TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Hurricane Donald

A big wind made landfall last Wednesday in North Dakota, and when I woke up the next morning, North Dakota was great again.

A KX News morning show anchor giddily recounted her excitement about President Trump’s visit and how she and her family had gone out to “show our love for the president.” I was a little surprised her objective report didn’t include the phrase “glorious leader.”

Perhaps I woke up in North Korea. I missed it, did anyone kiss his ring?

Not everyone was happy about the president’s invitation-only visit to a refinery in Mandan. I know I’m part of the Fake News and Liberal Agenda that Rush Limbaugh blames for overhyping Hurricane Irma just to make a point about climate change, but it is a statistical fact 41 percent of North Dakotans don’t support the president.

Eleven percent of them have actually been groped by him. The other 30 percent have been goosed by Limbaugh.

This may explain why folks are increasingly desperate for medical marijuana to get here. “Please help us forget.” Anyway, don’t tell me the president’s not on something. He must be smoking covfefe during those 3 a.m. tweet sessions from the bathroom.

We should legalize covfefe, too, once we figure out what it is. The downside of building The Wall is we’ll no longer have easy access to covfefe pouring across our borders from Mexico. But we’ll have jobs picking tomatoes, if we’re not too busy mining coal, the energy of the future.

Once we get rid of people who are different from us, things will be grand. I think a raid at Norsk Hostfest would be a good start. And, yes, Jethro, we’ll call you for that Google programming gig once we send Ravi back to New Delhi.

And did you hear? A Dickinson company is in the running to build a prototype for The Wall. I hope they’re better at it than the folks in my neck of the woods. Every time I drive to Lehr, there are cows on the road. We need better fences. Or more-obedient cattle.

Naturally, there were protesters and counter-protesters in Mandan. You could tell them apart based on the spelling errors. I don’t think racists should be against “Muslins.” What would they do without sheets?

Noted white supremacist Craig Cobb was there to show his support for the president. David Duke couldn’t make it because he was rallying support to defend statues of Colonel Sanders, Ashley Wilkes, The Dukes of Hazzard and Foghorn Leghorn.

Some of the president’s supporters yelled at Trump protesters to get a job. Silly. Everyone knows liberal protesters work for George Soros. I personally feel he should get more credit as a job creator.

Meanwhile, the Trump supporters were apparently multitasking, working, while supporting the president. That’s the sort of gumption that made America great before Obama made it un-great. To be fair, he did make Kenya great again.

Pretty much everyone was mad about Sen. Heidi Heitkamp riding on Air Force One with President Trump. Liberals already think she’s too far right. Republicans don’t think she has enough deferments to even qualify for high office. Kevin Cramer was especially displeased. Not only did Heidi get the window seat, she made him go to the galley three times for salted almonds. You know how Leftists are when it comes to free stuff. They’re always pulling themselves up by other people’s bootstraps. Then, to top it off, the president actually said nice things about Heidi when he spoke because he wants her to vote for tax breaks for the rich, to help out the poor.

North Dakota is a shining example of giving tax breaks to rich guys. That has taken the pressure from North Dakota property owners, who are more than happy to absorb the cost of tax breaks for Big Oil. Because having too much disposable income can get downright confusing.

I mean where do you invest — Wall Street or Russia? The easy answer is always invest in tax breaks for billionaires.

This time, it’s sure to trickle down. I’ll bet oil typhoon Harold Hamm, who thanks to North Dakota Republicans, could finally afford to fly in from Oklahoma to greet the president, threw dollar bills out the window of his Lear Jet.

Technically, that could result in a $500 fine under stiff new littering penalties passed by Republicans to protect the environment. However, if you spill a few thousand barrels of oil in North Dakota, all you have to do is write, “I was a bad boy,” a 100 times on the blackboard. You have to ease into these things.

I’m not saying we’re easy, but all the light bulbs in Bismarck are being swapped out with red ones. It’ll be purdy at Christmas.

© Tony Bender, 2017

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Toward a UNITED States Of All Americans

Anyone who believes this country is — and always has been — great had their confidence reinforced by the climate-changing events that have destroyed so many lives and so much property in the past two weeks.

It is not the death and destruction that makes us great, of course. It is the way this country responded to provide help and aid wherever needed to the best of our ability.

Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert’s is a name you should remember. While I assumed the Environmental Protection Agency would have been in charge of the disaster relief, it is Bossert and his department’s Federal Emergency Management Agency who gives credibility and intelligence to it.

Bossert is intelligent, articulate and extremely knowledgeable (unique in the administration of 45). He focuses like a laser on what has happened and what this country is doing about it.

He does not puff himself up, does not exaggerate and does not attack people or institutions, but just gives you straightforward facts. When he doesn’t know, he says so … and promises to obtain the answer and get back with it.

He does not attack the press and does not demean or insult those who ask the questions. It is just beyond my wildest expectations that there is a spokesperson in today’s White House whom I admire.

It was Bossert who first announced the advance placement of responders. It was he who talked about the planning that went into stockpiling equipment for use in the disaster and who coordinated efforts with the military to provide disaster relief. He did so in a direct, easy-to-understand fashion without the grandstanding gibberish that other White House spokesmen have utilized.

This man is as good as it gets on the national stage.

I listened in awe as he discussed moving an aircraft carrier, landing craft and personnel into the area to assist in the Florida disaster as well as the other island calamities. He explained that both the carrier and landing crafts carried helicopters to assist in rescue and supply operations. The media showed the around-the-clock efforts of the military and Coast Guard while risking their own lives.

It was Bossert who carefully explained that convoys of gas trucks are headed to Florida and the outlying islands, along with security provided to the drivers to assure their safe destination and arrival.

