Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Month: August 2014

Count your many blessings


When I read last week’s article in the Keizertimes about depression, it made me pause and think about the things that are really important in life. Whatever the cause of depression, we must always remember that where there is breath, there is hope. I myself am familiar with hardships, in fact it’s easy at some point in our lives to look back over life and struggle to see any good  through the many disappointments that come our way. This is quite common as you get older, life is short and full of trouble.

It is very common to tell everyone that things are going well, and struggle to keep up appearances in a  world with little sympathy. This life is a workshop, and God works in ways that we do not understand. We live in a world where you’re not supposed to be happy, because if your happy, someone else is suffering. At the same time, everything is supposed to be positive, and the current expression for this is “It’s all good.” I don’t know what kind of world people think they are living in, but in my world this is often—but not all always—called denial. This simply means that someone has lost touch with reality, and react against any negativity that would cause their problems to surface. So it is with our society in general. The world is a very sensitive place to live, and if you are going to survive, you have to learn to develop thick skin.

We hear much talk about hate speech, I’m not always sure where people are coming from. For example, many children do  not want to be told how to live their lives, their parents are considered out of date and only wanting to drag them down and take away their happiness. This is the difference between a child and a mature adult with life experience to back them up. Most of the problems in our society began at home and go back several generations. Many people are disappointed and angry over their own lives, and when they begin to bury their feelings, and hide themselves from everybody they think have it all together, there inner feelings have nowhere to go but up, and when that happens, you have an increase in violence and rage that we see going on in our world today.

Now I am well acquainted with disabilities, I also have had the honor of being a caregiver for seniors as well. I used to go with my dad, when he was alive and in better health, to retirement and nursing homes, where we would play music and sing favorite music from the past. I spent many years myself, sitting with the parents of many of Keizer’s families as they were lying on their death beds, many of them for the most part forgotten about and left there by themselves. As I spent time, listening and praying with them, trying to give them a little bit of hope, I learned about the importance of family, and the common struggles and concerns which often go unheard. Depression is a common ailment in older age, this is something that all generations can identify with, disappointments come to all of us eventually.

There is no answer for why there is suffering in the world, other then that the very one who we often seek to blame, is the only one that loves us in ways that we will never understand, and that’s God Himself. My grandmother had a  favorite saying that is especially popular throughout the southern Bible Belt. She would always say, “It all comes out in the wash.”  We may not understand things now, things may not be the way that we would have them be, but just like tapestry, we will one day look back on our lives and come to appreciate the value of our lives in ways that we were never able to understand on our own. Our lives hold more value then what we could ever realize. Whether it be Robin Williams, or the unknown soldier suffering and dying in a strange and foreign land there is an all seeing eye who beholds the sparrow when it falls from the sky, and knew us each intimately before we were ever in our mothers womb, and that He is the only one who has been there and truly cared for all of us all along.

In closing, ponder the words of an old hymn which resonates both now more then ever: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

Get off your phone and computers, away from your thousands of friends, listen and spend time with your family before it’s too late. Make it count.

(Matt Chappell lives in Keizer.)

New leader of the pack

Julia Dewitt was recently named the new principal of Whiteaker Middle School. Her most recent assignment was as an assistant principal at Houck Middle School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Julia Dewitt was recently named the new principal of Whiteaker Middle School. Her most recent assignment was as an assistant principal at Houck Middle School. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Julia Dewitt is taking over the principal’s office at Whiteaker Middle School at an exciting time.

By the end of the 2013-14 school year, Wolverine students had, almost universally, made exceptional gains in state testing assessments, but the official results won’t be released until October.

“The faculty and staff made significant gains with the various subgroups of our population and it’s a great time to build on the growth they achieved last year,” said Dewitt.

Dewitt replaces Laura Perez, who was reassigned to Straub Middle School in June.

While Whiteaker students and families will be discovering a new face in the hallway, Dewitt is no stranger to Keizer. She taught at Claggett Creek Middle School for five years before becoming an instructional coach there. Her most recent assignment was as an assistant principal at Houck Middle School.

