George Le Masurier, Publisher
Jerre Redecker, Senior Editor
John Dodge, Columnist
Mary Gentry, Community Representative
Doug Mah, Community Representative
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I will miss Congressman Norm Dicks when he retires from Congress at the end of this year. For whatever the criticisms of Dicks, to me, he is the last of the true congressional statesman. He functioned in a bipartisan manner and put the welfare of our nation ahead of party politics. It seems that members of Congress just don’t operate that way anymore. A few years ago, I watched him on C-SPAN debating the Department of Interior subappropiations budget. He genuinely cared about the opinions of his Republican colleagues, even yielding his time to them when appropriate. As I watched Dicks treat his colleagues with civility, respect and decency, I wished the rest of Congress, and other politicians, would exhibit the same behavior.
Dicks is a well-known proponent of the armed forces who carefully guarded the military bases in Washington state from cuts and closures. And while he voted for the Iraq war, he was strong enough as a person to admit when he was wrong. I respect that. We lost family in Iraq, and we currently have family on domestic bases. I don’t think for one minute that Dicks wasn’t troubled by the loss of life of our military personnel and he sincerely cares for the safety of those serving now. It takes a strong person to admit that voting to proceed with a war was a mistake. I haven’t heard a politician admit something that profound since. Mostly, they just change their story.
The main reason the retirement of our congressman is such a loss is that he has been an incredible champion in Congress for arts, heritage, historic preservation and our national parks. He genuinely understands the direct connection between historic preservation and economic development. The most profound example of his legacy is the renaissance of downtown Tacoma. Dicks’ rehabilitation of Union Station into the federal courthouse became the impetus for other historic preservation projects and new development. From the University of Washington Tacoma campus to the new history museum, he recognized that historic preservation was a method of breathing new life into his city. Nationwide, Dicks helped communities succeed in their economic development initiatives through historic preservation grants, the Save Americas Treasures program and tax credits. And it worked. Further, our national parks system couldn’t have had a better advocate. He recognized its importance for heritage tourism, recreation and the preservation of our incredible landscape. Even as budgets for our national parks declined, Dicks always strived to maintain the agency as best he could.
I’ve spent way too much time recently on the receiving end of the doctor-patient relationship.
Some years ago I looked into our garage and saw a car that had once been stylish and shiny new, but now it looked as if it were a relic from another century. Actually, it was.
The one thing we can always count on is change. Yet change is often difficult for people and organizations.
When I applied to be a part of our school newspaper, The Blazer, I expected to work. I expected long hours and frustrations. I expected awkward interviews and fast-approaching deadlines. What I didn’t expect was how much I would grow to love the people I spent sixth period with everyday.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was recently seen assuring his supporters of his anti-abortion stance with the standard line: it’s a “biological fact” that the fertilized egg is alive and that life begins at the moment of conception.
In my experience, no salad tastes as good as the one you grow yourself. Yet many of us would still prefer to purchase our greens from the local supermarket or big box store than invest the time and energy into growing our own. This is one of the most fundamental problems we face as a community: how to overcome modern convenience to build a truly sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t rely on destructive agriculture, fossil fuels, and willful ignorance about the immense harm caused by our eating habits and lifestyle choices.
My first assignment as a young deputy prosecutor was with the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. As a member of that unit, I often accompanied law enforcement when serving search warrants in drug investigations. While I saw many appalling situations, one in particular stands out in my memory. One day detectives served a search warrant at a house in Olympia where heroin was being used and sold. Amid the filth and chaos was a drug addicted mother and her three young daughters. Detectives found heroin and syringes lying out in the open and a machete under one girl’s bed. The girl told them that it was there to protect herself from, “mommy’s friends.” The mother was arrested and the girls taken into protective custody.
The democratic spirit embodies the principle that all people have equal rights – to justice, to protection under the law, to the pursuit of happiness, and so on. But this principle makes some people think there’s equality in everything and that all ideas are just a matter of opinion, so Joe Blow’s ideas are just as good as Jefferson’s or Einstein’s. Some students, for example, have asserted their “right” to spell words any way they please. In ethics and morality, this becomes the attitude that there are no objective standards for behavior, so – as one of my colleagues put it – “Mother Teresa does her thing and Hitler does his thing, and it’s all cool.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once observed that “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.” While Brandeis is 70 years departed, his words are perhaps more relevant now than ever. His insight is a reminder of the fragility of democracy and the tenuous nature of political enthusiasm. Indeed the harsh partisanship and endless gridlock of recent years has lead many to conclude that our political process is broken, and that participation is irrelevant. But such conclusions are precisely why the system is broken and why a small band of elites is able to influence elections in a way that erodes the notion of “one person one vote.”
We really don’t like each other, do we? Each day we see evidence that we have become one nation, divisible. We see so much anger and hatred, and they will become even more apparent as we move toward November. Why? Maybe it’s because we never get to know one another.
Sometimes, I wonder how the idea for a drug court originated. I wonder about this because the creation of drug courts in the United States is, in my opinion, one of the most remarkable innovations in criminal jurisprudence since trial by jury.
I’m about to admit something that will shock and amaze all teenagers, twenty-somethings, middle-aged mamas, granddads and paranoid police officers alike: I do not like to drive. In fact, I hate it. Weird, right? Freedom, speed, looking awesome (in my little yellow slug bug), what’s not to like? I’ll tell you ye of the iron foot – minivans.
Deep in conversation, cellphone pressed to her ear, the lady walks along staring at the ground ahead of her, oblivious to her surroundings. A common sight these days, you say. Yes, but this lady is walking in one of the most beautiful wildlife refuges in North America. She has no interest, however, in the gorgeous plants and birds around her. She lives in a modern electronic world.
In mid-December The Olympian ran an editorial headlined: "If you sign a petition, it should be public record."