Former Santa Monica resident and local activist Robert Scheer, one of the most famous and controversial progressive journalists in America, visited Barnes & Noble on the Third Street Promenade last Friday as part of his book tour to promote his latest book, The Pornography of Power, dedicated to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Senator George McGovern, “two war heroes who preferred plowshares to swords.” According to the jacket notes, the book “is an impassioned call for a new way of thinking about national defense.”
Scheer’s long journalistic career includes a stint in Viet Nam, the Los Angeles Times, and his long-running nationally syndicated political analysis radio program Left, Right & Center produced at KCRW in Santa Monica.
In an exclusive interview with the Mirror, Scheer discussed issues both political and personal:
Mirror: Do you miss living in Santa Monica:
Scheer: I love Santa Monica and visit at least four times a week. That said, I enjoy living downtown and was one of the original urban pioneers. It’s close to work and I can walk to Disney Hall. I also have a sailboat in Marina del Rey and sailing is one of my hobbies.
Mirror: Do you think a case could be made for impeachment?
Scheer: Certainly. The Republicans had no compunctions about impeaching Clinton for a sexual dalliance. A strong case could be made against Bush for lying about the war. His fear-mongering is exactly what our founding fathers were concerned about, and in one of his speeches George Washington warned “…to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism…”
Mirror: What concerns you about Obama if he’s elected?
Scheer: I want him to stop war-mongering over Afghanistan and do not want him to send over more troops. I’m very worried that the Democrat hawks are descending and that in the name of proving he’s a strong commander-in-chief, Obama might go down that road. I’m also concerned that he voted for the wire-tapping bill.
Mirror: Would you support a Jerry Brown candidacy for governor?
Scheer: Personally, I’ve always liked him, but you never know from one day to the next what he’s going to say, so I can’t say that I would support him.
In Scheer’s lively talk at Barnes & Noble, followed by incisive questions and detailed answers, it was evident that veteran journalist has not softened his attacks against the government’s misuse of taxpayers’ dollars.
Following are excerpts from some of the topics he touched upon:
Information being passed down for the past eight years from the White House:
“They pretend to inform and we (the press) pretend to be informed,” adding, “Truth is the casualty of war.”
The real reason for the war in Iraq:
The real reason for the war in Iraq, was that there “were no good targets in Afghanistan.” Scheer added that, “Basically the war was declared to fund the military/industrial complex.”
The 9/11 Commission Report:
“We were never allowed to interview the key witnesses, and the basic narrative comes from the Bush administration.”
The poor performance of Congress:
“The Democrats did not take the action mandated by the people.”
Obama’s chances of being elected:
“If Obama doesn’t stick to his positions that got him here, he will collapse.”
Will President Bush take us to war in Iran?
“It would be insane to do so, but clearly I’d be a fool if I dismissed any idea coming out of the White House, even if it’s stupid,” adding, “I don’t mean to sound pessimistic and I certainly don’t think we should be despondent.”
Scheer, who is editor-in-chief of Truthdig.com, spoke at length about the internet “as a powerful tool for information” and encouraged everyone to “Take full advantage of this resource to try to find the truth of what is going on in this country, adding, “Because of the enormous amount available information, there is no excuse for inactivity.”Scheer currently writes a nationally syndicated op-ed column for the San Francisco Chronicle and clearly the Los Angeles Times has given up one of the nation’s most powerful social and political writers who has steadfastly been trying to keep the public informed for over five decades.