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Intro: "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."

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: Robin Holland)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: Robin Holland)

Money in Politics: Where Is the Outrage?

By Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger, Reader Supported News

30 August 12


e 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 superrich 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 $l0 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 journalists 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.

The journalist Bill Moyers and the 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.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+45 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-08-30 12:51
THANK YOU Bill Moyers.
+59 # g2g 2012-08-30 12:57
Without Bill Moyers, Bernie Sanders and a very few other "rational" and "national" voices, I would fear for my sanity.
+24 # Bob P 2012-08-30 13:02
So, what to do? I'm a thousandaire, not a billionaire. It feels like using my pea shooter can only lead to crucifixion. What to do?
+4 # lexy677 2012-08-30 20:45
Emigrate. Leave the sinking ship since you cannot do anything to save it. I would take my own advise if I had the money.
-27 # edge 2012-08-30 13:08
Obama and McCain BOTH pledged to use Public financing in their campaigns!

Obama LIED when he found he could raise more than McCain, it was not his first lie and as we all know now that it would be one of very many lies!
+8 # Wake up America 2012-08-30 18:17
+13 # independentmind 2012-08-30 19:43
I am a Obama supporter, but I agree that he missed the boat when he did not take up McCain's call. He would have made history if he had.

However a LOT more lies are being perpetuated by the Republicans than by Obama. There is NO comparison - those guys are using the propaganda machine on a par with the Nazi's. Really scary.
+26 # bluemoonwoman 2012-08-30 13:13
Bill Moyers says it like it is. We are in deep trouble folks and like Einstein said ( a paraphrase)" You can't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results." Those of you out there who think that voting is going to make a huge difference are in denial about the current realities of this country. The quicksand is up to our necks and if we don't look now and act appropriately, what little is left of our republic will be gone, if it isn't already. Those who think that one side is very different than the other are not seeing the smoking mirrors for what they are. While we are battling each other over who is right, the country is being taken from us, hook, line and sinker, and the cabal who is behind BOTH parties is having a huge laugh at our expense. Emotional pandering to our sense of what America was, is not looking clearly at what we are now, and the America of our past is long gone. The problem with the Third Reich is that we never could believe that the politics of Nazi Germany could happen here in a different form. Well they could, and it could be called, " Friendly Fascism." That is until the curtain closes, and elections are over. Then the curtain goes down, and
we are in the hands of tyrants who have their own agenda.
+20 # James Marcus 2012-08-30 13:17
OUTRAGE! Indeed.
There! I said it.
'The Money' has now fully corrupted:
'Rules of Accounting'
'Rule of Law'
'Principles of Democracy'
'The U S Constitution'
'The Vote' (ALL candidates now represent The Money)

Where, and How, will this Charade end?
How about a beginning?
Publicly funded National/State/ City elections!
No Campaign, or 'Other' Contributions to Politicians, their Parties, relatives, corporations, etc. At ALL, None!
+10 # Wake up America 2012-08-30 18:16
I agree, but how do we actually do this?
+11 # Wolfchen 2012-08-30 23:29
Public Financing of Elections NOW!
This is mandatory for any real reform that has a chance of restoring democracy!

Public financing of elections NOW!
Put it on bumper stickers, in your demands presented to the media and all politicians, in your discussions at social, educational and church meetings. Discuss it over the dinner table and at water coolers. They want our votes? Then let them declare that they will vigorously pursue Publicly Financed Elections. Replace No More Taxes with Publicly Financed Elections NOW.

We want to restore democracy and justice? Well damn it, lets all loudly and relentlessly demand that public financing of elections is a prerequisite for our support during all elections. No more timidity...let' s do it now. Present such a demand to all candidates during the upcoming elections, and don't let mealy-mouthed non-responses be acceptable.

