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Nuts and nullification

rainey BARRETT


A professional friend of long-standing over in Idaho got himself in an embarrassing position the other day. The guy spent more than 40 years covering state politics for an international news service and, thus, could be expected to know more about that state’s irrational political activities and how they operate than the average citizen. He does. But he still got tripped up publically and, in so doing, presented a text book example why Idaho – and so many other states – have fallen victim to the right-wing crazies.

A moderate Republican friend of his – an oxymoron in Idaho – was facing a real nutcase in his primary. So, our mutual retired media friend filed for the primary race, too. His idea? He’d go right up to just before the election – then pull out – attempting to split the nutcase vote, thus assuring his moderate friend a victory. He’d be a “Trojan horse” – tilting the voting percentages. Except he got found out and had to withdraw.

You couldn’t find a more textbook example of how the foil hats have taken over so many political offices nationally. Divide and conquer. Statistically across the country, the nuts are a statistical minority. But they hold a disproportionate number of legislative and congressional seats because they learned long ago to “divide and conquer.”

The about-to-be-gone Michelle Bachman is a good example. Did you know her maiden name was Amble? Kinda fits, doesn’t it? Well, she’s never faced a primary election with a single opponent so she’s never had to get at least half the vote. The Minnesota GOP always made sure she had a weak second or third party in the race. Divide and conquer. All she needed was 25-30-percent or so. A minority win. My friend was trying to do the same for his friend. But – despite long experience – he screwed up.

Our political system is filled with this crap. My friend knew he wasn’t a real candidate. But voters didn’t. Idahoans honestly drawn to him and his faux campaign were being hustled. He was perverting our system though he probably felt justified. But innocent voters were being screwed.

Idaho’s legislature, for example, has a lot of these minority “winners” in the ranks. Most with a far right tilt. Like the current bunch who overwhelmingly passed a bill this year – now a law – to “void” any new federal gun laws. Further, they believe they can now cancel all previous federal gun laws in upcoming sessions. Same for some federal lands issues and federal health care laws, too. They can’t do any of that. So Idahoans will keep paying millions of tax dollars in what is now a long line of more utterly useless and lost court cases.

Fact is, Idaho put a new law on the books this year that’s so far out in right field the legislature decided to appropriate an extra $1-million up front just for the court battle legislators were sure would come. Prescient? No. Learned from history? Maybe. Just deciding to pay up front this time rather than paying later as has so often been the case.

North Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas, Utah, Arkansas and Florida are among some other locales going the same phony “nullification” route. “We don’t like your damned federal laws and we ain’t gonna follow ‘em.” Some of the local ignorance deals with obviously illegal new voter limitations, efforts to avoid requirements of the Affordable Care Act, resistance to gun laws that haven’t even been written and other nonsense.

What I’d like to see is these pick-and-choose politicians say “We don’t want none of your damned highway money – and you can keep your funding of local water and sewer systems. And, while you’re at it, we ain’t takin’ none of those federal education dollars, either.” But they won’t. Deciding which laws to follow and which to ignore is one thing. Not taking the money is something else. Crazy, yes. Just not stupid.

The plain fact is the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause allows federal trumping of state statutes and has been uniformly upheld for more than 200 years. You might be able to legally smoke a “joint” in Washington State these days. But if the feds want to bust you, they will, regardless of what Washington voters have decided. Same with gun law “bans.”

Idaho is many millions of dollars poorer for this sort of legislative suicide in the courts. Dollars that could’ve made significant improvements in public education, health care and other quality-of-life issues for taxpayers. And many more of those valuable tax bucks will go down the judicial rat hole as the elective “bait and switch” allowing Idaho’s minority cretins to win at the polls goes unchallenged.

Of course, anyone who wants to seriously take on folks in the Idaho Legislature must remember this year they made it legal for any member to carry a concealed weapon at anytime and anywhere- whether they know one end of the damned thing from the other or not.- drunk or sober – 24/7. That’s what you get when the nuts with the aluminum wrap hats manipulate the voters. I think my unarmed friend forgot that.

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