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Goodman on Goodman
Posted on Nov 30, 2009
SCHEER: And I can’t use my Medicare because I’m still working. I teach at the University of Southern California, and I have medical coverage. And I’m paying for Medicare. And I’m still paying into Social Security. Older people are demonized in that way. We’re supposed to be this great burden. The fact is, more older people are working longer, and if you’re working, you’re still paying in for Social Security, ‘cause you can’t live on your Social Security, so if you can get a job, you’re gonna want to work at it. And we can’t use our Medicare if we’re already covered. Every doctor I go to wants me to have Medicare. They say, “Get rid of your other insurance.” And I had two of them; I had one left over from the L.A. Times, and that was Aetna, and then I have Blue Cross now, and they say, “No, we prefer Medicare.” You don’t hear that in the debate. You know, you never hear that. I hear it every time I go to a doctor’s office: “Why can’t we use your Medicare?” Because Medicare won’t cover you if you have existing insurance. So, the doctors aren’t saying that. And so what you have here, as with the banking meltdown, as with war—basically truth doesn’t get out. Lobbyists, the special interests – they dominate.
GOODMAN: I mean, $300,000 a day are being spent in the Senate by the oil, coal and gas industry around issues of global warming as we lead into the Copenhagen summit. At every level. Insurance – I mean, the health care lobby – a million dollars a day they’re pouring into Congress.
SCHEER: Right. And the banking industry spent $300 million to get the reversal of Glass-Steagall in one short period. So, no, it’s absolutely outrageous – which brings me to the Obama administration. Because we’re happy that he’s done some things – I don’t know, I can’t speak for you – I certainly supported the guy, I voted for him, and I even gave a campaign contribution. And my wife – I couldn’t stop her from maxing out all the time. I’m disappointed; I don’t know about you. I’m disappointed on health care. I think it was the wrong time to do this sweeping thing unless you really were gonna deliver on it.
GOODMAN: Well, on that, I just wanna say, I am shocked that President Obama took single payer off the table at the beginning. First of all, he was an advocate of it when he was state senator and senator – we have the videotape that shows him talking about that. But even strategically – so he wants public option, although there’s even a question of that now – you put single payer out there so it looks like the public option is right in the middle, but instead they got rid of single payer right away, and so strategically, everything they offer sounds like it is the most extreme change. And I didn’t get it.
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GOODMAN: I’d like to hear it.
SCHEER: I think it has to do with the meritocracy. I really do. I think this guy … I went to, in Hawaii – I spend quite a bit of time in Hawaii – I went to see the schools he was raised in, and what happens is this guy, from a family that struggled with real issues, and even as multiracial as Hawaii is, the recognition of racial differences, there’s poverty, and so forth … He had a real life, he lived in a rented apartment, you know, and [he was from] a broken home, basically, a strong, single mother, and then he went to an elite school – I’m not saying that ruined him, I think he got a good education …
GOODMAN: I think some people who live in families with two parents maybe have the broken home, and maybe he had a home of love.
SCHEER: I’m not denying that love. He had a great deal of love from his grandparents, and they had great friends, and by the way, they never bring it up, but [they were] connected with the Longshoreman Union, which is a very progressive union in Hawaii, and a lot of support. … His own father spoke at a peace rally in the early ‘60s, when he was a student, about why shouldn’t money that’s being spent to war go to help poor people around the world and so forth …
GOODMAN: And who makes those equations today as we spend the trillions we do on war, and the students at UC Berkeley and Cal State …
SCHEER: I think he had a great upbringing. But something happens along the way where you get this idea that somehow appealing to the elite is critical. And I see it. And the banking thing, where you go to a Lawrence Summers, who was the head of Harvard – they must know what they’re doing. They don’t know what they’re doing, the best and the brightest who screwed up.
GOODMAN: Maybe they do, and they’re concentrating wealth in the way that protects them.
