Roll Up Your Sleeves

Dear Group,

The General Election on Tuesday, November 6, is in just seventy-seven days. It is the last chance we have, as citizens and voters, to slow or stop Donald Trump’s consolidation of autocratic power. If he succeeds with Mitch McConnell in the outright theft of yet another seat on the Supreme Court AND the Republican/Libertarians retain majorities in both houses of Congress, however slim, Trump will have his small, oligarchic hands on the levers of all branches of government. The vaunted “checks and balances” we learned about in junior high fall away. As Devin Nunes said right here at the Spokane Club with McMorris Rodgers nodding along with him, without the Republican majority in the House, “All this goes away,” including their ability to threaten the Mueller investigation by impeaching Rosenstein.

We in eastern Washington have a key role to this struggle. McMorris Rodgers, with her toothy smile, mom persona, and her veneer of supposed Christian values is a supreme enabler of her “positive disruptor,” Mr. Trump. For the very first time in her political career starting fresh out of the Fundamentalist Baptist Pensacola Christian College she is facing a formidable electoral challenger in Lisa Brown. Lisa Brown has the charisma, the mom credentials, the education, and the life outside of politics that exceed everything McMorris Rodgers pretends to offer. 

We are blessed in Washington State with a government that encourages voter participation, a government that has not gerrymandered its voting districts to a fare-thee-well in favor of Republican majorities they way they are computer-engineered by Republican controlled state governments elsewhere. 

We have a Primary Election behind us that gives us hope but offers no comfort in complacency. Winning in November depends on sustained efforts to reach Democratic voters, to convince the undecided, and to mobilize them all to vote. 

Do not wake up on some morning following the General Election on November 6 after they’ve finally counted all the ballots and lament, “If only I had…” because then it will be too late.

There is not just one thing you can do. There are many, but the single most effective thing an individual can do is have meaningful conversations with people they don’t know. Canvassing is a great way to make those happen, though good conversations can happen anywhere. 

Here in eastern Washington we are blessed with a good solid, intelligent, civic-minded Democrat running for almost every office on the ballot. Lisa Brown’s candidacy will help each of them, and the work each of them puts in will help Lisa Brown. My point is this: pay attention to your local candidates, meet them, get to know them, support them with canvassing and with money. It all helps.

Last Wednesday ninety-two unpaid local volunteers showed up for voter contact training with the Lisa Brown campaign at Youth For Christ on N. Ash St. Hook up with the Lisa Brown Campaign or with the Wa-Democrats (see links below in “Calendar”) Commit to a day a week. Join a group. Canvass with a friend. Go out with the group afterward. Compare notes. Have bite to eat. Make new friends. Politics is a social endeavor.

Check out the canvassing links in Calendar below. Join the Indivisible canvass next Monday.

Keep to the high ground,


CMR’s Flash Town Hall

Dear Group,

Last Friday the Indivisible email went out as usual at around 5AM. In it I highlighted an announcement I had gotten wind of by email only at 7PM the evening before. At 7AM Friday, two hours after the Indivisible email posted I received a report from one of my readers the town hall signup link on Eventbrite was reporting “Sold Out.”. 

Sold out over a twelve hour period overnight? Really? This isn’t a Rolling Stones concert. What’s going on? How many places were offered? How many held back? Checking the “Facility Specifications at the Spokane Convention Center website was inconclusive. The “Centennial Ballroom” can be any of Ballrooms 300A,B,C,D or combinations thereof. Assuming a “Classroom” configuration that could mean they offered anywhere from 115 to 690 seats. In response to a direct inquiry to the Convention Center people, a reader was told the room McMorris Rodgers rented (whatever the partitioning) will be set for a capacity of 300.

Last August McMorris Rodgers held a tightly controlled town hall at Gonzaga at which there were empty chairs in spite of a crowd outside. Is this a repeat?

The conditions of attendance are interesting, too:

All attendees will be required to show proof of residency within the 5th Congressional District at the door. Proof of residency may include a drivers license or a utility bill with the name of the constituent and their address printed. Failure to show proof at the door will result in being denied entrance.

Tickets to this event are free. There is one seat per ticket. Please contact the office at 509-353-2374 with any questions regarding this event.

PLEASE NOTE: For the safety of everyone participating in this event, all bags will be subject to search prior to entry into the facility. Additionally, no signs of any kind will be allowed inside the auditorium.

