By Jonathan Alter

How Ralph Nader’s Sins Set Trayvon Martin’s Killer Free

March 30, 2012 2:58 pm Category: Memo Pad, Politics 55 Comments A+ / A-
How Ralph Nader’s Sins Set Trayvon Martin’s Killer Free

Oh, Ralph. If Ralph Nader hadn’t gotten under Lewis Powell’s skin, we wouldn’t be having these arguments over whether the individual mandate in Obamacare is unconstitutional.

And “stand your ground” laws — like the one at issue in the Trayvon Martin case — wouldn’t stand a chance in the rest of the country.

And free market conservatives would not be unconsciously defying police and doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association.

Yes, like Edward Lorenz’s “butterfly effect” (where the course of a tornado can be traced all the way back to the flapping of a butterfly’s wings thousands of miles away), it’s all connected, and in ways that should make us more conscious of how we associate ourselves with other political insects.

The butterfly flapping was Powell’s seminal Aug. 23, 1971, “confidential memorandum” to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.”

Powell, two months before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, argued that 1960s-style attacks on free enterprise from college campuses, the pulpit, the news media, liberal politicians and consumer advocates like Nader (whom he singled out as “the single most effective antagonist of American business”) were “quite new in the history of America.” He found it bewildering that “the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.” Business, he wrote, had responded, if at all, by “appeasement, ineptitude and ignoring the problem.”

Powell’s recommendation of a “more aggressive attitude” toward generating conservative books, articles, institutes and television programs bore fruit beyond his wildest dreams. His memo kicked off a sustained conversation among business leaders that led to the creation of hundreds of conservative legal foundations, think tanks and university programs.

Among them were the Heritage Foundation (where, ironically, the idea of an individual mandate was popularized in the 1990s) and the Federalist Society, which has been instrumental in adopting out-of-the-mainstream legal ideas such as a narrow, pre-New Deal interpretation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are all former Federalist Society members.

Families like the Coorses, Kochs, Olins and Scaifes subsidize the spread of conservative ideas with hundreds of millions of dollars. “Appeasement” has given way to fierce and sustained counterattack that has already shifted the center of political debate far to the right and may soon invalidate the centerpiece of a president’s domestic program for the first time in seven decades.

But has this principled support for free enterprise created a gun-toting Frankenstein?

One of the Koch brothers’ causes is the American Legislative Exchange Council, which was founded in 1973 by Illinois State Representative Henry Hyde, conservative activist Paul Weyrich and others to share legislative ideas in “task forces” made up of legislators, conservative foundations and corporations. Over the years, ALEC and its corporate lobbyists have written hundreds of “model bills” and used their muscle to enact them, sometimes verbatim, in dozens of states.

Because fewer reporters cover state government these days, ALEC has mostly operated under the radar. But there’s nothing subtle about it: Corporations seeking contracts, deregulation or other favors from state government fund the campaigns of Republican politicians, and then write the bills with ALEC’s help. All the state legislators need to do is show up and sign before heading off for poker or golf, often with the same lobbyists who just did their jobs for them.

Many national Republicans are also connected to ALEC. Recently, Representative Eric Cantor admitted that he hadn’t reported a $1,350 gift from the organization.

ALEC began with a pro-business agenda but soon started to write bills for the whole right-wing wish list. Now, with the help of the Center for Media and Democracy, people are connecting the dots.

Anyone following the Martin case should learn this chronology: In 2005, an NRA dynamo named Marion Hammer pushed through a “stand your ground” statute in Florida that basically provides a legal justification for anyone to kill anyone if he or she feels threatened. The statute says explicitly that one need not retreat in dangerous situations, though police have long recommended doing just that. The NRA invoked the principle of the so-called “castle doctrine,” though the Florida law does not limit the use of deadly force to the defense of one’s home.

Previously, if you shot and killed someone and claimed self-defense, you nonetheless were usually arrested for at least involuntary manslaughter. You might eventually get off, but the presumption was there was at least cause to interview possible witnesses and investigate.

Hundreds of years of common law and common sense were about to be upended. Shortly after passage, Hammer persuaded ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force (led at the time by a Texas state representative and executives from Wal-Mart and the Heritage Foundation) to adopt the Florida statute as a model bill. Today 24 other states have “stand your ground” statutes, many of them verbatim copies of the Florida law.

So even though police are opposed to empowering vigilantes, would-be George Zimmermans in half the country are entitled to do what he did to Trayvon Martin and escape arrest. No wonder critics call them “Kill at Will” bills.

