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Posts published in February 2022

George Washington on extremism


George Washington, America’s first President and one its greatest, was born on the 22nd of February 290 years ago. Lacking Methuselah’s longevity, he is no longer with us. But the wisdom he left with us has turned out to be right on the mark. We can save our State and Nation if we heed his warning against extreme political partisanship.

In his Farewell Address, which was first published on September 19, 1796, Washington warned that political parties can “become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” Extreme partisanship, he cautioned, “kindles the animosity of one part against the other, foments occasionally riot and insurrection” and can bring about “disorders and miseries” that “gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual.”

It is uncanny that America’s Founding Father could have predicted how extreme partisanship would have brought us to these ugly times, where blind party loyalty trumps the public good, even to the point of insurrection. The American people are faced with a stark choice–continue down the road where political extremism rules our lives, or choose to put the good of the country and state above poisonous partisanship.

The next opportunity to choose between chronic governmental dysfunction and responsible, pragmatic governing is May 17, Idaho’s primary election day. Being a one-party state, where the selection of most officeholders will occur in the Republican primary, those not registered as Republican voters by March 11 will have no say as to the character and direction of our government.

Just two sample races demonstrate what is at stake. Senator Jim Woodward of Sagle, a former nuclear submarine officer, respected businessman and well-regarded Republican legislator, is being challenged by a political extremist who calls Idaho Child Protective Services “a well-funded federal racket”. CPS saves kids’ lives, period!

Rep. Laurie Lickley of Jerome, who is knowledgeable on agriculture and education issues and has shown herself to be a competent legislator, is running for a Senate seat. She is challenged by a person who claims to have founded the extremist “Real 3%ers of Idaho” militia group and is known as the Bundy Ranch Sniper.

Idaho’s almost 310,000 independent voters, who comprised 35% of total Idaho voters two years ago, would have no say in the selection between these types of candidates if highly-partisan Republicans have their way. The House approved legislation on Presidents’ Day to prevent independent voters from registering in the Republican primary after March 11. They have always had until election day to make that choice.

From the time I first became eligible to vote in Idaho in the early 1960s, any voter could go into the polls on election day and vote the ballot of any party with candidates up for election. The open primary served us well, producing reasonable, responsible officials. A decade ago, GOP zealots closed the Republican primary to ensure the election of the most extreme candidates. It has worked beyond their wildest dreams, producing some of the most divisive, dysfunctional Legislatures in the State’s history.

George Washington would have been appalled by the tight grip that GOP extremists have on the selection of public officials in Idaho. All taxpayers pay for the Republican primary and they all should have the opportunity to participate in selecting our leaders. House Bill 439, which would prevent independents from participating after March 11, should be defeated in the Senate or vetoed. That would be a giant step toward following Washington’s sound advice and depoliticizing the poisonous politics that have plagued our great State for the last decade.

Just to play it safe, though, each and every person who wants to have a vote in the future direction of our State should contact their county clerk’s office to register in the Republican primary before the March 11 date.

The two-person contest


With Nicholas Kristof out of the gubernatorial running, the Democratic field has 16 contenders (one of them not yet qualified). Theoretically, any could catch fire and win, but the nomination likely will go to one of two: former House Speaker Tina Kotek or state Treasurer Tobias Read.

The contest between the two of them is still in development, with about three months to go. Probably, the prevailing view is that Kotek has an edge. But her advantage may not be overwhelming.

The race hasn’t really heated up, yet. Kotek and Read had their first joint appearance, sort of, at a Multnomah County Democrats zoom candidate forum on February 10, and no fireworks erupted: They barely referred to each other, and then positively. The only implicit comparisons each drew concerned their own experience in office (work on various legislative issues for Kotek, executive experience for Read). Neither seemed to dominate the event, though both sounded crisp and professional. (None of the other Democrats running for governor appeared at the event, though some candidates for other offices did.)

