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October 15, 2012

Where to Find Me Now

By Bill Moyers

I’m delighted you chose to look through the revealing moments and eye-opening insights from Bill Moyers Journal, the weekly broadcasts we produced over three historic years from 2007 to 2010. We captured much of the excitement of democracy on trial during that time, including the momentous transition of power from George Bush to Barack Obama as the financial world came crashing down and our economy plunged to a depth not seen since the Great Depression. But even during calamitous events we also kept an eye on reverberations in society, faith, science, and art.

Continue reading "Where to Find Me Now" »


April 7, 2009

Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Changing the Rules of the Blame Game

A cartoon in the Sunday comics shows that mustachioed fellow with monocle and top hat from the Monopoly game – “Rich Uncle Pennybags,” he used to be called – standing along the roadside, destitute, holding a sign: “Will blame poor people for food.”

Time to move the blame to where it really belongs. That means no more coddling banks with bailout billions marked “secret.” No more allowing their executives lavish bonuses and new corporate jets as if they’ve won the megalottery and not sent the economy down the tubes. And no more apostles of Wall Street calling the shots.

Which brings us to Larry Summers. Over the weekend, the White House released financial disclosure reports revealing that Summers, director of the National Economic Council, received $5.2 million last year working for a $30 billion hedge fund. He made another $2.7 million in lecture fees, including cash from such recent beneficiaries of taxpayer generosity as Citigroup, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. The now defunct financial services giant Lehman Brothers handsomely purchased his pearls of wisdom, too.

Reading stories about Summers and Wall Street you realize the man was intoxicated by the exotic witches’ brew of derivatives and other financial legerdemain that got us into such a fine mess in the first place. Yet here he is, serving as gatekeeper of the information and analysis going to President Obama on the current collapse. We have to wonder, when the President asks, “Larry, who did this to us?” is he going to name names of old friends and benefactors? Knowing he most likely will be looking for his old desk back once he leaves the White House, is he going to be tough on the very system of lucrative largesse that he helped create in his earlier incarnation as a de-regulating Treasury Secretary? (“Larry?” “Yes, Mr. President?” “Who the hell recommended repealing the Glass-Steagall Act back in the 90s and opened the floodgates to all this greed?” “Uh, excuse me, Mr. President, I think Bob Rubin’s calling me.”)

Continue reading "Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Changing the Rules of the Blame Game" »


March 10, 2009

Bill Moyers Booklist

Bill Moyers shares the books on his current reading list:

John Grisham's THE ASSOCIATE. A posse of investigative journalists would be hard pressed to dig out the truth about our legal system revealed in a riveting read of fewer than 400 furiously turned pages.

  • View Bill Moyers interview with John Grisham

    THE GREAT FINANCIAL CRISIS: CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES, by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff. With all the charges of "socialist" hurled at Barack Obama from the howling back benches, I decided it was time to find out what some real socialists are saying about the crisis of monopoly capitalism. It's a short book long on insight.

  • More on the financial crisis

    THE FIVE LOST DAYS, by my colleague William Petrick, a fine journalist turned novelist whose story of filmmaking in the jungles of Guatemala makes me grateful for all the close calls I avoided in a lifetime of reporting documentaries. It's quite an experience he concocts, utterly believable -- and downright scary.

    Charles Taylor's A SECULAR AGE. Because I'm planning to interview the author, winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize (and protege of Isaiah Berlin), I began this 900-page tome as an act of professional duty, only to discover, with much delight, that every page is a baptism of insight. It will take months to finish, obviously, but this is not a subject to be hurried. Taylor writes as if he is sitting across the table, taking you as seriously as he does the real world of faith and reason.

  • View the series BILL MOYERS ON FAITH AND REASON

    Also, check out what books viewers suggested for the new president's bedside table -- and tell us your own required reading by commenting below.


  • February 10, 2009

    Ask Bill Moyers

    If you didn't get a chance to get your question answered during the live chat with Bill Moyers, post it here. He will answer some of the questions in coming days.

    You can read a transcript of the chat at pbs.org


    January 2, 2009

    Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Making 'Duck Soup' Out Of 2009

    As 2008 ends and this New Year begins, with all its fledgling promise despite turmoil and crisis, it’s also that time when the media offers its lists of ten best or worst this and that of the previous year, an exercise that simultaneously entertains and infuriates.

