Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: Nov. 2012


The post-election opening for a balanced deficit deal

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t make a real deficit deal last year, they made a deal so bad they’d have to come back to the table this year. That was the theory, anyway.

The bad deal now stares us in the face. Unless Congress and the president do something by January, $1 trillion of guillotine blades will automatically fall on domestic programs Democrats love and defense programs Republicans love. (There’s crossover love on both sides, of course.)

Combined with the simultaneous expiration of various tax breaks, especially the Bush tax cuts of

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Iron Dome saved lives – Palestinians among them

The only pleasant news from the latest Israel-vs.-Hamas cage fight was the success of Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system.

Iron Dome doesn’t kill people, just missiles that kill people. And unlike many touted high-tech wonders, it actually appears to work. At $40,000 or $50,000 a copy, the interceptors are expensive, but the system sorts out which incoming rockets are likely to hit people and targets only those. The intercepters aren’t wasted on glorified bottle rockets.

It may have averted an Israeli invasion of Gaza. Had the jihadist rockets killed more than a handful of people, Israeli public

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After 25 years, Zoolights brightens dreary nights

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Even in the rain and cold, visitors flock to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium this time of year. There’s something about half a million lights that can brighten spirits even on the dreariest of nights.

Today, as Zoolights opens once again, it’s likely that some of the adults pushing strollers or shepherding young children were among those who visited the event in its 1987 inaugural season. A quarter century later, Zoolights has become an enduring Sound Sound tradition for many families during the holiday season – and an important revenue source for the zoo.

Favorite attractions from the past are back: the spectacular “flame tree” near the entrance, displays featuring Mount Rainier and the Narrows bridges, scuba-diving Santa feeding the sharks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and a 100-foot-wide octopus lurking atop the North Pacific Aquarium. New this year for an additional cost: zip line/challenge courses – one geared to children 5 and up and another for those 8 and older.

Zoolights began as an ingenious way to boost attendance during the traditionally slack time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. What began as a relatively modest display of 30 figurines and five miles of lights that drew 21,000 visitors has evolved – a lot.
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A new normal this Thanksgiving?

For your Thanksgiving Day reading, Cokie and Steve Roberts write about the changing American family sitting down today for the feast. Does it look a little like yours?


By Cokie Roberts and Steven V. Roberts

We all know the famous Norman Rockwell painting of a typical American family gathered around Grandma as she serves up a huge turkey. If Rockwell were painting today, his portrait of a Thanksgiving feast would have to include gay Uncle Kevin and perhaps a niece who’s brought her girlfriend home from college. (He might also sketch in the new Chinese daughter-in-law, but that’s another story.)

The American family is changing rapidly, and so are attitudes about same-sex marriage. In the last election, three states voted to approve the institution (Maryland, Maine and Washington), and one, Minnesota, rejected a move to ban it. The focus on Barack Obama’s re-election, and the attention paid to the critical Latino vote, obscured this historic milestone. Read more »


Pilgrims, Indians: There was a way to get along

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The traditional pictures of Thanksgiving turn the Indians into bit players. The Pilgrims sit at a long table sharing their bounty with the Wampanoag, one member of the tribe maybe lugging a deer into the clearing.

Not so. Indians outnumbered Pilgrims by roughly two to one at the feast. Half of the Mayflower’s passengers had died within a few months of their arrival 10 months earlier, and the Wampanoag were the only reason the rest of them were alive.

Under their leader, Massasoit, they had nurtured the English, formed an alliance with them and offered them large expanses of real estate. They had taught the Pilgrims to live off the land; the fish, game and corn they were eating in the fall of 1661 came courtesy of Wampanoag generosity.

Massasoit was no useful idiot, though. His once-large tribe had been just been devastated by plague introduced by white fishermen; the Wampanoag were being subjugated by the powerful Narragansett tribe. If the Pilgrims were using him, he was shrewdly using the Pilgrims to rebuild his power and counter the Narragansetts.
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Call Israel’s bluff, Hamas: Give up the rockets

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

The only hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a two-state solution that guarantees both Jews and Arabs a secure homeland.

That’s a distant dream, though, without a no-rockets solution right now.

When fighting breaks out between Israel and the jihadist Hamas government of Gaza, the news is dominated by massive Israeli air strikes and dead Palestinian noncombatants. It looks like swatting a flea with a sledgehammer.

Mostly unreported, month in and month out, are the barrages of missiles that Hamas and related militias launch into Israel.

The latest outbreak of warfare between Israel and Gaza is dated to Israel’s Nov. 14 assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. Jabari was the mastermind behind Hamas’ increasingly sophisticated arsenal, which now includes smuggled Iranian ballistic missiles capable of hitting Jerusalem.

When Jabari died, Hamas vowed revenge and launched rockets at Israel, hence the Israeli counterstrikes aimed at firing pads and other missile infrastructure in Gaza, among other targets.

According to The New York Times, though, Gaza jihadists had already fired – in 2012 alone – more than 700 rockets at Israel. Killing Jabari may have been a political blunder, but he was Gaza’s Rocketman – a legitimate military target.

Hamas is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization whose long-term goal is the complete destruction of Israel. Its leaders exalt death; they have celebrated Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings; its military has hidden weaponry in densely populated areas, betting that attacks will produce videos of mangled civilians.

Nevertheless, it has admirers who will jump to its defense every time the rockets are mentioned.

The standard line – before the Iranian missiles arrived – was that the rockets were crude and inaccurate. That’s like saying it’s OK to shoot at someone as long as you’re a bad shot.

No country but Israel is expected to sit passively as mortal enemies drop high explosives on its towns and territory.

The Hamas-enablers also argue that the rockets are a justified response to Israel’s sea blockade on Gaza. The blockade does cripple the Gaza economy – but it also slows down Hamas’ imports of heavy weapons.
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The right of recall wins – too late to remove Washam

This editorial will run in Tuesday’s print edition.

Lost in the din on election day was a sweet little moral victory for the people who tried unsuccessfully to recall Dale Washam last year.

One of the many mini-dramas in the recall attempt was the way the Public Disclosure Commission stomped on the signature-gathering campaign before it even got started.

Robin Farris, who led the effort to unseat Pierce County’s extravagantly inept assessor-treasurer, had been getting pro bono legal assistance from two public-spirited Tacoma attorneys, Tom Oldfield and Jeff Helsdon.

Washington law allow recalls only on very narrow grounds; Oldfield and Helsdon helped Farris steer the petition through all the legal obstacles – Washam fighting all the way – until it finally won approval from the Washington Supreme Court.

The PDC, however, held that recall petitions were the legal equivalent of political campaigns rather than initiatives. Individual contributions to candidates are capped at $800 – a limit that doesn’t apply to ballot measures as constitutionally protected political expression.
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Pierce Transit must regroup, rethink after Prop. 1 defeat

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Now that voters have rejected a permanent sales tax increase for Pierce Transit, what’s Plan B?

In the runup to the Nov. 6 election, the agency said that if Proposition 1 failed, it would have to cut weekend and evening service (after 7 p.m.) – on top of cuts that already have been made. From early spring 2014 to 2017, service hours would be cut from 419,000 to 197,000. Shuttle service for the elderly and disabled, which has been reduced significantly already, would be cut back even more.

The agency must revisit that Doomsday scenario. If Pierce Transit winds up squeezing its runs that radically, its usefulness as a regional transit agency will be radically diminished.
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