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Bill Moyers: ‘We’re Almost Out of Time’
Posted on May 18, 2011
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.
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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 NoMoreVictims.org.
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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