The Green Bluff “Conversation”


Dear Group,

 “Conversations with Cathy” are not “conversations.” In a conversation there is back and forth, a chance to hear a talking point and respond by questioning the validity of the point. A conversation is what I had with a Republican friend over a three hour breakfast a couple of weeks ago. I came away with a better understanding of the underlayment for his thoughts and he might have heard enough from me to shift his position a few mental millimeters. 

At the Green Bluff Grange night before last, Tuesday, May 29th, McMorris Rodgers held forth for an hour in front of an audience of about thirty. It turned out I chose a seat next to McMorris Rodgers’ mother. When I asked she told me she had heard of the Town Hall “from an email.” She offered that she wasn’t familiar enough with Facebook to know if it had been posted there. I offered that I had also heard “through an email.” Several of the others if the thirty in the room were paid McMorris Rodgers staff. Even with the very limited advertising, if one were to judge by the questions asked, the audience was divided about half and half between dyed-in-the-wool supporters and detractors. 

Evidence of the limited advertising was not hard to find. One woman I spoke with lives within a mile of the Green Bluff Grange and knows members of the Green Bluff Growers Association (of whom she thought only 4-5 were in attendance). She only heard about the gathering from my email the day of the event. The man sitting next to said he thought he’d seen something in the local community paper. He was very, very impressed that McMorris Rodgers would take time from her important work with President Trump and Paul Ryan to spend some of it with such a tiny crowd in Green Bluff. He later thanked McMorris Rodgers for her vote on H.R. 38, not mentioning it was the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.” (See CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”) Clearly, the NRA (or his church?) was keeping him informed of important developments. 

In a conversation there is quite a lot of back and forth, a chance to challenge background. The crowd was too polite to get beyond niceties of letting her trigger all the mind frames she wanted.

Take the “Balanced Budget Amendment,” for example. At its mere mention there were approving murmurs. One commenter lamented out loud how they’d been working to pass a balanced budget amendment for years. No one, including me, butted in to point out that budgets have two sides, expenditures and income, No one pointed out she had just proudly dropped 1.3 trillion dollars from the income side of the ledger over the next ten years by giving 80% of that money to the already wealthy. No one, including me, probed to see if she had any concept of how a balanced budget amendment would work in the next economic meltdown. (How do you do a stimulus when you have to balance the budget?) No, the approving murmurs went unchallenged. The people of the approving murmurs were highly appreciative of McMorris Rodgers’ vote for a Balanced Budget Amendment even though all of us realize the vote is only symbolic, kept at bay by those evil, misguided Democrats–at least until such time as the forces of good rational capitalism can prevail. (To me this is a wake up call to pay close attention to all those seemingly quixotic votes on abortion, guns, the REINS Act, and many other issues. They may never actually pass–but tilting at these windmills unites the base.)

In short there was no “conversation” around the Balanced Budget Amendment. There was only a nod to a Republican/Libertarian shibboleth.

Net Neutrality? Ah. The regulation as it came from the Obama administration was bad, according to McMorris Rodgers, because it was based on 1930’s law concerning public utilities. “I’m in favor of ‘a law’ against ‘blocking and throttling’ that would apply to ISP’s AND tech companies.” OK. No one asked, including me, if she had put a bill in the hopper. Is this high on her priority list or is she just hoping we’ll forget and let it ride? Forget while the ISPs take up blocking and throttling, warming us slowly like the famous frog in the cook pot. If she tried writing a bill that would regulate anything of financial import her donors would have stroke. Don’t tell us you’re “in favor.” Write a bill, promote it, convince your colleagues, get it passed. 

Climate Change? McMorris Rodgers will not say if she subscribes to the science of climate change. She doesn’t want to be outed as an outright climate denier, but she gives a hint: “The Paris Accords would have wrecked the economy! We’ve already done our bit by improving the fuel efficiency of our cars.” In other words, either she denies the science of climate change or she has given up hope and given up cooperation, preferring a “race to the bottom” in which our children will deal with increasing climate disasters and the rich will build walls to protect their golf courses from the rising sea.

It seems odd she is so sure she can predict the economic future (we must cut entitlements to balance the budget!) and yet she denies the predictions of atmospheric science. The last I checked, atmospheric physics was far more reliably predictive than economics. 

There is more, but I’m out of gas. I hope many will attend today’s 3-4PM pseudo-“Conversation with Cathy” in Pullman. There is a rumor there will be national media in attendance. I hope you will press her for answers to questions I didn’t ask. There is another opportunity in Deer Park on Friday. See the Calendar below for details. 

