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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for February 2008

Snow Days won’t be made up

That the final decision — finally — from Spokane Public Schools.


It’s Friday’s Loose Thread

Before solving the world’s problems today, how about a little levity.

Here, Saturday Night Live pokes fun at Hillary (back when she was “inevitable”).

Here, President Bush gets the SNL treatment (back when he questioned the science on “global warmings”)

Your tax dollars locked up

Here’s the opening paragraph of this AP article.

For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America’s rank as the world’s No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Over 20 years, the rate of increase for prison costs has been six times higher than that for higher education.

In addition, incarceration rates are far outstripping any increases in crime.

Have we gotten too tough? Or is this a good sign for public safety?

Sex abuse, kids and justice

Should jurors know about some accused pedophiles’ pasts? In Our View, the answer is yes.

Middle name “Hussein” — don’t forget that

This press release via the Tennessee Republican Party Web site is ridiculous on many levels. The mention of Obama’s middle name. The picture of him in “Muslim” garb (which is “clarified” at the end as Somali tribal garb) and the guilt-by-association riffs.

But the part that really screams “Hack!” is this quote:

“You don’t even have to go outside Obama’s campaign to find advisers who are anti-Israel,” said Bill Hobbs, communications director for the Tennessee Republican Party.

And who got that quote from Bill Hobbs? Just scroll to the end to discover that it is … Bill Hobbs! Good thing he was available for comment.

“Just how dumb does he think people are?” asked Gary Crooks.

(via Political Animal)

UPDATE: The photo has been removed from the press release. And so has the middle name “Hussein”. Wonder if he’ll remove the self-quote, too.

Meanwhile, there is a tiff between the Obama and the Clinton camps over who supplied the photo to the Drudge Report.

What is your reaction to the photo? Will it really bother people?

UPDATE NO. 2: A radio talk show host in Cincinnati invoked “Hussein” along with other “red meat” before an appearance by McCain.

When McCain came on stage, he repudiated the comments. Good for him.

(AP photo)

Hook up to the sewer

It’s certainly a financial burden for mobile home parks to hook up to sewer lines rather than rely on septic tanks, but the health of the aquifer is paramount, in Our View.


Wednesday’s Loose Thread

With today’s historical page focusing on Richard Nixon’s resignation, I offer this quote from him:

“I reject the cynical view that politics is a dirty business.”

What’s on your mind today, my fellow Americans?

Thoughts on the Schrock case?

I’d love to hear opinions on the case of Clifford Helm, who was charged with vehicular homicide after a crash that killed five children. The surviving parents have offered forgiveness.

Jury selection has begun. How do you want this to turn out?

Pass a drug test; keep a scholarship

As an incentive for kids who aren’t top-notch students but who make good decisions about drugs and alcohol, some Idaho lawmakers want to introduce a new scholarship program.

Are they high? Or perfectly sober?

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

The destination of choice for discerning Internet travelers.

Vigil or no vigil? Service or no service?

(S-R file photo by Christopher Anderson)

The Death and Dying Dialogues series prompted me to write my Sunday column on baby boomer death and dying trends, such as Hospice houses, holistic hospital settings and green burials.

One trend I labeled “negative” was this trend:

There are boomers who refuse to hold vigil with their dying parents, because they say they don’t want to remember them “that way.” Some boomers insist that no memorial services be held for them when they die. Both actions deny death and short-circuit the grieving process.

“Ritual serves a very important process,” (Hospice chaplain Ann) Hurst explains. “It makes the death concrete and helps the grieving process. We don’t want people to be sad. We want to gloss it over. But it doesn’t allow survivors to do their grief. And if they don’t do it now, it will come back later as unmourned losses.”

To reach mature adulthood, no matter our ages, we must work through difficult and painful emotions. Those who have been privileged to hold vigil at a dying person’s bedside and honor that person’s life at a daylong memorial celebration understand how joy and sweetness surface through the sorrow.

