RON SCHALOW: Cramer’s Caging Of The Lambs & Silence Of The Trump Cult

That rumble of keystrokes you hear on horizon is the sound of every North Dakota GOP official pounding out a condemnation of President Trump’s new barbaric policy of taking children from their parents and securing the tykes in cages. You won’t see that use in the chain-link fence catalog.

Wait, nope. It’s just that stupid building climbing raccoon. Gawd. I already gave the big rat a ham sandwich. What now?

Actually the only noise coming from North Dakota Republicans is the faint tinkle of testosterone dripping off their bodies and the hush of calcium evaporating from the spine.

Or they agree with Trump’s evil policy and they’re too bashful, or to flaccid, to mention it.

I think I’ve “liked” the political Facebook page of every legislator in state. Some don’t have pages because they don’t know there is such thing. The rest of them are pretty quiet, although only a handful actually post anything with any regularity.

I don’t like to miss any of the personal videos. “They won’t tell you this in guvm’t schools, but grass creates as much oxygen as trees.” That isn’t close to true, but it’s good to know who we’re dealing with. That’s my excuse.

I’m surprised that Sen. Oley Larsen in Minot hasn’t laid the most obscure Bible verse in the book on us. The one that recommends parents hand their children over to strangers.

“Thouest the evil man stay evil lest he grabbest Lou’s second born.” —Doofusmoronity 11

The senator never really makes much sense. Larsen has claimed that he’ll offer a bill, in the next session, that would require teaching of the Bible in public schools. His Marshmallow rant is still on YouTube. It’s a hoot.

Oley is part of the trio in District 3, which claims to be most religious in the state. They failed this test, but these dudes campaign with real Dilly Bars, so they’re serious.

There are quite a few North Dakota politicians who can’t wait to mention their religiosity. Pat Finken, Kevin Cramer’s campaign manager, wrote in an op-ed that Kevin is deeply religious. Deep. His faith is so deep that Kev was able to find the forgiveness needed to absolve a window peeper. A sex criminal. Cramer took that stance on a radio show, and it needed a little spin.

Then, there is John Hoeven, who quotes us a slice of air:

“No one wants to see children separated from their parents. We must enforce the existing law, but we should do so in as humane a manner as possible.” — Sen. John Hoeven

But the deeply religious Cramer is all in with Trump on the child torture fun. It’s Democrats fault. It’s a lie, but Kevin doesn’t care. The New York dick rates higher than God. Cramer hasn’t a speck of morality. Trump has never been in a church on purpose and is an ethically bereft sociopath. Our POTUS is void of empathy.

“The issue of how to deal with the children of parents trying to come to this country illegally has rightly become a focus of our immigration debate. While we are a nation of laws, we must always show compassion in the enforcement of those laws, especially when dealing with children who are often innocent bystanders. Democrats must set aside their political ambitions and work with Republicans to fix our broken immigration system and secure our borders. Only then will we truly address the problem in a way that prevents separation of children from their families, respects the law of the land and protects the American people.” — Congressman Kevin Cramer

This isn’t part of a debate. It’s a hostage situation.

So, where is the compassion, congressman? You are complicit in this wicked abuse.

Political ambitions? You chose a vile, cruel, sadistic route to avoid annoying the orange spaceman.

Speak up Republicans:

“You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,” John Sandweg (former ICE director) explained.

That scenario could be hard to swallow for immigration hardliners who argue against spending welfare dollars on immigrants and are opposed to a path to citizenship for children brought into the country illegally.

Sandweg says he has seen permanent separation happen when a parent is deported without his or her child.” — NBC

Ponder on that, Oley, and the North Dakota GOP

NANCY EDMONDS HANSON: After Thought — In Search Of The Phantom Workforce

The governor and the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce are spending $4,000 this month to ask 1,000 businesses what they need to grow and prosper. I wish they’d talked to me first. I know they’re awfully keen to pinch those budgetary pennies. I’d have been happy to tell them for the price of a cup of coffee:

People. North Dakota needs people. Lots of people. Without them, the booming growth curve stalls.

Like their neighbors in Minnesota, North Dakota businesses are feeling the squeeze big time … not for lack of ideas, grit or even sometimes money, but the aching shortage of humans to do actual work. North Dakota Job Service lists 14,400 spots that are wide-open. The director estimates the actual number is significantly larger, since many openings don’t ever make it to the statewide employment listings. Not only that: Economic developers expect the need to not only persist but double in just a few years.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department confirms the whole nation is hurting for help. For the first time in the history of statistics, it reports more job openings nationwide than there are unemployed workers to fill them.

What a shortsighted time to close the doors to eager immigrants!

Gov. Doug Burgum cites North Dakota’s undersized workforce as its single biggest barrier to economic growth. “We need a new way of finding solutions to this critical challenge,” he’s told the media. He touts the employer survey as a “unique approach” based on “priorities derived from detailed data and evidence-based research.”

