Thursday, October 13, 2011

We have moved

This blog is now an archival stub. New Clarion Content posts will be available on our main page here. For Politics posts, link directly here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gaming the system

So how does one get a tax break in Jersey?

If you are one of those who think that America's tax system is designed to be gamed by the large at the expense of the small, here is one more example. This one is from the State of New Jersey, where over the objections of the slovenly Governor, Chris Christie, the production company that makes the Jersey Shore was awarded a $420,000 tax credit.

Ya know for doing their part to stimulate the economy and all.

It is not like Christie is a teaching firing disaster who is part of process that redirects monies from students and schools to Snooki and the Situation.

Read more here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good Samaritans

For those of you losing faith in America and/or your neighbors...a group of Utah heroes, who had no intention of saving a man's life when the day started. When the moment of crisis arrived, they stood up and were counted.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why him?

Seen an interesting question posed in more than one place lately. Why is Jon Huntsman getting so much coverage for a candidate who receiving only one percent in the polls? It does not appear to mimic what has happened in the past for one percent, so-called fringe candidates, like Dennis Kuchinich, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Why would former New Mexico Governor Hunstman be getting so much publicity?

Hunstman's positions might overall be considered more mainstream than any of those three, or Rick Santorum or Herman Cain. It could be said that Huntsman's poll numbers are marginal, but not his policies. However, the Clarion Content would argue, wouldn't this make him less interesting, less appealing, less newsworthy as it were, not only is he not polling well, but he does not stand-out for unique and different solutions and ideas. (This media darling candidacy this reminds us of is Lamar Alexander.)

The Clarion Content has actually most frequently heard Jon Huntsman's name out of Democratic or Obama administration associated types. They have been out far and wide proclaiming that Huntsman is the candidate they least want to face. To us here, it sounds like the proverbial Briar Patch. President Obama and his men aren't the least bit scared of the tall, photogenic, Huntsman. Having nominated him to be Obama's ambassador to China, they must know the chinks in his armor, as it were. They are actually hoping that he somehow gains the nomination.

Is it their promotion of Huntsman that is getting him on the telly? This week he was on CNBC’s "The Kudlow Report," on Friday, and on Thursday, he was on Fox News’ "On The Record with Greta Van Susteren," before that on Wednesday, he was CNN’s "John King, USA." He capped it this weekend with Bob Schieffer on the prestigious, "Face the Nation," where he shared the screen with the leading insurgent candidate, Michelle Bachmann.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Political Joke

From one of our Allentown, Pennsylvania readers...

A plane with four passengers on board is about to crash, but it has only three parachutes. The first passenger says "I'm Kobe Bryant, the best NBA
basketball player. The Lakers need me. I can't afford to die." So he
takes the first parachute and leaves the plane. (Nice high sense of his self-worth.)

The second passenger, Sarah Palin, says "I was the running mate of the
former Republican Party candidate for President of the United States. I am the most ambitious woman in the world. I am also a former Alaska Governor, a potential future President, and above all, the smartest woman in America." She grabs the second parachute and jumps out of the plane.

The third passenger, the Reverend Billy Graham, says to the fourth
passenger, who is a 10 year-old school boy, "I am old and I don't have many years left. As a Christian, I will sacrifice myself. You can have the last parachute, young man."

The boy says, "It's okay. There is still a parachute left for you, sir. America's smartest woman took my school backpack."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake rattles nuclear reactor

North Anna Power Station

Among the scariest elements of yesterday's East Coast earthquake, which was felt from Durham, NC to Boston, Mass., was how closely it occurred to the North Anna Power Station, a nuclear reactor complex, located about 10 miles from the quake's epicenter. As yet, the facility's reactors show no signs of cracks in their concrete containment centers. The nuclear facility is located 92 miles southwest of downtown Washington, D.C. An estimated 1.9 million people live within 50 miles of the plant's nuclear reactors.

The quake knocked out the plant's off-site power source. One of the four back-up diesel generators powering the auxiliary safety systems died within hours of the quake. Sound like Japan anyone?

The North Anna Power Station is designed to withstand quakes of a maximum of 5.9 to 6.1 on the infamous Richter Scale. Yesterday's quake was a 5.9. The North Anna power plant is notorious already. It has accumulated one of the largest concentrations of radioactivity in the United States. The L.A. Times reports that Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former assistant Energy secretary during the Clinton administration noted, the plant’s spent fuel pools contain four to five times more radioactive material than their original designs intended. The plant's reactors are thirty-one and thirty-three years old respectively.

Ahhh, nuclear power. What a country!

A bad wobble

Is Bank of America, one of the two or three largest banks in the country, wobbling? By all accounts, we may have another too big to fail institution that needs bailing out by the federal government, lest it drag the banking system and the Western world down with it.

The bank is facing cash shortfalls of at least $50 billion related to mortgage lending disasters of recent years. The bank has petitioned regulators to give it until 2019 to straighten itself and its balance sheet out, so that it might come into compliance with new capital requirements rules. The bank is now said to be as much as $100 or $200 billion in the hole.

Bank of America's stock has fallen by 50% this year. Fresh sources of capital are drying up. The bank may have to be temporarily nationalized to survive. It took $50 billion in federal TARP loans to get Bank of America through the Lehman Brothers--AIG collapse. This looks worse.

A bad wobble indeed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stark reminder


Those of you who poo-poo the dangers of electing moral authoritarians to office would do well to read and remember this story. The State of North Carolina involuntarily, against their will and without their consent, sterilized more than 7,500 people, the last one as recently as 1974. This was done under the auspices of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, one of many such state authorities across the country. The state sterilized the mentally handicapped and epileptics, along with those judged too promiscuous or hard to control.

So be careful before you say, nothing like that could ever happen in America.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oil rig colonies

Silicon Valley billionaire and PayPal founder, Peter Thiel, has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create oil rig emulating, floating, libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

The idea is to create floating independent quasi-states beyond the reach of any one country's jurisdiction because they are in international waters. There is no information on how these colonies would cope with the growing movement toward international maritime law. This has been a hot button issue as the Empire has continued to have to combat marauding and piracy.

The prospective colonists hope to get around building codes, minimum wage laws and weapons restrictions according to Yahoo. No word on if they will be trying to circumvent tax codes, too, a racket perfected in island countries like Bermuda, the Caymans and Switzerland.1

Stay tuned.

Read more here.

1Also no word on how they would repel marauding bands of buccaneers should they appear over the horizon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Start of a groundswell?

Numbers cruncher extraordinaire, Nate Silver, made quite the statement on his blog, the 538, today, "Anti-incumbent sentiment is probably stronger now than at any point since polling began. We don’t know exactly how that is going to play out, and to some extent we are in uncharted territory."