Unified and insistent action for this goal is achievable.
+16 # MidwestTom 2012-08-30 13:17
The QE;s have generated so much cash for the bankers and banks that they now can buy anything they want. Meanwhile the small donors are suffering in this economy. Simply reversing Citizens United will not change anything, except maybe the number of political TV ads. We need to level the playing field by changing the rules around banking. The money isn't going away, and neither is the generation of new money,. Money will find a way to 'pick' the candidate it prefers.
-2 # RLF 2012-08-31 05:06
Sure we need to change the rules...PROBLEM IS WE CAN'T CHANGE THE RULES!
+30 # robniel 2012-08-30 13:20
It's amazing. What was once a respected body within the U.S. government is now regarded as a gang of partisan ideologues. The Roberts court will go down in history as a corrupt assemblage. Only Cheney will be more vilified.
+9 # MidwestTom 2012-08-30 13:23
Please note that Obama is not pushing for small donors like in 2008. He too has seen the lights of Wall Street. Why waste time on Main street when you can go to Hollywood or NYC and host $50,000 per guest events. Democracy as we have known it is dead. Look at the Republicans, apparently Ron Paul actually won three states if all of the votes and counties were counted, but some back room rule changes, and he does not even get to speak. After Obama showed us who he really is, why hasn't anyone challenged him form the progressive side of the party. It is all about money friends.
+21 # idigoldcars 2012-08-30 13:43
The observations are perceptive and as always the presentation flawless.
The outrage exists, and in great amount.
The problem is not a lack of outrage, but a frustration about where to direct it.
Who can we elect? To what agency can we address our concerns? Which business to embargo?
There is no end to outrage - but the system Mr. Moyers eplains is a juggernaut against which it appears no assault is possible.
Where do we direct our outrage? Against which wall do we bang our head?
+10 # Wake up America 2012-08-30 18:14
As with everything, many are outraged but have no courage to stand up. They are threatened by their businesses being affected, being disowned by those who don't respect any discussion who doesn't side with them. Yes, we must be strong. But as I have told my sons, If you don't stand up change cannot occur. It only takes one to make a difference. I know most do not believe this as truth! Take a risk. Have integrity and address issues honestly. We can make a difference. We need a team to move all us outraged citizens to a place of positive movement and respectful discussion. It's time for non-partisan politics to finally begin for all Americans and not just for power!
-2 # RLF 2012-08-31 05:12
The problem is we have a huge uneducated (and proud or it) group that sits comfortably at home, thinking things are really bad but having no idea why they are bad because they are dumb and told by all of their football buddies that that is the way to stay. When people have to work so much they have no time to watch at is when things will change...that will happen after the Republicans get in office and overreach...eve n worse than they did in the banking scandal. The Dems won't change a thing because they are after the money too, and they are in DC so much that nothing but conventional wisdom, which is all right wing, floats around their empty little heads.
+5 # WolfTotem 2012-08-30 13:51
Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for a marvelously eloquent essay on the great evil that has engulfed us all.

As a student, over 50 years ago, I’d get into discussions with people of all political persuasions. I often went to Franco’s Spain, where the official view presented the USA as an oligarchy with a democratic figleaf, controlled by big money via lobbies.

I didn’t buy that then, but now it’s for certain. And has been for a long time.


Time to reflect on the Declaration of Independence and the revolutionary principles on which the American Republic was founded. And to act accordingly, NOW, or see that republic lost, perhaps forever. With all the dreadful consequences that would entail for the whole world.
+19 # mike444 2012-08-30 13:56
Greeks rise up against bad economic conditions, so do Spanish, British, and other nations. Americans don't get mad at much of anything. Economic buying power goes to the devil , oh well. Millionaires getting tax cuts while you pay more, yawn - wonder whats on cable tonight? Progressive and moderate candidates get mowed down and reich wing conservatives get elected, to bad....

I mean we even had the occupy movement, it looked good for a month or two, but they had no purpose, they were aimless, but well intentioned.
I think we are getting to be
A Nation of Sheep.
+22 # noitall 2012-08-30 14:13
Great article! Where is the outrage? diluted across the board of so many things to be outraged about! The 99% got criticized for not being clear of what they were outraged about (although the signs were a pretty comprehensive list of things worthy of being outraged about). As Americans, we're not used to focusing on the root of problems. We start "wars" on things and pick at the leaves, finding ways to reward those who pick a lot of leaves (and the rewards are lavish, i.e. private prisons). We've got to all agree to focus our voice and our outrage on the root, MONEY that has made an auction out of our election and agents out of our "representative s". We need a million people, a million physically present, silent People, standing peacefully outside the Supreme Court, awaiting justice and demanding that they inject the antidote undoing the poison that they injected into the nation with "Corporations are people". Simple as that; our "leaders" won't represent our outrage, that we know for sure!
+18 # WolfTotem 2012-08-30 15:06
Quoting noitall:
We need a million people, a million physically present, silent People, standing peacefully outside the Supreme Court, awaiting justice and demanding that they inject the antidote undoing the poison that they injected into the nation with "Corporations are people". Simple as that; our "leaders" won't represent our outrage, that we know for sure!