He also described severe problems with infrastructure. Bridges and roadways have been damaged or destroyed. Power lines and backup sources of electricity — gone. Generators are needed to provide minimum power. No drinkable water supply! Gas supplies are nearly gone; even where they exist, there’s little power to run the pumps. Without power, there’s no air conditioning, no television, few means of communication and hell to pay if, right now, you have a medical or other kind of personal emergency.

I could go on for pages describing the horror of it all … and the great feeling I get when I see Americans, all of them, rallying to help their countrymen in need. Politics be damned! This is the America I know, responding the way I knew it could. In helping others, there’s no R or D or I. It’s all the American way!

Originally I thought the EPA would be the lead agency. Not so — and the reasons are the opposite of the goodness the disaster response demonstrates.

Virtually all scientists acknowledge the science behind the theory of climate change. Yet there are those who refuse to listen to them. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a mallet to get my attention on this issue: Climate change is clearly and definitely real. Yet the deniers in government, from 45 on up, are doing their best to kill education and discussion on the subject.

The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. Yet look what has happened. Mustafa Ali, head of the agency’s environmental justice program, resigned, citing gigantic budget cuts to the agency and its staff. Elizabeth Southerland, director of science and technology in the Office of Water, resigned after 40 years, citing the “temporary triumph of myth over truth.” She made clear that, contrary to new Director Scott Pruitt, there is no war on coal. There is no economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change is caused by the activity of man.

The EPA’s own regulations require websites on climate change; yet Pruitt has ordered those sites taken down. Never mind that before he obtained his current position, Pruitt was known for his lawsuits against EPA. Guess who profits by his actions? Both he and 45. Rick Perry, energy secretary — though a nice, funny man -— couldn’t find his way to the bathroom without an aid. Perry is in lockstep with Pruitt on this.

My best guess is that 45 and his minions, after considering the nature of the current multiple disasters, will rethink their ill-informed rejection of climate change and learn that it is real — that man contributes to it, and only man can slow it down.

The Chinese, of all people, in a land where pollution abounds, have signed the Paris Accords. They pledge to continue their all-out efforts on pollution control. We’ve become one of only three nations on Earth to refuse to sign.

For those who don’t believe in climate change and that man can do something about it, answer this question: If the air is polluted from automobiles and factories — and when we clean up the autos and factories, the air becomes clean again — is that, or is that not, a manmade disaster and a man-engineered correction?

These hurricane disasters are ongoing. It will take much time to rebuild lives and property. As to property, I hope new building codes will restrict where and how lost structures are rebuilt. I also hope we finally hear an admission that climate change is real. Funding should be restored to the EPA, as well as other environmental agencies and programs that have been decimated because 45 can’t stand anything that Obama touched. That’s sad. We are all Americans. What is good for most should be good for all.

God bless this country and all of its inhabitants. Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — The FPD ‘Ambush Railroad’ Is Back In Business

It seems like it’s been a lifetime since Chief Keith Ternes of the Fargo Police Department was ambushed by FPD brass, resulting in his retirement. My own view was that he was treated unfairly and railroaded by those who could have assisted him in improving the operation of the department. But such is not what happened, and history cannot be changed.

Last month, Fargo Police Chief David Todd announced the firing of officer David Boelke, a 15-year veteran of FPD. Todd “carefully reviewed the facts,” according to news accounts, and concluded that the claims of Boelke’s not filing reports; lacking empathy; being disrespectful toward the department; and GPS data that showed he did not go to locations he said he did on the dates indicated, all were confirmed.

I have known David Boelke professionally and seen and observed him as an officer for 10 of his 15 years of service. Because of illness, I resigned as Fargo municipal judge five years ago, so I have had no personal experience with him during that time.

I do know that if I had a dollar for each officer who missed a court date on a traffic matter during my years as a judge, I’d have a great savings account today.

I have not spoken personally to Boelke or his lawyer, Mark Fraase, about his firing from the police department and his appeal, but my 45 years on the bench —  if nothing else —  taught me how to gauge and judge people.

As to honesty, I cite Boelke’s self-reporting of a failed court appearance. That was not the act of someone who is not truthful … but it put the Ambush Train right back on the tracks.

A 15-year veteran of the police force, past president of the Fraternal Order of Police and four-time winner of lifesaving awards, he garnered and still has the support of the North Dakota Fraternal Order of Police. He is also married with children.

The GPS systems that the FPD Ambush Train relied upon in making its case have been shown to be inaccurate and not trustworthy. While Officer Boelke acknowledged he failed to file some proper reports (an act of truthfulness), the general charges brought against him by the Brass Hat Railroad would not hold up in a court of law. He passed a stringent lie detector test; while not admissible as evidence in court, that sure as hell says something to John Q. Public, whom the Brass-Hat Railroad is supposed to serve.

Boelke and his lawyer have appealed his firing to the Fargo Civil Service Commission. I can only hope and pray that they do not rubber-stamp this unholy action by the police department. Remember, this whole mess was triggered by an act of self-reporting a missed court appearance. The message the Ambush Railroad brass are sending is, “Don’t be honest. It can get you fired.” That’s just not right.

One of the Ambush Railroad folks, presented with evidence that the GPS system in FPD cars was not accurate, had no response! In Mark Friese, Boelke has one of the finest attorneys anywhere. Friese is a lawyer, husband and father, a military man and a former police officer himself. He knows what he’s talking about. In this case, he is outraged. But sometimes when city politics are involved, it’s like tilting at windmills or urinating into the wind.

I’ve observed this attorney since he started his practice in Fargo. When Judge Ralph Erickson is confirmed as a judge of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, it is my fervent hope that Friese will be appointed to the federal district court bench to replace Judge Erickson.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I know that most FPD employees are outstanding people who do their jobs, and do them very well. But when one person who admits to disliking Boelke is put in charge of investigating him, and also happens to be the one who recommends his firing, you have to wonder about the integrity of the investigation and those who order and do it.

