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Ship of Fools

April 1, 2010

The ship of fools has been an allegory for those mad and desperate floating at sea without direction, with a vague image of some utopian destination as a possible outcome. Whether setting sail in banishment or on a quest for a holy grail this theme has been the title for works written, painted, filmed and composed by early medieval thinkers, Bosch, Katherine Ann Porter, the Unabomber, Robert Plant, the Doors, the Dead and Stanley Kramer. Aquirre, Ahab and Marlow/Willard all guided their craft with a destiny in mind, but ended up passing through trials of death and madness to come out the other side. These characters weren’t exactly heroic.

The question is, are we collectively riding one of those types of ships right now? What will be the destination? Is our vessel a replica of the Titanic? Or will there be time to fabricate an Enterprise, warp driving us through some worm hole, narrowly escaping catastrophe? I suppose it depends on how long the fools at the helm can keep those fools snoozing in deck chairs distracted with soothing music, while they keep the masses below deck fearful of climbing up the stairs.

And for the lighter side of foolishness, see: Ship of Fools

Be sure to peruse the “Gadgets for God” section. The pope ornaments and flip flops for Jesus tickled my fancy. Be forewarned of the home circumcision kit though. It looks positively medieval!

62 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    April 1, 2010 6:36 am

    You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.
    ~George W. Bush

    A fool and his money are soon elected.
    ~Will Rogers

    You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.

    ~James Thurber

    ~Mr. T

    • cometman permalink*
      April 1, 2010 7:06 am

      Ha! That was great! I got a kick out of the gadgets for god, especially this little blurb about the jeebus camera –

      2009 update: since we posted this gadget in 2006, the Bible Message Camera has unaccountably disappeared from the Internet. Sic gloria transit mundi.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 1, 2010 7:16 am

      And speaking of Aguirre here’s an edited video of the final scene, complete with new musical accompaniment and if I’m not mistaken, extra monkeys! Caution: the music may give you a seizure :)

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 1, 2010 9:54 am

        Yeah, that yodelling was really unnecessary ;)

  2. Stemella permalink*
    April 1, 2010 7:11 am

    God’s Work Squidface Blankfein has been named as the new Time Person of the Year.

    Simon Johnson scooped it :)

    • cometman permalink*
      April 1, 2010 7:55 am

      Ha! What with Barry getting a Peace Prize for blowing away brown people, I thought that was real for a minute.

  3. cometman permalink*
    April 1, 2010 7:38 am

    If you want to get foolish, head on over to Afghanistan. It’s not just for heroin anymore.

    Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium, has also become a major source for cannabis, overtaking Morocco as the top producer of hashish, the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime said Wednesday.

    “While other countries have even larger cannabis cultivation, the astonishing yield of the Afghan cannabis crop makes Afghanistan the world’s biggest producer of hashish,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in a statement.

    Mission accomplished!

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 1, 2010 9:58 am

      mmmm, hash.

      I remember when blond Lebanese was all the rage before there were opiated Thai sticks.
      Early phases of globalism at its finest. America sure seems to create a lot of Narco states in its Imperial wake.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 1, 2010 11:16 am

        Speaking of those narco states, look what’s been going on with the US “ally” Columbia.

        The biggest human rights scandal in years is developing in Colombia, though you wouldn’t notice it from the total lack of media coverage here. The largest mass grave unearthed in Colombia was discovered by accident last year just outside a Colombian Army base in La Macarena, a rural municipality located in the Department of Meta just south of Bogota. The grave was discovered when children drank from a nearby stream and started to become seriously ill. These illnesses were traced to runoff from what was discovered to be a mass grave – a grave marked only with small flags showing the dates (between 2002 and 2009) on which the bodies were buried.

        According to a February 10, 2010 letter issued by Alexandra Valencia Molina, Director of the regional office of Colombia’s own Procuraduria General de la Nacion – a government agency tasked to investigate government corruption – approximately 2,000 bodies are buried in this grave. The Colombian Army has admitted responsibility for the grave, claiming to have killed and buried alleged guerillas there. However, the bodies in the grave have yet to be identified. Instead, against all protocol for handling the remains of anyone killed by the military, especially those of guerillas, the bodies contained in the mass grave were buried there secretly without the requisite process of having the Colombian government certify that the deceased were indeed the armed combatants the Army claims.

  4. cometman permalink*
    April 1, 2010 8:05 am

    Teabonics! Bwaaaahahahaha!

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 1, 2010 10:13 am

      Oh wow. ummm. jeebus.

      That was hilarious and truly sad all at once.

