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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for October 2008

Happy Halloween

Have a nice weekend, and consider this your weekend thread to exchange pleasantries. You know, like always.

Spread the wealth

Gallup has been polling on this issue since Joe the Plumber Campaigner was 14-years-old. Here’s the latest results.

Shockingly, it’s divided on party lines, with independents split.

Open thread to close the day

Have fun. Be nice.

Thursday’s Loose Thread

This open thread is brought to you by the letter five, as in five days until Election Day.


Stimulus: Most bang for the buck

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s, recently wrote of the best ways to stimulate the economy. The Economic Policy Institute then put it in a handy chart, which reflects the return we could expect to see for every dollar spent.

Best places to spend the money:

1. Food stamps
2. Unemployment benefits
3. Infrastructure projects

Bottom 3:

1. Accelerated depreciation
2. Corporate tax cuts
3. Extend Bush tax cuts


Costumes for the politicians

Let’s dress up the candidates in appropriate Halloween garb.

For starters:

Obama — Karl Marx
McCain — Joe the Plumber
Joe Biden — Historian
Sarah Palin — Hunter in designer camouflage

Your turn.

The end of endorsements?

A Tacoma columnist wishes they would go away.

What do you think?

Poll results

A new poll from the University of Washington has Obama way ahead in Washington. It also shows a six-point lead for Gregoire in the governor’s race with a four-point margin of error. All three state initiatives are headed toward passage, the poll indicates, except I-985 (Tim Eyman’s proposal to address traffic congestion) has only a two-point lead, half the four-point margin of error. Looks like there will be additional polls to come in the next few days, so here’s a link to the polling site.

Monday’s Loose Thread

Eight more days. Or is something else on your mind?

Speak up here.

Election-related attack a hoax

Will Ashley Todd become the new Tawana Brawley?

Will this matter to voters?

More here.

Vote count

The latest voter registration information from the secretary of state’s office breaks the numbers down by legislative district. Forty-eight of the 49 have totals between 5,000 and 8,000. One district, the 43rd, has 12,000 voters. That district is in Seattle, stretching from the waterfront north to take in the Fremont area and, significantly, the University of Washington. Dave Ammons of that office says there’s been a pretty heavy registration drive in that area by WASSHPIRG (Washington Public Interest Research Group), plus a lot of students switch their registration from their original homes to their college addresses.
That’s House Speaker Frank Chopp’s district, by the way, so in terms of one man, one vote, his constituents are being short-changed.

Early birds

The S-R’s Jim Camden is reporting that 40,000 voters have already submitted their ballots in all-mail Spokane County. Another 9,500 absentees have already been marked and delivered in Kootenai County.
I’m unrepentently old-fashioned and would prefer to see everyone trudging to the neighborhood polling place throughout the day on Nov. 4. Those days are gone, though.
But I wonder how long it will be before a bombshell explodes in the week before an election and thousands of voters find themselves wanting to change their minds.
Sure, a bombshell can explode right after the election, too, and voters will be angry and frustrated that they didn’t know sooner.
But there’s something fundamentally different between that situation and one in which the troublesome ballot hasn’t been counted yet and won’t be for a few more days and all you can do is sit by and watch the train wreck.
I’m curious to hear from anyone on this issue, but especially people who routinely vote as early as possible.
Note that in Idaho and several other states, early voting is now an option and thy’re already reporting irregularities at the polling places.

Will the real maverick please stand up?

I keep hearing Sarah Palin talk about what mavericks she and John McCain are. Mavericks?
I thought the Mavericks were the father and son Democratic U.S. senators from Texas in the early and mid 20th century. Or, better yet, the fictional but loveable ne’er-do-well itinerent gambling brothers, Bret and Bart, whose passions were poker and women.
Here are the lyrics (do you remember the tune?)
Who was the tall dark stranger there?
Maverick is his name.
Riding the trail to who knows where,
Luck is his companion,
Gambling is his game.

Oh, what the heck. It’s loose thread time. So, as my dear old pappy used to say, post away.


