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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for August 2008

Sunday editorials

All politics, all the time. Today’s “Our view” offereings include a comment apiece on the nomonations (or nomination to be in one case) of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.

Dumb Bomb

Worst point of the day about Sarah Palin comes from Steve Doocy of Fox News. He explains how Palin does indeed have foreign policy experience. More than Joe Biden. You just have to listen to appreciate it.

Hurting…uh, herding cats

The controversy over euthanizing stray cats in Spokane continues. Friday’s editorial talks about it, and you can, too.

Thursday’s editorial

Should health care workers have the discretion to withhold treatments or medicines from patients because of their own moral or philosophical concerns about the people, procedures or prescriptions involved? Today’s “Our view” tells you what we think, and we invite your responses.

Labor and energy

A few days ago, one poster alluded to…

a LEED certified building on SFCC’s campus that is not being “managed” the way the contractor developed it because the Union will not train and effect the maintenance staff in the specified methods to make that building as energy efficient as possible.

I’ve looked into that and the SFCC facilities director is scratching his head. In fact, he tells me the energy-efficiency aspects of the sn-w’ey’-mn building at SFCC (the name is Inland Salish for “place of commerce”) is entirely automated. No “human interface” is necessary.

If anyone has more information on that, I’d like to hear some details. Or if it’s unfounded, I’d like to clear that up as well.

Loose thread time

Lots of buzz today on cable news as the commentators try to analyze Hillary Clinton’s speech last night and anticipate Bill’s tonight. Poor old Joe Biden is practically being overlooked.
You can get in the act, too, right here. Or, as usual, you can launch a conversation about anything dear to your heart (well almost anything).

Blowin’ in the wind

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s quarterly newsletter talks about a prospective new technology for developing wind power. Instead of using land-based windmills, this approach would use airborne windmills, tethered to power generation lines on the ground below. For more, check out one of these Web sites:

Late out of the gate

Sorry to be tardy, but here’s your link to Tuesday’s editorial, which talks about problems with the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

News or daily affirmation?

Leroy Sievers was the “Nightline” producer who chronicled his life after being diagnosed with cancer. Sievers recently died, and in reading about him I was struck by his take on today’s audience for news.

“The audience has changed,” he told LA Weekly in 2005. “People don’t necessarily want to hear both sides of the story, which is what ‘Nightline’ did best. They want to hear, ‘You’re right! They’re wrong!’ ” He added: “Someone said to me once that people want to go to bed happy and the show didn’t let them. My response to that was it’s not necessarily a happy world.”

The proliferation of blogging and Internet news sites has been a happy occasion for those who want their daily affirmation, rather than the news, but has that been a good development for society?

“Will govern for cash”

A weekend story listed Joe Biden’s net worth at less than $150,000. I assumed that was a typo — until I checked this story from a year and a half ago in The Washington Post.

Conventional thinking

A downtown hotel of historical significance in Spokane closes in what appears to be a regrouping maneuver. A sign of bad times for tourism here? Not according to overall figures. As Monday’s editorial notes, the Ridpath’s struggles are in contrast with an otherwise brightening picture.

Hello, my name is Joe

Sen. Joe Biden will round out the Democratic ticket as Barack Obama’s running mate. Like Republican nominee-to-be John McCain, these are two guys from the legislative branch running for executive roles. What are your thoughts about Biden, and about the collective credentials of the running mates? What do you expect/want to see when McCain announces his choice?

The August Crazies

As we get prepared here to close up shop for the weekend at AMOO, just thought I’d throw out this question.

Is the end of August always a little weird for you?

I’ve been talking to women friends this week who say by the end of August, nerves are frayed, the fun’s been funned and everyone with kids awaits the beginning of the school year and its routine.

An older friend, whose kids are gone, said she thought the August crazies would flee the nest with her children. Didn’t happen. She still feels some anxiety this time of August.

Enjoy the weekend!

Good news for book lovers

(A grand staircase leads to the lower levels of the new Coeur d’Alene Library, which opened a year ago. JESSE TINSLEY/The Spokesman-Review.)

From our editorial today:

in recent years, libraries struggled with identity crises. People could find so much on the Web. People stopped reading as much, especially our younger folks, “Harry Potter” notwithstanding. Taxpayers kept paying for libraries, but hours were slashed when city budgets grew thin. Libraries seemed, to some, not just an endangered species, but a fossil. Alas.

But libraries always gain in popularity during tough economic times, according to the American Library Association. We now have science-fiction-style gas prices. Discretionary money is disappearing faster than old library card catalogs. And so people are returning to their libraries, where books, videos and Internet use don’t cost a dime.