“Keizer has such an open community that the transition has been really smooth,” Dewitt said. “I’ve had parents stop by during office hours, in addition to the staff. One already has me going to a Rotary meeting as a guest. It will be a priority for me to be part of the community in my first year and not just in it.”

One of the more formidable challenges she’ll face in the first year is preparing teachers and students for Smarter Balanced Assessments for all grades. The assessments are developed with an eye toward Common Core standards in math and language arts with the goal of increasing student achievement. In that regard, she’s grateful to to be working in the Salem-Keizer School district, and specifically Keizer.

“We have all the advantages of a large district and a small community of people who really care. We get the best of both worlds,” she said.

Given the wide range of student ages prospective teachers get to choose from, Dewitt chose middle school because it is an important transition phase in many ways.

“With middle school, it’s an important time when the students are transitioning from elementary to middle and from middle to high school. Being able to support them through both of the transitions, and give them all the tools and strategies they’ll need in high school, is a special thing,” she said.

Having moved up through the ranks to administration at a relatively rapid pace, Dewitt said her experiences in the classroom still inform her approach to the role of principal.

“It comes down to having a community of learners and people who collaborate around learning. As a teacher you foster that in your classroom, as a coach you foster it in your colleagues and as an administrator you foster that in your community. As a principal, you have an influence on the community and being the hub of learning for a large area,” she said.

“The Norm Chronicles” by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter


The Norm Chronicles” by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter

c.2014, Basic Books
$16.99 / $19.99 Canada
358 pages


You hadn’t seen your old classmate in years.

He was never at reunions or any events. He never called you, either, and truth be known, you kind of forgot about him – until his name came up on Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoon, you spotted his face in the background of a stranger’s online photo.

Total coincidence? What are the odds?  Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter say they’re actually pretty good, and in “The Norm Chronicles,” they explain.

Congratulations, your lottery numbers all came up. You missed being in an accident. You were in the right place at the right time, but you didn’t “defy the odds.”

That, say the authors, is impossible.

“Odds,” they explain, “simply describe how many people are expected to be on each side of a possibility.”  Something good happened in the above situations; you were on the positive side, which is “meeting the odds.” And chance, of course, “always plays a part” in everything we do.

From the moment we’re born, we risk: infants have the “same level of annual hazard” as do middle-age adults. Get to age 10, though, and you’re good to go for awhile, since that’s the approximate age of our lives, roughly speaking, when we’re safest and have the lowest relative units of “MicroMorts.”

Or take, for instance, disease. You might think that everything causes cancer, but numbers can be deceiving. Is a specific risk relative or absolute? The former can “make the numbers seem scarier than maybe they should be.” Furthermore, the “nature of news” is that “things that are… likely to get you are not reported nearly so often as others that are rare.” Yes, some behaviors seem to invite disaster, but others “fall… into the same category of philosophy” that should include data on values and traditions. Alcoholic consumption is one of those.

Is it chancy to get immunized?  To lose a job?  To eat 5,000 bananas?  Yes, but what we need to remember about risk, chance, and probability is that there is no average. You can be “average for some subset” of people but that can change – and besides,  it’s all about perception anyhow, since probability is a “recipe for muddle.”

Through a mixture of fact and fiction about a regular Joe called Norm, “The Norm Chronicles” is an informative book that’ll tickle your funnybone.

Or, as much as you can understand it, anyway.

Authors Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter sprinkle wit all over their chapters and fill them with asides and silly stories that illustrate risk throughout life and in all aspects. The thing is, the facts and stats just don’t let up, which can be overwhelming for some readers. We learn one thing that seems contradictory elsewhere (the nature of possibility), and the numbers just keep on coming…

Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad book; quite the contrary, it’s good entertainment, but it’s just going to need some digesting-time, that’s all. Give yourself that, and I think “The Norm Chronicles” is a book you’ll probably like.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Volcanoes snap slide with 7-3 win

Salem-Keizer’s Shilo McCall makes his way to third base as the Boise shortstop makes a grab for a grounder. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Salem-Keizer’s Shilo McCall makes his way to third base as the Boise shortstop makes a grab for a grounder. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

For the Keizertimes

A 7-3 win over Boise ended the series and the losing streak for the Volcanoes on Monday.

