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Live Chat: Robert Scheer on the Election

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Posted on Nov 4, 2010

(Page 4)

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?

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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.

1   2   3   4

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By eir, November 8, 2010 at 2:18 am Link to this comment

Gonewest, Here’s an interesting little story from Jeff Steinberg of LaRouche PAC:

“Beginning in early 1998, Clinton and Rubin launched an international campaign to formulate a “new global financial architecture.” A combination of G-7 advanced sector and G-15 emerging economy nations formed the G-22, to study alternatives to the current, unregulated global system. Representatives of the 22 nations met in Washington, D.C. in the Spring of 1998, and established a series of ongoing working groups, to come up with plans for a new, more regulated international financial system.

These moves by Clinton and Rubin stood in stark opposition to the Greenspan-JP Morgan-Sandy Weill drive to bust up the last vestiges of restrictive bank regulation in the U.S.A.

When, in Sept. 1998, President Clinton traveled to New York City, to deliver a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations, pressing for a “new global financial architecture” with far greater regulation and restriction of shortterm capital flows, all hell broke loose. Clinton was targeted for impeachment. Wall Street Democrats, led by Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Ct.), joined with Britain’s Daily Telegraph propaganda mill, to press for Clinton’s resignation. The House of Representatives voted a bill of impeachment.

The issue was never the Monica Lewinsky affair. The issue was President Clinton’s publicly announced commitment to overhaul the global financial system, to the detriment of speculators.

And the punishment was swift. From the time that President Clinton delivered his statement of intent to overhaul the global financial architecture at the CFR in late September, to the time that the House of Representatives voted for his impeachment, took less than 90 days. The City of London’s demands for Clinton’s scalp over his threat to reregulate the global financial system—in cooperation with developing sector countries that had been viciously looted by speculators—was delivered.

There was never a serious question about the outcome of the impeachment trial of President Clinton in the U.S. Senate. The Democratic majority was never about to vote up the articles of impeachment, despite the Gore-Lieberman efforts to seize the Oval Office. On Feb. 12, 1999, the Senate acquitted Clinton.

But the die had already been cast, and the drive for the repeal of Glass-Steagall benefited enormously from the Clinton impeachment distraction, which killed off any efforts at the new global financial architecture. On May 12, 1999, Robert Rubin resigned as Treasury Secretary, effective July 1 of that year. His replacement, Larry Summers, was fanatically committed to “Sandy’s law,” repealing Glass-Steagall. On Nov. 4, 1999, both the House and the Senate passed the Glass-Steagall repeal. A broken and distracted President Clinton signed it into law days later.”

In essence, Monica Lewinsky was a treasure that would prove to be worth trillions to the financial oligarchs.
 
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By bernard mauge, November 7, 2010 at 1:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the whole thing about the president reaching out to the republicans first once he rode to power and again after his recent humiliating defeat is nothing more than the obvious reality of uniparty politics in America. There is no ideological divide between the two, just two entities reaching out to corporate power and money. With 96% reelection rate, the soviet communist party was 94%, we are living in a strange form of democracy where pretty soon riot police will escort us to the mall and make sure we spend it all on maxed out credit cards. Freedom to drown in your own debt poisoned by toxic food and toxic medias. And you call this demcracy! The middle class reminds me of the well off jews sent to the extermination camps. They were allowed to travel first class waited on respectfully until the trains reached their final destination. And then they saw the dogs, the hudge lights and they kew.

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By Gonewest, November 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You would lay Gramm-Leach-Bliley at Clinton’s feet? 

That bill passed 90-8 in the Senate and 362-57 in the House.

In the Senate 98% of the Republicans and 84% of Democrats voted yea.  In the House 98% of the Republicans and 75% of the Democrats voted yea.

Or are you suggesting Clinton should have vetoed that bill?

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 6, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

eir,
With access to a gold mine like Lyndon Larouche why would Dr Vaknin waste his time psychoanalyzing Barack Obama?  He fails to show how anything he says about narcissism applies to Obama.  Incidentally, Vaknin used the first person pronoun about two thousand nine hundred times in a one hour interview.  Physician, heal thyself.

To anyone who wants to understand Obama I would recommend THE BRIDGE, by David Remnick.  He doesn’t psychologize but from the way he presents Obama in a thousand different circumstances and in many different environments, one can easily draw one’s own conclusions about his personal psychology.

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By eir, November 6, 2010 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

“And this guy—I’m really confused by Obama, because I watched his press conference; the guy is incredibly appealing, he has all the right moves, you know, he’s logical, he’s smart. I wonder, where is his soul? You know, where is his feeling? Is he in touch with this? Did he learn anything as a community organizer in Chicago—which was really a brief time in his life, you know. I mean, Honolulu doesn’t have that kind of visible poverty, but it does have poor people. And, you know, is he in touch at all with the reality of the American experience now, which is quite painful for many people? They’re scared.”

This analysis of Obama by Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of the best seller, Malignant Self-Love, is illuminating, and I would imagine would be especially so for people who find his type of personality confusing.  It’s fascinating:

Dr. Sam Vaknin on Obama’s Narcissism

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By SoTexGuy, November 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

The ‘making nice with crocodiles’ remark is priceless.. and poignant.

