Archive

August 13th, 2016

Brace yourself for an even uglier campaign

    It may be hard to imagine, but I fear this election campaign is going to get worse - maybe a lot worse - before it gets better. By the time it's done, the whole nation may feel like it needs a shower.

    I base this depressing prediction on three assumptions: Polls showing the Obama coalition coming together behind Hillary Clinton are correct; Donald Trump does not want to be embarrassed as a massive loser; and the Republican Party cares more about keeping its majority in the House than about Trump's tender feelings. Any of these premises can be wrong, but I think they're sound.

    The logical result is not pretty. Those who believed this campaign hit rock-bottom long ago should keep in mind one of Sen. John McCain's favorite sayings: "It's always darkest before it's totally black."

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!

Black Lives Matter is 'woke' to old problems - but still sleeping on solutions

    There was a time when Black Lives Matter was committed, principally, to protecting black people from being killed by police. They have expanded their purview lately.

    Last week, a consortium of over 60 independent Black Lives Matter organizations released a platform addressing issues facing African Americans. They've come a long way, indeed, from a cluster of activists demonstrating and tweeting from Ferguson, Mo. Their platform has six main planks, each with several sub-planks, constituting a list of demands that would make the heart of any progressive civil rights leader swoon.

    It's all there: criminal justice reform, education reform, jobs programs, upending politics-as-usual, more and better mental health services. And on top of all that, reparations.

    By the time the platform gets to breaking up big banks and getting big money out of politics, it becomes clear that Black Lives Matter has grown from a very specific - and noble - mission into a call for an entire leftist revolution. In the parlance of contemporary social media discourse, Black Lives Matter is the quintessence of "woke."

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 noble alternative to today's euro system

    A new book by Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz suggests that the best way forward for the euro area is a "flexible euro," a system of different currencies under the same name fluctuating within certain limits. It's a new, ingenious riff on an idea that keeps popping up in discussions of the currency bloc's future, but probably doesn't promise much improvement to the weaker European economies.

    An excerpt from the Stiglitz book, "How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe," published in Vanity Fair, frames the proposal as a compromise between a full European fiscal integration -- politically unfeasible today -- and a full breakup of the euro, with all the countries going back to their own currencies, which, according to Stiglitz, "could have profoundly negative consequences on many fronts." Euro zone institutions, Stiglitz writes, aren't a total failure but they are insufficient as a basis for a fully fledged single-currency system. The "flexible euro"

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!

When federal and local leaders work together

    During the next several months of the election season, we're likely to hear a lot about what's not working in the federal government. But in fact, much is going right across the country, especially when federal and local leaders work closely together on common goals.

    My organization, the Partnership for Public Service, recently collaborated with more than 20 federal agencies to create a new training program for their employees who work directly with local governments, nonprofits and businesses tackling issues such as economic development, education, transportation and public health.

    At the local level, citizens are directly affected if problems like high crime and school drop-out rates are not addressed. At the federal level, big problems often take time to research, to get appropriate funding and ultimately to implement-though often from a distance and without direct involvement.

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!

Unions could make a comeback - if we help them

    You won't hear opponents admit it, but unions are popular and have been for a while. Last year Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans approved of unions. Since Gallup first asked people about their support for unions in 1936, approval dipped below 50 percent just once - when it dropped to 48 percent at the height of the Great Recession in 2009.

    Anti-union advocates prefer to focus on the long-term decline of union membership in the United States, which can suggest that unions are unnecessary or in an inevitable decline. It is true that union density has shrunk from its peak of 35.4 percent of the workforce in 1945 to 11.1 percent in 2015. But the erosion in union membership is not a natural, pre-ordained outcome - the reality is that intentional policy choices significantly contributed to fewer people becoming union members.

