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Bill Moyers: ‘We’re Almost Out of Time’

Posted on May 18, 2011
Photo illustration from an image by Colin Grey

(Page 3)

Peter Scheer: That’s terrible.

Cole Miller: And they’re running, you know, and … they’re fundraising … et cetera, et cetera, which I don’t begrudge; I think that that’s fine. But look what happens if that’s the story, and that’s the story that CNN and the mainstream wants to tell. It’s a story about why we have to stay there. To protect these poor Iraqi children from these monsters, right?

Peter Scheer: Right.

Cole Miller: When, if you just telescope out a little bit and look at it, we’re the monsters. Why did those guys hurt that kid Youssef? Because we initiated a war of aggression. We created the circumstances … within which that sectarian strife took off. You know. And so you’re never going to get an explanation about that. I mean, every—Youssef as well—we’re responsible for them. That’s the amazing thing. We’re responsible for all the harms that are being suffered by these kids, because we initiated the war that created the circumstances that created the injury.


Square, Site wide

Josh Scheer: You have a YouTube channel where you can see a lot of these videos.

Cole Miller: Yeah, we have a YouTube channel. I just started it about last year, and haven’t pushed it at all. Bu t…

Josh Scheer: Push it here, push it here.

Cole Miller: … you type in NoMoreVictims—with no spaces or anything—and it will pull up that station.

Josh Scheer: OK. Great. And it’s—it’s pretty, I mean, heart-wrenching stuff.

Cole Miller: Yeah, and we’re … going to be posting more of it; you know, there’s a lot; we have a backlog of stuff that we’re getting together, and we’re going to put it out there.

Josh Scheer: OK, great. Thank you.

Peter Scheer: Thanks for being with us.

Cole Miller: Thank you.

Peter Scheer: Cole Miller is the founding director of No More Victims, a grass-roots organization that connects American communities with war-injured Iraqi children and their families. Find out more at

* * *

Peter Scheer: This is Truthdig Radio. I’m Peter Scheer with Robert Scheer, and we are speaking with the legendary Bill Moyers, whose newest book is “Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues.” Thanks so much for making the time.

Bill Moyers: I’m glad to be with you.

Robert Scheer: You know, let me begin—this is Robert—ah, with a sort of longer-run question. I know things are pretty bad now in terms of deception, and so forth, but hasn’t it ever been so? And particularly in the area of foreign policy, I was thinking of the warning of George Washington and his farewell address, where he said “beware of the impostures of pretended patriotism.” And coming down through the years, we generally have been lied to about foreign policy, national security matters. Is it really much worse?

Bill Moyers: I don’t think so, except it’s just—there’s just more of it. We have, now, not only the government lying, but we have 24-hour media; you’ve got Fox News, you’ve got Rush Limbaugh, all dealing in misinformation—disinformation. And there’s just an incredible fog—a smog, you might say—surrounding us now.

Robert Scheer: Yeah, but you know, we on the Internet—and this is what Truthdig is all about—we’ve had about 60 million people come to our site, and we’re by no means one of the larger ones. But we think there’s a redeeming quality to this new, new form, that people can weigh in—professors, experts, whistleblowers. Do you see a positive side to it?

Bill Moyers: Oh, yes. I think it’s our last, our last hope, actually, is a free Internet with democratic, small “d” democratic access. I think that our administration—the Johnson administration, in which I served for the first 2 ½  years—would not have gotten away with a one-sided explanation of Vietnam if we’d had the Internet at that time. There were, as you know, brave reporters out in Vietnam trying to get back to the public with news, but they had to work through their organizations; it took a while; and too many of their bosses in Washington were comfortable with the administration’s propaganda line. So yes, I think the Internet is the best hope we have, if we can keep it. And of course, as you know, as we speak, the Internet … net neutrality is under siege from powerful corporate forces.

