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Posts published in “Malloy”

Gunfight at the N.Y. Corral

malloy

It might seem strange for an Idaho congressman to get involved with gun laws in New York. But it’s not surprising when that congressman is Russ Fulcher, who will dive into almost anything when he thinks that Second Amendment rights are at stake.

Fulcher has joined a host of House Republicans who, along with the New York Rifle and Pistol Association, are challenging the state’s restrictive licensing regulations.

“It is deeply upsetting to hear about how New York, and not just New York but many other states as well, have begun to chip away at one of our most fundamental rights – the right to defend ourselves and our families,” Fulcher says.

The domino theory comes into play here as far as gun advocates are concerned. Any number of states could follow what New York does with gun laws.

But the situation with the licensing laws (pardon the pun) is “small potatoes” compared to what’s happening with the National Rifle Association in New York.

Attorney General Letitia James was elected in 2018 on the promise to bring down the NRA and she’s made life uncomfortable for the powerful lobbying organization. She has challenged (among other things) the NRA’s non-profit status and the NRA has responded with a slew of measures to ensure its house is in order. But court activity is a long way from being over.

According to Andrew Arulanandam, a longtime spokesman for the lobbying organization, there are other forces working against the NRA – including President Biden and the Democrats who control both houses of Congress.

“We’re not under siege because we did anything wrong … we have done everything right,” said Arulanandam. “Over the years, a very powerful political force has tried to bring us down. It includes Michael Bloomberg who embarked on a gun-control crusade. He has spent billions of dollars trying to bring us down and defeat us at the congressional level, the state level and in the courts. And we have prevailed through all of that.”

Arulanandam is no stranger to Idaho politics. He’s a Boise State University graduate and worked on the staffs and campaigns for former Sen. (and Gov.) Dirk Kempthorne. He has been with the NRA for more than 20 years.

The NRA bills itself as a non-partisan organization, but in realistic terms, it’s attractive only to Republicans. The NRA is in the center of controversy, and often viewed as a scapegoat, whenever a mass shooting occurs. What follows those events are the usual calls for more laws, along with the NRA’s well-worn response that law-abiding citizens are not to blame.

Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who has been on the NRA’s board of directors since 1982, has seen dramatic changes at the board level. The “Blue Dog” Democrats from the south, who were supporters of the NRA, have been replaced by Republicans and the Democrats of today are nowhere to be found within in the NRA ranks.

“Over the years, the Democratic Party found guns to be a winning issue for them,” Craig said. Today, if you are endorsing the Democratic platform, then you’ve got to be anti-gun. Has the NRA changed during that time? No. What I like to say is that we are the largest civil rights organization out there – standing up for the rights guaranteed in our constitution.”

The New York politicos have a quite different view. Arulanandam says that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for one, has made it clear that those who do business with the NRA, will not do business with the state of New York.

“People started dropping us, even though it was a clear violation of the First Amendment,” Arulanandam said. “That’s what Cuomo did, and he was applauded by the media. So, we are up against the New York political machine. Added to that, there’s a Biden administration that is extremely hostile toward guns. That’s cause for concern for gun owners across the country and in Idaho.”

Arulanandam says the NRA is fighting back, with the help of supporters. “We have strength in numbers – about five-million dues-paying members and more than 100-million gun owners.”

Craig sees New York’s case against the NRA weakening and, eventually, the organization will settle into a friendlier home in Texas. “The attack in New York should be seen for what it is. It’s a political stunt.”

And it’s a “stunt” that could lead James to the governorship if the stars line up right.

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

McGeachin and the vaccines

malloy

Breaking news from Lt. Gov. (and Republican gubernatorial candidate) Janice McGeachin:

If you received a COVID vaccine within the last 28 days, there’s a good chance that you will die soon. So, get your estate planning in order, your life insurance policy paid up and make a visit to your local funeral-home director for final arrangements.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here … Yikes!

That’s no joke, according to McGeachin’s recent newsletter. She says that 69.49 percent of people who have died within 28 days of a positive COVID test were fully vaccinated and she’s calling on Gov. Brad Little to pay attention to those numbers.

