Saturday, August 28, 2010


The pundits are debating the depth of the Great Recession and arguing about whether a double-dip recession is impending. Or are we in a Japanese style, "Lost Decade?" Perhaps we are facing a repeat of the 1970's style stagflation? These discussions about nomenclature hold little interest for the Clarion Content. We can see reality from ground level.

And it ain't so good, brother.

Yesterday day saw the release of another telling statistic from outside the cloistered world of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve. The United States birthrate has fallen to its lowest level in at least a century. Historically birth rate decline has tracked economic decline.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The birthrate dipped below 20 per 1,000 people in 1932 and did not rise above that level until the early 1940s. Recent recessions, in 1981-82, 1990-91 and 2001, all were followed by small dips in the birthrate."

Good news for the outliers born this year, bad news for the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Save the Seeds!

Let your vision get a little blurry and you will see the picture the mural forms.

Alerted by the vigilant blogger who has been running from the man since 2007, we urge you to support the Pavlovsk Experimental Station. The seed bank is in deep trouble after a Russian court ruled yesterday that the Russian Housing Development Foundation can take the land the seed bank is on and sell it to private home developers. (See all totalitarian countries have eminent domain policies, not just America.) It is home to 5,500 varieties of edible plants, mostly fruit. And like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, it attempts to perform a crucial service helping to (literally) insure Earth's biodiversity.

According to Boing Boing, the Pavlovsk Experimental Station's collection made it through World War II and many of its varieties can be found nowhere else on Earth. They note that seed banks like this can be used as breeding stock, to impart useful traits like drought tolerance or weed resistance to more common varieties. These efforts are ever more important as Monsanto and their ilk attempt to patent, horde and neuter seeds. Moreover, as the effects of development increase the pace of the sixth species extinction, such breeding could become crucial to human survival.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some Olive branch

In the vast array of lies told by King George the II and his advisers it is easy to sometimes forget a few. One of the whoppers that Bush-Cheney brought to us, not quite as patently false as the Iraqi's have uranium cake, but perhaps more politically significant, was that America's invasion is bringing peace throughout the region. Look at the knock on effects, places like Lebanon are being becoming peaceful and democratic.

It seems hard to believe but once upon a time, Lebanon was referred to as the Switzerland of the Middle East. It was looked upon as beacon of multi-cultural, pluralistic statehood. Of course, that was gone back in the Reagan era, long before King George even got the silver spoon out of his mouth. However, he and Dick had the temerity to claim that invading Iraq had once again led to multi-ethnic, inter-religious peace in Lebanon.

That was lie was put to bed a couple years ago when Israeli and Hezbollah fought a war in southern Lebanon. The Bushies and their delusional friends claimed that because this was a war prosecuted by Hezbollah and that all that needed to happen was for the right government to be put in place in "democratic" Lebanon and peace would flower.

Of course, multiple offensive wars against fellow Muslims helped continue the process of radicalizing the entire state, insuring the next war Israel fights in Lebanon will not only be against Hezbollah, but also against the army of the state of Lebanon. Well done, a-holes.

We saw a little precursor earlier this month. According to the Debka file, "By its cross-border sniper attack on Israeli forces Tuesday, August 3, which provoked a major clash, the Lebanese Army laid down a new fact of life in the Middle East: The next war against Israel will be fought - not only by the Hezbollah militia, but by the Lebanese army. Its mission has been merged with the radical objectives of the Iran-backed terrorist group."

Wait, no olive branch? We thought King George the II's other Middle East achievements brought peace and multi-party democracy to Lebanon?

The Debka File continues, "The border tensions brewing for weeks on the Lebanese-Israel border boiled over...into a heavy exchange of cross-border fire. Lt. Col. Dov Harari, 45, from Netanya, brigade commander of the eastern Lebanese border sector, was killed on Israeli soil...Lebanon reported three soldiers and one civilian killed in heavy Israeli retaliation.

When the shooting started, the Israeli officers were watching Israeli soldiers clearing brush on their side of the border near Kibbutz Misgav Am opposite the Lebanese village of Adeisseh to clear the line of vision for surveillance cameras. The UN later confirmed that it had been given due notice of the work and had informed the Lebanese government in advance.

The incident escalated when Israel opened up with tank, artillery and helicopter fire and the Lebanese brought in mortars and RPGs."

