Archive

April 5th, 2016

Five myths about bicycling

    Each year, 100 million Americans jump on a bicycle at least once, especially when the weather gets warm. Some of these pedalers are recreational riders; others rely on their bikes for transportation to and from work. In the past few years, cities have rushed to accommodate such travelers: Scores of bike lanes and bike-share programs have popped up. But there are still a lot of misconceptions about getting around on two wheels. As the number of cyclists rises, it's important to keep in mind some truths about who they are, how they behave and what impact they have on the space around us.

    1. Mandating helmet use is the best way to keep riders safe.

    There's no doubt about it: Helmets save lives. Studies show they reduce the risk of cyclist head injury by 85 percent. Recently, bike advocates such as Greg Kaplan have argued that riding without a helmet should be illegal. "Wearing a helmet while riding a bike is analogous to wearing a seatbelt while driving," he wrote in Bicycling magazine.

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!

Docs vs. Glocks: If you own a gun, tell your kid's doctor

    'Do you have guns in the home?" It's a standard question pediatricians ask patients and their parents, an entry into a conversation about storage and safety.

    "Of course not - we don't believe in that," answered one mother who came to our practice with her 7-year-old.

    Her son looked up from his iPad and grinned. "But Bobby's dad has a really cool gun! Bobby showed it to me last week."

    "What do you mean?" his mother asked. "A toy gun?"

    "No, a real one!" he boasted, before returning to his game. His mother sat in wide-eyed silence.

    When a Florida pediatrician asked the same question - "Do you have guns in the home?" - during a checkup in 2010, the reply from a mother of three was sharp: None of your business. She objected to the query as "very invasive," complaining to her local newspaper, "Whether I have a gun has nothing to do with the health of my child."

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!

Unseemly campaign uncorks a geyser of anti-Obama hate

    The most popular license in America now?

    A license to hate.

    And one of the most popular targets is President Obama.

    It's no secret that America's first family has received an unprecedented number of threats over the past seven years.

    But the fever pitch of hate and bile directed toward the president and his family have taken an even sharper tone thanks to the primordial swamp that is the current presidential campaign.

    It's impossible to utter a single word about the White House, the first family or the president without a blast from the fire hose of haterade.

    I can see it in my email inbox.

    A column about the White House Easter Egg Roll?

    "Go back to Kenya," a reader (one of scores who said such things) spat in response.

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 Felons Among Us

    The United States today is home to two huge but essentially invisible populations. Each of them is widely stigmatized and largely composed of people living in the shadows. The government does not know who they are, where they are or how well they are doing.

    The first of these invisible tribes - illegal immigrants - at least has attracted more than passing comment in politics. By contrast, America's second invisible caste is almost never mentioned. Yet this group is far larger than the unauthorized immigrant population, and it is made up almost entirely of U.S. citizens.

    I refer to our vast underground army of released felons - adult men and women convicted of serious criminal offenses for which they have been punished with prison time or probation, and who now form part of the general population. So hidden from public sight is this vast army, indeed, that many Americans are unaware of its existence.

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!

Political prisoners are not props

    I am writing this letter from jail in Baku, Azerbaijan, where I'm serving a 7½-year sentence for a crime I never committed.

    I am a journalist and my only "crime" was to investigate high-level corruption within the government and family of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Aliyev inherited power from his father in 2003 and changed the constitution in 2009 so he could stay in power indefinitely. He has been called an enemy of the press by international watchdogs, while abusing other fundamental freedoms and violating people's right to truth and decency.

    Aliyev is in Washington this week to attend the Nuclear Security Summit that began Thursday. To get an invitation to this event from President Obama, he had to pardon several political prisoners. Although they have been released from jail, they remain confined within the country, barred from leaving, and justice has not been restored.

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!

Learning From Obama

    Like many political junkies, I’ve been spending far too much time looking at polls and trying to understand their implications. Can Donald Trump really win his party’s nomination? (Yes.) Can Bernie Sanders? (No.) But the primaries aren’t the only things being polled; we’re still getting updates on President Barack Obama’s overall approval. And something striking has happened on that front.

    At the end of 2015 Obama was still underwater, with significantly more Americans disapproving than approving. Since then, however, his approval has risen sharply while disapproval has plunged. He’s still only in modestly positive territory, but the net movement in polling averages has been about 11 percentage points, which is a lot.

    What’s going on?

    Well, one answer is that voters have lately been given a taste of what really bad leaders look like. But I’d like to think that the public is also starting to realize just how successful the Obama administration has been in addressing America’s problems. And there are lessons from that success for those willing to learn.

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 Day Trump Killed The Fact

    It's Tuesday, March 29, 2016, and facts are dead.

    They had a good run.

    It used to be that when people said "Who are you going to believe, me, or your own eyes?," they were joking. Not the Donald Trump campaign. It remains stubbornly impervious to reality.

    "But we have video footage of this happening," you can say. "Look, here it is!"

    "Ah," the Trump campaign says, bending eight spoons and then vanishing into a telephone, "but what if the whole world exists only as a figment of our minds?"

    The Trump campaign has been an ongoing test of how few things people are willing to Google.

    On Tuesday, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with simple battery for allegedly aggressively grabbing reporter Michelle Fields out of the way in a manner that left visible bruises.

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!

April 4th

In Trump's shadow is an epic Democratic contest

    If not for a certain Manhattan billionaire, Bernie Sanders' surprising strength and Hillary Clinton's relative weakness would be the big political story of the year.

    Democrats are fortunate that bloody insurrection is roiling the Republican Party. Clinton -- the likely Democratic nominee -- will almost surely face either Donald Trump, who is toxic to most of the electorate, or an alternative chosen at the GOP convention and seen by Trumpistas as a usurper.

    Clinton would be favored to beat either Trump or his closest challenger, Ted Cruz, whose ultraconservative views would be expected to repel independent voters. But Democrats should be thankful that John Kasich, who could have broad appeal, is almost surely too moderate to win the nomination of a Republican Party dragged to the far-right fringe by its angry base.

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 metrics to watch in the jobs report

    Not so long ago, the number of jobs created in the prior month was considered the single most important piece of information in the rich set of employment data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on the first Friday of every month. More recently, the focus shifted to wage growth as it became apparent that the economy had recovered its employment mojo.

    Now both these metrics should take a backseat to the measure of labor-force participation and the related employment-population ratio.

    After steadily increasing over several decades, these two measures of the size of the U.S. labor market plunged as a result of the recession induced by the 2008 global financial crisis. As late as last year, both metrics remained at or near their multidecade lows.

    The civilian labor force participation rate reached a recent historic low of 62.4 percent in September 2015, a full seven years after the eruption of global financial and economic instability. This compares to 66.2 percent at the beginning of 2008. In the most recent data, contained in the jobs report for February released a month ago, it stood at 62.9 percent.

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's misogyny problem sidetracks campaign

    Every day now, it seems, a new woman problem throws famed counterpuncher Donald Trump into a defensive crouch as he tries to find his way out of the corner he's been backed into.

    Already coping with the arrest of his campaign manager on a female reporter's battery charge, Trump has had to retreat from a shocking contention about the criminalization of abortion.

    In a town hall forum in Wisconsin Wednesday night televised by MSNBC, moderator Chris Matthews asked Trump about the legal implications of the candidate's wish to ban abortion. Specifically, Matthews pressed Trump about what would happen to a woman who gets an abortion illegally. Trump stated: "The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment. There has to be some form."

    Abortion rights advocates, including potential Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, pounced. She called Trump's response "horrific and telling."

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!