Of course, this isn’t something coming from the Centers for Disease Control or the National Institutes of Health – government agencies that those of McGeachin’s ilk think are controlled by communists and socialists. Her findings don’t come from health experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And there’s no consultation with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, or Idaho hospital administrators who have been dealing with the coronavirus for the last year and a half.

McGeachin’s “study” comes from the British Health Ministry, which bases its numbers on just over 1,000 fully-vaccinated patients in the UK – with almost 70 percent dying after a positive COVID test. Her release doesn’t say they died as a result of COVID, or a vaccine – they just died. The Post Register found several health and research experts who lampooned the lieutenant governor’s findings, calling them “misleading.”

But those numbers from far-away lands is enough for McGeachin to issue a call to action, which starts with the governor bringing the Legislature back into session to stop companies (and hospital administrators) from forcing employees to get vaccines.

“Governor Little, you’ve now been given notice of this issue,” she says. “The CDC is planning to release updated guidance on a third dose of the vaccine, because its efficiency is rapidly declining. The consequences of this are playing out in a nightmare scenario in Israel. What good is a vaccine if you need to take boosters every six to 12 months?”

Lately, the governor has been involved with other tasks – such as directing the National Guard to help hospitals that are overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID patients. He also gives a pitch to Idahoans to get vaccinated.

“Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained,” Little says. “Our health care system is designed to deal with the everyday realities of life. Our health care system is not designed to withstand the prolonged strain caused by an unrestrained global pandemic. It is simply not sustainable. Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans who need you.”

Those words are no comfort to McGeachin, who labels the governor’s pitch as “shameful.” She points to another study that suggests that natural COVID immunity is “far superior” to the immunity gained by the vaccine.

“Now for the big question: Why is Governor Little allowing companies to force-vaccinate Idahoans when the data is clear that they may be significantly worse off health-wise if they get vaccinated? People have a right to be skeptical about getting vaxxed. It’s a personal choice and I don’t believe the government, or any other private entity, should be forcing people to take a chance that bypassed all the normal safety and testing procedures, which often take years to properly conduct,” McGeachin says.

“If we allow these companies to force-vaccinate their employees, and we know the vaccine could increase mortality over that of an unvaccinated person, then every politician who allows this should be made accountable. Government’s job is to stop such an injustice and now it appears our governor is allowing it to happen with his blessing.”

For those who have been vaccinated, she says, “we need to monitor their health and make sure they are properly taken care of like we do for any other Idaho citizen.”

It’s easy to sneer and jeer at McGeachin, if you have been vaccinated and have no regrets. She isn’t going to win arguments with that crowd, which doesn’t necessarily vote in primaries.

The base that she is playing to – those who put her a heartbeat from the governor’s office in 2018 -- vote religiously in primary elections.
 

Malek’s campaign

malloy

I have talked with a few people who are hoping that former state Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d’Alene would drop out of the race for lieutenant governor, clearing the way for House Speaker Scott Bedke to win the race in next year’s Republican primary.

It’s not that people dislike Malek, or have a strong preference toward Bedke. The fear is that Malek and Bedke will split the vote – giving the GOP nomination, and essentially the office, to Rep. Priscilla Giddings of White Bird, a strong supporter of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and a favorite of the party’s right wing. It’s the same conservative tide that helped Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin win in 2018.

Malek is fully aware of recent political history, but his message is clear. He’s in the race to stay and thinks he has a path to win the nomination. He was the first to announce for the office, and sees his support growing as he travels the Gem State.
There’s no need to back out now.

“There are always ‘what ifs’ with almost any campaign,” Malek said. “But I would bring positive leadership to the office and I think Idahoans are ready for that. I’m the only candidate who brings a vision for that office.”

Of course, voters will need to decide how much vision they want for an otherwise mundane office. Constitutionally, the job description can be boiled down to a sentence – preside over the Senate when the Legislature is in session and serve as “acting governor” when the real governor is out of town.

Beyond that, Malek wants to be an advocate for law enforcement, help spur economic development and promote education. Giddings, a leader in the battle against the teaching of critical race theory, is sure to fight for the causes promoted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation and others. Bedke would play a more traditional role, working as a partner with the governor (if Gov. Brad Little wins re-election) and using the position as a nice landing spot until he runs for governor in 2026.

