Archive

August 15th, 2016

Jingoism, the ugly side of Olympic sport

    If the disqualification of a large part of the Russian Olympic team had less to do with politics than with the country's state-sponsored doping system, plenty of people both inside and outside Russia would like to turn the resulting tension into a jingoistic grudge match between Russia and the West.

    Russian state television started on it during the opening ceremony. "In 2001, El Salvador fell into total dependence from the U.S., abolishing the national currency, the colon," commentator Anna Dmitrieva intoned as she watched the Salvadorean team march by, waving flags. "Nor does El Salvador have any precious Olympic medals."

    There was probably nothing political about swimmer Lilly King's open dislike of her Russian competitor Yulia Yefimova: King wants all athletes who have ever been caught using forbidden substances to be banned from the Olympics, and that includes her teammate, runner Justin Gatlin, who, like Yefimova, has served a drug-related disqualification. Yet after King's defiant win, Russians and Americans alike rushed to politicize the conflict.

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!

August 14th

Should retired generals join the political fray?

    Should retired warriors play politics? Those of us who sat through the bombastic convention speeches by two retired generals with seven stars between them -- Michael Flynn (Republicans) and John Allen (Democrats) -- might be forgiven for thinking: "Absolutely not!"

    But those speakers' histrionics aside, the question has taken on new urgency after Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly urged his colleagues to steer clear of direct partisanship:

    "Publicly, they can speak to their experiences with the issues. Not about those seeking office. Not about who is more suited to be elected. That will be decided by the voters, and they have an obligation to learn about the candidates before casting their vote.

    "But not from us.

    "Because we have a special role in our democracy, and because we will serve whoever is elected."

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!

Anti-Trump Republicans won't change Clinton

    The recent endorsements of Hillary Clinton by Republican party actors are unlikely to affect how she behaves in office if she is elected. Unless, that is, this support changes the way the Republicans themselves behave.

    To assess how Clinton would act as president, look at the promises she is making as a candidate. Not only do politicians try to keep their pledges. Even when they don't, their promises inform how they think about what they are doing and how to explain it to voters.

    These "promises" are more than about specific policies. They also include cues on how a politician will act in office generally, whom she will listen to and, at some level, who she will be. For example, because Clinton is making a big deal of possibly being the first woman president, rather than playing this down, she'll be expected to "be" a woman in office.

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!

Another Trump adviser with deep ties to Russia

    This week Donald Trump released a new roster of economic advisers, including a businessman with extensive investments in Russia who tried to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow. It's the latest in a long list of relationships that give Trump a financial stake in warm U.S.-Russian relations.

    Businessman and investor Howard Lorber already donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory fund, has been named as one of Trump's "best friends" and even appeared once on "The Apprentice." He is also president and chief executive of the Vector Group, a holding company that has various business interests in Russia. In 1996, Lorber brought Trump to Moscow to look for opportunities for Trump to lend his famous name to development projects there.

    "Howard has major investments in Russia," Trump told Russian politician Alexander Ivanovich Lebed after his trip to Moscow with Lorber, according to a 1997 profile of Trump in the New Yorker. "See, they don't know you," Trump told Lorber. "With all that investment, they don't know you. Trump they know."

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 #NeverTrump movement is also #NeverGaryJohnson

    This should be a great moment for libertarians, the GOP's quirky little cousin. After all, the Republican Party went off the rails and nominated a protectionist demagogue who can't stay out of trouble. Only a handful of Republicans are likely to defect and vote for Hillary Clinton. So many conservatives are looking for alternatives.

    You may have heard of these lost souls in the last few months, huddled together under the #NeverTrump umbrella. At first they wanted Mitt Romney to run as the true conservative, but that didn't go anywhere. A few had hoped freshman senator Ben Sasse would take up the cause. That didn't go anywhere either. Now the Never Trumpers are supporting a senior House staffer to carry their banner in November. This campaign is being waged after they tried and failed to enlist David French, a National Review writer and reservist military officer.

    So what about the two former Republican governors, Gary Johnson and William Weld, nominated by a party that espouses limited government and fiscal responsibility? Why can't the Never Trumpers go Libertarian?

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 Ted Cruz is not shaking in his boots

    Republicans are talking about support for a primary challenge to Ted Cruz when he runs for re-election in 2018. I suspect the Texas senator is not shaking in his boots.

    Why not? After all, Republican party actors remain sharply split over him. A small number of movement conservatives consider him a hero, and his presidential run drew considerable support from Republican state legislators and from some party-aligned interest groups. But most everybody else -- especially those who have worked with him in Washington -- still appear vehemently opposed to him.

    Some Republicans may really believe Cruz's defiant "vote your conscience" stance at the convention in Cleveland will matter to Texas voters almost two years from now, and enough so to make them vote against him. Mostly, the Republicans are just using his speech, which they saw as grandstanding, as an excuse to organize 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!

Trump's fairy tale about the fall of Detroit

    Donald Trump all but claims the economic policies of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton caused Detroit's 2013 bankruptcy. In a Monday speech in the Motor City, the Republican nominee said he'd cut taxes, eliminate regulations and negotiate more advantageous trade deals to revive Detroit and help other struggling cities.

    But Trump got both the diagnosis and the prescriptions wrong. Even the United Auto Workers, the union that has seen its ranks decimated because of industry job cuts and foreign competition, seems to agree: It organized protests outside the hall where Trump spoke.

    "Detroit" can mean the U.S. auto industry or it can mean the city. Trump conflated the two in his address, even if he barely mentioned automaking. "The city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent's failed economic agenda," he said, after reeling off statistics on the city's high rates of poverty, crime and unemployment.

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 Ambiguous Wink Wink to ‘Second Amendment People’

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.

    His right-wing opponents just kept delegitimizing him as a “traitor” and “a Nazi” for wanting to make peace with the Palestinians and give back part of the Land of Israel. Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible.

    But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.

    And that’s what the Jewish extremist Yigal Amir did to Rabin. Why not? He thought he had permission from a whole segment of Israel’s political class.

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 can't freeze new rules, and that's good

    Regulatory reform was a big part of Donald Trump's major economic address yesterday, which offered three proposals to reduce excessive regulation. The problem is serious. The proposals aren't.

    First, Trump calls for a temporary moratorium on all federal regulations. For starters, that would be unlawful. Congress has required executive agencies to issue regulations involving air pollution, food safety, consumer protection, and highway safety. The president is not allowed to ignore those requirements. (Disclosure: I was administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012.)

    A moratorium is also a terrible idea. Some regulations are necessary to respond to emergencies, such as outbreaks of infectious diseases, oil spills, unsafe drinking water, dangerous working conditions, and national security challenges at airports and elsewhere.

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 Olympics Make a Grown Man Cry

    Somewhere between the Zika stories, the doping stories and the stories about what a fetid, toxic swamp Rio really is, I got the message: I was supposed to feel cynical about these Olympics, the way we feel cynical about pretty much everything these days.

    I was supposed to marvel at our talent for making messes, cutting corners, evading responsibility, procrastinating. Rio was a testament to that, both as the host of the games and as a sublime, wretched theater of humanity. All the promises we fail to keep, all the plans that go awry: They were and would be on vivid display. I was supposed to shake my head in disgust. Sigh in frustration.

    Instead I cried, and I mean good tears. It was Monday morning, and I was telling someone what he’d missed on Sunday night: how American swimmer Michael Phelps defied age and his own stabs at self-destruction to swim toward yet another gold, in a men’s relay.

    How American gymnast Simone Biles, in the team qualifying round, responded to the gaudy expectations for her not by crumbling but by meeting, even surpassing, every one of 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!