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Month: February 2018

“How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig

“How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig
c.2017, Viking
$26.00 U.S.
328 pages

Book review by Terri Schlichenmeyer.


The big hand is on the “12.”

And the little hand is, well, you’ve known how to tell time since you were small. It’s something you do so naturally now that you probably don’t even think about it anymore. You just do it… but in the new novel, “How to Stop Time” by Matt Haig, there’s so much more to tell.

Tom Hazard is old – over four hundred years old, and that’s all you need to know. If you knew anything more, you might have to die.

In the late 1800s, a doctor gave Tom’s affliction a name; but Hendrich, the man who “protects” Tom, calls him an “alba,” as in Albatross, a bird with rumored longevity and the name for the society Hendrich runs. But Tom doesn’t feel very protected; in fact, he doesn’t totally trust Hendrich. All Tom wants is to be back to as normal as he was in the year 1598.

He didn’t know Hendrich then. He only knew that, at age 26, he looked as though he was not yet a teenager and people noticed, accusing him of witchcraft. He’d fallen in love then; he and Rose were poor and happy and had a daughter but in 1599, he had to leave London to protect his family from the accusers.

That meant that Rose would die a cruel death filled with fever and sores but without Tom by her side. Her sister told him Rose was ill; he hurried to her, and before she breathed her last, she whispered a truth he’s carried for more than four centuries: their daughter, Marion, inherited his affliction.

Since then, Tom has scanned the faces of every young woman he sees, in Paris, Florida, London, Iceland. What would Marion look like now? Hendrich promises that the Albatross Society will find her, but Tom has his doubts. Heartbroken, depressed, and rightfully reserved, he has his doubts about a lot, including Marion. Is his daughter, his only family, his link to Rose, even still alive?

“How to Stop Time” is many things. It’s soft sci-fi. It’s history. It’s a mystery, literary tale, romance, and drama. And it’s also exceptionally good.

It takes a minute to get into it, though, beware: author Matt Haig starts in the middle, so don’t let a second of “Huh?” deter you from reading on. The story will make sense pretty quickly and – with its aching, Tom’s memories, and a gentle chase through the centuries – becomes irresistible even faster. It helps that this is an intriguing enough premise told with the kind of details that fans of time travel tales will relish. Although, of course, Haig takes license with some real-life characters. It turns out to be part of the appeal of this truly wonderful novel.

You may not think that this kind of book is “your thing,” but give it a try and you won’t be sorry. Fans of any kind of good story will love “How to Stop Time,” and you shouldn’t wait to get your hands on it, either.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin

Parks board looks ahead to projects with new fee

Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Parks Advisory Board has set its tentative workload for the next two to three years.

Members of the board have been working with a subgroup of stakeholders to prioritize projects that are on the deferred maintenance list throughout Keizer’s 19 parks.

“(The subgroup) rated the projects on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being those in the poorest condition,” said Matt Lawyer, a member of the subgroup and the parks board. Lawyer presented the list of priorities to the rest of the board at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 9.

The top seven priorities were all in neighborhood parks with four ranked the worst of what Keizer has to offer.

Up first is replacing a playground and paths in Meadows park in north Keizer, the stakeholder group gave the current park amenities a “5.” City staff reached out to the neighborhood in December and about two dozen area residents turned out to talk about what they wanted to see happen in Meadows Park.

Parks Supervisor Robert Johnson said the Meadows play structure is among the oldest in the city.

Between the playground and the paths, the work is expected to cost about $200,000.


• Meadows Park play structure.

• Court and parking lot Claggett Creek Park.

• Sports court at Northview Park.

• Court repair or replace at Bob Newton Park.

• Gazebo repairs at Chalmers Jones Park.

Replacing a small basketball court and resurfacing the north parking lot at Claggett Creek Park is second on the list with the court cost estimated to be $100,000 and the parking lot project expected to be about $30,000.

