Inside Opinion

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

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Archives: Aug. 2010


American Islamophobia running out of control

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If one of the chief purposes of an Islamic center by Ground Zero was to promote interfaith understanding, its chief backer – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – might want to think about building it elsewhere.

But if the Cordoba House will be about making a defiant assertion of Muslim identity and constitutional rights, the location near the fallen World Trade Center will do just fine. Whatever Rauf originally had in mind, and whoever’s to blame, that site has become an incitement to Islamophobia, and the public now sees it as a stick in the eye.

Much as he’s been maligned for defending the project, President Obama actually got things right two weeks ago – if you combine both his original statement and the half-step back he quickly took.

As he said initially, Muslims have the same right as other Americans to “not be treated differently by their government.” Next day, he said he was talking about constitutional freedoms, not the “wisdom” of the project.

No one was questioning either the wisdom or foolishness of the Cordoba House until recently, when the usual crew of mega-mouthed media rabble-rousers – thank you, Fox News – began whipping up a furor about it. It might otherwise have quietly been built, opened and absorbed by the commercial din and ethnic cacophony of Lower Manhattan.

That possibility is long gone. The project has since become an epicenter of anti-Muslim sentiment, which has rippled out to other mosque projects elsewhere in the country. The Washington Post reported Monday, for example, that citizens in Murfreesboro, Tenn., are protesting plans for an Islamic center there with such signs as “Keep Tennessee Terror Free.”

Islam in America has taken a beating since the uproar metastasized across the nation. A recent Time magazine poll is particularly discouraging.
Read more »


Massive egg recall should spur food-safety reforms

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Washington consumers should take little comfort from the fact that the salmonella-tainted eggs subject to a massive recall weren’t sold in this state. Shoppers here will surely feel the pain anyway, even if it isn’t of a gastrointestinal nature.

With more than half a billion eggs removed from the market, those that are left will cost more – perhaps 40 percent more. And the higher cost of eggs is expected to drive up the cost of food items that use eggs, such as baked goods and mayonnaise.

But the main reason consumers should feel discomfort is that the recall once again reveals a serious deficiency in government’s ability to protect the nation’s food supply. We saw it before, when recalls of tainted tomatoes, peanuts, spinach or hamburger highlighted the lack of muscle and manpower in the agencies charged with regulating food safety.

In the egg recall case, which now has been linked to contaminated chicken feed, the government could require that all egg-producing hens be vaccinated against salmonella. That’s what’s done in England, and that country has virtually eliminated salmonella in eggs as a health threat. Read more »


Chamber of horrors in University Point, Wa.?

Curious to see what was being written about Chambers Bay by the out-of-town sports media, I came across a posting by Tim Cronin, a blogger for the Chicago-area Southtown Star. He gets the name of the city wrong, calling it University Point instead of University Place.

Cronin quotes player Jason Buffone: “Words don’t describe how tough it is . . . It’s the hardest course I’ve ever played in my life . . . Try to hit a 5-iron off concrete.”

Read the entire posting here.


Phil Talmadge: Don’t bank on a state income tax

The Washington Policy Center, a conservative outfit, is touting this surprising legal analysis of the income tax initiative on the November ballot.

It’s surprising, to me anyway, because it was written for the think tank by Phil Talmadge, once a prominent Democratic legislator and Washington Supreme Court justice. And because it quite bluntly concludes that Initiative 1098 is unconstitutional.


B.C. agrees to treat Victoria sewage – finally

After decades of debate and criticism from this side of the border, British Columbia has approved a plan that – if it’s funded – will end the dumping of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

B.C. provincial approval of the $738 (U.S.) million treatment proposal is the first step to getting federal and regional funding. If all goes as planned, a massive treatment system should be finished in 10 years or so.

Currently the Greater Victoria area dumps up to 34 million gallons of untreated sewage daily into the waters between B.C. and Washington state –

Read more »


Public employees can help blunt budgetary blows

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Up north in the union stronghold of King County, a remarkable thing is happening.

A small but growing number of public employee groups are agreeing to make do with what they have, conceding the usual automatic cost-of-living increases that have long driven increases in government payrolls.

King County Executive Dow Constantine last week announced a tentative agreement with a union that represents nearly 500 King County workers to hold the line on wages.

Constantine is hoping to eliminate cost-of-living increases for all employees whose contracts are subject to negotiation this year. The savings of $9.4 million would make a good-sized dent in the $60 million shortfall the county expects next year.

There’s something in it for union workers, too:

Read more »


America pays dearly for Afghan war crimes

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

For Americans, there’s actually a positive side to the murder charges pending against five Lewis- McChord soldiers.

Five is a minuscule fraction of the 4,000 members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, which came home this summer after a year’s deployment in Afghanistan. Atrocities happen in every war, but today’s professional all-volunteer American Army today may be as scrupulous a combat force as this nation has ever fielded.

There’s also the fact that the probe of the suspicious deaths of three Afghan civilians earlier this year was initiated by the brigade itself against several of its own. In the past – after Vietnam’s My Lai massacre, for example – investigations often happened despite the unit’s commanders, not because of them.

So – some good news inside the bad.

Unfortunately, the Afghan people – the people whose attitudes will determine whether America succeeds or fails in Afghanistan – may not pick up on these nuances.

The allegations are shocking. According to Army prosecutors, the five soldiers, including a staff sergeant, participated directly or indirectly in the deliberate killing of the three Afghan men, who appear to have been targeted at random. If the charges are true, the responsible soldiers appear to have killed the three men more or less for sport, on the assumption they could get away with it under the cover of wartime.
Read more »


Campaign cash and justice make a poor mix

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The Supreme Court giveth, and the Supreme Court taketh away.

The cause of judicial integrity got a big boost last year when the high court ruled that a West Virginia justice shouldn’t have helped decide a lawsuit involving a donor who’d given $3 million to his election campaign. (He decided in favor of the donor.)

The ruling – Caperton v. Massey – has prompted that state judiciaries to look hard at which judges are deciding which cases affecting which political supporters.

Washington’s supreme court may soon require that judges disqualify themselves from proceedings in which big campaign donors stand to gain. The U.S. Supreme Court got it right in Massey, and the Washington Supreme Court ought to adopt the proposed rule.

That would give pause to the people who’ve been pouring ever-larger sums into judicial races, expecting that they’ll have a judge in their corner when their case is heard If that judge has to withdraw from that case, there’s considerably less incentive to buy a court seat for a friend. Read more »