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(with Bernard Weisberger)

We might wish the uproar from the convention halls of both parties these busy weeks were the wholesome clamor of delegates deliberating serious visions of how we should be governed for the next four years. It rises instead from scripted TV spectacles -- grown-ups doing somersaults of make-believe -- that will once again distract the public's attention from the death rattle of American democracy brought on by an overdose of campaign cash.

No serious proposal to take the money out of politics, or even reduce its tightening grip on the body politic, will emerge from Tampa or Charlotte, so the sounds of celebration and merriment are merely prelude to a funeral cortege for America as a shared experience. A radical minority of the super-rich has gained ascendency over politics, buying the policies, laws, tax breaks, subsidies, and rules that consolidate a permanent state of vast inequality by which they can further help themselves to America's wealth and resources.

Their appetite for more is insatiable. As we write, Mitt Romney, after two fundraisers in which he raised nearly $10 million from the oil and gas industry, and having duly consulted with the Oklahoma billionaire energy executive who chairs the campaign's energy advisory committee, has announced that if elected President, he will end a century of federal control over oil and gas drilling on public lands, leaving such matters to local officials more attuned to industry desires. Theodore Roosevelt, the first great advocate for public lands in the White House, would be rolling in his grave, if Dick Cheney hadn't already dumped his bones in a Wyoming mining shaft during the first hours of the Bush-Halliburton administration.

We are nearing the culmination of a cunning and fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that were slowly and painstakingly built over decades to protect everyday citizens from the excesses of private power. The "city on the hill" has become a fortress of privilege, guarded by a hired political class and safely separated from the economic pressures that are upending the household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, and civic life of everyday Americans.

Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. As in Athens then, so in America now: The name for what's happening to our political system is corruption -- a deep, systemic corruption.

How did we get here?

Let's begin with the judicial legerdemain of nine black-robed magicians on the Supreme Court back in the l880s breathing life into an artificial creation called "the corporation." An entity with no body, soul, sense, or mortality was endowed with all the rights of a living, breathing "person" under the Constitution. Closer to our own time, the Supreme Court of 1976 in Buckley vs. Valeo gutted a fair elections law passed by a Congress that could no longer ignore the stench of Watergate. The Court ruled that wealthy individuals could spend unlimited amounts of their own fortunes to get themselves elected to office, and that anyone could pour dollars by the hundreds of thousands into the war chests of political action committees to pay for "issue ads," clearly favoring one side in a political race, so long as a specific candidate or party was not named.

Money, the justices declared in another burst of invention, was simply a form of speech.

Then, just two years ago, the Roberts Court, in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, removed any lingering doubts that the marvelous "persons" that corporations had become could reach into their golden troughs to support their candidates and causes through such supposedly "educational" devices as a movie trashing Hillary Clinton.

Meaningful oversight of campaign expenditure, necessary if representative government is to have a fair chance against rapacious wealth, was swept away. Hail to a new era in which a modestly-financed candidate is at the mercy of nuclear strikes from television ads paid for by a rich or corporate-backed opponent with an "equal right" to "free speech." As one hard pressed Connecticut Republican, lagging behind in a primary race against a billionaire opponent outspending him twelve to one, put it: "I'm fighting someone with a machine gun and I've got a pistol." When the votes were counted, even the pistol turned out to be a peashooter.

A generation ago, the veteran Washington reporter Elizabeth Drew warned against the rising tide of campaign money that would flood over the gunwales of our ship of state and sink the entire vessel. Noah's Flood was a mere drop in the bucket compared to the tidal wave that has fulfilled Drew's prophecy. The re-election of every member of Congress today is now at the mercy of corporate barons and private princes who can make or destroy a candidacy by giving to those who vote "right," or lavishing funds on opponents of those who don't.

Writing the majority opinion for Citizens United, Justice Anthony Kennedy would have us believe corruption only happens if cash passes from one hand to another. But surely as he arrives at his chambers across from Capitol Hill every morning, he must inhale the fetid air rising from the cesspool that stretches from Congress to K Street -- and know there's something rotten, beyond the naked eye, in how Washington works.

Senator John McCain knows. Having been implicated in the Keating Five scandal during the savings and loan debacle 30 years ago, he repented and tried to clean up the game. To no avail. And now he describes our elections as nothing less than "an influence-peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder."

For the ultimate absurdity of money's role, we must look to another group of happy billionaires, the corporate owners of the television stations which reap handsome profits for selling the public's airwaves to undisclosed buyers (also known as campaign contributors) who pollute the political atmosphere with millions of dollars spent on toxic ads designed to keep voters angry, dumb, or both. Every proposal is shot down or undermined that would make it a duty for those stations to devote free air time for public purposes in order to earn the licenses that they treat as permits to get rich. In one of the great perversions of the Constitution foisted on its subjects by their overlords, the public airwaves where free speech should reign have become private enclosures to which access must be bought. Free? It's about as free as Tiffany pearls.

Money rules. And in the foul air democracy chokes and gasps, the middle class falls behind, and the poor sink from sight as political donations determine the course and speech of policies that could make the difference in the lives of ordinary people struggling in a dog-eat-dog world.

The Devil must grin at such a sorry state of affairs and at the wicked catch-22 at its core. To fight the power of private money, it is first necessary to get elected. To get elected it is necessary to raise astronomical amounts of private money from people who expect obedience in return. "That's some catch," says Yossarian to Doc Daneeka, and Doc agrees: "It's the best there is."

Where is the outrage at this corruption? Partly smoothed away with the violence, banality, and tawdry fare served up by a corporate media with every regard for the public's thirst for distractions and none for its need to know. Sacrificed to the ethos of entertainment, political news -- instead of getting us as close as possible to the verifiable truth -- has been reduced to a pablum of so-called objective analysis which gives equal time to polemicists spouting their party's talking points.

As ProPublica recently reported: "Someone who gives up to $2,500 to the campaign of President Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney will have his or her name, address and profession listed on the FEC website for all to see. But that same person can give $1 million or more to a social welfare group that buys ads supporting or attacking those same candidates and stay anonymous." But when is the last time you heard one of the millionaire anchors of the Sunday talk shows aggressively pursue a beltway poobah demanding to learn about the perfidious sources of the secret money that is poisoning our politics?

