I'm told there will be a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo tomorrow (Tuesday) morning on the Tribe's request for a preliminary injunction. The ACLU requested permission to file an amicus curiae brief, Benson County resisted that request, but Judge Erickson is apparently letting the ACLU participate.
It's interesting that this isn't Benson County's first Native American disenfranchisement rodeo. Benson County was pursued by the Justice Department in 2000 over the county's establishment of a single, at-large county commission, and the Justice Department won. (See "Native Vote" at pp. 63 and 80.)
In other North Dakota Court news, the lawsuit brought by former North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance executive Dr. James Long against WSI for wrongfully terminating him is scheduled to go to trial in Bismarck starting on November 1st. It is scheduled to take about three-and-a-half weeks. (I'll be amazed if it takes that long.)
You'll recall Long was terminated for blowing the whistle for what he perceived to be illegal conduct in a state government agency, Workforce Safety & Insurance. You'll also recall his boss was ultimately convicted of a felony for engaging in illegal conduct (though that case is on its way to the North Dakota Supreme Court for the third time).
Governor John Hoeven could have stepped in and fixed this case a year ago, but never had the stones to do so. Typical John Hoeven move.
The L.A. Times had a story, yesterday, about a recent poll that seems to answer this question:
The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it.
As recently as 1990, all but 7% of Americans claimed a religious affiliation, a figure that had held constant for decades. Today, 17% of Americans say they have no religion, and these new “nones” are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.
So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these new “nones” actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.
Maybe you should send a copy of this LA Times story, or the link, to your church's clergy.
I see the potential for a huge opening here. Not for political parties, not for politicians, but for Christian churches. You've got right-wing crack-pot leaders at at least one ultra-conservative "church" in Minnesota willing to jeopardize his church's tax exempt status by endorsing a candidate yesterday/Sunday. (You gotta wonder if this guy has his church's best interests at heart when he does that.) We also have plenty of fundamentalist, right-wing churches in North Dakota. I've heard of churches in the state quietly (and, in at least one instance, loudly) endorsing Republican candidates here in North Dakota.
Maybe there's an opening for church leaders in some (or all) churches to start advocating for progressive Christian values; things like, treating everyone like they were made in God's image and helping the least of these.
For roughly a month, North Dakota Teabaggers have been promoting what they were calling "one of the biggest TEA[bag] Parties in the midwest." They've been advertising on both of North Dakota's right-wing blogs, on their SpaceBook page, and on the airwaves. Blast emails have repeatedly gone out over the last month. (I know because I get them.) They've been doing everything they can to promote the mother of all midwestern Teabagger events.
So... what happened?
The last big rally of the election drew about 400, according to a count done by the rally’s organizer, the North Dakota Taxpayers Association. As the rally wore on, the crowd became sparser...
Corporate slumlord American Taliban Rick Berg and all of the 399 people who'll vote for him showed up at the biggest midwestern teabagger rally, ever? They've gotta be disappointed.
If you're following along, North Dakota Democrats can put together a crowd of 150 to 200 in 48 hours (and the Bismarck Tribune doesn't even send a reporter to the event), and teabaggers spend 4 weeks organizing the "largest teabagger rally in the midwest" and they can't get more than 400 people there?
Watch the shamelessly right-wing Bismarck Tribune make this lightly-attended teabagger event a front page story on Sunday. Watch the fact-challenged right-wing blogosphere and their wide-angle lens-shooting, photo-shop expert photographer pump the numbers up, too. I'm predicting they'll say there were 2,000 people there. What the hey; maybe 3,000.
Maybe North Dakota's teabaggers peaked a little too early.
One of the biggest differences between the United States of America and Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan was (or is) the treatment of women and the way the government handles women's issues. The Taliban obviously were an oppressive regime, doing all it could to control women, limit their rights and treat them as something less than men or humans, generally.
Here in America we have something very similar to the Taliban: fundamentalist, conservative, right-wing Republicans. I'm joining the roster of people who's comfortable calling them the "American Taliban." They surely won't like the association.
The American Taliban is always quick to point out they don’t stone people. This is hardly an accolade. Stoning — murder — is illegal in America, unless you are issued a uniform making it legal. So, the American Taliban has to resort to keeping women as second class citizens by legal means. Pay them less. Promote them less. Hire them less. No abortion for you. Love the fetus hate the child. No healthcare. Take away whatever rights by subtle and legal means. The result is still a second class citizen.
It's important to keep your eyes peeled for the American Taliban here in North Dakota. If we don't figure out ways to identify them, the American Taliban could take over our entire system of government, putting their collective boot on the neck of every woman in America.
The North Dakota Women's Network and American Association of University Women likely did not set out to publish an American Taliban spotting Field Guide when they issued their recent report entitled "Voting Record of North Dakota's 61st Legislative Assembly: Issues of Importance to the Women of North Dakota." But that is, in effect, what they have done. The two organizations picked 10 major bills-of-importance to women, and put together a scorecard for every North Dakota legislator.
