Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: June 2009

June
29th

There is no “European-style socialism”

Disclaimer: This writer is an anti-communist. Well, actually, this writer is an anti-socialist, because there aren’t any communists left any more (except in Cuba, North Korea, and on American college campuses).

Each time I hear some erstwhile progressive ask "Why can’t we have socialism like they do in Scandinavia?," I am a little less than supportive….

First of all, not even the Scandinavians "have socialism like they do in Scandinavia." From 1945-1989, Scandinavians, like other western European nations, boasted large social welfare bureaucracies, 50 percent taxation rates and a healthy number of capitalists they allowed to exist in order to pay for the whole mess. "Progressive" western Europeans were too smart to kill off the capitalist goose that lays golden eggs. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, they kept capitalists around to pay the price tag of their social experimentation.

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June
29th

For Tuesday: Fireworks enforcement, 911 call center troubles

A consultant’s report offered a road map to fixing the inefficiencies of emergency dispatch in Pierce County – including the plethora of fiefdoms. Lives are at stake; let’s use our tax dollars to best effect.


Tacoma’s plan to really crack down on fireworks this year is welcome, as is news that the Puyallup tribe is cooperating with police. Washington’s Indian tribes could be doing more to control the dissemination of illegal fireworks outside their reservations.


If you have comments or questions about these topics, please email them to patrick.ocallahan@thenewstribune.com. Editorials represent the consensus view of The News

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June
29th

When telling the truth gets you fired…

Last week Dan Choi, a Lieutenant in the Army National Guard, sent out a mass email asking for help, a character reference to be exact. Hard to believe Choi, a West Point graduate who majored in Arabic studies, needs a character reference from his fellow citizens but according to his letter, he does.

In spite of the fact that Choi speaks Arabic, Farsi, and is passionate about serving in the Middle East, he is about to lose his job for disregarding the don’t ask don’t tell policy, or D.A.D.T., circa President Clinton. Wanting to live by the West Point honor code, Choi was honest with the military and told them he was homosexual, saying he did not want to spend his career, or his life, hiding that truth.

Unfortunately for Lt. Choi, those three little words "I am gay" are grounds for dismissal.

Approximately 13,000 service men and women have been fired for the same reason, fired not for conduct unbecoming, but for who they are as people. Many of them, like Choi, spoke Arabic. The loss of this personnel seems like a brain drain the military can little afford, especially at a time when recruitment standards are said to be lowered, i.e. the military has allowed high school dropouts, former drug users, and former white supremacists.

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June
29th

“Supreme Court” – the reality show

The people at C-Span are making a good argument – see below – for televising U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments. Naturally, we agree.

With U.S. Senate hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court beginning shortly – July 13 – we’re hoping your editorial page might endorse the idea of televising Supreme Court oral arguments.

C-SPAN has long argued for opennesss and transparency in the Judicial Branch. If the Supreme Court does open its oral arguments to cameras, C-SPAN will carry all of the approximately 75 one-hour oral arguments in their entirety.

A milestone in transparency was reached during the Court’s 2000 hearing of George W. Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board when C-SPAN requested televising the arguments. In response, the Court granted instant audiotape release of that case’s oral arguments – and since then the Court has allowed selected same-day oral argument audio be released in response to subsequent C-SPAN requests.

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June
28th

Prison rape is intolerable injustice

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Rape and sexual abuse remain too much a fact of life behind bars.

That’s intolerable. In the United States, our criminal justice system sends convicts to prison as punishment, not for punishment.

The recommendations of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Commission could be a step toward changing the prison culture that permits sexual abuse to continue.

The commission found that more than 60,000 prisoners are the victims of rape and sexual abuse each year. Many inmates are afraid to report such crimes and even those who do are often ignored or dismissed.

Not only hardcore criminals are being victimized. The commission heard from former inmates who made relatively minor mistakes – a political protest gone wrong, a drunken driving arrest or a probation violation – and ended up being brutally raped.

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June
28th

Washington didn’t sign up for medical marijuana trafficking

I’m a longtime skeptic of "medical" marijuana. You’ve got to do a lot of doctor-shopping before you find one who thinks smoking anything is healthy and wholesome.

Cleaner, vaporized extracts of marijuana’s active ingredients may be a different story, but this remains the only high-potency drug legalized by political campaigns, not the Food and Drug Administration. No question it makes users feel better; so did the various 19th century elixirs spiked with alcohol, opium or cocaine.

Enough of the rant. Washingtonians approved a regulated medical marijuana regime when they enacted Initiative 692 in 1998. In contrast to California’s system of commercial "medical" marijuana shops, the initiative offered the voters a deal: personal medical use, but no buying and selling.

That deal is now being broken in Spokane, where the city appears to be tolerating California-style marijuana dispensaries that sell the drug in clear defiance of the law.

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June
27th

Michael Jackson’s toxic celebrity

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Pity the poor, rich, famous celebrity. Really.

Nobody will ever look back at Michael Jackson and say, "That man had a wonderful life." He started out as a buoyant kid loaded with musical talent. By the time he died Thursday, he was a freakish-looking recluse whose plastic surgeries and skin-whitening treatments had left him looking like a ghostly villain from a "Batman" movie.

In the interim, what a career.

Jackson’s 1982 album "Thriller" outsold anything recorded by the Beatles or Elvis Presley. All told, he sold more than 750 million albums and secured a place right up there with Elvis and the Fab Four. He amassed a huge personal fortune.

Yet he died a pathetic figure, in debt, isolated, shadowed by persistent allegations of child molestation. His untimely heart attack may have been hastened by excessive doses of prescription drugs he was taking to assist a comeback attempt.

Jackson joins a pantheon of superstars, stars and semi-stars who might have fared much better had they never been trapped in the spotlights, grown addicted to adulation and acquired fortunes large enough to indulge their most destructive appetites.

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June
27th

The astonishing Michael Jackson

This column by Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson moved on the wire late in the day Friday, so it won’t get in the print edition over the weekend. I’m publishing it here for any online readers who haven’t had their fill of Michael Jackson commentary.

PERILS OF A PRODIGY

Many performers can impress or delight, but only a few can astonish. Michael Jackson did it twice.

The first time was October 1969, when the hit single "I Want You Back" introduced a cherubic 11-year-old boy who sang with unbelievable maturity, soulfulness and swing. The second was March 1983, when the prodigy — now grown tall, thin and angular — moonwalked through an electrifying "Billie Jean," leaving a national television audience slack-jawed at how effortlessly he defied the laws of physics.

Jackson’s personal trajectory, though, was excruciating to watch.

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