A sports court at Northview Park was tagged for replacement as the third item on the list. The projected cost is $50,000. Repairing or replacing a multi-use court at Bob Newton Park, at a cost of about $10,000, is fourth in the line-up.

Repairing the gazebo at Chalmer Jones Park, $10,000, and repairing paths at Willamette Manor Park and Country Glen Park round out the list.

The path repairs, alongside Americans with Disability Act upgrades, throughout the Keizer system will likely be put out to bid as a single project with a cost of approximately $150,000.

The board also took input from residents during the meeting.

Carol Doerfler, a west Keizer resident, asked about repairing a sports court at Willamette Manor Park. The court had about 200 feet of cracks in it before it was resurfaced a few years ago and a few tears in the mesh laid over the old court are already beginning to appear.

Johnson said about 10 percent of what was repaired is now beginning to reappear.

“The best thing to do would be to replace the whole court. Prior to the (parks) fee, we had no choice and we had to figure out a solution on a budget. Now that the fee is in place we can have an entirely different conversation,” Johnson said.

Because resurfacing the court was not the optimal solution, the warranty on the work was shorter than the standard five years and has already expired.

When Lawyer presented the list to the Keizer City Council on Jan. 16, it met with some pushback from City Councilor Amy Ryan.

“This list makes it look like we are in partnership with a paving business,” Ryan said.

She also questioned where projects like lighting in some of the darker parks, like Bair Park, fell on the list.

“The paths have a direct impact on accessibility and the sports courts are a significant issue,” responded Lawyer. “In terms of lighting, those are projects that are considered new and things we have to add to the master plan. In addition, the number one response on the parks survey was maintaining what we have.”

Hooper, Vaughn place third, fifth in 500 free at GVC Championships

Of the Keizertimes

MCMINNVILLE—Kyle Hooper wanted to get on the podium and make a statement for the McNary swim team at the Greater Valley Conference Championships.

With the help of his teammates, he got there, finishing third in the 500-yard freestyle and fourth in the 200 individual medley Saturday, Feb. 10 at the McMinnville Aquatic Center.

“When I saw five or six people standing at the end cheering me and Harrison (Vaughn) on, it shows that our team cares about us and they want us to succeed,” Hooper said. “When it matters they really show it to us.”

Hooper and Vaughn got to A Finals of the 500 free by finishing first and second in Friday’s prelims.

Motivated to beat Sprague senior Colby Evenson, who swam a record 4:49.96 at the district meet last year, Vaughn dropped more than 14 seconds from his best time, finishing in 4:58.93, to place first.

“I really wanted to beat Colby and I did but he didn’t actually go very fast,” Vaughn said. “It boosted my confidence a lot, probably too much. Today, I tried to hold with him again and obviously that didn’t work.”

In finals, Vaughn clocked his first 100 in a blistering 53 seconds before falling back to fifth and finishing in 5:03.12.

Hooper said he also started too fast, finishing his first 100 in 55 seconds.

“I knew I needed to hold a consistent pace and going out that fast was going to make me die in the end,” Hooper said. “So I had to think to myself, what do I need to do to keep this pace? From feeling in myself, I knew that this isn’t the way I’m going to take a medal in this race.”

Hooper slowed down but finished strong in 4:58.95, a nearly 4 second personal record.

Evenson won the race in 4:50.64. West Salem sophomore Marcus Ramirez took second in 4:58.13.

“Everybody knows that he’s probably going to win,” Hooper said of Evenson. “In our minds it was a race for second. My main goal was get up on the podium and make a statement for my team.”

Hooper, a sophomore, swam the 500 free in 5:13 at least year’s district meet. Swimming against Vaughn, a teammate at both McNary and Mid-Valley Aquatics, everyday has made him faster.

“We’re always racing each other and always pushing each other in practice to get better and get results like this,” Hooper said of Vaughn, who also finished ninth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.61.

McNary opened Saturday’s competition by placing fourth in the girls 200 medley relay as Alex Beard, Bella Beard, Emily Alger and Haley Debban finished in 200.80.

