Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

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

Month: November 2008 (page 1 of 3)

Samantha Power should be considered for post

In a particularly pointless article, the Washington Post notes that Samantha Power “is listed on Obama’s transition website as part of the team reviewing national security agencies.” Really? Samantha Power is an especially gifted woman. As a journalist and war correspondent she covered wars in the former Yugoslavia and has reported from Sudan, East Timor, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. She is the Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. I had the pleasure of listening to Professor Power speak at Netroots Nation this summer. She thoughtfully discussed how we needed to get out of Iraq while we try to ameliorate any human rights issues. In spite of pushback from the audience, she held her ground and clearly stated her opposition, policy which we should have. We need to get out of Iraq as expeditiously as possible while protecting the citizen population. This is a no-brainer.
In the age of forgiving Joe Lieberman for his multiple sins and inviting Hillary Clinton, former blood thirsty rival, to run the State Department, it seems only fitting that Professor Samantha Power is in the mix. Back in March she described Senator Clinton as a “monster” and “the amount of deceit that she has put forward is really unattractive.” When you compare this to what Joe Lieberman said about President-elect Barack Obama, what she said is meaningless. Besides that, she was 100% accurate.
Barack Obama appears to be seeking the best and the brightest. This means that in any discussion about the State Department and foreign policy should include a possible post for Samantha Power. She is one of the best of brightest progressives Americans. Winning a Pulitzer Prize for her book entitled A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide doesn’t hurt.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Thanksgiving Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA, where I discussed conservative misinformation about the upcoming stimulus package and the auto bailout, the scapegoating of homeless Americans with anti-panhandling laws and a special Thanksgiving list of thanks from our favorite politicians.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3). And video segments are below:
Part 1: Stimulus
Part 2: Bailout
Part 3: Scapegoating the Homeless
Part 4: Politicians Give Thanks!

It’s Not About People, It’s About Policy

The Nation’s Chris Hayes and Open Left’s Chris Bowers recently lamented that Obama’s picks for his administration are not coming from the ranks of the progressive movement. (Hayes since has qualified his initial lament.)
I argued the opposite earlier this month on the LIberalOasis Radio Show, that Obama had earned the “benefit of the doubt” when putting together the team he feels is best to execute his policies, and if we were to criticize Obama, it should be reserved for “matters of policy, not personnel.”
Because what’s most important now is to solve the myriad of crises in the economy, environment and health care, and to make a clean break with neocon foreign policy, and we in the grassroots need to keep our eye on the ball.
This week’s developments further prove the point.
While Obama turned to some economic officials, most notably Larry Summers, who are not known for liberal policymaking, he did so while announcing that he intends to immediately sign legislation launching a:

…two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.

Clearly, the past ideological inclinations of the people do not automatically dictate the policies.
Because that’s major. While who carries out that policy objective — so long as they are competent and trustworthy — is minor.
Might these people eventually steer Obama in a bad policy direction? Or may Obama choose a bad policy direction on his own? Perhaps.
But that’s the point where criticism is merited. Not now.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Build Baby Build Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. First, I talked to my Campaign for America’s Future colleague Eric Lotke about his new report “The Investment Deficit in America,” which lays out how we can rebuild and modernize our crumbling infrastructure. Then, I interviewed Rev. Dr. Peter Ives of The First Churches of Northampton about how religion impacted the 2008 election.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3). No videocast this week.

The Week In Blog: Not Me Edition

My Campaign for America’s Future colleague Terrance Heath sat in for me in this week’s edition of The Week In Blog at, where he discussed blogger reaction to Prop 8 with the Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll. Watch it below.

Unions are the problem with the auto industry — Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has written an op-ed in the New York Times about the auto industry. Gov. Romney is uniquely qualified to comment on the industry…not only due to his personal knowledge of the business but also because his father was the president of American Motors. I was expecting, then, something that was thoughtful and insightful; unfortunately, this article included the same old Republican talking points. It could have been written by Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh.
In a little less than 900 words, Gov. Romney summed up the problems of the auto industry in one word…unions. Unions are the sole problem. Not once in the article did he mention anything about management. He did not mention anything about healthcare costs. The problem was simply labor costs. The former governor mentioned that American automakers spend the extra $2000 per car. Other car manufacturers like BMW, Honda or Toyota don’t have to pay this expense. Unions are the root of all evil. That’s Romney’s argument in a nutshell.
Nowhere in Gov. Romney’s article does it mention anything about CEO pay. He doesn’t mention that the CEO of General Motors, G. Richard Wagoner, is getting paid about $14.4 million per year. That is not much when compared to hedge fund managers who made hundreds of millions (some times billions) of dollars per year…but when you compare that to less than $1 million per year that the CEO of Toyota takes home everything comes into focus.

