New Phase. G.O.T.V.! Huh?

Dear Group,

The Trump minority election was a wake-up call. We have shown up at marches and protests, the Women’s March, the March for Science, the protests over family separation. Many of us have taken a new interest in the people who represent (or pretend to represent) us in Washington, D.C., Olympia, and our local city and county offices. We spent a little time to orient ourselves in the political landscape. We understand the folks who claim to represent us in public office need to earn our deference, not assume it. Election alone does not justify an official as possessing special knowledge or even as being especially qualified for the role assumed. They are people more or less like the rest of us, people with backgrounds, education, values, and beliefs that bear on who they are and how they function. We understand physical stature and team labelling are not a substitute for in-depth understanding and ability to listen and to integrate what is heard.

Many of you have signed up as volunteers for one or several causes and political campaigns. Many of you have volunteered with Lisa Brown’s campaign to unseat McMorris Rodgers. Many of you have engaged in post card writing and phone banking. Some of you have swallowed hard, gone canvassing, and learned you can knock on doors. You have learned it is fun, rewarding, and educational to have a conversation with the people who answer those doors. 

Now we are entering that season when the rubber meet the road. Ballots for the Primary election in Washington State will appear in mailboxes late this week. The deadline for turning them in is Tuesday, August 7th. The number of ballots turned in for the Primaries are going to send a powerful message. Are the voters paying new attention to the local scene? Engagement in the political process, paying attention to the candidates on the ballot, orienting oneself in the political landscape, and keeping up the buzz have never been more important. 

The effort moves into a new phase: “G.O.T.V.” Huh? I had to ask… It means “Get Out the Vote.” Not only are those letters confusing alphabet soup, but in Washington State, with our mail-in or drop-off ballots, they don’t even accurately describe the process. 

This Wednesday evening, July 18th, from 6-8PM at Lisa Brown’s field office (1507 E Sprague Ave, Spokane, WA 99202) join us for “Spokane G.O.T.V. canvassing training.” Sign up here: https://secure.ngpvan.com/J9ZkdtwFqEmCwE4lJ9R4Kg2. Come on down. Join the effort. Meet nice people. See what you can do to help. 

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry

P.S. A joke on me: Anyone who has lived in Spokane for decades like I have has a slightly seedy image pop up in response to the words “east Sprague.” It is time for a mind frame reset. The street and traffic have been pleasantly re-arranged and store fronts re-vamped. It’s a welcoming place to visit. In fact, for me, one of the great things about this whole political experience I’ve had is that I have gotten out in my home town and reset a lot of old mental images. The mental image associated with east Sprague is one of them.

CMR and “Hearing Protection”

Dear Group,

On May 29th at Green Bluff McMorris Rodgers assured us, “I’m definitely going to take a look again.” She also said, “…with everything going on I tend to think that this is…that now is not the right time.” She was answering a question about her co-sponsorship of H.R. 367, The Hearing Protection Act, a bill that should be named the “Gun Muffler and Silencer De-Regulation Act of 2017,” (if truth in advertising were required of legislation). H.R. 367’s sole purpose is to repeal the part of the National Firearms Act of 1934 that regulates gun silencers. I quoted the Green Bluff encounter and covered the background in CMR’s Devotion to NRA Messaging.

I marked my calendar. Six weeks have passed. McMorris Rodgers is still a co-sponsor. She signed on as a co-sponsor March 27, 2017. She must think the name of the bill gives her enough cover so folks will assume this is a medical issue, not a gun issue. Has she “looked,” as she promised? We cannot know. If she didn’t, then she simply blew us off. If she did look, she must have calculated her NRA base, people who know exactly what this bill does, is paying more attention than the rest of us will. She hides behind the benign, Orwellian bill name: The Hearing Protection Act.

She is happy to make weapons of war potentially more deadly by deregulating silencers at the same time she is offering “thoughts and prayers,” talking about making schools into armed camps, and suggesting students need to be more proactive in reporting odd behavior among fellow students.

This is the same woman who voted for the H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, another NRA darling bill, which would allow people from less regulated states (like Idaho) to carry a concealed weapon on the streets of Spokane. (See CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”)

She even uttered a few sentences about federally outlawing “bump stocks,” the assault rifle add-ons that increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon to nearly that of a machine gun. Has anything come of her comments? Not a thing. McMorris Rodgers and the NRA are persistent, they assume we’ve moved on, that we’ve forgotten.

