Archive

November 13th, 2015

Supreme Court shields police from facing juries

    In the post-Ferguson era, the details of a police shooting that kills a fleeing defendant are all- important -- and you might think we would want juries, not judges, to consider them.

    But on Monday, eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court made it harder for police shooting cases to reach a jury. The court held that a Texas state trooper couldn't be sued for using his rifle to shoot the driver of a car that led police on an 18- minute chase. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who's emerging as the court's conscience on race, thought the suit should be able to go forward.

    The facts of the case are striking, and to a degree disputed. A police officer in Tulia, Texas, approached Israel Leija Jr., who was in his car, and told him he had a warrant for his arrest. Leija immediately sped off with the police in tow. In the chase he brought his car to speeds of between 85 and 110 mph.

    While he was driving, Leija called the Tulia police dispatcher twice, claiming to have a gun he would use to shoot the police officers. The dispatcher, who told the police in pursuit, thought Leija might be drunk.

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!

Jeb's Last Chance?

    Going into the latest debate, the trending question about Jeb Bush on Google was whether he was “still running for president.”

    The answer is yes, and on Tuesday night, he tried, yet again, to put an exclamation point on it.

    After a week of fresh attention to the rococo psychology of the Bush dynasty, after huddles with new media advisers, after countless requiems for his campaign, Bush gave this troubled, increasingly quixotic quest of his one more shot, maybe his last.

    He insisted on speaking time.

    He sarcastically expressed gratitude to Donald Trump for saying that he should get some.

    “Thank you, Donald, for allowing me to speak at the debate,” Bush said, and for perhaps the first time in one of these debates, he didn’t sound entirely self-pitying. He sounded nervy. “What a generous man you are,” he told 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!

It's hard to pay your lawyer without any money

    If you're arrested and charged with a white-collar crime, can the government freeze the assets you need to pay for a lawyer to prove your innocence? Remarkably, there's no definitive legal answer to this question, which was on the Supreme Court's docket Tuesday. It's established that the government can freeze tainted assets that it traces to your alleged crime, and that you don't get to challenge that determination. But Tuesday's case will answer the further question of whether the government can freeze any of your assets up to the value of what it says you stole -- not just assets it identifies as tainted proceeds.

    The case involves Sila Luis, a Miami home-care provider with two companies. In 2012, she was charged with Medicare fraud that the government says amounted to $45 million. According to Luis, the government wasn't her only source of revenue; she says her companies earned some $15 million from private sources.

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!

Energy Beggars No More, We Can Be Choosy

    The Obama administration has finally passed judgment on the Keystone XL pipeline, and it's a thumbs-down. The environmental arguments against it have always been impeccable. But it took America's turn toward energy independence to cut down the economic case for it.

    Americans still need oil, but we can choose to reject the dirtiest kind. A 1,179-mile pipeline was to carry crude from the tar sands in Alberta to a pumping station in Nebraska, with a separate expansion to the Gulf Coast. Tar sands oil generates 17 percent more planet-warming gases than conventional oil.

    In the days of heavy reliance on Mideast oil, opposing any dependable new source of oil, above all from friendly Canada, posed political risk. But boy, have things changed. New technologies have enabled us to get at large stores of domestic oil and gas. And we're developing ways to harvest clean energy.

    Texas has so much wind power now that some utilities are giving away electricity at night. Why on earth should the U.S. be enabling the transport of tar sands gook from the bottom of the environmental oil barrel?

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!

Ben Carson's own weapon of mass distraction

    Ben Carson's woe-is-me whining about media scrutiny is more than just a sorry spectacle. It shows the extent to which a culture of victimization has infected the conservative movement.

    "There's no question I'm getting special scrutiny, because there are lot of people who are very threatened," Carson said in a "Face the Nation" interview Sunday. "The whole point is to distract, distract the populace, distract me."

    That's rich, given how Carson's own mouth has proved to be such a powerful weapon of mass distraction. His "personal theory" that the pyramids of Egypt were built by the biblical patriarch Joseph as grain silos -- rather than by Egyptians as pharaonic tombs -- is but one example.