  5. cometman permalink*
    April 1, 2010 8:49 am

    At first I thought this might be an April Fool’s joke too, but it looks like Barry and the Dems actually did something right with the health care legislation. In this case it wasn’t regarding health care itself, but the student loan legislation they slipped in during reconciliation. I’d heard about this briefly and sort of assumed it was the same sort of bait-and-switch we generally see from politicians – sounds good until you look at the details. But as Ellen Brown explains in this excellent article, this legislation actually cuts out the middleman and allows the government to issue student loans directly.

    Under the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), the federal government will lend directly to students, ending billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to firms providing student loans. The bill will save an estimated $68 billion over 11 years.
    Money for the program will come from the U.S. Treasury, which will lend it to the Education Department at 2.8% interest. The money will then be lent to students at 6.8% interest. Eliminating the middlemen will allow the Education Department to keep its 4% spread as profit, money that will be used to help impoverished students. If the Education Department were to set up its own bank, on the model of the Green Bank being proposed in the Energy Bill, it could generate even more money for higher education.

    She goes on to explain how this Green Bank could work and argues further that the Treasury and not the private Fed should be the ones to issue money in the first place. Under the current system the Treasury just issues bonds and borrows the actual money from the Fed with interest but both are backed by the only “the full faith and credit of the United States.” So if that’s the case, why should the private bankers be able to collect interest in a parasitical fashion for something the government could do by itself? I liked the quote Brown ended with:

    Lending the credit of the United States should be the business of the United States, as William Jennings Bryan maintained. The dollar is credit (or debt), just as a bond is. Both a dollar bond and a dollar bill represent a claim on a dollar’s worth of goods and services. As Thomas Edison said in the 1920s:

    “If the Nation can issue a dollar bond it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money broker collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%. Whereas the currency, the honest sort provided by the Constitution pays nobody but those who contribute in some useful way. It is absurd to say our Country can issue bonds and cannot issue currency. Both are promises to pay, but one fattens the usurer and the other helps the People.”

    This link from the Dallas Fed that Brown included discussing the Fed’s purpose and how money is created was pretty good too. It does explain well how money is created and what the Fed is supposed to do.

    It’s a complex system, but the goal is simple: to keep the economy stable and growing at a pace that can be sustained without inflation.

    But if you compare the value of a 2010 dollar to one from 1913 you realize the Fed hasn’t been doing such a bang-up job with the whole preventing inflation thing, especially over the last 30 years or so. But who are private bankers going to take care of first, their own private interests or those of the public?

    Time for a new system of public banks.

  6. cometman permalink*
    April 1, 2010 11:19 am

    Glenn Greenwald has an excellent rundown of the most recent court decision that the NSA wiretapping program started by Bush and defended by the Obama DOJ is fucking illegal.

    Since we can only assume this illegality is still continuing, here’s a hello to the NSA, you fucking mooks.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 1, 2010 11:25 am

      More on this from Scott Horton.

  7. cometman permalink*
    April 1, 2010 11:40 am

    Just ran across an extremely valuable resource. Good Show Sir – a website devoted entirely to bad sci-fi art covers. Hard to tell if the naked man riding an orca is wearing his jockstrap or not :P

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 2, 2010 8:50 am

      Maybe that Darwin Award winning guy who swam and died with the Orcas used that cover as his guide.

      Speaking of jock straps ,,, you won’t believe what one of those freaks from MN recently arrested for domestic terrah was wearing for his beyond bizarro world video. It can be seen in a clip over at TPM

      Seriously warped.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 2, 2010 9:19 am

        Holy shit! ” Scar my tattered body no more with your punishing dildo mallet!” Aren’t these Xtian militia types the ones who are scared to death of the gay? Coulda fooled me judging by that video.

        On a related note, I ran across this yesterday at Bad Astronomy. Haha!

        • Stemella permalink*
          April 2, 2010 9:25 am

          It dawns on me that if the Ugogglies made a video, that is what it would have looked like. They were all in there, “fer real!” ;)

          As to the haunted scrotum and associated comments. There are no words …

  8. artemis54 permalink
    April 1, 2010 12:09 pm

    Fresh newsletter from Center for Biological Diversity: Palin Recants Politics, Persona; New Technology Destroys CO2 on Contact, Leaves April-fresh Scent; Center for Biological Diversity Does Not File Suit

  9. Stemella permalink*
    April 2, 2010 8:57 am

    Matt Taibbi has a new one at RS

    Looting Main Street about that story involving JP Morgan and the rip off of Jefferson County, Alabama over municipal bonds for a sewage project. I think I linked to a Bloomberg story on this a while back.

