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Bill Moyers talks with Thomas Frank: Web Exclusive

Thomas Frank's THE WRECKING CREW, examines corruption in Washington, puts the Abramoff scandal into context. Bill Moyers and Thomas Frank discuss the scandal and Frank’s new book in a Web-exclusive interview.

Your book describes conservatism as "an expression of American business." Why exclude Democrats? Jimmy Carter triggered the deregulation frenzy. Bill Clinton pushed for NAFTA, signed the Telecommunications Act of l996 which gave the megamedia companies everything they wanted, auctioned off the Lincoln Bedroom, and swooned over Robert Rubin while showing Robert Reich the door. Democratic Congresses were shaking down corporations when George W. Bush was still tipsy in Texas. And who was running Congress during the S&L swindles of the late 80s? Why single out conservatives as the greedy party?

Democrats can be conservatives too, of course. In fact, certain Democrats' embrace of the free-market faith has been just as consequential as the Republicans' own move to the right. When the Democrats gave up on FDR and came around to the ideology of Reagan, the opposition ceased to oppose.

But this was the subject of my 2000 book, ONE MARKET UNDER GOD, which discussed NAFTA and the Telecommunications Act at some length. THE WRECKING CREW is an effort to explain the particular species of corruption we see in Washington today.

Clinton's contributions here were not insignificant, but they were more passive than active. His celebration of outsourcing set up the government-for-profit of the Bush era. His war on federal wages ensured that government would remain an unattractive career option, especially when compared to what's offered by the contractors who are our de facto government today. His failure even to try to reverse certain initiatives of the Reagan years allowed them to harden into permanent fixtures of the Washington scene.

There are other forms of corruption that are particular to liberalism, and that occur more naturally among Democrats. But by and large, the particular mode of corruption I describe in this book is a Republican invention. True believers in the free-market way invented it and feel most comfortable in it. Most Democrats can be embarrassed by their relationship to lobbyists because publicly they pretend to be the "party of the people"; most Republicans are happy to say they believe in market-based government.

You go on to write that the political triumph of conservatism has coincided with the rise of the Washington area to the richest rank of American metropolises. But can't it be said that the ascendancy of liberalism turned government into the cornucopia of spending which became a vast feeding ground for predators of all stripes?

During its heyday, liberalism was often depicted in these terms-as a giveaway to special interests, handouts to organized whiners, pork-barrel projects like the TVA. There may have been some merit to those charges-they aren't my subject in this book so I don't know-but whatever they were, they are as nothing compared to the kind of money presently being sent down the chute to defense contractors and homeland-security operators and so on.

As for Washington's wealth, it is uniquely a phenomenon of the era of privatization and outsourcing, not of liberalism.

You seem to dismiss, if not denigrate, the term "culture of corruption." If that doesn't fit the nexus between K Street, the White House, Congress and contract-dispensing federal agencies, what does?

My problem with the term "culture of corruption" is that the word "culture" is being used generically-to mystify and accuse, not to define. I wanted to get down to specifics: What, exactly, is corrupt about this culture? How did it get that way? What's responsible for it? The Democrats' talk about a "culture of corruption" implies that simply voting for Democrats will fix it; when we know more about this culture we discover that it goes far too deep for such a simple solution.

You argue that the sprawling spectacle surrounding Jack Abramoff was not just a matter of a "few bad apples." So was the whole orchard rotten?

It's not the apples, it's the trees themselves. It's systemic. It's structural. It's the logical consequence of the philosophy of government currently in place. It has nothing to do with individuals except for the handful of geniuses who invented it all.

I read the muckraker David Graham Phillips, whom you quote in your book. A hundred years ago he was writing about The Treason of the Senate when the biggest names in the world's "greatest deliberative body" were serving "interests as hostile to the American people as any invading army could be, and vastly more dangerous; interests that manipulate the prosperity produced by all, so that it heaps up riches for the few; interests whose growth and power can only mean the degradation of the people." Ralph Nader couldn't say it better. So what's new?

Morally, those sentiments are right on-target. What's new is (a) the unthinkable is back; (b) it's infinitely more complex; and (c) it's ideological. The Vanderbilts had their own U.S. Senator because that way they could grab more, but the people doing it today are motivated at least partially by ideology. They have a theoretical justification for what they've done: the market is always and in every case better than the bureaucracy.

What's more, many of the people I describe in the book understand themselves as crusaders against corruption. They think *they* are the muckrakers, demanding more and more deregulation or privatization. Government should get out of the marketplace altogether. By what right does it regulate insider trading or price fixing? Get off our backs!

You require several pages - riveting pages, I will admit - to describe a "fantastic misgovernment." Distill the essence of it for a bumper sticker or t-shirt.

Bad government is the natural product of rule by those who believe government is bad.

Or: Cynicism spawns corruption, which spawns cynicism.

Or: Bring back the regulators before the system self-destructs.

Conservatives are fond of writing op-eds and going on television to say, "Don't look at us. It was the Republicans!" Are we really talking about a colossal case of mistaken identity here? Were the souls of conservatives actually hijacked and implanted in Republican bodies bought at a local taxidermist shop?

It is true that not all Republicans are conservatives-we used to have some pretty liberal ones out in the midwest. Also some pretty clean ones, especially in Kansas City, where the Dems were the party of Pendergast.

But the distinction is constantly abused by conservatives in order to get their movement off the hook when their one-time leaders' numbers plummet. One day Jack Abramoff is their maximum leader; when it's discovered that he's been ripping off his clients, suddenly he's not a conservative anymore. One day George W. Bush is thought to be in daily contact with the Almighty; when his numbers tank, he's an "impostor" who's tricked the movement. They once said the same things about Reagan, incidentally.

