June 24, 2009 in Opinion

Smart Bombs: Skeptics getting warmer

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

Chicken Little has often been invoked by skeptics of global warming. They even recommend a book called “The Sky’s Not Falling! Why It’s OK to Chill About Global Warming.” It’s by – and I’m not making this up – Holly Fretwell. It echoes many conservatives’ beliefs that the government need not take charge. It also is critical of what it deems the scary exaggerations screamed by environmentalists and politicians.

That’s all very interesting in light of the debate over the costs of the cap-and-trade bill being debated in Congress. In April, Republicans twisted the study of an MIT economist to produce the whopper that the legislation would cost every household about $3,100. They dubbed this the light switch tax. John Reilly, the MIT economist, protested, saying it would be more like $79. Still, some dim bulbs continued to tout the bogus number.

Then the ranking Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, decided to query the Congressional Budget Office on the bill’s cost. The CBO returned bad news for the bad news bearers. The cost would be an average of $175 a year by 2020, and that didn’t factor any benefits from mitigating climate change. The poorest 20 percent of households would actually come out $40 ahead; the richest 20 percent would pay $245, or 20 bucks a month.

In short, the sky won’t be falling and we can chill about solutions to global warming. But good luck getting these Chicken Littles to fret well.

Look before you LUNGE. After three years of little news on the Otto Zehm front, two big stories break within days. The city answers a lawsuit by saying that everything that happened to the mentally ill janitor who died in police custody was his fault. Then the grand jury returns a two-charge indictment against Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson, who was the first responder to the Zip Trip on that fateful day.

The city’s we-did-nothing-wrong rejoinder is remarkable in its inability to concede a single point. Guess it feels that the community was outraged and an ombudsman was hired for no good reason. The city couldn’t even admit culpability for putting out the false story that Zehm lunged at Thompson. Yes, the department eventually corrected that story after it became clear that the public would see a video of the encounter.

The legal response acknowledges that the department had not watched the video and that witnesses had not been interviewed before the media were told that Zehm “lunged.” It is typical for police departments in that situation to say something like, “We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.” But the department made an exception this time.

Meanwhile, the federal indictment includes one charge against Thompson for allegedly making a false statement to an investigator. It’ll be interesting to see whether those two dots ever connect.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.


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