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Mining blarney from the rubble

Everyone is a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day "… except, of course, for politicians — since what's being celebrated is St. Patrick banishing them from his native soil.

Wait, that was snakes. Politicians, snakes. Snakes, politicians.

You say po-tay-to "…

History tells us there actually were no snakes in Ireland at the time (never have been), and St. Patrick himself likely is an amalgam of two or three holy men, none of whom actually called Ireland their home.

The snakes, meanwhile, are a metaphor for weasely vipers out to do harm to the common folk for the benefit of their own pocketbooks and patricians.

I say po-tah-to "…

It isn't easy being green, Pope Kermit I taught us, and our snaketicians continue to do their best to make it harder every day.

Washington state Rep. Ed Orcutt, for example, stuck his foot in his send button recently by noting the obvious correlation between bicyclists and global warming.

"You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car," he wrote in an email, claiming the activity causes cyclists to have "an increased heart rate and respiration."

That nasty physical activity sends more carbon dioxide into the air, you see (well, that is if you could actually see CO2), and therefore contributes to the increase in greenhouse gases.

Golly gee, Mr. Science!

As you might expect, Rep. Orcutt "… ummm "… put on the brakes and backpedaled trying to avoid further trouble in an email to the Seattle Bike Blog.

"My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint," Orcutt wrote. "In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning."

But, as long as he was on the subject, the representative went on to say that he had no intention of proposing a "carbon tax" for bicyclists "… although he does believe cyclists should help pay for infrastructure changes that cater to their needs.

Take that, you road dieticians!

It's not just bicyclists who have made politicians see red this month over the green agenda. Closer to home, Gold Beach Rep. Wayne Krieger wants to end "a 30-year reign of terror by these people having no respect for the rights of others" by increasing penalties on some of those who protest timber sales on state forestland.

Up to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines could be levied against protestors who would block roads, chain themselves to equipment or otherwise prevent logging from taking place.

This surely will put an end to things because — as anyone from Gold Beach to Mount Ashland could tell you — the very last thing environmental activists want to have happen is to have their actions wind up with arrests, court cases and extended, well-publicized legal maneuvering that keeps the target of their protests wrapped up in red tape for months, or even years.

Rep. Krieger says that "they want to do civil disobedience, they can do that. It's part of the Oregon Constitution, and the federal," but just do it someplace else in an acceptable manner.

Maybe, you know, build a treehouse. Perhaps even one bigger than the 6x10 Conestoga huts being experimented with in Eugene as housing for the homeless.

Now there's an idea "… a Conestoga hut village for the homeless built among the trees scheduled for logging on federal forestland and accessible only by CO2-producing bicycles.

Whoever gets that plan passed through a divided Legislature will have to be in bed with so many separate and divergent lobbies that they'll need to celebrate with a cigarette.

Of course, where they could smoke it is another matter, especially if the skin-shedders looking out for the best interests of the community have any say in the matter.

Within the past couple of weeks, the Oregon Legislature has considered raising the cigarette tax by $1 a pack, stopping purchasers from buying smokes in self-checkout lines at stores and banning all smoking in cars if a child under the age of 17 is also in the vehicle.

Many smokers are out-and-out defiant in their right to puff away on their disgusting, filthy, breath-fouling, nausea-inducing, soul-sucking, self-defeating, legally addictive cancer sticks "… so they'll pay the money, stand an in-your-face 19 feet away from public doorways and continue starting grassfires.

The self-checkout line ban also would apply to alcohol and over-the-counter drugs. This would require inspections of every purchase from every customer using those machines "… meaning it's just about as practically enforceable as cellphone bans in cars.

Not to mention that many grocery stores have cigarettes within a locked cabinet "… which would require more customer service time to retrieve said tobacco, whereupon the customer would be followed to make sure they don't use the self-serve checkout.

And the last thing you want to tell someone in the midst of a nicotine fit to do is be patient.

But if those two regulations would be bad enough, the concept of not smoking while in the car with a child under 17 is the GMO cherry on the sundae.

First of all "… what?

Studies have found that not only do nearly 20 percent of teens already smoke, but most of those start before the age of 16. So the bill will likely have to be written to say that no one may smoke in a moving vehicle unless everyone inside is over the age of 17.

Which will be checked "… how, exactly? Our overburdened law enforcement officers would now be required to break away from making sure no one is handcuffed to a bulldozer or driving illegally in the left lane so they can determine whether that kid in the back seat is 17 or 16?

Speaking of not-so-bright ideas, the good citizens of Bandon this week voted down a proposal that would have required all new street lights, yard lights, porch lights and other outdoor lighting to have a shield around them so that the light would be directed straight down.

The Bandon City Council had voted on the ordinance a year ago to allow citizens an unencumbered view past the treehouses into the night sky.

"I think this shows that the City Council is slightly out of touch with the voting population," said Bandon resident Rob Taylor, who headed the petition drive. "I spoke with quite a few people and I was basically getting that people were really upset and asking, 'Do we really need more laws?' "

I'll drink to that.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com