BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

NAOMI KLEIN: The whole business model for the fossil fuel industry is based on burning five times more carbon than is compatible with a livable planet. So what we're saying is, "Your business model is at war with life on this planet. It's at war with us."


TREVOR POTTER: There's something fundamentally flawed about a system where in order to get elected the members of Congress have to rely on the very people who are lobbying them day in and day out. Because that's their principal source of funding, those lobbyists and the interests they represent.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. The Sherlock Holmes of money in politics -- Trevor Potter -- is here with some clues to what the billionaires and super PACs got for their lavish spending in the most expensive election in our history. In a nutshell: "You ain't seen nothing yet."

But first, if you've been curious about why New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama for re-election, just take another look at the widespread havoc caused by the Frankenstorm benignly named Sandy. Having surveyed all this damage Bloomberg Business Week concluded: “It’s Global Warming, Stupid: If Hurricane Sandy doesn't persuade Americans to get serious about climate change, nothing will."

Well it was enough to prompt President Obama, at his press conference this week, to say more about global warming than he did all year.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

BILL MOYERS: But he made it clear that actually doing something about it will take a back seat to the economy for now. He did return to New York on Thursday to review the recovery effort on Staten Island. Climate change and Hurricane Sandy brought Naomi Klein to town, too. You may know her as the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” Readers of two influential magazines to put Naomi Klein high on the list of the 100 leading public thinkers in the world. She is now reporting for a new book and documentary on how climate change can spur political and economic transformation. She also has joined with the environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben in a campaign launched this week called "Do the Math." More on that shortly.

Naomi Klein, Welcome.

NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you so much.

BILL MOYERS: First, congratulations on the baby.

NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you so much.

BILL MOYERS: How old now?

NAOMI KLEIN: He is five months today.

BILL MOYERS: First child?

NAOMI KLEIN: My first child, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: How does a child change the way you see the world?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well it lengthens your timeline definitely. I’m really immersed in climate science right now because of the project I’m working on is related to that. So you know there are always these projections into the future, you know, what's going to happen in 2050? What's going to happen in 2080? And I think when you're solo, you think, "Okay, well, how old will I be then?" Well, you know, and now I'm thinking how old will he be then, right? And so, it's not that-- but I don't like the idea that, "Okay, now I care about the future now that I have a child." I think that everybody cares about the future. And I cared about it when I didn't have a child, too.

BILL MOYERS: Well, I understand that but we're so complacent about climate change. A new study shows that while the number of people who believe it's happening has increased by, say, three percentage points over the last year, the number of people who don't think it is human caused has dropped.

NAOMI KLEIN: It has dropped dramatically. I mean, the statistics on this are quite incredible. 2007, according to a Harris poll, 71 percent of Americans believed that climate change was real, that it was human caused. And by last year, that number went down to 44 percent. 71 percent to 44 percent, that is an unbelievable drop in belief. But then you look at the coverage that the issue's received in the media. And it's also dropped dramatically from that high point. 2007, you know, this was this moment where, you know, Hollywood was on board. “Vanity Fair” launched their annual green issue.

And by the way, there hasn't been an annual green issue since 2008. Stars were showing up to the Academy Awards in hybrid cars. And there was a sense, you know, we all have to play our part, including the elites. And that has really been lost. And that's why it's got to come from the bottom up this time.

BILL MOYERS: But what do you think happened to diminish the enthusiasm for doing something about it, the attention from the press, the interest of the elite? What is it?

NAOMI KLEIN: I think we're up against a very powerful lobby. And you know, this is the fossil fuel lobby. And they have every reason in the world to prevent this from being the most urgent issue on our agenda. And I think, you know, if we look at the history of the environmental movement, going back 25 years to when this issue really broke through, you know, when James Hansen testified before Congress, that--

BILL MOYERS: The NASA scientist, yeah.

NAOMI KLEIN: Exactly, our foremost climate scientist, and said, "I believe it is happening. And I believe it is human caused." That was the moment where we could no longer deny that we knew, right? I mean, scientists actually knew what well beforehand. But that was the breakthrough moment. And that was 1988. And if we think about what else was happening in the late '80s? Well, the Berlin Wall fell the next year. And the end of history was declared. And, you know, climate change in a sense, it hit us at the worst possible historical moment. Because it does require collective action, right? It does require that we, you, regulate corporations. That you get, you know, that you plan collectively as a society. And at the moment that it hit the mainstream, all of those ideas fell into disrepute, right? It was all supposed to be free market solutions. Governments were supposed to get out of the way of corporations. Planning was a dirty word, that was what communists did, right? Anything collective was a dirty word. Margaret Thatcher said, "There's no such thing as society."

Now if you believe that, you can't do anything about climate change, because it is the essence of a collective problem. This is our collective atmosphere. We can only respond to this collectively. So the environmental movement responded to that by really personalizing the problem and saying, "Okay, you recycle. And you buy a hybrid car." And treating this like this could or we'll have business-friendly solutions like cap and trade and carbon offsetting. That doesn't work. So that's part of the problem. So you have this movement that every once in a while would rear up and people would get all excited and we're really going to do something about this. And whether it was the Rio Summit or the Copenhagen Summit or that moment when Al Gore came out with Inconvenient Truth, but then it would just recede, because it didn’t have that collective social support that it needed.

And on top of that, you have, we've had this concerted campaign by the fossil fuel lobby to both buy off the environmental movement, to defame the environmental movement, to infiltrate the environmental movement, and to spread lies in the culture. And that's what the climate denial movement has been doing so effectively.

BILL MOYERS: I read a piece just this week by the environmental writer Glenn Scherer. He took a look and finds that over the last two years, the lion's share of the damage from extreme weather, floods, tornadoes, droughts, thunder storms, wind storms, heat waves, wildfires, has occurred in Republican-leaning red states. But those states have sent a whole new crop of climate change deniers to Congress.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, someone's going to have to explain Oklahoma to me, you know?

BILL MOYERS: My native state.

NAOMI KLEIN: My sister lives in Oklahoma. And, you know, it is so shocking that James Inhofe, the foremost climate denying senator is from the state that is so deeply climate effected. There was something, actually, I was-- last year I covered the Heartland Conference, which is the annual confab for all the climate deniers. And James Inhofe was supposed to be the keynote speaker. And the first morning of the conference, there was lots of buzz. He’s the rock star among the climate deniers. Inhofe is coming, he's opening up this conference, right? And the first morning the main conference organizer stands up at breakfast and lets loose the bad news that James Inhofe has called in sick and he can't make it.

And it turns out that he had gone swimming in a lake filled with blue-green algae, which is actually a climate-related issue. When lakes get too warm, this blue-green algae spreads. And he had gone swimming. And he had gotten sick from the blue-green algae. So he actually arguably had a climate-related illness and couldn't come to the climate change conference. But even though he was sick, he wrote a letter from his sickbed just telling them what a great job he was doing. So the powers of denial are amazingly strong, Bill. If you are deeply invested in this free-market ideology, you know, if you really believe with your heart and soul that everything public and anything the government does is evil and that, you know, our liberation will come from liberating corporations, then climate change fundamentally challenges your worldview, precisely because we have to regulate.

We have to plan. We can't leave everything to the free market. In fact, climate change is, I would argue, the greatest single free-market failure. This is what happens when you don't regulate corporations and you allow them to treat the atmosphere as an open sewer. So it isn't just, "Okay, the fossil fuel companies want to protect their profits." It's that it's that this science threatens a worldview. And when you dig deeper, when you drill deeper into those statistics about the drop in belief in climate change, what you see is that Democrats still believe in in climate change, in the 70th percentile. That whole drop of belief, drop off in belief has happened on the right side of the political spectrum. So the most reliable predictor of whether or not somebody believes that climate change is real is what their views are on a range of other political subjects. You know, what do you think about abortion? What is your view of taxes? And what you find is that people who have very strong conservative political beliefs cannot deal with this science, because it threatens everything else they believe.

