“Drop Box Training”?

Training for Voter Intimidation?

Matt Shea’s On Fire Ministries at 115 E Pacific is holding “Drop Box Training” this evening at 6:30PM, training in Matt Shea’s words to “make sure that, I don’t know, they [drop boxes] don’t get stuffed with anything that’s not ‘of God’”, a line he delivers with a knowing smirk. You can see the isolated clip here in a much watched Twitter post. You can also see it in context by clicking the youtube video below. (“Pastor” Shea’s Drop Box training advertisement starts at 19:22 amid other announcements in the beginning of a nearly three hour long Sunday service.) 

Matt Shea is the former Washington State representative from LD4 (Spokane valley north to Mt. Spokane). He resigned from the state legislature at the end of 2020 after becoming infamous thanks to his “Biblical Basis for War” manifesto. He has not gone “quietly into the night” after what in normal times would be widely seen as a disgrace. First, he took the reins as “pastor”of the Covenant Church at 3506 W Princeton Avenue from Ken Peters as well as the leadership of the “Church at Planned Parenthood” (TCAPP) . Soon fired by Peters under circumstances not made public, Shea his latest congregation, On Fire Ministries & Kingdom Christian Academy, in May of 2021, apparently taking along a share Covenant’s parishioners. Peters has since rebranded Covenant as the “Patriot Church”, perhaps better reflecting its political aims. (For more of Shea’s disturbing history read here.)

Matt Shea’s antics with his congregation and his announcement of “drop box training” at On Fire Ministries are part of a larger well-funded false political narrative of election fraud that no one still a member of, or candidate in, the Republican Party dares to plainly repudiate. When Matt Shea resigned his seat in the Washington State legislature in 2020 he left his seat mate and fellow traveler, Bob McCaslin Jr. (now running against Vicky Dalton for Spokane County Auditor). Shea was replaced as LD4 state representative by Rob Chase, a more affable man than Shea, but one who shares similar far right politics. It is an open question whether Shea would have been re-elected state representative from LD4 had he run in spite of “The Biblical Basis for War” controversy. Arguably he may be capable of producing more damage from outside the legislature than he could accomplish on the inside, especially with two fellow travelers holding the LD4 seats. 

“Drop Box Training” and 2000 Mules

Each major political party is authorized by Washington State law to send representatives to undergo training to be come “election observers” of the procedures of handling and counting ballots in each county. This year, several observers representing the Spokane Democrats chatted with their Republican counterparts. They learned that at least some of the Republican observers were not only highly skeptical of every detail of the ballot handling process and had been motivated to sign up for election observer training by Dinesh D’Souza’s movie, 2000 Mules:

2000 Mules is a 2022 American political film by political commentator Dinesh D’Souza that falsely claims unnamed nonprofit organizations paid “mules” associated with the Democratic Party to illegally collect and deposit ballots into drop boxes in the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin during the 2020 presidential election. D’Souza has a history of creating and spreading conspiracy theories.

Someone or some organization, mailing from a fake Spokane address so as to be untraceable, sent out DVDs of 2000 Mules to an unknown number of recipients in eastern Washington. The targeting was broad, inaccurate, and likely quite expensive, judging by the number of people I know who received a copy. I watched it. It is a slick piece of Republican propaganda posing as a legitimate scholarly documentary. As I watched I was reminded of the ironic comment, “Of course it’s true. I read it in the newspaper”, but applied to the present day. The supposedly analytical commentators dressed in suits, along with D’Souza himself, pretend to be convinced during the movie by the data presented. It takes but a minute to learn they are all far right wing political operatives. All hail from the Christian conservative Salem Radio NetworkDennis PragerSebastian GorkaLarry ElderEric Metaxas, and Charlie Kirk. Only the most gullible would believe this was a panel capable of balanced analysis of the presented data.

2000 Mules is the slick propaganda that underpins Shea’s “drop box training” this evening. Combining the movie and the probable contour of the training it is not a great leap to imagine the sincere believers of this garbage staking out drop boxes in certain locations in Spokane, particularly areas that lean Democratic. These sincere observers would be on the lookout—and ready to video or perhaps even directly challenge—anyone who, to their skeptical eye, looks or acts “suspicious”. The beauty of this whole scheme is that these folks staking out drop boxes will no doubt be thinking of themselves as justified by Christian fervor and a desire to protect election integrity, when, in fact, their primary effect more likely be to intimidate voters. 

This is a Republican propaganda play to keep alive and use to electoral advantage Trump’s years-long accusations of stolen elections. Where are the local, regional, and national Republicans (except Liz Cheney) who will call out this deception for what it is?

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. For more information read RANGE Media’s Luke Baumgarten’s “Matt Shea is training ballot box watchers in Spokane”. So far, the Spokesman, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, has neglected both the implied threat of Matt Shea’s “drop box training” and the Michael Flynn “ReAwaken America” gathering of election fraud crazies in Post Falls on September 16-17. 

P.P.S. For more of a flavor of what Matt Shea has been up to since he resigned from the legislature check out these two posts put together by StrongerTogetherSpokane:

Redoubter Daily “Intelligence” Posting

The antics of On Fire Ministries

If you wonder about the Shea’s daily Redoubt posting, visit https://redoubtnews.com/ and view look the top of the page. This code must mean something to some of the Redoubt News readers—and Shea takes himself seriously. Is he still, as he was accused before he left the legislature, plotting insurrection? Is he still training “Team Rugged”?

P.P.P.S. Earlier local Republican efforts to demonstrate alleged election fraud made national news. Check out:


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The Sheriff and the Prosecutor

Sheriff Knezovich threatens while Prosecutor Haskell seeks to justify

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich continues to garner local and national attention for his threats to “clear” Camp Hope by October 14. His bluster gets him noticed. A sub-headline of an article posted to KREM2 reads:

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he will declare the property a nuisance property and cite campers for unlawful assembly if they refuse to leave.

