Archive

November 27th, 2016

Don't fall into the infrastructure trap

    As the White House official responsible for overseeing implementation of President Barack Obama's massive infrastructure initiative, the 2009 Recovery Act, I've got a simple message for Democrats who are embracing President-elect Donald Trump's infrastructure plan: Don't do it. It's a trap. Backing Trump's plan is a mistake in policy and political judgment they will regret, as did their Democratic predecessors who voted for Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981 and George W. Bush's cuts in 2001.

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!

Dancing in a Hurricane

    Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union followed by Donald Trump’s election in the U.S. constitute a single giant political event — one that makes 2016 a vintage year in history that will long be studied. Big political events have big causes. For the last three years I’ve been working on a book about what’s been happening beneath the surface — in the plumbing and wiring of the world — that’s roiling politics in so many places. My answer begins with a question: What the hell happened in and around 2007?

    2007? That’s such an innocuous year. But look 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!

Better post-election bubbles designed for people not satisfied with the results

    OK, you could live through the next four years. But if you have money and imagination, and are not afraid of robots, why not try one of these theme parks, cleverly designed for people not satisfied with the results of the election? We will deposit you there by helicopter and see to your every need. It is fine to live in a bubble if you pay for the privilege of living in that bubble and the security of that bubble is guaranteed by a sinister corporation.

    Pastworld: This magical world transports you to the American Past, where women and minorities DEFINITELY lack the rights that only might be jeopardized under a Donald Trump presidency. But, hey, you get to see passenger pigeons, and the uncertainty is gone.

    Trumpworld: This is our cheapest bubble package. You will still have to live through a Trump presidency, but none of the news stories you read about it will be correct.

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!

To resist a Trump presidency, ask, 'What would the abolitionists do?'

    In the days since the election, there have been many calls for anti-Trump forces to remain resolute in their resistance. "If the presidency of Donald Trump inspires anything, it should be a fierce spirit of opposition," Leon Wieseltier wrote last weekend in these pages. "The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives," Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine.

    But what can anti-Trump liberals and progressives actually do? With his party in control of the White House and Congress, and with Trump about to tip the balance of the Supreme Court, it's easy to despair over how little leverage the Democrats seem to have. However, there's an episode of history that reveals reasons to hope.

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!

They interned my family - don't let them do it to Muslims

    There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration's national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: "We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will," he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn't saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, "There is precedent for it."

    Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a "precedent" or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred.

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 Other White People

    Since the election, the West Coast has been abuzz with talk of breaking away from Donald Trump’s America — a Calexit, or a linking of the nation’s most populous state with Oregon, Washington and British Columbia to form a Cascadia by the sea.

    It’s a fantasy, of course, fueled by Trump’s drubbing on the West Coast, where he got less than 10 percent of the vote in some cities. But it would also be a monumental mistake for the most prosperous and progressive part of the United States to even consider abandoning a country that could be dominated by the old Confederacy.

    A better idea is to reach out across a yawning class divide. People in the West could listen to their fellow Americans in the old industrial heartland. And people in struggling towns could learn something from the workable policies of the left coast. Difficult as that conversation may be, it could start with some white-on-white dialogue.

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 Democrats must learn from the GOP and rebuild

    The Republican Party is fractured by ideological divisions, led by an inexperienced and unpredictable president-elect, and quite possibly headed for a fratricidal civil war. The Democratic Party should be so lucky.

    There is much unpleasant reality for Democrats to deal with right now, starting with this: The GOP controls virtually everything. The two-party system is, at best, one and a half.

    Republicans won the presidency. They retained control of both houses of Congress. Soon, when Donald Trump appoints a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, they will re-establish a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. As far as the federal government is concerned, that's the whole trifecta.

    But there's much more: After making significant gains last week, Republicans control both legislative chambers in 32 states -- and hold the governorships in 33. Some of the nation's most diverse and populous states, including Texas and Florida, are living under one-party Republican rule.

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!

November 26th

Blame the SAT for Trump's anti-intellectual appeal

    In 1960, four labor economists with a grant from the Ford Foundation, peering into the future of what they called "industrialism," predicted that modern economies would be transformed by education:

    "Out of education come several results. Education is intended to reduce the scarcity of skilled persons and this after a time reduces the wage and salary differentials they receive; it also pulls people out of the least skilled and most disagreeable occupations and raises wage levels there."

    And, a few paragraphs further along in the economists' book, "Industrialism and Industrial Man":

    "Education brings in its wake a new economic equality and a consequent new equality of political outlook; the universal industrial mass. This in turn, along with many other developments, helps bring consensus to 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!

Our better angels are in the Senate's hands

    How does a divided United States, gripped with a combination of angry populism and partisan tribalism, govern with a president who lost the popular vote but a Congress that is primed to implement swaths of his agenda - and expects the president to bow to some of its policy preferences along the way? How can this dynamic play out in a way that respects the fact that Republicans control the executive and legislative branches but more than half the country does not embrace a sharply ideological or radical agenda? How do we keep extreme policies at bay?

    Donald Trump's choice of alt-right leader Stephen Bannon as top White House strategist suggests that the worst instincts of the president-elect remain intact. The hopes for governance hewing closer to the center, and respecting all those living in the United States, rest with the Senate, and with the behavior and outlook of senators in both parties.

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!

Oh, No! Donald Trump’s Calling

    Today, Donald Trump as diplomat. We’re not talking about the big stuff, like his ominous national security appointments — I know you’ve had a hard week. Let’s take it easy and just look at his phone calls with heads of state.

    Most of them have been taking place in Trump Tower, although this weekend he decamped to Trump National, his resort in New Jersey. Excellent move! Trump National has two golf courses more than all of Manhattan, and as far as we know, there are no immediate neighbors trying to chisel the word “Trump” off their apartment buildings. Plus, if the president-elect gets bored, he can always arrange to have Chris Christie crawl over and keep him company.

    It’s tough enough for New Yorkers to deal with the concept of a Trump administration without having it headquartered in their midst. Traffic is jammed: Fifth Avenue businesses are blocked off and in shell shock. Never before has it been possible to feel such sympathy for the problems of Gucci and Tiffany.

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!