At our combined ages we've seen it all; hope no longer springs eternal. We know the odds against reversing the hardening grip of the monied interests are disheartening. Those interests are playing to win the ferocious class war they launched 40 years ago with a strategy devised by the corporate lawyer Lewis Powell (later a Supreme Court justice) and a call to arms from the Wall Street wheeler-dealer William Simon, who had been Richard Nixon's treasury secretary. Simon argued that "funds generated by business" would have to "rush by multimillions" into conservative causes in order to uproot the institutions and the "heretical" morality of the New Deal. He called for an "alliance" between right-wing ideologues and "men of action in the capitalist world" to mount a "veritable crusade" against everything brought forth by the long struggle for a progressive America. Business Week noted at the time "that some people will obviously have to do with less... It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more."

This was not meant to be. America was not intended to be a winner-take-all country. Our system of checks and balances -- read The Federalist Papers -- was to keep an equilibrium in how power works and for whom. Because of the vast sums of money buying up our politics, those checks and balances are fast disappearing and time is against us.

We are losing ground, but that's the time when, more than ever, we need to glance back at the progressive crusades of a century ago to take note of what has been forgotten, or rather what braying blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have been distorting or attempting to flush down the memory hole. Robbing a nation of its historical memory is the most devastating of all larcenies because it opens the door to far worse crimes.

We have been here before. The two of us have collaborated in studying the example of the populists and progressives who over a century ago took on the financial and political corruptors. They faced heavy odds, too -- a Supreme Court that exalted wealth as practically a sacred right, the distortion by intellectual and religious leaders of the theory of evolution to "prove" that the richest were the fittest to rule, the crony capitalism of businessmen and politicians.

With government in the grip of such exploiters, child labor was a fact of life, men and women were paid pittances for long hours of work and left unprotected from industrial diseases and accidents, and workers too old to be useful to employers any longer were abandoned to starvation or the poorhouse. No model laws existed to protect them.

But these pioneers of progressivism were tough citizens, their political courage fueled by moral conviction. They sensed, as the Kansas editor William Allen White wrote, that their country had fallen into the hands of self-seekers, their civilization needed recasting, and a new relationship must be forged between haves and have-nots. When the two major parties failed them they gave full throat to their discontent by fighting from outside, and when Theodore Roosevelt's breakaway Progressive Party held its organizing convention in l912 -- exactly one hundred years ago -- they shook the rafters with "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Oh, for such defiance today!

From the fighters of that era came a renewal of the social contract first set forth in the preamble of the Constitution -- the moral and political notion of "We, the People." Equitable access to public resources was its core, so that when the aristocrat De Tocqueville came here from France in the l830s he marveled at the egalitarian spirit he found in the new country. Public institutions, laws and regulation, as well as the ideas, norms, and beliefs embedded in the American mythos pointed to a future of prosperity open to all. That ideal survived the fires of the civil war and then the hard, cold cruelties of the industrial era and the First Gilded Age because people believed in and fought for it. They neither scorned nor worshipped wealth but were determined it would not rule.

It was on these foundations that the New Deal built the structure now under attack, with the support of a Depression-stricken nation which realized that we were all in it together -- as we were in the war against fascism that followed.

But in the succeeding fat years the nation forgot something -- the words of the great progressive senator Robert LaFollette from Wisconsin: "Democracy is a life and demands constant struggle." Constant struggle. No victory can be taken for granted, no vigilance relaxed. Like the Bourbon kings of France, the lords of unrestrained, amoral capitalism never forgot anything. They learned from their defeat how to organize new strategies and messages, furnish the money to back them, and recapture control of the nation's life. And in the absence of genuine, fight-to-the-finish resistance, they are winning big-time.

Think of where we are now. One party is scary and the other is scared. The Tea Party, the religious right, and a host of billionaires dominate the Republican Party. Secret money fills its coffers. And in the primaries this year almost every Republican inclined to compromise to make government work went down before radical and well-funded opponents with a fundamental "anti-government" mindset.

Yet even now President Obama says he is sure the Republicans will be willing to negotiate if he is re-elected. Sure, and the wolves will sit down with the lamb.

Nor is that all. In Wisconsin, salvo after salvo of campaign cash for union-busting Governor Scott Walker defeated the effort to recall him. In Pennsylvania a hardline judge has given his approval to a voter ID law specifically targeted to making it harder for low-income would-be voters to register. And such laws are proliferating like runaway cancer cells in state after state. The Tea Party and right-wing Christians furnish the shock troops of these assaults, but those who could be counted on for sturdy defense are not immune to the grinding pressures of nonstop fundraising. Democratic incumbents and challengers, in national and state canvasses likewise garner corporate contributions -- including President Obama, whose fundraising advantage is about to be overtaken by Mitt Romney and the Deep Pockets to whom he is beholden. And at both conventions, the prime time show is merely window-dressing; the real action occurs at countless private invitation-only parties where CEOs, lobbyists, trade associations and donors literally cash in their chips. Writing in the New York Times, for example, Nicholas Confessore reports how The American Petroleum Institute will entertain with a concert and panels, all the while promoting an agenda that includes approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, opposition to new transparency rules for American energy companies operating abroad, and the expansion of oil production on those public lands Mitt Romney is preparing to turn over to them.

Does this money really matter? Do owls and bats fly by night? Needed reforms are dead on arrival on the floor of Senate and House. Banking regulations with teeth? Mortgage relief? Non-starters when the banks' lobbyists virtually own Washington and the President of the United States tells Wall Street financiers he is all that stands between them and the pitchforks of an angry mob. Action on global warming? Not while the fossil fuel industries and corporate-back climate deniers have their powerful say in the matter. Cutting bloated military expenditures? Uh-uh, when it means facing a barrage of scare stories about weakening our defenses against terrorism. Spend money on modernizing our rail system or creating more public transportation in our auto-choked city streets? What heavy artillery the auto, gasoline and highway construction lobbies would rain down on any such proposal.

All of which would make a Progressive Rip Van Winkle shake his head in disbelief and grind his teeth in fury. "Where is the passion we shared for driving money from politics?" he would ask. Where indeed? Not on the floor of either of these conventions. You are unlikely to hear the name of Theodore Roosevelt praised by Republicans or of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by the Democrats, except in perfunctory terms (It was FDR, after all, who said he feared government by money as much as government by the mob.)

Each party will sing the obligatory hosannas to the middle class, give the silent treatment to the working poor, and bellow forth the platitudes of America's "spirit of enterprise and innovation" that will restore our robust economy and world leadership. If the stagnant recovery and sufferings of the unemployed and underemployed get any mention, it will be to blame them on the other party. As for taking on the predatory rich, forget it.

Our advice: Learn something from the emptiness of what you see and hear -- and if it doesn't make you mad as hell and ready to fight back against the Money Power, we are all in real trouble.

Bill Moyers and historian Bernard A. Weisberger have collaborated on several television series, including A Walk Through the 20th Century and Report from Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention. They are now working on The Fighting Spirit: The People vs. The Gilded Age.

