Plain Talk With Rob Port

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes SayAnythingBlog.com, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog.

All Episodes

248: Should we be scorning the unvaxxed?

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"We are not supposed to insult these people for their decision to not get vaccinated. We are supposed to understand their position," columnist Mike McFeely writes. "But should we be empathetic toward those with no good reason for not getting vaxxed?"

"Most are supporters of Donald Trump and to call their decision-making deplorable is worse than insulting their grandmother," he continued in a recent column, choosing to see the vaccination debate through a partisan political lens.

Is this fair?

There's evidence to suggest that vaccine hesitancy is far less political than commentators like McFreely would like to believe.

"In Chicago, 43 percent of residents are not vaccinated. Trump carried 24 percent of the vote in Cook County," he continues. "In Multnomah County, which includes Portland, Ore., just under 63 percent have at least one dose, meaning that 37 percent are unvaccinated. Trump won under 18 percent in that county in 2020. Detroit has vaccinated just under 40 percent of its residents; Trump carried 5 percent of the vote in that city."

Even if every single Trump voter opted against the vaccine, which certainly isn't the case, we'd still be left with a lot of people who voted for Joe Biden and are, so far, refusing to get the vaccine.

Many in the news media have worked very hard to shoehorn the vaccine issue into a political narrative.

The New York Times, as one example, published a statistical analysis in April which seems to show that vaccine hesitancy is generally higher in Trump-voting areas, and that the rate of vaccination is generally lower there.

All of those states went to Joe Biden in 2020.

Perhaps a political narrative isn't appropriate for the vaccination debate?

Perhaps the efforts to frame the issue as another front in partisan politics does more harm than good?

If the answer to that last question is "yes" it's a particularly egregious sin for members of the news media who claim to value vaccination.

Jay Thomas, host of the Jay Thomas Show on WDAY AM970, joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss.

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247: Another front in the NDGOP's civil war

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There are some deep fractures in the North Dakota Republican Party. A faction of the party, loosely affiliated under the banner of the Legislature's supposedly conservative Bastiat Caucus, is attempting to recall Governor Doug Burgum. They're pushing a constitutional ballot measure to implement term limits. They attempted to take over leadership of the North Dakota Republican Party this spring. Now they're attempting a recall of Rep. Dwight Kiefert, a Republican who has represented District 24 since 2013. On this episode of Plain Talk, Kiefert will address the recall campaign and speaks to what he sees as its motivations.

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256: Are fleeing lawmakers a valid tactic?

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State lawmakers in places like Texas and Tennessee have fled their states in an attempt to block laws backed by the Republican majorities in their legislative chambers. Now, at the national level, Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has urged his colleagues to do something similar to block a massive Democratic spending bill. Are these tactics legitimate? Jay Thomas, host of the Jay Thomas Show on WDAY AM970 in Fargo, joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss.

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255: Sen. Cramer on child tax credits, spending bills, and climate change

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Starting this month, some qualifying Americans with children will receive monthly money from the government in an amount representing up to $300 per child. The payments come from the child tax credit millions of Americans tax every year. Think of them as a sort of advanced payment on a credit these families would have taken anyway. Is this good policy? Also, the calculus on these payments could get complicated for some Americans who may end up surprised by a tax bill at the end of the year if they don't adjust their withholdings appropriately. Sen. Kevin Cramer joins this episode of Plain Talk Live to discuss this issue, as well as the shift in the way Republicans are talking about the climate debate and the push Democrats are putting behind spending and infrastructure bills in Congress.

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254: Space billionaires, runaway Democrats, and term limits

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Humanity is pushing its way into space, and some billionaires are leading the charge. Not everyone is happy about this. Jonah Lantto from the Good Talk Network joins this episode of Plain Talk to talk about it. Also, in multiple states, Democratic lawmakers have taken to fleeing their state capitols to deny Republicans the ability to pass laws they don't like. Is this a valid tactic? And in Tennessee, Republicans have fired a public health official over an email encouraging young citizens to get vaccinated. They've also curtailed the state's outreach efforts about vaccines. Why are so many so enraged by vaccines?

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About the Podcast

Plain Talk is a podcast hosted by blogger and columnist Rob Port focusing on political news and current events in North Dakota. Host Rob Port writes SayAnythingBlog.com, North Dakota’s most popular and influential political blog, and is a columnist for the Forum News Service published in papers including the Fargo Forum, Grand Forks Herald, Jamestown Sun, Minot Daily News, and the Dickinson Press.

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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator.