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The call

I was cutting dadoes down in my shop when I felt the vibration in my breast pocket. Unidentified number so I went back to the table saw. When I got another shot of the cooling morning coffee I looked again and there was a voice mail. Before deleting, I looked at the Apple transcription.

“…consultant to the President…wish to speak…could you call us back...time sensitive.”


So, I listened to it before deleting it. This could be a real scam. I figured they wanted my Social Security number for sure. But no, despite the mumbling, I detected they knew me, and just wanted to talk. So, I called them back.

“Senator Schmidt?” they answered quickly.

“Just who are you?”

“I work for the President’s campaign team, and we wanted to visit with you about his healthcare plan.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“No, we really need some ideas, and we’ve used AI to find the folks with the best ideas and the algorithm came up with you. And there were some others. But I need your thoughts.”

I finished the dregs of the cool coffee. “What’s the big rush?”

“Well, you see, he made this big announcement that he was planning to replace the Affordable Care Act with something new and different, so we are reaching out. AI says you have not been fully supportive of the ACA in your writings. It strongly recommended your input.”

“Geez, Biden wants to replace the ACA? I hadn’t heard that.”

There was a long pause. “Oh no, not Biden. I am referring to The President. We all here refer to him as the Real President on the team.”

I laughed out loud. “So, Trump made this big promise with no ideas?”

“It wasn’t in the script. The President does that. He senses things and goes off script. We were all very unprepared. But we have very strong algorithms.”

“So, you call me. Heck, I’m cutting dadoes.”


I cut in “State Senator.”

“Be that as it may, we are looking for your best ideas.”

I brushed the dust off the table saw top. “You don’t need me for this. Just read the data, the polls. The United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world and we have the worst outcomes of any developed country. The younger voters strongly favor universal coverage. It’s just the old geezers like me with Medicare that oppose it, since we’ve already got it. If he wants the youth vote tell old carrot face to go full Bernie.”

There was a long pause, and I heard some noise.

“I could go on. Every state that expanded Medicaid, a small step toward universal coverage saw an economic bump. Here in Idaho, it was real and dramatic. Think what that would do to the Dow Jones if a President with some spine was able to push that through those old Republican fully insured Senators.”

I heard a voice I recognized say in the background, “Can’t we get somebody else? I like his spunk, but I can’t go full Bernie.”

“Hey,” I yelled. “Am I on speaker phone!”

“Um, yes, Senator, you are. The President has been listening in with his advisors.”

“Maybe you ought to say that up front, you know?”

“I apologize.”

I paused and they did too. But I jumped at the space.

“Mister President. I know Bernie isn’t your idea of a strong man. But health care coverage for everybody in this country is what’s holding us back in the world economy. We’re smarter and more hard working than the Germans but we spend twice as much as them on healthcare. Have some cojones. Admit we need to make this leap. Biden took the baby step on infrastructure and global warming. Show you have the manhood to address true healthcare reform.”

The line went dead. I went back to cutting dadoes.


Getting no love

One thing I learned from my five years at the Post Register in the 1980s was the love that people in Idaho Falls had for Republicans. Almost as much as the 4th of July.

Republicans in Eastern Idaho revolved around a common theme: Elect more Republicans. Publicly going after incumbents, and especially those in high offices, was akin to booing Santa Claus, or cooking the Easter bunny for Thanksgiving dinner.

But the dynamics have changed with Dorothy Moon, who was elevated to the state chairmanship after losing her bid for secretary of state. The party now operates under the “Republican Party Platform Enforcement Rule,” which was approved last summer. Scores on the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s “Freedom Index” are indicators of whether legislators deserve to carry the Republican banner. So, the county and city (Idaho Falls) that have long loved Republicans, are “investigating” the votes by all three legislators from District 32 – Reps. Wendy Horman, Stephanie Mickelsen and Sen. Kevin Cook. Complaints also have been filed against the legislators of District 33: Reps. Barbara Ehardt, Marco Adam Erickson and Sen. Dave Lent.

Horman, who in her sixth term, has the highest profile of the group. She is co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which finalizes the state budget. Not surprisingly, she gets low marks on the Freedom Index, along with the House speaker, the Senate president pro tem, among others.