BILL MOYERS: Do you really believe, are you convinced that there are no free-market solutions? There's no way to let the market help us solve this crisis?

NAOMI KLEIN: No, absolutely the market can play a role. There are things that government can do to incentivize the free market to do a better job, yes. But is that a replacement for getting in the way, actively, of the fossil fuel industry and preventing them from destroying our chances of a future on a livable planet? It's not a replacement.

We have to do both. Yes, we need these market incentives on the one hand to encourage renewable energy. But we also need a government that's willing to say no. No, you can't mine the Alberta tar sands and burn enough carbon that you will have game over for the climate as James Hansen has said.

BILL MOYERS: But I'm one of those who is the other end of the corporation. I mean, we had a crisis in New York the last two weeks. We couldn't get gasoline for the indispensable vehicles that get us to work, get us to the supermarket, get us to our sick friends or neighbors. I mean, the point I'm trying to make is we are all the fossil fuel industry, are we not?

NAOMI KLEIN: You know, we often hear that. We often hear that we're all equally responsible for climate change. And that it's just the rules of supply and demand.

BILL MOYERS: I have two cars. I keep them filled with gasoline.

NAOMI KLEIN: But I think the question is, you know, if there was a fantastic public transit system that really made it easy for you to get where you wanted to go, would you drive less? So I don't know about you, but I, you know, I certainly would.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, I use the subways all the time here.

NAOMI KLEIN: And if it was possible to recharge an electric vehicle, if it was as easy to do that as it is to fill up your car with gasoline, you know, if that electricity came from solar and wind, would you insist, "No, I want to fill my car with, you know, with dirty energy"? No, I don't think you would. Because this is what I think we have expressed over and over again. We are willing to make changes. You know we recycle and we compost. We ride bicycles. I mean, there there's actually been a tremendous amount of willingness and goodwill for people to change their behavior. But I think where people get demoralized is when they see, "Okay, I'm making these changes, but emissions are still going up, because the corporations aren't changing how they do business." So no, I don't think we're all equally guilty.

BILL MOYERS: President Obama managed to avoid the subject all through the campaign and he hasn’t exactly been leading the way.

NAOMI KLEIN: He has not been leading the way. And in fact, you know, he spent a lot of time on the campaign bragging about how much pipeline he's laid down and this ridiculous notion of an all of the above energy strategy, as if you can, you know, develop solar and wind alongside more coal, you know, more oil, more natural gas, and it's all going to work out in the end.

No, it doesn't add up. And, you know, I think personally, I think the environmental movement has been a little too close to Obama. And, you know, we learned, for instance, recently, about a meeting that took place shortly after Obama was elected where the message that all these big green groups got was, "We don't want to talk about climate change. We want to talk about green jobs and energy security." And a lot of these big green groups played along. So I feel--

BILL MOYERS: You mean the big environmental groups?

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, big environmental groups went along with this messaging, talking about energy security, instead of talking about climate change, 'cause they were told that that wasn't a winnable message. I just think it's wrong. I think it's bad strategy.

BILL MOYERS: He got reelected.

NAOMI KLEIN: He got, well, he got reelected, but you know what? I think he, I think Hurricane Sandy helped Obama get reelected.


NAOMI KLEIN: Well, look at the Bloomberg endorsement that came at the last minute. I mean, Bloomberg endorsed Obama because of climate change. Because he believed that this was an issue that voters cared enough about that they would, that Independents would swing to Obama over climate change, and some of the polling absolutely supports this, that this was one of the reasons why people voted for Obama over Romney was that they were concerned about climate change and they felt that he was a better candidate on climate change.

The truth was, we didn't have a good candidate. We had a terrible, terrible candidate on climate change, and we had a candidate on climate change who needs a lot of pressure. So I feel more optimistic than I did in 2008, because I think in 2008 the attitude of the environmental movement was, "Our guy just got in and we need to support him. And he's going to give us the legislation that we, that we want. And we're going to take his advice. And we're going to be good little soldiers."

And now maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I think that people learned the lesson of the past four years. And people now understand that what Obama needs or what we need, forget what Obama needs, is a real independent movement with climate change at its center and that's going to put pressure on the entire political class and directly on the fossil fuel companies on this issue. And there's no waiting around for Obama to do it for you.

BILL MOYERS: Why would you think that the next four years of a lame duck president would be more successful from your standpoint than the first four years, when he's looking to reelection?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I think on the one hand, we're going to see more direct action. But the other strategy is to go where the problem is. And the problem is the companies themselves. And we’re launching the “Do the Math” tour which is actually trying to kick off a divestment movement. I mean, we're going after these companies where it hurts, which is their portfolios, which is their stock price.

BILL MOYERS: You're asking people to disinvest, to take their money out of, universities in particular, right? This is what happened during the fight against apartheid in South Africa and ultimately proved successful.

NAOMI KLEIN: Yeah, and this is, we are modeling it on the anti-apartheid divestment movement. And the reason it's called “Do the Math” is because of this new body of research that came out last year. A group in Britain called “The Carbon Tracker Initiative.” And this is, you know, a fairly conservative group that addresses itself to the financial community. This is not, you know, sort of activist research. This is a group that identified a market bubble and were concerned about this meant to investors. So it's a pretty conservative take on it. And what the numbers that they crunched found is that if we are going to ward off truly catastrophic climate change, we need to keep the increase, the temperature increase, below 2 degrees centigrade.

NAOMI KLEIN: The problem with that is that they also measured how much the fossil fuel companies and countries who own their own national oil reserves have now currently in their reserves, which means they have already laid claim to this. They already own it. It's already inflating their stock price, okay? So how much is that? It's five times more. So that means that the whole business model for the fossil fuel industry is based on burning five times more carbon than is compatible with a livable planet. So what we're saying is, "Your business model is at war with life on this planet. It's at war with us. And we need to fight back."

So we're saying, "These are rogue companies. And we think in particular young people whose whole future lies ahead of them have to send a message to their universities, who, and, you know, almost every university has a huge endowment. And there isn't an endowment out there that doesn't have holdings in these fossil fuel companies. And so young people are saying to the people who charged with their education, charged with preparing them for the outside world, for their future jobs, "Explain to me how you can prepare me for a future that with your actions you're demonstrating you don't believe in. How can you prepare me for a future at the same time as you bet against my future with these fossil fuel holdings? You do the math and you tell me." And I think there's a tremendous moral clarity that comes from having that kind of a youth-led movement. So we're really excited about it.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean rogue corporations? You're talking about Chevron and Exxon-Mobil and BP and all of these huge capitalist or institutions.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, rogue corporations, because their business model involves externalizing the price of their waste onto the rest of us. So their business model is based on not having to pay for what they think of as an externality, which is the carbon that's spewed into the atmosphere that is warming the planet. And that price is enormous. We absolutely know that the future is going to be filled with many more such super storms and many more such costly, multibillion-dollar disasters. It's already happening. Last year was-- there were more billion-dollar disasters than any year previously. So climate change is costing us. And yet you see this squabbling at, you know, the state level, at the municipal level, over who is going to pay for this

NAOMI KLEIN: The public sector doesn't have the money to pay for what these rogue corporations have left us with, the price tag of climate change. So we have to do two things. We have to make sure that it doesn't get worse, that the price tag doesn’t get higher. And we need to get some of that money back, which means, you know, looking at issues like fossil fuel subsidies and, you know, to me, it's so crazy. I mean, here we are post-Hurricane Sandy. Everyone is saying, "Well, maybe this is going to be our wakeup call." And right now in New York City, the debate is over how much to increase fares in public transit. And they want to, the Metro Transit Authority wants to increase the price of riding the subway, you know, the price of riding the trains, quite a bit. And so how does this make sense? We're supposedly having a wakeup call about climate change. And we're making it harder for people to use public transit. And that's because we don't have the resources that we need.

BILL MOYERS: You've been out among the areas of devastation. Why?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, for this book I'm currently writing about climate change and a documentary to go with it, so we were filming in the Rockaways, which is one of the hardest-hit areas and Staten Island and in Red Hook. And also in the relief hubs, where you see just a tremendous number of volunteers organized by, actually, organized by Occupy Wall Street. They call it Occupy Sandy.