We had not read anyone saying that this electoral season. We agree. What comes next?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cops convicted


In a case out of the stuff of nightmare, five New Orleans cops were convicted in the killing of unarmed civilians in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. One of the most amazing parts of the story is that the shooting spree, that left two unarmed victims dead and four others wounded (one of whom ultimate lost her arm), took place six days after city flooded. Six days! What does that say about the conditions in the area and the authorities? Law and order were clearly on the run, the cops were told that they were responding to a radio call of officers down and under fire at the Danziger Bridge.

Another detail that tells one just how far off of the civic rails things were at that moment in Louisiana, the 5-0 was rolling to the call in a Budget Rental truck. Literally. One of the officers was riding in the back of the box truck carrying his personal AK-47.1 They jumped from the truck firing. According to reports, a family walking in search of food and supplies, the Bartholomews, ended up on the bridge that September day heading to a supermarket on the other side of the Industrial Canal that bifurcates the 9th Ward. The hail of New Orleans Police Department bullets killed seventeen year-old family friend James Brissette and wounded four other family members.2

Moments later, the cops open fire on two brothers, Lance and Ronald Madison, according to a Justice Department summary, one officer shot the mentally disabled Ronald Madison in the back as he ran away, another cop stomped and kicked him as he was lying on the ground before he died.

This is the small "c" conservative's nightmare, the state, who has its constituent citizens massively outgunned with its governmental arsenal, incidentally, paid for with tax dollars, turns its guns on the people in a climate of fear. This is the case for repealing the Patriot Act and eliminating the Department of Homeland Security. Guns in the hands of the state, while scary, is likely inevitable in a globalized society. Impunity to open fire on the citizenry, the presumption of guilt, is what must be fought at all costs.

In this federal courtroom, the officers ultimately lost when their fellow cops started to go state's evidence on them. As is so often the case, it was the cover-up that got them. Initially, it was not at all clear that the policemen were going to pay for this heinous incident. State of Louisiana murder and attempted murder charges were thrown out against the cops when the Criminal District Court ruled that the state had misused grand jury testimony. In a racially charged case and city, they were greeted by a cheering throng of supporters when they beat the rap.

The Clarion Content does not have enough information to make a definitive stand on one side or the other of this case on the basis of the facts. In a federal court, in front of juror of their peers these men were found guilty. We can only say that we are heartened that justice did not automatically pardon the powerful and armed against the dispossessed and unarmed. The presumption so often goes the other way.

1Brady Bill anyone?

2After an initial cover-up, in later testimony it was revealed that the officers kept firing at the unarmed family as they cowered behind a bridge abutment. "The police just kept shooting and I just kept feeling myself being hit," testified Susan Bartholomew who lost her right arm.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How do they feel?

How do the Democrats feel about the debt deal and President Obama? These quotes are from Maureen Dowd's column in the New York Times...
Democratic lawmakers worry that the Tea Party freshmen have already “neutered” the president, as one told me. They fret that Obama is an inept negotiator. They worry that he should have been out in the country selling a concrete plan, rather than once more kowtowing to Republicans and, as with the stimulus plan, health care and Libya, leading from behind.

As one Democratic senator complained: “The president veers between talking like a peevish professor and a scolding parent.” (Not to mention a jilted lover.) Another moaned: “We are watching him turn into Jimmy Carter right before our eyes.”

Monday, August 1, 2011

Temporary end game: Debt

What, me, worry?

The Clarion Content could not disagree more with the assertion of the New York Times editorial page this morning that President Obama should have used the 14th Amendment to make an end run around Congressional obstructionists and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. It is a suggestion straight out of the Dick Cheney playbook. It advocates that when checked by a legitimate institutional disagreement, presidential power should be expanded so that the executive can still get his or her way. It is the methodology of Empire and dictatorship, the road to ruin.1

We are glad President Obama did not pursue this course.

We do not think that he made a great deal on the compromise to raise the debt ceiling. We disagree with kicking the problem further on down the road, by appointing a bogus, super-committee to make the hard decisions Congress has been putting off for a generation.2 President Obama already ignored the recommendations of his own deficit committee.

We are in no way impressed by President Obama's facetious claim that the Bush II tax cuts for the uber-rich will go away in 2013. Firstly, Obama would have to get re-elected, his prospects look pretty dismal right now. Secondly, he would have to keep his promise to let the tax cuts end, something he has not managed to do in his first term.

Bottomline on the debt deal, typical Washington, an ugly boiler room compromise that solves nothing and only delays the reckoning. It highlights the desperate need for a third party to break the political gridlock.

Obama was right about one thing change is coming, the only question left is the agent. If not Obama...this month has highlighted some of the more extreme alternatives.

1President Obama has already showed his willingness to follow the Bush II-Cheney guide to concentrating power in the Executive Branch. Signing statements, extraordinary Presidential Czars, Afghan policy, etc.

2Nothing stops progress from happening like a committee.

NY Times kills Obama

The New York Times killed President Obama for his compromise on raising the debt ceiling. While we do not view it in the apocalyptic terms of the NY Times editorialists, we do think it was a bad deal, typical Washington, a messy compromise that solves nothing and postpones addressing the real issues and root causes.

The NY Times sees it even more harshly than that, "
...the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status. ...It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Debt notes

The Washington Post, certainly no more of an unbiased source than most media outlets, published these notes on how the United States government debt was accumulated.

*Projected federal government surplus in 2001 $2 trillion.

*Projected federal government debt in 2011 $10 trillion.

*50% of this swing is caused by tax revenue decreases (tax cuts) of $6.3 trillion.

*Federal tax collection is at its lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years.

*The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added $1.3 trillion in new debt.

*Obama's economic stimulus package added $719 billion in new debt.

*The TARP bailout program added only $16 billion in new debt.

*Overall King George the II and his follies added over $7 trillion to the government's debt.

*Obama has added $1.7 trillion to the government's debt.

They didn't note, but we read elsewhere, the debt ceiling was raised by Congress seven times during the eight year reign of Bush II.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Found him

Got their man...

Life as a fugitive is always looking over your shoulder. Or so they tell ya. You know, dear readers, how the Clarion Content feels about the reverberation, between truth and fiction, reality and Art; constant high speed turbulent bi-directional flow.

Do they stop looking for you? Arthur G. Jones disappeared from Chicago in 1979 amidst allegations of gambling debts and ties to organized crime. His silver Buick was found at O’Hare International Airport, but Jones wasn't. Authorities suspected foul play. Even though there was no body ever found, Jones was declared legally dead in 1986, and his wife collected his Social Security benefits.

But the government doesn't quit. It functions like a Leviathan glacier, slowly inching across all the terrain, aka, all the data, within its purview, grinding down all, gulping down the unruly and unwary. And the interconnections between the computers at the nodes of information are getting better all the time. Mr. Jones was arrested Tuesday in Las Vegas and charged with four felonies including identity theft and fraud.

How? Started after the man who's Social Security number had been printed on Jones's fake Nevada driver's license in 1988 kept complaining and fighting the Social Security Administration over requests to pay taxes on money he swore hadn’t earned. So that guy, no shit, named Clifton Goodenough, has a story too.

The government kept coming after him for money, demanding he pay taxes on his earnings in Nevada. Wages which Jones was collecting working for a legal bookmaking operation under the name he put on that license back in 1988, Richard Sandelli. According to Fox News, Jones says he purchased a fake Illinois driver's license, birth certificate and Social Security card for $800 in Chicago in 1979, then moved to Florida, before eventually obtaining a Nevada driver's license.

Goodenough is telling the government man, 'I never earned any money in Nevada..." Social Security Administration is saying somebody is cashing a paycheck with that Social in Nevada.

Thirty-two years after he skipped town, cross-checking between the Social Security Administration's and Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles's computers caught up with Arthur G. Jones. The Leviathan glacier of government sweeps up a man... gulp.

No telling what the guilt, complicity, life story, twists and turns composite, the man, sum total, life laid out as narrative, looks like. The Clarion Content is not defending his innocence. Nor are we prima facie indicting the government for picking him up and charging him.

The vector, the arc, the tale and its place within the archetypal tales they will tell about our era, that is what interests us. Surely the story of Mr. Arthur Gerald Jones, is at least as strange as any we might make up.

Norway grapples: Mitt lille land

Mitt lille land---My little country

Domestic terrorism is crime, do not give it legitimacy by politicizing it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two rights

If two wrongs don't make a right, what to do two rights make? In a practical sense, try to imagine a world where President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner enact a compromise that both cuts entitlement spending and eliminates the Bush II tax cuts for the super rich. Heck, they could even eliminate the alternative minimum tax as part of the same compromise. At that point, all Obama would have to do would be ease off the crackdown against job seeking immigrants, and bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, and it would be 1995 all over again economically.

A dream? More than likely, knowing Washington, D.C., it is a mirage. The devil is in the details. The Clarion Content favors cuts in entitlement benefits (especially for prescription drugs), gradually raising the minimum age for Social Security benefits, reinstating the estate tax on estates worth more than $5 million, higher marginal tax rates on the highest income brackets, lowering and simplifying corporate taxes, along with a libertarian immigration policy.

In backwards order, no one in Washington D.C. has the guts or the political capital to address immigration policy. Obama would have been far better served to start there rather than with health care policy. Bush II was going to produce a benevolent immigration policy towards Latinos before 9/11. His failure to do so afterward is one of the great tragedies of his administration.

Lowering and simplifying corporate taxes, lots of folks in D.C. claim to support this one, yet somehow it never happens. This is the second biggest factor, after structural adjustment, for the current unemployment malaise. Lowering corporate taxes incentivizes job creation.

Higher marginal taxes on the richest of Richie Rich's and bringing back the estate tax for the very wealthy. Somehow the upper crust and their lobbyists always manage to turn this into a populist issue. At first amazing, the narrative of American capitalism has now absorbed this myth so completely and seen it defended so assiduously that to tax the rich is to attack the very basis of freedom.

Social Security is the 3rd rail and entitlement benefits are the next-door neighbors. Is anyone in D.C., even President Obama, brave enough to touch the 3rd rail of American politics? Has anyone heard from Representative Paul Ryan since he mentioned cutting Social Security and other entitlement benefits?

We know that no politician who falls anywhere on the political spectrum between Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich has the guts to say that Bush II's wars of choice have been colossal wastes that have devoured American blood and treasure, but now are sunk costs. Osama is dead. No one can force Afghanistan to cohere without a totalitarian government.1 Withdraw already.

But much like the "big" budget deal itself, that is probably just a dream that will disappear into the daily grind of realpolitik.

1 In Iraq, America has fucked up so badly that the best play now may be to be to keep the troops there lest Iran station its tank divisions on the border of Saudi Arabia. So even though the Clarion has long advocated withdrawal from Iraq, and three, separate, new, nation-states, we may be beginning to lose faith in the viability of that option.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Durham City Hall construction

Durham's City Hall is not exactly putting its best foot forward. Amid renovation, its sign hidden by shrubs, the site strewn with dumpsters and construction debris, it is not much to look at right now.

Photo courtesy of BWPW.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pretty much Amazing

We must admit, here at the Clarion Content, the idea of a Palin/Bachmann super ladies ticket has crossed our mind. Our only question is, who's on top?

So when we heard there was Sarah Palin documentary coming out in theaters, we were like, "Do tell!"

Here is the scoop.

The biopic, about former governor Palin, modestly titled, "The Undefeated," premiered this weekend in ten select U.S. cities. We were unable to determine the full list. It did include Dallas, Texas, Pella, Iowa and an unnamed town in the sprawl that is Orange County, California. While struggling to find the full list of cities, we did did uncover this enlightening side-by-side comparison in The Guardian of the UK.
Quoting a New York Post critic, "Its tone is an excruciating combination of bombast and whining, it's so outlandishly partisan that it makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln and its febrile rush of images – not excluding earthquakes, car wrecks, volcanic eruption and attacking Rottweilers – reminded me of the brainwash movie Alex is forced to sit through in "A Clockwork Orange." Except no one came along to refresh my pupils with eyedrops."
Quoting former governor Palin, "It will blow you away. It was awesome. It's all about American values.

To be fair, as the Post notes, Palin did not participate in the making of this film. She was its subject, but it was made by a fan not connected to her campaign.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bush II's failures

Bush and Rummy alone in the Oval Office

The litany of King George the II's failures is colossal. However, as the brilliant policy analysts over at George Friedman's Stratfor point out, any list of the impacts of Bush II's disastrous blunders would be incomplete without mentioning how his pointless, self-indulgent, avenge my father's failures, war in Iraq led America to ignore developments in Russia.

During the reign of King George the II, as American blood and treasure were being thrown overboard directly into the Persian Gulf, when Saddam was being replaced with civil war and instability, and the price of oil (read: unleaded gasoline) was shooting into the stratosphere, Russia took a turn for the worse. Bush the II, clown prince that he was, rather than being focused on global political stability or the global economy, wanted an easy triumph, thus, an offensive war against what was perceived to be the most topple-able of his ludicrous axis of evil.1

What did that cost strategically in Russia and its sphere of influence?

