• Теги
    • избранные теги
    • Люди108
      • Показать ещё
      Страны / Регионы24
      • Показать ещё
      Международные организации8
      Издания14
      • Показать ещё
      Компании88
      • Показать ещё
      Формат1
      Разное58
      • Показать ещё
      Показатели5
      Сферы2
Билл Мойерс
Билл Мойерс
Билл Мойерс – ведущий еженедельной общественной телевизионной передачи Moyers & Company. Мойерс получил 35 премий Эмми, 9 премий Пибоди, премию за достижения в течение жизни Национальной академии телевидения. Он является почётным доктором изящных искусств Американского института кино за 40 ...

Билл Мойерс – ведущий еженедельной общественной телевизионной передачи Moyers & Company. Мойерс получил 35 премий Эмми, 9 премий Пибоди, премию за достижения в течение жизни Национальной академии телевидения. Он является почётным доктором изящных искусств Американского института кино за 40 лет журналистской работы на радио.

 

...Билл Мойерс – все эти лидеры CFR (Совет по Международным Отошениям) были связаны с «Фондом Рокфеллера».

Развернуть описание Свернуть описание
16 ноября, 23:37

Be the Change

Be the change In many countries, if the populace voted for an unfit demagogue of unnatural proportions, the population would have to simply sit it out. In many countries, dictators take power and keep it for decades. There are parts of the world where a madman rises to power and the rest of the world watches for a generation before change is made. In the United States, we have elected in our cowardice and our shame an unfit president. I spoke to one of my friends last night who is always the first to be involved in national politics. His students are in mourning, and after comforting them, he is doing what Americans do; he is going back to work. He plans to not watch politics for the next four years. He's hibernating from politics. I understand. You get tired. You get beaten down, and this election has taken the wind out of our sails. Some people say, "That's what Trump wants, for us to be beaten down, for us to want to move to Canada," and I say, "I'm not interested in the least in what he wants." We've spent months hearing what he wants and none of it was good. I'm not interested for a moment in getting inside Trump's head. I'm sure it would be a sordid place to be. I'm interested in what can make America a country of which I can be proud. I travel to Europe several times a year; I'm interested in who we are and how the rest of the world sees America. But our young people are not tired and beaten down. They are protesting as is their right. They are protesting across the nation. Protests are a way of showing national outrage, they are a way of letting the far right know that we will be watching, that we will not hibernate, that they will be held accountable. I support the millennials' right to get out there and mourn collectively. Why do we go to concerts when we can hear music at home? It is to be with like-minded people. I love the millennial energy. I love them blazing toward change and taking the country with them. They know how to crowd source and they know how to mobilize, and they are going to change the world. The movement gathering steam on Change.org to request that the Electoral College follow the popular vote and vote for Hillary now has nearly four million signatures. But it is not being covered by much of the mainstream media. People Magazine and Huffington Post have covered it. It may be a way of venting, a way of processing fear, outrage, and anger, but it is better than hibernating, it is better than crying at home, This administration needs to know that the American people are engaged. And to my hibernating friend? Bears hibernate and then they come out of hibernation, eat some honey and fish and start walking around. If you need to be a bear, be a bear, but come out at some point and be part of the change that is coming. If all the Americans who are outraged wake up every day and be the change we are asking for, we can make America great because what makes America great is a celebration of individual identity of people of all race, religion, ethnicity, gender preference, and ability. It is compassion; it is creating safe spaces and safe cities. I read Bill Moyers and Viet Thanh Nguyen's writings about the end of empire, and it is a time for the end of empire. But conquest is not what makes this a country a place that people flock to, it's inclusion. Jazz was born in New Orleans because it was a city with so many different ethnic identities and musical influences that they comingled and created a new art form. That's America at our best. We're creating jazz for the world, a musical syncopation of flexibility, spontaneity and rhythm. Living together, celebrating, making music, writing stories, building community. We can still do this. The three branches of government rest on the will of the people and are supposed to serve the people. The world will judge us not on how we lie down but on how we get up and fight. Asking the Electoral College for change may be a symbolic ask, but it is part of the Constitution; it is possible, and just because it hasn't been done in our lifetime, doesn't mean it can't start now. Where would we be if Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks and Cesar Chavez had said, "It can't be done?" Making change in America starts with me. I ask you this, if Hillary had won, would the Trump supporters be pressuring the Electoral College? Of course they would. The progressives are too timid; we must take action. Our lives are at stake as is the life of the planet. Let's step up to the plate and ask for the change for which the Constitution makes room. We the people. We Americans. Be the change. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

15 ноября, 20:44

NOW THEY ASK: Will America Now Have a Pravda? With Breitbart.com’s Steve Bannon now in a seat of Whi…

NOW THEY ASK: Will America Now Have a Pravda? With Breitbart.com’s Steve Bannon now in a seat of White House power, Donald Trump will have a weapon no president has ever wielded, Jack Shafer claims at Politico. CTRL-F David Rhodes, zero mentions. CTRL-F John Dickerson, zero mentions. CTRL-F Stephanopoulos, zero mentions. CTRL-F Sharpton, zero mentions. […]

09 ноября, 21:13

Most Influential Latino Evangelical Leader On How To Get 50% Latino Support For GOP

Bill Moyers once asked Pastor Sam Rodriguez (the president of the nation's largest coalition of Latino churches) who his political heroes are. Sam told him "JFK and Ronald Reagan." Moyers asked him how he could reconcile the two, but there really is no need to reconcile them. JFK and RR [...]

07 октября, 23:13

Is It Possible to Reconcile with Trump Voters?

The last question asked in the October 4th vice-presidential was on a subject all Americans should worry about: "It has been a divisive campaign... if your ticket wins, what specifically are you going to do to unify the country and reassure the people who voted against you?" Democrat Tim Kaine replied that he was confident that Hillary Clinton could unify the US because she is a proven conciliator. Republican Mike Pence asserted Donald Trump would unify the country by making "America great again." If Clinton wins, is unity possible? The latest Huffington Post Poll of Polls shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 48.4 percent to 41.6 percent. Probably the hard-core Trump base is around 30 percent of voters. Two years ago, Pew Research released a "Typology of American politics." The Pew typology distinguished between three classes of voters: the general public, registered voters, and the "politically engaged." In the category "politically engaged" there were three categories of Republicans: "Steadfast Conservatives: socially conservative populists" at 19 percent; "Business Conservatives: Pro-Wall street, pro-immigrant" at 17 percent; and "Young Outsiders: conservative views on government, not on social issues" at 11 percent. The hard-core Trump base is probably composed of "Steadfast Conservatives" and "Young Outsiders" for 30 percent -- roughly the size of the Tea Party movement. In March, Bill Moyers interviewed Dr. Robert Jones, whose organization conducted the "American Values Survey." Dr. Jones said that Trump voters: "... are best understood not as values voters, not even as Tea Party voters, but as nostalgia voters, these voters that are looking back to -- they're culturally and economically disaffected voters that are anxious to hold on to a white conservative Christian culture that's passing from the scene." The Trump voters are united by their skepticism about government: both the perceived failings of the Obama Administration (and, by association, Hillary Clinton) and their negative feelings about immigration. Berkeley Professor Lawrence Rosenthal, , Executive Director of the Center for Right-Wing Studies,has amplified this description. Rosenthal says Trump supporters are a new form of right-wing populism -- a blend of the Tea Party plus the "alt-right" ("a rebranding of classic white nationalism.") They are united by their disdain for immigrants and "elites," including Wall Street, Washington, and Hollywood. They feel "their" country slipping away and believe their children will have a tougher life than they do. (Rosenthal observed that, before Trump, the model for these voters was Sarah Palin, who during her 2008 campaign for Vice President, expressed the same anger and disdain for political correctness.) In an August 15th study for the Gallup organization, Jonathan Rockwell offered a more nuanced view of Trump voters: "His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relatively high household incomes... no other presidential candidate from either party received greater support from places with high white mortality, high segregation, and low mobility." In other words, the Trump voters live in segregated failing communities. They are angry and Trump has channeled this anger. The New Yorker's George Saunders observed the Trump campaign: "From the beginning, America has been of two minds about the Other. One mind says, be suspicious of it, dominate it, deport it, exploit it, enslave it, kill it as needed. The other mind denies that there can be any such thing as the Other, in the face of the claim that all are created equal... The first mind has always held violence nearby, to use as needed." Trump voters are those who hold the first mind; who are extremely fearful of "the Other." Trump has ruthlessly exploited this base and amplified their fear. New Yorker contributor Saunders characterized Trump as "a fan of winning by any means necessary, exploiting our recent dullness and our aversion to calling stupidity, stupidity." Hillary Clinton will likely become the 45th president. Her biggest challenge will be unifying the country, particularly the hardcore Trump voters. It will be a daunting task. Writing in the Huffington Post , liberal commentator Robert Kuttner lamented that Trump has unloosed "the forces of real hate... Trump will have goons as poll watchers. He will find ways to insist that the election was stolen. He will continue to make more mischief, impeaching the legitimacy of our institutions." All voters should hope that Hillary Clinton is as good at reconciliation as her running-mate, Tim Kaine, says she is. After the election, Hillary will reach out to Trump voters but they won't take her seriously. To bridge the social chasm between her advocates and the Trump folks, Hillary will have to provide real economic change (good jobs and a lessening of inequality). Hillary will have to give them a reason to be hopeful, convince that America really is great. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

07 октября, 21:43

Hillary Waffled on Consumer Bankruptcy and Main Street Took the Hit

Linda Tirelli - a bankruptcy attorney in White Plains, New York - has a case load of approximately twelve hundred clients and they're ordinary folks: first responders, retirees, teachers, construction workers. Most are in bankruptcy because they're unemployed or underemployed; collateral damage from 2008's financial meltdown. Their situation, according to Tirelli, is made far worse because they would like to stay in place while trying to put their lives together but changes to the consumer bankruptcy code in 2005 have made that all but impossible. Hillary Clinton, as New York's Senator, should have stepped up to the plate and fought the change because the old code provided for something called judicial modification; a provision that that allowed a bankruptcy judge to force banks to modify a homeowner's mortgage. Hillary didn't and almost three years after the bill's passage the housing market tanked and took the world's economy with it. Tens of millions of homeowners were sucked into the maws of the foreclosure machine, chewed up and spit out; in the process losing equity, credit, sleep, health, not to mention self-respect. Much of this agita could have been ameliorated, according to Tirelli: Homes might have been saved if following Obama's election the administration supported judicial modification and it would have cost the taxpayers NOTHING, zip, zero, zilch. If the banks and servicers felt the pressure that a bankruptcy judge could modify a mortgage loan on a primary residence then they would have considered doing more modifications on their own; avoiding the cost of having lawyers argue their case in bankruptcy court. I've written about Tirelli for American Banker and Huffington Post; she's a go-to source for news and among her noteworthy feats was the outing of foreclosure fraud by Wells Fargo in 2014. That bit of rock-kicking got her named lawyer of the year by 4,000 of her colleagues, members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Together with fellow lawyers - and on their own nickel -- Tirelli recalls traveling to DC, pre-2008 election, to surf the halls of Congress, peeking and poking around for a friendly face who might help restore judicial modification to the bankruptcy code. Tirelli, a registered Republican, found those friendly faces in the guise of the two Democratic presidential contenders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: The former, all gung ho for the idea; the latter, well, a staffer in Hillary's office - all smiles - promised to forward the information because, as he told Tirelli, the Senator "knows how important the issue is to consumers." So, in 2008 Tirelli went all democratic, voting for Obama but as the financial tsunami drowned Main Street the new President's support for judicial modification turned out to be just another promise with fingers crossed behind back. The first two versions of the TARP bill tried to float this life preserver but the renewed nexus of a financially empowered Wall Street and friendly faces like Timmy Geithner at Treasury conspired to send judicial modification to never/never land. Ironically, the 2005 reform bill did allow a homeowner to save a second home or rental property. Back Asswards, as Tirelli puts it: It's not a coincidence that the rules changed such that I can save your vacation property before I can save your primary residence. Let's face it, the majority of homeowners don't have the luxury of owning a rental or secondary property so they made damn sure that we couldn't do judicial modifications on primary residences. It would have hurt Wall Street but it would have saved homeowners. Hurting Wall Street was not on Senator Clinton's agenda in 2005. She sang a different tune as First Lady. After reading a 1998 New York Times op-ed by Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, Hillary summoned the Prof to a meeting and listened intently to a passion fueled sermon about the impact of changes to the bankruptcy code on middle-class families who fall on hard times. Efforts to change the code were led by lobbyists for the credit card industry who feared that high carb profits would continue to take a hit when drowning-in-debt consumers sought refuge in Chapter 7 (which was, as many critics pointed out at the time, the logical end to a relentless marketing campaign to convince Americans that better lives could be led through the unbridled use of plastic). Elizabeth Warren sensed the danger early on and explained to Hillary that changes to the code would preserve the credit card industry's bottom line but it came at a high cost. Warren made her case using the example of a divorced mother with kiddies, pointing out the level playing field sought by the credit card industry would make hubby's cash fair game for the snatching and eliminate the sacrosanct nature of child support and alimony. Not good for a divorced mom who wants to keep family in hearth and home. According to Warren, First Lady Hillary "got it." So much so that she implored husband Bill to kill the piece of bankruptcy reform legislation that sat ready for his John Hancock. Bill acceded to Hillary's wishes. It was his last act in office; pocket vetoing the bill in 2000. Fast forward to Senator Clinton: 2001, who now supported the proposed changes to the bankruptcy law. The bill was essentially the same but Hillary had a changed and as Elizabeth Warren told Bill Moyers in a 2004 interview the Senator's political priorities now seemed to fall in synch with her new constituency: Wall Street. Senator Clinton, together with 36 other Democrats including Senator Joe Biden, voted "yea" for the reform bill in 2001 but the Congressional numbers didn't add up for passage. It would take a new election to turn a recalcitrant Congress into an enthusiastic one, passing the so-called "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act," in April of 2005. While placing added burdens on regular folks seeking a safe harbor to escape from debt, Mega-Industries that screwed up badly like fraud-laden Enron, Adelphi, Worldcom and Global Crossing could still flock to bankruptcy court as they figured out next moves. The new consumer bankruptcy code raised fees for filing (a real encouragement if you're already broke) and to ramp up the shame factor (something that the debt-collection industry loves to exploit) you had to pay for taking a kindergarten-style financial literacy review which seemed to financially benefit only the companies that were offering the course No longer would the bankruptcy court provide a reprieve for hard-pressed debtors seeking the traditional "fresh start" while trying to hold on to a primary residence. True to form, Senator Sanders voted no whenever the bill came up for a vote. In the August, 2007, Presidential primary debate with Barack Obama, Hillary offered mea culpas for supporting the bill in 2001 (she abstained in 2005). Hillary has since remained silently weak-kneed on the issue of consumer bankruptcy and in the current campaign has avoided discussing any real alternatives for underwater homeowners who remain subject to the not-so-tender mercies of mortgage servicers and third-party investors (Trump has remained silent as well). Even Treasury's half-hearted modification program, HAMP, will be rolling up by year's end and there's been little in the way of suggestions regarding a replacement. In 2014, Senator Warren, citing failed efforts to ameliorate the housing crisis took the Obama Administration to task claiming that efforts to reverse the foreclosure damage done by Wall Street was the equivalent of trying to put out a forest fire with an eye dropper. Like a downed fighter with the best corner men money can buy, Wall Street has picked itself back up, gotten back into the ring, dusted off the derivatives and damn any regulatory torpedoes are headed full speed into new revenue streams including housing, putting aside any talk of bad old days coming back. No, they'd like you to believe it's a thing of the past - a legacy - but stats prove otherwise. It's still a problem and something that Tirelli is keen to talk about. There are still millions of homeowners in foreclosure and Hillary sat idly by while the 2005 bankruptcy reform act stripped judges of their power to modify mortgages. As far as I'm concerned - unfortunately - my business will continue to boom. I can only imagine the conflicts that went on in Liz Warren's head when arriving at the decision to bite the bullet and support Hillary. If Secretary Clinton becomes President Clinton - and if Warren allows her voice to be drowned out by Wall Street's chumminess with the new Prez -- then the bitten bullet may prove to be a dum-dum with splinters ricocheting off Main Street sidewalks and targeting ordinary Americans. Joel Sucher is director/writer and co-founder of Pacific Street Films and is currently finishing a comic novel, The Insufferable Business of Documentary Filmmaking. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Выбор редакции
20 сентября, 23:11

