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Changing the Subject


Fri, Oct 31st, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The holidays are coming. I can tell by the weather and the fully stocked shelves of canned pumpkin. Here we will be again, driving to an event with all those relatives that we love and carrying our lists of topics not to mention. You know, John and Mary's divorce and Ted and Joan's son in jail or that weird growth on Howard's forehead. Don't we all turn to our spouses on the drive, cranberries on our laps, and remind them, "Don't start in with them about the Vikings. There are all those Packers people among my cousins!"

So, I offer up a list of things that are impolite, potentially contentious and must be avoided.

• No mention of the American death toll in Iraq, now approaching 4,200 young soldiers. To find this outrageous to accept is to be accused of being unpatriotic and letting the terrorists win.

• Try not to discuss anything about the economy, even though it's bound to come up. It's safe territory, I suppose, to express amazement at how much seven hundred billion dollars is but best to go make coffee when the sparring about who is to blame begins. You don't want to fuel this fire with corollary economic issues, like wages that have stagnated while the wealthy empty the cash stores. It's a less popular position than just blaming immigrants. Kicking someone who is worse off is the easiest course.

• Energy policy, or lack thereof, might be okay if the drapes were pulled so all of our SUV's aren't gleaming from the driveway. Or, we can stop the conversation by saying, "yep, by golly we need to find alternatives." That is where our politicians stop the conversation because it's been the only response since the Iran crisis in the Jimmy Carter years. Until Big Oil figures out how to own the sun and wind, it seems the topic comes to a screeching halt beyond some vague hope that somebody has some idea. They do, actually, but the subject keeps changing.

• The topic of taxes is good if you want to commiserate with Reagan Republicans about how burdened we all are. We might remind ourselves that we wish to live in a civilized, educated culture. There are bills to be paid to support our American dream. The current Republicans seem to have nothing to say except "Lower taxes and grow the economy". Might we ask how that plan has worked so far? Better not- it's pretty obvious.

• Family Values is often code for distaste at the idea of gay people. Statistically though, if your family has more than a fe .....
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A Christian looks at politics and government

Fri, Oct 31st, 2008
Posted in Commentary

When I listen to and look at today's political campaigns, the first thing that stands out in my mind is the question: "Doesn't anyone know the Golden Rule'? That way of assessing one's own words and actions isn't even exclusively Christian. The tene ..... 
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The things you love about Minnesota are on the ballot

Fri, Oct 24th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

On November 4, Minnesotans will have a chance to invest in a better life for future generations by voting for a proposed constitutional amendment to fund Minnesota's water quality, wildlife, cultural heritage and natural areas.

The Clean Wa ..... 
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Violence and the media

Fri, Oct 24th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

There's much to be said about violence, not only in October - which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month - but all year long. When I was asked to write an article about violence and its affect on children, I thought that I would focus on violence in ..... 
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Don't fall into the Palin trap

Fri, Oct 17th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

My family recently returned to Minnesota, the home of our birth, after nearly 13 years of dairy farming outside of Wasilla, Alaska. The straw that broke the camel's back - our Alaska Governor Sarah Palin!

It's a long story how we got to Alas ..... 
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Why do people vote against their own self-interest?

Fri, Oct 17th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

In 2004, Thomas Frank published "What's the Matter with Kansas". It was an attempt to explain why Kansas, once a bastion of cultural liberalism has become a fortress of conservatism, both culturally and economically. Reading the book, one can't help ..... 
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So, you're a Maverick

Fri, Oct 10th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

As we know all too well, Senator McCain and Governor Palin like to characterize themselves as mavericks. And, as many of you know, the first definition of a maverick is a calf that has strayed from its' herd. In other words, some poor little creatur ..... 
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People need to take responsibility for their actions

Fri, Oct 3rd, 2008
Posted in Commentary

On my walk to the Post Office and back each day, I glance at the sidewalks, gutters, window sills, and planters along those three blocks. I pick up and discard cans, bottles, cigarette packs, and candy wrappers. Yesterday, I picked up three cans wit ..... 
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Embarrassed and unfortunate

Fri, Oct 3rd, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Embarrassed

Well, after the party comes the hangover. The Sarah Palin rise to political stardom - beauty queeen, hockey mom, bear shootin', corruption fighting governor - is grinding back to an ugly reality; as vice-president in waiting she's ..... 
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