WEST FAIRLEE, Vt. - I was charged with picking up the Thanksgiving turkey from a farm not far from my daughter's rural home in the hills east of Chelsea, Vt. She had made arrangements for a 20-pound, free-range, organic bird as part of her commitment to support local farmers. Fair enough, I thought, even if, as she warned, the turkey might cost "a little more" than the frozen versions on sale in area supermarkets. A little more, she said.
If Donald Trump yanks the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, North Dakota, where Trump is irrationally popular, will be among the losers. Every responsible economist and trade analyst has come to the same conclusion. That includes statements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, major farm organizations, and the National Association of Manufacturers. How is it that the president, who has no use for losers, would force North Dakota into the loser column? North Dakota! Where he is loved. Don't ask.
The experts who study aging say change is more difficult for older people, that change seems to accelerate as one ages, that resistance to change is a normal condition of growing old.
CHELSEA, Vt. — Vermont is Bernie Sanders country, but not all Vermonters are Bernie Sanders fans. The state is preposterously tilted Democrat (as preposterous as North Dakota lists Republican), but there still remains in the political culture an active remnant of Vermont’s conservative past. After all, this is the state of Republican icon, the late Sen. George Aiken. Only a few generations separate today’s bluest-of-blue Vermont from a long history of deepest red conservatism.
FARGO -- The routine whine from the most strident foes of President Barack Obama is that he is the most divisive president in history, that he is the “great divider.” I don’t think so. The president’s antagonists are as responsible, or more responsible, for the nation’s divisions than the president. Their strategy to undermine the president, no matter what the cost to the nation, is there for honest eyes to see.
FARGO — I’ve been reporting and commenting on North Dakota politics for more than 40 years. Trends have come and gone, but the most recent iteration of political strategy is the way potential candidates announce they are going to run, or not run. It’s become a silly game that is not-so-cleverly designed to manipulate media and stir interest among the political classes. Manipulate media? Oh, yes. Happens every day.
FARGO -- It’s a myth that America has always welcomed immigrants with open arms and big hearts. As the lunatics were taking over the debate about the U.S. responsibility toward Syrian refugees, I was reminded of my own family’s Ellis Island history. If there was a welcome mat out in the late 1890s when my grandparents-to-be got off the boat, it had more to do with securing cheap labor than with goodwill.
MEDORA — November flattens the hues of the North Dakota Badlands. Dry breezes and early season frosts bleach the color out of summer’s grasses, tall sagebrush and rock-clinging cactus. The low slant of fall sunlight mutes the red, yellow and black of scoria, clay and coal vein layers of wind- and water-sculpted buttes.
FARGO Donald Trump is not a likable fellow. Even his biggest fans concede as much. But the Trump phenomenon is not about being liked. It’s about being heard. It’s about The Donald saying whatever the hell he feels like saying, offensive as some of his bloviating certainly is. It’s about his huge campaign crowds shouting, “Right on!” It’s pretty simple, and that’s a key element in his appeal. It’s not political posturing. It’s not class warfare. It’s not conservative or liberal.
FARGO -- When the latest Pew Research Center study on religion in America made headlines in May, I was reminded of an experience in a rural New England church on Easter Sunday 2014. Among the findings in “America’s Changing Religious Landscape” was that New England was the least-churched region of the nation. Having been raised in a Connecticut industrial city, I was surprised. When I was young, religious life — that is going to church and being involved with church-based activities — was a given.