McMorris Rodgers is the same woman whose Spokane County Republican Chairwoman, Stephanie Cate, promised the Spokesman the Republicans would not auction off an “AR-15” at their Lincoln Day fundraiser on June 2nd at which McMorris Rodgers spoke (along with Jason Chaffetz). Then they auction off an AR-15 knockoff assault rifle anyway. McMorris Rodgers didn’t blink…and the local media ignored it. (See CMR and the Clandestine Assault Rifle Auction)

Apparently, the status quo of assault weapon ownership and minimalist regulation in the United States isn’t enough for McMorris Rodgers. She is actively working to make firearms more prevalent, available, and less easy to detect in a crisis situation. 

Like me, Lisa Brown grew up in Mid-western gun culture. It is time to elect a Representative with an open mind, who understands guns are part of our culture, but also won’t lie to us with legislation like “The Hearing Protection Act.” Lisa Brown will offer common sense around this issue…and many other issues. Remember that as you mark your ballot for August 7 and November 6. 

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry

P.S. McMorris Rodgers has often championed “States’ Rights.” Take not H.R. 367 is written to pre-empt all state regulation around silencers. I guess states rights must be limited when it comes to gun regulation…

Primaries Coming! Civics Info

Dear Group,

Just one month, four weeks, from today we’ll be hearing the early results of the Washington State Primary Elections. The deadline to turn in your ballot is August 7th. Ballots will come out in the mail in the next couple weeks. Watch for them. Alert your friends and neighbors. Do your homework.

Before I dive into the election weeds, here are two take home messages to internalize and talk up:

1) Little known fact: A properly turned in ballot is counted even if the voter casts a vote in just one of the contests. Spread the word. It is good and laudable to become informed about every race, but don’t let that daunting task keep you from casting a ballot in those races with which you are familiar. Don’t let procrastination, denial, or fear of homework rob you of your only voice over how you are governed.

2) This year for the first time in Washington State you can mail in your ballot without searching for a stamp! Gone are the excuses: “I can’t find a stamp. I don’t use mail anymore and I can’t make it to one of the ballot drop offs.” Without a stamp you can just put your filled out ballot in your home mailbox for the mailperson and it will get counted! 

Every vote might count. A vote not cast is a voice wasted. Do not listen to the polls and then not vote because you’re either discouraged or over-confident. Polls can become self-fulfilling prophecy—and prophecy is false comfort. The control of the government of the state of Virginia rested on a coin toss last fall. Never forget that. Elections are very close more often than you might think. There will be come real squeakers this year as Democratic enthusiasm bumps into Republican money.

A Republican/Libertarian election tool is discouragement: “They’re all the same. Nothing will ever change. My vote doesn’t count. Why bother?” Don’t succumb to it. 

So why is primary election participation important?

The rate of ballot turn-in for the midterm election (i.e. the election in the middle of the presidential four year term) is low and getting lower. In Spokane County the percentage of registered voters who actually turned in a ballot were 43 in 2010, and 35 in 3014. The midterm general election turn-in percentages were 71 in 2010 and 56 in 2014. not exactly stellar either. (Take note 2010 was the year of the Fox News, Koch brother stoked Tea Party “wave” election and it still generated a primary ballot turn in rate of only 43%.)

In Washington State low primary ballot turn-in can have dire consequences. We have the same primary system as California. The two top vote getters, regardless of their political party, go on to the general election. (The national news media referred to this as a “jungle” primary in California and seemed only vaguely aware we have the same system in Washington State.) Thirty-five percent voter participation (as in 2014) means a minority of a minority picks the second candidate to be elevated to the general election. If you don’t vote in the primaries you cannot complain if candidates you’re faced with in November both make you gag. 

So here’s the start of your homework: Go to MyVote.wa.gov. Click the Voter’s Guide. Based on your name and birthday it connects you with those candidates for whom you get to cast a ballot based on your voting address of record. Search for Maria Cantwell’s name among the roughly twenty-primary candidates running for the 6 year term in the U.S. Senate in which she is the incumbent. Yikes! (Hint: it’s seventh from the top.) Note the incumbents are NOT labelled as such. If you want to keep your incumbent you’re going to need to know who they are. Click on the names for a short bio and statement on each of the candidates. 

Being the mobile society we are many of your social contacts (at work, for example) might well be voting on different candidates than those in your home districts. That’s particularly true of State legislative districts and county officials. Many of these areas overlap and slice and dice the map differently. Visit the “References” section below for links to interactive maps that can help you out with some of that. 

I will try in the next week or so to offer my impressions of some of the candidates I’ve met.

Remember today’s take-home: 1) You don’t need a stamp to mail in your ballot and 2) You don’t have to cast a vote in every contest for your other votes to be counted. 

