Deep Breath

Last week was a bitch. A lot of people I talked with sounded ready to give in, curl up in a ball, give up.

Need a reminder? Doug Muder provides a list with links, just in case you had already checked out of the news cycle, closed your eyes and cowered:

Looking around this week — in the media, among my friends, inside my own head — I observed that a lot of people are freaking out. Because Trump was acquitted, because he has started his revenge tour, because Republicans know he abused his power and don’t care, because the Democrats are doing it all wrong, because a virus is spreading out of control, because the State of the Union was full of lies, because both the National Prayer Breakfast and the Medal of Freedom have been desecrated, because a US senator willfully and illegally endangered the life of a whistleblower, because it’s been 65 degrees in Antarctica, because the Attorney General has given Trump carte blanche to violate campaign laws, because a billion-dollar disinformation project has begun, and because, because, because.

Then add to that the more local news around Matt Shea (WA legislator), Heather Scott (ID legislator), the Covenant Church, The Church at Planned Parenthood and the toxic brand of Old Testament “Christianity” that unites all of them. (More on all of that in later, and prior, posts) How many voters are there out there who feed on, and buy into, their poisonous rhetoric? (Hint: fewer than you might think. Loud and organized minorities can look much bigger than they are.)

Take a deep, deep breath. As to Trump, Democrats’ nail-biting, and electoral angst, Doug Muder offers this (the same principle applies to the local poison):

At his core, Trump is a bluffer. He puffs himself up to make people think he’s bigger and richer and stronger than he really is. It’s the only trick he knows, but sometimes it works: He scares people into giving up or going along. (That’s what we just saw happen in the Senate. You don’t really believe that all those Republicans thought keeping him in office was good for the country, do you? Or even good for their party, or for themselves? They got scared, so they went along.)

When something like that works for him, he uses it to puff himself up further and scare more people. That’s what’s been going on this week.

Don’t help him.

Don’t run around scaring other people about how big and powerful he is. When a bluffer gets on a roll, you can never predict how far it will go. But we do know one thing about bluffers: When their empires start to collapse, they collapse quickly, because each failure causes more people to think “I don’t have to be scared of this guy.”

You can never predict exactly when that process is going to start. The balloon always looks biggest just before it pops.

Doug Muder sent that email out Monday morning, right after I read Heather Cox Richardson’s late Sunday evening email making many of the same points, but adding the historical perspective of a scholar. I urge you to click that link, read, and sign up for her emails, as well as for Doug Muder’s email. Both see me through some dark moments.

Here’s what Heather Cox Richardson ends with. It’s the critical piece:

To people who want to find a way to make a difference, speak up, to your local officials, your friends, your neighbors. What do you hope for the future? Why does it matter that we continue to be a nation of laws? Our voices are only unimportant if we decline to exercise them. And, taken together, they have the power to redefine America from the “carnage” that Trump sees, to the land of hope and possibility it has been in the past… and can be again.

Uncurl from that ball you’re tempted to roll up in. Rise up. Talk. Share. Encourage. Show up. And…

Keep to the high ground,

Matt and Heather at Marble and Malheur

Daniel Walters’ article in the Inlander on February 6th is a must read. Click: “North Idaho Rep. Heather Scott reaps the glory—and the consequences—of being one of Matt Shea’s biggest allies” for the full effect, photos, captions and all. The article and its contents deserve wide sharing. I’ve copied it in its entirety below for ready access, but the original is easier to read and more impressive with its included photos and captions. (The formatting in the copied article is challenging, too. However, I was able to preserve the links from the original.)

Thanks to Daniel Walters for a tremendous effort in pulling this all together. That folks like Scott and Shea hold elected office in the Idaho and Washington State legislatures, respectively, should make us all sit up and pay attention to local politics.

Keep to the high ground,

February 06, 2020

North Idaho Rep. Heather Scott reaps the glory—and the consequences—of being one of Matt Shea’s biggest allies” by Daniel Walters

At these gatherings in northeast Washington, the jackboot of tyranny is always said to be descending, the hand of the federal government always inches away from stealing your guns, your land, your freedom to speak or to pray.
But at this particular “God and Country” celebration in June of 2016, the sense of impending doom among these self-proclaimed patriots has a grim weight to it. Blood had been spilled. Cops had gunned down militia member LaVoy Finicum during the armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Washington state Rep. Matt Shea visited Malheur during the occupation, and now at this gathering in Stevens County the following June, he’s leading a roundtable titled “You Should Be Scared,” warning the crowd that what happened to Finicum could happen to them.
“That could be any single one of us that just says ‘no’ one day,” the Republican Spokane Valley legislator says. “Any single one of us!”
But then Shea introduces one of the reasons he’s hopeful: The “finest legislator of the state of Idaho,” a woman who “has people so scared in Idaho that even the speaker now is afraid to have her in his office.”
“Representative Heather Scott, get up here!” Shea yells, and the crowd whistles and cheers.
Scott, a small woman with long brown hair and just a hint of Holly Hunter in her voice, tells the crowd that some people think Idaho is safe because it’s dominated by Republicans.
“No, we’re not safe,” Scott says. “We’re allowing refugees into our state. Last week, we lit up our Capitol with rainbow colors.”
She used to be complacent, she says. A few years earlier, she didn’t know anything about politics or even bother to vote. A message from God changed all that.
“I called Matt right away,” Scott says. “God’s telling me to run for office.”
Ever since, the fates of Scott and Shea have been intertwined. Shea has feted her with awards and praise and invited her to secret meetings.
Each has zig-zagged from one controversy to another, feuding with the press and their own party. And then in December of last year, an independent investigation commissioned by fellow state lawmakers alleged that as a leader in what some call the “patriot movement” — a loose network of militiamen, sovereign citizens, rural survivalists and anti-government conspiracy theorists — Shea had fomented multiple “armed conflicts.” His role in the Malheur standoff was tantamount to “domestic terrorism,” investigators concluded in the report.
In Olympia, Shea has subsequently been booted from the Republican caucus, but also cheered by hundreds at a recent gun rally on the capitol steps. Scott can relate. When Scott was temporarily stripped of her committee assignments three years ago, a wave of her own supporters rallied to her defense.
Shea and Scott exist in two realities — the world of the Legislature and the world of incendiary self-proclaimed patriots. The tactics and mindset that can make you famous in one world can make you infamous in the other. Shea has been the star of a Rolling Stone feature, a podcast series and international news stories, and Scott is following in his footsteps. Even if Shea and Scott never are able to reshape the Inland Northwest’s identity, they can still reshape its reputation.
“My goodness, just one person can make a huge difference. And you have done that,” Shea tells Scott in a 2016 podcast. “To the point that, I think, they’re kind of afraid of you right now.”
“And I think a lot of people feel the same way about you, Matt,” Scott responds.

