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Al Gore for President !!!

Time to revisit my Nov 25, 2022 post.

“Raging moderate”

Won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Created the Internet — Yes, he pretty much did.

Devoting his life to stop the Global Warming that is frying the future.

Actually, won popular vote for president but didn’t tear the country apart to gain power.

Very young, by current presidential standards.

Good enough for me.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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More work against it than for it!

 We are what we choose to listen to, and what we choose is what we like to hear, and those we like to hear need to dumb down each story for the few seconds they will have of our attention spans – always simplistic and blood boiling.

  A kind of witch’s cauldron of mob creation, all illustrated now on college campuses and created by a media stuffing the sub-human attacks, first on Oct. 7th and then the horrific response.

 Ask any of those college demonstrators or perhaps your own children what it is all about, and I guarantee you they will give you simplistic answers anchored in resent events and nothing on the long agony that began before Israel itself.

 I have no cure for the hatred, other perhaps than restarting civics education in our schools. 

 I just wish we could push back the clock to 1947 and given them Wyoming instead.  (Please NO hate mail. It is just a joke………………I think?.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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When last did any of us have an intelligent thoughtful conversation on a political issue?

  I once lived on politics. At parties, dinners, or gatherings of any sort I so enjoyed the give and take of anyone foaming forth with political opinion.  I enjoyed it most when secretly agreeing, I would take an opposing view and put the greatest value when my view of things had been changed.  Nothing engages more than that moment in an argument when you realize you are wrong.

 My wife referred to it as my “party games.”

 It is such no more.  Most have simply become what they choose to listen to and what they listen to is what they want to hear.

 Political discussion has devolved into angry, simplistic argument, regurgitating this self-serving media source or that.   Who speaks loudest, most fervently often feels victorious but only hardens what might be a less demagogic, respectful opposition. Views are never changed.

 You can look back over the past decades and witness how thoughtful conversation evaporated into slogans, or in today’s vernacular “narratives” successfully punching their way into the public mind, like easy to grasp, quickly satisfying Big Macks.

  Absurdly, there is no longer communion on facts.  It is no longer a world as one of my past employers put it on the Senate floor, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”  Today everyone claims the facts. Without a trusted source of what is fact and what is not, voters simply choose the facts they like.  

 There will never be more Lincoln Douglas style debates that consume the nation’s interest, no longer the hours long arguments atop soap boxes in public squares that followed the American revolution and certainly not the long thought out through examinations of public issues discussed in Greece or the Roman Forum – times and places where the art of argument was a studied and appreciated art that enabled an attentive citizenry capable of self-governance.

  Today, a voter’s political discussion is what remains after Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, TikTok and a thousand more attractive entertainments consuming their time.  For most, the time left for the “downer” politics has become, is just enough to get a Big Mack loaded with the simplistic self-satisfying nonsense some cook gets voters to eat.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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FOUNDATIONS – Chapter 50

Websters dictionary – Foundations   a: funds given for the permanent support of an institution — 


I never go to sleep angry when I can stay awake all night pissed off. Any perceived injustice, rightly or wrongly, broils my brain into the wee hours. The “what was said, could have said, should have been said” pummels through the hours till exhaustion sets in.

 It is a rare opportunity when you get to say exactly the right words you wish you’d said, that your fury requires. Rarer still, when after saying it, you aren’t absorbed with regret and kicking yourself in the ass in the light of day.

 Such is the case in an interview I gave The Chronicle of Philanthropy, published for charity leaders and foundation executives:

Question: “Is the civics work these foundations are funding doing some good?”

Answer: “Not necessarily in governance. They want a Big Mac, a quick satisfaction kind of solution to problems:  Fund a program and will voters show up? Fund a program and will special interest influence disappear, etc?  If you can’t strike quick gold that can be easily measured and valued, someone at the foundation that supported it isn’t going to look good.”

Question: “But you apply to foundations for grants?”

Answer: “Yes, but I constantly struggle with grant writing language that makes us appear like the champions of the latest foundation fad, when the reality is that we don’t really care what the fad is; we just mold our language to adopt it.  What Vote Smart cared about last year, cares about this year and will care about next year is just one thing: That voters have the facts to make wise choices regardless of their political view and that we stay so pristinely clean that everyone could take our data to the bank. If you are going to toss power out to the mob you’d better make sure the mob knows what it is doing.

 Civics grantees become contortionists who twist their needs into the never-ending new language and new ways to serve whatever the latest foundation fads are.  That is the game.”

Question: “If you don’t want the money for the latest fad why ask for it?”

Answer: “Fall out.  With every grant for some new project there is at least some fallout that helps us with our primary goal, our reason for being.  It might be in the overhead, it might be in the volume.  For example: If a foundation thinks the public cares about or should care about campaign finance information which we provide but know they aren’t asking about, what the Hell, we can still be their man.  So, we don’t poopoo the project they want us to implement, we simply play Father Knows Best, give them what they want and we get the grant knowing the personnel or equipment the grant pays for will be un-used or under-utilized and thus available for other worthwhile endeavors. Sometimes all of this twisting gets pretty batty.  For example, one foundation wanted to fund bi-lingual researchers to handle new immigrant callers to our Voter’s Research Hotline. That is fine with us even as we know every Spanish-speaking immigrant interested in voting research can easily get by in English, but if we let the foundation do what it wants, we get two more researchers with nothing to do, who can help us with the research and answer those phones.”



Question: “Why not ask for what you need?”

Answer: “We do, but all proposals need to be put in a pretty package.  Some concerned people at foundations know the game and they know you know the game, but because they support what you do, will help you convince their own board with advice. Usually choosing the right words, just the right colored wrapping paper and bow that a foundation board will find attractive.

 If you ask boards directly for help with your REAL year-in, year-out needs you will hear: “We do not fund existing programs,” or “We don’t provide general support,” or “We do not provide sustaining support,” or” Our new president is interested in changing directions.”

