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Partisanship, Dirty Politics, and the Truth

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Conversing with Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL this week, media expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggested that misleading political attacks can undermine the quality of our discourse by emphasizing talking points and exaggerated rhetoric over facts and truth.

“You hope that the partisan audience has enough exposure to places that give you both sides so they're able to hear the other side and are able to hear credible sources and accept... when their side is wrong and when the other side is wrong. It's easy to hear those times in which the other side is wrong. It's much harder to be in places to hear that your side is wrong. First, because increasingly we're not going to those kinds of places, but it's also difficult because of the way we hunker down in our own ideology for us to hear when our own side is actually not telling us the truth.”

What do you think?

  • Is the campaign you're supporting mostly telling the truth? What about those campaigns you oppose?
  • How do you feel about instances when campaigns you've supported have stretched the truth? Do the ends justify the means?

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    Nader never sold out. McCain sold out; Obama sold out. Who reauthorized the Patriot Act? Who reorganized FISA to allow for warrant-less wiretapping? Who voted for the $700bn bailout after it was seasoned with little bits of bacon?

    Nader never sold out. Your Congress and your president have sold out, and they have virtually given the government over to the corporations. Why do drug companies both run and fund the FDA? Why do HMOs and insurance companies get to veto any single-payer national health insurance plans we attempt to create? Why do automobile companies get to block heightened air-pollution standards in California?

    Nader never sold out. He explained explicitly why he's running: . You can't just sue these companies any longer! The legal system and the government regulators are so corporate biased that the laws are now shaped in the companies' favor. The only option now is to make the laws yourself, and that's why Nader is running.

    I have noticed Ms. Jamieson getting haughtier and more biased each time she is on. Perhaps it is time to retire her and get someone else who isn't impressed with their own importance?

    I am still caught in the conundrum of who to vote for. Hillary, thank goodness, was out the door, so Obama looked ok with his voice for change and getting rid of good ole boy politics. Then he nominated 'good ole boy' Biden. That cost him my vote.

    Thinking maybe McCain really might be an improvement - he lost me when he showed poor judgement by nominating Palin. How can you run a campaign based on your experience and then push someone so inexperienced? So - back to the drawing board.

    Now, McCain has a really bad habit of getting caught screwing up badly to profit his friends and corporations and constantly having to apologize for his actions. Sort of scary what he'll screw up as President and then say "oops - my bad".

    Obama went off-message because of his need to kow-tow to white voters.....

    Will probably vote Obama simply because at least he's a Christian. He didn't have to nominate someone fanatically Christian like Palin so people wouldn't notice McCain is really an athiest who is only God fearing when running for public office. Thank goodness my brother has worked in the McCain campaign long enough to let that tidbit of info slip out.

    Palin has the whites so worked up that already there is talk - in private circles - of taking out Obama if he gets elected. She really knows how to bring out the deepest racism in people.

    Problem is - I want to put in "none of the above", but fear 'wasting my vote'. And for heavens sakes don't say Nader - he's a sell-out and I thought he'd passed away a couple of years ago!

    Can we Please, just once, have an election based on issues?

    It's a good thing for McCain he isn't a Liberal or a Democrat (even though he thought of changing parties after Bush and Fallwell degraded him and his wife so bad in 2000) or he would have to defend his adultery actions during his first marriage because the GOP's, especially the right wing fanatics, would plaster his infidelity all over the place. Republicans would make sure everyone knew McCain's character is that of someone who cheats on his wife. McCain has no right to slam someone else's character when he has lied at his job and he committed adultery while married to his first wife. Same goes for Palin, the GOP's especially the right-wing fanatics would have her pregnant unwed minor teenage daughter plastered all over the Internet. The GOP's would also say if she can't keep her own house in order, for example not knowing where her daughter is and what she is doing or not knowing her husband is drinking and driving, then she has no business being VP let alone President. That is just how the GOP's would act if the tables were turned.

    GOP's - quit crying and whining about the media being at fault for McCain's negative coverage. If McCain didn't want negative publicity, then HE should NOT have been negative towards Obama, old John created his own negative publicity. Because McCain considered changing parties after Bush and Fallwell degraded him and Cindy so bad in 2000, I was shocked when McCain became so brutally and without merit negative towards Obama. The media is bad only when it doesn't report in favor of the GOP's views. The media coverage is always about soldiers supporting the corrupt Bush war in Iraq, where is the FAIR coverage for the soldiers who realize their idiot Commander in Chief lied and started a corrupt war? There are lots of soldiers who feel that way, I have talked to them. Where is their coverage Oh whiny cry-baby Republicans? Where is the media coverage about our military women who are getting raped by the gang-bangers who have enlisted in the military? Bush Administration keeping that quiet and bullying the news networks, like when Dan Rather got fired for simply inquiring about the gaps in Bush's national guard records. Why are gang-bangers enlisting in the military? - who else wants to fight a corrupt war? How are gang-bangers being able to enlist? - military requirements have been dropped because new recruits and RE-enlisting numbers have plummeted. For Bush to start a war off lies and not be held accountable, furthermore then getting RE-elected after all his lies, corruption, and ever embarrassingly stupid speeches, is truly beyond comprehension and a warped sense of Patriotism. Along comes McCain who supports Bush's corrupt war and wants to become president - unbelievable. A true insult to the service of veterans especially the vets who never returned home. The audacity to have a 3rd Bush term!

    Fear Itself

    Several years ago, I was walking through my local airport with a business associate, we were on our way to Salt Lake City. We could see a report airing on the CNN airport monitors about some potential terrorist threat - people in the airport seemed visibly nervous. I stopped for a moment and turned to my associate and told him: "you know, I'm sick and tired of being assailed from all sides about things that I'm supposed to be afraid of. Since when have American's EVER been afraid of anything, why now, why are we scaring ourselves witless?"

    My friend wasn't sure whether he was supposed to answer my rhetorical question or not, looked at me absently and we proceeded to the gate, the issue unresolved. Ever since that moment, I dedicated myself to one simple resolution - I was not going to allow myself to be overtaken by blind mindless fear, or manipulated into supporting actions against my better judgment to satsify any national paranoia that might be sweeping the airwaves at any given moment. I suppose I might have come to that conclusion sooner, but my career had kept me so busy that I seldom paid much attention to current events in those early years after 9/11.

    As the 2008 election has unfolded, it's become clearer and clearer to me that it has manifested itself into a study in Fear, Paranoia and for lack of a better term, ignorance. At this point, everyone on all sides of the spectrum appears to be afraid of something:

    • Racists are afraid of Obama.
    • Liberals are terrified of Palin.
    • All of us afraid of losing all of our money in a new Depression.
    • Ethnocentrists are afraid of Islam
    • Conservatives are afraid of the Tests that Joe Biden predicted for Obama.
    • Joe the Plumber is afraid that Democrats will raise his taxes.
    • Both parties are afraid of Putin.
    • Michele Bachmann is afraid that Congress is unAmerican.
    • Both parties are afraid that voter fraud will steal the election.
    • The presidential debate commission is afraid to let candidates answer actual questions rather than delivering talking points.
    • Millions of ordinary Americans are afraid to engage in civil discourse with one another on any political issues.
    The last time our nation was this polarized and dysfunctional we fought a civil war. And fear was at the root of that conflict as well. When the mechanics of rational discourse are torn asunder, and fear-mongering and hate become the primary messages being conveyed within the marketplace of ideas, then the very system our nation rests on becomes vulnerable.

    There is only way to combat this communication breakdown, this temporary loss of national sanity and that is to stand up firmly and reject FEAR, in all of its forms - right now.

    For forty years or more, this nation lived with the daily potential threat of nuclear annihilation in a cold war that came dangerously close to turning hot on more than one occasion. We survived those decades without diving into a continuous mindless hysteria, we can certainly face our current situation and the future with the determination and courage that our parents and grandparents demonstrated. After 9/11, people were shocked and shattered and fear crept into the hearts of us all - yet how did we forget so soon that just 50 years prior, London and later Berlin and Tokyo were being fire bombed with 100,000's of civilians killed. War is scary, terrorism is scary but the ability to stand tall in the face of adversity is the ultimate test of our national mettle. It's time we started proving that we can react to something other than fear.

    It's time for us to face our fears, and stamp them back down to those dark corridors where they belong. For those who have built political careers fostering and exploiting fear as a weapon to win votes and pass legislation, your time is over. America is a study in courage, we may have forgotten that for a brief moment, but this will only serve to strengthen our resolve for future generations.

    I reject FEAR, itself and I hope you do too...

    Copyright 2008, Stephen Lahanas

    gotta thank Dr.J yet again, for really peaking my interest in a few things about political ads. but, amazingly enough, i’m more intrigued not by of what the ads say but how they say it.

    it’s the little things that mean a lot: obama, in shirtsleeves, energetically pacing a stage while making a speech. designed perhaps to depict a vigor that his GOP opponent doesn’t match in his ads? in the latest ad from the RNC, the soundtrack “music” is downright menacing as the voice over questions obama “experience” while the video depicts an empty chair in what appears to be the Oval Office…the harmonics actually provoked a physical reaction of discomfort for me. just what they had hoped, i’m sure.

    the marketing bag of tricks just absolutely astounds me. lighting coloration, the timbre of the voice over…camera angles, the iconic nature and symbolism used in campaign logos…wowee! it’s amazing! words of fewer than 3 syllables. “obama bad.” “mccain same.” frankly, i long ago gave up thinking anything actually said in a campaign ad was particularly valid in trying to determine anything about the candidate.

    image, image, image…and the creation of the “mythical” (this one I have to give to joseph campbell) obama as the energetic, vibrant, smart yet sensitive young hero with michelle, his trusted equal/soulmate partner and the trusted, wise “advisor” biden. mc cain as the benevolent, comforting king john with beautiful queen cindy and the spunky princess sarah…gotta love it.

    it’s lord of the rings without shadowfax. and that’s too bad. reagan and lbj were onto the horse factor…hmmm…the horse thing seems to work well, how can we get these guys on or near a horse?

    to Linda Oct. 15, 6:18PM

    Let's see, you agree with Obama that a 'club' or PARTY may set a rule that results in a State's citizens being denied a vote in their PARTY's national-nomination election, that the State had to pay for?

    So, N. Californians are just as blond as S. CA.?

    To make a rule that one State's votes has priority over another State's votes is Un-American! It is ASSernine!

    If the right to vote is so unimportant that American Citizens don't care that 'rules' are made to go-around The Constitution, then our country will fall, as Nader has been saying, for decades.

    Oh! Do you care that $700 billion was demanded be pain in 48 hrs. in unmarked bills, but there were no plans on how to use the money? A month after the 48 hrs, & they are just coming up with MAKING the largest banks take $250 Billion!

    Talk about a 'blond' plan!

    Thanks for your NO vote for My denied vote!

    Billy Bob, Forgotren Florida

    The personal attacks by the republican propaganda machine calling liberals anti-american is criminal.
    Liberals want this country to be a place run by the people and for the people not a country run by a dictator for the vested interests of the rich and greedy. There is nothing conservative about what the republicans have been doing for the last eight years. Their lies, wasteful spending and support of an occupation based on false pretense are documented.
    It is the republicans who hate this country and are trying to destroy it.
    Open up your eyes and see what the republicans have done to this country in the last eight years.
    The republicans are not conservative! They are fascists who are undermining the constitution of the United States. They are spending us into poverty and destroying our quality of life.
    The republicans are known for their lies and deceit.
    Do not let lies destroy our country.

    Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson has been on your show a number of times. She is an intelligent woman, but she seems to put me off, as she did again this week.
    Her comments about the Bush push to privatize Social Security accounts, although accurate at face value, ignores the fact that a large sum of money would have been put in the same hands that brought us this financial meltdown. She goes on to say she is offended by the implication that seniors would have lost some of their money had this occurred, but seniors wouldn't be eligible for the affected accounts. She states, "But you can't say legitimately that current seniors would have been affected by it at all." Really, who can predict what would have been dreamed up once such a large sum of money was made available? To believe nothing unethical would have occurred seems overly gullible to me, given the latest revelations.
    Regarding the exposure of McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal, Dr. Jamieson implies the fact is unimportant, as it has to relative bearing on how he may rule today. After all, he stated, "it was the worst mistake of his life." Again Dr. Jamieson makes an assumption. Because of this claim, that must mean Mr. McCain learned from his mistake. How do we know his comment wasn't referring to the fact that he got caught, rather than lamenting his actual involvement in the ordeal? Personally, I want a president who understands ethical behavior. Past digressions carry character implications. This should be brought to light, as it influences my judgment of this, or any, candidate. It may be of no consequence for Dr. Jamieson, but others may see it differently.
    The last point is the most important, because it leads to a suggestion for a future guest. During the discussion of what the candidates real intentions are regarding payroll tax reductions, Mr. Moyers said, "I thought that was the moment that illuminated the possibility of a real debate." Dr. Jamieson followed with, "And at that moment we should have stopped the debate, and we should have said, "'All right, let's look at--' because there's a question on the table about Social Security and Medicare."
    Apparently neither of you is aware of the influence of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). This bipartisan agency establishes a "Memorandum of Understanding" between the two parties, concerning the rules of engagement, weeks ahead of the debate. We would know these limitations if the CPD released the terms of the memorandum ahead of time, but they refused to make the terms public.
    I suggest you invite George Farah, author of No Debate on to the show to cover this very important topic. His website is We need to expand the debate process, and George is the man to explain the problems and solutions. He is an articulate young man who can shed light on this important subject.
    In closing, I respect Dr. Jamieson's opinion, but she talks in absolutes, as though she is the ultimate authority. This is not the demeanor of an academic. Confidence is one thing, arrogance quite another. I may be reading her wrong, but this is not a one-time impression. Subtle clues show up. When you thanked George Soros for being on the show, he replied, "pleasure." Most guests have some similar shared appreciation. Dr. Jamieson's response was, "You're welcome." I guess we should all feel honored. I, for one, didn't feel graced by her presence.