Statfor says, "This gave Russia a window of opportunity with which to accelerate its crackdown inside (and later outside) Russia without fear of a Western response. During this time, the Kremlin ejected foreign firms, nationalized strategic economic assets, shut down nongovernmental organizations, purged anti-Kremlin journalists, banned many anti-Kremlin political parties and launched a second intense war in Chechnya."

This loss of focus on the big geostrategic picture cost reformers and potential democrats behind former Iron Curtain dearly. While King George the II was making Faustian bargains with the dictators of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, to support his was war of choice, Putin was able to claim he was doing the same with the vile dictator of Belarus and a range of puppets in the Ukraine, Georgia and Chechnya.2 The loss of United States credibility made it tremendously difficult for America to have any leverage to resist Putin's Machiavellian scheming.

Ahhhh, King George the II... Will America ever recover from your reign? Sadly, it is debatable.

1Grouping Iraq, Iran and North Korea demonstrated Bush II and his policymakers had the foreign policy vision of a five year-old on the playground. "We are the good guys. You are the bad guys. Now it's war..."

2The United States's resources and credibility to support political reformers in Ukraine and Georgia was badly hampered by war in Iraq. In Chechnya, Bush the II's lumping of all nominally Muslim freedom fighters under the label of terrorist, put America on the side of the dictator against the freedom of the people.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bachmann confuses John Wayne's

Perhaps you have already heard this story. Ultimately, we are not all that interested in its substance. It happens, candidates make verbal missteps and this one wasn't policy related. It was a doozy. Presidential candidate, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, got her John Wayne's confused the other day in Iowa.

While speaking in the hometown of notorious clown serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Waterloo, Iowa, Representative Bachmann was clearly thinking of the other John Wayne from Iowa. John Wayne, the movie star, who was born 140 miles southwest in Winterset, Iowa. Unless one of her staffers is a saboteur because speaking in Waterloo, Bachmann came out with, "What I want them to know is that, just like John Wayne is from Waterloo, Iowa, that's the kind of spirit that I have too."

Whoops, wrong John Wayne, wrong small Iowa town that starts with W.

It happens.

The reason we posted this note about it is, you have to see the unbelievable Bachmann photoshop attached to this article about the story in New York magazine. Terrifyingly superb.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Go to college

An excellent article in the much maligned New York Times this weekend by David Leonhardt defends the case for going to college. He says the anti-college for the masses argument ends up being an elitist one, for me and not for thee. He notes the parallels between this debate and the debate about high school for the masses that occurred at the end of last century. The American cultural decision, high school en masse, has been widely validated, especially when compared to parts of Europe.

More education for all! How can we disagree. Leonhardt quotes a recent study by The Hamilton Project, showing that college tuition has delivered an inflation-adjusted annual return of more than 15%; for the stock market, the historical return is 7%, for real estate, it’s less than 1%.

Read his whole piece here.

Thanks to Lyneka for pointing us this way.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Challenge em

Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Paul Ryan (R-WI)

The Republican's have yet to come up with a coherent answer to the argument that they prefer tax cuts for the wealthy over medicare cuts for the elderly. Obviously, any even semi-sophisticated analysis will note that tax cuts and medicare are not a zero-sum game. They do not trade-off with each other directly.

The Clarion Content, while willing to see taxes raised for the highest earners and the biggest estates, is just as earnestly interested in seeing the defense budget cut, along with the expenditures on foreign wars and futile nation building exercises.

The Republicans are going to have to develop some kind of narrative for when their electoral opponents accuse them of being willing to bargain off Granny's health care and retirement for their fat cat friends' tax cuts.

As yet, they have been unable to produce one. Read here a transcript of how a freshman Republican Representative from Arkansas, Rick Crawford, fails to handle this question in a town hall meeting with constituents. Representative Crawford starts out with the tack that, well, Medicare is broke anyway, but is unable to stick to this line of reasoning. John Q. Public points out, if Medicare is broke, it is hardly fair to give tax cuts to the richest of the rich in such a moment.

Time for a better answer, time to come up with it soon, or the Republicans will face Congressional trouncing in November of 2012, regardless of what happens at the top of the ticket.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Selling alcohol earlier

Found this picture Google image searching for: "Buying Liquor at 5am."

Not sure how we feel about this one here at the Clarion Content. As libertarian leaning, get the government out my business, kind of people, we know in principle we ought likely be in favor, but practically having knocked back an alcoholic libation or two in our day, we wonder...

The North Carolina State Legislature is considering changing the law to allow liquor sales Monday through Friday to begin at 5am rather than 7am. Theoretically, why is that even the government's concern period? We certainly do not hold with the state's monopoly on hard liquor sales here in North Carolina. But in practice, from no limited experience, we can definitively tell you, dear readers, that very little good comes of alcohol that must urgently be purchased at 5am rather than 7am in the morning.

There are very few healthy, wholesome reasons why folks must have alcohol at 5am. Again, it is generally our contention that the State should stay far away from regulating the wholesome-ness or lack thereof in an individual's behavior that is not threatening to other citizen's lives and well-being. Ah, and therein lies the rub and not just in this case, not threatening to other citizen's lives and well-being.

Specifically, here, how high is the risk to other citizen's lives and well-being in allowing early morning alcohol purchases? The sun is never really up at 5am. This and more is what the State Legislature must weigh, in addition, the bill contains a slew of other provisions and changes to existing alcohol sales law. Read more here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Presidential topics

The second Republican Presidential Primary debate was held last night in New Hampshire. The reviews? It was very vanilla. Only Minnesota firebrand Michelle Bachmann stood out. The Washington Post offered this note, a keen insight to the topics that will decide the 2012 general election. Domestic issues dominated the debate; candidates spent 105 of a potential 120 minutes on domestic policy. The only foreign policy question that got extended treatment was the American military presence in Afghanistan.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time for a study

Something to consider

The New York Times ran an interesting article this weekend in the wake of the Congressman Anthony Weiner racy pictures scandal. (Weiner has been outed for sending naughty snaps via the interwebs.) The article observed that a casual look around the political landscape would say that female politicians have been embroiled in far fewer sexual scandals than their male counterparts.

We know, we know, the plural of anecdote is not data. But how about a study? The NY Times speculates, "Women have different reasons for running, are more reluctant to do so and, because there are so few of them in politics, are acutely aware of the scrutiny they draw -- all of which seems to lead to differences in the way they handle their jobs once elected."

Here at the Clarion Content we read it as another good sign for the millennium of women.

Dogs rolling with the SAS

The British Special Air Service or SAS has been a model for special forces detachments of armies throughout the Western world. The SAS traces their history to World War II. The British government has largely veiled the SAS and refuses to comment on matters concerning their missions.