I’ve heard from readers today who said that not holding vigils and not having services are not necessarily negative. Rather, they see them as preferences to grieve in their own private ways. They make some good points and I hope people will jump in on both sides of this one.

A word about this blog

Some comments were taken down over the weekend, because they violated important rules of decorum: No name-calling. No foul language.

Sorry to burst bubbles on people’s pet theories for why those posts were removed. It really was in reaction to juvenile posting methods, not whether we disagreed with the points being made.


Saturday editorial: Fill that health chief position

In Our View, it’s taken too long to replace Kim Thorburn, the former head of the Spokane Regional Health District, and the vacancy is becoming an embarrassment.

Your thoughts?

Weekend letter: Washington and the environment

Republican politicians are certainly all worked up over the environment. (…) All the Republicans that you quote seem to find many horrible things that will happen if we try to reduce CO2 emissions. Our summers are getting hotter and drier, our winters are wetter but the snowpack is melting sooner. The result: more forest fires, less irrigation water and poorer crops. These things are good?

If our local legislators give a flat “no,” the West-Siders will ignore them. If they would work together we could get legislation that would work for all. — Bryan Bremner, Republic, Wash.

How much compromise is acceptable (on either side) when it comes to environmental issues in Washington?

International harmony

I have been closely following this event through other news sources, but it would be nice to have it mentioned somewhere in Blog-dom that The New York Philharmonic Orchestra have arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea, where they are slated to perform in concert, which is a first in our history as nations.

The United States have not established diplomatic relations with North Korea, so all the affairs of allowing over 300 Americans involved with the performance was handled by the Swedish Embassy.

It is quite an emotional event for the symphony, not to mention the event may open diplomatic doors as nothing else can do.

The above note is from regular poster Dave Laird. The New York Philharmonic Symphony’s Asian tour has included performances in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. The group’s landing today in North Korea can be seen on raw AP video.

Was Obama really a druggie?

The New York Times had this article two weeks ago in which reporters tried to square Barack Obama’s accounts of college-age drug use in his memoirs with those who knew him at the time.

Verdict: He may not have been the partier he portrayed himself to be. How weird is an investigation like that?

Maybe this whole “Long Run” series needs to be re-thought (that’s the label that ran with the McCain piece, too).

The Global Cooling Consensus

Some skeptics of global warming point to the 1970s and say the consensus then was that the world was cooling. So why believe these scientists who can’t make up their minds?

Problem is, there was no consensus back then, according to a review of peer-reviewed articles. Even then, the bigger concern was warming.

Excerpt: The supposed “global cooling” consensus among scientists in the 1970s — frequently offered by global-warming skeptics as proof that climatologists can’t make up their minds — is a myth, according to a survey of the scientific literature of the era.


Ducks must fend for themselves

As a University of Oregon alumnus, I feel special sympathy for the Manito Pond ducks who have lost their meal ticket, in the form of volunteer dispensers of now-banned bread bits. It’s like removing the popcorn bowls at Maxie’s. Alas, better to get refocused by tossing readers a few crumbs. Here’s today’s loose thread.

Running mates and loose threads

I’ve been wondering, if people decided how to vote in the 2008 presidential election based on the prospective first spouse, who would win? Would your spouse preference be in conflict with your candidate preference?
With that, here’s your loose thread for Thursday.

Catholics for Clinton?

This just in from Jesuit Thomas J. Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center and former editor of America magazine.

Up through Super Tuesday, Catholic voters were strong supporters of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. The Catholic vote helped her win in New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, and New Mexico. In these states she won the Catholic vote by 15 to 40 percentage points. On Super Tuesday, she only lost the Catholic vote in Missouri and Georgia. If she had won the Catholic vote in Missouri, she would have won the state.

Experts are divided on why Catholics voted for Hillary. Most scholars believe that once the number crunchers get a hold of the exit poll data and control for income, gender, age, education and issue concerns, the “Catholic factor” will disappear. For example, in New Hampshire Catholics tend to be working-class ethnics, while in California, many are Hispanic.

