A Ghoulish Display Of Political Theater At The State Capitol

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DUI policy will be a hot topic in this legislative session thanks to the Fargo-centric media sensationalizing a few tragic DUI crashes. As I’ve written before, the DUI problem in North Dakota a) isn’t nearly as bad as some would have you believe and b) certainly isn’t being solved by “get tough” enforcement policies.

But things like data and rational analysis don’t often matter in politics. Perception and emotion matter more, which is no doubt why the car in which a West Fargo family was killed by a drunk driver is parked at the state capitol today.

My good friend Scott Hennen took a picture:

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“What a disgusting exploitation of tragedy,” one friend wrote me from the capitol today. I agree.

Consider this the North Dakota version of President Obama surrounding himself with children at the White House today to announce tougher gun control laws.

This sort of political theater should be condemned no matter how worth or unworthy the policy it is in pursuit of may be.

This stunt – and I think that’s probably too kind a word for it – isn’t an appeal to calm, reasoned, cool-headed debate. It is intended to incite passion, and knee-jerk legislation. The perpetrators should be ashamed of themselves. We shouldn’t make policy based on anecdotes, however tragic they may be.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Wayne

    Manipulation of voters is what politicians do. Obama and the Democrats are masters. And it works for them so we’ll see more and more of this sort of BS by all of them

    • SusanBeehler

      What does Obama and Democrats have to do with our Republican dominated state legislature? In case any of you have not been at the capitol during the legislature there are all kinds of groups who create displays to make their point, I don’t know if I have seen a car before but I have seen photographs,shirts,people cut-outs,just like marketing you target the message.

  • SusanBeehler

    There is no reason, no right to drink and drive, EVER!

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Nobody is saying there is a right to drink and drive.

      What i’m saying is that we should be looking for policy that works to make roads safer, not policy which seeks to satisfy knee-jerk demands for legislation driven by emotional pleas like this one.

      • SusanBeehler

        Keeping drunks off the road is what works. Multiple offenders, offend again and again, it is only a matter of time before they kill someone. Until the first offense becomes stiff enough the behavior will continue. I would love to see if you have had three DUI you should lose your right to own gun. If we can get one person to stop offending or as a citizen take action when you suspect someone driving drunk call the cops. Don’t let your friends drive drunk. Rule of thumb, if you had more than 2 drinks or 2 beers in an hour for a man and one drink or one beer in an hour for a woman than you are beyond the legal limit. As parents we should instruct our children wait one hour after having one drink before driving for our girls and for our boys wait one hour if you have had 2.

        • SusanBeehler

          What is your better idea? Have you had a bill drafted to propose how you would keep the road safer? Or is your answer just stop it or nothing.

          • SusanBeehler

            So you are saying a new law should not come about because a life is lost, better to wait till “what” to make a change in law? For as long as I have been watching state legislation, DUI laws have been before many legislative sessions,I have even testified before the judicial committee on them, just so happen this coincides with a tragedy with a constituent from the legislator district, it is how many of our laws are made. Is this really why you think the issue should not be addressed?

          • Onslaught1066

            Ban the car.

    • retirenowconrad

      Great example of emotion over cool headed debate!

      Too funny.

      Hang anyone who has communion and dares to drive.

      • Mike

        All law is fueled by someone’s emotion.

      • SusanBeehler

        Where do you go to communion where you get a whole glass of wine?

        • retirenowconrad

          You said “no right to drink.”
          You didn’t say whole glass of wine.
          Scroll up to see your post.

          • SusanBeehler

            Not sure what you are pointing out, I said “no right to drink and drive”, you left off “and drive”, they call that taking something out of context. I said a whole glass of wine in the communion post. Many religions a sip of wine or less than a ounce is common. In the other post I stated one drink and in the industry this commonly refers to:
            12 oz. of beer or wine cooler

            8-9 oz. of malt liquor

            5 oz. of table wine

            3-4 oz. of fortified wine (sherry or port)

            2-3 oz. of liqueur, cordial or apertif

            1.5 oz. of brandy

            1.5 oz. of spirits (whiskey, gin, vodka, etc.)

