Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I'm Voting For Cathy McMorris Rodgers

When asked at her last town hall meeting about the high cost of college Cathy McMorris Rodgers offered up two solutions. One was for Congress to pass a bill that would require all students to attend financial counseling before they borrowed money for school. The second was to have the student check out the for-profit schools. How do these ideas address the high cost of college? They don't. I would hope the financial counseling would include making sure the student knows that even if they declare bankruptcy they are still on the hook to repay their student loans. As for the for-profit school suggestion, what better way to make the problem worse than to send our young people to the schools that create the larger share of student debt and provide them an education that does them little good? That's the kind of duplicity in a politician I can get behind.

When asked at her last town hall meeting about climate change, Cathy McMorris Rodgers offered up a weak defense that we had met our CO2 goals and declared, "I am not a scientist." She went on to prove her lack of understanding of science when the Ebola scare flames were fanned and she supported banning air traffic from Ebola-stricken countries, a solution that won't work. As she admits, Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not a scientist. But she's also not going to let her ignorance get in the way of her decision making. Her disregard for facts and selective mental fogginess makes her the kind of politician I can get behind.

I've attended the four of the last five of her Spokane town hall meetings and found that Cathy McMorris Rodgers consistently displays a remarkable lack of depth on nearly every subject. Anything that goes beyond her well-repeated talking points results in stammered incomplete sentences and either a hard turn towards a change of subject or a weak attempt to revert back to a talking point. On one particularly telling occasion a gentleman said he believed the Republicans have a plan and when they regained control of the House and Senate in November [2010] they would put that plan in place. He asked her to describe what the plan contained. McMorris Rodgers rambled for a bit and said it was disappointing to meet with people and find they weren't aware of the Republican's plan for a given issue. She described it as a problem where they were not getting the word out to the public. And while she nattered about how they had a plan for the stimulus bill and health care, she never answered the question.

When it comes to oil and gas, Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a proven cheerleader for oil companies. She supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and opening up our nation's shores to more offshore drilling in order to bring gas and oil prices down for the moms and dads sitting around their kitchen table trying to balance the budget. Despite the fact that gas supplies are so plentiful that we are exporting it, gas prices still went up over the summer. A politician helping oil companies that are loyal to profits and not to the countries that give them huge tax breaks is the kind of politician I can get behind.

How can those not be some of the best reasons to vote for Cathy McMorris Rodgers?

Walla Walla Cyclocross

Saturday's race was held at Memorial Park in Walla Walla, WA. This was a power course. There were long stretches of wet grass, tight off-camber turns in wet grass that got greasier as the day progressed, and a long run up.

My single speed race went well and it was quite the workout. Going through the wet grass felt like I was riding my brakes the whole time. I got some good footage from my GoPro for the video. (Not so for my second race. I switched batteries but didn't realize I put another dead battery in.) Three hours later I was left behind on my Elephant as the fresh and/or stronger riders in the men's 50+ took off on me. No worries. I had a fun time.

I posted tons of photos from on the INWCXS Facebook page. Here's the video.

Walla Walla Cyclocross - Day 1 from hank greer on Vimeo.

Later on I was listening to a 6 or 7-year-old tell his dad how he was taking the "Sven line" on the slick turn you see a few people go down on.

"What's a Sven line?" I ask.

It's taking the outside edge of the turn.

Schooled by someone just starting school. Cyclocross is great.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Vote Doug Clark For County Crank

I found this brand new yard sign leaning against a trash can right outside the Spokesman Review building.  I know just the yard to put it in.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another Facebook Q&A

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers held yet another Facebook Q&A session today. This time it was two hours long. In her announcement she stated, "Please feel free to ask questions about the innovative policies I’m advancing to help Eastern Washington, or anything else that’s on your mind."

What questions did she answer? Four times she pointed out that she lives in Spokane. She addressed the recent report of committee nonattendance and fixing the Veteran's Administration twice each. And she addressed individual questions about tax reform, the REINS Act, rural healthcare, EPA expansion of the Clean Water Act, go to to see the Republican detailed jobs plan, and told one constituent to call her office for the help she needed.

