Richard Elfers

Richard posted 163 stories to Courier-Herald.
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Most aren’t sure where the power sits | Rich Elfers

What do voters want to know about the November elections? This was my question to a retired political science teacher friend recently (I will be teaching a Green River College continuing education course on the 2016 elections next week and was looking for ideas). His response was, “What do voters need to know about what the Constitution actually says about the powers of the president and Congress?”

  • May 13th, 2016 4:52pm

Pick your preferred bully, then vote | Rich Elfers

"That government is best which governs least." These words of Thomas Jefferson are the hallmark of current conservatives toward the size of government. Big government is the bane of all hardworking Americans because money is taken from the productive and given to the unproductive. There are too many government regulations, which hinder freedom and raise costs because of expensive rules and regulations.

  • May 6th, 2016 4:13pm

True listening brings understanding | Rich Elfers

"Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." These words were my mantra over the last seven of my 31 years teaching high school social studies at Sumner. I know a lot about many fields because of my constant reading and thinking, but that isn't enough to have an impact upon cynical and suspicious high school students who won't listen or cooperate if they don't like you.

  • Apr 28th, 2016 4:39pm

Bridge provides a lesson from the past | Rich Elfers

As of last Friday evening, Enumclaw was cut off from Buckley, Bonney Lake and Sumner by the White River Bridge closure. What was once a 10-minute drive has now increased to 45.

  • Apr 21st, 2016 7:02pm

Friends, enemies and political memories | Rich Elfers

“Friends come and go, but enemies are forever.” This was a comment from a small-town mayor who had been involved in politics for almost 20 years. His statement is also true on the national level based upon an editorial from Theunis Bates, managing editor of “The Week,” in the March 25, 2016, edition.

  • Apr 15th, 2016 5:58pm

Deciding in a topsy-turvy election year | Rich Elfers

As you may have surmised from my last three columns, I will not be voting for Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee for president come November. Because of that, I decided to attend the Democratic caucus. I know the Democratic primary election will not be used for determining this state's nominee; only the caucus counts. Not very democratic of the Democrats, but, hey, it's politics.

  • Apr 8th, 2016 5:08pm

American voters will have the final word | Rich Elfers

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” stated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • Apr 1st, 2016 7:38pm

Change course or suffer consequences | Rich Elfers

Every year there are 500 million border crossings into the United States, according to Philip Bobbitt in his March 9, 2016, Stratfor article, “Borders in a Borderless World.” Those crossings have resulted in 11 million illegal/undocumented immigrants living the United States.

  • Mar 25th, 2016 5:25pm

GOP experiencing an identity crisis | Rich Elfers

Is the Republican Party in its death throes? Donald Trump’s recent victories during the Super Tuesday primaries show the Republican Party in a major identity crisis, according to Christian Science Monitor writer, Linda Feldman, in an article entitled, “Super Tuesday: Trump’s Victories highlight GOP’s Identity Crisis.”

  • Mar 10th, 2016 5:29pm

Choose a path, live with consequences | Rich Elfers

“We’ve tried intervention and putting down troops in Iraq. We’ve tried intervention without putting in troops in Libya. And we’ve tried no intervention at all but demanding regime change in Syria.” These are the words of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who reflected on the decisions of western leaders who tried to plot the best course regarding hotspots in the Middle East.

  • Mar 4th, 2016 12:54am

‘Realpolitik’ strategy becoming clear | Rich Elfers

President Obama is seriously underestimating Putin's strategy in Syria, according to Reva Bahalia in a recent Stratfor article, "Ruthless and Sober in Syria." "Back in October 2015, the president dismissed Russia's involvement in Syria: 'Mr. Putin is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. The fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength; it's an indication that their strategy did not work.'"

  • Feb 24th, 2016 10:11pm

Solutions neither loving nor smart | Rich Elfers

Sex before marriage was frowned upon in the 1950s. It was considered shameful for a woman to be pregnant and not married. Parents sometimes sent their daughters off to isolated places away from curious and critical neighbors and friends to avoid the stigma that accompanied premarital pregnancies.