Alex took fifth in the 500 free in 5:35.17 and sixth in the 200 IM in 2:22.12.

“I didn’t really have a lot of expectations because this was my first time,” Alex, a freshman, said. “I had a lot of fun swimming. I’m pretty proud of my results. I’m glad I made it to finals. The competition was pretty tough this year.”

Bella placed eighth in the 200 free in 2:06.48 and sixth in the 100 breast in 1:13.33. McNary sophomore Alyssa Garvey also made it to A Finals in the 100 breast, finishing eighth in 1:15.

Garvey was the only McNary swimmer to advance to A Finals who doesn’t participate on a club team.

“I play a lot of other sports, volleyball and track, so I don’t have a lot of time but now I’m thinking of maybe doing a couple of days a week and we’ll see,” said Garvey, who made it to B Finals in both the 50 and 100 free last season but wasn’t able to swim breast due to a knee injury.

“It feels awesome to be swimming my stroke again,” said Garvey, who also swam in B Finals of the 100 free on Saturday, finishing with the 10th fastest time of 59.12. Debban took 12th in 1:00.71.

Garvey, Debban, Alex and Bella placed sixth in the 200 free relay in 1:46.96. Hooper, Vaughn, Jabez Rhoades and Wyatt Sherwood finished fifth in the boys 200 free relay in 1:35.87.

Hooper, Rhoades, Grant Biondi and Brock Wyer took sixth in the 400 free relay in 3:40.62.

Individually, Wyer dropped more than 5 seconds in the 100 backstroke to place 10th in 1:04.92. Rhoades finished ninth in the 100 free in 52.66 and 10th in the 50 free 24.29.

“I was just really pleased that across the board we had best times from the day before,” McNary head coach Casey Lewin said. “It’s really, really tough for most of these kids to swim Friday and come back and swim again, especially where a lot of our kids were sitting right on that bubble of making it back.”

Lewin told the kids to give it all they had in Friday’s prelims or there wouldn’t be a Saturday final.

“They definitely stepped up yesterday (Friday) to get here and again stepped up (Saturday),” Lewin said. “Obviously as a coach you want to get those first places and win but bottom line you get best times and that’s all you can ask for and we definitely did that. I’m definitely pleased.”

All five McNary swimmers that made it to finals, Hooper, Vaughn, Alex, Bella and Garvey, should be back for the Celtics next season.

“We’re losing a couple of swimmers but we have people right in the wings that will step right in and be as fast or faster,” Lewin said.

Mandatory reporting changes head to Legislature

Of the Keizertimes

A Oregon Senate bill submitted to the 79th Oregon Legislature that would modify Oregon’s mandatory reporting rules was set to be considered at the committee level this week.

The bill, SB 1540, amends the state’s rules to define reportable offenses as sexual contact or intercourse as those in which lacked consent – or the victim had the inability to provide consent  – for teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21, if one of the parties is more than three years older, or if there is reasonable cause to believe the relationship was the result of force, intimidation or coercion.

Sponsored by Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) and Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer), the bill seeks to address the underlying law that prompted the Salem-Keizer School District to issue new mandatory reporting guidelines in October 2017.

Prior to the changes, Salem-Keizer School District (SKSD) teachers were required to report incidences of suspected neglect or any type of abuse to the Department of Human Services, but the new guidelines expand reporting to most sex-related issues. New instances that would require reporting include: a student inquiring about birth control options after admitting to sex with a partner; reports of a pregnancy; a student confiding in a teacher after being kicked out of his home for divulging a sexually active, same-sex relationship.

District administrators said the new policies were meant as a “clarification” of existing rules, but the change sparked outcry from students at McNary High School who held a protest on the steps of the Oregon Capitol and then a sit-in at the school. Teachers at McNary also voiced opposition to the changes.