The KREM article is full of Ozzie’s unsubstantiated allegations, and opinions that will resonate with some listeners and repel others. I hear echoes of “I and I alone can fix it” in his statements—but Ozzie will not act alone. He needs legal justification.

The original RANGE Media article drops a hint:

“I do know that the county prosecutor provides legal counsel to the sheriff’s department,” Aho said, “so you might want to check with them.”

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell’s office was one of several agencies and organizations that have yet to respond to our requests for comment.

Another clue is found buried in subsequent Spokesman coverage tellingly entitled “Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says homeless encampment an ‘ongoing protest,’ seeks warrant to clear it in October”:

Knezovich said the basis for clearing the camp would be provided by a warrant of abatement being drafted by the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office. That process, outlined in state law, is different than the chronic nuisance property procedure written into city law. Knezovich said it would take 20 days to draft that warrant.

Whoa! “20 days” to draft a warrant? Think of that. First, not only does Ozzie have to seek legal justification for his strong-arm “clearance” of Camp Hope, but the legal process required to justify his actions through Spokane Prosecutor Larry Haskell’s office is going to take “20 days”. If the law around this issue is so crystal clear why could it possibly require “20 days” to produce a valid warrant?

Here’s where the “rule of law” to which we in this country pay justifiable homage gets a bit murky. Prosecutor Haskell, like every county prosecutor (see P.S. below) exercises “prosecutorial discretion” we would do well to understand. Yes, the law is the law, but how the law is interpreted and applied is, at least initially (before involving a judge) subject to the interpretation governed by the mindset of the County Prosecutor. Prosecutors in the office under the direction of the County Prosecutor (in this case Larry Haskell) attempt to frame an issue that might eventually have to be presented to a judge. 

The statute linked in the Spokesman article, RCW 7.48.260states [the bold is mine]: 

When, upon indictment or information, complaint or action, any person is adjudged guilty of a nuisance…order that such nuisance be abated, or removed at the expense of the defendant, and after inquiry into and estimating, as nearly as may be, the sum necessary to defray the expenses of such abatement, the court may issue a warrant..

First, how is a “nuisance” defined as applied to this Chapter 7.48 RCW (the Chapter entitled “NUISANCES”)? We find that in the subchapter RCW 7.48.010 “Actionable Nuisances Defined”:

The obstruction of any highway or the closing of the channel of any stream used for boating or rafting logs, lumber or timber, or whatever is injurious to health or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to essentially interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of the life and property, is a nuisance and the subject of an action for damages and other and further relief.

Reading that definition of “nuisances” one begins to understand why it might take Mr. Haskell “20 days” to construct a justification for Sheriff Knezovich to march his deputies in and “clear” Camp Hope. Does the process also require that a Spokane County District Court Judge become involved? After all, RCW 7.48.260 says “when any person is adjudged”. I’m no lawyer, but doesn’t “adjudged” imply a ruling by a judge on the strength of the argument, in this case an argument produced by the prosecutor? Or is this the wrong statute?

None of the media coverage of the controversy stirred up by Ozzie’s declaration demonstrates any clear understanding of the justification Haskell will use to give Knezovich the legal green light. In the last paragraph I followed a link offered by Kip Hill in his Spokesman article. A lawyer with whom I discussed this situation suggested that Haskell might try RCW 9A.84.010the “criminal mischief” statutes under Washington State’s  Title 9A, the state criminal code, specifically Chapter 9A.84 RCW, the section on “Public Disturbance”. 

KXLY article says that Ozzie will “will cite people for “unlawful assembly” and arrest them if they do not leave. I’m not a lawyer, but I am a careful reader, and cannot find an “unlawful assembly” statute in the Revised Code of Washington. When two reporters, Knezovich himself, and another lawyer aren’t more clear about what is going to be used to justify Knezovich’s threatened action, it suggests that Knezovich, with his posturing, might have gotten out ahead of the law . (If you have the time check out those RCW links to demonstrate for yourself the vagaries of legal interpretation and how it depends on the mindset of the Prosecutor.)

For Ozzie to send his deputies to Camp Hope to disperse (not solve, but disperse) the “homeless problem” requires Prosecutor Haskell to use his prosecutorial discretion to first pick a statute from among those bandied about and then construct a legal justification around it. Perhaps this will take 20 days. If Ozzie gets to “clear” Camp Hope, once he is dusting off his hands in a gesture of finality, once all the work being done at Camp Hope is brought to a halt (or at least made much harder) by his clearance, all he will have demonstrated is three things:

  1. It is much, much easier to tear down than it is to build trust and goodwill
  2. The issue of homelessness won’t go away, it will reappear, but more dispersed, and, once again, more challenging to manage 
  3. When the law is twisted by those in power to justify kicking the downtrodden no one benefits

Keep in mind that Prosecutor Haskell has both an agenda and, by virtue of his position, a great deal of discretion in applying that agenda to his interpretation of the law. On the November 8 General Election ballot independent Deb Conklin offers a great alternative to Haskell who would be less likely to serve as the Sheriff’s always-willing justifier. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. For a short, accurate, and entertaining primer on prosecutorial discretion watch John Oliver’s “Prosecutors” on youtube. It was posted four years ago—and remains painfully relevant.

P.P.S. Finally, none of this has to really play out in court: the damage is done once Ozzie sends in his deputies to “clear” the camp. Some might argue that the damage is done just by leveling the threat. The legal maneuvering based on the details of the warrant will soon drop out of the news. The legal wrangling—and the taxpayer dollars it will cost—will go on long after Sheriff Knezovich has stepped down.