Robert Scheer: You know, let me ask you about those corporate forces. One of the great promises of the Johnson administration was the War on Poverty, and the hopes of redressing some of the class imbalances in this society. They’ve gotten much more intense. And we now have a situation where, according to [Joseph] Stiglitz, the top one percent of the wealthy control 40 percent of the wealth in this country. What do you think Lyndon Johnson would make of this current situation?

Bill Moyers: Well, of course, that’s impossible to say. But at heart he was a populist. When he started out as the son of a man who’d been laid low by the Great Depression of ’29, Lyndon Johnson—and populism had been held hostage by corporate power, and railroads [affecting] the farmers, as we know, at that period—he, his heart was populist. He was elected in a field of 11 candidates for Congress by saying, I’m the only one of the 11 who will be 100 percent for Franklin Roosevelt. So he was a New Dealer, a populist at heart. Of course, as he rose in power, representative of the Senate—which … of a state that’s very conservative, as opposed to his populist district in central Texas—he became friendlier with the interests of oil, the interests of construction, the predecessor to Halliburton, Brown & Root. But at heart remained with … you know, with the folks he had taught when he was a schoolteacher for one year in a town, at a high school of Mexican students in Cotulla, Texas. I think he’d be astonished and saddened by the fact that the difference today between the top and the bottom in America is greater—in income and wealth—is greater than it’s been since the Depression. I think he’d be—I think he’d be indignant about that.

Peter Scheer: Do you see a parallel there with Barack Obama, who started also as a populist working in communities with working people, who now seems to be more interested in corporate power, influence?

Bill Moyers: Well, I’ve seen this with most Democrats since Johnson’s time, who have bought into the system as it is…and I think that’s Barack Obama’s greatest problem, is that he’s bought into America as it is, and therefore he can’t lead us out of the crisis the way most people thought he could. Yes, he’s a good servant of corporate interest, despite some of his rhetoric. He accepts the system now as it is. He’ll take secret money next year if he has to; he refused to participate in public funding for the election in ’08. And he understands where the deck is stacked, and where the money comes from. No question about it.

Robert Scheer: So where did we liberals go wrong? You know, it’s sort of an irony. You mentioned conservative Texas, but you know, I kind of like the fact that Ron Paul from Texas is at least … [Laughter] raising some questions, you know. And what happened to the sort of liberal outrage, and liberal populism …?

Bill Moyers: I think we thought that we could negotiate, and civilize the corporate power. … We thought that they would respond responsibly to the pleas for equality, justice, or at least fairness. We thought we could … you know, and then Johnson’s great quote from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible: “Come now, and let us reason together.” And I think liberals thought that you could regulate these predatory powers so that they would foam less at the mouth, consume less at the meal, and sleep a little easier at night. But they’re restless; you know, money is restless for more. And we have discovered, too late, that they refuse to be reasoned with.

Robert Scheer: Not just reasoned with, but they don’t seem to have any sense of being accountable to future generations. At least with the old moneyed elite, the Rockefellers and so forth, there was some sense of leaving something, of worrying about how you’d be perceived 50 or 100 years up the road. This new crowd just seems to be, you know, get in and get out, and grab what you can.

Bill Moyers: It’s more “now,” and therefore there is no governance; there is no balance wheel. I’ve been doing deep research, forensic research, into the period between 1860 and 1912, the period that followed the Civil War, saw the populist movement in an effort to tame the growing powers of great wealth—the railroads, the trusts, the monopolies. And we’re seeing the same thing now that we saw then, only more so. There was a period of time when the populace and the progressives—William Jennings Bryan…people like that, frontier champions of the people—thought that they could regulate these powerful economic interests, and discovered that they couldn’t. Liberals came along after the New Deal, thought we could regulate capitalism, and it turned out capitalism was regulating … capitalism captured the regulatory state. I think we have to go back to what Jim Hightower, the great populist from Texas, present populist from Texas, says about the populists: that they didn’t want to criticize the government, they wanted to own the government. And I think that’s exactly what’s—I mean, democracy is in trouble. We’re almost out of time. It’s always a series of narrow escapes, representative government, and we just—we may be running out of luck right now.


