Bill Moyers: The Plutocrats Are Winning. Don’t Let Them!

By Bill Moyers. Originally published at his website

In the fall of 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, as families grieved and the nation mourned, Washington swarmed with locusts of the human kind: wartime opportunists, lobbyists, lawyers, ex-members of Congress, bagmen for big donors: all of them determined to grab what they could for their corporate clients and rich donors while no one was looking.

Across the land, the faces of Americans of every stripe were stained with tears. Here in New York, we still were attending memorial services for our firemen and police. But in the nation’s capital, within sight of a smoldering Pentagon that had been struck by one of the hijacked planes, the predator class was hard at work pursuing private plunder at public expense, gold-diggers in the ashes of tragedy exploiting our fear, sorrow, and loss.

What did they want? The usual: tax cuts for the wealthy and big breaks for corporations. They even made an effort to repeal the alternative minimum tax that for fifteen years had prevented companies from taking so many credits and deductions that they owed little if any taxes. And it wasn’t only repeal the mercenaries sought; they wanted those corporations to get back all the minimum tax they had ever been assessed.

They sought a special tax break for mighty General Electric, although you would never have heard about it if you were watching GE’s news divisions — NBC News, CNBC, or MSNBC, all made sure to look the other way.

They wanted to give coal producers more freedom to pollute, open the Alaskan wilderness to drilling, empower the president to keep trade favors for corporations a secret while enabling many of those same corporations to run roughshod over local communities trying the protect the environment and their citizens’ health.

It was a disgusting bipartisan spectacle. With words reminding us of Harry Truman’s description of the GOP as “guardians of privilege,” the Republican majority leader of the House dared to declare that “it wouldn’t be commensurate with the American spirit” to provide unemployment and other benefits to laid-off airline workers. As for post 9/11 Democrats, their national committee used the crisis to call for widening the soft-money loophole in our election laws.

America had just endured a sneak attack that killed thousands of our citizens, was about to go to war against terror, and would soon send an invading army to the Middle East. If ever there was a moment for shared sacrifice, for putting patriotism over profits, this was it. But that fall, operating deep within the shadows of Washington’s Beltway, American business and political mercenaries wrapped themselves in red, white and blue and went about ripping off a country in crisis. H.L. Mencken got it right: “Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.”

Fourteen years later, we can see more clearly the implications. After three decades of engineering a winner-take-all economy, and buying the political power to consummate their hold on the wealth created by the system they had rigged in their favor, they were taking the final and irrevocable step of separating themselves permanently from the common course of American life. They would occupy a gated stratosphere far above the madding crowd while their political hirelings below look after their earthly interests.

The $1.15 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last Friday and quickly signed by President Obama is just the latest triumph in the plutocratic management of politics that has accelerated since 9/11. As Michael Winship and I described here last Thursday, the bill is a bonanza for the donor class – that powerful combine of corporate executives and superrich individuals whose money drives our electoral process. Within minutes of its passage, congressional leaders of both parties and the president rushed to the television cameras to praise each other for a bipartisan bill that they claimed signaled the end of dysfunction; proof that Washington can work. Mainstream media (including public television and radio), especially the networks and cable channels owned and operated by the conglomerates, didn’t stop to ask: “Yes, but work for whom?” Instead, the anchors acted as amplifiers for official spin — repeating the mantra-of-the-hour that while this is not “a perfect bill,” it does a lot of good things. “But for whom? At what price?” went unasked.

Now we’re learning. Like the drip-drip-drip of a faucet, over the weekend other provisions in the more than 2000-page bill began to leak. Many of the bad ones we mentioned on Thursday are there — those extended tax breaks for big business, more gratuities to the fossil fuel industry, the provision to forbid the Securities & Exchange Commission from requiring corporations to disclose their political spending, even to their own shareholders. That one’s a slap in the face even to Anthony Kennedy, the justice who wrote the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Citizens United. He said: “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions.”

Over our dead body, Congress declared last Friday, proclaiming instead: Secrecy today. Secrecy tomorrow. Secrecy forever. They are determined that we not know who owns them.

The horrors mount. As Eric Lipton and Liz Moyer reported for The New York Times on Sunday, in the last days before the bill’s passage “lobbyists swooped in” to save, at least for now, a loophole worth more than $1 billion to Wall Street investors and the hotel, restaurant and gambling industries. Lobbyists even helped draft crucial language that the Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid furtively inserted into the bill. Lipton and Moyer wrote that, “The small changes, and the enormous windfall they generated, show the power of connected corporate lobbyists to alter a huge bill that is being put together with little time for lawmakers to consider. Throughout the legislation, there were thousands of other add-ons and hard to decipher tax changes.”

No surprise to read that “some executives at companies with the most at stake are also big campaign donors.” The Times reports that “the family of David Bonderman, a co-founder of TPG Capital, has donated $1.2 million since 2014 to the Senate Majority PAC, a campaign fund with close ties to Mr. Reid and other Senate Democrats.” Senator Reid, lest we forget, is from Nevada. As he approaches retirement at the end of 2016, perhaps he’s hedging his bets at taxpayer expense.