Legislators are rated on a scale from 0% to 100%. Folks at 0% are more closely associating with the Taliban's oppression of women, and the folks at 100% more closely associating with American freedoms, liberty and fair treatment of women.
Here's the document I call "The North Dakota American Taliban Spotting Guide":
If you flip to page 4 of the report, you'll find Fargo's corporate slumlord Rick Berg -- a candidate for the United States House of Representative -- has been ranked at a 20%.
I quickly scanned the House score-sheet on womens' issues, and (if my count is right) there are seven (7) Republican-Taliban who scored 0%, sixteen (16) Republican-Taliban who scored 10%, and seven Republican-Taliban (7), including Berg, who scored 20%. I think the ones who scored 30% could reasonably be included in the "Republican-Taliban" caucus, but I'll cut them some slack today. Some might even include the ones who scored 40%.
I've got more to say about this report, on specific bills and issues, but I don't want to get too deep in this one blog post. It's really amazing that these old, white Republican men in the legislature (and, as it turns out, in the Governor's office) want to move America closer to the oppression of Taliban law for North Dakota women, and further from the "liberty" they chant about, ad nauseam, at their teabagger events.
Corporate slumlord Rick Berg voted against women 80% of the time. That's not a very good record.
I recognize there are women in Afghanistan who support the Taliban, too. Similarly, there are women in America who support the American Taliban. But for those of us who think America's freedoms and liberties should be made available to everybody -- not just white, male CEOs like Berg -- most of us agree corporate slumlord American Taliban Rick Berg really has no business getting any votes from North Dakota women.
I attended last night's Team North Dakota bus tour rally in Bismarck. I watched the Republican Party's operative move around the room and take lots of photos with his wide-angle lens, shooting photos away from the crowd so it looked like nobody was there. Or snapping off wide-angle photos before the crowd had all come through the door. I see North Dakota's trusty right-wing crack-pot blogger is estimating the crowd size -- based upon those photos -- at "two dozen" even though if you do a count from the photos he's posted, there are at least 65 people visible in the grainy photo. I suppose technically a thousand or a million would be "dozens," so let them call it "dozens," but whatever.
I asked the Elks Lodge building manager what he thought the crowd size was, and he said "a hundred fifty or so." It's his room and his building, so I'll take him at his word. That's not a great crowd size, but we're also talking about an event that only had about a couple days of planning and notice.
I just have a few things I want to say about the rally. First, right after the rally I had to go to a different room in the building (yes, it was the bar) for a meeting. The meeting probably lasted a half hour or 45 minutes. After the meeting, I went back into the ball room. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Congressman Pomeroy was still in the room, working his way around to every table and was spending time talking to every person there. I had heard some grumbling from some teabaggers that showed up that there wouldn't be a "question and answer" time. This was a public rally; not a press conference. But, having said that, if those clowns had wanted face time with Congressman Pomeroy, they could have done so during that extra hour or 90 minutes he spent after the rally, just talking to North Dakotans.
Second, Congressman Pomeroy said something that really surprised me: Fargo's corporate slumlord state legislator Rick Berg has skipped most of the Red River flood control meetings. He's only attended one (1) flood control meeting and skipped all the rest. Berg obviously doesn't care much about Fargo or dealing with the flooding problems. He probably thinks government funded flood control just moves us one step closer to socialism. "Send the taxpayer-funded National Guard home; it's every man for himself," the corporate slumlord would say.
Third, and speaking of teabaggers (above), there was this guy:
I don't know his full name, but I think he's "Ron." Early in the rally the emcee asked that everyone please rise to respectfully listen as a Native American drum circle did a song. Everyone in the room stood except this guy. Here's what he did while everyone else respectfully stood:
I'm not sure what message he was trying to send. I had watched him walk in and mill about for a while. With his pro-corporate slumlord Rick Berg shirt, he kind of stood out in the crowd. He had no outwardly obvious disabilities (aside from the intellectual disabilities apparent from his fashion sense). I can only guess that he sat through the song because he is a racist and wanted to make sure everyone knew he was being disrespectful to the Native American drum circle. Maybe this Ron guy has some other explanation. I don't know. To me his conduct just seemed racist and disrespectful.
And I don't say that lightly. I've seen this guy before. For example, I was at one of the many health care town hall meetings members of the delegation did last summer during the August recess and I snapped this photo.
Why did he have tape over his mouth?!? I don't know. What was written on the tape? I don't know.
I just recall that he seemed to me to be trying to be disruptive and disrespectful there too. Maybe that's just the modus operandi of a typical corporate slumlord Rick Berg supporter: disrespectful, disruptive and racist. Or maybe it's much less nefarious. Maybe Berg's supporters are at the developmental level of an attention-starved 8-year old. I don't know.
