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Bill Moyers: "So, not only does the Norquist Pledge symbolize a 'political system short on legitimacy,' as Christopher Caldwell wrote, it isn't even about principle or ideology. Conservatism my foot, it's all about the money."

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)


The Truth Behind Grover Norquist's Pledge

By Bill Moyers, Moyers and Company

11 December 12

 

 

ILL MOYERS: Don't you wonder just who is this Grover Norquist who has such a maniacal hold on the Republican Party? Mickey Edwards isn't the only conservative who would like to see the party free itself from his grip. Writing in the "Financial Times" last week, the conservative journalist Christopher Caldwell describes the Norquist Pledge as a “partisan document,” “a ratchet driving taxes down to unsustainable levels,” and it “symbolizes a political system short on legitimacy.” Norquist claims the pledge is something politicians make to their constituents, not to him. But Caldwell wonders “who authorized him to collect politicians' signatures on their constituents' behalf.”

Even this misses the main point. Norquist's efforts - keep taxes low for his donor base, billionaires like the Koch brothers and the plutocrats secretly clustered around Norquist's comrade, Karl Rove. This past election, Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, spent nearly $16 million to support his favored candidates; that's according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Where did that money come from, and what did it buy? Back in the 1990's it was the tobacco industry backing Norquist's fight against cigarette taxes; now it's the pharmaceutical companies, among others. Not long ago, this same Grover Norquist was using his organization to launder money for the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff. How about that for tax reform!

Check it out yourself in the documentary "Capitol Crimes" on our website BillMoyers.com. You'll see the story of how the man who has the Republican Party under his thumb came to Washington to start a revolution and wound up running a racket. Now he's the proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him. So, not only does the Norquist Pledge symbolize a "political system short on legitimacy," as Christopher Caldwell wrote, it isn't even about principle or ideology. Conservatism my foot, it's all about the money.

 

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+173 # fredboy 2012-12-11 10:21
How did anyone with even a degree of conscience ever get involved with the little creep Norquist? This troll is dangerous and in practice un-American. I hope all newly elected officials will shun this bastard.
 
 
+48 # brux 2012-12-11 15:25
> I hope

Yeah ... me too, but hope is awfully weak compared to money, power and psychopathology on the other side.
 
 
+109 # Barbara K 2012-12-11 10:47
Absolutely! No matter what it it, it is always about the money. The sooner we can purge the Rs from the government, the sooner we can get jobs back and the country on her feet again. They boulders blocking our recovery and need to be rolled out of the way. Norquist is a traitor and all those signing his stupid "pledge" are traitors. The only pledge they should be doing is the Oath of Office. Any other pledge is treasonous.
 
 
+41 # David Starr 2012-12-11 10:58
The Truth Behind Grover Norquist's Pledge: Potential purgery.
 
 
+11 # Interested Observer 2012-12-11 19:13
Perjury.
 
 
+4 # David Starr 2012-12-13 15:41
@Interested Observer: Thank you.
 
 
+85 # wrodwell 2012-12-11 11:00
Go, Bill Moyers!!
It seems that all right wing "philosophical" or "ideological" initiatives are always about the money if one digs deep enough.
If Right Wingers succeed in their relentless zeal to emasculate workers, America will devolve into a serf-based socio-economic system lorded over by a Plutocracy, turning the country into the world's largest "company store". We're incrementally moving in that direction already. It'll be the economic version of "global warming" and like global warming, it's a human-made phenomenon.
 
 
+17 # Bob P 2012-12-11 12:55
Those are awfully big "increments".
 
 
+19 # portiz 2012-12-11 11:04
Please watch this clip from TP. IMHO it summarizes the entire issue in a simple, but not simplistic, way:
http://front.moveon.org/hollywood-legend-ed-asner-has-outraged-republicans-over-this-animated-short/#.UMdv_7fCIi4.facebook

PASS IT ON!!!
 
 
+43 # happycamper690 2012-12-11 11:15
I'd like to see George Lakoff's reading on why Republicans are blindly obidient to mind controllers like Rove, Limbaugh and Norquist. Of course, now all we have to do is find a progressive hypnotist and get them all marching to the left.
 