With an opaque sign-up and the requirement of proof of residence at least McMorris Rodgers won’t be able to claim the tough questions are coming from paid protesters bused in by George Soros from outside the district.

Please call (509-353-2374and inquire why the Convention Center says there are only 300 seats in a venue that can hold 690 in a “Classroom” configuration. Asking where and when the town hall was first advertised might also be instructive.There is also a means through a tab at the signup link on Eventbrite down toward the bottom at which you can “contact the event organizer.”

Will she add to the seating? It’s seems enough of a challenge for her to respond to a small, mostly friendly audience up in Green Bluff (also chronicled here and here

A good many McMorris Rodgers’ constituents might be wearing face masks (if it is still smokey, as seems likely) and carrying signs outside the event on Thursday, wondering why the seats were so few and so briefly advertised.

Here’s what might be a better outlet for frustrated energy–get out and canvass.

Keep to the high ground,


Rejoice! Join the Parade! Local Politics in Action

Dear Group,

Everybody loves a parade, right? Well, here’s your chance…a great chance to participate, get out in the great community of eastern Washington, and make a positive, joyous political statement. There is a long tradition of politicians marching in parades, smiling, and “kissing babies.” It is a tradition Democrats used to engage in with gusto. It’s time to get back to those roots. More than a hundred of us marched in the parade at the Hillyard Festival with Lisa Brown, Maria Cantwell, and local Democratic candidates. McMorris Rodgers’ followers were far outnumbered. Babies were kissed, candy strewn, chants shouted, and songs sung. The parade watchers were delighted. The buzz was fun.

This weekend, August 17 and 18, the National Lentil Festival is held in Pullman, Washington, heart of the great agricultural region, the Palouse, the center of U.S. production of lentils. A whole lot of lentils are exported to China and India where lentils are still more of a staple food than here in the United States. It is no secret that Palouse farmers are uneasy over Trump’s disruption of agricultural export relationships carefully nurtured over decades. McMorris Rodgers only pays lip service to defending our region’s interests against Trump, her “positive disruptor.” 

Not a single Representative, Republican or Democrat, currently represents the interests of northwest agriculture on the United States House Committee on Agriculture from WA, OR, MT, ID, or WY. It is about time to change that. Lisa Brown pledges to seek a position on the House Committee on Agriculture, the same committee upon which the great Tom Foley served, including six years as Chairman of the Agricultural Committee.

So get out and take part. Take a road trip to Pullman (meet there at 10AM) and engage in regional fun. Invite two friends! Meet up with friendly people including Lisa Brown and Maria Cantwell. March in the parade. Feel the energy. (See two boxes above “Dear Group” for details.) Then learn about lentils. Re-learn the lessons of our region’s agricultural roots. Celebrate. Send a positive message! Here’s a link:

Keep to the high ground,


McMorris Rodgers’ Answer to Summer Smoke

Dear Group,

Yesterday morning I tried to run…no, not really, heavy exertion was dangerous. The surrounding hills were nearly lost in the haze. The particulates clung to my tongue.  Each summer for years now we have spent weeks breathing smoke and experiencing a vague feeling of dread. When will the smoke herald a fire whipped by dry wind that will race through town? How many more summers before people like McMorris Rodgers are forced to acknowledge this is more than a problem of forest cleanup? How much more time is there?

The local climate trend and the reason for it are clear. Water and fire are the main players in the global warming story in the Inland Northwest. Climate models all point to longer drier summers with earlier runoff. Drier summers produce drought-stressed trees with less resistance to disease and beetles. Warmer winters fail to kill bark beetle larvae. Wet springs with earlier runoff combine with drier summers to add to the load of dry fuel on the ground. 

Seventeen of the eighteen hottest years (globally) since modern record-keeping began have occurred since 2001. (See a particularly striking animation of the data here at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s website.) The evidence for both correlation with and causation from the burning of carbon fuels and release of other greenhouse gases is overwhelming…and either incomprehensible to McMorris Rodgers or simply denied.

In the midst of the smoke and worry what has McMorris Rodgers been up to in Congress? Are she and her handlers studying the science, looking into the future, proposing solutions, paying attention? Are they leaders? Are they intellectually equipped to lead?

Here’s the answer: On July 19 the U.S. House passed H.Con.Res.119Expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy. 

McMorris Rodgers joined with all but six other Republicans in the House to make this declaration and send it off to U.S. Senate (where it will surely be ignored…at least until after the November election).

If the United States (and the world) is ever going to curb its addiction to burning carbon and begin to address the global warming that is already happening it will require government action. The only free market friendly government action available to us is some form of tax or fee that predictably raises the cost of carbon-based fuels. (My hands-down favorite is the “carbon fee and dividend” scheme put forward by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.) Otherwise we are condemned to ever increasing mop up operations to deal with the consequences of the accelerating climate change: manual reduction of forest fuels, sea walls, hurricane and tornado recovery efforts, and addressing global migration and conflicts precipitated by climate disaster.

All but thirteen Republicans (seven did not vote) in the U.S. House took the time out of their busy schedules to state an article of their faith: H.Con.Res.119 effectively confirms Trump’s dismissal of the whole of climate science as a Chinese hoax. If that were not so, why would they bother, unbidden, to take off the table the only free market-based mechanism to encourage renewable energy and energy conservation?  

Their are two choices. With this Resolution the Republicans are either declaring a race to the bottom or they are expressing science denial. Either one is a disqualification for public office. Supposedly we elect officials with intelligence and foresight to represent us in government. We elect them with the conviction they are smarter than we, that they engage in the due diligence necessary to reasonably look into the future and act in our best interest, the best interest of the country, and the best interest of the world. 

By casting a vote for this uncalled for declaration of faith, McMorris Rodgers and her Republican/Libertarian brethren have demonstrated their miserable failure to understand and protect that interest. 

No amount of forest cleanup or defense of Snake River dams (McMorris Rodgers’ two favorite responses to any question about climate change) offer the slightest likelihood of slowing the climate change that is already upon us. McMorris Rodgers gratuitous vote for H.Con.Res.119 is a declaration of her short-sightedness.

McMorris Rodgers does not represent me. Send her packing in November.

Keep to the high ground,


Why Yard Signs?

A 4X8 foot yard sign along Rockwood Blvd devoted purely to name recognition. The candidate doesn’t bother to mention he is running for Spokane County Treasurer. Apparently he doesn’t even wish his audience to know he is running as a Republican. That information and the reminder that he ran (unsuccessfully) for U.S. Senate in 2012 (in the middle of his Washington State LD6 Senate term) is provided courtesy of back lighting from the afternoon sun.

Dear Group,

It is hard to miss the bloom of political yard signs this year in Spokane and all over eastern Washington. For me, the first hint of where we might be headed in 2016 came from a 4X8 foot red “Make America Great Again” sign in a field west of Moses Lake along I-90. In view of that uncomfortable memory. the sheer number of residential yards with Lisa Brown signs in Spokane, eastern Washington’s most populous county, is a hopeful sign that speaks of enthusiasm and change.

Especially in midterm (non-presidential) elections turnout depends on awareness of the existence of a real contest. The greater the rivalry in a sporting event, the more people attend, the same with voter participation. Yard signs increase the awareness of rivalry…of possibility. Beyond rivalry comes simple name recognition, especially for down ballot candidates. There is no clearer example of name recognition as a tactic than in the race for Spokane County Treasurer, a race between David Green, a man thoroughly qualified for the job, and Mr. Baumgartner, a career politician looking for a temporary place to light before his next conquest. I have yet to see a Baumgartner yard sign advertising more than his name. 

There is a another utility of yard signs. Yard signs informed me that many of my neighbors I imagined were straight-ticket Republicans are actually supporters of Lisa Brown…and staunch critics of the incumbent. People who put out yard signs have an opinion, they have some political awareness, and they are often open to conversation. I am aware folks displaying yard signs for the incumbent have an opinion, too, an opinion to which I am happy to listen, not with much expectation of changing a mind, but to better understand their position. A yard sign can facilitate conversation.

Clusters of yard signs can send several different messages. I have one neighbor who displays a dozen or so political signs in advance of every election. For years they have helped me recognize the names of those for whom I do NOT wish to cast a vote. This year they added the flag-draped cross of a We Believe-We Vote yard sign. For me that sign speaks of a closed mind, a far right ideology that taints the candidates on the associated signs.

I especially notice mixed clusters of signs on residential property. I find it instructive when I see signs in one yard for candidates of both major political parties. Makes me go, “Hmmm.” I’ve met more than a few thoughtful Republicans who could place a sign “Republicans for Lisa Brown.”

