If an "outsider" were to read the Chieftain, he would probably conclude that we are a contentious lot. We quibble over the railroad, trophy homes, over regulation and zoning laws. Never mind that Wallowa County has a good reputation for implementing successful community projects such as Chief Joseph Days, Mule Days, Crazy Days, Alpinfest, classic car shows, county fairs, home improvement projects, art festivals and hospital funding. Most of these activities are done by volunteers, and in spite of the crowds of tourists we attract, our towns are still made up of what can be called "Mom and Pop" businesses as opposed to national franchises. Let's hope we keep it that way.
In contrast, let's take a look at the supposedly more civilized and sophisticated large cities up and down the Pacific Rim to compare what has happened to their reputations during my lifetime.
Remember when Portland was famed as the "City of Roses"? One could travel almost anywhere in the city and enjoy the tranquil beauty of rhododendrons, azaleas and rose gardens. The flowers are still there and the roses still "smell as sweet", but the Rose Festival is no longer the only parade in town. Now Portland has gay pride parades, antiwar demonstrations, anti-logging rallies and if any conservative politicians, including presidents, visit Portland, it's man the barricades and get the tear gas, because there's going to be a riot. There is a constant war between the Portland police force and the public over whether they overreact or are too timid.
The state's leading newspaper, The Oregonian, hasn't helped Portland's soiled reputation as they provide a forum for radical editorials which seem to run about 90 percent to the far left. The Oregonian also led the assault on the logging industry during the spotted owl fiasco. Now that the area's high tech jobs have gone into the tank, is it any wonder that Oregon leads the nation in unemployment? If that isn't enough, Portland State University is rated at the very bottom of the liberal arts colleges in the nation.
Now let's go up I-5 to Seattle which is in competition with Portland for the most violent riots. Seattle is also competing with L.A. for the worst traffic gridlock. Even Boeing pulled its headquarters out of Seattle. But they still have Bill Gates and his army of high-tech yuppies, plus three major league sports teams, all of which seem to collapse during the playoffs (just like the Trailblazers).
Moving on down to Eugene, also known as the "Berkeley of the North", where the University of Oregon Law School is turning out environmental lawyers like sheet music, who sally forth into the world to save the planet. This once pleasant city is now the founding headquarters of the Anarchy Party. In Eugene you can rent a rioter or a tree-sitter for as little as a pound of granola and less than an ounce of marijuana.
Going farther south we come to one of the weirdest towns in the world, Berkeley, CA, where the inmates have taken over the asylum. It's also the home of the University of California which is mainly a training base for war protesters. One of the required courses for graduation is Anarchy 101.
Right across the Bay it gets even worse. San Francisco is no longer the romantic city that Tony Bennett has been singing about for the last 40 or 50 years. Remember Haight/Ashbury, the hippy capitol of America? Even these hygiene-challenged dregs of society have surrendered their domain to the gays who have long since come out of the closet to flaunt their lifestyle and try to dominate the city's culture. Even the world famous Fishermen's Wharf has been taken over by belching, defecating sea lions.
Now we'll end up in Los Angeles, where white Americans are now a minority group. L.A. is the city of smog and road rage, where commuters spend 1/5th of their lives sitting in traffic jams. L.A. is also the home of Hollywood, the entertainment and movie capitol of the world. No longer are there movies where Roy Rogers rides off into the sunset with Dale. Instead it is a major source of moral pollution where they produce training films for bedroom athletes and teach teenagers how to embellish their vocabularies with the latest profanity.
Of course, this is only my biased evaluation of those west coast cities that voted for Al Gore. Go see them yourself, and when you get back, I'll bet you will say: "Boy, Wallowa County is a great place to live".