    Seattle, WA

    Partisanship, etc. and the Truth
    Ms. Jamieson,
    Can the foundation you work for “fact check” whether Joe Wurzelbacher in Toledo Ohio really wants to buy the company he works for? Joe is 34, has worked as a plumber for the last 15 years, yet doesn’t have a license (like working in a hospital but not being a doctor). The company he wants to buy “nets” over 250K per year. In the past couple of years Joe may not have had much trouble getting a loan to buy a 250K house (not anymore, sigh) but buying a business- well, you just can’t use the business itself as collateral. Maybe he’s not going to take out a loan but pay cash? Please let us know whether Joe’s company is entertaining an offer from Joe. This all appears like the latest reincarnation of Ronald Reagan’s Voodoo Math.

    Have a great trip while gas is affordable Allenwrench. Look out for tarballs. Remember- You could have voted absentee ballot. Seems like you'd oppose drilling in your divespots. I never said peak oil was bunk, just that we can overcome it with sustainable means.

    Whether Grady is right and peak oil is 'snake oil' I can't say.

    But might as well make use of the relatively low gas prices and hit the road.

    I'm getting my RV out of mothballs and packing my gear. Gas is $2.70 to $2.80...I'm outa here. Heading for FLA for some diving and am making the pilgrimage to the freshwater springs

    Hope to be back by gobbler time and if gas is still priced right will pack up for a road trip to UT, Moab and some rockcrawling.

    Good luck with figuring out which political deity we need to run things.

    ...and don't forget to plan you dive and dive your plan!

    To Billy Bob,
    If you all broke the rules in Florida, that's your problem. We didn't break any rules here in Northern California.

    Linda M.

    Thank you KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON for a refreshing discussion with Bill Moyer. You have helped me find balance in the process and awakened my understanding.

    I can't blame the inadequacy of tonight's Frontline about McCain and Obama on Moyers. In avoiding controversy it stated almost nothing new or insightful. Faint praise is a technique of communicating a "no confidence" position. That is how I took it. But Frontline performed as a faint shadow of its formerly informative self. It illustrated again how something is sorely amiss with American media in this peculiar election. Something actually stinks.
    My overall take is that extraordinary action and attention is called for on the part of the citizenry no matter what the ensuing outcome or events. So many questions vital to the general welfare and the rule of law remain unanswered or unexamined that I can't help but fear even inquiring voters are being kept in the dark. How can one say for sure what one is not being told?

    Mr. Moyers:

    How can you be offended by something that is essentially the same thing that you do on your show every week?

    The Keating/McCain matter is an important part of McCain's past. For you and Kathleen Hall Jamieson to imply otherwise is simply wrong.

    Remember how we used to parade the reformed drug dealers and addicts at the junior highs? Police DAREd call them buddies and McRuff sniffed their panties.

    I was just wondering: Wouldn't Bill Ayers make a terrific Homeland Security Czar. He's intelligent, rich and experienced. It works in Wall street regulation... I think?

    BB (for brains): I love me some Obama, he'd look so good right down there in panhandle Florida, talking to a wild white girl. Who is it you are attracted to Billyboy, Hillary, or Denny Crane (John McCain) in a spring dress? Boo hoo hoo, fell and bent your voter. Sarah Palin kissit, make it all well. I heard Katherine Harris dumped you. That's good.

    to Linda M. Oct 13, 5:47PM
    The Democratic National Club or Party-whatever- may hide behind a legis. act, but when the club, school, party, takes fed. & state funds then private 'club' rules no longer apply.

    State funds paid for the nomination-election in Florida, but, because the republican's moved the date for the Florida election, the DNP said Fla. votes would not count, and your man, Obama, concurred, approved, agreed that Fla. votes could NOT count.

    Is that the standard N. Calif. sets? If the legislature enacts a rule that interfears with a state paying for & holding elections for a club or party, when The Constitution sets forth the Rights of States to determine how elections are run within that state, even with federal supervision? End run rules are OK in your state?

    Billy Bob, S. Florida

    I have to take issue with what Kathleen Hall Jamieson said on your October 10th show about smear campaigns. While it's true that the Ayers business is simply nonsense, I believe that the Keating Five story is completely relevant today. His profuse apologies notwithstanding, Senator McCain was involved in a sleazy operation that ultimately cost taxpayers a lot of money (maybe not compared to the $850 billion tab we have now, but still a lot).

    McCain has been a champion of deregulation his whole public career, and deregulation is what got us in our present predicament.
    Obama, by contrast, is guilty of nothing vis-à-vis Bill Ayers.

    Ms. Jamieson is guilty of offering one of those false equivalencies Paul Krugman has been talking about.

    I always enjoy watching Jamieson on Moyers' show, but it's like scraping fingernails on a blackboard every time she says "problematic." As a Ph.D., she should know problematic does not mean filled with problems. "Problematic" means filled with doubts. Think of this proper use of problematic: "The future is problematic," meaning it is doubtful. Her usage use won't fit because she can't see into the future.

    I was very disappointed in Dr. Jamieson's discussion of "dirty politics". Comparing the Keating Five scandal to Barack Obama's association with William Ayers is comparing apples to oranges. John McCain was part of the Keating Five scandal. He lobbied to push back regulation of the Lincoln Savings and Loan after receiving favors from Keating. Regretting that he took part does not absolve him of guilt, and he has continued to oppose most attempts at regulations in the financial sector. Barack Obama served on a board with William Ayers and participated in functions that Ayers also participated in, but he was not involved in any of Ayers' activities as a Weatherman. In fact, he has spoken out against Ayers' past radical activities, and has only supported Ayers' work in the education arena.

    In addition, Dr. Jamieson's comments about Social Security are just plain wrong. She said that if Social Security had been privatized before the current economic crisis, no one would have lost money because the Social Security dollars would have been invested in instruments that are outside of the current failing market. I would love to know what instruments those are, because I'd like to invest in them, and I'm sure the rest of your viewers would too.
    This was the first time on Bill Moyers' Journal that I have seen attempts to present a "balanced" view at the expense of the truth, a practice that has made the mainstream media such a poor source of good information. Let's hope we do not see any more of this in the future.

    I do not believe Dr. Jamieson is biased but what I do see her, as well as others in the media doing, is continuing to compare apples to oranges. There is no comparison between the Keating Five Scandal and Senator Obama's association with Bill Ayers. McCain acted unethically, period! This kind of logic is dangerous as it blurs the line between what is truly unethical, and what is not. No campaign is without it's share of exaggeration, spin and lies, but whenever I hear people say, "both parties have acted poorly, or both parties are at fault" I say to myself that may be true, but the preponderance of the evidence has shown that time and time again the Republican party has engaged in illegal activity which has put the American people in great peril both economically and socially.

    As an Obama supporter I've never been under the illusion that he is anything but a human being, who has and will make mistakes, but I certainly have not seen him, nor the Democratic Party, engage in the kind of criminal negligence that I've seen the Republican's engage in over the past 8 years. I only have to remind myself of the lie that the Republicans told the American people in order to get us to go to war. That lie has cost us countless human lives, valuable resources and our credibility in the world. And now they want me to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin, both of which have been investigated for unethical behavior? Thanks, but no thanks!!!! I'll take my chances with the so called arab, terrorist, ex-homosexual, black guy.

    Linda M
    Northern California

    I was disappointed in Dr. Jamieson' analysis of the 'ice cream cone' LBJ ad.

    The facts in the case were:
    -LBJ supported an ATMOSPHERIC test ban, Goldwater did not
    -The greatest concern then was radioactive fallout from the tests, and for tests conducted in remote areas, the strontium-90 amplification in milk and the affinity of this isiotope for bones made it a legitimate concern, esspecially for the health of children.

    Clearly Dr. Jamieson thought the use of the child was overboard and emotive, but didn't this ad dramatize the facts of the case? She didn't choose to evaluate the facts, rather simply claimed it offensive.

    The Presidential debate (pick whatever debate you please)

    Moderator: “Our first question is on the economy. Senator #1, Can you tell us what you would to fix things?”

    “Well, it’s obvious we’ve got a problem. And I have a plan to restore confidence in the system; to provide a strong dollar, lower taxes, and create jobs. But let me also say this: the American system is the greatest in the world.”

    Moderator: “Senator #2, same question.”

    “Well, first, let me say it’s clear that many have lost confidence. But again, this is an issue on which we fundamentally disagree. The first step, I believe, is to lower taxes in order to create jobs which, as I see it, will create a strong dollar and generate confidence in the system.”

    Moderator: “Turning now to national defence: How do you see the future of America in the world, and what will be you foreign policy? Senator #1?”

    “America is the greatest nation in the world. But we must remain strong, because no one can underestimate the threat posed by a few hundred renegades holed up a cave on the other side of the world. At any moment, they could launch an attack which could destroy this country in an instant. But let me emphasis this: fear is not the answer. We will not be held hostage by terrorists. Therefore we will win. Because America is the greatest country in the world, and I’m proud to be an American.”

    Moderator: “Senator #2, how do you see it?”

    “Well, now here I think we must all agree. The United States of America has been, is, and will always remain the greatest country in the world. And I’m determined to keep America safe from these terrible threats we face. But unlike my opponent, I think that, in order to do this, we must have a strong foreign policy.”

    Moderator: “Now we have a question an Email question from a former serviceman. He asks, In these tough economic times, what will you do to support the troops? Senator #2, you first, this time.”

    “First, let me say, Thank you for your service. Our servicemen and women are the best in the world. And I’m committed to do everything I possibly can to support our troops, both abroad, and when they come home.”

    Moderator: “Senator #1?”

    “Yes, supporting our troops is absolutely essential. And I think it needs to be said, that the American people owe a great debt to those who serve. Let me just add that I don’t think that our brave men and women who serve are given the gratitude that they certainly deserve. So, let me just say, Thank you for all that you do.”

    Moderator: “Now one final question, just to wrap things up: Senator #1, can you tell us why you would make the best President?”

    “It’s quite simple, really. I am good and my opponent is evil.”

    Moderator: “And you, Senator #2?”

    “Now this is another one of the issues on which we fundamentally disagree. The truth is that he’s bad, and I’m good.”

    I popped in just to check whether as many viewers were as disappointed as I in Ms. Jamieson's latest exhibition of False Balance Syndrome. Am pleased to see the groundswell. But the ad hominem invective in some of these posts only gets in the way of helping her acknowledge the affliction and attempt recovery.

    Many people are not aware of the fact that there is a current legal suite filed against Obama and the DNC demanding proof of citizenship for the privilege to run for Presidential office. The case is moving forward although Obama's lawyers have asked for a dismissal to avoid an inquiring phase. The case currently sits in the hands of a Judge...if you read the facts...there is a legitimate case to be made. We the people need to put pressure to ensure we are correctly informed and have valid candidates when we vote November 4th. For more information on the case visit: WHAT YOU CAN DO 1 (EASY) - Sign the petition and automatically send representatives emails *NEW* Stop the Obama Constitution Petition

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s clumsy attempt to absolve John McCain of guilt in the Keating Five scandal is far below the journalistic standards of the Bill Moyers’ Journal. The record is clear–John McCain did participate along with four other Senators in an attempt to intimidate top officials of Federal Home Loan Bank Board and to force them to drop the case against Charles Keating.

    Luckily one of those officials was Bill Black, Director of Litigation at the Home Loan Bank Board. Unlike many of his colleagues, Bill Black did not cave and refused to bow to the pressure of the five Senators carrying water for Keating.

    McCain and the other Senators were fully aware of the impropriety of the meeting. As a precaution, they prohibited Black from bringing a tape recorder. The Senators did not realize that Black was adept at shorthand. He had a virtually verbatim account of the meeting much to the sorrow of McCain and the other four Senators.

    It was an open secret that among the Senators, it was McCain who was closest to Keating. And that paid off for McCain. Among other favors McCain enjoyed expense paid trips on Keating’s plane to the Bahamas.

    Bill Black, now a professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, has written a book on the savings and loan collapse “The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One”

    Jake Lewis
    Former senior staff member
    House Banking Committee
    Investigation of S&L Scandals

    About McCain's weekend defense of Obama in the face of weeks of race- baiting by his campaign:
    Read THE MOMENT, by John Cory, at

    A quote from the article:
    "This is not a moment for you to be proud of in this campaign. Garnering credit for coming to the defense of Senator Obama is like an arsonist claiming heroism for saving lives after having set fire to the building in the first place."

    One should give him credit for the late apology, provided once the tactic may no longer be used without unintended reaction?

    I also take issue with Kathleen Hall Jaimeson's apparent finding of equivalence between the McCain campaign's association of Barack Obama with William Ayres and the Obama campaign's bringing up McCain's role in the Keating 5 scandal. Jaimeson seemed to suggest that the Keating 5 scandal had no relevance to the present race because McCain had repented of the offense.

    I believe that it does have relevance. The GOP and the McCain campaign consistently present John McCain as an unblemished saint. During the convention Fred Thompson stated that McCain had never failed a test of honor. Even when recounting McCain's horrifying experiences as a POW, Thompson conveniently omitted the fact that McCain eventually signed a war crime confession drafted by the North Vietnamese, for which he acknowledged great shame. Far more disturbing to me is McCain's shameful treatment of his first wife during her recovery from a devastating auto accident - a period in McCain's life which is almost never reported upon.

    Senator McCain has expressed shame for his confession, he assumed blame for the dissolution of his first marriage and he has drawn important lessons from the consequences of his Keating 5 role, but his ongoing behavior in the campaign leaves critical questions about the quality of his instincts and his operational rather than his represented integrity.

    During your last show I found Kathleen Hall Jamieson's comparison of the Keating 5 scandal to the hateful message of the McCain/Palin campaign the worst kind of media equivalency. Keating 5 is a legitimate critique of McCain's economic policy and history as a candidate. That he did not change his ways and demand regulation of markets shows that he did not truly learn from the debacle. This is relevant today because his nearly three decades in the Senate have been all about deregulation--a major contributing factor in the present economic meltdown occurring during this election.

    McCain/Palin's accusations are baseless and are also leading to calls for the killing of Obama at their speeches. McCain's Keating 5 past is not leading to death threats. These are not equivalent and suggesting that is irresponsible. If voters consider Keating 5, McCain will simply lose an election. However, McCain/Palin are flaming insupportable accusations that could lead to Obama's assassination. How are these the same?

    They are not comparable. I'd expect this kind of shallow equivalency from much of the media, but expect more from the Journal.

    The TRUTH! You can't stand the UNCLASSIFIED TRUTH!

