bill moyers

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Last Sunday I caught Bill Moyers on PBS and he had two interesting interviewees as usual. The first, Neal Gabler, talked on the influence of Pop Culture on politics, and the second, Christian Wiman, talked about his life, love, incurable cancer, and he read a couple of his poems.

The theme of the Wiman interview was his love, faith, and incurable cancer. His two poems, “Five Houses Down” and “Sitting Down to Breakfast Alone”, were written during the infrequent times when he was free from worry and self doubt. Moyers quizzed him in depth about his religious faith and it’s clearly unconventional, although he is a christian.

Moyers showed an interview he had previously conducted with Clive James in which James showed great anger with God. Wiman’s response was that this was merely a human projection of God and that we have to get beyond this humanized notion. He invoked Simone Weil a couple times. At least Wiman is not your conventional christian if he likes Simone Weil who was a christian mystic. But he loses me at this point. However, I’ll hasten to add if there is a God, it would have to be incomprehensible in the sense that Wiman seems to believe, and perhaps even Weil.

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I really enjoyed Bill Moyers interview with John Sexton, the president of NYU, last evening. He’s a fascinating and likable guy. Of course he believes in God, being raised a catholic in Brooklyn, NY, and apparently never straying from that belief. But I think I grasp what he’s trying to say, this thing about cognitive limitations, and different dimensions.

Here’s a portion of his conversation with Bill Moyers, taken from the transcript on the Moyers website:


BILL MOYERS: By ineffable, you mean?

JOHN SEXTON: I mean that what we’re discussing now is something that’s approached through music and poetry and mythos in the best sense of that word. You know, Americans talk about myth as falsehood. It’s become a synonym for falsehood, whereas myth speaks– I mean, Lisa had never reasoned to me to the fact that she loved me. I never reasoned her to the fact that I loved her.

It was something that was an experience truth, the deepest truths in life, including what we’re talking about here, including what I tried to get at in that course. Baseball is a Road to God, with its kind of, you know, a frolicky title is there’s something very serious. But it’s not something that you get to through cognitive processes.

This is why the war between science and religion seems to me is a false war. There’s no tension between science and religion. They’re different dimensions. So everything I’ve just said to you I know is a matter of faith. There are people out there on the NYU faculty that are embarrassed to have their president say this and I delight in that, you know. I mean, but it is something that’s real in my life and affects me day-in and day-out. It– it’s self-evident that there are important things that are not reducible to the cognitive. You know, now, the neuroscientists would like to map, you know, even the poetic parts of the brain. And so on. We’ll see where that goes. But the fact of the matter is that when I listened to Rachmaninoff’s second at the Philharmonic a couple of days ago, there was an ineffable transportation to another plane that undeniably became part of my experience.

I mean, I think Keats would say, at this point, that there’s a coalescence of what we’re talking about here, about transcendence and beauty and truth and faith.

Again, whether all this about different dimensions and knowledge beyond the cognitive, is true, or just a happy illusion, just more chemical effects on our endocrine system making us feel “transported” and into a false reality, I’m still undecided upon, terribly mixed up about. The new atheists, the Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, etc., have put religion in its place, the opiate of the people, the awful hypocrisy of it, the source of much of the world’s evil. But still, there are cognitive mysteries, like the “turtles all the way down” paradox. Of course, it appears that Rebecca Goldstein thinks Spinoza has explained all this rationally. Or perhaps not.

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Bill Moyers tells it like it is to Bill Mayer. Part 1: Health Care
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Bill Moyers tells it like it is to Bill Mayer. Part 2: Afghanistan
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What a breath of fresh air Bill Moyers is!
Let’s get the hell out of Afghanistan like he says! AlQaida’s not even there any more!

UPDATE: Even George Will says we should get out of Afghanistan!

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Here are the best arguments for Single Payer Health Insurance I’ve come across yet:

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We’re lucky we have that great journalist, Bill Moyers, around. Here he’s interviewing two strong advocates of Single Payer, David Himmelstein, MD, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, and Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

What chance in Hell does Single Payer have in this country?

I’ll answer my own question. It has NO CHANCE.