Kotek and Read match up in some places. They’ve been organizing for governor for about as long. And despite Kotek’s organizational support, Read’s campaign treasury is in the same ballpark: He’s not being massively outspent. (Kotek’s current reported cash balance is $882,145, and Read’s is $616,888.)

The case for Kotek’s campaign strength has been well noted. It starts with organizational support on multiple levels, important in a primary election. She has overwhelming support from her fellow (Democratic) legislators, which by itself gives her a network running through at least many of the places where most of the Democratic primary votes are. She has a lengthy list of non-legislative endorsers as well, and from interest groups (environmental, social issues and other). Labor unions are the biggest outside organizations a Democratic candidate in the state could call on, and she has the bulk of support there.

Kotek has a track record at the legislature, substance she legitimately can tout. And, now resigned from the legislature, she can devote full time to campaigning and fundraising.

There’s a clear basis for calling her the front runner in the race.

But the case for Read, while a little more subtle, is not weak either.

Kotek has run until now only within Portland, in an area where the Democratic registration edge over Republicans long has been five or more to one. When Read served in the House in a Washington County district near the Portland line, he represented more competitive territory (some of it then recently Republican) and had to craft an approach and message amenable to a wider variety of people. His message still seems to reflect that.

In their Multnomah Democrats appearances, Read emphasized up front proposals aimed at places around the state, while Kotek reached it in response to a question about her interests outside of Portland. (She did deliver a good answer.) But even if you didn’t already know, you could guess that Read started with a more statewide view and Kotek’s was more Portland-centric.

Read twice has run and won statewide, making an appeal to Oregon voters broadly. His winning percentage rose from a close 43.9 percent in 2016 (over 41.6 percent for his Republican opponent Jeff Gudman) to a stronger 51.7 percent four years later (in a rematch with Gudman, who got 41.5 percent).

Strategically, his case may center on a comment he made when Kristof left the race: “This is now a two-person race for the Democratic nomination for governor, and there is a clear choice. Continue the status quo in Salem or vote for Tobias Read, someone who isn’t afraid to confront the urgent challenges we face in Oregon.”

It’s worth noting that the strength of the Democratic establishment hasn’t really been seriously tested, in a contest with an insurgency of some sort, in a long time.

On his website and at the Multnomah event, Read sounds a bit like Kristof and also like a candidate running as a Democrat but distinct from the Democratic base, albeit not much at odds philosophically. If he positions Kotek as the establishment candidate, that could hit a sensitive spot for Kotek as a successor within the current establishment.

He could also blunt the anti-establishment appeal that independent Betsy Johnson is developing, which may be of strategic interest to some Democrats.

In turn, that poses a question for Democratic voters: What kind of Democrat do you want, and how do you want to position yourself for the battle in the fall?


Treason at Fox?


A Twitter user ignited all manner of indignation today when she tweeted the following:

"Ummm.... Fox just went into specific detail about what U.S. military units are readying for deployment to Germany to surge for this conflict. They stated two specific units, what the units specialize in, and who their commanding officer will be. Why would they do that?????"

Responses were immediate and overflowing with offense.

“This ought to be grounds to yank their FCC license,” read one.

“Please help us spread the word that what Fox News is doing... this is not okay and needs to be stopped,” said another.

One of my favorites read: “How did Fox get this information? Public knowledge? From a military personnel? From DOD leak? From Republican politician? From Flynn brothers?”

One bold user demanded: “It’s time to pull the plug on Fox Entertainment in the interests of national security.”

Back to the question of why Fox News would release such information, one user stated: “To let Putin know. But what I’d like to know is who gave FOX that news, if true. The DOJ needs to investigate.”

This user seems to think Fox is under Russian control: “Fox News needs to be taken down at all U.S. military installations. They are spewing Russian propaganda.”

Speaking of Russian propaganda, another user answered, “Because they are essentially Russian TV now.”

Immediately followed by: “Now? All conservative media has been for at least 15 years now.”

Finally, one user posted a meme declaring: “Helping the enemy used to be called treason. Now it’s just called being a Republican.”