The new guidelines were only put in place for SKSD and, later, the Klamath School District. However, if they are allowed to stand, it could end up setting precedent for every mandatory reporter in the state including: physicians, clergy members, counselors, pharmacists, firefighters, and any compensated coach to name a few.

When a review of the law underlying the mandatory reporting policies by the Oregon Attorney General Office found there were “ambiguities,” Gelser and Post moved forward with a bill to further define what constituted a reportable offense.

Gelser took up the issue after calls regarding the change began flooding her office.

When Keizertimes asked University of Oregon School of Law Professor Leslie Harris to review the training materials given to teachers and explanations provided by the district for the changes, Harris said the new policies were “sad.”

“The advice (given to the district) is extreme protect-yourself-from-liability kind of advice that has extremely bad consequences for students and teachers, and particularly for young people in difficult situations who need help,” said Harris.

The bill was slated for a hearing by the Senate Committee on Human Services Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Celtic artists shine in KAA February exhibit, Majora’s Mask Best of Show

The Keizer Art Association presented awards for its McNary High School art show Saturday, Feb. 3.

Elena Villegas won Best of Show for her Majora’s Mask, a mixed media mask based on the Legend of Zelda video game of the same name. Villegas’ entry was the first three-dimensional entry to take the Best of Show Award as far as the judges could recall.

Josephine Lim took first place in three-dimensional art for her Companion Cube ceramic box based on the world of Portal video games. Birch Fox, by Ashley Sloan and Emily Daniels, took second place. My Worm Bowl, by Wocus Gibbons, took third place. A Juror’s Merit Award went to Death Slumbering by Laura Gillespie. Autumn Stanford took home an honorable mention for her altered-book sculpture Germany Burnings of 1933. 

In two-dimensional art, Madison Munro took first place for These Streets, a watercolor. Maddie Weathers took second place with Dog #2. Sweet Dreams by Lim won third. Two Juror’s Merit Awards were given to Emma John for Spring Water and Weathers for Ghosts of my Childhood. Honorable mentions went to Sunflowers by Munro and The Needle by Nicole Turner.

In photography, Beauty in Peru by Allison Morgan took first place. The digitally-altered image features a child peering out of what looks like a play structure. Shiloh by Bailey White took second place. Ghana Schoolhouse by Melissa Morgan and Underwater on Rock Bottom by Emily Alger tied for third place. Juror’s Merit Awards went to Skate in Motion by Jordy Tellez and Pink Army by McKenzie Beard. Honorable mentions went to Blip by Beard, Directions by Jordan Marshall and Light in the Dark by Sarah Eckert.

The artwork will remain on display at the Enid Joy Mount Galley in the Keizer Heritgae Center through the end of the month.

Friendships forged success for Keizer’s First Citizen

Of the Keizertimes

One weekend, about 15 years ago, Keizer’s newest First Citizen, Joe Egli, wanted to go to Costco and buy a play structure for his kids, Madi and Noah.

However, he didn’t have a way to get it back to his house after making the purchase. Fortunately, one of his neighbors, Mike Kurtz, was an acquaintance through the Rotary Club of Keizer and he owned a pick-up truck.

“I went over and asked him if I could borrow it to go buy the set, but Mike offered to drive me and then spent the whole weekend in my backyard helping me assemble it,” Egli said. “I didn’t think people did that kind of thing.”

Fifteen years later, he’s still somewhat shocked by the kind gesture, but that experience fuels his desire to be an active part in the community.

“Everything I’ve given, I’ve gotten back tenfold. Every little bit you can give back makes a difference,” Egli said.

Egli didn’t move to Keizer until 1996, but he was a frequent visitor to the area as a child and worked here during the summers as a painter beginning at age 13. He eventually struck out on his own with a painting business and that’s when his civic engagement began in earnest.

Soon after starting his own business, Egli was sold a ticket to the Rotary Raffle by another Rotarian, Kim Girouard, and he began asking how he might get more involved with the group.

“I remember I was sitting next to Jim Hupy at one of the meetings and he was telling me about the old schoolhouse. It had just been moved and the plywood was still on it and nothing else was happening. He thought if he could just get the plywood off of it, people might be more motivated to get involved in preserving it,” Egli said.

Elgi did Hupy one better, he said if Hupy could arrange for buying the paint, he would paint it for free.

“In hindsight, I wondered what I was doing offering to do it. It’s a bigger building than you realize,” Egli said with an exasperated chuckle.

Still, Egli was undeterred. He would eventually serve as president of Rotary and began taking on larger roles in civic projects. When another member of Rotary committed the group to helping create the focal point at the corner of Chemawa Road North and River Road North, Egli quickly became the supervisor for the project.

Through the enlistment of a small army of volunteers and in-kind donations, the focal point rose up from a gravel lot that was once a gas station.

“It was a lot of work, but we put together a $300,000 project on a budget of about $20,000,” Egli said. “That was my first time working with a lot of the other people associated with volunteering in Keizer.”

Newton-McGee Plaza was completed in early 2003 and it’s the spot where visitors and new residents discover Keizer motto, “Pride, Spirit and Volunteerism.”

“We were looking for a saying to put on the fountain and we were just tossing out ideas and someone said, ‘Pride, Spirit and Volunteerism.’ We all stopped and said, ‘We’re done.’ Everyone in the room knew that was the right thing to put on there,” Egli said.

Christine Diecker, the former executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, enlisted Egli to run the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development and Government Affairs (EDGA) Committee and that helped him set his sights on a seat on Keizer’s City Council.

“I got interested in the council through EDGA. When (former City Councilor) Richard Walsh decided to leave the council, he approached me and asked if I would be interested in running,” Egli said.

Egli was and he served one term as a city councilor. Among the major hallmarks of his time on the council were efforts to move the Chamber of Commerce office to Keizer Station, ushering in the move of the Festival of Lights Parade to Keizer from Salem, and determining the city’s position in an attempt by Keizer Fire District to annex a portion of north Keizer that was, and still is, served by Marion County Fire District No. 1.

More recent volunteer work includes serving on the board of the McNary Athletic Booster Club as treasurer and a spot on the board of directors for the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation.

His role with SKEF ended up creating an opportunity for him to fly to southern California last year and drive back in a donated bookmobile.

“You always hear about people making trips like that and I figured this was my shot. But, man, that was rough. It was like driving a semi,” Egli said.

Egli, who is now agent with Brown Insurance Agency in Woodburn, said he feels the relationships he’s developed through volunteering have helped him be successful in his business endeavors.

“But that’s always been secondary to the friendships,” Egli said. “I feel very blessed to be around such great people all the time. I feel very successful in business because of the relationships.”

(Editors note: In the Jan. 26 edition of the Keizertimes, we mistakenly reported that Egli was an agent with R. Bauer Insurance.)

Beard twins too legit to quit

Of the Keizertimes

Alex and Bella Beard tried to quit swimming once.

It didn’t last.

As 7-year-olds, wanting to be like their older sister, the Beard twins went to Holiday Swim Club.

At their first practice, Bella swam one length of the pool, got out and quit. Alex made it about halfway before she figured out what her sister had done and followed.

Their swimming career was over.

Until the next summer when their dad gave them an ultimatum to give it another shot or enroll in swimming lessons.

“We knew how to swim,” Bella said. “We just didn’t want to do it.”

The twins enjoyed their second stint at Holiday so much that they decided to join a year-round club.

“Were were doing gymnastics and we were really quite bad at it,” Alex said.

“We realized we sucked and then joined swim team.” Bella added.

On the Bearcats, which later became Mid-Valley Aquatics, the Beards swam their first state qualifying times as 9-year-olds.

Bella got her’s first in the 100 breaststroke and then the 50 breaststroke. Not to be outdone, Alex then qualified for state in three events—the 50 breast, 100 breast and 50 free.

