Cyprus

Genuine leadership doesn’t seek out headlines – in fact, it sometimes deliberately avoids them in order to get things done. The best example of this comes from a close contender for the Leader of the Free World now that the United States has largely abandoned the role in practical terms.

The leader in question is not Angela Merkel, although she is indeed the most important leader of a democracy today. This comes from the more junior Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, who has taken to solving the most important conflict left over from a by-gone era – Cyprus. Stepping into the British role as sometime creator of order she pushed a lot of heft behind the re-started talks which may, just yet, create a bridge between Europe and the Middle East.

The critical point is Turkey, as always, and the relative isolation this critical nation has been saddled with.

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Why We Write

Leading into the 10th Anniversary of Barataria in less than two months, I am re-running pieces from the first year.  Some of these pieces, like this one, are more personal and introspective.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why do we write? It’s a tough question. People put a lot of effort into blogs, but not too many of them are worth reading. Most of these will eventually cease to be amusing, stop being updated, and gradually dissolve as if there were never more than some kind of atmospheric turbulence. So why are they started in the first place?

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An Immediate Crisis

You realize we’re less than one month into this circus, yes?

After a press conference today the problem at hand should be obvious to absolutely everyone – the President has a severe mental illness. Nothing else matters at this point. There will be many sentences written, many hours of panel discussions, and hundreds of facebook posts shared going around this simple and obvious fact. But like the vast majority of our politics, it will be irrelevant.

The only thing which matters at this time is the peril faced by the United States, and indeed the world, because so much power is in the hands of someone obviously not well.

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Firm Hand

What happens in a Democratic-Republic when the most powerful person has an agenda which seems at odds with the legislative body?

We found out today when Janet Yellen, who is not at all orange, testified before the Senate Banking Committee for the first time since … well, really since all Hell broke loose. Financial issues have largely taken a back seat since the circus came to town and the opportunity to return to such a basic issue had the wonderful air or normality to it.

That didn’t stop anyone from trying to bring in the clowns, of course. But real leaders, like Yellen, know better than to take the bait. It was delightfully boring, as all banking should be. But it still had its moments.

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Dr. Carver

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.”

In February, it is customary to put up images of Dr. George Washington Carver in our schools as part of Black History Month. Most people see his earnest and humble stare coming from the cheerful posters and think, “Oh, the peanut guy.” But he was much more than that, perhaps even the greatest scientist who ever lived. Black or white.

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(re)New America

A few years ago, I found myself on Payne Avenue in St Paul after an absence of many years. It had changed, noticeably, and for the better. Shops were clean and bright, people filled the sidewalks, and traffic was impressively bad.

More interestingly, many of the signs on the newly refurbished shops were in Spanish and Hmong.

This process is hardly anything new in American history. A new generation of immigrants often arrives with little more than what they can carry but soon saves and scrapes enough to put a stake down. The first places they invest the rewards of restless work meeting boundless opportunity are neighborhoods like St Paul’s East Side. For those short on cash but long on vision Da Hood is not a problem but an opportunity.

This and many other examples show the real stakes in the immigration ban – the heart and soul of the relentless ability of our nation to renew itself.

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New Line of Thought

This piece is actually from an old blog I had in 1999.  This was before the current Depression, before the Millenium, and indeed before the word “blog” was commonly used.  This is part of a retrospective heading into the tenth anniversary of Barataria this April.  It is presented unchanged from 18 years ago.

Politics is often defined in America by an intense partisan struggle. The language used is one of division: red states versus blue, Fox versus NPR. Not only is most of this nonsense, it is actually dangerous.

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