Archive

September 5th, 2016

A bad ruling for those who want to throttle AT&T

    Ma Bell came back from the grave Monday, saving AT&T from the supervision of the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC had sued the company for intentionally "throttling" the mobile internet for its unlimited data customers when they passed a certain usage. A federal appeals court rejected the suit on the ground that as a common carrier, AT&T is exempt from FTC regulation. The outcome is wrong, the product of a literalist reading of the laws that produces terrible real-world consequences. It should be reversed, by the courts or by Congress.

    AT&T's throttling practice is fairly outrageous. It's the result of the deal AT&T struck in 2007 to be the sole provider of data services for Apple's iPhones. As part of that arrangement, AT&T offered an unlimited data plan that many customers adopted -- I know I did.

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!

Win, Lose, but No Compromise

    Anyone who says it doesn’t matter whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins this election needs their head examined. The damage that Trump could do to our nation with his blend of intellectual laziness, towering policy ignorance and reckless impulsiveness is in a league of its own. Hillary has some real personal ethics issues she needs to confront, but she’s got the chops to be president.

    What interests me most right now, though, is a different question. It’s not, “Who are they — our politicians?” It’s, “Who are we — the voters?”

    To be specific: Are we all just Shiites and Sunnis now?

    More and more of our politics resembles the core sectarian conflict in the Middle East between these two branches of Islam, and that is not good. Because whether you’re talking about Shiites and Sunnis — or Iranians and Saudis, Israelis and Palestinians, Turks and Kurds — a simple binary rule dominates their politics: “I am strong, why should I compromise? I am weak, how can I compromise?”

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!

US taxpayers may pay most of the bill for Apple's $14.5 billion tax judgment

    The European Commission - the European Union's main regulatory body - has hit Apple with a whopping estimated $14.5 billion bill for unpaid taxes. While the commission had been expected to rule against Apple, both Apple and the U.S. government had hoped for a much smaller amount. Here is how it happened - and why U.S. taxpayers may end up having to pay most of the bill.

 

- Apple has taken advantage of creative tax arrangements

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!

Our gawking at Anthony Weiner reveals something ugly about us

    I know, it's tempting. But before we rush to gawk at sexting former congressman Anthony Weiner's latest catastrophic embarrassment, and congratulate ourselves on our superior marriages and social media savvy, we might want to examine our own consciences a little more carefully.

    Our smugness about Weiner proves how quick we are to toss out our objections to invasions of online privacy and pry into other people's marriages when we have the opportunity to polish our self-righteousness and satisfy our own vulgar curiosity.

    Weiner's most recent self-immolation happened just days after hackers launched their latest salvo against "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones. After Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos and denizens of the nastier quarters of the Internet aimed a tidal wave of racist, sexist vitriol at Jones on Twitter -- fueled by fake tweets that Yiannopoulos used to paint her as homophobic -- hackers took over her personal website and posted intimate photos of her, as well as images of her driver's' license and passport.

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!

EU needs a country to claim Apple's taxes

    By ordering Apple to pay $14.5 billion (13 billion euros) in back taxes to Ireland, the European Union has created a somewhat farcical situation. Ireland doesn't want the money, which amounts to more than four months' tax revenue for the small nation, and the U.S., where the iPhone maker is headquartered, is on the tax-avoidant company's side.

    European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager deserves praise, even if her move is underappreciated by its beneficiaries -- and even if she made it for the wrong reasons, trying to establish EU control in an area where it should have none: taxation.

    According to the European Commission ruling, most of the back taxes are owed by a company called Apple Sales International, which sold Apple products outside the Americas. Ireland's Revenue Commission allowed it to allocate the vast majority of its profit not to its Irish operation but to a "head office" that had no employees and conducted no meaningful activities.

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!

Donald Trump’s Tumescent Twin

    It’s rich, as the English would say, that Donald Trump is trying to profit from Anthony Weiner’s latest mortification, because Trump is to his persevering supporters what Weiner was to his long-suffering wife: a scoundrel undeserving of so many second chances; a head case incapable of the redemption that’s supposedly just a few extra measures of discipline away; someone selling himself as a servant of the public although he’s really a slave to his own raging ego and unquenchable needs.

    When Trump looks in the mirror, there’s a whole lot of Weiner staring back at him.

    The details are tawdrier in Weiner’s case, and the stakes far smaller. But both men are creatures of potent want and pure compulsion who lucked into forgiving audiences. Weiner’s finally stopped forgiving: Huma Abedin announced that she was formally separating from him after six years of marriage.

    Trump still has legions by his side. But for how long?

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!

Don't be scared of a health-insurance public option

    One of the big debates in health care right now is whether to create a public option for health insurance. Most observers of President Barack Obama's health-care law agree that the big problem is private insurers pulling out of health-care exchanges. That leaves smaller states with only one or two insurers participating, which kills competition in insurance markets and raises costs. Although there are many intermediate fixes available, some are suggesting bringing back an idea that didn't make it into Obamacare -- a public option, with government selling insurance to anyone who wants to buy it. Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker writes:

    Obamacare could use improvements - and right now, the most critical of them is to add a "public option," available in all parts of the country, that would allow Americans buying coverage through the Obamacare "exchanges" to enroll in a public insurance plan modeled after Medicare. A public option would increase coverage and create greater insurance competition.

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!

Clinton must learn from her mistakes

    Much of the criticism of Hillary Clinton over her emails and her family's foundation is unfairly harsh. But the Clintons themselves invite such scrutiny and suspicion.

    First, the emails. Months of investigation turned up essentially nothing worthy of being called a scandal. Unless you doubt the integrity of FBI director James Comey -- and I don't -- any mishandling of classified information was so minimal that "no reasonable prosecutor" would seek to pursue a case. And the FBI found no evidence, Comey said, that foreign adversaries or anyone else ever hacked their way into Clinton's emails.

     That's the bottom line, no matter what critics might claim. Ordinarily, such findings would put the whole matter to rest. But they didn't, largely because of Clinton's own actions and words.

     As she has acknowledged, she never should have decided to reject an official State Department email account and instead use a personal account on her family's private server. Clinton's explanation that she took this highly unorthodox step for "convenience" is as hollow as they come.

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!

Apple finds out it took the Irish tax game too far

    You want your multinational corporation to be seen as a good corporate citizen. But you also feel obliged to your company's shareholders to keep it from paying a cent more in taxes than it is required to.

    So what's the dividing line beyond which responsible tax management turns into poor citizenship? Well, for the moment it appears to be somewhere between this:

    "Apple set up their sales operations in Europe in such a way that customers were contractually buying products from Apple Sales International in Ireland rather than from the shops that physically sold the products to customers. In this way Apple recorded all sales, and the profits stemming from these sales, directly in Ireland."

    And this:

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 3rd

Protecting gay teens trumps religious rights

    California's ban on gay-conversion therapy for teens survived a free-speech challenge back in 2014. Now it's survived another challenge claiming that the law targets religiously motivated conduct. The decision is legally correct -- but it's a much closer case than the appeals court acknowledged. And it raises the extremely tricky question of how the state may regulate a psychiatric practice whose foundations are interwoven with religious beliefs.

    The key to the free-speech decision from two years ago was that, California isn't prohibiting speech per se. It's outlawing a particular medical practice that happens to be accomplished in part through talking. Whether it's a good idea or not, state legislatures have the legal authority to prohibit licensed providers from performing ineffective and potentially harmful medical treatments.

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!