Such breathless hyperbole.

There were a lot more, but you get the drift.

The only problem with all this focused anger was that Fox News was only reporting what the Department of Defense released in a statement — what numerous other news outlets also reported.

After all of this clucking indignation, I have just one question: Does anyone think before they post their outrage?

I know everyone hates everyone else these days — in a lot of cases it’s not totally undeserved. But when our hate becomes so automatic that we stop thinking because we just assume, we not only mis-focus our rage but also make ourselves look like idiots. Put another way, we are apparently so polarized that we’re willing to make ourselves look foolish in our rush to make our outrage known.

Evidently, our anger makes us forget we can Google stuff or cross-check information before we react. In recent months, I’ve used this characterization to describe people on the right side of the political spectrum but as our hatred for each other becomes more deeply entrenched, it will apply to the left, too.

I am not a big fan of Fox News. But really, is Fox all that different than CNN or MSNBC albeit with a rightward tilt, rather than left?

You can hate Fox News for any number of reasons. But treason isn’t one of them.

Matthew Meador is a former food and wine writer, senior editor and a rare moderate Republican who now writes political commentary. Previously, Matt was an award-winning graphic artist who often put his skills to use during election seasons. Matt has served in various capacities on political campaigns, for pollsters and for elected officials. Contact him at

Photocomposite © 2022 Mike Philipp via Unsplash

Let it be


It’s that time of the election cycle to again consider: Whether to vote in the Idaho Republican primary if you’re an Idaho non-Republican … or not.

Some significant number do, likely not enough to change the outcomes, but we don’t know for sure. For this year’s primary, with it’s yawning gap between two kinds of Republicans in many races, there’s added urgency.

You can see why non-Republicans - for whom making a quick declaration of party membership is easy enough to do and undo - have an interest in the choice of which Republican will get the nomination for, say, governor. Incumbent Brad Little and challengers like Janice McGeachin are clearly distinctive public actors, and non-Republicans have strong preferences.

But there’s a good argument too for what the chairs of both Idaho political parties have argued: Non-Republicans should let Republicans make their own decisions.

From the perspective of non-Republicans, why should they not opt in?

As non-party members join in the Republican primary, party members feel increasingly frustrated, and this probably has contributed to the almost paranoid reaction we’ve seen in some quarters about who and what is a “real” conservative (or Republican) and who is RINO. The effect has been to push the party to ever more extreme places, and since the coiled energy is strongest in the most extreme quarters, we’ve seen more and more of these people winning GOP primaries, and getting elected.

To the extent non-Republicans feel they’ve exercised their civic duty in the primary, they’re apt to let their attention and energy slide for the general election, which amounts to giving up on Democratic or independent candidates.

But what about the governor’s race, you ask? Or attorney general? Or the second district seat? Don’t they matter?

Yes, Brad Little or Lawrence Wasden or Mike Simpson could lose their primaries. (Not a prediction: The odds of that are another discussion.) If they did, that would mean Idaho Republicans would own the challengers - McGeachin (or another challenger) or Raul Labrador or Bryan Smith. Those candidates either would have to adjust to dealing with a whole constituency (such things have happened in the past) or they could maintain their brand of edgy, which tends not to be a long-lasting formula for political success.

If a group of these people is elected, that would bring Idaho face to face with who and what the Republican Party is and is supporting. And the state could then more effectively decide what to do about that.

Alternatively … Little and Wasden and Simpson may win. If they do it with the support of non-Republicans, they’ll continue to be on the same defensive tenterhooks they’ve been on for years: Derided by the activists as nothing more than RINOs. They will be reluctant to take on positions to please the center and will lean hard right to preserve their support there. (We’ve seen that dynamic playing out regularly with Little and Simpson, not on all issues but on most.) If however they win the primary with a solidly Republican base, they can argue that they have no need to veer any further right: They and not the more extreme agitators are closer to what their party really does want. They could tell their challengers from within the party: You lost. You’re the minority, the outliers, in this party, not me. Get over it.