    The destruction of Jefferson County reveals the basic battle plan of these modern barbarians, the way that banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have systematically set out to pillage towns and cities from Pittsburgh to Athens. These guys aren’t number-crunching whizzes making smart investments; what they do is find suckers in some municipal-finance department, corner them in complex lose-lose deals and flay them alive. In a complete subversion of free-market principles, they take no risk, score deals based on political influence rather than competition, keep consumers in the dark — and walk away with big money. “It’s not high finance,” says Taylor, the former bond regulator. “It’s low finance.” And even if the regulators manage to catch up with them billions of dollars later, the banks just pay a small fine and move on to the next scam. This isn’t capitalism. It’s nomadic thievery.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 2, 2010 10:12 am

      And here is Naked Capitalism’s take on the same story

      So Why Isn’t the DoJ After JP Morgan and Goldman for Anti-Competitive Behavior? (Jefferson County Edition)

    • cometman permalink*
      April 2, 2010 11:15 am

      I remember that other link too. Taibbi as always lays the story out very well. Truly infuriating. This would seem to be a case of out and out fraud between the county officials and the bankers, so how in the hell is it that the bankers get away with nothing but a slap on the wrist fine? Rrrrrrrrr.

  10. Stemella permalink*
    April 2, 2010 9:16 am

    McClatchy digs in on Moodys role in the economic crisis

    Where was Moody’s board when top-rated bonds blew up?

    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 2, 2010 11:50 am

      Great article and once again it’s the few decent journalists left who seem to be doing the SEC’s job for them. You’d think the SEC just might want to look into this to see if Warren Buffet maybe saved his fund a buck or two based on privileged info:

      McClatchy also has learned that during this time, as concerns grew about the ratings of complex mortgage-backed securities, two Moody’s executives reached out to the company’s largest shareholder, Buffett, to warn him of problems.

      Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Neb., owned about a fifth of Moody’s shares then. It remains the largest shareholder at around 13 percent last year. A Berkshire spokeswoman declined to comment, but a former Moody’s employee who reached out to Buffett said the investment guru responded that he was a “hands-off” investor.

      But all we get from the SEC is bullshit like this, from an ex-employee.

      “You raise a good question,” said Lynn Turner, a former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission who’s criticized the failure of ratings agencies to see the risks in the failed Houston energy giant Enron Corp., which collapsed in late 2001. “I personally think until law enforcement agencies start holding these boards accountable, the point you’re raising is probably right on target, and you’re probably not going to get a lot of change.”

      Of course Lynn was a high ranking official at one of those enforcement agencies she alludes to so why does it appear she’s just finding out about this now and didn’t do jack shit about it while she was there?

  11. Stemella permalink*
    April 2, 2010 9:33 am

    James Lovelock thinks we are all riding on a ship of fools, because:

    Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change

    Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades. This is the stark conclusion of James Lovelock, the globally respected environmental thinker and independent scientist who developed the Gaia theory.

    It follows a tumultuous few months in which public opinion on efforts to tackle climate change has been undermined by events such as the climate scientists’ emails leaked from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.

    “I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,” said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. “The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful.”

  12. cometman permalink*
    April 2, 2010 11:34 am

    Here’s some pending legislation I just found out about today that bears keeping track of and some more looking into – H.R. 23H.R. 2382: Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2009.

    I’m not sure exactly what it’s about yet, I just saw a notice at the local credit union urging people to call their Congresspeople to oppose it. From what I gather it’s legislation that merchants want in order to keep the fees credit card companies subtract from every transaction fair and down to a dull roar. I have been beating my head against the wall for a week now dealing with a credit card related issue that indirectly involves these exact types of fees. First of all I don’t see how these credit card companies get to charge exorbitant interest to their customers and still get to rake in 2-3% of every single credit card transaction plus smaller transaction fees on top of the interest they’re already making. Well I do see how they can do it – Congress said it was just fine – but it certainly isn’t fair to merchants.

    My specific beef is with chargebacks from credit card companies to merchants. When a customer feels a charge has been unjustly made to their account, they call the issuing bank to complain and the bank simply reverses the transaction and yanks the money from the merchant’s bank account. Often it’s a simple misunderstanding that can be rectified fairly easily but sometimes it is because a customer’s credit card has been stolen and used by somebody else. Here’s the problem. Say a merchant charges a customer $1000 for the goods or services provided. They do not get $1000 deposited to their account, they get about $975 – the original $1000 minus the fees. Yet when it has been determined by the credit card issuing bank that fraud has occurred they credit their customer $1000 and take $1000 back from the merchant, rather than taking back $975 from the merchant and writing off their $25 fee. So what we have here is credit card companies turning a profit on transactions they admit to being fraudulent. Complain to the credit card companies and they’ll tell you it’s just the cost of doing business and yet they refuse to share in that cost. Do that several million times, which they do, and all off a sudden you’re talking about real money being made on the basis of fraud.