Incidentally, all of this is a basic logical fallacy called "No True Scotsman." Scotsman A says, "No Scotsman puts soy milk on his porridge." Scotsman B says, oh yeah? I know a Scotsman who puts soy milk on his porridge. Scotsman A then replies, "well, no *true* Scotsman puts soy milk on his porridge."

Many years ago I reported for a documentary on the Iran-Contra scandal - when President Reagan was waging a "secret" war against the Sandinistas and his hirelings in the basement of the White House traded arms for hostages to finance it. In your description of that scandal you write that two great conservative themes converged: "freedom fighters" and political entrepreneurship. Right?

Yes. The right of those years was infatuated with the idea of "freedom fighters"-the contras in Nicaragua, the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, Jonas Savimbi in Angola, and whatever that brutal gang was called in Mozambique. To conservatives these guys seemed to represent a kind of sixties in reverse, in which the glamorous guerrillas were now on our side. And, yes, they thought Jonas Savimbi was glamorous.

They supported these figures with entreneurial methods: asking millionaires to contribute to nonprofits which would then buy supplies for the contras (and supplies for the fundraiser); transforming their control of the state into cash (selling weapons to Iran). Their ultimate ambition was supposed to be called "The Enterprise": a foreign policy instrument completely free from the scrutiny of Congress.

And you think some of what we've seen under this regime evolved - pardon the secular language - from that convergence?

The entrepreneurship is officially woven into the fabric of the state now: "Government should be market-based," Bush says. Entrepreneurship is what gave you both the catastrophic depopulating of FEMA and the lucrative but ineffectual recovery effort after Katrina. Or look at Iraq, where much of our foreign-policy apparatus is indeed private and is almost completely beyond scrutiny. Try phoning Blackwater and asking them why they do the things they do.

Two years ago my documentary "Capitol Crimes," which we're repeating and updating this Friday night, reported on how conservatives in Washington ganged up to promote sweat shops on American territory. You devote a chapter to this story and call it Bantustan That Roared." Give our readers a peek into what you mean.

"Bantustans," or "homelands," were a tool of the apartheid government in South Africa. They were supposedly separate countries in which the black population could be theoretically housed, leaving South Africa proper for the whites. Generally speaking, the bantustans had two industries: casino gambling and low-wage manufacturing. One of them was ferociously libertarian, and much beloved of American conservatives. And they were all propped up ideologically by appeals to racial or ethnic pride.

Each of these elements was present in Saipan, to one degree or another. The raging libertarianism, the casino gambling, the sweatshop manufacturing-exploiting, in this case, imported Filipinos and Chinese-and the constant use of ethnic pride to excuse the whole rotten thing. I say Saipan "roared" because, while the bantustans pretty much sucked for everyone who lived there, it has been a great success for some.

Tom DeLay went there with a gaggle of conservatives in two and called the sweat shops "a petri dish of capitalism." How about that for a vision of America's future?

DeLay was right. That's what we're becoming. Democracy is over. It's rule by money, now: plutocracy, the pre-thirties system.

What do you make of the fact that Norquist is still riding high, despite the seamy business he carried on of using his organization to funnel money from Abramoff's clients to Ralph Reed? Does his constituency just not care about such things?

Apparently not. Maybe they think Norquist is just a good entrepreneur. I met him, by the way, and found him a charming and very intelligent man.

Who are the real casualties of THE WRECKING CREW?

It's ordinary working people. Thirty or forty years ago, it was possible to work a blue-collar job and enjoy a middle-class standard of living. In fact, it was common. It was the American way. The reason it was so common, though, was because we decided to make it that way and used government as our instrument. That instrument is no longer under our control. Someone else is at the wheel, and they're steering us in a different direction.

So can good little liberals go to bed at night now and sleep soundly knowing the Good Democrats have slain the monsters and reclaimed the castle?

No. Unfortunately, the system I describe is part of the landscape in Washington now. It's structural. It's an industry. It's not going down without an enormous fight. Besides, rather than putting away this very profitable game, a lot of Democrats seem excited to try their hand at it.

(Other Democrats, though, are trying to get to the bottom of things. Some Republicans, too. There used to be one called John McCain that I liked.)

Years ago the WALL STREET JOURNAL banned subversive - liberal - writers from their editorial pages. Suddenly you pop up as a columnist on the op-ed page. Are you Rupert Murdoch's fig leaf?

How did it happen? This wasn't supposed to be the Age of Miracles.

I have never met or spoken to Rupert Murdoch. The editor of their op-ed page is the one who offered me a spot. I was as surprised by the invitation as you are, since one of my previous books was basically an extended commentary on the JOURNAL's opinion page over the course of the 1990s.

I personally think that one of the reasons I've ended up at the JOURNAL is, ironically, the famous "liberal bias" critique. I've always suspected that one of the reasons I've never been offered a regular, permanent place in any prominent mainstream publication is that everyone in big-media-land is terrified of seeming too liberal, and hiring someone like me would obviously expose them to terrific blasts from the right. Well, one of the only publications in America that is totally immune to that critique is the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Which means they're free to hire me.

Has living in Washington made you cynical? Or was it the ripping of the veil in "The Wizard of Oz" that destroyed your faith?

The literature of Washington is, by and large, the literature of cynicism and disillusionment. I wanted to update it for our time. But I prefer the word "skeptical," since I believe good government is possible.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Thomas Frank are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


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Those who would like to know more about moving personal accounts from large banking institutions to small community banks can get reliable information by googling Arianna Huffington's article "Move Your Money: A New Year's Resolution." I'd give you the URL but I don't think its permitted.

I've suggested that people burn their credit cards publicly in the town square as protestors in the Vietnam era burned their draft cards, and sign a pledge not to use credit cards in the future. This, if general enough, would have more impact than people moving their personal accounts to small banks.
Lets see how much this Obama tax on Wall Street's banks reduces their crooked managers' scandalous salaries and bonuses. I'll bet you not one blessed pemmy.

Mr Russell - it really sound like you and I hold similar viewpoints.

I agree that you cant punish things.

I am simply tired of conservatives being able to get away with 'bull malarky'.

In their free market dream world, people would vote with their feet in any and all situations.

With this bank tax thing, they want to make it appear as though ALL PEOPLE would get this tax passed on to them.
They want to rely onthe public not realizing that only a small handful of banks would be hit with this tax and therefore only a small handful could pass this tax on.

I heard Barney Frank say in an inetrveiew the other day that 98% of the banks hold only 20% of the assets.

It never occurred to me that there would be an 'income inequality' with banking.

But...2 percent of banks hold 80 percent of the wealth.

They are the big banks. They charge people fees left and right becuase they can.

or at least theythink they can.

let all Americans deflate those big banks by moving their money to small community FDIC insured banks.

I think it would help.

I could be wrong.

Mr Russell -

If your argument is rooted in the assertion that most or all small banks
are in fact owned and controlled by big banks then I dont know what to say
to you. Do a google search on "who owns small banks". maybe that would help.

Perhaps you could start be watching (re-watching?) this Bill Moyers show from Dec. 11th 2009.

check out the FDIC website.

I dont even know how to use their website (as was suggested by another poster - Mary).
I think it says there are over 8 thousand different banks. Im not sure. I do know there are
more than the 14 or so that took bailout money.
Ill learn...hopefully.

Really, we all need to overcome the misinformation campaign that is waged against us.

When Republicans say "This isnt right becuase it raises taxes on people", then every single
one of us needs to realize that the word 'people' is misleading. It is intentionally misleading.

The speed limit cant be 35mph ANYWHERE becuase the interstate near my house would be
far too overcrowded. we cant raise taxes on 'people' because "that guy" is taxed enough already.

You are taxed enough already arent you? everyone is in your exact situation. We are all
multi - millionaires receiving free government healthcare...arent we???

none of us have health issues. My neighbor is healthy so I must also be.

Everyone recives healthcare. they might get it at tthe ER but they do in fact get it.
No one actually dies. never mind any study that suggests people actually do die.

Never mind a guy typing at you on a website who tells you firsthand that I COULD NOT



The public option was not a government takeover of health care.

ACORN cannot commit voter fraud and never will.

Pray for discernment. save our country!

I just found "Bill Moyers answers viewer questions" which had been bumped up
by a curious post. I read through some but not all of the questions and answers.

The info there helps with a question I posted about 'where to get info'.

But, before it slips my mind...

It seems to me that conservatives are (and have been) aggressively trying to rewrite history.

They are being successful with their followers (who apparently believe everything Glenn Beck
et al says).

My problem is:

There are myriads of tedious facts out there. many of these facts are sitting in plain
sight on government databases. These databases are extremely difficult to work with.

It takes researchers to tediously go through all of these facts and distill it into info
that is more pallatable to most of us.

Some of us can digest more intellectual stuff than can others.

The conservatives are able to mislead many because those facts are so hard to digest
and are not easily found.

The 'mainstream' media (the corporate media) doesnt do this country any good with
its inability (and apparent lack of desire) to convey important, pallatable information to the people.

Conservative media is lying its A@@ off.

There needs to be an online teaching website that shows where to go to get those
most tedious facts and also (very important) HOW to get those facts.

An example is the FEC website. If you want to find out if a given person has contributed
to a candidate, you have to know how to use that website.

If you go to Thomas law library, you have to know how to find what you want to find.

I havent figured these websites out to my satisfaction. I know there are many more websites
that would contain the information I might need and they are all probably equally as difficult to use.

When I needed to prove to others that most small busineses are just individuals working for themselves
without any employees, I had to find the proof in the form of a chart on a government website.
That info seems to have since dissappeared.

I feel our country is at stake because too many politicians and too many businesspeople are putting
power in front of country. they know they are lying/misleading. they must. they do it anyway.

The only defense against them is the ability to SHOW FACTS.

For example, I just saw where people still want to claim that ACORN wil steal the election in Mass.
ACORN doesnt vote. Neither do the SEIU which seems to be conservatives next target.

It seems that people who follow conservative news outlets have no desire to check facts for themselves
and most news outlets have no interest in disseminating the truth.

The most helpful thing to me is 'The Facts'.

Maybe, Bill Moyers, you could put together a teaching website that shows people like me where to go
to get the info I need.

maybe you already have?? Like I said elsewhere, there is just so much information.

It makes it easy for those who desire to bury the Truth to do just that.

thanks for reading this...sorry its long.

I want to make my position clear. A government can tax people, it can tax things. People can be punished, things cannot. A corporation is a thing despite the Supreme Court. I favor heavy penalties, heavy taxes on the people who manipulate corporations to satisfy their own greed. A truly pregressive tax, say 95 percent tax on salary and wealth above one million.

Dave G…
You say: “People will close their accounts at an ever increasing rate. people are closing their accounts
right now!”
Do you have a reliable citation for this? How do the large financial institutions make most of their money anyway? How many small, “local” banks are in fact controlled by and dependent on the big boys?

