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

Month: December 2016

An equation for disaster?

Americans have heard it more than once: “I’ll bet he is turning over in his grave,” when a matter occurs that we know would greatly upset a certain deceased person.

I think of Alexander Hamilton when I think of a person from the past who’d likely be rolling over in his grave if such an event ever happens.  What would do it to him?  The outcome of the nation’s Electoral College meeting and vote.

From the founding of our republic, members of the Electoral College have had a constitutional responsibility to vote for a qualified person to be the president of our nation. At the urging of Hamilton, the Electoral College was made a part of the Constitution to make certain that every president—including the 45th, now waiting in the wings for January 20—must be competent and capable to perform the duties of the office.

Hamilton and the other founding fathers were cautious in their faith of voters to be good judges but had the foresight to realize that sometime in the future, voters might not select a candidate with the right stuff sufficient to be president. It has been argued of late, in no uncertain terms, that Donald J. Trump lacks the temperament and ability, causing him to be unfit for America’s most important political job.

They met in Washington, D.C. on December 19 and gave their votes in sufficient number to elect Trump.  Millions of Americans are disappointed in them. I am one of the disappointed and thereby fear for our future.  My reason, in brief, is a deep and abiding  anxiousness for the fate of my nation in shoot-from-the-hip hands. Further, my view of the Electoral College is that it’s a dismal failure and should now be abolished in future in favor of the popular vote.

A selective  list of concerns about Trump includes the following: he listens only to himself, his children and son-in-law + he’s not accountable or transparent + he’s committed to making money first and foremost + he’s not been able to elaborate on his program and policy changes and will allow the most backward-looking to rule the nation + he’s selected mainly super-wealthy persons and military warhawks to his cabinet +  several of his appointments will dismantle federal departments that help Main Street Americans + he promises to end, by substituting something “wonderful,” the Affordable Care Act now insuring former uninsured millions of Americans + he promises to do away with regulations on business and industry that protect the environment for all and keep American workers safe + he lacks a sense of propriety + and he has all the makings of an American president who neither respects nor believes in democratic principles and practices = Angst.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)

Keizer woman wins ‘Super Bowl’ of Rodeo

Amber Moore won the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing competition in Las Vegas earlier this month. The NFR is the premier rodeo event in the nation. (Submitted)
Amber Moore won the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo barrel racing competition in Las Vegas earlier this month. The NFR is the premier rodeo event in the nation. (Submitted)

Of the Keizertimes

In September, most of the women who were headed to the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) earlier this month had already secured their spot. Keizer’s Amber “Amberleigh” Moore was still on the bubble.

“I was ranked about 16th or 17th and only the top 15 get to go. It’s all based on total winnings from the last year,” said Moore.

She didn’t expect to be as close as she was. This year was supposed to set up a run at the “Super Bowl of Rodeo” in 2017, but her horse Paige, who competes as CP Dark Moon, had been defying expectations all year long.

Moore, who grew up in Eugene and moved to Keizer about 16 years ago, has been riding barrel races competitively for as long as she can remember. For just as long, she’s held tightly to a dream of making it to the big stage in Las Vegas, which hosts the NFR.

“It’s the thing that every little girl who starts out riding dreams of,” Moore, 48, said.

Moore turned pro three years ago, about the same time that she bought Paige, who was 3 years old at the time, from a friend-of-a-friend in Blackwood, Idaho.

“You move up when you get a horse that comes along that takes you where you want to go. It’s not easy and it’s highly competitive. You have to make sure you have a horse that’s ready for that when you head out the door,” Moore said.

In the years since, Paige has become a beast of the barrel racing circuit. Starting this past spring, Moore and Paige have won or placed in nearly every competition they set their sights on.

“Through her career, she has broken records and done everything I could ask her to do. This year, I wanted to position her for all the things I wanted her to do next year, like going to the NFR. They say the first year is the learning curve, and you learn what is going to be needed for the second year. Paige skipped that and went right to the top,” Moore said.

All of it led up to being on the bubble when Labor Day rolled around earlier this year.