    Anyhoo, if anybody happens to run across anything related to this issue or the pending legislation on their travels through the intertubes, please let me know.

  13. cometman permalink*
    April 2, 2010 1:09 pm

    I was wondering how long this would take – Dave Lindorff makes the case for the impeachment of Obama and calls for the heads of Holder, Gates, and Geithner too.

    He doesn’t seem to have any illusions that this will actually happen. Personally, while I’d like to see every elected official who willfully ignores the law thrown out of office and tried on criminal charges, I don’t see how you could impeach anyone from the Obama administration when the Bushies got away scot free.

  14. cometman permalink*
    April 2, 2010 1:35 pm

    When I saw the report a couple days ago that the government would be turning a profit by selling off its shares in Citigroup my bullshit detector went off. Today Dean Baker explains in detail why the government claims are quite likely untrue. Lots of speculation in there since the public has not been allowed to have the pertinent information on all the deals that were concocted, but I think he makes a pretty good case.

    Pam Martens has more on the illegality that allowed Citi to come into being in the first place back in the late 90s.

    She throws in this bit:

    Today, authors of the book, “The Meritocracy Myth,” Stephen J. McNamee and Robert K. Milller have studied meritocracy patterns in America and concluded the following:

    “To get ahead in America, it no doubt helps to be bright, shrewd, to work hard, and to have the right combination of attitudes that maximize success within given fields of endeavor. Playing by the rules, however, probably works to suppress prospects for economic success since those who play by the rules are more restricted in their opportunities to attain wealth and income than those who choose to ignore the rules.”

    If we’re talking about impeaching Bush and Obama, might as well throw Bubba in the mix too. I know, I know, it’s kind of silly to even talk about impeachment and who deserves it and who doesn’t at this point, but fuck ’em all anyway.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 2, 2010 2:30 pm

      While we’re ruminating on impeachment, I put dibs on zombie Raygun. It is really and truly time to put all of his administration’s ideology and theology to deep and final rest. Impeach the unDead! and yes, fuckem all into eternity. … toddy ;)

  15. cometman permalink*
    April 2, 2010 1:46 pm

    I need some help decoding this one – New regulations will put an end to mountaintop mining.

    On its face, it sounds very good. The EPA has issued new standards for what will be allowed in the mining industry which seek to eliminate mountain top removal. It makes me want to say that maybe Obama did something right and didn’t submit to the wishes the big corporations this time. Maybe I will say that, but this part makes me skeptical:

    Lisa Jackson, the head of the Enviromental Protection Agency, said today it is unlikely that valley fills would meet the new standards. “You are talking about either no or very few valley fills that are going to be able to meet standards like this,” she said. “What the science is telling us is that it would be untrue to say you can have any more than minimal valley fill and not see irreversible damage to stream health.”

    It’s only unlikely? Why isn’t it definite? Makes me think there are some weasel words somewhere which will allow the coal companies to do an end around this. Maybe I’m just way too cynical and jaded at this point but it’d be nice if the people making the new standards could tell us definitively if they will stop the practices they are intended to stop. That, plus the fact I haven’t seen too much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the mining industry in the run up to this makes me wonder how happy we should be about this.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 2, 2010 2:24 pm

      That EPA decision does sound good on the face of it. But then there is today’s news, that sounds very bad indeed.

      Environmentalists blast Obama mining rule reversal

      The same week President Barack Obama riled environmentalists with plans for offshore oil drilling, he faces criticism for signaling he will support a Bush-era policy criticized as giving mining companies unlimited access to public lands to dump toxic waste.

      The administration asked a federal judge Tuesday to dismiss a challenge by environmental and community groups to a rule that lifted a restriction on how much public land companies can use. The groups are also challenging a 2008 rule that says companies aren’t required to pay the going rate to use the land.

      Environmentalists said the administration’s decision conflicts with its pledge to overhaul the nearly 140-year-old law regulating the mining of gold, silver and other hard-rock minerals on public land.

      “The Obama administration can’t have it both ways,” said Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment Group in Washington. “Either it stands by its earlier commitment to bringing mining law into the 21st Century, or it continues to allow the industry to dump unlimited toxic waste on public land at the expense of taxpayers and the environment.”

      and another source on this

      Obama stands by Mine Law

      • cometman permalink*
        April 2, 2010 3:36 pm

        Dammit. I was really kind of hoping I was just being too cynical. Put the two stories together and it sounds like mining companies could comply by simply taking the mountaintop they remove and dump it on federal lands instead of in a river. Maybe it won’t foul the river as much but the mountain (and the habitat for everything that was living there) is still gone and a different area gets fouled instead. Sounds like more deckchair/Titanic stuff.

