Archive

October 1st, 2016

Progressive Family Values

    Here’s what happens every election cycle: pundits demand that politicians offer the country new ideas. Then, if and when a candidate actually does propose innovative policies, the news media pays little attention, chasing scandals or, all too often, fake scandals instead. Remember the extensive coverage last month, when Hillary Clinton laid out an ambitious mental health agenda? Neither do I.

    For that matter, even the demand for new ideas is highly questionable, since there are plenty of good old ideas that haven’t been put into effect. Most advanced countries implemented some form of guaranteed health coverage decades if not generations ago. Does this mean that we should dismiss Obamacare as no big deal, since it’s just implementing a tired old agenda? The 20 million Americans who gained health coverage would beg to differ.

    Still, there really are some interesting new ideas coming from one of the campaigns, and they arguably tell us a lot about how Clinton would govern.

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!

Police Violence: American Epidemic, American Consent

    Another set of black men killed by the police — one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, another in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Another set of protests, and even some rioting.

    Another television cycle in which the pornography of black death, pain and anguish are exploited for visual sensation and ratings gold.

    And yes, another moment of mistakenly focusing on individual cases and individual motives and individual protests instead of recognizing that what we are witnessing in a wave of actions rippling across the country is an exhaling — a primal scream, I would venture — of cumulative cultural injury and a frantic attempt to stanch the bleeding from multiplying wounds.

    We can no longer afford to buy into the delusion that this moment of turmoil is about discrete cases or their specific disposition under the law. The system of justice itself is under interrogation. The cultural mechanisms that produced that system are under interrogation. America as a whole is under interrogation.

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!

September 29th

Readers Want News Not Fluff

    The New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch tabloid publication that isn’t likely to win a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon, splashed a full page picture of a smiling Jennifer Anniston on its Sept. 21 front cover. In the upper left-hand space it placed all-capitals text: “BRANGELINA 2004–2016.” Inside the Post were four full consecutive pages, and a half page and part of a column deeper in the newspaper, all devoted to one of the most critical social issues facing the country—Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are getting a divorce.

    People magazine put the multi-million dollar couple on its cover, and teased us with the text: “WHY SHE LEFT” and “THE REAL STORY.” US magazine had an “EXCLUSIVE.” ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, and NBC evening newscasts all devoted air time to the divorce. “Entertainment Tonight,” “TMZ,” dozens of entertainment-fueled TV programs, Reuters and AP news services, hundreds of daily newspapers and countless online blogs all had coverage of the epic event. The news also dominated the social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.

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!

Mass deportations are inherently dangerous

    We've hit the home stretch of the election. The time has come to get serious, really serious, about understanding what's at stake with Donald Trump's proposal to deport 5 million to 11 million undocumented immigrants and his promise that 2 million will be deported in "a matter of months" if he is elected.

    In May, former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff told the New York Times: "I can't even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don't have a police state, where the police can't break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant." He also said, "Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain't happening."

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's time to kill the 9-to-5 workday

    Jessica Piha gets to work whenever she wants and leaves whenever she wants-really.

    "There's really no set schedule," said Piha, the director of communications at home-improvement startup Porch, which lets its employees work flexible schedules. Piha likes to get in "super early" and leave at 3 p.m. for a workout class.

    "I just like to be able to do my work when it needs to be done," she said. "I will never not hit deadlines and deliver."

    That's how it should be for all of us whose jobs aren't shift-based-that is, for the 42 percent of the workforce who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, don't work hourly wage jobs. We should decide how and when to get our work done-yet so many of us are stuck on the clock.

    "Our culture in the U.S. is rooted what I call an hours mentality," said Carol Sladek, a partner at the human resource consulting firm Aon-Hewitt. "And by that I mean scheduling-really driven by shift work-that doesn't make sense in most of our service-based industries."

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 praise of good government geeks

    Especially in an election year, federal employees make a tempting target. They are, in the popular imagining, entitled and entrenched, unresponsive to the public for whom they work and uninterested in anything but collecting a paycheck and a cushy pension. You never hear the phrase "bureaucrats in Washington" in a sentence that ends on a positive note.

    The antidote to this unwarranted and corrosive derision arrives every year in the form of the Partnership for Public Service and its Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. Better known as the Sammies, the awards recognize the best of America's public servants -- people you've never heard of, who never expected you'd hear of them, but who work long hours for less pay than they could receive in the private sector, to make this a better country and to keep its citizens healthier, safer and more prosperous.

    They tend -- sorry folks -- to be more than a bit nerdy and even more obsessive. The Sammies are Oscars for good government geeks.

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!

September 28th

How 'if you see something, say something' became our national motto

    This past week, Harry Bains became something of an American hero when he, in his words, "saw something and said something." The New Jersey bar owner spotted Ahmad Khan Rahami, the alleged terrorist charged with littering bombs across New York and New Jersey, sleeping in the doorway of his business. He immediately called the cops.

    "If you see something, say something" has become the unofficial slogan of post-9/11 America. The mantra, posted on billboards and public transportation, turns us all into amateur anti-terrorism crusaders. Any of us, it suggests, could foil the next Osama bin Laden, as long as we stay alert.

    That's not always a good thing. The expression makes us vigilant, but it also makes us paranoid. It's turned us into a country of people who see danger lurking inside every forgotten backpack, making an incredibly remote risk feel imminent. Americans shouldn't be encouraged to live in unreasonable fear.

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 Obama reduced the income gap

    Everyone talks about income inequality these days. President Barack Obama has actually done something about it.

    In terms of the talk, the broad outlines of the story are familiar: In 1979, the top 1 percent of U.S. families received 7 percent of all after-tax income. By 2007, that share had more than doubled to nearly 17 percent. The falling share of income going to everybody else, together with slower productivity, led to disappointing income growth for working- and middle-class families.

    The Obama administration's success in undoing some of this inequality, although reflected in the recent, welcome census report, is less well-known. Most notably, tax changes enacted during this administration have increased the share of income going to the bottom 99 percent of families by more than the tax changes in any administration since at least 1960.

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 Cover a Charlatan Like Trump

    With presidential debates approaching, we in journalism are locked in a fierce dispute: How should we report on a duplicitous demagogue?

    Traditionally, U.S. reporters respond to a controversy by quoting people on each side and letting the public decide. Some of us have argued that this approach hasn’t worked in this election cycle and that we in the media (particularly some in cable television) have enabled a charlatan by handing him the microphone and not adequately fact-checking what he says.

    If a known con artist peddles a potion that he claims will make people lose 25 pounds and enjoy a better sex life, we don’t just quote the man and a critic; we find ways to signal to readers that he’s a fraud. Why should it be different when the con man runs for president?

    Frankly, we should be discomfited that many Americans have absorbed the idea that Hillary Clinton is less honest than Donald Trump, giving Trump an edge in polls of trustworthiness.

    Hello? There is no comparison.

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 D.C. sidewalk tour of slavery and the black struggle

    This weekend, Washington is the place to be - to see and be seen - at the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Twenty-five years from now, there will be no African American in the United States who was not in this city on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. Just as 53 years after the event, there are no African Americans who did not participate in the 1963 March on Washington. And, yes, there is no adult African-American male alive who was not on hand for the Million Man March in 1995.

    Of such stuff history, legacy and myth are made.

    There are, to be sure, other galleries with exhibitions, programs and collections that document African-American life, history and culture. But the African American Museum's opening will go down as a seminal moment, not only for its more than 100-year journey to the historic Mall but also for its achievements in architectural building design, collections and artful presentations.

    The story of slavery and freedom told so movingly inside the museum, however, is also a painful and shameful narrative heard beyond the building's grounds.

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!