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Posts published in “Day: November 24, 2021”

Giving thanks for life-saving vaccines


If we were not still in the grip of a deadly pandemic, with the 7-day average death toll from the coronavirus hovering just over 1,100 a day, I probably would not have thought of giving thanks this year for the medical researchers who have given this country protection against many life-threatening illnesses. Thinking back to the late 40s and early 50s, when I became aware of vaccinations, my thoughts were anything but thankful. When a doctor or nurse brought out a needle, they had to pry me out from behind the furniture to administer a shot. I refused Novocaine in the dentist’s office.

Then came the 1952 polio epidemic, which was the worst outbreak in the nation's history. We saw pictures of kids in iron lungs--huge mechanical devices to help kids breathe. We did not know what caused polio but we were told not to gather together or drink from public fountains or swim in public pools. My uncle, Uli, got polio and his legs withered, bringing the disease close to home. When the Falk polio vaccine became available about 1955, everyone in our community and across the country could not get shots fast enough.

That softened my dread fear of needles. It further softened over the years when the effectiveness of various vaccines was proven time and again--Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diphtheria, Tetanus, and so on. When I developed hay fever, it was a mixed blessing. I did not have to work in the hay, which was the worst work on the farm, but I did have to get regular injections, which my Mom did very slowly so as not to hurt. Yikes!

Then, in 1968, I volunteered to fight in Vietnam and had to get a long list of vaccinations. Everyone had to take the vaccinations for the protection of the entire unit--the old thing about the chain breaking at the weakest link, obviously the unvaccinated one. They included Plague, Yellow Fever, Typhus, Cholera, Typhoid Fever, and the very worst, gamma globulin in the posterior for Hepatitis. It left a big bump in the rear that slowly dissipated over a week or so.

As one continues through life, it is easy to take for granted the fact that you don’t have to worry about the dread diseases that our ancestors had to face on practically a daily basis. Plague and smallpox wiped out entire populations before the scientific

community developed means of prevention that could be administered in a painless injection. We don’t know how very fortunate we are and how thankful we should be.

When I was a kid and we learned that someone in the community had been diagnosed with cancer of practically any variety, we all thought it was a death sentence. When Doctor Gupta called on January 13, 2017, to say that I had pancreatic cancer, that was my very question--”Is this a death sentence.” His response was, “not necessarily.” I was told later that chemotherapy would increase my chances of survival to 30%.

In order to get chemo, you had to get a whole range of shots, which I gladly accepted and would have taken many more. It was not a question as to whether the FDA or anyone else had given its blessing to any of them. My trusted physicians had said they were necessary and that was enough. They put a port in your chest so they could mainline it and you were happy to put up with all of it for a chance of survival. You see many other dear souls in the injection lounge taking in stuff that some would call poison, just for the chance of more life with their loved ones --not a lot of bellyachers and dissidents in that venue. I’m now 4-years cancer free.

So, let me raise a toast this Thanksgiving weekend to the doctors, nurses, medical researchers and other medical personnel who have strived so hard over the many years to find ways of saving the public from illness and death at the hands of deadly diseases such as COVID-19 and all of the other scourges I’ve previously mentioned. We owe you, we salute you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts, which are still beating because of you.

Democratic invasion


Lately, I have been hearing from Democrats who will do everything in their power to prevent Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Rep. Pricilla Giddings from winning the top two Republican primary races.

They’re even talking about registering as Republicans and voting in the GOP primary election – taking their chances with Gov. Brad Little and House Speaker Scott Bedke in the lieutenant governor’s race.

But not all talk is coming from Democrats. There are a few “mainstream” Republicans who are encouraging their Democratic friends to crossover to the GOP primary – to keep McGeachin and Giddings out.

Tom Luna, Idaho’s Republican Party chairman, apparently has been hearing discussions about possible crossover voting. His message to Democrats is clear: Stay away from the Republican primary. And he has an ally in one of Idaho’s leading Democrats, House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel of Boise.

“I would tell every Democrat not to register as a Republican and vote in the Republican primary,” she says.

Luna says he normally would ignore threats of crossover voting, “but it appears that the mainstream media simply won’t let the story die. This is raising concerns amongst the rank-and-file Republican voters as to what the official position of the Idaho Republican Party is with regard to crossover voting in primary elections.”

Luna is crystal clear about his stance. Since 2012, the GOP primary has been for Republicans only – not Democrats, independents or those unaffiliated. Republicans voting in a Republican primary is about as “mainstream” as it gets, Luna says.

“Frankly, if you truly cared about the battle for the soul of the Republican Party, you wouldn’t advocate for non-Republicans to infiltrate our party and skew the results,” Luna says. “The fact is, you aren’t going to change the political landscape by pounding on a keyboard and spitting out op-eds or doing lay-up interviews with a complicit reporter. You have to get involved with the process. …That’s how elections are won. They aren’t won by gaming the system and encouraging others who don’t have the best interests of the Republican Party to muck around in our primaries.”

It’s not often when Rubel, one of Idaho’s leading Democrats, is on the same page with Luna. But she gives the chairman props on this one.

“Maybe we need to do a road show,” she joked.

Her take is that Democrats crossing over would hurt her party in the long run. “It would mean lower register numbers and harder to attract donors both nationally and locally. It would make it harder for candidates to run, and when they do run, they don’t know who the registered Democrats are and who they can call on Election Day to make sure they are voting. It would be a huge setback for Democrats to basically disappear from the public record and it makes it less likely that we will ever get a Democrat elected.”

In the end, she says, it makes little difference who is nominated on the Republican ticket – McGeachin would produce similar results as Little as governor; same with Bedke and Giddings in the lieutenant governor’s race.

“Democrats have to get out of this mentality they need to settle for the smallest crumbs,” Rubel said. “The differences between the candidates are exaggerated. At the end of the day, we still end up last in education regardless of who wins the primary. We still end up with someone who will happily take away our ballot initiative rights and someone who has no interest in property-tax relief.”

To Rubel, the solution is simple: Elect Democrats to the high offices.

“That’s what we need to do to fix what ails this state,” she says. “If we really want to stop being last in the nation on education funding, last with kids going to higher education, being at the bottom of the nation in wages, we need to get a Democrat elected and not just figure who is the least bad one on the Republican side.”

Luna, of course, will not agree with Rubel on any of those talking points. But they do make convincing cases for party followers to play by the rules in the next primary election.

Of course, Idaho voters – given their independent nature – will do as they wish.

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