Archive

July 6th, 2016

Comey reasserts his independence

    Law enforcement officials tend to inhabit a universe that is both binary and terse: Prosecute or don't prosecute. Let the facts in the indictment speak for themselves. No further comment.

    So the remarks by FBI Director James Comey accompanying his announcement that he would not recommend bringing charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were, as he acknowledged, "unusual." Indeed, that word scarcely captures what happened. Comey's comments were an extraordinary, important and, on balance, justifiable departure from normal practice. Clinton may not be better off for them, but the country is.

    The decision not to bring charges was the correct one, but a simple announcement to that effect would have deprived the public -- deprived voters who are being asked to choose a president -- of any understanding of the judgment underlying that determination. It would have kept hidden from public view information that is insufficient to support criminal charges but that many voters may deem relevant to their assessment of Clinton's fitness for the presidency -- and that they can test against Clinton's own, often contradictory account.

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 can thank Obama for a neutral FBI

    FBI Director James Comey said today that there will be no indictments stemming from Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail account while she was secretary of State. Clinton, campaigning with President Barack Obama in North Carolina, has Obama in part to thank.

    Specifically, she can thank both Obama's high ethics and his broad disregard for his critics. During his administration, Republicans have accused Obama of all manner of corruption. Yet Obama felt so little to fear from legitimate investigation that in 2013 he appointed a Republican, Comey, to head the FBI. Comey delivered a bracing rebuke to Clinton today, calling her conduct "extremely careless." But he also ended Republican dreams of a Clinton indictment.

    "Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," he said, "our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

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 decapitation will not be televised

    One of the most popular tropes in dystopian fiction is the "violent spectacle." Immortalized in recent years by The Hunger Games series, the concept is simple: A corrupt society uses some public display or broadcast of violence to manipulate the masses.

    But it's never been purely fiction. The concept of providing the masses with an experience of intentionally shared violence has, from time to time, also surfaced in the real world. In its heyday, the Roman Colosseum hosted mock battles and public executions that drew massive crowds. And during France's Reign of Terror, tens of thousands were executed, many of whom in public, with the clear intent to intimidate.

    But only recently have we seen a quantum leap toward what fiction writers, since at least the 1960s, have been imagining in the "not-too-distant future": broadcast technologies that allow violent spectacle to be commoditized and streamed directly into people's homes.

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 white supremacist tweets aren't the problem. They're a symptom of the problem.

    We get worked up about a lot of silly stuff in presidential campaigns, micro-controversies driven by faux outrage that are inevitably forgotten in a couple of days once the next micro-controversy comes along. On first glance, that's what the kerfuffle over Donald Trump's latest Twitter hijinks - once again, passing on something from white supremacists - looks like. After all, should we really care what's in Trump's Twitter feed, when we're talking about our country's future? The answer is that we should care, but it's not about the tweet. The tweet isn't the problem, the tweet is the result of the problem.

    In case you haven't heard, here's what we're talking about, from The Post's David Weigel:

    "It was so close to the message that Republicans say they want from Donald Trump: a tweet describing Hillary Clinton as "crooked" and the "most corrupt candidate ever," on the morning that the likely Democratic presidential nominee met with the FBI.

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, Trade and Workers

    Donald Trump gave a speech on economic policy last week. Just about every factual assertion he made was wrong, but I’m not going to do a line-by-line critique. What I want to do, instead, is talk about the general thrust: the candidate’s claim to be on the side of American workers.

    Of course, that’s what they all say. But Trumponomics goes beyond the usual Republican assertions that cutting taxes on corporations and the rich, ending environmental regulation and so on will conjure up the magic of the marketplace and make everyone prosper. It also involves posing as a populist, claiming that getting tough on foreigners and ripping up our trade agreements will bring back the well-paying jobs America has lost.

    That’s a departure, although not as much as you may think — people forget that Mitt Romney similarly threatened a trade war with China during the 2012 campaign. Still, it was interesting to see a Republican presidential candidate name-check not just Bernie Sanders but the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, which has long been critical of globalization.

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 US can't ignore Russia, or its increasingly horrendous behavior

    The U.S.-Russia relationship is too big to fail, but it's failing.

    The Obama administration came into office with a big idea about this relationship: that these two world powers must work together on areas of mutual interest even if they still worked against each other where their interests diverged. The concept was sound, but as relations have deteriorated and Russia has taken a more antagonistic stance, the United States has failed to adapt.

    Last week's revelation that the administration is proposing increased military cooperation with Russia in Syria, in exchange for Russian agreement to abide by the cease-fire it had already agreed to, was a stark example of how the administration's theory about how to work with Russia is being misapplied on the ground. Washington is offering Moscow both a reprieve from the political and military isolation it imposed after the invasion of Ukraine - and a reward for taking unilateral military action designed to undermine U.S. policy in Syria.

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!

Giving Clinton Her Due

    It is easy in an election cycle that has seen the improbable rise of the preposterous presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump to center all discussion about the race on him: how poorly he’s doing, how outrageous this week’s comments were, how damning a new investigative report into his past has proved.

    But doing so exposes a bias toward the sensational, underselling another rather remarkable story, at least for the month of June: Hillary Clinton ran an incredibly strong campaign last month.

    First, let’s start with the obvious. As Gallup pointed out last week: “Trump and Clinton are currently among the worst-rated presidential candidates of the last seven decades.” But the article continued: “In the race to the bottom, however, Trump’s 42 percent highly unfavorable score easily outpaces Clinton’s 33 percent. Prior to now, 1964 Republican nominee Barry Goldwater had the highest negative score, with 26 percent rating him highly unfavorably in October 1964.”

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!

Cataclysm in a Cheetos bag

    A barnstorm tour of Texas on a soggy week in May deposited me at a treasured place: a particular tennis court, opposite a particular racquet-bearing friend.

    It’s where we had gathered weekly for years, the essence of effort being the sweat and not the score.

    And so we perspired once more, though more from the mugginess than the athleticsm. History-making monsoons had left much of the state submerged. Once-destitute reservoirs cried rivers of joy.

    That tennis court is in a wonderful place, a tree-lined park with a jogging path and a playground abutting a grade school. But that day something was annoying me. It was not my backhand.

    It was a pile of trash.

    Over in my corner of the court (my friend and I have never changed sides in our “matches” – too much exertion), a winter’s worth of debris had assembled.

    As a picture, it was a still-life of a throw-away society.

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!

A declaration against the war on drugs

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one part of the American people to affirm the political bands which connect them to the other parts, and to assume within the nation, the connected and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of their fellow citizens requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to affirm their connection.

    We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among us, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and, if they choose the path of alteration, to abandon old and institute new legislation, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing the powers of government in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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!

July 5th

The Terrorists the Saudis Cultivate in Peaceful Countries

            First, a three-part quiz:

            Which Islamic country celebrates as a national hero a 15th-century Christian who battled Muslim invaders?

            Which Islamic country is so pro-American it has a statue of Bill Clinton and a women’s clothing store named “Hillary” on Bill Klinton Boulevard?

            Which Islamic country has had more citizens go abroad to fight for the Islamic State per capita than any other in Europe?

            The answer to each question is Kosovo, in southeastern Europe — and therein lies a cautionary tale. Whenever there is a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, we look to our enemies like the Islamic State or al-Qaida. But perhaps we should also look to our “friends,” like Saudi Arabia.

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!