BILL MOYERS: Welcome. If you like to watch TV but live in a state that has endured one of this year’s primaries or caucuses, you have our sincere condolences. How you are coping with those endless hours of attack ads is beyond us. Nasty accusations, distortions, outright lies. Those ads will turn anyone’s words against them – even Honest Abe…

NARRATOR: Has President Lincoln, given up? At a speech in Pennsylvania, he even refused to dedicate a battlefield, still fresh with the blood of tens of thousands of Union soldiers.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: We cannot dedicate. We cannot consecrate. We cannot hallow this ground.

NARRATOR: Lincoln believes that America will perish from the earth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Perish from the earth.

NARRATOR: And that our soldiers have died in vain.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Died in vain.

NARRATOR: Honestly Abe, died in vain?

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: In vain, in vain, in vain, in vain.

NARRATOR: Abraham Lincoln, wrong on the war, wrong for the Union.

BILL MOYERS: Okay, that’s a joke, a fake ad to prove a point. It’s produced by a group called Their mission is to debunk the negative political advertising that’s polluting the airwaves even more than usual. Flackcheck is the video counterpart to, an award winning organization that does the Lord's own work, trying to keep politicians on the straight and narrow, or at least factually accurate. Both are projects from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the director is Kathleen Hall Jamieson. Faithful followers of our programs over the years know that she is our master media decoder, so I’ve asked her to join me this week for a look at the campaign so far. She is the author of many books including her latest, “The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Message Shaped the 2008 Election”. It’s co-authored with Kate Kenski and Bruce W. Hardy.

Kathleen, welcome.

BILL MOYERS: Kathleen, welcome.


BILL MOYERS: We've been doing this a long time.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Certainly, we have.

BILL MOYERS: Twenty years or more is—right? All right, so here we are.

BILL MOYERS: Have you ever seen a meaner campaign?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I've seen campaigns that I thought were mean. I've seen campaigns that I thought were deceptive and irrelevant to governance. I haven't seen a primary campaign that this early in the season has done so much damage to candidates from whom we will select a Republican nominee. And I worry a great deal about what that means for the general election.

BILL MOYERS: There has been a lower turnout than everyone expected this year and a real drop-off in states, in voting in states like Florida and Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota. All are down from 2008.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Republican voters didn't start out disillusioned by this field, but if you watch the number across time they're increasingly thinking that they don't have a very good field of candidates. In part because the super PACS have aired primarily attack and primarily attack not on issues, but on character, I think, has effectively undercut one sense of the standing of these candidates.

And so if you don't think you have a good field and you think that their characters might be, their character might be really fundamentally flawed, why would you feel energized and want to go vote? And listen to some of the character attacks in these claims.

There's actually a super PAC attack that suggests that Romney was implicated in illegality in the Damon Corporation which was, you know, guilty of Medicare fraud. But Romney wasn't personally accused. What's the implication of implicating your own candidate in an attack from your own side in illegality? There's the implication that Speaker Gingrich essentially takes any position he's paid to take.

Now, that's not a Democrat attacking. That's a super PAC ad run by people who favor an alternative candidate. This is cannibalizing one's own in the most devastating way. If I can undercut your character I can make it impossible for you to make a case on the issues because no one's going to believe you or trust you.

BILL MOYERS: Look what Romney's attack ads did to Gingrich.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yes, and very effectively. It is remarkable in that environment that these alternative candidacies have been able to sustain themselves as long as they have been able to and that the Gingrich candidacy came back after the withering attack in Iowa is really an astonishing tribute to his success in the debates.

BILL MOYERS: Well, many people think that Gingrich and Santorum would not still be in the race if they hadn't been adopted by a couple of billionaires spending a lot of petty cash out of their accounts.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: If it hadn't been for Sheldon Adelson coming in, in order to support Newt Gingrich and Foster Friess coming in to support Santorum they wouldn't have right now the ability to get their advertising level up enough to stay on the playing field with Romney. I think they would have withdrawn from the race had it not been, for that support.

Now, you could say that's a good thing. If you think that, with Romney having all of the money it's just simply unfair that the alternative candidates don't get a chance to have access, then maybe you should applaud the, you know, multimillionaires who come forward in order to keep the race running.

But what it does suggest is before one ever thinks about running for president in this post Citizens United world, one should find a few billionaires and determine how one can align one's issue positions with those individuals or find billionaires who are already aligned with one's issue positions and make sure that their wallets are open and ready to protect against assault from the other side and to assault when necessary.

BILL MOYERS: The political writer David Weigel wrote in "Slate" magazine the other day that super PACs are good for democracy. He says they're making the presidential race more competitive, more transparent and fairer. What do you think about that?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The problem is that that overemphasizes the amount of disclosure that we actually have and the capacity to hide behind company names. It also underestimates the ability of these groups to move to their charity arm and as a result, basically be able to get rid of the requirement to disclose. Nonetheless I do agree that the fact of disclosure has been very productive. Because at least it lets you ask, "What are the interests of those who are giving money?" And to watch the candidate in relationship to those interests.

I think what we ought to be thinking about is not simply saying that's a pro-Gingrich super PAC, but we ought to say that's a pro-Gingrich super PAC brought to you by largely Sheldon Adelson, that this is a pro-Romney super PAC -- now, the problem is now the list is much longer -- brought to you by these individuals with these financial interests. If journalism kept saying that, we would increase the level of accountability behind the attack.

