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Ask the Reporter: EXPOSÉ on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL

This week, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL collaborated with EXPOSÉ: AMERICA'S INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS to tell the story of journalist David Heath from THE SEATTLE TIMES as he investigates earmarks and uncovers stories of waste and abuse in Washington.

We'd like to thank David Heath for agreeing to answer your questions. Please post below, and we will post his response in a few weeks.


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No innocent Palestinians would be in danger if Hamas terrorists did not deliberately hide among them. If the peace-seeking Palestinians prevented the terrorists from living in their midst, Israel would have no reason to come to their neighborhoods.

to Jsemaan
1. Israel does not occupy Gaza! Israel left Gaza in 2005, giving Palestinians the chance to run their own lives. Despite this, more than 6300 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel since then.
2. If Hamas would renounce the path of terror, there would be no need for the Israeli action.

In response to Jerry:

The question is not: "what would we do if Canada (or Mexico!) shot missiles over the border at us...would we not attack them and defend our families?" No, the question is: "what would we do if Canada took our land and homes, wiped out any historical evidence that they exisited and forced us to live in a ghetto cut off to the outside world...would we sit meekly by and have our destiny dictated to us by Canada?"
I think the Israeli Professor Ilan Pappe (Exeter University) offers us useful history in order to understand the conflict: Part I:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2378048083114640496&ei=LJhlSanAEJyyrQL6_ozhDg&hl=en

Part II:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1045070103971656266&hl=en

Part III:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9069594734659501057&hl=en

Part IV:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3343805094273077232&hl=en


When you have time, the acclaimed movie (winner of many awards including
Best Documentary): Occupation 101:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2451908450811690589&ei=waxlSb7SHI6cqALgzqndBw&q=occupation+101&hl=en&dur=3

Jane Different: I'm just like you, girl. I'm sure Bill Moyers can learn from a thoughtful critique. Vested interests (some paid) often vent their venom here, but if you skip those posts there remains a subtext of invigorating discussion you should be a part of.

Consider this: The global businesses demanding help are a hudred times larger in money volume than the US government. Can a one stall candy store bail out a failed multi-site Cadillac dealership?

Earmarks: Well Congress has notched the pigs ears until the head looks like a bull sealion. There are good reasons for taking benefits back to the district, but there has been shoplifting and fences were involved. We hear Obama begging them to exclude hidden pork from new legislation. Let's take away the notching pliers.

But this is a little problem compared to collapsing and bailed-out banks. Citi and B of A are still crying for cash. I am sure the housing bubble is not responsible for the bulk of losses and obligations. The unregulated market in derivatives and other exotic instruments is much larger than anything Freddie mac and Fanny May handled, and they held over half of the crap bag.
The derivative market is estimated at at least 596 trillion dollars. This is the void powering our economic black hole. If only 25% went bad after housing waned and oil prices fell that would be about 150 trillion dollars, ten times the yearly US GDP. Blaming subprime holders or even small real estate speculators for what has happened is ludicrous. The big speculators have mortally wounded their own financial standing. We can't succeed in transfusing a failed elite moneyed class who can't even garner enough money to pay the debt service on their losses. They are kaput. Let Citi and B of A and DeutcheBank sink and let the people at least have the lifeboats.

I am so very grateful for the articulate and insightful manner that Bill Moyers brings to so many important issues.
At the same time the blog forum provides us the opportunity to respond in an insightful way.
It is often disappointing to see the responses that indicate the person writing back neither thought through what they had to say or even read thoroughly what they are critisizing. It frightens me to think of the future of the human race if we cannot think things out before we angrily respond, whether it is with words or weapons. Please continue your efforts Bill Moyers, we need your wisdom and intelligence on so many levels.

I am so very grateful for the articulate and insightful manner that Bill Moyers brings to so many important issues.
At the same time the blog forum provides us the opportunity to respond in an insightful way.
It is often disappointing to see the responses that indicate the person writing back neither thought through what they had to say or even read thoroughly what they are critisizing. It frightens me to think of the future of the human race if we cannot think things out before we angrily respond, whether it is with words or weapons. Please continue your efforts Bill Moyers, we need your wisdom and intelligence on so many levels.