          • Onslaught1066

            That is because you are an imbecile.

            You said drink, you did not stipulate amount.

            What a hannitwat you are.

          • SusanBeehler

            Name calling again: imbecile, hannitwat

            Cyber bully

          • retirenowconrad

            Onslaught, while you are amusing and I like your humor, I must ask you.
            Do you feel your insults will do anything other than motivate Susan to go vote and cancel out your vote?
            This is the age of the low information voter.
            I’d suggest slowing down and teaching. Otherwise we will get 12 years of Obummer.
            Do u believe the constitootion limits the presidents turms? The constitution is breething, duh.

          • SusanBeehler

            What! you introducing legislation to allow a President for more than two terms? FYI I did not vote for Obama sorry to disappoint you.

          • whowon

            The Obama voters are starting the denial! Like the 3 calls to elimate God from the Democrat platform. Susan, go for 3…

          • Onslaught1066

            I believe the only thing that motivates Susan is a misplaced sense of adequacy and a burning desire to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the worlds largest living land mass.

            Thanks for your counsel, I will take it into due consideration and most likely pick up where I left off later today or perhaps tomorrow.

          • retirenowconrad

            So sipping and driving (I included driving) is ok? Or will that be your next crusade?

            Did dropping the blood alcohol level to .08 reduce traffic deaths? No, it increased the number.

            Will making the law more strict work? No. The guy who hit this van died. Death is worse than jail and it didn’t deter. People that drink and drive don’t care, period.

            This guy didn’t have a license. Would taking his license away AGAIN have worked?

            New laws will punish the three or four drink crowd. They will sit in jail for driving as impared as talking on a cell phone (look it up, I’m not spoon feeding you a link).

            The new laws won’t be enforced by law enforcement because someone who is as impared as a cell phone talker should be warned.

            In two years you’ll be scratching your head wanting stricter laws.

          • SusanBeehler

            Did I say sipping and driving? I said a sip of wine at communion is what is commonly given. A sip at church will not put you over the legal limit to drive. No one should have 3 or 4 drinks in a hour and get in a car, it would put you over the legal limit and if you are caught you could be charged with drunk driving, it has nothing to do with the proposed law, it is the reality and the education you obviously need to know in order to not be over the legal limit when you get in a car. Have you been sipping and blogging? You seem to be “impared” to understand my post.

          • retirenowconrad

            It has everything to do with the proposed law. Please read my post again. The person who caused this accident would not have been detered by any new law.
            The new law would only cause people who are as impared as cell phone talkers to be punished harder.
            Again, the person who caused this accident already lost his license. He risked death and didn’t care. NO NEW LAW WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS ACCCIDENT.

            You did not say 3 or 4 drinks. You said ”
            There is no reason, no right to drink and drive, EVER!” Sroll up.
            Is it a drink, a sip, or 3 or 4 drinks?
            Nice personal attack, are you a cyberbully?

          • SusanBeehler

            I still have no idea what you are talking about, cell phone, drink or sip or 3 or 4 drinks?
            Of course no new law could prevent this accident from happening the accident has happened but it does not mean the proposed law can’t curtail other drunk drivers or save lives, you don’t know that, I don’t know that, what is the harm in trying?

          • retirenowconrad

            Please read my posts, your questions have been addressed. I told you I would not spoon feed you links, but I will summarize. Studies have been conducted showing talking (hands free) on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver who is .08.
            The new law is being justified because of this particular accident, the reason for displaying the car. We agree this law would not have prevented this accident so why propose it?
            The law of unintended consiquenses is the harm.
            These same wizards of smart banned texting even though the highway patrol recommended against it. In 3 of 4 states with new texting bans accidents went up, due to people continuing to text but instead of holding their phone at the stearing wheel they hide it on their lap, further taking their eyes off the road. What is the harm in banning texting while driving, I told you.
            Please read my previous posts. I outlined the harm in trying.
            Again, we will punish people who are very little danger (the same as a cell phone talker). They will sit in jail instead of contributing to society. The 8th amendment was to protect them and us from excessive fines, but not in the case of emotional issues?
            What is the harm it leaving the law the same? You already agreed this law would not reduce the accidents it is meant to stop.
            Before replying please read my posts, twice, they answer your questions.

