Archive

October 30th, 2015

Iraq war remains politically fateful, 12 years on

    A dozen years after the invasion of Iraq, it continues to cast a shadow over the 2016 presidential campaigns in both major parties. Republican and Democratic candidates alike who took opposing positions on it in 2003 can anticipate partisan demands that they hash over again the controversial adventure whose ramifications remain at the core of American foreign policy.

    In the GOP, establishment candidate Jeb Bush, whose brother as president launched the war based on the mistaken contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, has a quandary. Is it wise to use his family members and name to rescue a campaign stalled in the polls?

    Earlier this week, amid announced staff cutbacks, his campaign recruited the two former President Bushes for a two-day strategy and fund-raising meeting in Houston to assess how to snap out of the doldrums. The hope is that George W. Bush's war of choice in Iraq will somehow recede in memory.

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!

Instead of Pardoning a Turkey, Obama Should Free This Man

    As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve got a suggestion for President Barack Obama.

    Instead of following the White House tradition and “pardoning“ a turkey destined for a holiday dinner table, Obama should extend that courtesy to some of the thousands of human beings caged up in America’s federal prisons.

    Leonard Peltier should be one of them.

    Peltier was a Native American activist on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s. On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents went to Pine Ridge to look for a young man named Jimmy Eagle, who was wanted for robbery. Soon after they spotted his car, a shootout ensued.

    Both agents and one of the occupants of the car were killed. A later shootout at the gunman’s home ended in two more deaths.

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!

Don’t Let Them Blind You with Their Science

    When I first began researching agriculture, I had no idea how organic farming worked. I saw it as a somewhat backward yet non-toxic and desirable way to grow food.

    Organic farmers didn’t use fertilizer, I figured, so maybe the plants would be smaller. And they didn’t use pesticides, so I’d have to settle for some damage to my food — and I’d pay more for the privilege.

    As for the people who thought organic agriculture produced better, healthier food than conventional farming, I figured they were nuts. That sounded like magical thinking to me. Did organic farmers grow food using fairies and rainbows?

    The notion that organic farming is at odds with modern science is an attitude I’ve heard repeated many times, even by organic activists. “We just need to go back and grow food how we used to,” they’ll say.

    Today, I fundamentally disagree. Organic agriculture is best achieved using cutting-edge science and technology.

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's big-name endorsements sway voters

    Hillary Clinton picked up another high- profile endorsement Tuesday, this time from liberal Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. She can add him to the October list, which includes Sens. Thomas Carper of Delaware and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Govs. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Jack Markell of Delaware.

    Clinton has proved to be strong with liberals, as Vox's Dylan Matthews explains, yet has also pulled in backers across ideological, geographical and ethnic lines.

    Endorsements might affect voters in a direct and an indirect way, as Seth Masket of The Washington Post's Wonkblog explained. First, voters can consciously seek the views of opinion leaders. Second, the visible endorsements (such as from governors and senators) indicate broader party support, and that, in turn, provides important resources to favored candidates. As Masket notes, there's evidence that both of these theories are correct, depending on circumstances.

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!

Are police turning camera shy?

    Some police say the stress of always being seen in a negative light in the post-Ferguson era is taking its toll. I am tempted as the father of a young African-American male to say, join the club.

    Since I have great respect for police and for my son, my advice to both is basically the same: Try to be less suspicious.

    Speaking to the International Association of Chiefs of Police meeting in Chicago, FBI Director James Comey doubled down Monday on his controversial remarks last week about a "Ferguson effect" or a "YouTube effect."

    Those labels describe the possibility that a rise in violent crime in some cities over the past year may be the result of less aggressive policing in the wake of high-profile and sometimes video-recorded killings of black men by police.

    "Ferguson effect" refers to the national eruption of controversy that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., followed by the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others at the hands of officers.

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 theory of the 2016 conservative apocalypse

    Why so glum?

    Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson is the latest to ponder the apocalyptic cloud hovering over conservative America, warning that the morbid oratory of the Republican presidential campaign is making the party ill.

    It's a hard-knock, catastrophic life out there on the hustings. Christianity is criminalized (Mike Huckabee), the White House is "the world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism" (Ted Cruz), and the likely Democratic nominee for president "believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts" (Chris Christie). And that's just a sampling from the last Republican debate. In this crowd, the nightmares of Ben Carson and Donald Trump, the main targets of Gerson's essay, are superfluous.

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!

Telling Mideast Negotiators, ‘Have a Nice Life’

    In the New York Times review of the American Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross’ important new history of Israeli-U.S. relations, “Doomed to Succeed,” a telling moment on the eve of the 1991 Madrid peace conference caught my attention. The Palestinian delegation had raised some last-minute reservations with the secretary of state, James A. Baker III. Baker was livid and told the Palestinians before walking out on them: “With you people, the souk never closes, but it is closed with me. Have a nice life.”

    I was struck because that kind of straight talk has been all too absent from U.S. Middle East diplomacy lately. Israelis and Palestinians — way too long at war — are trapped in political hothouses of their own making, incapable of surprising each other with anything positive, and desperately in need of a friendly third-party dose of common sense.

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!

Hillary would not be pilloried

    As Tim Murphy observed in piece in Mother Jones, Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Benghazi Committee lasted, among other things, longer than the Anglo-Zanzibar War, the lifespan of a female mayfly, and, more onerously, the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy on screen.

    And I couldn’t even get through “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

    To see Clinton endure it all in one take, almost 11 hours without scene changes or a stunt double — the same claims over and over, the same accusations that have been on a Fox News loop for three years – it wasn’t good cinema. It was, however, illustrative, just not in the way Republicans hoped.

    Clinton wasn’t exactly Mel Gibson on the rack in “Braveheart,” but she was an amazing study in fortitude and forbearance in the face of withering petulance.

    Yes, Republican partisans had been planning this effort for days, weeks, months, years to undermine Clinton’s presidential aims. What they made her look was – yes — presidential.

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 Valeant Pharmaceuticals the Next Enron?

    Valeant Pharmaceuticals is a sleazy company.

    Although it existed before 2010, it did a deal that year that put it on the map. The deal was with Biovail, one of Canada’s largest drugmakers — and a company that had run afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    In 2008, the SEC sued Biovail for “repeatedly” overstating earnings and “actively” misleading investors. Biovail settled the case for $10 million.

    As it happens, 2008 was the same year that a management consultant named J. Michael Pearson became Valeant’s chief executive. Pearson had an unusual idea about how to grow a modern pharmaceutical company. The pharma business model has long called for a hefty percentage of revenue to be spent on company scientists who try to develop new drugs. The failure rate is high — but a successful new drug can generate over $1 billion in annual revenue, which makes up for a lot of failures.

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!

October 28th

Is Valeant Pharmaceuticals the Next Enron?

    Valeant Pharmaceuticals is a sleazy company.

    Although it existed before 2010, it did a deal that year that put it on the map. The deal was with Biovail, one of Canada’s largest drugmakers — and a company that had run afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    In 2008, the SEC sued Biovail for “repeatedly” overstating earnings and “actively” misleading investors. Biovail settled the case for $10 million.

    As it happens, 2008 was the same year that a management consultant named J. Michael Pearson became Valeant’s chief executive. Pearson had an unusual idea about how to grow a modern pharmaceutical company. The pharma business model has long called for a hefty percentage of revenue to be spent on company scientists who try to develop new drugs. The failure rate is high — but a successful new drug can generate over $1 billion in annual revenue, which makes up for a lot of failures.

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!