Heather Scott knows how to make a first impression.
During Scott’s very first week in office in 2015, representing the northernmost part of Idaho, from Sandpoint up, fellow lawmakers watched her climb on her new desk in Boise and ask them if the little black object hanging from the wire on the ceiling could be a “listening device.” She then pulled out a knife and cut it down.
But it wasn’t a bug.
“We later learned that the object was believed to be a part of the Capitol building’s fire suppression system,” Idaho Republican state Reps. Caroline Nilsson Troy and Don Cheatham said in a statement.
Scott, for her part, has never confirmed their account and denied ever causing damage to the statehouse building. The fire suppression incident, long whispered about in the halls of the statehouse, first became public knowledge in 2017 when then-Idaho State Rep. Christy Perry wrote a letter summarizing her “serious, if not grave, concerns regarding the behavior patterns of Representative Heather Scott.”

Perry wrote that Scott’s “escalating pattern of behavior” meant that some female members of the caucus “do not feel safe working in her presence.”
It wasn’t just that Scott carried a gun into the Capitol. This is Idaho after all. Perry says she personally kept two Smith & Wesson lightweight revolvers in the statehouse.
The difference, Perry says, is that there was a paranoia that came out in everything Scott did.
“When you couple odd behavior and aggressive behavior and know that person does carry, that raises a concern to a different level,” Perry tells the Inlander.
Scott declined to be interviewed for this story; like Shea, she says the media is part of a coordinated conspiracy, driven in part to silence people like them.
In Perry’s letter, she wrote about Scott sneering and glaring at her colleagues, bashing them in events in their own districts, and claiming female legislators were given leadership positions if they “spread their legs.” And while the frustration with Scott wasn’t universal, Perry wasn’t alone.
“Some of those concerns were shared by others,” Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke says. Bedke found the comment about female legislators to be particularly horrifying — he suspended Scott from all committees until he felt she’d adequately apologized. Today he says she’s “grown as a legislator.”
From her first campaign on, Scott has portrayed the Republican-dominated Idaho Legislature as an “orchestrated circus” and a “swamp,” beset by sell-outs, bullies, cowards and “evil people.”
Sometimes those accusations get personal: When an affair between Perry and an Idaho state senator became public in 2016, Scott shared the news on Facebook and speculated about legislative corruption: “How many good bills backed by citizens were kept in committee chairmen drawers and why?” Scott wrote.
In Idaho, Scott has argued, the battle isn’t between Republicans and the Democratic minority. It’s between the “gravy train” Republicans — addicted, she claims, to federal bribes, beholden to crony capitalism — and those working for the citizens.
Set aside Scott’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage and transgender rights and Muslim refugees, you could almost consider her a hardcore libertarian. She believes the county government’s job is to protect you from the state, and the job of the state is to protect you from the feds.
Scott imagines tyranny coming not from a bang, but a succession of whimpers.
“I think a lot of people are waiting for this big war, and they’re hunkered down and they’ve got their food and they’ve got their bullets,” Scott says in a 2015 YouTube video. “It’s not how we’re going to be taken. We’re going to be taken one small battle at a time.”
As a result, Scott and a few allies have turned even minor procedural votes — updating the state’s notary laws, for instance — into tooth-and-nail battles where the state’s sovereignty and the future of liberty is alleged to be in jeopardy.
Unlike Washington state, where Shea’s vote is drowned out by Democrats, Idaho is conservative enough that Scott’s vote matters. In 2015, Idaho representatives had to return to Boise for a special session after Scott’s choice to help kill a child support bill — citing fears about foreign tribunals and Sharia law — threatened to cost Idaho $200 million in annual child support payments.
This approach has given her nearly perfect ratings from the libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation. She’s beloved by Idaho Second Amendment Alliance.
“She doesn’t compromise,” says Anna Bohach, a former constituent. “That’s what I like about Heather. We don’t compromise on our principles.”
But more moderate legislators saw Scott as killing perfectly fine bills by spreading fear and falsehoods.
“There are people who get things done in the Legislature because they work well with their colleagues and come up with tangible ideas,” says former Idaho Rep. Luke Malek, a Republican. “And Heather Scott is not one of those people.”
Malek would work in the Legislature and then read one of Scott’s newsletters — roaring with inflammatory rhetoric — and it seemed like she’s coming from a different world entirely.
“There’s like this alternate reality,” Malek says.