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The Ozzie and Nadine Show

Along with Bingle and Cathcart

Note: The title of this post is shamelessly borrowed from an article by Shawn Vestal that appeared in the Spokesman on Saturday, September 24th. (See P.S.)

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, City of Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, City of Spokane Councilmen Jonathan Bingle and Michael Cathcart, and Sheriff-Candidate John Nowels want Camp Hope to evaporate. The existence of Camp Hope is a thorn in the side of their Republican “let’s use a stick” narrative that homeless people are homeless by choice, that homelessness is a badge of moral failure, that the way to “help” such lazy people is to punish and disperse them rather than offer a hand. 

Woodward’s mindset was best expressed by her earlier statement:

I think we need to get to the point where we’re working to make homelessness less comfortable and get people connected to services.

In other words, in Woodward’s mind, coercion, force, and threats are the best way to deal with the Camp Hope people. Beat ‘em while they’re down. Make their lot worse so they will come to accept what we grudgingly offer (but which we haven’t organized the resources to provide). 

Early last week Julie Garcia of Jewels Helping Hands, Maurice Smith of My Road Leads Home, Empire Health Services, Revive Counseling Spokane, and Compassionate Addiction Treatment, among others, people and groups actually working with the roughly six hundred people living at Camp Hope, seemed to be getting at least a little reduction in bluster from Woodward and her administration. One could have imagined that Woodward, having argued and cajoled her way to an anti-camping ordinance passed by the City of Spokane City Council, would cease her threats so that the people, groups, and agencies actually working at Camp Hope could peacefully carry out their efforts to provide housing and appropriate services. 

But, no. Counterproductively, the Woodward administration issued another threat last Wednesday, covered by RANGE Media:

That letter said that the large tent [erected in the summer of 2022 as a cooling tent], which was converted to a supply tent and host site for outreach services as the threat of extreme heat lessened, must be brought down by September 22 or face daily fines of $536.

Then, on Thursday, RANGE Media broke the news that outgoing Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich announced that he step in and resolve the issue. “Sheriff threatens to sweep Camp Hope as state and city start working together”. His breathtakingly blind solution: 

My plan is to provide bus tickets to the location of each residents’ choice, allowing them to reunite with family and to assist them in recovery. I will also engage the faith community to help with drug, alcohol, and mental health treatment.

…Consider this letter notice to WSDOT that I plan to clear this camp by mid-October, 2022. 

Just what “faith community” does Ozzie propose to engage that isn’t already on the ground in Camp Hope? Maurice Smith, who is on the ground at Camp Hope every day, is a sterling example of the Christian faith community at work. What imagined magic does Ozzie think he can make happen by calling in his idea of a faith community? 

Under Woodward’s “leadership” around the time of the Convention Center debacle the Mayor’s office let this slip a comment that has rattled in my head ever since:

“I have been calling facilities for months, quite bummed and disappointed that we weren’t able to connect more with our faith-based organizations in our community,” Sarah Nuss, the city’s director of emergency management, told the council today. “It wasn’t because work isn’t going on. It’s because we’re not able to find anyone to work with us.”

This “it’s not the government’s job” to address community issues is a Republican article of faith baldly expressed in WeBelieveWeVote’s Survey Question 12 on the Poor and Needy, a survey nearly every local Republican candidate has filled out and a statement with which most indicate full agreement:

Providing a safety net for the poor and needy is the responsibility of individuals, families, churches, and local communities. It is not the responsibility of the government, which primarily exists to protect citizens from foreign and domestic threats. 

After Knezovich’s “I will fix it” letter, RANGE Media was excluded from the Sheriff’s press conference in what can only be seen as an act of retribution for RANGE’s coverage of Ozzie’s letter. Read “The importance of a free press” and then sign up with RANGE and contribute to their efforts by buying a subscription. They deserve our support.

Neither Knezovich nor Woodward have actually visited Camp Hope and talked with any of its residents the way Gavin Cooley (short youtube video), Dan Simonson (A View of Hope From Camp Hope), and others have done. Spokane City Councilman Michael Cathcart (currently running against Amber Waldref for a position on the new Spokane County Commission), based on an ephemeral Facebook post of his from a few years ago, is so paranoid he likely wouldn’t approach the place without a loaded sidearm—and certainly couldn’t possibly approach the Camp with an open mind.

Knezovich, Woodward, Cathcart and Bingle are doing (or backing) everything they can to make all of Camp Hope’s homeless residents uncomfortable, frightened and uneasy—to set up roadblocks on the road to resolution—even as others work in good faith to help devolve Camp Hope in a humane manner before winter. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. I started writing this post with an overwhelming amount of material—and the intent to feature Shawn Vestal’s Saturday Spokesman article about Ozzie’s threats: “If dumb, angry responses to homelessness worked, we’d have solved it already.” Mr. Vestal’s writing alone is enough to justify a Spokesman subscription, but, just in case you can’t access this article which is available only in electrons I have copied it below. 

Shawn Vestal, September 24th, 2022:

The community is desperate for effective, unified leadership on homelessness.

Instead, we’re being treated to “The Ozzie and Nadine Show” – a hacky farce of grandiose proportions, in which local officials who could make a real difference instead lash out, politicize, undermine, threaten and obstruct progress in bringing an end to Camp Hope.

If they get their way, the camp’s residents will not be housed, and they won’t magically disappear. They’ll move around to other places in town, and the problem will continue to worsen, no matter how many misdemeanor citations the police department rains down on them.

This is the chief accomplishment of Nadine Woodward’s administration on homelessness, after all – a steep rise in the ineffective shuffling-about of homeless people. As feverishly as she tries to spread the blame, there is no single official in our community who bears more responsibility for what’s gone wrong.