Wow, we had been told by Dick and his King that Lebanon was another of those places that benefited from their offensive war in Iraq.

Maybe not so much.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

High speed rail & Politico speak


The reality and the political spin are a little bit different when it comes to North Carolina and high speed rail. We know, you are thinking, "News Flash: What? The spin and the political reality don't match!?! Say it isn't so..."

But seriously, dear readers, once again the claims of Washington do not exactly measure up to the reality on the ground. Our local Congressman, here in Durham, David Price, sent an email around to constituents, including some of the Clarion Content's staff, reading in part, "Recovery investments that will have a lasting impact are creating or sustaining thousands of jobs in the Fourth District...A $500 million recovery investment will make the twenty year-old dream of high-speed rail from Charlotte to Raleigh a reality."

On the website of the North Carolina Office of Economic Recovery & Investment the story reads a little differently, "Today [July 12th, 2010], Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the State of North Carolina have finalized a grant agreement for $20.3 million, the first installment of the $545 million awarded to the state."

Read that again.

Less than 4% of that $545 million authorized by the Feds is actually on the way to the state. This is not exactly what one would have garnered for ol' Congressman Price's email.

Moreover this money will not actually be used on installing high speed rail system, tracks, trains or corridors! Nope the North Carolina Office of Economic Recovery & Investment website continues, "The North Carolina Department of Transportation will use the $20.3 million to refurbish passenger coaches and locomotives to expand rail service across North Carolina. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration is actively working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation on additional grant agreements for the remaining $525 million to further develop the state’s high-speed rail corridor."

Read that again.

They are not spending a penny of this $20 million on high speed rail. They are using it to fix up and clean-up existing locomotives and passenger cars. A semi-worthy cause we are quite sure, but not forward looking or forward thinking, and certainly not high speed rail. These cars and locomotives likely won't even be compatible or usable on a high speed rail system. But that is where the bureaucratic inertia is sending our dough.

Unfortunately, this lack of vision, this inertia is endemic. The use of the stimulus funds and recovery money follows a strict routine: lofty promises, loftier pronouncements, limited distribution of funds in a backward looking manner that kowtows to status quo interests.

Change? Yeah, right!

Monday, August 16, 2010

One more possibility?

The former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson

Call it a follow-up to a follow-up, after running you through the list of possible Republican Presidential contenders for 2012 twice already in the last month we saw one more name being touted by one of our favorite conservative writers and thinkers, Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan currently does most of his work for The Atlantic monthly and the full piece can be found here.

Sullivan is a small "c" conservative. He notes the importance especially now of backing a candidate, "who share[s] [one's] professed beliefs, as opposed to helping ciphers who'll advance... [one's] agenda out of a combination of policy ignorance, malleability, and personal indebtedness."

The outside the box candidate that he likes is the former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.

Craigslist killer commits suicide

Accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff apparently committed suicide in jail yesterday. He was found dead with a plastic bag over his head. He had been living quite the secretive double life before the murder. He was attending medical school at Boston University and planning to marry when he was arrested at age twenty-four with his fiance.

His fiance was cleared and apparently had no idea. She rapidly called off the wedding. In addition to the murder, he was also charged with armed robbery and kidnapping in two similar incidents in which the victims were solicited via Craigslist, but were not injured.

Authorities said that Markoff allegedly shot Julissa Brisman, a New York masseuse who traveled to Boston after placing an advertisement for her services on Craigslist, three times with a handgun on April 14, 2009 after they struggled in the doorway of her room on the 20th floor of the Marriott Copley in Boston.

He had been awaiting trial ever since.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Presidential Pick-up

We are not talking about Obama meeting and greeting ladies. We are talking basketball. And when you are the Prez, you can get some sweet run for your pick-up games.

President Obama decided to test that theory with Michelle in Spain wrapping up a five-day vacation with their younger daughter, Sasha, with a visit to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on Majorca. Their older daughter, Malia, is at sleepaway camp. And when the wife and kids are away, Dad will play.

Basketball, people, basketball.

And play he did. The game was at Ft. McNair in front of an audience of wounded troops. Participants, in addition to the President, included Carmelo Anthony, Shane Battier, Chauncey Billups, Derek Fisher, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Etan Thomas, Dwyane Wade, David West, Pau Gasol, Maya Moore Alonzo Mourning, Bill Russell, Grant Hill, Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

Kobe Bryant made an appearance but not play. LeBron is happy to goof around in an exhibition. Kobe plays for blood or not at all. (If someone isn't throwing a table leg through someone's heart, than it had better be an NBA game.) Don't hate the player, hate the game.

