Archive

February 7th, 2017

All that anger about globalization? It's 'globaloney.'

    Donald Trump's election was propelled by a wave of anti-globalization anger that is sweeping the United States and other Western advanced economies. Trump has echoed that anger in his rhetoric. In his inaugural address, he lamented that America has "made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated." And now he is responding to that anger with his policies. In his first days in office, he has signed an order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pledged to renegotiate NAFTA and prepared a moratorium on new multilateral agreements. He has directed construction of a wall along the southern border and threatened a 20 percent import tax on goods from Mexico. And he has blocked refugees, immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

    All this reflects genuine skepticism of the benefits of globalization, opposition to trade deals and anxiety about immigration among large portions of the U.S. population, protests notwithstanding.

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!

When troops worry about their kids' schools, our military suffers

    Military readiness can be defined in a number of ways: the ability of a military unit "to accomplish its assigned mission" or "accurately defining expected threats and resourcing the military to counter them." More often than not, the issue of readiness is framed as a question of whether or not service members are adequately trained and properly equipped.

    But a fighting force - even one as formidable as the United States military - isn't truly ready unless its members have confidence that their needs are being addressed on the home front. For service members, a major component of readiness is knowing that as they move from base to base with family in tow, the quality of their children's education doesn't suffer. Currently, though, readiness is being negatively impacted because many military families are making decisions about whether to leave the armed forces or to accept a move to a particular duty station based in part on the quality of the surrounding schools. These choices can create a brain drain that ultimately undermines the nation's fighting force.

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 Tyrant’s Ghost Guides Trump

    The Man Who Would Be King signs his executive orders with a stagy flourish, waving thick leather binders “that look like the menu at Beefsteak Charlie’s,” as Bill Maher said. Take that, Muslims! Die, Obamacare! We’re building a wall, Mexicans!

    Directly behind President Donald Trump in the Oval Office as he inks his bundle of biases into edicts is the newly installed portrait of the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, a shock-haired, vainglorious slave driver. Look close enough and you can almost see the dead man smirk: He’s back!

    Jackson is that vacant stare on the front of the $20 bill, soon to be replaced by Harriet Tubman — swapping out a man who owned about 150 human beings for a woman who started her life as property. Or maybe this won’t happen after all, given Jackson’s new prominence in the Trump White House.

    He is often called a populist, the first people’s president. Jackson was also an unapologetic slave owner, unlike earlier presidents who were troubled by holding people in bondage in the land of the free. To many Native Americans, Jackson is just short of Hitler — a genocidal monster.

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 currency war against Germany could destroy the European Union

    It's just over a week after Donald Trump's inauguration, and his administration has already indicated that it is preparing for global economic war. The currency war the White House has in mind is clearly aimed not just against China - which has long been suspected of "cheating" in order to win the globalization game - but also Germany: On Tuesday, Peter Navarro, the head of the new National Trade Council, claimed that Germany is using its currency to "exploit" both its neighbors and the United States. The White House evidently thinks of the European Union, and the monetary union that established the euro currency, as essentially a mechanism to protect German interests and extend German power - as an instrument of Germany, as Trump himself put it.

    This fear of Germany is both an outlandish expression of paranoia and an idea with a long pedigree among some establishment economists and policymakers. Nobody doubts that the White House has tools at its disposal to strong-arm Germany into changing its economic policy - including its commitment to the euro, which currently binds the European Union together. Indeed, the Trump administration already seems to be doing just that.

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!

An Apology to Muslims

    Whenever an extremist in the Muslim world does something crazy, people demand that moderate Muslims step forward to condemn the extremism. So let’s take our own advice: We Americans should now condemn our own extremist.

    In that spirit, I hereby apologize to Muslims. The mindlessness and heartlessness of the travel ban should humiliate us, not you. Understand this: President Donald Trump is not America!

    I apologize to Nadia Murad, the brave young Yazidi woman from Iraq who was made a sex slave — but since escaping, has campaigned around the world against ISIS and sexual slavery. She has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize yet is now barred from the United States.

