Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

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

Month: May 2009

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: French-Canadian Rastafarian Edition

The LiberalOasis Radio Show is now being broadcast Saturdays at 12 noon on WHMP in Western MA. This week’s show features author of the new book “Bloggers on the Bus,” Eric Boehlert, and the debut of the “meandering musical expeditionary,” Mort Lewis.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The Week In Blog: Base Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv, featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing the FL GOP senate primary, the House climate bill and the Obama-Cheney torture speeches. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/maulik/offsite/offsite_flvplayer.swf

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Cutting Deals & Stacking Boxes

The LiberalOasis Radio Show, airs today at 10 AM on WHMP in Western MA. This week’s podcast includes an interview with Jason Rosenbaum from Health Care for America Now! about the flurry of health reform activity this week, Tom Pappalardo on the joys of box-stacking, Glenn Johnson visits the place where you can get your ice cream with a side of stuffed cabbage, Sarah Lariviere debuts our poetry corner, and I get you up to speed on the global warming compromise between House Dem leaders and coal country congresspeople.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The LiberalOasis Radio Show II: A New Hope

Today we launch the next chapter of the LiberalOasis Radio Show, airing on WHMP in Western MA Saturdays at 10 AM. In addition to the political commentary and interviews you love so much, we will now feature segments from a wide array of contributors covering satire, living and the arts — reflecting the full spectrum of liberal culture every week. Contributors will also start participating here on the blog.
This week’s podcast includes an interview with Sierra Club’s Josh Dorner about the state of play of the House clean energy/climate protection bill, Tom Pappalardo waxes nostalgic about 1980s computers, Tom Burka introduces us to Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Roy Cannunkabunk, Dianne Bilyak skewers “Facebook” lists and Glenn Johnson reports from Northampton’s Gay Pride day.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

Bill O’Reilly Hates the Media (Does that mean he hates himself?)

Classic Bill O’Reilly was on display Monday night for his Talking Points segment: Don’t Trust the Media! O’Reilly then proceeded to tell us several reasons why we should not trust the media. Now let’s think about this. A media personality looks square in the camera and, without noting a hint of irony, tells us not to trust the media. Doesn’t this sound like a Saturday Night Live skit?
http://foxnews1.a.mms.mavenapps.net/mms/rt/1/site/foxnews1-foxnews-pub01-live/current/oreillyplayertemplate/oreillyPlayer/client/embedded/embedded.swf
Many of our founding fathers despised the press, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson among them says O’Reilly. As David McCullough notes in his best-selling book, John Adams, Mr. Adams was probably overly sensitive to criticism, of which he received a lot while president. The Alien and Sedition Acts were a group of four separate laws passed to quell opposition to John Adams specifically (while he was president) and the Federalists in general. I’m unable to find any evidence that Thomas Jefferson despised the press. (If you’re able to find any of this evidence, please let me know.) As a matter of fact, I would say that Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively on freedom of press. “No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will.” Alexander Hamilton wrote about the necessity of a free press in Federalist paper number 84. Finally, I would add that John Adams loved to read and had an extensive library. I think, as usual, Bill O’Reilly is blowing smoke.
He does go on to say that the press is largely corrupt, but gives no evidence to support this.
Newspapers are dying. I must congratulate Bill O’Reilly, frankly, for getting a fact correct. The reasons that newspapers are dying are complex. I think the Internet does have a large part in this, but newspapers were dying long before the explosion of the Internet in the late 1990s. I think that the invention of 24-hour news also has had a lot to do with it. The morning paper is giving you information that you are ready know.
Now Bill O’Reilly is going to give us two excellent examples of why we should not trust the press.
Swine Flu. Bill O’Reilly states that he can’t find out what’s true and what’s hype. Why? He has a whole staff of investigative reporters. Why can he not find out what’s going on? Is he too lazy? He then goes on to say that reports this week state that the swine flu (we’ve been asked to call it Influenza A H1N1) is not as bad as first thought, says O’Reilly, but he can’t verify that either. Why not? The Centers for Disease Control has an extensive amount of information on their website. Bill O’Reilly and Fox can call several states. Every state has a department of epidemiology. I’m really confused about why he can’t verify the number of cases throughout the nation. The CDC has a number of confirmed cases. Why is this so difficult?
It really isn’t difficult. Instead, Bill O’Reilly is trying to paint himself as a thoughtful broadcaster who is not caught up in the hype. Instead, he has not covered a major story at all. In my opinion, I think the precautions that have been taken have helped curb the spread of this disease. Also, it may be that this disease is not as contagious as we first thought. O’Reilly has his agenda and he is sticking to it.
Tent City. Bill O’Reilly then tears into his most “damning” story. Stories about a tent city around Sacramento beginning to spring up in early to mid-March. In what is a particularly huge piece of irony, O’Reilly quotes a story out of The Economist (a periodical written in Great Britain). O’Reilly claims that the story is bogus, which it is not at all. The short article in the Economist states that, “There may have been a foreclosed homeowner or two among its denizens…” Please watch the following video (below). It’s the same video featured in Bill O’Reilly’s tirade. Although the reporter implies that many if not all of the people of this tent city are there because of the economic downturn they never really say that.

Moreover, if you read some of the articles that were written, they clearly point out that everyone in the tent city is not there because of the economic downturn. Instead, most of them were there before the economic downturn. Reading… what a concept! This concept is clearly wasted on Bill O’Reilly. From the Mercury News: “Although a sliver of the roughly 200 Tent City residents are recently middle class people who lost their homes, the overwhelming majority — 80 to 90 percent by several estimates — have been homeless for years, even decades.” From the opening paragraph of a LA Times story, “The capital’s tent city sprawls messily on a grassed-over landfill beneath power lines, home to some 200 men and women with nowhere else to go. It has been here for more than a year, but in the last three weeks it has transformed into a vivid symbol of a financial crisis otherwise invisible to most Americans.” Just as the Today Show probably reported only half the story, it appears that Bill O’Reilly is doing exactly the same thing.
Finally, Bill O’Reilly took the opportunity to bash MSNBC once again. First, let me state that it is clear that Fox news has led in the ratings and has done so for some time. As a matter of fact, both Fox news and MSNBC increased market share during the first quarter of this year. So, Bill O’Reilly is being disingenuous by stating the viewership for MSNBC has plummeted. That is simply false.

Michelle Obama – Mom-in-chief

michelle_obama_inauguralNo one could tell this story better than Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a mother and associate professor at Princeton. Michelle Obama’s greatness (yes, I said greatness) lies in her ability not to outshine her husband, Barack. She is easily as bright, if not brighter, than Barack is. Yet she has held back. Think of the uproar that would occur if Michelle Obama began to take the lead on any issue. The Right would go nuts.
From The Nation:
With Mother’s Day approaching I want think about Michelle Obama’s assertion that her primary role as First Lady is “Mom-in-Chief.”
Many progressive feminists were distressed with Michelle’s assertion of motherhood as her primary role. They hoped she would seek a more aggressive policy agenda. After all Michelle Obama is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She spent her career as an effective advocate for urban communities in their fraught relationship with powerful institutions. She is smart, capable, and independent. She maintained her own career and ambitions throughout Barack’s early political career and even during his election to the U.S. Senate.
Truth is, some of us who were in the orbit of the Obamas ten years ago believed Michelle, not Barack, was the real star of the couple. So while I don’t think anyone expected her to commute to a 9-to-5 job in D.C; many hoped that she would take on an independent political role in the Obama administration.
Instead, Michelle has crafted a more traditional role for herself. She is highly visible, but she has taken on relatively safe issues like childhood literacy, advocacy for women and girls, and support of military families. Even her White House garden is framed more as an initiative for healthy eating and quality family meals than as a statement of commitment to local foods as an effort against global climate change. (more… )

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Pig in Garden Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP-AM in Western MA. The special guest was Valley Advocate & Hartford Advocate columnist Alan Bisbort, who discussed his latest column “The Pig in the Garden,” about the factually dubious and legally challenged New Yorker article by Jared Diamond about tribal society in Papua, New Guinea.
The audio podcast for the show is here: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The Week In Blog: Everybody Hates Arlen Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at bloggingheads.tv, featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing blog reaction to the Specter switch, conservative movement strife, flu response and Obama’s handling of the torture issue. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/maulik/offsite/offsite_flvplayer.swf

Justice David Souter to Step down – Now What?

01souter_190Reality is completely strange and unpredictable. President Barack Obama is juggling 10 or 15 major crises. Now, there reports that Justice David H. Souter plans on retiring. At age 69, Souter is far from the oldest justice on the Supreme Court. Justice John Paul Stevens is 89. I thought Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who just underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer would retire soon. She’s given no indication that she is planning on retiring any time in the near future.
To underscore how far the Republican Party has drifted to the right, David Souter was nominated by George HW Bush. David Souter is now thought of as a liberal.
It is clear that Barack Obama would choose a thoughtful, conscientious, pro-choice liberal to replace David Souter. There is speculation that he would choose a woman. Whatever liberal he chooses will not substantially change the balance of the court.
My question is how hard will Republicans fight against a pro-choice nominee? I think the fight will be to the death. It will be extremely ugly. Obama will have to chose someone who can stand up to 19x the scrutiny that Harriet Miers got. The Fox news crowd will be apoplectic. On the liberal side, there a lot of factions that would like to be appeased –civil rights activists, women’s rights activists, environmentalists and gay-rights activists are just a few of the groups that I can think of off the top of my head.
WaPo has more:

White House advisers have been drafting lists of potential replacements virtually since Obama took office, and the list is said to also include Stanford University law professor Kathleen M. Sullivan, Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears. Souter, who has been on the court since October 1990, was nominated by President George H.W. Bush on July 25, 1990, to a seat vacated by William J. Brennan Jr. He was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 2, 1990. (more… )