I’m old-fashioned, I guess, but my years of dealing with people of all types tells me this man is not a liar. He does tell the truth. Even if the Civil Service rubber-stamps the Ambush Railroad, they must in good conscience strike the allegations as to the officer’s truthfulness and honor. To fail to do that at a minimum prevents him from obtaining law jobs in the future.

I find it odd that only a few months earlier, when Boelke was applying for another position (that might now be in jeopardy as well), the Fargo Police Department gave him a glowing report —  no problems. Then it pulls this dead fish out of their hat and drop it on an honorable man. Shame on those who did this to him!

* * *

Speaking of lying and mistrust, I have to mention our Idiot in Chief, POTUS 45.

After telling the DACA subjects they would not have to worry, he —  like every promise he’s made before —  turns it into one damned lie. He says one thing to get elected. Once in office, he does the reverse. His core followers are so damned stupid they just don’t care.

Integrity is important in the office and the one who occupies it. We cannot have one standard for white people and another standard for everyone else. Yet our elected leader lies. He cannot tell the truth.

Now 45’s minions have announced an end to DACA … his most evil act up to now. While he performed his photo op in Texas, where so many people have been harmed, he bragged about the size of his crowds as though he doesn’t fathom the pain and hardship the people are enduring. Meanwhile, his wife struts around in spike heels.

All of the video coming out of Texas rescues is absent any racial problems. People of all ages, colors and creeds are helping each other. Aid is pouring in from people from all over the. And yes, many of those needing help —  and many who are helping —  are the very same childhood arrivals whose presence is guaranteed by DACA.

Our racist-in-chief cannot seem to insult enough people; now he’s adding whole countries to his list. He idly threatens North Korea and at the same time chides our ally, South Korea. He has angered Great Britain, France and Mexico as well. He likes turmoil and can’t understand the personal harm he does to our country, its inhabitants (both legal and otherwise) and to nations abroad.

But the Robert Mueller investigative train has been overhauled and is rolling down the tracks with new employees and instruments of political war. Soon 45 may be writing a letter to his successor, not like the measured, professional one he received from President Obama as his term began.

The letter from 45 will read: “These federal prisons aren’t all they are cracked up to be.” Amen.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Defying The Rule Of Law

Our current Liar in Chief, aka 45, has clearly demonstrated by word and deed what he thinks of the law. The law, in his opinion, does not apply to him or his friends. The time is coming when the Crown Prince of Clowns will pay the price for his racism, bigotry and his lawful but unwise use of the power of the pardon.

The third co-equal branch of government, the judiciary, has certainly been doing its job. The second co-equal branch, the legislature, seems to have forgotten that it is co-equal. Its members have allowed King 45 to stomp all over them.

Its members are being lumped into the “bad guy” category — the Democrats, of course, but also McConnell and Ryan, the Republican leaders of the Senate and the House, respectively — have all because they dare to question 45.

This man who claims he is the world’s best dealmaker hasn’t managed to make a deal since his election. The business community has learned the hard way that he cannot be trusted; corporate leaders have resigned in droves from his many commissions.

Once again, he who campaigned against the war in Afghanistan has switched his vote in favor of the war. However, at least he has listened to his generals, whom he fawns over.

King 45, who as a candidate once accepted another man’s Purple Heart with thanks, saying he’d always wanted one, flies in the face of his own multiple deferments from military service. But like other politicians before him, he has no qualms about sending other people’s sons and daughters to war.

Mr. Smart Businessman, who built his empire on using other people’s money and then either filing bankruptcy or just refusing to pay his creditors, hasn’t figured out the obvious. If the U.S. reined in the mad desire to win wars in countries where they cannot be won … if we quietly withdrew from some of these conflicts … they would continue (without any help from us) for decades to come, if not forever.

The United States, like Russia and Britain before it, will never be able to put a stop to violence that comes from tribal, political and religious factions that want nothing more than to kill each other.

Pull out of the Mideast wars, and, in a short period of time, watch our deficit shrink or even disappear. But God forbid if anyone talks about withdrawing!

We do not squander our future and our children fighting pointless foreign wars!

Note the only people who Trump has not dumped are his generals. He adores them. (They are, in fact, awesome.) It’s my belief he loves them is because they have done what he can never do: Command and lead men and women and earn their respect.

Consider the conflicting tones of all his recent speeches. He is for unity and peace; he is for racism and bigotry. He can’t stand anything about Clinton or Obama; he takes credit for everything they accomplished and gives credit to no one. And he says he wants the country to be unified!

Once again, 45’s true colors shine through. Does the name Joe Arpaio ring a bell? He’s the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He not only lost his re-election bid; he was convicted of criminal contempt in federal court for violating a federal court order to halt conducting the discriminatory and violent policing uncovered through numerous civil rights investigations.

And this same man was pardoned by 45 last week. The president pardoned the most racist, divisive lawman in this country. He is proud of him, calling Arpaio “a true patriot.”

Here are a few highlights of the life of this so-called “patriot,” compiled by The Atlantic magazine:

“The pardon that Donald Trump granted Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, sends this message to American law enforcement: If you violate the civil rights of Latinos while enforcing immigration law, the president of the United States approves — and even if you’re one of the vanishingly few sheriffs or police chiefs that the Department of Justice has ever charged with a crime, he’ll intervene to spare you.

“The pardon is thus a slap in the face to Latinos, and ought to be an affront to all fair-minded Americans who value the constitution, the rule of law, and the legitimacy of the system.

“For American citizens who look Mexican, or Guatemalan, or El Salvadoran, or Colombian, the pardon creates new vulnerability to racial profiling and other violations of the 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the law. Should outrage over the matter fade, Republicans will keep pandering to anti-immigrant voters by abetting rights violations against Latinos, knowing they won’t pay an electoral price.”

Again from The Atlantic:

“Trump’s decision is unforgivable. The president is a corrupt person with a perverted sense of justice, and he pardoned a corrupt sheriff who backed his political rise, beginning with a racist campaign to insinuate that Obama was a foreigner. They deserve one another, but Americans deserve better than either of them.

