A4 • The World • Tuesday, December 3,2013
Editorial Board Jeff Precourt, Publisher Larry Campbell, Executive Editor
Les Bowen, Digital Editor Ron Jackimowicz, News Editor
Holiday sales not so gloomy after all Our view Gloom and doom may be offset by a mini-boom in local retail sales this season.
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The national report for this first holiday shopping weekend presented a rather bleak picture. According to The Associated Press, record crowds hit the stores but spent less than last year. And this, despite Thanksgiving Day store openings and heavy advertising. A record 141 million shoppers were expected over the four-day period ending Sunday, up from last year’s 137 million. But spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion. Those national stories are always such a downer, though. And we suspect they don’t necessarily represent what goes on in the smaller
communities like ours. We don’t have the wherewithal to conduct in-depth economic analysis for the South Coast region. But we do know what we’ve heard anecdotally, and it’s not so down beat. Take Katrina Christensen of Katrina Kathleen’s home décor in downtown Coos Bay, for example. “This was a great weekend, really great,” Christensen said Monday afternoon. “People were out to shop and shop specifically small businesses. I think the support was great.” Christensen’s enthusiasm was echoed by Terry Pittenger, owner of
YourSpace interior design in North Bend. Pittenger didn’t see a lot of new customers to her shop over the weekend, but her current customers dropped by to show support and she feels that more locals are starting to shake off the economic depression that’s bedeviled so many of us recently. “I think we need to band together as small businesses to get the word out,” Pittenger said. “We just need to let people know what kinds of things are available right here in town.” Bandon Mercantile owner Beth Wood says she also did well over this first holiday shopping weekend. And she
saw new faces joining her regular clientele. “I think it’s just that the economy’s a little better; people are feeling a bit more confident,” Wood said. Now we don’t mean to imply that business was booming all over; far from it. Other businesses we talked to did mediocre; others said there were fewer customers than last year. To those business owners we say: Hang in there. Don’t get discouraged. And to you holiday shoppers we say: Get out of the vehicle and walk the sidewalks. You never know what you’ll find in a store window if you just slow down.
Must see TV, not exactly We were a Nielsen family last week. We received little diaries to fill out, marking when and what we watched on TV for a week. If we recorded a show and watched it later, we wrote that down, too. The first thought that runs through your head when you start filling out the diary is to give the shows you love a boost, even if you went to a movie that night or to a friend’s house. Should I write down what I would have watched? Then I realized, no, it’s my favorite show’s job to keep me from going to the movies when it’s on. Or at least get me to record it. So we were very scrupulous with our diaries. It turns out that other than the nightly news, we don’t really watch much TV at all. I imagine every family watches TV differently: Some people leave it on all day long; others just watch certain shows. We are the others. Sue watches a lot of football; me, I can barely sit through the Super Bowl. Sue watches college football on Saturday, the pros on Sunday and I watch stuff I’ve recorded on Sunday night. There was space at the back of the diary where we could write notes about our viewing habits or comments about television in general. They even said we could use extra sheets of JIM paper if we liked. So I told MULLEN them this: Most of what is on telHumorist evision is not just bad — it is toxic. Remember the Miley Cyrus blowup a few months ago on the MTV awards show? The one that did exactly what a publicity stunt is supposed to do — get her tons of free publicity? Ninety-nine percent of the country didn’t even see the show, but that didn’t stop the professional blatherers (all on TV, of course) from giving her all the free publicity one person could stand. There was not a word about the MTV show that aired right before the “awards” show. It’s called “16 and Pregnant,” a long-running series on MTV which, if you go by the lack of outrage, is just hunky-dory. Doesn’t anyone find it odd that if we ran a transcript of the dirty jokes and double entendres on last night’s prime-time sitcoms in the newspaper, people would cancel their subscriptions in droves? Why is it that TV can get away with things print can’t? (Not that we’d want to.) Because money. It is all about advertising money. But let me ask you, when was the last time you bought something because you saw it advertised on TV? Is that why you bought your car? Because you saw it doing figure eights is a desert? Is that why you bought the food in your fridge? Are you really going to decide what kind of beer to drink because one company’s ads have cute horses and another one’s ads don’t? Do you think there’s a man alive out there who hasn’t heard of Viagra or Cialis? Why are they still advertising? But if advertisers want to throw their money away, television is happy to let them. It turns out a lot of us barely watch television on TV. We watch Netflix movies on our computers; we watch three-minute clips of the late-night shows when our friends post the links on Facebook. When we do actually sit in front of the set, we do it alone, watching something we recorded a month ago. Sitting in the living room watching one show that’s “fun for the whole family” is an idea that went out with floppy discs and mix tapes. And why is it legal for cable and satellite TV to sell us “packages” that charge us for channels we don’t watch? Maybe cable TV companies haven’t noticed what the Internet did to the record, book and newspaper businesses the past few years. But they will. After it’s way too late to save themselves.
