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Posts published in November 2020

Honoring our veterans


Veterans Day 2020 has come and gone, but we should keep America’s veterans in our hearts year-round, particularly as we give thanks for our many blessings on Thanksgiving Day. One way to express thanks is to memorialize the names of veterans who have served above and beyond the call of duty. Congress is on the verge of providing an opportunity to do just that.

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021 will likely receive approval in early December. It calls for removal of the names of Confederate Generals from U.S. military bases. The Army would have three years to rename 10 Army bases currently bearing the names of seditious officers. There are some remarkable Idaho heroes whose names should be considered.

Ralph Sword of Boise has asked Idaho’s Congressional delegation to help change the name of Fort Benning in Georgia to Fort Vernon Baker. The base was named during Jim Crow days for a Confederate Civil War General who strongly opposed the abolition of slavery. On the other hand, Vernon Baker, an African American hero of World War Two, was a loyal citizen of the United States during his entire 90 years.

When Baker first tried to enlist in the Army in 1941, he was turned away because of the color of his skin. He persisted and later earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for, as stated in his citation, “extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy.” His citation describes how Baker single-handedly wiped out three machine gun positions and several other enemy emplacements in a suicide mission against a German strong point at Castle Aghinolfi.

The Medal of Honor was not actually awarded until January 1997--more than a half century late, due to Baker’s skin color. His other honors include a Silver Star, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Baker was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and lost his parents in an auto accident when he was four years old. He learned to hunt out of necessity--to put food on the table. His love of hunting brought him to live in Idaho in 1986, which was his home until he died at age 90 in 2010. Vernon Baker was beloved in his adopted home state and a national hero and treasure. It would be entirely appropriate for the Army to rename Fort Benning to honor Vernon’s dedicated service to the United States and his fellow citizens.

While on the topic of base names, it would be fitting and proper for the Air Force to rename Mountain Home Air Force Base to honor another genuine Idaho hero, Bernie Fisher. Bernie, a long-time resident of Kuna, was a warm, plain-spoken, humble soul. Just chatting with him, you wouldn’t necessarily picture Bernie landing his old-fashioned, propeller-driven fighter on an airstrip littered with battle debris to rescue a downed wingman amongst a hail of bullets coming from practically every direction. But that’s exactly what Bernie did.

Bernie was the first member of the U.S. Air Force to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. His heroic actions took place in March 1966 at a Special Forces camp in A Shau Valley that was surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese regulars. Bernie rescued his wingman and returned to base with 19 bullet holes in his vintage plane. During his service, Bernie received a trove of other medals, including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.

I had the distinct honor to work with Bernie on a committee charged with helping Vietnam veterans readjust to civilian life. He was highly dedicated to helping all who served this great nation.

As we enjoy our Thanksgiving this year, be thankful for those like Vernon Baker and Bernie Fisher who helped make it possible. Let our Congressional delegation know that they should weigh in on renaming bases to honor these heroic Americans.

It ain’t over yet


We are going to be dissecting this thing for years. How could they have voted for him after what came out about him? Where did all those votes come from? Why wasn’t it a landslide all the way down the ticket?

The reason is in some basic, fundamental principles of propaganda. That we listen selectively and hear what we want to hear. That a proposition repeated over and over as being true is eventually accepted as true. And that we tend to remember the first thing we hear about a subject and the last – primacy and recency – giving lesser significance to information gleaned in the middle. Trump understands these concepts thoroughly and uses them all with abandon to drive home what Kellyanne Conway referred to at one time as the alternative truth. It is the practice of coming out early with outrageous comments about adversaries or events, and then maintaining a drumbeat of the same statement consistently – no matter what the forthcoming explanations might be – to the very end, all through the same outlets and all intended for the same ears.

In the case of every Democratic candidate to cross Trump in any way, he gave those willing to listen no option of what to recall first or last. With the barrage of words Trump maintained, and the media’s practice of reporting every word he said, the first and last thing anyone was going hear would be Trump’s claim.

It did not matter that his words were lies, or were completely wrong, or had been thoroughly rebutted. Those in Trump’s base, depending on background, education, position in life, attitudes of the day and feeling towards the speaker, listened selectively. They heard what they wanted to hear. Further, and as the propagandist knows, repetition can easily substitute for credibility. The more times a proposition is presented as true, the greater the chance that it will eventually be accepted as true. And while Trump was driving these messages home to the base, the general electorate was subjected to the same messages, albeit not with the same level of intensity. But the same principles work for everyone, capturing many who either left their guard down or were not listening intently.