    The war in Iraq had little to do with Iraq.
    SHOCK & AWE was for Saudia Arabia & Egypt, which supplied the terrorist for 9-11, whether directly or indirectly. Oh, yes, our need for oil from Saudia Arabia was the reason we could not deal directly with the major offender & Egypt had helped with the Isralie issues, so we needed their continued help.

    So, let the offending countries see what may be in store if they allow attacks on American soil again. There have been none--so there!

    At least that makes some
    sence to me. Other wise--I don't know.

    Bill Moyers,

    I'm not so sure about your frequent guest, Kathleen Hall Jaimeson. During your last show she was finding equal numbers of campaign tactics to criticize from both sides (her role in life) She said that it was unfair of McCain to criticize Obama for the acts of Bill Ayers 40 years ago, that Obama had condemned. Good point. Then, in order to appear fair and balanced, she criticized the Obama campaign for bringing up the Keating Five. She said that McCain had apologized for that, and learned from the mistake. Excuse me? He's had a long career after the Keating Five in which he continued to be a big time deregulator. He didn't learn anything. Jaimeson says that McCain learned so much from the Keating Five scandal, that he went on to craft McCain/Feingold and work against earmarks. What do earmarks and campaign finance reform have to do with deregulation?

    @Vicki, October 11, 2008 12:29am

    Neither McCain nor Palin has ever accused Obama of being a terrorist or enemy of America. At a recent rally, McCain even corrected a supporter on that issue. And McCain has never encouraged anyone to kill another senator--not Obama or anyone else.

    As to your perception that Bill Moyers is no longer an honest commentator: You are politically on the left; Moyers is also on the left but not as far as you, so you see him as being either on the right or dishonest. Just because someone is not as biased as you are does not make him dishonest.

    BTW, Bill Moyers' Journal is just that--a journal--Moyers' personal notes in video form; we would expect his journal to be biased in favor of his political point of view. Also remember that Moyers is an old-time Texas Democrat--not an Illinois Democrat or a California liberal.


    It's too bad that you don't want to know what proposed programs will be changed due to the economic crisis.

    You claim the programs will go through enormous changes before any become funded or law; that's true, but you're missing the point that there might not be any programs if we enter a depression.

    BTW, hypothetical questions are accepted in debates, and the purpose of the debates is the help us decide whom to elect. In a better world, the candidate who would say "none of my programs could be implemented if we were to enter an economic depression" would be deemed the most responsible and consequently elected.

    Neither candidate would say that. In a better world, we could disqualify both candidates for "rhetorical irresponsibility," but such is not the case.

    @Margaret Bodley

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson is not doing a "disservice" to Bill Moyers' program.

    Although she is on the left politically, her comments are true an informative. And anyone who's seen her many appearances on the Journal and other PBS programs can see that Jamieson is a liberal and a feminist. The idea that she is a Republican conservative is just silly. If you perceive a conservative bias in Jamieson, it's only because her bias is not as strongly toward the left as yours.

    However, it is easy to admit that Jamieson stretches the concept of non-partisan balance to its limits in her comments; that's her job. I turn away when it gets to painful to watch.

    Believe it or not, in 1972 you didn't need a ticket to attend a rally for a presidential candidate.
    During that year, I attended rallies for Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace.
    While Humphrey and Nixon's rallies were garden variety political events, Wallace's was far from that. Wallace used fear and hate to generate a level of anger among his supporters that verged on mob rule. He painted his opponents as un-American and not to be trusted.
    Wallace avoided issue-based solutions and blamed all of America's problems on his opponents' behavior and associations.
    As I watched Governor Palin's Wilmington, Ohio rally on local tv and listened to the fear-based assault she made on her party's opponent, memories of Wallace's 1972 rally came rushing back.

    Dear Bill,

    I've just logged on to this blog tonight after watching Kathleen Hall Jamieson's segment on your show, and I'm surprised to see so many negative comments about her. In fact, the whole reason I wanted to join the blog tonight was to sing her praises. She offers, I believe, an honest effort at impartiality and a shrewd (and for me, riveting) analysis of current political rhetoric.

    Look, I'm a democrat; I'm voting for Obama. But it seems to me a kind of madness to suggest that his campaign can't be criticized. Is it only fair to "speak truth to power" when your side is on the short end of the stick?

    And while it's true that I haven't read KHJ's books, I find it very hard to believe she has some secret Republican political agenda. (And if you want to talk about false equivalences, comparing KHJ to a Republican pundit spouting "talking points" is simply absurd.) Call me naive if you want, but right now she'll remain a hero of mine.

    Please keep her voice on your show, Bill. I think it would be a shame to lose such a measured and discerning presence. We have so few such personas left in America.

    I agree totally with Paul Panza's remarks. And further ... it is more difficult than it should be in this day of hyper media access to know where any of these guys truly stand on the issues. The debates are interesting theater but they're all trying to please the crowd that is currently in front of them so you can't really be sure if you're hearing what is really in their hearts & minds. And let's face it ... at this particular point in time it has become increasing difficult to TRUST any of them. I spend my time trying to find impartial presentations of their intentions, to listen to arguments on both sides and as time has gone on, I find myself watching CSPAN more and more because there are no talking heads filtering and spinning what I listening to. I don't care about nor do I listen to either sides campaign commercials because I know that they're both throwing mud at each other and seeing what will stick. And just quickly for the record since this post is falling under the auspices of Ms. Jamieson's appearance on your show ... my husband and I always enjoy the segments that she's on because we find her as close to impartial as a commentator can be. I've noticed some criticism of her on this blog as being transparently Republican. I don't see that at all and I'm a registered Democrat. Now ... if you really want to experience transparently Republican ... check out Rush Limbaugh.

    To say the candidates on both sides stretch the truth is to make an understatement. The simple fact is half-truths, gross exagerations, and factual omissions are all the same thing - lies. At least that's what we try to teach our children! We have become accustomed to and comfortable with, media coverage that becomes more National Enquirer-like each year. Sensationalism sells in this country. The issues, not so much. The smearing by both parties diminishes all of us and what this nation is supposed to stand for. Do the ends justfy the means? Hardly.

    I will admit, that as time passes and the rush for the presidency heats up, Ms Jamieson comes across as more and more biased. There was a time when she appeared to show no favoritism, but if you look at the last few programs with her - it becomes extremely obvious who her candidate of choice is - and how well she knows to use subtle manipulation of words to get her choice promoted. Every time she is on - it gets more blatant.

    It is time, at least until the elections are over, to get someone with less bias and a more discerning eye. Unless, of course, by showing bias with her you are trying to dissuade others resentment at being told truths? Or - do you make a profit on her books - Nawwwwwwwwwwww........? o.0

    Remember - not everyone who is impartial has written a book.

    Bill Moyers, my hero, what's wrong with you? Kathleen Hall Jamieson is a blight on your usual toughness, honesty, and clarity. Ditch her!

    This letter, dated Oct 8, 2008, from our DFW Catholic Bishops is being read at masses across Dallas. Please READ this on your show..


    A few exerts:

    Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate's position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:
    a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or "abortion rights," a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,
    b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no "truly grave moral" or "proportionate" reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

    To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.

    6. In conclusion, as stated in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the decisions we make on these political and moral issues affect not only the general peace and prosperity of society at large, but also may affect each individual's salvation. As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. With knowledge of the Church's teaching on these grave matters, it is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to educate ourselves on where the candidates running for office stand on these issues, particularly those involving intrinsic evils. May God bless you.


    My main complaint about Ms. Jamison's comments is that she only focused on TV ads and failed to discuss all the nasty stuff being done to suppress the votes of Democrats. If you want to talk dirty politics, how about the numerous fliers sent to poor and ethnic neighborhoods directing people to go to the wrong polling place or on the wrong day? How about the misleading robocalls and push polls? How about caging? How about voter purging? How about dropping votes from machines that are made and programmed by Republican supporters? Why don't you have Robert Kennedy, Jr and Greg Palast on to talk about real dirty politics?

    IMHO, Ms. Jamison's barely concealed rage act, in the guise of fairness and balance, is getting old and stale. I would like to see a more interesting commentator, or at least a wider variety of regulars.

    Mr. Moyers, I cannot believe that you have done it again. I wrote you some months ago about the disservice Kathleen Jamison is doing to your program. My trust in you as a fair and unbiased reporter has been forever altered. You sat there silently and let Ms. Jamison spew untruths right and left. She equated the two presidential candidates equally as playing dirty politics when everyone with a brain has seen that McCain’s ads and his speeches are far dirtier than Obama’s. They don’t even come close. The first clue I had that she is a republican is when she chose the social security ad that Obama’s campaign uses. Firstly, that ad is accurate and may encourage seniors to vote for Obama. Ms. Jamison obviously doesn’t want that so she tries to discredit the ad. The most troubling part is that you sat there and said nothing. Throughout the program, if you were astute, you could see her bias. Lastly, she is at the Annenberg Center and that is republican sponsored so she does not want to loose her funding. If you continue to have her on your show you will erode your own credibility. I was so pleased to see other comments to this effect. The question is, are you going to do something about it? If not, I suspect you will loose a lot of viewers and you will have lost the respect of a whole generation of people.

    Margaret Bodley

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    I thought Ms. Jamieson failed to name the extreme deceptiveness, maliciousness, and inflammatory nature of McCain's and Palin's campaign during the past two weeks. There is little equivalency between their campaign and Obama's and Biden's campaign of late. To fail to name the insidious effects of McCain's and especially Palin's rant that results in crowds shouting "treason," "terrorist," and "kill him!" is irresponsible on both Ms. Jamieson's part and your part as interviewer. Republicans and Democrats alike have found this turn in the campaign shocking and a possible danger to Senator Obama's personal safety. Both Governor Palin's and Senator McCain's behavior has been reprehensible, fueling anger and bigotry rather than discussing and contrasting ideas and positions on crucial issues our nation is confronting. That said, I agree that both teams should strive for a high level of honesty and integrity during the campaign.

    I am a flawed human being as we speak, but I am not so flawed that I will support this current administrations lack of management in our countries fiances, military, environment, and most important of all our youths future. God bless you for doing a show that asks important questions about this reality we live in where just because someone tells us something that we have to believe it instead of searching for the truth ourselves. We live in the best place in the world full of marvelous things and a standard of living that everyone wants BUT that can de destroyed in the blink of an eye. It is time to stop calling people who have conscience cowards or liberals--where di we lose the ability to see bad leadership? god bless you for giving different views to America. That is amazing that you can do this still. It would be great if you could do a show outlining FEMA real goals in the United States of Americe.

    Thank You and take care

    Next time you have Kathleen Hall Jamieson on your show, please ask her to respond to the questions raised here. While most journalists are at last seeing that the false "balanced" approach merely rewards the player who is most dishonest and outrageous, Ms. Jamieson does not seem to get it. We'd like to know why she continues down a path of faux fairness that is anything but even handed.

    RE: Kathleen Hall Jamieson


    I have seen you interview her several times, and each time I am astonished that you sit across the table from her as she spews false information. What happens? Do you lose all cognitive abaility?

    John Wolcott, the McClatchy bureau chief accepted the IF Stone award and said:

    "Instead of being members of the Fourth Estate, too many Washington reporters have been itching to move up an estate or two, to become part of the Establishment or share in the good times. I.F. Stone, on the other hand, knew well that reporters, by definition, are outsiders. After Stone died, Pat Oliphant drew a marvelous cartoon of him standing at the gates of heaven, holding a pencil and a notebook. Like all great political cartoons, it says more than words ever could. St. Peter is on the phone to a Higher Authority, and he’s saying: “Yes, that I.F. Stone, Sir. He says he doesn’t want to come in — he’d rather hang around out here, and keep things honest.”

    Being an outsider, a gadfly, a muckracker, isn’t always as much fun as being an insider, a celebrity journalist on TV and the lecture circuit. Worse, in these troubled economic times for the news media, it makes enemies, sometimes powerful ones, and it can offend readers, advertisers — and, as conditions in our business continue to worsen — potential employers in public relations and other industries… .

    Relying on The Times, or McClatchy or any other news source, for all the truth is dumb, but it’s infinitely preferable to the pernicious philosophical notions that there is no such thing as truth, that truth is relative, or that, as some journalists seem to believe, it can be found midway between the two opposing poles of any argument… .

    Does the truth lie halfway between say, slavery and abolition, or between segregation and civil rights, or between communism and democracy? If you quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Winston Churchill, in other words, must you then give equal time and credence to Hitler and Joseph Goebbels? If you write an article that’s critical of John McCain, are you then obligated to devote an identical number of words to criticism of Barack Obama, and vice versa?"

    I cannot watch you interview her again. It is to sad adn embarassing to see you passively allowing her to argue Repbublican talking points unchallenged.

    I was surprised and disappointed that you equated the baseless innuendo and hate mongering exploitation of a tenuous relationship connection between Obama Bill Ayers with the Obama campaign's invocation of the Keating 5 scandal. Resurrecting already investigated and disproven Republican claims about Obama's relationship with Ayers in order to stoke the visceral fears and limbic responses of worried people is unconscionable. Examining the past behavior of McCain in ethical and economic decision making as a predictor of future action is imperative.

    Your message, and Frank Rich's article, emphasize why it is so important to call the campaigns on their tactics, and to make distinctions between patterns of behavior, as Timothy points out, and an association on a Board.

    Soft-pedaling the McCain - Palin demagoguery is not just unethical journalism if that demagoguery incites hate speech or violence.

    I fully agree with the other posters about the absurdity of Ms. Jamieson’s comparison of Obama’s association will Bill Ayres to McCain’s association with Charles Keating.
    As Frank Rich wrote in his column in Saturday’s N.Y. Times :
    “Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.
    What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin.
    The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.”

    After seeing Palin and McCain whip the crowds into a frenzy with 'he's not like you and me' - 'he pals around with terrorists' - 'he has lied about his real connection with Ayers' - and witnessing the hatred and division coming back in the form of "kill him" "off with his head", I did not expect for a moment that the Journal would treat this most disturbing matter in a detached, academic and almost dismissive manner by creating an equivalence between the two campaigns. I do not fault Jamieson alone here; you sat there and nodded, Bill, as if it were a mere intellectual or theoretical discussion, like a man without a viewpoint.

