Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The faces have changed, but the game remains the same

Despite what the defenders of the Obama administration want to tell you, dear readers, the chilling post 9.11 security climate is still in effect. It is more than that Homeland Security is checking nutsacks at airport terminals this holiday season. Our quarrel is not only with the balance between safety and privacy, but with the attitude and atmosphere of the state. The mentality of the state's security apparatus has not noticeably changed under the ostensibly liberal Obama.

What the Clarion Content's small "c" conservative editorial board believes this reflects is that President Obama and his policy team do not come at the world from a less regulation where ever possible framework. Obviously. From their point of view, more is more. This means that, although the current administration does not believe in the invading one's privacy for the same draconian reasons as Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, their p.c. based paternalism yields essentially the same result. Guantanamo is still open. Black prison sites are still likely maintained. Alliances with strong men across Central Asia, irrespective of national and individual citizen's sovereignty, continue. The state makes unwarranted, and frequently undisclosed, compromises of individual American citizen's civil liberties.

Ultimately there is a government mindset, led by the security apparatus, that believes proper enforcement and public safety trump individual rights and the protect and serve mantra of policing. We ran across another story today that underlined this message recently.

A fifty year-old airline pilot has come under fire from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, after posting a behind the scenes tour of security flaws at San Francisco International Airport on YouTube. The pilot, who taped the clips with his cell phone, has been flying for the airlines for more than a decade. He alerted Sacramento's KXTV when he posted the videos saying he wanted the information to be made public.

According ABC7 in San Francisco, the video posting resulted in federal air marshals and sheriff's deputies showing up, menacingly unannounced at the pilot's house. This appearance that the pilot, a deputized federal air marshal, also recorded, was made to personally and aggressively confiscate his federally issued handgun. Rather than handle this paperwork detail administratively in an office environment, security descended on the pilot in his own home, to make a show of force and displeasure.

His attorney, Don Werno, says he believes the TSA was sending a message that "you've angered us by telling the truth and by showing America that there are major security problems despite the fact that we've spent billions of dollars allegedly to improve airline safety."

Once again, enforcement attacks the whistleblower. Obviously, this sort of individual incident is far below the Presidential radar, unless it involves Henry Louis Gates Jr. or another member of the elite with access.

Change? Only who is sitting at the table has changed, the game remains the same.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Theories of secrecy

There is a fascinating article in this month's Playboy Magazine by John Richardson about the alleged Russian spy Anna Chapman.

In said article, Richardson, who's father was a CIA agent, makes a complicated and insightful point about the nature of spying and the self-defeating conceit that it can create, paraphrasing, 'an obsession with secrecy can turn the glaringly obvious into a secret...'

The knowns hold none of the fascination of the mysteries of espionage and secrecy. When a really fetching theory is afoot from the intelligence community, the obvious can feel irrelevant, unimportant. This parallels the type of reasoning that surfaces in conspiracy theories. The totally mundane and simple explanation is discarded in part for its blandness, whereas the extremely intricate and complicated explanation is venerated for its sophisticated and Byzantine twists.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Obama's National Security advisor

This guy, Thomas E. Donilon is replacing this guy, General James L. Jones, Jr.

One of the most influential people briefing President Obama is his incoming National Security Advisor, Thomas E. Donilon. Donilon is an old political hand, for fifty-five. He has been in politics since the Carter administration. As a twenty-something he led Carter's 1980 Democratic convention efforts to fend off a nomination challenge from the recently deceased Teddy Kennedy. (Incidentally, for all the fits and the false starts, that was the only time that Ted Kennedy ever ran for President.)

Donilon, a native Rhode Islander and former adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden, switched his brief sometime shortly after the Carter's defeat in the 1980 general election from political campaigning to foreign policy, parting directions with his former roomie, Terry McAuliffe. Warren Christopher, later Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, suggested Donilon read Dean Acheson's memoir Present at the Creation and consider another course.

The long and winding road has him succeeding General James L. Jones, Jr. of the Marines as President Obama's second National Security Advisor and the 24th in the positions long and unsavory history at the heart of anti-democratic politics in America.

The Washington Post has a fascinating in-depth profile of Tom Donilon, a must read for foreign policy wonks. The Post's Jason Horowitz reports, amongst many other delectable nuggets, that Donilon is the most Asian(India/China) focused of all of Obama's top-level advisors.

Read the whole article here.

