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.
My friend Darrell Dorgan dedicated nearly 15 years of his life to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. I was with him at the Lonesome Dove bar on the Strip in Mandan back in 1994 or 1995 when a guy neither of us knew, Phil Baird, brought a bunch of us together and pitched the idea of a North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, a place to record the history of Cowboys, Indians and Ranches in North Dakota. Eventually Darrell signed on to raise the money and build the place. He retired last winter, and last week, at the annual induction ceremony of Hall of Fame honorees in Medora, he gave the keynote address as his farewell to the several hundred members he had recruited over the years.
Darrell didn’t mince any words. In Medora, the epicenter of the controversy over protection of the Elkhorn Ranch, surrounded by conservative ranchers who don’t much like the city folks who call themselves “environmentalists” and stick their noses into ranchers’ business without being asked, Darrell wove together a message of preservation and cowboy values that left the several hundred attendees quietly thinking about what is really important in North Dakota these days. Nothing but positive reaction, Darrell said afterwards.
Here’s his speech, along with a bit of cowboy poetry.
I see many great friends and it’s a wonderful day; a great day to look across the Badlands, a land of beauty, dreams, and eternal hope.
But lest we forget, it was just 150 years ago, men fought to the death to lay claim to this untamed landscape of grass, buttes and buffalo
The Native Americans claimed it; the Army, following the policy of Manifest Destiny, took it; the buffalo were slaughtered; the Texas Trail Drivers came North with Longhorns, and a ranching industry was born.
Homesteaders came from across the world seeking their chance for a piece of the Great American Dream. A chance to live in a democratic society, a chance to vote, a chance to own 160 acres, raise a family, worship as they wanted and become part of a growing and free society. And, despite drought, hoppers, and blizzards they, and you, survived.
Today this land is again in transition. It’s not a question if there will be large-scale energy development, it’s a question of how fast, and on whose terms. You will have to decide if roads through roadless areas, truck after truck, power lines and strip mines, are progress. Or, if we can coexist by limiting the pace of development; saying no to intrusions like hundreds of flares that light the night sky and can be seen from space.
Because of the energy boom, our economy is the envy of the nation, and something cataclysmic happened earlier this month. The incredible pace of development meant that sales tax receipts in Williston outpaced Fargo.
The economic pendulum is now swinging this way and unfortunately, money doesn’t always translate into good decision making.
Unfortunately, decisions on the pace, impact and wealth being taken from western North Dakota are still being made by people in other parts of the country and state, not by those who live where the impact is dramatically changing lifestyles and daily economic realities.
The negative aspects of energy development are not all the fault of the industry. There are good oil companies and good people who have come here looking for a new life, a new start. There are also bad oil companies and thoughtless, long-time residents who seem to have lost sight of the fact that Prairie provides, when it is taken care of.
Dan Kalil of Williston is a friend of mine; a Cowboy Hall of Fame Trustee. He’s also a County Commissioner. Dan was recently quoted as saying, “We need to stop. Take a break. We can’t keep up. We need to figure out where we’re going.”
Think for a moment with me and wonder, might now be the time to slow the fast pace of change until we decide what the future will hold? How many people, roads and homes do we want? How many flares are too many, how many salt water and brine spills are too much? Who pays the price, and will the unmitigated lightning pace of development, without adequate planning, forever change our lifestyle, permanently damage the land we live on and proudly call our home, our heritage?
The Hall of Fame is about preserving culture, heritage, history and yes, celebrating responsible leadership. Today’s new inductees will join the nearly 150 who have gone before, and grace the walls of the Hall of Honorees here in Medora. It is where the heritage of the great caretakers reside.
The people and animals we honor are all leaders; pioneers. We want their exploits to live on because if the last Resistol becomes a hard-hat, if the last wind mill becomes a drilling rig, we want a heritage preserved.
Ours is a way of life that fascinates the world. And, we should strive mightily to preserve parts of the Badlands and Grasslands without a road, and a former President’s ranch without a gravel pit of greed, or bridge running through it
If we were to stand in Trafalgar square in the heart of London this afternoon, or stand by the Arc De Triumph in Paris we will see billboards just like we have here. But the billboards in Europe do not feature drilling rigs or roads across the prairie, they have on them, pictures of the Marlboro Man, scenes of our western heritage.
Willie Nelson, you were simply wrong. Mamas should let their babies grow up to be cowboys. Cowboys know you’ve got to plan a ride. They know, sometimes you have to slow down to get where you’re going so you’ll enjoy it when you arrive, and afford to stay.