Then start doing your homework! 🙂 Talk to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers about what you find.

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry

Worldview II, CMR’s Climate Change Myopia

Dear Group,

Yesterday I presented a transcript of an exchange between McMorris Rodgers and a geologist at Green Bluff on May 29th. I wish to highlight one part of that exchange:

CMR: Well, you look at the history of the world…and we’ve been through…we’ve been through times when the earth warmed and then also we’ve been through times when the Earth…there’s been more ice on…in the world. So look at the history of the world and there’s been some changes in the climate. Now…the human contribution to that?

Geologist: …I’m a geologist. I know all about global scale warming going back 4.5 billion years ago, but we’re arguing about something that has happened in the last sixty years and it’s incontrovertible that…

These words ring in my ears: CMR: “we’ve been through times when the earth warmed and then also we’ve been through times when the Earth…there’s been more ice on…in the world.”

I have no doubt McMorris Rodgers believes sincerely the doubts she expresses. My question is this: what is the worldview from which she makes her statement? From what background does she approach the evidence of climate science?

We have some clues. (See CMR–Who is She Really?) Prior to high school she attended a series of Christian schools. At age fifteen her family moved from remote British Columbia to a farm near Kettle Falls. There her education continued at the Columbia River Christian Academy, part of the Columbia River Bible Church. The “Statement of Faith” at their website states:

We believe that God created the universe in six literal, 24 hour periods. We reject evolution, the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and Theistic Evolution as unscriptural theories of origin (Genesis 1-2; Ex. 20:11).

McMorris Rodgers went on to study at the Pensacola Christian College in 1986. Pensacola Christian is an “Independent Baptist liberal arts college.” Amid the gleaming modernity depicted on Pensacola Christian’s website is a document entitled “Articles of Faith.” Among those articles is the following:

We believe that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days, and that God created all life (Gen. 1). We reject the man-made theory of evolution occurring over millions of years and believe that the earth is approximately 6,000 years old.

A “young earth” literally created in six days about 6000 years ago are precepts of McMorris Rodgers’ entire formal education through college. (The age of the earth is probably not a topic of concern in her lengthy pursuit of an Executive MBA.)

The time frame lighting up in McMorris Rodgers mind when she refers to the “history of the world” in her Green Bluff exchange with the geologist is very short. It is likely an earth history contained in six millennia. In the audio you can almost hear her straining to acknowledge there actually have been times when “there’s been more ice.” Can she let herself even hear, much less comprehend, the idea of an earth 4.5 billion years old? 

Here’s the crux: All credible scientists understand the earth’s climate has changed over geologic time. Ice cores allow us to track those changes over hundreds of thousands of years. The present concern with global warming is expressed by the geologist when he says, “we’re arguing about something that has happened in the last sixty years.” It is not the fact of change, it is the rate of change driven by man’s release of greenhouse gases that should be ringing alarm bells. 

If McMorris Rodgers believes the earth is 6000 years old or has never grappled with the concept of geologic time, any warming or cooling she is willing to acknowledge has to have happened in a really, really short time period.. Sixty years to a young earth believer is a long period of time. To a geologist it is less than a blink. McMorris Rodgers is educationally and doctrinally ill-equipped to comprehend how the rate of change is a concern.

I believe that Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a sincere, good person who means well, is a good mother, who feels she is working hard, and who tries to do what she believes is right. She is socially pleasant. However, until she clearly demonstrates otherwise, we have every reason to conclude her very narrow education and all the hints we have of her worldview prevent her from intelligently assessing and responding to climate disruption.

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry

CMR on Climate Change/Global Warming

Dear Group,

Last week Scott Pruitt finally resigned, spinning is a swirl of scandal. His letter of resignation was replete with references to blessings, prayers, and “God’s providence.” Trump and Pruitt exchanged words of mutual admiration. Andrew Wheeler, another avowed foe of climate science, but better schooled (with his background as a coal lobbyist) in the nuances of swamp culture, will faithfully continue Pruitt’s climate science dismissal but do so with less fanfare. 

What is McMorris Rodgers’ stance on climate science and global warming, and how does her background and education inform that stance? 

If you have ever listened to McMorris Rodgers speak on the environment, you know she has a standard response to any question about global warming: She pivots immediately to her support for dams and clean hydropower. She strictly avoids any discussion of the science. Below is a transcription of an exchange between McMorris Rodgers and a questioner, a geologist, at Green Bluff on May 29:

Questioner: Could you share with us your personal views and opinions about global warming and climate change?

CMR: Ah, Ah.

Questioner: [interjecting] Personal views.

