Memo to the Bismarck Tribune, Fargo Forum, Minot Dialy News, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, Dickinson Press, Williston Herald and every other North Dakota newspaper: This is what real journalism looks like:
About five months ago, as western North Dakota was aching under the pressure of the oil boom, a well-connected Republican told me that Gov. Jack Dalrymple was planning to wait a few months before announcing a major investment of state money into things like new roads and public safety programs in the oil patch.
Waiting for what? The need for additional investment was already quite clear. And the state had just finished stashing away several hundred million dollars into various rainy day funds after meeting the budget requirements for the upcoming biennium.
My Republican friend told me the governor was waiting until summer, so his announcement would be timed just ahead of this fall’s general election. He said the governor himself acknowledged the timing would be much more beneficial, from a political standpoint, if the proposal was stalled for a few more months.
So, today, the governor followed through by announcing plans to spend $2.5 billion on road work and infrastructure projects funded by oil and gas impact grants. As part of the plan, local governments in the oil patch also will be allowed to keep a greater percentage of the revenue from the oil and gas tax.
Admit it: You knew Jack Dalrymple was not above this. You're a smart person. This stuff isn't that hard. As these "Christmas In July" stories have been coming out from the Governor's office, we've all recognized them for what they are: the worst kind of politics. This is clearly Dalrymple's transparent effort to buy votes by trying to be North Dakota's too-little-too-late Santa Claus.
But while Dalrymple has withheld this money from the Bakken, people are suffering. Entire communities are suffering. Western North Dakota is suffering, and Jack Dalrymple is playing hold-out Santa Claus. While Rome burns, Dalrymple's been fiddling.
And it's a big deal.
But it's not big enough for the Fargo Forum. You will never read this story in the Fargo Forum, Bismarck Tribune, Minot Daily News or Williston Herald. Why? Because all those newspapers are bought-and-paid-for by Jack Dalrymple and John Hoeven. They'll never publish a word that might make either of them look bad. Wouldn't dare. Because they're cowards.
Let's compare this Great Plains Examiner story to the sorry excuses for journalism we get from other North Dakota "news" outlets. Matt Bunk, the author of the above-referenced story, is not afraid of Jack Dalrymple. He is not afraid to expose the truth. If he was afraid of writing the truth, he wouldn't have written this story. Matt Bunk is a real journalist.
The state's other newspapers? They're propaganda-spewing, press-release republishing automatons.
North Dakota's other "journalists" should read the Great Plains Examiner and take good notes.
Rick Berg's polling numbers in North Dakota have consistently looked bad. No meaningful, worthwhile poll has been done in North Dakota showing Berg at anything better than a dead heat,* while most polls have showed Heidi Heitkamp ahead. This has to be scary for the out-of-state interests counting on Berg to sell his Senate votes to them.
He's spent over $70,000 this year doing polling, including $16,000 he paid for yet another poll last month.
But he's not releasing the poll results to anybody. Probably not even his funders.
So how are slumshark Rick Berg's corporate masters dealing with this? They're swamping North Dakota's media with expensive ads attacking Heidi Heitkamp. Here's what their spending looks like so far...
Here's a bit of a summary on who these groups are that are panicking about how well Heitkamp is doing over Berg:
(1) American Commitment: While "Politifact.org" hasn't rated American Commitment's (AC's) Heitkamp ad, they've rated other AC ads as "mostly false," "false" and "pants on fire." (Source) American Commitment, like most Koch Brothers Crime Family non-profits, is secretly funded and will not disclose which crime family member funds it.
(2) American Future Fund: Here's what Sourcewatch says about them:
American Future Fund, according to an opinion piece in the conservative New Republic, was "founded by long-time Republican operatives Alex N. Vogeland his wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, who together run the consulting agency Holtzman Vogel. The couple is joined by Republican pollster Jan Van Lohuizen, who previously worked for George W. Bush. The president of the group, Nicole Schlinger, is the former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party. ... This group is geared toward helping Republicans in congressional races, allowing others to focus on the presidential election. So far, their activities have included an extensive campaign ad against the Democratic contender in a Minnesota senatorial election, as well as some suspiciously timed polling in Louisiana that appears to have been coordinated with Freedom's Watch. It's difficult to track major donors, as their anonymity is a major bonus of 501(c)4 status." . According to NPR, a large number of AFF's leadership were members of Mitt Romney's 2008 failed campaign for president.