The chances of repealing the Florida law after the Martin shooting are slim to none. In fact, the NRA-ALEC alliance is still pushing hard to expand its reach.

ALEC has succeeded in restricting voter registration in Florida and other states (hurting Democrats, of course). And the NRA is fighting a group that wants to prevent employees from keeping weapons locked in their cars in company parking lots.

That group is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the recipients of Powell’s famous memo nearly 40 years ago. What goes around comes around.

(Jonathan Alter is a Bloomberg View columnist and the author of “The Promise: President Obama, Year One.” The opinions expressed are his own.)

How Ralph Nader’s Sins Set Trayvon Martin’s Killer Free Reviewed by on . Oh, Ralph. If Ralph Nader hadn’t gotten under Lewis Powell’s skin, we wouldn’t be having these arguments over whether the individual mandate in Obamacare is unc Oh, Ralph. If Ralph Nader hadn’t gotten under Lewis Powell’s skin, we wouldn’t be having these arguments over whether the individual mandate in Obamacare is unc Rating:

More by Jonathan Alter

We love Obamacare

When Obamacare Polls Are Accurate Without Being True

As Republicans form a circular firing squad, nervous Democrats continue to believe that this is a depressing time when the future of Obamacare is on the line. There is some reason for worry: the Koch brothers are spending millions trying to get young people to “opt out” of seeking health insurance at the state level,

Read more...

George W. Bush, Laura Bush, George H.W. Bush

Bush’s Long-Shot Campaign To Be Seen As Truman

April 26 (Bloomberg) — The dedication this week of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was more than an opportunity for the five living U.S. presidents to compare notes on what Stefan Lorant called “the glorious burden” of the office. It also was the beginning of Bush’s campaign for rehabilitation. As Bill Clinton

Read more...

Pat Toomey, Joe Manchin

Congress’s Notorious B.I.G. Agenda Just May Pass

April 12 (Bloomberg) — That sound you’re hearing may be the cracking of gridlock in Washington. Bipartisan bills on three of the big issues of 2013 — the budget, immigration and guns — could pass Congress this spring. If the B.I.G. agenda goes through, the public will cheer, providing incentives for politicians to do more.

Read more...

Tags

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Clark/1105766557 Tom Clark

    You’re kidding, right? As put out as I was about Nader’s role in getting W. elected, you can’t go back and malign his whole career as somehow being a cause of right-wing hysteria and greed. Remember, no Ralph Nader, no consumer advocacy/protection mechanisms.

    This is an unfortunate iteration of an old story: Liberals blaming radicals for ‘provoking’ the reactionaries. “If there just wasn’t an X (say, for example, Soviet Union, then the Y (say, McCarthyists) wouldn’t have so much power.” Substitute any of the following X-Y pairs and you have a summary of the political history of how the left undermines itself. Soviets => McCarthyists; NAACP => Jim Crow perpetrators; unions => worker abusers; assertive women => wife-beaters.

    Note that the excesses/mistakes of the ‘Y’ list here are _always_ a factor and shouldn’t be simply overlooked or excused. But they are _never_ the fundamental problem as suggested by this column. In short this is how the most well-meaning of liberals collude with the worst of the reactionaries and create the worst of the facist, totalitarian regimes. I would’ve expected better from Mr. Alter.

    Tom Clark
    tomcie@gmail.com

    • DMauman

      Tom-
      I didn’t read it as blame….I read it more as irony and unintended/unforeseen consequences – i.e. the reference to Frankenstein……

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Clark/1105766557 Tom Clark

        DMauman… yours is a overly generous reading, I’d say. I can appreciate rhetorical nuance… I just think it backfires here in a dangerous and completely familiar way, from the point of view of progressive alliances against the right.

        So how are the free market propogandists engaged in ‘principled support,’ while Nader, a venerable whistleblower on corporate skullduggery, is engaged in sin…?

        Thanks for responding.

    • rustacus21

      No, not malign an entire career, but he did that to himself!!! He knew the stakes. He also knew – or had to – his chances of winning the 2000 election were less than ZERO!!! So who paid him? It wasn’t about morality, virtues, or some sense of civic obligation, b/c if that was the case, he would have thrown his support to Vice President Gore, out of respect for the people – WE AMERICAN CITIZENS – who have paid the full cost & more, for this ‘decision’. As politically ‘astute’ as he claims to be, he should have even stepped back into the frey, going into 2004, to admit THEN what a huge error it was staying in the race, considering how tax cuts, greed, corruption, war, internal strife & world-wide condemnation (ESPECIALLY due to the fact he’s of Middle E’ern heritage, from Lebanon no less!!! – i.e., the Palestinian situation), had devastated the nation up to that point & as we’ve seen, has turned to an absolute catastrophe. This disaster is completely the fault of the 2001-2009 administration – BUT – made possible only by Nader’s complicity in delivering it in full…