After trailing 3-2 in the middle of the fifth inning, Salem-Keizer went ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth and kept the lead.

The crowd of 2,255 at Volcanoes Stadium saw the home team hit two home runs, one by Dylan Davis and one by Skyler Ewing. Kevin Brown hit one for the Hawks.

After the Whitaker Middle School brass quintet played the national anthem, two scoreless innings were played before the visitors scored three times in the third. Bryant Flete led off with a double to center field, starting pitcher Jose Reyes retired the next two batters, and Charcer Burks singled to left, scoring Flete. Brown then hit the ball over the right field fence.

The score stayed 3-0 until the Volcanoes came to bat in the fourth. On a 3-2 count, Oregon State product Dylan Davis led off with his homer, over the right center field wall. Hunter Cole hit an infield single, Travious Relaford bunted for a hit and Cole was picked off second base with a throw from catcher Mark Malave to shortstop Flete. Brett Kay walked, and with Austin Slater at bat, a wild pitch by starting pitcher Trevor Clifton moved Relaford to third. Slater grounded out but batted in Relaford.

At the start of the fifth, manager Gary Davenport of the Volcanoes was ejected for arguing too heatedly over umpire Tom West’s pickoff call.

Ryan McNeil took the mound for the bottom of the fifth.  Christian Arroyo doubled to left center, and Ewing – who wears the same No. 44 that sluggers Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson and Howard Johnson did – gave Salem-Keizer the lead by driving the ball over the right field fence.

Reyes, who had struck out six in his 5-2/3 innings, was replaced by left-hander Steven Neff because a left-handed hitter, Justin Marra, was coming to bat. Marra singled to left, but Neff retired Jesse Hodges on a force out.

A new pitcher, Trey Lang, faced the Volcanoes in the sixth. Relaford led off with a walk and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Kay. A throwing error by Lang put Kay on first and Relaford on second. Seth Harrison singled to center, driving in both baserunners.

In the Volcano seventh, Davis hit an infield single and went to second on a throwing error by third baseman Hodges. Relaford’s sacrifice fly to right scored Davis.

Dusten Knight pitched the top of the ninth. He put two men on base, a double play followed, then a walk, but pinch hitter Charlie White lined out to Relaford at third to end the game.

“We needed this one bad,” Davenport said. “This game was good.”

“We just kept putting it together,” Arroyo said of his club’s performance.

Neff described the team effort as “just trying to make a playoff run.”

Kaiser Permanente targets mid-December opening

Kaiser Permanente’s new Keizer clinic is beginning to show its size and shape in Keizer Station. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Kaiser Permanente’s new Keizer clinic is beginning to show its size and shape in Keizer Station. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

It’s been hard to miss the construction of Kaiser Permanente’s new medical facility.

The 10,000 square foot building in Keizer Station is highly visible to anyone around the shopping area.

Now, we know when the use of the building should be available to anyone.

“It should be opening on December 15 of this year,” Jefferson Mildenberger, Mid-Valley Service Area director, told the Keizertimes last week. “There will be building occupancy before that. The building should be complete about midway through November.”

The projected opening date means new clinics for Keizer at both ends of 2014, as the Silverton Health Keizer Health Center opened on Inland Shores Way back in February.

While the Silverton Health clinic is 10,000 square feet, originally the Kaiser Permanente clinic was going to be much bigger.

“We were going to do 20,000 square feet on two stories originally,” Mildenberger said. “It’s a little smaller than we originally planned for. There was some debate. The other 10,000 (square feet) was going to be room for future growth.”

Mildenberger said the new building will be Kaiser Permanente’s first in the Salem area to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified green.

Kaiser Permanente currently has three medical offices in Salem, in addition to two dental offices and Salem Hospital.