“We’re super competitive with each other but with other people I’m always known as the gentle giant because I’m so tall,” Alex said. “I’m really just racing myself.”

“I think I’m much more competitive than Alex is,” Bella said.

That dynamic has worked for the Beard twins, who as 10-year-olds swam in their first sectional meet in Federal Way, Wash. Competing against swimmers from Hawaii and Alaska and east to Montana, they finished seventh in the 200-free relay, despite being seeded 27th.

“I got to swim with my best friends on this relay and we were so excited,” Alex said.

Bella has qualified for sectionals four years in a row. At state, Alex placed fourth in the 500 free when she was 11.

Now as freshmen at McNary, the twins will swim in their first Greater Valley Conference Championships on Feb. 9-10.

With injuries to seniors Marissa Kuch and Sarah Eckert, Alex and Bella have led the Lady Celts this season.

On the gold squad at Mid-Valley Aquatics, with three hour practices a day, they are only able to attend one McNary practice a week.

“That’s been a hard thing getting to know the team,” Alex said. “It’s been really cool how some people look up to me. It’s been cool as a freshman to be able to do that and be on the varsity. My main priority is to always be supportive of the other swimmers. I don’t care how fast they are, as long as they are swimming, they are just as fast as me, in my book. I always want to support people because swimming is such an awesome sport. I think anyone should do it, no matter how fast they are.”

That sportsmanship and humility comes from their father.

“Our dad always taught us to tell the swimmers next to you ‘good luck’ before the race and give them a high five afterwards,” Bella said. “If we beat the other person or even if we lose, we always make sure to congratulate the other people.”

Individually, Bella will swim the 200 free and 100 breaststroke at the GVC Championships while Alex will compete in the 200 IM and 500 free.

Their best times would have been good enough to get them to A Finals (top eight) in all four events at last year’s district meet.

“I think I could be in the top three this year, definitely top five,” Alex said. “I just want to go out there and swim as hard as I can and have fun.”

They’ll also swim on McNary’s 200 free and 200 medley relay teams.

“It’s just huge having two swimmers where you can put them in pretty much any event and they’re probably going to win, and if not, be real close,” McNary head coach Casey Lewin said. “It helps the relays out, too, with their versatility. Aside from Marissa (Kuch), they are some of the strongest freshmen I’ve had in my seven years of high school coaching. Hopefully in the next four years they’ll continue to grow and progress and get faster and faster. I’m excited where they are going to be in four years.”

The twins want to break records during their high school career.

Alex’s PR in the 200 IM is 2:24.66 and 5:35.58 in the 500 free. Bella’s best times are 1:13 in the 100 breast and 2:08 in the 200 free.

McNary school records are 2:10.86 in the 200 IM, 5:18.32 in the 500 free, 1:08.80 in the 100 breast and 1:53.75 in the 200 free.

Since they were 9, Alex and Bella have swam year-round with only three weeks off in August.

“It takes up all of my time. I wouldn’t do anything else,” said Alex, who along with Bella, has played a year of water polo. They also maintain a 4.0 GPA.

Both girls want to swim in college.

Not bad for two kids who quit during their first practice.

Clark to seek third term

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark announced she will seek a third term as the elected  leader of the city in an interview with the Keizertimes Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Clark, who has served two terms as mayor and four as a city councilor prior to that, said the city is still in a transitional period and more work needs to be done.

“We’ve done a lot of really good things but some were starting to show some wear around the edges. The funding that we had was not meeting the needs for some time with police and parks,” Clark said. “ We have a seriously understaffed city, and we’ve done all we can with technology and the tremendous talents of city staff. We have other departments where we need to take that look.”

When asked for an example, she cited management of the Keizer Civic Center.

“We started off putting those responsibilities on the city recorder. Tracy (Davis) has done a wonderful job of establishing policies and procedures that work, but she is going to want to retire … eventually. We will reach a point where we need additional personnel and we will have to have the resources available,” Clark said.

