The Big Rally

For the primary season, it’s all over but the shouting, to use a cliche. But this one works because this is a good time to evaluate what happened – and most of that analysis will be based on policies and platforms. There will be shouting, because that’s pretty much how people discuss politics.

One key feature this year has been the insurgent outsider candidate. Call him Sanders or Trump, one thing was the same – outsiders rallying people to a movement, a cause, a rebellion. A tactical key to this has been the rally itself – a large venue filled with cheering supporters whipping each other up into a frenzy for the cause. Every campaign has them, but Sanders’ effort came to be defined by them.

Is the mega-rally a new feature of what will define a campaign, particularly an insurgent one? Is it a good idea? How does it work? Why did this become a feature? These are all questions worth considering as we look at how the Bern became a blaze.

Continue reading

Boundaries

If you want to learn everything about someone, just become friends with them on facebook. The details often go beyond their birthday, city of birth, and even mother’s maiden name – things you would need to pull of an identity theft. You may know when they are out of town, their religious and political beliefs, and far more.

Not long ago many people would sit down at a meal and pause for a moment to give thanks, perhaps making the sign of the cross with their hands. Today those hands might raise their phone, posting a picture on facebook. Yes, you’ll even know what someone had for breakfast if you are their “friend”.

We live in a world without boundaries. And that may be the one true thing that has gone horribly wrong amid a sea of mistakes we are making as we navigate a stormy, changing world.

Continue reading

Prince

“I’ve tried to avoid all this, but I can’t”
“I just gotta know, are we gonna try to love each other?”
Batdance (1989) (from the “Batman” soundtrack)

The outpouring of love for Prince over the last few days has been deep, wide, and intense. It was more than his music that people loved – it was his purple self that resonated all over the world. Sexually androgenous as well as culturally androgenous, he redefined the boundaries between id and culture to create a new identity that was uniquely his own.

His otherworldly presence also provide an example for a new approach to life that may yet help us all navigate a changing world. Like Prince, we can make it all in our own image, born in love and creativity, together.

Continue reading

Still Not Over

Is is really over?

New York produced two big winners, Clinton and Trump. They may be the overall winners as a result. While they both appear unstoppable there is still more to come as the primary season winds down. And the betting money is still on a contested Republican convention so the best may be yet to come.

Continue reading

Spatters of Dragon Blood

The “Panama Papers” were a delight for conspiracy theorists, who have long contended that the global monetary system is fundamentally corrupt and that world leaders are skimming huge amounts of money off the top of it. They are, of course, correct.

But lost in the salacious details of the story has been the real business of Mossack Fonseca, which is moving money out of China. We’ve covered this story before when the official estimates were that half a trillion left China last year alone. That number, it turns out, was off by at least as much again – and possibly much more.

At least a trillion dollars left China last year through a wide variety of creative means. Mossack Fonseca’s offices in Hong Kong handle a third of their total business, moving money around the globe through over 60k shell companies at an incredible pace. How much? That’s the multi-trillion dollar question.

Continue reading

A Durable City

The noise of construction and the vision of cranes on the horizon has become a feature of urban life in Minneapolis and St Paul lately, at least in some neighborhoods. The construction industry is booming, and the structures of choice are large apartment buildings. The demand appears insatiable – and no one is building condominiums. It’s all apartments, reaching to the sky in large complexes of 100 units and more.

My own neighborhood, West Seventh, is one of the hot-spots for this development craze. But are these units a good idea? Is this what the city needs? Or are we simply building the slums of tomorrow, today?

Continue reading

Japan – Down the Rabbit Hole

For all we complain about low growth and dimming prospects here in the US, it’s a problem that has plagued the developed world. If anything, we’re doing quite well, thank you. Europe is still struggling to get out of the depression, with high unemployment – especially among their youth. China and other developing nations appear to have hit a wall, unable to round the corner and step up to developed nation status.

And then, there is Japan. “Basket Case” doesn’t begin to describe it.

We last checked in with them over three years ago when Shinzo Abe became Prime Minister and instituted what has been called “Abenomics”. Call it “Supply Side” if you want, as it emphasized growth in the money supply and a cheap Yen to stimulate growth in production. Call it “A license to print money by the Bank of Japan (BOJ)” if you’re a cynic.

But the problems in Japan are much more severe – they are demographic and social. Without a wholesale restructuring they are as doomed now as they have been for an entire generation. There’s a lesson here for everyone.

Continue reading