“There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence for it.” – Mitch Landrieu
“Money does not bring forth food. Neither does the technology of the food system. Food comes from nature and from the work of people…We are involved now in a profound failure of imagination. Most of us cannot imagine the wheat beyond the bread, or the farmer beyond the wheat, or the farm beyond the farmer. Most cannot imagine the forest and the forest economy that produced their houses and furniture and paper; or the landscapes, the stream, and the weather that fill their pitchers and bathtubs and swimming pools with water…” – Wendell Berry, In the Presence of Fear, 2001
“Most Americans learned about the Great Depression in school, and many have read The Grapes of Wrath, but few people realize the savior of the Joad family was a little-known federal agency (under Democrat FDR’s New Deal) called the Resettlement Administration. Almost no Americans know that this same federal agency, under less compassionate management (Republican Ronald Reagan’s ‘Trickle-Down Economics’), played a significant role, fifty years later, in the 1980s farm crisis, which was characterized by farm foreclosures, farmer protests, and a devastating increase in farmer suicide…But it did happen. I lived through it. And I fear we are in another farm crisis today, caused by years of farmers growing crops and raising livestock below their cost of production, exacerbated by natural disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.” – Sarah Vogel, The Farmer’s Lawyer: The North Dakota Nine and the Fight to Save the Family Farm, 2021
“World leaders (in Glasgow, Scotland) promised to protect Earth’s forests, cut methane emissions and help South Africa wean itself off coal at the U.N. climate summit Tuesday – part of a flurry of deals intended to avert catastrophic global warming.” – Bismarck Tribune, 11/03/21
“ND Republican officials on Tuesday denounced the Biden administration’s wide-ranging plan to reduce methane emissions, saying it will harm the energy industry and drive up home heating costs for consumers.” – Bismarck Tribune, 11/03/21
“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless…reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed…and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack.” – Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, (Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis, 4/9/1945)
“The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1973
“Among other common lies, we have the silent lie—the deception which one conveys by simply keeping still and concealing the truth.” – Mark Twain, On the Decay of the Art of Lying
“Our (State Owned) Bank of North Dakota is so fiscally responsible even Republicans haven’t been able to ruin it.” – Brenda Bison and Paulette Prairie Dog
The greatest destroyer of family farms (and hence of the alleged “family values” that GOP dogma holds dear) in late 20th century America was the Republican Party of President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Reagan’s executioner-in-chief, Office of Management and Budget’s David Stockman, and his merry band of conspirators at the Department of Agriculture, succeeded in using “Big Government” to destroy small to middle size family farms in the 1980s in the interest of “Big (Agricultural) Business,” all the while, convincing voters that “government” was the sole problem, not concentrated corporate wealth, or the two combined against a free people and the U.S. democracy that Americans thought they lived in. It was a clever and successful strategy, but also an unmitigated evil that is still playing out in post President Trump years.
The agent of the destruction of independent farmers in North Dakota and around the nation was a New Deal agency originally designed to protect them, the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA). This sad tale of how Reagan Republicans used an FDR agency to destroy small “D” democracy in agriculture is told by their heroic advocate, Sarah Vogel, The Farmer’s Lawyer (NY: Bloomsbury, 2021). Sarah Vogel’s book thoroughly dissects the evil intents of the men and corporate interests behind this tragedy, but it was not able, through no fault of its scholarship or fluid, deeply personal prose, to explain the phenomenon of why so many farmers, working people and other targets of the autocratic Republican Party and its grifting allies, are still voting Republican. For those answers I needed to consult my KGB animal friends.
High Plains Reader: Why does the monumental insincerity of the Republican Party still manage to attract so many voters, when the Democrats, who actually try to make governmental institutions work for people come up short, time after time?
Putin: Republicans fake sincerity more convincingly than Democrats play it straight to cynical and complicit media, and a worn and weary, if not gullible public. Main stream media are a de facto ally of Republicans, because, for them, the news is 24/7 negative for the sake of ratings, with occasional bows to good news for the sake of competent underlings among them who have a conscience, a quality quite unnecessary at FOX News or other rabid right-wing outlets.