Watch Moyers & Company weekly on public television. This week: Bernie Sanders.
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  •  Tip Jar (248+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew C White, luckydog, JekyllnHyde, One Pissed Off Liberal, arizonablue, Positronicus, DRo, Mother Mags, JanetT in MD, SneakySnu, Vayle, Sun Tzu, jethrock, Radical Moderate, bobswern, Mary Mike, allenjo, Steveningen, dougymi, spaceshot, millwood, Phoebe Loosinhouse, ricklewsive, Polly Syllabic, elwior, Laborguy, J M F, zerone, MKinTN, RFK Lives, keschen, AnnieJo, greenbastard, Bill W, lastman, kainah, vzfk3s, Tool, shopkeeper, Cronesense, sockpuppet, luckylizard, redstella, lostinamerica, NonnyO, Rp, maxzj05, ovals49, sjburnman, KHKS, Empower Ink, slowbutsure, Getreal1246, jnhobbs, Magnifico, detroitmechworks, jbou, sleipner, DefendOurConstitution, 3goldens, Lorinda Pike, Habitat Vic, Miss Jones, homo neurotic, Just Bob, tofumagoo, kestrel9000, cotterperson, Catte Nappe, SamSinister, doppler effect, markthshark, Haningchadus14, batchick, SeaTurtle, Grassroots Mom, blueoasis, LucyandByron, Musial, wavpeac, JanF, carpunder, TracieLynn, Lujane, real world chick, cishart, signals, hyperstation, BalanceSeeker, rapala, rja, Gowrie Gal, deep, politik, Yamara, opinionated, shermanesq, no way lack of brain, Randtntx, No Exit, ParkRanger, NYmom, DamselleFly, rogerdaddy, BrooklynJohnny, Burned, Brian82, vahana, statsone, NMRed, maggiejean, Ozzie, kydoc, gloryous1, Ms Citizen, EdSF, eeff, TAH from SLC, cassandraX, doingbusinessas, Turbonerd, AllanTBG, leftreborn, Sanuk, Larsstephens, burnt out, fromer, Jersey Girl, Paper Cup, lcrp, mzinformed, dinazina, Susipsych, Chi, drawingporno, citizen dan, Eddie C, SME in Seattle, antiapollon, exlrrp, SherwoodB, solesse413, poco, jamess, Noodles, implicate order, emidesu, Alumbrados, chuckvw, sgilman, BradyB, mwm341, CitizenOfEarth, muddy boots, Noor B, joanneleon, dan667, ranger995, AZ Sphinx Moth, Glen The Plumber, CalBearMom, buckstop, mrkvica, Loudoun County Dem, isabel, livingthedream, Dood Abides, Xapulin, brainwave, ridemybike, Pescadero Bill, terabytes, bnasley, Trotskyrepublican, wayoutinthestix, subtropolis, shock, Nicci August, triv33, dRefractor, RWood, daveygodigaditch, wasatch, randomfacts, Best in Show, greengemini, jazzmaniac, Agathena, Pandora, nomandates, taraka das, tgypsy, dharmasyd, jotter, sanglug, ItsaMathJoke, ceebee7, kurt, squarewheel, Liberal Thinking, N in Seattle, Mr Robert, roadbear, Albanius, Creosote, cosette, number nine dream, Deep Harm, gloriana, sailmaker, ardyess, RainyDay, eyesoars, Sandino, ruscle, splashy, Sara R, Youffraita, Sharon Wraight, 417els, roseeriter, riverlover, Mathazar, uciguy30, labouchet, mofembot, envwq, Clues, dkmich, Jim R, pioneer111, quince, Mosquito Pilot, MartyM, Montco PA Dem, Book of Hearts, Gustogirl, pollwatcher, No one gets out alive, madgranny, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Alma, aliasalias, ChuckInReno, Heimyankel, Rosaura, jhop7, Oh Mary Oh
    •  This is the single most important issue period. (10+ / 0-)

      Why? Because it is the stranglehold of monied corruption on our political system that prevents us, year after year after year, from solving the great crises of our time.

      Let's be honest, we are never going to get a smart health care plan like single payer national insurance, or even come close to addressing the climate crisis, or ending voter discrimination, re-regulating the parasitic banks or any other major issue we care about until we remove the corrupting influence of money first.

      •  I'll say it again (12+ / 0-)

        There's plenty of outrage, but no one in power is listening.

        Look, there's outrage over the changes to Social Security and Medicare, and polls show that We the people want the cap raised or eliminated, but do our elected officials listen?
        Or look at the polls for legalizing pot.

        Our elected politicians no longer listen to We the People but they listen to the BIG money.

        I've never voiced this before on this site - but both sides are in on it.
        Wall Street or even Sheriff Joe, would never get away with what they get away with, if it were up to We the People

        All we need is LOVE!

        by arizonablue on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 04:36:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even the best pols are forced to pay for a seat (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, elwior

          The system is rigged and there is no way around it. Some good progressives are in safe seats and can get by because there are aligned with their communities. But many others who would agree with them must cozy up to lobbyists if they are unpopular or wind up needing support of certain groups to hold their seats.

          We COULD make them listen, but I think the level of mistrust and not realizing that even 2 or 3 hundred thousand people making lots of noise on an issue can get quick attention. Such as reforming the law on the Do Not Call list when people's dinner times continued to be interupted because of a loop hole. But wow, that was such an IMPORTANT issue to half a million people or so the law was reformed in both houses and signed into law by the president in one day. People are mostly stupid in this country thinking that won't be heard when with the tools we have now, tens of millions could be organized in days.

          Oh that's right, we do have that lobbyist problem though, don't we. Oh well, what can you do?

        •  When elections are bought, the people must (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          take to the streets.  
          Occupy is important.
          The monied elites are driven by only 2 things--Greed & Fear.
          Unless and until they Fear us, their Greed will drive them.
          Having bought the electoral process, they no longer fear elections.
          Take your outrage to the streets where it can do some good.

          We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

          by Mosquito Pilot on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 04:43:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  How much does outrage cost? (6+ / 0-)

    Ask top al Qaeda leaders about Obama's foreign policy. Wait, you can't. They're dead. -Paul Begala

    by Fickle on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 01:48:00 PM PDT

    •  Big $ is underwriting these conventions (25+ / 0-)

      It's poor form to criticize your hosts.  I'm glad that bad weather forced tonight's proceedings indoors.  I didn't relish the idea of the acceptance speech being given at a stadium whose naming rights were purchased by a zombie bank.  Either way, however, the status quo is clearly not being challenged.