 
+95 # humanmancalvin 2012-12-11 11:22
One sad issue involving the Norquist pledge is the vast amount of poor/middle class Republicans that support it. How they do not seem to have any clue whatsoever that they are being used by people that have more walking around money on a Tuesday afternoon than they will probably make all year, or even ten years worth. The recent study conducted (was it real?--doesn't really matter because it is right on) that shows Fox viewers to test 20% less on the IQ test than their Democrat MSNBS leftie Commie counterparts.
There is a damned good reason why the GOP wants to axe teachers unions & cut school spending. Keep the gullible as dumbed down as humanly possible.
This to me is truly sad.
 
 
+52 # tclose 2012-12-11 11:39
Agree with humanmancalvin - the poor and middle class who vote Repubs don't have a clue that they are voting against their own interests. And FOR the interests of the wealthy.
 
 
+38 # Texas Aggie 2012-12-11 13:24
It wouldn't be so bad if they were sacrificing their well-being for the good of the country, but they aren't, and they just don't realize it. Voting against your own interests isn't necessarily bad if you have a reason for it. But not only are they voting against their interests, they are voting against the country's interests as well.
 
 
+9 # soularddave 2012-12-12 19:57
don't they want to "starve government until it's so small it can be drowned in a bathtub"? That says it all. They don't want to be regulated or taxed.

They're out of hand!
 
 
+1 # zornorff 2012-12-20 18:08
It is not about money for those folks; it is more about the republicans' message(s) resonating with them...republic ans in power are closet racists and hypocrites that have contempt for the very people that vote them in, but are really talented in the way they keep the less educated stirred up and angry.
 
 
+52 # doneasley 2012-12-11 12:16
Quoting humanmancalvin:
One sad issue involving the Norquist pledge is the vast amount of poor/middle class Republicans that support it... There is a damned good reason why the GOP wants to axe teachers unions & cut school spending. Keep the gullible as dumbed down as humanly possible.
This to me is truly sad.


Calvin, that's the part of this whole Norquist pledge business that I don't understand - people who vote for politiciians and policies that will harm their own well-being and that of their families and friends. Don't forget that Norquist's goal is to shrink the government to a point that he can "drown it in a bathtub".

Bottom line: There is not enough revenue coming into the government to sustain the American Social Safety Net. And the pittance that President Obama is asking from the rich is certainly not enough. They need to pay much more than they're paying now when you consider how they've thrived at a time when the poor and middle class are suffering. How can Mitt Romney and his rich buddies be paying 13% OR LESS in taxes when everyone else pays at a much higher rate? And poor and middle class Republicans are supporting this?

OBSCENE AND TRULY SAD!!!
 
 
+10 # T4D 2012-12-11 19:09
"Calvin, that's the part of this whole Norquist pledge business that I don't understand - people who vote for politiciians and policies that will harm their own well-being and that of their families and friends."

Read "What's the Matter with Kansas."
Long-gone native Kansan.
 
 
+54 # Tigre1 2012-12-11 11:24
Norquist? he's all about subversion of the U.S. government. Government has two (2) powers: killing and taxing. The Robber baron billionaires are fighting to NEVER pay taxes, and they aim to be more powerful than the government...he nce, "No Taxes"...on billionaires, they're TOO BIG for government...so Norquistling IS an agent of revolution, and agent of a group seeking to overpower our government and render it useless.

Anyone opposed to 'enemies of the Constitution, foreign and domestic' would arrest or kill him immediately.
 
 
+46 # Billo 2012-12-11 12:04
Norquist is practicing sedition against our Representative Democratic form of government. They intend to replace it with a limited plutocracy...li mited to whatever the large, multinational corporations wish to allow.
 
 
+19 # David Starr 2012-12-11 11:31
The truth behind Grover Nordquist's pledge: Potential purgery.
 
 
0 # David Starr 2012-12-13 15:42
@David Starr: Perjury, perjury.
 
 
+45 # Street Level 2012-12-11 11:35
The people who took this pledge are basically traitors in my book along with Grover and his stupid 3-day shadow.
What about their oath of office and to the country they swore to serve?
 
 
+42 # tuandon 2012-12-11 11:38
Who indeed "elected" Norquist to "look out for us constituents?" (I am not a Rethug, but still...) He is greed incarnate, and I for one wish, that, if he hates the government so much, he would just buy himself an island somewhere, go there, and BUTT OUT of our business. If he wants a weak government, if he wants no taxes, if he is a 2nd Amendment lover, I will gladly buy him a ticket to Somalia. Good riddance you crooked skunk.
 