Suppose this for a few minutes.
I have a small company that manufactures and markets caramelized sheep dip. The company prospered and we incorporated. The process raises a hell of a stink and people downwind complained to the government. We get slapped with a hefty tax when we refused to clean it up. No problem, we raised the price of SD Caramels to cover the tax and, what the hell, we added fat bonuses plus pay raises for me and my staff.
Enough people love our delicacies so we’re making more money than ever. The government, though, still miffed by the smell from our operation, slaps on another “punitive” tax. This time we’re pissed and we move our operation to another country that grants us concessions, where labor is dirt cheap and employees are covered by government health insurance that costs us nothing. Our former employees in the U.S. are now on the dole with no health coverage whatsoever.
Fanciful, you say? Not so much. Check the labels on the products that you buy.

Thomas Frank's faith in big government is in stark contrast to the empirical evidence provided by John Stossel. Moyers should give equal time to John Stossel. Or better yet, have them both on to express their positions.

Dear Mr Bill -

another fantastic show.

Ive written to PBS and told them that if they cancel you, they will never get another dime from me.

Im sick of PBSs ever increasing conservative money first slant.

Will all of this information that exists on this PBS website still exist if you leave?

What are your 5 (or ten) absolute favorite online sources of 'whats new and important'?

I rely on you to tell me about things.

The biggest problem I have is that I have no idea where to go to get the information I need. I know youve been listing resources on every single show you do and youve been doing it for a long time.
Ive been trying to learn the ones I think are most useful. Youve been a big help.

I find it very difficult to keep track of all the things that help me prove my arguments. Theres so much much information...

I try to save a link to every single thing I read that I find interesting. Ive got more links than I know what to do with.

I dont know how you manage to put on such good shows but you do.

Im hoping PBS changes its mind.

Will you have a website after PBS?

Posted by: Sanford Russell | January 16, 2010 10:07 AM

Any tax (or levy) on financial institutions, just as on corporations, eventually
gets passed on to the people – people who are already suffering.


Im tired of this ridiculousness.

The big banks took bailout money. It is ONLY the big banks which would be taxed.

The overwhelming majority of banks in this country would not be taxed.

If the big banks want to pass their taxes onto their customers then I hope they do.

People will close their accounts at an ever increasing rate. people are closing their accounts
right now!

People should take their money out of those big banks and support your local small bank.
(Make sure its FDIC insured).

Oh I love this: my CAPTCHA is 'misers running' -- HA!!

I couldn't believe what I was hearing about collective, deliberate erasing of unpleasant or damaging information from our memory, even though I'd heard it before, I'm getting the book to give it time to sink in so I can fight back somehow. bn

Russell: So the Obama team which has been in for one year now has "lost the game" per your opinion. In that time they were supposed to be miracle workers and overcome a huge block of lying opposition and all the other things that took decades to dismantle. Come on be reasoanble, even JC himself couldn't have done that.

Russell: So the Obama team which has been in for one year now has "lost the game" per your opinion. In that time they were supposed to be miracle workers and overcome a huge block of lying opposition and all the other things that took decades to dismantle. Come on be reasoanble, even JC himself couldn't have done that.

Russell: So the Obama team which has been in for one year now has "lost the game" per your opinion. In that time they were supposed to be miracle workers and overcome a huge block of lying opposition and all the other things that took decades to dismantle. Come on be reasoanble, even JC himself couldn't have done that.

Obama and his team have lost the game. We gave him the ball and he fumbled on the opponent’s 20 yard line. Decent man he may be but this much is certain: Obama has failed us as our elected leader. We had high hopes, we supported him. Sadly, he is inept, incompetent, politically naïve and woefully indecisive. If he were truly a decent man he would resign, although jovial Joe doesn’t look much better. Here’s one message, among many, that I recently sent to the White House:

Dear BO and Joe...

Any tax (or levy) on financial institutions, just as on corporations, eventually gets passed on to the people – people who are already suffering. Additionally these regressive taxes reduce U.S. ability to compete with other nations.

How foolish of you to try and penalize institutions. Institutions can’t be greedy nor can they be corrupt. The people who run them may well be. It is the personal wealth and income of the Wall Street crooks that should be taxed - not the morally neutral institutions.

As school children we often sang an ancient ditty that you two might enjoy as well:

A million for a senator
Another for his neighbor
It’s money boys that runs the show
Pop goes the weasel.

Class dismissed. Watch out for the traffic.

Sanford Russell

Very interesting perspective. I agree that in countries like India, the creme of the crop students aspire to become government servants and just do that.

Not implying that govt in India is efficient, however GOP definitely slams govt agencies for everything.

There are some great progressive public TV & radio programs like Bill Moyers. Unfortunately, too many Americans see these programs as fostering "liberalism" when in fact they encourage independent thinking.

We are at a stage four cancer in our nation, with no interest in health care to address the disease. Most Americans prefer not to see the doctor, believing ignorance is bliss. So when the host patient dies, the cancer will die too. There will be a point where those using our government, taxpayers and national system of security and protection for their wealth creation will be without a lifeboat. I wish I could live to see them sink like the Titanic. Of course many down below will sink with them. But they are drowning anyway.

i didnt read all of this is was too long for me lol. um i dont understand how government by the people for the people can somehow expect to remove themselves from the whole of government and be so passive, allowing elected official after elected official to corrupt and demoralize a government whose democracy has been fought for so hard and expect it to just exist and become better while money rules its hand. money truly is the root of all evil and each offical that gains power who evidently has a lack of moral beliefs can ever be expected to represent the people that elected him rather than himself or his pocketbook. it is rediculous. however understandable, if i say here i will pay you to say my yes or my no and another comes along and says i will pay you more for my yes and no withought morals you would naturally say, OK!... or if the elected sees that he can simply take what he pleases the guys electing me will never notice nor do they seem to care so naturally withought morals he will say, it is mine i have no master to answer too he has long forgotton me. then he will take command of the laws and use them for his own gain as did every dictator endowed with power over others...

