Richard Elfers

Richard posted 163 stories to Courier-Herald.
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Survival of the planet in the hands of bullies

While the nation’s and the world’s attention was drawn to the senseless murders in Las Vegas of at least 59 and the wounding of 527 more last week, the Korean crisis continued to build, as both Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump trash talked each other.

  • Oct 13th, 2017 10:00am

Rebellion is as American as apple pie

This was my response as I spoke with a woman who was bragging about how much of a rebel she was against the standards of society.

  • Oct 5th, 2017 11:30am

Poor government strips wealth from its citizens

What makes good government? This is one of the questions I ask my international civics and government students each quarter as I teach about the U.S. Constitution.

  • Sep 28th, 2017 11:05am

The fight for freedom and democracy

“Americans fought a revolution to preserve democracy, while South African blacks fought for freedom,” noted a medical doctor who now works for USAID in southern Africa.

  • Sep 21st, 2017 11:15am

Visit puts free speech into perspective

I was excited about visiting Zimbabwe. I had traveled to South Africa previously to visit my daughter, Betsy, and her family, but this was my first time to another African country.

  • Sep 15th, 2017 10:45am

Why would anyone want the top job?

How easy is it for you to make a decision? What if you’re the president of the United States? Do you think, with all the authority invested in that office, deciding what to do would be a snap? Wrong.

  • Sep 5th, 2017 11:00am

Confederate statues and what they mean

A history professor once commented that rarely do the defeated erect statues to their defeats. On a personal level, do you display mementos of your failures — of your divorce, or bankruptcy, or dropping out of high school or college, or the time you got arrested when you were a teen?

  • Aug 24th, 2017 10:30am

Our leaders act like spoiled children

Have you wondered why Republicans, who fought Obamacare for seven years, are having trouble repealing and replacing Obamacare?

  • Aug 3rd, 2017 11:30am

Roberts was brilliant with travel ban

How did John Roberts, chief justice of the United States, avoid appearing partisan in the Supreme Court’s recent immigration ban decision?

  • Jul 7th, 2017 10:30am

Presenting a third way of thinking

During my training as the political action person for the Sumner Education Association, we were told teachers make lousy legislators because they try to be “fair.” Being a state legislator is not about fairness to all, the Washington Education Association speaker said. It’s helping your special interest group and putting them above all other groups in the state.

  • Jun 28th, 2017 10:30am

Focusing on the many ties that bind us

We humans often find it difficult to face reality. Many of us have created adaptive ways to avoid what is uncomfortable. Eventually, the power of reality pushes through our ignorance and our unwillingness/inability to see things as they really are.

  • Jun 23rd, 2017 11:00am

Solutions can be hidden in plain sight

I had foolishly used my band saw to cut through a plastic bottle of rhino glue to get at what still was liquid and usable. Doing this knocked the continuous metal band of saw teeth off their three pulleys. When I repeatedly tried to fix it, the steel band saw blade kept coming off.

  • Jun 17th, 2017 11:30am

If you run for office, your thinking changes

The week of May 15-19 was the filing time and in Enumclaw, all city government positions had at least two candidates running, a very unusual occurrence.

  • Jun 9th, 2017 11:00am

Carried along the rough waters of Trump

James Comey, recently-fired FBI Director, gained his reputation for integrity when he was Assistant Attorney General during the George W. Bush administration.

  • May 28th, 2017 2:22pm

Scrap outmoded definition of Arab

When I tread the corridors and walkways of Green River College, I constantly pass women wearing hijabs (Muslim headscarves). Are these women Arabs? That depends. They may be from India, or Iraq or Norway. What exactly is an Arab, anyway?

  • May 12th, 2017 10:30am

Operating in different realities

We all live simultaneously in three realities, states theoretical physicist Max Tegmark in his book, “Our Mathematical Universe”. The first reality is our understanding of the world based on our life experiences, our internal reality.

  • Apr 28th, 2017 11:29am

Trump fumbling early chance at success

“Trump identified the right problem too early,” according to “Geopolitical Futures” analyst George Friedman in an article entitled, “Trump’s Dilemma: President Donald Trump’s Ability to Make Changes Depends On Whether His Support Rises Or Falls.”

