Idaho Gov. Left State, So Crackpot Lt. Gov. Lady Doing Bunch Of Crazy Bullsh*t Again
Idaho may have only a fraction of the population of Florida or Texas, but by Crom, we do our level best to make up for it in random acts of crazy bullshit. We seem to have more than our share of rightwing crazies, from the North Idaho Nazis who got sued out of business decades ago to the rabid anti-Semite who's running for a seat on a school board this year — with the local GOP's endorsement. The joke in Idaho has always been that we have a two-party system: Conservative business-oriented Republicans, and full-on crazy conspiracy-theory Republicans. Idaho Gov. Brad Little is one of the former. And Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is very much one of the latter.
Unlike in some states, the governor and lieutenant governor do not run together as a ticket, so it's not all that surprising that McGeachin is gearing up for a primary challenge against Little next year. Just to emphasize that she's running well to the right of Little, whenever he leaves the state, McGeachin has taken to using her momentary power as acting governor to sign some crazy and probably illegal executive orders. In late May, when Little attended a Republican Governors Association conference in Nashville, McGeachin issued her very own executive order banning all mask mandates in the state. Little rescinded it as soon as he returned.
This week, while Little flew down to Texas to meet with other Republican governors to whine about the "crisis" at the border, McGeachin again issued a symbolic executive order on the pandemic, this time banning vaccine mandates and mandatory testing for infections. While she was at it, McGeachin tried to call up the Idaho National Guard and send troops to the US-Mexico border, only to be rebuffed by the Guard's commanding general. So everything's very normal here, all righty.
McGeachin, following the example of America's One True President, issued her executive order on Twitter, saying she had "fixed" Little's April ban on vaccine passports, which had applied to all state agencies. McGeachin's "improvement" extended the ban to include public schools and universities, and also banned agencies and schools from even requiring employees be tested, since the Founders believed all Americans must spread viruses freely if they want. While she was at it, McGeachin also prohibited any private employer from mandating their workers be be vaccinated or tested, because apparently free enterprise means telling businesses what to do.
McGeachin also took advantage of Little's absence to try ordering the National Guard to the border, writing a letter to Major General Michael J. Garshak advising him that
As of Wednesday, my constitutional authority as Governor affords me the power of activating the Idaho National Guard [...] As the Adjutant General, I am requesting information from you on the steps needed for the Governor to activate the National Guard.
Garshak, who knows from chain of command and what a legal order is, sent back a one-paragraph reply noting that he was "unaware of any request for Idaho National Guard assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) from Texas or Arizona" and reminding the acting governor that "As you are aware, the Idaho National Guard is not a law enforcement agency."
It did the job, but might have been more impressive, historically resonant, and diagnostically accurate had Garshak sent back a message simply reading "NUTS!"
Politico points out that in June, Little had already sent a group of Idaho State Police members to the border to assist with "intelligence gathering and investigative work to stop drugs from coming across the border," because drugs at the US-Mexico border are such a huge crisis in Idaho.
Little issued his own hilarious statement on Twitter, vowing to rescind any executive actions McGeachin took while he was away:
I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return. https://t.co/iBuQqX1R5i— Brad Little (@Brad Little) 1633470697.0
I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf.
Before I even left the state, the Lt. Governor unabashedly requested information from the Adjutant General to deploy our National Guard to the border, the same place I am visiting today to work with my fellow Republican governors on solutions to the crisis. Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country. The crisis at the border is something I take very seriously. That is why this summer I worked closely with the states of Arizona and Texas to determine the most impactful way to support their mission, and I sent a specialized team of Idaho State Police troopers to support drug interdiction efforts at the border. The people of Idaho can be assured that as their duly elected Governor, I will continue to fight this important issue.
Paragraph breaks, Governor, please.
We really like the part where Little castigates McGeachin for "political grandstanding" by trying to deploy the National Guard while he was out of the state on his own grandstanding visit to the border, which by contrast was totally necessary and serious and appropriate.
As of yet, Democrats in the state legislature have not called for all state officials to undergo mandatory irony recognition training.
While a number of Republican officials have condemned McGeachin's stupid little stunt, we have no doubt she considered it a huge success for her own campaign. A lot of Idaho wingnuts are still extremely angry with Little because in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, he actually ordered a lockdown in Idaho, complete with closures of "non-essential" businesses and prohibitions on in-person church services. Little never issued a statewide mask order, leaving that up to municipal and county governments, but he never banned mask mandates, either.
McGeachin, on the other hand, embraced the pro-virus crazy wing from the get-go, participating in a bizarre anti-public-health video sponsored by the far-Right Idaho Freedom Foundation, in which she posed with a Bible and a gun in the cab of a survivalist van. Clearly, she sees no electoral downside in trying to out-crazy establishment Republicans like Little.
Will it work? Crom only knows! Idaho's business-suite Republicans have always had the advantage in cash and support, especially among the state's influential and affluential LDS community (which, we'll remind you, also supports public health). But the crazy wing in Idaho politics keeps getting crazier, and might end up taking over, as has happened in so many states. As the pandemic continues to fill Idaho hospitals and morgues, there's still plenty of time for the state to swing crazier.
And hell, we haven't even had a good Muslim-baiting panic over Afghan refugees yet.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.