  • sleeprn01

    I think that it is ironic that the GOP did not want activist judges on the supreme court and that is just what Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas are. They are rejecting any cases that do not expand the right wing agenda. How Scalia and Thomas remain on the bench remains a mystery to me, especially after attending a fully funded Koch brothers right wing event. Thomas was supported by the Federalist Society. These 2 judges need to be impeached and the other 2 should recuse themselves of any other partisan cases that come before the supreme court. I can’t imagine what would have occurred the 4 liberal justices belonged to a radical left leaning organization.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jasmine-Mayo/1169006462 Jasmine Mayo

      Amen! Its not a good thing when someone like Zimmerman has excessive power….He killed an innocent child for no doggone reason and he needs to be arrested ASAP…..#RIPTRAYVON

      • Bobby224466

        Poor Innocent Child !!!! You Really Don’t Have A Clue……….

    • digoweli

      Did you really believe they didn’t want activist judges? what the left doesn’t get is that at the end of the Cold War, the Right Wing aimed their venom at progressive Americans. They know very well they are at war and they are arming themselves with the armed poor as the pawns in their army.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SSLY766LFF6KMU2QJ5CIEU3OGY LET'S GET FILTHY STINKING

    im upset that bull conners is alive and well in the skin of sharpton and jesse jackson. exactly when did the black leaders ignite a war with us latinos ? what happened to the rule of law? they want to be just like the old south when ”bull ” conners sic’d dogs on martin luther kings peaceful demonstrators? i believe MLK would be appalled at his young jesse jackson follower and how he and rev(?) shapton are acting in arrousing violence and hatred toward another minority. just as blacks come in all shades, so do hispanics. mixed race hispanics are as common as mixed race blacks. more than half the states have stand your ground laws and they should. with people like sharpton and jackson yelling for their skin, no wonder. eric holde sits and does nothing. allows the black panthers to put out a bounty on one guys head. unreal. welcome to the deep south, circa 1954. good luck. who has the most guns and shoot the best. you all disgust me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Guy-Saperstein/588243202 Guy Saperstein

    You could make just as good an argument that the failure of liberal critics like Alter to clearly critique conservative mythologies and inform voters has led us to the dark place we are in. It is a totally silly exercise.

    Conservatives out-strategized and out-organized liberals [including liberals like Alter], which is why they continue to make unpopular ideas competitive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Clark/1105766557 Tom Clark

      I’m on your page, Guy… see above.

    • SaneJane

      That is true. Conservatives are not only willing but eager to get down and dirty while liberals are hesitant to leave blood on the floor.

  • Maricia12

    The stand your ground law, if used correctly, would be a good thing but as in most things, there always seems to be a difference of opinion as to interpretation. If a person goes out of their way to pick a fight, as Zimmerman did, then I don’t see how he can use that law. The only thing Martin did was walk thru his neighborhood. The only thing Zimmerman should have done, as a neighborhood watch person, is report a suspicious person to the Police and then let them stop Martin and question him. The only reason the GOP wants to get rid of the Healthcare mandate is because Pres. Obama is the only President to pass any kind of healthcare and their only goal has been to get rid of him. You can believe most of those objecting to it are not going to be overly affected by it. They have made it clear they do not care what happens to anyone else. They probably did not blink twice when they had to buy car insurance when they got a license to drive a car. Health insurance should be viewed the same way. The very poor are already on Medicade, the very old are on Medicare. All those in between are left to fend for themselves without any help. If a person has a job that pays benefits then they are helped in paying the high costs. The people of concern are those who work for companies, often small businesses, who do not get benefits. They are more likely to be paid lower wages. They are the ones who are less apt to buy health insurance because it boils down to putting food on the table or paying monthly premiums for something that is not immediately needed. This group of people are the ones the new health care mandate would most benefit by paying a portion of their health insurance, making it more affordable for them. At least they would pay something out of pocket. As it stands now, they use the emergency rooms and all of us with insurance pay for them anyway. The “Obamacare” plan may need some changes but it has been obvious to every administration for the past 40 yerars, a better system of health care is desperately needed in our country. If healthcare icontinues to rise in costs, will any of us be able to afford it? The top 10% wealthy will and many of them do not care what happens to rest of us. Enter the GOP elite working on your behalf, oh make that “their behalf”.

