“Democracy Rebellion”–Time to Watch It

Democracy Rebellion” is a 56 minute inspiration. I strongly urge you to watch it online before it expires from the KSPS/PBS website this Monday, February 3. To watch, click the blue above (the blue indicates a weblink) OR click the direct direct link (web address) here:


[If the click doesn’t work, go to the P.S. below for detailed instructions on how to copy and paste.]

Why take the time to watch this? Its main point is that anything worth achieving (or protecting) does not occur overnight. Changes we now take almost for granted, like suffrage (the right to vote in elections) for former slaves, suffrage for women, the direct election of U.S. Senators, none of these changes happened spontaneously. All occurred because of long-fought popular movements, arguments, and agitations that arose out of years of effort by dedicated volunteers. Indeed, without the concerted effort of many it would still be legal to keep slaves.

Democracy Rebellion puts in context the current municipal and state-level efforts to preserve our democratic values from the threats we face. [These efforts are all the more pertinent while a lawyer like Alan Dershowitz argues in the U.S Senate (last Wednesday) that there should be no limit whatsoever on Presidential efforts to consolidate power. (Read Heather Cox Richardson on Dershowitz, here. Then sign up for her daily analysis of the impeachment proceedings here.)]

Teaser: Who knew or remembered that Washington State passed initiative I-735 with 63% of the vote in 2016, an initiative urging passage of an Amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision? Eight hundred cities and 20 states are now on record favoring such an amendment. (Action by 34 states would force Congress to act.) On a different, but related note, who knew that the Sate of Connecticut publicly finances political campaigns?

Watch Democracy Rebellion. It offers some relief from the spectacle occurring in the U.S. Senate as Republicans close their eyes and ears and advocate for oligarchy against the will of 75% of voters.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. If clicking the blue web address (the second paragraph above), highlight the link, hit COMMAND=CMD (⌘ on many computers) and the letter “C” simultaneously, then click your cursor into the line at the top of your browser’s window (Examples of browsers are Safari, Firefox, Chrome, whatever application you use to see webpages) and press ⌘ [CMD] and “v” to paste in the link. then hit Return.)

P.P.S. One final note. Alan Dershowitz deserves our disdain. He is a lawyer and a now retired Harvard professor, but he is mostly wrong-headed currently and historically, and he’s been at it a long time. In 1974 he said, “I’m not happy seeing Richad Nixon’s gang being tried by blacks and liberals in the Disrict of Columbia.” Wow. Click the link for context and the original newspaper article offered by the fact-checking site Scopes.com.

In Praise of Wikipedia

I’ve always viewed libraries, books, and encyclopedias with a sense of awe. I remember my parents buying us a copy of “The World Book Encyclopedia” when I was in grade school. I struggled to understand entries in “The Encyclopedia Britannica” in my early teens. I remember feeling sadness and anger reading of the burning of the great Library of Alexandria in the third century A.D. and more anger watching newsreels of the Nazis burning books. 

About twenty years ago a new, more accessible source of information appeared, an open collaboration encyclopedia called Wikipedia.org. Footnoted, up-to-date information with embedded links to related and explanatory articles and source materials was a dream come true. The physical and financial barriers of paper dictionaries, out-dated encyclopedias with appended “Year Books,” and the time barrier of weeks waiting to acquire a key book–Wikipedia lowered all those impediments to learning. 

No source standing alone is perfect. Wikipedia is a start, a jumping off point, an orientation aid for further inquiry. Wikipedia became, and remains to this day, my go-to source for basic information–and for links to other material.

A few years ago, I had an online exchange with the wife of a high school classmate of mine, a classmate who, at the time, was an Evangelical pastor in Ohio. In response to something I wrote she declared, “Wikipedia is not a reliable source.” I probed her statement. She meant it in a very basic way. She deeply distrusted Wikipedia. She found articles in wikipedia that challenged her perspective, among them, articles connecting to works in scholarly journals that discuss the Bible as an historical document, articles discussing the scientific understanding of geologic time, articles discussing evolution. From my Fundamentalist friend’s point of view, these articles all ran counter to her basic beliefs. Any source that discussed these issues openly was too liberal and too challenging to her understanding of the world. That is what she meant by unreliable.