(3) Concerned Women for America, who are not: This organization advocates for teen pregnancy by advocating for abstinence-only education, which doesn't work. They advocate for prayer in schools and mandatory "intelligent design" teaching. They are against life-saving stem cell research and for discrimination against LGBT taxpaying citizens. (Source)
(4) Crossroads GPS: This is Karl Rove's group. You may know Rove by his other name, "Turd Blossom." He's the guy who has made dirty tricks political strategies into an art-form. Think of him as being like a human feces sculptor. The finished products might be effective and even look really nice, but it's still poop. That's who's attacking Heidi Heitkamp. And they won't tell you where they get their money. It could be coming from the Chinese Government, for all we know.
(5) U.S. Chamber of Communists: This group is funded by big polluters, carcinogen manifacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, Wall Street Bankers, insurance companies and other bottom feeders. (Source) These are the non-people people who are trying to change our democracy into a coin-operated government.
This is who is fighting for Rick Berg. And they're spending all this money in North Dakota to try to move Rick Berg's poll numbers.
And it's not working.
Look for them to either dump a LOT more money into North Dakota, or to give up because he's not worth it.
* Two polls (one poorly-done, the other done by a right-wing pollster) have been done in North Dakota showing Berg up, but both polls have nearly-universally discredited as fundamentally flawed and/or biased.
Kevin Cramer is the Republican candidate for North Dakota's open U.S. House seat. According to a press release he issued on February 3, 2012, Kate Bommarito is his campaign's Communications Director. Bommarito found an offensive, racist comment by a friend of hers to be so compelling that she "retweeted" it recently.
Kate Bommarito had no business pretending to be a journalist. She had no qualifications to be a journalist. She was a political hack. She was horrible writer. At her core, she was fundamentally incapable of writing a story in a non-partisan, politically neutral way, but she pretended to be able to do so. She also, apparently, lacks the ability to recognize when her friends' comments are racist and offensive.
And Kate Bommarito is Kevin Cramer's Communications Director.
Kate Bommarito should resign as Cramer's Communications Director by the end of the day today, or be fired. For Cramer to keep a racist on his staff is a tacit endorsement of Bommarito's racist, offensive "re-tweet." For Kevin Cramer to keep Bommarito on his staff is to endorse her racism.
“You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially,” the potential first lady said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “He’s a very generous person. We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person who is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it. Then, when he was governor of Massachusetts, didn’t take a salary for four years.”
“We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life,”
First off, as Politico points out, tithing is required by the Mormon Church of its members, which somewhat lessens the whole "we're so generous" angle.
Second off, even if you disregard the requirement, nobody is saying the Romney's aren't generous. She's sidestepping the point of the argument, which is that the Romneys are clearly hiding something in not releasing their returns at this point. There is something about Mitt that he is refusing to explain to us, and given the gravity of the office he is running for, secrecy is not a virtue. We went down that road with George Bush.
Third off, "all 'you people' need to know"?
WHAT?! I suppose she could have been a bit more condescending of the American public.
That line deserves an apology, if nothing else to the people that she was interviewing with, if not to the public. You don't call the voters or reporters "you people."
That was an important Associated Press (AP) story about how 20 firms were being fined because their toxic waste pits had overflowed, dumping hundreds or thousands of gallons of toxic waste across the western North Dakota prairie.
Remember the follow-up AP stories about how those $3 million in fines had been reduced down to nearly nothing?
The only place you could have learned about how the Industrial Commission issues press releases about $3 million in fines, but then only imposes 1/10 of that in fines is right here at NorthDecoder.com. Because none of the right-wing mainstream news services in North Dakota covered the important part of that story.
Here's the final spreadsheet that shows the proposed fines (i.e. $3 million) and the actual fines imposed (i.e. $349,000).
(That spreadsheet was provided to me by the Industrial Commission people. If you don't believe it's legit, then you should go ask them to verify its validity. I've done my job. I know their form is hard to read, but zoom in on it and/or print it out.)
So why do I mention this today?
Context. Context is something Rush Limbaugh's sheeple don't do. Only Democrats understand context. (Republicans can stop reading here.)
