Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: 2011


JBLM has problems, but it’s hardly ‘on the brink’ of disaster

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Is Joint Base Lewis-McChord “on the brink,” as claimed in a Los Angeles Times article and headline Monday? (The brink of what is never spelled out, but it’s safe to assume that it’s not “on the brink of something good.”)

The Times cites an article that appeared a year ago in Stars and Stripes that described JBLM as “the most troubled base in the military.” That billing was based on the courts martial of a group of Stryker soldiers for murdering civilians in Afghanistan, a much-publicized – and disputed – complaint by Oregon National Guardsmen of second-class treatment at Madigan Army Medical Center, and increased steroid use among soldiers.
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America: The Saudi Arabia of plastic packaging

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Christmas is over. The Christmas packaging is not.

There it sits, forlornly, in garbage cans or under couches or in recycling bins. Crushed cardboard boxes. Polystyrene foam peanuts and packing noodles. Hard plastic shells torn open by teeth, screwdrivers, scissors and fingers (some of them now bandaged).

Somebody must think Americans are in love with packaging.

Small, hardy electronic gizmos, thumb drives and the like, might have been safely mailed in padded envelopes. Instead, they arrive in boxes 100 times their size. Sometimes the goodies are encased in three or four layers of cardboard and plastic. Valuables seem to demand multiple defenses, like a king inside his tower inside his castle walls inside his moat.
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Take the razor of science to alternative medicine

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

So-called “alternative medicine” screams out for scientific study. Scientific, as in skeptical.

The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this month that an obscure federal agency, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, has spent $1.4 billion over the last 12 years studying such folk remedies as coffee enemas, acupuncture and ginkgo biloba.

Some critics say much of the money has been misspent looking at cures so obviously ridiculous that no research should be necessary. The coffee enemas – purported to treat pancreatic cancer – are an example.
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Blame council, not unions, for Tacoma’s budget crisis

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Give the Tacoma’s public unions credit: They’re stepping up to help soften a budget disaster created largely by their bosses.

Last Tuesday, the leader of Joint Labor – a union coalition – complained loudly that city officials weren’t negotiating job-saving contract concessions with anyone beyond Tacoma’s police and firefighters.

“Not once,” said Alice Phillips, “has the City of Tacoma come to Joint Labor or Local 483 and said, ‘Would you take a reduction in wages? Would you take furloughs?’”
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Angels among us help to brighten the holiday season

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The recession is over, we’re told, and the economic outlook and jobless rates are improving. But for too many of our neighbors this holiday season, it may not feel that way.

Perhaps Mom’s unemployment benefits have run out, or Dad’s hours have been cut back to part time. Medical bills may be piling up because the health insurance went away when the full-time job did.

Money is tight for a lot of Americans, but for those who are unemployed – or underemployed – buying gifts for children or having a traditional Christmas dinner could be a budget killer.
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The Seattle lesson: Police abuses start at the top

This editorial will appear in the Thursday print edition.

Could Seattle’s police force be that brutal? The U.S. Justice Department last week reported that many of Seattle’s officers know way too much about bashing suspects and not nearly enough about de-escalating confrontations.

A couple of numbers sum up the indictment: Justice’s Civil Rights Division concluded that Seattle police engaged in excessive force 57 percent of the time they hammered someone with their batons. Overall, the investigators decided that 20 percent of all use of force by officers was unconstitutionally excessive.

Members of the SPD are angrily challenging those shocking findings. From this distance, it’s impossible to say whether the department has been unfairly tarred by armchair experts. But there’s no doubt that Seattle police have a flair for doing outrageous things in front of video cameras. Read more »


Don’t let 2011 end without saving the sales-tax deduction

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Something is getting lost in the partisan bickering in Congress over extension of the payroll-tax break and unemployment benefits.

That would be the sales-tax deduction – which could be seen as a mini financial stimulus for the seven states, including Washington, that don’t have a state income tax.

The deduction, which has been renewed by Congress year-to-year, allows people who itemize their federal income tax to write off state and local sales taxes. Residents of states that have a state income tax can choose to deduct either that tax or the sales tax from their federal income tax. Read more »


Kim Jong Il, Vaclav Havel: A study in contrasts

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is where the phone rings if the American troops deployed in South Korea call 911. Big troubles in North Korea always threaten to strike close to home here.

Is trouble brewing there with the sudden death of dictator Kim Jong Il? One of the many scary things about Kim-ruled North Korea is that no one ever quite knows what’s going on inside its halls of power.

Kim’s son and announced successor, Kim Jong Un, is only in his 20s and was only anointed heir to the dictatorship about a year ago. Who is he? Will his succession stick? Will one of his father’s military barons muscle him off the throne? Will there be political turmoil and chest-beating that could trigger military attacks on South Korea?

We not only know nothing about what’s happening with the world’s most secretive regime, we have no idea who we ought to be rooting for.

In the absence of knowledge, we can hope for the best. If this were a game of chance, the odds would overwhelmingly favor the rise of a better North Korean ruler – just because it would be so hard to find a worse one than Kim Jong Il.
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