    Not only is our country teetering on the edge of an economic precipice, as your first guest explained, it is absolutely clear from all evidence that should McCain get elected (by whatever outrageous means he uses) there truly will be nothing left of this country. He has no ideas, no practical programs and would be a blank slate for the neo-cons and free marketers to deepen their grip on the levers of power and would not only drive us further into the ditch, but the rest of the world as well.

    At a time like this Jamieson is a distraction; she throws up a veil which prevents a rigorously honest appraisal of the underbelly of what McCain is up to. Please listen to your viewers who expect so much more from you.

    ACORN : Voter Fraud or Voter Disenfranchisement?

    They’re at it again, folks. It seems that the only way Republicans feel they can win an election is to prevent votes from being counted-or even better-by preventing voters from voting in the first place. Calling into question every single new voter registration while simultaneously shutting down the Social Security database (for “routine maintenance”) that allows states to verify voter identity would certainly do that.
    But, as Rep. John Conyers, (D-Mich.) and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the senior African-American member of Congress, said, “It’s pretty clear. You’ve got a black candidate for president for the first time. Do you think that the usual attempts to suppress voting among minorities are going to go down and not up? Of course not.” ( MSNBC, “Parties Wage War over Voter Fraud, Intimidation”, Friday Oct. 10) But Obama’s race may have nothing to do with it. Concentrating on the mechanics, on the switches and levers of the voting system, instead of the issues, is a tried and true Republican tactic. And it looks like they’re trying it again.
    “Conventional wisdom” among pollsters is that a large voter turnout will favor Obama, while a small voter turnout will benefit McCain. So it’s to the Republicans’ advantage to keep the pool of potential voters as small as possible by any means necessary. Charges of alleged voter fraud will hamper voter registration, and thus limit the pool of possible voters. Systematic disenfranchisement of voters based on a smear campaign of unproven “voter fraud” will definitely clog the system and render any outcome of the election doubtful. Or in other words, if McCain can’t win it, he’ll steal it.
    These Republican “switches and levers” tactics of clogging the voting system played out in the two previous Presidential elections, most notably in Florida in 2000. “Hanging chad” and uncounted votes were not the only problems facing voters in Florida. The RNC targeted poor, mostly black voters in Florida; these voters were either “expunged” from voter rolls, discouraged from voting at the polling place with stunts reminiscent of the “poll tax” days of the old South, or lied to about the location of their polling place. All of which made for amusing television for the British documentary crew that turned up to film it, but hardly showed off American democracy at its best. Yet the tactic worked. The election did not hinge merely on counting votes; it hinged on preventing voters from voting in the first place. And the Republicans are very, very good at this.
    Remember, the recently Republican controlled Congress were the very people who didn’t want to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Just didn’t think it was important enough. Claimed it “was no longer relevant.” By a curious coincidence, that very same 1965 Voting Rights Act made the above tactics illegal, and voting a civil right, not a privilege to be withdrawn at the whim of a government official who doesn’t like either your race or your party. The 1965 Voting Rights Act is “no longer relevant” to the Republican party because they don’t want Americans to vote. They don’t want you to register to vote because the Republican Party knows that Americans will vote them out of office. And that’s the Republican campaign: Jim Crow in a new sheet.
    It would be a mistake to underestimate the effectiveness of this kind of campaign. McCain isn’t; his own polling data tell him he’s running behind, so he’s already laying the groundwork to legally challenge the election results. Co-chairman of the McCain advisory team in charge of monitoring alleged voter fraud, former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, hinted at post-election lawsuits if Obama wins in November. “The contest could go on for a very long time”. Danforth also said it would be “a nightmare in America” and “a total horror story” if Obama either wins or loses by a small margin “and the losing side believes it has been cheated.” (MSNBC, “Parties Wage War over Voter Fraud, Intimidation”, Friday Oct. 10) Mind you, that “nightmare” is apparently described as “justice” when the Republicans are the victors, as in the contested election that first elevated Bush to the Oval Office. American politics is and always has been a game won not by issues but only by hitting the right switches and levers. And if you can’t win…cheat.
    Unfortunately, it’s the American voters who get cheated. They’re cheated out of their faith in the system…and that faith is the only thing that makes democracy work. Until the election of 2000, when the RNC took the tactics used to disenfranchise minorities in small towns and used them to win a national election, there was a period in the history of the United States where registering to vote was a right. You did it as a ceremonial right of passage into full citizenship; it was your ticket to the glory of participatory democracy. It meant you were an American. And that was that. You stayed registered until you moved, or died. Voting was the definitive right of being an American. Not any more. Now voters fear wholesale “voter purges” of the electoral rolls by local officials who put party affiliation ahead of protecting the right to vote. Senior citizens worry about being turned away from their polling place of forty years because they can’t produce the correct “voter ID”. Voters in the twenty-first century face harassment from registration to polling place…and above all of it hangs the over-arching fear that their vote won’t be counted. McCain and the RNC have gnawed away at the very root of American democracy; they want to remove the American citizen’s unquestioned and hallowed right to vote, and to have that vote count. Now that’s “un-American,” folks.

    I believe there is an enormous hole in Political Communication Theory. I find it wanting that Dr. Jamison focuses on individual communication acts and cannot (or will not) include the patterns of behavior in framing her assessment of the ads concerning Keating Five and William Airs. Her message to viewers seems to be: 'both sets of ads/communiqués depict past events that the subject has repudiated or denied - therefore - bringing the event into the current political debate is unfair and unwarranted.'
    First: denying or repudiating or apologizing does not absolve and does not speak to likely future behavior.
    Yes, the assertion that Senator Obama was associated with Bill Airs is dirty politics, but not because it distorts a past event. It is reprehensible because the event is not part of an ongoing pattern. Prof. Airs has built a constructive career. Their relationship was a result of their mutual support for a positive social organization.
    Senator McCain's role in the Keating fraud is part of a documented pattern. Senator McCain's behavior showed a propensity to look favorably on deregulation of financial institutions while accepting financial support to his political career. This behavior extended across many years. Highlighting early events an ongoing and consistent pattern of behavior is not dirty politics! It is an honest and noble act of truth telling.
    I find nothing in Dr. Jamison's assessment that considers the importance and validity of a pattern of behavior. Focusing Dr. Jamison's assessment is misleading and does a disservice to the political debate.

    I disagree w/Ms Jamison's interpretation of the add about privatization of Social Security. There was nothing in the ad that said current recipients would get less money had it passed, and I did not see the implication even after watching the ad several times. And I wonder why that one ad disturbed her so much.

    You cannot ask McCain that question, because he has NO PLANS! He has no proposals. That question only refers to Senator Obama. And we all know it.

    I have a standing date w/Bill Moyer's Fri. show. It is usually wonderful and informative, however, the past two weeks, I have left the show due to the poor and biased presentation of Jamison.
    Mr Soros had soo much great info to relate, its is a pity that Kathleen had to be there...ever.
    It seems I am not alone in my opinion.

    I have always enjoyed listening to Kathleen Hall Jamison. But this week (and for the second time) she was so fixated on this question she and many other journalists want answered. The question as she and others have framed it: what in your program are you will ing to change because of the economic crisis.

    Well I do not need this question answered and I disagree on the framing of the question.

    Look none of this is policy yet, and I am willing to wait to see who is the President before we hear what will be on the chopping block. The programs each candidate has proposed will be go though enormous changes before any become funded or law. What the policies and programs give voters is a window into the candidates values; how they go about proposing legislation; how they would fund those points and an overall leadership style.

    To ask them to pinpoint how they will take an ax to the programs that don't even exist yet seems like Hypothetical exercise in the extreme.
    Plus the fact is the crisis is changing daily. We don't know what the crisis will look like in January. Even the finest minds, economists from all over the world, as well as here at home, are not sure.
    I don't know what the answers will add to the conversation we are supposed to be having about the issues that are important to us, except to discourage people further.
    We, the American voters are looking for two things this election cycle; Leadership in our representatives and a say in how we go forward. I do not want the next president of the United States telling me what is off the table for consideration, before he is even in the position to make that call. I want him to hear from us; let us tell you what is needed out here on the front lines of Life.

    By the way, speaking of military metaphors being used in politics, and campaigns being a kind of warfare, perhaps General Robert E. Lee's comment about politicians and tactics and unrestrained rhetoric carries some revelance: "Politicians," Lee said, "are more or less so warped by party feeling, by selfishness, or prejudices, that their minds are not altogether balanced. They are the most difficult to cure of all insane people, politics having so much excitement in them.

    I thought Kathleen Hall Jamison committed the same type of "dirty campaigning" in a couple of her so called objective comments. She made misleading statements that might lead people to vote in a certain way or support a policy without understanding the real facts. That is what she was accusing both McCain and Obama of doing.

    She made the statement that Social Security was "running out of money." This is just not a factual statement. This is a statement designed to scare people into thinking that some sort of radical change is needed to "save Social Security." This is just not true. If Congress does nothing there will still be enough money to pay all beneficiaries 75% of what has been promised to them. So while it is correct to say there is a projected short fall in Social Security is just flat out wrong and misleading to say that Social Security is going broke.

    Second Ms. Jamison has already reached the conclusion that because of the financial crisis something will have to be sacrificed. If I were Barack Obama I would ask, what did FDR sacrifice during the Great Depression. The answer is nothing. The fact is that the way out of this crisis is to increase spending on public works and infrastructure to put money into the hands of working people who have been living on credit and praying that the increase in the value of their house would take the place of the pensions they lost. Why should working people have to sacrifice to bail out the rich. It is absolutely true that sacrifices will have to be made to get our economy going again so let's make sure the burden of these sacrifices is distributed fairly.

    “Problematic.” At least 3 times I heard that profound assessment by Jamison. How I hate that pompous academic buzzword! It’s one of those over-used $10 dollar words that ought be replaced with a much more plain speaking 50 cent word. Or perhaps it’s really some sort of washing machine mechanical difficulty: but if you have a “problematic,” you can always call a Maytag repairman; of course, that wouldn’t be called a problem anymore, but rather, an “issue.” However, “at the end of the day,” our “thoughts and prayers” are always that such hack-worn buzz words and equally high-sounding buzz phrases eventually will carry no weight whatsoever in the “hearts and minds” of the American people.

    I heard only a brief portion of Ms. Jamieson's segment, but I found disturbing her ill-considered proposition that due to the bailout, the presidential candidates must not make any promises requireing spending. While Ms. Jamieson blamed both candidates for being irresponsible, clearly Barack Obama was the prime target.

    Other than being partisan, Ms. Jamieson is dangerously wrong. In the near term, the government will have to consciously engage in serious deficit spending to help our economy recover. I believe there is no reason to delay infrastructure projects, development of alternative energy sources, and tranformation of our health care system. Each one of these projects will increase employment now, and provide long term benefits. We must also help state and local goverments meet their payrolls, and extend of unemployment benefits to provide immediate relief.

    In the long run we will need to find a way to balance the federal budget. I believe this will require reordering our priorities plus higher taxes on the wealthiest among us. Hopefully we can look beyond the empty claim that the well being of our society and economic growth are hostage to continually lowering top marginal tax rates.

    Now is not the time to give in to deficit hawks.

    Re Kathleen Hall Jamieson's analysis of Obama's ad on Social Security. I found Obama's take right on, contrary to Ms. Jamieson's description as dirty politics. The private accounts favored by Bush and McCain would divert contributions of younger workers to their own private accounts, thus depriving older retirees of monies necessary to pay for their SS retirement benefits. While it would take some time for this to affect current SS recipients, it still would occur sometime in the future. Furthermore, in today's market meltdown, all types of assets have been decimated. That includes bonds as well as stocks. So 1) Jamieson is not correct in saying that certain types of accounts would protect against market melt-down, or 2) that McCain/Bush SS privatization would not have an effect on retirees like myself.

    Your Kathleen Hall Jamieson is entirely too fair minded. After enduring daily attacks on his character from McCain and Palin (and we know that given the American electorate negatives work) and 100% of McCain’s ads being negative, Obama finally goes back to the Keating Five. Contrary to Jamieson’s take, he never said that McCain was most responsible for the crimes, only that McCain is the only one of the five running for President. Keating Five not relevant? I’d agree. But when McCain’s only justification for his own candidacy is slandering Obama, what’s a fella to do?

    As for Social Security, McCain has said future retirees can expect less. Obama never implied that current recipients would be affected. That’s entirely Jamieson’s take on the ad.

    Do I sound like an Obama supporter? I am, but only because I believe a McCain presidency would lead to an entirely undemocratic Supreme Court and the end of our democracy.

    Barbara who posted here has said it for me, and others have, too. But you should know that many people were deeply outraged by Kathleen Hall Jamieson's equation of mention of the Keating Five scandal with association with Bill Ayers. The Keating Five scandal has had only the most cursory mention on MSM while the Ayers “issue” has been hammered daily. There is no equivalency – the $2.6 billion in losses to those S&L customers? Those were real people and McCain was certainly more than an acquaintance of Keating, with whom he enjoyed nine trips at Keating’s expense along with $112,000 in campaign contributions from Keating. And McCain continued to beat the deregulatory drum until just weeks ago. Yes, Keating Five is all relevant, and it does not matter that he “said he was sorry.” McCain’s most recent pal (speaking of “pals”) has been Phil Gramm, his economic guru and favorite midnight legislator. He is one of the chief architects of our financial crisis that threatens to destroy the nation. Why not call GRAMM a terrorist? Bin Laden could never have taken out an entire financial system!
    Oh, sorry! I’m such a whiner.

    KHJ does well finding wrong facts. But the judgement of which lies are "worst" is subjective and she shouldn't get more credibility just because she's good with the facts. Most of these commenters disagreed with her judgement, and Bill Moyers seemed to as well. He should have pressed it. KHJ probably has revealing ideas about predjudiced opinions, though she doesn't seem like somebody who is easy to sway once she's made up her mind.


    About social security: According to Wikipedia, the privatization plan would allow younger workers to invest part of their income in their choice of three funds, one of which is a stock fund. Meanwhile, because of the diversion of ss tax, the government would have to borrow (about 700 billion over 10(?) years) to pay current retirees. The only sure profit is to Wall Street fund managers. The Obama ad fit into the KHJ definition of a legitimate attack- it was a worst case projection, but it is descriptive of how McCain would govern. Moreover, since privatization didn't happen, its hard to imagine that seniors are that scared. McCain favors privatization and cutting benefits over raising SS taxes. How on earth was the Obama ad worse than the systematic, utterly false and rabble-rousing Ayers/Obama/terrorism link?