Yesterday we got ourselves ANOTHER Associated Press story about a huge, massive fine some press release surely said was being imposed on a company accused of polluting western North Dakota. Here's that headline:
But nowhere in the story does it mention the fact that, using the new North Dakota Industrial Commission math, $3,000,000 equals $300k or that $1.5 million will equal $150,000. Nowhere does it mention that stories like this are press release stories, and neither the Associated Press nor any of the rest of North Dakota's crack news community will ever do the important follow-up that needs to be done.
$1.5 million fine? Right. I'll believe it when I see it. This is just the corporate powers that own Jack Dalrymple, Wayne Stenehjem and Doug Goehring (the three people on the Industrial Commission) pretending like they're protecting our state from polluters, and the media letting them get away with it.
We deserve better elected officials AND reporters.
A Koch Brothers Crime Family funded "non-profit" out of Denver, Colorado, busily engaging in aggressive political attacks has sent three stalkers to North Dakota to follow Heidi Heitkamp around and shoot video of her. The first guy they sent to North Dakota was a guy named Josh Hursa (pictured on the right). Josh showed up several times in several venues, lied about what he was doing in North Dakota, and then -- after asking to join Heidi Heitkamp's parade entry as a supporter and getting a "Heidi" shirt -- he turned the video camera on her and started grilling her with stupid questions. You can read about that by clicking here. A blogger in Denver followed up with Josh Hursa's employer and wrote about on that. (Read more about that by clicking here.)
The second Koch Brothers Crime Family squad (The JV team) came to Bismarck about a week later. I visited with these two -- Caleb Bonham and Drew McCullough, of RevealingPolitics.com (pictured on the left) -- briefly at an Independence Day celebration picnic (on July 3rd) where Heidi spoke. Read about that by clicking here. They let on that Josh had been fired. (They said, as they chuckled, "Josh doesn't work with us anymore.")
Then a few days passed without hearing anything from these out-of-state, paid stalkers.
Then a few days ago the paid stalkers' website posted their attempt at a "humourous" video take down of Heidi Heitkamp.
I'll let you take a look at the video and then I'll comment on it. Here it is, in all its "Half-Hour News Hour"-esque glory...
So what's this video about? If you watched it just one time, you may have missed some of the detail, so I'll narrate what I see.
The Koch Brothers Crime Family funded, Denver-based outfit spent several thousand dollars sending three different paid stalkers to North Dakota to try to get some video of Heidi Heitkamp saying something worth attacking. They failed miserably, but they had to produce something to try to justify themselves to their funders. The best they could do is this video. The only thing in the video that's worth mentioning is the part where you see U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp as she's leaving the Bismarck/Mandan area Independence Day picnic after speaking to the crowd. As she walked away, she was -- as is often the case with candidates for the U.S. Senate -- on the telephone. (Heitkamp can walk, think and talk at the same time.) As she walked to her car, the Koch-funded video stalkers followed her. You will notice that while one Koch-stalker is trying to "apologize" to Heitkamp, the other is trying to get her to abruptly terminate her phone call and answer his "probing" non-question.
Here's my transcription of what you can hear on the video starting at about 1:20 on the ticker:
Guy #1: ...want to give some clear stances of where you guys are, where the campaign is going.
Guy #2: And frankly, today is ... we just wanted to _______ ourselves...
Guy #1 (talking over Guy #2): Mrs. Heitkamp can we at least get a response please?
Guy #2 (talking over Guy #1): Um. To sincerely apologize for the thing that happened before.
Guy #1 (talking over Guy #2): Can you. Can you. Can you at least give us a response please?
Guy #2: And we would love to have a chance to interview you.
So... this is how the deceptive, secretive Koch Brothers Crime Family-funded company -- Revealing Politics -- goes about apologizing? They send two more stalkers to chase Heitkamp down as she talks on the phone and walks to her car, while they simultaneously pepper her with a nonsensical question -- specifically "some clear stances of... where the campaign is going" -- that they then try to use against her to suggest she isn't answering her lying stalkers' questions? That's their apology?
Instead they show up and talk over one another while giving a non-apology apology while asking where Heitkamp's campaign's stance is going? What the hell kind of question is that? They want to know her stance on where her campaign is going?!? "Some clear stances on where you guys are... where the campaign is going"??? Is that even English? Were these guys drunk or on crack? That's clearly not even a good fake press question; it's gibberish. An unpaid blogger with cheeto dust all over his fingers could have put together a more cogent question. And that's what they've chosen to highlight in their hit piece?
Sounds to me like Revealing Politics needs some smarter and/or less high-on-crack interviewers. (They could also use an ounce of transparency, revealing their own funding sources.)