Some wonder if this could be a case of Catholic racism, or is it a case of Catholic feminism? Most studies show, however, that white Catholics are more liberal than white Protestants.

Another theory is that Catholics are uncomfortable with the evangelical rhetorical style of Obama’s speeches. Interestingly, Catholic Republicans rejected Huckabee and voted for McCain. He only lost the Catholic vote in Romney’s home states, Massachusetts and Michigan, and in Georgia. Catholics helped McCain get the nomination.

Covering the coverage

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail message that arrived in my in box today from the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

In the wake of impressive wins in the so-called “Potomac Primary,” Barack Obama emerged as the clear frontrunner last week in the media narrative for the Democratic primary. After lengthy speculation about a tight and deadlocked race, the story line changed significantly in a week in which Democratic candidates overwhelmingly dominated the coverage, according to a Project for Excellence in Journalism study of campaign coverage.
Although Clinton (57%) narrowly edged out Obama (55.5%) as a significant or dominant newsmaker in election stories from Feb, 11-17, Obama was the clear winner in terms of the tone. While the media dissected everything from Clinton’s staff shake-up to her loosening grasp on her core demographic voters, Obama’s momentum was the big story about his campaign.
Fully 60% of election stories focused on Democrats—the highest amount of coverage for the party since the Campaign Coverage Index launched in January. Only 24% of stories were centered on the GOP candidates and 16% mentioned both Democrats and Republicans.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s Campaign Coverage Index—which will appear weekly until the party nominees are selected—also finds that:
Clinton (57%) and Obama (55.5%) each received the most amount of individual coverage recorded since the Campaign Index began in early January.
Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain received a substantial amount of coverage (34%) last week, but his difficulty winning over conservatives remains a major story line.
At 18%, Mike Huckabee was still on the media radar screen. However, he has fallen so far behind in the race for delegates that much of the coverage questioned his motivation for continuing.
Campaign stories filled 40% of the newshole for the week. Cable television focused 62% of its airtime on the election and radio devoted 46%.

For blog followers who want to know more about this group and its work, check out the web site.

Folks, we’re dumber than ever

(Movie poster for 2006 movie Idiocracy in which the world 500 years from now is so dumb…well, it’s too complicated to explain it here. Just rent it, dudes.)

Loved Susan Jacoby’s column today on why we’re getting so dumb in this country. If you read it all, then you will be informed enough to answer whether you believe Jacoby’s argument is:
1) True
2) False


I cannot prove that reading for hours in a treehouse (which is what I was doing when I was 13) creates more informed citizens than hammering away at a Microsoft Xbox or obsessing about Facebook profiles. But the inability to concentrate for long periods of time — as distinct from brief reading hits for information on the Web — seems to me intimately related to the inability of the public to remember even recent news events.

Behind the Teck Cominco deal

Les Blumenthal of McClatchy Newspapers has an interesting look at the tug-of-war between EPA officials trying to hold the Canadian smelter responsible for the cleanup of slag at Lake Roosevelt and Bush administration officials who quietly cut a deal.

Many of the officials formerly worked for the mining industry.

Former EPA officials fear that it will be taxpayers, not Teck Cominco, who will pay for the clean-up.

(S-R file photo of the type of slag found at Lake Roosevelt)

Rock ‘n Roll … ‘n loose a thread for Tuesday

(S-R file photo by Dan Pelle of Charlie Ryan and his wife Ruthie)

Columnist Doug Clark talks on today’s front page about Charlie Ryan, the songwriter who came up with “Hot Rod Lincoln.” Ryan was something of a Spokane fixture, but I didn’t know the story several years ago when I spotted his distinctive red coupe in the parking lot of a Burger King where my wife and I had stopped for dinner. Inside, the Western attire complete with “Hot Rod Lincoln” jackets identified him and his spouse as the car’s owners. My casual inquiry led to a friendly, enthusiastic 20-minute conversation. My colleague Mr. Clark knew Ryan well, but I can say from my one brief encounter what a thoroughly approachable, genuine and unpresumptuous guy he was.
With that said, let this be today’s loose thread. Click on “comments” and say what you want about Hot Rod Lincolns or anything else on your mind.

