Sunday, May 31, 2009

Russians buying a car company

Putin and Schroeder share an awkward hug

The German government announced yesterday that it had picked a partnership led by Magna International Inc., a Canadian auto-parts supplier, Russia’s biggest bank, OAO Sberbank, and Russian carmaker OAO GAZ as the buyer for Opel, the European division of GM. This augurs ever closer ties between Russia and Germany, which in turns stokes the fears of every Eastern European living between the two states.

The last premier of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, was hired by Russian state gas export monopoly, Gazprom OAO, months after he left office in 2005 to spearhead the construction of the Nord Stream pipeline that will provide Russian gas to Germany (while circumventing Eastern Europe).

As the Polish opposition noted in a comment to Bloomberg news services, “Nothing’s ever purely economic with the Russians, there’s always political interest involved.” No doubt.

The Clarion Content finds the arguments in favor of Russian ownership specious. Firstly, there is no indication that the rule of law as yet reigns supreme in Russia. Nothing exists that would stop the Russian state from outright confiscation of the company and/or its assets. Secondly, as the Poles know well, Russia always has ulterior power projection motives in mind, take a look at their natural gas blackmail of the Ukraine! Which incidentally still simmers and could explode at any time, likely taking down the democratically elected government of the Ukraine with it. The Germans, always suckers for authoritarianism, probably secretly sympathize with the style and manner of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The laughable suggestion made by a German professor in the Bloomberg article that Russia is poised to become Europe's biggest car market ignores the reality of Russia's plummeting population decline and massive income inequality.

Fact is, if this is a legal acquisition, it is hard to oppose as a libertarian. The Clarion Content decried the ludicrous Senate maneuvering that blocked the Chinese state owned oil monopoly's purchase of Conoco, same for the jingoistic blocking of the sale of American ports to the state of Dubai. We do not actually oppose the Russians purchase of G.M.'s Opel. We just want to sound the horn of caution about what it says for erstwhile United States ally, Germany.

Friday, May 29, 2009


The Chattahoochee National Forest

This was one of the changes the Clarion Content had in mind when we endorsed Barack Obama for President last fall. The Obama administration announced yesterday that no new timber-cutting or road project could begin in road-less areas of national forests without the permission of the secretary of agriculture. Hooray!

This is a major reversal of the environment gutting policies of King George the II. The directive applies to almost 58.5 million acres of road-less areas.

However, the 9th and 10th Circuit Appeals courts have issued contradictory rulings on the policy and the issue could eventually end up in front of the Supreme Court, possibly as a states rights issue. Somehow, according to the New York Times, national forests in Idaho are exempt from yesterday's announcement. The Agriculture Department called it an interim measure meant to bring “consistency and clarity” to decisions on an ecological issue that has been subject to legal battles since the Clinton administration banned such projects in road-less areas in 2001.

Read more here in the New York Times.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Loose Nukes

Whether it was strictly a photo-op or something actually came of last month's meeting between President Obama and two former Secretaries of State, Republicans George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Democratic senator and defense wonk Sam Nunn, and William Perry, a former Secretary of Defense about the issue of the control and security of the world's existing supply of nuclear weapons, it was a Presidential bully pulpit moment and we were glad to see it happen. Even if all Obama is able to accomplish this early in his presidency is raising the volume on the subject, we are glad to see he is at least doing that. The Clarion Content believes loose nuclear weapons are probably the single greatest short-term threat to humanity.

Securing these existing nuclear weapons as tightly as possible is an extremely high priority, revitalizing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is a far more specious and far less worthy goal.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

David Feherty on the divide

Who gets it first?

It is easy to forget in these days of Obama-mania that ex-dictator George Bush II still has many ardent supporters. Golf analyst David Feherty writing for D Magazine provided a sharp reminder. Feherty, an Irishman by birth, has been living in the Dallas area for twelve years. He has been a big supporter of American troops, visiting Iraq to entertain as well as, working with the "Troops First Foundation," which is raising $15 million for soldiers who return wounded, many of them without limbs. He created his own division -- "F Troop" -- and last year took eight soldiers to South Dakota for pheasant hunting.

