Building faith in free people

As 2016 rolled to a close, the musician George Michael died — one of many celebrity deaths that turned social media into a sea of crocodile tears. I wasn’t particularly connected to Michael or his music, but I grew up in the generation that watched his butt wiggle on TV as he sang “gotta’ have… Read More →

Oracle of Sax-Zim Bog warns of 2017 dangers

The beaver wears a pinstriped suit. That’s how I know things have changed in the swamp. This year’s visit to the Oracle of the Sax-Zim Bog will be unlike any before. Until now, my New Year’s journey to the Oracle had wound through the frozen marsh like the familiar bends of Stony Creek. The Oracle’s… Read More →

On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas

Hail, hail Christmas morning! The family gathers around the tree to behold the fruits of Santa Claus’s labor. The stockings spew forth troves of sugar and plenty. The spirit of giving crescendos as we exchange gifts selected with care, or that were perhaps on sale. RIP RIP WOW RIP RIP AHHHH RIP RIP THANK YOU!… Read More →

Evergreen with envy

Even in the distant North Woods of Minnesota you can’t avoid our long cultural obsession with “the holidays.” By now, those of you who celebrate have likely put up your Christmas trees. The Noel tradition of decorating an evergreen tree inside the home dates backs centuries, even before Christianity itself. To discuss this tradition, today… Read More →

Trusting the wolves, hastening our fate

May 25, 2000: The morning after LTV Steel announced it would close its Hoyt Lakes taconite plant, miners lined up outside the Workforce Center in Virginia, Minnesota. Each wanted to be first to submit a job application to another mine on the Mesabi Iron Range, none of which were hiring. Though employed to monitor youth… Read More →

The nation’s rural reckoning of 2016

When the founders crafted our Constitution more than two centuries ago, they enshrined the rural agrarian roots of the United States. Country gentlemen trusted city folk about as much then as they do now, and for largely the same reason: power. For who would rule this nation? The farmers and loggers of the country, or… Read More →

Flawed Obamacare bridge to better system

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, supporters celebrated the first major victory in a century of fruitless struggle to create a universal health care system in the United States of America. For liberals, the ACA was a triumph over what had seemed an impossible political barrier. To conservatives, “Obamacare” represented a… Read More →

How to be right for the holidays

Across America divided politics rule our lives like no time in recent memory. We comb social media and cable news for evidence supporting our cause. Strong opinions stake out the limits of friendships and family ties. With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, gathering loved ones may share views you find abhorrent. But don’t worry. You’re right… Read More →

How to unite a divided Iron Range

For the first time since Herbert Hoover in 1928, a Republican presidential candidate won the Iron Range city of Hibbing. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by seven votes in a town that typically boasts a 30-point advantage for Democrats. In 2004, before targeted campaigns were in vogue, Democrats urged a citywide Election Day door knock… Read More →

In America today, who speaks for the many?

Human history traces one simple question, “Who speaks for the many?”

 Centuries show examples of brute leaders, disjointed committees and fragile democracies. Populist gadflies become heroes or villains. Hungry people rise to greatness, then fade into the mist. On the Mesabi Iron Range, the smart and powerful bought the land, but the workers paid the… Read More →