This is a time to get together and eat and talk , just time for our friends. There is no format, dues, agenda etc., We can meet anytime or place we decide, picnic pot luck, local food, anything we want to, even invite speakers. But for now please show up, eat and talk to like minded friends. No need to RSVP just stop by and eat. email Trana if you like.
NBC News issued its list of 10 fresh faces to watch in the new Congress. Here's what they said about Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp:
The daughter of a school custodian, Heidi Heitkamp once spent a summer working on a highway construction crew to put herself through school. The Democrat served as North Dakota's attorney general and as the executive of an energy company before scoring an upset win last month over Republican Senate candidate Rick Berg.
The onetime director of Dakota Gasification Company, which operates a plant that turns coal into natural gas, Heitkamp is squarely at odds with her party's own standard bearer on energy issues. Asked during a campaign forum what she would tell President Barack Obama about the nation's energy policy, she flatly stated that the administration is "wrong."
"You're wrong on energy. You're headed in the wrong direction. You made bad decisions," she said, according to The Associated Press. "You promised that you would promote clean coal technologies, that you would be a champion of coal, and you haven't done it." She also urged the president to replace Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.
A Democrat who eked out a narrow win in a state that voted for Mitt Romney by 20 points, Heitkamp faces targeting by Republicans hoping to lure red-state Democrats over to their side on key issues. She'll be a player on agriculture issues; she has said she's been offered a spot on the Senate agriculture committee and that she hopes to help shepherd a five-year Farm Bill to passage.
As I read the article about Heitkamp -- who, after orchestrating an amazing victory over a sure-thing-winner opponent, deserves the attention -- I couldn't help but wonder what sorts of top-10 lists a Senator-elect Berg would have been on. He was the 14th wealthiest member of the U.S. House, but that probably wouldn't have gotten him in the top 20 wealthiest in the Senate. Top ten tea partiers? Top ten girls-flag-football-for-charity fans?
I can't think of one thing about Berg that would have made him an interesting new senator to watch.
NBC is right: It will be interesting to see how Heitkamp fits into the bigger puzzle that is the U.S. Senate.
The Great Plains Examiner, a monthly newspaper that began operating in Bismarck and Mandan about a year and a half ago, has suspended publishing while a new ownership arrangement is finalized.
Matt Bunk, the editor and publisher of the paper, said once the deal is completed he will remain an owner of the paper but no longer have control over day-to-day operations.
Gary Emineth, a businessman and former chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, said he and a small group of new investors in the paper plan to expand its coverage to other parts of the state, particularly the Oil Patch.
Doesn't North Dakota already have enough right-wing news rags? Do we really need another one? We already have the Bismarck Tribune, the Dickinson Press, the Williston Herald, the Minot Daily News, the Jamestown Sun, the Grand Forks Herald, the Valley City Times, and the Fargo Forum. What used to set the Great Plains Examiner apart was that it actually had fairly objective news from fairly objective writers. North Dakota Republicans like Emineth just couldn't tolerate that. "We can't have an objective newspaper in North Dakota," they must have said. So they're gonna buy it and make it the new Dakota Beacon. (For those not familiar, the Dakota Beacon is or was a ridiculously trashy, right-wing rag published by local plagiarism defender Steve Cates. I don't even know whether it's still published but suspect it is not; it doesn't smell as bad around here as it used to.)
I don't begrudge Bunk for wanting to make a buck by selling stock in a paper whose credibility he balanced on his own hard work and labor. I don't know how many people realize this, but the Great Plains Examiner was -- for the most part -- a one man show. Though there were other writers (some of them quite good), Bunk did a huge amount of work for that paper. He was the ad sales guy. He wrote most of its content. He did most or all of the editing. I think he did the set-up. He even did deliveries. Without Bunk, the Great Plains Examiner is some other paper. Because it's being purchased by a secretive investor group that includes the former chairman of the Republican Party, I'd suggest to you that the "other paper" it is is the Dakota Beacon.
Or it might as well be.
