BLANKWhy is a lefty excited by the thought of a Kentucky libertarian in Congress? Robert Scheer responds to reader questions and comments about his latest column.

3:03 Truthdig
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:03:25 GMT
Comment: Hello everyone. We’ll begin in a moment.

3:07 zjas5 via twitter

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:07:03 GMT

  RT @Thom_Hartmann:Conservative David Frum: Republicans who fall for Rand Paul style political opportunism should start a Lemming Party (

3:07 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:07:47 GMT
Comment: Mitchell S. of Daegu, South Korea, asks: “Do you think government must play an active role in shaping the minds of the citizenry?”

3:08 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:08:21 GMT
Comment: That’s what democracy is all about. I don’t think the government should shape the minds of the citizens; the role of government is make the educational resources available so people can get the material that’s required to inform themselves. I don’t believe in this public supremacy, public relations; I don’t like propaganda of any kind.

3:08 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:08:49 GMT
Comment: sheikhmo in Los Angeles, Calif., asks: “What will you do to stop the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and the funding of private contractors? Thank you.”

3:09 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:09:29 GMT
Comment: Having a kind word to say for any politician that raises the right questions. This is why I wrote a column on Rand Paul — because he challenges. I am tired of Cold War liberals now reinvented as terrorized liberals that justify military when they are betraying our interests. Indeed, libertarians have been more consistent in opposition to these wars than many liberals.

3:10 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:10:24 GMT
Comment: John Phillips of Grand Junction, Colo., asks: “What would you think of a website for the public to hold journalists to some standards?  For instance, virtually all journalists talk about domestic oil without clarifying that all that is really being discussed is the domestic production of oil. 

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t oil sold on the world market so no matter where
it is being produced the proceeds from the sale of oil are divided among the
contributing nations or companies.

It just seems that as politicians and corporations get more media savvy it would
help to have a place to go to decode what is being said.  Then the public can put
pressure on the networks to accurately decribe what is being discussed without
just parroting what they have read off a press release.”

3:11 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:11:12 GMT

  Well, I think we are in better shape these days, thanks to the Internet, than we used to be on the mercy of three TV networks and few newspapers. We, as Truthdig, like to think we are in the business of correcting errors. The oil issues are important. I take your point, there is a lot to be said about domestic production.

3:12 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:12:31 GMT

  Ross in Philadelphia asks: “Do you think this could be a banner year for independents (eg, Crist and Chafee and Eliot Cutler in Maine) and third parties (eg, the Greens are running a strong candidate for gov in Illinois and a bunch of strong candidates at more local levels, and Libertarians are running hundreds of candidates in Texas alone, and the Georgia Libertarians are running a strong candidate for governor and so on), or is this so-called “anti-incumbent” mood limited to the major parties?  Or is it limited to the major parties and independents, with third parties excluded?  Or something else?”

3:15 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:15:10 GMT

  I think it is great to have these challenges to the Democratic and Republican parties. They have a lot of explaining to do — even in the economy, it’s amazing how much money is wasted on bailing out the banks, [and there are] high rates of foreclosures, unemployment and general misery. If ever a time to challenge thinking, this is it.

3:16 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:16:16 GMT

  Question from a Yahoo user in Kentucky: “Do you think Rand Paul is going to help black people?
  I went through the wealthy neighborhoods today and I [saw] a lot of political banners in the yards yet I didn’t see anything in the poor neighborhoods of Lexington, Kentucky. What makes this man think he can win without the votes of the poor? Rand Paul doesn’t want to help poor people obviously because I didn’t see a banner in a poor person’s front yard at all. It was all in the wealthy people’s front yards. Yes, I went all over Lexington, Kentucky, on purpose just to see what his intentions were and it’s obvious now.”

3:16 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:16:22 GMT

  There is no question, the libertarians will not lead us to social justice. I remain as a left liberal, I prefer people like Dennis Kucinich. I think poor people, of any color, have been most hurt by the banking meltdown and are the ones paying the most. All these big banks and Sallie Mae and Countrywide … the victims of the whole scam were basically poor people tricked into buying homes they couldn’t afford and then they lose their life savings.

3:16 Comment From ckane

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:16:30 GMT
Comment: Mr. Scheer, where do you see this country in 10 years?

3:16 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:16:36 GMT

  If I had to choose between Alan Greenspan and Ron Paul, I would pick Ron Paul.
Where there are signs on people’s lawns at all, the reality is that they have been victims. By both Clinton and George Bush, the victims have always been poor people and people of color.

3:19 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:19:05 GMT


  (Responding to ckane) I think this country is facing the same problem that the European economy is facing, and if we take the example of the most successful economy in Germany and leadership of the very conservative [Angela] Merkel, they recognize and are clear that they have to gain public control over the banks. The banking powers are lobbying, controlling politics, manipulating the economy, as we saw with Goldman Sachs, to hide debt. These banks are out of control, multinational in scope, unaccountable to anyone, and they have to be reined in. Two choices are having democratic control or you have a form of fascism where government is put into service of the biggest corporations, and that is the trend in our country that is really frightening.