So what do we do? Stand with Dr. Dean and go all out for the Public Option. He explains this in the following:

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This piece by Bernie Horn convinced me that Single Payer can’t work politically, and that our only option is the Public Option.

Right now, members of congress, including Olympia Snowe in the Senate are watering down the Public Option so that it will end up not being a Public Option. Read Paul Krugman on the Snowe “trigger”.

That’s why we’ve got to Stand with Dr. Dean. Sign his petition!

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Can it be that the world as we know it may be coming to an end? Naw, it can’t be that bad, can it? Well, I’ve been cramming as much of this global financial predicament as I can stand into my head the last couple days, between going about my daily chores and ablutions. And, as one might say, this is serious shit. Paul Krugman’s blogs have been my main starting points, but also I watched online Bill Moyers’ interview of George Soros, the man who predicted this perilous predicament a number of months ago. George states that we have wasted valuable time and are still behind the curve but may be lucky. Nothing less than a coordinated intervention by all the countries into their banking systems to supply vast sums of equity, plus huge economic stimulus packages and bailouts for homeowners, will work. Or at least it seems so. Tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008, may be the D-Day, D for decision. Will it work? We’ll have to see.
Update Oct. 12: Well, here it is Oct. 12, Sunday, and it looks like the Europeans at least are starting to get their acts together. We’ll see about the U.S.of A. Paul Krugman still has doubts about our commitments, but thankfully our markets are closed tomorrow, the day Columbus discovered America, or so the story goes…… Oh, and here’s another great source of info on the current situation.

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I watched most of Bill Moyers’ interview with Andrew J. Bacevich last evening. What an eye-opener! I’d been aware of a lot about Bacevich (see my post from last year) but had never known what he looks like nor witnessed his strong personality in a video before.

I would sum up what he is saying as follows: we have become an imperial nation over the past thirty years because of the combination of our naivety and hubris about “freedom” and our craven commercialism.

A small group of us at the top has led the way into this economic, political and military pickle we’re now in, and he blames Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II all about equally, except of course that Bush II has really accelerated our decline, but we, the American people as a whole, bear equal responsibility for being oblivious and allowing this nonsense to go on. You could blame the media too.

He feels that no matter who is elected president, Obama or McCain, nothing much will change because we are already far down the road with this imperial state and certainly Obama does not appear to have deviated much from the status quo, evidence for this being he does not list Andrew J. Bacevich among his advisers.

Bacevich is a Professor of International Relations at Boston University, retired Army colonel, and West Point graduate who served in Vietnam and retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of colonel. He’s come out with a new book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, which Moyers referred to in his interview with Bacevich.

He invokes Reinhold Niebuhr, that famous intellectual American theologian of the 20th century, in this paragraph given by Moyers from the first chapter of The Limits of Power:

The United States today finds itself threatened by three interlocking crises. The first of these crises is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third military. All three share this characteristic: They are of our own making. In assessing the predicament that results from these crises, THE LIMITS OF POWER employs what might be called a Niebuhrean perspective. Writing decades ago, Reinhold Niebuhr anticipated that predicament with uncanny accuracy and astonishing prescience. As such, perhaps more than any other figure in our recent history, he may help us discern a way out.


So what should we do on Nov. 4? I’d say hold your nose and vote for Obama. Here’s a paragraph from a comment by PacificCoastRon on Steve Clemons’ blog:

So: oppose Obama all you want up til Nov. 3rd, criticize him, hold him up to higher standards, advocate for the revolution you’d like to see, and call out the Democrats for the cowardly leeches that most of them are. But hold your nose to make sure you vote for him on Nov. 4th (or earlier if you can vote by mail), and get all your friends to vote for him, and get all your friends to make sure the Republicans don’t steal it again. then on Nov. 5th you can go back to being disappointed in Obama, and in pressuring him and criticizing him with all your might to guide him towards your vision of utopia.


The alternative, John McCain, is unthinkable.

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Gotcha Fox!

Juan Cole presents this video on how Fox Producer Porter Barry ambushes Bill Moyers at the National Conference for Media Reform 2008. Later the Fox Producer gets a little taste of his own medicine. Very interesting live show!
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