Inside Opinion

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

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Category: Behind the scenes


Eugene Robinson column updated to reflect NSA revelations

thompThe Eugene Robinson column that appeared in today’s paper didn’t reflect revelations about the National Security Agency’s PRISM program. That story broke too late Thursday for him to update the column for Friday. We decided to go with the column as is but switched out a cartoon that only touched on the Verizon angle for this one on cyber spying.

On Friday, the Washington Post moved this updated version of Robinson’s column to reflect President Obama’s comments and news of the previously undisclosed NSA program.

Here’s the revised column.


WASHINGTON – Someday, a young girl will look up into her father’s eyes and ask, “Daddy, what was privacy?”

The father probably won’t recall. I fear we’ve already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen’s telephone calls were nobody else’s business. A time when people would have been shocked and angered to learn that the government was compiling a detailed log of ostensibly private calls made and received by millions of Americans. Read more »


Carrell was a staunch defender of his district

Our condolences to the family of state Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, who died Wednesday at age 69.

We always enjoyed talking with the straight-shooting lawmaker when he met with the editorial board. We didn’t always endorse him for election (mainly in his early years as a candidate), but we came to respect his gutsiness in fighting for his district, the 28th. His particular interest was in making sure Pierce County wasn’t the dumping ground for released convicts – a cause we strongly support.

I was looking back at our editorials and blog postings that mention Carrell and came across one

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Unfair to Evergreen?

A pleasant and faithful reader called me this morning to object to what she called a gratuitous shot at The Evergreen State College at the end of today’s editorial. She believed I had smeared the whole school; when I was writing it, I was thinking of a very small number of students.

Lesson for me: Write so readers understand, but also write so readers can’t misunderstand.

I’ve been watching people connected to Evergreen, including former students and “groupies” who are merely friends of friends of students, engage in malicious mischief and outright assaults for a long time now. I don’t like to call them “anarchists,” because some schools of anarchism have respectable pedigrees. I promised her links to stories and articles. Here’s our exchange:

Though we disagreed on the phone, I did appreciate your civil tone.

Some of the links below don’t report arrests but do illustrate connections with people who practice vandalism and what they call “direct action,” which includes smashing photography equipment. Note the connections with last year’s May Day events.

My experience has been that for every person arrested or convicted, there are quite a few others cheering him on or other otherwise encouraging him. As you noted, that would apply as much to drunken idiots at the UW and WSU as it would to politically motivated actions by students connected in some way to Evergreen.


Pat O’C

“Anarchist” “convergence” on TESC campus.

Former Evergreen student at last year’s May Day violence in Seattle.

Political graffiti reported (disapprovingly) on “anarchist” website.

2011 event on TESC campus to learn about Internet attacks to supplement “direct action” and “sabotage.”

Newspaper photographer roughed up after TESC professor tells “mainly students from The Evergreen State College” that the journalist shouldn’t be photographing protest. Afterward, The Olympian’s Tony Overman had his house and car vandalized.

Former Evergreen student convicted of arson at University of Washington. This is an old one; to me, it illustrates the persistence of this subculture.

Police pelted at anti-war protest.

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Sacramento letter writers aren’t keen on keeping the Kings

I’ve come to view letters to the editor as a fairly good indicator of public opinion around election time. I can usually predict how ballot measures are going to turn out just by the number of letters we receive on each side.

If that’s the case, then folks in Sacramento either don’t really care whether the Kings basketball team relocates to Seattle or the folks who do care don’t write letters.

Checking out four recent letters to the Sacramento Bee inspired by news that a local deep-pockets “whale” had emerged in the bid to buy the team, only one supported efforts to keep the Kings in California’s capital city. And even she admitted to being “disenchanted” with the franchise.

Two writers focus on how the proposed new stadium deal would be a bad one for Sacramento. A third opponent of keeping the team just seems tired of the whole thing: Read more »


Would Jewish readers find this cartoon offensive?

aria_c130203One of my jobs in the opinionator office is to post editorial cartoons online (click here for the site).  I post pretty much any color cartoon that comes in unless I think it’s too regional for local viewers to understand or, occasionally, because it’s offensive. Generally I give them the benefit of the doubt and post them, figuring online viewers see a lot of borderline material.

Today this one by Robert Arial came in; it’s a tribute to former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died Friday. It’s the editorial cartoonist cliché of the deceased person at heaven’s pearly gates, with Koch speaking his famous “How’m I doin’?” line.

We talked among ourselves here whether to post it, wondering whether some Jewish readers might find it offensive. Koch, a devout Jew, is wearing a halo – which we thought was a Christian thing. But a quick online search turned up a Q&A with a rabbi who says that the halo does indeed appear in Judaism. But we wondered if Jews would be bothered by the pearly gates, which in the cartoon genre are usually manned by St. Peter. This one doesn’t show any welcoming committee for Koch, but it still seemed like it portrays a Christian view of the afterlife.

Checking with the Judaism 101 website, I found this: Read more »


Puyallup students make the case for bond passage

We editorialize Monday in support of Puyallup School District’s Feb. 12 bond measure. It’s badly needed and would, among other things, help get rid of about 90 portables by replacing or rebuilding four elementary schools and adding classrooms to all three comprehensive high schools.

Students at those high schools – Rogers, Puyallup and Emerald Ridge – are fierce cross-town competitors. But several of them teamed up for a video, “Follow the apple,” in which they give practical, personal reasons for passing the bond measure from students’ point of view. To watch it on YouTube, click here.


Gender had nothing to do with WWII soldier’s skill

Several stories were available to us to run in connection with the women-in-combat issue. For our Sunday centerpiece, we’re running an article by Kayla Williams, a former sergeant and Arabic linguist with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). She is also the author of “Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army.” She supports the Department of Defense decision to open up combat roles to women.

Taking the opposite position on the same page is Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.

An interesting article on the topic is by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. He writes about one of the most celebrated women soldiers in history, Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Credited with killing 309 Nazis during World War II, she’s No. 5 on the Military Channel’s list of top 10 snipers.

Here’s the article. Read more »


How to avoid getting ‘catfished’ (thanks, State Department)

If you don’t know what “catfished” means, you haven’t been following the Manti Te’o saga. Short definition: getting involved online with a person who is misrepresenting him/herself. As in maybe not even existing.

The State Department is offering tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of these sweetheart scams. Here’s the link.

One tipoff that the person you’re “dating” is scamming you: “The scammer has incredibly bad luck — often getting into car crashes, arrested, mugged, beaten or hospitalized — usually all within the course of a couple of months.”

Friday we’re running an entertaining article by Bloomberg View sports columnist Johnathan Mahler, in which he places the Manti Te’o story in context with “Notre Dame’s grand tradition of hooey.” We had to cut it a bit in the print edition. Here’s the full article.

Read more »