Archive

September 7th, 2016

A big question mark: The Fed and the jobs report

    The big question mark about Friday's jobs report was (and still is): Will they or won't they?

    The nation's payroll rose by 151,000 jobs on net last month and the unemployment rate held steady at a low 4.9 percent. Once the Federal Reserve plugs the new numbers into their reaction function - one that most Fed watchers find increasingly elusive - will they decide to hold or raise the benchmark interest rate at their meeting later this month?

    My impression, similar to that of most Fed watchers, is that it would have taken a stronger jobs number- something north of 200,000 - to get them to tap the brakes by slightly raising the rate to slow the economy/job market a bit. Though they still, of course, might do so, this 150,000 payrolls number, in tandem with a few other points - elevated underemployment, low labor force participation rates, wages that are accelerating a bit but not pressuring prices - will likely stay their hand for now.

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 reinvents himself on immigration?

    Politicians have often tried to re-invent themselves, and some have actually succeeded. Southerner Lyndon Johnson became the champion of civil rights. So did former KKK member Robert Byrd. Anti-communism crusader Richard Nixon opened the door to Communist China. And hardliner Ronald Reagan signed a nuclear arms deal with the Soviet Union.

    But this week, Donald Trump tried to re-invent himself on the issue of immigration, and failed. He failed because what he proposed in the first place wasn't real -- and neither was his much-heralded reinvention.

    Illegal immigration, of course, is Trump's signature issue. He not only made it the centerpiece of the Republican primary, he forced the Republican Party to reverse course on immigration: from reaching out to Latino voters -- as Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and other GOP leaders proposed -- to, in effect, declaring war on them.

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 6th

The 2016 election is actually kind of normal

    The 2016 election appears on the surface to be weird and different, with all the rules of politics seemingly broken every day.

    But take a step back, and the general election is behaving -- so far, at least -- exactly how it should, given that the Republican Party nominated a total outsider as its candidate. In an era of strong parties, the 2016 general election is easily understood as being about ... parties.

    On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton proved perfectly acceptable to Democratic party actors -- the politicians, campaign and governing professionals, donors and activists, formal party officials and staff, and party-aligned interest groups and media. These Democrats control their party's future and are solidly in control of it. Clinton received an overwhelming majority of their endorsements even before the primaries and caucuses. And almost all of the few party actors who supported Bernie Sanders wound up endorsing Clinton once the Vermont socialist had lost.

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 McAuliffe's choice on individual rights restoration

    House Speaker Bill Howell is back before the Virginia Supreme Court seeking to have Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe cited for contempt.

    Last month, in the extraordinary case of Howell v. McAuliffe, the speaker and Senate Republican leader Thomas Norment sued the governor on the issue of restoring voting and other civil rights of those lawfully convicted of a felony.

    Their lawsuit argued that the state constitution forbade the governor from restoring the rights of 206,000 disenfranchised felons in one sweeping, unprecedented executive order.

    We agreed with their argument. We further admonished the governor for labeling those opposed to his position as racist.

    The Constitution of Virginia seems plain enough. It says a person lawfully convicted of a felony loses the right to vote until the governor restores it in a constitutional fashion.

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!

From realism to cynicism to Trump

    Only the naive have ever believed that democracy is solely a noble contest over competing ideas, proposals and solutions. Emotion looms large in every human decision, including how we cast our ballots, and smart politicians have always blended appeals to the heart and the gut with their entreaties to reason.

     We cherish what might be called the Lincoln-Douglas approach to politics, inspired by the 1858 debates between Honest Abe and "The Little Giant," Stephen Douglas, when the two candidates went from place to place in Illinois arguing with great eloquence about the future of slavery. But we forget that even in those debates, emotion was often in the saddle. Racism was at work, and so was a passionate anger at "the Slave Power," the popular term in the North for the domination of the federal government by southern planters.

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!

Black Lead Matters

    Donald Trump is still claiming that “inner-city crime is reaching record levels,” promising to save African-Americans from the “slaughter.” In fact, this urban apocalypse is a figment of his imagination; urban crime is actually at historically low levels. But he’s not the kind of guy to care about another “Pants on Fire” verdict from PolitiFact.

    Yet some things are, of course, far from fine in our cities, and there is a lot we should be doing to help black communities. We could, for example, stop pumping lead into their children’s blood.

    You may think that I’m talking about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which justifiably caused national outrage early this year, only to fade from the headlines. But Flint was just an extreme example of a much bigger problem. And it’s a problem that should be part of our political debate: Like it or not, poisoning kids is a partisan issue.

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!

A free lunch for the federal government

    Criticism that this year's presidential candidates are ignoring the national debt is at least half-misplaced. Donald Trump's approach to this (and all other issues) is unserious, of course. But Hillary Clinton has taken a perfectly reasonable approach -- one without the unwarranted concern that debt is crowding out other policy priorities. She is not whipping up fears about deficits that are unsupported by economic data. She is proposing that her new, permanent spending plans be matched with progressive revenue increases.

    These are reality-based stances. The only change I'd urge is to rely more heavily on deficit financing for proposed infrastructure investments.

    Clinton summarized her views on using progressive tax increases to pay for new, permanent spending (like investments in early childcare and education) in a recent interview with Vox : "I have put forth ways of paying for all the investments that I make, because we do have the entitlement issues out there that we can't ignore . . . and I think we can pay for what we need to do through raising taxes on the wealthy."

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!

While athletes speak out, Trump drops the ball with black voters

    Donald Trump is a political commentator's dream in the usually news-challenged weeks of late summer when we're looking for someone to complain about.

    For example, he rejects "political correctness." He says it takes too much time. That reminds me of an old nugget of good advice: If you don't have the time to do it right, when will you find time the time to do it over?

    In recent days, for example, we have seen the Republican presidential nominee try to upstage his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's speech on race relations by calling her "a bigot," of all things.

    "We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton," he said at a Wisconsin rally on Aug. 16, "which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes -- that's all they care about -- not as individual human beings worthy of a better future."

    Yet a few days later, he sent out a tweet about a tragedy in NBA star Dwyane Wade's family that sounded as though he was, yes, seeing communities of color only as votes.

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 presidential campaign runs off the rails

    It's not enough that a major American political party has nominated for president a man demonstrably unqualified for the nation's highest office. Now the 2016 campaign has been hijacked by a slew of tabloid-worthy stories, reducing the noble civic endeavor of self-government to distracting garbage.

    The question before the American electorate is whether to hand over government to an erratic political outsider who panders to public anger and disillusionment with the status quo, or to a seasoned if secretive insider who sees government as an agent of gradual progressive change.

    Yet the news media are being hijacked by sensationalist reports more commonly associated with the universe of fear-mongering and show-business gossip.

    The tone was set by Donald Trump's relentlessly personal and political assaults on the other candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, whom he humiliated and destroyed in the primaries. Having secured the nomination, he aimed a similar array of insults and misrepresentations at his foe in the general election, Hillary Clinton, accusing her of everything from lying to bigotry.

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 Internet revolution has not reached all of us

    The Internet is celebrating some important milestones. Last week marked both the 40th anniversary of the first mobile connection and the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web. Millennials can't even remember what life was like without it, and for baby boomers, the changes to everyday activities have been at once profound and subtle.

    But the information revolution is far from finished. Indeed, for many living in the developing world, and even for some Americans, the Internet still hasn't arrived.

    Given how far we have come, it may be hard to believe that the idea of a loosely connected web of computer networks, with fast-moving and fast-changing mobile users, originated decades ago with the U.S. military. It was looking to maintain reliable and redundant real-time communications with military assets under extreme and rapidly changing conditions.

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!