Archive

February 4th, 2016

Sanders' supporters ignore the lessons of Obama

    The sobering reality of Barack Obama's presidency has been the difficulty of achieving the change that he promised. The surprising development of the 2016 campaign is the degree to which a large segment of Democratic voters, at least in the early voting states, appear to have forgotten or rejected that lesson.

    They seem willing to entrust their hopes of retaining the presidency to a candidate envisioning change far more radical than anything Obama ever dangled before them.

    Bernie Sanders' voters remind me of women who, once the baby is delivered, instantly forget the pain of childbirth and are prepared to do it all over again. Except that this analogy fails when it comes to the question of ultimate payoff. Why would voters, after watching Obama's excruciating experience with congressional Republicans, believe that Sanders could deliver his promised "political revolution"?

    For all the fevered Obama-is-a-socialist rhetoric of Republican imaginings, the facts remain that he ran -- and has governed -- largely as a rather centrist, pragmatist Democrat. Sanders is an actual socialist.

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!

February 3rd

Her Father Shot Her in the Head, as an ‘Honor Killing’

    Whether it wins or not, the Oscar nominee with the greatest impact — saving lives of perhaps thousands of girls — may be one you’ve never heard of.

    It stars not Leonardo DiCaprio but a real-life 19-year-old Pakistani woman named Saba Qaiser. Her odyssey began when she fell in love against her family’s wishes and ran off to marry her boyfriend. Hours after the marriage, her father and uncle sweet-talked her into their car and took her to a spot along a riverbank to murder her for her defiance — an “honor killing.”

    First they beat Saba, then her uncle held her as her own father pointed a pistol at her head and pulled the trigger. Blood spewed, Saba collapsed and her father and uncle packed her body into a large sack and threw it into the river to sink. They then drove away, thinking they had restored the family’s good name. 

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!

Jobs are under attack, but not by robots

    This is the second of two excerpts from "The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War," published this month by Princeton University press.

    Does the last decade's slow growth in total factor productivity, which measures innovation, indicate that the dot-com revolution of 1994 to 2004 is unlikely to be repeated? How fast will the U.S. economy grow over the next 25 years?

    Not as fast as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee assert. As techno-optimists, they believe the U.S. is at an inflection point between a past of slow technological change and a future of rapid advances. They remind us that Moore's Law predicts endless exponential growth in the performance of computer chips, yet ignore that chips have fallen behind the predicted pace of Moore's Law since 2005.

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!

Iowa’s Black Caucusgoers

    On Monday, Iowans will become the first people in the nation to officially express their choices for the next president of the United States.

    But what interested me in particular was that a subset of those voters will be black. And since black voters in national polls are overwhelmingly Democratic and overwhelming prefer Hillary Clinton to her rivals, it seemed important to explore how these voters are processing this election cycle and its candidates.

    Over three days in Des Moines — from Friday to Sunday — I interviewed more than 30 black people, and spoke briefly to many more at a black church, a black-owned barbershop, a popular soul food restaurant and at African-American social events.

    My first impression from these conversations was that there existed a staggering level of ambivalence and absence of enthusiasm. A surprising number of people said they were undecided and started an answer with the clause, “If I had to choose ...”

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!

Bush's journey from front-runner to straggler

    The biggest stories of this young political year are the surprising surges of the outsider presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Close behind is the possible collapse of the once-formidable front- runner, Jeb Bush.

    Only a year ago, the Washington cognoscenti, the less politically sophisticated big donors and the London oddsmakers all figured that the son and brother of presidents was a solid favorite to clinch the Republican nomination. Six months ago, the former Florida governor thought he had a real shot at winning Iowa, the first nominating contest. Yet as the state's voters prepare to gather for the traditional caucuses on Monday night, he barely registers in the polls.

    There is already a debate in Republican circles over what went wrong: Was he just a bad candidate? Was he ill-served by the chief strategist of the richly funded Bush super-PAC? Or was this just a bad year for any establishment figure?

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!