After learning how close she was to making it to the NFR, Moore and Paige set out on a journey that took them to 19 rodeos in 23 days and covered more than 6,000 miles, mostly through the midwest and southwest.

“It meant picking up our lives and hitting the road, but that thought is always at the back of your mind when you have a horse like Paige. When you have a chance like this that only 15 other people get each year, you have to take it,” Moore said.

Moore and Paige led the aggregate score heading into the seventh round, but tipped a barrel in the penultimate race. They spent some time working together in the early morning hours before the final race and came back to win the eighth lap with a time of 13.37 seconds – tying the Thomas & Mack Center record set in 2013 – and winning the whole thing. In addition to a $26,000 purse and a Super Bowl-like ring for winning the NFR, Moore racked up nearly $160,000 in other winnings just to make it to the NFR.

The reality of her accomplishment is still setting in, but Moore said she’s never felt anything like it.

“This is the hardest rodeo to make it into. It’s the big stage in Las Vegas and there is nothing more thrilling than running down that track. Now we get to compete against the biggest and best there is,” she said.

Local nonprofit has near-perfect record in resheltering families


Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer City Council got a glimpse into one of the more successful organizations tackling the problem of homelessness in the mid-Willamette Valley.

Recently-arrived Keizer resident TJ Putman briefly spoke to the council about his work as executive director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), a non-profit collective of 19 local churches transitioning homeless families into homes of their own.

“We’re having great outcomes. You guys are making a difference in homelessness and you probably didn’t even know it,” Putman said.

Salem and Keizer partner as a joint jurisdiction to tap into the HOME Investment Partnership Program offered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

IHN receives about $200,000 annually to help rehouse families with children, but services it has developed around that core need have led to a 96 percent success rate once families move out of temporary shelter.

Each week, an IHN church – including St. Edward Catholic Church in Keizer – opens up its doors to homeless families who receive a meal and spend the evening there before returning to the IHN day site in west Salem to prepare for school and work. Keizer’s Salem Mennonite Church and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are supporting congregations, but do not host.

“Volunteers from the churches and the community prepare meals for families and there is always an overnight volunteer to help in case of emergencies,” said Putman.

As families progress through IHN’s continuum of care, they can eventually qualify for housing assistance that covers security deposits and assists with rent payment. The families themselves contribute a minimum of $50 and as much as a third of their income depending on their resources.

It costs about $3,500 per family to make the leap from homelessness to their own living space.

The goal is for every family to enter their own home after leaving the church sheltering program, but Putman attributes its high success rate to the supplemental services IHN wraps around each family.

“We know that parents want a better life for their kids, so we have case managers that work with families on everything from parenting to budgeting and conflict resolution,” Putman said.

Last year, IHN added an on-site pet facility that has served more than a dozen cats, dogs and one snake in the past year.

“The reality is that for someone facing the most difficult time of their life, they will choose to sleep outside rather than be separated from their pets so we added that to our services,” Putman said.

Even after graduating to a space of their own, families continue to work with IHN case managers, which helps bolster the effort to remain independent.

IHN started in 1999 with eight churches and has more than doubled since then. Unfortunately, need is also on the rise. Putman said IHN has seen a 31 percent increase in requests for services in the past year and has had to turn away 40 to 50 families each month.

The squeeze is partly the result of the lack of affordable housing in the area, he said.

“On average there is somewhere between a .5 and 4 percent vacancy rate in the available housing stock each month. Only about a quarter of that is available to people who struggle,” he said. “Currently, there are 3,400 people on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in Salem and Keizer and the list is closed. Housing everyone on the list right now might take three years or more.”

To make a contribution or view the IHN “wish list,” visit

New store is Lego HQ in Keizer

Matthew Bauman is the new owner of Bricks & Minifigs on River Road North in Keizer. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Matthew Bauman is the new owner of Bricks & Minifigs on River Road North in Keizer. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Matthew Bauman, the franchise owner of the new Bricks & Minifigs on River Road North, knew that local Lego enthusiasts were looking forward to the store opening. Still, the response surprised him.