With debates looming, progressives fret about lowered expectations for Trump

The upcoming debates "threaten an effect on democracy more like Leopold and Loeb than Lincoln and Douglas," Bill Moyers says.

14 сентября, 22:32

To Endorse, Or Not To Endorse--That Is The (Wrong) Question

Public figures and political organizations are wringing their hands: Do we publicly throw our weight behind a fear-mongering demagogue or do we suck it up and endorse a "career politician" who can't seem to earn voters' trust? But what if "endorsement" is a political red herring? "Endorsing" suggests approval, but for a lot of us that option is closed. But, hey, we still have to choose--we must choose because democracy itself is at stake today. By this we mean that Big Money has come to dominate our political system and voting rights are under attack. As democracy itself is in jeopardy, in this election here's what we strive for: to act strategically--weighing the long-term consequences of the choices available today. We start with the following assumption: that none of the huge challenges our nation faces--from deepening economic inequality to racial injustice to climate change--can be met without core democracy reforms, including restoring the Voting Rights Act and public financing of elections. We also assume that these foundational reforms can't happen without a broad, deep citizens' movement pushing, pushing, pushing the future president. Isn't this what Bernie Sanders tried hard to get us to understand from the beginning of his campaign? He stressed the importance of continuing the fight the day after Election Day. History lessons often help in a crisis, so what can we learn? Consider Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom professor Peter Dreier describes as "cautious, even conservative" before being pushed to act. FDR famously declared to a group of activists in the 1930s "You have convinced me, now go out and make me do it." And so they did, introducing decades of advancement for all classes, especially the poorest. Or, consider the Lyndon B. Johnson era. Before his presidency, Johnson had voted against every single piece of civil rights legislation over his two decades in Congress, notes Ari Berman in Give Us the Ballot. Yet, he pushed through the most important Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction and then the War on Poverty, helping to cut the poverty rate in half in just over a decade. Johnson understood that only citizen pressure could give him the muscle to act against Southern opposition: So he said to Martin Luther King, "Ok you go out there, Dr. King, and keep doing what you are doing, and make it possible for me to do the right thing," Bill Moyers recounts. It was only after King, John Lewis, and company marched in Selma and met brutal repression, creating a political crisis, that LBJ was able to act. Lesson? Previous voting records aren't always indicators of a president's policy positions. Much depends on what we citizens do. This insight focuses the mind on building a powerful citizens' movement. And when it's not there, what happens? After President Obama's election, the activism his campaign sparked fell apart, as we failed to build a powerful citizens' movement pressing the president and Congress to pass foundational democracy reforms. So, a key strategic question for us: Which candidate today is likely to respond to pressure representing majority opinion on strengthening democracy? After all, 85 percent of Americans want fundamental changes in the way we fund our elections. Some claim that Clinton and Trump are equally as (un)likely to correct our deep "democratic deficit." We strongly disagree. Clinton and the Democratic Party's platform declare support for virtually every major democracy reform now pursued by dozens of national citizen organizations. (See the Field Guide to Money-Out-of Politics) Reforms include voting rights, removing barriers to voting, public-and-small-donor financing of campaigns, and ending political gerrymandering, as well as beginning the process of a constitutional amendment to establish that only real people (not corporations) have constitutional rights. Trump, on the other hand, has expressed no concrete plan or even desire for campaign finance or voting rights reform. Instead he's implicitly suggested intimidating voters on Election Day. Of course, legislation isn't the only thing we have to think about to be strategic. The president has the power of appointment with huge consequences. Most obvious is the Supreme Court vacancy. Obama's nominee, Justice Merrick Garland, will likely not be confirmed by the end of this year. So either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will shape the ideological composition of the Court for years to come. Vital issues from money in politics to voting rights to environmental regulation all hang in the balance. And then there are cabinet appointments. Often under-the radar administrative positions often dictate significant policy shifts. Think of Ronald Reagan's cabinet appointments, and, for example, his choice of Anne Burford to head the Environmental Protection Agency. There, she actively diminished the EPA's power, cutting its budget by over one-fifth and rolling back environmental protections. Given the extreme ideological position of the GOP on climate change, it's not paranoid to expect a similar tactic if Trump is elected. Or, imagine what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would do as Attorney General? Back in April, we both gained a deep sense of the power of united citizens as we marched with Democracy Spring from Philly to D.C. and participated in its historic sit-in for money-out-of-politics, voting reform, and a constitutional amendment. After deep discussion, Democracy Spring took a bold step by advocating that its members strategically vote for Clinton. This is not an endorsement, Democracy Spring makes clear, but part of a strategic plan. At a moment of national crisis, each of us has to make us a choice, asking which candidate's presidency could give us the best shot at achieving real democracy? As with Democracy Spring, we, too, see only one strategic choice. With Clinton, there is at least hope for building a "movement of movements"--a true Democracy Movement to "make her do it"--that is, to give her the shove and the necessary muscle to follow through on her promises. As Bernie has reminded us, as FDR and LBJ have shown us, the real fight for democracy will begin the day after the election. Being strategic involves one's own vote, and beyond: It means being able to look oneself in the mirror the morning after the election and ask: Did I do enough to create the possibility for foundational reform? Until November, therefore, we will be doing all we can to register voters, persuade the disengaged to vote, and help get people to the polls on Election Day. We hope to see you out on the streets and at the polls with us. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 сентября, 16:04