“I think the implication is I’m not voting the way that four people want me to vote,” Horman told me during a recent visit to her Statehouse office. According to the Post Register, complaints against Horman including voting to consolidate the March presidential primary election with the May primary election date; voting to “restrict access of minors to sexual exhibitions” (such as drag shows); voting to appropriate funds to the joint medical education program with three other states; and voting for the higher education budget.

If the central committee is looking for a JFAC co-chair to vote against budgets, it isn’t going to happen – with Horman, or anyone else, sitting in the chair.

“JFAC is unusual,” she says. “There are 20 members and over 100 motions are proposed for budgets. There’s no way that one person can work all those budgets. So, you have to rely on each other to work as a team. This is a joint committee, and we work collaboratively. You have to rely on your colleagues and trust the work they are doing. I don’t get my way on every budget, even though I am the chair.”

She says there is no need for a special committee to look into her votes. All anybody needs to do is ask, “and I will be happy to answer questions,” she says. But the process outlined by the central committee does not have the appearance of a friendly conversation.

“That’s not what this is. This, in my opinion, is very totalitarian and very authoritarian, where a small group of people think they can tell an elected representative how to vote. It feels like blatant intimidation,” Horman says. “The first potential outcome is censure and guidance. Tell me that is not North Korean re-education. Tell me how that is not Nazi Germany.”

Doyle Beck, who chairs the Bonneville Republican Central Committee, told the Post Register that party officials should be able to hold their elected officials accountable. “My only comment is you committed to follow the platform and be judged by it. You committed to the integrity in affiliation rule. This is really about, ‘Was your vote proper or not proper?’ If it was not, you should come tell us about it.”

Who can blame the legislators for not participating in this circus? The process outlined by the committee has buzzwords, such as “investigation” and “disciplinary action,” as if the lawmakers are facing criminal indictments. Legislators, who are labeled as “the accused,” can have an attorney if they wish. All that’s missing is a smoke-filled room.

Call this process what it really is. A kangaroo court.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at


Shooting blanks

If you're waiting for the current crop of Republicans in the U.S. Senate to do SOMETHING to stop whack jobs from killing our children in the classroom, NEWS FLASH - you won't live that long.

As the number of months - years - pile up since the Uvalde and Nashville mass murders, you can see it in Republican eyes, hear it in Republican voices.  Nothing meaningful - or game-changing - is gonna happen.

Despite multiple graphic testimonies about the Texas, Tennessee and Florida carnage involving the scattered and blood-stained remains of nine, 10 and 11-year-olds - despite Matthew McConaughey's angry description of a child's body so badly destroyed by AR-15 bullets only her tennis shoes could be used to identify her body parts - despite a pediatrician's brutal description of the blood and gore he found as he looked in vain for some child to save - nothing "game changing" is gonna happen.  Nothing.

Yes, backed embarrassingly into a political corner, we got some minor changes in a few situations involving the buying and limiting use of some guns.  Not AR-15's or other semi-automatics which are the weapons-of-choice for crazed killers.  Nothing to address the mass violence.

There's no shortage of people, places and things to blame.  The NRA, "Didn't happen in my state," "I'm just one voice," "Not my problem," "Weren't my kids,"

Sound nutty?  Sound irresponsible when discussing such a horrific matter as classroom killings?  Sure.  But, so is doing nothing.  Or, nearly nothing.

Being elected to Congress has become the first step to making a career of what the Founder's viewed as a part-time job.  "Citizen Congress" they wrote.  Get elected, do things, go home.

But, somewhere along the way, we - we citizen voters - lost control.  Like bed bugs in an old mattress, once they got in, it became nearly impossible to get 'em out.  "The power of incumbency," it's called.  Simple as that.

If one's desire to keep one's position at the perpetually sweet, perpetually flowing public trough sounds too unrealistic an argument to make in the face of inaction after several mass murders, you come up with a better one.  Go ahead.  The rest of us will wait.

Mitch  McConnell assigned Texas Senator John Cornyn to "work with Democrats" to see what both parties could "agree on" when it comes to gun legislation.  You really expect sweeping, meaningful legislation to come out of that?  "Both parties can agree on?"  Really?

By the way, it's been two years  now.  Heard anything from Senator Cornyn?  Read his report?  Heard any new ideas to stop killing our young?  Me, either.  Not word one!