People across the world want to be a cowboy. I have traveled the world and have never met anyone who really wanted to be a Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Bernie Madoff or Donald Trump. But, I’ve met hundreds of people who would like to ride a horse, be a cowboy. They know about Lonesome Dove, Sitting Bull, Sakakwea, Teddy Roosevelt, trail drives and people like you…..
A lot of you have thanked me for my role in building the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Thanks, but I didn’t do it. We did it together because we believe in preserving the heritage and history of what is right and what needs to be remembered. Most of us believe in preserving a land and a life style. So do many in the energy industry, and if good people, with a common goal, sit and talk rationally, I’ll bet a compromise can be reached . . . but someone has to reach out . . .
All of us have faults and I’m sure you would agree, mine are many. It always helps my perspective when I remember the words of Wally McCrea, who wrote one of the country’s iconic pieces of cowboy poetry, and called it
“What does Reincarnation mean?” A cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, “It happens when Yer life has reached its end. They comb yer hair, and warsh yer neck, And clean yer fingernails, And lay you in a padded box Away from life’s travails.”
“The box and you goes in a hole, That’s been dug into the ground. Reincarnation starts in when Yore planted ‘neath a mound. Them clods melt down, just like yer box, And you who is inside. And then yore just beginnin’ on Yer transformation ride.”
“In a while, the grass’ll grow Upon yer rendered mound. Till some day on yer moldered grave A lonely flower is found. And say a hoss should wander by And graze upon this flower That once wuz you, but now’s become Yer vegetative bower.”
“The posy that the hoss done ate Up, with his other feed, Makes bone, and fat, and muscle Essential to the steed, But some is left that he can’t use And so it passes through, And finally lays upon the ground This thing, that once wuz you.”
“Then say, by chance, I wanders by And sees this upon the ground, And I ponders, and I wonders at, This object that I found.
I thinks of reincarnation, Of life and death, and such, And come away concludin’: ‘Slim, You ain’t changed, all that much.’”
I think Wally was talking about me . . . Thanks for having me today. Thanks for your friendship and your trust. Someone once asked me what I’d gotten out of the past 14 years. It’s pretty basic. I think I can go across the state and never have to buy a cup of coffee . . . Doesn’t get much better than that.
Now then, that might be one of the best speeches given in North Dakota. If you’re interested in learning more about or supporting the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, take a look at their website. There’s membership information there. And next time you see Darrell, say “Thanks.”
Earlier this week we reported about a Colorado blogger working for slumlord Rick Berg supporters who showed up in North Dakota, pretended to be a supporter of former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp's U.S. Senate campaign. We told you this new father and Republican Party operative from Denver Colorado -- Josh Hursa -- had come in to North Dakota, traveled to three different venues (Linton, Mandan and Beulah) misrepresenting who he was, trespassed into Heitkamp's parade entry and started video-recording her and asking obnoxious questions of her as she tried to greet friends and supporters watching the Beulah, North Dakota, parade. Hursa identified himself only as "Josh" and said he was with something called "Revealing Politics." We posted photos of Josh Hursa wearing a "Heidi for U.S. Senate" shirt he had gotten by pretending, before the parade, to be a supporter. And we figured out what "Revealing Politics" is and told you all about it and him. (Read that here.)
Apparently there has been some more fall-out from NorthDecoder's exclusive story. We'll let Jason Salzman of SquareState.net relay to you what Josh's boss, Kelly Maher, said when she was told one of her trackers had done this.
"Our job is to tell the story, not be the story," [Maher] told me. "I want to tell the story. I will never instruct or suggest that anyone misrepresent themselves affirmatively. That's never acceptable from my perspective."
By "affirmatively," Maher means actively misrepresenting yourself (e.g., telling a public figure that you're something you're not), as opposed to simply observing (videotaping a progressive candidate even if you oppose that candidate) or asking questions.
Progressives and conservatives and anyone else would agree with Maher, right?
I sent Maher the NorthDecoder blog post, and asked what she thought of it, and what she'd do about Hursa, assuming the allegation was true. She replied:
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I am very concerned to see this post.
Due to the nature of this piece what I can say is two-fold:
1) This author clearly is playing fast and loose with "facts" asserted. He clearly confuses my previous project and an entirely different one. He makes conjecture about funding and structure without proper evidence or clarity. Based on what I read here about myself, it brings all assertions elsewhere about others in to question. (Editor's note: This is in response to a portion of Nodland's blog post about Maher's current and previous work.)