It was fascinating to read then, in the British tabloid, The Sun, that SAS soldiers have been rappelling into combat raids with German Shepherds strapped to their bodies. The dogs, renown for their police work, have proven incredibly useful in commando raids, including, apparently, the one that killed Osama bin-Laden. The dogs are equipped with infrared night visions cameras and are often used by troopers to scout ahead. Our furry four-legged friends typically wear body armor to protect against knives, gunfire and grenade shrapnel. Apparently some pooches have even been trained in the use of oxygen masks and have made parachute jumps, following in the giant footsteps of their forebears.

Read more here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Postmodern globalism run amok

The world market emphasizes the delights and upsides of being able to sell anything and everything from anywhere. This range is supposed to virtuous in and of itself. The presumption is that more choice is always better. Despite recent studies debunking that idea, it has proved a hard meme to dislodge.

While as our friends over at the MEP Report are fond of reminding us, the plural of anecdote is not data, sometimes the solid illustrative anecdote can serve as a beacon to shine a light on the reams of transactions taking place below the surface knowledge of the Empire's paperpushers.

To wit, the story of a seventeen year-old Chinese kid who decided to sell one of his kidneys over the internet to finance the purchase of new electronics gear; a laptop and iPad 2 amongst the haul. The Clarion Content has long hooted about the flourishing grey market for organs in China. The teen thought he had gotten away with it, having handled the transaction on his own without his parents knowledge. But his mother, not surprisingly, noticed the new computer equipment and then found her son's deep red scar. The BBC and a local Chinese TV report indicate the authorities are concerned.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


California is not gaining any new Congressional seats from the 2010 Census. This is the first time in the state's history that it has not gained enough population between censuses to garner additional representation in Congress. (Its population was up by 5 million folks or 14.6%.)

The state has yet to reverse the historic outflow of domestic migration. California lost approximately 72,000 residents to other states in 2009-2010. It is the fifth consecutive year of domestic migration outflow, something never previously seen in California's history.

It is something the Clarion Content believes must have a profound message for those who analyze the American psyche and American dreams.

Practice what you preach?

Not so much for Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey; Governor Christie prefers do as I say, not as I do.

The governor, who has been slashing school budgets and social services in New Jersey, while wringing his hands about the state's budget crisis, apparently is ready to spare no expense when it comes to his personal indulgence.

The incident in question? Wednesday, Governor Christie decided to use a state police helicopter to attend his son's baseball game against St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, Bergen County, NJ. Surely the governor must have traveling from official business and wanted to see his family? What kind of scrooge would begrudge a person that?


Governor Christie's last engagement on his official schedule before his son's baseball game was a private meeting Tuesday night at the governor's mansion with a group of Iowa donors who are trying to pursuade him to run for president.

Shady, Mr. Governor, shady.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What the heck?

Regular unleaded gas for the car costs $4.00 a gallon!!! This is the single biggest factor for Obama's re-election prospects. Gas over $3.50/gallon, there is no way Obama wins again.

But, how about this for a crazy factoid? Jet fuel, the kind they fly commercial airliners on, averaged $3.03/gallon last month (May 2011).

Say what?

Jet fuel is cheaper than gasoline? Somebody needs to tell the oil cartel, they are f*cking us over...

Confidence declining

From the America is going to H-E-double hockey sticks in a handbasket files, as seen in the USA Today: the percentage of middle-income American families that think it is possible to save for a secure retirement 37% in 2007, only 28% in 2011. Only 28% of American families think it is even possible to save for a secure retirement? The tiderbox is primed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thoughts on Peace

"Peace is the deliberate adjustment of one's life to the will of God."---Unknown

"Each one has to find his peace from within."---Gandhi

"Let us forgive each other- only then will we live in peace."---Tolstoy

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Avoiding the worst

Yahoo Finance had an interesting article this week about some of the metropolitan areas that have suffered less in the Great Recession. The Clarion Content has read about the low unemployment in parts of the depopulated Great Plains, the Dakotas and Nebraska, but this is less about regional commonality and more demographic commonality.

Yahoo says that university centered towns and cities have been more recession proof. There are still 112 metro areas in the United States with 10% unemployment or greater. It is not the places with big universities. Among the cities Yahoo cites, Austin, Texas, Boulder, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin---all have unemployment rates well below the national average. Of course, double winner, big university town, in a depopulated natural resource heavy state, Lincoln, Nebraska, checks in with a miniscule unemployment rate of 4.1%.

Another factor not noted by the Yahoo folks, but likely just as important as the universities in shielding these areas from recession, all saw significant population growth in the last ten years.

Austin, TX Population change 2000-10: 20.4%

Madison, WI Population change 2000-10: 11.6%

Boulder, CO Population change 2000-10: 5.8%

Lincoln, NE Population change 2000-10: 14.5%

If one buys into the Simon-Steinmann Economic Growth Model, that may simply be that. Simon would seem to be especially likely to be relevant in metro areas with big universities because his assumptions about population growth and economic growth moving in concert are underpinned/fueled by technological developments and advances.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fixed, Part II

Wait a minute! There were insiders who made billions off of gaming the system before the financial house of cards collapsed?

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, is fighting systemic corruption.

The New York Times reports hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who's Galleon Group hedge fund managed more than $7 billion in assets, was found guilty on yesterday of fourteen counts of fraud and conspiracy by a federal jury in Manhattan. Evidence showed that Mr. Rajaratnam allegedly used a corrupt network of tipsters to personally make over $63 million from insider trading trading in stocks. Apparently, that was merely the tip of the iceberg.

Rajaratnam and his firm paid out roughly $300 million in trading commissions annually to brokerage firms. As one of the prosecutors noted, "Cheating became part of his business model." Rajaratnam was taped saying, among many other incriminating statements, "I heard yesterday from somebody who’s on the board of Goldman Sachs that they are going to lose $2 per share," in advance of the bank’s earnings announcement.

Unfortunately, the uber-wealthy Rajaratnam's lawyers will appeal the verdict and will likely keep him out of jail long enough to flee the country. He will probably be sipping cocktails and proffering advice at Davos next year.


During the 2008 campaign, this guy vowed to "close the revolving door" and "clean up both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue" with "the most sweeping ethics reform in history." He must have just meant that as a rhetorical flourish, rather than an active policy making effort.

Need one more instance, one more reminder of just how fixed the game is Washington, D.C.?

One of the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) members, who mere weeks ago voted to approved the controversial merger of the Comcast cable monopoly and NBC television network, is leaving the FCC to become a senior vice president for the merged firm.

Can you say conflict of interest? Can you say bribery? Can you say, boy, the political environment sure has changed under President Obama?