Anyway, I thought the rally was just fine, as rallies go. And I'm not a big rally person.
But the Elks Lodge's chili was good. And I like chili.
Today the Bismarck Tribune endorsed Corey Mock as he is clearly the more qualified candidate to serve as North Dakota Secretary of State.
Corey Mock would bring a fresh look at how the secretary of state’s office might be managed. A first-term Democratic legislator serving on the political subdivisions committee, Mock has had a look at the challenges of bringing the office’s software programming up to the standard necessary for business filings. A relatively recent graduate of the University of North Dakota, he works as an executive director of a free clinic based in Grand Forks.
You can tell how it pains the editors of the Tribune to endorse a Democratic-NPLer. They can't just write an accurate, glowing endorsement of Mock -- who deserves an accurate, glowing endorsement -- while unapologetically outlining the many Al Jaeger screw-ups brought to the Tribune's attention by other people (since the Trib doesn't have any investigative journalists on staff). You almost have to feel sorry for the Bismarck Tribune's corporation as its right-wing clowns found themselves writing their first endorsement that actually contained a rational, fact-based, intellectually defensible explanation for the endorsement. Too bad they couldn't have been rational when endorsing a PSC candidate or the best candidate for Agriculture Commissioner.
The Tribune's editors have suffered through the most painful part (for them) of election season; giving a token Democrat an endorsement. Now they can get back to the big corporate, bought-and-paid-for business of writing illogical, fiction-based editorials endorsing only Republicans.
You probably think the title of this blog post isn't fair. Well, you'd be wrong.
Doug Goehring is trying to win an election. He's tried before, but his campaigns have always been failures. He has been the boss at the Farm Bureau, where they're advocating for the elimination of school lunch programs, crop insurance and every other farm program. His organization wants to turn America's food production over to China. (Click here for more on that.) Those of you who've been around a couple years might also recall Goehring was at the center of a huge scandal involving Nodak Mutual Insurance just four years ago.
So now he's on the campaign trail, again, advocating the Farm Bureau's plan to destroy North Dakota's agricultural future. Here are excerpts from today's story in the Dickinson Press:
Do I have a vision for it? No,” Goehring said. “I think anyone who comes in and says they do is foolish because they can’t think about all the different situations that exist out here.”
Lauth asked what Goehring’s position on “fracking” fluid disclosure.
“We are on information overload in this society,” Goehring said. “I’m not in favor of doing that because when that information’s out, people just take it and run. And sometimes you have those that, maybe even through good intentions, end up taking something and doing a lot of damage.”
“I think the toughest thing for this legislature has been we don’t want to grow government, but in response to being responsible and providing service, I think the legislature now sees that we have to do that,” Goehring said.
You should go check out Kevin Cramer's website for his Public Service Commission campaign. Keep in mind, Kevin Cramer is running for a seat on the Public Service Commission. He essentially wants you to vote for him to be a judge on the board that regulates public utilities. So what sorts of things would you expect to read about when you go to look at his website? You might want to know how he'll approach a rate increase case, generally. You might want to know whether he has any innovative ideas about what should be done with the regulation of public utilities. You might want to know whether he thinks he can find a balance between the interests of the utilities, and the interests of utility consumers.
Sounds okay, right?
Go to his website (click here) and here are some of the things you will -- instead -- have to wade through:
Cramer seems to have forgotten he isn't running against Earl Pomeroy for a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives. He has a rant going after Congressman Pomeroy for voting for "universal health care"; something Pomeroy hasn't done. (Note to Kevin: There's a big difference between "universal health care" and the bill Pomeroy voted for. Huge difference. Look it up.]
Here's a snippet from Cramer's "Values" section, under "Policy":
Pro-Life - Life begins at conception.
Traditional Marriage - Same sex marriage does not sustain humanity or demonstrate responsibility and is therefore an act against humanity.
I'd be interested to hear Cramer explain how these "values" have anything to do with a utility rate case, or request for approval of a pipeline plan.
On his campaign website, you'll find elligies or eulogies Cramer apparently wrote or gave. Again, I can see putting that on your Facebook page, but this is his campaign website for his run for the North Dakota Public Service Commission. How does his eulogy for anybody have anything to do with his qualifications to be a public utility regulator?
Then there is this photo from Cramer's campaign website photo gallery:
What is this photo? There's no caption on the website. Is it a PSC meeting? Is it a campaign event? Whatever this photo is, how does it relate to Kevin Cramer's qualifications to serve on the North Dakota Public Service Commission?
Compare Cramer's campaign website to Democratic-NPL candidate Brad Crabtree's website. (Click here) The first difference that stood out for me is that Crabtree has biographical information on his website. (I couldn't find a bio for Cramer on his website. I wonder why that is?) But the main difference seems to be that Crabtree has detailed policy statements on things that relate to the position of public service commissioner.
It appears Cramer's only qualification to hold office is that he knows a bunch of political insiders.