BLANKOn Thursday Robert Scheer responded to reader questions and comments about his column “Blame Clinton, Not Paul.” Scheer said, “both Democrats and Republicans have betrayed the interests of black and brown people and those who got stuck with subprime mortgages, and that’s the pressing civil rights issue right now.”

The following is a transcript of a chat that took place on Thursday, May 27th at 3 PM PST.

2:44 Truthdig
Thu, 27 May 2010 22:44:59 GMT
Comment: Welcome everyone, feel free to chat amongst yourselves while we wait for Robert Scheer to arrive.

2:54 Truthdig
Thu, 27 May 2010 22:54:52 GMT


  We’ll stagger questions to give Bob a chance to answer, so feel free to send them now.

3:02 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:02:53 GMT

  OK. Let’s get started.

3:02 Comment From haroldbeu

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:02:58 GMT

Comment: [Bill] Clinton certainly has much to answer for concerning the financial debacle, but Rand Paul would further de-regulate the financial sector. But I am puzzled why you are not outraged at Paul’s equivocation concerning the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It may not be a racist stance, but it is certainly inhumane and naive.

3:05 Robert Scheer
Thu, 27 May 2010 23:05:17 GMT

  Look, just to be clear, I have no intention of supporting Rand Paul to be president or senator or anything else. I am trying to say that the demonization of this guy is all wrong; he makes some valid points that should be debated that concern the waging of unconstitutional war.
He said he would have opposed the war that most Democrats supported and he was against the banking bailout. I am much more concerned with the failure of leadership of the people I voted for. I voted for Clinton, I supported him and I feel he betrayed the trust I put into him.

3:06 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:06:10 GMT


  Ken Horton in Santa Monica asks: Can you cite one country that employs Libertarian principles successfully? One of the things Libertarians never want to come right out and declare, is that you want to PRIVATIZE EVERYTHING! No Public Schools, No Water Works, No Fire Department, No Police, No Military, No Garbage, No Roads of any kind, No Judicial Entities, etc. WHY IS THIS NOT INSANE AND TOTALLY UNWORKABLE EXCEPT IN SOME BIZARRE UTOPIA?

3:08 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:08:23 GMT

  Well, you know, utopian construct can also be very useful; at the heart of what is appealing about Christianity is a utopian concept. Every major political philosophy comes from utopia. I wouldn’t discard libertarian critiques. I certainly think that if there’s one group in this country that has had the guts to challenge the marriage with Wall Street and the government, it’s been with libertarian views, and I applaud that.

3:08 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:08:30 GMT

  Question from the Internet: “Why is the media focusing on Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act?
   “Meanwhile the left indiscriminately bomb the brown people of the Middle East…

“The real racists: Obama and Pelosi. Woolworth’s isn’t even a store any longer. Meanwhile Afghan children become orphans daily. But don’t bother bringing that up, media! It’s better for ratings if you paint Rand Paul a racist just for supporting the First Amendment and property rights.”

3:10 Comment From Larry Scruggs

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:10:17 GMT
Comment: And just how, exactly, are Obama and Pelosi racists?

3:11 Robert Scheer
Thu, 27 May 2010 23:11:45 GMT

  (Answering question from the Internet) I think the media is distracted by Rand Paul because he is the target of the day and he is new to fresh perspective, and he is threatening in a way he shouldn’t be. Enormous bloated government is good for us — I don’t agree with that. I think that $800 billion defense budget on wars that are unnecessary is a big mistake, and Rand Paul has been willing to challenge some of that spending, and the banking bailout is an enormous waste. I think he is correct to criticize that, so why not agree with someone when they make good points. I do believe there is a need for public education and I do support that.

3:11 Comment From haroldbeu

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:11:51 GMT
Comment: I, too, am angry about the Democrats that supported GWB in his immoral, illegal and stupid war policies concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, but especially Iraq. So, Rand and Ron Paul were right on this issue. But again, what about Rand Paul’s position on the Civil Rights Act of 1964? You haven’t responded to that yet.