  16. Stemella permalink*
    April 2, 2010 2:34 pm

    Wishing everyone a happy Easter weekend. Remember it’s all about the fertility of spermatozoa and not the zombie jeebus :D

    • cometman permalink*
      April 2, 2010 3:53 pm

      Happy easter to you too!

      On the high holy days (and I do plan some attitude adjustments for the weekend!) it’s worth noting the different ways nations treat their religious charlatans.

      In the US we are supposed to respect them and some even get to run for president.

      In India they get mocked on national TV.

      In Saudi Arabia, they get beheaded. But this gentleman was given a reprieve today at least temporarily so we don’t have to worry about him becoming a zombie yet :P

  17. artemis54 permalink
    April 2, 2010 10:09 pm

    Speaking of the mining law, this is what it has spawned:

    An Ashland environmental group was put on alert earlier this month after a man posted threatening messages on a gold mining Web site suggesting that its members be shot with a high-powered rifle during a hike along the Rogue River.
    . . . .
    The message suggested those who follow discussion threads on the site should show up during the KS Wild hike and confront the group.

    The message then went on to say: “Another take on this is now we know where and when they will be congregated as a group. Out in the woods on their own, hmm sounds like a disaster. If a guy was (angry) enough he could sit up in the woods with a high powered assault rifle and put an end to the whole group in one swift action.”

    Another person under the screen name “Kerbyjack” replied that this would be a “good idea” and that others should show up armed with guns at the time of the KS Wild hike.
    . . . .
    Sexton noted the KS Wild-sponsored hikes are open to everyone and often are joined by families with young children and elderly people looking to explore Southern Oregon’s public lands.

    These idiots interpret “public land” to mean that they can mine on it, blockade roads to keep people from interfering with their activities, divert entire streams on which other people depend, destroy slamon runs, and BLM – the Bureau of Logging and Mining – backs them up.

    Now they are issuing death threats against anyone who happens to walk on public land in hikes sponsored by KS Wild, because KSW has shown the audacity to question their “right” to rape public lands.

    Senator Wyden thinks this has gone too far.

    More from KS Wild, which will proceed with its next schedule hike on April 17 in defiance of these threats.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 5, 2010 7:42 am

      Funny how when it’s a middle aged white guy threatening to blow somebody’s head off it “just a joke” but when the brown people do the same they get hauled into the “justice” system and accused of terrarism.

      I finished that “Monster of God” book over the weekend. You were right – he does have a tendency to wander off topic and start to ramble but overall I really liked it. And I found myself agreeing with his conclusion about the argument that hunting and killing these animals is the only way to preserve them – I do feel it’s tedious every time I hear it but it is very difficult to muster an argument against it the world being what it is. The same shit that goes on with bears in Romania happens in Maine too. I know some people who are official Maine guides that take tourists hunting and that’s what they do here too – bait the bears with donuts and then bring in some rich asshole to shoot one.

  18. Stemella permalink*
    April 5, 2010 8:24 am

    Here’s a good one from TomDispatch

    Afghanistan as a Drug War

    • cometman permalink*
      April 5, 2010 9:25 am

      Amazing. The supply of heroin being produced in Afghanistan is now greater than the entire world demand. The situation there is so completely FUBARed that Karzai is threatening to side with the Taliban. I guess Barry will be making another visit soon to pull a few strings and get his puppet’s mind right.

  19. Stemella permalink*
    April 5, 2010 8:31 am

    In commemoration for the opening of the new BB season

  20. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 9:53 am

    Ha! That was awesome but Doc Ellis is a rank amateur when it comes to playing high. Just one game on acid. Bernie Carbo was a pro.

    Bernie Carbo launched the greatest pinch-hit home run in Red Sox history. He admitted he was high on drugs during the 1975 World Series.

    “I probably smoked two joints, drank about three or four beers, got to the ballpark, took some [amphetamines], took a pain pill, drank a cup of coffee, chewed some tobacco, had a cigarette, and got up to the plate and hit,’’ Carbo said.


    “I played every game high,’’ he said. “I was addicted to anything you could possibly be addicted to. I played the out field sometimes where it looked like the stars were falling from the sky.

    “I played baseball 17 years of my life and I don’t think I ever missed a day of being high, other than when I went to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait [for a baseball clinic] in 1989. And the only reason I didn’t do any drugs there was that I was afraid that I would lose my life.’’

