Not on the Menu: Humble Pie

NOTE: At first blush, this might not seem a “national” story, but, really, it is the final chapter in a chronicle about how false crises can exhaust a political community for no reason.

Remember “Bird flu”? How much ink was spilt on that phony story? (Nothing has yet happened to justify the international — and dare I say, DIVERSIONARY — story flogged so prominently last year.) This local “controversy” evaporated with a flourish of Bush’s crayon this morning, all but unnoticed amidst all the Democratic sackcloth and ashes. (Another false crisis?)

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Nyah, nyah.

Not to you, gentle reader: I direct my comments to three of our county commissioners, who sparked a massive controversy here in Lane County, Oregon based on a crisis that turned out to be illusory.

It’s kind of like little Timmy was involved in a car accident, and he was taken to the hospital. And Timmy’s mommy, ever the hysterical exponent of smotherly love, and without full information from the hospital has gone ahead and contacted the newspaper for the obituary, and gone to the mortuary, picked out the casket and started calling the relatives.

Only, it turns out that Timmy was OK.

What?

Well, it’s OK. Our in loco parentis local “progressive” talk show host, Brian Shaw, flogged the phony crisis for months, screaming that the sky was falling. And the nattering nabobs of Nervous Nellidom nitpicked and nuanced negativity. Non-stop.

No crow, oddly, was evident on the menu this morning, however.

(Funny how authoritatians always conveniently forget the bad predictions and the dumb positions, ain’t it? ESPECIALLY when they’ve been flogging you with their “superior wisdom” for months on an issue).

Here is what I wrote in early April:

Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Head ‘Em Off At The Dumbass

The capping of a tax that didn’t exist would have created the tax, and while Lane County voters may not all be whizzes at algebra, they saw through that one in a heartbeat. The tax was voted down.

So, claiming that NOW there was a huge crisis, and the wolf was at the door, three of the five county commissioners voted to enact an income tax just a couple months later.

“This isn’t the SAME tax,” they said with tremendous credibility.

The howl that was raised spread across the land, making it all the way to Paul Jacob’s house in the new, fashionable suburbs of Washington, D.C. and he did a “Common Sense” radio spot yowl about it.

And then, the Oregon congressional delegation stepped in. Are you kidding? quoth they. We shall get another year for the timber offset.

And when has Congress ever turned down such a thing? We Americans may often be stupid and even brutal, but, generally, we cannot perceive of ourselves as not nice, and thus, the rider was easily tacked onto both the House and Senate versions of the supplemental war funding bill (e.g. emergency cash for the war, because we didn’t bother funding it in the lame duck session of the GOP congress).

That was the bill Bush was threatening to veto this morning…

[Paraphrasing Bush]: You gave it to me, but with extra stuff. So, I will veto it.

If you don’t give me what I want, the troops will suffer.

The reptile brain isn’t big on nuance. What it heard was: GIVE ME WHAT I WANT OR I WILL MAKE THE TROOPS SUFFER.

[…]

And I remember that Ulysses S. Grant (I believe) said that the most important thing he learned was not to make important decisions until he HAD to.

So, even though Bush may veto the current war bill and harm the troops until he gets a “clean” bill, I have a feeling that the supplemental timber money will make it through congress.

And, IF that happens, then this whole insane food fight never need have happened. In trying to be “prudent,” these Nervous Nellies jumped the gun, crossed the Rubicon, and NEVER HAD TO.

They could not distinguish between a real crisis and a possible (e.g. fantasy) crisis.

And here is what I wrote LAST WEEK:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
What Are They Smoking in Eugene?

… But the commissioners now predict doom and gloom, and the “NO” people now say that cuts can be made, and both are probably less than correct. The Rural Schools timber offset money is still floating around the 110th Congress, and the election may well have proven utterly pointless if congress comes to the rescue (as well it may) considering that the tax even had an automatic nullification clause, should congress pass the supplimental. In which case, one wonders: WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS MADNESS? (It’s like a bad Cheech & Chong movie, if that’s not redundant.)

And here is what the AP writes today:

House approves one-year extension of timber payments
May 24, 2007 10:39 PM
By MATTHEW DALY, AP

WASHINGTON (Map, News) – Congress approved $425 million in emergency spending for a one-year extension of payments to rural counties hurt by cutbacks in federal logging.

The plan, approved 348-73 by the House and 80-14 by the Senate on Thursday, would provide payments through September to more than 700 timber counties in 39 states, mostly in the West and South.

The bill, part of a measure to pay for the war in Iraq, also includes $465 million to fight wildfires and $60 million for West Coast salmon fishermen.

But it does not include a Senate-approved plan to spend nearly $5 billion to continue the payments law through 2011 and reimburse state and local governments for federally owned property. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was the only Northwest senator to oppose the bill. He was the chief sponsor of the five-year provision, and has vowed to try to revive it later this year….

Still, most Western lawmakers said they were pleased to salvage at least a one-year extension, noting that some schools and counties in the rural West and South have begun layoffs in anticipation of a funding cutoff.

“I wish we could have prevailed on the five-year extension, but we need a tourniquet to stop the bleeding while we continue to push for longer-term funding,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who led House efforts to secure the timber money.

“This emergency funding will help stave-off some of the layoffs and cuts in critical services like law enforcement and health care, and prevent the state (of Oregon) from having to take over those essential services while we work on a longer-term solution.”

Score one for Hart, none for the Nervous Nellies. And, of all the mots, bon and otherwise, the only truly appropriate one would seem to be:

Nyah, nyah-nuh nyah, nyah.

Courage.

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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