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A Matter Of Opinion

How do you live your politics?

Or do you?

Be interested in thoughts and anecdotes about this subject,

The Jan. 17 thread

Put your thoughts here. Heard this lyric driving in today:

“Ain't it like most people — I'm no different — we like to talk on things we don't know about.”

Tragedy in Arizona

We live in a free and open society, and I doubt many of us would give that up in return for the efficiency of a dictatorship. 

Our freedom lets us say, write and do pretty much anything in reason and go where we want. It also generally allows us to abuse our freedom before it's taken away. It leaves us generally unable to prevent events like Saturday's act of violence outside Tucson. Those who say this is a consequence of free speech are confusing correlation with cause and effect.  In fact, free speech and Saturday's shooting are both consequences of our free and open society.

We need to keep that in mind when we decide how to react to a horrible incident.


Remedial history

The new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives drew some snarky comments for its decision to open business Thursday by reading the Constitution.  I don't see the problem.  Everyone ought to read our main historical documents every so often.

About an hour after the event (in which liberal Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott participated), Congressman Bob Goodlatte — who ought to be from Seattle with a name like that but actually is a Virginia Republican — rose to speak on the House floor. Having managed the rotation of readers, he explained that there had been a minor glitch. Somebody accidentally turned an extra page, resulting in two pages not being read.

Nobody had noticed the oversight when it happened, so Goodlatte was allowed to read the neglected passages into the record.  In a ritual that was planned and conducted by people who are dismayed at how little their colleagues know about the Constitution, you'd think at least one of them would have recognized the error and corrected it on the spot.


Hello to 2011

Open thread here.

Members of Congress are reading the Constitution. Wonder who gets this part?

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Has the budget deficit grabbed our attention?

Alice Rivlin, former budget director for President Clinton, has been probably the most outspoken Democrat in recent years about the need to deal with the federal budget deficit.  In a commentary from the Brookings Institute's website, she sounds hopeful that bipartisan progress could be made in the coming year.

Do you share her optimism?

Say goodbye to 2010

Last open thread of the year. Make it a good one. What will you miss? What are you happy to leave behind?

Or you could chew on this topic. Mike Huckabee leads this poll of possible GOP candidates for president in 2012.

1. Huckabee. 2. Romney. 3. Gingrich. 4. Palin.

Who do you see emerging from the primary scrum?

What’s become of the merry old souls?

As I was researching Expo '74 driver King Cole for today's editorial regarding his death, I got to wondering how he would have handled the task in today's polarized, government-is-the-enemy climate.

He came to Spokane to work for a group of business leaders, the people who typically made things happen in American communities in the middle of the 20th Century. Early on, he reached out to some 190 civic groups and included their grassroots energy in a grand coalition of business, government and civic organizations. 

I wonder where the tea party legions would have fit in.

Military lessons learned and relearned

Tuesday’s Opinion page will carry a clarification of Screenwriter David Freed’s Sunday op-ed piece, which first ran in The Los Angeles Times, examined the thinking behind such military decorations as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In pointing out the influence individual commanders with personal biases have over who gets and doesn’t get a medal, Freed commented: “Witness the fact that not a single African-American soldier received the Medal of Honor in World War II, even though thousands saw combat.”

A couple of readers called to remind us that Vernon Baker, who was living in St. Maries, Idaho, at the time, received the Medal of Honor in 1997 for his heroics as an Army lieutenant in Italy in 1945. Indeed, the Medal of Honor was awarded to Baker and, posthumously, to six other black World War II veterans on July 13, 1997 — not “in” World War II, but half a century after.

So the column was accurate, if incomplete. In fact, the commentary and its subject were incredibly timely, coming on the weekend when the U.S. Senate sealed congressional approval of legislation repealing the odious “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military only as long as they lie about it.

Prior to the early ‘90s, it was believed that of all the wars in which America fought since the Congress Medal of Honor was created in 1861, World War II was the only one in which no black service member received it. In 1996, the news magazine, U.S. News & World Report, identified seven black soldiers whose service records would seem to qualify them for the medal, but a team of military historians was unable to locate any evidence that any of the seven — or any other African-American — had been nominated.  

There was unresolved speculation as to why, but it would be hard not to blame the bigotry and political tension that were prevalent in that period.  Blacks were allowed to fight, in segregated units under white commanders, but their gallantry was not deemed worthy of recognition.

Similarly,  thousands of gays and lesbians have served, many with distinction, only to be turned out because they owned up to their sexual orientation.

Today we recognize the error of how blacks were treated in a segregated military structure. Yet, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly continues to provoke ludicrous assertions that it would undermine military cohesion and effectiveness.

How long will it be before we look back on 2010 and recognize how mistaken we were?


The Dec. 13 Thread

Another balmy autumn day. Put your thoughts here on whatever issue moves you.

Shovel ready

I hear the lull in cold-weather precipitation is about over. Before you rush outside to catch the first flake, take a moment to share any loose-thread opinions that have been accumulating.

Sheriff Joe’s priorities reports that authorities in Maricopa County, Ariz., have raided some 40 workplaces in the past two years, looking for undocumented workers.  Although Arizona reputedly has the nation’s strictest laws against hiring illegal immigrants, fabled Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s forces have arrested and charged scores of workers, but hardly any employers.

Does that seem right?

The Nov. 29 thread

Take some time off from shopping to post some thoughts here.

Thanksgiving through a partisan lens

Hey, if “Dancing with the Stars” can be political, why not Thanksgiving!

“Across the political spectrum, there’s a tendency to grab a hold of some historical incident and yoke it to a current agenda,” he said. “It doesn’t always mean there’s no connection, but often things are presented as historical first, rather than as part of the agenda first.”

The Thanksgiving Week thread

Talk turkey here. Or whatever.

The Nov. 16 Thread

Your weekly chatter on random topics goes here.

Social media has it covered

Take a look at how news will be reported in the not-too-distant future.

The Nov. 8 thread

Put your thoughts here on the political topic of your choosing.


The Nov. 2 Thread

Election thread below. Put your other thoughts on the topics of your choice here.

Some possibilities.

1. Wide loads on Highway 12.

2. Cuts at City Hall.

Oh, and Hummmmmmmmmmmmmm Babe! How about those Giants?

Midterms today

Put your Election Day thoughts here. Campaigning is over. Isn’t the silence blissful?

 Just in case there are any recounts (in Washington state? C’mon!), here are the rules.

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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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