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Forum Post: Moyers: Meet the Shameless Plutocrats Choking What's Left of Our Democracy

Posted 2 years ago on Feb. 15, 2012, 8:16 a.m. EST by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR
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Moyers: Meet the Shameless Plutocrats Choking What's Left of Our Democracy By Bill Moyers, Michael Winship / BillMoyers.com

The race for the White House may cost more than two billion dollars. What’s getting trampled into dust are the voices of people who aren't rich. February 14, 2012 |

Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny -- they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others -- the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.

The obstacles facing the millennial generation didn’t just happen. Take an economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest rates on college loans: these are politically engineered consequences of government of, by, and for the one percent. So, too, is our tax code the product of money and politics, influence and favoritism, lobbyists and the laws they draft for rented politicians to enact.

Here’s what we’re up against. Read it and weep: “America’s Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies.” That’s a headline in “Too Much,” an Internet publication from the Institute for Policy Studies that describes itself as “an online weekly on excess and inequality.”

Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren’t your everyday poobahs and potentates. These kings are multi-billionaire, corporate moguls who by the divine right, not of God, but the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United decision, are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh. All that money pouring into super PACs, much of it from secret sources: merely an investment, should their horse pay off in November, in the best government money can buy.

They’re shelling out fortunes' worth of contributions. Look at just a few of them: Mitt Romney’s hedge fund pals Robert Mercer, John Paulson, Julian Robertson and Paul Singer – each of whom has ponied up a million or more for the super PAC called “Restore Our Future” -- as in, "Give us back the go-go days, when predators ruled Wall Street like it was Jurassic Park.”

Then there's casino boss Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, fiercely pro-Israel and anti-President Obama's Mideast policy. Initially, they placed their bets on Newt Gingrich, who says on his first day in office he’d move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a decision that would thrill the Adelsons but infuriate Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world. Together, the Adelsons have contributed ten million to Newt's “Winning Our Future” super PAC.

Cowboy billionaire Foster Friess, a born-again Christian who made his fortune herding mutual funds instead of cattle, has been bankrolling the “Red White and Blue Fund” super PAC of Rick Santorum, with whom he shares a social right-wing agenda. Dark horse Ron Paul has relied on the kindness of PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a like-minded libertarian in favor of the smallest government possible, who gave $900,000 to Paul’s “Endorse Liberty” super PAC. Hollywood’s Jeffrey Katzenberg has so far emptied his wallet to the tune of a cool two million for the pro-Obama super PAC, “Priorities USA Action.”

President Obama -- who kept his distance from Priorities USA Action and used to call the money unleashed by Citizens United a “threat to democracy” -- has declared if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. He urges his wealthy supporters to please go ahead and back the super PAC. "Our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it stands," his campaign manager Jim Messina said. To do otherwise, he added, would be to "unilaterally disarm" in the face of all those Republican super PAC millions. So much for Obama’s stand on campaign finance reform – everybody else is doing it, he seems to say, so why don’t you show me the money, too?

When all is said and done, this race for the White House may cost more than two billion dollars. What’s getting trampled into dust are the voices of people who aren't rich, not to mention what's left of our democracy. As Democratic pollster Peter Hart told The New Yorker magazine’s Jane Mayer, “It’s become a situation where the contest is how much you can destroy the system, rather than how much you can make it work. It makes no difference if you have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ after your name. There’s no sense that this is about democracy, and after the election you have to work together, and knit the country together.”

These gargantuan super PAC contributions are not an end in themselves. They are the means to gain control of government – and the nation state -- for a reason. The French writer and economist Frederic Bastiat said it plainly: "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." That’s what the super PACs are bidding on. For the rest of us, the ship may already have sailed. Veteran journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the upcoming show “Moyers & Company,” premiering January 2012. More at www.billmoyers.com.

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America, East, is senior writer of the new public television series "Moyers & Company," premiering in January 2012.

9 Comments

9 Comments


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[-] 1 points by Chugwunka (89) from Willows, CA 2 years ago

Good article.

[-] 2 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

He came back out of retirement to help with Occupy, check the man's history, he's one of the best.

Unite and Win! Unite and Win! 2010 Never EVER Again!! ©

Image & Vote! Image & Vote! "We the 1%" Is NOT What They Wrote!! ©

[-] 1 points by ironboltbruce (371) from Miami, FL 2 years ago

KLEPTOCRACY AND YOU

Kleptocracy [klep-TOK-ruh-see]: A government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves. See also the United States of America where, as Goethe said, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free”.

http://ironboltbruce.com/2011/05/17/kleptocracy-and-you/

http://ldrlongdistancerider.com/Kleptocracy_and_You.pdf

http://ldrlongdistancerider.com/images/Kleptocracy_and_You.jpg

[-] 1 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

It might be semantics. It may become plutocracy after they change the laws to make their theft "technically legal."

Anyway you put it, it's UNAMERICAN!

[-] 0 points by HitGirl (2263) 2 years ago

Well posted! Moyers is a tad hard on Obama, but the overall message and powerful images are typical of Moyers' best stuff.

[-] 0 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

A rightie called him partisan. I had to explain: The Facts Have A Liberal Bias! And Moyers has a lot of facts and awards for sharing them.

[+] -4 points by tomahawk99 (-26) 2 years ago

Bill Moyers the PBS guy who was partisan while on a tax payer funded show.

[-] 4 points by JIFFYSQUID92 (-994) from Portland, OR 2 years ago

Not Partisan, it just so Happens that Facts Have A Liberal Bias.

"Depressingly" the opposite of Cons.

Bill Moyers has a lot of facts, and a lot of credentials (which also have a liberal bias):

Moyers began his journalism career at age 16 as a cub reporter for his hometown daily newspaper in Marshall, Texas. He was a founding organizer and deputy director of the Peace Corps and special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson. Moyers served as Johnson’s press secretary from 1965 to 1967.

As publisher of Newsday from 1967 to 1970, Moyers brought aboard writers including Pete Hamill, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Saul Bellow, and led the paper to two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1976, he was the senior correspondent for the distinguished documentary series CBS Reports and later a senior news analyst for The CBS Evening News.

For his work, Bill Moyers has received more than 30 Emmys, two prestigious Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Awards, nine Peabodys, and three George Polk Awards. In the first year it was bestowed, Moyers received the prestigious Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by the American Film Institute. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he also received the Career Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association and has been honored by the Television Critics Association for outstanding career achievement.

Moyers was elected to the Television Hall of Fame in 1995. A year later he received the Charles Frankel Prize (now the National Humanities Medal) from the National Endowment for the Humanities “for outstanding contributions to American cultural life.” In 2005, Moyers received the PEN USA Courageous Advocacy Award for his passionate, outspoken commitment to freedom of speech and his dedication to journalistic integrity. He has also been honored with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications calls Moyers, “One of the few broadcast journalists who might be said to approach the stature of Edward R. Murrow. If Murrow founded broadcast

For more about one of America's (and the world's) greatest journalists: http://billmoyers.com/about-us/

[-] 1 points by HitGirl (2263) 2 years ago

Facts don't have a bias,of course. It is just a way of saying we Liberals respect facts and science. Liberals, in fact, have a bias for facts that doesn't get muddled by religion or greed.