Archive

January 10th, 2016

U.S. can afford to side with Iran over Saudis

    The rapidly escalating conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, sparked by the execution of a Saudi Shiite activist, may seem like the natural outgrowth of a decade's Sunni-Shiite tensions. But more than denominational differences, what's driving the open conflict is the Saudis' deepening fear that the U.S. is shifting its loyalties in the Persian Gulf region from its traditional Saudi ally to a gradually moderating Iran.

    And in a sense, they're right: Although the U.S. is a long way from becoming an instinctive Iranian ally, the nuclear deal has led Washington to start broadening its base in the Gulf, working with Iran where the two sides have overlapping interests. Of which there are many these days.

    The Saudis executed the activist Nimr al-Nimr (it means Tiger the Tiger, by the way, which could possibly be the best name ever), last weekend because they wanted to send a message to the country's Shiite minority and neighbors, and because they thought they could get away with it.

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!

Up With Extremism

    From its very inception, Donald Trump’s campaign for president has been life imitating Twitter. His candidacy is built on Twitter bursts and insults that touch hot buttons, momentarily salve anxieties and put a fist through the face of political correctness, but without any credible programs for implementation.

    Where Trump has been a true innovator is in his willingness to rhetorically combine positions from the isolationist right, the far right, the center right and the center left. If I were running for president, I’d approach politics in the same way: not as a liberal, a conservative, a libertarian or a centrist.

    I’d run as an extremist.

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!

January 9th

2016 elections, beyond just the big one

    It's 2016, when the election will finally get to the voters. Yes, the presidential cycle is already more than three years old. Republican candidates started competing for this year's nomination the day after the November 2012 election, and Hillary Clinton probably started planning for 2016 at some point in 2009. But now it's time to start watching other races, too.

 

    Senate:

    Republicans currently hold 54 seats, but Democrats have several opportunities to close the gap. That's because the third of the Senate contested this year was elected in 2010, a good Republican year. "The question is not whether Democrats will pick up Senate seats next year, it is almost certainly how many," the National Journal's guide predicts.

    Republican incumbents in Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania are all endangered, as is an open Republican seat in Florida. The only similarly vulnerable Democratic seat is in Nevada, where Harry Reid is retiring. But the state has trended Democratic.

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 candidacy has moved past caricature - now the satirists must follow suit

    So much for so long had felt like sport - like a sideshow before the main event, or a rambling preamble before the big address. But now, shenanigans get real.

    When Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy last summer, visual satirists all along the political spectrum got in their quick, oft-smirking hits. The Donald, after all, arrived like an old friend/target, and getting to again have reason to render that beguiling cotton-candy comb-over and Wall Streetwise, alpha-awning brow-squint and that lower lip of protruding swagger - well, it was like revisiting a favorite old haunt till autumn arrived and it was time to say goodbye.

    Only that farewell never came in 2015. Because Trump has been savvier in tapping certain veins of great voter discontent than even some of his supporters gave him credit for.

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 won't be any more gracious as a loser

    It's now clear that a big chunk of voters, especially working-class men, are behind Donald Trump, no matter what. These are the kinds of people who work two jobs, if they're lucky enough to have them, and still can't afford college or sports gear for their kids.

    They like Trump for saying what they're thinking. And they don't care if the tycoon is shown to be a fabulist: The nonpartisan site PolitiFact checked 78 of the Donald's statements and deemed just one to be "true" and five to be "mostly true." The rest were "half true" (13), "mostly false" (12), "false" (30) or "pants on fire" (17).

    This is no flash in the pan, as Haley Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and governor of Mississippi, conceded over the weekend: "The core group of people who are for Trump, you cannot pull them off with a crowbar."

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!

The dividing lines of race, ethnicity and religion

    What do you think the response would be if a bunch of black people, filled with rage and armed to the teeth, took over a federal government installation and defied officials to kick them out? I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be wait-and-see.

    Probably more like point-and-shoot.

    Or what if the occupiers were Mexican-American? They wouldn't be described with the semi-legitimizing term "militia," harking to the days of the patriots. And if the gun-toting citizens happened to be Muslim, heaven forbid, there would be wall-to-wall cable news coverage of the "terrorist assault." I can hear Donald Trump braying for blood.

    Not to worry, however, because the extremists who seized the remote Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon on Saturday are white. As such, they are permitted to engage in a "standoff" with authorities who keep their distance lest there be needless loss of life.

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!

The Clintons’ Secret Language

    Remember the Gores? Al and Tipper? At the Democratic convention in 2000, they shared that hungry, happy kiss, and it was more than a meeting of lips. It was a window, or so we thought, into a partnership of enduring passion and inextinguishable tenderness.

    They’re separated now. Have been for more than five years.

    And the Edwardses? John and Elizabeth? He resembled a Ken doll. She didn’t take after Barbie. That endeared them to voters — endeared him to voters. Only later did we learn about his double life, the furious fights and the copious tears.

    We know nothing of other people’s marriages. Nothing at all.

    So why do we pretend otherwise? Why do we make so many assumptions and judgments?

    And why, every election cycle, do we treat candidates’ spouses and unions as the keys to their characters?

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!

Republicans obsessed with a secret Obama

    Chris Christie on Monday repeated a familiar but still bizarre Republican belief about Barack Obama: "We have a guy in the Oval Office who we don't know. He's been serving us for 7 years and we don't know him."

    Mischief of Faction's Julia Azari put it this way: "It strikes me as a bit similar to Islamophobic remarks about how we don't understand that religion, those people, that culture, etc. Orientalist mystery+panic."

    Yes, one reasonable interpretation of the fixation on "now knowing" Obama is a Republican obsession with race -- or, as Obama once put it, with "a black guy ... with a funny name."

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!

Millions of Americans think of the federal government as their 'enemy'

    The standoff in Oregon between a group of armed extremists and the federal government shows no signs of abating. Among other things, the group is angry over the treatment of local ranchers by the Bureau of Land Management.

    "What people in Western states are dealing with is the destruction of their way of life," a resident of Bend, Ore., told The Washington Post this week. "When frustration builds up, people lash out."

    As for that frustration with the government, there's plenty to go around and not just out West. Last fall, the Pew Research Center polled Americans on their attitudes toward the federal government. Asked to describe how they felt about the government, 79 percent of Americans chose either "frustrated" or "angry." Among white Americans, that figure was 85 percent. Among conservative Republicans, it was 92 percent.

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!

High Taxes, Regulations, and a Swell Economy

    In the mythology of the right, California must fail. Its high taxes, strict environmental rules and thick book of regulations are all ingredients in the conservative recipe for economic meltdown. That California is prospering nicely throws a pie in the face of its harshest critics.

    To get around this clash of ideas and reality, an alternative version of California-going-down has been created. It is built on cherry-picked facts, numbers out of context and anecdotes. And the right continues churning out stories of companies "fleeing" California.

    The conservative City Journal has devoted its winter issue to what's wrong with California. One piece accuses "coastal elites" of destroying drought-plagued almond farmers by "privileging the needs of fish over the needs of people." (What the fish need is a minimum water flow to their habitats to save them from extinction.)

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!