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A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for May 2010

Looks like extra innings in Senate race

Rasmussen poll reports that Dino Rossi’s formal announcement hasn’t broken the tie between him and his target, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.  Check it out here.

With half a dozen Republicans possibly in the contest, I also have to wonder if Washington’s top-two primary will produce some surprises in August.

Police ombudsman back in the news

Here is our editorial on the topic.

Here is what the reports look like on the Boise ombudsman’s Web site.

Here is the Monday council meeting (click on “City Council meetings:, then select May 24th), which had a lot of emotional comments from citizens about their interactions with police. Nobody testified for the status quo.

Here is an article about that meeting.




Ex-SR photographer shoots amid danger

Holly Pickett, a former staff photographer here, has one of the best blogs I’ve seen. Helps that she shoots such compelling photos in such newsworthy hotspots as Afghanistan and Iraq. She’s in Iraq now and recently had a photo on the front page of The New York Times. It’s remarkable that anyone — let alone a woman in a Muslim world — can get such access. She is very brave.


Rossi, income tax and more

Looks like Dino Rossi will challenge Patty Murray, though Tea Party appears to favor Clint Didier. Should be interesting. Meanwhile this Washington Poll has fodder for discussion, including:

1. Murray edging Rossi, though it’s early and he hadn’t officially announced.

2. State income tax initiative holding wide lead.

3. Same with privatization of liquor stores.

Poll also has data on health care, immigration, taxation and other issues.


The May 24 Thread

According to my calendar, it is Victoria Day in Canada, which is pegged to Queen Victoria’s birthday and is the official start of summer up north. So, happy Canada Summer Day!

This is an open thread.

“Where is the oil?”

That’s the question from Brit Hume here. He ought to take a look at these images.

Video here.

Live camera here.

Social Security tweaks

Congressional report shows what it would take to sustain it. Here are some options. Doesn’t look so daunting to me. For instance:

Modify the Social Security tax cap. Workers pay into the Social Security system on earnings up to $106,800 in 2010. About 83 percent of worker earnings were subject to Social Security payroll taxes in 2008. If all earned income above $106,800 annually were subject to Social Security contributions but did not count toward benefits, Social Security’s projected deficit would be completely eliminated. If the higher income counted toward Social Security benefits, about 95 percent of the shortfall would be absolved. Other ideas: apply a new Social Security formula to earnings above the current cap or raise the amount of the income cap to apply to 90 percent of all worker earnings.

Is everything political? Miss USA?

Blogger notes frequency of Muslim winners. Commenters take it from there. Who is Daniel Pipes? Noted here.

Some liberals critique the very fact that these events take place. This neocon doesn’t mind that, but he wonders about the process for picking winners.

To repeat the title: Is everything political?

The May 17 thread

Open thread. Have at it.

“Cruel and unusual punishment”

That’s the rationale for the Supremes striking down state laws that put people younger than 18 in prison for life without the possibility of parole for crimes that come up short of murder.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the court, said a life prison term with no chance for parole is too extreme for a juvenile criminal whose offenses involve robbery or assault. He also noted that prior to today, “The United States is the only nation that imposes life without parole sentences on juvenile non-homicide offenders.”

Kennedy said these young criminals are not entitled to a “guarantee” of eventual release, but they do deserve “some realistic opportunity to obtain release” if they can show they are no longer a danger to the community.

The ruling came in the case of Terrance Graham, who as a teenager in Jacksonville, Fla., was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the armed robbery of a restaurant and a later home invasion robbery. He was 17 when a judge sent him to prison for life with no chance for parole.

What do you think?


Health Care Reform

Put your thoughts on the health care debate in this thread here.  I’ll update this as needed and keep it on the blog’s “front page.”

UPDATE: Here is a handy chart on how the health care bill might affect you.

UPDATE: UW Law School holds debate on constitutionality of the law. You can watch it here. Or tune in to TVW at 8:15 pm on Wednedsay to watch in on TV.


Global Warming/Cap and Trade

Real threat? Hoax? Too expensive to fix? Too dire not to?

Put your thoughts here, and I’ll keep it on the blog’s Front Page.


Education reform

What is “basic education?” What should be included/excluded? How to fix it? How to pay for it? Should the feds have a role?

Put your education thoughts here, and I’ll keep in on the front page.

UPDATE: Only two states — Delaware and Tennessee — are awarded Race to the Top money in the first round. That means the other finalists will head to the second round, which means the competition for Washington state just got a lot tougher.

BAD TEACHER: Here is an account of a parent frustrated with a bad middle school math teacher. His solution was to team up with others and hire a better one. He doesn’t call for the dissolution of public schools, but he does want it to be easier to hire and fire competent teachers. That would certainly help the state obtain Race to the Top money.


Portland mayor fires police chief

Why? Probably for the way the department handled an in-custody death of a mentally ill man. That saga lasted 3 1/2 years. Sounds familiar. It didn’t help that the chief criticized some budget cuts.

So there’s that intersection of mental illness and criminal justice again.

Jason Renaud, co-founder of the Mental Health Association of Portland, said police in Portland are following a national trend.

“Cops are social workers,” Renaud said. “They manage people with mental illness and addiction problems every day. They don’t bring down bank robbers and murderers every day.”

Speaking of cuts, Mayor Verner has proposed 44 job cuts for City Hall. Eighteen of them are police officers.


The May 10 thread

Stock market continues wild ride. Obama makes his Supreme choice. Attempt to cap oil gusher fails.

Comment on these or anything else in this open thread.

Incarceration Nation

What are your thoughts on incarceration in the United States and the ongoing Spokane County jail discussion?

My thoughts are here and here.

The May 5 thread

So, when is Cinco de Mayo this year? And who really is buried in Grant’s Tomb?

Taxed enough already?

Nearly half of households paid no federal income taxes for 2009. Before that the top two rates were lowered.

About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17, according to a separate analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte Tax.

Does this match your perception of federal taxation in this country?

Arizona immigration law

So the Arizona governor signed the bill that allows law enforcement to ask for papers if they have “reasonable suspicion.” What are the reasonable “tells” of illegal immigrants? The governor said she didn’t know.

UPDATE: Arizona lawmakers modify law over profiling concerns. Now race cannot be used at all. Sounds to me like this will be practically impossible to enforce and thus will be lightly enforced. Then law enforcement will have to fend off lawsuits for not enforcing it. But how will litigants prove officers didn’t act on reasonable suspicion?

UPDATE: Arizona Republic devotes entire front page to an editorial on the topic. Highly unusual. The editorial is here.

What a mess.


The May 3 thread

Newsroom just heard on the police scanner that a tree blew down and is on fire. Guess that tops my plight: lost a section of backyard fence. If there’s one place I always lose, it’s fence politics. I’ve replaced the north and south sides at full cost to me. Free lunchers! Now — fingers crossed — I hope the eastern neighbor will split the cost.

Consider this an open thread, and be careful out there.

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