The 43rd and worst president ever is moving to the Dallas area. Feherty was writing for D Magazine about the return of the bumbler. King George the II received 62 million votes in 2004. In 2008 more than 61 million people voted for a candidate other than Barack Obama. Many of those folks were vitriolically opposed to Obama or any Democratic candidate. Feherty offered a semi-kidding commentary about how, in his view, most American troops feel about Democratic politicians today,
"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this though. Despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

The Clarion Content is quite cognizant that America is still a 50-50 country, starkly divided on many issues, despite the papering over supported by many in the mainstream media. The Clarion Content reads comments like Feherty's and fears the huge backlash that is likely coming if President Obama isn't a massive, and all but immediate, success.

Read more here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Head honcho's of Hype

The WHO has a dangerously bad habit

The head honcho of hype at the World Health Organization (WHO) has hardly been humbled by its highly inflated claims of pandemic surrounding the swine flu. Despite being forced to admit worldwide there were only 950 cases! And 25 fatalities! Talk about much ado about nothing.

Have these people ever heard of Aesop's The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Heck the name of their organization is right in the title, one might think they at least must have stumbled on to it Google searching at some point.

Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the 193-nation World Health Organization, told the Financial Times that, given the potential scale of the possible threat, the World Health Organization did not overreact to the swine flu threat.

The Clarion Content's response, "Ha!" Ask Mexico about the devastating effect on their economy in a time of massive slowdown already. The WHO which has a long history of overclaim did it again. It is an innate downside risk of establishing this sort of singularly mission focused organization, they feel compelled to make these kind of claims of significance to justify their budget. The United Nations feeding trough is home to many piggish, bloated, pseudo-governmental entities whose budgets are rife with waste and corruption.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Problem Saturation

Swine flew indeed.

You may have wondered why the Clarion Content hasn't spent any time covering the swine flu. This contributor to Urban Dictionary is on point. We could not have said it any better ourselves. We do not want to contribute to the unnecessary, overboard, needlessly sensationalist coverage of the issue.

Too bad Veep Joe Biden can't say the same
. What, nobody told him we already have a happy national consensus that Dan Quayle was the dumbest Vice President ever? He has got to try to move in on that role? Avoid closed spaces, Joe? Thanks, brilliant. Obama needs to ship him on a three month tour of the back country of New Zealand or somewhere equally out of the way.

Governments all over the world are reacting with a bludgeon to a problem that requires a scalpel. Hong Kong has quarantined a hotel full of people based on the probable case of one Mexican tourist. Egypt is attempting to kill all the pigs in the country (not coincidental primarily owned by a discriminated against minority, Coptic Christians.) This despite not having a single confirmed case of the so-called swine flu.

The hue and cry of the media
is outrageous. The Clarion Content is coming to believe that their distortions and complicity in government and other power brokers behavior is almost as big a systemic problem as any. Michael Moore has been on this theme for a while, underlining in Bowling for Columbine the climate created and maintained by the media that serves America so poorly. In this case, the media by blowing the story way out of proportion is pressuring governments into unwarranted action. This kind of government action and overreaction fills our little 'c' conservative bellies here at the Clarion Content's offices with dread.

As for the swine flu, all we can say is here we go again.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The more things change

The more they stay the same, or so the old expression goes. Our northern most New Jersey reader related a sad story that underlined there is still a kernel of this old saw holding true even under the Obama administration.

According to the website, "An Air France flight from Paris to Mexico had to make an unscheduled stop in Martinique when US air traffic controllers notified the jet that it would not be receiving permission to fly over US airspace...on board the plane was Colombian Journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina."

Uh, oh, a scary journalist!

After all, "Ospina has written articles about the United States involvement in Latin America, and is currently writing a book about the CIA."

Reason enough to divert a plane from flying over American airspace. Who knows he might have been throwing anti-CIA fliers out the window!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sad update, Iraq

In a sad update to our recent note on rising violence in Iraq the Associated Press points out that, "three U.S. troops have been killed in fighting west of Baghdad, the military said Friday, making April the deadliest month for American forces in Iraq since September."

The steady drip of bad news continues. What is really eerie is the mismatch of the headline of the AP's article and the accompanying pictures. The headline reads, "US military says 3 American troops killed in Iraq." The accompanying photo is captioned, "Clerics lead as thousands attend open air Friday prayers in Baghdad's Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Iraq, Friday, May 1, 2009." And that is indeed what it appears to be a picture of. What is the implied connection there? What message is the AP attempting to convey? U-G-L-Y.