Given a city budget that is drum-tight, Clark she said she didn’t have the immediate answer to solve the question of funding, “but I know who to ask,” she said.

In addition to mayor’s seat, the terms of three sitting city councilors – Bruce Anderson, Roland Herrera and Amy Ryan – expire in January 2019. Candidates can file to run for the soon-to-be open seats anytime before Aug. 28 for the November general election. The only requirements are having lived in Keizer for the 12 months preceding the election and filing a petition with the city by gathering 120 qualified elector signatures. Candidates do not need to declare a party affiliation to run.

(Editor’s note: The February 17 edition of the Keizertimes will feature a more in-depth conversation with Clark aand her vision for a third term.)

Trump avoids killing State of Union buzz


There is a pattern to State of the Union addresses: The president declares the state of the nation is glowing; the opposition party reacts with skepticism; and then the two sides fight over which side won the night.

With President Donald Trump there is an additional factor: Will he say or tweet something so outrageous that he kills the good buzz?

In other words, will Twitter Trump step on teleprompter Trump?

That the president gave a strong performance last week is clear. A CBS News poll found that 75 percent of viewers approved of the speech—and while supporters were more likely to watch the annual report to the nation than others, that margin is comfortably above the 46 percent of the popular vote Trump won in 2016 and suggests that many non-Trump voters liked the speech.

It helped that Trump’s joint address to Congress focused, not on Trump, but Americans and their future.

Ken Khachigian, who served as chief speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan, gave Trump high marks. The 80-minute speech, he said, was effective. Trump “put to use the oldest rule of communication, a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Khachigian’s favorite moment was when North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho waved his crutches—made for him by his father after a young Ji passed out from hunger while stealing coal from a train.

“The speech had a lot of substance to it,” Khachigian added, and showed a Trump with heart.

What’s more, Trump reached out to Democrats and sought their support for a compromise measure to extend President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. As a concession, Trump offered a path to citizenship to some 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors, through no fault of their own.

To the right, Trump had conceded a lot. Many DACA critics see a path to citizenship as amnesty. Also, Trump had offered that path to more than twice the 800,000 undocumented immigrants initially covered by Obama’s DACA—and that program was temporary and paved no path to citizenship.

In return, Trump argued Democrats would have to support his three pillars: funding for a border wall with Mexico, limits on “chain migration” to immediate family members and an end to the diversity visa lottery system.

It was impossible to not notice the Democrats’ cold reception to Trump’s proposition.

The Black Caucus’ reaction to Trump’s boasts about black unemployment hitting “its lowest rate ever recorded” was underwhelming. Only one caucus member applauded, and he stopped when he saw no others joining in.

“Why are @TheDemocrats not applauding job growth, higher wages and the drop in Latino and African-American unemployment?” tweeted pollster Frank Luntz, a conservative who has been critical of Trump.

Conservatives also broadcast photos of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., scowling and sucking on her teeth throughout the evening.

The next morning, Trump stayed off Twitter.

Thursday morning, last week, he returned to his favorite social media platform with three tweets. The first chastised Democrats for not producing a single vote in favor of the GOP tax bill. The second hit Pelosi for not working with him on DACA.

The third tweet trumpeted Trump’s belief that with 45.6 million viewers, his first State of the Union address had “the highest number in history.” But Trump was factually incorrect. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton drew higher audience numbers than Trump for their first State of the Union addresses. But then, the public has become inured to Trump’s factual errors in his favor.

Later, at a speech to Republicans in West Virginia, Trump pressed what he saw as his new advantage—the position where he appeared as a peacemaker and his opposition came off as belligerent and self-centered.

Trump noted, “And when I made that statement the other night, there was zero movement from the Democrats. They sat there, stone cold, no smile, no applause. You would have thought that, on that one, they would have, sort of, at least clapped a little bit. Which tells you, perhaps, they’d rather see us not do well than see our country do great.”