Later.

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By smitty8, November 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

Excellent and important article, although I
think RS is clearly wrong when he says, “You
can’t fool the American people.” A central
problem is how easy it is for Fox, Clinton,
Obama, et al,  to do just that, as confirmed
by the vote and such things as the perception
of the 2000 page insurance company sponsored
Obama health scheme as “socialized medicine.”

Instead of an energized left capitalizing on
the anger out there, we get the right doing
the same thing, to their advantage and to the
detriment of the suckers. And what do us
liberals get - insipid, boring, non-newsworthy
“marches” such as the two recently in DC. I
was at the first and felt like I had heard the
same speeches, delivered in the same tired
fashion 40 years ago. No wonder it was
relegated to the bottom of page 18 in the NY
Times.

The challenge to the left is to try to stop
doing what does not work - to wake up and look
around at what DOES work and to try to stop
doing the same old thing and expecting
different results.

It is especially sad how many pathetic
liberals continue to blame Nader for Gore’s
loss when it was Gore and his advisors who
chose to pander to the middle/right, including
picking the ‘stick-in-your-eye’ Joe Lieberman
for a running mate, rather that respecting the
importance of Nader’s message and seeking his
support. Gore ran a weak, tepid, cautious
campaign rejecting the support of Nader’s
ideas which, as history proves, were
prescient.

If Obama had shown real leadership, fulfilling
his promise of ‘hope’ instead of betraying his
base and foolishly thinking that he could make
nice with crocodiles he should have been able
to make real change or to see Republicans take
the hit for blocking it. What to do now? Major
opportunity was lost. Now we are faced with
coping. If only the left would get together
and speak with one voice where we agree
instead of dividing into factions over
disagreement of details.

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DavidByron's avatar

By DavidByron, November 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

He says he was wrong and Nader / Hedges were right but then goes right on and disagrees with them again and for the same reasons and to the same effect.  Doesn’t he get tired of being wrong?

As for US feminism they are basically just right wingers these days and Obama moved the SC to the right like every single other president in living memory.

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BarbieQue's avatar

By BarbieQue, November 5, 2010 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

A Most excellent read. It takes a real giant to not only change ones thinking but apologize as Mr. Scheer did to Nader and Hedges.

I would, respectfully, like to add regarding the following:

“...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…”

The (real) Tea Parties earliest roots are from the Ron Paul campaign, the money bombs, the blimp (oh the back and forth that went on about that on those forums…yeesh) the massive response to every internet poll (hannity still hasn’t closed his right eye fully).

One of the reasons Ron Paul had such massive support was because all he talked about was shrinking government and bringing our Soldiers home and getting out of everywhere we’re in. Which no one but Mike Gravel was doing, maybe Kucinich a bit but not enough to make a crowd send blimps up over cities.

The current day tea party has been corrupted by the likes of that dufus Glennnnnnn Beck and that sly lying sob Huckleberry Finn.

But: The Roots were as anti war as it gets

Tea Party Roots:

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2007/12/ron_pauls_tea_p.html

please note the date

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By Wikileaks for Nobel, November 5, 2010 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

Excellent analysis by Mr. Scheer.  If I could have asked him one question, it would have been why it is that so many self-styled progressives—himself included—continue to view the so-called Democratic Party as some sort of vehicle for desirable change in this country?  Yes, the more local you become, the more plausible that perspective appears; however, at the highest levels, nationally, the Dems have never delivered.  Never.  Even during the Sixties, it was only the real fear of complete social breakdown that drove the legislative victories we saw.  And we are so far from that level or perspective now, that I can’t see chasing the Dems as anything other than analogous to what Obama did by stuffing his cabinet full of the very characters who manufactured our current disaster. 

In short, the Democratic Party is to progress what Geithner, Rubin, and the lot were to Obama’s policies.  It makes no sense to try relieving your headache by pickup up a pistol and putting it to your head.  That’s what the Dem Party—along with its close relation, the GOP—is:  a loaded gun that won’t solve anything for us.

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By eir, November 5, 2010 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

No Bob, “choice” trumps everything else in the world.  It was voted on by the Committee of Over-Privileged, Self-Absorbed People (CO-PS-AP).  Right now, they’re taking up the fight for “Nerdy Apple Bottom.”  You can suggest they take up the cause for addressing imminent hyper-inflation and economic collapse but they don’t see how this concerns them, anyway they’ve got a full calendar.  Await further instructions.

Had to break your balls (ovaries for Ruth Marcus) on this, otherwise good post. 

Dignified and graceful of you to apologize to Nader.

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By SoTexGuy, November 5, 2010 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Take note Mr. Chris Hedges! Having been widely and officially recognized as a most prominent prophet, among prophets and prognosticators and even a few souls in the wilds of Texas .. be very wary!

Congregations and mobs (and political movements) are historically harsh with their prophets and leaders when they aren’t quickly gratified and then go looking for someone to blame!

Luck to you good sir!

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