Don’t expect Governor Heck to stray from the party line

November 25th, 2020 by Ken

Many of my conservative friends are counting the day Jay Inslee will be tapped to join President Joe Biden’s cabinet in some form or another.  They think that moving Inslee from Washington State to Washington DC will be good for the state because he will be replaced by another person.

According to state law, that person will be Denny Heck, the current Lieutenant Governor – who will hold the office until he is elected to the position in November 2021.  They hope that Heck will be better and more attuned to the realities of life in the real world.  They think that with Heck’s background he’ll be more realistic about the abilities of the governor to affect life in Washington State.

And, they’re right.  Almost anyone would be better than the lifetime political hack that Inslee has become.  Denny Heck will be a far better governor than currently.

But, they may be disappointed if they think Heck’s policies will differ greatly from Inslee’s.   He is looked upon as more conservative than the Democratic Party and as someone with real world experience who can understand the needs of the average person.

That is not the case however.  Heck has been shown to be an extremely political partisan.  While serving in the House of Representatives, he supported every partisan issue brought forth by Democrats including supporting the articles of impeachment against President Trump.   When he joined with his colleagues in this endeavor I criticized his actions and called him a partisan hack.  He’s never forgiven me for that and I’ve never forgotten his vote.

So, don’t expect Governor Denny Heck to stray far from the party line.  He’ll be better than Inslee, but Heck has been a partisan politician so long that he doesn’t know any different.

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Covid is not a death sentence

November 17th, 2020 by Ken

According to the Washington State Department of Health, I have recovered from my bout of Covid19.  I am free to enter the world of the living again.

Just like 99.94 percent of everyone who gets Covid, I have recovered  Although I am still a little weak and still have my cough, I have met the criteria of all those other survivors of this disease.

I have no idea when or how I caught Covid.  I have allergies and I had a cold for more than two weeks.  I thought my symptoms were just a cold.  It wasn’t until I started feeling tired all the time and it wasn’t until my wife Jan came down with similar symptoms that I begin to suspect that I might have Covid.

I had curtailed most of my activities and had spent most of two weeks prior, confined to my house.   When Jan came down sick, we decided to get tested.   Our health care provider Kaiser Permanente had an easy to use on-line questionaire.    Jan took it and was told to get tested.  I took it, and was also told to get tested.   We did the drive-through testing on November 10 and the next day got our results that we both tested Positive.

I immediately notified everyone I had contact with the previous week and asked them to get tested.  I had incidental contact with two of our children resulting in them getting tested. Both were found to be negative for Covid.

I also posted on my Facebook page asking anyone who had physical contact with me to get tested.

What are the symptoms of Covid. In my case, I had normal flu symptoms – fever, headache, queasy stomach and tiredness.  I also didn’t feel the desire to eat and my food had no taste.  (I actually lost eight pounds.)   I will be 78 in a few days and for 30 years I was a 2-3 pack a day smoker.   I was concerned about my air supply.  But continual testing found the air in my blood stream at the normal level.

I also have high blood pressure.  I had some very high readings in blood pressure tests.  We finally determined that it was the cold medicine that was affecting my blood pressure and I became more careful of what over-the-counter medicines I took.

We’ve had dozens of people offer to help.  Jan and I appreciate each and everyone who has expressed concern or wanted to help in some way.  The silver lining in all of this is the number of people who care about us.

Although I can now venture outside the house, I’m going to stay confined for a few more days.  If you want, feel free to call.  All you’ll do is interrupt my napping, and I’m doing too much of that as it is.

I want to ask one more favor.  Stop watching the news.  All it does is scare the hell out of you and that is not helpful at all.

 

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Trump’s people aren’t going away

November 5th, 2020 by Ken

It was probably the best possible outcome we could hope for.

Republicans control the Senate, Democrats lost seats but still control the House.   And, Donald Trump’s America is still there, still angry and still clinging to the American Dream.

When Trump won the presidency four years ago, it was deemed a fluke by the elites and their lackey media.  They said he only won because he was a TV Star, because people didn’t like Hillary Clinton that he’d been helped by the Russians and those that had voted for him were ignorant and racists.

