Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wal-Mart, the Beavs and 9/11

No, they don't have anything to do with each other, but I'm still pressed for time, so I had to combine things that I saw this morning:

• Wal-Mart officials on Thursday showed more class than their opponents have managed in the last two years. After losing a Beaverton City Council decision based entirely on emotion and completely lacking fact, Wal-Mart officials decided not to appeal the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals. As a store spokesperson said, "We want to be a part of this community, but having a court battle is not the way we want to enter."

Get that? Wal-Mart wants to be a good neighbor, and doesn't want to pick a fight; even though they would likely win, the fallout would have long-term negative affects.

The response from Wal-Mart opponents? They made it clear that it was all about NIMBY-ism:
Steve Kaufman, Save Cedar Mill's leader, said his community group's protest probably would not follow Wal-Mart's search to another Beaverton site.

The group, formed to fight the proposed Cedar Mill Wal-Mart, will remain focused on the Cedar Mill site owned by the Peterkort family. Neighbors would like to see locally owned stores and restaurants on the land, Kaufman says, places where they can walk to eat or shop.

"This is a big deal," he said. "I don't believe in the adage that you can't fight City Hall anymore. We've energized the community, and we hope that Wal-Mart knows you have to respect a community's vision for themselves."
"Respect a community's vision for themselves"? What rubbish. This wasn't about the "community," it was about the backyards of Steve Kaufman and his compatriots. Wal-Mart has become the favorite target of the intellectual elite, and Cedar Mill folks jumped on the bandwagon because the store isn't classy enough for them. If it was really about Wal-Mart as a store, about the impact the store would supposedly have on the community, Kaufman's group would fight Wal-Mart at every stop.

I will, however, agree that traffic is an issue at that site, but that actually creates a problem for one of the arguments against a Cedar Mill Wal-Mart -- that the site should be focused on non-automobile traffic. Wal-Mart would have drawn more mass-transit use than upscale community stores ever will. Instead, the opponents have a vision of "places where they can walk to eat or shop" (translation: places that are more upscale and won't bring in lower-income Wal-Mart customers). The problem with that is, very few people are going to walk from the Sunset Transit Center to that site, which includes a hike down Barnes Road and across Cedar Hills Boulevard (round trip, more than a mile). Very few people are going to take the bus to "eat or shop." Very few homes are within walking distance. It is a vehicle-oriented site, and anyone who is intellectually honest will agree.

Boise State 42, Oregon State 14. Ouch. That's gotta leave a mark. The Beavers now have more than two weeks to prepare for their second Western Athletic Conference opponent, the Dennis Erickson-led Idaho Vandals (remember him? See the sidebar for a reminder); that's followed by a home game with the California Golden Bears. If the Beavs get out of September with just one win, and that against Division 1-AA Eastern Washington, Mike Riley better start updating his résumé.

Not that a big win against Stanford indicates a quality team, but at least the Ducks started with a victory against a Pac-10 team. If Oregon can win at Fresno State (which has run neck-and-neck with Boise State as the best WAC team over the past several years) this weekend, I think it's fair to assume the Ducks have the upper hand in the Northwest. Oh yeah, there are a couple of Washington schools that might have something to say about that...

• The incomparable Peggy Noonan writes a heart-rending column today on the sounds of September 11, 2001 -- the sound of "a heavy truck going hard over a big street grate" that turned out to be a jet slamming into a 105-story skyscraper; the creaking and rumbling of the earth as those skyscrapers crumbled into a pile of rubble and flesh; and the sound of countless loved ones -- knowing the end was near -- calling their families to say their last goodbyes. Goodbyes based on the love that death tears apart but can never erase, goodbyes that preceded acts of heroism that could not have been imagined just hours earlier in that infamous day. Here's Noonan's conclusion, with my bold emphasis on the most important message:
These were people saying, essentially, In spite of my imminent death, my thoughts are on you, and on love.
. . .
This is what I get from the last messages. People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more gallant than they'd guess. And this: We're all lucky to be here today and able to say what deserves saying, and if you say it a lot, it won't make it common and so unheard, but known and absorbed.

I think the sound of the last messages, of what was said, will live as long in human history, and contain within it as much of human history, as any old metallic roar.
Noonan could have written this column with her eyes closed, because the important part is not so much her prose as it is the thoughts and prayers of people trapped in a burning building or an airplane-turned-missile, and what those sounds reveal about the people and about our nation.

Read the whole thing, and don't forget what united our country that day.


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