  • Feb 16th, 2016 10:10pm

European Union to United States of Europe? | Rich Elfers

The European Union has been shaken to its very foundation. The euro is straining relationships between the wealthy northern nations, especially Germany, and the southern nations, Greece in particular. Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Afghani refugees are fleeing the civil wars that plague their nations for a better life in Europe.

  • Feb 12th, 2016 10:20pm

Admit mistakes and take responsibility | Rich Elfers

Do you know people who stay in the same rut their whole lives? They never change; in fact, as they age they seem to get worse. If you listen to them speak, their mantra is always that someone else was to blame for failures – the government, their political opponent, their spouse, their children’s teachers, the boss, God, whoever.

  • Feb 4th, 2016 7:02pm

Each side has strengths and weaknesses | Rich Elfers

President Ronald Reagan was a master politician. He created a conservative narrative about government that resonates with conservatives to this day. The problem with Democrats, according to Drew Westen in his book, “The Political Brain”, is that they have no competing narrative; in fact, they have no narrative at all.

  • Jan 28th, 2016 11:23pm

The last freedom is the choice of one’s attitude | Rich Elfers

Recently one of my courses at Green River College was dropped due to lack of enrollment. I wasn’t happy about it but there was nothing I could do. That left me with a choice: to mourn the loss, or to appreciate that I had enjoyed the benefit for five years. I chose to appreciate what I had.

  • Jan 13th, 2016 8:20pm

Thoughts of death shape our politics | Rich Elfers

Does this apply to you? “More than 250 experiments in more than a dozen countries have demonstrated that reminding people of their mortality – activating networks about the fear of death – tends to tilt our brains to the right” (Drew Westen, “The Political Brain”).

  • Jan 7th, 2016 6:32pm

The pursuit of happiness | Rich Elfers

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….” These words make up the heart of who and what America is as a nation. But what is this pursuit of happiness? What does it mean?

  • Dec 31st, 2015 6:36pm

Let’s get ready for a tumultuous 2016 | Rich Elfers

After the 9/11/2001 attacks al-Qaeda became our terrorist enemy. Today it is ISIS. If the pattern continues and we are able to weaken ISIS as we have al-Qaeda, another terrorist group will rise like “whack a mole” to take its place.

  • Dec 28th, 2015 6:08pm

Issues change, but attitudes endure | Rich Elfers

The opposing visions of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists have battled and continue to battle each other since the U.S. Constitution was ratified (passed) between 1787 and 1790. These political parties have switched roles at differing times in American history.

  • Dec 14th, 2015 9:34pm

‘Anti-immigrant’ is an American tradition | Rich Elfers

“This refugee stance is so un-American,” wrote Karen Morris in a News Tribune letter to the editor on Nov. 12, 2015.

  • Dec 10th, 2015 7:25pm

Inflexible nationalism and beliefs a danger | Richard Elfers

World War II era German theologian Paul Althaus noted, “We Lutherans see Hitler as a gift and a miracle from God.” Why did most German Lutherans follow Hitler and not pastors like Dietrich Bonheoffer?

  • Dec 3rd, 2015 7:38pm

A historical perspective of Islamic State | Rich Elfers

I cringed as I watched the bloodbath claimed by ISIS in Paris in the news recently and wondered, “Why Paris?” The world was shocked by the wanton murder of at least 129 people while they ate their dinners, drove down the street and entered a soccer stadium.

  • Nov 24th, 2015 10:02pm

The fourth estate and its responsibilities | Rich Elfers

Have you ever been asked “Gotcha!” questions in a public forum? This is what happened to Republican presidential candidates in the third debate recently. A few of the candidates called the moderators out on this behavior. It’s no wonder Republicans have listed “the liberal media bias” as one of their key talking points.

  • Nov 19th, 2015 5:35pm

Human nature is a balancing act | Rich Elfers

This is Google’s core philosophy about human beings, according to Laslo Bock, Google’s head of people operation (human relations) in his recent book, “Work Rules!”

  • Nov 5th, 2015 10:21pm

What goes around comes around | Rich Elfers

History has a way of repeating itself, but never in exactly the same way. After Chinese President Xi Jin Ping visited the Pacific Northwest and Washington, D.C., he flew to London where he was given a lavish red carpet treatment by the British government.

  • Oct 29th, 2015 4:51pm

Freedom without order is chaos | Rich Elfers

Freedom! What a wonderful power—or is it? I considered that paradox after speaking with one of my Chinese students from Shanghai. I had asked him what had struck him most about being in America. His answer was, "all the freedom we enjoy in this country." It was such a contrast to his country's control under "socialist capitalism".

  • Oct 23rd, 2015 5:14pm

Campaigns are not for faint of heart | Rich Elfers

‘Tis the season for charge and countercharge, smear for smear, for endorsing candidates through letters to the editor, for articles from pundits like me, pointing all this out. Usually, the tactics of character assassination and ethics violations are used at the state and national level, but this year’s local contests are following the higher levels of government at least in their viciousness.

  • Oct 15th, 2015 10:18pm

On both sides, moderates will emerge | Rich Elfers

There are two key assumptions about human nature that help me predict who the next U.S. presidential candidates will be. Putting these two assumptions together will help determine who the candidates will be in 2016.

  • Oct 8th, 2015 5:41pm

Voters pick honesty over personality | Rich Elfers

Americans are having a debate over what makes someone a good leader, according to George Friedman in a recent Stratfor article entitled, “The Crisis of the Well-Crafted Candidate”. The current debate over whether business experience matters much in politics was reinforced in A Christian Science Monitor article by Pieter Grier called, “Does Carly Fiorina’s Business Experience at HP Matter?” The current pool of presidential candidates demonstrates there is change in voter attitudes about what makes a good president.

  • Oct 1st, 2015 4:45pm

Federalists and Anti-Federalists, past and present | Rich Elfers

Do you know that attitudes created in the 1787-88 ratification of the Constitution are still with us today in our two major parties? Back then they were called Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Today these two perspectives are alive and well within the Republican and Democratic parties.

  • Sep 24th, 2015 5:39pm

A tale of two presidential libraries | Rich Elfers

It caught my attention when the second Republican presidential debate took place Sept. 15 at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. I, as part of a group of teachers, visited the library on a weekend break during the National Academy on Civics and Government in July.

  • Sep 17th, 2015 5:37pm

Why do we need government anyway? | Rich Elfers

Why do we need government anyway? It seems we argue about how government should be – smaller if Republican, bigger for Democrats – but we seem to ignore the greater question about the need for government in the first place. History and philosophy provide some of the answers.

  • Sep 11th, 2015 6:38pm

Old ideas a part of our national DNA | Rich Elfers

Can you fill in the blanks? “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created ______, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are _______, ________, and the __________ of_______________.”

  • Sep 3rd, 2015 11:40pm

Focus on flaws harmful human nature | Rich Elfers

It is always easy to point out flaws. To prove this, just look at whatever is hot in the news media right now: the police and race, terrorism, the job rating of the president or Congress, the Republican primary process, the Iran vote – the list can be nearly endless.

  • Aug 27th, 2015 3:58pm

Personal views shape future of church | Rich Elfers

I first heard the phrase “Post-modern World” from my daughter Betsy after she graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in international affairs/development more than a decade ago.

  • Aug 20th, 2015 4:32pm

China making push in world economy | Rich Elfers

Centuries ago, China was the major world power. China and Europe were linked by what became known as the “Silk Road.” China’s silks, porcelain and technologies like printing, chess, the compass and gunpowder traveled west along this road to change the West and the world.

  • Aug 14th, 2015 12:24am

To the top: A journey up Mount Si | Life Outdoors

Not everyone’s idea of a perfect day off is waking up at 5 a.m. and hiking for six hours. Usually it involves shutting off all alarms, sleeping in, enjoying a nice cup of coffee at your leisure and planning out the rest of your day. But, when you want to do a hike and avoid heat and crowds, waking up at 5 a.m. on your day off is really the only way to get the job done. Mount Si is known in this area for the spectacular view at the top and possibly one of the longest day hikes.

  • Aug 7th, 2015 6:45pm

U.S. fares best against a ‘stateless’ foe | Rich Elfers

What do we know about the Islamic State? We know that I.S. came from al-Qaida and then broke off to form its own jihadi organization. How do the strategies of these two Islamic organizations differ? Are the differences important?