Allegedly, yes, yes, no.

The media watchdog organization, Free Press, called the move, "just the latest, though perhaps most blatant, example of a so-called public servant cashing in at a company she is supposed to be regulating."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bin-Laden Raid

An interesting note in the Chicago Sun-Times points out that the U.S. Navy Seals conducting the raid on the house Osama bin-Laden was living in needed extra time on the ground. As you have probably read, one of their helicopters broke down and had to be destroyed. The Seals used this extra time to gather what may turn out to be valuable intelligence.

The interesting part of the story...despite the helicopters, the explosions, the firefight at a compound in a Pakistan city, all taking place supposedly down the street from the Pakistani equivalent of West Point, no Pakistani authorities, police, military or otherwise rushed to the scene.

Hmmmm. This registers as somewhat more than simply coincidental. Could the United States government be denying the complicity of the Pakistani government in the raid on bin-Laden to give its partners in the regime political cover?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


We have been hearing a bunch of jive from Washington, D.C. about how the recession is over. This in no way matches up with what we are observing on the ground. In fact, to our eyes the recession is deepening, consumer confidence is weakening further, soaring gas prices and food prices are trimming consumer spending, and there is no end in sight.

Of course, the fat cats in Washington, D.C. who not only never pay for gasoline, but have their own drivers that come out of the taxpayers nickel, can hardly tell. When they want to know how bad the recession is, they have a secretary/aide/staffer, bring them a report. If the lobbyists and campaign contributors aren't worried, why should the politicians care?

Youthful Patriots

Spotted this on Texts from Last Night, ahhh, American youth culture.
"Went from writing my paper to watching obamas speech to crushing beers and singing springsteen in a crowd of 100 within 20 minutes. I love this country!" ---from New Hampshire.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More of the same

We saw another signal that Osama bin Laden's apparent assassination is not going to change much of anything this morning. Both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today show, neither of which we watch frequently, went directly from stories about bin Laden's death to commercials featuring the chairman of Exxon Mobil.

Aren't those two on the same side, trying to bleed America to death?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Patron saints of PC strike again

The dark forces of political correctness have struck again, once more trumpeting morality over truth. As smarter political commentators than the Clarion Content have noted, these paragons of political correctness set the stage for King George the II and his lackey, the Dick, Cheney. Their willingness to put a moral code above the truth gave King George solid firmament to stand on as he blithely lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, like the PCers he knew what was best for the country, the facts be damned.

Unfortunately, those cardinals of political correctness still haven't learned their lesson. We read this week, in the Huffington Post, where they bludgeoned the President-elect of the American College of Surgeons into resigning, a man who invented the Greenfield Filter, a device that has saved countless lives as a means of preventing blood clots during surgery, a professor emeritus of surgery at the University of Michigan, who has written more than 360 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, 128 book chapters and two textbooks and served on the editorial board of fifteen scientific journals.

His crime? Citing a peer-reviewed scientific study that suggested semen had health and psychological benefits for women.

The sentence in question, "So there's a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there's a better gift for that day than chocolates."

His intention as he told the Detroit Free Press, "The editorial was a review of what I thought was some fascinating new findings related to semen, and the way in which nature is trying to promote a stronger bond between men and women. It impressed me. It seemed as though it was a gift from nature. And so that was the reason for my lighthearted comments..."

The response from the Inquisition on behalf of Political Correctness? You're fired.

What a country!

One more Shuttle snafu

It was just the other day that the Clarion Content was lamenting the money pit that is NASA Space Shuttle program in all $200 billion has been poured down the drain. As if we needed one final demonstration, one more reminder of what it means to throw good money after bad, as gas creeps over $4 a gallon and more and more American children have to go hungry, NASA scrubbed the shuttle Endeavour's launch this weekend. Cost to scrub and reschedule $500,000 minimum for fuel alone!

They should have just cancelled. (the program twenty years ago...)


This is what we hope the reaction to Osama bin Laden's death is across all of America. Let us support peace.

Funny ha, ha

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not what you want to hear

Storms raged across the American South last night leaving death and destruction in their wake. (Notice how no one jokes about 2012 and Mayans any more? We have been through a lot of late.) Reports indicate 170 souls lost their lives last night across several states.

And in a phrase that may sound all too eerily familiar from Japan, the storms knocked out power to three nuclear reactors, all located in Alabama and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Fortunately, unlike Japan, there was no damage to back-up systems. Diesel generators kicked in, cooling systems were maintained and core temperatures never moved. But don't let any of these nuclear power apologists tell you, "It could never happen here."

Bullsh*t. We are one unforeseen natural disaster away from sharing Japan's circumstances. America must move away from, not toward, nuclear energy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is this a redux?

New dog, old tricks?

We can't believe how many times in the last two years we have had to ask the same question?!? How different is Barry Obama from King George the II?

Despite the craven slobbering of the Obama apologist crowd, the facts are he represents more continuity with George Bush II than we ever expected. This today from The Hot Air Archives,
"Obama’s new Afghanistan ambassador is... Bush’s old Iraq ambassador... That would be Ryan Crocker, of course. Please don’t confuse him with David Petraeus, Obama’s top Afghanistan commander who used to be … Bush’s top Iraq commander. Or with Robert Gates, Obama’s Secretary of Defense who used to be … Bush’s Secretary of Defense.

Gates, of course, is stepping down in a few months. At this rate, I wonder if O will replace him with Rumsfeld."
Oh wait, no we forget, Obama's policy is more nuanced. He is using more remote control drones to shoot missiles into Pakistani villages...

As the author of the Hot Air piece notes, the only saving grace of this appointment would be if it is political cover for the President to back away from his dangerously foolish pledge to keep United States troops on the ground in Afghanistan until 2015. The Clarion Content has long held that there is no political center with which to form a congruent Western style State in Afghanistan. There is no more right or reason to prop up a Hamid Karzai than there is a Muammar Gaddafi or a Bashar al-Assad. (Barry and Hillary are backing only one of those other two, this month.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Shuttle Program

Pioneer 11 approaches Saturn

The Clarion Content has not believed in the value of the manned space program since the Cold War ended. We support space exploration and experimentation. Un(hu)manned exploration is much, much, less expensive. There is still widespread world hunger, millions lack a daily source of clean water, not mention housing and disease, or America's desperate need for infrastructure investment. The Clarion Content cannot support the expenditure of the human crewed space program.

The final launch of the Shuttle program is upon us and with it some reflection on the massive waste. 133 Space Shuttle launches, which USA Today reports, NASA originally estimated $10.4 million per launch, ended up costing a hearty $1.5 billion per launch.