This time around, 66 million Americans voted for Donald Trump.  He made inroads into the former Blue Rust Belt just as he had the first time around, and it was only through the Billion dollar effort to encourage people to vote that he lost this time around.

The forgotten American is not what many people think of.  The forgotten American is the blue collar workers, the farmers, the pink collar women, the ones who feel powerless and voiceless as the government-elite and the elite media headquartered in their urban east coast nests ignore them.   They are the men and women who can’t work from home.  They’re the cab drivers, the loggers, the iron worker, the plumber, the guy who sits all day in the cab of a combine.  The forgotten Americans are the waitress, the family which operates the local laundry, the local restaurant, the small business which employs half a dozen people – often from their own family.

These are the ones most financially impacted by government action.

They may not have liked Trump’s personality but they sure loved his work ethics and his policies.  Next time around , they’ll find someone who will speak for them and they’ll support him (or her).   And this group will again embrace the concept that American is the best country in the world – – and they’ll continue to hang on to their guns and their bibles.

 

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Anytime is a good time to visit Las Vegas

November 1st, 2020 by Ken

I just got back from my annual trip to Las Vegas to feed their economy.  And, as I expected, it was not the Las Vegas I knew from 30 years of visiting.  But, it was open and ready for visitors – somewhat.

Most of the major casinos are now open and welcoming guests and gamblers.  A few of the major shows are ready for opening in the next few weeks.  None were open when I was there last week.

But it is a different world.  It’s kind of like Vegas Lite with a major blanket over-laying it all.  Covid 19.  The virus currently calls all the shots.  It dominates the culture of the Strip and the casinos, restaurants and shops which line the banks of that river of commerce.

Masks are mandatory – not only indoor, but out-door as well.  Honestly, while I was there, I only saw two people without a mask.  Many, mostly young men, had a mask they wore pulled down to the chin.  But, it became rare to see anyone not taking the virus seriously.  That includes the visitors to Vegas as well as the residents and the workers.

Every casino (and I visited several) had security guards making certain everyone had a mask.  Most of the casinos required a temperature check before you could enter.  Gone were the handheld wands.  Each entrance had a large machine which you walked through, with a guard checking every reading.  Even local police on the sidewalks enforced the mask requirements.

Inside the casinos, masks and hand sanitizing were required.  All employees enforced the mask wearing and gave you a mask it you needed one.  Hands at the gaming table, were sanitized after every action.  Tables, chairs and other equipment were sanitized or replaced regularly.

The result is that visitors and gamblers are coming back, but currently in small numbers.  Several experts, with whom I talked, felt that the casinos were at 20 percent occupancy but slowly increasing.

If you think that costs would be cheaper because of the need to attract more gamblers – be aware.  That is not the case.  Prices of most things, from food to the minimum bet at the tables have increased.  The only things that are cheaper is the air fare and rooms.

But, I still enjoyed the trip and kept it as normal as possible.  Eating good food, enjoying the images of the lights and the action and getting in as much gambling as my purse would allow.

As far as I’m concerned, anytime is a good time to go to Las Vegas – even with a heavy blanket hanging over the city.

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Can you really believe the polls?

October 18th, 2020 by Ken

American political pollsters have been under fire every since they blew the 2016 Presidential Election and failed to predict the ascension of Donald Trump to the top elective seat in the country.  There are nearly two dozen national pollsters operating in the United States,  and all of them predicted that Hillary Clinton would win.

That national embarrassment sent them back to their process and a better understanding of the national make-up.  They did better in the 2018 election and predicted the Democrats would take control of the House and the Republicans would retain control of the Senate, but they weren’t as certain in their process as they had been in the past.

I’m not going to bore you with what they did, what they did wrong, and what they’ve changed, but it had to do with the arrogance of the educated elite.  In the past, most polling had been done in major cities without a thought to the rural areas.  Most polling had been done by educational universities which concentrated its polling to those with college educations.  Trump’s election showed that those without a college degree also vote and had often been ignored by the pollsters.

In the past, many pollsters used phone interviews because it was easier.  They could do robo calls until they reached a real live person.  By law, they cannot use robo calls on cell phones.  Now, nearly 90 percent of all Americans have a cell phone.  Those with land line are predominately older (I’m not going to use the word elderly).

