Archive

July 14th, 2016

Russia has the most boring election of 2016

    The thrilling spectacles offered by the U.S. presidential election, the U.K. referendum on leaving the European Union and even Austria's cliffhanger presidential vote have overshadowed an election campaign in Russia, which will get a new parliament on Sept. 18. That's because, even though they have all the the trappings of democracy, the Russian elections are mostly theater, whose actors are shadows from the country's brief experiment with competitive politics.

    In theory, the elections shouldn't be boring. The previous ones, in 2011, gave rise to the most meaningful and vigorous protests against Vladimir Putin's corrupt system of his more than 15 years in power. Then, tens of thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest what they saw as the falsification of vote results: Statistical analysis suggested that United Russia, the pro-Putin party, owed its majority to widespread ballot-stuffing.

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 13th

After assassination of police officers, Trump says the right thing

    Thursdayv night, snipers killed five police officers and wounded seven others at an otherwise peaceful rally protesting recent police shootings. Not much is known about the attackers, but at a presser Friday morning, the Dallas police chief said one attacker had indicated during a standoff that "he said he was upset about the recent police shootings," and that "the suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers."

    Friday Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton canceled their events, but Trump issued a measured statement this morning expressing condolences for the victims, and adding these remarks:

    "We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.

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!

Republicans bungle the gift in FBI's Clinton report

    Say this for Donald Trump: He can make political hay with whatever is at hand.

    His unique skills were highlighted by the ham-handed Republicans in Congress, who spent their time on the fruitless task of trying to prove that FBI Director James Comey's recommendation not to indict Hillary Clinton was evidence of bias. Trump, meanwhile, is concentrating on what Comey said, not what he didn't do.

    On Tuesday, Trump dramatized Comey's findings, zeroing in on the destruction of more than 30,000 emails that Clinton's lawyer unilaterally deemed personal. As President Barack Obama embarked on his first campaign trip with Clinton, extolling how qualified she was for his job, Trump said the only thing she is good at "is getting out of trouble."

    It's true that she has a talent for dodging bullets. Just look at Whitewater, Troopergate, cattle futures, Paula Jones, the Travel Office firings, the Lewinsky scandal, the Mark Rich pardon and furniture being moved out, and back into, the White House.

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!

One reason so many veterans are homeless? They can't afford lawyers.

    David Garrett returned home from war to find he had no home. A disabled veteran from Maine who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Garrett soon fell into homelessness. After almost a year of camping out, he found an apartment he could afford by negotiating a deal in which he paid lower rent in exchange for paying four months in advance. When his landlord sold the building, the new owner said he found no evidence of Garrett's prepaid rent and tried to evict him. Facing homelessness once more, Garrett needed a housing solution. But to get one, he urgently needed something else: a lawyer.

    With nearly 50,000 veterans sleeping on the streets each night, it's clear we are failing to serve those who have served our country. But the solution isn't as obvious as it might seem. Veterans don't need simply more doctors and shelter beds; new research shows that veterans need lawyers to fight on their behalf as well.

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!

My heart was heavy after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Dallas broke it.

    If my heart was heavy after the police-involved shootings of African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota, waking up to the news of the slaughter of police officers in Dallas has broken it.

    What was a peaceful protest in Texas's third-largest city was marred by an ambush that reportedly included a madman with a racist vendetta. "He said he was upset about the recent police shootings," Dallas Police Chief David Brown said. "The suspect said he was upset at white people. The suspect stated he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers."

    In the end, five police officers were killed and seven others injured. And this nation has forever been scarred at a critical time.

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!

House loses the chance to air Clinton's misdeeds

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had the perfect stage when it brought in FBI Director James Comey on Thursday for a hearing on Hillary Clinton's emails. The panel's Republican members could have pressed him to detail what he had called Clinton's "extreme carelessness" in using a personal communications system to conduct her work as secretary of state. Comey had reams of material to refer to, had they cared to ask.

    Instead, House Republicans chose to browbeat the FBI director for his decision not to indict her. As a result, most of Comey's time was spent defending himself -- in effect, making the case that Clinton's actions were not as bad as House Republicans believed.

    In other words, Republicans overreached once again. Why did they do this, since that general strategy has backfired on them in the past? I'll offer three theories.

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!

Freedom and democracy are receding around the world

    The economic dangers of Britain's exit from the European Union are probably exaggerated. Britain is in a bit of trouble, since falling real estate prices might spark a recession there. But it seems unlikely that the spillover to the global economy will be severe. British trade policy probably won't change much, and extremists in the U.K. Independence Party, which spearheaded the "leave" campaign, are unlikely to take power. The EU itself is on shaky ground, but that was just as true before "Brexit."

    Brexit's real importance probably comes not from its direct effects, but from its symbolism. It's a sign of a much bigger, broader trend -- a global political regime change. The shift was happening before Brexit, and it will continue after. It's something we should be worried about.

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!

For too many, the job market isn't working

    For all the encouraging headlines that the strong June jobs report has generated, it also illustrates a major challenge for the U.S. economy: Too many people are still not working or not even trying to find work.

    The malaise can be remedied, if we can find the political will.

    Despite the robust job growth of the past six years, people still aren't participating in the labor force the way they used to. As of June, just 62.7 percent of the population had a job -- up a bit from the previous month, but still almost 5 percentage points below the 2000 peak.

    One explanation is demographic: As the population ages, a larger percentage will naturally be retired. This explains about half of the decline in participation, and will keeping putting downward pressure on participation -- particularly as the baby-boom generation crosses the retirement threshold. The Congressional Budget Office expects the labor-force participation rate to decline another 2 percentage points by 2026.

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!

Dallas and American 'contradictions'

    Some people on the Internet seem to be confused. "In the aftermath of twelve people being tragically shot for no reason in Dallas," they wonder, "how will Black Lives Matter be able to continue being upset about people getting tragically shot for no reason in other places?"

    "How will the Black Lives Matter movement square its criticism of police with this deadly shooting of five police officers?" It doesn't seem hard. Its agenda is "people don't deserve to be shot for no reason" and that the category of "people who don't deserve to be shot for no reason" explicitly includes black people.

    There's no contradiction here.

    Other people are busy being eloquent with grief and rage, but I can at least make some analogies to help explain why this line of thinking is bad. There is such a thing as constructive criticism.

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!

Can Americans hold ourselves together as a people?

    Without a doubt, we Americans are in a bad way. The senseless deaths this week in Baton Rouge, La., Falcon Heights, Minn., and now Dallas are devastating beyond comprehension for the victims and their families. Each shooting is also an act in a shared national tragedy. The problems go down to the very roots.

    The question of whether as a country we are headed in the right or wrong direction can no longer be answered simply with reference to policy matters such as the economy, education or foreign relations. Instead we face the fundamental question of whether we, the people, as a single people, are holding together and can hold together.

    What has brought us here? You will be skeptical of my answer but in the years since I published a book called "Talking to Strangers," I have been watching the course we were on and I keep coming back to the same answer. I truly believe that the war on drugs is responsible for the level of violence in our cities, the militarization of the police, a concomitant distortion of policing habits and a process of degradation of inner-city minority communities that is now decades-long.

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!