Richard Elfers

Politically, all have to learn to adapt | Politics in Focus

After the Edward Snowden revelations, an embarrassed President Obama, who campaigned for government transparency, is reshaping his surveillance policies – secretly. Isn’t this hypocritical? The answer, surprisingly, is no.

Political landscape has a lot to do with geographic landscape | Politics in Focus

Every year, when I travel to visit my friends and family in eastern Washington and Montana, I’m shocked to see how geography affects political attitudes.

The politics behind Mount Rainier National Park | Politics in Focus

What part did politics play in the creation of Mount Rainier National Park? To answer this question I used information from the book, "Mount Rainier Wonderland: An Administrative History of Mount Rainier National Park."

Can conservation and capitalism walk hand-in-hand? | Politics in Focus

Which is more important, saving the environment or creating new industries and jobs? This issue was one of the main themes recently in PBS’s six-hour presentation on the National Parks and how they came to be.

The five ways of handling conflict | Politics in Focus

I bet I can predict how you deal with conflict. How can I do that? Because there are only five possible ways: avoidance, accommodation, compromise, competition and collaboration.

Whence virtue? | Politics in Focus

Research has shown that if we think about certain virtues when we are confronted with difficult issues, our personal behavior changes as a result. If, for example, we read about the virtue of honesty before we make a decision about a moral issue, we are more likely to act honestly.

Are non-partisan endorsements a sign of ‘mission creep?’

Why does it appear that unions and political parties are starting to support candidates for nonpartisan races? Why would I be thinking that, you might ask?

Arctic ice melting more rapidly than predicted | Politics in Focus

Arctic ice is melting even more quickly than scientists predicted. At this time last year, an area the size of Venezuela (350,000 square miles) had melted at the North Pole. According to the article, “The Coming Arctic Boom” by Scott Borgerson in the July/August 2013 Foreign Affairs, the melting of the ice is supposed to make Arctic summers ice free by as early as 2020 – a rapid increase from the original 2070 prediction.

A brief history of The Pill | Politics in Focus

By 1962, 1.2 million U.S. women were using the Enovid birth control pill. By 1963, the numbers almost doubled, according to a PBS timeline. Between 2006 and 2008, 82.3 percent of American women aged 15 to 44 were using an oral contraceptive pill (Centers for Disease Control). Today, between 80 million and 100 million women worldwide are using The Pill.

Do you know the difference between fact and opinion? | Politics in Focus

Think back about the last argument you had. Someone made a categorical statement that you strongly disagreed with. How did you react? Did you come back at them with an equally strong statement? Did the views expressed become heated and angry? Did you raise your voice and get red in the face? If you sit back and think about the argument, could either of you tell the difference between what were facts and what were opinions?

The balancing act of individual rights and public safety | Politics in Focus

Recent revelations bring to the fore larger issues elected officials must struggle with: where is the line between protecting the public versus guaranteeing individual rights? The answer to this question is not easily determined.

The relationship of wealth and power, miniaturized | Politics in Focus

When I taught sociology in high school, I employed something called a simulation as a class lesson. I divided the class into three groups. Each was given a mixed bag of colored chips: golds, reds and blues. The students didn’t know it, but I had added more gold chips to one bag than to the others. Golds had the highest value. Students could trade their chips with other teams, trying to improve their scores. I did this several times.

The politics of fixing bridges | Politics in Focus

Another bridge collapsed recently. This time it was on Interstate 5 just north of Mount Vernon. Fortunately, no one was killed, as occurred when the interstate overpass collapsed in Minneapolis a few years ago.

Two schools of economic thought inform modern political split | Rich Elfers

Two major theories have been battling in America: Keynesian Economic Theory and the Chicago School Economic Theory propounded by the late economist Milton Friedman. Their conflicting positions have struggled for dominance in fixing the economy for decades. Understanding these two views helps to clarify the differences between liberal and conservative economic thinking in America today.

Second term presidential scandals | Rich Elfers, Politics in Focus

Do you ever wonder why every two-term president since Richard Nixon has had a scandal or three during his second term? Nixon's Waterloo was the Watergate scandal that started during his campaign and ended with his resignation and pardon. Ronald Reagan, the next two-term president, caused the nation to suffer through the Iran-Contra Scandal where his government condemned and sanctioned Iran on one hand, and with the other sold them weapons to fight Saddam Hussein, our ally, whom we also supplied with weapons during the Iran-Iraq War. Clinton's was Monica Lewinsky; George W. Bush's scandals number as high as 34, according to one source. They include Abu Ghraib and no WMDs in Iraq. Now, Obama has three scandals going all at once: Benghazi, AP and the IRS.

Failure isn’t the end | Rich Elfers

It’s paradoxical, but true: Sometimes failure is good for us. That was my experience several years ago. I had been teaching high school history for 22 years by then and still had no sympathy for students who didn’t work hard and did poorly as a result. They would often give up rather than try to succeed. Sometimes they would act up in class, further frustrating me.

What’s your life thesis? | Rich Elfers

Do you know what your life thesis is? You have one whether you realize it or not. We all do. It’s the spectacles we use to interpret everything that happens to us. That life thesis comes as a result of major life events that shaped our thinking when we were young.

Marathon bombings illustrate how brutality objectifies | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

In 1915, during World War I, Imperial Germany made a fateful decision that has rippled down to us in the recent Boston Marathon bombings. Kaiser Wilhelm, in desperation over the British naval blockade of Germany, ordered a German U-boat to sink the British ocean liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1,119 passengers who died, 114 were Americans.

How the Kims leveraged North Korea’s shortcomings into power (and why it might no longer work) | Politics in Focus

Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, North Korea has used a strategy of “ferocious, weak, and crazy” to stay in power. Up until recently the strategy has worked brilliantly for the Kims. But the situation is changing under the leadership of twenty-something Kim Jung Un. Because of his actions and rhetoric China has to reconsider its stance of protecting the North Korean regime. Additionally, the current U.S. response toward North Korea is forcing other changes in the region.

Is development worth losing greenspace? | Politics in Focus

Think about what you feel as you drive east on state Route 410 Enumclaw and head up the hill above the fieldhouse and the golf course. Look off to your right (south) and you see a beautiful forest with thousands of trees. Hancock Timber owns that property.