Inside Opinion

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

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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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Trending issues: Same-sex marriage, the death penalty

Today was an important one for those who watch social trends. Rhode Island became the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and Maryland became the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. It was also the first state south of the Mason-Dixon line to get rid of capital punishment.

Those trends are heading one way: toward marriage equality and no death penalty. According to the Associated Press:

Maryland State Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat and constitutional law professor who opposes the death penalty, said he believes pressure is building around the country to focus law enforcement resources on things that are proven to lower the homicide rate.

“The trend lines are clear,” Raskin said. “There’s nobody who’s adding the death penalty to their state laws. Everybody is taking it away.” 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 »


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 »


The voters guide statement you’ll only read here

UPDATE: This posting now also includes the “against” statement drafted by Ken Miller.

Robert Hill, currently residing at the Pierce County Jail, was 12 minutes late submitting this statement opposing the Tacoma School District’s proposed $500 million bond measure on the Feb. 12 ballot. So the voters pamphlet will only have a statement in support of the measure. See the news article here.

Don’t get me wrong: I fully support Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson’s decision not to accept the statement. Rules are rules, and if the rules are stretched 12 minutes for one statement, why not 12 hours? Couldn’t the other side sue the county if it were to break its rules?

In a Friday editorial, we criticize the way statement writers are selected in Pierce County: by the governing body that is putting a funding measure on the ballot. How aggressive will a school district or transit agency really be to seek out people to write a cogent “against” statement? We think the process needs to be refined to either have a less biased party make the selection or require the governing body to do more to solicit statement writers.

Anyway, here’s Hill’s unedited statement, which he emailed to our office on New Year’s Eve. It’s not all that great, but I’ve certainly seen worse statements in voters pamphlets. And credit Hill for at least being willing to take on the task that others were unwilling to do. Read more »


A coup in the Senate, but not a ‘blood purge’

The big story of the day is the “bipartisan” coup in the state Senate. Two Democrats joined the Republicans to give them 25-24 control of the Legislature’s upper house. They’re calling it the “Majority Coalition Caucus.”

Two architects of that takeover – Sens. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, and Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville – dropped by Monday afternoon to brief the editorial board on the move that will install Tom as Senate majority leader. (We’ll have an editorial in the print edition Tuesday; a sneak preview has already been posted on this blog.) The other Democratic defector, Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, will

Read more »


Want to be a reader columnist? Here’s how

Since 2000, we’ve reserved a spot on our Monday opinion pages for contributions from a selected panel of four to six local reader columnists. Now it’s time to invite readers to apply for our 2013 roster of guest writers.

We are looking for contributors who represent the diversity of South Sound residents – urban, suburban and rural, young, old and in between.

To apply, submit two fresh sample columns (not previously written material), each 500 to 700 words. Include a cover letter that includes your phone number and tells us a bit about yourself. Read more »