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Ralph Nader: Holiday Reading List 2009

By Ralph Nader

This is the golden age of muckraking books and documentaries but some of them may have escaped your attention because reviews and promotions cannot keep up with the sheer volume of material.

Here are my recommendations for your Holiday and later reading time:

1. Achieving the Impossible by Lois Marie Gibbs; Published by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice ( is an inspiring collection of short stories about how ordinary people have risen to meet the challenges of toxic pollution confronting their families and communities. The author herself rose from the Love Canal controversy in Niagara Falls, New York to lead a grand national grass roots organization.

2. Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope In An Insecure Age by Steven Hill (University of California Press, 2010.) His thesis is that Western Europe treats its people better in many ways than the United States does its people, and not just in social insurance and services. Read, wonder and galvanize!

3. Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in A Two-Party Tyranny by Theresa Amato (New Press, 2009.) My former campaign manager weighs in with an indictment of the two-party barriers to a competitive electoral system, candidate ballot access and voter choice. Partly personal memoir of her battles in 2000 and 2004, part history about the decades long ago when third parties could get on the ballot easier and make a difference and part a series of reforms that only an outraged public can make happen.

4. Priceless Money: Banking Time for Changing Times by Edgar S. Cahn is a revolutionary elevation of traditional assets in how time can become a currency—a means of exchange that is beyond price—that does not allow market price to define value. It is a limited edition booklet you’ll never forget, free. Send two first class stamps to TimeBanksUSA, 5500 39th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20015.

5. Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges (Nation Books, 2009) The Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent turned prolific author and lecturer, Mr. Hedges goes to the core of a culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. He “exposes the mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political and moral collapse around us.” In gripping, memorable concrete prose that resonates the moment we let ourselves think.

6. The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis by Josh Kosman (Portfolio Hardcover, 2009.) Think it is all about the brand names of a corrupt, reckless Wall Street? Try the entirely unregulated private equity firms that acquire and strip mine them under the guise of saving them, then leave behind debt time bombs and mass layoffs as the value of these leveraged buyouts is sucked out by the corporate bunccaneers. Kosman predicts a coming private equity-caused big bubble crisis.

7. Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary: The Story of Ed and Joyce Koupal and the Initiative Process by Dwayne Hunn and Doris Ober. This husband-wife team “just ordinary people,” in their words, started out powerless and in over a decade, largely in the seventies, built Initiative power to qualify reforms on the California ballot for the popular vote. A story for the ages that strips away excuses steeped in a sense of powerlessness. This small but invigorating paperback can be obtained from The People’s Lobby ( for $15, including shipping. California St., Unit 201, San Francisco, CA 94109.

8. Getting Away With Torture: Secret Government, War Crimes, and the Rule of Law by Christopher H. Pyle (Potomac Books, 2009) A former captain in army intelligence and Congressional staffer, now teaching constitutional law at Mount Holyoke College, Mr. Pyle shatters our belief in the rule of law before the unconstitutional government of Bush and Cheney in waging war crimes and torture, while seeking Congressional amnesty to those responsible for implementing their rogue, secret regime. Veteran constitutional law specialist, Louis Fisher asserts these practices have “left American weaker politically, economically, morally, and legally.”

9. It Takes A Pillage by Nomi Prins (Wiley, 2009.) A former managing director of Goldman Sachs, who quit Wall Street, and now is dedicated to educating and mobilizing the American people so that they press for reforms to prevent myopic greed from bringing down our economy again and to hold the speculators and crooks accountable. She “gets inside how the banks looted the Treasury, stole the bailout, and continued with business as usual,” in the words of one reviewer.

10. Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09 edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff with Project Censored (Seven Stories Press, 2009.) This book contains investigative pieces on important topics too often neglected by the mainstream news organizations. Read this book, it will make you angry and then it will energize you to take on a significant societal problem in the New Year.

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  1. Peter Camejo Peter Camejo December 24, 2009

    I can confirm that is Ralph Nader @1.

  2. Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp December 24, 2009

    Quoth “Peter Camejo” —

    “I can confirm that is Ralph Nader @1.”