CMR: I believe in being a good steward. I believe that each one of us should do our part to make sure that we are leaving a better Earth to the next generation. Um, ah…we certainly all agree that we want clean air, clean water. I’m proud of in Eastern Washington that we have some the…we have clean renewable hydropower and I’ve been one of the strongest proponents of…ah…hydropower. Um…I think we really need to look closer as far as the science behind global warming…and…ah, what’s going on.

Questioner: But 97% of credentialed scientists agree that humankind is contributing to global warming are you siding with the 97% or the 3%?

CMR: Well, you look at the history of the world…and we’ve been through…we’ve been through times when the earth warmed and then also we’ve been through times when the Earth…there’s been more ice on…in the world. So look at the history of the world and there’s been some changes in the climate. Now…the human contribution to that? I agree that, as humans, I want to make sure we are being good stewards and that we’re, ya know, being wise and, ah, taking action..

Questioner: So you’re taking a pass on this, aren’t you? Thank you.

CMR: I think, ah, I dunno…what do you think we should do?

Questioner: Well, look, I’m a geologist. I know all about global scale warming going back 4.5 billion years ago, but we’re arguing about something that has happened in the last sixty years and it’s incontrovertible that…

CMR Interrupting: So what do you think we can do about it? I guess that’s my question. What do you think we should do?

Questioner: Agree with the Paris Accord. That’s is a good start.

CMR: And what would the Paris Accord actually gotten us?

Questioner: What has it gotten? Well, without the U.S. as a global sponsor for this it’s going to flounder. Luckily the French and the Europeans and others are reasonably active and every time they have an opportunity talk to a a government official they prod, they question, they say that the one thing which could be done by President Trump would be to honor the finding from the Paris Accord dating back three or four years ago. It doesn’t take a lot. In fact it is probably happening on the sidelines and there’s no official announcement this is the case.

CMR: My understanding of this is that it would have…we were talking about very little impact as far as, you know, changing the course that we’re on but a huge economic impact on America. That America would have been shouldering a lot of the cost as well as the impact of the limitations of the, of the [voice lowering and unintelligible]. So that’s my concern. We need to focus on results…with any regulation. We need to focus on results, we actually need to focus on what’s actually going to make a difference, not just empower a federal agency or government official to be able to dictate how you, how you live…or…how you, you know…

Another Voice: So what’s our government doing to get those results?

CMR: Well…ah…we need to change the way that we approach regulation…where it’s actually focusing on the result…result…not just…

The gist: clean hydropower, “stewardship,” doubt, and even a pivot to the supposed evils of regulation. Does she possess the education, the worldview that could allow her to understand even the basic evidence for global warming? If she does, I see no evidence of it in this exchange, only talking points. It is an opaque subject for her. I believe her worldview prevents her from considering, much less understanding, the issue. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s email.

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry

CMR’s Worldview?

Dear Group,

“I think he’s a great President because he moved the embassy to Jerusalem.” That is the answer I got from friend and former neighbor whom I asked the reason she voted for and continues to support Donald Trump. 

“So why is that important to you?” I asked.

“Well, I’m a strong believer that the Bible is the word of God.”

“Where in the Bible does it say the U.S. Embassy needs to move to Jerusalem? I was brought up United Methodist,” I asked. “I’ve read the Bible twice and the Books of Revelation and Daniel several more times and I do not recall anything about the U.S. Embassy. Can you point me to the part of the Bible that suggests the importance of location of the U.S. Embassy in Israel?” 

She could not. Instead, she kindly forwarded to me a nicely presented trifold pamphlet entitled “The Revelation Prophecy Chart” from Turning Point Ministries, a radio and television ministry based at the Shadow Mountain Community Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, California

The brochure, written by Dr. David Jeremiah, the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain, laid out for me in great detail Dr. Jeremiah’s learned analysis of how the world will end based on the word of God as revealed to him in the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. The pamphlet starts with “The Rapture,” runs through “The End of False Religion,” Armageddon, and the “Collapse of the ‘World Market’,” This leads to the Second Coming of Christ and moves on to the “1000 year reign of Jesus Christ, a period of peace and righteousness [that will] last for a millennium.” In the minds of many, including my friend, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a necessary pre-requisite to the fulfillment of this prophecy. To many in this subgroup of Christianity the embassy move is an obvious sign Donald Trump is guided by Divine Providence, regardless of any moral failing he might otherwise exhibit.