As the state-funded effort to clear the encampment proceeds, the community desperately needs to see it work. We desperately need leaders pulling together behind real efforts to achieve real results, at Camp Hope and with the many other corners of this emergency as well.

Instead, we’re getting an unproductive game of chicken that raises a ton of questions.

Whose authority prevails in these conflicts? Might the city actually sue the agencies that are spending $24 million to address homelessness? Could there be a standoff at the camp between sheriff’s deputies and state patrolmen? How far will the rash, impetuous sheriff go to prove that the state is not the boss of him?

Dumb questions, political posturing, failures of leadership.

It’s “The Ozzie and Nadine Show.”

The state, which owns the land inside the city limits on which Camp Hope sits, is spending millions to find housing for the camp’s residents. You might think local officials who have failed to make a dent in this problem would have a very simple response: Thank you!

Right now, Empire Health Foundation is spearheading an outreach effort to connect each camp resident to a place to live. The foundation is doing this because our local governments are not.

This is not a project based on fantasies or wishful thinking, but on the reality that each person there will have different needs and that finding everyone a place to go – in a city that does not have enough places for them to go – will take more than a couple of weeks.

It is based not on a simplistic desire to judge those people’s level of deserving, but to recognize that whatever their circumstances, it is better for them and better for everyone else if they are living indoors – ideally with access to the services that would help them improve their lives.

Does everyone wish all of this could happen instantly? Of course. But what will happen if the campers are just disbursed and driven off – if the cops are sent in swinging their billy clubs, which is so clearly the dream of some? How does that story end?

Those who dream this dream think it ends with homeless people moving … away. Not into other neighborhoods. Not onto riverbanks or under train tracks or in parks.

Just … away.

Away, away! Shown the stern hand of a no-nonsense sheriff and pro-accountability mayor, the hundreds and hundreds of homeless people throughout our community will just vanish.

Such wishful thinking animates “The Ozzie and Nadine Show,” with the lead actors blaming the state for the problem entirely, attempting to establish a wildly unrealistic deadline for the camp’s removal, and threatening actions that may satisfy the pro-cruelty crowd in the short term, but which would be disastrous.

Woodward has done this by attempting to fine the state under the city’s nuisance laws, demanding reimbursement of the city’s costs associated with the encampment and removal of a cooling/warming tent, as well as setting a mid-October deadline to have the camp cleared.

The heads of the three state agencies responded earlier this week with an utter broadside – sharply rebuking the city, making it clear they would not honor the “completely unrealistic” deadline, refusing the attempt to extort nuisance payments, and accurately noting that the problem of homelessness in Spokane has been exacerbated by the failures of the mayor herself.

In a particularly apt poke, the letter – signed by Commerce Secretary Lisa Brown, state patrol Chief John Batiste, and Transportation Secretary Roger Millar – calls out the mayor for being “more preoccupied with optics than action.”

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich followed with more optics, firing off a scabrous letter Thursday to the Department of Transportation that displays all the hallmarks of lame-duck Knezovichism: personal smears, authoritarian bluster, ignorance about the problem, political cheap shots, boundless arrogance.

Knezovich claims he will personally clear the camp in a few weeks. The great leader will fix things and it will be quick, thank you very much. He claims he will buy bus tickets for the camp residents, partner with churches to provide drug and mental health treatment – because everyone knows how ample the drug treatment resources in this community are – and voila!

Away, away!

More darkly, the sheriff hints at malfeasance and criminal allegations involving supporters of camp, calling for audits and investigations of everyone in sight. This line of thought – that those helping homeless people are actually crafty profiteers and fraudsters – is common slander among the fans of “The Ozzie and Nadine Show,” but slinging vague allegations of fraud like some Facebook troll is scummy behavior for a public official.

It is all beyond absurd. A sheriff on a white horse with a handful of bus tickets, riding to the mayor’s rescue! Huzzah!

Unfortunately, we can’t solve this problem with the dumb ideas and misdirected anger of “The Ozzie and Nadine Show.”

If we could, it would already be solved.

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What Was Flynn Peddling in Post Falls?

Not Just “Christian” Nationalism

Last Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17, the “ReAwaken America Tour” attracted an audience of devoted MAGA Republicans to the State Line Speedway in Post Falls. These are the people upon whose votes local Republican politicians depend, the people to whom local Republicans vying for elective offices must nod and wink as they dodge and weave around straightforward questions like “Do you acknowledge that President Biden is the legitimately and fairly elected President?” Worse, many local Republicans, including, for example, Bob McCaslin, Jr., the Republican candidate running as a challenger to Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton; Rob Chase, current Washington State Representative from LD4 (Spokane valley north to Mt. Spokane); and former State Representative Matt Shea, actively promote the narrative of election fraud that is deeply intertwined with Flynn’s “ReAwaken America Tour”. 

The media coverage of “ReAwaken America” in Post Falls was sparse. KXLY ran a 3 minute segment on September 16. It is relatively balanced and worth watching. It focuses on “Christian nationalism” as if what Flynn is peddling were just another revivalist brand of Christianity. Instead, Flynn’s show, aggressively and shamelessly marketed by Clay Clark, is packed with conspiracy theories and misinformation interlaced with enough revivalist-style Evangelicalism to cloak the whole thing in a patina of Christianity. The Christian revivalist star of my youth, Rev. Billy Graham, would be turning over in his grave were he faced with what Flynn and Clark are selling. 