    Forced at knifepoint to make such lists, at least ours would be a little different. One would be favorite headlines of the year from THE ONION, the hilarious weekly that doesn’t bill itself as “America’s finest news source” for nothing. If you can read it without laughing, you probably have been paying too much attention to your 401K.

    Some of the ones we liked best:

    $700 BILLION BAILOUT CELEBRATED WITH LAVISH $800 BILLION EXECUTIVE PARTY

    GM COVERED WITH GIANT TARP UNTIL IT HAS MONEY TO WORK ON CARS AGAIN

    AMERICAN AIRLINES NOW CHARGING FEES TO NON-PASSENGERS

    CHINA RECALLS EVERYTHING

    HOUSING CRISIS VINDICATES GUY WHO STILL LIVES WITH PARENTS

    FACTUAL ERROR FOUND ON INTERNET

    Of course, the problem THE ONION’s editors have is that reality too often resembles parody. Take the story of Chip Saltsman, the guy campaigning to be chairman of the Republican National Committee by promoting himself with a CD featuring a song called, “Barack, the Magic Negro.” That ditty, you’ll recall, was made famous on Rush Limbaugh’s minstrel show, as sung by an Al Sharpton impersonator. Even THE ONION couldn’t come up with that one.

    Continue reading "Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Making 'Duck Soup' Out Of 2009" »


    October 31, 2008

    Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: The Sounds of Voting -- And Writing Checks

    Our Manhattan offices are in a building that also houses the New York City Board of Elections. So this is the season when we hear above our heads the sounds of heavy objects rolling across the floor into freight elevators. The moving men have arrived – and what they're transporting are voting machines being carted off to polling places.

    It's reassuring, the sound of those big metal boxes being rolled out so we can cast our votes, but all too often in our fair city (as no doubt where you live, too) we are confronted by an end run on the part of a political elite, many of whom don’t really trust what comes out of the ballot box on Election Day unless they’ve fixed what goes in.

    For some weeks now we’ve watched our mayor, Mike Bloomberg, maneuver to undermine the will of the people. Once upon a time the mayor supported the rule that city officials can only serve two terms. But then someone pointed out term limits applied to him, too, and that he couldn’t run for a third term. So he set out to change the rules. But instead of asking the people to vote on it in a public referendum, the mayor decided he couldn’t risk his ambition on a fickle public.

    So he turned first to his fellow moguls who own the city’s major newspapers – Murdoch, of the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal; Zuckerman of the Daily News, and Sulzberger of The New York Times. Then, according to the Times, with his considerable philanthropic clout – before the financial meltdown, his worth was some $20 billion dollars – the mayor leaned for support on the community and arts groups that depend on his charitable largesse.

    Then he dodged the public referendum process by jawboning and cajoling the city council whose members, lo and behold, would also enjoy a chance at a third term just by giving the mayor what he wants.

    By just about all accounts Mayor Bloomberg has been a fine mayor, and there are good people arguing that Gotham City needs his unique experience during a financial crisis that not even Batman or Spiderman can untangle. But New York said no to Rudy Giuliani when he tried to pull the third term hat trick in the aftermath of 9/11, and under other circumstances it’s likely Bloomberg, too, would have been told, “No, thank you. We prefer due process.”

    Continue reading "Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: The Sounds of Voting -- And Writing Checks" »


    September 19, 2008

    Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Moguls Steal Home While Companies Strike Out

    From our offices in Manhattan, we look out on the tall, gleaming skyscrapers that are cathedrals of wealth and power – the Olympus ruled by the gods of finance, the temples of the mighty, the holy of holies, whose priests guard the sacred texts of salvation – the ones containing the secrets of subprime lending and derivatives as mysterious and elusive as the Grail itself.

    This last couple of weeks, ordinary mortals below could almost hear the ripcords of golden parachutes being pulled as the divinities on high prepared for soft, safe landings -- all this while tossing their workers like sacrificial lambs into the purgatory of unemployment.