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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, May 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

Eaglemount, May 21 at 9:11 am,

Thanks for that link to sign for a Constitutional amendment to pay for
elections and get rid of Corporate Mammon in the election process,
that I signed.

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By Eaglemount, May 21, 2011 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s all well and good to comment about an issue that needs the attention of citizens.  It’s even more important to ACTUALLY DO something significant that will allow necessary changes to be made to improve our country.

Here is a link that will interest many of you.

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By bogi666, May 21, 2011 at 6:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

doublestandard, it’s mindlessness that USAn’s have been instilled with. The inability, not knowing, stupidity[a chosen state]and/or too lazy to discern and realize thoughts from facts. Mindlessness is institutionalized,recited by the MSM. It originates from government, business and pretend christians which gives it legitimacy.Manufacturing Consent, Noam Chomsky, by instilling mindlessness of the USAn’s has been in affect for 90 years, when it was 1st articulated by Walter Lippmann as a means to manipulate the population to be controlled and ruled by an elitist group.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, May 20, 2011 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment

A dismantling is what needs to be done of the corporate construct
that has been taken awry through unregulated Conservative and
Right-Wing Republican greed and it can only
be done by the 70% majority common population as a class and
culture who are not currently being represented in the making and
enforcing of legislated law and order in the United States at all.  It is
time for the majority common population as a class and culture stand
up and be recognized as the class and culture they are, 70% of the
population, the majority population of the United States, the
American Populace Class and Culture.

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By Daniel, May 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am 27 right now and agree with most of what you said.
I think part of it is, with me and everyone younger
than me, ever since we’ve been politically aware, GWB
was president.  So it was hard to see the flaws in the
system, because everything terrible that happened it
was easy to say “Oh it’s Bush’s fault, and he’s
ridiculous.” But now that Obama is president I think
it’s easier to see the systemic nature of corporate
control.  Hopefully people will start to wake up.  But
I share your worry also.

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By mary m morgan, May 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have listened to May 18th Truth Dig Radio
Am appalled to hear another “Great American Hero” a la Mortenson “saving” what’s left of Iraqi children’s bodies, one at a time, and suggesting that this saviorhood be taken up by other Americans rich enough to fund it.
  How is it possible for Americans to pay for and execute the killing, slaughter and maiming of thousands of children in other lands and then get the opportunity to “feel good” by donating a few bucks to some one-child-at-a time medical miracle?
  I’m very disappointed in TruTh Dig!! I wish all of you, especially Bob would read Madeleine Bunting’s Guardian piece “Exposed Literary Fraud Reveals Lengths Americans Take to Deceive Themselves to Justify War and Intervention”. Band aids will not cure the wounds caused by robot aggression.  We don’t deserve to “feel good” by writing a token check.  “I weep for my country” and also Truth Dig.  Mary M. Morgan

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By ElkoJohn, May 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm Link to this comment

I have to agree with RS.
The Federal government is owned and operated by the big corporations.
As such, it is becoming more and more an enemy of the people.
So if we dismantle this behemoth in favor of states rights, perhaps
we and the rest of the world would be better off without the empire of
perpetual war and profits at any cost.

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By John Steinsvold, May 20, 2011 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

An Alternative to Capitalism (which we need here in the USA and pretty quick according to Bill)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
—Georg C. Lichtenberg

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Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, May 19, 2011 at 11:32 pm Link to this comment

I mean Jesus, I look at the same long LONG career of self-canonizing that you do, knit eyebrows and Joseph Campbell and all, and ask myself why the man has never, ever, owned up to his part in LBJ’s dirty tricks department.  It always comes out in dribs and drabs from outside, a Morley Safer interview or an FOIA request, never from Moyers himself.  G. Gordon Liddy owned his history with Nixon and didn’t try to set himself up as a saint.  With Moyers the hypocrisy is rank.

