Minnesota vs. Donald Trump: Our shaky relationship with POTUS

Minnesota vs. Donald Trump: Our shaky relationship with POTUS

After Minnesota put Trump in third place on Super Tuesday, it was clear that the relationship between our fair state and the future president wasn’t going to be defined by sunshine and roses. Then Trump, on one of his final campaign stops, criticized our East African community. He made unverifiable claims about Minnesota’s immigrant population from an airport hangar at MSP. He barely set foot in the state, and he certainly didn’t stop to eat at Fasika (which should be enough to change anyone’s mind on the issue). We Minnesotans were none too pleased. Now that Trump is officially President of the United States, it’s clear that things aren’t going to get any better. Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges has defied Trump’s authoritarian order on sanctuary cities, as was reported by MPR 1/25/17. Minneapolis won’t drop its policy that blocks police from reporting immigration violations. And then from St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman across the river, “Not only has our current police chief, but police chiefs past, and police chiefs across the country have made it very clear that they need to be able to build trusting relationships in immigrant communities,” he said. “We have the ability to make those determinations on a local level.” And why do we use the word “authoritarian?” Certainly not to be biased; not to join the ranks of media dismissed by Trump, and certainly not to use something the current administration likes to call “alternative facts.” It comes from another article, written by longtime Minnesota Public Radio correspondent Frank Langfitt, about the anti-information tactics of Donald Trump and co. The “Counselor to the President of the United...
On the train: Past to present to future

On the train: Past to present to future

When the Stourbridge Lion steam locomotive rolled down train tracks for the first time, it was moving very quickly toward the future. It signified a new era for the United States. And by the time the golden spike took one last whack at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory in 1869 to connect sea to shining sea in America for the first time in history, the train had already contributed to rapid growth and a blooming domestic economy. But the train shouldn’t be lost to history. Quite the opposite, actually, as we have seen in countries around the world. The train is a clean, dignified way to travel, and rail travel only continues to improve. Well, in most countries, anyway. The train is still chugging toward the future. It’s the United States, it seems, that is falling behind.   On the train For trains to gain popularity, we have to understand the role has played, and continues to play, in the lives of people; how much better it is to travel by train than to drive, or to fly. The train has of course been romanticized in literature and film for years. The meeting of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke while passing through Austria in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. The poetry of Philip Larkin’s Like The Trains Beat. The dreams of American ancestors leaning their heads against the glass as scenery rolls past, untouched, beautiful.   Scenery shoots past the windows. We wobble ever so slightly through the gangways as the train rocks side to side. The dining car smells of sandwiches and hot coffee steaming from behind newspapers. Another train passes outside, so close you can see the...
Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Technocracy is a system of government where leadership is comprised of technical experts; experts in specific fields who also have bureaucratic experience, as opposed to elected officials and appointed politicians. The United States looked fairly technocratic when it was first founded: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for example, were both renowned inventors, and much emphasis was placed on intellect. But the U.S. has strayed far from the merits of technocracy. Officials without background in the agencies they are running, or without expertise in any field for that matter, is an issue that must be addressed if we are to make our government more effective. Out of 535 members of Congress, only six are engineers and one is a physicist; there is actually a higher number of musicians, accountants, and former entertainers among the ranks. Even of President Obama’s 23 cabinet members, only the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had engineering or natural science backgrounds. Most of the rest were lawyers.   Understanding technocracy The idea is that the experts run the show – those with experience in the fields over which they’re making decisions. This removes political agendas from the equation, and it removes (however controversially) the need for anything other than proof and fact when making decisions about the future of our country. It means the bible no longer plays a role in reproductive rights, for example. At it’s core, though, it’s simply a respect for knowledge and skill. An understanding that technocracy is about the people who have dedicated their lives to a certain subject, and are therefore most qualified to make decisions...
Thank you, mom

Thank you, mom

The first thing I knew about my mom was that she loved the countryside; fields of grass and flowers in the summer and white snow in the winter. The second thing I learned about my mom was that her patience was as long as the Mississippi River, was as wide as the Grand Canyon, was as deep as the Pacific Ocean. But when it was gone it was gone and not coming back. Thank you for loving me when I know it was difficult so do so. I got sick a lot. I would stay home from school. Physically sick, or just sick of all the finger-pointing, teasing classmates that took so much time out of their day to make other kids miserable. Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick, even (or especially) the times I didn’t have a fever. And thank you for taking care of me, but also for not taking care of me when it was time to stand on my own two feet. You knew as well as I should have that you weren’t always going to be there to pick me up, so thank you for giving me two feet to stand on and carry me when you couldn’t. What I never learned about my mom was what she gave up to have me. To make me. To create me practically out of thin air, like magic, like nothing. I never learned that she dropped out of college to give me a life. That she quit her degree in biology to create mine. That I became her life in a...
An old man’s story

An old man’s story

I’ve discovered both how long and how short my story is. I know how much can happen in a moment, but also that, in the end, all moments will drown in the waves of time. I know how you can miss a whole forest by just looking at the trees. I must deal with my importance, and my insignificance, and try to find a balance between the two. I get lost somewhere in the middle, knowing that what I do and what I say and what I feel is eternal, and meaningless. An old man’s story I still remember how her skin felt beneath my fingers. Because I am old now I have had a chance to look back and understand things I never understood before. I can appreciate these moments, keep them from slipping away from me. I have no regrets. My only sadness is that both my wife and my son are gone before me. My wife was a good woman, and she went in her sleep. When I remember her, I remember her young. I remember her smiling, soft to touch and light to laugh. The way I married her. The way we were to each other inside, and out. My son’s death was less so. He was a pilot for a cargo company. He flew all around the world. On a return trip from South Africa one night near Christmas he ran out of fuel about fifty miles east of Nova Scotia. He was forced to land his plan in the freeze of the Atlantic Ocean. He jumped into the water without his suit on....