     The retired neurosurgeon and novice politician, one of the leaders in the GOP presidential race, is aggrieved that journalists are looking into his background. Was he really "offered a full scholarship" to West Point, as he has claimed? Not exactly, it turns out. Was he really as much of a juvenile delinquent as he says? Maybe yes, maybe no.

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 phony 'War on Christmas' is back, fueled by those alleged Jesus haters at Starbucks

    Like everything connected to Christmas, this year's "War on Christmas" freakout has arrived early. And it has taken the form of a red Starbucks cup.

    Never mind that stores across America are already playing Christmas carols.

    Forget that Wal-Mart started its holiday layaway plan in August, and Target rolled out the Christmas trees alongside Halloween decorations in September.

    And let's pretend that radio stations across the country aren't getting angry calls about Mariah Carey's Christmas list hitting the airwaves the first week of October.

    Nope. The Christmas crusaders are certain that the War on Christmas is on yet again.

    It's totally obvious because Starbucks is serving pumpkin spice lattes and caramel macchiatos in plain red cups this holiday season. (Oops. Did I say "holiday"?)

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!

No more questions for the GOP field

    "Welcome to absolutely the very last Republican presidential debate. We promise. I’m your moderator, Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

    “Because the candidates have complained about their treatment by the media, each questioner on our panel has been selected by an individual candidate based on mutual affection and nothing more.

    “Though we are here at Fox News headquarters, pursuant to agreed-upon rules, Megyn Kelley is nowhere in the building. So let’s begin.

    “Our first question-answer team is -- Ben Carson and Glenn Beck!”

    Beck: “Dr. Carson, you are a truth-teller, man of great faith, a man of great intellect. When you say that a 10 percent to 15 percent flat tax would not explode the federal deficit as the Tax Foundation asserts, but that instead it will dynamically, indeed, miraculously, generate enough revenue to wipe out the deficit, I believe you. I really, really believe you.”

    Carson:  “Thank you, Glenn.”

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!

Minimum wages are great, except when they're not

    Debate about the minimum wage is often too simplistic. It's usually just about whether minimum wages are good or bad -- as if the answer would be the same across all of time and space. In reality, the answer should be a nuanced one. Obviously, if we raised minimum wages to $400 an hour, the economy would collapse. Minimum wages that are fine in one area will cost lots of jobs in places where prices overall are lower. Minimum wages will tend to help certain groups and hurt others. The list of qualifications and caveats goes on and on, but is typically drowned out in the partisan shouting.

    I'd like to add one more caveat to the list. Minimum wages may be perfectly fine when the economy is doing well, but be a drag in times of recession. That could bias us toward thinking that minimum wages are good, if our studies of their effects are limited to prosperous times.

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!

Diseases are bad, but that can be good politics

    Did you catch that line from Mike Huckabee during the last Republican presidential debate in which he calls for a declaration of war on four major diseases?

    "I really believe that the next president ought to declare a war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's," he said, "because those are the four things that are causing the greatest level of cost."

    Until he repeated it a few minutes later, I didn't take much notice. But it turns out he's not alone. A "cures caucus" is building within Republican ranks.

    Ted Cruz, for example, is urging the United States to intensify its focus on deadly diseases. He was chairman of a July hearing on the subject and wrote a recent op-ed about it.

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!

Arne Duncan's high hopes for U.S. universities

    U.S. higher education is the envy of the world, with the most renowned universities attracting young men and women from around the globe.

    As Americans consider college possibilities, the choices are terrific: large and small, public and private, in every region, along with a robust community-college system that is a gateway for many immigrants and for training older workers.

    Yet higher education faces severe problems. It is unaffordable for many, creating a $1.3 trillion mountain of student debt. About half of students graduate. Politics and budget squeezes affect great public institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Few people have thought more about this than Arne Duncan, who will step down as education secretary in December after seven years on the job.

    "We have the best system of higher education in the world," he said in an interview, "but have real and serious challenges."

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!