2) Due to our organizational policies I cannot comment on personnel issues.
I love Maher's responses to Salzman's question. In response to my assertion her organization is taking Koch Brothers Crime Family money, her response is [and I'm translating this for you], "Sure, he's right. But he can't prove it because we're really sneaky about how we do this." I also like the part where she doesn't tell us Josh got fired.
As Salzman notes, if you check the "Revealing Politics" staff page, you'll see Hursa's biographical information has now been completely removed. There is no longer any reference to him on their website. As I noted in a comment after the earlier story, Hursa also -- after we posted our story here at NorthDecoder -- locked down his Facebook page. He has also changed his Facebook profile picture. I almost feel sorry for the guy. Poor guy turned himself into a news story by doing something that's probably unprecedented, thereby causing himself to -- possibly -- get in trouble with his employer. If he lost his job, I'm sure he'll land and solidly on both feet. There are plenty of jobs in North Dakota's oil field. I'll bet he has connections out there. Maybe even the guy who's funding Maher's non-profit attack machine.
And hopefully there's a lesson Rick Berg's supporters should take away from this.
Not sure what that lesson is, but maybe it's out there.
Second, I'll tell you that the Supreme Court held that the "individual mandate" provision is an acceptable exercise of Congress's taxing authority. But more importatly, I want to be sure everybody understands the significance of the decision on the individual mandate. The individual mandate has never been a "liberal" or "progressive" idea. It is not a "Democratic" idea. The "individual mandate" was dreamed up by the far-right-wing-fringe Heritage Foundation, it was approved by Newt Gingrich and virtually every other Republican, and it was first signed into law by Mitt Romney. It only became a part of the Affordable Care Act -- or "Obamacare," if you will -- because Republicans and the insurance companies who (along with oil companies) own the Republican Party insisted that it be in any health care law. It only became unpopular with them when it became a part of legislation signed into law by Barack Obama.
To be clear about this, "individual mandate" is a Republican idea. Universal single payer healthcare -- or even a "public option" -- would have been a Democratic idea. The Affordable Care Act is, was and -- perhaps -- always will be a huge piece of compromise legislation, containing some Democratic ideas (e.g. coverage for children on parents' insurance until the kid is 26; no pre-existing condition exclusions; no cap on lifetime coverage; expansion of Medicaid etc.), and some Republican ideas (e.g. individual mandate). The decision to uphold the "individual mandate" today is not a Democratic victory. If anything, it is a victory for compromise, but also for Republicans and their insurance companie masters. The decision to strike the expansion of Medicaid is not a loss for Democrats; it is a loss for people who need help paying their medical bills.
Any information I have gotten regarding the specifics of the decision has come from the great coverage at SCOTUSBlog. I have not taken any information from CNN, where they have a tendency to get things wrong from time to time. As here...
So you know how in Microsoft Word you can turn on "Track Changes" and it will show you all the changes you've made to your document while you have that option on? It allows people who are proofreading a document to show the edits that they are making, along with notes, so that in the end, a person can accept or reject changes and show a final document. Apparently Cramer's folks were tech savvy enough to use that feature in one of their press releases, but not savvy enough to turn it off when they copied and pasted that press release into their email program and hit "Send." Here's the result:
As you can see, not only do we get to see what Cramer started with in his original campaign announcement, which appears to have been the jumping-off point for this press release, we also got to see what ways he is trying to spin his candidacy and what parts of his campaign that even put in good light, he would like to ignore, like where he slipped by all but one of his primary opponents by skipping the state convention entirely, opting to only run in the primary instead. I also find it a little amusing that even though it was deleted once, Cramer's folks were still unable to use proper english in describing Pam Gulleson. It's "DemocratIC opponent", not "Democrat opponent." Learn the difference between a noun and an adjective or just admit you're using a slur.
Also, while they chose to still mention all three polls that have been done on the house race, they opted not to display the individual results of them. They instead left up an average of the three of them. That's smart to do when you look at the numbers over time. The most recent poll (and considering the questionable sources and/or methodology of the other two[see our posts on them here and here], the only one worth really considering), showing the race narrowing, with Cramer below 50%, considered by many to be the threshold of inevitability. Erasing the details of the polling paints a much rosier picture than reality.
They also nixed the comparison between Cramer's fundraising and Gulleson's. Given that hers is significantly higher than his, I'm surprised that they opted to mention that in the first place.