That actually could have the effect of making them more centrist and broadly-appealing office holders.
That end result would be a lot more positive for non-Republicans than what they have now.

There is another point implicit in all this. If non-Republicans do join en masse in the Republican primary, they’re removing the responsibility - from Republicans - for the choices that party makes. This makes it harder for the non-red community to get its act together in developing a viable alternative.

Vote on primary election day, by all means. But think carefully about how you do it.



It doesn’t come from poppies like good old heroin. It’s a synthetic narcotic that is now widely sold on the street after being cooked up in a dirty warehouse with no chemist overseeing the mixing, no quality control supervisor inspecting the pills. And it’s killing our neighbors and their children as fast as it’s getting them high.

The fact that, milligram for milligram, the synthetic narcotic is 100 times stronger than morphine raises the stakes. Some shoddy mixing before the pills gets stamped could make half the batch lethal and the other half impotent. Or a little too much solvent in the batch might make the usually short acting drug into a long-acting analog. The risks for the folks wanting to get high just shot up.

Last year Idaho saw a doubling of Fentanyl overdose deaths. Nationally, in 2020, all overdose deaths, not just Fentanyl climbed 30% in one year. Over 90,000 US citizens died from drug overdoses that year. One Idaho narcotic treatment company details that 42% of their new patients test positive for fentanyl, over a doubling from the year before.

So, it’s the new drug we need to deal with.

I remember when I first saw the Duragesic patch prescribed for chronic pain. Fentanyl was enclosed in a plastic stick-on patch. The side against the skin was semi-permeable, letting a fixed amount through every hour. It was formulated to last for three days. This product was developed in the 1980’s to treat chronic pain, especially cancer pain, in patients who had become tolerant to oral narcotics. But getting the right dose could be tricky. And many patients described suffering withdrawal symptoms from the high narcotic dose in the third day as the patch dose faded.

You’d think it was safe from abuse, wouldn’t you? Can’t roll up and smoke a plastic patch. But in the 1990’s back when I was a county coroner, I was called to a death scene. The deceased was slumped in the bathroom, the needle still in his arm. There on the washstand next to him was a patch with the corner cut off where he’s rinsed out the fentanyl into the syringe still in his arm. It’s a very fast acting and powerful drug.

But what’s available on the streets now are easier to consume pills for swallowing or smoking. The drug (if it’s fentanyl) quickly attaches to the opioid receptors in our body. If it’s too much, we stop breathing. That’s how we die.

Most people don’t understand that simple but necessary connection in our biology. The signal for pain, which many of us want to avoid at great costs, is closely linked to the signal to breathe.

Fentanyl was and is used regularly in the operating room to block pain. But the anesthetist can control the patients breathing mechanically. And the pharmaceutical grade fentanyl wears off very quickly so the IV drip can be slowed or shut off and the patient can start breathing on their own.

But the street pills being bought and sold, swallowed or smoked, might contain longer acting analogs. Remember, this is warehouse chemistry, no quality ensured. Even scarier, maybe there’s some of the derivative carfentanil in this batch, 100 times more sedating than fentanyl. That makes it 10,000 times as strong as morphine. It’s so strong it was considered for use as a bioweapon. It’s like letting grade school kids play with automatic weapons.

It's a dangerous world we are in. But I hope you folks can all keep breathing. Take a deep breath and commit yourselves to a healthy life, a healthy community.

May we all accept enough pain in our lives to keep us alive.

Not much prescription drug reform


What does it take to get a prescription-drug bill to the U.S. Senate floor?

Not much if you are Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democrats are in control. All he had to do was essentially take warmed-over ideas in the failed Build Back Better Act, put it in the form of a new bill, and it’s done. No need to take it before a committee, where Republicans are sure to muddle it up.

If you are Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and part of the minority party, it’s not so easy.

