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Live Chat: Robert Scheer on the Election
Posted on Nov 4, 2010
Anderson: All right. I’m sure that some of our listeners and readers will have some things to say about that. We look forward to your comments. But now a question from Linda: How long do you think this government will survive until it’s clear to everyone we’re in a totalitarian system? And she says: “I’m a Hedges reader.”
Scheer: [Laughs] Well, you know, we’re not yet in a totalitarian system. And the reason I resist that is because that [such a notion] lets people off the hook. [To be in a totalitarian system would mean] we don’t have opportunities to organize, to agitate, to correct. No. The reason I run around giving speeches and writing books and everything is I think we can educate the American public. I think we can develop a countering narrative to that of the right wing. I mean, the right wing is wrong. The tea party movement is wrong, in that they talk about big government, but they don’t attack the big military, which is at Cold War levels—we spend more than the rest of the world combined on our military. If you don’t cut the military budget, you’re not going to cut big government. And I don’t hear the tea party people talking about that at all. We have great subsidies for big corporations; in the main, we’re subsidizing Wall Street to an extreme degree. It would be a real test whether the few libertarians, like Rand Paul, that won will be consistent and challenge Wall Street and demand that audit of the Fed. This is a real time … a moment of truth for libertarians, who’ve gotten some measure of power here now. Will they take on Wall Street? Will they take on the Fed?
But, you know, I don’t think we’re in a totalitarian situation yet. Totalitarian means total power, and there’s no room to operate, and you’d better get out of the country or hide or something else. And I don’t believe we’re in that situation. I believe we have options, I believe … you know, even in California, we had some positive results. For instance, in terms of human rights, we had gay people win, and [they] are in our government. We had somebody who defends gay rights and defends women’s rights and has reasonable positions—like Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer—win. And these people are not the enemy, and they will probably do the right thing, or at least we know we can push them to do the right thing. So when the most important, prosperous, powerful state in the Union—it represents, what, the sixth-largest economy in the world or something—we have fairly enlightened leadership now. Our election did not turn out terribly. It turned out fairly well. And there are other bright spots—in New York, for instance. The new attorney general is very good on going after the banks, and the governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been a leader in going after the banks. So we have some positive signs out there, and I think people have got to just get concerned and organize and not put all their marbles in the bag of Obama, and you know, keep their marbles in their head, and organize, and agitate, and educate. And that’s why we do Truthdig. And I don’t think we should give up the fight.
Anderson: We’re keeping our marbles in our heads over here for one more question … [Laughter] … from Ken. He says: Lots of fine progressive analyses of the election results. So, we know the “alleged centrists” have Obama’s ear. To what extent are progressives actually able to get his attention? Or will progressive analyses be ignored?
Scheer: Well, that’s a good question. I think we should take a lesson from the right wing in America. They weren’t demoralized when Barry Goldwater lost, in an ignominious defeat to Lyndon Johnson, long before most of our readers were born. They reorganized, they agitated, they kept their powder dry. But they didn’t give up. When McGovern lost to Richard Nixon, the whole liberal movement collapsed. “Oh no, we’ve got to sell out. We have to betray our ideals.” And now they don’t stand for anything, they’re just. … So my main concern is that people who consider themselves progressive, or even just decent, enlightened adults, stick to their positions. These are sensible positions, and if you don’t solve the problems, you just feed the opposition. You feed the hysterics, you feed the immigrant-bashers. We have to solve these problems. And to begin with, we have to push … I’m not for kissing up to Obama or anybody else. People tell me … I just wrote a book called “The Great American Stickup.” I think it nails it, I think it shows the complicity of the Democratic Party leadership and [Bill] Clinton and so forth.
Scheer: For the long history of American capitalism, and going back to English common law, when you bought a house, the ownership of that house was registered at the local government. It was a matter of local control. We had a clear line of ownership; there was no packaging them in securities, there was no swindling and selling them all over the place. That MERS system, the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems I referred to before, took that power away from local governments. We don’t even know who owns these houses; it’s all done in Reston, Va. Why? Because the Fed had power over banking, and they could do that even without passing a law. They just bypassed all the states. So my concern is, my feeling is, don’t waste your time trying to tug on the ear of some influential person, whether they’re a commentator on television or whether they’re a big politician. You have to organize on the grass roots and get people concerned about alternatives. And the biggest alternative right now—the big alternative—is to have a prohibition on foreclosure of mortgages. You’ve got 50 attorney generals from 50 states that are pushing in the direction of exposing this mortgage fraud. It will be, I tell you, the biggest issue for the next few years—the fraudulent practices that got people into homes they couldn’t afford, that is at the heart of our problem. We’ve got to learn a lot more about it, and I think the power and the revelations will come mostly from the states. And I expect the new attorney general in New York to really provide the leadership on that, because Wall Street and all these things are in New York, and he has a lot of power to do that, just like Eliot Spitzer once did, just like Andrew Cuomo once did.
Anderson: All right! I guess that’s all we have time for today. I’d like to thank our resident talking head [laughter] … and I say that with the utmost respect … Robert Scheer, and columnist and editor in chief, not in that order. And we hope to see you next time on our live broadcast of Bob Chat.
Scheer: And we should say that the disembodied voice of Kasia Anderson played a good role. And next week she will come back with a spirited critique of what I have said.
Anderson: I’ll be ready for you, Bob. OK. Thanks, everyone.
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