Don’t expect any stunning revelations. The survey — take it yourself at —will undoubtedly turn up the kind of so-called “insights” that have been ridiculously obvious since at least the 1990s. Back then, economic development professionals were already predicting a shortage of the kind of smart, knowledgeable workers who are in short supply today … as well as a drought of workers with lower levels of skills needed to keep the wheels of our daily lives turning.

We desperately need more warm bodies here in the underpopulated heart of America. “Help wanted” pleas ring out from the Bakken to the Minnesota border — and not only in the slightly urban oases out here on the prairie. A good share issue out in the vast lands dismissed just 25 years ago as desolate Buffalo Commons. Census figures celebrate growth in the largest communities, but their explosive growth is offset by the sobering rest of the story — the rest of the state, where the population is draining away or, at best, static. Plenty of ideas have been sparked to bring life back to the withering. What they need now are willing hands to put to work. Ironically, as small towns shrink, their need for solutions grows — right along with the aching demand for living, breathing humans to make them happen.

Bitter but true: There just aren’t enough home-grown humans here to fill the roaring demand. Isn’t it weird, then, that so many on the pro-business, pro-growth side of the aisle are trying so hard to keep willing — no, desperately eager — workers out?

True, we already recognize some partial solutions. We can ramp up vocational and professional training, targeting the industries starving for that talent. Economic developers and educators have been recommending that since at least the early 1990s. Are we there yet?

But in a labor market as tight as today’s — 2.6 percent unemployment in North Dakota, 3 percent in Minnesota — retraining less-skilled workers, at best, pushes the shortage downward, where it’s already acute. Newly trained and promoted employees leave behind the less well-paid slots where we found them. Those empty positions, not as glamorous but equally essential in their way — will need to be filled, too.

We need workers of all skill levels, top to bottom. Service businesses, retail, food service, manufacturing, farming … they need people, too. If we can’t grow enough of our own, transplants are the only alternative.

Growing our own — well, that’s a long-term strategy. The drift of young Dakotans from their rural roots toward brighter lights is a family tradition. Better opportunities and more attractive communities can bring some of them back. Witness the holiday job fairs that economic developers have been sponsoring over the past 20 years: Snag their attention when they come home from the Big City to visit the folks at Christmas. But success comes by the dozens. Employers are hungry for thousands.

What’s the alternative? Transplants. The governor suggests looking beyond our borders. Perhaps North Dakota can seduce talent from other corners of the U.S. Artisan breweries, hip boutiques and downtown lofts may appeal to some for whom we’re competing. Two challenges make their large-scale recruitment a long shot. The rest of America is on the hunt for those same promising imports. And the good life on the prairie, no matter how chill, is never going to fully mask the bitter pill in the booming banquet of semi-urban goodies: Winter.

But, nevertheless, there’s hope in sight. Let’s look to history, for we’ve been in this spot before.

Hopeful humans follow the scent of opportunity from distant, less blessed shores. They’re the very folks whom the current regime is working so ferociously to drive away.

Immigrants are the heroes of our nation’s past. Each emerging labor gap — the factories, the fields, the intercontinental railroads – has been filled by waves of newcomers in search of better lives. Seldom greeted with open arms, often reviled by those who got here first, we’ve persisted to build the world’s greatest economy.

Yes, “we.” You and I are here today thanks to an endless supply of forebears who left home in search of nothing more than an opportunity to work hard and raise their kids in safety. But talk about shooting yourself in the foot! On the one hand, ICE agents round up, detain and deport undocumented workers right out of the fields and off the packing plant floor. They deport longtime productive citizens and strive to deny the DREAMers, prime young adults who were brought here as children. They’re trying to shrink the numbers of legal immigrants. They’re whipping up blind nationalistic fervor that blames outsiders for all of America’s largely imagined ills.

And then our leaders claim to be shocked — shocked! — by the desperate shortage of labor that’s crippling sectors of our economy.

Immigrants now, as ever, are willing to start at the bottom. Historically, they’ve labored in sweatshops, cleaned houses, worked the line in canneries, hoed beets, slaughtered hogs and built the great railroads. When old Americans didn’t want the work, new Americans did — and do.

America has always counted on the people whom the Statue of Liberty beckons to do the hard work of building a successful nation. Those tired, those poor, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free have bent to the task to earn their keep and support their families. Let’s not kid ourselves: Virtually all of us come from that same tradition. All of my own great-grandparents, less one, crossed borders to get here. Most of them did it freely, since passports and border control were rare before World War I.

All of my great-greats came from elsewhere — Norway, Germany and Canada — with one exception. My maternal grandfather boarded a Norwegian freighter alone at 14 and disembarked in Canada, then walked south along the Red River. In today’s heated parlance, Grandpa was an undocumented, unaccompanied minor.

Talk to some of the new Americans around us now … and listen closely. You’ll hear gratitude for the land of the free, where they can live in peace, educate their kids and labor as hard as humanly possible to build new, safe, productive lives. As immigrants have always been, they’re willing to start with the kinds of lowly tasks that homegrown incumbents often view with disdain.