Wednesday’s editorial welcomes the coming emphasis on bike lanes on Spokane streets. What think you?

The Palin Rap

Just because it’s funny.

Knotty knotty knotty

Time to dangle a loose thread and see what conversations you can ignite by tomorrow morning.
Start tying.

If I were the speech writer…

Barack Obama told Joe the Plumber he wants to “spread the wealth.” Well, my friends, you can be sure John McCain won’t be doing anything like that. And no one is happier about that than Exxon.

The call for governor

Sunday’s editorial offers our recommendation in the 2008 election for governor. In 2004, we endorsed Dino Rossi for the job, but this year, we are convinced that Gregoire offers the better choice. You can read it here.

Endorsements update

For anyone following our edit board announcements, today we wrote about Kootenai County’s jail expansion and public safety facilities measures. We’re for them, though the price tag is steep. Read here.
We will be endorsing in other Idaho races, beginning next week.

Also, look for our endorsement in Washington’s gubernatorial race Sunday.

All our endorsements will be included in the post titled S-R Election Endorsements, updated daily.

What’s up with nuc-u-lar?

We just interviewed a Congressional candidate, a Republican, who pronounced nuclear “nuc-u-lar” instead of the proper pronunciation. Listen here.

What’s up with the mispronunciation? It is it a Republican thing? (He wasn’t the first candidate who mispronounced it this endorsement season. But they have all been Republican.)

So we’re throwing it out there for discussion. Is it nuc-u-lar or this pronunication. Listen again.
Blog lines are open.

Whose ads are negative? Are you positive?

Barack Obama’s assertion during Wednesday’s debate that 100 percent of John McCain’s ads have been negative has been widely disputed. Obama probably was referring to a report from the Wisconsin Advertising Project that documented one week during which all of McCain’s ads were negative — but, of course, Obama didn’t qualify his comment.
For a deeper discussion of the issue of negative campaign advertising, here’s a link to the Wisconsin Advertising Project’s own reaction to Wednesday night’s exchanges.

Elder Residents: Neighborhood Treasures

From our editorial today:

Kenneth Cross, 80, took meticulous care of his Spokane Valley lawn and was friendly and helpful to his neighbors, who responded in kind.

Cross was tragically killed Sept. 20 in his home. David K. Brewczynski has been accused of the murder. The housekeeper who cleaned Cross’ home knew Brewczynski, according to court documents, making the crime appear less random than originally thought. The tragedy shattered Cross’ neighbors, who depended on his steady presence in their lives.

“Older people add stability to a neighborhood. They’ve been there awhile. They can tie a neighborhood together,” explained Mac Hatcher of Spokane Mental Health’s Elder Services.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that $36 million will be made available to states to promote programs that enable older Americans, especially veterans, to remain in their homes. The so-called Nursing Home Diversion grants recognize that older people have the best potential to thrive when they live independently. And it’s often much more cost-effective.

But the Kenneth Cross tragedy reminds us that our older residents who still live independently within neighborhoods can be more vulnerable to crime, scams, as well as minor rip-offs by people they hire to do work around their yards and in their homes. This vulnerability can increase in tough economic times.

Is there an older neighbor who enriches your life?

Drive at 5

Crisp and sunny out.
The trees are shedding.
Fall is falling.
All is well with the world. Or not.

Safe travels home or elsewhere.
See you back here in this space tomorrow.

Loose Thread Wednesday

(AP file photo)

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. — Harry Truman, right after the end of World War II.

Sounds word for today, too? What do you think?

The Children Have Spoken: Obama

From Scholastic’s Web site:

It’s official. At least for the kids! The Scholastic Presidential Election Poll results are in: Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama won with 57 percent of the vote, to 39 percent for Republican nominee Senator John McCain.

The poll was open to kids from grades 1 to 12 in Scholastic News and Junior Scholastic magazines. Almost 250,000 (a quarter of a million) kids voted by paper ballot or online at The poll closed on October 10.