SCHEER: Right, and the same thing happened with the health care, you know, let’s get something that the health insurance companies will sign off on, big pharmaceutical will sign off on. And it has been a disaster, I think, a disaster. And the question is whether we should go along with it now. Is this – you know, I’m not asking you to take an editorial position – but what I like about Democracy Now! and what we’re trying to do at Truthdig is, okay, yes, you can only take the lesser evil so far. Or you can only take hope so far. But what’s happening now? And my fear is that maybe this health care plan is not good. You know? And maybe the reorganization of the economy is not good. Maybe there needs to be a strong opposition. And I wonder whether at Democracy Now! you’re not finding resistance from your viewers, your listeners, that you should go easier on the man, give him a break, give him more room—?
GOODMAN: I mean, we’re journalists, and it doesn’t matter who is in office, you know. It’s holding those in power accountable. And you’ve written about him – President Obama – as a community organizer in chief. The good thing is now parents all over the country are saying to their kids, “Maybe you can be a community organizer, too.” But, you know, the mantle has shifted, he’s commander in chief, and the community organizing that has to happen – he respects it more than anyone. But he’s not getting much push-back. You know, when those in power are whispering in his ear in the Oval Office, “You gotta do this thing and make a demand,” he’s gotta be able to point out the window and say, “But if I do that, they’ll storm the Bastille.” But if there’s no one out there, he’s in trouble. And that’s when people are gonna support what he does. And what about when people are absolutely opposed to what he’s doing? They’ve gotta figure out how to do this. ‘Cause there is a moment now. I think the brick wall has become a door. The door is open a crack. And the question is, will it be kicked open or slammed shut? And that takes organizing now. And otherwise you’re gonna see this massive shift in what we are still, of the resources, of the money, from the bottom to the top. Under this administration.
SCHEER: Yeah. We have to end this because you have about 10 things to do today. You are like a – you are a community organizer! You’re gonna run to some KPFK benefit, and then you’re gonna run to some Brave New World benefit, then you’re gonna run to Bakersfield. Nobody goes to Bakersfield! Why are you going there? Well, I won’t ask you. But I do notice in the book, which we’re pushing here, and we’re gonna advertise and sell and everything – “Breaking the Sound Barrier” – you get these nice things said by people like Bill Moyers, Noam Chomsky, so forth. And there’s a reference to you as, well, I.F. Stone did this … Where do we get alternative journalism? And I just wanna say, ‘cause people are – I think being bummed out is a copout. Then you don’t do anything. People say, “Oh, it’s rigged. The game is rigged. We can’t do anything,” and so forth. And I was thinking about it, sitting back in the room, leafing through the book. You know, I knew I.F. Stone, I admired him, I read him when I was a kid, I knew him when he was older. I knew a lot of these people – Murray Kempton – I mean, I can go through the whole list. And with all due respect to them, and to their memory, none of them had the impact that you have. Now, that is not just a tribute to you. It’s a tribute to the Internet, it’s a tribute to video, it’s a tribute to audio, to radio. And it’s also – because they opened certain doors. But I find it very – a source of great optimism – that you exist. And that’s not just you personally – this collective that I’m ignoring – all these people around …
GOODMAN: We’re all a part of – all of us working on ensuring that channels open up.
SCHEER: Right. But the message that I personally would like to get across, because I encounter it with students, I encounter it all the time – the game is rigged, you can’t do anything, the big guys are out there. The fact is, you know, you kick ass. And you do it as a good journalist. You know, not as a proselytizer, not shouting, but you get the facts, you get the logic. And I think it’s a great model for people who worry about, you know – I know we have our students: Can I be a journalist? Can I do something? What you’ve shown is, yes – if you’ve got the parents that inspired you, if you’ve got the sense of social justice, if you have the mission – you can make it happen. And what did you say – 800 stations?
GOODMAN: We just passed over 800 public radio and television stations, and of course, millions of hits at DemocracyNow.org.
SCHEER: Congratulations. And this is the book!
GOODMAN: Thank you very much, Robert, and thank you for all your work.
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