Inside Opinion

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

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Archives: July 2009

July
31st

Who has the right to “repent” for Hiroshima?

Father Bill Bichsel’s Journey of Repentance – an anti-war event in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – appears to be making a big splash in Japan.

A big enough splash that it brought the New York bureau chief of The Asahi Shimbun – Japan’s equivalent of the New York Times – to Tacoma yesterday to interview a supporter and an opponent of the event. Me as well.

Yamanaka Toshihiro, a lanky, soft-spoken man, wanted to talk about an editorial I’d written about the angry local reactions to the "journey" (which I uncharitably described as "moral preening"). The editorial neither defended nor attacked the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki all those years ago; I was attempting to place those bombings in the larger context of a war in which the mass killing of civilians became a deliberate strategy on both sides.

World War II – which left as many as 70 million people dead – was the worst thing that ever happened to humanity, at least in the space of so few years. (The smallpox vaccine might argue to the contrary, but it had centuries on its side.)

Yamanaka wanted to know why so many of our letter writers were upset about the Journey of Repentance. He said Bichsel and company would be received as celebrities in Japan, "like Michael Jackson."

Obviously, Americans and Japanese are going to have different takes on World War II, especially on the atomic bombings. The Japanese see the latter – quite accurately – as an unspeakable horror in which vast numbers of their countrymen (and women and children) were burned alive. Most Americans to this day tend to see the A-bomb as a brutal necessity that ultimately saved more lives than it destroyed by bringing the war to a quick end.

Still, many Americans have made gestures of sympathy to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in years past without stirring up the kind of reaction we saw this time.

Read more »

July
31st

Gates, Crowley and the teachable moment

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through …

So said the president who brought Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and police Sgt. James Crowley to the Rose Garden Thursday for the much-lampooned "suds summit."

But Barack Obama didn’t utter those words last week. He uttered them as a presidential candidate almost a year and a half ago while trying to extricate his campaign from inflammatory comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor.

This time, Obama was doing damage control for his own comment that the police "acted stupidly" July 16 in arresting Gates, a personal friend. Obama quickly swallowed those words, but the world had already seen an American president entangling himself in a front-porch dispute in Cambridge, Mass., that he admitted knowing little about.

It was, as Obama said, "a teachable moment" – for him, for Gates and Crowley, for the country.

White Americans can take one lesson away from this: A black American man can get an Ivy League education, become a constitutional law professor, a U.S. senator and finally president of the United States – and still cringe when he hears of a black friend arrested after an unfounded suspicion of burglary.

Read more »

July
31st

UPlace candidate misleading voters


Let’s make this clear: The News Tribune is endorsing incumbent Linda Bird for University Place City Council Position 1. We think she is by far the best candidate in the field of three on the Aug. 18 primary ballot.


But UPlace voters might think otherwise if they’ve seen the many campaign signs posted by one of her two opponents, Dan Carnrite. Big stickers across his signs read: "Carnrite better choice," and he attributes the quote to The News Tribune.


He took the words "better choice" out of context and is

Read more »

July
31st

What’s with all the ‘czars’?…

I don’t get this "czar" thing. When did it start? Can I blame it on Nixon? Carter? Maybe the Gipper’s "drug czar"? Or can we blame it on Bill Clinton for making Hillary the "health czar"? And poor Bill Bennett. He started out as a bona fide secretary of education, but by the time he got recycled into the second Bush administration, he too had to be a "czar."


Folks, "czars" are from Russia. They are monarchists. Hereditary autocrats. Authoritarians.


This is America. This is a republic. We don’t have "czars" in America.


Well, yes we

Read more »

July
30th

Adam Smith: Don’t expand health coverage with a blank check

One of our homeboy members of Congress, Adam Smith, called us from the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning to explain his uneasiness rushing health care reform (an uneasiness we share: see our editorial tomorrow).


“This bill is 1,000 pages long,” he said. “I just want to make sure we take time to understand it before we move forward on it."


Smith is right in identifying cost controls as the key to everything else.


"You will not be able in any sustained way to increase access if you do not control costs. There’s not enough

Read more »

July
30th

What was on tap at the ‘Suds Summit’?

The White House “Suds Summit” is over, and the speculation is rampant over its deeper meaning, if any.


Among beer fans, however, the discussion is over the participants’ drinks of choice – and what they would have chosen if given the chance.


NPR consulted Atlanta beer expert Matt Simpson on the subject. Here’s his perspective.


Bud Light (President Obama’s choice): “Bud Light is considered a ‘lawn mower’ beer, perfect for after mowing the lawn or when you get home from work. It’s one step up from a nice, tall glass of ice water . . . “


Read more »

July
30th

Friday: Slow down on health care

What we’re working on for tomorrow:


Congress should not be trying to rush health care reform through this summer. As Rep. Adam Smith told us yesterday, a plan that would fall apart before passage upon too much scrutiny could be junked in a hurry after passage because of public backlash. That’s happened before: in Washington state in 1994 and with the Medicare catastrophic plan in 1988.

July
29th

Military bacon still besieges Pentagon

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Sometimes even the military wants no part of the military-industrial complex.

Congress has a long, long tradition of treating military programs as pork – buying weapons for the benefit of home districts and political allies, not the armed forces.

The most flagrant recent example was the relentless congressional effort to perpetuate production of the F-22 Raptor, a futuristic stealth jet that’s all but irrelevant to the kind of fighting U.S. forces are actually doing. The Raptor would be right at home in a science fiction flick, but it can’t do a thing to fend off road bombs in Iraq or mortar attacks in Afghanistan. And it costs $331 million a copy.

Further production of the F-22 was finally shot down last week after sustained attack by President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Sen. John McCain and others willing to face down the jet’s powerful backers.

Read more »