    Maybe you can. Someone who can return from the grave to comment on a blog can probably do just about anything.

  3. Kimberly Wilder Kimberly Wilder December 25, 2009

    Ummm….I think it is a little disrespectful to Peter Camejo to have used his name in an insider joke.

    But, as long as we hold love and respect in our hearts for Peter and his memory…

    It was very funny.

    My guess is that it was neither Ralph nor Peter commenting….and my further guess is that people are getting punchy with the holiday. Maybe too much family time, or too much of the holiday spirits…

    Anyway, thanks for the Christmas, political camaraderie. Hope all our contributors, commenters, and readers have a wonderful holiday.

  4. Robert Milnes Robert Milnes December 25, 2009

    I’d say there is at least one government agent/lackey assigned to IPR for disinformation/psychological warfare purposes.

  5. Brad Brad December 25, 2009

    I’ll start with #8 on that list.

    How about war crimes trials for Bush-Cheney and their crew?

    The third parties should get together and call for that, sort of like that “We Agree” joint appearance that Ron Paul put together with Baldwin, Nader and McKinney (too bad Barr decided not to be on stage – although he did say he agreed with the four points of agreement presented).

  6. Brad Brad December 25, 2009

    Something like this should be updated to reflect opposing the war escalation in Afghanistan and the need for a special prosecutor/war crimes trials for the Bush adminstration capos…then the Green, Libertarian, Constitution and other third parties should promote it.

    Maybe add other points of agreement, like opposing mandatory corporate welfare medical insurance (“health care”).


    Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.

    Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.

    The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.

    The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.

  7. steve conn steve conn December 25, 2009

    Thank you for this fine list. Tell Edgar, to let me stay at his place again in 2012. I miss the attic.

  8. Blanco Blanco December 25, 2009

    We need a real third party to deal with the real issues in this country that all the parties are ignoring:

    The threat of Islamic terrorism and the rise of Islamic extremism around the world.

    The flood/invasion of illegal aliens taking away American jobs which will cause white people to be a minority in this country soon…has anyone wondered what will happen then?

    Abortion of white babies, which is contributing to this disturbing demographic trend if it is not outlawed.

    Corporations outsourcing American jobs – where is the paycheck for the white working class man going to come home to feed his family?

    The war on Christianity in our schools, courthouses, etc., and the war on Christmas.

    The Zionist bankers and their control of the money supply.

    The rising economic and military threat posed by China.

    The flood of dope on our streets and the leniency of the police and courts toward non-white street thugs.

    NAFTA/GATT/WTO/United Nations threats to American sovereignty.

    Multiculturalist brainwashing of our children.

    Filthy garbage of the worst imaginable sort being allowed in the movies, TV and on the radio, producing generations of degenerates.

    Is there a party, major or minor, that will rise up to address these issues?

  9. Blanco Blanco December 25, 2009


    Feminization of the American male through the promotion of feminism and normalization of sodomy as a “lifestyle” – this can’t be helping our demographic trends! Before long this country will look like a cross between Mexico, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Gomorrah if we don’t do something.

    While Wall Street is partying, the Zionist bankers are closing our factories and foreclosing on our farms.

    Will we do something before it’s too late?

  10. Ali Ali December 25, 2009

    Allah be praised!

  11. Brad Brad December 25, 2009


    That sounded better in the original German.

  12. Blanco Blanco December 25, 2009

    What do you have against Germans?

    They’re white people too, just like us, last time I checked.

  13. Blanco // Dec 25, 2009: “What do you have against Germans? They’re white people too, just like us, last time I checked.”

    Ewwwww. Who cares ?????? You sound just like my fascist father. He and Mom were not officially KKK, but they were on the ‘White Citizens Council’ mailing list. Yuck!

  14. Blanco Blanco December 25, 2009

    You should listen to your parents more, Don. Sounds like they know a thing or two.

    Unfortunately, ever since the 1960s the Jewish-Bolshevik professors and Jewish-Bolshevik Hollywood have been telling America’s children to not listen to their parents.

    No wonder this country is in so much trouble now that these children have grown up (without ever really growing up) and become our so-called leaders.

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