Archive

January 10th, 2017

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!

Holiday sales expose losers in changing market

    Another holiday shopping season has passed, and though the rapid growth of online spending has been a well-told story for a number of years now, it's worth highlighting the latest developments and what they mean for investors.

    Internet sales rose an estimated 15 percent, to 19 percent, from a year earlier, while those at traditional stores fell 10 percent as the number of shopper visits plunged 15 percent. The appeal of online shopping is only getting stronger as people who came of age using computers and smart phones become a bigger factor in consumer spending.

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!

January 9th

Ford's bow to Trump benefits robots, not workers

    Ford's decision this week to scrap a $1.6 billion investment in Mexico, following criticism from Donald Trump, shows government intervention can be "good for industry and it's good for employment," according to French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. As far as the workers in this particular case are concerned, the numbers suggest otherwise.

    The U.S. automaker says abandoning its Mexico plan and instead spending $700 million to expand its domestic operations in Michigan will create just 700 jobs. Even I can work out that's $1 million per new employee hired.

    Amid the ongoing debate about whether robots are poised to steal everyone's jobs, that feels like a chillingly low number of new hires for an investment of that scale. And while automation may be particularly suited to replacing human hands for bashing, bending, welding and painting metal to make cars, the acceleration in the production of industrial robots in recent years suggests it's not just workers in car factories who should fear the rise of the robots.

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!

What the strong Obama jobs recovery shows

    On Jan. 6, the Labor Department will release the final monthly employment report of what has been an historic eight-year run of jobs growth during the Barack Obama administration, This period confirmed some of our beliefs about the economy but also exposed the limitations of our understanding of a structurally changing employment situation.

    Here are three main takeaways from this period, along with the implications for the short and longer term.

 

    -- The U.S. economy can lose lots of jobs very quickly.

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 West's biggest problem is dwindling trust

    Many Americans gasp when they see Donald Trump mockingly put the word "intelligence" in quotes when referring to the U.S. intelligence community; it seems heretical to challenge the wisdom and expertise of institutions charged with safeguarding their security and freedoms. As a Russian, I just shrug: I have never believed a word coming from my country's intelligence services. This cultural gap is shrinking, though. Western societies are turning into low-trust ones, after the post-Communist, Eastern European model.

    Two decades ago, Francis Fukuyama, the man who also blithely declared that history was ending and a liberal democratic paradise was at hand, connected trust with prosperity. He argued that societies with more trust among their members, such as the U.S., Japan and Germany, did better than those with a smaller radius of trust that rarely goes far beyond the family, such as China, Italy, France or Korea. Economic evidence hasn't quite borne that out, but at least it can be said that a more trustful society is more comfortable to live in, primarily because you don't have to jump through hoops to prove the purity of your intentions.

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 and the ratings presidency

    On Friday morning, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted.

    The first one went like this: "Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got 'swamped' (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for ..."

    It was quickly followed by this: "Being a movie star-and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1. But who cares, he supported Kasich & Hillary."

    The reaction was utterly predictable. Democrats - and even some Republicans - wondered why Trump was fixated on the ratings for "The Celebrity Apprentice" on the day that he was set to receive a briefing from intelligence officials about the depth and breadth of Russian hacking during the 2016 election. It was the height of irresponsibility, they tweeted!

    Here's the thing: We know - or should know - by now that this is a feature, not a glitch, of Trump's personality. In fact, the tweets above provide a nice window into understanding how he thinks about himself, his looming presidency and the world.

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 GOP Health Care Hoax

    This week, President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans began to dismantle Obamacare, and here are the details of their replacement plan:

    —— —- —- —- - —— —- —— —- - —- —- — —— —- —— —- —- —- — — - - - - —— —- —- —— —- —- —- - —— —- —— —- - —- —- — —— —- - —- —- — - —- —- — —— —- - —-

    That captures the nonexistent Republican plan to replace Obamacare. They’re telling Americans who feel trapped by health care problems: “Jump! Maybe we’ll catch you.”

    This GOP fraud is called “repeal and delay.” That means repealing the Affordable Care Act, effective in a few years without specifying what will replace 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!