It's unfortunate that a fairly worthwhile paper will become the garbage the Great Plains Examiner is sure to become. I'd urge all of the GPE advertisers to cancel their ads, and any subscribers to cancel their subscriptions. Like the rest of North Dakota's newspapers, the GPE will make plenty of money by shilling for the Chamber of Communism, Big Pollution and Big Oil. They don't need your ad revenue or your subscription payments to stay above water.
If I've ever written anything that sounded like it might amount to an endorsement of the GPE, please consider this a withdrawal of that allusion.
I'm tired of the horrible, biased, fact-challenged Keystone XL reporting by the Associated Press (AP) and all the other fake-neutral media. Their reporting just gets worse and worse. The AP used to have well-deserved credibility with readers, but has slowly stooped lower and lower so that now it is little more than a National Enquirer writer-esqe embarrassment for American journalism. Here's a snippet from their most recent pathetic reporting on the Keystone XL pipeline:
WASHINGTON — It's a decision President Barack Obama put off during the 2012 campaign, but now that he's won a second term, his next move on a proposed oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada may signal how he will deal with climate and energy issues in the four years ahead.
Obama is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them on this and countless other related issues down the road.
Keystone XL is especially important in North Dakota because it will bring 100,000 barrels per day of Bakken oil to U.S. refineries, said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. While the pipeline does not run through North Dakota, feeder pipelines from within the state would connect to it.
Once again, I feel obligated to take a few of the bigger lies in this AP story and pick them apart. First, let's talk about this suggestion President Obama "put off" the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. The truth is the application to construct the pipeline was incomplete. Imagine you work at the counter at North Dakota's Game & Fish office and someone comes in to get a hunting license. They fill out the application but refuse (or decline) to provide their last name, their mailing address and their date of birth. You're the bureaucrat working behind the counter. You look at the application and see it is incomplete. Do you give the applicant a hunting license? Of course not. You turn it back and tell the applicant it's incomplete and tell them to finish filling it out. That's just how it works. Everybody who has reviewed the situation who has half a brain understands the application was incomplete. It had to be rejected. (More here on that.)
Second, let's talk about that 100,000 barrels per day of Bakken oil that is scheduled to be sent to U.S. refineries. This is a pure fiction. We've written about this before, with the help of Prairie Blogger Jim Fuglie. Here's what he and I wrote:
The Keystone XL Was Not Ever Going To "carry about 100,000 barrels of North Dakota crude" Per Day: It wasn't. You know what the commitment was from TransCanada? They said they would carry some Bakken Crude. Not 100,000 barrels. And not North Dakota Bakken crude. TransCanada said they'd carry 65,000 barrels from North Dakota, Montana and, possibly, Saskatchewan. Jim Fuglie wrote about this before, after he and I got all the Governor's records on this issue:
There is an agreement between Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, negotiated in 2010, and announced jointly by Gov. Schweitzer and TransCanada officials on September 13, 2010, at a press conference in Billings, Montana, to “construct onramps and offramps for the receipt and delivery of oil from Montana producers at points on the Keystone pipeline that had been announced by TransCanada.”
That, of course, was the Montana Governor’s take on the agreement, or at least his public proclamation. Read: This is a big deal for Montana.
Except that it wasn’t.
TransCanada worded it a little differently. In a 2011 press release, TransCanada said “In the fall of 2010, TransCanada went to the market with a proposal to move Bakken crude oil production by constructing a receipt facility at Baker, Montana. The open season was successful allowing TransCanada to sign firm contracts for 65,000 bpd of crude oil from the Bakken to key U.S, refining markets. The open season for this project closed on November 19, 2010. The Bakken Marketlink project will provide receipt facilities to transport up to 100,000 bpd of crude oil from the Williston Basin producing region inNorth Dakota and Montana . . .”
If TransCanada says that’s the deal, then that’s the deal. They will let 100,000 barrels of crude oil, from somewhere in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana (and possibly Saskatchewan), into the pipeline. Not, as Governor Schweitzer says, 100,000 barrels of Montana crude. Not, as Governor Dalrymple says, 100,000 barrels of North Dakota crude. Nice try guys.