    • mnhistoryfan

      Many of those wanting to get rid of the health care bill are not wealthy and will be affected by its destruction; they just don’t know it yet. When they do figure it out–when it begins to hit home–I hope there’s a serious backlash against conservatives.

  • GaryBeene

    Here is a better explanation of “The Butterfly Effect” from THE SEEDS WE SOW, KINDNESS THAT FED A HUNGRY WORLD:
    The “butterfly effect” maxim emerged from the title of a paper Dr. Lorenz presented at the American Association for the Advance of Science annual conference in 1972. He had originally submitted his paper to the conference program committee without a title. One of his friends on the committee was ribbing Dr. Lorenz when he added to the conference program booklet the facetious title “Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings set of a Tornado in Texas?” In his opening remarks, Dr. Lorenz’ response to the question posed by the title was, “If the flap of a butterfly’s wing can be instrumental in generating a tornado, it can equally be instrumental in preventing a tornado.” Whatever it is called, Dr. Lorenz’ theory is at once both exquisitely simple and intricately complex. The implication is that given enough time every event, indeed every expression of energy everywhere, ripples through time and space to impact every subsequent event and expression of energy everywhere, forever—the “butterfly effect.”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/I3CAB4P6XXSQKCOMXBMQVNPHTM commonsense2111

    wow!?

    Cantor got a whole $1,350 from them… Probably changed the way he views the whole universe!

    President Obama has collected almost $30 million over past few months. Now, really. Which politician is more beholden to his supporters???

  • kinklu

    I find it depressing that in all this time since the frontier days, we still carry guns like cowboys in the old western movies. In Columbus Ohio where I live, the real he-men are pushing for a law to legalize carrying guns in bars. They don’t even have to check them in at the door as they did in Dodge City. My father wouldn’t have a gun in our house for fear a kid would find it and shoot someone as was common even back then, but I find myself, lately, thinking about buying one for protection against all the super he-men who are carrying. I’d laugh my head off if I could just quit crying about the immaturity and stupidity of little men pretending to be pistol packin’ cowboys.

    • SaneJane

      I live in Alabama and we have a version of the “Stand Your Ground” law similar to Florida’s and it scares me to think about it. If every one has a legal right to stand their ground and a legal right to carry a gun it comes down to who is the fastest on the draw. Just like the OK Corral isn’t it? Women have bought into this too. On the news yesterday they said that gun sales have skyrocketed since President Obama took office because people believe he will take their guns away as part of his Muslim takeover. Seems that hundreds of years of progress are being wiped out.

  • digoweli

    I think a better question would be whether the media was bought and paid for by the wealthy in the nation. Today, it is not whether its true or not but whether you can get the media to print your spin and the people who get that the most often are the Kochs and their ilk.

  • http://ryking.tumblr.com/ Alex Ryking

    Following Alter’s “logic” the inventor of the hoodie is responsible for Martin’s death, as is the first person to commit a crime wearing the hoodie, thus giving it a bad reputation. The butterfly effect can also be extended to Martin’s principal, who suspended Martin and thus set in motion his trip to his father’s home. We should also probably extend the effect to Martin’s parents for divorcing, which resulted in Martin’s father living in Zimmerman’s area. Perhaps we should also add the police dispatcher who was unable to persuade Zimmerman to stop following Martin. If only she had tried harder…

    Or — and call me crazy if you want — we can stop shitting on Ralph Nader for trying to make the world a better place. The 2000 election was 12 years ago. Get over it already, Alter.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D5HPWVIJUUCDCQIWUV636LNM4A Elsa

    I personally don’t understand what Ralph Nader fighting for consumers has to do with the immoral, predatory practices of big business and the radical Conservatives in this Country? Although this article is not for the Conservative agenda, but it gives the impression that none of it would have happened if Ralph Nader had just kept his mouth closed. I take the stand it would have happen much sooner and things would be worse than they are today without Ralph. The truth is the large, international, for profit corporations and the radical conservative right have been slowly buying this Country for decades and they started before Ralph was born. Their unethical business practices, poor quality goods, and enslavement of the Countries middle class has been their agenda for a very long time. Ralph just temporarily made it harder for them. Sure they stood for the health care mandate, when they thought the money would go into their bank accounts. What a great stream of income it would have been and how great not to have any regulations or pressure to actually deliver what you claim to be selling. The truth is we need hundreds of Ralph Naders who are willing to stand and tell our elected government official that enough is enough; the middle class as indivduals may not have the money to purchase fancy ads, but we do have the numbers to make sure that the laws and philosophy of this Country supports our needs. All we have to do is vote, understand what we are voting for and let our elected representatives know we are going to do that. The dirty, little secret that the Right doesn’t want you to know is, they are afraid of the Majority Middle Class. That is why they are trying to ensure most of us CANNOT get a decent education, wage or life style by pushing for laws that are thinly veiled attacks on our personal choices and opportunities. We are much better suited for their needs if we are so suppressed we don’t vote, are a little bit afraid and are just hungry and cold enough not to have the energy to fight them. It was only after people in this Country stood up and shouted that women got the right to vote, we got Social Security, Medicare and many other protective programs and laws. Please vote and make sure everyone you know does too.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D5HPWVIJUUCDCQIWUV636LNM4A Elsa