“We’re mostly excited about bringing health care closer to home to Salem and Keizer,” Mildenberger said. “We have about 10,000 members who live there already. It’s not about growing market share, it’s about putting services closer to the people there. This takes some relief off the other buildings.”

Mildenberger said the new facility will offer primary care with six providers, a nurse treatment center, imaging, electrocardiogram (EKG) testing, a pharmacy, phlebotomy, radiology and a lab.

“It’s similar to other Kaiser Permanente facilities,” he said. “When it’s fully built out, it will be twice as big as the one in West Salem.”

Mildenberger noted company officials have been hearing from customers about the upcoming clinic.

“We’re hearing a lot about how it will be so nice to have services closer to home,” he said. “We’ve been in Salem for 36 years. To reinvest and show our commitment is important, to show we are invested.”

Mildenberger doesn’t believe the Kaiser Permanente clinic and the Silverton Health one will be going after the same consumers.

“We don’t consider that direct competition,” he said. “It’s about bringing care closer to the 10,000 members who live there.”

Excitement has surrounded the Kaiser Permanente facility since it was publicly announced in June 2013.

“To have that available in this city is huge,” mayor Lore Christopher said at the time. “Our location is so darn good, in a short time it will be a heavily used clinic. It will draw from all directions, since it will be so much easier to get to.”

Councilor Cathy Clark also greeted the news warmly.

“I think it’s great,” Clark said at the time. “It’s the kind of higher end, high wage, permanent jobs, the kind of office and medical type of jobs we know are complimentary to Salem. I’m very pleased they’ve decided to build here and be part of our business community.”

Christopher predicted more to come.

“I think you’re going to see more medical support businesses come to town now,” she said. “It shows extreme confidence in our city, our policies and especially in our location. There’s no better location than Keizer.”

No slowing this flapper tapper

Eileen Booth, The Flapper Tapper, performs during an event at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community in 2013. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)
Eileen Booth, The Flapper Tapper, performs during an event at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community in 2013. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

Eileen Booth has a goal not shared with most people her age.

Booth, a Salem resident who has been tap dancing around the Keizer and Salem area for years, turns 88 late next month. She’s still going strong and looks forward to setting a record soon.

“My goal is, when I’m 90, I want to be in book of Guinness World Records as the oldest active tap dancer,” said the lady who refers to herself as the Flapper Tapper. “I’m proud of (my age) now. Seniors are proud of it now. They enjoy me. Even the young enjoy me. The exercise keeps me young.”

The native of Nova Scotia noted she started dancing in 1929 at the age of 3 on doctor’s orders since she was born with rickets, a lung disease.

“I had so many bottles of cod liver oil,” she said. “I was so full of life and energy, the doctor said, ‘Put her into some kind of dancing’ and there was a good chance I would come out of it.”

Booth’s mom did just that, using her last few dollars each month to send her to ballet school, followed by tap dancing.

That lasted until Booth was 18 and she decided to go on a different trajectory.

“I love going to school,” she said. “I aimed to be a secretary. I told my mom – who was my manager – one day I wanted to go into a career and get out of tap dancing and I wanted to get married. It broke my mom’s heart. She didn’t take it too well.”

Though she did keep singing, Booth didn’t return to tap dancing again until the age of 70. In the years in between, her career included years working for Pepsi in California. Among other things, she was a secretary for people in the marketing department and learned about how to market herself.

Booth, who once won a beauty contest in California in 1964, still utilizes those lessons. In addition to marketing herself as Flapper Tapper, she performs at a variety of shows and put a video of her dancing on Youtube.

After moving to Oregon 14 years ago, Booth joined a tap dancing group at a senior center for a couple of years before deciding to put together her own show. She won a senior idol contest at Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community in 2011 and impersonated Elvis at a Keizer show in 2007.

“I always did every show on my own,” she said. “I used to do Broadway numbers. I have done Western acts and songs. I put the act together.”

Booth, who won a dancing marathon in 2001, has a collection of old records and costumes.

