Stories by John
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering how Don Benton plans to pay for and build a bistate third bridge without the other state's permission:
Don't blame Republicans for the statewide and even national embarrassment that David Madore has brought upon our beloved Clark County.
Today's accompanying mug shot illustrates the horrid consequences of repeatedly setting one's hair on fire. Like Obama, I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be and, alas, growing bangs is out of the question.
The meeting took place in a crowded saloon in 1913. But, ideologically speaking, many of the folks in the room were still stuck in the 1800s. This crowd was a throwback to the rowdy Rock Ridge residents in "Blazing Saddles." The 20th century hadn't even entered their minds.
Some columns write themselves. And so it was, near the end of an excruciating week for all Americans.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering how the gas-tax haters propose we pay for new roads and bridges:
Much like the indefatigable insect that crawls out as the lone survivor of some nuclear holocaust, the Third Bridge Cockroach refuses to die.
Snickering Democrats would be wise to contain their delight as Republicans continue nursing self-inflicted wounds. Politics is cyclical and -- just as I have learned to never mock another man's hilariously errant tee shot until after I hit my own down the fairway -- gloating can backfire if it's poorly timed.
Rick Scott, David Madore and Bill Turlay are learning there's a big difference between complaining and actually governing. Each man used a raucous condemnation of Big Government to win elections to their respective offices of Florida governor, Clark County commissioner and Vancouver city councilor. But after taking office, each has discovered that, while squawking might work in campaigns, it doesn't accomplish much when the real work begins.
Beware the fickle supermajority requirement. It can be your BFF one moment, then that second F — "forever" — vanishes, and suddenly a mere one-third of the voters can ruin your life.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering what we do if some folks in one state oppose a bistate bridge but more folks in the other state support the same bistate bridge:
Last Wednesday marked the 62nd anniversary of the ratification of the 22nd Amendment, which restricts the president to two terms. Nowhere else in our city, county or state government are voters forbidden to vote for an incumbent.
Now seems to be the proper time to inform readers that, after 45 years in journalism, I will retire at the end of July.
For years, most of us thought the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Pearson Air Museum were friends, partners in promoting two things everyone loves: history and aviation.
Our nation's Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they created the Electoral College. Their noble, intended purpose was to keep heavily populated states from running roughshod over small states while selecting what would become the world's most powerful leader.
Isolated cases of colossal cluelessness about women continue to weaken America's claim to being one of the world's most advanced societies.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while harboring no interest whatsoever in Lance Armstrong or Manti Te'o:
While city officials meet in Pawnee, Ind., to discuss cost-cutting measures, a gunshot rings out and everyone flinches — except one man. Reaching for his cellphone, Ron Swanson calmly tells his petrified cohorts, "So sorry. New ringtone." He stands and begins to leave the room to take the call, then turns and pleads, "Don't cut anything without me."
When you're talkin' about your kids' accomplishments, it ain't braggin'. It's timely reporting of critical news that everyone needs to hear.
Last month, I speculated about the demise of the Tea Party. Recent departures from elected office of pit bulls Jim DeMint, Allen West, Joe Walsh and others seemed to signal the movement's fade into irrelevance. Then came the fiscal-cliff bill, and now the Tea Party is livelier than ever. After reviewing my Dec. 9 column, a confession is in order:
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering how many people who despise publicly subsidized transit systems will change their minds when they get too old to drive:
Union issues are heating up across America — especially in Michigan but also here in Washington — and it doesn't take a labor-law expert to understand the basics of what's going on.
Correctly assuming in the spring of 2009 that the name "Yelling Party" might stifle recruiting, reformists opted for the more patriotic brand "Tea Party." They breached the fortress of civility around the time of the April 15 federal income tax deadline.
Four weeks ago I wrote about temporarily escaping pre-election tensions by taking a walk in Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver. Refreshing as that experience became, it was a walk in the park compared with my post-election sabbatical: three days in the San Juan Islands.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering if Karl Rove has called Ohio yet:
C'mon now, let's not be so critical of Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. At least the boys were half-right. They were right about 300-plus electoral votes.