    I personally don’t understand what Ralph Nader fighting for consumers has to do with the immoral, predatory practices of big business and the radical Conservatives in this Country? Although this article is not for the Conservative agenda, but it gives the impression that none of it would have happened if Ralph Nader had just kept his mouth closed. I take the stand it would have happen much sooner and things would be worse than they are today without Ralph. The truth is the large, international, for profit corporations and the radical conservative right have been slowly buying this Country for decades and they started before Ralph was born. Their unethical business practices, poor quality goods, and enslavement of the Countries middle class has been their agenda for a very long time. Ralph just temporarily made it harder for them. Sure they stood for the health care mandate, when they thought the money would go into their bank accounts. What a great stream of income it would have been and how great not to have any regulations or pressure to actually deliver what you claim to be selling. The truth is we need hundreds of Ralph Naders who are willing to stand and tell our elected government official that enough is enough; the middle class as indivduals may not have the money to purchase fancy ads, but we do have the numbers to make sure that the laws and philosophy of this Country supports our needs. All we have to do is vote, understand what we are voting for and let our elected representatives know we are going to do that. The dirty, little secret that the Right doesn’t want you to know is, they are afraid of the Majority Middle Class. That is why they are trying to ensure most of us CANNOT get a decent education, wage or life style by pushing for laws that are thinly veiled attacks on our personal choices and opportunities. We are much better suited for their needs if we are so suppressed we don’t vote, are a little bit afraid and are just hungry and cold enough not to have the energy to fight them. It was only after people in this Country stood up and shouted that women got the right to vote, we got Social Security, Medicare and many other protective programs and laws. Please vote and make sure everyone you know does too.

    • metrognome3830

      I don’t think Alter is blaming Ralph Nader for the conservative agenda. I believe the blame lies with all the people who fell for the conservative agenda to marginalize and ridicule Nader. How many people were discouraged from backing Nader for fear of being ridiculed along with him rather than fighting back? How many of us fell for the theory that a vote for Nader was a wasted vote? Or even blamed Nader for enabling the Republican victory by drawing votes from the Democratic candidate? These are the people that are to blame for the corporate takeover of this country. Including me, I must add. Something I regret now that it’s too late to come to Nader’s defense. Now, I’m afraid, Mr. Nader is worn out from years of fighting against the encroaching plutocracy, and who can blame him. It’s time for someone else to pick up the fight and it is way past time for those who feel that we cannot stand onthe sidelines anymore to support them. The problem now is, the conservatives (if you can call them that, I prefer the term radicals) have had their way much too long and will all the more difficult to dislodge from their power positions.

      • SaneJane

        I keep thinking they will go too far but it seems nothing is too far. Especially here in the south the more outrageous, hateful, destructive a proposal is the more support it receives. They preach smaller government but support plans to drug test those applying for unemployment benefits, forced ultrasounds for those seeking abortion, restrictions on voters, and other costly programs attacking our freedoms. The amount of misinformation about the Affordable Healthcare Act is staggering. Seems the majority of Americans think this plan will eliminate their health insurance and force them into government provided healthcare. The only rational conversations I can have are on social media sites such as this. My friends, neighbors and some family would want to tar and feather me if they knew the extent of my views. I have tried to have discussions but people get so angry the spittle starts flying. I am a frustrated closet liberal deep in the heart of Dixie.

        • metrognome3830

          I understand how you feel. I live in Arizona, one of the top redneck areas of the country. Expressing my views here usually means either being ridiculed or threatened with physical harm. But, I do it anyway, so I don’t have many friends here. I just feel I’m too damned old to put up with it anymore, I guess. You are right about the misinformation about ACA. But if you reply with facts, they won’t believe it anyway. They base most of their opinions on anonymous e-mails rather than taking the time to do their own research.

