On Tyranny: Be kind to our language
“Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. Make an effort to separate yourself from the internet. Read books.” – Timothy Snyder
“The invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases (‘No Quid Pro Quo;’ ‘Fake News,’ ‘Make America Great Again’) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.” – Update of George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, 1946
“Liberty resides in no particular form of government, but in a free man’s own heart. He carries it with him wherever he goes. The slavish man carries his slavery everywhere.” – J.J. Rousseau, Émile, 1762
On Tyranny: Believe in Truth
“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.” – Timothy Snyder
“Men are driven on by greed to win wealth in unrighteous ways…” – Solon of Athens
“Five great intellectual professions…exist in every civilized nation: The Soldier’s profession is to defend it.
The Pastor’s (Teacher’s) to teach it. The Physician’s to keep it in health. The Lawyer’s to enforce justice in it.
The Merchant’s to provide for it. And the duty of all these men is, on due occasion, to die for it. ‘On due occasion,’ namely: – The Soldier, rather than leave his post in battle. The Physician, rather than leave his post in plague.
The Pastor (Teacher), rather than teach Falsehood. The Lawyer, rather than countenance Injustice.
The Merchant – what is his ‘due occasion’ of death? It is the main question for the merchant, as for all of us. For, truly, the man who does not know when to die, does not know how to live.” – John Ruskin, The Roots of Honor
“…history will not judge merely the governments or military authorities of the Allied countries. History will judge the countries themselves; history will judge the people of those countries. And history will certainly judge the most august representative body (the Senate) of the richest of those countries—the United States.” – Senator William Langer (R-ND), Congressional Record, March 29, 1946
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” – President Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981
It seems that Ronald Reagan, and all the right wing pundits (who have suddenly been criticizing a President Trump that their organized cynicism helped to power), have always been wrong. Government has NEVER been the problem per se. It is misgovernment, the abuse of government for the sake of private gain, under the cover of being a “conservative,” that has been wrong. “Conservative” as in “conservation” (Teddy Roosevelt), or “to conserve” (Dwight Eisenhower’s acceptance of FDR’s and Harry Truman’s New Deal reforms, and graduated income tax), was thrown out the window in 1980 in favor of a “trickle down” slogan that actually was a metaphor for how the 1% contrived to piss on the rest of us. Meanwhile, the term “liberal” has long been used as a term of abuse by “fig leaf “ conservatives for those of us who favor deliberation over dogma, tolerance over bigotry, acceptance over exclusion. I mean, “these liberals: they get so touchy about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for more than the privileged few!” It is bad enough to read these “trickle down pundits” in national media, but even stranger to read it, hear it, and see it, in Republican dominated North Dakota, where a revolution took place 100 years ago that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could only dream about. I needed canine consultation on this madness.
High Plains Reader: Hello dear friends! I see that you have a goat among you. And the Easter Bunny!
Alter (Old) Goat: Indeed! I am a descendant of the Non Partisan League (NPL) goat, the only political mascot that uses its head. The NPL founded and preserved the only Statewide public interest corporations (The Bank of North Dakota; Grain Mill and Elevator) that exist today, 100 years later. If Kentucky had these institutions, their Legislature and Governor could have set up their own, homegrown, taxpayer owned Aluminum plant, instead of watching “Moscow” Mitch (Senate Majority Leader) McConnell welcome dirty money from Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs.
HPR: But doesn’t that make North Dakota a Socialist State?
The Easter Bunny: Not really. That’s just propaganda put out by capitalists who fear competition more than they have ever feared Communist socialism, which the Russians adopted in 1917, but which never tempted the vast majority of North Dakota farmers and ranchers. They only wanted a fair shake in the market place. More eggs in their Easter basket, so to speak.
Lena: And their State Government was the only place where North Dakotans could organize successfully against the combinations of big business. The U.S. Supreme Court (9-0) agreed in 1920 (Green vs. Frasier) that this form of socialism was constitutional in America.
HPR: Then why did North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum denounce socialism in the Bismarck Tribune in 2019, as a kind of plot by left wing Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
Alter Goat: Perhaps Governor Burgum was confused about the term “socialism.” His comments praising the Bank of North Dakota (historically denounced by North Dakota Republicans who despised our NPL independence) appear at the beginning of a history of that Bank: “From Surviving to Thriving – The First 100 Years” by Mike Jacobs of the Grand Forks Herald. As Fargo based radio commentator Joel Heitkamp explains, “We North Dakotans love our Bank.” – A whimsical explanation of Orwellian “Doublethink” on the Northern Great Plains.