NAOMI KLEIN: Yes. And what I found is that people are—the generosity is tremendous, the humanity is tremendous. I saw a friend last night, and I asked her whether she'd been involved in the hurricane relief. And she said, "Yeah, I gave them my car. I hope I get it back. If you see it, tell me." So people are tremendous.

BILL MOYERS: This means--

NAOMI KLEIN: So one of the things that you find out in a disaster is you really do need a public sector. It really important. And coming back to what we were talking about earlier, why is climate change so threatening to people on the conservative end of the political spectrum? One of the things it makes an argument for is the public sphere. You need public transit to prevent climate change. But you also need a public health care system to respond to it. It can't just be ad hoc. It can't just be charity and goodwill.

BILL MOYERS: When you use terms like “collective action,” “central planning,” you scare corporate executive and the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation because they say you want to do away with capitalism.

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, first of all, I don't use a phrase like "central planning." I talk about planning, but I don't think it should be central. And one of the things that one must admit when looking at climate change is that the only thing just as bad or maybe even worse for the climate than capitalism was communism. And when we look at the carbon emissions for the eastern bloc countries, they were actually, in some cases, worse than countries like Australia or Canada. So, let's just call it a tie. So we need to look for other models. And I think there needs to be much more decentralization and a much deeper definition of democracy than we have right now.

BILL MOYERS: Decentralization of what, Naomi?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, for instance, you know, if we think about renewable energy, well, one of the things that's happened is that when you try to get wind farms set up, really big wind farms, there's usually a lot of community resistance that's happened in the United States. It's happened in Britain. Where it hasn't happened is Germany and Denmark. And the reason for that is that in those places you have movements that have demanded that the renewable energy be community controlled, not centrally planned, but community controlled. So that there's a sense of ownership, not by some big, faceless state, but by the people who actually live in the community that is impacted.

BILL MOYERS: You've written that climate change has little to do with the state of the environment, but much to do with the state of capitalism and transforming the American economic system. And you see an opening with Sandy, right?

NAOMI KLEIN: I do see an opening, because, you know, whenever you have this kind of destruction, there has to be a reconstruction. And what I documented in “The Shock Doctrine” is that these right-wing think tanks, like the ones you named, like the American Enterprise Institute or the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, they historically have gotten very, very good at seizing these moments of opportunity to push through their wish list of policies.

And often their wish list of policies actually dig us deeper into crisis. If I can just-- if you'll bear with me, I'll just give you one example. After Hurricane Katrina, there was a meeting at the Heritage Foundation, just two weeks after the storm hit. Parts of the city were still underwater. And there was a meeting, the “Wall Street Journal” reported on it. And I got the minutes from the meeting.

The heading was 31 free market solutions for Hurricane Katrina. And you go down the list and it was: and don't reopen the public schools, replace the public schools with vouchers. And drill for oil in ANWAR, in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, more oil refineries. So what kind of free market solutions are these, right?

Here you have a crisis that was created by a collision between heavy weather (which may or may not have been linked to climate change, but certainly it's what climate change looks like) colliding with weak infrastructure, because of years and years of neglect. And the free market solutions to this crisis are, "Let's just get rid of the public infrastructure altogether and drill for more oil, which is the root cause of climate change." So that's their shock doctrine. And I think it's time for a people's shock.

BILL MOYERS: People’s shock?

NAOMI KLEIN: A people's shock, which actually we've had before, as you know, where, you know, if you think about 1929 and the market shock, and the way in which the public responded. They wanted to get at the root of the problem. And they wanted to get away from speculative finance and that's how we got some very good legislation passed in this country like Glass-Steagall, and much of the social safety net was born in that moment. Not by exploiting crisis to horde power for the few and to ram through policies that people don't want, but to build popular movements and to really deepen democracy.

BILL MOYERS: Well, the main thesis of “Shock Doctrine,” which came out five years ago before the great crash was that disaster capitalism exploits crises in order to move greater wealth to the hands of the fewer and fewer people. You don't expect those people to change their appetites do you or their ways do you, because we face a climate crisis?

NAOMI KLEIN: I don't expect them to. I wrote “The Shock Doctrine” because I believe that we, I believed at the time that we didn't understand this tactic. We didn't understand that during times of crisis certain sectors of the business world and the political class take advantage of our disorientation in order to ram through these policies. And I believed, at the time, that if we understood it, you know, if we had a name for it, if we had a word, a language for it, then the next time they tried it, we would fight back. Because the whole tactic is about taking advantage of our disorientation in those moments of crisis. And the fact that we often can become childlike and look towards, you know, a supposed expert class and leaders to take care of us. And we become too trusting, frankly, during disasters.

BILL MOYERS: It used to be said that weather, now global warming, climate change, was the great equalizer. It affected rich and poor alike. You don’t think it does, do you?

NAOMI KLEIN: What I'm seeing. And I've seen this, you know--I've been tracking this now for about six years, more and more, there's a privatization of response to disaster, where I think that wealthy people understand that, yes, we are going to see more and more storms. We live in a turbulent world. It's going to get even more turbulent. And they're planning. So you have, for instance private insurance companies now increasingly offer what they call a concierge service. The first company that was doing this was A.I.G. And in the midst of the California wildfires about six years ago, for the first time, you saw private firefighters showing up at people's homes, spraying them in fire retardant, so that when the flames came, this house would stay. This mansion, usually, would be standing and the one next door might burn to the ground. So this is extraordinary. Because we would tend to think of, you know, firefighting. This is definitely, you know, a public good. This is definitely something that people get equally. But now we're finding that even that there's even a sort of two-tiering of protection from wildfires.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, there was even a short-lived airline in Florida I read about that offered five-star evacuation service in events of hurricanes.

NAOMI KLEIN: After Hurricane Katrina a company in Florida saw a market opportunity. And they decided to offer a charter airline that would turn your hurricane into a luxury vacation. That was actually the slogan. They would let you know when a hurricane was headed for your area. They would pick you up in a limousine, drive you to the airport, and whisk you up. And they would make you five star hotel reservations at the destination of your choice. So, you know, why does a hurricane have to be bad news after all?

BILL MOYERS: And this kind of privatization is what you wrote about in “Shock Doctrine,” that privatization of resources, monopolization of resources by the rich, in times of crisis, further divide us as a society

NAOMI KLEIN: Absolutely. And, you know, one of the things about deregulated capitalism is that it is a crisis creation machine, you know? You take away all the rules and you are going to have serial crises. They may be economic crises, booms and busts. Or there will be ecological crises. You're going to have both. You're just going to have shock after shock after shock. And the more, the longer this goes on, the more shocks you're going to have.

And the way we're currently responding to it is that with each shock, we become more divided. And the more we understand that this is what the future looks like, the more those who can afford it protect themselves and buy their way out of having to depend on the public sector and therefore are less invested in these collective responses. And that's why there has to be a whole other way of responding to this crisis.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote recently that climate change can be a historic moment to usher in the next great wave of progressive change.

NAOMI KLEIN: It can be and it must be. I mean, it's our only chance. I believe it's the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. And we've been kidding ourselves about what it's going to take to get our emissions down to the extent that they need to go down. I mean, you talk about 80 percent lowering emissions. I mean, that is such a huge shift.

And I think that's part of the way in which, and I don't mean to beat up on the big environmental groups, because they do fantastic work. But I think that part of the reason why public opinion on this issue has been so shaky is that it doesn't really add up to say to the public, you know, "This is a huge problem. It's Armageddon." You know, you have “Inconvenient Truth.” You scare the hell out of people. But then you say, "Well, the solution can be very minor. You can change your light bulb. And we'll have this complicated piece of legislation called cap and trade that you don't really understand, but that basically means that companies here can keep on polluting, but they're going to trade their carbon emissions. And, you know, somebody else is going to plant trees on the other side of the planet and they'll get credits."