    Robbie accuses me of "racism" That is absurd. Islam is not a race, and Muslims are not a race. Islam is a belief system; and Muslims are adherents of a belief system. To examine the belief system of Islam has no more to do with racism than examining any other belief system. To make an accusation of "racism" in such case, as Robbie did, is just an intellectually and morally dishonest attempt to squelch discussion. How about some factual arguments instead???


    Re: Jamison segment. I found it interesting and informative to some degree. One of the things that is bothering me about the Keating 5 scandel is that there seems to be no mention of what happened to the savings and investments of all the innocent people that were ripped off. I did read that McCain had to pay back the bribes he received. Hopefully the other 4 senators did too. but did this money go into a fund to help reimburse those people or did it just go into some unnamed coffers for the government. If those people were compensated at least partially that information may go a little way in easing some minds regarding this massive bailout we as taxpayers are going to have to endure.

    As a Canadian watching from a short distance at the way this election is going I can't tell you how disgusted I am. I watch Fox and MSNBC and each has there own agenda. I will tell you that if I could vote it would not be for MCcain that's for sure. America needs more of a change than even Obama can give, America is not looking good at all by the rest of the free world and that dose not bode well for fledgling democracies out there that we hope will be part of the free world. America we all know we can't tell you what to do or not to do but for God sakes do not be blinded by people like Bush or MCcain. Your Country is in a mess because of a man (BUSH) who had a vendetta against Saddam and brought you into a war that should not have happened. You were not in any danger from him, the world is in danger of Osama Binladin and we have not caught him because of this blunder of Bushes by spending all your billions on a war for nothing. Your poor sons and daughters have been put in harms way for nothing.
    Obama seems to be decent, he seems to care, he might not be the best but he is the better of the two.
    America needs to be gentle again, not nieve but more gentle. We all together can fight the evils that are going on together but you need a leader who will be listened to by other leaders. Bush was not listened to so he went it alone and said so in the address to the Union. MCcain will also go it alone and bring the same kind of old world politics. You need someone who can not only reach across the table but also across the ocean. Don't let the Republicans keep you down.
    You are not more patriotic because you are Republican, that's a farce. If you are born in the U.S then you are American plain and simple.

    Carl Goldberg = racism disguised as intellectualism

    Dear President Moyers,

    You still have not invited Candidate Ralph Nader on!

    Why? Is it fear or shame? Because you are a talker and his is a doer...

    PBS is public; we deserve the diversity and quality.

    "To know and no to do is not to know." Chinese proverb.

    I have seen Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Bill Moyers program before but after the interview last night, I feel compelled to comment. According to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Advertising Project, last week almost every ad McCain ran anywhere in the country attacked Obama; a third of Obama's spots were attacks. That is approx. 100% to 33%. With all these negative attacks by McCain against Obama in the form of outright distortions; dividing the country with class warfare; scare tactics, personal attacks, etc., I find it disengenuous of Moyer's guest to attempt to treat the candidates as though they are equal in their negative ads. They are not and there is no comparison. Sen. Obama has tried to run a high minded campaign. Sadly, McCain & Co. appear to be in the gutter. I would appreciate honesty on the matter instead of trying to appear balanced. I am suspect on the real purpose of this program.


    I have been an advid supporter of yours for many years and truly appreciate your insight and guests. Really appreciated Mr. Soros insight last night.

    I watched last night to my horror that neither you nor Kathleen Hall Jaimison took a stand and condemned in the strongest way possible that the hate baiting that the McCain/Palin campaign has engaged in is totally unacceptable in this country - PERIOD!

    Having lived through the 60's and seeing the hate that some in this country are capable of is truly heart breaking. Witnessing via television what hatred sets in motion / riots / assassinations etc. The McCain/Palin campaign has diliberately tried and been successful in tapping this hatred and anger.

    You were more offended by the Keating 5 video (which in my opinion was more about deregulation which McCain supports than his relationship with Keating and is totally on point in our current situation.) I also find it particularly offensive that they try to imply that Obama has some in depth relationship with Ayers when in fact John McCain DID have an in depth relationship with Keating (in addition to the gifts et al, the families vacation together for goodness sake).

    Kathleen was more offended by a misleading ad on social security.

    Though I agree that I want more than anything for both candidates to be honest in their ads and am disappointed in the Obama campaign for this, there wasn't nearly as much 'outrage' at some of the misleading and sometimes outright lies from the McCain side.

    I find Ms. Jamison nasty and difficult to watch. She acts like the Queen of Judgement, delivering harsh decisions as punishment. I have watched you for years, but when I see her I want to turn the television off. Maybe I want to live on Candy Lane--but people who do X, Y, and Z can't be all bad. And her calibration of equal disdain amazes me. Negative ads might work, but negative commentary doesn't.

    Jamieson is an intelligent woman who has given great thought to her work, but I agree that she is arguing a false equivalency regarding the respective “attacks,” as she prefers to put them, on the part of the Obama and McCain campaigns.

    One might be able to argue that Obama’s Keating web-ad crosses a line, but it is at least based on documented fact that is not disputed. McCain was in fact one of the Keating Five and was admonished for his “poor judgment” by the Congress itself, after a formal investigation in which he was given the opportunity to defend himself. It’s not something based on unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo. As Jamieson pointed out, McCain has admitted his involvement and has expressed regret for his conduct. I agree that it might be appropriate to forgive the man and it might have made him more careful about his associations, but there’s little evidence that he learned much from it with respect to the perils of reckless deregulation. I agree that the opening of the ad, which tries all too transparently to be ominous, deserves criticism, but the larger context of the ad is to explain what the scandal was all about and questions to what degree McCain may have actually failed to learn from it. That is relevant to the present. Also, the ad was not the first shot across the bough. That came from McCain, with ads questioning not only Obama’s personal judgment and his political record, which I believe are legitimate areas of examination, but his patriotism and even his American identity.

    It also needs to be remembered that the “attacks” coming from the Obama campaign have not been of a nature that even his own supporters feel compelled to argue that he has crossed a dangerous line and, whatever criticism Obama may be making against McCain, they have not resulted in concerns about McCain’s physical safety. That has not been the case with McCain, about whose “attacks” even some of his fellow Republicans and friends are expressing serious discomfort. This includes John Weaver, a former political strategist and friend to McCain who has publicly stated his concern about the direction McCain’s campaign has taken. The tenor of some of McCain’s rallies has become such that even the Secret Service has felt compelled to investigate possible threats against Obama. They have become such that even McCain has, finally, felt compelled to step up and try to control some of that ugliness that he and Palin have themselves unleashed. That he didn’t see where his previous encouragement of that ugliness would take the campaign does not speak well for his judgment, and I say that as someone who used to have respect for this man.

    Jamieson is a serious student of political campaigns and I appreciate her analysis, but it’s important not to analyze these campaigns in an academic vacuum. That’s where I think she is right now and, disappointingly, Bill did not call her on it.

    Bill, I'm disapointed in your segment with Ms. Jamison on dirty politics. There are too many shades of truth, untruth,lies,disception along with differences in format i.e. blogs, commercials, and finally cantidate statements to equalize, as you and your guest do, Obama's and McCains transgressions. Rehashing the facts, is not dirty pool and their relevence to present circumstances is something that voters can decide on without you or your guests permission. In the final analysis an informed electorate is not in need of a media filter but rather an accurate fact checking that you and your brethren seem unable or unwilling to provide. Once information has been labeled correctly as accurate or inaccurate the voter can draw his own inferences as to the motives behind them. What voters don't need is you or your buddies deciding for us what we can and can not accurately evaluate for ourselves.

    Correspondence with Kathleen Hall Jamieson:
    Dear Dr. Jamieson,

    With great interest, I just watched your interview with Bill Moyers which was broadcast this evening. While I found most of your comments enlightening, I must take issue with your views that a person's being Muslim is neutral and beyond criticism. I know that it is politically correct to say that, but it does not reflect reality. The fact is that, in addition to being a religion, Islam is also an ideology, and not just any ideology, but an ideology which, like communism and fascism, has strong totalitarian and imperialist elements. Just as not all members of the communist party were true believers in the ideology of communism, and just as not all members of the Nazi party were true believers in the ideology of Nazism, so not all Muslims are true believers in the ideology of Islam. Nevertheless, if a person public says that he or she does follow that ideology, we have a right to suspect that person of following that ideology until further evidence proves otherwise.

    Many non-Muslims think that Islam is just another religion like Christianity of Judaism. If that were so, your views about Muslims would be correct. However, religious Muslims are the first to say that Islam is NOT like other religions, that Islam is a complete way of life which organizes all aspects of life. That is what differentiates Islam fundamentally from other religions. This is not my personal opinion; this is the view of all Islamic scholars and religious authorities; and you can easily verify that for yourself.

    In order to give you a basic idea of Islam, I would like to send you four separate emails -- all from Muslim religious sources. Let me assure you that there is a lot more material like this from other Islamic religious authorities. I hope that you will take the ten minutes or so to read the four emails. You will then understand that Islam is, indeed, different from other religions, and that it is, therefore, right and proper to suspect that a Muslim favors the ideology of Islam which, as you will see, is completely incompatible with the principles upon which our country is based. The only way to learn the truth about Islam is to read the Koran, the sayings of Muhammad (called Hadith) and the writings of the most respected Islamic religious authorities.

    Respectfully yours,

    Carl Goldberg, PhD
    From: Kathleen Hall Jamieson
    Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2008 5:01 AM
    Subject: Re: Your interview with Bill Moyers

    Carl, people can subborn religion for their own purposes and many religions have tenets that have been invoked to engage in actions to which I object. I haven't read the Koran since taking theology course as part of my doctoral minor but recall finding passages just as worrisome in it as some in the Old Testament and in the Eastern religions. So you and I disagree. Kathleen
    Dear Kathleen,

    Thank you so much for responding so quickly. I appreciate that.

    We disagree because your equation of nasty passages in the Bible with nasty passages in the Koran is false for two reasons:

    1) If you read the two emails which I sent you from Islamic religious sources about Islam and the Koran, you would see that the Koran (and the hadith) are far more important in the daily lives of religious Muslims than the Bible is for even the most religious Christians and Jews. Christians and Jews have a small set of core beliefs which allow them to retain their identity as Christians or Jews. They do not have to accept anything else that is in the Bible in order to retain their identity. There is a reason why we speak of the "Five Books of Moses", and not the "Five Books of God". We speak of the Gospels of Luke, Matthew, Mark and John, human beings who are considered to be inspired by God, but they are not God. In Islam, it would be blasphemy (punishable by death!) to say that the Koran is the "Book of Muhammad". This fundamental difference in approach to their holy scriptures means that Christians and Jews have much more wiggle room, so to say, for interpreting or even rejecting various passages, than Muslims have. Muslims are not permitted to reject anything at all in the Koran. To do so would be blasphemy because every word of the Koran is considered to be Allah's literal word. Of course, there are many Muslims who simply do not follow the requirements of the Koran and the Hadith in their daily lives; but they do that silently, never criticizing, never openly rejecting. Therefore, the Koran and Hadith will always produce some Muslims who do follow all of those nasty requirements.
    2) The respective nasty passages are not equivalent. In the Bible, the passages of cruelty apply either to the Jews, themselves (like the punishments set forth in Leviticus), or to particular ancient peoples, times and places with no relevance beyond that. The Koran and Hadith, on the contrary, have universal and eternal validity for religious Muslims. Let's look at a few examples- and there are many, many such examples.

    Take that passage from the Koran (in the email I sent you) which says: "It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer." Compare this to the sixth Commandment which says: "Thou shalt not murder." See the difference?
    To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Bible which dehumanizes non-Jews as "the worst of beasts" or the "vilest of creatures" like the Koran calls non-Muslims.
    There is nothing in the Bible which calls for making war on non-Jews or non-Christians. Jews were not interested in converting anyone else to Judaism; and Christians are instructed to "Go forth and preach the Gospel to every living creature." The Koran, by contrast, says "Make war on them until Islam reigns supreme in the world." The hadith by Muhammad which I sent you also says that he has been ordered to fight people until they accept Islam. ALL Muslims are required to take these requirements seriously; MANY of them do.
    Although it may be comforting for us to believe otherwise, the people who take the totalitarian and imperialist ideology of Islam seriously are NOT suborning their religion for their own purposes. The are following their religion closely. It is not a coincidence that ALL Muslim terrorists and their myriad supporters quote the Koran and Muhammad. It is not a coincidence that there is NO countermovement in Islam which deals with those passages from the Koran and Muhammad to show that the Muslim supremacists are wrong. One could say that the Muslims who are suborning Islam for their own purposes are the Muslims who do NOT follow the Koran and Hadith in their daily lives -- because their own purpose is to live a normal life. For fear of being accused of blasphemy, they must do this quietly. There are a very few brave individuals, such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who just assisted in making a new documentary, The Third Jihad; but there is NO MOVEMENT of "moderate Muslims". And, there cannot be.

    Islam, as a belief system has its own set of values which are not compatible with ours. Let me give you the best and most conclusive proof of that. I am sure you are familiar with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which enshrines the most cherished values of our civilization such as freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom from religion, equality of religion, equality of men and women, etc. Are you aware that not a single one of the 57 Muslim countries subscribes to the UDHR? Instead, ALL 57 Muslim countries came up with their own Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam which enshrines Islamic values. This Cairo Declaration asserts plainly that Islam is superior to every other religion or belief system and that ALL human rights can come only from the Shariah. All of the Islamic countries, led by their Islamic religious authorities have rejected our values in favor of the values of the ideology of Islam. It is reasonable to suppose that Muslims in America and Europe also reject the values of the UDHR in favor of the Islamic values of the Cairo Declaration. Perhaps not all of them do, but we can never know until we ask them specific questions. Certainly, the Islamic religious authorities in America and Europe are no different from the Islamic religious authorities in Muslim countries.

    The issue of Islam is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there, but practically nobody is talking about it. It won't go away, however, just because we don't talk about it. We must learn about it by reading Islamic religious sources in order to learn the truth.

