Monday, June 14, 2010

Local Congressman in trouble

A local North Carolina Congressman is in hot water after being caught on tape grabbing an amateur videographer by the scruff of the neck. Congressman Bob Etheridge, of Lillington, NC, which is just north of Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, and south of Raleigh, was leaving a fundraiser hosted by California Congressperson Nancy Pelosi.

The amateur cameraman is waiting on the street ala the paparazzi and asks, "Do you fully support the Obama agenda?"

This question irritates the Congressman and he demands to know the video cameramen are. He repeats the question several times as they refuse to answer. He attempts to swat the camera out of his face unsuccessfully, then gets even more aggressive. The tape shows Representative Etheridge, a Lillington Democrat, holding the young man by the wrist and grabbing him by the back of the neck.

Did the Congressman get ambushed? Yes. Did he overreact? Yes. This is the logical extension of what happens to public discourse when America plays gotcha politics. We can all get in the sewer together or we can all climb out of the sewer together.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Was Rifkin right?

The Clarion Content saw a note that caught our eye this afternoon while reading David Brooks on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times. Brooks was discussing the effects of the economic stimulus package on the American economy and employment. He was defending debt reduction as the urgent priority now. The Clarion Content is not so sure.

Regardless, we were fascinated to see this tidbit about the nature of employment loss during the current economic turbulence, "According to a Hamilton Project/Center for American Progress study by MIT economics professor, David Autor, high-skill sectors saw no net loss of jobs during the recession. Middle-skill sectors like sales saw an 8 percent employment decline. Blue-collar jobs fell by 16 percent."

Brilliant, but controversial political theorist, Jeremy Rifkin was predicting this sort of employment shakeout in America all the way back in the first term of the Clinton administration. His book The End of Work, agree or disagree, should be mandatory reading for American policymakers today. It is, if hyperbolic, eye-opening.

The Clarion Content would argue that one way to address these unemployment trends, which are likely to whip up tremendous social tension if ignored, is to allow lots of legal immigration, priming the economic pump from the bottom upward.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Supreme Court backs away from Miranda

The Supreme Court in a controversial 5-4 decision, that highlighted the importance of Presidential elections that determine Supreme Court nominees, backed away from strict enforcement of Miranda Rights last week. Miranda Rights refer to rights specifically outlined in the United States Constitution that a criminal suspect may or not be aware they have.

The Miranda warning is so standard in United States criminal procedure that many of us are familiar with its basic form from television and the movies, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense."

The Supreme Court having long held that the "burden rests on the government" to show that a crime suspect had "knowingly and intelligently waived" his rights changed its position. The Court, packed with appointments made by King George the II, ruled in favor of coercive interrogation. (Clearly a policy the Bush-Cheney regime favored.) The Court decided that a suspect's words can be used against him if he fails to clearly tell police that he does not want to talk. The police are no longer required to get a statement of the subject's waiver of their right to remain silent before interrogating him.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the ruling "turns Miranda upside down" and "marks a substantial retreat from the protection against compelled self-incrimination."

One more step towards the Sovietizing of the United States.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Is the growth model bankrupt?

A Durhamanian friend of the Clarion Content who is currently going to school in Buenos Aires sent us a fascinating piece that jives with a worry that has been clanging about in the back of our minds for sometime. Is growth, as we have known it since the Industrial Revolution, sustainable? Have we whacked the big blue Gaian ball out of balance? Is it elastic, will we see it come rushing back into balance with a cataclysmic sixth extinction?

The piece is from a blog haughtily titled, God's Politics. Nonetheless it is surely food for thought...

Here is an excerpt that made us think
I am...reminded of what G.K. Chesterton once said when asked what was most wrong with the world. He reportedly replied, “I am.” Already, we are hearing some deeper reflection on the meaning of this daily disaster. Almost everyone now apparently agrees with the new direction of a “clean energy economy.” And we know that will require a re-wiring of the energy grid (which many hope BP will have no part in). But it will also require a re-wiring of ourselves -- our demands, requirements, and insatiable desires. Our oil addiction has led us to environmental destruction, endless wars, and the sacrifice of young lives, and it has put our very souls in jeopardy. New York Times columnist Tom Freidman recently wondered about the deeper meaning of the Great Recession when he asked, “What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last fifty years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall -- when Mother Nature and the market both said, ‘No More.’” The Great Spill makes the point even more.

Read the whole article here.