This editorial was published by the Post Register of Idaho Falls.
America has a long history of minor insurrections and internal conflicts.
The Whiskey Rebellion. The Battle of Blair Mountain. The state of Jefferson.
Historians can now add to that list — low down and in small print — the Cuckoo Coup.
The theory behind authorizing a handful of House members to convene an illegal legislative session on Tuesday, promoted by a group of Ammon Bundy’s seditious followers, the ever-more doctrinaire Idaho Freedom Foundation and the anti-vaxxers at Health Freedom Idaho, was cooked up in a bizarre legal opinion. It claimed that there was a reasonable basis to assert that COVID-19 was an attack by the government of China on the state of Idaho.
It linked that claim to a 1950s law designed to allow the government to reconstitute itself after a nuclear attack, saying that a legislative session would begin automatically 90 days after the strike, with whatever lawmakers had survived constituting a quorum.
But with no one from the Senate willing to join House members in violating the Idaho Constitution, they appeared to resign themselves making statements for the cameras.
A resolution — more of a manifesto against the rule of law, really — was read out but not voted upon. No one took the speaker’s lectern.
Members did not sit at their desks, but in a circle in the middle of the floor. The Cuckoo Coup wasn’t much of a coup, really; more of an oddly formal group psychotherapy session. Missing was the much-needed psychiatrist, and perhaps a few straitjackets.
Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, felt sufficiently empowered to order the press where to stand, an order she had no authority to give. Any random person off the street had exactly as much authority as Boyle did to stand or sit wherever they wanted in that chamber.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, famously cut out a piece of the fire detection system in her House office, believing it had been bugged.
“While moving into our office spaces in the ‘garden’ level before the start of the 2015 session, we witnessed Rep. Scott climbing up on her desk to more closely examine a small, black object that dangled from a thin wire from the ceiling directly above Rep. Scott’s office,” two fellow Republican representatives said of the incident. “She asked our opinion if the object could be a ‘listening device,’ before cutting the object off at the ceiling tile with a knife she had on her person.”
On Tuesday, Scott said she expected a civil war, which brought whoops from a few in the small crowd gathered in the balcony.
Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, a longtime member of the John Birch Society (a group now mainly devoted to expounding the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, which holds that the United Nations is establishing the New World Order by infiltrating road planning agencies) made a direct appeal to the cameras not to impose any penalties for violating the stay-home order.
Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, a John Birch Society member who makes more headlines for armed disagreements with restaurant owners and state fair officials than for writing legislation, was there too.
Strangely, the House members in attendance continuously undermined their own case for a special session. COVID-19 is only killing old people who are at risk of dying anyway, they said. The official case counts overstate the number of cases, they claimed. COVID-19 is no real threat and not any basis for a state of emergency, they argued.
Wasn’t their whole reason for being there a foreign attack on Idaho, one similar to an ICBM strike?
It’s tempting to think of this as an example of doublethink, the ability to hold two contrary opinions at once and not experience any internal conflict about it. But the answer is simpler than that: Those in attendance have no regard for the rule of law or the constraints of the Idaho Constitution, and they believe they are empowered to do whatever they like.
House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, has established a precedent for what is sufficient to pull a House member’s committee assignments. He did it when Scott suggested that women advance in the Legislature through sexual favors. Scott’s misogyny was low and disgusting, but is a breach of decorum worse than rejecting the rule of law? Because if Bedke assigns the lawmakers who sat for the Cuckoo Coup to committees in January, that’s what he’ll be saying.