Brutal Cold

When in doubt, you can always talk about the weather in polite Minnesota conversation. Days like today, when we are expected to have yet another big winter storm and the potential for Olympic Ice Dancing on the roads, it’s a topic you can count on.  It’s not controversial but it provides a nearly endless supply of entertainment much like driving a flaming bus through a wall of televisions, at least in the sense that it’s likely to be lethal.

Many of us learn to be fascinated by the weather in ways that seek awkward and geeky to people in other parts of the nation. That’s a shame because a hard study of weather is a form of meditation that can clear your mind like no other form.  Plus, it’s on teevee.  Here in the middle of a vast continent we are at the mercy of whatever blows our way.  It’s something that everyone can talk about – even if no one does anything about it.

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Bread & Circuses

As the decline of Trump enters the final phase, this post from a year ago – before it all started – works even better than it did then.

Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things – bread and circuses!

– Juvenal, Satire X, “Wrong Desire is the Source of Suffering”

The “Fall of Rome” trope has always been an easy one to dismiss. After all, we’re stronger and more connected than they ever were, yes? The public is more literate, our history is stronger, and times are simply different than they were back so very long ago.

Aren’t they?

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Evangelicals Are Not Christians

Evangelical Christianity has been a significant force in American politics for nearly 40 years. It dominates the Republican Party and through that much of the debate on public morality. This is a strange development for many reasons, however.

Given that about 25% of all Americans identify as evangelical protestants, they are far from a majority. They owe their influence to a rigid deference to leadership and a high degree of stubborn political action. For all of this power beyond their numbers, however, the biggest mystery is where their agenda comes from.

It’s certainly not the Christian Bible. Very little of the evangelical agenda is justified by the good book, and some is even directly opposed to the words of Jesus. It’s long past time to call out the beliefs of this group and question their agenda because it is, if anything, not generally backed by consistent Christian writings or tradition.

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No One is Indispensable

“Politics is not about power and money games, politics is about the improvement of people’s lives”
– Sen Paul Wellstone (D-MN), paraphrasing Eleanor Roosevelt

Sen Al Franken (D-MN) resigned today from the seat once held by Paul Wellstone. It came after many of his colleagues in the Senate expressed a lack of confidence in him from numerous allegations of inappropriate touching of women.

It is a sad day in Minnesota, but we move on. There are many lessons here, but what’s most important is that in a truly open system based on service to the people of the nation no one is indispensable. We are shaping the Democratic Party to be one which stands for principles first.

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No Time for Laughs

What is Trump’s plan to get the United States out of trillions in debt?
Up it to quadrillions of dollars, then declare bankruptcy. He’s a successful businessman.

All kidding aside, it was one Hell of a week. We found out that Mike Flynn did indeed “flip” to give evidence against Trump, although we have yet to learn exactly what he knows. And the Senate rushed through a tax bill scribbled in crayon at the last minute because they were not up against any deadline at all. Or is it because they see the end coming and know they needed to shove something through?

It’s not a time for a bunch of lame jokes, not at all. It’s a time for much better jokes than I have.

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Be Not Afraid

“Be not afraid.”
Saint John Paul II

It may be the start of the joyous holiday season, but it’s time realize a reckoning is upon us. Things are likely to get a whole lot worse.

It’s not about various predators being pushed into the light of day, although that can be unnerving as well. Politics is getting uglier and less predictable, especially with the increasingly crazy president. His eventual removal will bring a sense of relief, but the process is also going to increase tension and possibly even violence.

We are entering a time when we have to manage fear. The only way to manage it is to reject it.

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Taxing Times

If you believe that tax cuts create jobs and growth, you’re not alone. Almost, but not quite. Even those who would benefit the most from the proposed tax bill aren’t willing to go that far.

This puts the Republicans in the Senate in a terrible bind. They can pass the tax bill which came over from the House, potentially angering their constituents, or they can stop it, angering their donors. They also have the choice between raising the deficit or having a record of getting just about nothing accomplished.

How bad is it for Republicans, already worried about 2018? It’s so bad it’s worse than the Tax Bill itself.

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