Food fights, hounds, science and more

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering how you can demand to vote on your money going to bridges and trains but I don’t get to vote on my money going to farm subsidies:

Happy here, nestled between the best — Many local residents spend considerable time in both Seattle and Portland to visit family or enjoy recreation, the fine arts or superb food. We’re lucky to live between the best two big cities in America. If you agree, grab the July Sunset magazine (Living in the West) and read “Portland vs. Seattle — Which has better restaurants?” I won’t give away the winner of this “Northwest Food Fight,” but you’ll love the creative comparison of the two cities. Here’s the link: http://www.sunset.com/travel/wests-best-food-towns-00418000072649/

All bark, no bite — Gosh, with all that yelping from anti-light-rail hounds who claim to represent “the people,” it seemed like getting enough petition signatures for a ballot measure would be easy. Alas, the stampede is more like a crawl, and top dog Larry Patella confesses, “I think it’s a lost cause right now,” for the second year in a row.

Science? We don’t need no stinkin’ science! — Reminiscent of the 1633 denunciation of Galileo for believing the Earth revolves around the sun, Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke insists “the jury is still out” on secondhand tobacco smoke. Dr. Alan Melnick, the county’s public health officer, replies: “Actually, the jury is not out on that. There’s an extensive body of research, conclusive that secondhand smoke does cause cancer in people exposed to it.” Pardon me, but I think I’ll listen to the good doctor on this one.

New chapter in the Hypocrisy Handbook — Many people who demand drug tests for welfare recipients see no need to drug test oil company executives who also receive tax dollars in the form of subsidies. Think about that argument for a moment: Drug test poor recipients of tax dollars but not rich recipients of tax dollars. I suppose the justification for this warped logic is the belief that rich people are inherently superior to poor people, another manifestation of the sheer meanness that’s becoming more pervasive today.

Why you really should help pay for my stuff — Expressing a belief no doubt shared by many people, an online commenter recently complained: “I am a golfer. Why should I pay a tax to support a baseball team that is a farm club for the Diamondbacks?” For the same reason nongolfers’ taxes help support the public golf courses that you and I enjoy. Just because we don’t participate in a quality-of-life asset doesn’t excuse us from helping pay for it. Should only library patrons pay for libraries? Of course not.

Think long-term — The BANANA Bunch (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) is hyperventilating over the Columbia River Crossing’s report that garages for light rail passengers will cost up to $176 million. This shows how some folks are unwilling to think beyond 2011. When projected over the 75- to 100-year life of the structures, investing up to $176 million in three parking garages with 2,890 parking spaces seems reasonable. So does $3.6 billion for seven freeway interchanges, light rail and a bridge over the biggest river in the West. Transportation projects typically address the long term. Like I often say, if you wonder about the validity of the Columbia River Crossing, ask your grandchildren’s grandchildren.

They make it sound like bagging carpet is something bad — Whether it’s Hillary Clinton moving to New York or Dennis Kucinich scoping out Seattle, migrating politicians are often condemned as carpetbaggers. But what’s wrong with moving to another constituency, if the ultimate judgment is to be made by the voters? If people want to elect a newcomer, how is that automatically bad?

Pot, meet kettle — When President George W. Bush went to war, many Democrats howled about abuse of the War Powers Act, but Republicans said every president does it, so deal with it. When President Barack Obama went to war, many Republicans howled about abuse of the War Powers Act, but Democrats said every president does it, so deal with it. Meanwhile, members of both parties wonder why so many Americans remain independent.

John Laird is The Columbian’s editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at john.laird@columbian.com.