The truth is that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been more forthcoming about his indiscretions in a single week than Moyers has been over his whole career.  At the very least, he owes PBS subscribers a one-hour special entitled “Bad Stuff I Did.”

He’d bring the house down.

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By Gail, May 19, 2011 at 11:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for having Nomi Prins discuss the IMF and Bill Moyers talk about democracy.

Of most concern are the neoliberal free trade agreements that are destroying democracy and contain much more than trade that allows big business and mega-banks to dictate numerous areas of policies to leaders around the world that destroys democracies.

Please consider having Public Citizen’s Global Trade Director Lori Wallach on your radio show. There are three free trade agreements coming before Congress very soon: South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Additionally, the Trans Pacific Partnership is also a free trade agreement coming up in November 2011.

These free trade agreements are part of the financial/economic meltdown that gets little media coverage.  Additionally, these free trade agreements are part of destroying the wealth of nations and their democracies.

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Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, May 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Virginia but I’ll keep things heavy for now if it’s all the same to you…

How about this for a compromise:  Everyone get a look at Moyer’s cabinet memo to LBJ (recently made public under FOIA request) outlining Moyers’ plans to investigate and root out suspected administration homosexuals, as well as prominent homosexuals in public life, Hollywood et al.  Let the man speak for himself.  Deal?

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm Link to this comment

Even after all these years of fine work some people just won’t let someone’s past go.

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Virginia777's avatar

By Virginia777, May 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

Egomet Bonmot:

oh for gosh sakes troll, lighten up on Bill Moyers.

Grow up.

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Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, May 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

Moyers did his part for democracy as hatchet man for LBJ, bugging Martin Luther King’s hotel room to glean private dirt on the man and working to get journalists like Morley Safer kicked out the States for unfavorable coverage.  The man is despicable.

Google Slate’s “The Intolerable Smugness of Bill Moyers” or any of a hundred other articles for the facts.

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By Cliff Carson, May 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment

I can’t get out of my mind the statement “We have brought back ten”  and that is in nine years!

The depravity we Americans allowed our government to do to the people of the the Middle East is almost impossible to measure.

And no mention of the DU was made in the Article.  That Radioactive poison scattered there by our Military has tripled the amount of “monster” births in Iraq and will continue to do so for the next several million years assuming that our civilization lasts that long.

It will take an omnipotent God to forgive us for our cruelty.  I can’t bring myself to forgive the horror we have visited on innocent people.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, May 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I found it interesting that everyone involved in the conversation with Moyers glossed over the most important point he raised - that is, that facts no longer have any bearing on what people in this country believe or on what political opinions they hold, according to a study he cited.  We are living in what has been called the “post factual age.”  We believe that we are entitled to our own facts as well as opinions.  We reject facts that do not support our beliefs.  In other words, political pundits like those here at TD are only and always “preaching to the choir.”  The idea that if you could reach more people you could change their minds is quite out of line with the conclusions of this study.  Another recent study showed that not all people who get their news from Fox are undereducated, incurious, or stupid.  There is a large segment of educated, socially involved people who tune into Fox to have their “facts” verified.  To blame Fox News for “disinformation” is putting the cart before the horse.

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By Artful Dodger, May 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: D R Zing

Yes. Bill Moyers is a great man. But he worked for a miserable son-of-a-bitch. Perhaps that is why Mr. Moyers left politics and dedicated his life and career to journalism at its best. He certainly saw firsthand what an evil person can do when he manipulates journalism at its worst.