“If the Latinos who are threatened by this action and the decent people of all races and ethnic groups who are offended by it hold it against Republicans who support the Arpaio pardon or stay silent, the GOP will deserve every last election and vote that they lose, having flagrantly failed to stand up for the creed of liberty and justice for all.”

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton convicted former Sheriff Arpaio of criminal contempt of court, finding he willfully ignored another federal judge’s 2011 order halting a traffic stop program that targeted illegal immigrants.

This was intentional defiance of a federal court order by a man sworn to uphold the law. Now the scofflaw sheriff is demanding that his original conviction be erased from his record. His lawyers argue that, since Trump’s pardon came before Arpaio’s sentencing, Arpaio lost a chance to get a retrial or to appeal his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has had a petition pending to hear his case.

What 45 did for Arpaio was a slap in the face to the judiciary. In my world, I think this slap will come back to haunt 45 in the long run.

Space does not permit me to list all of Old Joe’s misdeeds here. Google them yourself … and be sure to set aside a good deal of time to list them. Why it took so long for Arizona to wise up to this miscreant is beyond me.

One thing is for sure: With men like the former sheriff and the current president in power, if you are a person of color, you have something to worry about. If you are white, you do not. It all reminds me of Russia — nyet, that’s 45’s line. Amen.

RON SCHALOW: The White Nationalist Next Door

Several days after my birth, we were driving home, up the big Third Street hill in Minot, and I was listening to Eisenhower speechify on the radio. It was a bit staticy, but I remember it like it was just several minutes ago. Frankly, he was boring.

President Ike was still in his first term and pledged to remain ever steamed at the Nazis, until flowers bloomed on the moon, at minimum. He was in the business of killing them not many years before becoming president, so Eisenhower didn’t have mixed feelings about Nazis. They were always bad. NOBODY compared. Over 400,000 Americans died in that war.

“During World War II, we we rushed to develop nuclear weapons because we were trying to defeat the Nazis, who, fun fact, pretty much all Americans thought were bad at the time.” — John Oliver

We liked Ike. He was stable, sane and looked better than fat@$$ Don in a golf outfit.  Eisenhower never tweeted and didn’t lie every 15 minutes. At the time, we had no idea that Dwight WASN’T getting up in the middle of the night to cuss out various people and talk smack on the White House party line. He behaved normally, to my recollection, and the clincher for me, Ike and I, looked liked twins when I was 3 days old. Bald as a Brunswick bowling ball and a pate as smooth as a newborn goat. My eyesight wasn’t fully operative, yet.

In 1957, the former general sent the National Guard into Arkansas, backed up by Fargo’s Judge Ronald Davies, to enable the Little Rock Nine, black youths, to safely attend school with the white kids. Dwight stepped up and did the right thing. Many whites weren’t happy. Too many still aren’t.

Dwight had dignity, and he was a tough SOB. Had Eisenhower witnessed the spectacle of Donald Trumps’s bat$#!* insane hee-haw tribalist airing of grievances for 77 minutes (all that was missing was the Festivus pole and the feats of strength) in Arizona, he would have latched onto Donnie John’s testicles with a pair of needle nose pliers and squeezed until 45 coughed up the keys to the country.

And if he knew that Trump was pandering to the tiki tots and their ideological inbred cousins, providing aid and comfort to the enemy, Ike would have done cool things, not approved by the Geneva Conventions, to Donnie with his two iron.

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now.” — D. Trump

Nobody who stands up to heavily armed white supremacists is on any other side except good, but the alt-right knew how to interpret the president’s words. Fifty percent is a win for these @$$holes.

Many tried to convince us that hundreds were just there to to gaze into the bronze nostrils of Gen. Lee’s horse, Traveller, just one more time. Such malarkey.

And there are those like Fargo’s Scott Hennen, the frothing radio voice of the tattered fringe right over several blocks in downtown Fargo, who thought the sight of a marching herd of Nazis carrying kitschy Polynesian style torches and chanting racist favorites in an American city was a partisan issue. Maybe to his listeners, and Hennen’s twisted mind, but I would still like to think that most Republicans are anti-white supremacy. And certainly they are against a terrorist attacks, even if the perpetrator isn’t Muslim. Aren’t they?

Unfortunately, in North Dakota, Republican politicians are inclined to attach their campaigns to the mad king. Evidently, the Trumpster fire is still a popular figure with the N.D. GOP and its voters. And it boils to white identity politics, which isn’t new but was relegated to damp rock undersides with the other slimy critters.

Generally, being a racist wasn’t something you wanted to advertise. At least not in this state.

Then along comes the Trump idiot, hitting all of the right notes, for a range of bigots on the spectrum.

Mexicans are rapists, we’re going to build the best wall to keep them out. We’re going to make it so that an immigrant has to have a Nobel prize and be a gold medal Olympic pole vaulter in order to meet the new requirements for entry. The Muslim ban, that made no sense. Birtherism, that was a racial lie. Refugees can wait a few more years because the numbers to be allowed in have been greatly reduced. Transgender people can no longer serve in the military. A stone cold racist and cruel dick is given a presidential pardon. The dip praises a CNN pundit who was fired for tweeting a Nazi slogan. Donnie uses Pocahontas as a slur.  He’s currently screwing with the Dreamers. And then the equivocation on Nazis.

“Jews will not replace us, blood and soil, heil Trump, one people, one nation, end immigration, White Lives Matter, f**k you, fa**ots, and “Go the f**k back to Africa.” Some right-wing demonstrators called specific people “ni**ers” or “fa**ots.” Yes, good people.

“This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal ni**ers,” one @$$hole told Vice News’ Elspeth Reeve.