The ReAwaken America poster hints that any one or several of roughly sixty right wing personalities might speak at Flynn’s tour, including Mike Lindell, Senator Josh Hawley, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Roger Stone. Regardless, the KXLY coverage noted only three: Clay Clark, the shameless promoter of the Tour; the Trump-pardoned, QAnon-endorsing felon, Michael Flynn; and “Dr.” Stella Immanuel. Dr. Stella blends promotion of her Bethel Revival Ranch in Texas, fringe ideas about treating a variety of illnesses, her career as the pastor and founder of Fire Power Ministries, and lectures on Deliverance From Spirit Husbands and Spirit Wives (Incubus and Succubus)with her preaching to the Flynn Faithful on these ReAwaken Tours. Evidently, holding an M.D. from the University of Calabar, Nigeria, offers no guarantee that the holder understands or respects the science of medicine. 

It is impossible to overstate the fear-mongering and division, the Us (the “Christian” forces of good) v. them (everyone else) narrative Flynn and Clark are peddling. Billy Graham preached unity and Christian charity. Flynn and Clark and company base their show in an imaginary struggle between what they peddle as the “The Great Awakening” and “The Great Reset,” “The Great Awakening” obviously harkins to the Christian “revivals” of the last several centuries. “The Great Reset” is easy to breeze by without understanding the fantasy it masks. “The Great Reset” is a conspiracy narrative integral to Flynn’s and Clark’s message. Its content shines light on the reason Flynn’s Tour attracts so many of a certain “Evangelical” type the like of Matt Shea, Rob Chase, and Bob McCaslin. The Great Reset conspiracy theory bounces off of genuine plan discussed at the World Economic Forum for economic recovery following the pandemic. The conspiracy version claims this group of world leaders orchestrated the Covid-19 pandemic to take control of the global economy. “The Great Reset” is a direct descendant of “The New World Order” conspiracy pushed from Evangelical pulpits based on the book written by Pat Robertson, the Southern Baptist preacher and one time Presidential candidate, that was published in 1991. Robertson claimed “that the rise of this one-world conspiracy is being guided by Satan to fulfill the predictions of premillennial Christian eschatology, viewing it [the supposed existence of the New World Order] as a sign that the end times are nearing.” All this is just a short distance from narratives like the Rothschild Conspiracy, the late 19th and early 20th century idea that the Jewish Rothschild family controls our lives through the world’s banking system, an idea that, in part, animated the Holocaust. It should be no surprise that Clay Clark’s “Great ReAwakening” poster associates photos of George Soros (a man of Jewish descent) and Yuval Noah Harari (an Israeli intellectual) with the “Great Reset” conspiracy. 

Being sucked into Flynn’s and Clark’s quagmire of conspiracy requires only the time and gullibility to passively listen to internet videos presenting talking heads who hold forth as the trustworthy experts who must know far more of the details than you, the viewer. (After all, they’re presented with glamorous backdrops, just like Fox News.) Each video links to the next in a chain leading down the rabbit hole, reading not required, ignorance rewarded, critical thinking and inquiry actively discouraged. 

One of my readers shared an email they received in response to a texted inquiry about tickets for the Post Falls show. I copied and pasted it below. I urge you to peruse the linked offerings and briefly check out one or a few of the linked videos to get a flavor of the offered fare. Flynn, Clark, and company are making money by aggressively marketing and selling mind rot conspiracy theories cloaked in the rhetoric of a “Christianity” I do not recognize. 

That these are the people that local Republicans approve of and (at the very least) dare not offend ought to make to make every voter examine carefully the allegiances of every Republican on the ballot this fall. There is mind rot on display here that ought not be dismissed. 

Keep to the high ground,


September 14 Email Response from the ReAwaken American boiler-room in response to a texted inquiry about tickets for the Post Falls Flynn “Tour”:

Hey Boss,

Thank you for requesting a ticket to General Flynn’s ReAwaken America Tour!

11 URGENT Updates:

  1. Watch the ReAwaken America Tour Documentary featuring General Flynn, Mike Lindell, Mel K, etc. for FREE at https://timetofreeamerica.com/watch-the-reawakening-documentary/
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  3. Ticket requests are flying in!!! A member of our teaming will be calling you ASAP, however you can text 918-851-0102 for FASTER service.
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An Open Letter to Mayor Woodward

A perspective the Mayor needs but appears unwilling to accept

THIS is the kind of Christianity with which I grew up. What follows is an open letter written by Maurice Smith, a man who has worked among the homeless and marginalized of Spokane for the past 15 years. (Read his bio here at the bottom of the About page.) It was posted on Monday, September 19, 2022. It is long. It is wordy. It is sermonic—as it ought to be coming from a man who is an honors graduate of the Denver Seminary. It is a fitting condemnation of local media’s “journalism by Press Release” and the policies of the Mayor’s office. I have read and followed with dismay biased media accounts and/or nasty, uninformed social media discussion of every incident Mr. Smith brings up in his letter. 

To help get beyond “Press Release journalism” I recommend you send an email to Dan Simonson at  dsimonson@mac.com  and ask to be added to a list serve email he manages. It comes with the Subject line “[ShelterSpokane] In The News…” Mr. Simonson aggregates news stories from widespread sources as well as occasional posts from people like Maurice Smith who offer their unique, on-the-ground experience.

Please read Maurice Smith’s open letter to Mayor Woodward copied below, share it widely, and

Keep to the high ground,

To: Mr. Johnnie Perkins
Adminisrator, City of Spokane

Nadine Woodward

Mayor, City of Spokane

Mr. Perkins and Madame Mayor,

Another Incident
As I am sure you are now aware, on Thursday, September 15th, a Dodge Caravan belonging to the City of Spokane Water Department (license plate XMT39245D) visited a private home next to Camp Hope where a City employee disconnected a water hose that was supplying water to the Camp. This individual also proceeded to take two of the hoses that had been connected to the water supply, effectively stealing private property. A police report for the theft was filed (Incident Number 2022-20163829, taken by Officer Mead, Badge 1314). I would expect this kind of stupid behavior from a couple of “bored & beered-up” college sophomores, not City of Spokane employees. This incident represents the second effort by City of Spokane employees to cut off water to the Camp, the first being the visit of two uniformed SPD officers to the home supplying the water and asking the homeowner to please stop supplying water. This second time, the homeowner was livid that the City would come on her property, turn off water, and disconnect hoses without her permission or any legal authority to do so. Again, the City of Spokane should be ashamed of its behavior in these incidents. But there is a growing reason why such incidents are occurring ever more frequently.