      Let's look at one simple issue--an amendment to overturn Citizens United.  Why is such an amendment not a central party plank that's emphasized by every Dem running for federal office?  Our POTUS, to his credit, criticized the decision in the SOTU w/ justices sitting right in front of him.  Why not make that decision a major issue in this campaign?

      Yes, the odds of ever passing such an amendment are slim--that's not the point.  The point is to move the Overton Window and raise public attention.  The GOP  has been using that tactic for years.

      There were discussions in 2010 about these Dem responses:

      The legislation would ban expenditures by foreign-controlled corporations, bar direct expenditures by corporations that have received funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program until the funds are repaid, and bar election-related spending by federal contractors.
      While current law already forbids expenditures by foreign corporations, Van Hollen said the plan would apply to entities incorporated in the United States that are: 20 percent or more foreign-owned; have a majority of board members who are foreign principals; or have a decision-making process on political activity primarily run by foreign interests.

      The plan would also create new rules for disclosing election-related spending to the government and shareholders. For instance, corporations, unions and other entities such as "527" organizations would have to register accounts designated for political broadcast ads with the Federal Election Commission

      The following was also proposed:
      Requiring corporations to disclose campaign spending within 24 hours on corporate websites, to shareholders on a quarterly basis and to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
      Requiring CEOs to appear in broadcast ads funded by their corporations and attest to them in the same manner that candidates must endorse their own ads under existing federal election law.

      Allowing candidates and their political parties to respond to corporate-funded broadcast ads by purchasing air time at the so-called "lowest unit rate."

      New prohibitions on coordinating campaign-related spending with candidates

      New disclosure requirements for campaign expenditures by registered lobbyists

      Pushing for campaign finance reform is not only the right thing to do, it's essential for the party's long-term prospects.  It's an issue around which all Dems could rally, and it's an issue that could clearly distinguish the parties.   There's no excuse for not pushing it.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:31:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  RFK Lives - have we seen any public company (0+ / 0-)

        involvement in federal elections in this cycle? As a former Fortune 500 employee I agree with a statement from a former Fortune 500 CEO that there are no secrets in big, public, companies. We have seen private companies providing large contributions to SuperPACs and 4Cs, and CEOs of public companies making personal contributions, all of whom have not been bashful about disclosing their contributions in public. I think the fear that corporations like Exxon or Pfizer would take an active role post Citizens United has not yet materialized.

        If you know of any additional information I am eager to read it.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 06:14:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Pelosi proposed DARE (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Youffraita, elwior, Noodles

        D: Disclose main contributors to independent expenditures
        A: Amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United
        R: Reform compaign finance system to include public funding
        E: Elect candidates opposing the political power of Big Money


        The DARE agenda -- "disclose, amend, reform and elect" -- was endorsed at an afternoon press conference led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.), House Democratic Caucus chair John Larson (Conn.) and Disclose Act sponsor Chris Van Hollen (Md.).

        "If we're going to have policies that support the great middle class, which is the backbone of our democracy, we have to change the politics," Pelosi said. "And that's why we have issued this DARE."

        The acronymed agenda calls for legislation to overturn Citizens United by amending the Constitution; to provide for public campaign financing through a small-donor matching program; to block efforts restricting ballot access, including voter ID laws; and to require currently non-disclosing political groups -- those organized as social welfare nonprofits and trade associations -- to disclose their donors when they run political ads.

        Huff Post August 1

        There's no such thing as a free market!

        by Albanius on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 10:30:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A perfect example of why (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          we need to promote Nancy back into being Speaker Pelosi.

          I missed the 2006 election b/c I moved too close to election day to be legally allowed to vote in my state.  But I was just about dancing in the street when I heard she won the Speakership.

          Still can't believe she didn't impeach that asshole for Crimes Against Humanity -- just for torture and imprisoning people at black sites.  Oh, and Guantanamo.

          To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

          by Youffraita on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 12:32:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You ARE the conscience of America...and... (50+ / 0-)

    ...maybe even of Daily Kos, too!

    (That's aside from being one of the most important people in this country, right now, as well.)

    This (your headline) is THE question of our era. And, the inconvenient truths your presence will bring to the fore here will create plenty of cognitive dissonance within this community right now. And, for that, I say: "THANK GOD YOU'RE HERE!"

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 01:48:37 PM PDT

    •  His recent interview of Mike Lofgren was not to (26+ / 0-)

      be missed:

      BILL MOYERS: Both parties catering, as you write so vividly in here, to their funders, their donors, the billionaires, the Wall Street financiers, the corporations. And yet they, one or the other keeps getting away with it.
      MIKE LOFGREN: It's happened before in our country. It happened after the Civil War with the Gilded Age. So it's not surprising it can occur when money starts infusing into politics. They will capture the governmental mechanism, just as Wall Street has captured it now. Wall Street has captured Washington at its source, the capital.

      BILL MOYERS: Just give me one example.

      MIKE LOFGREN: One example would be banks that we are bailing out. Why not compensation limits on their CEOs and top executives? We didn't get that. But we did get limits on the compensation and the benefits of U.A.W. employees when we bailed out General Motors and Chrysler.

      BILL MOYERS: We got from unions what we didn't get from the financiers on Wall Street?

      MIKE LOFGREN: That is correct.

      BILL MOYERS: How come? How so?

      MIKE LOFGREN: Money from Wall Street into the pockets of campaigns.

      Lofgren's book The Party's Over is the best political book I've read in several years.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:36:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  RFK Lives - GM received TARP money (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and their executive compensation was monitored, but so were all the banks that received TARP money. That was one reason most of the big banks promptly paid off their TARP loans. Kenneth Feinberg controlled the pay of the top 25 executives at all the corporations that received TARP funds until the loans were repaid.  

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 06:20:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We know now (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          HOW they paid that TARP money back.

          They rigged interest rates to bankrupt cities, counties, states and pension funds.

          Re: LIBOR

          Now they are spending bajillions of dollars on an election campaign so that their hired stooges can strip anything in the public domain from the budget.

          After all, we can't afford it, right?

          But we CAN afford more subsidies to corporations, right?

          •  taraka - those are separate issues (0+ / 0-)

            The LIBOR manipulation should be aggressively prosecuted, but that really isn't connected to the deals that cities, counties, states and pension funds were involved in which were likely not against the law. Plus I am not sure the timing is right regarding TARP.

            In any event I was just answering the question regarding executive compensation and noting that the banks were monitored as part of TARP, just like GM.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 02:02:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The interest rigging (0+ / 0-)

              It's been documented that the Fed and Tres Dept knew about LIBOR rigging going back to 2008.