BILL MOYERS: But you and I both know that journalism rarely catches up after the fact with the large impression put out there by an ad seen by people who may never see the story that verifies or doesn't verify.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: That's true. And here's the reason that we should try to make them accurate before they, before they go on the air. They, right now there's one small place in the environment that individuals can actually act and potentially make a difference. Local broadcast stations have the right to refuse third party ads. They only have to accept ads by bona fide candidates for federal office, that would be presidential candidates among others.

BILL MOYERS: They don't have to take ads from super PACs?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: From super PACs, that's correct. And if they take them they have an absolute right to say, "You prove every statement in that ad before I'm going to put it on my airwaves and let into my community's living rooms."

BILL MOYERS: But Kathleen, you know that those station managers reap a windfall out there from a presidential-- from an election year like this. They're not going to turn down these ads.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I grant you that. The financial incentive is just too strong, but there is win-win. They can insist on the accuracy of what they air.

What is doing is taking the fact checking content from the major fact checkers and posting it against the ads they're airing in the various primaries right now. So a station manager can go and look at our website and see for example, here are the ads that are airing right now and here are the deceptions in the ads. They can now go back to the super PACs and say, "Correct those or I'm not going to let you continue to air." You can fix these ads to make them accurate, station manager.

BILL MOYERS: The station manager can?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: The station manager can, and has an absolute right under existing regulation. And so what we would like is every citizen in every media market to contact by email and by phone, and we're going to be posting a way to do this on our website. Contact the station managers, contact the stations to say, "We want you to insist on the accuracy of the third party ads you air not just for the presidency, but across the board.

And then when it comes into our living rooms, we will know that you protected us from that form of air pollution. It's a little things that citizens can do and station managers, but I think those station managers care about their communities, they live in the communities there after all. And I think they'd like to perform this public service.

Let me give you an example. In Ohio in October there was an egregious example of bad third party advertising.

WOMAN in OHIO POLITICAL AD: When the fire broke out there wasn’t a moment to spare. If not for the firefighters.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: A great-grandmother whose grandchild was saved by firefighters made an ad supporting one side of a ballot initiative. The other side took her and put it in their ad, making it out that she would support their side of the issue. They basically pirated her content into their side of the argument thereby completely confusing voters. Stations in Ohio said no, they refused that ad. We have a piece on that says good for great-grandmother, good for granddaughter, Zoëy, and good for you, stations in Ohio. You've set a model for how other stations around the country can help protect us from air pollution.

BILL MOYERS: I want to ask you about President Obama and super PACs. Let me play for you, the tape of when Barack Obama told Matt Lauer that he didn't like Super PACs.

BARACK OBAMA: One of the worries we have obviously in the next campaign is that there are so many of these so-called Super PACS, these independent expenditures that are going to be out there. There’s just going to be a lot of money floating around, and I guarantee you a bunch of that’s going to be negative.

BILL MOYERS: Within a few days after the president told Matt Lauer that he didn't like super PACs he said, "I'm going to have a super PAC."

SCOTT PELLEY: The Obama reelection campaign told its financial contributors that they should feel free to contribute to so-called Super PACs.

BILL MOYERS: Were you disappointed? Were you surprised?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I was disappointed in 2008 when he rejected campaign finance. And so I didn't have much disappointment left by 2012.

BILL MOYERS: That’s not all he did. He said it was okay for his White House staff and cabinet secretaries to show up at super PAC events, that means face time for billionaires who support super PACs with government officials, face time ordinary people don't have.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: It begins to look to the public as if this is a corrupt process when that happens. And it, there's a difference between having a process that is corrupt and having a process that looks as if it's corrupt. The danger is we now have both.

BILL MOYERS: Despite the fact that President Obama changed his plan on contraceptives, conservatives have been accusing him of a war on religion.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER: This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country, must not stand and will not stand.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Don’t let the media commentators tell you this is about this is about contraception, this is about religion. This isn’t even a social issue, this is a constitutional issue.

SEN. MITCH McCONNELL: The issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down. They don’t have the authority under the 1s Amendment of the United States Constitution to tell someone in this country or some organization in this country what their religious beliefs are.

MITT ROMNEY: And I will reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life in this country.

RICK PERRY: This administration is assaulting the Catholic Church and people of faith across our nation by forcing their pro-abortion agenda on religious hospitals, on charities, and on employees. The Obama Administration's war on faith must be defeated.

BILL MOYERS: I don't have the tape of this, but let me read you what Rick Santorum said in my home state of Texas the other day. Quote, "When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what's left is the French Revolution. What's left is a government that gives you rights. What's left in the unalienable rights, what's left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you'll do and when you'll do it."

"What's left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that, but if we follow the path that President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are heading down that road." You can't say it, but I can as a journalist. That has all the refrain of a hallucination.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: That is an example of the extremist language in which campaigning now takes place. The… on the site we have a whole block of attacks that we call Way Out of Whack Attacks, WOW Attacks, statements that don't bear any relationship to their literal referent. This is just one set of examples. At the point at which you're analogizing something to the French Revolution, in once case a Republican candidate analogized EPA regulations to a reign of terror.

If you're calling the opposing individuals barbarians at the gates or a mob (alternative sides of the political aisle by the way use that language), if you're on the floor of the House during the health care reform debate saying the other sides wants seniors to die (both Republicans and Democrats said that on the floor of the House), you now are existing in a world in which language is decoupled from anything that is reasonably a referent.

And as a result you not only are not describing what is out there, but you're exhausting the capacity of the language to express outrage. It is if we are campaigning at a level, a decibel level that only dogs are able to hear at some level and everyone has their ears perked up and they're fleeing, but nobody understands why it is that that's happening.