The governor’s workforce survey will undoubtedly come up with laser-sharp needs and result in erudite recommendations. Yes, let’s empower today’s underemployed North Dakotans and Minnesotans. Let’s get them the education and training they need. (Sorry to ruin the suspense. That’s guaranteed to be the big takeaway.)

But, at the same time, let’s open our doors wide to ambitious, eager transplants who are actually anxious to join us. Let’s welcome them. Let’s offer them a productive path to citizenship, just as our own families achieved not all that long ago.

They’re longing for a fresh start on the ground floor. The jobs are waiting. Why not let them?

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids —There Is No Moral Defense Of Evil Acts

I will never forget the first time I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., because by the time it was over, I wanted to crawl out of it in shame.

I was a young pastor, serving as the keynote speaker and Bible study leader at a continuing ed event for people who worked with youth, and part of our program included a tour of the Holocaust Museum.

Because I was one of the leaders, I was wearing a clerical collar during the tour, and with each step, the collar became tighter around my neck.

The reason?  Well, simply put, because Lutheran clergy, for the most part, either sided with Hitler, defending his actions or else remained silent. Of the 18,000 Protestant clergy in Germany at the time, only 16 percent said “No” by becoming part of the Confessing Church, that stood in opposition to Hitler and his nationalistic propaganda, lies and destruction.

And the museum did not ignore this fact. It pointed out, vividly, how the Nazis used the Bible to defend their actions and co-opted the church in the process.

Pastor Julius Leutherser embodied the beliefs of so many pastors when he preached, on Aug. 30, 1933, “Christ has come to us through Hitler,” citing the passage from Romans 13 that states, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”  (Rom. 13:1)

The complete misinterpretation of this passage allowed over 80 percent of the clergy in Germany to simply look the other way in the face of the Holocaust.  After all, the leaders and the laws were put in place by God, and who were they to disagree with Adolf Hitler’s favorite passage?

That is why my blood began to boil when I heard U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cite Romans 13 to defend the repugnant decision of the current administration to make a substantial policy shift from previous administrations and forcibly separate parents from their children when they came to the U.S.seeking asylum.

Later in the day, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed his sentiments by saying, “It’s biblical to enforce laws.”

Sessions, Sanders and all those voicing similar views stand on the shoulders of those German pastors who defended Hitler, as well as American preachers who used the same passage to justify first slavery and later Jim Crow laws, when they  turn to Romans 13 specifically and the Bible in general to support immoral acts.

As a pastor, nothing angers me more than people using the Bible to defend actions that would make Jesus weep.

Quoting Scripture to defend something as abhorrent as ripping a 4-month-old baby out of  his mother’s arms, as she pleads for asylum from abuse and violence, is antithetical to everything that Jesus stood for.

After all, Jesus was about an infant when he and his parents fled violence in Bethlehem to become refugees in Egypt. And somehow, I don’t think it would have been good or godly to rip Jesus out of Mary’s arms.

The story of the temptation of Jesus shows that even Satan could quote Scripture for his own benefit. Which is precisely what Sessions was doing.

When people use the Word of God to make evil actions seem justifiable, they are breaking the Second Commandment and using God‘s name in vain. They are using God for their own purpose, defending something that directly defies  the God of love made real in Jesus embrace of those who are rejected and forgotten.

No human with an ounce of compassion or human decency can defend what the U.S. government is doing with the enforcement of a decree from the executive branch to rip small children away from their parents.

It is despicable to muddy the waters even further by throwing the Word of God in to justify it.

The Bible says far more about the care of orphans, widows and strangers in a strange land.  For example, Leviticus 19:33-34 says, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

In addition, God is clear that there are unjust laws and warns against those who make them. In  Isaiah 10:1 the prophet writes, “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.”

I could go on all day, finding passage after passage that paint a picture of a God of love who cares about the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden. Who sides with those who have been abused.

Even if one argues that these people have broken the law, the Bible states clearly that we are to “Remember those who are in prison, as though we are in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourself were being tortured.”  Heb. 13:3.

Breaking the law does not justify acts of cruelty.

Jesus himself was subject was a convicted criminal who was whipped and crucified and whose murder was defended because of a belief that it was “Scriptural to enforce laws.”

This should not be a partisan issue. It isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue of what it means to be a decent and just nation.

Since Sessions and Sanders like to reference the Bible, I suggest they reread the book of Amos. It describes what happens to nations that behave like this. It isn’t pretty.

Or perhaps, since they are fond of emphasizing the aspects of the Bible that talk about the law and quoting Romans 13, they might want to read further down, where it says, “The Commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom.13:9-10)

I was filled with shame when I walked out of the Holocaust Museum because I was part of a church whose leadership remained silent in the face of unadulterated evil action.

I will not be quiet now and I will defend the Word of God that is being taken hostage by those who would use it for this vile purpose.