That reality is called the “American Redoubt.”
First dreamt up by survivalist fiction author James Wesley Rawles, the Redoubt calls for conservative Christians and Jews to escape ostensible government persecution in liberal areas and migrate to the Inland Northwest to turn the region into a bulwark against governmental tyranny — even a fortress in the event of a governmental collapse. Scott’s district is in the heart of it.
Last December, Rawles put both Scott and Shea on his list of “key leaders and promoters of the American Redoubt movement.”
“The beauty of it is, we’re all in the Redoubt,” Scott tells Shea on Shea’s podcast. “It is a place where people from all over the country have been fleeing.”
The Redoubt movement has its own alternative media network, filled with some of Scott’s most ardent supporters like Redoubt News blogger Shari Dovale — “Patriot Journalist” on her business card — and pseudonymous Radio Free Redoubt radio host John Jacob Schmidt.
The Redoubt is a haven for groups like the Oath Keepers, a loosely organized, militia-aligned patriot group of mostly law enforcement and military veterans who’ve vowed to defy unconstitutional orders. Shea’s an Oath Keeper. Despite not having military experience herself, Scott took the Oath Keeper’s oath, too.
“It was serious,” Scott says in a YouTube video. “It was like when I got married.”
But don’t confuse the Redoubt with the sort of white ethnostate the Aryan Nations once dreamt of in North Idaho in the 1980s, members of the movement insist. The Redoubt, Scott wrote in a statement last month, is “not a hideout for racial supremacists, religious zealots, bigots, –phobics or ‘deplorables.'”
Yet, it’s not hard to see why some people conflate the Redoubt movement with Idaho’s ugly past. Montana pastor Chuck Baldwin — the first on Rawles’ list of Redoubt movement promoters — celebrates the Confederacy and preaches anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories.
As for Scott herself? There was the time — a few weeks after a white supremacist who celebrated the Confederate flag shot nine black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2014 — that Scott proudly flew the Confederate battle flag on a parade float, arguing it was a symbol of “free speech.” And a day after the 2017 alt-right rally in Charlottesville, when a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of protesters, Scott published a quote on Facebook arguing that a “white nationalist” was “no more than a Caucasian who [is] for the Constitution and making America great again.” Scott later argued she was just starting a conversation about how liberals distort language.
In her statement, Scott declared that she rejects “ANY AND ALL forms of racial supremacy” and believes “as the late Lavoy Finicum stated, that ‘Freedom is Color Blind.'”
In fact, some conservative critics of Scott believe that she and similar legislators deploy these sorts of controversies intentionally.
“The formula is simple. Use white nationalism stories to trigger the media, be the martyr and rally support from sympathizers who don’t like to be called racists,” an Idaho rancher wrote last year on the moderate-leaning Idaho Conservatives blog.
Put another way, she and Shea are looking for fights that, they believe, will portray themselves as victims.

It was Matt Shea who made Heather Scott a star.
You can trace the moment back to Aug. 6, 2015 — the day that Scott believed the government was coming to take a veteran’s guns. A year after John Arnold, a Vietnam veteran in North Idaho, had a stroke, he was informed by Veterans Affairs that he was no longer able to handle his own finances — or possess a gun.
And so Scott called up Shea.
Shea, a veteran himself, knew a thing or two about showdowns with the United States government. In 2014, Shea had gone down to Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada to support the armed protesters and militiamen who had come to Bundy’s defense when the Bureau of Land Management started taking Bundy’s livestock because he’d refused to pay grazing fees.
Shea had even formed an alliance of state legislators and other leaders called the Coalition of Western States — that’s COWS, for short — dedicated to fighting against the federal government’s so-called “war on rural America.”
Jay Pounder used to be part of Shea’s informal security detail and, breaking with the lawmaker, he leaked hundreds of pages of internal Shea documents to the media. Shea’s ultimate goal, Pounder says, goes beyond concerns over public land: The showdowns themselves are the point.