It's taken a lot of political disappointments and a heap of Congress doing nothing to cause me to do a "180" on term limits.  A full "180."

Taking the possibility of a career-by-the-Potomac off the table may be a first step to getting movement - even action - by a future Congress.  If one takes the job in the first place, with every intention of serving and acting with a citizen's sense of doing what's right, rather than what's going to keep them in office, then retiring, we might expect some positive action.

There are still some important objections to the term limits idea.  But, we've seen so many opportunities missed - so many wrongs go un-prosecuted – so many deadbeats relying on incumbency and longevity to stay in the "hallowed halls" - so much worthy legislation die in someone's desk drawer - and all in the name of someone staying employed.

So, yes.  Inaction by the current Congress on the subject of meaningful legislation to stop killing our kids can be predicted.  With near certainty.  It was "Ol' Mitch, himself, who said it in his charge to Cornyn.  "Work with Democrats" implying the GOP's ready to act but not Democrats.

Skeptical?  Yes.  Cynical?  You're damned right!   I assure you, no pleasure is taken in these words.  But, we've seen this all before.  After Sandy Hook.  After Parkland.  After Columbine.  After Reno.  After Buffalo.  After New Orleans.  After Miami.  After Brooklyn.  After.  After.  AFTER!

We need a term-limited, citizen Congress.  We need people to take responsible political action without fear of reprisal.  We need people to be motivated less by self-service than by service-for-all.  We need people who will do what's right for no other reason than it's the right thing to do.

Until that happens, don't hold your breath.  It ain't gonna happen.

Trust the voters

It was a bit surprising to read an opinion piece that Representative Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) has circulated to media outlets around the state, warning Idahoans against signing the Open Primaries Initiative. He accused the supporters of the initiative of having “ulterior motives” with the goal “to give the Idaho Democratic Party an increased opportunity.” If that is the goal, one might be left to wonder why Butch and Lori Otter, former Senator Denton Darrington, former House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, former JFAC co-chair Maxine Bell and a host of other Republicans from across the state have come together to urge approval of the initiative.

It is instructive to consider this legislator’s view of the initiative process because it tells us much about what has happened in our Legislature since the closed GOP primary came into being in 2012. Following the defeat of the three Luna education laws by citizen referendums that year, the Legislature enacted a law in its 2013 session, making it much more difficult to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot. It was Clow’s first legislative session and he, who has often been considered a moderate, stood up for the people’s initiative rights, being one of very few Republicans who voted against the law.

Just 8 years later, after Idaho voters resoundingly approved Reclaim Idaho’s initiative to expand our Medicaid program, Clow joined most of his GOP colleagues in approving a law making it virtually impossible to pass another initiative or referendum. The Idaho Supreme Court struck the law down for depriving Idahoans of their constitutional right to make laws with the initiative and use the referendum to veto legislative enactments.

In 2022, Clow opposed an initiative to increase K-12 funding by about $330 million per year. But, when the Governor called a special session to nip the initiative in the bud and raise funding slightly more than the initiative, Clow voted for that legislation. He now opposes the Open Primaries Initiative. What happened between 2013 and the present?

I would submit that the closed GOP primary, aided and abetted by the malign influence of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) and its dark money allies, has created a toxic atmosphere in the Legislature, making it difficult for well-meaning legislators like Clow to do their jobs. Republicans who exercise independent judgment and fail to heed IFF’s “guidance” on culture war issues end up with low ratings on IFF’s various rating indexes. They are vilified by IFF’s gigantic propaganda media machine. They are labled as “moderates” or RINOs–Republicans in Name Only. They are primaried in the low-turnout GOP primary by IFF-approved, extreme-right candidates.

And if there is anything the Freedom Foundation hates, it is the right of Idahoans to get around an IFF-dominated Legislature by running initiatives and referendums. The IFF has made every effort to nullify that sacred right. They wield considerable influence over the laws produced by the Legislature, which they largely control, but they have much less ability to control the outcome of initiative and referendum elections.

Clow is not a puppet of the IFF, as many legislators are, but with the increasingly extreme Legislatures that have resulted since the closing of the GOP primary in 2012, he could be excused for casting a few votes in favor of IFF’s priorities. The way to free up legislators to vote reasonably and pragmatically on substantive issues–those that will improve the lives of Idahoans–is to eliminate the closed GOP primary and allow all Idaho voters to take part in selecting those who will hold important elective offices.