I have friends who deplore the clutter and visual confusion of political yard signs. Once upon a time I might have agreed with them. No longer. I now view yard signs as promotion of name recognition, and name recognition is the first ingredient to political discussion and awareness.

Joyously add to the clutter! Visit the office at 1507 E. Sprague, make a small donation, pick up a Lisa Brown sign, and display it proudly. Then discuss with your neighbors why you put it up. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. I have a Mary Kuney (R) for Spokane County Commissioner in my yard as by far the better candidate than her opponent, Mr. Chase, a man entwined with the white supremacy of Northwest Grassroots.

P.P.S. I also have a David Green (D) for Spokane County Treasurer sign. His opponent, Mr. Baumgartner, a man of minimal qualifications for the job, is relying solely on name recognition using yard signs recycled from his campaigns for prior offices. Don’t let Mr. B get away with it., What is it?


A 4X8 “yard” sign just east of Applebee’s near Lincoln Heights on the north side of 29th. This and a bevy of signs presumably for like-minded Republicans are firmly affixed on a lot privately owned by Grapetree Village, LLC. The “registered agent” of Grapetree Village, LLC is Pamela Cloninger, widow of Glen Cloninger (1944-2010). [Update: By early October this WBWV 4X8′ “yard” sign had been removed from this location. Two smaller ones along with a McMorris Rodgers signed appeared on church grounds of the ‘Berachah’ Church of Blessings at 25th and Grand. Could this church be more blatantly involved in candidate advocacy?


Dear Group,

The Christian values with which I was brought up were tolerance, forbearance, respect for my fellow man, justice, charity, non-violence, stewardship of God’s creation. Still ringing in my ears from my mother are sayings from the Bible, “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword,”  “It is more difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” and “turn the other cheek.” [paraphrased here from memory]. 

I do not recognize my mother’s values, the Christian values with which I was brought up, among the “Evaluation Criteria” at, the voters guide advertised on yard signs on lawns and some churchyards in eastern Washington. Anyone who uses this website and considers themselves a Christian ought to consider the specifics of what the folks behind this Political Action Committee called “We Believe-We Vote” actually believe. Christianity is not a monolith, it never has been, and the folks who put together this website are using selected material, the majority of it from the Old Testament, to sell their version of politics. We Believe-We Vote is a gross attempt to weld together a fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution, an armed, closed-door nationalist view toward the world, and a particularly narrow fundamentalist version of Christianity…and sell it as a voters’ guide to local Christians. 

I cannot resist some irony here. Who knew that articles of Christian belief included “a well run campaign”, “references to God in government”, “the right to keep and bear arms”, fealty to the electoral college system, “strong national security and borders”, opposition to recreational marijuana, and a cherry-picked literal interpretation of the Bible? You have to dig a little on their website to find these criteria and the churches and pastors who subscribe to them. (Scroll to the bottom of the second link to see if your pastor is among them.) Without that diligence the Christian is invited to simply fill out their ballot with assurance the recommended candidates share “Christian” values the PAC wishes you to believe are universal.

I am reminded of the saying, “When Fascism* Comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Could the imagery on the We Believe-We Vote yard sign be more obvious?

While we still have federal and state campaign finance laws in place it is possible to learn quite a lot about a political action committee like We Believe-We Vote from the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, (Forces within the Republican Party are actively engaged in repealing such campaign finance law…but save that for another day.) 

Political action committees (PACs) like We Believe-We Vote (WBWV) do not appear out of thin air. WBWV first appears at the Public Disclosure Commission in 2013 as “We Believe-We Vote Barbara Lancaster Sponsor” with an address on Farwell Road, just southeast of Green Bluff. Two years later, in 2015, Ms. Lancaster’s name was dropped (the address stayed the same). Also in 2015 WBWV broke the PDC threshold both for more than $5000 total donations and no single contributor donating more than $500 in aggregate. They broke into the big time with a $3000 donation from Northwest Trustee and Management and total donations of $10,335.00. As a result we can see where WBWV spent its money that year: on radio ads, Facebook ads, and “digital marketing management.” 

We Believe-We Vote pops into general public view with its flag-draped cross in 2018 with a $1741.89 purchase of 4X8 foot and 1.5X2 foot yard signs, part of a budget now swelled to $32,967.26. Without these yard signs most eastern Washington Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Episcopals, Presbyterians, and Unitarians, among others, would not have guessed that gun rights, strong borders, and fealty to the electoral college system were articles of Christian faith. Without the outbreak of yard signs WBWV might only have festered on right wing radio, Facebook and the web.