BILL MOYERS: So these are dog whistles?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: These are dog whistles. This isn't actually about a specific statement about how we're going to deliver access to contraceptives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This is actually about an assault on the character and identify of the person who championed that bill, President Barack Obama. This is an example of the ways in which we take a policy difference and we translate it into a charge that someone is somehow fundamentally unacceptable as a human being to lead us. And we're seeing it in many ways within the Republican Party and across the Republican/Democratic divide right now.

And we ought to worry about language that escalates to that level because it makes it virtually impossible for us to reflect on the actual meanings of the policy distinctions which are real this year that will translate into governance in ways that will be real in the coming years and which will affect the well-being of the nature within the next decade.

BILL MOYERS: Conservatives gathered recently in Washington, the annual gathering of the base in effect. And there was one speech that really grabbed my attention. It was not by any of the candidates. It was not even by Sarah Palin. It was by the anti-tax ideologue Grover Norquist. Listen to this excerpt.

GROVER NORQUIST: We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a President to tell us what direction to go […] We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. We have a house and a senate. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate so focus on electing the most conservative Republican who can win in each House seat, and the most conservative Republican who can win in each Senate seat. And then pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become President of the United States.

BILL MOYERS: Now, what Grover Norquist is saying is that it doesn't really matter who the president is. We, the conservatives, the party, being elected in all of these House and Senate races will tell the President what to do and all he needs to do is to sign the legislation we pass. Is it conceivable to you that they don't want anyone with a vision or capable of leadership, they just a want a figurehead?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I think what Grover Norquist wants is someone who will promise that he would, subject himself to torture and die before signing a tax increase in any form as defined by Grover Norquist. And the problem with that is that you can't get out of the situation we're in simply by cutting spending. We're going to have to raise taxes. And we're going to have to raise taxes on that group called the middle class as well as that defined variously as the rich, the wealthy or those making over $250,000.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say about democracy when you do get locked into a mindset that, that responds in no positive way to the facts and to reality?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: It says that we have-- have failed to conventionalize a structure that lets our leaders talk candidly to the public about the choices we actually. I think what we're seeing right now in the Republican primary is the fundamental shift from our philosophy of how candidates campaigned in the past.

My sense of many past elections was that the party eventually nominated a person who paid a role in telling the party what it was. They helped frame the platform, they then run on the platform.

In this case I think the candidates are trying to align themselves to -- on the Republican side -- the conservative base instead of telling Republicans where the party should be they're trying to tell people that they are conservative where the conservatives are. And I think that's what Romney is saying with his strange statement that he's severely conservative as Governor.

BILL MOYERS: Let me play a montage that we did of the times he mentioned the word conservative in that speech.

MITT ROMNEY: Be conservatives […] as conservatives […] American conservativism […] but conservatives […] we conservatives […] we conservatives […] now as conservative […] conservative causes. […] Conservatism […] My path to conservatism […] Conservative values […] These conservative […] Fiscally conservative […] Conservatism […] I know conservatism because I have lived conservatism […] Conservative […] our conservative […] But I was a severely conservative Republican governor […] Conservative […] conservative convictions […] as conservative, […] for the conservative […] conservative […] This is why we’re conservatives.

BILL MOYERS: So deconstruct that for me. What's going on there?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: That's telegraphy to say, "If I use the word often enough you will identify the word with me." Here's what's missing. I'm waiting to hear from the Republican candidates a coherent vision of what conservative means to them. I'm waiting to hear a definition that was actually offered in the 1964 campaign by Barry Goldwater. You knew in '64 what you were positioning against because there was an ideology there and it was coherent.

And it was consistent with what he had acted upon across his career. It would have been a very interesting race had we actually had a debate between John Kennedy and Barry Goldwater as proposed or between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater because they each incarnated a philosophy that they could express, very different views of government, very difference-- different views of federalism, very different roles of the individual in society. It would have been a very, very interesting campaign because it was there.

I don't hear it there in the Republican candidates. I am not clear with these conservatives about what they mean by this ideology. And I have the sense that they're chasing this thing called the base and trying to identify with it without bringing the rest of us along in an understanding of what it is.

So fashion for me as a person who would like to understand what it is that you're saying when you say, "I'm a conservative," how this ideology coheres into a vision from which you will lead rather than simply telegraphing words to me that don't actually have meaning other than, "Don't raise my taxes."

BILL MOYERS: So here we are in a lull during the Republican campaign after 19 debates, nine primaries and caucuses and the Lord knows how much money, millions of dollars have been spent, but with no sure thing, no definitive outcome at the moment. Have you reached any conclusions about what's happening?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: There's the notion that discourse can either ennoble you and increase your capacity for reflection and judgment or it can demean you and constrict your ability to make good judgments and make thoughtful judgments. And across the years we've increasingly moved to a kind of campaign structure that makes it harder to thoughtfully consider alternatives, to give the candidates the space to lay out alternatives thoughtfully.

And increasingly we've rewarded candidates who have deceived and taken words out of context and campaigned in ways that made it impossible for them to govern well. We've got to try to find a way to fix this. We're at a very, very critical time right now.

Politics is badly broken and if we can't find a lever in the system to minimize the kind of campaigning that strikes viscerally at our affective selves and instead move to a kind that engages us in consideration of a future that we need to come to through sacrifice and through tradeoffs among competing goods, we're not going to be creating a climate in which these elected officials can make decisions that will make it possible for us to become the kind of country in the future that we've been in the past.