On December 22, Redoubt News published an article in which Heather Scott (Idaho State Representative to Boise from north Idaho and a compatriot of Matt Shea) responded to the Rampart Report (the investigation of Matt Shea initiated by the Washington legislature in response to his “Biblical Basis of War”):

Reminding all “free thinking” Idahoans that the following facts and unanswered questions really do matter when drawing your own conclusions, Scott says that the unbiased integrity of the Rampart Group’s reporting is in serious question when their top four information sources relied upon include the biased Wikipedia, The Southern Poverty Law Center, Portland uber-left journalist writer Leah Sottile and The Inlander reporter Dan Walters. [the bold is mine, the ironic quotation marks are not mine.]

My friend’s wife and this comment by Heather Scott point out a growing epistemic distinction in our country (and the world?), a basic difference in attitude around knowledge and where knowledge comes from. The distinction is not absolute, but, rather, a fuzzy continuum within which individuals may, on the one hand, subscribe to science and empiricism, a world view based on evidence and experiment or, on the other, to a literal interpretation of an ancient text. Such “Fundamentalism,” a state of mind found among some adherents of most religions, categorically excludes consideration of any data or idea that challenges the received textual wisdom, excludes such suspect data or ideas as motivated by evil forces.

The next time you hear someone question whether Wikipedia is a suspicious source, engage them. Ask them what they consider their valid starting point for learning. Listen and learn. I, for one, am leery of having people represent me in government whose expectations of the future are narrowly focused on interpretation of ancient texts and exclude the broader landscape of shared human knowledge and understanding.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Apparently, Redoubt News readers aren’t “free thinking” enough to look at the Rampart Report themselves. I downloaded a copy. A friend electronically converted the pdf into a searchable document. (Which I will send you, if you Reply to this email and ask.) There are 236 footnotes to the Rampart Report, a mere sixteen of them link to wikipedia. Heather Scott’s assertion that “biased Wikipedia” is the first of the “four top information sources” for the Report is a lie–or she never looked at the document itself and she is expounding out of ignorance. In the echo chamber of Redoubt News and the Far Right you are suspect if you consider the knowledge base that hundreds of thousands of contributors have assembled as Wikipedia. Is Scott and her movement so insular that wikipedia is considered the work of the devil?

P.P.S. Wikipedia self corrects. I once looked up the biography of a female actor I’d just seen in a movie. I was struck by an obviously inappropriate and nasty assertion I found there. I contacted via email someone involved with Wikipedia and asked what the procedure was to correct this malicious entry. I was told that the first thing I should do was wait a day, that there were volunteer editors attuned to such malicious changes. Sure enough, the next day I checked and the malicious entry was gone–and my confidence in most of humanity restored. Of course, not all such changes are as easily detectible or correctable, but a huge number of volunteers keep watch. You can read more about the Wikipedia Community and the corrections of vandalism on wikipedia by clicking those links to articles…on wikipedia. I contribute to the Wikimedia Foundation regularly. (It is a 501(c)(3), donations are deductible.) I’m convinced it is a good cause.

WA State Democratic Presidential Primary

By the weekend of February 22, a month from now, you should have your ballot in hand for the Washington State Democratic (and Republican) Presidential Primary (assuming your voter registration is in order). Tuesday, March 10, just seven weeks from now, is the ballot turn-in deadline. Startling fact: the ballots are already printed. That was finalized January 7. There will be candidates on the ballot who have already dropped out.  

If you choose to vote in the 2020 Democratic ticket in this Presidential Primary (as opposed to casting a ballot for Donald Trump on the reverse side of the ballot), then these are your choices: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, “uncommitted”, or write-in. (read more detail from Jim Camden in the Spokesman). Having trouble keeping track? I am. For example, Cory Booker dropped out after the ballots were printed. Click Ballotpedia, 2020 Presidential Candidates, for an up-to-date national listing of who’s in and who’s out.

The Washington State Democratic Party process for 2020 for choosing its preferred Presidential candidate begins earlier this year than in 2016. It relies on the election results rather than caucuses, also in contrast to 2016. This should give Washington voters a bigger voice than in the past–that’s why it changed. (See the P.S. below for my review of the WA State process in 2016–it was very convoluted. Hindsight makes it a little clearer.)

