Disclosure of recipients of Paycheck Protection Program largesse surprised no one. A lot of money was distributed, as expected, to the well-connected. But a couple organizations merit special mention.
The Washington Policy Center, a Seattle-based conservative think tank, makes its philosophy clear:
“We don’t receive government money. We don’t ask for it and we wouldn’t take it even if it were offered. WPC relies on the generous support of our donors — people like you who understand that free-markets are superior to a government rigged economy, and liberty is the air that a free people must breathe.”
Freedom Foundation, opposed to government spending and taxation and a relentless opponent of labor unions:
“We have a vision of a day when opportunity, responsible self-governance, and free markets flourish in America because its citizens understand and defend the principles from which freedom is derived. We accept no government support.”
It’s reassuring to see organizations hold firm to their fundamental philosophies.
Just kidding. Each of these took between $350,000 and $1,000,000 of government money.
The eastern-Washington City of Selah, home to TreeTop Apple Juice, will not abide repeated lawbreaking. The Selah city attorney has put a resident on notice, threatening prosecution if they continue to use chalk to draw Black Lives Matter art and slogans on the dead-end street in front of their house. The City Attorney sent a letter to the homeowners notifying them that using chalk to draw on a public street constitutes gross misdemeanor malicious mischief and they cannot “create unauthorized graffiti on public property with impunity.”
BLM protests have increased since the Selah City Administrator went on record describing Black Lives Matter supporters as “devoid of intellect and reason.” The City Attorney announced, “Selah is not Seattle. The laws will be enforced in Selah.”
I’ve been to Selah (population 7,147). It definitely is not Seattle.
Meanwhile, Yakima County, home to Selah, is a hot spot of surging COVID-19 infections. A Yakima City Council member who has asserted that healthy immune systems fortified by vitamins can safeguard people from the virus, has been an organizer of demonstrations protesting business restrictions, mask-wearing and social distancing.
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
– P.T. Barnum
Devin Nunes is a nine-term Congressperson from the California Central Valley. He is also a Putin-Trump toady. To keep his name in the news, Nunes lately has been a zealous foe of fake news. He has filed seven lawsuits alleging defamation of his character and reputation. Defendants are CNN, the Washington Post, McClatchy Company (owner of the Fresno Bee, Nunes’s hometown newspaper), Twitter, @mom_nunes (Devin Nunes’ Mom) and @DevinCow (Devin Nunes’ Cow).
The current occupant of the White House is looking to burnish his self-proclaimed reputation as the world’s greatest deal-maker with another arms sale to Saudi Arabia. To get rid of any distractions, he has fired the Inspector General who was looking into last year’s artful eight-billion-plus-dollar deal that sent weaponry to the Kingdom last year, over the strenuous objections of Congress.
The Bush family, too, were long-time friends and business partners with Saudi Arabian potentates.
Citizens of Baker City in northeastern Oregon, population not quite ten thousand, cast their ballots, giving overwhelming approval for sale of a twenty-five-year-old backhoe the city decided it no longer needed. An archaic provision in the municipal charter requires voters’ approval for the city to sell any equipment or vehicles with a value of more than $10,000. ($5,000 for land or buildings.) The 1995 Case backhoe’s estimated value is $16,000.
The sale was approved with 92% voting “Yes.” (One wonders what reasons the other 8% had to disallow the equipment’s sale.) Baker City’s public works director admitted that a few years previously a street sweeper may have been sold in violation of the law, although no record was kept of the sale price. (An obvious coverup!)
In the same election, residents also voted, by a 65% to 35% margin, to amend the city charter putting some limit on direct democracy. The city in the future will be allowed to sell surplus equipment without obtaining voters’ consent. This will simplify the possible sale of a Case excavator and a 1988 International dump truck, each valued at more than $10,000.
A third measure on the ballot would have discontinued the stipend paid to Baker City’s commissioners. Perhaps voters feared that it would be a step toward plutocracy. The measure was defeated. The seven city-council members will continue to receive their ten dollars per meeting.
Let’s take a ride in the Wayback Machine. Forty years ago, we saw incessant news reports about Mt. St. Helens, kind of like the non-stop COVID-19 reporting today. For months the mountain had been bulging, and expelling steam and ash almost daily.
Scientists said there was imminent danger and the area should be closed off. Washington-state authorities agreed and put a quarantine in effect, blocking access into the danger zone. Right away noise began about infringing on people’s constitutional rights and the damage to tourism and the economy. The mountain’s burping was the new normal and nothing more was going to happen. (This was the era before patriots paraded in camouflage outfits and brandished combat weaponry.)
Interviews with one crusty old-timer, named Harry Truman, who lived on the mountain and said he wasn’t leaving, were a regular feature on the nightly news. According to Truman’s niece, “He thought (the volcano) would just go straight up and that somebody would be able to come and get him.”
Pressure to reopen the area increased. Officials met to discuss what action to take. Scientists expected reaffirmation of the closures and were surprised that the discussions were about plans to reopen the area. Five days later Mt. St. Helens blew. Mr. Truman and fifty-six other people died. Most died from thermal burns or inhaling hot ash. According to some estimates the death toll may be higher, that many unknown victims were swallowed by the debris flow.