We, The Plutocrats vs. We, The People

The following is a condensed version of a speech that Bill Moyers delivered at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, on July 8, 2016, and is crossposted at TomDispatch.com. Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter -- small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the paper's old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as "the housewives' rebellion." Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers. Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service. Because they tended to earn lower wages, accumulate less savings and be stuck in those jobs all their lives, social security was their only insurance against poverty in old age. Yet their plight did not move their employers. The housewives argued that Social Security was unconstitutional and imposing it was taxation without representation. They even equated it with slavery. They also claimed that "requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage." So they hired a high-powered lawyer -- a notorious former congressman from Texas who had once chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee -- and took their case to court. They lost, and eventually wound up holding their noses and paying the tax, but not before their rebellion had become national news. The stories I helped report for the local paper were picked up and carried across the country by the Associated Press. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP Teletype machine beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing our paper and its reporters for our coverage of the housewives' rebellion. I was hooked, and in one way or another I've continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism. It took me awhile to put the housewives' rebellion into perspective. Race played a role, of course. Marshall was a segregated, antebellum town of 20,000, half of whom were white, the other half black. White ruled, but more than race was at work. Those 15 housewives were respectable townsfolk, good neighbors, regulars at church (some of them at my church). Their children were my friends; many of them were active in community affairs; and their husbands were pillars of the town's business and professional class. So what brought on that spasm of rebellion?  They simply couldn't see beyond their own prerogatives. Fiercely loyal to their families, their clubs, their charities and their congregations -- fiercely loyal, that is, to their own kind -- they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. They expected to be comfortable and secure in their old age, but the women who washed and ironed their laundry, wiped their children's bottoms, made their husbands' beds and cooked their family's meals would also grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show from their years of labor but the crease in their brow and the knots on their knuckles. In one way or another, this is the oldest story in our country's history: the struggle to determine whether "we, the people" is a metaphysical reality -- one nation, indivisible -- or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others. "I Contain Multitudes" There is a vast difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud, a democracy in name only. I have no doubt about what the United States of America was meant to be. It's spelled out right there in the 52 most revolutionary words in our founding documents, the preamble to our Constitution, proclaiming the sovereignty of the people as the moral base of government: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. What do those words mean, if not that we are all in the business of nation-building together? Now, I recognize that we've never been a country of angels guided by a presidium of saints. Early America was a moral morass. One in five people in the new nation was enslaved. Justice for the poor meant stocks and stockades. Women suffered virtual peonage. Heretics were driven into exile, or worse. Native people -- the Indians -- would be forcibly removed from their land, their fate a "trail of tears" and broken treaties. No, I'm not a romantic about our history and I harbor no idealized notions of politics and democracy. Remember, I worked for President Lyndon Johnson. I heard him often repeat the story of the Texas poker shark who leaned across the table and said to his mark: "Play the cards fair, Reuben. I know what I dealt you." LBJ knew politics. Nor do I romanticize "the people." When I began reporting on the state legislature while a student at the University of Texas, a wily old state senator offered to acquaint me with how the place worked. We stood at the back of the Senate floor as he pointed to his colleagues spread out around the chamber -- playing cards, napping, nipping, winking at pretty young visitors in the gallery -- and he said to me, "If you think these guys are bad, you should see the people who sent them there." And yet, despite the flaws and contradictions of human nature -- or perhaps because of them -- something took hold here. The American people forged a civilization: that thin veneer of civility stretched across the passions of the human heart. Because it can snap at any moment, or slowly weaken from abuse and neglect until it fades away, civilization requires a commitment to the notion (contrary to what those Marshall housewives believed) that we are all in this together. American democracy grew a soul, as it were -- given voice by one of our greatest poets, Walt Whitman, with his all-inclusive embrace in Song of Myself: Whoever degrades another degrades me, and whatever is done or said returns at last to me... I speak the pass-word primeval -- I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms... (I am large -- I contain multitudes.) Author Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has vividly described Whitman seeing himself in whomever he met in America. As he wrote in I Sing the Body Electric: -- the horseman in his saddle, Girls, mothers, housekeepers, in all their performances, The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner kettles and their wives waiting, The female soothing a child -- the farmer's daughter in the garden or cowyard, The young fellow hoeing corn -- Whitman's words celebrate what Americans shared at a time when they were less dependent on each other than we are today. As Townsend put it, "Many more people lived on farms in the nineteenth century, and so they could be a lot more self-reliant; growing their own food, sewing their clothes, building their homes. But rather than applauding what each American could do in isolation, Whitman celebrated the vast chorus: 'I hear America singing.'" The chorus he heard was of multitudinous voices, a mighty choir of humanity. Whitman saw something else in the soul of the country: Americans at work, the laboring people whose toil and sweat built this nation. Townsend contrasts his attitude with the way politicians and the media today -- in their endless debates about wealth creation, capital gains reduction and high corporate taxes -- seem to have forgotten working people. "But Whitman wouldn't have forgotten them." She writes, "He celebrates a nation where everyone is worthy, not where a few do well." President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood the soul of democracy too. He expressed it politically, although his words often ring like poetry. Paradoxically, to this scion of the American aristocracy, the soul of democracy meant political equality. "Inside the polling booth," he said, "every American man and woman stands as the equal of every other American man and woman. There they have no superiors. There they have no masters save their own minds and consciences." God knows it took us a long time to get there. Every claim of political equality in our history has been met by fierce resistance from those who relished for themselves what they would deny others. After President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation it took a century before Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- a hundred years of Jim Crow law and Jim Crow lynchings, of forced labor and coerced segregation, of beatings and bombings, of public humiliation and degradation, of courageous but costly protests and demonstrations. Think of it: another hundred years before the freedom won on the bloody battlefields of the Civil War was finally secured in the law of the land. And here's something else to think about: Only one of the women present at the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 -- only one, Charlotte Woodward -- lived long enough to see women actually get to vote. "We Pick That Rabbit Out of the Hat" So it was, in the face of constant resistance, that many heroes -- sung and unsung -- sacrificed, suffered and died so that all Americans could gain an equal footing inside that voting booth on a level playing field on the ground floor of democracy.  And yet today money has become the great unequalizer, the usurper of our democratic soul. No one saw this more clearly than that conservative icon Barry Goldwater, longtime Republican senator from Arizona and one-time Republican nominee for the presidency. Here are his words from almost 30 years ago: The fact that liberty depended on honest elections was of the utmost importance to the patriots who founded our nation and wrote the Constitution. They knew that corruption destroyed the prime requisite of constitutional liberty: an independent legislature free from any influence other than that of the people. Applying these principles to modern times, we can make the following conclusions: To be successful, representative government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Electors must believe that their vote counts. Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups that speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community. About the time Senator Goldwater was writing those words, Oliver Stone released his movie Wall Street. Remember it? Michael Douglas played the high roller Gordon Gekko, who used inside information obtained by his ambitious young protégé, Bud Fox, to manipulate the stock of a company that he intended to sell off for a huge personal windfall, while throwing its workers, including Bud's own blue-collar father, overboard. The younger man is aghast and repentant at having participated in such duplicity and chicanery, and he storms into Gekko's office to protest, asking, "How much is enough, Gordon?" Gekko answers: "The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars... You got 90 percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now, you're not naïve enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you, Buddy?  It's the free market. And you're part of it." That was in the high-flying 1980s, the dawn of today's new gilded age. The Greek historian Plutarch is said to have warned that "an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of a Republic." Yet as the Washington Post pointed out recently, income inequality may be higher at this moment than at any time in the American past. When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country's growth accrued to the bottom 90 percent of households. From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, in fact, income grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of American society than at the top. In 2009, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez explored decades of tax data and found that from 1950 through 1980 the average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans had grown, from $17,719 to $30,941. That represented a 75 percent increase in 2008 dollars. Since 1980, the economy has continued to grow impressively, but most of the benefits have migrated to the top. In these years, workers were more productive but received less of the wealth they were helping to create. In the late 1970s, the richest 1 percent received 9 percent of total income and held 19 percent of the nation's wealth. The share of total income going to that 1 percent would then rise to more than 23 percent by 2007, while their share of total wealth would grow to 35 percent. And that was all before the economic meltdown of 2007-2008. Even though everyone took a hit during the recession that followed, the top 10 percent now hold more than three-quarters of the country's total family wealth. I know, I know: statistics have a way of causing eyes to glaze over, but these statistics highlight an ugly truth about America: inequality matters. It slows economic growth, undermines health, erodes social cohesion and solidarity, and starves education. In their study The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett found that the most consistent predictor of mental illness, infant mortality, low educational achievement, teenage births, homicides, and incarceration was economic inequality.   So bear with me as I keep the statistics flowing. The Pew Research Center recently released a new study indicating that, between 2000 and 2014, the middle class shrank in virtually all parts of the country. Nine out of ten metropolitan areas showed a decline in middle-class neighborhoods. And remember, we aren't even talking about over 45 million people who are living in poverty. Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2013, that top 1 percent captured 85 percent percent of all income growth. Even after the economy improved in 2015, they still took in more than half of the income growth and by 2013 held nearly half of all the stock and mutual fund assets Americans owned.  Now, concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefitting proportionally. But that isn't the case. Once upon a time, according to Isabel Sawhill and Sara McClanahan in their 2006 report Opportunity in America, the American ideal was one in which all children had "a roughly equal chance of success regardless of the economic status of the family into which they were born." Almost 10 years ago, economist Jeffrey Madrick wrote that, as recently as the 1980s, economists thought that "in the land of Horatio Alger only 20 percent of one's future income was determined by one's father's income." He then cited research showing that, by 2007, "60 percent of a son's income [was] determined by the level of income of the father. For women, it [was] roughly the same." It may be even higher today, but clearly a child's chance of success in life is greatly improved if he's born on third base and his father has been tipping the umpire. This raises an old question, one highlighted by the British critic and public intellectual Terry Eagleton in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality?... Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it... plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality? The answer, to me, is self-evident. Capitalism produces winners and losers big time. The winners use their wealth to gain political power, often through campaign contributions and lobbying. In this way, they only increase their influence over the choices made by the politicians indebted to them. While there are certainly differences between Democrats and Republicans on economic and social issues, both parties cater to wealthy individuals and interests seeking to enrich their bottom lines with the help of the policies of the state (loopholes, subsidies, tax breaks, deregulation). No matter which party is in power, the interests of big business are largely heeded. More on that later, but first, a confession. The legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow told his generation of journalists that bias is okay as long as you don't try to hide it. Here's mine: plutocracy and democracy don't mix. As the late (and great) Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Of course the rich can buy more homes, cars, vacations, gadgets, and gizmos than anyone else, but they should not be able to buy more democracy. That they can and do is a despicable blot on American politics that is now spreading like a giant oil spill. In May, President Obama and I both spoke at the Rutgers University commencement ceremony. He was at his inspirational best as 50,000 people leaned into every word. He lifted the hearts of those young men and women heading out into our troubled world, but I cringed when he said, "Contrary to what we hear sometimes from both the left as well as the right, the system isn't as rigged as you think..." Wrong, Mr. President, just plain wrong. The people are way ahead of you on this. In a recent poll, 71 percent of Americans across lines of ethnicity, class, age, and gender said they believe the US economy is rigged. People reported that they are working harder for financial security. One quarter of the respondents had not taken a vacation in more than five years. Seventy-one percent said that they are afraid of unexpected medical bills; 53 percent feared not being able to make a mortgage payment; and, among renters, 60 percent worried that they might not make the monthly rent. Millions of Americans, in other words, are living on the edge. Yet the country has not confronted the question of how we will continue to prosper without a workforce that can pay for its goods and services. Who Dunnit? You didn't have to read Das Kapital to see this coming or to realize that the United States was being transformed into one of the harshest, most unforgiving societies among the industrial democracies. You could instead have read the Economist, arguably the most influential business-friendly magazine in the English-speaking world. I keep in my files a warning published in that magazine a dozen years ago, on the eve of George W. Bush's second term. The editors concluded back then that, with income inequality in the US reaching levels not seen since the first Gilded Age and social mobility diminishing, "the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society." And mind you, that was before the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, before the bailout of Wall Street, before the recession that only widened the gap between the super-rich and everyone else. Ever since then, the great sucking sound we've been hearing is wealth heading upwards. The United States now has a level of income inequality unprecedented in our history and so dramatic it's almost impossible to wrap one's mind around. Contrary to what the president said at Rutgers, this is not the way the world works; it's the way the world is made to work by those with the money and power. The movers and shakers -- the big winners -- keep repeating the mantra that this inequality was inevitable, the result of the globalization of finance and advances in technology in an increasingly complex world. Those are part of the story, but only part. As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, "In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men. But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality." Exactly. In our case, a religion of invention, not revelation, politically engineered over the last 40 years. Yes, politically engineered. On this development, you can't do better than read Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of political science. They were mystified by what had happened to the post-World War II notion of "shared prosperity"; puzzled by the ways in which ever more wealth has gone to the rich and super rich; vexed that hedge-fund managers pull in billions of dollars, yet pay taxes at lower rates than their secretaries; curious about why politicians kept slashing taxes on the very rich and handing huge tax breaks and subsidies to corporations that are downsizing their work forces; troubled that the heart of the American Dream -- upward mobility -- seemed to have stopped beating; and dumbfounded that all of this could happen in a democracy whose politicians were supposed to serve the greatest good for the greatest number. So Hacker and Pierson set out to find out "how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class." In other words, they wanted to know: "Who dunnit?" They found the culprit. With convincing documentation they concluded, "Step by step and debate by debate, America's public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many." There you have it: the winners bought off the gatekeepers, then gamed the system. And when the fix was in they turned our economy into a feast for the predators, "saddling Americans with greater debt, tearing new holes in the safety net, and imposing broad financial risks on Americans as workers, investors, and taxpayers." The end result, Hacker and Pierson conclude, is that the United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by. Bruce Springsteen sings of "the country we carry in our hearts." This isn't it. "God's Work" Looking back, you have to wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs. In the 1970s, Big Business began to refine its ability to act as a class and gang up on Congress. Even before the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, political action committees deluged politics with dollars. Foundations, corporations, and rich individuals funded think tanks that churned out study after study with results skewed to their ideology and interests. Political strategists made alliances with the religious right, with Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, to zealously wage a cultural holy war that would camouflage the economic assault on working people and the middle class. To help cover up this heist of the economy, an appealing intellectual gloss was needed. So public intellectuals were recruited and subsidized to turn "globalization," "neo-liberalism," and "the Washington Consensus" into a theological belief system. The "dismal science of economics" became a miracle of faith. Wall Street glistened as the new Promised Land, while few noticed that those angels dancing on the head of a pin were really witchdoctors with MBAs brewing voodoo magic. The greed of the Gordon Gekkos -- once considered a vice -- was transformed into a virtue. One of the high priests of this faith, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, looking in wonder on all that his company had wrought, pronounced it "God's work." A prominent neoconservative religious philosopher even articulated a "theology of the corporation."  I kid you not. And its devotees lifted their voices in hymns of praise to wealth creation as participation in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.  Self-interest became the Gospel of the Gilded Age. No one today articulates this winner-take-all philosophy more candidly than Ray Dalio. Think of him as the King Midas of hedge funds, with a personal worth estimated at almost $16 billion and a company, Bridgewater Associates, reportedly worth as much as $154 billion. Dalio fancies himself a philosopher and has written a book of maxims explaining his philosophy. It boils down to: "Be a hyena. Attack the Wildebeest." (Wildebeests, antelopes native to southern Africa -- as I learned when we once filmed a documentary there -- are no match for the flesh-eating dog-like spotted hyenas that gorge on them.)  Here's what Dalio wrote about being a Wall Street hyena: ...when a pack of hyenas takes down a young wildebeest, is this good or bad? At face value, this seems terrible; the poor wildebeest suffers and dies. Some people might even say that the hyenas are evil. Yet this type of apparently evil behavior exists throughout nature through all species... like death itself, this behavior is integral to the enormously complex and efficient system that has worked for as long as there has been life... [It] is good for both the hyenas, who are operating in their self-interest, and the interests of the greater system, which includes the wildebeest, because killing and eating the wildebeest fosters evolution, i.e., the natural process of improvement... Like the hyenas attacking the wildebeest, successful people might not even know if or how their pursuit of self-interest helps evolution, but it typically does. He concludes: "How much money people have earned is a rough measure of how much they gave society what it wanted..." Not this time, Ray.  This time, the free market for hyenas became a slaughterhouse for the wildebeest. Collapsing shares and house prices destroyed more than a quarter of the wealth of the average household. Many people have yet to recover from the crash and recession that followed. They are still saddled with burdensome debt; their retirement accounts are still anemic. All of this was, by the hyena's accounting, a social good, "an improvement in the natural process," as Dalio puts it. Nonsense. Bull. Human beings have struggled long and hard to build civilization; his doctrine of "progress" is taking us back to the jungle. And by the way, there's a footnote to the Dalio story. Early this year, the founder of the world's largest hedge fund, and by many accounts the richest man in Connecticut where it is headquartered, threatened to take his firm elsewhere if he didn't get concessions from the state. You might have thought that the governor, a Democrat, would have thrown him out of his office for the implicit threat involved. But no, he buckled and Dalio got the $22 million in aid -- a $5 million grant and a $17 million loan -- that he was demanding to expand his operations. It's a loan that may be forgiven if he keeps jobs in Connecticut and creates new ones. No doubt he left the governor's office grinning like a hyena, his shoes tracking wildebeest blood across the carpet. Our founders warned against the power of privileged factions to capture the machinery of democracies.  James Madison, who studied history through a tragic lens, saw that the life cycle of previous republics had degenerated into anarchy, monarchy, or oligarchy. Like many of his colleagues, he was well aware that the republic they were creating could go the same way.  Distrusting, even detesting concentrated private power, the founders attempted to erect safeguards to prevent private interests from subverting the moral and political compact that begins, "We, the people." For a while, they succeeded. When the brilliant young French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 1830s, he was excited by the democratic fervor he witnessed. Perhaps that excitement caused him to exaggerate the equality he celebrated.  Close readers of de Tocqueville will notice, however, that he did warn of the staying power of the aristocracy, even in this new country.  He feared what he called, in the second volume of his masterwork, Democracy in America, an "aristocracy created by business."  He described it as already among "the harshest that ever existed in the world" and suggested that, "if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter." And so it did. Half a century later, the Gilded Age arrived with a new aristocratic hierarchy of industrialists, robber barons, and Wall Street tycoons in the vanguard. They had their own apologist in the person of William Graham Sumner, an Episcopal minister turned professor of political economy at Yale University. He famously explained that "competition... is a law of nature" and that nature "grants her rewards to the fittest, therefore, without regard to other considerations of any kind." From Sumner's essays to the ravenous excesses of Wall Street in the 1920s to the ravings of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Fox News, to the business press's wide-eyed awe of hyena-like CEOs; from the Republican war on government to the Democratic Party's shameless obeisance to big corporations and contributors, this "law of nature" has served to legitimate the yawning inequality of income and wealth, even as it has protected networks of privilege and monopolies in major industries like the media, the tech sector, and the airlines. A plethora of studies conclude that America's political system has already been transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy (the rule of a wealthy elite). Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, for instance, studied data from 1,800 different policy initiatives launched between 1981 and 2002. They found that "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence."  Whether Republican or Democratic, they concluded, the government more often follows the preferences of major lobbying or business groups than it does those of ordinary citizens. We can only be amazed that a privileged faction in a fervent culture of politically protected greed brought us to the brink of a second Great Depression, then blamed government and a "dependent" 47 percent of the population for our problems, and ended up richer and more powerful than ever. The Truth of Your Life Which brings us back to those Marshall housewives -- to all those who simply can't see beyond their own prerogatives and so narrowly define membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. How would I help them recoup their sanity, come home to democracy, and help build the sort of moral compact embodied in the preamble to the Constitution, that declaration of America's intent and identity? First, I'd do my best to remind them that societies can die of too much inequality. Second, I'd give them copies of anthropologist Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed to remind them that we are not immune.  Diamond won the Pulitzer Prize for describing how the damage humans have inflicted on their environment has historically led to the decline of civilizations. In the process, he vividly depicts how elites repeatedly isolate and delude themselves until it's too late.  How, extracting wealth from commoners, they remain well fed while everyone else is slowly starving until, in the end, even they (or their offspring) become casualties of their own privilege. Any society, it turns out, contains a built-in blueprint for failure if elites insulate themselves endlessly from the consequences of their decisions. Third, I'd discuss the real meaning of "sacrifice and bliss" with them. That was the title of the fourth episode of my PBS series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. In that episode, Campbell and I discussed the influence on him of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who believed that the will to live is the fundamental reality of human nature. So he puzzled about why some people override it and give up their lives for others. "Can this happen?" Campbell asked. "That what we normally think of as the first law of nature, namely self-preservation, is suddenly dissolved. What creates that breakthrough when we put another's well-being ahead of our own?"  He then told me of an incident that took place near his home in Hawaii, up in the heights where the trade winds from the north come rushing through a great ridge of mountains. People go there to experience the force of nature, to let their hair be blown in the winds -- and sometimes to commit suicide. One day, two policemen were driving up that road when, just beyond the railing, they saw a young man about to jump. One of the policemen bolted from the car and grabbed the fellow just as he was stepping off the ledge. His momentum threatened to carry both of them over the cliff, but the policeman refused to let go. Somehow he held on long enough for his partner to arrive and pull the two of them to safety. When a newspaper reporter asked, "Why didn't you let go? You would have been killed," he answered: "I couldn't... I couldn't let go. If I had, I couldn't have lived another day of my life." Campbell then added: "Do you realize what had suddenly happened to that policeman? He had given himself over to death to save a stranger.  Everything else in his life dropped off. His duty to his family, his duty to his job, his duty to his own career, all of his wishes and hopes for life, just disappeared." What mattered was saving that young man, even at the cost of his own life. How can this be, Campbell asked?  Schopenhauer's answer, he said, was that a psychological crisis represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical reality, which is that you and the other are two aspects of one life, and your apparent separateness is but an effect of the way we experience forms under the conditions of space and time. Our true reality is our identity and unity with all life. Sometimes, however instinctively or consciously, our actions affirm that reality through some unselfish gesture or personal sacrifice. It happens in marriage, in parenting, in our relations with the people immediately around us, and in our participation in building a society based on reciprocity. The truth of our country isn't actually so complicated. It's in the moral compact implicit in the preamble to our Constitution: we're all in this together. We are all one another's first responders. As the writer Alberto Rios once put it, "I am in your family tree and you are in mine." I realize that the command to love our neighbor is one of the hardest of all religious concepts, but I also recognize that our connection to others goes to the core of life's mystery and to the survival of democracy.  When we claim this as the truth of our lives -- when we live as if it's so -- we are threading ourselves into the long train of history and the fabric of civilization; we are becoming "we, the people." The religion of inequality -- of money and power -- has failed us; its gods are false gods. There is something more essential -- more profound -- in the American experience than the hyena's appetite. Once we recognize and nurture this, once we honor it, we can reboot democracy and get on with the work of liberating the country we carry in our hearts. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 сентября, 16:04

