Decency prevails

It’s official: the Dakota Access Pipeline is not going under that stretch north of Cannon Ball.  I welcome this news if it leads to Bismarck putting its drinking gourd where its mouth is, and peace can return to the Missouri.

But a certain metastability still exists with this solution.  There may be a lot of people who want to use money, power, and influence to ram the original route through on January 21st.

But to do that, you’d have to get really ugly.  As ugly as the breaking of the Winnipeg General Strike.  Perhaps even as ugly as Wounded Knee.  Is that North Dakota?

I had the personal luxury of hearing North Dakota Republicans muse about joining reprisal gangs before chomping down on Thanksgiving dinner. ‘Just deputize me, I’ll show them…’  Well, if that’s what’s considered civil family conversation, I’m ashamed to say that maybe it is North Dakota.

So maybe this time, it’s actually right to let the out-of-staters decide this one.


Blame (and maim) the victims

Wasn’t the great benefit of North Dakota oil supposed to be that it was bloodless?

If it wasn’t enough that it maimed and killed countless workers and left untold poison in our wells and waters, now our state is in the business of shredding limbs in an ostentatious display of corporate welfare.  Or should we now say warfare?  What else can an armed repression of this scale be called?

Governor Burgum has a responsibility to end the Dalrymple era of total corruption in the service of the oil industry.  Doug doesn’t even have to say no – just make one key tweak:  Reroute this pipe down the Main Avenue Bridge in Bismarck, where anyone can see if it leaks right away.

Not one more soul should be put at risk for the mere expediency of an engineering project.

Pipeline protests in DC, NYC

A very hearty crowd came to Washington, DC today from the Standing Rock Oyate in North and South Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Along with them was a 140,000 signature petition that was given to President Obama decrying the proposed pipeline. The event, hosted by ReZpect Our Water as well as the Oceti Sakowin Youth & Allies, will host another protest tomorrow in New York City’s Union Square at 3pm ET.

The death of the League is greatly overstated.

I did what I could to prompt the Dem-NPL leadership to note the centennial of the Non-Partisan League.  Clearly, last year’s festivities weren’t enough for Lloyd Omdahl, but this year is chugging along with a celebratory dinner or movie showing here or there.  It’s not the rip-roaring “we’re back” I was hoping for, but the NPL brand isn’t going anywhere, it’s part and parcel of the Progressive experience in North Dakota.

It would be nice, for example, if the state law mandating political parties to terminate their legal name with “Party” — something that was not the League’s idea to be sure — was rolled back.  But right now, it’s kind of a weasels-guarding-the-chicken-coop situation on that.

And among other things, is back online.  I might as well blog again a little bit too.

Last Dash for 2016 Healthcare

You can still sign up for health insurance today and tomorrow.

Among the notable changes in Health Insurance in North Dakota, Medica is now managing a special Altru-branded plan in the Altru Health System region, which is the cheapest plan for residents of Grand Forks County.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has reduced consumer choice, now offering just two Silver Plans, down from four.

Premiums are up this year, with the second-cheapest silver plan in Grand Forks County now running $328.58 a month (individual 40 year old), vs $310.05 last year, a 6% jump.  BCBSND subscribers who were on the cheapest BlueCare plan last year have to eat a 12% hike, now paying $375.18 for fixed co-pays, or a hair less, $362.47 for paying the deductible plus 20%.

Be Angry.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw in my own pep talk now that John Oliver has everyone in a tizzy about our fair state.  What are our state’s opposition parties to do, if there’s a groundswell of resentment surging?

First Strategy: Run as the NPL.

If North Dakotans can’t find anything to love about the party of Great Satan Barack Obama bin President, then it’s time to rebrand. Let’s be fair, as much as the carpetbaggers and consultants want to overlook the NPL dangling at the end of our League’s name, we need only look to Minnesota’s DFL to see that an alternate brand that has a distinct local agenda can have great success.

It’s also urgent; old-timers like Lloyd Omdahl are dejectedly declaring the death of the NPL during what should be its celebrated centennial.  2016 is the last realistic shot to rehabilitate the history-making Nonpartisan League into a modern and memorable political force.

Second Strategy: Let Doug Burgum win.

There’s a lot of talk about Doug Burgum wanting to be governor. He wouldn’t be the first businessman to buy the office, and he just might be responsible enough to clean house. Unless Wayne Stenehjem really wants to do his party a big favour, even the Republicans aren’t going to put up a decent fight for 2016. It’s not time for the League to do so either.