 
+42 # afrizunk 2012-12-11 11:44
OK, so in Michigan the Democrats should run big full page ads of just how the 58 republican voters are financed and BY WHOM. Norquist is just part of the money trail and those buying votes(bribing MI republican politicians in this case)Expose them.
 
 
+53 # Larry 2012-12-11 11:47
The only pledge that any elected representative should make to anyone is the federal oath of office. By its terms, the oath must be given without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. Can that be said of a senator or cogressman who arrives in Washington already indentured to the taxophobe Grover Norquist, having pledged to reject any legislation that confilcts with Norquist's anti-tax campaign?

Anyone who signs such a pledge should be disqualified from holding a federal office.
 
 
+15 # NOMINAE 2012-12-11 15:44
@ Larry

Ten to the tenth power number of thumbs UP on *that* ENTIRE comment ! Exquisitely done !
 
 
+1 # geronimo 2012-12-14 15:12
Larry, your eloquence and impeccable reasoning might go a long way in waking people up to the realities that are bringing us down.
 
 
+34 # Billo 2012-12-11 12:01
Not only does one have to question "who authorized him to collect politicians' signatures on their 'constituents' behalf.” but also who is the one who will actively enforce the pledge with significant spending to fire those who violate same pledge?

Pledge to consitutants my ass.
 
 
+34 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-12-11 12:04
I'm repeating a comment made by Bill Maher a few weeks ago when Grover N. was a guest on his show:"so you're the man who destroyed America." The look on Grover's face-unforgetta ble.
 
 
+48 # fredboy 2012-12-11 12:08
Thus any and all who took the Nordquist pledge took a pledge against America. It is that simple, that clear, and that diabolical.
 
 
+15 # adolbe 2012-12-11 13:26
Norquist, to his defense a bit, is not a total ideologue he supports gay rights and other things. But his starve the beast mode is obviously dishonest as GOP can do, as Romney did, say they are lowering taxes while slamming Democrats for budget and defense cuts. It is a hustle andust be called as such
 
 
+31 # Texas Aggie 2012-12-11 13:27
"Conservatism my foot, it's all about the money."

I submit that conservatism and being all about the money are one and the same thing.

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
John Kenneth Galbraith
 
 
+3 # bingers 2012-12-13 08:53
Quoting Texas Aggie:
"Conservatism my foot, it's all about the money."

I submit that conservatism and being all about the money are one and the same thing.

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
John Kenneth Galbraith



The love of money is the root of all evil, and the one and only Republican tenet is money. Therefore, the entire Republican party is unredeemably evil. The Communist party used to be illegal, the Republican party has done millions of times more damage than the EAmerican Communist party ever did, and as such, they need to be outlawed.

Of course, the obvious never becomes law.
 
 
+5 # Todd Williams 2012-12-11 13:29
I too am stunned by the love shown by not-so-well-to- do TPs and Rethugs to Grover Nerdquist. He is selling them all down the proverbial river as ordered by the thugs who control this creep. He fits quite nicely into the Rethug/Facist Piggie Party. Although I am fairly certain he cannot be tried for treason, he could be run out of Washington on a rail like what was done to that old con man, Joeseph Smith, in Kirtland, Ohio. Maybe Nerdquist can go live in Salt Lake City. His efforts would be much appreciated by the LDS creeps.
 
 
+23 # Fraenkel.1 2012-12-11 13:47
If Norquist managed to get rid of taxes the resulting public services which would be lost to tax cuts would be privatized and without oversight thus further enriching his friends among he wealthy. Surely that was, is, his unspoken agenda. Interesting that he also seems to be a crook.
 
 
+15 # Fraenkel.1 2012-12-11 14:01
It just occurred to me that the Republicans resemble the "Silly Party" fro Monty Python. I believe they proposed that school end on the kid's 14th birthday.
 
 
-41 # Martintfre 2012-12-11 14:20
ITs the SPENDING STUPID


it is always easyier to promise to spend some one elses money that you dont have then to be limited to spending your own.

Decades of Compromise is how we ended up with a 16.3 trillion dollar debt
 
 
+5 # soularddave 2012-12-12 20:03
So who got rich from all that government spending???

Possibly the rich entrepreneurs who sell goods and services to the government? The industrialists of the military-indust rial complex? The oil men who extract oil from government land (and off-shore)?
 
 
+23 # szq5777 2012-12-11 14:21
You have heard that old male macho saying, "Keep them barefoot, pregnent, and in the kitchen"? Well the republicans want to keep the American people "poor, stupid, and quiet"! That way we are much easier to control!
 
