Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

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

Month: May 2011

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Interview With Ted Rall Edition

Ted Rall responds in person to last week’s criticism of his “Rise of the Obamabots” column. Plus, the unreported 17-point shift in the President’s polls, and the weekly Stabby Five.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Note: as promised in the podcast, here are links Ted Rall provided afterward in defense of his argument regarding the President’s rhetoric on a public health insurance option, from Salon, The Plum Line, AmericaBlog and Intoxination.
I’ll add a couple of things that I referenced, the 2008 campaign policy paper, and the February 2009 set of principles President Obama issued at the very beginning of the policy debate.

The Week In Blog: Special Election Edition

The latest The Week In Blog is up at featuring Kristen Soltis and I as we discuss the NY 26th special election, Elizabeth Warren and the President’s strategy on Isreal-Palestine. Watch it below.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Obamabot Edition

Bill Scher takes down the persecution complex of Ted Rall and the Obama haters. Traci Olsen takes down the Dominique Strauss-Kahn defenders. And how “ObamaCare” made the Republican Party implode.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.

The Week In Blog: The Race Is On Edition

The latest The Week In Blog is up at featuring Matt Lewis and I as we discuss GOP 2012 … and GOP 2016. Watch it below.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: 60% Edition

Has the Bin Laden mission permanently reshaped the public’s view of President Obama? Why can’t Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney convince conservatives to take policy seriously? How John Hunstman has already disappointed. And what did Rick Santorum do now?
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Extra Helicopter Edition

Why the successful Osama Bin Laden mission is further proof President Obama’s foreign policy is nothing like President Bush’s. Plus, we bask in glorious rise of Herman Cain and Rick Santorum.
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.

The Week In Blog: Citizen Journalism Edition

The latest The Week In Blog is up at featuring Matt Lewis and I, discuss Osama bin Laden’s demise, the impact on 2012, and the underbelly of “citizen journalism.” Watch it below.

Getting Osama: What We Should Have Done In The First Place … But Republicans Wouldn’t Do

Osama Bin Laden’s demise came after President Barack Obama restored counter-terrorism operations to America’s top national security priority, reversing President George Bush’s decision — before and after the 9/11 attacks — to de-prioritize the effort to destroy Al Qaeda.
Bush may have coined the phrase “global war on terror,” but that was simply political cover for a strategic decision to prioritize “regime change,” overthrowing leaders of “rogue states” with unilateral military actions, over the multilateral pursuit of stateless terror organizations.
Bush’s decision was a costly one: in lives, in money and in moral authority.
Let’s review the record.
In his second term, President Bill Clinton furiously tried to take out Bin Laden, but was not taken seriously by Republicans. A failed missile attack was scorned as an attempt to shift attention away from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. And congressional Republicans helped <a href="block a series of Clinton-backed counter-terrorism measures.
In 2001, the Bush administration retained Clinton’s top counter-terrorism aide, Richard Clarke, then proceeded to ignore him. Clarke later recounted that while “Bill Clinton was obsessed with getting bin Laden,” the Bush team “thought I was a little crazy, a little obsessed with this little terrorist bin Laden. Why wasn’t I focused on Iraqi-sponsored terrorism?”
In the months before 9/11, the Bush administration and their conservative allies were pushing Congress to spend billions more on national missile defense. Democrats repeatedly countered that our primary national security threats came from nuclear and biological weapons smuggled in suitcases by terrorists, not missiles from dictators.
The Bush administration response, argued right up until the 9/11 attacks, was that we already spend enough on counter-terrorism. On September 9, 2001, then-Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld rebutted calls to increase counter-terrorism funds instead of missile defense by saying, “the United States spends so much money…on terrorists. We spend a $11 billion trying to deal with terrorism and force protection.”
After 9/11, the Bush administration did not seriously recalibrate its national security strategy. Instead of organizing a broad multilateral response to extinguish Al Qaeda, President Bush only chased Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden was able to escape at Tora Bora because Bush outsourced to job to unreliable Afghan warlords.
No matter. The Bush administration soon returned to its Iraq obsession and held back from aggressively pursuing Bin Laden.
The Pakistan government, then led by military dictatorship, refused to allow American military forces cross the border. The Bush administration acquiesced.
In 2005, an operation to capture Al Qaeda’s second-in-command is aborted in deference to Pakistan leaders. In 2006, President Bush literally blesses a “peace deal” between the Pakistan government and tribal militants that support Al Qaeda, and further argues that hunting Al Qaeda is “not a top priority use of American resources.” In 2007, top Bush adviser Karl Rove defended the policy by saying:

The United States has concerns about taking unilateral action in a sovereign nation without their approval, and uh, so this has always been the difficulty we have with, uh — unless, of course it’s Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars were lost on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was sold to the public as a battlefront in the “global war on terror” but had nothing to do with terrorism at all.
And according to official Army historians, the Bush administration failed to plan for its Afghan military effort, and then starved it by diverting military resources to Iraq.
The failed conservative national security strategy has left President Obama with an enormous mess to clean up. Good people can argue whether he is extricating America out of Afghanistan fast enough, but I think the record is clear that he knows how draining an overly extended stay would be in dollars and lives.
More importantly, President Obama made a strategic decision to prioritize the dismantling of Al Qaeda’s leadership, and to act even if Pakistan wouldn’t.
His pledge to do so in the presidential campaign was mocked by conservatives at the time. But the successful Bin Laden operation shows that an effective counter-terrorism strategy need not alienate allies, require jingoistic rhetoric, costs hundreds of billions of dollars or end the lives of thousands of innocents. The globe’s most wanted terrorist organization leader was felled by diligent intelligence gathering, thoughtful military planning and small strike force.
Similarly, Egypt’s dictator was ousted, and the cause of democracy was advanced, by non-violent protests alongside strategic, skilled diplomacy. Neither a full-blown unilateral military invasion or a costly military occupation was required.
For America to be fiscally sound and economically prosperous over the long haul, we can no longer allow rhetorical bombast to mask dangerous foreign policy adventures that worsen our national security and waste taxpayer funds.
We have experienced two contrasting foreign policy visions. One was a bust. The other has had clear successes in only two years time.
Let’s stick with what’s working.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Trumped Edition

Will the President’s birth certificate move strengthen his hand in the debt limit debate? Did Gov. Mitch Daniels cave to the social conservatives? Will anyone show up to the first Republican presidential debate?
You can download the podcast at these links: (iTunes / XML feed / MP3).
Or you can simply listen below.