The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Head 'Em Off At The Dumbass

It seems astonishing to me that a bunch so "in tune" with the reptile brain could make such an idiotic blunder as Bush did this morning during his canned statement. (His bungling and blundering in the Q&A afterward were, of course, to be expected, and even entertaining).

Let's see what the Dumbass had to say to the reptile brain: If you don't give me the money for the troops I requested, THEY WILL SUFFER.

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.

Combine that with the "if you don't support the troops you are a traitor" message they've been drilling into your head for (literally) years now, and you've got a major reptile brain problem on your hands -- to mix metaphors.

Dumb. Really, really dumb.

But understandable from this crowd: Because they just don't get it.

Just like our own, local dumbasses just don't get it.

You see, last November, they tried to "tricksy" a tax onto the ballot. Oregon, you might be aware, is another one of those "Tax Rebellion" states in which any taxes are automatically seen as evil, but also a state in which, if the case is made reasonably, the voters will vote for a reasonable tax.

The problem goes back to the late 19th century, when it was noticed that all the forests were being logged off. Thus, the national forests were created, and Oregon is reasonably unique in that you will find "checkerboard" patterns in significant chunks, where national forest land was interspersed with private land, because the economy was dependent on logging.

As it remained (and remains) for a century and more.

In order to balance out the equation, the Federal government offered a timber offset fee, that would substitute for the lost property tax that the counties were out of because of the new national forests.

At the time, you will recall, kiddies, the property tax was the main tax in the land. The income tax, used in the North for a brief period during the Civil War was brought in again as a Populist reform measure in 1894, declared unconstitutional and then enshrined in same in 1913.

Which, incidentally, was what the County Commissioners proposed. You see the offset, the timber subsidy, went away this year, in its entirety. Or is ABOUT to go away. ("About" is very, very important here.)

And the county commissioners decided to be prudent and enact a minor add-on to the state income tax. But they couldn't trust the voters, you see.

They phrased the ballot measure along the lines of "That the county income tax should be capped at n percent." (Where n = the old 'n' that you used to not understand in algebra).

["Shall County Charter limit income taxes, dedicate revenues to public safety, and provide property tax relief and a reserve?"was the actual official language)

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.

Meanwhile, back in Lane County, the Three Commissioners drew into Siege Mentality, and after considering and rejecting (3-2) repealing the tax, voted to put it on the May ballot, after a quick petition drive got a repeal question for the November ballot (I believe) qualified in ONE DAY.

Gee, do you suppose that the people are MAD at them?

They don't get 'reptile brain,' either.

Because it's not about reason and rationality anymore. The response is just as real as it is visceral and all the argument in the world won't change that.

You ask me permission to do something. You cheat in the way you ask, and I angrily say "NO," and you go ahead and say, I'm going to do it anyway, well, you're either an idiot or a used car salesman.

But don't think that we aren't pissed off.

This county has a long history of putting aside elections. In the first territorial (and runoff) election, it was clearly decided to locate the capitol in Eugene, but, since the Federal Government had already appropriated funds for government buildings in Salem, the election was ignored.

By the time another election was held, the state capitol had been where it was for so long that moving it would have been a major inconvenience and the state dutifully rubber-stamped Salem as the capitol.

Over the past thirty years, here in town, a few elections have taken place, approving a West Side Bypass. And every time, the election is set aside.

The arguments sound remarkably like the arguments being made about the tax that's now on the MAY ballot.

I call it Oregon's own "YOU vote until WE win" tradition. Hell, we've voted down a sales tax NINE times. And it's lost by a wider margin EVERY TIME. (And they're talking about doing it again, naturally. Eventually, enough Californians will move here, and we'll have a sales tax.)

Here in Eugene, we voted on a library five or six times and the last time, it lost by 12 votes, and the City Council said "HEY! Look! We found URBAN RENEWAL money, and built the damned thing anyway, and THEN put a two year funding measure on the ballot, to OPERATE the damned thing, and it was, reluctantly, approved, as was the next one, two years later, as will we in a year or so, again. It is an ugly side to the Oregon "democratic" process that provokes a visceral reaction in voters.

And that's what the county commissioners don't get: as stubborn as they are, the voters are just as stubborn and just as pissy.

Today, a recall was launched against Bobby Greene, our Black commissioner. He's an interesting guy. Used to play football at the University of Oregon. Was appointed to the city council. Won election as an incumbent. Was appointed to the county commission. Ditto.

I only point it out, because, while the angry citizens leading the petition drive would like to recall all three, Bobby is the only one that they can legally go after -- the other two having been re-elected last fall, and not within the time limitation of the recall law. And Bobby is Black.

In lily-white Eugene.

So, now, on top of the fact that this whole freakout has turned into a political war, we're going to have to listen to endless discussions of the fact that Bobby Greene is Black. I don't know WHY it is so. I only know THAT it is so. Onward.

And the County Commissioners are CHIDING us for DARING to suggest that we don't HAVE to pass this tax. They are talking about old people not getting meals on wheels. They are threatening to close parks. They warn us of glaciers attacking helpless coeds.

And I think of what a dumbass George W. Bush is.

Evidently, it cuts across all party lines, since two of the three idiot commissioners are Democrats, albeit extremely conservative Democrats in "nonpartisan" elective office. The enlightened commissioners are both Democrats, as well.

So, this whole damned conflagration.

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.

Like Major General Joseph J. Reynolds at Chickamauga, they've spent all their time in the battle trying to surrender. So, yes, I think recalls might well be in order. But, as I said, Bobby Greene is Black, and, more importantly, he's a football star from the university, so it's a tough call.

In a crisis, you don't make important decisions until you have to; things just might change. Or, deal with the crap you have, and not the crap you imagine you're going to get. There'll be time enough for that when it arrives.

If the supplemental funding had been killed, there was still time to enact the emergency tax, and have convinced the voters that we should pull together and solve the REAL crisis. As it stands, the tax is DOA.

A fake crisis is sometimes more dangerous than a real one.

At least it was in this case.