Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lost and Found

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, a real family man

As it turns out our suppositions this morning were correct. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was on the Elliot Spitzer plan, although he had to travel a lot further to get the booty, Argentina as opposed to Washington, D.C. Will Sanford's fall from grace be as swift? Sanford has already resigned as Chairman of the National Republican's Governors Association. Spitzer was forced completely from office. Who knew we were going to be treated to this much South Carolina Republican blogging when we started last week?

Is South Carolina's Republican Lieutenant Governor up to the very capable standards of New York's James Patterson? The Clarion Content thinks we shall soon see.

Stranger in a strange land

The story of South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, gets curiouser and curiouser. We defended Governor Sanford when it appeared he had purely needed some time to get a way from the pressures of public life. His staff said he had gone on walkabout on the Appalachian Trail and would be back in a couple of days. Now suddenly the story has morphed into a totally new tale.

The Associated Press reports, "South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is telling a newspaper that he was in Argentina during his unexplained 5-day absence." At the last minute, the Governor supposedly decided he wanted a more exotic break from work and his family. The more we read, the more we feel this appears likely to turn into an Elliot Spitzer or Marion Barry type of story. The truth lies some where between Appalachia and Argentina.

Still missing

The Clarion Content ran across an amazing story in the BBC News that we had never heard preciously. A fifty-one year old nuclear bomb dropped in shallow waters of the coast of Georgia remains missing. Somewhere near Savannah and Tybee Island there is a 7,500 lbs nuclear bomb buried. The United States government despite numerous attempts has never been able to find it. The Air Force now insists it is safest to leave it where it is, claiming according to the BBC, that it is incapable of a nuclear explosion because it lacks the vital plutonium trigger.

The Clarion Content once detailed for you the amazing story of the only nuclear bomb every dropped on the Continental United States, but we had never heard this one. Read the whole article, the details of the mid-air collision and the heroism of Colonel Howard Richardson, DFC, who insured the bomb did not crash to earth with his near crippled plane, here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

South Carolina's Governor

Hopefully, it wasn't our scathing critique that caused it, but South Carolina's head Republican has disappeared, gone it hiding as it were. His staff can't find him, the press says calls to his cellphone are going straight to voicemail, his wife hasn't talked to him in several days. Governor Mark Sanford has gone AWOL or as his spokesman put it "out of pocket." The most recent reports have him hiking the Appalachian Trail, unreachable by cellphone. Talk about atypical.

It is something of sad commentary on American society that a man can't talk a walk in the woods and be alone with his thoughts. The kind of histrionic commentary that Governor Sanford's hike has drawn is ridiculous, "The way things are in the world today and homeland security, we need the governor to be fingertips away. Somebody's got to be in charge." quoth, State Senator Jake Knotts, a Republican according to the Associated Press.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

South Carolina's Republicans

The smiling face of the South Carolina GOP

The ever moderate and broad minded Republicans of South Carolina are at it again. Republican activist Rusty DePass reprised one of the oldest racist lines in the book on his Facebook page, over the weekend. The story was after a gorilla escaped from a zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, DePass took the time out to change his Facebook status to, "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors - probably harmless," referring to the First Lady. Must be a pleasure for Senator Lindsey Graham and his ilk to be associated with progressive thinkers like Mr. DePass. Though we must query, what's with the ape reference we thought these guys didn't believe in evolution?

Read more here at Politics Daily.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Acapulco ain't what it used to be

Partying down 1950's Acapulco style

Counted among the many needless tragedies of the pointless War on Drugs is the degradation of the once popular Mexican resort of Acapulco. In recent weeks less than 100 yards from a famous 1950's hotel where John Wayne and "Tarzan" star Johnny Weissmuller threw lavish parties a huge gun battle broke out between Mexican soldiers and suspected members of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

Sixteen of the unidentified gunmen and two Mexican soldiers were killed, nine other people were wounded, including three bystanders. According to the Associated Press, "The battle erupted after soldiers received a tip that a group of armed men were gathered at a gated house in a seedy section of Acapulco where working-class homes bleed into 1950s mansions. Several gunmen tried to flee but crashed their car into a military Hummer that was blocking the gate. At one point, more armed men with grenades arrived to reinforce the men in the house, but they died in the shooting, said an army colonel, who led the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons."

Perhaps the most telling line of the story was the one that most encapsulates how the War on Drugs has co-opted not only the streets of Mexico, but the very rule of law, "Inside, soldiers found four men bound and shirtless who claimed they were Guerrero state police officers and were being held hostage." No telling though, were they moles working with the cartels? Actually hostages? Are they who even who they say they are?