One further question, Etan Thomas? Etan Thomas? How did he get here? Does he know Reggie Love from high school or something?

Special thanks to the Caucus Blog over at the New York Times for sending this our way.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Can the Government track your movements?

Earlier today, we published a fiery invective from our small "c" conservative hearts about ridiculous government interference in the minutia of our lives. Read it here. This issue touches that same nerve, but in a much bigger picture way.

As reported by the Washington Post, "A federal appeals court ruled for the first time Friday that police cannot use a Global Positioning System device to track a person's movements for an extended time without a warrant."

This will move the issue towards the Supreme Court because federal circuit courts in New York and California have previously upheld warrantless GPS tracking of vehicles by the Man and his flunkies.

This time a D.C. Circuit court ruled that, "such surveillance technology represents a leap forward in potential government intrusion that violates constitutional protections against unreasonable searches."

The Post reports, "The federal government has mandated that U.S. cellphone carriers make nearly all their phones trackable... However, companies say that the federal law that allows them to turn over data to law enforcement without subpoenas is prone to abuse."

No kidding. So, they can and already are tracking you with your phone.

Thanks a lot, King George the II!

And way to stand-up to him, you knock-kneed Democrats!

Law enforcement defends their right to use the technology as a cost savings to taxpayers. Brilliant! If it is cheaper for the cops, who needs our rights?

It is always Danger Will Robinson time when we reach the courts as the last line of defense for our freedoms.

Government does not get it

This is just the kind of b.s. from certain government a-holes that fires the engines of our libertarian, small "c" conservative hearts. When we tell you that you are not going to believe this story, you are not going to believe this story. Get the man out of our lives, stop the administration!

This tale takes place in Portland, Oregon. Where a seven year-old, Julie Murphy and her mom, set up a lemonade stand at a local neighborhood art fair. Julie had become enamored with the idea of having a stand after watching an episode of the cartoon pig Olivia running one, her mother, Maria, told the Oregonian. Unfortunately, cold-hearted government flunky, Jon Kawaguchi, an environmental health supervisor for the Multnomah County Health Department decided he had to throw his weight around. Claiming concern for public health, from gallons of bottled water mixed with Kool-Aid, a-hole in chief, Kawaguchi told seven year-old Julie that she had to shut down her lemonade stand for failing to obtain a $120 temporary restaurant license.

The guy was not kidding. According to the Oregonian, a "lady with a clipboard" came over and demanded their license. When Julie's Mom explained they didn't have one, the woman told them they would need to leave or possibly face a $500 fine. Surprised, Mom started to pack up. The people staffing the booths next to them encouraged the two to stay, telling them the inspectors had no right to kick them out of the neighborhood gathering! [This is America you, fascists!] They also suggested that they give away the lemonade and accept donations instead and one of them made an announcement to the crowd to support the lemonade stand. That's when business really picked up -- and two inspectors came back, Mom told the Oregonian. Young Julie started crying, while her mother packed up and others confronted the inspectors. "It was a very big scene," her mother reported.

Way to go jerks! Off to Russia with you overly bureaucratic scum...

Of course, their boss, another government flunky wasting our tax money, Eric Pippert, the food-borne illness prevention program manager for the state of Oregon's public health division told the Oregonian, "Technically, any lemonade stand -- even one on your front lawn -- must be licensed under state law." Heaven forbid common sense should intercede! He did admit, "County inspectors are unlikely to go after kids selling lemonade on their front lawn," centering his pathetic excuse making and defending his right to suckle the tit of government largess around the fact that Julie and her Mom had been at a public, neighborhood art fair.

Locals are organizing a Lemonade Revolt for the last Thursday in August.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Contenders follow-up

A third Bush...

Allow us a quick follow-up to our post the other day about the early Republican contenders for 2012. New York Times blogger Ross Douthat penned a similar piece the next day. He brought one name to the table that we did not, as Douthat dubbed him, the ultimate insider, Jeb Bush. Douthat says that insurgents like Palin and Huckabee normally struggle to win the nomination of the Republican party. He believes that enthusiasm for the "his turn" candidate, Mitt Romney, is very limited.

Could we really get another Bush? Read the whole article here.