Archive

May 1st, 2016

Entitlement reform, RIP

    As you have probably heard by now, the stakes in November's presidential election could not be higher. Control of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. Ditto the fate of millions of undocumented immigrants. U.S. foreign policy could be in for its biggest shake-up since the Cold War.

    Yet in one crucial respect the election might make no difference at all.

    Seventy-five percent of planned federal spending between now and the end of the next two presidential terms is mandatory: Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, plus interest on the national debt, according to Congressional Budget Office forecasts. That money is going out the door no matter who's president.

    Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute has come up with an "Index of Fiscal Democracy" to express this vast, automatic commitment of resources, and the preemption of actual political choice it represents. The higher the index, the more possibilities we have for actually governing ourselves.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Did Virginia's McAuliffe say the state criminal justice system is racist?

    Did Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe just send a sobering message about the commonwealth's criminal justice system? Logical deduction says he did.

    The justification given for McAuliffe's blanket restoration of civil rights for felons is provided in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article:

    "The McAuliffe administration has particularly emphasized the disproportionate impact on African-Americans [of the state constitutional provision denying ex-felons the right to vote], saying the life disenfranchisement for felons has roots in post-Civil War attempts to suppress black votes."

    As lawyers say, this is the gravamen of their argument.

    Despite the post-Civil War assertions, the 1830 Virginia Constitution -- pre-Civil War -- said, "any person convicted of any infamous offense" cannot vote.

    The term "infamous offense" is legalese, covering many felonies.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Cruz choice of Fiorina shows his desperation

    Even by the standards of this presidential race, it seems a dubious strategy. Ted Cruz has named Carly Fiorina as his running mate, three months before the Republican convention and with several states yet to hold their primaries. Yes, Ronald Reagan did something similar in 1976, in naming Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his running mate, before the Republican convention named Gerald Ford as its nominee. But Reagan had a specific aim: to sway Republican delegates, and to reach out to other delegates who feared he was too much of an ideologue.

    In Cruz's case with Fiorina, it's less a strategic move than a desperate one. Fiorina has no government experience and lost badly in her previous attempts for elective office. She brings no constituencies or Republican-aligned interest groups with her. After she was trounced in her Senate race in California, she moved away from the Golden State, with no love lost, so it isn't as if she is likely to be helpful in that important primary on June 7. Her national favorability numbers have been consistently below water.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

How to play the 'woman card'

    "Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card," Trump said Tuesday night, after winning 5 primaries.

    Ah yes, the woman's card.

    I have been carrying one of these for years, proudly.

    It is great. It entitles you to a sizable discount on your earnings everywhere you go (average 21 percent, but can be anywhere from 9 percent to 37 percent, depending on what study you're reading and what edition of the Woman Card you have.) If you shop with the Woman Card at the grocery, you will get to pay 11 percent more for all the same products as men, but now they are pink.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Want to know what it's really like to have a child with autism?

    My husband and I are at our local garden store, running errands on a typical Saturday, when Mae, our 8-year-old, becomes agitated. She quickly goes from bunny-hopping down the Azalea aisle -- smile on her face, dimples on display -- to growing fidgety and vaguely cranky to screaming and hitting herself. The sound is horrifying. Heads turn toward us.

    Mae is wearing a bathing suit under her leggings, not because we plan to go to the pool but because she still wears diapers and recently developed a habit of removing them -- spandex and complicated straps slow her down. In this moment, she's got rock-star hair: What's usually a neat black pageboy is sticking up four inches, thanks to the way she compulsively rotates her head back and forth in bed as she falls asleep. Her beautiful long eyelashes now are plastered together with inconsolable tears -- trying to intervene only ever makes it worse.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump's authentic phoniness

    The chances of Donald Trump becoming the Republican nominee for president have gone from impossible to probable, while Hillary Clinton's chances of being the Democrat have moved from likely to virtually certain. So, barring more surprises, it's probably going to be Hillary vs. The Donald in the fall.

    There is no mystery about Clinton. Those who support her as well as those who oppose her have little trouble explaining why. Trump is another matter. No one I know would even consider voting for Trump. So who are all these millions who support him? Why, they are working-class white men, we are told, who feel betrayed by the failure of both parties to deal with stagnant incomes, growing debts and shrinking possibilities for their retirements and their childrens' futures.

    It's a plausible theory. And it may help to explain Bernie Sanders. But no one has ever associated Trump with these blue-collar issues. How has he become the tribune of the people in this election? Is he just the one who got there first?

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump is making up for lost ground

    The good news for Donald Trump continued Tuesday night. He's closer to the nomination. But he's not there yet.

    Trump was long expected to win in the primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, so pulling off that sweep wasn't anything special. But across all five states, Trump's margins were large, well over 50 percent everywhere. He'll wind up with more delegates than he was projected to get; Nate Silver, at the political website FiveThirtyEight, says Trump "basically made up all the ground he lost in WI and CO."

    It's also encouraging for him. Trump right now leads the polls in Indiana and California, the two key states remaining. Until last week in New York, however, Trump usually underperformed his early polling numbers; once the full campaign showed in each state, his opponents generally took most or all of the undecided vote, and sometimes some of his. But that's not what happened in New York, or (overall) in the five states Tuesday night. Perhaps it's only a regional effect, but it's at least a bit of evidence that Trump may do as well or better than he's currently polling.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump Deals the Woman Card

    And it came to pass, barely seconds after he became the near-inevitable Republican presidential nominee, that Donald Trump began a gender war.

    “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card,” Trump said in the aftermath of his five-state primary sweep Tuesday. “And the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”

    Observers felt they discerned a distinct eye roll on the part of Chris Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, who was standing onstage behind the triumphant Trump. Her husband maintained his now-traditional demeanor of a partially brainwashed cult member.

    People, why in the world do you think Trump went there?

    A) He analyzed Clinton’s entire public career and decided her weakest point was the possibility of being the first female president.

    B) He felt his unimpeachable record on feminist issues gave him the gravitas to bring the matter up early.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump's blowout forces his rivals to double down

    The Ted Cruz-John Kasich alliance failed on Tuesday night as Donald Trump rolled up huge victories in five Northeastern states. The two anti-Trump candidates have only one real option left: to double down on the troubled strategy.

    With Kasich out of the way in Indiana next week, Cruz faces a must-win showdown against Trump. If the billionaire takes that state, it may be close to impossible to stop him from winning the Republican presidential nomination. If Cruz prevails, however, his camp and Kasich's already are discussing a plan for dividing up the final huge primaries on June 7.

    Trump's pathway to the 1,237 delegates necessary to capture the nomination became easier with big victories on Tuesday. He won more than 100 delegates, putting him less than 300 shy of the magic number.

    On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton continued her seemingly inevitable march to the nomination, winning four of five contests: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut. But Sen. Bernie Sanders, her only rival, won Rhode Island and insists that he will keep competing at least through the final June primaries.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

April 30th

Trump 2.0? Don't bet on it

    Oh, so now Donald Trump cares about whom he offends?

    The New York billionaire's Republican presidential candidacy is in for a makeover. In fact, his new campaign adviser Paul Manafort told a meeting of Republican National Committee leaders in Hollywood, Fla., that the Donald's pivot to a more cool and cuddly candidate already has begun.

    "You'll start to see more depth of the person, the real person," said Manafort, according to a recording obtained by the Associated Press in the closed-door meeting. "You'll see a real different way."

    "The negatives will come down," Manafort said. "The image is going to change."

    Is he -- and Trump -- for real? The announced transformation conveniently comes at a time when Trump is trying to woo a constituency he underestimated, if he expected it at all: Republican convention delegates who do the actual nominating of the party's presidential candidate.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!