Lena: Governor Burgum’s celebration of North Dakota Native Americans, fulsome support for First Lady Kathryn Burgum’s efforts to treat addictions as illnesses rather than crimes, and prompt response to the corona medical crisis may explain the grumblings in his own, NPL-hating Party that he is a RINO (Republican in name only).
The Easter Bunny: Like many North Dakotans, while still a decent person, and a Governor who often puts people over profits, Doug Burgum may have forgotten that the NPL way of thinking lost its home in the Republican Party in the 1950’s and found a welcome in the Democratic/NPL. There, New Deal and Great Society programs have produced constitutionally valid (thanks to North Dakota) Social Security and Medicare. Such programs, that actually help government work for all of us, enrage certain dark money American billionaires, who engage alongside the likes of Russia’s Putin to destroy underpinnings of middle class democracy. These oligarchs, foreign and domestic, favor rule of the “divine right of money bags” with the support of mob rule inherent in the thinking of Trump-eteers, and Senators like Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), aghast that a Democrat driven stimulus bill (#3) might actually help folks who have been thrown out of work because of Republicans’ shoddy governance and indifference.
HPR: Are there any other kind of Republicans nowadays?
Mr. Swamp Fox: Only the impact of impeachment proceedings and process of national elections in 2019/2020 will tell for sure. North Dakotans, like most Americans, have long become weary of endless wars arising from the horrors of World War II and our seemingly open ended commitments since December 7, 1941. Also, cynicism resulting from “fighting fire with fire” and the “end justifying the means,” in the Cold War against the Soviet Union from 1945-1989, produced a moral rot of “greed is good” in the 1980’s that became especially acute among Republicans behind Donald Trump.
Alter Goat: If Republican voters in North Dakota ever “get” the fraud that Trump’s Republican Party has perpetrated, as did Democratic voters in 2018 in States like Wisconsin and Michigan, we may even see some change in voting in 2020, and therefore in the 2022 re-election language of North Dakota’s “silent Senator,” John Hoeven (R). He was a former President of the Bank of North Dakota in an earlier “socialist” part of his life. Too many facts about criminality in the Trump administration are spilling out into the public (even FOX News) despite millions of dollars invested by dark money in TV commercials and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.
Rasputin: That’s what terrifies Trump Republicans these days. These facts jumping out all over the place are making it a hard road for sycophancy and misinformation.
The Easter Bunny: Toxic demagogues like Newt Gingrich may try to confuse impeachment of President Trump with un-Americanism, but it is more proper to see efforts of House Democrats as offering Americans their traditional gift of freedom, wrapped up in a 2020 package, a sort of Easter present.
Chicago Dog: Americans will have to show presence of mind, courage, and the better angels of their nature to unwrap and use it.
Mr. Swamp Fox: There will be some, who never change.
Alter Goat: Perhaps, but changing their minds about Trump does not mean that North Dakotans would have to change their natures, which are kind and caring in their daily and professional lives, so reflective of what we see from health care professionals, every day clerks and public servants all around the country. As proof, we scavenged the copy of a note and sonnet by a patient to some staff at Sanford Hospital in Bismarck.
The Easter Bunny: On the advice of Doctor Anthony Fauci, this poem will have to serve as the only public present I can give out this year, despite what your myopic, mistaken, and malevolent President might pronounce from his secular pulpit:
June 9, 2019
To: The Nurses, Doctors and Support Staff converging on, around, and from Station 7 East
From: The Phantom of Rm. 762
Re: Your organized and scientific; yet human and touching kindness these past five days. God bless you all!
Sonnet #762 (with apologies to Will Shakespeare) – Because flowers trigger allergies, and candy is fattening –
Although my Medicare has paid quite well
For care at Sanford/UND to date;
There is a ‘Bismarck bonus’ to relate;
A human ‘supplemental,’ I must tell.
It centers not on health plans, costs, or bills;
But human factors that are ‘oft ignored,
By those of us who benefit, though bored
With our confinement, due to nasty ills.
I love the gen’rous care that I received
From all of you, with worries of your own;
The laser’d focus on ‘disease at hand,’
Without forgetting what I am or need:
A fellow human, hurt; but newly grown
Accustomed to your kind and caring ‘band.’