“I thought it would be a cute idea,” said Booth, who has done shows with the Classic Tap Dance Studio in Keizer. “It wouldn’t be as effective without all the feathers and fringe. I have a new outfit, black with all fringes.”

In addition to the dancing, Booth also plays ukelele with a group run by Janet and Ron Romine. Janet and her mom are now both close friends to Booth. The Romines help put Booth’s music on CDs for her performances.

“One of the first times Eileen came to class, she looked at me and said, ‘I don’t have a daughter, so you’re my chosen daughter,’” Romine recalled with a chuckle.

Romine lets Booth perform last with the ukelele group.

“Eileen is the show stealer, so she goes last,” Romine said. “To see her in action, most performers get worried. Eileen does not. That’s when she blossoms. She’s a natural performer. She knows how to work an audience. She absolutely inspires me and is a role model.”

Romine has a story of how much dancing is a part of Booth’s life.

“We went to World Beat two years ago,” she said. “Eileen has a rain bonnet and her high heels on. She’s really tired, but she hears the drums going. Eileen drops her purse and runs to dance with the African drummers. She’s dancing in those heels on the wet grass.”

Booth said dancing keeps her in great shape.

“I love entertaining,” she said. “I don’t feel old. The only time I look or feel old is when I look in the mirror.”

Booth’s next performance will be next week at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. She will be performing at 12:45 p.m. on the main stage in the food court on Monday, Aug. 25. The following day, the ukelele group will be performing from 11 a.m. to noon, with Booth playing at 11:45.

Each time she takes the stage, Booth remembers the thrill she first felt as a young girl.

“I was hooked,” she said. “I’m still hooked.”

It’s depressing

The death of Robin Williams was met with shock and universal acclaim for one of our time’s most beloved performers. About 22 veterans take their lives each day in this country, a majority of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Many try to conjure up reasons why Williams took his own life. We  are aware of the conditions military veterans face after their return from war zones. We can never know the heart and mind of another person, we can only see the surface and come up with our own theories.

What is known is that Williams, who was 63, was suffering from depression. Was his depression caused by the onset of Parkinson’s disease? Money problems? Growing older in an industry that values youth? In the end it doesn’t matter; the comedian deemed death a solution to his problems.

Depession is a form of mental illness. We speak not of the once-in-a-while blues everyone gets, but of clinical depression that can be debilitating and treated with medications.

An estimated 10 percent of adults suffer from depression. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, authorized by Congress in 1998, recommends that health-care providers screen adults for depression. It also recommends an approach that involves the collaboration of primary care providers, mental health specialists and other providers to improve disease management for adults with major depression.

Current depression (symptoms for at least the previous two weeks) was determined based on responses to the Patient Health Questionnaire, which covers eight of the nine criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

A person is considered to have major depression if, for “more than half the days,” they reported meeting at least five of the eight criteria, including at least one of the following: little interest or pleasure in doing things, or, feeling down, depressed, or hopeless.

The other criteria are: trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping too much, feeling tired or having little energy, poor appetite or overeating, feeling bad about themselves or that they were a failure or let theselves or their  family down, trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television, and moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed…or the opposite: being so fidgety or restless that you were moving around a lot more than usual.

There are many causes of depression such as medical issues, financial situation, relationship issues, job loss or unemployment, and on and on. The outward clinical symptoms, as listed above, should be a red flag for the friends and families of those exhibiting them.

People should be cognizant of the long-term symptons of depression in their loved ones. In our society, mental illness carries a stigma. Depression takes center stage when it results in the death of a well-known person like Williams. The country talks about depression or mental illness for a few days and then moves on to the next news item.

Dr. Jean Kim wrote in The Daily Best: “Too often, people are quick to stigmatize depression and other mental illnesses as forms of moral weakness or lack of willpower, especially in individualistic America.”