Shameful people. Shameful government. Shameful behavior.

Posted by: Ted Michael Morgan | August 3, 2008 5:42 AM

****Reply Separator****

Shameful ruling elite.
Shameful population. Shameful body politic.
Shameful acquiescence.
Shameful history.
Shameful national record.
Shameful "culture".
Shameful foreign policy.
Shameful domestic policy.

Until the Democrat candidates seriously address the scale of, and damage from, decades of corruption, rather than just licking their chops at the prospect of inheriting the corporate largesse, I will continue to actively call for a boycott of elections. Hopefully, they will lose again. The country needs an opposition party, and until they figure that out, they're doomed to learn the hard way...i take my TV out of the closet only on Friday night Bill, your show is the only thing on that doesn't insult my intelligence, thanks

Topic: Sub-broadcast communication among Moyers' staff and edge-Moyeristas.
On the Archive, Bill has replaced August Wilson with the 2004 Thomas Frank interview;"What's the Matter with Kansas?" The subject then was why poorer people would campaign and vote against their own material interests, and why some vital survival issues were " off the table," not being addressed by either major political party. What I call our subtextual conversation with Moyers evolves with his reiteration of Franks' "The Wrecking Crew" via this flashback.

Another election looms, and Moyers seems to endow it with spectacular importance. I wonder why, when; with our failing economy, so many more people are potentially being recruited into the "Cultural Wars" and becoming accustomed to the issues they should attend to being off the table. Surely, Bill realizes that Obama is no Huey Long, barely a potential FDR, and that his healthcare and energy plans amount to little more than watered down sucker bait.

Right now, as the environment fails us and carbon energy runs low, we have to admit that halfway solutions like the New Deal are not only doomed to failure,but as compromises are pre-arranged failures, like so many social programs that do not tackle class warfare or shake the tree of privilege.

I watch my former colleague Grady, struggling with the contradictions of his corporate employment. His medical bills have produced wage slavery, even at 78K a year. And he attacks the illusions of posters in his income range, not realizing that they are truly comfortable, believe in the system that rewards them, believe they are deserving, and are the most panicked strata of the society. Their denial dwarfs the fears of poor people like myself, partially because they understand science and economics better than the masses, and truly believe good investing, tire pressure and fluorescent bulbs will save their lifestyle. Their sense of proportion is all wrong: Their faith in the system is misplaced: The problem is global and is time critical. They all think they are smarter than Grady, and if we just kill a few more Muslims, and get our economic system entrenched in West Asia we will be OK. They might give to contradictory charities but that is their belief system. And they expect their children will replace them in service to the present elites. If any class is truly critical to survival and reform, and simultaneously truly demented, it is this privileged uppermost middleclass with its illusions of expertise.

So Franks and Moyers want to harp on the poor little religious reactionaries, people fixated on ideals of decency, clinging to hollow symbols threatened by "progress." It is not as if the poor working people can't learn, or are somehow genetically flawed. They would be the first on the green-equity-global bandwagon if they had not been mis-educated, intimidated by power, and misinformed and insulted by the media.

I ask you, whose fault was this? Why, it was the compromising and cowardly, selfish intelligentsia after all. These are the people who truly believe in trickle from their "betters" because they have experienced it in a patronage system of scholarships, grants, advocate employment and merry-go-round rewards. They have served their masters well whether they are liberal or conservative at the moment.

Rapidly, desperately we need to reclaim the masses with genuine information, education and dynamic converging opportunity, to save this planet. But, tragically, the credibility of science and economics have been lost because of the duplicity of privilege (the Class/Culture War) and they are hooked on superstition, celebrity and empty symbols. I ask you again whose fault this is.

The Drug War, the War on Terror, even Jimmy Carter's "moral equivalent of war" have all proven deceitful and manipulative advertising campaigns that refilled wealthy pockets. Don't sit there at your football shaped table and blame the victims. You know the crimes you describe are just another dynamic of the lawless wealth updraft. Please start telling the truth, faster and better,without worrying about your pouting friends, as if all our lives depended upon it (They do!). How can we be redeemed? How will we ever be redeemed? Not by smart talk and half-assed solutions.

Duck Soup said:

" . . . people on both sides argue that both parties are always equally corrupt at the national level - a fatalistic view indeed. It seems to me that since Nixon, if you were to add up the number and magnitude of convictions of both parties, Republicans would do far far worse."

The problem with this view is that you are talking about instant, technically illegal corruption. The corruption which is interrupting what should be an age of advantages for the 'average man' is ingrained in the very deepest laws and halls of lawmakers, and in this the democrats and republicans are equally to blame.

They fight over the shape of the headlights and taillights, but the car itself goes unchallenged.

Despite some individuals who speak up, the vast majority of the power structure in both parties agree on certain things.

There will be no sincere, passable effort to address the energy monopolies that are now in existence, which are based on nuclear or fossil fuels in one form or another.

There will be no examination of the American induced drug war, which affects countries from within South America to Afghanistan, and which defies the very definition of freedom.

These two problems lie at the heart of all our troubles; don't worry about the branches when the root is rotting. Even if the next president pushes for new, real world energy plans which will be effective and make us an exporter of the technology, I am leary of either a republican or democratic congress following suit, despite their talk to the contrary. It is talk which I have heard for decades.

As far as the drug war - it is obvious and essential that the drug trade be legalized and regulated, justr as it was during prohibition, but it is suicide to even suggest it.

Everyone in power knows that it is futile and unjust, and they just shrug and say 'it doesn't matter', because in the world of drugs, only the stupid and poor come under the scrutiny of the police.

Those two areas - if you can destroy those monopolies, of energy and of the drug war, you will destroy the heart of the pallor which grips us - it's corruption is spreading now through every facet of our society, driving away technological improvements which should be propelling us into the 21st century; instead we are purposely throwing anchors over the side of the boat, clinging to last decades technology.

On the drug war, we divert trillions of dollars directly into the hands of criminal gangs and terrorists on purpose, and that one thing is almost solely responsible for the corrupt governments of drug producing nations around the world.

It is not a hard correlation to make - if you grow poppies or coca, your country is doomed. A natural resource becomes a curse, and the people who put the curse on them are the ones who do the bulk of the drugs; upper middle class people who never have a problem with them and never get busted.

Those two things - but we won't fix them through elections, I predict, and that makes me sad. People of influence need to realize this, and develop a plan for what to do when the wheels fall off of the car. That time is fast approaching.

For once, though, wouldn't it be nice if we did the right thing before a crises.

Jack Martin,
I like your, "...Illegitimate leaders bankrolled by pirates".
The sad but true is that our only choice is do what is necessary to deal with both the illegitimate leaders and the pirates.
We need to impeach the illegitimate leaders and put the pirates in the brig.
Even a one cell organism has enough sense to understand that their only chance of survival is their association with other microorganisms.
Like you mentioned in your post; it is necessary that people organize their efforts to ride themselves of cancerous people.
Sad but true; survival depends on doing what is necessary to solve the problem.
Dave Eddy

Thank you again, Mr. Moyer, for yet another insightful program(me). PBS is just about the only American channel we will watch - the rest is just unbelievably atrocious - especially what passes for journalism on the likes of CNN - and Faux news is just that - sound bites for simpletons. We have CBC Newsworld up here and I must admit the indepth journalism is fantastic - I just wish we could export it down south. I think we see a lot more up here that doesn't get past your commercial networks down there. It's all very worrisome. I used to live in the US and married an American - we haven't lived in the States since the '70's, but what we see and read about is so totally alien to the country we both so loved. May good men and women bring your country back to its sensible and strong roots and may you be able to rid forever the bad politics and those that espouse them from Washington.

Crush GM/Toyata and let the people build their conveyances from kits in the community. People have the power, they just don't realize it yet. The first tool of humane transportation is the vehicle-free greenway leading to the places people need to go for food, medicine, supplies and education. Nothing less should be tolerated. Bicycles come next, and lastly powered vehicles. My world without trails and sidewalks is killing me! It is the fault of the elite exploiters that our communities trap us into destructive and wasteful behaviors. People before cars!

Duck Soup was a Marx Brothers comedy about land fraud in Florida, Captain Spaulding. Ehanol equals hunger, and coal equal asphyxiation and ruined resources in an overheated world. Nuclear is bad as much because it requires over-scaled corporate hegemony as because it produces perpetual toxics (ask Hirshima and Nagasaki), wasted water and heat to boot. Natural gas is hard to transport (costs) and is finite like petroleum. Electric power would be better produced community by community and household by household than by self-interested corporate utilities. The best way to empower citizenship is a stake in the game. Even capitalists agree that the person who owns their job and their means works better and cares more than a wage slave.
But the capitalist model requires wage slaves because in inhumane economics human labor and health are only factors of production to be exploited.
The Founding Father were not admirable actors because of foresight, but because of their material interests (investors, manipulators, traders, slavedrivers). What they did not foresee was a world with every citizen a part owner, every person sovereign.
But this is what is called for now, to save democracy and save the planet. We may use wind, biomass, hydro, solar, tidal, geothermal and so on ; but ownership must be distributed evenly over the population so that we all have input and control. (Productive employment should follow the same model: worker ownership within each enterprise, no employees; only owners. )This will build self-sufficiency and community spirit in a way capitalists can never envision. Parasitism is the root of our problems. Big plants, in the hands of a few can't be anything other than oppressive. (But then the local Electric Cooperative has gone the way of the local Savings and Loan system: Piratized by faschists! Such fraud is both "liberal", liberally given to the wealthy, and conservative, saved for the elite. Boy are election watchers ever stupid!I can't seem to squeeze a dollar bill between McCain's and Obama's energy proposals, all for corporate parasites.) Why electric cars? ( I am a Prius driver, but am not free.) Should we not be freed from the cars on our proverbial backs also. Put transportation where it is needed and slow down, to enjoy life. Greed is death; greed is sadism.

Duck Soup: You are right on about switching to electric powered vehicles. I just watched "Who Killed the Electric Car." It made me so mad I had to take an extra blood-pressure pill. California and GM had a viable solution in the mid-90's with the EV-1 vehicle. It scared GM so much that they pressured the CA Air Quality Board into caving on the excellent AQ standards they had established. GM then recalled all the EV-1's that they had leased and crushed them so they couldn't be used any further.

When I hear that GM is suffering big-time losses, it makes me grin. What goes around comes around.

Please report on this Bill Moyers:

"We won't drill, we will let our economy go down the tubes." That's what Republicans say.

Here's what I say to them:

Don't listen to me. Watch her. Really. She gave a talk to conservatives recently that I think you should watch. It might resonate.

She says the more we produce, the less OPEC will increase its production to compensate. Her proof? OPEC has gone from producing 30 million barrels a day since the 70s to 32 million barrels a day today. The rest of the world has doubled its production. We add a few million barrels from offshore drilling, guess what happens? Growth in China and India picks up the slack and OPEC holds its production steady. In other words, nothing. It's that simple.

Anne Korin is right. Two thirds of our gas consumption comes from vehicles. Only 2% of our electricity is generated using oil. What is the obvious solution? Switch to battery powered vehicles. Get vehicles off the gas. And start equipping all vehicles for alternative fuels, at a cost of only about $100 a car by the way. Corn ethanol is profitable at about $2 a gallon, much cheaper than current prices. Let's go!