And people look at that going, "Okay, if this was a crisis, wouldn't be we be responding more aggressively? So wouldn't we be responding in a way that you have, we've responded in the past during war times, where there's been, you know, that kind of a collective sense of shared responsibility?" Because I think when we really do feel that sense of urgency about an issue, and I believe we should feel it about climate change, we are willing to sacrifice. We have shown that in the past. But when you hold up a supposed emergency and actually don't ask anything of people, anything major, they actually think you might be lying, that it might not really be an emergency after all. So if this is an emergency, we have to act like it. And yeah, it is a fundamental challenge. But the good news is, you know, we get to have a future for our kids.

BILL MOYERS: Naomi Klein, thank you for joining me.

NAOMI KLEIN: Thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure.

BILL MOYERS: Since the election last week those of us concerned about the amount of money in politics have been told repeatedly, “Get over it: your concern’s overblown, Citizens United is a boogeyman, and big money didn’t make all that much difference.” Really? That's not what Trevor Potter thinks. And he's the expert on how money works its will. You may have caught him the other night, advising his client Stephen Colbert, on what to do about the super PAC they had created for Stephen last year in a clever effort to expose the potential for campaign finance corruption.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Can I somehow give the money to myself and thereby hide it forever from all eyes and use it in the way I wish?

TREVOR POTTER: Actually, you can.


BILL MOYERS: Colbert Nation is in good legal hands with Trevor Potter. He knows how the system works. He advised George H. W. Bush and John McCain on their campaigns for the White House. He helped draft the McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act, chaired the Federal Election Commission, and founded the Campaign Legal Center. That's a non-partisan group working with other campaign finance reformers to counter the influence of that six billion dollar election.

Welcome back Trevor.

TREVOR POTTER: Thank you very much, nice to be here.

BILL MOYERS: So, did the money matter or not?

TREVOR POTTER: Well, let me give you an analogy that you would appreciate on the east coast, which is if you have a hurricane, and there's still buildings standing at the end, and you come out and say, "I'm still alive," do you stop worrying about hurricanes? No. And I think that's where we are.

The tidal wave of money was there. It left lots of Democrats standing. It was nowhere near what the super PACs hoped it would be on the Republican side in the senate races. And obviously they didn't elect Governor Romney. But I think they had a huge influence on the race. And they undoubtedly learned lessons which they will put into effect in the next elections.

BILL MOYERS: I've heard so many people say since the election, "Well, this proves that big money didn't make all that much of a difference because it was sort of a wash.”

TREVOR POTTER: I think there are a couple ways that actually made a big difference this year. The first one which is very counterintuitive is it may have actually badly injured Romney. And the reason for that is that after Citizens United you had these so-called candidate super PACs.

And in the Republican primaries last spring you had Romney who is widely the leader and assumed to have it wrapped up. And then you had two other candidates who came up, had millions of dollars spent on their behalf by super PACs, and kept the race open. They were the Gingrich candidacy and his super PAC and the Santorum one. What it meant was that instead of wrapping things up in February, Romney waited, had all of these primaries where he was attacked.

And he ended up the primary season somewhat wounded because these Republican super PACs had run really vicious ads against him presaging the Obama attacks. And he was broke. Now if that hadn't happened, if we had had not had super PACs Romney would've raised the money and the other candidates would not have. They raised no money themselves virtually. The millionaires, billionaires funded them. Each of them had one billionaire who kept them in the race. If that hadn't have happened they would've had literally no money to pay for gas for a car.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that they--

TREVOR POTTER: And they would've been out.

BILL MOYERS: --that billionaires kept the Republican primaries going?

TREVOR POTTER: Yes. Absolutely. What happened this year is the billionaires kept Santorum and Gingrich going for months in a way that the public never would've.

And they attacked, used the billionaire's money to attack Romney. He had to spend his money to defend himself and raise a lot of money through his super PAC to defend himself. But the result was the election took much longer to get a Republican nominee than the Republicans had hoped. And Romney was broke starting.

If you look at a lot of what the Democrats are saying now it is, "We had an advantage because we were sitting there lying in wait for them." Obama had no opponent. He had raised hundreds of millions of dollars that he could spend on advertising to define Romney in the early summer. And the Romney campaign couldn't hit back because it didn't have the money.

BILL MOYERS: So, do you realize what you're acknowledging or even conceding that although the billionaires may not have gotten what they wanted, the Republican nominee, they set the agenda by spending money on these candidates who eventually had to drop out?

TREVOR POTTER: Oh, I think that's entirely true. The billionaires in many ways drove the Republican primary race. It was their advertising. If you look at the spending candidates weren't raising the money for these ads. The super PACs funded by billionaires were. And in both the Gingrich and Santorum cases just one billionaire each doing it. So you have two billionaires speaking to each other—

BILL MOYERS: Could you get me one?

TREVOR POTTER: And the collateral damage is Governor Romney. So I think Republicans are looking back at this and saying, "We, the party, lost control of the primary process," meaning a billionaire or two, not the people I mean, there're are people out there saying, "Well, this is the voice of the people. And isn't it wonderful to have everyone involved." This is one billionaire speaking to another billionaire or two billionaires attacking a multimillionaire in the person of Mitt Romney.

So it's a very small conversational ambit. But it clearly changed the race. So that's one way where I think they had a huge effect.

The other is if I were a Democrat and I were looking forward, I would say, "We were lucky this time. We dodged a bullet. We had Barack Obama. He's an incumbent president. He had no primary challenge. He started raising money in April of 2011." So he had a whole year before Romney was really even beginning to think about the general election to raise and stockpile money.

Even so he just spent the Republicans to a draw because the Republican super PACs raised and spent three times as much as the Democratic super PAC, the one that Obama supported. And that's what the president out there as an incumbent urging cabinet secretaries to fundraise for it, urging Democratic donors to support it.

And even with that the Republican super PACs outspent the Democratic one, three to one. So if you look forward you don't have an incumbent president. You have a contested Democratic primary. You may have a divisive one as you did Obama versus Clinton in 2008. They're going to be where Romney was this year. They're going to be broke. They're not going to have a list of four million volunteers ready to go.

They're not going to have those hundreds of offices all over the key states and Ohio and elsewhere because they won't have had the money to open them. And the Republican nominee is going to be sitting there again I think with substantially more super PAC support. So just because this time Obama as an incumbent was able to spend them to the draw should not suggest to anyone that that's what happens next time.

BILL MOYERS: I read in a couple of places that by the week of the election President Obama had attended 221 fundraisers, far more than any other incumbent president in our history, in 24 states. I mean, the time that is used to raise this money had to figure into our reckoning of its impact, right?

TREVOR POTTER: This is actually a disaster for the country, this being the fact that we don't have presidential public funding. And instead we have the incumbent president of the United States spending that much time out trying to raise money for his campaign instead of worrying about the economy, national affairs and international affairs. You may recall the, one of the debates Romney went after Obama saying that after the Libyan incident you left Washington and you went to Nevada.

That was for a fundraiser. That's what they're doing. And if you think of that many fundraisings here's an interesting statistic for you. Back in 1984 Ronald Reagan was the incumbent president of the United States. He had a reelection. His campaign had to raise matching funds in the primary. And he had to raise money for the party even though he was taking the federal grant as everyone has until this year in the general election. Ronald Reagan attended in that year four fundraisers.

BILL MOYERS: Compared to 221--

TREVOR POTTER: Compared to 221. So we have a president, and this is not an attack on Obama,


TREVOR POTTER: This is an attack on whoever's there. We have a president who is to some extent not doing their job because they have to be off fundraising. The Romney people felt the same way. Romney was heard to be complaining in his campaign that he couldn't go out and meet voters and do the things he thought he had to do as a candidate because he had to spend all his time in closed rooms with small groups of wealthy people to fundraise.

In order to get his ads up for his campaign he couldn't campaign. There's a great irony here. And so you have two issues here. One is the time that the president is spending doing this rather than his job and what happens to a candidate when the only people they meet, and talk to and take questions for months on end are a small group of our society who have a lot of money and certain views. And I think the Romney 47 percent comments reflect what he knew the donors think because he'd spent so much time hearing things like that from this small group of Americans.