Bill, I have watched your presentations over many years and appreciated and agreed with almost everything you did and said.
Like you, i hate to see people being killed in conflicts,especially children and other non-miitary personnel.
REgarfing the Gaza situation, I hadn't heard or seen you say a word against Hamas nd the terror caa sed by the 7000 rockets fired at innocents in Israel,
What would you say and do if the Drug gangs from Tijuana were firing tousands of missiles into San Diego and our military was assigned to stop them after every attempt had previously failed?
Jerry

$ 18 billion dollars is no small change. The fact that earmarks are a way of life of Congress does not make it ethical or moral. We cannot ignore what David Heath has uncovered about earmark reform that everyone talks about but is non-existent. Thank you for digging deeply for the truth with your investigative journalism

Thanks, Bill, for being able to see AND have the courage to say on your program that the Israeli government is doing exactly the same thing the terrorists are doing- killing people. Yours is the beginning of a higher level of solving challenges.

Albert Einstein is attributed as saying that it takes a higher level of consciousness to solve a problem that the level it was created on. How true! And therein is the challenge we now face in the world and in our selves.

The mind of a lower level of consciousness is able to justify any and all actions. Just look the most violent people in history. They were able to justify themselves in their mind.

A higher level of consciousness sees the uniting SIMILARITIES of people, things, and actions rather than the separating DIFFERENCES that most of the worlds population have been trained from birth as a thought process. And because of this training from infancy most challenges are unable to be solved. Violence will continue because most people do not wish to change the way they think about themselves and others.

When a person gets upset at anothers actions, it is ALWAYS because they are seeing a mirror of their own unconsciously judged, unacceptable self. This is the causation of all wars, violence, discrimination, and greed. And it takes a higher level of consciousness to see this underlying perspective, the results of which are peace, authenticity, responsibility, kindness, and oneness.

The financial crisis will continue by those who created it by simply doing something “different” yet still not addressing the underlying causation because the answer is unable to be seen by those at the level of consciousness the problem was created on.

There IS an answer to world peace and the financial problems. It is an easy answer. It is just hard to do as it simply requires a change of perspective in the mind. The ultimate challenge is that it is impossible to be understood by those created the original problem.
And those are the ones who are in place to “solve” the challenges.

wow, when I read these blog posts after your (bill's) strong last editorial statement, I feel pretty hopeless- how to reconcile the opposing values/beliefs?

It's one thing to have powerful ideas- and another to bring peace.

thanks- for a program that presents vital, sometimes unseen/uncovered issues.

While I generally applaud efforts at tracking graft, corruption, and inefficiency in government, I have to say that, in the context of our economic troubles, the earmark issue is a tempest in a teacup.

$18B total dollars?! While the same Congress routinely enables big banks to steal the entire economy out from under us? And then rewards them with a $700B bailout gift bag for doing so?

Not to mention 7 years of an unnecessary, immoral, and record-breakingly expensive war, financed, not by higher taxes, but by deficit, thereby worsening our finacial mess.

Or 30 years of reducing taxes on the wealthy, thereby starving the government of the money it needs to do useful things for all of us.

And, in fact, earmarks are a way for members of Congress to horestrade with each other and get things done -- a sort of parliamentary grease that keeps the wheels moving. Certainly, as a percentage of government spending or the size of the US economy, earmarks are tiny.

So maybe we should forget earmarks and worry about the larger theft of our jobs, our pensions, our national infrastructure, our healthcare -- in short, our FUTURE -- by an oligopoly of greedy businessmen and venal members of Congress.

Excellent exposition!

Earmarks should be made illegal as they convolute and corrupt politicians and political actions.

Call me cynical, which would be true, but I am concerned that if the congress eliminates earmarks it is because the slicksters have already targeted a more sneaky practice to implement.

I hope the same kind of journalistic entegrity that brings these types of practices to light will keep an eye out for "corrupt political practices 2.0".