    • SaneJane

      The author was not saying the Nader should have kept his mouth shut. He is pointing out how the right mobilized to fight against progressiveness. He scared them, they are fighting back and it isn’t pretty.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joyce-Otway/100001719683388 Joyce Otway

        I wholeheartedly agree with you

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/KQC72XO2L4AISPUEOO66HVEWAI Terri

        Boy, do I feel your pain!! I have been a liberal Democratic voting Southerner(is liberal Southerner an oxymoron??) all my life. I gave up many years ago trying to have a rational discussion with almost anyone-including my own family! I get holiday greetings that ask if I’m sick of Obama yet, rather than family news or “best wishes”. The Southern strategy is alive and well(armed).

    • Manchesterian

      GET OUT THE VOTE THIS COMING NOVEMBER, MAKE SURE YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBOURS, COLLEAGUES, FELLOW STUDENTS, DRY CLEANER ETC…. ALL HAVE LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT ISSUED IDS, GIVE THEM A RIDE TO THE VOTING BOOTH…. AMERICANS HAVE CONSUMATE POWER ONCE EVERY FOUR YEARS; DO NOT SQUANDER IT. GET OUT AND VOTE AND GET OUT THE VOTE! USE YOUR POWER TO TAKE YOUR COUNTRY OUT OF THE HANDS OF THOSE WHO WOULD SQUANDER AND PILLAGE IT. THE RICH NEVER HAS THE INTEREST OF THE POOR AND THE BARELY GETTING BY IN MIND – TAKE YOURSELVES OUT OF THIER LION’S MOUTH BY ROCKING THE VOTE AT A PERCENTAGE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE – IT IS YOUR ONLY WEAPON: VOTE, VOTE, VOTE AND ON THE ELECTION DAY DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY IN ORDER FOR IT TO COUNT.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_35UTJCLQCSAPQXFSNYG3XQ6AWY Howard R

      Nader ran for office Splitting the vote Third parties do not work Maybe some day They screw elections up I voted for Perot to no avail No more 3 rd party voting for me I want my vote to count

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_35UTJCLQCSAPQXFSNYG3XQ6AWY Howard R

      Agree Sad fact is millions of folks do not even bother to vote People fought and died for our freedoms but millions will not get off their back sides and vote
      Their Cop outs are just excuses . Tea Baggers – wealthy will vote Think about that Is that who you want choosing our Pres ?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/S4CHF64BCYBAT5765UKN3JVOME Daniel

    This is a silly reactionary piece that ignores the lessons of American history and continues to support activism on the court by liberal judges who can find any number of new “rights” in our beloved Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The four liberal judges didn’t need to listen to oral arguments, they had already staked out their positions that were accepted as a foregone clonclusion by court watchers and the mainstream, liberal media. In the Trevon Martin case, the facts have been twisted to support the liberal view of the inherent racism of America and those who fail to adhere to liberal thinking. I would like to see something more scholarly and less emotionally and ideologically skewed by this author.

  • salvage salvage

    Stupid.

  • http://ifthethunderdontgetya.blogspot.com/ ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    What a load of b.s. from an entitled hypocrite.

    Digby’s got Alter’s number.

    Check it out.
    ~

  • http://www.facebook.com/Christopher.Hartly.Holte Christopher Hartly Holte

    Sorry, but this argument doesn’t fly. If Nader hadn’t gotten on Lewis’ case, he’d have pursued his agenda anyway. Lewis’ used terms like “free enterprise” and “socialism” as code words, that he and his buddies understood referred to something very different from what anyone outside the room would understand it. “Free Enterpise” means corporate tyranny, where businesses have legal impunity and can dump their costs freely on society. And socialism means any attempts to look out for society as a whole. Had Nader left them alone they’d have done the same thing because Nader was just one enemy of many and their goal was more than countering enemies, but creating a hegemony favorable to business impunity.

  • montanabill

    It would take a load of fruit fly wings to write that article. Wait a minute, he forgot to blame Sarah Palin and George W. Bush and Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and Benjamin Franklin and Warren Harding and Alfred E. Neuman and cows letting air in the fields and….

