Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Ralph Nader

Posted by alifinmath on March 19, 2008

I was just watching Nader being extensively interviewed on Channel 76 (the channel that has all the foreign new services: BBC, Deutsche Welle, etc.). I’m a long-time admirer of his crusading zeal. I saw the biographical film, An Unreasonable Man, in an Uptown cinema last year; it provided an in-depth look at what he achieved in, inter alia, car safety and customer rights. He’s the antithesis of malevolent slugs like Kissinger, Cheney, and Rumsfeld (or take your pick from slightly less malevolent Democrat office-holders). And he’s running for president. Yet again. I don’t know why he bothers. I gave up all hope in the country a looong time ago. I’m reminded of the film, Alien Resurrection,  where the spaceship computer announces: “This ship is now uninhabitable.” This is the situation in the USA today: you have these monsters running amok, and there’s no countering them. Resistance is futile. The only sensible course of action is to jump ship (if you can). Hundreds of thousands of Americans already have. In the future, the USA will morph into a dystopian fantasy: a combination of debtor’s prison and massive slave colony, with a financial and military overclass. This is emphatically not the fledgling republic of two centuries ago.

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7 Responses to “Ralph Nader”

  1. Chris Prouty said

    I, for one, welcome our credit-pushing alien overlords.

  2. Anonym said

    As for realistic presidential choices, my hope is for Hillary Clinton (despite her flaws) as the least bad candidate. It’s increasingly clear to me that John McCain would continue George W. Bush’s failed foreign policy for another 4 years. And if the Democrats nominate Barrack Obama, the media will turn on him (we’re already seeing the outlines) and blue collar “Archie Bunker” voters will hold their noses and vote McCain. The upshot being, 4 more years of militarization of American society. Of course this is all conjecture on my part. Beyond the viability of a President Obama, I simply do not trust him not to be beholden to overly ambitious “change.”

    Now, while it’s true that Hillary Clinton voted for the war in 2002 (and then subsequently blamed the Iraqis for its failure), she’s shown political flexibility and has since focused her criticism on the Bush administration. This kind of “flip-flopping” or the ability to correctly change course given new information/opportunity is precisely what we need.

  3. alifinmath said

    There’s too much emphasis on personalities in US politics — for the simple reason that the average American boob can’t think abstractly, and in terms of economic and social policies. And even if he can, the barrage of stupefying mass media propaganda focuses insistently on the trivial and personal (Did the candidate use drugs thirty years ago? Is there a rumor of a naughty sexual liaison ten years ago?).

    While it’s oversimplifying matters to simply call the president a figurehead as he (or she) does have leeway, room to manoeuvre, it’s also equally silly to ignore the candidate’s/president’s real constituency — his or her financial backers. The United States, after all, is a pay-to-play society: you get what you pay for. If — like the average American voter — you don’t pay anything and have nothing but your close-to-worthless vote, politicians will make soothing and placatory speeches in your general direction to get your vote, the rubber stamp of your approval, and then proceed to shaft you in favor of those who have paid real money. So perhaps this is why we call the USA “the best democracy money can buy.”

    Look at the money behind Obama and Clinton: they run first and second among Democrats and Republicans in contributions from the following industries: commercial banks, computers/internet, education, health professionals, pharmaceuticals, television and film. Clinton and Obama are nearly tied in contributions from hedge funds and private equity funds (Source: International Socialist Review, March 2008). The only difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the former get more money from big oil and the military-industrial companies whereas the latter get more of theirs from “new money.” But both are beholden to moneyed interests in this greatest of all plutocracies. And both are reactionary to the same extent.

    It is a mistake to think that Obama will cause any real “change” beyong the superficial and cosmetic. He is beholden to moneyed interests. The road to success for a politician is to raise money from well-to-do vested interests (whom he must subsequently pay back with interest) while at the same time making vague noises about “change,” reform, and progress to get votes. We’ve seen this all before.

    Behind the ploy of taking money from the rich while making fork-tongued speeches to the electorate lie even more sinister motives (though never voiced and never suspected): people’s disquiet shoud get channeled into “reform,” “engagement,” “participation,” and “dialogue.” The disquiet should never be allowed to assume the form of rebellion, revolt, and revolution. Any real challenge to the establishment will be treated swiftly and ruthlessly: the organisers and fomenters will be promptly assassinated. The velvet gloves will be off and the iron hand will act.