God is clear about the poor and oppressed and always stands on the side of the last, the lost and the least, demanding we treat everyone with love, which is the highest law.

History will not look kindly on those who remain silent. There is no moral defense of evil acts. And there is no ground to remain neutral.

Silence in the face of evil action means you have chosen your side.

RON SCHALOW: Of Course, He Did

Well, at least he didn’t kiss the brutal dictator on the lips and/or grab him by his small organ. That’s something, I suppose. He didn’t sniff Kim’s butt, as far as we know. The action is tough to translate.

Instead, our president just slobbered up a storm and beamed radiantly like a teen dork picking up his best girl. This Kim Jong-un character is quite the looker. Anyone can see that. He favors a young Raymond Burr in the dark.

Unconventionally handsome, one person might have said, before being tossed into a superornate pit crawling with 13 skinny Himalayan Hairy crocs. Very rare. Not the execution. The reptiles. When KJ slides on those shades, he can get anything. Because he is a ruthless tyrant. Not due to the cool sunglasses.

There might be seven people in all of North Korea, who given the chance, wouldn’t beat “Big Boy’s” twin brother to death with a Dennis Rodman sock full of D-cells. Batteries not included. And Rodman can be a little squirrely, especially if he’s wearing the sock you need. A length of lead pipe is probably a better choice.

But Trump didn’t even lunge at the murderous, torturing, people-starving, shaved panda a-hole. Dough boy could have merely tipped over on the garden gnome and ended him in a splat. But DJT was too busy saluting doormen.

Did he see the concentration camps as features or bugs? The starving people? Not that impressive. Hell, we have those, and kids in cages, too.

The Donald actually admired the mini murderer and marveled at North Koreans sitting up at attention when in KJ’s presence and wishes “his” people would do the same. Some do. They’re called white nationalists. Most of them look like POTUS son, Eric. It’s not pretty.

Did they strike the deal Trump promised? No. Was it at least as good as the Iranian nuclear deal, chipmunk chins tossed in the trash? Not by a long shot.

But the Iranian deal was a really bad deal. Trump said so. He should know. He’s screwed thousands of people. Donnie declared the Iran deal the worst deal since the Flintstones — it’s on right before Fox & Friends — bought that car with no engine. Dim bulb thinks all of the missing parts should have been an obvious deal breaker for Fred. Like he’s ever driven a car — or looked under a hood.

The worst deal ever in the world, ever. Ever! It was 159 pages, so I don’t how a semiliterate like the doofus would know what was in it, but it took more than two fat guys with a sharpie to hammer out the details over a bucket of chicken.

The Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action because that is what it is called, took a zillion smart people 12 years to formulate.

So, meanwhile:

The ocean is full of plastic, as are the inhabitants of the sea. The plastic breaks down into tiny fragments and absorb toxins in the water. Fish and birds are full of the stuff. Humans who eat the fish also ingest the toxins, which can also be referred to as poisons.

Things like that don’t bother the puffy POTUS. It’s more handsome — and younger — leaders, like Justin Trudeau, that really get on his nerves.

Besides, Donnie is made up of 37 percent plastic. It’s a little known fact. He used to get a little overaggressive when McD’s Quarter Pounders were sold in foam containers. It could happen to barely anyone. Anyway, you can tell by the 4-pound tensile monofilament fishing line that thrusts out and tangles on his head.

Most regions of the ocean are overfished. The trawlers with huge nets trap everything in their path, including bycatch, the incidental but inevitable capture or killing of non target species such as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, rays, seabirds, whales and porpoises. Also, fish too small for processing that deplete the species even further. And critters that make up the food supply of other species. It’s not good.

Just so the ignorant McAss can have a cheap McFish. His precious boys like to shoot rare land mammals, for fun, so dingus has taught them well.

As for global warming, which is caused by man, dipshits like 45 and Kevin Cramer don’t believe it, since they can’t digest complicated information, plus they were told not to believe it. These clowns are more concerned about bathroom usage, even though the pervert-in-chief used to just walk into teen female dressing rooms and peep up close.

Most of the carbon dioxide that is emitted into the air has been absorbed by the oceans and have acidified the water, which kills coral reefs that are the nurseries of the sea.

And most people know that the oceans are warming and rising. We’ve already seen the extra-powerful weather disasters fueled by the warmer air and water. Many citizens have died, but DJ tossed out some paper towels, so his ass is covered.

Those are just a few of the problems with the water that covers most the Earth. Harm to the oceans will eventually harm us all. It certainly will be expensive.

Our land-based issues aren’t any better, but those problems can wait because we’re in North Dakota, which is in the United States of Trump, where the future is a liberal concept.

More importantly, mister beluga whale carcass endorsed Congressman Lite in a Tweet. Bigot Cramer was giddy, but more compliments were showered on Kim Jong-un by the mad grifter, which most humans would call a red flag.

Kevin will need to kill a few thousand liberals, and starve some children, before he gets any real respect from the sleaze.

And since we can’t go a full hour without a Trump scandal, it turns out that he solicited money for charitable purposes, but used the loot for personal use.

