Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Archives: Feb. 2008


How’s this for responsive government?

On Monday, we published an “editorial notebook” item in which I recounted my miserable hour-and-a-half wait to get my driver’s license. (The same item had appeared earlier in this blog.)

Part of the frustration was the fact that half the staff at the counter left during the lunch hour, with more than 50 people waiting to get their licenses.

On Tuesday, the director of the Department of Licensing called me to personally apologize.

“I felt horrible when I saw that,” said Liz Luce. “It’s not a perfect system, and sometimes we fall short of good customer service. I do want you to know we are trying to do things to make it better.”

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Rock, Paper, Scissors: It explains everything

Ever listen to religious radio stations? Noticed how many of the preachers have Deep South accents? (Thuh BAH-bull SAY-yuz …”)

It’s curious how well that drawl sells above the Mason-Dixon Line. (A Texas twang works, too.) Something about those country-fried Southern vowels reassures Americans all over that the owner of the accent shares their values and intends to keep the world on a steady course.

What’s this got to do with anything? Drawls and twangs happen to be the key to my theory of presidential politics: Rock, Paper, Scissors.

It’s ridiculously oversimplified. First toss out all the sophisticated predictors commonly cited by political scientists: campaign strategies, money, organization, how many Americans think the country’s headed in the right direction, unemployment, inflation, foreign menaces, etc.

With Rock, Paper, Scissors, only two things count: political ideology and Southern accent.

Here’s how it works:

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Letters that make us crazy

We get a lot of excellent letters to the editor.

And then we get ones like this, from a writer in Buckley. I am copying it verbatim, with all the emphasis and mistakes (including not understanding that Obama is the candidate’s last name, not his first).

I am wondering why the media don’t mention the middle name of Obama Barack. It’s HUSSEIN, Obama Hussein Barack. Every candidate I know, have the whole name mentioned. Let people know Obama’s middle name. Is he hiding something? If he is really honest, let the world know that he has a middle name – same family name of the dictator toppled in Bagdad, Iraq.

The writer says that the other candidates’ names are mentioned. Anyone know off the top of your head what John McCain’s middle name is? Mike Huckabee’s? (See answers at bottom).

And is this the last person in America to learn that Obama’s middle name is Hussein?

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Thursday editorials: School ballot measures and funding for UW Prometa study

The failure of levies last month in the Yelm and North Thurston school districts, despite the new 50 percent requirement, shows that school-funding approvals can’t be taken for granted. We endorse the March 11 local school requests, including the Franklin Pierce construction bond issue.

Legislators shouldn’t wipe out the funding for the UW study of the effectiveness of the controversial Prometa protocol in Pierce County drug court program. A rigorous, objective evaluation would be a public service.

About our editorials:

If you have comments or questions about these topics, please email them to Editorials represent

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Thanks a lot, Sierra Club

The environmental group Sierra Club has exhorted its members to flood the nation’s newspapers with letters that purport to reveal John McCain’s record of dodging votes on issues it considers important.

Unfortunately, they’re all submitting the same letter. It’s astounding to us that people will actually sign their name to such an obviously canned letter and try to pass it off as their own.

Anyway, here’s the letter we’ve received from several people. Needless to say, it won’t get in the printed edition – under anyone’s name.

Dear Editor,

I was appalled to lean that John McCain was the only Senator who two
weeks ago chose to skip a crucial vote on the future of clean energy in
America — dooming the measure to fail by just a single vote.

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The scary side of school zones

Hunter George’s “Traffic Q&A” on school zone signs touched some nerves around here.

Like the guy who asked about the 20 mph signs, we’re confused about why the signs are so confusing: some with flashing lights, some without; some near schools, some not, and so on. And: Do we breed contempt for the law by having so many of these zones and so little enforcement of them?

As anyone who attempts to obey the limits can tell you, the biggest problem is the people behind you. Some get infuriated that you’re crawling at 20 mph when they want to blast through the school zone at 40 or more.

Cheryl Dell, our publisher, had a run-in with a particularly scary guy last fall.

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