Many thanks to long time Clarion Content fave, Information Dissemination for pointing the way.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Barry Obama, just another politician

Once again, President Obama continues and extends the polices of King George II. This is not the change we were hoping for here at the Clarion Content when we endorsed Obama. What say those of you who mocked voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 now?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The best take we have heard on the Wikileaks disclosures so far came from the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who said, "You should hear what we say about you."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sound familiar

"Society was cut in two: those who had nothing united in common envy, and those who had anything united in common terror..."---Alexis de Tocqueville

Sound familiar and/or prescient?

European banking worries

The Clarion Content has to admit we are woefully ill-informed about the banking crisis that is sweeping Europe. Oh sure, we get the fundamentals, European welfare states have borrowed unsustainably because folks retire too early and work too little to support the modern capitalist pyramid and all its goodies (eg. cradle to grave health care and cheap university education). What we do not understand is the particulars. Why is this all coming to a head now? And what does it mean for America and the global economy in this era of depression not yet averted.

We saw Greece implode. We are hearing more of the same about Ireland. From our perception it would seem Italy and Spain are in even more unsustainable models than the Irish, at least as ill-conceived as the Greeks. What is most troubling is the thought of contagion. Although the domino theory has not been shown to work with nationalist insurrections, they do not become pandemic, just the opposite might prove true with nationalist banking crises. The financiers are more interconnected transnationally than the revolutionaries. It goes to figure that elite institutions would be more likely to have international webs weaved than the proletariat.

That being said then, it is all the more urgent that this banking crisis be contained. Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science at the UC, Berkeley argues just the opposite is happening,
"The Irish “rescue package” finalized over the weekend is a disaster...The Irish “program” solves exactly nothing – it simply kicks the can down the road. A public debt that will now top out at around 130 per cent of GDP has not been reduced by a single cent...Ireland will be transferring nearly 10 per cent of its national income as reparations to the bondholders, year after painful year. This is not politically sustainable, as anyone who remembers Germany’s own experience with World War I reparations should know. A populist backlash is inevitable...Nor is the situation economically sustainable. Ireland is told to reduce wages and costs...[this is] the phenomenon of “debt deflation” about which the Yale economist Irving Fisher wrote in a famous article at the nadir of the Great Depression.

One can interpret the intransigence of the [EU] in two ways. First, they understand neither economics nor politics. As Talleyrand said of the Bourbons, “They have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing.”

Alternatively, policy makers in Germany – and in France and Britain – are scared to death over what Ireland restructuring its bank debt would do to their own banking systems. If so, the appropriate response is not to lend to Ireland – to pile yet more debt on the country’s existing debt – but to properly capitalize their own banking systems so that the latter can withstand the inevitable Irish restructuring.

But European officials are scared to death not just by their banks but by their publics, who don’t want to hear that public money is required for bank recapitalization. It’s safer, in their view, to kick the can down the road in the hope that something good will turn up – to rely on “the luck of the Irish.”

As John Maynard Keynes – who knew about matters like reparations – once said, leadership involves “ruthless truth telling..."
Well dang, if that doesn't just sound a little scary. Read the whole piece here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jackie Robinson

How's about this one for a story we had never heard previously...

Social reformer and legendary baseball great, Jackie Robinson, who famously broke the color-line in what were, until then, the all-white Major Leagues, was once court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of an Army bus at Fort Hood, Texas. What!?! He was acquitted on all charges, but that was surely a story the Clarion Content had never heard about Robinson.

He had also been turned away when he tried to play for the Army base baseball team at Ft. Riley, Kansas. He was told to report instead to "the colored team," which, of course, did not exist, a Jim Crow joke.

Ugly, but a story that bears repeating, as it only happened sixty years or so ago.

Found on Foreign Policy.com.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Halliburton bribery

In Nigeria, earlier this week, authorities detained ten Nigerian and expatriate Halliburton staff for questioning after raiding its Lagos office. The Houston based engineering firm KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary, pleaded guilty last year to charges in U.S. court that it paid $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island liquefied natural gas project in the Niger Delta.

No way!

The rich were illegally getting richer under the reign of King George the II?!?

Say it isn't so...

KBR and Halliburton reached a $579 million settlement with the United States, but Nigeria, France and Switzerland are conducting their own investigations. Albert "Jack" Stanley, the former KBR chief executive officer who worked under the Dick Cheney when he headed Halliburton, pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges stemming from a scheme to bribe Nigerian officials for work on the Bonny Island plant.

Elizabeth Edwards

"...there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human. I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful."---Elizabeth Edwards

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Buffett advice

Warren Buffett last Sunday on "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour, "The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll all go out and spend more, and then it will trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on."