“I was away from the shop for a little while on the first day and called my wife. She told me there were 20 people in the store shopping and to get back as soon as possible. It feels like everyone has been very excited and welcoming,” said Bauman.

Bauman opened the shop, located at  3670 River Road N., about three weeks ago and a steady stream of customers was still flowing through the doors in the run up to Christmas.

“We have a lot of people shopping for new sets as gifts, but we’ve also sold a lot of bulk bricks and taken in a lot of trades which has helped us build our stock,” Bauman said.

The Bricks & Minifigs franchise started with a shop in Canby and that was where Bauman rekindled his love for a childhood passion.

“I took my kids, Luka and Liesl, there and then we pulled out some of my old sets and saw how well everything fit together,” Bauman said.

When he and his wife, Sarah, were looking for a new business opportunity, Sarah asked how he would feel if a Bricks & Minifigs shop opened up in the area and he wasn’t the owner. It led to them purchasing the franchise last April and they’ve spent the last seven months preparing for the opening while working in vacations and business trips.

“I knew it would be more fun to be in control,” Bauman said.

Brick & Minifigs stock-in-trade is the rebuilding, reusing and reimagining of the Lego world that is rapidly approaching its 75th year. Bauman’s store has sets big and small for casual fans and die hard builders. Those with old sets or even a collection of mismatched parts can trade them in for store credit or cash where they will be resold as complete sets or broken down into bulk bins that can be purchased by the bag.

Bauman said the attraction for most builders is the store stock of minifigs. Glass cabinets contain them by the hundreds and they can be purchased individually.

“A lot of times, someone will lose a figure that completes a set and we try to have a big selection on hand,” Bauman said.

It’s also a way to build out armies of figures like Star Wars Stormtroopers.

Brick & Minifigs also carries a selection of third party items compatible with Legos.

“The one thing Lego doesn’t make a lot of is weapons, but there are people who want to recreate Civil War battles. We have weapons that would fit that style and even things like tanks,” Bauman said.

They can also host birthday parties on site. Attendees will have access to a derby track and access to enough Legos to let their imaginations wander. They also get to leave with a minifig.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 503-390-1830.

Top 10 sports stories of 2016

Deven Hunter kisses the Final Four trophy after the Lady Beavers upset Baylor in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. (Submitted)
Deven Hunter kisses the Final Four trophy after the Lady Beavers upset Baylor in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. (Submitted)

#10 McNary’s new gym floor

McNary High School renovated its gymnasium thanks to $20,000 provided by the Athletic Booster Club.

The project included painting both levels of the gym, along with refinishing the 15-year-old floor to include a McNary “M” at center court with ‘McNary” and “Celtics” at each baseline.

Work began as soon as school let out on June 15.

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place in August.

“It’s much overdue, a much needed project,” ABC vice president Scott Kiser said.

Like the turf field the summer before, Kiser noted the new floor will be a benefit to the entire school and community.

“So many groups use this gym,” he said.

“It was one of those projects where we’re not focusing on just one sport and our goal is to not just focus on one sport per project. Like our turf, lacrosse, soccer, football, in here you’re going to have wrestling, volleyball, basketball, plus all their assemblies and everything they’re going to do. These are projects that we are doing that affect a large population of the school and our community.”

#9 Cavell Player of the Year

McNary senior Harry Cavell, who averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals per game, was selected the unanimous Greater Valley Conference Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

“It’s awesome and it’s affirmation that all my hard work has paid off a little bit,” Cavell said of the Player of the Year honor. “But it’s just as much a testament to my team. There are a lot of good players who don’t stand out because of their teams.”

McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said that attitude is what he’s appreciated most about having Cavell as a player for the Celtics.

“He’s a mature kid with poise and a confident attitude that the other players in our program gravitate to,” Kirch said. “It helps unite the group as a whole because his expectations mirror what we expect as a program.”

Defensive Player of the Year awards also went to McNary as junior Matthew Ismay shared the boys honor with Joe Carey of South Salem and sophomore Kailey Doutt won the girls award.