3:19 Comment From Ron

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:19:16 GMT
Comment: Do you see any political will to change the growing gap between the poor and the weathy and the continued erosion of middle-class incomes?

3:19 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:19:31 GMT


  Yes I do.

3:20 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:20:14 GMT

  (We are staggering questions to give Bob a chance to answer. Next up after he answers Ron: ckane.)

3:22 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:22:20 GMT


  The economy is driven by consumerist demands. People are not making decent wages, and if they are not employed, not being paid, struggling to keep food on the table, they can’t buy the products being offered in the market. If you go back to a pre-industrial society, you have to have a prosperous middle class to support a consumerist society. It’s not even about social justice, it’s about having a stable economy. If our economic system leaves the bottom 90 percent of consumers struggling, which is what has been happening, it’s not a question of the poor. During the golden years of Clinton and Bush, it was the top 10 percent that improved its circumstance and the other 90 percent didn’t do well at all. The gap between the rich and the rest of the people is alarming in terms of social and economic stability.

3:22 Comment From ckane

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:22:25 GMT
Comment: Mr. Scheer, do you believe as I do that the Repubs will take the Congress this fall and the White House in 2012?

3:23 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:23:47 GMT


  No I don’t. Basically, I think, they are a discredited party and they don’t have solutions, they have carping destructive criticisms. People want the problems solved and I think the Obama administration represents a can-do positive attitude towards the social problems.

3:24 Comment From Guinevere

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:24:01 GMT
Comment: You mention that you don’t like what Rand Paul would support in terms of social policy — besides what you said above about poor people, in which other areas do you find him lacking?

3:26 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:26:45 GMT


  Well, he seems to be out to lunch on some of the legislation like the Civil Rights Act that was absolutely necessary to level the playing field and address historic patterns of racism and discrimination in this country. His belief in the free market is laudable in the sense that he seems to favor an Adam Smith version of it that is not dominated by multinational corporations in partnership with the government. But it is naive to assume that our economy is anywhere near an Adam Smith free market; as we see with the oil spill and banking debacle, we need more effective government regulation, not less. Otherwise we don’t stand a chance.

3:26 Comment From ckane

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:26:58 GMT
Comment: Mr. Scheer, who do you see as the Repubs’ nominee in 2012. I think [people laugh at Palin] but we did have Bush for eight years.

3:28 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:28:54 GMT


  I think Palin is a very effective demagogue, and I would not rule her out. The question really will be whether she finds some inner soul and begins to deal seriously with the problems affecting the ordinary soccer moms and dads that she claims to represent who are really struggling in this economy. Or whether she plays the role of the demagogue as she did with the oil issue — blame foreigners when in fact it was good old Americans like Halliburton that were quite instrumental in this disaster.

3:29 Comment From sweetgrass

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:29:02 GMT
Comment: In reference to your mention of who the victims are, I’ve somehow felt that the terrible state of public education is not an accident, but I do NOT mean it’s a conspiracy. It just fits in to have masses of citizens who have never really been taught to think! I could go on with this subject but I’ll wait for your response. I simply feel that no one is really aware of the dumbing down of the general public which allows others to control with ease.

3:30 Comment From ckane
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:30:14 GMT

Comment: Mr. Scheer I disagree with you. The people do not want the kind of change that you think they want. They want cosmetic change. Obama will not make any kind of change that alters the present system for he is there just to be a manger. People do not want to admit it but the Republicans do represent the feelings of the American public and that is why we have no unversal health insurance and never will and the elite will continue steering this ship until it sinks, Sorry but this is true. Sooner or later reality has to be faced.

3:30 Robert Scheer
Thu, 20 May 2010 23:30:42 GMT

  (answering sweetgrass) I think there’s truth to that. I believe the whole idea of an educated person is one who is capable of critical thinking, and we used to respect that in our educational system. That we were turning out people who were more than useful robots for the job market, but rather people capable of being fully functional citizens. That was the dream of the land grant colleges of the big public universities and of universal education.

3:31 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:31:10 GMT


  … To train people to be knowledgeable citizens capable of participating in all aspects of our life, be it the social, the political or the economic realm.

3:33 Truthdig

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:33:01 GMT

  We have time for a couple more questions.

3:33 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:33:18 GMT


  (answering ckane) I think that is a cop-out. I think that the failure cannot be placed on the will of the American public. They have been deceived by the leadership of both political parties and by the mass media, which has basically entertained them to death, distracted them with wars that didn’t need to be fought, developed a false sense of economic prosperity focused on trinkets.

3:34 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:34:20 GMT

  Thanks everybody. Same time next week.

3:34 Robert Scheer

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:34:44 GMT


  I got to run. Good to hear from you all. I’ll see you next week. We’ll have more to chat about.

3:35 Comment From ckane

Thu, 20 May 2010 23:35:12 GMT
Comment: This is a center-right country and it will always be. The Republicans are the true face of America. If you do not believe me just try to enact some meaningful liberal agendas like universal health care, a guarantee income, free public education and you will see that I am right.

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