Keep to the high ground,


Jason Chaffetz in Spokane? Really?

Dear Group,

This Saturday, June 2, the Spokane County Republican Central Committee will hold its “Lincoln Day Dinner 2018” at the Davenport Grand Hotel on W. Spokane Falls Blvd in downtown Spokane. Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz with “special guest,” FOX news contributor Deneen Borelli are featured. 

McMorris Rodgers is not listed as a speaker at the dinner, but she will likely be in attendance. Rest assured she will endorse the talking points. 

Apparently the wedding of the GOP to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News propaganda empire is complete. Chaffetz, after resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives last year, immediately signed on with FOX as a contributor, a position that, according to Politico, is likely to pay better than his Congressional salary. It is also a position that will allow him to push his repugnant views to a large, receptive audience. For an exhaustive and thoroughly referenced list of his “Positions” I recommend reading Chaffetz’ biography in wikipedia. They read like comprehensive list of positions McMorris Rodgers would heartily endorse if she could just induce all her constituents to rely on Fox News for their opinions. That the Spokane GOP is embracing Chaffetz and Borelli as signature speakers (much like bringing Nigel Farage to Spokane last year) speaks volumes about the direction of the Party.

It is a shame most citizens do not take the time to explore the background of the folks who pose themselves as legitimate Representatives. Jason Chaffetz became infamous with his nationally televised iPhone gaffe during the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act. You can watch his 52 seconds of fame here. The following is a quote from another article in the Boston Globe:

Before his announcement that he would not seek reelection, Chaffetz was criticized for equating health care coverage with purchasing an iPhone.

“Americans have choices and they’ve got to make a choice. And so maybe rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest it in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves,” Chaffetz told CNN in March.

For me, Chaffetz’ comment is emblematic of the entire Republican Party’s disconnect from the realities of  life in the United States. He clearly has no idea of the cost of an iPhone or the cost of health insurance, no idea of the risk of medical bankruptcy, no idea of all the tripwires and bombs in the fine print a citizen needs to avoid in the “free market” health care system to which he wishes to return. 

Chaffetz was elected to the U.S. House in 2008. In 2017, citing family and foot surgery, and after experiencing a hostile town hall and the fallout from his CNN interview, he withdrew from Congress. He took his repugnant policies to Fox News…and now he gets top billing at the Lincoln Day Dinner. Lincoln would gag.

You and a partner could meet Mr. Chaffetz at a private reception right here in Spokane for a donation of a mere $1000.  Here is Saturday’s schedule:

4:00 PM Private Roundtable Discussion in Governor’s Suite with guest speakers, Congressman Jason Chaffetz and FOX News Contributor Deneen Borelli.

5:00 PM VIP Reception in East Terrace Room and Cocktail hour in the Grand Ballroom.

6:30 PM  Dinner and Program begin in Grand Ballroom.

9:00 PM  Program concludes.

Here is another opportunity to take a walk…with a sign.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. If you’re wondering why Chaffetz got so much coverage in the Boston Globe click here. Check out the section on “Early Life and Education.” Then read the section concerning the “U.S. House of Representatives, Election, 2008.” In the latter you will read an instructive story concerning polls, money, and winning elections.

CMR’s Town Hall Ruse

Dear Group,

The “Where’s Cathy?” campaign must not have been good public relations for McMorris Rodgers. Instead of responding with a full scale evening town hall or attending one of several to which she was invited, McMorris Rodgers is now investing our tax dollars in a series she calls “Conversations with Cathy.” They are gatherings offered on short notice, usually in small communities scattered around Congressional District 5. They are held at daytime hours that insure that anyone with an hourly job cannot attend. Laughably, they all come with the admonition, “**Space is limited. This event is first-come, first served**” On May 1 she held a “Town Hall” in Davenport on 24 hours notice on her website. It was hardly a surprise when there were only nineteen in attendance, seven of whom were on government salary and mileage. She could have held her gathering in a walk-in closet.

Watch for her and her handlers to make the claim she “leads the Congress” in holding town halls, in “reaching out to constituents.” 

