Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

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

Month: June 2010 (page 1 of 2)

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Gettin’ Stuff Done Edition

The latest LiberalOasis Radio Show podcast is up, with Traci Olsen and myself discussing the final Wall St. reform bill, the Senate jobs filibuster, the possibility of a carbon cap bill this summer, the McChrystal resignation, and, as usual, Twilight.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The Week In Blog: Resignation Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing blog reaction to resignation by Dave Weigel from the Washington Post, the resignation of Gen. McChrystal from commanding the war in Afghanistan and the GOP filibuster of the jobs bill. Watch it below.

Conservatives and Government

A couple of days ago, one of my commenters correctly mentioned that conservatives want a smaller government and that conservatives have no desire to eliminate government. I can agree with both of these statements. The problem is that conservatives have no desire for government to look out for the people, whereas I believe that liberals see government as a counterbalance to the excesses of business.
The good news is that we can follow conservative philosophy for nearly 100 years. Conservatives like to write. The 1935 book, Our Enemy, the State, written by Albert Nock, is an excellent example of conservatism at its best. The things he writes seem almost exactly like Ronald Reagan. “Wherever the state is, there is a felony.” This is right out of Reagan-speak. He wailed against the New Deal as a “coup d’etat.” He talked about the people ripping off the hard-working few — rich businessmen.
We can even go back to the 1880s and 1890s to see an example of conservatism at its best. Look at the combination of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. (The trend may have started earlier, but I cannot find any specific documentation of this.) Richard Olney was a staunch conservative and railroad lawyer who was appointed to be Attorney General. He made his name by attacking the Sherman Antitrust Act. Now he’s been placed in a position where he can actually appoint people either to enforce or not enforce the law. He chose the latter. The essence of conservatism, as I see it, is summed up in the famous letter he wrote to his old railroad boss.

“The Commission, as it functions have now been limited by the courts, is, or can be made, of great use to the railroads. It satisfies the popular clamor for government supervision of the railroads, at the same time that that supervision is almost merely nominal. Further, the older such a commission gets to be, the more inclined it will be found to take the business and railroad view of things. It does becomes a sort of barrier between the railroad corporations and the people and the sort of protection against nasty and crude legislation hostile to railroad interests… the part of wisdom is not to destroy the Commission, but to utilize it.” – From Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew

Therefore, over the last 30 years, we’ve seen examples of this throughout Republican administrations. James Watt was an attorney who made his living attacking environmental protections and touting the EPA as being unconstitutional. Reagan appointed him Secretary of the Interior (the EPA is under the Department of the Interior). Although James Watt was the most egregious example, there are literally hundreds of examples throughout the Reagan and Bush administrations. The Securities and Exchange Commission was headed by somebody who did not believe in regulating Wall Street. The agency was packed with like-minded individuals. The Justice Department filled the Civil Rights division with lawyers who did not believe the 1964 Civil Rights Act was constitutional. The Justice Department actually decreased the funding to this department while Bush was in office.
The examples of conservatives using the government as a tool for business and de-funding agencies which would not align with the conservative vision of the function of government are simply too numerous to name. The one thing that modern conservatives like Grover Norquist have done is make government work for them, make government work for business. The quickest way to become a millionaire during the Bush administration (2001-2008), besides winning the lottery, was winning a government contract. Privatization was the way to go. The brilliance of this conservative strategy was to sell privatization to the American people. The sales pitch was that government was inherently inefficient and that business was efficient. Therefore, if we could get the government to work more like a private business then everything would be great. The only thing that would be better would be to privatize portions of the government. This is what happened during the Bush administration.
So, in conclusion, my commenter was 100% right when he said that conservatives do not want to eliminate government totally. Conservatives simply want government to work for big business who is happy to reward compliant politicians with large campaign donations.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Mandanna! Edition

The latest LiberalOasis Radio Show podcast is up, with Traci Olsen and myself discussing the repeated Senate filibusters of the latest jobs bill and the impact of the Oval Office address on a possible Senate energy bill. Plus, Tom Papparlardo and Shawn Reynolds preview the hot new TV cop show: Mandanna!
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The Week In Blog: Where’s The Love Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing blog reaction to the Oval Office address, the Barton apology, the Olbermann-Kos rift and the RedState-NRA rift. Watch it below.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Feel The Wave Edition

The latest LiberalOasis Radio Show podcast is up, with Traci Olsen and myself wondering — after this week’s primary elections — what happened to the anti-incumbent wave the media kept telling us about, discussing the very eventful America’s Future Now! conference, analyzing the meaning of the close Senate vote saving EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas pollution (my blog post about it is here) and the literary event of the year, “The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner.”
Plus, we talk to Valley Advocate blogger Sarah Buttenwieser about the value of monthly arts nights to the vibrancy of small towns and cities.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The Week In Blog: Razorback Edition

The latest edition of The Week In Blog is up at featuring Matt Lewis and myself discussing blog reaction to this week’s primaries, Helen Thomas and the America’s Future Now! conference. Watch it below.

Rebranding Jamaica

How does Jamaica rebrand itself? That might sound like a bizarre or even callous question given the violence of the past couple of weeks in Kingston. The Jamaican government’s attempted capture and extradition of Christopher Coke has turned Jamaica’s capital into a war zone. Gangs of heavily armed fighters clashed with police. Besides the news allure of the fusion of violence, politics, and Caribbean Stringer Bells, the news stories almost invariably noted that the violence in Jamaica would hurt the image of the island as a peace loving vacation paradise. Reporters would almost always note that this Bob Marley and beaches view of Jamaica was never accurate, but non-the less the Jamaican brand of “no problem maan” is strongly embedded in public consciousness.
Jamaica itself has fed this image with advertising campaigns and luxurious hotels that show off the paradise feel. Fair enough, Jamaica should promote its incredible natural landscape. However, in an age of transparency, and some increased social awareness, Jamaica may need to reformulate its brand to fit new circumstances. If the traditional island vacation traveler is simply looking for a peaceful beach and is unconcerned with the deep social pressures and crisis facing his vacation spot, then he isn’t going to go to “a dangerous” Jamaica. But if Jamaica as a nation brand is going to appeal to a more socially responsible and green traveler (which it must consider doing now that the realities of Kingston politics are so glaringly at odds with the image of a passive relaxation destination), then ad campaigns, travel experiences, and narratives are going to have to reach a lot deeper then a snooze on the beach. A socially responsible branding strategy would lead to a harmonization between the crisis facing Jamaica and its marketability.

Fix Economy, Then Balance Budget

I spoke with a friend of mine today, a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time. After the pleasantries, the Right Wing nonsense started. Obama is spending too much. Okay, I asked, how much is too much when you have an economy that is capable of generating massive amounts of money? There was no answer.
The harping of conservatives has become louder and louder over the last couple of months over the budget deficit. They have wrongly stated that Barack Obama spending us into poverty. There are many analogies that could be used, but the one that I’ll use right now is that our house is on fire. First, we need to put out the fire. Secondly, we rebuild the house. In light of the latest economic numbers we need to spend more and create more jobs.
I’ll avoid mentioning the obvious, that these deficit hawks were silent in 2001, 2003 and again in 2004 as President Bush passed massive tax cuts that were not offset by massive spending cuts. So, these hawks are somewhat hypocritical. Many of these hawks have looked at some promising economic numbers, and the unemployment rate from last month, and point to an improving economy. I’m not sure that the unemployment numbers are quite as rosy as we think. It appears that there is evidence that many of these Americans that are unemployed are now running out of unemployment benefits. Therefore they cannot seek further jobless benefits.

By the way, where are these jobs coming from? For the past 20 years industry has been cutting jobs and streamlining. As business returns, why wouldn’t they simply work with a streamlined workforce? Why wouldn’t they outsource the job, if possible, to somebody in Singapore or Dubai? With the auto industry shrinking and the economy not expanding, where are these jobs going to come from? Well, some of the jobs should come from infrastructure rebuilding that we funded through the stimulus package. Other jobs have to come from this legislation that President Obama spoke about today (See Video). Green Energy. Congress needs to move on this legislation. This is critical. We need this industry to produce millions of new jobs.

I also want to mention that Americans made the same mistake that many conservatives are making now back in 1935-1937. This was right in the middle of the New Deal. GDP was increasing. Unemployment was decreasing. Deficit hawks began to worry about budget woes. A poll at the time revealed that a majority of Americans wanted the administration to balance the budget. Therefore, Roosevelt began to balance the budget. Predictably, as taxes were increased and government spending decreased, GDP fell and unemployment rose. It was the exact opposite that budget hawks wanted to happen. President Barack Obama needs to walk the fine line.  He needs to get the economy going but, as the economy begins to heat up, he does need to slow spending. He does need to balance the budget — after the economy began showing solid signs of recovery. Our economy has shown an incredible capacity to make money. We can pay off his debt, but first we need to put out the fire.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Bree Tanner Edition

The latest LiberalOasis Radio Show podcast is up, with Traci Olsen and myself discussing the upcoming America’s Future Now! conference, my recent Q&A with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Israel-Palestine crisis and the new Twilight novella.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

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