The Republicans have been in power for so long. Even they say we are addicted to oil. Why aren't they saying any of this? Could it have something to do with their warped allegiances in the Middle East, especially with Saudi Arabia who sent us the 9/11 bombers?

Can we please get real already? Offshore drilling is a red herring. It will not matter in the grand scheme of things. The problem is OPEC holds the cards. We are too dependent on oil. Republican politicians are sell-outs who don't want you to think clearly on this.

Ted Michael Morgan:
Why is it shameful to point out that Amerithrax is the keyway to 9/11 Truth? (both false-flagged, see today's Democracy Now) And why is it shameful to scold Moyers for serving us leftovers and not probing for the truth. Dr. Ivins deserves better than this major media smear job. (Meanwhile: Are Dolores Lear and Dr. Murray L. Morgan really the same crazy-person?)

Just a request Mr. Moyers. When I am on the boards, for example at iVil, people on both sides argue that both parties are always equally corrupt at the national level - a fatalistic view indeed. It seems to me that since Nixon, if you were to add up the number and magnitude of convictions of both parties, Republicans would do far far worse. No one, as far as I can tell, however, is keeping track. Would you please keep a count/listing, for example since World War II? It would really help hold the parties accountable. We on the boards could cite it all the time, like the way I cite your beyonddelay site. Thanks for your consideration.

Donna Brazile and Karl Rove have been collaborating for the past five years on throwing the 2008 Democratic Primaries . It would be terrific if Moyers could address the corruption as it's happening, rather than after the fact. Here's some of the story that I've dug up on the "Anybody But Hillary" strategy of the G.O.P. and their inside connection to the Democrats.

The Ignorance - to Fear - to Violence cycle.

Did the ignorance of the USA as to who flew airplanes into our towers, cause fear, and violence to Iraq, who was not involved in the planes of 9/11? They did have some violent weapons like the USA does, but is that enough to attack them in war?

Did we as a country do just as Adkkison did, and attack innocent Humans like he did? How can Government Morals be any better, than their citizens that approve of Killing innocent Brothers/Sisters of Life, and ruin GODs Planet.

We are all victims of the Inequality of Human Life on Earth. Not just in War, but in all other phases of Killing our land, sea, and air.

With all our High Tech Science Knowledge of the Universe, we still act like Animals.

Did we really come from the Animals and Cavemen, or from the High Tech Science Male and Female Clone Humans in Genesis? We still do not accept if Life on Earth Evolved or was Created Supernaturally by the High Tech Science in Genesis.

When are we going to put our Actions where our Mouth is, and instead of 'Saying' we love God, and our Brothers/Sisters of Life, 'Live' like we do, like Jesus did?

Thanks very much for your invaluable program. It is my only "must see" program. Not much on TV is thoughtful and inciteful.
Keep up the good work!

Bill is one of the last true investigative reporters and commentators - a rare vanishng breed of Patriotic Americans still trying to wake up the populace at large. With the recent passage of HR 1955 by a overwhelming majority of treasonous Congressmen and women we run the risk of losing people like Bill who try their damnedest to get the truth out - keep up the good fight - we need more like you - especially now!

Weeding out the Conspirators will take Patriots from both sides.
McCain and Hillary's complicity with this corp agenda is a painful reality.
As a Life long Liberal Dem and someone who can recall the Old school Republicans ideologies, I welcome my previously formidable Foes with open arms.WE mus twork together to end this long standing business stratedgy and Marketing campaign.

Obama/Hagel '08

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Edmund Burke's words were never truer than today. You mention John McCain as someone we could once look up to, that is if we could see past the blind spot of political affiliation. We have chosen to ignore the council of the wise sages in both political parties to participate in the mind numbing partisan horserace that has been substituted for a Democracy. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle where far too many good men do nothing !

Abramoff, Reed, Delay and Rove. Four typical scumbags running around DC as if they were the moral compass of this country when in fact, they are the toilet bowls of the world!
Yet, Rove is still regarded in high esteem, Delay is still the guest speaker at many events (including television shows) and who knows about those other jerks! I know Reed is in jail, but still...
One final thing. You know the red door on K street? You are aware that a red door is the universal signal that "prostitutes are working here", don't you? I'm sure Jack was absolutely aware that, one; he is a whore and two;
that he got a "sick thrill"
from having his door painted red! Bastard that he is!

Grady Lee Howard, shame on you too.

Shameful people. Shameful government. Shameful behavior.

It is time to take the lobbying out of politics.
We are paying politicians to recruit research specialists and make decisions that keep our society functioning. Taking money from lobbyists is begging for corruption. We are building corruption into the system. Money for elections should be only allowed from individual citizens with limited donations. Any money accepted from corporations should be illegal. Politicians bought and payed for by corporations do not represent the people.