A Growing Cancer
Over the past year, I have successfully fought off two rounds of cancer. While I’ll spare you the details, the aftereffects and scars left over from those two fights present me with daily reminders of how insidious, dangerous, and life-changing cancer can be, and how long-lasting those scars and aftereffects are. But now I and my community, beginning with the homeless community, are being confronted with one of the most insidious and dangerous cancers any individual or community can face. It is the cancer of anger and bigotry leveled toward those experiencing homelessness. It is the cancer of marginalization and dehumanization that declares 600(+) homeless individuals to be nothing more than “nuisances” to be “abated,” removed by whatever means might work, including cutting off their water supply.

The Wisdom of Simon & Garfunkel
Simon & Garfunkel famously sang “Fools,” said I, “You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows.” To remain silent about this growing cancer would be to acquiesce and allow it to grow unchecked and unopposed, eventually destroying the Shalom of our entire community and falsely placing the blame upon “those homeless nuisances.” The blame for this broken Shalom must fall on the doorstep of those who broke it: on the steps of City Hall. Dehumanize 600(+) individuals experiencing homeless by declaring them to be nothing more than public nuisances, then force them into the new prize shelter project that can’t accommodate more than 250 (when fully ramped up). Forget the impossible math of forcing 600(+) people into 250 beds. Forget individual stories of people trying to work their way out of homelessness. Forget the vulnerable elderly and disabled in the Camp who have NOWHERE to go. Forget the terminally ill cancer patients who live there because they have no other options. Forget basic human compassion and simply label everyone on that city block as drug addicted, mentally ill, criminal derelicts, and “nuisances” to be “abated.” Forget that “How we see people is the beginning of how we treat people.” Forget that this spreading cancer threatens the Shalom of our entire community, not just Camp Hope.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows.”

This Cancer Is Metastasizing Spreading
This spreading cancer is metastasizing to the larger community. Two weeks ago we had an incident at the Camp when an individual from Idaho showed up ostensibly to help a camp resident retrieve a stolen laptop. This vigilante from outside the Camp came armed with a GoPro video camera and A SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOL SIDEARM! I confronted him and told him he could not be on Camp property wearing a sidearm, and if he wanted to remain on the property he would need to secure the weapon in his car. He tried to argue with me about his Second Amendment rights. I politely but firmly told him I didn’t care, and that he either had to leave or remove the weapon. He reluctantly complied and a more serious confrontation was averted. I reported the incident to the SPD officer assigned to watch the Camp, but the officer (whose name I’m withholding) said, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” Right. A local news outlet later ran a story about the stolen property and the laptop at the Camp and was given the GoPro footage. But no mention in the story about an armed vigilante, only rampant property crime and a stolen laptop that was recovered later that day off Camp property.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows.”

It Is Spreading To Local Media
This cancer of anger, bigotry, marginalization, and dehumanization leveled toward those experiencing homelessness is metastasizing and spreading, even into the local media. People who should know better and should be discerning are now manifesting the symptoms of this disease. A local news outlet recently ran a story describing the Camp as “worse than Lord of the Flies” and featuring an anonymous interview with someone describing alleged incidents of rape and “branding” in the Camp. No such incident was ever reported to Camp managers (I’m one of the managers and am in the Camp daily) or to the police (who will tell you that there’s nothing they can do without a police report being filed). As Julie Garcia, the founder of Jewels Helping Hands, is a rape survivor herself, we take such accusations VERY seriously. The day after the story aired (without ANY requested input from Jewels Helping Hands), we scoured the Camp, asking residents for ANY information they might have regarding the alleged rape incident. The result? Neither a victim nor a perpetrator, nor a time, nor a location, could be identified. Only unsubstantiated rumor that gets reported as “news.” And the “branding” incident? We found the individual involved, who confessed that he had been involved in a drug deal gone bad, and the “branding” was the consequence (that doesn’t make it good or right, just very painful). He wouldn’t say if the incident occurred on Camp property or elsewhere. But, yes, he was the victim of a pissed-off drug dealer. Being stupid has consequences, whether in a homeless camp or anywhere else life takes you. Lesson learned . . . hopefully.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows.”

An Abnormal Atmosphere
Under any normal conditions, journalistic integrity would have rejected both of the above stories as nothing more than anonymous and unsubstantiated accusations. But this spreading cancer has created an environment where stories that should have been scrutinized and rejected as anonymous rumors and gossip become believable and printable stories. By publishing them, news outlets become a megaphone and a vehicle for spreading this cancer into our larger community; this cancer of anger, bigotry, rumor, gossip, marginalization, and dehumanization leveled toward those experiencing homelessness who have no way to defend themselves and no voice with which to tell their stories. As a result, don’t waste time wondering why the residents of the West Hills Neighborhood (or ANY neighborhood, for that matter) don’t want a shelter or transitional housing facility filled with those “nuisances” in their neighborhood. The cancer this Administration has created and fostered has spread and metastasized into the very neighborhoods the City needs for any homeless plan to succeed.

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows.”

