Archive

June 16th, 2016

Stretching justice to defend the death penalty

    A judge shouldn't be allowed to vote in a case involving a capital sentence when he was formerly the prosecutor who sought the death penalty in the same case. That sounds obvious, and the Supreme Court said so on Thursday.

    But three justices dissented, suggesting that the answer might not have been obvious after all. The dissents show how deeply divided the court really is over the death penalty - and how far the conservative justices are prepared to go in its defense.

    The facts of the case go back to 1984, when Terence Williams, who had just turned 18, participated in the beating and murder of Amos Norwood, 56, in Philadelphia. The prosecutor in Williams's case wanted to seek the death penalty, and asked approval from the Philadelphia district attorney, Ronald Castille. Castille approved in 1986, writing on the letter of request, "Approved to proceed on the death penalty."

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!

Assault weapons must be banned

    The only reasonable response to the massacre in Orlando is to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons. All else, I'm afraid, is just noise.

    If this ensconces me in an ideological corner, I'm fine with that. If it insults the Constitution, so be it -- any other response would do far greater harm to our freedoms. Or we could argue for a while and then do nothing. We've tried that course of action many times, and it doesn't work.

    An Islamic State sympathizer was able to go into a gun store days or weeks ago and buy both a pistol and an AR-15-style semiautomatic assault rifle, which he used to kill 49 men and women at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Had he been armed with the pistol alone, he still would have killed people -- but not so many. Keeping military-grade combat weapons out of the hands of maniacs should not be a controversial idea.

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!

Why I light candles after tragedy

    "We want policy change, not prayers." Immediately following the violence in Orlando, my friends' social media posts made their priorities clear. They were unimpressed with the deluge of social media piety following the latest mass shooting.

    As a gay man, I heard their plea: They saw prayer-themed hashtags and photos as nothing more than unwanted folderol.

    But as a Christian, following the horrific news Sunday morning, I did what people of faith do best: I lit candles. A few others sent out tweets, we showed up in Washington's Dupont Circle and we lit more candles.

    Our ordinary religious rituals are a spiritual emergency preparedness plan of sorts. We practice the fire drills so that when the panic of actual smoke and flame overtake us, we will hopefully remember where the exit is - or at least which direction to crawl.

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!

We're out and proud - especially after Orlando.

    I woke up Sunday morning to the horrible, alarmingly common news of an incident of gun violence and terrorism. But this one was different: The shooter's target was the LGBT community. I learned about the incident as I was getting ready to march in Philadelphia's Gay Pride Parade. I never questioned whether I would march, but it took me hours to realize why.

    The thousands of people who gathered for the Philadelphia parade were joyous, not sober, even as news began to stream out: The Orlando shooting left 50 dead, 53 more wounded and was now the worse mass shouting in U.S. history.

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!

Two wins for gun control buck the U.S. legal trend

    Gun-rights advocates have been on a roll, as lower courts building on Supreme Court jurisprudence have subjected gun control laws to heightened scrutiny.

    But last week, the trend stalled. One appeals court upheld laws against carrying concealed guns in two California counties. Another stayed the judgment of a lower court that had struck down Washington, D.C.'s concealed-carry restrictions, signaling it would probably reach a different result. The changed momentum suggests that localities may not lose the ability to regulate concealed handguns - at least for now.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit validated concealed-carry bans in San Diego and Yolo counties. Like many such laws, they require an applicant to show "good cause" to the county sheriff to get permission to carry a concealed handgun.

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 just banned the Washington Post from covering him; that's bad for democracy repeating to correct slug

    Donald Trump announced via Facebook Monday afternoon that he has decided to ban the Washington Post from covering his presidential campaign:

    "Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post."

    Trump expanded on that in a statement released Monday night. Here it is, in full:

    "The Washington Post unfortunately covers Mr. Trump very inaccurately. Today's headline, 'Donald Trump Suggests President Obama Was Involved With Orlando Shooting' is a perfect example. We no longer feel compelled to work with a publication which has put its need for "clicks" above journalistic integrity.

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 bluster about radical Islam helps radical Islam

    If past is prelude, then the massacre in Orlando this weekend will benefit Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency. As the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has boasted, he gained significant support in December when a husband-and-wife Jihadist duo shot up a government building in San Bernardino, California.

    Now Trump is crowing. His tweets and interviews since the shooting are a series of told-ya-so's. He is quite pleased with himself for observing that President Barack Obama doesn't call these mass shootings "radical Islamic terrorism."

    For Trump's supporters, this kind of talk makes their guy appear brave and thoughtful. If we cannot name the enemy, the reasoning goes, then how can we defeat 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!

The Republicans' guide to dumping Trump

    With Dump Trump talk continuing and continuing and continuing, here are common questions about what the Republican National Convention could do in Cleveland next month, and why it probably won't act.

 

    Q: Can the Republicans' convention dump Donald Trump and pick another candidate?

    A: Absolutely. The convention, when it meets, is the formal Republican Party, and can do whatever it wants, including setting and changing the rules as it sees fit.

 

    Q: Trump has more than 1,400 bound delegates and needs only 1,237. So what do rules have to do with 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!

The media isn't going to save the country from Donald Trump - here's why

    As each new day brings yet more evidence of just what a truly awful human being Donald Trump is, some liberals have decided that the fact that Trump still has a reasonable chance of becoming president can only be explained by the failure of the media to do their jobs.

    This belief is both naïve and dangerous, because it misunderstands not only how contemporary media operate, but also fails to reckon with what American voters actually believe.

    Sunday, celebrated filmmaker Ken Burns delivered the commencement address at Stanford University, and in remarks that have since gone viral, he offered an extended critique of Trump, which included this statement about the media and its failures:

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 glaring leadership problem in Donald Trump's tweets after the Orlando massacre

    The backlash following Donald Trump's tweets Sunday after the horrific massacre in Orlando felt, in some ways, familiar. It's now a pattern - a disturbing, unsettling one - that comes after a mass shooting in this country: Tragedy, followed by expressions of thoughts and prayers, followed by debate over what politicians say and how it gets politicized as the country grapples with the human carnage.

    Yet this time, the backlash focused on Trump's willingness to insert himself into the news -- to make even a single moment of the immediate aftermath in the senseless tragedy about himself.

    Not once, but twice, Trump took up the valuable 140 characters of Twitter's real estate to point out that he was right. He said he "appreciate[s] the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism," even if yes, he said he doesn't "want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance." (More on that below.) Hours later, after saying "our leadership is weak and ineffective," he said "I called it and asked for the ban," referring to the ban he has proposed on Muslims from entering the United States.

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!