              The bailout recipients absolutely shorted cities counties and states (and engaged in other schemes) to pad the bottom line.

              Yeah they paid TARP back with money stolen from our local gvts and pension funds.

              Now take a listen: they want to privatize everything and get paid for taking over the services they bankrupted.

          •  taraka - there is no doubt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that the big banks are spending millions on lobbying, and that senior executives are personally writing seven figure checks to SuperPACs and 4Cs, but I don't think the banks themselves are spending corporate cash on this election cycle to fund independent expenditures or contributions to SuperPACs or 4Cs. If you have seen any evidence I would like to read about it.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 02:07:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't talk down to me (0+ / 0-)

              Of course they didn't create the massive racketeering schemes just so they could fund campaigns. The campaign expenditures are just part of the cost of doing organized crime.

              •  What campaign expenditures? (0+ / 0-)

                I haven't seen any actual corporate expenditures from banks. I see a lot of senior executives giving private contributions but if you have any evidence of corporate cash from public banking corporations I would really like to read about it.

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 08:05:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Outrage Fatigue. And so many problems... (23+ / 0-)

    It overwhelms.

    There's so much to focus on and too little time left to deal with all the things people deal with in their day-to-day lives.

    Some just ignore it all. Some focus on what they can. Few have the time or energy or capability to focus on every part of that big picture.

    It's not to excuse, but it is a fact of living. The middle class and working class people of this country spend so much of their time just earning money paycheck-to-paycheck that they have little leisure /free time to truly try to make a difference in government. That luxury lies with those who don't have the same day-to-day worries and concerns with earning money,

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 01:54:43 PM PDT

    •  absolutely right, Vayle (7+ / 0-)

      And the really sad thing is that I think that "outrage fatigue" is, in fact, part of the plan of those who want you to believe that government can't work and you are powerless to do anything about anything. So just turn inward and focus on yourself because, as the Rs have told us over and over, you are the one and only person who will be looking out for you anyway.

      "The fools are as plentiful as ever." Albert Parsons, Haymarket martyr

      by kainah on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:25:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're better off focusing energy in better ways. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, NonnyO, kainah, mrkvica, Noodles

        Being angry and outraged takes energy. It can also take valuable time from those who don't know how to best use or express that frustration. getting lost in the frustration without any real solutions visible just puts people further off from trying to deal with the problems.

        Something we've seen as a growing problem though is that given the time constraints many people do have, they have to filter so much that is simply not true. Lies are provided as truth and fact without a thought and so little fact checking is out there. Even those who do fact check will fact check through a lens of ideological belief rather than being based in reality.

        We've got to somehow reclaim the 4th estate (not just in print) and in so doing, reclaim truth in reporting/media for ourselves and for our children that will follow. When people can deal with facts rather than having to filter all of the fiction, that will be a positive step for everyone.

        I happen to believe government can work, that government can do some things better for everyone than could be managed privately by those who seek to profit over providing service to the general welfare in this country.

        Somehow, this is a dirty belief to many no-nothing type republicans, who refuse to accept that the lives they lead are not as rugged and individualistic as they would like to believe. Many of them actually do choose to believe they were born in a log cabin they built themselves.

        -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

        by Vayle on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:41:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mr. Moyers (14+ / 0-)

    You are cordially invited to my house anytime you find yourself in the Bay Area. Here you will find plenty of the outrage over money in politics that you seek.

    Nice to see you posting again today.

  •  Money is for spending. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, luckylizard, Larsstephens

    Spending money on political propaganda is not fattening and less carcinogenic that much of what goes into our food products.
    Money is like the alphabet, a tool for communicating.  If the tool is misused, the response is not to throw it out, but to address the abusers.
    The pen is mightier than the sword and, in this day and age, cheaper and more accessible to the average man.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:04:12 PM PDT

  •  I mention it as the number one (6+ / 0-)

    problem,  but I still participate in the system.

    I can't afford to be mad as hell,  I'm getting old and need to watch the blood pressure.  What I need is to act,  and I do have a congressional candidate with a less than 50% chance of getting 25% of the vote in this district who would support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, support 100% publicly funded elections.

    I would further support a limit on campaign activity and advertising to  a short period of time, so that our representatives could be known more by their deeds while governing  than media lies while campaigning.

    But I still think it matters that I participate, and I think it matters as the two parties share the same corrupt system,  are forced to buy into it the same to be elected,   yet one is more likely to remember that voters are people and are a part of the system and as necessary as money.

    Personally, I am tired of descriptions of the problem, I would prefer someone who had some practical solutions that might really happen in the real world.  I admit to not knowing how to fix the problem.

  •  Absolutely true ... (6+ / 0-)

    ... because in a capitalist economy, money is power and, as you have pointed out many times, unchecked power inevitably leads to corruption. The central question facing the American nation today is how to stop and reverse the monied corruption occuring on behalf of our economic elites.  We can all see how this corruption has seriously undermined the integrity of essential American political institutions and democratic processes.

    A difficult question, indeed.

    These Republican gluttons of priviledge are cold men ... They want a return of the Wall Street economic dictatorship -- Harry Truman

    by Laborguy on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:14:48 PM PDT

  •  Sir, you said something once that permanently (11+ / 0-)

    uplifted me which was in regard to the pessimism of the mind and the optimism of the will, something that an Italian philosopher said - basically that no matter how horrible things were that you knew intellectually, your spirit could imagine a better future and provide one with the motivation to try to bring it about.

    I can't tell you how much that has helped me get over some difficult hurdles on days when things seem very bleak.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:15:11 PM PDT

  •  Mr. Moyers (5+ / 0-)

    I really appreciate your contributions to the political discussion right now. This question has frustrated me lately. I find very few of my friends truly engaging in any political discussion. Of those who do, a few acquaintances are caught up in the lies put out by the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh and his kind -- they are passionate. Others, like me, are outraged for the opposite reason. (I can't believe how many of my acquaintances seem to think government is about protecting their own narrow interests and preferences.) Most of my more moderate friends from either ideology are barely paying attention, or engage only when some small piece of information catches their notice.

    I wonder if the politics today aren't too convoluted for the average person. President Clinton did a good job last night explaining a few policies and situations of the past four years. I wonder if that's what we need -- for the problem with big money investors to be explained in simple terms. For the idea of democracy to be reexplained to those who have long forgotten or maybe never understood.

  •  The entire concept that money is speech, if not (8+ / 0-)

    somehow put back into Pandora's box from whence it came, will surely guarantee that we will never see this country fulfill its true potential.