  • Jul 31st, 2015 4:24pm

Big government is bad; big business is worse | Rich Elfers

It’s wrong to blame Big Business for the nation’s economic ills. Big Government invasively meddles into the lives of Americans with too many rules and regulations limiting people’s freedom. The 2008 Great Recession was caused by the government, not Wall Street. The above statements are the gist of what I have been hearing from some members of the community. According to them, I give government a pass on accountability and unjustifiably blame business for the ills of society.

  • Jul 17th, 2015 8:46pm

History affects the present; the rise of I.S. | In Politics

Did you know the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the victory of Muslim holy warriors in Afghanistan helped to bring about the rise of the Islamic State? It put the secular Arab governments in the Middle East under great pressure, according to Stratfor’s George Friedman in a June 9, 2015, article called, “A Net Assessment of the Middle East.”

  • Jul 9th, 2015 4:32pm

Pick the best from both political worlds | Rich Elfers

“As all conservatives know, liberals are a bunch of sandal-wearing, tree-hugging, whale-saving, hybrid-driving, trash-recycling, peaceniks, flip-floppers and bed-wetters.” This quotation comes from psychologist, author and publisher Michael Shermer in a comment about an article entitled, “What Makes People vote Republican?” by Jonathan Haidt.

  • Jul 2nd, 2015 11:12pm

Tough to realize what big egos we have | Rich Elfers

Confucius said, “Don’t do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.” That’s a little twist to the old familiar saying, but I am trying to make a point that should become clear as you read along.

  • Jun 17th, 2015 5:18pm

Corporations should put health, morals first | Rich Elfers

Vision, creativity, hard work, strong focus, risk-taking, long-term thinking, self-reflection, giving the customer what he/she wants – these are the qualities that have made Jeff Bezos a household name along with the multi-billion dollar company he created: Amazon.com.

  • Jun 11th, 2015 4:35pm

Both risk lives, one gets all the glory | Rich Elfers

Why are law enforcement officers currently under the gun of criticism while firefighters are viewed as heroes? Both police and firefighters’ jobs are to protect and save lives and property. Both risk their lives as part of their jobs. What’s the difference in the public’s perception between the two?

  • Jun 4th, 2015 4:54pm

Few incumbents are being challenged | Rich Elfers

In Sumner, four candidates are running unopposed for the City Council. In Bonney Lake, there are four council positions with no opposition. The Enumclaw School Board has three unopposed seats. Fire District 28 has only one position and it, too, is unopposed. In Black Diamond, two of the four council positions have two candidates competing; my guess is that the issue of the housing developments is still partly the cause.

  • May 29th, 2015 4:44pm

Balancing power in the Middle East | Rich Elfers

“Iran spends $35 billion a year to prop up the Assad regime, according to one estimate.” This report comes from an Iranian official who was interviewed by Nicholas Blanford, a Christian Science Monitor correspondent in an April 27 article entitled, “Why Iran Is Standing by its Weakened, Expensive Ally, Syria.”

  • May 12th, 2015 6:46pm

U.S. again exerts influence on Japan | Rich Elfers

After Japan’s surrender in August 1945, the U.S. military occupied that nation for seven years. During that time two American privates wrote a constitution for the Japanese, which they accepted and have followed since.

  • May 8th, 2015 5:30pm

Can Congress be getting healthier? | Rich Elfers

The approval rating for Congress is staying at 11 percent, but there’s hope the logjam is beginning to break. This revelation is according to a Bipartisan Policy Center report recently published by Francine Kiefer entitled, “Congress May Be Getting ‘Healthier,’ A New Study Finds,”in the April 20 edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

  • Apr 28th, 2015 6:40pm

Finding a solution to fixing roads | Rich Elfers

Finding the solution to fixing city streets is a bumpy journey for members of the Enumclaw City Council. The problem is bringing the streets up to standard costs $3.8 million, according to the city administration report at the Transportation Benefit District meeting April 13. That’s a lot of money. It will have to come from some form of tax increase.

  • Apr 24th, 2015 4:41pm