Consider just two other provisions: One, insisted upon by Republican Senator Thad Cochran, directs the Coast Guard to build a $640 million National Security Cutter in Cochran’s home state of Mississippi, a ship that the Coast Guard says it does not need. The other: A demand by Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins for an extra $1 billion for a Navy destroyer that probably will be built at her state’s Bath Iron Works – again, a vessel our military says is unnecessary.

So it goes: The selling off of the Republic, piece by piece. What was it Mark Twain said? “There is “no distinctive native American criminal class except Congress.”

Can we at least face the truth? The plutocrats and oligarchs are winning. The vast inequality they are creating is a death sentence for government by consent of the people at large. Did any voter in any district or state in the last Congressional election vote to give that billion dollar loophole to a handful of billionaires? To allow corporations to hide their political contributions? To add $1.4 trillion to the national debt? Of course not. It is now the game: Candidates ask citizens for their votes, then go to Washington to do the bidding of their donors. And since one expectation is that they will cut the taxes of those donors, we now have a permanent class that is afforded representation without taxation.

A plutocracy, says my old friend, the historian Bernard Weisberger, “has a natural instinct to perpetuate and enlarge its own powers and by doing so slams the door of opportunity to challengers and reduces elections to theatrical duels between politicians who are marionettes worked by invisible strings.”

Where does it end?

By coincidence, this past weekend I watched the final episode of the British television series Secret State, a 2012 remake of an earlier version based on the popular novel A Very British Coup. This is white-knuckle political drama. Gabriel Byrne plays an accidental prime minister – thrust into office by the death of the incumbent, only to discover himself facing something he never imagined: a shadowy coalition of forces, some within his own government, working against him. With some of his own ministers secretly in the service of powerful corporations and bankers, his own party falling away from him, press lords daily maligning him, the opposition emboldened, and a public confused by misinformation, deceit, and vicious political rhetoric, the prime minister is told by Parliament to immediately invade Iran (on unproven, even false premises) or resign. In the climactic scene, he defies the “Secret State” that is manipulating all this and confronts Parliament with this challenge:

Let’s forget party allegiance, forget vested interests, forget votes of confidence. Let each and every one of us think only of this: Is this war justified? Is it what the people of this country want? Is it going to achieve what we want it to achieve? And if not, then what next?

Well, I tell you what I think we should do. We should represent the people of this country. Not the lobby companies that wine and dine us. Or the banks and the big businesses that tell us how the world goes ‘round. Or the trade unions that try and call the shots. Not the civil servants nor the war-mongering generals or the security chiefs. Not the press magnates and multibillion dollar donors… [We must return] democracy to this House and the country it represents.

Do they? The movie doesn’t tell us. We are left to imagine how the crisis — the struggle for democracy — will end.

As we are reminded by this season, there is more to life than politics. There are families, friends, music, worship, sports, the arts, reading, conversation, laughter, celebrations of love and fellowship and partridges in pear trees. But without healthy democratic politics serving a moral order, all these are imperiled by the ferocious appetites of private power and greed.

So enjoy the holidays, including Star Wars. Then come back after New Year’s and find a place for yourself, at whatever level, wherever you are, in the struggle for democracy. This is the fight of our lives and how it ends is up to us.

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  1. drb48

    Can we at least face the truth? The plutocrats and oligarchs are winning. The vast inequality they are creating is a death sentence for government by consent of the people at large.

    If we want to really face the truth Mr. Moyers, the truth is they’re NOT “winning”, they already won. And it wasn’t much of a contest. As Gilens and Page’s study showed, America is already an oligarchy, not a democracy:

    Is America an Oligarchy?

    1. perpetualWAR

      So apparently you are unwilling to even put up a fight? This is the attitude of many Americans. Our system doesnt work without participation. Many are satisfied to sit on the sidelines while those of us on the under-staffed defense team are getting creamed by a well-padded and well-fed offense.

      1. Tim

        Karl Marx wrote that the purpose of government is to protect and further the interests of the ruling class. Our government is doing that quite well. Mr. or Ms. ‘PerpetualWar’ should relax and accept the nihilism of our age. We have pseudo-democracy, and faux-elections, with Demopublicans and Republocrats. Congress is Kabuki theater. Dwight Eisenhower’s nemesis, the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex has gained total victory. Congratulations, Congress, but nothing lasts forever. America will decline, like Rome, and in 50 or 100 years, the carcass will fall into disarray. When that day comes, Mr. or Ms. ‘PerpetualWar’, I hope your ‘participation’ will serve your interests.

        1. jrs

          Yea well if you think “why does the ruling class rule and not anyone else?” (are they braver, more willing to fight to maintain their spoils? probably not). So why them? And you kind of have to come to the conclusion “by government”, and because they own the government. And no we never have, not for a second owned the U.S. government. At the very best of times (New Deal) we pushed back enough the government threw us some bones is all, but yes it was better. I’m not 100% convinced it’s a 100% pseudo democracy, but definitely an very slanted one.