And note to Governor Dalrymple: TransCanada says there are contracts for only 65,000 barrels, not 100,000, and that those contracts are not all from North Dakota. Those numbers, Governor, come from documents provided to me and to a fellow blogger, who requested them, by your office.
The facts have not changed since April 15th. There is still no commitment for 100,000 barrels of North Dakota bakken crude oil per day to go onto the Keystone XL. It continues to be pure fiction, and continues to be a fraud perpetrated on North Dakotans by corrupt government officials like Jack Dalrymple and incompetent and/or complicit corrupt "journalists" like those at the Bismarck Tribune and the Associated Press.
Third, here's another excerpt from today's AP story:
“It's just a no-brainer,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., told The Associated Press. “Canada is going to export this oil. It's either going to come to the U.S. or it's going to go to Russia or China. Even Democrats that aren't really excited about oil and gas development generally can figure that out.”
Hate to point the finger at Senator Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, but she's not telling the truth. She either doesn't know what she's talking about, or she's lying. Doesn't matter which it is, though. She's entitled to her opinion, of course, but she's not entitled to her own facts. The truth is that most of the Keystone XL oil from Canada will go to China. Don't take my word for it. Read "The Tar Sands Road to China" paper and explain why it's wrong. You can't. Your Fox News-driven fantasy world just isn't going to help you on this one. The bought-and-paid-for talking points from shills like John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer ain't gonna change the facts. Facts is facts.
We've gone through all this before. North Dakota oil wouldn't be transported on the KXL. If it would, it wouldn't be much. The KXL, if built, wouldn't lower American gas prices; it would raise them. The KXL wouldn't provide enough jobs to justify the harm it will cause. It will cause harm.
I forgot to write about this yesterday. Saw this story online and just couldn't believe it. Rejected it, at first, as being just too crazy to believe. But then it hit me: this is what we will soon come to expect from North Dakota's lone member of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin Cramer:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — North Dakota Republican Kevin Cramer not only supports the production of domestic coal, oil and natural gas; the incoming freshman House member believes it’s a moral responsibility.
“In my view, it would be immoral to leave it there,” Cramer told the Lignite Energy Council at an October event in Bismarck.
“God put it there for us,” he said.
The former chairman of the state Republican Party, who almost entered the ministry, says North Dakota has been successful in energy production because most of the resources were developed on private and state land, where the government couldn’t over-regulate producers.
Get that? Using up all our natural resources as quickly as possible is a moral imperative. If we don't burn up all the Earth's coal and oil, God will be disappointed. Cramer knows, because he talks to God.
I've decided to put together a little list of other things "God put here for us." Things for which there is a "moral responsibility" for white men to rush to exploit or otherwise use up as soon as possible. Maybe you guys would be willing to help me by submitting additional items to the list:
(continued in comments)
I hope everybody understands why Kevin Cramer sees it as being a "moral responsibility" to use up all of our natural resources as soon as possible. See, we are in the "End Times" and won't be needing these physical things much longer.
Look for all of North Dakota Congressman Todd Akin's Kevin Cramer's policies and public statements to reflect these basic views.
On November 16th at 10:50 a.m., I sent an instant message to Adam Blomeke. Here is a screen grab of that instant message.
From today's news...
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A top aide to North Dakota U.S. Sen. John Hoeven is being named to the state Public Service Commission, two state government officials told The Associated Press on Friday.
Julie Fedorchak will succeed Kevin Cramer on the state regulatory board, the state officials with firsthand knowledge of the appointment said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter before Gov. Jack Dalrymple's official announcement, which is expected Friday afternoon.
For the first time, North Dakota ranks as the best run state in the country. In recent years, North Dakota’s oil boom has transformed its economy. Last year, crude oil production rose 35%. As of August, 2012, it was the second-largest oil producer in the country. This was due to the use of hydraulic fracturing in the state’s Bakken shale formation. The oil and gas boom brought jobs to North Dakota, which had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate in 2011 at 3.5%, and economic growth. Between 2010 and 2011, North Dakota’s GDP jumped 7.6%, by far the largest increase in the nation. This growth has also increased home values, which rose a nation-leading 29% between 2006 and 2011. North Dakota and Montana are the only two states that have not reported a budget shortfall since fiscal 2009.