The IFF, and those of Giddings’ ilk, have issues with Bedke (for not calling the Legislature in a special session to ban vaccine mandates) and Malek (for being too liberal). Malek has made it clear over the years that he’s no fan of the IFF and argues that he is the “true conservative” in the race.

“True conservatives stand for smaller government,” he says in a fund-raising letter. “True conservatives don’t tell employers how to run their businesses. True conservatives understand that employers and employees both have to take personal responsibility for the choices they make.”

Malek takes a swipe at McGeachin and others for their demands for a special session. Bedke, not surprisingly, has ignored those calls.

“If employers make decisions that violate the principles of employees, those employees have the right to leave,” Malek says. “If employees make decisions that violate the principles of an employer, the employer has the power to terminate that employee.”

Generally, those are the rules of the road in an “at-will” state. Employers can fire employees for any reason – and up to now there has been no sentiment among Republicans to change those parameters.

“True conservatives don’t call on the Legislature to come back and violate all of those principles,” Malek says.

Those comments are not the mark of a candidate that is about to drop out of a political race. At 39 years old, and with most of our top leaders pretty long in the tooth, Malek thinks it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders.

We’ll see what the future holds.

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

Afghanistan bashing

malloy

Republicans are having a field day going after President Biden … and to think, we’re more than a year away until the mid-term elections.

The president already has been catching heat from the GOP on his proposed $3.5 trillion spending spree that’s before Congress, which has provided plenty of press-release fodder for Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo. Risch has branded the plan as an attempt by Biden and Democrats to turn the U.S. into a socialist nation. Crapo has called the plan “reckless.” Being in the minority, there’s not much Risch and Crapo can do to stop that Democratic steamroller, aside from expressing their objections and casting “no” votes.

But the spending package is, excuse the pun, small potatoes compared to the president’s recent actions in Afghanistan. And not all the heat has come from the GOP side, although Republicans have been quite vocal.

Risch, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the president’s action was taken “without any clear plan to protect our interests, our citizens and our closest friends.” Afghanistan will now serve as a future platform for terrorist attacks against the United States and allies.

“The Taliban always has and always will be a terrorist organization, and it will support al Qaeda’s re-emergence. We cannot treat it or its leaders as a legitimate government,” Risch said. “The situation at the Kabul airport only highlights how little thought the Biden administration put into taking care of American interests. President Biden and his administration must answer for this disaster. It didn’t have to be this way.”

Crapo said the “haphazard withdrawal” from Afghanistan “is a failure of presidential leadership and was based on an arbitrary timeline, not on-the-ground intelligence.”

Former President Trump weighed in, calling Biden’s action “an embarrassment.” Of course, there’s no guarantee that Trump – who wanted American troops out by May 1, would have produced a better result. He talks tough about what he would do with the Taliban, but any kind of retaliation would have been tough with American troops getting out of Dodge4. One thing that is fairly certain is that Idaho senators would have put the best spin on the situation if Trump’s exit plan had failed.

But political speculation only counts in coffee shops. Whether Trump would have done better or worse is a matter of debate for the television talking heads. Biden has to live in real time and should be judged accordingly.

One point that most people seem to agree with is that withdrawal needed to happen at some point – whether it was May 1, or today.

“President Biden is right to call for an end to the 20-year war,” said former Idaho Democratic Congressman Larry LaRocco. “Like the English and Russians before us, we were viewed as invaders and occupiers. This perception fueled the national will of the Taliban. Our mission in Afghanistan ended with Bin Laden’s death. President Biden kept his word. The focus on counter-terrorism, humanitarian relief and refugees must now begin in concert with the world community.”

But did it have to be this messy? The president expressed “surprise” that the Taliban worked so rapidly in taking over Afghanistan. This revelation came from a man who served eight years as vice president and a long career in the Senate overseeing foreign policy.

Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, for one, isn’t buying the president’s explanation.
“He miscalculated? We saw them riding to Kabul on their horses. Hell, you could see the dust clouds on the horizon. They were coming – and in many ways, they are still that primitive,” Craig said. “For (Biden) not to know, not to be informed, not to have advanced with his military a strategy to require a staged exit before the military is unbelievable. It’s not just unbelievable, but inexcusable.”

