Archive

November 20th, 2016

The trouble with Trump's infrastructure plan

    During the Obama years, most conservatives were against fiscal stimulus and most liberals were for it. Now that President-elect Donald Trump has proposed a major boost in government spending, many commentators will feel urges to migrate to the opposite positions. In light of this ideological turmoil, we should keep a clear head on when government spending truly stimulates the economy.

    The first principle is not to be fooled by increases in measured gross domestic product. A new Trump stimulus would probably boost GDP, but that doesn't mean it would be working well.

    Measured GDP just doesn't capture the relevant trade-offs for evaluating government spending. For instance, a lot of U.S. workers are producing organizational capital. They work on business plans, building client lists, developing marketing strategies, cultivating customer relations and performing other future-oriented activities common to service-sector enterprises. On any given day, most of us are not churning out additional widgets.

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 heartbreaking letters my immigrant students wrote me about Donald Trump's win

    As I watched the election coverage Tuesday night, the only thing I was thinking was "what am I going to tell my students tomorrow?" I teach government at a high school for recent immigrants. Some of my students are here legally, many as refugees, others are undocumented, and some came without documents and have since been granted asylum.

    I decided to write them a letter to explain how I was feeling. I invited them to respond. Here is an excerpt of the note I gave my class on Wednesday, along with the reflections they shared in response:

    "I know that many, if not all of you, came to this country with hope that our government would protect you from many of the problems in your countries. I feel like my country has let you down. We tell the rest of the world that we are this great place and I feel like many of the lies we tell others are becoming clear. I know that many of you are scared right now. I want you to know that I am scared too.

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 200-year era of 'left' and 'right' is over

    U.S. democracy may be government of the people, by the people, for the people. But who are "We the people"?

    In the United States, every couple of years, one finds out. Elections reveal how the identity of the people - the sovereign person - has changed in body, will, and soul. As with human beings, certain moments in the life of the sovereign being are revealing of its true personality. Donald Trump's victory was one such moment.

    Before the primaries, it was possible to dismiss the electoral relevance of white working-class America, and those left behind by globalization more broadly, and many did: Look no further than the desiccated Washington-consensus platitudes regurgitated by Hillary Clinton and most of the Republican primary candidates.

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!

Stop protesting democracy: Saying #notmypresident is the same as saying #notmyconstitution

    What was lost in the election last week?

    Decency. Humanity. Morality. All the way around.

    From protesters destroying property in Portland, Oregon, to racists destroying a sense of safety in Silver Spring, Maryland, too many people are undermining the foundation of our country in the aftermath of a polarizing election. And our first order of business is to fix it. Because this is about democracy, really.

    Donald Trump is going to be our president. And saying #notmypresident is the same as saying #notmyconstitution or #notmycountry or #notmyAmerica.

    It is our America. All of us.

    Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. A majority of Americans who voted last week - and a totally shameful 43 percent of y'all stayed home, and you better not have been at those protests if you did - voted for her.

    But the same constitution that gives protesters the right to peaceful assembly also created the electoral college that gave Trump the White House.

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 not just Trump. People freaked out over Nixon and Reagan, too.

    Donald Trump's election has been greeted by a considerable portion of the country with panic. Large swaths of commentators have described his victory as a potential disaster for the nation - placing a "xenophobic racist" and "clown" in the Oval Office. One Hillary Clinton supporter outside her hotel in New York the morning after the election said, "I'm feeling physical pain. I'm shocked. I'm sad." Articles with headlines like "Day of Mourning," "An American Tragedy" and "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" have bounced across the Internet. As the New Yorker's David Remnick wrote, "This is surely the way fascism can begin."

    At times like these, it helps to look to our past for perspective. And the truth is that we've been here before, many times, throughout the 19th century and in living memory.

    In 1968 and 1980, the same liberal, educated and urban swaths of the country voiced similar fear and despair about the outcome - a sense that the nation as they knew it could not survive. And yet here we are, decades later, still enamored with the republic they were sure was doomed.

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!

