Archive

November 22nd, 2015

War intrudes on politics

    The major terrorist attacks on Paris have cast a particularly dark shadow over the next American presidential campaign. Both parties suddenly find foreign policy crowding out such domestic flashpoints as immigration reform, income inequality and even the bizarre phenomenon of this season's political outsiders.

    The focus for voters is now more than ever on not just the choice of a national leader but also of a new commander-in-chief, as national security at home and abroad is elevated by this latest international atrocity committed by the Islamic State.

    President Obama's measured response to the threat drew more fire after his defense at the 20-nation summit in Turkey Monday, in which he pushed back against demands, particularly among Republican governors, that America close its doors Syrian refugees, the bulk of whom are Muslims.

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!

Threat of terror will make Europe more like post-9/11 U.S.

    The theme of latest issue of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo -- which lost 11 staffers to a terrorist attack last January -- is that the French way of life will endure the most recent wave of terror. Europeans' responses to the new normal of a constant terrorist threat won't, unfortunately, be uniformly blasé.

    On Tuesday, a friendly soccer game between Germany and the Netherlands was canceled in Hanover after police received information that someone was planning to detonate a bomb in the stadium. There were people already in the arena, including legendary former Dutch player Ruud Gullit, and they were told to go home.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel and some cabinet ministers who were also supposed to attend the game -- to show that, despite the Paris attacks, they were not afraid -- were on their way to the stadium when the police got the tip-off, so they were diverted to a safe place. No bomb has been found so far; a package police did find on a train going to the stadium turned out to be a dummy.

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!

They’ve Got the Red Cup Blues

    ‘Tis the season to bicker about Starbucks coffee cups.

    Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like a chill in the air, Christmas songs in every store, and anger about a phony “War on Christmas.” Clearly, love for one another, world peace, and the Christian faith itself all ride on whether a chain that sells overpriced coffee prints an appropriate design on its red cups.

    Honestly, this griping over coffee cups couldn’t be any less in the Christmas spirit than the Grinch himself.

    If you’re living under a rock and haven’t heard yet, Starbucks released a simple red cup as its holiday design this year, with nothing on it besides the company’s green and white logo. A few Christians got steamed because the cups don’t display the reindeer or snowmen they did in previous years.

    Because reindeer and snowmen are sacred religious symbols, of course.

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!

There's More To Defeating Isis Than Blustery Rhetoric

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -- Voltaire

    Years before Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden, this column argued that al-Qaida was capable of "theatrical acts of mass murder," but was not a military threat to the United States.

    The phrase infuriated some readers. Back then tough guys talked about fighting "Islamofascism," supposedly a totalitarian ideology linking bitter enemies such as Iran and al-Qaida (but never Saudi Arabia, where the oil and money are, and where almost all the 9/11 conspirators originated) in an alliance to destroy Western Civilization.

    Nobody says that anymore.

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 unanswered question behind wage inequality

    Why are some publicly traded companies continuing to improve their capital returns while others are disappearing? The answer may help explain -- and ultimately help policy makers address -- increasing wage inequality in the U.S.

    In a recent paper, Jason Furman and I highlighted a significant increase in the variation of capital returns across publicly traded companies. In particular, looking at data from McKinsey & Company on invested capital excluding goodwill for public nonfinancial companies in the U.S., the 90th percentile has risen to an astonishing 100 percent, from about 25 percent 25 years ago. During that same period, the number of domestic companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ fell by more than a quarter. (As of September 2015, the number was down to almost half of its peak in 1996.)

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 Islamic State wants you to reject refugees

    Remember how news photos of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy in September put new pressure on the West to welcome more refugees? That was then.

    Last week's attacks in Paris have sparked the opposite response after a Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the Paris suicide bombers. A shamefully robust chorus of American politicians is falling over themselves to show how hostile they can be to refugees of a war that America played a major role in creating.