A “Democrat” might kick themselves for not running a candidate. But when you’ve returned your state organization to its NONPARTISAN roots, it becomes a lot easier to endorse or letter-of-support an independent candidate, yes?

Third Strategy: Libertarians running with the NPL for the Legislature

North Dakota’s long-suffering Libertarian Party gets about 4-5% of the vote. That’s enough to swing at least a couple districts. If the NPL reached out, I bet it could convince a few Libertarians to run on the League ticket for 2016, if the Libertarians won’t nominate a ticket in those races. If six or seven Libertarians get elected (along with twelve or fourteen Leaguers), that’ll put the Libertarians close to their natural level of support, and the kicker is it’d be great for democracy in North Dakota.

There will doubtless be some partisan challenges in the resulting chambers, but I’d take a new order over the current one any day.

Finally: Be Angry.

Republicans ruined this state and won’t punish criminals.  It’s time to hammer that home all the time, every time, everybody, everywhere.  Get on message and on the road, Leaguers.  We’ll stick, we’ll win!

Wrigley affair partner outed

Drew Wrigley’s affair partner is reportedly being divorced, according to The Prairie Blog.  PB stopped just a hair’s breadth short of announcing the name of Wrigley’s partner, which was implied to be Melissa Pinks, a businessperson from Bismarck.

News of the Wrigley affair has dominated the month of September in North Dakota politics, culminating in his announcement that he will not run for governor.

Which Heitkamp?

Jack Dalrymple is out, and suddenly everyone is falling in to run for Governor.

I’ll say personally that my dream candidate is Aneta farmer and former State Representative Ben Vig.  He’d be the next Governor Guy in a lot of ways.  There’s Jasper Schneider and a lot of good Leaguers who could put up a heck of a fight.  But of course, all eyes are on Heidi Heitkamp.

Heidi’s advantage is that she can run for Governor without losing her seat in the Senate.  The complication is that if she wins, we immediately get a special election Senate campaign.  So to even make this option feasible and responsible, Heidi needs to fundraise for two campaigns back-to-back.  And then who’s running for the Senate seat?

But Heidi doesn’t have to run herself to get a great candidate with charisma, good name recognition, and mass appeal.  Her brother Joel Heitkamp has been in the Legislature and runs a popular radio show that airs statewide.

Joel isn’t home free, of course; he’s going to lose that microphone in a hurry if he gets in the race, but it’s not the same as losing a Senate seat, and it’s highly likely that KFGO would put leftish Mike McFeely in the morning to keep listeners’ blood boiling.  I’ll call it a win-win.

The Last Day

The last day of the legislature was not today, it wasn’t even halfway through.  It was the 26th of January, the last unrestricted day to introduce new bills.

I had the fortune to visit Bismarck that day and post a quick scoop.  That was not the only positive thing to say about the 2015 session, but it is among a select few.

As a result of this past election cycle and its inevitable result bourne out by the session, my trust in Bismarck has reached a new nadir.

I’m a little young to go all Jim Fuglie on you, but here goes:

Once, oh, about 2006 or so, the UND University Democrats had a meeting.  Gathered around the U-shaped table and Congressman Earl Pomeroy [who always had a place in his stomach for Italian Moon] were a number of my friends and fellow students.  As we went around the room introducing ourselves, we stated our majors.  One after another, “engineer,” “engineer,” “engineer,” “engineer.”

Earl was shocked — he had never seen so many engineers coming out as Democrats.

Engineers love to fix broken things.  We love being part of the solution.  And the Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 gave me a lot of hope.  And also, it seems, a lot of expectations, which in hindsight seem ready-made to be dashed.

It is my eager hope that a Dem-NPLer can forge ahead and win a statewide race on an honest campaign with a clear policy platform, and make the centennial year of the NPL a proud one.  I hope I can write at least one or two stories about that wonderful person.

But I don’t think I can stay in North Dakota, and count on the Internet to magically bestow upon me a coworking version of the job I need.  I will have to go where the jobs are.

So on June 1, for a little more focus on what I ought to be up to most of the time, j5mc design, my occasional home of engineering, gizmos, and science, will be moving to the prime slot of  And this site – North Dakota and Manitoba’s part-time MSNBC by text, C-SPAN by video, will be moving to