Washington state Rep. Matt Shea was accused of taking part in an act of “domestic terrorism” in an investigative report released in December.
“They always want these flashpoints,” Pounder says. “They have to have a flashpoint in order to have the holy justification in order to start shooting back.”
When Scott tells Shea about how Arnold might lose his gun rights, Shea leaps into action. He writes up a formalized operational plan, dubbing the tactics “Operation Armed Backyard.”
He outlines principles like “Expose them as tyrants, by making them act like tyrants” and “human life is more important than stealing guns.”
The goal, Shea writes, is for the VA to back down without anybody getting hurt, according to leaked documents. He wants hundreds to attend and for other states to join the fight.
He doles out assignments: Schmidt would be in charge of “secure communications and intercept.” Shea ally Anthony Bosworth — who’d been arrested for standing with his AK-47 in front of Spokane’s federal courthouse and refusing to leave — was to conduct site-recon, set up early warning observation posts and establish evacuation routes. Scott’s job? “Identify patriot bail bondsmen,” and contact law enforcement and local elected officials.
The document also included a long list of unassigned potential tasks, including identifying “available patriot aircraft” and “multiple resupply routes” and organizing “civilian action teams.”
Scott and Shea put out the call on Facebook.
Infowars, Alex Jones’ right-wing conspiracy website, hypes it as a “showdown.”
And so in Priest River, a town of about 1,800, a hundred protesters — some armed, a few carrying large wooden crosses — gather to stand in support of the veteran. Members of the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters of Idaho, another patriot group, both show up. The Bonner County sheriff stands in solidarity with the protesters.
“I’m here today because I believe Priest River is the next battleground for the federal government,” Scott announces at the start of the rally. “It’s a war against our vets.”
But the VA didn’t come to take the veteran’s guns — the VA doesn’t do that. Instead, Bryan Hult, Bonner County’s local advocate for veterans, arrives and suggests there’d been a misunderstanding.
“I called [Arnold] to visit with him to clarify what the letter said, period,” Hult tells the Inlander.
Scott later reports that the VA was working with Arnold to restore his gun rights.
Shea is ecstatic.
“They ran in fear from Heather Scott!” he proclaims on a 2016 podcast.
Accolades shower down. The American Legion gives Scott a “Certificate of Appreciation.” Shea and his Washington legislator allies give her their “2015 Statesman of the Year Award,” featuring a Don’t-Tread-On-Me rattlesnake coiled against an American flag backdrop.

Ben Olson, publisher of the Sandpoint Reader in Scott’s district, says the Priest River rally significantly raised Scott’s profile in the Redoubt.
“That really launched her within the patriot movement and the Christian conservative crowd,” Olson says. “They look to her for guidance.”
The next flashpoint, however, wouldn’t be so bloodless.

On Dec. 11, 2015, Shea sends out a COWS press release, decrying the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond, two ranchers in Harney County, Oregon. The release — which lists Scott as the group’s Idaho coordinator — accuses the BLM of waging a “war on rural America” through “bureaucratic terrorism.”
That same day, COWS works with Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, to publish a “Redress of Grievance,” demanding Oregon and Harney County officials intervene to help the Hammonds.
And then on Jan. 2, 2016, Ammon makes a move even the Oath Keepers organization condemns — seizing Harney County’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters with a group of armed protesters.
The next day, Shea puts out a Facebook statement once again accusing the BLM of “bureaucratic terrorism,” but noting that the Hammonds have “rejected any help from COWS” so their “vast network of patriots” has not been involved.
But behind the scenes, Shea has a plan. COWS has “intelligence assets,” he writes in one internal message, “on-site providing real time intelligence.”
He works from a similar template as Operation Armed Backyard. This time, he calls it “Operation Cold Reality,” and sends it to a list of allies, including “Greenbean” — Scott’s code name within Shea’s network.
Shea’s goal is not only to convince the federal government to “stand down” without violence, he writes in various memos, but to “re-establish legitimate leadership over Patriot Movement” and to pursue “the Vision of Restoring a God-Honoring Constitutional Republic.”
The COWS would lead a negotiating team, Shea writes. “Greenbean” would “drive to Burns from Boise for linkup.”
So she does: Scott invites her legislative seatmate Rep. Sage Dixon and Idaho Rep. Judy Boyle on a fact-finding trip.
As they drive down, Dixon thinks about the Ruby Ridge siege in North Idaho. In 1992, an FBI standoff ended in the deaths of three people and a dog and fanned the flames of the militia movement. It went down in his and Scott’s district. In conflicts like these, he worries, “it usually ends up in somebody dying.” He wants to do what he can to prevent that.
Shea, the three Idaho legislators, and other members of COWS walk into the Harney County courthouse to meet with County Judge Steve Grasty and other local officials. The group presents themselves as potential negotiators, urging the county officials to make concessions and, at least on one occasion, accuses the BLM of terrorism. Grasty is unpersuaded.
“Get these criminals — and they are terrorists — out of my county!” Grasty declares.
Scott objects.
“By calling these people criminals and terrorists, that is just going to escalate this even further. I think that’s very dangerous,” Scott tells Grasty. “I see citizens that are pushed to their limits and they have no other options. … I live in a rural area, everyone has a gun. Not everyone is a terrorist.”
At the time, Dixon says, he didn’t know Scott was part of COWS. Neither did Grasty.
“I didn’t realize it until a couple of weeks later, that ‘Holy crap, this group was one of the instigators,'” Grasty tells the Inlander.
Back then, Grasty repeatedly urged the group not to meet with the occupiers, warning them it would be dangerous and they could inadvertently boost the occupiers’ resolve. The Idaho legislators, after praying about it, go anyway.
“These lawmakers have shown great courage to support us,” Oregon occupier LaVoy Finicum says, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Finicum is killed on Jan. 26, 2016, less than three weeks after meeting with the legislators — shot by law enforcement officers at a roadblock after he’d reached for a pocket that contained a handgun.
The days that follow risk more bloodshed: Refuge occupier Sean Anderson, a central Idaho resident, screams on YouTube, demanding that the American people converge upon the refuge, and that “if they stop you from getting here, kill them.”
And as the FBI tries to get Anderson and the other holdouts to turn themselves in on the final night of the 41-day standoff, a terrified Anderson makes another call to arms on a live-stream recording over the internet, urging listeners to contact “the Idaho 3-percenters, and tell ’em that they’re here to kill us!”
Ultimately, it was a member of COWS — Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore — who helps talk Anderson and the others into giving themselves up peacefully. Toward the end, Fiore congratulates the four holdouts for making history and assuring them that their call to action was being answered.
“There are all of the legislators who stand with you… they’re all coming here,” Fiore says, naming Boyle and Scott as two from Idaho. “These are your people.”
Shortly after the standoff ends, Redoubt News’ Dovale records a jubilant press conference with Scott and other COWS members in a Harney County parking lot.
“We’ve been involved in this since day one, in parts of the negotiations,” Scott says, smiling and praising Fiore as a “star.” “We’re just very pleased it ended peacefully.”
The takeaway?
“You have God-given rights and you need to exercise those rights so we don’t lose those rights,” Scott tells Dovale.

