Ralph On

support for Ralph Nader’s candidacy

Archive for the ‘primaries’ Category

Let’s “think about” rather than just “believe in” change.

Posted by eggman on March 2, 2008

Let’s all come clean. We americans have a funny little tic that is very easy for people from other parts of the world to notice but is nonetheless as invisible to us as oxygen. I’ve become aware of this idiosyncracy during time living overseas — and my hosts have been very willing to point it out, because it’s something that drives them crazy. It’s also what makes European politicians salivate. If only they could import what the americans have, then politics would get a lot easier for them.

I’m referring to our obsession with abstract nouns and our hostility for the specific. We love to occupy ourselves with big undefineable notions that elicit feelings of spiritual belonging and purpose. We love the story of the hero, of the courageous explorer who looks over the western horizon, beyond the setting sun, and sees Opportunity and Hope. We don’t give a $h*t about what we might be stepping in while looking off into infinity. We can’t be bothered to avert our gaze. Any discussion of the present must make reference to the Great Beyond, Our Destiny, Our Hope. Reference to the specific is only tolerated to the extent that it activates our connection to the Big Purpose.

Too many Obama supporters want to Believe in Change, so much so that they have no time for wee specifics. Some americans are sick of standing in the $h*t and being asked to look beyond the setting sun for our next hero to deliver us to Our Destiny. Some of us can no longer be distracted by Big Abstract bu11$hiT. We’re aware of the big specifics — big fuel bills,
big insurance premiums, big war price tag, big scams perpetrated on the public by colluding politicians and corporate lobbyists, big anxiety over job security and wages, big stress over debt, big worries over affordable housing and tenant’s rights, big heartburn over student loans. And some of us are very angry about being labelled as “deluded” for being concerned about these trivial little specifics, especially when the insults are lobbed from the cultists of Church of Change Belief.

I plead with Obama supporters to look carefully at where Obama stands on these specific issues. Stop staring at the Sun for a moment. Stop dreaming of JFK and MLK and Jesus Christ superstar. Did you know that he does not support single payer health care? Did you know that Ralph Nader does? Do you think that health care costs can be controlled in our insurance based system? Do you not think that federalizing thievery will make us all paupers?

Make Obama a better candidate. Force him to address a few specifics. Give specific issues some respect by giving Nader some respect. I’m inclined to think that Obama could possibly deliver on some important issues, but we must lean on him harder than wealthy interests do. He’s taking a turn to the right, and I see too many lemmings willing to run after him, too busy staring over the horizon to see the danger ahead.

Posted in barack obama, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Nader vs. Fundamentalist Liberals

Posted by eggman on February 27, 2008

Posted to CounterPunch.org, Michael Colby’s masterful polemic spares no sympathy for the fundamentalist liberals who want to waste all of their energy having a crack at Nader, rather than demanding more from their ordained candidates.

“It’s sadly comical to me to see the fundie liberals bash Nader while he’s calling for universal health care but give Obama a pass for leaving more than 15 million Americans uninsured in his so-called solution. Or bash Nader for his role in “causing” the Iraq war but giving Clinton–and a majority of her Dem colleagues — a pass for actually voting for it. Or blaming Nader for the entirety of the Bush years while refusing to acknowledge the real blame that rests at the feet of the fundamentalist Dems who have done little but play along for eight years–remember, it was only ONE Dem (Feingold) who opposed the Patriot Act.

For the Dems, the solution to the Nader candidacy is not to call for a repugnant and chilling rebuke of his Constitutional rights but to strengthen their own issue resolve so that the Nader option wouldn’t be necessary. But they’re refusing to do so, instead zeroing in on a candidate–Obama–who is mostly hype and hope and very, very little substance or resume. It’s Obama–not Nader–who is in bed with the nuclear industry and its lobbyists. It’s Obama–not Nader–who won’t say a peep about reining in Wall Street. It’s Obama–not Nader–who won’t promote universal health care. It’s Obama–not Nader–who won’t even mention the Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. And it’s Obama–not Nader–who doesn’t have a track record for standing up and speaking up even when it’s not very popular to do so.”

Posted in barack obama, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Bryan Young in defense of Nader

Posted by eggman on February 27, 2008

There’s a great piece by Bryan Young on the Huffington Post making the argument for the necessity of Nader’s candidacy. He concisely sums up what is on the mind of many Nader supporters.

“A candidate should be willing to work hard to earn every vote, not just those in the middle and take those at the base of their party for granted. So, Ralph Nader is running again this year. And instead of pleading and complaining for him to leave the race, why don’t we complain to the eventual Democratic nominee (Obama or Clinton) to fight just as hard for Nader votes as McCain votes?

We need a shift left in this country and everyone knows it. Maybe Ralph Nader running will focus the debate even further left, back to the politics of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We need a new Roosevelt now more than ever after the Great Bush Depression and adding Nader to the race increases the chances of that happening.

If Clinton or Obama want to be president, they should work hard to represent everyone, not just the swing votes and I truly think Ralph Nader is the counter-weight that will force them to stay grounded.

Maybe then we can start taking care of our citizens again instead of the corporate elite.”