Polling in 2020 is still trying to determine its future.  And, while it will be better this year, it is still unreliable as a predictor of the present.

By the way.  We have a well-known local pollster who many cities and counties hire to do survey work on controversial local matters like taxes.    In the past decade, I have been called by this firm at least half a dozen times.   I’m going to tell you a secret.  I always lie.  No matter what the question, I lie about my answer.  When you see that “margin of error” as 2- 3 or even 4 percent.  I’m that margin of error.

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What is packing the court anyway?

October 13th, 2020 by Ken

Republicans are making a mistake to refer to the efforts by Democrats to add more justices to the United States Supreme Court – as Packing the Court.  Most voters have no idea what that means.  Using that term plays into the hands of the Democrats who are now accusing the Republicans of packing the court by appointing conservative judges.

Instead, Republicans should say that Democrats want to add more justices to the United States Supreme Court so a President Biden can appoint more liberal justices.

Explain to the voters that adding more justices is rare and unusual.  That adding more justices increases costs and  results in delays in getting opinions and that the effort is a blanket threat to voters not to vote Republican.

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Boiling down the governor’s race

October 8th, 2020 by Ken

The most interesting debate Wednesday night wasn’t the Vice Presidential debate, it was the debate for Washington State Governor.  Incumbent governor Jay Inslee is running for a third-term as governor while his challenger is little known City of Republic Police Chief Loren Culp.

Only one other Washington state governor has served more than two terms and that was Republican Dan Evans, who has been slowly recognized as one of our best governors ever and who brought along several appointees with him who have gone on to be recognized public figures in their own right including Ralph Munro and Slade Gorton.

Inslee’s effort to retain his seat and get another four-years smacks of a need of his to stay in the public arena and fight his effort to combat climate change, his main issue in his run for President of the United States last year.  His concern for the citizens of the state seem secondary to his need for the limelight.

The debate between Culp and Inslee pointed out the weakness in both men.  It has boiled down to the incompetence of Inslee and the lack of competence in Culp.

Inslee has shown his incompetence time and time again.  Culp pointed out many of them.  His lack of leadership on mental health issues resulted in the closure of the state’s major mental health hospital – Western State – and the loss of $100 million dollars in federal aid.   His lack of concern for the state’s infrastructure from failing bridges to state forest management.   His unwillingness to support law enforcement and provide leadership during the Seattle riots.  He also spent a year and millions of dollars in his quixotic effort to become president.

Culp, on the other hand, has very little experience in the public sector – as his supporters like to point out.  A situation that has positive and negative qualities.  I liked the guy, but as the debate wore on, I saw how conservative he really was.  While he manifests some of the same qualities as Donald Trump, he isn’t Trump and doesn’t seem to have Trump’s ego.

So – it boils down to one simple question.  Do you want to vote for the incompetence we know.  Or do you want to vote for the competence we don’t know?

 

 

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You’re never too old to be a genius

October 5th, 2020 by Ken

When I was a young man I often thought that I should be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship Grant, more commonly known as a MacArthur Genius Grant.

Awarded annual by the John D and Katherine T MacArthur Foundation – the grant is given annually to 20-30 Americans working in many different fields of  endeavor.  Currently the grant is $625,000.  Its purpose is to free those with extreme talent from having to worry about making money and instead being able to concentrate on their work.

Since I will shortly be 78 years of age, I’ve begun to suspect that I’ve grown too old to recognized by the Foundation.

Until recently.

That’s when I read about Arthur Ashkin, who won a Noble Prize at the age of 96.  He worked at AT&T labs as a researcher for 40 years and saw many of his contemporaries win Noble Prizes in their field.   He said that he just thought he wasn’t as smart as the other guys in his research lab.  He retired in 1992 but continued his work in his basement lab.  In 2018, the Nobel committee recognized his work with photons and awarded him his Nobel Prize.

He was quoted as saying ,the Nobel Committee thought   “Oh he’s a smart guy.  Guess we’d better accept his paper before it was iffy.”  Ashkin died this year at the age of 98.