    This is why I lost all faith in the US a long time ago: this is an oligarchy, a plutocracy, where the motions are gone through periodically, but where everything is so ossified, so controlled, that it doesn’t make any difference.

    Hitler, Himmler, and Heydrich would be drooling at the US system of mass media propaganda, at US intelligence and surveillance powers (domestically and internationally), and the system of US bases abroad. This is empire of the sort that would have been Hitler’s wet dream. The US is an authoritarian state assuming an ever more totalitarian emphasis. I reiterate: this is not the fledgling republic of two centuries ago.

    Postscript: This is from an FT blog: “In his regular campaign appearances, Obama’s goal is simply to pump up the crowd with vague and vacuous applause lines. He is a master at producing euphoria. At one campaign stop, he was even cheered to the rafters simply for blowing his nose.”

  4. Anonym said

    I agree with much of what you have to say as to the vacuousness of U.S. politics, but I remain particularly disturbed by the possibility of too vicious an anti-American president in the form of Barrack Obama. It’s one thing for bloggers and their commenters toiling in relative obscurity to criticize the course of American foreign or fiscal policy, but winning respect in the world won’t come through excessive self-flagellation.

  5. alifinmath said

    Out of curiosity, has Obama made *any* specific policy commitments of any hue or stripe? Or is it just the mantras of “change,” “yes we can,” etc. being repeated ad nauseam? Has Clinton made *any* specific policy commitments?

    If Buchanan were running, I’d back him.

    I agree with Duke’s sentiments, which can be found here. Duke has other reasons for being disgusted with these three than just Israel (e.g. he’s against “free” trade, believes in protectionism, and so on, which I also concur with).

  6. Anonym said

    Offhand, I’m not aware of any specific commitments made by either Obama or Clinton. But I’m not such a fool as some to believe that electing a president who doesn’t hesitate to grotesquely criticize the U.S. in public will win us genuine respect in any other country. More likely, they’ll see it as pathetic and even more of a signal to short the U.S. Perhaps I’m overreaching for an analogy here, but we need a Putin, not a Yeltsin. And for those who have a knee-jerk reaction against Vladimir Putin, please note that he didn’t invade a foreign country under false pretenses, yet managed to vastly improve Russia’s previously dismal economic position. Moreover, he tried to save us from ourselves by opposing the Iraq war (even if that was a calculated move from a Russian perspective… he was right.) Apologies for changing the subject somewhat with my own firebrand (if factual) rhetoric.

  7. johnofsilence said

    Open the debates! First one is Friday!

    I’m not a bot, I know you care about the democracy of our government, so we need to get this done. There are 6 Presidential candidates this year all of which are qualified and capable of winning, so why are there only 2 people on the debate! Bigotry, two party bias! Let’s flood the email inbox and the phone lines with: Open the Debates.

    It takes 5 mins. Please help me make a difference . Below is a script but please feel free to appropriately modify it to support your candidate .

    Step one:

    Call Barack Obama at 866-675-2008.
    Hit 6 to speak with a campaign volunteer.
    Once connected, politely deliver the following message:

    Hi, my name is …

    I was wondering if Senator Obama, being a believer in equal opportunity and equal rights, could insist that Ralph Nader and other ballot qualified third party candidates be included in the upcoming Presidential debates?
    After all, Nader is on 45 state ballots.
    And he’s polling well nationwide. And he could help Senator Obama challenge the corporate Republicans.
    True, Ralph would critique Senator Obama for his corporate ties also. But isn’t that what democracy is about? Could you please leave this message for the campaign manager? Thank you.

    Step two:

    E-mail Janet Brown jb@debates.org, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

    Here’s a sample e-mail:

    Dear Janet Brown:

    Greetings. You must be busy. Preparing for the first Presidential debate this Friday. So, I won’t take much of your time. Just wanted to let you know that the American people were not born yesterday. We know the deal. Take that little private corporation that you run. Controlled by the two corporate parties. And funded by big business. For the purpose of excluding independent minded candidates. Friday, two Wall Street candidates are scheduled to be in the ring. Barack Obama and John McCain. The one candidate who represents the American people, Main Street, if you will, will be on the outside looking in. So, here’s a simple request. Drop your exclusionary restrictions. And let Ralph Nader into the debates.
    It will be good for your conscience. Good for the American people. (I believe it was The League of Women Voters that called your corporatized debates “campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity, and honest answers to tough questions.”) And good for democracy. Let the American people have a real debate for once. Main Street vs. Wall Street.

    Thank you.

    Signed
    your name.

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