I know people who attend the churches and listen to pastors who have signed on to the We Believe-We Vote voters’ guide. I have attended services at some of those churches. Much of what is preached there is familiar fare. But with endorsement of the WBWV website these pastors subscribe to a profoundly disturbing brand of Christianity I do not recognize from my upbringing, a Christianity that is a mockery of the values by which I try to live. Explore the website for yourself, see what you think.

Keep to the high ground,


*From my online dictionary: Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.

P.S. I would be interested to hear from other parts of U.S. Congressional District 5 (eastern WA, the domain currently “represented” by McMorris Rodgers, a product of Stevens County). Does WeBelieveWeVote have signs up in Walla Walla and in Pullman? I ask because the pulldown menu at under “Voter Guide” suggests it is tailored for just two counties, Stevens and Spokane. 

The Doorbell and What’s Behind It

Dear Group,

People confide, “I just couldn’t go doorbelling. I don’t know enough. I don’t know how I could do that.” 

If you had told me two years ago that a year hence I would be knocking on doors, introducing myself, listening to, and chatting with people I’d never met I would have thought you were nuts. 

Was/is it easy to get started? No. Every time I go I still have to give myself a talking to. Every time there are things I’d rather be doing, and yet each time the experience is rewarding. Each time I gain fresh insight on people, life, politics, and the neighborhoods I’ve driven through for years. 

We are all just people. We are fundamentally social. We live naturally in social groups where we interact face-to-face every day. It was a very short time ago, within my lifetime, we quit interacting, we quit sitting on our porches on summer evenings, and we began spending more time in front of TVs and computers than we did seeing each other face-to-face. Conversing with another person on a doorstep is far more natural and genuine than passively receiving tribal information from a screen. Most people respond very well to friendly social contact.

First, let’s dispel a few worries. You’re not out there by yourself. It is a group effort with at least two in a group. You start shoulder-to-shoulder and after a while start knocking singly but on the same street. The doors you knock are selected, By and large you are contacting people whose profiles suggest they are neither committed Republicans or committed Democrats. Once in a while the data is wrong, but that’s a valuable contact to record either way.

No one bites. There is no need for confrontation. You don’t need to have a detailed grasp of every position. You’re not there to argue. That’s pointless and counterproductive. A lot of what you do is listen. Listening is always educational. With a committed, engaged Republican a bit of listening is informative, but mostly you smile and thank them for their time. “Bless and release” is a great strategy. A few of your contacts may benefit just from meeting a non-confrontational progressive. Most committed Republicans (especially the “old school” Republicans) are as pleasant as we try to be. You quickly realize the very few gruff folks you meet are gruff because of who they are, not because of who you are. Smile and move on. It’s not personal.

By now I’ve knocked on several hundreds of doors and chatted with at least a hundred people. On any given day a quarter to a third of the doors are opened. Behind the doors that do open nearly everyone is willing to chat for a few minutes. 

Remember the old adage “Never judge a book by its cover?” Knocking on doors quickly teaches you to make no assumptions. I’ve met elderly grandmothers who major concern is preserving second amendment rights and I’ve knocked on doors draped in bunting and flanked by flags and behind them met vets whose main issue was thwarting privatization of the Veterans Hospital. Never assume.

We’re not going to make a change in our politics by sitting at home, listening to pundits and pollsters on TV, wringing our hands, and lamenting to our like-minded friends. We’re not going to change things only by contributing to campaigns (although that is important, too). The way we’re going to pull this out of the fire is by interacting with and listening to people we don’t know or hardly know and by expressing our concerns, worries, convictions and hopes for a better future. This change isn’t going to happen overnight or with the election of one or a few candidates. It is going to take a sustained effort over years. Too long we have been asleep at the wheel. Change is going to happen because we interact with our fellow humans, because we pay attention, because we recognize twisted hate, shine a light on it and call it out. Forces in the Republican Party have bent it over decades. I no longer recognize the party I once knew. It needs to wander off in the wilderness for a while before it will find its way. 

This week is time to get started. This Wednesday, August 15th, from 6-8PM come on down to the DCCC Headquarters at 1507 E. Sprague for Canvass Training. Food provided. Get more details and RSVP here.

Keep to the high ground,