    I urge you to take some time to learn about the ideology of Islam from the writings of the most respected Islamic religious authorities -- NOT from Muslim spokesmen who are trying to present a false, whitewashed image.



    P.S. I will send you one email with several quotations from Islamic religious authorities who are widely read and respected by hundreds of millions of Muslims.

    Ayatollah Khomeini, the most important Moslem leader of the 20th Century, said: "Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies.... Islam says: whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! the sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other Koranic psalms and Hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim."

    "The meaning of the term 'terror' used by the media... is Jihad for the sake of Allah. Jihad is the peak of Islam. Moreover, some of the clerics ... see it as the sixth pillar of Islam. Jihad --whether Jihad of defense of Muslims and of Islamic lands such as in Chechnya, the Philippines, and Afghanistan, or Jihad aimed at spreading the religion -- is the pinnacle of terror, as far as the enemies of Allah are concerned. The Muhajeed who goes out to attain a martyr's death or victory and returns with booty is a terrorist as far as the enemies of Allah are concerned... Jihad is the peak of Islam... Jihad, oh believers, is an integral part of our religion. The word 'terror' is used to damage this mighty and blessed foundation." -- Sheikh Wajdi Hamza Al-Ghazawi, Al-Manshawi Mosque, Mecca, October 6, 2001.

    All of the following comes verbatim from the Reliance of the Traveler: Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, (Amana Publications, Beltsville MD, revised edition 1994) approved by the highest ranking and most respected modern Islamic religious leaders and scholars. Islamic holy law, Sharia, defines jihad this way: "Jihad means to war against non-Muslims. .. The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus, is such Koranic verses as "Fighting is prescribed for you " (Koran 2:216) "Slay them wherever you find them" (Koran 4:89) "Fight the idolaters utterly" (Koran 9:36)
    and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: "I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah..."

    and the hadith reported by Muslim, "To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it."

    In the chapter Objectives of Jihad, we read: "The Caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians...until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax..." and "The caliph fights all other people until they become Muslim."
    Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood:


    From Jihad in Islam by Sayyeed Abdul A'la Maududi.

    “The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy.”

    KHJ put some passion with her intellect for a change.

    William F. Buckley, Jr. provided a debate format that would do VOTERS well, if all the presidential related confrontations were to follow his example.

    Why only two candidates? Isn't a lot lost without Paul & Nader?

    Have the pres. candidate + 3 of his top advisors line up against the other candidate's team & follow Buckley's example of:
    Bring YOUR BEST & let the VOTERS decide the winner.

    Neither candidate causes me to feel comfortable that they are telling us the REAL TRUTH.

    Man kind has always needed rules whether they are the 10 Commandments, or physics, or the NFL; rules are required to keep greed, or the desire to win at all cost, in balance 'for the good of the game'.

    Selfish Rules Selection has taken us way to far this unjust path!

    Billy Bob, FL

    Senator Obama's response should be, and soon; Of course I attended a fund raising event by Mr. Ayers. I don't have a habit of vetting every supporter but I didn't pick him for Vice President!

    With how many Grinches and Scrooges are you intimate, Bill Moyers? Kathleen Hall Jamieson's sensibilities are typified by her continual reference to "reform" of Social Security and Medicare, as if they were a dripping faucet to be closed. Why did we ever originate these safeguards? Most retirees have little else, especially now. Should the prospect of older and disabled people be only hunger, discomfort and neglect after they've had their wages garnished many years for these programs? Jamieson betrays herself as a bitter old uppity lapdog of capitalism, sadistically begrudging poorer people a crumb. We can waste billions on unjust wars of occupation and bottomless bailouts for the wealthy class, but cannot house, medically treat or feed human beings exhausted in productive labor. Kathleen is nothing but a handicapper of a whores' race, an odds maker for rich gamblers, and a hardened old greedy miscreant. It shows, and reflects badly on her buddy Bill. Will she circulate Philadelphia area retirement homes to frighten the frail elderly on All Saints' Day?

    I strongly agree with the many posters who have pointed out Jamieson’s reflexive moral equivalency. It seems to be a failing common to her and Moyer’s generation of journalists, which has allowed them to be suckered repeatedly by Rove and his ilk. Jamieson, however, goes even further when she claims exaggeration to be worse than outright lies. Using Dan Wilkes’ example, she says illegal parking is worse than murder.

    She also subscribes to the false paradigm, as does Barack Obama, that behavior changes the system, rather than the other way around. That voters will see virtue, and reward it accordingly. Bottom-up Confucianism, essentially. The more astute founding fathers would be aghast at this. Their theory was that a correct balance of powers and interests would produce the political equivalent of virtue. That the system creates the behavior, in other words. Our current problem lies in a flawed balance of interests rooted in the two-party system. Change the system correctly, and you will see better behaved candidates. See the early commentary on this by Max Kaehn, 10-10, 4pm.

    The provided questions are themselves both assumption-laden, and leading. Sloppy.

    Finally, I am seeing something balanced coming from PBS. From the Iowa caucuses onward, I have seen so much pro-Obama sentiment from PBS I was wondering if any objectivity remained in the media. With the last two interviews with Kathleen Hall Jamieson I finally hear someone willing to speak the truth. Obama is not the new kind of politician he claimed. He spins his spin and tells his lies the same - if not worse- as other politicians. So much for claiming to be an agent of change. How is it that so many college-educated people are being sucked in by the deception?

    Ms Jamieson used a very bad example when she compared McCain's use of William Ayers in negative ad's to the video on the Keating scandal.
    The fact is McCain was part of the Keating five and went on to become ''The Deregulator'' ever since getting caught with Keating.
    Here's site to watch the video

    You must watch all 13.5 minutes as it shows that even in March 2008 McCain was calling for more banking deregulation.

    Ms. Jamieson is practicing the new journalistic creed that everyone gets criticized because that shows maturity and balance. This time, she failed miserably, even by her own criterion.

    There is no equivalency in the Ayers story and the Keating Five connection. After some dubious analysis, Jamieson herself said that the Obama ad would be wrong if its facts didn't hold up. Well, they do, and she didn't mention the content of the ad, just its visual associations, which are spot on.

    For a different media analysis by another set of experts, see Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's views:

    Ms. Jamieson explaination of the Social Security problem conflated the issue with the Medicare problem. So her explanation was incomprehensible and incorrect. Plus we have seen our government throw over three trillion dollars at self created problems--two wars and the financial policies. Those $3,000,000,000,000.00 plus the $1,000,000,000.00 given away in tax cuts to the rich and finally the doubling of the national debt in the last eight years would have gone a long way to solving even her misconstrued entitlement problems. The transference of wealth to the rich over the last thirty years resulting to cries that we cannot afford to help the average person is a show in itself. But the more important issue was missed entirely by Ms. Jamieson.

    Also, it seemed to me her academic focus on the trees of the campaigns allowed her to miss the forest of the media. When she said Tom Brokow missed the opportunity for a follow up question and she did not follow up on Tom she too missed an opportunity.

    The morass of the media contributes to the ignorance of the voter more than the campaigns of the candidates. Past elections are replete with bad ads and messages. However, a media and journalists that do not seek but transcribe only after the fact and call it reporting are lost souls as far as providing useful information.

    I would like to see a show exploring Marshall McLuhan's theory that modern media would turn the world into a village. A mental image of a village inspires hopes for greater available infomation for people allowing more participatory governance. Unfortunately, villages are often governed by the fast talker and the bully.

    Ms. Jamieson in her last two appearances has been passionate in her viewpoint. However, to me she is has been so focused on the small points that her contribution in both appearances was not helpful to the current state of the American political scene.

    Very disappointed in last night's show. I see that many others were also. I refer to Kathleen Hall Jamieson. She is a fast talker, fluent, but her argument is full of holes. PBS is troublesome in its philosophy of "fair and balanced" even at the expense of the truth. Why did you let Jamieson off the hook with no counterresponse to her irresponsible equation of Keating-5 vs. Bill Ayers?. She claims that McCain is "sorry" for his "mistake". What??? That's words, not deeds. How does she explain his, pardon the expression, "palling around" with Phil Gramm, who advises him on the economy, who might very well be our next Treasury Sec. if he wins the election. Phil Gramm & John McCain are arch de-regulators..and that precisely is the major cause for our current economic crisis. Why is it not OK for Obama to put out a web ad IN RESPONSE to crazy, unrelated attacks by McCain on his "past associations" with Ayers & Wright. That subject should be on the table, because it reflects McCain's basic economic philsophy which continues to this day! Jamieson needed correction badly on this one issue. NcCain/Palin have been all over these baseless attacks at rallies, Obama has NOT referred to Keating-5 in his rallies. It was a factual ad, no matter how she wants to neatly fit it into her narrative of "equal dirty politics".
    Why were you silent? I really admire your work and your programs. I have copied & mailed entire speeches to my children & friends. Kathleen Hall Jamieson is below your standards of excellent investigative journalism. She should be replaced.

    I agree with Mr. Clay (an earlier post) and wish to make it perfectly clear regarding what Mr. Clay cited:

    "Obama's resurrection of the Keating 5 in response to McCain/Palin's "Palling around with terrorists" assertions and their provocateur incendiary language is not comparable."

    As Ms. Jamieson and the whole "rest of" intelligent journalisn has pointed out, the relationship between Obama and Ayers is ephemeral and without any depth, at a time very very long removed from any wrongdoing by Ayers ... at a time, rather, when Ayers was winning praise from many official corners for his good work and deeds.

    McCain's involvement in "the Keating Five" was ... well, as one of "the five", and the investigating committee said he had not committed a crime but had shown very poor judgement in his conduct. THERE's the difference: the Obama ad cites an affair in which McCain was deeply involved and that involvement, as declared by the U.S. SENATE, showed poor judgement in his capacity as SENATOR ... and THAT goes to ability to make good choices and to avoid bad ones ... and THAT IS a crucial aspect of the presidency and the person who aspires to the office!

    It escapes me how Ms. Jamieson could fail to see that blatant difference ... not to mention the fact that the Obama ad was an obviously provoked reaction to the the ad by McCain that Jaimeson decried. However, I cannot agree that she in turn must be vilified for this oversight ... but a correction would be appropriate.

    I think the electorate overall will now begin to see, "crystal", that Mr. McCain is a man seething with anger, as he always has been (and who can blame him frankly, with likely PTSD and after the way he was treated by the Bush presidential campaign in 2000). His choice of a running mate was/is nothing less than a study in cynicism, calculated to add nothing to his campaign but an attack dog (emphasis on "dog") in ewe's clothing. I find her nothing less than shocking ... and scary that she could be at the helm of this presently broken country.

    Before his announcement of Palin as running mate (and with one of the obvious, "boring" choices instead) I could have stood the thought of his winning if I had to (with a wary eye on the temperature of his temper at any given time). Now I'm afraid I'd have to consider leaving should he be incapacitated or die in office. The thought sickens me.

    One of the most significant points that no one I have heard yet has not brought up is that the public itself has a responsibility to understand this political discourse: namely, that an "assertion" is not a "fact". The assertion requires some level of "proof" or "evidence" to turn it into a fact. The multi-second sound bite does not permit of enough time to offer proof and, therefore, should never be accepted as fact. When the public recognizes this, the politicians MAY be required to quit making unsubstantiated assertions as fact. Until then, a pox on both your houses, even though I am an Obama supporter.

    I agree with Kathleen Hall Jamieson 100% tonight. She's a personal hero and it's been wonderful listening to her this election season.

    I'm a Barack Obama supporter... though not the bumper sticker stuck to the car type.
    I summarily ignore all attack ads where one politician spews out what their competition believes or has done. My assumption is that the ad is either an outright lie or is otherwise grossly misleading.

    This year, I've noticed that the ads now include specific Bill Numbers and Votes to back up whatever outrageous claim is being made in the commercial. I'm assuming that this information is for God knows I don't have all day to do the homework required to make an informed judgement. Specifically, I don't have time to...

    1. look up the specific bills
    2. read the bills
    3. decide how I would vote for this bill
    4. compare my vote to the candidate being attacked
    5. decide how misleading the ad is
    6. decide how to view the candidate doing the attacking

    So to save time, my assumption is that these ads are 100% lies and I ignore their content. That being said... the more of these ads I see from a candidate, the less I like that candidate.

    I pay attention to the ads where Barack or John talk to the camera and talk about their plans for the country. I am 100% interested in that content.


    Ah, to err is human and to distort the truth is such fun.
    It has been such a joy to follow the corruption of the truth by the deviant savant Karl Rove. Now McCain follows in his foot steps. The Republicans have destroyed our credibility supporting his antics.
    How many ways have innocent people died let me name two ways. First there is Shock and Awe, then there is torture and humiliation.
    We are in desperate need of the truth that makes us free and all we get is disinformation. When do we accept the truth and do what is the best solution for the problem?
    We need to think in terms of adjusting our economic system to function efficiently instead of the present system of random chance. We gamble with the survival of our nation and the quality of our lives.
    Anyone could fix the problem if they were given the authority to do what is necessary instead of what is politically correct. All that is needed is to change the numbers to provide the necessary funding to support our best interests.

    John McCain's latest plan to bail out the banks over their bad loans is the same behavior he displayed in Keating 5, ie. Protect the rich at the taxpayers expense. The Bush/McCain tax cuts for the rich in fact have spent the social security surplus and brought about faster more serious threats to social security and to our financial system. Fannie and Freddie were NOT the cause of the subprime lending crisis in the unregulated financial markets although they did get drawn into the culture of greed is good and were asked to buy up some of the junk. Greenspan refused to regulate wall street and the Bush administration failed to enforce existing laws. The growth of the housing market and financial services provided cover for the destruction of our industrial base. Globalization is the catch phrase for allowing vulture capitalists to buy up companies that had well funded pension plans: fire the workers, loot their pensions, transfer the jobs overseas and the pension liabilities to the taxpayers, and sell off the rest of the company. You can eliminate both the unions and the hinderance of environmental laws in one fell swoop. If that isn't part of the McCain/Bush agenda please enlighten me.

    It seems to me that much of the criticism of Ms. Jamieson's comments misses the central point of her argument: absent clear and compelling evidence of a candidate's malfeasance, corruption or incompetence, the political discourse should be not about the candidate himself but about where he/she would lead this country. I would argue that disrespecting a candidate for whom tens of millions of Americans have already cast votes, and for whom so many more will vote on Nov. 4th, is to disrespect those voters and our democracy itself.