He has a bill with a nice name (Lower Costs, More Cures Act) that basically is collecting dust in the Senate Finance Committee. The only sure way that bill will see the light of day on the Senate floor is if Republicans regain a majority in the Senate in this year’s mid-term elections and Crapo becomes chairman of the Finance Committee. He sees some hope for bipartisan support, if the bill gets up for committee discussion. But for now, with Democrats in charge, forget about it.

None of that sits well with Idaho’s senior senator, although he shouldn’t be surprised about the politics after serving more than 20 years in the Senate (Republicans are equally obnoxious when they are in control). Crapo recently expressed his frustrations on the Senate floor.

The Sanders’ bill, Crapo said, “is thoroughly unvetted, showing no signs of technical assistance or practical feasibility. It has not received a (Congressional Budget Office) score, or even informal analysis, or a committee hearing. It did not advance through a regular process in the Senate.”

Crapo says all the price controls in Sanders’ bill would change the health care landscape for the worse. “We would move closer to a government-run health care system, where bureaucratic price controls like these would become the norm.”

Crapo says there are “countless” studies showing that massive price controls “would slash new drug discoveries in the years to come, jeopardizing some of the highest-risk projects in particular.”

The senator says he’s all for improving prescription drug access and affordability. “We can agree on that.” But he’s looking more toward “common sense, free-market solutions,” opposed to socialistic price controls.

Crapo has some government price fixing in his bill. He wants to cap out-of-pocket spending for all Medicare Part D enrollees and set the cost of insulin at $35 a month – following up on an executive order issued during the Trump administration. Crapo’s bill also promotes insulin affordability for those in the workforce enrolled in high-deductible health plans.

Kudos to the senator for what he’s trying to accomplish with insulin; there’s no reason why prices should keep skyrocketing. But what Crapo is calling for fits the definition of price fixing – government taking action that the makers of insulin refuse to do on their own.

He also calls for the creation of a new chief pharmaceutical negotiator “who would be tasked with combatting foreign freeloading, ensuring the best trade deals possible for domestic job creators and consumers.”

In other words, it’s another layer of government bureaucracy. Just because a new government program is created doesn’t mean it will work.

And think about who that negotiator would be dealing with: Drug companies that swim in billion-dollar profits and the high-paid lawyers and lobbyists who ensure that the drug companies continue to rake in the dough.

Crapo probably doesn’t spend his evenings watching television, but if he did he would see how the drug-company hucksters are operating. The airwaves are flooded with drug commercials – and not just over-the-counter pain relievers. These are so-called “life-changing drugs” that cost consumers hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars – with each one containing a long list of potentially dangerous side effects.

These are today’s version of cigarette ads, which back in the day glamorized smoking and put hundreds of millions of people into early graves. Today’s drug ads promote pills that people can’t possibly live without – while sending consumers to the poor house in the process.

So, instead of focusing on Democrat or Republican bills that are likely to go nowhere, Congress should take a closer look at those TV ads. Even senators who are as far apart politically as Crapo and Sanders can agree that something needs to be done to contain that form of drug peddling.

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



A couple of fellow opinion writers for Ridenbaugh Press wrote columns last week in their usually fine prose. I’m taking the liberty, in this space, to expand on both.

Conservative opiner Chuck Malloy wrote about the challenge of long service in Congress - specifically the re-election efforts expected from Idaho Second District Congressman Mike Simpson.

Simpson’s entering his 23rd year in that national chair after many years in the Idaho Legislature where he became Speaker of the House near the end of his “local” service to the state.

Much of Malloy’s piece centered on Simpson’s past statements backing the proposed breaching of Snake River dams in a huge - and controversial - effort to save native salmon. That position doesn’t sit well with many farmers and ranchers in Eastern and Southern Idaho.

Malloy seemed to be suggesting Simpson’s position on that single issue could be the Congressman’s downfall with voters. He may well be right. That, and a well-financed Conservative opponent.

Single-issue voters have long been an anathema for politicians. No matter what other positive, constructive work may have been done by the office holder over a long career, one vote on one issue can be their downfall.

