John Laird: Dizzying definitions, Scout secrets and online adventures

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering why some folks give a president — any president — all of the blame when gas prices go up but none of the credit when gas prices go down:

Two types of builders — Whether you're a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, here's everything you need to know about politics and construction: If they're building stuff you like, they're entrepreneurs and job creators. If they're building stuff you don't like, they're crony capitalists and downtown mafia.

"The economy, stupid"— James Carville immortalized that phrase and helped Bill Clinton win the 1992 presidential election and an eight-year occupancy of the White House. That slogan remains just as popular and powerful a decade later; both Republicans and Democrats use it to strengthen their cases.

Granted, unemployment remains way too high, but here's an economic reality that helps people of all political beliefs as they ponder retirement plans: Since the Jan. 20, 2009 inauguration (Launch Day for the "I want my country back!" gang), the Dow is up about 65 percent, the NASDAQ has more than doubled and the S&P 500 has climbed about 73 percent.

Earning the Prejudice merit badge — Yes, Boy Scouts of America has the right to exclude openly gay men and boys from their ranks. As USA Today pointed out recently, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 affirmed that right. But, as a former (half-century ago) assistant patrol leader with a Star rank and seven merit badges, I hereby denounce the policy as exclusionary. By refusing to show a level of tolerance that even the U.S. military has adopted, BSA faces consequences that could include declining membership.

Pretending there are no gays among 2.7 million Scouts and 1.1 million adult leaders is just absurd. Those gays are essentially required by BSA to lie about themselves. This covert requirement sent me scurrying to review the Boy Scout Law (Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent) where I found no mention of Truthful. Maybe that's why BSA has no problem requiring gays to lie about their sexuality.

In another recent story, BSA in Oregon is requesting extensive redactions in 20 years of what are known as "perversion files." The Oregon Supreme Court says the information must be made public. Looks like someone is working on their Camouflage merit badge.

Don't be afraid — As Tuesday's primary nears, now is a good time to remind senior citizens not to feel intimidated by the Internet. I still hear from people who don't have computers and are afraid to venture into the cyberworld. And yet, that's the best place to access quick information about candidates and ballot measures.

Many older people see their grandchildren embracing technology in ways that seem daunting to the uninitiated. Last week I talked to a woman who said she was 85 and afraid of computers. I said: "First of all, you sound 65. I'm 64, and if I can go online, so can you. My dad went online when he was 87 and he loved it. A whole new world opened up for him."

I continued: "So here's our deal. Go take a computer class and get started. If in six months you don't call me back and say, 'John, you were right. I love being online and using email,' then I'll admit I was wrong and buy you a good hard-cover book of your choice."

She said she'll think about it, and sounded a lot more encouraged than when she first called.

Remember, regardless of your age, the Internet is your friend, waiting to help. Reach out.

Pot, meet kettle — Much of President Obama's college records remain secret, and Republicans are furious but Democrats say forget the past, focus on the future. Much of Mitt Romney's tax returns remains secret, and Democrats are furious but Republicans say forget the past, focus on the future. Meanwhile, members of both political parties wonder why so many Americans remain independent.