This is not the Christianity in which I was brought up. We read the Bible for ourselves and wrestled with its words to find guidance for our lives. I personally strove to understand the Bible in its historical context, to compare its teachings and words with other sacred texts, to reconcile the Bible with my growing understanding of the world and all its complexity. To be sure, I found (and find) the Book of Revelation interesting, even intriguing, but the idea of staking my worldview on the meticulously detailed  interpretation of Revelation by Dr. David Jeremiah really worries me. Ringing in my ears are exhortations in the Bible against following “false prophets.”

How prevalent is this worldview that Donald Trump is the fulfillment of an end times prophecy? More than you might think, I’m afraid. It turns out that Dr. David Jeremiah, as the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain, is the successor of Tim LaHaye (1926-2016). Recognize that name? You might. Tim LaHaye wrote the “Left Behind” series of books between 1995 and 2007. According to  Time the series sold more than 42 million copies, not including spin-offs. Jerry Falwell described the effect of the series:  “In terms of its impact on Christianity,” says Falwell, “it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible.” The book started with The Rapture as a premise and carried on from there, that is, the books are works of future fiction based on Tim LaHaye’s interpretation of the Christian end times. What better way to capture the people’s imagination in the midst of all the millennial craziness?

Below read words of our Representative to Congress as quoted in an article in The Inlander (that I highly recommend). Remember that McMorris Rodgers received her undergraduate degree from the Pensacola Christian College, an independent Baptist institution unaccredited at the time. Among its Articles of Faith one finds: “We believe in the imminent, pre-Tribulation return of Jesus Christ for all believers. The Rapture of the saints will be followed by a seven-year Tribulation, after which Christ will return in glory to judge the world and set up His millennial reign on earth.” In light of her upbringing and my friend’s enthusiasm for the teachings of Dr. Jeremiah, I find McMorris Rodgers’ words a little jarring:

“President Trump has defended Christianity. He has defended religious freedom more than any other president,” McMorris Rodgers says. “He made the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”  

I’ve asked many friends over the last few weeks what significance they attach to the embassy move. Very few made any connection with Christian end times prophecy. A few even naively asked, “Is your friend Jewish?” In citing the embassy moving to Jerusalem is McMorris Rodgers speaking from a worldview like that of my friend?  When she remarks that her “positive disruptor,” Donald Trump, “...made the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem” is she lighting up a similar worldview in the minds of some of her listeners, a worldview of which many of her constituents, Christian or not, have little awareness? Is her viewpoint on national policy nurtured by her confidence in Christian end times prophecy? 

He has defended religious freedom more than any other president,” Really? Weren’t you free, Ms. McMorris Rodgers, to practice your particular brand of Christianity before Donald Trump? Do you suppose Muslims, Sikhs, and followers of other religious traditions in these United States feel like their religious freedom is defended by your “positive disruptor?” 

from their radio and television pulpits to broad audiences, including my friend, people who believe Dr. David Jeremiah, for example, offers them the one true interpretation of God’s Word. .

Then remember that the current U.S. Congressional District 5 Representative believes her Christian faith and worldview are defended by Donald Trump and his shift of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. 

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry

P.S. I urge you to take a short internet safari into the world of Christian end times prophecy. Listen to Dr. Jeremiah rail against the “New World Order” (as exemplified by the United Nations). Or listen to Dr. Jeremiah explain how the very existence of Israel at this time is proof the end times are near.

“Walk a Mile in Our Shoes”–CMR and Family Separation Policy

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers has issued a statement disagreeing with the practice of family separation. It is worth a read, particularly the last paragraph which says:

Again, I don’t believe in tearing families apart, but I also believe that people need to be coming to America legally, which is why I support increased border security efforts so families aren’t put in this situation. The new Goodlatte bill that I helped negotiate, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act, will fix this family separation problem and authorize funding for construction of the border wall, close enforcement loopholes, end catch and release, reform the legal immigration system, create a merit-based visa program, and provide the DACA population a bridge to the legal immigration system and earn legal status in our country.

Note what I have pointed out several times before: There is no mention of citizenship being offered to even the most innocent of the “DACA population” in this bill, only possibly renewable “legal status.” In exchange for that sop she wants to “reform” a legal immigration system that isn’t broken. She will happily tag along on the coattails of her “positive disruptor,” Donald Trump, as her excuse to ram it through. She does not “believe the government should separate children from parents,” but she is happy to use the Dreamers as hostages to further the Republican agenda while continuing to withhold from them any viable path to citizenship and voting.

McMorris Rodgers is complicit with Trump, Sessions, Miller and the lot of them as long as she is not directly, or though her staff, actively involved in re-uniting the 2300 families her government has torn apart. 

Keep to the high ground,

Jerry