Trump maintained for months that the only way the Republicans could lose the election was if it were fixed. The claims were dutifully reported widely by the mainstream press and all the news networks. The reaction of many was to roll their eyes, and mutter, “There he goes again,” recognizing the hype and not falling sway to it. It is only now, after the election, that defenders are coming forward with the explanation that there is no evidence to any of the claims being made. But this comes after months of the drumbeat claims of fraud and corruption.

Now, when the media repeats Trump’s more outrageous claims, someone might add, “But there is no evidence of this accusation.” But this is too late. Those listening carefully would correctly take away that there is no evidence of any corruption or fraud in the election. But too many do not listen carefully and might well remember – through primacy, recency or repetition, all the claims that have been made during the months and months before, and - despite the cautionary warning – accept that there is something wrong with the election process.

Put some number of millions of these listeners behind a TV set with nothing but Fox News, or give them radios only tuned to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Mark Levine, and they will not only remember the claim as told, they will believe it, and be advocates for doing something about it.

Trump’s impact is going to be with us for a long, long time.

Not a bridge too far


The Idaho Transportation Department’s recent presentation on a third bridge crossing over the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls is an important step in the valley’s economic future. But there are many steps ahead and the project’s anticipated costs are likely to grow as decisions are made, or delayed.

Nonetheless, the ITD rollout of potential crossing sites and traffic impacts and travel times will help solidify the discussion, which has been talked about for years. Now, there are some real options on the table.

Everyone knows traffic is increasing at the two existing crossings, at Twin Falls’ Pole Line Road and the Hansen bridge several miles to the East. Current traffic volume is over 44,000 vehicles per day and is anticipated to be over 61,000 in twenty years, 2040. Significantly, ITD projects up to a 3 percent annual increase, up from a 1-2 percent increase in previous estimates.

The four main options presented (excluding improvements to the existing Hansen bridge which are already being planned) all offer routes which would connect with Interstate 84 at or near Jerome.

Options one and two envision a crossing bridge as a jump-off from the Pole Line Rd. and Hwy. 93 intersection West of Twin Falls, connecting to one or two existing Interstate 84 tie-ins at Jerome. Both would extend Hwy. 93 and create a direct connection for Nevada traffic.

Options three and four would go from existing Twin Falls streets, which are already quickly filling with housing, churches, schools and commercial/office development at 2700 Road and 3500 Road. Options three and four are also the most expensive; one is at $390 million and the other at $405 million.

By comparison, options one and two, which follow 2400 Road, would each cost less than $250 million. Each would take existing farm land but so far, not as much housing and commercial development.

So we have a choice to make as a regional community. Options one and two would have less immediate impact but would contribute long-term to the Valley’s overall growth, which is spreading both East and West. Traffic from Twin Falls to Boise on Interstate 84 is often bottlenecked at both the I.B. Perrine Bridge and at the interchanges.

Options three and four would reduce in-town congestion at the Perrine Bridge, but would drop traffic into rapidly-developing neighborhoods in Twin Falls and the South end of Jerome city along Golf Course Road and South Lincoln Street. In less than a decade, these areas are quickly filling up.

Regardless of the route, there will need to be overall consensus from cities and counties, as well as highway districts. Failure to come to an agreement would likely delay or doom the project. That’s why ITD has wisely put the several options on the table for discussion.

And even if there’s agreement on the best route, there are significant issues ahead, not the least of which is funding and regional competition in Idaho for highway project dollars.

Have you driven through Boise to Nampa or Caldwell recently? The Treasure Valley is rapidly growing, as are the state’s other urban areas. Pocatello, for example, recently completed improvements on the Interstates interchange Northeast of town. Those region’s needs are also important, so there would need to be some prioritizations. That will come down to legislative debate, again likely to fragment by region.

Beyond that, the bridge project is likely too big for ITD’s current highway planning, so the state would need to supplement the normal appropriations. The dollar amount isn’t known, but the state “match” might be substantial but might be met in part from a growing revenue surplus. Then there’s the federal money. Projects of this scale usually involve Congressional support, and Idaho’s delegation is well positioned to “make the case” in Washington, DC.

These steps are off in the future. For now, the task is to gather Magic Valley comment and arrive at a consensus site. That in itself will mean give-and-take of all parties, which can happen for the good of the region, but which is by no means assured. Without that, it will be just another lofty idea and a bridge too f ar.

Stephen Hartgen, Twin Falls, is a retired five-term Republican member of the Idaho House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the Commerce & Human Resources Committee.  Previously, he was editor and publisher of The Times-News (1982-2005). He is the author of two new books on Southern Idaho, “Tradition & Progress: Southern Idaho’s Growth Since 1990.” and “Spirit of Place: Southern Idaho Values Across Generations.” He can be reached at

Give thanks …


A strange air of normality returned to American politics last Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware: Joe Biden went to Mass.

The “protective pool” of reporters whose job it is to shadow the president-elect wherever he goes complained that Biden’s staff hadn’t given them an adequate heads up as to the late Saturday afternoon movements of the next president of the United States. An Associated Press reporter actually complained on Twitter that the whole business was “unacceptable,” since the American people have a right to know about all activities of the president-elect.

On the one hand, I agree. On the other hand, given the chaos of Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat not to mention his four shambolic and corrupting years, how quaint that reporters were complaining that they didn’t have adequate notice that Joe Biden was, wait for it – going to Saturday Mass.

Biden will be, of course, only the second Catholic president and it should be obvious to even the most casual observer of his political and personal life that his faith is very much at the center of who he is.

“I’m as much a cultural Catholic as I am a theological Catholic,” Biden wrote in his 2007 memoir. “My idea of self, of family, of community, of the wider world comes straight from my religion. It’s not so much the Bible, the beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, the sacraments, or the prayers I learned. It’s the culture.”

In that same book Biden wrote, as many Catholics will recognize, about the cultural traditions of the church. “My attendance was not optional,” Biden said of his childhood as an Irish-Catholic kid. “The entire Finnegan clan (Biden’s mother’s family) rode over to Saint Paul’s Catholic Church together, and the church felt like an extension of home.”

As an adult convert to the faith, I had none of Biden’s childhood immersion in the ways of the Catholic Church, but like him – and like many fellow Catholics I suspect – I was draw to the church’s message of social justice.

In an article in The Christian Post just before the election Biden wrote: “My Catholic faith drilled into me a core truth – that every person on earth is equal in rights and dignity, because we are all beloved children of God. We are all created ‘imago Dei’ – beautifully, uniquely, in the image of God, with inherent worth. It is the same creed that is at the core of our American experiment and written into our founding documents – that we are all created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights.”

Donald Trump won election in 2016, in part, on the strength of his support from Catholic voters and evangelical Christians. He failed to win re-election in 2020, in part, because significant numbers of those voters rejected him. Trump still won large majorities among evangelicals, but where Hillary Clinton won 14 percent of Michigan evangelicals in 2016, Biden won 29 percent of those voters this year. Biden tripled Clinton’s share of the white evangelical vote in Georgia. One could argue that these voters elected him president.

Perhaps, just perhaps, some of these voters realized they were taken in by a thrice married reality television performer who promised to protect religious freedom but ended up trashing basic Christian values: vilifying Muslims, separating refugee children from their parents and not knowing Corinthians from Colonel Sanders. Maybe some of them realized walking the faith is a lot different than talking it.

When Jimmy Carter, a born-again Southern Baptist who still teaches Sunday school and builds houses for people who need them, was elected president in 1976, the enjoyed wide support from evangelicals. Those same voters, some heavily influenced by a New Right social agenda articulated by a very conservative Catholic like Paul Weyrich and an extremely conservative Baptist like the Reverend Jerry Falwell, abandoned Carter for Ronald Reagan in 1980. In many ways, this evangelical pivot was opportunistic. Carter’s faith didn’t change, but conservative politics did after 1980 and many Christians went along for the ride.

In one famous incident, Falwell, whose son Jerry, Jr., a major Trump supporter, was recently forced to step down from heading the college his father founded amid allegations of, as one publication noted, “sexual games and self-dealing,” fabricated an elaborate story about Carter in 1980.

The senior Falwell, eager to buttress his position with the emerging New Right, “lied,” as Carter confided to his diary, about a private meeting that never happened between the two men in the Oval Office. Falwell told supporters that Carter told him he supported a homosexual agenda and was committed to having homosexuals on his White House staff. “I’ve never had a private meeting with him,” Carter said, “he’s never been in the Oval Office, and I’ve never had any conversation.” It was a calculated lie for purely political purposes.

Immediately after the 1980 election, then-Idaho Senator Frank Church confronted Falwell about the widespread claim in that year’s Senate election – Church lost to Republican Steve Symms – that the four-term, pro-life Democrat was “a baby killer.” Falwell denied – lied through his teeth more correctly – that his group and those affiliated with it had used such language. But anyone in Idaho at the time remembers the church parking lots leafleted with the vile smear. Religion and what passed for Christian values increasingly became just an ugly extension of politics.

Few Americans, even Trump supporters, can honestly deny that the current president profoundly coarsened our politics over the last four years; slinging insults, aggressively pitting one faction against another, appealing not to better angels, but to worst instincts. Joe Biden, his life defined by the personal loss he has suffered – the early death of his wife, a daughter and a son – and by his Catholic faith, offers America a reset.

“If we look to politics to find reasons to be offended, we’ll never come up empty-handed,” says Michael Wear, an evangelic who worked on faith-based initiatives in the Obama Administration. “But this is not only an unproductive way to think about politics, but a destructive one. People of faith should be at the very center of making our politics about the common good, about service. I hope we take that opportunity.”

Or put another way, you don’t have to embrace all of Joe Biden’s policies, but you may want to give his “equal in rights and dignity” approach a chance. It is, after all, the season of thanksgiving. Be thankful for a renewed commitment to decency.

I’m again able to grab a bit of optimism about the near-term American future, and I’m hoping even my fellow citizens who don’t like the outcome of the presidential election will think about the upside of a Mass going, cultural Catholic who easily quotes Ecclesiastes and carries his late son’s Rosary in his pocket moving into the White House in a few weeks.

Elections foul and fair


Perry Swisher, the long-time Idaho politician and analyst (and much else), long ago told me three stories about the dark underside he’d once seen in Idaho politics.

One had to do with what was for generations one of the state’s most hard-core Democratic counties, Shoshone in Idaho’s northern mining country. “When [conservative Republican] Henry Dworshak first ran for the Senate [in 1954], he carried Shoshone County,” he said. “Shoshone was available. It required striking a deal with the mine owners and the old mine and smelters coalition. The mine metals and smelters' workers union had some of the most sophisticated political leadership in the state ... It was absolutely cold-blooded.”

Swisher’s own first race for the legislature in Bannock County a few years earlier, in 1946, had … peculiarities. “We had a precinct, Alameda No. 3, that had over a thousand votes in it in the 1944 election, in spite of the law that said that you divide precincts [that large]. So Kenny [Roebuck, Swisher's political mentor], warned me to get that precinct divided up, and he said if you don't - but I was younger and I had more important things to do, and I didn't get that precinct split. On election night I was 100-and-some votes ahead. And then …” He lost by 23.

Swisher said, “Of course, I wanted to sue and I wanted to jump up and down. But [Roebuck] said, ‘No, you're a Republican running in a Democratic county, and I told you what to do and you didn't listen. And you lost. Could have won. But if you turn into a crybaby your first trip out, there won't be much you can do. So just shut up’." And Swisher did, and later would go on to win.

Then there was the case of the 1956 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate between Frank Church (who went on to win the seat) and former Senator Glen Taylor, about which Swisher also had his suspicions. The candidates were within a couple of hundred votes of each other, and Taylor was highly dubious of the vote in Elmore County, where he long had done well, and especially Precinct 3, where the numbers seemed off. He railed about what he was sure was fraud, but was never able to nail down the details, and Church was declared the winner.

John Corlett, a long-time Idaho political reporter who followed the case at the time and considered it for years, recalled, “I just couldn't see how it deliberately could have been done. The whole scheme of a statewide primary, how this one little precinct could have been the one that told the whole story - I couldn't see it. But you couldn't convince Taylor.”

That Church-Taylor incident is the most recent seriously contested - in terms of possible election-stealing - I’ve heard of in Idaho. Have elections been stolen, in Idaho or elsewhere in the country? Yes. (The best book I know of about such a case: Means of Ascent, the brilliant Robert Caro account of how Lyndon Johnson stole barely enough votes to prevail in a 1948 Texas Senate election. You’ll be up with it till late at night.)

But not much in recent years, hardly at all in fact, in Idaho or elsewhere, for several reasons.

One is that elections staffs have gotten more professional and better overseen and more transparent. Idaho, for example, has had a string of secretaries of state, going back more than half a century, who have managed the process with care and fairness, and much the same seems true as well in most other states (I know that to be the case around the Pacific Northwest). County elections offices have gotten better with time as well.

Another reason is that the kind of mass vote grabs like the one Swisher described in long-ago Shoshone County (and that Johnson relied on in Texas) were open secrets; the corruption in certain places was so well known they came as no surprise, and were widely accepted as facts of life. They were too big, too overt, to be kept secret. You won’t realistically find many counterparts in the United States today.

A third issue is that, for most attempts at election-stealing to work, the vote has to be really close, so that it comes down to a single community - or better, a single precinct. (In the case of Johnson’s 1948 statewide Texas race, the battle wound up centering on a single ballot box in Precinct 13 in tiny Jim Wells County.) Get past more than a few hundred votes, and there’s almost no way to make it work: The attempt at a theft becomes too massively complicated, involving too many people, too many places where a conspiracy could fall apart.

And there’s this more general point: Conspiracies are uncommon. Successful conspiracies are rare. Massive successful conspiracies are scarce to the point of being nearly nonexistent.

Bear these factors in mind when you read about the count, and the hollering about it, in the current presidential election.

Give thanks


It’s been a while since I’ve driven down to Boise, but that passage along the Salmon River is one of the reasons I love this state. As I head south and the river winds north I think of the big not-so-empty middle it drains. All those little creeks draining draws, rushing down steep canyons, gathering the snowmelt, the runoff to finally head west and meet the sea. We, the lucky few, get to live in this wondrous state. I am thankful.

I think of the remaining native salmon and steelhead who traverse those waters, still heeding their call. They too are a blessing. I am thankful.

It’s hard not to imagine, as you round the turns and see the steep hills above, the people who lived here for the thousands of years before any roads made this trip so comfortable. Their subsistence, their culture, their trade, and their persistence give me pause for gratitude, and humility. We must not forget to give thanks.

To be traveling along in a warm car at a mile a minute where wagons or horses or your own two feet might have carried you a mere hundred and thirty years ago is a reason to be thankful too. But all comfort has some cost, and only with gratitude can the costs be carefully balanced. We pay the price for comfort, but give thanks and show gratitude.

The small towns you pass, the lights on the prairie or in the canyon from farmsteads and homes makes me thankful that folks can call this place home. They are our neighbors, our fellow Idahoans. Though we may not know their names we share this land, this state and we want the best for ourselves and for this place. We can be thankful for each other.

As I climb the narrow Little Salmon River Canyon I think of my own family roots a bit off to the south and west. I am thankful they shared their character, their lives with me. A sense of place doesn’t always have to have family roots, but history, knowing the lives and struggles of those who went before gives depth to one’s place. We all have such depth, though it may be in a foreign land, or a different state; we can all be thankful for our forefathers and mothers.

That steep and twisty Little Salmon canyon is just a hint of the big wilderness to the east of there. Miles and miles of ridges, timber and creeks, hillsides and canyons, mountain meadows and mountaintops are the heart of this state, even if the Treasure Valley is the destination for this drive. It isn’t empty. It’s very full, but just not with people. And for that I too give thanks.

Memories of my own times long ago on this path are a treasure too, for which I am thankful. That trip from McCall to Moscow in my little 1972 Toyota truck, right after our wedding over forty years ago, snow floor and slick; I pulled over just North of Riggins to consider putting on chains. Instead I watched river otters slide down the snowy banks into the Salmon, then pushed on, going slow. It was a gift, as was arriving safe and sound on the Palouse to my new bride.

We have much to be grateful for in this world, and living in this state is just one of many blessings. I’m sure there are potholes and rocks on all of our roads of travel, but what is a trip if not an adventure?

I wish you all the best in this fall season. Be thankful.

Fulcher stands by Trump


Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher, who has not yet recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect, will take care of that order of business in time. And, assuming that Biden is the president who takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, Fulcher is talking about putting extra effort into building a working relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris.

“She’ll be the one running things,” Fulcher says.

He’s joking … well, not totally. Harris may end up in charge at some point, but there’s not much chance of Fulcher making inroads with a Biden administration. Before anything occurs, Fulcher says there’s more business to tend to regarding this year’s election – one in which Republicans fared well overall, especially in House races.

“It was a Republican election,” Fulcher says. He’s convinced there was fraud in this election and that President Trump has a legitimate case. The question is whether there was enough fraud to change the outcome.

