Archive

January 18th, 2016

Move over, digital: Analog's back from the future

    Forget hoverboards, fridges that talk to the Internet, and self-driving cars. Three of the most popular items at this month's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- a cine camera, a record turntable and a new Polaroid snapper -- suggest there's a back-from-the-future movement gaining ground that reflects a growing fatigue with the virtual world of digital products, and a renewed enthusiasm for the old-fashioned analog experience.

    It's a debate that rages in my house. My partner sniffs books as she opens them; she says it conjures up memories of childhood library visits that promised to make all of the world's knowledge and literary entertainment available. For her, the latest adventures of Bridget Jones in paperback, have all of the evocative power of Proust's madeleine cakes. Me, I've owned a Kindle since they first became available almost a decade ago; I can't remember the last time I bought an actual physical book.

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 Cruz supporters differ from Trump fans

    Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are way ahead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, perhaps to capture the Republican nomination too. Both appeal to alienated conservative voters who say they've had it with the Republican establishment.

    Yet their supporters are different. In Iowa, which holds the first Presidential contest on Feb. 1, Trump, the New York businessman and reality-TV star, is more popular with those who say they're most concerned about economics or guns. Texas Sen. Cruz does better with voters who are religious conservatives and say they care most about values. These distinctions are worth watching.

    According to Ann Selzer's latest Iowa Poll -- done for Bloomberg Politics and the Des Moines Register -- there is considerable crossover appeal among Cruz and Trump voters. The Texan has a small overall lead in Iowa over the billionaire mogul. Trump's support is a bit more solid while Cruz appears to have a better chance to grow his base before caucus day.

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!

David Brooks' choice words on Cruz - 'satanic', 'pagan' - draw fire and a little brimstone

    Is it appropriate for one of the most respected newspaper columnists in America to describe a major presidential contender as "satanic" in his tone? For better or worse, that is the phrase David Brooks of The New York Times used to describe Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas -- and the brash declaration from the typically unflappable author, an apostle of civility in politics, has kicked up an unholy ruckus Beezlebub might appreciate. So has his latest column on Cruz, "The Brutalism of Ted Cruz."

    His words on TV jarred the sensibility of "PBS Newshour's" gentle Judy Woodruff. On the right, one less gentle conservative critic is calling Brooks "unglued" by Cruz.

    Brooks' poisoned arrows have flown at Cruz from the pages of the Gray Lady and from his perch as a moderate Republican television commentator. At first, his message, like Brooks himself, was relatively restrained.

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!

Count on a hair-trigger response

    Want to see how warped the gun debate is? How knee-jerk and partisan this game has become?

    Check out what's going on in Virginia.

    Last month, the state's attorney general, Mark R. Herring (D), told a bunch of out-of-state gun carriers that they can't walk the streets of Virginia packing heat anymore because where they come from, concealed-carry gun permits are handed out like candy at a carnival, and that's just a little too loosey-goosey for Virginia.

    In the Old Dominion, residents can legally carry a concealed weapon as long as they aren't stalkers, convicted abusers, mental-health patients and so forth.

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!

Ambassador Is a Dangerous Job

    When Thomas E. McNamara arrived in Colombia as U.S. ambassador in 1988, he encountered a hit list issued by narco-terrorist Pablo Escobar. "I was No. 1," he recalls. "Ambassadors tend to get that kind of attention."

    On a different mission to confer with Lebanese government officials, McNamara was greeted with "a welcome-to-Beirut mortar and artillery barrage," which landed in the parking lot outside the building. "We picked up papers and went to the basement, where there was a secure bunker," McNamara, later named ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, told me.

    No, being a professional foreign service officer is not all about cocktails in Paris, London and Rome. In fact, little of it is. Most members of the U.S. foreign service serve in harsh parts of the world. And much of their job centers on going into dangerous countryside where they're exposed to some who would do them harm.

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 Shouldn’t Take Their Oil

    Donald Trump’s first presidential campaign ad pledges to “take their oil.” That’s what President (gasp) Trump would do after having “quickly cut the head off the Islamic State,” says the deep-voiced narrator.

    Along with political decapitation, there are many disturbing things in the Republican front-runner’s commercials besides these three words. But stop and ponder the questions they raise.

    First, the U.S. government lacks state-owned oil companies, the requisite drilling equipment, and a fleet of tankers. How would Trump “take their oil”?

    He’d get around this inconvenience wrought by America’s capitalist system by giving ExxonMobil the job, and backing the corporation up with “a ring” of U.S. troops.

    “You ever see these guys, how good they are, the great oil companies?” Trump crowed in Iowa in November. “They’ll rebuild that sucker, brand new — it’ll be beautiful.”

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 17th

Don't Try To Breathe Life Into A Dead Scandal

    This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal. The more prominent the actors and the more prurient the allegations, the better. Whatever factual adjustments become necessary to keep the narrative going, many journalists are eager to play along.

    For example, how did the current spat between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over her husband's well-known sins begin? Was it when Hillary, unwisely rising to the bait, criticized Trump's "penchant for sexism"? Or was it earlier, when Trump described her taking bathroom break during a TV debate as "disgusting"?

    Most would say Trump's bizarre insult jump-started things. However, if you watch "Morning Joe" or read accounts of Hillary's supposedly "enabling" Bill Clinton's transgressions, it's pretty much all her fault. Always was.

    Even the New York Times, in an editorial arguing that "Trump is way out of line bringing up Mr. Clinton's philandering," couldn't restrain itself from scolding her for allegedly attacking Bill's paramours.

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 parties in revolt

    Less than month before the first votes of the 2016 presidential election are cast in Iowa, both major parties find themselves in the grip of revolution -- the Republican on the right and the Democratic on the left.

    In the Grand Old Party, two loose-cannon conservatives -- business tycoon Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz -- are vying for an early foothold in the Iowa precinct caucuses against a gaggle of nominally less conservative contenders seeking the establishment label: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

    Four other would-be right-wing cage-rattlers: former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former business executive Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, are still hanging in, as is the libertarian Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, praying for lightning to strike in a cloudless sky.

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 Year of Trump

    Is 2015 over yet? Is it safe to come out now?

    What a bummer. Mass shootings, cops using unarmed civilians for target practice, the Middle East in rubble, terrorist attacks, Donald Trump.

    Trump wasn’t the worst of it, perhaps. But he certainly was the most irritating.

    It was a spectacle worthy of Tennyson — “Trump to the right of us, Trump to the left of us, Trump in front and behind. Into the valley of Trump rode the 300 million.”

    A year ago he was a loud-mouthed reality show host who moonlighted as a developer of ugly buildings. Now he’s the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

    To any patriotic American with a sense of history, it’s embarrassing. We are a country of 320 million people — many of us smart, some informed and reasonable. And the best we can do is Donald Trump?

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 escape their health-care trap

    What will happen if Republicans gain the votes -- including the big one in the Oval Office -- to do what they want to do to Obamacare? For a clue, look at what's happening in Kentucky.

    Recall that the state's new governor, Matt Bevin, is a tea partyer who fulminated against the Affordable Care Act in his campaign last fall and promised to get rid of it.

    In the brief period he has been in office, Bevin has made two decisions on Obamacare. He's getting rid of Kynect, the Kentucky health-insurance exchange, meaning he's inviting the federal government in to run the state's marketplace. And he has reversed his pledge to quash Medicaid expansion. Instead of repealing it, he's now talking about reforming how Kentucky administers the expansion instead.

    The question of who runs Kentucky's exchange doesn't matter much, so his "bold" action will have little effect. But on Medicaid, his decision to punt will matter a lot. Lots of voters in the state get to keep their insurance.

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!