“As Jews prayed at a local synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, men dressed in fatigues carrying semiautomatic rifles stood across the street, according to the temple’s president. Nazi websites posted a call to burn their building. As a precautionary measure, congregants had removed their Torah scrolls and exited through the back of the building when they were done praying.” — Reform Judaism

“For my part, if I should ever get the chance to confront Richard Spencer (white supremacist honcho), I think I’d conclude my cross-examination with the proposition that by his views and actions he had implicitly renounced his American citizenship and should therefore be deported.” — Steven Hayward, libertarian and conservative author

So, our North Dakota Republicans aren’t running away from this racist in the Oval Office and some who have called for ethnic cleansing. Their constituents evidently find Trump just swell. But, don’t believe me. Forum Communications employs a shill boy blogger, who carries vast amount of oil for his legislative pals, and was responsible for this headline:

“Port: ND politicos are treating Trump like an election year asset”

“Maybe Trump isn’t the political liability some would like us to think. Some will say otherwise, but how the politicians place their bets speaks louder than words,” Port wrote.

Sounds about right. We’ve been hearing the high-pitched squeals, only audible to beagles, complaining about migrant workers, refugees, Native Americans and the LGBT community for years, and someone has been reassuring those with concerns about keeping these groups in check. Some descendants of Europeans feel that white Christian identity is being threatened by ethnic diversity and multiculturalism.

Here’s what Port had to say before the election and prior to his forced Trump brand blood transfusion:

  • “While the left overplays the race card, Trump seems content to pander to actual paranoid racists.”
  • “Trump knows exactly how dumb his supporters are and has manipulated their ignorance to great effect.”
  • “The 2016 election for president now looks to be a competition between corrupt, bought off Clintonism and the former host of “Celebrity Apprentice” whose “America first” campaign has taken on the overtones of a modern sort of fascism.”

Perhaps the next time a legislative candidate knocks on your door, be sure to look through peephole and if you see a torch, latch the deadbolt.

“Since my boyhood, I had accepted without qualification the right to equality before the law of all citizens of this country, whatever their race or color or creed. In World War II, I had affirmed my belief in this principle through orders desegregating many Red Cross clubs, while during some stages of the fighting, I had sent into previous all-white units Negro replacements who not only fought well but also encountered little or no resentment from their comrades.” — D.D. Eisenhower

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — When Media Are Shut Out, So Are The People

Scott Pruitt, newly appointed EPA administrator, comes to North Dakota for the first time. He is accompanied by Sen. John Hoeven, Rep. Kevin Cramer and Gov. Doug Burgum.

Meetings are held on the publicly owned campuses of North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota, and the presidents of each institution are in attendance.

In Fargo, the media were banned from the event. In Grand Forks, police actually escorted media away.

The last time I heard, the federal government still represented We the People, and likewise our state elected officials. Odd, then, that they ban our news media, the source of information for most folks and the group who keep politicians (and everyone else, for that matter) honest.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think the presidents of the two institutions have the legal right or authority to ban media from a meeting on state property, absent special circumstances. That the attorney general of North Dakota attended the meeting in Fargo but was kept out of the meeting in Grand Forks (though he was in place) seems to support my position.

At least Sen. Hoeven, to his credit, said afterward that, in retrospect, the meetings should have been open and the press allowed in. I am a member of the Minnesota Newspaper Association and have a press pass of my own. Had it occurred to me that this might happen, I’d have gone to the Fargo event myself. You can bet the farm I’d have gotten in.

The reason I’m confident about my entry attempt is that anyone who knows me knows I do not bluff. I would have made so much noise it would have generated adverse publicity for 45’s minion; I’m hopeful that my cordial relations with NDSU and the Fargo Police Department would have resulted in my admission rather than my ejection.

If you think about it, Mike McFeely could have gone there with McPort … and used McPort as a battering ram. Oh, the opportunities lost!

But back to my point! Those elected officials, if they had the brains God gave a goat, would have told Herr 45’s lackey that in North Dakota, We the People rule, and we don’t tolerate or like secrecy at any level.

Just remember, my fellow Americans: When the media is banned from an event, so too are we — the people who elected the door-lockers.

● ● ●

I am in awe of and saddened by the events in Charlottesville, Va. A 32-year-old woman was killed by a mad boy in his car, and the terrorist seriously injured 19 others. Two state police officers were killed in a helicopter crash while on duty monitoring the protest and counter demonstrations.

This protest allowed the alt-right, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, anti-Semitics and white nationalists to march and spread their hate.

Whenever a tragic event like this has happened, prior presidents have immediately focused on the victims and the crimes and condemned them and those who caused them. But 45 waited a few days before he was forced to condemn the white supremacists’ actions. The hate groups have all publicly supported Herr 45, and he did not dismiss their support until the public reaction backed him into a corner.

The notorious online “fake news” site Breitbart News is a mouthpiece for race baiting and hatred. Its founder is in a sensitive position in the White House as one of the president’s most prominent advisers … with no security clearance. Not a discouraging word.

Yet when Kenneth Frazier, the black CEO of Merck Pharmaceuticals, publicly resigned from the American Manufacturing Council to which 45 had appointed him, the president immediately attacked him in a tweet. You see, Frazier was not impressed with the lack of proper response when the Virginia incident occurred.

I have four children. Not one of them, in their youngest years, ranted or chanted or howled or complained anything like the unbelievably childish current occupant of the White House. I guess what 45 needs is a good bottle of milk and a nice big pacifier.

I’ve watched and prayed for improvement in the White House. To the extent the two generals are now involved, it keeps my hopes alive. The secretary of state, however, has too many Russian investments for me to give him any credence. Worse, to this day, Herr 45 has not: 1) commented on the bombing of a mosque in the Twin Cities; 2) mentioned the loss of life incurred by our military in the last two weeks; and 3) said one single bad thing about his real controllers, the Russians.

