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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for September 2009

Thursday’s Loose Thread

The early sunsets are already bumming me out, and we haven’t even hit the dreaded daylight savings time (first Sunday in November).

Any bright ideas today?


Wednesday’s Loose Thread

A belated one at that.


A doctor in the house?

Congress ought to lift the restrictions on how many future physicians are allowed in the education pipeline, in Our View.


Monday’s Loose Thread

Sad news about William Safire. As the kids today would say (making Safire cringe), dude could write.

Thoughts of the day?

Friday’s Loose Thread

Hope you have a lovely weekend, whether it’s staying at home or venturing out. But beware of field trips.

Put your thoughts of the day here.

Czar talk weighs in on the “czar” controversy.

1. The term is more of a media creation, because their real titles are cumbersome. There’s always been special envoys and advisers who aren’t confirmed by Congress.

2. Glenn Beck’s list of 33 czars is laughable. Shocking, I know.

3. George W. Bush had even more, but no complaints from Congress — or pundits who are suddenly mortified — about that.

As is typical of these faux scandals, one need only look under the hood.


Thursday’s Loose Thread

The American people want your views on a variety of topics. So do the American people a favor and post them here? The American people thank you in advance.

Aristocracy had its place

Am I the only one who makes a connection between Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” and President Obama’s appearance on the David Letterman show this week?

It makes me think back to LBJ lifting his shirt to show reporters his scar. That wasn’t something we’d seen presidents do, at least not for a long time. But it made him seem more human, I suppose, more approachable. Later we had Nixon who had time before his ultimate fall to take populism to the masses, showing up on “Laugh-In” to chant, “Sock it to me.”

Ford followed, and although he wasn’t purposely calling derision to himself, his clumsiness became a staple for Chevy Chase and other TV comics to pan.

Remember when Carter thought carrying his own bags would make him seem more like the regular folks?

Reagan (who was a performer anyway) and George H.W. Bush didn’t contribute so much to the downward drift in presidential prestige (although Dana Carvey advanced his career with Bush impersonations).

Clinton at least tried to keep his extramarital indiscretions secret, but loved to chomp on Big Macs in public.  “Slick Willie” entered the vernacular.

And we know about George W. Bush — or Dubya, or Shrub — and the stubborn pride with which he mispronounced “nucular.”

The plunge gained force throughout the 2008 campaign with candidates lining up for guest shots on Leno, Letterman, Oprah and Ellen, making comedians and talk show hosts vessels of political deliberation. Now a sitting president goes on Letterman.

It seems to me the dignity of the office has been eroding for 40 years or longer, so how surprising is it really that an elected member of Congress would feel empowered to call Obama out as a liar in the middle of a speech to a joint session?

It probably was going overboard to call the president your excellency or your highness as some of the Founding Fathers wanted to do with George Washington.  But I’ve come to think that the office of president has become just a little too touchable. And several recent occupants have contributed to that outcome.

Wednesday’s Loose Thread

What are are your thoughts on this summer-like fall day?


Tuesday’s Loose Thread

I fell asleep before Letterman, so I missed the Obama interview. I did like this line by the president:

“It’s important to realize that I was actually black before the election. That tells you a lot, I think, about where the country is at.”

Thoughts on this or other issues?

Monday’s Loose Thread

I’m back. Can’t you just feel the excitement? So, for my daughter’s ninth birthday party, I had her friends running wacky relay races in the back yard. In one of them, they had to don a pair of my pajama bottoms, run to a pile of balloons and bring back as many as possible without hand-carrying them.

As the parents were picking up one girl, she exclaimed: “We got to stuff balloons down Gary’s pants!”

So, how was your weekend? What’s on your mind?

Friday’s loose thread

Another weekend beckons.  What’ll it be, yardwork, football, camping?

If No. 1 on your to-do list is solving the world’s woes, fill us in here.

The Fugitive

Phillip A. Paul remains at large after walking away from the Spokane Interstate Fair where he was one of a group of Eastern State Hospital patients on a field trip. As most people know by now, he was committed to Eastern after being found not guilty of a 1987 murder by reason of insanity.

Although after-the-fact public reaction is about what you’d expect, officials say ESH groups, apparently including Paul at least once, have gone to the fair under similar circumstances in the past, seemingly without incident.

You’re invited to share your take on the situation.

Thursday’s loose thread

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary has died.  Anyone old enough to reflect on the folk music craze of the ‘60s, be my guest. Me, I was a Kingston Trio man.

Extra credit if you still have a set of bongos.  Not bongs, bongos.

Wednesday’s loose thread

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich wants the county to revisit the decision of where a new jail facility or expansion would take place — right where the existing jail is or somewhere farther from town where a lower, more horizontal design would be cheaper.  One issue that came up before and likely would again if the current site is selected:  Is this unfair to the West Central neighborhood to have to shoulder such a heavy burden for corrections facilities?


Maybe that issue interests you. Maybe something else does.  Here’s your chance to launch the conversation.

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

It’s Day 239 of the Obama presidency. Of the 239 scandals, which one would you say is the biggest?

Or you can add other thoughts here.

Stop electing judges, O’Connor says

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor says the way we select judges in this state is all wrong. I can see arguments both ways.

1. Yes, by electing them, a lot of money pours into these races from partisan sources.

2. Yes, most people have trouble deciding which judges to vote for based on the merits.

3. Would a “nonpartisan commission” (her solution) really be nonpartisan? Plus, if we held elections on whether to retain them, wouldn’t partisanship enter into those decisions?

What are you thoughts?

The Golden Goose fund

Thoughts on this fund tapped by Spokane police over the years?

 Spokane police spent $5.3 million on cars, travel, gasoline, weapons, training, clothing, electronics and office equipment over two decades, using a private account operated by the department’s Special Investigations Unit – outside of public scrutiny and in violation of city and state laws.

Monday’s Loose Thread

Funnel cakes, elephant ears, shaved ice … oh my.

What’s on your mind as we head into another week?

9/12 reflections

Fridays are usually hectic on the opinion pages, mostly because we’re producing three days worth of pages rather than just one. Yesterday had the added challenge of responding to a wave of phone and e-mail messages from readers who were distressed that the Sept. 11 paper contained not a word about the historical significance of the date. There were all the signals of an orchestrated response programmed for launch as soon as the paper hit the porch.  People weren’t saying that the coverage was insufficient, or that it was tilted in the wrong direction. They were saying consistently and repeatedly that there was not a word about 9/11 in Friday’s Spokesman-Review.

Yet there on the front page, complete with two photographs, was a story about Coeur d’Alene’s Fallen Heroes memorial, to be dedicated that evening, a tribute to not only the victims of the terrorist attack eight years ago but also to local police and firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.  The story clearly and movingly pointed out that this lasting memorial was inspired by the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.

Somehow, the people I responded to just couldn’t make that connection.  What I considered a timely and relevant account of how part of our community has responded — is responding still — to an iconic event, they saw as an evasion of our duty to fan the flames of resentment and hatred. Not that those aren’t appropriate emotions for the outrage perpetrated by the mostly Saudi Arabian terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, but news is all about reporting what’s happening now in the context of what happened before.  The protests we received seemed to be all about freeze-framing a day eight years earlier.

I’m in no position to psychoanalyze the people I communicated with, but I suspect their interest has less to do with honoring the victims than with fueling their hatred of the perpetrators — and maybe others who weren’t perpetrators but happen to have certain traits (religion, ethnicity, ideology) with them.

I wonder if the people of Dresden, Germany, still harbor such feelings toward the Allies’ senseless fire-bombing of their city in World War II.


Friday’s Loose Thread

I’m planning on a Fair weekend, because the daughter is dancing there. Hope you have a fine one, too,

Thoughts on events of the day?


Signe Wilkinson has an interesting cartoon today. Students who missed out on the “Obama indoctrination” missed out on other forms, such as the Pledge of Allegiance. What other forms of indoctrination did you witness at schools? Which ones are there now? Outside of school, what government-sponsored indoctrinations are there?

Let’s make a list, starting with 4-H and Character Counts. Seems to me that the teaching of Manifest Destiny in history or social studies was another form of indoctrination. Sure helps to rationalize what happened when you can say it was divinely ordained.

What’s on your list? Doesn’t have to be something you think is particularly harmful, just something that fits the definition.

Thursday’s Loose Thread

“Rules are made to be broken.” Does that make sense? What other cliches are senseless?

Or you can comment on current events here.

Wednesday’s Loose Thread

Everybody’s working for the … geez, I hate that song.

What is up?

The official MOO poll on health care

So as things stand — and feel free to wait for Obama’s speech — what do want to happen with health care this year.

A. Forget it. Try again next year.

B. Pass something, even if it falls short of the goal of universality.

C. Forget it. Cure is worse than the problem when the government’s involved.

D. Other.

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

My guess is that there’s a lot of pent-up commentary.

Let it all out here.

Friday’s Loose Thread

So, already the kids get a three-day break from school. Four, if they skip the indoctrination.

Thoughts on this or other topics?

Thursday’s Loose Thread

Is there some explanation for why all of the problems and needs of children are funneled into that tiny window of time available just before school departures?

You can comment on this or anything else right here.


Vroom for improvement

How would you grade the county raceway deal, thus far?


Wednesday’s Loose Thread

It’s always good news/bad news with economy stories.

Worker productivity, a traditional sign of increasing prosperity for laborers, is at a six-year high. Yay!

Employers are banking those gains to buttress bottom lines, not salaries. Boo!

Your random thoughts an another fine day?

Tuesday’s Loose Thread

Bring it on.


Losing Will in Afghanistan

Columnist George F. Will calls for an exit from Afghanistan. The right is already pouncing. Gen. McChrystal is calling for a new strategy.

How do you see this going?


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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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