Camaraderie seems to be in short supply these days as tensions tighten leading up to Tuesday's big election.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes about the Nov. 6 election, the one we thought would never arrive:
Only once in this column will you find the word "progressive." I make this promise out of concern for the safety of household pets. Every time I use that word in a column, half of the readers roll up their newspapers and start swatting violently at the nearest living thing. Fido flees panic-stricken and, sadly, the rest of the column goes unread.
Many moons have passed since my last scoop, but I suspect the following is an exclusive, brought to you by the investigative work of the fine folks at Trivia Only Laird Cares About, Inc.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while marveling at how many of the anti-union folks suddenly changed their tune when it came to NFL officials:
Don't get too excited about that headline. The Clark County I'm talking about was indeed named after a William, but this other William was a scandalous tycoon of the late 19th century, not our noble explorer of the early 19th century. And this other Clark County is almost 1,000 miles away, in a state that (unlike Washington) actually matters in the 2012 presidential election.
I've never been very good at mooching, except for those not-so-rare occasions when I intentionally leave my wallet in my golf bag before we head to the 19th hole for nachos and beer.
Perhaps next year in our state, a legally married gay couple will smoke marijuana without breaking the law, while a heterosexual couple will violate the law by smoking traditional cigarettes indoors in a public place.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering if same-sex marriage opponents believe allowing women to vote weakened the institution of voting, and if allowing blacks to serve alongside whites in the armed forces weakened the institution of the U.S. military.
Many men who are in their mid-60s will say Rowdy Yates helped them endure the traumatic entry into their teen years back around 1960 or so. And several years later, Blondie helped usher that same group of young men away from home and into the dark dangers of adult life. Count me in this group.
Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1995, might not be memorable to you, but for light rail critics, it was the day Excalibur was pulled from the stone. And they have brandished their sword for 171/2 years since that fateful day when Clark County voters rejected light rail.
With one glaring exception, 2012 is shaping up as a banner year for women, and we've still got four months to go.
Caution No. 1! Do not misinterpret what happened Tuesday as an election. It was a primary. Big difference.
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:
Anyone who believes Vancouver can insulate itself against the ultimate arrival of light rail would do well to review light rail systems in other cities where folks believe it's good to expand transportation alternatives.
Anyone who knows me very well knows I love to drive -- the farther, the better. And through the years, I've learned to treat bicyclists like truckers. I go out of my way to help both groups. A bicyclist is too slow and working too hard for me -- the monstrous motorist -- not to adopt a cooperative attitude. And a trucker's rig is too big and too unwieldy for me -- the skittering car-driver -- not to help clear a wide berth and flash my lights to encourage a lane change.
Whether you're conservative, liberal or independent, you should be glad to know the following: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has donated $1 million to support the charter schools initiative that is expected to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot. To that same cause, almost a half-million dollars was donated by the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings chipped in $100,000.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while harrumphing at the 180 performed by both Democrats and Republicans since the Bush administration over a president's use of executive privilege:
Now that political campaigns are intensifying for the Aug. 7 primary and the Nov. 6 election, radical rhetoric about the Columbia River Crossing is rising to flood levels. So it's time to review the Top Five Delusions about replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. First, though, let's start with three basic principles:
Next month, Clark County voters will receive ballots by mail, featuring varying combinations of 119 candidates, including 41 Republicans, 29 Democrats, several hybrid and offshoot affiliations and numerous candidates running in nonpartisan races. It's not too soon for voters to start doing their research.
Three long trips in five weeks implanted powerful reminders that Clark County is the best place in the world. I often wonder if the grumpiest people around here are the folks who don't travel much. When you hunker down in your comfort zone, you lose a point of reference. Slowly, the nest becomes not so comfortable, and complaints come too easily. Traveling allows comparisons.
Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering why many people who are screaming for a public vote on light rail are also screaming against a public vote on a tax levy to pay for parks:
Americans would be better served if Congress were run like a jazz big band. Popularity ratings of our national ruling body would soar from the current all-time low to the heights of approval enjoyed by countless jazz big bands that have decorated American music for nine decades.
Any way you slice it, $3.1 billion is a lot of money. That's the projected cost of the Columbia River Crossing, replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge and extending light rail two miles from the Expo Center in Portland to Clark College in Vancouver. Add the estimated annual upkeep of light rail in Vancouver (about $2 million or more), and the overall financial burden intensifies. It's easy to see why some people insist the CRC is just too expensive.