  • http://www.facebook.com/Christopher.Hartly.Holte Christopher Hartly Holte

    Yes, Guy this is a better argument, than Alter’s self flagellating it’s “our own fault” these guys are jerks arguments. What do these guys think, that we are dealing with people who would have done differently if Nader had gone hat in hand the way he did in his most recent book begging them to bail out the americans they have dispossessed, usurped property from, and oppressed? WE are dealing with tyrants seeking to convert one kind of power currency to another and who have been doing it since before 1971, but made it a program under Powells direction.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VJ7R3BWMETM3YD3YPVGCF44ANM SanJose

    Ralph Nader may have encouraged the formation of the conservative groups in the 1970′s via his activism, but he had a far greater impact during the 2000 election by taking votes away from Gore, resulting in Bush’s election and the appointment of some of the conservative justices that are overturning gun restrictions, campaign contribution limits, Obamacare (soon), etc. I think it is a big stretch to blame Nader’s butterfly wings for Trayvon Martin’s shooting, since it does not appear that the stand-your-ground law in Florida had anything to do with Zimmerman not being arrested or his decision to confront Martin in the first place.

  • David L. Allison

    There was a time when Nader was a force for good in, among other things, challenging the corporate structure in America and throughout the world. All that good has been undone, and greater damage done by his ego-driven use of presidential campaigns that have resulted in the loss of center left Democrat candidates and the empowerment of the very forces that he had worked against.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Carroll/100003021167235 Mary Carroll

    Actually, I’m afraid Jonathan IS saying it’s all Ralph’s fault. Alter IS a liberal, but he’s also a Villager, which means that, no matter what the corporate right wing does, it’s always the fault of the dirty f’ing hippies. But gee, Jonathan, isn’t there a point where the selfishness and greed of corporations and their 1% executives deserves at least a tiny bit of the blame? Isn’t there something downright evil about billionaires like the Koch brothers and the Waltons of WalMart using ALEC to push “kill at will,” voter suppression and other anti-democratic measures through legislatures in state after state around the country?

    I know it’s fashionable right now to blame all our woes on narcissistic Boomers, but as an aging Boomer who’s been fighting these guys since the ’60s (and who fully intends to continue fighting them until they lay me in my grave!), I’m curious what you think Ralph Nader should have done in the late ’60s to prevent Lewis Powell from writing that deadly memo. Should he not have written “Unsafe at any Speed” about the Corvair? Should he have sat down with General Motors and made a deal: if you promise to make the car safer by, say 1990, I won’t publish my book? When corporate executives are killing Americans, don’t we want other Americans to speak up about it?

    If an allegedly liberal pundit thinks the only economic structure we’re allowed to talk about in the U.S. is the most extreme, Ayn-Randian version of capitalism — like the esteemed Paul Ryan’s “brave” budget — then every American who believes that the preamble to the Constitution defines the purposes of the federal government is in deep trouble. If we’re not allowed to say that corporations are sometimes wrong, what happened to free speech?

  • arahm008

    Mr. Alter: Were you serious or just joking when you wrote this piece? I hope it was the latter., because I have respected you for being a progressive person. Maybe because my primary language is not English I could misunderstood your intention of joking or satirizing. Otherwise, should people stop denouncing wrongdoing or injustice for fear that the wrongdoers may get worse?
    Adolph

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F3AEVYAEPTF5EQAQBKY7B4IUSU EAT THE RICH

    the ” dirty little secret ” is that the so-called ” concervative movement” in this world is a front for extreemist rightwing policy. our freedoms and basic rights have been replaced by racist, anti human ” laws” by the super rich thieves of the ” government of the people” we have sat on our asses and watched the nazis kill our leaders, and destroy the working class in this and most other countries. when a major contender for the presidents office can state that child labor laws or unions are un-american and be taken seriously should scare the hell out of you. the fact of the rightwing agenda ” patriot act ” should have started a revolution. the ridiciules clowns we are given to choose from is a very bad joke. as a nation we get what we deserve. we sold out our grandchildren for a pizza and a crappy beer. porky pig has it right th th thats all folks.

  • Yappy2

    I am a middle of the road Democrat and I don’t agree with what is being done to George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was his own worst enemy and the reason he lost his life. I feel sorry for his family and freinds but, I also feel bad for George Zimmerman and his family.

  • http://twitter.com/cpayne2087 Carl Payne

    How much could we save by using $1 coins and stop printing $1 bills? A LOT, so let’s just do it! The American people will adapt, we always do.

  • Vazir Mukhtar

    Powell’s “butterfly effect” was anticipated by almost 20 years in Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Sound of Thunder,” published in “Collier’s” magazine in 1952. Not having read Mr Powell’s exposition of the concept, I can only hope that he acknowledged Mr Bradbury’s having anticipated him.

    Bradbury’s story is a masterpiece, which I highly recommend.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NPJRH4Y3AVX4JE4N3KCIIXCBQQ Newborn

    What’s scaring with America is the fact whatever the right issue you’re pushing on, the conservatives will apprehend the loss of their power and fight back with destructive force. What’s also incomprehensible is that the people who’ll benefit the most, are siding with the conservative agenda.

