Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Feb. 2009


Health care reform: First, do no harm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition:

Here we go again.

Fifteen years after Bill Clinton’s health care reforms sank in a sea of bickering Democratic lawmakers, President Barack Obama is making another run at the monumental problems of the American health care system.

Obama has some advantages. Unlike Clinton, he was elected by a majority vote, and he’s got lots of political capital to spend. Also, conditions are riper.

Last time around, the wind in the sails of health care reform came from a recession that had millions of Americans fearful of losing their jobs – and their insurance. Public interest dropped once the economy revived.

This time around, the job losses are worse, public anxiety is higher and the country seems to have reached broad agreement that all Americans ought to have health coverage.

Now as then, though, the devil’s in the details. Clinton dumped more than 1,000 pages worth of details on Congress in a massive reform bill; critics were already picking it apart before it saw the light of day.

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What happened to “immediate withdrawal”?

The upper fold of the newspapers yesterday boomed “Iraq Troop Withdrawal,” or more evocatively, “Pullout From Iraq.” But I suspect some (not all) in the press corps were less than ebullient about President Obama’s speech to the Camp Lejeune Marines.

A few sentences beyond the headlines we learned this was to be an 18-month scaled withdrawal – not the “immediate withdrawal” promised in Campaign ’08. Moreover, we learned that while combat troops will leave, 35,000-50,000 support troops (approximately the same number now stationed in Korea and West Germany) will remain in Iraq until at least 2011. And we learned

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Bobby Jindal revisited

I didn’t have the space over the weekend to run this Kathleen Parker column, but I think it’s worth getting in for our online readers.

In it, Parker counters the impression that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made in his response to President Obama’s speech Tuesday. Jindal was royally panned, even by many conservatives.

Here’s Parker’s take on the “real” Bobby Jindal.

I liked the old Bobby Jindal better — the one whose brain moves so fast, he’s already indexing questions his interviewers haven’t thought of yet.

What did they do with him?

The Jindal who responded to Barack Obama’s address to Congress was less the brilliant statesman than a terribly mixed metaphor — equal parts Mister Rogers, Bobby Brady and Kenneth the Page.

I know Bobby Jindal, and that guy wasn’t Bobby Jindal.
The real Jindal is the intellectual equivalent of a nuclear power plant. The real Jindal has actually read the stimulus bill and can recite its contents. The real Jindal is the sort of politician who promises ethics and education reform, and actually delivers.

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NAACP opposes Tacoma school bond

We just received a letter to the editor from the Tacoma Branch of the NAACP expressing opposition to the March 10 Tacoma school bond measure.

According to the letter from branch president Gregory Christopher:

I am writing divulging the Tacoma Branch NAACP opposition to the Tacoma School #10 Proposition No. 1. This proposition calling for $300 million in general obligation bonds will soon come to a vote in the Tacoma area. For the past 25 years, we in the NAACP Tacoma Branch have been working through various committees and have been challenged by each one in an effort to improve what takes place inside the school house.

The quality of education by all accounts has declined over the years, and we believe this is where our investment now needs to focus.

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Tacoma lucky it was late to the financial services party

I am reading an article by Richard Florida in The Atlantic that suggests that the financial crash will not only alter economic policy, the business landscape and personal finances, but also where people live.

Florida is the guru of the “creative class” theory of economic development. He preaches that the world’s smartest, most talented young professionals gravitate to cities that cater to them. He came to Tacoma in 2006 to help the city work on initiatives to enhance Tacoma’s creative appeal.

In his piece for The Atlantic, Florida opines that the financial meltdown will have disparate geographic effects. “Some cities and regions will eventually spring back stronger than before. Others may never come back at all.”

What caught my eye was his suggestion that New York, a global financial center, isn’t likely to be as affected as lesser financial outposts like Des Moines, Iowa, that depend even more heavily on financial jobs. (In Des Moines, they make up 18 percent of the total employment.)

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Let the families decide on photos of the fallen

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was right to allow photography of coffins of war dead – on condition that loved ones agree.

Exploitation or honor? The U.S. policy of barring photographs of the coffins of war dead has been construed both ways.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates got it right Thursday, we believe, when he relaxed that policy to allow photographic coverage of the arrival of the flag-draped coffins – but only with the approval of the families involved.

The ban on public photography was imposed in 1991. Since the Iraq war began in 2003, it has been vehemently criticized and defended.

Critics – many of them opponents of the war – said the Bush administration was using the ban to prevent Americans from seeing frequent scenes of coffins coming home from Iraq through Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Defenders argued that the critics were bent on politically exploiting those scenes as antiwar propaganda.

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Bellingham raid could help prompt needed reforms

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Stemming illegal immigration will take a comprehensive approach – and that includes crackdowns on employers and employees alike.

A work-site raid at a Bellingham plant this week could be a boon to the cause of immigration reform.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials raided Yamato Engine Specialists Ltd. on Tuesday, arresting 28 workers and sending most of them to Tacoma’s immigration detention center to await deportation.

But it’s the field agents, not the illegal workers, who are coming under the greatest scrutiny.

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Parks board runs risk with pool compromise

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Metro Parks commissioners better be prepared to deliver since they are keeping hope alive for Titlow Pool fans.

Titlow Pool will live to be fought over another day.

That was the word from Metro Parks commissioners this week as they announced a compromise aimed at ending the long-running feud over the West End pool’s fate.
The deal goes like this: The parks district gives Titlow a reprieve, advocates of a play pool the green light and swim teams a bone.

The strategy is at once a welcome end to the parks board’s dithering over how to spend money from a 2005 bond measure and an ominous sign that more dithering over Titlow’s fate could lie ahead.

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