Jul 22

Wackos with Guns

The pictures and stories coming from Donetsk, Ukraine, are horrifying. Bodies flung from Malaysia Air flight 17 have been lying in the fields right where they fell from the sky, rotting in the summer sun for days. Wreckage is everywhere, some of it disturbed in what appears to be looting as much as recovery. How can this happen?

The short answer is that the area is not under the control of any…

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Jul 20

James Garner

The 1970s were a tough decade on everyone. Everything was changing rapidly as a new generation came of age in the wake of social and political turmoil. Television had given us characters like Archie Bunker so that we could laugh at how ridiculous it was to hold onto the gone away glory days, but laughing wasn’t enough. To a young kid soon to make his way into this new world pop culture needed to…

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Jul 17

Too Clever by a Lot

Too Clever by a Lot

“Blowback”. It’s a word we’ve accepted in the US through the many misadventures of proxy wars that came back to bite us. Mujahideen “Freedom Fighters” eventually became Taliban and al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein went from being a trusted bulwark against Iran to a dangerous dictator. Iran itself went from being our puppet to a dangerous force supporting an awful lot of mayhem.

Today Malaysia Air Flight…

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Jul 15

One State Solution

A group of mourners arrived to express their condolences and support for the familyof Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was killed in revenge for the death of three Israeli teens. But they were not family or even friends – they weren’t necessarily welcome. They were Israelis reaching out to perform their own “Tikkun Olam”, or fixing the world. When asked if it was hard, one says “Maybe,” she says. But,…

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Jul 13

It’s in the, um, Timing

It’s in the, um, Timing

Traditionally, actors with an established rep as serious performers can go into comedy, but not the other way ‘round.  That’s been smashed lately by The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert, among many others who riff off of CNN and let the jokes write themselves.  It’s revolutionary comedy, yet deeply indebted to the topical humor of Richard Pryor and George Carlin in the 70s.

What’s more important…

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Jul 10

Too Many Dollars, Too Few Dollars

Too Many Dollars, Too Few Dollars

What is the real rate of inflation? The official Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated with a basket of goodsthat are supposed to reflect the economy as a whole. There are over 200 categories of consumer goods that make their way into the CPI, including health care, airline travel, clothes, education, and so on. The price of this basket of goods is checked from one month to the next and it’s…

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Jul 8

Yellen’s Dashboard

Yellen’s Dashboard

How will we know when the economy is turning the corner towards real growth? Everyone has their own answer, but Fed Chair Janet Yellen told us last March what she has on  her “dashboard”. As the most powerful person in the financial world, and probably the whole world, her opinion counts more than most. With the arrival of another piece of data on where we stand right now in the second quarter of…

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Jul 6

Suspending Disbelief

Everyone has the experience at some time.  You’ve read a book or seen a movie that you absolutely loved, and you want to tell the world about your new obsession.  You might even know someone that you’d love to share this new world with.  So you start telling them about the intricate details of the plot and characters and after rambling on and on … and then you see their eyes slowly glaze over.…

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Jul 3

To Fly the Flag

To 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…

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Jul 1

The Long Reach of Personhood

The Long Reach of Personhood

Normally, Barataria takes up a hot news story after the mainstream press has released its authoritative take on the subject and social media has frothed over it for a while. Not the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision. I have to admit, I’m confused by this decision because it seems to be incredibly vast in its potential scope, a position echoed by Justice Ginsburg in her dissent. That dissent even…

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Jun 30

Women in Power

This is a repeat from four years ago, but it also makes a great lead-in to something I have been thinking about a lot lately. A time of great change means that we have to cast off the old and give birth to the new – we need reform. How do we achieve that? History has shown us a remarkable way – bringing women to power. Is it because women are the consummate outsiders in a male world? Is it…

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Jun 26


This was supposed to be the year that the economy turned the corner, building on the foundation laid in 2013. It isn’t happening. The final revision to first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth came in at a stunning -2.9%. Is it time to panic?

Nearly everyone agrees that it’s a statistical aberration, so the answer appears to be no. But we’re certainly not enjoying the economic growth…

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Jun 24


As the crisis in Iraq worsens nearly daily, a quiet calm seems to have come over US politics. Republicans want to blame Obama for this, but know that they can’t. More to the point, there doesn’t seem to be anything proactive we can do, at least not anything different from what we tried twice before. There is simply far too much blame to go around for it to land squarely on anyone here in the US.

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Jun 22

The Great War

One hundred years ago this June 28th the heirs to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, were gunned down on a Sarajevo street. The bullets fired by Serb nationalist Gavril Princip rippled throughout Europe and within four and a half years four empires and the entire order or Europe were ripped apart.

But even more than that fell on that day a century ago. The order of the…

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Jun 19

Confidence In …. ?

Confidence In …. ?

How much faith do you have in the institutions that make up our world? According to a recent poll, people don’t have a tremendous amount of confidence in most of the somewhat organized systems that make up daily life in the US. That dissatisfaction is disturbing if you think about it, but it’s also perfectly natural.

The Baratarialine of reasoning is that we are in an economic depression that…

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