So then they take the video and try to turn it into a whiney, "Heidi Heitkamp won't talk to us! Waaaaaah!" take-down piece. And it shows she's on her phone and they're simultaneously pestering her with nonsense questions AND not-apologizing while attacking?
Really? That's how Kelly Maher, Josh Hursa, Caleb Bonham and Drew McCullough roll?
What a pathetic, shameful, embarrassing waste of money. Three Denver-based stalkers spend a combined total of -- what? -- a week or two in Bismarck? They rent a car, I'm sure. They're fed, I'm sure. They're armed with cameras. Thousands of dollars spent to get some video to use against Heidi Heitkamp... And this is the best they got?
You'd think the Koch Brothers and their crime family could hire smarter, less high, less dishonest, legitimately contrite right-wing crackpots.
Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot. Criticizing the suggestion by President Obama that entrepreneurs couldn't do what they do without America's formerly* top-notch public infrastructure (e.g. our education system, streets, roads, highways, bridges, public transportation, water, sewer, police, fire, courts, monetary system, etc., etc., etc.), Rush Limbaugh showed his grasp on history by talking about the invention of the automobile yesterday (Monday).
Before I get into what he said, though, by way of background, you need to know that unintelligent right-wingers are outraged today because President Obama suggested in a speech over the weekend that businesses benefit from all of the things that make up public infrastructure. Here's part of what he said:
We’ve already made a trillion dollars’ worth of cuts. We can make some more cuts in programs that don’t work, and make government work more efficiently…We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and what we then do is ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more …
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me, because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president – because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”
Now, if you're a simple minded right-winger, you're going to focus on the four words Rush Limbaugh has repeated, ad nauseam on your monophonic AM talk radio noisebox, and you won't even see, hear or think about the rest of what he said, because you have no sense of context. You'll fall into a typical right-wing ignorance trap and will start parroting the "You didn't build that" meme, because Rush told you to, and that's how you roll. It's unfortunate that you are so gullible, but you are what you are. And Rush Limbaugh is what you are, too.
Rush showed us what you are as he talked about the meme. Here's what he said:
“Now, a couple of interesting things about this. Let’s look at roads, for example. Which came first, the paved road or the car? Well, which necessitated which? I would submit to you that the car came along, and then the government built the roads. What Obama and Elizabeth Warren want you to believe is that government is the center of everything, that government starts everything. And government doesn’t. Government reacts,” Limbaugh said.
Think about that. There were no roads before there were cars. I've always assumed the first usable car was invented some time in the late 1800s. And now Rush has taught his sheeple that there were no roads before there were cars. I keep wondering how people got around in ancient Greece. It would have been soooo cool if they'd had paved roads for their chariots and horse-drawn wagons to use, wouldn't it? Or even just to walk around.
They did have paved roads.
THESSALONIKI, Greece — Archaeologists in Greece's second-largest city have uncovered a 70-meter (230-foot) section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was city's main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago.
The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for Thessaloniki's new subway system, which is due to be completed in four years. The road in the northern port city will be raised to be put on permanent display when the metro opens in 2016.
The excavation site was shown to the public on Monday, when details of the permanent display project were also announced. Seve*ral of the large marble paving stones were etched with children's board games, while others were marked by horse-drawn cart wheels.
So maybe we're getting our lines crossed because of the definition of the word "paved roads." Maybe Rush meant was "paved with modern asphalt" when there are lots of things roads can be paved with (e.g. marble, stone, bricks, etc.). And the first asphalt paved roads were constructed at least 50 or 60 years before the first automobiles appeared in America. Or... Maybe what Rush is saying is that, though the first cars didn't show up until the late 1800s, the Sumerians used Mitt Romney's Bain Capital CEO time machine and went back in time to 6,000 years ago and built paved roads. And they did it as part of a vast, pro-Obama, left-wing conspiracy to make the Great Rush Limbaugh look bad.
Okay, fine. But if that's the case, why didn't they also build cars in 4,000 BC, too?
Oh. I know; because the dinosaurs would have eaten them.
* By "formerly," I mean that Republicans have been letting our infrastructure turn to crap over the past 10 or 20 years, sometimes holding upgrades hostage to their radical, right-wing demands and, at other times, diverting/deferring maintenance in order to give tax breaks to big corporations and wealthy investors in their preferred coin-operated government.