Short takes to ponder during those anxious hours in isolation

Now that the Legislature has wrapped up its 2020 session and vacated the Capitol, citizens can rest somewhat easier. Legislators could not bring themselves to provide adequate school funding and residential property tax relief. However, they did address some critical issues–letting out-of-staters pack concealed weapons in our State without a license, passing two transgender bills that are likely unconstitutional, and striking a blow against affirmative action.

The House of Representatives proudly stood up for the right to hate in our State. When we were able to rid our State of hateful racists in the 1980s and 90s, the slogan “Idaho is too great for hate” became popular. Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb has proposed a bill in the last two legislative sessions to make a “Too Great for Hate” license plate.

The cost of the plates would be paid by purchasers, with any excess going to the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights. Last year, the legislation sailed through the Senate but got sandbagged in the House. This year, the Senate passed the legislation by a 26-9 vote on February 11. It languished in the House for over a month and was defeated on the last day of this year’s session by 32 Republican “no” votes. I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would think about these members of the party whose banner he carried in the war against southern hatred.

On the national scene, I was fascinated to learn that the President has offered to help both North Korea and Iran in fighting the coronavirus. Apparently, our efforts to fight Covid-19 are going so well that we can offer assistance to others. I’m wondering, however, why our state governors from coast-to-coast are begging for supplies and help from the federal government and having a hard time getting it.

Kim Jong-un and Ayatollah Khamenei must have known of our government’s tardy, erratic and paltry response to the pandemic and thought it was a trick to spread the chaos to their countries. Khamenei declined, calling U.S. leaders “charlatans and liars.”
Kim was kinder, calling Trump’s offer “good judgment and proper action.” It is not clear that Kim wants the help, though.

Trump could have done both adversaries a real favor by suggesting that they seek help from South Korea, which has implemented an effective Covid-19 program. We and the South Koreans learned of the coronavirus threat at the same time in mid-January. The South Koreans raced into action, testing their population, finding the ill, tracking the disease and providing life-saving treatment. Their new cases peaked earlier in March and are now falling. During all of this, the President downplayed the threat and did little to prepare to meet it until a raging problem was at hand. Instead of having the disease at bay like the South Koreans, we are headed into truly dangerous times.

Instead of telling state governors that the feds are not “shipping clerks” for life-saving supplies, Trump should enlist the military’s logistics system to acquire those supplies and get them to where they are needed. Private companies should be required under the Defense Production Act to mass produce testing kits, masks, swabs, ventilators and other critical materials for an all-out attack on the pandemic. States should not have to be competing against each other to purchase critical supplies at inflated prices.

This disease does not care about state boundaries and it is the absolute obligation of the federal government to meet this kind of threat head-on. It is incomprehensible that the President has not pulled out all of the stops. If he had done that when the South Koreans did, we might have a real example and competent advice to provide the North Koreans and Iranians.

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