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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 11, 2018)
Thursday, January 11, 2018
KATHRYN B. BROWN
Opinion Page Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
Offshore drilling here?
In view of all the other environmental
rollbacks of the past year, it is
unsurprising and yet still somehow
shocking that the Trump Administration
would move toward opening the West
Coast to petroleum exploration.
Perhaps best viewed as a middle-finger
salute by the president to the three
mainland Pacific states that voted for his
opponent, the immediate consequences
of the oil-leasing plan are likely to be few
— at least off Washington and Oregon.
Not only will the administration’s
action be tied up in political wrangling
and lawsuits for years, there is substantial
room to doubt whether there actually is
an economic quantity of fossil fuel to be
Past onshore drilling on the Pacific
Northwest coast hasn’t proven successful
and there is reason to suspect that eons
of subduction zone earthquakes have
rendered our geology unconducive to the
formation of hydrocarbon deposits.
No matter what the prospects for
future exploration and exploitation of
oil may be in our waters, the governors
of Washington, Oregon and California
are absolutely right to mount a unified
front of opposition to the very notion
of drilling. They deserve our ongoing
encouragement and support in blocking
this blockheaded proposal.
Time after time we have seen
horrific environmental costs from oil
development and transportation. From
the Exxon Valdez disaster to the BP
blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the giant
corporations that run this industry and
the undermanned agencies that police
it have shown themselves incapable of
guaranteeing there will not be horrific,
negligent incidents for which they are
loath to take responsibility.
Any such “accident” off of the
Oregon Coast would have the distinct
potential of killing several crucial
industries — tourism, oystering,
crabbing and fishing.
As the governors asserted last week
in a joint statement, the administration
has “chosen to forget the utter
devastation of past offshore oil spills to
wildlife and to the fishing, recreation
and tourism industries in our states.
They’ve chosen to ignore the science
that tells us our climate is changing
and we must reduce our dependence on
The oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed in Elliott Bay in Seattle in 2015.
fossil fuels. But we won’t forget history
or ignore science ... For more than 30
years, our shared coastline has been
protected from further federal drilling
and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop
this reckless, short-sighted action.”
Even the somewhat more modest
exploratory activities associated with
identifying oil deposits in the first place
have the potential of harming rockfish
habitat, interfering with whale migrations
and feeding, and increasing vessel traffic
and noise in areas essential to endangered
species from salmon to orcas.
Those who oppose offshore oil and
gas exploration in Pacific Northwest
and Alaskan waters have been painted
as obstructionist worrywarts, more
concerned with sea otters and kelp than
In fact, few Americans of any political
persuasion dispute that, for now, we
continue to need fossil fuels to power our
vehicles and help warm our homes. But
there currently is no shortage of oil that
could possibly justify placing the West
Coast at risk. Gasoline prices remain
stable. Adjusted for inflation, they are
about what they were 90 years ago —
and down from a decade ago.
Opening the West Coast to drilling is
about greed and politics, not about need
for energy. It should be stopped dead in
The decline of anti-Trumpism
Attorney General Sessions
sullies his Southern heritage
I do declare, Attorney General Jefferson
Beauregard Sessions III has brought
considerable shame upon the honor of his
southern heritage. Why, if he stands by and
allows the federal government to infringe on
the rights of states to make a little ol’ weed
a legal and taxable commodity then he may
as well take up with the damn Yankees!
His dignity, I say, his very dignity is called
into question by directing the U.S. Justice
Department to flout the sovereign wishes
of 29 members of this so-called Union and
attempt to prosecute those in the humble
business of cannabis harvestin’.
Why, I’d venture to guess that if President
Jefferson Davis — a simple cotton farmer
and the man Mr. Sessions, his daddy before
him and his granddaddy before him were
named after — was to hear that his namesake
was defendin’ the federal government’s
prohibition of a lucrative cash crop, why,
he’d a be rollin’ in his ol’ Virginia grave!
Does the Attorney General not remember that
his kinfolk fought and died defendin’ states’
rights under the proud banner of Dixie? Or
does he think that the Civil War was fought
over somethin’ silly like slavery? Frankly, I
do suppose that if you were to ask him, he’d
say somethin’ like: “I do not recall ...”
Peter Walters, Pendleton
Vote no on Measure 101
My comments are made based on
reviewing the Oregon Voters Pamphlet and
“yes” vote advertisements and comments
from folks I trust.
First of all, this Measure 101 is not just a
simple “temporary” assessment (sales tax).
If we vote against it, do you honestly think
that this legislature will not pass another
law with different language to reinstate
the tax? Since when have you seen this
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the
East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and
not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
legislature respect the will of the voter?
Remember? The Federal Income Tax
was put in as a “temporary” tax.
Second, this is a tax on existing health
insurance premium payers, and some
Third, this is a Medicaid tax, and
insurance premium “stabilizer” (they don’t
explain what that is.) Medicaid is for the
officially financially poor. Most of us are
glad that Medicaid is there. We are not
appreciating the lack of accountability and
competence of the Oregon Health Authority
in general (note the Secretary of State’s
recent audit) and, specifically, in handling
the Medicaid program. This tax will be an
act of throwing good money after bad.