A Financial Cancer
This spreading cancer has financial implications. A story published by a local news outlet declared, “Camp Hope Costs Taxpayers Hundreds of Thousands, City Files Nuisance Order.” That’s right. Those homeless people are a nuisance that’s costing Spokane big money. According to the story, the City of Spokane has spent more than $400,000 on garbage dumpsters and police overtime. Here’s what’s missing from the story. How does that expense (if accurate) compare with the more than $400,000 the City of Spokane overpaid for two weeks of operating a warming center at the Convention Center? That would be $200,000 per week at the Convention Center, compared with providing sanitation services at Camp Hope for more than 24 weeks, at a per week cost of less than $17,000. In comparison, the City has gotten one hell of a good deal for their expenses at Camp Hope but got royally ripped off at the Convention Center. Why was such a per week waste a justifiable expense at the Convention Center, but a per week cost of less than 1/10th (actually 8.5%) of that expense a terrible thing at Camp Hope? Answer: This spreading and metastasizing cancer can’t do math, or re-interprets math to support the narrative of “nuisances,” people who aren’t worth the cost or effort of keeping them safe. And the City wants to be reimbursed for having to waste money on those “nuisances.”

“Fools,” said I, “You do not know, Silence like a cancer grows.”

“She’s Going To Be Okay, Mom”
Last Sunday, the 11th, I was picking up garbage on the perimeter of Camp Hope when a woman approached me. She told me her daughter (whom I met later) is in the Camp and has been homeless for a year. She lives two hours away and had driven to Spokane to check on her daughter. As we talked she began to weep. I held her as she sobbed, trying to comfort her saying, “She’s going to be okay, mom. She’s going to be okay.” Perhaps what I should have told this distraught mother was the cancerous truth: “Your daughter’s going to be okay as long as some fool from the City doesn’t cut off our water supply. She’ll be okay as long as the City doesn’t fine us for helping her, or the Mayor doesn’t have her declared a nuisance and swept off this property with nowhere to go.”  Let me know which truth I should be sharing with the moms, dads, and families that come to the Camp, concerned for the well-being of their loved ones and hearing from local media that they are all about to be swept off the property by a City that regards their loved ones as nothing more than “nuisances.”

“Fools” said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Paul Simon
The Sound of Silence lyrics © Paul Simon Music, Sony/ATV Songs LLC

Yours for Restoring the Broken Shalom of Our Community,

Maurice Smith

Executive Producer

Preview of New Documentary, “Camp Hope 2.0”


The Night of the Unsheltered Homeless

The Least of These

The Hidden Homeless (SpIFF Version) [Official Selection 2020 Spokane International Film Festival]

Documentary YouTube Channel


“We can’t change what we don’t love;

We can’t love what we don’t know;

And we can’t know 

what we’re unwilling to invest

with our time, our efforts, and

our resources.”

CMR. Who is She Really?

Background and Mindset

So who is Cathy McMorris Rodgers really? Her background speaks volumes. 

Most of what follows is based on her Wikipedia article and an article on her life that appeared in the Spokesman in 2004. Cathy McMorris was born May 22, 1969 in Salem, Oregon. In 1974 when Cathy was five her parents and young brother moved to an off-grid farm in Hazleton (pop. 305), British Columbia, not far from Alaska. She was taught in a two-room schoolhouse. Just seven years later when Cathy was twelve they moved again, this time to Quesnel, B.C. (pop. 10,000) 350 miles SE, so her father could take a job as the principal of a private Christian school. That lasted three years. 

Cathy was a fifteen year old high school junior in 1984 when they moved to an orchard near Kettle Falls where she worked at the family’s fruit stand. Cathy and her brother attended the Columbia River Christian Academy, a school established in 1973 by people looking for a way to school their children in their brand of Christian worldview. Her father taught the younger grades at the same school. He served as chairman of the Stevens County Republican Party. They attended a “non-denominational evangelical Christian church”. 

Ms McMorris went off to the “Pensacola Christian College” in Florida. The wikipedia article notes that at the time she attended the College it was not accredited. It is identified as an “Independent Baptist liberal arts college.” The Independent Baptist churches are also referred to as Independent Fundamental Baptist or IFB. A Pew Research Center 2014 survey found that members of Independent Baptist churches comprised a mere 2.5% of the adult U.S. population. The Pensacola Christian College was finally accredited in 2013 by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. Ms. McMorris graduated in 1990 with a degree identified as Pre-law.

I invite you to the Wikipedia article on the Pensacola Christian College to comprehend the narrowness of the experience. This is NOT a place where a student is exposed to wide ranging ideas. 

In 1990 Ms McMorris went straight from college to managing the campaign of Bob Morton in his run for the Washington House of Representatives from the 7th Legislative District (NE corner of WA). When he was elected and then took office in 1991 she became his legislative assistant. When Morton was appointed to the LD7 Senate seat, Ms. McMorris was appointed to fill the LD7 Rep seat that Morton had held. Ms. McMorris was all of twenty five years old at the time. 

During her time in Olympia she pursued an “Executive MBA” from the University of WA starting in 1993 and graduating in 2002. According to Wikipedia: “Executive MBA (EMBA) programs developed to meet the educational needs of managers and executives, allowing students to earn an MBA (or another business-related graduate degree) in two years or less while working full-time.” 

Serving for LD7 she never faced serious opposition for her State Rep seat. Eastern Washington U.S. Representative George Nethercutt gave McMorris the nod in 2004 when he vacated the U.S. House CD5 seat to run for Senate, a race he lost. She bested Don Barbieri that year for the seat, winning with nearly 60% of the vote. Peter Goldmark in 2006 whittled her down to 56.5%, the lowest percentage with which she has won in a general election. 

If, as George Layoff points out in “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, people develop frames around issues that cause facts to bounce off, Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ frame, based on her education and upbringing, must be particularly impervious. She has been steeped in Independent Fundamental Baptist Christianity. From a fundamentalist childhood and education she shot directly into politics. There was no pause to examine her place in the world. Her frame provides rigid certainty with no need to consider other points of view. Empathy, the ability to imagine oneself in another’s shoes, is not likely to be her long suit.