    I apologize to Edna Adan, a heroic Somali woman who has battled for decades for women’s health and led the fight against female genital mutilation. Edna speaks at U.S, universities, champions girls’ education and defies extremists — and she’s one of those inspiring me to do the same.

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 hard line on trade puts the Fed in a quandary

    The Trump administration's antagonistic approach to some countries could be putting monetary policy on a collision course with international trade and financial policy rather than fiscal policy as initially expected. Instead of facing a demand shock, the Federal Reserve could be facing a supply shock.

    Speculation on fiscal policy -- and a possible monetary offset -- heightened in the weeks after the Nov. 8 election. The basic story is that with the economy close to full employment, a deficit-financed surge in demand would be inflationary, forcing the Fed to offset additional spending with a more aggressive pace of tightening. This presumably would run counter to President Donald Trump's economic ambitions and set the stage for a showdown between the Fed and 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!

Why President Trump needs a history lesson

    Here's a tip, if you're going to speak at a Black History Month event: It helps to know a little black history.

    President Donald Trump overlooked that advice as he delivered a rambling Black History Month address before engaging in a "listening session" with African-American professionals at the White House.

    It didn't take long for the real estate developer and former star of "The Apprentice" to start talking about what seems to be his favorite topic, himself.

    First, he repeated a worn-out assertion that he keeps making at speaking events that "the media" deliberately reported falsely that he had removed a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. In fact, the Time magazine reporter who was providing pool reports that day realized his mistake within minutes and sent out more than a dozen tweets correcting the mistake and apologizing. White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted back, "Apology accepted."

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 had a good idea on drug costs. He ditched it after meeting with pharma execs.

    It wasn't all that long ago -- though it seems that way, admittedly, with the never-ending flood of Trumpian news -- that I was prepared to acknowledge that President Donald Trump actually has a few good ideas. Or at least one.

    It was Tuesday morning. The new president was about to go into a meeting with chief executives from Johnson & Johnson, Merck and a handful of other major pharma companies. During his campaign, he often said that if he were elected, the federal government would start negotiating with the drug companies over the prices Medicare and Medicaid had to pay for drugs -- something it's now prevented from doing by statute. This is an issue that resonated with most Americans, the majority of whom want the government to do something about high drug prices.

    Along with The Wall and the Return of Manufacturing, this appeared to be one of his core issues. And unlike some other campaign issues, it didn't fade away after the election. Pharma companies were "getting away with murder," he said on Jan. 10, because they "had a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power." A few weeks later, he claimed that the government would save $300 billion if it could negotiate prices.

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 adviser' is a contradiction in terms

    Rex Tillerson, who ran Exxon Mobil for a decade before signing on as Donald Trump's secretary of state, is reportedly "baffled" that the White House didn't consult with him on its controversial executive order restricting travel and immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries.

    James Mattis, who retired as a four-star Marine Corps general and supervisor of the U.S. Central Command before becoming Trump's secretary of defense, is said by the Associated Press to be "particularly incensed" about exactly the same thing.

    Both men -- seasoned, thoughtful managers with bucketloads of experience and insight -- probably thought that Trump recruited them to his cabinet to be trusted advisers. They may be in for more surprises, however, because there's a good chance that Trump sees them merely as hood ornaments atop the little engine of state he's building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    For most of Trump's career he has trusted only a small group of longtime loyalists at the Trump Organization, and even then he has often tightened the circle further to family members.

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 unworthy attack on the federal judiciary

   It's no surprise that President Donald Trump initiated a Twitter attack Saturday on federal judge James Robart for freezing the executive order on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. The ultimate fate of the order will depend on proceedings in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied the government's emergency request to reinstate the ban, and possibly even the U.S. Supreme Court. But because judges issue rulings, not press releases, it's also up to civil society and the news media to defend the judge and the rule of law from the president's bluster.

    So here's the legal truth: The Seattle-based judge's decision, which unlike earlier rulings against the order forces the entire executive branch to comply, was completely legitimate. Rather brilliantly, Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, cited the precedent of the federal judge in Texas who in 2015 froze President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration. Turnabout is fair play. The same judicial power that thwarted Trump's predecessor is now being used against him.

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!