Craig, a Trump supporter, thinks the former president would have handled the situation better – working with the military and others to produce a more graceful exit strategy.

“If this style of exit happened under Trump, you can rest assured that I would be every bit as critical. This was a boondoggle under the first order,” Craig said.
And one that will live in infamy – or at least until the mid-term elections.

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

The Critchfield argument

malloy

Officially, State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra is undecided about seeking a third term, spending her energies preparing for the start of a new school year.

Debbie Critchfield, a Republican candidate who is vying for Ybarra’s job, assumes that the state superintendent is running again and is campaigning accordingly. Critchfield, a former president of the State Board of Education and no fan of Ybarra, thinks she has the leadership skills to move Idaho public schools in a better direction.

A third candidate, Brandon Durst – a former Democratic state representative who aligns himself with the right wing of the GOP – gives Republican primary voters a wide range of options in next year’s election.

Critchfield says eight years of Ybarra is enough. Critchfield is a communications officer with the Cassia County schools and was a school board member there for 10 years. She served seven years on the state board and two of those years as president -- enough time to observe Ybarra’s job performance.

“I spent seven years at the state-education table and had a front row seat on setting policies and everything associated to assist schools,” said Critchfield. “Although the work has been satisfying, I have been frustrated with the response from our elected official (Ybarra) with the lack of cohesiveness and lack of thinking and the lack of partnership between the appointed board and an elected official. I think, overall, the state system has suffered from that fractured relationship. And I feel that over the last seven years, education has fallen flat at the state level.”

Critchfield has heard plenty of complaints about the superintendent, including missing important meetings, going lengthy periods of time away from the office, a poor working relationship with Republican legislators and generally being ignored by administrators and teachers throughout the state. Ybarra, no doubt, will have a different perspective if she goes for a third term. But Critchfield says the critics are on solid ground.

“I repeatedly hear from school officials that they are looking for leadership and support. They are looking for a state superintendent who will be their advocate and champion. It doesn’t take the form of micromanaging, that’s not my style. But along the way, you develop a plan, determine how much money it’s going to cost and the expected results. Then, you take that to the Legislature. I have not seen that kind of action from (Ybarra) over the last seven years,” Critchfield says.

“When you have a person who can work with the Legislature, the governor, the state board and other stakeholders, you have cohesiveness and efficiency in the system,” she said. “People are frustrated with the lack of progress. For instance, 85 percent of students take some sort of dual credit (for college), but only 40 percent go to college. I can go through every category and tell you exactly where the problem is. We don’t have anybody serving that critical role right now – saying here’s the plan and here’s how we’re going to do it.”

She takes a relatively safe stand on three hot-button issues – the wearing of masks (let local districts decide), vaccine requirements (parents should decide) and Critical Race Theory (more discussion is needed).

On CRT, she says, “School officials are saying that it’s not being taught, but that’s not enough. This is an issue that people are talking about and want to hear about, so let’s address it. In the end, it’s either a bigger problem than we thought, or not much of a problem at all.”

Politically, Critchfield has a tough task going against an incumbent who is an effective public speaker with a proven ability to win over Republican voters. Ybarra has been more vulnerable in general elections, winning both of her races by razor-thin margins.

Crutchfield thinks she can win by more convincing numbers in November elections.
“What do we have to show in seven years under her? Nothing,” Critchfield says. I know the codes and pressure points, and I have developed relationships statewide. I would be ready to go from Day 1.”

With Idaho at, or near, the bottom of a number of education categories, Critchfield will have no shortage of talking points about the issues facing public schools.

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

Zero-based budgeting

malloy

Here’s something that I never thought I’d see – Idaho Republican Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo embracing a failed policy from the Carter administration for bringing spending under control.

And they managed to drag a few other Republican senators into the fray, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Braun of Indiana.