 
-37 # Martintfre 2012-12-11 17:57
Quoting szq5777:
You have heard that old male macho saying, "Keep them barefoot, pregnent, and in the kitchen"? Well the republicans want to keep the American people "poor, stupid, and quiet"! That way we are much easier to control!



And how were we able to do that???

I will tell ya.

With a fooly implemented centralized government and union controlled education system.
 
 
-5 # szq5777 2012-12-11 14:54
I think that Norquest is a Muslum. He is married to a Muslum woman from Jorden and is the founder of and supports groups that promote "understanding" and communication between Muslums and Christians. I believe that he realy wants to destroy this country. In my mind he is using his self made power base to undermine our democracy. He is a trator! Republicans are fools for being intimidated by him!
 
 
+8 # brux 2012-12-11 16:51
I would guess the Norquist along with Kissinger works with a lot of covert money investments of Arab/Muslims nations, taking a hefty percentage for evading American laws so Saudis and others can corrupt the country. These people are the clearest and most present threat to the country, even the day after 911 this was true. We can easily fight radical Islam, but what we have a hard time with is invaders from inside the country who just do not care about America at all when it comes to millions of dollars.

They all should be in prison.
 
 
+6 # bingers 2012-12-13 08:56
Quoting szq5777:
I think that Norquest is a Muslum. He is married to a Muslum woman from Jorden and is the founder of and supports groups that promote "understanding" and communication between Muslums and Christians. I believe that he realy wants to destroy this country. In my mind he is using his self made power base to undermine our democracy. He is a trator! Republicans are fools for being intimidated by him!


So you think all Muslims are out to destroy the country? That's just stupid and bigoted. I doubt he's a Muslim, and I doubt he wants to destroy the country, just the middle class and turn everything over to his backers.

Which, in a way, may be destroying the country, but it's not ideological, it's just plain greed.
 
 
+10 # brux 2012-12-11 15:01
This is a very scientific number based attack on the whole American way of life, rationalized by the ignorance of most Americans about economics and math - PERIOD.

This guy is as much or more of a traitor than Benedict Arnold or any spy our country has ever had. He is certainly more of a traitor than Daniel Ellsberg or Bradley Manning.

We are in the middle of a Civil War that we do not understand and that will never end and we will lose unless we take powerful steps to control or end the military, political and economic elite in this country.

The only way to do that is to build up the power of the government under the control of the people, by sufficiently taxing rich people until they are transparent and controlled - ie. regulated by basic tenents of our country.
 
 
+11 # reiverpacific 2012-12-11 16:08
Norquist/ Rove's ideology, in my opinion, can be summed up in a fair description of the difference between "Conservatives" and "Reactionaries" (the latter often proudly claim to be the former but will generally and indignantly deny any overt reference or being named by their true allegiances*).
May I quote.
"A reactionary is one who wishes to resurrect the past, and reactionary ideologies are based on visions of the past, usually more mythical than real, which are intended to inspire political action in the present. A conservative, by contrast, should be one whose aim is not so much to resurrect the past as to conserve what he believes to be valuable in the traditions and institutions which still exist. In practice the difference between reactionaries and conservatives has been blurred. *Reactionaries have usually called themselves conservatives".
Again in my opinion, $16M is a hell of a lot for an anti-tax bod to piss down the drain and still lose out, as did Curdled Rove; but they are already back at it as, like Hitler at the end of his days as Fuhrer, never learn and will blame anybody but themselves for their demise and keep relentlessly pursuing their one-party goal.
They are also cowards, working from shadow groups behind curtains of reluctance by the owner-media to expose them.
As in Hamlet, we shoulkd perceive and stab 'em through their thick, concealing, spying and cajoling curtains: "Dead, dead for a ducat" "-Cardinal's Lackey"---!
 
 
+8 # sk8sonh2o 2012-12-11 16:26
Attacking Norquist will never bring tax fairness, not that you should stop attacking him. The right conflates high taxes with tyranny, authoritarianis m and inefficiency. It is up to government, then, to prove that it is benign, responsive, democratic and efficient. People need to know that trains demonstrably run on time, airplanes don't crash, the water really is safe to drink and the climate problem going to be addressed in a way that will be strategic and effective.
 