    To be clear, I consider myself to be a strong supporter of Senator Obama, and I find the ad hominim attacks on him to be despicable. Further, I have argued for decades that anyone of my generation (I'm a Boomer) who expects social security to operate when we retire as it has done for our parents' generation is ignoring the basic arithmetic. Nevertheless, the Obama ad does mischaracterize the McCain plan by implying that current SS recipients -- like my mother -- would have been devasted by the current stock market disaster. My 401K is in the toilet, but my mom would not have been eligible to participate in the privatization of SS proposed by senator McCain. It would have been fair for the ad to simply point out what privatization would mean to my generation, without the scare tactics aimed at my mom and her cohort.

    I think it may be fair to characterize the comparison of Obama's association with Ayers with McCain's involvement with the Keating Five as a false equivalency, but I also think it's a distraction from the discussion we ought to be engaged in. I applaud Ms. Jamieson's views.

    I've lost faith in both Moyers and Jamieson. we expect better.

    Well, yes, in a perfectly rational J.S> Mill- style world, perhaps we would all calmly consider all points of view and arrive at the most reasonable and rational solution to the problems at hand, including the question of whom to support in the presidential election.
    For better ad worse, that's not the world we live in, and that world has never existed.
    This election, like every one before it, is about two candidates vying to define for us who we are as Americans. And that's not a rational endeavor, that's about how we feel about ourselves, our fellw citiens, and our country. The niceties of whetehjr anyparticular political ad is "accurate" are simply irrelevant: the quesiton is whetehr the ad makesus feel the way we want to feel. The United State is ineed deeply divided, but it is not along line sof policy, but of emotion. Rather than logic, I'd suggest using psychology as the more important lens to view this - and every other - election. (Andrew JAckson may have been right on the facts, but he won on the the emotional appeal of his campaign.) Disagree? I'm pretty sure Gov. Palin isn't there to help us think our way to the answers. She's there soley to appeal to deep, gut emotions of a certain segment of the electorate. So, while it may be an interesting intellectual exercise ti evaluate the relative degrees of factualness in the various ads, it is really beside the point. the more important evaluation is: did it them where they live, make them feel the way we want them to feel, move them the ay we need them to be mover?
    Politics isn't a knife fight, but more like a long and poorly produced series of beer commercials.

    This is the last time I am going to waste good time watching Katherine Hall Jamieson. She spoke about deception but was deceptive herself in her analysis of social security and the effects of diverting the contributions of active workers into private accounts. It would destroy and bankrupt the entire system. Yet this funding of present retirees by active workers is what McCain calls a "disgrace." It is what the system has always been based on. Her refusal to acknowledge it as privatization and its real effects on funding present day retirees is more than ignorance, it's deception.

    Katherine Hall Jamieson is afraid to go beyond her false equivalence and name the bigotry that is being used to attempt to marginalize Sen. Obama. Sen. Obama doesn't characterize his opponent as the companion of terrorists, and his supporters don't call for the assassination of McCain. So ironic when one considers that her very foundation, the Annenberg Foundation is being vilified for having chosen Bill Ayers to sit on an advisory board in Chicago. Her attempt to have a false "even handedness" destroys her credibility. I've watched her for the last time.

    I have been a registered Rupublican for nearly 50 years -- until 2004 I had never voted for anyone other than a Republican. Alas, my party has completely abandoned me -- the ultra-right-wing evangelicals have absolutely taken the party over. I find their views utterly repulsive. Further, I have, for more than 20 years, had great respect for John McCain. Disallusioned, I have decided that I can no longer support any part of the current Republican ideology. Worse, I have lost all respect for McCain, due primarity to the fact that he has lost all sense of decency and honesty. Is there anything that he wouldn't say or do to try to be elected? How can he even look himself in the mirror each morning? What a tragedy! Accordingly, I will cast my vote for Barack Obama. I never thought that it would come to this, but I can honestly say that I will NEVER vote Republican again. It's unfortunate that we have evolved to such a corrupt and dispicable group.

    I, in general, find Ms. Jamieson's analysis of politics insightful. But ever so often she stumbles into the "objective equivalency" trap that all fair and impartial journalists fall prey to.

    Obama's resurrection of the Keating 5 in response to McCain/Palin's "Palling around with terrorists" assertions and their provocateur incendiary language is not comparable. Ms. Jamieson ignores several orders of magnitude in vitriol, as well as cause and effect.

    Misrepresentations of platforms aside, even old-guard Republicans are appalled by the nasty turn McCain's campaign has taken. By contrast, Obama has not vilified McCain the person, but discredits his policies, decisiveness and ability to govern under pressure. That's fair game. I encourage John McCain to attack on the basis of differing philosophies not fears.

    Aric Clay

    Frankly, I couldn't follow KH Jamieson's critique of Obama's social security ad, or know if it contained the flaws she alleged, but I have no doubt that in effect if not in detail the ad was correct. Privatize social security and you will have a disaster. Americans are intelligent enough to infer that from this month's economic news, no matter how accurately the case is presented. I'm happy to see the vast majority of comments here taking her to task.

    Very, very disappointing. There was no equivalency and Moyer should have objected. Comparing Obama's accusations that McCain's involvement in the Keating 5 is equivalent to the pure filth, hatred and lies of the McCain campaign is disgusting, pathetic and completely untrue. McCain has accused Obama of being a terrorist, of being an enemy of America or claiming Obama is a Communist and encouraging his followers to kill Obama. As much as the cowardice of the Democrats, Moyer can no longer pretend to be an honest commentator. Of all the commentators on the political scene, had hoped that at least I could depend on Moyer.

    No doubt Obama is flawed and I will vote for him holding my nose. However, to find equivalency between the dishonesty of the two campaigns reminds me of the dishonesty of Pelosi and Reid pretending to be good guys, against the war, opposed to the wiretapping, against the bailout, etc. Moyer sold us out ... I just hope it was not for 30 pieces of silver.


    Once again I am disappointed with Ms. Jamieson's characterization of the Obama add on the effects of privatizing social security. The fact is, as I teach my basic macroeconomics students, this social security reform proposal would put payroll tax monies in approved stock and bond funds. The DOW's fall of about 2300 points this past week would have and did present the possibility that massive amounts of social security value would have been lost under this proposal. Ms. Jamieson should do more than a superficial preparation before she accuses this Obama campaign ad of deception. Otherwise SHE is the one who is deceptive.

    Jamison is too PC(politically correct) for words.
    Is it really impermissible to show that McCain is hostile to Social Security/Medicare as demonstrated by his votes because it 'misleads' to the conclusion that he would favor privatize SS, etc.


    Her required level of proof is comparable to a criminal case.

    It's up to the campaigns to set the record straight not the voters. If an ad shows that McCain voted a certain way in the past that is a strong indication of how he will vote in the future.

    Since McCain doesn't refute the charge, I'd say its likely he'd do it given the chance.

    McCain's web sited doesn't say anything on SS and on Medicare he just talks about 'reforming' the system to provide (more?)compensation for health providers.

    Another annoying trait is her 'balance' which is a media obsession. Actually more than annoying, as time that could be spent understanding issues is spent showing how similar the two candidates are(and how morally superior she is).

    Her contribution adds up to 'negative information' aka garbage that gets lodged in my head.

    I strongly agree with earlier comments that Kathleen Hall Jamieson engages in fundamentally dishonest false equivalency in this segment when she equates McCain's "Bill Ayers" attack ads with Obama's criticisms of McCain's "erratic" and mercurial behavior during the financial crisis. I've seen Ms. Jamieson engage so many times before in this same kind of false equivalency that it is now very predictable -- and deeply disturbing.

    Obama was eight years old when Ayres did what he did. What he did is not especially relevant to our time or contemporary issues. In any event, Ayres long ago transformed himself into a respected educator and, indeed, an honored citizen. Absolutely no evidence exists or can be cited by Jamieson to show that the casual acquaintanceship Obama had forty years later with Ayres has any relevance to Obama's qualifications for public office. The McCain ad is scurrilous precisely for that reason: because it is irrelevant and has no reason for existing except to muddle voters' minds with mud.

    By contrast, Obama's ad accusing McCain of "erratic," mercurial, and indeed self-contradictory and inconsistent positions on the bailout bill issue is directly relevant to a contemporary national issue of great public importance -- one with which the new president must deal the moment he is sworn in. McCain's abrupt changeableness of mind has been on public display for all to see, from the many radical shifts in his various positions from March to this hour, to that weird business over suspending his campaign and then not doing so, claiming he had to rush back to Washington and then not doing so, etc. etc.

    Jamieson makes no mention of the stark differences in relevance of the two ads, although Moyers gave her ample opportunity to do so. Without noting the dramatic difference in relevance and context, Jamieson's criticisms come across more like the predictable yapping of the Village Scold than serious analysis.

    I respect Bill Moyers far too much to feel easy about questioning his judgment, but I cannot agree with this man-crush he seem to have for Jamieson's "academic" viewpoint. It certainly is NOT 'academic' if by that he means Jamieson relies on hard, objective evidence without partisan bias. She is instead, to put it bluntly, a fraud in fake academic clothing. She relies on two thin reputational reeds: her ties to a privately endowed center that has only the cache of academia, but not the rigor; and her habitual ability to come up with criticisms of both sides on any given occasion, even if she presents those criticisms, falsely, as equivalent.

    The lazy media, sadly, too often are taken in by Jamieson's pretensions because they conflate her always-predictable criticisms of both sides with being "bipartisan" or even "objective."

    I know Bill Moyers isn't lazy, not by a a long shot. I also believe he's too smart not to see through her act. So, what I can't figure out is why he keeps calling on Kathleen Hall Jamieson when there are so many better analysts out there who are vastly more knowledgeable, rigorous, and intellectually honest.

    I thought Dr. Jamison was smarter than to imply Obama/Ayers is on the same order of connection as McCain/Keating.

    And I thought Mr. Moyers cared enough about the truth to at least cough.


    So much sighing these days. Yes, about Obama, too.

    Soros for president! :) (Oh, that's right, he's only a naturalized citizen. Captain Kangaroo? Sadly, he's in heaven. A potato? That would be better than what we've had for the past 8 years. A thirty-five-year-old potato. That's my choice. An old dried up potato .. who'll keep her eyes open, and mouth shut. Enough B.S. Amen.:)

    Bill, I was very disappointed in both Ms. Jamieson's presentation and your response to it. Ms. Jamieson is smart and smooth, but she doesn't follow the truth, wherever it may lead. She played fast and loose with facts to present a false equivalency between McCain's and Obama's respective campaigns.

    For example, when she discussed the McCain-Keating Five issue, she said he'd "learned his lesson". Really? Then why did McCain's campaign manager recently call the admonishment of McCain (for his involvement in the scandal) a "smear"? And why didn't you call her on her statement-- by citing this stunning revisionism on the part of the McCain campaign?

    The fact is, one hardly needs to be an Obama supporter to see night-and-day difference between the conduct of the two campaigns. To equate the two is like calling a murderer and a jaywalker a "pair of criminals".

    Ms. Jamieson was certainly irate about what she saw as the McCain campaign daring to question Barack Obama's patriotism, and sees this as a blow too low to be tolerated.

    But wait a doggone second there - Barack Obama's campaign associates were willing to call Bill & Hillary Clinton both racists; are still labelling their opponents as racist; and have let out to the press that if Obama loses it will be because of racist Americans.

    I say if a smear labelling Obama a terrorist sympathizer should succeed and cause his defeat in this election it certainly could be considered poetic justice.

    And a quick study of the past political tactics of Barack Obama, should Ms. Jamieson care to take a gander, would demonstrate that he is no stranger to dirty tricks, and is, in fact, a past master.

    Neil's point is spot on. The idea that the candidates should now cut back on their planned investments because of the bailout is biased and misguided. Read Robert Reich and others, who know that when the economy tanks, you need public investment to spur growth. The question is, are you going to invest smartly in education and health care, or blow it invading countries such as Iraq and Iran?

    As far as dirty campaigning, McCain's lies about Obama's tax plans, sex education, Ayers, etc., take into account that most MSM pundits are like KHJ. Jamieson and typical MSM pundits always attempts to "balance" their reporting by using examples by the other candidate, no matter how much worse the lies by McCain are.

    Obama's Keating Five video is factual, even though he puts his spin on it, and it is telling because of McCain's unfailing belief (until two weeks ago) in deregulation. McCain tells lie after lie, but Jamieson would have you believe that they're comparable. Since Jamieson and her peers will never say "one candidate is running a dirty campaign but the other is not," McCain, and George W. Bush before him, have run campaigns based largely on lies, because they know how to play the American media.

    We were extremely disappointed in the Jamieson portion of your show, Mr. Moyers. She was very partisan and failed to bring up Sarah Palin's role in the hate speech and inciting to riot portions of her campaign and the McCain campaign. Spectators at these rallies shouting "kill, kill" and "bomb him" are very disturbing and frightening. Also, McCain was much more involved in the Keating matter than she stated. Ms. Jamieson is extremely partisan and instead of providing a fair analysis, we had a biased one in favor of McCain/Palin.

    Ms Jamieson claimed it was deceptive to say current Social Security recipients' would be affected by privatization since they would not be allowed to invest.
    Social Security benefits aren't vested; they're paid from current workers' contributions. If those people put money into the private sector, that's less money available to pay benefits. Benefits are either lower, or tax revenue has to be used to maintain them or the fund is depleted.

    The question the guest really wants answered is which of the candidates will be honest enough to admit spending cuts due to changing financial fortunes.

    The answer is neither, because the recession/depression we're heading into will require massive deficit spending, as has been done in every recession. The government spending money has always lead the way out. What can be different this time?

    Oh and by the way, the reality of the gigantic existing debt means that the US dollar will be destroyed.

    Hi Bill,

    I love your shows and appreciate what you do, but I believe you are enamored or something by KHJ. Someone of your experience should surely be able to see she is biased and not providing your audience with a true objective opinion.


    Mr. Moyers--you might have asked Ms. Jamieson how a political candidate should defend himself (herself) in the event the other candidate decides to take the low road?