“This means that coaches can trust me to guard the best players every game,” Ismay said.

The Lady Celts led the GVC in points allowed and Doutt had a big part in that.

“Kailey is a spark plug for the whole defensive side of our game and has shown just how deep the buy-in is for our defensive schemes,” said Derick Handley, McNary head coach.

Doutt said the award was a result of an approach to the game that she’s practiced from a young age.

“I have always been taught that defense wins games. It’s what my dad, who was my coach when I was younger, always focused on,” she said. “It means a lot because I’ve been trying to work hard on it. I really feel blessed and thankful.”

#8 McNary boys bowl near-perfect game

On its way to winning a district title, McNary’s boys bowling team, made up of Nick Blythe, Tim Kiser, Jerome Ricks, Bailey Lee and Donny Grunbough, knocked down 298 of a possible 300 pins to nearly bowl a perfect game in the semifinals of the tournament.

“I was jumping up and down after every strike,” said Grubough.

“Everybody in the place stopped to watch us,” said Kiser.

“It was stadium-level loud,” added Blythe.

The almost-perfect effort capped a three-game series that began with scores of 262 and 224.

“It was the most incredible stretch I’ve ever seen in more than 20 years as a coach,” said coach Dan Kaplan

At the end of the semifinals, which consists of 10 games, McNary was 321 pins ahead of the second place team. The Celts finished ahead 377-249 for the two finals games.

Blythe, a three-year veteran of the team who’s already got several 300 games as a solo performer, said the experience was his most memorable yet.

“It was the most fun I’ve had in three years, and this is the best team I’ve ever been part of,” Blythe said.

For the entire top ten, see the December 23 print edition of Keizertimes.

Eclipse event gets fee waivers


Of the Keizertimes

At its meeting Monday, Dec. 19, the Keizer City Council approved fee waivers totaling a little more than $1,000 for the upcoming Keizer Eclipse 2017. Totally! event.

The Keizer Parks Foundation (KPF) is planning an event at Keizer Rapids Park to mark the passage of a total solar eclipse over Keizer in August 2017 and intends to donate any proceeds back to the city as dedicated parks funds.

Permits for the event were recently approved and led to the request for fee waivers, which to a large extent represent foregone revenue.

KPF requested waivers totaling $1,021 including $55 for an amphitheater permit, a $150 refundable deposit, $776 for four days worth of use fees and $40 for four days of electricity costs.

The council agreed to waive the costs with a unanimous vote.

Mayor Cathy Clark contended that waiving the fees for the eclipse event differed from recent requests by the Keizer Chamber of Commerce to waive some costs for the Holiday Lights Parade two weeks ago.

“One of the reasons I am considering this is because this event will come back to the city in the form of a donation to general fund for Keizer Parks. It’s a wash and we have the potential to receive far more than the $1,000 we are waiving,” Clark said.

Organizers hope to raise as much as $26,000 for city parks through the event.

“I look at this event as a big deal in promoting Keizer and I think it’s a great investment for the city,” said Councilor Roland Herrera.

In other business:

• The council approved changes to the city’s marijuana sales regulations including allowing recreational sales shops to also make medicinal sales. Keizer’s three pot shops currently operate under “early sales” models, but are classified as dispensaries. All three shops are expected to convert to recreational sales as the early sales window closes Dec. 31. An additional change will mean the owners will not have to redo background checks on current employees.

• The council approved plans for the parks survey to be sent out to the first half of city residents with the December water billed that will be issued Dec. 29.

The city general fund will absorb the $1,000 cost of sending out the surveys with the bills. It will also be available online. City officials are asking residents about their priorities regarding Keizer’s 19 parks and to what extent they would be willing to support a fee to create a dedicated parks fund.
Additional volunteer outreach is planned with details being hammered out in the coming weeks.

McNary assistant principal moonlights in the dojo

Rhonda Rhodes, an assistant principal at McNary High School, instructs Rosemary Kirk, top, and Ilari Ramirez. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)
Rhonda Rhodes, an assistant principal at McNary High School, instructs Rosemary Kirk, top, and Ilari Ramirez. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

Of the Keizertimes

Rhonda Rhodes, an assistant principal at McNary High School, remembers life before she was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu as a college student at Oregon State.