I remember how Mort Sahl did lampoons of St. Bill and LBJ. I can’t help wondering what St. Bill’s role was in the Kennedy murder. To quote:

In fact, prior to the appointing of the Special Commission, Deputy Attorney General D. Katzenbach wrote in a memo to President Lyndon B. Johnson Aide Bill Moyers on November 25, 1963: “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was assassin; that he did not have confederates…” [2]

I know St. Bill and Valenti had been complicit in quashing a very impugning documentary about the JFK assassination on the Discovery channel. There were some bits of the expose that implicated LBJ’s involvement. Whenever I see the pious looking face of St. Bill on TV I get a sour belch. This St. Bill couldn’t understand the anti-war movement of the time. Finally, he cut his losses late in the game by resigning as LBJ’s press secretary in 1967. Whenever I see him lecture on the evils of our tyrannical government, I feel like I am being preached to by the town drunk, who just got religion after being caught for statutory rape. He is a really creepy man if you think about it hard enough. I will keep pointing out the evil in this man for as long as Truthdig makes reference to him as some sort of liberal saint. Recall that the Catholic Church had elevated many inquisitors and torturers to beatification and sainthood. Color me a hagiophobe.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 19, 2011 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

We have seen that the predatory nature of business run by those and attractive to those who have no compassion or interest in their posterity. Just remember Daffy Duck and the magic lamp—-“Its mine, mine, mine!!!”

As had been chronicled by others, since the the 1980’s, maybe 1970’s have found that corporate culture has been aligned to the psychopathic personality. If you aren’t one you can be lured to act like one as they continually advertise that the only way to get rich and have the “American Dream” is to be as ruthless as can be. Ayn Rand certainly championed it. She considered such people to be her supermen. Plunderers of modern society, where might makes right and wealth is for the rich. A dangerous and destructive ethos if there ever was one ever advertised as the best of all possible worlds. Totally antithetical to our ethos of “Out of Many One.”
Remember when you hear the term “state’s rights” it is a code for the Neo-Confederates in our midst. They are strong and are part of the Dominionist movement to gut our present country and rebuild it in their own twisted image.

Bill Moyers understands just how bad our position is today. How close we are to losing even the damaged gov’t we do have.

For me it is difficult to end on a positive note. Suffice it to say we haven’t lost yet. But the time is running out and once they collapse the economy it will be way too late since they will be out in the open and they will be the only ones with the organization and the support of the gov’t run by their own people. Then all bets, and the Bill of Rights, are off for us. Most will give up their freedom for a near normal life. (All the tropes will be back in place, but there will be no protections for us, our lives, our freedom will be conditional and we may not know where the leash ends.) The rest will be hunted down or allowed to starve or will be enslaved. That’s the way I see it. Just don’t know when the hammer will drop.

I thank TruthDig for all it does. Just wish I had some extra money for them.

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By MeHere, May 19, 2011 at 8:26 am Link to this comment


Excellent observations.  Most of the younger crowd seems to accept the present
working and lifestyle conditions as being normal—the idea being that, if this is
life in the US, it must be right.

I would only add that creating one’s own business doesn’t change the situation.
It just involves a different set of concerns and uncertainties which also make
people work themselves into extreme fatigue.

As a result of this malaise, not even retirees can relax—certainly not the
average retiree. As if dealing with old age and the health issues that develop
were not enough, they cannot trust the institutions that hold their savings or
the corporate health care system.  And they are faced with the onslaught of a
fast-changing technology that often makes them feel helpless.

Yes, it is a disturbing situation.  At this point, probably only nature can change
our situation, when the acceleration and expansion becomes unsustainable.

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By yossarianblues, May 19, 2011 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The study regarding facts to which Moyers refers:

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By JJW, May 19, 2011 at 4:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After the exposure of NYTs’ Judith Miller one would think they’d at least try to clean house but, no they get even more in bed with criminal politicians and CEOs.

Thank goodness I terminated Comcast cable.

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By surfnow, May 19, 2011 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

DR Zing:
I agree. It’s tough to get passed Moyers’ butt kissing of LBJ. He hated JFK and I’ve never believed it was coincidental that Kennedy was taken out in Johnson’s backyard. However, Moyers is of course right about the current state of our democracy, and internet neutrality is one of the most vital issues today. I also agree about the lies behind our wars- the War with Mexico was a total war of imperialism; and the super-patriotism behind WWI was sickening.However, the danger today is from the changes brought about by Rumsfeld-Bush- a totally volunteer military run by corporations- this is something very new , very unique and completely anti-democratic and dangerous.

