who have
          received preferential treatment from the administration, shows
    that corporate welfare is alive
          and well in Washington. And the money pouring into Al Gore's
    campaign war chest ($52
          million so-far and growing fast) shows that corporate America
    knows it has a friend in Al
          Gore. He has already raised more money than any other Democratic
    presidential candidate
          in history. Perhaps even more telling, the Democratic party itself

    has almost achieved parity
          with Republicans in soft money.

          "When you look at Clinton and Gore in particular, you have to see
    them in terms of their
          success in raising huge amounts of money for their campaigns,"
    says Peter Eisner,
          managing director of the Center for Public Integrity. "The Clinton

    administration and Gore
          are part of a system that infects both parties that allows
    corporate influence to gain access
          to the halls of power and distort our political process."

          The money has been pouring in from all kinds of corporate special
    interests. There is money
          from high-tech firms which don't want to be taxed. There is money
    from banks and
          securities brokers appreciative of the administration's
    deregulation of the finance industry.
          Even the Democratic convention was financed by a host of
          telecom giants like AT&T (which gave $1 million to both the
    Democratic and GOP
          conventions), union-buster Sprint and BellSouth.

          As one health care industry lobbyist, gushing over the selection
    of Joe Lieberman as
          running mate, told the New York Times, the Gore/Lieberman ticket
    was only feigning
          populism "as a political ploy." When he's not campaigning, Gore's
    heart is with the money
          in corporate America.

          Telecom Giants

          Of the numerous corporate interests behind Al Gore, none have
    ponied up as much dough
          as the communications and high tech sector. The industry gave $10
    million to Gore and the
          Democrats (ten percent of the total to date) have raised some
    eyebrows as to what exactly
          it is buying. So has the $98 million the industry spent on
    lobbying last year. Some of it is a
          reward for services rendered: telephone companies have had
    relatively free reign to merge
          and have seen little regulation. "The industry got what it wanted
    [under Clinton Gore]," David
          Beckwith, spokesman for the National Cable Television Association,

    recently told the
          Associated Press.

          Take Gore's ugly treatment of 235 phone workers fired by Sprint
    for attempting to unionize
          in 1998. The AFL-CIO called the case one of the decade's most
    blatant violations of
          workers' right to unionize. At a meeting with the mostly Latina
    workers in Los Angeles,
          Gore promised to take on Sprint. But Sprint, led by
    arch-conservative Bill Esrey, had been a
          big supporter of Clinton/Gore in 1996 and was gearing up to
    support Gore in 2000. Esrey
          had even told a group of business leaders during the 1996 campaign

    that "There is a
          growing realization that Democrat Bill Clinton has been good for

          Gore never lifted a finger against the company. And Sprint
    continues to provide the White
          House with much of its long-distance service. Gore even used his
    influence to soften a
          Labor Department report on the Sprint dispute, according to one of

    the report's authors. The
          National Labor Relations Board eventually ruled in favor of the
    workers, but the company
          has bogged the decision down in appeals.

          Selling Off the Internet

          Meanwhile the prize high tech companies are fighting for is the
    future of the Internet itself.
          And although Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, he could down in
    history as the president
          who gave it away.

          Today the Internet is one of the most democratic forms of media
    around. Everyone pays the
          same to post their sites and websites receive relatively the same
    service. Consumer
          advocates say big conglomerates are seizing control of the Net.

          "The industry wants to be able to decide who gets on the fast pipe

    and the slow pipe with
          impunity," says Consumer Project on Technology director Jamie
    Love. "It raises profound
          issues, changing the open-access character of the Internet."

          The only answer is regulation, but Gore has come down decidedly
    against Internet
          regulation--and against taxing Internet transactions. The Gore
    campaign website says one
          of the priorities of president Gore will be pursuing "an
    international agreement to make
          'cyberspace' a permanent 'duty-free zone,' so that U.S. companies
    can sell goods around
          the world, via the Internet, without duties."

          Gore has even come down on the wrong side when it comes to the
    administration's biggest
          anti-corporate crime success, the prosecution of Microsoft. Most
    Americans see the
          company as a target of the Clinton administration. But some close
    to the case say the real
          architect of anti-monopoly proceedings was Attorney General Janet
    Reno, who proceeded
          with the investigation despite objections from the White House.
    The Administration, for its
          part, publicly called for a negotiated settlement every step of
    the way. So far Microsoft has
          given the Gore campaign and the DNC $391,000 in the current
    election cycle.