          • SusanBeehler

            If I am understanding your post you believe being over the legal limit is no worse than talking on a cell phone. You believe a law to stiffen penalties or fines is bad and is excessive thus against the constitution. Is this what you are trying to tell me?

          • retirenowconrad

            I supplied the exact string to cut and paste into google. You could read the studies yourself. I believe if you took the time to research, you would at the least be able to back your case with facts.
            I believe universities have tested drivers navigate a coarse and recorded how many times they ran over cones. They tested drivers who had blood alcohol levels of .08. They tested drivers who were talking, hands free, on cell phones. They averaged the results. The drivers performed the same.
            I believe you and I would agree taking someone’s license away for a year is excessive “thus against the constitution” if they talk on a cell phone while driving.
            I also believe any representative who votes against these laws is not “for drunk driving” but is instead took the time to research the issue.
            Now, before you reply, be ambitious and do a google search on the string I supplied. Read the studies, then reply from a stance of knowledge instead of emotion.

          • SusanBeehler

            Thank you but you are disputing a law already on our books, that is your battle to fight, I don’t believe it is excessive, you do. Actually you make the case for placing cell phone use under the same penalty. My question for research would be of all the arrests how many are just at the “cell phone” level?

          • SusanBeehler

            I answered my question less than 50% are at the range of 0-.17
            almost 19% refuse, so that is an automatic penalty.
            http://www.ag.state.nd.us/twentyfourseven/ND247Program.pdf

    • Roy_Bean

      The problem we have now is that DUIs are reduced to reckless driving to avoid the enhanced penalties. Increasing the penalties won’t help unless these people are prosecuted.

      • SusanBeehler

        Really? Do you have some stats on that? I thought it was only practiced in the southeast part of the state.

        • Roy_Bean

          I know for a fact that it happened in Stutsman County in November of 2011. This crash happened in Stutsman County in 2012. I think the laws we have would work if they were followed and what ever they pass won’t work if it is ignored.

  • headward

    The issue here is that anybody can buy a car. Car shows are everywhere and people can just walk right and buy a car. Then they go and wreck it and kill somebody. I blame GM.

    • RCND

      And why do they need a car that can drive that fast? Or is that heavy? The average person doesn’t need to own a car like that!

    • borborygmi

      Making light of death and tragedy. To be expected from the Conservatives. No doubt trying to bring in the gun control debate where it shouldn’t be and has no correlation at all. Reduction to the absurd. Probably a couple of habitual DUI offenders on top of it all.

      • Thresherman

        Laws should be debated and voted on their merits and with due consideration to the effects both intentional and unintentional. Engaging in ghoulish displays such as this are intended to make emotions rather than reason the controlling factor in writing and passing a law. Jefferson, Adams and Franklin would have been appalled and this is what Franklin alluded to when asked after the Constitutional Convention, “What have you given us?” and his response being “A republic, if you can keep it.”

      • headward

        I’m not making light of any deaths. The current gun control debate is going on right now blaming the gun. I am just applying the same formula that the more legislation crowd is crowing for. Guns and cars need to be regulated and removed from society.

  • retirenowconrad

    Rob,
    Name names. Who put the bloody car at the capital?
    How about pass whatever law they want, but sunset the law in two years when accidents do not decrease?
    This is common practice when giving us our money back.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m told it was friends of the families of the crash victims donated the car, but i wouldn’t be surprised if one of the activist groups in the state paid for it.