    During the last five years of his tenure as CEO of now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld’s total take was $354 million. John Thain, the current chairman of Merrill Lynch, taken over this week by Bank of America, has been on the job for just nine months. He pocketed a $15 million signing bonus. His predecessor, Stan O’Neal, retired with a package valued at $161 million, after the company reported an eight billion dollar loss in a single quarter. And remember Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne? After the company collapsed earlier this year and was up for sale at bargain basement prices, he sold his stake for more than $60 million.

    Daniel Mudd and Richard Syron, the former heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – aka the gods who failed – are fighting to keep severance packages of close to $24 million combined – on top of the millions in salary each earned last year while slaughtering the golden calf. As it is written in the Gospel According to Me, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

    Continue reading "Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Moguls Steal Home While Companies Strike Out" »


    February 15, 2008

    Power Reading: A Final Note

    Watch Video

    We invite you to respond by commenting below.


    January 25, 2008

    Moyers on the Rhetoric and the Reality

    Iraq
    Watch Video

    We invite you to respond by commenting below.


    January 18, 2008

    Moyers on Clinton, Obama, King and Johnson

    LBJ and Martin Luther King, Johnson Library
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    We invite you to respond by commenting below.


    October 12, 2007

    Honoring Doris Lessing

    A Bill Moyers essay on recent Nobel Prize in Literature recipient, Doris Lessing.. For more on Ms. Lessing, click here.

    Can't Play This Video? Click here for quicktime and windows media versions.

    We invite you to respond to this essay and Ms. Lessing's work by commenting below.


    September 28, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: For the Fallen

    Can't Play This Video? Click here for quicktime and windows media versions.

    Then tell us what you think by commenting below.


    July 13, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: The War Debate

    Click the picture above to watch Bill Moyers' essay on the ongoing war debate in Congress.

    Then tell us what you think by commenting below.


    June 29, 2007

    Moyers on Murdoch

    Watch the videoIf Rupert Murdoch were the Angel Gabriel, you still wouldn’t want him owning the sun, the moon, and the stars. That’s too much prime real estate for even the pure in heart.

    But Rupert Murdoch is no saint; he is to propriety what the Marquis de Sade was to chastity. When it comes to money and power he’s carnivorous: all appetite and no taste. He’ll eat anything in his path. Politicians become little clay pigeons to be picked off with flattering headlines, generous air time, a book contract or the old-fashioned black jack that never misses: campaign cash. He hires lobbyists the way Imelda Marcos bought shoes, and stacks them in his cavernous closet, along with his conscience; this is the man, remember, who famously kowtowed to the Communist overlords of China, oppressors of their own people, to protect his investments there.

    Continue reading "Moyers on Murdoch" »


    June 15, 2007

    Begging His Pardon

    by Bill Moyers

    We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites—the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail.

    It is well known that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby—once Vice President Cheney’s most trusted adviser—has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie. Scooter Libby deliberately poured poison into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice.

    Attempting to trash critics of the war, Libby and his pals in high places—including his boss Dick Cheney—outed a covert CIA agent. Libby then lied toLibby cover their tracks. To throw investigators off the trail, he kicked sand in the eyes of truth. "Libby lied about nearly everything that mattered,” wrote the chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury agreed and found him guilty on four felony counts. Judge Reggie B. Walton—a no-nonsense, lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key type, appointed to the bench by none other than George W. Bush—called the evidence “overwhelming” and threw the book at Libby.

    You would have thought their man had been ordered to Guantanamo, so intense was the reaction from his cheerleaders. They flooded the judge's chambers with letters of support for their comrade and took to the airwaves in a campaign to “free Scooter.”

    Vice President Cheney issued a statement praising Libby as “a man…of personal integrity”—without even a hint of irony about their collusion to browbeat the CIA into mangling intelligence about Iraq in order to justify the invasion.

    “A patriot, a dedicated public servant, a strong family man, and a tireless, honorable, selfless human being,” said Donald Rumsfeld—the very same Rumsfeld who had claimed to know the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction and who boasted of “bulletproof” evidence linking Saddam to 9/11. “A good person” and “decent man,” said the one-time Pentagon adviser Kenneth Adelman, who had predicted the war in Iraq would be a “cakewalk.” Paul Wolfowitz wrote a four-page letter to praise “the noblest spirit of selfless service” that he knew motivated his friend Scooter. Yes, that Paul Wolfowitz, who had claimed Iraqis would “greet us as liberators” and that Iraq would “finance its own reconstruction.” The same Paul Wolfowitz who had to resign recently as president of the World Bank for using his office to show favoritism to his girlfriend. Paul Wolfowitz turned character witness.