Pounder, for his part, sees Scott as more of a passenger — albeit one in the front seat — in the patriot and Redoubt movements than a driver.
“She’s kind of this follower,” Pounder says. “She’s not a strong leader. She takes orders from Matt and executes those orders.”
Yet Scott is part of the club. She’s invited to a clandestine meeting — disguised over email as a “family picnic” — where Shea distributes documents discussing topics like “biblical warfare,” assassination, sabotage and designing a new society after a governmental collapse. She’s included in Shea’s encrypted “Redoubt Emergency Network,” a chat where his fellow patriots discuss Antifa riots, try to ferret out traitors and leakers and, on occasion, fantasize about violently attacking their foes.
When the chat turns to opponents of Shea’s dream of turning Eastern Washington into a 51st state, Schmidt muses about the appeal of “skull stomping godless communists” and Scott jokes that that “sounds like the name of a rock band.”
Pounder knows the feeling. He was part of those chats, too.
“You truly feel like you’re part of a family. You’re part of something important and big and be able to reshape what America is,” Pounder recalls. “But you don’t realize that family’s really dysfunctional when you look beneath the surface.”
But sometimes others look beneath the surface.

Heather Scott is “a kind individual who loves her community, who loves people, but is being led by people who don’t love people — they love power.”
In December, at the request of Washington state House, the independent Rampart Group investigative team released a 108-page report examining whether Shea promoted political violence. And it’s all laid out: The secret meetings, the violent chats, the God and Country rallies, the Oath Keepers and the Oregon standoff.
Scott’s name appears in the report at least 20 times. When the investigators look at the documents Shea prepared for the Priest River rally, they conclude that the organizers were probably “preparing for a conflict that carried with it a significant risk of violence.”
While Shea has suffered in the world of the state Legislature since the report’s release, in the world of the Redoubt, he’s portrayed as the noble victim of a vicious smear. In particular, his defenders scoff at the portrayal of the Priest River rally as an “armed conflict.”
Meanwhile, Bedke, the Idaho House speaker, says he hasn’t read the report yet. “I pulled it up, but I just didn’t have time to wade through it,” he says.
If he had, he would have read a report that portrays Scott as a legislator who repeatedly teamed up with Shea as he ascended in the patriot movement by instigating conflicts that risked “bloodshed and loss of life.” The Idaho Statesman, for one, has called for the Idaho House to “thoroughly investigate the charges” against Scott and to “take the appropriate actions.”
The Redoubt, of course, has a much different take: When asked for an interview for this story, Radio Free Redoubt host Schmidt replied that “Heather is a patriot, a Christian, and has a huge heart for her community and her country, unlike you, you opportunistic turd.”
Among the constituents who keep reelecting her, Scott is seen as a breath of fresh air, willing to take on career politicians in the name of liberty.
To a moderate former legislator like Malek, Scott is someone who sabotages the complicated legislative process by spreading misinformation that “creates divisiveness, creates fear, creates anger.”
To Pounder, Scott is “a kind individual who loves her community, who loves people, but is being led by people who don’t love people — they love power.”
To Scott and Shea, all these varied reactions are evidence of the same thing: proof they’re in the right. When they succeed, they see it as evidence that they’re effective. When they fail, they see it as evidence that they’re so effective that dark forces are conspiring to stop them.
Scott describes to Shea in a 2016 podcast how the left comes after people like them: First they try to marginalize you. Then they try to demonize you, then to litigate you and then they try to criminalize you.
“It’s a good versus evil thing,” Scott says. “It’s Satanic.”
“It really is,” Shea says. “It’s a grand conspiracy of evil.” ♦

Daniel Walters, born and raised in Spokane, has been writing for the Inlander since 2008. In that time, he’s written about Rep. Matt Shea’s feud with the Spokane County sheriff, death threats wolf lovers sent to Washington state employees, and about how chemtrails aren’t actually a thing. He can be reached at

Below you might find the photos that accompany the original article. Again, I urge you to click  “North Idaho Rep. Heather Scott reaps the glory—and the consequences—of being one of Matt Shea’s biggest allies” for the full effect, photos, captions and all. The captions alone are worth the click.

Trump’s Desperation and A Ray of Hope

Heather Cox Richardson summed up the vote in the Senate impeachment trial and Trump’s and his administration’s immediate efforts to further divide the country and shore up Trump’s dictatorial power. It has been an exhausting week. I am taking off from writing today. Instead, I’ve reproduced Heather Cox Richardson’s email below. I encourage you to sign up for them (to do so click on her name on the line below the date).