Clow ends his opinion implying that voters, unlike legislators, do not have the ability to carefully and responsibly make laws. In truth and fact, Idaho voters have always sparingly and responsibly exercised their initiative rights. They don’t blindly sign initiative petitions. If they have concerns about what a measure may do, they have the brains to ask questions before signing. When compared with Idaho’s recent legislative sessions, which have been so utterly dysfunctional and non-productive, Idaho’s initiative sponsors and voters have a remarkable track record.

Idahoans are enthusiastically embracing the Open Primaries Initiative and it is virtually certain to be on the 2024 general election ballot. Its approval next year will restore reasonable, responsible and responsive governing in the Gem State.


Fixing, not repealing, 110

In November 2020, a near-landslide of Oregon voters – 58.5% – approved Measure 110, which generally decriminalized small-scale possession of illicit drugs. That passage was a call to change the state’s core policy.

Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the pro-110 Drug Policy Alliance, said, “This confirms a substantial shift in public support in favor of treating drug use with health services rather than with criminalization.”

That was the core idea: rejection of the long-standing general policy of criminal enforcement, the half-century “war on drugs” widely declared as a failure.

State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remarked, “We need to look at things outside of the traditional war on drugs approach. That’s been going on for 50 years. And I ask everyone, so what do we have to show for this? And it’s 50 years and how many billions, if not trillions, of dollars have been spent?”

The approach relied strongly on law enforcement, prison and the criminal justice system. Critics noted that relatively few people really kicked their problems in prison, and once out their lives were so constricted – with few practical choices about where to live or work – that they often relapsed.

Those concerns, aired widely in 2020, have faded from public view – though not from validity – amid arguments that Measure 110 hasn’t worked.

A number of county governments have called for 110’s repeal. An August Emerson poll suggested a majority of Oregonians felt the same, but there’s reason for skepticism. The poll was backed by the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions, whose spokesman, Kavin Sabet, has blasted decriminalization, calling it “part of a very well thought out multi-decade plan by those who want to legalize drugs and the billionaires who are behind it.”

“I do think that if Oregon repeals or replaces Measure 110 or continues to have that buyer’s remorse, which is certainly where the momentum is, this could stop the legalization movement in its tracks because this really puts a dent in those plans of legalization advocates,” Sabet said.

For all the talk about repealing Measure 110, most legislative activity now seems to involve additions and fixes for its problems rather than changing the core direction, which is what approval of Measure 110 by voters signals the public wants. However, the will of voters can and should be met with changes on how to execute that new direction. The largest failure with Measure 110, so far, has been implementation: Prevention and treatment efforts have been slow, along with measures to ban activity, such as the public use of drugs, to mirror state law on alcohol and marijuana.

Measure 110 has suffered from its timeline – changing enforceable drug laws in just 13 weeks between the election and the law change and long before treatment and other efforts could be set up – along with several gaps in the law.

Many early complaints about the measure concerned the slow expansion of treatment efforts. More recently, however, those projects have expanded. The 2021 Senate Bill 755 set up Behavioral Health Resource Networks, described as “an entity or group of entities working together to provide comprehensive, community-based services and supports to people with substance use disorders or harmful substance use.” This took time. The state set up a network in each county and tribal area before using grant funds to cover the cost of services to individuals.

The measure probably was overly comprehensive and uniform: Different drugs may call for different responses. Approaches to dealing with opioids (many of which are legal in some cases) is a different proposition than going after methamphetamines or cocaine. Legislation could address the differences.

Even more important is the absence in 110 of serious leverage to pressure – even force – drug users away from bad behavior and into treatment or some other consequence. What might that leverage look like? One option might involve building on the drug courts, active in Oregon as in many other states for many years by giving public officials – and maybe judges – broad authority to compel people to comply with recovery efforts.

Policymakers can consider as well that much of Oregon’s law relating to drugs, establishing crimes and penalties relating to manufacture and trafficking, remains in force and continues to be a powerful tool.

In October a large Oregon delegation visited Portugal, which two decades ago moved from a crimalized-based to a health service approach to drug use, to pick up lessons from the experience. Portugal seems to have little interest in reversing its course.