BILL MOYERS: Did those Republicans donors, those guys in the room and the big Republican donors in particular get no return on their money this year?

TREVOR POTTER: I think they did get a return. And that's what we're going to see in the future. They didn't elect all the members of the Senate they wanted. They did do, save some members of the Senate, some Republican Congress people who were under attack. But the real point is that these groups have a lobbying agenda. They have a legislative agenda in Washington. And they now have a Republican party that is incredibly grateful for the time and money that was spent in this election.

The Republican leadership wants them to do it again in the midterms in only two years. So they've got chits they can call in. They have earned and purchased influence. If you are a Republican officeholder are you going to listen to Sheldon Adelson when he wants to talk about specific legislative issues when he's spent millions of dollars and you know he can do it again. Of course you are.

Aren't you going to listen to American Crossroads which you hope is going to build a structure for the party in the next elections. Yes. And that's going to be true on both sides. It's not just Republican. If you're the big Democratic super PAC, you are going to have your calls taken by Democratic members when you say this is what we need to do.

BILL MOYERS: I heard you as Steve Colbert's lawyer advise him that he could keep the money he had collected through his super PAC and transfer it to his secret fund, the so-called social welfare fund, and use it for lobbying if he wanted to.

STEPHEN COLBERT on The Colbert Report: Let me see if I can make clear what is happening. I’ve got a 501(c)(4) called Colbert Super PAC SHH! I take the money from the super PAC, I pass it through the 501(c)(4), into a second, unnamed 501(c)(4). I place all the money inside that second unnamed 501(c)(4), and through the magic of your lawyering and the present federal tax code, after I close this and lock it that money is gone forever and no one ever knows what happened to it?

TREVOR POTTER on The Colbert Report: You’ll know, but nobody else will.

TREVOR POTTER: Federal Election Commission rules say that he could have taken the money, written himself a check and gone and bought a yacht. That's permissible. Because what the Congress has done is restricted actual candidates, members of Congress and their challengers, and said they can't use the money to buy a Cadillac, or a yacht or other personal use.

None of these other political monies are restricted. So all these super PACs, they'd have to pay income tax on it. But if they wanted to write themselves a check and take it home they can. But what I was telling Stephen Colbert is if you're not going to do that and everyone's going to know it because that is disclosed, then you can take the money basically off the books, put it in a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization and then move it around. And as we've discussed before these (c)(4)s can use that money for political ads if they want. You just won't know that is was Colbert's money. Or they can use it for lobbying.

BILL MOYERS: So they'll be another invisible influence over the representatives we have sent to Congress that we won't know about funded by super PACs?

TREVOR POTTER: Right. Some of it may be disclosed through the lobbying disclosure provisions. But no grassroots lobbying has to be disclosed that way. So if you run ads or you're generating phone calls in a district or you're sending e-mails, none of that is going to be disclosed.

BILL MOYERS: How do you assess the impact of Citizens United in particular on this election?

TREVOR POTTER: First of all what it tells us is the court really didn't understand how elections work, because they thought this spending would be totally, wholly independent of candidates and parties. And this so-called independent spending was being done by groups that were very close to the candidates and parties. And that's one reason they were so successful in raising all that money is the donors knew they were close to Romney, or Obama or the Republican or Democratic establishment.

So they trusted them with the millions of dollars they got. Then the court said that corporate shareholders would at least know what their corporations were doing. And through corporate democracy they could object if they didn't like it.

The reality is the shareholders don't know. There's no requirement of disclosure to shareholders under the law. And most companies don't tell their shareholders what they're doing. And they certainly don't have an opportunity to object to it in any substantive way or change the corporation's policy. So I think the reform agenda looking forward is going to be shouldn't there be a provision for shareholder democracy, what the Supreme Court talked about in Citizens United.

Should the S.E.C. or Congress or the states that actually charter corporations, shouldn't they have provisions saying that before a corporation uses shareholder money it needs their approval. And Republicans are going to say, "Well, if that's the case shouldn't we have that for labor unions." Well, why not. I mean, if you're going to have someone in charge of a group spending other people's money, and it really is other people's money, then shouldn't they get their approval to do that.

BILL MOYERS: The supreme court said this money's not a problem if it doesn't corrupt. The perception of corruption is also a danger. So it seems to me that you can't avoid the appearance of corruption in the use of secret money to lobby that was given for campaigns?

TREVOR POTTER: It's one of the real problems with the Citizens United case is that what they effectively said is, "We on high have decided that independent spending in elections cannot corrupt as a matter of fact and theory. We don't want to hear otherwise. It can't do it. And therefore you can have this unlimited spending." So when people look at examples of corruption the court doesn't want to hear it. That's why they turned back a challenge from the state of Montana which said, "We have evidence of corruption in our elections." And they said "We don't want to talk about it. We've already decided the case." So what's going to have to happen here is the, I think we have to build a record over time showing the many ways in which this spending does in fact corrupt or have the potential for corruption.

It may be because it's not really independent and the close ties to the candidates and the parties. It may be that it's not just election spending and an ad that voters are seeing. But it's tied to this lobbying campaign and trying to get something from the members of Congress who were elected by that spending.

BILL MOYERS: What do the reformers do next?

TREVOR POTTER: The whole enforcement problem we have today has got to be addressed. We have a Federal Election Commission that is usually deadlocked three-three which means it can't do anything. That's one reason we have the disclosure gap in this election.

And no one's done anything about the F.E.C. It has five of the six commissioners are in expired terms sitting there waiting for their successors. So I think there's a real opportunity here for the president to take the lead and to say, "We need a functioning F.E.C. I'm going to work with Congress. I'm going to go outside of the system. I'm going to look for people who are not Washington insiders, haven't worked-- for the party committees before."

"I'm going to find people who know something about elections or are independent-prosecutor types who have integrity. And I'm going to nominate them to the Federal Election Commission.”

BILL MOYERS: You've been advocating for campaign reform for a long time. Given what just happened, this hurricane as you say of money, are you going to hang it all up, maybe get a gig on Comedy Central? Are you going to keep at the, at it?

TREVOR POTTER: I'm going to keep at it. And surprisingly as a Republican I've actually come to the judgment that we're going to have to have some sort of citizen funding of elections. We're in an election cycle where not only a handful, literally, of billionaires, I think changed the way the Republican primary came out, were the principal communicators of the general election.

But even if you look past that to all the money that Obama raised, and Romney raised and all those Congressmen and Senators raised, one-third of one percent of the American public actually gave money in recordable amounts to candidates. So 99 point two-thirds percent didn't participate in the system in recordable amounts, which means more than $200 to a candidate.

And what about the rest of the country. They deserve a voice. And I think we're going to have to find a way to do that, whether it is some sort of a tax credit or a tax return to taxpayers. You know, Republicans always say, "We ought to be cutting taxes. We ought to be giving money back to the people." Well, maybe that's exactly what we ought to do, give each citizen, each registered voter $100 or a voucher for $100 dollars and say, "You can give this to the candidate of your choice. It's your money back. You're all paying taxes one way or the other, income tax, gas taxes, social security taxes. You go out and fund candidates and parties that you like." So that's how the 99 point two-thirds percent gets involved. There's something fundamentally flawed about a system where in order to get elected the members of Congress have to rely on the very people who are lobbying them day in and day out. Because that's their principal source of funding, those lobbyists and the interests they represent.

And the problem with super PACs this year is they just upped the ante. Because it used to be a senate race cost, well, who knows, but not much. But then it was millions. The Virginia senate race this year was $80 million, $50 million or so from outside groups, the other $30 from inside.

Well, if you're a senator and you have just been elected, or heaven forbid you're up in two years, what are you thinking. You're thinking I don't have time to worry about deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff. I've going to go to a fundraiser. I have to raise tens of thousands of dollars every day to have enough money to compete with these new super PACs. And it'd be really nice if I could find a billionaire who would help me with my own super PAC.

And that means I need to be nice to a lot of billionaires who often want something from me in order to find the funding for my campaign and hope they'll do a super PAC. So you raise the financial pressure on members and realistically the time pressure for all those fundraisers at the very moment when we face a lot of issues that we'd like them to be focused on instead of their next campaign.

BILL MOYERS: Trevor Potter, thank you for joining us.

TREVOR POTTER: Thank you very much. As always I appreciate it.

BILL MOYERS: That’s it for this week. Go to for links to the Campaign Legal Center, the Sunlight Foundation, and other citizen's groups pushing back against the spreading slime of money. And don’t miss our special video report from nearby Coney Island that explores first-hand how “Occupy Sandy” and the group “People’s Relief” are helping those hardest hit and most vulnerable. That’s all at

I'm Bill Moyers.

Watch By Segment

  • Naomi Klein on Capitalism and Climate Change

    Naomi Klein joins Bill to discusses the links between capitalism and climate change, and Trevor Potter assesses Big Money’s true impact on the election.

    Air Date: November 16, 2012
    Naomi Klein on Capitalism and Climate Change
  • Trevor Potter on Big Money’s Election Effect

    Naomi Klein joins Bill to discusses the links between capitalism and climate change, and Trevor Potter assesses Big Money’s true impact on the election.

    Air Date: November 16, 2012
    Trevor Potter on Big Money’s Election Effect

Hurricanes, Capitalism & Democracy

November 16, 2012

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast, but Naomi Klein says Sandy’s tragic destruction can also be the catalyst for the transformation of politics and our economy. The author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine joins Bill to discuss hurricanes, climate change, and democracy. Klein has been in New York visiting the devastated areas — including those where “Occupy Sandy” volunteers are unfolding new models of relief — as part of her reporting for a new book and film on climate change and the future.

“Let’s rebuild by actually getting at the root causes. Let’s respond by aiming for an economy that responds to the crisis both [through] inequality and climate change,” Klein tells Bill. “You know, dream big.”

In the same broadcast, former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter — the lawyer who advised Stephen Colbert on setting up a super PAC — dissects the spending on the most expensive election in American history. Many voices are claiming “money didn’t matter, Citizens United wasn’t a factor,” but Potter disagrees.

“Super PACs just upped the ante,” he tells Bill. “If you’re a senator and you have just been elected, or heaven forbid you’re up in two years, you’re thinking I don’t have time to worry about deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff. I have to raise tens of thousands of dollars every day to have enough money to compete with these new super PACs… And that means I need to be nice to a lot of billionaires who often want something from me in order to find the funding for my campaign.”

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  • Jerrymat

    The Naomi Klein on Capitalism and Climate Change program disturbs me greatly. It is as simple a problem as whether the sun circles the earth or the earth circles the sun. Let’s examine the science before we look at the politics. I am a 74 year old retired science teacher. I have a BS in Biology-chemistry and a MEd in Educational communication. I spent a third of a century helping students understand what science is. I taught biology, ecology, and environmental science among many other things.

    This N. Klein episode simply assumes the sun orbits the earth. After all, we can see it move every day. Yes I am exaggerating. Galileo proved this wrong a long time ago. However the authorities did not believe his evidence. Miss Klein is a believer in the wrong science, so her conclusions about politics to support this position are badly wrong. I challenge Mr. Moyers to find the Danish climatologist, Henrik Svensmark and have him on the program.

    Jerry Matchett
    Science Teacher, retired
    Believer in science and not false politics

  • Anonymous

    Anyone care to “do the math” that would tell us how many millions of tons of CO2 we could have stopped from entering the atmosphere, had humankind’s largest anti-war protest succeeded in stopping Dubya from invading Iraq?

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Matchett,

    It appears that your politics have affected your conclusions regarding climate science, This is made clear in the final line of text below your signature, regarding “false politics”.

    Your professional experience and education, I’m afraid, does not help your case. After all, you’re up against REAL SCIENTISTS, including people like James Hansen, atmospheric scientist at NASA, not to mention 98% to 99% of all climate scientists in the world. (And more scientists all the time are recanting their earlier denials of human-caused global warming — another was interviewed on public radio this past week).

    Also, Henrik Svensmark is not really a climatologist. He studies the sun. So perhaps it is not surprising that he thinks global warming is all due to the sun.

    If you’re interested in evaluating who’s doing the best scientific analysis, specifically in regard to Svensmark’s work, you might want to see this:

    and this:

    One final word….

    I’m guessing you might have grandchildren. If so, are you really willing to bet their futures (and, especially, the futures of their children) on a wager that you are correct in your analysis of the climate and nearly every climate scientist in the world is wrong on this matter? How about the continued existence of half of the species on earth? Are you so sure you’re right that you’re willing to gamble with half the species on earth?

    That’s what is at stake.That’s the cost of you being mistaken on this matter.

    Are you really so sure that your own politics (and perhaps a bit of wishful thinking) hasn’t prejudiced your judgment on this matter?


  • Jake

    I feel that Naomi Klein, is one of the most brilliant persons on the planet, her book the Shock Doctrine blew my mind. She can take a incredibly complex subject and make it understandable let alone digestible. We need to serious listen to compassionate brilliant spokesmen like her. I don’t care how many PhD’s in science one portrays to possess. If you don’t have a passion to protect this planet your argument doesn’t rate. Scientists can be bought off by Big Oil and Super Pac’s just like Politicians. The warning siren has sounded, only the ignorant and super greedy, walk around with blinders.

  • Steve H


    While I appreciate both your links and your critique of Mr. Matchett, you may be talking to walls. Just his choice of whom Bill Moyers should be interviewing discloses his bias.

    As for his potential grandchildren, if he is locked into the denial circle, even though he may admit to some cause for global warming (e.g., the sun), his position is essentially fundamentalist in that, because it isn’t anthropogenic, there’s nothing that can be done about it and his (our) culpability of the increasing effects of climate change is plausibly deniable.

    Ms. Klein pointed out the issue and the remedy. And, even if her ideas are wrong, which I don’t think they are, then it seems prudent to choose not to lie down and do nothing but to do whatever we can to alter the trajectories and “free market” policies of fossil energy corporations. They have the money to make other choices and investments but obviously they aren’t going to do anything without massive action by those whose progeny are going to suffer the consequences of inaction.

    One tactic for how we can do that is to follow Mr. Potter’s suggestion and get undisclosed money out of politics.

    Another is to amend the Constitution and end the egregious ideas that corporations deserve the same rights as human beings and that money is equivalent to free speech.

  • Eds

    Excellent discussion about going to the root of the problem and finding collective solutions. Naomi Klein is brilliant. Still, we will not only have to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and wean our dependence on fossil fuels–but we also need to use other strategies to stop climate change. We needed tough regulation and electric cars–yesterday. I hope that Klaus Lackner and others, who propose actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration, can be on the show in the future. Divestment will work to slow climate change–but it needs to be coupled with carbon sequestration efforts.

  • Steve H

    I found Ms. Klein’s presentation informative and substantive. She presents her position congenially, matter-of-factly and almost devoid of emotion. So I had both a cognitive disconnect and a cognitive conflict.

    First, her constant smile coupled with the implications of the subject matter seemed incongruous. She just had a child and I would think she would be as outraged as someone like Chris Hedges that we are going to leave a world to them that will not be like the one we had for perhaps millennia to come. But her mannerisms were so polite that, if I didn’t hear what she was saying, I would have assumed she was critiquing an impressive novel or a beautiful work of art. Some may think a smile and a controlled tone are effective and/or PC but this issue seems too critical and outrageous about which to be demure.

    Second, she handled Bill Moyers’ question about “free market” solutions (“Do you really believe, are you convinced that there are no free-market
    solutions? There’s no way to let the market help us solve this crisis?”) with what might have been supportive of a free market role but wasn’t free market at all, if we define “free market” as one without government intervention.