      2. J

        There’s a difference between “unwilling to put up a fight” and “allowing things to play out.” Back in 2010/2011, I was an unemployed recent graduate (I studied STEM, not that that mattered) with no prospects at all other than working 20 hours part time for $8/hour. I was absolutely convinced there would be some sort of uprising against the current system, and was delighted when OCCUPY rose up.

        One of the most major shocks I’ve ever had in my life was to see that, far from the 80-90% approval I had expected, only about 40-45% of Americans supported OWS. In other words, there was still a SIGNIFICANT segment of the population that was doing pretty well and, while having some grievances, their commitment to the current system is unshakeable. Their problems are either so far off in the future that they don’t seem real (for example, a dramatic retirement savings shortfalls), or they radically underestimate the risk of losing their jobs and ending up unemployed for long periods of time and taking a 60% pay/benefits reduction. Or some kind of health nightmare that bankrupts them.

        I truly believe that until these people have the screws put to them to the degree that we have, any effort will fail to generate the critical mass needed to reform the system.

        1. jrs

          Yea I don’t think people change just by having screws applied to them, I think they learn, although no it’s not as simple as shoving articles at them, I mean natural learning not purely being propagandized, it’s a complex process. I don’t know if I would have said absolutely I supported OWS then, I would have said let the movement unfold, good things will come of it. Of course that’s not what happened and it was eventually cracked down on. I think I had found another job by the time the movement started (I was unemployed before then, it was a long recession), but I visited the local group, oh about once. I would visit more next time, not that I think that’s world changing, but me and how many?

      3. Pelham

        But the Gilens and Page study that drb48 cites shows with empirical rigor that democracy has been non-existent here dating back to 1981. That’s quite a span, and the situation probably predates the 1980s by many years.

        What, exactly, can we do to get off the sidelines and into the game? On the things that matter to the elites and the deep state, we simply don’t have any means at our disposal to do anything effective. Elections are a veneer layered on top of the veneer of Congress and the executive branch, which are allowed to maneuver only within very narrow channels and even then are responsive only to the wishes of the wealthy (which, occasionally, do align with those of the rest of us). So what else is there?

        That’s a counsel of despair, I’ll admit, but I’m open to those who propose addressing the problem if and only if they offer some credible formula or plan of attack. I have my own ideas, things that I’m working on, but they’re radical and, frankly, probably farcical. So, please, let’s hear something that can really fire the public imagination.

    2. Ché Pasa

      True enough. In essence, this nation has always been a plutocratic project ruled by an oligarchy. We, the people, are at best accessories after that fact — necessary at times, disposable at will.

      I’m sure Mr. Moyers is well aware. He has probably talked and written about it many times.

      There has always been tension between the oligarchy-ruling class and the people, tension that has frequently broken out in revolts, revolts that have somewhat less frequently led to reform.

      However, the so-called “democratic process” has rarely if ever been the source of positive reform on behalf of the people. Quite the contrary. Such reform as there has been has almost always come as the result of reaction to revolt and fear of revolution and the overthrow of the oligarchy. A bone or two thrown to the masses has routinely been sufficient to mollify the mob. At least for a while. Distractions and entertainments have almost always been enough to keep the masses tame and malleable. When they aren’t sufficient, calls to patriotism and war are invoked.

      The fear of revolt and revolution is a constant among the high and the mighty but so far, no movement has been strong enough and enduring enough to significantly affect plutocratic/oligarchic rule.

      Still, there’s no reason to give up! Not when victory is so close!

    3. Edward

      Yes and no. In theory Americans could vote new people into office, assuming the electronic voting isn’t rigging every election.

      1. Pelham

        Ah, electronic voting. The summit of democratic unaccountability.

        Why the public ever tolerated the utter and complete black-boxing of their vote is the best yardstick yet of the collective hypnotic trance induced by information technology.

        Technology that computes and thinks is a pestilence, folks. It’s comparable to financialization, both of which introduce what might as well be witchcraft into our lives and turning humanity into a helpless gray goo.

        Of course, I say this as I myself dissolve slowly into the goo.

  2. perpetualWAR

    I cannot tell you how many times over the years of fighting the banks I have been told to give up the fight. To end my struggle would mean that the banks would win. It is my belief that those of us choosing to stand up to the banks and say “prove it with accounting” are the equivalent to modern day Minutemen.

    When are others going to join our fight???

  3. Out of time man

    Bill quotes historical critics, Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken. Our current state of affairs would seem to be the norm for a long time.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unfortunately, the plutocrats have been winning since Day 1.

      Day 1 is generally reckoned to be the day Homo Not-So-Sapiens arrived at the scene of (the crimes*).

      *Crimes refer to Crimes of Humanity Against Nature.

      1. Malcolm MacLeod

        Less Than: You are, of course, completely correct, but we the sheeple
        have been most complicit in this takeover. Look at people in Europe
        taking to the streets in protest, time and time again.

  4. Jim Haygood

    ‘find a place for yourself … in the struggle for democracy’

    This has a lovely post-constitutional ring to it.

    According to the glib trio who penned the Federalist papers, a more-empowered central government was supposed to guarantee personal rights and a republican form of government.