Excellent investigative journalism such as was brought to bear by the Seattle Times in it's painstaking efforts to re-construct earmarking practices has slowly led to the kind of pressure that changes bad policy.

The back half of political practice is under scrutiny and may change (earmarking). Now I hope the journalists can uncover a story that puts powerful pressue on the front half of the earmarking issue. This to me seems to be all too over used phrase of "campaign contribution reform".

Remove earmarks and radically change the way money flows to politicians for elections and then we might be onto something that could cause real change.

In the Constitutional Convention, Gouverneur Morris proposed restricting suffrage to freeholders. Madison reports him saying: "He had long learned not to be the dupe of words. The sound of Aristocracy therefore had no effect on him. It was the thing, not the name, to which he was opposed, and one of his principal objections to the Constitution as it is now before us, is that it threatens this Country with an Aristocracy. The aristocracy will grow out of the House of Representatives. Give the votes to people who have no property, and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them. We should not confine our attention to the present moment. The time is not distant when this Country will abound with mechanics & manufacturers who will receive their bread from their employers. Will such men be the secure & faithful Guardians of liberty? Will they be the impregnable barrier agst. aristocracy? -- He was as little duped by the association of the words 'taxation & Representation.' The man who does not give his vote freely is not represented. It is the man who dictates the vote. Children do not vote. Why? because they want prudence, because they have no will of their own. The ignorant & the dependent can be as little trusted with the public interest..." Madison added that the greatest political corruption in England had been in the cities and pocket boroughs. To which Ben Franklin replied that it would discourage those who had fought for independence, and others that it would divide the country, and the proposal was, of course, defeated. The Jeffersonians alleged that virtue was a myth and that all was for sale. The Jacksonians put this into practice in the 1830's and in the 1950s Robert Dahl and Charles Lindblom elevated interest group politics to the status of virtue, itself. Now they've put most all the discretionary spending in the defense appropriation. They've marked that SECRET, a matter of national security, and used it to line their pockets and fund their continuance in office.

Good Earmark research - - but what I heard Obama say is "there will be no earmarks in his recovery bill". That leaves all other bills open to Earmark pollution.

HEY MOYERS,, DO YOU REMEBER 9-11? ARE YOU JUST AS DISREPECTFUL TOWARD FDR. JFK. LBJ. AND HARRY TRUMAN AS YOU ARE TOWARD PRES, BUSH? THEY WERE ALL PRESIDENTS DURING WARS. WAR IS WAR!!SHOULD ISREAL JUST SIT BACK AND ALLOW THEIR COUNTRY TO BE BOMBED?

Bill Moyers is must watch TV. Thank you for talking sense about ear marks and hopefully helping to bring about change. I feel like Government is running out of time to regain our trust. Perhaps there are some in there that are trustworthy and want ear marks to be transparent.

Thank you again Bill. Thanks also for the dead parade and your comments on Gaza. Made me rethink my position.

Bill Moyers is must watch TV. Thank you for talking sense about ear marks and hopefully helping to bring about change. I feel like Government is running out of time to regain our trust. Perhaps there are some in there that are trustworthy and want ear marks to be transparent.

Thank you again Bill. Thanks also for the dead parade and your comments on Gaza. Made me rethink my position.

The problem with trying to reform Congress is that they have the power, and as we all know, power corrupts. This isn't just a saying, it is an absolute truism.

So instead of trying to force the powerful to act against their own corrupt interests, some people are trying to eliminate the powerful altogether. Not through revolution, but through simple web technologies.

Instead of having a few representatives who hold all the power, we now have the technology to implement real democracy without degrading into the traditional disadvantages of old fashioned direct democracy.

The Metagovernment is gradually, carefully building a web-based system which can act as the sole governance mechanism of any community of any size. It removes the need for any single empowered person to be "in charge." The beginning targets are very small communities such as private clubs and small organizations. The eventual target is the greatest centers of power, where corruption reigns supreme.

To learn more about the Metagovernment project (which of course is open to all and completely transparent), please visit: http://www.metagovernment.org

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