Of course, he did.

RON SCHALOW: When Comes The Last Straw?

Personally, I am unable to speak to very many people, from the moral ground. I won’t put a percentage to it. It might be in the teens. I can usually spot my few lessers, if they still go out in public.

I’m like Trump in that respect. As he said,“I think within the first minute, I’ll know. Just, my touch, my feel — that’s what I do.”

However, I can say with positivity that I have been able to piece together a life that has been monstrously more virtuous than Donald “I Have Only Appeared in 3 Porn Films” Trump has breezed through.

Who knows how many adult films Carp-lips has financed? Who cares, at this point?

I know that the saintly Kevin Cramer has somehow forgiven — or pretended to absolve — the evil-smelling landfill of sins that McTrumpald keeps under a chin. Don can blow up his throat sacs, just like one of those crazy frogs, when startled by a Mexicanish looking hombre, to ward them off.

Cramer also exonerated Will “I Have Only Appeared in more than 3 Windows” Gardner. It’s a handy talent to have, especially for a congressman.

Here’s the part where 90 percent of the readers slap their forehead and think, “Is anyone surprised by any of this?” It’s actually the most typed comment, on all platforms, since the golden scrambled egghead Russianed his way in. “It better pick it up, or I’m off to Amazon.”

And the answer is no. It won’t pick up.

And no flippancy from here forward.

Anyway, I think it may be time to up our standards in this country, since Donald Milhous Trump oozed into office and lowered the bar for everything. How many straws are there? We should be to the last one by now before he takes a wrecking ball to the whole nation.

Of course, Trump will get more straws. But can we agree on the following?

1A. Cage-free children. No children in cages. None, nowhere, for no reason. No children in cages, or confined in warehouses. Is that too much to expect? Is the cruelty really necessary?

I thought it would have been a given. Evidently, I was in error. It’s wrong. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s barbaric and all words synonymous with barbaric. Not original thoughts.

Trump is 100 percent responsible. He tried to blame it on some fictional law the Democrats wrote, forcing him to cage kids. He lied because he’s a liar. Nobody is surprised.

Where’s Kevin with a flaming outrage. He was endorsed by at least one of the right-to-life groups, but I guess infants and toddlers don’t count in the scoring. It’s the same with most North Dakota politicians, who are either on board with caging children or afraid to ruffle the feathers of the peacocks.

Skin color has a lot to do with this.

1B. Separating a young child from his parent(s) is despicable. It’s torture for the youngsters and the parents. Torturous and cruel. Torture. We don’t torture.

2. Leave no one behind. It works for civilians, too. Almost 5,000 Americans died over the course of nine months due to Hurricane Maria and the ineptitude of the racist president.

That’s more than died on 9/11.

That’s more than died from Katrina, when an unengaged and incompetent president, and a clown named Brownie, screwed up royally.

Skin color has a lot to do with this. Puerto Ricans are not Norwegians. White people are preferred by Trump, which makes my skin crawl.

3. Don’t irritate the Canadians.

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — The Truth About Dreamers

Given all of the things I have seen and heard about DACA in the past few days, I thought it might be helpful to lay out a few facts in the midst of so much misinformation. We are entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts.

For the record … DACA recipients are ineligible for

  • Medicaid.
  • Food stamps.
  • SSI.
  • Welfare.
  • Section 8.
  • ACA.
  • Federal student aid of any type.

The most serious crimes any have been convicted of are minor misdemeanors like traffic violations. If they are convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor (e.g a DUI, a drug dealing or sexual or domestic violence) or three minor misdemeanors, they lose eligibility.

Ninety-five percent are in school or working. Many are in the military. They are not draining the economy. They are contributing to it.

Unemployment is at an all-time low. They aren’t “taking your job.”

They arrived as children. To be eligible, they entered the country under the age of 16. For most, this is the only country they’ve known.

Many did not know they were undocumented until they wanted to get a driver’s license or apply for college. They often entered with their parents on a legal visa, and when that visa status changed, their parents stayed and the children were not aware of what happened.

They all speak English and often it is their only language.

Jesus fled to Egypt as an infant. Had he fled to the U.S., he would have been eligible. Except he was convicted of a crime.

If you are in favor of a path for these innocent victims to remain in the only country they have called home, call your legislators and urge them to act. They need a pathway forward if we are to be a compassionate nation.

Most of the arguments that oppose them remaining and not providing a path for them are rooted in racism and not in the facts.

TERRY DULLUM: The Dullum File — Ernesto

The other day, I met a very nice young man who is immigrating to the U.S.

Let’s just call him Ernesto. Because that’s his name.

I’ve run into him at least a dozen times on the Greenway this summer. We’ve struck up a couple of nice conversations.

He’s getting a little bored. He’s been waiting for his green card so he can go to work in this country. He’s been waiting a year. Oh, and he speaks English. In fact, he teaches it.

Ernesto smiles a lot. It’s infectious.

One day he was wearing a plain, black T-shirt. On the back in large white letters was printed the word LATINO, in the same size and style you’d expect to see the word POLICE written. I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been laughing about it, off and on, ever since. I like people who can make me laugh.

This week in one of the ugliest exchanges I’ve ever seen come out of the White House briefing room, administration advisor Stephen Miller seemed to become seriously unglued when reporter Jim Acosta asked if the administration’s new immigration proposals were in keeping with the spirit of the Emma Lazarus sonnet. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free.”  That one.

Using reasoning I’ve been unable to unravel, Miller maintained the poem was “added later” to the base of the Statue of Liberty. I’ve watched the video clip of the briefing a half-dozen times now, and for the life of me I can’t understand what possible difference that would make.

For me, Miller is easily one of the top three most unpleasant people in the White House. If I never lay eyes on him again, that would be fine. On the other hand, I could see Ernesto and me becoming good friends.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Searching For Humor

What the hell. What am I supposed to do with this mess?

I try. I look out at the world, read the news and try to find the bright side. When someone pees in my cornflakes I say, “That’s all right, I don’t like cornflakes, anyway.” But when in Russia, do as the Russians do.

I don’t actually hate cornflakes. I’m more or less neutral. Like Sweden. Or Heidi Heitkamp. It’s hard to get passionate about corn flakes. In fact, that was the whole point of corn flakes.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the Seventh-Day Adventist who created cornflakes, did so as a cure for the “solitary vice.” On this topic, the Catholics are in agreement. If the Lutherans ever stop drinking beer, we’ll ask them, too.

“You’ll go blind,” people warned us when we were kids. “It makes hair grow on your palms,” Ricky Head announced in study hall one day and without a hint of irony, every one of us inspected our hands. When I look at Stevie Wonder, I think, “It’s his own damn fault.” Helen Keller was way out of control.

Kellogg was against sex altogether. I’m not good at math, but if cornflakes get trendy, I don’t think it bodes well for the species. I’m pretty sure cornflakes killed the dinosaurs.

We’re on the ropes, anyway. Apparently, some people think we aren’t overheating the climate fast enough. The future is coal. And black lung. Others are juggling nuclear weapons and foreign policy with the acumen of a $25 birthday party clown. Who hired John Wayne Gacy? Oh wait, that’s his real hair.

There are things you can try to spice up your love life. Yohimbe, Horny Goat Weed, ginseng or a Porsche. I’m not sure a jacked-up pickup with straight pipes impresses anyone with teeth, but it scares the deer off the road.

Cornflakes are a bad bet. I suppose you could try luring someone over to your apartment with the promise of Netflix and cornflakes. It’s probably never been tried.

After I read the history of cornflakes — clearly, I have too much time on my hairy hands — I began to resent corn growers. Geez, folks, plant soybeans. Don’t be a prude. Every time I drive by a cornfield, I think, “They must be Seventh-Day Adventists.”

The last thing we need is more cornflakes. Or Rice Krispies, unless it involves melted marshmallows. That’s a whole ‘nother deal.

Writing is like baking. Taking life’s bland or overlooked ingredients and making something tasty out of them. But I can’t find much humor in this week’s ingredients. Mostly irony.

We’ll use a missile strike to avenge the use of chemical weapons because we have rules for war. It’s not so much that we’re against killing, it’s about methodology. We’ll drag you to Nuremberg, if you kill in an uncivilized fashion.

You can do it in a uniform, but you can’t do it in a clown suit. Beheading is bad, a drone strike is civilized. Euthanasia is wrong. Lethal injection is humane.

Some people are OK with Muslims drowning, as long as they don’t wash up on our shores because of our strict new immigration policies. Some believe if we’re going to pollute the oceans, it should be with oil and plastic. At least corpses are biodegradable.

Some want to pollute more because it will be good for the economy. Especially for doctors specializing in respiratory diseases. Who needs lungs?

Others say every fertilized egg is a child of God but are against universal health care. It’s about principles, not life expectancy.

Jesus demanded a co-pay and a deductible from every leper. The whole Blue Cross deal started with him. It’s in the Book of Job, as in, “Thou shalt gettest thee a Job, thy welfare queens with thy Obama phones — and buyeth thine own insurance, while thou art at it. Cursed be the losers.” Amen.

Many have curious notions about freedom, too. They want to inspect your bedroom, your bathroom and your ISP. Otherwise, everyone would be walking around with hairy palms. There are rules for war and sex.

Some weeks, you search for humor and find only irony.

© Tony Bender, 2017

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — So You Want Our Country To Be Secure?

The president of these United States, in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, wined and dined Japanese Prime Minister Abe at his own “Winter White House” in Florida. It’s bad enough he personally profits from his wholly owned country club with these state visits, but now he has also compromised the security of the country.

While having dinner, the 45th president of the United States was notified of a North Korean ICBM launch. He viewed the video and spoke on his cellphone about the incident in an unsecured environment in front of representatives of a foreign country … notwithstanding that the country is an ally.

Other dinner guests in the terrace restaurant also personally observed what took place as smartphone flashlights provided illumination to view documents. Hmm … I wonder how secure the cameras were.

Like previous presidents under similar circumstances, 45 should have left the room, taken his experienced advisers with him and listened and spoken in a secure environment.

I sound like a broken record, I know, but again, our president has to recognize he’s not running his companies (Ivanka is ). He is acting as the leader of the free world and president of these United States. He wants to make this country secure, perhaps he might want to consider what security is and get people in positions of authority in his administration to guide him.

This begs another and more serious question. Retired General Michael Flynn, whom he named as his national security adviser (a post that needs no congressional confirmation), has been proven to have been in conversations with the Russians both before and after the election. Beyond treason, a basic problem is that the man lied to the American people as well as Vice President Pence about discussing the sanctions President Obama had imposed on Russia.

One need not be a rocket scientist to understand that when he relies upon a liar for advice on national security, that man must be fired and then carefully investigated to see if any criminal laws have been violated. This has nothing to do with partisan politics, it has to do with honesty and decency. (Update: Flynn resigned late Monday.)

In his conversations on his immigrant ban with the prime minister of Canada, 45 stated that its focus is on hardened criminals. No one would question that desire to rid our country of criminals — but his statement is completely false. ICE, the agency in charge of deportation — without notifying any politicians in Congress or the various states — raided communities and regardless of criminal status, removed undocumented people. A mother who’d been in this country 15 years, who had no criminal record other than falsifying something so she could work (and who reported to ICE every month as they requested), was thrown out of this country.

Is there a price to be paid for falsehoods? The immigrant example shows clearly that Trump was not truthful when he said that no families would be separated. If the woman were a hardened criminal, she should have gone — but she was not.

Think about the Somalian family trekking through the woods in winter, in cold and snow, escaping from America! To go to Canada! Canada is as serious about its security as this country is, yet it accepted these folks.

We have a two-year vetting process in place for immigrants, and yet the administration talks about needing “extreme vetting.” What the hell does that mean? If you can’t find problems in two years, then you won’t find them at all. This is his Trojan horse to block the entry of people escaping war, murder and violence in their own countries.

He keeps saying, “You better believe it,” and “Everyone agrees with me.” To 45, “everyone” must be limited to his inner circle. It certainly can’t be a reference to the American people.

The president does not agree with district and circuit court decisions. But instead of disagreeing with the decisions, he attacks the whole judicial system. He obviously knows nothing about the separation of powers and separate but equal branches of government.

The 45th president has no problem telling the legislative branch (an equal branch) what to do and even less doing the same with the judicial branch. The president obviously confuses the presidency with a kingdom or a dictatorship.

If you think I exaggerate, look at whom he has named as his senior policy adviser! Stephen Miller was an adviser to Sen. Jeff Sessions — now attorney general — and press secretary to Minnesota’s answer to Sarah Palin, former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Senior policy adviser Miller, addressing “Face the Nation” and John Dickerson on Sunday, stated the unthinkable: “The end result of this is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned.”

By now, you will have noted that I have addressed Trump in most cases as “the president” or “45,” with no name-calling for humor or effect. The insidious attack by this goose-stepping Miller, however, is a different story. You should have at least the IQ of a rock if you are a policy adviser, plus the knowledge of a 3-year-old as it relates to the courts.

The fact my father was one of those bad old federal judges just fuels my anger at this uninformed Nazi wannabe. The power of anyone, especially this president, can and will be questioned in the courts. When in doubt, the final answer lies in the Supreme Court. And Miller’s put-down of the media will get him nowhere fast, which is exactly where he belongs.

I, for one, applaud the media for keeping us all informed, whether or not we agree with the particular story or issue. The media — print, TV and digital — all need to keep the pressure on to expose lies as they are told and keep the emphasis on truth, no matter whom it hurts.

The day that the judiciary must fear the executive branch is the day when we should all be terrified. But there is one thing that I will never fear: The judiciary will always be there to adjudicate for all of us.

North Dakota still has its issues. Once again, our full-time supermajority represents itself, not the people … and most of us know that.

In one of the Forum’s rePorts, the blogger says that the officials in District 44 — my district in Fargo — ought to stop talking and start organizing. Since they are all Democrats in a state with a supermajority, he should face reality, as they do. They want to fight for issues they believe in. We should hope that someday our other elected officials will see the light and join them, not oppose them.

The same writer also thinks it is funny that District 44 was the only place in Fargo where his beloved Republicans lost. That may be true now … but if I was a betting man, I’d wager that it will be very uncomfortable to be a Republican incumbent in two years, particularly in Fargo. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Lessons Of The Past Teach Us To Help Syrian Refugees Now

I was pondering what to write for the Thanksgiving when I saw the picture of the little Syrian boy who had drowned when his refugee boat sank. A rubber boat full of refugees trying to escape the horrors of war … and this little fella lost his life.

