Archive

January 10th, 2017

Ethics Are Not Questionable

    What is so difficult to understand about ethics? True, sometimes a greater good may outweigh another; nevertheless it is still within the realm of doing what is right, as in correct, not political!

    Confirming our worst fears about the Republican Congress, the first action initiated was the elimination of the supposedly independent Office of Congressional Ethics. It was such a bad move that the President-Elect - in a tweet - stepped in to push that one aside. Needless to say if the folks we elected were imbued with more morals such an agency would not be needed; however, there is ample evidence that it is necessary. Let us hope that it will be allowed to function as needed.

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!

Will Trump let Obama go quietly?

    Will Donald Trump deprive President Obama of what we have come to think of as a normal post-presidency, the relatively serene life of reflection, writing, philanthropy and high-minded speeches to friendly audiences?

    In recent decades, we have become accustomed to the idea of ex-presidents who leave political combat behind. They might occasionally speak out on behalf of their party: Bill Clinton was an effective "explainer in chief" for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. But with some exceptions (Jimmy Carter on the Middle East comes to mind), they usually avoided trying to influence policy. In their above-the-fray roles, former commanders in chief sometimes improved their standing in the polls. George W. Bush is a prominent example of the less controversy/more affection dynamic.

    But former presidents have not always pulled back from politics. John Quincy Adams had the most unusual post-White House career. Two years after leaving the presidency, he embarked on a nearly 17-year stint in the House of Representatives where he was one of the country's most eloquent agitators against slavery and for Indian rights.

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!

Virginia's 'Minister of Private Parts' deserves scorn for dreadful transgender bathroom bill

    Apparently, Virginia has its very own Minister of Private Parts.

    His name is Del. Robert G. Marshall, a Republican who represents Prince William County, and the residents of his district keep electing him to keep talking about other people's nether-regions.

    I'm not exaggerating here.

    Marshall's legislative record reads like a conversation between my 10-year-old son and his friends. It's all potty this and p---y that. (Okay, my 10-year-old doesn't say p---y, but the president-elect does.)

    It's hard to believe Marshall is a 72-year-old man. He has devoted much of his public life to people's sexual and reproductive behavior, questioning the intelligence of women who use long-term contraception, arguing that some incest is voluntary, pushing for women to be legally required to have trans-vaginal ultrasounds before abortions, worrying that U.S. troops would catch sexually transmitted diseases if they had to serve alongside gay colleagues, calling porn a public health hazard.

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 reverse 'Atlas Shrugged' scenario

    Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" is a very long novel that is beloved by many 18- to 24-year-olds and a few elected officials. It does not contain the most believable dialogue in the world (I actually laughed out loud when I first read the morning-after conversation between Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden). But the book remains extremely popular, and it is worth remembering why. In June I wrote:

    "Railing against the establishment will always work for the same reason that Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' will always resonate with a fraction of the population. Rand has one and only one gift as a writer. She is able to divide the world into two categories of human beings: creators and moochers. And no one in history reads Rand and thinks, 'I want to be a moocher!' It is easy for even government officials to self-identify as creators of pyramids of greatness rather than as looters of the system."

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 herding of US businesses

    John Maynard Keynes wrote that gut feelings - or "animal spirits," as he called them - were often more important to investment decisions than a "mathematical expectation."

    President-elect Donald Trump, too, understands animal spirits. It's just that the animal he has in mind is a sheep.

    Or so it seems from the way he is forcefully herding American automakers back across the U.S.-Mexico border, like so many wayward ovines - with Twitter as his digital crook.

    And if the companies' response to this blatant political strong-arming of their supposedly free enterprises is any indication, Trump has read Detroit right.

    Ford announced Monday that it will not be building a planned $1.6 billion small-car plant in Mexico, which Trump had condemned as a betrayal of U.S. workers. Explaining the capitulation on CNBC, Ford chief executive Mark Fields acknowledged his duty to shareholders, but added, "We have to make sure, at the same time, that we have good relations with the various governments that are in power."

