Monday, May 19, 2008

Crapola-O-Plenty


The following is an excerpt from Bill Moyers' new book, "Moyers on Democracy" (Doubleday, 2008).

Democracy in America is a series of narrow escapes, and we may be running out of luck. The reigning presumption about the American experience, as the historian Lawrence Goodwyn has written, is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is "better" than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, "The system works."

Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. A sense of political impotence pervades the country -- a mass resignation defined by Goodwyn as "believing the dogma of 'democracy' on a superficial public level but not believing it privately." We hold elections, knowing they are unlikely to bring the corporate state under popular control. There is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has not been translated into new vistas of social possibility or the political will to address our most intractable challenges. Hope no longer seems the operative dynamic of America, and without hope we lose the talent and drive to cooperate in the shaping of our destiny.

The earth we share as our common gift, to be passed on in good condition to our children's children, is being despoiled. Private wealth is growing as public needs increase apace. Our Constitution is perilously close to being consigned to the valley of the shadow of death, betrayed by a powerful cabal of secrecy-obsessed authoritarians. Terms like "liberty" and "individual freedom" invoked by generations of Americans who battled to widen the 1787 promise to "promote the general welfare" have been perverted to create a government primarily dedicated to the welfare of the state and the political class that runs it. Yes, Virginia, there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it. It isn't necessary to be a Jeremiah crying aloud to a sinful Jerusalem that the Lord is about to afflict them for their sins of idolatry, or Cassandra, making a nuisance of herself as she wanders around King Priam's palace grounds wailing "The Greeks are coming." Or Socrates, the gadfly, stinging the rump of power with jabs of truth. Or even Paul Revere, if horses were still in fashion. You need only be a reporter with your eyes open to see what's happening to our democracy. I have been lucky enough to spend my adult life as a journalist, acquiring a priceless education in the ways of the world, actually getting paid to practice one of my craft's essential imperatives: connect the dots.

The conclusion that we are in trouble is unavoidable. I report the assault on nature evidenced in coal mining that tears the tops off mountains and dumps them into rivers, sacrificing the health and lives of those in the river valleys to short-term profit, and I see a link between that process and the stock-market frenzy which scorns long-term investments -- genuine savings -- in favor of quick turnovers and speculative bubbles whose inevitable bursting leaves insiders with stuffed pockets and millions of small stockholders, pensioners, and employees out of work, out of luck, and out of hope.

And then I see a connection between those disasters and the repeal of sixty-year-old banking and securities regulations designed during the Great Depression to prevent exactly that kind of human and economic damage. Who pushed for the removal of that firewall? An administration and Congress who are the political marionettes of the speculators, and who are well rewarded for their efforts with indispensable campaign contributions. Even honorable opponents of the practice get trapped in the web of an electoral system that effectively limits competition to those who can afford to spend millions in their run for office. Like it or not, candidates know that the largesse on which their political futures depend will last only as long as their votes are satisfactory to the sleek "bundlers" who turn the spigots of cash on and off.

The property qualifications for federal office that the framers of the Constitution expressly chose to exclude for demonstrating an unseemly "veneration for wealth" are now de facto in force and higher than the Founding Fathers could have imagined. "Money rules Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us." Those words were spoken by Populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease during the prairie revolt that swept the Great Plains slightly more than 120 years after the Constitution was signed. They are true today, and that too, spells trouble.

@ALTERNET

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Echoing everything said here and more, Bill does a good job of spreading his wisdom to the masses as an alternative to the daily babble from the MSM.

Sure good to know we have allies in fairly high places isn't it?

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23 comments:

DEN said...

Happy Monday!

One dead cycle battery and a door opener left behind requiring a 10 mile round trip have started this day with a fair modicum of stress, but do not despair folks all is well despite the morning aggravation.

Now back to work.

David B. Benson said...

Door opener?

DEN said...

Garage door, Doc.

DEN said...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Environmental Protection Agency initially supported granting part of California's petition for a greenhouse gas emissions waiver -- but reversed himself after hearing from White House officials, a new report says.

The report is by the Democratic staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

EPA head Stephen Johnson has been attacked by environmentalists since denying California and at least a dozen other states permission to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

Johnson has defended the December decision -- applauded by the auto industry -- as his alone. He has refused to say whether there was White House pressure. An EPA spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
...................................

Cutting emissions means cutting profits for BIG OIL, now we can't have that can we?

.

DEN said...

From the 'Money cannot buy everything Dept."

One of Sen. Hillary Clinton's top financial supporters offered $1 million to the Young Democrats of America during a phone conversation in which he also pressed for the organization's two uncommitted superdelegates to endorse the New York Democrat, a high-ranking official with YDA told The Huffington Post.