Since 1940, the results of the student vote have mirrored the outcome of the general election all but twice: In 1948, kids voted for Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman. In 1960, more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than for John F. Kennedy. In 2000, a majority of student voters chose George W. Bush, mirroring the Electoral College result, but not the result of the popular vote.

As a child, did you have strong preferences for the presidency?

Drive at 5

Be careful out there.
More tomorrow.
Opine away….

Loose Thread Monday

Greetings loyal readers of AMOO.
I’m the blogmeister this week and will begin the loose threads with quotes taken from times of crises past in the United States.

Let us begin then with John F. Kennedy’s quote during the Cuban Missile Crisis. According to the History Place: Great Speeches Collection: “At 7 p.m. on Monday, October 22, 1962, President Kennedy appeared on television to inform Americans of the recently discovered Soviet military buildup in Cuba including the ongoing installation of offensive nuclear missiles.”

Read the entire speech. Or just enjoy the quote. And be sure to tell us where you were during the crises. (I was in second grade and confused where I was supposed to go during our mock war drill. We were all supposed to see if we could run home within 15 minutes. I ran to the home of a friend of my mom’s near St. Charles School, crying in fear.)

The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are—but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high—and Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.

(AP file photo)

The Youth Vote is in

Courtesy of Marlene Feist, City Hall spokeswoman, here’s the results of voting after the Youth Issues Candidates forum on Thursday:

(The ballot measures are not real)

U.S. Congressional District #5:
Cathy McMorris Rodgers 41
Mark Mays 39

County Commissioner District #1
Todd Mielke 66
Kim Thorburn 13

County Commissioner District #2
Mark Richard 55
Brian Sayrs 21

Proposition #1:
Should the legal drinking age in Washington State be lowered from 21 to 18 years of age?
Yes 42
No 38

Proposition #2:
In order for schools to realize savings in transportation, and other facility overhead costs, should schools in Spokane County convert to a four day week with longer school days?

Yes 29
No 50

Proposition #3:
In order to reduce the number of youth-related fatalities and serious injury accidents associated with drivers between the ages of 16 and 17, should the minimum age to obtain a drivers license be raised to the age of 17?

Yes 9
No 71

Voting controversies — again

There’s been a lot of attention on voters being added to the rolls in questionable ways, but in some states more are being removed than added. And some of those states might be breaking federal election law.

This New York Times article explains. It should be noted that no coordinated campaign to suppress voting has been unearthed, but this will get ugly.

The drive at 5

I’ve felt all sorts of weird ailments — stiff neck, sore leg, etc. — since the announcement of layoffs and Steve’s resignation last week. I’m expecting them to heal now that Gary Graham is at the helm for the S-R.

But thinking about who will be at the helm of our county, state and nation still can furrow my brow.

What’s furrowing yours?

Four things I learned at the debate

1. If McCain were victorious, “my friends” would become more annoying than “my fellow Americans” ever was. And that’s saying something.

2. And starting sentences with “and” — followed by a pause — would begin to grate, too. Yeah, I’m talking about That One.

3. The unexpected is something that McCain doesn’t know about. A startling admission.

4. The repetition signals that it’s time to vote. Got that, you uncommitteds?

The happy 9 percent of Americans

According to this Gallup Poll, 91 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

Investments are tanking. Homes being foreclosed upon. Relentless job losses. Unpopular war in Iraq. Deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Government bailouts.

It’s not hard to understand why the poll is so low, but how can the 9 percenters look at all of this and say, “Keep up the good work!”

Even if they are among the rare individuals who are doing fine, doesn’t it bug them that so many others are not?

Do you know any of these happy people? Can anyone explain them to me?

Our view: McCain over Obama

The editorial board of the S-R has endorsed John McCain for president. A couple of the reasons:

Once in office, either candidate would probably bring a collaborative approach to the job. But big issues require more than that. In managing the Middle East conflict, Obama and McCain both offer the country better leadership than it’s had the past eight years. Obama’s early opposition to the war in Iraq has proved correct, but the unpopular war is now a reality, and McCain’s experience equips him to manage that conflict to an honorable conclusion.

At home, rapidly eroding economic conditions call for a firm, thoughtful and bipartisan response. That’s more likely if a fiscally conservative Republican is in the White House to counterbalance the Democrat-dominated Congress.

Your choice? Your reasoning?

Jamie Neely: Maxfield update

Treat yourself today and give Jamie Neely’s Sunday column a good read here.

Here’s how it begins:

This fall Col. Darel Maxfield once again commands his social studies classroom at Ferris High School, not a U.S. Army unit in Iraq.

He’s back from the war, with some timeless wisdom, several lingering wounds and a few bones to pick. Though we’ve never agreed on that war, our conversations, both in person and by e-mail during his time in Diyala Province, have been illuminating.

On a recent sunny September Friday, I visited his last class of the day. Freshman honors students filled the room to view Maxfield’s slide presentation on the cultural differences he encountered while serving in the Army Reserve in the Mideast. A tall, gregarious man with a shaved head and a wide grin, he commanded the classroom with poignant memories, a rat-a-tat of facts and a seasoned comic’s timing.

The slides zipped past: Sandy, the mongrel who befriended Maxfield in the desert. (After she drove out a batch of snakes from under the laundry facility to give birth to her pups there, Maxfield dubbed her “tougher than vipers.”) The teenage faces of the Iraqi soldiers just a few years older than the students sitting before him in their jeans and bright red Saxon T-shirts. A shot of Maxfield and his fellow soldiers holding up the colonel’s large American flag.

He paused.

“I’m going to sound like a redneck here,” he said. As Maxfield described the mix of homesickness and pride his flag evoked, his voice broke.

“It was the symbol of home,” he said.

Taxpayers seeing red

Today’s editorial encouraged the city of Spokane to communicate with citizens about the benefits of installing a red-light camera enforcement system. Many see the camera-powered, $124 tickets as just a money grab by the city, and it’s the city’s duty to explain why safety is served by the system.

Initiative 1000: Vote no

On Sunday, our editorial endorsements began.

We came out against Initiative 1000, the proposed Death with Dignity Act modeled after Oregon’s decade-old law. Read it here.

Our three main reasons:

It places doctors – and the state – in the position of hastening death.

No urgent need exists for state intervention.

The elderly and sick could feel pressure to end their lives to save medical expenses.

We’ve had our say. Now, it’s your turn. Will you be voting for or against Initiative 1000? Blog lines are open.

Friday’s Loose Thread

A shout-out to readers who sent nice notes in the wake of the layoff announcement. Thanks.

Here’s an open thread to end a crummy week.

Thursday’s Loose Thread

Another day, another devalued dollar.

Post your random comments here.

Kathleen Parker sure gets interesting mail

How dare she reach an independent judgment on Sarah Palin! Doesn’t she know what team she’s on?

The reaction to her column on Palin has been vicious:

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn’t, I should “off” myself.

Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.

Who says public discourse hasn’t deteriorated?

The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I’m familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order.

Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.

Anyone here shoot her an email?

Bob Downing: Civic Elder

(Photo by Christopher Anderson/The Spokesman-Review)

Bob Downing, who ran a railroad and is now 95, was in our Civic Elder spotlight today.

Here’s an excerpt of some of his wisdom:

The greatest lifelong effect of the Depression? You didn’t buy things unless you had the money. I eventually got a credit card, but I always paid the balance every month. I still do.

A chief executive should not be too nervous now. This too shall end. I was in the Navy in the war. When you are changing course, the officer on the deck will tell the man steering, “Steady as you go.” I think that’s a good admonition in these tumultuous times.

We should all just calm down. The stock market won’t come back automatically. But in most of the rest of the country, except in the housing industry, things are going along pretty well. You’d think the world is coming to an end mainly because in New York City, it is.

As I interviewed Bob, I realized we have in our community many older people who lived through the Great Depression. Do you ever seek them out for wisdom? Blog lines are open.

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