What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers
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Archives: May 2012
This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
More than 200 miles above the earth, hurtling at 17,500 mph, a privately owned cargo capsule is preparing to deliver groceries to the International Space Station.
Assuming all goes well today and tomorrow, the docking of SpaceX’s Dragon could help restore what America lost when the last space shuttle flight ended in July: a door into outer space.
Since then, the United States has depended on other countries to resupply the orbiting laboratory. America now depends on Russia, of all countries, to carry U.S. astronauts into orbit. That may not be a national humiliation, but it’s also no tribute to the staying power of a country that was sending its citizens to the moon 40 years ago.
SpaceX, which launched this week’s trial mission, has gotten the jump on other private space ventures. If the California-based company delivers the goods Friday, it will win a $1.6 billion NASA contract to lug cargo to the space station over the next five years.
SpaceX would then become the first commercial enterprise with an independent grip on space flight. The company hopes to be launching humans into orbit in a few years. Read more »
This time of year, we’re busy inviting candidates to interview with us for the editorial board’s endorsement in the Aug. 7 primary. Most candidates accept, while others decline due to schedule conflicts.
Occasionally we get a candidate who, essentially, tells us where we can stick our endorsement. Here’s a colorful response we received from candidate Stephan Brodhead, a candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat being vacated by Norm Dicks. I don’t see any problem sharing it with blog readers as it is titled “Official Response from Brodhead For Congress.”
I stand on my resume, lineage to the “Founding fathers”, lineage to epic legislation, decades of diligent military service, worldwide aviator status, environmental stewardship, and demonstrative small business acumen. Read more »
This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.
Campaign season won’t last forever; it’ll just seem that way as election signs sprout like weeds on roadsides and snarky ads start dominating television ad nauseum.
On Nov. 7, we’ll all sigh with relief, even if our favorite candidates lose, simply because it will all be over.
While much of the election season sturm und drang will be generated by the presidential race, voters should start focusing on a host of important state and local offices – including the entire U.S. and state House of Representatives – that also will be on the ballot.
Read more »
This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
It’s a legal long shot, but Montana’s attorney general is mounting a brave defense against the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that unleashed super PACs on American democracy.
To their credit, 22 other state attorneys general – including Washington’s Rob McKenna – are backing Steve Bullock’s attempt to protect Montana from the Citizens United ruling.
Montana was once a poster boy for money-corrupted politics; its history shows how vulnerable states are to the unlimited corporate spending the Supreme Court allowed when it overturned key federal campaign finance restrictions in 2010.
More than 100 years ago, Montana politicians were bought, sold and openly traded by mine-owners known as the Copper Kings. The bribery and other corruption were more or less inevitable, given the ease with which a handful of plutocrats could have their way with an agrarian state.
Montana lawmakers finally reined in the power of Anaconda Copper and other corporate barons by enacting the Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which sharply curtailed how much they could spend electing friendly officeholders.
Read more »
When you’re dead, you never call and you never write. I should have noticed a few weeks back when Walter Backstrom stopped ringing me up to pitch an idea for a new column.
I found out in a roundabout way last week that he died April 22 in a homeless shelter, reportedly of a heart attack. People who follow our Monday guest columnists may recall that he was one of our regulars in 2009. He had an unusual perspective as a black, Christian conservative; his pieces were weighty, eloquent and moving.
Walter addressed the broadest of themes: morality, education, youth, civil rights, growing up black, illustrating them with personal experiences and observations. He brooded on the state of humanity, the nation, the schools, the family – all the big stuff.
The homeless shelter is the part that bothers me. Read more »
This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.
Barack Obama recently declared victory in Afghanistan – sort of – and announced plans to bring the last combat troops home in 2014. As the war winds down, our commitment to the troops who served shouldn’t wind down with it.
The unemployment rate among the country’s youngest veterans – the ones who volunteered after 9/11 – is intolerably high. The best current numbers, from 2011, were released in March by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here are the low points:
• Last year, 12.1 percent of all “post-9/11” vets were out of work last year – nearly half again the country’s overall unemployment rate of roughly 8 percent.
• Among black post-9/11 vets, unemployment ran 14.3 percent. Among Hispanics, 17 percent.
• The numbers are far worse for male veterans under the age of 24. Their jobless rate was a staggering three out of every ten – 70 percent higher than their nonveteran peers.
• A total of 234,000 post-9/11 vets want jobs and can’t find them. This army of unemployed patriots is much larger than the forces the United States deployed in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Read more »
This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.
It’s still only May, and the nation’s economic interests have already taken a back seat to the November elections.
House Speaker John Boehner is dropping dark hints about forcing another debt-limit showdown, the first of which – last summer – shook the financial markets and led to a downgrade of America’s credit rating.
After a testy exchange Wednesday with President Barack Obama, Boehner had an aide tell the public that the House wouldn’t approve any increase in the debt limit “without doing something about the debt.”
Obama’s press secretary countered with a presidential vow to reject “an approach that asks the middle class and senior citizens to make sacrifices without asking for anything more from millionaires and billionaires.”
That’s pretty much sums up the competing political pitches of Republicans and Democrats: For public consumption at least, Republicans insist America’s $15.7 trillion national debt can be handled with spending cuts alone.
Read more »