    Now we have to struggle just to stop it from sweeping the rest of the crumbs off the floor.

  5. Dave

    And this argument is suppose to make me comfortable voting for Hillary? Because her label isn’t Republican she must be the one wearing the white hat willing to be a change agent against elite power?

    1. Anon

      A bold grasp there. No where in the article is Hillary mentioned and Democrats is only mentioned twice. Is there a message in this article that I’m not seeing? If anything, the article calls for people to be more politically aware, which this site is a beacon for.

    2. LeonS

      I’d say this article is supposed to get you to care about more than who is elected president. That if all you do is elect a perfect president (which won’t happen, but for the sake of argument), that still will not be enough to change the system.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I beg to differ. Obama in fact had a huge Rooseveltian opportunity, which he chose to ignore, no doubt because he is actually a neoliberal backer of the status quo who presented himself during the campaign as a reformer. See here for details:

        And if Sanders were elected (I agree long odds at this point, but November 2016 is still a long way away), it would be due to the mobilization of enough pissed off progressives that it would 1. Send a big message to TPTB that their hold on the levers of power was much less secure than they’d assumed and 2. Would be certain to have enough of an impact on the mix in Congress as to shift the dynamic there.

        1. LeonS

          Well sure, who is president still makes a big difference (and why Hillary vs. any republican should still be an easy, if bitter, choice for even the biggest Berner). And Obama has certainly been hugely disappointing, all the more so for the unique and powerful moment he had. That he was so ineffective, even by what appeared to be his own standards, makes one even more cynical about his intentions.

          So were we to have had a real progressive/liberal in office things certainly would have turned out much better. Still, we can’t know for sure how much better. While they may be over-hyped there were some very real limitations on what Obama could do. Some of the biggest pains in his ass were other Democrats. Who know how much worse they would have been with a real progressive in office?

          So yeah, I’d be happy take a real progressive over what passes for a main stream Democrat these days as president, ecstatic even. But I still don’t think that is a sufficient condition to combat the reigning plutocracy, and at this moment I don’t think it should even be the primary concern. Well OK, as long as we have a real progressive who still has a chance its hard not to get excited about working for them, but let’s not let it be a be-all end-all, nor make you not vote for the not-republican, if the progressive doesn’t make it. Let’s remember one of the many disappointments from Obama was the squandering of an organized motivated voter base. We don’t need an individual we need a movement, Bernie himself says so.

          1. Bernard

            to think Obama was “so ineffective” is to totally miss how “well” Obama led the Republican attack on us. That “Lesser of Evil/Democrats” is worse than “Greater Evil/Republicans”, as the Plantation Overseer never goes against the bosses’ wishes. lol the vote for retroactive immunity on telecom spying was even before he got elected.

            and his speech in Chicago the night he won, he cited St. Reagan as a “hero.” i could list a whole lots of “Republican” objectives Obama “won.” St. Reagan as a “hero”/role model, i knew we were completely “effed”. Remember Cheetos Eating Pajama Clad Liberals. lol the PR machine works wonders.

            if Obama is/was so ineffective.???.. lol, if you truly believe that, i’m sure you think Hillary is the next best thing after white bread. and, i have some wetland in West Texas to sell you, along with the Brooklyn Bridge

        2. jrs

          The important thing is: who funds Sanders and would continue to do so all through the presidential race all the way to the white house, if that should happen? Can small donors really have enough to do so? Because the problem really is systematic, not about good or bad people. And money is just one aspect of the system probably but a big enough one. Yes Obama is also an evil man and I hates him, but the question is: can a good man ever get in that position? I don’t mind people trying for that of course, but it’s an open question so far.

  6. Waking Up

    Remember this the next time you hear the blame game and complaints about the Middle East, Russia, China etc…..

    This is a country which is destroying itself from WITHIN.

  7. Waking Up

    As for oil and gas, we can also add the latest unanimous, bi-partisan yes vote by the Senate to expedite fossil fuel extraction on Native American lands. (S. 209).

  8. TedWa

    The rich are always waiting in the shadows to take away democracy while we sleep. The 50’s, not so much. The 60’s and the 70’s, was the populous distracted with drugs and free sex? the 80’s, Greed is good. The 90’s, we were so asleep that bankster deregulation happened. The 2000’s to 2008, free credit to everyone and everyone should have a house, were we put asleep again with lofty dreams? Media, news all joined in cheering on capitalism in every form it took, including corruption.

    Wasn’t it a founding father that said something like Democracy is a wonderful thing if we can hold on to it. If we can’t hold on to it, then we deserve to be peons. Voter turn-out has been low for decades. It’s one of the last vestiges of democracy the enlightened age of the founding fathers left us that hasn’t been stolen yet and we need to use it – in record numbers.

    Democracy is ours if we the people can hold on to it. If we can’t I foresee a dire dystopian future dictated by the needs of those now standing in the shadows. I have faith we can get beyond this and create a better world for us all without violence. Democracy is participatory if it is to last and it lasting is up to each and every one of us.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Participatory does not just mean voting. It means showing up at council meetings, showing up at legislative hearings, petitioning your government with your grievances. These are things that you and I can do and should do.

