Archive

February 4th, 2017

Why the media should not become the opposition party

    It is not unprecedented for a White House to view the media as the enemy - the "opposition party," as presidential adviser Stephen Bannon labeled us last week.

    But it is vital that we not become that party.

    After an exhausting, often alarming first week of the Trump administration, many people were telling journalists that we can no longer conduct business as usual.

    "You're bringing a spoon to a knife fight," one acquaintance told me.

    We need to stop covering the president's tweets, we were advised. We need to label his false statements as lies. If White House counselors are dishonest, we should stop interviewing them. If Breitbart or parts of Fox peddle Trump propaganda, we should be the voice of the other side.

    No. The answer to dishonest or partisan journalism cannot be more partisan journalism, which would only harm our credibility and make civil discourse even less possible. The response to administration insults cannot be to remake ourselves in the mold of their accusations.

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 plans to target the wrong kind of immigrants

    President Donald Trump seems intent on tackling immigration early in his administration. Vox.com obtained leaked drafts of four executive orders that give us some idea of what the president is planning.

    Three of the draft orders focus on longtime Republican priorities of reducing illegal immigration, keeping out supposedly dangerous refugees and reducing welfare payments to legal immigrants. These orders will undoubtedly be controversial, and probably won't do much good for the country -- refugees tend not to be dangerous, illegal immigration has already gone into reverse, and legal immigrants tend not to use many welfare benefits.

    But it's the last order that has me worried the most. Trump plans to curtail several programs for high-skilled legal immigration. Currently, H-1B holders -- skilled workers who are sponsored by companies, and often end up becoming permanent residents -- are allowed work visas for their spouses. Trump's draft would reverse that, making it much harder for skilled workers to maintain a good standard of living in the U.S. The order would also make it harder for foreign students to work while in the U.S., and make it somewhat harder for H-1B workers to get green cards.

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!

Our history shows there's a dark side to 'Buy American'

    "We will follow two simple rules," President Trump promised in his inaugural address. "Buy American and hire American."

    Trump's program might sound appealing. But the Buy American exhortation follows a long history of similar campaigns steeped in racism, especially against Asians and Asian Americans, that have had real, destructive consequences. It's not that the Buy American call is racist in itself - there's nothing wrong with seeking to reinvest our dollars back in good local jobs. The problem lies in the way in which it frames the issues.

    Buy American presumes an imagined economic nation that pits working people in the United States against those of other countries, casting them as the enemy. From there, it's often been a quick step to racial distinctions and attacks, as the past has shown. Buy American also has played into the hands of transnational corporations and other elites, who are happy if working people in the United States turn against those from other countries, while the corporations themselves flit about the world seeking low-cost labor.

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 time for journalists to stop pretending 'objective' means 'mindless'

    Last week, President Donald Trump's chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, gave an interview bashing the New York Times (and those of us here at The Washington Post) to the New York Times that was about as punchy and conniving as you'd expect.

    As tempting as it is to treat Bannon himself as the poisonous tree and to ignore the fruit that emerges from his lips and keyboard, his repeated references to the media as "the opposition party" in cadences that mirror his boss's ought to point the press toward a new and reinvigorated understanding of its role.

    One of the most pernicious ideas governing our politics right now is that everything fits into neat binaries. You're either for Trump or you're against him. If you have issues with Democratic strategy, you must be secretly rooting for the Republicans. The idea of the press as a "Fourth Estate" didn't emerge from an attempt to situate journalism within a bipartisan political system, though, but rather from Edmund Burke's efforts to describe the civic roles played by institutions such as the clergy, the nobility and the citizenry.

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 time for a new kind of resistance

    I'm happy to join my Obama administration friends at Shadow Government. But I wonder if this approach -- Democrats from the old regime offering constructive criticism and advice to the new one -- is right for the Trump era.

    During the George W. Bush years, I condemned many of the then president's policies. But I never saw him as wholly outside the norms of the country I love. I got to know members of his administration, tried to understand their point of view, and thought I could persuade them of mine, because I knew we basically shared the same aims -- keeping America safe and free, while advancing our ideals and interests in the world. I have Republican friends who were often angry at President Barack Obama, while still recognizing him as a decent man dedicated to the same aims.