Malloy’s piece brought memories of another Idaho politician turned out by voters after lengthy service in Congress.

The late Senator Frank Church held that office for 24 years. He not only represented the interests of Idaho but, through his opposition to the Viet Nam war and wide exposure for work on national intelligence activities, he became well-known. A late-in-his-career unsuccessful run for President also gained him national notoriety. A notoriety that seemed unwelcome to some of the folks back home.

In 1980, there was a resurgence of the Republican Party across the country. Idaho voters dumped Church in favor of a fresh, likeable face in Steve Symms. The Panama vote, and a seemingly unwelcome national platform, just didn’t sit well with conservative Idaho voters.

Many pollsters and Idaho pundits credited that loss to two things. First, Church voted to give the Panama Canal back to Panama - a vote that angered many of the conservatives back home. Second, many voters - especially Republicans - seemed to believe it was time to replace the long-serving, nationally known Senator with someone with deep Idaho roots. Symms was their guy. With deep local roots.

Seems odd that, when you have someone doing the job they were elected to do, serving the state and the country, you decide at some point down the road to end that public servant’s career. Just turn ‘em out because of a single issue vote or because, after years of service, it’s “time for someone new.”

The other opiner, Dr. Dan Schmidt who lives in North Idaho, wrote a column about delusions and people who believe them.

One of his “talking points” was that you can’t get people who believe their delusions are real to accept hard fact. He related, in his medical practice, he’d had patients with delusions and his attempts to understand them. He seemed to be saying, for some, delusions are more real than facts.

As a nation, we’re now dealing with the politics of delusion. “Trumpers,” who’ve become “true believers” in the fraudulent B.S. of Donald Trump, are beyond being convinced of his con game by factual evidence.

DJT appears to be just a step away from one or more civil - and possibly criminal - indictments. There are some 23 investigations underway and it’s expected one or more of them will result in charges - and likely convictions - on one or more counts.

Faced with even that hard - factual evidence - don’t look for “Trumpers” to accept new developments. While it’s true some are falling away, and Donald’s national influence is on the wane, a hardcore of several million Americans will still be counted in his cult.

The delusions Trump constantly spreads are, of course, supported by Faux Neus, One Amurica Neus and other far right sources. So, those deluded are having their delusions reinforced daily. If Hannity, Ingraham or Ducey says it, “Hey folks, it’s gotta be real!”

If, as Dr. Schmidt opines, fact can’t get through delusions, how are we supposed to deal with millions of voters who are delusional?

The answer seems to be, leave ‘em alone and hope their false “reality” will fade along with them. Or, that eventually, they’ll come around and accept new facts. Real facts. If they don’t, so be it. If they do, give ‘em a big welcome!

I hope my fellow Ridenbaugh Press brethren aren’t annoyed with by “piggybacking” their fine works. They’re welcome on my “back” anytime.

Taking back Idaho


Idaho’s primary election day, May 17, may provide cause for great celebration for the many Idahoans who are sick and tired of the ugly politics that have invaded our great State in recent years. There are a number of organizations working to restore civility, honesty and pragmatism to the legislative process in Idaho, including Take Back Idaho.

Take Back Idaho (TBI) is composed of Idahoans from across the political spectrum who know that we are capable of governing ourselves with dignity and common sense. Many are former Republican office-holders–House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, Senate leader Bob Geddes, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, State Treasurer Lydia Justice-Edwards, School Superintendent Jerry Evans and myself. TBI’s President is Jennifer Ellis, a conservative Republican, Blackfoot Rancher and former President of the Idaho Cattle Association. Distinguished educators, legislators and citizens have flocked to its ranks.

The main reason for the sorry state of Idaho politics is the corrosive influence of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), a so-called think tank that draws substantial support from out-of-state interests. By coddling receptive legislators and punishing those who don’t heed its orders, IFF has established a firm grip over the votes of too many GOP legislators. Divisiveness and dysfunction have replaced pragmatism and civility.