The national Democratic Party will ultimately chose its Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates at the Democratic National Convention that will be held in July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The process is complex but not incomprehensible. Click the last link (repeated here) if you have the time and interest to delve into some of the details.

The take-home messages from all this for the Washington State voter are:

1) When you vote in the March 10 Presidential Primary do your homework. Don’t waste your ballot on a candidate who has already dropped out. The ballots are already printed. Inform your friends of this quirk.

2) This year Washington State voters will make their voice heard earlier in the process (by about 2 weeks) and by casting a ballot rather than attending a caucus. These are important differences (see P.S. below)

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Remember 2016? Let’s review a little history (because things have changed). My memory of 2016, it turns out, was a bit dim. There were local caucuses on Saturday, March 26th, which I remember as exciting, but confusing and chaotic. Statewide, about 230,000 enthusiastic voters (out of 3,906,000 total WA State registered voters) participated in the Democratic caucuses. On the basis of those caucus results the WA State Democratic Party eventually elected (on May 21st) 118 delegates to the Democratic National Convention–with 74 (63%) of them committed to Bernie Sanders.

But wait! Didn’t we also have a Washington State Presidential Primary election in 2016? Yes. On May 24th 802,754 (of those 3,906,000 total registered voters, those nearly 4M include both Democrats and Republicans, of course) cast votes in the WA State Democratic Primary Election for either Clinton or Sanders. With three times as many voters as participated in the caucuses bothering to participate, Clinton won with 52% of the vote.

Did this system make any sense? In a way the caucuses demonstrated a high level of enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders. These people actually bothered to take time on a Saturday to participate. Was the caucus excitement and voting an accurate measure of enthusiasm that would have resulted in a higher level of voter turnout for Sanders than turned out to vote for Hillary Clinton in November?  How many potential voters were so discouraged by the process (after all, the delegates were already selected) that they didn’t even turn in a ballot in the May 24th Presidential Primary Election? How many didn’t participate at all, perhaps out of confusion over how it all worked? We cannot know; we can only speculate. Suffice to say, the 2020 process in Washington State should be an improvement.

P.P.S. Also mark your calendar for Tuesday, August 4, the ballot turn-in deadline date for the Washington State Primary (for everything but the President) and and Tuesday, November 3, the national (and state) General Election. Then (if you live in Spokane County) go to https://www.spokanecounty.org/list.aspx?Mode=Subscribe#calendar, key in your email address and click “Elections” …and whatever else might be interesting to you. I’ve found this is a great service. Stay informed.]

What’s a Million Dollars?

By October 30, a week before the November 5th, 2019, voting deadline in last fall’s municipal elections, “independent” expenditures topped a million dollars. The previous record for Political Action Committee  (PAC) spending in City of Spokane municipal elections was a mere $176,000 (established in 2013).

Six hundred and twenty thousand dollars, more than half of the total independent expenditures in last fall’s City of Spokane elections ($1,114,000) came from the Washington Realtors Political Action Committee (WA RPAC). That $620,000 was directed by Tom Hormel, the chair of the WA Realtors PAC and, at the same time, a member of the Spokane Association of Realtors’ (SAR) government affairs committee. Mr. Hormel was pivotal in directing this firehose of mostly outside money at the Spokane municipal elections. Most of the WA RPAC money that did come from Spokane came from individual (and mostly unsuspecting?) local realtors who check-boxed a $35 donation to WA RPAC as part of re-upping their membership. Most of those realtors, insofar as they thought about it at all, probably imagined their political donation would go to lobbying efforts on behalf of buying and selling property, not a massive effort to buy an election.

All politics really are local. Most of you probably know one or two of the two thousand or so realtors in Spokane County. The next time you see them, ask what they think about the record amount of money the organization to which they might belong spent on trying to buy the Spokane municipal elections for a slate of Republican candidates, Woodward, Wendle, Cathcart, and Rathbun. Why ask? Because by asking you will let them know that their friends and clients took notice. Asking them might rouse them to take a look at how and by whom their organization spends their donated money. Without the local realtors and members of SAR paying attention to their own organization’s local politics, political operatives like Tom Hormel will feel free to take their money and use it in a similar fashion in coming elections. You don’t have to make a speech to your realtor. All you have to do is ask and listen, and perhaps hint that the news about this money has tainted your feelings about the real estate industry. That alone might be enough to get their attention. (If you want more background on the details of these expenditures check out the archives of my emails at jxindivisible.org. Search WA RPAC or Tom Hormel. Pay attention to dates, since the numbers changed on the way to the Primary and General elections. Similar searches at Spokesman.com or Inlander.com will offer more background.)