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!

Immigrants mobilize for total war with Trump

    Less than four years ago, more than two-thirds of the Senate voted to create a path to citizenship for long-resident undocumented immigrants. Last week, President Donald Trump signed an order to mobilize the mass deportation of those same people.

    No issue has more accurately reflected the nation's political whiplash than immigration. The 2013 bill was a reflection of humane technocracy and political compromise. It created a deliberate path to citizenship of 13 years. Trump's order is saturated in racial anxiety and cruelty for its own sake. It went into effect immediately.

    The furor has already been eclipsed by outrage and chaos stemming from Trump's constitutionally suspect order effectively banning Muslims from seven countries. Both orders are nakedly political. But the order to remove undocumented immigrants appears well designed for its ultimate purpose: to destroy the immigrant-rights movement and terrorize people into abandoning first their hope, then their homes.

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!

Four ways to get rid of President Trump before 2020

    Are we really stuck with this guy?

    It's the question being asked around the globe, because Donald Trump's first week as president has made it all too clear: Yes, he is as crazy as everyone feared.

    Remember those optimistic pre-inauguration fantasies? I cherished them, too. You know: "Once he's president, I'm sure he'll realize it doesn't really make sense to withdraw from all those treaties." "Once he's president, surely he'll understand that he needs to stop tweeting out those random insults." "Once he's president, he'll have to put aside that ridiculous campaign braggadocio about building a wall along the Mexican border." And so on.

    Nope. In his first week in office, Trump has made it eminently clear that he meant every loopy, appalling word - and then some.

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!

Shock. Outrage. Resistance. Repeat. Is this the new normal in Trump's America?

    In Donald Trump's America, there may be no more weekends - just an incessant cycle of shocks, of actions and reactions. For the second weekend in a row, Friday to Sunday was wall to wall with resistance and outrage.

    On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning people from seven nations in the Middle East and Africa from entering the United States.

    On Saturday, protesters began heading to the airports to welcome international travelers, some of whom were detained for hours without access to lawyers.

    On Sunday, thousands pushed peacefully against the fences around the White House in protest of Trump's order. The signs spelled out embarrassment and resolve - and a cheeky self-awareness that only Washington can muster.

    "SHAME ON AMERICA."

    "DEATH TO FASCISM."

    "PROTEST IS THE NEW BRUNCH."

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!

No, Trump, Not On Our Watch

    When Barack Obama was in office — remember the good old days, just over a week ago, when we didn’t wake up every morning and wonder what new atrocity was emanating from the White House — Republicans were apoplectic about his use of executive orders. They called them “unilateral edicts” and “power grabs.” As Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley once said in a floor speech: “The president looks more and more like a king that the Constitution was designed to replace.”

    What a difference a week makes.

    Now many of those Republicans are as quiet as church mice as Donald Trump pumps out executive orders at a fevered pitch, doing exactly what he said he’d do during the campaign, for all of those who were paying attention: advancing a white nationalist agenda and vision of America, whether that be by demonizing blacks in the “inner city,” Mexicans at the border or Muslims from the Middle East.

    Trump’s America is not America: not today’s or tomorrow’s, but yesterday’s.

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!

'Just the facts': How media can build trust

    Journalism, according to the renowned media scholar and historian Sean Hannity, is dead.

    Of course, the Fox News host and Donald Trump disciple also described White House press secretary Sean Spicer's opening-day debacle as "awesome."

    No, journalism is far from dead - as anybody who has followed the investigative reporting of The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold, for one, can attest - but it sure has taken a number of body blows. And some are self-inflicted.

    One of the worst: the sharp drop in public trust. Now, with a media-bashing president presenting a threat to press freedom, we need to get it back.

    "Maybe this situation calls for a return to the old view, which asks for less analysis and more reporting, less personality and more facts," said David M. Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who spent 25 years in Washington with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for history-conscious political columns.

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!