If the driver of the car that killed the lady in Virginia had been black or, God forbid, a Muslim, 45 would have gone berserk and immediately condemned the actions. He wouldn’t hesitate for a second to brand it what it is — an act of terrorism.

We’re in a period of adjustment. Our troops in World War II did not fight and defeat the Nazis so that some terrorists could waive their evil flag. The only people who can properly wave the swastika were our own brave troops who took it from the enemy in battle … never some let’s-pretend-we’re-military fakes who proudly display both the swastika and the battle flag of the Confederacy.

We’re going to learn from the mistakes of the last federal election and get our focus back. The true America — the Land of the Free, the land that welcomes everyone — will once again take its place of prominence and leadership in the world.

It will take time to undo the damage 45 has caused … but undo it we will. The next elections will be the start, and I’m hopeful special prosecutor Robert Mueller will hasten the exit of 45.

By the way, next time you see Vice President Pence and 45 in the same picture on the TV news, is Pence fawning over and adoring 45, or is it just my imagination? I think since they started together, that’s the way they ought to exit.

Just a reminder: Judge Ronald N. Davies ordered integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., to begin “forthwith.” A few years later, Judge John J. Sirica demonstrated that no president is above the law, and Richard M. Nixon left. I’m hopeful that the spirits of Judge Davies and Judge Sirica inhabit federal judges across this country — and that the courts continue to value the worth of our people and political institutions.

Finally, happy birthday last week to my favorite eldest daughter, Lisa Marie. Amen.

RON SCHALOW — If The Pillowcase Fits …

A few years ago, before the Fargo Forum’s Rob Port banned me from his brain cell-resistant Sayanything blog Facebook page, I found myself politely conversing, for my part, with a Grand Forks member of the III percent right-wing militia group. He cursed like a wet pirate with R-rated dagger wounds. I was soooo frightened, but I pulled myself together with a nice glass of milk.

If you look at the III percent website, they’re armed, have scary logos and are supposedly prepared to attack, if our government strays from their idea of how our government should operate. You know, the tyranny thing. They are ready to kill police, soldiers and, oh, they are so unready. The poor traitorous dears.

Anyway, being a curious guy, I asked, what date are you characters planning to pounce? I would like to get situated on my porch, with a lawn chair and beverage, and watch the action. I was told that it was none of my business, but I would be first to get my throat cut, along with other liberals. I guess they’re trying to conserve bullets.

Well, OK then. Seems harsh, but the liberal doesn’t rub off, so a minority in North Dakota I shall be. F you III percent dude and all of your pets.

They claim that race isn’t an issue, but their membership spiked when Obama was elected and again when Black Lives Matters came to being. So, race is kinda involved.

I don’t know if any these III percent mutts, or other militia species, went to Charlottesville, Va., and stood with the white supremacists, white nationalists, the KKK, neo-Nazis, alt-righters and other feral hate groups that figured out Google maps and had extra torches on hand.

There are no rationalizations for ugly white supremacists toting long guns, reprehensible props and flags of enemies, walking through an American city, although Rob Port, Scott Hennen and plenty of others are trying. NO, the white supremacists and the counter demonstrators are NOT just two sides of the same coin.

Excusing overt racism is despicable and puts the apologist in the same bunker as the other deep thinkers, staring at ammo, freeze-dried diced beef and the chemical toilet. Enjoy.

Racism is an American pastime, and it still permeates North Dakota. Did you think that Pete Tefft was our only white supremacist? Good grief. North Dakota is infested with white supremacists, white nationalists, racists, bigots, alt-righters and others in the same ideological subdivision.

They need to be rooted out — and outed. Whether that turns out to be a useful strategy, or people take it as a compliment, and a benefit to their reputation, at least we’ll know who is who.

Recent studies have determined that right-wing terrorism has been more dangerous to U.S. citizens living in the homeland than any Muslim-related terror. Yet, we spend many billions specifically earmarked to keep tabs on Islamic extremists, but Republicans in Congress kill any efforts to deal with the right-wing threat. It’s quite stupid.

Especially important to name are those in charge. Racists that sit on city councils, hold legislative seats, work for the government and the loudmouths who have a daily radio or print presence. I’ve already named a couple.

North Dakota is one the most homogenous states in the union, but there are still Native Americans to kick around, as they always have been. The stereotypes never change, and we’re lucky enough to have a blogger willing to smear the First People at the drop of a Twinkie. His blog numbers go way up whenever the weasel trots out his bigotry and aims at the Natives, LGBTQ or refugees. Blogboy will claim so many of his fans are falsely labeled as racists or bigots, but I say… if the pillowcase fits, pal …

I think that Russian president groper has established where he stands. And we have so many of our lawmakers, at every level, who find Trump’s white friendly schtick, a dream come true. After eight years of suffering, somehow through competent governess, it’s good to get the old Nazi flag out the closet for the first time and march for the right to have separate water fountains once again.

So, disavow, sincerely, the supremacy bull$#!*, you North Dakota D.C. reps, leaders in our state executive branch, legislators, mayors, council people, commissioners, or prepare to be outed. As Sam Kinison screamed at a sweaty Rodney Dangerfield, “SAY IT! SAY IT!”

Then, you can brag or complain.

TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — The Politics Of Division

Last week, in Virginia, the birthplace of more presidents than any other, a woman died protesting Nazis, mowed down by a white supremacist in a Dodge Charger. This new president’s reaction was to blame “many sides.”

I blame Obama. And Chrysler Motors.

Seven months into this sideshow (not exactly the phrase I would like to use), when will diehard Trump apologists finally admit electing him was a grievous mistake? But you have to give him some credit. It didn’t take him long to make Nazi Germany great again. Russia’s next.

True to form, “President” Trump passed the buck — unlike Harry S. Truman — saying that hate and division cannot be linked to his presidency because it has “been going on for a long, long time.”