It is all well worth the time to read, but here is the piece I thought was the kernel of it, offering some hope for the future–if we keep working at it:

The Republican Party is now the Trump Party, and there is a reason that, for all their bullying, its leaders are nervous. The 48 Senators who voted to convict Trump represent 18 million more Americans than the 52 Republicans who voted to acquit. It is increasingly obvious a minority is gaming the system against a majority, and their only hope for retaining power is to repress that majority.”

Keep to the high ground,

February 5, 2020

Heather Cox Richardson Feb 6

As expected, today the Senate voted to acquit President Trump of the charges of which he was accused in the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate rejected the first article, abuse of power, by a vote of 48 to 52, as Utah Senator Mitt Romney crossed the aisle to vote with the Democratic minority. On the second article, obstruction of Congress, the vote was 47 to 53. “The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” Romney told reporter McKay Coppins. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution—and one’s oath—that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”

“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor,’” Romney said. “Yes, he did.”

The fact that Romney voted yes on one of the articles was really the only surprising news of the day. And it was significant. It robbed Trump of a pure party-line vote, thus enabling him to argue that impeachment was a partisan “witch hunt.” Trump surrogates found a way around that problem quickly: they simply said that Romney wasn’t a Republican. Donald Trump Jr. called Romney a “pussy” and tweeted that Romney is “now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the GOP.” On her show on the Fox News Channel, Laura Ingraham said Romney should resign because he “committed a fraud on the people of Utah, on the Republican Party, on the Constitution.”

The Republican Party is now the Trump Party, and there is a reason that, for all their bullying, its leaders are nervous. The 48 Senators who voted to convict Trump represent 18 million more Americans than the 52 Republicans who voted to acquit. It is increasingly obvious a minority is gaming the system against a majority, and their only hope for retaining power is to repress that majority.

They redoubled their efforts to do that as soon as the Senate voted. Maine Senator Susan Collins tried to argue that Trump had learned his lesson and would “be much more cautious in the future,” but Trump insisted to reporters on Tuesday that there was nothing to learn because he had done nothing wrong. “It was a perfect call.” Privately, according to Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, Republican senators “agree that the president is reckless and unfit. They admit his lies. And they acknowledge what he did was wrong. They know this president has done things Richard Nixon never did. And they know that more damning evidence is likely to come out. But they are afraid to stand up to him. They have no answer for how they will stop him from getting worse in the wake of acquittal.”

It is something to which they should have given some thought.

After the vote, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, asked about Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment effort: “Will there be no retribution?” And, after former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be censured for ripping up Trump’s speech, tonight Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced that he is filing an ethics complaint against Pelosi. He claims she might have violated the law against mutilating a government record. “Nobody is above the law,” he tweeted. “She must be held accountable.”

This afternoon, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair Ron Johnson (R-WI) began an investigation into Hunter Biden.

And, in retaliation for the fact that New York has refused to turn DMV records over to ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Homeland Security today suspended the ability for residents of New York to enroll or renew their status in the Global Entry or Trusted Traveler programs, something that will hobble New Yorkers who often travel internationally.

Today, Attorney General William Barr gave the Trump campaign cover for 2020. He issued an order that the FBI cannot investigate any political candidate or that candidate’s senior advisors before the 2020 election without him signing off on it. So, if Trump does receive help from a foreign country as he did in 2016 and tried to do in 2020, the FBI cannot investigate it unless Barr says it’s okay. Barr, you will remember, is deeply implicated in the Ukraine Scandal.

I read today an exchange between a historian and one of his friends, who was taking him to task for blowing Trump’s actions out of proportion and acting like the sky is falling when, he said, every administration upsets its opponents and Trump’s is no different. A second historian chimed in to note that this might be a really good time to listen to historians, since we’re the ones who study the rise of authoritarians.

So here’s my two cents. This is not normal political behavior. This is not normal partisanship. While, as you must know by now, I believe that the future always remains unwritten, and we can always change the outcome until it is, the steps Trump takes are consistent with the rise of a dictator. And now with him freed from the cloud of impeachment, we appear to be entering a new phase of escalation. It looks like he is beginning to single out his opponents for punishment, justifying it with the argument that those opponents are hurting America.

While it is not time to panic, it is definitely time to keep up pressure on your senators and representatives, to take up oxygen defending the rule of law, to demand hand marked paper ballots in the 2020 election, and to work for candidates of your choice not only for the presidency but also for the House and Senate, candidates who will defend our democracy. And if you find it all too much to face, remember that refusing to let this administration throw you off track and instead going about your day is an act of resistance. And so, in this era, is simply being kind and honest, when so many people are trading on hatred and lies.

Trump will make an announcement about his acquittal Thursday at noon.




Jason Campbell@JasonSCampbell
Laura Ingraham says Mitt Romney should resign: “You committed a fraud on the people of Utah, on the Republican Party, on the Constitution” February 6th 2020

15 Retweets51 LikesBiden investigation:


Eric Lipton@EricLiptonNYT
DHS suspends ability of NYS residents to enroll or renew status in Global Entry or Trusted Traveler programs, which also can provide access to TSA Pre February 6th 2020

154 Retweets149 LikesGovernment record law:

Gaetz tweet:

Rep. Matt Gaetz@RepMattGaetz
BREAKING: I’m filing an ethics complaint against @SpeakerPelosi for destroying @realDonaldTrump’s State of the Union speech. Her conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071). Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable. February 6th 2020

13,154 Retweets40,849 LikesGrisham:

Sherrod Brown:

Relative numbers represented by the senators:

Ari Berman@AriBerman
Mind-blowing stat: 48 Senators who voted to convict Trump represent 18 million more Americans than 52 Republicans who voted to acquitFebruary 5th 2020

32,924 Retweets101,741 LikesCoppins:

Don Jr:

Trump cautious:

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PO Box 720263, San Francisco, CA 94172

Covenant Church

The crowd answered, ‘I curse you in the name of Jesus!‘”

That vile eruption from the crowd at The Church at Planned Parenthood, a subsidiary of the Covenant Church, was led by a visiting activist last August. It was quoted in Shawn Vestal’s Sunday, February 2 column in the Spokesman entitled “Noisy nights at Planned Parenthood lead to year of conflict between clinic, police,” a piece everyone ought to read for the awareness it brings.

