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Join the informed, opinionated journalists of The Times' editorial staff in lively discussions at our blog Ed Cetera.

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July 30, 2008 4:40 PM

Critical Mass is Achieved

Posted by Eric Devericks


Eric Devericks/The Seattle Times

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July 30, 2008 3:22 PM

Should puppies be banned?

Posted by Lance Dickie

All best wishes to a Seattle police officer recovering from a traffic collision that left the community howling for explanations.

The accident, blamed on a playful puppy distracting the driver, has Seattle City Hall wondering if young dogs should be banned from automobiles.
What do you think, should puppies join cell phones on the list of items stricken from cars? One idea is to bag frisky pets while a vehicle is in motion. Interesting, but some worry the proposal conflicts with a new ordinance to discourage use of plastic grocery sacks.

An early, emotional suggestion to require dogs under one year be sedated has no support. Though in a city with more dogs than kids, mandatory sedation is being considered for two-year-old children on buses.

Others would link annual license tab renewals to Seattle dog owners installing canine seats or doggie-shoulder restraints. They are already required by several Scandinavian municipalities. Obedience classes for transported dogs, funded by a six-year levy, might be an alternative.
Nothing is ever easy. There is debate the levy might work better in 2010 when pet owners will see plans for a dog run on the Viaduct.

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July 30, 2008 1:01 AM

Planet Obama

Posted by Lynne Varner

Barack Obama leaves his Republican nemesis, John McCain, choking on dust by offering up pragmatic, proactive solutions for getting the U.S. out of one war and preventing full-scale eruption of a second. What if Obama trained some of that wattage on another vexing problem?

Continue reading this post ...


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July 29, 2008 5:55 PM

Notes on Finland

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

A member of the recent Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce study mission to Helsinki sent a copy of notes. Without saying who it was, I’ll pass on some comments.

“The people we met were impressive. Very focused on the need for this small, homogenous country to be competitive… but there seems to be as much luck involved as planning, mainly round Nokia.”

Continue reading this post ...


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July 28, 2008 1:30 AM

Obama's press

Posted by Lynne Varner

Journalists have a dirty little secret: we aren't the snarling pack of watchdogs the First Amendment gave us permission to be. We're actually a genial bunch, prone to joking with power brokers, asking after their little ones and enjoying the rush of self-importance when they ask after ours.

Framed this way, journalism's love affair with Sen. Barack Obama - the kind that stills pens and makes hearts flutter even as internal voices mutter, 'snap out of it!' is understandable, yet worrisome.


Eric Devericks/The Seattle Times


Continue reading this post ...


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July 27, 2008 12:00 AM

Summertime and the fishing is perplexing

Posted by Jim Vesely

A story out of Portland reveals the remarkable news that the largest run of sockeye salmon is running up the Columbia River -- more sockeye than have been counted in five decades, since 1938.

A depleted fishery that 10 years ago was reduced to just two fish at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River has seen 800 return to the dam. About 218,000 have been counted at Bonneville Dam. What to make of it?

Jim Vesely's Sunday column explains how NOAA views the fishery. Click below for a podcast Q&A with the author.

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July 26, 2008 11:32 AM

Another 55 m.p.h. limit? Please, no

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, suggests in this Time magazine story that it's time to reimpose the 55-mph speed limit. I lived with that limit for 20 years. It was a pain. Probably it saved gas, but it also wasted a lot of time--at least, inasmuch as anyone obeyed it, which they did only partially. They drove slower than they would have, but they mostly drove faster than 55.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 25, 2008 4:13 PM

Would you like a bag with that?

Posted by Joni Balter

The correct answer is no. Up and down the West Coast, paper and plastic grocery bags are takintg a hit. On Monday, the Seattle City Council will vote on a proposal to put a 20-cent gree fee on paper and plastic bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores. You can bet your stinkiest compost bin it will pass handily.
The next city to go green may be Portland.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 25, 2008 1:00 AM

The revolution of 2008

Posted by Lance Dickie

Higher gasoline prices are no tea party, but there are seeds of a revolution in those spinning numbers at the pump. I suspect the energy crisis of 2008 is compelling enough not only to change behavior but also to change minds.

The next new thing for public transportation in Puget Sound is pure pragmatism, moving people and goods efficiently. We are changing our driving habits and our attitudes. Light rail and buses? Bring them on, get them done.

Commuters standing on trains and buses on the way to work and back are not interested in more debates. For a Q&A on my Friday, July 25 column, please click below.

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July 23, 2008 3:50 PM

Nanny Seattle

Posted by Kate Riley

Seattle's nanny-ness is official.

Reason, a feisty magazine with a libertarian bent, has deemed the Emerald City as the second worst nanny-state city in America. Only Chicago ranked lower on the list of 35 featured in the magazine's September issue.

It's not talked about much in tight-smile Seattle, but this is a very, um, nurturing place. Our citizens' best interests are carefully tended to by government that knows best.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 23, 2008 1:09 AM

Seattle's Medical-Marijuana Lawyer

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

My Wednesday column is a mini-profile of Doug Hiatt, the Seattle attorney whose entire law practice is representing medical-marijuana users. He is a walking think-tank of the law, the chemistry, the medical studies and the social scene of the users. He is voluble, driven, energetic. As I interview him, flashes of anger crackle like mini lightning. What is the matter with people? He is defending sick people—people who are self-medicating with a house plant. Why harass them? They’re ill. A lot of them are terminally ill. Why arrest them and search their places and cause them grief? Why tell them they can’t use this house plant, but have to a pill produced by the pharma industry? Especially when the pill does not work so well, and has worse side effects and costs $10 or more a pill? Hiatt is fired up. Why are people so messed up on this topic? “This just makes me crazy,” he says.

Click below for a Q&A podcast discussion:

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July 22, 2008 4:33 PM

Nickels and Sims have it out over Sound Transit vote

Posted by Kate Riley

soundtransit.gif
Greg Nickels and Ron Sims are wrangling over whether to ask voters to approve a $17.8 billion bond measure to launch Sound Transit, Phase 2.


Seattle Mayor Nickels is for it; and King County Executive Sims is against it -- at least right now. They lay out their cases in op-ed columns in the Wednesday Times.

Vote on the topic and let us know what you think:

Ron Sims: The wrong investment at the wrong time

Greg Nickels: 10 lame reasons to delay mass transit


Also here is the Seattle Times editorial board's July 20 position: Light Rail can Wait



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July 22, 2008 4:16 PM

Asking and telling in the military

Posted by Joni Balter

Public sentiment is moving quickly toward more tolerance of gays in the military. The public is often ahead of politicians on social change and that is true again on the delicate question of whether gays should be allowed to serve openly in the military. The obvious answer is yes, The current "don't ask, don't tell'' rule was adopted 15 years ago and is past its pull date.
That doesn't mean the U.S. Congress is ready to make a change. At the moment, it is more ready to make a fuss about this ill-advised policy. That, too, will help.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 20, 2008 1:00 AM

Thanking her lucky stars

Posted by Joni Balter

Gov. Christine Gregoire has to be thanking her lucky stars that she listened to one of her daughters who urged her last February to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. Her other daughter was backing Sen. Hillary Clinton. So were many of the state's top leaders, including the two U.S. senators.
That endorsement set up the recent Seattle visit by Michelle Obama to raise campaign cash for Gregoire.
It's not only about money. Gregoire may be able to pull off a tough re-election win if enough Obama-maniacs come out and vote in November. This is an unpredictable group of new voters who may sway one of the hottest governors' races in the country.
Click below for a podcast discussion with me about my July 20 column.
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July 18, 2008 6:31 PM

The Dream of Cottage Housing

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

The Wall Street Journal’s article on cottage housing, here, datelined Kirkland, talks about a the idea of 1,100-square-foot houses—places that are “half the size of the average U.S. home and cost a lot more per square foot.” A small footprint saves energy and operating costs, and it forces you to live with less stuff. I know about that; I lived in Hong Kong in a 926-square foot apartment. Every time I was tempted to buy something bulky, I had to imagine where I was going to put it, or what I was going to throw away to make room for it. It is a different lifestyle, and will never appeal to most Americans, but will appeal to some. If builders can build small houses, people will buy them if they’re not too expensive. The article prices one at $600,000, which undercuts the idea of this as a mass-market product.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 17, 2008 4:14 PM

The Bellevue Pariah

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

The case announced against Peter Egner, the Bellevue man accused by the Justice Department of being a war criminal in the service of the Nazis, seems to be all about the actions of a unit. Maybe I am mistaken, and all the solid evidence will come out at trial, but that is what it looks like now. Egner has admitted to being in the Security Police and Security Service, a unit of the German occupation government of Yugoslavia. The Justice Department says he was also part of the Belgrade Einsatzgruppe, an SPSS group that in 1941 put several thousand Jews, communists and gypsies to death by carbon monoxide poisoning, using trucks. But they don’t seem to have evidence about him, personally.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 17, 2008 1:25 PM

Michelle Obama's world

Posted by Lynne Varner

Gregoire_Michelle_Oba#7B76D.jpgThe world envisoned by Gov. Chris Gregoire and the wife of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama was the theme of the fundraising luncheon that ended an hour ago at Qwest Field's WaMu Theater. Message: Don't elect Barack without re-electing Chris.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 16, 2008 12:26 AM

The Obamas are not that funny

Posted by Lynne Varner


Courtesy of The New Yorker

Says someone who ought to know, Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show. It is difficult to spoof the couple who may occupy the White House because they do very little that could be deemed ha ha funny or strangely funny. Perhaps that is why The New Yorker's cover fell flatter than a pancake.


The magazine says it was employing satire to poke fun at Americans suspicious of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid. It didn't work. In addition, it is not nice to make fun of voters who could make the difference in what is shaping up to be a close race between Obama and Republican likely nominee, Sen. John McCain. Times political columnist Joni Balter and I chat more about this and my column on the topic. Click below.

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July 15, 2008 5:11 PM

A Chuckle at the New Yorker

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

I cannot join in the outrage over the “terrorist Obamas” cover on The New Yorker. You cannot take this cover seriously. If it were put out by McCain supporters, with the aim of sowing fear and loathing among the lumpenproletariat, then O.K. We could all go into righteousness mode. But it wasn’t. The New Yorker is a magazine run by liberals and sold to liberals. Obama is their guy. Their cover is a highbrow giggling at the lowlifes who are afraid of Obama.

Of course Obama is black, and subject to racism. But he is also a politician running for president, and as such is subject to jokes, snide and cynical comments, etc., the same as McCain, Bush and the Clintons. The rules apply to them all.

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July 14, 2008 7:25 PM

Satire vs. Sneer

Posted by Lynne Varner

The left and right of American politics are on talk radio, news shows and the blogosphere debating the intent of The New Yorker magazine's cartoon portrayal of The Obamas. Democrats say appropriate satire. Republicans say it was a misfired sneer at some Americans. Stop arguing: it was both.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 14, 2008 2:28 PM

McCain's pregnant pause

Posted by Joni Balter

No candidate, not even one on his snappiest tippy toes, is going to fare well responding to a question about the fairness of insurance companies covering Viagra for men and not birth control for women. Sen. John McCain received a fair question and almost wiped part of his face off agonizing over his answer.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 13, 2008 12:00 AM

Summer of misbehaving

Posted by Jim Vesely


Have you thought about what you shouldn't do this summer? Lots of regulators have, and the list of things that are bad for you are nearly as long as summer itself. The joys of summer are about fewer things, not more. But that does not include the rules we live by in the Summer of 08. See my list in my column.

Got a regulation you would like to add to the list? Join the conversation.

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July 11, 2008 1:00 AM

Canterbury Tales

Posted by Lance Dickie

The Lambeth Conference convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury every decade meets next week at the ancient cathedral site southeast of London. Church leaders from the United States have upset their colleagues in the worldwide Anglican Communion by having female priests and bishops, consecrating an openly gay bishop and blessing same-sex unions. This is an anxious time for the church at home and abroad.

The loose affiliation of 77 million members in 164 countries prides itself on independence from a central church authority, but the U.S. and Canada have pushed more conservative provinces to what many fear is a breaking point. Included in the international audience for the conference are the 33,000 Episcopalians in Western Washington. Please click below for a Q&A podcast about my July 11, 2008 column:


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July 9, 2008 1:00 AM

'60s memories in downtown Seattle

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Sometimes the reader needs a week off of heavy issues. Or the writer does. Anyway, it is summertime, and my Wednesday column has not a single argument in it. It is about my memories of downtown Seattle from about age 12 to age 16, when I lived in Edmonds. The column recalls the best French dip sandwiches I ever had, and prowling for political books in bookstores long since out of business. There is also the story of how I visited downtown while playing hooky, and how I almost got nailed for it. School is not in session, so I suppose it is as good a time as any to tell the tale. Click below for a Q&A podcast about this column.

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July 8, 2008 4:47 PM

Hold the presses! Libertarian makes general election ballot

Posted by Kate Riley

Here's an irony for you.

Libertarian Ruth Bennett sued Washington state when voters approved a new nonpartisan primary in 2004. Her beef was that the so-called top two primary -- in which the top two vote getters advance, regardless of their party preference -- would keep candidates of minority parties, such as the Libertarian party, off the general election ballot. She was a named plaintiff along with representatives of the state Democrat and Republican parties.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 7, 2008 9:21 AM

Top two primary in Oregon?

Posted by Kate Riley

Oregon state could follow Washington lead down the hard-fought path of de-partying its primary election.

Two of Oregon's former secretaries of State, Democrat Phil Keisling and Republican Norma Paulus, recently delivered enough signatures to put on the November ballot a proposal to remake the state's primary.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 6, 2008 1:01 AM

How high the stack?

Posted by Jim Vesely

Each year at the approach of election season, we try to measure the height of the tax stack. That is the total amount of tax placed on your home, your car, a dinner out, or the simple act of living here. The tax stack is elusive because there are so many overlapping levels of government. And each year there is either a renewal of a previous tax or creation of new taxing districts.

This past tax cycle, King County created two, new taxing districts: one for a county-run ferry system and one expanding flood levy districts to include the whole county.

How high is your tax stack? You can help us by blogging here about the tax cycle -- too high, too low, just about right? Click below for a Q&A podcast about this column:

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July 4, 2008 7:25 PM

Tools of Learning

Posted by Lance Dickie

I was shocked, shocked to hear a PBS essayist celebrate the Fourth of July with a whimsical piece about Thomas Jefferson's turn of phrase: the pursuit of happiness.

He got it all wrong.

The contemporary ruminations were about how modern folks try to find happiness in a mate, shopping spree or bowl of ice cream. Cute, but TJ was not interested in that transitory kind of bliss.

Continue reading this post ...


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July 3, 2008 3:22 PM

Hoop dreams

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Oklahoma City can have Clay Bennett and his team. Seattle's NBA franchise was gone even if Seattle had won in court against the possessed Bennett. The last thing I wanted to see was a lame duck team forced to stay in its KeyArena lease until 2010.

Seattle can now start plotting how it can lure the NBA back to Seattle now that Bennett's bunch is heading to the Dust Bowl league. There is a chance KeyArena will be home to an NBA team again if our elected officials and potential local owners can work together.

Click below for a podcast of me discussing my new column, which deals with the potential created by Bennett's departure.

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July 3, 2008 1:01 AM

Seattle taxes squeeze middle class

Posted by Kate Riley


Elected Seattle officials seem oblivious to the current economic realities. Energy and food prices are soaring and people are being laid off or worrying about it.

You would think that would register with Seattle's mayor and City Council, each of which is proposing new property tax increases -- the mayor for Pike Place Market improvements and the council for parks.

Editorial columnist Joni Balter discusses the city's taxing proclivities and their effect in her column today. Click below for a Q&A with Joni about the issue:

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July 2, 2008 2:59 PM

Is the Washington Legislature investing enough in higher education?

Posted by Kate Riley


Hello, Seattle Times political caucus,

In recent years, the state has steadily reduced its contribution to the cost of higher education instruction at the state's six four-year universities and, to a lesser extent, the community colleges. In the 1989-90 biennium, the state paid about 82 percent of the cost of instruction. In the current biennium, it will pay about 51 percent with student tuition making up the difference.

The effects have been higher tuition for students ­­-- along with some increase in financial aid. But as the state struggles with difficult budgets, higher education increasingly takes a backseat in state budget prioritization, while opponents of the trend argue that state investment in higher education is an excellent investment in the state's economy.

Seattle Times reporter Nick Perry described this issue in a May 1 story..

So what do you think? Please vote in the poll and add your comments to this post.

Thank you.



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July 2, 2008 1:00 AM

Commuters unite!

Posted by Lynne Varner

Whether you get around via Hummer or Doc Martens, a united front is needed to further long-term solutions to a problem that will be with us for the long-term: $5 bucks a gallon gas.

Some people think the response to rising gas prices is to pack up and move next door to one's office. Walk to work, grocery store and the library, urban enthusiasts say. Unrealistic however. People will continue to move where it is affordable, often outside the city. Policy must respond to these choices, not punish them. Hear more on this topic in my podcast. Please click below:

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July 1, 2008 1:52 AM

New voters, new considerations

Posted by Kate Riley


Courtesy of Clint Gomez

New citzen and new voter Clint Gomez

During this Fourth of July week, consider the importance of one vote. It was only four years ago, that Washington's gubernatorial vote count teetered over months between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Chris Gregoire. Gregoire ultimately was ruled the winner with a 129-vote count.

In my column today, I write about the addition of 23,000 new voters who also recently became new citizens. They registered to vote in part thanks to a program by OneAmerica, formerly Hate Free Zone Washington. I'll be curious to see if this group might affect elections at all levels of government.

For a Q&A discussion click below:

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