THE BLOG

DAMS TO THE LEFT, DAMS TO THE RIGHT?

Oct 01, 2013 | Updated Nov 30, 2013

We took a few days off to see the world that was the Pacific Northwest 20,000 years ago, and 200 odd years ago.

Twenty thousand years ago, the Ice Age covered the Northwest in a lake of ice bigger than all the Great Lakes today. When the final ice dam broke, the flood of all floods occurred: 2,000 feet of water went crashing down what is today the Columbia River Basin and Gorge, giving birth to today's fertile river still rich with salmon and fields rich with grain.

Two hundred years ago, President Jefferson purchased the Louisiana territory from France for $15 million and sent Lewis and Clark out to see what he had bought. It probably was the real estate deal of all real estate deals. And Lewis and Clark had an amazing adventure, which is still bearing fruit in endless legends which flow like the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

While we were away, back east in Washington a bunch of folks who call themselves legislators -- supposedly looking out for the interests of this whole country -- seem to have lost track of time and history.

They do not like Medicare or Obamacare, despite the fact that both are and have been the law of the land and also carry the stamp of approval from the Supreme Court. They seem oblivious to the fact that a lot of the folks who tell pollsters they don't like Obamacare also say they absolutely need and want what they get today in support of their health care from the federal government. When and how will those folks and their boneheaded representatives parse that pretty simple inconsistency?

A lot of those same folks do not like the federal deficit and have the crazy notion that a solution lies in capping the debt limits and defaulting on our government's obligations, even if that creates an economic disaster. They have, they think, cleverly linked getting rid of Obamacare with raising the debt limit and they believe they have check-mated the President into choosing between the two. All signs, of course, suggest they are woefully wrong.

A long time ago in England, a courier was rushing on horseback to Northern England with a vital message. The custom then was to leave a tired horse and borrow a fresh one at a wayside Inn. A clever innkeeper named Hobson took the courier to his two closest stalls. In one was a broken down old animal. The other stall was empty. That has been a "Hobson's Choice" ever since. What is less well known is that Hobson had a big stable a block away with a number of suitable fresh horses. History has not revealed why Hobson was as cruel or greedy as to offer up what was effectively a non-choice.

Where is Thomas Jefferson today with his far sighted vision and the ability to sell it to a skeptical Congress? Though the Louisiana Purchase turned out to be the best real estate deal ever, an awful lot of folks at the time thought it was a terrible waste of money. Jefferson knew better and sent Lewis and Clark out to prove it. They did that in spades.

One thing Lewis and Clark did not figure out was how the Columbia River Basin came to be. That took modern carbon dating and geology.

When our present modern period is examined in the distant future (possibly by probing rovers visiting our planet from some 'other world'), they may find that the dam holding back the debt flood that came in 2013 was broken by tea drinking buzzards who were so focused on getting carcasses to chew on that they overlooked the fact that floods drown everything in their paths.

So what goes around comes around. If we do not know or remember history, we are doomed by it.

Maybe Obama should try a little history talk?