Archive

November 3rd, 2016

Vaginas, Penises, Emails and the FBI

    Who would have thought that the final leg of this election cycle would be dominated by crowing about violating vaginas and by probes into penis pictures?

    But even that frame is problematic because it creates an equivalency that doesn’t exist. One scandal is about a man boasting of predation and the other is about a woman weary of people’s prying. These are fundamentally different flaws, one being clearly about a pattern of assault and the other about a pattern of ill-fated insularity.

    And yet an utterly irresponsible media, thirsty for a scoop and ignoring the consequences of its scope, has egged on a public with a scandal lust, aiding and abetting Republicans in turning an email mistake into a colossal crime.

    Far from the faux election rigging that Donald Trump has been harping on for weeks, this election isn’t in danger of being stolen by Hillary Clinton, but in danger of being stolen from her.

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!

November 2nd

Praying for forbearance

    I have spent much of my weekends of late at gatherings in houses of worship discussing some aspect of the presidential election. Never has 19th-century Episcopal rector Phillips Brooks'sprayer "Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things" been more tested.

    This election season has brought out the worst. The meanness and outrageous lies are revolting, a far cry from Brooks's declaration to "live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten . . . or take away the joy of conscious integrity."

    The "spirit of joy and gladness," never abundant in political campaigning, is totally absent today.

    "Let me not lose faith in other people."

    It's hard to keep faith with a presidential hopeful who labels immigrants "killers and rapists" and who calls for the "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

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 dishes out media insults but can't take them

    Conditions for the news workers who cover Donald Trump's campaign have become so bad that some reporters are requesting transfers to Aleppo.

    Yes, that's a joke, but not by much. Almost every politician in my experience sooner or later blames the media messengers for an unwelcome message. As the polls and various embarrassments such as the "Access Hollywood" tape of his "locker room" talk about molesting women bring more bad news, the media serve as a one-size-fits-all scapegoat for his woes.

    He calls the media "biased," "dishonest," "corrupt" and "absolute scum," among other choice gems in a constantly escalating scale of invective. Always ignored, by the way, are the tons of free and favorable publicity that he has received from media.

    But the public has not ignored the enormous favor Trump has received from the media he constantly beats up. Before NBC reporter Katy Tur tweeted that Donald Trump would be attending a ribbon cutting at his D.C. hotel this past week, her Twitter feed was inundated with tweets from followers asking or demanding that she boycott the event.

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!

These are the good old days

    A significant segment of Americans sees this nation in decline, if not free fall. Never has the United States been in such bad shape, they say, and it is getting worse.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. I would ask today's naysayers to identify a period in our recent history when the nation was in better shape - economically, socially or in any other way than now.

    It certainly could not be any time between 1925 and 1950, a period of economic depression, war and its aftermath. I am 88 years old. I was born near the end of the 1920s and grew up in the Great Depression, when one-third of Americans were out of work. There were bread lines; those who could worked for the U.S. government in the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration or other such programs. It could not be the 1950s or '60s, with the Korean War, the Vietnam conflict, riots and unrest. Would they select the 1970s to 1990s and the mortal dangers of the Cold War? Perhaps they would select the dawn of the new century to 2008, as we slid into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

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!

North Carolina will be the real bellwether state

    Michelle Obama, making her first joint campaign appearance with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina on Oct. 27, suggested the state is ground zero in this election. That's routine rhetoric; it also may be true.

    In the maze of color-coded maps and exit polls on Election Night, North Carolina will send a resounding message. The state, which voted for Barack Obama eight years ago and for Mitt Romney in 2012, is a must-win for Donald Trump. If Clinton wins, she's probably off to a night that will resemble Obama's 2008 victory.

    The Senate race is one of a half-dozen that will decide the critical question of which party controls the chamber. There's also a governor's race, mired in controversies over discrimination against gays and voting rights for minorities, with important implications for the state and perhaps nationally.

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!

Nate Silver blew it when he missed Trump - now he really needs to get it right

    Nate Silver is on the downtown 1 train. Possibly because he looks like a (modestly) hip math teacher, and hardly looks up from his phone, he goes unrecognized until he reaches the PlayStation Theater in Times Square.

    There, his name is in lights, and people start to nudge one another and point him out. Hundreds of fans - many of them male, young and white - have lined up outside, waiting to watch the data journalist and his colleagues record a podcast. Those who hold the priciest tickets ($100) even get the chance to mingle with the stars of the website FiveThirtyEight and have their picture taken with top editor Silver afterwards.

    "We're giant nerds," explained Priyanka Mitra-Hahn, a PhD student from Brooklyn, when asked why she, her wife and a friend came out to last week's sold-out event.

    If a statistics guru can be a rock star, Silver is surely it. But even rock stars have bad days.

    Silver, 38, had a run of them a few months ago, when it became obvious that his consistent early dismissals of Donald Trump's chances to be the Republican presidential nominee were flat-out wrong.

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!

James Comey is damaging our democracy

    The Justice Department has a proud history of enforcing the federal criminal law without fear or favor, and especially without regard to politics. It operates under long-standing and well-established traditions limiting disclosure of ongoing investigations to the public and even to Congress, especially in a way that might be seen as influencing an election. These traditions protect the integrity of the department and the public's confidence in its mission to take care that the laws are faithfully and impartially executed. They reflect an institutional balancing of interests, delaying disclosure and public knowledge to avoid misuse of prosecutorial power by creating unfair innuendo to which an accused party cannot properly respond.

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!

In Trump's odious campaign there is a civics lesson

    As Donald Trump presses on with his scorched-earth politics, the mayhem he has created may well be striking a welcome chord of reflection and patriotism among many Americans. In the end, he may remind them of what has already made America great, and why they must reject his self-destructive, essentially un-American course.

    In a major irony, Trump's crass denigration of women may prove to be the catalyst for the repudiation on November 8 of the man and his egomaniacal campaign to take over a nation founded on principles of equality of opportunity and personal respect for fellow citizens.

    Women again are expected to constitute the majority of voters next week, rendering Trump's crude and endless assault on the female gender a politically mindless campaign strategy. Even worse, he couples it with his blatant rejection of America's proudest symbol as a beacon to the world's oppressed.

    In his pledge to build a wall across our southern border, he promises to slam the door on more immigrants whose journey to our shores created a truly homogenous society -- foreigners of all races, religions, ethnicities and even political views.

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!

Bill Clinton's role as First Spouse: To disappear

    How do you solve a problem like Bill Clinton?

    More precisely, how does, as is increasingly likely, President Hillary Clinton figure out what to do with First Gentleman Bill Clinton and his cargo hold of accompanying baggage?

    Bill Clinton may be an asset to his wife, but he is also a problem -- a sprawling, messy and hard-to-manage one that encompasses the twin minefields of sex and money.

    Sex first. Donald Trump's misbehavior with women is a far more important topic than Bill Clinton's, for one simple reason: Trump is on the ballot; Bill Clinton is not.

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 Chaos of College Rankings

    Willard Dix is one of the crankiest observers of the college admissions process I know; he’s also one of the smartest. He worked at Amherst, his alma mater, then advised college-bound students at a private secondary school in Chicago. He now blogs about higher education.

    I asked him on the phone the other day about the dizzying proliferation of college rankings beyond those by U.S. News & World Report, each using its own methodology and emphasizing different metrics. If a tone of voice can approximate an eye roll, his did.

    “You can slice and dice it any way you like, but this isn’t like Consumer Reports, which tests something to see if it does or doesn’t work,” he said. “The interaction between a student and an institution is not the same as the interaction between a student and a refrigerator.”

    I can’t improve on that quip. But I can explain it in terms of what rankings do and don’t reveal and how high school seniors, who are right now in the thick of figuring out where they want to apply, should approach 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!