We, The Plutocrats vs. We, The People

Saving the Soul of Democracy Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Sixty-six years ago this summer, on my 16th birthday, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town of Marshall where I grew up. It was a good place to be a cub reporter -- small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something every day.  I soon had a stroke of luck.  Some of the paper’s old hands were on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to help cover what came to be known across the country as “the housewives' rebellion.” Fifteen women in my hometown decided not to pay the social security withholding tax for their domestic workers.  Those housewives were white, their housekeepers black. Almost half of all employed black women in the country then were in domestic service.  Because they tended to earn lower wages, accumulate less savings, and be stuck in those jobs all their lives, social security was their only insurance against poverty in old age. Yet their plight did not move their employers. The housewives argued that social security was unconstitutional and imposing it was taxation without representation. They even equated it with slavery.  They also claimed that “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.”  So they hired a high-powered lawyer -- a notorious former congressman from Texas who had once chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee -- and took their case to court. They lost, and eventually wound up holding their noses and paying the tax, but not before their rebellion had become national news. The stories I helped report for the local paper were picked up and carried across the country by the Associated Press. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed to the AP Teletype machine beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing our paper and its reporters for our coverage of the housewives' rebellion. I was hooked, and in one way or another I’ve continued to engage the issues of money and power, equality and democracy over a lifetime spent at the intersection between politics and journalism. It took me awhile to put the housewives' rebellion into perspective.  Race played a role, of course.  Marshall was a segregated, antebellum town of 20,000, half of whom were white, the other half black.  White ruled, but more than race was at work. Those 15 housewives were respectable townsfolk, good neighbors, regulars at church (some of them at my church).  Their children were my friends; many of them were active in community affairs; and their husbands were pillars of the town’s business and professional class.  So what brought on that spasm of rebellion?  They simply couldn’t see beyond their own prerogatives.  Fiercely loyal to their families, their clubs, their charities, and their congregations -- fiercely loyal, that is, to their own kind -- they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves.  They expected to be comfortable and secure in their old age, but the women who washed and ironed their laundry, wiped their children’s bottoms, made their husbands’ beds, and cooked their family’s meals would also grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show from their years of labor but the crease in their brow and the knots on their knuckles.  In one way or another, this is the oldest story in our country’s history: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a metaphysical reality -- one nation, indivisible -- or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others. “I Contain Multitudes” There is a vast difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud, a democracy in name only.  I have no doubt about what the United States of America was meant to be.  It’s spelled out right there in the 52 most revolutionary words in our founding documents, the preamble to our Constitution, proclaiming the sovereignty of the people as the moral base of government:   “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” What do those words mean, if not that we are all in the business of nation-building together? Now, I recognize that we’ve never been a country of angels guided by a presidium of saints.  Early America was a moral morass.  One in five people in the new nation was enslaved.  Justice for the poor meant stocks and stockades.  Women suffered virtual peonage. Heretics were driven into exile, or worse. Native people -- the Indians -- would be forcibly removed from their land, their fate a “trail of tears” and broken treaties. No, I’m not a romantic about our history and I harbor no idealized notions of politics and democracy.  Remember, I worked for President Lyndon Johnson.  I heard him often repeat the story of the Texas poker shark who leaned across the table and said to his mark: “Play the cards fair, Reuben. I know what I dealt you.” LBJ knew politics.  Nor do I romanticize “the people.” When I began reporting on the state legislature while a student at the University of Texas, a wily old state senator offered to acquaint me with how the place worked.  We stood at the back of the Senate floor as he pointed to his colleagues spread out around the chamber -- playing cards, napping, nipping, winking at pretty young visitors in the gallery -- and he said to me, “If you think these guys are bad, you should see the people who sent them there.”             And yet, despite the flaws and contradictions of human nature -- or perhaps because of them -- something took hold here. The American people forged a civilization: that thin veneer of civility stretched across the passions of the human heart. Because it can snap at any moment, or slowly weaken from abuse and neglect until it fades away, civilization requires a commitment to the notion (contrary to what those Marshall housewives believed) that we are all in this together. American democracy grew a soul, as it were -- given voice by one of our greatest poets, Walt Whitman, with his all-inclusive embrace in Song of Myself: “Whoever degrades another degrades me, and whatever is done or said returns at last to me... I speak the pass-word primeval -- I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms... (I am large -- I contain multitudes.)” Author Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has vividly described Whitman seeing himself in whomever he met in America. As he wrote in I Sing the Body Electric: “-- the horseman in his saddle,Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances, The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles and their wives waiting, The female soothing a child -- the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard, The young fellow hoeing corn --” Whitman’s words celebrate what Americans shared at a time when they were less dependent on each other than we are today.  As Townsend put it, “Many more people lived on farms in the nineteenth century, and so they could be a lot more self-reliant; growing their own food, sewing their clothes, building their homes.  But rather than applauding what each American could do in isolation, Whitman celebrated the vast chorus: ‘I hear America singing.’” The chorus he heard was of multitudinous voices, a mighty choir of humanity. Whitman saw something else in the soul of the country: Americans at work, the laboring people whose toil and sweat built this nation.  Townsend contrasts his attitude with the way politicians and the media today -- in their endless debates about wealth creation, capital gains reduction, and high corporate taxes -- seem to have forgotten working people. “But Whitman wouldn’t have forgotten them.” She writes, “He celebrates a nation where everyone is worthy, not where a few do well.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood the soul of democracy, too.  He expressed it politically, although his words often ring like poetry.  Paradoxically, to this scion of the American aristocracy, the soul of democracy meant political equality.  “Inside the polling booth,” he said, “every American man and woman stands as the equal of every other American man and woman. There they have no superiors. There they have no masters save their own minds and consciences.”  God knows it took us a long time to get there.  Every claim of political equality in our history has been met by fierce resistance from those who relished for themselves what they would deny others. After President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation it took a century before Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- a hundred years of Jim Crow law and Jim Crow lynchings, of forced labor and coerced segregation, of beatings and bombings, of public humiliation and degradation, of courageous but costly protests and demonstrations. Think of it: another hundred years before the freedom won on the bloody battlefields of the Civil War was finally secured in the law of the land.  And here’s something else to think about: Only one of the women present at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 -- only one, Charlotte Woodward -- lived long enough to see women actually get to vote. “We Pick That Rabbit Out of the Hat” So it was, in the face of constant resistance, that many heroes -- sung and unsung -- sacrificed, suffered, and died so that all Americans could gain an equal footing inside that voting booth on a level playing field on the ground floor of democracy.  And yet today money has become the great unequalizer, the usurper of our democratic soul. No one saw this more clearly than that conservative icon Barry Goldwater, longtime Republican senator from Arizona and one-time Republican nominee for the presidency. Here are his words from almost 30 years ago: “The fact that liberty depended on honest elections was of the utmost importance to the patriots who founded our nation and wrote the Constitution.  They knew that corruption destroyed the prime requisite of constitutional liberty: an independent legislature free from any influence other than that of the people.  Applying these principles to modern times, we can make the following conclusions: To be successful, representative government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Electors must believe that their vote counts.  Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups that speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community.” About the time Senator Goldwater was writing those words, Oliver Stone released his movie Wall Street.  Remember it? Michael Douglas played the high roller Gordon Gekko, who used inside information obtained by his ambitious young protégé, Bud Fox, to manipulate the stock of a company that he intended to sell off for a huge personal windfall, while throwing its workers, including Bud’s own blue-collar father, overboard.  The younger man is aghast and repentant at having participated in such duplicity and chicanery, and he storms into Gekko’s office to protest, asking, “How much is enough, Gordon?” Gekko answers: “The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars… You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip.  We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it.  Now, you’re not naïve enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you, Buddy?  It’s the free market. And you’re part of it.” That was in the high-flying 1980s, the dawn of today’s new gilded age.  The Greek historian Plutarch is said to have warned that “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of a Republic.” Yet as the Washington Post pointed out recently, income inequality may be higher at this moment than at any time in the American past. When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country’s growth accrued to the bottom 90% of households.  From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, in fact, income grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of American society than at the top.  In 2009, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez explored decades of tax data and found that from 1950 through 1980 the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans had grown, from $ 17,719 to $ 30,941.  That represented a 75% increase in 2008 dollars. Since 1980, the economy has continued to grow impressively, but most of the benefits have migrated to the top.  In these years, workers were more productive but received less of the wealth they were helping to create. In the late 1970s, the richest 1% received 9% of total income and held 19% of the nation’s wealth. The share of total income going to that 1% would then rise to more than 23% by 2007, while their share of total wealth would grow to 35%. And that was all before the economic meltdown of 2007-2008. Even though everyone took a hit during the recession that followed, the top 10% now hold more than three-quarters of the country’s total family wealth.  I know, I know: statistics have a way of causing eyes to glaze over, but these statistics highlight an ugly truth about America: inequality matters. It slows economic growth, undermines health, erodes social cohesion and solidarity, and starves education. In their study The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett found that the most consistent predictor of mental illness, infant mortality, low educational achievement, teenage births, homicides, and incarceration was economic inequality.   So bear with me as I keep the statistics flowing.  The Pew Research Center recently released a new study indicating that, between 2000 and 2014, the middle class shrank in virtually all parts of the country.  Nine out of ten metropolitan areas showed a decline in middle-class neighborhoods. And remember, we aren’t even talking about over 45 million people who are living in poverty.  Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2013, that top 1% captured 85% percent of all income growth.  Even after the economy improved in 2015, they still took in more than half of the income growth and by 2013 held nearly half of all the stock and mutual fund assets Americans owned.  Now, concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefitting proportionally.  But that isn’t the case. Once upon a time, according to Isabel Sawhill and Sara McClanahan in their 2006 report Opportunity in America, the American ideal was one in which all children had “a roughly equal chance of success regardless of the economic status of the family into which they were born.”  Almost 10 years ago, economist Jeffrey Madrick wrote that, as recently as the 1980s, economists thought that “in the land of Horatio Alger only 20 percent of one’s future income was determined by one’s father's income.” He then cited research showing that, by 2007, “60 percent of a son’s income [was] determined by the level of income of the father. For women, it [was] roughly the same.” It may be even higher today, but clearly a child's chance of success in life is greatly improved if he’s born on third base and his father has been tipping the umpire. This raises an old question, one highlighted by the British critic and public intellectual Terry Eagleton in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: ”Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality?... Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it... plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality?” The answer, to me, is self-evident.  Capitalism produces winners and losers big time.  The winners use their wealth to gain political power, often through campaign contributions and lobbying.  In this way, they only increase their influence over the choices made by the politicians indebted to them. While there are certainly differences between Democrats and Republicans on economic and social issues, both parties cater to wealthy individuals and interests seeking to enrich their bottom lines with the help of the policies of the state (loopholes, subsidies, tax breaks, deregulation).  No matter which party is in power, the interests of big business are largely heeded. More on that later, but first, a confession.  The legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow told his generation of journalists that bias is okay as long as you don’t try to hide it. Here’s mine: plutocracy and democracy don’t mix. As the late (and great) Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Of course the rich can buy more homes, cars, vacations, gadgets, and gizmos than anyone else, but they should not be able to buy more democracy. That they can and do is a despicable blot on American politics that is now spreading like a giant oil spill. In May, President Obama and I both spoke at the Rutgers University commencement ceremony.  He was at his inspirational best as 50,000 people leaned into every word.  He lifted the hearts of those young men and women heading out into our troubled world, but I cringed when he said, “Contrary to what we hear sometimes from both the left as well as the right, the system isn’t as rigged as you think...” Wrong, Mr. President, just plain wrong. The people are way ahead of you on this.  In a recent poll, 71% of Americans across lines of ethnicity, class, age, and gender said they believe the U.S. economy is rigged.  People reported that they are working harder for financial security.  One quarter of the respondents had not taken a vacation in more than five years.  Seventy-one percent said that they are afraid of unexpected medical bills; 53% feared not being able to make a mortgage payment; and, among renters, 60% worried that they might not make the monthly rent.  Millions of Americans, in other words, are living on the edge.  