Giuliani explains why Trump can't do a real blind trust: It 'would basically put his children out of work'

    Good-government types were already crying foul over Donald Trump's intention to put his children in charge of his business during his presidency. And now that those same children are on Trump's transition team, these groups are even more concerned about conflicts of interest.

    Trump loyalist Rudolph Giuliani seemed to acknowledge in a CNN interview Sunday that it wasn't an ideal set-up. But then he offered a remarkable defense. "He would basically put his children out of work if - and they'd have to go start a whole new business, and that would set up the whole - set up new problems," Giuliani said on "State of the Union."

    Giuliani added: "It's kind of unrealistic to say you're going to take the business away from the three people who are running it and give it to some independent person. And remember, they can't work in the government because of the government rule against nepotism. So you would be putting them out of work."

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 may have lost, but women still won

    There will be the temptation to see Hillary Clinton's defeat as evidence that a woman can't rise to the top. If we're not careful, the dominant gender will whisper in the backroom, let's not nominate one of them again.

    But it will happen, nonetheless -- and thanks to Clinton. Just seeing her win her party's nomination and triumph in three debates has ingrained the idea that a female president is inevitable. Multiple female candidates will stand upon Clinton's shoulders as she stood on others'. In her memoir "Hard Choices," she wrote that the venerable Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith's challenge to Barry Goldwater for her party's nomination in 1964 inspired her to run for class president. They both lost and they both soldiered on.

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!

As a sheriff, I know that jail is not always the answer

    When a Charleston, South Carolina, patrol officer stopped a young mother outside Walmart after store officials reported that she was shoplifting groceries, her first thought was of her children. Who would watch them if she were arrested? She could not afford the food she had taken for her family - let alone a babysitter, an attorney or bail.

    As the sheriff for Charleston County, I know that if the encounter had taken place a few years ago, she would likely have gone to jail, sending her and her children's lives into an economic and emotional tailspin. In the past, law-enforcement officers had no alternatives to taking someone to jail for nonviolent offenses such as shoplifting. Fortunately, that was not true in her case.

    Instead, the officer employed a new approach called "cite and release." Rather than jailing the woman for a low-level, nonviolent offense, the officer gave her a citation for shoplifting, instructed her to appear in court at a later date and let her go. She returned home to her children that day instead of spending weeks in jail awaiting trial at no benefit to public safety and to the detriment of her family.

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!

Actually, Democrats, you don't need those white men

    The Republican Party kept telling Donald Trump that he needed to win over demographic groups outside the conservative base, like Hispanics. He didn't. He won anyway.

    Well, Democrats, take heart. You, too, can ignore well-meaning advice from your allies. Disregard anyone who tells you to reach beyond your base. You don't need working-class white men. You already have the constituencies that you need.

    As analysts continue to crunch the numbers on how Trump won, the key demographic that represented his path to victory was rural counties in the Midwest. Hillary Clinton mostly held on to the large urban counties that voted for President Barack Obama, but she got routed in midsize cities and rural areas. Essentially, Trump got the rural Midwest to vote like the rural South, a trend in motion for the past few elections as states like West Virginia, Indiana and Missouri trended red. Despite this, the election was close, coming down to 100,000 voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Everything broke right for Trump -- at least in the Electoral College. He lost the popular vote.

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!

I wish President Trump failure

    The people chose Hillary Clinton. But it's the electoral vote that counts, not the popular vote, so Donald Trump will be president. And no, I'm not over it.

    No one should be over it. No one should pretend that Trump will be a normal president. No one should forget the bigotry and racism of his campaign, the naked appeals to white grievance, the stigmatizing of Mexicans and Muslims. No one should forget the jaw-dropping ignorance he showed about government policy both foreign and domestic. No one should forget the vile misogyny. No one should forget the mendacity, the vulgarity, the ugliness, the insanity. None of this must ever be normalized in our politics.

    The big protests that have followed Trump's election should be no surprise. You can't spend all those months trashing our nation's values and then expect everyone to join you in a group hug. Trump made the bed in which he now must lie.

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!