Fourth, in the Voters Pamphlet, under
“Estimate of Financial Impact,” it says: “there
may be an indeterminate effect on local
government expenditures related to increases
in associated insurances assessments. There
is likely to be an indirect and indeterminate
effect on the state economy and local
government revenues and expenditures.”
Fifth, comments on the “no” vote
arguments listed below: Don’t count on
this medical “sales tax” only going to fund
medical budget line items. Don’t count
on this medical “sales tax” only going
to fund medical budget line items for
“in-state” legal residents only. Don’t count
on this medical “sales tax” only going
to fund medical budget line items to not
increase your school district tax portion of
your property tax (or, reduce educational
services.) By reason of the “trickle down”
or “pass through” or “domino effect,” it is
easy to see how school costs will rise and
how commercial business costs will rise.
Who will pay? Answer: The property
tax payer, the purchaser at the store, and
the individual insurance premium payer. In
most cases, that is you.
No new taxes.
Larry Nye, Athena
et me start with three
Trump don’t know anybody who
works with him or supports him.
based on dozens of
And if they do have friends and
conversations around Washington
family members who admire Trump,
over the past year:
they’ve learned not to talk about this
First, people who go into the
subject. So they get most of their
White House to have a meeting with
information about Trumpism from
President Donald Trump usually
others who also detest Trumpism,
leave pleasantly surprised. They
which is always a recipe for
find that Trump is not the raving
Brooks epistemic closure.
madman they expected from his
The movement also suffers from
lowbrowism. Fox News pioneered
tweetstorms or the media coverage.
modern lowbrowism. The modern
They generally say that he is
affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good lowbrow (think Sean Hannity or Dinesh
D’Souza) ignores normal journalistic or
meeting and seems well-informed enough
intellectual standards. He creates a style
to get by.
of communication that doesn’t make you
Second, people who work in the Trump
think more; it makes you think and notice
administration have wildly divergent
less. He offers a steady diet of affirmation,
views about their boss. Some think he is a
focuses on simple topics that require
deranged child, as Michael Wolff reported.
little background information, and gets
But some think he is merely a distraction
they can work around. Some think he is
viewers addicted to daily doses of righteous
strange, but not impossible. Some genuinely contempt and delicious vindication.
admire Trump. Many filter out his crazy
We anti-Trumpers have our lowbrowism,
stuff and pretend it doesn’t exist.
too, mostly on late-night TV. But anti-
My impression is that the Trump
Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom
administration is an unhappy place to work, with the Wolff book.
because there is a lot of infighting and often
Wolff doesn’t pretend to adhere to
no direction from the top. But this is not
normal journalistic standards. He happily
an administration full of people itching to
admits that he’s just tossing out rumors that
invoke the 25th Amendment.
are too good to check. As Charlie Warzel
Third, the White House is getting more
wrote on BuzzFeed, “For Wolff’s book, the
professional. Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. truth seems almost a secondary concern to
The craziness of the past weeks would
what really matters: engagement.”
be out of the way, and we’d see a White
The ultimate test of the lowbrow is not
House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the
whether it challenges you, teaches you or
shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our
captures the contours of reality; it’s whether
offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our
you feel an urge to share it on social media.
Islamic State policy, the nomination for
In every war, nations come to resemble
judgeships and the formation of policies
their enemies, so I suppose it’s normal that
on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and
the anti-Trump movement would come to
resemble the pro-Trump movement.
It’s almost as if there are two White
But it’s not good. I’ve noticed a lot of
Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, young people look at the monotonous daily
which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk
hysteria of we anti-Trumpers and they find
in front of the TV, the lawyers working
the Russian investigation and the press
This isn’t just a struggle over a president.
operation. Then there is the Invisible White
It’s a struggle over what rules we’re going
House that you never hear about, which is
to play by after Trump. Are we all going
getting more effective at managing around
to descend permanently into the Trump
the distracted boss.
standard of acceptable behavior?
I sometimes wonder if the Invisible
Or, are we going to restore the distinction
White House has learned to use the
between excellence and mediocrity, truth
Potemkin White House to deke us while it
and a lie? Are we going to insist on the
difference between a genuine expert and
changes the country.
an ill-informed blowhard? Are we going
I mention these inconvenient
to restore the distinction between those
observations because the anti-Trump
institutions like the Congressional Budget
movement, of which I’m a proud member,
Office that operate by professional standards
seems to be getting dumber. It seems to
and speak with legitimate authority, and the
be settling into a smug, fairy tale version
propaganda mills that don’t?
of reality that filters out discordant
There’s a hierarchy of excellence in
information. More anti-Trumpers seem to
every sphere. There’s a huge difference
be telling themselves a “Madness of King
between William F. Buckley and Sean
George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate
madman surrounded by sycophants who are Hannity, between the reporters at The
New York Times and a rumor-spreader.
morally, intellectually and psychologically
Part of this struggle is to maintain those
inferior to people like us.
distinctions, not to contribute to their
I’d like to think it’s possible to be
fervently anti-Trump while also not
reducing everything to a fairy tale.
David Brooks became a New York Times
The anti-Trump movement suffers from
Op-Ed columnist in 2003.
insularity. Most of the people who detest
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