Participation in youth summer reading programs is up in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. Checkouts are up 12 percent in the city of Spokane, 5 percent in Spokane County and an amazing 73 percent in Coeur d’Alene, because, in part, of an amazing new library.

Favorite library memories? Blog lines open.

Hail-O! Caught in the storm

I was driving to the Spokane Valley just as the huge thunderstorm appeared. I should have been smart and parked underneath the I-90 overpass as I saw a police motorcycle — and several cars — do.

Instead, I got off the freeway at Argonne, but for the last few minutes of my drive toward the Argonne exit, I was driving on instinct alone. It was impossible to see. I scooted into a parking lot and parked close to a huge truck, shielding one side of my car from the hail. It was cartoon hail. Huge. I thought my car would be dented. In addition, lots of lightning. After about five minutes, it passed. I drove by a gas station. Cars had crammed themselves underneath the overhangs above the gas pumps. Eerie.

In journalism world, we often write about how weather surprised people. Flooding their streets, their homes, whisking them away in hurricanes and tornadoes.

The weather between noon and 1 p.m. here wasn’t that strong, but it showed the vulnerability we all have to the weather that hits, unannounced.

Anyone else out there get caught in the worst of it?

Loose Thread Thursday

Olympics — A lifetime of training for just ten seconds. — Jesse Owens, 1936 Olympics.

What did you work really hard to accomplish — for weeks, months, years — and have the moment of glory last only a short time? Blog lines are open on that question and any other.

Hoarders: Collecting stories here

(Dave Chameides shows some of the six months’ worth of trash, including plastic and glass bottles stacked up the stairway, in the basement of his home in Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 1, 2008. Most outsiders would likely write off Chameides as a hoarder. But the man who made a commitment to stop throwing anything away for one year prefers to think of the plastic trays, wrappers and used tea bags in his basement in more lofty terms - it’s his contribution to the study of consumerism. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon))

Our editorial today began:

The disorder is called compulsive hoarding, and many sufferers keep the disorder a secret from neighbors by piling stuff inside their homes. But sometimes the newspapers, plastic bags and spare parts spill onto the yard. The “collections” become eyesores and fire hazards.

Have you ever lived next to messy neighbors? Known or loved a hoarder? Did anything work to get the mess cleaned up? Get help for the hoarder? Stories, please.

Last day to vote

Have you voted? Will you? Do you like the Top Two format? Discuss any and all of that here.

Loose Thread Tuesday

(Jean-Claude Killy, left, and Prince Albert of Monaco, members of the Olympic Committee, in a 2005 photo. Killy was an Olympic champ in skiing in the 19690s. AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

The best and fastest way to learn a sport is to watch and imitate a champion. — Jean-Claude Killy

Tuesday morning. Olympics still on. This week’s loose thread theme: Champions.

So what cause would you like to champion this morning? On your mark, set, go. Blog lines are officially open.

Running start

We’ve talked before about judges who resign without filling out an elected term, leaving it to the governor or county commissioners to choose a successor. The same concern — about letting political officials give someone an incumbent’s headstart before the voters can have a say — holds true with the Spokane School Board. Monday’s editorial talks about it.

Suit case

Without question, too many Americans are too eager to sue one another over too many issues. So it makes sense to allow popular deep-pocket targets, such as municipalities, to seek remedies against frivolous litigation. But the city of Spokane has a history of using that method not only to ward off unworthy claims but also to intimidate just about anyone, even those with reasonable claims, from resorting to the courts to pursue justice. Saturday’s editorial applauds Spokane Mayor Mary Verner for ending the practice. Do you agree or disagree that this was a proper move?

Don’t steal their ‘Thunder’

The film “Tropic Thunder” has led to some calls for banning certain words (in this case derogatory terms for intellectually disabled people) from certain venues because they detract from human dignity. Today’s editorial calls for the increased exercise of free speech rather than its restriction. The laudable efforts of advocates for the disabled, in this instance, should continue, and we believe in the end they will strengthen the cause more than censorship would.

Minorities to be in the majority

Ethnographers are predicting that by 2042, non-Hispanic white citizens will be outnumbered by groups currently called minorities. No other country is experiencing such a racial/ethnic overhaul.

1. Do you have a problem with this?

2. Should government do something to head this off?

3. Will this make the Inland Northwest a more desirable place to live for those who want to, um, get away from it all?

Lessons from Duncan

Today’s editorial expounds the reasons pursuing the death penalty is unwise, but they have little to do with how undeniably heinous Joseph Duncan’s crime was.

Justice, closure and catharsis are often cited as reasons to pursue executions, but death-penalty cases necessarily delay the payoffs because the courts must be sure that errors didn’t lead to such an irreversible punishment. The time and expense are enormous. That’s why the state of Idaho has executed only one person since the death penalty was reinstated 35 years ago. The federal government has executed three people since Congress reinstituted the penalty in 1988.

Meanwhile, victims who try to move on with their lives are involved in decades-long sentencing and appeal processes which continue to raise shadows of the past. We hope the end of this phase of Shasta Groene’s ordeal is in sight.

For government wonks

The Washington state Office of Financial Management (in other words, the governor’s budget office) has launched a new Web site where you can find information about state agencies’ spending and fiscal performance. Check it out here.

The benefits of high gas prices

The LA Times has a good editorial with informative links about the silver lining to high gas prices.

1. Demand wanes, which drops prices.

2. Makes U.S. manufacturers think twice about using cheap foreign labor and then shipping products here.

3. Decline in greenhouse-gas emissions.

4. Increased purchase of locally grown produce.

Of course, if Americans react to lower prices by returning to gluttonous ways, the price will rise.

Where in the world is South Ossetia?

Am I the only one who had never heard of South Ossetia before the recent conflict between Georgian and Russian military forces there?

This means I’ve had some catching up to do over the last few days, and I feel like I need an international relations degree before I can even read a news story that explains what is really going on there. So far it has been “Russian officials say/deny” and “Georgian officials say/deny.”

Though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others are correct to call for a ceasefire, it will take a while for me to sort out the he-saids and she-saids to know what the heart of the problem is. Both President Bush and presidential aspirant Barack Obama have made clear injunctions to Russia to quit meddling with the sovereign territory of Georgia — but to me it doesn’t look quite that simple.

Meanwhile, thousands are dead or displaced.

What do you do when you hear of such horrors halfway around the world?

Our view: Welcome new neighbors

The planned whitewater park on the Spokane River has already undergone changes in response to environmental concerns. Now it’s time for Peaceful Valley residents to give their input for how their new neighbor will settle in. We urge them to attend and make the whitewater park a revitalizing influence.

Some Saturdays make Mondays bearable

The great thing about loose threads here at A Matter of Opinion is that you can introduce whatever topics you like. I’ll start.

After a day at Silverwood from which I came away with a blistering sunburn, I went to CdA Summer Theatre’s opening night of “Les Miserables” Saturday night.

It was spellbinding.

I had seen a traveling Les Miz show before, but I wasn’t prepared for this homegrown production to be so professionally and creatively staged. The leads were seasoned professionals of course, and my favorite by far was Geoffrey Blaisdell’s hauntingly hardened Javert.

The news of Ella’s Supper Club closing down wasn’t pleasant; I’ve enjoyed it several times in my two years in Spokane. But the CdA Summer Theatre and the Spokane Symphony (among others) give me hope that even in these hard times the arts won’t die. Like everything else, they may be pruned once in a while. But humans can’t live without beauty, and I’m privileged to live in an area where natural and artificial beauty are still accessible in such abundance.

(Photo by S-R’s Jesse Tinsley: Douglas Webster stars as Jean Valjean in the CdA Summer Theatre production of “Les Miserables.”)

Your weekend loose thread

Hate to end Lyrics Week on a downer. Edwards was my favorite candidate in 2004. But:

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

And, of course:

Love child, never meant to be
Love child, (scorned by) society
Love child, always second best
Love child, different from the rest

Oh well …

Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed.

Be good, kids.

Scooters are polluters

With the rising price of gas, more people are turning to scooters to get around town. They definitely get great mileage, but did you know that they pollute more than a Hummer? That’s news to me.

Would that alter your decision?

(S-R file photo)

Aug. 19 primary endorsements

Washington voters, look for your ballots sometime toward the end of the week. The editorial board will make recommendations in 12 races that we believe warranted comment in the primary.

Here is the list of endorsements so far:

State Legislative races:

— State House of Representatives, 3rd District, Position 1: John Waite.

— State House of Representatives, 4th District, position 2: Diana Wilhite.

— State House of Representatives, 6th District, position 1: Kevin Parker.

— State House of Representatives, 7th District, position 1: Sue Lani Madsen.

— State House of Representatives, 9th District, position 2: Joe Schmick.

Court races:
— Spokane County Superior Court, Position 10:Linda Tompkins.

— Spokane County Superior Court seat, Position 1:Annette Plese.

— Court of Appeals, Division III: Kevin Korsmo.

— Supreme Court, Position 4: Charles Johnson.

— Supreme Court, Position 3: Mary Fairhurst.

State races:
— Superintendent of Public Instruction: Terry Bergeson.

— State Treasurer: Allan Martin.

Spokane’s downtown plan

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles
forget all your cares
and go downtown. —
Petula Clark

This evening, citizens can comment on the downtown plan that will go to the City Council for approval in October. More than 500 people already have.

We like the vision of a more walkable, bikeable and livable downtown. What are your thoughts?

Forget Paris

This is an excellent, easy-to-understand analysis of the energy challenges this country faces. It playfully plays off Paris Hilton’s “candidacy”, but includes important data and informative links.

Kudos to the Christian Science Monitor for putting the drilling vs. conservation issues into perspective.


So in short, the Hilton Plan seems to have it backward: Even under fairly conservative estimates we have the ability to develop more fuel-efficient technology before we can access all the oil that’s offshore.

But it also looks like, even with such technology, the United States would still need to be importing significant amounts of oil from abroad in the coming decades. If we really wanted to get ourselves off the sauce, we’d need to combine these technological improvements with developing walkable communities and extending public transit.

Just don’t read the comments that come after the article. The big debate there is whether Hilton is, in fact, hot.

I mean, DUH!

Just folks

Looks like John McCain is taking another run at branding Obama a celebrity. Seems odd given his extensive background in the movies and on TV. Guess this dovetails with the “elitist” label being hung on Obama.

But can McCain honestly make the claim that he’s a regular guy? Doesn’t seem like it. Unless owning eight houses is now the norm.

Does this line of attack resonate with you?

Hat tip to Talking Points Memo

Wednesday’s Loose Thread

If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away

Just think, two more days and Lyrics Week will be over.

Anticipation. Anticipation. Is making me wait.

So, what’s on your mind (other than a song you can’t get rid of).

If a tree doesn’t fall in the forest …

One of the state’s largest employers, Weyerhaeuser, is axing 1,500 jobs. One of the problems is the housing slump. I’m constantly amazed at the far-reaching effects from the burst in the housing bubble.

Is your job in jeopardy?

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

Mother doesn’t go out any more
Just sits at home and rolls her spastic eyes
But every weekend through the door
Come words of wisdom from the world outside (“Sunday Papers” — Joe Jackson)

So what are your words of wisdom today?

Dumb Bombs

We have “Smart Bombs”, but what about “Dumb Bombs”? How about we compile a compendium of articles, opeds, columns and quotes that reflect less-than-intelligent thinking?

(Now, some might say “Smart Bombs” already does that. Duly noted.)

Here’s an article (via Kevin Drum) from the Wall Street Journal that posits the notion that Barack Obama may be too fit to be president. Not because he’s brilliant and overqualified, but because he’s fit (some — me! — might even say skinny).

Can it really be the case that Obama will turn off some voters because his very presence reminds them that they’re overweight? Bush is fit. Why didn’t that hurt him? So was Kerry.

Anyway, put your nominees in Comments and if there are enough, I’ll put together a Dumb Bombs feature.

Freeze frame

Gov. Gregoire has imposed a number of spending freezes in reaction to the troubled economy and a projected revenue shortfall of $2.7 billion.

Do you think this goes too far? Not far enough?

Guilt by association

Mr. Smart Bombs notes that guilt by association is a rather blunt tool with which to strike a political foe.

A current example is Shelly Short, a 7th Legislative District candidate. Allegations have been leveled against her husband. If true, should that matter to voters? Or is it different when it’s a spouse?

Be interested in your thoughts on this.

Monday’s Loose Thread

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. (Warning: I’m feeling lyrical this week. In fact, I’m hooked on a feeling. This affliction could manifest itself it in weird and wonderful ways.)

Anyway, wouldn’t it be nice if you could discuss your thoughts on this Monday, Monday?

Keo Chronicles: Aug. 1, 1945

Franny Crosby gave a luncheon honoring Edith Stone. The Stones are leaving here to go to California about the middle of the month. Io stopped and picked us up about 12:15. The luncheon was at 12:30. It was perfect, like everything Franny does — a crab salad with vegetables added, hot rolls, strawberry jam, very fine (Del Monte brand) pickles, coffee, ice creams and two kinds of frosted cake — one chocolate and the other white.

*About the photo
This is Keo’s husband Francis “Newt” LaVell with his cool car in 1925.

*What are the Keo Chronicles? Read rest of entry.

Loose Thread Friday

(AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Tony Spina)

My makeup wasn’t smeared, I wasn’t disheveled, I behaved politely, and I never finished off a bottle, so how could I be alcoholic? — Betty Ford.

Blog lines officially open for the day. What’s on your mind?

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A Matter of Opinion is really a matter of many opinions — those held by the people responsible for the opinion pages of The Spokesman-Review ... and yours. Check in regularly to follow the discussion and help keep it lively.

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