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm Link to this comment

Always love to hear Moyers; a giant among us.

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, May 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment

This is a great interview.  I thank TruthDig for posting it. Bill Moyers is indeed a legend, and the way he ended the interview by pointing out the importance of individual journalists—and the importance of TruthDig itself—showed his brilliance, his poise, his integrity, his style.  God, I love him. 

But let’s be clear here about something else too. Lyndon Baines Johnson was a sorry son-of-a-bitch.  He stole his Senate seat from an honorable man named Coke Stevenson. LBJ was the original rat fucker, the original dirty dick, the master of dirty tricks, a vile despicable human being who manipulated his way into the Kennedy administration even though he was in no way qualified by intellect, disposition or even national popularity to be in such a position.

There are no words in this comment that LBJ did not use on a regular basis. 

Look at your dog. That Labrador Retriever knows just about as much as LBJ did about Vietnam when the bastard took office. Tens of thousands of Americans and perhaps one million Vietnamese lost their lives because LBJ was too goddamn stupid to realize McNamara was an idiot. Defecate in a jar and call it an LBJ memorial.

He turned his back on Martin Luther King when King needed him most. 

He was as diabolical as Karl Rove when campaigning and as stupid as George W. Bush when it came to foreign policy.

He showed Republicans and Democrats how to play dirty in the modern era. 

He only supported civil rights because he manipulated it into a way of furthering his political career.

He may have had seeds of a decent human being in him, but those seeds rotted in a vile pot of politics and ruthless ambition.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the man who spent his life studying LBJ, Robert A. Caro. His books on LBJ are:

Path to Power
Means of Ascent
Master of the Senate, which won the Pulitzer for Biography by the way. 

And all of Mr. Caro’s fans are waiting patiently for his last and final book about the LBJ presidency. 

Yes. Bill Moyers is a great man. But he worked for a miserable son-of-a-bitch. Perhaps that is why Mr. Moyers left politics and dedicated his life and career to journalism at its best. He certainly saw firsthand what an evil person can do when he manipulates journalism at its worst.

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By Billee, May 18, 2011 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

What concerns me (as a middle aged person who grew up in a suburb and has
lived in NYC for twenty years and connects with a lot of 20 and 30-
somethings) is the alarming degree of obedience presented by these new
generations. They shut up and do internships that basically use them for slave
labor, most do not get passionate about politics (uncool), are easily duped and
seduced by corporate hype and seem to not register any deep authenticity that
would lead them to rebel against established authority. I find this very
disturbing. I think they have been born into this corporate culture, know
nothing of how this country was before, and know slavishly serve with a level of
cluelessness about their rights being violated that unnerves me. They accept
corporate bs as if it is normal. I see it time and time again. The new trend is to
work them until at least 9pm. They get very little in return in terms of salary or
benefits. They are just being drained. Life will get worse in the US as those who
knew what it was like before the 1980s die off. When you could go to work,
come home and spend time unwinding with your family or just by yourself. Now
it’s all about working yourself into absolute frightening fatigue,worrying you
will get sick (no health insurance) and trying to block all these worries by
magical thinking, i.e. magical thinking. I am glad I am not young now. this
country is so sociopathically corporate that trying to maintain a middle class
life here has become unsustainable. If you lose your job, that’s it. Unless you
are resouceful enough to create a business of your own. Not everyone is capable
of that. And yet, cost of living prices continue to soar. I am not optimistic

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By SteveL, May 18, 2011 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

Heard the broadcast.  Main slime media has always been bad. Egbert Roscoe
Murrow good, Walter Cronkite most trusted but the rest not so good.

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