“I was one of those people that was capable but I’m certain I had ADHD before they diagnosed it,” Rhodes said. “When I was in school in the ’80s and early ’90s, that wasn’t a thing and if it was, I’m sure they would have decided that I had that. I had a lot of potential and I didn’t quite have the self control to reach it. Martial arts was the first thing that I really wanted bad enough to learn those skills and become self disciplined.”

After taking her first martial arts class at age 19, Rhodes was working out six days a week in between Corvallis and Salem by the time she graduated. Rhodes moved to Boston in 2004, joined a boxing gym and then began teaching lessons.

Her combined experiences have made her an ideal Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) judge for the Oregon State Athletic Commission. But she’s never competed in the octagon herself.

“By the time that was a popular mainstream thing for women to do, I was mid to upper 30s and had already had two reconstructive knee surgeries,” Rhodes said. “It’s something that if it would have been popular when I was 20, I would’ve loved to compete. By the time it was popularized, judging was probably a better fit for me.”

Rhodes returned to Oregon in 2007 and in 2010 decided to give back. With two friends, a physician at Salem Hospital and a software engineer, they opened Zanshin Arts, a non-profit dojo in Salem.

When designing the dojo, they thought if we could do whatever we wanted, what would we do?

“What’s probably the coolest part of it, when you open up your own space and you have your own class, you can kind of do whatever you want,” Rhodes said. “Our children’s class, we found out a couple of our kids had never been to the beach so we just took them all.”

Being a non-profit was essential and unique.

“It’s kind of unheard of,” Rhodes said. “We decided to go that route because in different places we’ve seen money do bad things to the martial arts so we’re kind of idealist. In Boston, there was a person training in the class and I thought he’s dangerous. I don’t want him touching my other students. I don’t want him here. He needs to go and the other instructor who was running that club said we need his dues. We’ve actually had great people walk through our door and I haven’t had a situation where I think someone is dangerous but if I did, they just wouldn’t be there.”

While Zanshin does have monthly memberships for those who can afford it, scholarships are also available and they don’t charge exam or belt fees.

“The belt they earn taking their exam is their gift from the dojo,” Rhodes said. “When I was going up through the ranks, I’ve paid my exam fees and then if you pass the exam, some of that fee goes toward the belt. I didn’t have this experience personally with my own schools that I trained in but I’ve seen schools where if they are low on funds, then they’ll hold a bunch of exams. It just compromises the integrity and the idealism of what you’re trying to do and your rankings and things like that. We want you to feel like you took the exam because we believe in you and knew you were ready. When you’ve been working hard and we think you’re at that level and you’re ready, we give that exam and then the belt. You’ve earned it so the dojo provides that to you. It just helps us keep the idealism and integrity intact.”

When a child passes an exam, the entire class celebrates together, usually at the Subway next door.

“No one gets better by themselves. It’s impossible,” Rhodes said. “You have teachers and training partners. We started with the children. We wanted them to be happy for each other and not jealous of each other so when there is a promotion, we take the kids next door to Subway and they all go through the line and they get treats and drinks and things there. It’s also our chance to talk to them about the way they conduct themselves in public. They’re wearing their uniforms so they represent us and they always show impeccable manners. That’s a way for them to have self control outside of our environment even though it’s right next door. But it’s fun and they enjoy it.”

Zanshin also encourages its kids to be charitable. One year, they sponsored a family at McNary, raised $1,000, bought them all presents and delivered them.

Rhodes and her colleagues spent about a year and half looking for, designing and then building a space. Contractors did most of the work but the educator, doctor and software engineer built the 1,600 square football mat with spring floor underneath themselves.