 
+8 # sk8sonh2o 2012-12-11 16:33
The last election was between TV and the Internet, and the Internet won. Grover Norquist's pledge campaign was a work of (evil) genius outside of both TV and the internet - it was a 1980's style 'grassroots' political action campaign with a powerfully demagogued promise. The operating method was confront members of Congress with a litmus test and ask them publicly if they would sign the pledge. That tactic could be used by us.
 
 
+10 # walt 2012-12-11 16:33
There are many who think that members of Congress who sign a pledge to Grover Norquist are in violation of their oath of office.

There is a petition against this at

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/impeach-all-politicians-who-signed-norquist-oath-violation-their-oath-government-usa/vQf9P7yh
 
 
-22 # Martintfre 2012-12-11 19:44
Most members of Congress are in violation of their oath of office.

For example: Why was Obama given a free pass on our unconstitutiona l attack on Libya?
 
 
+16 # humanmancalvin 2012-12-12 06:17
Oh my dear Martintfre...3 words for you good buddy:
1: Bush
2: Iraq
3: Hello
 
 
+5 # Ken Halt 2012-12-13 02:16
calvin: BRAVO! Pithy, trenchant, and amusing!
 
 
0 # motamanx 2012-12-15 05:05
Walt: I wish I could give you fifty "thumbs up" for this post.
 
 
+12 # politicfix 2012-12-11 22:12
If you watch the documentary "Casino Jack", you'll see that Abermoff was the fall guy in that scandal, but Norquist, Ralph Reid, and a whole list of Republicans that should have gone to jail along with Jack Ambermoff went free. None of them are afraid to do anything because they feel infallible with the backing of the likes of the Koch Brothers. Nothing happened to Karl Rove in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Scooter Libbey was the fall guy in 5hq5 senario, and he went to jail, but neither Karl Rove nor did Dick Cheney, were let go. Bush promised that he would procecute the person responsible for outing a CIA agent. He let Scooter take the fall for his VP and best buddy. How do these guys sleep at night. I guess you'd have to have fired your conscience long ago to be able to do what they continue to do. Cheney tried to get Bush to pardon Scooter before he left office, but even Bush had had enough as they made him look like a fool, and refused at the end. Rove and Cheney should have been procecuted. Obama should have indicted the whole Bush administration. ...and he didn't. Why doesn't Obama go after Norquist? It's not Constitutional to do what Norquist is doing or did all these years and Obama is a Constitutional lawyer. Again, the perpetrater isn't held responsibile. We have more crooks than heros in white hats.
 
 
+9 # Feral Dogz 2012-12-12 09:08
In a radio interview with Dianne Rehm, Grover displayed his hubris when he stated that those working to legalize marijuana would soon be without jobs because they are winning the battle, but that he would always have a job because people would always hate paying taxes. Can there be any doubt that its about anything other than the money for him?
 
 
+4 # tswhiskers 2012-12-13 07:12
I'm sure that power and ego are also an issue with Norquist and the republicans.
 
 
+4 # dkonstruction 2012-12-13 08:26
One of the points we should be screaming at the mainstream media is why are they putting this guy on the air as a credible spokesperson for anything given that he is a convicted con-man (from his days with Jack Abramoff when they conned/swindled native american tribes out of millions with their promises of bringing them gambling casinos).

He was on PBS (the News Hour) last night. As long as the major media outlets continue to give this jerk a platform people will listen. There is no reason to put him on the air, give him a voice, and portray him as a legitimate anything. he's a convicted con-man plain and simple. this is the unspoken crime here...can't blame Norquist for trying but we can blame those that give him just what he wants and needs; publicity, exposure and credibility.
 
 
+5 # giraffee2012 2012-12-14 18:07
Why does the media (even MSNBC) give Norquist time on air - without slamming him? It's disgusting!
 
 
+3 # motamanx 2012-12-15 05:03
Why is the question never asked of the politicians such as John Boehner who are pushing the country towards the fiscal cliff: "Did you sign the Norquist Pledge?" Does the pledge trump the congressperson' s Oath of Office, wherein he swore to uphold and defend the United States? Whoever signs such a pledge is, to me, a traitor to his country.
 
 
0 # bylatili 2012-12-19 16:19
It's time to try to break this man's hold over the GOP. I love that Bill Moyers has done this article. Now, tell your petitions that they have to stop listening to a lobbyist and start listening to the voters.
Sign my petition to send them this message.


http://signon.org/sign/end-the-norquist-pledge?source=c.url&r_by=4562061
 

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