What a true cancer 'moonshot' entails

    Like many oncologists and cancer researchers, I rolled my eyes when I first heard about Vice President Biden's cancer "moonshot," but not because of the noble goal. I was among the many people who were deeply sorry to hear about the death of the vice president's son Beau from cancer last year. And I, too, have mourned the untimely deaths from the disease of people close to me. Those of us who care for cancer patients would give nearly anything to be able to cure all those with cancer or, at a minimum, to greatly extend their lives. Today, we can sometimes do this, but sadly those circumstances remain far too limited.

    But a cancer moonshot evokes a sense of deja vu. The 1970s ushered in the War on Cancer, which was largely unsuccessful at generating better treatments. In 2003, it was then-National Cancer Institute head Andrew Von Eschenbachassuring then-Sen. Arlen Specter that, for just $600 million a year, we could rid the world of cancer five years ahead of 2015, the target at that time. Now here were Biden and the Obama administration making another tall promise. Did we really need this again?

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!

Government Keeps Rural West Going

    The 187,000 acres on which sits the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge never belonged to the state of Oregon, much less the band of cowboy exhibitionists who'd taken it over. This and other federal lands were acquired through conquest over, purchases from or treaties with Mexico, Russia, Spain, England, France and Native Americans.

    The federal government lets loggers, ranchers and other businesses make a subsidized living off public land, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. The fees ranchers pay for grazing on federal land are considerably below those charged by private landowners. The government loses money on nearly all timber sales on public land.

    Now that we've gotten this off our chests, let's sympathize with the hardworking people of the rural West, losing a beautiful way of life to harsh economic realities. The growing poverty in the sparsely populated high desert of south central Oregon is shared by communities far from the region's booming cities.

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 GOP’s Holy War

    In the final, furious days of campaigning here, it was sometimes hard to tell whether this state’s Republicans were poised to vote for a president or a preacher, a commander or a crusader.

    The references to religion were expansive. The talk of it was excessive. A few candidates didn’t just profess the supposed purity of their own faith. They questioned rivals’ piety, with Ted Cruz inevitably leading the way.

    A rally of his devolved into an inquisition of Donald Trump. Speakers mocked Trump’s occasional claims of devout Christianity. Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, pointedly recalled Trump’s admission last summer that he never really does penance.

    Cruz, in contrast, “probably gets up every morning and asks God for forgiveness at least a couple of times, even before breakfast,” Perry told the audience.

    The evangelist or the apostate: That’s how the choice was framed. And it underscored the extent to which the Iowa caucuses have turned into an unsettling holy war.

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!

Pictures that are worth a thousand data points

    From recording police shootings and political protests to capturing street style and celebrity selfies, ubiquitous smart-phone cameras have become a new type of media, changing how the public sees the world.

    The same tools are now systematically collecting new kinds of economically valuable data -- peering into hard-to-reach places, identifying emerging trends and providing a check on official numbers. Particularly useful in developing countries, this grassroots data collection may, like the phones themselves, allow formerly lagging countries to leapfrog 20th-century approaches and establish flexible, nuanced and decentralized ways of answering economic questions.

    Founded in 2012, the San Francisco-based startup Premise began by looking for a way to supplement official price indices with a quick-turnaround measure of inflation and relative currency values. It needed "a scalable, cost-effective way to collect a lot of price data," chief executive David Soloff said in an interview. The answer was an Android app and more than 30,000 smart-phone-wielding contractors in 32 countries.

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!

Here’s the Beauty of Trump

    The White House has a strange, mind-warping effect on its occupants.

    Presidents are exalted and fawned over. Their every whim is indulged and their image is endlessly and lovingly replicated on every wall. Reaching the pinnacle of power, raised up on the shoulders of Americans to the highest office, often has the perverse consequence of making presidents more paranoid, introverted, insecure, reckless or downright nuts.

    So what would happen if Donald Trump, a clinical narcissist with a thin skin, touchy temperament and taste for flattery, got into the Oval Office?

    I call Trump to tell him my fears. Given that he already likes to start sentences, “Here’s the beauty of me,” wouldn’t we be risking a narcissistic explosion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

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!