One of the participants, Janie Gullickson, the executive director of the Portland-based Mental Health and Addiction Association, remarked that, “It took Portugal eight years to see results they were hoping to see from their drastic change from a criminal approach to addiction to a health care approach. So it’s going to take time, innovation and collaboration. We’re year three, right?”

Elected officials seldom are wise simply to smack down a clearly expressed will of the voters. Voters do tend to appreciate, though, efforts to make their will work better.

(This column originally appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.)


Flavors of freedom

In Idaho politics the word “freedom” continues to be batted around a lot by people who seldom bother to explain what they mean by it.

Your definition and someone else’s may vary.

One of the most impactful political organizations in Idaho is the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which purports to base its work around expanding “freedom”; but their conception of the idea is, to be generous, highly selective. Freedom for one person to do something can mean less freedom for someone else, if you aren’t careful … which ideologues often aren’t.

The meanings of some of the many flavors of freedom comes clear in a recent release of the libertarian Cato Institute, called “Freedom in the 50 States: An index of personal and economic freedom.” It is as flawed and cherry-picked as most such surveys, but a combination of two elements make it worth some pause and consideration.

First, it breaks down types of freedom in 25 varied categories which do cover a lot of ground, under the umbrella categories of “personal” and “economic” freedom. There’s plenty of weighing going on within and among the various subcategories (Cato being what it is, the group’s heart seems to be more on the economic side), but a look at the variations is worthwhile.

That’s because, second, the survey also breaks down the various types of “freedom” by state.

Overall, Idaho ranks 14th in the survey, out of 50. It follows New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Texas, among others.

It does best on “economic freedom,” which you could translate to “freedom to transact business activities unencumbered by regulation or taxes,” coming in seventh.

On “personal freedom,” Idaho’s ranking was not so hot: 49th, ahead only of Texas.

The Cato survey gives Idaho some rankings you might not expect. On state taxation, Idaho ranks 38th, worse than Oregon (36th: it does not have a sales tax) and Washington (19th: it does not have an income tax). Idaho ranks 4th best in the country on local taxation, a suggestion that local governments really are being squeezed by the state as much as they say. It also ranks second highest in the nation in government debt, though the highly technical approach used in measuring it may be hard to translate to practical impacts.

Idaho ranked first in the nation on “health insurance freedom,” though the criteria are a little vague and certainly idiosyncratic. The key rational sentence seems to be, “Community rating and the individual mandate get the highest weights because they represent a large transfer of wealth from the healthy to the unhealthy of approximately $10 billion a year.” Try applying that to your personal “freedom” when it comes to obtaining and using health insurance.

On the “personal freedom” side, where Nevada ranks on top in the nation (Arizona is second), Idaho scores less well.

It ranks 46th on incarceration and arrests, 44th on gambling, 28th on marriage freedom (“driven mostly by cousin marriage, which is more important in our rankings than covenant marriage and vastly more important than blood tests and waiting periods”), 39th on cannabis and salvia, 49th on alcohol.

And it comes in 24th on travel freedom. Much of that measure last relates to “the use and retention of automated license plate reader data and the availability of driver’s licenses to those without Social Security numbers (such as undocumented workers).” You wonder how the ranking might have been affected if recent abortion laws had been considered.

Abortion, generally, didn’t appear to figure in the rankings, at least not substantially.

Idaho does rank third highest, however, on “gun freedom.” That should come as no shock.

So who’s free? To do what? What’s important to you?



Communism, not libraries

It seems the Freedom Foundation warriors have library porn in their cross hairs. Who would oppose protecting children? The sweet little things.

I just had a long afternoon with some difficult, not very sweet granddaughters. They were not at their best. But I would still sacrifice to protect them from harm. So why not use this as a dog whistle? Those Freedom Foundation strategists have me beat by a mile.

What I’m confused about is all the communism they are avoiding.

Yes, communism right here in this deep red state. State-sanctioned, written into our sacred Idaho code, communism is in our laws. And our Freedom Foundation warriors are just looking the other way.

What, you say you are unaware?

I wasn’t really. But I was inspired about this from a newspaper article. Remember those? They are so quaint.

