Inside Opinion

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

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Archives: April 2013

April
30th

New game plan needed to return Sonics to Seattle

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Seattle’s slam dunk turned into an airball Monday.

A group of buyers headed by billionaires Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appeared to have a done deal to buy the Sacramento Kings and move the team to a site south of Safeco Field in Seattle. They thought so. So did Northwest fans. The team’s owners certainly did. Even a lot of people in Sacramento assumed the Kings were out the door after an earlier arena deal there fell through.

So what happened? Why did a panel of team owners recommend against allowing the sale of the Kings to buyers that would be one of the NBA’s best-financed ownership groups in a more desirable market?

Conspiracy theories abound: Read more »

April
29th

If lawmakers duck background checks, voters must act

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

There’s a reason lawmaking is often compared with making sausage: It isn’t always a pretty sight when legislators wrangle, compromise, horse trade and even yell at each other.

Still, compared with the initiative process, that’s generally the better way of getting things done; it more often results in laws that have been vetted for practicality as well as their chances of withstanding judicial review.

But when lawmakers fail to act on an issue of concern for significant numbers of their constituents — and especially when they’re intimidated by a powerful special interest — then it’s up to the people to act. In past years, for instance, lawmakers wouldn’t buck Big Tobacco in order to enact a statewide public smoking ban. So the people acted, passing an initiative by a wide margin to prohibit smoking in public places. Read more »

April
28th

Low-wage workers pay steep price for our bargain clothing

29emondayThis editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

That ridiculously low price tag for a new shirt is great, right? Everyone enjoys getting a good deal.

But tragedies like the one last week in Savar, Bangladesh, show that someone often ends up paying a steep price for that kind of bargain. In this case, it was hundreds of garment workers killed in the collapse of a substandard building housing several clothing factories.

It’s not the first such disaster. Last September, nearly 300 workers died in a fire in Islamabad, Pakistan. And in November, a factory fire killed 112 clothing workers in Tazreen, Bangladesh. Many smaller incidents have upwards of 600 workers over the past decade in Bangladesh, which has an estimated 4,000 clothing factories.

These kinds of Third World operations churn out the fashions we buy from big-name retailers like Read more »

April
27th

A good choice for Tacoma Link light-rail extension

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

There wasn’t an obvious “best” among the options for extending Link light rail further into Tacoma. But the City Council has tentatively chosen a very good one: the “E-1 North Downtown Central Corridor.”

Now all the city needs is to formally vote for it, get approval for its recommendation from the Sound Transit board, win a $50 million federal grant and find another $50 million or so from some other unidentified source.

In other words, this proposed Link project – essentially a consolation prize for not getting a light rail extension from King County – has a lot of hurdles to overcome before it becomes reality. It hasn’t even completely won over the council members, some of whom prefer a route that would serve low-income East Side neighborhoods and provide service near an expanded Emerald Queen Casino. Read more »

April
27th

Political recruiters are looking for a few good women

Last year as election filing time neared, I bemoaned in a blog posting the scarcity of women candidates who had announced that they would be seeking statewide office. “Where are the female candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, attorney general, public lands commissioner, insurance commissioner and superintendent of public instruction?” I asked.

One notable exception: two women were running for secretary of state (Kim Wyman won).

This time of year is candidate-recruitment season, and a new article in The Atlantic might persuade more women to run. Writer Molly Ball says, “These days, political consultants take for granted that, all else being equal, women make more desirable candidates.”

Why? Women candidates are seen to embody the kind of change frustrated voters seek. And, consultants say, voters “tend to assume women are more trustworthy, less corruptible and more in touch with everyday concerns. In a white-male-dominated political system, women are seen as outsiders.”

So why don’t more women run? Citing Gallup researcher Deborah Jordan Brook, Ball writes: Read more »

April
26th

Up close and personal with terrorists

This is too long to fit into our pages (Foreign Policy has a lot more room), but readers shouldn’t miss it.

You Can’t Tell a Terrorist by His Eyes

Jessica Stern (The Hoover Institute)
Jessica Stern (The Hoover Institution)

By Jessica Stern
2013, Foreign Policy

A few times, I have felt myself in the presence of true evil. At those times, I learned what it means to have the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s not just an expression. It happened to me when I met with a leader who recruited cannon fodder for his “jihad,” and on a few other occasions in the last couple decades that I’ve spent interviewing terrorists to learn why they do what they do. But, more often, the evil I’ve witnessed has been banal. I have found myself able to understand the mistaken moral logic that can turn a boy into a terrorist.

Here’s a surprising thing. Almost everywhere — in Pakistan, in Indonesia, in Texas — terrorists offer you tea. Sometimes a full meal.

Otherwise, they are quite different from one another. Their motivations vary — from irredentism, to pleasing the God they claim to worship, to cleansing the Earth of the mud-people that contaminate the world of purity in their minds. Some live in war zones with grievances that are easy for outsiders to grasp; for others, living in the cushy West, the war that is taking place is principally in their own minds, often over identity. Some are paid, some are blackmailed. Some are recruited, and some recruit themselves to their own holy war, whether at home or far away.

That latter seems to be what happened with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who, according to the latest reporting, recruited themselves to their own “jihad” against America, based, in part, on their opposition to the U.S. role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When it comes to understanding — and stopping — these kinds of leaderless resisters and small cells, we need to understand how terrorists think as individuals. Read more »

April
25th

A red line for Syria – and for President Obama

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

What does “red line” mean? What does “game changer” mean?

Either Barack Obama or Syria’s Bashar Assad will come to regret those words. In the near future, we’ll find out which.

When the president of the United States issues a warning that dire, he’d best be ready to back up the words with action. Assad’s government appears to have crossed Obama’s portentous line by using chemical weapons against rebels – such is the assessment of Britain, France, Israel and now the U.S. secretaries of Defense and State. What next?

If the evidence of nerve gas attacks is established beyond a reasonable doubt, Obama must come through – somehow – on his unspecified threat.

A U.S. invasion of Syria cannot be an option; the Middle East is enough of a mess already without a herd of American elephants stomping into a conflict few people on this side of the planet understand.

We want to help the good guys win, but it’s hard to figure out exactly who they are. Assad is a brutal tyrant, but some of his enemies are friends of al-Qaida, which makes them enemies of ours.

One of the best reasons to tread cautiously is the possibility that sarin – which is 500 times more toxic than cyanide – might fall into the hands of people who rejoiced at the sight of mangled Americans at the Boston Marathon.
Read more »

April
25th

Amber Alert needs fixing

Wednesday night’s Amber Alert was a fiasco – for television viewers, at least.

First it came on, but didn’t give any information, just saying that an Amber Alert had been issued. Then it came on again, giving information about a missing Marysville boy and the two adults he was believed to be with.

Fine. Not much I can do about it sitting in my Lakewood living room, but I get why these alerts are important.

A few minutes later, however, the alert comes back on – but the announcement is covered up by static. It goes on and on –

Read more »