In the end, Kevin Cramer is glossing over the less attractive parts of his campaign and trying not to point out that he has a real strong challenger who, as her name recognition grows, so do her poll numbers, and also happens to be a prolific fundraiser who is more than keeping up despite the fact that a top-tier senate race in the state is sucking up a lot of the donor money in the state.
Every campaign does this when they're trying to attract donors, its rare when we get to see what happens behind the scenes. Cramer's folks were just a little too trigger happy when they sent out their email.
Pro Tip: Always pause for 10 seconds before you hit "send" on an email to the public and take a moment to read it. It could save you some major embarrassment in the end.
I would guess that North Dakota's Secretary of State Al Jaeger might be a nice enough man, in some social settings. He's probably active in his church. He's probably a talented Pinochle and/or shuffle board player. He might even be a good fly fisherman. But he is a HORRIBLE Secretary of State.
Consider the fact that the Secretary of State's computer upgrade is 86.7% behind schedule, and it is 21.3% over budget.
It is unacceptable to have a state agency 86.7% behind in a nearly-million-dollar computer upgrade, and 21.3% over budget. This is clearly a case of managerial incompetence. This cannot possibly fall on anybody's shoulders but Al Jaeger's and the people who voted for him.
The Republican Party of Texas pulled the curtain back, just a little, on the true beliefs of Republicans everywhere. They are against critical thinking.
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
"Critical thinking" is "simply a relabeling of outcome-based education)"? Seriously?
I thought critical thinking was a basic life skill. Critical thinking is the ability to distinguish between the truth and fiction. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze data and understand it. But Republicans don't want people to be able to do that.
Is it a surprise to anybody that Republicans don't want people to have critical thinking skills? They want their sheep to watch Faux News, believe everything they hear and read, and step in line.
Here in North Dakota you see that in Republican education policies. Increase tuition so only very few can afford it. Eliminate Pell Grants. Kill the university system. Increase class size. Close more and more schools so kids in rural communities have to ride buses for 2 or 3 hours (each way) to get to and from school. Sit back and wait for the impending education disaster in Williston to figure itself out.
All these things make sense when you consider that it's against the Republican Party's best interests for people to be able to think critically.
North Dakota Congressman Rick Berg has made "the North Dakota Way" a central theme of his campaign for the United States Senate seat being abandoned by Senator Kent Conrad. What's been fascinating is watching Berg define his version of "the North Dakota Way." A story developed over the weekend that should give us all a pretty good idea of what Rick Berg's "North Dakota Way" is all about.
A young man showed up at a parade in Linton, North Dakota (pop. 1,020), on Thursday of last week (June 21st) and approached a campaign staffer for Heidi Heitkamp. Linton is a small town about 70 minutes south and east of Bismarck. At some point in the conversation the young man indicated he was unemployed, he said he was from Billings, Montana, and was staying with his brother in Bismarck for the summer. He said things complimentary to Sen. John Tester (D-Montana), and said things complimentary of Heidi Heitkamp. He was given a volunteer card by the staffer.
The next day -- Friday, June 22nd -- the same young man showed up at the Heitkamp campaign headquarters in Mandan, North Dakota, and asked if anyone was making volunteer calls. He apparently wanted to volunteer to make calls. No calls were being made that day, so he left. On Saturday, June 23rd, the same young man showed up at the parade in Beulah, North Dakota, (pop. 2,900). Beulah is about 80 or 90 minutes north and west of Bismarck. The young man asked to get a volunteer t-shirt and was given one. He put it on. He was asked whether he would sign up to volunteer for the campaign and declined. At about that point, this young man pulled a "flip-cam" out of his pocket, turned it on, and he got all up in Heidi Heitkamp's grill, asking her questions. I don't know what the questions were, but -- based upon what I've been told -- they were pretty much the sorts of typical right-wing garbage you'd expect to get from a script prepared for a fake attack "journalist" like Shawn Hannity or Bill O'Reilly. I'm sure you'll be watching the video some time soon.
He was asked to identify himself and identified himself only as "Josh" and said something about "Revealing Politics." He continued his bullying, antagonistic tactics, trying to elicit a response, following Heitkamp through most or all of the parade route. He wore a "Heidi" shirt the whole time he harassed her. (See pictures herein.)
He followed Heitkamp around shooting video of her as she interacted with parade watchers, supporters and friends.
This is what Rick Berg's "North Dakota Way" looks like. This young man -- Josh -- is what we can look forward to from Republicans in North Dakota for the next several months.
So... who is "Josh" and what is "Revealing Politics"?