Want more? Those 133 shuttle missions conducted 2,300 experiments at a cost of $192 billion for the program. The cost per experiment? $83 million, 478 thousand and 260 dollars per experiment over the history of the shuttle program...

The most widely cited of those experiments according to Thomson Reuters' science information service, is a 1996 study of "anti-shock" shorts used to measure astronaut fitness. The circularity is self-evident. Human space missions yield little to nothing over uncrewed space missions other than the effects of space on humans.

USA Today quotes economist Henry Hertzfeld of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, "Economically, you can't make an argument for it."

What a tragic waste. Hopefully, this is the end of an era for such foolishness.

By contrast, the robotic space probes Pioneer 10 and 11 launched in 1972-73 yielded so much data that it has still hardly been tapped and continues to produce valuable experimental knowledge for a combined cost of $100 million!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What's going on...

Regular readers of the Clarion Content know how bitter we are about the Obama Presidency. Perhaps our hopes were too high. His administration has underlined and put an exclamation point on the premise that there is no significant difference between Republicans and Democrats. Obama was the first major party candidate that the Clarion Content endorsed and oh, how we regret it.

He is cut from the same cloth as Slick Willie and King George the II.

CIA assassinations up under the Obama regime.

Guantanamo still open.

Non-combatants being tried in military courts without the protection of the Constitution.

Signing statements still being used to sidestep the Constitution.

Dictators being backed against freedom fighters wherever it is deemed politically expedient.

Oh, and that rhetoric about helping the little guy, who has been buffeted by King George the II's wars of choice and blase, "Let them eat cake" attitude? Sorry that's out the window.

Tax cuts for the rich extended.

Massive tax breaks for the biggest corporation continue.

And is independent, Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders points out...

Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.

Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits, but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.

Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.

Duck and Cover is on-point as usual. It is awfully hard to feel optimistic. There are no saviors over the American horizon, rather a passel of psychotic Nero's are vying for Obama's throne and scepter.

While bearing in mind, the first moment of violence co-opts the Revolution, it is time for radically new approaches.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Asleep at the controls

The FAA has reported six incidents this year where FAA air traffic controllers have fallen asleep on the job. Nice. The latest was this week, when a Nevada air traffic controller fell asleep while landing a plane with a medical emergency on board. The near catastrophe has prompted the government to put an extra staffer on midnight shifts at more than two dozen control towers across the country, according to CNN.

The pilot of the Nevada flight attempted to contact their air traffic control tower seven times with no response. After repeatedly circling the field, the pilot elected proceed and landed safely anyway. The Feds says that in the twenty-seven major control towers staffed with only one controller during the midnight shift, it will be mandatory to add a second controller.

Hope so.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mall vacancies

The Clarion Content warned more than a year ago of an impending secondary real estate bubble that could smack the American economy around, commercial real estate. We had read lots of analysis that said there were a ton of short term commercial real estate loans that were going to have to be refinanced, only with the new lower property valuations figured in. The slowing economy was also supposed to continue to hurt commercial occupancy rates.

This week we read that the less disastrous of these two dire predictions is indeed happening, this year malls and strip malls are supposed to see their highest vacancy rates in more than twenty years according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper reports, "Mall vacancies hit their highest level in at least 11 years in the first quarter." The expectation is that the worst is yet to come.

There is, as our sources suggested their would be, a glut of commercial real estate space. Reportedly, more than one billion square feet of retail space was built in the fifty-four largest American markets since the start of 2000. Many retailers that had been key mall and stripmall tenants, Borders, Blockbuster, Circuit City and Comp USA have nose-dived or gone out of business.

American cities already staggering under repeated economic body blows are losing lots of sales tax revenue as shoppers continue to migrate on-line. Big Box corporations are crushing mid-size competitors and specialty stores. The impact on the overall economy is very real. The base of pyramid that supports our massively indulgent and expensive lifestyles as Americans is having foundation issues. We must look at ourselves in the mirror carefully.

Egypt's presumed revolution

As we warned in these pages last month, there was no revolution in Egypt. All the protestors in Tahir Square were able to accomplish was regime change. They got old Hosni Mubarak out and insured that his fat cat son would not succeed him as ruler. The state apparatus did not change. The military remained in charge. Events yesterday in Cario continued to underline this dramatic and disappointing reality.

According the Washington Post, "Angry anti-government demonstrators returned to Tahrir Square late Saturday, some declaring that they were ready to face martyrdom, less than a day after Egypt’s military rulers used force to break up a protesters’ camp in the place where their revolution began. Angry anti-government demonstrators returned to Tahrir Square late Saturday, some declaring that they were ready to face martyrdom, less than a day after Egypt’s military rulers used force to break up a protesters’ camp in the place where their revolution began."

On the ground in Egypt, it is evident that the regime is being run by the same ilk as it has been for more than fifty years, military statists. This is why demonstrators refuse to simply fade away.

Read the whole ugly story here in the Washington Post.

Of course, the regime is backtracking and putting a PR cover into play.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New spy plane?

Amateur skywatchers have tracked down America's latest spy plane the X-37B. The plane which looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle is pictured above this column. It is unmanned and flown remotely. According to Wired, "The X-37B has generated intense interest, long before it ever left the ground. Boeing originally developed the twenty-nine foot ...craft... Then, the military took over in 2004, and the space plane went black. Its payloads were classified, its missions hush-hush."

Why it has such a cargo sized hold has been a matter of intense speculation. Space observers have tracked the plane following its second launch into orbit last week. Reportedly, "The X-37B is traveling in a slightly elliptical orbit more than 200 miles up, swooping from 43 degrees north latitude to 43 degrees south." According the expert Wired talked to, Brian Weeden, a former Air Force Space Command officer, now with the Secure World Foundation, the X-37B is orbiting around the fat middle of the planet, flying over the Middle East, Africa, and much of China, giving up global coverage, but getting more frequent passes. The orbit suggests that the space plane is spying.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Presidential Irony

How bitter is the irony of Obama playing Nixon to Bush II's LBJ in the Middle East? In this scenario Bush's Dad is Kennedy, cautiously engaging in Iraq the same way Kennedy was only willing to dip America's toes into Vietnam. Bush I let the Shi'ites get massacred by Saddam because he was unwilling to commit to a drive on Baghdad. The follies of the son have shown this was the more prudent, if less moral, policy.

Here is Obama, following Bush II's LBJ, after a disastrous War with a massive cost of blood and treasure, he is married to staying the course. But why, Mr. President? For Nixon, the answer was ideological, but Obama is a pragmatist.

Iraq has yet to form a government and civil war is never more than a moment away. Afghanistan is mired in corruption and warlordism. In Pakistan, the United States is on the side of the anti-democrats. America is on the side of the dictators in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Bahrain, too, yet Colonel Quaddafi must go? Alas and alack.