BILL MOYERS: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, I'll be seeing you often at this table as this year unfolds. And I'll be going to when we finish this broadcast to see what you posted from yesterday. Thank you very much for being with me


BILL MOYERS: We'll continue this conversation with Kathleen Hall Jamieson on our website, Join us there.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Campaign Misinformation

This weekend on Moyers & Company, Bill asks political communication expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson to analyze the misinformation campaigns of 2012 thus far. Jamieson runs the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, including the sites and

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  • lyrita59

    As a Canadian, I was most interested in Ms. Hall Jamieson’s comments on campaign misinformation and how it relates to what we experience in our own Canadian political arena(s).  It would appear that our current Federal “Conservative” party has been most diligent in locating and then mimicking some of the worst aspects of this kind of mud-slinging.  I must point out that until the early- to -mid eighties, one of the cardinal rules of campaigning was always to keep the issues up front, and avoid personal attacks on any level.  As John Lennon wrote: “Just gimme some truth!”

    Thank-you for a thought-provoking interview, Mr. Moyers.

  • Anonymous

    Attack ads — truthful and untruthful — have been the fuel driving US elections for a long time now.  SuperPacs just made that kind of campaigning intolerable.  SuperPacking will maybe just self-destruct in a couple more elections.  (I know: wishful thinking.)

    I have to agree with lyrita59 (below).  Stephen Harper doesn’t even wait for election campaigns to run attack ads.  I was never a fan of Michael Ignatieff, as I’ve read a couple of his books which made me very uncomfortable.  But it nevertheless was very clear to me that it was Harper’s continual hammering away at him with negative ads which derailed his career as Liberal party leader.  I imagine Harper is very proud of that.

  • Julogue1

    Is it possible that “the American electorate” is outgrowing the political process as we know it?  Could be that many preposterous-type  Republicans and others of their ilk have become so simple  and ridiculous in what they say, that even their supporters do not believe what they say.  And, that these supporters only hope that others will buy the it.
    A couple of encouraging notes:  Approval of the congress is at an all-time low.  All of Romney’s money doesn’t seem to be buying the primaries.  Obviously, money don’t make you smart.    

     We need to keep up the good fight for the truth and accuracy  –  but my question:  Is it possible that the American voters are catching on to a much greater extent than is admitted or discussed? 

    Thanks again, Bill,  for another  informative and inspiring show!  

  • Forrer Eric

    I have an idea which I am surprised I have not heard anywhere else, and that is the notion that a legislator who signs a pledge offered by a special interest is in violation of the oath of office and should be de-certified and sent home as ineligible to hold public office for obvious and willfull conflict of interest with representing the public.    As a consequence, all those office holders who signed the Norquist tax pledge should be paid their wages and relieved of their duties.  The clip of Mr. Norquist in the K.H. Jamison interview reminded me of the peculiarity of the mentality of any individual who would sign a pledge which originated with Norquist.

  • Box56

    It doesn’t look like it to me. I think it would help if elites whether politicians or journalists stopped talking to impress each other and spoke in the simple language that simple people understand. That would include the conversation here between Moyers and Jamieson.

  • Private Private

    To add strength to this proposal, I would submit that any politician that views the office as merely a hand to sign things is in violation of upholding the Constitution; by not observing the intent and responsibilites laid out for the executive branch, they commit a derelict of duty.

  • fedupwithpoliticians

    Pierson and Hacker report that their profession has been aware for decades that voters are too often misinformed about politics and about policy because they lack resources (of the lobbyists implied).  See more details on page 95 to 114 of their book.

     This summarizes some of Pierson and Hacker’s observations
    about why voters are so misinformed. Basically the theme is that the media and voters
    are too focused on what politicians SAY and not what government has DONE.  The
    structural undoing is in the secret work of lobbyists.


    1968 was not the great switch point in American politics.
    1978 was!


    Suppose you tried to get a sense of American politics not,
    as journalists typically do, by looking at campaigns and there outcomes, but by examining what the government actually


    For Phillips, it was liberals who had repudiated the New
    Deal by moving beyond programs taxing the few for the benefit of the many (new
    Deal) to programs taxing the many on behalf of the few (Great Society).


    In 1977 Carter had massive majorities in both the House and
    the Senate these bills failed: Tax reform, Consumer protection agency, Election
    day voter registration, Health care, Minimum wage defeated, Overhaul of out dated
    labor relation laws.


    By 1978, at a time of unified Democratic control of the
    House, Senate, and Whitehouse, the precursors of the Reagan revolution were
    already visible. Congress passed a tax bill whose signature provision was a
    deep cut in capital gains tax— a change that would largely benefit the
    wealthy. This followed on the heels of a decision to sharply raise payroll
    taxes, the most regressive federal levy.


    To take policy out of the picture is to reduce political
    conflict to the status of sports.


    This intense concentration (by media) on the most
    circus-like aspect of political life is now so thoroughly institutionalized
    that we hardly notice it.


    Koppel admitted, “I can’t pretend for a minute that I’m
    really to follow the arguments of the debates. Part of it, yes. Parts of it, I
    haven’t a clue what they are talking about”.


    Year after year, out of the spot light, they lobbied to
    advance their interests.  Year after year, they succeeded in adding back
    loopholes—one unnoticed provision at a time.


    Backed by organizations, they (lobbyists) pushed politicians
    to respond to their concerns. And nobody pushed back.


    But, to form grounded views and votes, citizens need important resources that are too often
    lacking. About policy, most voters know even less, and are prone to staggering mistakes.


    Most of the famous swing voters, whom journalists tend to
    idealize as sanding above the fray—are actually the least engaged, least well
    informed citizens, reaching a final decision (if at all) on the flimsiest of


    This is the dirty little secret of our profession. Among
    political scientists, that most voters are
    woefully ignorant about politics is completely uncontroversial, and has
    been for decades.