Read the whole story here.

Clunker Bill clears the House

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill that would give consumers vouchers to turn in gas guzzling vehicles and buy new cars that are more fuel efficient. Clunkers eligible for the program must get 18 miles per gallon, or less, in combined city/highway mileage. There are $3,500 subsidies that can be used toward purchasing cars and vans that are more fuel efficient than the older clunkers by four miles per gallon. There is a bigger $4,500 subsidy that can be used toward purchasing vehicles that are more fuel efficient than the older car by 10 miles per gallon. However, cars that are older than 25 years are not eligible to be traded in for credit. The bill supported by President Obama faces an uphill battle to pass in the United States Senate.

Read more here at CNN Money.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Military spending continues to spiral

The Clarion Content would love to call it exclusively a legacy of George Bush the II and the Dick, but even we have to admit that there are wider forces at work. The BBC News reported that global military spending rose 4% in 2008 to a record $1,464 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

The BBC noted that the 100 leading defense manufacturing companies sold arms and munitions worth $347 billion during 2007 and that almost all the companies were American or European, a staggering 92%. Sipri's report also showed that the United States is not only the world's biggest seller of arms, but its biggest arms buyer, too, accounting for 58% of the total global spending increase on arms during the last decade.

Sipri said, "during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, US military expenditure increased to the highest level in real terms since World War II." The Bush II reign certainly didn't create the arms race, but it did help it trend in the wrong direction. Anybody remember the peace dividend that was supposed to come from the end of the Cold War? "Mideast Shift," anybody?

Americans we should protest such expenditure of our hard earned money!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why do we hate/ignore the whistleblower?

Colgan Air is a regional partner of Continental Airlines

It is a long standing phenomenon that the Clarion Content has never really understood. Why does American culture loathe the whistleblower? And are we doomed to continue to fail to heed their warnings? Is it the old youthful prejudice against the tattletale? Is their something in our primordial collective psyche that detests the whistleblower for violating the sanctity of the Durkheimian community? Dear readers, feel free to weigh-in, because honestly, we don't get it.

Sadly the purpose of this article is to call attention to another egregious instance of America (in this case the Federal Aviation Administration) ignoring the whistleblower. This time it likely costs folks their lives. On February 12th of this year, Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in a wintry mix of light snow and fog about five miles short of the runway at Buffalo-Niagara International airport killing all forty-nine people on board and one on the ground.

As the investigation surrounding the crash has continued, a tragic shunting aside of the warnings of a FAA inspector have come to light. This was the inspector who one year earlier was assigned to monitor Colgan Air's addition to its fleet of the 74-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. The same plane that crashed near Buffalo.

The FAA inspector reported that Colgan’s first three test flights for the Q400 were unsatisfactory. He also stated that he observed a candidate for upgrade to captain who exhibited “a lot” of problems during a test flight. Furthermore he noted frequent violations of “sterile cockpit” rules mandating that flight crews avoid unnecessary chatter during takeoff and approach to landing. Worse he saw a Colgan crew takeoff despite “patches on the de-ice boots of the left wing that were not airworthy,” and passengers on another flight were allowed to get on and off with the engines still turning. Finally, he also reported that Colgan pilots “botched” the three approaches they made at the airport in Charleston, W. Va., that they flew the Q400 faster than the manufacturer allowed and refused to report a broken radio for fear that it would delay other test flights.

He summed up his report on Colgan Air like this according The Buffalo News, “As a culture the problem starts all the way at the very top. You have young pilots coming in and the next thing you know they’re swapping seats with the engines turning.”

What did the FAA do in response? Whitewashed his complaints and transferred him to a desk job.

What did National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) inspectors find during their investigation of the crash of Colgan Air flight 3407?

The flight recorder showed indeed that sterile cockpit rules were violated on Flight 3407's approach to landing. The NTSB found that pilots at Colgan didn’t as a group have the hard training and grounding that was in compliance with federal regulations. And that the egregious safety violations the FAA inspector observed over the year were systemic. The pilot at the controls of Flight 3407 only had 109 hours of flying time in the Q400.

The FAA inspector filed a whistleblower complaint about his transfer, which the Department of Transportation inspector general is now investigating. Unfortunately, that won't bring back any of the folks who paid for the anti-whistleblower bias with their lives.

Hardly sounds like the kind of thing that could have happened under the government of Bush-Cheney. Because we all know they never forced government agencies to change the results of their reports or data to comply with their pre-conceived notions. They were and are paragons of intellectual honesty. (Just like Clinton never spun the truth or cheated on his wife.)

Read more here in The Buffalo News.