Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

Home of the This Is Not Normal podcast, Bill Scher columns and other liberal commentary

Month: June 2007 (page 1 of 2)

“We Have To Fight Them Over There, So We Don’t Have To Over Here”

An argument you will never hear in Great Britian.

On The Radio

On Friday, Monday and Tuesday, I’ll be guest hosting The Bill Dwight Show on WHMP-AM in Western Massachusetts (1400 AM in Northampton, 1240 AM in Greenfield, 1600 AM in Springfield).
For Friday’s show, I’ll be interviewing Josh Silver of Free Press about talk radio bias and net neutrality.

Lugar Refuses To Vote Against The Occupation

Surprise, surprise. After generating headlines putting superficial distance between himself and Dubya, Sen. Lugar still won’t back legislation that would end the occupation.
Asked on NBC’s Today (via Think Progress), “Why not back up your words with a vote?”, Lugar lamely responded:

Those particular resolutions do not have great effect … the resolutions usually deal with so-called timetables, benchmarks which have no particular legal consequence. They may be a venting of emotion…
…My plea is to the president — not to the members of Congress, to the president — to come forward with a plan now that gives us a chance of a bipartisan conclusion. All the rest of the conclusions are very partisan, and I think will not work.

Bipartisanship, of course, is what got us into this occupation. And blind bipartisanship will keep us there.
Furthermore, Lugar’s answer was dishonest.
He won’t vote to end the occupation because he wants it to continue, just with reduced troop levels. He said so himself in his speech.
This is line with what appears to be a coordinated strategy by other leading Senate Republicans.
They recognize that being attached to Bush’s hip is political death in 2008, but they won’t substantively renounce Bush’s foreign policy objectives in Iraq.
So they’ll express concerns about continuing the “surge” past September, but they won’t vote to fully redeploy troops out of Iraq.
Perhaps continued grassroots pressure will eventually make these Republicans crack and side with the American people and the Iraqi people.
But until then, save your praise.

Lugar Calls For “Sustainable Military Posture” In Iraq

That’s not the headline Senate Foreign Policy Cmte Ranking Member Richard Lugar is getting today. He’s getting ink for saying the current “surge” strategy isn’t working and calling for a troop reduction.
But before you put Lugar on a pedestal, recognize that he also said, “A total withdrawal from Iraq also fails to meet our security interests.”
And here’s what he means by a “course change” in Iraq:

Shifting to a Sustainable Military Posture

Our security interests call for a downsizing and re-deployment of U.S. military forces to more sustainable positions in Iraq or the Middle East. Numerous locations for temporary or permanent military bases have been suggested, including Kuwait or other nearby states, the Kurdish territories, or defensible locations in Iraq outside of urban areas. All of these options come with problems and limitations. But some level of American military presence in Iraq would improve the odds that we could respond to terrorist threats, protect oil flows, and help deter a regional war.

So he wants a reduced but “sustainable” military presence, in part to “protect oil flows,” involving “temporary or permanent military bases” (Call’ em want you want! We’re staying!).
Lugar should not be allowed to define the opposite pole of the Iraq debate.
The Lugar-Bush debate is “how many troops should we use to occupy Iraq?”
The fundamental debate is “should we permanently occupy Iraq or not?”