    Shouldn’t make light of him too much since he had a screwed up life and really fucked himself up. But now he found jeebus so it’s all better.

    Anyhoo, Go Sawx! Here’s a little bit of the cheesefest from Fenway last night as they trotted out the real Neil Diamond during their opening day trouncing of the Yanks.

  21. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 10:02 am

    Excellent piece from Chris Floyd again – The Silence of the Liberal Lambs: Outrage at Outliers, Hosannas for State Crime.

    Speaks to exactly why I told those sending me emails last week encouraging me to thank Obama and the Democrats for all their “help” to fuck right the hell off. Here’s the gist of it but definitely worth reading in its entirety:

    Charles Davis (via Jon Schwarz) has an incisive take on the high fluttery flail induced in our imperial courtiers by the latest Tea Party tantrums. Davis demolishes a piece in The Nation by progressive paladin Maria Harris-Lacewell, in which she waxes lyrical — not to nonsensical — about the great threat to “the legitimacy of the state” posed by Tea Partiers disrespecting our elected officials. These acts — spitting, swearing, insulting, shouting, etc. — which might have been considered legitimate expressions of citizen anger (or at least good clean fun) if directed at, say, George Dubya or Dick Nixon, are now to be regarded as — I kid you not — “an act of sedition” when aimed at the ruling party.

    It’s this kind of thing that gives insipid sycophancy a bad name. But Davis is on the case:

    Now, considering that U.S. government imprisons more of its own citizens than any other in the history, with 25 percent of the world’s prisoners; that it has more military bases in more countries than any previous empire in history, and has killed millions of people from Iraq to Vietnam; and that its current head, Barack Obama, is openly targeting for extrajudicial killing Americans and foreigners alike, one might ask: why is a liberal magazine so concerned about this state’s legitimacy?

    Or as Thoreau put it (in a quote that is pretty much the slogan for this blog): “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”

    Couple of additions to things Floyd touches on. NATO has been forced to admit that US forces slaughtered innocent pregnant women in Afghanistan and even tried to remove bullets from the bodies to destroy evidence.

    And since the US evidently needs the world of high finance to keep the wars raging, it has been determined that nobody at AIG was to blame for the collapse that cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Also, Glenn Greenwald has a good post related to Floyd’s – How Americans are propagandized about Afghanistan.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 5, 2010 10:08 am

      One more related article I forgot to put in above – The Ongoing Torture of Syed Fahad Hashmi .

  22. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 10:33 am

    Great. A stranded oil tanker is threatening the Great Barrier Reef. Getting back to the argument discussed in “Monster of God” that we have to commercialize living natural resources in order to preserve them, if the Reef is a boon to the tourism of Australia, why are there shipping lanes anywhere near the Reef to begin with? It’s a huge reef ferchrissakes, of course ships are going to run aground on it and it’s kind of hard to miss.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 5, 2010 10:57 am

      Australia is utterly negligent – as usual – in failing to demand the tankers be piloted by crews familiar with the lanes. The Chinese ship was ten miles outside its assigned shipping lane.

  23. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 10:40 am

    No wonder the Pentagon hates wikileaks. They just released previously classified footage of the US gunning down civilians in Iraq.

    Interesting that if you click on a couple of the links in the article you get this message:

    “Wikileaks leaked video of Civilians killed in Baghdad – Full video”
    This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community.
    To view this video or group, please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up.

    Wonder which youtube users it was who flagged this as inappropriate? {waves to NSA}

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 5, 2010 11:00 am

      I ran across a youtube of Janis Ian singing Johhny We Hardly Knew Ya that was tagged that way. It is illustrated with photos of soldier amputees etc that would get a standing ovation at a GOP convention when framed as the heroes etc.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 5, 2010 3:18 pm

      Evidently CommonDreams changed their source for the link above since I originally posted it. Now it links to a Guardian/UK article on the story so the links within the article I had mentioned are no longer there. IIRC, it was a Rachel Maddow piece that was there earlier today, but all the relevant info is the same.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 6, 2010 7:21 am

      I just looked at the youtube link this morning. Yesterday when I first watched it, it listed apx 35o views. It now lists over 1.2 million! The story was mostly ignored by the MSM. There is a story about it at the Guardian, but here the miner story and Tiger Woods’ latest wood will supercede it.

      This is what happens when the Masters of War call the Geneva Conventions quaint and Abu Ghraib a handful of bad apples. War is now a videogame for criminal profiteers and the morally bankrupt.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 6, 2010 7:58 am

        I did a search for the video late last night and it’s been posted all over the place on the internet so people are getting a look at it. I also switched the TV over to ESPN briefly last night to catch some scores and saw on the screen crawl that Tiger Woods was apologizing to people AGAIN and couldn’t figure out why. Perhaps it is a deliberate distraction like so many other non-stories we get forced on us.

