Archive

June 22nd, 2016

Why I Was Wrong About Welfare Reform

   In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed a controversial compromise bill for welfare reform, promising to “end welfare as we know it.”

    I was sympathetic to that goal at the time, but I’ve decided that I was wrong. What I’ve found in my reporting over the years is that welfare “reform” is a misnomer and that cash welfare is essentially dead, leaving some families with children utterly destitute.

    Every year I hold a “win a trip” contest to choose a university student to accompany me on a reporting trip to cover global poverty in places like Congo or Myanmar. This year we decided to journey as well to Tulsa, in the heartland of America, because the embarrassing truth is that welfare reform has resulted in a layer of destitution that echoes poverty in countries like Bangladesh.

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 danger we can confront

    Along came the alligator.

    A horrifying story at the end of a horrifying stretch, a heartbreaking coda befitting a nation on perpetual edge.

    That the story would go viral was guaranteed: a 2-year-old grabbed, his father trying in vain to fight off the primordial beast, an unforeseen danger lurking in what is supposed to be the happiest place on earth.

    It is human nature to be mesmerized by such a tale. In the early days of cable news, we could not avert our national gaze from Jessica McClure, the 18-month-old who fell into a well in her aunt's backyard in Midland, Texas. Baby Jessica's rescue was the subject of round-the-clock coverage during the 58 hours workers labored frantically to free her.

    Decades before came the Lindbergh Baby, snatched from his crib at 20 months, his decomposed body found two months later, after a tabloid frenzy and a nationwide manhunt, just five miles from home.

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!

Is the gun lobby finally cornered?

    A political crisis is usually preceded by an intellectual and moral crisis. Dominant ideas that once seemed to hang together lose their hold when they are exposed as contradictory and incoherent.

     Similarly, moral claims made on behalf of a worldview can, gradually or suddenly, come to be seen as empty. Demoralization comes before defeat.

    This is what happened in the Soviet Union. A corrupt and dictatorial system fell for many reasons, but its demise became inevitable when even those with an interest in mouthing the old slogans and defending the old ideology came to realize that almost everyone around them thought they were extolling bunk.

    But a crisis can also develop around particular issues in democratic countries. This is what's happening now to those who maintain an absolutist position in opposing all new measures to limit the use of firearms.

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!

Double jeopardy? Gay Muslims in America

    One day in the late 1950s on a golf course with actor-comedian Jack Benny, song-and-dance man Sammy Davis Jr. was asked what was his handicap. "Talk about handicap," said Davis, according to various sources. "I'm a one-eyed Negro Jew."

    Right. Beat that for a handicap.

    Davis was an African-American convert to Judaism who lost an eye in an auto accident. But Davis' refusal to let any obstacle block his way to stardom became an inspiration for the world.

    Times change. Davis' story came back to mind after the Sunday early-morning massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Suddenly Muslim Imam (minister) Daayiee Abdullah became one of the most sought-after clergy in America.

    Abdullah, 62, is this country's first openly gay imam. Born Sidney Thompson to a black Baptist family in Detroit, the former public interest lawyer directs the Mecca Institute, an online learning and research center in Washington, D.C., for those seeking "more expansive and inclusive interpretations" of Islamic texts.

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 gives Hillary Clinton her cause

    The political context around Hillary Clinton has changed. Until now, complaints about her have pervaded public commentary, usually with a predictable refrain. In a May podcast, former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart couldn't find much good to say about the next leader of the Democratic Party.

    He imagined Hillary Clinton, he said, "to be a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions, because I'm not even sure what they are."

    It was hardly an original damnation. Clinton has long been perceived and portrayed as a cautious, calculating, programmed talking-points bot, a grind churning personal ambition into political power, a transactional politician who lacks the inspirational lift that Democrats admire in Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

    In The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza said that Stewart had "perfectly diagnosed" the problem with Clinton's candidacy.

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!

America's greatest shame

    In the wake of the latest example of this country's most egregious distinction -- its continuing acquiescence in mass gun violence -- a visibly fed-up President Obama made yet another grief-bearing visit last week, calling on the survivors of victims of the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.

