Sunday, November 07, 2010

Bill Moyers: Passionate but delusional

BIll Moyers presents the narrative:

Early this year the five reactionary members of the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are "persons" with the right to speak during elections by funding ads like those now flooding the airwaves [re: Citizen's United]. It was the work of legal fabulists. Corporations are not people; they are legal fictions, creatures of the state, born not of the womb, not of flesh and blood. They're not permitted to vote. They don't bear arms (except for the nuclear bombs they can now drop on a congressional race without anyone knowing where it came from.) Yet thanks to five activist conservative judges they have the privilege of "personhood" to "speak" - and not in their own voice, mind you, but as ventriloquists, through hired puppets.

Does anyone really think that's what the authors of the First Amendment had in mind? Horrified by such a profound perversion, the editor of the spunky Texas Observer, Bob Moser, got it right with his headline: "So long, Democracy, it's been good to know you."

You'll recall that soon after the Court's decision President Obama raised the matter during his State of the Union speech in January. He said the decision would unleash a torrent of corrupting corporate money into our political system. Sitting a few feet in front of the president, Associate Justice Samuel Alito defiantly mouthed the words: "Not true."

Not true? Terry Forcht knew otherwise. He's the wealthy nursing home executive in Kentucky one of whose establishments is being prosecuted by Attorney General Jack Conway for allegedly covering up sexual abuse. Conway is running for the Senate. Forcht has spent more than $1 million to defeat him. Would you believe that Forcht is the banker for one of Karl Rove's two slush funds, American Crossroads, which has spent nearly $30 million to defeat Democrats.

What's that, Justice Alito? Not true?

Alan Grayson, for one, got it. He's a member of Congress and knows how the world is made to work. He recently said: "We're now in a situation where a lobbyist can walk into my office...and say, "I've got five million dollars to spend and I can spend it for you or against you. Which do you prefer?"

Alito was either disingenuous, naïve, or deluded. He can't be in this world without knowing he and his four fellow corporatists were giving big donors the one thing they most want in their campaign against working people: an unfair advantage.

My friend and colleague, the writer Michael Winship, told a story this week that illuminates the Court's coup de grace against democracy. It seems the incorrigible George Bernard Shaw once propositioned a fellow dinner guest, asking if she would go to bed with him for a million pounds (today around $1,580,178 US dollars). She agreed. Shaw then asked if she would do the same for ten shillings. "What do you take me for?" she asked angrily. "A prostitute?" Shaw responded: "We've established the principle, Madam. Now we're just haggling over the price."

I love Moyers' passion; he goes on to imply that the wealthy corporations in the US should voluntarily rescind their political hegemony that has been granted to them by our legislators and our Supreme Court.

Moyers: "You would think the rich might care, if not from empathy, then from reading history."

This is where he lost me. Firstly, "the rich" are not homogeneous. Some agree with more progressive tax structure, some don't. Are we really to depend on the rich to vote against their own interests? That's the failsafe in the system?

Secondly, and more importantly, it is not up to rich to vote against their interests, it's up to the poor and middle class to vote for their own interests. I guess my problem with Moyers is that he always blames "the rich" but never holds the middle class accountable for not participating in the democracy and falling for the bullshit. Voter turnout among working folks was lower than ever this time around. The teapartiers are by and large working class people who want individuals making $500K to get a tax cut. WTF? Is it really the fault of the guy making $500K? Of course he/she feels they are worth $500K-- that's human nature, everybody thinks they deserve their salary and want to pay the lowest taxes possible.

If the meek are going to inherit the earth, they are going to have to kick ass for it.

Maybe the average Joe can't connect the dots from GWB to the SCOTUS decision in Citizen's United to elections that are bought ala Karl Rove/ Dick Armey politics. But we can't expect the rich corporations to voluntarily give up control. They won't. Maybe this is what is meant by the electorate being not intelligent enough to figure it out? It's not intelligence, it's hardship. We aren't suffering enough to look into the prima fascia reasons for our suffering. We obviously need more pain. The teaparty movement is a sign of unrest-- it's misguided and ass-backward, but it's a sign of unrest. The losers so far have been establishment Republicans, the next set of losers will be establishment Democrats. We'll see how far the establishment will drop. This can be have beneficial outcome, and maybe something workable will rise out of the ashes.

I like Moyers, I just think he's delusional that the rich will voluntarily change the rules. He needs to be lecturing the average Joes who are voting for Bush, McConnell, Joe Barton, and the others who repeatedly take the side of their corporate overlords in deference to the middle and working classes. At some point the left wing in this country will choose to be a little more a little more Che Guevara and a little less like Bill Moyers.

We just need more pain to get there.


Anonymous said...

I believe history shows that the more pain people feel, the more fear they have of pain, the more conservative they get. They don't rise up to throw off the pain. They huddle behind their doors hoping the pain won't come knocking. The political continuum has been described as a circle. The right and left meet on their extreme ends. The people are not going to realize what they have lost till it is gone.

Tony said...

Recency bias. Looking at the most recent, relatively mild, recessions we get the feeling that workers "don't rise up". Looking back to the US Gilded Age (1870's to 1890's), or other nations, we see that when the pain is bad enough, the workers will rise up.

You say, "The people are not going to realize what they have lost till it is gone.

Agree. We have more pain to endure, but as long as we still have our flat panel TV's showing Jersey Shore, it's doubtful any nascent Lenin or Rousseau will coax Americans off the sofa long enough to pursue change.

In the meantime, Goldman Sachs will drain our Treasury. This was one of the great successes for which FDR gets no credit. He saved capitalism by keeping the electorate in the game long enough to effect substantive changes, reforms and safety nets.

We'll see if Obama can pull out of this nose-dive.