But, it gave me hope.  If he could win a Nobel Prize at 96, maybe there’s still time for me to win a MacArthur Genius Grant.

I guess the only thing standing in my way now is – – – you have to be a genius.

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Why “The Olympian” failed

September 25th, 2020 by Ken

By Danny Stusser

(Danny Stusser is the former owner and publisher of Coffee News.  He has started a new on-line newspaper called www.theJOLTnews.com.  He has written an 11 page letter to the community about his publication and why its needed.  It has been edited here for content and space.)

When I moved my family to Olympia in 1995 there were about 30 reporters and editors working at The Olympian, and the population of Thurston County was about half what it is today.  In those days, one could expect that at any public meeting there would be a reporter taking notes and maybe a photographer.  Today, (before the Pandemic) it would be a happy occasion if we saw one.

With only two reporters (as early as this past March) The Olympian can’t possibly cover everything.  Now they have four reporters, better, but still not enough.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still subscribe to The Olympian and I’m grateful it’s still in business.  I recommend that you subscribe too.

None of the problems of The Olympian are the fault of anyone who works there now or in any year since 1971 when the family owners sold the business to Gannett Company  the largest newspaper publisher in the United States.  In order to buy the paper, like other national news businesses it purchased, the company took on debt to make the acquisitions.

In 2005 Gannett traded The Olympian to Knight Ridder another national chain.  The next year Knight Ridder was sold to The McClatchy Company in another leveraged buyout and took on over $2 billion in debt to get that deal done.

The end of the McClatchy story is this.  The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020.  Millions of dollars in legal fees later, on September 4, company ownership was transferred to the company’s largest debtor for $312 million.  The new owner is Chatham Asset Management which is usually described as a hedge fund and is located in Chatham, News Jersey.

Articles in the New York Times spelled out what happened when Chatham took control of Postmedia the largest newspaper chain in Canada.   They shut down 30 newspapers in the chain and laid off 1600 employees.   According to The Times, national and political coverage is prepared at a central site and inserted in its remaining papers.

But, it isn’t just sale and resale of newspapers that has led to the decline in The Olympian.

Craiglist took away the classified advertising business which accounted for nearly 40 percent of a newspaper’s business.  Social media which printed and reprinted what passes as news stories drew away subscribers who thought they were getting actual local news.  The spiral started   When once The Olympian had 44,000 paid subscribers, it now reports around 10,000.  On-line advertising on Google and Facebook has cut into display advertising at newspapers.

We need more local news coverage.

(Editors note:  Stusser has founded www.theJOLTnews.com.  The journal of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater news.)

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Most significant events in the county’s history

September 18th, 2020 by Ken

A couple of decades ago, I pulled out an old survey I had taken among local historians, to consolidate their accumulated wisdom and determine what happened in the last decade of the 20th Century to make Thurston County what it had become today.  I chose 1950 as the base line and as recently as 20 years ago added a few new ones.

I began reviewing it a while ago because I have been asked to be a speaker at the Lacey Historical Museum’s History Talk Series.   I have asked other local history buffs for some ideas to help me update the survey and have taken their suggestions under review.

In this post, I will mention the events with a few short comments, but will not go into detail as to why they have been put into the “Significant” category.  That will be saved for my talk which is scheduled for December.  The events have been put into some order from most significant to lesser so.

Lawsuit retaining state agencies –  A Supreme Court order  in 1953 which brought the headquarters of all state agencies back to Olympia.

Construction of the Interstate Highway – Original plans called for the freeway to bypass Olympia completely.

Creation of The Evergreen State College – For better or ill, there are now approximately 30,000 “Greeners” roaming the world and Thurston County.

Organization of the Thurston Regional Planning Council –  There are now more than 20  regional boards and commissions which control government in Thurston County.

The War on Terror –  The military buildup at Ft. Lewis following 9/11 turned the area into a military community.  (This is my newest addition to the list)

Opening of South Sound Center – Eliminated downtown Olympia as a major shopping area and created the City of Lacey.

Decline of local media – Technology eliminated many sources of information and the monopoly once claimed by “The Olympian.”

The 1984 Olympic Women’s Marathon Trials –  Put Olympia and Thurston County on the national map and demonstrated the ability of volunteers.