    Opinion surveys are largely devoid of information about the
    lobbying organizational activities that really make politics tick.


    Where “politics as spectacle” concentrates on voters and
    politics, “politics as organized combat” focuses on groups and policies.


    Voters are hardly powerless. But, their attention to what
    government actually does is limited and typically brief. —they can
    have a devilishly hard time determining whom they should hold accountable when
    they are discontented.


    Of the billions of dollars now spent every year on politics,
    only a fairly small fraction is directly connected to electoral contests. The
    bulk of it goes to lobbying —


    For powerful groups the center of action is Washington,
    not the swing states. And, more and more over the last 30 years, Washington
    has become their (lobbyists) playground.                                                       

  • Karl Hoff

    It seems to me that the left and right are purposing that their way to reaching a perfect World is by following their way of governing.
    Let me see if I can explain what a perfect World would really look like:  If you played a round of golf in a perfect World, what would the score be?  Not par, but 18. All holes in one. Remember it’s perfect. If you played with someone, it would always be a tie because everyone is perfect. What about baseball? If the pitcher always pitched a perfect game, the score would always be zero to zero. A game of ping pong would go on forever without a score. What about your favorite food? They would all be perfect thus all your favorite. What about your best friend? Again all the same. What about you favorite intertainment? All perfect. What would be the most beautiful man or women?  They would all look the same through out their lives which would be the same length…their perfect. As a matter of fact, every tree , plant, building, land scape, personality, ability and everything else would be the same for everyone, other wise they would not be perfect!  OOPS! I have just described the  perfectly average World where everything is exactly the same, where everything looks, tastes, feels, sounds and acts the same……………What an incredibly boring way to live. You would have to wear name tags to tell who anyone was, which would do little good because they would all act the same.
    On the other hand if everyone were to seek to be average or live in moderation like in the 1937 movie: “lOST HORIZON”, all conflict, crime, depression greed, anger, envy would go away. There is no greater stress that we put on others as well as ourselves than to constantly try to out do others.  Even the need for  money would become unnecessary because the World produces far more than we need. All of this would  increase one’s lifespan as well as their health while leaving a wonderful World where ever you go or what ever you do would be a new, different and exciting experience. So, what about the left and right in a World that sets no goals or doesn’t try to out do everyone while seeking perfection? All you have left is your chores, which are always done to make life better for yourself and other because once your chores are done to control others, you are try once again to out do them.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    So what if you hate doing chores and have a really simplistic imagination. Your fear of perfection  is unfounded since you spell entertainment -i-n-t-e-r-t-a-i-n-m-e-n-t. Your confusion is insufficient cause for the rest of us not to seek justice, fairness, sustainability and comfort. I think Occupy is a symptom that People are getting not only concerned and fed-up, but smarter too.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You say voters are “hardly powerless” but your main thesis is that they are ill-informed or misinformed. How does a bun and mustard without the meat make a hotdog? In the first place America has established no accessible means by which voters in general can nominate or select candidates. The only viable contenders must be wealthy or else must seek interest group or Oligarch backing. This severely narrows the field and eliminates public interest candidates. You also fail to examine the effects of hierarchy and intimidation by power in this society. People are quiescent and fatalistic with good reason rooted in socialization and bitter experience. Right now voting and voter registration remain suppressed and there are institutional irregularities in vote tabulation. Many do not vote because they understand such inequities all too well. See “Power: A Radical View” by Steven Lukes (emeritus:NYU) to clarify the several faces of power polarization.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    They could always refute (or refudiate) Norquist at the signing-in ceremony to negate such a conflict with duty, saying “I was naive in the old days, but I’ve learned better now.” But what would prevent them from then continuing to oppose tax bills without exception? My point is that conflicted (bought) people are by definition corrupted.
    A compliant signer obedient to a covert gang is a traitor from the get-go because of failure to exercise assigned duties or represent common interests.  By advocating such a cabal Norquist in effect is seditious, and if he acts is as much a threat to national security as any terrorist plot. His program amounts to a parallel and illegitimate attempt to govern and the next step would be a putch to overthrow established institutions. When Obama appointed corrupt banksters to his cabinet he betrayed many of these same traits. Hasn’t a bloodless coup (Meltdown/Bailout) already occurred?
    Aren’t we shooting rubber bands at rats in an echo chamber? The People is the only institution left to assert Justice. Better get busy! Forget the Whore’s Race to Nowhere.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    We and our technology are overdue for something faster and more direct, and the majority of us understand that. The federal government now resembles “The David Çopperfield Show”, just a bunch of elaborate ruses.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Actions speak louder than words.
    Look out when they get to the “Greek Austerity” stage of corporate capitalism. Nobody will be fooled by procedural elections when they can’t afford beans. Even Jeremy Irons in “Margin Call” outed money (concocted debt) as a fiction.