I then saw a picture of a few bombed-out, literally uninhabitable cities in Syria. It really triggered thoughts of the past — thoughts of the reaction when Pearl Harbor was bombed, when we declared war on Japan and when we put Japanese American citizens in concentration camps because we thought they might cause harm to the homeland.

This was taking place at the same time as many Japanese-Americans were enlisting in the armed services in valiant defense of their country, the United States of America. Just think about it for a moment: Entire families uprooted and treated like criminals … and there were NEVER any threats by them, and NEVER did they pose a threat to their chosen land, and NEVER did they take any anti-American actions by way of sabotage. Yet we prejudged them and incarcerated them.

Then in today’s context, think how this country responded to the plea for help from the German and European Jews who would be murdered by the Nazi regime. Entire families were running for their lives — leaving everything they owned behind as they boarded ships, trains and every mode of transportation just to escape murder. To our eternal shame, we turned away the ships loaded with Jewish families because of wartime hysteria. Once again, we had a chance to assist those who needed help, and we dropped the ball.

Politicians in those days claimed they knew nothing of what was happening to the Jews, ignoring the boatloads of refugees and their cries for help. I can’t imagine how our troops felt when they entered the holocaust area and saw the people who were still alive in Auschwitz and the other death camps. I certainly could imagine our military going on a rampage to make the Nazis pay dearly for what they had done. Yet, at home, we did little to help. Thankfully, there were individuals who did help some escape the killing, but it’s obvious that was not enough.

Back to today’s situation. With Syrian refugees running for their lives, we have politicians who say, “Yes, we should help — but don’t let them into this country. Set up camps where they can live and provide them with some food.”

In the name of all that’s holy, those politicians are either uninformed, heartless or just playing politics. Maybe they pay no attention to the nightly TV news or the daily news, both print and television. If they have the slightest inkling of what the Syrian homeland looks like now, they’ve sure kept their knowledge a secret. The horrible situation on the ground is clear right now and has been for some time.

ISIS does something wrong, and the allied air power, now including Russia, bombs the cities they occupy until all that remains are piles of rubble — rubble that used to be homes, stores, schools, hotels!

We don’t seem to talk much about “collateral damage” when we are involved in these undeclared wars. I, for one, do not consider human beings nothing but “collateral damage.” Try as hard as they might, the military cannot escape the results of their attacks.

I’ll tell you so what!

Imagine that you are in your own home in Moorhead-Fargo. Imagine it’s a holiday — like Thanksgiving. Everyone is around the table enjoying the time and place. Wham! The bombs start falling, and your neighborhood, churches, schools, hospitals and food supplies are blown to smithereens. Imagine further that this is happening all over the country. On top of that, a bunch of ISIS-like murderers are killing men, women and children indiscriminately. And there is no one to protect you.

Now, just for the fun of it, assume that Canada is not under attack. You pack up your family and head for the border. Lo and behold, you are not allowed entry because you are Americans!

Think about that for a moment.

The new thought now is that maybe we need “boots on the ground.” Damn it, I wish someone would get the national media to stop using that cute little catch-phrase. The so-called “boots on the ground” are on the feet of brave men and women in our military. They are human beings. They may be heroes, but to call them “boots on the ground” minimizes their humanity and their duty. Let’s call those who serve in our military what they are — individuals who are given a job to do and are doing it as best they can with the restrictions placed upon them.

We’ve had Syrians in this country forever — good, productive people, like most immigrants. The governor of Minnesota has it right. The governor in North Dakota had it right at first but then fell on his head and changed his mind. ISIS, playing the role of the bogey man, says it will infiltrate this country by joining the refugees. Immediately some of our top leaders bought into that boast.

We don’t have problems with them now, and the last thing ISIS would do is put their empty-headed killers among the immigrants, who would probably rip them limb from limb.

We have to learn from the past. We have to give the refugees a place to live. ISIS is killing them at home; we’re bombing the bejezuz out of their homeland; and we have a duty to assist them.

Some nitwits suggest letting only the Christian Syrians in. I don’t know what those dolts are drinking, but whatever it is, responsible people ought to call them on that stance. Or maybe they might read our Constitution or the quotes on our Statue of Liberty, donated to us by the French for our assistance to them two centuries ago.

The Syrian refugees need help. We should not repeat the mistakes of the past. We must give it to them.

I am so thankful to be living in this country. I’m thankful for the caring of the people in the Moorhead-Fargo area. My own family and siblings are in a good and safe place, and I wish all could be as secure as we are.

Every society has its extremists, as do we, but nevertheless we have given and can continue to give to those in need. My Thanksgiving wish is that we help those in the most desperate need, the boatloads of human beings who flock to the American dream.

The governors who now maintain they will not accept immigrants will, sooner or later, have their heads removed from their behinds by the federal government, which pre-empts the states in the matter.

God bless America and everything it stands for! Now let’s show ISIS we won’t be bullied and scared off by their threats … and help the very people who need us most.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.