The 1949, 1965, and 2001 Earthquakes – remind us occasionally that we live on the  Rim of Fire

Closure of the Olympia Brewery –  Took away jobs and a community icon and created an eyesore.

Lesser events include saving the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, building the LOTT reclaimed water facility, opening of Panorama City, and the adoption of the Optional Municipal Code by the cities of Olympia and Lacey.

Feel free to add or argue.

 

 

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Climate change had little to do with this fire season

September 10th, 2020 by Ken

It has been a summer of wildfires.  Searching for an answer our ,Governor Jay Inslee, has resorted to calling them Climate Fires, echoing his climate change campaign for the presidency.  It also further removes the state from any responsibility for allowing the fires to increase in size.

But, fire seasons like we’re experiencing now are not new or unusual.  The West Coast and Washington State have been plagued with wildfires for as long has humans have lived in the area – and probably before that.

The largest and most deadly wildfire in Washington state history happened in 1902 at the beginning of the 20th Century.  In September of that year, unusually dry winds from the east, swept over the Cascades.  The summer had not been unusually hot but as normal, the sun dried out the vegetation and grasses on the westside.

Starting in the Washougal River valley, the fire was started by logging operations.  Flames swept through Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania  counties and roared for three days before rain put an end to the destruction.   When all was done, the fire destroyed 370 square miles of Southwestern Washington killing 38 people.

It was called the Yacolt Burn and is the record for wildfires in our state.   It was so deadly and so disturbing to people, that it led to the beginning of the fire prevention efforts in our state.  As a result of the Yacolt Burn, the state legislature established a state fire warden system, and private landowners formed the Washington Fire Protection Association.  Shortly after, the US Forest service began to organize a wildfire suppression program.

Just like the Midwest has tornadoes and the Gulf Coast has hurricanes, wildfires on the West Coast are a normal part of the climate.   While global climate change may have played a small role in our current fire situation – to blame it for those fires gives the state an out from being responsible for maintaining our forests, cutting deadwood, clearing underbrush and funding more fire suppression services.

 

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CDavis is having a very bad day – week – month

September 4th, 2020 by Ken

A challenge to CDavis, the Republican candidate for Thurston County Commissioner, was upheld by Mary Hall, the Thurston County Auditor.  The challenge alleged that CDavis did not live at the location in which he was registered to vote.

Hall said that CDavis has the opportunity to register at his new location and has done so.  “He’ll still be on the ballot this fall,  He still lives in the district,” Hall said. Thurston County commissioners run by district.  The districts run north to south in Thurston County.  CDavis lives in District One.  His new address is in District One.

Hall said that all challenges to place of resident goes to the Auditor if done before 45 days of the election.   If the challenge is 45 days or less out from the election, then the Thuston County Canvasing Board would be convened and make the decision.  The canvasing board is composed of the county Auditor, the county Prosecuting Attorney and the chair of the County Commission.

CDavis has been facing some set-backs in his effort to be the first Republican on the Thurston County Commission in decades.  Allegations of improper behavior against him has resulted in his being kicked out of the Republican party.

There has been rumors that some supporters of incumbent Commissioner John Hutchings are thinking about mounting a write-in campaign.  So far – that’s just rumors and nothing more.

The other challenger for the commission seat is Carolina Mejia who won more than a third of the votes in the Primary Election in a seven candidate field.

 

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A short walk back

September 4th, 2020 by Ken

As I walked up the quiet sidewalks of College Street the Harvest Moon was setting over my right shoulder.  Here and there a car made its way down the silent street and here and there a lone light shown in the window as someone was getting up to face another day.

As I turned down through the Lakeside housing development on the shores of Chambers Lake, I remembered when this was old man Chase’s cow pasture.   As a young man, I had walked the streets of this development when the housing units were under construction and wondered if anyone would really buy the houses and live here.

Recently, the city had taken a heavily wooded area along the shores of the lake and added two major retention ponds to filter the rainwater run-off from College Street.  The wildness of the area was attractive to those who lived around it and many teens found a hidden place to participate in activities in which they shouldn’t.  Now the area had been tamed, with a paved road running through the heart and walking trails built along the shoreline  – courtesy of an Eagle Scout project.

