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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (April 14, 2017)
Friday, April 14, 2017
Founded October 16, 1875
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Regional Advertising Director
Business Office Manager
Tip of the hat;
kick in the pants
A tip of the hat to area emergency dispatchers, in this National Public
Safety Telecommunicators Week.
We spotlighted a few of those dispatchers
earlier this week in this newspaper. Their jobs
are difficult, and the lives of Umatilla County
residents often rely on their expertise and
professionalism. Handling the stressful work
of connecting people in need to proper services
isn’t a task everyone is up for.
These other-end-of-the-phone workers
deserve as much credit as those on the front
line, but the behind the scenes employees are
not as apt to receive it. So the national week,
celebrated in their honor, is a good time to
recognize their contributions and say thank you.
And of course, tip your hat.
A kick in the pants to another day and another bomb dropped on a
poor country far, far away.
This one was the Mother Of All Bombs (yes, that’s it’s nickname, derived
from Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB), which contained 11 tons
of explosives and has a blast range a mile
wide. It had never been used in combat
before it was dropped Thursday in the
middle of the Afghanistan desert to destroy
It seems strange that President Donald
Trump, who ran on a slogan of “America
First,” would drop a bomb that cost $314
million in such a forsaken corner of the
world — and that on the heels of 59
Tomahawk missiles fired into Syria at a cost
of about $60 million.
The recent spate of bombings are an uncomfortable reminder that this
country has been at war in Afghanistan for more than 15 years at a cost to
American taxpayers of more than $3.6 trillion. More than 2,300 American
soldiers have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded in that time. To
what end, we still do not know.
But for a president who routinely criticized the foreign policy mistakes
of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Trump has
disappointed in continuing to send money and mayhem abroad.
This age of wonkery
f you were a certain sort of ideas-
de Beauvoir or even Ralph Waldo
oriented young person coming
Emerson were writing, they were
of age in the 20th century, it was
hoping to radically change society,
very likely you would give yourself
but nobody would confuse them with
a label and join some movement.
You would call yourself a Marxist,
Second, there was a greater sense
a neoconservative, a Freudian, an
then than now, I think, that the very
existentialist or a New Deal liberal.
nature of society was up for grabs. Call
There would be certain sacred
it a vestige from Marxism or maybe
writers who would explain the world to
Brooks Christianity, but there was a sense that
you — from Jung to Camus, Dewey or
the current fallen order was fragile and
Chesterton. There would probably be a
that a more just mode of living was out
small magazine where the doctrines of
there to be imagined.
your sect would be hammered out.
Finally, intellectual life was just seen
People today seem less likely to give
as more central to progress. Intellectuals
themselves intellectual labels or join self-
establish the criteria by which things are
conscious philosophical movements. Young
measured and goals are set. Intellectuals create
people today seem more likely to have their
the frameworks within which politicians
worldviews shaped by trips they have taken,
operate. How can you have a plan unless you
or causes they have been
are given a theory? Intellectuals
involved in, or the racial or
create the age.
ethnic or gender identity
Doing that sort of work
group they identify with.
meant leading the sort of
That has changed the
exceptional life that allowed you
nature of the American
to emerge from the cave — to
intellectual scene, the way
see truth squarely and to be fully
people approach the world
committed to the cause. Creating
and the lives they live.
a just society was the same thing
In his book, “The Ideas Industry,” Daniel
as transforming yourself into a moral person.
W. Drezner says we have shifted from a
For Orwell, this meant being with the poor
landscape dominated by public intellectuals
and the oppressed — living as a homeless
to a world dominated by thought leaders.
tramp in England, a dishwasher in Paris,
A public intellectual is someone like Isaiah
getting shot through the neck as a soldier
Berlin, who is trained to comment on a wide
in the Spanish Civil War. It meant teaching
array of public concerns from a specific moral himself how to turn political writing into an
stance. A thought leader champions one big
idea to improve the world — think Al Gore’s
For Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci,
work on global warming.
it meant committing fully to ideas, even
As Drezner puts it, intellectuals are critical, if it meant years in prison, and doing the
skeptical and tend to be pessimistic. Thought
rigorous mental work required for a life of
leaders are evangelists for their idea and tend
hard thinking. He was as left as can be, but
to be optimistic. The world of Davos-like
he believed in traditional school curricula, the
conferences, TED talks and PopTech rewards
tough grinding of learning Latin and Greek
thought leaders, not intellectuals, Drezner
“It will be necessary to resist the tendency
Intellectual life has fallen out of favor for
to render easy that which cannot become easy
several reasons, he continues. In a low-trust
without being distorted,” he wrote.
era, people no longer have as much faith in
It also meant joining a tradition and a team.
grand intellectuals to serve as cultural arbiters. There were a whole set of moral tests involved
In a polarized era, ideologically minded
with obedience to the movement, breaking
funders like George Soros or the Koch bothers ranks when necessary, facing unpleasant
will only pay for certain styles of thought
truths, pioneering a collective way of living,
work. In an unequal era, rich people like to
whether feminist, Marxist or libertarian.
go to Big Idea conferences, and when they
The 20th century held up intellectuals
do they want to hear ideas that are going
like that, and then discredited them — too
to have some immediate impact — Jeffrey
many were too wrong about communism and
Sachs’ latest plan to end world poverty or Amy fascism. But we have probably over-adjusted
Cuddy’s findings on how to adopt the right
and deprived a generation of a vision of the
heroic intellectual. It is good to have people
Drezner does not call this a decline, just
who think about North Korean disarmament.
a shift (let us not underestimate how silly
But politics is most real at a more essential
and wrong some of the grand, sweeping
intellectuals could be). But I am struck by how
people’s relationship to ideas has changed.