Robin Williams’ death should be the final push that opens wide the door to discussion about mental health and depression. It may be uncomfortable for some to have such a public dialogue about something that is private and personal, but the alternative can be devastating. Parents, siblings, adult children, teachers, coaches and leaders of any kind should be given the message that inquiring about a person’s mental health is not an invasion of privacy but a true concern for their well-being.

We lose more than 20 veterans each day and we’ve lost Robin Williams to depression and suicide. This isn’t a government issue or a pharma issue, it is an issue for all of us, to do what we can to help those we care for that may be suffering from mental health issues. It’s past the time to take discussion and treatment for depression and health illness issues of the closest and bring it out into the open.—LAZ

Thanks to those who made Rib Feast a major success

To the Editor:

Thank you for sharing our story of the Aug. 4 Rib Feast. However, Dan and I were not alone in our efforts and support of the Navy-Coast Guard Wounded Warriors.

We personally want to thank Keizerites Maleah Richard (Kitchen Queen) and daughter Brittany, Linda Carbajal, Nancy Varner, Gene and Betty Olson, Dave Dougall, Ruth Richard, Shane and Ashley Rogers, neighbors Kelly French and Anne Meeks, as well as Copper Creek Mercantile-Dennis Blackman, Roth’s Hayesville-Jeff UIven, Keizer Safeway, Jones Farm Produce, and Cash & Carry.

Also our daughters, Cara Meredith and Aleah Dayton who worked behind the scenes from California and Washington… and others who volunteered and contributed.

God bless you all.

No’el and Dan MacDonald

Rand Paul’s bogus outreach


Why should Republicans engage in outreach to African-Americans, even though the level of suspicion is so high and the yield in votes is likely to be so low?

Even among some reform-oriented conservatives, what might be called the Kemp project—after the late Rep. Jack Kemp, who spent a career engaged in minority outreach—is viewed as a secondary concern. They consistently pitch their approach toward the middle class—in part to distinguish it from previous iterations of compassionate or “bleeding heart” (Kemp’s phrase) conservatism. The cover of the reform conservative manifesto—Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class—features a lawn mower on fresh-cut grass. The conservative rebirth will evidently spring from suburban yards on a lazy Saturday morning.

Yes, Republicans desperately require policies responsive to the economic anxieties of middle-income voters. Democrats are significantly more trusted on a variety of middle-class issues. But the public critique of the GOP is not merely: “They don’t care enough about the middle class.” It is, rather: “They don’t care enough about the whole.” The Republican task is not merely to shift an impression of interest-group allegiance away from big business and toward suburban families (though this would be an improvement). It is to demonstrate that conservative ideology is applicable to the common good.

In this effort, outreach to African-Americans is actually central. A party that does not forthrightly address the single largest source of division in American history and American life—now dramatized in the tear gas haze of Ferguson, Mo. —is not morally or intellectually serious. And even as a political matter, women voters, Catholic voters and younger voters would prefer a chief executive who seeks the interests of all Americans, including those unlikely to vote for him or her. A commitment to national unity is an indicator of public character. The Kemp project has never been more urgent for Republicans.

So it is notable when a Republican presidential prospect such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky attempts to address issues of concern to African-Americans. In the context of Ferguson, Paul has emphasized his opposition to the overuse of prisons and the militarization of policing as expressions of “big government.” One result has been a serious media crush. “He continues,” by one account, “to set himself apart from others in the Republican Party with the hope of expanding the party’s coalition.”

Precisely because this effort is so important, it is also important to point out: The Kemp project, placed in Rand Paul’s hands, would be an utter, counterproductive failure.

Kemp, you might remember, had both a personal history—as a pro-civil rights union representative in the American Football League—and a political ideology suited to outreach. He conceived an active role for government in empowering individuals and reclaiming urban communities.

Paul has his own history. He employed, as a close Senate aide, a writer who styled himself the “Southern Avenger” and who authored a column titled John Wilkes Booth Was Right. This personnel decision would have been impossible to imagine from Kemp. But it points out the deep affinity between certain strains of libertarianism and The Lost Cause. While running for the Senate, Paul criticized the centerpiece of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—the part desegregating public accommodations—because it conflicted with his libertarian conception of property rights. And Rand Paul, of course, worked for a presidential candidate in 2012 (his father, Ron Paul) who claimed that the Civil Rights Act “violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty” and argued that the Civil War was a senseless mistake.