  • Apr 7th, 2017 11:00am

Become smarter, challenge your beliefs

“If you don’t like the way we are bringing you up, find those who do better and copy them.” These were words from my mother when I was 13 or 14.

  • Mar 31st, 2017 11:00am

Public will have to halt party bickering

“Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling” (Proverbs 26:27). This ancient Hebrew proverb brings to mind the current Republican-controlled Congress and its 60 or so past attempts to destroy Obamacare.

  • Mar 24th, 2017 11:20am

Goal is to live, love and leave a legacy

From the age of 10, my life was chaotic.

  • Mar 10th, 2017 11:30am

State should protect business owners

Barronelle Stutzman’s “relationship with Jesus Christ” doesn’t give her the freedom to turn down business – even if that business violates her personal beliefs. Or so said a Benton County Superior Court judge in his decision against her in 2013.

  • Mar 2nd, 2017 11:59am

How much slack do we give Trump?

How much slack should the American public give to a new president? How much should they give to a president who has never served in government or the military?

  • Feb 22nd, 2017 10:16am

We need Congress to act like adults

There are at least four major ways to interpret the Constitution and numerous varieties in between: originalism, textualism, fundamental principles and modernism.

  • Feb 15th, 2017 10:56am

Change coming quickly, but will we like it?

Change is in the air. President Trump is in the midst of seeking to fulfill his campaign promises as quickly as possible. His supporters are hopeful that our new president will shake up Washington and restore greatness to America.

  • Feb 7th, 2017 10:12am

Do you live in the past, present or the future?

In the late 1960s to the early 1970s when I was a youth, I belonged to a very strict religious organization that prophesized the imminent return of Christ, and the destruction of the United States.

  • Jan 11th, 2017 10:06am

Incoming president’s strength is his unpredictable nature

“Trump makes people uncomfortable. It’s what he does best, in fact. But how this quality applies to foreign policy is a question that merits deeper exploration than knee-jerk displays of stricken disbelief.”

  • Dec 30th, 2016 3:30pm

Times are a-changin’ – once again

Liberalism vs. conservatism has been replaced by globalization vs. nationalism in America today. At least that is what George Friedman asserts in his Nov. 30, 2016, “Friedman’s Weekly” article entitled, “Nationalism, Internationalism and the New Politics.”

  • Dec 16th, 2016 11:02am

Two cities offer a bit of red in a sea of blue

48.7 percent of Enumclaw voters chose Trump over Clinton, who received 43.8 percent.

  • Nov 24th, 2016 10:00am

Trump’s message appealed to the ignored majority

Donald Trump won with a message of hope and change. Ironic as…

  • Nov 21st, 2016 10:46am

Tough road to understanding our own bias

Are you a victim of the Dunning-Kruger Effect? Did you engage in confirmation bias during this political season?

  • Nov 15th, 2016 3:53pm

Talking about words and meaning | Rich Elfers

“Patriotically correct”? A new right-wing term to compete with the left-wing “politically correct”? Actually, no. Some Donald Trump conservatives have come up with the new catchword to describe their position. Understanding the origin of the terms can give us an insight into the thinking of some on the right in this highly-charged election year.

  • Nov 3rd, 2016 1:19pm

Voting from frustration and loss of faith | Rich Elfers

I can tell something bothers me when I wake up thinking about it. That happened after the first presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

  • Oct 5th, 2016 4:56pm

Work can get done in government | Rich Elfers

One of the criticisms of government is that nothing much gets accomplished. I served on the Enumclaw City Council for a four-year term. Now, nearly five years later, I reflect on what was accomplished both during my term and what has been accomplished in the five years since. I discovered there are lessons to be learned from looking back.

  • Sep 29th, 2016 5:13pm

Ideas living in our heads rule our lives | Rich Elfers

"Trust and verify." These were the words of President Ronald Reagan in dealing with the Soviets during the Cold War. Reagan's words can also apply to the immigration issue currently being debated by the presidential candidates.

  • Sep 15th, 2016 4:58pm

Discretion and understanding will guard you | Rich Elfers

When I taught history to American students in a U.S high school, I would often get laments like: "I am never going to need this material, why do I have to learn it?" and, "Is this going to be on the test?"

  • Sep 7th, 2016 8:56pm

Electoral College is for the good of all | Rich Elfers

Why did the founders of the Constitution create the Electoral College? Why did they create a body of elites (electors) who actually decide who the president of the United States will be? Why have we not passed a Constitutional Amendment to rid ourselves of such an archaic institution?

  • Aug 31st, 2016 7:29pm

High numbers may vote Libertarian | Rich Elfers

“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others” (2016 Libertarian Party platform).

  • Aug 25th, 2016 8:54pm

Don’t give into knee-jerk nationalism | Rich Elfers

Have you ever lived in another culture? I did when I decided to spend my senior year of college in England. I spent my summer of that year working with 49 other students from the U.S. and Western Europe on an archaeological dig on the southern and western end of the Temple Mount (Harim al-Sharif) in Jerusalem.

  • Aug 19th, 2016 4:33pm

In sports, a socialist system prevails | Rich Elfers

Why is it that professional soccer in socialistic Europe is capitalistic, while in the U.S. all major league sports are monopolistic and socialistic?

  • Aug 11th, 2016 4:47pm

Trump slogan relies on nostalgia, not reality | Rich Elfers

We have all heard Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again." What does it mean? Not much, according to a "Straits Times" (Singapore) article by Jeremy Au Yong, entitled, "What Does 'Make America Great Again' Mean?" The slogan is vague enough to appeal to people differently, depending on the person and their age. It relates to nostalgia for a better time.

  • Aug 3rd, 2016 10:56pm

Same Sex Marriage Act before Supreme Court | Rich Elfers

You have probably seen signs in places of business that say, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." Those signs do not necessarily reflect current law in the state of Washington.

  • Jul 27th, 2016 11:07pm

Humility is the key to dealing with conflict | Rich Elfers

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." This famous quote by Benjamin Franklin resonates more than 240 years after it was uttered. The irony of Old Ben's observation is that many people in our era act and speak with such certitude, especially in regard to religion and politics.

  • Jul 21st, 2016 5:16pm

The shaping of America by geography | Rich Elfers

Americans are generally ignorant of how our geography has shaped our thinking and our nation. In our history, we have only had one major invasion – the War of 1812. We have weak neighbors to our north and south and vast oceans that buffer us from foreigners to our east and west.

  • Jul 12th, 2016 8:35pm

Quest for power always bring conflict | Rich Elfers

A little more than a week ago we saw British citizens vote to leave the European Union, citing distrust of ruling elites in Brussels and a desire to retake lost national power.

  • Jul 7th, 2016 5:34pm

European Union running out of time | Rich Elfers

To commemorate the World War I Battle of Verdun, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met recently at the battle site to remember and honor the deaths of 300,000 German and French soldiers in that 10-month battle.

  • Jun 30th, 2016 7:02pm

Equality vs. Equity: Black lives matter | Richard Elfers

Do you know the difference between equality and equity?

  • Jun 24th, 2016 10:02pm

America’s self-doubt through history | Rich Elfers

"There is something in the American soul that wants to believe that it is facing disaster, that it has failed, that some corruption deep in its being will steal its success. I suspect that this has something to do with the familial recollections of immigrants."

  • Jun 15th, 2016 8:39pm

Cultural change in schools, high price|Richard Elfers

President Barack Obama recently sent a directive to public schools around the country to let students use restrooms according to their gender identities. While this directive is not legally binding, the threat of potential civil rights lawsuits and loss of federal funding for Title IX looms large.

  • Jun 8th, 2016 6:57pm

Putting future politics into perspective | Rich Elfers

The presidential primary season has seen an earthquake of shifting alignments for both political parties, something few if any predicted six months ago. According to Michael Lind, writing an article for "Politico Magazine" entitled, "This Is What the Future of American Politics Looks Like," the political changes we have seen are really the end of the process, not the beginning.

  • Jun 1st, 2016 7:47pm

History of primaries and who votes | Rich Elfers

Donald Trump's unpopularity numbers hover around 60 percent. Hillary Clinton's are between 50 and 55 percent. How did we get into a situation where most voters will be required to elect the least unpopular candidate this November? The answer lies in history and human nature.

  • May 18th, 2016 3:33pm