(Found this on YouTube. It’s Charlie Ryan’s version of the song. For some reason there is no video and the embedding code has been disabled,. But you can give it a listen. He could sure sing fast. — garyc)

Get out of jail

Two reactions to this stunning story in Saturday’s paper in which we learn that 27 percent of felony suspects are let go for lack of follow-up paperwork.

1. This was released by the Sheriff’s Office? Guess Knezovich was serious about transparency and accountability.

2. What the heck?!?! How did it get to be so bad? The various players in the article all have explanations, but why didn’t someone step up publicly and say how bad it was? You wouldn’t have to know the precise figures to know that something is seriously wrong.

“I’m not sure if it’s a law enforcement problem or a prosecutorial decision,” said Utah-based consultant David Bennett.

Seems like this would’ve been a bigger deal in the races for a variety of offices.

Your thoughts on this? I know we have some law enforcement folks who read and react at times. Be interested in their thoughts.

Here’s the consultant’s report.

(S-R file photo)

Smart Bombs: Party crashers

So, are you voting in the Washington state presidential primary? Not me.

Here’s why.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

…so far, at least. Let the sunshine be your inspiration. This is the first loose thread of the week, so click on comments and share what’s on you mind.

Pondering the political spectrum

Nothing’s certain until it’s official, but…
McCain is looking relatively safe as the Republican nominee, and Obama is gaining something of an upperhand on the Democratic side. These are the two candidates who, from the beginning, have seemed less deeply rooted in partisan absolutism. McCain is under well-publicized attack from the far right for, among other things, cooperating with Democratic senators such as Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold. Obama has written about the need to pull toward the middle, and was criticized during the campaign for acknowledge the role of Republican ideas introduced by Ronald Reagan.
In my opinion, the Obama-McCain pairing bodes well for the country because any tendency toward compromise is woefully needed.
If the matchup holds, however, pressure will increase on both candidates to separate themselves during the general election campaign. That could mean we’ll see a detailed, analytical explanation of competing ideas about health care, national security, foreign policy, education, etc. Or there will be another edition of the standard strategies of attack and distortion.
I suspect the smart money is on the latter. And if that’s the way it goes, what a missed opportunity. Think of it, two presidential candidates spending three or four months engaging the nation in a meaningful conversation about vital public issues — all leading to an informed choice in November.
If that unlikely dream unfolds, I will celebrate the outcome no matter which candidate wins.

Net nannies or responsible administrators?

Let’s play school administrator. Teens post all kinds of personal information at Facebook and MySpace. They can limit access or open their pages for the public to see.

What if you see pictures of illegal drug or alcohol use — or anything else that might be concerning — but it’s off campus?

Is there a role for you as a school official?

Medicare patients: Have you been denied service?

From our editorial today:

Over the past seven years, Medicare reimbursements have been virtually flat while annual medical costs have doubled or tripled the rate of inflation. The squeeze on providers is contributing to a disturbing shortage of primary care physicians as the older ones retire and the younger ones gravitate to specialties that pay better. Plus, more and more doctors are refusing to take new Medicare patients and are cutting off longtime patients once they switch to Medicare, because reimbursements fail to cover the cost of care.

Have you ever been refused by a doctor due to Medicare? Or know someone who has? Blog lines remain open all day.

Keo Chronicles: Feb. 14, 1945

(Keo in front of her house near the corner of Monroe and Sinto on Spokane’s North Side. Home is still there.)

Iowa had a lovely dinner ready using her best china and linen. Everything went off just right — a fine turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, string beans, a vegetable salad.

The conversation was easy and friendly — some jokes — then the war and current news. Mrs. Wieder got quite vehement in her views. We couldn’t tell just what she did want — was she socialist or communist? She seemed to favor Russia, but we were glad when the subject was changed. She looks like she might be of German descent.

Craig’s long stance strategy

(AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman, Joe Jaszewski

We had a discussion, and some mild disagreement, in our morning editorial board about Larry Craig’s strategy to overcome his bathroom scandal.

I thought his “long-stance” strategy was brilliant. If his ultimate goal was to hang onto his Senate seat until the very end, he succeeded.

He got a good scolding by the Senate Ethics Committee. Read it here. They said they believed he committed the offense, but they took no action of any kind.

So he finishes out his term, collects his pension and rides into the sunset. His reputation is in the toilet, pun intended, but he’ll finish his Senate career.

I think he gambled that the whole thing would die down. The media would move on to other stories (hello Hillary and Obama) and the Ethics Committee would give him a solid scolding and nothing else. This came to be.

Other board members disagreed on how wise a strategy it turned out to be. But I’ll let them weigh in for themselves, if the mood strikes.

Your thoughts, wise commenters, are always welcome.

Letter: Clintons attract D.C. insiders

Hill and Bill Inc. continue to trumpet their lead among the so-called superdelegates, who aren’t expected to subject themselves to the nitty-gritty of being elected through either caucuses or primaries. They got their place at the table by being part of the Washington, D.C., establishment. How democratic is that?

F. Scott Fitzgerald had it right in “The Great Gatsby” when he wrote, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up people and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” The same could be said of Bill and Hillary.

I would take the sentiments of the citizens of my precinct over the votes of the Clintons and the D.C. insiders any day!
Tom Keefe, Spokane

Question: Who do you trust more: fellow voters or experienced party members?

The list of Idaho/Washington superdelegates

Thanks to our own Jim Camden whose story today explains who the superdelegates are voting for and some of the dilemmas they face. Here’s the handy list he also provided.

Washington superdelegates:

Endorsing Sen. Hillary Clinton

Sen. Patty Murray

Sen. Maria Cantwell

Rep. Norm Dicks

Rep. Jay Inslee

King County Executive Ron Simms

Endorsing Barack Obama

Gov. Chris Gregoire

Rep. Adam Smith

National Committeewoman Pat Notter


Former House Speaker Tom Foley *

Rep. Brian Baird

Rep. Rick Larsen

Rep. Jim McDermott

State Chairman Dwight Pelz

State Vice Chairwoman Eileen Macoll

National Committeeman David MacDonald

National Committeeman Ed Cote

National Committeewoman Sharon Mast

Idaho’s superdelegates

Endorsing Obama

State Chairwoman Jeanne Buell

National Committeeman Grant Burgoyne

National Committeewoman Gail Bray


State Chairman R. Keith Roark

Superdelegate to be chosen at the state convention

* Some lists have Foley, who served as ambassador to Japan during the Clinton Administration, as a Clinton superdelegate, but he hasn’t made a public endorsement.

(AP photos)

Letter: Potholes

I sincerely hope that city administration and staff have learned their lesson concerning advance planning and accurate weather predictions for future winters and that pothole repairs are completed properly and ice is removed as quickly as possible. No excuses for poor planning or repairs.
James W. Bradford, Spokane
S-R file photo by Dan Pelle

We’re getting a steady stream of complaints about potholes, and I have to admit I’m pretty shocked at how much worse off our streets appear after this particular thaw. Unfortunately, the street department can’t make proper repairs until April, when the asphalt plants open again. Meanwhile I imagine they’ll be doing some “cold” patching like this photo shows. There are quite a few incentives these days for driving as little as possible.

Docs vs. Drug Company Reps

We had a group in today representing the Washington State Medical Association and the Spokane County Medical Association.
They told us about the bills they are lobbying for in the state Legislature.

One of the more interesting causes is their hope that pharmaceutical company reps won’t be able to use for marketing and sales purposes the information about what medications the doctors prescribe.

Here’s how the system works now:
The pharmacies sell to “data miners” the information about what medications docs are prescribing. Patients names are not included in the information, just the amount and types of drugs. The data miners then sell the information to the drug companies and then the sales reps go back to the docs and ask them questions about their prescribing patterns.

“The fact they can find out exactly what you are prescribing is just dirty pool,” said WSMA President Brian Wicks.

We asked why they don’t just refuse to talk with “pharma” reps. Well, basically, they like the samples. And some of the perks, too, such as free meals, though they are clamping down on that practice.

They complained that at the office level, reps are coming in, saying I bought you lunch, why didn’t you prescribe my meds?

The proposed bills are SB 6241 and HB 2664. They would prohibit “the sale and use of prescriber-identifiable prescription data for marketing or promotional purposes.”

Sympathy with the docs or the drug reps trying to do their jobs? Blog line are open.

Cougar Hunting: We’re for it

(AP photo)

From our editorial today.

In 2004, the Legislature, at the behest of Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda.,…adopted a pilot project that allowed the use of dogs in five counties where cougars had become a public safety concern. Now that it has proved to be a success, it deserves permanent status.

Cougar hunting: With dogs, without dogs, your turn to bark up this opinion tree.

The Drive at 5

Shlup, shlup, the dog
as it laps up
makes intelligent
music, resting
now and then to take breath in irregular
— Denise Levertov’s poem “Six Variations (Part III)

TV or magazine reading or digging out storm drains? What’s on your evening agenda?

Snail Mail: It’ll cost you

(AP photo)

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Mailing a letter will soon cost a penny more.
The cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 42 cents starting May 12, the U.S. Postal Service said today.
The price of the Forever stamp will go up at the same time, meaning those stamps can still be purchased for 41 cents but will remain good for first-class postage after the rate increase takes effect.

I bought some Forever stamps for 41 cents during the most recent price hike, tucked them away, feeling a little ridiculous but this news today made me feel wiser rather than a miser.

Anyone else purchase Forever stamps? And will this increase turn you away from snail mail whenever possible? Or does it make any difference?

Ryan Crocker: Back to Normalcy

(Photo by Christopher Anderson/The Spokesman-Review)

My Sunday column was about U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker’s intention to move here with his wife about a year from now when he retires.
He spent some time here in his childhood.

Crocker seemed like a regular Spokane nice guy. Indeed, toward the end of our editorial board meeting, he revealed this fact: The dream of returning to Spokane keeps him going. He and his wife, Christine, a retired Foreign Service secretary, own 13 acres in rural Spokane County. A year from now, they plan to be living here. Crocker will not continue to serve in Iraq, nor any other global hot spot, even if asked by the new president.

“That’s one thing we do to remind ourselves there is a future,” he said. “We go over those (Spokane) house plans again and change a wall here and change a wall there.”

Crocker is 58 so spent time here in Spokane’s 1950s-1960s era when things were a lot different.
For those of you who were also around then, what do you think has changed the most about Spokane since then? What has changed the least?

Blog lines are open.

Michelle Obama draws crowds

I was about 35 people away from making it in the doors of the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. I got there 20 minutes before the alleged start time of Michelle Obama’s presentation, but like many others I was denied admittance.

Did anyone have a similar experience at Hillary’s rally?

TGIF loose thread

So we’ve got Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama today. Hip, hip, hooray for Spokane! I’m impressed with the positive nature of Clinton’s and Obama’s recent TV ads, in Washington anyway. There may be mudslinging, but I haven’t seen much of it.

That’s what was crossing my mind. What’s crossing yours?

Waterboarding necessary, but illegal?

That’s the view of the CIA director. Is that logic, well, tortured?


Letter: Washington primary

I did vote. I did write a statement that I am not a member of either party on the ballot. I did sign my ballot. I did mail in my ballot. But my vote will not be counted because I choose to be honest. — Ed Holmes, Spokane

We had a discussion about this in the editorial board meeting yesterday, and a couple of us are still uncertain what we’re going to do with our ballots. I’ve heard of others besides Mr. Holmes that plan to do what he did.

Will the party declaration on the ballot keep you from voting on Feb. 19?

To Dust: Ash Wednesday opinions

(AP photo)

At noon, Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral in downtown Spokane was packed with people attending Ash Wednesday Mass. It’s the beginning of Lent for many Christian faith traditions. And as the ashes are placed on the forehead, the line is uttered that says basically we came from dust and to dust we shall return.

It’s a symbolic reminder that we’re all headed to the dust heap in one way or another. Might be today. Might be 50 years from now. There is no great escape.

And these opinions on this blog, the issues we get in debates about, the issues we sometimes feel so passionate about, shall disappear, too. It’s humbling but not paralyzing. We’re all at our computers in Opinion Land, typing away.

So these are some of my Ash Wednesday thoughts. And yours? Blog lines (still undusty) remain open.

Media attention has its drawbacks

Our view today explores the question of media attention to political candidates. Ron Paul supporters often complain that he is ignored by “the media,” but certain types of attention are less welcome than others.

Today’s edit board visitor: Iraq Ambassador Crocker

(Christopher Anderson photo/The Spokesman-Review)

Our editorial board met this afternoon with Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq. He considers himself a Spokane boy, because he went to elementary school in the Spokane Valley. He and his wife plan to retire to Spokane in about a year. He was unassuming, understated and filled with insight into the situation in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, because he’s been in the foreign service in all those places.

Listen here to an excerpt on why Iraq is so hard on many levels.

Crocker believes “strategic patience” is the key to stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. Listen to his explanation here.

Our view: Downtown update

Today’s editorial urges the continuation of discussion on how to boost downtown vitality in Spokane. The last nine years have seen a lot of positive changes, but more could be in store.

What would you like to see happen downtown?

Tuesday loose thread

One caller already said she doesn’t like the layout of our letters page.

What are you having an opinion about today?

What’s in your rebate?

( AP file photo of minivan equipped with a microwave oven and washer/dryer)

Our front page story Sunday included interviews with folks who said what they’d do with any economic stimulus rebate. Short answer: They’d spend it.

Today, we got a press release from Consumer Credit Counseling Services, a non-profit group that helps consumers shovel out of debt. They had some suggestions, too.
—Save for emergencies.
—Prepare for the holidays.
—Become more energy efficient by upgrading appliances.
—Invest it.

Reminds me of our divided culture when it comes to food. Television cooking shows and magazines are filled with lavish recipes and meal planning (and commercials) as well as shows and commercials about diet, nutrition and exercise machines.

That said, what’s your rebate plan?

Ambassador Crocker in Spokane

Ryan Crocker, who was named ambassador to Iraq just over a year ago, is in Spokane, where his mother still lives. He will visit with the editorial board tomorrow.

What questions would you ask him?

(S-R photo from 2007, Brian Plonka: A sign at McDonald Elementary School in Spokane Valley congratulates a former student)

Editorial: Go Giants — er, North Spokane Corridor

Today’s editorial highlights the need for the state and the federal government to spell out what exactly is expected of locals in order to get a major transportation project (item: the North Spokane Corridor) completed. And they’re going to have to kick in their share.

Good Discussion Alert

We’ve got a good conversation going at the post “Our View: Leadership Alert” below. Join in and have a safe Drive at 5.

Loose Thread Friday

Always to want to
go back, to correct
an error, ease a
guilt, see how a friend
is doing. And yet,
one doesn’t, except
in memory, in
The land remains desolate.
From “The Tortoise” by Cid Corman

( J.BART RAYNIAK photo/The Spokesman-Review)

It’s Friday. The land remains desolate outside. What’s on your minds? We love your comments, but please remember — no name-calling. Had to kill part of a thread because of name-calling and potentially libelous words. Knock it off, please.

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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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