David Brooks became a New York Times
In the first place, public thinkers now
Op-Ed columnist in September 2003. He
conceive of themselves as legislative advisers. has been a senior editor at The Weekly
Drezner writes a book called “The Ideas
Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek
Industry,” but he is really writing about
and the Atlantic Monthly, and is currently a
public policy. When George Orwell, Simone
commentator on PBS.
life has fallen
out of favor.
A tip of the hat to Rep. Greg Walden, a guy who hasn’t been getting
much of that treatment lately.
Walden, a Republican representative from Oregon’s largest and most
conservative district, has been taking the brunt
of his constituents’ anger at town hall meetings
this week in The Dalles, Hood River and Bend.
We saw a little of that discontent when he
toured Eastern Oregon last month, but that was
before key events like the total collapse of the
Republicans’ health care bill (which Walden
helped form) and the release of President
Trump’s budget blueprint. Armed with these, his
constituents have detailed attacks to launch at
Walden when he takes the stage.
Our tip to him is not for his role in crafting
the DOA health care bill, but for being willing to stand in front of what quite
closely resembles an angry mob and tell them not what they want to hear,
but what he hopes to accomplish. That’s the hard part of politics, and is too
easily avoided by many politicians.
Whether you agree with Walden or not on any topic, you have to respect
his willingness to face the music. Even if he has been dancing to some pretty
questionable tunes recently.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board of publisher
Kathryn Brown, managing editor Daniel Wattenburger, and opinion page editor Tim Trainor.
Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not
necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public
issues and public policies for publication in the newspaper and on our web-
site. Send letters to 211 S.E. Byers Ave. Pendleton, OR 97801 or email editor@
Would you like to buy
Pendleton a bridge?
Remember that great deal the
city of Pendleton made on the road
to nowhere? Well, now we get a
bridge. Not the Brooklyn Bridge,
but the Eighth Street Bridge, and
its coming to a Main Street near
you. This is a Downtown Business
Association project paid for by,
yeah, you guessed it, you lucky
taxpayers courtesy of your county
commissioners, those guys who
promised to quit frittering away
money because they don’t have
the projected revenue to balance
the next budget; and the Pendleton
development commission. You
know those guys better as your
friends, the city council.
They did manage to get a
substantial donation to help, but
not enough to complete the project.
So, that money you planned to
spend at JC Penney? Send it to the
city because they really need the
The big question is, whose
names are going to be on the
Poor old Bob Patterson has a
plethora of street projects stymied
by the harsh winter weather. His
failure to follow proper disposition
procedures for that historic Eighth
Street Bridge has stopped the
replacement project for a year.
Remember the old saying, “time is
money?” Want to bet the price of
the bridge project just went up?
Remember before that utility
tax, we had less $400,000 a year
left of our share of state and federal
gas tax money to spend on street
maintenance and repair? There
was simply no additional money
available. Well, guess what! The
city has decided to buy a $395,000
building up at the airport. A
building they previously owned.
It’s amazing how easily they find
money when it fits their agenda.
Meanwhile, the old police station
sits empty. Looks like we’re
going to get another building to
maintain. So much for our number
one priority of infrastructure
maintenance and repair. Guess I’m
still missing the “big picture.”
Fire station important
The proposed new fire station is
one important piece in upgrading
Pendleton’s infrastructure. As
others have noted, the existing
station is more than half a century
old, and does not meet basic
industry standards. In addition, the
new facility will reduce operating
costs and improve services.
My hope is that the citizens
of Pendleton will step forward
and make this happen in the
same way that we have supported
improvements to our local schools.
For these reasons, I will be voting
for Measure 30-124 to provide
funding to move forward with this
Trump will cause a
rural labor shortage
The U.S. House did not provide
a lot of surprises this month — 40
bills got through, three to the
president for signature, three were
quickly signed into law and the
balance are in the Senate waiting for
More notable are the actions that
failed. This delusional, minority
president is an embarrassment to his
Twice his Muslim ban failed
because our Constitution still
provides “freedom of religion.” As
a nation that welcomes diversity,
religious prejudice is unacceptable.
Although our Rep. Walden
championed Trump’s tax avoidance
scheme referred to as “Trumpcare”
and would repeal ACA, it found
no support in the legislature and
was canceled. Rep. Walden has a
large constituency of ACA voters
and would have lost health care
Trump’s “white supremacy”
attitude and policy of deporting
Latinos has resulted in a severe labor
shortage in the construction industry
with supply not meeting demand
and new housing prices being
consequentially increased. Latinos
who have been U.S. residents for
decades are fearful of leaving their
homes, they have been targeted,
deported and families separated.
Labor shortage in agriculture and
the food supply will be next.
While Trump’s executive orders
and tweets have inspired fear and
confusion, his shell is beginning
to show signs of cracking. This
delusional, minority president is
still entangled in claims of Russian
Contact your representative and
let him know you are a concerned
As a retired Hermiston School
District/Rocky Heights teacher,
I am writing in support of the
upcoming school district bond.
As we all know, our community
has grown incredibly in the past
decade and our schools are not able
to accommodate all of our children.
We now have 34 portable modulars
and at the rate estimated, we will
have to add another 46 during
the next six years. Our district is
working hard to keep classroom
numbers down but our lack of
facilities makes this goal difficult.
Having children housed in
portable modulars separate from
the school building impacts actual
classroom time spent on task and
also child safety as students walk
back and forth to the main building
several times a day. Additionally,
my own grandson’s elementary
lunch program must begin serving
K-5 lunches by 10:30 a.m. and
serve well past noon in order to
provide all students an opportunity
to eat in his overcrowded school.
Please join me in support of the
HSD bond measure.
Hermiston can’t rely
on modular classrooms