It is not my intent to paint Ms. McMorris Rodgers as evil. She does not go to the mirror every morning and ask herself, “What nasty, awful thing should I work on today.” She does, however, go to that mirror with the mind frame of absolute certainty conditioned by the narrowest of narrow religious upbringings, carefully shielded even from broader Christian thought. She goes to that mirror having spent her entire adult life in Olympia or D.C. and with almost no broader life experience. 

We need a Representative with a broader understanding of the world and how it works. This November is time for McMorris Rodgers to be retired by the voters.

Keep to the high ground,


How Far Will They Go?

The consequences of the belief that “life begins at conception”

How many times has Cathy McMorris Rodgers (U.S. Rep. from eastern Washington, CD5) sworn in public and in private that she believes and will vote in accordance with her belief that “life begins at conception”? Her brand of Fundamentalist Christianity demands that as an article of faith. Every Republican on the general election ballots in eastern Washington this November has at some point declared the same thing. (Some few have cleverly dodged the question by claiming that making laws restricting women’s freedom to make medical decisions about their own bodies isn’t a local issue—but now, post Dobbs, it is an issue at all levels of government.)

“Life begins at conception” is an article of faith to which every Republican candidate attests to energize their base voters. The controversy over abortion has been the linchpin of the Republican-generated culture wars for half a century. During those fifty years, women—and men who respect women’s intelligence and autonomy—could still vote Republican (or not vote) knowing they were safely shielded from the logical consequences of the doctrine that “life begins at conception” by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade(1973). Under the protection Roe offered, rooted in a right to privacy, a right recently gutted by the Republican-packed Supreme Court, the consequences of the doctrine “life begins at conception” could fester away in Republican dogma without the broader electorate needing to pay much attention. 

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Almost no woman under the age of sixty in this country today has personally experienced a society in which women are not trusted to privately make the most personal medical decisions a woman ever faces. Every mother and grandmother—and every father and grandfather who respects women’s intelligence—everyone who remembers the era before Roe v. Wade needs to share their stories with their children and grandchildren and exhort them to vote in November to keep us from returning to the pre-Roe era. 

Here’s one of mine. My very first steady girlfriend Marianne and I broke off our relationship not long before I left Wisconsin to go to college in 1968. Years later she told me this remarkable story: Marianne, it turned out (to my surprise), did not have the benefit of the detailed “birds and bees” talk from her parents that I had from mine. After we broke off our relationship she got mixed up with an older bus driver on whose bus she rode daily in Milwaukee. She (they?) succumbed to the hormones coursing through the veins of a teenager, and, to her surprise and dismay, she became pregnant. Once she realized what had happened—and once it was clear that the sperm contributor to the conceptus would take zero responsibility—she faced a United States in which abortion was illegal and illegal abortion was potentially deadly. Her parents’ finances were limited—but obtaining a safe abortion was essential to her and her parents, who by this time fervently regretted that their daughter had not received more explicit sex education. They offered to cover the bill for an odyssey that makes crossing a state line to obtain an abortion seem tame. Marianne, 19 years old and alone, flew from Milwaukee to Tokyo, Japan. In Japan suction abortion was (and is) legal, safe, and widely available. In Tokyo, in a country where she could neither read or speak the language, she obtained an uncomplicated abortion. This was no medical “holiday”. There was neither time, money, nor the will to go sight-seeing. Marianne was back in Milwaukee in what felt like a whirlwind, she and her parents safely relieved of a totally unwanted pregnancy—and what must have been thousands of dollars (in today’s dollars). 

One doesn’t need to look back any further than the sixties to glimpse an American legal and social structure in which women were seen as second-class participants whose reproductive decisions were made for them by hospital medical boards and paternalistic physicians. A friend of mine, Jane Bowen, the widow of Dr. Channing Bowen, a prominent pediatric cardiologist in Spokane, is now almost ninety-seven years old and sharp as a tack. At my considerable urging she recounted to me her personal experience of the patriarchal culture to which the “life begins at conception” Republican political candidates would like to see us return. 

After giving birth to four girls in seven years (1953 to 1959), Jane, then in her mid-thirties, sought a sure method of preventing further pregnancy. She requested a tubal ligation of her obstetrician/gynecologist. He refused as a matter of course. Jane was told by Dr. Tom Gilpatrick, a family friend, that there existed an unpublished formula among the OB/GYN doctors, a formula that considered age and number of babies already birthed, a formula that had to be met before an OB/GYN would consent to performing a tubal ligation. Caring for four young girls at age 35 wasn’t enough, according to the patriarchal standards of the time, just the sort of thing that would resonate with Tucker Carlson and the folks who listen to him spout about “replacement” by being out-bred. Jane, even with the agreement of her physician husband, would not be permitted to have a tubal ligation. She would have to rely on something else (abstinence in the context of marriage?) in a time when abortion was illegal and contraception was neither as effective nor as widely available—even for married couples—as it is today. 

For Ms. Bowen, this experience of bald-faced patriarchy spurred her to become one of the instigators of the new Planned Parenthood Clinic in Spokane—originally intended to help make contraception, sex education, and women’s health care more widely available. (Locally, abortion services weren’t offered by Planned Parenthood until the early 1990s when I was on the board, by which time persistent harassment by extremists had succeeded in limiting community availability of legal abortion under Roe.)

In the post-Roe world a vote cast for any “life begins at conception” Republican—which is all of the local Republican candidates—risks an eventual return to the patriarchal society that existed before Roe. Assemble your stories and tell your children and grandchildren what it was like. See to it that they register and understand the importance of their vote this November.

Keep to the high ground,