Bill Moyers laid into Republicans in a blistering critique on Moyers & Company on Friday, particularly former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), whom he accused of using his platform as a CNN host to egg the party on in the ongoing government shutdown in spite of its harmful effects on the U.S.
“At least let’s name this for what it is — sabotage of the democratic process. Secession by another means.” Moyers said. “And let’s be clear about where such reckless ambition leads. As surely as night must follow day, the alternative to democracy is worse.”
Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans and their rich supporters, Moyer argued, have “sucked the last bit of soul from the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln,” turning them first delusional, then rabid, with the aid of conservative mouthpieces like Fox News and “multi-millionaire fabulist” Rush Limbaugh.
Moyers also blasted the GOP for taking their opposition to the Affordable Care Act — and related demands — to extremes that threaten to damage the U.S. as a whole.
“When the president refused to buckle to their extortion, they threw their tantrum,” Moyers said. “Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the Union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn the place down, sink the ship of state, and sow economic chaos to get their way. This says it all: they even shuttered the Statue of Liberty.”
Watch Moyers call the Republicans out, as aired on Moyers & Company on Friday, below.
Economist Robert Reich found himself slightly agreeing with former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in an interview with Bill Moyers, arguing that while he doesn’t support “equality of results,” the problem with the U.S. financial system is a lack of equality when it comes to opportunity.
“The question is not inequality, per se,” Reich told Moyers on Friday. “The question is, at what point do you tip over, do you get to a tipping point where the degree of inequality actually is threatening your economy, your society, your democracy? When do you reach a point where inequality is simply too much? Where most of your people feel like the game is rigged.”
Reich told Moyers that when the country’s tax laws are weighed in favor of the wealthy, that creates an educational system that steers families in lower socio-economic tiers to schools that lack comparative resources.
“A lot of middle class and poor people actually are paying, particularly through social security taxes, which nobody talks about,” Reich explained. “They all want to talk about income taxes. They’re paying a much larger share of their income.”
Reich, a former Secretary of Labor under Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, also explained what he described as an easy decision to team with director Jacob Kornbluth for the new feature Inequality For All, a long-form visual explanation of his theories on the surge in income disparity.
“There is something about film with which you can emotionally connect with people and open people’s minds and eyes and hearts,” Reich argued. “And on this issue of widening inequality there’s so much confusion, many people if they’re, you know, if they’re rightwing, they want to blame the poor, if they’re leftwing they want to blame the rich. There’s a lot of blame going around. But people are not looking at the actual structure of the economy as it’s evolving.”
Watch Reich’s discussion with Moyers, published on Friday, below.
Progressive sportswriter Dave Zirin made the case for the United States taking part in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia in an interview with Bill Moyers on Friday.
“I’m horrified by not just the laws, but some of the attendant violence that’s taking place in Russia against the LGBT community and even their allies and supporters,” Zirin told Moyers. “I’m not for a boycott, because I think first of all the athletes themselves are going to be primed to go over there and make a statement when they’re in Russia.”
Zirin, who writes for The Nation, argued that athletes who engage in civil activism during a sporting event has more impact than boycotting, and mentioned a conversation he had with U.S. sprinter John Carlos, who famously did the “Black Power salute” along with teammate Tommie Smith on the medal stand at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
“I said, should people go over there and protest or should they stay home?” Zirin recounted. “And he said, ‘Well, if I’d stayed home, no one would ever have heard what I had to say. And who would remember that I stayed home today? But people remember that I went and I said my piece.’ So I think you’ve got to give people the chance to say their piece.”
Zirin did concede the difficulty in being an activist in pro sports, since the desire for games to be devoid of politics resonates not only with fans, but with franchise owners.
“I think owners tend to be politically on the right wing of the spectrum,” Zirin explained. “And when they say — and when a lot of their friends in the sports media say — sports and politics shouldn’t mix, what they’re really saying is sports and a certain kind of politics shouldn’t mix. Because when it comes to the politics of things like militarism and corporatism, those politics are blaring at a typical game.”
Watch Moyers’ interview with Zirin, posted on Friday, below.
The death of Trayvon Martin has ignited a debate not just over our justice system, but on laws such as “stand your ground” that contributed to the tragic result. In this video conversation, gun industry analyst Tom Diaz explains to Bill Moyers how a lethal combination of self-defense laws and concealed carry laws — championed by the NRA and the gun industry — makes us more vulnerable to gun violence. He warns that the genie is out of the bottle and we should be gravely concerned about the unrelenting marketing of guns. Diaz’s latest book is The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It.
“What we have is fewer and fewer people buying more and more guns,” Diaz tells Bill. “I think most average Americans simply have no understanding of the mindset of the diminishing number of people who own firearms and who own them specifically to carry out on the street… that mindset is ‘danger lurks everywhere and you better have your gun to protect yourself.’”
Watch the video below:
Bill Moyers, in a preview of Friday’s show, released a clip of an interview with founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee Baldemar Velásquez.
Velásquez, a 1989 MacArthur fellow, talked about the ongoing David vs. Goliath struggle most farm workers face when the system is largely run by corporation. “I told the Campbell’s Soup executive, I’ve told the Heinz executives, I’ve told the Dean Foods executives, I told the Mount Olive executive CEO and I’m telling Reynolds America right now: You’re a good man, but the system you operate is wrong and is built on inequity.”