Haim Saban, the billionaire entertainment magnate and longtime Clinton supporter, denied the allegation. But four independent sources said that just before the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, Saban called YDA President David Hardt and offered what was perceived as a lucrative proposal: $1 million would be made available for the group if Hardt and the organization's other uncommitted superdelegate backed Clinton.

@ HUFFPO

David B. Benson said...

On-topic:

Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled

Carey said...

Great find in the Moyers' excerpt Den.

God, lots of good items.

I expect tomorrow night Obama will issue the green light on his campaign.

Carey said...

I had a dead battery this weekend too.

Carey said...

Quite an article by Chalmers Johnson, David. Incredibly fascinating, drawing in different disciplines.

I did love this.

This book demonstrates why political science, properly practiced, is the master social science.

Quintessentially academic. I love Prof. Johnson, read and cherish his work in Japanese history.

David B. Benson said...

Soros warns global boom is over

I have had considerable respect for George Soros's financial acumin, but is he know 'over the hill'?

David B. Benson said...

If you must fly:

SAS saves by slowing down

Saladin said...

"A Nation of Sheep Will Beget a Government of Wolves" Edward R. Murrow ..

And here we are today. The very foundation upon which all the lies and evil in this country have been built can be traced here. That is a fact. Wake up or lose your republic. All the Constitutional lip service in the world will not reverse this decline. WE are who we've been waiting for. We let it happen, now we must correct the mistakes. The politicians are worse than useless.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Asking VAMPIRES to donate BLOOD
http://wakeupfromyourslumber.blogspot.com/2006/02/asking-vampires-to-donate-blood.html

Does the proposition sound absurd to you? It does to me. But, it happens everyday, all over the world.

When governments ask central bankers to bail their nations out of debt by auctioning new bonds at interest, it's like asking vampires to donate blood to their victims. And this is no exaggeration.

"You are a den of vipers. I intend to rout you out and by the Eternal God I will rout you out. If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution before morning."

--Andrew Jackson, 1828 (to a group of investment bankers trying to persuade him to renew their charter)

In fact, the American revolution came about precisely because the colonies witnessed how the Bank of England's unwarranted demands on them immediately destroyed their prosperity.

"[The Colonists] would have gladly borne the little tax on tea and other matters, if it had not been that they took from us our money — which created great unemployment and dissatisfaction. Within a year, the poor houses were filled. The hungry and homeless walked the streets everywhere."

"[T]he inability of the Colonists to get the power to issue their own money, permanently out of the hands of King George III and the international bankers, was the prime reason for the Revolutionary War.”

--Benjamin Franklin

And here we are, over 200 years later, ruled by a man who goes by the same name and bankers that play the same game. How did this happen? Didn't history teach us ANYTHING?

If the American People ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around (the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered . . .

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government in defiance.

--Thomas Jefferson

And indeed, that's exactly what happened. Lend, inflate, deflate, repossess. Lend, inflate, deflate, repossess. And so on, and so forth until all our essential industries became theirs (steel, wheat, dairy, energy, telecommunications, publishing, defense, healthcare, insurance), along with most of our land.

They invaded and corrupted our institutions, erasing any trace of our past that might awaken us to the calamity of our condition and molded our minds to suit the roles they set out for us.

So, what do we do?

The issuing power should be taken from the banks, and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. --Thomas Jefferson

But, freedom has a price.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

--Patrick Henry

Are you willing to sacrifice to win back your freedom?

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

--Samuel Adams

I know many of you, like me, want to avoid armed struggle, if at all possible (especially since we're the ones who are unarmed!).

But, you can start by telling moneylenders to take their blood money and shove it. Then raise your voice as loud and as often as you can against this unjust system of fraud and oppression.

Our monetary system is broken and it will not fix itself. If we don't act now, they will extinguish what's left of our freedom.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
That is it, in a nutshell.

David B. Benson said...

Saladin --- I suppose we can't go back to a barter system...

DEN said...

I will only wake up after they have pried my Ipod, cell phone, game console, and Starbucks from my cold confused fingers!

And stop taking Prozac.

DEN said...

The TV tells me I should have fun and play and stuff and political stuff is icky and boring.

DEN said...

From the outside looking in it is easy to form opinions of how thing look to be, however actually knowing the countries' political wise men agree and expand on your thoughts, makes it worse.

With wisdom comes sorrow.

DEN said...

Ecclesiastes 1:18

David B. Benson said...

KJV:

For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

David B. Benson said...

I just increased my knowledge about the coming weather:

First, I( looked out the window. Hmmm, looks like its going to rain.

Then I went the the NWS prediction: Indeed rain and quite a bit cooler.

I'm glad I checked this!

So I guess Ecclesiastes 1:18 isn't the whole story...

Hajji said...

Ahem...

Hillary can F-n HAVE Kentucky...

"I would have NEVER voted for a WOMAN President, but I'm gonna, just to keep that Black-assed MUSLUM out of the Whitehouse! He's gonna bring on Armageddon, you're a denzien of SATAN!"

-Little, old 70-something woman near the top of 13th-street hill, Ashland, KY...

Most vile thing I've heard while cavassing SC, GA, OH, PA, NC...and it happens in my hometown.

I think I worked "A Primary Too Far!"

Tomorrow night, Obama will have the majority of pledged delegates, have maintained his lead of popular votes in states where the participants followed the rules, and lead in "Superdelegates" will continue to expand.

Hillary will STILL be spending more than her limit at "Pantsuits R Us" and Bubba will still be squeezing the flesh in backwater High-School gyms. (just don't follow him under the bleachers!)

I wholeheartedly urge all of her supporters to do as much as you can to pay off her campaign debts...without your support, she'd have stopped running up the charge card months ago! You OWE it to her! C'Mon! What's the DIFF?

Goodnight and best witches...

-T

Carey said...

David,

I have had considerable respect for George Soros's financial acumin, but is he know 'over the hill'?

Why? He sounded good to me. I don't understand.


I believe tomorrow will be interesting. Kind of like the semi-official opening of Obama's campaign.

Has anybody seen David Corn's commentary today? Hmmmm. I don't know, I do believe he almost crosses a line there calling Clinton supporters "gals", etc.

Carey said...

Jesus Hajji. Yeah. Fuck.

Saladin said...

A barter system Mr. Benson? You'd likely be arrested. This is anti-social!
Hajji, a black Muslim I have no problem with. An Israel ass-kissing anyone I have a serious problem with. Seems there is a rabid contest that has ensued between the presidential candidates, the ones they are willing to acknowledge anyway, concerning who is most loyal to the genocidal Israelis. "I will obliterate you" Hillary,
"Iran is a threat to us all, nothing is off the table Obama, and, the always popular "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" McCain. Wow, the options are simply mind boggling. Here is a new and unlikely approach:

Don't Start a War With Iran Now!

by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

Statement on H. Con. Res. 398: Expressing the concern of Congress over Iran's development of the means to produce nuclear weapons, 6 May 2004.

I rise in strong opposition to this ill-conceived and ill-timed legislation. Let's not fool ourselves: this concurrent resolution leads us down the road to war against Iran. It creates a precedent for future escalation, as did similar legislation endorsing "regime change" in Iraq back in 1998.

I find it incomprehensible that as the failure of our Iraq policy becomes more evident – even to its most determined advocates – we here are approving the same kind of policy toward Iran. With Iraq becoming more of a problem daily, the solution as envisioned by this legislation is to look for yet another fight. And we should not fool ourselves: this legislation sets the stage for direct conflict with Iran. The resolution "calls upon all State Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including the United States, to use all appropriate means to deter, dissuade, and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons..." Note the phrase "...use all appropriate means...."

Additionally, this legislation calls for yet more and stricter sanctions on Iran, including a demand that other countries also impose sanctions on Iran. As we know, sanctions are unmistakably a move toward war, particularly when, as in this legislation, a demand is made that the other nations of the world similarly isolate and blockade the country. Those who wish for a regime change in Iran should especially reject sanctions – just look at how our Cuba policy has allowed Fidel Castro to maintain his hold on power for decades. Sanctions do not hurt political leaders, as we know most recently from our sanctions against Iraq, but rather sow misery among the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society. Dictators do not go hungry when sanctions are imposed.

It is somewhat ironic that we are again meddling in Iranian affairs. Students of history will recall that the US government's ill-advised coup against Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and its subsequent installation of the Shah as the supreme ruler led to intense hatred of the United States and eventually to the radical Islamic revolution of 1979. One can only wonder what our relations would be with Iran if not for the decades of meddling in that country's internal affairs. We likely would not be considering resolutions such as this. Yet the solution to all the difficulties created by our meddling foreign policy always seems to always be yet more meddling. Will Congress ever learn?

I urge my colleagues to reject this move toward war with Iran, to reject the failed policies of regime-change and nation-building, and to return to the wise and consistent policy of non-interventionism in the affairs of other sovereign nations.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh dear, no war? Abide by that Goddamned piece of paper? Whatever shall we do?