    While much progress has been made on many social fronts in the last fifty years, the economic opportunities and civil liberties that once made us the envy of the world will never be restored, and the true promise of this country will never be fully realized, unless the incredible transfer of power and wealth into the hands of the few is not reversed.

    The sheer waste of time, energy and economic resources (especially when added up over many election cycles) that could have been focused elsewhere to do so much constructive good makes me literally sad for our country and for the world, and I, along with so many, feel utterly powerless to do much of anything about it.

    No disrespect intended, but there is something that get's lost whenever the word hope is used, and that is the fact that 'hope' signifies a resignation to the fact that one is powerless to bring the change that one seeks, and so, all that is left is hope.

    Thanks to the decisions cited in the excellent diary above, the United States Supreme Court has left us with little more than hope.  And in honor of that august body, I would like to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill; Never have so few done so much damage to so many.

    Thank you Mr. Moyers for all that you have and continue to do for all of us, and thank you Mr. Weisberger for your contributions as well.

    Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense. Carl Sagan

    by sjburnman on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:39:43 PM PDT

  •  How DARE you!!!! (11+ / 0-)

    Even contemplate the concept that the Democrats are even slightly guilty of this!!!  

    Both parties! My god, you might as well have just said "I want Romney to win!" because you're pushing the idea that the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans!

    Not during a presidential election!  My god, man!  The fifteen minute window when we can safely discuss this will be posted when it happens.


    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:45:17 PM PDT

  •  We sure have the best Government ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, LucyandByron, blueoasis, elwior

    that money can buy!

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:49:48 PM PDT

  •  Occupy was the outrage (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, leftreborn, AZ Sphinx Moth, elwior

    and we all 'got' that we were the 99%. We get it that the republican and the democratic parties have their hands out for the payola. We get it that ALL elected officials are in service to their paymasters.

    Some are more odious than others. Some are willing to put women back in the middle ages and grandmas out in the street. All our officials do not have any plans to really reduce our carbon spewing into the air. Some do not even admit that there is any problem and some are at least thinking of alternative energy sources.

    What would you suggest we do? They are ready for us if we protest in the streets. They are ready if we object to how our businesses conduct their (il)legal practices. Are you calling for a general strike? Are you calling us to actively resist in some manner?  

    In the end, how many of us would change the way we live our lives - right now? I don't know - I am really curious. What do you propose?

    Everybody knows it already

    by redstella on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:51:59 PM PDT

    •  How about getting every fricken Dem to write (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and email within a week? All at once. A flash protest. It's much simpler to do, technically, with the Internet than getting thousands out into the street. We've never tried sending 50 million emails / petitions in a week. If more than half the party says it's a problem that will get their attention if we also make it a big media event.

      But if we're going to use only industrial age tools in this modern era, we often get substandard results as those times are gone. We have to start doing things differently, even if the largest numbers are simply registering huge approval. We need to work smarter, not harder.

      •  hmmm... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, redstella

        I don't think a flash mob protest would work unless it totally overwhelmed the servers...brought them down by sheer volume.

        Sort of like what somebody here said happened on Twitter during the speeches.  (I don't tweet and I was at work anyway.)

        I just don't see how it would change politics in any way.  We're mad and we won't take it anymore?  They (the billionaires) will yawn, call us the little people, and ignore us in their race to buy the political system of this nation.

        To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

        by Youffraita on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 12:43:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Can I answer? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, redstella

      Local politics is all we have left.

      We do have some options there.

      Here is one suggestion: mortgage revolt.

  •  not enough people care about this (8+ / 0-)

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:53:14 PM PDT

    •  IMO, they don't understand why they should. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO, Noodles, mrkvica, elwior, mightymouse
    •  From where I sit, I agree with you and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      KHKS both.

      Some are low-info oh, look, a shiny!  Distracted by their kids, they are single mothers and not reading newspapers or blogs, and probably watching purple dinosaurs with the kiddies when they aren't worried about work or dinner or who will babysit or the homework their kids should be doing.

      I know several like that.

      I think they're reachable.  At least, a couple of them.  But I don't know how.  Don't know how to say the right things, to fire them up to register and actually go and vote.

      They are so young, you see.  Old enough to vote...but not old enough to know that their vote could make a difference.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 12:52:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  WE The People... (7+ / 0-)

    .... have known about the capitalist greed in corporation$ and on Wall $treet for decades, and some of us (well, me, for one) have watched with slack-jawed horror since Glass-Steagall was repealed when Gramm-Leach-Bliley was passed (under Clinton, no less - Dems are not innocent in this mess).

    WE The People are also the very silent majority when it comes to our Congre$$ Critter$.  There's a glass wall around the people we "elect" (Or do we? Just how many are brainwashed by billionaire's ads?  How many e-voting machines are rigged?) and Congre$$ Critter$ can't hear us because we lack the one thing that gains access to the "hallowed presence" of any one of them:  Money.  Corporation$ are the only ones who have Free $peech powers nowadays.

    ~♥~Bernie Sanders?  WooHoo!!!  THAT is most assuredly a show I won't forget to watch!  Bernie is also a well-respected and much-loved Kossack and a favorite on this blog.  Thank you (in advance) for having him on your show, Bill...!

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 03:05:14 PM PDT

  •  The reason for no outrage is simple... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, NYmom, elwior, aliasalias

    People still believe the media.  In spite of the the complaining and the finger pointing, people believe that the media, as a whole, does not really lie...

    They may not have trouble believing some media lie like Fox News or MSNBC depending on your specific political lean but they refuse to believe that it is all one big lie after another.  That would take a conspiracy theory and you need a tin foil hat for those.

    You see, what people fail to realize is that those billions of dollars spent by politicians almost entirely go to the media.  Stories are reported or ignored not by merit or even ratings but by how it will impact their ability to generate revenue.  Sure ratings are great but do you chance pissing off a potential customer with a billion dollars to spend for a story if you don't have to?  Isn't it a more profitable strategy to play both sides of the fence and give equal credence to their talking points meanwhile promoting a horse race to ensure they raise as much money as possible and spend every last dime?

    Here is the real kicker.  Since it is the super rich that are the primary funders of both parties, their interest are paramount to anything said in platforms or in speeches.  Knowing that no one in the media is actually going to challenge any misrepresentations of the truth (at least not very far), the overton window can be pushed to the plutocratic limits unchallenged.  Sure there will be fights about gay rights and abortion and God but where are the discussions about NAFTA and free trade agreements?  Where are the discussions about the free passes the super rich get in court?  Where is the outrage about the Wikileaks revelations regarding government strong handing Haiti to keep their minimum wage at $3 instead of $5 dollars a day?  