Watch the preview, posted on BillMoyers.com on July 18.
This week, Moyers & Company reports on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of — ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-…
Bill Moyers took on the regulatory failures that led to lead poisoning when he interviewed David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz about their new book, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children.
“As long as there are insufficient checks and balances on big business and its powerful lobbies, you and I are at their mercy. Which is why their ability to buy off public officials is an assault on democracy and a threat to our lives and health,” Moyers opened the segment.
Gerald Markowitz, a professor who teaches at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, pointed out that while lead poisoning prevention has come a long way, there are still problems.
“You know, in some ways the story of lead is a great success. We’ve reduced the amount of lead in children’s blood and we’ve gotten lead out of gasoline and we’ve gotten lead out of paint. But there are still children who have too much lead in their blood. And it is endangering their life chances, endangering their futures,” he said.
Co-author David Rosner, co-director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University, said the new problems with lead are more nefarious.
“It doesn’t kill anymore. It used to send kids into convulsions, into comas and into paroxysms and ultimately killed them up until the 1980s. But we’ve gotten lead levels down to the point where we’re now discovering new, even in some sense, more troubling problems,” he said.
“We really made a morally bankrupt calculation that it is less costly to endanger the health and futures of our children rather than to protect them by paying to remove lead from their homes,” Markowitz said.
Watch the full interview, posted on BillMoyers.com, below.
On his Friday show, Bill Moyers had Vincent Warren, the executive director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Vicki Divoll, who used to serve as a legal advisor to the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, to discuss torture, drone strikes, and President Obama.
Divoll also authored an op-ed for the New York Times last month, titled, “Who Says You Can Kill Americans, Mr. President?”
Vicki Divoll, who worked at the CIA until 2000, said that during her time at the intelligence organization, “harsh interrogation, detention, and certainly killing were not on the table. You would have been laughed out of a conference room if you brought up any tactics such as those, at that time.”
Warren said that he was deeply troubled by the secrecy of the Obama administration in regards to torture. “Clearly the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to and needs to keep some of this stuff classified. But we run into this problem where if you look historically, the only way that a country and certainly a country like the United States can torture is if they do it in secret, right? There was a connection between the secrecy and the torture.”
When Moyers asked if Obama was “fighting the war on terror within the rule of law,” Warren replied, “I do not. In fact, I know that he is not.”
Divoll was somewhat more lenient, saying, “I am concerned that he may not be. But I’m not going to go quite so far as to say that he is not following the rule of law. I think his lawyers have told him he is and he believes them.”
Warren asserted that “There’s no judicial oversight for how they determine who they’re going to kill and who they don’t want to kill.”
In regards to Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen killed overseas by the government, Divoll said that there is “plenty of evidence that lots of people are suspected of doing lots of things. And that doesn’t mean we shoot them from the sky.”
But both guests worried that the targeted killings would make the world less safe. “There are many commentators who believe, and some in government who are concerned that the reaction in these villages, in these tribal areas to the drone threat, which is constant over their heads is radicalizing some who might not have otherwise been radicalized. So I think there’s certainly a concern that we’re making the problem bigger,” Divoll said.
Warren noted that not only do we have drone strikes and extrajudicial killings, but that the executive branch refuses to explain the legal justification for doing so. “We are now in an era where even the government’s interpretation of the law becomes something akin to a state secret.That we have to go through legal hurdles to get the government to articulate the legal theory by which they have the justification for doing things. That’s a problem in a democracy,” he said.
Both agreed that one problem was what they called the “fourth branch of government” — the American public.
“The public narrative, I think, really is ‘The government must, we trust President Obama. The government must know what it’s doing. So when these people died, there was probably a good reason for it. And you actually don’t have to tell us what it is. We trust you.’ That’s where democracies die,” Warren argued. “That’s where we go wrong. You should never ever trust that the government is being completely and totally honest about the mistakes that it’s making.”
Watch the video, via billmoyers.com, below.
The latest episode of Moyers & Company featured an interesting discussion between Moyers and activist Angela Glover Blackwell.
Blackwell is a “national leader for social justice and equity” and is the author of Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future.
During the exchange, the two discussed the “Occupy” movement, social justice and equity. Blackwell particularly focused on the importance of basic infrastructure:
In low-income communities, transportation, particularly public transportation is a lifeline. We have lots of communities in which the availability of a car is actually unheard of. There are many communities in which most people in the community don’t have a car. Twenty-five percent of people in the African American/Latino community are without cars.
And with– this is at a time when so many of the jobs are not in their communities. They’re in the suburban community. And so if people don’t have public transportation, they cannot connect to work. You may have an employer who’s an equal opportunity employer, who would be happy to hire somebody ready for the job, from an inner-city community.
But if they can’t get there, the two will never meet. We also have, in this country, many families that are struggling to provide healthy diets, when there’s no place in the community to buy fresh fruits, and vegetables. Only eight percent of African Americans live in a census tract, with a grocery store.
Watch the full interview below, originally uploaded by Moyers & Company on April 13, 2012: