Bill Scher

Cast Your Vote for an Unsung Progressive Hero

Over at the Take Back America 2007 blog, I’ve posted the announcement of the finalists for the first annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award. And the final honoree will be selected by your votes. Check out the Take Back America 2007 blog for more.

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Robert Borosage

Funding The War: Life and Death, Not Texas Hold ’em

President Bush forced Democrats to “fold,” the press reports. He vetoed the Iraq funding bill that set a deadline for getting U.S. troops out of the war. The Republican minority blocked any effort to overturn the veto. Now Congress is about to vote on a funding bill the president will accept, one that doesn’t offer a path out of the mess. Bush wins, the Republicans exult, the Democrats “flinch.” But this isn’t poker. This is life and death.

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Bill Scher

Fundamental Flaw Remains In Immigration Bill

Yesterday evening, the Senate voted to keep a temporary guest worker program in the immigration bill. Big mistake. While the bill would sensibly create a path to earned citizenship for the 12 million immigrants currently here illegally, it then starts the problem anew. Temporary workers would only be allowed in for three separate two-year stints, and no chance to earn citizenship. People who need to feed their family for longer than a few years won’t find that terribly useful. And since nothing is being done to improve the economy and create good jobs south of the border, the incentive to risk their lives, leave their homes and immigrate illegally will persist.

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Bill Scher

Fatal Flaw In Immigration Bill

Yesterday evening, the Senate voted to keep a temporary guest worker program in the immigration bill. Big mistake. While the bill would sensibly create a path to earned citizenship for the 12 million immigrants currently here illegally, it then starts the problem anew. Temporary workers would only be allowed in for three separate two-year stints, and no chance to earn citizenship. People who need to feed their family for longer than a few years won’t find that terribly useful. And since nothing is being done to improve the economy and create good jobs south of the border, the incentive to risk their lives, leave their homes and immigrate illegally will persist. Some backers of the compromise acknowledge the temporary program is flawed (an amendment to reduce the size of the program will likely pass). But they insist it must stay to ensure passage.

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Bill Scher

$3.22 a Gallon: Time For a Real Energy Policy

ABC News reports that average gas prices are as high as ever been recorded, after adjusting for inflation: $3.22 a gallon. High prices for fossil fuels wouldn’t be a big deal, if consumers had affordable, cleaner alternatives. But we don’t, thanks to years of conservative energy policy. President Bush ran in 2000 by saying “we need an energy policy.” But the policy has been empty rhetoric and inaction. Without any serious investment into renewable fuels, gas consumption has risen, along with gas prices on Bush’s watch. As a result, we’re squeezed — dependent on dirty oil from abroad thanks to bad energy policy, made more expensive thanks to the global instability fed by bad foreign policy.

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Bill Scher

Oust Gonzales (But Don’t Stop There)

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended plans for a Senate no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying, “The president can keep him. He has the constitutional power to do it. But we have the constitutional power to try to pressure the president to understand that Gonzales is no good.” Today, documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald reminded Schumer and the rest of Congress there’s another constitutional power at their disposal: impeachment. ImpeachGonzales.org features a bruising short from Greenwald’s Brave New Films, depicting Gonzales’ incredulous evasions regarding the Prosecutor Purge. And the site’s impeachment petition has scored over 25,000 signatures in less than a day. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., speculated that the prospect of a no-confidence vote would prompt Gonzales to resign.

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Bill Scher

Oust Gonzales (But Don’t Stop There)

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended plans for a Senate no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying, “The president can keep him. He has the constitutional power to do it. But we have the constitutional power to try to pressure the president to understand that Gonzales is no good.” Today, documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald reminded Schumer and the rest of Congress there’s another constitutional power at their disposal: impeachment. ImpeachGonzales.org features a bruising short from Greenwald’s Brave New Films, depicting Gonzales’ incredulous evasions regarding the Prosecutor Purge. And the site’s impeachment petition has scored over 25,000 signatures in less than a day.

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Bill Scher

Hating Legal Immigrants

Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who opposed last year’s immigration bill, is trying to sell the new compromise to his fellow conservatives by touting the end of “chain immigration,” how nativists describe the policy of allowing legal immigrants to unite their families. But in the Washington Post today, a key point is made by John Trasviña, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund: “The number one way for Asian citizens to be reunited is through family reunification. Originally the brothers and sisters provision was for European immigrants. Now Asian Americans use it the most,” he said. “There’s a resentment. It was good enough for the country when other people used it, but now you see who’s using it and suddenly it’s the first thing to go.

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Bill Scher

Making Sense of “Cap and Trade”

As the Capitol Hill debate on “cap and trade” global warming legislation continues, always keep in mind that not all caps are the same. Loopholes and poor structure can make a cap ineffective. Here, we’ve talked a little more about possible loopholes than the overall structure of a cap-and-trade program. But over at Gristmill, Tom Athanasiou sums up the different structures and where the pitfalls and potential benefits are. A must-read for anyone trying to follow the overall debate.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Krugman On The Big Con

Columnist Paul Krugman on Monday wrote that he did something highly risky: He ate a salad. We are well familiar with the e. coli contamination of lettuce and spinach, and the more recent cases of pet food contamination. But Krugman, following on the heels of work Rick Perlstein has published on TomPaine.com and on his blog, The Big Con, on what he calls “e. coli conservatism,” has pointed the finger at what he has called “a literally sickening ideology.” “Who’s responsible for the new fear of eating? Some blame globalization; some blame food-producing corporations; some blame the Bush administration. But I blame Milton Friedman,” Krugman writes.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up

UPDATE: Listen to the Weekend Watchdog segment from yesterday’s “Seder on Sundays” Air America Radio show. Once again, the Sunday shows go 0 for 3 on our Weekend Watchdog questions. On NBC’s Meet The Press, die-hard Iraq war supporter Newt Gingrich was not asked about his 1999 speech that called for the “liberal political elite” to take “responsibility” for the “mess” in Kosovo that made America look like a “violent, helpless, pathetic country.” Not being pressed to take any responsibility for the mess in Iraq, he was able to articulate his flawed, dark view that we are currently in a “worldwide war” — an attempt to set the stage for an expanded war beyond Iraq’s borders — without being challenged on his foreign policy inconsistencies.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. And on Sunday at 4 PM ET, tune in to Air America Radio’s “Seder on Sundays” program, where I’ll offer the Weekend Watchdog Wrap-Up.

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Robert Borosage

New Energy for America

Confronted with the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, rising gas prices and the “inconvenient truth” of global warming, Americans are looking for leadership on energy independence and the threat posed by catastrophic climate change. Even George Bush, Big Oil’s pocketed president, now pays lip service to the need to end our “addiction to oil.” But with his policies making us more, not less, dependent on foreign oil, energy will be at the center of the 2008 campaign. The question is whether the presidential candidates have caught up with the voters. Energy independence now rivals health care as the top domestic concern. In an April Center for American Progress poll, 60 percent of Americans supported bold action on global warming. A staggering 79 percent believe shifting to alternative energy sources will help the economy and create, not cost, jobs.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The $21 question

Do you know how you could eat on just $21 a week? This week, you may have heard about the four members of Congress who have decided to try living on the amount of food they could buy with $21, the average weekly Food Stamp program allotment. One of the members, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and his wife, Lisa, have maintained a blog about their experience. It’s a sobering read—not just the experiences of the normally well-fed politicians who are doing this for a week, but the comments  of ordinary people who have had to do this, and worse, for weeks or months at a time. It makes you wonder how on earth a nation’s leaders can be so casual when spending public money on instruments of war, power and political advantage, and yet be so stingy when it comes to that most basic form of human compassion, making sure your neighbor has enough to eat.

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Bill Scher

Speaking of Bad Compromises…

…Congressional leaders tried to cut a deal with the White House on the Iraq bill, offering President Bush the ability to waive — effectively, ignore — timetables to redeploy combat troops out of Iraq. The White House rejected the deal as not being a big enough cave-in. By moving away from the principles in Congress’ original bill and offering a bad deal, congressional leaders set themselves up for a lose-lose scenario: Have the White House accept, and get a bad deal that won’t end the occupation, as the public wants. Or have the White House reject, and be placed in a weakened political position. Political strength comes from fighting for principles embraced by the public, not from abandoning principles in the name of compromise and nonexistent middle ground.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Moyers’ Postal Protest

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers is using his PBS show, Bill Moyers’ Journal, to raise the public profile of a postal rate change that has been stirring anger in the progressive press for weeks. Earlier this month, the price of a first-class stamp went up two cents, to 41 cents. What most people do not know is that another postal rate increase is proposed to go into effect July 15, this one affecting magazines. Robert W. McChesney, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and founder of the progressive media organization Free Press, writes in In These Times that smaller magazines could see their postal costs increase by as much as 25 percent, while those of large, mass-market magazines would see a much smaller increase.

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