    Perhaps to emphasize his sorrow, he was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, whose own life has been visited at least twice by family loss, and who wears his heart on his sleeve. They traveled separately to Orlando in keeping with the long-held policy that the president and his elected standby not risk both being lost in a plane crash or other tragedy.

    It was Biden to whom Obama turned for a solution after the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 20 little kids and six adults. Many Americans thought or hoped then it finally would so shock and outrage the public, and Congress, to take meaningful action against this national sickness.

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 knows nothing about the successes of minority youths

    "Ignoramus," according to Merriam-Webster, was the name of a fictional 17th-century lawyer who regarded himself as rather shrewd when, in fact, he was quite foolish and ignorant. Enter Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who denounced U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel as too biased to oversee lawsuits involving Trump University because the judge was, as Trump referred to him, "a Mexican."

    Senior Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, former chairman of the U.S. Fine Arts Commission Harry G. Robinson III, D.C. venture capitalist James L. Hudson, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NBC4 news anchor Jim Vance, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Wade Henderson, D.C. elder statesman Carl Anderson, former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. Council member Brandon Todd, BET founder Robert Johnson and more than 150,000 members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, including this lifetime member and columnist, have another name for Curiel: We call him "Brother."

    Trump, no surprise, again was loud and 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!

Trump in the Dumps

    He won’t pivot. So I have to.

    Having seen Donald Trump as a braggadocious but benign celebrity in New York for decades, I did not regard him as the apotheosis of evil. He seemed more like a toon, a cocky huckster swanning around Gotham with a statuesque woman on his arm and skyscrapers stamped with his brand. I certainly never would have predicted that the Trump name would be uttered in the same breath as Hitler, Mussolini and scary menace, even on such pop culture staples as “The Bachelorette.”

    Trump jumped into the race with an eruption of bigotry, ranting about Mexican rapists and a Muslim ban. But privately, he assured people that these were merely opening bids in the negotiation; that he was really the same pragmatic New Yorker he had always been; that he would be a flexible, wheeling-and-dealing president, not a crazy nihilist like Ted Cruz or a mean racist like George Wallace. He yearned to be compared to Ronald Reagan, a former TV star who overcame a reputation for bellicosity and racial dog whistles to become the most beloved Republican president of modern times.

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 Republicans’ Big Hot Mess

    In normal times, a party’s leaders and comers grovel for roles in the convention and prime time on its stage.

    In the Year of Trump, Republicans are racing for the exits. It’s as if the Emerald City suddenly turned into Chernobyl. The list of luminaries who plan to skip Donald Trump’s coronation in Cleveland includes the 2012 nominee (Mitt Romney), the 2008 nominee (John McCain) and the two-term president who preceded them, George W. Bush. The Bushes en masse are taking a pass.

    Small wonder that one of Trump’s advisers recently suggested that the candidate not wait until the climactic hour to deliver his remarks but, in a break with precedent, speak every single night. Not just double Donald. No mere triple Trump. Four luscious scoops of him.

    It’s an idea where narcissism meets necessity. And it’s reason to take that trip to the Arctic Circle that you’ve long fantasized about. Make sure that you’re beyond the range of the internet, and think about staying through Nov. 8.

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!

How to cover Trump honestly and fairly: A style guide

    This Style Guide to Covering Trump Honestly and Fairly is too late for me, since I work at The Post, which has had its credentials revoked by the Trump campaign. But it may not be too late for you, other members of the media! Please read and implement!

 

The Pillars of Covering Trump:

    1. Donald Trump is never wrong.

    Donald Trump is infallible -- like the pope but with more raw sexual charisma. If Donald Trump appears to be wrong in a story, either because of a statement or an action, or some combination of the two, it should be rewritten so that he is not wrong. A good baseline for what is fair and honest coverage is that fair and honest coverage depicts Donald Trump as the shining, golden god he is, envied of men and beloved of women. Unfair, dishonest coverage does not depict Donald Trump this 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!