BOSTON – This is for everyone who has ever heard a rival doing their act. It's for everyone who has heard an opponent saying exactly what they think. The odd, and oddly infuriating, experience of agreeing with an enemy is often followed by an impulse to disagree, an urge to poke holes in the argument, or to dismiss the honesty of the arguer. Anything not to nod in approval.
Journalists who just don't get it. When television and radio commentator Armstrong Williams was busted for his unethical contract with the Bush administration to tout the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for money, he said he wasn't alone among commentators with such arrangements. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reports that syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher had a $21,500 contract to work on the president's "healthy-marriage initiative." She didn't tell her readers that when writing marriage-related columns.
I would be the last person to suggest that anyone has the power to predict the future, but I have been around the Iraq situation long enough to understand what likely could occur in the weeks and months after the Jan. 30 election. None of it looks good, nor does any particular outcome necessarily suggest a clear exit for the United States. But that dilemma should not discourage the Bush administration from honing a complete strategy.
Republican leaders of the Idaho Senate have chutzpah. Despite a state constitution that promotes open government, and public opinion polls that overwhelmingly favor such a policy, Republican leaders are pushing for a rule change that would allow Senate committees to close their meetings for any reason. The blatant attempt to conduct business behind closed doors will further erode trust in elected officials and violate the heart of the state's Open Meetings Law.
The National Research Council, billed as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering and medicine," released a report last month that found there's not enough statistical evidence available to determine whether efforts to control violence by restricting guns are effective. The spinmeisters on both sides of the gun-control-vs.-gun-rights debate could have a heyday with this.
The latest liberal spin on Social Security is that there is no problem. Of course, there is no problem with any obligation if you are willing to welsh when it comes time to pay it. Politically, the bottom line of this approach is that President Bush's plan is "not a magic bullet," in the words of Businessweek magazine. When people start talking about how this or that policy "is no panacea" or "not a magic bullet," then you know their argument is not serious.
D id you hear the one about the amateur comedians and the lawyer? It goes like this: These two guys are standing around and start cracking lawyer jokes. A lawyer nearby doesn't think the jokes are funny so he gets them arrested and slapped in handcuffs. The punch line: The would-be comics have to appear in court next month to answer charges of disorderly conduct.
A Spokane family law case got national attention when a judge rescinded a woman's divorce, citing her pregnancy. The decision was certainly an attention-getter, and the complicating factors surrounding proper procedures and due process got lost in the outcry. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine decided the case as other judges would have. It's also true that other judges might have handled it differently. Hence, the need for the Washington Legislature to step in and provide clarity to the state's divorce laws as they relate to paternity, child support and state aid.
Will President Bush actually have the guts to nominate Clarence Thomas for chief justice of the Supreme Court when that opportunity arises, probably soon? You know he's just aching to do it. Because of their shared judicial philosophy, of course. But also because of that arrogant willfulness Bush has that a more generous person than myself might even call integrity. And will the Democrats have the guts to oppose Justice Thomas' elevation to chief, resisting all the Republican cries of, "Oh, for mercy's sake, you people – not that again"? Those cries are starting pre-emptively, in an effort to cow the opposition party out of opposing a Thomas nomination. I wish I could be as confident of the Democrats' guts as I am of the president's.
Do we expect too much of teachers? Too little? And is there any way to make it "just right"? Of course, we expect too much. These days especially we want teachers to be able to do everything. When they can't or when they don't, we are disappointed and angry. I don't excuse teachers who ought to be more competent or excuse incompetence in doctors and other professionals.
Spokane is laying off firefighters, police officers and other workers. It is cutting back library hours and raising parks and recreation fees. The city is facing a serious budget crisis that is affecting its ability to deliver basic services. So are Yakima and Walla Walla. And Seattle and Tacoma. And Bremerton and Bellingham. And Mansfield and Bridgeport. And, well, just about any city or town in the state.
Yes, his civil rights were violated. He was held without access to an attorney for 10 days. Lawmen threatened his life. His interrogation was filmed and then televised, tainting the small-town jury pool.
It would be fun to say SpongeBob SquarePants lost his yellow cool in an interview, but it wouldn't be true. No, it was Tom Kenny, one of the premier "voicers" for children's cartoons on television, who offered an emotional defense for the famous sponge.
"Political appointees are just that. You don't have to answer to anybody." — Spokane County Commissioner Phil Harris, dismissing complaints that he wants to appoint a friend to a vacant District Court judgeship without asking for a bar association survey to evaluate the field of candidates.