Not one word about an innovative policy. And I even asked early on in the session.


But ask her where she lives and she's all over that.

Zion Narrows Canyon

About a year ago my sister Jan asked me and Kathy if we'd like to backpack through the Zion Narrows Canyon. She and her husband Chip love the outdoors and they've spent a lot of time enjoying the wilderness. While Jan is certainly no slouch, Chip has done some serious hiking.

Last year they had a permit but the park was closed due to the government shutdown so they missed out. They really wanted to go and asked us to join them. Kathy was all for it so we waited as Jan applied for an October permit so we'd catch the fall colors. Permits are awarded via a lottery process.

We won!

The shuttle dropped us off with about 16 other people. Each group had an assigned camp site for the night. We were at camp site #1, which is at the confluence of Deep Creek and the North Fork Virgin River. The weather forecast was great so we didn't need to worry about flash floods. Flash floods in a canyon are not to be taken lightly.

 Me, Jan, Chip, and Kathy all loaded up and ready to roll.

For the first couple of miles we hiked on a dirt road, which eventually became a trail, which led us into the canyon. Then we donned our rented neoprene socks and canyon boots since we would be walking in the river for most of the trip. Kathy and Jan wore their dry pants the first day to keep from getting chilled by the water. The water was shallow for most of the first day with a couple of spots that were almost knee high.

 The sand bars were easier to walk on. I can't begin to count how many times we criss-crossed the water.

 Beautiful country.

 The fall colors were impressive.

This was not only Kathy's first ever backpacking trip, but this was the first time she'd ever slept outside in a tent. We had concerns but Kathy maintained a positive attitude the whole time and she had a great time even though this is a difficult hike. By the way, there were many opportunities for us to stand in awe of the trees and rocks tossed about by rushing water. 

 Chip and Jan leading the way.

The view from the top of Dead Man Falls.

 The falls from below.

 Campsite #1 - Our home for the night.

After six hours we arrived at our camp site. It was great to dry out our feet. We set up our tents, ate dinner, drank some wine, and chatted into the night. When night falls, which it seemed to do quickly, the darkness in a canyon is dramatic.

Kathy is very susceptible to the cold and I was worried she'd spent a cold night in the tent. But the Merino wool long johns and the high-tech sleeping bag and sleeping pad kept her toasty. She got a great night's sleep. We boiled water for tea in the morning and had a light breakfast before breaking camp and continuing our trip.

 One of the deeper spots. 

The deepest part we had to go through was chest deep, which means shoulder high for five-foot tall Kathy. But it was about waist high if you could cling to a rock outcropping and step way around onto a small ledge. I thought it was pretty cool that she and I successfully navigated that.

Crossing some swift moving water.

The fun had to end at some point. Unfortunately, it was sooner than expected. The one-day and two-day trips starting at the head of the canyon require a permit. As a result there are very few people along the way. Although we crossed paths with other small groups now and then, for the most part it felt like we had the place to ourselves. That changed after we got through the deepest water on the second day. Day hikers can walk upstream to that point without a permit. So we ran into lots and lots of people coming up the river. We reached the River Walk, a paved trail, after six hours and changed into dry shoes and socks. Then we hiked to the other end of the walk and caught the shuttle bus back to the park entrance. Tired and hungry, we checked into our hotel, got cleaned up, and consumed an excellent meal at a Southwest-style establishment called The Bit & Spur Restaurant.

It looks like I have a new camping partner. Kathy says she's willing to give it another try. How cool is that?

Balancing Life

Kathy and I just spent two days on a backpacking trip, the post on which is coming soon, but one of the most enjoyable things about it was being completely disconnected from the grid and enjoying the wilderness in our party of four. It was like we had the whole place to ourselves. This video brought back that feeling and the importance of taking time out for ourselves.