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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Robert Scheer, journalist with a history

Palo Alto's Peace and Justice Center sponsored a talk by journalist Robert Scheer. Many are familiar with the famous Jimmy Carter line admitting to "lust in his heart" from an interview with Scheer. I last heard him thirty two years ago when I would attend his weekly talks in Berkeley with my then-housemate Charlie. The other night, he was still wearing jeans and a "workshirt" but as though someone had hit the fast forward button, he is now a hard-to-believe 70 years old.

Scheer, the former editor of Ramparts Magazine and longtime columnist for the LA Times, is as mesmorizing, entertaining, and information-laden as ever. He runs an online newspaper-blog with his sons, called Truthdig. He spoke about Presidents since his last book is about the five he has interviewed and studied as well as Bush II who he hasn't interviewed. He recounted presidential lies in every administration, but also found some good to report in nearly every case. He reminds us that Nixon was "pink" relative to the current batch of Republicans, what with the wage and price controls he implemented and his trip to China, opening diplomatic relations. (Cheney and Rumsfeld were around then and opposed the visit to China.) Thanks to Gorbachev's proposal, it was Reagan who destroyed a chunk of our nuclear weapons after their summit in Reykovik, Iceland. Carter's experience as Governor of Georgia, with a legislature that only met 60 days a year, wasn't much preparation for president and it really showed. Instead, he became a great ex-president. There just wasn't anything good to say about George II.

Scheer wrote a column in May, 2001 (five months before 9/11) blasting the administration for sending $43 million to the tyrannical, rabidly anti-American Taliban government in Afghanistan. Apparently, because they had outlawed farming opium, they deserved to be propped up with our dollars.

There was some Q & A, but I held my tongue since mostly I wanted to know how he stayed so trim and could retain so many historical facts in his memory.

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