Letters to the Editor Dubious about Dunes land swap I remember, years ago, my sons invited me to a game of “cow pasture pool” at a fancy golf course in San Diego. I didn’t see much point in beating the hell out of that silly little white ball but I was with my boys and they let me drive the cart to keep me quiet, and the sun was out so OK. What I see in the Bandon Dunes land swap is an act of desperation to generate more taxes
in exchange for what includes vital grazing land and maybe a little fudging of the intent of urban growth boundaries. I’ve always admired Gov. McCall’s intent and foresight way back when, and S.B. 100, may be a compromise? Wouldn’t that be fun to play through a pasture full of fresh “land mines”? In the bigger picture, and looking ahead, I vote for the cows and farmers — Maybe the golfers could wear “rubber boots.” Ken Harlan Eastside
Clinton candidacy could have secrets Candidate Clinton may be asked some tough questions on the campaign trail should she run, such as: Who was Mr. Vince Foster? Was he in the real estate business with you and Bill? Was Mr. Fosters’ death a murder or suicide? Go down to the library, get the book “Vince Foster.” Read it! Gordon Self Talent
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Iran agreement a historic moment Six of the world’s major powers (the so-called P5 plus one) reached a historic phased agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear development to peaceful uses. It’s difficult to overstate this accomplishment, which bridges 33 years of broken diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iran. The change has come as the result of an intense, unrelenting campaign of tough sanctions, military warnings and secret negotiations by President Obama and U.S. allies. It is equal in importance to President Ronald Reagan’s historic breakthrough with the Soviet Union on nuclear weapons. “Trust, but verify,” Reagan repeatedly said. The structure of the agreement with Iran, with Secretary of State John Kerry taking a leading role in the negotiations, maintains that principle. This is a temporary, six-month agreement. There are steps of trust that Iran must take — steps that will be verified by the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency. In return, sanctions will be lessened, Iran will have access to about 7 percent of its frozen assets, and threequarters of its oil revenues during this period will go into restricted accounts. The agreement includes unprecedented oversight and transparency. If Iran violates the agreement, the sanctions remain — and increase. “We can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations,” President Obama said in his press conference announcing the agreement. Iranian Foreign Minister
Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “I hope we can start restoring the lost confidence.” No agreement between any nations with a history of DONNA suspicions and BRAZILE distrust is possible without a Columnist willingness to take small, verifiable steps. There is a chorus against even these steps, including the unfortunately not unexpected reaction of some Congressional Republicans. But we have a choice. We can listen to warmongers and secondguessers who want to humiliate Iran regardless of the consequences. Or we can focus on the goal, which often requires, as Reagan recognized, allowing the other side its dignity. J Street, the self-described “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” tweeted, “This is a good deal.” The U.S. State Department release said the agreement addresses “our most urgent concerns including Iran’s enrichment capabilities; its existing stockpiles of enriched uranium; the number and capabilities of its centrifuges; and its ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor.” “In return,” State says, “the P5 plus one will provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief to Iran...the overwhelming majority of the sanctions (remain) in place.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though, called
the agreement a “historic mistake,” and said Israel is not bound by the deal and reserves the right to defend itself. Reserving the right to defend one’s self does not make the agreement a mistake. Trust but verify, and perhaps cautious optimism, were expressed by Israeli President Shimon Peres: “I would like to say to the Iranian people: You are not our enemies and we are not yours. There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically.” Before Netanyahu’s response becomes a gossip fest, we should note that President Obama called him this late last month. The two “reaffirmed their shared goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Obama told Netanyahu that the U.S. and Israel should begin consultations immediately regarding efforts to negotiate a comprehensive solution. He said Israel has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions. And Secretary of State Kerry said that today that the military option is still “on the table” if Iran does not live up to its part of the deal. The agreement with Iran, negotiated not by the United States alone, but by six of the world’s major powers, is a confidence-building “trust,but verify” plan. For example, Mark Hibbs, a senior associate of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argued that Iran’s Arak reactor construction should be suspended. Indeed, the French stopped an agreement during previous meetings over the Arak reactor. This agreement stops its
construction. President Obama said in his announcement, “We have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back ...In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to. “If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six month phase, we will turn off the relief, and ratchet up the pressure.” We are not there yet. As Kerry said, Iran will have to prove itself with actions. Still, this is a first step, and it’s a win (a) for U.S. security — Iran’s nuclear program is frozen for six months; (b) for U.S.Intelligence — more real-time inspections than ever before; (c) for U.S. global leadership and credibility — President Obama brought all the world’s great powers on board and we are all now a little more secure. President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “Let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” Fifty years after his death, his words are still true. President Obama is making them real. Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News, and a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine.
The World, Dec. 3, 2013