Where is the administration's analysis for maintaining a massive, resented, military presence in Afghanistan? What about supporting an independent Kurdistan? A democratic Pakistan? Why support the status quo in Yemen and Bahrain?

Much like we would have voted for McGovern over Nixon, we should have gone Kucinich or Paul over Obama.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blaming the victim

The Clarion Content favors school uniforms, we believe uniforms help improve focus and eliminate potential classroom distractions. However, we do not support draconian school dress codes, which are quite different than uniforms. These dress codes, rather than eliminate confusion and issues, exponentially increase them by setting up battles where youth, inherently, naturally, push the limits creating conflicts with parents, teachers and administrators.

It was during the debate on imposing a statewide (as a sidenote surely this is an issue to be addressed on the local, not the state level) dress code in Florida schools that we heard one of the most egregious cases of blame the victim we have ever heard.

In attempting to illustrate the need for a dress code with the case of an eleven year-old Texas girl who was gang-raped by more than a dozen men, Florida State Representative Kathleen Passidomo said, "There was an article about an eleven year-old girl who was gang-raped in Texas by eighteen young men because she was dressed like a twenty-one year-old prostitute. And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students."

Wow!?! An eleven year-old kid, gang-raped by eighteen men and it was her fault because of how she was dressed?!? She had it coming? She wanted it? Eleven year-olds cannot consent to sex in this country. Period. We hope Representative Passidomo's constituents are calling for the resignation of this anti-feminist hater.

Read more here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The difference between Socialism and Capitalism

We grabbed this brilliant bit from our friends over at the MEP Report. Always challenging, probing and inspiring. You should check them out here.

Earthquake moved Japan 8 feet!!!

Reports from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate that the coast of Japan moved eight feet during the massive 8.9 earthquake off of its northeastern coast last week. The earthquake was the most powerful to hit the island archipelago in its recorded history. The quake was so big that it shifted the Earth on its axis. Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9 magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).

Read more here at CNN.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Palin's 15 minutes up?

A newly released Bloomberg poll shows strongly negative numbers for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. 1001 adults were polled and 60% had an unfavorable opinion of Governor Palin, while only 28% had a favorable opinion. Interestingly, when compared to other politicians like Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie, more people had an opinion one way or the other about Palin than any other American politician, save for President Obama. Analysts say this means Palin will have a harder time moving the favorability ratings in her direction. More people have made up their mind on her, one way or the other, than any of the other potential 2012 candidates.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Deficit Hawk

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a noted deficit hawk, gave Fortune magazine writer, Nin-Hai Tseng, an interview this week where he laid out some of the realities of the state of the state in Washington, D.C. Senator Coburn is often regarded as an eccentric, wild card---modern Washington parlance for a straight shooter who does not kowtow to lobbyists. The conservative Coburn has no patience for inefficiency in government, even in arenas traditionally sacrosanct to Republicans.

When asked about the Defense Department Coburn said, "I think there is at least $50 billion of waste in the US Department of Defense. But we don't really know because nothing in the Defense Department can be measured because they don't have audited financial statements. They're not even sure what they're buying and they're not even sure if they've paid for it. One of the things I've been working on for the last two years is to put financial controls in the Defense Department. They're highly effective at what they do but they're highly inefficient. There's a lot of money in that $600 billion budget that we could save just through good management practices."

The Senator also laid it on the line about the precarious state of America's finances, "I've studied a lot of international finance in the last year and a half and I've read the works of every major economist around the world and I've talked to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and I've talked to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. We're in deep weeds right now. If something collapses in the Middle East, and interest rates go up, we have the potential to go on a downward spiral that we cannot get out of. We're going to become Japan, too."

Obama and Libya

One more reality check for all the Obama apologists shoveling the bullshit filled buckets labeled "Change". The Obama administration, over Congressional objections, had been pushing a $77 million deal to provide at least 50 refurbished armored troop carriers to Moammar Gadhafi's army. Congress had stalled the deal which would have benefited the massive multinational arms dealer, BAE.

This is different from what King George the II was up to how? Rhetorically? We are supposed to take solace in although the Obama administration is more of the same, he at least denies that he is on the side of the dictators and the huge companies that profit from their existence? Isn't that actually worse? At least, we, the People, knew where George Bush II stood. He made no bones about the fact that he was screwing the little guy into the ground to help the Kenneth Lays of the world. The Associated Press reports, "General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were among companies listed as attending the 2008 and 2010 Libya Defense and Security Exhibition in Tripoli."

BAE is a British firm with a United States subsidiary, BAE Systems, Inc., listed in 2010 as the nation's 12th largest government contractor. It is headquartered in Rockville, Md. It is a classic case of the rotten junction of politics, money and the military industrial complex. The company's board is chaired by former Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command; former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, an Obama foreign policy mentor; and former Bush administration Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

Some change, Mr. President. Obama spouts a lot of rhetoric, then sells arms to Libya anyway, while green lighting tax relief for the very richest Americans. Nice work, Barry

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Not Huckabee

This week, no less of conservative leading light than Washington Post columnist George Will, dismissed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's chances of winning the Republican Presidential nomination. Will said the average American wouldn't trust Huckabee to run a lemonade stand let alone have his finger on the button.

Will thinks the nominee should be drawn from a more obscure list that includes Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, former Utah governor and departing ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts governor Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

It should be remembered that Will is, what would have been called back in the day, a Rockfeller Republican, not exactly a salt of the earth, Palinista.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What happened in Egypt...

The Clarion Content is not a fan of seeing United States foreign policy conducted on a strictly pragmatic calculus. We do, however, support a pragmatic understanding of how events on the world stage play out. That is to say, sometimes foreign policy's motives have to be idealist, but interpretations of outcomes and results must be realist.

It is through this lens that we want to note that we strongly agree with George Friedman and Strafor's analysis of events in Egypt in recent weeks.
The week began with an old soldier running Egypt. It ended with different old soldiers running Egypt with even more formal power than Mubarak had. This has caused worldwide shock and awe...We do not want to be killjoys now, since everyone is so excited and happy. But we should point out that, in spite of the crowds, nothing much has really happened yet in Egypt. It doesn’t mean that it won’t, but it hasn’t yet.

An 82-year-old man has been thrown out of office, and his son will not be president. The constitution and parliament are gone and a military junta is in charge. The rest is speculation.

The great majority of the Western media is running around foolishly asserting that there has been a revolution. This wild overclaim only shows the distortion between their hype-skewed lens and events on the ground. The Wikipedia entry on these events, for example, is hyperbolically headed, "Egyptian Revolution of 2011."