    The media is a business and it will not bite the hand that feeds it.  The money in politics is used to buy the media who in turn tell us what to be outraged about, tell us what is truth and tell us who to hate.  The problem is that people are so busy working 12 hours a day to notice.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 03:10:04 PM PDT

    •  No, the problem is too few make it a media issue (0+ / 0-)

      I was hoping #OWS was going to grab the brass ring the season they made fairness the national issue. It would have been a big, bright, shiny bow on everything they were saying. I hold that public election reform could have already been an issue over a year old by now. If they'd folded that issue into the Occupy movement and used it as a rallying point. If THAT started getting polling and positive responses from Democrats it would have been too juicy, too big, for the media to have walked away from it, just as they in fact brought the message of fairness into living rooms.

      Shouda, coulda, woulda.

  •  Imagine How This Money Could Have Helped (10+ / 0-)

    this country if the money was invested in creating jobs instead of spending on political attack ads.  The SCOTUS has a lot to answer for.  

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 03:17:56 PM PDT

  •  Mr Moyers, I thank you for your work (9+ / 0-)

    values, perspective and clarion voice.

    There are few things that surprise or outrage me anymore; I may shake my head and seriously wonder about our future, but I have come to expect the worst and not be disappointed.

    I have been wrestling with this issue, as others have, for some time and have sketched out some draft thoughts in a diary I did awhile ago,  Basically the idea is that to combat the huge spending abuses we have to recruit a new type of candidate, a "Not for Sale" Candidate.  The ideas in this diary need a lot of work, but it is a recognition that something drastic has to be done.  It was inspired by the OWS protests.

    Please, what can we do?  

    First of all, we must not let Romney get elected.  I mean it will be game over if that happens.

    Secondly, the day after the inauguration of Obama, (hopefully,) we need to get down to the serious business of trying to DO SOMETHING rather than complaining.

    However, I fear the rapidly escalating climate 'meltdown' promises to demand attention.

    What do we do?  Call Dr. Dean and start another Party?  OWS has now been shut down by paramilitary police.... this is not good.

    You know, I think a lot of people look the other way on this, because why would you want to recognize this when there's not a d-m thing you can do about it.

    Please give us ideas, thoughts, etc.

    Do you know anyone, any group that is working on ideas?

    Thanks so much for coming to our site.  We appreciate your viewpoint.

    Hurricanes, Flooding, Frying and Drying = Climate Change! Call it like it is! Our Survival Instinct can and will conquer Greed.

    by SeaTurtle on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 03:27:37 PM PDT

  •  Until we fully realize that we are now ruled (7+ / 0-)

    by a plutocracy, most of what we are doing, while good in and of itself in the present, is just wheel spinning as we sink deeper.  You are absolutely right that you can't fight an enemy who doesn't exist for you.

    I'm glad that you brought up the term cognitive dissonance, since that is the first hurdle that has to be overcome.  It isn't used nearly so much now as it was a decade ago.  Our fast-paced society today is one that is too often running faster in place and one way that we do that is by constantly discarding terminology before we fully assimilate its meaning to the point of understanding that we acquire the ability to educate others.  People can never appreciate the importance of what they don't understand.

    We all have to be educators today.

    Chief neoconservative/fundamentalist allied belief: All things are possible if only you lie.

    by blueoasis on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 03:45:15 PM PDT

    •  I appreciate this comment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, blueoasis

      And especially this part, because I can feel myself going through it right now ...

      I'm glad that you brought up the term cognitive dissonance, since that is the first hurdle that has to be overcome.  
      In all the convention enthusiasm, and the thrill of the competition, and seeing "my side" doing so well compared to the other side, and hearing "my side" saying such beautiful-sounding things ...

      I keep forgetting a nagging little voice inside that says, "Wait a minute.  'My' side is still the administration that hasn't done a damned thing for the last 3 1/2 years to even investigate the Wall Street criminals, let alone hold them accountable for destroying the economy and for the terrible damage they have done to the lives of tens -- hundreds -- of millions of Americans."

      With all the beautiful rhetoric and imagery, and feeling myself actually responding to it, I can't avoid going back to that one basic, unavoidable fact -- and I feel repulsed at my own enthusiasm, and can't help feeling we're just being played once again by Wall Street-bought manipulators.

  •  radio makes national rational discussion impossibl (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, elwior, mightymouse

    most of the steps that got us here would not have happened without a talk radio monopoly getting a free speech free ride to create well-misinformed constituencies to enable the liars and corruption.

    until we fix that radio problem it's going to be impossible to have rational discussions on a national level about campaign finance reform and media reform and election reform.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 04:53:54 PM PDT

    •  That would involve restoring (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, mightymouse

      the Fairness Doctrine...and you'd better believe the GOP, fronted by Faux News, would be howling "That's unfair!"

      But radio only got toxic after RayGun kicked the Fairness Doctrine under the GOP bus.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 12:59:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  fairness doctrine unnecessary for election differe (0+ / 0-)

        nce. clearly nothing will get done without supermajorities but even then until the left recognizes how much they've been punked by talk radio and how much it dominates even that might not make the difference- 'they've got radio we've got internet ' is a common retort, but stupid.

        some modified form of FD maybe long term may be good precaution for a democracy but monopoly protection might do similar.

        but the left could destroy the current radio monopoly by demanding state universities pull away from partisan radio- RW radio clearly is inconsistent with any university mission statement and students and faculty should have no problem making a case for universities to pull out and find alternatives or demand balance if they'r going to stay. a few pulling out would cause other to and any that did would suck local sponsors and destroy those stations. there may be more than 1/3- 1/2 that depend on those associations.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 05:24:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The People are working towards a solution (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noodles, mrkvica, elwior

    Mr. Moyers,
    This is a great post.  You definitely make a lot powerful points.  It's hard to believe that Kennedy didn't see this coming.  Corporate money has taken such a hold on things that the only way to make changes is for the people to demand it.  

    Directing Democracy is an online initiative that began earlier in the summer.  We sought the collective intelligence of the online community to select a topic that is a challenge to our nation and write legislation to address it.  They chose campaign finance reform and developed a bill that featured a voucher model similar to the one championed by Lawrence Lessig along with some other amendments to highlight any other issues that may come up.

    We will be going on the road in the weeks before the election to talk to voters about the bill and hear their opinions about campaign finance reform.  We plan to deliver the final bill to every member of the House in November.  You can check out our website at  We'd love to chat with you about this while we're in D.C.

    Again, great post.

    The Directing Democracy Team

  •  Sorry Bill, not much outrage at Daily Kos (4+ / 0-)

    I think the most significant change we could make to our political system would be establishing publicly funded elections that compete head to head with pay to play politics. But when I've brought it up here, the response is mostly crickets chirping.