One case in point is a $6 million federal grant for early childhood education that IFF’s legislative minions in the House tanked last year. The funds would have provided education for children up to the age of five and child care relief for working parents. Senators Risch and Crapo strongly supported the program, as did the business community. IFF bizarrely contended the program would indoctrinate preschoolers with critical race theory (CRT). Legislators blindly loyal to IFF followed its instructions, refusing to accept the readily available funds.

Within the last couple of days, IFF has sent out mass messaging to voters, targeting legislators who supported the program, ridiculously claiming it “pushes critical race theory” on Idaho toddlers. IFF and its captive legislators have flat failed to prove their false claims that CRT exists in Idaho’s public schools. It is simply hateful misinformation designed to discredit public education. The legislators who should be targeted for buying into this nonsense are those who voted against the funding, including Reps. Ron Nate, Judy Boyle, Karey Hanks, Rick Christensen, Heather Scott, Priscilla Giddings, Ron Mendive and Barbara Ehardt.

TBI hopes to persuade May primary voters to replace these IFF-controlled legislators with honest, sensible legislators who will answer solely to their constituents–to elect individuals dedicated to funding and improving our public schools, rather than trying to destroy them–to work together to solve our chronic problems, rather than inventing imaginary problems to score cheap political points.

TBI has set up a website––which provides information on legislative candidates and important issues. It has also established a Political Action Committee to fund voter education and candidate support. If TBI can help take the Legislature back from the firm grip of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its legislative acolytes, Idaho may once again be blessed with a bright and harmonious future.

Voter support across the State is sufficient to do the job. There is great hunger throughout the State to get back to the business of responsible governing. It is absolutely critical for each and every voter in the State to make themselves heard in the Republican primary on or before May 17. Those wishing to vote must immediately check the registration requirements, either through their county clerk or the Office of the Secretary of State.

Unfit for a crown


What do a Washington-state beauty queen and several Southern rednecks have in common?

It’s not a joke, although it sounds like the beginning of a bad one. Unfortunately, the answer to the question is even worse than a bad joke: the beauty queen and the rednecks are lily-white yet they believe it’s just fine, thank you very much, to use the n-word.

That ugly word’s deep-seated aura of hatred and despair should see it banished forever from the American lexicon. But, no, white-skinned bigots, dullards and rubes all across the land believe it’s theirs to use.

In a country with a robust record of defending free speech — even awful speech — why is this one term dangerously problematic? Two words: Ahmaud Arbery. Wait. Considering the countless other Black men who suffered fates similar to Arbery’s, it’s a whole lot more than two words.

Although known for my occasional blue language, I do maintain a short list of words I simply won’t say, ever. The n-word is one of those. I won’t even quote someone else saying it, although I wanted to for this column because the word is so jarring. If I’d used it here, I would’ve hoped to evoke the disgust I feel when people like Washington-state beauty queens and Southern rednecks use it.

The reigning Miss Teen Washington ignited all manner of controversy when a video of her using the n-word resurfaced last week. Seventeen-year-old Kate Dixon is set to represent the state of Washington at the upcoming Miss Teen USA pageant, but increasing voices on social media are calling for her expulsion from the competition.

The TikTok video shows Dixon and a friend singing a vulgar audio track and using the n-word. The video has received nearly 8 million views.

I won’t attempt to defend a privileged, immature white girl who believes she can say that word. Not even when it was three years ago when she said it at age 14 — c’mon, it’s been common knowledge among youth that such slurs were absolutely unacceptable way before 2018.

Dixon’s rambling semi-apology spoke volumes about her lack of understanding how this one word can cut. Frankly, I have great difficulty believing her lengthy apology — Dixon spent way more time trying to explain and blame the slur away than she did in humble remorse. I believe she’s lying. She was caught.