      But, I look around and most people cannot name even the Vice President on the federal level….and act indignant if you ask them who is their state legislator…..because obviously they don’t know.

      1. Carla

        Thank you, perpetualWAR. Democracy does not begin with voting. In fact, a “democracy” that begins and ends with voting is very thin gruel indeed; as we have only too much evidence, it drips through the cracks in society created by oligarchs and miscreants until all sense of community is fractured, broken, destroyed.

        Democracy starts with mutual respect and loving kindness in our homes and neighborhoods. Sound hokey? Well, we’re getting a pretty good dose of how things turn out absent those old-fashioned rules of conduct.

        Democracy is an expression of character, an act of will and an assumption of personal responsibility. Voting is the least of it.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The political realm is in many ways subordinate to the cultural realm. The way you live your life and interact with everyone else is political even if you pretend it isn’t. Being politically aware is contagious, just as being politically unaware is. Engage and challenge regressive culture and you’re doing your part politically even if you aren’t directly engaged in setpiece political processes. Just speak out and fearlessly express and live by your beliefs across your life and you will make your mark. If doing so leads you into direct political action, great; if not, I think doing so can still instigate change.

        2. participant-observer-observed

          I think that this nuanced point you mention is the one that Moyers glosses over (maybe he will come back to it in a follow-up piece?):

          The plutocrats enjoy a functioning collaborative network and invest a fair amount of time on a daily basis to maintaining the structural integrity of their network.

          The general populace, on the other hand, if not in poverty while working 2-3 jobs, would rather watch ESPN or get on with personal hobbies, which rarely include community mobilizing beyond annual fire department pancake breakfasts. Even having a post on a local board of education, while participatory, is not the same as the overall functional network sustenance work to preserve and advance shared interests.

          Collective sense of impotence and resignation is a freebie counted on by the plutocracy. The dynamic pattern of the last two year-end “last minute budget” legislation is virtually identical. Last year it was Jamie Dimon calling the white house and legislators. This year, they pols just opened their legs happily! Moyers just reported on the essence of the orgy with a few examples.

          The only ones still talking oppositional strategy are Nader and Sanders. It is clearly not an election-only task. It is not clear the general populace, greatly outnumbering the plutocrats, have any will or interest left to overcome the Stockholm syndrome!

          1. participant-observer-observed

            On the other hand, donations to Sanders are not insignificant and bespeak a network of shared interests. Like Nader’s call for a “left-right alliance,” if such a network would put in the effort just for maintaining the network, as the plutocrats do, and focus on both long and short term interests, they could at least achieve those goals that plutocrats have no interests in!

          2. JTMcPhee

            Inter alia, speaking of networking, the annual gatherings of the “Bilderberg Group,” and of course the Koch-minions always busily making things worse for the most of us under the general rubric “ALEC.” Smart-ALEC? Smarter and better organized and with a clear sense of purpose and mission and gain than ordinary people apparently can ever manage for any length of time… And I’ve gotten to where I cannot stomach even a moment of the “programming” on CSPAN, especially the endless Wrong-Wing speechifying in empty legislative chambers, the clowning of the committees, and worst of all the many “Think-Tank”-operated “programs” in those dun-colored meeting rooms, little people looking to become important to the success of the oligarchy, and hence marginally richer themselves…

        3. jrs

          You aren’t necessarily wrong, while the plutocrats rule us with their soft (and sometimes hard) totalitarianism, we may have to start by rebuilding a value system in this country (with kindness for all). Without a shared value system, what have we even got? Though perpetualWar was being more practical of course, but we may have to start at the very beginning …

          it is afterall, quite far gone …

  9. Globus Pallidus Xi

    Yes the plutocrats are winning, don’t let them! We must stop voting for corrupt politicians and vote instead our interests. Except that of course we can’t vote for Bernie Sanders because he’s quixotic and not quite the reincarnation of Gandhi. And we can’t vote for Trump, because he’s opposed to eternal war, opposed to gutting social security, opposed to TPP and other anti-worker trade agreements, and opposed to letting Mexico dump their drug gang members and criminals on us to take care of without any vetting. He wants to negotiate and make deals with foreign leaders not attack them like a rabid dog! Clearly he is unqualified for president. He doesn’t even want government torturers and members of ISIS etc. free entry into the nation – how racist of the man!

    Sadly we must all hold our noses and vote for Hillary Clinton. Sure, she’s a blood-soaked monster joined at the hip with Wall Street, who will continue to trash ever larger sections of the world, pick fights with nuclear armed Russia, run up trillions of dollars in bills fighting pointless wars and subsidizing Wall Street and pay for it by killing social security, surrendering democratic sovereignty to corporate lawyers meeting in secret, and of course selling out the national interest for cash donations to her husband. But the New York Times says that Donald Trump is a fascist, so what choice do we have?

    So yes we must fight the plutocracy – next time, when everything is perfect.