Most of the remainder of that more than a million dollars of “independent” expenditures made in the just past Spokane municipal elections came from wealthy individuals involved in real estate development and Republican politics. The money was disguised by the names of the Political Action Committees they funded, of course. Clever names like Spokane Good Governance Alliance PAC and the Concerned Taxpayers of WA State PAC strive to evoke images of grassroots political movements. Hardly. See Who’s Buying the Municipal Elections? Part II for background.)

How much is a million dollars, anyway? For most of us “a million dollars” equates to “a whole lot of money.” I have a hard time wrapping my head around numbers greater than about a thousand. Was that an “m”, a “b”, or a “t”? Million, billion, and trillion are mostly beyond our comprehension. Those numbers require some context to begin to grasp them.

In the department of large numbers one finds the 2020 budget for the City of Spokane. Click and have a look. The total 2020 budget for the City of Spokane is $1,109,975,080. That’s 1.1 billion with a “b”, that’s more than one thousand times the total amount of independent expenditures made by real estate developers and WA RPAC in a gross attempt to elect their slate of candidates to run City of Spokane.

What is an investment of a million dollars relative to a chance to have some say in how a thousand times that, a billion dollars, gets spent? To be sure, that billion is spent on all kinds of things, but it certainly includes tax money spent on infrastructure and municipal services essential to real estate development.

A record million dollars spent on local election “independent” expenditures, although a huge record for Spokane, pales in comparison to the influence it might have purchased. If you believe the folks who contributed to and/or controlled (like Tom Hormel) that million dollar expenditure were motivated by a selfless desire to build housing for the homeless, well, if you believe that, I have a couple of bridges to offer you for sale.

Thanks to campaign finance law in the State of Washington we have the Public Disclosure Commission. It’s regulations are a nuisance to candidates, but without the data the PDC provides on line, we, the voters, would be left in dark. Thanks to the PDC when a gross attempt is made to buy an election is made we can learn whose money it is and guess why they spent it.

Use the information. Talk with your realtor friends. Using our due diligence we can discourage political operatives from making an attempt like this again. Cherish the fact that we retain enough control through the rule of law embodied as the PDC to still see where the money comes from. We need to use these tools.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. As one example of wealthy real estate interests wading into last years municipal elections, Fritz and Katie Wolfe of The Wolfe Co., a “real estate investment firm,” wrote checks totaling $80,000 last year to the Spokane Good Governance Alliance PAC, one of the deceptively named PACs that spent the million dollars. (For reference, $80,000 is $27,000 more than the average household income of Spokane families in 2017.) $80,000 is way more than pocket change for the average voter, but it is a small investment some people hoping to have influence with the slate of candidates they elect.

Impeachment Coverage

I am trying to avoid writing on national news. Nonetheless, I’ve been either watching or listening to Senate impeachment trial nearly every spare minute, the same way many Americans were glued to the television over the drama of the Nixon impeachment proceedings in the House half a century ago. I’ve been listening to the live audio on KSFC 91.9 FM. From elsewhere one can stream the coverage at https://tunein.com/radio/home/. (It tends to start at 10AM PST.)

Hours following the day’s proceedings I receive an email entitled Letters from an American that summarizes the trial events. Written daily by Heather Cox Richardson, a Professor of History at Boston College, these emails summarize the events and put them in the context of history.

I urge you to click: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/ . Once at that webpage simply type in the email address at which you wish to receive the email. Or click “Let me read it first” to see the last several postings. They are well worth the time spent. Share widely.

We are at a cross-roads in our history. Fox News, Mr. Trump and his enablers want the American public to tune out, to pre-judge, to speed through this trial without witness testimony. Seventy percent of Americans in several recent polls believe witnesses need to be subpoenaed and heard. Are Republican Senators, required to sit at their desks in the Senate for the first time in years, actually listening? Will the history of these events be written by Trump’s propagandists or by historians like Ms. Richardson? This trial and the November elections will be determinative.

Sign up for Letters from an American.