 As I mentioned, few foundations will fund good government organizations or what they call “GooGoo” efforts.  This is often true when a big foundation changes presidents. New presidents or boards want their own moment in the sun and will not build a reputation on the fresh droppings of their predecessors no matter how fertile those droppings may have been. Of course, that behavior makes building anything substantial or sustainable in civics education unlikely.”

Question: “What is wrong with foundations investing in new innovative ideas?”

Answer: “Nothing, if it is successful and that success continues to be nurtured, but civics success rarely is. Big foundations get bored if there are not instant results, a kind of “been there, done that, move on” mentality.  Their attention span is like kids at recess.  They will play for a while, and if not quickly ahead pick up their ball and go home. They do this in part because civic non-profits cannot prove success. Vote Smart cannot prove that it is enabling better self-government because of its work. It is simply reasonable to assume that if a people are going to self-govern, it would be nice to make sure they have access to abundant, accurate, relevant information.”

Question: “But don’t they start a lot of good programs?”

Answer: “They sure do, and we have many of them. We have a Reporter’s Resource Center, a K-12 Education Program, and Inclusion Programs for minorities, low-income and youth, Vote Smart at your Library Program, Congressional Snapshot programs for newspapers and radio.  We have had publications for journalists, schoolteachers, and new immigrants, some printed in Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese.  All these programs were created at the behest of some foundation, all successful, used and needed by the end users.  All of those foundations that funded those programs knew at the outset that those programs had little chance of becoming self-supporting because the users had no money and almost every foundation eventually got bored or changed leaders and pulled their funds to do something else.

  “By 2010, you could walk through our offices and see volunteer after volunteer struggling to sustain the remnants of such efforts or visit our archives and see them boxed up. Efforts that ate substantial portions of our funds and enormous amounts of staff and volunteer time.  It is very disheartening to a volunteer-based non-profit like Vote Smart when so many of our resources are consumed by foundations that have junked their notions onto the shoulders of our students and volunteers.”

 Question: “Some think commercial interests can and will provide all of this information.”

Answer: “Could be, but we can still hope that in the thousands of years of human existence we might have learned that putting all political power, which is what access to information is, in the hands of for-profits is a dangerous thing to do. They are “for profits,” and serving the bottom line is their reason for being, not We, The People.  Foundations often make righteous efforts to combat special interests’ influence, while leaving voter education to those same interests who so clearly twist and manipulate information to scare voters into behaving the way they want them to in a voting booth.”

Question: “Why do you think voter turnout is so low in the U.S.?”

Answer: “It is hard to get energized choosing between your jerk and their jerk.  People aren’t stupid. They know that no one can win public office without playing the game and that playing the game requires one to become damaged goods and far less honorable than voters want and should expect. The wonder is why the people take it, why they do so little to encourage and support honorable citizens they know to run and then protect them from this unseemly mess.

 Let us say you and I run against each other for governor.  You want to be real, do the right thing. You spend your days talking to voters, maybe in workplace meetings, churches, schools, and neighborhoods telling people why you are running, what you think, listening to what they think, sharing ideas about how to best represent them. It’s a real give and take, learning, getting to know them and they you, all that good useful stuff.   

 At the same time I spend all my time raising big money from the wealthy, corporations, labor unions and other large professional associations who will want access to me if elected.

 In the end I will have money, you your passion for good. I will make you look foolish and I have the money to do it.  I will bombard you with trashy ads all designed to humiliate you. I’ll embarrass you in front of your family and friends and there will be nothing you can do to defend yourself, because you did what was right, honorable and helpful to all, instead of what the system requires you to do, if you want to win.

 That is why so few honorable people run, people you know, people in your own community, people who have spent lifetimes doing good. They aren’t going to run, it is just ugly, and they are not going to subject themselves or their families and friends to the process.”


 This interview was never published, I presume because an old friend I worked with in Senator Mondale’s office conducted it for the Chronicle of Philanthropy and wanted to protect me.

 When he told me I was angry, so like I said, I let it broil my brain into the wee hours and when I got up, I published it to foundations myself.


(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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The Daisy Commercial

 We handled 211,000 Voter’s Research Hotline calls that 1992 Election, with many times that number of calls not able to get through at all.  You would think I could do the math and listen to reason.

 If we grew as the numbers suggested and I thought we would and mostly did, we would need a room big enough for a thousand phones. 

 Scott Langley, a young genius grad student who volunteered in our IT Department, gave a lot of thought to our dilemma, when he was not thinking about Gundula, a drop-dead gorgeous brainiac intern from Germany. Unrecognized by me, the love affair, unrequited I think, forecast a number of future Vote Smart trials. Life with the young!

 Scott approached me one afternoon and suggested that we create a web site, put all our researched data on it and let people review it for themselves.

 Like many of an older generation I dismissed this innocent naive young pup. “No way Scott, isn’t gonna happen” I firmly ruled. “It took the telephone a hundred years to saturate 97% of American households. Everyone has access to a phone, you do not need to know how to type, you do not need to have an education, you do not need an expensive computer, you just need to be able to dial. Hell, you do not even need your own phone, you can just go to a pay phone on any street corner and dial our 1-800 number. Forget it.”

 I successfully fought Scott and his growing number of young web site intern advocates from burdening us with some real progress. Finally, they got so irritatingly bothersome that I chucked a couple thousand dollars at them just to shut the Hell up.

 I do not really know how they did it, I didn’t pay much attention.  In hindsight, they put in a few bazillion extra hours and then asked if they could go live and announce our data was on the “Vote Smart Web.”

 You have to understand here that this is back in the early 90s, no one had such a website, not news organizations, universities or anyone else.

 “Jesus Christ! OK, OK, get out of here,” I bellowed.

 Some weeks later, Scott and his little gang surrounded me and handed me a single white sheet of paper.  It turns out that they had in those weeks more inquiries for our data on the Vote Smart Web than we had in the prior three years over my cherished phoneasaurus.