  • Karl Hoff

    To GradyLeeHoward
     Sorry I missed spelled intertainment. I do that on occasion. Using the term chores rather than setting goal, which is what I did most of my life. I was an extremely competitive person even trying out for the Oylimpics. It took getting old for me to realize that when I was heroized for winning a race, I was crushing the hopes of sometimes hundreds I beat.  And, also I certianly knew what it felt like when I was beaten. When I stopped competing, there is no question that I became a better person and no longer had to go through that depressed period of time after things didn’t go my way. Since I began living to be average I have gone from one with many serious health problems to now my 9th year without even a cold. I am on medicare and feared that I would be in and out of the doctors office more frequently, but my medicare useage for the 2 yrs I have been on it is zero as well as zero for medicine.  Before I stopped living to out do everyone,  my medical cost at times exceeded $10,000 a year. I went from someone with at times a bad temper to now being ask,”are you ever down”? Last year while building my root cellar, working up to 14 hour days and they were brutal. I never got depress because it felt so good when I finished the day and felt that great feeling of accomplishment. It took 4 yrs. to complete and at no time did I get frustrated because I worked only when wanted.  Finally, one day I tried to figure out if there was anything that didn’t have an element of competition such as fame, money, mates, jobs, education, sports, arts and business just to name a few. Until I stopped living to compete I didn’t realize that competing had nothing to do with accomplishing because without the dissapointment of not reaching my goal as I set out in quality and time, I actually accoplished far more. Simply p0eople will brag about what I do whether I did it to show off or because it was something that would make life better for me as well as others.  Thank you for replying

  • Anonymous

     It has occurred to me that maybe part of the problem is the rigid 2-party system.  With 3 or more parties, a party can get a “time-out” forced upon it and use that time to reinvent itself.  Canadian Conservatives were forced into time-out after Mulroney completely destroyed the old Progressive Conservative party.  Currently, the Liberals are making use of an enforced time-out.  That neither has produced a party worth voting for is beside the point. 

    Neither of the American parties have done the time-consuming work of self-reflection and re-invention.  They just have no time, as they’re always in either fund-raising or campaign mode.

  • Karl Hoff

    show more from 12:42    2/19/2012  last sentence should read:
    All you have left is your chores, which are always done to make life better for yourself and others without trying to force your will on others

    Sorry, I find it hard to read and keep my place in such a small space to write. I’ll have to be more careful in the future.

  • mimi

    Good points in this clip. That Norquist bit has me concerned that the repub/tparty have this election fixed, as they did in 2000 & 2004. No doubt anymore, the Kochs, DeVos, Adelsons, etc. are buying the repub/tparty people. Shows how cheap they are, and yet they spout faith and family? They’re the 21st Century Fourth Reich.

    Pres. Obama did the smart thing going for super pacs, not to get in on the repub idea would be foolish.

  • mimi

    Karl: It appears the 4 years you spent digging your root cellar gave your mind the freedom to sort and prioritize.  Thank you for sharing.

  • Rick V

    Ms Jamieson and others really miss the point about the Obama insurance plan versus the Catholic church.  It’s not about the character of president Obama.  It’s about the first amendment rights of free exercise of religion.  I suppose, however, if one is not a religious person (specifically Christian),one wouldn’t understand these things.  I’m surprised that  Bill Moyers is one of those that doesn’t get it.  I guess that’s what many years of higher education and PBS buys you.

  • Piksnilderf

     She stated that this year republican voters “increasingly feel that they don’t have a very good field of candidates”

    Wow, how profound!
    Where does she come up this stuff?

    Now that there’s investigative journalism at it’s peak.

  • Piksnilderf

    I thought perhaps most relevant statement was her final two long run-on sentences which include:
    “increasingly we’ve rewarded candidates that deceive and take  words out of context and campaigned in ways that does not allow them to govern well…”

    ( If things don’t change, it won‘t be possible for)… “these elected officials to make decisions that will make it possible to become the type of country we’ve been in the past.”

    The effects of Norquist and T partiers would be  prime examples of this continuing trend, I believe.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    That’s some pretty good advice, Karl.
    It makes me happy you’re enjoying the
    freedom of retirement. Imagine a political candidate who works toward healthy goals and is not overly competitive. I can’t name one. What do you keep in that root cellar, probably not roots? This is such a wealthy country that if we had egalitarian distribution of opportunity and resources we could all take your advice and be our own bosses. Stress levels would drop like a rock. Any necessary enterprises should be owned by the employees, and they could manage them. Rich people need to learn Karl’s lesson and chill out, quit hiring thugs and loudmouths to make their case and enforce their rules. We’re out of the cave, so why not quit acting like cave dwellers? If mimi will start her root cellar in the morning I will pay for her shovel. Opportunity knocks.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    How can one “get” what isn’t to be had in the First Amendment. Religious freedom is rooted in the individual and not in the religious corporation. No religious establishment or teaching is being prevented.
    But federal law must be equal for each citizen, religious or not. The same benefits must be available. If an employee believes contraception is wrong in accordance with church teaching no one compels her to ask for it or use it. As soon as a church mandates individual behavior with force of law free will of the individual disappears. You are asking for unquestioning obedience without faith and for our government to assist you in such an abridgement of human rights. I pity the authoritarian mentality, and I expect God does also.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Nothing surprises me anymore.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    The second half of her interview (internet exclusive) gets even better. In it she recommends Fox for Presidential debates and interviews. I watched Republican debates on Fox and it didn’t bother me at all.
    I saw all the shames and gaffs in context which made them all the more vivid. I really believe Jamieson is out there beyond partisanship (even more than Moyers) and has a political imagination. It’s just that she serves in a passive observer role. But when all there is to analyze is a right wing business party and the fascist Republicans what can she say? As Noam Chomsky has observed “The narrowed spectrum excludes majority interests.”

  • Karl Hoff

    Thank you for the kind thoughts. How did you know I was an egalitarian? I built the root cellar because I grow much of what I eat and things like cucumbers if not waxed or rapped in plastic do poorly in the refrigerater which removes moisture. My root cellar is dark, 45 degrees and very humid which I can control by pouring water in a chamber in the floor where the under ground vents come in. I mixed by hand about 30 tons of concrete to build it and it has a tunnel like an egloo to enter it and best of all it uses no electric. I can and freeze about 200 gallons of produce each year. I planted 351 tomato plants so I am ruled by my micro farm for at least 3 to 4 months each spring and summer. I think people have lost sight of how good people live in the past, so I am now learning that eating food that is not toxic brings great rewards of good health as well great exersize.