The magic bullet for curbing the $28 trillion debt? Zero-based budgeting, or as one Capitol Hill veteran put it many years ago, “Zip, Boom, Bang.” ZBB basically was laughed out of Washington and dubbed a nutty idea after Carter implemented it in the 1970s – and federal spending was a mere two-headed monster. Now, with the federal budget turned into the Planet of the Apes by comparison, it’s Republicans are leading the way on ZBB.

Risch introduced the Zero-Based Budget Act, which he says would cut wasteful spending by requiring government agencies to justify their spending levels every six years with a zero-based budget, and propose a reduction in expenditures by 2 percent.
“Congress must address its reckless spending problem,” Risch says. “The Zero-Based Budget Act will require agencies to produce a budget which clearly outlines potential cuts to reduce the growing national debt so we won’t leave future generations footing the bill.”

Spoiler alert: His bill is going nowhere during this Congress and progressive Democrats will not sign onto that plan. But Republicans will continue expressing frustrations over spending.

“Our current fiscal crisis is unsustainable,” says Crapo. “I remain committed to restoring the federal budget to balance and the Zero-Based Budget Act would require scrutiny and justification of every program funded by the American taxpayer.”

Crapo is right about spending levels being unsustainable. But considering all the years he has served on budget and finance committees that he’d come up with something more cerebral than “Zip, Boom, Bang.”

Cruz, mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024 (if former President Trump does not run), puts a political spin on the situation. “The out-of-control spending and unrestricted expansion of our bloated federal government by this administration, aided by congressional Democrats, is causing an inflation crises – just one of the many crises facing American families and small businesses today. I’m proud to join with Sen. Risch to protect taxpayers from the burden of big government policies by forcing bureaucrats to routinely assess and cut inefficient or redundant government spending from their budgets. The Zero-Based Budget Act is a common-sense step toward reining in government spending and returning to fiscal sanity.”

The idea of zero-based budgeting produces nice political rhetoric and it worked brilliantly for Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976. In a practical application, it worked horribly. Zero-based budgeting did little to curb discretionary spending, caused massive amounts of bureaucratic paperwork and created a “use-it-or-lose-it” mentality for agency heads during the end of fiscal years.

The Republican senators have every right to be concerned about run-away spending under President Biden’s watch. But over the years, Republican presidents – from Reagan to Trump – have not been able to bring federal spending under control. There’s a lot of blame to go around for the $28 trillion debt.

Risch, Crapo and Cruz have been around long enough to know that discretionary spending – as much as it is growing with Democrats in charge – is only a small part of the problem. Roughly two-thirds of the budget, which includes Social Security and Medicare, is on auto-pilot and there’s no political appetite on either side of the aisle to make changes for future generations. So, the debt will keep growing even if Congress eliminated discretionary spending entirely. And members of Congress will continue to complain about too much spending.

It’s good that Cruz has been brought into the fold on the ZBB debate. If he runs for president, maybe he will look beyond warmed-over ideas from the Carter era and come up with a workable plan for putting the nation’s fiscal house in order.

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

That BLM nominee

malloy

For most of us, sins from 32 years ago generally don’t have much relevance in our lives today. But there are rare instances when a person can’t walk away from a “mistake” from the distant past.

Folks who were around during the tree-spiking controversy in the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho in 1989 would tell the politicians that anyone who had anything to do with this twisted form of eco-terrorism – no matter how slight the involvement might have been – should not be directing the Bureau of Land Management.

Yet, with Senate confirmation looming (possibly before the summer break on Aug. 9), Tracy Stone-Manning is about to take her place as the director of the agency that manages one in every 10 acres in the U.S. and about 30 percent of the nation’s minerals. The BLM manages nearly 65 million acres of forests and woodlands across 12 western states and Alaska.

With 63 percent of Idaho being on federal lands, there is no question about the importance of the BLM to the Gem State. Sen. Jim Risch describes the BLM as a “good agency” and said in a recent letter to President Biden that “any individual who leads this important agency must have the faith and trust of the American people. Ms. Stone-Manning has violated this trust.”

There’s little suspense how this will shake out in the Senate. Democrats will vote for confirmation, Republicans will vote against and Vice President Kamala Harris will break the tie, thus giving the job to Stone-Manning.