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, Clinton have very different relationships with the truth

    The latest polls from CBS/New York Times and ABC/Washington Post show Hillary Clinton with a secure lead, but they also show that voters believe her to be roughly as honest as reality-show veteran Donald Trump. This has clearly nettled close observers of this presidential race. Over the weekend two prominent columnists have attempted to outline the relationship between the major party nominees and the truth.

    On Sunday, the New York Times' Nick Kristof argued that when comparing Trump and Clinton as liars, Trump wins and it's not close:

    "The idea that they are even in the same league is preposterous. If deception were a sport, Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y. . . .

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!

Thanks, Trump: The Muslim community benefits from an unexpected spotlight

    I, an American Muslim, want to thank Donald Trump.

    I am not one of his supporters. No way, never. He might even think I am one of his many nemeses: Born in Baghdad and brought to this country by my parents in 1964 as they fled the persecution of a military dictatorship, I believe that Islam's place is America. In America, Muslims can practice their religion more freely than any other country in the world, including Muslim countries.

    I am both Muslim and American. I don't have to choose one or the other. Yet many Americans don't understand that.

    It's only starting to make sense to many of my fellow citizens - and for that growing clarity, I have Trump to thank.

    We all agree that we live in dangerous times. Terrorism and xenophobia are fires that exponentially fuel each other. As Americans, we live in the nightmares of what has been happening since 9/11 and what can happen. As American Muslims, we add another layer of fear with the thought of deportation for immigrants and internment camps for the native-born.

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!

In Congress: the Zika Games

    For the purposes of this discussion, let’s think of Congress as a fetid pool of ideologues.

    In frosty February, many weeks before mosquito season, President Obama foresaw an emergency and acted on it. He requested $1.9 billion in funds to combat a disease seen as threatening Americans. Time was on our side.

    Came spring’s thaw, and summer, and, well . . .

    It is now mid-August, and Congress has patty-caked the time away as Zika cases paint a splatter portrait in red, a swarm approaching America from the tropics.

    The problem is that while Republican leaders agreed to budget something -- about half of what Obama requested, $1.1 billion -- they attached riders that they knew Democrats, and the president, would not accept.

    Then they left on summer vacation.

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!

Growth and fairness are not trade-offs

    Issues of inequality, fairness, middle-class living standards and job creation have been central to the U.S. presidential campaign. Rightly so. For many years, the incomes of all groups tended to move together. Indeed, as a graduate student in the late 1970s, I was taught that it was a "stylized fact" that the shares of U.S. total income going to profits and to wages, and to the rich and to the poor, were constant. All of this has changed. It is totally appropriate that widening inequality and the associated stalling of middle-class living standards should become an urgent political issue.

    What is unfortunate is that many, in their eagerness to focus on fairness, neglect the single most important determinant of almost every aspect of economic performance - the rate of growth of total income, as reflected in the gross domestic product. Because those emphasizing strategies that center on business tax-cutting and deregulation, and that favor the wealthy, have placed the most emphasis on growth over the past 35 years, the objective of increasing growth has been discredited in the minds of too many progressives.

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!

Clinton's establishment insurgency

    Hillary Clinton's campaign is not exactly the same thing as Hillary Clinton. The woman herself is a paragon of the establishment, a fixture of the last quarter century of American politics, an insider, familiar both as a political personality and as an experienced purveyor of political goods and services.

    The campaign is that and something more.

    The election of 2008 is viewed as an American watershed, the year the emerging majority of nonwhites first elected one of its own to the presidency. That's basically true. But the context matters. The incumbent party had made such a mess of things that the out-group, led by the most out-candidate in American history, suddenly had an inside track, aided by a financial collapse perfectly timed to benefit the outsider.

    It could have been a fluke. David Dinkins was elected the first black mayor of New York City in 1989. But Dinkins's tenure was widely perceived as a failure. He lost his bid for re-election. New York, unlike the U.S., already has a nonwhite majority. Yet it hasn't elected a nonwhite mayor since Dinkins -- a hiatus of 27 years and counting.

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!