 We attracted a great many more users of our factual data, which attracted some curiosity from other foundations.

 Foundations do not often fund good governance efforts, or what they called “googoos,” largely because it is difficult to measure success in governance or in our case, making smarter voters.  In fact, there was considerable evidence that American voters were becoming dumber.

 Anyway, those foundations willing to give a pittance of what they have, saw some pretty solid evidence of our success with those we could reach.  We could show a lot of people trying to use what we had done, quite a few that would send in contributions to help, and actually generating more volunteers and interns willing to work for free than we could afford to accommodate.  Most importantly to foundations, we were a new group and thus a new find for some foundation staffer that wanted to look good in a board meeting.

 Most major foundation staff had an attitude: all had the power (dollars) to lord over non-profit startups, they knew it, and insisted that you knew it too. Having a humble, subservient hang-dog demeanor was the rule for all non-profits. Even as the staff of large foundations existed on the droppings of some dead person’s pile of success from long ago. As consequence, a lot of groveling was involved.

 My discussions with smaller foundations, where the source of their funds was often still breathing and happy to meet with me, were very different, always fun, and included lively conversations where I could harvest new knowledge and ideas.

 Russ Hemingway, a 78-year-old with rugged good looks, created a foundation that supplied millions to congressional candidates. Because of his political bent, I would not accept money from him but that was not all I was after. Firsthand experiences on how things got to be such a mess could be as valuable as cash in hand.

 As a young man Russ had been Adlai Stevenson’s (a Democratic presidential nominee beaten by Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s) Campaign Manager. Of all the wisdom he pumped into my brain this unknown story is amongst the best.  Adlai was campaigning from the back of a caboose somewhere in the mid-west on what was called a “whistle stop tour” when Russ saw the first political television commercial ever produced. It was done by Eisenhower.  Rushing to catch up with the train, Russ told Adlai he had to get off that caboose and go cut a commercial, that Eisenhower was talking to millions in their living rooms on these new televisions while Adlai only a few hundred at each stop.  Adlai refused to get off the train, saying, “If we are to advertise ourselves like boxes of cereal, democracy will die, for you could not win the Presidency without proving you were unworthy of the job.” 

 Russ, the “young pup” of his day, eventually broke Adlai down and they did cut a silly commercial with some woman singing “Vote Stevenson, vote Stevenson, a man you can depend on-son……!”

 Candidates quickly caught on to the new power of simplistic mass massaging soon enough. A few years later Lyndon Johnson cut one of the most effective political ads ever aired.  It was anchored in the height of the Cold War. In 1964, Goldwater had responded to a reporter questioning whether he would ever consider using a nuclear weapon with, “It is just another weapon” and he would not lay his cards on the table in front of our nation’s enemies.  A pretty stand answer that had been given by our other leaders for almost 20 years.  But this was right after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Americans had been digging holes in their back yards to hide from the end of the world. Johnson saw his chance and created what was called the “Daisy Commercial.” It filmed an innocent little girl in a pasture counting the petals on a daisy while a nuclear bomb explodes in the background, and Goldwater saying, “It is just another weapon.”  Its point: Goldwater is crazy and if president, would start a nuclear holocaust should conflict with Viet Nam escalate.

 The commercial was incredibly successful even though Johnson paid to play it only once. It was played over and over as a news story on all the networks, and started a media feeding frenzy that Goldwater would not survive.  Johnson would not even have to play his grossly unfair back up commercial, one no one saw, where he unfairly imagined Goldwater with the burning crosses of the Ku Klux Klan.

 Over the coming years our board meetings would take place at the Capitol Building or in various congressional offices in Washington, where most of our founding board resided. Little ever changed from the original concept of collecting factual data and laying it out in free, easy-to-access categories.

 And, of course, the three basic rules to protect Vote Smart’s integrity were scrupulously maintained: 1.  Board members with political reputations had to join with a political enemy. 2. We accepted no funding from any organization that lobbied, supported, or opposed candidates or issues. 3. All staff signed up for a two-year election cycle or whatever remained of one, and was paid only Peace Corps-style wages—just enough to subsist on.

 My foundation groveling became modestly successful, raising a few hundred thousand dollars during each of a half dozen election cycles.

  To give you some idea of how we attracted foundation support: A most promising grant was given so we could test our programs in disenfranchised communities with low civic involvement. We selected a few dozen precincts around Atlanta and San Francisco and saturated them with Vote Smart programs while staying completely out of other similar precincts.  When the election ended, I asked a wonderfully supportive good friend, prominent professor, and survey specialist, who I asked to join our board, Dr. Brent Steel to do a survey. Using a team of students making calls he went back into those precincts to see if any impact could be measured. To our happy surprise we found that those groups receiving our programs got excited about their ability to impact governance and each of these precincts measured a 5% higher “confidence in government” rating than those not receiving our programs. As Brent reported, in the world of civic engagement in a single election season, that is huge movement. But then, as happens with large foundations, their board leadership changed and neither they nor any other foundation was interested in continuing what had been a previous board’s idea.

 After some years of such foundation behavior my anger with large foundation arrogance would boil over in an interview, I gave a publication for foundation executives called The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The interview would scald Vote Smart for years to come.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Kimball with nieces 


 “Can I please have a bicycle, or a doll house, or a football, or a tea set, or a baseball glove, or some skates, or a bow and some arrows, or a cap gun with holster, or a pair of ballet shoes, or a basketball, or a jump rope,  or some marbles with agates and steelies, or a swing set, or a play house, or a Pogo stick, or a ping pong table, or a Barbie doll, or a chemistry set, or a couple of Nancy Drew mysteries, or a BeeBee gun,  or a Hula Hoop, or some swim fins, maybe some monkey bars—- I just want to do stuff.”


 “I just love my room.”  59% of girls and 86% of boys ages 10 to 17 are asking Santa for video game-related gifts this Christmas.”