Yet the country has not confronted the question of how we will continue to prosper without a workforce that can pay for its goods and services. Who Dunnit? You didn’t have to read Das Kapital to see this coming or to realize that the United States was being transformed into one of the harshest, most unforgiving societies among the industrial democracies.  You could instead have read the Economist, arguably the most influential business-friendly magazine in the English-speaking world.  I keep in my files a warning published in that magazine a dozen years ago, on the eve of George W. Bush’s second term.  The editors concluded back then that, with income inequality in the U.S. reaching levels not seen since the first Gilded Age and social mobility diminishing, “the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.” And mind you, that was before the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, before the bailout of Wall Street, before the recession that only widened the gap between the super-rich and everyone else. Ever since then, the great sucking sound we’ve been hearing is wealth heading upwards. The United States now has a level of income inequality unprecedented in our history and so dramatic it’s almost impossible to wrap one’s mind around.  Contrary to what the president said at Rutgers, this is not the way the world works; it’s the way the world is made to work by those with the money and power.  The movers and shakers -- the big winners -- keep repeating the mantra that this inequality was inevitable, the result of the globalization of finance and advances in technology in an increasingly complex world.  Those are part of the story, but only part. As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, “In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men.  But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality.”  Exactly.  In our case, a religion of invention, not revelation, politically engineered over the last 40 years. Yes, politically engineered.  On this development, you can’t do better than read Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of political science. They were mystified by what had happened to the post-World War II notion of “shared prosperity”; puzzled by the ways in which ever more wealth has gone to the rich and super rich; vexed that hedge-fund managers pull in billions of dollars, yet pay taxes at lower rates than their secretaries; curious about why politicians kept slashing taxes on the very rich and handing huge tax breaks and subsidies to corporations that are downsizing their work forces; troubled that the heart of the American Dream -- upward mobility -- seemed to have stopped beating; and dumbfounded that all of this could happen in a democracy whose politicians were supposed to serve the greatest good for the greatest number. So Hacker and Pierson set out to find out “how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class.” In other words, they wanted to know: “Who dunnit?” They found the culprit. With convincing documentation they concluded, “Step by step and debate by debate, America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many.” There you have it: the winners bought off the gatekeepers, then gamed the system.  And when the fix was in they turned our economy into a feast for the predators, “saddling Americans with greater debt, tearing new holes in the safety net, and imposing broad financial risks on Americans as workers, investors, and taxpayers.” The end result, Hacker and Pierson conclude, is that the United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by. Bruce Springsteen sings of “the country we carry in our hearts.” This isn’t it. “God’s Work” Looking back, you have to wonder how we could have ignored the warning signs.  In the 1970s, Big Business began to refine its ability to act as a class and gang up on Congress.  Even before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, political action committees deluged politics with dollars. Foundations, corporations, and rich individuals funded think tanks that churned out study after study with results skewed to their ideology and interests. Political strategists made alliances with the religious right, with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, to zealously wage a cultural holy war that would camouflage the economic assault on working people and the middle class.  To help cover-up this heist of the economy, an appealing intellectual gloss was needed.  So public intellectuals were recruited and subsidized to turn “globalization,” “neo-liberalism,” and “the Washington Consensus” into a theological belief system.  The “dismal science of economics” became a miracle of faith.  Wall Street glistened as the new Promised Land, while few noticed that those angels dancing on the head of a pin were really witchdoctors with MBAs brewing voodoo magic.  The greed of the Gordon Gekkos -- once considered a vice -- was transformed into a virtue.  One of the high priests of this faith, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, looking in wonder on all that his company had wrought, pronounced it “God’s work.” A prominent neoconservative religious philosopher even articulated a “theology of the corporation.”  I kid you not.  And its devotees lifted their voices in hymns of praise to wealth creation as participation in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.  Self-interest became the Gospel of the Gilded Age. No one today articulates this winner-take-all philosophy more candidly than Ray Dalio.  Think of him as the King Midas of hedge funds, with a personal worth estimated at almost $16 billion and a company, Bridgewater Associates, reportedly worth as much as $154 billion.   Dalio fancies himself a philosopher and has written a book of maxims explaining his philosophy. It boils down to: “Be a hyena. Attack the Wildebeest.” (Wildebeests, antelopes native to southern Africa -- as I learned when we once filmed a documentary there -- are no match for the flesh-eating dog-like spotted hyenas that gorge on them.)  Here’s what Dalio wrote about being a Wall Street hyena: “…when a pack of hyenas takes down a young wildebeest, is this good or bad? At face value, this seems terrible; the poor wildebeest suffers and dies. Some people might even say that the hyenas are evil. Yet this type of apparently evil behavior exists throughout nature through all species... like death itself, this behavior is integral to the enormously complex and efficient system that has worked for as long as there has been life... [It] is good for both the hyenas, who are operating in their self-interest, and the interests of the greater system, which includes the wildebeest, because killing and eating the wildebeest fosters evolution, i.e., the natural process of improvement... Like the hyenas attacking the wildebeest, successful people might not even know if or how their pursuit of self-interest helps evolution, but it typically does.” He concludes: “How much money people have earned is a rough measure of how much they gave society what it wanted...” Not this time, Ray.  This time, the free market for hyenas became a slaughterhouse for the wildebeest. Collapsing shares and house prices destroyed more than a quarter of the wealth of the average household.  Many people have yet to recover from the crash and recession that followed. They are still saddled with burdensome debt; their retirement accounts are still anemic.  All of this was, by the hyena’s accounting, a social good, “an improvement in the natural process,” as Dalio puts it.  Nonsense.  Bull.  Human beings have struggled long and hard to build civilization; his doctrine of “progress” is taking us back to the jungle. And by the way, there’s a footnote to the Dalio story.  Early this year, the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, and by many accounts the richest man in Connecticut where it is headquartered, threatened to take his firm elsewhere if he didn’t get concessions from the state. You might have thought that the governor, a Democrat, would have thrown him out of his office for the implicit threat involved.  But no, he buckled and Dalio got the $22 million in aid -- a $5 million grant and a $17 million loan -- that he was demanding to expand his operations. It’s a loan that may be forgiven if he keeps jobs in Connecticut and creates new ones. No doubt he left the governor’s office grinning like a hyena, his shoes tracking wildebeest blood across the carpet.   Our founders warned against the power of privileged factions to capture the machinery of democracies.  James Madison, who studied history through a tragic lens, saw that the life cycle of previous republics had degenerated into anarchy, monarchy, or oligarchy. Like many of his colleagues, he was well aware that the republic they were creating could go the same way.  Distrusting, even detesting concentrated private power, the founders attempted to erect safeguards to prevent private interests from subverting the moral and political compact that begins, “We, the people.” For a while, they succeeded. When the brilliant young French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 1830s, he was excited by the democratic fervor he witnessed.  Perhaps that excitement caused him to exaggerate the equality he celebrated.  Close readers of de Tocqueville will notice, however, that he did warn of the staying power of the aristocracy, even in this new country.  He feared what he called, in the second volume of his masterwork, Democracy in America, an “aristocracy created by business.”  He described it as already among “the harshest that ever existed in the world” and suggested that, “if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrate the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter.”  And so it did.  Half a century later, the Gilded Age arrived with a new aristocratic hierarchy of industrialists, robber barons, and Wall Street tycoons in the vanguard.  They had their own apologist in the person of William Graham Sumner, an Episcopal minister turned professor of political economy at Yale University.  He famously explained that “competition... is a law of nature” and that nature “grants her rewards to the fittest, therefore, without regard to other considerations of any kind.”  From Sumner’s essays to the ravenous excesses of Wall Street in the 1920s to the ravings of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Fox News, to the business press’s wide-eyed awe of hyena-like CEOs; from the Republican war on government to the Democratic Party’s shameless obeisance to big corporations and contributors, this “law of nature” has served to legitimate the yawning inequality of income and wealth, even as it has protected networks of privilege and monopolies in major industries like the media, the tech sector, and the airlines.   A plethora of studies conclude that America’s political system has already been transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy (the rule of a wealthy elite).  Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, for instance, studied data from 1,800 different policy initiatives launched between 1981 and 2002.  They found that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”  Whether Republican or Democratic, they concluded, the government more often follows the preferences of major lobbying or business groups than it does those of ordinary citizens. We can only be amazed that a privileged faction in a fervent culture of politically protected greed brought us to the brink of a second Great Depression, then blamed government and a “dependent” 47% of the population for our problems, and ended up richer and more powerful than ever.  The Truth of Your Life Which brings us back to those Marshall housewives -- to all those who simply can’t see beyond their own prerogatives and so narrowly define membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. How would I help them recoup their sanity, come home to democracy, and help build the sort of moral compact embodied in the preamble to the Constitution, that declaration of America’s intent and identity?  First, I’d do my best to remind them that societies can die of too much inequality.  Second, I’d give them copies of anthropologist Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed to remind them that we are not immune.  Diamond won the Pulitzer Prize for describing how the damage humans have inflicted on their environment has historically led to the decline of civilizations.  In the process, he vividly depicts how elites repeatedly isolate and delude themselves until it’s too late.  How, extracting wealth from commoners, they remain well fed while everyone else is slowly starving until, in the end, even they (or their offspring) become casualties of their own privilege.  Any society, it turns out, contains a built-in blueprint for failure if elites insulate themselves endlessly from the consequences of their decisions. Third, I’d discuss the real meaning of “sacrifice and bliss” with them.  That was the title of the fourth episode of my PBS series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth.  In that episode, Campbell and I discussed the influence on him of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who believed that the will to live is the fundamental reality of human nature.  So he puzzled about why some people override it and give up their lives for others. “Can this happen?” Campbell asked. “That what we normally think of as the first law of nature, namely self-preservation, is suddenly dissolved. What creates that breakthrough when we put another’s well-being ahead of our own?”  He then told me of an incident that took place near his home in Hawaii, up in the heights where the trade winds from the north come rushing through a great ridge of mountains.  People go there to experience the force of nature, to let their hair be blown in the winds -- and sometimes to commit suicide.  One day, two policemen were driving up that road when, just beyond the railing, they saw a young man about to jump.  One of the policemen bolted from the car and grabbed the fellow just as he was stepping off the ledge.  His momentum threatened to carry both of them over the cliff, but the policeman refused to let go.  Somehow he held on long enough for his partner to arrive and pull the two of them to safety.  When a newspaper reporter asked, “Why didn’t you let go? You would have been killed,” he answered: “I couldn’t... I couldn’t let go.  If I had, I couldn’t have lived another day of my life.”  Campbell then added: “Do you realize what had suddenly happened to that policeman? He had given himself over to death to save a stranger.  Everything else in his life dropped off. His duty to his family, his duty to his job, his duty to his own career, all of his wishes and hopes for life, just disappeared.” What mattered was saving that young man, even at the cost of his own life. How can this be, Campbell asked?  Schopenhauer’s answer, he said, was that a psychological crisis represents the breakthrough of a metaphysical reality, which is that you and the other are two aspects of one life, and your apparent separateness is but an effect of the way we experience forms under the conditions of space and time.  Our true reality is our identity and unity with all life. Sometimes, however instinctively or consciously, our actions affirm that reality through some unselfish gesture or personal sacrifice. It happens in marriage, in parenting, in our relations with the people immediately around us, and in our participation in building a society based on reciprocity. The truth of our country isn’t actually so complicated.  It’s in the moral compact implicit in the preamble to our Constitution: we’re all in this together.  We are all one another’s first responders.  As the writer Alberto Rios once put it, “I am in your family tree and you are in mine.” I realize that the command to love our neighbor is one of the hardest of all religious concepts, but I also recognize that our connection to others goes to the core of life’s mystery and to the survival of democracy.  When we claim this as the truth of our lives -- when we live as if it’s so -- we are threading ourselves into the long train of history and the fabric of civilization; we are becoming “we, the people.” The religion of inequality -- of money and power -- has failed us; its gods are false gods.  There is something more essential -- more profound -- in the American experience than the hyena’s appetite.  Once we recognize and nurture this, once we honor it, we can reboot democracy and get on with the work of liberating the country we carry in our hearts. Bill Moyers has been an organizer of the Peace Corps, a top White House aide, a publisher, and a prolific broadcast journalist whose work earned 37 Emmy Awards and nine Peabody Awards. He is president of the Schumann Media Center, which supports independent journalism. This essay is adapted from remarks he prepared for delivery this past summer at the Chautauqua Institution’s week-long focus on money and power. He is grateful to his colleagues Karen Kimball and Gail Ablow for their research and fact checking. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Выбор редакции
12 сентября, 08:55

Bill Moyers: We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People: Saving the Soul of Democracy

National treasure Bill Moyers describes the rise of inequality and America's descent into plutocracy, reflecting wisdom acquired over six decades of thinking and writing about American politics.