        In case Tiger Woods stops by here :P, here’s the statement I’d like to see him make – “I fucked up but it’s really none of your damn business. I’m already filthy rich and I don’t need any more money so I’m not going to publicly apologize for jack shit and bore you all silly just so I can keep the corporate endorsements and I don’t give a shit if Nike’s sales drop because of it”. Then I’d like to see him go out and kick everybody’s ass at the Masters and every other tournament he enters. Maybe moon the camera when he’s done and really piss of all the stodgy old crackers at Augusta.

        • Stemella permalink*
          April 6, 2010 8:14 am

          Haha! You really ought to take over his PR campaign now that he has both hired and fired Ari Fleicher. Your approach would be most enjoyable! :)

          Back to the Wikileaks story, the LA Times is now reporting that an,

          Iraqi journalists’ group calls for investigation of deadly US shooting caught on tape

          Let’s just see how accountable and transparent BarryO is going to be on this one, shall we? Not holding breath in the mean time.

  24. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 10:59 am

    The bankers get their bailouts tout de suite but Congress isn’t in nearly such a hurry to help out those who lost their jobs because of the actions of those bankers as they allow unemployment benefits to expire before heading off to recess to raise some more money for themselves from the bankers and other plutocrats. Supposedly it’s Coburn holding things up singlehandedly this time and the dithering Dems want everyone to know they are really really mad. Of course not so mad as to actually do anything about it. And what the fuck is this from Coburn:

    “The legitimate debate is whether we borrow and steal from our kids or we get out of town and send the bill to our kids for something that we’re going to consume today,” Coburn said on the Senate floor.

    Uh, without any cash in their wallets it may be mommy and daddy stealing from their kids’ piggy bank today just to buy them something to eat today, you fucking asshole.

  25. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 12:12 pm

    Neat-O. Some bug-eyed candy.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 6, 2010 7:24 am

      Stunning photos. Except for the fly. Even garlands of diamond dew drops are only lipstick on a pig in the case of the fly. The dragonflies, however, were spectacular.

  26. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 12:18 pm

    Check out this post by Ken Silverstein. The very some corrupt sons-of-bitches who railroaded Don Seigelman in Alabama are now helping the Republican governor stop electronic bingo, whatever the hell that is, because the governor gets big campaign money from the native -American casinos and doesn’t want the competition. The state senate voted to let the people decide by referendum if they wanted this bingo to be allowed or not and the governor has started a federal investigation over it. Silverstein explains:

    In others words, Justice Department attorneys were threatening legislators against enacting the referendum measure.

    Just one more example of how absolutely fucked this entire country is.

  27. artemis54 permalink
    April 5, 2010 1:08 pm

    Dylan Rantagain is playing the Wikileaks video on his show. He also has a Wikileak guy on promising more, including one of 97 people killed in a similar incident in Afganistan.

    Dylan bores me to tears normally, but good on him today.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 5, 2010 1:44 pm

      Well that was a brief honeymoon. Now he’s off on some ridiculous gee-whiz “missing link” fossil story.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 5, 2010 3:26 pm

      Glad to hear this is getting mention other than just on the intertubes.

  28. cometman permalink*
    April 5, 2010 3:44 pm

    A few weeks ago The Nation ran the following cover story about the willingness of big environmental groups like the Sierra Club cooperate with and accept funding from corporate interests – The Wrong Kind of Green.

    This week they published the responses to the article from several big environmental groups like the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy,Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity,, and others as well as a response from the author Johann Hari.

    Here’s a link to the letters. Not sure if this link is hidden behind a subscription wall or not but if you can’t access them all and would like to read it let me know and I’ll copy and paste them. I was pretty impressed with Hari’s response since he did not back down one iota from what he wrote in the original article so I’ll include that in full. For accuracy’s sake, I’ll note that the web versions of the letters are slightly different than the print version since the Nation edited and abridged the letters for the actual magazine, but the gist is the same.

    It is simply a fact that Jay Hair kick-started the process of environmental groups partnering with and taking money from the world’s worst polluters. It is also a fact that this process has been taken much further by other groups like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, and has ended with their missions becoming deeply corrupted, in ways I described in great detail in my article. This account of what has happened is not just my view–it’s the view of America’s most distinguished climate scientist, Professor James Hansen, the whistler-blower Christine MacDonald, and of virtually all the environmental groups that don’t take money from polluters.

