American Statesmen –

US-state-department

Before introducing this month’s articles, it is worthwhile for every American to reflect on some of the unsung heroes populating the halls of our government. Theirs is an unwavering path of significance.


In January of this year. I enrolled in an honors course examining International Relations. The class, through the City Colleges of Chicago, was uniquely chosen to participate in a State Department program called The Diplomacy Lab. Launched in 2013, this is a Public-Private Partnership that enables the State Department to “course-source” research and innovation related to foreign policy challenges by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty experts at colleges and universities across the United States.

Within the structure of Public/Private Partnerships, we examined social entrepreneurship, the State Department’s Global Partnership Initiative, USAID , and a variety of programs addressing issues around the globe: children’s rights and public works in India, land rights in Thailand, citizen sector and renewable energy in Brazil, public health in Nigeria, environmental concerns in Iceland, microfinance in Bangladesh, and nascent entrepreneurship throughout Central and South America.

My class interacted, one on one, with representatives from the State Department and other universities in the evaluation of selected social programs. It was the experience of a lifetime. Thank you, Professor Mayer.

A potent example of unified effort can be found in this TED Talk:

Myriam Sidibe – The simple power of handwashing

I find myself in awe of the career diplomats we met. If they had a partisan dogma, it was never evident. Theirs is a world of global perspective and a deep sense of responsibility for utilizing the vast resources of our country in an effort to address real-world problems. These are dedicated people that see possibilities through countless improbabilities, venerating the art of statesmanship. They function with little fanfare, remaining the quiet steady force of an America we seldom acknowledge. It was a humbling example of true patriotism.

I learned the community of nations operates most productively at the conference table. Civility, language, accountability, and the nature of practical debate are more formidable than any force of arms. The future belongs to this conviction.

Within the tsunami of reading required to survive this course, Professor Mayer included two exceptional books. For those interested in world affairs, I highly recommend:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It – Collier, Paul. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)

The Wilsonian Moment: Self-determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism – Manela, Erez. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)


I can’t overstate the superlatives when speaking about the exceptional, talented people contributing to this blog. Yet, once again, they exceed every expectation. Please welcome a new page to this humble effort, KIOSK. Quips, commentary, music, poetry, marginalia, all will find a path to the village square of Central Standard Time.

Brule Eagan reports from Los Fresnos, where everything is Texas-sized…including the future, in Land of the Giants.”

Steve Buschbacher never shies from the most difficult questions and his essay Liberal Media? gets to the point. Let’s talk reality.

John Zielinski proves unequivocally “All that we can control is the now” in his insightful essay It’s About Time.”

Tom DeMichael has few peers when it comes to the topic of baseball. Tom breaks down the current highs and lows of our Cubs and White Sox in Crosstown.”

Marc Piane is back with brain food. When Marc’s research includes Monty Python, his philosophical perspective Thinking Critically vs Being Critical is likely to include an Argument Clinic.

Our new page, KIOSK, will begin the urban affectation for violating “Post No Bills.” This month we are treated to some verse from Rebecca Francescatti and Linda Solotaire. So much more is coming for this part of our monthly presentation.

My 50th high school reunion is on the immediate horizon. It’s been months of reflection and wonderful memories. I hope my former class-mates will join me in The Reunion.”

Thank you for being here. Let’s take a break from the common and keep company with the uncommon. As always, fill your favorite mug with designer coffee and have a seat. Let us know your thoughts and wishes…this publication belongs to you.

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Looking East…

Cardinal

I recently took a regular Amtrak line, the Cardinal, to the great city of Philadelphia. A visit with my daughter and granddaughter proved to be all the joy I anticipated. The train traveled about twenty-six hours across the southern border of Ohio, into West Virginia, and on to the eastern megalopolis. As expected, the Smoky Mountains are a vision this time of year. Nature throws a blanket of vegetation over the rolling terrain in what must surely rival any great rain forest of the tropics. Our country has many beautiful vistas.

As American cities go, Philadelphia is one of the elder statesmen. Established in 1682, Philadelphia played a pivotal role in the formation of a nation that revolutionized government in the modern world. In this place, the finest minds of an age met in conference and debate to plan for our future. For as much verbiage given to the considerations of the “common” man, this was no ordinary gathering. Among the participants to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were future presidents, ministers, ambassadors, and cabinet administrators. This was the best and brightest the colonies had to offer. We should do as well for representation in contemporary times.

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Independence Hall

I discovered Philadelphia is also one of the great “Food Towns” on the continent. Oh man! The classic cheese-steak sandwich and hoagies of doom; a fine colony of Italian restaurants; seafood befitting a culture in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean; and home-made beer seems to be a “thing.” To my pleasant surprise, the Amish know a good meal, and their pastries are to die for…trust me.

I also saw stark contrasts in the culture of America. Coming from the urban sprawl of Chicago, the physical “rust” of Appalachia was very evident. Not crumbling, as some alarmists would have us believe, but more like aging and un-renewed. Along rail sidings appear miles of coal tenders and bunkers of ore waiting to be loaded. A glow of pastel orange emerges from the darkness and then a processing plant would come in to view. Enormous spherical tanks and pipes in a tangle of unknown purpose covering acres of land. In the distance were cracking towers venting licks of blue flame. It occurs to me that this is capital investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The human component is only part of the equation.

The motif of Mamet’s “The Water Engine” takes form in reality. Should science discover the grail of inexpensive, renewable, non-polluting energy tomorrow, there will be an inestimable physical, economic, and cultural impact. Can we abandon entire segments of the existing labor pool, let alone this infrastructure? In the name of progress, can we deny anyone a chance at survival in the modern world? Finding the “science” is only the tip of an iceberg we must surely face. Once more, we need the best and brightest minds to formulate a future in our best interests.

Indeed, the train was a welcomed break from the superhighway of regulated concrete. It was a time for reflection, extrapolation, and a quiet scotch as the sun went down. Highly recommended.

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July marks a return to publishing on the first of every month. This is far more considerate to the wonderful writers and artists that contribute to this blog, as well as you, the readers. On this sultry summer morning we offer two essays from mid-June that were not given their requisite fanfare.

Steve Buschbacher offers a double-dip of commentary with “Innocents Abroad?” and “Mascot-eers“…which conveniently segues to this month’s sports features. Baseball savant, Tom DeMichael, talks about the legendary Jimmy Piersall in “There Was No One Like Jimmy” and my cousin Nick Goehrke and I commence a running bucket of opinions on the state of the Chicago Blackhawks in “Hockey, Hockey, Hockey,” this is only the beginning (yes, that’s a threat). Hey, nepotism works!

Welcome, my friends, to the July issue of Central Standard Time. Grab your coffee.