Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

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

Month: February 2011

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Stabby Oscar Edition

The scapegoating of unions, with special commentary from John Sheirer. The conservative hatred of jobs. The end of the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. And a special Oscar-themed Stabby Five.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Republicans Make Your Lives Worse Edition

On this week’s show: chronicling the damage wrought by newly elected Republican governors, the heightened probability of a Tea Party-provoked federal government shutdown and the weekly Stabby Five.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.

The Week In Blog: Badger Edition

The latest The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv featuring Kristen Soltis and I discuss blog reaction to the budget battle, the Wisconsin showdown, the Middle East uprising and the future of high-speed rail. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/ramon/_live/players/player_v5.2-licensed.swf

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Egypt FTW Edition

Bill Scher on the five ways President Obama helped usher in Egyptian democracy and bury neoconservative foreign policy. How we may face a government shutdown if the House GOP leadership can’t control its caucus. Traci Olsen stabs Atlas Shrugged: The Movie.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.

The Week In Blog: CPACeriffic Edition

The latest The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv featuring Matt Lewis and I discuss the happenings at CPAC and the AOL buyout of The Huffington Post. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/ramon/_live/players/player_v5.2-licensed.swf

The Five Ways President Obama Ushered In Egyptian Democracy

President Barack does not deserve the primary credit for the Egyptian revolution, that goes to the Egyptian people. But President Obama made five critical strategic choices that maximized the possibility of success, which also show how dramatically his administration has changed American foreign policy.
1. No Support For Crackdown.
President Obama did not communicate to Mubarak that a brutal crackdown would be tolerated, such as when the first Bush administration told the Chinese government that how it handled the Tiananmen Square uprising was ultimately an “internal affair,” or when the second Bush administration defended Pakistan’s dictator as someone who “hasn’t crossed the line” after he declared emergency rule and jailed thousands of political opponents.
Mubarak clearly knew he did not have the same latitude to break the protests that past American-backed dictators possessed, and an overwhelming use of force was never tried.
2. Did Not Allow Uprising To Be Seen As Co-Opted By America.
Obama stuck to support of democracy and free assembly, without crudely picking sides in the confrontation. While the President took a lot of heat for not embracing the protests quickly enough or explicitly enough, his restraint ensured that the world accepted the protests as the authentic voice of the Egyptian people.
Muburak allies tried to paint the revolutionaries as under foreign influence. Obama did not give them enough to work with.
3. Did Not Presume America Has More Influence Than It Does Or Should.
The President never made the mistake of delivering ultimatums it could not enforce, which not only would have violated the principle of respecting the sovereignty of the Egyptian people, but also would have diminished American stature if those ultimatums were rebuffed.
4. Did Not Drop Any Bombs On Egypt.
Neoconservatives often argued that the best way to spark a democratic uprising in a country run by an authoritarian regime is to bomb that nation. I suppose they could claim that Iraq eventually got there, but only after hundreds of thousands dead, years of sectarian violence, then eventually rediscovering diplomacy (and talking to a broad range of people and parties).
The Egyptian way is shaping up to be far superior, as more Egyptians will be alive to enjoy their democracy.
5. Signaled America Would Engage All Opposition Parties.
This move was the President at his most politically courageous and most politically powerful.
While conservatives attacked Obama for not trying to disbar the Muslim Brotherhood from participating in any future government, the President repeatedly assured Egypt that America would engage with all parties.
In the President’s first statement on the protests, he said: “we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people — all quarters — to achieve it.”
In his second statement, outlining principles for democratic transition, he said, “the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties.”
As I once wrote in my book, in the chapter explaining how we can promote “credible democracy”:

When America deals with another country, instead of only talking to the people in power or to a single opposition party, we should deal with groups representing all peoples and parties representing all ideologies in that country. That way it will be evident that America is not trying to dictate who is in power in other countries for its own ends, but that we are willing to work with whomever sovereign peoples choose to represent them, now or in the future.

Such an approach is ripe for cheap conservative attacks, because to apply it in the Muslim world means engaging with Islamic political parties with which we disagree on much. But engagement is far better than isolation, which gives terrorist organizations the opportunity to claim they offer the only path towards political relevance and empowerment.
As the President’s intelligence director said yesterday: “With respect to what’s going on in Egypt, I think this is truly a tectonic event. There [is] potentially a great opportunity here to come up with a counternarrative to Al Qaeda and its franchises and what it is espousing.”
The President’s team sees the rise of credible democracy in the world’s largest Arab nation as critical to extinguishing the threat of terrorism by radical Islamists, and properly prioritized that goal ahead succumbing to the myopia of pursuing narrow self-interests in the short-term. That is a major change in America foreign policy and a clear break from the previous President.
Obama has rejected the neoconservative foreign policy belief in imposing phony democracy at the point of the gun, and instead embraced the liberal foreign policy belief of promoting credible democracy through strategic diplomacy.
And the world is better off for it.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Lazy Egypt Punditry Edition

Bill Scher dissects the second-guessers and right-wing paranoids on Egypt. Traci Olsen serves up the weekly Stabby Five. And why John Huntsman has a prayer in ’12.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.

The Week In Blog: Egypt Edition

The latest The Week In Blog is up at Bloggingheads.tv featuring Kristen Soltis and I discuss blog reaction to Egypt, the latest health care judicial ruling and new salvos in the abortion debate. Watch it below.
http://static.bloggingheads.tv/ramon/_live/players/player_v5.2-licensed.swf

Millennials in Georgia Clean Up after BP

Contributors: Hilary Doe, National Director of the Roosevelt Campus Network and Shayna Pollock, Roosevelt Campus Network, University of Georgia
As people across the country gear up for tax season, beltway politicos turn their attention to the State of the Union, and everyone everywhere talks about debt and tea parties, let’s not forget about the State of the Gulf Coast–the deficit of wildlife, commerce, and jobs in the area. The destruction that the BP oil spill caused in our waters, on our land, and for the people all along the coast. Though, like everything, BP’s fifteen minutes in the spotlight has ended, there is no deficit of hope on the part of young people, committed to keeping those affected by the oil spill in mind and preventing another disaster from occurring in the future.
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill happened nearly 9 months ago. After gushing oil for 86 days, making it the largest accidental oil spill in history, the US government declared the rig officially capped in September. The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling declared the explosion avoidable. Better governmental oversight and implementation of more extensive precautions could have prevented the blowout.
Frustrated by reports of weak oversight, an ineffective claims process, immense wildlife destruction, and economic devastation, the Roosevelt Institute chapter at the University of Georgia, engaged in a project entitled SPIL: Solving Petroleum Impacts Legislatively, traveled to Dauphin Island and Mobile, Alabama to learn first-hand about the impacts of the oil spill through interviews. While the nine students on the trip conducted research beforehand, the trip to the gulf region allowed for further in-depth qualitative research on a variety of topics relating to the spill. The interviews touched on the claims process, contracting for clean-up assistance, oversight of oil rigs, emergency preparedness, and the long-term environmental effects of the spill. Across these numerous facets of the spill, interviewees continued to be disappointed by BP’s coordination of the entire clean-up and claims effort.
Multiple parties are to blame in the environmental disaster that destroyed miles of coastline, wrecked ecosystems, and ruined the tourist industry in the Gulf states. However, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is evidence of one overarching systemic problem: the relationship between oil companies and the government.
BP capped the flowing rig, but the primary problem remains unfixed. The government continues their futile efforts to clean up both the economic and environmental effects of the spill. However, their “solution” utilizes the same broken mechanisms that led to the explosion in the first place: the immense influence of BP. How does this promote effective regulation and transparency? BP pays Kenneth Feinberg. BP, along with other big oil companies, develops the industry standard for oil rig inspection and safety. BP hires its own workers for contract instead of using local business people harmed by the spill. BP funds the scientists still researching the damage in the gulf. The disaster continues to unfold through unanswered claims, devastated businesses, and largely unregulated rigs.
The researchers from the trip are now tasked with the immense challenge of composing policies that will reduce the current devastation and set a regulatory framework for the future. The group of researchers will ultimately produce six unique and progressive policies that aim to solve a specific failure within the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
As part of this initiative, Roosevelt at UGA will be hosting a conference on April 9, 2011 to unveil the research group’s findings and bring other students, experts, and policymakers together in a mutual exchange of ideas and information about how to solve the current crisis in the gulf and prevent future offshore disasters.
Complimenting the conference at the University of Georgia, Roosevelt at UGA is sponsoring the release of a one-time publication compiling short articles, written by students and policymakers participating in the conference, on the crisis in the Gulf to be published by the Roosevelt Institute and disseminated at the national level.