There’s a whisper of the truth there, something with which we’ve come to disassociate with the 45th president. We’ve come a long way from “I cannot tell a lie” to rapt amazement when this one even gets close to the truth. This isn’t horseshoes — although you can lose the popular vote in America by 3 million votes and still claim a mandate. To be fair, those 3 million illegal voters did show up for the Inauguration.

If Trump were Catholic, he’d set records for shortest confession, provided he didn’t first burst into flames at the threshold like Bela Lugosi, because he is incapable of admitting his mistakes. These are more than mistakes; they are the politics of division.

Yet, this president, who has managed to break 11 of the 10 Commandments, is supported by the apocalypse-embracing nut job members of the Christian right, who are so deluded, he could pass gas and they’d call it perfume. Trump could tack Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the Rose Garden trellis and some crazies would justify it as fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

I understand their affection for the president. The man speaks in tongues.

While clergy men and women marched against the Steve Bannon-endorsed “Alt Right” ugliness in Charlottesville, most high profile family values Republicans played ostrich. Or chicken. Choose any bird with a small brain that can’t fly.

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer nailed it when he said that Trump has emboldened racists. “Look at the campaign he ran,” he said. “Look at the intentional courting both, on the one hand, of all these white supremacists, white nationalist groups like that, anti-Semitic groups. And then look on the other hand, the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence … put to bed all those different efforts.”

I have a Jewish friend who thinks I have been unfair in my criticism of Trump. I wonder what he thinks about the emboldenment of Nazism in America. KKK leader David Duke sees the Nazi rally in Virginia as the fulfillment of Trump’s vision for the country.

“We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said. “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

True, Trump didn’t create the culture of intolerance, but he amplified it. To be fair, the alt-right protesters did show a hint of inclusiveness with the use of tiki torches — a tip of the hat to our first Hawaiian president? Later, they gathered for pineapple pizza.

And from Trump enablers across the country? Silence. Or excuses for a president who encourages police brutality (wink, wink, against people of color). KFYR radio talk show host Scott Hennen (“Defending the values of faith, family and freedom …”) explained on social media that Trump is a street fighter. Good, because judging from his five deferments during the Vietnam War, when he was heroically avoiding STD’s while grabbing crotches with his incredibly small hands, we know he isn’t a jungle fighter.

Tiny fingers come in handy as the leader of the free world — oops, excuse me, I just got the president confused with Angela Merkel — because it’s easier to tweet out nonsensical orders on your smart phone’s minuscule keyboard. Things like banning transgender soldiers from the military because, hey, when sexuality gets ambiguous, how do you know which crotch to grab? Contrast that with the aforementioned Truman, who in 1948, signed an executive order of inclusiveness, desegregating and abolishing racial discrimination in our armed forces.

Of course, Truman was the only president to order the use of atomic weapons, and the debate rages on about the necessity of that decision, but is there anyone who wouldn’t rather have Give ‘Em Hell Harry in the White House right now? Even dead at the age of 133, he’d make better decisions. Instead, we have President Golf Cart trading barbs with the equally insecure Kim Jong-Un, possibly the only leader with a worse haircut.

But the stock market is doing great! I’m loading my portfolio with Ambien and alcohol because heaven knows it’s getting harder for Americans to sleep at night. (I’m still tossing and turning over Hillary’s e-mails.) I’m also taking a flyer on Aqua Net and Elmer’s Glue stock because that has to be what holds Trump’s hair in place when the wind blows unimpeded through his ears.

Until next week, duck and cover.

© Tony Bender, 2017

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — When Hate Goes Unchecked

In January, I spent two weeks in Uganda, working in refugee camps, doing trauma healing. There I came face to face with the victims of a brutal civil war in South Sudan. I heard stories of rape, murder and torture committed in the name of genocidal, tribal hatred.

In April, I visited the Killing Fields of Cambodia. I saw the skulls of some of the 2 million Cambodian people who were killed during Pol Pot’s reign of terror piled high as a memorial to the senselessness and viciousness of the Khmer Rouge.

I stood by the pit where women were thrown after they were raped and had their throats slit and next to the tree that still had bits of skull, blood and hair of the babies and small children who were bashed against the tree before they were thrown into the same pit.

Children were killed because of the belief that “in order to kill the weed, you must pull it out by the roots.” The Khmer Rouge did not want to leave children alive to exact revenge on their parents, so the whole family was killed.

Just last month I was in Germany. While there I touched the ovens in Buchenwald where Jews, Romas, people with disabilities, gay men and lesbians were reduced to ashes in the Nazi quest for the perfect Aryan nation.

The refugee camps, the killing fields and the ovens mark the end of a genocide but they do not mark its beginning.

A genocide begins when words of hatred are tolerated and accepted.

It happens when speech that demeans, devalues or destroys another culture, race or religion is not challenged, allowing the speaker to believe that there is tacet approval from the one who is listening.

It happens when people laugh at jokes that objectify people and mocks their identity

Slowly, it grows in power and force, as it moves beyond speech into subtle acts of exclusion, growing with force and power when no one pushes back, standing up for what is good and decent, allowing aggressions — both of the micro and macro variety — to go unchallenged.

And slowly but ever so surely, what began as a ripple of of unchallenged words becomes a wave of acts of violence and ultimately the tide is turned in a nation that allows people to see those who are not like them as “the other,” and it ends in refugee camps, killing fields and ovens.

The people of South Sudan, the people of Cambodia and the people of Germany are not morally inferior to the people in this country today. We are all humans, plain and simple. Subject to the same range of emotions and response. What happened there can happen here if we don’t take steps to enforce our laws, live by our stated values and name the growing scourge of xenophobic racism.

The atrocious acts that resulted in every genocide began somewhere. They began when their society accepted seeing those who are “different than me” as less than me. And it continued when those forces of hate gained power and were not condemned.

Right now, we stand at a precipice as both a state and a nation.