  • Growth is not sustainable

    Wow. Wonderful

  • Sunny

    So disappointed… blah blah blah another basher, hater one sided vision political hack promotiing no take that one back
    not promoting her side – bashing the Republicans and Conservatism.  So so sick of this Born a dem may die a dem but I do know this I am TIRED been working for 43 years and have watched the US slide ashamedly downward in almost every area.  People stop listening to these hating idiots WE need Accepting minds to others and we need Preserving minds to keep our freedoms and keep our values that made this country the most sought after country for highest standards of life.   Accepting =Liberal thoughts, Preserving= Conservative thinking.  There HAS TO BE A BALANCE.,
    Right now with this Pres. there is NO balance his theology will be the end of what we cherish and our children will be left with what we fail to stand up for.  I cant share what I dont have.  I have to own something in order to share give TODAY

  • Anonymous

     I had thought about this idea a few months ago when I first heard of the Norquist pledge. How can an elected official sign a pledge and then be flexible enough to compromise, which in my opinion is one of the cornerstones of democracy. And by signing a pledge he is basically shifting his or her allegiance from the constitution and we the people to an non elected entity. This sounds illegal to me!

  • Kenv

    I got a kick out of the clip of Grover Norquist saying all he wants is enought clones in Congress that will do his bidding and all the presidentwould need to do is be able to hold a pen to sign the bills he dictates. He might be able to do that since most Republicans in Congress have already admitted subservience to him by signing his no tax pledge.

  • You gotta be kidding

    If your so fed up quit eating the propaganda that is put on your plate.  This woman pointed out how the conservatives are bashing each other into a position no conservative will trust them. Their own party. I feel for your hopelessness but realize one thing, you created it.
    God Bless and good luck.

  • Piksnilderf

       And these GOP congressmen fancy themselves “leaders”?

  • Piksnilderf

     FOR your 43 year working life, you’ve watched U.S. “backslide”. Majority of those years were Republican administrations. Coincidence?
       Since Reagan got America addicted to the thought that “if the wealthy become more so it will trickle on down to the rest”, majority of American wealth has “trickled up” to a few % at the top.
    Like the results?
    Or is it maybe time to try a different mantra?

  • Anonymous

    Man, Mother Earth News needs to come over and do an article on that.
    As a backyard gardener this is fascinating to me. So you add cold water to make kind of an underground swamp cooler? I doubt Mitt or Barack could understand it. You’ll have Michelle digging one beside the White House,

  • Anonymous

    When Rick Santorum goes over the top what is the point in analysis? Even he knows better than what he’s saying.

  • Barbaricmom

    Within the Jamieson program were many good points raised. I agree with much of what has been said about the nastiness of campaigns. But when you took Romney’s speech and focused only on the number of times he said conservative, and essentially lampooned him, weren’t you doing the same thing as you had condemned? I saw that talk and to me he spoke substantively to what his vision for America is. But you in the media have missed the opportunity to emphasize that. If you will trumpet the need for reform, the least you could do is live by what you preach!

  • Tom Semioli

    What does it say about our society that citizens are so easily duped by political commercials? It says that we are no longer an educated nation of critical thinkers. That is why our democracy is failing now.

  • mechel Linus Selkin

    My guess’s these narrow minded Conservatives never heard of the 1990 Rehnquist
    Ct decision: 

  • Kris Haynes

    Tom, I hate to admit it but for many Conservatives I know, the terms “critical thinking” and “educated” are misnomers we are better off without. Somehow many of the Christian churches have managed to connect faith in religion with no faith in science or worldly knowledge and therefore their opinions and feelings are more valid than facts. 

  • Anonymous

    Their Faith is acceptable as long as it is a dictated”mob faith” not in conflict with Oligarch interests. And the same is true of the “sophisticated financialism holiness” shared with the Democratic Party. Is Greece a household where they took out a loan knowing they could not pay? If you play that game the USA is also “underwater”, kind of a big Maldives, where Democracy had to be sacrificed to maintain “petroleum faith.” Does Faith meet all needs under austerity? All our approved candidates seem to have “austerity faith.”

  • Anonymous

    Substitute the word “socialist” and consider what as severe socialist would be like. Romney lampoons himself if you’re rational, and he mesmerizes you if you’re not. It is an extreme situation in which Jamieson would need to caution you about such a primitive rhetorical technique as used by Romney in said speech. If you think you’re an independent thinker say “conservative” real fast 24 times. Try to write three sentences defining “conservative” on your own terms. Not that easy is it?

  • Heather Gray

    this is a complete subversion of the founding fathers’ idea of checks and balances. to make the president a puppet of the legislators (who signed a pledge to one man and his very narrow special interests) violates this flat out. But good luck getting SOTUS to do anything about it…

  • Heather Gray

    Since when did well-educated become “elite?” That seems to be the criteria. If you’re not a bible thumping home schooled flat earther who thinks jesus rode dinosaurs, you’re somehow “elite.” I personally want a president smart enough and educated enough to understand the complexities of government, both domestic and international. Meanwhile, all we get is Iran-baiting as foreign policy from the right wing. Shameful ignorance. 

  • Heather Gray

    I didn’t see any hating, but rather, a calm, respectful, measured exchange of ideas. I know that is not how it’s currently done in the Fair & Balanced world, but it is absolutely the only way to actually listen, learn, and move forward with reason. President Obama’s theology is Christian. Just not what passes for Christian with the cynical ultra-right wing that has robbed 2 generations of everyday Americans of the wealth they worked so hard to earn, while pretending to care about the issues of the christian right. 