Do I believe Dixon regrets saying the n-word? Of course she regrets it. But, in my opinion, her regret is tied directly to the difficulty she’s experiencing in the court of public opinion and the threat to her crown. I do not believe she is mature enough to understand the deep and ancient hurt her casual and privileged use of that word can cause. Maybe someday, but not today.

Then there was the evidence submitted this week in the federal hate crimes trial of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, the trio who ambushed a Black jogger and killed him.

On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. As Arbery ran, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael and their neighbor, William “Roddie” Bryan, decided Arbery was a thief so they pursued him, then unlawfully detained him before shooting Arbery three times as the unarmed Black man tried to defend himself. Blessedly, Bryan recorded the entire series of crimes on his cell phone.

The trio was convicted of felony murder, aggravated assault and other charges. The McMichaels were sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole plus 20 years. Bryan got life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Last week, these three bigots were tried on federal hate crimes charges. Naturally, defense counsel tried to play down and explain away damning evidence submitted by prosecutors but no intelligent adult could interpret the trio’s own words as anything other than hate-filled.

When text messages and social media posts by Travis McMichael and Bryan were read in court, their bigoted language was shockingly coarse enough to earn a courtroom warning from prosecutors beforehand. Even the defense was forced to acknowledge the unusually nasty nature of the bigots’ own words.

Bryan and McMichael used racist words routinely. All three publicly supported vigilantism. The junior McMichael disliked Black people intensely enough to wish them dead. He referred to Black people as “animals,” “criminals,” “monkeys” and “subhuman savages.” An overweight Black woman was the “walrus.” All three men used the n-word liberally.

Sorry, folks, that’s hate. But as repugnant as this case is, there’s a little poetic justice in using a defendant’s own words to illustrate just how he feels about things. The McMichaels and Bryan made their (eventually fatal) feelings crystal clear.

Now, I hope it’s obvious I am not equating a privileged, ignorant, white teenage girl with armed redneck bigots looking for a fight. Yes, one is far worse than the other. Nevertheless, cavalier use of racist words is arguably an open door to the bigoted way of life. Put another way, one of the first practices of a foolish youth who will eventually become a hardened adult bigot is liberal use of racist language.

It boils down to this: white people, you cannot say the n-word. Not even if you have friends who say it. Not even if you have friends of color who say it. Not even if you’re quoting someone else. Not even if you’re singing along with a rap song. You can’t say it. Ever.

You do not understand the hundreds-year history of hatred and despair that word evokes for so many Black Americans. You do not understand it and you could not possibly understand it without living it. White people do not get to say that word.

Still, sometimes oafish white people vomit out words of pain because they don’t realize those terms cut people who have lived decidedly different lives. And sometimes those outbursts are just stupid gaffes — words of the clueless that, nevertheless, can be occasionally transformed into teachable moments.

As I’ve pointed out more than once, radical change has always relied upon attrition to achieve its end. But while attrition sees the bitter holdouts literally drop dead, the process is ponderously slow and, well, not particularly satisfying from any perspective other than the cynical. Nevertheless, I do believe redemption is possible for some.

Redemption? Yeah, remember that? Redemption was that thing where we allowed people to humbly atone for their mis-steps, blunders and moral lapses back before we decided canceling them was both more fun and more satisfying now that we’ve learned to wield social media like a cudgel.

In the end, I have little sympathy for the Washington-state beauty queen and the Southern rednecks. None have demonstrated humility or heartfelt contrition.

Is redemption possible for people like Dixon? Sure, but, for her, it’s probably not going to come without some maturity and a genuine effort at empathy. And the queen may yet lose her crown.

What about the McMichaels and Bryan? Even they are not beyond redemption but their atonement — if it ever happens — will take place where it belongs, behind prison walls.

Redemption is one thing. Justice is quite another.

Matthew Meador is a former food and wine writer, senior editor and a rare moderate Republican who now writes political commentary. Previously, Matt was an award-winning graphic artist who often put his skills to use during election seasons. Matt has served in various capacities on political campaigns, for pollsters and for elected officials. Contact him at

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