    The praise kept coming: from Douglas Feith, who ran the Pentagon factory of disinformation that Cheney and Libby used to brainwash the press; from Richard Perle, as cocksure about Libby’s “honesty, integrity, fairness and balance” as he had been about the success of the war; and from William Kristol, who had primed the pump of the propaganda machine at THE WEEKLY STANDARD and has led the call for a Presidential pardon. “The case was such a farce, in my view,” he said. “I’m for pardon on the merits.”

    One beltway insider reports that the entire community is grieving—“weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness” of Libby's sentence.

    And there’s the rub.

    None seem the least weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness of sentencing soldiers to repeated and longer tours of duty in a war induced by deception. It was left to the hawkish academic Fouad Ajami to state the matter baldly. In a piece published on the editorial page of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Ajami pleaded with Bush to pardon Libby. For believing “in the nobility of this war,” wrote Ajami, Scooter Libby had himself become a “casualty”—a fallen soldier the President dare not leave behind on the Beltway battlefield.

    Not a word in the entire article about the real fallen soldiers. The honest-to-God dead, and dying, and wounded. Not a word about the chaos or the cost. Even as the calamity they created worsens, all they can muster is a cry for leniency for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks.

    There are contrarian voices: “This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice,” said Pat Buchanan. “The Republican Party stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators.” From the former Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore, a staunch conservative, comes this verdict: “If the public believes there’s one law for a certain group of people in high places and another law for regular people, then you will destroy the law and destroy the system.”

    So it may well be, as THE HARTFORD COURANT said editorially, that Mr Libby is “a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot…but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn’t matter much.”


    May 23, 2007

    Bill Moyers Responds...

    Greetings to all:

    I've been faithfully reading your posts during the weekends after each broadcast and wish that I could respond to each one individually. But not even Wm. F. Buckley could pull that off in today's vast cosmos of correspondents — and he was the best at answering letters of any editor around. I'll just make a few comments in response to some posts that represent more than one communicator:

    --------------------

    Benjamin asked: "Why do commentators and analysts use the term "we" when discussing the actions of the central government of the United States, as in: " 'We' bombed Iraq," or " 'We' tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib," etc?"

    Benjamin, you're right about commentators and analysts using the term "we" when discussing the actions of the U.S. government. It's a sloppy habit, an expression sometimes of the "royal we" — ruling elites; sometimes of the "imperial we" — the superpower complex; or just a hasty short cut. But it's imprecise and misleading. The White House is not the government and the government is not the country. So keep rapping our knuckles when "we" do it.

    Ralph asked: "Somewhere I heard you were raised in a strong Biblical setting as I was. What do you believe today?"

    Ralph, I did grow up in a strong Protestant East Texas culture and was at home in it; I even went on to get a master's in divinity because I thought I would pursue a religious vocation. But seminary, as someone said, is where your questions are answered and life after seminary is when your answers are questioned. Furthermore, one day, if you're lucky, you discover the world's your home and you need a different vocabulary to describe your travels through it. Seems to me that wrestling with the questions is the heart of the matter. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" those words are inscribed above the main building at my very secular alma mater, the University of Texas.

    Continue reading "Bill Moyers Responds..." »


    May 18, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: SOS

    It's time to send an SOS for the least among us — I mean small independent magazines. They are always struggling to survive while making a unique contribution to the conversation of democracy. Magazines like NATIONAL REVIEW, THE AMERICAN PROSPECT, SOJOURNERS, THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, THE NATION, WASHINGTON MONTHLY, MOTHER JONES, IN THESE TIMES, WORLD MAGAZINE, THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, REASON and many others.

    The Internet may be the way of the future, but for today much of what you read on the Web is generated by newspapers and small magazines. They may be devoted to a cause, a party, a worldview, an issue, an idea, or to one eccentric person's vision of what could be, but they nourish the public debate. America wouldn't be the same without them.

