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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for November 2007

Drive at 5

You know the drill…

Loose Thread Thursday

Once upon a time a mouse and a bird and a sausage lived and kept house together in perfect peace among themselves, and in great prosperity. — From “The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage” in the original Grimms’ Fairy Tales (not the sanitized Disney versions.)

It’s 8:45 a.m. and blog lines here are officially open.

Pay attention, Dudes

There’s a movie showing on cable now, Idiocracy, that is based in the distant future when everything — and everyone — has been so dumbed down that the president is an ex-wrestler (the photo here shows his motorcade). And crops are watered with a green substance containing electrolytes. Our editorial today outlines a fairly complex topic. Gary did a great job explaining it, and be sure to read it here.
But here’s the “Idiocracy introduction”: The Washington Supreme Court made a big decision last week, believe it. It involves taxes and lots of other important stuff. And Tim Eyman’s in it, too, dudes.

Here’s a non-Idiocracy excerpt:

But ever since I-601 was enacted 14 years ago, every legislature has been bound by its handcuffs. The Supreme Court has declined to address this seeming contradiction. It’s imperative that the court decide this once and for all, because the success of I-601 has given birth to several progeny, the latest being Initiative 960, which state voters approved this month. Sponsor Tim Eyman has assured voters that this additional shackle on lawmakers is on firm legal ground, because it is based on I-601.
But what if I-601 is unconstitutional?

The Drive at 5

At 3:30, I went out on the streets of downtown to run errands and the streets were jammed with cars. I figured people left work early, worried the roads would be slick tonight — or that the snow would fall. But it’s pretty clear out there as I head home.

Safe travels. Catch your opinions again tomorrow.

Loose Thread Tuesday

I can see traffic out my picture window. It’s moving slow on the North Side. Thank goodness for the ability to blog from home and face the traffic when it eases some in a couple of hours.

So, what’s on your snow globe?

Blog lines are open.

(Photo image from

Gas hogs, anyone?

From our Saturday edit:

The Bush administration was once again ticketed for driving too slowly on the energy reform highway. Playing the part of trooper this time was the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which slapped down a rule change last year that failed to close a loophole that allows lower fuel mileage standards for popular sport utility vehicles than passenger cars.

Last year, the National Highway and Safety Administration tweaked the average mileage standard for SUVs, pick-up trucks and minivans, raising it from 22.2 miles per gallon to 23.5 mpg by 2010. The standard for passenger vehicles is 5 mpg higher. That change was challenged as “trivial,” and the appeals court agreed. It also noted that the rule change did not sufficiently take into account greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, it kept in place outright exemptions for the largest of SUVS, such as Hummers.

We have everything to fear!

Guess this Tom Tancredo ad would be the flip-side of FDR’s “nothing to fear” speech.

The morning after: Friday loose thread

What’s on your minds and stomachs this morning?
Blog lines are open.
Yes, some of us are at work and feeling sorry for ourselves.

Loose Thread Wednesday

One more day to Tofurkey Day.

What’s on your minds this fine morning?

Blog lines are open.

Do you like the Riverfront Park rides?

Ever been to the Fun Forest at Seattle Center? That’s the area with the old-fashioned carnival rides. Looks like it’s history.

Which makes me think of the Riverfront Park rides (see photo). Aren’t they getting a bit tired, too? The Tilt-a-Whirl? Those airplanes? Still?

Do you like the use of that space? Think of any better uses?

(S-R file photo)

Taxes, taxes everywhere

From our editorial today:

Lawmakers should take this opportunity to undercut Eyman by reducing taxes on most homeowners and renters by slightly raising the property tax rates on those who aren’t struggling to pay. Lawmakers could do this and still stay within the overall 1 percent cap.
Currently, property taxes consume about 6 percent of household income for the 40 percent of households in low- to middle-income categories. Those at the top of the income ladder pay about 3 percent of their income on such taxes.

Got a solution to the tax system? Blog lines are open.

The dark and silly side of blogging

Blogging may well be the future of journalism, be that blogging by professional journalists or the so-called citizen journalists. But it does have its dark and silly sides.

The cartoon Doonesbury has a riff going on blogging by mainstream journalists. In the Sunday paper, the reporter character is teased for blogging “Has Clinton peaked? Only time will tell.” The reporter snarls: It’s a rough draft!”

Closer to home, there has been a commenter banned from many of our blogs. Today, someone sent a long, rambling letter to the editor about the commenter, warning us to keep him off our pages. The letter (which we never intended to publish) was signed Mr. Charles Winchester III.

Our astute features editor, Ken Paulman, e-mailed me back with an Internet link to Mr. Charles Winchester III.

Major Charles Emerson Winchester III is a fictional character, a principal on the television series, M*A*S*H, played by David Ogden Stiers.

Monday’s Loose Thread

We’re here and open for business.
What’s on your minds this Thanksgiving week?

(S-R file photo.)

Friday’s Loose Thread

Anyone else interested in that football game last night. Aside from Doug Floyd, Steve Smith and your resident Wildcat (me)?

OK, that’s the extent of my taunting. What’s on your minds today?

Diploma Mills

State needs to act to protect the integrity of college diplomas, in Our View.

County overburdened with sex offenders

In Our View, too many sex offenders are absorbed by Spokane County once they’ve done their time. It’s unfair that we have to tax ourselves with this imbalance.

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

So, what’s on your mind this morning as we move forward.

What phrase drives you crazy?

It’s heartening to see that Jim Kershner is annoyed with the phrase “going forward.” He says it is useless in just about every instance. That’s true from a writer’s perspective, but politics is about perception. “Going forward” means progress and progress is good, even if it is regressive.

Keep reading to see what I said about “moving forward” last January.

What is a current phrase or term that drives you nuts?

Ward system for Valley?

Who knew it was so hard to have a public discussion about electing council members by district? Nobody looked good in this episode.

Note: I do think the headline was over-the-top.

Smart Bombs

1. Do as we say, not as we do. That could be the U.S. motto when it comes to product safety.

2. Were the Hession ads out of character for him and Spokane? Yes.

So says Smart Bombs.

Mayor Mary Verner

Dennis Hession concedes and promises a smooth transition.

Loose Thread Friday

It’s early in the morning as this thread begins. I’m certain other morning people are awake now, too, even though it’s still dark outside.

Atlantic magazine this month has an article on the differences between morning and night people.

Morning people: Respect authority. More formal. Less likely to hold radical political opinions.

Night people: Independent. Nonconforming. More reluctant to listen to authority.

Agree or disagree with the descriptions? Or start your own thread.
Good Friday morning!

Loose Thread Thursday

I will summon a Satyr to dance,
a Centaur,
A Nymph
and a Faun;
I will picture
a warrior King,
a Giant,
a Naiad,
a Monster;
I will cut round the rim of the crater,
some simple
familiar thing.
Ezra Pound

Blog lines are open.

(Sandro Botticelli, “Pallas and the Centaur”, Uffizi Gallery, Florence)

Drive at 5

All these tales, told in the drowsey undertone with which men talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of Ichabod.
— From the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
Washington Irving.

Tent Cities: Do they help or hurt the cause?

Our editorial today talked about the controversy over the tent city for the homeless that has arisen on private land.

Realtor Robert Gilles owns the land where the tent city sits. In a press release he said that he hopes the “short time afforded by this location” will help the various groups reach a solution.

“I see a problem that needs to be addressed,” he wrote. “Last summer friends of mine tried to help a downtown homeless man who was burned to death. There was a man who slept under the freeway where I parked my car, and he was beaten to death. In both cases, there were prosecutions, but isn’t that a little late? Can all parties come together and arrive at a solution?”

In the meantime, Crabtree and a group of worried parents are hovering over the crosswalk at Sinto and Napa where 40 to 50 children must walk past the camp on their way home from school each weekday afternoon. Police are keeping a close eye on the camp. And neighbors nervously watch out their windows.

This little cluster of tents won’t be a lasting solution to the problem of homelessness. Surely citizens and government can devise far better answers to this plight of the poor.

Tent cities: Help or hurt the homeless cause? Blog lines are open.

(Stevens Elementary principal Mike Crabtree watches activities near the homeless camp. Photo by Brian Plonka/The Spokesman-Review.)

The Drive at 5

My benefactor began by saying he seldom gave advice to any one, but that it always bore the hall-mark of high value when he did give it.

— Samuel Clemens in “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.”

Have you ever given — or received — high value advice?

Blog lines are open.

Tuesday’s loose thread

Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at the happy age when a man can be idle with impunity, he took his place once more on the bench at the inn-door, and was reverenced as one of the patriarchs of the village and a chronicle of the old times “before the war.”
From Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving.

Idle with impunity or otherwise, your stories and opinions welcome here.

The Drive at 5

Monday’s parting words are taken from Jamie Tobias Neely’s Sunday column. She has been in contact for quite awhile now with Col. Darel Maxfield, an Army reservist who usually teaches history at Ferris High School but now heads up Besmaya Range Complex where Iraqi soldiers are trained. Here’s what he said:

I have learned every story is different. Every life is precious. Stupidity knows no national border. Hatred always consumes itself.

S-R file photo of Col. Darel Maxfield and his wife Lesley Maxfield.

Election predictions

Let’s take a guess at how the election will turn out. Pick the winners, not just who you think should win.

I’ll go first:

Mayor — Hession
Council Dist. 1 — Apple
Dist. 2 — Rush
Dist. 3 — Corker

Ref. 67 — passes
I-960 — passes
4204 (simple majority for school levies — passes

Your turn …

Monday’s Loose Thread

Good Monday morning to you all out there in blogland.

What’s on your minds?

Blog lines are open.

Best wishes to the remaining remnant

Blog friends, the time has come for me to say adieu. This round of layoffs at the S-R is breaking everyone’s hearts, staying and going, but I feel most intensely for those who are staying. An ironic plaque, a gift from a friend, hangs on my cubicle saying, “My job is secure — no one wants it.” But somebody else (probably a combination of folks) is going to have to do it starting next week. I’m sure they’ll handle it well.

It was fun to jump into the blogosphere with you. I’m sure you’ll continue to prosper. And who knows when I’ll jump in as a citizen.

Referendum 67

The anti-Ref. 67 group says the latest ad supporting the measure proves that the system works and that triple damages and lawsuits are unnecessary in getting insurance companies to cover claims. Well, yeah, if you have a newspaper columnist on your side.

Read about it here.

Meanwhile, the insurance industry has set a campaign spending record in opposing this measure.

Lightening the Load

Today’s editorial points out that innovative solutions will be required to help relieve Spokane County public defenders of their staggering case loads.

Read the editorial by following the link on the right side of this page. Then weigh in on the question:

How would you go about reducing the number of local misdemeanor cases?

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