  • Heather Gray

    why so snarky?

  • Mvk

    The point Jamieson and Moyers  were trying to make was not that Obama’s policy was right or wrong, but that the dissenters launched an attack on the character of the proposer of the policy instead of debating the POLICY with logical, well-reasoned, non-emotional arguments.

  • David F., N.A.

    Depending on which party is in the White House , social wedge issues (gays, gods and guns)  will flow in both directions.  But when it comes to the economy and our constitutional liberties, they all go the multinationals way.

    Obama is now attempting to drop the corporate tax from 35 percent to 28.

    What kahunas this guy has. I thought he’d wait until after he got reelected before trying to pull off this stunt.  He must be pretty comfortable with the scare tactics that Axelrod’s (Rove Jr.) liberal media is regurgitating.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    “There is no morning after pill for a fascist coup.”

    “Austerity has arrived.”

    See my complete message on the codewords (Jamieson) page.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Test: Do you blame Iran for rising domestic gas prices? (Are you a believer Tom?)

  • GradyLeeHoward

    I’m OK after the last debate (CNN Arizona), but the candidates resemble four flat tires after  expelling all that gas over immigration and contraception.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    “Hawaiian Balls” all in the air at once (gays, gods, guns) but war and wages hang in the Magician’s bag, not actually in play.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Occupy Raleigh yet lives 24/7: Rally Saturday Feb. 25: All welcome, bring ideas.

  • Chris Boese

    Yay! Kathleen Hall Jamieson is back! Whoo hooo!

  • Taichi-wuchi

    Misinformation has become an art with the application of the distortion of word meanings thanks to Rover.
    we not only have to deal with misinformation, we have to deal with fear mongering and meaningless promises.
    What you get is not what you vote for.
    Another big problem is the waste of massive amounts of money that is spent on elections instead of on social services.  We have money pouring out of our economy at every seam.  We need to uncap our oil reserves, make the oil companies pay for the oil at the going rate and retool for new sources of energy.  Everything is made of energy.   
    We are paying people to undermine the quality of our life.
       Misinformation has become an art with the application of the distortion of word meanings thanks to Rover.we not only have to deal with misinformation, we have to deal with fear mongering and meaningless promises.What you get is not what you vote for.Another big problem is the waste of massive amounts of money that is spent on elections instead of on social services.  We have money pouring out of our economy at every seam.  We need to uncap our oil reserves, make the oil companies pay for the oil at the going rate and retool for new sources of energy.  Everything is made of energy.   We are paying people to undermine the quality of our life.  

  • GradyLeeHoward


  • Taichi-wuchi

    The devious savant advisor Rover Grady….
    Discretion is the better part of valor.
    He has a lot to do with corrupting the government PACs.

  • Ginger

    1. Conservatives are more concerned with the past than they are about their future which they doing a great job of destroying.
    2.  Conservatives choose not to “think” but instead to live with “blind faith” … a paradox that makes no sense and was invented to promote FEAR rather than “Rational Thought,”… and JUDGMENT rather than “Empathy.”3.  The tiny percent of wealthy Conservatives are not one bit religious, but pretend to be to get what they want–more de-regulations, more billions, and more power over their non-thinking religious followers.

  • Dnadanyi

    Why are gas prices rising? Is it wallstreet? Why are we incapable of protecting ourselves from the vultures?

  • Dnadanyi

    You need to call your station manager.

  • Dnadanyi

    If an institution or an individual medical provider will not offer contraception because it is against their religious beliefs then where is the line drawn? Perhaps the institution or individual medical provider should not be in the health provider business.  There are religions that do not believe in any medical intervention.  And then there are those cases where polititians have insisted upon intervention over the objections of individuals and family.  Why can’t we respect the wishes and needs of individuals to decide what is legally and medically in their own interests and according to their individual religious beliefs.  

  • Dnadanyi

    The IMF began back in the 40s-I think. So when  did the Milton Friedman economic worldview become such an influence on the behavior of the IMF. Was it Reagan and Thatcher?  And why after Argentina, Chile and the worldwide financial crisis are they pursuing the austerity solution in Greece?  It is beginning to look like a conspiracy.  Is Wallstreet betting against Greece so their credit rating goes down and then their interst rate goes up?  Then the IMF comes in like the calvery with money but austerity rules and then things go from bad to worse. Soon banks and utilities like water, electricity etc are sold to transnational corporations and the Greeks are screwed.  I am, as you can tell, trying to figure this out as I speak. On my to do list is learning more about the EURO(why), the IMF, World Bank and also why our journalists say nothing. Thanks for your patience.

  • Taichi-wuchi

    Reply to Grady,
    The devious savant to Bush advisor Rover.

  • Taichi-wuchi

    Our messing around in other nations business has made us a problem instead of a solution.
    The republican spending machine and corporation protection plan is destroying our ability to protect ourselves from mega-madness.
    The economy is already top heavy and money is flooding out of the demand side of economics.  It will destroy the economic base of our economy if the greedy traitors are allowed to divert more funds out of our economy.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent interview.’s as if neither Moyers or Jamieson  have ever heard of Ron Paul.  EVERY other candidate was mentioned.  Are you censoring RP too, Bill?
     He DOES define a philosophy.  He does offer a coherent vision of conservatism. Also, why do we need to raise taxes?  RP’s budget works by cutting spending.
    RP is not a good example of the corruption in politics. He deserves to be noted for such.