Friday, June 30, 2006

How Hopeless

I'm beginning to regard Bojack's blog (and I have to regard it in some fashion; it scrolls down our sidebar much of the day, just like our stuff) as the bizarro world version of Blue Oregon. First of all, they're both based in the Portland area, and both draw about 2,500 hits a day if memory serves.* And while I enjoy reading BO often and going there and participating in discussion, it's true that sometimes it becomes a self-congratulatory exercise in philosophical superiority, interrupted by pointless, narrow carping on process issues.

At Bogdanski's it's sort of a reverse jutitsu, self-congratulatory exercise in philosophical impotence. From Jack on down to his legion of self-assured commenters, almost every person participating is positive that things are an unalloyed mess in all offices at all levels of government, and we're getting scammed to boot. It's actually a little like the progressive response to the Bush administration, to be honest. What analysis there once was at Bojack to back up and inform on those complaints, however, has lately been subsumed by hack broadsides high on forced comedic touch and low on informational value--Nojack. To wit, in response to a proposal by Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard to mandate biofuel mixing in Portland gas:
Think big! You mark my words, municipal socialized medicine is next. You and Erik should get your heads together -- let's try a hostile takeover of Pfizer! Ban Wal-Mart! We're so-o-o-o-o-o-o "progressive"! Hey, so Jubitz may go out of business -- we don't care! We'll have Joe Weston put a condo tower there!

When it comes to making it difficult to run any business other than ugly real estate development, the City of Roses is truly world-class. Cutting-edge. I'm all for saving the earth, but right now Portland needs to give the whole Oligarchy Alteration Thing a timeout for a bit, while there are still a few taxpaying businesses left.
What the hell? The part that's most offensive to truth is the crack about Jubitz, when The O article made a point of indicating Leonard's willingess to talk flexibility for guys like Jubitz. But look at the text in general--it's a jumble of wild-eyed scare predictions (aaaggh, health care for more people! Kill it!), snarky putdowns, and outright untruths. And in jumps the commenter chorus, dittoing righteously as stewards of good government and watchdogs of waste. Bog even dittos himself, speculating wildly based on an unrelated part of the law that Portland has no jurisdiction to set gas component controls. Give half a man with half a brain half the law book, and you're dangerous by half.

Personally, I'm not sure a simple mandate for biofuel mixing in Portland gas IS a very well thought out position. I like Randy, and he usually does his homework, so I'm willing to listen (although if doing what needs doing for Jubitz to keep the peace means volume seller exemptions, it kinda takes away the whole point of cutting usage if the biggest sellers don't have to use the mix.)

But that's really the way to go about it, isn't it? Healthy skepticism, courteous questions? Hey, it's fun throwing your opinion around and telling everyone you know so much better how to run things--despite never having run for anything of consequence yourself. (Correct me if necessary.) But Bog's bloviations are neither informative nor, in the end, entertaining.

I've shaken the mayor's hand once, but I don't know him. I do have some sort of relationship with the other four commissioners, Saltzman the least (although I said hi when I saw him at Wednesday Farmer's Market, and he said hi back). They are approachable people, and do in fact respond to emails and reasonable blog posts. Randy cut Bog an enormous break by even consenting to give him the time of day after the way he'd been written up, much less going into the den and defending his position calmly and with assertions of fact. Why Bogdanski deserved that much respect for his slashing attack, I do not know. What a shame that politicians running a major American city are willing to engage citizens honestly, and then they just become the subject of cheap shots and ad hominem when they try.

*Don't quote me.