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6/7/2002
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Business Technology: Truth, Justice, And...Ralph?

Whoever it is who designates things like "National Caraway Seed Day" or "National Nylon Week" should surely tag the coming seven days "Sleep More Soundly Week" because Ralph Nader has taken it upon his Atlas-like shoulders to save us from Microsoft, computer security breaches, business executives, unfair officiating in the National Basketball Association, and who knows what else.

Yes, the World's Biggest Gasball is wafting his hot air over a range of targets that strain even his legendary ability to infuse his special blend of self-centered hucksterism and conspiracy theory into every facet of our lives. One of Nader's two current campaigns has him hectoring the federal government to sharply reduce its purchases of Microsoft products in the interest of national security. Ralph has whipped himself into such a lather over his belief that Microsoft intends to take over the world and enslave every last one of us that he wants the Bush administration to punish, cow, and reform the company by buying far less stuff from Microsoft and instead doling out purchases equally among Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and others. Giving new credibility to his billing as a "green" candidate, Ralph offers absolutely no discussion about whether those other companies have products that, in place of Microsoft's, would do what the federal government needs to get done; but, then again, when one is out to save the world from corporate greed and protect poor, gullible, idiotic business customers--well, one can hardly afford to wallow in low-level trivia like 'will it work?' can one?

"As Congress extends its oversight function and seeks to determine what was or was not done by the United States intelligence community and how Congress can help improve those agencies, it should not forget that responsibility for the events of Sept. 11 does not rest at those agencies or on their many dedicated and overworked employees. It rests squarely on the 19 madmen, al Qaeda, and its supporters, who perpetrated these horrible acts of war against thousands of innocents."

-- James J. Roth, a 25-year FBI veteran and chief counsel to the bureau's New York office from 1986-2000, in a June 6 letter to the Wall Street Journal



Nader aired his latest scam in a letter to Mitch Daniels, director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, with an opening sentence that says, "We are writing to follow up a topic from our April 8, 2002, meeting." Now why in tarnation is the director of OMB wasting his time meeting with this guy? Why in the world would Daniels--or anyone else with the common sense of a stone--dignify Nader's rants about his concerns for national security and level playing fields and effectiveness and productivity, when in fact his only goal is self-promotion and shaking down whatever company happens at the time to be the biggest and most successful, all in the absurd name of "consumer advocacy?"

Perhaps you voted for Citizen Ralph 19 months ago, or perhaps you admire his zeal, his commitment, his willingness to stick his neck out for such noble causes as national security, IT-infrastructure security, and fairness to one and all. I'll readily admit to being strongly in favor of all those causes as well; I happen to believe Ralph Nader cares about them with approximately the same passion as he cares about his next meal. They just happen to be hot topics and no snake-oil salesman--and I gotta hand it to the guy, he peddles a lot of snake oil--can resist such heat.

Too cynical, you say? Too harsh? Well, before we let Nader have one iota of influence in our national discussion of computer security or national security or the role of Microsoft, please consider a second major initiative that Citizen Ralph unleashed on us in the same 24-hour period that he dashed off his letter to the OMB director. In this second crusade, Captain Corvair goes after what in his mind is an equally grave issue; that is, it's highly visible and if he spreads enough sand into the Vaseline, someone will eventually pay him to remove the grit. This second Holy Grail? None other than the officiating during Game 6 of last week's NBA playoff series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. In a letter to the NBA, Nader writes, "At a time when the public's confidence is shaken by headlines reporting the breach of trust by corporate executives, it's important, during the public's relaxation time, for there to be maintained a sense of impartiality and professionalism in commercial sports performances. ... Unless the NBA orders a review of this game's officiating, perceptions and suspicions, however presently absent any evidence, will abound." By the way, I particularly liked his phrase, "however presently absent any evidence"--it has never been Citizen Ralph's métier to let facts or their absence interfere with his sense of quick-buck opportunism.

This guy, who supposedly on behalf of "the public" makes a big and asinine spectacle about protecting and preserving our "relaxation time" and our belief in the sanctity of NBA officiating, this publicity hound should have a say in discussions about national security, computer security, and the Microsoft case? If the answer is yes, I only hope we can resurrect as his sidekick Charles Dickens' Bumble the Beadle, a charlatan of the same cloth who, after being busted, uttered the immortal line, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass."

Bob Evans
Editor-in-Chief
bevans@cmp.com

Ralph Nader Colleague James Love Responds


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Bob Evans's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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