Second, the reason North Dakota has no budget deficit (and, in fact, a significant surplus) and a low "debt per capita" is because of the natural resources taxation system proposed by North Dakota's Tax Commissioner (at the time), Byron Dorgan. Here's a snippet of the history on that:
In the early morning hours of Good Friday, April 8, 1977, the North Dakota Legislature enacted the state’s first real coal severance tax after an all night session. North Dakota Democrats, led by Tax Commissioner Byron Dorgan, held out through a bitter, and arguably the most interesting, legislative session in all of state history to enact a hefty tax on lignite coal to be strip mined from North Dakota’s shallow underground coal beds. A bill likely written by Dorgan’s chief lieutenant in the tax department, Kent Conrad (HB 1360), was the impetus for the beginning of what was to become a critical revenue source forNorth Dakota state government. Dorgan huddled with Democratic-NPL Legislators Richard Backes and Buckshot Hoffner for three and a half months, in the end bringing Republican leaders Earl Strinden and David Nething to the table to negotiate a reasonable tax on coal (more about this session in a future blog).
Three and a half years later, late in the evening on November 4, 1980, the North Dakota news media reported that North Dakota voters had approved an initiated measure, Measure 6, which levied a new 6½ per cent tax on oil extracted from North Dakota’s oil fields. The measure, sponsored by a committee composed of the North Dakota Farmers Union, the North Dakota REC’s, the North Dakota Education Association, and the North Dakota AFL-CIO, and written in the office of Tax Commissioner Byron Dorgan (likely by his chief lieutenant Kent Conrad), was overwhelmingly approved, more than doubling the state’s tax on oil from 5 per cent to 11½ per cent. Dorgan and Conrad staked their elections that year, for Congress and State Tax Commissioner, respectively, on that measure, championing its cause as the basis of their campaigns. They were the only two Democratic-NPL statewide candidates to win election that year.
It was Dorgan’s genius, in both cases, to recognize that mineral extraction was going to be an important piece of North Dakota’s economy and that putting a reasonable tax in place while those industries were in their infancy could prove to be an important source of revenue to the state for many years.
Don't look for North Dakota's rocket-scientist "journalists" to report about any of that. Few of them have institutional memory of North Dakota past about three years ago.
We are actually pretty lucky that Republican corporatist attempts to "fix the tax" have been relatively unsuccessful. But they've found other ways to leach money away from where it is desperately needed. On the downside, corrupt Republicans have figured out a way to reduce the amount of tax revenue available to resolve some of the significant oil field problems, by creating abusive, deceptive tax schemes such as the bought-and-paid-for "mega unit" stripper well tax exemptions.
Importantly, the people "leading" North Dakota today had nothing to do with oil development in the Western 1/3 of the state today. All they've done -- if anything -- is line their own pockets, and serve as cheerleaders. They've done nothing to ensure the safety of North Dakotans, our natural resources or our heritage. They didn't put the oil in the ground, and they're doing nothing to ensure that it's extracted in a reasonable, safe, responsible way.
And, lastly, what in the hell is "24/7 Wall Street"? Had anybody ever heard of it before this rating?
North Dakota's condition today should be judged by where we have been, and where we are headed. We should not be judged by where we are right now. Right now we are in the middle of an oil boom -- or bubble -- that is destroying and/or depleting North Dakota's highway road system, its wildlife, its natural resources, and its way of life. To truly "rate" where North Dakota is today, we should look at two things: (1) the successes of North Dakota's Democratic-NPL extraction tax system from the 1970s and 1980s, and (2) what North Dakota is headed for in about 5 or 10 years. Ask anybody at North Dakota's Game & Fish Department where North Dakota is headed. Ask the folks in law enforcement in Williams, Mountraill or McKenzie Counties. Ask the teachers and school administrators in oil country. They'll tell you they're under-staffed, under resourced, and headed for trouble. That's what they'll tell you if they trust you not to take more of their resources away. So if you're a Republican, don't count on getting an honest answer from them. You scare them. They've seen the damage you can do. They're living it.
