Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Dec. 2008

Dec.
30th

Funny is as funny does

Recently a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro" surfaced in the news, something that is in such bad taste my fingers can barely type it. It’s one of those stories commentators hesitate to touch because it doesn’t deserve any attention, but when I learned this morning that Tennessee RNC chairman Chip Saltsman’s chances of becoming the head of Republican National Committee increased because he distributed it, I got a little sick.

Outgoing RNC chair Robert M. Duncan denounced the CD that first surfaced in 2007 but obviously not loud enough because it showed up in the hands of Chip Saltsman in the form of Christmas presents. Apparently the man never heard of candy.

"Lighten up!" is the cry on conservative radio. “It was a joke."

As if jokes were simple things.

Humor has been studied by almost every major academic discipline and it is far from simple.

Read more »

Dec.
29th

Inside WaMu’s orgy of liar-lending

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

WaMu wasn’t merely neglecting to check borrowers’ qualifications. It was telling them they didn’t need qualifications.

Reckless American home buyers and lax federal regulation deserve a healthy share of the responsibility for the international credit crisis. But there’s no calculating the blame that belongs to reckless mortgage lenders.

The New York Times this week detailed the loan-mongering frenzy that brought down Seattle-based Washington Mutual in the biggest bank failure in history. It’s an appalling portrait of a once-responsible corporate culture gone rogue.

Under the leadership of CEO Kerry Killinger, WaMu morphed from a well-run company into a giant medicine show touting high-risk loans.

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Dec.
29th

‘No comment,’ no more at Centro Latino

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Answering a former employee’s charges publicly can only aid the social service agency’s efforts to repair its reputation.

Silence was anything but golden for Centro Latino’s leaders.

The organization’s board members clammed up last month at the worst possible time: after being hit with a lawsuit from a former executive director who alleged she was fired for exposing improprieties.

The agency’s leaders say they didn’t want to try the case in the media. Their motives may have been pure, but the effect was to leave some serious charges hanging out there, unanswered.

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Dec.
29th

What I’ll miss and what I won’t about the New York Times folks

As an editor, I’m going to mourn our dropping of the New York Times lineup for non-ideological reasons: It pains me to take anything away from readers.

That said, I – like anyone else – haven’t been as fond of some columnists as others.

The ones I’ll miss the most are Thomas Friedman and David Brooks. And I haven’t stopped missing William Safire.

Friedman is a phenomenon; I don’t think any journalist alive has a better grasp of what’s going on beyond the borders of the United States. Brooks is a genial conservative whose good nature comes across in everything he writes. Both of them are consistently interesting.

I am unfond of Paul Krugman. When he’s on the subject of economics – a specialty in which he has won the Nobel prize – he’s got a lot to say.

But when he decides to be a general-purpose pontificator, he tends to be a grating johnny-one-note, blaming every ill of humanity on Bush and conservatives. Krugman didn’t like Obama, early on, because he wasn’t nasty enough.

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Dec.
29th

Not Mourning NYT Columnists

In the words of an old country song, or so I’m told, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”


Few things in the media approach the ubiquity of Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, David Brooks, Nicholas Kristof and others in the New York Times’ stable of columnists. Like Chickenman, “they’re everywhere.” Read them online (for free after the Times famously unsuccessful attempt to put them behind a subscription-only firewall). Watch them chat with each other on television. Or pick up one of the papers in the discard pile at your favorite coffeehouse. You

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Dec.
29th

For Tuesday: WaMu’s recklessness, Centro Latino’s defense

We’ve now got a harrowing inside picture of the corporate culture of reckless mortgage-mongering that led to WaMu’s collapse. Anyone wondering how the financial sector could have come to the brink of total collapse in 2008 need only look at this bank’s practices.


Centro Latino leaders may have had good reasons to fire their executive director, who claims she was a whistleblower. A court will decide. In the meantime, the organization’s defense of the termination could help it win back some lost support.


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

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Dec.
29th

Grieving the NY Times

There are two kinds of people in this world: There are the folks who look back fondly at the good old days and there are those who think civilization, however slowly, is evolving into more cooperative and open societies. Even in spite of the world’s problems, of which there are many, on any given day, I would categorize myself into the latter camp. Call it naiveté, but I like to think things are getting better.

Yesterday changed all that.

Learning that the News Tribune lost the NY Times columnists I am now officially in the former column. On the very same day Israel launches rockets into Gaza killing 300 people, the largest single attack in decades, we are told that we have been cut off from Thomas Friedman, the defining voice in the great American discussion on Middle East policies.

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Dec.
29th

Affairs of the political heart

If you read Pat O’Callahan’s earlier posting on The News Tribune’s discontinuation of the New York Times wire (and its editorial columnists), you’ll notice that he mentioned some of the writers whose work we will rely on more to fill the vacuum.

One of those writers is Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein, who takes a humorous look at culture and politics – and where the two intersect. We’ve run him off and on and think readers might enjoy reading him more often.

Here’s a column that moved late last week. It offers a good taste of his style.

By Joel Stein
I don’t love America. That’s what conservatives are always telling liberals like me. Their love, they insist, is truer, deeper and more complete. Then liberals, like all people who are accused of not loving something, stammer, get defensive and try to have sex with America even though America will then accuse us of wanting it for its body and not its soul.

When America gets like that, there’s no winning.
But I’ve come to believe conservatives are right. They do love America more.

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