Bob P and idigoldcars ask “What to do?” and Mike444, how to defeat them?
Well, here's for starters.
But the main thing's: ASSOCIATE.
We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Remember the American Revolution. And remember Louis Brandeis: "You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both..."

What do YOU choose?

+25 # Vern Radul 2012-08-30 14:16
Yes. This happened to Rome, too.

The history books will be full of it for the next few millienia, trying to dissect why 310 million Americans sat there acting like they were outnumbered by a few thousand wall streeters, media moguls, insurance company and weapons manufacturer execs and other assorted 'plutocrats', 100 senators, 435 congresspeople, and maybe a couple of hundred in the US Administration, and never got mad enough to do anything about it.
+7 # Vern Radul 2012-08-30 15:32
Just. Sat. There.....
+20 # Wake up America 2012-08-30 14:28
Thank you Bill for such an accurate account of why Americans should be concerned and Wake Up! We continue to sell our souls to the highest bidder, including foreign business and leadership. Who continues to sell out America? Look in the mirror and ask yourself. Are you one of the culprits? As I have gotten older and wiser, I as many college students I know have become cynical. We have lost trust and belief in the American way, opportunity for ALL. Social issues are as important as economical. I believe and live this truth. Those who proclaim being religious, Christian should live the honest truth for which they say they believe. There is such hypocrisy in our world, crossing all lines and all issues. Why is religion always used when it's convenient and manipulative to buy votes. We are all the same. We all have morals and values, and some of us live by them. We all make mistakes and use poor judgement. No matter where you come from, no matter what religion you are, we ALL live our life with a sense of family, community, ethics and integrity. Do not proclaim that one lives a life with more integrity that others. Religion in politics continues to concern me as an American who believes we should not discriminate or stand behind a screen of dishonesty. I personally know too many so-called religious peole who do not live their beliefs and truths.
+2 # Vern Radul 2012-08-30 15:17
"When the music's over, turn out the light..."
+7 # brux 2012-08-30 15:29
At this point removing money from the election process is akin to a revolution, just about like raising taxes would be.

We are stuck on a course of disaster and there is no way to change it that I can see. It is very painful and sad to see this happening in the country where virtually my whole being has been allied with since birth - it's worse than having a child, parent or best friend come down with a terminal disease. We can always hope things will go into remission ... but come on ... does anybody see any way to change this.

And if there was, the thugs or killers with guns would come out just as they did with JFK, MLK or RFK. No wonder politicians do not want to make any scenes or heroic moves - and anyone with a makeup that would try to be a hero would never get close to running anything.

I think this has to track back to something like the Mafia, if not the Mafia itself.

What might save the day is a real distributed government, something like a political Wiki where people can vote and verify their votes. There is already a system somewhere that can compute criminal sentences more fairly and objectively than human judges ... this is the future.
+12 # vgirl1 2012-08-30 15:32
The lack of outrage is two fold:

1) Those supporting the Vulture/Voucher ticket are glad for the lies the money can buy as they care not what it brings as long as it takes that Black man out of their White House.

2) Those who do care (liberals and progressives) seem to think sitting on the sidelines because they did not get all that they wanted when they wanted it is appropriate regardless of the power that yields to the TPrepublicans, just as in 2010 when they let the TPRepublicans take over the US House.
+12 # WolfTotem 2012-08-30 16:34
Quoting vgirl1:
...just as in 2010 when they let the TPRepublicans take over the US House.

The sentence is unclear. I suppose you mean the House of Representatives.

If so, yes... "We the People" all went home after the inauguration ceremony and reverted to couch-potatodom.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell vowed to sabotage the new President's every move - and did so. No one screamed "Treason!"
But, what else was it???

Worst of all, the President himself used "WE" to get elected but forgot - forsook? - his base and reverted to "I" thereafter, save for unsavory associations with various Goldman Sachs insiders and the like. And thought this would enable him to negotiate with GOP extremists. Like Chamberlain & Daladier talking to Hitler.

Now it's essential to re-elect him, and at the same time to ensure strong support in Congress, then to barrack Barack mercilessly by every means possible into representing his electors, and the true interests of 310 m. Americans.

Meanwhile, advance the career of Mrs Warren. And hold together. Form active political associations, like those that made American democracy great. Never, never revert to passivity. Never give up.
+2 # Vern Radul 2012-08-30 15:50
Turn them on, turn them on,
Turn on those sad songs,
When every little bit of hope is gone,
Sad songs say so much...
0 # cordleycoit 2012-08-30 16:45
What do you expect they gave all the loose change in America to a pack of politicians and what did the do with all that money?They wasted it just like all politicians do. Don't give them money all the do is end up power drunk in an alley. You are killing them with money make them quit totally.
+7 # WolfTotem 2012-08-30 16:50
RSN, what happened to this comment? Why remove it?

