Syria: The Next Phase

The war in Syria and Iraq continues. Our press continues to report it very badly, never providing any context whatsoever. How can anyone make sense of what’s going on or the likely conquest of Da’esh/ISIS which is in the works?

This is a brief update on the situation which is strangely not provided in any other outlet. Keep in mind, however, the essential truths about the ongoing battle with Da’esh:

  1. They pose no significant threat to the United States.
  2. In fact, the entire region is largely irrelevant to the US.
  3. The lack of relevance is not going to stop us from blundering remarkably close to a global conflict.

With all of this in mind, let’s look at the reality of this situation which is generally ignored.

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Walk & Talk

As the Tenth Anniversary of Barataria approaches, we will be featuring posts from long ago which contain themes which carry through to today.  Organizing in a changing world is probably the most critical concept all around.  The standard position of this blog is that everything good comes at a “strong half-step back” – far enough away to have some perspective but close enough to keep your hands dirty.  This is an example of that in practice from 2010.

Organizations that thrive in a changing world all have one thing in common – a strong strategic focus.  They know their objectives and strategy very well and communicate them effectively.  What is less obvious is that a good strategic plan comes from individual people.  It takes a lot of skill and a little planning to work it up into a real plan, but there is never any substitute for the old “walk and talk” – getting to know the clients, customers, employees, citizens, or any other way you want to define the people of an operation.

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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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