    1. jrs

      Yea Trump is opposed to eternal war only he has spokes people for his campaign say “why have nuclear weapons, if you aren’t going to use them”. Do I think even Trump is that insane? Probably not … I would hope not. But why bother smearing Trump when the guy does this to his OWN campaign? With spokespeople like that who needs enemies? Trump is opposed to eternal war … in the popular imagination it seems. In reality, who knows.

      The danger of Sanders is probably that he’d sell out which wouldn’t be any worse than we’d get automatically, no questions asked, with Hillary so of course he’s preferably to the Hillbillary.

      1. Carolinian

        Paul Craig Roberts says that Trump has some known neocons working for his campaign–probably the source of the nuclear weapons idea. Or perhaps they are double agents trying to discredit him since Hillary is the obvious neocon choice. She has said she will have Netanyahu over for a grip and grin on her first day in office.

        Honestly–while I’ve been willing to defend Trump–I think he is complete mystery meat as to what he might do once in office. He says many true things but also wants Carl Icahn–villain of a recent NC post–to be his Treasury secretary. It’s a sad state of affairs that we have such poor choices or the left’s latest great hope is a 74 year old man who seems very unlikely to prevail.

        1. Jim


          Does Paul Craig Roberts give specific names of neo-cons who are involved with Trump?

          It strikes me a crucially important that a more granular analysis begin to be made about the people around/advising Trump? Who are these individuals and what networks are they linked to?

          Is he, in fact, as independent as many hope or claim?

          What are the steps that our political/financial/economic/cultural elites will/can/may take to contain or constrain him?

          I believe Paul Craig Roberts sees Trump primarily as a wild-card–at this point–who might seriously threaten Neo-Con goals, especially in the area of foreign policy and their demand for continued hegemony over Russia.

          But Roberts also appear to believe that the Russians have now laid down the law about what is acceptable in Syria and that the U.S is being forced to reluctantly go along.

          Is Trump, in fact, largely independent of the movers and shakers in the National Security State?

    2. LeonS

      Yes! Nothing will fix the plutocracy quicker than electing a plutocrat! Let’s cut out all the middle-man inefficiencies of electing servants of the rich and just elect the rich directly! Nice throw away comment about Bernie to look balanced though.

      Seriously, this battle will not be fought, won, or lost (more) by electing anyone as president. We need to fight the battle on all areas of government. When we can elect a representative government the president will follow.

  10. shinola

    To paraphrase what an econ. prof. (he was also my student counselor) told me:

    “No matter what you’re taught in econ. or poli-sci. the truth is that the USA is a plutocracy. There’s virtually nothing that can’t be bought, nobody who can’t be bribed. If you run up against that rare individual that can’t be bought outright, you can still get your way if you can afford a top-notch lawyer. It is always better to be rich.”

    This was circa 1974…

  11. rich

    Why are we so surprised?..the people change, the game remains….everywhere.

    “A plutocracy, says my old friend, the historian Bernard Weisberger, “has a natural instinct to perpetuate and enlarge its own powers and by doing so slams the door of opportunity to challengers and reduces elections to theatrical duels between politicians who are marionettes worked by invisible strings.”

    Licio Gelli, Italian Financier and Cabal Leader, Dies at 96

    Licio Gelli, a buccaneering Italian financier and self-professed fascist who was implicated in terrorist crimes, scandals and a secret society that, with him as its grandmaster, was accused of plotting a right-wing coup, died on Tuesday at his villa in Arezzo, Italy. He was 96.

    His death was reported by the nation’s news media, and his funeral on Thursday, attended mostly by family and friends, was covered by Italian television.

    Mr. Gelli never wavered in his convictions. In a 2008 television interview, he declared, “I was born under fascism, I studied with fascism, I fought for fascism, I am a fascist and I will die a fascist.”

    He exerted much of his influence as leader of a cabalistic breakaway Masonic lodge, known as Propaganda Due, or P2, which the Freemasons had officially dissolved. The authorities said hundreds of government, business and military leaders had joined the lodge, defying Italy’s ban on secret societies.

    1. JTMcPhee

      P2 — I wonder how much commonality of membership (used to be called “interlocking directorates?”) there is between P2, and that other “shadowy thing” that only gets talked about by people who frequent the Reynolds Wrap ™ haberdashery, the Bilderburg Group?

      I’m sure there’s nothing to the notion that if a select set of grossly wealthy and hence exorbitantly powerful humans get together annually (not at the same time as ALEC’s meetup, of course — can’t be two places at once, yet — pending further innovation and disruption) under Somerset House Rules, that they might be talking about ways to take a little more away from us Mopes and Muppets and Dumb Money People, now is there?

      One might read the bland version published by Wiki for an inkling of the nature of it, and I add the link with the hope that it will not consign the comment into moderation-space: (I think the attendees also include high-ranking officers of the US and related militaries).

  12. Crazy Horse

    Isn’t it wonderful and uplifting when one of the most effective left wing critics of American policy calls for us to remember the glorious days after 911 when there was a tear in every eye and we were momentarily united as a nation?

    By all means we should remember that time with nostalgia rather than understand the facts behind that pivotal moment:

    Means? Motive? Opportunity?