    I am perfectly prepared to accept that Hair was a fine person in his personal life and had some positive motives. Of course his early death is tragic. But many people who have made harmful misjudgments have also had some some admirable achievements in their lives. In public debate, we have to be able to expose the harm they did and show how it continues, or we cannot make sense of the world and prevent even more harm. Is John Adams seriously suggesting that since the dead cannot answer us, we should hold back in our criticism of their actions? How could any serious discussion of how the world came to be as it is take place under such an omertà?

    The apology Leah Hair demands is in fact due from the “green” groups who have chosen to take polluter cash and have betrayed their own mission. If she wishes to preserve the best of her husband’s legacy rather than the worst, she should direct her anger at them–rather than at journalists honestly describing how this corruption began.

    Rather than engage with the serious issues I raised, Carl Pope sadly plays the old politician’s trick of denying charges I did not make. Where did I say the Sierra Club doesn’t oppose coal? Nowhere. In fact, I did the opposite, writing that “there is an inspiring grassroots movement against coal power plants in the United States, supported by the Sierra Club.”

    I went on to describe some plain facts–that under his leadership, the Sierra Club vehemently opposed a lawsuit to force the US government’s policies into line with climate science by returning us to 350ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Pope doesn’t even try to justify this in his response, even though it was the most serious criticism of the club in my article.

    The Center for Biological Diversity describes this behavior accurately as throwing “climate science out the window,” and Jim Hansen–the very man Pope waves as a papal authority–describes it as “shocking” and “abominable.” So, yes, the Sierra Club opposes coal in many places and at many times–but it is a matter of record that when there was a lawsuit to ensure the dramatic scale- back we need to preserve a safe climate, they lined up with former Bush administration members to mock and condemn it. I would like to hear Pope offer a serious explanation, rather than name-calling about Lewis Carroll.

    Pope also gives an account of the Clorox scandal that is contradicted by his own staff. As Christine MacDonald exposes in her book Green, Inc., the company approached Pope and said they would give the Sierra Club a cut of their profits if they could use the club’s logo and brand on their new range of cleaning products. MacDonald reports that Pope gave the go-ahead without making a rigorous effort to check they were genuinely more green than their competitors. The club’s own toxics committee co-chair, Jessica Frohman, was very clear about this, saying: “We never approved the product line.”

    It is a disturbing example of how corporate cash has perverted the behavior of even as admirable a green group as the Sierra Club–and may be the reason why Pope is being replaced with a leader from the more serious and science-based wing of the environmental movement. Its members certainly deserve better than this.

    If there are so many “inaccuracies” in my description of TNC, why can’t they name a single one? Do they think the banal propaganda they link to is an answer?

    Yet this is not the only glaring hole in these responses (apart, of course, from the arguments of Greenpeace, who refuses polluter cash). Do none of these people feel any concern that the leading environmental groups in America are hoovering up cash from the worst polluters and advocating policies that fall far short of what scientists say we need to safely survive the climate crisis? Do they really think there is nothing to discuss here?

    If we are going to avoid catastrophe it’s going to take people like Hari who are not willing to compromise when compromise means extinction for so many species.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 6, 2010 3:58 am

      You won’t go wrong following the money. Some other problems with the big box groups, as I see it:

      They are not nearly transparent enough.

      There is a top heaviness, an inner circle pulling the strings.

      They aren’t honest about biodiversity issues. This ranges from an over reliance on the church of cute instead of talking about the fact, say, that the sea bottom is being vacuumed to a state of total sterility, because it isn’t cute, to oh god, maybe the beaver situation in Tierra del Fuego. It is crucial that they be eradicated, and one of the groups is even helping. It may be Defenders of Wildlife, I’m not sure. But the point is they won’t come forward and talk about it, because it might offend the cutesy brigade.

      If you regard the public as idiots, maybe you ought to put a little more into education.

      These orgs are too much like churches. There isn’t nearly enough lively criticism from the deeper green side of the spectrum, or from any direction except idiots like Hannity et al.

      One of the few who is consistently on their ass is Glen Barry. He can and does go on at book length about Greenpeace’s shortcomings in particular.

  29. cometman permalink*
    April 6, 2010 8:11 am

    This may be just a political ploy, but a conservative MP is promising to re-open the investigation into Dr. David Kelley’s death. For any of our vast readership unfamiliar with Kelly, he accused the British government of lying in the run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq and when he was found dead soon after it was ruled a suicide.

  30. Stemella permalink*
    April 6, 2010 8:22 am

    C-man, do you have anything new to post, or should I put up a new open thread this morning? We’re up to 60 on this one.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 6, 2010 8:41 am

      I was just looking around to see if I could find something to turn into a post but so far I’ve got nothing. Go ahead and put up a new thread if you have one.

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