Posted in barack obama, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Left using right wing playbook on Nader

Posted by eggman on February 27, 2008

Right wing tactics are being used to discredit Ralph Nader’s candidacy. The game is to attack Nader’s personal motivations and mental state, portray him as a demented senile old nutter in need of attention — all things of which we can know nothing about and which make no reference to any actual arguments made by Ralph and his supporters.

Here are a few examples.

From a “Z Politics” post titled “Why I Hate Ralph Nader“:

“I agree with him on those issues but he has no business running for President. He is not running for President because he cares about his country. He is running for President because he is selfish and he enjoys playing the role of the spoiler.”

From a “Politics and Religion” post titled “Ralph Nader the Hater Enters the Race“:

“Oh Ralph Nader, you’re so silly (…) I mean, we can all see through his “righteousness” reasons. Frankly, I think he just wants his 15min of fame in these historical times”

Posted on Cape Cod Today is an editorial title “George W. Bush didn’t cause 4,000 American troops to die, Ralph Nader did“, which begins:

“If Ralph Nader had not decided his ego was more important than America’s safety, Al Gore would have been elected President in 2000 and George W. Bush and his neo-con maniacs could not have invaded the Middle East and turned half the world against our country and put our nation in jeopardy for decades to come.

And the bastard wants to do it again.”

How about this one titled “Ralph Nader: Turd in the Campaign Punch Bowl“, from which I select the kindest quotation:

“Would you want your cranky-ass grandmother in the Oval Office, constantly lecturing you about wearing your seatbelt and telling you to pull your pants up?”

Have a look at this cartoon making the rounds, titled “Unsafe at Any Speed” in which Nader is depicted as a frail, senile old man pushing his walker menacingly into the race.

Posted in barack obama, bob herbert, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Bob Herbert’s denuciation of Nader’s candidacy (and single payer health care)

Posted by eggman on February 26, 2008

Bob Herbert offers his opinion this morning, as he is paid to do, in opposition to Nader’s candidacy. While Herbert assumes a less vitriolic tone than most bloggers have in the past 24hrs, the message is the same — Ralph was once a great guy but is now washed up, deluded, and bent on destruction.

I generally like Herbert, so when I don’t agree with his thesis I search carefully to find where my argument diverges from his. I found the following sequence from Herbert’s editorial particularly illustrative of where this divergence occurs.

He is busy expressing his outrage over the ballot-access difficulties of independent candidates, and the iniquities of the Bush administration, which, in Mr. Nader’s view, is “the most impeachable presidency in modern history.”

He wants to talk about a single-payer health plan, “full Medicare for all,” and a national mission to abolish poverty, and the waste, fraud and corruption that has turned the military budget into a world-class destroyer of taxpayer dollars, and corporate crime.

He won’t countenance the idea that there might be something destructive about his candidacy.

Herbert is saying that paving the way for Hillary or Obama is so critically important that he is willing to see a few issues placed aside — issues such as health care, corporate crime, fraud and corrupt military spending.

I am saying that these issues are so critically important that ANY contingency under which they are set aside would “be something destructive”. My anger over the state of our health care has gotten to this level. If journalists of Herbert’s stature are willing to give Obama and Hillary a pass on such crucial issues, then people like myself are left with no one else to turn to but Ralph.

These aren’t just little pet issues that we argue over because it suits some psychological requirement to establish our identity, to feel needed, to have our egos stroked. Thousands of dollars in medical bills issued to people working 50 hrs a week are REAL. Staying away from the doctor’s office for fear of further economic catastrophe is REAL. Maybe it isn’t real for Bob Herbert, but it has been for me and many other Americans. Our anger is REAL. It’s not a mere abstraction upon which to construct arguments that will persuade others to get a good feeling when we talk.

Want to make Ralph obselete? Then make our democratic candidates discuss these issues. When Dennis Kucinich was laughed at, bullied by the press, kicked off the main stage, with very few journalists willing to get his back… that’s when the DNC and press corps made it very clear where they stand on these critical issues. They are a joke to them. What are people like me supposed to do? Laugh along? We’re furious, and Ralph is our only hope —not because he will be elected and change things. I’m not deluded into the thinking that he will. Ralph is our only hope at giving these crucial issues the respect that they deserve.

But to Bob Herbert, bringing these issues up in a presidential campaign is apparently equivalent to being pestered by a pathetic old nattering Lebanese baker, when customers like Herbert just want to enjoy their sweet pastries in peace.

Posted in barack obama, bob herbert, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

An intelligent analysis of the reaction to Nader

Posted by eggman on February 25, 2008

P M Carpenter has posted an excellent analysis of the hysterical reaction to Nader’s candidacy by progressives. An analogy is drawn between Nader/Obama-bashing progressives who defend Hillary Clinton and right wing idealogues whose visceral reaction to undesirable external data resembles a response to cognitive dissonance. From the post:

Of these Democrats and loosely party-affiliated bloggers, roughly half, let’s say (likely more, but let’s just say half), lean to the progressive camp. And of this subset, we can further reasonably assume that roughly half in turn are, or were, either in the Clinton camp or at least had no fundamental philosophical objections to it. Hillary is, or would have been, just fine with them.