Conservative Activism Grips Our Supreme Court

Typically I do my Supreme Court blogging here at LiberalOasis, but the following graced the Campaign for America’s Future blog first.
Way too many folks rolled over when John Roberts and Sam Alito were nominated for the Supreme Court. And now we’re seeing the consequences.
In my recent book, I characterized the conservative judicial activist agenda as “elitist government, no longer representative of and responsive to the people, handcuffed from insisting upon responsible corporate behavior, but free to subject all Americans to one group’s version of morality.”
And today, we’re seeing that vision in all its glory.
The conservative activists on the Supreme Court decreed in a series of 5-4 decisions:
* Individuals, who believe their tax dollars are being unconstitutionally misused by the White House to promote religious beliefs, aren’t allowed to enter a courthouse to make their case.
* The Environmental Protection Agency can avoid its responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act, even though it’s a law reflecting the public will as passed by the democratically-elected Congress.
* Corporations can once again use their checkbooks to flood the public airwaves with political ads during election season, again overruling Congress.
It’s critical to recognize these decisions — along with earlier decisions to end privacy between a woman and her doctor, and to make it harder to challenge pay discrimination — are part of a pattern.
Because the battle for the Supreme Court is not over. As Justice Anthony Kennedy remains a swing vote, conservative activists do not have complete control. Yet.
Roberts and Alito were able to get on the Court because their dishonest PR operations went largely unchallenged. Roberts was christened “brilliant” and lauded as a lover of grammar. Alito was heralded as an “open-minded” judge who loves baseball and his mom.
All that was meaningless fluff intended to mask their conservative agenda.
We must remember how these nominees were misrepresented so they could get confirmed.
We must catalog the damage they did after being confirmed.
We must crystallize what the conservative activists are trying to achieve, and how it undermines what our founders wanted our judiciary to do.
If we do all that, the next time a conservative activist is being sold to the public, we can insist on proof that the nominee will uphold constitutional principles of representative government, not undermine those principles with elitist government.
And if we don’t get any proof, we can reject that nominee on the merits — that we cannot risk granting another lifetime appointment to someone who will not protect our constitution and our democracy.
More analysis from Tapped, The Carpetbagger Report, TalkLeft, and D-Day.

Democracy Hypocrisy In Action

When you practice Democracy Hypocrisy, bankrupting yourself of moral authority and legitimacy, things tend not to work out so well.
Let’s go to Iran, where democracy is at least a stated, if not terribly sincere, goal:

… George W. Bush’s $75 million program to promote democracy inside Iran … launched more than a year ago, has so far had the opposite effect of what Bush intended.
Even though it’s made little headway in promoting discontent with the regime, the mullahs have used it to intimidate reformers by tainting them as U.S. collaborators.
“All the local democracy [groups] are complaining about it,” said [Iranian-American newscaster Parnaz] Azima, a thin, frail woman wearing a beige manteau and paisley higab, in an interview at her lawyer’s office. “They don’t want to have contact with me.”
Azima (who’s out on bail) and three other Iranian-Americans who have been detained at Tehran’s Evin Prison on similar charges have become causes célèbres back in Washington. But in Tehran no one is rallying for their release…
…most Iranians—government officials and opposition figures alike—tend to poke fun at the Bush democracy program. “If the Americans are willing to spend their budget inside [Iran] for the purpose they are pursuing, they should just give the money to us directly,” Ali Larijani, the chairman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told NEWSWEEK with a laugh. “They are just distributing it through the wrong channels.”

Well, maybe you get what you want when you play footsie with notorious dictators, like Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi:

A U.S. delegation seeking a home for a new military command in Africa got a chilly reception during a tour of the northern half of the continent this month, running into opposition even in countries that enjoy friendly relations with the Pentagon.
Algeria and Libya separately ruled out hosting the Defense Department’s planned Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, and said they were firmly against any of their neighbors doing so either. U.S. diplomats said they were disappointed by the depth of opposition, given that the Bush administration has bolstered ties with both countries on security matters in recent years.

Rachid Tlemcani, a professor of political science at the University of Algiers, said the stern response from North African governments was a reflection of public opposition to U.S. policies in the predominantly Muslim region.
“People on the street assume their governments have already had too many dealings with the U.S. in the war on terror at the expense of the rule of law,” said Tlemcani, who is also a scholar with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The regimes realize the whole idea is very unpopular.”

Defense officials acknowledge that one reason they are paying more attention to Africa is because the continent provides an increasingly large share of the U.S. supply of imported oil and natural gas.

Good thing Dubya wants to end our dependence on oil, or else our inability to kiss up to Qaddafi would be a much bigger problem.

Seder on Sundays

I’ll be on Air America’s “Seder on Sundays” at 4 PM ET today, for our regular Weekend Watchdog segment. Click here to listen online or find a station near you.

Take Back America

I’m in Washington this week, working at the Take Back America conference. I’ll be blogging all the action over at the Campaign for America’s Future blog and the Take Back America blog. But expect the LiberalOasis blogging to be light this week.

Seder on Sundays

I’ll be on Air America’s “Seder on Sundays” at 4 PM ET today, for our regular Weekend Watchdog segment. Click here to listen online or find a station near you.

Errington Thompson Today

I’ll be on The Errington Thompson Show today in the 9 AM ET hour, airing on 880 AM The Revolution in Asheville, NC. Click here to listen online.

Older posts