    In both examples she used, the government was crucial to implementing non-free market approaches. Namely, government incentives, which are a giveaway of taxpayer dollars, AND regulation, which is the epitome of government interference, at least in the way corporations view bureaucratic intervention.

    IMO, Ms. Klein should not have softballed her response. Fossil fuel corporations are out of control and should be made fully responsible through strict regulation, not to play around on the edges by purchasing carbon credits and claiming they care but by committing massive investments in sustainable, renewable and environmentally aligned technologies. Even if they must pass the cost on to the consumer by paying carbon taxes.

    Though this will never happen, there are three things in life that “We the People” should control and provide for ourselves as human rights through our regulatory entities – healthcare, education and energy distribution. We should take the profit motive out of those three areas and let corporations make their profits through responsible manufacturing, distribution, sales and servicing of durable goods. We should also support small business entrepreneurs, who are the major job creators. We should focus, too, on greater localized self-reliance and stop eating food transported 1,500 miles or more to our grocery store shelves.

    Instead, we let corporations run everything into the ground including our children’s futures, while too many of us would rather drink beer and watch sports on big screen TVs.

    If you’re not outraged then you must not care about the children, the planet or the future.

  • Andy

    In the 1940s, politics in Puerto Rico was as corrupt as it could ever be. Then came Luis Muñoz Marín, our first elected governor. His successful political campaign? “Vergüenza contra dinero”, which freely translated means “dignity against money”. It worken then and it worked this recente election… with the samen political party: The popular democratic party vs “new progressive party” with its republican leaders. So, people did respond, here and in the USA.

  • Jim S.

    Denial of climate change or especially whether humans are causing the rapid growth of, look around and pay attention, is not a reason to stop innovative industries from developing which would cause economic growth in many area’s. Which is exactly what those parroting, especially elected officials, are doing and have been for some forty years, using other meme’s that can’t be used now, here at the same time we started shipping our experienced innovative trades off to other countries along with the alternative energy sources we had started developing!

  • Joez

    I too like Naomi Klein, but her brilliance is slightly tarnished by her choice to bring a child into this overcrowded world. There is a clear and direct link between fossil fuels, climate change and a global population of 7+ billion. Guess you need to do the math too, Naomi.

  • 6502

    While I am sure she’s super smart and knows a lot — heck, she’s an author and I know that me and a ton of people I know couldn’t put our thoughts into a 300 page book coherently.

    And she is idealistic, in the sense that she has a purity of mission that drives her and makes her get results that match her vision.

    But, by her own words, when speaking about the President saying that “Climate Change” is not a message the majority of Americans would accept and thast “Energy Security” is a message that the majority of people would accept.

    She found that unacceptable and her only defense is “maybe I’m idealist”.

    Well, in this case her idealism is working against her own cause. The President of The United States of America said that he believes you and supports your movement, but that in order for it to succeed we have to present it in a context that would allow most Americans to jump on the bandwagon and join.

    And she’s not satisfied that?
    Sadly, her idealism appears to have made her unable to realize that she has a President willing to repackage her message for maximum effect.

    Under Bush, he’d sick the dogs on you, have Homeland Security following you, and have some of you disappear to Guantanimo.

    The President is 100% right about the security issues and those issues dovetail perfectly with the Climate Change message.

    The message becomes “By not managing Climate Change, then the breadbasket of the US can stop producing enough food for America. If we have to import food from other countries, then other countries can control us by controllling our food supply.”

    That packaging makes it so that some Right Winger types feel that they can go along with it.

    And the best thing about it? It’s 100% true.

    Ma’am, you’re brilliant.
    I have to say this: you really need to rethink this and get the army of people that follow you and believe in you to join you. The President could then package what brilliant folks like you say in the “…. and here’s the solution…” presentation and then he points to you and some other pros on your side to introduce ideas that hung throngs of people would follow for all kinds of reason.

    Win… win… win…

    But I can’t do it.
    I’m too ordinary.
    I didn’t write a book or become one of the top 100 people expert.

    It looks like only you can do it.

  • Susan Flanary Johnston

    she is totally brilliant!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Naomi Klein suggested that people are demoralized because they have made changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but emissions are still going up because of corporations. But the most recent US EPA estimates of greenhouse gas emissions show a decline in emissions after 2007:

    Ms. Klein also said:”…2007, according to a Harris poll, 71 percent of Americans believed that climate change was real, that it was human caused. And by last year, that number went down to 44 percent. 71 percent to 44 percent, that is an unbelievable drop in belief.”

    The Harris poll did not ask specifically about whether greenhouse gases or climate change was human caused. Pew Research Center does ask specifically abut human causation and in 2007, only 47 percent believed global warming was mostly due to human activity, and that number fell to 34% in 2010 and was back up to 42% in 2012.

  • Jim


    Like you, I believe that global warming is real.

    Like you, I believe it’s caused by men.

    Like you, I believe we have to “do something”

    Like you, I voted for Obama.

    Unlike you, I don’t believe that solar and wind are an effective answer to the problem.

    Do the Math – 20 % or less capacity factor for renewables, available intermittently, serious integration and back-up issues.

    All of this brought to you by many of the same huge petroleum companies.

    You and Bill McBidden are going to have to demonstrate a little more math knowledge before I join your movement.

  • Anonymous

    She should google; Fraud and Global Warming.
    Scientist phoney emails in search.

  • Private

    Trevor Potter for PRESIDENT!!! He’s the kind of Republican that would bring me back to the party. I worry when I hear about him attached to McCain and Bush, but he strikes me as a moderate who has ideals but is willing to meet in the middle and solve problems, not just dictate to others. Seriously when will we get people like potter to run for office? How do I nominate him?

    About climate change/atmospheric reconditioning/atmoshperic interferance:

    For me the most important thing to understand, and the most important point, is that it took BILLIONS of years for the carbon to be removed from the atmosphere. The function of this was living creatures, unlike humans, who could breath in a carbon rich atmosphere would consume carbon and when they died, over time, they would be covered in time by sediment layers. Over billions of years and trillions and trillions of organism living and dying and being buried with their consumed carbon, slowly carbon was removed from the atmosphere and buried; and the atmosphere began to transform into what we have today, an oxygen based environment.

    We are literally digging up this carbon and burning it and releasing it back into the atmosphere. This threatens to return the earth to a carbon based atmosphere; an atmospere not compatible with sustaining human respritory needs.

    WHAT THE F*** more does anyone need to know!!!!

  • Private

    Ok let me respond one point at a time. I will try and be respectful here, so please try and view this and any potnetial sarcasm for constructiveness.

    1) Ad Hominem. Stop attacking the debator and focus on the actual arguement. It makes for a more productive conversation, and who knows you might bump into real change if you just focus on whats important and not the head behind the mouth.

    2) You speak about human rights but you missed one VERY important right. How about a right to clean air. Corporations are taking carbon that has taken BILLIONS of years to remove from the atmosphere and returning it to the air we breath. Forget the consumeristic supporter who ignores the right to an earth free of the carbon that threatens the air we breath and to send us back millions if not billions of years to a time when the earths atmosphere was carbon based.
    We do all this for more “Stuff” which is what corps make. We do not need more stuff.

    The earth and our understanding of it and its vulnerability are changing. Rethinking what we know and the experience of “American Life” is critical or we might as well start speaking Roman and dressing like them too, because share the same fate and destiny, only with a more horrific ending.

    3) Your solution of small business and local food is all old hat. Its the “solution within the broken system” idea. Like a car that has a bad battery. Yeah sure you can jump start it, but the minute you turn it off it will not start again. The solution is to replace the battery or replace the car.

    Human life is that car and the battery is the way we live our lives. Sure we can keep jumpstarting it and getting a little further into the future each time, but that solution will only work so many times. Eventually the system, like the battery in my HORRIBLE analogy, will have to be replaced.

    4) Small business…job creators…? Are you kidding? Yes, where is the gauranteed place to find a job that pays less than the cost of living and has ZERO benefits, keeps you a memeber of the working poor, and rarely ever has an owner that isn’t a pompus “I own my own company” douche?