Keep to the high ground,

How the U.S. Senate Doesn’t Function

Nearly the only thing Sen. Mitch McConnell will allow to come to the floor of the Senate are judicial nominations (if he weren’t required to take up impeachment, that surely wouldn’t come to the floor either). The judicial candidates are put forward by the Federalist Society, many of them rated as “unqualified” by the American Bar Association. Mr. McConnell, Senator from Kentucky since 1985, is exceedingly proud of his role in first stonewalling nominations that legitimately should have made by President Obama, and then enabling his party to fill those judicial vacancies with Republican/Libertarian nominees who will influence the judiciary for a generation or more. They are all lifetime appointments.

McConnell holds the U.S. Senate hostage as a rubber stamp of judicial nominations. Meanwhile, only the bare minimum of other legislation reaches the floor of the Senate—simply because McConnell will not allow anything that might contradict Trump’s drumbeat of “Do Nothing Democrats.”

It was with this background in mind that a group of us sat in the gallery of Senate, the same Senate that now hosts the impeachment trial, on November 13th. We watched as a legislative mini-drama played out on the floor below.

First, understand there is a procedure, “unanimous consent,” that can be used to pass a bill in the Senate, an action that is outside of McConnell’s control.  A Senator or Senators bring a “Unanimous Consent Request” to the floor and, If no one in the room objects, it passes. Slick, simple…and a long shot.

On November 13 we watched as a bipartisan “Unanimous Consent Request” concerning drug costs came to the floor.

We all recognize, I think, that drug prices in this country are absurdly high. Furthermore, most understand that there is no such thing as a “free market” in drugs. Drug companies charge any amount they think they can get away with short of becoming the object of a damning media expose, e.g. Martin Shkreli raising the price of Daraprim by a factor of 56 overnight. The object of the game is for drug companies to enrich their shareholders, although they profess the money is essential for research and development.

We watched from the Senate gallery as Senator Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) together with co-sponsoring Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) presented the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act for passage by unanimous consent (Unanimous Consent Request—S. 1416). This bill would have put limits on one of the games drug companies use to keep control of a medication and its pricing by extending its patent. The Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act had already been carefully considered and passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee (in which Committee Republicans are in the majority). It seemed to us like this would be a slam-dunk.

Imagine our surprise when Senator Durbin (D-Illinois), a supporter and cosponsor of the Affordable Prescriptions for Patients Act, stood to object—not because he didn’t want it passed, but because he wanted to add to the bill an amendment that would require drug companies to simply disclose the cost of a drug every time they advertise it. (This amendment is referred to as the Durbin-Grassley amendment or S. 1437.) Note that Mr. Grassley is a Republican Senator from Iowa, i.e. this amendment also has bipartisan support both in the Senate and among voters.

Ah, we thought, now this is logical. Surely there won’t be any objection, we’ll get this reasonable amendment and then we’ll also get the patent legislation.

But: From under the gallery Senator Patrick Toomey (R-Pennsylvannia, serving since 2011) rose to object.

I am sympathetic with the idea of requiring greater transparency on healthcare costs generally…It doesn’t strike me, obviously, as a good idea to mislead people, including in this context. Why do I say it is misleading? It is because the legislation requires the list price or the wholesale acquisition price of a drug to be the price that is put in the ad, despite the fact that almost no one ever pays either of those prices. There are huge rebates that are built into the system. 

And this is a reason not to demand the drug companies disclose their pricing on their ads? It is hard for me to imagine a more bogus, disingenuous argument. Nonetheless, Mr. Toomey’s objection served the purpose of McConnell’s leadership and power trip: Never let legislation sneak by that could 1) threaten Republican protection of corporate power and 2) never let anything come to the floor that might result in an embarrassing recorded vote, regardless of how bipartisan the support.

Mitch McConnell has worked hard to earn his rank as the least popular legislator in Congress, both nationally and in his home state of Kentucky. He changes his talk to suit an audience faster than a chameleon changes color to match its background. For Kentucky audiences on public television he “brings home the bacon” and allows Kentucky to “punch above its weight.” For the Hannity listenership on Fox, McConnell is working hand in hand with Trump’s lawyers on impeachment defense. He crows about his senatorial power politics.

McConnell faces a credible challenger this November, Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot. As a resident of Eastern Washington, I am reminded of the razor thin vote margin by which George Nethercutt unseated Tom Foley, then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in the tumultuous political times of 1994. May such a surprise await McConnell this fall. While McConnell remains in power we are assured of partisan dysfunction in Congress, dysfunction that prevents even the most reasonable bipartisan legislation like these drug bills from becoming law.

On the lighter side, McConnell’s reign has sparked some ingenious lyrics and song. (Watch and listen to “Song for McConnell” on youtube. It will make you smile.)

Keep to the high ground,

MLK Day-Remember

Martin Luther King Day

Monday, January 20, Rally and March. Here’s the link:

Gather and Rally at 10AM: Spokane Convention Center
334 W Spokane Falls Blvd, Spokane, Washington 99201
March and Resource Fair to follow

When you arrive at the Convention Center you’ll be asked to go through a metal detector, similar to the airport. Leave your jackknife at home. We have a good local reason to be sober about this, the more so this year than ever. Remember: Kevin Harpham, a locally grown white supremacist from Addy, Washington, set a radio-controlled backpack bomb containing fishing weights as shrapnel, rat poison, and human feces along the MLK Day parade route in Spokane on January 17, 2011. The backpack was discovered and reported to police around 9:25 that morning. The bomb was defused and the parade went on as planned with most marchers unaware of the threat. (Read more here.)

It would be nice to think of Kevin Harpham’s attempt at domestic terrorism as a one-off, but that would ignore recent local events and multiple linkages. Leah Sottile, then a music and entertainment reporter for The Inlander, lived a block away from the site of the Spokane backpack bomb in 2011. That near-miss sent her on a investigative reporting quest that resulted in a fascinating–and chilling–series of podcasts and writings entitled Bundyville and Bundyville, The Remnant. They represent a body of work that have become essential to my understanding of Matt Shea and the movement of which he is a part and, to a degree, over which he presides. I am even more convinced of the significance of Leah Sotille’s work after seeing that Sottille was labelled by Heather Scott (ID Leg. Representative from Blanchard and a comrade of Shea’s). Scott called out Sotille as “Portland uber-left journalist writer Leah Sottile” from Scott’s echo chamber of Redoubt News. This comment from Heather Scott, this comment standing all by itself, is a glaring reason to spend the time to read or listen to Sottile’s deep dive into this movement.

As we mark Martin Luther King Day nine years after Spokane’s near miss, people like Shea and Scott, folks with connections to people in the movements that spawned Kevin Harpham, are serving as elected state representatives from our region. We would do well to remember the near-miss of 2011. We should contemplate the pertinence the 2011 incident to what we face today. (I do not mean to scare you. I’m sure security will be tight. Law enforcement remembers this event better than the average citizen.)

For less recent historical context, I urge you to click on the wikipedia entry, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and read. If you imagine establishing a holiday to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday was a slam-dunk (as I had rather naively imagined), the article is a must read. President Reagan signed the bill to make MLK Day a federal holiday in 1983, after a petition in favor of the holiday was submitted to Congress with six million signatures. The petition was identified by the magazine The Nation as “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.” There were several prominent naysayers, including Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC) and John Porter East (R-NC). To his great credit, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) on the floor of the Senate literally stomped on the 300 page document Helms submitted, calling it “a packet of filth.”

There is a lesson here about what it takes to get legislation passed…

Get out and honor the day. (See the box above for details.)

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Even more striking: In all this context, Matt Shea will be speaking today, this MLK Day, at a 2nd Amendment Rally in Coeur d’Alene “at the clock tower in front of The Coeur d’Alene Resort at 11 a.m. before moving to the Avista Pavilion at McEuen Park at noon.” Not only does this seem a particularly tasteless and threatening thing to do on MLK Day, but Coeur d’Alene, like so many other places Shea appears, isn’t even in his home district.

P.P.S. If you have a strong attachment to places and locations like I do, you might be interested to know the backpack bomb was found “on a metal bench at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue.”

P.P.P.S. While sifting through article after article for this post I realized I had mostly forgotten this bomb event, despite the broad coverage of it at the time. How much better remembered would it have been had it detonated and killed marchers? I more clearly understand why, as those who actually were there take their memories off to their graves, it is glaringly important to remember and remind ourselves of historic events like the Holocaust–lest we be condemned to repeat them.