  • maxdi

    Egad this is stupid. I fear that Mr. Alter is less concerned with history & the truth than he is being liked and considered interesting and socially acceptable by the (much) richer people he would prefer to dine, drink, and socialize with. He wants to be “their” kind of liberal, which means illiberal, of course. Of course, he also forgets to discuss that we as a nation don’t have universal healthcare because Rep. Wilbur Mills and his hooker-du-jour Fannie Foxx were caught cavorting in a fountain during the Nixon Administration. It wouldn’t be cricket to blame the right-wing antediluvians types for anything bad and reactionary, would it Mr. Alter?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mitchell-Freedman/1394291072 Mitchell Freedman

    It took me awhile, and I now see the irony–but I understand Digby’s and others’ reaction. Still, I think what Alter is saying is that the Powell memo has had its own butterfly effect. Powell was only after a dominance of the business and elite class and defeat of the intellectuals who were fueling a left-liberal movement. They did not expect the gun toting working class to be upending them from the right after having first co-opted a significant portion of them.

    Alter, however, created the confusion because he felt compelled to engage in some Ralph Nader bashing. In jest to some extent, but still with a touch of menace to anyone who might actually admire Ralph Nader. That is what set Digby off, and one can still say, Good for Digby.

  • DougJBalloon

    This is the dumbest thing I have ever read in my entire life.

  • Arlene brown

    One might expect the NRA to lobby for gun ownership, but lobbying for legalized murder is too much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barbara-OConnor/1713428397 Barbara OConnor

    Tell me please someone how Zimmerman was attacked? The way I understand what transcribed in Florida was the 911 operator instructed Zimmerman to stay in his car. He refused to do as instructed and took it upon himself to kill a young man. Had he not gotten out of his car to confront this young man which I can only imagine was not nice or respectful in his approach, since he showed total disrespect for the law and the 911 operator’s instructions this young man would still be alive today! How is it self defense when you are the aggressor. Please I would like someone to explain to me how that works!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barbara-OConnor/1713428397 Barbara OConnor

    I do not believe the NRA nor Ralph Nader support murder. Nor do I see how their actions apply to the Trayon Martin case, so if you would not mind I am here to state I do not see the connection.

  • ExPAVIC

    Clarification

    As a “D” class Florida licensed professional Security Guard, I am permitted to perform four basic functions (1) Patrol, (2) Observe, (3) Report, and (4) Record.

    Under no circumstances can a “D” licensed Security Guard carry a firearm. That practice is only permitted by those with a “G” class license

    As a self-appointed security person with NO Florida state license, what was Zimmerman doing carrying and subsequently using a firearm? In performing his act, that individual committed a crime and should have been charged, arrested and jailed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_35UTJCLQCSAPQXFSNYG3XQ6AWY Howard R

    GOP DOES want activist judges but only very con ones . GOP claims to want small gov’t but when Bush Reagan spent like drunken sailors.. GOP congress never once said NO. Now that Obama is Pres GOP does a 180 on all they used to support..Back when they were a ‘ moderate ‘ party under Ike even Nixon who tried to pass health care for all.
    Truth is Reagan would not be able to run under GOP banner today -since he did at one point raise taxes and put US in massive debt. CONS have pretended to forget that as well as the Bush 8 years of global crash- depression- TARP disaster.. lies about Iraq war- killing and wasting trillions -Bush huge unfunded corp cuts- and debt- Not to mention Missions NOT accomplished. GOP says they will take America back That scares folks
    BACK TO WHAT ? Same old greedy wealth favoring policies of Reaganomics Bush 1-2
    GOP congress that led to complete financial disaster <

  • howa4x

    The right wing can decieve the people all it wants but the demographics are changing. the WWII generation(most loyal ) is leaving and the newer ones don’t buy the complete conservative agenda. You will see a bigger split between the Red states and Blue ones. If the dismantling of DC continues the power will switch to the states through block grants ala Nixon. the Blue ones will rely on brain power since the finest colleges are located there, and innovation like Cumo is doing in NYS, and the NJ senate is working on a bill to set up the insurance exchanges even if the Supreme court knocks out the law. Educated people want a clean enviornment, clean industry and jobs will locate where they are. If the south wants to stay backward and stupid, let it. I have friends who just came back from aroad trip that took them through the deep south, and they were astonished how heavy the people were. These states are headed for a health crisis. so let the right wing take away all their benefits if they want because they won’t stop what is coming. The people will wish there was a health care law soon enough!

scroll to top