Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Sep. 2012


Put down that sugary drink – or put on the pounds

Studies have linked sugary drinks to obesity. (The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The nation’s obesity rate has nearly tripled in the last 40 years, and scientists say new research has solidly pinpointed the No. 1 culprit.

It’s all those liquid sugar bombs Americans have been consuming – soda pop, sports drinks, juices, blended coffees and other sweetened drinks – most of which have little or no nutritional value.

During the last four decades, we’ve doubled our caloric intake of beverages sweetened with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup – but we haven’t been cutting back calories at mealtime. If anything, we’ve been supersizing our meals.

That net caloric gain is why more than a third of American adults are considered obese. And it’s why you can put school photos of today’s kids next to ones from 40 years ago and see a glaring difference in the number of overweight children. Doctors are seeing such an alarming increase in the number of young people with Type 2 diabetes – a condition directly linked to weight – that it can hardly be called adult-onset diabetes anymore. Read more »


Open season on trolls

Fair warning.

People who follow our blogs will note that comments must now be shifted to Facebook. Love it or loathe it, Facebook requires commenters to post actual names. We’ve already noticed a big improvement in the quality of the conversations, which is exactly what we were hoping for.

Our letters blog in particular had turned into a nest of vipers. Writers with the courage to sign their names were being spattered with noisome fluids by small souls hiding behind idiotic handles.

When you see a troll’s post, picture a 47-year-old loser living in his mother’s basement, hunching over his

Read more »


Did the surge succeed? We’ll find out – years from now

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

The surge in Afghanistan began with a bang. It just ended in a whimper.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta mentioned its conclusion while on the other side of the planet, in New Zealand. As of a week ago, the United States had finished drawing down the 33,000 additional troops Barack Obama deployed to Afghanistan after he took office in 2009 – his chief contribution to the war.

The quiet from the White House suggests ambivalence about the results, or at least a desire not to inject Afghanistan into the presidential race. Otherwise Obama would be declaring victory and trumpeting success.

The combat units of Joint Base Lewis-McChord – our neighbors – have sacrificed lives, limbs and blood for the cause of a non-terrorist Afghanistan, so we have all the more reason to hope for decisive results from any U.S. strategy.

But like the 11-year-old war itself, the surge can be construed as either a success or a failure. The Taliban suffered major reverses as U.S. combat units pushed into territories the guerrillas had terrorized or dominated. The streets of Kandahar and other cities in the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan are much safer as a result.
Read more »


For-profit treatment facilities need state oversight

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

An unfortunate situation unfolding in the Seattle suburb of Normandy Park offers a cautionary tale to other cities. What’s happening there could very easily happen elsewhere.

According to reporting by the Seattle Times, a for-profit company in Normandy Park that claims to provide mental health treatment is one of a growing number of such organizations that have found a sweet spot that allows them to avoid state regulatory oversight.

Earlier this year, California-based Hanbleceya opened a clinic in Normandy Park and either purchased or rented five nearby homes as housing for its clients – people suffering from an array of serious mental illness, drug addiction or other conditions. It charges clients up to $100,000 a year for room and treatment.

Because the treatment is provided at the clinic, not at the homes, Hanbleceya maintains that they are not residential treatment facilities – thus they don’t need to be licensed and regulated by the state Department of Health. Read more »


Inside Opinion now using Facebook comments

Something’s changed on Inside Opinion: You now use your Facebook account to post comments.

Editor Karen Peterson wrote a column explaining the reasons for the switch.

The change also will allow readers to share their comment with their Facebook friends by checking a “post to Facebook” box below the comment field.

If you have any questions or comments on this change, please send us an email at


This poll has a clear winner (Spoiler alert: It’s Obama)

Forget Gallup, Pew, Rasmussen and the other polls. They all show either a dead heat between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney or Obama slightly ahead – but still within the margin of error.

Over at 7-Eleven, there’s no such wishy-washiness. Its “abashedly unscientific” poll, which has predicted the winner in the last three presidential races, shows Obama clearly out in front: 58 to 42 percent as of Wednesday afternoon.

Customers make their preference known by buying their drinks in either a blue Obama cup or a red Romney cup.

Click here to check out its red state/blue state map. Click on individual states to see how 7-Eleven customers voted there.

Washington is slightly more pro-Obama than the national average: 60 to 40 percent. Romney is running ahead of Obama in only four states: Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina and New Hampshire. Not in Utah? That’s surprising. And the crucial battleground state of Ohio – which no Republican winner has ever lost – is staunchly pro-Obama at 67 to 42 percent. Read more »


A United Nations anti-blasphemy policy? Not so fast

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, President Obama put it as clearly and well: Freedom isn’t just an American or Western value – it’s a universal value.

That’s the right response to the insanity that’s been raging through the Islamic world since a vulgar anti-Muslim video gave jihadists another opening to whip up anti-American anger.

The video was merely pretext. If it weren’t that, it would have been something else. The same rage has erupted time after time over cartoons and other insults to Muhammad or Islam. The spectacle is getting very, very old.

The Islamists’ dirty little secret is that their own clerics and other leaders have themselves been disseminating the attacks on Islam – by broadcasting them, posting them online, advertising them and otherwise amplifying them.

In fact, nearly all of the casualties – beyond the U.S. ambassador to Libya and several others – have been Muslims. On Friday alone, in Pakistan alone, anti-blasphemy riots left 19 dead and 160 injured. You would think that people with such self-proclaimed devotion to Islam would show more concern for common believers.

This is ultimately a power play. The murderous rampages intimidate the extremists’ political and religious opponents.
Read more »


We’ll still do the Puyallup at the Washington State Fair

Kim Heng and Becky Bean of Tacoma ride the roller coaster at the Puyallup Fair Sept. 7. Next year the fair will be known as the Washington State Fair. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Q. How can you tell that one of the Seattle television or radio stations has made a new hire?

A. When he or she mangles pronunciation of “Puyallup.”

Live around here for awhile and you don’t have any trouble with the name of the Pierce County city that hosts the state’s most spectacular fair every September. But consider an up-and-coming performer on the East Coast who’s been approached to play at the Puyallup Fair. A first reaction might be: “Where the heck is Puyallup”?

But ask the same performer to play at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, and the reaction probably would be different. Just about everyone can locate Washington state on a map, and “the state fair” label has recognizable cachet all over the country. Read more »