Gov. Romney, like many other Republicans, argues that America does not need to bail out the auto industry. Instead, America needs to let the auto industry go bankrupt. Once they file for Chapter 11, the auto industry can renegotiate contracts and refocus on their product.

Lee Iacocca , 1979, received loan guarantees from the United States government. His Chrysler Corporation began to produce smaller, cost-efficient carsThe Dodge Aries and the Plymouth Reliant are examples.. In 1983, Chrysler introduced the minivan to the United States. Because of these innovations, Chrysler was able to pay off its loans seven years ahead of schedule. (Iococca’s silence is troubling. I hope that he isn’t sick. hope that he will weigh in on this subject.)

I will not pretend to know all the ins and outs of Detroit. What I will tell you is that throughout the 1980s and 1990s they pumped out a series of cars that were unreliable, expensive and guzzled gas. During this time, Toyota and Honda chipped away at their market share by delivering small, cost-efficient and reliable cars. There is no doubt that mistakes were made both by management and labor throughout this time. For too long Detroit has continued to rely on SUV and truck sales which have large profit margins. A new model needs to be developed. Detroit has to figure out a way to develop cars quicker and faster. Detroit needs to innovate. (I know everybody uses the word innovate, too much, meaning create something.) Detroit needs to develop several types of new cars. These cars should include electric cars and hydrogen cars. There should be new fuel-efficient cars. We need to be more and better hybrid cars. The reliability of American cars should be unparalleled. Detroit should not expect Americans to buy a new car every 3-4 years. Americans don’t make that kind of money anymore.

The American auto industry must take risks. In the past, the auto industry was making way too much money to take any risks. They never sqw the need to do so. They were forced to embrace seatbelts, safety glass, anti-lock brakes and other innovations. In my opinion, small divisions should be set up to take risks, while they alll design and research auto safety to see if it all works.
Finally, Detroit needs to look at several problems and work with labor unions and the government to fix these problems. These problems include (but are not limited to) healthcare costs, pension costs…labor costs. If Detroit can build a car that is as good as a Mercedes, Audi or BMW…I don’t mind paying the extra $1000 – $1500 more if I know the workers are being well compensated.
(Ed. Note: — I have further thoughts on Romney’s oped over at

It’s Not About Lieberman, It’s About 60

Sen. Joe Lieberman is an awful person who lacks principles. He won re-election in 2006 by pretending he was against the Iraq War. After spending a career advocating Democratic domestic policies, he spent the 2008 spouting conservative distortions of core Democratic principles. He is more motivated by personal pique than the public interest. He is dishonest and untrustworthy.
And it completely doesn’t matter that he kept his committee chairmanship.
What matters? Passing legislation that averts a climate crisis, provides health care to all, and modernizes our infrastructure.
We get those things done, we not only get the economy back on track.
We not only make clean energy and health care affordable and accessible to all.
We show that liberal progressive government can deliver, and we lock it in for a generation.
The chief threat to achieving these goals is falling short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to cut off filibusters.
On any given issue, it is possible that getting the 60 vote supermajority will require scratching and clawing.
There’s not a lot of room for error, and it is myopic to unnecessarily alienate anyone that could be in the 60 — regardless of how much of a petulant jerk he or she is.
(And if we’re not doing business with petulant jerks, we won’t get 10 votes in the Senate, let alone 60.)
As Lieberman has shown that he is driven more by personal pique than principle, giving the baby his bottle is perfectly understandable, if decidedly unpleasant.
Because if Lieberman helps squelch filibusters on the big issues that matter, it is a very small price to pay.
Also, as a secondary matter, no one seems to think stripping Lieberman of his environmental subcommittee chairmanship is significant. But arguably it’s more significant than his Homeland Security committee chairmanship.
Again, global warming is one of the issues that truly matter. Lieberman’s subcommittee was the one responsible for global warming legislation.
And the legislation he drafted last year was insufficient to the challenge, yet it became the main global warming bill.
Now, he will not play a critical role in drafting global warming legislation. That’s a pretty big deal.

Congratulations Senator Begich

In celebration of Mark Begich’s victory over Sen. Ted Stevens, here’s a replay of the interview I did with him at Netroots Nation earlier this year.
Part 1
Part 2

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Get Your War Off Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. My special guest was David Rees of Get Your War On, who just published Get Your War On: The Definitive Account of the War on Terror, 2001-2008.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Video of the opening monologue — discussing what’s more important, Obama’s personnel or Obama’s policies — is below.
And here’s the latest animated Get Your War On from

The Week In Blog: More Conservative Delusion Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at, featuring the Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll and myself discussing the Center-Left Nation, prospects for universal health care, the proposed auto bailout, and the future of conservatism. Watch it below.

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