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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for June 2010

Gun owner rights extended

Yet another 5-4 decision on a hot topic. I feel safer already.


June 28 thread

Abierto! Translation: Open.



Supremes say no hiding names on petitions

Court rules 8-1 against those seeking to keep their names from public view. The name of the lone dissenter was withheld. Just kidding. It was Clarence Thomas.

Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, said the Protect Marriage Act folks can try for an exemption at the lower court level.

The course of this litigation, however, has framed thelegal question before us more broadly. The issue at this stage of the case is not whether disclosure of this particu-lar petition would violate the First Amendment, butwhether disclosure of referendum petitions in generalwould do so. We conclude that such disclosure does not as a general matter violate the First Amendment, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals. We leave it to the lower courts to consider in the first instance the signers’ more focused claim concerning disclosure ofthe information on this particular petition, which is pend-ing before the District Court.

First comes love, then comes marriage…

The Obama administration is on the verge of requiring employers to give gay and lesbian employees the same  family leave benefits that straight workers enjoy.

This morning, a local TV station reporting that news invited viewers to submit their thoughts via a website link. Predictably, one response was the extent that gay couples shouldn’t get benefits that straight but unmarried couples don’t get.

Why not?  I’m old-fashioned enough to believe couples who want to live and raise families together ought to get married. 

I’d like to see same-sex couples get the same opportunity to make that kind of commitment as straight couples have. Then we could extend benefits based on marital status, which is a choice, not sexual orientation, which isn’t.

The June 21 Loose Thread

Just back from a June wedding, which means I can post a favorite Ogden Nash poem:

“Here Usually Comes The Bride”

“June means weddings in everyone’s lexicon,
Weddings in Swedish, weddings in Mexican
Breezes play Mendelssohn, treeses play Youmans,
Birds wed birds and humans wed humans
All year long the gentlemen woo
But the ladies dream of a June ‘I do’
Ladies grow loony, and gentlemen loonier
This year’s June is next year’s Junior”

This is an open thread. So unveil those thoughts here.

Weekend loose thread

If you’re looking at your computer on this (finally) summerlike day, why?

But if you are, please post a comment that will give the rest of us something to munch on.

(Like do you know any of those dead people that U.S. Treasury is sending checks to?  Maybe that dear departed guy all the oil companies list as their contact person in the event of a disaster.

Another day older and deeper in debt…

Washington state’s latest revenue forecast shows another $200 million reduction.  That brings the shortfall to an anticipated $3 billion when the next Legislature convenes.

That’s the Legislature we’re going to elect this fall, by the way.  What kind of questions does that pose for the candidates we’ll see campaigning?

If you want to mull your answers on that one, feel free to consider this today’s loose thread and unleash your own topics.

Loose threads and saving graces

In a column on tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) Opinion page, David Broder refers to a recent report that American businesses are holding back cash at an unusually high level, apparently as a hedge against further economic downturns.

In the meantime, the Federal Reserve has adopted new rules to protect credit card customers from huge penalty fees for such infractions as late payments.

Given what the country has gone through, to some extent because it was too easy to get financing for big-ticket items like houses, should the Fed maybe be encouraging consumers to do what businesses are doing?  Or, would it make sense to make consumer borrowing harder rather than easier?

Oh, yeah, economic recovery depends on consumers spending — even if it’s beyond their means.

What are your thoughts on that or any other issue?

You can’t tell a ballot issue by its title

Before adjourning, the Washington Legislature passed a referendum measure that would extend the new sales tax on bottled water beyond its scheduled demise on July 1, 2013.  The purpose would be to pay for bonds issued to finance energy-saving modifications to public schools.

It all will show up on the Nov. 2 ballot as R-52.

A fight ensued over the ballot title, however.  Legislative language focused on “job creation through energy efficiency projects.”

The Association for Washington Business weighed in and recommended deleting the reference to jobs while adding one about increasing taxes.

The whole thing wound up before a Thurston County judge, who noted that the bill itself does not create or require the creation of jobs. She approved the following language:

“This bill would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013.”

Do these details matter all that much to you, or is it needless nuance?

Share your thoughts on this or anything…

Monday loose thread

What do you say on a Monday?  I’ll wait for your answers.

Weekend recreation

Spokane’s police ombudsman has launched a website, which you can link to here.

Meanwhile, feel free to post comments about the concerns that occupy your mind over what’s predicted to be a glorious weekend.

See you Monday.

A headline writer’s worst cliche

Out of curiosity, I Googled the phrase, “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

It generated 764,000 responses.  I looked at the first 10 and found concerns that ranged from what you’d expect (rape, murder, life-threatening injury) to inane comic strips and a professional jock influencing children to eat candy.  The only duplication among the 10 “worst” nightmares was human sex trafficking.

I draw two conclusions:

1. There’s no consensus answer to the nightmare question.

2. Too many writers are ignoring their cliche detectors.

Feel free to add your own thoughts to this theme, or begin a new one.


Overnight snack

Here’s a loose-thread opportunity for you to talk about whatever strikes your interest. See you here again on Thursday.

Budget tool

Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, sends word that the state Office of Financial Management has sent state agencies the instructions for filling out their 2011-13 budget requests. He notes that the questions listed are similar to those that his conservative think tank has suggested in the past.

If you follow the link, you’ll see a number of common-sense criteria for spending decisions. You might also recall that the late Jim West was a big proponent of the “priorities of government” model when he left the Senate to run for (and become) mayor of Spokane.

Pick your dark horses

The Secretary of State’s and Spokane County’s candidate filing website has been balky today, but the last I saw a couple of high-profile candidates are yet to submit their papers.  I’m thinking of Dino Rossi for U.S. Senate and Steve Salvatori for Spokane County Commissioner.  They’ll show up before close of business Friday, no doubt, as will a number of other names, some of them surprises.

Anybody care to register predictions about candidates who will emerge unexpectedly?  There are usually a few.

Kids of lesbians do well

That’s according to this 25-year study.The study was commissioned by advocates, but I don’t find the results surprising. The pregnancies are planned. The parents are generally older and more mature. And there is two of them.

Wendy Wright, of Concerned Women for America, doesn’t buy it, noting that studies show that kids raised in households with a man and a woman do better. But I’m pretty sure those studies are comparing two-parent households vs, one-parent households. So she shouldn’t be surprised either. These are two-parent households.

What are your thoughts?

June 7 thread

Open season … on the topic of your choice.

Gulf Coast clean-up

I drove up the West Coast from Arizona in the late 1980s and stopped for a short stroll on the beach in Santa Barbara. i was amazed to see the tar on the bottom of my shoes. It was a remnant from a spill that happened in 1969. Looks like this will be the state of things along the Gulf Coast for many years to come.

Benton bows out

GOP primary narrows.

Don Benton, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, last week on staying in the race despite Rossi’s entry:

“We can no longer look to the establishment to turn our economy and our country around. The people want an independent voice that will take on both parties and stand up for common sense and fiscal responsibility.”

Benton today:

“.. since this campaign has never been about me, I have decided to do what is best for my country, my party, and my fellow Washingtonians: I am stepping aside to endorse Dino Rossi.”

If “the people” want independent outsiders, wouldn’t Clint Didier be the choice?

Tea Party and Washington state

This University of Washington Poll is pretty interesting, because it segregates Tea Party diehards from those who are somewhat sympathetic on some issues. Thought the libertarians here would be interested in this observation from Bruce Bartlett.

What I think this poll shows is that taxes and spending are not by any means the only issues that define TPM members; they are largely united in being unsympathetic to African Americans, militant in their hostility toward illegal immigrants, and very conservative socially. At a minimum, these data throw cold water on the view that the TPM is essentially libertarian. Based on these data, I would say that TPM members have much more in common with social conservatives that welcome government intervention as long as it’s in support of their agenda.

Just another populist movement of social conservatives. That’s hardly refreshing.

Here is the entire poll.


America held hostage, by ignorance

Only 1 percent of respondents could name all nine Supreme Court justices. Two-thirds could not name a single one.

In a related note, “Nightline” scored its highest ratings since its re-launch in 2005 with its interview with Jesse James. You know, the guy who cheated on Sandra Bullock.

The June 1 Thread

Open thread.

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