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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  Nothing is more dangerous than the illusion of knowledge.  Political preachers cast out their spurious nets each day to capture more devotees and then suffuse them with hatred toward any that disagree.

  It is the poison in our democracy and what can lead to the intractable Hell in the Middle East.

  Israel has known no peace, nor is it likely to ever know peace surrounded by political preachers whose mantra is “death to the Jews.”

As consequence, Israel does what it does or dies!

   And so it goes, more terrorists created than killed.

   The only alternative would take years of flaunting our humanity while expunging the hideous with selective attacks, thus cleaving the population from Hamas and the politics of hate.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Isn’t what it once was!

 One incorruptible source for the facts. A source void of opinion or interpretation that both the right and the left could turn to in absolute confidence for the documented records on those who govern or wish to replace those who do.

 Detailed biographical, educational, financial and voting records, comprehensive public comments made, and evaluations by dozens of conservative and liberal groups were available to anyone caring enough to gather them. All could easily be made searchable by name and issue of interest.

 Like a bat to the head, it struck me: a candidate could be forced, with or without their cooperation, to provide a detailed application of employment, just the way all people must do—only better.

 Hell, I thought, voters wouldn’t have to listen to all the self-promotional nonsense milking the people’s emotions. Voters could clearly see what candidates had done in the past and then know what would be done for them or to them if elected. Frustration would no longer be a citizen’s only alternative; they would mob such a system.

 In February 1988 I left my grass hut and by March the Internal Revenue Service received an application for a new non-profit called the Center for National Independence in Politics.

 An absurd meaningless name for sure! Such things can make sense after passing a barber shop called SNIP and when out of oxygen during a challenge match of racquetball with an older brother. That is exactly how I came up with an acronym before I came up with an actual name. I wanted something that would fit the logo I had in mind:

 That is to say, I made some mistakes. Although my idea was a great one, it had a bit of slop stuck to it.

 With just a few former campaign volunteers who still had faith in me we could test the idea in a couple of states. That, and finding some prominent people of both major parties to back up the work and you had the makings for a cure to all the choreographed chicanery of then-day American Politics. Everyone in politics knew this cancer was now eating away at the heart of our democracy.

 Yes, this would work, I was certain of it. I was excited, I had something to do, something important to do. I felt like I had seen the Holy Grail off in the distance. All I had to do was go get it and bring it home to a needy nation. So, I caught that train and headed home.

  As it would turn out, I had little trouble finding the Grail. Bringing it home would prove difficult, and once it arrived a few million instantly used it.  But as I would discover, the other 200 million or so just wanted to enjoy whatever their version of a Barco Lounger, beer and a football game was.

 Back home I had to find some means to earn a bit of money that didn’t take much time so I could work on CNIP. Substitute teaching and teaching a few classes at a community college would be perfect, only it required a college degree.  So, I took my Mexico walkabout to visit the Dean of the Languages School at the University of Arizona. It seems that my crude, largely street slang Spanish impressed him so much that he passed me out of my two-year language requirement on the spot. So, twenty years after entering the University as a wholly irresponsible young man I got my degree. When I mentioned it to my mother, she was not so much surprised as she was in disbelief. I think many mothers always see their children as they were when young. In her mind she still saw her children as the nitwits we would forever be, and in my case not without some reason.

 The only thing pressing on my mind when I returned from Mexico was my need for an office to work on my idea and some place to live. Either one would also serve as the other. I purchased an old liquor warehouse which had been on the wagon run from Mexico to Tucson in the 1800s. It had 12-foot ceilings, thick adobe walls and was located in a poor neighborhood, filled with down on their luck men smelling of malt liquor, and bottom rung strung out prostitutes. It was all I could afford, but I loved it.  At the same time, I started doing that teaching work to pay some bills.

 Being a substitute teacher was perfect.  As it turned out substitutes don’t do anything, certainly no teaching.  You were expected to show a film or whatever time-consuming monotony had been assigned by the absent teacher to keep them busy. Most often I simply sat in the back of a class writing letters and stuffing envelopes to everyone I could imagine might help me with my vision, while National Geographic played on a screen or kids wrote reports, usually on one of three things: What I did with my summer, what I got or gave for Christmas, what I plan to do with my summer, all depending on the season.

 As a result, I got some money to eat on and a lot of time to map out a strategy to bring home the Grail.

 Education, the staple of human advance, is in large part due to teachers. After all, next to parents and perhaps peers, they have the greatest impact on child development and each generation’s ability to achieve bigger, better, and cheaper. I always got great support from teachers’ unions. Like all special-interest, labor or corporate unions, teachers want more money. But it wasn’t until I became a teacher that I experienced how ruinous our lack of support for teachers had become. Teachers are no longer supported or have any standing in their communities. With funding often anchored to attendance, schools are more dependent upon students being in the classroom than they are teachers being there.

 Classrooms are stuffed, not with teachers (outgoing money), but with students (incoming money). As a result, students are now in control and teachers suffer the slings and arrows as if responsible for every imagined social ill.

 Public schools are often built and managed like prisons. They need to keep students (money) in. Substituting back at my alma-mater, Tucson High, where my father was student body president, it was easy to notice all the new fences and locks.  The administration told me that it was to keep the unwanted (drugs, weapons and such) out. But that was not actually true.  It was instantly clear to all that fences couldn’t keep anything out, but it could keep students in.  That was the point, the administration wanted to keep its students inside, their funding depended upon it.  Even if they ditched all their academic classes, which a good number did, they got funding if they were at school in any sort of organized class.  So, for those that did not want to learn any geometry or what a constitution was, or even how to read it, the administration had a day long GYM class where the willfully ignorant could play basketball and other games all day long.   