      • retirenowconrad

        We pay you big bucks to dig. Freedom of information request the license plate on the trailer.
        Anyone know a shady cop?

        • SusanBeehler

          You are all about secret agent stuff? Listen to the local news your answer was in it, why do you want their names, why is it important to you?

          • retirenowconrad

            Dear, if you follow the money you usually find alternative motives.

            You admit elsewhere no new law would have prevented this accident. The family knows that. So why would the family display the car. Some group is exploiting the family, accident and deaths to further their cause.

            Finding out what group is this immoral is a good thing.

          • SusanBeehler

            I don’t agree with your definition of immoral or good. You mean like the gun lobby. Gun manufacturers and gun shops seem to be exploiting shootings. I am for stiffer DUI with or without this family’s tragedy

    • SusanBeehler

      How about you give your name so we can see how many DUI’s you have? You could google for their names?

      • retirenowconrad

        My name is Susan Beehler. Google won’t tell you. You will need to use the North Dakota courts website.
        Turns out I’m a fellon.
        I have zero DUIs. I have much common sense.

  • SusanBeehler

    Nice pop up ad you have for DUI offenders for this page. Maybe this blog could start with not promoting legal help for DUI offenders
    http://www.totaldui.com/pc/14/default.aspx?GCID=X001&keywordid=DUI_G_D_CPA&creativeid=17425368634&placement=sayanythingblog.com&gclid=CPb4k6XZ7bQCFS-RPAodGBsANQ

    • Onslaught1066

      Let’s see, you wish to abolish most of the 1st amendment, the 2nd amendment, and the 4th amendment, and 5th amendment.

      My but you are a busy liberal toerag.

      Which rights are you ready to abolish next, comrade?

      Is the 13th in your sights?

      • SusanBeehler

        I can speak and write for myself you do not have to put your thoughts down and say they are my thoughts, my words.

        • Onslaught1066

          Not articulately.

          I’m not even convinced that you are particularly sentient.

          Now why don’t you waddle back over to your sandbox of irrelevance and bob for Tootsie Rolls™.

          • SusanBeehler

            Cyber bully

          • Onslaught1066

            Very inarticulate, hannitwat.

          • SusanBeehler

            Cyber bully

          • Onslaught1066

            Very inarticulate, hannitwit.

          • SusanBeehler

            cyberbully

      • retirenowconrad

        You forgot the 8th.

        • Onslaught1066

          She’s out to abolish so many it’s hard to keep track.

    • retirenowconrad

      Susan,

      Rob puts a link to ads on his page. The ads look for text on the page and display certain ads based on the text on the page.

      In your post you have “DUI offenders” that text likely triggered the ad.

      You are to blame.

      • SusanBeehler

        Good thing you found someone to blame. I am sure Rob would have no authority to ask for certain ads and no business owner has a “right” to ask for certain ads not to display, it is after all not a business Rob owns? This is why the ads for men to meet men pop up when someone like Onslaught put the butt or other name calling items in their posts. How about just the word DUI in the context throughout the blog, glad you want me to take all the credit but I not going to take the “blame”?

        • Onslaught1066

          Actually, whenever i use your name in a post, I get an ad for the State Hospital instead of your make believe business.

          Why do you suppose that is, hanniturdlet?

        • retirenowconrad

          Susan,

          You accused Rob of “having” the ad on his blog and promoting legal defense for DUI offenders. I was informing you how software works.
          He didn’t cut the ad and put it on this page.
          Do you think DUI offenders should not get legal help? Should we change the law to put anyone accused of DUI in gitmo?

          • Onslaught1066

            I propose we cut the imbecile some slack.

            It is clear she is a retard with a severe eating disorder and is not legally competent.

            Besides which she is obviously hanniturds understudy and what can you expect from a thing like that.

            You’re welcome Susan.

          • SusanBeehler

            I did not accuse him, his blog did have the ad, ads are promotions. I know how software works and I am sure Rob understands how it works too. Everyone is entitled to legal help. I wouldn’t have an ad like that on my page, but this is not my page. He can advertise whatever. What is gitmo?