Hostage Bill: So you played it safe again, shilling a Thomas Frank book and updating your 2 year old Capitol Crimes. (You could have given us that as an archive, offered as a quick on-air update. See how few bloggers have responded.)
The Anthrax Attack (Amerithrax) which followed 9/11 and was probably sent as a warning to those who would investigate a false flagged conspiracy, had seemingly become a dormant investigation after 7 years. After prodding by Congress, a convenient scapegoat and implausible scenario has been injected into mass media (Orwellian, isn't it?).
What you missed was the clumsy handling of this investigation by the FBI, and the suspicious death of germ warfare scientist Bruce E. Ivins, after Stephen Hatfill had been awarded over 8 million dollars for formerly being harrassed as a suspect.
Senator Leahy, a target of the later 2001 mailing has stated,"I think there are people within our government who know where it came from."
This week you described conspiracy for profit and for perpetual dysfunctional government (Wrecking Crew), with all its intricacies and secrecy and yet you poo-pooh the larger possibility, that the entire War on Terror is also, at its heart, a for-profit grab for dictatorial power. The ideology of the holy market manipulated by God's chosen would certainly encompass such treasons and mass murders.
You are a pitiful classist and racist if you think low- waged taxpayers, American Indians on reservations, natural disaster victims and wage slaves in Saipan
are any less deserving of justice than 9/11 victims in the Twin Towers +7 or the Pentagon.
If you can't entertain what has become obvious to the thinking public, I can't see why you'd waste time pitching a hybrid of Dallas and the Sopranos. Even Kathleen hall Jamieson could tell you that bomb is a ratings loser. Your instincts are "way-off", Bill, because people are well beyond your whore's race and tabloid laziness (Capitol Crimes). I despise Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff as much as anyone, and I actually resent hearing about or seeing these perverts: There are bigger fish to fry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I hope you get some guts soon. P.S. Don't open any puffy envelopes.

Wow! What a glass-bead game. Connecting all these dots, from native American casinos, to sweatshops in the Mariani's, to Russian hoodlums, boggles the mind.

And this does not even take the trioka of the religious right (Ralph Reed,) congressional corruption (Tom Delay,) and cynical gamesmanship (Grover Norquist)into account.

The fact that Abramoff was so tightly connected with his college buddy, Karl Rove, and through him to George Bush, is truly amazing.

It is high time we kicked the rascals out.

Something is really really wrong with our Republican government.

I cried when I heard this story:

I suggest strongly that you listen to it if you haven't already.

So many poor sick Americans who can't afford health care must resort to going to a third-world medical relief agency now operating in the United States voted. Many of these people for the same Republican politicians who have done everything they can to block healthcare reform. These Republicans even blocked healthcare for kids in the expansion of S-CHIP.

Where are you Republican politicians? Where are you? What are you doing for these citizens? Many of them voted for you. They work hard. They are not all lazy. Listen to this. Listen to them.

God bless RAM. God bless them. RAM can't do it alone, however. They can't provide healthcare like the government can. They must turn away hundreds of sick Americans with no recourse. They can't tackle this problem with a makeshift operation and one big helicopter from World War II.

These sick Americans want to pay for healthcare. They can't afford it. Like the 28-year-old mother of 3 who is at risk for recurrence of cervical cancer and can't afford the follow up, they are putting their families before their health. Obama doesn't want to give them a handout. He wants to offer affordable healthcare which they can pay for with dignity instead of taking handouts.

And shame on you Republican politicians. Shame on you. No excuses. Just shame on you. You haven't lifted a finger to help these good American citizens. Instead you have blocked the help. Shame on you. Shame on you. You all need to just stop for a while. You need to sit out politics and reflect. Shame on you. May God forgive your warped souls.

Thanks for posting this interview. The book looks like it's worth a read. I fear that a lot of Americans won't take what Mr. Frank has to say seriously until it's too late. Even if Obama wins, and he isn't just spweing rhetoric, he's up against systemic rot.

Tx again, Mr. Moyers. Let's hope we can get this government by business men turned around before it's time for you and me to check out. For the sake of my kids and grand kids.

I thank the universe for Bill Moyer's Journal, Frontline, NOW and all the other wonderful PBS programs on television. If you didn't exist, where would we find the truth?

P. Newson

Mr. Moyers--You are my families most important source of information. Please keep it up. Don

You are truly our hero, Bill, for speaking truth to power over and over and over again. As I read this interview with Thomas Frank, I was reminded of a character in my new book, Bargaining for Eden. In the 1990s, Mac Livingston was a flower shop manager in Salt Lake City who many saw as eccentric and infuriating. But he stopped a billionaire hotel developer, Earl Holding, from raking in public redevelopment money. He did so by everyday acts of citizenship, performed fiercely. After the fight was over, he told me: "The issue is not Earl Holding. It's not the politicians, it's not the judges. It's the awful system. People like Earl Holding are being born as you and I sit here talking, people who will take advantage of other people, who are born in a culture that stresses the making of money. It's a plutocracy: money rules the law. The tragedy is our ignorance. It's us, paying no attention to politics while those we elect to defend us against tyranny pass and support tyrannous laws."

Thanks to both Bill Moyers and Thomas Frank for dispelling a little of that ignorance.

tom frank drops science like it should be dropped. read ONE MARKET UNDER GOD now, i say.

After watching this program, I am reminded of what has been said before about religion and politics. The preacher who was duped into working pro bono says it all, "bringing religion to the people thru political means."

I am appauld, but why does this continue to happen and when will the American public demmand justice. With a war costing taxpayers billions, contractors bilking the government, and an economy looking more and more bleek by the day, something must be done. I have sat up many nights wondering how my children will survive with a budget that can never be paid off and religious politicians pushing theocratic teaching in public schools.

Thanks again Bill for another stellar program that should be the bellweather of them all to those that wish for accountability, since we "working class" citizens are held accountable for our own actions.

After reading this interview, I truly look forward to tonight's program.

I will be putting "The Wrecking Crew" on my list of books to read in the near future, along with "The Shock Doctrine" & "Blackwater."

And this:

"Unfortunately, the system I describe is part of the landscape in Washington now. It's structural. It's an industry. It's not going down without an enormous fight. Besides, rather than putting away this very profitable game, a lot of Democrats seem excited to try their hand at it."

This is undoubtedly true, and should be a significant concern for anyone who cares about the direction our government takes in the future; rule by the Democratic party guarantees NOTHING unless they work diligently at eliminating Friedmanite economic policies and the systemic corporatism that has hobbled effective governing in DC.

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