Countering BS Arguments

The Republican Convention is over – but, of course, the arguments will continue. If you watched any of the speeches, especially the gloom ridden rant delivered by Donald Trump, you may be wondering about some of the horrifying statistics thrown around. Is America really in such peril, with such incredibly high unemployment and violence in the streets?

The short answer is no, not at all. We’re at a turning point, as we’ve shown many times. The long Depression which started about the year 2000 is coming to an end. We’re literally at the glass half full stage, for the optimists. It’s fairly easy to argue that it’s half empty if you’re a pessimist. But that’s not nearly good enough for those who want to spin out the gloom and/or doom.

You may run into some of these arguments in social media, a family gathering, or from the cranky guy at work who is really into talk radio. They are easy to refute if you have a few facts and figures under your belt. These are the most common and pressing arguments that everything is bad and/or worse under Obama and how they can be refuted.

Continue reading

Fly the Flag

For Independence Day, I can never do better than this old story I love to retell as often as I can.  Enjoy the holiday!

The misunderstandings and suspicions melted away, as they always do, after a few litres of liquid bread that the Germans call “Bier”. Harald was very honest in his German way, a kind of honesty that was spelled out in long, silent pauses as much as words. “With all of these different people and cultures, what is it that makes you Americans?”

I swallowed my beer to give me time, and the perfect answer came to me:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Continue reading

The Star Spangled Banner

Many Americans think that we play “The Star Spangled Banner” at the start of baseball games because it is our National Anthem. In reality, it is our National Anthem largely because it was played at the start of baseball games.

Continue reading

Big Ideas Fall Apart

The dust continues to settle after the Brexit earthquake. US markets stabilized today, but it appears to be a “dead cat bounce” or a technical upturn as short positions are covered. It comes from the saying that even a dead cat will bounce up one story after falling off a ten story building. It certainly feels like that kind of week, especially if you think about whatever dead animals might account for the ridiculous hair of Donald Trump and/or Boris Johnson.

Then again, it hasn’t been a week yet.

For all the comparisons between this vote and the Trump phenom, they still don’t do this situation justice. People all over the world are recoiling from opening up markets and generally moving closer together. The threat to the EU is far from done as “euroskeptics” on the continent will certainly be emboldened – as will globalskeptics around the world. What has gone wrong?

Continue reading

About this EU Thing …

I’m sitting here watching the BBC site as the results of the Brexit referendum pour in. It’s not looking good for the EU right now, and that has to give us all pause. The EU is absolutely essential, in some form, but the bureaucratic mess that has resulted isn’t necessarily helping anyone. The UK never went all in, keeping the Pound, so their view has always been a bit askance.

For far too many, it comes down to an interesting revelation. Did Germany actually “win” after all? Signs point to yes, they did. But how? What does this mean to other industrialized nations? Is there something we should all learn? Is Britain right for possibly wanting to go it alone?

Continue reading

Finding Good

If you have a healthy news diet, you can easily be forgiven for thinking everything is going to Hell. Then again, that doesn’t seem too healthy. Perhaps “No news is good news” has a resonance far beyond the original intent of the folk saying.

Is there good in the world? Of course there is. People are helping each other and just being decent all the time. Yet in a world always closer together it seems as though there is a shortage of good things everywhere.

The difference, I believe, is what lies just outside of human scale. The world comes to us through machinery – ripped of context, stripped of humanity. It’s up to all of us to provide some context with our own empathy and judgment. Seeing good in the world is indeed about unplugging our brains from the noise and reveling in a good time with friends, a quiet moment alone, or even an hour passed in a patch of clover.

Continue reading

Everything Counts

Life has become bizzy.  With summer budding green on every tree it’s time to reflect for a moment even when life makes that difficult.  Especially because life makes it difficult.  This piece is from nine years ago – back when Barataria was more like a normal blog of personal reflection.  Father Clay is now 90 years old and still going very strong.  West Seventh is still West Seventh.  Small miracles abound everywhere.

I had the pleasure of attending a banquet for the West Seventh Community Center honoring a man who is part of the glue that holds our community together, Father John Clay.

Continue reading