Well... Here's the biographical information for "Revealing Politics" contributor, Joshua Hursa:
Joshua Hursa was born in California and raised in New Jersey. He started off in politics at age sixteen, volunteering for his local state assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll in his office and his re-election campaign. In college, Josh served for two years as the Rider University College Republican chairman and worked for U.S. Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ). Moving to Colorado in 2009, he worked for Colorado State Representative Cindy Acree (R-Aurora) as both an intern and an aide. In 2010, he worked for Colorado State Treasurer Candidate JJ Ament as statewide Field Director. Recently, Josh has worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee as a shadow for Democrat State Representative and congressional candidate Sal Pace (D-Pueblo). He served on numerous boards in the city of Aurora and currently serves as Membership Director of the Denver Metro Young Republicans. Josh and his wife Dorothy and their newborn daughter Charlotte live in Denver, Colorado.
Josh's most recent "like" on his Facebook page is "Media Trackers." I could write an entire blog post on "Media Trackers" and maybe one day will.
On Josh's "LinkedIn" page, he identifies himself as a current employee -- an account manager -- at "Sunward Consolidation Group."
Here's Joshua Hursa's current Facebook profile picture (Facebook) --- >
Same guy, right?
Josh is obviously a right-wing hatchet man. He obviously lied, on behalf of Rick Berg's support system, to infiltrate Heidi Heitkamp's campaign. He lied about being from Montana. He lied about being unemployed. He lied about supporting Senator Tester and Heitkamp. He lied about wanting to volunteer to make phone calls for Heidi. Nobody should be surprised that he's working to support Rick Berg. With a lying track record like this guy has, he'll fit right in with North Dakota's Republican leaders.
Contacted for a comment on this story, Heitkamp's campaign spokesman Brandon Lorenz provided the following statement:
"It's unfortunate that out of state trackers feel the need to deceive campaign staff in order to get video of Heidi. Maybe if Rep. Berg would take us up on our offer and agree to do more than one debate -- we've challenged him to seven -- they would get the video they need and get their questions answered."
When it registered as a business in Colorado, "Revealing Politics" listed its address as 1445 Market Street, Suite 300, Denver, Colorado 80202. That address is the address of the "Hale Westfall LLP" Law firm. Hale Westfall is a law firm worth digging into. Attorney and named partner Richard Westfall is currently "General Counsel for the Colorado Republican Party." (Source) Attorney Ryan Call, at the firm, "currently serves as the Chairman of the Denver County Republican Party." (Source) It is clearly a Republican Party outcropping.
Hale Westfall, LLP. (Source) ("Revealing Politics" changed its registered agent to "Kevin E. Holst" in April of 2012.) I've tried to track down a copy of the 990 nonprofit tax return for "Citizen Media" in the usual places, but I can't seem to find it. Maybe they don't believe in filing tax returns. Since "Citizen Media" is a for-profit company, its tax returns are private. It's unlikely anybody will will ever know who paid Citizen Media to put up the attack ads it bought.
The cool thing about being a 501(c)(4) nonprofit whose principal place of business is nothing more than a filing cabinet in a Denver law office is that you can keep secret everything about your organization, including your funding sources. Here's what "Revealing Politics" head honcho Kelly Maher says about it...
"We're a 501(c)(4), so we're not required to disclose our donors," Maher says. "We're not an express advocacy group, but an education and awareness group. But I can tell you that they're Colorado dollars -- a group of conservative donors who are interested in what we've been able to accomplish thus far."
WhoSaidYouSaid launched in December 2009, with Maher and partner Mary Smith creating what the former calls "a video-based blog format." Why? "There's a generation of young voters coming forward who grew up, as I did, watching Sesame Street. They're really used to processing information by video, and generally in under a minute."
Yeah. "Education and awareness group" nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
Let's be really clear about one thing here: This is Koch Brothers Crime Family money, again, coming into North Dakota for Rick Berg. It may or may not be the Koch Brothers themselves laundering their money through Denver, but it's certainly a member of the "Koch Brothers Million Dollar Crime Family." When Maher says Revealing Politics is a 501(c)(4) supported only by Colorado dollars, you should believe that just as much as you should believe that her lacky, stalker Josh Hursa, is from Montana and that he wanted to volunteer to make phone calls to help Heidi Heitkamp's campaign.
Thanks, Josh, for making more clear to us what Rick Berg means whan he says "North Dakota Way." He means lying, cheating and stealing to try to get ahead. He means stalking and harassing people.
Thanks for showing us how slum lord Rick Berg and the thugs who support him plan to run his campaign in 2012.