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Opinion

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 29, 2004

Give Idaho time to prove itself

For the University of Idaho athletic department, the wolf always seems to prowling near the door. Only months after landing a cherished berth in the Western Athletic Conference, UI was slapped with a 161-page report from an advisory committee that suggested the college consider dropping out of NCAA Division I-A athletics. The 26-member Vision and Resources Task Force reasoned that the financially strapped university could save money by returning to the Division I-AA Big Sky Conference.

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All Muslims not responsible for the few

You could tell he'd had enough. I'm talking about Ibrahim Hooper. If the name is familiar, it's because Hooper, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, has become the news media's go-to guy on issues related to Islam and terrorism.

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Debate advice for the candidates

After the seemingly endless preliminaries, now comes the main event Thursday night. Will many people watch the "debates," which resemble joint news conferences? The rules are so strict that the candidates don't engage each other. One-third of homes with television sets watched the first 2000 presidential debate between Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. The first debate traditionally draws the most viewers, possibly including those precious "undecideds," so here is some unsolicited advice and suggested questions for both candidates.

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TUESDAY, SEPT. 28, 2004

Bush administration's principles absent

One of the things we Bush haters like to say to each other, over lattes with NPR in the background, is that the current president makes us nostalgic for George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Non-Bush haters have trouble understanding this point. Is this GOP president really that much more conservative than other GOP presidents? Well, yes, he is. But the main problem is less his conservative principles than the frequent absence of any ideological principles whatsoever. One telling episode began last year when, because of a World Trade Organization ruling, Congress had to eliminate a $5-billion-a-year export subsidy. The obvious thing to do was pocket the $5 billion and make a dent in our quite large budget deficit. Of course, the GOP-controlled Congress decided instead that every dollar saved would be devoted to tax cuts. And because the newfound money would come from corporate America, it would be returned to corporate America.

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Election potshots cloud key issues

Six weeks before Election Day, it angers me that President George W. Bush and Democratic contender John Kerry continue to focus more energy on taking potshots at each other than on informing Americans about their strategies to deal with critical global issues such as terrorism. Americans deserve better, particularly in light of the fact that global issues hold center stage this year – unlike the typical experience of past elections. Although some people say that they plan to vote according to the candidates' "domestic" stands, that is, matters such as the economy or social views, it's not that simple. The line between the exclusively domestic and the exclusively international has blurred considerably in the current era of accelerated globalization, integration and interdependence. Little happens beyond the nation's shores that does not affect individual Americans' lives.

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State's ranking is not surprising

The national Center for Public Integrity says Idaho is tied for worst in the nation when it comes to public disclosure laws. Washington's laws are the best, but enforcement is another matter. Idaho's ranking is unsurprising given the Legislature's penchant for secrecy. Idaho is one of three states where lawmakers do not have to disclose the source of their personal finances. That, coupled with the fact that legislators get to decide whether they will vote on legislation that has a direct bearing on their income, should raise warning flags.

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MONDAY, SEPT. 27, 2004

Elections are no place for horses

Three Coeur d'Alene City Council members may have to face a direct challenge as a result of their controversial vote in favor of The Coeur d'Alene Resort golf course annexation earlier this year, after all. In fact, the three recently made themselves more vulnerable to an election upset in 2005 by joining a 5-1 majority in changing the way Coeur d'Alene elects council members. Deanna Goodlander, Ben Wolfinger and Woody McEvers deserve credit for having the political courage to change the voting system that overwhelmingly favors them. Longtime incumbent Dixie Reid was the only one to oppose the change.

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In their words . . .

"You get a new definition for what a category 5 hurricane is." — Spokane native Kitty Kelley, on being interviewed by NBC's Matt Lauer about her latest book, "The Family: The real story of the Bush dynasty," which is critical of the president.

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SUNDAY, SEPT. 26, 2004

Californian blocks Wild Sky plan

The Washington state delegation's hopes for the Wild Sky Wilderness proposal look to be dashed this year. The culprit isn't Washington U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, nor is it Rep. George Nethercutt. It's California Rep. Richard Pombo. The bill calling for 106,000 acres near Stevens Pass to be designated wilderness was not going to get past the House Resource Committee chairman, so Nethercutt proposed an alternative to reduce the size to 92,000 acres. But it's a misnomer to call that bill a compromise. Pombo wasn't surrendering anything. Once he staked out a position that the lower 14,000 acres of the proposal had to be removed, he never budged.

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Journalism is the big loser in 2004

WASHINGTON – We don't yet know who will win the 2004 election, but we know who has lost it. The American news media have been clobbered. In a year when war in Iraq, the threat of terrorism and looming problems with the federal budget and the nation's health-care system cry out for serious debate, the news organizations on which people should be able to depend have been diverted into chasing sham-events: a scurrilous and largely inaccurate attack on the Vietnam service of John Kerry and a forged document charging President Bush with disobeying an order for an Air National Guard physical.

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Simplification comforts many

BOSTON — Sometimes I wonder what it must be like when the presidential son comes to Kennebunkport for a visit. Does George the Younger tell George the Elder what he tells the country? Does he say that we are safer with Saddam in prison than in power? Does he insist that we are better off having overthrown the dictator rather than having contained him? I suspect it might be just a splash awkward. After all, it was dad who decided not to topple the Iraqi when he was on the run. It was George the 41st who believed that the chaos might be worse than containment. When another and another car bomb goes off in Baghdad, does this most discreet father ever want to say: I told you so?

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Hold campaign to standard set in '64

If the '60s were a time of political tension, you couldn't tell from the 1964 congressional campaign in Eastern Washington. The Republican incumbent was Walt Horan, a respected Wenatchee orchardist who was first elected during World War II. His challenger was Tom Foley, a young prosecutor who decided to run at the last minute. When it was over, Foley had toppled a popular veteran in a campaign notable for its civility. The nation was becoming embroiled in debate over Vietnam, but the Horan-Foley race would be remembered as "a gentlemen's campaign."

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SATURDAY, SEPT. 25, 2004

Proposal risky to patient welfare

Practice may not make perfect, but in most activities it increases competence. Major health care organizations believe, for instance, that it's important to have a certain amount of experience with tricky procedures before institutions and providers are designated to perform them. Unfortunately, that expectation is neglected by a regulation being proposed by the Washington state Department of Health.

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Racial hatred has its day at the fair

Sometimes, we act as if it just dissipated long ago, all the heat, all the hate, gone one milestone day. Like everybody got religion simultaneously, repented their sins and went forth to sin no more. We consider ourselves enlightened now, beyond it now, so much so that some of us resent you even bringing it up. Indeed, the very word we use to describe it feels 20th century, like rotary dials and vinyl records.

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