Community Columnists

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What do these mean to you?

Do you know someone who wore these or who wears them now? They don’t mean the same thing to everybody. To some they are merely the identification of a member of our Armed Forces, while to others they are the life and friendship of a fallen buddy, a “brother in arms” for whom they mourn. ...

An idea for initiated measure reform: require that they be simple

Legislating at the ballot box is a foolish way to make public policy. That said, there is a widespread fetish in American society for direct democracy, and so we’re stuck with initiated measures. A crap shoot of a process that lets deep pocketed interests pay professional signature ...

If only we could return to the old days of mass-shooting deaths

Maybe those of us who don’t believe thoughts and prayers can stop bullets are aiming too high, pardon the pun, in our apparent fantasy that one day U.S. citizens will demand their jellyfish elected officials — right and left, but mostly right — do something about the carnage. Mass ...

This November, reduce your lung cancer risk

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, but fewer Americans are smoking and lung cancer rates are declining. Still, the disease is the number one cause of cancer death. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and reminds us that we have more to do to prevent lung cancer. About 220,000 ...

We were better off before Obamacare

I had a remarkable interview with North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread this past week. During a segment on my radio show, I asked Godfread if he’d be willing to go back to the time before Obamacare. “I would,” he told me. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ...

NDGOP vulnerable, but can Democrats capitalize?

It may surprise you, given their dominance of elected office in recent years, but North Dakota’s Republicans have some weaknesses heading into the 2018 election cycle. The top of the list of vulnerables has to be Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger. In the 2014 election cycle I was the ...

Time to enroll in a 2018 Health Plan

Open enrollment for 2018 health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace begins Nov. 1 and North Dakotans who plan to enroll in or renew a health plan for next year need to get prepared and sign up early. The deadline for enrolling is Dec 15. Those working to promote enrollment ...

Martin Luther thought outside of the box

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door at Wittenberg 500 years ago on October 31, he did not dream that he was starting a revolution that would reverberate throughout Christendom for centuries. While he was gifted in a number of ways, his greatest asset was the ability to think ...

The GOP tent shouldn’t be big enough for a cretin like Roy Moore

Senator Jeff Flake announced his retirement this week saying he doesn’t feel there is a place for him in Donald Trump’s Republican party. Even as he did so some of his Republican colleagues in the Senate — Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul — endorsed Roy Moore in the Alabama ...

NDGOP may face another bumpy primary season

One of the luxuries of being a thoroughly marginalized and not terribly relevant political entity like the North Dakota Democratic Party is that it tamps down the amount of intraparty squabbling. When you don’t have that many people in your party to begin with, when the struggle is to find ...

An open letter to Ryan Rauschenberger

Mr. Rauschenberger: Don’t listen to the people calling for your resignation as our Tax Commissioner because of your DUI. In making those snap-judgments, they’ve forgotten two things: sometimes good people make mistakes, and some people’s demons are more visible than others’. Yes, ...

Public servants hostile to openness aren’t worthy of public service

Here’s one from the “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” department. Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a law exempting applicants for state government jobs from open records laws during the early rounds of the hiring process. I was a reluctant supporter of the ...

Higher ed board plays defense

LLeaders of the Board of Higher Education were remarkably defensive last week, even for a group that has been so often under siege. The evidence appeared in a single issue of the Grand Forks Herald, in a front-page story and in a letter to the editor, both printed on Oct. 12. The letter ...

Higher education shouldn’t be run by politicians

Whenever we think there is a problem in government, the first solution that comes to mind is to move the boxes on the organizational chart. If the street sweepers used a scandalous amount of water, change the form of government from commission to mayor-council. Or if we already have a ...

‘Completely perverse’ wind energy subsidies aren’t reducing emissions

We all see the hundreds of wind power turbines which dot the beautiful landscape of our region. We’re told, by the supporters of these wind farms, that they’re a boon to our society. That they’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing cheap, reliable energy. Except, this week I ...

Clamor for change in governing colleges

The higher education system has proven to be dysfunctional once again, as every North Dakotan probably knows by now. This could be explained, and history may find it an important question. It is not today’s subject, however. An explanation would require more words than space allows, and it is ...

Re-examine minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes

Regardless of the opinions on both sides of the gun control debate, all Americans agree that firearms should be responsibly used and respected for their inherent danger. Unlike cars, or axes, or golf clubs, or just about any other object, the principal function of a gun is to kill things. By ...

Big money dominates ballot measures

In its second meeting of the legislative interim, the Initiated and Referred Measures Study Commission puzzled over big money involved in measures on the North Dakota ballot. The first memorable campaign in which out-of-state money poured into the state was in the general election of 1956 ...

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to refresh your knowledge of the disease. As more research is done and advancements are made, it can be difficult to determine the latest and most trusted information on breast cancer. Take the time to learn some common myths and facts ...