Archive

February 23rd, 2016

Pope vs. Trump isn't a new phenomenon

    Many years ago, when Oliver North was running for the Senate from Virginia, I received a call from a reporter. She told me that some church groups in the commonwealth were praying for North's election. Then she asked if their behavior violated the separation of church and state. I explained to her that as separationism is a rule of constitutional law, only the state and not the church can violate it.

    My answer got on her nerves.

    That story came to mind with this week's news that Pope Francis, returning from his visit to Mexico, had said some, um, controversial things about presidential candidate Donald Trump. Much of the commentary has focused on the likely effect of the pope's comments on the Republican nomination battle. I've found more interesting the voices questioning whether the pope should have said anything at all.

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!

Journey through the nine levels of Feminist Hell using this handy map

    We have been hearing a lot lately about special places in hell for women who are insufficiently supportive of other women. I was wondering what else Feminist Hell contains, when, at the midpoint of my life, I found myself lost in a wood so dark that the path ahead was blotted out. I felt a terrible fear, heard immense wailing and there was a big sign overhead about Abandoning Hope Of Having It All, Ye Who Enter Here.

    Fortunately, Feminist Virgil was nice enough to give me a tour. (This was regular Virgil but he had fixed the Dido parts.) He led me down through the Vestibule and into Limbo and over the river of Man-Tears and the forest of armpit hair, sown by our Amazon forebears, explaining to me what each thing was and who the souls were being tormented. I have also drawn a crude map, which follows.

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!

Bush's last stand

    Some years ago, I added "To Kill a Mockingbird" to the syllabus of my course on Ethics in Literature. I teach in a law school, and the students in the seminar were as hard-bitten and hypercritical as one would expect. Most of the works we read they trashed from one end to the other, often with the easygoing savage hauteur of the young intellectual. But not "Mockingbird." They treated the classic with a respect bordering on awe. Prompting them to criticize it was as successful as prompting an evangelical to criticize the Bible.

    Harper Lee, who died Friday at 89, always professed herself astounded at the role of her masterpiece in the lives of so many millions of readers. The story's images are seared into us. Those who don't read it in middle school read it in high school. The book is as firmly installed in the popular culture as a novel can be. It's inspired satires galore -- including on "The Simpsons" -- and Aaron Sorkin is now adapting it for Broadway.

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!

An American export Canadians don't want: Guns

    The United States is to Canada what Mexico is to the United States: the reason for border trouble. We get illegal immigrants smuggled from Mexico; Canada gets illegal guns smuggled from us.

    But who, pray tell, gets the worst of it?

    Much is made about the impact of illegal immigration on states along the southern U.S. border. But what about the impact of illegal weapons making their way into the country to our north?

    Smuggled firearms from the United States are fueling bloodshed in Canada. A couple of sentences from a story in The Post this week by William Marsden said it all: "Homicides in Toronto spiked to 80 in 2005, from 64 in 2004, and the majority were shooting-related. About 70 percent of the guns used were handguns and automatic weapons smuggled from the United States, police say."

    While the number of shootings has decreased, gun seizures by the Canadian Border Services Agency reportedly are up: 226 illegal weapons were seized in 2012, most of them handguns; there were 316 by 2015.

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!

A Supreme Court fight is good for Democrats

    President Barack Obama can make the fight over filling a Supreme Court vacancy a political winner for Democrats.

    The debate about what to do with the slot vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend has already turned into a brawl. Republicans made an initial mistake by insisting they wouldn't even hold hearings on any Obama nominee. That alone has the potential to mobilize the Democratic left.

    But Obama will have to play the politics deftly. He doesn't have the luxury of tapping someone chiefly to excite his party's base because doing so would excite the Republican base too. Nor does the shrill politics of the situation let him choose a politician or a confidante, much as the High Court could use someone who understands the real world of politics.

    Instead, he would be smart to select someone who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, has been confirmed by the Senate before and would be a natural fit for the Supreme Court. No one could question the qualifications; this would set critics back on their heels.

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!

Varieties of Voodoo

    America’s two big political parties are very different from each other, and one difference involves the willingness to indulge economic fantasies.

    Republicans routinely engage in deep voodoo, making outlandish claims about the positive effects of tax cuts for the rich. Democrats tend to be cautious and careful about promising too much, as illustrated most recently by the way Obamacare, which conservatives insisted would be a budget-buster, actually ended up being significantly cheaper than projected.

    But is all that about to change?

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!

Bernie and Me

    As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) often sounds like he's running as much against me as he is the other candidates. I have never met the senator, but I know from listening to him that we disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy.

    Even so, I see benefits in searching for common ground and greater civility during this overly negative campaign season. That's why, in spite of the fact that he often misrepresents where I stand on issues, the senator should know that we do agree on at least one - an issue that resonates with people who feel that hard work and making a contribution will no longer enable them to succeed.

    The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field.

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!

February 22nd

Let's save the U.S. from the Harvard-educated oligarchy

    The late Justice Antonin Scalia argued last year that there was something wrong with having a Supreme Court composed entirely of people who had studied at Harvard and Yale law schools. You may disagree with the larger point he was making -- the observation was part of his dissent to the court's landmark same-sex marriage decision -- but you've got to admit that it's pretty weird that the members of the nation's highest judicial body are drawn from only two schools. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg got her law degree from Columbia, but spent two of her three law-school years at Harvard.)

    The justices' post-law-school careers have been similar too. From Adam Liptak in the New York Times:

    "Three of the current justices are former Supreme Court law clerks. Only one has served as a trial judge, and none has served on a state court. Not one has run for public office.

    "All of the justices but one are former federal appeals court judges. With one exception, those eight served on what might be called the court of appeals for the Acela Circuit, in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington."

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!

Bush's last stand

    The South Carolina Republican primary may well be Jeb Bush's last stand. He described the situation -- polls show him trailing badly, following weak performances in Iowa and New Hampshire -- in typical Bushian syntax:

    "It's all been decided, apparently," he harrumphed this week in Summerville, a town near Charleston. "The pundits have made it all, we don't have to go vote, I guess. I should stop campaigning maybe, huh?"

    Maybe so, actually.

    Several recent state polls agree on two things: Bush's nemesis, Donald Trump, has a commanding lead in my native state; and no late-breaking surge for Bush has yet been discerned. South Carolina Republicans are capable of producing a surprise -- in 2012, Newt Gingrich trounced Mitt Romney, who was the establishment favorite -- but I see no good reason to wager that Bush is about to stun the political world.

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!

U.S. candidates ignore Europe at their peril

    In stump speeches and debates, the U.S. presidential candidates only bring up Europe to make domestic political points or highlight the dangers of Islamic State terrorism or immigration. But ignoring the other major part of what is commonly known as "the West" is a mistake.

    If European countries are mentioned at all on the campaign trail, it is in passing. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that "only China, Germany and the U.S." can be the sustainable energy power of the future, and she wants it to be the U.S. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her Democratic rival, says Germany offers free university education to its citizens, so the U.S. can afford it, too.

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!