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Posts published in “Day: January 6, 2022”

Anything but normal


In 1976, I graduated from the University of Idaho and began a dream job working in Washington, D.C., for a U.S. Senator I deeply admired, Idaho’s own Frank Church. As a newbie in the office, I was stationed in the back room and assigned to read all incoming correspondence and disseminate it to the appropriate senior staffers. I found it fascinating to read these missives, and I learned a great deal about my home state in the process.

In addition to my desk job, I was often asked to give private tours of the U.S. Capitol to folks visiting the Senator’s office from Idaho. I enjoyed giving these tours as it afforded me an opportunity to share my love of our nation’s history, government, art, and architecture with fellow Idahoans.

After introducing myself to my tour group -- typically a family, or a high school class -- I would escort them to the subway that linked the Russell Senate Office Building with the Capitol. From the basement of the Capitol, we would take the elevator to the second floor and begin the tour. Like all tour guides, I worked from a script but, as an avid reader of Capitol lore, would enliven the tour with interesting tidbits I’d picked up along the way. For instance, if you look closely at the statute of Abraham Lincoln in Statuary Hall, you will see he has two left feet. The left-footed lathe was used for both shoes, and the sculptor accurately reflected that fact.

Often, other visitors to the Capitol “attached” themselves to my tours, following along at a respectful distance but close enough to hear every word. I considered that a compliment. Visitors to the Capitol unfailingly expressed a sense of awe for the majesty of the building. They spoke of their pride in this “temple of democracy.” During my time working for Senator Church, I gave dozens of tours and observed hundreds of tourists. I know what a normal tourist day at the Capitol looks like.

So, I was dismayed when I read a statement made by U.S. Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA) shortly after the insurrection. He said: “Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes, taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”

No, sir, I would never think that.

A normal tourist visit does not involve a violent mob, brandishing weapons, rushing the building, climbing the walls, and breaking windows. Nor are Capitol security officers beaten and bloodied.

On a normal day, the House and Senate chambers are not overrun by crude thugs hunting for members of Congress, ransacking their desks and offices, and threatening to kill them. On a normal day, one would never see gallows, replete with noose, outside the building.

A normal tourist visit doesn’t terrorize lawmakers, their aides, and others in the building; it doesn’t leave a trail of grief, trauma, and fear in its wake.
And it doesn’t result in suicides. It doesn’t result in death.

It has been many years since I gave Capitol tours, but I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Capitol many times since, and I’ve noted that tours haven’t changed much over the years. The highlights are the same. The sense of awe remains.

But Mr. Clyde and his fellow Republicans would gaslight the nation and tell us that January 6, 2021, was just another day at the Capitol. They would have us believe that what we saw and heard that day was commonplace, par for the course. They ask us to disbelieve what we witnessed and credit their lies instead.

In doing this, Mr. Clyde and his ilk are the most loathsome of political creatures, traitors to the truth who blithely betray their oaths of office and break faith with our country. But make no mistake: January 6th was a hideous aberration, a nightmare we hope to never again experience. It was anything but normal.

Watch out


Next week, Monday January 10th, 2022, the Idaho legislature will reconvene. I hope you are prepared with your billfold open, your purse ready and your children kept safe. Because I’m sure our duly elected representatives are chomping at their bits to send money our way.

They’ve not just hinted at it, but pretty much promised.

It makes sense. They are sitting on the biggest surplus this state has ever seen. But when you start to build something, and a state budget is an annual edifice the legislature must construct, it’s best to know what you can afford before you start digging the footings.

This mammoth pot of cash is really from two sources. Some is one-time COVID bonuses sent out from Washington DC where the politicians only concern is getting a TV interview or going viral on social media. So, when the pandemic hit, big money sloshed to the states and our wise leaders are sitting on about $885M they couldn’t figure out where to spend.

Do you remember the legislature last year getting its undies twisted about not having a finger on those expenditures? Their umbrage kept them in session FOREVER. But I guess they couldn’t see fit to send that money out the door to those deserving it, the waitresses laid off, the folks who can’t make rent, the small business owner who couldn’t open her doors.

Instead, they attacked mask mandates and public health districts. There were other attacks taking up their time too. Enough that they needed a special session.

But the other source of this huge pile of dough is not one-time, here today, gone tomorrow COVID bucks. Idaho has seen unplanned, unprecedented tax revenue growth. Sales tax income is through the roof, as is personal (not corporate) income tax revenues. So, we have been promised a tax cut. Don’t you love it?

Are Idahoans just rolling in dough, and the tax man has found our dropped quarters? Are we a high tax state and the tax man is siphoning our bank accounts? Just where the heck is all this unforeseen revenue rolling in from?

Maybe some of us are well off. I’ve heard some rich guy is buying up Teton County. But I’ll bet his accountants have figured a way for him not to pay taxes.

No, the sales and income tax revenue rising tide is probably coming from pretty regular folks. It’s just that Idaho is getting swamped with newcomers. Don’t you love it?

For the last five years Idaho has led the nation in population growth. Last year alone, between 2020 and 2021 Idaho added about 53,000 citizens. That’s about the exact size of a legislative district. Ask me how I know that bit of minutiae…

It’s not our birth rate. It’s not resettled asylum seekers. Its people who move here from other states. Ask anybody looking for a new home or a rental in the Treasure Valley. It seems, as states go, we have been discovered. Don’t you love it?

A little of the anecdotal evidence that there are a lot of newcomers comes from the folks testifying in the Capitol to our perpetual legislature. A lady giving testimony stated her residence as “Rathdrum, California”. Oops.

Another sign of newcomers is the recent warning from the Idaho Department of Transportation: DON’T PASS SNOWPLOWS ON THE RIGHT!! Most folks only do that once, but it’s a fair warning to new immigrants.

Idaho is booming while our nation stagnates. US population only grew 0.1% last year, the slowest growth rate since the Pilgrims. We have been discovered. Don’t you love it? So, let’s cut taxes and give all these newcomers a sense of well-being and let them know our boundless generosity. They’ll learn about snowplows soon enough.