This article was announcing multiple grants to North Idaho hospitals and clinics with practitioners who needed help with loan repayment. It turns out the Idaho legislature authorized taxing Idaho supported medical students up to 4% a year of what the state chips in for their medical education. (Math: 140 students X 4% of $30K= $168K. The state is supposed to chip in another $84K). This money, collected from all the students is then distributed to those working in Idaho in underserved areas. That sure sounds like communism to me, doesn’t it? Taxing everybody to then send money off to the poor folks?

Not that family docs in small town Idaho are poor. They make at least twice what a teacher makes. But it is a marketplace, that cartel of MDs, also a state-sanctioned restricted market. Getting the not-so-smart ones like me to serve in needed areas with taxes on their classmates sounds at least socialist, if not outright communist.

But it’s everywhere. I’ve written about the Idaho Potato Commission before. If you want to sell your potatoes as “Idaho Potatoes” you have to pay a tax to The Commission. And Idaho law has empowered The Commission to inspect your books, and bring you to court over your small, or very big potatoes. It’s an arrangement the potato farmers seem to appreciate. But jeez, state-sanctioned taxation of potato farmers? Next, we’ll be requiring them to swear allegiance to The Party. We all know what party that would be.

Health Care is not immune from the communist infection. All (except five…that is a very deep story) agreed to pay an “assessment” (soft for “tax”) back to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for every Medicaid dollar they received. The tax was set at 10%. This agreement was offered by the hospitals during the 2008 downturn, and they could see big Medicaid cuts on the horizon. They knew the magic of the Federal Medicaid program. Every dollar Idaho spends on Medicaid is matched with three Federal dollars. If Idaho hospitals send ten percent of their money back to the IDHW, they can expect a three to one match in return. Can you say Ponzi? Some states had a much higher “assessment”. This spiral was cut short by the feds about 12 years back, and Idaho was not the worst schemer in this plot.

Idaho nursing homes also pay a Medicaid “assessment”.

When the “assessment” was enacted into Idaho law it was strongly endorsed by the Hospital Association. And it still is.

So, sometimes, interested parties choose to tax themselves for their benefit. All of themselves. And they seem to believe the tax serves them all, even though some of them get more money than others.

I guess this kind of makes sense. But it’s still not free market capitalism. Why hasn’t the Freedom Foundation taken on the Potato Commission? Or the Wheat Commission? There’s communism everywhere, not just in our libraries.



From the seemingly endless list of "grassroots" organizations these days, one that has lately piqued my interest is "Moms For America" and its apparent offshoot, "Moms For Liberty."

"Moms" has been around since 2004, though only sprouting up in our Northwest neighborhood in the last year or so.  Website for the group is very professional with lots of patriotic verbiage and an online store where you can buy a "Christmas plaid apron" for $28 or a "long sleeve" hoodie for $31."

There are some "hot button" words among the offerings.  Like "truly American curriculum" and "biblical citizenship workbook."  But, the descriptive words that caught my attention were "A voice to counter radical feminists" and to "end gender confusion."

"Moms" has popped up in a few Idaho school districts.  Though scant now, you're sure to hear more about them.  Local chapters of a movement to end "gender confusion" while selling "Biblical Citizen workbooks" can't fly under the radar very long.

The "statement of purpose" for "Moms" says it all:

"Moms for America is reclaiming our culture for truth, family freedom and the Constitution.  We activate, empower and mobilize moms to promote and advance freedom in our homes, communities through our vote."

"Moms" also says it's working to "restore patriotism" by "raising patriots."

With talk of "restoring our patriotism" and reclaiming "family and freedom," there's a sense of confusion at our house.  Have we lost all that?  Does it really need it need to be "reclaimed.?"

All sorts of right wing groups are coming out of the woodwork these days.  School and library boards, county commissions and city councils are "under attack."  In some cases, members of these "do-gooder" groups are running as a "team" hoping to get one or more of their members elected so those folks can work to get others "inside."

This outburst of local right wing energy can be found in numerous states.  And, these folks aren't being shy.  They're announcing their purpose(s) right up front.  "Hot button" words and more.

We've seen these types before.  Their objectives are known to anyone paying attention.  What's different now is (un)social media.  The electronic connection making us all a connected neighborhood.  Whether one nutcase or a hundred, with the ol' I-net, the messages all look the same.