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 Age of Fake Policy

    On Thursday, at a rough estimate, 75,000 Americans were laid off or fired by their employers. Some of those workers will find good new jobs, but many will end up earning less, and some will remain unemployed for months or years.

    If that sounds terrible to you, and you’re asking what economic catastrophe just happened, the answer is, none. In fact, I’m just assuming that Thursday was a normal day in the job market.

    The U.S. economy is, after all, huge, employing 145 million people. It’s also ever-changing: Industries and companies rise and fall, and there are always losers as well as winners. The result is constant “churn,” with many jobs disappearing even as still more new jobs are created. In an average month, there are 1.5 million “involuntary” job separations (as opposed to voluntary quits), or 75,000 per working day. Hence my number.

    But why am I telling you this? To highlight the difference between real economic policy and the fake policy that has lately been taking up far too much attention in the news media.

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 can't get rid of watchdogs in the press

    The stealth Republican move Monday night to weaken the ethics oversight office in the House of Representatives is a good reminder that the U.S. Constitution provides only limited protections when a single party rules. But the swift rollback of the plan on Tuesday is also a good reminder that the Constitution does have an oversight mechanism built in: the press. When one party controls the legislature and presidency, the "Fourth Estate" isn't just a metaphor. It's a necessity for functioning free government.

    The Office of Congressional Ethics wouldn't be anomalous in northern Europe, where many countries have independent ombudsman offices that oversee government ethics. But it's a fairly unusual entity in U.S. terms. It was created in 2008, not by a law requiring a presidential signature, but in a resolution passed by the House itself, under Democratic leadership.

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 can pretend to repeal Obamacare

    The Republicans may have a way out of their "repeal and replace" Obamacare position, which is proving a lot more difficult than they realized. The catch is that their alternative may be even more phony.

    It could phonier than the "repeal and rename" strategy I anticipated. For years, I've said that Republicans could simply rename the Affordable Care Act and its various components -- so we might have, for example, "Ronald Reagan Freedom Insurance Choices" instead of the current Obamacare marketplaces.

    The reasoning is that while Republicans have hated "Obamacare" as a symbol of the president they can't stand, few of them are particularly upset about the law itself. It's true that a relatively small group of principled libertarian-leaning conservatives don't want government to have anything to do with health care.

    But most Republican politicians and activists have other priorities -- fighting legal abortion for social conservatives, protecting U.S. interests for foreign-policy conservatives, lowering taxes for economic conservatives.

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!

It takes a crackup to help parties recover

    Democrats are down and out. How can they recover? History provides models for political-party comebacks with one thing in common: serious schisms on the other side.

    Over the past half century, major U.S. parties have been in comparable positions three times. Republicans were dispirited following Barry Goldwater's debacle in 1964 and again after the 1974 Watergate scandal and loss of the presidency two years later. Democrats were floundering after two Ronald Reagan sweeps and then George H.W. Bush's win in the 1988 presidential contest.

    Each time, the party in exile recovered and won the White House aided by divisions leading to primary challenges to incumbent presidents.

    This doesn't mean Democrats can sit back and count on a breakup between President Donald Trump and other Republicans. That's never a good strategy. They need to develop more ideas and policies that appeal to working-class voters, rebuild a political infrastructure that has frayed over the past four years and especially to bolster their standing at the state level, where Republicans dominate even more than in 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!

How to survive Donald Trump?

    As they say, "out of the mouths of babes oft times come gems." The last night of my holiday vacation, my 6-year-old grandson, Django, popped the question almost everybody in the country's asking themselves today.

    "Granddad," he said, "my teacher wanted me to ask you a question: How are we going to survive Donald Trump?"

    "There's only one way," I told him. "We're going to fight back! And we're going to stop Donald Trump from doing bad things."

    Fight back! That must be the battle cry of every Democrat, and every level-headed person, on every front: members of Congress, governors and state legislators, the Democratic Party, political activists and organizations, and all Americans who fear the Trump agenda.

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!