Thank you, Mr. Moyers, for a marvelously eloquent essay on the great evil that has engulfed us all.
As a student, over 50 years ago, I’d get into discussions with people of all political persuasions. I often went to Franco’s Spain, where the official view presented the USA as an oligarchy with a democratic figleaf, controlled by big money via lobbies. I didn’t buy that then, but now it’s for certain. And has been for a long time.


Time to reflect on the Declaration of Independence and the revolutionary principles on which the American Republic was founded. And to act accordingly, NOW, or see that republic lost, perhaps forever. With all the dreadful consequences that would entail for the whole world.
+12 # Wolfchen 2012-08-30 18:26
ATTENTION: Bill Moyers,

Before the upcoming election, please have as a guest on your program Matt Taibbi to discuss in detail his expose on the Bain-Romney corruptive impact on our nation.

This is of critical importance for maintaining our democracy. His message needs wide distribution and exposure before the elections.

Romney and Bain: The True Story
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
29 August 12
+4 # GREG L 2012-08-30 19:34
Funny, I was reading this piece today in the American Conservative entitled Revolt of the Rich:

Ironically, the author makes many of the same points that Moyers makes above. This piece and Moyers analysis are similar and both are spot on. This sort of non-partisan wake up call where we get beyond the liberal/conserv ative paradigm and begin to see matters as they actually are is precisely what's needed now. The whole left/right divide has been created and foisted upon the public consciousness to mask the real agenda. It really doesn't matter if Obama or Romney get elected, we're going to be moving in the same basic direction under either.
+6 # independentmind 2012-08-30 20:00
The first thing we need to do is refuse to send any of our families to the military. They are being used by those in power for their own ends. The only way to stop the wars is to refuse to provide cannon fodder.

The second thing we need to do is to shut down all the television stations and radio stations - complete blackouts for a few years if possible - to let people wake up and talk to each other instead of being brainwashed.

Thirdly we have to throw every one of the politicians out and start with three new parties.
+2 # J.Glenn Evans 2012-08-30 21:05
Wake UP Slaves,that is what the mega Corporations and banksters along with their partners, the Democratic and Republican parties have made us have made us with their bloody money. Accepting the lesser of two evils, you still have evil. A vote away from these two corrupted parties is an act of true patriotism. Take a look at Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. He's one of the best candidates that we have had since Thomas Jefferson.
J. Glenn Evans
+2 # John Steinsvold 2012-08-30 21:58
An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative". She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."~ Albert Einstein
+4 # Rick Levy 2012-08-31 01:35
"The Tea Party, the religious right, and a host of billionaires dominate the Republican Party. Secret money fills its coffers."

Moyers hit the nail on the head. It seems as though there has been a strong relationship between the rise in national power of the religious right and the increase in greed in American politics since the former began its ascent in the late 1970's.
+9 # mikes1060 2012-08-31 06:42
From Germany where I'm at for a month:

Item 1: Unemployment rate=5.24%
Item 2: Met a kid who is a waiter here from Freeport, IL. HS Grad, No Family here--he is working and none of his friends back home who went to college are.
Item 3: Deutshe Bank VP on CNN Intl "We will have dollar parity with the Euro within the year"
Item 4: My German is rough, but 90% of Germans under age 70 speak excellent English. And this country is safe and beautiful...
Item 5: Murders in Germany= 206 (85 Million pop) Murders in US= 9700+

I know everyone can't do this, but why should a working person stay in a country that is no longer for us? This is why my grandfather left Italy in 1907...America: Love it or leave it? What happens when my country stops loving its people? What to do then?
+2 # walt 2012-08-31 07:25
Our most pressing problem remains that our government is owned and operated by money powers and does not represent the American people.

Are we ready to stand up and fight by demanding government of, by, and for the people? If not, we will continue to get the best government money can buy.

The choice is with the voters!
+7 # vgirl1 2012-08-31 08:53



(Make the Teabagger funders regret that they wasted all that money trying to buy an election with their downpayments on future political favors)
+2 # balconesfalk 2012-09-02 12:11
"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."

I found these quotes elsewhere but it says to me that Obama has not learned the lessons from his years in the office. The Republican opposition to him and everything he stands for is non-negotiable. They are intent on buying our democracy in order to dismantle it. The logical outcome to this ideal is anarchy.

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