3:12 J_Carmon via twitter
Thu, 27 May 2010 23:12:43 GMT

  When Rasmussen says Rand Paul is up by 25% (, it really means he’s up by 3% (

3:16 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:16:00 GMT

  (Answering haroldbeu) I’m not Rand Paul’s press secretary. I strongly supported and support the Civil Rights Act. I picketed for it, I wrote articles favoring it. I don’t know why that got to be the big issue here. He is not running for president. … It was Martin Luther King who was much more concerned with the economic issue of people, and both Democrats and Republicans have betrayed the interests of black and brown people and those who got stuck with subprime mortgages, and that’s the pressing civil rights issue right now. What the banks did to the people is an atrocity, and the government bailing out the banks and ignoring the people is an outrage. And I think civil rights is a red herring and a distraction.

3:16 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:16:48 GMT

  …and what a cop-out, when you have a Democratic president who claims to be a former organizer … and we are cutting child care for poor children and I am supposed to be upset at Rand Paul?? What are we talking here? Where is the great outrage about what Bill Clinton did in deregulating the financial sector and allowing the mischief that has allowed so much destruction in the world economy?

3:17 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:17:41 GMT

  Bob, you say in your column that Paul is a distraction. Are websites like ours doing a disservice by reporting so often on the antics of the Sarah Palins and Rand Pauls of the world?

3:20 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:20:26 GMT

  Well, yes. I do think so. It’s letting the people of real power off the hook. I think Sarah Palin and Rand Paul are sideshows, and yes, I do think that’s a mistake. I only got involved because it upsets me that they are ignoring the important criticism that Rand Paul and his father have said. Without Ron Paul, we would not be having an audit of the Federal Reserve, and we are entitled to it. And if [it was] not for Ron Paul, we wouldn’t have a chance of getting an audit. So I do applaud the presence of some libertarian voices out there saying, wait a minute, you’re wasting our money. I think that the government and private sectors are both menaces and when they both join and get their way, it gets dangerous, and I’m happy the Pauls are willing to criticize that.

3:22 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:22:22 GMT

  Let me add, in all my political life, I have admired Barney Frank; he’s decent, sensible, logical. Why is Barney Frank, who is in charge of the banking regulation bill — why is he opposed to Blanche Lincoln’s amendment preventing the same big banks from engaging in these derivatives? They should not be allowed to do this. If Goldman Sachs wants to be playing with uncontrolled derivatives, they should be doing it on their own nickel and not as currently, in a government-backed bank.

3:22 Comment From haroldbeu

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:22:25 GMT
Comment: Sure, he is not running for president, but there is the issue of ideology that I think is important. Rand Paul acts like demanding businesses not to discriminate is akin to demanding people to allow blacks into their homes. There is a place for government to get involved in such matters. It is important to be mindful that businesses provide services, and to deny people those services can cause true hardship; say for example my daughter needs insulin and there is only one pharmacy in town. And besides, Rand Paul is acting like a national actor. He is trying to influence all Americans with his ideology. It is a false dichotomy to suggest that we can’t criticize Paul and Obama both.

3:24 Robert Scheer
Thu, 27 May 2010 23:24:55 GMT

  Well, I am not opposed to criticizing Rand Paul; I am not a libertarian, and on the big issues, I disagree with him. I favor more government spending on meeting the needs of poor people, expanding health care. I just don’t want to waste trillions on the banks and on the war. He is not someone I would vote for. I just mean people are picking on the Rand Paul problem and ignoring the things he is saying on the bailouts. It is just an easy way of ignoring our past presidents who got us into this mess. To paraphrase an old campaign, “It’s the establishment, stupid.”

3:25 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:25:20 GMT

  Not referring to the commenter, but you get my point.

3:25 Comment From Kasia

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:25:22 GMT
Comment: I have a question for you, Bob: Do you think the GOP, rather than distancing itself from “outliers” and potential renegade types like Palin, tea party members, Rand Paul, etc., will be obliged to try to assimilate these figures and viewpoints in order to have a fighting chance in 2010 and 2012?

3:25 amities via twitter
Thu, 27 May 2010 23:25:53 GMT

  Rand Paul: Illegal immigrants come to U.S. for generous welfare state …. yea real generous (

3:27 jstreveln via twitter

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:27:10 GMT

  RT @1whoknu: Paul or Scam Paul – The Real Dr No || I thought it was Rant Paul.