08 сентября, 17:18

War vs. Democracy

The paradox of democracy is that it depends on the integrity of those who have the most to lose if an election goes the wrong way -- you know, the people in power. That's a particularly thorny dilemma when the "fourth estate" -- the speakers of truth to power, the public's counterforce against political hackdom -- are basically corporate wimps who view their job as the voice of public relations for the status quo, the defenders of our conventional beliefs, e.g., that God's in his heaven and America is the world's oldest, greatest, most secure democracy. But in 2016, even the mainstream media are trembling with uncertainty. As Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis recently wrote: "Now 16 years after the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000, and a dozen since it was done again in Ohio 2004, the corporate media is approaching consensus that it is indeed very easy to strip millions of legitimate citizens from the voting rolls, and then to hack electronic voting machines and computerized central tabulators to flip the official final outcome." I'm sure the party to thank for this late mainstream awareness that our computerized voting system is painfully vulnerable is Donald Trump, who has dragged the election process into territory more puerile, racist and reptile-brained than even the corporate media can tolerate. Change is coming, apparently, whether we want it or not. Bernie Sanders and the progressive revolution were neatly, efficiently stiffed by the Democrats, but the "alt-right" nationalists and white supremacists surprised the hell out of the Republicans and now their man is leading a charge up Stone Mountain, promising to make America great again, or at least free of non-European immigrants and the cruel constraints of political correctness. Two months before the election, I feel the need to pause and look in several directions at the shortcomings of the process we celebrate with such self-adulation. In an interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner at Tikkun, Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, points out: "The magnificent work that the Bernie Sanders campaign did and the momentum they built and the public support that they demonstrated and mobilized is a wonder to behold and it has forever transformed the political landscape. But it was essentially sabotaged by the Democratic Party as it has always done since George McGovern won the Democratic Party nomination, and the rules of the game were changed so that a grassroots campaign could not win the nomination again -- in part by creating super delegates and Super Tuesdays, but that's not the end of it." It is in this context that I bring up the concept of election reform. For democracy to be real, three rights must be protected: the right to vote, the right to have your vote counted, and the right to vote for a candidate who actually represents you. And as usual, all three of these rights are under assault. Of course they are! Those in power work hard to create a social structure in which they will remain in power. As Bill Moyers wrote: "It is now the game: Candidates ask citizens for their votes, then go to Washington to do the bidding of their donors." Vote suppression takes many forms. The Jim Crow era is long dead, but today we witness the spread of harsh voter ID laws in many states, the closing of voting precincts or miserly allocation of voting machines in low-income and college neighborhoods, and the disenfranchisement of ex-felons (most of whom are men and women of color, thanks to the "new Jim Crow" that is the prison-industrial complex). As U.S. Rep. John Conyers and Barbara Arnwine pointed out several months ago in The Nation: "Whereas voting rights were ascendant in 1966, voter-suppression tactics are spreading in 2016. Whereas Congress was moving in the right direction in 1966, in 2016, it's often conspicuously absent. "The challenge this year -- the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the (Voting Rights Act) -- isn't just protecting free and open access to the ballot; it is also rekindling the fire that forced federal action on voting rights." And then there's the absurd spread of eminently hackable electronic voting machines, which, as Wasserman and Fitrakis pointed out, has finally reached the attention of the mainstream media. The Washington Post, for instance, recently noted that "computer experts . . . have long warned that Americans vote in a way that's so insecure that hackers could change the outcome of races at the local, state and even national level." At least this last matter has an obvious solution: "nothing less than a full and secure hand-count of paper ballots done at the precinct," as Victoria Collier points out. This is "something the American public is likely to support, if given all the facts. What's missing, however, is the political will and public resources to carry out this kind of fully verified election. "Apparently, in the United States, we can conduct multiple trillion-dollar wars around the globe, but counting our own ballots on election night is simply an overwhelming proposition." And that pretty much sums up the state of American democracy. We believe in the concept, but at the level of elections, we don't actually have one right now. We have endless war instead. It's impossible to have both. --- Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. Contact him at [email protected] or visit his website at commonwonders.com. © 2016 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

03 сентября, 17:42

How Clinton's 'Trump Is Crazy’ Strategy Could Backfire

LBJ used the same “frontlash” strategy in 1964. He won in the short term. But in the long run, it proved an illusory triumph.

18 августа, 16:30

150 Years of American Literature & Art: A Retrospective Anthology (2000)

The early issues reprinted material pirated from English authors such as Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, and the Brontë sisters.[4] The magazine soon was publishing the work of American artists and writers, and in time commentary by the likes of Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson. Portions of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick were first published in the October 1851 issue of Harper's under the title, "The Town-Ho's Story" (titled after Chapter 54 of Moby Dick).[5] In 1962, Harper & Brothers merged with Row, Peterson & Company, becoming Harper & Row (now HarperCollins). In 1965, the magazine was separately incorporated, and became a division of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Company, owned by the Cowles Media Company. In the 1970s, Harper's published Seymour Hersh's reporting of the My Lai Massacre by United States forces in Vietnam. In 1971 editor Willie Morris resigned under pressure from owner John Cowles, Jr., prompting resignations from many of the magazine’s star contributors and staffers, including Norman Mailer, David Halberstam, Robert Kotlowitz, Marshall Frady and Larry L. King: "Morris’s departure jolted the literary world. Mailer, William Styron, Gay Talese, Bill Moyers, and Tom Wicker declared that they would boycott Harper’s as long as the Cowles family owned it, and the four staff writers hired by Morris—Frady among them—resigned in solidarity with him.” — Scott Sherman[6] Robert Shnayerson, a senior editor at Time magazine, was hired to replace Morris as Harper's ninth editor, serving in that position from 1971 until 1976.[7][8] Lewis H. Lapham served as managing editor from 1976 until 1981; he returned to the position again from 1983 until 2006. On June 17, 1980, the Star Tribune announced it would cease publishing Harper's Magazine after the August 1980 issue. But, on July 9, 1980, John R. MacArthur (who goes by the name Rick) and his father, Roderick, obtained pledges from the directorial boards of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Atlantic Richfield Company, and CEO Robert Orville Anderson to amass the $1.5 million needed to establish the Harper's Magazine Foundation. It now publishes the magazine.[9][10][11] In 1984, Lapham and MacArthur—now publisher and president of the foundation—along with new executive editor Michael Pollan, redesigned Harper's and introduced the "Harper's Index" (statistics arranged for thoughtful effect), "Readings", and the "Annotation" departments to complement its fiction, essays, reportage, and reviews. As of the March 2011 issue, contributing editor Zadie Smith, a noted British author, writes the print edition's New Books column. Under the Lapham-MacArthur leadership, Harper's magazine continued publishing literary fiction by the likes of John Updike, George Saunders, and others. Politically, Harper's was an especially vocal critic of U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Editor Lapham's monthly "Notebook" columns have lambasted the Clinton and the George W. Bush administrations. Since 2003, the magazine has concentrated on reportage about U.S. war in Iraq, with long articles about the battle for Fallujah, and the cronyism of the American reconstruction of Iraq. Other reporting has covered abortion issues, cloning, and global warming.[12] In 2007, Harper's added the No Comment blog, by attorney Scott Horton, about legal controversies, Central Asian politics, and German studies. In April 2006, Harper's began publishing the Washington Babylon blog on its website,[13] written by Washington Editor Ken Silverstein about American politics; and in 2008, Harper's added the "Sentences" blog, by contributing editor Wyatt Mason, about literature and belles lettres. Since that time these two blogs have ceased publication. Another website feature, composed by a rotating set of authors, is the Weekly Review, single-sentence summaries of political, scientific, and bizarre news; like the Harper's Index and "Findings" in the print edition of the magazine, the Weekly Review items are arranged for ironic contrast. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harper%27s_Magazine