During the tenure of Presidents Clinton and Obama, that was a charge Democrats frequently lobbed at GOP critics — that they were rooting against a strong economy and against the country. This week, the table was turned.

The CBS News poll included more bad news for Democrats: 43 percent of Democrats approved of Trump’s speech. No cause for applause there.

(Creators Syndicate)

Trump wing of GOP is firmly in charge


According to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the declassified Devin Nunes memo—alleging FBI misconduct in the Russia investigation—is “not an indictment of the FBI, of the Department of Justice.” According to President Trump, the memo shows how leaders at the FBI “politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats” and “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe.”

Both men are deluded or deceptive.

Releasing the memo —while suppressing a dissenting assessment from other members of the House Intelligence Committee—was clearly intended to demonstrate that the FBI is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. The effort ended in a pathetic fizzle. Nunes’ brief, amateurish document failed to demonstrate that FBI surveillance was triggered solely or mainly by a Democratic-funded dossier. But for cherry-picking above and beyond the call of duty, Nunes deserves his own exhibit in the hackery hall of fame. This was a true innovation: an intelligence product created and released for the consumption of Fox News.

Trump’s eager publication of the memo was expected. Yet his action crossed a line: from criticism of the FBI to executive action designed to undermine an ongoing investigation. Trump seems to be testing the waters for direct action against the FBI by testing the limits of what his Republican followers will stomach. So far, there are no limits.

With the blessing of Republican leaders, the lickspittle wing of the GOP is now firmly in charge. The existence of reckless partisans such as Nunes is hardly surprising. The nearly uniform cowardice among elected Republicans is staggering. One is left wishing that Obamacare covered spine transplants. The Republican-led Congress is now an adjunct of the White House. The White House is now an adjunct of Trump’s chaotic will.

And what to make of Ryan? I have been a consistent defender of his good intentions. But after the 17th time saying “He knows better,” it dawns that he may not. By his recent actions, the speaker has provided political cover for a weakening of the constitutional order. He has been used as a tool while loudly insisting he is not a tool. The way Ryan is headed, history offers two possible verdicts: Either he enabled an autocrat, or he was intimidated by a fool. I believe Ryan to be a good person. But the greatest source of cynicism is not the existence of corrupt people in politics; it is good people who lose their way.

The United States Congress is an institution of great power. According to the Constitution, it can deny jurisdiction to the Supreme Court. It can remove the commander in chief. But now it watches as Trump makes the executive branch his personal fiefdom. It stands by—or cheers—as the president persecutes law enforcement professionals for the performance of their public duties.

Why can’t Republican legislators see the personal damage this might cause? Trump has made a practice of forcing people around him to lower their standards and abandon their ideals before turning against them when their usefulness ends. His servants are sucked dry of integrity and dignity, then thrown away like the rind of a squeezed orange. Who does Trump’s bidding and has his or her reputation enhanced? A generation of Republicans will end up writing memoirs of apology and regret.

The political damage to the GOP as the party of corruption and cover-up should be obvious as well. This is a rare case when the rats, rather than deserting a sinking ship, seemed determined to ride it all the way down.

But it is damage to the conscience that is hardest to repair. For Republicans, what seemed like a temporary political compromise is becoming an indelible moral stain. The Russia investigation is revealing a Trump universe in which ethical considerations did not (and do not) figure at all. Who can imagine a senior Trump campaign official, say Paul Manafort, or Donald Trump Jr., saying the words: “That would be wrong”? Their degraded spirit has now invaded the whole GOP. By defending Trump’s transgressions, by justifying his abuses, Republicans are creating an atmosphere in which corruption and cowardice thrive.

How can this course be corrected? “You only have one political death,” said the late Rep. John Jacob Rhodes, R-Ariz., “but you can choose when to use it.” Larger showdowns—concerning the possible firings of special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein —now seem likely. If there is nothing for which Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders will risk their careers, there is nothing in which they truly believe.

(Washington Post Writers Group)