This week McMorris Rodgers deigns to visit Eastern Washington once again, mostly to attend the Spokane GOP Lincoln Day Dinner and Fundraiser this Saturday, June 2, at the Davenport Grand Hotel. She will justify her visit to the region by racking up her tally of town halls and controlled “conversations.” Predictably, this ad appeared on McMorris Rodgers’ official congressional (not Cathy For Congress) Facebook page last Saturday at 9:41AM (the bold is mine):

This week, I’ll host two more town halls here in Eastern Washington to continue hearing from all of you on the issues facing Eastern Washington. Interested in joining? Find information below.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

“Conversation with Cathy” Town Hall
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Pioneer Center’s Whitman Gym, 240 SE Dexter Street Pullman WA
**Space is limited. This event is first-come, first served**

Friday, June 1, 2018

“Conversation with Cathy” Town Hall
10:45 am to 11:45 am
Deer Park Library, 208 S Forest Ave, Deer Park
**Space is limited. This event is first-come, first served**

All who can ought to attend. She needs to field some pointed questions. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Buried in her incomprehensible official website,, is an otherwise minimally advertised town hall. It does not appear on her Facebook post that advertises the two other midday town halls on Thursday and Friday discussed below. Is this because the Green Bluff town hall is in the evening when people with jobs actually might be able to attend? There are questions to be asked.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

“Conversation with Cathy” with Green Bluff Community

When: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Where: 9809 E Greenbluff Rd at the Green Bluff Grange #300 The best I can tell, you’d have be directed to this page or know to add “/events” to McMorris Rodgers’ official page in order to see this. The “Events” button on her Facebook page says she “does not have any upcoming events.” 

Memorial Day

Dear Group,

Today we contemplate the lives…and deaths…of those who fell in service to their country. A day to celebrate family, a day to celebrate what it means to be human. It is a day to visit cemeteries and decorate graves in remembrance of those lying in them. 

The origins of the Memorial Day (once known as Decoration Day) stem from a custom of springtime honoring of the dead, but the official U.S. Memorial Day has its roots in the aftermath of and attempts to heal from the Civil War, the last great conflict actually fought on our soil, a conflict that took the lives of more Americans than any other in our country’s short history, one from which we have yet to fully heal, one we would do well to remember–and contemplate.

As you gather for family barbecues take a moment to consider what it took to get these humans, our ancestors, to leave their homes, their family, their children, take up arms and march uphill to their deaths in a hail of lead. Consider those who exhorted them. Consider the preachers who backed them with justification of slavery, using words from a Bible shared with their Northern counterparts, both sides claiming proper literal interpretation. 

Marvel at what humans can be led to sincerely believe…and die for. 

On this Memorial Day, this holiday, this holy-day, take a moment to consider those who have gone before…all of them…and consider what it means to be human.

Back tomorrow.

Keep to the high ground,


CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”

McMorris Rodgers tells Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” we must have “courageous conversations.” Watch the video at the House Republicans’ propaganda site here.

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers says, “We certainly need to be willing to have the courageous conversations.” She says the United States must come together as a society and examine what is causing the nation’s numerous school shootings. One might think that a “courageous conversation” around shootings in schools might include a discussion of the tools used in these shootings. Ah, well, no.

You see, she isn’t just “protecting Second Amendment rights.” She is actively promoting the agenda of the National Rifle Association to make guns even more a part of life in these United States. At the Ferris “School Safety Forum,” guns, especially assault weaponry, were the elephant in the room. McMorris Rodgers and Ozzie Knezovich wanted more than anything NOT to talk about guns. They wanted to talk about school security and students being nice to each other while reporting any odd behavior by their peers. They wanted to put the responsibility for school violence on the students themselves, their interactions with their fellow students, their supposed addiction to violent video games. 

At the same forum, McMorris Rodgers was steadfast that she would continue to accept contributions from the NRA because “the NRA protects your Second Amendment rights.” 

I am a gun owner. I have been involved in shooting sports and hunting since I was ten. I’m OK with my “Second Amendment Rights,” I do not believe anyone is about to take my guns away. I am NOT OK with reckless expansion of those rights to make our society even more dangerously armed. How can McMorris Rodgers gush about protecting children when she votes to put more people on the streets of Spokane with unregulated handguns and cosponsors a bill to de-regulate silencers? Yet that is preciously what she has done:

On December 6, 2017, McMorris Rodgers voted for H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. It passed on a mostly party line vote by the Republican House of Representatives. H.R. 38 would make it perfectly legal for a 21 year old Idahoan to stick a semi-automatic pistol in his waist band, pull his sweatshirt down over it, and wander the streets of Spokane. He could do so on a whim, with no prior experience handling such a weapon, no forethought, and no need to acquire a WA State Concealed Pistol License required of a WA State Resident. [Residents of eight other States besides Idaho require no vetting at all to carry a concealed pistol, thanks to the Republican/NRA sponsored legislation. (“Concealed Carry in the United States,”  

On March 27, 2017, McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored H.R. 367, the deceptively named “Hearing Protection Act. If H.R. 367 becomes law, it will remove all regulation of gun silencers under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Shooters would be free to own and use silencers to reduce the sound of any gun, including assault weapons and semi-automatic pistols of the type used at Freeman High School. A deranged shooter in a school using such a device on any weapon would be less noticed initially and harder to localize by police. More victims would die. 

Cathy, tell me how these two NRA darling bills you support will make students safer.

Tell me why you and your cronies call it the “Hearing Protection Act?” Do you not wish the average eastern Washington voter to know you want shooters to have unrestricted access to silencers?

Do you even understand the contents of these bills or have you signed on just because the NRA demands such loyalty in exchange for supportive propaganda?

Yes, Cathy, let’s have that “courageous conversation.” Have the courage to plainly discuss the gun legislation you support. 

Keep to the high ground,


Which McMorris Rodgers?

Dear Group,

We return briefly to McMorris Rodgers’ two and a half page snail mail letter dated May 4, 2018 sent to most of her constituents in Congressional District 5. We discussed its divisive message on Tuesday.

Nearly half of the print on the first page of that letter is a dramatic endorsement of “Cathy…and the rest of her very helpful staff” for solving a vexing problem. The Social Security Disability payments for a constituent’s wife had ceased. McMorris Rodgers’ staff interceded with with Social Security bureaucracy to get the payments started again. It is a heartwarming story. But let’s put that in perspective: Such aid to constituents is an important part of the responsibility attached to the “Members Representational Allowance” of 1.3 million taxpayer dollars paid to the CD5 office holder. McMorris Rodgers’ staff are gracious and diligent in offering such aid. That’s what we pay them to do. Let’s thank them, but let’s also realize gracious help was offered constituents when Tom Foley was in office and will be next year when Lisa Brown represents us. It’s part of the job.

McMorris Rodgers’ heartwarming anecdote of assistance reminded me of the deference in which we are trained to hold elected Representatives, especially those who are supposed to represent us in faraway Washington, D.C. One hears that deference in the voices of mostly older folks in McMorris Rodgers’ flash telephone town halls. Many of the questions posed by her supporters are almost fawning, reminiscent of the relationship between child and parent, serf and lord. Often the tone is “you know so much more than I do” or “you’ve done so much to fix my problem with ______” (insert Social Security, the Veterans Administration, Medicare…) or “thank you for protecting this or that program.” Often this comes along with “Keep up the good work.”

Observe the disconnect. McMorris Rodgers has a local public face she projects through the fresh-faced, impeccably polite and helpful staff she has hired for her three CD5 offices using the “Members Representational Allowance.” When I first started visiting McMorris Rodgers’ offices after the Trump election, this staff, often interns, recent graduates, struck me as trying hard to be helpful, flawlessly polite and earnest….and remarkably clueless of the goings on in D.C. A question from me about Congressional procedure sent them to the internet to research sources I had already read. 

Their is a different face of McMorris Rodgers. It is the one she presents to the Republican faithful, the face she puts forward at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). There she granted an interview with a reporter from Breitbart where she unguardedly expressed her “excitement” about the “momentum” of the Republican agenda that rammed through the tax giveaway to corporations and the already wealthy (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), the repeal of the Individual Mandate (a hot poker shoved in the eye of universal health insurance under the ACA), and, perhaps best of all, the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling. (For more analysis and the voice recording itself click here). 

On the one hand we have the helpful eastern Washington McMorris Rodgers projected through the diligence of her local staff and touted in her constituent letter. On the other we have the excited Washington, D.C. McMorris Rodgers who revels in kicking 23 million Americans off of health insurance, who speaks in excited terms of ripping open one of the last pristine places in the Arctic for the benefit of her and her Party’s corporate sponsors in the oil industry, the McMorris Rodgers who absolutely refuses to discuss the fiscal irresponsibility of her Tax Law, the McMorris Rodgers who says she wants to “reform” “entitlements” now that she has richly rewarded her wealthy sponsors at the expense of the national debt.

It is time the voters of eastern Washington realize there are two McMorris Rodgerses, the eastern Washington McMorris Rodgers who giveth to the wealthy and the D.C. McMorris Rodgers who taketh away from the support, the personal financial security, and the natural heritage of everyone else.

Keep to the high ground,


Citizens United Part III

Dear Group,

In Part I of Citizens United we covered the background, the personalities, and the Orwellian naming of the group Citizens United. Part II offered an anatomy of the decision, the political underpinning of the Supreme Court’s workings on the case. Today I want to emphasize the importance of the decision in Citizens United v. FEC and its followup.

McCain-Feingold (2002) was the last gasp of bipartisan acknowledgement that the influence of extreme wealth in manipulating voters is a problem. It limited electioneering communication in the months preceding elections and capped the amount of money an individual was allowed to donate. John McCain (R-AZ), the Senate Republican whose name is attached to the law, is now one of only a handful of relatively principled, thoughtful Republican Congresspeople remaining…and he is battling brain cancer (and was recently dismissed as “dying” by a White House spokesperson).

In the mid aughts (2000-2010), while polls consistently showed that most Americans regardless of party affiliation favored strict election spending limits, an extraordinarily rich minority led by the Koch brothers strategized legal cases that would roll back monetary limits all the way to the Tillman Act 1907 in the days of Theodore Roosevelt. The Kochs and friends counted on voters’ inattention. They invented and funded organizations with deceptive names like Citizens United and SpeechNow, waving the banner of “free speech” to deceive the gullible (of whom I was one at the time). 

For decades the mega-wealthy had worked to seat a Libertarian majority on the Supreme Court. With the appointment of John Roberts to the Supreme Court in 2003 and his elevation to Chief Justice in 2005 (both by George W. Bush), the goal was within reach.  Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy, would further the cause of equating money with speech. 

Citizens United v FEC (January 21, 2010) proclaimed that anything goes as long as it is an “independent expenditure.” This ruling bypassed nearly all of the restrictions of election finance in the system we have worked with since the early 1970s. That system, the one Citizens United bypassed, is represented in the upper left crescent in the diagram below. It is the system governed under the Federal Elections Commission, the system on which I focused in Cathy’s Coffers !, II, and III. Citizens United furthered the development of a parallel system of mostly unregulated spending in the SuperPAC circle and simultaneously fueled election spending in the non-profit arena. The only requirement is that the spending be “independent,” a requirement that is both a joke and danger. A joke in that no one can really police such a requirement, and a danger in that “independent” money can wrest control of the message from the candidate, helping to put that control in the hands of those with the biggest monetary mouthpiece, the superPACs and certain non-profits. Significantly, Citizens United v. FEC lifted the restriction on corporate and union electioneering contributions (as long as they are “independent”) that had begun with Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

SpeechNow,org v. FEC., another deceptively named astroturf organization, already had a case in line. On March 26, 2010, two months after Citizens United, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit used the Citizens United decision as the basis for a ruling on v. FEC.  In SpeechNow the Court of Appeals struck down the federal limits on contributions to federal political committees that make only independent expenditures and do not contribute to candidates or political parties. On the other hand, the Court also ruled such independent expenditure committees (=superPACs) must report their donors to the FEC just like regular PACs (the ones in the crescent on the diagram below). “SpeechNow” sounds like another grassroots, citizen supported organization, doesn’t it? Wrong. You can visit its total of just five donors in the 2009-2010 election cycle here at the FEC. David Keating, one of the five, is also the treasurer for the organization…and the Executive Director of the Club For Growth. The Club For Growth is non-profit whose donors are part of the Dark Money world. The Club for Growth has a reputation of attacking Republican lawmakers “from the Right” to keep them in line (and pull the remaining principled Republican rightward).

On April 2, 2014, in McCutcheon v. FEC, the same five Libertarian judges on the Supreme Court, Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy, and Thomas pushed the money floodgates wide open. In McCutcheon they ruled that aggregate political spending limits are unconstitutional. In the 2011-2012 election cycle the aggregate contribution ceiling on individuals during stood at $46,200 for federal candidates and $70,800 for national parties, or a $117,000 aggregate limit. That limit was established in 1974 and revised upward by McCain-Feingold in 2002. Mr. McCutcheon, an uber-wealthy Alabamian, apparently felt constrained by these limits. The Libertarian Supreme Court majority agreed, saying such limits were an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights.

As a result of McCutcheon In the current election cycle (2017-18) more than 19,000 political contributions of a milion dollars or greater have been made. That’s 19 billion dollars…with a b.

Republican/Libertarian big money interests have hoodwinked sleepy, distracted voters with populist-sounding names and appeals to “free speech” and pushed the floodgates of campaign spending wide open.

Keep to the high ground,


This diagram is from a 2014 interactive article in the NYTimes. It is a great place to start understanding the effect of money in our politics. The limits on contributions are indexed to inflation, so the illustrated limits are now higher, e.g. $5400 can be given directly to a Candidate’s election committee ($2700 for the Primary and $2700 for the General election), and a conventional political action committee (PAC) can receive $5000 from an individual donor.