No More Games

With the Superbowl done, the nation settles in to the depths of Winter. This has been a hard time of year for many reason, not just the sudden end of football. The last few years have been harder to take than what the Panther fans are feeling about now.

This year? It may yet be worse, according to prognosticators. Then again, the worst may be over. Let’s update last year’s big stories to see how this year is coming along to see if there’s reason to hope.

Continue reading

Crying Wolf

This little piece on all the all the “scandals” attributed to Hillary Clinton got me thinking: What if Aesop was alive today? Certainly, he’d have to be a bit more sophisticated and wily, since no one likes simple stories with obvious morals. Then again, we need them more than ever given how simple-minded the constant stream of very sophisticated “news” renders all of us. So I wrote this piece, which I hope you enjoy.

A long time ago there was a village called Gullibalogna. It nestled up against the rolling hills in a valley where nothing terribly bad ever happened and life was good. Everyone was happy and generally through highly of everyone else because there was no reason to think any other way.

Continue reading

But What About Those Republicans?

We’ve talked about the existential search for the soul of the Democratic Party, but what about the Republicans? They aren’t a party for much in the way of soul-searching by nature. They’re typically driven by two important forces: conservative ideology and winning.

Then again, there’s a third force that’s always present – the establishment and their ability to control things.

Today, most of this has been thrown out the window. The defenestration (a word I have longed to use) of the party’s most cherished forces has come down to a rough populist sense of conservatism. Winning? It’s not worth it if all we get are RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). Control by the establishment? Hahahaha! The Iowa Caucus, never a reliable gauge of anything, may have given us some guidance only in the sense that the top three are likely to dominate New Hampshire and maybe beyond. Let’s run this down and see where it takes us.

Continue reading

Four Views, Two Candidates

The Democratic Party is locked in a titanic struggle for its soul – an existential battle over the true meaning of what it means to be a Democrat, to be a progressive, to be a liberal.

Clinton versus Sanders has, for many reasons, brought the old fight to the surface. It’s worth working through if only because the end result can and should be a united party that firmly stands for something. But what is that?

There are four views of change, four visions of progress, which separate Sanders and Cinton.

Continue reading

Fun Times in Iowa!

Before our robotics team meet started the kids unwound between the routine of the school day and the excitement of building a robot. Some of them were still bubbling from the visit from Bernie that took some of them away from our last meet. Sanders came to St Paul on Tuesday and gutted the team leadership for the evening – seniors eligible to vote for the first time & feelin’ the Bern!

But one thing quelled their enthusiasm quickly. “When I saw a video on how the caucus system works I thought it was a joke. Then, I found out that’s how it really works. Why do we do it that way?”

It’s not a conspiracy, it’s a tradition. The difference is sometimes hard to spot when you’re young, but Monday’s Iowa Caucus is not just a made for teevee event – it’s small town democracy at it’s finest, weirdest, and most personal. And that’s why anyone making a hard, definite call is kidding themselves.

Continue reading

It’s a Downer Kinda Thang

“Never forget that the stock market is just a market for stocks.”
– Herman Miller, an old accountant I knew when I was a kid

The bloodletting on Wall Street may have paused, but no one is taking any chances. We’re not technically in a bear market yet – the S&P500 would have to break its resistance around 1863 before that happens. But the world is braced for it. Morgan Stanley has told its investors to hold on at least into the third quarter – exactly what Barataria said a few weeks ago.

Why all the negative sentiment? After all, China’s loss can only be our gain if you believe what you hear in politics. Then again, investors aren’t that gullible. It’s one big financial world and what goes ‘round comes ‘round. While there are some good reasons to take a six month or so pause, most of the reasons for this downturn are indeed lousy. It’s time to run through, and over, these arguments.

Continue reading

Transit in the Twin Cities

Since I started serving on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Riverview Corridor transit project, I’ve had a front row seat from which to view the planning process here in St Paul. This isn’t the first time I’ve served on a group like this, but it is the most intensive and serious effort so far.

As a built urban environment, this is not an easy place to plan transit. Traversing the West Seventh neighborhood is only one problem – it has to cross the Mississippi eventually, which will be expensive.

I would like to tell you what I think is the ideal place for transit from Downtown St Paul to the airport and beyond, but it would be inappropriate. The process that we are moving through seems so deeply flawed that jumping to a “solution” is simply not what is needed. Whatever comes out of this is likely to be inadequate and jumbled.

Continue reading