“I curse you in the name of Jesus.” is just plain wrong, wrong by any measure of Christianity and certainly wrong by any measure of the Christianity in which I was brought up. Romans 12:14, “Bless and curse not.” is what I was taught. I can find no justification cursing in His name. These people are off the rails.

It is time to pay attention to what these people represent and the people and local politicians that adhere to them.

The Covenant Church (and Covenant Christian School) is not off in the back woods. It is at 3506 W Princeton Ave, on the near north side, just south of Wellesley Ave. It looks like a pretty standard brick church from the outside. However, unlike most christian churches, many Christians I know would not be welcome. Pastor Peters, at a Friday night gathering at Covenant Church in early January, a gathering entitled “Exposing leftism… push-back night!” preached, “Leftism is a poison, it destroys homes, it destroys church, in fact, it destroys entire denominations.” (07:20 in the video). Much later (at 02:15:00) he declared, “I don’t want Democrats in my church, unless they repent. We’ll give ’em six months. You can be in our church for six months, then you need to repent.” He is not joking.

Everyone who is Christian or feels they have Christian values or religious roots of any kind ought to spend a little time watching this video and then decide for themselves who these people are. Pick out a few choice sentences. Share them with friends.

Here’s the link:

The roughly two hour twenty minute program can be divided into segments.

The first half hour (up to 32 minutes in) sets the tone, with singing by Gabe Blomgren and a female vocalist, followed by the preaching of Pastor Peters and guest Pastor John Schrock (Airway Heights).

The second half hour (32 to 58 minutes) is a performance by former Spokane Valley Councilman Caleb Collier and Gabe Blomgren (the latter says, “I work for the John Birch Society.”) of “Church and State,” a far right local Facebook broadcast that often hosts Matt Shea.

From 0:58 to 1:25 is Bill Jasper, resident of Coeur d’Alene and “Senior Writer” of New American Magazine (internet and print) speaks.

The last hour (from 1:30) is a “sermon” by Rep Matt Shea himself.

The entire program is about division, not about any Christian value I was taught. It is about not listening to anyone who stands outside the their little fold. It is a cult, a Fundamentalist political cult that is Christian only by self-acclamation. If the vast majority of people who call themselves Christian actually can watch this video and not feel ill, then we are, as a country, in real trouble.

Take note that frequent fliers in this group, Mike Fagan (former City of Spokane Councilperson), Caleb Collier (former City of Spokane Valley Councilperson), and Matt Shea (still Legislative District 4 WA State Rep) have served or still serve in public office. Voters need to pay better attention to the underpinnings of those they vote into office. I do not like the message of these people but in this country they are free to voice it. I just don’t want one of them representing me in public office.

Keep to the high ground,


Nothing happens in government by accident. Anything worth making happen needs advocates. No representative at any level of government hatches ideas out of thin air.

The legislative process at all levels moves in a stepwise fashion and until tomorrow evening we have a chance to advance Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) by one of those steps. (If you’re wondering what Ranked-Choice Voting is and why, in the State of Washington, this step is important, check out or visit RCV is definitely worth learning about as an improvement for our democracy.)

Right now, in our Washington State House of Representatives, there is a Bill, HB 1722 – 2019-20 whose one chance to get a vote this year depends on the Washington State House’s Appropriations Committee scheduling it for a committee vote (eventually that might get the bill to a vote by the whole House). The bill is a necessary for local districts in our State to even consider ranked choice voting as a better method to elect some officials. Why? Currently, by state law all Washington State voting is uniformly mandated as top-two, with each voter getting only one vote. So HB 1722 – 2019-20 would merely enable local governmental districts to consider Ranked-Choice.

And here’s the thing: Timm Ormsby, WA State Rep. from Legislative District 3 (pretty much the City of Spokane) is the Chairperson of the WA State House Appropriations Committee, and he needs a nudge to move this bill along to get it scheduled for a Committee vote. (See below for contact info.)

Here’s a chance to do something in the civic interest. Below I’ve pasted the calling particulars from Trenton Miller, a young man I know who is putting a lot of energy into advancing Ranked Choice Voting for our State:

Currently, the Local Options Bill that would allow jurisdictions the ability to adopt Ranked Choice Voting has untill Tuesday night to be scheduled for a vote in the House Appropriations Committee. We here in the 3rd Legislative District have a particular power to push for this vote to occur, because the chair of this Committee is none other than our own Representative Timm Ormsby. BUT, Representative Ormsby still needs some convincing from constituents that he should schedule the vote. 

I ask that each of you call and email Ormsby’s office to urge him to schedule the Local Options Bill for a vote in the House Appropriations Committee? If you’ve done this before, it doesn’t hurt to do this again! 

In addition, it would be even more impactful if you personally asked friends and family to do this as well! The higher the volume of calls and emails, the more likely we are to get a vote scheduled.

Here is the contact information for Ormsby’s office and the link to comment directly on the bill:

Timm Ormsby’s Olympia Office: (360) 786 – 7946

Link to Comment on the L.O.B.:

Points about the Local Options Bill

  • It does not mandate Ranked Choice Voting at all, it simply gives jursidictions the ability to adopt Ranked Choice Voting
  • Ranked Choice Voting has shown strong correlation with candidates running more civil and issue-based campaigns
  • Ranked Choice Voting encourages more candidates and greater participation in our election process

P.S. If you are not a constitent of the 3rd Legislative District that Timm represents, please still give him a call, because representatives advocate for all Washington Residents from their positions within Committees.


Trenton Miller | Spokane Chapter Co-Lead

Keep to the high ground,

The Census, Why it is Critical

Come to the Census 2020 Public Forum at Shadle Park High School (4327 N Ash St, Spokane, WA 99205) this Thursday, February 6th from 5:30-7:30PM.

The Basis of the U.S. Decennial Census

The Framers understood the Census (they called it an “Enumeration”) as the foundation of our representative government. The Enumeration appears very near the beginning of the U.S. Constitution, in Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3. Article I overall sets the rules for the composition and function of the Congress, the first branch of the three branches of our government. The House of Representatives, the first governing body described in the Constitution, most closely represents the people in this federation of states. The Enumeration, the counting of all the people in each state, determines the distribution of Representatives sent by each state to the U.S. House. (Many subsequent acts of Congress determine the total number of Representatives, but that’s a topic for another day.) Of course, the Framers immediately hit a snag: for the purpose of determining representation in the House, do you or do you not count slaves, people considered by some as property, not real people? The Three-Fifths Compromise they struck at the writing of the Constitution required the American Civil War and the 14th Amendment to un-do. (Click the blue for more explanation of this sad chapter in our history of “self” government.)

The people to be Enumerated according to Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3 were men, women, and children, all the way from recently arrived immigrants to descendants of folks who had come over on the Mayflower to everything in between (“citizenship” was an ill-defined concept back then). The Enumerated were NOT just those authorized to cast votes in elections. The modern day Census works the same way, it counts people, not “citizens” or voters. (Rules for voting for Representatives are determined by states and Congress together as set out in Article I, Section 4.) The more people counted by the Census the more proportional power (via re-apportionment seats in the House) is granted to the subgroup who get to vote (and actually do so). Representatives are charged with representing all those counted in their district–but the temptation is to pay attention only to their voters. It’s a complicated calculus.

The 2020 Decennial Census: Power, Money, and Challenges


The Decennial (every ten years) Census set forth in Article I of the Constitution determines each state’s proportion of Representatives in the U.S. House as discussed above, but that’s only the beginning of its importance. The Census provides the data on which are re-drawn the in-state boundaries of all U.S. Congressional, state legislative, county, and municipal governmental districts. All these boundaries are re-drawn on the basis of total human bodies counted, NOT on the number of voters. The Census is the data set underlying the determination of these multiple layers of representative power. The numbers counted by the Census are the basis upon which the ground rules are set, the playing field upon which voting and electoral politics happen–and the playing field changes every ten years.


Besides determining our representation in government, around a quarter of our federal tax money (that’s in the neighborhood of onetrillion dollars country wide!) is distributed based on data derived from the Census, distributed through states, counties, cities, and households. (There are at least 316 census-guided federal programs.) For a graspable number, that works out to around $3000 of federal tax dollars per year for every body counted by the Census. If you want to see the details, these federal numbers come from the GW Institute of Public Policy and from the Census itself.

Handicapping the 2020 Census:

Urban areas, it turns out, tend to be harder to census. The Trump administration (think Steven Miller) was well aware of this fact when they pushed for a citizenship question on the census. They knew the fear they instilled would frighten people away, people who should be counted, people disproportionally from urban areas and from more urbanized states. They knew their effort would handicap the Census in their favor regardless whether or not they won the court battles over putting the question on Census questionnaire (they didn’t win in court, but they won the propaganda effort to encourage undercounting of critical groups). In addition, the administration underfunded the Census and introduced a new, unproven online method of gathering data.

The way to push back at this is to be aware, to learn about the Census, talk about the Census, promote the Census, consider working for the Census, and encourage others to sign up to do so. The Committee Coordinator of the Spokane County Complete Count Committee ( informs us that the Census is still hiring in our area. Visit:  Share that with anyone who might feel civic-minded and wants to some extra money. (It pays $15.50-16.00/hr in our area.) More information:

Whether or not you and someone you know might work for the census make it your civic duty to learn more about it. Come to the Census 2020 Public Forum at Shadle Park High School (4327 N Ash St, Spokane, WA 99205) this Thursday, February 6th from 5:30-7:30PM.

It’s our democracy–if we can keep it–or reclaim it.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. The Enumeration of slaves covered in Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution was certainly a fraught issue, but so was not counting “Indians not taxed.” It seems that American Indians living on reservations were neither taxed nor counted. The U.S government’s legal (and census) treatment of the Native Americans is a long, complex, and ugly story. Here’s a starting source:

P.S.S. Besides the trillion dollars of federal tax money distributed based on the Census, some of state revenue distribution also depends on the Census. In Washington State that is another 200 million that depends on the Census.