 I always wanted to be sent to the schools where substitutes often refused to go. They were always in troubled neighborhoods where broken homes and alcoholism were common. At 6’ 4” and 260, I could look intimidated and had no problem being assigned to the toughest schools.  Had I been a petite gentler soul, as most teachers were, . . . well, I don’t know how they could do it and my respect for them grew enormous.

 In one, I was assigned 8th graders for a week who had to take their class in a portable classroom that had been erected out on the playground because of overcrowding.  As typical, I started the class with roll call. Also, as typical with students hitting their first teen years, they quickly recognized a “substitute-free day” and were a little unruly—many sitting with their backs to me on top of their desks, blurting out some form of “here” when their name was called. When told to sit down some objected that they did not need to listen to me and one simply refused and told me to “fuck off,” to the laughter of a few of his friends. I asked again and got a “go fuck yourself.”

 The inevitable slip was written out, he was shown the door and directed to go to the principal’s office.

 For the next 40 minutes I wavered between abandoning a classroom of unrulies and running outside to stop the “go fuck yourself” student from pelting the portable with bricks.  Just as the bell ending class was about to ring, the air conditioning unit took a direct hit and began to smoke.  As I unplugged it the bell rang, students streamed out the back door with me quickly following to find the vandal.  Seeing me coming he ran around the unit with a couple of his friends. As I chased them, they ran back into the classroom through the front door trashing all the papers and desks and back out the rear door as I entered.

 As I cleaned up, my next class entered.  Each student looked at me and immediately took their seats – might have had something to do with my countenance. I went on with my day.

 At this miserable day’s end, I stood at the one and only exit to the school and saw my thirteen-year-old, “go fuck yourself,” vandal approaching.  I stood in his path and said, “You need to come with me to the principal’s office.”

 As I blocked his escape, making a path to the principal’s office, his only road, he began a torrent of expletives and descriptions of me that were evidence I was with a prodigy. He was, without question, a young and highly skilled linguist. The unending vulgarity cascading from his mouth was a real marvel to behold. During our walk to the principal’s office, I became a “fucker, mother fucker and a fucker’s fucker,” along with being a “queer, bastard, homo, and shit faced cock sucker,” sprinkled with occasional requests to “suck his dick” or “lick his balls.”

 Through the school’s halls and breezeways to the administrative offices we went.

 The school’s principal came out to investigate the disturbance.  When I told her what had happened, she became annoyed, said, “I have no time for this now,” and exited the building. The smiling little snot quickly followed her lead.

 In my portable the next morning there was a note, “Report to the principal’s office immediately.”  As I entered her office, seated across from her was the couple that had bred the little snot, all claiming that I had twisted the little darling’s arm when I walked him.

 With an apologetic, hopeful smile the principal said that such behavior was not tolerated at the school and that she had called me in to prove it so. Then with a glare at me she spat, “Your services are no longer required here Mr. Kimball, pick up your things and go.”

 Did she know me?  Did she hate my politics? Or was she so unsupportive of all her teachers? Stunned, and more than a bit confused I stammered out a quick defense, saying that I never twisted any arm, or acted angrily at all.  Halfway through the principal’s repeated order to leave, another teacher entered the room, then another, and another until the room was jammed with a dozen or so.  They, too, were angry and ready to unload.  For a moment I thought it was at me and I had re-entered some other unworldly Twilight Zone.

 But it wasn’t at me that the teachers focused their anger, they had the principal in their sights.  They had apparently heard I was being discharged and were now surrounding her desk.  

 It turns out that my focus the afternoon before was so riveted on keeping the little snot on the road to the office that I never noticed all the teachers up and down the hall who had come out to investigate the little angel’s torrent of obscenities.

 The principal was still seated at her desk and now a bit flustered herself when the commentary flew from one mouth, then another and another.

 “You are not firing this man!”

 “I have never witnessed anyone subjected to such disgusting abuse as Mr. Kimball was.”  

 “He never got angry or even raised his voice at (whatever that snotty, con-to-be’s name is).”

“He was completely calm, unbelievably calm, never touched that kid.”  

“Did you go see what that kid did to the classroom, to the air conditioning unit?”

 And then my favorite:

“He took that horrid abuse with a dignity that was as awe inspiring to me as it should have been to (the snot’s name again).”

 In the middle of this most amazing and gratifying release from the Twilight Zone, someone said, “Hey, they’ve gone!”

 The snot and his breeders had vacated the building.

 Most importantly, the Grail: In those classes I found that I was very good at signing and stuffing envelopes.  In fact, even 30 years later I still held two Grail seeking records: One was my ability to sign 1000 letters in 20 minutes, the other was to fold, seal and stamp them by the time Johnny Carson went off the air.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Loving Matt Gaetz

Gaetz mocking Covid on House floor

 For decades I have been arguing about the power of ONE.  I argue with “doubt I will vote” citizens: “A vote is like a little hard chunk of power, if you don’t use it, it doesn’t disappear it just makes everyone else’s chunk more powerful.”

 And as a long forgotten influential once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 WOW! What more proof is needed than Matt Gaetz.

 Even the slimiest can do it!

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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Excerpt from the Mircle of Me

An Autobirography of a Nobody

Chapter 29

 I had not fully understood party caucuses until I participated in one.  I knew these closed-door affairs were used to share information and pressure any unruly members on the fence regarding some issue. However, to any fly-on-the-wall outsider, to was the focus on tactics, (how to screw the Republicans), that could be jaw dropping.

 Of course, Republicans met too, to design a good screwing of Democrats.  In my first meeting, on my first day, there was no caucus talk about the citizens, legislation, or any other matter of substance, just how to get it up and get ready to screw. When we were done, we marched on to the Senate floor, the session was gaveled to order, we exchanged a few formal niceties and got right down to the issue of the day and every day: screwing.

 It was a horrible revelation, when my first Senate session was over and everyone had filed out, I sat in what I imagined was my dad’s old Senate seat, and thought, “My God, was my dad one of these people?”

 I don’t believe he was and as the decades passed, I would come to know that as bad as we were that day, few elected today could measure up to those in either party I served with, nor could have we measured up to those that had served in my father’s era.

 Today, it has deteriorated so badly that visiting some legislatures or the Congress would be like visiting a zoo to find that we had captured all the animals and then put them in the same cage.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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                    MCCAIN ON A BOX TOO HIGH

 It was three in the morning, I was a bit drunk, and pretty weepy sitting on the floor with the last surviving Hard-on, who had won my trust and become what I was certain to be a lifelong friend. He was the Press Secretary on loan from a U. S. Senators office and the only other person left in the office that night.

 I looked over at him, “We can do this.  Forget the money, forget the commercials, let’s do it differently, we can change the way people campaign.  Let’s just get in the car, head out non-stop and start talking real to real people, every group, every church, every club that will listen about things that matter. Screw all this puffed-up manipulative nonsense. It will catch on; I know it will.”

 His response was conventional prudence, dead on accurate, safe, Hard-on realism, and ended the last flicker of hope that I could campaign honorably with my head held high. “If you do that, you will be a joke, I will quit and you will be alone,” he said.

 I simply did not have the confidence to watch all the paid staff pack up, move out and leave me to campaign with real supporters, real friends, and family. Even though I almost certainly would have fallen back to 16% by election day, I have deeply regretted that lack of courage for almost 40 years.

 The following day I was sandbagged in a meeting with major contributors, staff and some close friends who pleaded with me to change my mind. I relented and let the Hard-ons stay.

 The race was over for me, there was no passion, no interest, no desire to run or to serve.  I hated politics and could not wait for Election Day to come, get spanked, and be done with it.

 Appearances had to be maintained for the down ticket candidates, even if just a passionless façade. I owed that, if not to the Hard-ons, at least to the volunteers, my family and friends that had done so much to support me and really did feel that “We need you, Richard Kimball, in the U. S. Senate.”

 I would get a final last chance to be heard in one statewide prime-time televised debate. I had challenged John to debate me in each of the state’s 14 counties knowing McCain would say no and maybe take a hit in those he refused.  His public response was a more effective and amusing, “I want to debate him not live with him.”

 The two-campaigns met and argued over every little detail: Would the candidates stand or sit, would there be podiums, would there be chairs, would the candidates be allowed to walk, what subjects could be covered, how would the set be designed, who would sit on what side, would the questions be known in advance, who would ask the questions etc. etc.

  Each side saw advantage in one thing or another.  One was that they wanted to sit but we wanted to stand.  We wanted to stand because I was 6’ 4” while John, a jet pilot, was somewhat smaller enabling him to fit in that A-4 Skyhawk cockpit he got shot down in.

 My Hard-ons were pleased that they won the stand argument, but failed to see the simple remedy McCain would employ so as not to be seen looking up at me.

 My campaign tried to do as all campaigns do, that is to put me through a series of rehearsals where the Hard-ons and staff fired questions and I would practice giving responses.  Within 30 minutes or so when it became apparent that I would not tolerate my answers being tweaked, the first and only rehearsal ended.

 Discussion after that simply focused on what the Hard-ons considered a “Hail Mary” effort attacking McCain.   John had a temper, a pretty bad one, and we knew it. There were rumors about his behavior toward his staff, colleagues, and family some of which came in firsthand.  The guy had a fuse, and it could be ugly and easily lit. The plan was hatched, that at the end of the debate, when he was comfortable and having only his prepared closing remarks to make, I would hit him with a vicious attack exposing the previously unknown “truths” of his behavior, and in doing so hopefully, expose his inner self. The Hard-ons greatest hope was that he might take a swing at me.

 Adding nothing to my credit, I did not oppose the idea and prepared to deliver the slimy sodden mess.

 On the day of the debate and particularly in the car with my mother on the way to the debate hall, nightmarish thoughts swirled in my panicky brain as I struggled mightily not to show it.  I was certain that my ignorance and foolishness would be dramatically exposed for all to see and be aghast.  In my mind, my incompetence was real, the thought that I should desire to be a member of the most powerful governing body on earth was such a farce, that when all was said and done at the debate not one on my campaign, not a supporter, friend or even mother would be able to vote for me or even look me in the eye.

 Then an odd thing occurred.  We arrived at the hall, and I suddenly felt calm, resigned to my fate. It did not seem to matter much what I did, there was nothing I could do about it, what would happen, would happen.

  I spent a few minutes shaking hands with members of the audience, most particularly those in my opponent’s camp. I heard one of John’s Hard-ons jokingly ask him if he wanted to work the audience.  He didn’t.

 As I shook hands I came eye-to-eye with some of his family, I knew I couldn’t close with the slimy attack thought so crucial to my chances of shaking things up. There was something else I thought I might close with instead.

 During the debate, I only got hit by one or two questions that I had not expected. My answers were largely unpracticed ramblings but not out of line.  I even had a few moments of fun, or what I thought was fun, though much of it would again ensure that the media coverage would say little about anything of substance.  

  John had voted for full funding of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a new military transport that was supposed to be indestructible with substantial defensive and offensive capability.  The vehicle was grossly over budget (as was usual with military contracts) and had flunked its field tests.  When the vote failed, John had voted for a bill providing half funding for the vehicle which also failed.  Then finally, when legislation was proposed to strip all funding for the vehicle, John voted for that too. I had a bit of fun with his support for full, then half, and finally no funding for the Bradley suggesting that John wanted to be all things to all people.

 Most impactfully and perhaps stupidly I then added emphasized with a bit of information completely unknown to the television audience. “You are so insistent on being what you are not, that you even pretend for the audience to be taller than you are by standing on that box hidden behind your podium.”

 A spattering of cheers and boos came from the various partisan factions in the audience, while several photographers edged out of their front row seats to take side shots of John standing on his box.

  He was upset.  And the debate suddenly became far livelier off camera during the commercials than on.  During the breaks we would glare at each other, he would bark things suggesting I was naïve, and I would fire back that he was incapable of honesty.

 Finally, the debate, which the League of Women Voters ridiculously claimed was the most substantive ever, came to the final commercial break just prior to our closing arguments.  I looked over at John, who stood there stiff, and lock jawed staring out above the audience but at no one in particular.  I thought about the scummy attack I had prepared to make in my close. 

 I wouldn’t do it, as I have said, I did not really know the man, had no real reason to dislike him and I was not going to trash his personal behavior. I could not imagine the Hell he suffered as a prisoner, and I secretly admired that he had fared so much better than my imagination suggested I would have.

 Tossing out your all-important closing remarks just before you are about to make them in front of a large audience and thousands of viewers on state-wide television is an odd thing to do.  A kind of discomfort settled over me that I had not felt since before my State Senate filibuster. What was I going to say? My knees began an uncontrollable shuddering behind my podium.  Afraid that the audience might notice I jammed my knees together in an attempt to settle them.  An action that simply made it appear as if I badly needed to pee.  

  The camera came back on and the moderator said, “Mr. Kimball it is time for you to give your closing remarks, you have two minutes.”  What the Hell, I thought.  The election is over I might as well say what had been tormenting me since I took that first $50,000 check. I looked directly into the camera and said these words.  Now I have never gone back to look at what I actually said, but I am pretty confident these words if not spot verbatim, are damn close.

 “Understand what we do to you,” I started, nodding to John. “We spend all our time raising money from people we do not know, people who are going to want access to us if we win and we both spend it in the same identical three ways; First we measure you, we hire pollsters to find out what it is you want to purchase in the marketplace, just like Campbell’s soup or Kellogg’s.  Second, we then hire some consultants who know how to tailor our image to fit what we then know you want to buy. And finally, the most expense thing we do is bombard you with the meaningless, issueless, emotional nonsense that inevitably results. And which ever one of the two of us does this to you best, is going to win.”

 The audience sat in goo goo eyed disbelief without the tiniest peep.  Then John went and gave a standard patriotic close and the debate was over for everyone but the media. For them, or at least their coverage of the debate, it had not yet begun.  The media’s debate coverage would focus almost entirely on what happened next.

 As the announcer was thanking us and the television audience, I decided to have a last bit of fun. While the cameras were still on, I leaned over to John and reached out my hand to shake as he began to reach out his. Only I did not take the last step to be close enough for John to both reach my hand and stay on his box at the same time.

  He quickly retracted his hand.  I just smiled and kept my hand out. His anger was converting into silent fury.  Suddenly, recognizing my thoughtful gesture the moderator chimed in, “Yes it would be appropriate to shake hands now.”   I smiled again at John as my hand went to that same just out of reach spot.

 John crimped a smile to cover the pure venom underneath and stepped off his box to take my hand.  My God, I thought, I have him, he’s going to strike me.  When the camera lights snapped off the stage was instantly rushed by his Hard-ons.  Within seconds he was snared and maneuvered out the back door and into a waiting car before the media could get to him.

 The media coverage had its usual cow pie focus.  On television, when he stepped off the box to shake my hand it looked like he fell into a hole. The following day all the newspapers had stories and pictures of the soap box, little if anything was said about our differing opinions on any issue of significance.

 Years later when he was running for President, I would read a short memoir from a person that had been on his staff the evening of that debate. Writing about the debate’s ending he wrote, “John wanted to kill Kimball.”

 After the debate no one, not my family, not my staff, not the media — no one mentioned my closing remarks. It was as if I had only imagined saying them, and no one heard them but me.  Some weeks later I discovered one person did hear them and that would finally drive me toward a chance at making my life worth the living of it, after all.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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  Cults comfort and nurture the most vulnerable and quietly desperate to find relief from the most broken and painful abscesses brought by life, cracking one’s natural humanist nature.

  Impossible it is for loved ones impacted to use reason with such captured by an idea that takes hold, locks in, and holds out resolution and relief to one so afflicted with pain.

  Most distressing for survivors is not just the loss of a loved one taken, but the common history gone and shared joy in the experience of life.

  It is not uncommon for those whose love is the grandest, whose care is most passionate and devoted, to take the most brutal hits from those seized by a cult’s unerring, regimented, hardened truths.

 To any that might identify with these words:  This night, I feel your pain!

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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 The delusional are no longer marginalized in America. The malignancy is in full bloom invading the civic tissues of every American household.

 You think you matter? You think what you think matters?


 Do you ever wonder why there is global warming, the extinction of half of all other earthly species?  Why religious demagoguery has replaced science, why we do not invest in educating our youth in mathematics, literacy, and science, why we have stripped social studies from school curriculums?  Why our health care is the most expensive in the world, why banks steal and are protected from their thievery?  Why we have gone from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation, obligating you and every other taxpayer to pay $183,000 in damages?

 No, it isn’t what you want, what you support, nor is it what other citizens desire.


“THE PREFERENCES OF THE AVERAGE AMERICAN APPEAR TO HAVE ONLY MINISCULE, NEAR ZERO, STATISTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT IMPACT UPON PUBLIC POLICY.”  (From a Princeton study showing that a bill introduced with no public support, none at all, has a 30% chance of passage, while a bill that has significant, near total public support also has only a 30% chance of passage.)

What moves the needle is money, the $5.8 billion spent by the country’s elites to obtain the $4.4 trillion in payoffs you pay for.  And that is only the nation’s 200 largest banks, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, and such.  They have the power to stop any legislation no matter how publicly popular, along with twice the power to pass any legislation they want even as public support measures at the zilch level.

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder  

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Years from now honey I will be blamed for everything you do!

You would do well to have a Maxine Christy Kimball as President.

She raised four boys alone. By rough calculation she had changed almost 5000 diapers, prepared 65,700 meals, swept, vacuumed, and scrubbed 10,200 rooms and laundered a pile of clothes, that if neatly folded and stacked (not always the case), would have roughly equaled the cruising altitude of a 747. The number of motherly events she shepherd, Sunday masses, birthdays, holidays, PTAs, Cub Scouts, football, baseball, basketball, swimming, science fairs, school shows, doctors’ visits, teacher conferences, summer camps, picnics, vacations, and at least one enema on yours truly, were more numerous than my memories can reasonably be expected to calculate. Not to mention the budgeting, taxes, investments, house maintenance, debts and such other adult fare we never knew about. (excerpt from my Autobiography of a Nobody).

As for the four boys she pushed into college: Well, with them there was alcoholism, thievery, drug use and smuggling, which got one a bit of prison time.

She was qualified to be President, we weren’t!

— —

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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New Year’s resolutions

Losing weight.  The most popular New Year’s resolution.  Started with dogged determination and ending with that first tempting French fry, potato chip or cream puff.

Hard to imagine a resolution more made and less kept.

Maybe this year try something new, less narcissistic and a little more egalitarian, something that helps us all.

Something that gives an option to the easily digested partisan news and provides us with the nutrition we all so desperately need: Supporting a source of accurate, abundant, dependable facts on those that govern or wish to replace those who do:

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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free pics

Yard Sale on American Ethics

If you, as an American citizen are captured, tortured, murdered, and dismembered with a bone saw it’s A-OK with Joe.

That is precisely what your President said last week when he gave immunity to Prince Muhammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, in an obviously agreed to subterfuge using international precedents.

That would be the same Prince that imprisons, tortures, and kills dissenters in Saudia Arabia and sends his agents elsewhere in the world to torture and dismember our fellow Americans like Jamal Khashoggi.

That would be the same two-faced Joe who previously called the prince a “thug” who had “shocked him to his very core.” The same Joe that promised he would make him a “pariah” on the world stage.

Want to celebrate American backbone Thursday by eating some off a turkeys? Just go to Joe’s house.

Richard Kimball

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The “Deplorables” lose!

Hard to win a gun fight with a butter knife but turns out that slathering deplorables with butter seems to be a survivable strategy.

I am a BANG! BANG! kind of guy. I will always want a gun, but I have now been given a lot of leeway in my wrongness. Turns out most American’s, including a lot of captured Republican’s and a whopping number of Independents have said, “Take it easy Richard, we’ve got this.”

Hate for now, grows weaker, making November 8th a day for celebration, when the responsible showed their muster. When the red tide of galactic stupidity was turned away at the door.

Richard Kimball

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Aborted fetus — free clip art

My Take

Back when I was in politics there were many legislators who wanted to find means to reduce the number of abortions and the means to protect a woman’s determination regarding her own life. Had we politically survived and worked together, millions of women would never have felt the need for an abortion and millions of fetuses would never have been aborted.

But such rational communication is long dead.

Such leaders no longer survive and the views now so hardened — “I’m right, you’re wrong”, to win at any cost, effectively causes millions of avoidable abortions.

Over time, resignation and acknowledgement of the absolute victory these two intransigent sides have had, has changed my view somewhat. Now my position on abortion simply depends on my mood when I wake up in the morning.

Some mornings I am full of love and want to save every life. So I am an absolute NO. After all, I say to myself, I am the kind of guy that catches indoor spiders to set them free outdoors. If I can avoid it, I won’t step on an ant. I just do not want to cause the end of any kind of life.

On other days, I wake up pretty sour, thinking of what my species has done to countless other species (like the Bambi experiment pictured above), including our own. I think YES, abortions should be required of every pregnant woman and post-birth abortions should be the law of the land for anyone not obeying. Only in that way can we rid the earth of my species’ befoulment of it.

Now I know on those days all people are aghast at my position, but I feel confident that every other species on the planet stands in thankful celebration and ovation.

Which leads me to my point and the truth of it. Most voters standing self-righteously on either side of abortion, really don’t care all that much. That is why a few weeks ago abortion may have been the #1 issue in this year’s election but, as always, as the election draws near, such issues of grand importance fade, taking a distant second to the true heart of voters’ real concern: MY MONEY! MY MONEY!

Richard Kimball — Vote Smart Founder

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First, they took my civics education.

Then they de-funded my school.

Then uneducated, ignorant of democracy and unable to think critically, I was set free and found my faith in what I wanted to believe rather than what I should believe.

Once American education was the envy of all, our student performance second to none, our skill at self-governance a beacon the world over.

The attack on education, truth, and the facts is no accident. The dimmer we become, the more malleable we are.

The only remedy is to sustain at least one source for trusted facts that any citizen can turn to in confidence — facts without interpretation and protected from influence. is exactly that, but requires a people’s will to use it, believe in it, and to support it. A source to which all conservative and liberal citizens can turn in confidence for the facts and the truth that is dependent upon those facts. Without that, we cannot sustain an ability to self-govern successfully.

It can be done, ensuring its integrity with an elected board balanced between the multiple sides on major national issues. Supported without dependence upon self-serving interests and operated by those willing to commit their time and expertise in the national interest and not financial self-gain.

That is what strived to be. As a young man, my boss once said, “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” Without or an organization very much like it, it is not the meek that shall inherit the earth, but the stupid.

Richard Kimball

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“Let Them Eat Rocks.”

I have often wondered why God did not say that, but “he” didn’t. He said, “Let them eat Life.”

Rocks are mixtures of one or more minerals. Just like apples, butter, flour, and sugar are the ingredients of apple pie, minerals like quartz, mica, and feldspar are the ingredients of granite. Mixing and matching various proportions and degrees of heat make an unlimited variety of could have been, should have been foods. Not to mention other types of rocks.

We could have evolved with suckers, dissolvers or diamond encrusted teeth and systems that made good use of such nutritious minerals. But he didn’t, he said, “Let them eat life.”

Was it an error in judgement or did he really intend the consequences?

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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