          Cable and Multi-Media

          Another industry buying a place at the Gore table is the cable
    industry. Their generosity
          helped pave the way for increased mega-mergers, which have met
    little opposition from the
          administration. "A lot of money has been spent to influence these
    decisions," says Gary
          Larson, a telecom consultant for the Center for Media Education.
    "With the introduction of
          cable broadband, you can say 'gee we are getting 60 channels.' But

    in reality it is the
          illusion of choice." He explains. " Fewer and fewer companies are
    providing the content you
          watch. You are getting a larger menu from the same restaurant."

          Cable companies have grown brazenly monopolistic under the current

    administration, as
          evidenced by Time/Warner's recent blacking out ABC from entire
    regions over a financial

          Multi-media provider Disney has also been a big supporter of Gore.

    Responding to a request
          from Tipper, the company provided the Vice President and his wife
    with free Holloween
          costumes worth $8,600, in violation of the Ethics in Government
    Act. When the costumes
          were reported in the Washington Post, Disney was repaid by the
    Democratic National
          Committee. Later Gore and Disney chairman Michael Eisner were
    regularly seen chumming
          it up in Washington while the company was seeking Interior
    Department approval for a new
          theme park. "Disney's America," was set to open next to the Bull
    Run battlefield in
          Manassas Virginia, but the plan was nixed by Disney as it became
    clear the community
          wouldn't stand for it.

          But the oddest part of the Disney/Gore alliance was yet to come.
    Disney-known for it's
          "family" image-- enlisted the Vice President's help fighting the
    1998 Child Online Protection
          Act, designed to limit children's access to pornographic websites.

    Gore, who called for
          censoring rock lyrics in the 1980's, dispatched domestic policy
    advisor David Bier, to kill the
          legislation. After the beating Disney and Gore took in the press
    when the story finally
          emerged, the Vice President tried to help the company's p.r.
    situation by inviting Disney
          executives to the White House for "a summit on Internet

          Gore Picks a Friend of Big Business

          The selection of Joe Lieberman as number two on the Democratic
    ticket should reassure
          corporate America. Especially the health care industry, a big
    Lieberman backers over the
          years. Lieberman did the industry a service by helping to defeat
    universal health coverage.
          The Senator drafted his own less-ambitious plan to counter the
    White House, helping to
          split the Democratic party and ensure that nothing be done.

          Lieberman's selection should also solidify Gore's already strong
    support among banks and
          securities houses. Not only has the administration done nothing to

    curb currency
          speculation abuses, new legislation has made it easier for
    industry mergers. Goldman
          Sachs pushed for the new rules. They've been big contributors to
    both Gore's presidential
          campaign and Lieberman's senate campaign (he had already raised
    $3.3 million despite
          facing almost no opposition).

          Arms manufacturers were another group that surely applauded Gore's

    choice for his running
          mate. While disarmament groups actually had high hopes for
    Lieberman when he was first
          elected to the Senate in 1989, he has since turned into one of the

    Senate's most hawkish
          democrats. He was one of only five (along with Al Gore) to vote in

    favor of the Gulf War. He
          has also consistently opposed arms cuts and cuts in the
    intelligence budget (he has also
          voted to keep the intelligence budget secret). He has voted in
    favor of the unnecessary F-22
          fighter; new Connecticut "Sea Wolf" attack submarines which are
    almost totally useless in
          modern warfare; and for the Star Wars ballistic missile defense

          "Lieberman's motivation is basically the need to protect defense
    jobs in Connecticut," says
          Council for a Livable World analyst Dan Koslofsky. "He understood
    that when the cold war
          was going on these jobs were safe. Once the cold war ended he
    realized this pot of gold
          might not be there, he became more hawkish."

          According to one Congressional staffer, Lieberman is the reason a
    large contingent of
          Connecticut-made Blackhawk helicopters were included in the
    administration's recent
          Colombian military aid package. General Dynamics, the makers of
    the Blackhawk, have
          been big supporters of Lieberman over the years, giving him
    $24,500 for his Senate
          campaign this year.

          "Colombia doesn't even have enough hangers to deal with these
    helicopters," says
          Koslofsky. "Most of them are going to just sit around." With his
    brazen peddling of
          corporate interests, Lieberman should make the perfect match for
    Al Gore. You might say
          they deserve each other.

          Bill Mesler is a Washington-based reporter. His work has appeared
    in the Nation, Mother
          Jones and the Progressive, among other publications.

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