Stone-Manning didn’t drive spikes into the trees and she probably had nothing to do with the organizing and planning of the effort, aimed at stopping logging. But she has acknowledged that she retyped and sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service warning that 500 pounds of spikes had been jammed into the trees of every Idaho forest.

That’s too close to the crime scene. As you can imagine, the letter scared the bejeebers of forest managers and loggers. Serious injury or death can be the result when a saw blade hits those spikes.

“What happens when the saw hits this spike is what happens in a war when a hand grenade goes off,” said Risch, a leading opponent of Stone-Manning’s confirmation.
Democrats say that stuff happened 32 years ago. Stone-Manning has spent most of her adult life and career achieving solutions to western land and water issues and has never condoned actions that could injure anyone.

Good for her. However, some of the spikes from the 1989 incident are still in the trees and it’s understandable that no one in their right mind will risk life to touch those trees with a saw. Risch, for one, is not willing to let bygones be bygones, or dismiss the incident 32 years ago as a childish prank.

“This is not a mistake,” he said. “A mistake is when you reach in your sock drawer and you take out two socks that don’t match. This is a knowing, willful, intentional act done with a black, abandoned, and malignant heart, intended to kill a fellow human being.”

As for Stone-Manning, Risch said, “this woman was deeply involved and the fact that she has tried to minimize her involvement, I get that. Most criminals do that. But we have clear evidence that she was deeply involved. Not only evidence from third parties, but herself where she admits she wrote this letter.”

Risch told his colleagues that Stone-Manning shouldn’t be in front of a committee for confirmation to a major post; she belongs in front of a jury, explaining her actions.

“My friends, look, if you want to confirm her, you absolutely can,” Risch said. “But believe me, this stain on this administration will last for the next three and a half years.”

And the confirmation is being delivered by Democrats – the bastions for integrity and high ethical standards … the party that wants to investigate Donald Trump every time he sneezes.

Go figure.

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

Powerful still

malloy

Like it or not – and there are a lot of people who won’t like this – the Idaho Freedom Foundation is the most powerful lobbying group in Idaho.

There isn’t even a close second. In fact, I know of no group over the last 35 years that can come near to the power of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. The IFF certainly isn’t the best-liked, or most respected, group by any means; those in the political world either love or hate Wayne Hoffman’s organization. But there is no question about the lobbying group’s astounding level of power and influence.

Rep. Pricilla Giddings of White Bird, a candidate for lieutenant governor, uses her 100 percent voting record with the IFF as a bragging point in her campaign. Getting a perfect voting record with the IFF takes some doing. Hoffman’s team floods legislators with their positions on issues along with a scoring system attached to positive (or negative) votes. To attain a perfect voting record, a legislator has to absorb all the information, discard anything that might come up in a debate and vote according to the wishes of the IFF.

It’s legislators selling their souls to a lobbying group. Every single time the IFF takes a stand on a bill.

Giddings isn’t alone. Rep. Chad Christensen of Iona also has a 100 percent voting record, four others are at 99 percent; 12 are 90 percent or above and 16 are 80 percent or above.

Now, that’s power. And those at the top of the food chain seem to treat IFF memos as something that comes from the Bible. That’s double power – but nothing compared to what you’d see if Lt. Janice McGeachin wins the governor’s race and Giddings gets in as lieutenant governor. If that happens, we might as well shut down all the state agencies and turn over the whole operation to Hoffman & Co.

For sure, that would mean job security for quite a few editorial writers. And maybe it would be added life to Hoffman, who seems to thrive on media controversy.

Not surprisingly, the IFF comes under attack quite a bit – from people such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder, former Attorney General Jim Jones and legislators both past and present. Recently the Idaho Capital Sun, an online news outlet, produced a series of articles investigating the IFF and saying, among other things, that the organization is breaking non-profit laws through extensive lobbying.

“I think of the Idaho Freedom Foundation as a lobbyist for liberty,” says Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls, the organization’s vice president. “The only ones really complaining about the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the Idaho Freedom Index are Republicans who say they’re conservative to get elected but vote like Democrats once in office.”