Listen: I love what North Dakota has been most of my life. It's always been a great place. But most people will acknowledge that our state's leaders have failed to properly manage the oil bubble we're experiencing now. We're headed for a really big mess. The hard part about a bubble like this isn't the bubble; it's what's left after the bubble bursts.
And there's gonna be one massive mess to be cleaned up when this oil bubble bursts.
Look for a revised rating from "24/7 Wall Street" when it does. Or don't.
On Wednesday afternoon, as people were doing their Thanksgiving grocery shopping, a court order was made public in which a Gov. John Hoeven-appointed judge dismissed a petition filed by Dunn County residents seeking a grand jury investigation of the alleged bribery money received by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in 2011 and 2012. I'll say a few things about the decision, some of which may not be popular with some of our readers. Other things I'll say might be really popular. That's just how it's going to be.
I'll outline the case / allegations, as I understand them to be.
There is a bipartisan group of North Dakotans who know of "campaign contribution" money paid by various folks in the oil and gas industry to Governor Jack Dalrymple while those individuals have matters pending (or an interest in matters pending) before the North Dakota State Industrial Commission. We wrote about this back in early October. (Click here to read all the details.)
It is a prima facie violation of North Dakota law -- a felony -- for a person (including a corporation) to give money to a public official when that person has an interest in a matter pending before the public official if the person's interest "could be affected by the recipiant's performance or nonperformance of his official action or violation of his known legal duty as a public servant." NDCC § 12.1-12-01
There doesn't seem to be any dispute over whether Governor Dalrymple accepted money from people who had an interest in matters pending before the Industrial Commission, which Dalrymple chairs.
Nobody was doing anything about the alleged/apparent felony violation, so a former Republican candidate for Governor took matters into his own hands and tried to follow North Dakota law by circulating petition to get a grand jury investigation of the alleged bribery or briberies. The petition was filed in Dunn County on or about October 31st, 2012. (Click here to read all about that.)
There was some delay in the filing of the Petition. The delay was apparently partly caused by a deficiency in the State's court system's electronic filing system. Apparently there was no "slot" designed in the system for a petition such as this. In a letter submitted to the Clerk of Court by Dunn County State's Attorney Ross Sundeen, concerns were also expressed about the propriety of the petition. Namely, (1) that the petitions might arguably be four separate petitions requiring four separate verifications, (2) that the jurisdiction of the Dunn County Court might not be appropriate, and (3) Some of the petition signers may not have been Dunn County electors. (Read the letter by clicking here.)
The petition was filed.
Judge Herauf dismissed the petition on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Here's Judge Herauf's decision.
Let's talk about what the Judge did. There are two main reasons why he appears to have dismissed the Petition. First, he said there were not enough signatures from qualified Dunn County electors. Second, he said venue was not proper in Dunn County.
First, let's talk about the signatures. He said 167 signatures were needed from Dunn County electors for the petition to be valid. The petitions submitted contained 173 signatures. That means there was only a six signature cushion. If seven signatures are bad, then the entire petition could arguably be thrown out. Judge Herauf looked at the petition on its face, saw that seven people listed addresses outside of Dunn County (see pp. 4-5 of his decision), and based upon that analysis, the entire petition could be thrown out because there were only 166 Dunn County electors who signed it. Those signatures had addresses in Bismarck, Fargo, Dickinson X 3, Laverne and New Town. Based upon this, alone, the judge said he could thow out the entire petition.
But he didn't stop there. He went on to say that 55 of the Dunn County residents only provided post office box addresses, and that is not a sufficient address for a petition of this sort. The judge concluded you have to provide -- essentially -- a 911 street address. Apparently North Dakotans who use only a post office box address can't be trusted to be residents of Dunn County. An additional 16 signatures did not have any address attached to them. It would seem that the Judge perceived there was no possible way to verify the physical addresses of these 71 people (plus 7?). So the petition was thrown out.
But, additionally, he also concluded that if any grand jury petition were to be filed, it should be filed in Burleigh County because that's where the bribery (if any) took place.
I want to talk about each of these, one at a time. First, an argument could be made that there is no requirement in the law that petition signors must provide any address at all. (Start reading at page 3 of the document you see when you click here.) So, if that's the case, they could have just signed the petition without any address at all.
Second, I know people who reside in the oil patch but who have their mail routed to other places -- typically where their parents or other family members live -- outside the oil patch. There is no crime in doing this. It is completely appropriate to do it. If I want my mail to be routed to a friend's house in Fargo, I can do that. People who reside in the oil patch and who are qualified electors there, might want to have their mail sent outside the oil patch. That's their business.
Third, I imagine there are a lot of people in Dunn County who think it's perfectly fine to use a Post Office Box. I use one. I'm not trying to hide anything. If someone wants to question where I live, they can send a letter to me at my post office box and ask me and I'll probably tell them. The fact I use a post office box does not make me a non-elector in my county.
Regarding signatures and their status as electors generally, I will simply say this: There should have been a hearing on this. The judge in this case could have cleared up these things at a hearing. After doing so, there very well might have been the same outcome, but he should have given the petitioners an opportunity to be heard. Instead -- without giving the petitioners an opportunity to present facts, law and argument as to why he should not do this -- the judge decided a 911 physical street address within Dunn County was required for every signature on the petition. It is not fair or just, in my opinion, to do that to them without giving them an opportunity to be heard. At the very least, the judge should have given the petitioners an opportunity to make their case. Second, he assumed that anybody who did not provide a 911 physical address was not a Dunn County elector. If he had questions or problems with any of them, he could have held a hearing. He could have asked the petition sponsors to present evidence that those people were qualified Dunn County electors. Instead, he assumed they were not. That is not fair or just, in my opinion.
Lastly, I want to talk about the conclusion that venue in Dunn County is not appropriate. I have a problem with that. A basic principle of law is that if you take your gun and stand in McKenzie County and shoot someone across the county line in Dunn County, you can be prosecuted either where you shot the gun, or where the affects of the shooting take place. This only makes sense. And, to apply this principle of law to this alleged bribery, if you take a bribe in Burleigh County and the effect of taking the bribe is that a mega spacing unit is approved in Dunn County, depriving Dunn County residents of money and liberty, then you can be tried in either county. I'm not making this up; we have a law that says this.
Part committed in different counties - Jurisdiction in either. When a crime or public offense is committed in part in one county and in part in another, or when the acts or effects thereof constituting, or requisite to the consummation of, the offense occur in two or more counties, the jurisdiction is in either or any of said counties.
But I'll admit this: I might agree with the judge that it could be proper to throw out the petition. It's possible (maybe even likely) that seven of the signatures on the petition were from people who were not qualified Dunn County electors. But -- at least in theory -- we have something in American jurisprudence called "Due Process." It comes from our state (Article I, section 9) and federal (section 1 of the fourteenth amendment) constitutions. People are supposed to get "notice" and "a meaningful opportunity to be heard." The petitioners in Dunn County could not have seen the dismissal of their petition coming, whether on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or otherwise. And they certainly did not have an opportunity to be heard or an opportunity to prove (or argue) that the judge would be making a mistake by assuming all of those people were not qualified electors.
That's simply not fair.
And I simply disagree with the court -- and would argue that the law disagrees with him -- regarding venue. These folks are arguing that the result of the bribe -- the result of the gunshot in Burleigh County -- was the creation of a mega unit in Dunn County. I think it's hard to argue against them.
Heidi Heitkamp was, according to the Washington Post's "The Fix" blog, "The Best Candidate of 2012":
Campaigns are made up of consultants, pollsters and various other strategists, but it’s the candidate that ultimately matters most. And the great ones make their supporting cast look very smart.
Today we are handing out The Fixy — the coveted political awards that we, well, made up — for the best candidate of the 2012 election. On Monday, we gave out The Fixy for the worst candidate of 2012, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). (Don’t miss our picks for the best andworst ads of the election!)