Meanwhile, Paul’s 2013 proposal for a balanced budget in five years—which would have eviscerated large portions of the federal government and weakened the social safety net —was less of a blueprint for reform than a demolition order.

Paul has risen to prominence by employing a political trick, which is already growing old. He emphasizes the sliver of his libertarianism that gets nods of agreement (say, rolling back police excesses) while ignoring the immense, discrediting baggage of his ideology (say, discomfort with federal civil rights law or belief in a minimal state incapable of addressing poverty and stalled mobility).

As a senator, this tactic has worked. But were Paul to become the GOP presidential nominee, the media infatuation would end, and any Democratic opponent would have a field day with Paul’s disturbing history and cramped ideology. On racial issues, the GOP needs a successor to Kemp —and an alternative to Paul.

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Imagine a two-year break from D.C.

How about a fantasy to occupy the reader’s fancy during the waning days of summer?  Here’s one that occurred to me on a torrid August day this past week.

How about sending the 535 members of Congress, the president and nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court on leave along with their multitude of staffers until a new president is installed in January, 2017.  Think of the savings that’d occur with these folks gone until a new president is in office, two and one-half years from now.  Their salaries alone exceed millions of dollars, as each member of Congress receives at least $174,000 in direct pay alone; the president’s salary is $400,000 with the White House overflowing with aides, while the justices each receive $213,000 and all their legal beagle helpers.

Why?  Well, for openers, congressional ratings are so low there’s no space between where they lie in lack-of-public-approval and daylight. More Americans than at any other time think their representative or senator ought to find legitimate work.

The Republicans are forecast to gain as many as 12 seats in the House, strengthening their hold on the majority.  Gerrymandering rules!  Meanwhile, they have shown a total lack of willingness to work with President Obama while the Senate, whose Democrat majority is threatened, can get little done due to partisan fighting and, when it does vote in favor of anything, it soon dies in the House. Obama has used his executive power but can do nearly nothing about overripe domestic issues.

The bottom line is the American people would be considerably better off if everything government in Washington, D.C. would take a powder for a chance that the nation would heal and that, afterwards, its elected representative would work in Washington.  Maybe even the House, under new members and leadership in 2017, would find something constructive to do other than the ill-advised threats to Obama. Hence, leave the states alone to work out their needs without federal meddling that amounts to nothing more than unwarranted costs to middle class Americans.

If everything D.C. shut down for a healthy period, the states could use their tax dollars to accomplish matters of pressing local importance.  It’s interesting that for the states in the old Confederacy, those whose citizens complain about the federal government and want it smaller, are in fact the states that receive the greatest financial benefit from big government.  For example, for every dollar Mississippi sends to Washington, D.C., it receives $2.02 back.  A person guesses that in Mississippi, those folks hold their noses while they Dixie-down the “bacon,” turning a blind eye to the fact that over 40 percent of their state’s budget is complements of Washington.

In Oregon, we’d do better if we could get away from the federal government octopus for two and a half years, as we receive $0.93 for every dollar we send back East. Incidentally, out of the collection of states in the old Confederacy, only Florida (97 cents) and Texas at (94 cents) give more than they get.

If things were broken up into smaller bite-size pieces for what could be a healing length of time, the Tea Partiers and all the anti-government saboteurs might think twice about being so against everything American. Those people are only interested in what serves themselves and no one else: so they can do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it, wherever they want to do it.

It is not the view of this writer that every government official and employee is bad news.  However, it would appear that a lop-sided majority of them are bad news.  Something fairly drastic is in order in hope it would break the grossly broken dysfunction that represents Washington, D.C., circa 2014.  So, let’s give this fantasy a chance.  It’s a plan whose time is overdue.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. His column appears regularly in the Keizertimes.)