“I had bleeding fingers from building it,” Rhodes said. “When we bought our space, the exterior of the building was done but the floor was just gravel so we got to design it. It’s the most fun place. It’s a playground for us. All of the different bags and equipment we have for striking, any strike you might want to practice, whether it’s a flying knee or a dropping elbow, we’ve got a striking station for that.  We thought what do you want to do and what would be the perfect way to practice that and we bought it. It was kind of our labor of love. We have the coolest bags that you can weave under. We have uppercuts and knees and elbows. We have all this great equipment.”

Zanshin, which translates to “focus” in Japanese, offers classes for both children and adults, emphasizing self discipline, control, confidence and behavior.

“Sometimes I look at our kids and we’ll get a kid that maybe an outsider will think is a total spaz and I know that was me,” Rhodes said. “So when we work with that kid over time and they learn how to control themselves, I know that’s going to affect every part of their lives because I know it did for me. We’ll get kids with bad attitudes. I was certainly capable of having an attitude. Saying whatever you feel like doesn’t get you very far and learning the right times to say the right things does so as we teach that to our kids. I feel like I can give them what someone else volunteered and gave their time to me. That keeps us going.”

2016 is almost over. Whew.

What’s that big sound? It is a collective, national exhaling at the relief that we are at the final week of the year.  Most would agree that 2016 was annus horribilis.

The holidays well be a much needed distraction from the woes and worries of the world. This year brought too much suffering, anger, fighting, terrorism. All topped off with fake news that too many people take for truth without question.

Can a time period such as a year really be horrible? This year had 12 months, 52 weeks and 366 days like any other year. A year can be great or bad depending on how our individual lives are going. It’s not a bad year for someone who received a big raise or found a living wage job after a period of unemployment.  It might be called a bad year if a couple was going through a marital break-up or if a loved one passed before their time.

The American people are a good people. We cheer when others win; we cry when others lose, but generally we are on the side of our fellow citizens. Two thousand sixteen gave us plenty of things to cry about, but that should not define us as a nation.

Our nation and our world is too mature for us to look at it through rose-colored glasses, yet, believing in the spirit and the goodness of people should be our default position.

Life is either something that we let happen to us, or we help shape our life. People in general are  not powerless, unless they accept the belief that they are.

Like all things precious, it takes struggle, dedication and perseverence to make life what we wish it to be.

Many may say 2016 was a horrible year and be depressed about what may come in 2017. We can accept what happens without comment or action, or we can, as we Americans always do, rise to the occasion.

They say that life is what you make it; it’s also true that life is what you believe it is.   —LAZ

Honoring human dignity


It is one of fate’s cruel jokes that conservatism should be at its modern nadir just as the Republican Party is at its zenith—if conservatism is defined as embracing limited government, displaying a rational, skeptical and moderate temperament and believing in the priority of the moral order.

All these principles are related, and under attack.

Conservatives believe that human beings are fallible and prone to ambition, passion and selfishness. They (actually, we) tend to become swaggering dictators in realms where we can act with impunity—a DMV office, a hostile traffic stop, a country under personal rule. It is the particular genius of the American system to balance ambition against ambition through a divided government (executive, legislative and judicial). The American system employs human nature to limit the power of the state—assuming that every branch of government is both dedicated to the common good and jealous of its own power.

Conservatives believe that finite and fallen creatures are often wrong. We know that many of our attitudes and beliefs are the brain’s justification for pre-rational tendencies and desires. This does not make perception of truth impossible, or truth itself relative, but it should encourage healthy self-examination and a suspicion of all forms of fanaticism. All of us have things to learn, even from our political opponents. The truth is out there, but it is generally broken into pieces and scattered across the human experience. We only reassemble it through listening and civil communication.

And conservatives believe that a just society depends on the moral striving of finite and fallen creatures, who treat each other with a respect and decency that laws can encourage but not enforce. Such virtues, often rooted in faith, are what turn families and communities into the nurseries of citizenship. These institutions not only shape good people, they inculcate the belief that human beings have a dignity that, while often dishonored, can never be effaced. In the midst of all our justified skepticism, we can never be skeptical of this: that the reason for politics is to honor the equal value of every life, beginning with the weakest and most vulnerable. No bad goal—say, racial purity or communist ideology—outweighs this commitment. And no good goal—the efficiency of markets or the pursuit of greater equality—does either.

