Sunday, February 4, 2007

I know I made a resolution, but there are limits

I promised, after a week of a forced Indy Star-News diet in December, that I'd be nicer to the Oregonian this year. But Thursday's edition sorely tested me.

Thursday's editorial on predatory towing managed somehow to find the "some bad apples in every barrel" argument:
Tow-truck drivers in Oregon have their own horror stories to tell, usually involving rude people who come unglued after they're fairly towed. But too many reasonable people, in too many parts of Oregon, have come forward with tales of mistreatment by unscrupulous towing companies.

It only takes one bad towing company -- or even one vigilante tow-truck driver, working with one overzealous business owner or landlord -- to do tremendous damage.

"One vigilante tow-truck driver?" Okay, perhaps they aren't attuned to everything going on at Sean Cruz's blog, but surely they read their own columnists . . . ? Scooping up every questionably parked car, then putting the burden on the car owner to deal with the missing vehicle and the exorbitant and apparently non-negotiable recovery fees isn't an aberration for some of these companies; it's a fundamental part of the business plan. (One wonders if the editorial board has reserved parking.)

Then there was the editorial--with photo--in praise of Sen. Gordon Smith suddenly rediscovering the virtues of the filibuster to hold up a spending bill that shortchanges the timber revenue compensation arrangement that many Oregon counties depend upon.
Appreciating the moral justification for this week's threatened filibuster by Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., requires knowing a little American history.[…]

[T]he timber harvests dried up, and now Congress is reneging. That explains Smith's desperate declaration Tuesday that he is ready to filibuster a must-pass spending bill if Congress doesn't honor its obligation to Oregon's rural counties.[…]

It is money the American people owe rural Oregon counties in lieu of taxes on vast tracts of federal land encompassing more than half of the state.

Congress needs to get this message. If that takes a filibuster by a frustrated Oregon senator, it's worth a shot.
So, for the Big O, it's not really a matter of Smith momentarily doing his job--doing right by the constituents who elected him (lucky for them it's timber money on the line this time and not, say, death with dignity). Somehow, it's all about discovering Smith as a Capraesque figure.

But the final straw--the moment when I realized things had sunk about as low as they were going to go that day--was when I realized that the only one on the left-hand editorial page that day who was making any sense was none other than David Reinhard, who wrote--absolutely correctly:
It's hard to say what's worse -- that members of Congress are laboring on a passel of nonbinding resolutions opposing President Bush's "surge" strategy or that some think they're being constructive and even courageous.[…]

But nonbinding resolutions on Bush's new strategy will do nothing tangible. They won't keep a single soldier from participating in what the right honorables who vote for these trifles think is a mistaken strategy. They won't cut off additional troops for the surge. They won't cap the number of the troops there. In sum, they won't do Jack Murtha.

Now, of course, to get to that point of theoretical agreement, I had to skip over this rip-and-read paragraph straight from Karl Rove's fax machine:
Oh, the resolutions opposing Bush's new plan will do something, all right. As Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, now the U.S. commander in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, they'll demoralize our troops and embolden our enemies by exposing divisions in the American public. That's damage enough. It also should be reason enough to skip the nonbinding resolutions and get back to declaring National Alfalfa Awareness Month.

I think DR's lost touch with what actually demoralizes our troops and emboldens our enemies, but on this one point he's right, even if it's in defense of the wrong conclusion: A binding resolution that fails will still do more good than a non-binding resolution that passes--and is immediately ignored by the rogue White House.

No comments: