Recent editorials from Idaho newspapers:

To McGeachin, it’s all about Trump’s base

Dec. 2

The Lewiston Tribune

There wasn’t much Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin got right about the COVID-19 pandemic during her virtual press conference last week.

Along with Moscow area business owners, community members and failed Latah County Commission candidate Gabriel Rench, McGeachin:

- Disregarded the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice for people to remain home during Thanksgiving. Gatherings of family and friends would spread the infection.

“My whole message is that we’re not meant to be kept away from each other,” McGeachin said. “We are human beings. We are social beings.”

By Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was predicting the holiday travel would create a “surge upon a surge.” Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, was telling people who followed McGeachin’s suggestion to act as if they were infected.

- Complained about “lockdowns” and restrictions.

What lockdowns?

What restrictions?

Gov. Brad Little moved the state’s response back to Stage 2, but no business has been closed. The restaurants are open. So are the bars. Church services are observed. The governor won’t impose a statewide facemask mandate. Meanwhile, the state put the positivity testing rate at 19.4 percent. Anything above 5 percent means the virus is spreading out of control.

- Proposed purchasing disinfection systems for the state Capitol and mobile units that could be located in different corners of the state with nurses to staff the equipment.

“A person can walk through a cube and be disinfected from head to toe, including on the bottom of their feet,” McGeachin said.

As Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press noted, the concept has been thoroughly debunked.

As cited by the National Institutes of Health, the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in June published a study that found “walk-through sanitation gates” didn’t work, possibly caused harm and violated World Health Organization standards: “Fumigation is meant for inanimate objects and surfaces, and it should never be used on people.”

The NIH noted a second study, this one from Royal Society for Public Health, which reported China applied this technique, only to discover it was useless and dangerous.

Russell also reported McGeachin’s plan, which came to $16.8 million, was submitted to Little’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee. A member of that panel, Dr. Carolyn Bridges, a retired CDC official, emailed to CFAC Chairman Alex Adams: “COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spread mostly through coughing, talking, breathing and sneezing of infected persons. This tunnel does nothing for the source of infection, which is the respiratory tract. ... Disinfectants are not meant to be inhaled and can cause damage to the skin and respiratory tract. There is no data to support use in terms of effectiveness.”

- Offered to direct the project to a political ally. Again, Russell’s reporting documented that the source of those products, Xtreme Manufacturing, is owned by Las Vegas hotel owner Don Ahern. On Sept. 13, Ahern hosted a campaign rally for President Donald Trump, which McGeachin attended. The rally violated local COVID-19 restrictions and Ahern was fined.

But McGeachin got this much right: She understands the world according to Donald J. Trump.

When Mexico failed to pay for a “big beautiful wall” along the southern border, nobody cared.

Nor has anyone held Trump to account for his failure during the past four years to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a better, cheaper health care plan.

Long before McGeachin brought it up, the president suggested his own COVID-19 remedies — such as bringing ultraviolet light “inside the body” or injecting disinfectants. Did Trump’s base desert him? No.

It’s not about facts.

It’s not about expertise.

It’s about grievance, frustration and anger. Trump gives voice to those who want to rail against the system.

As conservative columnist David Brooks wrote: “Under Trump, the Republican identity is defined not by a set of policy beliefs but by a paranoid mindset. He and his media allies simply ignore the rules of the epistemic regime and have set up a rival trolling regime.”

Says former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: “What Donald Trump was able to do was give it legitimacy, to give it voice, actual voice, in the body of the president, in the body of the presidency.”

Whether by intuition or calculation, McGeachin has decided to tap into Trump’s base.

So what if she’s wrong on the medical facts? She’s right where it counts — speaking up for those who feel left behind, condescended to or disregarded by the experts or the elites.

Come 2022, when she might challenge Little for governor, a lot of those people will show up to vote in the closed Republican primary election.

What McGeachin is up to here is not going to do Idaho any good.

But she’s certainly looking out for her own political aspirations.

Online: The Lewiston Tribune

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Can our house be saved?

Nov. 27

Idaho State Journal

America is in dire straits, mired in problems and seemingly unable to solve any of them.

We have a pandemic that’s killing Americans by the tens of thousands in addition to causing unrest over any effort by our government to try to protect us via mask mandates and shutdowns.

We have racial unrest that’s spawned protests even locally and images of police in riot gear clashing with protesters have become so common that they don’t even faze us anymore.

Then there’s perhaps the ugliest presidential election in modern American history. It’s an election in which the incumbent, Donald Trump, is still claiming he won and trying to garner support for staying in the White House even though the vote totals tell a different story.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who most media outlets have named as the winner of the presidential race, is preparing to take office while Trump seems like he’s not even contemplating stepping down. A large percentage of Americans agree with Trump and believe the election was rigged against him.

It looks like we can all add our election process as another American institution thrown onto the heap with all the others that many of us no longer trust or have faith in.