08 августа, 19:04

Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America

By Ari Berman     THE SECOND EMANCIPATION   In December 1964, Lyndon Johnson was in a jubilant mood. He'd just routed Barry Goldwater by twenty-three points, winning 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52, the most lopsided victory in U.S. presidential history to date. Five months earlier, on his daughter Luci's seventeenth birthday, he'd signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a sweeping law that desegregated schools, restaurants, hotels, parks, and many other public places. When John F. Kennedy's advisers urged LBJ not to push the bill following the assassination, the new president replied, "Well, what the hell's the presidency for?" Johnson's commitment to civil rights surprised his critics on the left and the right. He was the first southern president since the Civil War. His first vote in the House of Representatives in 1937 came against an antilynching law. His first major speech in the Senate was a defense of the filibuster, which had been used so often by southern Democrats to block civil rights legislation. He'd voted against every civil rights bill in Congress from 1937 to 1956. JFK put him on the ticket to win the southern segregationist vote. Yet LBJ hadn't had a change of heart so much as a change of circumstances and constituency. He was no longer a congressman or senator from Texas, but the president of the United States. He was now free to say what he believed. Johnson could be crude and manipulative, but he was also unexpectedly compassionate. After graduating from Texas State University–San Marcos, LBJ taught fifth through seventh grades at a segregated Mexican-American school in the south Texas town of Cotulla, where his students showed up barefoot because they were too poor to afford shoes. LBJ cried when he told the story. "It was a genuinely uncontrolled emotion," said Deputy Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a fellow Texan. "It was pretty deep and pretty impressive." Now Johnson wanted to cement the civil rights revolution by giving African-Americans and other long-disenfranchised minority groups the right to vote, a goal that previous civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, and 1964 had not accomplished. The ballot, the president believed, would give Mexican-Americans in Cotulla and blacks in Selma the power to change their circumstances. The vote was "the meat in the coconut," he liked to say. "I want you to undertake the greatest midnight legislative drafting that has happened since Corcoran and Cohen wrote the Holding Company Act," the president instructed the acting attorney general, Nicholas Katzenbach, on December 14, 1964, referring to an obscure New Deal bill in 1935 regulating electric utilities that was written by two senior aides to Franklin Roosevelt. LBJ wanted "a simple, effective method of gettin' 'em registered." He urged Katzenbach and the top lawyers in the Justice Department to "scratch their tails" and "get me some things you'd be proud of, to show your boy, and say, 'Here is what your daddy put through in nineteen sixty-four, -five, -six, -seven.'" Katzenbach, who'd succeeded Robert Kennedy as the nation's top law enforcement official after Johnson's archrival left to run for the U.S. Senate in New York in the summer of 1964, was not thrilled with the new assignment. He'd spent eight months on Capitol Hill lobbying for the Civil Rights Act, which endured a fifty-seven-day filibuster by southern Democrats, the longest in Senate history. The office of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois had practically become his second home. Strong voting rights provisions were stripped from the bill to win congressional support. "The 1964 Civil Rights Act was exhausting," said Ramsey Clark. "It about expended our goodwill with the Senate and the House. President Johnson insisted we were going to have another round of civil rights legislation, this time on voting ... There was no enthusiasm in the Justice Department, but Johnson insisted on it." At the end of December, after consulting with lawyers from the Appeals and Research Section at the DOJ, Katzenbach sent LBJ three options, in order of preference, "to overcome voter apathy and discrimination." Katzenbach's top choice, a constitutional amendment prohibiting states from employing devices like literacy tests and poll taxes that disenfranchised minority voters, "would be the most drastic but probably the most effective of all the alternatives," he wrote. It was also the most "cumbersome," he admitted, because a constitutional amendment needed to be ratified by two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of states. The second option would be to create a federal commission that would appoint federal officers to register voters for federal elections. The third option would be for the federal government "to assume direct control of registration for voting in both federal and state elections in any area where the percentage of potential Negro registrants actually registered is low." Civil rights activists favored the last option. "This approach would quickly provide political power to Negroes in proportion to their actual numbers in areas in which they are now disenfranchised," Katzenbach wrote. "On the other hand, its effects on general voter apathy would be relatively minimal ... Moreover, its constitutionality is more dubious than that of the preceding suggestion." In his State of the Union address a week later, Johnson vowed to "eliminate every remaining obstacle to the right and the opportunity to vote." Inside the White House, a debate raged among Johnson's inner circle over how and when to push voting rights legislation. "Certainly I have absolutely no problem with the desirability of such legislation, but I do have a problem about the timing and the approach," Lee White, one of LBJ's top advisers on civil rights, wrote to the special assistant Bill Moyers on December 30, 1964. The Civil Rights Act was less than a year old, White argued, and the prospects for passing voting rights legislation did not look particularly favorable. White proposed that 1965 "be a year of test" on civil rights. Horace Busby, a Johnson aide since 1946 from Texas, was less charitable. "To southern minds and mores," he wrote to White and Moyers, "the proposals of this message would represent a return to Reconstruction." The mercurial Johnson wanted to keep his legislative options open. Four days after talking with Katzenbach, LBJ met at the White House with Martin Luther King, Jr., who'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that week. King told Johnson that he would soon be launching a voting rights campaign in Selma, where only 2 percent of blacks were registered to vote. He asked the president for his support. "Martin, you are right about that," Johnson replied. "I'm going to do it eventually, but I can't get voting rights through in this session of Congress." The president's ambitious Great Society agenda took priority. "I need the votes of the southern bloc to get these other things through," Johnson said. "And if I present a voting rights bill, they will block the whole program. So it's just not the wise and the politically expedient thing to do." King left the meeting dispirited. His voter registration drive in Selma would be aimed as much at the federal government as at the segregated South. "I think we've got to find a way to get this president some power," King told Andrew Young as they departed the White House. * * * The Alabama senator William Rufus King founded Selma in 1820, naming it after the Ossian poem The Songs of Selma, about a town on the high bluffs above a river. "Selma," wrote the historian and LBJ adviser Eric Goldman, "was straight out of a thousand novels about the unreconstructed South, lovely to look at and ugly just beneath the surface." In the 1800s, white planters flocked to the Black Belt, which spanned from Texas to eastern Virginia, to grow cotton in its rich soil, bringing with them many slaves. Selma became a major slave-trading port. The city passed twenty-seven ordinances regulating the behavior of slaves, stipulating, for example, that "any Negro found upon the streets of the city smoking a cigar or pipe or carrying a walking cane must be on conviction punished with 39 lashes." During the Civil War, Selma manufactured weapons for the Confederacy and was commanded by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. The city was torched during the Battle of Selma in April 1865 and occupied during Reconstruction, when federal troops registered seven hundred thousand emancipated slaves across the South from 1867 to 1868. Following the Civil War, Selma elected numerous black officials, including two congressmen and thirteen state legislators. Sign up for more essays, interviews and excerpts from Thought Matters. ThoughtMatters is a partnership between Macmillan Publishers and Huffington Post Reconstruction prompted a vicious white backlash, which gained traction following the disputed election of 1876, when the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes pulled federal troops out of the South in return for the electoral votes of Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. Segregationist whites, known as Redeemers, regained power and quickly targeted black voters, first through violence and fraud and then via devices like literacy and good character tests, poll taxes, and stringent residency requirements. Mississippi became the first state to change its constitution to disenfranchise black voters in 1890. Every other southern state quickly followed. Black voters disappeared seemingly overnight. "When you pay $1.50 for a poll tax, in Dallas County, I believe you disenfranchise 10 Negroes," Henry Fontaine Reese, a delegate from Selma, argued at Alabama's Constitutional Convention of 1901. "Give us this $1.50 for educational purposes and for the disenfranchisement of a vicious and useless class." Reese represented what Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Constitution called "Black Belt thinking," which infected not only Selma but so much of the South. After adoption of the 1901 constitution, the number of black registered votes in Alabama fell from 182,000 to 4,000. Following the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 ordering the desegregation of public schools, Selma became the Alabama headquarters of the White Citizens' Council, regarded by civil rights activists as the white-collar Klan, which maintained segregation through political and economic power. The city embodied the southern Democratic policy of massive resistance to civil rights. Its native sons included the Birmingham sheriff, Bull Connor, and the Dallas County sheriff, Jim Clark, who vied for the title of Alabama's most tyrannical segregationist. Clark fashioned himself after Gen. George Patton, carried a cattle prod as a weapon against civil rights activists, and wore a black-and-white pin that read "Never" ("Clark's rejoinder to 'We Shall Overcome,'" wrote Ramparts magazine). The Dallas County board of registrars used every device imaginable to keep black voters off the rolls, most notably a literacy test that required them to name all sixty-seven county judges in the state. Two days after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sheriff Clark arrested four SNCC workers for trying to desegregate the Thirsty Boy drive-in restaurant. Days later Clark arrested John Lewis (his thirty-seventh arrest) and seventy blacks who attempted to register to vote at the Dallas County Courthouse, on one of the two days each month the board of registrars was open. The Circuit Court judge James Hare, who compared blacks with "backward" jungle tribes in his courtroom, issued an injunction banning any meeting of three or more African-Americans in Selma, which effectively ended all civil rights protests. King had come to Selma to challenge that injunction. "Today marks the beginning of a determined, organized, mobilized campaign to get the right to vote everywhere in Alabama," King told a packed house at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965, the 102nd anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. "If we are refused, we will appeal to Governor George Wallace. If he refuses to listen, we will appeal to the legislature. If they don't listen, we will appeal to the conscience of the Congress in another dramatic march on Washington." He repeated the refrain from his first major speech on voting rights in 1957 at the Lincoln Memorial: "Give us the ballot." Beginning on January 18, SNCC and King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) teamed up to lead joint voter registration marches to the Dallas County Courthouse, which Clark had guarded like a prison since becoming sheriff in 1955. He'd even moved his family into the county jail next door when the demonstrations began so that he'd be closer to work, where he could spy on the SNCC office across the street from his jailhouse window. On day one, the six-foot-two, 220-pound Clark, wearing his trademark Eisenhower jacket and military helmet, herded four hundred prospective black voters into an alley behind the courthouse, where they waited all day without ever making it inside to register. When they returned the next day, he arrested sixty-two blacks for unlawful assembly and five more for "criminal provocation." He yanked Amelia Boynton, the stately godmother of Selma's voting rights movement, by the collar of her jacket and threw her into his squad car. The photo appeared on the front page of The New York Times. Clark's crackdown increased pressure on the president to expedite his timetable for voting rights legislation. On February 1, King and five hundred schoolchildren were thrown in jail. "All of us should be concerned with the efforts of our fellow Americans to register to vote in Alabama," Johnson said at a news conference while King sat in his cell. The turning point in the fight for the right to vote came on February 18, thirty miles from Selma, in the small town of Marion, Coretta Scott King's hometown. Beneath a full orange moon, two hundred blacks held a rare night march from Zion United Methodist Church to the Perry County jail to protest the arrest of the SCLC worker James Orange, who was behind bars for "contributing to the delinquency of minors" after encouraging students to sing freedom songs outside the courthouse. In a precursor to Bloody Sunday, Alabama state troopers attacked the marchers with nightsticks, sending them fleeing for safety. Jimmie Lee Jackson, his mother, Viola, and his grandfather Cager Lee hid in Mack's Café. Ten state troopers entered and beat Jackson's mother to the ground. When Jackson lunged to protect her, a state trooper shot him point-blank in the stomach. "For the state troopers the action in Marion was like a shot of amphetamine to a speed freak," wrote the civil rights activist Chuck Fager. In a final indignity, Col. Al Lingo of the Alabama Department of Public Safety served Jackson in the hospital with a warrant for assault and battery with the intent to murder an Alabama state trooper. Jackson died a week later, the "first martyr of the current campaign for the vote," wrote Taylor Branch. Four thousand people attended two funeral services for Jackson, in Selma and Marion. RACISM KILLED OUR BROTHER, said a large banner on the front of Brown Chapel. Jackson was given a "freedom funeral" in a small tract of woods alongside County Road 183; he was buried in blue denim overalls, a blue denim jumper, white shirt, and necktie-the uniform of the SCLC. At a mass meeting in Selma, the King aide James Bevel first suggested the idea of marching from Selma to Montgomery to protest Jackson's death at the state capitol. "We are going to bring a voting bill into being in the streets of Selma, Alabama," King vowed. King met with Johnson in Washington again on March 5, the same day the DOJ's Civil Rights Division finished a rough draft of a voting rights bill. The legislation was based on the last option in Katzenbach's December 1964 memo, a powerful blueprint giving the federal government extensive power over voter registration in the South. Then came Bloody Sunday. "It required the atrocities of Selma," said Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, "to invoke the Fifteenth Amendment's instructions."     Read the full excerpt of Give Us the Ballot here.   Copyright © 2015 by Ari Berman       Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation and an investigative journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in 2010. He lives in New York City.     Read more at Thought Matters. Sign up for originals essays, interviews, and excerpts from some of the most influential minds of our age. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 августа, 22:54

Who Are Trump Voters?

The latest Huffington Post Poll of Polls shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 47.1 percent to 39.7 percent. Many political observers feel that Trump's voter "ceiling" is 40 percent of the electorate. Who are these voters? Two years ago, Pew Research Center released a typology of American politics. The typology distinguished between three classes of voters: the general public, registered voters, and the "politically engaged." In the category "politically engaged" there were three categories of Republicans: "Steadfast Conservatives: socially conservative populists" at 19 percent; "Business Conservatives: Pro-Wall street, pro-immigrant" at 17 percent; "Young Outsiders: conservative views on government, not on social issues" at 11 percent. In addition, there is a swing group of Democrats, "Hard Pressed Skeptics: Financially stressed and pessimistic" at 9 percent. These are "Reagan Democrats." Given the Pew data, the hard-core Trump base is probably composed of "Steadfast Conservatives" and "Young Outsiders" for 30 percent. (This is roughly the size of the Tea Party movement.) It's safe to assume that some Business Conservatives and some Hard-Pressed Skeptics also support Trump. Thus, the core Trump vote is likely to be 30-40 percent of the portion of the electorate that are probable voters. In March, Bill Moyers interviewed Dr. Robert Jones whose organization conducted the "American Values Survey." Dr. Jones said that Trump voters: "... are best understood not as values voters, not even as Tea Party voters, but as nostalgia voters, these voters that are looking back to -- they're culturally and economically disaffected voters that are anxious to hold on to a white conservative Christian culture that's passing from the scene." [Emphasis added] The Trump voters are united by their skepticism about government: both the perceived failings of the Obama Administration (and, by association, Hillary Clinton) and their negative feelings about immigration. They are fearful and angry. On July 7th, Gallup profiled the differences between Trump voters and Clinton voters. Trump voters are overwhelmingly White, male, elderly, and uneducated (57 percent of white voters without a college degree support Trump; 52 percent of white voters with a college degree support Clinton.) The New Yorker's George Saunders spent several months following the Trump campaign. He observed: From the beginning, America has been of two minds about the Other. One mind says, be suspicious of it, dominate it, deport it, exploit it, enslave it, kill it as needed. The other mind denies that there can be any such thing as the Other, in the face of the claim that all are created equal. The first mind has always held violence nearby, to use as needed, and that violence has infused everything we do--our entertainments, our sex, our schools, our ads, our jokes, our view of the earth itself, somehow even our food. It sends our young people abroad in heavy armor, fills public spaces with gunshots, drives people quietly insane in their homes. And here it comes again, that brittle frontier spirit, that lone lean guy in our heads, with a gun and a fear of encroachment. But he's picked up a few tricks along the way, has learned to come at us in a form we know and have forgotten to be suspicious of, from TV: famous, likably cranky, a fan of winning by any means necessary, exploiting our recent dullness and our aversion to calling stupidity stupidity, lest we seem too precious. Trump voters are afraid and angry. They are uneducated White men who fear that they have been left behind. Donald Trump knows how to harness this fear. He's "famous, likably cranky, a fan of winning by any means necessary." Fortunately, at the moment, the voters Trump appeals to are a minority of the electorate. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

02 июля, 01:30

Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back

Paul Robeson, Jr. (November 2, 1927 – April 26, 2014) was an American author, archivist and historian. Robeson was born in Brooklyn to entertainer and activist Paul Robeson and Eslanda Goode Robeson. As his family moved to Europe he grew up in England and Moscow, in the Soviet Union. In Moscow he attended an elite school. The Robesons returned to the United States in 1938 to live first in Harlem, New York, and after 1941 in Enfield, Connecticut. Robeson, Jr. graduated from Enfield High School and attended Cornell University where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1949. Robeson worked on the legacy of his father, published two books about him, and created an archive of his father's films, photographs, recordings, letters, and publications.[1] As an advocate for social and racial justice he shared the political views with his father indicating that "like him, I am a black radical".[1][2] He was married to Marilyn Greenberg in 1949; the couple had two children (David, who died in 1998, and Susan[3]) and one grandchild. Robeson died of lymphoma in Jersey City, New Jersey in 2014. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Robeson,_Jr. Democracy Now Guests: Alan Dershowitz and Norman G. Finkelstein – Finkelstein is a frequent guest. This was a much publicized debate about whether the Dershowitz book, The Case for Israel was plagiarized and inaccurate. Dershowitz has written that he agreed to appear on the show after being told he would debate Noam Chomsky, not Finkelstein.[24] Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve – by Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein, journalist and author of The Shock Doctrine, September 24, 2007.[25] In a follow-up interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele, based on their October 2007 article in Vanity Fair,[26] call Greenspan "flat wrong" regarding claims by Greenspan in that interview denying Federal Reserve responsibility in the transfer of billions of dollars from the Federal Reserve to Iraq, $9 billion of which the reporters claim has yet to be accounted.[27] Arundhati Roy – Recurring guest; Indian writer, anti-war activist, and leading figure in the alter-globalization movement [28] Bill Clinton – Interviewed after hours on election day of the U.S. presidential election, 2000, while president of the United States.[29] The heated interview on the Clinton Administration's neoliberal policies, bombing of Vieques, Iraq sanctions, Leonard Peltier, the death penalty, the Cuban embargo, racial profiling, Ralph Nader, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict resulted in the outgoing President calling Amy Goodman "hostile and combative." A staffer at the White House press office later criticized Goodman for straying from the topic of getting out the vote and for keeping Clinton on much longer than the two to three minutes agreed. Goodman replied "President Clinton is the most powerful person in the world. He can hang up when he wants to."[30] Bill Moyers – Interviewed; former Johnson Administration press secretary and former host of the PBS show NOW with Bill Moyers and former host of the PBS show Bill Moyers' Journal.[31] Cornel West – Scholar, currently a professor at Union Theological Seminary, formerly at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale; activist; author.[32] Danny Glover – Regular guest; American actor, film director, and political activist.[33] Dennis Kucinich, Democratic presidential candidate – Interviewed by Goodman and Gonzalez on November 9, 2007.[34] Edward Said – was a regular guest; Columbia University professor, literary critic and Palestinian activist and intellectual. Gore Vidal – U.S.-author, essayist, and political activist; interviewed sparsely on a few occasions. Howard Zinn – Interviewed by Amy Goodman; late historian and activist; author of several books, including A People's History of the United States. Jimmy Carter – Interviewed by on September 10, 2007; former U.S. President: author of Palestine Peace Not Apartheid.[49] John Pilger – Frequent guest; Australian journalist and film-maker.[50] Joseph Stiglitz – Recurring guest; Columbia University economics professor, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winner (2001), and author. Julian Assange. Manuel Zelaya – multiple interviews with the ousted president of Honduras. Matt Taibbi – Frequent guest; U.S.-born writer and investigative journalist for The Nation. Michael Eric Dyson – Regular guest; Georgetown professor, writer & radio host. Michael Moore – Filmmaker, author, political commentator; interviewed on March 10, 2011[59] & on September 28, 2011 Naomi Klein – Author, public intellectual, and critic of globalization and corporate capitalism. Interviewed on March 9, 2011.[62] Noam Chomsky – A regularly interviewed guest; MIT linguistics professor, political analyst, and author. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Now!