Rasputin: There is a direct tactical line from Reagan, through the Bush Presidencies, to Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) designed only to benefit the fewest, richest, and most pathologically opposed to democracy in general. Those Republicans who believed in efficient government and the welfare of small businesses as opposed to wasteful, bullying government and big business, have been duped as much as those who vote Democrat for the same reasons.
Lena: Reagan’s “Hollywood” Presidency emphasized fantasy over reality. Most Americans know the difference between fantasy football and the real thing, with genuine dangers to life and limb. But they continually struggle to decode fantasy politics of “greed is good,” a branding that emphasizes form over substance, and zero-sum metaphors, pushing deadly messages that adding freedom and equality for people of color and women means subtracting it from white men. Thus, Americans turn from dreams realizable on an even playing field to fantasies that distract them from the uneven playing field created by Reagan reactionaries and Trump autocrats.
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: Don’t be surprised, baffled or discouraged! You just need to keep fighting. Saul Alinsky explained decades ago that previous progress achieved by practical liberals and reasonable conservatives in both political parties have left in place rules, regulations and due process rights that can still be used to leverage social and economic justice. When a group of students complained to Alinsky about the strictness regulating their denominational college in the Chicago area, he asked them what was allowed. When they told him: “gum chewing,” he replied that they should just leave gum wrappers all over the neatly manicured campus, and within a week, the College had capitulated to their incredibly minimal set of demands. “Make them live by their own rules, and you will destroy them,” he said.
Mr. Crying Wolf: That’s why Republicans are changing the rules so drastically in 2021; the assault on voting rights and a woman’s right to choose how to govern her body. Republicans nowadays don’t want “fair elections” if they might lose; so if fraud or phony lawsuits don’t do the job, appeals to violence, both fantasized and real, are perfectly acceptable. Hence the recent embrace by Trump and the most violently anti-democratic elements of the media and Republican Party of un-convicted killer of unarmed citizens, Kyle Rittenhouse.
HPR: But two juries in Virginia and Georgia just convicted numerous Nazis and three “Good Old Boy” lynchers based on facts from visual evidence. They did believe their eyes, unlike the jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Becky Badger: The judges in these former Confederate States did not attack the prosecution. However, the judge in Wisconsin, a former bastion of more humane elements of the Republican Party, actually took sides against the prosecution, for which he should be disciplined. If Trump and his Trumpeters, like Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), Governors DeSantis (R-FL) and Abbot (R-TX) succeed in cowing the Republican Party into submission to autocratic government and fascist tactics, those kinds of judges will become the norm, as they did in Nazi Germany.
Shickelgruber: Given abandonment of civility and legality by so many whites in Kenosha, it is no surprise that we saw a brief video clip of a lone black man, armed with an AR-15, “At Ease,” per Wisconsin’s permissive gun laws, strolling nearby “his people” awaiting the Rittenhouse verdict. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, but there was no violence by public or police against this armed black dude. Apparently, the loud, ubiquitous and periodically violent right wing in America prefers “soft targets;” the kind to be found among unarmed citizen protesters, school children, and in what’s left of the Republican Party establishment.
Brenda Bison: There are plenty of Republican Party cowards to be cowed in Congress these days. The North Dakota delegation of Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, and lone Congressman, Kelly Armstrong are particularly exemplary. Before the Reagan-Bush-Bush-Trump axis, North Dakota Democrats (Dem/NPL) were elected to state wide and national office, including America’s first female State Agriculture Commissioner, the same Sarah Vogel who defended family farmers and family values for real. But right wing fantasies have triumphed in North Dakota over realities of any political stripe: left, right, or center.
Paulette Prairie Dog: Now, Cramer trots around North Dakota selling “cement socialism” of new bridges and roads to cover for Armstrong’s having voted against all three Biden bills designed to help ordinary people in America: the Covid Relief Bill (now law), the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill (now law) and the Build Back Better Bill (currently pending in the Senate).
Omar Khayyam: Kevin Cramer’s voting record shows that he prefers coal, oil and gas to the people he was elected to serve. He helped Trump curry favor with Turkey’s Erdogan dictatorship in officially denying that genocide occurred in 1915 against Armenians by the Ottoman Turks; thus asserting that ordinary people who suffer oppression simply don’t exist if they annoy rich friends of his or Trump’s; or the big corporations Cramer admires so much.