    No they are not the major job creators in the sense of actually creating jobs for other people. The way small business create jobs is by a single person or a pair of best friends creating a company and highering themselves. Via la, jobs created. This is the reality of small business. They simply cannot afford to higher real help. And the ones that try end up highering at exploitative pay rates.

    Anyways I could go on, but I hope you will atleast stop and challenge your own ideals. I challenge mine all the time. That is why I left the republican party and literally stood at the voting booth for almost 15 minutes going back and forth on who to vote for. I challenge myself to find a better way.

  • Carlos Betancourt

    We need a “Manhattan Project” type effort to master the manufacture and use of hydrogen as a universal fuel. Virtually all internal combustion engines now burning gasoline could be converted to burning hydrogen. Boeing recently demonstrated this by powering one of its drones using liquid hydrogen. It can be done.

  • unknown

    In Moyer’s epic quest for moderate mentalities and open minds, when it comes to moderators its his biggest over sight. They do not have the ability to simply be moderate inform someone the violate a website rule. They have to go all neo con aggro and ban someonw rather than modify the post and let the person know about the violation. But that would be a sensible response that took into account that NOONE clicks on the policy link. Especialy for the site a person well k ow for bis objective open mindedness. Too bad same cannot be said for the website management staff. Even though I know this dies not violate the technical terms of thw site let me guess the moderators will take it down. But thats ok. I said what I had to say and those this coomebt is ment for got the messege. And yet another passionate person draw to the light of like Moyers is run off because moderators drunk on web power seek to tyranize rather than guide those drawn to the light. I will not be back. I will not tell others about this site. This site is now what it will eventually be in time, no matter how distant, forgotten.

    Too bad the moderators are countering what Moyers is wanting to do which is grow the people recieving his truth seeking. Like unknowning little children they bully the very people they unknowningly rely on. Like a timeless fable.

  • DaveG

    It seems to me that some deny climate change because it interferes with their view of God.

    They feel that droughts and hurricanes and floods are God’s way of correcting and/or punishing for wrongdoing and to try and attach extreme weather to a scientific issue would be to diminish God. Its why evolution was also a threat.

    You don’t argue with this view. You find a way around it.
    I believe that some already have. If Ms Klein wants to attack Obama for not being ‘green enough’, then I think that would be a good thing.

    One thing I do know about those who attribute everything to God… what ‘is’, must be God’s will. So find a way to make it so and it will be accepted.

    It also helps to think positively. We WILL have renewable energy in common usage in this country.
    Period. end of story.

    God would want us to take care of the planet.

  • Richard

    Everyone talks about mass transit as a tool to fight climate change. What about telecommuting?

  • Mona

    Mr. Moyers brought up privatization of resources, monopolization of resources by the rich, in times
    of crisis, further divide us as a society. when a society isn’t accountable and open that lets the very wealthy steal because no one can see them do it. that is expecially true if people are busy trying to put their lives back together. i applaud Naomi Klein for exposing what is happening.

  • Daniel Pfeiffer

    Thanks for another great program, Mr. Moyers. Through your show and other honest, independent media outlets, one can see the pattern of a sort of black magic at work today, used by those in positions of power to codify falsehoods and turn common sense upside down so as to set the rest of us busy in futile attempt to make sense of it all, stumbling about in our PTSD while the powers that be continue their plunder (Shock Doctrine, indeed).

    Even worse, the media and courts that are supposed to challenge this kind of black magic are now so deeply tied to those working it as to not give voice to the kinds of grass-roots activism that your two guests have so passionately argued for. That neither of their arguments (and many others) get much, if any, play in any mainstream media proves this point.

    We’re living in a bizarro world.

  • Anonymous

    I love Naomi Klein, I love her book the Shock Doctrine and really, I have to say that I had to put it down for a while because I was so angry and yet it explained so much about the whole “Shock & Awe” of how the greedy fascists took over in Latin America, but also how that same approach is being used right now here in the good ole USA.

    While I get that Americans are “doubtful” regarding climate change, the truth is it is happening and WE need to start investing in alternative energy now, we need to rethink how we engage with each other and planet Earth, about how we’re abusing our resources, commerce, and the whole “profit” is the bottom line and all that counts thinking.
    The GOP has shown that while they have a price tag for everything, they don’t know the value of anything.

  • Eleanor Hall

    Great, insightful program, Bill. Thanks for having it.

    Joez has a point that overpopulation is part of the problem. More people will inevitably use more energy, unless energy use per person went down drastically. How about a program on overpopulation, Bill?

    But I wouldn’t criticize Naomi Klein for having a child. A child of hers will probably be part of the solution rather than the problem.

  • Doris Appleby

    I too thought Naomi Klein made very good points, but I was disappointed in your response, Bill, when you asked near the end of the segment, “But what can I do? I have two cars and fill them both with gasoline,” (or something similar). If you’re serious about combating global warming, you could have two hybrids that each get 50 miles to the gallon. When I got my Prius, 5 years ago, it was the only choice, but several companies make both small and somewhat bigger models now. I have more than made up the difference in sticker price over other cars of similar size, by savings in gasoline cost.

    There are other actions individuals can take as well, such as living in apartments instead of single-family houses, to name but one.

  • Ricardo

    I read “The Shock Doctrine” twice. Superb Mrs. Klein, superb enlightenment.

  • Adriana Saavedra

    Congratulations on your baby! I hope you chose to naturally breastfeed. I did that with my three kids but, unfortunately, ended up with a deep postpartum depression. I concluded that being so concerned about climate change since then had to do a lot with it. Nonetheless, my previous attempts to make a difference were unable to accomplish anything beyond getting burnt out while isolated in Mexico .

    Therefore, after I migrated to this country and, upon working a few years as a Foreign Language teacher, it occurred to me that things can improve a big deal if we made slight changes in education.

    Currently, students graduate completely disconnected from the value of labor. Technology and theory are given too much prominence, removing the importance of production; this type of instruction not only increases the chasm between laborers and intellectuals but, strives to eradicate physical work substituting it with machines and electronics powered with fossil fuels.

    School objectives need to be reevaluated. While there were scarce means of communication in the old days, a system of education had to be created to spread knowledge to the masses but, climate change posses a major challenge that leaves little, or no viable alternatives, for future generations if we continue “educating” them this way.

    I think is crucial that everybody be familiar with all the trades in the order they evolved since agriculture was created. Mother Nature does not allow us to forget our evolutionary road that must be experienced through gestation. Similarly, we need to incorporate trades throughout all levels of education: toddlers and, kids from elementary school level, growing community gardens; mid school teens, cooking and preserving foods while raising small animals; high school students fabricating ceramics, clothing and shoe wear without electricity; community college students performing jobs within organic self sustaining farms, where “retired” senior citizens have the choice to reside and administrate.

    And finally, a natural breastfeeding program should be created. A nurturing and inviting space must be designed within day care centers, and law providing a six month break option dedicated to adapting the newborn and mother, in stages, to increase separation if the mother returns to a full time job.

    Not only newborn immune systems would benefit but, nutritional and emotional needs in mothers and babies could be met while partnering with other women in the same stage of life. Mothers can remain productive, aiding in the care of other infants within the same facilities. If women can be rescued from abusive environments, kids will have more opportunities to succeed in life.

    It is a terrible thing to be wasting so much human energy relying on oil, in the meantime, to provide nourishment and entertainment to an increasing population that loses purpose in life. Eliminating all sorts of jobs, at the pace we are going, seems that we are striving to resemble a dystopian society from “The Matrix”. My only hope is that we can avert it on time.

    Thanks for reading, best regards,

  • Cynthia

    She’s Canadian…he’s not her President.

  • Kara Hawthorn

    mr moyers is a member of the council on foreign relations. that is precisely, scientific-ally why….. you cant trust a word that comes out of his charming mouth. “the power of myth”? : yes.

  • Kara Hawthorn

    ps. shame on u, naomi….. u went 2 school right? …….u should know that 😉

  • felix

    Naomi Klein = “CHANGE”