Monday, September 01, 2008


Starting with the US presidential race.  Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader held a Super Rally in Denver Wednesday and took the stage to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land."  Below are some of his opening remarks and you can see the video here:
Ralph Nader: . . . one of the best songs of social justice ever written.  And for those of you concerned, all this [points to confetti] can be recycled. Well, where do we start?  Let's start with something dealing with Colorado.  The Democratic Party Convention selling sky-boxes.  And guess who paid big money for those sky-boxes? Coors.  One million dollars.  How about this one: Excell, one million dollars. Qwest, six million dollars. 
Well, you know, if they are really a part of working people, the way they used to say they were, fifty, sixty years ago, under Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.  They'd have hospitality suites, not for these fat cat corporate lobbyists who are tearing the heart and soul out of America, they'd have hospitality suites for workers, for farm workers, for nurses, for patients trying to get health care, for consumers being ripped off, for students who are being gouged by student loans.  They'd have all kinds of hospitality suites and maybe they ought to go and see how some people in Denver live on the other side of the tracks, to see the poverty and the desperation and the lack of affordable housing and the lack of insurance when they get sick.
This party is sick.  It's decaying.  It's lost its soul.  And its leaders can't ever get up on the stage like at the Pepsi Center -- the Pepsi Center, imagine after you say "The Pepsi Center" -- I'll bet you the tax payer built that center.
You never talk about the poor.  That's a no-no in Democratic Party dictionary.  You talk about the middle class, which they've helped shrink through NAFTA and WTO and all the way they've crushed opposition to corporate power.  Corporate power has crushed so much of its opposition  they've brought trade unions to their knees.  They've made it almost impossible for industrial or commercial workers to even form a trade union because of the Taft-Hartley Law and other obstructive laws that no other western country puts before it workers. 
The Democrats are dialing for the same dollars, the same corporate dollars the Republicans are dialing for.  And they don't even bother covering it up.  They're being winded and dined by the corrupters, the corporate predators, the corporations who have ripped off American consumers and workers that depleted their pensions who are outsourcing your jobs when you get out of college. Who are saying to you when you get out of college, "You got a skill but try getting a good paying job, try getting affordable housing, try getting affordable health insurance, try getting anything that your forebearers were able to get."  You know what you're doing?  I'm talking to young people in the audience, you're the first generation that's ever polled and said they aren't going to be as well off as their parents.
And the indicators are all coming down.  More and more, millions of Americans, not making a living wage, not even close.  Wal-Mart wages.  K-Mart wages. Millions and millions of people who have to get sick or become sicker or even die because they can't afford health insurance.  Just think of that.
This is the richest country in the world and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science, just to give you a fact, says 18,000 people a year in this country die because they can't afford health insurance.  That's six 9-11s. Washington turned the country upside down after . . .  9-11.  In a lot of bad ways, as we know.  They don't turn the country upside down for 58,000 people who die every year from work-related diseases in the mines and foundries.  They don't turn the company upside down for 65,000 Americans who die from asphyxiation or cancer due to air pollution.  They don't turn the country upside down for the 100,000 people who die from medical negligence and  malpractice in hospitals.
They don't turn the country upside down for any form of violence -- however preventable it is -- if it's source is corporate crime, corporate negligence, corporate greed and corporate power.
You know some people ask me this around the country, "Nader, what are you doing this for?  What do you expect to achieve?"  Well look at what we've achieved tonight.  You have seen the young leaders of the future on this stage.  You have seen not only veteran advocates like Cindy Sheehan, you've seen Ashley Sanders.  You've seen Rosa Clemente.  You have seen Nellie McKay.  You've seen someone you're going to hear a lot more of in the next few months, you've seen Rev. J  Wait and see.  He's only 21-years old and he's breaking away from this notion that although many of us have always hoped there would be an African-American ascended to the presidency of the United States.  He's saying something more than that.  He's saying that's not enough, that may be an unprecedented career move into the White House but it's got to mean more than that, it's got to mean standing up to the corporate subjugation of the American people.  It's got to mean pushing forward a war against poverty.  It's got to mean coming from your background, something more than if it were just a White man or White woman in the White House, it's got to mean a peculiarly insistent sensitivity to the bottom 100 million Americans in this country who are at the bottom of the income scale: African-Americans, poor Whites, Latinos who do the most dangerous work, who do the most dangerous work for us, who do the most thankless work for us, who raise our children, take care of our children, be with our ailing parents, harvest our food, service us in all kinds of ways while they're underpaid and overcharged, while they're excluded. While they're disrespected.  While their marginalized.  And the only time they're held up before the country is when they ask them to go overseas and fight our criminal wars for us.