“I doubt it,” Fulcher says. “Nobody is going to tell Donald Trump what to do, and I will not be getting a phone call from him for counsel. But if I were in that position, I’d be saying, ‘stand up for yourself, keep the legal challenges out there and bring as much of this to light as possible.’ Shining a light should not hurt anybody. There is not a downside to exposing fraud.”

It won’t be resolved by Jan. 20, but in Fulcher’s view there are legitimate long-term issues that should be open for discussion. The president has a different objective – overturning the results of the election and using his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to argue that case. The Trump team has claimed widespread fraud on multiple fronts and has taken aim on a Dominion software company with alleged ties to former Venezuela dictator Hugo Chavez and the left-wing movement, Antifa.

On the flip side, Chris Krebs – the fired Homeland Security cyber chief – proclaimed this election was the most secure in American history. Fulcher says the media reports might not be entirely correct.

“I met with him, and that’s not the impression I got,” Fulcher says. “I think he was referring to outside interference, in which case I think he was right. But I don’t think he was talking about internally.”

Fulcher doesn’t need to go far to hear stories about internal problems. His Meridian office is located in city hall, where early voting was conducted. Along the way, people told his staff about receiving mailed ballots from old addresses in other states.

“I also found out that Joe Frazier (the legendary boxing champion) cast his ballot. He’s been dead for nine years,” Fulcher says. “So, I know for a fact that fraud is happening. The point that Republican leadership is making is that we have to flag as many of these flaws as we can. If the system isn’t changed, then there is not going to be another Republican elected as president for a long time.”

The target for Republicans is vote-by-mail. My sisters in Washington State, both Republicans, love vote-by-mail because of the convenience. But Republicans contend that vote-by-mail gives a distinct advantage to Democrats while opening the door for fraud.

“People such as Sens. (Marco) Rubio, (Tim) Scott and (Ted) Cruz – who want to do this job at some point (president) know that if the system doesn’t change, the chance of them doing that job are very low,” Fulcher says. “I have no problem with absentee voting, but mailing ballots to anybody and everybody is an invitation for corruption.”

Only so much can be done within the next couple of months, short of the U.S. Supreme Court voiding the election and giving Trump four more years in the White House. In the meantime, Fulcher says, it’s worth having the conversation about vote-by-mail and other election issues.

“This thing called politics is an ongoing struggle that never ends. There is not a goal line as there are in other professions,” Fulcher said. “In the end, we all our struggling for a more perfect union and a better system. I don’t think it is broken. It’s flawed, but it has always been flawed.”

If Trump happens to win out, then it would be safe to say that our election system is broken – perhaps beyond repair.

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

Killing ourselves


As you read this, COVID-19 is killing one American every minute each 24-hours. One death each minute, 24/7.

Now, you may have known that already and didn’t need my reminder. In fact, you may not want to hear another word about COVID-19 and just want to tune out the whole damned thing. Not one more word!

Well, read on. Because I’m going to give you some more words. Words not from me but from Judi Doering, R.N., Woonsocket, South Dakota. An emergency room nurse for whom “tuning out” is impossible.

"I have a night off from the hospital. As I’m on my couch with my dog, I can’t help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who don’t believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the U.S.A.. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason (why) they’re sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that ‘stuff’ because they don’t have COVID because it’s not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can’t stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn’t going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It’s like a f*****g horror movie that never ends. There’s no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again. Which is what I’ll do for the next three nights. But, tonight, it’s me and Cliff and Oreo ice cream. And how ironic I have on my ‘home’ hoodie. The South Dakota I love seems far away right now.”

Judi Doering, R.N., of Woonsocket, South Dakota. Her words.

Unlike you and I, Nurse Deoring can’t stop hearing the words. Night after night after hellish night, she not only hears the words, she lives them. And she lives with the crazy lies from the deathly sick who have bought into a world of other lies spun by politicians. Starting with the President of the United States. And her governor. And the governors on two sides of her beloved South Dakota.

And, if those words, and all the other words shouted from scared, sick patients don’t force her to quit her post for one not directly associated with COVID, she’ll keep hearing them, night after night after unworldly night in her ‘horror movie that never ends’.”

There are no masking requirements in South Dakota. North Dakota. Also Wyoming and Nebraska. Nor are there restrictions on church attendance, gatherings or a night on the town. Social distancing? No. That either.

I discovered something by accident the other day. Lay a map with the outlines of Trump voting states in our struggling country on your desk. Now, lay one the same size over that showing red states with the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases. See anything? If the maps are of the same approximate size, they nearly match up.

And, you’ll note on rereading Nurse Doering’s words, the reference to Joe Biden and how he’s “going to ruin the U.S.A..” Sounds like a Trumper, right?

I’d bet nurses in hospitals in the states named above read Ms. Doering’s words and found them similar to their own experiences. Our “cheerleader-perpetrator-of-lies-and-conspiracies” president has likely had the same effect on others who wind up on a gurney in intensive care wards.

Trump has blood on his hands. The blood of Americans dying even as he was being told in January of the deadly consequences of the virus and he chose to do nothing. Absolutely nothing! And, for months thereafter, while more citizens died, he pooh-poohed the deadly virus as little more than the “common flu.” But, he KNEW! He KNEW!

This month’s national election showed Trump got some 70-million votes. I believe it would be inaccurate to say all who voted for him were truly Trumpers. Many could have not liked Biden - some were probably stuck on the Republican brand - others may have been more influenced by our growing economy and didn’t want anything to change that.

Whatever the case, most of the states he won are at, or near, the top of charts of the deadly COVID numbers. Given the refusal of Trump, or the respective Republican governors in those states, to implement protective procedures, those are the places where we’re killing ourselves the most. With no leadership - or bad leadership - too many citizens are being exposed to the deadly nature of the disease. Some, like the Biden hater, have bought into Trump’s totally dangerous lies and are still in love with the great “orange leader.”

Yes, death rates have slowed when compared with total numbers of virus cases. That would seem to indicate health professionals have developed some effective protocols to deal with many situations. That’s the good news. That’s about the only good news in all this.

Still, Nurse Doering of Woonsocket, South Dakota, and all the other
“Nurse Doerings” in all the other “Woonsocket” ER’s, are still hearing the cries of anguish and fear, being called names and being belittled for the life-saving work they do.

You may not want to hear any more about the virus. But, THEY can’t stop hearing about it. Day after day after day after horrific day.

Could Trump yet win?


Even before the presidential election, there was speculation as to whether Donald Trump could win the election, even if he did not receive at least 270 electoral votes. In a 2019 law review article, Edward Foley, an Ohio State University law professor, suggested that Trump might be able to win in a close and disputed election, either through the Electoral College or the House of Representatives. The Trump campaign has reportedly embraced the idea and is counting on it as a last gasp hope for victory.

Could it possibly work? The short answer is no. Nevertheless, let’s consider the longer answer, which arrives at the same result.

The election is really not that close. Biden has 306 electoral votes, while Trump has 232. Say that Trump was somehow able to flip Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to his advantage, he would still need to flip either Michigan or Georgia to even make it a tie.

Trump’s theory seems to be that Republican-controlled legislatures of some states that went for Biden could save the day. That is, they could declare their state’s vote count to be fraudulent and send their own Trump slate of electors to the Electoral College. His campaign is looking primarily to Pennsylvania in this regard. It won’t work.

First, the campaign has produced no credible evidence of vote fraud. Second, Pennsylvania law requires the state to send electors supporting the winner of the popular vote in the state. Biden won the popular vote by 67,346 votes. Third, Republican legislative leadership in Pennsylvania has let it be known that the GOP will not be sending a Trump slate to the Electoral College. Fourth, a federal statute, the Electoral Count Act, specifies that the electors certified by the “executive of the State,” the governor, are the ones who count. The Pennsylvania governor is a Democrat.

Republican legislative leaders in Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin have also stated they will not be sending a Trump slate to the Electoral College. Their state laws also require that the electors representing the candidate with the majority of votes be sent to the Electoral College. Biden won in all of those states.

Furthermore, there is no evidence of notable fraud in any of the close states. The Republican Attorney General of Arizona says there was no fraud in his state. The Republican Secretary of State of Georgia says the same for his state. Indeed, the U.S. government entity responsible for election security called the election “the most secure in American history.”

All told, there is no legal basis for declaring the election fraudulent or irregular in any of the states in which the Trump campaign has been litigating. Without evidence of massive fraud, significant enough to change any state’s outcome, there is no legal basis for an alternate slate of Trump electors in the Electoral College and no grounds for having Congressional involvement in picking the President.

Nor can I see any reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved. The absence of evidence establishing fraud to the extent of changing the outcome in two or three states provides no basis for Supreme Court intervention.

So, the longer answer to the question is that there is no conceivable path to re-election for Donald Trump.