Several bunnies joined me in my walk, standing quiet and still until I came closer and then scooting out of the way.  The area has been overrun by rabbits.  Someone had raised rabbits in a backyard cage and some of them had gotten loose and did what rabbits do – procreate.  They found the retention facility a good place to reproduce.  I thought the coming winter and the feral cats which call urban areas like this their home, would reduce the number of rabbits by this time next year.

As I neared the end of my walk, the sun was just starting to make itself known behind the treeline.  Soon this quiet area would become an active city once again and I would join in the activities of urban living.

But, for a short period of time, I was alone, lost in my thoughts and the memories of times past.

 

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What kind of country do we have?

August 28th, 2020 by Ken

Now that the nominating committees of the Republican and Democratic parties have made their choices of the old white men who will lead them to victory in the race for the president of the United States – – one thing is clear – – we ARE living in two separate Americas.

One is comprised of the disenfranchised, African Americans, Hispanics and other immigrant groups who feel they have been left out of the American Dream.  This party is composed of young people who are burdened with financial debt as they try to swim the stream which will take them to the top.  Women, who have had the vote for 100 years, and still seem to be held back by an invisible force.  And, the power elite who have held sway in Washington DC for decades and see it threaten by a “mad man” seeking dictatorial powers.  They are propped up by the government unions which make their living from the status quo and see cracks beginning to form in their absolute power.

The other group sees the American Dream as reachable with time and effort.  Many have already scaled the wall and joined the middle class.  Others are certain, they too will be able to achieve their dreams of a better future, if government will just get out of the way.  They have faith in the ideals which history says makes America the greatest country in the world.  Propping them up are the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and those who want to protect those written words and legal precedence from being further shattered by the mobs with pitchforks marching in the streets and through their neighborhoods.

Two different ideas of America.  One for those who have made it, and one for those who feel left on the other side of the wall.

Neither is the America I know and yet, both are part of the America in which I live.

Many have already staked out their positions and will not be budged.  A few, a precious few, understand the implications of their actions and wish they had better choices.  Some, like me, think that once the rhetoric dies down, once the polls close, and once adults again emerge from the smoke, we’ll have a country that history told me was made – for you and me.

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Is Trump the worse president ever?

August 19th, 2020 by Ken

Is Donald Trump the worse president ever?  In 2019, CBS News commissioned a poll of 91 noted historians who determined that yes – he is.

While many may agree with the assessment – it is filled with personal biases and dislikes.

How can 91 noted historians rightly and accurately judge a president’s total work when they all have lived through the president’s first three years and have been personally impacted by some of his actions.  It is suspected that many of them did not vote for the president and instead voted for someone whom they felt was a better choice.

A noted local historian said recently, that any survey of contemporaries is a problem since they have their own personal biases and that should be taken into context when quoting the 2019 survey.

Another problem with the 2019 survey of presidents concerns social changes since the last survey.  Another similar survey taken in 2000 by C-Span shows how the current culture wars have a major impact on presidential surveys by historians.

In the 2000 survey, Washington was named the greatest president followed by Lincoln.  In the 2019 survey, Lincoln was named the greatest and slave-holder Washington was knocked down to second place.  Where Jefferson was named fourth in the 2000 survey, he was relegated to seventh place in the 2019 poll.  The biggest fall from grace based on the two surveys concerned Andrew Jackson.  Jackson was named sixth on the 2000 poll and fell out of the top ten into the middle of the pack in the 2019 survey.

Another observation of both polls show how significant it was to have been president in the last half of the 20th Century.    Truman, Reagan and Ike made the top 10 in the 2000 survey.  Truman, Ike, Reagan, JFK  and LBJ all made the 2019 Top 10.  Fifty percent of the greatest American presidents of all time served as president in a 50 year period of the 20th Century.  That seems to me to be a generational bias.  In other words, those 91 Historians voted for presidents they knew rather than take the time and compare 19th Century presidents and the country they lived in.  At best, this is a biased group and at worse, it’s a lazy group.