    *** Three steel framed office towers collapse into their own footprints. The official explanations defy all the laws of the physical Universe.
    *** Demolition experts state that the mode of collapse of Building 7 could only be caused by controlled demolition.
    *** Pools of molten metal persist for weeks after the collapse of the Twin Towers at a temperature far higher than possible from a jet fuel fire.
    *** The leaseholder for building 7 states on record that the building was intentionally (pulled) demolished.
    *** Dick Cheney takes personal control of NORAD in an unprecedented move in advance of the attacks.
    *** North American interceptor capability moved to Alaska for “maneuvers”.
    *** Dick Cheney personally calls back the few remaining fighter interceptors from interfering with the attack on the Pentagon.
    *** A pilot known to be incompetent flies a hijacked airliner on a complex maneuver hitting the exact location in the Pentagon where the records for 13 billion missing dollars were kept— leaving an impact hole far smaller than an airliner, avoiding the surrounding surveillance cameras, and leaving almost no debris behind.
    *** The identity of the Twin Tower attackers is rapidly determined and the case solved by finding an undamaged passport from one of the hijackers lying in the street after he had been vaporized and cremated in the impact.
    *** The Bush administration resists investigation of the attack for two years, and then releases the Official 911 Conspiracy Theory that is so full of logical impossibilities as to be completely unbelievable.
    *** Anyone questioning the Official 911 Conspiracy Theory is labeled a nut case and the American public incorporates the Official Theory into their construction of Reality along with the myth that the entire operation was directed by Osama bin Laden using his cell phone from a cave in Afghanistan.

    *** The floodgates holding back the National Surveillance State are thrown wide open.

    The attacks on 911 were successful beyond it’s planner’s wildest dreams. They created a national myth and legitimized the Permanent Warfare State for an entire nation from the furthest left to the furthermost right of the political spectrum.

    1. Jagger

      Absolutely. Too bad he is an old man and won’t be around much longer. Who are his successors? Maybe some.

    2. Bernard

      Bill Moyers was and has been coming across to me as too “reasonable” and always spoke “cautiously”. He always seemed a “little too nice” to do anything other than to constantly raise an alarum bell. which very few others have been doing. Moyers always seemed really surprised by the “evil” unleashed against those things he believed in. I watched him for many years on Public TV and wondered why he wasn’t more “forceful” in his advocacy. I always wished he would be more upset in tone. that, “oh no” lack of upsetting/noisy alarum bells always seemed insufficient with the reality of the situation he was describing.

      and He was the only one speaking out with any consistency about the horrors we call the American Plutocracy. like we have to be nice when speaking about such “Nuremberg” worthy crimes. as in Shrill People are not Serious tag. an Anger issue in American Society. i always thought his involvement with Johnson and the temporarily successful (which the Right has steadily been undoing) Civil Rights actions kind of blunted his sense of ability to respond. After Johnson said his famous comment about losing the South to the Republican for a generation, i never got the sense from Moyers he was able to accept the viciousness of the Rights’ intent to undo the changes in American Society that the Civil Rights Movement started. and that Evil really does exist, in whatever form it appears in our Society. Moyers seemed to me to be surprised at the actions/horrors unleashed against those willing to do “the Right thing”.

  13. Paul Tioxon

    The plutocrats are a transnational North Atlantic Elite. I tripped over a BBC trilogy about the profiteering off of 9/11, the nexus of hedge funds, philanthropy, off shore havens and the dissolution of civil liberties by manipulative politicians and businessmen all joined together in a great big ripoff economy. What this amazingly well written piece shows are many of the strands of politics, finance and scare tactics used to promote personal wealth formation. And amazingly, its on youtube. Here is a free link for parts 2, 3. You may get this on cable or through streaming roku or amazon. Can’t find a free part 1 but its available on you tube for a price.

    Masterpiece Theater: Johnny Worricker Trilogy, 3 movies

    Part 2 Turks and Caicos

    Salting the Battlefield Part 3 Enjoy!

  14. EoinW

    Ironic that Americans obsession with security has hit its height during a time corruption has made America less secure. The military/industrial complex is a giant cash cow. How much of that cash is a financial transfer of funds and how much actually goes to upgrading the US military? While the Russians and Chinese spend less but spend it well to upgrade their military systems, the US spends its money…on what exactly? How much gets flushed down the Washington toilet while the actual military falls technically behind? Paul Craig Roberts mentioned in an interview that the Pentagon had run numerous war games against Russia and the Russians won every one. Are American taxes paying for the biggest paper tiger in human history?

    Perhaps we should be rooting for WW3 so the Russians can put NATO in its place and force regime change in the US. A shame about those nukes though.

  15. Anonymous

    An Open Letter To Bill Moyers
    Published March 22, 2011

    March 22, 2011

    Dear Mr. Moyers:

    We note the wide publication of a speech you gave on January 27, 2011 titled “Is This a Private Fight or Can Anyone Get In It?” In it you described “truthers” (your designation) — people seeking the truth about the attack of 9/11 — as guilty of disinformation, of sophistry and of
    cherry-picking anomalies in order to perpetrate what you claim to be a “Big Lie.” You also stated that the central claim of “truthers”, that the Government has lied about the attacks, has not taken hold in the public mind.