          • retirenowconrad

            US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay Cuba.
            Susan, did you try googling gitmo? You say you know how software works, that would lead me to believe you are being lazy.
            Are you being lazy?

          • SusanBeehler

            You call me lazy? Did you try finding the actual law here is the one Rep Koppleman is introducing HB 1302 http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/documents/13-0399-01000.pdf

            You state it will only stopped the equivalent of someone on a cell phone while driving, which is the starting point of drunk driving, but most drunk drivers have are much more than the legal limit especially in accidents where deaths occur. I disagree with you. I think this law may help save lives while making our highways safer.

          • retirenowconrad

            Susan, before hitting post, read my posts a second time. No where in my post did I call you lazy. I didn’t call names, I questioned actions (or lack of action).

            You refused to google gitmo, yet you claim to know how to use google. You are either not telling the truth about knowing how to use google, or being too lazy to google “gitmo.”

            Did you read the bill? Where is blood alcohol limit addressed? If you feel someone who is less than .17 should exempt, it is missing from the bill.
            No where in my posts do I state this bill will stop anyone. That’s my issue with the bill. My point is the bill is too harsh on people who are as impaired as a cell phone talkers, thus excessive.

            There are many classes available to help increase reading skills. These classes might be helpful for you. They don’t cost much either.

          • SusanBeehler

            I disagree with you.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      The ads are contextual, so they are based on the content of any given post.

      I don’t see what’s problematic with that ad. Driving drunk is inexcusable, but everyone is entitled to legal counsel.

      • SusanBeehler

        Yes you are correct everyone is entitled to legal counsel.

    • Waski_the_Squirrel

      Advertising services often don’t allow the site owner to limit what to advertise, and there is the reality that the site owner can’t cover every possibility.

      Right now I have an advertisement for Pita Pit (in a city 6 hours away) and a men’s underwear advertisement with a model in creepily tight underwear. (I’m not sure what I searched to get the underwear, but I did teach the owner of the Pita Pit.) I frequently see advertisements for photographic equipment and for fountain pens.

      I would also note that in America even the worst criminal among us is entitled to legal representation.

      • SusanBeehler

        I haven’t seen any creepily tight underwear on a blog, that is funny.
        Yes, I agree every criminal deserves legal representation.

  • Mike

    What’s a “cool-headed” alternative to laws designed to stop people from driving drunk?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I can tell you what it’s not: Putting people in jail for 30 days for a first offense.

      • borborygmi

        I heard 3 or 4 days. HOw about that.

  • WOOF

    The reality of drunk driving is that destroyed vehicle.
    Not a spreadsheet.

    • Onslaught1066

      The direct drunk driving link is that a car is required.

  • Clairvoyant

    Isn’t it interesting that if you break a DNR law such as taking a deer out of season,
    that you surrender not only your gun, but your vehicle as well (since the
    vehicle “was used in the crime”). Start taking away vehicles with DUI arrests
    and folks would really get it. Mandatory vehicle confiscation would go a long way. And you lose it whether you have a rusted 1971 Ford Pinto or a $65,000, 2013 BMW with 26 miles on it.

    • SusanBeehler

      I thought no one was to infringe on your right to own a gun, how did that law get past the NRA and gun owners protecting the 2nd amendment
      Unless it is your parents car, or your husband’s car?
      What if it is your mom’s gun do you still have to surrender it?

      • Clairvoyant

        actually you do surrender those items. that’s part of the deterrent sure makes people responsible when they borrow things. why does today’s society full of excuses and the need for the government to take care of them? act responsibly, people!

    • borborygmi

      sounds good to me

    • awfulorv

      It wouldn’t be two weeks and there would be gun battles in the back of the police station over who was going to get the car.
      Do as they do in certain areas of Germany, fine them according to their ability to pay.
      A $100.000 a year person gets a $1000.00 fine, a million per year person gets a $10.000 fine.