Which is to say, the one “progressive” candidate who openly, stridently, swinishly violated the most fundamental precept of cherished progressive doctrine — that this nation should never, ever even contemplate war without intolerable provocation — would be a fine and dandy nominee.

Ralph Nader, however, who openly and stridently opposed the violation of this most fundamental precept, is to be met and countered with fear and fury.

In short, with philosophical respect to this subset of a subset, a progressive candidate who devotedly upholds progressive tenets is to be denounced and ostracized; a progressive candidate who opportunistically spits in progressive faces is to be warmly embraced.

The colossal, back-flipping hypocrisy of it all is not only stunning, it’s sadly reminiscent of the very crowd — the right-wing lunatic fringe — that so many of these same progressives have smugly ridiculed for decades, and for the same reason.

I should note that the cited post is by no means an endorsement of Nader. It was simply an analysis of the reaction that he has provoked.

Posted in barack obama, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Obama disrespects Nader and his supporters

Posted by eggman on February 25, 2008

In response to the news that Nader has entered the race, Obama demonstrated his aptitude for democratic party sloganing. Why think and argue when you can use snappy one liner comebacks devoid of content? Here’s what he said about Nader, according to CNN.

“He thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush and, eight years later, I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about,” Sen. Barack Obama said at a town hall meeting Sunday.

(…)

Obama also criticized Nader earlier this weekend. “My sense is that Mr. Nader is somebody who, if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive,” he told reporters when asked about Nader’s possible candidacy.

“He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work.”

In what speech did Nader ever allege that there was “no difference between Al Gore and George Bush”? I can’t find it, because he never said it, nor is he now alleging no difference between McCain and Obama. But he would like to see a different Obama. In fact, on Meet the Press yesterday Nader was asked to comment on this very question.

MR. RUSSERT: But you do see differences between Barack Obama and John McCain on the war, on tax cuts, on the environment, on a lot of issues?

MR. NADER: Yeah. There are differences, obviously. The question is not whether their differences verbally or what they put on their Web site, the question is what is their record? Senator Obama’s record has not been a challenging one. He’s not been a Senator Wellstone or Senator Abourezk or Senator Metzenbaum by any means. He has leaned, if anything, more toward the pro-corporate side of, of policymaking. The issue is, do they have the moral courage? Do they have the fortitude to stand up against the corporate powers and get things done? Yes, get things done for the American people?

1950, President Truman proposed universal health care. We still don’t have it. We have the worst tax system, perverse incentives that rewards the speculators on Wall Street. Why aren’t we taxing speculation on Wall Street instead of heavily taxing human labor and sales taxing necessities like food and appliances and furniture and clothing? There’s no debate on this. William Hartung, the independent military analyst, wrote an article the other day saying there’s no debate on the bloated military budget, on how best to defend this country without breaking the federal budget and putting huge deficits on the backs of our children and their grandchildren. We need to shift the power from the few to the many. And always in American history, every social justice movement was a shift of power from the few to the many. Maybe the slogan should be “Power to the babies.”

I’m very sorry to Obama and all his supporters who think it’s mean and dirty to require the political debate to be elevated above sloganing and the creation of happy feelings. I’m very sorry that they think that there’s no room in their democracy for candidates who want to raise a few issues that aren’t being talked about by the democrat or republican front runners. Yes, we DO need substantive discussion, and if Obama doesn’t want to engage in anything more than sloganing, then he is in my estimation “not substantive”. How incredibly rude and foolish it is for the democratic candidates to suggest that my candidate of choice doesn’t deserve equal access to our democratic process, or that my vote is being stolen from them. Obama must have a “pretty high opinion of his own work”.

Posted in barack obama, clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Why Ralph?

Posted by eggman on February 24, 2008

Why Ralph? Because somebody needs to ask the “ordained” candidates a few questions. We need more than slogans. Obama “believes in change”, but not in single payer health care. Why won’t Obama or Hilary discuss structural change in our health care system? How can they believe that throwing more money at the same system will alleviate the skyrocketing costs? Why not discuss those systems that work much better in other western industrialized countries? Why wouldn’t they also work in the USA? HOw will Obama’s and Hilary’s solutions treat rising costs and personal bankruptcy caused by our insane insurance-based health care system?

Health care is just one issue that demonstrates the answer to the question “Why Nader?”. Because he’ll ask the questions that aren’t being asked, let alone answered.

America ought to belong to it’s citizens, not the political upper class. The political upper class is saying that only ordained democrats and republicans may participate in our democracy as candidates. DO they own the democractic process? I’ll decide where to place my vote. As far as I can tell, Nader is the only candidate discussing issues that I care about. Instead of attacking the legitimacy of his candidacy, I suggest that the political upper class would do better to address the issues that Ralph raises.

I don’t seek to vote for an abstract noun — a “change, a “historic moment”, “turning a corner”. I need to vote for an intelligent dialogue on crucial issues that makes reference to specific nouns (e.g., insurance-based versus single payer health care). That’s why we need Ralph in this election.

Posted in clinton, democrats, independent, mccain, nader, obama, politics, primaries, ralph nader, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »