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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

The opinions you read below are those of the individual writers, not necessarily views that will become formal positions of The Seattle Times. Respond to STop
(Please be aware that your name and comments may be published here, unless you specify otherwise).

Currently, STop cannot automatically post readers' comments on the blog. However, the editorial staff will regularly post readers' comments. Your comments are sent directly to the individual editor or writer.

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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
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Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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Ryan Blethen
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November 30, 2004

Mommy wars

Ever since penning a Nov. 9 column on the tension between stay at-home moms and career moms, the return missives continue to fill my e-mail box. Most of those responding are glad to see an issue they care about illuminated. But there were the few sanctimonious replies that highlight the polarization surrounding the issue of stay at-home parenting versus working moms.

A husband from Omaha sanctimoniously informed me that if couples don't want to raise their children, they should not have them. His wife, he proudly writes, "is at home with our kids." He also notes that his mom was a working mom for 33-years. "She blew it big time, as she sheepishly came to understand very late in her life."

Now that's the grateful son we should all be cursed with.

As a working mother myself, I am not unbiased. But as a journalist, I'm constantly seeking proof before presenting something as fact. The fact is studies that make predictions about the effect on children of a mother working are flawed. One study done a year ago that reported full-time daycare causes behavior problems was done by kindergarten teachers and parents. Hardly a neutral group.

The bottom line is that years of studies suggest that the quality of a child's environment is the single most important thing. Thus a child home with his mom watching cartoons all day is in no better shape than the child sitting in the corner of a daycare facility.

Instead of us moms beating ourselves up over our choices -- you never hear men moaning about the guilt of working while parenting -- let's make the choice to improve daycare centers everywhere, whether our child is in them or not.

Respond to Lynn

Read her latest column

Posted by at 05:11 PM


Rough waters

Dino Rossi's ship came in.

No really, his cruise ship came in after roughly a week in the Caribbean. Rossi came back to town earlier this week and was crowned governor-elect yesterday after Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election and Rossi's 42-vote edge.

Rossi was having a victory party Tuesday night but he has to be careful not to get too enthused. This race probably won't be over for a couple more weeks.

Democrat Christine Gregoire is trying to raise money for a third and final hand recount, hopefully statewide. Otherwise it looks like cherry-picking and vote counting until she wins.

The closest election in state history will also be the longest with everybody in fairly uncharted waters. Rossi was having the not-quite victory party and Gregoire and Rossi were settling into space for their respective transitions. Weird.

Respond to Joni

Read her latest column

Posted by Joni Balter at 05:07 PM


November 29, 2004

The third party

While Dino Rossi and Chris Gregoire are separated by 42 votes after the official recount, the Libertarian candidate, Ruth Bennett, pulled 63,415 votes.

She told me Monday she thought she pulled more votes away from Gregoire than Rossi because of her championship of a left-wing issue, same-sex marriage, and because precinct results showed that she was stronger in Gregoire precincts and weaker in Rossi ones.

The Libertarians’ role was a rerun of four years ago, when Maria Cantwell and Slade Gorton separated by just 2,229 votes for a U.S. Senate seat and Libertarian Jeff Jared pulled down 64,734 votes, almost the same amount Bennett just received.

Because the Libertarians are considered a right-wing party -- on account of their opposition to the welfare state -- people said that in 2000, Jared had cost the Republicans one Senate seat.

Bennett argues against that. She says Jared also ran better in Democrat precincts than in Republican ones, and therefore did not spoil the 2000 election for Gorton. “Without a Libertarian in the race, Gorton would have lost by tens of thousands of votes,” she says.

It would be interesting to hear from Libertarian voters. Who would they have voted for in these races if the ballot had only the top two candidates from the primary? (As we have now decided to do.)

Respond to Bruce

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 03:27 PM


November 24, 2004

The Bush team knew

More than two years after the coup to boot Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a just released CIA document proves what many had suspected -- that the Bush administration (at the least) knew about the planned attack ahead of time.

The Bush team has always denied involvement in the coup and has denied knowing about it.

The U.S. never warned the Chavez government. No surprise there. Bush and Chavez have been on rocky footing from day one. The U.S. depends on Venezuela -- and its leader -- for one-sixth of its oil, so the Bush administration manages to keep its comments about Chavez being a Communist and a dictator to a minimum.

The CIA document stops short of acknowledging actual U.S. involvement in the plot, which overthrew Chavez for two days before he returned to his post.

I was in Caracas, Venezuela's capital, on the day Chavez was democratically elected in 1998. I watched as thousands of ecstatic, poor Venezuelans marched in the street, hoping for better days. The wealthier, educated folks stayed in their homes on the hills above the dirty city, wary of this former military man. Jimmy Carter was there to watch the count.

Military man or no, dictator or no, Chavez was still democratically elected. And the U.S. should mind its own business.

Respond to Colleen

Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 01:20 PM


War on rights

Republicans have launched their war on reproductive rights here on U.S. soil.

The Bush administration obviously didn't get enough when it first went overseas and took away federal funding from family planning clinics and services that offered, or even discussed the option of, abortions.

Now Bush and the Republican Congress are sneaking in a provision into a $388 billion measure that would allow U.S. health care companies, insurance companies and hospitals to flat-out ignore Roe v. Wade and state and local laws that ensure women have access to safe abortions.

It denies federal funds to government agencies that go against health care companies that decide to skirt the law requiring states to offer abortion-related services.

If set in stone, this provision would undoubtedly curb access to abortion and even to counseling that mentions abortion as an option. And not too far down the road, look for the horror of health care companies instructing their doctors not to provide patients with information about abortions.

In this next Congressional session, we -- following Sen. Barbara Boxer's lead -- must push to have this backward measure repealed.

Respond to Colleen

Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 11:53 AM


Re: Regretful libertarians

From a reader:

Dear Ms. Riley,
You could not be more wrong about Libertarians regretting their vote. No matter who wins, we'll have four more years of the same old thing from the Republicrats. This state, and this country, need a real change, for a change.

Written by a reader

Respond to Kate

Read her latest column

Posted by Kate Riley at 10:51 AM


November 19, 2004

Regretful libertarians

A distant third candidate in the sensational governor's race is Ruth Bennett, a Libertarian.

Probably many of the 62,337 people who voted for her are kicking themselves as they look at the tally for the race's two front-runners.

After the 2.8 million votes were finally counted Wednesday, Republican Dino Rossi is leading Democrat Christine Gregoire by only 261 votes. At one point Wednesday, he led by only four -- yes, F-O-U-R. The margin is so close that the Secretary of State ordered a machine recount of all the ballots. And, although Rossi is ahead, a mistake like the 500-vote one discovered in Grays Harbor County, could throw it the other way.

Many of those Bennett voters, I'm sure, are devoted to Libertarian philosophies. But I suspect a bunch of them, if they had it to do over knowing now how much their votes really counted, they would have chosen another candidate.

Respond to Kate

Read her latest column

Posted by Kate Riley at 04:29 PM


November 18, 2004

A critical move

A reader responds to my column Wednesday on King County land-use rules:

This insane King County Critical Areas Ordinance is just one more taking of land-use rights that makes the place so incredibly unaffordable for the general population. Most people who have owned their homes for more than 15 or 20 years could not afford to buy their own home today.

This reader says he moved from King County to Spokane two years ago:

I thought long and hard about leaving the Bellevue Kirkland area where I lived for 36 years, but it became very apparent that there are much better places to live in the Great Northwest. One simple example of the differences between the two areas is the home I live in here in the north part of Spokane.

I bought this very lovely home 18 months ago for $226,000. It was built in 1987 and has 3,500 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 3 car garage, lots of brick, and sits on a 12,000 square foot lot. The same house (the plans were purchased by this homebuilder from a Bellevue builder) in the Issaquah/Bellevue/Redmond area goes for around $650,000 usually on a smaller lot.

Land-use control is not the only reason why houses in King County are more expensive than in Spokane, but clearly it is part of the reason.

Respond to Bruce

Read his latest column

Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 05:00 PM


The 100-foot rule

“The Bush cabinet is getting very Bushian,” says Peggy Noonan.

It sure is.

To replace Secretary of State Colin Powell, who sometimes disagreed with him, he picks Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser.

To replace Attorney General John Ashcroft, he picks Alberto Gonzalez, his White House lawyer and former member of the Texas Supreme Court.

To replace Education Secretary Rod Paige, he picks Margaret Spellings, who has been an adviser since his Texas days.

The way to get chosen for a cabinet position, it seems, is to have an office within 100 feet of the president’s. No more Paul O’Neills for him.

Respond to Bruce

Read his latest column

Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 04:55 PM


November 16, 2004

Gov. Locke, governor for life?

The way things are going with Washington's very strange ballot counting process, Gov. Gary Locke may have to cancel the planned move back to Seattle. Lawsuits are flying. Re-counts are happening in Grays Harbor County -- before the other re-count that may be required statewide.

It could be awhile before we know whether Republican Dino Rossi or Democrat Christine Gregoire has won.

The closeness of the race has uncovered details of the ballot counting process. Very weird once you get a close -- eek, too close -- view of how it all actually works.

Respond to Joni

Read her latest column

Posted by Joni Balter at 03:29 PM


November 15, 2004

Rossi's lead

The best coverage of the Rossi-Gregoire race is probably at Sound Politics. It’s run by a Rossi supporter, Stefan Sharkansky, and for some days now it has been projecting a Rossi victory. I’m beginning to think he’s right -- Rossi is going to win this.

Respond to Bruce

Read his latest column

Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 12:24 PM


November 11, 2004

Thanks, Al

Alfred Hamilton knew how to break up the drive between Seattle and Portland. Generally by annoying the hell out of me for at least 20 miles. His huge Uncle Sam billboard along Interstate 5 at Chehalis always tweaked some political sensibility of mine. Mr. Hamilton was a past master at getting my goat with his pithy conservative jibes.

News of his death this week at age 83 is sad indeed. Part of me wants to believe he was a grumpy old coot, but I know that cannot be. Anyone who can be so nettlesome for so long has to have a serious twinkle in his eye.

At the risk of insulting his memory, he would have made a fine newspaper headline writer. He burnished the First Amendment for more than three decades. Nice work.

Respond to Lance

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Posted by Lance Dickie at 04:39 PM


November 10, 2004

Rossi the eager beaver

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi picked the right day to announce he was jumping the gun and publicly announcing his transition team. He selected a day when Washington counties he was winning were tallying ballots, which made the tacky press conference only slightly less tacky.

I can understand Rossi's frustration with the state's s-l-o-w ballot counting. And I agree if he waits too long to create a transition team, the transition will be more difficult. But the press conference part of it was presumptive and offensive.

His opponent, Christine Gregoire, may not win, but I admired her more dignified approach. She said she too was planning her transition, but was doing it in private, trying to respect the process of vote counting.

Respond to Joni

Read her latest column

Posted by Joni Balter at 03:38 PM


November 08, 2004

I-297 reply and response

A reader replies to my blog:

Bruce -- because they "deal" with nuclear waste, in that they sit on top of
the land underneath which the waste is put - does not mean that the
residents of the Tri-Cities clearly know better than we what should be done
with it. Should an employee of Boeing or a subcontractor dependent on their
business be one to impartially judge policies and regulations Boeing is
subject to? Should citizens in Forks or Aberdeen determine how we harvest
trees in our national forests?

Here is my reply:

I think the voters in the Tri-Cities know more about the risks of nuclear waste than the voters in King county, just as the voters in Forks or Aberdeen would know more about the risks of logging. A group of experts would know even more, and maybe this is a decision we ought to leave to them.

I live in Seattle, and am surrounded by people who base their politics on "the environment," and about 95% of these people don't know anything about physics, or nuclear risks, or industrial forestry, or anything technical at all. They are romantics. All they know is that nuclear waste is bad. That's all they needed to know to vote for I-297.

Respond to this posting

Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 04:55 PM


November 03, 2004

Intelligent voters nix I-297

Voters in only one county in Washington voted down Initiative 297, the environmentalist feel-good measure to protect the public from nuclear waste.

And guess what county that was? Benton County, the county where the waste is. Benton voted 59 percent No; neighboring Franklin (Pasco) was 49 percent No.

Statewide the vote was 69 percent Yes. The highest Yes votes were in San Juan County, 75 percent, and in Jefferson and King Counties, 73 percent. These are the three most liberal counties in Washington, and are a mountain range away from the waste at issue.

I know Seattle progressives who look down their noses at the un-hip Tri Citians. But those Tri Citians are the ones who deal with nuclear waste, and they thought the initiative was dumb. They're probably right.

Respond to Bruce

Read his latest column

Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 04:43 PM


America abroad

Fortunately for the last four years, many around the world made the important distinction between America's president and Americans, mainly because they understood that Bush didn't really win the 2000 election. They couldn't stand Bush, but tended not to blame Americans for his cowboy mentality and backward foreign policy.

I saw it in France. I saw it in Ireland. I saw it in Central America. I saw it in Mexico.

As of today, that distinction has dissolved.

Respond to Colleen

Posted by Colleen Pohlig at 12:42 PM


Paying attention

Ok, admit it. Some voters weren't sending a message Tuesday; they were voting party lines.

How else would you explain state Auditor Brian Sonntag's challenger walking away with more than half a million votes statewide?

Will Baker, the erstwhile Pierce County jail inmate, became a candidate when the state Republican Party exercised its option to file a candidate when no Republican challenged Sonntag. What party officials didn't do is check him out first. He's been a guest at the county jail about 19 times in the last dozen years for harrassing officials in Tacoma and disturbing the peace.

Nevertheless, Baker collected 33.6 percent of votes cast in the statewide race, even winning six of 39 counties.

In this race, clearly some voters weren't paying attention.

Respond to Kate

Read her latest column

Posted by Kate Riley at 11:59 AM


November 01, 2004

Voter suppression

Voters everywhere are weary of this election and its exceptional negativity at all levels. But adding insult to injury is the disturbing accounts around the nation of efforts to suppress votes, especially those of members of minority communities.

In one Georgia County, Republicans challenged voter registrations of dozens of voters with Hispanic surnames, apparently believing there was a chance some of them might not be legal citizens eligible to vote.

Several of the voters challenged took time off work or away from their families to go down to the courthouse to prove their eligibility. They shouldn't have had to, unless the challenges had proof they were not eligible.

New York Times Columnist Bob Herbert writes about the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House admitting to trying to suppress Democratic votes to throw Pennsylvania's electoral votes to Bush. "The Kerry campaign needs to come out with humongous numbers here in Philadelphia. It's important for me to keep that number down," John Perzel said.

Denying people their right to vote is a hell of a way to run an election.

Respond to Kate

Read her latest column

Posted by Kate Riley at 05:18 PM


Far Eastern Economic Review, RIP

The venerable Far Eastern Economic Review, a business-political magazine in East Asia, has been closed by its longtime owner, The Wall Street Journal.

From 1989 to 1993, I worked for its direct competitor, Asiaweek, which was owned by AOL/Time Warner. We fought over who would be the English-language weekly for the rising Asia: the Far Eastern Economic Review, which was more serious and businessy, and kind of drab; or Asiaweek, which was lighter, easier to read, much like Newsweek.

The apparent verdict of the market is in: Both publications are dead. AOL/Time-Warner closed Asiaweek a couple of years ago. And note: neither magazine was sold, which it would have been if it had been profitable. They were shut down.

I am not close to it any more, but the time I worked in Hong Kong, the business rationale for Asiaweek was that it was a vehicle to reach the English-speaking upper classes of East Asia (and South Asia, later on) with advertising by American, European and Japanese companies: Rolex, Silk Cut, Asea Brown Boveri, Citibank, Hongkong Bank, etc. Somehow that worked then, and doesn't now. I don't know why, but it is not a good sign.

Respond to Bruce

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at 12:37 PM




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