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In the world of missiles and bombs, the "nuclear option" is meant to slash the risk of nuclear weapons ever being used. Each side brandishes its nukes, makes clear its willingness to launch them -- and then refrains from doing so, out of the shared belief that both sides lose in the event of a nuclear exchange. That's how the "nuclear option" regarding the U.S. Senate's filibuster rules should have been resolved, too. After all, weakening the filibuster by simple majority vote has been called the "nuclear option" for a reason.
For a reason to give thanks, look no further than the newspaper you're now reading online or holding in your hands. No, not the Herald itself (though employees here are plenty grateful for the newspaper's continuing health).
OK, so Dec. 2 would be a tough deadline to meet. But the deadlines for other rounds of grants from North Dakota's new Outdoor Heritage Fund won't be far off. And in preparation for one of those dates, here's a project that would be fit the fund like a fishing vest and boost the valley's recreational opportunities: Build a series of canoe and/or boat landings on the Red River. There's no better way to open up the resource that's waiting in Herald readers' backyard. The fund will get up to $30 million every two years from North Dakota's oil- and gas-production tax revenue.
The word "admissions" appeared twice in UND President Robert Kelley's State of the University address, and "recruiting" appeared three times. But that might not be enough. For freshman recruiting and admissions hit a patch of ice this year, with the 2013 numbers falling 19 percent from 2012, the Herald reported in October. Admissions numbers go up and down, and one year's results do not make a trend. But that's partly the point: UND must act to make sure the decline does not become a trend.
When conflicts arise over civic infrastructure in the United States, a resolution process is in place. It starts with public hearings, continues through evaluation by local, state and federal agencies and winds up with eminent domain proceedings and construction taking place. That's the process that built the interstate highways and the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks flood-protection system, among countless other projects. It's also the process that has yielded the Fargo-Moorhead diversion proposal.
"When the legend becomes fact," says a newsman in a classic movie, "print the legend." Not any more. These days, not only would the fact be televised upon exposure of the legend, so too would the speculation, the interviews with the legend's ex-wives and the exclusive videotape from the night it all came down. And isn't that one reason why we're still mourning John F. Kennedy today? For Kennedy was the last of the "Marble Men," the leaders whose images seemed as clean and heroic as those of statues of generals on horseback. The Kennedy image was one of vibrancy and youth.
"Suppose now a traveler, who, towards evening, expects to reach the two stations at the end of his day's journey, (which will be) four or five leagues, with post horses, on the high road -- it is nothing," Clausewitz writes. "He arrives now at the last station but one, finds no horses, or very bad ones; then a hilly country, bad roads; it is a dark night, and he is glad when, after a great deal of trouble, he reaches the next station and finds there some miserable accommodation. "So in war," he continues.
In some 40 states, the highest paid state employee is a football or basketball coach. Why? This week in Grand Forks, North Dakotans and Minnesotans are learning the answer as a coaching drama plays out. UND football coach Chris Mussman was dismissed on Monday as a result of his team's poor performance, especially over the past two years. That fact in itself is a key part of the reason for a coach's high pay: In college as in pro sports, high-profile coaches make good money, but they live under a sword.
Battle lines haven't yet formed for next year's vote on whether to replace the North Dakota Board of Higher Education. But once the campaigns get underway, here's a strategy tip for the pro-board side: Mobilize the students. Because if the eight-member board gets replaced by a three-member commission, students will lose their seat at one of the most important tables in the state. These days, more than 71 percent of public colleges and universities have student members on their governing boards, the Association of Governing Boards reports. North Dakota's state board is one -- for now.
Physicians learn it. Mechanics learn it. Pilots learn it. Parents learn it, too. "It" is a key lesson of adulthood and professionalism: One indicator, symptom or other piece of evidence usually isn't enough. Enough to diagnose a problem or base an important decision on, that is. Or enough to make a valid judgment about the North Dakota budget.