Prudence Possum: Like Armstrong; Cramer and Hoeven both voted against the Covid relief bill — designed to, among other things, help small businesses in North Dakota. State Republicans, dominant in the executive branch and Legislature, backed this hypocrisy up by refusing to spend Covid Relief money until the very end of 2021, instead of earlier, when it was sorely needed. The slack was taken up by the only State-owned bank in the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota, a progressive institution with conservative fiscal management, brought about 100 years ago by the Nonpartisan League (NPL); now affiliated with North Dakota Democrats.
HPR: You mean Republicans like Armstrong, Hoeven and Cramer are political freeloaders?
Brenda Bison: Yes, like most members of the “Cowards Caucus” of today’s Republican Party. Worse, their silence in the face of false claims about “vaccine voodoo” harming recipients of coronavirus vaccines, increases vulnerability of all the U.S., especially in Red States like North Dakota. Republicans depend on their voters’ stupidity to keep them in power, no matter how many suffer and die. Until they are punished at the polls, their callous behavior will not change.
Mr. Swamp Fox: Nevertheless, supine Republican Congressmen and State Legislators from North Dakota are completely outclassed in cynical demagogy by Senator John N. Kennedy (R-LA), on the occasion of President Biden’s selection of Saule Omarova as his nominee to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). During her testimony in the Advise and Consent process of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Kennedy resorted to classic Joe McCarthy red baiting from Cold War days, tricked out with large doses of Reagan-Bush-Trump fear and loathing fantasies, appealing to up-to-date anti-immigrant paranoia and nativist know nothing contempt for talent and wisdom come to our shores from other cultures and languages.
Chicago Dog: As a card-carrying errand boy for Wall Street, Senator Kennedy fears regulators who actually regulate big corporations in favor of public health and safety and big banks in favor of a safe environment for local banks more than he has ever feared Communism. Wall Street, of course, is happy to let the best Senators and Congressmen that money can buy among a few Democrats, and the worst it can purchase among most Republicans in both Houses, rant away against any protections for average American citizens as one form of socialist devilry or another.
Lena: Thus, Kevin Cramer whines about Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) fighting to keep Americans from being fleeced by the biggest banks and new-fangled gimmicks like crypto-currency, fun for rich NFL Quarterbacks, but a potential threat to the stability of the dollar; while Louisiana’s Kennedy sinks deeper into D.C. muck. Ms. Omaraova is a Central Asian (Kazakh) immigrant who lost half her family, murdered by a big government/big business known as the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Kennedy demanded that Ms. Omarova produce a “resignation letter” from Komsomol (the Soviet youth organization) to prove that she was not a Stalinist.
Schickelgruber: Komsomol was no more optional for Soviet kids than Hitler Youth was for German kids under the Nazis, and Senator Kennedy has enough education on his resumé to prove that he knows this. But Senator Kennedy, like all McCarthyites, Joe (R-WI) or Kevin (R-CA), also knows that an unfair question cannot be fairly answered. Ms. Omarova, who had resigned with her feet by coming to America like so many other refugees from tyrants like Senator Kennedy, kept her cool; while Democrats called out Kennedy’s B.S. for what it was.
Agatha Alligator: A Senate rebuke was not enough for a furious White House staffer, whose draft fragment drifted up to shore in the D.C. swamp. It was a fantasy “Komsomol Resignation Letter” for Senator Kennedy’s staff to show this Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-ex post facto Cold Warrior Cracker. Kennedy’s bogus claim that such a letter existed was an old trick; like the number of jelly beans that black Louisianans had to add up from a Jim Crow jelly jar in order to vote in the segregationist Louisiana that JNK wants to return us to.
(Copy) Communist Komsomol Resignation Letter…………………Anonymous Solzhenitsyn
Dear Comrade Stalin, I must now submit
A letter that will show my deep regret
That I resign from KOMSOMOL, and yet
I trust you will not mind or throw a fit.
You see the Stalinist approach has won
Approval with Republicans these days.
Thus, demagogic Senators will praise
Your plan to make democracy undone!
McCarthyism is the U.S. brand
Of Stalinism that should please you most.
So, if I end up there, I’ll feel the thump
And nature of its caustic, deadly band;
Tuned up by GOP from coast to coast;
To imitate your leadership – like Trump.