These opinion pieces and negative stories are hits with IFF detractors. But supporters, who may view Redoubt News as the most trusted source in reporting, are left yawning. Hoffman, an old newspaper veteran, doesn’t take these things lying down, often coming down hard on those who produce negative material about the IFF. He labels Winder as a threat to democracy, Jones as dishonest and dismisses the Capital Sun as a “propaganda” factory.

“If it’s a negative article about the Idaho Freedom Foundation or a conservative officeholder, you can bet the Idaho Capital Sun will write it and your local newspaper will run it,” Hoffman says.

As for the media in general, he says, “Most of what you read in the Idaho media is not real journalism. It’s just hot air designed to undermine Idaho’s conservative values, organizations, and politicians. Don’t believe it.”

It all works out to Hoffman’s advantage. If conflicts with the media help the IFF raise money, then there’s some loot coming through the front door. He’s taking a victory lap.

“I must say, you should be flattered,” he tells his supporters. “If principled conservatives like you and me weren’t making a difference – if we weren’t a threat to the socialist agenda in Idaho – no one would run advertisements, write hit pieces and file meritless complaints against us.”

For whatever the reason, Idaho Freedom Foundation’s power seems to grow with every election and its coalition in the Legislature keeps getting larger with each session. It’s apparent that Hoffman and the conservative/libertarian think tank he has built will be around for a long time – for better, or for worse.

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

Health and death

maloy

Talking with Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher about his recent cancer diagnosis a couple of weeks ago hit home with me. In many ways, being lucky is better than being good.

The congressman’s cancer was discovered in conjunction with a routine physical examination. Fulcher, who normally is a ball of energy, just happened to mention to his doctor that he was not feeling at his normal high-octane level.

The revelation probably saved his life. His doctor ordered some tests and renal cancer was discovered. Fulcher says it’s all treatable and everything will be fine.

I was in a similar situation almost 17 years ago, although my circumstance was related to my heart (and diabetes), opposed to cancer. During a routine checkup, I told my doctor that I was experiencing shortness of breath during my regular workouts on my exercise bike – nothing big, just something that I have noticed over time. My doctor referred me to a cardiologist, and a few days later, I was getting five-way heart bypass surgery.

Looking back, I came close to not telling my doctor anything – a decision that would have put me in a graveyard 16 years ago. Look at me now. I just turned 71 years old and typically walk four or five miles a day, play golf during the spring and summer and bowl during the cold months. As a bonus, I’m still writing my regular political columns, which is my twisted way of “having fun.”

So I have no doubt that Russ – who compared to me is a young whipper snapper at 59 – is going to be fine. I’d say chances are strong that he will be serving in Congress for at least some time after I hang up my keyboard.

But he’s the first to say that he won’t be the same Russ Fulcher that we’ve always known – or the same guy he knows. His goals include being a better legislator, a better person and one who has more compassion toward people dealing with cancer. A few of his perspectives will change, no doubt.

Diabetes certainly has changed my outlook. Over the years, I have spoken to various groups to promote awareness of this “silent killer” and have participated in events in Washington, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. A couple of weeks ago, as an early birthday present, I was named to the board of directors for Diabetes Alliance of Idaho, which is focused on diabetes education and prevention.

So, what does this have to do with politics? Everything.

Finding a cure for diabetes depends on continued congressional funding for the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health. Politics comes to the forefront during discussions over the cost of insulin, or the listing of calorie counts on menu items.

With COVID-19, diabetes has been pushed to the background some, but it remains as a major health crisis both nationally and in Idaho – with an estimated 132,000 having diabetes and more than 100,000 with this ticking time bomb called pre-diabetes.

We’ll see in time where Fulcher’s passion takes him, but he’s a pretty decent guy to begin with. He’s not one of these members of Congress who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth – coming from a rich family and turning his privileged fortunes into a lofty political career. Russ grew up on a dairy farm and spent his life, in and out of politics, working his tail off. He’s an easy guy to chat with and relate to – even for those who might not agree with him down the line politically. Stay tuned to an “improved” version.

What he should realize is that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence – it’s just something he has to deal with for a while. I’ve had my share of complications and challenges with diabetes over the last 20-plus years, but it has not been a death sentence.

I couldn’t imagine having a better life. I may be into the fourth quarter, but there’s still a good amount of time left on the clock.

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