    Regarding public opinion, that a sizable proportion of people throughout the world believe there was federal involvement of some form in the attack has been mainstream news for years, and there is now a Wikipedia page devoted to global opinion polls about 9/11. As well, you know that the Commission was established only after more than a year of entreating by families of victims, that it was severely limited in both time and funding, that it was under the absolute control of a director with ties to the Administration, and that abundant information inconsistent with an official story was excluded.

    What has become known as the “9/11Truth Movement” includes a great diversity of people, many with impeccable credentials and reputations, who have in common an understanding that the official governmental story of 9/11 is filled with obvious fabrications and who feel impelled to pursue the truth. The collective that you have painted with the “liar” brush includes us, many of our esteemed colleagues and a multitude of fine and prominent people the world over. We the undersigned have come together to state unequivocally that we have not cherry picked information or lied. We believe that by any reasonable standard we are owed a public apology.

    Dr. Robert M. Bowman

    Director of Advanced Space Programs Development
    under Presidents Ford and Carter

    John B. Cobb, Jr.
    Professor Emeritus
    Claremont School of Theology

    Dwain Deets
    Former Director for Research Engineering
    NASA Dryden Flight Research Center

    Richard Gage, AIA Architect
    Founder, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

    David Ray Griffin
    Emeritus Professor of Theology
    Claremont School of Theology

    Niels Harrit
    Associate Professor Emeritus
    Dept. Chemistry, University of Copenhagen

    Barbara Honegger
    Former White House Policy Analyst
    Senior Military Affairs Journalist

    Dr. Steven E. Jones
    Professor of Physics (retired)
    Brigham Young University

    Reverend Rich Lang
    Trinity United Methodist Church
    6512 23rd Ave. NW
    Seattle, WA 98117

    Shelton F. Lankford
    Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
    Distinguished Flying Cross

    Graeme MacQueen, Ph.D.
    Emeritus Associate Professor
    Dept. of Religious Studies
    McMaster Univeristy
    Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    Lynn Margulis
    Distinguished University Professor
    Department of Geosciences
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    William B. Willers
    Emeritus Professor of Biology
    University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh

    Dr. John D. Wyndham
    Former Research Fellow in Radio Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology

    Barrie Zwicker
    Author, Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11
    Journalist, formerly with Detroit News, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail

  16. Anonymous

    malevolent assaults from the “9/11 truthers” — It’s sad that the truth of 9/11 isn’t clear to him.
    Disinformation is not unique to the right, of course. Like other journalists, I have been the object of malevolent assaults from the “9/11 truthers” for not reporting their airtight case proving that the Bush administration conspired to bring about the attacks on the World Trade Center. How did they discover this conspiracy? As the independent journalist Robert Parry has written, “the truthers” threw out all the evidence of al-Qaeda’s involvement, from contemporaneous calls from hijack victims on the planes to confessions from al-Qaeda leaders both in and out of captivity that they had indeed done it. Then, recycling some of the right’s sophistry techniques, such as using long lists of supposed evidence to overcome the lack of any real evidence, the “truthers” cherry-picked a few supposed “anomalies” to build an “inside-job” story line. Fortunately, this Big Lie never took hold in the public mind. These truthers on the left, if that is where GPS can find them on the political map, are outgunned, outmatched and outshouted by the media apparatus on the right that pounds the public like drone missiles loaded with conspiracy theories and disinformation and accompanied by armadas of outright lies.

    George Orwell had warned six decades ago that the corrosion of language goes hand in hand with the corruption of democracy. If he were around today, he would remind us that “like the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,” this kind of propaganda engenders a “protective stupidity” almost impossible for facts to penetrate.

    But you, my colleagues, can’t give up. If you do, there’s no chance any public memory of everyday truths – the tangible, touchable, palpable realities so vital to democracy – will survive. We would be left to the mercy of the agitated amnesiacs who “make” their own reality, as one of them boasted at the time America invaded Iraq, in order to maintain their hold on the public mind and the levers of power. You will remember that in Orwell’s novel “1984,” Big Brother banishes history to the memory hole, where inconvenient facts simply disappear. Control of the present rests on obliteration of the past. The figure of O’Brien, who is the personification of Big Brother, says to the protagonist, Winston Smith: “We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” And they do. The bureaucrats in the Ministry of Truth destroy the records of the past and publish new versions. These in turn are superseded by yet more revisions. Why? Because people without memory are at the mercy of the powers that be; there is nothing against which to measure what they are told today. History is obliterated.

  17. Crazy Horse

    The truth about 911 is very simple. In order for the “truth” perpetuated by the Bush/Cheney administration and the 911 Commission’s Official Conspiracy Theory to be true the laws of the physical universe would have to be have been suspended.

    Not that Americans have enough understanding of simple Newtonian physics to refer to it rather than the fantasy world they learned by watching Star Wars—. And that applies all across the political spectrum from Moyers to the Know-Nothing Party on the Right.

    Delusion is the Opium of the People

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