24 июня, 02:59

So, Corey Lewandowski’s a TV Pundit Now. Don’t Act So Shocked.

The commentariat had a critical fit today following my colleague Hadas Gold’s report that Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s freshly fired campaign manager, had signed a political commentator contract at CNN. Widely reviled by reporters on the campaign trail for his bullying style, the volatile Lewandowski earned their enmity in 2015 for—among other things—threatening to have CNN reporter Noah Gray “blacklisted“ from covering the campaign if he didn’t stay in the reporter “pen” during Trump rallies. Lewandowski made additional bad news in March when he got physical in a yanky, bruising tussle with Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, which resulted in his arrest on assault charges (charges were eventually dropped). So when Trump sacked the sour Lewandowski earlier this week, you could almost hear the press corps cheer. But now, the big-mouthed political brat is crossing over to become a big-mouthed pundit? He’s now one of us?! The negative reaction was swift, with the media berating CNN for hiring Campaign 2016’s leading villain. “CNN Rewards Trump’s Ex-Campaign Manager for Lying to, Bullying Reporters by Hiring Him,” gasped the Slate headline this afternoon. “Lewandowski’s new gig brings him all too close to one of his least favorite kinds of people: Journalists,” cried the New York Daily News. Lewandowski may well turn out to be a wretched broadcaster, but you can’t argue that he should be denied a tryout just because he appears to hate journalists and journalism with every fiber of his being. Go ahead and accuse me of false equivalence, but broadcast journalism already teems with fixers like Lewandowski. Everywhere you look on TV there are former officeholders, strategists, public relations experts and political operatives holding down jobs as commentators. It’s hard to argue that the addition of one of Trump’s henchmen does any lasting harm. Let us count the most conspicuous migrants from politics to TV punditry—George Stephanopoulos, Bill Moyers, Tim Russert, Pat Buchanan, Paul Begala, Bill Bradley, Van Jones, William Safire, James Carville, Peggy Noonan, Mary Matalin, David Gergen, Chris Matthews, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Sarah Palin, Jennifer Granholm, David Axelrod, Donna Brazile, Mike Huckabee, Eliot Spitzer and Tony Blankley. Is Lewandowski any less scrupulous than Dick Morris? More obnoxious than Carville? More self-promoting than Joe Scarborough? To place the Lewandowski job in perspective, let’s remember that former Vice President Al Gore once owned a major interest in a minor TV new channel. The revolving door between TV punditry and politics has become so well-established by this point that it was inevitable that somebody from the Trump orbit would be drafted as a talking head. The channels recruit politicians to provide commentary because they’re generally experienced at compressing their point of view into television-size news bites. Outside of Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany, CNN has few surrogates who can express the Trumpian line in its broadcasts the way people like Brazile and David Axelrod can express Hillary Clinton’s.Like it or not, the political show merged with the media show a long time ago: In the early 1950s, New York Times reporter/columnist James Reston helped a senator write a big speech that then he—Reston—praised in a news account. Let’s be generous with Corey. If after a couple of weeks he turns out to be awful, we can call for his hanging then. ******Hang him now or hang him when we get home? That’s a Daffy Duck question. Send suggestions via a email to [email protected] My email alerts don’t go on TV. My Twitter feed avoids politics. My RSS feed has never roughed up a reporter.

13 июня, 14:41

Which White Voters?

What "soccer moms" were to the presidential campaign of 1996, "white working-class" voters are to the 2016 campaign. Donald Trump's appeal to these voters, so the story-line goes, enabled him to hijack the Republican Party's nomination. These same voters helped fuel Bernie Sanders' unlikely run for the Democratic nomination. Never mind the ideological paradoxes. The hunt for the white working-class has raised anew two related questions: can Democrats win back those white voters, or can they win elections without them. The Two Nates (Cohn and Silver) have been engaged in a statistical duel over this recently. Cohn has crunched numbers suggesting that Trump has a path to victory because white voters were under-counted in 2012, while Silver believes Trump has not increased his share of those voters enough to overcome his other (many) deficits. Both versions of this question start with the same premise: since the 1960s, the Democratic Party has turned its back on the white working class and their economic interests as it chases Wall Street bankers or Hollywood moguls or Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Ronald Reagan summarized this perception of the party's history in 1962 when he became a Republican, announcing, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the party left me." Reagan positioned himself as emblematic of a generation. The New Deal Democrat became a Goldwater Republican because the Democrats no longer cared about the white working-class, and 18 years later Reagan would win the White House on the strength of white voters who had become disenchanted with the Democratic Party. That's why we called them "Reagan Democrats." Of course, it takes two to get divorced, and so rather than blaming the split entirely on the Democratic Party's economic betrayal, let's examine more deeply what caused those white working-class voters to walk away from the marriage. The image is iconic. July 2, 1964 in the Oval Office, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, and Martin Luther King, Jr. is standing directly behind him. A triumphant moment for the president and the nation. But, as Bill Moyers would later recall, LBJ also quipped, "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come." Years before the GOP had its "Southern Strategy," Johnson knew that a commitment to African American civil rights would drive away white Southern voters. And plenty in the North too. He'd seen it happen before. In 1948 the Democrats included a civil rights plank in the party's platform, and enraged Southerners walked out and formed their own party. The Dixiecrats nominated Strom Thurmond to run for president and he won four Southern states that year, largely because of voters from the white working-class. Across the 1960s a series of Supreme Court decisions reinforced the wall of separation between church and state and the Democratic Party grew to be the defender of secular pluralism. In response, tens of thousands of Christian fundamentalists, who had never had much interest in electoral politics, mobilized for the Republican Party, which increasingly adapted its message to the fundamentalists. Those fundamentalists were white too. In the 1970s, fundamentalists and numbers of Catholics found a common enemy in feminism and in particular reproductive freedom. Like civil rights, at least part of the feminist agenda was adopted by the Democratic Party, driving away some number of Catholic voters who decided that birth control and abortion would be their single issue. Fast forward to 2010 and the Oval Office again. On March 22 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. Nancy Pelosi -- the person who really delivered the bill, dragging reluctant Congressmen by their ears to vote for it -- stood directly behind him. The most powerful woman in American political history and the first African American president. Think of the optics of that moment for certain white voters. And indeed, white voters punished the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections six months later. Whatever complaints one might have about the economic policies favored by Democrats over the last 50 years, no one outside the American Enterprise Institute and Paul Ryan's office seriously believes that Republican economics have been better for the white working-class. Therefore, the fact that they vote disproportionately for Republicans suggests that they are making their choice for reasons beyond their wallets. So let me reframe the question with which I began. If the Democratic Party wants to take back white working-class voters from the GOP, which of its commitments should it give up to lure them? Steven Conn is the W. E. Smith Professor of History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

29 мая, 14:40

LBJ’s Ad Men: Here’s How Clinton Can Beat Trump

We talked to two of the geniuses behind the greatest ad campaign in political history. Here’s what they’d do in 2016.

17 марта 2015, 17:30

Американский олигарх против мира в Палестине.

Шелдон Адельсон (Sheldon Adelson) – богатый спонсор Израиля и Биньямина Нетаньяху.О последнем выступлении израильского премьер-министра Биньямина Нетаньяху в Конгрессе США мы должны знать только одно – присутствие на галерее посетителей одного мужчины - Шелдона Адельсона.Он - магнат азартных игр и крёстный отец правых республиканцев. Кандидаты в президенты от обеих партий выстраиваются в очередь, чтобы поцеловать его руку. Кланяясь и расшаркиваясь, они вымаливают его благословение в виде подписанных им чеков. Беспартийный Центр за ответственную политику (Center for Responsive Politics) и Центр за общественную интеграцию (Center for Public Integrity) утверждают, что во время выборов 2012 года Адельсон и его жена Мириам (чей кошелёк прославился недавно, свалившись с галереи на голову демократического конгрессмена) заплатили 150 млн. долларов республиканцам и их сторонникам, в том числе 93 млн. долларов лояльному к плутократам super PAC Карла Роува (Karl Rove) American Crossroads, Congressional Leadership Fund, Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (super PAC поддержки Ньюта Гингрича (Newt Gingrich)) и Restore Our Future (super PAC поддержки Митта Ромни (Mitt Romney)).И всё же, мы не знаем обо всех «тёмных деньгах», вложенных Адельсонами в политику, так как мы не имеем на это права. Как и дорогие квартиры в Нью-Йорке, купленные олигархами, которые прячутся за ширмами легальных организаций, тёмные деньги позволяют нашим политикам смыть отпечатки пальцев с подписанных чеков спонсоров-миллиардеров.Но Шелдон Адельсон не просто так сидел в галерее Палаты Представителей – он дёргал за ниточки, которыми управляет Соединёнными штатами. Шелдон Адельсон – богатый спонсор Израиля и своего идеологического партнёра Биньямина Нетаньяху. Хотя законы о финансовом реформировании предвыборных кампаний в Израиле строже, чем в США, Адельсон смог и их купить, что историк и журналист Гершом Горенберг (Gershom Gorenberg) назвал «однозначно пагубным» влиянием.Адельсон владеет ежедневными газетами Israel Hayom и Makor Roshon (религиозной право-сионистской направленности), а также новостным веб-сайтом NRG. Газета Israel Hayom раздаётся бесплатно для распространения его жёсткой точки зрения. На следующий день после переизбрания Обамы, на первой полосе этой газеты появился заголовок: «США проголосовали за социализм».Ещё важнее то, что он использует свои газеты для постоянной пропаганды Нетаньяху и его ультраправой Likud Party, под властью которой Израиль всё ближе и ближе приближается к теократии. Как считает экономист Моми Дахан (Momi Dahan) из Еврейского университета, «де-факто, само существование таких газет как Israel Hayom – однозначное нарушение закона, так как Адельсон предоставляет своему кандидату практически неограниченные информационные ресурсы».Шелдон поддерживает тесные отношения с Рупертом.На самом деле, приближаясь к израильским выборам 17 марта, Адельсон увеличил тираж Israel Hayom на 70%. Администрация газеты пишет, что увеличение коснулось, в основном, рекламы, но газета Ha’aretz считает по-другому: «Некоторые политики убеждены, что дополнительный тираж – один из пунктов бизнес плана, направленного на переизбрание Нетаньяху». И выступление Нетаньяху перед Конгрессом США накануне выборов – просто совпадение, не так ли? «Я искренне сожалею, что некоторые чувствуют, что моё присутствие здесь носит политической характер», - сказал Нетаньяху конгрессменам. – «Этого никогда не было в моих планах». Ну конечно.Гершом Горенберг считает, что премьер-министр «наслаждается выгодой наличия в его лагере ведущей газеты, которая изображает мир с точки зрения его правительства – мир, в котором Израиль окружён врагами (включая президента США); мир, в котором цель мирных переговоров – разрушение Израиля; мир, в котором левые израильтяне действуют в сотрудничестве с врагами, и даже те правые, которые выступают против Нетаньяху, готовят переворот, используя выборы».Таким образом, Нетаньяху пользуется плодами деятельности Адельсона - его мощной пропагандистской машиной в Израиле и его кампанией по сбору денег в США. В совокупности, эти машины позволяют Нетаньяху узурпировать американскую внешнюю политику, так как он управляет Конгрессом США, который сделали услужливым миллионы долларов Адельсона, придерживающегося правой точки зрения по Израилю и Ближнему Востоку.Итак, вот что мы имеем. Этот казиношный магнат – не только неофициальный вождь республиканской партии США («он и его золотые правила»), но и некоронованный король Израиля – Давид с печатным станком и чековой книжкой, вместо рогатки и камня. Всё это всплыло во время выступления Нетаньяху. США не могут определять своё будущее, так как американская политика на Ближнем Востоке и большинство в Конгрессе находятся под каблуком у другой страны.Подобно королю Мидасу, Шелдон Адельсон определяет вопросы войны и мира в самом нестабильном регионе мира. Именно этот человек, выступая в 2013 году в еврейском университете Иешуа в Нью-Йорке, осудил президента Обаму за дипломатические переговоры с Ираном, и предложил сбросить на иранцев атомную бомбу, превратив их землю в пустыню. «Поймите! Следующим должен быть Тегеран. То есть, мы говорим о бизнесе. Вы хотите быть уничтоженными? Идите вперёд, займите жёсткую позицию и продолжайте использовать своё ядерное оружие».О последнем выступлении израильского премьер-министра Биньямина Нетаньяху в Конгрессе США мы должны знать только одно – присутствие на галерее посетителей одного мужчины. Мы все – его заложники.Авторы - Билл Мойерс (Bill Moyers) и Майкл Уиншип (Michael Winship).Билл Мойерс – ведущий еженедельной общественной телевизионной передачи Moyers & Company. Мойерс получил 35 премий Эмми, 9 премий Пибоди, премию за достижения в течение жизни Национальной академии телевидения. Он является почётным доктором изящных искусств Американского института кино за 40 лет журналистской работы на радио.Майкл Уиншип – ведущий автор Moyers & Company и президент Гильдии сценаристов восточной Америки.Источник: How an American Billionaire Stands in the Way of Mideast Peace, Bill Moyers, Michael Winship, AlterNet, March 6, 2015.____________ ____________