    This is especially true of Republican presidential candidates, as the issue quickly took on a sharply partisan divide. The Democratic candidates want to accept at least the 10,000 Syrian refugees that President Barack Obama has announced plans to accept -- which is far fewer than our European allies are taking in.

    The Republicans? Not so much. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order on Monday to block the settlement of any Syrian refugees from the so-called Islamic State's war in Iraq and Syria.

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 great Democratic divide

    Watching the Democratic primary contest can feel like reading a bad murder mystery. You may encounter some plot twists and surprises, but the end seems obvious. The butler did it. Hillary Clinton will win the nomination.

    On a deeper level, though, the contest is more subtle and more interesting -- more Jane Austen than John Grisham. Indeed, dear reader, the day after the Democratic debate, Austen herself was invoked by Princeton philosopher Cornel West, standing in for Bernie Sanders and jabbing at the woman he called "sister Hillary," with her "lip service" to progressive causes.

    "My question for Hillary Clinton is what I would call the Jane Austen challenge," West said. Austen "talked about 'constancy,'" he noted, making what is surely the first reference in the history of the Iowa caucuses to Fanny Price, the prim heroine of "Mansfield Park."

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!

Stop Shopping, Start Living

    Imagine if retailers held a nationwide super-spectacular sales day — and no one came.

    I don’t mean customers. Picture sales staff, cashiers, and even managers not showing up to open the doors for the usual frenzy of mass, crass, crazy consumerism.

    Maybe it’s silly — some would say even un-American — to think that stores wouldn’t open to cash in on a hugely promoted retail bonanza.

    Yet here it is: REI, the national purveyor of outdoor gear and sporting goods, says it will no longer participate in the shopping spectacle known as “Black Friday.” This ritual of non-stop door-buster sales now overwhelms Thanksgiving.

    This holiday is meant to be a calm, family-oriented time to get away from all the hubbub of life and reflect on our blessings. Yet in recent years, such national chains as Macy’s and Wal-Mart have led a corporate assault on Thanksgiving with a buy-buy-buy blitz of consumer come-ons.

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!

Rescued from the Nazis as children, these Jews believe in helping Muslim refugees now

    Our nation of immigrants has been afraid of refugees before.

    Jewish children with no home and, soon, no parents, were not really welcome in the United States during World War II when they were desperate to escape the Nazis.

    "They told the foster mothers not to speak German or Yiddish at all. They wanted us Americanized, they didn't want us to talk to each either," said Herta Baitch, who was just the kind of child refugee that many Americans feared then and fear now.

    This week 27 U.S. governors and Republican presidential candidates lined up to announce their rejection of Muslim refugees from Syria. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R, even insisted that he would not allow a "3-year-old orphan's" entry.

    Baitch was 7 when she arrived in this country - one of about 1,400 lucky children who made it to the United States at a time when we turned away at least one ship filled with hundreds of Jews running for their lives. For Baitch, 83, hearing the harsh tone of today's conversation about refugees hurts.

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!

November 21st

Republicans face a Waterloo on immigration

    The attacks in Paris may not determine how Americans vote in 2016. But their effect is already apparent in the Republican primary, threatening to push the party over the edge on immigration.

    It isn't just the spreading desire to bar Syrian refugees from the U.S. Once the anti-immigrant mindset takes hold -- and its grip on the conservative imagination seems ever tightening - - it can become indiscriminate. It takes work, or a reflexive world view, to connect a jihadist terror attack in Paris with the fate of the largely Hispanic undocumented population in the U.S. As potential sleeper cells go, the estimated 11 million are not only abnormally large but spectacularly sleepy: Most have been in the U.S. for a decade or more.

    But for those looking for new rationales for old policies, logical zigzags and curlicues appear as a straight line. Ann Coulter, the professional antagonist who issues bite-sized sour balls with the dull efficiency of a Pez dispenser, saw the writing on the wall as soon as the blood splattered. She took to Twitter in the wake of the attacks to declare that the terrorists had just delivered the presidency to Donald Trump.

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!