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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Skiing the Digital Divide

You might be forgiven for thinking the World Economic Forum (WEF) is not something you’d be interested in. After all, the annual event better known as “Davos” for its posh ski resort location is not a gathering you were invited to. It’s strictly for the top economic leaders of the world, aka, “The 0.00001%”.

While it may seem reasonable that this is where the great conspiracies to defraud and enslave the masses are hatched, it isn’t. The agenda and discussion is much more like what you’d hear at a Bernie Sanders rally than you might expect. This year’s topic is “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” and there is far less concern about making it happen than the nasty side effects when it does go down – leaving behind billions of starving people and a ruined planet.

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The Democrats’ Year

With the election about to start winding its way through the nation in primaries and caucuses, can we start predicting who will win mathematically? The surprising answer is yes, we can take a stab at it – or at least lay down what to keep an eye on based on a few models. And the wonks of the nation are responding with perspectives and tools that allow us to do just that.

The short answer? The electoral map still heavily favors Democrats for a lot of reasons. But that doesn’t mean that things can’t change or that the nation will find a way to defy the models. No matter what, however, it doesn’t look good for Republicans based on the 2012 results, Obama’s popularity, and demographics that turn against them every election cycle.

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