If you’re alarmed by where our nation’s headed, you’re completely justified. What’s happening to our country begs for every American’s attention and concern.

But what can we do?

For starters, we must do the seemingly impossible and unite to heal the divisiveness that’s tearing our country apart.

Biden echoed these sentiments in a Thanksgiving eve speech. He told a nation that almost appears on the brink of another civil war that Americans need to stop being at war with each other and unite to defeat threats such as COVID-19.

Russell Nelson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, struck a similar tone before Thanksgiving when he urged members of his faith to flood social media during the holiday with messages of gratitude in an effort to heal the ills ailing our country, which he listed to include COVID-19, hate, civil unrest, racism, violence, dishonesty and lack of civility.

Nelson’s calls for gratitude not just caught the attention of his fellow Mormons, who literally filled social media with thanks, but also spread to many non-Mormons who did the same.

In reading the messages of gratitude from Americans of all faiths, it’s clear there are common threads in what we’re all thankful for — family, friends, co-workers, our pets, food on the table, a job, a roof over our head.

We hope that Americans of all political and religious persuasions realize this holiday season that we are all in this together. Liberal, conservative, Mormon, non-Mormon — all of us have much in common, including the obvious fact that we’re all Americans.

Our hopes, dreams and daily problems and concerns are much more similar than different.

But somewhere along the line we’ve become so focused on our differences that we as a nation seem poised for a painful divorce.

If we want to save this great nation of ours, we need to change course and soon.

So if your continued mindset is going to be that any American who disagrees with you about COVID-19, guns, abortion, politics, morality or religion is the enemy, we’re doomed.

The biggest threat to our nation right now is not the pandemic, it’s that the house that is America is divided like at no other time since the American Civil War. And that division is obviously and undeniably causing that house to fall.

It’s our choice on what happens next.

We can unite around the similarities we all have or continue to fight over our differences until America is gone.

Because loving your country means loving your fellow Americans regardless of politics, persuasion, race or religion.

Online: Idaho State Journal

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Do we care?

Nov. 22

Post Register

The state of Idaho has become a pandemic basket case.

We’ve allowed COVID-19 to take more than half as many Idahoans’ lives as did the four years of World War II.

As we crossed the mark of 800 deaths last week, the response from essentially all levels of Idaho government ranged from sitting on their hands to actively making things worse.

The Southwest Health District’s board invited “expert” testimony on the pandemic from a family physician who suggested cell phone towers might be tied to COVID-19 and an unlicensed naturopath who specializes in inflating colons and bladders with ozone, as the Idaho Statesman reported. Predictably, these quacks did not recommend mask enforcement, and the district took no steps in that direction.

The Rexburg City Council caved to anti-maskers, failing to protect its community.

Boise set a good example by finally directing enforcement of mask mandates, a minimally burdensome and effective means of combatting the pandemic, and Pocatello also passed a mandate with fines for failing to wear masks. (Let’s hope the city of Idaho Falls will follow their example and enforce a mask mandate).

But the actions of Boise and Pocatello likely won’t be enough to save their hospitals without similar actions throughout the state, since hospitals report that they are being slammed not only with local patients but with patients from outlying areas, where officials appear content to do nothing and force others to deal with the consequences.

That is why Gov. Brad Little bears ultimate responsibility for this looming disaster. His refusal to take responsibility for fighting this pandemic has left the task to local officials, and the few local officials who have chosen to act don’t have the power necessary to solve the problem. Only statewide, enforced mandates have a chance of working — and they’re many weeks overdue.

Because Little has waited so long to take this step, it is nearly certain that another lockdown will be needed once the health care system is in chaos.

How long can we expect doctors and nurses to continue performing their grueling, traumatic duties when we won’t do anything to help them?

How long can we expect out-of-state hospitals to go out of their way to help us when we won’t do anything to help ourselves?

Here’s what’s coming: Imagine your father starts having symptoms of a heart attack. You have come to expect that you can call 911 to have him rushed to a hospital where he can quickly receive life-saving treatment. You can’t count on that any longer.

One day soon, all the ambulances may be busy at that time, as the Idaho Falls Fire Department warned last week, so you’ll have to drive him to an emergency room, and he won’t get life-supporting care en route to the hospital. If he survives the drive, you may find that the ER, too, is overwhelmed, and you need to wait for triage to determine whether your father or some other patient should be treated, a possibility hospitals say grows nearer by the day.

Masks are not a panacea, but in combination with social distancing, handwashing and other interventions, there’s a great deal of evidence that the rate of COVID-19 spread can be brought down substantially.

That’s never been more crucial than it is now. We are almost daily breaking records for new infections, hospitalizations and deaths — while it looks increasingly likely that vaccines will go into widespread distribution in a few months.

Every one of our neighbors we allow to die now through inaction is one who likely would have lived a long time if we cared enough to stop it.

The question for all of us now is: Do we care?

Online: Post Register