  • Clairvoyant

    A drink or 2 with a meal isn’t a problem. (perhaps the 2nd drink for a 90lb woman might be). But “just had a couple of drinks, officer” (after one has had 5,9 or 10) is generally a cry of denial, disingenuousness and dishonesty from an alcoholic who does not accept that he/she has a problem. And that cavalier, uneducated and unfortunate attitude toward alcohol, is exactly why we have such a problem is this part of the country.

  • Clairvoyant

    A drink or 2 with a meal isn’t a problem. (perhaps the 2nd drink for a tiny 90lb woman might be). But “just had a couple of drinks, officer” (after one has had 5,9 or 10) is generally a cry of denial, disingenuousness and dishonesty from an alcoholic who does not accept that he/she has a problem. And that cavalier, uneducated and unfortunate attitude toward alcohol, is exactly why we have such a problem is this part of the country.

    • SusanBeehler

      You are correct a meal will make a difference on alcohol absorption. The 2 and 1 drink is the guideline from a program which is used for training it is called TIPS
      http://www.gettips.com/home/history.shtml

      • Onslaught1066

        a meal will make a difference on alcohol absorption.

        In your case there is no amount of alcohol that you could consume to get you drunk.

  • VocalYokel

    Classy.
    Next, let’s use pictures of burned bodies to get people to install smoke detectors.

    Laws do not prevent crime, they simply define an offense and give the parameters of punishment.

    Addicts have a disease…a mental disease.
    This prevents them from making rational decisions regarding their behavior, including it’s effects on themselves and the probability that it will extend to other people.
    Substance abuse is a manifestation of other problems, real or perceived, that an individual is not dealing with in an appropriate manner

    Until you deal with the causes of substance abuse within the individual, all the laws in the world, no matter how Draconian, will not stem incidents of unreasonable intoxication.
    This is not to give a free pass to people who violate the law, they should be liable for their choices.
    But I am pointing out that unless we acknowledge that rehabilitation is a necessary component of punishment in order to prevent a repeat of this behavior, the only sure way to stop DUI recidivism is to jail first offenders for life…or execute them.

    • SusanBeehler

      Those who work with addicts may tell you the difference between a addict and maybe someone who just made a bad decision is a person who does not have an addiction will not get another DUI they will learn from the mistake whereas an addict will repeat an offense regardless of the consequences, his addiction untreated could prevent them to make a decision to not drink and drive after the first offense.

  • LastBestHope

    Consider this the North Dakota version of President Obama surrounding himself with children at the White House today to announce tougher gun control laws.

    Ah yes, we must save the children. Unless they’re unborn, in which case Obama says yank that shit outta there and crush its skull.
    .
    Forward.

  • borborygmi

    Sometime when they aren’t paying attention you have to hit them along side the head. This is the result of an action. Don’t you agree that this action Drunk Driving should be debated? NOthing could be more transparent as far a information goes then showing the result of someone driving drunk. The impact of saying well my family died because of drunk driving is not as subtantial as showing them the result. I don’t have any problem with this at all. Now if they wanted to show the bodies , that would be crossing the line in this incidence..

  • nimrod

    Freedom can have tragic consequences, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up and live in a police state. The Governor should not have allowed this display to be on state property. He is opening himself up for other displays that he wouldn’t agree with.

  • awfulorv

    Every car should have a finger print certified breathalyser installed when it comes off the assembly line.

  • dakotacyr

    Right, god forbid we show the actual results of drunk driving and that there was an actual living breathing family in that car.

    • Onslaught1066

      What if it were a pregnant woman on her way to an abortion clinic?

      Would you feel bad for the woman, the baby, or the clinic that just missed out on an easy $400.00?

  • Marcus

    People need shocking reminders like this to get anything done. Rob you are a coward for using this same photo you detest to go on a rant about the government. I knew this family very well. I am so thankful I don’t know you.

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