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Hopefully we’ll get through it

August 14th, 2020 by Ken

We’ve been shocked by how quickly our society has been changing.  In the last decade or so, we’ve seen four major social change movements – – the Tea Party – –  #Me Too – –  Black Lives Matter – –  and the Cancel Culture.

Social movements are not new to the United States.  Almost from the very beginning of our country, the United States has faced major social changes, brought about by those in opposition to their society.   In the first term of President George Washington  he faced the Whiskey Rebellion, an anti-tax movement of “western” farmers.  The social movement continued.  The great Religious Revival sought to change the wicked ways of society.  The anti-immigrant movement was in response to millions of immigrants taking “American” jobs.  The anti Slavery movement pointed out the falsehoods in this country’s founding documents and led to the Civil War and the freeing of millions of enslaved people.

The Temperance movement and the resultant Prohibition.  The Suffragette movement which led to the political freedom of women.  Anti-nuclear after World War II,  the Environmental movement, the women’s movement, the Civil Rights movement – – the list is long.  Most change in this country is brought about by grassroots movements from those often felt over-looked or left out.

The difference today, is that those movements are coming more quickly.  What used to take decades or lifetimes, now occur in just years.  Modern communications and a compliant media make these changes feel like the country is falling apart.   Add a worldwide Pandemic and the inability to socially engage while we’re trapped in our homes, and the whole damn things seems overwhelming.

But its just the way our country is.  When a portion of our society feels our country is out of touch, the grassroots rise up and slaps those in power back into some sense of reality.

The difference this time is the speed of change.  We just haven’t had the time to process it all and it seems too much to take.  But, we’ll get through it, and hopefully we’ll have a better country in the end.  The word here is “hopefully.”

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Election Observations

August 6th, 2020 by Ken

Republicans in Thurston County can count on getting around 30 percent of the vote in any partisan election.  Very few Republicans can get much beyond that thresh hold .But, Kim Wyman is an anomaly among local Republicans.  While votes are still being counted, Wyman has received nearly 58 percent of the vote locally, while creeping along statewide at just over 50 percent.  Kim is well-liked in Thurston County and has won the support of many Democratic voters by her sense of fair play and lack of partisanship in her job as the state’s election officer.  Taking on the hated Donald Trump over his opposition to “Vote By Mail” hasn’t hurt.  Besides, it gives many local Democrats the ability to say they vote for some Republicans.

In the race to fill Denny Heck’s vacant seat in the 10th Congressional District, the General Election ballot will contain the names of two Democratic women.  Beth Doglio, with her base of support in Thurston County and Marilyn Strickland with her base in Pierce County will face each other in the finals.  Doglio has left the state legislature to try for the up town seat, while Strickland has come from the private sector, even if it was from King County.  Doglio  has depended on the traditional base of Democratic support, teacher unions and women.  Strickland has garnered the support of two former Democratic Governors and her base from serving as Mayor of Tacoma.  Since both of these women will get Democratic support in the General election it will boil down to which one of them can get independents and Republican support.

In the 22nd District race to fill Doglio’s legislative seat, former Olympia City Councilmember Jessica Bateman and former Lacey Police Chief Dusty Pierpoint are neck and neck.  Both appear headed for the General Election ballot.  Bateman is a Democrat, Pierpoint is a Republican.  Pierpoint has a tough challenge.  Three other Democrats were in that race including Mary Ellen Biggerstaff and Glenda Breiler.  Chances are pretty good that most of their votes will go to Bateman.  Pierpoint is going to have to find some well to shake the Republican label and convince voters that all politics is local.

A couple of local items of interest.  The race for Thurston County Commission in District one, was always the most interesting contest on our Primary ballot.  Former County Commission Bud Blake had moved into the district to run against current commissioner Hutch Hutchings.  Wisdom held that those two would battle it out for a place on the General Election ballot.  But, at the most recent counting, both Blake and Hutchings were third and fourth in the standings.  Both of them were running as independents.  As of this date (August 6) Democrat Carolina Mejia is leading the pack with Republican C. Davis holding a slim lead over Blake.  Looks like party labels may actually mean something.  (More on this race at a later date.)