North Dakota is second in term of hate crimes, yet there remains a steadfast refusal by its legislature to establish a law against hate crimes. Such a law would allow the state to root out the organized purveyors of hate, but still there is reluctance and justification on the part of our government leaders to address this horrible stain on our state.

In Charlottesville, Va., there are men marching with torches shouting Nazi slogans, emboldened by White House employees who support white nationalism. There are acts of domestic terrorism enacted against peaceful counter protesters as clergy who lead marches of peace are beaten with brass knuckles.

Sadly, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke speaks for a hate-filled core of people who believe with him that “This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do,”

On one point, I agree with Duke. This does represent a turning point for the people of this country.

Silence is not an option. Claiming that there are two sides to this protest is not an option. Not naming this for what it is — white nationalism rooted in the hatred of the KKK and the Nazi party — is not an option. Not removing from the center of political power advisers who espouse the values of the “alt right” is not an option.

George Santayana famously said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Make no mistake. This is not alt right. This is real hate.

All people of decency, regardless of political orientation, must repudiate this rally and all hate crimes. Silence speaks volumes, and leaders, whether they are religious or civic, who fail to stand up to this are complicit.

Toleration of hate is where it starts, but it’s not where it ends.

In a world where I am faithfully praying that we can find a way to embrace the humanity of everyone and not get stuck in tribal politics, seeing those who don’t agree with us politically as “the enemy,” I know this is not about left and right. It is about right and wrong. And we can’t remain silent.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — I Beg Your Pardon!

Every presidency ought to have a theme song. For POTUS 45 and his cohorts, it should be “I Beg Your Pardon.”

There’s a lot of loose talk about what a president can and cannot do in the area of pardons, so I did a little research on the subject. My results are drawn from multiple sources, all qualified. If I were to annotate each source, I’d exceed my column’s length parameters, so … trust me on this.

Shortly before President Nixon resigned from office in 1974, the Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice issued an opinion in which they cautioned that “no one may be a judge in his own case.” This is also a principle of so-called “natural law,” meaning that the president cannot pardon himself.

In the case of a self-pardon, ultimately the U.S/ Supreme Court would have to come to its own conclusion on whether the courts should accept such a pardon as constitutionally valid. There would really be no option but to reach an independent judgment on that question and not simply defer to the judgment made by the president.

A president cannot use the pardon power to immunize himself from impeachment or from prosecution by one or more of the 50 states. Were a president to pardon himself, this would surely trigger prosecution within the states (e.g. for fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and so on). Because a pardon would be admissible as evidence of guilt, this would not be a wise decision.

Based on this reasoning, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote in 1974 “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself.”

Days later, President Nixon chose to extricate himself from scandal — not by self-pardon but rather by resignation from office. President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon after he had resigned. Logic would say this should put an end to the discussion— but it does not.

It can be suggested that President Ford’s pardon of Nixon did end his own political future, as he was defeated in his run for a full term in the first election after Nixon’s resignation.

Impeachment may seem like an adequate deterrent. But because removal from office requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, presidents normally don’t need to worry about it. It’s possible that a judge would rule that even if a self-pardon would relieve the president of liability for a crime, the act of self-pardoning is itself a crime, obstruction of justice and would independently create criminal liability.

There are two or more potential checks on the pardoning power. First, the Constitution specifically rules out the possibility of pardoning someone for impeachable offenses. Congress could certainly regard an “abuse” of the pardoning power as an impeachable offense, in and of itself, even if one concludes such a pardon would be regarded as legally valid.

Of course, presidents can deceive themselves into thinking that their bad acts are justified for the common good. But the point of the power to pardon is to bestow mercy on another, not to enrich oneself.

President 45’s interest on the scope of the president’s power to pardon demonstrates that he is conscious of guilt. Only if 45 believes that he may be guilty of a crime would he be interested in pardoning himself. This is not the behavior of an innocent man. The same would hold true when he seeks pardon authority for his children and others in his administration.

* * *

One has to wonder when this man actually sleeps. He has meetings all day … when he’s not playing golf … and tweets all night. He who complained about President Obama’s vacations, golf and use of Air Force One for vacation travel has in the first short months of his term exceeded Obama’s whole four years in office.

* * *

Our Denier in Chief does not believe in climate change — notwithstanding the countless educated voices that affirm its existence. That denial allows 45 to write executive orders (which he refers to as “bills,” though they are not) to allow Big Oil to dump waste into our clean waters and allows them to try to intimidate the Native nations, a war that in the long run the Natives will win.

We don’t know if 45 and his gang sleep with the Russians, if he is indebted to the Russians or if the Russians have tapes of El Dumbo doing naughty things. With the exception of the naughty things, 45 could put to rest many of the allegations flying around him and his administration quite easily. All he would have to do is release all of his tax returns.

President 45 and the echo chambers that surround him are the only ones who still claim he is a sharp businessman. His many trips to the bankruptcy courts suggest otherwise, as do the thousands of current lawsuits filed against him and his corporations.

Donald J. Trump holds his own interests and those of his family as his primary concerns. Yet he was elected to be the voice of the American People. The lies he told to get elected— now confirmed as lies — seem to have had little impact on his base.

It makes no difference to me what your political views are; we all have our own. What matters most is that I simply cannot tolerate a serial liar in any capacity or position. We’ve had presidents with flaws, as all of us do — but 45 is in a category all his own. While I wish all of our presidents success, in his case, it simply won’t happen.

Keep watching Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He’s the key to putting this national shame in proper perspective.

* * *

Last but not least, you may have missed the administration’s ballyhooed “Made in America” push a week or so ago. Right up front was Ivanka Trump … all of whose products are manufactured in foreign countries by underpaid employees.

We, the American people of all parties, might be willing to grant our own pardon to 45 and his entire kleptomaniac klan … if they will only just resign and move in with their Russian friends. Amen.