Archive

September 5th, 2016

EU needs a country to claim Apple's taxes

    By ordering Apple to pay $14.5 billion (13 billion euros) in back taxes to Ireland, the European Union has created a somewhat farcical situation. Ireland doesn't want the money, which amounts to more than four months' tax revenue for the small nation, and the U.S., where the iPhone maker is headquartered, is on the tax-avoidant company's side.

    European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager deserves praise, even if her move is underappreciated by its beneficiaries -- and even if she made it for the wrong reasons, trying to establish EU control in an area where it should have none: taxation.

    According to the European Commission ruling, most of the back taxes are owed by a company called Apple Sales International, which sold Apple products outside the Americas. Ireland's Revenue Commission allowed it to allocate the vast majority of its profit not to its Irish operation but to a "head office" that had no employees and conducted no meaningful activities.

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!

Donald Trump’s Tumescent Twin

    It’s rich, as the English would say, that Donald Trump is trying to profit from Anthony Weiner’s latest mortification, because Trump is to his persevering supporters what Weiner was to his long-suffering wife: a scoundrel undeserving of so many second chances; a head case incapable of the redemption that’s supposedly just a few extra measures of discipline away; someone selling himself as a servant of the public although he’s really a slave to his own raging ego and unquenchable needs.

    When Trump looks in the mirror, there’s a whole lot of Weiner staring back at him.

    The details are tawdrier in Weiner’s case, and the stakes far smaller. But both men are creatures of potent want and pure compulsion who lucked into forgiving audiences. Weiner’s finally stopped forgiving: Huma Abedin announced that she was formally separating from him after six years of marriage.

    Trump still has legions by his side. But for how long?

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!

Don't be scared of a health-insurance public option

    One of the big debates in health care right now is whether to create a public option for health insurance. Most observers of President Barack Obama's health-care law agree that the big problem is private insurers pulling out of health-care exchanges. That leaves smaller states with only one or two insurers participating, which kills competition in insurance markets and raises costs. Although there are many intermediate fixes available, some are suggesting bringing back an idea that didn't make it into Obamacare -- a public option, with government selling insurance to anyone who wants to buy it. Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker writes:

    Obamacare could use improvements - and right now, the most critical of them is to add a "public option," available in all parts of the country, that would allow Americans buying coverage through the Obamacare "exchanges" to enroll in a public insurance plan modeled after Medicare. A public option would increase coverage and create greater insurance competition.

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!

Clinton must learn from her mistakes

    Much of the criticism of Hillary Clinton over her emails and her family's foundation is unfairly harsh. But the Clintons themselves invite such scrutiny and suspicion.

    First, the emails. Months of investigation turned up essentially nothing worthy of being called a scandal. Unless you doubt the integrity of FBI director James Comey -- and I don't -- any mishandling of classified information was so minimal that "no reasonable prosecutor" would seek to pursue a case. And the FBI found no evidence, Comey said, that foreign adversaries or anyone else ever hacked their way into Clinton's emails.

     That's the bottom line, no matter what critics might claim. Ordinarily, such findings would put the whole matter to rest. But they didn't, largely because of Clinton's own actions and words.

     As she has acknowledged, she never should have decided to reject an official State Department email account and instead use a personal account on her family's private server. Clinton's explanation that she took this highly unorthodox step for "convenience" is as hollow as they come.

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!

Apple finds out it took the Irish tax game too far

    You want your multinational corporation to be seen as a good corporate citizen. But you also feel obliged to your company's shareholders to keep it from paying a cent more in taxes than it is required to.

    So what's the dividing line beyond which responsible tax management turns into poor citizenship? Well, for the moment it appears to be somewhere between this:

    "Apple set up their sales operations in Europe in such a way that customers were contractually buying products from Apple Sales International in Ireland rather than from the shops that physically sold the products to customers. In this way Apple recorded all sales, and the profits stemming from these sales, directly in Ireland."

    And this:

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 3rd

Protecting gay teens trumps religious rights

    California's ban on gay-conversion therapy for teens survived a free-speech challenge back in 2014. Now it's survived another challenge claiming that the law targets religiously motivated conduct. The decision is legally correct -- but it's a much closer case than the appeals court acknowledged. And it raises the extremely tricky question of how the state may regulate a psychiatric practice whose foundations are interwoven with religious beliefs.

    The key to the free-speech decision from two years ago was that, California isn't prohibiting speech per se. It's outlawing a particular medical practice that happens to be accomplished in part through talking. Whether it's a good idea or not, state legislatures have the legal authority to prohibit licensed providers from performing ineffective and potentially harmful medical treatments.

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 Clinton Republicans matter

    Not since Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign has there been such widespread public disavowal by Republicans of their party's nominee. The Hillary Clinton Republicans will be one of the most important legacies of the 2016 campaigns.             The question is whether they will constitute the forward end of a political realignment, or just a one-time reaction to the unsuitability of Donald Trump for the presidency.

    Reasons for skepticism about long-term change are rooted in the differences between today's polarized politics and the more tempered partisanship surrounding the big-bang elections of 1964 and 1980.

    In 1964, there was a lively liberal wing of the Republican Party. GOP figures such as Jacob Javits, Clifford Case, Edward Brooke and John Lindsay had far more in common philosophically with Lyndon Johnson than they did with Goldwater.

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!

What the fuss over burkinis is really about

    It was rather obvious that France's highest administrative court, the Council of State, would strike down bans on unrevealing swimwear instituted this summer by French coastal towns. Last Friday, it reversed the first such ban, by the mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet. Though some mayors still don't see why they should cancel their orders, rights activists will soon be on their case, too, and the precedent promises similar outcomes in most of these disputes.

    The underlying problem that spawned the comical burkini bans, however, will not go away. It's that of integration: How well should people of different cultures blend into a society before it stops trying to push them away?

    As the French poet George Brassens once sang, "The good folks don't like it when someone walks a different path than they do." France has a long history of intolerance toward otherness, and it's part of a powerful European tradition that has often led to horrible extremes as well as to ridiculous ones. The success of attempts to dress it up in legal robes has ultimately depended on the uniformity of public sentiment.

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!

Ten good questions for Hillary Clinton (if she ever has another press conference)

    Like many politicians, Hillary Clinton does not enjoy giving press conferences, and of late she has decided not to bother; the last one she held was in December. But this symptom of her strained relationship with the press is itself becoming a source of displeasure from reporters, and she and her campaign find themselves being asked about it again and again.

    The Clinton campaign protests that she has done hundreds of interviews, which is basically true. An NPR analysis found that while Clinton has indeed done 350 interviews in 2016, most of them were for television or radio (where they're usually shorter), many were with local outlets, and some were with people who weren't actually journalists.

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!

One of Trump's biggest lies is falling apart. So naturally, he's blaming the media for it.

    The Grand Trumpian Immigration Follies of 2016 are set to take another turn: Donald Trump has now announced that he will give a major speech (does any Trump speech fail to merit that label?) on the issue on Wednesday, in which he is expected to finally clarify his stance on mass deportations. Trump veep candidate Mike Pence promised Sunday that Trump would clarify it.

    But it is more likely that instead of clarifying his stance on mass deportations, Trump will instead try to shift the subject away from them entirely. That's because Trump's big lie about mass deportations -- i.e., that he would carry them out swiftly and humanely, thus Making America Great Again -- is falling apart. And he's now trying to replace that lie by foregrounding another lie.

    Trump previewed his speech at a rally over the weekend, at which he said this:

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!