And finally is the race for Thurston County Superior Court. Sharonda Amamilo is holding a major lead over second place Scott Ahlf.  With four people running for the job, three are white males.  Only Amamilo is not.  Looks like there is some validity to the effort to get people of color (and women) into elective office.  (Not taking anything away from Sharonda).

We’ll take a deeper look at some of these races later.

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Vote by mail is safe but unwise for the first time

August 3rd, 2020 by Ken

I am not a fan of “Vote By Mail”.  I think it makes voting too easy.  Something as important and significant as picking our leaders, shouldn’t be the same as paying the power bill or the credit card bill.  It should take some effort and some study.  The worse thing for a democracy is an ignorant voter.

Having said all that, I have accepted “Vote By Mail” and participate in the election as I have for every election for the last 50 years.

For the most part, voting by mail has become a standard in voting safety.  Very few fraudulent ballots make their way to the counting table.  The last statistic I heard was that 0.01 percent of all ballots in Washington State were found to be illegal.

When Washington started “Vote By Mail” nearly a decade ago, it was a new idea and as such it had growing pains.  Most of those are in the past.  That last impediment to voting by mail was the need to put a stamp on your ballot.  In my view that was a poll tax.  The need to use a stamp was recently done away with.

States which are attempting “Vote By Mail” for the first time will have a number of problems.  Signature checking, which use to occur at the ballot box, will now have to be done at a collection station.  Voters will need to have a place they can drop the ballot off and be assured they are safe.  That takes to time to do and time for voters to have confidence their ballots are safe.  And, voters need to be assured that who they vote for is kept confidential.  That takes time as well.

So, states voting all by mail for the first time will encounter a great deal of troubles, concerns and questions.

The biggest problem comes at the end, when the collection center is over-whelmed with thousands of ballots arriving after election day.   Not only does this spread out the counting of the ballots, but it leaves close races blowing in the wind with no answer for weeks.  There is no ending day when the counting has to stop.  The election is usually over when it has to be certified – and even then there still may be uncounted ballots.

My solution to this problem is that all ballots must be received at the election office by the end of business on election day.

Any state attempting all “Vote By Mail” for the first time will have to be aware that you can’t make the baby walk until it has developed enough to take the first step.  And, taking the first step because you have little recourse is a poor way to learn to run.

 

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Raise the voting age

July 31st, 2020 by Ken

There’s a move underfoot to repeal the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution.  For those not constitutional scholars, that’s the amendment that lowered the federal voting age to 18.  Passed in 1971 in response to the Vietnam War, it has been the standard for 40 years.  It only applies to federal elections, but all states have adopted it for local and state elections.

That move has changed the face of our elected officials and has lead to the passage of a number of bills which has led to a softening of our laws.  Many of them not in the best interests of privacy, free speech and curtailment of individual liberties.

Aging Baby Boomers, who were the recipient of the law, are now Senior Citizens.  They have seen the troubles letting teenagers vote.  Remember, humans don’t have all of their brain cells fully working until around 23 years of age. That the part of the brain that truly understands the ramifications of actions.  (We didn’t know that at the time.)   But, to me, its not the lack of brain cells in teenagers, its the fact that they already know everything.   That leads to votes appealing to nirvana without understand the negative fallout of actions necessary to achieve that state.

It’s time us seniors utilize our voting power for something important – the future.  Lets stop this insanity of teenage voting and put the country back on a track that utilizes the full brain power of its voters.

 

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Covid slows search for new Lacey Police Chief

July 30th, 2020 by Ken

Covid 19 has slowed the search for a new Lacey Police Chief.  According to Lacey City Manager Scott Spence, a traditional search for a new police chief is out of the question while Covid 19 continues its reign.

“We can’t do a  search using the old methods,” he said.  We wouldn’t be able to have public interviews or opportunities for the public to meet the candidates.

Lacey Police Chief Ken Semko retired in April because of health concerns.  Deputy Police Chief Robert Almada stepped in as acting chief.  “We’re fortunate to have an acting chief of his caliber,” Spence said.  “Because of his capabilities, we’ll wait until the threat of Covid has disappeared before we begin a search.”

Spence had no time line.  “Right now the Covid 19 seems to be getting worse,” he said.

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