There were a lot of choices for best candidate, but one stood above all the rest. We are giving The Fixy for best candidate of 2012 to North Dakota Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp (D) for an unlikely win that defied the Republican tilt of her state.
North Dakota was consistently near the top of Republicans’ wish list for most of the cycle. and Heitkamp’s win there was among the most stinging defeats for the GOP.
North Dakotans participated in what ABC News has described as America's "biggest upset" election last week when we smartly elected former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp to the United States Senate. While the election of Heitkamp saved North Dakotans (and America) from one of the two teabaggers on North Dakota's federal ticket this year, it has not -- apparently -- saved us from some of the right wing talking points we expect to hear from right wing crackpots. Witness:
HEITKAMP HITS GOP, DEMS ON ENERGY TALK: North Dakota Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp touted herself as between the political parties on energy issues last night on Current TV’s “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.” “The problem is you’ve got people on the right who say it’s all about fossil fuels, whether it’s coal, oil or gas. You got people on the left who say tomorrow you can turn on the windmills and that will get us the electricity we need,” Heitkamp said. “They’re both wrong. We need to have a balanced approach. We also need to think sensibly about how we move this energy in the future.”
Okay, so what is wrong with this picture? Heitkamp suggests she wants a balanced approach, and that's great. We can agree on that. But then she says there are people on the right who are wrong and people on the left who are wrong. First she describes the people on the right who are wrong: "[Y]ou've got people on the right who say it's all about fossil fuels, whether it's coal, oil or gas." This is an actual fact. It is not hyperbole. There are ten thousand white pickups in Western North Dakota at this very moment being driven by people whom Heitkamp is accurately describing.
But then you cut to the other side that Heitkamp says needs to be balanced against all the people in the white pick-ups: "You got people on the left who say tomorrow you can turn on the windmills and that will get us the electricity we need." This is simply not fact. This is hyperbole. But it's not just any hyperbole; it's right-wing, Fox News, Harold Hamm-ian hyperbole. It's the kind of stuff Republicans and the oil men who've bought them are using to try to make people scared of those radical -- though non-existent -- tree-hugging, Democratic bogeymen. Well, Senator Heitkamp, those radical Democrats are a figment of the right-wing's collective imagination. And they've apparently crawled under your bed, too.
Seriously... I've never met someone on the left who thinks you can power down coal plants tomorrow and run America's electrical grid on wind energy. Never. I've never heard of such a person. People "on the left" -- from my experience -- think we should be working on improving clean energy because (a) some day this planet is going to run out of fossil fuels (that's just a reality); (b) burning fossil fuels is hard on the planet, regardless of whether you believe in science; and (c) burning fossil fuels is hard on humans. Thinking about those facts might be a little hard on Kevin Cramer's brain, but that's just because it's about math and science. But Heitkamp gets this. She has to. She's pretty smart.
But, for discussion's sake, let's just pretend for a moment that Heitkamp has heard from some rogue nutbag on the left who thinks this. Is it fair to suggest that the balance we (or she) should try to strike is between the dense crowd of coal, oil and gas cheerleaders who exist in large numbers all over the country and some wayward, isolated, left-wing crackpot whose foil hat needs to be re-sized? Do you really think those two groups exist in fairly comparable depth and width? I assure you they don't.
No. It's not like that. This is not a fair characterization of the two sides in the real-world discussion. It would be far more realistic (and less hyperbolic) to say the balance needs to be between coal, oil and gas cheerleaders and people who think we should try to get more aggressive in working away from our addiction or dependence on fossil fuels. This "turn on the windmills" language is completely unhelpful.
I get frustrated when Democrats do this. This is basic "Don't Think of an Elephant" stuff. We can show how rational our positions are without inadvertently helping the anti-science Kevin Cramer's of the world. My suggestion to Heitkamp is that next time she talks about being reasonable or striking a balance, she should try to avoid adopting right-wing talking points when comparing people on the right to people on the left. She should be able to show how reasonable she is without perpetuating false Fox News/Republican messages.