    I was especially disappointed with the Occupy movement failing to grasp that needed change and using it as an engine for fairness. There was that one season when it could have been as talked about along with fairness and perhaps would have been an issue discussed at least in passing tonight at the convention. Most disappointingly with #OWS , even the crickets were also staying quiet on that point or people would be arguing with me about my having an agenda in an agenda-less movement. Or about how direct action was more effective than anything else that could possibly be imagined.

    Of course there are always a couple enthusiastic responses but I don't see removing money from politics being served on the liberal menu any time soon.

  •  I don't see how we reduce the influence of money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, NoMoreLies

    in politics without reducing the influence of money in nearly everything these days, including capitalism itself. As things currently stand, money plays such a disproportionate role in pretty much every facet of our society that it increasingly serves as a barrier to entry and success to all but the very rich or very talented.

    I have no problem with the latter succeeding, and I don't even have a problem with the former, so long as they're not as hyper-privileged as they are today. That's not just wrong, it's unhealthy, to our economy and society. When only the very rich and very best can succeed, everyone else--i.e. the vast majority--suffer. And that's just wrong, as it is dangerous, because it leads to overall mediocrity in society as a whole (and if you disagree, look to other societies in history that also disproportionately favored elites, like the late Roman empire, France in the late 1700's and the post-revolutionary Soviet Union).

    Look at our economy. It's suffering to a great extent because it disproportionately favors the very rich, who have been sucking it dry with unproductive financial trickery rather than keeping it productive and growing with real investment. Look at sports. Look at health care. Look at food, housing, jobs, schools, infrastructure, art, culture, and pretty much everything else that matters in our lives. They have all, like politics, like our economy, like our souls, become corrupted, degraded and diminished by the overinfluence of money over them. The overinfluence of money in politics is merely symptomatic of the overinfluence of money in EVERYTHING.

    And that has to be reversed, or we're all screwed. Money is not evil, or even the source of all evil. It's merely the instrument of evil, if evil is so allowed to wield it.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 08:32:25 PM PDT

  •  I think it has to come bottom up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emidesu, elwior, Noodles

    Two things were much missing from in politics and global climate change.

    On the former, I think this is going to come from the states. The problem with changing the system from the top down is the top is already compromised and not interested in deconstructing its power structure. Pols often lament how much time they spend fundraising; but no side wants to unilaterally disarm.

    There are seven states already who've passed resolutions and more on the way. I'm not entirely clear (not being much of a Constitutional scholar) how the process should go, but I know it can be started in the states, and seemingly even concluded there...

  •  Nancy Pelosi (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, elwior, Noodles, NoMoreLies

    Interviewed on PBS September 4 outlined her approach


    Disclose the funding source of all political advertising and activity.

    Amend the constitution to reverse the Citizens United decision to allow Corporations the right to free speech.

    Regulate elections by public campaign financing

    Elect campaign finance reformers.

    What are the odds for success?

    •  Probably bad odds... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, jotter

      but at least she's nailed down the pathway.

      Now we need her back as Speaker, and a ton of Better Democrats to vote for D.A.R.E.

      Because you know not one Rethug would vote for it.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 01:03:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Civil Unrest-Authoritarian Response-Enlightenment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am not overstating my belief that because of the corruption of our society causing the extreme inequality of income will beget massive civil unrest and violence within a short period of time.

    What may follow is an authoritarian government, perhaps led by a demogogue then hopeful enlightenment of truly changing the capitalistic system.

    Because of the corruption in both parties; the aforementioned may be inevitable. My only hope is the Dems win and Obama is able to appoint an additional 2-3 Supreme Court Justices in addition to the lower court justices he appoints.Not for my sake but for the sake of my children and grandchildren. It may help lesson the chance of civil unrest and violence and promote democracy and citizen action to take back our country.

    Living in Europe; I realize the US still has the major positive force of The Equality of Opportunity not found anywhere else in the world, but its a double edged sword in that class in the US is defined by how much money you have or can make, not by the bloodlines etc. of Europe. But the double edge is it is defined by Money, which has helped to decimate the values of social justice.

    We have very little time to change the system without the ramifications of citizen violence but the courts must be changed and peoples' attitudes towards each other must be more than getting my share of the pie and more about living in a fair society. France, where I have lived, has a much better way and quality of life which would be envied by 80% of the US if they knew about it. France has many problems but their society was changed for the good by their revolutions. My hope is ours can be changed by a nonviolent revolution. I am not confident it can be.

  •  Lori Compas was the outrage (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, elwior, NoMoreLies, aliasalias

    A couple of days after she lost her bid to recall Republican Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald, she gave an interview to MSNBC where she explained what is wrong with this country's politics in nine words: "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction."

    Joe Lieberman, Mike Madigan, Andrew Cuomo, and Tim Cullen...why are they Democrats?

    by DownstateDemocrat on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 11:17:40 PM PDT

  •  I hear you but I have to vote for Obama because (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, niemann, NoMoreLies

    the alternative is unspeakable. Today I stood outside Dem
    HQ with about 20 others, a few from Occupy, a few from Peace Action and some Raging Grannies who came as civilians. We want Obama to free Bradley Manning. Some called on Obama to stop torturing people and to stop killing with drones; others had signs saying "We like you Pres. Obama but we want you to do the right thing". There were a lot of local media there taking photos and doing lightweight interviews.  The volunteers at Dem HQ were gearing up for a convention watch party. Many of them stood outside the HQ entrance watching us. The police came and told us to stay on the sidewalk. They looked ridiculously grim, as if they were there to stop a murder rather than a mild demonstration. It was hot and I was dehydrated. I went inside Dem HQ and had some lemonade before I realized the watchparty was charging ten bucks. I was troubled because I wasn't comfortable moving from the Demo to the HQ; and the people inside the HQ were troubled, too. None of us want to hinder Obama but like me, many noticed Clinton's mention of Bowles-Simpson and suspect Obama will weaken Social Security and Medicare for a "deal" with the repliKKKans.
    A woman who recently joined the Raging Grannies said to me re: the demonstration, "It's always the same people, isnt' it. Why aren't there hundreds of people?"

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 03:14:27 AM PDT

  •  We're bring drowned out by the rotten 1% & their (0+ / 0-)

    Minions. The evil Supremes said money is speech.

    Evil is winning.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 09:21:08 AM PDT

    •  It seems so but the moral arc of the universe (0+ / 0-)

      bends toward justice, It's just that if you have a big enough lever you can deflect it.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

      by slouching on Fri Sep 07, 2012 at 04:40:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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