With the stroke of a pen, this cat is now a happy dog

By Mike Weland

Happy dog
Happy dog

Eric Parker is one of those “heroes” of the far right who has turned what should be seen as infamy into influence in today’s Idaho Legislature, taking credit for a recently-passed Senate bill that in other times would have been called out early on as utterly ludicrous and self-serving, about as sensible to most as calling a cat a dog and expecting to be taken seriously.

In today’s legislature, a small group of Idaho legislators might be apt, if he used the right buzzwords, to take seriously Joseph Edward Duncan’s insistent contentions that he was just as much a victim of persecution by being required to register as a sex offender as were the Jews, Gypsies and other minorities forced by the Nazis to wear marks on their clothing for having the temerity to exist. “Government overreach!” they’d proclaim. “Untolerable irregardless.”

Duncan, you might recall, was the North Dakota man who jumped bail in Minnesota on charges of molesting a six year-old boy, and was passing through Idaho when he stopped off at a Kootenai County home on Wolf Lodge Bay in May, 2005, bludgeoned three people to death and took the two youngest, a boy of nine and a girl of eight, to a remote campsite in Montana, where he spent seven weeks sexually molesting both before killing the boy and taking the girl to breakfast at the Coeur d’Alene Denny’s.

“”I have decided to give up on trying to convince people that I am a real person, with honest and good intentions, not some evil monster they should be afraid of,” he wrote in his blog a few months before his monstrous camping trip.

The U.S. criminal justice system, having given him every opportunity to prove otherwise, decided, based on evidence, that he was a child rapist and murderer in spite of his honest and good intentions. By his own actions, he proved his status as an evil monster, and he was treated accordingly by the courts.

Parker’s claim to fame was to dress in body armor, hunker down behind the concrete abutment of a bridge overlooking a Bureau of Land Management encampment, point his rifle toward federal agents gathered there and get his picture taken by a Reuters news photographer.

The date was April 14, 2014, the place near Cliven Bundy’s ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada. The BLM agents were there to confiscate Bundy’s cattle in lieu of years of unpaid grazing fees on federal lands.

Parker was protesting government tyranny, even though the rancher knew he didn’t own the land he turned his herds out on and knew there was a process to be followed and payment to be made for value rendered in fattening cattle on public land. But to the “patriots” of today, none of that matters. They are oppressed by a tyrannical government overstepping its bounds and infringing on MY rights.

Don’t tread on me.

Eric Parker
Eric Parker

Parker spent about 19 months in prison and walked out not a reformed man, repentant of his misdeed, but as an oppressed “patriot” acquitted twice by hung juries of like-minded liberty lovers. But he doesn’t like it that he’s now branded a “domestic terrorist,” even though he wasn’t convicted and even though it’s elevated his stature to astonishing heights.

In normal times, he might have been held as a hero by a few on the far right fringe, but the times, they were a changing. Idaho Representative Heather Scott, who took office in 2014, became an outspoken advocate for the Bundy family, even taking a fact finding mission to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in support of Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon, in January 2016. She’s now serving her fifth term.

Out of prison, Parker paid a visit to the Idaho House, where Representative Dorothy Moon, now chair of the Idaho GOP, announced him with praise for “everything he’d done for the citizens of Idaho and Nevada.” A group of dozens of Republican legislators gave him a round of applause. In 2017, Moon and more than 50 GOP legislators signed a letter painting Parker a victim of government overreach and urged that charges be dropped.

And it seems there are many on the right, including every Republican Idaho Senator who voted in favor of Parker’s childishly inane Senate Bill 1220 seeking to redefine the phrase “domestic terrorist” to require a foreign component, who gave him high marks and far too much credence.

He told an Investigate West reporter that he’s been working for three years to drum up support for SB 1220 and he had no trouble at all. Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Winder signed on, and Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anton sponsored the legislative travesty three years in a row.

Passed on at last this year on a party line vote less one, Parker testified last week before a House committee that the Terrorist Control Act, in place now for nearly 40 years, could be “weaponized” to accuse ideological enemies. Hmmm … where have we heard that before?

In a state Senate of 35 seats in which 28 are Republican and seven are Democratic, the putative domestic terrorist’s bill passed 27-8.

It’s too bad, in a way, that Joseph Duncan died in 2021 of natural causes, cheating the executioner. He might have convinced Idaho Senators how inappropriate and harmful it is to label pedophiles and rapists sex offenders, subjecting them to unremitting persecution, unable to show others that they are honest and well-intentioned members of our society. Maybe it’s too bad, too, that Jeffrey Dahmer died so young. He might have moved to Idaho and convinced the legislature how cruel and demeaning the appellation, “cannibal,” how it covered him in such awful stigma that a fellow inmate felt compelled to beat him to death.

It’s not the politicians’ fault that they care more about their IFF rating than their conscience or their constituents, that they tilt at windmills rather than do the serious work of legislating or governing. We’ve allowed our governance to become more riven in a society never more fractious than now. How? By not doing the hard work of the voter in demanding the best from those we elect, by instead allowing ourselves to be held subservient while they claim ever more privilege and esteem.

By punishing rather than standing with the politicians who take the courageous high road by which to serve the public instead of the low road whereon we serve only ourselves and our own narrow interests. By closing our eyes to the myriad hard issues we could work together to solve in favor of fabricating crises of our own making with which to scare one another. By tolerating rather than admonishing those legislators so blatantly pandering to a radical minority of their constituency.

And Parker, emboldened by his success as a lobbyist, is now a candidate for the Idaho Senate, District 26.

“It has been a very long time since District 26 has had conservative representation at the Statehouse in Boise, ” he posted on his website. “I believe I can accomplish more for our District by working with, not against, the majority party. I understand the struggles that everyday Idahoans face, both Democrat and Republican, and I will work to address them for all Idahoans.”

Hmm … “All Idahoans.”  Sounds suspiciously like another made up “this cat is dog” definition to me. He will get votes and .might even win My, we voters these days are a lazy bunch