Archive

February 29th, 2016

To beat Trump, stoop to his level

    Is Hillary Clinton ready to rumble against Donald Trump? The nation and the world had better hope so.

    The question is premature but not unreasonably so. Perhaps Bernie Sanders will stun Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic primary this weekend and then pick off a couple of delegate-rich Super Tuesday states. Maybe Trump's main challengers, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, will start training heavy fire on the guy who's running away with the Republican nomination.

    Such things are possible but do not seem very likely. The Democratic Party's process of selecting convention delegates is less democratic than the GOP's; elected officials who serve as "superdelegates" -- and who constitute the party establishment -- give Clinton a substantial built-in advantage. Sanders' big victory in New Hampshire, sandwiched between defeats in Iowa and Nevada, hasn't been enough to start any kind of Obama-style stampede.

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 nation should fight global atrocities alone

    Fifteen years ago, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (I was one of the 12 commissioners) presented the innovative doctrine of the responsibility to protect - widely known as R2P - as the principle around which the world could forge a new consensus on how to rescue civilians under threat of atrocities.

    No one would claim that the world has been free of mass atrocities since then. Yet no country has called for R2P to be rolled back, and it would be unlikely that such a call would be heeded by the United Nations. Those competing tensions sum up the indispensable attraction and considerable limitations of R2P.

    R2P both reflected and contributed to the shift from power competition between nations toward international norms as the pivot on which history turns. But it has not made this competition obsolete. Major powers will still try to muscle into regions and exploit one another's weaknesses at the expense of small states in the world's hotspots.

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!

Biden and the Supreme Court vacancy

    In a television interview the other night, Vice President Joe Biden was asked point-blank whether, if President Obama asked him to accept nomination to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's death, would he say yes. This was his response:

    "You never say to a president for certain you wouldn't do anything, but I have no..." -- here he leaned over into the face of interviewer Rachel Maddow -- "look at me now: I have no desire to sit on the Supreme Court. None."

    Maddow, the MSNBC liberal advocate, seemed to accept that, and then asked him: "Who do you think the president should pick?"

    Biden replied: "I haven't even had a chance to sit down with him yet to talk about the potential candidates. When we do, as in the past, (we will) lay out all the people, go out and survey a little bit and see who we think -- who meets those criteria and we think could have a chance of being confirmed."

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 we can now declare the end of 'Christian America'

    Political elections are as much about those doing the electing as it is about those eventually elected. If each vote represents what a voter believes and hopes for, then the person elected is really a magnification of the desires voters happen to have.

    This is why national elections are so fascinating. Every four years, Americans collectively paint and present to the world a picture that communicates their aspirations and fears. It is a picture that enables us to see the character of a nation.

    When I first moved from Canada to the United States 30 years ago, I was told repeatedly that America is a Christian nation. It isn't simply that America has many self-professing Christians living within its borders. The identity of America as a whole, its history and its destiny, are somehow tied to Christianity.

    Political leaders feel the need to appear Christian, say Christian-sounding things, show up at Christian institutions, and end their speeches with "God bless America!" American money proclaims "In God we trust." What could be more Christian than 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!

Trump is the GOP's Frankenstein monster. Now he's strong enough to destroy the party.

    When the plague descended on Thebes, Oedipus sent his brother-in-law to the Delphic oracle to discover the cause. Little did he realize that the crime for which Thebes was being punished was his own. Today's Republican Party is our Oedipus. A plague has descended on the party in the form of the most successful demagogue-charlatan in the history of U.S. politics. The party searches desperately for the cause and the remedy without realizing that, like Oedipus, it is the party itself that brought on this plague. The party's own political crimes are being punished in a bit of cosmic justice fit for a Greek tragedy.

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 useful side of Trump

    If the durability of Donald Trump's presidential candidacy has taken the political world by surprise, the sources of his electoral strength are no mystery. And the support he's winning reflects a crisis not only for the Republican and conservative coalitions, but also for the political system as a whole.

    Let it be said that Trump is not (yet) winning support from anything close to a majority of Americans. On the contrary, polling shows that a significant majority of Americans are anti-Trump. His unfavorable ratings have reached or approached 60 percent in many surveys.

    But as the results from Tuesday's Nevada caucuses confirmed again, Trump has built a large constituency inside the Republican Party based on a set of positions that marry two streams of thought not typically brought together by liberal or conservative politicians.

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!

Terrorism or genocide? We should be fighting both.

    The international norm of Responsibility to Protect -- R2P for short -- was devised to protect populations from atrocities, to reinforce that every state has the obligation to protect its citizens, and to guide the international community in helping them do so. In 2005, more than 150 United Nations member states formally endorsed by consensus the principles of the R2P and limited the focus of potential humanitarian intervention to four mass-atrocity crimes: genocide, major war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

    The past several years have shown that states do not have a monopoly on carrying out mass atrocities: Non-state actors and terrorist groups like the Islamic State, Boko Haram in West Africa and al-Shabab in the Horn of Africa region have also been perpetrators of heinous violence. However, R2P's focus on the responsibilities and actions of states limits the international community's ability to respond to these crimes. To fulfill the purpose it was meant for, the international responsibility to protect must evolve to also address populations that are suffering the brunt of terroristic, genocidal non-state actors.

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!

Rubio can't afford his truce with 'nice' Trump

    Sen. Marco Rubio is terrified of Donald Trump.

    How else to explain his failure to take on the Republican front-runner? He says he wants to be positive and unite the party with his vision for the country.

    "I didn't run for office to tear up other Republicans," the Florida senator said on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday morning, after he came in a distant second to the Donald in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday.

    He seems to believe he has a non-aggression pact with the billionaire. And Trump's pretty much left him alone -- though he has unkindly drawn attention to the senator's perspiration -- indicating that he'll be nice to Rubio as long as Rubio is nice to him. Rubio wants to keep it that way.

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!

Obama could taunt the Senate as Roosevelt did

    President Barack Obama insisted that his post to Scotusblog on Wednesday about his criteria for a Supreme Court nominee was "spoiler free." But he may have been protesting a bit too much. Obama wrote that he sought a justice with "life experience outside the courtroom or the classroom," which possible nominees like Judge Sri Srinivasan of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit arguably lack. Then, later in the day, someone in the administration leaked a highly untraditional candidate, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, who has political life experience and was also a federal district judge for four years.

    It's impossible to know whether Sandoval's name is being floated just to taunt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who has vowed not to consider any Obama nominee. But if Sandoval were nominated, it wouldn't be the first time a president nominated a justice mostly to send an "Oh, yeah?" message to the Senate.

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, your coffee capsules aren't killing the planet

    Drowsy German bureaucrats in Hamburg will soon have one less option for a mid-afternoon caffeine jolt, after the city banned single-serve coffee machines such as Nespresso from government buildings. The new regulations have a worthy purpose. They hope to defend the environment, under the assumption that the use and disposal of thousands of tiny coffee capsules or pods leads to "unnecessary resource consumption and waste generation."

    A backlash against coffee pods has been, ahem, brewing for awhile. According to a statistic cited by everyone from the Atlantic magazine to National Public Radio, Green Mountain spit out 8.5 billion of its K-cup coffee pods in 2013 -- enough to circle the Earth 10.5 times. Campaigns, petitions, and high-minded op-eds have attacked such profligacy, turning the humble coffee pod into an environmental bogeyman on par with bottled water.

    But lost amid this fervor is any perspective about how to measure the environmental impact of the stuff we consume. There's a real question whether high-profile product bans -- of water bottles, plastic bags or coffee capsules -- risk causing more damage than they prevent.

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!