    Our founding fathers knew this; knew that a low-cost postal incentive was crucial to giving voice to ideas from outside the main tent. So they made sure such publications would get a break in the cost of reaching their readers. That's now in jeopardy. An impending rate hike, worked out by postal regulators, with almost no public input but plenty of corporate lobbying, would reward big publishers like Time Warner, while forcing these smaller periodicals into higher subscription fees, big cutbacks and even bankruptcy.

    It's not too late. The postal service is a monopoly, but if its governors, and especially members of Congress, hear from enough citizens, they could have a change of heart. So, liberal or conservative, left or right, libertarian, vegetarian, communitarian or Unitarian, or simply good Samaritan, let's make ourselves heard.






    For more information, please visit:
    http://action.freepress.net/freepress/postal_explanation.html


    May 11, 2007

    Bill Moyers Essay: The Cost of War


    Watch the video

    Tonight on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL, a report on the true human cost of war.

    Click the picture above to watch the essay in entirety.

    How has this war cost you?


    April 27, 2007

    Bill Moyers: On the Record

    Since the Wednesday broadcast of our documentary Buying the War there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from the press and the public, some of it right here on this blog. But some in the White House press corps have expressed dissatisfaction over the way we portrayed the Presidential press conference of March 6, 2003. Bill Plante, a friend and former colleague, and April Ryan of the Urban Radio Networks have contacted me directly, and CBS's Mark Knoller made comments that ran at CBSNews.com.

    I invite you to watch what we ran in the documentary and read the transcript and judge for yourself. We posted the transcript on our site before the broadcast, by the way.

    Continue reading "Bill Moyers: On the Record" »


    April 17, 2007

    Bill's Column: John Walcott Speech

    This coming Wednesday on PBS, you'll meet John Walcott, Washington Bureau Chief of Knight Ridder, now McClatchy, and one of the few voices of skepticism about the Iraq War from the very beginning. Here's an excerpt from a speech John gave, as he wrestles with how the Iraq war was mishandled:

    I, think that we're in the mess we're in in Iraq not only because the administration invaded Iraq with too few troops, without significant international support, with no exit strategy and by diverting resources from the unfinished war against al Qaida, but also because two other American institutions fell down on the job. First the Congress. What we hear today, from some Democratic presidential candidates and others, is this: "If I had known then what I know today, I would never have voted to go to war." My response is this: You could have known then what you know today, and you should have known then what you know today. It was your job, and no part of your job is more important than a decision to send some of our finest young men and women to war.

    ...the second institution that failed us is my own, the press. There were much bigger problems with the media after 9/11 than just too-cozy relationships with the wrong sources and timidity about challenging a popular president in the wake of an attack on our country. There was simple laziness: Much of what the administration said, especially about Iraq and al Qaida, simply made no sense, yet very few reporters bothered to check it out. They were stenographers; they were not reporters.

    -John Walcott, Bureau Chief, McClatchy Washington Bureau

    You can read the full speech here. As I read your comments on this blog, it seems many of you are wrestling with the same issues:

    On April 18, 2007 09:10 AM, Jill H. wrote:

    I have a son who will soon be returning for his second deployment to Falluja, and a husband who has retired from the Navy. I am in no way saying that I disrespect the job our military personnel do. But I do believe that freedom is not free - and it is our duty to fully examine our motives, and the impact we have on people around the world. We have a moral responsibility for our actions.

    One thing I find most frightening is the comments from people (who often have never served in the military) who believe that survival means destroying others as a preventative measure against harm, and that, if you are too cowardly to accept that, they would just as soon kill you too, since you aren't worth being a part of their tribe. Is this really what it means to be an American?

    Good question Jill, what do you all think?


    April 16, 2007

    Welcome to The Blog

    Watch the video Hello, I'm Bill Moyers. It's been my pleasure through the years to hear thoughtful responses from so many of you after our broadcast. Whether you've agreed or disagreed, I've always been impressed by your willingness to join the dialogue. Well here's a new twist, to accompany our weekly broadcast, we're launching a blog: a community of viewers seeking out new points of view, and expressing and exchanging ideas. We'll offer you some food for thought, more from our guests, fresh voices, articles of note, and invite you hopefully to reason together. From time to time, I'll be weighing in myself, so we hope you'll check back often, tune in and tell us what you think, here at pbs.org.




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