Such is the case with "Moms."  Yes, there's that professional website presence.  Yes, they've got those "hot button" words front and center.  But, is it truly a "national" movement?  Or just a few folks out to stir up local trouble?

What's needed is a lot of local "push back" before anyone claiming to be a moderate is swept out of office.

Stay tuned.  Oh, and don't forget those long-sleeved hoodies for just $31 emblazoned with  "Moms for America."  Catchy.


Winder has had it

Senator Chuck Winder, the leader of Idaho’s Senate, is a good and patient man. I often disagree with him on issues coming before the Senate, but I don’t question his ethics, temperament and dedication to serving the public. He has watched a decline in civility in the ranks of the Senate and recently took action to bring some of the instigators up short. He deserves the support of fellow Senators and of the wider public. Legislative business suffers when there is continual internal sniping among the members.

Winder reprimanded Senators Scott Herndon (R-Sagle) and Glenneda Zuiderveld (R-Twin Falls) in a November 6 letter for taking potshots at other Senators. He then called out Sen. Brian Lenney (R-Nampa) for attacking and degrading other Senators and the public. Zuiderveld and Lenney were stripped of leadership positions.

It should not have been a surprise that the three conducted themselves in a disgraceful manner. They won primary races against reputable incumbents in 2022 with ugly, truth-deprived campaigns. Herndon won by running a smear campaign against incumbent Senator Jim Woodward, a Navy veteran and highly regarded legislator. Lenney won by smearing incumbent Jeff Agenbroad, a reasonable, effective Senator. Zuiderveld’s campaign against Jim Patrick, an accomplished legislator, was not much better. The Idaho Freedom Foundation and its affiliates joined in trashing the incumbents, employing generous amounts of out-of-state money.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) really scored with the election of these three to the Senate. They all get a 100% rating on IFF’s education index by doing IFF's bidding on every education measure coming before the Idaho Senate. To get a 100% rating, you must oppose almost every education funding bill, while supporting measures that would require taxpayers to pay for private and religious schooling. The three even voted against legislation funding their own community colleges–North Idaho College, the College of Western Idaho and the College of Southern Idaho. Loyalty to the IFF takes priority over support for their communities.

The three also scored near the top of IFF’s freedom and spending indexes. It is usually a given that legislators will support those who put their lives at risk to serve in the US military. Yet, the IFF disapproved of funding services for Idaho veterans so the three naturally voted against our veterans.

In addition to their steadfast support for IFF on the Senate floor, the threesome has stood up for IFF’s goals in their local communities. Herndon proudly supported the appointment of Brandon Durst as superintendent of the West Bonner County School District. He gave cover to Durst as that former IFF employee tried to methodically destroy the District’s schools. Luckily, the school patrons woke up and kicked Durst out.

The IFF has come out strong against the Open Primaries Initiative, so the threesome must also oppose it. Zuiderveld kind of misfired on the issue, claiming on social media that the initiative’s sponsor, Reclaim Idaho, is a “communist PAC.” Her tweet had a screenshot of contributors to Reclaim Idaho, including Rich Stivers, a well-regarded Twin Falls Republican whose father served as House GOP Speaker back in the 1980s. She implied that Rich, a Vietnam veteran who put his life at risk fighting the communists, was a commie supporter? Ignorance must be blissful.

I must come to Rich’s defense. I served in Vietnam and had access to communist propaganda. I can attest that the commies never supported open primary elections. In fact, the only elections they supported were ones where the party bosses controlled who got placed on the ballot. If officials departed from the party line, they were severely disciplined. That doesn’t sound like Reclaim Idaho, but it does have a definite flavor of the IFF-supported Dorothy Moon branch of the Idaho GOP.

Zuiderveld has drawn an opponent in the 2024 GOP primary who might be able to explain to her the horrors of communism. Alex Caval knows firsthand. Her family escaped communist Romania and immigrated to the US in 1988. She has done well in Twin Falls and will be a marvelous replacement for Zuiderveld. The other two in the threesome will have a rematch with their 2022 opponents and may also be replaced. Woodward and Agenbroad both say they will be prepared to defend against the smears this time around. Chuck Winder may be able to rest easy by this time next year.

(image/Idaho Capital Sun)