3:27 Cosmicfruit via twitter

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:27:12 GMT

  Support Jack Conway for Kentucky senator. We as a state CANNOT AFFORD to allow Rand Paul to become a U.S senator.

3:27 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:27:35 GMT

  (Bob is currently responding to the question from Kasia.)

3:27 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:27:38 GMT

  I think there’s a big difference between Palin and both Pauls. I don’t think Palin is a serious person, politically; I don’t think she has a well-thought-out position. I remain shocked that McCain thought that she should be a heartbeat from being president of the USA. I think that is an outrage.

3:28 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:28:16 GMT

  Question from the Internet: “Is Rand Paul being investigated far more than Obama was by the media?
“It seems I now know, less than a week after his national debut, far more about Rand Paul than I did about Obama before the election. And he’s only a candidate for the Senate.

“Why is the media so interested in him? Is it because he’s a successful doctor? Because he has helped so many people with his own hands ? Is it the ideas in his head ?”

3:28 Comment From haroldbeu

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:28:57 GMT
Comment: OK, Robert, the Pauls are right on several issues. I think Libertarianism and Ayn Rand’s objectivism seem logical in the abstract, but have little to do with reality. Besides, I wonder if the tea party folk know that Ayn Rand was pro-choice and against the war in Vietnam? Anyway, it seems that Rand Paul thinks ideologically and to some extent so do the tea party folk. I can sympathize with the anger with the incestuous relationships of the Big Banks, Corporations and Big Government, but the tea party folk tend to want to protect privilege of whites and the wealthy. Just look at their attitudes concerning taxation.

3:29 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:29:40 GMT

  (Answering question from the Internet.) I think Rand Paul and Ron Paul are threatening because they are serious and consistent, even though I personally think they are wrong. But I think it is difficult for the mass media, which seeks to avoid the main issues, to deal with issues that involve people that can make principal decisions. It is difficult for the media to take ideas seriously.

3:29 Comment From Jason

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:29:59 GMT
Comment: The more I read about how Bill Clinton should get some blame for our financial and social mess (NAFTA, welfare reform, deregulation), I’m a bit of a disillusioned liberal now. I’m also not convinced Obama or our current Congress is doing any better. Who or what are we supposed to believe in now?

3:30 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:30:27 GMT

  Good question.

3:33 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:33:00 GMT

  (Answering Jason.) I think there are people on the Democratic side who have shown a principled position in dealing with our economic situation. Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, Henry Waxman, Congressman Grayson — there are people there who have watched out for the interest of average Americans. And what we need to do is back them; Kantwell has been good. Back in Clinton [the Clinton administration], we had Brooksley Born, who was great, but Clinton didn’t back her. In charge of the commodities trading commission, she was great, but was silenced. We have to look for the honest people and provide support for them; they exist.

3:33 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:33:06 GMT

  Last question.

3:33 Comment From haroldbeu

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:33:10 GMT
Comment: One reason people get turned off with politics is that they want the good to always triumph. And politics, like life, rarely gives us pure righteousness. But what we are supposed to believe is that we are the ones who are responsible to speak out, organize and not depend on politicians to do our bidding. And every now and then people do organize and something good happens, as in the case of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

3:33 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:33:56 GMT

  I agree.

3:34 celebtown via twitter

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:34:02 GMT

  Why is Rand Paul trying to split the people of the United States? Tell Me.

3:35 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:35:28 GMT

  First of all, let me not be too pessimistic. There are good things coming out of Congress in financial regulation; I would give them a B- or B+. Health care was a move in the right direction. Unfortunately they’ve dropped the ball on getting out of Afghanistan. We’ll see about Iraq, but it is not looking good. … The main and the big disappointment here is that we have been betrayed by Wall Street. We saved Wall Street and Wall Street has not saved us. That is the beginning and end of the story.

3:35 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:35:37 GMT

  That’s all, folks.

3:35 billdamon via twitter

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:35:39 GMT

  Rand Paul’s favorables with Republicans went way up in Kentucky AFTER he came out against the Civil Rights Act. WOW.

3:35 Truthdig

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:35:42 GMT


  Thanks, Bob.

3:35 Robert Scheer

Thu, 27 May 2010 23:35:49 GMT

  Thank you, everyone. See you next week.
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