Shea, Holaday, and the Spokane County Interstate Fair

I’m supposedly on vacation, but this ought not wait. I plan to publish it again on September 4 in place of composing another post.

Dear Group,

The Spokane County Interstate Fair runs from Friday, September 6, to Sunday, September 15. Matt Shea and his theocratic 51st Staters (State of Liberty) have reserved a booth at the Fair. That has become the subject of controversy. At the booth they will soft peddle the theocratic, revolutionary side of their idea. Surely, if you stop at the booth, you will hear talk of the “conservatism” of eastern Washington and how “we” in eastern Washington are always voted down by those terrible liberals on the west side of the state. You will hear how a 51st State (to be composed of what is now Washingotn east of the Cascades and, maybe, just maybe, parts of Idaho, Oregon, and Montana) will give “us” conservatives a greater voice. Everything presented will sound oh so reasonable to the average moderate conservative unfamiliar with the theocratic, militant background of this movement. 

Please click and read the Spokesman article by Chad Sokol “51st state supporters reserve booth at Spokane County Interstate Fair, draw scrutiny” from Saturday, August 24th. I want to provide a little background. René Holaday, aka Lady Liberty, hosts a “Liberty State Radio” podcast. Take a moment and listen to her introductory broadcast at the website, “Liberty State Radio – Episode 19-01 – Intro” (If you’ve never heard of the “American Redoubt,” it is time. It is the descendant of the Aryan Nations. It has grown fat on electronic media in the Inland Northwest while we slept.)

Ms. Holaday in her podcast is far clearer than the folks who man the booth at the county fair will likely be. She is indeed the author of a book. The synopsis of the book at Amazon is a mandatory read: “The Perils of Sustainable Development.” The book taps right in to themes you can hear on youtube and from many pulpits in Evangelical churches: the evils of the United Nations, the “New World Order,” the threat to our “liberty.” Implied, but not quite stated, is the underlying sense of a grand, evil conspiracy against “us,” the chosen people. Be afraid, get ready to fight, the forces of evil are gathering against the Chosen, the End Times are nigh!

Ms. Holaday was recently fired from her position as legislative aide to Matt Shea. A less than careful reader of Sokol’s Spokesman article might suspect a rift between Shea and Holaday. Not so. As Daniel Walters explains in lengthy detail in an Inlander article referenced in the Spokesman, Holiday was not fired by Shea, but by Chief Clerk’s Office of the Washington State House of Representatives. She was fired for her involvement in Liberty State rallies. (Read the Inlander article. It provides a lot of detail.)

Holaday’s statement at the Liberty State rally last May, “It’s either going to be bloodshed or Liberty State.” was published in the Spokesman. Walters, of the Inlander, pressed Holaday for an explanation:

“What we’re doing with Liberty state, we’re offering a peaceful option of dividing the state rather than having to defend your rights in whatever way you decide you might need to,” Holaday says. “How much illegal stuff can be done before people can start feeling like they’re cornered? That’s why this Liberty state [proposal] is so awesome. It gives people the peaceful option and a legal way out where they’re not forced into that corner.”

Read that again: “..peaceful option…rather than having to defend your rights in whatever way you decide you might need to.” Holaday is just restating her “bloodshed” comment in different words. Wow. It’s Liberty State or armed revolution for her! This is scary stuff, well beyond just participating in a rally (the ostensible reason for the Chief Clerk to fire her). Notice that Shea, who routinely refuses to talk to the “godless” media, is mum.

Some might argue to “simply ignore them and they’ll go away.” It is way beyond that. In this era of organizing and propagandizing electronically, Holaday, Shea, Fagan, Benn, the Redoubters in North Idaho and all their fellow travelers have stolen the march while most us have slept. The Aryan Nations did not go away because they were ignored. Neither will their descendants. It is time to educate ourselves on the ideology of this movement, expose the candidates and elected officials who endorse it, shun them, and vote them out of office. People who tote assault weapons, train youth in “biblical warfare,” and threaten bloodshed if they don’t get their 51st State have no business with a booth at the County Fair.

Go to and sign the petition. 

Please share widely. 

Keep to the high ground,


Who’s Mum on Matt Shea?

I know I’m suppose to be on vacation, but…

Dear Group,

I direct your attention to Wednesday morning’s front page Spokesman article entitled “Spokane Mayor David Condon, police Chief Craig Meidl say state Rep. Matt Shea is unfit for office” I recommend reading it carefully, with particular attention to who is mum and who is soft-pedaling. Explore the links to other articles on Matt Shea’s behavior and ask yourself what it says about an elected official or a candidate who does NOT call for Shea’s resignation. 

Ozzie Knezovich has condemned Shea’s behavior for years. In spite of Knezovich’s high profile opposition to Shea, every other local Republican elected official or candidate from McMorris Rodgers on down has winked and nodded. All either supported Shea or remained agnostic about Shea’s behavior. even as his infamy has spread to the national media. (See for an up-to-date archives of Shea’s stunts.).McMorris Rodgers accepted Shea’s endorsement in last fall’s election.

Read the Spokesman article carefully. Take note that David Condon (Mayor of the City of Spokane) is the only elected official or candidate with strong Republican ties (besides Knezovich) newly willing to call for Shea to step down. What distinguishes David Condon from the rest of the pack? Condon is a lame duck. He is termed out of office at the end of this year. Condon is not dependent on Shea’s wing nut supporter’s votes to stay in office. The Republican candidate for Mayor (yes, I realize it is a nominally “non-partisan” race, but no one paying attention believes that any more), the Republican candidate to replace Mayor Condon, Nadine Woodward, “was critical of Shea’s words and actions, but did not call for his resignation.” Which camp is she in? Is she afraid she’ll lose if she riles Shea’s fellow travelers? 

The three Republican County Commissioners, French, Kerns, and Kuney, also declined to call for Shea’s resignation. Al French says, “it’s up to the voters to decide.” He doesn’t even want to suggest to his voting base that he, Mr. French, disagrees with Shea’s antics. What does that tell us about Mr. French?

Rod Higgins, the Mayor of the City of Spokane Valley, comes to Shea’s defense: “Spokane Valley Mayor Rod Higgins questioned the credibility of recent news reports.” This is the local version of screaming, “Fake News!!” Should we be surprised at Higgins? Hardly. He is on the same fringe with Shea. You can see him in action at a gathering of NWGrassroots at 38:36 in this video of the group hosting James Allsup, the white supremacist student activist at WSU who carried a torch at Charlottesville. 

What of Shea’s fellow representatives to the Washington State Legislature from Legislative District 4, State Senator Mike Padden and State Representative McCaslin Jr.? Padden wants the voters to decide. As a Shea sympathizer, Padden wouldn’t want to anger any of the base. And what of Bob McCaslin, i.e. McCaslin Jr., Shea’s sidekick in the Legislature? The Spokesman article never mentions him, a glaring omission for which McCasliin Jr. is no doubt very thankful…

What does it say about the local Republican Party that no one other than Sheriff Knezovich and lame duck Mayor Condon will call for Shea to step down? Contemplate that. Research the cast of characters in this article. Commit there positions to memory. Discuss them and their positions with all who will. 

Keep to the high ground,


Lecture August 20: Evangelicals in Modern America

Dear Group,

I think this sounds interesting. I plan to attend and I thought some of you might want to as well. Here’s the link:

The speaker is Matthew Avery Sutton, professor of history at WSU in Pullman and author of several acclaimed books in this subject area. The most recent is American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism from 2017. 

The Chosen Voters: Evangelicals in Modern America

South Hill Branch of the Spokane Public Library, 3324 W Perry St.

Tuesday, August 20, 6:30-7:30PM

Evangelical Christians are the strongest religious voting block in America, despite being a relatively new coalition. How did they come to hold such power? WSU historian Matthew Sutton traces the history of the religious right in America, from its early roots, to its rise to power under Ronald Reagan, to its enthusiastic support of Donald Trump. Feeling besieged by secularism, family breakdown, and government encroachment, evangelicals have taken to the pulpit and the airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecies make sense of a ravaged modern world. What does this mean for our current political system, and how might the coalition change? Explore the history and meaning behind this uniquely American movement. 6:30pm @ South Hill Library

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. The next new post will be on September 4, unless something else like this comes up.

The Purchased Primaries

Dear Group,

I plan to return to MWF emails on Wednesday, September 4, when life in Spokane is supposed to return to normal after smoke season, the time formerly known as August. I may send an occasional email before September 4, but I need relief from my self-imposed thrice weekly deadline and from the overwhelming flood of material to learn and write about. It is time for a vacation.

The Spokesman on Thursday morning was rife with material worth reading and analyzing:

Realtors’ investment in Spokane elections pays dividends details the Association of Washington Realtors’ huge “independent expenditure” to buy their candidates a place on Spokane’s November General Election ballot. It is no surprise that the article is full of Nadine Woodward’s, Cindy Wendle’s, Andy Rathbun’s, and Michael Cathcart’s disingenuous claims of campaign’s independence of the Realtors’ money. Those words must be said again and again for the Citizens United (Part I, Part II, and Part III) ruling to offer legal cover from campaign finance regulation. The wealthy Realtors union (which, after all, is what the Association of Realtors functions as) won’t spend a couple hundred thousand dollars for nothing. What do they think they’re buying?

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers defends right to own guns, criticizes Donald Trump’s rhetoric in Spokane town hall deserves a thorough read. A more accurate headline would insert the word “lamely” before “defends,” but that would be too much interpretation of the content.

Spokane City Council president race narrows to contest between two very different candidates was in the print edition as “COUNCIL PRESIDENT: BEGGS OR WENDLE Fagan’s eight years on council will end.” Readers need to keep in mind that Wendle poses questions but proposed no solutions (a lot like Woodward). Beggs has a plan and is already enmeshed in the governmental mechanics of addressing the issues based on facts, while Ms. Wendle is planning, in her own words “to go find out what really the heck is going on.”  Wendle is a co-owner of Northtown Square Shopping Center, she manages a commercial real estate portfolio, and she is one of the candidates supported by the Realtors. If her real agenda were to understand and solve the problems of downtown Spokane she wouldn’t still be wondering what “is going on.”

From (only) the print version of the Beggs/Wendle article: “If progress has been made under current leadership, Wendle asked why she’s spoken with people afraid to go downtown and mothers afraid to take their children to a park.” There’s a very simple answer to that question, Ms. Wendle. It’s because you and your ilk never cease in your campaign literature and on Facebook to promote the idea that Downtown Spokane is a scary place to go. When did you last leave your shopping center?

Much to read, many people with whom to talk, much to think about, many doors to knock before November, but it is time to get out and breathe some smokey air. Until September 4,

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. For national perspective I recommend signing up for Doug Muder’s Monday emails, something you can do at his website The Weekly Sift in the lefthand column.

Vote! CMR Gonzaga Town Hall Tomorrow!

McMorris Rodgers is actually holding a town hall in Spokane.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

“Conversation with Cathy” Town Hall in Spokane

When: 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM

Where: Globe Room at Cataldo Hall, Gonzaga University

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers is back in area and back making the rounds of her supporters, carefully staying under the radar. The pressure is off. She’s confident. No longer do the ads on her website for her gatherings warn, **Space is limited. This event is first come, first served,** These new non-federal-election year gatherings, she believes, will be relaxed, with nice soft ball questions from the few faithful supporters who get her email invitations or bother to watch her website. 

She needs to face questions on usurpation by the President of Congressional power (e.g. taking money from elsewhere to fund “the wall”), on immigration, on climate change, on white supremacy and violence, and she needs her answers recorded and dissected and amplified. Come to the town hall and have a “conversation.” Homework isn’t required, but might be interesting. What legislation she is sponsoring or cosponsoring in this Congress is available here. (Use the filters in the left hand column to see what she’s accomplished, e.g. click here to see the three bills she voted on so far this year that have been made law, that is, the Senate bothered to take them up and the President signed them).

Here’s a link to a group that plans to attend the town hall:

But don’t be too distracted today, Election Day, August 6

Vote in the municipal elections if you haven’t–and remind everyone you meet to vote also. If you already voted, check at to confirm your ballot arrived. (Click “Ballot Status”). Not registered? Wonder where you ballot went? Jim Camden of the Spokesman reports it is even possible to fix that from 7AM to 8PM today in person at the main elections office, 1033 W. Gardner, or at the CenterPlace Event Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley

Keep to the high ground,


Who’s a Jerk?

Dear Group,

Back in Athenian democracy there were few enough candidates and ballot casters (“ballot” refers to the small balls with which they voted) so it was possible for a voter to have some personal, second, or third hand assessment of the character of a candidate. Today, even in local elections like the Primary this week (deadline tomorrow, Tuesday at 8PM) understanding the character of the candidates is more challenging. Instead of “I know John and John vouches for the candidate.” we’re often left with a google search for articles, reading pieces that see the candidates through a variety of selective prisms, each subject to the viewpoint and monetary motivations of the presenter. 

Without thorough diligence, meeting and observing the candidate in person and in action, we are often left with the vague impression of a candidate gleaned almost unconsciously from the last article read, TV news clip consumed, or yard sign seen. It is not ideal, but it is what have with which to form our opinions. We’re human, and, as humans, I fear we sometimes vote for an appealing face, the intentionally projected image, rather than the real substance of the candidate. With that I offer an article you may not have read, and, if you did, you may not have reached the insightful part.

In this week’s Inlander, Daniel Walters penned a piece entitled, “Are the frontrunners to become Spokane mayor jerks?” Right up to the end of the article it seemed like Walter’s intent was to point out an obvious truth: no one in a position of power is liked by every single person with whom they work, that is, there is always a detractor one can seek out and quote. The two leading mayoral candidates, Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward, are good examples, but differ in their ownership of conflicts. Let me explain. 

If you wade through the stories to the end of the article, though, there is an instructive quote. Camille Troxel worked as a producer of the 11PM newscast at KXLY. Troxel found the interaction with Woodward so toxic that she “threw up before going to work almost every day.” After a series of conflicts detailed in Daniel Walter’s article, Trowel left KXLY. Even though Trowel acknowledges that Stuckart also has a reputation for conflict, she continues to feel so strongly about her interaction with Woodward that she volunteered doing data entry for Stuckart’s campaign.

For me, this is where, in the article, Trowel nails it on the head:

“The difference is the self-awareness,” Troxel says. “Ben knows he’s a jerk sometimes. Nadine doesn’t know.”

Be sure to do your diligence and turn in your ballot before 8PM tomorrow, the evening of Tuesday, August 6 at one of the Drop Boxes (for locations, click here) or get it in the mail (no stamp needed!) soon enough so it is postmarked on or before Tuesday, August 6. (Ballots mailed but not collected and postmarked by tomorrow, August 6, are not counted.)

Once more I offer a plug for the as good place to start for a rational assessment of the candidates.

Keep to the high ground,


The Spokesman in Eastern Washington

Dear Group,

Some say that nothing important happens in Spokane without the approval of the Cowles family and Avista Corp. The Spokesman Review is first to come to mind when I hear the name Cowles. After all, a majority of print media in Spokane have been owned and run for a hundred and thirty years by four successive generations of William Cowleses, distinguished by Roman numerals and middle names. (By this hereditary naming system the full moniker of the current publisher of the Spokesman is William S. Cowles. The name he is commonly known by, Stacey, is the surname of his mother, Allison Stacey. His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all William H. Cowles, either III, Junior, or Senior.)

The Spokesman Review in eastern Washington is only a minor portion of the Cowles family’s current assets. I invite you to explore the website of the Cowles Company and HCC Foundation. There you’ll find a catalogue of the family’s holdings: Inland Empire Paper Company produces “over 500 tons of newsprint every day,” supplies paper to over 160 customers, and manages 117,000 acres (that’s 182 square miles!) of timberland in northeast Washington and northern Idaho. KHQ (Q6) is another holding of the Cowles Company, so is River Park Square, nearly an entire block of downtown Spokane  The Spokesman offices and print facility occupy close to another block. Betsy (Elizabeth) Cowles, Stacey’s sister, is Chairman, Stacey is “president of the print media division which includes The Spokesman-Review daily newspaper and several weekly and bi-weekly publications and their associated websites.” 

Elizabeth (Betsy) and Stacey also manage the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation, one of the oldest non-profits [501(c)(3)] in the State (founded in 1944 by Betsy and Stacey’s great grandfather, the original William H. Cowles, in memory of his wife). Like other  501(c)(3)s, the Cowles Foundations’ tax deductible contributions are opaque. In 2013 its income was over ten million dollars. The Cowles Foundation is a traditional non-profit philanthropic organization with an impressive list of civic, cultural, and education endeavors it supports. That is in contra-distinction to the host of more recently founded 501(c)(3)s like the Washington Policy Center, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation whose purpose is to foster a political agenda while enjoying non-profit status and shielding the identities of their donors. (See Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money” below.) 

Which brings us to Anne Cowles, another locally familiar name, Stacey’s wife of thirty years. Anne Cowles serves on the Board of Directors and the Eastern Washington Advisory Board of the Washington Policy Center, the Koch donor group funded Republican/Libertarian think tank that has recently brought to Spokane such luminaries as Nigel Farage (“Mr. Brexit”), Charlie Kirk (Turning Point USA), and the union-busting, education defunding former governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.

Anne Cowles’ presence on the Board of the Washington Policy Center helps me understand how Stacey Cowles can write an Editorial [non] Endorsement last fall that correctly and roundly condemns Matt Shea (State Rep, Legislative District 4, Spokane Valley plus) for a litany of bizarre right wing activities while failing to endorse Shea’s opponent, Ted Cummings. Mr. Cowles cannot bring himself to endorse Cummings on account of Cummings’ union support, Cummings’ opposition to a “right to work” proposal (a word-meistered darling of the anti-union crowd that is strongly supported by WPC) and the allegation Cummings is too “liberal” for this “deeply red district.” (Is this what psychologists call projection?)

Who will Mr Cowles endorse in this year’s Spokane mayoral race? He wrote an incisive Editorial on homelessness entitled “Forget the library, dispel myths about homelessness.” In that piece he avoids mention of the name of any mayoral candidate, but Mr. Cowles’ myth-busting is a perfect repudiation of Nadine Woodward’s fear-mongering on the issue. The myths he busts could be run as support of Ben Stuckart’s grasp of the “Realities” Mr. Cowles emphasizes. He cites a Washington Policy Center panel discussion as a good source for the facts. In the Spokesman’s coverage of that panel the two most progressive panelists, City Councilwoman Kate Burke and Jonathan Mallahan, Catholic Charities’ vice president of housing, mostly clearly grasp Mr. Cowles’ facts. Will Mr. Cowles conservatism, the WPC influence, and the huge infusion of cash support for Woodward from the Washington State Association of Realtors lead him to endorse the very conservative Ms. Woodward in spite of her rejections of fact? We’ll see.

The Spokesman Review is Spokane’s only daily. The ownership of the Spokesman, several regional weeklies, and KHQ, by the Cowles Company gives the Cowles an outsized voice in the region, the kind of voice that could be used to nudge electoral opinion. To that voice we own much that is positive in our community. Historically, the City of Spokane’s park system and a number of public works were supported by public opinion that was systematically cultivated by Cowles media influence. (See a great resource book, “News for an Empire” (1952) available to read and search online for free.) 

The influence of the Cowles family dynasty has loomed large in eastern Washington for a hundred and thirty years. The Cowles’ influence is not and has not been strictly partisan. Democratic and liberal voices are found in Cowles-owned media on some issues, However, the growing connection of Cowles media with the Washington Policy Center’s single-minded right wing Republican advocacy should raise of flag of caution…especially in the area of political endorsements.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Cast of Characters of the Cowles Newspaper Dynasty:

William H. Cowles Sr. (1866-1946) purchased the Spokesman-Review in 1897, many details of his life can be found in “News for an Empire

married to

Harriet Cheney Cowles ( -1938) memorialized in a library and a foundation

William Hutchinson Cowles, Jr. (1902-1971) ran the paper 1946-1971

married to 

Margaret Paine (1902-1991)

William Hutchinson Cowles III (1932-1992) ran the paper 22 years 1971-1992, died suddenly while jogging

married to 

Allison Florence Stacey (1934-2010)

William Stacey Cowles (1960- ) publisher of the Spokesman from soon after his father’s untimely death in 1992 to the present. He has an undergraduate degree from Yale and an MBA from Columbia

married in 1989 in New York to

Anne Boden Cannon Cowles (?1964- ) of Ridgewood, NJ,, Undergraduate degree from Holy Cross, Masters Degree in International Affairs from Columbia

Elizabeth (Betsy) Cowles, Stacey’s sister, Bachelors from Dartmouth, Doctor of Law from George Washington University, is chairman of the Cowles Company