So how do we get this set of beliefs and commitments when they seem in short supply? It is hopeless to demand results from an organic process—to order the grass to grow faster. But this type of conservatism —a conservatism of intellectual humility and moral aspiration—also has the advantage of being an organic process. It grows with tenacity in hidden places, eventually breaking down the cement and asphalt of our modern life. It appeals to people who would never call themselves conservatives —who probably wouldn’t use words like “nadir” and “zenith”—who provide examples of hard work, personal responsibility, unfailing decency, family commitment, quiet faith, inspiring compassion and resilience in adversity. They are the potential recruits of a humane political conservatism.

This is not the political force that has recently taken over the Republican Party—with a plurality in the presidential primaries and a narrow victory in November. That has been the result of extreme polarization, not a turn toward enduring values. The movement is authoritarian in theory, apocalyptic in mood, prone to conspiracy theories and personal abuse, and dismissive of ethical standards. The president-elect seems to offer equal chances of constitutional crisis and utter, debilitating incompetence.

The plausible case that Russian espionage materially contributed to the election of an American president has been an additional invitation to anger. Now, not only the quality but also the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake. This extreme threat would seem to require a commensurately radical response—some way to change the outcome.

But what is the proper conservative response? It is to live within the boundaries of law and reality. There is no certain way to determine if Russian influence was decisive. And no serious constitutional recourse seems to remain. While open to other options, I see none. It will now fall to citizens and institutions to (1) defend the legislature and judiciary from any encroachment, (2) defend every group of people from organized oppression, including Muslims and refugees, (3) expand and defend the institutions —from think tanks to civil liberty organizations—that make the case for a politics that honors human dignity. And pray for the grass to grow.    

(Washington Post Writers Group)

Real news and real local


Merry Christmas, Keizertimes. As a community we are lucky to have such a healthy and civic-minded weekly paper as a vital organ.  Our family has lived in Keizer for a little over 30 years.  By a sort of contented default we’ve slowly learned to believe this is home. And Keizertimes is our hometown newspaper.   

I’m only familiar with Salem and Portland newspapers but if they are representative of how other towns are served by their local papers it only emphasizes how uniquely fortunate we are.

We are trained to believe that shareholder profit is the be-all/end-all of every corporate endeavor.  That is turning the Salem paper into a pale imitation of its former self.  The editorial page now appears only sporadically.  Maybe that matters only to a few, but it is the only means of conversation that includes both the people that produce the paper and those that read it. Editorial statements and opinions also give you some insight into those who have the privilege of choosing what news you get to see each day.

A major portion of column-inches in the Salem paper is given over to USA Today, a Gannett insert. It seems like reliable reporting but also seems like removing the local editors’ choices as to what story might be relevant to local readers.  And the deadline pressure of being printed off-site means local sports stories are historical in nature.

When I moved to Keizer I used to brag to out-of-town family and friends about how wonderful Portland’s major paper was. Compared to Seattle, Spokane, and Alaska dailies I had known it was the best. It is silly to weep over the decline of printed daily newspapers—they must answer to financial reality.  Still, the Portland paper has devolved from banquet to thin gruel. I admire the remaining staff for soldiering on, knowing they are being done in by the American attention span.    

Our most recent presidential campaign is the perfect example of damage done by abandoning printed media as source for news. Many of the people I know and love supported or despised either candidate for reasons unsupported by fact. Newspapers are held accountable for what they print. Facebook is not. Twitter is not. Being buried alive in mud makes it impossible to examine each speck of dirt.

Yet the Keizertimes prospers. My children went to local schools.  We shop at local stores. We are safe in the protection of local services and utilities.  This paper is knowingly assembled by people who live here and like it.  Keizertimes always covers things that are happening in the town where I live, and generously offers space to local citizens to speak up.

So, speak up I shall.  Merry Christmas, Keizertimes and thanks for staying true to the cause.  And a Merry Christmas to all local readers who make it possible.  With your support we can do this again next year.

(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)