    Mr Moyers

    Ms Jamieson and Mr Soros are as far left as any talking heads I have ever seen. How about a show dedicated to the true cause to the current financial situation which is basically, affirmative action in the housing market. Maybe you could title the program: The new entitlement...home ownership.
    Another show could be dedicated to Obama and maybe entitled: Socialism and the up and coming welfare state.
    The saddest thing about your slanted program is that tax payers are contributing to PBS.

    We need more deciphering of the political rhetoric which has been a lot of repetitive talk and still not sure where candidates stand stand on issues.

    This is too important an election not to understand where our next president stands on these issues. Why worry about terrorism when the politicians and financial wizards in our own country have created a global economic crisis.

    The only thing I can add to the excellent comments that I just scanned is that Jamison NEVER mentioned that Obama did not respond to most of the McCain's "attack" ads and comments until this last week. He has shown admirable restraint and has demonstrated his coolness under fire but enough is enough! So if McCain wants to connect him with a 60s radical or with his pastor than McCain is fair game for things like the Keating 5, his connection to Rev. Hegel, his connection to the gambling interests, and the ever present questions about his age, his health, his volatility!

    Ms. Jamieson was a poor guest for this topic. She works for the people who supported the project in question. Her try at "fair and balanced" was a failure. Let's not do that again. I depend on Bill to support my liberal views and don't expect a defense from "the other side." It's a waste of time...I can get the other side in other venues. I am a liberal and expect to hear my liberal views from Bill expanded and supported.

    I enjoyed your show as usual and generally agreed with Ms. Jamieson's comments. However, I felt that she fell into the trap of "fair and balanced" commentary in equating the William Ayers associations by the McCain campaign to the Keating associations by the Obama campaign. Murder and illegal parking are both crimes, but they are not equal crimes. In fact, with respect to the William Ayers association, there is not even a demonstrable "crime". There is not even compelling evidence of a substantive relationship between the two men. And even if they are "palling around", there is no evidence of any quid pro quo association. But with respect to the Keating relationship, we have a completely different situation. There was unquestionably a close relationship between the two men involving business dealings, personal gifts and campaign contributions. Senator McCain did seek special considerations on Charles Keating's behalf that certainly take on a quid pro quo appearance. These are documented facts, not rumors or wild accusations. Congress did not deem Senator McCain's actions in the Keating affair to rise to a criminal standard, but his actions were formally declared to represent "bad judgement" on his behalf. In addition, the entire Keating affair has direct relevance to the current economic meltdown in that the S&L crisis was the direct result of deregulation. While Senator McCain may have learned his lessons from the Keating affair with respect to close associations, gifts, campaign finances and support for those who so favor him, he has not learned any lesson with respect to deregulation. Since the Keating affair, Senator McCain's position on government regulation of any market activities has remained unchanged and in full support of leaving the markets to the control of the "invisible hand" of market forces. So once again we find ourselves victims of this dangerous and irresponsible voodoo economics. Because of this, I do not feel that Ms. Jamieson served the voting public well in equating the Ayers attacks of the McCain campaign to the Keating attacks of the Obama campaign. Unfortunately, she is not the only political commentator our there making this same comparison in the name of being "fair and balanced". While it may be fair to point out the inaccuracies of both compaigns, it is not balanced to present offenses as equal when they clearly are not.

    Tonight Kathyrn Hall Jamison said a Barack Obama commercial about John McCain's support for privatizing Social Security was unfair and aimed at scaring seniors. Georg Bush's privatizing plan was scary, so scary that it lacked support and was dropped. Further, John McCain's support for privatizing Social Security, if it had passed, would definitely mean that in the present financial crisis seniors would be out of luck. Ms. Jamison's point that George Bush would not have allowed the privatized Social Security plan to be invested in risky stocks is absurd! Why didn't Bill Moyer's at least question this? The interview with George Soros was excellent, so maybe he was just too difficult an act to follow.

    I light of not being able to change either of the candidates; selecting the worst of two evils, Senator Obama is the only choice. Based on the tactics, charges, and outright divisive campaigning of Senator McCain, I can not see how anyone could pull the lever for him. I will chose to "hope" for a better America, rather than be assured of "more of the same".

    For Ms Jamison to suggest that the most important question is about what they can deliver is completely wrong. We all know neither can deliver their promises given today's economic conditions. What we what to know is WHO WILL WORK TO MAKE GOVERNMENT BETTER AND MORE TRANSPARENT TO THE US CITIZEN. To me, that answer is obvious...Obama 2008.

    I share Kathleen Hall Jamieson's desire for a more substantive and civil political discourse, but I think that she drew several false equivalences between actions by the McCain and Obama campaign in the segment tonight.

    Perhaps the clearest example of this was her equation of the McCain campaign's attempt to connect Obama to Bill Ayers to the Obama campaign's web ad describing McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal. She asked (paraphrasing slightly) "What does it tell us that McCain was involved in the Keating Five scandal years ago?" Even though McCain has apologized for his role in the scandal, it is still significant that he displayed such a failure of judgment, even if it occurred some years ago. Voters can quite reasonably conclude that McCain has atoned for his involvement in Keating Five -- but Jamieson in effect is saying that any discussion about the scandal should be off-limits because she has decided that McCain has repented. This is a judgment that the voters should be able to make given complete and accurate information about the candidate's record.

    It's worth noting that Jamieson did not demonstrate that the Obama campaign had somehow lied about or mischaracterized McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal. (Her claim that the ad should have emphasized the other politicians involved in the scandal is hard to understand, given that McCain is the only Keating Five alumnus currently running for president!)

    In no way is this factually accurate ad equivalent to the McCain campaign's attempts to tie Obama to Ayers, someone with whom Obama clearly had no significant relationship, as Jamieson acknowledges.

    If our goal is to improve the quality of our political discourse, we must be wary of false equivalences which only serve to blur legitimate distinctions between candidates.

    Dear sir:

    You better hope that you and your fellow PBS associates total bias in favor of BHO succeeds
    otherwisw public funding for PBS will cut to Zero.

    P.S. You look and sound exacly like
    Katherene Hall Jamieson
    except she has better hair

    Sincerey yours My Dirk

    I applaud Kathleen Hall Jamieson for advocating a "well-formed public discourse" (as political theorists have put it). But I think that many of her observational claims are hobbled by her tacit participation in the very phenomenon that she criticizes (or perhaps just critiques).

    She poses things in the framework or frame of "he said, she said" or "Republican, Democratic". Strict -- and false -- dichotomy.

    Part of this may be justified by the pseudo-bipolar politics of the US (that is, the facade of a two-party politics which is really, with a few exceptions like abortion, monopolar).

    But, as a critic, it is incumbent upon her to challenge that very framework. Even if American politics really offered striking distinctions across the board between two parties (as opposed to the tissue thin pretense of distinction on things like the bailout), we would still suffer from this artificial two-party construction (one, I suspect, many Americans might think is enshrined in the Constitution). In something like a parliamentary system (or just an American system which captured more of the advantages of parliamentary ones), two parties might bicker all they want, allowing a third or fourth to stand apart. The necessity for public coalitions might lessen the role of behind-closed-doors dealing.

    But it 'has to be' Democrat or Republican and since there is little to distinguish the two on many issues (the war, the bailout), where do candidates have to go but the gutter?

    Moreover, while analyzing speech fairly thoroughly (especially in the form of advertising), Jamieson fails to analyze adequately action -- particularly voting in the case of politicians or associations in the case of candidates. Thus, she fails to consider the striking split between statements of John McCain and his actions or his choice of associates (like Phil Gramm or Sarah Palin).

    I think Ms Jamison missed the point of the Senator Obama ad about Senator Mccain in regard to the Keating 5 scandal. She focused on Senator McCain's admission that his involvement to try to influence regulators was wrong. That is a given. People have allowed him a spare on that and taken his word that he regrets it. However, the real relevance of that ad is that Senator McCain was then and still is an unrepentant deregulator, which was at the heart of the Keating 5 scandal and is at the heart of the current financial meltdown making the ad entirely relevant. I think she just missed this entire point.

    Although I am disillusioned by both the Republicans and Democrats, there is still a significant enough difference to vote for a Democrat than a Republican. Nader said that there was little difference between the parties in 2000, yet it is hard to believe that Gore would have lead us into the Iraq quagmire,or that he would have nominated such conservative judges. I believe for all of its faults, we are not at risk of sliding into a totalitarian government with the Democrats, but are with the Republicans. In addition, in this election, just the thought of having a black president in my lifetime, a lifetime that has seen incredible racial strife, is an historical event of great importance. I will definitely vote.
    The real blame for the poor political process in the country lies with the population itself, one that can't handle various truths, like tax increases may be needed to improve the better welfare of the country as a whole, and people who will vote on the basis of one single issue, ignoring all other factors. People who do not take the time to seek out the truth by looking at sources other than one tv or radio channel. Democracy does indeed need an informed citizenry to function properly.

    In answering the original questions posed with this post:
    I think both campaigns are guilty of truth stretching, though I believe the Republican party is using more lies and out-of-context information (the "sex ed to kindergartners" as an example. I try to find reality among the muck. I go to Factcheck sites and read conservatives I respect: Davids Brooks and Gergin, Peggy Noonan and others. I even go to the far right blogs to see what they are saying. Did you know Obama is a Muslim socialist who wants to do away with Christianity?

    To Allenwrench, I understand your cynicism, but I cannot agree with your decision not to vote. If you must, vote for Nader or Ron Paul, or write in the Dali Lama, You make no statement by staying home. But I agree with your basic assessment of our system.

    To me, our biggest problem is not that we only have two parties (though it is not ideal) but that much of the communication between candidate and voter comes in the form of 30- and 60-second television ads. As a person who has worked in the industry (and long ago left it for publishing) I know how easy it is to make American consumers desire what is not good for them. From cigarettes to fast food, ads make Americans crave what is worst for them. As Jackson Browne so aptly put in it in his song "Lives in the Balance"..."They sell us our Presidents the same way they sell us our clothes and our cars."

    Until we take ADVERTISING out from under the "free speech" banner, we will never have fair and honest elections. The cost, both financially and ethically, of advertising on campaigns is compounded with every election. McCain's selection of Palin ties in so sweetly--the sexy gal selling us that fancy car.

    And for anyone who doubts the power of advertising, please note that anyone who answers "yes" to the question "Have you ever worked in advertising or public relations?" on a marketing survey is always disqualified from taking said survey. That's right. They don't want my opinion since I know how it all works.

    In lieu of eliminating campaign ads (I doubt it could make it past a Supreme Court challenge) then I implore everyone to demand that media awareness become an integral part of educational curriculum from kindergarten on. As long as our electorate is susceptible to misleading, or worse, ads, we will never have a valid election.

    The Obama campaign certainly isn't free of deception and outright lies; they're not as egregious as the McCain campaign, but I'm still disappointed with them. With a first-past-the-post voting system, though, what else are we to do? Duverger's Law has us stuck with two parties. I support the work of the Center for Voting and Democracy to reform the system and make it possible for honest candidates to compete, but that will be a long, hard slog.

    The Republican campaign is in actuality a front for fomenting a civil war. It's a terrorist campaign. It has no legitimacy.

    The Democratic campaign is a marketing device to increase fundraising and voter market share it is devoid of actual policy and substantive issues analysis and intervention.

    I believe that the US isheaded for catastrophic and permanent failure and will soon be in a civil war, instigated by the Republican party and aimed at gaining permanent rule, power and control over the populace so as to provide profiteering for the top 1% earners, a permanent state of war to benefit the military/industrial complex and to effect global dominance via the usurpation of the executive into a fascist dictatorship.

    There just isn't any other way to make sense of the campaigns in light of recent history and current events.

    Sure, we need some lies for national defense. But coming clean with how many houses you own isn't one of those areas.

    There is no integrity and honor left in politics - it is all about money, ego and how best to lie to the American public

    Neither presidential candidate for '08 is a worthwhile choice for what faces America.

    Both candidates are out of touch with reality. But it goes far beyond this fact that both of them would be useless for governing the US of A. Our whole political system would block anything meaningful happening even if we had Superman for president.

    The mantra of the ego based, power hungry politician is; "Give me power for a day and I hope the roof waits to falls in on the next guy and the music wont stop on my presidency."

    Everything they do while in office is aimed not at truth and what is best for our country, but at spin, lies and making themselves look good in the eye of the voters.

    Do you really think that we have 50% - 50% chance to pick the right answer for Washington?

    Or are we 100% guaranteed to continue with a lying rhetorician in the White House?

    No, I refuse to vote for MC or OB

    My vote is abstention.

    For I learned long ago that politicians are all cut from the same cloth. Until I hear some honesty in a candidate I will continue to abstain.

    Some voters say, if you don't vote you can't complain. Well, that is not true. There is no law on the books that says that. Neither does it say that American must vote to live in America. The bottom line is this - you can't complain unless you are willing to do something.

    Voting just got us in the mess we are in, so voting does little to fix the problem and in reality it just perpetuates it.

    But until RADICAL change has been FORCED on our politicians NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

    IF NOTHING CHANGES...NOTHING is that simple.

    To offer a citizen the glimmer of hope that their vote may change political business as usual is a real crime.

    Did either of the candidates OB or MC tell it to the country straight about the 'financial reamout' they rushed through?

    Change is the buzzword for 2008 for change!

    In politics substantive change is only paid lip service. Our whole system fights change. And if perchance some change does come about it is quickly squelched every 4 years by the new incoming administration and we backslide.

    One candidate may have better spin on the question - so you vote for him or her. But when it comes down to it - politicians are pretty much all lying the ignorant public just votes for the best liar!
    Politicians are the lowest of the low - hypocrites and haggard shells of humans that spin webs of deceit to entrap their prey with so many lies you politicians dream up to screw the American public.

    Lets look at an example. Pres Carter was gung -ho on renewables so he installed solar panels on the white house roof. Reagan comes in and removes the solar panels.

    Instead of keeping any good gov workers that really work for the citizens. These folks must go and the current political deity puts their cronies and high dollar contributors in power every 4 years.

    If one party is in the white house and another party is in the congress most of the time is spent battling each other and trying to make your enemies look bad.

    As the dieoff approaches we will still no doubt be putting all our hopes in the next political deity that tells us he or she can transform our world.

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